Bright Red Poppies

As he turned the key in his front door, Jack paused.

Even though he had returned alone to his home thousands of times, today was different. Today his colleague and best friend had died.

Adjusting the brown supermarket bag in his arms, he pushed the door open with his foot, walked in and kicked it shut again. He moved straight to the kitchen and dumped his load on the dining table.

Picking the bunch of bright red poppies from the bag,  Jack moved toward the living room. Stopping abruptly, he turned back to the kitchen and removed a vase from under the kitchen sink, one he had kept from a lifetime ago when he was still married. Filling it three quarters full with water, he removed the meagre wrapping from the flowers. Placing them in the vase, he took it through the living room and onto the deck.

Poppies for the fallen war dead. And he did consider Daniel a casualty of war. When he bought them, the intent was to put them on Daniel’s grave. Until he remembered - there would be no grave, no stone, no Daniel.

He placed them on the steps leading off the deck, where Daniel would often sit talking over a recent mission with him, drinking lager or a glass of wine. Turning on his heel, he went back inside, to return a short time later with a bottle of Guinness. He raised his bottle to the ether. “Cheers, Danny.”

Taking a few large gulps, he thought over the last day. His strongest memory, where his emotions were stark to him, was when he recalled calmly sending Daniel off through the gate - to god, or Oma, knows where. Descending the steps into his yard, he walked to the centre of his lawn as he tried to unravel the thoughts in his head. ‘Why? Why did Daniel ask me? Me!?’

Standing still, he looked up. “Why? Why’d you ask me to let you go?”

Taking another big gulp from the bottle, swallowing hard, he closed his eyes and went over their hard fought, and won, friendship. He guessed that he was, after all, Daniel’s closest friend, despite or because of their differences. They could be honest with each other - to a fault. But, honesty is the bedrock of all relationships. ‘So, honestly, why?’

And as he stood there, bottle held loosely in one hand, hand in pocket, face tilted to the sky with his eyes shut, he felt a warmth. Beginning on his face, it spread from the centre of his chest right to the tips of his fingers and toes.

‘Of course. Love. You ask the one you love to let you go.’

As the bottle slipped through his fingers, Jack gasped before sinking to his knees. He loved Daniel. Oh, god, he loved Daniel and Daniel was dead. A quiet sob escaped his lips before he could bite it back. Opening his eyes as the tears fell, he took a shaky breath and at that moment, knew that he had to find Daniel.

The anger he felt at not being in on the secret Daniel had kept from him was nothing compared to how he felt at his own denial. “You might be dead, but I’m gonna find you, you sonovabitch!” 

Roughly scrubbing at his eyes, he looked for his beer. Seeing the liquid slowly chugging out on to the grass, he snatched the bottle up. “And you owe me a beer!”

~*~

 

Striding into General Hammond’s office the next day, Jack practically demanded that his team be left on mission rotation. Hammond had expected nothing less, even though he did not understand the real reason. Then, he sought out the remaining members of SG1 to tell them personally, something he owed his 2IC.

When Jack was caught by Carter on the way to the men’s locker room, still angry, he denied his feelings to her. He was the leader of SG1 and second in command of this base and he did not need to explain himself to anyone!

~*~

 

He had no expectations of that first Daniel-less mission, but following such a potentially disastrous assignment, he was beginning to doubt. How could he possibly chase down a ghost?

As the elevator doors opened and ‘Daniel’ breezed by, Jack heard the declaration just for his ears.

‘I’ll be back’.

And he smiles for the first time in days.

~*~

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.