Broca’s Legacy: The Continuation

 

"Kids you all set?"

"Indeed O'Neill, I am looking forward to seeing your world."

"Well you'll get a great view of the blurry scenery as you fly by it in Jack’s truck." Daniel said.

"Well that solves the problem of who gets to sit shotgun." Jack said smugly, patting Teal'c on the shoulder as the four of them stepped into the elevator.

With everyone inside, Jack pressed the button and up they went. Silence ensued for the short journey. Jack looked around at his motley crew. If he didn’t know better, Jack could swear Teal’c looked anxious. Jack then realised maybe he didn’t know better and decided to leave the poor guy alone. Moving onto Carter, Jack didn’t have a chance to gauge her mood before Daniel, bemused as ever, continued their previous conversation.

"I've got my own car," Daniel paused, “it wasn't towed or something while I've been stuck here has it?" He asked looking a little panicked.

A slap to his face would be way too obvious right now, so Jack settled with a tight smile and a wink in Daniel’s direction. Before they knew it the elevator pinged and the doors opened. They had arrived at Norad.

"No Daniel, it's still here, but I don't think Janet's cleared you to drive yet." Sam clarified. She knew that if she didn’t the Colonel was going to completely embarrass Daniel by spelling it out to him in the most condescending way.

With a look of concentration mixed with befuddlement Daniel and the others made the short walk down the corridor to the second elevator. Jack found it very amusing that someone as bright as Daniel could possibly get confused over something so simple. He’d just been temporarily released from the infirmary after contracting some alien virus from being beaten to a pulp by the ‘Touched’ for crying out loud, what exactly did he expect?

"It's alright Danny, we understand." Jack landed a commiserating hand on Daniel's shoulder pushing him out of the elevator car, once it stopped, and into the parking garage.

Daniel didn't understand, but let it go for the moment. "So what are we going to do tonight?"

"I was thinking take-out and a movie."

"What kind of movie?" Daniel's eyes narrowed suspiciously. He doubted very much that he and Jack had the same tastes in entertainment.

"I don't know, what's good?" Jack looked to Daniel.

"I don't know. I've been dead for a year." Daniel deadpanned, they both looked to Sam.

"I don't know either." Sam wasn't expecting the sudden attention. They both gave her a funny look, which she met with a glare. She’d been cooped up in the Pentagon for the past two years working on getting the damn Stargate project off the ground; she hadn't exactly had the time to take in the movie of the week.

"You know, I don't think its just Teal'c who needs educating in Earth’s culture." Jack said looking between both Sam and Daniel.

"Oh, and what's your excuse Jack?" Daniel asked.

"I'm old Daniel. I don't need to keep up with all the new trends."

"What about ‘Alien’?" Sam supplied thoughtfully as they strolled to their respective cars.

Jack and Daniel both glared at her.

"The first one?" Daniel screwed his face up in thought.

Jack transferred his glare to Daniel. "Daniel?"

"What?"

Jack gave both Carter and Daniel a disbelieving stare. "Don't you think that film might be a tad inappropriate?" This comment was met with identical blank looks. "The whole snake jumping out of the gut thing." Jack proceeded to demonstrate with hand actions, reaching forward and pretending to grab Daniel's face.

Daniel flinched back from the mock attack, ducking so he was standing slightly behind Teal'c. "It wasn't a snake Jack it just looked like one, and besides I don't think Teal'c will find it all that strange considering."

Teal'c simply raised his left eyebrow. He guessed he was observing some strange Tau’ri behaviour as O'Neill proceeded to chase Daniel Jackson around his person. He looked to Captain Carter for assistance, but she merely shook her head, her expression telling him not to be concerned.

"Okay, we'll decide when we get there shall we. Now, what are we going to do about food?"

"Chinese." Sam and Daniel chorused together.

"Something I should know?"

"Jack, we're just hungry can we go?" Daniel bounced by the passenger door of Jack's truck.

"Patience Daniel, we've still got to swing by your place and pick you up some stuff. Hop in." Jack unlocked and opened the back door and waited while Daniel scrambled into the back seat. "Carter, you can find your way to my place right?"

"Yes Sir, I'll stop off and pick up a movie."

"I trust you."

Sam smiled to herself as she climbed into her own car and got ready to leave. Never in her career as an Air Force Officer did she think she’d be, not only invited, but also expected, to attend what would normally be a boy's night out.

Jack climbed in the driver's side of his truck and watched Carter pull out of the garage. Teal'c was sitting in the passenger seat next to him and upon checking his rear view mirror Jack could see Daniel lying across the length of the backseat. "Okay kids, belt up!"

Daniel sat up straight and clicked his belt into place and started to make up for his silence over the past few days. "So Teal'c, what do you think of the outside so far?" Daniel asked with some enthusiasm, gazing out of the window.

"So far it is much like Chulak." Teal'c answered, watching Jack intently as he manoeuvred the vehicle out of the garage.

"Really?" Daniel perked up and directed his gaze toward the front seat.

"For cryin' out loud Daniel, we're still in the mountain…and it's dark!" Jack could barely contain his grin when he looked in his rear view mirror again and saw Daniel actually thinking it over.

"Oh right, of course, well we'll just have to take you out during the day next time Teal'c."

"I shall look forward to that Daniel Jackson."

Daniel was about to say something else when a wrenching cough took over his body.

"You okay?" Jack asked once it was over, not overly concerned, he was getting used to Daniel hacking his guts up very few minutes.

"Oh, fine, fine." Daniel drawled, this was one of his sarcastic 'what do you think?' ‘I'm fines' that he'd heard much of over the past few days while Daniel recovered from his virus, so Jack let it pass.

The three chatted non-stop until they reached Daniel's place, at least Daniel chatted non-stop interspersed with coughing fits, with Teal'c and Jack listening, in Jack's case half listened.

They pulled up outside Daniel's apartment, if you could call it that. Daniel had found it and put a deposit down before Jack could pass judgement. The only redeeming quality was it was only 15 minutes from his house, at least he wouldn't be too far away if he was needed, which Jack guessed, would be pretty often. Jack made a mental note to sit Daniel down again and remind him that he wasn't some poor lowly grad student anymore and that the generous wage the Air Force was paying him could be put to better uses.

"Jack, why are we doing this again? I could just get a lift from Sam later." Daniel said, climbing over the back seat to exit out of the door next to the pavement. Daniel could never keep things simple.

"Fraiser only let you out under my supervision, technically your still under medical care."

"Your supervision?"

"Yeees." Jack drawled, contemplating that he might find it easier communicating with Daniel using one of those dead languages, because English obviously wasn't one he knew well.

"Do you know how that sounds?"

"Daniel, tonight you are my responsibility. Translate that as you will." Jack said smiling brightly at Daniel's indignation. He should just consider himself lucky that he hadn't been around when he'd asked Fraiser if it would be okay to take Daniel out tonight. She had actually used the 'B' word.

"Well anywhere's better than the infirmary, I guess." He commented.

"Which basically means you shouldn't be left to your own devices for any length of time." Jack added completely ignoring the wisecrack.

"You make me sound like some juvenile delinquent."

"If the shoe fits." Daniel glared at him through the truck’s half open window, clearly threatening to slam the door.

"I will accompany you Daniel Jackson." Teal'c broke the staring contest, exited the vehicle, and joined Daniel on the sidewalk.

"Excellent idea, Teal'c. I'll be back in ten, gonna get the food." Jack pulled off and rejoined the traffic before anyone, namely Daniel, could question him.

"If he thinks he can get Chinese in ten minutes on a Saturday night he's more delusional than I thought." Teal'c didn't reply, not that Daniel had expected him to. Teal'c very rarely spoke unless asked a direct question. "So, shall we."

Daniel turned on the spot and faced his building like a warrior facing his worst enemy, taking a deep breath of the chilly Colorado air before strolling diligently toward the double doors.

Teal'c followed in his wake a moment later, arms clasped firmly behind his back, taking in the noise of the street and the variety of electrical lighting that was present. He hadn't said anything, but he was intrigued with the world of the Tau’ri so far. Unsure what he had expected, he was certain this was not it. The worlds he had visited as first prime were usually primitive. Small villages where farmers worked the fields and women cared for the children and the home. On the drive over he had seen endless roads crowed with dwellings. Some small with only one storey, most tall like the one he stood outside of now, built of strange materials. People were walking up and down, passing him by without a second glance, where he usually engendered fear and awe. On the Goa’uld worlds there were always palaces with a sense of grandeur, and in the towns there was order and a style neatly followed. Here everyone, everything he saw seemed to have a style of its own. Nothing really fitting into any particular order that he could determine. If he had to find a word to describe the world of the Tau’ri, the very people who would liberate the Jaffa, it would be Chaos.

"How are you finding," Daniel paused as one of his neighbours walked by, "living…here…so far?" He finished awkwardly, arriving at the elevator only to discover it was out of order. "You know I should have let Jack find me a place like he wanted to." He mumbled into his chest, following it quickly with a sigh.

"I am finding it rather unsettling."

"Huh?"

"Life among the Tau'ri is very different to that which I am accustomed."

"Oh. I guess leaving your home, the only life you've ever known, for a strange land would be rather unsettling. I'm sorry." Daniel directed them toward the stairs and started climbing them two at time.

"For what are you apologising, Daniel Jackson?"

"Well, I should have thought, I could have done something to make this easier on you. I understand what it’s like."

"I will adjust in time, do not concern yourself." Teal’c followed Daniel’s steps at a more leisurely and controlled pace, making the same distance using less than half the effort.

"That's hard to do." Daniel tossed over his shoulder. He was slowing to a snail’s pace, all his energy depleted by the time he reached his front door. Though surprisingly he hadn't broken down into a crippling coughing fit on the floor, which was a bonus.

"So I have noticed."

Daniel gave him a quizzical look, Teal'c knew he had just confused him and took pride in that knowledge for reasons he could not explain and decided he’d mention it to O'Neill later. He had never met anyone like this young man before.

Daniel continued to struggle with the door, the key was in the lock, but it still wouldn't open. Teal'c was quickly losing patience and, pushing Daniel gently aside, with one swift movement forced the door into submission.

"Whoa." Daniel exclaimed when Teal'c managed to open the door with only the palm of his hand, when all of Daniel's body weight still couldn't accomplish the task. "That's actually quite impressive." He stated mildly, crossing the threshold, and shouting back over his shoulder that he'd only be a minute before entering his bedroom.

Teal'c remained in the doorway for a moment, surveying the terrain like a good warrior. That was something Teal'c noticed about Daniel Jackson, he rarely took stock of a situation before inserting himself into it. Entering rooms blindly without caution, rarely watching where he was going. It was a clear sign of a lack of guidance. Teal'c would ask O'Neill about that also.

Deeming it safe Teal'c entered the apartment and looked around. Daniel could be heard dropping things in the other room. There was a clumsy muttering of foreign sounding words followed each loud thud. There was very little furniture and even fewer personal belongings. He found this odd. His room on the military base looked like more of a home than this. Cardboard boxes lay open in the middle of the vast space, a few items, what appeared to be books lay on the floor. Teal'c bent down and retrieved one of the books, and upon opening realised these were not books like he had ever seen before. This one had the cover of a book on the outside, but inside it's pages were filled with shiny pictures, most appeared to be old with the corners bent and a few torn, a broad mixture of colour and black and white. Teal'c had never seen such items before.

Daniel appeared at his side and Teal'c was surprised he had not heard the young man approach, the picture book having distracted him to an unacceptable point.

"Those are photographs. They’re images of the past." Daniel stated, leaning over the Jaffa's large arm to see what he was holding. "Did you have anything like that on Chulak?"

"We did not, the Goa'uld keep their magic a secret from those who serve them."

"It's not magic Teal'c." Daniel said astounded at how a man as intelligent as Teal'c could possibly believe it was.

"I understand, however this is how it would be perceived. Are these 'photographs' images of your past Daniel Jackson?"

The sudden question and change of topic took Daniel by surprise, which always left him open and vulnerable. He answered before he could think about it. "Those are actually photographs my parents took."

"Your parents?"

"Err, yeah, it's all I really have left of them. I wouldn't have even had that if Jack hadn't kept my stuff for me after I went to Abydos." Daniel continued idly for a moment forgetting there was anyone else in the room.

Teal'c blanched at the mention of the planet where he committed his first crime against the people who now called him friend. Daniel hadn't noticed since he'd swiftly moved on and was fussing with something in the kitchen.

"I don't know why he kept them, since I certainly wasn't planning on coming back, but I'm glad he did."

"Did you not find it unsettling to leave your home Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c was beginning to realise he shared a lot more in common with the young Tau’ri than he originally thought.

"Actually, I've never really felt like I've ever had a home. I’ve always felt somewhat out of place here, you know?" Daniel gave a self-depreciating laugh. "Of course you do. Just ignore me I'm tired, I tend to ramble."

"As you wish Daniel Jackson."

"You can just call me Daniel if you’d like." Daniel said, his voice fading once again as he re-entered the bedroom.

Teal'c had learned a lot about Daniel Jackson during the last few minutes, more than he thought the young man would normally have allowed. This child was more kind to him than Teal'c believed he deserved under the circumstances.

"Okay, I'm ready, we better get back downstairs. Jack doesn’t like to be kept waiting."

Teal’c longed to ask more questions but Daniel's strength had been waning since their arrival and it now looked as if he might drop at any moment. Teal'c was well aware O'Neill had had to 'make a deal' as Jack had put it, with the Doctor for Daniel's temporary release. What exactly the deal involved Teal'c was unsure, but obviously O'Neill believed it worth his while.

They made their way back down the stairs together in silence, interspersed with Daniel's coughing as the exercise became too much.

"About Damn time, where the hell have you been?" Jack grated the minute Daniel swung his bag onto the backseat, dragging himself in a moment later.

Teal'c got in on the other side and, once seated, noted he still held Daniel Jackson’s photographs in his hand. "Daniel Jackson I must return this to your residence."

Daniel stopped Teal'c before he could get out of the truck again. "It's okay Teal'c keep it for a bit, there's a lot of pictures of other countries in there too. Pictures might be all you see of other countries for quite some time if Jack has anything to do with it."

"Hey, you wanna walk?" Jack eyed Daniel in mirror.

Daniel answered with a falsely sweet smile. Jack tisked the image being reflected back at him and pulled out into traffic once again. By the time they'd arrived at Jack's house Daniel had passed out on the back seat and Sam was already parked in the driveway.

"Carter, you been waiting long?"

"No Sir." She smiled as Jack got out of the driver’s seat and tossed her the keys.

"Let you and Teal'c in, I've got sleeping beauty here. Ride was obviously too exciting for him."

Jack swung open the back passenger door. "Yo, Daniel!"

"Hmm?"

"Move it Daniel, that's an order."

Daniel's laugh gradually turned into a cough, but he still refrained from opening his eyes. He was laying on the back seat of Jack’s truck again, which was surprisingly comfortable. It wasn't until he felt arms circling around his chest that Daniel conceded he best make the required effort and move into the house.

"What did we get?" Jack asked, dragging a half-asleep Daniel into the house with him.

Sam tossed Colonel O’Neill the cassette box and smiled wickedly.

Jack grinned too once he opened it. Teal'c hovered in the living area, taking in the stark contrast between Jack's rather plush abode compared to Daniel's disorganised, sterile one.

"Jack, I'm staving." Daniel yawned, breaking free of Jack’s hold and knuckling his reddened eyes as he entered the kitchen in search of food.

"Daniel, get back here and sit down before you fall down." Jack chastised before running back out to fetch the food.

Daniel did as he was told again, setting a new record. Jack was in mild shock when he walked back in and made a mental note that an ill Daniel was a surprisingly compliant Daniel. Funny, Jack had imagined him to be the whiny, tantrum type – though maybe they'd already passed that stage and were well into the 'too sick to care otherwise', stage.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Jack slumped into his chair opposite the TV. The food had been good and the movie surprisingly amusing, though he was sure Teal'c was going to have lots of questions. Daniel even managed to enjoy himself and stop that over active brain of his for a couple of hours. Now the planned part of the evening was over they moved into the more relaxed, getting to know each other part. Everyone had had a drink and was feeling very mellow.

"So you'll be - what?" Jack asked astounded.

"I will turn 98 in 40 of your days." Teal’c said.

"Wow. Well, Jack, you can't use the ‘I'm too old’ excuse anymore." Jack swatted Daniel upside the head, eliciting an 'ow' from him.

"Respect your elders." He chastised playfully.

"That's amazing, so the symboite must extend the human life span dramatically." Sam was in awe of the science behind it all and ignored the Jack/ Daniel interplay going on around her.

“Indeed.”

"Okay, so now we know Teal'c's dirty secret how ‘bout you Daniel?" Jack took a sip of his beer and casually leaned back in his chair.

"Oh, no…no dirty secrets I'm afraid."

"Come on you must have some?"

"No I – I err…"

"Fine I'll save you for later…Carter!"

“None here either, sir.” Sam winked at Daniel.

“Oh no, you two are not joining forces.”

“Okay,” Sam sat forward on her chair, wondering if she was going to regret telling her team this. “I, ah, didn’t like my drill sergeant in basic training and he REALLY didn’t like me. One night, towards the end of basic, I saw him crossing the quadrangle and I, ah, tied him to a tree.”

“Come on, Carter, it couldn’t have been as simple as that.” Jack prompted

“Well, no. He’d been riding me for days otherwise I would have never even thought of doing anything so stupid.”

“And how big was this guy, Sam.” Daniel asked.

“Your basic small tank Master Sergeant.” Sam replied with a wicked grin.

“You go girl.” Jack cheered, mentally laughing at the image, but being very careful not to let his humour show too much.

“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said. “I have been informed it was you who opened the Stargate for the Tau’ri.”

Daniel, still sitting on the floor by Jack’s feet, immediately looked to the ground before speaking with a smile. “It was a team effort really.”

“Now Danny, don’t be modest, I was there, remember, when you strolled in and basically erased two years worth of work and rewrote it in a matter of minutes.” Jack then added, “No offence Carter, you did get it to spin.”

“None taken sir.”

“It didn’t happen exactly like that.” Daniel hedged.

Jack addressed Teal’c. “I tell you, he didn’t even know about the ‘gate to start with and he still figured out what it did and got it to work before anyone else.”

Daniel smiled some more, keeping his gaze firmly on the coffee table in front of him with only the occasional glance upward. Jack was still talking, telling everyone about how he solved the mystery in two weeks, how he had just strolled into that briefing like he was addressing a bunch of his college students instead of some of the most important people in the military.

He listened to Jack as he moved on to that first trip through the ‘gate. Daniel was beginning to think he detected a hint of pride in Jack’s voice.

“You want another?”

“Huh?”

“Drifting off there, Daniel?” Jack poked him in the arm. “You really are a light weight aren’t you?” He laughed, pushing himself out of his chair and walking into the kitchen to get another round for everyone.

Daniel mentally shook himself, thinking either the beer was going straight to his head – or Janet slipped him something into his last injection.


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

After Sam had left, taking Teal'c with her back to the base, Jack went about clearing up, Daniel was half asleep on his couch. Yes, Daniel could’ve gone back to base tonight. He knew that would have been easier. It would have made Doc much happier, but his aim tonight was to make Daniel happier. Though he was sure Daniel would have preferred staying at his own place, hell hole or not, like Daniel said himself – anywhere’s better than the infirmary.

"Yo Daniel! You awake?"

"Yeah…yeah...I'm awake." Daniel replied dryly.

Daniel stood, collected the glasses in front of him and then wandered into the kitchen.

"I know I've said this before but thanks for letting me stay before. I really didn't like the idea of living at the mountain until they declared me 'Living' again so I could get a place of my own."

"Yeah, when it comes to re-animating the dead the military can be a bit slow with the paper work." Jack joked, eyeing Daniel with a warm smile. He'd actually enjoyed having the company for a change. "How is the new place, got everything unpacked?"

"Um, not really all that much to unpack. I suppose I'll have to get used to buying stuff again."

What Daniel didn't know was that while he had slept in the car, Teal'c had inquired as to why Daniel's apartment was not properly furnished and why his belongings still remained in boxes.

The photo album had been an eye opener from what he'd glanced at on the drive over. A few pictures of a small blond boy – which Jack assumed was Daniel, along with several pictures of an older man and woman – Daniel's parents. The majority of pictures filling the dated book were of pyramids or, as Jack had put it to Teal’c, ‘things not found in America’. A strange family photo album, if that was what it was. Seemed more like a catalogue of finds, with the odd candid shot thrown in.

"Well if you need anything, just ask okay?" Jack said, a faint hope that Daniel would take him up on the offer, sooner rather than later. Living like you expect to be evicted any day was not healthy.

"Thanks.” Daniel pulled himself up onto the counter. “For everything, I'm not sure what else I'd have done."

"No problem." Jack spoke with finality. He could tell Daniel was unlikely to stop the thanks until he acknowledged him outwardly, without any joking. Although he had reminded Jack of something he'd been meaning to ask the boy wonder.

"That reminds me, Daniel; General Hammond wants to go over a cover story with you before you contact anyone. I'm sorry we hadn't even got around to it until just after the last briefing but...stuff got in the way…" stuff like contracting alien diseases, getting the crap beat out of you by your commanding officer – Jack was going to feel guilty about that one for a while. "We'll do it tomorrow promise."

Jack finished putting the dishes in the washer and stood to smile at Daniel. His smile turned to confusion when he saw Daniel's blank look, it was like the light was on, but there was definitely no one home. Knowing Daniel wasn't as thick as he looked right now Jack dismissed it, putting it down to tiredness. Getting used to Air Force hours was just another one of those things Daniel had to adjust too, that along with sleeping at night, managing not to involving himself in every incident going and only speaking when asked a direct question. It was only a matter of time now before General Hammond cracked under the annoying persistence that is Daniel.

Jack found it all very amusing because Teal'c had settled in quite easily, Jaffa soldiers apparently weren’t all that different when all said and done. Teal'c had even taken it upon himself to teach Daniel some basic self-defence techniques. Jack allowed it, since a. Daniel definitely needed to know something about self-preservation, and b. it kept Daniel out of trouble. It wasn’t like Daniel couldn’t be trusted, but you didn’t want to leave him to his own devices for a too prolonged period of time. So when he stumbled upon the two of them making nice in the gym a couple of week’s back Jack figured it couldn’t hurt. And he’d admit, at first, he'd been rather hesitant to simply hand Daniel over to the newly reformed first prime. Then after a few more lessons Jack could see just how good it was – for both of them. Teal’c kept Daniel occupied and together they built up a rapport like no one would ever have believed. Things had been going well with his team, until the Touched happened…

After a moment’s pause for thought Daniel answered him. "Oh right, sorry. I hadn’t thought about it either, no rush really, no one to tell it to." He finished with a nervous laugh.

"No one to tell you're not dead?" Jack found that hard to believe. "What about your foster parents? I know it might be a bit of a shock to them, but I'm sure they'd be happy to know you're alive and well." Jack laughed off Daniel's comment thinking it was just another Daniel thing – kid was weird like that.

"Err no, I had a fair number of foster parents, not spoken to any of them since I aged out of the system. My real parents are…” Daniel stumbled over his words.

"Dead.” Jack spoke for him. “I know.”

“Of course. Catherine had a file.” Daniel said, a little cynically.

"There must be someone who'd be happy to know you're still alive." Jack was insistent this poor kid had to have someone. He was way too young to not have any friends or family still around.

"Nope, afraid not." Daniel smiled pleasantly. He just wanted this topic over and done with.

Looking over at 'orphan Danny' now, Jack realised all this went a long way to explaining some of the things he'd been wondering about Daniel since they'd formed SG1. The obvious lack of discipline that Teal’c had asked him about should have been clear from the start. The insecurities, the easy going attitude when it came to personal needs and complete lack of confidence in his own abilities, his single-minded obtuseness and his inability to work as part of a team. What else can you expect from a kid who’s never had a support system in place long enough to learn how?

"Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds." Daniel said quietly jumping down from the counter and turning his back.

Ashamed of himself, Jack realised that Daniel probably always had to present the brave front to prevent the pitying looks, which is probably why the poor guy avoided any talk of his personal life. It saved having to put on the brave 'it never affected me' face.

"Don't forget your meds Danny." Jack handed out the bottle of pills Fraiser had thrust upon him at the last second before he had absconded with her patient.

"What are they?" Daniel walked up and shook the bottle.

"Not sure, but Fraiser says to take them so you’re taking them. I assume they're to help you sleep."

"I don't need them." Daniel immediately handed them back, thrusting the plastic bottle in Jack’s face.

"Well tough, I found out during your little stint on the ventilator that she is not someone to be trifled with. I went to a lot of trouble to spring you so don't make me regret it."

"Fine, I'll take them, hand it over."

Jack pushed his hand away, handing over a glass of water and watched Daniel toss two back.

"Good, now get to bed before you pass out."

Daniel nodded obediently and left the room, throwing an idle wave in Jack's direction. Jack smiled as Daniel stumbled up the step, and plodded blindly into the spare room.

______________________________


“Dr Jackson.”

“General,” Daniel shuffled nervously in the doorway of Hammond’s office. “You wanted to see me, err…sir” Got to remember the ‘sir’ part, even if it did feel like he was back in 3rd grade.

“Take a seat, son.” General Hammond gestured at the two chairs in front of his desk.

There was a certain presence about the General Daniel liked, an authority figure that wasn’t a gruff know-it-all was a rarity. Daniel admired that quality and it consequently lead to Daniel doing pretty much what the General asked.

“I have your file here.” George said flicking through the numerous sheets of black typed pages. “Intelligence has written a convincing cover story to explain your year’s absence. Kept it simple, and since the military believed you to be dead the official classification was missing in action. A wise decision considering the circumstances.”

“Okay.” Daniel spoke slowly. He had no idea where the General was going with this stream of information.

“For the past year you have been working as a civilian consultant for the Air Force, helping with our forces in the Middle East.” George looked up at Daniel for the first time since he’d entered the room.

“That’s it?” Daniel asked.

“Son, the only words you have to remember are ‘that’s classified’.” George grinned warmly. “Anyone who has clearance to check your dossier will see the same thing, you now hold official rank as a civilian under contract with the Air Force. Congratulations son and welcome aboard.”

Daniel treated General Hammond to his best guppy impression, which made George’s smile broaden. “Colonel O’Neill will be your commanding officer, am I right to assume you have no problem with this?”

Daniel shook his head bemused.

“Good.” The General leaned forward and looked very serious. “Dr Jackson, the decision to hire you as a permanent consultant was not made lightly, the Air Force does not take just anyone. Especially those who decide to fake their own deaths.” George smiled wickedly.

Daniel stuttered out a near reply, feeling the butterflies rise in his stomach.

“But previous mistakes aside, the President agrees that you are the best person for the job. While I understand you do have a personal investment in the Stargate Programme I expect you to commit yourself fully to this command. Is that understood?”

Daniel believed he did understand, but could hardly believe it was happening - if that made sense. He was being offered a permanent job. Not a grant, a temporary contract or a flat fee to solve a problem and then to be kicked out as soon as he fulfilled his usefulness.

He’d never had security before, so didn’t know what it felt like to have the confidence that in two weeks he wasn’t going to be destitute, eating cereal out of the box and unable to pay his rent. His burning drive to find Shau’re as quickly as possible was cooling as he was coming to realise that was more of a long term goal, given the vast amount of possible planets. The thought that any day someone could pull the plug on his participation had been at the back of his mind since he’d recovered from the shock of being back on earth. The belief that the friends he’d found in Jack, Sam and even Teal’c was merely a stopgap, another notch to add to his belt of people that had touched his life.

Suddenly Daniel was faced with the prospect of permanence, until today an inconceivable notion. And it scared him a little.

If Hammond noticed Daniel’s distraction he didn’t show it. Daniel forced a polite smile and said thank you.

“Dismissed.” The General nodded back, happy that Daniel was not simply dismissing the importance of what George was telling him, he actually appeared to appreciate it for the gift it was.

Daniel stood up and walked out of the office, entering the briefing room in a thoughtful daze, his mind working at 300 percent, unlike the usual 150.

A half an hour later George was reading up on more personnel files when a knock at his door gave him something else to focus on.

“Colonel, come in.” Hammond said.

Jack walked confidently into the office. “Ready for our next mission General.”

George eyed the Colonel curiously. “Is that so.”

“Yes, sir. SG-1 is eagerly anticipating…eagerly.” Jack finished with a quirk, settling himself casually in the nearest chair.

George just didn’t know what to make of this man at times. Odd didn’t cover it; eccentric was taking it too far. Whatever it was about Colonel O’Neill that made the General believe he would be one of the better officers to serve under his command George was confident he’d made the right decision reactivating his service.

“I believe Doctor Jackson was released from the infirmary today,” another odd one, George thought. The child prodigy was someone else George didn’t quite get, though put the two of them in a room together you’d never seen two opposites act so much alike. Colonel O’Neill was every bit as obstinate, only age and experience making the difference in technique. He and Doctor Jackson almost deserved each other.

“Daniel is feeling much better, sir, and I promise he will not get into any more trouble.” Jack said glibly.

“I’ll see that SG1 gets the next exploration.”

“Thank you sir!” Job done, Jack stood to leave.

“And Colonel,” George said as he reached the door, “don’t make promises you can’t keep.”

______________________________________________

Daniel ran into his office, and not looking where he was going, inevitably slammed into Teal’c.

Rebounding off the large Jaffa like a Nerf ball Daniel asked the obvious. “What are you guys doing in here?”

Jack dropped the stack of papers he was holding on top of what he assumed was a desk underneath all the rubbish. “You’ve only had this place a few weeks, how the hell do you get it in such a state?”

Daniel squinted, licking his lips. “What are you looking for?”

“Your report on PX3 454,” Teal’c supplied.

“Yeah, that.” Jack confirmed, with a wave in the Jaffa’s direction. “Hammond is considering our next mission.”

Daniel didn’t follow what exactly that had to do with his report but on this occasion gave Jack the benefit of the doubt. He took a few deep breaths to calm his nerves and moved around his desk to the shelf and pulled out the report.

Daniel handed it to Jack, “You okay?”

No, actually. “I’m fine.” Daniel responded immediately.

Jack narrowed his eyes, frown lines covering his forehead. Something was up, he rarely saw Daniel smile, but he never looked troubled. Jack could tell he was extremely troubled now.

Jack took the report. “You sure? You look a little on edge.”

I’m very on edge, I’m spiralling close to completely unbalanced all because someone has seen fit to tip the natural order in my favour. “I’m fine.”

____________________________________________

Jack pressed the doorbell and waited patiently. Well as patiently as he could which is why after only a minute Jack started banging on the door.

“Thought you might not be home.” Jack said when Daniel finally answered.

“So banging louder helps how?” Daniel questioned, deadpan.

Jack shrugged and walked right on in. “Thought I’d pop by, heard the good news.”

“Good news?”

“Hammond made you official today.”

“Oh right, that.” Daniel clued in, “yeah, why is that? I mean not that I’m not grateful.” Daniel rushed to assure Jack in a panic. “– really I am. I am grateful.”

Daniel looked overwhelmed, flushed from excitement and distressed all at the same time.

“Well good.” Jack smiled.

Jack was still being overly careful with his personal interactions with Daniel. He hadn’t quite scoped Daniel Jackson out yet. His was a complex mind and Jack was sure it would take more than a beer at his house plus a few missions to get the full extent of who Daniel really was. He believed in Daniel, in his potential, but Daniel was still an enigma. Jack could never really predict which way Daniel would go in a situation. He knew Daniel was a good guy, but now that he was an official part of the project, Jack felt it might be prudent to check out some of the stuff written in that overly thick file of his for himself. The trick to knowing a man was to know where he came from, that was Jack’s mission tonight.

“Haven’t got far with the unpacking I see.” Jack commented on the boxes in the middle of the room, just as Teal’c had described.

“I’m fine.” Daniel repeated his catchphrase.

“I know.” Jack said strolling over to check out the view.

“I am curious though. Was it you?” Daniel coughed. It was more of a nervous cough than anything related to his recent illness.

“Was what me?” Jack played ignorant, moving back toward the tattered cardboard boxes.

Daniel didn’t know how to answer, and it showed. Jack let him work himself up just enough, then, as soon as the head duck came into play, he told Daniel what he wanted to know.

“I didn’t do anything except my job Daniel. You opened the Stargate; you found it goes other places. And I’m betting you’ve already got Teal’c teaching you Gould.” Jack smiled when Daniel gave away that he had indeed been learning the language. “It all counts Daniel, they can’t afford to lose you.”

“There’s plenty of archaeologists and linguists more capable than me.”

Low self esteem. Like he couldn’t have guessed that. Jack still found it peculiar that Daniel could be so forthright and demanding, like in the briefing room before everyone went ‘Touched’, yet be so timid and dismissive about his own worth.

“Daniel, who are all these people?” Jack had picked up another one of Daniel’s photo albums. From the same pile Teal’c had when he was there.

Taking a closer, more assessing, look Daniel recognised the one Jack was holding open in his palms. “The people I grew up with.”

“All of them? That’s some family gathering.” Jack counted at least ten kids, plus adults.

“It’s the group home I lived in.” Daniel said shyly, removing the book from Jack’s hands and closing it.

He didn’t mind Jack wanting to know about him. For an ex-black ops Colonel he wasn’t being very subtle about it, but there were areas of his life he wasn’t too proud of, and he sought to keep them as private as possible.

“Too obvious?”

“Just a little.” Daniel teased.

They both laughed.

“I was just worried about you.” Jack admitted finally. Though he hadn’t really known it was worry he was feeling until after he flipped through the photos.

“Why?” Daniel didn’t understand.

“Don’t know really. Guess I was thinking you’d been through quite a lot since coming home. Ending up on the ventilator couldn’t have been fun, especially after the whole being kidnapped and ‘Touched’ thing.” Jack dug his hands deep in his pockets. “Wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Daniel answered on autopilot. “I’m fine.”

Jack walked back to the door, set to leave. “Well good.”

_________________________________________________

Having gone straight home after popping by Daniel’s place, Jack had collapsed in his living room and watched a taped game from a few days before. It was getting late, Jack turned off the TV, flicking off the living room lights as he walked into the kitchen. He opened the fridge door, letting its glow illuminate his immediate area and, intending to sit out on his deck for one last beer before going to bed, he pulled out a cold one. His fingers nudged a half full bowl of chilli sauce, knocking it toward the tiled surface of Jack’s kitchen floor. It was only his highly tuned military instincts that kept the bowl and its contents from going clunk splat all over the place. Jack gave the sauce an experimental sniff before putting it back on the top shelve, out of harms way. Despite its very pungent odour, he figured he could get a couple of more days out of it yet.

Jack then set about examining the rest of his fridge’s contents when a tentative knock at the door demanded his attention. Checking the kitchen clock with a frown he could see it was after midnight. Jack certainly wasn’t expecting anyone at this hour.

Poking his head back out of the fridge Jack cautiously left the confines of his kitchen, kicking the fridge door closed behind him thus banishing all light. Placing his beer on a side table Jack walked over to his front door in the dark. Another small knock followed the first. He unlocked and opened the door first a notch, assessing his late night caller, and then swinging it fully open upon recognition.

Daniel flung himself forward with incredible force, wrapping both his arms tight around Jack’s neck.

“I’m not fine.” He stated succinctly.

“I can see that.” Jack said simply. He was practically speechless, and was beginning to think he’d had one too many beers tonight.

After a couple of seconds of complete silence Jack decided it would be best to deal with whatever this was inside. He walked backward, partly dragging Daniel in with him and kicked the front door shut behind them without bothering to lock it again. Jack was too busy hugging the shit out of one very upset, shaking and noticeably distraught archaeologist.

As soon as Jack tried to manoeuvre them into the living room, Daniel pulled away rather quickly. Dabbing damp eyes with his shirtsleeve he attempted to stutter his way through an apology.

“I’m sorry, damn I’m so sorry.” He was clearly mortified by his own behaviour, and sadly Jack was still too confused to offer any semblance of comfort to the poor boy.

“You must think I’m a basket case.” Daniel tried a smile on for size but, either, due to the effort to stave off tears or control the inevitable panic attack, it came off as more of a grimace.

Staring at one another, with nothing but Daniel’s frantic, out of control, breathing to break the oppressive silence, Jack finally snapped out of his daze in time to grab Daniel just as he was making a run for the door. Jack knew at that moment exactly what Daniel thought he was doing and there was no way in hell Jack was going to let Daniel leave just to end up worrying about him all night long and get absolutely no sleep.

Before Daniel could object he was being hugged again, this time Jack had initiated it and Daniel was finding it very hard to muster the strength to pull away, especially when one of Jack’s hands had found its way into his hair, the other running smoothly up and down his back.

“What is it with you and this ‘I’m fine’ shit?”

Jack’s question was so simple it was heart breaking to believe those few words were enough to break him. Daniel ceased all effort to leave and let his mind idle. Jack could not only see through his defence mechanism, he took interest enough to question him on it. Though Daniel had always believed in his philosophy of keeping distance emotionally, he never truly stopped craving the attention life had never afforded him. Daniel sighed, pressing his face as hard as he could into his friends shoulder, wanting someone to support him for a change.

Jack hadn’t a clue if he’d said the right thing or not, but the very fact that a simple, slightly derogatory, comment could cause such a reaction had Jack questioning why no one had bothered to care about Daniel before now. Despite the sometimes-aggravating attitude towards authority, and the never-ending chatter, Daniel was a sweet guy. He may never have believed it in a million years that anyone like Daniel could possibly be so isolated, but Jack was holding the proof in his arms, clearly no one had ever questioned Daniel, had never cared enough to question why his only response to a personal query is ‘I’m fine’.

___________________________________________

Daniel sat himself down on Jack’s deck letting his legs swing, while he leaned over one of the railings. His face felt tight, and whole body ached like he hadn’t lain down in a week. Daniel questioned why on earth he was still hanging around when the most desirable action was to leave and forget this lapse had ever happened.

“Here.” Jack surprised him by sneaking up behind and holding out a beer.

Daniel looked at the cold bottle, but debated on whether he should take it.

“Come on Daniel, it won’t kill you, besides we need to build up that tolerance of yours otherwise we’ll have Teal’c drinking you under the table.” Jack said, settling down, his legs hanging loose next to Daniel.

It was warm out on the deck, Colorado summer. A light breeze from the mountains helped stave off the humidity and had fun with Daniel’s hair.

Daniel took the beer with a small smile. He was feeling very tired all of a sudden. It really was a shame because he never felt tired at his own place, no matter how hard he tried to sleep.

“I’m guessing this has something to do with Shau’re.” Jack hedged.

Daniel didn’t disagree.

“You’re starting to realise the chances of us stumbling onto the right planet, now we know our only options have been exhausted, are slim. You’ve accepted that it’s a long term goal, but feel like it’s wrong to move on and make something of your life in the meantime.” Jack recited the whole explanation as if reading from a script.

“How…? Oh.” Daniel already knew how Jack knew exactly what he was thinking.

Jack swallowed a mouthful of beer. “I’ve been through it, Daniel.”

“That’s the stupid thing.” Daniel said. “So have I.”

They sat in silence for a minute, and Daniel drank from his beer.

“My parents died and I was lost. I was eight years old.” Daniel said, sounding angry about the injustice for the first time in his life. “Losing Shau’re… it feels like I’ve lost everything all over again. I feel eight all over again, but I can deal with that.”

“Sounds a little harsh.”

“I’m used to it.” Daniel said monotone. “Today I got offered something I’ve never had, never really sought, but it felt good. Jack, this is the first time in my entire life that things haven’t been a temporary arrangement. I really like being on SG1. I enjoy it.”

“Call me crazy Daniel, but I don’t see the problem.”

Daniel laughed, but not in a humorous way. Jack didn’t like that look of defeat on Daniel. He knew it didn’t suit the young man one bit. “Why didn’t I feel this way on Abydos?”

Jack paused, unsure what Daniel was trying to tell him.

“I loved Shau’re. Why didn’t I feel this stable on Abydos?”

Oh boy, Jack felt for the kid, he really did. Life was confusing enough when you’re young, adding intergalactic travel and alien babes didn’t help.

“I can’t answer that for you. Experience and age teaches us a lot of things, you’ll figure it out one day.” Jack said. “What my experience tells me is that you can’t live out of boxes forever. It’s not a crime to be happy again.”

“I feel guilty, carrying on while she’s… she’s-”

“Okay.” Jack wrapped one arm around Daniel’s shoulder when it looked like he was about to break. “I think Shau’re would want you to be happy. When we do find her she’ll need you to be strong, guilt will only wear you down. Trust me.”

Daniel sniffed once. Then nodded. The weight and warmth of Jack’s arm around his shoulders was a comforting, reassuring presence. Proof that Daniel had someone he trusted to turn to.

They stayed on the deck for a little while longer, letting the cooling breeze brush through the air as they watched the stars in the clear Colorado summer’s night sky.

Fin;-)

 

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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.