Late Night Inspiration
by Carlyn

Snatching off his glasses, Daniel Jackson snapped his wrist and released them, flinging the specs onto his desk in disgust. With all the grace of a petulant two-year-old, he threw himself back in his chair and buried his face behind his hands, muffling a disgruntled groan. Thrusting the hands roughly up along cheeks sporting a five o’clock shadow, he dug the heels into his brow, screwing them into his forehead as though he hoped that, with enough force, he could push his headache out through the back of his skull.
Ultimately finding no satisfaction in his kneading, Daniel let the hands skim back over his face. He paused long enough to push his fingertips into the corners of his tired, burning eyes, rubbing with far more force than was probably advisable given his current mood. Finally letting the hands fall into his lap, he growled a sigh.
This time of the day, after dinner, when most of the first shift staff had gone home, was usually his most productive. But tonight, Daniel was plagued with a complete lack of inspiration.
He could blame the fatigue that naturally followed weeks of inadequate sleep. But he’d gotten by on little sleep before. Of course, that was when he’d had his team to support him.
Dragging his gaze across the ceiling and down the far wall to his desktop, Daniel caught sight of the massive mound of paperwork on the corner. Comprised of the stuff he loved—mission reports filled with details of alien culture, radiologic analyses of artifacts uncovered on distant planets, and research memos from his archaeology and linguistics staff—the mountain of documents had become an antagonist, seeming to mock his inability to concentrate simply by its immense presence. Frustration gripping him, Daniel barely resisted another childish impulse to shove the whole lot to the floor, turning instead to the journal open in the center of his desk.
He stroked the cover where it peeked out from behind the unlined paper, his touch reverent. Since he’d learned to read and write, Daniel had been recording his most intimate thoughts and his feelings in the pages of a journal. Over the years he’d used everything from wire bound school notebooks—which usually fell apart long before he’d filled all the pages, as though the pain and heartache expressed therein were too great for the flimsy binding to hold—to clothbound journals, and finally, upon joining the Stargate program, the expensive leather bound variety, which, he was overjoyed to learn, the Air Force supplied for the asking.
Each journal was his friend, his confidante, to whom he trusted all the secrets of his heart and mind. And right now, with all the turbulence swirling through his life, he needed someone he could rely on.
Which was why it was so annoying that he seemed unable to open up, to share the inner turmoil that had lately been robbing him of sleep, and of his peace.
Daniel plucked up the pen that rested in the journal’s seam. Rolling it between his fingers, he longed to feel the contentment such a caress usually engendered. Daniel found incredible joy in jotting things down. He loved seeing his words and ideas appear on paper, whether from the end of a pen like this one or the sharpened tip of the pencils he used when translating. But sadly, not even those seemingly magical implements could inspire him tonight.
Tossing the pen with the same lack of care he’d shown his glasses, Daniel turned to his computer. He had planned, as he usually did unless he was offworld, to spend the evening burning up the keyboard, as Jack described it, researching, checking facts, and drafting reports.
But that was before Sam had invited him back to her lab after dinner and dropped her bomb on him. Since then, his monitor had stood just as blank as the pages of his journal, the word processing program open, the cursor flashing at him—a blip on the otherwise pristine screen—winking in and out of existence, as though it couldn’t quite bring itself to stick around but, at the same time, didn’t dare leave on the off chance Daniel was suddenly motivated.
Discontentment launched him from his chair, and Daniel grabbed his glasses on his way around his desk. Slapping them on his face as he quickly marched through his office doorway, he ruthlessly suppressed the feeling he was running away from his failed attempt at productivity.
Making his way quickly to the end of the hall, he shoved open the heavy metal door into the stairwell, maintaining his grip to keep it from slamming into the concrete wall behind. He took the stairs down at an accelerated clip and, going through the matching door on the floor below, headed with single-minded determination for Sam’s lab.
He pulled up short several meters from his destination. Once again disappointment assailed him as he stood staring at the barrier to Sam’s sanctuary. Her door was never closed unless Sam was working on a potentially dangerous experiment or she was gone for the day. Daniel knew for a fact Sam wasn’t working on anything at the moment. She’d been carping about the lack of interesting projects for several weeks.
Which meant she had gone home. Realizing suddenly that he was all alone on a floor that was often well populated even after normal business hours, Daniel checked his watch. 2353 hours. 2353? He’d just had dinner with Sam and Teal’c! What the hell had he been doing with his himself for the past five hours?
“Brooding over yet another shift in your foundation, that’s what,” he whispered morosely.
Feeling his legs buckle as the weight he’d been carrying on his shoulders the past few weeks rearranged itself, making room for additional worry, Daniel fell against the wall with a muted ‘whoof’ and scrabbled, literally and figuratively, to keep his feet. One by one, the stones upon which his foundation rested had been kicked out from under him, and it was all he could do sometimes to keep from falling to his knees.
First, Jack had gone. Taken a job in Washington DC, of all places. Nearly two months, and Daniel still hadn’t gotten used to the absence of Jack’s lanky frame in his doorway, at the office or at home. He’d always seen something symbolic in that—Jack filling a giant hole in his life. Now that hole gaped, an open wound, painful to look at, and even Teal’c’s massive frame couldn’t fill it completely.
Not that Teal’c would be there much longer either, Daniel reminded himself with a rueful smirk. He would be leaving too, permanently this time, in just a few hours. For weeks Teal’c had been spending more time on Dakara than at the SGC, so Daniel wasn’t surprised by the announcement that their Jaffa friend would resign from the Stargate program to join the struggle for democracy in the newly formed Jaffa nation. Still, anticipating the departure of a close friend from your life did not imbue one with an effective defense against their loss.
And now Sam planned to go as well.
Shoving himself off the wall with a sullen grunt, Daniel trudged to the elevator. His feet felt heavy, his body lifeless and useless. He needed sleep, but he knew he wouldn’t sleep, couldn’t sleep, because given free reign, his mind tended to dwell on his unfounded feelings of abandonment. Okay, maybe not unfounded, given his history with the people he loved, but certainly unfair. His team was moving towards other things, not away from him. But that truth didn’t lessen his pain.
“I’m gonna have to go talk to Lam,” he moaned bitterly, the thought of requesting something to help him sleep almost as distasteful to him as the thought of being alone again. Still, a trip to the infirmary was his only chance for getting any rest this evening.
Feeling suddenly twice his age, Daniel shuffled out of the elevator onto Level 21. Spinning left, he forced himself forward, head down, hands in pockets, doggedly placing one foot in front of the other. The vicious irony of his inability to sleep, despite his physical exhaustion, was not lost on Daniel. Playing the butt of some cosmic joke had almost become a comfortable position for him.
On autopilot now, it took Daniel a few moments to realize that, somewhere on the periphery of his tired mind, a blacksmith was hammering against anvil, the beat shadowy and uneven. Passing the sound off as a byproduct of his fatigue-induced headache, Daniel shook his head, surprised to find that, once the cobwebs dropped from the corners of his brain, the sound grew more distinct.
Pulling to a stumbling halt, Daniel glanced up and found he was nearing the Physical Therapy department. With the sound’s transformation from a figment of his imagination to a mystery in need of solving, Daniel felt a familiar surge of curiosity-borne adrenaline course through him, instantly rousing body and mind.
‘Like that damn Energizer bunny,’ Jack groaned in his head, a replay of one of his rants on finding Daniel puzzling out a tough translation in the wee hours. The voice engendered a pained smile, serving only to remind him of his loss.
Moving more quickly, Daniel approached the PT room on tiptoe, reluctant to disturb its occupants. He came to the door at an angle and, keeping a respectable distance, peered through the small window.
He saw only one person laying on a weight bench, an impressively heavy dumbbell in each hand swinging in a stable arc above his chest to meet with the metallic clang Daniel had registered. Even without the glint of harsh lighting off the golden emblem on his forehead, Daniel immediately recognized the form of his Jaffa teammate. Wondering what could have brought his friend to the gym at such an unusual time for a workout, Daniel shoved open the door, making his presence known by his conspicuous entry.
“Hey, Teal’c,” he called out right away, “don’t you gate out in…” Daniel glanced at his watch, immediately deciding against calculating the amount of time before his friend left Earth for good, “early in the morning?”
“My departure is scheduled for 0800 hours,” Teal’c confirmed, showing no sign that he had been startled by Daniel’s arrival. Sitting up with far more grace than his weighted arms should have allowed, Teal’c lifted his leg over the bench and faced Daniel.
Waggling a remonstrative brow, Daniel pinned the Jaffa with a questioning stare. “Shouldn’t you be getting some sleep?”
“I find myself unable to sleep,” Teal’c informed him. Bending at the waist, he gently set his dumbbells on the concrete floor, rumbling as he sat up, “It is an unfortunate result of my anticipation of the change to come.”
His challenging look slid into a frown, and Daniel sighed. Ambling closer, he dropped onto the bench opposite his friend. “Yeah, I know all about that. You’ve heard Sam’s going after the R&D directorship at Area 51?”
“She has spoken to me of her intent. I believe Samantha Carter eminently qualified for the position as head of Area 51′s Department of Research and Development.”
“Yeah. She’ll get it, too. R & D is her passion. And why shouldn’t she go for it? Now that there aren’t any immediate threats to our existence, there’s really no good reason for her to hang around here.”
The remark chased all expression from the Jaffa’s face. Daniel winced. As hard as he’d fought against it, what he’s intended as approval of Sam’s decision had come out sounding like a whining objection.
“I am pursuing my passion as well, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c all but whispered after a moment. “It has long been my desire to see my Jaffa brethren united.”
“I know that, Teal’c,” Daniel replied insistently, irritated that his sour mood had compelled his friend to once again explain his resolve to go. He returned the larger man’s intense gaze with all the sincerity he could muster. “You will do great things on Dakara.”
Teal’c inclined his head, a regal acceptance of Daniel’s affirmation.
“So,” Daniel ventured, hoping to find a satisfactory purpose for the loss that hurt him most, “do you think Homeworld Security was Jack’s passion?”
Shifting while he considered his response, Teal’c rested his elbows on his thighs and, lacing his fingers together, suspended his hands between his knees. “O’Neill has a great need to protect your people. He believes he can best accomplish that goal in Washington.”
Flashing one of his ‘here and gone smiles,’ Daniel bobbed his head in agreement, though he’d found no solace in Teal’c’s response.
They sat in companionable silence for a moment. Daniel let his mind wander, recalling with fond affection the times Teal’c had invited him to meditate. Making a concerted effort now to bask in his friend’s presence, drinking in the aura of calm he’d often experienced in his quarters, Daniel nearly leapt from his seat when the Jaffa’s deep voice pierced the quiet.
“And what of you, Daniel Jackson? Are your actions compelled by passion?”
Invading his tranquility, as well as the stillness of the room, the question, delivered in Teal’c’s profound basso, seemed to reverberate from the concrete walls, intensifying their impact.
Daniel tendered a self-effacing grin. “I gotta tell you, Teal’c, I’m feeling far from passionate about anything these days.” His shoulders curled in, his posture compromised by a return of his recent melancholia.
“Much is changing,” the Jaffa acknowledge, his dark eyes conveying perfect understanding.
“Yes. And I’m finding it all a bit unsettling.”
Sitting back, Teal’c pushed himself taller and regarded his young friend earnestly. A decidedly disapproving pall drifted over his features. “Daniel Jackson, I have noted a disturbing propensity in you to dwell in the past. Understandably, your vocation requires such a predilection, however, applied to your life, it will only bring you pain.”
Surprised by the assessment, Daniel felt his mouth drop open. “What? Why would you say—”
“In these past months, we have all expressed the same dissatisfaction with the SGC’s diminished role as had O’Neill before he accepted the position at Homeworld Security. Yet you are the only one member of SG-1 who has not actively sought another opportunity to be of greater use.” Teal’c’s half-hearted glare softened, his lips turning up in a faint smile. “I do not believe your reluctance to move on is a result of cowardice or a lack of conviction. I must therefore deduce that your resistance is based in your desire to maintain some element of SG-1 at Stargate Command.”
A responsive cringe jolting his wilting frame, Daniel dropped his gaze from Teal’c’s too—penetrating dark eyes. The fingers of his right hand danced agitatedly upon a stage created by the back of his left. “I, uh, I think an awful lot of myself, huh?” he sputtered with a tiny laugh. “Believing that I can represent SG-1 all by myself here.” Leaning forward, he began to rise, but a large hand engulfed his shoulder, halting his ascent. His eyes came up as his backside again met the bench.
“You misunderstand me, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said gently, “It is not here…” he rolled his head, his gaze sweeping the ceiling and seeming to travel through it to encompass the entire mountain, “that you wish SG-1 to remain, but here.” The Jaffa’s palm slid over Daniel’s collar bone and rested in the hollow beneath, just over his heart. “And you have convinced yourself that removing the final component of your team from the place where it was created will constitute its demise.”
Struck dumb, Daniel blinked, his mouth dropping open slightly.
Letting his hand fall away, Teal’c smiled sadly. “Each of us has experienced some measure of the apprehension which follows any transition, however, I believe, given your long history of lost relationships, you feel it most keenly.”
Daniel couldn’t help but laugh, a derisive snort. “God, am I really that needy?”
“I am sorry, Daniel Jackson. I did not intend—”
Daniel waved a hand before his friend’s face, seemingly attempting to keep additional words from escaping. “No, Teal’c, I’m sorry,” he said, the hand now fluttering somewhere around his own chest. “It’s… I’m not… I know you didn’t mean…” Slamming the brakes on his verbal careening, Daniel sighed. “The fact is, I’m not dealing so well with losing my friends, my family, again.”
“You have not lost us, Daniel Jackson. In all the uncertainty of these times, that is the one thing you can depend on. When you need us, we will be there—though ‘there’ is somewhere other than ‘here.’”
Teal’c’s eyes sparkled with assurance, the promise spreading like a blanket that wrapped itself around Daniel, lending warmth, comfort, and a shield against his worries. Relief swelled in his chest, and Daniel feared that if he attempted to speak, he would choke on the emotion gathered, like a lump, in his throat.
Coming quickly to his feet, he gripped Teal’c’s shoulder, affection and gratitude flowing from his fingertips as he squeezed. “Thank you, Teal’c,” he said simply.
Accepting the Jaffa’s answering bow with a resolute nod, Daniel gestured over his shoulder. “I’m gonna let you get some sleep. You’ve got an early departure tomorrow… and I’m suddenly inspired to finish a few things.” He spun on his heel and exited the gym, bypassing the infirmary, and heading straight for his office.
His burden lifted, Daniel perceived the pull of sleep and, for the first time since Jack had announced his transfer, he thought he might actually get some rest. But first he had a task to complete.

Snuggled down in the spacious bed in his on-base quarters, Daniel sighed, a contented sense of accomplishment lulling him. He had found the impetus to share his thoughts with his journal and the blip on his computer screen now shared that space with the letter he should have written weeks ago. Closing his eyes, Daniel silently read the image still imprinted on the insides of his eyelids.
General Landry:
It has been my honor to serve the SGC these past eight years. I am extremely proud of all that we have accomplished here but I feel that it is time for a new challenge. Please be advised of my intention to submit my request for reassignment to the installation in the Pegasus Galaxy, commencing as soon as such transfer can be arranged.
Daniel smiled. Sure the paperwork was still stacked up on his desk, but soon it wouldn’t belong to him—though he’d take a handful of pencils to get him started in Atlantis. As Teal’c had reminded him, he didn’t need his team’s physical presence to know they’d always be with him, but he liked the idea of keeping some small part of the SGC at hand as he embarked on this next chapter in his life.
Unable to resist any longer, Daniel let slumber claim him. He’d set his alarm for 0700. Three hours was plenty of sleep—he had a friend to send off.

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