Synergy
By Carlyn

 

Standing between Teal’c and General Hammond at the foot of Sam’s gurney, fists jammed deep in the pockets of his BDUs, Daniel forced a natural-looking smile.

“Welcome back, Sam.”

Though the greeting was sincere, his thoughts were anything but joyful, being overshadowed by the fact that his desire to communicate with an alien entity had nearly cost one of his dearest friends her life.

‘If Jack hadn’t taken charge…’ He left the thought unfinished, the alternate outcome too painful to consider.

“Thanks,” Sam breathed, forcing a tired smile of her own. She turned grateful eyes on the colonel, who still stood at her bedside.

“And thank you, sir. If you hadn’t threatened to send more probes to its homeworld, that alien being would never have let me go.”

Her attention focused on her CO, Sam missed Daniel’s head duck reflexively, his face scrunched in self-reproach at her statement.

But the movement was not lost on O’Neill, whose keen peripheral eyesight covertly detected the sign of the younger man’s distress.

“Alright, let’s get you back to the infirmary,” Janet Fraiser said, reaching around behind Sam to turn off the EEG monitor. She disconnected the leads and bunched the wires on the gurney near Sam’s neck.

As Teal’c moved to the head of the gurney, Hammond stepped aside to allow room for its passage. Taking advantage of the distraction, Daniel jerked a hand loose from the folds of his uniform, laid it on Sam’s ankle and blurted, “I’m really glad you’re okay.”

He pivoted, intending to make a quick getaway, and was surprised to find Sergeant Siler standing between himself and the exit. Mumbling, “Excuse me,” Daniel lowered his head, shouldered past Siler and departed the storeroom at a brisk pace.

Watching the dejected figure practically run from the room, Jack winced, silently cursing the far flung shit of the universe that always managed to find Daniel.

‘Not quite so sure you were right to try to communicate now, are you?’ Jack silently called after Daniel, concern and not malice prompting the question.

Jack wanted nothing more than to go after the younger man, try to reassure him, but he had duties to attend to. First, he would see Sam safely to the infirmary. Then he needed to personally supervise the destruction of that damn alien construct.

‘At least I’ll be able to take some of my frustration out on that,’ he thought, glancing up at the wires and pieces of MALP that made up the intruder’s ‘nest.’

His eyes fell on the keyboard, the means through which the alien had been able to possess his 2IC – and the symbol of yet another rift between himself and Daniel. Jack sighed.

‘Damn it, Daniel.  I hate that we’ve ended up on opposite sides again,’ Jack reflected sourly, his eyes, returning to the last place they’d seen Daniel, narrowed in frustration.  ‘And I just know you’re dwelling on it. Starting to doubt again.’

Stepping back so that Teal’c could wheel the gurney out, Jack mechanically followed after the med team and their patient, allowing his mind to wander back to Daniel.

‘We have so got to catch a break,’ he groused inwardly. ‘Daniel deserves better. Why does he have to deal with this crap over and over? I mean, come on, how is this fair?

‘We fight every day to protect this planet, and the rest of the galaxy from evil, and still we have to fight the whole cosmos to get a little happiness?

‘Why can’t someone – God, fate, whoever – cut us some slack?

‘Since we got together, the damn universe has thrown everything imaginable in our way to keep us from getting comfortable in our relationship: damn NID plots and reminders of dead wives – crazy grandfathers, for crying out loud!

‘Not to mention the missions that have put us at odds philosophically, at our most basic levels.

‘And now, almost six months since our last big argument over the Enkaran-Gadmeer thing, when we’re finally hitting our stride, comes another intergalactic slap down?

‘Well, I’m not having it this time, you got that?’ he raged at the unknown force that seemed intent on driving a wedge between himself and Daniel.

‘But since you’ve already played the guilt card, and had some time to work on his insecurity,  fighting you is only half the battle,’ Jack sighed. ‘I gotta find Daniel.’

Returning his attention to his surroundings, Jack was surprised to find himself tucked in the back corner of the elevator, behind Carter’s gurney. Blinking, he glanced sidelong at Teal’c, who regarded him with a regretful gaze. Jack recognized that look - Teal’c was feeling guilty about ‘ganging up’ on Daniel.

‘Yeah, I know big guy, I’m on it,’ Jack thought, hoping Teal’c would understand the reassuring smile and nod as his pledge to make things right for both of them.

“It wasn’t your fault, T,” he said softly, “You and I think differently than Daniel. He said it himself, our first instinct is to protect. Unfortunately, to do that, we sometimes have to step on a certain archeologist’s toes.”

 “I have not trod on DanielJackson’s feet, O’Neill,” Teal’c said, his inscrutable expression making it difficult to determine whether his statement was in earnest or an attempt at humor.

Staring blankly at the Jaffa for a second, Jack detected a slight snort, and leaning back to see around the gurney, he caught Janet Fraiser standing on the other side if it with her head down. Neither the angle of her head, nor her hair, pulled back per regs, did anything to disguise her amused grin.

Straightening, Jack shot Teal’c an annoyed look. In response, Teal’c lifted his chin, cocking his head slightly to the side, but his facial features remained impassive.

The elevator stopped with a slight jerk and the doors opened on Level 21. As Teal’c guided the gurney into the hallway, Jack yelled, “Glad you’re back, Carter,” slipped into the front corner of the elevator and punched the button for Level 18.

*****

Daniel tossed his glasses on his work table and rubbed his eyes viciously, hoping to wipe away the image of his friend convulsing on the gurney. Scraping his fingertips over his brow and into his hair, he pulled on the fine strands.

“Sam’s gonna be fine,” he reminded himself for the tenth time since he left the storeroom.

‘But it could so easily have ended differently,’ a little voice – the one he hadn’t heard since Jack had told him to shut up on Euronda - whispered to him. ‘Would it really have been worth it?”

“No,” he whispered back, responding verbally to the voice, in the manner he habitually employed to reason out problems, “Losing Sam would have been unacceptable.”

‘And how about losing Jack?’ the voice mocked. ‘The price for wanting to communicate with that alien entity just might be your relationship. Are you ready to pay that?’

“I’m not gonna listen to this,” Daniel said pressing his hands over his ears.

‘“Daniel, we are going to do this my way,” that’s what he said. Stomped all over your efforts at a peaceful resolution…’

“No. No, Jack was right. Sam confirmed it. That thing was not gonna let her go…”

‘He blames you though. “If you’d just listened to me in the first place and let me blow the damn thing up…”’

“No, he never said that,” Daniel argued, recalling that the words were actually his – an opinion his own guilt had projected onto Jack and Teal’c.

‘Not in words, maybe, but it was written all over his face.’

“But there’s no way we could have known the entity set a trap.”

‘So maybe shoot first, ask questions later is the best policy?’

“No. I don’t believe that.”

‘But it is what Jack believes. So where does that leave you?’

Sighing in dismay at the direction the debate was heading, Daniel snatched his glasses from the table and rushed out of his office.  

“Daniel!”

Turning towards the voice, Daniel saw Jack barreling down on him from the far end of the hallway. The older man’s cowlick waved wildly as Jack stalked in his direction, and as he drew nearer, Daniel saw the brows gathered over Jack’s piercing dark eyes.

“I can’t deal with this right now,” he muttered, and turning, hit the nearby stairwell at a jog.

Jack pulled up short, cursing. “Damn, you work fast,” he said to the unknown force. “Son of a bitch.”

*****

Six hours later, the alien retreat reduced to a dumpster-full of unusable parts, and Carter well on her way to a full recovery, Jack paced the small confines of Daniel’s living room.

Having fulfilled his obligations on base, he’d hurried home, hoping to find his archeologist waiting for him. When, after half an hour, Daniel still hadn’t shown up, he’d come to this lover’s apartment. Which, he soon found out, was shy one archeologist.

That’s when the pacing had begun – and had continued nonstop for almost an hour.

Glancing at his watch, again, Jack blew out an exasperated breath and marched to the door, snagging his waterproof poncho on his way past the coat rack.

As his hand approached the doorknob, he detected the rattle of keys on the other side. Stepping back quickly, he just avoided the door that burst inward near his shoulder. A rain-drenched head shot up, startled blue eyes wide.

“Jack.”

“Where the hell have you been?” Jack snapped, using two fingers to grab Daniel by the saturated sleeve and pull him into the apartment.

“I went for a walk,” Daniel said, automatically adopting a defensive tone in response to Jack’s angry one.

“It’s raining,” Jack pointed out, smirking humorlessly when Daniel shot him a ‘duh’ look.

“It suited my mood.” Daniel shrugged, yanking his sleeve out of Jack’s grip and stalking towards the living room.

“Why don’t you take off those wet clothes?” Jack suggested softly as Daniel pushed by him.

“Why don’t you stop telling me what to do?” Daniel whirled on Jack, his flailing arms slinging rain water in every direction. Breathing heavily, Daniel stared hard into Jack’s wary brown eyes.

Biting his tongue to keep it from spitting a response that would surely stoke the fire in Daniel’s eyes, Jack lowered his own eyes and sighed wearily.

“Daniel…” he began.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” Daniel snapped, retreating to the living room.

“I didn’t have a choice!” Jack shouted.

Storming after his lover, Jack grabbed his arm, spinning the younger man around and grasping his biceps. When Daniel flexed instinctively, Jack tightened his hold.

“I’m not made of stone, you know, I do have feelings,” he blurted, hoping the shock of his statement would diffuse Daniel’s ire.

The linguist’s mouth dropped open, and his lips worked mutely. His suddenly slack posture and the severe crease between his brows proclaimed his disconcertment.

“I…,” he finally managed, “I know that. I never said…”

“No, you didn’t,” Jack conceded. “But I bet you thought it, huh?”

Daniel blinked, his features instantly reflecting confusion.

“Come on. Let’s get you out of these wet things,” Jack said, gently cupping Daniel’s elbow.

Staring dumbly at the hand on his arm, Daniel nodded tiredly and allowed himself to be led to the bathroom.

Pulling his own tee shirt over his head, Jack slung the garment into the hamper as he passed it and started the shower running. He turned to Daniel, unzipping the younger man’s coat and helping him remove it.

As Jack slid his soaking jacket off his shoulders, the wrap tumbling to the floor with a wet plop, Daniel studied his lover’s face. Taking in the frown lines around the intense brown eyes and in the corners of Jack’s tightly compressed lips, Daniel sighed.

“This is gonna happen every time we encounter a situation like this, isn’t it? We’re just too different.”

Pausing in his effort to push uncooperative buttons through sopping-wet holes, Jack met Daniel’s disheartened gaze.

“I don’t know,” Jack replied, feeling Daniel deserved the truth, “I can’t tell you the next time will be different. I’m not gonna change, Daniel. This is who I am.”

“And I can’t be what you want, Jack,” Daniel cried. “I can’t… stop trying to find ways around the killing.”

Detecting shivers under his fingers, either from distress or the damp cloth still clinging to the slight frame, Jack quickly undid the buttons on Daniel’s shirt and stripped it from him, gently pulling the material free from the waistband of his jeans.

“I don’t want you to be anyone but who you are, Daniel,” Jack said earnestly. He dropped the shirt on the floor and unfastened the button on Daniel’s pants, slowly lowering the zipper. “I need your ‘peaceful explorer’ disposition to balance my suspicious nature.”

Sliding his hands around the trim waist, Jack pulled Daniel in, hugging the younger man tightly to him, shivering himself when his warm skin met the rain-chilled chest.

Stiffening slightly, Daniel soon slumped into the embrace. Wrapping his arms around his lover, he sighed wearily.

“I don’t want to fight with you, Jack,” Daniel breathed, his fingers pressing further into the older man’s flesh.

Jack tenderly cupped the back of Daniel’s head, guiding it to rest on his shoulder. The soft puffs of Daniel’s breath against his neck were rapid, belying the younger man’s relaxed stance.

“I don’t want to fight with you either, Daniel,” Jack said, placing a soothing kiss on the still-troubled brow, “But it’s gonna happen. We can’t have it both ways – sometimes your ‘let’s be friends’ inclination will work. And sometimes blowing the bastards to hell is the only possible response.”

Daniel stirred in Jack’s hold. “And that’s the one we should have used this time,” he whispered.
Jack tilted his head sideways and glanced at the tense face nestled against his shoulder. 

“It would have prevented the problem, yeah,” Jack confirmed, quirking his mouth when Daniel winced against his neck. “But you were right. There was no way to know, until that thing attacked Carter, that it was dangerous. You had to try.”

Jack smiled when he felt Daniel’s eyebrows scrape his neck on their way up the archeologist’s forehead. He schooled his features quickly when Daniel lifted his head and looked him in the eye.

“You think I was right to try communicating with it? In spite of what happened to Sam?”

Jack held Daniel’s steady gaze, deeply moved by the surprised, yet hopeful, quality of the stare.

“Carter thinks so,” Jack shrugged. “You two oughta know. You’re the brainiacs. I’m just the dumb grunt on this team.”

“Right,” Daniel snorted. Then dropping his gaze, all humor gone, he muttered, “The dumb grunt who saved our asses.”

Daniel sighed heavily. “It never occurred to me to threaten it – that that might be what it would take to get Sam back. I thought I could reason with it.” He sighed again. “If you hadn’t stepped in…”

“See, what’d I tell ya?” Jack said good-naturedly, intending to put an end to Daniel’s determined self-deprecation. “We compliment each other. It’s a match made in heaven.”

When Daniel’s head came up, Jack pulled back slightly, gazing into still-dubious blue eyes.

“You’re gonna have to trust me on this, Daniel. Our differences are what make us a strong team. Out there,” Jack aimed his chin in the direction of the uncaring universe he had so recently rebuked, “And in there,” he cocked his head towards the bedroom, wagging his eyebrows.

Daniel ducked his head and smiled shyly, a slow blush coloring his cheeks. When he looked up, Jack was gratified to find the smile touched Daniel’s eyes as well. It was a good start.

“What do you say we call a truce,” Jack proposed, “a laying down of arms, as it were? We’ve already wasted too much time on this.” He slid his hand down Daniel’s back, gently kneading the long, lean muscles. “And there are so many other, better, things we could be doing.”

“What did you have in mind, Colonel?” Daniel asked, his ever-curious eyes searching Jack’s face as though looking for a clue.

Bending slightly, Jack peeled Daniel’s damp denims from his ass, slipping his hands beneath the fabric to cup his lover’s cheeks.

“I thought we might try a little non-verbal communication,” he murmured. Capturing Daniel’s lips with his own, he pressed his groin into Daniel’s hip – transmitting a message of love and desire his skilled linguist was sure to quickly decipher.

And as Daniel felt his body respond to Jack’s ministrations, he allowed the tension of their discord to melt away, lulled into contentment by the warm, steamy, shower-misted air and the warm, steamy kisses Jack plied to his mouth and neck.

They would clash again, their divergent natures ensured it. But, as Jack said, those differences were what made them strong – together. They could be two halves of the same whole without losing who they were individually.

‘A match made in heaven, indeed.’

 

The End

 

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