Veiled Truths
// = flashbacks
//The temple was beautiful, filled with fascinating insights to the Melenkov culture and adorned with gold and jewels. It was clearly the pride of the community and maintained with painstaking care. Normally, Daniel would be oblivious to everything except the writing on the walls and monuments, but for some reason he couldn't seem to concentrate. Catching only snippets of the translation, he was beginning to wonder at the seeming contradiction unfolding in his mind and before his eyes. He shook his head and fiddled with the video camera, documenting it all so he could study it back at the SGC when he was more at ease. Perhaps there he could get a line on what the root of the incongruity was. Beside him, Sam crouched, making half-hearted attempts to study what looked to him like a giant, gold plated artichoke.
"Any idea what it does or did?" Daniel asked in a vain attempt to distract himself from the agitation he was inexplicably feeling.
"No clue," she replied, giving it a slap with the palm of her hand. Rising, she slowly circled and checked the natives who had followed them inside the building. She made a show of stretching, then stooped back down, whispering, "Daniel, I've got a really weird feeling about this."
Startled to learn she felt uncomfortable as well, Daniel frowned. It wasn't unusual for the inhabitants of worlds they visited to tag along behind them a bit, but in most cases some sort of interaction also took place. Since splitting from Jack and Teal'c, he and Sam had been trailed by a crowd he'd not describe as friendly - any attempts he'd made at starting a conversation had been met by dead silence. When SG1 had first arrived, they'd been greeted by a contingent of people who seemed gracious enough, which made the drastic change in attitude all the more perplexing. Not that they were openly hostile, just...peculiar. There was something about them and the temple that didn't sit right; an indescribable fear that he was missing something grew within him, and he couldn't seem to shake it.
"So do I. Maybe we should go find Jack and Teal'c," he suggested, turning the camera off and stowing it in his backpack. Remembering Jack's dismissal when they'd broken off, Daniel knew a good teasing session was likely - it was the mood his friend was in. He didn't care if Jack made fun of their nervousness. His gut was telling him something and by now he knew better than to ignore that intuition, no matter how unclear it was. Especially when it leaned toward the negative and was reaffirmed by someone else.
"I agree," Sam stated. "Besides, I'm pretty sure I heard the colonel mention getting something to eat, and I'm hungry."
"He always manages to find food, doesn't he?"
They chatted inanely, gathering their things as quickly as possible. Daniel knew he wasn't imagining that the people were both coming closer to them and increasing in number, still maintaining their eerie silence. Standing up again, he fumbled with his notepad, dropping it onto the floor. He stopped mid-crouch, eyes catching something on the ground that sent ice through his veins. The inclination that he and Sam were in big trouble grew into conviction. He'd literally been standing on a drawing that would have signaled them to leave moments after arriving at the temple. How the hell had he missed it? Seeking further confirmation, he glanced at the faces around him. Most wore expressions of distaste bordering on hate. Oh, God.
"Normally, I wouldn't recommend aggression...but, Sam? I think we should be prepared for an incident," he hoarsely whispered. He was so stupid. It should never have taken this long to figure it out. He'd gotten Sam smack dab in the center of a temple that seemed to be solely built for ritual sacrifices, decorative outside appearance contradicting its horrible purpose. The images reflected only young children and even babies as the victims, their meaning now agonizingly obvious. Where had his head been? He should have interpreted some hint of this sooner. And now he knew why those babies were being sacrificed.
The eyes.
Mind still automatically translating the words and pictures, he realized that the children of the Melenkov were given one year. If a child's eyes failed to change from blue or green to a darker 'acceptable' color, it was brought to the temple where the community saw fit to cleanse its population. He knew what that meant for Sam and him, grasping that he wasn't seeing the recordings of a defunct ritual. This bias was alive and well, as was the danger they were in. If there ever had been a real purpose to the ceremony, there wasn't any longer. Only hate. They had to get out and find Jack and Teal'c. Now.
Lost in thought, Daniel jerked back to grim reality when Sam abruptly discharged her MP5 into the air. Shit. The crowd was closing in on them fast; too fast for him to grab his own weapon. Angry dark eyes spit fire as probing hands yanked his arms behind his back. With brutality, his sidearm was removed and he was shoved backwards, Sam's protestations ringing loudly in his ears. Beyond that, the people started calling out harsh invectives and spit at them with viciousness. Surprisingly, though, they weren't touched - merely prodded into the middle of the big room. Daniel instinctively raised his hands in the air, wondering if they really had any chance to negotiate out of the situation.
"Daniel, what did we do?" Sam asked in a hushed, wary tone. Like him, she had her hands raised, but was tense and ready for action if an opportunity arose. "Did we touch something we shouldn't have?"
He wanted to tell her what he knew, but their captors seemed to become angrier at her voice. His would only provoke them further. Shaking his head, Daniel knew the real reason he didn't want to tell her was selfish in nature. He'd never shirked responsibility before, why the hell was he doing it now? Desperately, he looked over to his friend and lost control for a second, crying, "Oh, God. Sam, they think we're...we have to get out of here now." He faced the throng, trying not to wince at the hatred billowing back toward him. "Please, you don't understand. If we could just...our friends can explain!"
Eyes widening in sudden comprehension, Sam shot a fleeting look to the crowd and then focused back on him. She shook her head and opened her mouth to speak. Too late. Daniel knew it was already too late as the ominous sound of the MP5 being readied to fire indistinctly registered in the back of his mind. An explosion of sound and activity dominated his senses, strangely distorted as time seemed to slow. A new voice entered the verbal melee and he recognized it instantly, unconsciously turning to its source.
Locking his gaze on Jack's approaching form, Daniel saw red showering all around him. Felt and heard Sam falling, felt his own body being almost numbly impacted and his balance destroyed. Thunder rolled in his head and he could think of only one thing. He'd killed Sam.
Blackness shadowed his vision as agonizing pain unleashed itself. He was on his back on top of Sam's legs, unsure of how he'd gotten there, his throat burning as he choked on the blood welling in it. Fighting to breathe past the horrible sensation, Daniel could only manage shallow gasps, each one causing more hurt. He heard someone speaking but couldn't decipher the warped words through the buzzing static playing in his head. Sam. Struggling to stay awake, Daniel focused on the figure bending over her. Jack. He saw the fear on his friend's face. Saw the blame.
Leaning toward his friends, Daniel tried to get a line on Sam. Hoped she might show some signs of life. The movement caused pain to rocket through him, and he heard himself groan. At the sound, Jack looked over to him and abandoned Sam. No. Stay with her. He wanted to scream. Tried. Something vilely wet dripped on his chin, so hot it felt as though it were burning him.
"Sam?" he finally managed to whisper, attempting to focus his vision solely on Jack.
He saw Jack's mouth moving, but the buzzing in his ears sawed viciously and drowned out the words. He didn't need to hear them - his vision cleared and he saw they were written all over the stunned face hovering above him. Not right. Jack never panicked. Trembling hands belied that belief, the warmth on his chin spreading as gentle fingers swept across it then moved to rest on his cheek. His own harsh rasps of breath echoed loudly in his head, and he was fading. Jack suddenly disappeared from view, rougher hands pulling him away from the only solidity he seemed capable of discerning. He moaned, fighting to find that anchor again. Before losing the battle to remain conscious, Daniel found what he was looking for and saw undeniable truth in Jack's stark eyes.
Sam was dead. He'd killed her.//
Consciousness came with unsubtle abruptness, Sam's name instinctively and reactively forming on his lips. Daniel gagged, unable to give voice to his cry, as his throat was obstructed by something thick and intrusive. Fishing around, he panicked at the asphyxiating feeling, barely aware of a numb, throbbing pain coursing through his entire body. He remembered it all. Oh, Sam. God, dead. All his fault. He squeezed his eyes shut against the terrible truth, that pain outweighing any physical symptoms.
"Teal'c, get Fraiser! Now!"
The booming voice startled him and settled him simultaneously, providing a grain of solid reality. Daniel continued to struggle in hands that grasped his arms firmly, weakly trying to wrench free. The hands gentled as if they could tell he was not a real threat to them, switching from a vise-like grip to rub his upper arms in a steady, soothing rhythm. Choking, he tried to groan a protest. He didn't deserve such comfort. His friend was dead.
"Danny, it's okay, you're okay. Please stop before you hurt yourself," his well-meaning bedside torturer continued, tone softer than before.
He sagged back into the soft pillow in compliance, muscles not completely losing their tenseness. Opening his eyes again, Daniel found Jack's face only inches from his own, looking much older than he remembered, beard growth adding years. Jack said it was okay. Did that mean Sam was alive? Torn between that assurance and what he believed to be true, he forced himself to relax, aided as adrenalin escaped him. His muscles gave in to complacency. Nodding, he winced as the breathing tube shifted slightly and the numb pain he'd felt before intensified, his actions provoking the injuries to rebel.
"It's okay," Jack repeated, almost as if he were reassuring himself as well as Daniel. The older man shifted slightly, moving back a few inches. Daniel tried to read the expression, afraid to find evidence of what he already knew. He was alive and Sam was dead. His fault. "You've been unconscious for over twenty four hours. Had everyone worried. Had me worried."
He blinked, all too aware of the tears brimming in his eyes. Jack blurred and Daniel was glad. Not ready to face the certainty of his error, he scrunched his eyelids shut tighter to purge the hot tears. They tracked down his temples, scalding all the way. The massaging hands stopped momentarily, one withdrawing. Despite believing himself unworthy, he instantly missed the comforting touch and wanted it back. Still, he started at the unexpectedness of Jack's fingers changing their task to brush first one side of his face, then the other. The tears were removed, hand lingering to cup one of his cheeks, consciously or unconsciously mirroring the position it had held back at the temple.
"I'm sorry, Daniel."
The words were spoken so quietly Daniel nearly missed them. Stunned, he pried his eyes open and saw terrible emotions lighting Jack's face. He recognized them all as reflections of his own fear, guilt, blame. Before he could process anything, the older man suddenly disappeared from his sight, replaced by Doctor Fraiser.
"It's about time you rejoined us, Doctor Jackson," she chided, her worried expression saying she obviously did not intend the words to scold. Carrying out her examination with efficiency, the doctor's hands flew to check his torso. He cringed away when slender fingers pressed on sore flesh, the pain only reminding him of his survival and failure. He didn't want it to be true, none of it. Didn't want Sam to be dead. Didn't know if he could live with the loss. "I think we can remove this tube, don't you?"
Vaguely aware of Jack standing worriedly off to the side, Daniel turned his head to locate his friend. Hazily, he fixed his gaze on the colonel, brow furrowing at Jack's expression. It still bore the markers of blame, though the eyes seemed to have softened a little. His mind scrabbled to understand, inhibited by pain medication. Noticing Teal'c standing next to Jack, he witnessed a similarly haunted expression on the Jaffa's face. He gagged when he lifted his head from the pillow as though the action would help clarify his confusion.
"Oh, no you don't," Janet said firmly, guiding him back down. "Daniel, I need you to focus on me. When I count to three, I need you to blow for me, okay? It's probably going to hurt a whole lot, but you'll be rid of this thing."
Blinking his understanding, Daniel waited with slight fear for his cue to exhale. The doctor counted slowly, and he could hear the monitors beeping faster in conjunction with his rapidly beating heart. At last, she reached three and he blew weakly. A fit of coughs wracked him, the strength of the pain stabbing him, catching him unprepared. Gagging again, he finally expelled the tube but he couldn't stop the barking coughs. He tried to ride the wave of agony, accepting it as a form of punishment for his stupidity.
"Breathe, Daniel," he heard Doctor Fraiser order. God, he was trying! "You need to relax."
Jack slid between the doctor and him, hands returning to the comforting massage from earlier. More from those ministrations than any conscious effort, Daniel gradually calmed and regained control over his breathing. As the moment of chaos and due pain faded, he was assaulted again with the horrifying reminder of Sam. He closed his eyes as Jack and Janet hovered and fussed, jerking them open wide when he felt something cold and wet touch his lips.
"Ice chips for your throat," Jack shakily whispered, left hand swabbing Daniel's chin. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his friend rub his palm on a pant leg and the smear of blood staining the cloth dark. The older man's eyes riveted to the blotch for a long second before he looked up. "You okay?"
Daniel took the ice gratefully, the coldness soothing his raw throat. He wasn't sure how to respond to Jack's question. Physically, he hurt all over. Emotionally, he hurt even more. He finally gave a slight nod, averting his face to prevent his expression from giving the truth away.
"I'll leave you gentlemen alone," Doctor Fraiser murmured. "But I won't be far away in case you need me."
She left them in silence, footsteps resounding in the infirmary. Daniel kept his face turned from his friends but knew he couldn't avoid the facts for long. They would have told him if Sam was anything other than dead. Swallowing heavily, he swiveled his neck to meet Jack's intense gaze. Despite knowing the answer, he couldn't prevent himself from croaking, "Sam's dead, isn't she?"
Jack's mouth dropped open, eyes widening. For long seconds, Daniel unblinkingly sustained the stare before he switched to Teal'c. The Jaffa clenched his jaw once, bowing his head slightly. Battling the tears springing again into his eyes, he burrowed his head into the pillow. He fought to bury his distress, to hide it away so it couldn't really hurt him. He had no idea why his first impulse was to do such a thing. It was a defense mechanism that didn't work, though he guessed that to observers he would reflect complete blankness - a sort of barrier set up to ward people away. To protect himself from external hurt.
"She is not, Daniel Jackson, though, like you her wounds are severe."
"Not? She's not dead?" he babbled. Relief and confusion soared, and Daniel felt a pressure in his chest lift. Not dead? If Sam wasn't dead, why did Jack and Teal'c still look so...wrong? Studying them, he could see the anguish smoldering in their eyes as strongly as when he'd first noticed it. He focused on Jack, knowing he'd be able to read the truth in his face. With a start, he discerned the censure there was not for him. Jack and Teal'c blamed themselves for what had happened to him and Sam. Had been punishing themselves for it. He thought he read something else, something hidden even deeper within them but like on the planet, he couldn't seem to decipher it.
"Where is she?" he asked, needing proof Sam was alive.
"She's still out, Daniel. Fraiser says she should wake up soon. She's going to be okay. You both are," Jack quietly said. "Why don't you try and get some sleep?"
"I have to see her. Please, Jack," he feebly rasped. Despite the pain medication's sedative effects, Daniel wouldn't sleep until he saw Sam's eyes open. His head was amazingly clear, and if he was resolved to anything, this was it. The fact that she was injured because of him wouldn't go away, but seeing her might help. He needed to know he hadn't lost a friend. "All my fault. I have to know for sure...I have to see her."
A wounded grimace danced across Jack's features, and the older man looked away from him. For an instant, he doubted whether they were telling him the truth. Desperately, he raised his shoulders off the bed and suffered the consequences when pain wracked him again. This time, it was Teal'c who came to his aid, strong arms gently pinning him back down.
"You must not move, Daniel Jackson. Major Carter is in a private room."
"Private?" he gasped. Those rooms were reserved for those needing intensive care. Oh, God.
"She's going to be fine. Fraiser just wanted to keep an eye on her - she's got a fever. They took her tube out this morning when she showed signs of waking, unlike you. Apparently you wanted to make a dramatic revival. And how could this have been your fault?" Jack sneaked the question in smoothly and lightly, but Daniel heard the seriousness in the tone.
"Should have seen -"
"Well, as Teal'c is fond of saying - it was no more your fault than mine."
"As it was no more your fault than mine, O'Neill."
Daniel stared at them, slowly figuring out they'd had a similar conversation already. He also realized that no matter how many times they absolved each other and themselves of blame, they'd maintain the self-guilt. So he simply nodded, reiterating, "Jack, please. There has to be a way for me to see her."
Deliberating, Jack furrowed his eyebrows. The colonel made a visual check up and down the length of the bed, frown deepening. Daniel knew he shouldn't be moved and his heart sank. Grunting, the other man thumped his left hand on his thigh, right above the streak of now dry blood. Jack had to see how important this was. How much he needed it.
"I'll go find Fraiser and ask if we can wheel you in or wheel Carter out. But I can't guarantee anything," Jack conceded. "She really is going to be fine."
"I think I know that, Jack, but I have to see," he pleaded. He could be told five hundred times - five *thousand *- and it still wouldn't make his need go away.
"I'll be right back."
As he watched Jack depart, Teal'c moved to stand directly in the path of his vision. Though only minutes before both of his friends had declared each other faultless, Daniel had a good idea what was coming; he could read it in the big warrior's entire countenance. Unconsciously, he shook his head at the strangeness of the ritual that was about to take place.
"It is indeed good to see your eyes open, Daniel Jackson. For a time, I did not believe they ever would again. Such a thing is unacceptable," Teal'c stated, sitting down on the bed next to his. Bowing his head slightly, the Jaffa said nothing more.
Shocked for a countless time since he'd awakened, Daniel blinked. That hadn't been what he'd expected to hear, but it filled him with a welcome yet discomfiting feeling. Somewhere along the line, he'd let each of his teammates - and General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser - into a circle of people he cared deeply for, and in doing so opened himself up for a whole lot of hurt. Like Teal'c was saying without saying, if he lost any of his friends it would cut him to the core. Wondering how long ago his wall of protection had been penetrated, he furrowed his eyebrows. Too long to remember?
"Thank you, Teal'c," he whispered, grateful for the sentiment and for the omission of an unnecessary apology. The comfort of Teal'c's friendship was worth more than both of those things combined. Thinking his companion would be uncomfortable if he acknowledged his understanding openly, he simply asked, "Can I have some more ice?"
Instantly at his side, Teal'c's hands betrayed his stoicism as he unsteadily handed over the glass as if Daniel's hands clasping around it was a miracle. Holding his friend's eye, Daniel tried to issue a deep, silent look, hoping Teal'c would understand that he understood - the responsibility, the fear, everything. Loads to share. Even as he was unable to totally let go his own feeling of culpability, he sensed the same was true of his friends. Likely Sam would, too, if...when...she woke up. They were all too close not to have their own lives intertwined with each other's. The ice melted in his mouth, gliding down his throat. A temporary balm for the hurt, but better than nothing at all.
"Teal'c?" Jack approached them, face still dark. Daniel frowned, fumbling to place the cup back on his tray with hands that didn't want to function. Teal'c removed his burden, hands firmly staying over his. Drawing up to the bed, the colonel continued, "I think Fraiser's going to cave and bring Carter out here. Want to go finish convincing her and help her nurses with the bed?"
Cocking his eyebrow, Teal'c looked at Jack, hands still on top of Daniel's. Where he would normally have felt self conscious, Daniel felt no embarrassment. The fingers gave a light squeeze before they disappeared, his Jaffa friend leaving the room without a word. He hoped Teal'c had been able to find some resolution to his inner guilt, though he doubted he'd ever know for sure. He didn't think it likely, given his own experiences in guilt retention.
No more than three seconds passed, then Jack filled the open space at his side, perching on the edge of the mattress. Deliberately avoiding his friend's face, he watched the door for signs of Sam. Despite the desire to stay awake, Daniel was slowly becoming more lethargic and sleepy. Finally switching his gaze to Jack, he was surprised to find the other man was not looking at him as though he were about to disappear but at his own hands, held palm up. It worried more than ever than any overt signs of concern would have. So did the pervading silence. Daniel leaned toward Jack, left shoulder raising off the bed just enough to irritate the spikes of pain disguised by medication.
"I had myself convinced the guilt would go away when you woke up but it hasn't. Of course, I could always blame that on Carter not being awake yet. When she opens her eyes then, then, I'll feel better," Jack intoned, snorting once, fisting his hands, and looking up to Daniel at last. "Do you know how close you came to dying?"
Daniel knew precisely how close he came to dying but in gauging Jack's face and tone of voice, he guessed the question to be rhetorical or a different one altogether. Moving his eyes to Jack's hands, he wished he could remove the guilt...the blood...he thought must be staining them, at least in his friend's subjective perceptions. He was sure Jack wouldn't allow the absolution, no matter whom it came from because it wasn't an outside source he needed it from. Teal'c hadn't. He couldn't even give himself that peace. It was too much to expect from any of them.
"Yes, I do, Jack. But I'm not dead - neither of us are," he whispered, still focused on the balled hands. Unconsciously, he weakly tightened his own hands into fists in a mirror of Jack's stance. Again, the image of Sam's blood flooding the air and bathing everything in crimson appeared in front of him. Worse than the horrific physical images was the resurgence of the feeling he'd had at just that moment - the one he couldn't rid himself even though Sam was going to be okay. The knowledge that he should have prevented the whole thing from happening; of thinking he'd killed his friend. Shuddering, Daniel's chest seized slightly and he resisted the cough brewing within. Eyes tearing with the effort, he managed, "I know..."
"You do, don't you? Of course you do. God, Daniel," Jack interrupted, rubbing his face with one hand while blindly reaching to clasp Daniel's forearm with the other. "I don't know if I can take it anymore. All this...all of you... it's too-"
Before Jack could coherently finish his confession, Daniel heard a bustle of activity approaching. Jumping off of the bed, Jack spun away from him as Teal'c, Doctor Fraiser, and an entourage of nurses wheeled Sam's gurney and all of the medical equipment toward them. The dismal parade stopped as two of the white-clad nurses moved the empty bed away from him, making room for his new infirmary-mate. With the promise of seeing Sam soon, he found he was wide awake again, able to wrestle the effects of the drugs and shelve the residual pain. Not unlike Jack, he hoped to gain a little reassurance in seeing her rouse at last, all the while knowing it wouldn't be cathartic in the least.
Doctor Fraiser left her position at Sam's bed to sternly nudge his shoulders back down, squeezing them instead of issuing a reprimand. Conscientiously standing as to not block his view, she laid a hand on his forehead to check his temperature even though his monitors clearly displayed the number. She said casually, "The things I do for you guys. I really shouldn't have agreed, but with first Colonel O'Neill, then Teal'c, and finally Sam hounding me..."
Sam? Awake? Eyes widening at her subtle revelation, Daniel tried to scoot out from under her hand, twisting his neck to peer at the bed being situated next to him. Removing her hand, Doctor Fraiser stepped over to Sam's side, busily checking the equipment over and smiling. His throat suddenly felt as though it still housed the breathing tube as he confirmed that Sam was indeed conscious, seeing the fingers of her right hand twitch slightly.
"Sam?" he called, needing her to turn her head toward him and getting just that. But he was right - seeing her pallid face, the wires and tubes attached to her body, didn't help. It simply reminded him of the truth of how close he came to losing her. The truth of how that would have killed him though his physical injuries had not.
"Daniel?" she faintly frogged back, her hand fluttering more aggressively and erratically. Teal'c stood on the far side of her bed, facing both of them, and he moved to still her attempts to sit up. "You're okay? I thought...thought you were dead."
He was right again. Her choked voice said more than her actual words - he could hear the recrimination and fear in them. Knew she thought herself as responsible as the rest of them believed themselves to be. Knew the cause of that guilt was based in something ultimately good.
"I'm...fine," he whispered, finally raising his eyes to meet hers and saw the naked physical and emotional pain radiating from them. Shaking his head at her distressed expression, Daniel silently told her not to be upset. "You?"
"Feel like hell," she called, frowning slightly at his headshake.
The answer was so honest he couldn't contain the laughter, which promptly turned into a wheezing cough. Jack vaulted toward him from where he'd been nervously dancing at the foot of the bed, hands flying from the protective cove of his pockets - ever prepared to steady him. And it was then Daniel finally understood the intensity of the truth they all were veiling. It wasn't the truth of their own guilt - it was of how deep the pain of near loss caused and cost them. And how much a real loss would wound the surviving members.
"Yeah," he agreed when he was able to speak again, both to Sam's assessment and his realization. She nodded as if she was privy to his thoughts, smiling slightly. With that smile, Daniel knew without a doubt that he was willing to risk the pain inherent with letting people in. No, it wasn't a new resolution at all. He'd been willing for years, telling himself his inner fortress was strongly built when in truth it only took a small fissure to break all the way through. Now that he admitted to himself that his friends had already smashed into it, he had no intention of letting them out.
"Hey Carter," Jack interposed into the conversation. He gave Daniel's shoulders a final pat, then moved over to the major's bed. As he did so, Daniel noticed he didn't completely turn his back away, taking up an encompassing pose. "It's good to have you back."
Jack didn't say anything else, foregoing his typical lighthearted attempts to move past intense moments, and they all succumbed to silence. Teal'c tilted his head at Sam in some unspoken communication that Daniel thought he could interpret to mean a conversation had already taken place between the two. He strode around to stand in between the feet of both gurneys, one hand protectively resting on each mattress. Taking in each of their positions, Daniel instantly equated the physical circle they had formed with the figurative one used to define close friendship. He smiled to himself, closing his eyes as exhaustion gained more ground over will.
Dimly aware of Doctor Fraiser's hushed words of departure, Daniel tried to open his eyes again. There was so much more that should be said - walls that needed breaching once and for all. Even as he thought it, he knew how unlikely that was to happen. Sometimes the most important emotions to share would remain the most elusive; always present but scarcely revealed. Jack's nearly spoken confession and Teal'c's cloudy declaration were probably as close as any of them would ever get to actually admitting the truth of their bond. Didn't matter.
He was sure that now each of them knew their respective walls were built of plywood, thin and easy to dismantle. Inside were the important feelings, tucked behind the facades, safely hidden from the rest of the world. It was at once scary to know he had people in his life that he would ache for if he lost and reassuring to know those people loved him in the same way. They might never come right out and say so, but Daniel knew. And in knowing he could live with the disguises donned to provide a semblance of protection.
As sleep completely took over, Daniel felt Jack's hand rest upon his head and he smiled.
The End


The Face we choose to miss,
Be it but for a day -
As absent as a hundred years
When it has rode away.
Of so divine a loss
We enter but the gain,
Indemnity for loneliness
That such a bliss has been.

  • Emily Dickinson
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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.