Quiet Retreat

He should have been alone, but he could hear someone else not far away.
“Black ops training failing you, Jack?” Daniel climbed to his feet and tossed the rock he’d been holding into the nearby stream, watching with satisfaction as it bounced off the surface a few times before sinking. A single huffed snort from Jack, bare recognition of having been caught sneaking up on him, let Daniel know he was in for company… whether he wanted it or not. This vacation, a week away from the SGC and chance to regroup and recover from months of being pushed and toyed with by the Ori, hardly provided the modicum of breathing space Daniel needed. And having Jack join him hadn’t been part of the plan.
Their friendship would always be strong, but a measure of sadness tainted the veneer now, leaving an indelible mark on both of them. Jack’s decision to leave the SGC had been a selfish act on his own part; at least that was how Daniel looked at the decision. Not selfish because of some preconceived notion that Jack owed the SGC or even SG1 a greater service than he had already provided, but because Jack wanted something Daniel wasn’t prepared to give.
He wanted Daniel.
It had always been there between them—a bond that stretched and contracted with every good and bad thing that happened in their lives, but Daniel’s rejection took what they had and put a kink in it. And so Jack had done the only thing he thought he could and left for Washington.
Even now, two years on, and despite the few times Jack had been back at the SGC for one thing or another, Daniel had always regretted his decision. Everything he’d ever done in his life was for the benefit of others, rarely for himself. He looked at the bigger picture of what a relationship with Jack might do for either of them if it became public, but he didn’t count on Jack taking the heavy step of walking away completely when faced with something he couldn’t have. Daniel’s decision was pre-empted by the thought of Jack remaining at the SGC and being caught in a relationship with someone under his command. DADT never factored into why Daniel pushed him away. For him, love had no gender boundaries and homosexuality had never been an issue.
“Never worked with you anyway.” Jack nudged Daniel’s shoulder lightly and handed him a bottle of water. “It’s hot out here. Thought you might need this.”
Daniel nodded once and took the bottle. “Not beer?”
“Back at the cabin. Had a hell of a time finding this place. You could have left some directions.”
“The idea was not to be found.”
“Yeah, Mitchell said that. Bad?”
The sun was high overhead and beating heat down in intense waves. Behind them a grove of woods stretched off in both directions, but to the left it cut inland to intersect with the stream at its widest point, and at the place they met stood Daniel’s cabin. The one he’d bought years ago and never told his team about until just recently. It was his Mecca, his place to come when he needed the type of peace and quiet a weekend at Chez O’Neill’s had never provided. “Only if being debriefed is meant to be fun.”
“Uh, huh. So… bad? Sorry about that.”
Daniel shrugged halfheartedly and nodded towards the cabin in a silent suggestion that they should get out of the sun. “You could have stayed.”
“For the briefing? I was part of the mission as well. You know how the military is about their rules.”
“But Woolsey? Bit of a cop-out when he was just as involved.”
“Don’t be too hard on him, Daniel. He was a puppet for the IOA, nothing more. I don’t think he liked the decision to end your life anymore than the rest of us did.”
“I heard he pissed his pants.”
The memory of Woosley rising off the floor, his fear so open and terrifying that he’d wet himself, made Daniel smile. But the smile faded instantly when his mind automatically tried to take him to a place where he could remember the feel of the power he temporarily wielded as a Prior.
A hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed it gently, followed by a hushed, “Don’t.”
“Sorry.” He sucked in a ragged breath and tried to clear his mind. “It happens and I can’t stop it.”
“Lam is worried about you.”
“Just her?”
“We all are. Ascended being, Prior of the Ori, galactic gigolo…”
“Gigolo? Really?”
“Okay, so alien princesses have a thing for you.”
“I’d hardly call Adria a princess, Jack.”
“She counts in the numbers, Daniel. I’ve been keeping a list.”
“Jealous?” Daniel regretted saying the word the moment it left his lips. “Sorry,” he said after a moment when it was clear Jack wasn’t going to respond. “I didn’t mean anything…”
“Let it go, Daniel.”
Inside the cabin, ceiling fans turned lazily overhead in tune with the light breeze filtering through an open window in the living room. Daniel spotted Jack’s bags up against the wall between his bedroom and the door to the spare room. Haphazardly placed there by a first time visitor or was this Jack still holding out hope for something more after all this time? “Planning on staying a while?”
“Only if you’re up for the company.”
“Yeah. I think I finally am.”

The End


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