They Don't Come Back
"We have rules about that stuff..." Jack waggled a finger in the direction of Reynolds's BDU pants pocket, to the lid of a small bottle of something that was peeking out. He studied the man standing before him; the tense stance, one hand clearly fisted in a pocket, the other resting on the back of his neck, and the haunted look in his eyes that pretty much mirrored his own.
Reynolds quickly closed the door and looked to the vacant chair in front of Jack's desk, just long enough for Jack to catch on and gesture for him to sit.
"Something on your mind?"
One half of a name that Jack both loved and hated. The love was muted and private, out of sight from pretty much everyone except his team... and even then. But the hate was palpable and couldn't be locked away, simply because he wore it like a badge of office. He didn't hate Daniel. Just the opposite. But he hated the emotional pain the mere thought of him elicited. The loss, the wondering, the yearning for a sense of normalcy that included having Daniel back by his side. And the grief he saw in Teal'c and Carter that left him aching inside.
"What about him?"
"For a guy that just got his best friend back--"
"Best friend?" Jack tried on surprise, but found it didn't fit.
"Could be overstating the relationship."
Reynolds pulled the small bottle of whiskey from his pocket and held it up. "Got glasses?"
Of course he did, and when Reynolds didn't stop at one finger, Jack figured he'd be off the clock for the rest of the day. "Should I say 'when'?"
Reynolds capped the bottle, shoved it back in his pocket, and nudged the nearly full glass towards Jack. "There is no life after death."
"Our destiny is death."
"Color me surprised," Reynolds said smugly, taking a sip from his glass. "I didn't take you for a C.S. Lewis man."
"My mother."
"Narnia fan?"
"Only in the literary sense. Doubt she would have parted with a dime at the box office."
"My kids loved it."
"Yeah. So... Jackson?"
"What about him?" It was about then that Jack wished for some ice. There was something special about watching it melt slowly in a glass of the finest blend. At least he could credit Reynolds with having the sense to buy something decent for their impromptu... whatever this was.
"You know, before you dragged me to this place--"
Reynolds shrugged. "Dragged, recruited... it's all the same."
"I believe I gave you a choice. Actually, I think it was Carter who--"
"Maybourne was pissed."
"Maybourne is an ass."
"He was also my boss."
"And yet... still an ass."
Reynolds eyed him over the rim of his glass. "We're too old for this crap."
"Drinking scotch at 3 in the afternoon?"
"What do you want, Al? A debrief?"
"If you want."
Jack set his glass down and pushed it just out of reach. "Not going to happen."
"We never get them back. You realize that, don't you?"
As straight to the point as Reynolds was, Jack just didn't feel up to having a sharing moment. Truth in honesty, and if he could bring himself to say so, he wouldn't even be here in the mountain if he believed he could find some peace at home.
"Never," Reynolds continued on, seemingly oblivious to Jack's discomfort. "At least I haven't. And watching him come wandering into our perimeter, seeing him in my crosshairs, well..."
"Turned you on your ass?"
"They just... they don't come back."
"Expect The Unexpected 101."
"Lazarus Jackson?"
"Same shirt, different wording. We've all got one. Mine's a size XL..."
"Yeah, well..." Sometimes solace could be found in the dregs at the bottom of a glass. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment."
"Hebrews 9:27." Jack was full of surprises. "I know you've read our mission reports."
Reynolds lifted his gaze quickly and stared hard at Jack, as though seeing him for the first time. "Words on a page."
"No... intel. That's why we bother writing them."
"This is different and you know it."
He did. He just didn't care to admit to it.

The End




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