Chasing Oblivion


He slid gently onto the padded stool, eyes closing momentarily in gratitude for the low, amber glow cast from faux antique lanterns suspended high above the polished walnut bar, their soft light barely reflecting from the velvety surface of the burnished panel across from him where shelves held curved and streamlined bottles filled with liquid that ranged from startlingly clear to darkly russet, their labels purposefully turned to the side to hide the stark modernity from view, allowing the patrons to pretend they’d entered another time, another place far removed from their reality.  A sudden lessening of tension – tightly held control slipping from his bruised neck, down strained and aching shoulders, to flow down his arms and out through his fingertips as if to pour onto the smooth, worn surface of the aged bar, to mingle with other stains, other spills of pain and streams of hurt, and to lay, forgotten, beneath the heady aroma of bourbon, juniper, and smoke.  Sometimes, here, he let the fantasy play over him, allowed his life to fade away and so became a man without a past written plainly on his face, who others couldn’t see without the shadows of ancient tragedies and losses sharpening his bones and filming his eyes.  Just a man, weary from a day’s work, from commonplace worries.  Not someone who dealt with demons, slew monsters, solved the mysteries of the universe.

One hand raised in a brief salute drew the black-clad bartender towards him, his eyes quietly welcoming.  Daniel nodded, tapping one finger against the bar twice, receiving in return a half-smile and an acknowledging tilt of the head before the man wandered off.  He was pleased that the fading burn that still throbbed between his eyes was invisible within the dark ambience of the bar, drawing no guilty stares, no pitiful glances filled with concern or anger.  The soft murmur of unfamiliar voices soothed nerves ragged from so-called friends’ care, intruding questions unraveling into the heady air as he breathed in the spicy taste of freedom.  His fingers curled around the hard edges of the glass filled with golden-brown release that had appeared before him.

The first sip blazed; the next soaked his throat in warmth.  As he raised his second glass and felt the thick, glossy liquid slip across his lips, Daniel smiled.

His leather coat now neatly folded on the stool to his left, Daniel raised his gaze from an intent study of the cracked, hardened skin of his hands when cool air danced against his cheek, and a thin shower of snow drifted to light on his faded jeans.

“Sorry.  Only in Colorado Springs.”

The dark sweater was too close, and Daniel leaned back, shifting his legs to allow the other man to slide onto the seat to his right, bar etiquette keeping his eyes away from the other man’s face, a slight shrug accepting the easily offered apology for the newcomer’s abrupt intrusion into Daniel’s peaceful thoughts.  The shiver that shook the hand reaching towards his glass was too intense to be explained by the momentary surge of cool air that accompanied the stranger and Daniel clutched it into a fist and lowered it to rest against the bar to mask his trembling.

“Hey, you okay?”

Warm breath too close to his face; often repeated words grating over barely healed resentment dragged Daniel’s head up, his stare drilling into the increasingly anxious faded hazel gaze within the tanned face to his right.  “What?” he snapped.

Another voice intruded, jostling the single-minded focus of Daniel’s bitterness.  Simon – the black-garbed bartender - stood there, one hand resting against the polished wood between the two, dark eyes hooded with restrained ferocity.  “This guy bothering you, Daniel?”

He let his suddenly weighted eyelids fall closed, all of the tension that he’d thought he’d freed again imprisoned within his exhausted frame.  Not even here, not even now.  The demands of care, the persistence of concern, the burden of protectiveness followed him like an unwanted guardian angel.  There must be some ancient curse somewhere to cover his overwhelming magnetism to those whose natures forced them into roles of custodians of his psyche.

Daniel pulled his jacket around his shoulders, the warmth of the liquor, the darkness, the anonymity, forgotten.  He stood and dropped three bills next to his half-full glass, reached for an insincere smile, and brushed his fingers through his hair.  “Nope.  I was just leaving,” he assured whoever was still listening, his glance refusing to meet any others’.

Outside the doors, he paused and raised his face to the fleeting caress of the lightly falling snow, flakes catching on his eyelashes, melting against his lips, leaving random drops on his glasses.  The sky was heavy, low, as if it, too, sought to fall around him in a smothering cloak.  Nothing stirred - no wind, no sound of traffic on the narrow country road.  He breathed deeply, drawing solitude in until it filled him with silence; exquisite isolation.  Shoving hands deeply into his coat’s pockets, Daniel stamped his booted feet and moved away from the streetlight’s narrow glow, stalking the darkness.









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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.