The Promise

I’ve done some pretty despicable things to Daniel over the years, but what I’m about to do shocks even me.  Not only will he never forgive me, but it’s also the most selfish thing I’ve ever done, and believe me, I’ve done a lot of selfish things.    

“Don’t let go, Jack.”

Damn it, he knows what I’m planning.  I have to do this.  I have to be strong for him and for me.  You’ve done a hell of a job, Daniel, but I will not let you die, too.

“Daniel,” I whisper.

“No!  Hang on, damn it!”

I wish I could, Daniel.  Honest to God, I wish I could.  It’s amazing he’s managed to hang onto me for this long, but we both know this has to end.  There’s no place for me to go but down.  I’ve got nothing to hang on to but Daniel’s sweat-slicked arm.  Every nerve in Daniel’s arms, shoulders, back, and legs must be screaming in pain.  He can’t hold me forever.

Ah, shit.  That had to be another two inches.  Crap, I can see his damn belt.  You are not dying with me, Daniel.

“Close your eyes, Daniel.”  I can’t believe how calm I sound.  Oh, jeez, don’t look at me like that, Danny.

“Shut up and pull yourself up!”

God, Daniel, don’t you think I’ve tried?

“I’ve got you, Jack.  I can do this.  My boots are lodged in the dirt.  I’m secure.”

His words come in a rushed gasp and my heart aches at his tenacity and desperation.  Nice try, Daniel and I love you for trying, but it’s time to say goodbye.

“Jack!”

I hear the fear in his voice and I really, really hate myself right now.

“Daniel, please, look away,” I plead.

“Damn it, Jack!” he shouts, inadvertently lowering his head in frustration as his grip tightens on my arm. 

I have to do it now.  I want to tell him what he means to me.  That’s he’s my best friend and I love him.  That it’s been an honour working with him, but I think it’ll only make it worse.  I just to hope he knows how I feel.  I sure as hell haven’t shown him, but he’s a smart guy.  Forgive me, Daniel, and then I do it.  I let go of his arm.  The sudden tug of dead weight causes him to slip but I know he’ll unconsciously dig his feet in deeper.  I slip out of his grasp, and I try to block out his denial.  It’s all there in one heart-wrenching scream of my name, and I hear every damn emotion like a bullet in my heart:  anger, betrayal, shock, disbelief, and grief. 

My plunge into oblivion is cut short.  Incredibly short.  Ouch!  What the hell?  I’m lying flat on my back ten feet below Daniel’s anxious blue eyes.  Well, I’m assuming he’s anxious.  It’s surprisingly dark down here.

 “Jack?  Jack!”

“I’m, uh, here, Daniel.”  Well, this is a first.  I’ve never been embarrassed to be alive before.  So much for my dramatic exit.

“Jack, don’t move.  I’ll get a flashlight.”

Not going anywhere, Daniel.  I really don’t feel like moving either, not that anything hurts in particular, other than my shoulders, my legs, and my back.  Expecting to fall for God knows how long and then to come to a sudden and unexpected stop is quite jarring to the body and the mind.  So, I think I’ll just lie here, calm my rapidly beating heart, and savour the feel of solidity underneath me.  I am going to be in so much trouble when this is over.  Daniel’s going to kill me for what I did.  It might be best not to think about that now.  I wonder what I’ve landed on? 

“Jack, I’m back.  Are you okay?”

“Peachy,” I reply.

“Right.  Okay, close your—“ 

He practically chokes on the words, and I close my eyes in sympathy.

“Close your eyes, Jack.  I don’t want to blind you with the light.”

“They’re closed,” I call out.

The ensuing silence is oppressive, not to mention unnerving.  I’m about to say something sarcastic just to lighten the mood when Daniel speaks out.

“Jack, don’t move.”

His voice is low, urgent, and deadly serious.  My stomach turns over, and I feel the hairs on the back of my neck rise.

“Daniel?”  I query, opening my eyes and squinting up into the light.

“You’re lying on what looks like a bridge, Jack.  I don’t know how long it is.  I can’t see beyond a few feet in either direction.  It’s only about five feet wide but somehow you’ve landed lengthwise, smack dab in the middle.”

He’s scared and so am I. 

“Luck of the Irish?”  I suggest, trying a little levity.

I think Daniel just swore at me.  I can’t be sure because it was in Abydonian, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet.

“Just don’t move, Jack.  I’ll get some rope and pull you up.”

“Daniel, we can wait for Carter and Teal’c.  You can’t—”

“They won’t be here for hours.  We can’t wait,” he replies.

“Daniel, you can’t lift me,” I say firmly.  “You’ve already spent all your energy hanging on to me.”

Crap, he’s muttering in Abydonian again.

“At least wait for a bit,” I suggest.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Jack.”

I frown at his reply, and then I feel it: a slight tremor.  Oh, shit.

“Daniel, did you feel that?”

“There’s been four of them so far,” Daniel replies grimly.  “You were kind of preoccupied.”

Double crap.  There’s going to be a freaking earthquake, and I’m stuck on a piece of whatever.  Another tremor hits, and I feel my not so solid perch sway slightly.  Oh, this is not good.  This is not good at all.  But Daniel can get the hell out of here.

“Daniel, get the—”

“So help me, Jack.  If you tell me to get the hell out of here I will jump down there and punch you senseless.”

What do I say to that?  I’ve got him pissed again.  I seem to be pretty good at that.  I clear my throat and try again.

“Daniel, I think you should get that rope now.”

“I’ll get you out, Jack,” he replies gravely.. 

The promise and determination in his voice brings a lump to my throat, and I smile in spite of my misgivings.

“I know you will, Daniel,” I reply softly.

My eyes have adjusted to the darkness, and I can make out varying shades of, well, darkness.  Daniel told me not to move, and I have sense enough to heed his words.  I do, however, feel around my immediate vicinity just to ease my own mind that I’m surrounded by solid, if somewhat shaky, ground.  It’s definitely cooler down here in spite of the short distance.  Of course, it may also have something to do with expecting to die and then suddenly finding yourself very much alive, and then expecting to die again.  I start to shiver and pull my knees up close and wrap my arms around them.  I tell myself everything will be okay, and I wait.  I wait for Daniel, for rescue, and for the biggest lecture I’ll ever have in my life.

 I wasn’t supposed to have all this time to think about what I did to him: letting go like that.  But really, what choice did I have?  Plunge down this damn cavern and take Daniel with me?  No friggin’ way.  Crap, what if he did fall and I landed here but he went right on going?  Shit.  Now I’m cold and nauseous.  I am not going to think about that.  Instead, I start to move my arms around to limber up.  I’m going to help Daniel with every ounce of strength I’ve got left because God knows he’s got to be running on pure adrenaline.

I feel another vibration and a definite crack from somewhere that echoes alarmingly up and around me.  Any time, Daniel.

“Jack?”

“Still here,” I call up.

“I’ve tied your light to the end of the rope so you can see it coming.  Here it comes and make sure you tie it around yourself,” he instructs.

I smile to myself.  I get a kick out of Daniel when he’s in ‘take charge’ mode.  He can be formidable when he wants or needs to be.  I feel a rush of pride that he’s my friend and a member of my team. 

“Got it,” I say, snatching the rope and securing it around myself.  “Daniel, how do you have it secured up there?”

The hesitation in his reply confirms my suspicion that he’s a human anchor.

“Don’t worry, Jack.  It’s secure.”

It’s not me I’m worried about, Daniel.  Well, not much anyway.

“When I tug on the rope three times I’ll start to pull.  Okay?”  Daniel informs me.

I adjust my hands on the rope, determined to climb up as much as I can.

“I’m ready, Daniel,” I yell.

He head disappears from view and after a few minutes and another ominous crack, I feel the three tugs.

It’s slow, agonizingly slow, but I’ll be damned if I don’t feel myself inching higher.  It was bound to happen though: a deafening crack, a violent shudder, my former bridge of salvation collapses, and I drop a good twelve inches.  If all this isn’t bad enough, I heard Daniel cry out as I slipped, and it wasn’t a cry of anger either; it was raw pain.

I hang helplessly, willing myself to stop twirling.  I don’t want to think what this is doing to Daniel’s hands.  My breathing is heavy in my ears, and my heart is tap-dancing in my chest.  I try to calm myself and unbelievably, I feel myself moving upward again.  Way to go, Danny!  My progress is slow but steady.  I see the ground above getting closer, and as soon as I can I release one hand and grab the edge.  I curl my fingers around the rough rock and pull.  It’s not much, but anything to ease Daniel’s burden.  Secure in my grip, I reach up with my other hand and in a matter of seconds our combined efforts have me scrambling over the top.  I collapse onto my chest to catch my breath.  I hear Daniel fall back with a heavy grunt and the air echoes with our heavy, laboured breathing.  We both know we’re not out of the woods yet, but we need this rest for a whole lot of reasons.

I drag myself to my feet first and stumble over to Daniel.  Christ, his hands and arms are slick with blood.  He’s got the rope wrapped around and around his Kevlar vest and then twined numerous times around his hands and arms.  I was right: he was a human anchor, and he was determined that if I went, he went too.  I’ve got so many mixed emotions right now that I can’t say anything.  He’s looking at me with a happy but helpless expression.  He holds his damaged hands up to me shyly, and I almost lose it right there.  I am so damned lucky to have this man in my life. 

“Danny,” I whisper.

“I think I’m stuck,” he says, looking apologetic as he gestures to the ruins of his hands.

The vest saved his chest and back, but the rope is embedded in the flesh of his hands and arms and the pain must be excruciating.  I know what I have to do, and as quickly and efficiently as I can I free him from the rope.  I wince as he hisses and gasps in pain.  I go to throw the rope away in disgust, but I change my mind and gather it up.  I don’t think we’ll need it again, but I want everyone at the SGC to see the bloody twine and to understand what transpired here.  Daniel’s a hero in my books and everyone is going to damn well know it.

I watch Daniel as he looks down at his hands and gingerly clenches them.  He bites his lip and looks up at me with an oddly annoyed expression.

“I guess I’ll have to wait,” he says.

I frown in confusion and shake my head.

He smiles tiredly and shrugs.

“I want to belt you for what you did back there,” he says, gesturing to the abyss.  “Letting go.  Never, ever do that to me again.”

The smile has left his lips, and his eyes are shining with what I can only describe as subdued fury.

“I’m sorry,” I say lamely, “but you could’ve—”

“Jack,” he interrupts me quietly, “do you believe a cause is worth dying for?”

“Of course I do,” I reply.  “We all do.”

“Do you believe some people are worth dying for?”

“You know I do, Daniel,” I reply, finding it harder to hold his gaze.

“Well, so do I, Jack,” he says softly.

Damn his eyes.  Those uncanny blue eyes of his are looking right through me and into my soul.

“Promise me, Jack,” he says quietly.

I swallow with difficulty, but hold his gaze.  I nod and say firmly, “I promise you, Daniel.”

He looks at me intently, considering my response.  Satisfied, he nods and holds up his hand.

I reach out and carefully help him to see feet.  I wrap my arm around his shoulders and pull him in tight.

“Thank you,” I whisper.

He looks at me and smiles.  He knows I’m thanking him for more than just saving my life.  I’m also thanking him for understanding, for caring, and more importantly, for being Daniel.

He leans against me and says, “Take us home, Jack.”

You bet,” I smile.

Too much has happened here today to just put behind us, but for now we have other things to concentrate on.  I envision a lot of sleepless nights and heated arguments in our immediate future.

“You know I’m not finished with you yet,” Daniel says, looking at me sideways and confirming my thoughts.

“You know, Daniel,” I say, squeezing his shoulder, “somehow I don’t think you’re ever going to be finished with me.”

He looks at me thoughtfully then smiles.

“I can live with that.”

I chuckle and ruffle his hair.  So can I.  Daniel.  So can I.

 

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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.