Time-out

 

Beep...beep...beep.

The incessant beeping of medical machinery grated on Daniel Jackson's nerves. I hate that sound. God, what am I saying? It means-it means
she's still alive. Sam is still with us. He picked up the limp right hand of Major Samantha Carter and caressed it gently.

"We're here, Sam. We're waiting for you to come back to us. Just give us the word," he said softly.

"She's brain-dead, Daniel," a low voice said.

Daniel stiffened but maintained his gentle ministrations.

"She's just lost, Jack."

"Lost? Her mind was swallowed up by that fucking entity," Colonel Jack O'Neill said harshly.

Daniel squeezed his eyes shut. "She doesn't need to hear this, Jack," he said carefully.

"Christ, Daniel! You don't get it, do you? I zatted her twice. You could play the '1812 Overture' in here with a full orchestra for crying out loud and
she wouldn't blink. She's a freaking vegetable!"

Daniel bit down on his anger and gently placed Sam's hand down on the bed.

"Jack, listen-"

"No, you listen, Daniel. If you'd listened to me in the first place this wouldn't have happened."

"Oh, so it's my fault, is it?" Daniel shot back, standing face to face with Jack. "I should've just let you take care of things, right? Oh, look, here's a
new alien life form. Let's blow it up! Who? The Gadmeer? Pshaw, they're just a bunch of freeze-dried aliens. What possible use could they be to
us? Let's blow 'em up!"

Daniel could see the colour drain from Jack's face but he couldn't stop. His helplessness at Sam's condition and his hurt and anger over Jack's
behaviour were taking their toll.

"Now the Eurondans. Well, that's different. They kick butt. Hey, we'll even help them kick butt. Who cares who they're fighting or why, let's kick
some ass!"

"Now, just a damn minute," Jack hissed, grabbing a fistful of Daniel's jacket.

"That's it! Time-out!" a voice rang loudly

Both men whirled and looked straight into the fiery eyes of Dr. Janet Fraiser.

"Gentlemen, and I use that term loosely, if you insist on behaving like a couple of schoolyard hooligans then take it outside. Sam needs our love
and support, not your macho posturing. If you can't be civil then get the hell out of my infirmary," she said dangerously.

Jack and Daniel had the good grace to look suitably shamefaced as they stepped back from each other and shoved their hands into their pockets.

"Sorry," they mumbled as they shuffled their feet awkwardly.

The anger Janet felt dissipated quickly. The two men before her look so cowed she would have laughed if Sam's condition weren't so grave.

"Look, I know you're both scared but there's no one to blame here. It's just one of those things. Now, the last thing Sam needs right now is to
hear the two of you at each other's throats."

Daniel looked up at Jack and mumbled, "Sorry."

"Yeah, me too," Jack replied.

"So, I-uh-I'll go and give you some time alone," Daniel said, motioning towards Sam.

"Thanks."

"Okay, I'll-uh-see you."

"Yeah," Jack mumbled.

"Yeah." Daniel looked at Janet and gave an apologetic smile before leaving the infirmary.

Jack sat down next to Sam and Janet returned to her office, confident that things would be peaceful.

***********************

Daniel slumped down in his chair and buried his head in his hands. God, what was I thinking? Jack's hurting. The Gadmeer? The Eurondans? Damn,
I thought I was over that.

"Daniel Jackson?"

Daniel's head jerked up. "Teal'c, uh, hi. I didn't hear you come in."

"You door was not closed. I will leave if-"

"No, no please, come in," Daniel said, standing up.

Teal'c bowed his head in acknowledgement and entered the cluttered office.

"Is there something I can do for you?" Daniel winced at his words and hoped Teal'c wasn't offended.

"No, but I believe there is something I can do for you."

"Oh?" A good zat in the ass might do the trick.

"Yes, I was thinking about what you said, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel gazed expectantly at the Jaffa.

"You said that whatever happens, Major Carter was not wrong to try to communicate with the entity."

"Yes."

"You have been at Major Carter's bedside."

"Yes," Daniel said uncomfortably, his eyes momentarily flicking away from the steady brown gaze.

"Do you still believe you were correct, Daniel Jackson?"

Daniel stared at Teal'c but his mind was seeing his friend, pale and lifeless, hooked up to machines. He closed his eyes and remembered her
excitement at contacting a new species, an exhilaration they had both shared. He opened his eyes and said levelly, "Yes, I do."

Teal'c nodded. "As do I." He bowed his head and turned to leave.

"Teal'c!" Daniel called.

Teal'c stopped and turned in the doorway.

"Thank you," Daniel said sincerely.

"You are welcome, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel stood in the open doorway watching his teammate leave and suddenly felt a little better about things.

************************

Daniel quietly stepped up beside Dr. Fraiser who was monitoring Sam's condition from the observation room.

"Any change?"

"No," she said, shaking her head sadly.

Daniel looked through the glass at Sam and at the man holding silent vigil beside her.

"How long has he been there?" Daniel asked.

"He's never left."

Daniel looked back at Jack, his head bowed over the side of the bed. God, Jack. I left hours ago.

"If you can get him to leave I'd appreciate it," Janet said. "Frankly, I think he's depressing Sam," she added lightly.

Daniel smiled at her attempt at levity. "I'll see what I can do."

Daniel entered the room, his arms wrapped tightly around himself.

Jack glanced up briefly to see who was there then looked back at Sam.

Daniel frowned and chewed his bottom lip. He didn't know what the hell to say.

"I'm sorry," he finally said.

Jack's head turned slightly but he made no other acknowledgement.

"I'm sorry it wasn't me," Daniel said.

"What?" Jack finally turned and looked at Daniel.

"I'm sorry it wasn't me," he repeated.

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?" Jack demanded.

Daniel lowered his head and said, "I should have been the one to communicate with the entity.'' He looked at Jack. "It was my job. It's what I do.
It should be me there dy-, lying in that bed, not Sam."

"Oh, for crying out loud," Jack muttered.

"I know you'd rather-" Daniel closed his mouth, the words stuck in his throat.

Jack looked intently at the younger man. "You know I'd rather what? That I'd rather see you in this bed than Carter? That I'd rather lose you?"

Daniel looked away. He couldn't look at Jack. He was afraid of what he might see in his eyes. I have to get out of here.

"I'm sorry," he muttered again before leaving abruptly.

"Oh, crap," Jack sighed. He looked at Sam and said, "See what you've left me with here, Carter? You better get your butt back here damn quick."
He smiled, squeezed her hand and went in search of another 'lost' friend.

Jack finally tracked Daniel down in Carter's lab.

"Daniel," he said casually.

"Jack."

Jack stared at his young friend. Daniel in turn, stared at the floor. The older man shook his head.

"Ah, Danny," he sighed.

The raw emotion in Jack's voice and the rarely used moniker caused Daniel to look up. The grief in Jack's eyes caused his heart to skip a beat.

"Oh, God. Sam? Is she-" He couldn't say it.

"She's fine, Daniel. Well, if you can call her condition fine," he said, sitting down heavily.

Jack picked up a mug, still half full with Sam's last helping of coffee. The sight caused his throat to constrict and he placed the mug down. Finally,
he looked up at Daniel and almost smiled at the young archaeologist's familiar defensive posture.

"How's your memory, Daniel?"

"My memory? Uh-it's pretty good. Why?"

"Remember P4X 347?"

"The 'palace by the sea'," Daniel responded.

"Yeah," Jack smiled. "That's the one. What do you remember?"

Daniel frowned, wary of Jack's questioning.

"Daniel?" Jack prompted.

"I remember that a lot of good men lost their lives," he said dully.

"Yes, they did. What else?"

"I-I remember waking up on P4X 347 and not feeling so hot."

"Like death warmed over?" Jack laughed grimly.

Daniel lowered his eyes and Jack said, "Yeah, well I remember all that too, but I also remember much, much more."

Daniel shook his head. "Jack, I don't know where you're-"

"Well, I'll tell you," he interrupted. "Do you know what else I remember? I remember my friend...my best friend...standing on the wrong side of his
balcony. And if that's not bad enough to give me nightmares for the rest of my life, there's the little matter of your death."

Daniel looked away, not wanting to hear this but Jack was relentless.

"I remember you dying in my arms. Daniel, you didn't just wake up on P4X, you came back from the dead. You coded in the gateroom when we
were trying to take you back to the planet so what happened to SG-5 wouldn't happen to you."

"I-I told you I don't remember any of that," Daniel said helplessly.

"I'm glad, Daniel. I really am, but I'll never forget it," Jack said softly. "I can still feel your weight on my shoulders. The feel of your life draining out
of you."

"Jack, don't," Daniel pleaded.

"The terror I felt after I carried you through the gate and you still didn't respond. The feeling of dread that I was too late, that I waited too damn
long. Daniel, look at me."

Daniel reluctantly looked up.

"The joy, the sheer joy when you took that first ragged breath." Jack smiled at the memory. "Daniel Jackson once again defied the Grim Reaper.
My best friend didn't leave me."

Daniel's eyes stung with tears; tears for Jack's pain and tears for the affirmation of their friendship.

"And I don't ever want to see you in that infirmary bed again. But I know there's as much chance of that happening as there is of me and Carter
becoming more than just friends," Jack said, his tone lightly admonishing. "Understand?"

"I...think so," Daniel whispered.

"Good," Jack said, squeezing his friend's knee. He smiled briefly at Daniel's look of dazed comprehension and then he sat back, his voice and face
grave.

"While I was chasing my tail on that damn planet you were in the infirmary in a coma. I should have been with you. If you had died and I wasn't
there..." Jack shuddered, the memory still too recent, still too real. "Anyway, seeing Carter like that brought it all back. That's why I have to stay
with her. I almost lost one friend and I'll be damned if I lose another. But if I have to, I won't let her go alone. I don't know if she knows I'm there
but it's all I can do," Jack explained.

"She knows, Jack," Daniel said softly.

Jack nodded appreciatively. "Guess I better get my ass back there then. Come with me?" he asked, standing up.

Daniel nodded, not trusting his voice. He followed Jack out the door.

"You were right, by the way," Jack remarked as they walked down the hall. He glanced sideways and smiled at his friend's confusion. "Carter
wasn't wrong to try to communicate with it," he explained.

"I-I'm glad you think that," Daniel said, surprised and relieved at the admission.

"Yeah, well, I think I knew it all along but I needed to blame someone. Sorry."

"What are best friends for?" Daniel said shyly.

Jack looked at him and grinned. "Yeah," he said, grasping the younger man's shoulder tightly.

"Jack, what I said about the Gadmeer- "

"Already forgotten, Danny," Jack said squeezing his shoulder gently.

Daniel nodded and hesitantly said, "Um-, maybe I should get Teal'c."

"Yeah, maybe you should," Jack said tiredly. "I'll see you there."

Jack stopped and turned. There was a question on his lips but he remained silent.

"Jack?"

Jack shook his head. "Nothing," he said and turned to leave. "No," he said, turning around. "I need to know something, Daniel."

"What?" he asked puzzled.

"How does it feel to know that I shot one of my own?"

"Jack, no one's blaming you. You had no choice," he hurriedly said.

"Answer my question, Daniel. Please."

Daniel studied the haggard features in front of him. Jack had performed one of the worst possible functions a team leader would ever be expected
to carry out: killing a member of his own team. Daniel thought of the dream that Shifu had given him. He saw Jack pulling his weapon and firing at
him, repeatedly. Was it a last desperate attempt to protect Earth from the actions of a madman, or to save the soul of a cherished friend?
Probably both.

"I feel proud, honoured and relieved," Daniel answered quietly.

Jack shook his head in confusion.

Daniel smiled and said, "I'm proud to be a member of your team. I'm honoured to call you my friend, and I'm relieved to know that you'll do what's
necessary to protect us, body and soul."

Daniel could literally see the tension drain from his friend's face and gratitude shining from the warm, brown eyes. He blushed when Jack reached
out and gently patted the side of his face.

"I'll see you in a bit," Jack said softly.

Daniel watched the older man depart, his gait firm, his shoulders a little stooped. He felt a warm rush of love for his gruff friend. Sam lay dying but
Jack had taken a little time-out to leave one friend's side because another friend had also needed him.

"We'll get through this, Jack," Daniel whispered. "Whatever happens, we'll get through this."

The end

 

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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.