Title: The Conversation

Author: Winterstar

Warnings: none

 

            He works the line, holding the reel with proficient fingers. Hands control the rod with strength and talent. He knows how to touch things that are fragile and holy. The act of fishing is sacred and I wonder if he knows. His concentration does not falter as his glasses slip down his nose. Sitting on the end of the dock as the sun filters at the edge of the tree line to sink into night, Daniel continues to fiddle with the line as I approach.

            “Daniel.”

            He doesn’t look up at me just murmurs, “Jack.”

            “Carter and Teal’c have powered up the grill.  Steaks, potatoes.”

            “Sounds good,” he comments and squints as he looks to the falling sun.

            I glance back at the cabin, the cabin I asked my old team to accompany me to after we kicked replicator and Goa’uld ass. I smirk as I think of those last gnawing moments as the replicators surged on us in the bowels of the mountain. It felt like that, like we were in the guts of a great beast being attacked by some disease, some bugs. We almost failed, the mountain, me, Carter, Teal’c - we almost succumbed to the invasion. If it had happened it would have been my fault, mine and Carter’s considering we were the ones to give the Replicater Carter our defense system against the replicators. One of my worst command decisions to date, not counting the one sitting at the end of my dock.

            No I don’t think that bringing Doctor Daniel Jackson onto SG1 was one of my worst command decisions; it was probably one of my shining moments, the best, the greatest. But don’t let him hear that. We have an understanding, Daniel and me, simple, straight understanding. I piss him the hell off and he pisses me the hell off. But in the end we find the common ground we both have been searching for and somehow end up saving Earth and each other in the process.  How come then, it didn’t work out that  way this time?

“You coming in then?” I ask. My skin prickles all over, my anxiety sweats through the thin t-shirt I wear.

            He climbs to his feet but holds the rod in his hand, not letting it go like it is his life line to being with us, hooking him to this place, to us. I hate what I’ve done, I have to clear the air. But he beats me to it.

            “Sam said you accepted a position in Washington.”

            “Yeah.”  My elaboration skills are honed and sharp and he frowns at me.

            He persists. “Away from Colorado, away from the action to papers and desks and politics.”

            “My favorite, you know it. Live for it.”

            He scrunches up those ever-living eyebrows of his and glares at me. He wants an explanation of this, my latest transgression. I won’t give it to him, my mission is headed in a different direction entirely - one he isn’t interested in discussing. After a moment’s pause, he drops his scrutiny of me and examines the rod still in his hands. In an almost lover’s caress, he fingers the reel, touches the line. I lid my eyes, I refuse to watch him.

            “Washington, Jack?  Washington?”

            I ignore him again and reverse the conversation. “You gonna come clean and tell us how you got in my office naked as the day you were born.” I have a pretty good idea how that happened. It seems when he dies now and comes back the powers that be have a sense of humor and send him back as he first came into this world. It was so much easier when he died before and just came back addicted to sarcophagi or beholden to little elven Nox people.

            His face turns cold - oh the look I know so well - and he stares off into the tree line. I note the sun has clipped the tree tops and its rays are stinted by the branches. “It’ll be in my report,” he is saying.

            Report. A report that was due three weeks ago and the ever diligent Doctor Daniel Jackson has yet to type a single word of it or give a hint of what happened to him when he was abducted by the bugs.             

            He finishes by adding, “And what happened to me has nothing to do with you accepting a position in Washington.”

            I stare at him, sigh, drop my head and say, “Says you.”

            He doesn’t get it right away. He jumps to respond, “Yes, Jack, says me. I know you.” He stops, purses his lips and grimaces at me. “You’re leaving because of what happened to me while I was on the replicator ship? You don’t even know what happened to me.”

            I turn from him, focusing instead on the cabin, the smoke starting to waft over the roof from the grill. “You appeared out of no where in my office, naked, Daniel.  From your illustrious past this means you’ve been ascended and descended. I have to admit that was the fastest time up and back again. Perhaps next time you can shorten it a little bit more, so we don’t have to wonder if we should hold another memorial service.”

            I can hear him shuffling over to me. He stands side by side with me and says in a low voice, “I think it is fairly obvious, I died, I came back. Nothing extraordinary.”

            Only Daniel could state that he was dead and resurrected as if it was as normal as - well as fishing. I avoid the subject of Daniel’s death and steer toward the moments that I experienced, the replicators frozen in the corridor of SGC. “You stopped them somehow, didn’t you.”

            He pulls his mouth downward in a not quite frown, nods and says, “Somehow, yes.”

            “It gain us the minute we needed, you know.”

            He huffs out a little and shrugs. “Glad I could help.”

            “You were on the ship when Carter activated the weapon on Dakara.” I swallow the bile I taste in my throat. “You died, we killed you.”  I turn to look at him.

            He drops his head, tightens his lips and shakes his head. “No, no that would be no. Didn’t quite die then.”

            I await his explanation and when none is forthcoming, I just say, “Daniel.”

            “Died before then, so your conscience is clean.” He refuses to look at me and I notice the slight hitch of his left shoulder as he stands there as if he is easing out a strain.

            I don’t often ask, and I never ask nicely but this time warranted something very uncharacteristic of O’Neill. “Daniel, I’ll find out in the report anyway. Please.”

            “She ran me through.” He glances once to the cabin, then back to me and finally back to the wooden slants of the dock. “Her arm became a sword of some sort and she ran me through. Straight through the heart actually. It was humane in a way, I didn’t suffer. Not the worst way to die, not by a long shot. Radiation poisoning, now that was a horrible way to die.”

            He’s rambling and knows it so he drifts off to a mumble at the end and stops. His arms are hanging loose by his sides, not in his normal self-hug. His fishing rod tilts to the dock, like a sea-saw. He suddenly remembers he’s carrying it and gently bends and places it on the dock as if to hold it might jeopardize his link to us, as if it might catch on something and pull him away from us.

            “Listen,” I say. “I’m sorry.”

            “There’s nothing to be sorry for, Jack. You didn’t kill me, no one here did. A machine killed me.”
“But we, I didn’t send a search party out for you. No S&R.”

            He nods as if this confirms what he suspected. I feel the weight settle on his shoulders; it smothers rather than crushes. I realize it is like a smog instead of an anvil. He is surrounded by the fact his commanding officer, his friend never even tried to save him. But maybe it’s just me feeling the guilt and he just stands there taking in the last strands of red and orange staining the sky as the sun fades into the horizon.

            “You had other priorities and no leads on where I was,” he supplies me with my excuse.

            “I could have spared a team, I could have spared some resources but I didn’t.”

            He turns then, considers me and takes the bait. “Okay so tell me Jack, why is it that you didn’t rescue me? Why is it you left me for dead?” 

            What gets me angry is that there isn’t a trace of anger in his voice. He’s still rational, understanding. He’s still being Daniel. “I-I.” This is hard to admit, more so now that the moment to admit it has crept up and bit me in my ass. “I suppose I was counting on Miss Glowy.”

            This shocks him. His eyebrows raise and his mouth opens as if he is going to say something, then he glances to the side, smirks and clears his throat. “You were counting on me dying?”

            “What?” I frown. “No, I was counting on your friend.  You know, Oma.”

            “Jack, in order for Oma Desala to save me I have to die first. You were counting on me dying.”

            “Well Daniel, you have to admit that dying with you is not a permanent condition. It’s more like a professional choice, a strategy.”

            He gawks at me like I’ve grown three more heads (not just one more but three more). “Jack.”

            “Come on Daniel, dying is your specialty. I really don’t have to worry with you now do I. You rush into danger,” I respond to his gesture, “ or get kidnapped whatever and then you die to help things out and you pull it out of the bag with your friend Miss Glowy herself, Oma.”

            “Jack, Jack, Jack.” He shakes his head, put his hands in his pockets and starts to walk away. Pausing, he turns to me as he begins to walk backwards to the cabin. “You’ll be disappointed to know that Oma will no longer be available to act as my personal resuscitator.” When I don’t reply, he continues, “She’s kind of busy keeping Anubis occupied. I imagine that might take some time, perhaps an eternity.”

            “She’s, she’s gone?” This hits me hard, like someone just punched me in the chest. It ricochets through my heart, throbbing and pounding.

            “More or less.”  He gives me that Daniel smug grin as if this is good news. It isn’t good news. This is Daniel’s thing, die, ascend, come back. How is it, he doesn’t understand this?

            “Damn it, Daniel, this is not good news.”

            “Why? Expect to get me killed off again soon?”

            “Jesus, no. At least, I hope not.” Starting toward him, I notice that he reverts to his self hug. “I would never plan to kill you off Daniel.”

            He nods, accepting my weak explanation especially since I literally just confessed that I did just that - let him die because I could. I couldn’t allow Carter or Teal’c to take that risk. Hell, Fraiser couldn’t take that risk, could she? She died. As General, I let Daniel die because it was the easiest thing to do. I bet on Oma interceding again.

            “God, I’m sorry Daniel.”

            Silence descends before the sound of the crickets invade.

            “Seems I’ll have to get a new specialty, huh?” Walking toward the cabin with him, I notice he is watching me, looking for some confirmation. Confirmation of his worth to the team, to SGC, to me. I catch the glint in his eyes. “I know a couple of languages.”

            “Ya don’t say.”

            “Maybe linguistics.”

            “I’m partial to archeology myself,” I reply.

            “Really? I would’ve bet on sportsology.”

            “Sportsology isn’t a word.”

            He raises a finger at me. “Remember I’m the linguist and I will decide what is a word and what isn’t.”

            I regard him for a moment before acknowledging his expertise. “Of course, sportsology, sounds like a winner.”

            Stopping, our eyes meet and he finds what he is searching for in my eyes. Today, tomorrow is not a good day to die. From now on, life is the only choice.

THE END

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