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Monday, September 14th, 2009 10:57 pm
Summary: Jack takes a bleak look at seven years of waiting for Daniel, and wonders if he's ever coming back.

Episode tag for Full Circle, with references to Stargate: the Movie and the first six seasons of SG-1. Angst level set rather high. ~1,250 words. Rated PG.

As always, warmest thanks to Random, whose beta skills are as superlative as they are speedy.


Waiting for Daniel

When Jack considers the past seven years, he realizes he spends most of his time waiting for Daniel.

He remembers that first time: Daniel, face desperate and eyes intent, standing with a dead woman in his arms. "Wait for me," Daniel says. Three words breathed just loud enough to hear over the whine of dropping rings, plea and demand and conviction all at once. And Jack waits for him, even with a nuclear bomb ticking off the seconds to zero.

He fights for his life and waits, and Daniel comes back, even if a little dented. Daniel comes back, and Sha'uri is alive too, and they kill the king snake in the bargain.

Daniel stays on Abydos. Jack knows now that he was waiting for Daniel that entire year, trying to find Abydos' sun in the night skies of Earth. He doesn't hesitate when Samuels clambers up to his roof and mentions the Stargate, because he was waiting for it all along. So Jack walks up a metal ramp and tosses a tissue box across the light years. He watches the blue ripple flicker and vanish, and waits for Daniel's answer.

He waits for hours, and Daniel comes back, even if a little dented - not physically this time. Daniel comes back without Sha're, and they have a whole galaxy of snakes to kill now.

Jack spends a lot of time on SG-1 waiting for Daniel. Waiting for a tranquilizer dart pumped full of antihistamines to restore intelligence and personality to a warped shell. Waiting crucial moments, in a rotting castle shaking itself to bits, for the galaxy of elements in Daniel's starstruck eyes to fade into acceptance of reality. Waiting to see him stroll through the Stargate, even when Jack's addled brains insist the man is dead and burned. Waiting for Daniel to find him, before the waiting chills to absolute silence and the pain of broken bones fades to nothingness.

Waiting and watching for demented addiction to falter and subside so he can get his friend back.

Jack waits for Daniel to make nice with the natives, figure out puzzles, unlock the combination to a zigguraut, decipher ancient languages, mediate an alliance. He waits for him to see through deceptions, search for answers, seek a greater understanding of the universe.

It isn't all that easy. The military might train its soldiers to wait for the right moment, but Jack's instincts scream for action, for movement. He wants to protect, to actively defend. It's hard to stand back and wait for Daniel to do his thing.

Sometimes he can't wait long enough, no matter how he tries. Sometimes he betrays a friendship or kills the robot or spends a few time loops preserving his own sanity.

Sometimes he leaves Daniel behind.

But Daniel always comes back - even if a little dented, whether it's grief or pain or loss. And there are always more snakes to fight.

Then they visit a planet. P2S-4C3. The natives call it Kelowna.

Jack finds himself waiting for Daniel again. This time, he's waiting for his best friend to die. He sits by Daniel's side and waits while the radiation devours him, dissolving him into a bloody, agonizing mass held together by acres of bandage and sheer stubbornness. He waits while Daniel drifts away.

Jacob tries to fix things, but he can't heal Daniel completely. Jack knows that any lingering radiation means Daniel's death will just take a little longer.

Daniel asks him to stop. Asks him to stop waiting and let him step through the Stargate one more time - to a place where Jack can't find him, where he can't follow and watch Daniel's back.

Stop.

It's what he wants.

Daniel follows Oma and Ascends. Jack watches him leave. He's alive - sort of. And Daniel always come back. Even if a little dented.

Doesn't he?

Jack waits. He waits for days, and weeks. But Daniel isn't coming back. Daniel is off in Omaland, and there's a new king snake to kill without him.

Jack wonders if he's foolish to keep waiting, but old habits are hard to break.

And then Jack is the one who doesn't come back, because a snake that claims to be different turns out to be pretty much the same as the other snakes out there.

Jack dies. And he dies again, and again. And Daniel comes back. No dents this time - no glasses, even. But Jack waits for him to rescue him from a snake that needs killing, and Daniel shakes his head in regret. Jack keeps dying, and waits for Daniel to do something, even though Daniel says he can't. He can't break the rules, Daniel says.

Daniel always breaks the rules, though. He breaks the rules of society and the rules of academia and he ignores what's inconvenient when he wants to make something happen. He breaks the rules of death and the laws of probability. So Jack waits for Daniel to break the rules, to stop the dying.

Daniel insists that he can't, and that he isn't, but Jack gets home anyway. It takes Jack a while to realize that Daniel did break the rules in typical sideways fashion, because being glowy has nothing to do with Daniel's talent for creative interpretation. Jack thinks Daniel likes to translate instructions creatively even when they're in plain English. It certainly explains a lot of their clashes over the years.

So Jack is home. Waiting. Daniel has come back once. He's coming back again.

Isn't he?

Jack waits. He says nothing to Carter or Teal'c or Hammond, but he waits for Daniel. He's pretty good at it by now.

Daniel comes back - still without dents, but asking for help. Another king snake is after Abydos, and the Abydons nearly died fighting off the first king snake. Daniel wants Jack to help kill this one, too.

Only there are all those rules again. And Daniel is still saying he can't break them.

Jack knows by now that Daniel is walking the thinnest of lines. He got by on a technicality when he helped Jack, and again when he helped Teal'c. It's a little too fraught for technicalities now. Jack needs more from Daniel, and he's not shy about asking.

Jack and Daniel always ask the impossible of each other. Jack sees no reason to stop now.

Remember that fine line we were talking about?

Cross it.

Jack doesn't see it go down, because Daniel faces the king snake without him. But he knows when Daniel crosses the line - because Jack is asking him, and Abydos needs him. Only Daniel's plans never work when he doesn't have Jack and the team watching his back. Daniel fails. Jack doesn't know how, but he knows when Daniel fails, because the pyramid is gone and all of Abydos is glowy, and Daniel isn't there.

And Daniel isn't coming back.

Jack waits. He waits hours, and days, and weeks. The newest king snake is still out there, and Abydos is gone. If Daniel comes back, Jack wonders if he'll be dented beyond repair.

Jack waits, but Abydos is gone, and so is Daniel.

Now Jack parks the truck in his driveway and shuts off the engine, pulling the key out of the ignition with one smooth motion. He slides out of the driver's seat and leans against the truck door, squinting up at the stars in the cool night air.

Seven years of waiting for Daniel.

Jack thinks it's finally time to stop.


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Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Very, very good! That really is Jack and Daniel in a nutshell, isn't it? Jack desperately wanting to do something, anything but forced to wait for Daniel to do his thing. Great job!
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
:( Oh, so sad.
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 09:54 pm (UTC)
I have been thoroughly spoiled for the entire series and all movies, so don't worry. Also, I am a strange person who actually prefers to be spoiled, so it's all good.

(I'm still in S4, actually.)
Wednesday, September 16th, 2009 01:01 pm (UTC)
This is simply fantastic, Fig!!! I love how you combined so much of what happened in six seasons into just a very few themes, and it really brings to home the fact that Jack finally decided to move on just a short while before they find Daniel again (his face in Fallen when he first sees Daniel is what came to mind as I finished this!) and this is really great Jack characterization!!