Where the hell are they?
Jack O’Neill hated this part of being a general. How had General Hammond handled the not-knowing and constant-waiting all the times SG-1 didn’t check in or were fighting to survive on some planet light years away? He had to hand it to Hammond. He dealt with the everyday stresses of generalhood with charm and grace. Jack, however, hated the fact that one of his kids, a member of his team – former team – was stranded off world in a violent situation, and he had to sit at the base and wait. He couldn’t get involved in the rescue, and it wasn’t fair. Daniel was his friend, too. He’d been his responsibility – no, that wasn’t right. Daniel was never really anyone’s responsibility. He always marched to a different drummer than everyone else and somehow kept everyone in step with some greater agenda without them knowing he was doing that. Sometimes.
It wasn’t just that Daniel was stranded off world. It was more than that. Partly, Jack did not like not keeping a promise. When Ba’al held him prisoner and Daniel had risked a lot bending the Others’ rules to help him, Jack told him that if their positions were reversed --
Jack stared at Daniel’s ‘ghost,’ unable to believe that this was the same man who’d call a senator a fool, yell at Hammond and wax sarcastic toward Colonel Simmons. "Okay…put yourself in my shoes and me in yours."
Daniel answered, "You'd be here for me."
Yes! That was the obvious answer, wasn’t it? They were friends, right? Friends were there for each other! "Damn straight! I'd have busted you out, blown this rat hole to hell, and made sure that son-of-a-bitch suffered!” Jack never liked the idea of Daniel being tortured. They were friends!
Daniel shook his head. "The Others would have stopped you."
Jack couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The Others? They were powerful enough to keep Daniel from doing what he thought was best? Generals couldn’t even do that! "They'd have a hell of a fight on their hands."
Daniel tried to reason with him. "You wouldn't do that.”
Wouldn’t? “Ba'al would be dead --"
"Jack --" Daniel interrupted.
"And don't think I'd stop there!" No, he wouldn’t have stopped there. He would have enjoyed taking the Others down a peg or two for having such idiotic rules after he turned Ba’al’s fortress into a big, deep hole.>
Daniel, however, wasn’t convinced. "You're a better man than that!"
"That's where you're wrong!”>
Jack? A better man? Daniel knew better. Daniel was the only person outside of Hammond and a few other of the top brass that knew his history. Daniel was the only other one he trusted with that knowledge and knew he wouldn’t judge him. Jack had done things he couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about -- the things that kept him awake nights or woke him screaming with nightmares. Despite all that, Daniel kept him around as a best friend and even called him ‘a better man’ when he knew better himself.
How those two polar opposites had become best friends was a mystery to most people, but not to Jack. At the core of it all was a trust that time, death and ascension couldn’t harm. Of course, Jack could trust Daniel to get into trouble, Daniel could trust Jack to get him out – and vice versa. That was the way it had always been.
Okay, so it hadn’t been an actual promise. They both understood that if one was in trouble, the other would come running, but it was promise enough to Jack No matter what, no matter where, no matter when, one would help the other. Well, Daniel had been in trouble for weeks, and all Jack could do is sit there and watch and wait as others did what he vowed he would do when he was back in that cell.
Being a general wasn’t as much fun as being a colonel.
Being captured by Ba’al was the last time Jack had been in that kind of trouble, Daniel had come running and rescued Jack in an ingenious manner. During his recuperation afterwards, Jack had time to consider the scope of what his friend had done, but it wasn’t until the destruction of Abydos that Jack understood the reality of the situation or what the consequences of Daniel’s actions could have been at the fortress if he’d been caught. Daniel had to work around the rules of the Others, and if he did it with the same skill he used to get around military red tape, then the Others had no chance. Had Daniel taken direct action against Ba’al, the Others would have ripped him out of there and Jack would have been alone or they might have descended him right there and both men would have been at Ba’al’s mercy. Jack knew that both could suffer through the agonies of torture, but he also knew each would do whatever was necessary to protect the other. Instead, Daniel kept Jack’s spirits up while he flew around the galaxy getting the rest of the team to understand that Kanan was going after his girlfriend and Teal’c to suggest telling Lord Yu about Ba’al’s hidden fortress. It was a brilliant plan. No “direct” involvement but involved enough to destroy a fortress.
Had it not been for Daniel’s rescue, Jack wouldn’t have survived. He knew that as sure as he knew that Daniel had bent the rules to the breaking point – and the Others must have had their attention elsewhere for him to get away with it. Daniel was having fun being ascended, but he ran the risk of getting caught and kicked out – all because Jack needed him.
Jack came close to keeping the promise when Daniel was kidnapped with Doctor Lee in Central America. Alone, he went there, teamed up with his former associate Burke and set out after his friend who happened to free himself. Daniel really was a resourceful fellow, but even a resourceful fellow’s luck can run out when shot in the leg and outnumbered by men with very big guns. That scene was forever burned in Jack’s memory.
He heard the gunfire, and with Burke following close behind, ran toward the noise. In the semi-clearing, he saw Daniel on the ground by a tree, grabbing a rock, the bad guys aiming guns at him – Jack fired, shooting all the bad guys that he could see. He crept forward, gun at the ready, asked Daniel if there were any more of them. Daniel was still in survival mode, caught in that moment between about to be killed and not realizing that he was being rescued, but that was only for a moment. Immediately, he realized he wasn’t going to die, told Jack that he’d got them all and threw down the rock.
Then he asked Jack “What are you doing here?” Was he so surprised that Jack would come after him? Didn’t he remember that Jack would go through fire, walk across broken glass, face the fires of hell to help him? It was on the walk back to the kidnappers’ camp when Daniel asked him, “I didn’t think they’d let you come.”
Ah. That was what he was thinking. Politics. Daniel knew that game well enough to know that he and Bill were probably on their own while the big boys in power postured, pandered, and pretty much ignored that two men’s lives were at stake because they didn’t want to show any weakness to other countries. The governments involved were acting like the Others did when Daniel rescued him from Ba’al’s clutches. Yet, it was when Daniel said, “I didn’t think they’d let you come” that got his attention. Daniel knew Jack would be the rescuer. He just didn’t know if Jack would get there in time.
Where the hell are they?
Jack looked at his watch. Carter and Teal’c had already been gone longer than he was comfortable with. Hearing Daniel’s voice over the radio wiped out most of the worry he’d had felt for weeks, but listening to Daniel tell them about how to attack the zealots while speaking the Goa’uld language was surprising if not a little disturbing. Ever since Daniel’s return from Omaland, he’d possessed a more tactical and military attitude. Jack was still awed by the fact Daniel could balance his scientific curiosity with that new attitude. Somehow, he did it, but Jack found himself missing the old Daniel Jackson every now and then, but not having him around for a year convinced him that any Daniel is better than no Daniel at all.
The attack should have taken place already. Daniel had it timed and the people in position, so the SGC crew was the loose factor in the equation. If they didn’t time it just right, everything could go to hell in a hand basket.
“Incoming wormhole!” Sergeant Harriman called out. “It’s SG-1’s signal!”
Jack rushed down to the gate room and waited. This was another reason he hated being a general. He should have been coming back through the gate with Daniel in tow, not waiting there to see if his friend was still in one piece, alive or dead, missing limbs, scarred or ---
Daniel walked through the event horizon first with Carter and Teal’c close behind. He had a few new scars, a few new wrinkles, perhaps a gray hair or two, a little more the worse for wear, but pretty much in one piece. He was wearing what looked like a flight jacket and carrying a familiar looking rifle. Briefly, Jack wondered why so many other planets had items that should have only been on Earth. Technology wasn’t supposed to evolve the same way on all planets, was it? Why would other planets have electricity and light bulbs and rifles? He made a mental note to ask Daniel about that later.
Daniel had that ‘hi, I’m home, I’m tired, is there any coffee left’ look on his face. Jack knew that look. It didn’t mean that though. Not quite. It was a way Daniel had of emotionally divorcing himself from a situation when things got too close. Being trapped, hidden, hunted on an alien world with no way to know if he’d ever get home, being in a fire fight and then leaving friends you’d made – Jack could relate to that, sort of. It was in part a lonely feeling of never knowing if you’d ever see your friends again and all of a sudden, you were back with them. At least when Jack went through a similar situation, he had Laira during that time. She helped him make a new life for himself, one that he had accepted until he heard Teal’c’s voice over his radio as he dug his way out from the underground cavern the Stargate was trapped in. It was then that Jack knew as much as he’d accepted his new life, his old one was waiting for him and he couldn’t stay. When Jack came home, he knew he had that same look in his eyes that he was seeing in Daniel’s. It wasn’t a look Jack saw very often, and this was one time he was not going to let it stay. Daniel was home, safe and sound and about to get an earful just like Jack had received from Hammond under similar situations.
As Daniel walked down the ramp, Jack couldn’t let the opportunity for a little fun pass by.
“I said squirrelly! Remember? Squirrelly? You were supposed to come home then! Bad guys, shootings, explosions – they all fall under the definition of squirrelly. I looked it up.”
Daniel stopped at the end of the ramp so Jack had to look up at him. “I tried calling, the line was busy,” he answered. Oh, yeah, the chance for verbal banter still existed.
“I’ll check into getting call waiting. Next time, you come home when things get...”
“Squirrelly,” they said in unison.
There was a brief pause as Jack noticed how everyone in the gate room was trying not to smile. Apparently, the two of them were still decent entertainment for the troops.
“Nice jacket,” Jack told him.
As they walked out of the gate room, Jack personally leading Daniel toward the infirmary to get checked out, Daniel told him, “They didn't have one your size. I checked.”
Oh, he did? “That's okay. I'll borrow that one.”
~*~ The End ~*~
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