Chrysalis 1: Catalyst


J/D, PG, 8700 words

Summary: Daniel and Jack have drifted apart, thanks to the change in Jack’s attitude toward Daniel.  Unwilling to tolerate such disrespect for a so-called teammate, Daniel puts in for reassignment to an archaeology team.  Hammond resists, but over time, grants the request.

Note:  Quote is from the iconic and angsty song, “Time For Me To Fly” by REO Speedwagon.

 


I’ve been around for you
I’ve been up and down for you
But I just can’t get any relief
I’ve swallowed my pride for you
I’ve lived and lied for you
But you still make me feel like a thief
I believe it’s time for me to fly


Chapter One: The Card

 

Doctor Daniel Jackson

 

That’s what the envelope had read.  Not “Daniel.”  It had also been delivered by post.  From Jack.  Jack.  The man Daniel was in love with.  The man Daniel thought was in love with him.  But this latest … event … or maybe instance … was another hash mark in the very long column marked “Jack has changed.”

Daniel sat at his dining table, messy with the detritus of daily life, and in front of him was the birthday card from Jack.  It was generic.  A Hallmark greeting that an acquaintance might send.  For the last four years, even though they’d only been together for eight months of that time, Jack had dropped his birthday card off on his desk at work.  But ever since Jack had come back from destroying Thor’s ship, things had been extremely off.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as a headache formed, trying to will it away or simply ignore it, but it just wouldn’t leave.  After robotically eating dinner, he tossed the plate in the sink and went to bed early.  A Tylenol, some water, and a cold compress over his eyes.  He lay in the dark, deciding that he was over-reacting.  Sure, Jack had been an asshole when it came to Alar and his disgusting “genetic purity” people, but Daniel had given him the benefit of the doubt, chalking it up to the stress of his position.  Jack was just under pressure to get results.

But a birthday card in the mail?

It took him a while to get to sleep.

 

 

Chapter Two: A Broken Heart

 

It was over.  Jack hadn’t said it in so many words, but the results of the Zatarc had.  Something happened between him and Sam and it was tearing him up inside.  Why couldn’t he just say it was over, that they could remain friends, that there was really nothing to worry about?  “I’m not really ready for a relationship right now.”  That would hurt but it would be something.  Instead, there was silence and avoidance.

Daniel sat in the dark at his desk.  The only light came from the corridor, and that was only a blurred line from the bottom of the shut door.  The dark was like a security blanket and a means of avoidance.  Though the latter was more to keep Daniel from staring at the things in his office rather than anything specific.

Jack was not his anymore.  Perhaps unfairly, he judged him by what he himself would do, not what Jack would do.  But they’d had so much in common in that way.  Didn’t they?

No, dumbshit.  Get your head out of your ass.

Of course avoidance was Jack’s way.  Hadn’t he blown off his marriage thanks to his refusal to open up?  Yes, the situation had been entirely different, but in another respect, it was entirely the same.  The refusal to confront, even if it was emotionally difficult.  Jack didn’t really like sharing his feelings until they welled up and needed release.  Even with Sam.  The Zatarc had forced them out.  Well, actually, the damn machine picked up a lie and he’d had to explain or get trotted off to prison.

Now what?  If Jack was interested in her, why had he started up with him?  Being bisexual wasn’t a big deal.  Daniel had first hand knowledge and the self-awareness at the age of fourteen.  Not Jack, though.  He seemed to want that closet firmly barred shut.  Daniel laid his head down on his arms and tried to still the pain in his heart.  He would have to let it go.  Let Jack go.  It was clear that it was what he wanted, and Daniel wasn’t about to be clingy.

It wasn’t as if he didn’t try to find out what had happened.

 

“Daniel, just leave it.  It just wasn’t working.”

“Can you tell me why?”

“No, I don’t think I can.  It just …”

 

The words had faded, and Daniel hadn’t bothered to ask for more.  On the drive home, déjà vu had come screaming out of his troubled mind.  It was the day he’d gone to see Jack after he’d been forced to retire for stealing a Tollan device.

 

“If you really believe that, I guess, ah, I guess I never really knew you at all.”

“Come on. You’re a bright guy. You had to sense some of this … Then no. I guess you couldn’t relate to me any more than I could to you.”

“So this whole, uh, this whole friendship thing we’ve been working on in the last few years is…”

“Apparently not much of a foundation there, huh?”

 

Jack had been acting, and he’d fooled Daniel completely.  But this last time, he hadn’t been acting.  So it was really over between them.  Was the friendship done too?  Good god.  Was he getting maudlin?  Daniel shook himself from the depression and got up to go home.

 

 

Chapter Three: A Shattered Heart

 

A Year Later

 

The friendship was over.  The final stab in the back had been yesterday.  The most hurtful, bizarre thing that had ever come out of Jack’s mouth.

“I don’t like most of what you say. I try to resist the urge to shove you through a wall.”

There had been all those times where Daniel had made excuses or when he’d simply shrugged it off.  There was no shrugging this off.  The pain of his broken wrist combined with Jack’s behavior had forced him to call him a “stupid sonofabitch.”  He’d never called Jack anything more than an ass.  Even when he’d been childish and annoying and insufferable.

There was no turning back.  No apologies.  No second chances.  And boy, golly, ladies and gentlemen, his wrist hurt like hell.  It reflected his internal self.

Daniel looked at the pills in the paper cup and made a face before making a b-line out of the infirmary.

“Daniel, don’t you want the pain medication?” Janet asked after him.  He hated himself for ignoring her.

 

 

Chapter Four: Goodbye

 

Daniel knew he was dead the moment he’d touched that goddamn metal.  There was nothing like touching something with that sort of heat signature.  It was like touching a metal that was somehow diseased.  And it was.  Daniel also knew what he was in for and he couldn’t decide if that knowledge was worth knowing.

Jack had just left, puzzled by the ease with which he had rattled off the symptoms to come.  It was odd.  Jack acted as if he cared, but Daniel knew damn well he didn’t.  Jack had a well-developed sense of duty.  He was part of his team, so he had to fulfill the duty of checking up on the injured.  Hell, Jack did that even with other teams.  Frowning, he wondered if he’d shown more concern for them compared to his own teammate.  Granted, one that he loathed.

“Well, Jack, you’re finally getting rid of me,” he murmured to himself.

“Daniel?”

He turned and found Janet staring at him.  When had she walked in?  “What?”

“Are you … you don’t really think that, do you?”

“Yes,” he said, thinking that lying now was an exercise in stupidity.

Instead of arguing, Janet’s painful expression said it all.  “C’mon.  Let’s get you to the ISO lab.”

 

Several hours later…

 

The pain was bad.  He’d been through more than his share of pain.  Right now, the closest comparison was a Goa’uld hand device.  Not the same pain, of course, but the intensity level was identical.  It took everything out of him to keep from crying and screaming.  It was so exhausting.

Sam and Teal’c had just left.  He wished he could have talked to them.  The morphine shot Janet had just given him barely took the edge off and the dosage had been enough to dope an elephant.

He had a feeling that Sam was going to drag out the hand device.  It wouldn’t work, not without the symbiote.

Goodbye, Jack.  I hope you’re happy with Sam.

The morphine was kicking in better because he was now hallucinating a shimmering mirage and … wait, why was he in the gateroom?  Was that Oma?

 

 

Chapter Five: The More Things Change

 

He had avoided checking up on Sam and Jack.  Ascended he may be, but some things just weren’t important anymore.

 

 

No, he was wrong.  His love for his friends, and former friend, was still there.  How could he called himself enlightened and not help?

 

 

Daniel sat in the tent, looking at the blonde woman who called herself Samantha Carter.  There was a familiarity there but no memory he could nail down.  The same thing had happened with Jack O’Neill, but with that man, he’d felt a tugging, a pull at his heart that was even more familiar.  He didn’t feel the same way about Samantha.  Teal’c had been the same but there was a tension there he associated with friendship.  With Jonas, there was nothing.

 

 

Daniel looked around his room at the SGC, picking up a statue here, an amulet there.  He was slowly regaining bits of his memory.  He was pretending, however, to know more than he really did.  All he had were disconnected snapshots.

No, that wasn’t entirely true.  He had snippets of scenes.  The strongest bits were about Jack.  They made him feel uncomfortable, almost disturbed.  There were kind memories, like getting a hug and being called “spacemonkey”, of all the stupidest things.  Then the ugly scenes surfaced.  He remembered getting yelled at over something … what had it been?  A Goa’uld named Osiris.

“Why didn’t you call and tell me you guys were in trouble?” Jack had asked.

Daniel remembered that he hadn’t bothered answering.  That was the year where Jack didn’t seem all that interested in their friendship.  The relationship.  His attitude had been a torture of hot and cold moods.  Hot and cold messages.  Didn’t they call that ‘mixed messages’?

Laira.  The submarine.  The Nazi.  Anise.  Sam.  More Sam.  Even more Sam.  Alternately, Jack had rescued him, saved his life, bringing him back to that planet with the light and the chemical addiction.  And there had been the rescue from Nicaragua.  He remembered crying in Jack’s arms at the loss of Shau’re.  He remembered that a month later, he and Jack had …

But then there was, “You never used to follow my lead.”  Jack’s words a few days ago.  That hadn’t been true.  Why had Jack said it?  Was he out of sorts because …

Daniel shook his head as he sat down on the bed, unable to finish the question, never mind answer it.  He began to undress and suddenly froze.  Jack said the words because it’s what he felt, never mind that it wasn’t actually true.

On the heels of that thought, another memory came back to life.  He’d been suffering a headache and a bruised back after the replicator creator, Reece, and thrown him into a wall.  Discussing how to stop her, he’d told Jack that he didn’t think she’d meant any harm.  She just hadn’t liked what he had to say.  Jack’s response had been so mean and hurtful that it had robbed him of an answer.

“I don’t like most of what you say.  I try to resist the urge to shove you through a wall.”

The pain that came with that was, in some respects, worse than the pain of his death.  And to top it all off, the people around them—Sam, Hammond—hadn’t even blinked.  So why the hell were they upset when he died?  And why the fuck was Jack acting nice?  It was as if the past two years, prior to his ascension, hadn’t happened.  Did he forget that they weren’t friends anymore?  Was he feeling guilty?  No, not possible.  That really wasn’t Jack’s way.  He felt guilty, yes, but about other things.  Any guilt directed his way was not only impossible, it wouldn’t even cross his mind.

 

 

Welcome back.  That’s what Jack had said.  Great.  Thanks, Jack.  But given all that he’s remembered, it’s anti-climactic.  He’d told Teal’c that he felt like he was part of something greater, unlike what he’d felt his entire life.  Even with Jack.  And he’d told Teal’c the truth.  What he hadn’t mentioned was that he had no intention of pursuing this course as a member of SG-1.  He’d actually meant what he said when he’d told Jonas, “Oh you can keep the office.”

He was sitting in said office, looking around for differences.  Jonas’ fish.  The TV.  The only things that were his own was the already-establish books on the shelves.  And his violated journals.  They were worn down from handling.  It’s a good thing he’d written his own original language or people would have learned about his relationship with Jack.  Former relationship.  Former friendship.  That last bit needed an exclamation because Jack had burned everything that had seemed important to him.  Artifacts and keepsakes.  Junk, he’d called it.

Well, at least he’d been honest.  And if Daniel was equally honest, he wasn’t really upset about losing his things because he had left them behind.  But it was one thing to leave it behind and another to watch a former friend treat it all like garbage waiting to be incinerated.  Daniel had the distinct feeling that his lot in life at the SGC was about to return to the way it had always been.

He snorted and murmured, “Like hell,” and clicked the desk light on, then the laptop—a nice addition that Jonas had left for him.  While waiting, he thought over the wording as he called up a form through the network computer.

Team Reassignment Request.

He typed as rapidly as he normally spoke and a stray thought lay over his head like a cartoon cloud:  I speak rapidly because I am often interrupted.

In the form’s box, he had typed:

“Due to a rearrangement of my priorities, I am formally requesting reassignment to an archaeological team.  I feel that I can help the SGC and Earth best in that capacity.  Sincerely, Doctor Daniel Jackson.”

Daniel reread the terse request several times, and each time he’d added words and then deleted them.  This was good enough.  If Hammond wanted a more detailed answer, he’d simply have to ask for it in private and not have it on the record.

I can’t work with Jack O’Neill.

Daniel cringed.  Even thinking it sounded childish and stupid.  Honestly, he’d had to work with a lot of people who didn’t like him or downright hated him.  Disrespect had been his lot in life, from going to college at fifteen, to completing an eight-year tenure at an insane twenty-one.  He could easily dismiss the negativity, especially from military types.

But.

This was different.  It didn’t matter that Jack had been acting a bit more genially.  Maybe he’d mellowed over the last year.  Maybe the anger had found a new target or outlet.  Whatever it was, it wasn’t Daniel’s business anymore.

The pain of it all filled him with temporary melancholy.  He’d slept with Jack.  Loved him.  And then it had been over for no apparent reason and Jack had been openly hostile after breaking it off.  Why?  Why?  Why?

Images and scenes flooded his sense memory and his stomach lurched as he thought of the kisses, the touches, the murmuring in his ear.  The feel of his cock inside him.  The smell of his sweat.  The wonderful way he orgasmed.  Jack had been adventurous and experimenting.  They had enjoyed sex outdoors, at night, behind his house and out of sight of nosy neighbors.  He thought of the first time.  The last time.  They had all been so great.  Even that make-up sex after that Tollan-Asgard sting.  Sting.  Yeah, there had been two reasons to use that term.  But the more he thought about that last time, after Nick had sent him the letter from that Mayan capital, the more he was certain that Jack had planned it that way.

And then it was all gone.  Done and dusted, as Sam sometimes said.  Like sweeping up after a party and hauling out the dust cloth and spray.

Still, the question plagued him.  Why?

Whatever had changed, it was purposely cut deep, like wielding a scalpel.  That change in Jack’s attitude, his behavior.  No matter how many times Daniel returned to beat it to death, he could never find an answer and now, musing over it all, the result was that maddening question.

Well, there was one answer he had discovered, and he printed the form and signed it, then made his way to Walter’s desk and placed it in his IN tray.  He paused, staring at it.  Who would see it before Hammond and Walter?  He took the form back and headed to his VIP room.  It would be hand delivered in the morning.

 

 

Chapter Six: Pains

 

 

“Close the door, Doctor Jackson.”

Hammond was stunned, that was obvious.  Daniel had expected it, but it still made him wince.  He shut the door.

“Have a seat.”

With a sigh, Daniel looked at the chair he’d so often seen Jack sitting in and an irrational revulsion overtook his sense.  He grabbed a folding chair from the refreshment table and set it down in front of Hammond’s desk.  The General regarded him in confusion.

“What’s going on, Doctor Jackson?”

Daniel chewed at his lip, his gaze landing on the General’s name plate.  He glanced up to find Hammond’s typical folded hands and patience.  “I’d like a transfer, sir.”

“I can see that,” the General said, pushing the paper away from him before leaning back in his chair.  “What’s happened between you and Colonel O’Neill, Major Carter, or Teal’c?”

“Uh …” Daniel began.  “I think I should stick to ‘I can best help in that capacity’.”  He made air quotes.

“I’m asking you what the trouble is because frankly, this is a big surprise.”

“Yes, I’m sure it is.”

They looked at each other for a long five-count.  “I’m sorry, Doctor Jackson but I need more.”

Daniel sighed again.  “If I explain a bit further, it can’t leave this office.  I need your word.”

“You have it,” Hammond said instantly.

“SG-1 would be better served without me.”

“I don’t agree.  You’re an invaluable—”

Daniel held up a hand.  “I’m very sorry, General Hammond, but I’m not.  No, seriously.  I wasn’t an invaluable member of the team long before I … died.  I don’t see that changing just because I’m back among the living.”

“I’m not sure I understand.  Why don’t you feel you have value?”

“Well, I do think I have value.  Just not with SG-1.”

“And I’ll ask that question again.”

“As you have reminded me in the past, if memory serves, SG-1 isn’t just a field unit but a diplomatic first-contact one.  The arguments I get into with Colonel O’Neill just aren’t worth any minor contribution I could make and I’m pretty much a hindrance.  In Colonel O’Neill’s opinion.  I think you’ll be better served having me on a team for purely educational purposes.  There really is no reason to take me on combat missions or for first contact.  There are plenty of people who can take my place.”

“Do you know how many people Colonel O’Neill rejected until he finally relented to accept Jonas?”

“Yes, sir, I do, and if I may be frank, he really doesn’t want me on the team.”

“I disagree.  He has expressed to me his ongoing admiration for your abilities.”

“With respect, sir, but he’s lying.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Jack has no use for me.”

Hammond’s brows rose.  “Has he said as much?”

“Yes, though not in that exact phrase.”

“Then how do you know?”

Daniel rapidly rattled off a very long list of events where Jack had been unhappy with his opinion, presence, and actions.  As he talked, Hammond’s frown gradually turned into a scowl.

“Why hasn’t this been brought to my attention?”

“Begging your pardon, sir, but you witnessed one such event.”  He recounted the moment during the Reece episode.

“I …” Hammond began, then closed his mouth and a look of chagrin crossed his features.  “I’m sorry.  I am so used to dismissing his outbursts that it’s become a habit.  But why didn’t you report the other instances like this one?”

“Because it just wasn’t worth bothering you with it, sir.  To be honest.”

“Then why start now?”

“Because …”  Daniel hesitated, trying to come up with something convincing that was mostly true.  Or partly true.  “My priorities have changed.  After you’ve had the life-altering experience of dying and returning from the dead, the everyday annoyances become compounded.  I don’t want to waste any more time on stroking egos and smoothing ruffled feathers.  I’m done playing doormat.”

He could see he was reluctantly winning Hammond over.  He looked down, letting himself show a bit of shame.

“The only regret is how Sam and Teal’c will take this.  I really don’t mean to hurt them, and I will miss them terribly.  But, I am no longer willing to work with … people who disrespect me.”  When Hammond gave him a chiding look, Daniel quickly added, “I am used to that, yes.  I have been all my life and it was never a problem before.  But now, it is.  I won’t tolerate it anymore.  So.”

He left the rest unsaid and waited.  Then someone knocked.

“Come,” Hammond said automatically.

Jack opened the door, his mouth open, ready to say something, and he was rocked back on his heels when he caught sight of Daniel.  His gaze went from Hammond to Daniel a few times.  “What’s going on?” he asked, curious.

Hammond looked at Daniel.  “Give me time to consider your request, Doctor Jackson.”

Daniel ground his back teeth, but he nodded and headed out the door.  “Colonel,” he said, formally.

Jack froze, watching Daniel walk away, and Daniel could feel the attention on his back like a hot pincer.  He heard Hammond tell Jack to close the door.

If Hammond chose to deny the request, he would re-submit it until Hammond either gave him what he wanted or accepted his resignation.  He had to live off-world.  He could be a liaison for some world, maybe.  No.  Diplomacy was not possible when dealing with Jack O’Neill.

He couldn’t go back to Abydos, and a deep sorrow momentarily emerged as he gave Skaara and the others a moment of respect.  He then went through all the things he needed in order to survive off-world.  But if Hammond approved his request, then the stress he’d been surviving under would dissipate.  He looked forward to working dig sites on a permanent basis.  The pay was better than any civilian work anyway.  That money always came from grants and was always under-funded.

He returned to his office and stood in the middle of the room, scanning the shelves, biting at his lip again.  Changes needed to be made here, too, and he settled into a routine as reorganized everything according to an old system he had used while at the Oriental Institute.  For some reason, things had become a jumbled mess over the last seven years.  It had been as if he’d put himself in standby mode.

After the first few minutes, he realized he’d been waiting for Jack to show up, demanding an explanation for seeing Hammond without going through him first.  He sighed with relief when that didn’t happen.  It meant that Hammond had done as he’d asked and not told Jack about the request.

At lunchtime, Sam appeared in the doorway.  “You getting lunch?”

“Uh …” Daniel said, pausing as he considered, not looking at her.  Was he hungry?  Yes.  He was.  “Okay.  You inviting me?”

She gave him a puzzled look.  “Well, yeah.  Why wouldn’t I?”

He shrugged.  “I’m still not feeling …”

“At home?” she asked, giving him a wan smile.

“A bit,” he said slowly.

“C’mon,” she said, nodding in the direction of the elevator.  He returned her smile and they left.

“How’s your memory?” she asked as they walked.

“It’s coming back in odd bits and pieces.”

“How so?”

“Well, I’ll remember something from five years ago.  Then I’ll remember something from two years ago.”

“Oh.  Yeah, I guess that could be weird.”  She paused, then looked at him.  “Must be really tough.  I can’t even imagine how I’d be handling it.”

“You’d probably be analyzing how it all fits,” Daniel said, trying on a grin.

She frowned.  “Actually, that sounds more like what you’d do.”

“It does?” he asked, frowning.  Did it?  “Was I projecting or …?”

She grinned at him.  “I’m teasing.”

Daniel frowned.  “You were?”  He felt out of place even more.  “Okay.  I’m officially lost.”  When Sam didn’t respond, he stopped in the middle of the corridor.  An Airman bumped into him and Daniel winced.  “Sorry!” he called after the person as he stepped to the wall.

“Daniel?” Sam asked, copying him.

He almost asked, “Are you sleeping with Jack?” but clamped down on it.

“What?” Sam asked.

“Nothing,” he said, and pinched her sleeve as he began to move off.  “C’mon.  I think I’m just suffering from after-effects.”  It was a lie and he suspected she knew it was.

When they were in the elevator, four more people joined them, and to his relief, conversation died.  From his peripheral vision, he thought he saw her start to say something several times and then reconsider.  Daniel was relieved when the doors opened on Level 12, Mess Hall.  He still mentally referred to it as a cafeteria because it functioned that way, even if it was manned by Air Force personnel.

As they went through the line, choosing selections from within separate refrigeration displays, Daniel frowned as his hand hesitated, trying to choose desserts.

“What?” Sam asked again.

With another peripheral glance, telling him there were people in line behind her, he quickly chose chocolate pudding and moved on.  Sam found her favorite blue jello and it made him smile.

What?” she asked again when they found an empty four-person table.

He matched her frown, but his was based on confusion.  Or maybe she was confused too?  He couldn’t really read her like he’d been able to do in the past.  Joking, teasing, challenging.  That hadn’t reappeared during the last month since he’d returned.  He probably needed more time to get back in the swing of things here.  Maybe.  He shook his head as he grabbed the salt.

“It’s stupid.  Never mind.”

“Don’t do that,” she said, disappointed.

Daniel sighed.  “What?  Edit myself?”

“Yeah.  Since when do you do that?” she asked, taking a bite with her fork.  She made a face.  “Dammit.  When are they going to make a decent pot roast?”  She picked at the seasoned cut potatoes, then sprinkled them with ketchup.

He grinned at her selection but then the grin faded when he realized that that was something Jack would have done.  Christ.  They were sharing food choices.  At least the jello hadn’t changed.

“When they decide that military personnel deserve a hell of a lot more than they’ve been getting,” he answered, sighing heavily.

Sam said, “The Army has a saying.  You either salute it, paint it, or shoot it.  Doesn’t say anything about food.”

“But we’re Air Force,” he said.

She grinned.  “And the last part of that idiotic litany gets changed to ‘fly it’.”

Daniel wrinkled his nose.  “You’d think they’d have made exceptions to this place.”

“Ya think?” Sam said with a mouthful of blue.

Now she was copying him.  He suddenly lost his appetite, but rather than show any emotion, he pretended to eat when all he really did was pick at his food.  He’d been about to tell her that he’d requested a transfer but decided to wait on Hammond.  She might get upset.  And she might tell Jack.

As he nibbled, he told himself that from now on, he’d refer to Jack as O’Neill, even in his thoughts.  His decision widened the hole in his heart.

 

 

Daniel was in the gym, rebuilding muscle tone.  He’d need it to rejoin a dig and had no intention to be caught flat-footed where stamina was concerned.  He remembered being teased about working too much so he had to return to form.  After his third set of bench presses—the most he could manage was twenty-five pounds and that was embarrassing—he found Teal’c standing beside him as he sat up.

“Daniel Jackson,” the strong Jaffa greeted, bowing his head once.

“Teal’c,” Daniel returned as he got to his feet.

“Do you wish to return to the tak’nel’sha training?”

The Chulakian form of Tai Chi.

“Uh, sure, if you’ve got the time.”

“I do.”

It was a welcome surprise when Daniel found it was much easier to resume this sort of training than it had been for everything else.  An hour went by fast and he grabbed his nearby towel and pressed it against his neck.

“Thanks, Teal’c.  I needed that.”

Teal’c gave him an even look.  “You are quitting?”

Daniel paused.  “Uh, yeah.  Why?”

“We used to spend a lot more time together.”

“Doing what?”

“Sparring.”

“We did?”

“Indeed.”

Daniel grinned at the familiar response.  “Maybe next time, okay?  I need to get my body toned up first.  I have a feeling I’ll pull a muscle sparring.”

“Very well.”

Daniel toweled again, turning away, and felt an odd sense of déjà vu.

“Something is wrong,” Teal’c said.

Daniel looked up at him, surprised.  “I have some things to work through.”

“Returning from ascension,” his Jaffa friend said.

“No, I have that covered, mostly,” he immediately replied.  “I think.  Anyway, it’s just…”  Daniel cleared his throat.  “Can I confide in you?”

“You can,” Teal’c said, standing.

Again, he chewed at his lip, rehearsing in five seconds every possible method of saying the same thing.  “I’m waiting on Hammond,” he said slowly and deliberately, “to approve a request.”

“For what?”

“I—”

Jack walked in, wearing sweats.  “Hey,” he said, greeting both of them.

“Hey,” Daniel replied automatically and hated himself instantly.

“O’Neill,” Teal’c said, bowing his head once.

“Uh, I’ll talk to you later,” Daniel said to Teal’c, and quickly left the room.  As he headed for the locker room, he heard Jack’s fading voice ask, “Hey, what was that about?”

 

 

He waited with dread as he worked in his office on a translation that SG-4 had found on a pedestal on P3W-459.  Any minute now, Jack would walk in and interrupt, asking him what that was about back in the gym.  After an hour passed, he sighed with a contradictory mixture of relief and sorrow.  He was glad that Jack hadn’t come asking, but saddened by the reinforced knowledge that Jack no longer had any interest in what he said or did.  He mentally berated himself for wanting to have it both ways.

 

 

 

Chapter Seven: Transfer

 

 

By the time their rescue mission to the Alpha Site had concluded and Sam was recuperating in the infirmary, he still hadn’t had an answer from Hammond.  Six months had gone by.  The General was deliberately stalling.

With a finality that swept through him, he went to Hammond’s office.  He was halfway inside the briefing room before he saw that J… O’Neill was in the General’s office.  In an action born of habit, he did an about-face and left.  In his wake, Hammond called after him.

“Doctor Jackson?”

“Nothing!  Never mind!” Daniel called back and kept moving briskly toward the elevator.  By the time he got to his office, he was both in a panic and fuming.  First, he hoped to god that Hammond wasn’t telling Ja… O’Neill about his request.  Second, Hammond was clearly forcing him to stay on SG-1.  Didn’t the General understand that things were more chaotic than ever?  No.  Which meant he needed to be informed.

It hadn’t been all bad.  It was just that things were cordial one day, snippy the next, friendly the day after, and cold as ice for several days after that.  Nothing was on an even keel, so to speak.  It was giving him a daily headache.

Jack had … O’Neill had given him a backhanded compliment during the Unas fiasco, and he’d come to Nicaragua to rescue him—and that had been one hell of a surprise.  Daniel remembered the shocked look on his face when he’d asked him what the hell he was doing there.  When he’d put his arm around his shoulders and O’Neill’s arm had gone around his waist, the intensity of their breakup had flooded his brain and sense memories had rendered him speechless.  In fact, the only time he’d spoken was when the CIA guy had asked questions.  Or when Bill had asked something or stated something ludicrous.

The following week, O’Neill had bitten his head off in the elevator when Sam had been missing aboard the Prometheus.  For no reason.  Daniel had just been making conversation about what they were doing to find Sam.  Why snap at him?

The last twenty-four hours had been an exercise in silence.  Jack … O’Neill had largely ignored him except to order him to take Jacob back to base.  He seemed to think that was all Daniel was good for because he’d told him to stay here.

Daniel had to admit that he wasn’t really meant to track people, but this was Sam and he’d wanted to help.  Maybe it was the Colonel’s logical assessment at work here, but Daniel couldn’t shake the feeling that it was only cementing his decision for a transfer.

His phone rang, and he stared at it, considering several reasons for someone calling him.  On the third ring, he answered.

“Doctor Jackson,” he said, purposely formal.

“Doctor Jackson,” came Hammond’s stern voice.  “Please come to the briefing room.”

“Yes, sir.”

Hammond’s tone had that deadly seriousness to it and Daniel went through another set of scenarios as he made his way there.  Upon entering, he paused mid-step.  J … O’Neill and Teal’c were there, and Hammond was in his office, on the phone, door closed.  Sam was still in the infirmary, recovering from her ordeal.  He would go see her after this little meeting.  He was pretty sure it would be necessary.

Wrenching his mind back to the present business, he wondered if this was the moment when Hammond was going to tell them about the transfer.  Anger rose within.  Why couldn’t he just tell him privately without Jack and Teal’c … goddammit … O’Neill and Teal’c, then tell them later?

Right then and there, he decided that if he couldn’t trust Hammond any more than he could trust Jack, then come hell or high water, he was not returning to Earth after the next mission, whether it be with SG-1 or SG-11.  His mind ran through dozens of planet destinations as he greeted Jack with a cool look and a much warmer one for Teal’c.  It was childish.  He didn’t care, and he didn’t bother asking what was going on.  He stopped near the middle of the table and crossed his arms.

“You know what this is about?” O’Neill asked him.

“Nope,” Daniel said tersely.  Technically true.

When Hammond hung up and opened his office door, Daniel probed his cheek with his tongue, awaiting the explosion that would come from all quarters.  Christ, he was thinking in military terminology.  Maybe that was a more rational reason to transfer the hell—

“Doctor Jackson,” Hammond said, his face grave.  He turned to the rest of SG-1.  “Colonel O’Neill.  Teal’c.  I have decided that our program could use Doctor Jackson’s expertise elsewhere.  Effective immediately, I am permanently reassigning him to our baseline archaeological team, SG-6.”

“What?” O’Neill asked, startled.

Teal’c merely raised his eyebrow and shot Daniel an accusatory look, which Daniel pointedly ignored.

“For what reason?” Jack asked, looking at Daniel, then back to Hammond.

“It’s a decision I have taken great care to consider and discussing it is not on the table,” Hammond told him, then addressed Daniel.  “Doctor, you’re to report to Major Wallingford on P2C-701 tomorrow morning at 0700.  Until then, you may return to the work of translating that pedestal from 459.”

“Yes, sir,” Daniel said with a nod while pivoting on his toe and leaving the room.  The stunned look on Teal’c’s face gave him intense regret and sadness but he had to do what he had to do.  He forced himself not to have noticed the look on O’Neill’s face.

Back in his office, Daniel once more devised scenarios in his head, except these all had to do with the upcoming conversations with Sam, Teal’c, and, perhaps, O’Neill.  He prefaced these scenes with their asking if he’d asked for a transfer, and when he said, “Yes,” they’d ask why.

“Because you’re sleeping together.”

Suddenly Daniel remembered that she was seeing Pete Shanahan.  Their relationship was very serious.  So the next scenario focused on O’Neill and all answers were variations on a theme.  “Because you’re an asshole.”

Only once did he venture into fantasy where he had it all wrong and O’Neill had extreme personal issues to deal with that he was embarrassed to talk to Daniel about.

So was it really fair to behave like an immature brat?  In a word, no.  But O’Neill’s behavior wasn’t fair either.  Daniel had asked him during their year together if he really had feelings for Sam and the answer had been a hesitant ‘No.’

“It comes down to this, Daniel.  I’m torn between men and women.  I’m supposed to be one or the other.”

“No you’re not,” Daniel had told him.  “There’s such a thing as bisexual, Jack.”

O’Neill had dismissively waved that off.  “Bullshit.  Either you’re one or the other.  Pick a fucking side.”

They had had an argument on the heels of that which had forced Daniel to skip staying the night.

Daniel blinked to the here and now.  He blinked some more.  Was that when it happened?  The distancing?  Was that why Jack had turned on him?  That would mean that O’Neill was behaving even more irrationally than he thought.  And it made no damn sense.  He was normally a very rational person, if a bit too reserved.  Level-headed but stubborn.  The only time that irrationality had seeped into their professional lives was when O’Neill had ordered Sam to construct a Naquada bomb to annihilate the Gadmeer ship.

Afterward, O’Neill and Sam had been lucky to escape Courts Martial.  It had been out of character for either of them and Hammond had ultimately decided not to go through with it on the grounds that the situation had been highly emotional.  But he had issued a command to the entire team: never again let your emotions control a situation or he would be unable to stop the repercussions.  A Court Martial would be ordered from Hammond’s superiors.

After that warning, Hammond had told O’Neill and Sam something that still made Daniel blush with embarrassment.

“Doctor Jackson was the most rational person during this mission, and trust me, after the Eurondan incident, that is saying something.”

O’Neill was, in many ways, a by-the-book Colonel of the United States Air Force.  But his command of an SG team had forced him to think outside the box.  For O’Neill, that meant emotion, not lateral thinking.  And that’s what he, Daniel, was for.  In his opinion, of course.  Sam, too, was by-the-book.

Daniel had been wagging the pen in his hand, tapping it on the table, when the thought about rationality returned.  And Hammond’s order to refrain from emotional conflicts.  This qualified, didn’t it?  And was he himself behaving rationally?  Emotionally, yes, and wasn’t that an irony.

He looked at the clock and decided that maybe he’d go see Sam to give her the news.  Or should he leave it up to O’Neill to tell her?  He refused to imagine that conversation.  A knock at the open door snapped him awake, so to speak, and his blurred vision refocused on the three open books and the laptop screen set before him.  “Yes?” he asked, scribbling something nonsensical on the ringed note binder under his pen.  It had a lot of ink dots on it; the result of tapping his pen.

“Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c said, stepping in a few feet.  “Am I disturbing you?”

Daniel turned to him, mostly surprised.  “No,” he said and gestured at the chair in front of his desk.  He used to have it stationed on the left side, but he’d kept barking his shins against it and had finally had enough.  How long ago had that been?  “Have a seat.”

With a faint smile, Teal’c sat down and leaned his forearms on his knees.  “You do not appear to be upset by this reassignment.”

Daniel made a face.  “Yeah.”  He paused, staring at his books as he chewed at his lip.  He blinked a few times before giving Teal’c a direct look and a false smile.  “I’m not.”

“May I ask why?” Teal’c asked, and to Daniel’s shame, he looked worried.  “Have I don’t something to upset you?”

What?  No.  You haven’t.  This has nothing to do with you.  It’s just …”  He couldn’t tell the truth and hated himself for it.  “I mentioned to Hammond that ever since I got back, I haven’t really felt at home.”

Teal’c frowned, confused.  “But you said you had finally come to a sense of belonging.  To being a part of something important.  Has that changed?”

“No.  Not … exactly.  I want to return to archaeological work.  I’ll continue to work on all artifacts brought back by other teams, but we also have other people for that that are just as qualified.”

“No one knows the Ancients language like you do.”

“Maybe.  But I also want more field work.  Archaeological field work.  I’ve done that on occasion, but I want to do it full time, so I asked if I could.”  Now for the lie.  But I didn’t expect this.  Except he couldn’t get it past his lips.  Lying to Teal’c was damn near anathema.

Teal’c’s frown deepened.  “You asked for a transfer,” he stated.  “What has transpired that has forced you to request this?”

Daniel blinked.  Okay.  Busted.  He killed the wince he wanted to express.  Teal’c seemed to catch it anyway, damn him.  Daniel threw his pen down, got up, closed the door, and walked over to the front of his desk and leaned against its edge.  “I can’t talk about it, Teal’c.  But understand that it isn’t about you.”

“You can trust me, Daniel Jackson.”

“I …” Daniel began, intending to finish with ‘know that’, but he caught himself.  “Sorry, Teal’c, but you’re O’Neill’s best friend.”

I used to be, he thought.  Or maybe I was just deluded.

“I do not understand,” Teal’c said softly.

“You’ve told him things about me and Sam that we didn’t want revealed, and you did it because you felt it was for, ‘our own good’.”  He made air quotes.  “This is no different.  Admittedly, neither of us told you to keep whatever issue it was quiet, so you aren’t to blame.  I don’t mean to offend or anything, but I refuse to face O’Neill about this issue because all he has done lately is to take what I say out of proportion.”

“I see,” Teal’c said, frowning even more as he looked down in pensive thought.  “If I give you my word that I will not reveal what you tell me, will you believe that?”

Daniel blinked.  “Yeah, because I know you to be an honorable man.”

“Then trust what I say.  I will reveal nothing that is said here in this room or at any other time regarding this subject.”

“Or related subjects,” Daniel hedged.

Teal’c bowed his head once as he amended, “Or related subjects.”

Daniel nodded and made a deep sigh as he folded his arms.  “I’m done working for someone who has zero respect for me or what I do.  It was hard, in the beginning, but Ja… O’Neill eventually learned to respect my knowledge and opinions based on it.  It was different in civilian life.  I was used to it and I had no problems dealing with it.”  He paused, looking off for a moment.  “Well, not ‘no problem’, but it was easy to dismiss.”  He shook his head.  “Anyway, since returning from ascension, I’ve remembered a lot of things that happened that hurt me deeply.  In the past, I let them go.  But it’s different now.  I’m different.”

“These hurtful things were from O’Neill,” Teal’c stated.

“Unfortunately.  I’d say ninety percent of them are.  So now …”  He shrugged.  “Given my return, I’m being given a second chance.  Which means that I have zero interest in putting up with the bullshit aimed my way.  This time, I’m not letting it go.”

“Do you believe that O’Neill means you harm?” Teal’c asked.

“No.  But after I did a historical audit of our time together, I realized …”  He swallowed.  “It seems that it’s in his nature to turn on me.”

Teal’c frowned.  “Explain.”

Daniel waved a hand, regretting what he’d said.  “No, never mind.  I’m being irrational, and I shouldn’t have said it.”

“Regardless, please explain what you mean.”

Daniel made a face.  “It’s … okay.  Back when we went to the Land of Light and O’Neill got infected, he attacked me for being concerned about Sam.”

“That was not O’Neill,” Teal’c countered.

“Yes, which is why I set aside that event.”

“But there are others?” Teal’c asked, surprised.

Daniel’s cheek twitched.  “One.  When we were memory stamped.  Remember?”

“Unfortunately,” Teal’c said sourly.

“Wouldn’t you agree that that we were still ourselves, even if our memories had changed?”

“I would,” Teal’c nodded.

“O’Neill attacked me for arguing with him and punched me in face.”

Teal’c frowned.  “I vaguely remember that.  I had tried to get you to remember, then I was dragged away and stamped again.”  He paused.  “I did not see the punch land.  It did?”

Daniel’s brows rose and he lifted a finger to his lip.  “You didn’t notice the crusted blood?”

Teal’c frowned, thinking.  “I did at the time.  However, after having my memories altered a second time, I returned with the stamp in place.  Afterward, I assumed it was something you picked up with working.”

“Yeah, no, that was J—O’Neill.  I think it’s why you started yelling at us, telling us it wasn’t who we were.  But, Teal’c.  It was.  He went straight for Sam, not me.”

Teal’c frowned and Daniel cursed himself for the slip of the tongue.

“What do you mean?”

“Um …”  He paused, trying to think of a way to lie, but he couldn’t.  “There was no automatic assumption that we were friends.”

“But you cannot judge him on that basis,” Teal’c argued.

“Why?”

“Because we are friends, Daniel Jackson.  Despite this, the stamp made me dislike you.   Do you remember when I returned?  How I behaved?”

“I think you were afraid, Teal’c.  O’Neill wasn’t afraid.  He was enraged.  And I have to tell you this.  The Jack O’Neill that I used to know ceased to exist when you returned from blowing up Thor’s ship.”

Teal’c seemed to go into deep thought so Daniel poured himself another cup of coffee and returned to sit behind his desk.  As he sipped, he regarded Teal’c for a few seconds, then thought over his words.  He decided that he hadn’t regretted any of them.  The only question now was—

“There is another reason,” Teal’c said, shaking his head.  “I cannot understand why you would request reassignment based solely on those reasons.  You have encountered many things as a member of SG-1 and will continue to do so in the future.  The same can be said for serving on an archaeological dig.  For what other reason have you decided to leave us?”

Because I’m hurt and jealous of his feelings for Sam and I hate that he’s pushed me aside while he undergoes whatever stupid-ass inner turmoil wrestling match he has decided to engage in.  Because I love him and I thought he loved me.  To know that he doesn’t hurts like hell and I hate him for that.  And I just can’t seem to get past it.

Teal’c was staring at him.  “Daniel?” he asked, leaving off the last name.  That meant business.

Without stopping himself, he dove into risky waters and recited his internal monologue out loud.  Heat suffused his cheeks and he looked down at his hands, waiting, unwilling to see the expression on Teal’c’s face.  He had no idea how Jaffa culture treated gay men.  Or bisexual men.  It wasn’t something that would come up while in a military facility or on a military mission.

He suddenly cursed himself for being such an idiot.  What had he been thinking?  Was Teal’c’s race homophobic?  Did he just alienate the only true friend he had left on this base?  The righteous part of him that dealt with fair play and giving everyone a chance told him that if Teal’c ended their friendship over this, then it wasn’t a true friendship.  No matter how it hurt.

“I understand,” Teal’c said.

Daniel snapped his gaze to Teal’c’s in surprise.  “You … what?”

“I had no idea that you and O’Neill were …”  He frowned.  “Intimate?”

Daniel gave him a wan smile.  “Have you heard about the military regulation that is informally referred to as DADT?  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell?”  To further his surprise, Teal’c nodded.

“At first I did not understand why the men and women of this command would sometimes speak in hushed tones.  I could not help but overhear them, thanks to decades of improved hearing due to carrying a symbiote.  Even though I no longer carry one, the advantages are still there.”  He paused.  “I did not deliberately overhear.”

“I never considered you did,” Daniel said reassuringly.  It was Teal’c’s turn to chew at the corner of his mouth.  Something Daniel rarely saw him do.

“I do not normally comment on the relationships of my friends unless they interfere with my own safety.  But were you not violating the regulations against fraternization?”

Daniel nodded.  “Yep.  Not anymore, but we were.  And one day, we were sitting on his couch and … I found out we were both bisexual.”  Teal’c gave him a puzzled look.  “When a person is attracted to both men and women.  Sometimes equally, sometimes more towards one than another.”

“I see.”  He was pensive as he thought things through.  “Are you sure that leaving SG-1 is the right course of action?”

Daniel tilted his head back and sighed, staring at the ceiling.  He knew every crevice and hole in the damn thing.  It was almost like a pattern.  A treacherous thought intruded, telling him that he could say the same thing about O’Neill’s body.  With a groan, he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Are you in pain?”

“Emotionally.”  Daniel got up.  “C’mon, Teal’c.  Let’s go talk to Sam.  If O’Neill is already there, I want backup.”

“As you wish,” Teal’c said, then laid a hand on his arm.  “I wish you would stay.”

“Something has to change, Teal’c.  Since O’Neill is not likely to do that, it’s up to me.”

“I understand.”  He held Daniel’s arm and his eyes were filled with emotion.  “Given what you have told me, and despite knowing that Major Carter has a relationship with Pete Shanahan, I should tell you that she and Colonel O’Neill shared a close moment at the Alpha Site before we returned.”

“What do you mean?” Daniel asked, the pit in his stomach getting larger.

“He put his arm around her while she took a few minutes to rest before we headed to the Stargate.”  He paused, then added, “It could easily be construed as one teammate having concern for another.  She was exhausted.”

Daniel saw a familiar look in Teal’c’s eyes.  “But …?”

“But when I envision you in her place, I cannot see O’Neill doing the same for you.”

“But I can for you,” Daniel sighed, closing his eyes.

Teal’c swallowed.  “Indeed.”

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