Fallen Heroes by devra

For the thousandth time, Daniel picks an imaginary piece of lint off his black suit. After the lint picking comes the pants smoothing, followed by the tie adjusting to be completed by the leg stretching. I can mentally count to five before Daniel repeats the cycle. In the beginning, I was able to count to thirty before the circuit would start all over again, but as we draw closer to home, his frantic, nervous, self-ministrations have increased.



For a second, I have the inane thought to ask him if he's okay. How stupid is that? Of course he isn't. But he would say that he is, I'd be satisfied and all would be well. But I don't want to play *that* game, I don't need to hear the lie, so instead I opt for another game.

"Want to get something to eat?"

He looks at me, assessing me, deciding, I guess, if I asked that question to see if *he* was really hungry, or to gage if *I* was hungry and wanted food. I must look hungry to him because he answers, "Okay, I could eat. Take in, alright? I really don't want to go out to eat dressed like." Daniel waves his hand over his body and picks another piece of imaginary lint off his jacket.

Okay, we got hungry, but not wanting to be seen in public, definitely a doable situation.

* * * *

We drive through a fast food restaurant and the smell of the french fries is making even *my* mouth water. At the next light, I lean over and grab a handful of fries from the bag sitting on the floor between Daniel's feet. I offer him one, and he shakes his head, turning away as if disgusted or nauseated. I stuff the fries in my mouth and am just chewing and swallowing when Daniel mumbles something.

"'At?" I ask around my mouthful of food.

"I said, whose decision was it that Cassie not attend the memorial service?"

"We talked about it." I take a quick sip of soda to wash the residual fries down and Daniel stretches his legs, holding the bags in place.

"Who talked about it?"

"The General. and I. Both of us."

"It was wrong, you know. Cassie not being there."

"Maybe." I concede.

"Maybe? We're her only family."

I sigh, tightening my hands on the steering wheel. "That's not true and you know it. Fraiser's parents are here taking care of her."

"You really believe that, don't you? Cassie will just go on and Janet's parents will be an easy replacement?"

"Hey," I reply angrily, "I didn't say that. Don't go putting words into my mouth."

Daniel gives up without a fight and brushes a piece of lint off his suit jacket.

He's hurting. I know he is. I viewed the tape, Cassie's attendance at the memorial service wasn't the only thing the General and I discussed. I saw what Daniel saw and I heard the panic and tears in his voice when he screamed for help. Daniel may say he doesn't feel guilty, but he's lying. He feels guilty and so do I, but for reasons I'll never tell Daniel.

That staff blast was too close. A few inches to the right and I'd be driving home alone with thoughts of drinking myself into oblivion. Cassie's attendance at the memorial service wouldn't even be a topic for discussion, though how fast I would hand in my retirement papers would have taken top priority. Daniel would have been gone for good, no sarcophagus, no divine intervention and I don't believe Oma would have given him a second chance. The SGC would have been standing at attention at the base of the ramp in the Gateroom to honor a different hero. So tell me, how can I tell Daniel, 'I'm sorry Fraiser died, but thank God it wasn't you'?

* * * *

Daniel disappears the moment we get home and I head to the kitchen to throw the bags of fast food directly into the garbage, their once tantalizing odor now sickens me and those few fries I ate sit heavy and uncomfortable. Daniel's suit is thrown haphazardly across the bed and I hear the shower running.

Lovingly, I hang up his suit, stopping myself before I brush lint off the collar. I start the process of undressing, and I've stripped down to my boxers and socks when the bathroom door opens.

Daniel emerges with just a towel wrapped his waist, an apology about forgetting his clothes starts and dies on his lips when he sees the bandages wrapped around my midsection. He blanches and sways, but I'm at his side in a second, pulling him into a tight hug. "So close, too close," he whispers.

Daniel has echoed my sentiments, but for completely different reasons. He squirms to get out of my grasp, but I will have none of it and tighten my hold.

"Let me go," he pleads.

"No," I say, relishing the warmth and closeness of a person I came very close to losing this week. Finally, I relent and I hold him at arm's length, cupping his chin, forcing him to make eye contact with me. "Tell me honestly, how many times did you see the tape, how many times was enough for you, Daniel?

Daniel's shrug is answer enough for me. "I turned the tape over to General Hammond."

"I know you did. But it's still here." I tap his forehead for emphasis.

"I don't need a tape to be reminded of that. I was there, Jack, remember? I was privy to the full Technicolor version of Janet's demise."

"Daniel," I rub my hands over the goose bumps peppering his naked arm.

"What?" He backs away from my offer of comfort.

I drop my hands to my side, suddenly feeling very naked and exposed in just my boxers and socks.

Daniel walks over to the dresser, aggressively opening and shutting drawers before he decides on a pair of sweats and a tee. "Excuse me, I'm going to go get dressed."

* * * *

Hours later, I find Daniel on the roof. I drop heavily into one of the two chairs, the ache in my chest intensified by my climb.

"You didn't have to come up here," Daniel says after eyeing me rubbing my bandages.

"No, I didn't," I admit. "I wanted to."


"What why? Why am I up here? Or why did Fraiser die?"

"Why are you up. oh, maybe both." Daniel flings his body into the chair next to mine.

"I can answer one of the two." I grope for his hand and intertwine our fingers when I make contact. "I'm here because you need me. Mourning is a terrible life process and doing it alone is unhealthy." I squeeze his fingers. "Believe me, I know."

"I need to work this through."

"What do you need to work through, Daniel?" I shift sideways, studying his profile. "Tell me."

"I wish I knew. This just feels so wrong. And how can I tell you what's wrong if I can't deal with it myself?"

"Because maybe the idea of dealing with Fraiser's death by yourself is the problem."

"I don't know any other way. Old habits are hard to break."

"Yada, yada, yada. Tell me another. Can't teach an old dog new tricks." I guide our joined hands to my face, holding them against my cheeks before kissing the back of his hand. "I'm an old dog and I've learned plenty of new tricks." I get a tight smile for that response.

"It hurts."

"Yes, it does. You know that."

Daniel nods in agreement. "I couldn't do anything for her. Janet was dead before she hit the ground. I didn't even get a chance to say goodbye. Or tell her thank you, or I'm sorry I didn't appreciate her. Or offer her comfort. Damn, I couldn't even give back to her what she'd given me countless times. I couldn't save her life."

"No one could have, Daniel." I read the medical report and Daniel was right. Short of a sarc, nothing could have saved her.

"She'll be replaced."

"No, her job at the SGC will be filled, no one can replace Fraiser."

"She's irreplaceable."

"Yup, that she is. I loved when she would go toe to toe with Hammond." We both chuckle at our separate memories of those moments.

I notice and make no mention of the tears sliding down Daniel's cheeks. "Janet respected us. me and you. She understood."

The 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' credo sticks in my craw. "I never thanked her for that."

"I did," Daniel admits. "I mean, I didn't come right out and say it. but after annual physicals I always sent her roses."

"You did?" I ask incredulously. "You never said anything."

Daniel laughs softly. "What should I have said, Jack? I sent Janet a dozen roses because she didn't write in her report that you and I are lovers?"

"I'm going to miss her, a lot." I admit, feeling the all too familiar sting of tears behind my eyes. I watch the sky for a moment. "Want to call Cassie? See if she wants to spend some time with her uncles?"

Daniel leans into my shoulder. "Call Sam and Teal'c also. I'm hungry. Maybe they can pick up some pizzas on their way over. and we can."

Have a true memorial service. Pay homage to the Janet Fraiser we know. we knew and loved. "Good idea."

Daniel gets up and offers me a hand. I accept it gratefully. We stand facing each other for a moment.

"Thank you for forcing me."

"It's okay," I say, planting a quick, chaste whisper of a kiss on his lips. And I give a silent thanks to our fallen hero, Dr. Janet Fraiser, who gave her life so others could live.  

The End!

Author's Comments: Thanks to jo and babs for understanding my need.and you gals should know that the rose is still in bloom. Jo you are the bestest beta, but as always any mistakes are mine and mine alone.


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