Manips by JoaG
Yup, Jack had seen that look before. It wasn't determination, it was something more. The set of the chin, the squaring of the shoulders, the very slight lift of the lips as if privy to a private joke. Every wimp, every geek, every underdog who'd been pushed around by the playground bully - mine had finally had enough.
Except this wasn't your run of the mill playground and the ornately dressed Goa'uld, who Daniel was choosing to go head to head with, was more than a notch above a bully. And the friends that should be watching Daniel's back, were doing just that. Watching. From their knees, with the points of staff weapons aimed at their jugulars.
"False god," Daniel repeated.
Jack cringed as Daniel was backhanded. Again. "Hey, Phoebe," he yelled, ignoring the point of the weapon digging into his neck.
"Phobos, Jack." Daniel spat a mouthful of blood inches from the gold-sandaled feet of the Goa'uld.
"DanielJackson," Teal'c bellowed, beating Jack to the punch.
"Shol'va." Phobos began a slow walk around Daniel, who stood at parade rest. Eyes forward. "This one." The Goa'uld ran a hand down Daniel's swollen cheek. "He is important to you?"
Teal'c glared, but said nothing.
Jack hoped, wished, prayed and made promises to whoever watched over SG-1 that Carter had made it safely to the 'gate.
"I have heard rumors of the great Tau'ri." He laughed, seductively stroking Daniel's hair. "You do not appear that great."
Jack knew what was coming, but like the inevitable train wreck, he couldn't turn away. Daniel raised his hand, knocking Phobos' arm away.
Phobos put up his hand, signaling his Jaffa to stand their ground. "You dare to raise a hand to your god?"
"You. Are. A. False. God," Daniel said with a sign of exasperation, as if the snake in front of him was stupid as well as evil.
"Shut up, Daniel," Jack whispered under his breath. "Please, shut up."
Jack didn't get his wish.
Daniel leaned into the Goa'uld's personal space, shoving his face into his. "Bring it on. I'm not afraid of you."
Now? Daniel chose to channel Jack now? What the hell…?
There was no laughter in the white-gold flash of Phobos' eyes. There was only retaliatory anger. Daniel was making him look like a fool. A mere Tau'ri was showing no fear. That was unconscionable and so very wrong in the Goa'uld book of etiquette.
"You will kneel before your god."
The First Prime stepped forward, weapon raised, ready to knock Daniel to his knees.
Daniel laughed and for a second Jack was afraid SG-1's archaeologist had gone off the deep end, until the First Prime stopped in his tracks and gazed first at Daniel then at the Goa'uld.
"I amuse you?" Phobos' black expressive eyebrows floated upwards to meet his perfectly coifed hairline.
Jack exchanged a look of surprise with Teal'c. Daniel one/Goa'uld nothing.
Daniel's usually animated hands were tied behind his back. Without the ability to use them to express himself, Daniel cocked his head at the First Prime. "Are you thinking that by knocking me to my knees…" His chin traveled to encompass Jack and Teal'c. "By using force to knock any of us to our knees means that we worship you? We'll never willingly bow down to you—"
"Silence!" Goa'uld resonance announced he was done playing. Goa'uld force from the ribbon device proved it by slamming Daniel into the far wall.
Teal'c's roar was cut short by the firing of a zat and he fell forward, writhing.
Jack struggled to his feet, only to be brought down by a swinging staff weapon. "You son of a bitch," he spat.
Phobos spun around and pointed the ribbon device at Jack. "The Shol'va will be but a memory if you do not keep silent."
Crap. Stuck between a rock and hard place, Jack had no choice but to keep his lips zipped.
Using his elbow to walk his way up the wall, Daniel stood, swayed, but managed to stay upright. Phobos gloated as he watched the listing archaeologist shuffle over to him, shadowed by his First Prime.
"Back for more?"
"Phobos…" Daniel taunted, shaking out his legs. "Notice I'm not kneeling?"
The Goa'uld bellowed, surprising everyone in the room as he rushed at Daniel, barreling him into the wall.
Jack cringed at the thud Daniel's body made as it impacted the wall.
Daniel's counter-move was hidden from Jack's view by the Goa'uld's flowing robes, but he'd obviously made contact as Phobos hurriedly stepped away from Daniel, bent over at the waist, his hands protectively cupped around his family jewels.
The visual was over in a flash as Phobos healed himself.
To Jack's left, Teal'c grunted, then slowly, but with very little effort, got back up to his knees.
"I am uninjured."
Jack was pretty damn positive that their conversation was being permitted only because the Jaffa breathing down their necks were struck dumb by the performance taking place front and center.
"It would appear that DanielJackson—"
Jack risked a glance at Teal'c. "Has he finally lost his mind?"
Phobos grabbed the staff weapon from the First Prime and aimed it at Daniel's chest.
Jack's mouth went dry and his stomach settled somewhere around his knees.
Daniel's lopsided grin shoved Phobos off the precipice and he used the head of the weapon as a club, slamming it against Daniel's side.
Damn him. Daniel weebled, wobbled, but he didn't fall.
Phobos poked Daniel in the stomach, hard. "This weapon can kill with one shot, but you will not be granted that luxury." Like an overgrown baton twirler, Phobos expertly spun the weapon, crashing it down on Daniel's collar bone.
His knees buckled, but he remained upright.
"I believe that DanielJackson is provoking Phobos."
"DanielJackson is correct," Teal'c shouted at the Jaffa. "Your god is a false one."
"Their god…" Phobos said, posturing in front of Daniel,"… is ordering them to stay their position, while I kill this Tau'ri very slowly. And you, Shol'va, shall have the pleasure of watching. "
"And me?" Jack said. "What about me? I hate being left out."
Phobos was distracted by Jack's interruption and that's all it took. Daniel dropped to the floor and swept the Goa'uld's legs out from underneath him.
Phobos went down. Hard. But he didn't lose his grip on the staff weapon. Daniel struggled to his feet, but they were tangled in the gold fabric of the Goa'uld's cape and he was going nowhere fast, especially without the use of his bound hands.
Jack saw the swinging staff weapon before Daniel. "Daniel. Watch out!"
Daniel heeded Jack's warning and turned, curling into himself, exposing his left side to the bulb end of the weapon, which met Daniel's ribs with a sickening crunch.
Jack knew from experience that had to hurt, but Daniel's only reaction was a grunt of surprise, then nothing but huffs of pain as he pushed against the floor to sit up.
Phobos' flash of anger disappeared as he used the staff weapon to pull himself up. The playground bully smirk was back as he lorded over Daniel's scramble to stand. He tossed the staff weapon back to his First Prime.
Daniel's posture was off, and he visibly flinched as Phobos stepped into his space, pressing the ribbon device against his side.
"I can heal you." There was a seductive purr to the bastard's voice. "With one word, my guards will do my bidding. Healing device. Sarcophagus, perhaps."
Daniel's smile was slow. He shook his head then drew on his linguistic talents, speaking Goa'uld, spitting the words at the enemy.
Jack couldn't understand a word of it, but Phobos blanched. "Teal'c?" he whispered. "What did—"
"I believe what DanielJackson suggested is a physical impossibility."
Shocked, Phobos stared at Daniel, eyes flashing dangerously. "You obviously do not value your own life, Tau'ri. Maybe you value your friends' more." He signaled towards Jack. "Bring him to me."
Jack saw it, Daniel's blink of confusion. The SOB had been so focused on the Goa'uld, he'd forgotten the other members in the room.
Jack was forced to his knees between Daniel and Phobos. Up close, Daniel looked a million times worse. His face was a pallet of colors that would've made Renoir jealous, but underneath the colors, Daniel's face was frighteningly white. Shocky white. Any discussion about forgotten teammates would be addressed at another time. "The one and only, Daniel," Jack replied.
Nervously, Daniel licked his lips. "I, umm…"
"Yeah, I know. We'll talk about it later."
Phobos cleared his throat. "Say your farewells."
"You're going to have to do more than kill me to get Daniel to kneel before you."
Daniel glance flipped over to Jack. "Shutting up would be a good idea."
"Nah, what would be the fun in that?"
"You're such an asshole."
Daniel received a backhand, the sharp-edged fingers of the ribbon device leaving a bloody outline on his lip.
Jack cringed. "Oh, that's gonna scar."
Daniel stretched his tongue to locate the bloody lip. "Make up your mind. Which Tau'ri holds your interest at the moment?" Daniel looked down at Jack and snorted. "The great Phobos, god of terror and torture, can't multi-task."
Jack was all for playing 'bait the Goa'uld' but Daniel was taking it a step too far. His words were akin to poking and prodding, using language as a weapon to cut into the Goa'uld.
Phobos reached out and grabbed a handful of Daniel's hair, bending his neck, dragging Daniel towards him. Hauling him upright as Daniel tripped over Jack. It didn't matter. Daniel still kept vomiting up words, a broken record made up of a mixture of Goa'uld and English, spoken in short, clipped sentences. On this Goa'uld-inhabited world, Daniel was going for the gold, but the way this was going down, his medal was going to be awarded posthumously.
The gem in the center of the ribbon device began to glow, increasing in intensity, seemingly in direct conjunction with Phobos' anger.
The building shook three times in quick succession, and Jack fell forward, his balance compromised by his bound hands. Another explosion, and Jack knew. C-4. The Calvary had arrived. The Jaffa scattered, circling around Phobos. One more explosion and this one did what the Goa'uld hadn't been able to do. Daniel fell to his knees, narrowly missing Jack.
A familiar sound and the rings dropped, encircling the Goa'uld and his followers, and they disappeared just as Carter and SGs-2 and -3 blew out the doors and entered the room, weapons firing.
Jack was beyond pissed and his pissiness built incrementally as he pounded his way to the locker room. SGC personnel stepped out of his way, more out of fear than respect, plastering themselves to the wall until Jack moved beyond them.
The locker room door loomed. Jack stopped, smoothed down his shirt, squared his shoulders and entered. Slowly, he assessed the situation. Daniel was here, that he knew. That intel had been supplied by Carter, and from the sound of the lone shower, he was here all by himself. Good.
Daniel never even picked up on Jack's presence as he walked into the anteroom, head down, towel slung low on his hips. Maybe walk was too optimistic a word, shuffle would be more apropos, Jack observed. And for the second time today, his anger at both the situation and at Daniel and Fraiser, bubbled close to the surface.
Diagnosis—bruises from being knocked around. Two cracked ribs. A facial scratch or two. Treatment, in the world according to Fraiser: Antibiotics, painkillers and four days' leave. Jack had disagreed with Fraiser's diagnosis and he had been vocal in his objection to her allowing Daniel to depart the infirmary and the base.
Daniel used his hands to walk down his locker, slowly lowering his butt to the wooden bench.
"Hurts like a sonofabitch, doesn't it?"
Daniel jumped, swiveled to face Jack, the raw expression of pain sliding from his face so fast, that Jack wondered if he'd imagined it.
"Not been one of my better days." Daniel grunted, slowly returning to face his locker.
"Try this, unless you're comfortable enough to walk through the halls in nothing but a towel." Jack opened Daniel's locker, extending his arm in what he believed to be a wonderful rendition of Vanna White.
Daniel gazed at the contents, then blinked.
"Problem?" Jack reached around the opened locker door and grabbed Daniel's shirt off the hook. He shook his head, examined it then tossed the shirt onto Daniel's lap. "Plaid?"
Daniel dropped his hands onto the shirt. "Blue plaid," he clarified. "According to Sam, this particular shade of blue—"
"Carter did not say that it matches your eyes."
Ten minutes later and Jack was still leaning against the lockers, Daniel had donned the shirt and was struggling to fit the buttons in the holes.
"On principle, Fraiser shouldn't have let you leave."
Daniel squinted as his fingers worked through the problem. "Whose principle? Yours?"
Jack stood in front of the locker and began to toss clothes onto the bench next to Daniel. "Go ahead." He pointed to the items. "Get dressed and I'll drive you home." Jack checked his watch. "Don't worry, I'm not in any hurry."
"Don't bother, an airman will drive me home."
Jack shifted. "No. I'm going to drive you home."
"You're bruised, bandaged, and bloody. You have painkillers and won the grand prize of four days' downtime. Not only aren't you…" Jack made air quotes, "fine, but you're incapable of dressing yourself."
"It'll just take me a bit longer…"
"…until your next birthday."
"No one's asking you to wait."
"It's in my job description."
"Driving me home?"
"Yup. Paragraph five, subparagraph 6: 'taking care of stubborn, hell bent on getting themselves killed archaeologists'."
"I wasn't, as you say, hell bent on getting myself killed."
Jack snorted, reached into Daniel's locker, retrieved his shoes and dropped them on the pile of clothes next to him. "If the shoe fits, wear it."
"I'm glad you think this is funny."
"No, Jack, it's not funny. I'm tired. I hurt. I'm wearing only a towel and a shirt and I'm cold. I want to go home, but at the moment I'm stuck in the locker room with a commanding officer who's so busy beating around the bush, I'm dizzy." Daniel picked up his shoes, then dropped them to the floor. "Just get to the point."
"You want me to get to the point?"
"Yeah, didn't I just say that?"
"I'm angry, Daniel."
"I know," Daniel said with a deep sigh. "Seems that there's a Goa'uld around every corner just lying in wait for SG-1 to step through the 'gate."
Jack wondered how such an incredibly intelligent person could be so incredibly thick and stupid. "While the Goa'uld are far from my favorite people, at this moment it's you I'm angry at."
"Yes, Daniel. I'm angry at you." He repeated it slowly, spacing the words apart.
"Me? What the hell did I—"
"You sonofabitch." A knee jerk reaction to hit something - Jack chose the least of all evils and Daniel's locker door, instead of Daniel's face, bore the brunt of his anger.
"No!" Jack shouted, Daniel's calmness fueling his anger.
"Want to hit me? Would that help?"
Boy, did he. "All I could think of today when you and Phoebe were doing your little performance was that you were going to get yourself killed and then it would be my job to tell Sha're, when SG-1 found her with a different archaeologist in your place, was that she was a widow."
When Daniel was reduced to monosyllabic speech, Jack knew he'd hit a home run.
Daniel blanched, and his eyes widened in shock. "I didn't even think…"
Jack pushed aside the clothes and sat. "I know." Too bruised to even venture where he could touch without pain, Jack just pressed his knee to Daniel's. "Therein lies the problem. "You didn't think, you got caught up in the heat of the moment. Your anger clouded every judgment, making you forget there are people out there who care."
"Sha're," Daniel sighed.
"And your team. Carter. Teal'c…"
"Sam wasn't there."
"Don't worry," Jack said with a gentle shove to Daniel's shoulder. "Teal'c will make sure to fill her in on every sorry tidbit. She worried by proxy."
Daniel gave a slight shudder. "She's going to yell."
"Reeeeallly? Carter? Yell? At you?"
Daniel grimaced at a memory Jack certainly wasn't privy to. "Wanna share?" Jack tossed Daniel's shoes to the floor, then moved the clothes from the bench to Daniel's lap.
"No! Suffice it to say, she plies me with good food and drink, then goes in for the kill. Leaves my ears ringing for days. Teal'c just invites me into kelno'reem then gives me that 'oh I've disappointed him' look. I hate that."
Jack had never received the meditation invitation, but he certainly was familiar with Teal'c's particular brand of reprimand. "Been there. Done that one, Daniel. You have my sympathy."
"No one's ever mentioned Sha're before."
"As your commanding officer, it's my responsibility to remind you of cause and effect. To see the big picture. And, as your friend, it's my responsibility to make sure you're aware of how much—"
"Thank you," Daniel said softly. "For reminding me…" He stopped and shrugged.
"Of what's important?"
"I'm not going to make you promise that it won't happen again should the opportunity present itself, 'cause those damn Goa'uld are just so…" Jack growled. "But I'm asking, before you go head to head with one or a whole battalion of Jaffa…"
"To stop and think?"
"No," Jack said. "To make sure you're armed with a zat." Jack stood. "Come on, get dressed. Let's gather the troops. Nothing like a few pizzas and beer to go along with bruises."
The hair was shorter. The build was broader. The Goa'uld was different. The year was different. Sha're was long dead. The dynamics of SG-1 had shifted, except that the scenario playing out in front of Jack and Teal'c invoked a memory that Jack had buried under an abundance of years and missions.
Daniel was bruised, battered, but still refused to kneel before the Goa'uld. Jack had been on the receiving end of a backhand more than once. Teal'c had been gifted with a zat blast. This time, the Goa'uld managed to bring Daniel to his knees with the ribbon device before Carter saved the day.
There was no pizza and beer this evening. No heart to heart talk in the locker room. No yelling Carter. No reprimanding Teal'c. No bonding. Nothing.
Jack showered, changed into civvies, then like every good parent he checked to make sure his kids were all accounted for. Teal'c was in his quarters, lighting his candles, preparing for meditation. He gazed at Jack, his brow knitted together in confusion. He responded to his presence with a tight, unfriendly nod. "DanielJackson did not wish to join me in kelno'reem."
It wasn't Daniel who Teal'c was upset with. Jack tapped his forehead. "I believe an airman drove our intrepid archaeologist with his ribbon-induced headache home."
"You are unsure?"
Jack pointed upward. "Going to check on my way out."
"So you are unsure of DanielJackson's location?"
"He's not in his office, the infirmary, commissary or in Carter's lab. He's not here with you. So yeah, I'm positive he's home. Probably sleeping the good drug sleep."
Teal'c's bow was dismissive and Jack left without a goodbye.
He caught up with Carter by the elevator. "Nice save today, Major."
"Thank you, sir, but I disagree." She cleared her throat, threw him a quick glance, then turned her gaze on the closed elevator doors. "A nice save would've been before Daniel had the ribbon device plastered to his forehead."
"Well, yeah," Jack stammered. "That goes without saying. What I meant was any day SG-1 takes down a Goa'uld and we all walk away from the situation is a good day."
"If you say so, sir."
They rode the elevator upward in silence. They signed out without speaking, Jack searching and finding Daniel's departing signature and time. With all his chicks accounted for, Jack and Carter parted ways with a nod and wave.
The burrito and beer had tasted better going down than it did repeating on him as he lay in bed. He'd appeased his hunger from his favorite place, opting to bring it home and play catch up on missed sports in the comfort of his well-worn recliner.
Long after the burrito and beer had been eaten, Jack began to drift. Experience had taught him he was too old to fall asleep in this position so he'd dragged his sorry ass to bed, only to find that once horizontal he couldn't sleep. Indigestion set in about an hour later and neither the Tums nor the recently taken Rolaids provided an iota of relief for his sour stomach.
The fact that today's mission kept replaying in his mind wasn't helping. His anger added fuel to his already churning stomach. Once again, Daniel had stepped up, placed himself in unnecessary danger against Jack's previous order… request… whatever the hell it had been all those years ago.
Jack flipped onto his back. All those years ago. Scary thing was he'd been married to SG-1 almost as long as he'd been married to Sara… or the length of Charlie's life, give or take a few precious years.
In the darkness, realization flowed over Jack with the tact of a tsunami hitting land. It wasn't Daniel he was angry at. He was angry at himself. For lessons not learned. He'd lost so many people in his life without saying goodbye. Without acknowledging what they meant to him. Not this time.
"Damn it." Jack threw back the covers and stuffed his feet into the shoes by the side of his bed. Digging through the pile of clean clothes in a basket by his bed, he dug out a sweatshirt and slipped it on. Keys, wallet, cell phone, and Jack was ready to settle this once and for all. Never checking the time, he peeled out of the driveway, leaving a strip of rubber in his wake.
Halfway to Daniel's loft, Jack called him. The first call went to the machine, and Jack just hit redial. The second call also went to the machine, this time Jack's message was short and to the point. "I'm not calling you again. Just know when I get there, your door better be unlocked with you standing on the other side."
For good measure, Jack dialed his number one more time. Third time was the charm. Daniel answered with a groan.
"Good, you're up. Obviously you—"
"If you still have it, use your key. If not, turn around and go home. I'm not—"
"If you're making conversation—you're awake." Jack drew a breath and forced his voice to soften. "…And I need to talk to you."
The door to the loft opened with just a turn of the knob and Jack entered the darkened room, shutting the door behind him. He blinked into the inky blackness. "What the—Daniel, it's darker than—Shit!" Jack banged his knee on a wall he didn't remember being that close.
A light by the couch flicked on, bathing the room in long shadows.
Crap. Daniel looked horrific. His eyes were narrowed again the glare of the meager light and his bruises were just beginning to blossom. One with the couch, settled in the corner, a blanket tossed over his legs, Daniel was as grey under the bruises as his sweats.
"Talk. You said you needed to talk."
One minute Jack was by the door, the next he was standing in front of Daniel, heart pounding and palms so sweaty he rivaled a hormonal teenager.
Daniel shielded his eyes and gazed up. "Jack? Are you…"
The position was awkward, the knee Jack had banged was bent at an uncomfortable angle, but he didn't care. He tried to be as gentle as possible, but years of pent up denial was hard to control.
As Jack lips captured Daniel's, there was a grunt of surprise and reluctantly, he backed off, more than a little shocked when Daniel fisted his sweatshirt and tugged him right back into that uncomfortable, awkward position on the couch.
Daniel's head was bent backward, resting on the cushions of the couch. Jack adjusted the blanket around his legs, then leaned over him and turned off the light. "Thanks," Daniel whispered.
Nearly blind in the darkness, Jack's touch was tentative as his fingers did a slow journey from Daniel's jaw line to settle on his temple.
Daniel grabbed Jack's hand and gently glided it down.
"Sorry." Jack intertwined his fingers with Daniel's too warm ones. "I sorta forgot you had a bad day."
His chuckle ended in a soft "ow" and his fingers tightened around Jack's. "Bad day… maybe not so bad now."
Jack smiled into the darkness. "Really?"
"Really, Jack. In case you noticed, I didn't object." Daniel settled into the couch, his head falling against Jack's shoulder. "So you obviously wanted to speak to me about this epiphany?"
"The one that occurred between the time we left for the mission and now."
Jack cleared his throat, gazing everywhere but at Daniel. "Yeah, that. Can't we just say that I was an asshole?"
"Good start," Daniel sighed.
Daniel yawned. "Talk fast before your audience falls asleep."
"It can wait until tomorrow."
"No. You woke me up. Came into my house. And then you kissed me after spending the last year barely tolerating me. I think based on those reasons, I deserve an answer. Now."
"You sound exhausted. You feel like you have a fever—"
"I have a roaring headache. I have the sleepies from the ribbon device and I may just test how much you love me by having you clean up my vomit."
"I love you?"
Jack stuttered. Stammered. And blushed. "Yeah, I guess I do."
"And you were trying to push me away and today, when the Goa'uld came damn close to wiping the floor with me you woke up and smelled the proverbial roses. Realized that the Goa'uld was going to do what you'd been trying to do for the past twelve months, except that it would've been permanent."
Jack remained silent.
"So, Jack, did I just take the words out of your mouth?"
"You're a linguist, it's allowed." Jack ran his thumb over Daniel's hand. "And you're right. One hundred percent correct. Hitting the nail on the head. Bull's eye."
"I love you too, Jack."
"This is kinda cool, you know. Me. You."
"Not the right word?"
"It's fine. Perfect actually. No one else in this world or any other world, I'd rather be cool with."
Jack smiled. "So me and you. Bed?"
"Sleep, yeah. Anything else…"
"No, not tonight, honey, I've a headache."
This story is from a zine called You'll be alright, a zine which was a labour of love, put together by devra and I for our wonderful Jmas last year.
If you want to see more of Jmas' ezines, here's her link:
And Darcy made a vid - you may want to check it out on her site here called Stand - by Rascal Flatts
to contact devra
Since 10 August 2008