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09 February 2016 @ 10:53 pm
Fic: The Price of Victory  
The Price of Victory
Rating: Teen and Up
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Characters: Jack, Daniel (or pre Jack/Daniel)
Summary: Jack and Daniel talk after the events of The Shroud.
Word Count: ~1250
Notes:
1. A very, very (VERY) long time ago, I promised a birthday fic to [personal profile] eilidh17, who prompted: Jack, Daniel, The Shroud. My apologies that it took so long.
2. This is a stand-alone piece, but in my personal headcanon, I consider it a prequel background  of sorts to my fic, The Whole Story.


Carolyn stood beside Daniel’s infirmary bed, nodding as she reviewed his chart. Then she put it down and smiled at him. "So, Dr. Jackson, you are doing well enough that I am actually going to get to head home for the night."

Daniel just nodded. As far as he was concerned, she could have gone home last night as well; he was fine, all he really needed was some rest. Really, it had just been a (very) brief fainting episode during the Odyssey’s trip back to Earth. Hardly worth mentioning to Daniel’s way of thinking, so he hadn’t. The six new Ori ships in the galaxy certainly deserved more attention.

But then Jack had gone and opened his big mouth during the debrief. And, with Sam helpfully pointing out that Daniel's entire cellular structure had undergone massive changes twice in a matter of months, Carolyn had opted for an abundance of caution and had decreed a 48-hour observation period for Daniel, with her on-base for the first 24.

Not to mention, Daniel thought wryly, that someone, somewhere, was probably waiting to make sure he wasn't going to go dark side.

"Dr. Carmichael is the physician on duty tonight. He's just finishing up SG-8's pre-mission physicals, and then I'm sure he'll be in to check on you."

"Thank you, Doctor," Daniel said with his practiced genuine smile. "Go get some rest. I'm sure I'll be fine."

She rested a hand on his shoulder. "I just want to say that we're all really glad you're back."

Daniel kept the smile in place until she was gone, before letting it slip away.

*

Carmichael came and went, leaving Daniel alone with the the thoughts racing through his mind. It was too quiet inside his head; Merlin's voice was silent, gone. And with his departure, so went the calm surety of their actions, as Daniel replayed them over and over.

He startled a bit as someone slid into the chair beside the bed.

"Jack?" he asked.

"Correct!” Jack grinned. “Good to see there's no significant brain damage.”

"What are you doing here?"

Jack pursed his lips and stared at him. "Then again, I could be wrong," he responded slowly. "What am I doing here? Let's see, my best friend's laid up in the infirmary after being missing for weeks... Where else would I be?" he answered, grabbing the cookie from the dinner tray Daniel had abandoned earlier.

Daniel sniped as he pushed the tray closer to Jack, "I don't know. How about Washington? Homeworld Security? Dealing with the mess my little plan left us with in the form of six additions to the Ori fleet in this galaxy?"

Jack slouched back in his chair with a hard look at Daniel. Daniel glared back stubbornly.

"We're working on it." The calm in Jack's voice had Daniel fisting a handful of blanket.

"Do we know where they're headed yet?"

"It's being handled, Daniel. You don't need to worry about it right now."

It was standard infirmary protocol to not ‘upset’ patients with bad news or work-related problems; a protocol every member of SG-1 had always taken exception to. That Jack was soft-selling him now was even more upsetting than any of the Ori-related scenarios his brain could cook up. He took a deep breath and stared at his hands as he made himself unclench his fists.

"It's not your fault, you know," Jack said casually.

Daniel scoffed and rolled his eyes.

Jack stared at him until Daniel looked him in the eye once more.

"It really isn't. I signed off on the plan. Hell, even the IOA was on board with it. Mostly." Jack shrugged. "Point is, it was the best plan we had at the time."

Daniel shook his head with a huff. "You realize that I was going to make it happen, whether or not you agreed, right?"

"Moot point, Daniel." Jack shifted a bit, his eyes darted around the room, before returning to Daniel. "And anyway, I'd say that getting rid of the Ori was worth it, wouldn't you?"

"We don't even know for sure that we did," Daniel protested. "And the cost... How many worlds are being threatened by those new Priors? I just can't help thinking it's a Pyrrhic victory."

Jack shook his head. "Can't agree with you there, Daniel. It'll be tough, but..."

Daniel closed his eyes as Jack talked. He knew everything Jack was saying; he'd even said a lot of it before -- to himself, to others. Decisions in wartime were made with a different measuring stick. But that didn't mean any of it was right. That didn't mean that he could trust that it was the right plan. The Ancients hadn't had the human race's well-being as their primary agenda for a thousand years. And weeks of close quarters with Merlin inside his brain had proven that he was just as egotistical as the rest of them. Getting rid of the Ori was worth any price. Daniel just didn’t know if he or Merlin had ultimately made that call.

Jack finished up with the good soldier speech, and leaned forward, his voice lower and closer when he spoke. "So, you wanna tell me what's wrong?"

Daniel didn't open his eyes, didn't want to see the concern on Jack's face. "What do you mean?"

"You haven't tried once to get me to help spring you out of here. I've seen you try to return to duty sooner after major surgery."

"I'm tired, Jack," he shrugged.

There was a pause. Then, "I know."

He opened his eyes briefly, just enough to verify that Jack knew damn well that he wasn't talking about the physical exhaustion, even though he had reached an age where he felt it more acutely with each passing year. No, this was the 'everything else' part of the job -- swapping consciousnesses, watching friends suffer, deciding the fate of multiple galaxies. Daniel didn't know how many more of these he could go through, and still bounce back.

He waited to see if Jack was going to push the issue. All it would take was one word from General O’Neill, and Daniel would be off gate travel. Deep down, there was a part of him that wanted Jack to push, to take the decision out of Daniel’s hands. And he knew that if Jack did, he would end up hating them both for it.

Because as much as Daniel might not want to go back out there, he was still responsible. They were in a war that he had started, however inadvertently. People were dying, being subjugated, even more now than a week ago. And they needed him out there, finding a solution, creating a path to peace.

But Jack didn’t push, didn’t follow up — at least, not verbally. The resigned look in his eyes was enough. Daniel looked away, but the feeling of disappointment lingered.

Jack sighed and stood up to leave. “I’ll be around for a couple of days. Maybe we can go grab a steak or something when Lam springs you.”

And there it was: a couple of days for Daniel to change his mind and pull himself from duty, or let Jack fight the battle for him. A couple of days they both knew weren’t necessary.

The decision was made. This time.

Daniel wearily laid back against the pillows after Jack left, the silence again echoing through his brain. Next time, he thought, all bets are off.


This entry was originally posted at http://magickmoons.dreamwidth.org/41393.html.