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02 August 2015 @ 08:45 pm
Fic: The Fallow Time  
The Fallow Time
Rating: Teen and Up
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Jack/Daniel
Summary: After hosting the personalities of the Stromos crew, Daniel just want some peace and quiet.
Word Count: ~3300
Note 1: tag to Lifeboat (7.06)
Note 2: written for [personal profile] hyperfocused  in JD Ficathon XII

Daniel stopped abruptly when he saw Jack waiting in the hallway outside the infirmary, leaning against the wall, legs crossed, arms folded across his chest. He was still rebuilding his catalog of Jack's mannerisms, but he knew this one: the (deceptively) casual colonel.

“Jack,” Daniel sighed wearily, bracing himself. He felt emotionally battered, physically exhausted, and just wanted to go home and go to bed, not stand in the middle of the SGC and go ten rounds with his team leader? -- his friend? A month since he'd returned and almost all the pieces of his life had fallen into place, but not Jack. 'Jack' was a jumble of contradictory feelings, with too few related concrete memories to frame them. It was too much to think about on a good day, and this definitely did not count as a good day.

He took another deep breath and forced himself to speak. “I’ve had a dozen voices in my head for, you know, too long already and I’m not in the... I’m sorry, but I’m just not in the mood for your particular brand of amateur psychology.”

“Okay then, how about beer and basketball?” Jack pushed off the wall and fell into step as Daniel headed down the hallway.

“A dozen voices, Jack.” He precisely enunciated each word.

“Beer and silence?” Jack offered.

“I can get that at my place.”

“Yeah, but you see, you’re not going to your place.”

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and took a deep breath before replying. He was feeling significantly less than usually tolerant of Jack’s unique way of dishing out information. “Why not?”

“Come on, Daniel, we both know that the only reason you were sprung from Fraiser’s clutches so soon is because SG-7 is on their way back after a hands-on lesson in what not to do to avoid offworld food poisoning. Figuring you’d rather have some peace and quiet than ... that, she’s released you. Provided you don’t stay alone.”

“And why didn’t she tell me this?” Daniel asked suspiciously.

“You think I’m making it up? Fraiser elected that I get to have the argument, since she needs to work on getting the infirmary ready for said food poisoning victims.”

Daniel was too tired to argue, and the headache from hell was too pronounced, so he just shrugged and gestured for Jack to lead the way.

They stopped by Daniel's temporary quarters to grab an overnight bag, and headed out to Jack's truck. The ride to Jack’s house didn't take too long. Jack stayed quiet, except for asking if Daniel wanted to stop for take-out on the way. Daniel declined. He spent the trip trying to dredge up memories of Jack’s house, He knew he had been there, frequently it seemed, before his Ascension, but he couldn’t visualize it. He leaned his head against the headrest and closed his eyes. It occurred to him that he hadn’t even questioned that they’d be staying at Jack’s tonight.


Jack followed Daniel into the house, watching silently as Daniel stood still for a beat before tentatively heading toward the sunken living room. He stood at the top of the steps, surveying the room. He started and half-turned when Jack casually said, “Make yourself at home. Guest room's thataway," he offered, pointing down the hall. "If you want anything, need anything, feel free to help yourself.”

The uncertain look on Daniel’s face reminded Jack that he hadn’t actually been here since he’d descended. “Or just ask. Okay?” Daniel nodded slowly, winding his arms tightly around himself. A dull ache spread through Jack's chest; it had been forever since he had seen that gesture here. He forced himself to stop staring at Daniel. “Okay, well, I’ll be right back.”

He headed back to his bedroom and took a few minutes to just breathe. Getting all wound up because Daniel hadn't remembered everything the moment he stepped through the door wasn't going to do either of them any good. He took his time changing his clothes, looked longingly at the bed as he started to feel the effects of the last few days of headaches and worry and political machinations. He shook it off; he could rest later, but Daniel needed someone now, whether he knew it or not. Jack grabbed the book off his bedside table to bring back out to the living room, determined to honor Daniel’s wishes for some peace and quiet.

Daniel was moving around in the guest room when he passed by. Jack paused outside the partially closed door, nearly overwhelmed by the urge to check in like he used to do without a second thought. But nothing was like it used to be since Daniel had returned from his Ascension. Still, he hadn’t anticipated how hard it would be to have Daniel here, like this: separate beds, separate rooms, separate lives. He stepped back from the doorway and continued down the hall. making enough noise that Daniel would know he'd gone back to the living areas of the house. Most of Daniel’s memories had returned at this point, so their relationship was either one of the few memories that hadn’t returned, or Daniel wanted to pretend they hadn't. Jack wasn't sure which possibility hurt more.

He grabbed a beer from the fridge, taking it and the battered paperback into the living room where he settled on the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table. He opened the book, tucked the bookmark toward the back, and stared at the page blankly, listening, both looking forward to and dreading the sound of Daniel's footsteps. Several minutes passed, and Daniel didn’t reappear. The guy had to be exhausted; maybe he’d just hit the sack. Jack sighed, did not get up to go check on him, and tried to actually focus on the book in his hands.

It was some time later that Daniel appeared, base uniform discarded for a pair of navy blue sweatpants and a long-sleeved tee that had seen better days. He gestured loosely at the empty end of the couch, and Jack nodded. He tried to return his attention to the book, but was entirely too aware of Daniel as he settled himself just a foot away, pulling his legs up onto the cushions and curling into the corner -- not quite hiding, but not quite there either.

He watched over the edge of his book as Daniel stared into space, cycling through almost as many expressions as it had in the isolation room, almost none of them pleasant. Jack felt a flash of the same powerlessness he had felt earlier, unable to do anything to help, unwilling to leave Daniel to face it alone. So he had sat in the observation booth and watched all those different personalities wearing Daniel's face, watched as Martice twisted Daniel's features into such anger and disdain, watched Keenin's fear and loneliness through Daniel's eyes.

Jack had been confident that Daniel could handle it all, until the kid had showed up. It had taken all of Jack's resolve to just sit there, watching the kid's misery emanating through Daniel's face and body, and recalling conversations in the deep of night, holding Daniel while he spoke of losing his parents, being forcibly pulled away from the shattered exhibit when all he had wanted was just to stay with them.

Daniel had been pretty tightlipped as to how much he actually remembered of his experience with the souls from the Stromos, shrugging off the concerns about the mental impact with his patented, comforting 'I'm fine.' Fraiser had theorized hopefully that with Daniel's core personality suppressed most of the time, he probably had very little awareness of what the others had said or thought. Watching the sadness and pain now shadowing Daniel's features as he finally allowed himself to process it, Jack would have to disagree with her.

Daniel shifted, and Jack dropped his eyes back to the book. He skimmed the words, memorized after countless re-reading, as Daniel's eyes danced restlessly around the room, focusing on some things for a while, barely touching others.

People thought Daniel was always talking. They joked that he kept fish just so it wouldn't seem like he was talking to himself. But Jack knew that there were times when he fell silent, when processing whatever had happened took all his brain power, at a level beyond words. He knew how much it frustrated Daniel, and how necessary it was. It had taken some time, but Jack had learned how to help, how to be a silent, supportive presence as Daniel worked through these things. When to push Daniel to talk and when to stay silent, how a light touch to an arm or a leg could ground him when it started to be too much, how music often soothed the fractured tendrils of thought and brought the crucial elements to the forefront.

Daniel needed to talk, needed to be pulled out of his head for a while. But given Daniel's absence of memories of them, he wouldn't respond well if Jack started poking at those mental wounds. Touch was out as well, for the same reasons. But music just might work.

Jack put the book down on the couch beside him, gave Daniel a quick smile as he stood and walked over to the stereo. He searched through the stack of CDs, finding the one he was looking for toward the bottom, as he hadn't listened to it for over a year. He dropped the CD into the player and waited for the first notes of the Goldberg Variations to play through the speakers before he turned to find Daniel holding the book in one hand and the wooden bookmark in the other. His thumb was softly stroking the rounded top of the bookmark, tracing one of the legs of the Sa down to where it joined the thin slat before starting again at the top, as he stared at the cover of the book.

“This is mine," he said quietly.

Jack froze momentarily, then slowly moved back to the couch and sat down. It was -- had been -- Daniel's book, a strange historical thriller that Jack never really saw the allure of. He had come home on that day after Kelowna, numb, emotions locked tight behind walls so high and so strong that he wasn't sure they'd ever come down. He'd done his duty, checked in on Carter, on Teal'c, wandered by some public areas of the base and accepted people's condolences, sympathized with their shock and grief, assuring them by action that while Daniel Jackson may be gone, SG-1 was still strong and would continue.

The walls had held until he reached his bedroom, flipped on the light, and saw the book laying on the bed, and it all came rushing in. He remembered Daniel keeping his place with a finger as he kissed Jack good night that last night, which had been the first night since things had gone sour with Reese. He remembered watching from the bedroom doorway the next morning as Daniel held the book loosely, deciding whether to take it with him or not, willing Daniel to leave the book, give him a sign that Daniel intended to come back, that the night before hadn't been goodbye. The moment had dragged on too long, and Jack had barked at him to get a move on. Daniel had smiled softly and held Jack's eyes as he dropped the book on the bed.

Only he hadn't come back. The book had migrated to Jack's night stand and stayed there, being read and re-read repeatedly over the long, aching months when Daniel was gone.

"You made this for me," Daniel murmured, surprised, holding up the bookmark. "We were at the cabin, you'd made all the furniture there... Said it was your 'winter hobby'." He huffed a laugh, eyes crinkling as he smiled down at the piece of wood. "I had always wondered what the hell you found to do up there in the cold weather."

Jack nodded. It had been the first time he'd taken Daniel up to Minnesota. He had been so entranced by Jack's woodworking that Jack had wanted to give him something to keep with him. With the frequency that Daniel moved, furniture was out of the question, so Jack had fashioned the bookmark one afternoon out of some scrap wood, hand-shaping the Sa symbol into the top, the same symbol Daniel's parents had used when he was a child to help ward away his nightmares. There were some other things too -- bookends, picture frames -- packed away in the boxes of Daniel's possessions waiting for him to find an off-base residence.

Jack held himself still while Daniel stared at the items in front of him, without really seeing them. He breathed deeply, trying to keep himself from leaning forward and touching Daniel, explaining, pleading, pushing off the couch and pacing, or just leaving, going to run, going to drive, going to get away.

Finally, Daniel looked back up at Jack after a minute, his eyes wide with questions. "Jack? Am I right? Were we..."

Jack waited, as Daniel searched for the word that would say so much, reflecting not just their past, but any potential future. The moment dragged on, as Daniel's lips framed silent sounds, the only clue to the thoughts ricocheting through his brain.

"We were lovers," Daniel stated quietly. His voice gave nothing away, and his eyes glued to Jack's watching for his reaction.

The flood of relief that Jack felt was almost painful in its intensity, and he felt it flash raw and naked across his face for a split second before he could pull it back. He saw Daniel see it, saw Daniel ponder the implications. He nodded, even though it was obvious that Daniel didn't need an explicit confirmation; Jack's expression had told him everything he needed to know.

Or almost everything, Jack amended to himself ruefully, as Daniel quirked his head slightly and asked, "So why didn't you tell me? Didn't you think I deserved to know? Would want to know?"

Jack couldn't respond. He had no idea what Daniel had remembered, what context their relationship had within his mind; honestly, even if he did, Jack still would have had no idea what to say.

Daniel narrowed his eyes, suspicious of Jack's hesitation. "Or maybe you thought I had remembered and, what? I didn't want to? I was just pretending it never happened?"

"Yes," Jack's voice was thick, forced, putting himself into the conversation before Daniel finished it on his own. "Everything you just said, I've thought about. God, back then, it was always you who pushed things, said things -- when it came to us anyway -- and I really didn't know if you'd even want to know. If I had the right to push that at you before you were ready."

Daniel gave a hard, short laugh. "Why the hell wouldn't I want to know?"

Jack winced, the reasons that had become more and more of a sticking point with them in the months before the Reese disaster spilling out rapid-fire toward his beer bottle, unfortunately empty by now.
"I don't know. You wanted a fresh start, maybe? Maybe you didn't want the stress of hiding in the DADT closet with me? Or didn't want to come home every night and try to forget that our jobs put us on the opposite sides of almost every issue? I was so tired, Daniel, tired of fighting everything outside of us, and then, we were the ones fighting..."

He would have gone on speaking -- and God, Daniel still possessed the singular ability to find the right button to push to open the floodgates -- but he stopped short when Daniel put everything down and rested his hand on Jack's thigh.

Jack raised his head to find Daniel looking pained, lost, shaking his head. "It wasn't you, Jack. The reasons I left had nothing to do with us."

Daniel searched Jack's eyes, willing him to believe, fighting all the nights Jack had lain awake with this new layer of regret and self-recrimination.

Slowly, he covered Daniel's hand with his own, eyes closing in relief at the feel of warm flesh beneath his palm. Daniel turned his hand and entwined their fingers, as he sagged back against the couch, tilted slightly toward Jack, sighing tiredly.

Jack squeezed Daniel's hand briefly, then stood up. "Don't go anywhere," he said as he slid past Daniel, smiling at Daniel's slight hum of acknowledgment.

Jack came back with a cup of ginger tea. Daniel opened his eyes as the steam carried the aroma throughout the room and smiled, eagerly leaning forward to catch the scent, cupping his hands around the mug. He sighed blissfully as he took a small sip. Jack sat next to and watched his face, his body slowly relax. Jack didn't know what they put in this blend, but it was guaranteed to have the same effect on Daniel almost every time.

"I can't believe it's still good after all this time," Daniel murmured, then shook his head. "I can't believe you kept it. You hate this stuff."

Jack shrugged, unwilling to get into the fact that this was the fourth package he had picked up from the little New-Age health food place since Daniel's Ascension, unwilling to tell Daniel how many sleepless nights had found him brewing this tea, just to have the scent remind him of Daniel, sitting at the dining table until the mug went cold or dawn lit the sky.

They sat quietly while Daniel sipped his tea, staring at nothing. "So, what now?" he asked.

Jack shrugged. "I'm thinking we take it slow." Daniel had had all an hour with his memories of their relationship, and as certain as he claimed to be that their problems hadn't driven his decision to ascend, Jack still wanted to make sure that Daniel was fully on board with everything before moving forward.

"Oh good." Daniel sighed in relief.

Jack smirked. "Way to make a guy feel special."

"Oh not... I mean theoretically, I really, really -- really -- want to," he chuckled, and the heat in his eyes when he glanced at Jack was unmistakable. "But after what happened today..." He looked over at Jack, fatigue and confusion pulling at his features.

"It was," he began. "I could hear them, not all the time, but enough. They were scared, and they were confused. Lonely. I could feel their desperation, but it was my adrenaline pushing through my system, my heart pounding, my voice screaming. And I couldn't do a damn thing."

Jack reached out and slipped an arm around Daniel's shoulders, pulling him close. Daniel fought him, tense and angry, until with a resigned sigh he leaned into Jack, rested his head on Jack's shoulder, and the dam broke.

Daniel talked without looking at Jack, speaking in fits and spurts, emotions spilling out unguarded: anger and guilt and horrible choking sadness.

The words gave out as dawn started to stretch across the sky, and wired fatigue gave way to bone-deep exhaustion. Jack urged Daniel onto his feet and down the hallway. Without a word, Daniel passed by the guest bedroom, threw himself into Jack's bed, asleep almost before he hit the pillow.

Jack pulled the curtains tight and turned out the lights before he slipped into bed. As he settled, Daniel sleepily burrowed tight against his side, slipping an arm across Jack's chest, resting one leg on top of Jack's thigh. His breath was slow and warm and real against Jack's neck.

Jack leaned his cheek against Daniel's head, falling into his own sleep with a smile.

This entry was originally posted at http://magickmoons.dreamwidth.org/40727.html.