In the End
SEASON/SPOILERS: Future time.
They looked good together, Jack thought, tipping his beer and pretending not to notice that Sam was watching him watch them. He finished half the bottle, and then drifted outside, where he wouldn’t have to see the way their shoulders touched, the way Daniel’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he tried not to smile…the way their comfort level with each other shrieked at him that he’d been a fool for as long as he’d known Daniel Jackson.
He went up to his deck and fiddled with his telescope for a while and wondered if he’d die now. He nearly did, when he heard Daniel’s soft voice:
“Jack, I’m sorry.”
Without looking, he said,
A couple of heartbeats or maybe centuries later, the response came:
“Sorry it couldn’t have been us.”
Jack literally could not speak. He shrugged. Without realizing he was about to do so, he said,
“I’m too messed up for you, Danny. He’s a grown up, like you.”
“Jack, you…brought him to the mountain for me, didn’t you?”
A sarcastic huff later, Jack said,
“Right. The fact that he’s probably a better soldier than I ever was; that I trust him with your six; that…” But his voice cracked, and he stubbornly kept his eye glued to the telescope.
“Go away, Daniel. It hurts. Just…leave me.”
Even without looking, he knew there were tears in Daniel’s eyes.
“I wish I could have made you see yourself through my eyes. I’ll always love you, Jack. I just can’t stand be lonely anymore.”
There was a long silence, but Jack knew Daniel was still there, probably with tears on his face now. O’Neill stood up straight, pressing his hands to his lower back and stretched.
“Sometimes,” he said, “people become…crippled. They can’t always get all the way better, you know? If I could have been the man you deserve, I would have made sure you never in your life met Cameron Mitchell.”
“I know. Please, Jack. Try to give yourself a break.”
O’Neill knew there was one last thing he could do for Daniel, and he screwed up his courage to do it. “Yeah,” he said softly. I’ve been thinking about that.”
* * * *
Sam Carter knew it would take a while. But in the end, she’d have O’Neill. With a certain emptiness she wondered if it would last. She would always know she’d been his second choice. She forced a smile to say goodbye to Daniel and Mitchell. It was probably a good thing he’d come to the SGC. Carter might have one day been tempted not to get Daniel home.
I’d always been the best, she’d thought: Until I met Daniel Jackson. He’s a better human being than I’d ever known, and he’s a better thinker, even if he’s not a mathematician. She burned inside when she thought of how many times she’d taken credit, for something the idea for which had originated with him. The worst part was that he never minded—he only wanted things to work; he only cared if problems were solved. Daniel only needed to know; not to be seen to know.
“Will you ever forgive me?” It was the General at her shoulder. Somehow, she didn’t jump.
“For loving Daniel? I love him too. You can’t know Daniel Jackson and not love him if you’re alive and reasonably sane.” But she couldn’t look at Jack; not yet.
The colonel sighed. “Yeah. Hey! Want some cake?”
She forced herself to look at him, aching for the pain he held just behind those dancing eyes, even as she hated the fact that it was there. She forced a grin herself.
“Got any ice cream?”
She pushed past him.
“Let me at it!” It wouldn’t solve their problems, but they could avoid talking about it over ice cream and cake.
** The End **
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