Reluctant Heroes   

                                                                                                                                        By:  Tang Guangzhen   



CATEGORY:  First Time, Hurt/Comfort




AUTHOR’S NOTES:  Written in a couple of hours to address the fact that these people seem to be taking the enormity of what they’re involved in, and partially responsible for, way too well.



"Jackson! Goddamn it. Slow down, that's an order!" Jackson might not be taller, but the guy was just legs, about to his neck, and closing ground on him with obstacles present was taking a lot of dodging.. Cameron dropped the "that's an order" part after it didn't work the first time, since the corridors were crowded and it made you look like a maroon every time you yelled that and were completely ignored.


Cameron's legs weren't short either; despite an opportune tactical maneuver by Jackson at one point, Cam caught the other man by the time they reached the parking garage elevators. It wasn't empty, but Cam whistled sharply and indicated the corridor with a thumb thrust in that direction. "Your floor, thanks guys," he said; the two junior officers who'd been in the elevator when the doors opened just nodded and exited quickly with muttered "sir"s.


"Don't," Jackson said into his hands, which were both pressed into his face. The doors closed. Cameron pressed the garage level button, and waited, but Daniel said nothing else.


"Friends don't let friends drive in the condition you're in," Cameron said softly. "Let me take you home."


Daniel shivered, with the faint sound of a sobbing exhalation echoing in his shelled-around fingers and palms. "Fine," he muttered blackly.


Cameron didn't add "...and stay with you once we get there," because Daniel wouldn't mind that once he was calmer, and there was no point in starting a fight before they even made it to the car.


Daniel looked a little more cross when Cam seized his wrist and pulled him along, past his own car and down to Cam's. "Don't feel so hot either, Jackson. Rather drive my own."


Daniel didn't answer; he looked sour through the general upset, but got in silently when Cameron unlocked the doors.


Cam's cell rang. He retrieved it from his jacket pocket, driving with one hand--not easy to do getting out of a parking garage--and said "Mitchell...yes, sir. Yes sir, I've got that covered. And, uh, that mission specialist you were going to take care of for us? Good, good...glad to hear it, sir. I'm uh, headed for Jackson's house at the moment, got him in my car, we'll be available there if anything comes up...right. Yes, sir. Thanks." He clicked off. That last "sir" had nearly come out "Sam."


Of course, the only reason Daniel hadn't cottoned to any of it was that he was too fucked up at the moment to pay attention. Cam's phone rang all the time--the rest of them tended to balance periods of high traffic with periods of saying screw it and turning on their voice mail, but Cam didn't have the luxury--and half the calls he got that Daniel heard, he addressed the person at the other end as "sir".


Sam had grabbed Vala just as Cameron had grabbed Daniel, when Daniel and Vala had lunged for each other, and not in a good way--but Daniel had instantly broken away while Vala had folded into Sam's arms, face screwed up in a sob she was trying to contain. She'd lunged after when she saw Daniel make it out the door of his office at high speed, but Sam was bigger, and her leaning-away weight dragged them, as a unit, to a halt; Vala could have broken such a hold, since Sam was unwilling to hurt her to maintain it, but Vala was just as unwilling to hurt Sam to break it. "Let Cam get him!" Sam repeated a couple of times. "Let Cam! Cam's bigger! Cam can sit on him! Let Cam!"


"Sit on him like you're doing me, you mean?" Vala asked with a touch of customary flippancy, then dissolved quietly into sobs.


Cam had caught all this without losing Daniel because it had taken place in the corridor behind him, and there'd been a traffic jam down at the first intersection toward the elevators from Daniel's office, due to the transport of a couple of mainframe console pieces, each of which was about the size of Cam's office. He nearly had a lock on Daniel's jacket when Daniel hoisted himself noisily right over one of the dollies, as in over the top of the thing and its cargo, clamber-climb. It was a pretty noticeable event when a guy as big as Daniel did something like that in a contained space, and startled objections sounded here and there around them; but Daniel was down again with apparently no harm done before anyone could get too pissed off.


Dr. Daniel Jackson of SG-1, a known genius weirdo who got around the base in every conceivable way and for sometimes inconceivable reasons, could get away with shit like that. Cam, the military new guy, had to shoulder his way through, steaming, snapping something about an emergency.


But in the end, he and Sam had prevented Daniel or Vala from either having explosive strokes or strangling each other, and were, at least, on their way to getting them both contained for a while. Cam wished he hadn't seen it coming, but it had been all but inevitable. Time and place were the only unknowns. And that could make a team commander extremely nervous, which could make him start shadowing his team members, which could make his team members extremely nervous in turn.


After all, they knew what they'd done, though it wasn't their fault--they had both been missing crucial information. Cam had found that the problem was in making them see that every disaster that had ever happened had had events leading up to it, and if *anybody* had been able to see that the events in question would lead to the disaster, there'd have been no disaster.


"Let me just--" Cameron said.


"Shut up," Daniel said.


"Okay," Cameron said.




"She couldn't have done anything differently," Daniel hissed, then choked a bit, then covered his face in his hands again.


"Neither could you," Cameron said softly. "Sure, you said the wrong thing when they went to burn Vala--though you might try remembering the Prior wouldn't have shown up and brought her back if you hadn't said what you did--but you had to try to save her, and you couldn't believe that the truth would kill her, you thought if they just understood...and hell, Jackson, that's what you always think. And it would never have occurred to you to lie to the Doci, either. Not that it would have mattered. It wasn't hard for them to get Priors here. They'd have found out the truth anyway. And what would have happened to Vala while you were still there? Or to you?"


"You don't understand," Daniel graveled, fists clenching as he lowered his hands. "She thinks she's responsible because she didn't abort her child!"


"She is," Cameron said softly. "But I wouldn't take odds that some other Ori youngster wouldn't be here. It wouldn't have been hard to get a worshipper for a volunteer. Vala was just handy--if they could have found a way to impregnate a human while she was in a wormhole matter stream, for Godssakes, they could have found another way to do it with somebody else. You two have inflated ideas of your own importance. Yeah, you're the reason God made Oklahoma, but if it wasn't you, it would have been somebody else. If it hadn't been you who activated that communications device, it'd have been some knob at area 51, who would have done exactly no better at all at lying about the fact we don't worship the Ori.


"Teal'c and I, and our determination to find something that would keep Earth safe forever from the rest of the goa'uld and assorted other nasties, had as much to do with it as you and your insane curiousity, or Vala and her treasure hunting." He took a breath and tried to relax, finishing more quietly "Curiousity was a factor, but the force behind our actually having what it physically took to find the device was greed for the power that it could give us, motivations for wanting it notwithstanding. Like Vala says, it doesn't make a lot of sense to blame ourselves for doing what human beings do."


Daniel sighed very quietly, and muttered "'Vala' was just trying to take responsibility for the whole Ori incursion, in case you missed that."


"Not before Adria, she wasn't. I think more'n anything, rather than trying to take it, she was trying to take it off *you*."


"But she thinks it's okay since Adria?" Daniel said, ignoring the last part of Cameron's comment. "Do *you*?"


"No, I don't. Listen. She got pregnant without sex, or insemination, or even camels from the east bearing gold, et cetera. She may have suppressed a lot of her goa'uld memories, but she remembers enough to know that such an event could not possibly be anything good in any way. She should have tried to abort. What if she couldn't? What if she had some behavior coding or aversion? Or some safeguard in her body, even, to prevent abortion? But she didn't try, so we don't know and none of that matters--what matters is that people have instincts, and sometimes our instincts do not listen to our common sense."


"You'd know all about that."


"That's right, I would," Cam said. "But I'll never say I understand what it's like to have the potential for a whole 'nother human being living inside your body, totally helpless, under your care. If that's how she sees it. I've known people..." he sighed. "In any case, my point is this; when Vala says she's just as responsible as you are for the incursion 'cause she didn't abort Adria while she still could, she's right. No matter how we feel about it, how much we don't blame her, how much we sympathize and could never judge her, she's still right."


Daniel gave him a look that spat flames.


Cameron glared back before returning his eyes to the road. "She had the chance, and very good reasons to think she shouldn't let this pregnancy turn into an actual baby, but her *instincts* beat out her sense and she had the baby. The thing is--when I say she's just as responsible as you, I'm saying that neither of you are the reason, neither of you are *the* responsible party, and neither are both of you together. The device *was* found. *That* was the formative event, nothing either of you did later on; all that was just part of the shouting. Once we found the thing, everything that came after was inevitable--if not with you, then with somebody else." Cam was pulling into the driveway.


Daniel remained still.


"Let's fight about it inside, over something to eat," Cameron said, putting his hand on Daniel's camo-clad knee and leaving it there until Daniel looked up at him. "Come on. I can't unlock the front door. And I'm hungry."


Daniel actually smiled a very little, then turned to open his door.


                                                       * * * *

"It's...ugly," Daniel whispered to his lap. "As much as evil."


They'd eaten Daniel's lasagne leftovers--enough for about three nights of just Daniel--and drunk a few of those little bottles of wine that came in the four-packs. Cameron had barked a loud laugh at them when he saw, then slapped both hands to his face, half in consternation and half to stop laughing, while Daniel glared and said "Sam brought them over, okay? Can girls, at least, drink precious little bottles of wine?"


"Hey, I'll drink a precious little bottle of wine. I'll take booze on a bad day any way I can get it." Proving it, he'd twisted off the tops of two bottles, bonked them together and handed one to Daniel, and said "Rough day."


"Real rough." Daniel quaffed mediocre wine along with Cam.

Now Cameron, who was sitting in the floor next to the entertainment center, having just been fooling with the Chopin now playing quietly through the room, replied "Not fightin' you, but how do you mean, exactly?"


"They broke her heart. They impregnated her without her permission, they took her child, her child wasn't even a child, it was a...but Vala still loves her. She'd kill Adria if she could, but she'd still love her. How can they do that to her?"


"Like you said. They are one ugly pack of, um." Daniel didn't swear much, and he gave Cam bemused looks sometimes when Cam did. Cameron leaned up on a couch cushion with his elbow and rested his hand on Daniel's, where Daniel's gripped his own knees. "Everything else they're doing, that they plan to do--they gotta be the ugliest bunch around. I almost wish you weren't here, you know? If you'd stayed Ascended, we'd have someone on our side up there who can play on their field."


"Not for long," Daniel said grimly. "If I tried do anything, I'd be clobbered and dumped with my human body, and nothing else, on a planet where someone human would find me and take care of me, just like happened last time. I've wondered...if Morgan's on a planet somewhere, wondering who she is, what she is. Who these people are, and if she's one of them, or a stranger like they say. I begged her, browbeat her--Vala put the pincers on her, practically--to get her to help us, and exactly what Morgan was afraid of happened."


"As far as you saw, yeah. It may not look so great...but you don't know what they did after they stopped her projection into our space. For all you know, she got a stiff warning, or maybe they don't re-incarnate people these days for interfering, what with the Ori threat; maybe they feel they'd better have numbers. Or maybe you came back by choice."


"Everyone seems to assume I did, that I was in an almighty snit over the fact that the Ascended regarded humans as...sort of proto-extant organisms, not really...sentient, and that when they stopped me from protecting Abydos from Anubis, I said 'I'm outta here'".


"Did Morgan say that, and I missed it in the briefing?"


"No. She referred to remembering my 'brief time' with them, but she never said if I was pushed or I jumped."


"Uh, correct me if I'm wrong, but you were at a way-station after coming back, where you saw both Oma Desala and Anubis, and you did choose to become human again, when you could have Ascended. You did it yourself, sounded like; you reincarnated yourself. Since you showed up naked in General O'Neill's office."


"Yes." Daniel smiled a little.


"Then it doesn't matter which way it went the first time. Though I'm sorry I said what I said; you're right. They stopped Morgan, so they would stop you."


"I think they might throw me out entirely anyway. I'd be a rabble-rouser. I tried to get Morgan to be one--tried to get her to speak up about what she believed they should do, what was right and at the very least, what they ought to damn well think about if they don't want to be attacked themselves--and I'd do that, I'd look for sympathizers, I' whatever it's possible to do when you're Ascended. But not all the Ascended have the same amount of power or experience, just as humans don't; the Altera are likely the ones who have the most. And they're where the noninterference-at-any-cost line is coming from."


"They also hid us from the Ori for millenia."


"They aren't now. I guess they figure hey, they tried. We humans let them know we were here, despite their best efforts, and now it's our bed to lie in."


"Yeah," Cameron sighed. "Like I said, we're human; it was probably inevitable. Maybe they figure they'd give us a chance, but we blew it, or something. But it's not just weapons, you know. If they really wanted to interfere so far as to protect us in the first place, they should have hidden the communications device."


Daniel frowned.


"No, really," Cameron insisted. "It's not like they were preventing a scientific breakthrough we made ourselves and would only make again if we were stopped, so it would've worked. See, no matter where it comes from, discovery of principles or of an artifact that uses principles we don't get--once a new power, a new ability of any sort, is discovered, it will be used, even if it eventually phases itself out for being impractical in some way. If we know that, they have to know that. They were the ones who knew about the danger, who knew what that communications device would connect us with. Hiding the device would only have been hiding us from the Ori again. The damn thing just wasn't good for anything but announcing our presence to the Ascended bad guys."


"You're right," Daniel said, turning his hand a little to clasp a couple of Cam's fingers with his. "You're absolutely right. I'm the history expert. I should be able to see that, instead of getting into a knock-down drag-out with Vala over which of us is the evil being that ruined it all for the entire human race."


"You both got a little worked up and blew your senses of balance, that's all. It's not a small thing you're freaking out over, for God's sake."


Daniel wasn't listening. "Perspective. That's what I didn't have enough of, to stay Ascended--my perspective is too human. Too small. But I'd never have been offered Ascension if mine weren't unusually broad--for a human. So why do I still feel responsible? I know better, but..."


"You feel terrible--which you're translating into guilty--because you're incredibly close to the reasons for the incursion, and everything that it stands for in terms of calamity. But what...what you need to do is--" Cam licked his lips and thought; he really wasn't that good at this kind of thing. "--is grieve, for the inevitability of the bad choices that are only bad now, in hindsight; they were the right thing to do at the time, and never could have been avoided by *us*. Or you, more particularly. Grieve for the necessity of going through all this, and for God's sake don't forget to grieve for the dying and the dead and the lost and destitute and disenfranchised and the bereaved, like Vala. You need to grieve. But that hell you go through, it shouldn't be guilt--it's sadness. It wasn't you. It's just...real, real bad, and you're really close to it--"


Cam moved faster than Speedy the Wonder Iguana from planet Death of Sleep, getting up on one knee and grabbing Daniel's shoulders when the latter started to fall forward, his face crumpling as a soft noise came out of his chest. Cameron rescued Daniel's glasses and leaned over to set them on the endtable. "Ah, man, I said some shit, didn't I--I'm sorry," Cam whispered. He was straddling Daniel's lap, which wasn't easy with a guy who was pretty much of a size with him, especially with a lasagne-and-wine filled belly; but his cargo pants weren't too tight, and he managed it without cutting off the circulation to anything. Well, not completely, at least; he winced once or twice as he wrapped himself around Daniel. The sobs that shook the other man felt like they'd tear him apart if Cam didn't hold him down and keep all of him together.


Jesus. It was hell when someone you cared about so much hurt like this, but what he'd told Daniel was true; and grieving had to be done sometimes. Maybe if he learned how to do it over this, instead of blaming himself, he could live with himself--and everyone else--a little better.


Daniel was too good to be true, in the same sense some people were too stupid to live. The guy needed a flaw other than having no flaws. He needed not to *care* so deeply, and so often. And he needed to quit goddammit making everything about him.

From what Cam'd been told--in various media--the Daniel he'd met did have a thicker skin than he'd had before Cam had known him, which was a major boggler, considering he still felt so much it rattled him around like a bb in a blender. Sam had said, though, that Daniel actually noticing when he was making a super-righteous pain of himself was a new phenomenon. He would even, sometimes, act on the knowledge now, and back off.


But then, sometimes, he still didn't.


The front of Cam's sweatshirt was soaking, and he figured by this point he'd be making a gift of it to Daniel anyway, so while Daniel seemed to be pausing for breath, gulping and hiccuping, Cameron sat back a little and slid quickly out of the soft grey cotton. It didn't take much work; Daniel's arms weren't in the way, wrapped around him under the shirt. He pressed the soft grey cloth to Daniel's face. "There you go. Blow."


Daniel took the shirt from Cam and blew, hard. Then he started mopping at himself, breathing heavily through his mouth. Most folks would look like shit, all red and swollen and wet like that, but Daniel only looked tired and vulnerable, and really sort of wow. His eyes and eyelashes were still wet; reddened and puffy, they were still beautiful.


Hell, Jackson was just a weird guy all the way around. Cam loved him like bugfuck, he'd known that for a while, and frankly he wished he didn't, because with Daniel's proclivities, it was probably going to be Cameron's great good honor to watch the man finally die permanently. Especially in this situation. The chances for either of them, in the incursion, sucked pretty tremendously.

Suddenly his eyes flooded, tearing so hard the ducts prickled and he nearly jumped at the pain and suddenness of it. In reaction, he pulled Daniel close again, lowering his face to Daniel's hair, hiding his eyes.


"Just so you know, in case we die?" he said. "I love you."


Daniel made a puzzled noise.


"Just wanted to say it. Okay?"


Daniel made another sound into Cam's now-bare collarbone, still holding on around his waist with one arm while the other hand used the shirt as a crying towel. The sound might have been a chuckle, in a less swampy reality. "I don't know if..." he had to stop and try to clear his throat. Though when he finished speaking, he sounded exactly the same as he had before. "...if that's a good or bad thing to say to a guy at a moment like this, what with the dying part, but whatever; I love you, too. I can't exactly not love you right now, though, so keep that in mind."


"Yeah." Cameron smiled, turning his head to the side, pressing his cheek to the top of Daniel's head. What tears weren't already soaking down Daniel's hair joined them to enlarge the damp spot.


Daniel could feel the tears when they got high-volume, apparently. "You're crying, too," Daniel whispered.


"Yes, but only 'cause you are," Cam murmured back. "I'm a stud. I never cry."


Daniel gave himself a final wipe and put that arm, still holding the shirt in his hand, back around Cameron. "Liar."


"Actually, I don't, all that much. Seemed like a time for it, I guess."


Daniel didn't answer. He was still panting through his mouth, shaking a little. He was shaving close again, but he had a very soft beard, apparently. Cam could barely feel a stubble line, even at this hour, even with his bare skin still a little wet. He noticed too that he probably shouldn't be this comfortable--maybe his knees were getting used to it--and that a slow, rotating-rocking motion was moving them both, very slightly. Daniel's breathing was even, not hitching any more, though it was still wet and heavy, and Cam could feel it, rushing from his mouth, over a dampened shoulder. Daniel would probably be stuffy for days.


"Maybe you oughtta lie down, get some rest."


"Come with me."


"I'm not sleepy, really, thought I'd come along later when--"


"Shut. Up. And come with me. I want you to rub my neck a while, if you can stoop that low. Crying gives me a headache."


"Oh. Uh, sure, then. I..." he sighed. "I'm sorry that what I said to you cracked your floodgates, but I'm glad, too. That was a pretty extreme example, but when...when you feel like hell about the situation we're all in, I want you to understand that it's because it's a shit situation to which nobody but Vala is closer. You're sad. You're angry. Don't turn it into being about you, about fault, about guilt. Fuck, blame the enemy, hate their guts. Stop twisting yours up."


"Yeah. I..." he sighed shakily. "I get you. I got that. wasn't directed at me. It was directed...out. At the world, at the bad stuff."


"I know; I saw that. And I'm glad about that; I just hope...that to keep it moving in the right direction, you don't have to be torn up that much every time, 'cause it about breaks my heart." He shook his head.


Daniel was quiet a moment, then said "You really were only crying because I was?"


Cameron reached up and wiped at his own face with one hand. "Yep."


"Okay, um, in that case I'd probably love you even if I didn't have to right now."


Cam leaned back just a bit and kissed his forehead. "So time to shut up, come with you to bed, and rub your neck, right?"


"Right," Daniel said, his still-wet, still-lush eyes flicking up once to Cam's slightly reddened blue-white ones. "Actually, I have a lot of sore places."


"Oh, I hear that. Sitting in this position can give me some real sore places."


                                                       * * * *

The rubbing, actually, didn't happen for a while. Cameron made a pit stop, and while he was gone, Daniel lay down on his back, sighing, and the next thing he knew he was waking up because he couldn't breathe. It was dim in the room, and he was under half a blanket. Cam was under the other half of the blanket, on his side, facing Daniel; the covering was pulled up over his bare shoulder. He seemed to be asleep. Daniel slid away and trudged to the bathroom.


After he'd been sitting in the shower breathing steam for approximately five or six minutes, there was a gentle tapping on the frosted shower door. "Mind if I join you?"


"C'mon in. There's room." Daniel snorted a faceful of water and shook his head rapidly.


The door opened and Cameron peeked around it--presumably so as not to step on Daniel--then came in. Daniel pointed to the shower head from where he sat in the corner, with a thick stream of hot water beating him round about the head and shoulders. "Fix that, or you'll freeze."


"Right." Cameron stepped to the shower head and fiddled with it, changing the thick stream to a broad, fine spray of wet heat. He backed up until he bumped the wall next to Daniel, then slid down it, head turned to the side as it went below the spray zone line. He remained still a few moments, then sighed and said "That is nice."


"And your head isn't even stuffed up."




Daniel let go of the bridge of his nose and cracked one eye open; Cam was slumped sideways against the wall, perched on one heel, the other knee against the tile floor to steady him. Even what Daniel could see through steam and dim light looked better than good.


"Wish I could wear my glasses in here."


"Mm?" Cam's eyes fluttered open again; Daniel explained by giving Cam the once-over, smirking a little. Cameron grinned. "I still look the same as last time you saw me in a shower. Couple days ago."


"Yeah, but staring is frowned on in communal bathing situations."


Cameron smiled, dropping his eyes to the floor consideringly, and then braced himself with a hand on the floor and swung around to sit next to Daniel, facing the shower head. He rested his head on the back wall.


"How's the congestion?" he asked.


"Draining," Daniel sighed. "I'll be able to breathe just fine for as long as I stay in here."


"You had your pills?"


"Of course."


"Let me..." Cameron lifted a hand to Daniel's shoulder, and started trying to get turned; Daniel realized he was angling to get both hands up there and turned, too, facing the side wall of the shower. "I don't know if it'll work in here..." he was pulling and working trapezius flesh experimentally, but he was right, his hands were dragging skin. "Damn. This is...almost as tough as dry," Cam muttered. "Worse, maybe."


"C'mere," Daniel said, turning to grab Cam's forearm and pull him up as he stood. "I'm warm, I can stand out of the spray. Here." He reached for the caddy, and handed Cam a bottle of gel. "That ought to work. I can never get it all out of my washcloth."


"Give it a shot, at least..." Daniel felt Cam's hand stroke down his spine once. "Yeah, reckon this'll do."


"Good," Daniel muttered. "My head's been hell."


"I can imagine. Crying like that always makes mine hurt."


"You cry like that much?"


"Like I said, not much. I don't have an ego problem with it, it's...just not really my thing."


"I wish it were. Sam's too smart for it to be a danger, but you pilots...I worry that we're going to hear one of these days that you've gotten blasted and killed yourself on your damn motorcycle."


"That's not really my thing, either."


"I've seen you drive Sam's bike, Cam. You're like a stunt player on crack."


"Not usually. I was just trying to piss Sam off."


"Well, it worked, but not for the reasons you thought it would."


"Mm," Cam shrugged; Daniel felt it in the pull on his shoulders. It turned out Sam had ripped Cam limb from limb first for endangering himself, not her 'cycle.


"Why were you trying to piss her off anyway?"


"'Cause she never lets me win when we drag. A real friend lets you win *sometimes*."


Daniel chuckled. "That's pretty sad coming from you."


"Sam's different. I can't beat her at *anything*. It's starting to itch at me."


"Is she the first person you can't beat at anything?"


"No. And before you say it, it's not that she's female. It's that she's...well, whether I'm actually her commander or I'm doing the administerial chores for her depends on which general you talk to. I've stopped asking."


"Probably wise," Daniel murmured. He didn't quite get the connection, but he could wait.


"And she's her. Sam Carter, physicist genius of SG-1 for *eight* *years* before I showed up. I'm a flyboy with too much rank, which I arrived at by almost killing myself at the South Pole, and I'm assigned here 'cause the most wacked-out general in the force had a warm impulse to let me have any duty I wanted if I just wouldn't die. What with all that, I kinda feel like I got no business being even nominally her commander, and then I apparently have no *practical* business being her commander 'cause anything I can do, she can do better."


Oh. Okay. " feel're being patronized. Like we're playing a game with you, us and everyone who says you're the team leader."


Cameron sighed. "Well, not entirely. If it comes down to it, you people will do what I say if for no reason other than that, in a tight situation, when you've got a group of people, it's easier if some one person does the coordinating. Beyond that...I'm a pair of hands; I do the kind of thing just about anybody with some training and experience could do."


"So's Teal'c. And Jack never seemed to have a problem with that."


"Jack was also...well, he ran the missions, a different way than I do. His stamp was all over everything. I don't work like that, at least not with you three. And I don't have a problem with it; but still, I am not 'Jack'."


"Um. True. Well...I argued with him a lot, if that helps any."


"Doesn't count. You'd argue with a charging rhino. You'd try to talk around a forest fire. But none of this means," Cam finished quietly, and kissed Daniel's ear, prompting a stuffy snort of laughter that made Daniel put a hand up to his face, "that you don't get your backrub. I need you lower than me; I can't get enough pressure into your neck this way."


"Keep me from killing myself, here," Daniel said as he slid down the wall; Cam steadied him, and they ended up with Daniel sitting and Cam on one knee behind him.


"Hm...yeah, I guess this is high enough." There was a *splut* as Cam squeezed gel out of the bottle, and began smoothing it around Daniel's neck and upper back again before digging in with knuckle-strokes. "Don't wanna embarrass myself in the weight room tomorrow."


"What, by tiring out your triceps?"


"And dropping a dumbbell on my head, more specifically, yeah. But I'm fine this way. How's it feel?"


"Ever been to Canada?"


Cameron chuckled. "No, but I hear it's really nice in the summer. I guess that means I'm doin' good, here."


"Very good. Very, very." Daniel groaned, swaying a bit with the pressure.


"'Very, very'? You're a linguist and that's the best you can do?"


"Huh?" What?


"Never mind, your neck's getting rubbed. You probably aren't speaking much of anything."


And he didn't speak much of anything, for some time, beyond occasionally giving Cameron directions when he asked for them. Nobody ever wants that kind of thing to be over, but eventually, Daniel knew that Cam's hands had to be getting tired; he reached up and laid his own hand over one of them. "You can ease up. Can't have you braining yourself."


"Okay," Cam said, squeezing Daniel's deltoids a few final times. "Anyway I'm pruning up. You got a hot-water tank the size of a swimming pool."


"It's the conserving showerhead," Daniel muttered, and managed to crawl up the wall with a helpful drag under the arms from Cam. "If your services hadn't been available, sitting in here would eventually have gotten rid of my headache, too."


Cameron backed up enough to let Daniel turn around, but then stepped close again and pressed his fingers into the muscles at the back of Daniel's neck, working carefully, thumbs resting on his collarbone. "So, *is* your headache gone?"


"Completely," Daniel said, and smiled a little.


"How you breathing?"


"Fine, for now, at least."


"Good." Cameron moved his hands a little to cradle Daniel's jaw, and kissed him, slowly, gently.


When he pulled back, his eyebrows were raised in query.


Daniel smiled again. "I'm all right now, Cam. Really."


"Well, good." He didn't move, still seemed to be waiting.


Daniel held his gaze a moment, then said "Let's get out. You're right, I'm pruning up, too."


Cameron smiled back at him and nodded.


                                                       * * * *

Daniel had taken a towel and dried off mostly in the bedroom, because the bathroom the conserving-head shower was in wasn't large enough for both of them to be making with elbows and hair-toweling and bending at the waist and such, without knocking each other over.


Cam showed up in a minute, wearing a towel. Daniel silently handed him some underwear and sweats. There was a similar-looking set sitting on the dresser, but Daniel was still naked, toweling at his ears and shaking his wet hair.


"Thanks." Cam took the stack of soft clothes, pulled the towel off and glanced around; Daniel took it from him and dropped it on the floor, along with his own. Cameron smirked.


Daniel smirked back, shrugged, and pulled the bedspread down. "You don't need to put those on now if you're, um, more comfortable without."


"Oh. Okay." Cam dropped the clothes on the dresser by Daniel's pile, and joined Daniel in climbing in and getting settled.


"Thanks for the...the stuff about Sam."


"Stuff about Sam?"


"The insecurity stuff. You could've blown it off, but you told me in detail why you acted crazy on her 'cycle at the picnic. You didn't have to."


"You'd have figured it out."


"Maybe, but you told me...well, to make me feel on a more even footing with you. After I..." he glanced away from Cam. "...practically exploded on you. And your shirt."


"Hey, you didn't climb in *my* lap. The shirt knew what it was getting into."


"I might as well have. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for...sharing some vulnerability."


"You don't make it a dangerous place to be," Cameron said, smiling again, "so no problem."


Daniel smiled a little back, but then looked away, toward the faint light from the window. "You do know that I know better? Than, um...Vala knows better too. I mean...we were tired, we were sick of it...we were--I don't know, it just--we didn't really expect to end up there--"


"Daniel, I know you don't *really* think this is--" he made quotes in the air and said in an announcer voice "--'All Jackson's Fault'." He dropped his hands and finished "Usually, even though you leap all over taking the blame, you're blaming *all* of us, you included, and probably trying to guilt us into doing something noble and stupid. Yeah, I know you know better. It just...kinda got lodged in a bad place and came urping out, for both you and Vala; all the personal blame you do feel you have coming to you got turned into all the blame there is. You know Vala will be black to blaming everybody else in the world eventually."


"Not now, I don't think."


"No, I guess not, but including us in the blame."


"Probably." Daniel sighed. "Tell me I'm not the first person in your command who cried on you."


"You're not. Even remotely."


"Tell me the others who did were sober."


Cameron sighed. "Some of them were."




"And some of them were injured. But the crying was no less real for being boozed up or pain-inspired. They felt the same way you did. Listen, Jackson...Daniel, if they put you in a--er, if you were taken off the team and out of the program entirely for grief that drove you nuts and every time I saw you I had to change clothes, and maybe knock back a double shot to keep from bursting into tears myself, I would still be there. And if my job got in the way of it, I'd have you instead of the job, even if I had to send a lot of heartfelt goodbyes to the Air Force over it." Cam had spoken more heatedly as he sat up slowly, until he ended up on his elbows, one hand stabbing an index finger in the air just above Daniel's nose. Daniel's eyes had gotten wide and crossed, trying to look at it.


"Uh," Cameron said, lying back down. "And that goes for if you needed Vala or Sam or Teal'c and I would say your Jack, too, though I don't know if he's quite the same guy as my General O'Neill."


"You'd be surprised."




"Tell me you wouldn't really quit over me. I don't think I can take that kind of pressure."


"I...might not. It would depend on the situation."


"I don't feel better."


"Tough. I mean, forget that without your help, humanity in this galaxy will be turned under like a crop of weeds--I personally might *quit* my *job*. Oh, the horror." It was more than a job to Cameron, of course, but even that wasn't much compared to what was happening to humanity all over the Ori-controlled portions of the galaxy.


"I didn't need to think about that. The first part."


"Shit, you're right. I have a real gift for saying the greatest things, don't I?"


"Never mind. I think I can manage to concentrate on something else." He turned his head on the pillow so he could see Cam. "But since it's your fault I need to, you could always give me something else to concentrate on."


Cam smiled a little. "I could, huh?"


"Will you get over here already?"


"You fumbled *my* pass in the shower," Cam pointed out, rolling and landing draped half on Daniel. They reshuffled a little, getting comfortable together.


"That wasn't a fumble and it wasn't a pass. It was you wondering just how far you were expected to take it, and me letting you know that if it was a matter of bringing me back to earth, I was already there; you didn't need to pull out those particular stops if you didn't want to."


"Okay, I'll buy that," Cam murmured. "So you have been picking up on all my little...uh, on my total lack of discretion, then."


Daniel smiled. "You're discreet, as much as you need to be. I could tell. The team can tell. I think Landry suspects, but he knows you've got a worshipful hardon for all of us but Vala, I doubt he'll ever want to know more."


"I wouldn't if I were him," Cam nodded, then rested a hand alongside Daniel's face, and kissed him.


"We better set the alarm," Daniel said, between increasingly insistent kisses. "We don't up late at the same time..."


"Especially not smiling as much as we're gonna be."


"Don't make me laugh, it hurts my head."




Cam's weight on Daniel felt like an anchor, solidity, reality in the chaos the universe had become. He held on tight, and felt Cam doing the same thing, and for a while, at least, he wasn't scared, he wasn't guilty--he was safe, and he did his best to make Cam feel the same way, and for a while, they both did.


For now, at least--but they both knew where to go, now, when they needed that grounding again. Cam's breathtaking body and penetrating eyes were gravy, of course; he'd've loved Cam no matter what he looked like, but Daniel had to admit that it was truly delicious gravy. He wondered what Cam thought about him that way, and then he wasn't capable of wondering about much for a while, as every language he spoke vanished without a trace from his head. His being reduced to inarticulate noises didn't seem to bother Cam in the slightest, though.


He managed some English. "Cam--I wouldn't--this, if I didn't--"


"I love you, too," Cam murmured into Daniel's waist, mouth trailing down along the iliac crest. "You know that." And okay, so they'd already covered that, and there was still no telling just how either of them meant it, but love was good any way you looked at it, and Daniel stopped worrying and let Cam drive him into a state of serious mind expansion. He barely had the wherewithal to reciprocate, but he managed, and despite Daniel's distraction Cam didn't seem to feel shortchanged, to put it mildly.


                                                       * * * *

"Yeah, I think he'd better get some more rest. There's nothing pressing, is there...? Okay, then, nothing that can't wait until tomorrow morning. No immediate...yeah. Yeah, I'd feel better about it. I don't walk off when somebody as important to the team, and everything else, as Jackson--yeah, he's being good for me." Cam chuckled. Daniel listened as close as he could, but couldn't make out the voice on the other end of the phone. "I guess I'm either flattered or a total hardass, then. Nah, nothing big, just too worn to be much good. Give it another day. I'm caught up on my deskwork, for once, send somebody by my office to pick it up. Yeah. Tomorrow morning. No shi--uh, that's definitely true, sir, you'd think we'd all have to take more breaks than--I know he won't, but like I said, he's being good for me. S'why I wanna stay. He'll probably up and haul ass to the mountain if I leave him to his own devices. Right...twenty-four hours, sir. We'll be back and Jackson'll be bright-and and bushy-tailed as always. Me, I might be a little dragged out, but I'll be serviceable...yeah. No problem. Yes, sir....yes sir. Thank you , sir, see you tomorrow morning."


Daniel opened his eyes as Cam leaned across him to set the phone back in its cradle. "You didn't have to do that."


"No, I wanted to do that. I don't care if you want to, uh, spend the whole twenty-four in bed, watching ESPN--okay, maybe the History Channel--lifting, riding, hanging at the zoo, whatever. I just want you to forget about everything for a while."


"And I need you here to make sure I do that?"


"Hell yes you do. Jackson saying he'll take it easy is right up there with 'I'll get around to it Tuesday' and 'the check is in the mail' and 'I promise not to come in your mouth'. "


Daniel squashed Cameron close, squeezing a grf out of him and making him scramble for stability. Laughing, he protested "Hey, I like you too, okay? Let me breathe."


Daniel's grip slackened just a little. "You're being way too nice to me."


"Not any nicer than I wanna be, so don't sweat it."


"Can I at least make you breakfast?"


"Breakfast away. I was feeling empty and coffeeless, now that you mention it."


"Me too. Want to help?"


"Love to. Daniel..."


"Mm?" Daniel rubbed those extraordinary eyes and blinked long lashes at Cam, in an expression that was either one of Daniel's inscrutable ones or was evidence he wasn't completely awake.


"Anytime, okay? Anything you need. I'm up for it."


Daniel gazed at him thoughtfully, then said "I'll go with that, if you'll accept the same from me."


Cameron stroked his hair. "Only fair," he said, and smiled. "So, sure." He leaned down and kissed Daniel softly.


"Thank you. For everything," Daniel murmured.


"It's honest to god my pleasure, except for you hurting, which is a total gutripper, but being able to do something to help makes up for it."


Daniel rolled into a tangled, tight embrace with Cameron and sighed, mostly in contentment. "Good thing for me, then. Real good thing."


"For both of us," Cam whispered, and kissed his forehead.



                                                                             ** The End **   



Feedback to:   


Stories by Title


Stories by Author


Stories by Rating and Category


DC Archive





                                                                                                                                         All Rights Reserved.