Jackfic Fiction Archive Story

 

A Little Fish

by Gallegater

Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).


Author’s Note: Many thanks to Diana for her beta skills.



How cheerfully he seems to grin, How neatly spreads his claws, And welcomes little fishes in with gently smiling jaws!

         Lewis Carroll

“So Ball, ya ever been fishing?” Jack squirmed against the metallic shard digging into his shoulder. “Course, with a worm like you, it could be a dangerous pasttime.”

Ba’al’s lips thinned as he caressed the length of the cool blade. “You babble nonsensically. Perhaps you need a reminder of the topic of our discussion.”

“Nope. I’m surprised a worldly guy like yourself didn’t realize that everything relates to fishing.”

“Again you choose to spout nonsense.”

“My Grandma didn’t know a whole lot about fishing, but she sure knew about human nature. She used to tell me not to bother arguing with people whose opinions I didn’t respect. So, normally I wouldn’t bother, but since you asked real nice, I’m gonna throw you a bone. We were talking about using you for bait.” The pristine knife sliced through the air, hovering a fraction before burying deeply into his flesh, staining its surface with his blood. Ahhh.”  Jack bit off the strangled cry, and his eyes shut tightly against the pain spreading in growing ripples through his shoulder and chest. “So, never been fishing, huh?” he whispered hoarsely. “Well that explains a lot of things.”

“Your mission, Tok’ra. What was your mission?”

“No mission. Besides we were talking about the fine art of fishing so quit changing the subject. Ya wanna hear about the one that got away?”

“A feat which you will never accomplish.”

“Never say never, Skippy.”

“You have admitted that the Tok’ra’s name was Kanan.”

“See, now you’re getting into it. Kanan . . . cane . . . fishing pole. See how the whole thing ties together?”

“And how will your death relate to this fishing of yours?” Ba’al reached for another knife.

“I got nothing.”  Jack’s eyes narrowed in thought. “You know, Ball, bait is everything. As a god wanna-be, you might want to take notes on this. I don’t share this too often. It only takes a little bit of bait to catch a big fish. Not a lot of people know that. They try to gunk up their hook with too much bait, the fish just nibbles around it and then takes off. It a universal truth that could put you ahead of the game in the whole ruling the galaxy thing.”

“You dare to mock me?”

“Well, now that you mention it, yeah, I do.”

“Impertinent dog!” 

“No actually, I prefer earthworms for my bait. Great big, juicy ones dug fresh out of a manure pile. I’ll give you two points for mentioning dog because technically it is a type of fish and since you’re new to this game I’ll cut you some slack just because you’re trying. But, from now on try sticking to the topic at hand. We’re talking about bait. My grandpa swore by crickets, and some folks like crayfish. Now that I think about it, larva works good. Yeah, ya can’t beat a big ol’ white grub. Course you’d know all about those, wouldn’t ya? There was this fish back on my Grandpa’s farm. Big ugly sucker. He’d have made a snack out of a little piece of crappy like you.”

The blade pierced his throat and he sank slowly beneath the surface to die.

^^^^^ >O ^^^^^

Grandma, you remember that big fish in Grandpa’s pond? Remember how Grandpa tried for years to catch it and that old fish was just too smart. Grandpa used to get up at the crack of dawn and sneak down there when he figured they’d be biting. He even sat there in the pouring rain. Waiting. Hoping. Holding his mouth just right. But the only thing he caught was a cold. Remember how you fussed and carried on? Grandpa just laid there, all bundled up, listening to you scold, smelling like that Vick’s VapoRub you swabbed all over his chest.

‘A good fights worth a little discomfort, Boy.’ That’s what he told me when you left the room to get him some tea. ‘Your Grandma doesn’t understand that. Not when it comes to fishing. This fight is between me and that old fish, and it’s worth the price of a cold.’

‘But you didn’t catch him, Grandpa,’ I reminded him.

‘Makes no difference, Jack. It’s the fight that counts. Giving ‘em a good fight. That old bass thinks he’s a big fish and it’s my job to prove him wrong.’

You remember the day Grandpa caught him? You could hear him shouting all the way down by the barn. We ran down to the pond and he was standing there grinning ear to ear, holding up that fish for all of us to see. Then he just took out the hook, real careful like, and let him go. Tossed him right back in his pond. He just stood there watching those bubbles rise up and pop as that fish disappeared.

‘Why’d you let him go, Grandpa? You’ve been after that fish for as long as I can remember.’

His eyes stayed fixed on the calm surface. ‘It was all about the fight, Jack. I had to teach that fish a lesson. See, before he had the idea that he was a big fish in a big pond. Now that old fish knows  that he’s just a little fish in a big pond.’

Grandma, I guess I forgot about that old fish and Grandpa’s fight sometime over the past few years. Seems like maybe I was thinking I was a big fish. Well, right now I’m laying here knowing I was dead and remembering how that son of a bitch killed me. The pain’s faded. This damn sarcophagus has done its job, but the memories don’t fade. The goons will be here any minute, ready to drag me out to face more of Ba’al’s fun and games to see who’s the big fish here. Not gonna be much of a contest.

I’m trying. God, Grandma, I’m trying so hard. I’m fighting. Grandpa would’ve been proud. He would’ve understood. But, I’m tired. I’m so tired. The real agony of this whole situation is sinking in, just like Grandpa’s hook. My team has no clue where I am. Ba’al’s right, no one is going to find me. They have no idea where to start looking. They’d find me if they could, but that slimy coward Kanan made sure there was no  trail. I’m hanging onto hope by a thread, but my blood’s in the water and that shark, Ba’al is circling.

I’m just the little fish and right now I’m lost in a hell of a big pond.

 ^^^^^ >O ^^^^^

“Sam’s coming back soon, so I need to . . .”

“. . . blow this plane of existence.”

“Yeah, well, so to speak.” Daniel glanced at the medical equipment which was beeping quiet reassurances.   “You gonna be okay?”

The habitual smirk lacked the strength to overtake the truth sprinting across the lines of Jack’s face. “Oh sure. Piece of cake.”

“That’s good. Jack, back there - in Ba’al’s fortress - I . . .”

“Hey Daniel, did I ever tell you about this big ol’ fish my Grandpa spent years trying to catch?”

“Fish?” Daniel bit his lip as he frowned. “No, I don’t think so. I’m pretty you didn’t, in fact. Why?”

“That fish thought he was pretty tough stuff. King of the pond and all. Swimming around. Strutting his stuff. Shaking his bass in front of all the lady fish. Driving them wild. Thinking he had all the answers.”

The frown deepened. “Jack, is this story going somewhere, because I’m not quite sure I’m grasping what you’re trying to get at.”

“All it took was a hook, Daniel. One little hook to show that fish just how small his pond really was. When Grandpa let that fish go and he swam away, things had changed. He’d changed.” Jack’s eyes locked onto a small stain on the sheet near his hand. The remnants of blood? One finger reached out to trace the boundaries of the stain - exploring its territory - before it retreated into a balled fist.

“But he was still fulfilling his purpose.”

“Huh?”

“I’m serious, Jack. Think about it. Your Grandpa spent years trying to catch the fish. Right?”

“Yeah, but . . .”

“Maybe being caught was part of the fish’s purpose. Maybe it was all part of him gaining perspective of his world . . .”

“Pond.”

Whatever. . . and his role in it. Maybe it was all about him realizing he was a survivor even after he got caught. Maybe it was never about the getting caught, but about the need to never give up and to have the will to go on fighting. Maybe.”

For a moment Jack looked as though he were going to argue the point. “Maybe it was.” He gave a taut smile. “So, how’d you learn so much about fish? Oma been keeping you after school?”

Daniel returned the grin sheepishly and shrugged. “Overachiever.”

“You always were.”

“Jack, I’ve got to go now. I always seem to be saying goodbye to you.”


“Yeah. I noticed that...Why don’tcha stick around for a while?”

“I...can’t really.”

“Just did.”

“Special occasion.”

“Christmas?”

“No.”

“Ground Hog’s Day?”

Nooo.”

“I’ve got my journey, you’ve got yours?”

Daniel’s smile relaxed. “Something like that, yeah . . . Look, I know you don’t think so . . . right now, I mean I know you have your doubts, but uh ... because you’ve been through something that no one should have to go through . . . I guess what I’m trying to say is...you’re gonna be all right.”

Shadows lurked in deep pools behind Jack’s eyes. Deep, silent shadows - a perfect place to hide. “How do you know?”

Daniel smiled warmly. “You’re just gonna have to trust me.”

“I can do that.” Daniel smiled again and nodded. “You gonna be okay?”

“Yeah, I’m gonna be fine.” And just like Grandpa’s fish sinking back beneath the surface he was gone without a ripple to mark that he had been there at all.

Jack blinked, rubbing his eyes with a deep sigh and stared at the stained sheet. Yeah, well, come back for a visit anytime, Daniel. We’ll go fishing. You may think you have all the answers with the whole Ascended Being thing, but I’ve got a trick or two left to show you. Like my Grandma used to say, ‘A fish wouldn’t get caught if it kept its mouth shut.’

      ^^^fin^^^

^^^^^ >O ^^^^^