Jackfic Archive Story

 

Pizza and Cold Beer

by Su Freund

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).


Title: Pizza and Cold Beer

Author: Su Freund

Email: su_freund@ficwithfins.com

Website: http://www.ficwithfins.com/

Category: Jack / Daniel friendship, missing scene

Content Level: 13+

Content Warnings: Minor use of mild language

Pairings: None

Season: 9

Spoilers: S9 up to Origin. Missing scene for Origin.

Summary: To Daniel's surprise, it seems Jack want to talk

Sequel/Series Info: None

Status: Complete

Copyright (c) 2005 Su Freund

File Size: 76 KB

Archive: My site, Jackfic, Gateworld, FanFiction Net

Author's Note: I was surprised to find myself inspired to write this by Jack's brief appearance at the end of Origin, and some of the on-line debates about the interaction between Jack and Daniel in that brief scene, particularly Jack's attitude towards Daniel. Some of the comments irked me enough to prod my muse and, for what it's worth, this is my take. This fic has not been beta read so please forgive any errors. I hope there are none.

Thanks to Lightfoot for the brilliant artwork featuring Jack and Daniel that illustrates this fic. Her work is always stunning and this is no exception. Also thanks to Fulinn28 who made the book cover from Lightfoot's wonderful artwork. The book cover can be viewed at: http://www.ficwithfins.com/AA3_1/archive/1/pizzaand.html or the original artwork is in Lightfoot's gallery on the website.

Pizza and Cold Beer

When Jack declared that he was hungry Daniel figured they were heading to the mess for a bite to eat. Jack's initial reaction to Daniel's heartfelt confession had not fazed him, indeed it had amused him. The non sequitur was so typical of the whimsical and flippant remarks, or downright sarcasm, he had grown to expect from his friend that Daniel took it in his stride. He knew it was an O'Neill defence mechanism and that, deep down, Jack gave a damn, quite a few damns actually, even if he appeared not to. He'd seen Jack react that way many times and believed he had some inkling of how the man ticked.

The last thing he expected was that Jack might want to talk to him about his confession, or have a heart to heart. You could have knocked him down with a feather, therefore, when Jack headed towards the VIP rooms, instead of the mess, suggesting they get some pizza, drink beer and have a chat. He was stunned. This was so not like Jack.

"Not exactly homely I know, Daniel, but it will have to do. No going off base for me tonight, I'm afraid," Jack said as they entered one of the rooms.

He indicated for Daniel to sit down but refused to be drawn further. Daniel was puzzled. Pizza and beer? They were still inside the mountain.

"Um, Jack, how...?" Daniel didn't finish because there was a knock on the door.

"Personal delivery service from Jack's pizza parlour coming up," Jack said with a smirk. "Come!"

Jeffries, the aide Jack had brought with him on this trip, came in holding two pizzas and produced a six pack of beer from a bag in his hand.

"As ordered, General," he put them on the table and saluted.

"At ease Jeffries. Nice work. Give yourself a pat on the back. Now I don't want to be disturbed unless it's a dire emergency. Got that?"

"Yes sir."

"You did get something for yourself, didn't you?"

"Yes sir. Thank you." Jeffries turned smartly and left the two friends alone.

"Well, help yourself, Daniel," Jack indicated the steaming hot pizzas and beer.

"Um... as I said, how?"

"Rank has its privileges, Daniel. It's no big deal. The take-out was delivered topside and Jeffries went and got it, and his own, my little treat."

"How many times did you do this when you were in charge of the SGC, Jack?" Daniel laughed.

"That's classified," Jack chuckled, "come on, tuck in!"

"You must have planned this."

"Of course! I haven't seen you for a while so thought it would be cool."

"And the beer?"

"Yeah, well we'd better not tell anyone about that minor infraction. This is a special treat and strictly on the QT. Friends in high places, or at least Jeffries and a couple of friendly SFs. I would have invited myself back to your place but haven't got time. Now eat, dammit. After I went to all this trouble I don't want them getting cold."

"Is this what you get up to at the Pentagon?"

"You'd be surprised what I get up to at the Pentagon, but I'm not telling."

Jack took a piece of pizza in one hand, bit off a huge mouthful, chewed and swallowed, washing it down with a slug of beer, and then got down to business.

"So, how are things Daniel?" he asked.

"I'm pissed that I missed the Daedalus."

"Really? Now there's a surprise. Wish I could have held them back just for you, but, you know... places to go, things to do, all that." The sarcasm was thick in Jack's voice, as ever.

"I know you didn't want me to go, Jack, no need to rub it in."

"It's dangerous out there, Daniel.

"Don't tell me you worry about me."

"Erm... no I don't worry. Let's just say I-I'm concerned. Go figure'"

Daniel's mouth turned up at the edges. That was quite a confession from Jack O'Neill.

"Concerned? About me?"

"Sure about you, space monkey."

Jack's face cracked into a huge grin and Daniel's smile broadened right along with it.

"You haven't called me that in a while."

"No, well..." Jack shrugged, taking another swig of beer along with his pizza, which, despite the conversation, he was getting through at a considerable pace. Daniel had hardly touched his yet. "I'm getting sentimental in my dotage, Daniel, so just humor this old man, will ya?"

Daniel seemed about to speak, and mawkish sentimentalism was not a road Jack wanted to travel. He suspected Daniel might try to say something nice like 'you aren't old, Jack' or, worse, he might even try to pay Jack some kind of compliment. Jack so did not want the conversation to be steered in his direction.

"Apart from being pissed?" he pressed on quickly to divert the conversation back to Daniel.

Jack had planned the pizzas, although not necessarily the chat. He'd intended on playing a bit of catch-up with his old friend, some friendly banter and chit-chat, but was now determined they should have this out.

Daniel's confession about being scared had shocked him and he couldn't simply let that go. His friend needed a pep talk, for his own sake and that of the SGC. Jack convinced himself that he was the boss and had to keep the wheels turning so a morale boost was necessary, but if he was honest he simply believed that Daniel was his friend. What kind of friend wasn't around when they were needed most?

Daniel had been through a lot lately and it appeared to Jack that this was one of the times he was needed, which held its own appeal. It felt good to be needed as something other than a mere paper pusher and Commanding Officer. He'd been feeling pretty down lately, missing the SGC and his friends, so was in need of his own kind of morale boost. A little quality time spent with Daniel might be just the right panacea for his overwhelming sense of aloneness.

Sometimes Jack simply needed a good friend, rather than a mere acquaintance, and Daniel was one of the best. Jack might never confide any of his deep feelings, but the company alone was often enough.

"Umm, let's see now..." started Daniel, "for a few days I was forced to stay way too close to one of the most irritating women I have ever met, against my will I might add. Then I had to watch her get burned to death, and rise like a phoenix from the ashes, which was pretty weird, and extremely troubling, by the way. After that I nearly got burned to death myself, which was way too close for comfort. And on top of all that, I managed to make our presence known to a bunch of alien bad guys who never knew we existed before and I seem to have started a holy jihad in the process. So, how do you think things are?"

"Same old, same old then?" Jack wore an amused grin, but seeing Daniel's reaction turned it into a frown. "I can see how that woman might be a little annoying, by the way. She comes on a bit strong, doesn't she?"

"Yeah, and you have to watch the contents of your pockets if she gets too close." Daniel winked at his friend teasingly. "She seems to have taken a liking to you Jack."

"And why do I get the feeling that she's does that with all the boys?" Jack retorted, "Anyway, I made sure she won't be disturbing us tonight."

"She'll be gone tomorrow."

"Good, we can stop hiding the silver. Make sure they search her on her way out will ya?"

"Sure thing, Jack. You don't think she can actually hide anything in her skin-tight leathers, do you?"

Jack merely arched his eyebrows and shrugged as if to say, 'who knows?' and Daniel figured it was right that they shouldn't take any chances. The woman would do almost anything for a buck. The thought that he would be rid of her at last pleased him, but both men would have cause to look back on that moment and wish they'd known what would happen when the pair separated again.

Jack paused to look into Daniel's eyes for a moment, sensing that this was not the time to be quipping in his usual way.

"You blame yourself for the Ori? It's not your fault," he stated firmly.

"Yes it is."

"Is not."

"Is."

"Okay, stop! For crying out loud, Daniel, we are human which means we are fallible. And we are a very curious race of people. You were only doing what we normally do: going out there, exploring, questioning. That's what we get paid for."

"You mean putting our big feet in it while bumbling along blindly?"

"That too."

Jack's tone raised a smile from Daniel but he continued to argue, believing he was to blame for the mess they might have got themselves into. It was him who told the Ori priest about humanity in their galaxy, and what they were like, effectively blaspheming in their eyes, and turning their whole galaxy into blasphemers right along with him.

"Jack, I..."

"I'm trying to tell you that none of this is your fault. Can't you just listen to me for a change?"

"I always listen to you, which is more than I can say for you."

"Bullshit on both counts, wise guy."

"When did you ever listen to me?"

"Here, right now, old buddy. So while my ears are open why don't you tell me how you feel about it?"

Daniel was surprised but laughed, picking up his pizza at last and digging in with gusto. Jack might not be the best wordsmith he'd met but he had to admit that he frequently enjoyed his company. The man had a habit of making him see things in a different light and Daniel knew he did the same for Jack. Opposites they might be, in many ways, and constant bickering featured heavily in their relationship, but there was a spark of something special between them. He never had been able to put his finger on it but, somehow, their friendship worked despite all appearances to the contrary.

"So?" Jack peered at Daniel over his beer bottle, "You said something about being scared - for the first time? Weren't you always scared?"

"N-no'" Daniel replied, and Jack arched an eyebrow.

"Yeahsureyabetchya. Can't speak for you, but I was."

Daniel nearly choked on his mouthful of pizza, amazed at such a confession from his ex-team mate.

"You? You're kidding, right?"

"You figure I wasn't?"

"Well, yeah, most of the time I did actually."

"There you go then."

"Jack..."

Daniel was slightly disbelieving. So much for "fearless" Jack O'Neill. Jack rarely showed fear on the surface. Perhaps he didn't know him as well as he imagined. He hid way too much under that often gruff exterior.

"Fear serves a purpose, Daniel. You can't function properly without a little adrenaline. Fight or flight. Ever heard of it? Generally speaking, I'd rather fight."

"I'd never have guessed," Daniel replied with a more than a hint of sarcasm, "but then neither did I think the Great Jack O'Neill got scared. Or not much anyway."

"You'd have to be crazy not to be scared. The trick is not to show it, but to use it. You never were very observant of human behaviour Daniel, particularly not mine Alien behaviour, sure, but human...?" Examining Jack over the top of his glasses, Daniel was thinking that, despite Jack's surprising revelation, he knew his old CO better than the man realised, but refrained from comment. "By the way, I am certainly not the 'Great' Jack O'Neill, just plain old Jack."

"That's your story, huh?" Daniel grinned and Jack preened at the apparent compliment but did not respond to it.

"Why do these folks scare you more than anyone else we've encountered? Gonna tell?"

"Didn't you read my report?" Daniel sighed, "No, of course not. What am I thinking?"

"Actually, I did. Reading is about all they think I'm good for these days; along with signing lots of bits of paper."

"You know it's not like that..."

"Well, we aren't here to talk about me are we?"

"If you read my report you don't need me to tell you why."

"I always needed you to tell me why, Daniel." The archaeologist looked at him sharply but decided Jack wasn't kidding. "I want to hear it from here." Jack tapped his chest.

"Alright. These Prior guys are way more powerful than the Goa'uld, and they are zealots. That's always dangerous. We've seen what that can do right here on Earth with normal human beings, but these guys can kill way more easily than any hand device or bomb, seemingly just by looking at you, and they can bring people back to life without any medicine or a sarcophagus, and don't even break a sweat. In fact I'd be surprised if they ever sweat. They seem to draw on some kind of force that looks like it came right out of Star Wars."

Daniel paused after the long diatribe, waiting for Jack's reaction. Jack had read about the telekinesis and had to confess this was all pretty strange stuff. Daniel's reaction to it was disturbing and he felt the back of his neck start to itch in the way it often did when he could sense danger ahead.

"And?" he asked, simply.

"You think there's more?"

"Hey, come on, there's always more. This is Doctor Daniel Jackson I'm talking to, right?" Daniel could not help but smile at that comment, but continued as bidden.

"Okay. They work miracles. They have true power in a way the Goa'uld never had. There are millions of people in this universe who have just lost their gods. Many of those people can probably be persuaded that the Goa'uld were false ones, and many believe that already. But when they get an eyeful of these guys... and the Priors are just foot soldiers for the real thing: the preachers, the army. These are merely their Priests and their Jaffa, Jack."

"Put that way, it does sound a tad ominous."

"A tad?"

"A smidgen?"

"Jack! How do you convince folks that these zealots are not the prophets and priests of true gods when they wield the power of life and death? It's kind of a prerequisite for godhood, you know. It's a powder keg waiting to go off. Not only that, but they will come here. Of that we can be sure. And they so believe in the rightness of their cause: won't be reasoned with or want to bargain, sign treaties or fight over territory.

"These are not system Lords bickering over a few planets and scraps of power here and there. These guys want it all, and are both likeminded and single minded in that purpose. Death to all unbelievers. Convert or die. This could turn into a universal Spanish Inquisition. A whole lot of people will be happy to serve them, out of self preservation, or otherwise. We'd be flung right back into the dark ages."

Jack suppressed a laugh at the mention of the Spanish Inquisition, which brought to mind an old Monty Python sketch that amused him immensely, but he knew Daniel was in earnest and would be hurt if he laughed, so kept a straight face. His friend was right and the scenario he painted was not an appetising prospect.

"We'll find a way to defeat them," he said aloud.

"We have no idea how to fight them. How do you kill something that can make life out of death?"

"Tried a gun?" Jack retorted facetiously.

"That is not the answer to everything." Daniel pursed his lips, looking slightly annoyed at the retort.

"I know that."

"Where do we even make a start?"

"I don't know, Daniel, but I knew I had a good reason for not wanting you to go on that little vacation to Atlantis." Daniel's eyes narrowed at that comment but Jack pressed on, "These guys serve Ancients, don't they? You're our resident Ancient expert. We'll figure it out."

"I wish I had that much faith."

"Well, I've got enough of it for both of us. Wanna share?" Jack smiled fondly at his friend.

"I don't know anything about this particular breed of Ancients, Jack. If you're relying on my knowledge we are in deep trouble."

"I've relied on your knowledge before, Daniel. I know you're up to it. Jeez, you've saved my butt a few times. When we first went to Abydos you didn't have a clue how to get us home, but you did it anyway."

Jack was thinking, 'and I hadn't planned on coming home. If not for you...', but said nothing, and Daniel was thinking something along similar lines, but kept his own council too. They never talked about that and probably never would.

"I've created more problems than I've solved."

"That's not true and you know it."

"I don't know it."

"Then trust me. I know it."

"Jack..."

"No, now it's my turn. You've bent my ear, so it's time I returned the favor." Spotting Daniel open his mouth he raised a finger to his face and wagged it, "Ah! Oh no you don't."

He paused momentarily, considering his words and decided to simply go with the flow. Too much thinking made his brain hurt. Don't think, act. That was one of the many Jack O'Neill credos, although some people made the mistake of believing this meant he didn't think, which was totally untrue. Jack was constantly on the alert and prepared for almost any kind of shit hitting the fan, although was a master at improvisation too. This was one of the reasons he was so good at his job.

"I know you and I have had our differences over the years," Jack continued, "we hardly ever agree about anything, b-but..." Now he had started he was uncertain of himself and faltered, and then decided that all he could do was blunder on regardless, "but I could never have wished for a better team mate, or friend."

Daniel raised his eyebrows in surprise and his glasses almost slipped off his nose, so he reached to push them back up, feeling flattered, but also slightly uncomfortable. This was unexpected. Even when he'd been dying of radiation poisoning Jack hadn't managed to summon adequate words, and now this. He focussed on Jack's words closely, not wanting to miss a single one.

"If we can't have some faith that we'll prevail we might as well pack up and go home right now. We've faced a lot together, Daniel, and we're both still here, alive and whole. We've changed because of each other, and probably for the better in my case, although you might wanna think twice about that in yours," he kidded and Daniel smirked right on cue.

"Despite everything you may think to the contrary, I trust you, totally and completely. You've earned it and not so many people do. I might be in Washington, but we were one heck of a team, and still are. Even though we don't go out there as SG-1 anymore, we have to believe we'll beat this thing; you, me Carter and Teal'c, no matter where we are or what we're doing. We'll beat it together like we always have. I'm only a phone call or plane ride away. I'll be there, always. You can count on that."

Daniel was momentarily dumbstruck, and a huge lump materialised in his throat, but he managed to stammer a response, of sorts.

"I-I... well Jack... I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything. Maybe it's better if you don't. It's enough that you're still around, old friend. Teal'c and Carter, well they might be preoccupied right now, but I bet they'd drop everything and come running if either one of us said the word. I miss the hell out of all three of you, but I know any of you would do that for me if I asked."

"You probably wouldn't ask," Daniel said, and Jack snorted in response.

"I might," he added to the snort, "it depends."

"On what?" Daniel asked, but seeing his friend's expression added, "Scrap that question. Jack, I'm a little overwhelmed. Has someone stolen the Jack O'Neill I know and replaced him with a different guy?" Jack laughed.

"Anything is possible. Look, I said all that because I think you needed to know it right now, Daniel. Maybe you already knew it, but even if you did, you still needed to hear it. Maybe I said too much. I didn't mean to embarrass you."

Jack realised that he was himself embarrassed. His words had all just come tumbling out. Although he meant every one of them, it wasn't like him to actually confess it, but he now understood that both of them needed to have this conversation. Somehow it seemed the right thing to do.

"Embarrass me? I guess I do feel a little... something, although I honestly don't know what that feeling is at the moment. Somehow I don't think embarrassment covers it. A little stunned, maybe. Actually, a lot stunned."

A shy look appeared on his features and he smiled, and tucked back into his pizza and beer, quickly polishing off the rapidly cooling food. Having already finished his pizza, Jack took a few mouthfuls of beer and sat back watching Daniel eat. He said nothing more, thinking he'd said enough already, probably way too much, but he figured it was working, so was worth it. Daniel looked way more relaxed, and the haunted look in his eyes had almost vanished.

When Daniel finished he decided it was his turn to ask the questions and get a few answers, although he didn't anticipate gleaning that much information for his troubles.

"What about you, Jack? You look tired," he asked.

"I told you, we aren't here to talk about me."

"Okay. But that doesn't actually stop us from doing it, does it?"

Jack sighed, knowing that he had to throw Daniel a small bone to satisfy him.

"You think I look tired? You ever tried living in Washington D.C.?"

"You miss Colorado?"

"Not so much Colorado; the people, the mountain... although I have to admit that Colorado Springs is definitely more my kind of town."

"Joking aside, Jack, you do look kinda beat."

"Are you gonna go at this all night?"

"Probably."

"That could be my cue to leave... I have some work to do before going to bed."

"Oh, come on, I hardly see you anymore."

"I would have thought you'd be celebrating," Jack joked, eliciting a small smile from the archaeologist.

"There are things I miss too."

"Yeah?"

"Sure. You are a little conspicuous by your absence, to say the least."

"Now there's a back handed compliment if I ever heard one."

"I must have spent waaay too much time in your company."

"Gee, thanks."

"Seriously, Jack, you said something earlier about concern? That's a two-way street, you know? I guess it's hopeless asking if you're okay because I'll only get your standard 'I'm fine' in response anyway but, hey, I'll stick my neck out. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, Daniel," Jack chortled, "feeling much better actually."

"Better than what?"

Jack sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Would you accept better than before I sat having a pizza and cold beer with an old friend?" Daniel grinned in response.

"I might. Run it by me and I'll let you know."

"I'll let you into a secret," Jack replied and Daniel leaned closer, "there is a serious lack of humor in Washington. You know how tetchy that makes me. All those grim faces, a whole damned sea of them day in and day out; it gives me a headache."

Daniel was still reeling from Jack's earlier words about him. He certainly hadn't expected anything like that and felt slightly elated. He was truly honoured that Jack had such a high opinion of him, and that the man had expressed it, which was a minor miracle in itself.

He was, however, disappointed by his friend's jocular dismissal of his concerns, but figured he should have known better. There was probably only so much truth and openness Jack could stomach at one time, and this was almost their full 10 years worth in one conversation. He should be grateful for what he got, which had been more than he would ever have believed, so he swallowed his disappointment.

Jack had taken on a lot of extra responsibility over such a short period of time. Only just over a year ago he'd been a Colonel with responsibility for a team of three, and the whole freaking universe it sometimes seemed, but that was not the point. Now he was a Major General - two whole stars on his epaulettes, a fact that made Daniel pleased and proud - and was in charge of Homeworld Security, lots and lots of people, and the whole freaking universe for real, at least from Earth's perspective.

It was an unusually fast leap, particularly by military standards. Daniel knew his friend had worried about his capabilities in running a much smaller operation at the SGC and wondered what he was thinking about all of that now, but knew better than to ask. He thought he'd become the man back then, but now he really was THE MAN, and probably deserved to look tired. No doubt he'd earned it with many restless nights worrying about the fate of the universe and beyond. Who wouldn't be tired when they were shouldering the weight of the universe? The thought helped Daniel put his own fears into perspective.

"You're never gonna feel at home there, are you?" he asked, hoping for another opportunity to probe further.

"What do you think? The place is full of politicians. It sucks! Not only that but I can't slob around in BDUs anymore and the mess hall at the Pentagon makes crap jello. How do you screw up jello for crying out loud? But it does serve a pretty mean cake once in a while, which almost makes it all seem worthwhile."

Daniel's nose had puckered into a grin of its own as Jack spoke.

"So," Jack continued before he could respond, "the answer to your question is yeah I'm fine, under the circumstances, although if I hang around in Washington for too long I might just turn slowly nuts. Give me the Goa'uld, or the Ori, any day of the week over politics."

"I think I'd take the politics."

"Shame we can't swap. How did George deal with it? The man is a walking miracle. One look at him and the Ori will turn tail and run back to their own galaxy. General George Hammond is our secret weapon."

"And I always figured that was you."

Never one for accepting compliments gracefully, Jack flushed pink and shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Daniel smiled to himself, amused by the reaction.

"I guess I feel more confident knowing you'll be around, Jack."

"Maybe we should start a mutual admiration society," Jack countered sarcastically.

"I mean it!"

"I know you do, Daniel, and that's... kind of cool," he was trying to hide his embarrassment without success and decided to shift the thrust of their conversation, "but you are right, I am tired. I could use a good night's sleep."

Daniel sensed their evening was drawing to a close but asked anyway.

"Perhaps you should go to bed. I can leave..."

"No! Going to bed sounds great, but I have work to do, and then I've got to be at Peterson real early, for Mitchell's surprise."

"Peterson?"

"Oh man, am I looking forward to that! Some things just never get old." Jack rubbed his hands together gleefully and Daniel looked puzzled. "I'm flying tomorrow. Now that's what I call a rush."

"Flying?"

"Yeah. A whiz around the world in an F-302 ought to get that old adrenaline pumping."

"You're taking Mitchell out in an F-302?"

"More accurately, he's taking me."

"Second saddle huh?"

"I might persuade him to let me take control for a few minutes, but he's the one that needs to be flying."

"Oh! I get it. He hasn't flown since the crash?"

"No. It's time he got back on his bike or he might never ride one again without falling off."

"He doesn't know?"

"Not yet."

"What if he doesn't want to do it?"

"He's never gonna refuse to take a General out for a spin."

"Especially not his hero, General Jack O'Neill?"

"Am I his hero?"

"I figure."

"Sweet!"

"What if he falls off, Jack? What if he's lost it? You're taking a bit of a risk, aren't you?"

"You know me and risks. Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em."

"Jack!"

"He needs to do it and I'm gonna force it. Daniel, he deserves our thanks, and this is one way I can thank him, so I'm pleased to do it."

"Giving him SG-1 wasn't thanks enough?"

"SG-1 without the S, the G or the one. That is not what he wanted, or deserved. Besides, you think I'm gonna pass up the chance for a joy ride in an F-302?"

"Yeah, well say hello to the Ort Cloud on your way past, will ya?" Daniel retorted, referring to Jack and Teal'c's close brush with death in the converted death glider a few years before.

"Oh, funny. Hilarious, actually. I'd rather not recall that particular unpleasant moment in my life, thanks. There's something about freezing to death without any oxygen that is just wrong on so many levels. Anyway, you know that is not gonna happen this time. This is no test run. The F-302 is tried and tested."

"But what about the pilot?"

"There's not a better F-302 pilot in the universe. He's a hot shot."

"Was."

"And will be again, after tomorrow. What's wrong, Daniel, worried?"

"No, not worried. Let's just say I'm concerned."

Jack snickered at Daniel's use of the words he'd used earlier, but said nothing, and Daniel didn't really expect him to. After that, they returned to the trivialities of life and Daniel couldn't turn the conversation around, so gave up trying.

It didn't seem like long before Jack was making moves to go and get on with some work before bedding down for the night, but it turned out that the friends had been talking for a couple of hours or more. It had been a good night and both men felt more like themselves than they had for a while.

"Enjoy your flight with Mitchell, Jack. I'm sure the sun will shine out of all your orifices," Daniel quipped in an O'Neill like way as he followed Jack out into the corridors of the SGC. Jack chuckled but shrugged off the comment with a casual remark.

"Ack! Can't see why I would be his hero, Daniel."

They both grinned and Jack was getting into the elevator when the younger man lightly grasped his arm.

"Why wouldn't you be his hero Jack? You're one of mine."

Jack peered at him in astonishment for a while before he spoke.

"Cool! You know, I-I think that feeling might be k-kinda mutual."

Jack grinned shyly and turned on his heel, pressing the elevator button and leaving Daniel stunned and gawping after him opened mouthed. If he someday won the Nobel prize, it could never be an accolade as high as the one bestowed on him in that moment by Jack O'Neill. The man could be grumpy, pig-headed and a pain in the mikta but sometimes, just sometimes, he knew exactly the right thing to do and say.

Daniel Jackson felt like a million dollars, his fear suddenly washed away, at least for now. Jack had done what he set out to do; he had worked the miracle that only a good friend can.

The End


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