Title: “Feeling the Abyss” MC Word for March
Spoilers: Daniel’s Ascension and Return – the Abyss.
Sequel/Series Info: none
CONTENT LEVEL: C
Content Warnings none
Summary: The anniversary of an unpleasant event leads to conversation for Jack and Daniel
Disclaimer: Stargate SG1 and its characters are the property of showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions This story has been written for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. All original characters are my own - yada yada yada - In other words - I don't own these guys. I never will....I just like to play with them now and then.
Feedback: Yes Please! Constructive criticism to intended to help me improve in the craft of writing is appreciated. Flames are not!
File Size: 40 kb
Archive: Jackfic. All others please ask.
Author’s Notes: My thanks to Wendy for beta-reading. I really appreciate it.
Daniel Jackson entered the commissary at the SGC, looking for Jack O’Neill. He spotted his friend sitting in the back corner, files spread out over the table in front of him. Daniel stood there for a moment, observing his friend closely. He knew that something was up. Something was not right with Jack O’Neill. Daniel was sure of it, and he wanted to get to the bottom of it.
Jack O’Neill was sitting alone. There were enough files in front of him that O’Neill knew that no one would dare approach him except for SG1. Everybody on base knew better than to get in Colonel O’Neill’s way when the General had finally compelled him to complete his paperwork. Except Daniel knew something the rest of the base didn’t know. Jack O’Neill had already handed in everything that the General required from him. Daniel Jackson had dropped off his own obligatory reports and forms the day before, and General Hammond had made a off-hand remark about this being the first time that Colonel O’Neill had his paperwork done and handed in before the rest of his team. Daniel had been shocked, wondering what would induce Jack O’Neill to take on the piles of reports on his desk. It was Daniel’s first clue that something was going on with his friend.
The next indication came this morning. Teal’c joined Daniel for breakfast and mentioned during their conversation that the Colonel had declined his offer of a sparring match because of the need to finish some reports. It was a good excuse. Everyone knew that Jack O’Neill never touched his paperwork until forced to do so. Teal’c had accepted the excuse without question. Only Daniel knew that the reason was a lie.
After lunch Major Samantha Carter had interrupted Daniel from a stone tablet he was translating for SG27. She wanted to know if he’d like to grab some coffee. Sam mentioned that she had invited the Colonel for lunch earlier, but he was entrenched in the piles of paper on his desk, and turned down her offer. That was the last straw for Daniel. He knew something serious was going on with Jack O’Neill, and he was going to find out what it was.
Daniel had a meeting to brief the team from SG27 on the tablet, but as soon as that was completed, he started to track down Jack O’Neill. The first place he checked was the last place he would ordinarily have looked - Jack’s office. Daniel approached that wing of the complex to find it in total darkness. A passing airman informed Daniel that Sergeant Siler had been doing maintenance on that level, and there was currently no power. When asked about Colonel O’Neill, the airman mentioned seeing him heading towards the commissary, files in hand.
Now Daniel stood at the door of the commissary, gazing over at Jack O’Neill, who was pretending to work on the various files in front of him. It was obvious that all was not as it seemed. Daniel observed Jack stare blankly at the files, seeming not to read them at all, and then making doodles on pieces of paper. Daniel could tell that the files were intended as a wall, to deter people from approaching the Colonel. “So,” Daniel asked himself. “What is significant about today?” He cast through his memories, trying to detect what the problem might be. Nothing came to mind.
Daniel filled his coffee cup still staring at Jack, who had stationed himself at a table in the corner of the commissary. The frown on Jack’s face virtually blared ‘Don’t bother me’ to everyone who saw him. And it was working well. Almost every table in that section of the commissary was empty. Daniel could see through the mask that Jack O’Neill wore that something was very wrong. Usually the Colonel used action and sarcastic humour to deter people from asking questions he didn’t want to answer. Using paperwork as a wall would be a last resort for him. Daniel mused that whatever was bothering Jack O’Neill must be a lot more serious than he initially thought. Others were giving O’Neill a wide berth, leaving him to deal with the files on the table. Daniel Jackson wouldn’t allow that to hinder the task he had set for himself. He would sift through this situation until he managed to detect what was wrong with Jack, and help his friend.
Daniel grabbed a couple of pieces of cake, and approached the table. “Hi, Jack!” he said, curiously. “What’s up?”
Jack glanced up. His eyes were dark, and anger lurked in their depths. ‘Whoa,’ thought Daniel. ‘I didn’t expect this.’ Apparently the ‘don’t bother me’ look applied to SG1, as well. Daniel chose not to take the hint, and sat down across from Jack, placing one of the two pieces of cake in front of his friend.
“Can’t you see
I’m busy here,
“I can see you
have files in front of you. I also know
you’re caught up on your paperwork. So,
I say again, what’s up?”
“Daniel. I’m not in any mood for this. I have papers in front of me. I am working on them.” Jack glared at the man sitting across from him, as he spat out, “Hence the term – ‘paperwork’. Now leave me alone!”
Daniel leaned forward, oblivious to the anger seething below the surface of Jack’s voice. “Not going to happen, Jack.” Daniel said, firmly. “I’m here because something is wrong. I want to know what. You can’t fight your way out of this.” Daniel was stunned when Jack physically flinched at those words. “Jack, let me help you!” he finished.
“Daniel.” O’Neill ground out over clenched teeth. “Just leave me alone. Now! Or I swear to God, I’ll…” He did not finish the sentence. Daniel could see fury lurking behind Jack’s granite visage; fury that was directed at him, personally, and he didn’t know why.
“Jack,” Daniel whispered harshly. “What is this about? You’re scaring me. Did I do something?” He paused as Jack glanced away across the room, averting his eyes. “Oh, Lord. I did.” Daniel’s voice was anguished, his face ashen. “What? When?” Jack flinched again, and Daniel knew the answer. “While I was ascended,” he breathed out, wretchedly. “What happened?”
Jack O’Neill looked back at Daniel Jackson, the fury simmering now too close to the surface to even temper his words. He snarled. “You let me die. Again and again. Painfully and horribly. And you could have stopped it.”
Daniel Jackson cast back his memory of the mission reports he had read about what SG1 had encountered during the time he had been ascended. He remembered reading one about Jack and the system lord, Ba’al. The report had mentioned torture, and the sarcophagus, but nothing about Daniel’s presence there.
“I was there?” he repeated, desolately. “On Ba’als ship? And I didn’t stop it?”
“You WOUDN’T stop it. I asked you to,” Jack said bitterly. “You kept trying to get me to ascend. But I saw what it did to you, and I NEVER would have let it happen to me. You were an apathetic jackass of an ascended being, believing yourself superior to the rest of the universe. You had the ability to change things, but you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t even save your friend from unimaginable pain.” The door had been opened, and the words rushed out from Jack’s tormented psyche unabated, a bitter diatribe corroding the memory of friendship. “I thought you were my best friend, but you let Ba’al torture me to death again and again. Knives, acid, beatings – and those were only the beginning.” Jack’s voice was low and harsh. The words could not be heard from even a few tables away, but anyone in the commissary could tell from the body language that O’Neill was furious. “You could have stopped it.” Jack glared at Daniel, “But you ‘chose’ not to.”
“How many times?” Daniel whispered helplessly, looking down at the table.
Jack shrugged. The pencil he was holding in his hand broke in two as his hand clenched in response to the painful memory. “I lost count after a dozen,” he lied. Jack actually remembered every one of the 23 deaths very vividly, still waking in a cold sweat from nightmares of some of them. “It was a year ago today that Kanan dropped me off there. And then I spent every day for weeks dying again and again.” Jack’s words were low, but the tone was harsh and unforgiving. Daniel had no doubt that everything he said was the truth.
“I can’t defend my actions, Jack,” Daniel whispered, devastation obvious in his tone. “I don’t even remember most of what happened when I was ascended. But from what I hear, I hate what that ‘ascended self’ was.” Daniel looked up from the table, into O’Neill’s face. “Before this year, if you told me that I would be so full of myself that I wouldn’t help people when they needed it, I would have laughed. I would have told you that you were insane.”
Daniel averted his eyes from Jack’s face. When Daniel looked back up, the raw agony flickering over his face was overwhelming. “When I hear these stories, it’s like torture for me. To think that I would turn into this … this creature.” Daniel’s voice was filled with self-loathing. “This so-called ascended being that would allow my best friend to be tortured without stopping it – without saving him. I hate it. I hate myself for ever allowing it. It’s worse than the goa’uld,” Daniel spat out. “At least then the host has an excuse for the evil the symbiote does. He can’t do a thing about it. But lack of action when action is justified is just as bad as being the one who perpetrates the evil. It’s just a different kind of evil.” Daniel’s hands were clenched into fists; his voice filled with revulsion. “I can’t defend myself, because I wasn’t the host to a goa’uld. It wasn’t as if some evil creature had taken me over. I allowed it. I chose it. That was me. And I hate myself for it.”
Daniel glanced over the table at Jack; unshed tears visible in his eyes. “I’m sorry Jack,” Daniel said, softly, his voice breaking. “I can’t even imagine why you would want to be my friend after that. I’ll get out of your hair.” He stood abruptly, and began to walk away. One glance at Daniel’s face showed Jack that his friend wasn’t okay, and wasn’t going to be. Jack reached out and grasped Daniel’s arm, holding him in place.
“Daniel, sit,” O’Neill sighed.
Daniel sat back down, unable to look at Jack’s face. He kept his eyes focused on his coffee cup. He tried to take a drink, but his hands were shaking so much that coffee spilled over the sides of the half-filled cup onto the table below.
Jack shook his head wearily. In his wildest dreams he had never imagined that he would have to be the one to comfort Daniel for the things that happened with Ba’al. He would have to put aside his own fury. He should have dealt with it long ago. For this moment, he needed to help Daniel.
“Danny-boy” Jack said softly. “You couldn’t help what you became. Oma never told you what would happen to you if you accepted her offer. But you’re here now, and I’m glad of it. Today – well, today I’m more than a bit on edge, but I’ll get over it. But I want you to know that I never doubted your friendship. Even in that cell when I threw a shoe through your head, I knew you were there only because I was your friend.”
Daniel set the coffee cup down. His eyes glanced up, catching Jack’s, and seeing the truth in them. He looked hopeful, almost desperately so. He focused his eyes on Jack’s face.
Jack breathed out harshly as he continued, “And I was glad you were there with me, even if you wouldn’t do anything to help physically. I don’t know if I could have held out that long otherwise. I remember how often I died.” Now Jack looked down at the table, his hands pressed tightly around his coffee cup. “I remember all of the awful, painful deaths - and believe me, I’m glad you don’t. But you were there. And that counts for a lot in my book. Just being there did help. A bit.” Jack’s voiced ended on a whisper. His face was white with the memory of pain, and death.
He shook it off, and looked up. “And I’m glad you’re here now and back to your old self. I knew that you couldn’t stay ascended for long, not after I saw what they’d made you. You would never have just stood by in the face of horrible evil, and done nothing. So you broke their rules, and you’re back with us.”
“But if I’d helped you get away from Ba’al, then…” Daniel said, slowly.
“Then you wouldn’t have been able to help Teal’c when he needed it, and we would have lost him,” O’Neill interjected. “Its okay, Danny. I’m sorry I’m not in the head-space that I can move beyond this, today. It’s a rough day, but I will get over it. The first anniversary of anything is bad. Trust me on this. But even back then, in that place, I knew that the only reason you were there was because I was your friend.” Daniel looked as if Jack had thrown him a life preserver, and maybe he had.
Jack sighed. “Daniel. It will be okay. We will be okay. I’m not saying it will be easy. I was hoping to get through today and the rest of this week without facing this, but I’m glad we had this talk. You need to know that I forgave you a long time ago. But I’ve learned over the years that forgiving isn’t always easy. Frank taught me that.” O’Neill leaned forward, making sure that Daniel understood what he was trying to say. “Sometimes forgiveness is something you have to work on, and choose to do more than once. Sometimes the memory lingers, and needs to be dealt with more than once.” Jack stared down at the cup in his hands, and took a deep breath. He looked up again, intensity burning in his eyes as he said, “But we will be okay. We have a good foundation.”
Daniel took that at face value, and nodded. “Yeah, we will. We do.” They sat there in silence for a few minutes. Jack looked more at peace. The fury was gone from his voice, although his eyes still held an echo of pain. Jack O’Neill glanced over at Daniel, and was relieved to see that the desolation and despair were gone from the eyes of his friend. Daniel’s eyes held hope now, and a cautious optimism. Jack smiled at his friend. It was his first real smile that week, and it felt good.
Jack picked up the piece of cake that Daniel brought for him, and began eating it, not worrying about crumbs getting in the paperwork. His need to deter people from approaching him was over. Daniel’s need to detect the cause of Jack’s anguish had done the trick, and between the two of them, they managed to defend their friendship. Jack pushed the protective files to one side, and a comforting awareness settled over him that his friend would support him to the death, and beyond.