Unrequited ~ Part 1
by Graculus

"Ah me! For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth..."
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Act 1, Scene 1

"What do you mean, 'I love you'?" Jack snapped, his eyes suddenly cold and dark, unreadable.

Daniel wavered slightly, seeming to visibly move back in the face of this unexpected reaction.

It had been weeks, maybe months, that he had been steeling himself for this day - hoping against all hope that he would find the nerve, the opportunity, to express how he felt for this man, his friend. And now it had all gone horribly wrong.

Daniel was left feeling like a grenade had gone off in his face, leaving him broken and bleeding on the floor.

How could I have misjudged things so badly? he wondered, as Jack stormed out of his apartment. The colonel slammed the door behind him, so hard that it bounced back out again, finally standing ajar, still vibrating slightly with the way Jack had rushed through it. I've really blown it now.


What the hell did he think he was doing, telling me that? Jack thought furiously to himself as he stalked down the apartment complex' stairs, his boots echoing hollowly in the stairwell.

He was not proud of his reaction. He had seen the hurt in Daniel's eyes, written large for all the world to see, like every emotion Daniel experienced. And the vehemence of his actions, the overwhelming nature of his need to run away, to get as far from Daniel as possible in as short a period of time, that had scared Jack a little.

A small voice in the back of Jack's mind taunted him.

He's a better man than you are, O'Neill, it said, at least he's not scared to say how he feels about you.

"Shut up... shut up," Jack muttered angrily to himself, oblivious to the looks he received from a woman who passed him on the stairs as he was speaking. "It's better this way, it has to be."

Better for who? the voice enquired, sneering now. Daniel sure looked like he was much happier that you treated him this way. Just imagine if you'd told him how you really feel!

Jack was silent now, fumbling with his car keys as he got into his jeep. He chanced a look up at the windows of Daniel's apartment, his eyes seeming to go there automatically, then looked down, his face burning with shame, when he saw a shape there against the light. Daniel.

You could go back... the voice whispered, solemn now.

Instead, Jack shifted the jeep into gear and drove away, not looking back again at the man who stood silhouetted there.


Monday morning came around, as it always does. This Monday dawned wet and cold, the winter starting to draw in with a vengeance, dark clouds threatening to offload their contents on the mountains below.

SG1 were due to go on a mission later that day, and had gathered in the briefing room, Carter chattering about her recent visit to her brother and his family in San Diego, Teal'c expressing a solemn statement that he was glad she had returned.

Jack watched the proceedings with a benevolent feeling inside him, glad that his major's trip had gone so well. If he kept on thinking about Carter, concentrating on her enjoyment of her time away, then he was free to ignore the fact that Daniel had yet to arrive.

As the minutes ticked by, the hour of their meeting approaching, Jack noticed Carter frown slightly, breaking off an anecdote about the precociousness of her brother's children and glance towards the door.

"Should I phone Daniel's office?" she asked, looking back at Jack. He shrugged. "He may just be running late, or he might have forgotten we were meeting...."

"Be my guest," Jack replied, settling back in the chair, his hands busy with a pen.

Carter crossed quickly to the phone, all the while keeping an eye out for the arrival of General Hammond. She phoned one number, then waited, but there was clearly no answer - her frown deepened as she dialled another.

"Is that security? This is Major Carter. Has Dr. Jackson signed in this morning?" she said, her voice calm and professional in the extreme. "I see. Thank you."

Carter cradled the handset, then stood for a moment in silence before she turned back to the table, her eyes going straight to the colonel.

"Daniel hasn't signed in this morning, sir," she said quietly, her voice shaded with worry. "Did you see anything of him this weekend? Maybe he's ill...." Carter's voice trailed off, knowing that this was unlikely, that Daniel would have called first to let them know.

Tell her! the voice in Jack's head screamed.

"I saw him on Saturday," Jack said, his voice far more calm than he was feeling inside - his heart was beginning to pound, his mind starting to race. "He was fine then."

But that was before you tore his heart out and stomped on it, O'Neill, the voice reminded him.

Daniel's face came unbidden to his mind - blue eyes wide open as Jack snapped at him, his lower lip trembling slightly as the colonel stormed out of his apartment. Then came more images, terrible ones - Daniel slumped in a chair, his eyes red and swollen from crying, his friend in the depths of despair because he hadn't had the courage to tell him the truth.

Coward, the small voice said. Call yourself an officer? All your years of serving your country, all those medals, they mean nothing now - balance them up against what you did to Daniel, compare them with the courage he showed...


It was Carter's voice, cutting through the mocking tones of his internal dialogue. Jack realised suddenly that it had been a couple of minutes since he had spoken, and Carter's sharp blue eyes were focussed intently on him, as if mapping his face for future study.

"Is something wrong, sir?" she persisted, coming over to lean on the table near where Jack was seated, her voice barely this side of respectful.

"You had an argument with Daniel about something..." she continued, still looking at Jack, waiting for his rebuttal, words which never came. "You did, didn't you? And now..." One of Carter's hands went to her mouth, as if she needed to hold her heart inside, her eyes flashing with a sudden anger on her friend's behalf. "Where is he?"

"I have no idea, Carter," Jack said with a sigh. He looked up at her then, his eyes locking with his subordinate in a silent plea for her not to press the issue.

Just then, the door to the briefing room swung open, and Hammond entered.

His eyes flicked across the tableau before him - Jack seated in his customary chair, holding a pen tightly between his hands, as if he were about to snap it, his eyes locked with Carter's. She in turn was standing in front of the general's usual chair, her hands flat on the table as she leaned towards the colonel. Even Teal'c was involved - leaning forward intently, he had clearly been watching this debate with interest.

Even as three pairs of eyes, brown and blue, turned to him, Hammond noticed the empty chairs, the missing team member and frowned slightly. That at least explained the looks of concern that had been so swiftly replaced when he walked into the room.

Circling round the table, Hammond watched Carter move to take the seat next to Jack - the general settled himself in his chair before he spoke, but by then all three pairs of eyes were firmly focussed on him.

"And where is Dr. Jackson?" Hammond asked, looking first at Jack, then round at the other team members as silence continued.

"We don't know, sir," Carter said finally. Hammond sighed.

He knew that there was no way, despite two of the team being military personnel, that he could send SG1 off-planet understrength like this. It would be foolish - he had already detected an undercurrent of hostility between Jack and Carter, as the major was practically bristling with a barely suppressed anger. Not only that, but he knew better than to expect them to concentrate on mission objectives with one of their number missing. There was no alternative.

"Then find him, SG-1," he snapped. "Dr. Jackson may be a civilian, but I would appreciate it if you could instill in him some respect for the way we do things round here. Colonel, that is your responsibility. Until you find him, and your team can prepare properly for this mission, which, may I remind you, is why we are here in the first place, then SG-1 is going nowhere. Dismissed."


The three team members trooped out of the briefing room, with Carter watching Jack intently all the time. Her eyes seemed to bore into the back of Jack's head, and he felt the skin between his shoulder-blades itch, as if someone was about to plunge a knife in there.

In the corridor outside, once the door had closed behind them, Jack headed in the direction of his office, and found that Carter was hot on his heels.

"Colonel!" Carter said sharply.

Jack sighed, knowing that his major was furious with him - she had discerned that the reason why Daniel wasn't here at the moment had something to do with him, but he didn't have time for this. Not now. He had to get over to Daniel's apartment. He had to.

"Yes, Carter?" he replied, not slowing his pace as he headed for the elevator.

"What's going on? Where are you going?"

Jack paused at the elevator doors, his foot tapping impatiently as he waited for the car to descend.

"Where am I going?" he repeated, his eyes fixed on the display of numbers, watching each light as it flicked on, then off again. "I'm going to find Daniel."

"Are you sure that's a good idea, sir?" Carter said, stepping round in front of him as the elevator doors opened. Jack stepped round her, making a small impatient noise as she turned, still standing so that the doors to the car couldn't close. "If he's not here because you argued the other day..." Her voice trailed off.

Jack could almost hear the tumblers ticking over inside her mind, the myriad calculations, all covering the subject 'what could Jack and Daniel argue about that was so bad that....' - suddenly her eyes widened and she stepped forward. The elevator doors closed, and Jack leaned over, his arm pushing past Carter, and he pressed the button for the surface.

"Sir?" Carter's voice was strained, her eyes still wide and fixed on Jack's face, as if the woman were seeking confirmation of her theory.

"I'm going, Major," Jack said quietly, not looking at her. "Alone."

There was silence between them, the only sound the hum of the elevator as it rose smoothly towards the surface.

When it stopped, the doors slid open and Jack walked out, pushing past Carter. He expected to hear her argue, her footsteps following his, but there was no sound at all from behind him. After a couple of paces, Jack turned, looking back towards the elevator car. Carter was still there, watching him walk away, her arms crossed. Then the doors slid closed and Jack was alone.


The drive to Daniel's apartment building was an uneventful one - a trip Jack had made so many times before, he could almost do it on auto-pilot.

He ran up the stairs, his mind going back despite his protests, to the last time he had been here, the anger he had felt at Daniel. Not because, he knew, he felt any differently towards Daniel than he said he did towards Jack, but because he had been afraid. Even thinking about what had happened between them brought Jack out in a cold sweat.

Jack reached Daniel's apartment door and hammered on it with his fist.

What he wanted to happen was for the last 48 hours to have never happened. For a sleepy-eyed Daniel to open the door, to say he had overslept, to look embarrassed about his oversight. Anything but what Jack suspected, what he feared was the truth.

There was no answer.

A man passed the apartment, looking back at Jack over his shoulder as he turned the corner.

Never seen an Air Force colonel before? Jack thought caustically as he raised his fist and hammered on the door again.

"Open the door, Daniel," he said loudly.

After a few moments of silence, Jack heard movement inside the apartment, a shuffling sound as someone approached the other side of the door.

"Go away," a voice said.

"You know I can't do that," Jack said.

"Why not?" the voice said, cracking slightly on the words. "You ran out of here quick enough the other day..."


"Open the door, Daniel," Jack repeated, trying to keep the anger that was rising inside him from taking over again.

"Just leave me alone, Jack," the voice pleaded. "My resignation from the project is in the mail, Hammond will get it later today. I can't do this any more. It's over."

Jack heard the shuffling sound again - footsteps moved away from the door. Then a sigh, and a slight creaking noise told him that Daniel had thrown himself on the ancient sofa that dominated his living room.

"Come on, Daniel," Jack said, his voice lower now. "If you think I'm leaving here without talking to you, you've got another think coming."

Just for effect, Jack hammered on the door again with his fist - a movement caught his eye, as a door opened up the corridor and a woman's face peered out. He scowled at her, and the face disappeared again, the door closing hastily.

"One of your neighbours is on the phone to the police right now," Jack continued. "So, if you don't want them to come and arrest me, you'd better let me in, 'cause I have no intention of going anywhere."

From inside the apartment, Jack heard Daniel sigh, then sounds of him coming to the door. After some clunking sounds as the locks were opened, the door opened slowly, revealing Daniel's face.

"Jeez," Jack exclaimed, unable to stop himself. "You look like shit!"

Nice line, O'Neill, the voice inside his head mocked. Every one a winner!

"What do you want, Jack?" Daniel asked, his voice weary.

His eyes were bloodshot, red-rimmed - his chin covered with stubble, his hair in disarray. With a sinking heart, Jack realised that Daniel was also still wearing the same clothes he had been dressed in nearly 48 hours beforehand.

"I want to come in," he said quietly, "and then I want to know what the hell is going on with you."

Daniel snorted, a bitter laugh pushed down with effort. With an ironic smile, he stepped back, allowing the door to the apartment to swing open and allow Jack in. Jack entered quickly, his eyes adjusting to the artificial light - even though it was daylight outside, in Daniel's apartment all the curtains were drawn, and the only light came from a couple of reading lamps.

As Jack walked over to the window, to throw the curtains open and let some natural light in, he stumbled over something lying on the floor in his path. Stooping to pick it up, Jack found that it was one of Daniel's journals. He had been so used to seeing these volumes, lined up neatly on a shelf, one for each mission, that Jack was surprised to see one so casually laid aside.

When he went to replace the journal with its companions, he saw that the collection was incomplete - looking round where he was standing, he could see a number of volumes scattered about the living room. Some were piled on the coffee table, others littered the sofa, still more were strewn across the floor.

Daniel had followed him as he crossed the room, returning to his place on the sofa - as he passed Jack, Daniel's hand came out and snagged the journal from Jack's fingers, and he held the volume against his chest, as if he gained some comfort from it.

"What happened?" Jack blurted out, crossing to the window and throwing open the curtains.

As light swept into the room, Jack saw Daniel flinch, his free hand coming up to shade his eyes.

Shit, he thought, he looks even worse in daylight.

Feeling proud of yourself now? a small voice mocked.

"What happened?" Daniel echoed, his tone close to that of the voice in Jack's head. He sighed, resting his head back against the sofa as he looked up sadly at Jack. "I told you. I can't do this any more."

Jack's heart melted - seeing his friend like this, he knew in a heartbeat that he had indeed done what the voice in his head had been accusing him of doing. He had destroyed his friend as surely as if he had put a gun to his head and blown his brains out. If Daniel had not been the man he was, he would be raging by now, screaming at Jack to get out, not sitting there so passively, waiting for the colonel to speak again.

Jack sank into a nearby chair, his eyes still on his stricken friend.

"I... I'm sorry," he whispered.

"You're sorry?" Daniel echoed, his voice uncertain. "You acted like I slapped you in the face and you're sorry?" Silence. "What did you think I'd do, Jack?" Daniel continued, his eyes hard and cold. "Did you think I'd come back to the SGC this morning as if nothing had happened, that we could pretend that I never told you how I feel about you? I told you.... I... can't... do... this."

"What do you want me to do?" Jack said quietly, his words falling into the silence between them after Daniel had ground out his last few words.

"Why is it always about you?" Daniel replied, his free hand coming to join the other one, his fingers stroking the material of the journal's bindings absently as he spoke. "Some things can't be fixed, you just have to live with the fact that they're broken."

"Daniel... I... " Jack began, not sure what he meant to say next.

"Just go, Jack," Daniel said, closing his eyes.


Well, you got what you wanted, the voice inside Jack's head mocked, as Jack walked out of Daniel's apartment building once more.

"I can't do this any more..." Daniel's voice echoed in Jack's head, the words repeating over and over.

More than that, the sight of Daniel's eyes, the emotions that the younger man had tried so hard to hide, haunted Jack, driving a needle of ice into his heart. No matter how he tried to reconcile himself to it, Jack knew that he was responsible for Daniel, responsible for driving his friend to despair and anguish.

Jack had always had protective instincts towards Daniel - even on their first mission together, when Daniel had saved his life, shielding him from a staff-weapon blast with his own body, Jack had felt the wrongness of that action. It was his place, his role in life, to protect Daniel, not the other way around.

And he had failed.

Not only had he failed to protect his friend, Jack had been the one to injure him. His instinctive reaction to Daniel's confession had been flight, and he had struck out at his closest friend in the process, wounding him to the core.

I have to go back, he thought, a little frantically. I have to help him, tell him the truth!

And what if he laughs in your face? a small voice mocked.

Then at least I know I tried... Jack thought, as he turned and headed back towards Daniel's apartment, racing back into the building and up the stairs before his courage failed him again.

When he reached Daniel's apartment door, Jack tried the handle and was relieved to discover that Daniel hadn't locked it behind him when he left. The handle turned easily, the door swinging open silently.

The apartment was just as he had left it a few minutes earlier - the curtains were still open, letting a cold grey light into the room. Daniel was still on the sofa, his head still laid back, eyes closed, his hands clutching the journal to his chest as if it were a magic charm, some talisman to protect him from harm.

The only difference was the sound.

As Jack closed the door quietly behind him, he realised that he knew what the sound was, that he instinctively knew its source as well as he knew his own name, and his eyes went towards Daniel. The younger man was crying, tears streaming down his face unchecked. Every so often he would sob convulsively, a strangled choking sound, a sound that drove the needle of ice even deeper into Jack's heart.

Without thinking, Jack went over to the sofa and gathered the sobbing man into his arms, one hand cupping the back of Daniel's head gently, the other rubbing his back softly. He could feel the tears beginning to prick at the back of his own eyes, tears of remorse for the pain he had caused.

After the embrace had lasted a few seconds, with Jack feeling the convulsive shudder as Daniel sobbed, a wet patch forming on his shoulder where Daniel's face lay, he felt him stiffen and start to push Jack away. Although everything inside him screamed to hang on, Jack reluctantly let go, shuffling along the sofa to allow Daniel some space.

"Why, Jack? Why did you come back?" Daniel asked, his voice ragged from the emotions he was holding back.

Jack looked down, studying the pattern on the rug.

Tell him the truth this time, the small voice urged, solemn this time, not mocking.

"I had to, Daniel," Jack breathed, his eyes still intent on the rug, tracing the whorls and lines laid out there. "This... you.. it's all my fault."

"Yes," Daniel said coldly, his voice now more clearly under control. "Yes, it is."

Daniel's words, the coldness of his tone, cut through Jack - the needle of ice that had entered his heart earlier had become a knife, tearing at him savagely. He had no idea what to do next, what to say next. Steeling himself, Jack looked up, hoping that he would see some forgiveness, some understanding, in Daniel's eyes.

When their eyes met, all Jack saw was coldness - the way the light hit Daniel's eyes reminded him of his time in the Antarctic, the cold blue light there that the ice reflects. Nothing could live there, it was sterile, empty.

At that moment, Jack knew that nothing he could say would make a difference. His friend was gone, their relationship, the warmth that had existed between them had been dealt a fatal blow, and it had been by his hand.

"I should go," Jack said suddenly, getting up from the sofa jerkily. "I'm sorry."


On the drive back to the SGC, Jack pondered the effect that his actions had wrought on his friend. With each mile he travelled, his sense of guilt grew. By his thoughtless actions, Jack knew that he was responsible for Daniel's current state of mind. Daniel was suffering in a way Jack had never seen before, not even when Sha're had given birth to Apophis' child. Even then, despite all Jack's fears, Daniel had thrown himself into his work, and a few weeks later it had seemed that he was his old self again.

Not this time, O'Neill, the mocking voice said. This time you've really knocked him off his feet...

Jack reflected on this. He had not been surprised by the vehemence of Daniel's response to his own behaviour the other day - that was to be expected. But the other matter, that Daniel would resign from the SGC, that troubled him more than he could express. The idea that Daniel should throw away all his hard work, willingly lay aside his quest to rescue Sha're and Skaara - this action seemed so out of character.

I need to get hold of that letter, Jack thought suddenly. If it gets to Hammond, it'll all be over. Daniel will leave and I'll never get the chance to set everything right...


"Carter," Jack said, walking into her office without knocking. "I need your help."

Carter spun round on her chair when she heard Jack speak, looking up at the colonel quizzically.

"This isn't easy for me, you know how much I hate to ask anyone for anything," Jack continued. "It's Daniel. You know we argued the other day, well he's put in his resignation, and we need to intercept the letter before it gets to Hammond."

Carter looked at him in silence, her eyes cold - in them, Jack saw a memory of the coldness he had seen when he last saw Daniel.

"Is everything okay between you two now?" she asked, her eyes fixed on Jack's face.

"We don't have time to debate this, Major," Jack retorted. "If Hammond sees that letter..." His voice trailed off, letting the scientist fill in the rest of the sentence.

"...you won't have a chance to make things right between you," Carter supplied. "What do you want me to do?"

"I just need you to distract the general," Jack said, sighing with relief that the major had agreed to help him. "Tell him all about some latest discovery of yours - I know you can talk for hours about those blessed artifacts of Daniel's. Just do it for long enough for me to get hold of Daniel's letter, okay?"

"One thing, sir," Carter said, as Jack turned to leave.


"I'm doing this for Daniel, not you," Carter said tersely. "You'd better sort out whatever is wrong between the two of you..." The major let her voice trail off, the unspoken threat clearly stated in the silence that fell between them.

"Understood, Major," Jack said quietly, as he closed the office door behind him.


The plan worked perfectly.

Carter waylaid General Hammond, apparently eager to tell him all about her latest scientific discovery - even the taciturn general was helpless in the face of the overwhelming enthusiasm the major was displaying. Jack watched with a small smile as he saw Carter leading the general away from his office in the direction of the laboratories.

Jack slipped into the general's office, all the time aware that, were he caught in here, it would be very difficult to explain his presence away.

As he hoped, Hammond's mail still waited in his in-tray, unopened. Jack flicked through the envelopes and reports, his hands stopping on an envelope addressed to the general in Daniel's distinctive hand-writing.

Gotcha! Jack thought triumphantly, shoving the envelope into his fatigues pocket.

As he left Hammond's office, closing the door behind him, Jack heard movement, and quickly turned the nearest corner, heading away from the sounds of people approaching. He was not quick enough, however, as the voice that followed him indicated.

"Colonel O'Neill!"

It was Hammond's voice. Jack froze, then turned slowly to face the oncoming general, who did not look happy.

"Where is Dr. Jackson, colonel?" Hammond asked, his pale blue eyes snapping with fire. "I told you to find him and bring him to see me."

"He... he's ill, sir," Jack lied, hoping that his uncertain response wouldn't give him away.

Hammond's face softened slightly at this answer.

"Well," he said, turning back to his office. "Make sure he comes to see me as soon as he's able. I have something I need to discuss with him."

With that, Hammond left, heading into his office without another word to Jack.

It wasn't until Jack had turned a couple of corners, and had found a quiet spot in the corridor, that he shoved his hand into his pocket and pulled out the envelope with Daniel's handwriting on it. As he turned it over, Jack saw he was too late - the envelope had already been opened. A cold feeling hit Jack then, as he unsealed the envelope itself, and discovered that it was empty. Whatever it had contained had already been removed.

"Well?" Carter's voice startled Jack back into reality, and he turned to her with the envelope in his hands, its emptiness apparent. "Oh no..."

"We were too late," Jack said. "General Hammond has already seen the letter, and now he wants to see Daniel."

"I should go and see Daniel," Carter said, her voice showing her uncertainty. "Maybe I'll be able to talk some sense into him? After all, it's you he's angry with, so maybe he'd react differently to me, I could get him to change his mind..."

"You know what Daniel's like once he makes his mind up about something," Jack said. "And anyway, I did this, so I should be the one who fixes it."

Even as he said the words, Jack remembered what Daniel had said only a few hours before :

"Some things can't be fixed, you just have to live with the fact that they're broken."

I can't believe that, Jack thought, and I won't. I have to try...

"Sir?" Carter said. "What are you going to do?"

"I have no idea, Major," Jack replied. "But whatever it is I do, I need to do it quickly. If I can't get Daniel to change his mind before Hammond sees him, then his time in the SGC is over."

"I'll call Daniel anyway," Carter said, her tone now more resolute.


Carter went back to her office after her conversation with the colonel. She couldn't stay angry at him for very long, even though she knew that this current situation with Daniel was all his fault - she hadn't quite worked out the details of the argument between the two men, but she had been able to gather enough information from Jack to figure out what had happened between them.

What worried her most was the way that the colonel had described Daniel's current state of mind, and his apparent willingness to throw away all he had worked on. That decision alone was enough to make Carter worried for Daniel, what he must be going through, and that worry prompted her to try a desperate tactic with him. It would, she knew, be either make or break - if she was wrong about this, she risked losing not only a colleague but also a friend.

Picking up the phone, Carter dialled Daniel's number - as she had expected, it rang and rang before a message cut in, Daniel's voice expressing sadness that he couldn't speak to the caller right now.

"It's me, Daniel," Carter said when the bleep came. "I know you're there, and I need to talk to you. Please."


"Come on, Daniel," Carter pleaded.

After another few moments, she heard a hesitant voice.


Carter sighed with relief. A small part of her had feared that the argument with Jack meant that Daniel had decided to cut himself off from everyone at the SGC, herself included.

"How are you, Daniel?" Carter asked, a mental picture forming from Jack's descriptions of Daniel.

"I'm fine, Sam," Daniel said quietly, his voice croaking like it had been a while since it had last been used.

"I hear you're leaving us," Carter said. "Were you going to say goodbye or just run away?"

"It's not like that, Sam," Daniel said.

"Isn't it?" Carter persisted, hating every moment of this conversation, but knowing that this might be the only way. "I never thought of you as a coward, Daniel. But all it took was one argument with the colonel and you throw aside everything, and head for the hills."

"Sam..." Daniel pleaded.

"Don't do this, Daniel," Carter said, putting a firm edge to her voice. "No matter what was said between the two of you, it's not worth giving everything up for, breaking your promise to Sha're that you'd keep looking for her, is it?"

Inside, Carter flinched, knowing that she was treading on thin ice with Daniel. All she could do was hope that she could get him angry enough to change his mind about resigning, and that he wouldn't hate her for the things she said.

"You don't understand, Sam," Daniel said. "I can't carry on with things as they are with me and Jack."

"Why not?"

"It wouldn't be the same."

"It doesn't have to be," Carter replied. "But we need you, Daniel - the SGC and SG1."

There was a long silence, so long that Carter wondered if Daniel had put down the phone and walked away.

"I need to think about this..." Daniel said, and then a buzzing noise came. He had put down the phone.


A few hours later, Jack was back at Daniel's apartment, but this time there was no answer. Try as he might, despite hammering on the door and calling Daniel's name, there were no sounds of movement coming from inside. It was only as Jack was leaving the building that he thought to ask the doorman whether Daniel was in or not.

"Dr. Jackson?" the man echoed. "No, he went out about an hour ago. Said he was going to work."

"He did?" Jack asked, incredulous. The doorman nodded.

Something inside Jack gave a lurch, and he realised that what he was feeling was a mixture of fear and hope. Either Daniel had gone to explain to Hammond his reasons for resigning, or he had changed his mind. Jack could only hope that the phone call Carter had said she had made had worked - the thought of SG1 carrying on without Daniel chilled him to the bone.

There wouldn't even be an SGC without him, Jack thought, as he got back into his jeep and headed back towards the Cheyenne Mountain complex. Daniel doesn't realise how important he is to the project.

And what does he mean to you? the small voice in his head taunted.

"It's too late for that," Jack replied.

Is it? How can you be sure?

"Because he hates me," Jack said, "that's why. What the hell am I doing talking to myself anyway?"

Maybe you're losing your grip, O'Neill... the voice replied.


By the time Jack returned to the complex, Daniel had already seen General Hammond. This became clear when he saw the two of them coming out of the general's office. When Daniel saw Jack looking at him, his face was so expressionless that it was impossible for the colonel to tell what had just happened, but all he could do was hope for the best, hope that Carter had been able to persuade Daniel to change his mind. If she hadn't, Jack wasn't totally sure what he would do....

"Colonel O'Neill," Hammond said, catching sight of Jack coming towards them.


"It seems that SG1's mission will be going ahead after all - the briefing will start in one hour," Hammond said, before going back into his office.

Jack felt as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders - whatever it was that Carter had said, it had obviously persuaded Daniel to change his mind about resigning from the SGC.

"Daniel," Jack began, turning towards where Daniel was still standing. "I..."

"Save it, colonel," Daniel interrupted, his eyes still cold. "There's nothing you could say that I want to hear."

With that, he turned and headed down the corridor, in the direction of the elevators, without looking back. All Jack could do was stand and stare at Daniel as he walked away, the cold feeling returning to his heart.


"Sam?" Daniel called out, pushing at the open door to Carter's office.

"Come in!" she called out, turning to look at her friend as he came into the room. Carter tried to smile, but the bleakness of Daniel's expression, the way he still looked tired and worn meant that this took an effort on her part.

"That bad?" Daniel asked, trying to smile at her.

"You haven't looked in a mirror lately, have you..." Carter replied, her tone making the words into a statement rather than a question. Daniel shook his head. "Sit down."

Daniel sank into a nearby chair, though he didn't seem to know what to do with his hands. They appeared to have a life of their own, as his fingers fiddled with the buttons on his jacket, or tapped aimlessly on his trouser leg.

"Have you seen the colonel yet?" Carter asked, her eyes intent on Daniel's face. She did not miss the coldness that came into Daniel's eyes when Jack's name was mentioned, and this worried her.

"Just now," Daniel replied. "He seems to think we can just forget what happened and carry on as if everything is still okay."

"He's worried about you, Daniel," Carter said. Daniel shook his head, as if to get rid of this concept. "Okay, I'm worried about you."

"I'm fine, Sam," Daniel replied. "And you needn't be worried about the mission. I'll pull my weight."

"It's not that I'm worried about," Carter said. "What happened? What did he say to you?"

"I can't," Daniel said quietly, suddenly fascinated by his boots.

"I shouldn't have asked you...."

"No, it's okay," Daniel said, looking up. "It's just that I can't talk about it - not with you, not with anyone."

"I hope you know that I'm here for you, Daniel," Carter spoke, her voice steady and calm. "Whenever you need to talk about this..." She let her words trail off, hoping for a response from her friend, that he would at least agree to *consider* her offer, but only silence followed for a few moments.

"Thank you," Daniel replied finally, as he got up from his chair and headed for the door. "I'm not sure I'll ever be able to."


The mission briefing was so different from the countless others that SG1 had sat through that it was hard for Jack to start to outline the ways it felt wrong. For starters, there was Daniel - the normally talkative archaeologist was a mere shadow of his former self. Whereas before he was all wild theories and lightning speed ideas, now he just sat there. It wasn't even clear whether Daniel was even listening to the discussion going on around him, though he managed to nod in roughly the right places. From where he was sitting, Jack could see the general frowning slightly.

And then there was Carter - she was frowning too, her eyes focussed across the table to where Daniel was seated, tiny lines appearing on her forehead. Every so often she would glance round at Jack, and the colonel could have sworn that he felt the coldness in her glance, the accusations that went unsaid. Though she would have sooner died than admit it, Jack was certain that Carter had chosen sides, and this time she was not siding with him!

Even Teal'c was not his usual self - from where the Jaffa sat beside Daniel, Jack could see the concern in his eyes as he kept a surreptitious watch on his friend. For the normally-impassive Teal'c to be so worried looking was a first, and not one that Jack was glad to see.

As he listened to Carter's descriptions of the results that the MALP probe had transmitted back from the planet they were soon to be visiting, Jack too was watching Daniel. That Daniel was clearly unaware that he was the subject of such scrutiny was itself a revelation - normally Daniel was so self-conscious that he squirmed if he knew he was being watched. Now his face was pale and expressionless. He was no longer as unkempt as he had been when Jack had visited his apartment, and Daniel would never be on any Best Dressed list, but there was something uncared for about him now that touched Jack deeply.

When the briefing was over, Jack loitered behind, hoping once more for a chance to talk to Daniel, but he hurried away. With a sigh, Jack watched him as he scurried down the corridor, his head down, various SGC staff getting out of his way as he headed in their direction.


Even as the team were waiting in the 'Gate room, watching the chevrons lock and the wormhole form, Jack still hoped that he would have a chance to set things right between himself and Daniel. He knew that there was no way he could tell Daniel that he had acted on instinct, that his feelings for the colonel were reciprocated - if he ever admitted that, then it would look like he was pitying Daniel, playing along with him to try and help Daniel save face.

No, the best that Jack could hope for was that he could do some repair work on their friendship. This coldness was killing him, as surely as if he were back in the Antarctic again - it wasn't until he had acted to put that friendship in such jeopardy that Jack realised how much he had come to rely on Daniel as a friend, unlikely as that might have seemed when they first met.

Slowly and surely, the friendship they had built between them, a friendship based on shared hurts, emotions they had experienced together, and a shared desire to retrieve those they considered family - these things had bound the two men closer than Jack had ever expected to feel a kinship with anyone again. He had only had a few friendships that close over the troubled years of his past - Jack was almost certain that Daniel had not had any. And now, through an impulsive act, Jack had thrown that friendship into turmoil.

He hoped he would have the chance to set things right between them. In his heart, Jack knew that it was possible that Daniel might never forgive him, and he was unable to forgive himself.

"Let's go," Jack said, leading his team into the event horizon.


The silence that greeted Jack when the team arrived on the planet was unexpected - even though the MALP probe was fitted with the most up-to-date technology the US military could procure, there was always a difference between what you expected to find when you stepped onto a new planet. Even the most sophisticated telemetry could not relay the nuances of sight, sound and smell that made each new mission unique, no matter what happened when SG1 arrived.

The silence in itself was almost threatening, it was the silence of something about to happen - it felt as if the planet was holding its breath, waiting for something to take place. In many ways, the silence here echoed the way that Daniel seemed to be was feeling. There was a clinical feeling to it, a feeling of life having been sucked away, a hopelessness that sent shivers up the spine of every team member.

"Spread out," Jack said, as he walked down the steps onto the level ground that stretched around where the Stargate was situated. He took a deep breath, to steady his voice, before speaking again. "Daniel, you're with me."

"Sir?" Carter's voice was raised in enquiry, her single word full of the questions she wanted to ask, the things she wanted to say, but protocol held her back.

"It's okay," Daniel said quietly, walking over to where Jack was standing. "As long as I'm a part of SG1, I'll do my job."

Jack let out a breath he had been holding, the air hissing out of him along with the tension he had been experiencing. For a long moment, before Daniel had spoken, he had been afraid that Daniel would refuse this small act of contrition on his part - he wanted to apologise, to grovel as much as it would take, but Jack knew that this could never be enough. All he would receive for his pains would be a look of disdain, a cold glance from the eyes whose life he had ruthlessly choked to death.

"Let's go then," Jack said. "Check in every 10 minutes as usual."

With those words, the colonel turned and began to walk, heading away from the 'Gate, crossing the open plain that the alien artifact dominated. He was conscious of Daniel trailing along silently behind him, and slowed his steps to allow the other man to catch up with him. Even when they were walking side by side, Daniel was silent - thinking back, Jack couldn't recall another mission, not even the one when they had first travelled to Abydos, where his friend had been so withdrawn. It felt wrong for him not to be shushing Daniel as they travelled, not to be interrupting yet another lengthy story.

"Daniel," Jack began uncertainly. "I'm glad you changed your mind about resigning..."

"Are you?" Daniel asked, his voice positively glacial.

"Uh huh." Jack thought frantically, wanting to say something profound, then remembered what he had thought before, about the importance of Daniel to the SGC. "After all," he continued, "if it weren't for you, there wouldn't even be an SGC. Sometimes I think we forget that..."


Shit, Jack thought. Now I can't even remind him about his importance to the SGC without it all coming back to how we first met.

"I meant what I said," Daniel said finally, his voice barely above a whisper. If it were not for the silence that reigned on this planet, so that the only sound was their footsteps, Jack doubted that he would have been able to decipher the words.

"You meant what?" Jack asked, his heart sinking.

"What I said about not being able to do this any more," Daniel answered. "Everything has changed, and I was a fool to think it wouldn't. We can't be friends, Jack, it's too painful - I need to be here, to be part of SG1, but that's as far as it can go. I hope you can let it be."

Jack glanced across at Daniel, not liking the paleness of his face as he was speaking. Part of him wanted to grab Daniel by the arms, to try and shake some sense into him - another part wanted to either beg his friend's forgiveness or kiss Daniel till he couldn't breath any more. Try as he might, none of those ideas seemed to be more attractive to Jack than the others at the moment, as he was faced with a terrible mental clarity concerning the likely failure of all of them.

"Jack?" Daniel's voice, shaky and quiet as it was, broke through to Jack like he had been struck.

"I thought we were friends, Daniel," he said.

"We were. But I can't be that way any more - it hurts too much," Daniel admitted.

From where he was walking beside Daniel, Jack could see the way that he was biting his lower lip, to try and stop the tears that were brimming in his eyes from falling. That action struck Jack straight in the heart, bringing home to him the realities of what he had done, the friendship he had destroyed.


When it came, there was no warning.

One moment, the two men were walking across the featureless plain, having just checked in with Carter and Teal'c, the next the ground was heaving beneath them, throwing both of them full-length. Jack's head hit the ground with a thump, his temple connecting with a rock, and for a few moments he faded out - when he came to, the ground had stopped moving, and the silence had returned.

As Jack scrambled to his feet, the fingers of one hand came up gingerly to touch the growing bump on his head, his other hand retrieving his cap from where it had fallen when he hit the ground. As he stood, Jack looked around, his fingers still feeling the stickiness of blood trickling down his forehead, and he realised he was alone. Daniel was nowhere to be seen!

"DANIEL!" Jack shouted, his eyes crossing the plain before him - there was no sign of any other life there, nowhere that Daniel could be hiding.

The only possibility, Jack realised with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, was that the ground had opened up and taken him. From where he was standing, the colonel could see a network of fissures, spreading out across the plain, some narrow enough to step across, some of the others twenty or thirty feet wide.

"DANIEL!" he shouted again, his voice echoing in the silence.

"J.. Jack..."

The voice was so quiet that for a moment Jack thought he was imagining it, that it was a product of the despair he was feeling - that Daniel should have been taken without things being set right between them tore at the colonel's heart like no emotion he had felt since Charlie died.

"Daniel?" Jack asked. "Keep talking!"

"Can't... hurts..." the small voice said, the sound strangely distorted and echoing in the fissures. When the words stopped, there was a hissing sound, the gasping of someone in pain, and then a rattling sound, the sound of stones falling.

"You've got to, Daniel," Jack said, a pleading tone coming into his voice, even though he tried to stop it. "If you don't, then I can't find you..."

Even as he was speaking, the colonel was methodically working his way in the direction that the words had been coming from, examining each fissure as he reached it, his frustration building steadily.

"DANIEL?" Jack shouted, when the voice did not speak again.

"St... still here..."

Thank god, Jack thought.

"Why do you never listen when I tell you not to go running off?" Jack joked weakly.

As he finished speaking, Jack reached the edge of another fissure - glancing down into it like so many before, once again the colonel expected to see a chasm reaching down into the earth, down into the darkness. But this fissure was different. This fissure was narrow, maybe 3 feet wide, and lodged firmly in it, about 8 feet from the surface, was his missing archaeologist, squinting feebly up at him.

"There you are," Jack said quietly, as he squatted down by the edge of the fissure. "You stuck?"

Daniel scowled up at him, drew in a breath to speak and then gasped with pain.

"I... I think I've got some broken ribs," he said, when the pain had apparently subsided.

"You could be right," Jack agreed.

"Get me out of here, Jack," Daniel pleaded, his eyes coming up to meet the colonel's for the first time he could remember since they had argued.

"Sure," Jack replied, shrugging off his automatic weapon and laying it on the ground a few feet away from the edge of the fissure. Once he had removed that, Jack himself lay down, his head sticking over the edge as he examined the position that Daniel was in. He had to admit to himself that he had no idea how to get his friend out of the fissure - he was deep enough down that there was no way for Jack to pull him up by himself.

Mentally, Jack slapped his forehead, then reached with one hand for the radio. Pressing the call button, Jack was disappointed when there was no response, no crackling or signs of life.

"You... you're hurt," Daniel said, his pale face raised to look up, towards where Jack was lying.

"Just a bump," Jack said, trying to grin reassuringly. "Hurts like hell, but not really serious."

"Wh.. what about Sam and Teal'c?" Daniel whispered.

"Radio's broke," Jack replied. "Looks like it's just you and me, Daniel."

"You are going to get me out of here, aren't you?" Daniel said, his face becoming even paler, if that were possible.

"You have to ask...?" Jack said, his voice a little angry. Inside, he couldn't believe that Daniel no longer seemed to trust him - that he would even feel that Jack might not try as hard as he could to rescue his friend, that possibility had never occurred to him.

"S... sorry... "

Jack sighed. Getting riled up wasn't helping - what he needed was a plan, not to lose himself in emotions he didn't have time to feel right now. Daniel was stuck there, with broken ribs, maybe even a punctured lung, so there would be time enough for all those feelings later.

"I'm going to try and pull you out, okay?" Jack said, trying to push as much confidence in his plan as he could manage into his voice.


Cautiously, Jack edged his way forward over the edge of the fissure, feeling its friable edge begin to wear away slightly under his weight. His least movement sent a small shower of pebbles and dirt down onto Daniel where he was wedged, making Daniel cover his face with his hands, which had been outstretched towards Jack previously.

"Sorry," Jack muttered, as he inched forward, his arms outstretched, fingers straining to reach his friend.

He didn't dare move too far forward, in case he overbalanced and plummeted down into the fissure himself, but there was nothing for Jack to brace himself against. All he could do was wedge the toes of his boots into another crack that was nearby and hope that this would be enough to keep him from falling in as well.

"That's as far as I can go, Daniel," Jack said, when he reached his full length, his hands reaching down to where Daniel was trapped. He was still covering his face with his hands, his hair and the sleeves of his jacket covered in dirt. "Daniel."

When Jack spoke again, Daniel looked up, his hands coming away from his face. Seeing the position Jack was in, his arms reaching down, Daniel stretched out as far as he could from where he was wedged, feeling Jack's fingers lock around his wrists.

Jack could feel every muscle in his arms start to complain as they stretched and tightened to try and pull Daniel free - Jack could feel him begin to move slightly, but it was not enough. There was apparently nothing that Daniel could push against below himself to try and help Jack pull him up, and the colonel was not strong enough to accomplish it alone.

'Where the hell are Teal'c and Carter?' Jack thought furiously, as he relaxed slightly, still keeping his hands wrapped round Daniel's wrists, but allowing him to return to his previous position.

"This... this is hopeless," Daniel sighed, gasping slightly.

Jack wanted to say 'trust me' but the words stuck in his throat. What right had he got to ask such a thing of the man who had been his friend? If the roles were reversed, not that Daniel would have ever been so cruel in the first place, Jack knew that his response would have been to laugh bitterly at such a comment.

Before he could figure out what to say instead, to formulate words that would encourage Daniel not to give up, the ground began to shake again.

Beneath where Jack was lying, the earth pitched, and for a moment Jack felt as though he was suspended, hanging inches above the ground while everything about him moved. He could still feel the warmth of Daniel's fingers as they were wrapped around his wrists, a warmth that anchored him despite everything that had happened between the two men.

There was a frightened yell from below him, echoing up from within the fissure and then all of Daniel's weight slammed onto Jack's arms, which felt as though they were being pulled out of their sockets. The fissure had widened, so that whatever projection had stopped Daniel's fall previously, at the cost of suspected broken ribs, fell away, leaving him hanging.

The pain ripping through Jack's shoulders and upper back was excruciating - Jack's eyes closed as he tried to push the agony away using every pain control technique he had ever heard of.

When he opened his eyes again, looking down into the chasm that had opened up, the ground had settled once more. This time, Daniel was dangling over a sheer drop - the only thing stopping him from plummeting into the fissure was Jack's hands wrapped round his wrists.

To slash stories Continued in Part 2... To the next part

Disclaimer : Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is written for entertainment purposes only - no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story-line are the property of the author - not to be archived elsewhere without permission.

This page created by Graculus - last changed 30/4/2000.