See first chapter for disclaimer.
Here's a long one for ya:
"Oh, this is
easy. The book we need is inside Cheyenne Mountain, in the office of D. Jackson."
Upon hearing the name of his former teammate, Jack froze. He knew it shouldn't come as a surprise, Danny had his hands on so many old, odd-smelling things from beyond the Stargate and before, when he was just a simple archeologist.
Jack snorted quietly. Daniel had never been just a simple anything. Of course he’d have something with the information they needed. Buffy glanced at him, an odd little frown on her brow, but did nothing more. He wasn’t aware how hard his gaze had gone; he was just glad she didn’t say anything. He didn’t think he could handle it right then. It was bound to be prodding about his past, the one that wasn’t actually his
, and thinking about it wasn’t going to do anything for the situation. Stick to the problem. Investigate, plan, resolve. The ability may have come from someone else, but it was his too, and no one could take that away.
A cool hand slipped into his and squeezed. Jack started in surprise and looked over at Buffy. Her face was turned to the TV, for all intents and purposes captivated by the images flashing on the screen. Unconsciously he squeezed back.
“I can get it,” he told the room.
He’d have to bank on their – Daniel and the Colonel’s friendship, but he could do it.
“Great, you do that,” Clea said dismissively, turning back to the TV and proceeding to ignore them all once more. She didn’t care about the details or Jack’s issues with the mission. He was grateful, in a grudging sort of way.
Ehren asked curiously, “How’re you going to do it?”
Jack wished the kid could be as obliging as the redhead and not ask him about things he’d rather not discuss. He didn’t want
to use Daniel that way. Of the four members of SG-1 he’d been the most, not welcoming, but at least concerned. He’d actually called once or twice; during the few periods he wasn’t actually busy looking things up for projects, or desperately researching to find the answer that could unravel the mystery of the whatchamabob they needed to save the planet. Sort of what they were doing now, he guessed. He’d much rather get what they needed out of the Colonel, problem was they thought the same way – he’d know something was up, probably wouldn’t get him what he asked for, and definitely would get a surveillance assigned to watching him for a week or two. Carter and Teal’c? Not a chance. They’d dropped him as soon as they found out he was a clone. Not the real deal. Carter wouldn’t violate her non-disclosure agreement for him
and Teal’c just saw him as a child, no matter that he had over fifty years of memories, many of them bloody.
The kid was still waiting for an answer. Jack did try not to glare. The poor guy didn’t know what he was asking; he was just a kid, after all. He had to remind himself he liked
kids. Though usually they were younger than the ones he found himself with.
He answered as best he could, “I’m going to ask.”
Jack rang the doorbell again for good measure. It would be just his luck to come all this way just to find out Daniel wasn’t home. He also knew it was likelier than not. Daniel had to be ordered out of his office most of the time, and sometimes not even that would work. If it didn’t, then Jack and the rest of SG-1, and one time Hammond, had to use threats, cajolery, and Janet to oust him. It was like sticking your hand into a badger den: if luck was with you, you'd get scratched, if it wasn't, you'd need a doc to sew your arm back together and give you a series of shots. So the chances were actually pretty bad that Daniel was here.
Ehren and Clea were still at the apartment he shared with Buffy. They’d decided since they didn’t know if there was time to waste, to assume there wasn’t and he’d gone straight over. He’d thought Clea would want to go home and come back tomorrow, but apparently that was too much work. Jack had asked her if her parents would be worried. That little question had been met with sneer and an eye roll. She told them her parents were “academic hippies,” sick of the workaholic atmosphere and were all into freedom and relaxation now. He didn’t push further – he didn’t want to know.
“Come on, come on,” he mumbled, pulling his heavy bomber jacket tighter. It didn’t help warm him in slightest, but it distracted him from other thoughts trying to claw their way into his consciousness.
A noise inside made him perk up the way only teenagers can, suddenly a bundle of nervous energy. Whatever it was, it was coming closer, but it sounded weird. It was a light thud
like a footstep followed by a heavy clunk
, one after the other.
“Who is it?” That was Daniel’s voice alright, Jack recognized with relief.
“Jack!” He called into the wood of the door.
There was a pause.
“You don’t sound like Jack,” the voice on the other side said dubiously.
Jack hit his head with his palm and sighed. “The other
“Oh!” the sound of the door unlatching was unmistakable, and Jack breathed a small sigh of relief. It swung open. “Sorry, it’s been a while,” Daniel said with chagrin. “Come in.”
Jack stayed where he was, gawking at the thick cast on the archaeologist’s leg.
“When did that happen?!” he exclaimed. For a moment he was Jack O’Neill, Air Force Colonel, inspecting his best friend with dismay.
Daniel looked even more chagrined. “I was investigating some ruins and slipped. I must have hit some kind of control on the way down, because then the floor fell in.”
Jack laughed, “Damn, Danny, you sure know how to break a leg.”
Daniel grinned, “Well, I had some help. Teal’c came over to pull me out, but the collapse had undermined the whole area around it, and the edges crumbled. He landed on my leg.”
“He must feel awful,” Jack remarked, a bit of glee slipping into his voice as he did. He hoped Daniel hadn’t heard.
The frown on his face dashed Jack’s hopes. The moment passed and he was once again, the Copy.
“Jack…” he trailed off apprehensively.
“I know, it’s not Teal’c’s fault I got dropped,” he said, scowling. He didn’t do anything to stop it either, neither did you, or Sam, or-
The corners of Daniel’s mouth quirked. He could probably guess what Jack was thinking. He wasn’t all that different from the Original.
Jack came in and made himself at home on a chair, giving Daniel the more comfortable seat on the sofa. They made small talk, Daniel asking him about his classes and Jack fishing for news from the SGC. Everything sounded normal. Sam was working on some technology they’d brought back; Teal’c was offworld working with the Jaffa rebellion. Daniel didn’t tell him about the Original, not even a hint. He seemed to understand that Jack just didn’t want to know.
Finally he had to do what he’d come for, no matter how nice it was to just sit and pretend.
“I was wondering if I could borrow a book?” he asked, when the topic they’d been on petered out.
Daniel’s eyebrows lifted, clearly not expecting this kind of request, especially from Jack.
“Which one?” he asked, and Jack felt the knot of tension in his chest relax. He’d half expected him to ask why
he wanted to borrow a book, which he didn’t have an answer for. Not one he could actually use. It was one thing to believe in aliens when you go through a big ring to chat them up; it was whole other slice of crazy to believe in demons. He still
wasn’t entirely sure that he did, but he’d seen some real strange things in the last couple days.
“Do you have anything about really old seals?”
Daniel blinked, uncomprehending. “Since when are you interested in marine mammals? Especially old ones.”
Jack would have liked to hit his head again, maybe on the coffee table this time. “No,” he said instead, “I mean seals, as in barriers."
While the archeologist’s face cleared slightly, he still looked confused. “I don’t think I have anything like that.”
Jack pushed on, “Not even in your office?”
“Jack, you know I keep those books there for a reason, I can’t just hand them out,” Daniel told him, frowning. “I won’t ask why you want one, but I’d like it if you told me. I can’t just lend you any without knowing what you want with it.”
“I just want to take a look, alright?” Jack said, frowning himself. “I’m not asking for anything about the ‘gate, or the snakes, or any of the classified stuff, just this one book about seals.”
Daniel sighed, and he seemed sincere as he said, “I’m sorry Jack, but I can’t help you.”
Jack walked despondently away from the cozy house, the feeling of failure a lump of iron in his gut. Even worse was the feeling he got for trying to use someone he still considered a friend in his heart, even if his mind didn’t agree, and that friend knew it. He stopped under a streetlamp, not even noticing the cold.
“Come out, Buffy,” he said into the darkness.
A shadow detached itself from a tree a few feet away. “How did you know I was there?” the sweet voice asked sullenly.
“I don’t know,” Jack faced the direction of the shadow, “Maybe because I’m not a moron?”
The darkness between them melted away as she joined him under the steady lamplight. She hadn’t even changed her clothes, but still he hadn’t been able to see her, not once on the way there.
“It was pretty obvious you were going to follow me, especially after you told Clea where the extra blankets were and where you wanted her to set up in your room,” he told her. “If you weren’t you’d have done it yourself.”
She pushed a lock of hair that had fallen over the wrong side of part out of her face. “I really suck at subtle.”
“Not always, but yeah, you do,” he agreed. “Why’d you do it?”
“At home you looked like you’d rather have a live ferret shoved up your ass than go talk to this guy. I thought you might need me.” She was surprised by his response.
He glared. “I didn’t. I’ve been taking care of myself for a lot longer than you’ve been around. I wasn’t looking forward to talking with someone I thought was my friend and who’d rather forget I existed, yeah, but it wouldn’t be the first time. I’m not exactly fragile.”
“Oh,” she said. She scuffed her foot, exactly as the child she
looked like might do, and suddenly he could imagine a woman with white hair and a lined face doing it too. She looked at him sideways, afraid of being scolded again. “Do you want me anyway?”
His anger drained out of him as if someone had pulled out the plug from bathtub. He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her against his chest, the force with which their lips met strong enough to bruise. She responded by taking his bottom lip between her teeth, biting and sucking. He ran his tongue over her teeth and gained entrance to her mouth.
Coming up for air was a disappointment. He’d much rather continue what he’d started than breathe, but since it was rudely essential to life, he had to.
“Let’s get back. We need that book, and I can only think of one way to get it,” Buffy suggested. He was disappointed, but one look at her told him she wasn’t any happier.
The deep shadows beyond the light of the streetlamp didn’t seem so dark once he got used to them and Buffy seemed right at home.
“How do you think we can get that book?” he asked her, beginning to enjoy the midnight stroll.
Buffy shrugged unconcerned. “We steal it from Jackson’s office of course.”
Jack walked another two paces before he was able to comprehend just what his girlfriend was suggesting.
“We do what?
Daniel watched from his window as Jack trudged away. He wished he could have done something for him, but what he was asking for would break several of his government contracts. There were times when he would be willing to do that, but if Jack wouldn’t explain, well, it wasn’t enough to violate that trust, legal issues aside. He’d tried to treat him exactly like he would General O’Neill, and it seemed to have worked. Jack had looked nearly ecstatic – for about a minute. Maybe he ought to go more out of his way to see how he was doing. He’d given almost no hint as to his personal life, just that he was fine and economically secure.
Economically secure. Those were his words. How much could they tell someone, really? That he was living comfortably, or just getting by? And they were so cold, so empty. It didn’t say anything about what his life was really like. It was obvious he missed the Stargate, and Daniel knew the others had simply pushed him out of their minds. That must hurt. Jack lived for his friends.
He realized he was looking without seeing, so caught up in his own thoughts. He searched he grounds to find out if Jack was still in sight.
He spotted him standing under a streetlamp several yards away. Just standing there. No, wait, he looked like he was talking to someone. Jack turned, and then someone else was suddenly under the light with him, appearing out of nowhere. Daniel laughed at himself for that. No, they’d obviously just been in shadow, with his eyes on Jack he hadn’t noticed the person walk into the bright circle. Squinting, he thought it was a girl from her slight figure, with very light hair.
Then he saw something that made both eyebrows rise far above his glasses. Jack didn’t look unhappy now
, not with the way he was kissing the life out of her.
He’d consider that a good thing except, from what he could see, it was
a girl. A young
girl, and Jack, any
Jack doing that was not something Daniel had ever expected to see. He couldn’t be sure, but it might well qualify as taking advantage, and although he knew Jack would never do that in his right mind, he wasn’t certain by far of the Clone’s emotional stability. The two left hand in hand and Daniel regretfully made up his mind.
He’d have to tell the General. Everything.
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