: Opening The DoorAuthor
: Jedi ButtercupRating
: The words are mine, the world is not.Summary
: "A lot has changed in the last few years
." 1400 words.Spoilers
: Stargate SG-1, post-canonNotes
: I was reading a certain thematic Sam/Jack fic recently that hints at past Jack/Daniel, and thinking about the pending end of "Don't Ask Don't Tell", and this suddenly slotted into place in my mind. Very mild Daniel/Paul; aforementioned pairings also referenced in the background. Originally posted Jan 8 on my journal.
The briefing room cleared slowly, Stargate personnel and bureaucrats alike drifting out in ones and twos into the hallways of Stargate Command, clutching files and mugs of coffee as they chatted with each other. Lt. Colonel Paul Davis remained behind at the table, carefully shuffling papers into his briefcase, surreptitiously eyeing the other straggler with concern; Dr. Daniel Jackson was staring down at the table, brow furrowed, fingertips rubbing slow circles at his temples. Diplomatic relations in the wider galaxy were as frustrating as ever, even with the Goa'uld and Ori empires largely dismantled as threats, and today's meeting had been the perfect example of the kind of gridlock oppositional personalities with incompatible demands could produce.
It wasn't perhaps the best moment Paul could have chosen to speak; but the rest of his day was packed, and he was scheduled on a flight back to Washington D.C. that evening. It would be his best opportunity for a while to sound Daniel out without making a big thing of it-- and it was a subject he would really prefer to address face to face. Email was no substitute for reading someone's reactions in person, on either side of the conversation, and he didn't want to spring it on Daniel last minute, either. Minimal awkwardness was preferred.
"Long week?" he said sympathetically, breaking the silence.
"You have no idea," Daniel sighed, lowering his palms to the table. Then he looked up, favoring Paul with a wry smile. "Every time I think we've made a difference out there, someone finds a way to make the situation worse. They never seem to think about the wider consequences of their decisions-- they only care about whether their own demands are met."
That wasn't really a surprise, given that half the worlds the SGC was in contact with had been enslaved by not one, but two separate false theocracies in the past decade, and had chosen to exercise their new freedoms in bloody vengeance as much as in reconstructing their societies. Old grievances-- and new ones, often as not spurred by jealousy and resentment of those who had overthrown their false gods-- had sprung up like weeds with no force to repress them.
It might be an almost inevitable consequence of societies experiencing such abrupt and chaotic transfers of power, but it was difficult to watch. And it was an undeniable fact that many of those painful changes would never have occurred if Daniel had never opened Earth's stargate over a decade before. Paul didn't like to see his friend trying to carry the guilt when things went badly wrong, though, especially since prior experience with alternate realities had suggested things might have gone even worse
for their planet if he hadn't. And he was hardly the only person whose decisions had contributed to the galaxy's current state of affairs.
"Human nature, I'm afraid," Paul replied, smiling sadly back at him. "But I think we're making progress with the Langarans, at least. It was good to hear from Jonas Quinn again."
"Yeah." Daniel's smile brightened with genuine gladness, taking years off his face. "I'm glad he survived-- and not just because he's easier to deal with than the rest of Langara's surviving politicians. He's a good guy; I wish I'd had more opportunity to work with him before."
Paul nodded, his own mood lightening with Daniel's. "Speaking of late additions to SG-1," he said, redirecting the conversation. He glanced at the seat where Vala Mal Doran had fidgeted her way through the meeting. "I haven't heard you lament about Vala's advances lately-- you haven't let her catch you, have you?"
Daniel huffed a subdued laugh, the corners of his eyes crinkling fondly. "No," he said. "I think the flirting's mostly for form's sake these days on her part; she's been spending more time with Teal'c and Mitchell lately-- and no, I haven't asked. Maybe if I'd been younger when we met; or if the Ori War hadn't happened; or if she'd ever drop her guard for once-- but it's just as well. She reminds me far too much of Jack, ten years ago, and I don't have the energy to go through all that again."Again?
Paul thought, and took a breath. He wasn't sure whether to count that as a hint or not; but then again, he wouldn't have chosen to speak at all if he hadn't had reason to think his overtures might be welcomed. He surreptitiously wiped his palms against his thighs, then reached to close up his briefcase and slide it to one side.
"A lot has changed in the last few years," Paul agreed, neutrally. "Including-- well. You've probably already guessed the rumor mill in D.C. is buzzing over your scheduled visit to Homeworld Security, given recent legislation."
Daniel snorted, eyes crinkling again. "If that's your roundabout way of asking whether there's anything more to the visit than bureaucracy and maybe a barbeque, the answer's no," he said, the bluntness of his words undercut by an increasing warmth in his smile. "Again-- maybe if we were younger, or less bitter, or if I had more energy to deal with the inevitable pyrotechnics. But we aren't the same men we were when our whole lives were wrapped up in each other, and he's happy now-- though I don't think they're
ready to announce it publicly, either."
Paul nodded, equal parts relieved and bemused at his own nervousness. He knew Sam Carter had been spending a lot of time in D.C. recently when not aboard her ship, but there would always be concerns about the relationship between a male General and a female Colonel in the same service that could negatively affect her career, at least until O'Neill finally retired. Understandably, neither had yet said anything conclusive about their relationship where they might be overheard by less friendly ears.
noticed a little less crankiness on his part lately," Paul joked.
Daniel knit his fingers together on the tabletop then, raising his eyebrows. "So."
"So," Paul replied, then deliberately put his long habit of circumspection behind him and met Daniel's gaze, making no secret of his intentions. "Think you'll have an evening free while you're in town?"
Daniel blinked-- then grinned. The curve of his mouth sharpened into something appreciative, and almost predatory, as the penny dropped about what Paul was really asking.
They were already friends, after all; and under usual circumstances Paul wouldn't have bothered to ask about a simple dinner so far in advance. Daniel would know that, and would also know all the reasons Paul might have preferred not to say anything before, given... everything... with General O'Neill. He appreciated Daniel's perceptiveness-- almost as much as he appreciated the effect that look had on him. He swallowed, body warming despite the chilly briefing room air.
"Oh, I think I could work that into my schedule," Daniel said, lively interest in his eyes as he gave Paul a quick, appreciative onceover that made him glad he was still sitting down.
The idea of being the sole focus of Dr. Daniel Jackson's considerable attention had featured off and on in Paul's private fantasies for years. His skin prickled with anticipation as he returned the appraisal. "I'll look forward to it, then," he said hoarsely.
Then he deliberately reeled himself back in and glanced up at the briefing room's clock. "Speaking of schedules, though...."
Daniel followed his gaze, then sighed. "Damn." He got up from the table, gathering his papers together. "Duty calls. But Paul," he said, grin flashing again, "I'm glad we had a chance to talk."
"Likewise." Paul watched him turn to go, appreciating the fit of his uniform, then sighed and stood, collecting his briefcase for his own next appointment.
Nothing might come of their dinner out-- but something could
, and that possibility thrummed through his nerves, lending a spring to his step and an extra spark of energy to his mood as he left the briefing room. He'd never thought the door to legal opportunity would open during his working lifetime-- but it had
, and though he still had no plans to shout his preferences to the world, he was very much looking forward to exploring that freer and brighter future.
And if it happened to include a certain blue-eyed archaeologist and sometime soldier with a sharp mind and a sharper wit-- well, so much the better.