Title: The Elements of Loss
Spoilers: Heroes II, Resurrection
Genre: Tag, Drama, H/C, Sappiness
Summary: Daniel grieves, Jack helps.
DISCLAIMER: All characters and property of Stargate SG-1 belong to MGM/UA, World Gekko Corp. and Double Secret Productions. This fan fiction was created solely for entertainment and no money was made from it. Also, no copyright or trademark infringement was intended. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. Any other characters, the storyline and the actual story are the property of the author
Jack stormed into the infirmary. “What happened?”
“I’m fine, Jack. It’s just a concussion,” Daniel mumbled, not even bothering to look up as he absently swung his legs back and forth to the rhythm of his pounding head.
“That’s good to hear Daniel, but it must have affected your hearing, because I asked, what happened?”
Jack didn’t think it was possible, but his favorite archaeologist bowed his head down even further into his chest and wrapped his arms protectively around his waist.
Maybe he should have gotten the full story from Carter before bolting up there. But after she had shakingly confessed that she had thought they had lost him again…
Jack took in the dejected appearance of his best friend and softened his voice. “Daniel?”
Shaking his head and biting his lip, Daniel suddenly leapt off the bed, completely ignoring the new SGC doctor’s warnings and ended up stumbling. He would have fallen if not for Jack’s firm grip on his shoulders. “Hey, take it easy, Daniel,” he ordered, concern.
Daniel grabbed Jack’s forearms when he started to sway. “No Jack…I’m…I’m sorry. I just need to get out of here,” he pleaded, still not looking his friend in the eyes. Which was probably a good thing, Jack thought, because the sheer desperation in Daniel’s voice alone broke his heart and left the pieces desperately clinging to one another.
After receiving a nod of permission from the doctor and a list of do’s and don’ts, Jack led his distressed archaeologist out of the infirmary, but not before pocketing a pair of forgotten glasses. When Daniel didn’t stop in the hall, Jack ended up following him all the way out of the mountain and into the night—his ears tuned to silent air, as his friend wasn’t yet ready to speak.
He was beginning to think the younger man was going to walk all the way home, when he abruptly stopped—causing Jack to nearly plow into him. Daniel didn’t even seem to notice his shadow. He just stood there staring off into the parking lot, watching a nightmare replay over and over again in his head.
After a few more painfully silent moments passed, Jack took a hesitant step closer and urged his trouble friend to confide with one word. “Daniel?”
“I couldn’t save her,” he whispered desolately, the moonlight casting shadows over his haunted features, the wind making his hair look just as haggard as his soul.
How many times had Jack heard him cry those same exact words? How many times has he seen the haunted look of failure in the eyes of a hero?
Jack bowed his head and forced his own, still raw emotions down—causing one of the broken pieces of his heart to lose its grip and shatter brutally on the callus pavement. It didn’t take a genius to figure out Daniel wasn’t talking about the Goa’uld clone…just a best friend.
Raising his suddenly heavy head, Jack tried to force strength into his words, although it was pure agony…because all he wanted to do was use every last bit of it to hold his friend until the pain seeped away. “Daniel…Janet died doing what she believed in.”
“It should have been me.”
The words were whispered without hesitation or regret, causing another piece of Jack’s heart to fall and gain companionship in its descent by the rain that had lost its grip on the clouds.
How many times must a guy die for a cause before he stops regretting not dying for another? How many times must a man lose his life, before he refuses to so readily offer it? How many pieces of Jack’s heart already lay strewn about the galaxy and SGC for every time he’s lost this man?
“Daniel, I think I speak for everyone when I say, bite your tongue!”
Surprised by Jack’s words, Daniel spun around, which gave his friend the perfect opportunity to grasp both of his shoulders. They just stared at each other like that—brother to brother, mourner to mourner, as the rain poured down.
Daniel could feel Jack’s grip tighten and loosen as he fought for the right words to say. He could see the anguish etched all over the older man’s face for his inability to take the pain away.
He could identify with the wind that slapped him back and forth, as it bargained for easier passage. And he thanked the rain as it hid the tears he feared might have escaped and thought of how appropriate it actually was…
Because the rain poured down around him, just like his life. Sinking down into every depression of the earth…just where he’d like to be hiding. It soaked him to the weary bone and threatened to bring him to his knees in a sobbing fit.
The drops that had actually made if off of him plunged to the ground in a spectacular spray of the sorrow they’ve been tainted with.
How many more were to be lost for the sake of survival?
How many more for the sake of the stand?
How many more?
For the longest time, Daniel couldn’t believe she was gone. Actually he still couldn’t. He felt the earth tremble with her loss… still he denied. He tried to convince himself that there was a mistake—even as his hands refused to let him forget the feel of her warm blood.
Blood that should have been his.
Jack’s breath caught at the sight of utter desolation in the eyes of his friend. How would he ever get this man to realize how much he meant to the team. To Jack?
How could he get him to understand…that as great of a loss Janet was, that as much as it’s tearing them up inside…it could never compare to what it felt like to lose the soul of the SGC. It could never compare to what it felt like to lose him.
How can I make it harder for this man to give up his life? Jack thought selfishly.
Daniel felt another squeeze of his shoulders and it took all he had not to push his best friend away. He didn’t deserve this comfort. How dare he so readily offer it?
For weeks he had tried to swallow the pain. Ignore the constant thumping of a survivor’s heart. He refused to talk with anyone, even Jack after Bergman left. He closed up and refused all, even himself, access to that day.
But after having yet another woman die in his arms, yet another life he could not save—he found that he was suddenly powerless against the rush of his memories. They poured over him like a wave…and Daniel knew it wouldn’t be long before he drowned.
“She shouldn’t have died, Jack!” he yelled, coming up for air as he broke free and stepped back from the consoling gesture.
“And what? That means you were?” Jack’s anger easily penetrated the storm. “Damnit, Daniel!”
“If…if only I had seen it coming. I could have pushed her out of the way! Gotten in front of her…something! She wasn’t supposed to die, Jack. That’s not her job. Healing was her job!” he cried.
Jack glared. “You arrogant son-of-a-bitch!”
“Excuse me?!” Daniel asked incredulously, out of breath from his ranting.
His eyes were feral now and doing a lousy job concealing his rage. Jack hadn’t seen them that lit up since the funeral when he was still refusing to talk to anyone. Then he could sense pure anger building up and spreading inside his friend like a wildfire and now it was searching for release.
“What? You think you’re the only one that has the right to sacrifice yourself…put your life on the line? Die?”
“What? No! Of course not!” Daniel yelled, whipping his arms through the air. “She just…”
The linguist’s words caught as he struggled for breath and purpose. And Jack watched as the fire finally began to seep from his body to be doused by the rain—leaving his friend trembling with fatigue and depression…just another part of the emotional rollercoaster the archaeologist was far from getting off of.
“…she saved lives, Jack. Yours, mine…everyone’s. She saved us, Jack. She wasn’t supposed to die for us,” Daniel’s voice sounded so small, so lost as his eyes pleaded with him to understand. It was a look Jack was all too familiar with. A look that has both filled him with rage and overwhelmed him with sorrow.
Daniel turned his back to Jack and Jack’s hair rose at the amount of energy the younger man was using not to completely fall off the tracks.
“Every time we walked through the gate, Jack…every time, I used to try and prepare myself…I guess maybe, in a way…I still do. I used to tell myself that this could be it. That this time I might lose one of you. This time might be the last time all four of us stand before the ramp. This time might be the time I come home alone.” A sigh slipped between his lips and Daniel had to bite them to prevent the sob that so eagerly wanted to follow. “You see, Jack…I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t stand to lose any of you…I couldn’t lose my family, Jack…not again…not even after I ascended. But I also knew we couldn’t stop fighting…or I’d end up losing you anyway.”
“It was a risk we all accepted,” he continued remorsefully.
“So as…” Daniel paused with a painful chuckle, “…as stupid and even as morbid as it might have been…I’ve always tried to set myself up for that moment…set myself up for the fall. Not that it would have lessened the shock…not that it could ever lessen the …” His words trailed off with a painful expression across his face. Biting his lips again, he looked up and closed his eyes to the sky, offering himself to the storm.
When it didn’t claim him, he was forced to continue. “But I…I didn’t see this coming.” His voice cracked and left Jack’s heart exposed.” I never prepared myself for…” Daniel shook his head and visibly quaked.
Walking around to face a man Jack would have been proud to call son, he placed his hands back over the trembling shoulders. “First of all, Daniel…” Jack’s voice was soft—loud enough only to be heard over the falling water, “…do you have any idea how many times we’ve already died?”
Daniel looked up at him and Jack knew what he was thinking. How many times had the sarcophagus and other means pulled them back from the grasps of the reaper? But that wasn’t what Jack was thinking at all.
“We’ve died, Daniel…we’ve died every time with you. Every time we thought you were dead, every time…hell, every time you did die Daniel, we died too. So the next time we’re standing at that ramp, remember that the only way we can all come home…is with you. You hear me? Quit preparing yourself for our fall…instead, how bout having more confidence in the worth of your own wings.”
“And don’t look at me like that either,” Jack added. “If you tell anyone I got all mushy, I’ll let it out that I caught you watching “The Power Rangers” last week.”
Jack thought he saw a ghost of a smile before his archaeologist ducked his head.
“Janet shouldn’t have died, Daniel…but I guarantee she wouldn’t have survived losing you again,” he stressed, squeezing his friend’s shoulders, hoping to both offer and receive strength from the gesture.
Daniel absorbed Jack’s words with an aching heart. And he wanted nothing more than to dismiss them, ignore them—because it was just too damn hard to accept something sincere about himself when all he could feel was pain.
The pain he caused.
The pain he couldn’t prevent.
But he was so tired and the constant thumping of his heart was getting louder…urging him to move on and let go with every ounce of blood it pushed through his veins.
Daniel, of course, wasn’t about to let go…he might never let go. But…perhaps…perhaps, he could loosen the grip a little. And in doing so, create room for someone else to help carry his burden.
But before he took that step, he needed something first. He could feel Jack tighten his grip on his shoulders, and Daniel raised his head against the rain to plead with his best friend once more.
Jack recognized the look in Daniel’s eyes, but this time it wasn’t a plea for understanding. It was a plea for a promise.
Daniel wanted Jack tell him that one day it would be okay. That they…that he will make it through it…that Jack would help him make it through it. He wanted Jack to promise him that he’ll never be alone to fight his demons if he didn’t want to be. That one day the fighting will cease and instead of mourning, they’ll actually be able to thank those for their sacrifices and reassure them that they did not die in vain.
They both ached for this guarantee. Despite the fact that they both knew that nothing was as unstable as a promise built on wishes.
Still, cupping his best friend’s cheek, Jack laid the first block. “I’m right here, Danny. I’m right here,” he whispered with conviction and pulled him into his embrace.
The rain fell…and so did Daniel.
Jack eased the descent of his now sobbing friend, while whispering the empty promises they both longed to hear. They would remain like that, clinging to each other, begging mercy from the elements until which ever faded first. The tears…or the warm rain they blended with.