The Birthday Gift

“Bedtime, Daniel,” Jack scolded as his friend continued to doodle in his journal. Daniel was leaning over the dying campfire, trying to write in the fading light. With a grin, Jack thought that if he moved any closer, the book was sure to go up in flames.

“In a minute, Jack,” Daniel answered distractedly.

“Now, Jackson.” Jack’s *colonel* voice finally got his attention and he looked up at Jack, blinking in the dim light. “You have second watch again tonight, and since you stayed up and spent all of Carter’s watch doodling last night, I’ll be damned if I’ll have you nodding off at the negotiations tomorrow.”

Daniel sighed, carefully inserting some loose sheets into the journal. Jack watched with affection as his best friend walked towards his waiting bedroll.

- - - - - -

“Um, we, uh, we drew straws. I lost.” The words echoed in Daniel’s head, making it impossible for him to concentrate on his work. He was ashamed for having tried to get back at Jack with those words, even knowing as he’d said them that Jack had had to do what he did, and say the things he’d said. Once he’d had time to think over that painful conversation at Jack’s house, Daniel had figured out what had been going on. He’d played along as well as he could, hoping to take some pressure off his friend so he could get on with his covert mission.

He heard a soft knock on his door, and turning, saw Sam standing in the doorway, looking a little hesitant.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” he answered back. He squinted at her a moment, before glancing back at the recalcitrant translations lying before him.

“We, uh, Teal’c and I are taking the Colonel out for his birthday. We were wondering if you wanted to join us.”

Birthday?” he squeeked. A quick glance at the calendar proved that today *was* Jack’s birthday. With the excitement of Jack’s supposedly forced retirement and his subsequent return yesterday, following on the footsteps of Jack being stranded on Edora for three months, Daniel had totally forgotten his friend’s birthday. “But I don’t have anything…” The words faded as he realized that he did have something to give Jack, albeit unfinished.

“That’s okay, I’m sure the Colonel will understand. It’s not like we were expecting him to come back and all.”

Daniel looked up at her sharply, realizing that yes, he *had* expected Jack to come back. Maybe not yesterday, but someday, soon. Nobody gets left behind … Jack’s own motto. Daniel would have been approaching General Hammond in another week’s time to offer his own services to rescue Jack had there not been news of his friend.

“You guys going now?” he asked, trying to remember where he’d put that particular journal.

“Yeah, meet you topside?” she asked with a smile.

Rifling through piles of paper on the table beside his desk, Daniel nodded distractedly. After several more minutes of frantic searching, his fingers finally found the sheets of paper that he’d been looking for. Not bothering to remove them from his journal, he placed everything in an envelope and rushed to the lockers to change.

- - - - - -

Jack was overjoyed that his teammates were making an effort to celebrate with him, after the way he had treated them. Carter and Teal’c had understood once Hammond had explained the situation. Daniel had worried him the most, and although he’d joined them for supper, he’d remained uncommonly quiet throughout the meal, looking away in embarrassment every time his eyes met Jack’s.

Carter had asked the restaurant to provide a birthday cake, and they were now enjoying seconds with their coffee. Carter had given Jack several novels and Teal’c a couple of videos. He realized that the gifts had been purchased in a hurry, but he was touched that they had even made the effort.

He wasn’t expecting anything from Daniel, so when his friend reached into his jacket pocket and removed a large bulky envelope, Jack was surprised. He was curious when Daniel slipped his journal from the envelope. Opening the book, Daniel flipped through the pages until he came across several folded sheets of paper.

“I had been planning on giving you these for your birthday, but…with everything that happened lately, I, um, wasn’t able to finish them,” he stammered, embarrassed. With a slightly shaking hand, he passed them on to Jack.

Curious, Jack unfolded the sheets, realizing that this was what Daniel had been doodling in his spare time during their last problem-free mission. The first sheet showed a sketch of Teal’c, one eyebrow raised and a look of inquisitiveness on his face. Jack looked at Daniel in wonderment.

“You drew this?” he asked. Carter and Teal’c leaned over and exclaimed their astonishment over the accuracy of the work.

“Um… yeah.” Daniel was fiddling with his coffee cup, nervously meeting their eyes.

“I didn’t know you drew,” Carter said and she smiled at him over Jack’s shoulder.

“I don’t, I just dabble. Sketching is also a huge help in my work when you can draw what the ruins look like, helps me try and see what they looked like before they became ruins, you know? And like I said, these were rushed. I was going to work on them in detail, and then frame them for you.” Jack saw Daniel’s cheeks redden in embarrassment.

The second sheet showed Carter looking intently at something in her hands. Probably one of her doohickies that was always giving her problems. Jack smiled at the look of concentration on her face. It was an exact replica of his second in command.

“Danny, these are really great,” he said, turning to the last sheet. This one was a picture of Jack looking off into the distance. He was wearing his favourite sunglasses, and his hands, showing his fingerless gloves, were adjusting the fit of his cap. Both Teal’c and Carter were exclaiming over the exactness of the sketches.

Before passing the sheets of paper on to his two teammates, Jack flipped through them once more, realizing that something was missing. He looked up and saw Daniel looking at him with the strangest look. With a pang, he realized that his friend had been worried that Jack wouldn’t like the sketches.

Swallowing, his throat a little tight with emotions, he placed a hand on Daniel’s arm.

“Thank you, Daniel. They’re absolutely wonderful.” Daniel’s relieved smile further tightened the lump in his throat. Clearing his throat before taking a sip of coffee, Jack continued, hoping his voice sounded normal.

“There’s only one thing missing with all of this,” he said. Daniel’s frown brought a smile to his lips. “There’s no picture of you.”

“Oh.” Daniel’s jaw dropped open in surprise.

“You know anyone at the SGC who sketches as good as you do?”

“Um, well, maybe Jeanne. She’s does really great stuff,” he answered in a soft voice.

“Good, then we’ll go and see her tomorrow, and ask if she’ll do one of you.” Jack tried to keep his surprise out of his voice. He’d never have guessed that Hammond’s right hand gal was an artist, and if her talent was of the same calibre as Daniel’s… he was in for a treat.

“Jack, that’s not necessary…”

“Of course it is. With a sketch of you, my gift will be complete. Thanks for everything, kids.”

“Happy Birthday, Jack,” Daniel’s soft voice came from beside him. Jack smiled at the three sitting beside him, thinking that he couldn’t ask for better friends.

FINIS!

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DISCLAIMER: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.