<A Birthday story for Tazzie >
Happy Birthday, Tazzie. Hope this does make you happy.
Tag for Menace
I wanted to let him grieve. God knows, I was so pissed off with all that had happened because of his belief that this girl… this robot could be redeemed and would stop before anyone else got hurt, it was all I could do to face him right now.
“Stupid son of a bitch,” he’d called me. Seemed he wasn’t thinking too highly of me right now either.
I turn away, issuing orders for the clean up to begin, letting the silence hang heavily between us. After a while though, I can't stand to see him sitting there, hunched over in pain and defeat. I stand over him and hold out a hand. "Let's get you to the infirmary."
He cuts a glance up at me, his eyes still filled with sorrow and anger in equal measure, his face a stony mask of resolute self-righteous indignation. "I'm fine."
I have to hold back a curse. At first I’d thought that he was merely grieving the death of this young girl, at least that’s the way he thought of her. Was upset that he’d not been able to make her see reason. Instead he’d rounded on me, cursing me for not waiting, insisting he’d gotten through to her. Couldn’t he understand that we had no way of knowing that? Still didn’t know for sure if she’d turned the replicators off herself or whether that had been caused by her death. Now was not the time for admitting I’d felt uneasy from the moment she took her first breath, had tried to dismiss the feeling as a pang of jealousy because she seemed to be smitten with my lover.
"You're not fine," I retort, barely holding onto the fury that had swamped me when we'd finally broken through the door to see him standing in front of her, begging her to go to sleep. I was still trying to stop shaking from the fear I'd felt, knowing he was locked in there with her and I might never hold him in my arms again. I wasn't too successful. I could feel the shudders running through me that threatened to send me to my knees beside him. Suck it up, I admonish myself silently. He's hurting a lot worse than you are. "You've got a broken wrist," I grind out through jaws clenched so tightly I’m sure I'll crack a tooth. "Let's get you to the infirmary."
He starts to rise then hesitates, looking back again at the dead child-machine beside him. "What about Reece?"
"It'll… She'll be taken down to the lab. Carter wants to take a look at her."
“After that?" His hand strays down to brush a lock of hair from her forehead in that gentle, familiar gesture I've seen so often.
"I don't know. Daniel, come on. Let me take you to the infirmary."
He lets me help him up then, wavering on his feet but unwilling to accept more than the most basic support from me. My heart clenches at that. So many times lately, when things have gone bad, it’s seemed we only had each other to lean on. Now we've lost even that. It makes me want to shoot the freaking robot all over again, for ruining what we had.
I steer him toward the exit door and we make it to the infirmary without another word being exchanged between us. By the time I get him to Janet, he’s gray with pain and barely walking on his own, finally allowing me to do what I'd wanted for so long, hold him against me and feel for myself that he’s mostly okay.
Shooed from the infirmary by one of Janet's no-nonsense nurses, I sit in the waiting room and go over and over the past hour in my head until I’m dizzy with the what-ifs and whys. I am still certain that if I hadn't fired on Reece, a whole lot more people would have died today, but I know that deep down inside, that's not what bothers me the most, or Daniel.
It's the damn trust thing rearing its ugly head again. Daniel always sees the intrinsic good in people, not that it’s been to his benefit a lot of the time. Maybe I’m too suspicious by nature but it’s what has kept my team and me alive on too many occasions to count.
I stand when the infirmary door opens and Daniel walks out, followed by Janet. He still looks entirely too pale and his wrist is encased in a dark blue cast, supported in a sling. His eyes are bloodshot and he’s looking everywhere except at me. I, in turn, look at Fraiser. “You give him some of the good stuff?”
She gives a tiny smile and nods. “He’s got some more of it in his pocket. No more than two every four hours and I want to see him again in the morning. Check the swelling and make sure the cast isn’t too tight. He should keep it elevated –“
“I am here, you know,” Daniel cuts in. He glares at Janet who simply gazes back at him with that calm, don’t give me any crap, mister look that has even Hammond backing down. It works. Daniel sighs and rubs the bridge of his nose. “You told me everything a few minutes ago. I’ve got a broken wrist, not memory loss.”
“And, like the rest of your team, a proclivity for not doing what your doctor tells you,” Janet adds. “Now the colonel knows too.”
The way she says that makes me wonder if she’s reading more into our relationship than she should. What am I talking about? We are in a relationship. It’s just nobody knows about it. At least, I didn’t think they did…
“Come on,” I say to Daniel, reaching out to grasp his arm, aborting the movement when he shrugs me away, “I’ll give you a ride home. Night, Doc.”
The drive to my place is as silent as the trip down to the infirmary was and if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought Daniel had drifted off. I can see his reflection, though, in the side window as he stares unblinking at the passing scenery. I don’t think he even registers we’ve bypassed his apartment.
By the time we make it through the front door, I can’t take the silence or the chill any longer. “I’m sorry,” I say. He looks up at that but before he gets his hopes up that the great Jack O’Neill is going to admit being wrong, I rush on, “I’m sorry I had to shoot her. We couldn’t wait any longer. The replicators were getting stronger. I had no choice.”
His eyes glitter blue ice and I know I should be dead where I stand. “You didn’t know that,” he grinds out. “She was shutting them down!” A tear overflows from one eye and he wipes it away angrily with the heel of his hand.
Shit! He we go again. I hear the ding of a bell in my head and I can imagine those scantily clad girls walking around the ring, announcing round two. “Daniel –“
He shakes his head. “You didn’t trust me to know what I was doing! Daniel, the geek, needing good ol’ Jack to ride to the rescue and pull his ass out of the fire again.”
And a mighty fine ass it is too. Not now, I admonish myself. He’s just getting started.
“You just smashed in there, guns blazing! Shoot to kill! That’s all you know, isn’t it?”
“Because I was terrified she was going to kill you!”
The walls seem to echo my words and then silence descends. We stand, staring at each other, chests heaving as though we’ve just run a marathon, energy and anger depleted. Daniel takes a step forward and reaches out to touch my face, brushing his fingers over my cheek.
“Sometimes, this, ‘for the good of the many’ bullshit just doesn’t cut it,” I say wearily. I catch his hand before he can pull it away and turn it over to kiss the palm. “Sometimes, it’s just about the good of the one. I’m sorry,” I whisper.
He nods, then closes the distance between us, wrapping his arms around my waist, holding on so tightly, I can scarcely breathe. Doesn’t matter. Who needs air when you have this? I feel a glimmer of hope that we’re past this, that he gets it. Understands that I did what I had to do… for him, and for me.
“Do you really think you’re a geek?” I ask as I run my hands down his back, feeling the tension in his muscles ease.
“No,” he says against my chest, “but you do. You call me a geek all the time.” He pulls away from me and grabs my hand, leading me toward the bedroom.
“Do not,” I counter, eagerly following him.
I grin at his back. “Do not.”
“But you’re my geek, right?”
He stops so suddenly, I almost run into him. “Yes, Jack.”
He turns to look at me and launches the only weapon known to man that can melt Jack O’Neill down to his boots. He smiles. Not a full-faced, eyes crinkling, you’re the sunshine of my life smile. There’s still a little sadness there. Grief for Reece, disappointment in me, but it’s a start. And it’s enough… for now.