Summary: Daniel is dying, and Jack is having an epiphany
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Jack O'Neill/Daniel Jackson
Original Story: Unrequited by capedcrusader92
Notes: General spoilers through 5.21 - "Meridian"; many thanks to muck_a_luck for the delightfully quick beta.
Enough (The Cambiata Answer Remix)
It isn't until Daniel is on his deathbed that Jack realizes he loves him.
They'd always been close—too close—since that first mission on Abydos. Jack had been a broken shell of a man, and Daniel poked and prodded him, forcing him to see where his pieces could be put back together. He’d been surprised how hard it was to leave the spectacled geek behind.
And he'd been even more surprised how good it felt to get him back
They'd gone through so much—the two of them, the four of them—that it would have been impossible for them to not be as close as they were. Daniel had explained it once, with a complicated metaphor about pressure and coal and diamonds. Jack had made the obligatory crack about not being made of dinosaur remains, and watched gleefully as Daniel sputtered.
Daniel was so easy to tease, and Jack loved doing it. Sure, Daniel had seen through his dumb act ages ago, but he still played along.
He didn't know when it began to change, when that closeness became a weapon, a map to each of their most sensitive parts. It was gradual, like the way Carter hid behind her technobabble, like the way Teal'c withdrew into his silence like a shroud.
Sure, he could point out specific events—Edora, Sha're's death, the Replicator mission—but most of the time it felt like Daniel suddenly wasn't there, retreating back into himself, buried inside his artifacts and his books, like Jack had never been inside his walls at all.
He was walking by the open door of Carter's lab when he heard Daniel's voice. "Promise me something," he was saying. Jack didn't know when Daniel became so world-weary, so lost-sounding. "Promise you'll never forget me."
Jack didn't stay to hear her answer.
He stopped by Daniel's office later that day, drifting in the door with a purposefully casual air. "Y'okay?"
Daniel looked up at him, and he looked even worse than he'd sounded. "I'm tired, Jack."
"Get some sleep?" Jack offered, though he knew that wasn't what Daniel had meant. What else was there for him to do?
"O'Neill," Teal’c said to him that afternoon, in the gym. "Please explain the phrase 'unrequited love'. I do not believe I understand the way it is used on your planet."
Jack stopped mid-sit-up and thought for a minute. "Where did you hear it?"
"Something that DanielJackson said," Teal'c said. "I did not think it related to the topic at hand."
Jack shrugged and went back to his sit-ups. He wasn't the one to try to translate the inner workings of the mind of Daniel Jackson. Even if maybe he wanted to.
And then there was Kelowna, which should have been a cakewalk and turned out to be one of the worst missions of Jack's career. Lost his archeologist, almost lost the whole damned planet—even if they might have deserved it, genocide was a big no-no in Jack's book—and it wasn't fair. He was the soldier, it was his job to take those kinds of risks. Not Daniel's.
Never Daniel's. And now never again.
Back at the beginning, before they'd set their routines, before those routines became a net that held them too tightly together, Jack has a perfect morning forever trapped in the amber of his memory. They were offworld, just waking up after an uneventful night spent in pup tents.
Jack had taken the second-to-last watch, so he'd been awake to hear Daniel and Carter talking long into the night about the Goa'uld language's similarities to Arabic and the astrophysics of binary star systems. He hadn't commented, but in the morning, when they rolled out of the tent, tired but happy and still talking, Jack had found himself giving them the same look he'd given Charlie when the boy had set up all night reading comic books under the covers by flashlight.
Daniel's answering smile was brilliant.
But now Daniel is dying, doing a depressingly good imitation of one of his mummies.
And Jack realizes that the most important thing in his life is dying once again. And there's nothing he can do.
And he finds he can't even tell him. He's having an epiphany, and he can't say a word.
So he sits at Daniel's bedside, and maybe he holds his hand on the sly, and hopefully it'll be enough.
He knows it will never be enough.