He doesn't want to be here, in this dark space. Not like this, with a glass in hand and the pain of it all throbbing behind his eyes, deep in his brain. Not with the smell of void around him, nothing but the salt of tears he doesn't have and the stench of his life. He knows that the room actually smells of furniture polish and stale coffee, but it's all the same, really. Just his space, always stagnant and a constant reminder of how alone he is, how set apart from everything in the never mundanity of his existence.
He doesn't want Jack here, not tonight. He rarely wants Jack here, in matter of fact, unless everything is light and easy and fueled by the all too rare non-excitement of their jobs. A good mission leads to a happy team, leads to the occasional blending of their lives away from the mountain; a few laughs, a few shared drinks.
Not this. Not this quiet man sitting across from him, waiting.
And Daniel doesn't want to talk about it, doesn't want to tell his failures to this man who now likes him, now worries about him. Daniel doesn't want to feel his voice bubbling up and making a shiny mound in the oil slick he's living under. It's calm under this silky weight, wrapped up in the rainbows waiting to be born. He doesn't want to have that ripped away and something tells him that Jack's here to do just that.
They sit in silence, Jack sipping his drink and Daniel taking more frequent, larger swallows. He's waiting for the numbness to settle in, but it's taking a long time to come tonight. He wonders about that. One bottle for Sha're, far less for Ke'ra, he'd have thought. But it seems that the mess with Ke'ra is demanding a higher price.
The price is always rising for Daniel. The larger the gain, the higher the price, until he's working under a tremendous debt just to exist. One year on Abydos for almost three looking for Sha're. One endless day for the death of Ammonet. And for daring to hold another woman? He doesn't know yet, but he's scared. Ke'ra has already paid, almost paid too much.
"You were going to kill her," he says to the wall, his voice sounding far too calm in his own ears. Maybe the numbness is settling after all.
There's a short silence and Daniel waits for the reasons, the lecture, the platitudes he knows are coming and that he can damn well nearly recite.
"Yes," Jack says finally. With finality.
The silence grows until Daniel can't stand the heaviness of it anymore and has to look, has to see Jack's face so he can tell what is coming next.
Jack's gone. He's sitting there, perched on the chair in the corner and still holding his drink, but the face Daniel knows is just gone. Lost in tired lines and deep creases around his eyes, Jack is years older in the night than he is in the afternoon, aiming a gun at a lady's chest. He's so alive when he's about to kill, but when he's trying to care he's worn out.
And Daniel thinks that's fair.
"Why are you here?" Daniel asks. He realizes that even when he was living in his mind, trapped by the ribbon device and Sha're's message even then Jack had picked his lock to get into the apartment. Locked out in his mind, and yet Daniel has opened the door tonight. He wonders why he puts himself through this and accepts that it's part of the price.
Jack shrugs one shoulder and says, "Waiting for you to see."
"That you don't listen? I knew that."
"No." Jack shakes his head, not fast. "That no matter what she was, she was never going to be what you wanted."
Daniel snorts. "Fuck you."
Jack accepts that and sits there, watching.
Daniel doesn't think. It takes almost all of his concentration not to.
"Destroyer of Worlds," Daniel says under his breath.
"Rebound," Jack says evenly.
Daniel throws his glass, not even hearing it hit the wall with a thud and not a crash.
Jack flinches and stands up. "Doesn't matter when you lost Sha're, Daniel," he says. He's towering over Daniel now, not coming close, merely filling the room. "When Apophis stole her or when she died. Linea-"
"-wasn't going to be your next big love. She was transition, and that hurts like fuck. Hurts that you held her and liked it. Hurts that for a few minutes you forgot. Hurts that she felt different and that you liked that. But she was never going to matter like Sha're did."
"And that makes it better?" Daniel demands. "Makes it okay that you were going to shoot her?"
"Different topic. I would have killed her. To save you? Hell, yes. To stop her from killing anyone else? Damn straight. Because you wanted her? Don't be an idiot."
Daniel stands up, filled with the white heat of anger and not able to keep sitting. He'd not thought, never even considered that Jack would shoot Ke'ra because Daniel laughed with her, admired her. Never thought that Jack would be so selfish. That Jack would think Daniel felt that way.
Jack's faster, less drunk, but he lets Daniel get close. Lets Daniel swing at him, even if he doesn't let Daniel connect.
"Get out," Daniel says into Jack's chest. "Just leave."
Jack backs up, lets Daniel follow him although Daniel doesn't remember taking the steps that keep him rooted, anchored to the dubious stability of Jack O'Neill.
They don't say anything more, but Daniel thinks that there might,
someday, be a limit to the price he pays.