The following work of fanfiction not intended to infringe on the copyright of Showtime, MGM, Gekko, or any other PTB. The characters, setting, and concept are not mine, but the story is. Please don't reproduce, post, or sue without permission from the author.
Rating/Warning: PG Spoilers for "The Enemy Within".
Another sleepless night. Daniel really should be used to them by now, but somehow he couldn't desensitize himself to the nightmares of his wife being ripped away from him by the Goa'uld. That memory was permanently etched into his psyche, and the need to be up and doing something, anything to fix the situation, or at least to not think about it for a time, was overwhelming.
In the couple of weeks since he'd gotten back from Abydos, the complex had been under red alert and shut down to all but the most essential traffic; as a result, he hadn't had a chance to find a new place to stay. He'd become accustomed to wandering the halls of the complex at night, or sitting up in his room staring at the walls, or--when he was really desperate--watching late movies on the one channel that the TVs in the complex received. The guards had gotten used to him wandering around, although he'd been stopped a few times and held a gunpoint once before they came to recognize him.
Tonight, after all that they'd been through the last couple of days, it was harder than ever to sleep. The hope and despair that had gripped him when Kawalski had been infested by the Goa'uld--hope that a way to remove it could be found, then despair when the attempt wasn't successful--had drained him physically, but seemed to have given his mind extra energy to run in futile circles, alternately elated and depressed with the implications for Sha're and Skaara. He knew that there was some way to get them back and refused to accept that he could be wrong, but it still would have made him feel much better to have some proof that he wasn't just fooling himself.
For now, the best he could do was hope, believe, and walk trenches in the complex's corridors. That wasn't nearly enough, but it was all he had to offer--that, and his absolute commitment to Jack O'Neill and the other members of SG-1, who were his best hope for getting his family back.
The corridors of the complex were more populated than usual tonight. General Hammond had apparently seen the need for a higher-level guard. It was something like shutting the barn door after the cows had already set up residence elsewhere, in Daniel's opinion, but it probably made the general feel better.
In spite of the increased number of soldiers, the entire complex was almost eerily quiet, as if it were mourning the passing of one of its own. Kawalski's death earlier that day had affected even those who didn't know him that well. People who did, like Jack and Ferretti, were still reeling. Daniel himself was torn between that grief and his own, more private one, but whichever he was feeling at the moment, it fit right in with the overall mood of the Stargate personnel.
Daniel wondered idly if Jack was able to sleep tonight. How did the colonel react to the loss of a man who, until recently, was part of his command, and who had been a friend, as well? Daniel didn't know him well enough to predict his feelings, but didn't doubt that the older man was grieving. Jack seemed to take a personal interest in all his people, even Daniel, and the loss of one couldn't be easy.
Daniel was still a long way from tired enough to sleep when he gave up and decided to go back to his quarters. He'd made his way almost to the other side of the complex from the room he'd laid claim to. Hopefully by the time he got back, he'd be able to rest. If not--there was that sports magazine he'd gotten from one of the airmen. If that wasn't enough to put him out, he was hopeless.
As he finally neared the area of the complex where the barracks were, he began to hear signs of life. Signs of rather pissed off life, actually. Curious, he followed the sound of the steadily cursing voice to one of the rooms. The door was open, so he poked his head in, then jerked back as a stuffed duffle bag flew through it.
"Jack?" he asked, having identified the inhabitant seconds before he had to move. "Isn't it a little late for this?"
The cursing stopped, so he figured it was safe to go in. The room was a mini-shambles. There hadn't been enough stuff in it to really create chaos, but whatever had been there was strewn across the various available surfaces with no apparent regard for order. Daniel frowned at it, wondering what Jack was doing, then caught sight of the name on one of the uniforms that lay on the bed. Kawalski.
Jack was folding undershirts and shoving them into a second duffle with quick, angry movements, his face set in an unaccustomed scowl. "What are you doing up, Daniel? Isn't it past your bedtime?"
Daniel ignored the sarcastic tone and settled down on the bed, picking up a pair of boxers to fold. "Can't sleep. How 'bout you?"
Jack shrugged. "This had to be done. We need the space. Got too many people double and triple bunking as it is."
"It could have waited until tomorrow," Daniel pointed out gently, handing Jack the boxers and grabbing a handful of socks to sort. Apparently Kawalski wasn't big on organizing laundry--or else Jack had just dumped the contents of the dresser on the bed and started work from there. "None of this was going anywhere."
"Couldn't sleep anyway," Jack said defensively, his eyes focused firmly on the clothes in his hands.
Join the club. "Kawalski was a good friend, wasn't he?"
Jack speared him with hard brown eyes that just bordered on angry. "You're an anthropologist, not a psychologist, Daniel. I don't need the psychobabble."
Daniel looked away, angry and more than a little hurt. He'd only tried to do what Jack had done for him when they'd gotten back from Abydos, to give him someone to talk to before he exploded. Maybe Jack didn't think they were friends enough to talk to him? Grow up, Daniel. Maybe he's just hurting and doesn't know how to show it except by yelling. Fine, then, he listened to me whine, I can listen to him yell. "I just thought you might, you know, want a friend to talk to?"
He heard the older man sigh, then say quietly, "I'm sorry. I'm just a little edgy tonight." There was a pause, then he continued even more softly, "Charlie was a good man. He didn't deserve to die that way."
Daniel felt that like a kick in the stomach. When he could breathe again, he said in the most normal voice he could manage, "Nobody does."
Then he could have kicked himself. This was supposed to be about Jack, not him. There was a long silence, then he felt a weight settle on the bed beside him, and Jack said wryly, "I can't keep my foot out of my mouth tonight, can I?"
Daniel looked up at him, smiling faintly when he saw the concern in the colonel's eyes. "No, you're right. Kawalski of all people didn't deserve that. He was a good friend. I'm just feeling a little . . . gloomy tonight."
Jack put a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, then gave him a little shake. "It's been a long couple of days. You're entitled to a little gloom."
"Thanks. I think," Daniel said dryly. "So, did Kawalski have family to send this to?"
"Yeah, some people in . . . Virginia, I think. He didn't talk much about them."
"What are they going to tell his family about how he died? They can't exactly tell them the truth."
Jack shrugged. "Just the standard "died in the service of his country" line--which is truth enough."
Daniel winced at the pain in Jack's voice. This probably wasn't the first man he'd packed for, the first message sent off to a family waiting for a son or daughter instead of a telegram. "How do you stand this? Knowing people you care about could be killed--will be killed? Doesn't it make you crazy?"
He stopped, realizing that he was beginning to sound just a bit hysterical, and was straying again into his own pain rather than Jack's. He really needed to work on this listening business. With an effort, he focused everything on the older man, shoving his own grief aside. Jack's hand had tightened comfortingly on his shoulder, but his eyes were distant, seeing something inside himself.
"You just find something else to think about. You pack their clothes, you write a letter to their parents, you make sure the duty roster is up to date, you go out and play a game of hockey--whatever it takes to keep you sane, Daniel. Whatever it takes." Jack fell silent for a moment, then asked, "Did I ever tell you about my son?"
Daniel could see the agony the question caused him, and stayed silent for fear of breaking the mood. Jack didn't usually get personal--at least, he didn't usually tell anything personal about himself. The fact that he was opening up now must mean that he really needed to get it out, and while Daniel was surprised that Jack had chosen him to open up to, he wasn't going to ruin the moment.
"He was ten when he died--he was playing with my service revolver. We were sitting outside, heard the shot from his room . . ." Jack paused, swallowing heavily, then continued in a tight voice, "I couldn't do anything after that. Thought I was going crazy. Then General West called me back for the Stargate project, and I had something to keep me occupied." Jack grinned, his eyes focusing back on his audience. "Been a little busy since then."
Daniel forced an answering grin, but it had no real emotion behind it. He was shaken by the pain in Jack's eyes--shaken that he hadn't realized its depth before, that he had thought he was the only one suffering. How selfish could he be? He'd lost his family, but he had some hope of getting them back. Jack would never see his son again. "Jack, I'm . . ."
The older man stopped him with a look. Not angry this time, but pleading for him not to continue. Whatever control he had was frayed at the moment, and Daniel's sympathy could make him lose it completely. Daniel, who knew the feeling intimately, changed the subject. "I'm never going to get to sleep tonight. You want some help finishing this up?"
Jack's grateful look wasn't all for his offer, but neither of them were going to acknowledge that out loud. "Yeah, I could use the help. Kawalski was a good soldier, but he was a slob."
Daniel grinned. "Remind me never to let you clean my room." He bent to work on sorting the socks again, and was never sure if he'd heard Jack's next words correctly--and never intended to ask.
"I hope I never have to."