sid: (stargate Sha're Amaunet)
[personal profile] sid
Written in response to the [community profile] jackdanielpromptfic Episode Prompt of the Month for April 2014, this is a 775 word 'Forever In A Day' episode tag. It's rated G, and it's gen or pre-slash as you choose.

Welcome back, [personal profile] paian!

The Path Ahead

The door opened. Jack looked at Daniel as though he'd been expecting to see him. "And this explains why you don't answer your phone." He gestured for Daniel to come in.

"Ah, sorry?"

"That's okay." Jack led the way to the living room.

"We already talked this afternoon." Jack had been checking in on him daily since the funeral.

"You sounded like you needed to talk some more. Maybe." Jack started to sit down, then caught himself. "I'm sorry; can I offer you something? Beer? Leftovers? Stale pretzels?"

Daniel sat in a chair. "No, this won't take long. Thank you."

"Okay." Jack sat down. "Looks like I was right."

"About the talking? Sort of." Daniel snagged the throw pillow behind his back and dropped it beside the chair. Jack's eyes followed it. "I'll put it back," Daniel said, straight-faced.

Jack's lips twitched. "So what brings you by?"

"I've been doing a lot of thinking. Planning."

"Planning, you say."

"Yes. I'll need your help."

"If I can."

Daniel smiled. "Well, that's cautious enough."

Jack smirked.

"I want to bring someone on board. Doctor Robert Rothman. He was my research assistant back when I was working on my first dissertation. I really think he can bring something to the program."

"Talk to Walter. He's a whiz at paperwork. I'll go with you to Hammond when you're ready."

"That was easy."

Jack lifted a hand. "That doesn't get him in. Not before a hefty background check. And his signature on a boatload of non-disclosure agreements. You remember what it was like."

Daniel nodded. "I do. He'll pass. And he'll sign."

"Okay." Jack clapped his hands together. "Anything else I can get Walter to help you with?"

"Yeah, get him to find Kheb for me, will you?"

"Kheb?"

"Kheb. I told you about it on the way back to the 'gate. It's where Amaunet sent the child."

"Supposedly."

"Oh, there's that caution again. Could you at least cautiously agree?"

"To what? Throwing it in Walter's lap?"

"Agree that Sha're wants me to find the boy?"

"Daniel."

"Jack." It came out as a plea.

Jack winced. "Hey, I wasn't there. And you were in the process of having your brain fried. Anyway, Teal'c says only a few seconds went by. I don't think…" He broke off and started again. "Even if what you say happened is possible, was there really enough time for any of it to happen?"

Daniel frowned. "I know it didn't happen."

Jack sat there quietly.

"But I know it was real." He clenched his fists. "The boy was sent to Kheb. Find Kheb, find the boy. Protect him."

"I can't find Kheb for you. Even Walter couldn't pull that one off. Especially since you said yourself it was mythical." Jack spread his hands apologetically.

"Oh, well, if Walter can't…" Daniel sighed, letting his head drop forward. There was a momentary silence in the room.

"I'm sorry."

Daniel looked up at the incautious sincerity of those words. "No. It's-it's all right." He pushed himself out of the armchair and bent to pick up the discarded pillow. He tucked it into one corner of the chair. When he turned, Jack was also on his feet.

"Going?"

Daniel shoved his hand into his pocket. "Hmm."

"You could stay."

"Thanks. No. But…" He nodded and smiled at Jack, who nodded and smiled back. Daniel removed his hand from the pocket and reached it out toward Jack. "Here."

Jack stuck his hand out, and Daniel dropped the key into it. Jack studied the key for a second, then looked at Daniel with raised eyebrows.

"Just in case you ever need it." Daniel shrugged. "So you wouldn't have to break my lock."

"Okaaay." Jack set the key down on the end table.

"Thanks."

"Sure." Jack's hand was on Daniel's shoulder as they walked to the front door.

Daniel turned the knob and stepped through. On the porch, he looked back. Jack's gaze was calm and warm. Daniel chuckled and ducked his head.

"What?"

"I honestly think I would miss all your salty, bad-tempered insults."

After absorbing that for a second, Jack lifted his chin and looked down his nose. "I've got a million of 'em."

Daniel nodded. "Good to know."

"This has been a fun conversation."

Daniel laughed aloud. "Yes; I'm sorry about that."

"Hey, don't worry about it. That's what I'm here for."

Daniel looked down at the car keys in his hand. He saw Jack shift his weight to his other foot. He felt laughter still bubbling inside. He looked up. "You said something about leftovers?"

Jack was smiling broadly as he stepped aside and welcomed Daniel back in.
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