"What the hell was that?" Daniel asked as he and Jack walked into Daniel's office. "Why don't I kiss her?"
"Sleeping Beauty, Prince Charming..."
"I caught the reference," Daniel said. "Why?"
"Seemed to fit the moment," Jack said casually. "You with your 'White Knight' fixation and all."
"Daniel, just remember it's a robot." Jack looked away, pretending to fuss with one of Daniel's artifacts. He knew Daniel didn't intentionally set himself up as a rescuer of fair maidens, certainly didn't think of himself that way, but that's what happened all the same. Daniel was a sucker for a woman in distress. Okay, to be fair--anyone in distress. Daniel could be a little... blind at times.
"An alien robot, Daniel. We don't know what she's capable of. We don't even know what she was originally programmed to do."
"What's your point?"
"I'm just saying don't get too attached," Jack cautioned.
"We could learn a lot from her."
"Well, I'm going to go see if I can learn anything from her. About her," Daniel said firmly, giving Jack a rebuking glare as he left the office. Jack dropped his head with a sigh. It was going to go wrong; it almost always did. And somehow, when the shit hit the fan, it would be Jack's fan. It almost always was.
"I try to resist the urge to shove you through a wall."
Daniel just looked up at Jack, his expression wary. Jack grit his teeth. Why couldn't he get Daniel to understand this? She was a machine. She was psychotic. She was dangerous. And she was going to hurt Daniel. This Jack knew like he knew his own name. Jack might have been kidding, a little, earlier when he urged Daniel to kiss Reese and wake her up, but there was an element of truth to the taunt.
Every time Daniel played the knight in shining armor, something he seemed compelled to do, he got hurt. And Reese had just proved that she was just another 'damsel in distress' who was capable of handing Daniel his head--in this case, quite literally. So what if she didn't like what Daniel had to say? That didn't give her the right to crack his skull open.
If anyone had the right to smack Daniel's head against a wall, it was Jack. He was the one who'd been taking Daniel's crap for years and never so much as laid a hand on him. Jack was the one who'd comforted Daniel when he'd lost his wife. Jack was the one who'd put himself in front of an armed and addicted Daniel because he wasn't willing to see Daniel lose that battle... or any other if Jack could help it.
Jack had fought with, laughed with and loved Daniel with everything he had. And he still didn't know how to get Daniel to recognize his own recklessness. He couldn't, no matter how hard he tried, convince Daniel that he shouldn't be so damn quick to put himself in harm's way.
Jack despaired of ever getting Daniel to comprehend that his life was worth more to Jack than anyone or anything in the entire snake ridden galaxy.
Jack was going to go nuts if they didn't get that blast door open. Certifiably apeshit. His head was going to explode from the pressure if they didn't get the god damn door open now. He needed to be there. Where Daniel was. With the Bride of Chuckie. Jack needed to know what the hell was going on.
"Colonel." Carter's voice crackled in his ear. "I think Reese is losing control. One of the replicators down here started to act on its own."
Fuck. Jack checked his watch quickly, knowing that the auto-destruct was rapidly approaching zero. Personally, it wasn't going to matter a whole lot either way to Jack if he got into the gate room and found Daniel torn apart by bugs.
Suddenly there was a hole in the door and Jack was through and Daniel out of his line of fire and... Jack truly didn't fully register what happened in those first sixty seconds he was through the door. Nothing more than that there was a threat and Jack neutralized it. It. Not her--it.
"You stupid son of bitch."
And that was the sound of the shit hitting Jack's fan. Again.
Jack shut down. Clamped down hard on his own feelings because he knew, he could see that Daniel was over the edge emotionally. Probably thinking he'd 'failed' again. And how in Christ's name was Jack ever going to make Daniel understand that he shouldn't invest himself personally in every one who crossed his path? Why couldn't he make Daniel understand that Jack wanted him to save some of his soul for people who deserved it. Namely for Daniel himself. And maybe just a small piece for Jack.
Jack calmly, precisely, explained to Daniel what he'd done and why. And then he walked away without another word. He had to. Otherwise he'd rage at Daniel, scream out all his anger and frustration and fear. And that would tear them both into pieces and they might never get back from it.
"So?" Jack said as they walked through his front door, wanting to get the arguing out of the way.
"You didn't have to kill her," Daniel said, easing his jacket off over his splinted arm.
"Yes, I did. Given what I knew at the time, I had no choice."
"She was listening to me."
"How many times were you going to let her hurt you before you realized that she was dangerous?" Jack moved close and lifted the injured arm, holding it gently and grimacing at the swelling. "You said it yourself; she was emotionally unstable. The bugs were everywhere and the auto-destruct was this close to going off. I had to neutralize her."
"Just a few more minutes..."
"She was a machine, Daniel."
"She was alive."
"Damn it, Daniel!" Jack shouted, walking away across the living room. "She'd already hurt you. She had the power to destroy the Earth just like she destroyed her own planet."
"She was shutting them down," Daniel insisted stubbornly.
"Carter said she was losing control."
"And Sam's never wrong," Daniel sniped.
"It was the information I had at the time," Jack said. "Like it or not, my decision was absolutely right given the circumstances."
Daniel just dropped his head, his posture telling Jack to stay away.
"Hey, I gave you a chance."
"General Hammond gave me a chance," Daniel shot back. "You said it was a bad idea."
"Well... it was," Jack said, weary of the futility.
"Why do you...?" Daniel cut off his words, closed his eyes and breathed a weary sigh. "Why am I here?"
"Why am I at your house? Why am I here with you? You--you think I'm careless, a danger to everyone," Daniel said. "You're angry with me."
"Yes, I am. In fact, earlier today I was furious with you. So damn angry I thought I was going to stroke out."
"Because I fucking love you!" Jack shouted. "Do you not get that? Do you not understand that it makes me angry to see you get hurt over and over again? To know that the reason you get hurt because you put so little value on your own life? Can't you understand that it matters to me?"
"Jack," Daniel said softly, reaching for Jack with his uninjured arm. Jack moved almost without thought, wrapping his arms around Daniel and burying his face in Daniel's neck.
"Damn it, Daniel. You have got to stop doing this," Jack mumbled.
"I can't stop being who I am, Jack."
"You were crying over a robot, Daniel," Jack said. He pulled back, his left hand cupping Daniel's face as his thumb stroked his cheek. "A machine."
"I'm just... so tired of it always being about killing," Daniel said, dropping his head to Jack's shoulder. "I'm tired of being a part of the killing."
"I know," Jack said, resigned.
"If I can save anyone--yes, even a robot--I have to try."
"Do you understand what that does to me?" Jack asked.
"I think so," Daniel said after a brief hesitation.
"Then promise me you won't sell yourself so cheap."
"Jack..." Daniel protested, lifting his head to look at Jack.
"No, I'm serious here," Jack said, looking into Daniel's eyes. "It's one thing to risk your life to save other people... lots of other people... a whole fucking planet in fact. That's understandable, even acceptable. Throwing your life away for a machine is not."
"Jack," Daniel said, starting to sound exasperated.
"I promise to be more careful," Daniel said dutifully.
"Ah!" Jack said, wagging a finger at him. "Careful isn't enough. Promise you'll stop being so quick to throw your life away."
"I wasn't throwing my life away."
"That's what it looked like to me."
"Okay, fine--I promise I won't risk my own life unless it's to save a whole fucking planet. Happy?"
"Happy?" Jack said, putting his arm around Daniel's waist and guiding him down the hall toward the bedroom. "I'm old. My best friends are a woman genius--whom I can't understand half of what she says on a good day--and a guy with a snake in his gut. I've got gray hair and bad knees and a lover who insists on scaring the bejesus out of me at every opportunity.
"Happy? Hell, Daniel, I'm ecstatic."
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