"To Kinsey," Elizabeth said, raising her gin and tonic to clink it against Daniel's glass.
"To Kinsey," Daniel replied, raising his second drink. "I wish
Jack had been here to see this. May our former Vice President rot in – where
is it that politicians go when they've been run out of town?"
"American University. Or Harvard, or Northwestern – you know, one of the
big names. He'll probably make millions of dollars on his next lecture tour," Elizabeth
said, then shrugged. "Even Newt got a million-dollar book contract."
"And we still have to justify the budget for an extra box of paper clips." Daniel frowned, then swallowed some of the bourbon, schooling his face into a relaxed expression as the fire scorched his throat. He didn't want to be here at O'Malley's, with someone he knew just well enough to feel he had to remain on his best behavior. He wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere dirty and grimy where he'd look entirely out of place and wouldn't have to talk to anyone. He knew exactly the bar he wanted to go to. Unfortunately, it was around the corner from his old apartment near the University of Chicago, and he was hundreds of miles away. All of the dive bars he'd seen in Colorado Springs had posters for KKK meetings in the bathrooms, which was a little too far gone for even Daniel's bad mood.
"On the other hand, how many chances do two linguists ever get to save the world?" Elizabeth said, with a little laugh.
Daniel shrugged, turning back to his bourbon. "I'm not sure I'm a linguist anymore."
"Of course you are." Elizabeth put her hand over his. "Just because you've become more than that, doesn't make you less of a linguist," Her low voice was firm with her inimitable intense conviction, the kind that made you nod along and agree before you even realized what you were agreeing to. She smiled at him. "I've seen your library at the Mountain, Daniel. You're a linguist, no matter what your other duties are." She leaned in toward him, squeezing his hand just a little, in a way that felt comforting. Her eyes sparkled, and she was close enough that he could smell her, an aura of musk and vanilla, through the haze of cigarette smoke and spilled beer. "Frankly, I'm rather jealous of your library. And I hear the one you have at home is even more impressive,"
Daniel smiled, a little shyly. "I've gotten compliments on a lot of things in the past, but never on the size of my library."
"It's prodigious," said Elizabeth saucily. "I've been trying not to steal books from it since the day I arrived at the Mountain. I'd like to see the rest of it."
"I'd love to have you come by sometime," Daniel said.
Elizabeth looked down at her glass, then up at Daniel through her eyelashes. "How about tonight?"
Daniel realized, just then, that her hand was still resting on top of his. He looked away,. He wasn't interested in sex tonight – in fact, the idea made him feel like he was considering peeling his own skin off – but it might be worth it, just to have a way to stop thinking, just to have another warm body to hold on to until morning. And Elizabeth was the first woman he'd really been interested in, since –
He closed his eyes suddenly, feeling guilty. It had only been a few months. No one should be replaced that easily, he thought. Especially not her. When he found himself not thinking about her, he felt guilty, like it was a betrayal.
As he thought, Elizabeth took her hand away. "I'm sorry, that was inappropriate," she said, her voice taking on a clipped, official tone.
"No, no," he said, taking her hand. "It's not that. You're –" How
was he supposed to handle these things? He imagined that he'd known how, back
before he'd ascended, but since he'd come back he just hadn't spent much time
socializing like this, not with anyone who didn't know him well. And the last
time someone had approached him like this, it had been her, and he'd said yes. "You
are a fascinating, beautiful woman."
"But we work together," Dr. Weir said. She was Dr. Weir now, not Elizabeth, all cool professionalism.
"No. Or – not exactly," Daniel said. "I–" He
stared at the bourbon angrily for a moment, then knocked the rest back in one
quick swallow, slamming the glass on the bar with a little more force than was
strictly necessary. "I was – involved, with someone I worked with."
"And it went badly?" Dr. Weir asked, both of her hands now wrapped around her glass.
"You could say that," Daniel said, looking at his empty glass. He considered ordering another bourbon, or maybe the cheapest tequila they had. The bourbon didn't seem to hurt enough, and there was only one person he'd ever drunk tequila with. "She died."
"I'm so sorry," Weir responded, in exactly the practiced tone one used for sympathy when one was personally untouched by the tragedy. Daniel remembered hearing that tone over and over again when he was a child and someone brought up his dead parents. "Was it recently?"
"Yes." He met her eyes, a little reckless because of all the bourbon. "You might have heard about her." His voice was chilly with anger – anger at Weir for being so untouched by it, anger at the Jaffa for killing Janet, anger at the soldier who had done such a shitty, shitty job of covering them, anger at himself for fumbling with that goddamn video camera instead of pulling out his sidearm as soon as he had a hand free.
Weir's eyes went wide with realization, and she sat back in her chair a little. "Dr. Frasier. I'm sorry – that wasn't in any of the reports."
"No one knew," Daniel sighed, all of the anger leaking out of him suddenly, leaving him hollow. "We didn't – if it didn't work out, it was better if no one knew."
"I understand," she said, and from the look on her face, it wasn't just an academic understanding. "You didn't tell anyone afterwards?"
"What was I supposed to say? 'Oh, by the way, we've been having a secret love affair?' That's a little melodramatic." Daniel pushed the glass across the bar, into the lip where the bartender made the drinks. It fell on its side, rolling over the rubber mat right toward the edge. He hoped it would crash to the floor with a satisfying shatter, but instead it rolled back toward him, banging gently against the raised lip of the mat, then rolled a little in the other direction. He had the momentary urge to take Weir's glass and throw it against the opposite wall, just to watch the chaos, and knew he was done drinking for the night. He took out a twenty and a five and left them on the bar – if he was going to ruin the mood, he'd at least pay for her drink. "I'm sorry," he said, putting one hand on her shoulder, because he sincerely meant it. "I think – I think I need to go home."
Weir nodded, and looked down the bar, raising one hand to flag the bartender and holding up her glass. "I'll see you in the morning, Doctor."
Daniel put his hands in his pockets and walked out of O'Malley's.
He knew after two drinks he probably shouldn't be driving, and if Jack had been there he would have made Daniel take a cab. But he wasn't there – again. He'd stuck his head into an Ancient's repository –again. And now, instead of keeping Daniel from doing something stupid, he was frozen in Antarctica, waiting for the day that someone would come up with a solution, a way to take the information out of his head. The Asgard weren't returning their calls, and Daniel was starting to wonder if Jack would be down there, frozen, long after he and Sam and even Teal'c were gone.
Aveo, amacuse, Jack's voice whispered in his head.
Jack didn't think they were going to get him back, either.
Somehow Daniel wasn't surprised where he wound up at the end of his long, wandering drive. A waste of gas to drive so long and wind up so close to the bar, he thought. He parked around the back, in the quiet neighborhood that abutted the graveyard. The overseer had put a chain-link fence across a gap in the stone wall, but it wasn't fastened down, and Daniel slipped inside the graveyard easily, as he always did. He really should mention it to someone – there had been a rash of graveyard vandalism over the past month – but he didn't want to lose his private access point. With the ease of routine, he took his familiar path down to her gravesite.
He stood in front of her tombstone for a minute, arms folded around himself.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I should have brought you flowers."
The cemetery was quiet, not even a breath of air ruffling his hair.
"I miss you, you know," he said. "I – I got invited to a conference. In Boston. I wanted to take you."
The dry, cold air began to seep through his shirt, and he pulled his jacket tightly closed around him.
"Jack's gone." He was surprised when his voice came out a choked whisper. "And
you're gone and…you know, it's funny. When my parents died, I got used
to taking care of myself, and then…and you and Jack made me get used
to having someone to take care of me. And now…"
Oh, hell. He pulled off his glasses, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand. "You
know what I miss most? I miss waking up in the middle of the night, and realizing
we were holding hands under the pillow. Waking up and knowing you were there,
and you'd be there in the morning. I just – if I could do that one more
He couldn't stop shivering. His eyes burned. He shouldn't have had that bourbon – any of it.
"After you were gone I – my bed still smelled like you. It doesn't anymore." He looked away from her grave, to the dim lights of the city. "I feel like you're vanishing."
Janet was still and silent under the earth.
"People say, 'she's gone to a better place'. But if there was a better
place to go to, wouldn't the Ascended know? Wouldn't I know? Wouldn't I have
gone there, instead of with Oma? If there was a better place, then why would
the Ancients have become beings of pure energy rather than moving on to the alternative?
You're just – gone. And all the pieces you left behind are slipping away."
He was crying now, fully, and he hated himself for this. Making a midnight visit to his dead secret lover's tombstone so he could cry over her grave – it was like a scene from a Victorian gothic novel. He felt pathetic, and maybe a little insane. No more bourbon, he promised himself. No matter how good an idea it seemed at the time.
The sound of clanking chains made his head snap up, and the adrenalin forced the tears down. Someone was coming in the front gate.
That's all I need, he thought, to get arrested for trespassing in a graveyard. That would really be the culmination of the past few months. He brushed one hand over Janet's tombstone, whispering goodbye, and walked, quickly, into the shadow of the trees, beginning a long, looping circuit back to his car.
As he walked, he began to think a little. Why would the caretaker come in the front gate? His parking space was in the back; if he was coming to check on the cemetery he'd go through his little gate next to it.
Cemetery vandals, Daniel thought to himself, and balled his fists up in his pockets. Going back to Janet's grave was stupid, but he didn't want anything to happen to it. He'd done a terrible job of protecting her in life; the least he could do was take care of her in death.
As he came closer to Janet's tombstone, sticking to the shadows, he heard a familiar
female voice drifting over the cemetery, snatches of murmured words. "Frozen…never got the chance to tell him…" He couldn't see anything, and
saw bright blonde hair shining just above the tombstone.
Oh, Sam, he thought, feeling a bright shaft of sympathy pierce through him. He suddenly felt far less crazy and pathetic, less alone.
When he heard "Daniel," he froze, wondering if she knew. She kept talking. "worries
He stepped closer, circling around. He could see her in profile now, He'd watch her, just for a minute, just to make sure she was okay, and then he'd go – he didn't want to intrude. "Why'd you have to die on me? It wasn't fair," she said, and he caught himself smiling. Wasn't that what he'd been thinking about Jack, just a little while ago?
"God-damnit, Janet, I'm being pathetic," she said, mirroring his own conversation with the dead. He could feel her spiraling self-recrimination beginning to set in, just like his had a little earlier.
"You're not pathetic, Sam," he said, stepping toward her.
She jerked in shock. "Daniel," she said, looking a little nervous.
"I come here to talk to her," he shrugged, feeling awkward. "It's very therapeutic."
She sighed. "Daniel, this isn't easy."
"Isn't it?" Daniel responded, but Sam didn't seem to hear the irony in his voice.
"No," She sounded angry now, but anger was better than crying. "She's dead, Jack's frozen, and the war..." Sam's voice drifted off.
"Yeah." He moved closer, and looked down at her, trying to think of something to say. He remembered being good at this sort of thing, once, but that was before he'd ascended.
No. That was before he'd lost Janet and Jack. It felt like so much had been taken from him that he didn't have anything left to give anyone else.
Sam looked up at him. "Grab some grass," she said, patting the spot next to her.
Suddenly, he was afraid if he sat next to her that something terrible would happen to her, too. "It's cold."
She shrugged. "So?"
He snorted a little laugh, then sat down ungracefully next to her, bumping her shoulder with his, glad for the warmth.
"Got any fabulous insights into death, Dr. "I've been Ascended" Jackson?" She gave him an ironic smile, her cheeks still wet. He could smell the alcohol on her breath. Hard liquor and midnight graveyard break-ins, he thought. She really was his twin.
"Nope," he lied, not wanting to tell her all the things he'd just said to Janet. "How about you? You've died a few times."
"Yeah." She sighed and stared out across the graveyard. Daniel sat up a little bit, moving closer to her. "I bet my taxi's gone," she mused.
"It's OK," he said. "I'll give you a ride."
"Thanks," she said, resting her head on his shoulder. He tilted his head to rest it on top of hers, and they sat for a few minutes in silent companionship. Despite the cold, he felt himself beginning to drift off. Suddenly Sam shivered, violently.
"Told you it was cold," Daniel said, lifting his head.
She looked up at him with a wry little smile. "Know-it-all."
"Geek," he responded.
"I may be a geek, but I'm the geek who keeps that piece of trash you call
a car running," Sam replied. "Take me home."
He shoved himself up from the tombstone with a grunt, then reached down to pull Sam to her feet. They both brushed a hand over Janet's tombstone before walking out of the cemetery.
We live for feedback.