For Death Knell. I can't join the Heroes-writing hoards yet... not til I've seen the episode on the big screen.
I've been trying to write a Jack-Jake scene circa Season Four for my zine fic *looks at Sue and gulps* and it hasn't been coming easily. This was a much smoother process, and hopefully it'll help grease the wheels... or the muse, whichever.
Oh, and man? Batman was so cool tonight.
Title: Short Term
Author: Alli Snow -- allisnow at sjhw.net
Category: Post-Episode, vignette, the unavoidable Sam/Jack slant.
Spoilers: Death Knell
Summary: "We live our lives in the short term." Jack and Jacob bond.
After ten minutes of fruitless arguing, Doctor Fraiser finally convinced him Sam didn't need the services of the healing device. "There's nothing wrong with her that won't heal completely with time," said the woman firmly, in a voice that left no room for further question. "It'll slow her down for a little while, but that's not a bad thing. She could use a rest... she's had a rough time of it lately."
So Jake acquiesced, but not happily. He was a father; no father in his right mind wanted to leave his child hurting when there was something he could do about it.
He hadn't been an overprotective parent. His wife had been the one to tie herself up in knots whenever her precious baby girl had gotten a sniffle or skinned her knee or eaten a little dirt. "Calm down," he'd told Vicki countless times. "She's a kid. It's what they do. In fact, if you ask me, kids these days don't eat enough dirt." Then Mark had been born, and shortly after Jake had been promoted, and Vicki was too busy to coddle her children unnecessarily. He'd been happy to watch Sammie grow up, resilient and self-reliant. In all the important ways, she hadn't changed.
But he had. He'd come close to death, and it had made him value life. He had been with the Tok'ra for years now, with all of Selmak's knowledge and memories behind him, and the horrors he had seen committed at the hands or words of the Goa'uld made him truly appreciate how fragile existence was.
She could have been killed out there, by that... thing. Easily. So easily. And now...
He eased into the infirmary proper. After several frenetic hours - or had it been days now? He'd lost track of the time - most of the beds had finally been cleared. The most seriously wounded airmen and soldiers had been moved to the Academy hospital. The rest had been discharged. And still more, Jake knew, would never be coming home. They would be brought back from that Godforsaken planet in bits and pieces if at all, and no one, not even those who loved them most, would know where, or how, or - most importantly - why.
He didn't know how Vic had dealt with it for so many years, but she had. And if she were still alive today, somehow she would deal with her daughter's flirtation with death with just as much equanimity. She would look at him and smirk and say, "Nothing wrong with a little dirt, remember?"
Sam was sleeping on the second bed. Just sleeping - he'd double-checked with Fraiser, and then asked a nurse just in case - it was only sleeping. Supposedly she could wake up at any time. Jake just hoped that it was soon enough.
On the third bed, sitting side-saddle with one booted foot dangling off the edge, O'Neill was playing solitaire. He'd showered and changed before returning from the planet; nevertheless, he still looked newly trod-upon. Every once in a while he'd glance casually to his right, see nothing, crane his neck as though stretching it, and then return to his cards. Just from what Jake could see, the game wasn't going very well.
"You can move that eight of diamonds," he pointed out, approaching the bed.
O'Neill looked up sharply, as though he hadn't realized he had company - conscious company - and grunted. Ignoring the eight, he swept all the cards back into a stack in one brusque motion. "Solitare's not really my game. Teal'c and I were playing, but he had to go do... Teal'c stuff." He shrugged. "You know him. Always places to go, people to see."
"Unlike you?" Jake asked.
The Colonel made a face, either at the question or stiffness in his joints as he shifted on the bed. Sitting sideways, letting both feet dangle, he said dryly, "I'm not the social butterfly I once was, Jacob."
"That makes two of us." Intuiting an invitation, Jake perched on the edge of the bed next to O'Neill. They were both facing Sam now, although she went on sleeping, oblivious of her audience. Keeping his voice low, aware that Fraiser could be by at any moment to shoo them out, he said, "We're quite a pair, aren't we?"
"A pair of what?" asked the other man, shuffling the deck absently.
Jake closed his eyes briefly and chuckled. The truth of it was, he wished that he and Jack had more in common. He wished that they both cared about the girl... the woman in front of them in the same fatherly way. He wished that he didn't get an odd nagging feeling at the strangest of times, that remembrance of Anise's undeniably smug face, or George trying to put the situation in terms more delicate than he usually suffered.
He was a father. On top of worrying about his daughter's physical welfare, he was also supposed to be suspicious of any man who... well, any man. He supposed he had every right to make Jack squirm, make him feel guilty for holding this vigil, coerce him into leaving, but what was the point? He trusted Jack O'Neill, not only with his life... but with Sam's.
"Hammond tell you about the Alliance?" he asked.
"Daniel did." He was still playing with the cards, looking down at them and - occasionally - up. "The Jaffa... I can understand. I think it's stupid, but I understand. The Tok'ra, well," his voice took on a harder note. "I can't say I'll be sad to see them go."
"Hmm." Jake clasped his hands in front of him, resting the weight of his arms on the tops of his legs. "I'm going with them."
He couldn't see O'Neill's expression, but he could sense the surprise and the inward cringe. "Jacob..." he began, suddenly and uncharacteristically uncertain.
Jake shook his head. "It's alright, Jack. You have your reasons for feeling the way you do. I have my reasons for... doing this. Although right now," he admitted, staring at his slumbering daughter, "they don't seem like very good reasons."
The Colonel and his cards were silent.
"It's politics," Jake continued. "I hate politics. I always have. But no matter how you feel about them-- about us, if Earth loses the Tok'ra as allies for good... I go back, I reestablish myself with the Council and convince them that Selmak and I are still an equal partnership, it'll be better for everyone."
Jake clenched his jaw. It was hard not remembering the times when he'd been called up, had to tell his wife and his children that he was leaving and he wasn't sure when he'd be back. Hard watching the kids grow up in pictures, hard wondering when and if the mail was going to come today. He wondered if Jack wasn't remembering similar times in his own past, or if he was thinking about things Jake was better off not considering. "Everyone," he repeated, "in the long term."
But that's the problem, isn't it? asked Selmak. We all live our lives in the short term, you humans most of all.
You're right, he answered grimly. It's all so fragile.
"It's what?" asked Jack.
Jake started. Had he spoken aloud? He cleared his throat and straightened back up, still not looking directly at the man he sat beside. "With any luck it won't be for long," he said, as though he hadn't heard the question. "And I know... while I'm gone, I know you'll take care of her."
O'Neill snorted. It was a harsh, derisive sound. "Yeah, I did a great job this time around, didn't I?"
The question was obviously meant to be a rhetorical one, but Jake considered it anyway. Sam's face was cut, her leg was burned, and she hadn't opened her eyes - that he knew of - since before O'Neill and Teal'c had brought her back through the Gate. He was a father. It would be easy to be accusatory and suspicious, angry that she was in such a state... but that was Anubis' fault, it was the drone's fault.
It wasn't Jack's fault. Just the opposite, in fact.
The tension that had been emanating from O'Neill slowly ebbed.
Sam slept on.