Disclaimer - MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Spoilers for 'Solitudes', 'In The Line of Duty', 'Secrets', 'The Tokra, Part 2', and 'The Devil You Know'. A 'Devil You Know' episode addition. A companion piece to the previous story, 'Truths'.
Jack smiled as Jacob turned and looked up at him. "Sure, thanks."
Handing the bottle over, Jack moved until he was sitting in the chair next to Jacob's. They were on his back porch, facing the sun, which was slowly starting to move behind the horizon. Behind them, in the house, faint music drifted out, punctuated with laughter and lots of 'stern' health advice from a certain Doc Fraiser.
Jack was perturbed. They'd rescued Jacob. He was back, he was here, he and Selmak were gonna be fine...but he'd spent most of the last three hours in the back garden, giving off clear 'leave me alone' vibes.
Naturally, Jack ignored them.
"I never thought I'd drink one of these again," Jacob announced, quickly following the statement with a hearty gulp. Sighing, he lowered the bottle. "Of course, it's not as if it makes much difference. Selmak's presence pretty much neutralises any effect alcohol may have on me."
Wow. That...could come in handy. But it also... "That kinda sucks."
"Yeah," Jacob nodded. "It kind of does."
"But hey - think about it. No headaches, no hangovers, no disgusting morning-after remedies...trust me on this; Teal'c may not drink alcohol, but he's got this hangover cure that is absolutely disgusting. An ancient Chulakian remedy, apparently."
Jacob wore a faint smile, but there was nothing to it.
"And that's nothing compared to what Daniel brought back with him from Abydos."
"Mastig droppings. Apparently you mix them with-are you regretting the snake thing?"
Jacob's head finally jerked towards him, finally actually looking at him for the first time since he'd arrived. "No."
"Ah. It's just that you seem kind of-"
"I just miss certain things. Becoming a Tok'ra...it's a huge decision, a huge responsibility. You gain so much, but you lose...other things. Stupid, insignificant little things that suddenly seem significant."
He was beginning to understand. "Like beer."
Nodding, Jacob looked back towards the sky. "And marshmallows. I used to love marshmallows. Apparently Earth is the only planet in the entire Universe that has them."
"You gotta be kidding me."
"I'm serious. Apparently the Goa'uld don't have a taste for them."
"Well, there goes my future career as an intergalactic confectionery salesman."
A grin. "A gate to gate salesman, huh?"
"Sure - and hey! We could go into business together. Partners, you know? You line 'em up, I'll knock 'em down."
"I think sherbet would be a big hit."
Chuckling, Jacob shook his head. "You know, Selmak thinks you're insane."
"Yep. Of course she also thinks that I'm insane."
Huh. "I don't get that."
Jack swallowed another gulp of his drink. "From what we've been told, the snakes don't have a gender. They're...sexless. So how do you know Selmak's a woman?"
An unmistakable grin this time. "I just do. She doesn't seem to mind being called one, by the way."
"I don't get *that*, either." At Jacob's frown, he continued. "How do you deal with having two minds up there? I'm not asking you to explain it - Carter tried once and I just couldn't get it - but it's...weird. I can't imagine having more than one person up here."
"Well in your case they have enough trouble fitting one person in up there."
"Pleasure," Another sip. "You just...do deal with it. And it helps in my case that Selmak's been around for so long. She knows what to do when she's inside a new host."
Jack nodded as if he knew what he was talking about. "Handy." He started peeling the sticker from his bottle. "So, you and Carter still planning on going somewhere cold?"
"There aren't many places on Earth that are hotter than Netu."
"True," The sticker ripped, and Jack swore internally.
"Where's the coldest place you've ever been?" Noticing Jack's mission, Jacob began peeling his own beer sticker off.
"That's easy: Antarctica."
Concentrating on his task, Jacob frowned. "What were you doing there?"
"Oh, you know. Dying."
In one sudden movement Jacob pulled the sticker off and held it up proudly. It was a monument to beer stickers: no rips, no creases, absolute perfection.
Jack flicked away his pathetic little piece of sticker and glared at Jacob. Or, at least he tried to flick it away. It got stuck to his fingers.
Placing his beer on the arm of his wooden chair, Jacob pulled the sticker from Jack's finger with his free hand.
"Thanks," O'Neill muttered.
"So, I take it you didn't actually die."
"Correct." Jack watched with some envy as Jacob carefully laid the sticker sticky side-up on the arm of his chair. "As you've cleverly deciphered from the fact that I'm actually talking to you, I didn't die. Close one though. Broken leg, broken ribs, internal bleeding...frost bite." He couldn't help it - he shivered.
"Was this black ops?"
"Nope. All SGC."
It was as if a light bulb went off over Jake's head. "Was this when you found the second gate?"
"That would be the mission, yes."
Nodding, Jacob looked at his naked beer bottle. "Sammie told me that you'd found a second gate...but said nothing about the fact that you almost died."
Nice. That was a terrific feeling. "She was there too, you know."
"And the others?"
"Nope. Some kind of gate malfunction. Me and Carter in Antarctica, Daniel and Teal'c back at Cheyenne Mountain. Of course, we didn't actually know we were in Antarctica; we thought we were on some planet that seriously needed a heating allowance."
"How'd they find you?"
Jack waved a hand about. "I dunno. Seismic something. Daniel made one of those astounding leaps of logic that he makes and realised we were probably on Earth. The rest..."
They clinked bottles.
"Must have been tough," Jacob acknowledged.
O'Neill shrugged. "No tougher than this was for you. Probably not even that tough."
"I meant for Sam. She hates not being able to help someone."
Jack glanced down, smiling. "Noticed that."
"Speaking of Sam, where is she?" Turning in his chair, Jacob tried to look into the house. "Haven't seen her for a while."
When he thought about it, Jack realised he hadn't either. "I'll find out." Standing up, he placed his near-empty half-stickered beer bottle on the wooden table and moved to step inside.
He turned back, eyebrows raised. "Yeah?"
For what, exactly? Best to take the easy route out. "Hell, I wasn't gonna let you die, Jacob." A deliberate pause. "Carter would have had my hide." Moving into the house, he grinned at everyone he came across. It wasn't a large gathering - SG-1, Fraiser and Jacob - but they could cause enough trouble alone.
Daniel was obviously drunk already, trying to personally eat everything Jack had in his cupboards. Fraiser was fussing over him, warning about the fat content of everything he was touching. Teal'c was trying to understand the lyrics to that B-52's song.
Carter wasn't in the house or outside the house, which left one option he could think of: on top of the house. Climbing the ladder steadily, he recalled a night, which must have been over a year ago now. A night when he'd been surprised to find Sam Carter lurking on his roof, crying.
Thankfully, that wasn't quite what he found this time.
She was looking through his telescope, which was turned down at a pretty sharp angle. Judging from her relative position, and the angle of telescope, there was only one place she could have been looking at.
She was definitely aware of him. There was no obvious visual clue; he just knew that she was aware of him but that she still hadn't greeted him or turned around. So, he moved until he was practically breathing on her.
"Spying on the enemy?" He murmured.
Carter didn't move. "Just making sure he's there. That he's safe." She stood up finally, causing him to move with her otherwise he would have been invading her personal space just a tad too much.
She looked...not very happy.
"Where's your smile?"
"Smile?" She asked blankly.
"Yeah, that thing when the corners of your mouth point up and your eyes go even bluer than usual. That thing you do when there's reason to celebrate. I'd saying rescuing your dad counts as something to celebrate."
She closed her eyes briefly. "I'm sorry sir, I...I really appreciate you offering to hold this little shindig-"
"I just came so close to losing him. He has *got* to stop almost dying on me."
He realised she really was quite serious. "Carter-"
"I know, I know; no one can guarantee that. Especially in his line of work. I just...I still feel like I only just got him back. He can't leave already."
Jack shrugged. "He hasn't."
"I know," A bitter grin. "I know that. But I can't help wondering if I made the right decision sometimes."
The snake thing again. "It was his decision as much as it was yours. Yes, okay," He forestalled any argument. "He never would have known about the Tok'ra if you hadn't told him about them, but once you did he had a clear opportunity to say no. He didn't."
Shaking her head, she quickly wiped at her eyes, no doubt embarrassed. "What is it with your roof and me crying?"
"It's not you Carter, it's the roof. Seriously, you should see Teal'c whenever he comes up here. Can't help but start sobbing."
Chuckling, she blinked at him. "Will you stop making me laugh? I'm trying to mope."
"Never gonna happen."
Attempting serious for a moment, she studied him. "I really don't want to lose him."
There was nothing else he could do.
So he hugged her.
He was almost starting to...
Jacob. There was Jacob, at the top of the ladder, watching him hold his daughter. Jack's 2IC.
He was frowning.
Carter couldn't see him from where she was, so Jack managed to wave him away, somehow managing to communication that he'd explain everything and that she'd be okay.
When Jack left - one soaked shirt later - he immediately joined Jacob on the back porch. Sitting in his chair, he stared at the horizon. "She was upset about you almost dying."
A nod. "Does that happen a lot?"
"Only when you almost die."
The sun was finally disappearing behind the horizon.
"Beautiful evening," Jacob said.
Dusk was creeping in. Warm conversation and music floated from inside the house. And somewhere, up on the roof, he knew without a doubt that she was looking down at them.
"Yeah," He agreed. "Yeah, it is."
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