Disclaimer – MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
A 'Redemption, Part 2' episode addition. Set after the SGC is up and running again, but *before* the new SG-1 is up and running. I'm assuming there's a day or so between these events, despite how close together they are in the episode.
His eyes locked onto the bottle, watching as the liquid gulped out for just a few seconds into the shot glass. The bottle, in the capable hands of the barman, then quickly spun upright, sending its contents splashing down the bottom again.
Sighing, Jack picked up the glass and lifted it in a mockery of a toast. "Cheers,"
The barman, clearly used to such behaviour, turned away.
Not caring, Jack lifted the glass to his lips and quickly poured the shot down his throat. Doing the best he could to ignore the familiar burning sensation - though that wasn't really possible - he sighed again.
He didn't even like the taste of the damn stuff. It was just...something he needed to do.
He wasn't going to get plastered. He wasn't even really planning on getting particularly drunk. He was just feeling a little sorry for himself, and sitting on a barstool, drinking alcohol, and slumping his shoulders forward seemed like the thing to do.
Jack knew it was a cliché.
Today he didn't care.
"Well if it isn't Jack O'Neill, explorer extraordinaire."
Oh *great*. That was just what he needed. "Shouldn't you be on your way back to Russia?" Hopefully with a one-way ticket, he added silently as the new arrival gladly seated himself next to Jack.
"To the Pentagon, actually," McKay corrected. "Seems they decided they needed my brilliance back in America after all, not wasting it fooling around with reactors." Catching the barman's attention with a ten-dollar bill, he slapped it down on the bar. "Beer. Nothing imported. Doesn't have quite the same...body to it."
Was there anything this guy *wasn't* immodest about? "You know, some people might actually think that kind of thing was important."
"I take it by some people you're referring to 'someone' who works at the base?"
"Maybe," Jack figured they were talking about the same person.
McKay grinned, picking up his bottle after it appeared on the bar. "Speaking of bodies..."
Frowning, Jack jerked his head towards the scientist. "You'd better not be thinking what I think you're thinking."
With the bottle raised to his lips, McKay lifted his eyebrows. Swallowing, he lowered the bottle. "Protective much?"
Jack had had enough already. "Look, why don't you just leave, okay? I don't want you here, there's no good reason I can see that you'd want to be here-"
"I'm thirsty," McKay told him with all due - and no doubt fake - innocence. "I can't see that there's anything wrong with a man quenching a thirst. And anyway..." He shifted closer, conspiratorial. "Why are you here?"
Jack shifted away, and nodded to the barman for another drink. "Bad day. That's all."
"*Bad* *day*?" McKay almost laughed, disbelieving. "You..." Realising where he was, he waited until Jack's next shot made its appearance and the barman moved away before lowering his voice and continuing. "...saved the planet today, Colonel. You call that a bad day? I'd call it one hell of a good day - not that you managed to do it without my help, of course. I always was a special child."
"What an apt description."
Rolling his eyes, McKay continued. "Are you sure you don't suffer from low self-esteem, Colonel? I mean really, you're not the brains on the team, are you? Although," He chuckled, as if conceding a point, "There aren't that many brains even without you-"
"You can say what you like about me," Jack interrupted, turning towards him. "But you don't insult the rest of my team. Ever."
McKay, apparently deciding he was serious, said nothing else about it. That certainly didn't stop him from speaking. "Man, you really *are* in a bad mood."
Turning away again, Jack stared down at his glass. He still hadn't drunk from it yet. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Hey, I wasn't asking you to. I was just making conversation. I really have no interest in the mundanities of your life; unless it's about your love life in which case - I may be able to help. It's an area where I have a great deal of expertise."
Jack seriously doubted that, so said nothing.
It turned out to be the wrong thing to do.
"Oh my...it *is* about your love life, isn't it? Who is she? Anyone I know? Or is it a he? Is that the problem? The 'don't ask don't tell' thing not working out?"
Crap. "Look, I don't have a love life, okay?"
"So *that's* the problem."
"No, look, just - shut up."
"Are you always this eloquent?"
For crying out... "How would you like it if I suddenly started grilling you on *your* love life, or lack thereof?"
Shrugging, McKay took another swig. "I wouldn't care. My life is an open encyclopædia."
"Really?" Jack was almost starting to enjoy this. At the very least, the anger was pulling him out of his depression. "All right then; anyone special in your life?"
Grinning, just a little, McKay fiddled with his beer bottle. "Not really sure. There is...someone. Same type I always go for - blonde, brilliant, too much like my ex-wife."
That was something Jack could relate to. "But you're not really sure? Doesn't sound like you're such an expert after all."
But he wasn't paying attention. He was still fiddling with his bottle, staring at the neck. "She kissed me."
Jack snorted. "Sounds pretty sure to me."
He shrugged. "It wasn't a *kiss* kiss. It was a peck on the cheek."
Wincing, Jack played it up. "Ouch."
McKay finally moved, looking at him. "Ouch what?"
Jack sat back on his stool, gesturing with his hands. "Well...a kiss on the cheek? That's the ultimate 'friend' kiss, isn't it? That's the 'you're not getting anywhere' kiss." This was fun!
"You really think so?" He was starting to look quite depressed at the prospect.
Damn. Now his conscience was starting to bug him. Why couldn't it leave him alone? "You know, there's only one way to know for sure."
Jack rolled his eyes in a not-bad-though-he-said-so-himself impression of the man he was talking to. "*Ask* her, Mr Expert."
McKay shook his head, his humour returning. "That'd be a novelty, wouldn't it?"
"The truth. Asking for it. Admitting it."
Jack was not feeling sorry for him. He wasn't. "I thought your life was an open encyclopædia?"
"What I forgot to mention is that it's an encyclopædia on self-denial and doubt."
Something else Jack could relate to.
"Special Edition," McKay added. "Only a thousand copies in the initial print run."
"More like a thousand and one," Jack muttered, feeling that depression creep back in. Swivelling towards the bar, he contemplated his drink again.
McKay matched his pose. "So what's up with you?"
Jack didn't even feel like fighting with him anymore. "Missed opportunities."
"Ah, the classic," McKay held his bottle up in silent salute. "What did you miss out on?"
His nose was almost touching the alcohol. "Everything," Not to mention the guilt - which he definitely wasn't mentioning - that he felt for almost hoping that the project *had* remained shut down. That he hadn't still been her CO.
He'd known for a long time that the SGC was more important than he was. He had to remember that.
"Buck up soldier!" The scientist whacked him on the back, until Jack's nose actually *did* dip into his drink. "Because of you and me, it's really not the end of the world. The world keeps spinning, life keeps going, Goa'uld's keep making melodramatic threats, and we keep falling for the wrong women." He shrugged. "I'd call that a fair deal for romantic implosion."
Absently wiping his nose, Jack sat up straight. "You know, no one actually says 'buck up'."
Something was buzzing.
It took McKay a few seconds to realise it was his pants. Fumbling about, he eventually pulled a pager from somewhere Jack chose not to think about and promptly glared at it. "I really do have to head off now, or I'm going to miss my flight." Pushing away from the stool he stood up, collecting his change and shoving it into a jacket pocket. "Well," He thumped his hand lightly on the bar. "I won't say this was fun because it really wasn't, but it was almost interesting. See you around."
Jack couldn't possibly let it end like that. "I really hope not."
Grinning, McKay pushed away...only to turn back one last time. "So I should ask her?"
Jack continued studying his drink, deciding he was going to have that one and then finally head home himself. "Sure. Why not?"
"All right, I've been inspired. I don't have time now, and I think something like this really requires a face-to-face discussion. Less chance of her saying anything nasty that way..." He reconsidered that statement, continuing with a smile. "Actually, in her case there's probably more chance of that. Nonetheless, I'll ask her next time I'm on base."
"On base?" Jack asked, picking up the glass and not really paying attention as he swallowed the contents.
McKay spoke with the perfect delivery of a man who had been faking it all along. "Well...yes. How else would I ask Major Carter out?"
The contents came back up.
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