Title: Gone Fishing
Pairing: Jack/Daniel (pre-slash)
Prompt: Total holiday avoidance, coping by making sure they have other things going on.
It’s not that he doesn’t like the holidays, he just… doesn’t like them. Which may seem the same, but there’s all the difference in the world. Of course getting Jack O’Neill to actually explain the difference is a bit tricky if not downright impossible, but a little effort never hurt anyone.
He likes to think that, somehow, he knew joining the Air Force would ultimately save his sanity because seasons don’t really mean that much when you’re on active duty. Through snow and rain and heat and gloom of night, defending the country (and, lately, the entire planet) just doesn’t get put on hold when December rolls around. There’s been a few times when he’s wished it would (for Charlie’s sake) but now Jack finds himself relieved to fake a sigh and lament that he ‘has to work’ whenever anyone asks him if he has holiday plans.
He knows Carter and Teal’c – especially Teal’c – are into the whole ‘Christmas Spirit’ thing, so he always makes a point of asking Hammond if he can shepherd one of the other SG teams. Jack also always makes a point of trying to go through the Gate with en elf’s hat on (bells and all) because it’s largely expected of him to try it before the general catches him and orders him to remove it.
Daniel’s never been one to go all out as far as the holidays are concerned, though. As a matter of fact, Jack’s never really seen Daniel celebrating anything but a ticket to some archaeology conference, but things are different now that Sha’re is truly beyond his reach.
The first Christmas after her death, Jack seizes the chance to actually have a good excuse to disappear – he feels more than a few twinges of guilt at the thought that he’s using his friend as an excuse, but knows that Daniel needs the away time just as much as he does.
Jack broaches the subject casually, as they’re running away – no, strategically retreating – from a handful of Serpent Guards. “So, fishing next week?”
“What?” Daniel, for his part, simply looks bewildered at the non sequitur. Behind them, a Jaffa clanks its way up the hill and Jack can only imagine the spin the rest of the tin cans will be putting on their failure for Apophis’ benefit.
“Fishing, Danny Boy. You know; a man, a plan, a can with no plumbing…” he turns to fire his zat at their pursuers and watches as the lead Jaffa flaps its arms resignedly before falling to the ground with a metallic crash.
“And speaking of cans, how do they get in and out of that armor if they have to go to the bathroom?” He aims this last question at Teal’c, who simply raises a long-suffering eyebrow at him and continues towards the DHD.
Carter dials while Teal’c picks off a few more Jaffa and Daniel peeks beneath the fabric wrapping of the tablet they’ve just liberated from Apophis. “This is amazing, have you seen…?”
“You can translate it after you’ve eaten your veggies, young man,” Jack reprimands him. “Let’s go home, kids!”
After the mission debriefing with Hammond, they’re changing in the locker room when Daniel glances over at him. “I don’t really like fishing that much.”
Jack pauses in the act of pulling his shirt over his head and regards his friend over the bunched-up fabric. “Ah, but you do like reading.”
“Jack, you only have three books in that cabin and we both know it.” When he tries to protest, Daniel cuts him off with, “And all those MAD Magazines do not count.”
“You can’t deny that my collection is impressive.”
“Impressive in…what way, exactly? This, I have to hear.” Daniel pushes his glasses up with one finger and raises his eyebrows, leaning forward as he parts his lips slightly as if breathlessly awaiting Jack’s answer.
“It just is,” Jack asserts eloquently. “Bring your own library if you want. How about it? You do the reading, I do the fishing, we both do the ordering of pizza when I don’t catch anything… it’s a fool proof plan.”
“But why …” Daniel closes his mouth, opens it, closes it again. “… okay.”
He’s been trying to get his teammates to accompany him fishing for God knows how long with only sporadic (not to mention extremely short-lived) success, but this time it’s different. This time the only one who will be coming with him is Daniel and though it shouldn’t matter because they’ve been friends for years, it does matter. Jack has the same feeling of nervousness at the prospect of being in the same cabin with Daniel as he had when he’d asked out Leslie Butler in fifth grade.
And she had ended up saying no.
Not that this is a date or anything.
Except that it kind of is, what with the whole ‘sleeping in the same cabin and hanging out on the couch and talking about your childhood by firelight’ thing.
When they arrive at the cabin, Daniel immediately starts offloading what seems like the contents of the entire Cheyenne Mountain Branch Library. “I just want to keep my hand in, make sure I’m caught up with what’s happening on this side of the Gate,” Daniel had told him after catching Jack’s incredulous stare as he realized he was expected to help load all of it in the back of his truck.
The poles, ice picks, and awls are put into a pile by the door before Jack stamps the snow from his boots and hangs his coat on a nearby hook. Daniel glances over at him from the fireplace where he’s stuffing a few balls of crumpled-up newspaper beneath the logs. “You have a lighter, right?”
Jack tosses a Bic to him and wanders into the kitchen to snag a beer for each of them, handing one to his friend as he hurls himself on the beat-up couch. “I’ve decided to give the fish a last-minute reprieve,” Jack announces, peering at the small stack of books already arranged on the coffee table. “They need their strength for swimming away from me tomorrow.”
“That’s…decent of you,” Daniel responds, sitting down beside Jack and taking a pull from his bottle. “I ordered some pizza while you were still outside.”
“Did you? Good,” Jack says, looking over at the archaeologist to make sure Daniel can hear the unspoken ‘thank you.’
Daniel lifts his chin slightly in acknowledgement. “I hate Christmas,” he says next, gazing into the fire.
Jack glances at him. “Me, too.”
“Nice to have a real excuse to avoid it.”
“You got it.”
“All those parties.”
They continue the call and response routine for a few more minutes until the two men lapse into a comfortable silence only broken by the occasional thump of glass bottles being placed back on the heavy wooden table. “So I hear you tried to pull the hat trick again,” Daniel finally says. “Where was it to, anyway? According to Walter, General Hammond almost didn’t catch you in time.”
“M8X-Something-Or-Other,” Jack says lazily, scooting down low in his seat.
Daniel swallows the last of his beer and lowers the empty bottle. “Why do you even bother?”
Jack lifts one shoulder in a half-shrug. “It’s something to do.”
“That doesn’t make much sense,” Daniel observes.
“Neither does hanging out at a Christmas Party just to watch Teal’c spike the eggnog.”
They share a smile at the thought of Teal’c doing anything of the kind when a knock at the door signals the dinner’s arrival, and Jack heaves himself up onto his feet. He tips the kid a little extra for actually finding the place and settles back on the couch with the pizza and two more beers. “This is great,” Daniel sighs, moving closer to put a slice of pizza on one of the napkins in his other hand.
Jack smiles and lifts his bottle in a salute when Daniel doesn’t move back to his own side of the couch. “Yes. Yes, it is.”
Maybe Christmas isn’t so bad, after all.