Summary: A tag for The First Ones, written for sg_fignewton’s alphabet soup challenge. Thanks to Lyn for the speedy beta.
B IS FOR Blame
“Where’s Daniel?” Jack asked, looking around the mess hall as he pulled up a chair at the table across from Sam Carter and Teal’c.
“He asked for a day off,” Carter said, around a mouthful of jello. “Said there was something he needed to do, and as his wrists are still pretty sore from being tied up and he’s still suffering headaches from that bang on the head Chaka gave him, Janet told General Hammond he could probably use a day or so topside.”
“Uh huh.” Jack shoved his barely touched plate over to Teal’c. He had a feeling he knew where Daniel was going and what he was doing and he decided he might just need someone watching his six while he did it. “Enjoy, big guy,” he said as Teal’c arched an inquiring eyebrow at him. “I’m not really hungry,” he said. “I’ll catch you guys tomorrow. I’m kinda tired. Think I’ll knock off early myself.”
Carter nodded and waved her spoon at him while Teal’c hoed into the food with enthusiasm. Jack headed for Hammond’s office and apprised him of his plans then caught the elevator up to the parking level and signed out. In his truck, he looked at the slip of paper he’d gotten from Walter on his way out of Hammond’s office then checked the route and headed off.
They’d only been back a day since rescuing Daniel from the Unas, Chaka. Daniel had been exhausted by the time they’d caught up with him, his wrists torn and bruised from the rope Chaka had bound him with as he’d dragged Daniel back to his home territory like some big hunting trophy he wanted to show off. Despite that, Jack had been impressed by Daniel’s resourcefulness during his captivity, the way he’d left clues for anyone looking for him to follow, the fact that he’d kept his head and managed to befriend the young Unas and prevent himself from being killed. That they rescued Daniel was the only upside of that mission. The downside was losing the people they had. Finding out about the death of Robert Rothman had hit Daniel particularly hard. Rothman and Daniel had been friends and Jack had seen the sheen of tears in Daniel’s eyes when they’d told him what happened.
Jack pulled his truck up in the parking lot of his destination and looked around, spotting Daniel’s car a few spaces over and Daniel standing leaning up against the side of it, looking up at the windows of the apartment building they were in front of. He looked around as Jack approached. “I didn’t tell her what really happened,” he said.
“I know,” Jack replied. “What did you tell her?”
“Just that Robert was my friend, that we’d worked together, that I was sorry he was dead. I told her to get in touch with me if she needed anything in the future. Robert was her only child,” he added.
Jack nodded. “Good.”
“It’s my fault he’s dead,” Daniel said softly. “It’s the least I can do.”
“Your fault?” Jack asked, genuinely stunned. “You didn’t ask to get kidnapped by Chaka,“ he went on.
“No, but I told Robert to come work at the SGC. He wouldn’t have even been on that planet if he’d still been working at the University,” Daniel said.
“Okay. Why did you tell him to do that?” Jack asked.
Daniel sighed. “We met for a drink not long after I came back from Abydos. He said he was bored with what he was doing. He couldn’t see how it achieved anything. He wanted to make a difference.”
“And he did,” Jack said. “Look, I know I paid the guy out once or twice. Okay. More than once or twice but you know I do that to all the geeks. Hell, I even do that to Carter and she’s Air Force. But Rothman knew the risks and he still wanted to do it. He made a difference, Daniel, and he’ll be remembered with honor, I promise you that.”
Daniel nodded. “Thanks,” he replied.
“There’s a little bar I used to go to not far from here,” Jack said. “How about we meet there and raise a glass to Rothman and the guys we lost on this mission?”
“Yeah, okay.” Daniel turned to walk back to his car and Jack squeezed his shoulder as he went past.
“No blame, Daniel,” he said. “Rothman wouldn’t blame you. None of those guys we lost would. All we can do is make sure we deal with the Goa’uld and kick their slimy asses with as few casualties along the way as possible.”
“And we will, right?” Daniel said.
“Damn straight we will.”