Mar. 8th, 2010 02:36 pm
[personal profile] catspaw
after a loooong dry spell, I have committed fic :-) (It's been so long I can barely remember how to do this *g*)

Adult, but not particularly explicit, SG1, Jack/Janet, J/D, 2700-ish words.

Fits into my 'Revolving Doors' series of fics. It's not strictly necessary to have read either of the others first (Ever Decreasing Circles and One Door Closes), but some small references in this might make a little more sense if you have, since the three are designed to be read as a sequence.

Anyway, missing scene for "Heroes". Much much MUCH thanks to [personal profile] paian, [personal profile] princessofgeeks and [profile] feather_autant for looking this over for me. I've taken some suggestions on board but sadly, ignored others, so any and all remaining mistakes are mine and mine only and due entirely to my own bull-headedness.

And finally - I pinched the 'image' conceit from [personal profile] teand and ran with it, which I sincerely hope she doesn't mind!

Access Denied

Jack leaned forward in his office chair, elbows on knees, and stared down at his hands: displacement behaviour to avoid catching sight of the door and then having to pretend that he shouldn't have been through it five minutes ago.

He really wasn't proud of himself for chewing out the nurse who had broken the news to him. Shouldn't have trashed that instrument cart either, but the urge to lash out at something, anything, had been overwhelming. He'd have to go apologise, or something, he guessed - it was on his list. He couldn't face a return to the infirmary yet either.

So, that was that: another chapter of his life with a line drawn firmly underneath it. It made him good and mad, got him spoiling for a fight: more than anything, he still wanted to go beat the tar out of something, someone - either would do. But he wouldn't. Instead, he'd swallow it down, more fuel for the ulcer he was sure would get him in the end, play the good soldier yet again, keep up the fiction that he and Jan had never been anything more than close colleagues.

It hurt. It all fucking hurt, a dull ache in the region of his ribs that he was sure owed very little to the staff blast he'd taken; hurt in a way that he'd vowed nothing would ever hurt again after Daniel had left him for glowdom.

He'd heard about the baby. Normally he'd've been right there, smiling his congratulations, grateful that the little scrap of new life wouldn't have to face growing up without a dad. And truth to tell, somewhere deep down, he was grateful for that, just as he knew Janet would have been. Grateful, and not a little proud that her expertise had triumphed again. But he couldn't do it, couldn't bear to go and see another Janet, cradle her in his arms, warm and vital and full of promise, and know that her namesake was lying cold and stiff and alone in a windy cemetery - his Jan, who'd never been cold or stiff in her life.

No, he'd had to leave that one to Daniel, and he couldn't explain to him exactly why. He wasn't completely, one hundred percent, sure about the 'why' himself. Partly, he thought, because after all this time, he didn't want to 'fess up to anyone that he and Jan had had a thing going for years - they'd been so careful to be discreet that it seemed a betrayal somehow to drag it all out into the open; partly, if he was honest, because hugging things tight to his chest was so far a part of his nature now that he simply couldn't break the habit. And yet another part had the irrational conviction that this whole mess was his fault.

She should never have been out there, even if she had the experience.

Image: Janet, looking ridiculously dwarfed by her tac vest, sweating worse than the proverbial pig in the blistering desert heat.

She was working with quiet determination as he crouched beside her in the lee of the toppled, burnt-out humvee trying to provide covering fire. He didn't even have to close his eyes: he was back there, every detail sharp, HD with surround sound. He could hear the rattle of small arms fire. He could see where the ad hoc red cross had been painted on the roof of the vehicle even though it was charred and blackened now, standing stark against the vivid blue of the sky. The stink of burnt flesh hung heavy in the air: he deliberately didn't look at its source once he'd had the dog tags tucked safely in his vest pocket, refused to think about the feel of rubbery, overcooked meat as his hands had groped for them in the remains of the shirt. Eventually he'd had to give up and crawl on his belly to where the foot lay with its spare tags securely tied in the lacings of the heavy combat boot. He wasn't going to think about that, either. He was just going to concentrate on protecting his charges, giving the doc a chance of salvaging at least something from this godawful mess, and with a bit of luck, taking out at least one or two of the bastards responsible for it.

Christ, she looked so young from this perspective... hardly old enough to be out of school, let alone old enough to be working so single-mindedly in the ruins of a human body. She hadn't been about to give up any time soon though: he'd read that all too plainly in the determined set of her shoulders.

And she was a pretty little thing. She had character. It shone out of her eyes. She was warm and ballsy but somehow vulnerable. It was the vulnerability that had gotten him interested on the trip out. He'd liked the contrast between what she allowed to show on the surface and what he'd read underneath the veneer. He'd liked the warmth of her brown eyes when she looked at him, the corresponding warmth in the pit of the stomach when he looked right back.

Yeah, she'd had guts all right. Stamina too: she'd pulled ten straight hours in surgery after the chopper had gotten them back to base. She'd even managed to save the grunt she'd been working on in the desert.

Image: Janet, standing at the door of his quarters late one sweltering evening, her hands balled into fists in the pockets of the creased fatigues she was wearing, her face in shadow - apart from her eyes, miserable in the bar of light that fell across them.

"I thought you'd want to know," she'd said. "Peterson? The guy we pulled out of the hummer? He's dead."

"I thought he was doing okay? After the surgery?"

She took a great gulp of breath, but her voice was steady enough despite the unshed tears he saw glistening in her eyes. "He was. I thought he was. A couple of days ago, somebody gave him a mirror. Last night, he blew his brains out."

"Shit." He hadn't known what else to say.

Another gulp, her voice finally cracking. "I know. He was due to ship out this morning. He was going home."

Home. As concepts went, it was distant - becoming more distant all the damn time. He could hardly remember what 'home' was, not as a concrete entity. Not that that was unusual in the field. 'Home' was a weekly letter, an impression, a daydream chewed up and spat out by the daily grind. Something nebulous to think about in three weeks, three months, six. Pie in the sky and jam tomorrow. Meantime, the daily grind went on as usual. The here and now was all that really mattered, then.

So he wasn't thinking of home as he opened his arms and she walked into them. He wasn't thinking of home as he folded his arms around her and cradled her close as tears finally got the better of her and she sobbed into his jacket while he shushed her and kissed her hair. And it seemed totally natural and expected when he tilted up her chin, wiped her tears away and kissed her gently on the lips.

What followed had seemed inevitable too: they'd made love with a kind of quiet desperation on her part, a solid, comforting sturdiness on his, and she'd dozed off on his chest while he held her. A couple of hours later, when he was roused briefly by the steady chirr of more incoming choppers, she was already gone.

They never openly mentioned it, but it set a pattern of sorts. Three times in all they'd been together during that tour. Two more times when the shit had hit the fan so messily that a couple of hours of forgetfulness with a warm and willing body was the only comradely gesture that could help. They shimmered in his mind, vibrant Technicolor against the drab sepia background of his other desert memories.

She'd been moved on from Incirlik by the time he'd gotten his evac from Iraq. And truthfully, it would have done neither of them any good if she'd still been there, then. Too much sewage under the bridge by that time, way too much.

Image: Janet nuzzling her cheek into his open palm as he touched her face, her heart in her eyes.

He was on the way out and they both knew it. Compassion, regret, denial, love: he'd read them all in her eyes, and even weltering in the testosterone haze that enveloped him, he was grateful.

First time, this posting, that either of them had given so much as a nod to the fact that there was more to them than Colonel and Doctor. She'd been briskly professional when they'd been introduced to each other and he'd followed her lead, merely acknowledging that they'd met, briefly, in Turkey during the war.

"Experiment. Experiment on me... Use me."

He'd had the right to demand it, for so many reasons; she'd refused, of course. When she'd pulled his nuts out of the fire, the first of many occasions, he'd thought about the implications of it all, the impression he'd been left with that the earlier deal might still be on the table. But then he'd shrugged and chalked that idea up to residual hormones. And the crazy life he'd been pitchforked into went on...

Image: Janet, her face arranged in a familiar expression, the one that signalled loud and clear that she was determined to get to the bottom of this.

"Smashing the General's car window isn't necessarily a sign of someone who's 'coping with it thank you, doc'."

He was hangdog now, embarrassed by his outburst, cursing the luck that had a hockey stick in his hand when the loss hit him hardest; unprofessional to the nth degree, even if it had felt supremely satisfying at the time. But he stopped fiddling with the paperweight, lined it up precisely in the centre of the stack of papers on her desk and scrounged up what he hoped was a disarming grin as he faced her and replied, "Momentary lapse of reason. It won't happen again."

She looked him up and down, brows drawn together, considering. And then appeared to reach a decision and stood, brow smoothing out, shrugging out of her lab coat.

"C'mon. You've had enough for one day; you need a break. My prescription is a drink. A good, strong one. And company. Get changed, and we'll hit The Sufferin' B."

"Hoping that neutral surroundings will encourage me to open up?"

She smiled a genuine smile, refusing to rise to his cynicism. "I can't deny that would be a bonus, but it's not a condition of the offer."

Instead, she opened up to him, and her breasts were still as soft, still rounded as warm and heavy into his hands; her thighs were still as creamy white and smooth, her mouth still as talented and her pussy still as tight and slick, as he'd deliberately not allowed himself to remember since they'd met again at the Mountain.

Years. It had been years. Years of friendship, and laughter, comfort when either of them needed it; years of damned good, uncomplicated and enjoyable sex that had nothing to do with comfort at all. Odd to think that it'd lasted all that time, but had never had the added spark to make things permanent.

Image: Janet, naked, stretching like a cat and recoiling to snuggle into the crook of his arm, saying lightly, "Seriously, it's okay. We never planned to pick out china patterns, did we?"

Janet, doing what she did best. Handling whatever was thrown at her with grace and grit. He'd ended it, of course, as soon as he was certain what he really wanted and was starting to believe that he might even get it. Sure, he'd loved her - he'd just never been in love with her, not the way he remembered with Sara and not the way he was with Daniel, now. And when they'd parted he'd known her well enough to know she meant it when she said she felt the same --


He started as Daniel spoke softly from the doorway, and grimaced when he advanced into the room, but didn't look up. Daniel crossed the floor and hitched one buttock onto the edge of Jack's desk without another word while Jack stared down at his hands.

The quality of the silence finally nudged Jack's attention. Not oppressive, not weighty, but significant. Pregnant was probably the word. Daniel and Janet were similar in that; they could both produce a quiet that held no overt pressure but still got you itching to spill your guts. It pretty well always worked.

It worked now.

"Me and the doc," Jack started, then paused and cleared his throat, and corrected himself, "Janet. We had this thing going, for years."


Jack breathed in deeply, through his nose, and said to his hands on the exhale, "Yeah. Started during the war. Sorta carried on in fits and starts, until..."

Until you and I hooked up. He didn't say it, but Daniel knew his MO, he'd work it out.

"Really? I never heard so much as a whisper of that. Although I guess for both of you, tight lips were part of the job description." Daniel paused for a moment, before adding with a kind of wistful admiration, "Lucky man."

He hadn't been sure what Daniel's reaction would be, how complicated it would all get. But now he knew what he'd never expected, that in the face of Daniel's quiet acceptance, telling him didn't seem like a betrayal so much as a tribute, as heartfelt and meaningful as anything Carter had said at the Memorial. Some of the tautness leached out of Jack's shoulders and he felt the strain around his eyes lessen a little.

He finally looked up and met Daniel's eyes squarely. "Yes. Yes, I was."

Silence again for a moment or two longer as Jack held Daniel's gaze, before he added softly, "I still am."

The ghost of a smile fleetingly twisted Daniel's lips; then it was gone and he was getting to his feet, scrunching his hands in his pockets, wrecking the line of his sharp suit. He hunched one shoulder.

"I guess you gotta go."

"I guess. I'm late enough as it is."

Daniel glanced at the clock on the wall. "Fashionably late."

"Yeah. That. Gotta bite the bullet now though, before Hammond gets on my case again."

Jack rose, grim-faced, squared his shoulders, tugged down on his jacket hem and headed for the door. Daniel moved aside to let him pass, but Jack stopped a couple of steps beyond him, turned back and caught his eye again.

"I want," he paused to marshal his thoughts, "I want to do her justice, if I have to do this. Without giving that little weasel any clue about our past." And I'm not sure if I can. Fish out of water, here. The thought rattled around in his head like gunfire in an enclosed space.

"Not weasel," Daniel corrected him with a slight shake of his head. "Ant."

As Jack's eyebrow rose quizzically, he amplified, "Emmett. Ultimately derived, I've no idea why, from the Old English word for an ant." He shrugged with a small grin. "It helped me put him in perspective."

The tension eased off a little more as Jack snorted in appreciation. "Minor irritant in the current scheme of things, yeah. I get that. Don't know if I can pull it off, though."

"Don't sweat it. He's fighting above his weight, here. He's on his own ground and he's good, but you're better."

"Ya think?"

"I know."

The last little coils of apprehension untwisted themselves in Jack's gut and he felt himself steady down into combat readiness, that familiar light, bodiless, think-fast-on-your-feet feeling. He hugged it to him. This, he knew. With a nod and a tight half smile to Daniel, he straightened his back, turned on his heel and marched out the door.


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