He didn't lose it when his son...when the shot went off. He held it together amazingly well, all things considered, going instantly into how he was trained to treat wounds like that on the battlefield. He shut off the piece of his mind that was screaming that this was Charlie, it was his son, bleeding out on the bedroom floor, but he had to hold it together. Sara was panicking, her voice sometimes too loud as she called 911, sometimes choked and rough, and Jack knew she would lose it completely if he gave in to his own panic.
He did what he could to stop the bleeding. To try and stop the bleeding, even during the ride to the hospital that seemed too go on for far too long. He pressed his hands against the wounds in his son's body, and he didn't break.
Even standing outside of the trauma room, watching the doctors do what they could, he held himself still, his face blank, his eyes fixed on what he could see of his son. A boy so full of life suddenly seemed too small, and one by one the doctors stepped back. There wasn't anything they could do, and suddenly, Jack felt a weight settle on his shoulders, and he sagged forward, his head resting against the glass.
He didn't even realize he was speaking, softly, praying maybe, or just begging his son to get up, and when he heard on beat, then two on the heart monitor, Jack couldn't breathe. He lifted his head, staring at Charlie's pulse, seemingly so strong, so vibrant.
Jack finally broke when the beeping stopped, when Charlie flat-lined again, and Jack had to push away from Sara, had to leave his wife there, staring at the body, because Jack couldn't stop shaking. He dug his fingernails into his palms, but nothing was working, and eventually, he couldn't even continue walking down the hallway as all the strength left his body and he collapsed to the floor.
He heard doctors and nurses rushing to help, heard Sara calling his name, but it didn't matter.
Nothing mattered anymore.
He didn't break when Daniel died. For real died, not some alien kidnapping him or being brought back minutes later by some other alien. Actually died. Bloody. Painful. Real. Jack didn't break though. He couldn't. Daniel might be able to laugh about what was going to happen to him, but Jack couldn't. He didn't even trust himself to speak for fear that, yes, he would break, he'd snap and kill that Quinn guy, or order someone to send a nuke through to Langara. Because that felt right. Blood for blood, they were going to kill themselves anyway.
But he stayed silent. He didn't order genocide, no matter how much he wanted to. He sat by Daniel's bedside, watched his friend get worse, watch the blood spread over the bandages and try to make jokes about Rorschach tests, jokes that fell flat even to him, and eventually he just watched.
Even when Daniel really left. Went to a...higher plane of existence or whatever. Jack held it together better than almost anyone else. He didn't break. He was proud of himself for that. Losing a friend like Daniel...as infuriating as he could be, as much trouble as he got them all into, he was Daniel and it hurt to suddenly not have him there. Because, yeah, sometimes, he thought of something, something that Daniel would find hilarious in that way that meant he was mostly just humoring him.
It hurt like a bitch, like someone had ripped off his arm, but, he thought, it wasn't as bad as losing his son. Nothing would ever be that bad.
It wasn't until days later, weeks, maybe, Jack had lost track of time and that wasn't a good sign, when they went on their first mission, off to some distant planet to save Thor, to save some ally that may or may not (even odds on either) help them someday, that was the when Jack actually had time to think.
Time to process.
Time to realize that Daniel wasn't there in the back of the cargo ship with a couple of books. Time to listen to Carter and Teal'c discuss memorials and Jack's complete lack of emotion, and time to think is always a bad thing. His hands were shaking, subtly, only slightly, as he put the gun back together. He should have ignored it, and he tried. Tried to focus on the weapon in his hands, on putting something back together after everything else had fallen apart.
The shaking got worse, and the more Jack stared at the gun, the more he realized that it would be easy.
Accidents happen. Carter would be the first to say he hadn't been himself, that Daniel's death had thrown him off, no one had to know. Sara might even get his death benefits, it would only be fair after the hell he put her through.
Jack's hands were still shaking as he put the gun down on the container. His palms itched, and he had to get up, move away, press his back against the cold wall of the hold, bow his head.
He had to breathe.
He didn't realize how hard that was to do without Daniel right there.
"I don't want to see this cell again, Daniel."
But he did. And Daniel wasn't there. He promised he would be. He swore it. Jack kept his back pressed against the wall, kept his head bowed, and he tried not to shake, but it wasn't working. Nothing was working anymore. He couldn't even think. Not completely.
He couldn't even break, not even if he wanted to.
All he could do was sit and wait for all of it to start again. Over and over and over with no end in sight, with the only relief being the bliss in the sarcophagus and what little time he had with Daniel.
He wouldn't get that relief now. Daniel wasn't here. Daniel had something better to do than sit and wait for Jack to break or die.
And sitting there, with his back against the wall, alone Jack felt tears in his eyes. Tears he tried not to let fall, but he couldn't stop it. He didn't even have the will to do that.
This time Jack wasn't going to remember that he was supposed to be stronger than this. Everything was disappearing. Slowly, sure, words fading into a language he didn't speak and certainly didn't understand. Everyone was acting like he was going to break. Even Teal'c who had mostly just stayed silent, but close. Just in case. In case Jack disappeared completely, leaving nothing but a walking, talking Ancient database. Carter kept looking at him with sad eyes and unshed tears.
And Daniel...Daniel kept trying to teach him to communicate, but Jack wasn't going to remember it, so what did it matter? But Daniel was always there too. Closer than Teal'c. Carter couldn't stand to be in the same room with him for long, and Jack knew it was killing her. It should be killing him too, hurting to leave her with so much left unsaid and undone, but at the end of it all, Daniel was there.
Standing too close, like Jack was some artifact he had to study, some Ancient technology he needed to understand, which, technically, Jack supposed he was. And sometimes, when Daniel wasn't looking, wasn't paying attention, Jack could see his hands shaking. Jack watched that tiny unconscious movement far longer than he probably should, long after Daniel noticed him staring, but Jack kept watching Daniel's hands, even when he was pretty sure Daniel was just moving them to make Jack stop staring.
"Jack?" At least he still recognized his name. Even if he couldn't respond because there was no word in Jack's head for Daniel anymore. Not in English. Possibly not even in a language that Daniel understood. So he shrugged, and he looked away, curling his arms around his chest and staring at some distant point again. It took an hour for Daniel to relax again, but eventually Jack noticed the shaking again.
Trembling really. Like Daniel was actually scared, not that he'd admit it. Jack narrowed his eyes and rose to his feet. He moved over to Daniel, kneeling in front of him, and placing his hand on Daniel's, trying to stop Daniel's hand from shaking, but it only made it worse. His own fingers trembled as they clasped Daniel's, and it only got worse as Daniel turned his hand over and cupped Jack's hand in return. He opened his mouth to say...something.
But words weren't working, and even Daniel was silent. Barely breathing. Both of them were barely breathing, and all Jack could do was shake his head. He needed to speak, needed to say something wanted desperately to make Daniel stop shaking, take away that fear, tell him that it was going to be okay even though it was a lie. Obviously a lie.
All Jack could do was make a frustrated sound in his throat and keep his fingers locked around Daniel's as he looked up at him, tried to make him understand, and Daniel nodded like he did.
"I know, Jack, I know," be he didn't. Jack knew he didn't from the way he search Jack's face. Jack shook his head again, and lifted his other hand to place it again Daniel's neck.
He would, later, much later, blame what happened next on not being in his right mind. If anyone had asked. But no one had, and so Jack kept his secret, his weakness, and when he pressed his mouth to Daniel's he was, really, just trying to make the other man understand, trying to communicate through action what he couldn't communicate in words.
He startled Daniel, though, and in another time and place, Jack would have called that a win, but the lack of response on made him hurt. All over and deep down, in places and feelings he hadn't even owned up to before, but when he felt Daniel sigh and open his mouth, felt the first tentative touch of Daniel's tongue again his lower lip, Jack though, maybe, they were both finally understanding.
But it didn't matter, because when Jack rose to his feet and pulled Daniel with him, he knew what he was really doing.
He was saying goodbye.
He'd missed so much. Washington was too far away, but no one listened to him about transferring Homeworld Security to Colorado Springs. He'd missed a couple of comas for Daniel, a couple of hard won battles for Teal'c, a random disappearance for Carter, some Vala person that he vaguely remembered a mission report on involving her stealing the Prometheus, which really only made him wonder what the hell kind of place Landry was running anymore, a couple of times Mitchell fucked up but managed to save the world anyway, which actually seemed to be a theme with SG-1, so it seemed like he was fitting in okay.
But he'd still missed all of it.
It wasn't the same getting the reports weeks or months after it had happened. Or getting a phone call telling him Daniel had been kidnapped only after he'd come back and Jack was needed to pick up the pieces. Only because Daniel had asked for him. Freaky Merlin-Daniel of all things.
He would have stopped Daniel from doing any of it if he'd been there. He would have stopped Mitchell from pissing off space corn dealers. He would have stopped Carter from messing with devices she didn't understand and ending up in another reality for fuck's sake. He would have stopped all of it. He would have kept them safe. Even Mitchell and this Vala person.
It was the last report that got to him, though. Really got to him.
Teal'c's report because stuff had happened that Landry couldn't know about. A mission report that was more secret than Top Secret. Jack was sure this report was even above his pay grade, but he'd read it. All of it.
Fifty years in a time dilation field.
He should have been there. He should have. At the very least, he should have been there to say goodbye to Thor, to watch the one ally they had left blow themselves up because they didn't have anything better to do that week. But he'd had paperwork. He'd had security briefings about wars he didn't give a shit about.
All while his people were dying.
Living and dying without him.
He read about the Ori, about freezing time so Carter could find a way out. He read about Mitchell slowly going stir-crazy. He noticed the way Teal'c's handwriting got shakier when he talked about Carter, and he could read between the lines. He wanted to call Teal'c and ask if she'd been happy. To tell him that Jack was happy for them, that he understood, that it was okay.
He read about Daniel and Vala and Daniel finally getting his happily ever after. Sort of. He wanted to ask if Daniel had been happy too. He wanted to know these things. Or he wanted to want to know these things. But he didn't ask, he didn't pick up the phone and call.
He didn't want to know that they were better off without him.
And when there was a knock on his door late one night, when Jack was awake after those nightmares about Ba'al that had never really gone away, when Jack had reached for someone to find no one there at all, he found Daniel leaning against his door frame, smelling like cheap airplane alcohol. Jack wanted to make some comment about Daniel never calling or writing or about Vala or, hell, Mitchell, a joke to ease the tension.
He couldn't. He wasn't angry, he was just sad. Sad to learn that, yes, life went on without him. Before Daniel could say anything, before he could ask Jack to tell him that it was okay not to remember another life, that it wasn't the first time, probably wouldn't be the last either, Jack beat him to it.
"I'm thinking about retiring." That wasn't what he'd meant to say, but his shoulders sagged after he did, like a weight that has been there for years was suddenly gone. Now he was just tired.
Daniel, for his part, was only confused. "Okay?" He wasn't drunk enough to slur his words, but he was just buzzed enough not to get what Jack was saying.
"Yeah, I can't..." Jack took a breath and released it slowly. "I really can't do this anymore." He gestured between them, and Daniel looked around with his eyes narrowed slightly. The other man huffed a little, like he was winding himself up to say something, to say more, to lecture, and Jack couldn't let that happen. Not until he was finished saying what he'd never thought he'd say. "Thinking about moving to the cabin. Getting rid of those damn fish, you know?" He thought about everything he could.
Everything about the Odyssey. About losing all of them, but especially Daniel. About what the hell he was thinking on that ship with that...person Jack didn't even know. Didn't Daniel know that Jack got final say on stuff like that? But he couldn't. Daniel didn't need all of that knowledge weighing him down any more than Jack needed it. Jack just didn't have the comfort of forgetting all of it. So in the end, Jack shrugged and sighed.
"Washington's too far away." Simple as that. He thought it over, and realized that covered everything, So he nodded and turned and walked away.
Daniel could either leave or stay, and Jack would get an answer to some unasked question that was making his stomach turn over and over until it was in knots as he walked back to his bedroom. He crawled back into bed and he waited. Minutes later, he heard the front door close, and Jack held his breath. Another few minutes and he heard the door to his bedroom nudge open, felt Daniel's weight on the side of the bed as he climbed in.
And near dawn, when the nightmares hit again, and Jack reached over to find Daniel right there where he belonged, Jack rolled into the warmth of the other man, buried his face in his neck and breathed.