The condo seemed oddly quiet when I let myself in. Those big windows he fell in love with let in plenty of late afternoon light. I shove the big door shut and lock it. He has the worst habit of leaving the door open and letting his neighbors wander through. Teal’c winces every time he comes over and strangers shout from the hallway as they pass. I go to the stereo and switch it on, let whatever music is on fill the space.
I walk through the kitchen, noticing the dishes in the sink. I’m sure he had every intention of loading the dishwasher, but they – he – left in such a hurry that he probably didn’t have time. I load the machine and start it up before I tidy up the kitchen. He’ll want the place to be nice and neat when he comes back.
The kitchen isn’t big so it doesn’t take long. I tackle the bedroom next. I strip the bed and get the towels from the bathroom so that I can do a load of laundry. I run a dust mop over the hardwood floors; they’re pretty easy to keep clean.
Part of me realizes that I’m focusing on the mindlessness of the work so I can’t, won’t, focus on what’s really bothering me. That’s why I’m here and not at my place. And because no one will look for me here. If they really need me, they can call my cell. Unless it’s really good news, I don’t much want to talk to anyone.
Kerry wanted me to go to Denver with her but I told her I needed some time; she’s not stupid, she knows I’m stepping away from her. From us. We haven’t talked about Daniel; she brought him up once and I shut her down. Yes, he’s the big elephant in the room that we both pretend isn’t there.
Then there’s Carter. She wants me to ‘acknowledge’ the fact that Daniel’s gone and agree to a memorial service. Even though I know where she’s coming from, I shut her down, too. The last time we lost him, really lost him, we didn’t do anything. We didn’t have a service, we didn’t lift a toast to his memory, we just went on like he was gone to DC for the weekend or something. Carter’s the kind of person who needs stuff to come full circle, to close that circle so you can go on. Life, unfortunately, isn’t always a math equation.
Teal’c just went off to get his Jaffa brethren all fired up but I knew he was hurting over Daniel as much as anyone. He has gotten a bit better at letting people know how he feels. And, thankfully, I have, too. So wherever Daniel is, I have to believe that he knows he’s loved and that there’s a light burning in a window for him, if he needs help to find his way back.
Speaking of windows, I wonder if I should get the big squeegee out to clean those suckers? It’s the only way you can get the top ones clean. I glance over at the library/office where the donkey piñata hangs. Teal’c bought it for Daniel for a house-warming present and Daniel was so charmed with the damned thing, he wouldn’t let anyone whack it for the candy. He got a ladder and tied it to the rafters so he can see it from his desk. Teal’c had a smug smile on his face for like a week afterward. I tried to tell him Daniel liked my present just fine but Teal’c contended that a high-speed blender just didn’t compare with a piñata. Unfortunately, I might have to agree with him although Daniel has used the blender to make some great margaritas.
The washer pings and I go put that load in the dryer and put in his jeans and dark clothes. The bed looks desolate with the spread balled up, waiting for the sheets to get dry. I decide to wait there in the little sitting area in the bedroom. If anyone wondered why Daniel had two reading chairs instead of one, they never brought it up. But there is a matching set of chairs and ottomans, with little matching reading tables and lamps.
I sit in his chair, put my feet up on his ottoman and stare out those goddamned windows.
Kerry finally took the hint and gave me the heave-ho. I don’t have even the slightest twinge of guilt over the way it ended; if I were thinking logically, even I would realize there was something sick and dark and wrong with me letting her think it was Carter I was pining over.
At this point, I don’t much care what anyone thinks of me.
I just thought seeing the Jaffa finally free would excite me more than it has. And Teal’c, too. It’s a bittersweet moment for SG-1. Well, at least, the part of SG-1 who are, you know, actually here.
He refused to tell me how he actually died this time. But I’m guessing it was pretty horrible, if Brightman’s face was any indication. When she came to my office to give me the report, her face was the approximate color of her lab coat. His vitals, she said, were pretty much within the normal ranges, except that his blood pressure was somewhat low. This was said with a shudder. Her advice was to send him home and let him get some rest. Since it was late afternoon anyway, I screwed the rest of my schedule, left Walter to handle that fallout and took Daniel home.
Where he is sitting in his reading chair, wrapped up in a blanket, staring out the windows, watching the heavy gray clouds hang in the sky. I sit down on his ottoman and he automatically scoots his feet aside to make room. “I cheated on you.” I announce baldly.
His eyes meet mine, completely expressionless. “Did you, now?”
“Yep.” I keep staring, trying to gauge his reaction. There is none.
He lets his head fall back against the chair. “Couldn’t live without me?”
“Didn’t seem like it was worth the effort, really.”
It wasn’t the ‘oh, God, I’d know if he were dead!’ thing. That’s bullshit. If that were true, I would have felt it when Charlie left this Earth; in fact, I felt Charlie follow me around for months after we put him in the ground.
I kept coming back here because it was one of the only two places I could find Daniel. The base was almost a given; he’s there in his office and Carter’s lab and the control room and the infirmary, and, well, you get my meaning.
I’m the reason he bought that stupid little house to begin with. We had a big fight about me trying to tell him what to do and I suppose he was smart enough to see through my lecture about owning property and taxes. He knew, damn him, he knew from the start that I was trying to tie him down, make him put down roots, just trying any way I could just to get him to stay, to have something to stay for. Buying this condo was his way of thumbing his nose at me and, as gestures went, I must admit it was a pretty good one.
This makes it that much funnier to him, I’m sure, that this place became home. I could feel him here at the condo which is somewhat surprising since he’s only been here a short while. But he’s in every square inch of this place whereas he seemed to have left my house permanently. Sounds really kinky, but I just knew the first time I fucked Kerry in my bed, Daniel would be standing by to kick my ass. I did and he didn’t. But it felt so damned good not to be alone at night that I just drifted into sleeping with her on a semi-permanent basis.
Suddenly, he smiles. “Look,” he points out. I look out the window. The first tiny flakes of snow waft by.
We sit there in silence for a very long time. “So, this cheating thing. That a deal breaker for you?”
He stares at me intently then an odd smile creeps across his face. “Technically, I was dead at the time. So, technically, it wasn’t really cheating.”
“That’s a remarkably magnanimous attitude. And I personally think it’s bullshit. Don’t tell me you don’t care that I slept with someone else while you were…dead.”
“Oh, I care, I care a great deal. And I care enough to not throw us away over a single infidelity.” His eyes narrow. “It was just one infidelity, right? Do I need to make a list of woman to avoid because they slept with my boyfriend?” There is an oddly serious light in his eyes.
“No, just Kerry.”
He nods. “Good.” He glances back out the window. “It’s starting to stick now.”
Two hours later, the snow is lying on quite thickly and Daniel has finally given in and crawled into bed. I’ve been hovering around, checking on him, listening to him breathe deeply in his sleep and toss around when he can’t. “Will you stop already?” He commands and I stop in my silent flight from the room. “Do me a favor?”
It’s embarrassing how quickly I make it back to the bed, to sit at his side and prepare to do his bidding. “Of course, Daniel, whatever you want.” His expression tells me I’m laying it on a tad too thick. “Sorry.”
“The next time I die,” I cannot contain the wince at his well-chosen words, “will you try to keep it in your pants until they actually, you know, find my body?”
There is no way to answer that so I just nod and catch his hand in mine, while the snow drifts past the windows.