Title: King of Infinite Nutshell
Email: email@example.com I'd love feedback, in particular because this is a weirdish fic for me.
Category: Angst, Jack POV, S/J implied, J/Sara implied
Spoilers: Lost City (both parts), The Fifth Race. References to Broca Divide, Hathor, Message In a Bottle, Point of View, Torment of Tantalus.
Season/Sequel Info: Set during Lost City, Part 1
CONTENT LEVEL: 18+ for language
Content warnings: Language, Depression
Disclaimer: I don't own Jack or any of the rest of them. I don't make any money off them, and I wouldn't dream of taking any money out of the pockets of those wonderful folks who created them and have sustained them for all these years.
Author's Notes: Well, who doesn't need a little depression in their life? I'd like to say I don't know where this ficlet came from, but unfortunately I know exactly where it came from. I had my doubts about writing it. I continue to have doubts about certain aspects of it that seem like they might come off as wildly out of Jack's character. But I finished it and I want to put it out there.
King of Infinite Nutshell
It's roomy in here. That's a surprise. Kinda pissing me off, too. You spend a lifetime (or as close as you're gonna get) filling your head up with crap (and the Simpsons) and it's not enough.
Maybe it's not me. Maybe the timing's all fucked up. Or maybe it's one to a customer. Maybe this is not going to happen and we're all trying not to stare at me for nothing. That would suck.
Except for the not dying part. For a while. I mean, this is it, right? Without this, we've got nothing and everyone dies anyway. Or worse.
The waiting sucks in all kinds of ways. For one thing, it's going on too long. Really wasn't counting on having this much time rattling around with my own thoughts. If they're even mine, and I doubt they are. Let's face it: I'm a "Meow meow meow meow" kinda guy. This serious shit I keep stepping in is not me.
For example: Dostoevsky. Yeah, I've read him. Or been near people who were reading him. Have I thought about him in the last 25 years? No way. Then last night, there he is: Semyonovsky Square, December 22, waiting for the bullet with his name on it. And Boom! The ultimate Russian Practical Joke.
When I'm not wondering what information that's actually important I might have tossed out to remember this crap (down to the goddamned date!), I'm actually thinking about this. One of the other prisoners went crazy. But not Good Old Fyodor, he sucked it up. Turned it into a few good books.
Wondering which column I go in? Easy: Option C, business as usual. Come on, it's not like I haven't been here before. I spend more time waiting to die than Teal'c does doing that thing with his eyebrow. Not just getting in situations where I * could die* ---hell, that's life.
I mean waiting for it: Iraq, all kinds of Goa'uld ships, Tok'ra tunnels, in HELL for cryin' out loud. This isn't even the first time I've waited to die from this . So yeah, the sofa in this waiting room's got an ass groove with my name on it and I do * not* remember Dostoevsky mixed in with the MAD Magazines.
So what's different this time? That I chose this? No way. No more choice than there ever is. Daniel thinks he'd have gone out happy if it had been him. Doing the backstroke in Meaning of Life stuff. That's not how it is (or not how it was. This time, who knows?). It's war. Invasion: Not first contact, not a democracy. You don't get a chance to welcome your new insect overlords.
First you're kind of scootching over, like your head's a city bus and a 400-lb smelly guy just picked the seat next to you. Before you know it, you're running, chucking things as you go. You keep telling yourself you've just gotta hang on to the most important stuff. And it's there with you until the very last second, like an old TV turning off. That little pinprick of blue light seems like it's gonna hang in there forever. Then the black makes its move and gulps it down.
I probably should have gotten something out of that last time. Not a great book or anything, but something I could use. Isn't that what's supposed to happen? Well, I didn't learn anything I didn't know. Not really. No surprise guest stars in my Blue Dot Moment. Guess I've got some time on my hands, so here's the cast list from Jack O'Neill's last thoughts on Earth (well, Opthana, but whatever):
(1) Charlie. He's always on my mind, really. Every minute. Always has been. It's different now, though. Before, I had to force myself. Had to keep pulling the scab off and make sure it still hurt as much as it should. By that time, I was remembering the good stuff, too. Once in a while anyway. The last thought I remember having then was that at least I wouldn't miss him growing up.
Not the most fatherly thought ever, and I'm not exactly proud---"Hey kid, good thing you're dead, otherwise I might miss something." But it wasn't like that. At least not * completely* like that. I stood on that ramp, and I knew I was never coming back. There was hardly any me to come back by that point. And just for a minute, I felt like the kind of father Charlie would have needed. And I was glad I wasn't taking that away from him.
(2) Daniel. Boy was I pissed at him. We'd gone round and round for two years about all this "communication" crap. By that time---and this is just for starters---I'd gone Cro-Magnon, been pinned to a wall through the shoulder, and been pussy-whipped and turned into a Jaffa by a Goa'uld queen. All in the name of Daniel's firm belief that the answer to any situation is to sit down and talk about everyone's feelings. So there I am with an alien race playing slumlord in my head, and who's the only one who can speak O'Neill? The Great Communicator himself.
Talk about getting the last laugh. I'm in the same position as every alien I've ever wanted to toss a grenade at, and Daniel's my phone line to the human race. And the weirdest thing (and that's saying something) was, his version of me wasn't such an ass. Oh, edited the hell out of me, that's for sure ("Shut up and go away"----a * very* polite translation of the text), but it was more than that. Daniel's Jack was someone you'd miss. Of course, the * real* Jack (who, let's face it, is a petty little bastard), was kinda glad he had the ultimate excuse not to tell Daniel he was right all along about all that talking stuff.
(3) Teal'c. The big guy (along with Hammond, really) was number two on the life-saver list, right after the Asgard. WIthout those two, I'd have swallowed a bullet long before I'd have let things get as weird as they did. Maybe it's a guy thing, but everyone needs to know that there's someone ready with a staff blast to the back when it's needed. I knew right up to that last minute that he'd never let me hurt anyone or do any real damage. Without that, there's no way things could have played out that long.
But at the end, I was worried about him, thinking he'd be kind of lonely without his fellow muscle head. Don't get me wrong, like everyone else on the team, Teal'c's about a hundred times smarter than yours truly. I think he gets about 20% of what Carter's talking about most of the time. More if she's talking weapons. But he's a "Get It Done" kinda guy. Nowadays, I know what that means to him---to have someone who knows that there are times when you've gotta shoot the alternate reality you first and ask questions later. Back then, in that last minute, it was news to me. And I was glad I had been able to be that for him, just for a while.
(4) Sam. It's hard to say what I was thinking about her. The whole Wylie Coyote thing really freaked us both out. When there was enough of me left, I was worried that I was gonna blow us all up. That was nowhere near as scary as being sure I wasn't going to. Some guys would have enjoyed showing her up. Hell, at one point, Iprobably would have enjoyed it. But by then, Carter knowing everything was home to me.
None of this really gets at the Blue Dot Moment, though, does it? The problem is, I wasn't in love with her then. I do know that. And at the risk of sounding completely Oprah, I swear, I can't remember what it was like to be the pre-Carter me. I honestly don't know what the hell I thought about all damned day when it wasn't her. So if it's bigger in here this time around, I can't help thinking it's her fault. Maybe that's why it's been days and I've got dead Russians coming out my ears.
What I can tell you that last fraction of a second was all hers. That last square inch of head space wasn't for Charlie or Sara or even Homer. Instead, it turned out to be neatly labeled "Carter." You'd think that would have clued me in, wouldn't you? 'Fraid not. I'm a guy, not Daniel, and it was seeing her naked that did the trick. So if I wasn't pissing away the last minutes of my life realizing I was in love with Carter, what was I thinking? Mostly that having my brain annexed like Poland wasn't the least bit "enlightening." And then wishing that she could have showed me how to do it right.
So what was it like, waiting to die?
Frustrating. The thing was, I didn't * want* to die. Not a big surprise by that point. Sure, life from that gunshot to stepping through the Gate for the first time had been one long suicide mission. But Abydos cleared that death wish right up. I knew there wouldn't be another Charlie or another Sara. Hell, a man who'd lived my life probably never deserved them in the first place. But there were Skarras and even Daniels out there. Add in beer, a telescope, and the Simpsons and that just might be enough.
But surprising, too. Let's face it, not wanting to die is not exactly embracing life. More like a quick handshake with a covert palm wipe on the old pant leg afterwards. I never thought that there would be so many things that started with "I'm glad . . ." in the last minutes of Jack O'Neill. But there they were. Lots of things I felt lucky not to have missed. And even things I could be proud of. For a guy like me, that's a hell of a thing and certainly more than I think I deserve.
Why is it different this time? Why is it so much worse than even I could have imagined this time?
Because I want to live. I want to see the end of this war. I want to see the smoldering backside of Anubis and I want to dance on his grave. I want to know what happens next. I want to listen to Daniel ramble on about some gorgeous hunk of rock and not wonder, "But what's it do? What can we kill with it?" I want to see Teal'c and Rya'c spend the day together and not have ambush tactics come up even once. I want to see Kayla and Tessa twirling around in Granddad's big desk chair.
And I want Sam. God do I want her. I want to gawk openly. I want to see just how hard you've got to kiss her to shut that gorgeous brain up just for a second. I want to feed her jell-o in bed. I want her to get a life outside of this job, and I want that life to be with me.
This isn't just back to square one for me. I haven't hit the pause button again and restarted my life from the minute before Charlie got his hands on my gun. I have never felt this way before. I've never felt like I had much to give. And now that I'm out of time, I think there are a lot of things I could do right: Be a partner to Sam. Maybe even be a father again.
That probably seems a little late in the game. I've been divorced for nearly as long as I was married. My kind's been gone for 10 years now. And here I am thinking "Hey, I think I could do this family thing up right." The truth is, when I had a family, they scared me. Being a husband scared me. Being a father * terrified* me. Turns out that fear looks a lot like not giving a shit. Pissed Sara off to no end. I think she was happy a lot of the time, but it always felt like an accident. I didn't see how it could have come from me.
I think I do now. Goddamnit, Daniel, you're right again. Meaning of Life stuff? You're soaking in it.
I think I've made a big mistake. Oh, I'd do it again. No choice. I told them all that and I meant it. But my empty head is not the only thing I have to give them.
I want to live.