Drops in the Ocean
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Season/Spoilers: Tag to Season 1 episode: Children of the Gods
Series: Part of Scribes Shower Series
Synopsis: Jack seeks an explanation to Daniel's mysterious behaviour
Author's Notes: I believe this originally appeared in one of Yum@'s wonderful Foundation zines. Hopefully I'm not breaking any contract by now posting it on the web as I think it's been over a year now.
Jack didn't like to think of himself as the kind of guy who got obsessed over details. But this thing with Daniel? It was weird. And it was bugging the hell out of him, despite his best efforts to ignore it. After all, it was none of his business what Daniel got up to in the bathroom so long as he didn't leave damp towels festering on the floor or squeeze toothpaste all over the sink. It was just there was something about the contradictory facts between what Daniel obviously achieved during his bathroom occupation and Jack's sensory experience on the other side of the door that had snagged him like a bear trap and was now refusing to let him go. Or, as Captain Carter had described, it was as though, somehow, he was putting two and two together and only getting three instead of four. Damn irritating.
It wasn't even as though he got a thrill out of solving mysteries. Scooby Doo could keep the monopoly on ghost hunts, and he really couldn't even begin to understand why the mystery of the pyramids had consumed Daniel for most of his adult life. But for some reason this ambiguity, right in his own house and revolving around Daniel, well, he just had to know what the hell was going on. For his own peace of mind, if nothing else.
Prior to Daniel's arrival, life in the O'Neill household had been straightforward. Jack would get up, head to bathroom, turn on the shower, then promise himself he'd call a plumber while his antiquated pipes squealed and groaned a protest at the hot water drilling its way through the house to the showerhead. Daniel, however, managed to arrive in the kitchen every morning smelling of vanilla and sandalwood shower gel, and with his long hair damp and tousled, without creating a repeat performance of the banshee opera. It was definitely a mystery - with a capital 'M'.
It would, of course, have been simple to ask Daniel how he achieved such a feat. However, there was something niggling at the back of Jack's mind that made him hold back the question; some inner sense that told him the enquiry would somehow be invading Daniel's personal space. Fortunately he'd managed to stifle that same inner sense in order to come up with a devious - one might even say cunning - plan. Others, of course, might just call it low-down and sneaky. Kawalski would probably just tell him he was acting like a pervert and should just go out and get laid. But then Kawalski's answer to everything was to go out and get laid, and even he would have to agree that wouldn't provide an answer to this particular conundrum.
So here he was. Lying in wait behind his bedroom door listening for the telltale sounds of bare feet padding along the tiled floor towards the bathroom. Fortunately he was a patient kind of guy because Daniel wasn't exactly regular in his habits - probably something to do with adjusting back to Earth's twenty-four hour days after a year of living on Abydos. Whatever the reason, there was actually no guessing when Daniel might get out of bed if left to his own devices. Jack really hoped today wasn't going to be one of those days that Daniel didn't surface until after noon.
Ah! He was in luck. There was the telltale squeak of the guest room door, followed by the soft slip-slap of bare skin on slate tiles. A yawn and... Whoa. Okay, so even Doctors of Archaeology sometimes let one loose, and to be fair, Daniel didn't realise he had an audience.
Jack pressed closer to the wall as Daniel passed his doorway even though the archaeologist couldn't possibly have seen him hidden behind a two-inch thick slab of cedar wood. The bathroom door was opened then pushed to. A murmured curse drifted through the air to Jack's ears and he smiled softly to himself. Daniel obviously wasn't pleased to discover the lock had mysteriously broken overnight. A few seconds of door handle rattling took place, then Daniel gave in to the inevitable, pushing the door closed as best he could.
Jack waited for two whole minutes, timing the passing seconds as though taking part in a military exercise. There were, after all, certain bodily acts he had no desire to witness. As the second hand ticked past twelve he silently slid into the hallway and made his way towards the bathroom. He'd checked the angles the previous evening and had the perfect vantage point already mapped out. Moving silently he slipped into position, one toe gently nudging the bathroom door to widen the opening by another two inches.
Whoa! He got an eyeful of Daniel. Or rather an eyeful of Daniel's butt. Daniel's naked butt.
He flattened himself against the wall, feeling embarrassed heat burn in his cheeks. Kawalski was right. He was a pervert. Sneaking round his house to find out what his houseguest did in the bathroom was hardly normal behaviour, mystery or not. But still, he'd come this far, he might as well finish the mission. He craned forward again, this time keeping his gaze well above waist level. Daniel was standing in front of the sink, washing himself. Not just his face, but an all-over wash. Moreover, judging from the way he pressed the flannel into the basin, he was using no more than a couple of inches of water.
Well, that explained the lack of screaming pipes and steamed up mirrors. But now Jack had another anonymity on his hands. Why the hell would Daniel ignore the shower in favour of the basin? Did he have some sort of aqua phobia? Or maybe it was claustrophobia, and he couldn't cope with the enclosed space of the shower cubicle. Jack shook his head in bemusement; he was going to have to ask Daniel what he was up to after all.
He slipped out of his bedroom and hurried to the kitchen, knowing that the aroma of percolating coffee would draw his quarry. Just for good measure he pulled out a frying pan and a packet of bacon. The air in the kitchen was quickly filled with tantalising odours. Sure enough, Daniel appeared a few minutes later, one hand running through his damp hair, the other fumbling with a shirt button.
"Smells good," he mumbled by way of greeting, heading straight to the coffee pot. Moving the quarter-full jug out of the way, he slipped an empty mug under the stream of coffee, his thumb and first finger rubbing against each other as he impatiently waited for the machine to do its job. Jack smiled to himself. It was a wonder Daniel had survived on Abydos for a year without coffee.
He flipped the cooked bacon onto two plates, added some hot toast and slid the plates onto the table. Coffee cup now in hand, Daniel dropped into a chair in front of one of the plates and began to slather butter over his toast. He glanced up appreciatively as he stuffed the first piece of bacon into his mouth with his fingers, speaking around the food. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Jack replied, wondering how long it would take to re-train Daniel's table manners to the twenty-first century. First things first, though. "So," he said casually, trying to think of a tactful way to raise the subject on his mind and failing totally. "You do know you can use the shower, right?"
"Sure." Daniel added ketchup to his plate.
"Good, only I'd hate for you to think that " Jack poked at his bacon, not knowing how to continue.
"Think what?" Daniel asked, finally picking up a fork.
"That, umm, that I'd mind about the water or something. 'Cos I wouldn't, so you don't need to, you know." Jack made a small circular gesture with his fork as though that explained everything.
Daniel stopped chewing; his head jerked up and his gaze met Jack's, accusation flickering across his face. He swallowed and then licked his lips, a small frown forming a crease line between his brows. "Were you watching me this morning?"
"Watching you where?" Jack asked as innocently as he could.
Daniel raised his eyebrows, his expression one of disbelief, although whether it was at what he was asking or at Jack's feigned innocence it was impossible to tell.
"In the bathroom," he said, each word slow and deliberate.
"No!" Jack winced, knowing the speed of his reply had just given him away. "Well, I may have, when I walked passed, perhaps just... Did you notice the bathroom lock is broken? I'll get that fixed today."
Daniel stared at him for a long moment, then turned his attention back to his food. Jack squirmed inwardly, but still he couldn't let the subject drop.
"So what's with the washing in the basin thing then?"
Daniel's hand froze midway between his plate and his mouth, the bacon glistening with hot fat and a thick, dark smear of ketchup. He stared at it as though surprised to find it there, then slowly laid it back on his plate. His voice was low and heavy with emotion as he spoke. "You'll think I'm stupid."
Jack blew out a dismissive breath. "Daniel, I think you're a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them." That earned him an appreciative glance and the briefest of shy smiles. He breathed a silent sigh of relief that his peeping Tom act apparently wasn't going to drive Daniel into the nearest motel.
"Okay," Daniel said slowly. "Living on Abydos, you get used to treating every drop of water as though its as precious as gold." His eyes took on a far-away look. "Sha're and I used to wash together in the mornings, sharing our water. You know, it's amazing how little two people actually need to get clean. Just an inch or two of cool water and the cleansing oil Sha're prepared from the herbs that grew far off on the desert plain."
He closed his eyes and drew in a shuddery breath, leaving Jack with the definite impression that washing wasn't the only thing the newly married Jacksons got up to in their morning ritual. When he opened them again he met Jack's gaze.
"I can't explain it, Jack. It's just that, somehow, by washing the Abydonian way, I don't know, it just seems like I'm keeping hold of a thread, holding on to something that joins me to Sha're." He gave a small shrug as though dismissing the subject, then added lightly, "Besides, your plumbing makes a hell of a racket."
"Yeah, I've noticed that," Jack replied, grateful that Daniel had closed his emotional sharing with the flippant remark. Talking feelings wasn't Jack's strong point. He stared down at his plate, wishing he could come up with some word of wisdom, or even just a sympathetic comment to help ease the hurt. Part of him could imagine how Daniel must be feeling about having his wife torn away from him by the Goa'uld. But part of him also acknowledged that he couldn't really comprehend the pain. When he'd lost Sarah, he'd been so numb to his emotions, he'd barely even registered her absence. At least, not until it had been too late to do anything about it. Daniel, however, had spent one of the happiest years of his life with his new wife, only to have her cruelly snatched from him. The raw pain of Sha're's loss was radiating off him now, and Jack had no idea how to soothe it. Wasn't even sure that he should try, other than by letting Daniel find his own ways to deal with it. That and doing his damn best to help Daniel get her back.
"More coffee?" he asked.
Daniel gave a small, smile and nodded.
And so another day began.
Loved it or hated it? Why not let me know?