Author’s Note: Written for overlife for the Janet Ficathon; she wanted Daniel/Janet or Janet/Jonas and *lots* of angst…I decided to try for all three. 🙂
“I’d like to see Jonas Quinn.”
Dr. Janet Fraiser turned towards the sound of the voice, her demeanor growing cold as she recognized the woman who had spoken to her in such a clipped, cool tone. Ambassador Dreylock of Kelowna. The woman who had supported her government’s decision to brand Jonas a traitor, but didn’t seem to think anything of playing on the young man’s stubborn loyalty to the homeworld that betrayed him when that same world needed the SGC’s help.
She was very tempted to tell the woman that Jonas was asleep and couldn’t have any visitors, but considering that he was very much awake and within earshot, she bit her tongue. “All right, but don’t be long. He needs rest to recover fully.” And he doesn’t need to be hurt any more than he already is, she didn’t add.
The ambassador nodded stiffly and approached the bed that Janet had indicated. She drew the curtain closed behind her, but not before Jonas flashed the petite CMO a resigned smile. She’d barely answered it by the time the cloth barrier separated them.
It was as if Dreylock expected the curtain to prevent Janet from hearing whatever she had to say as well, or maybe she expected her to take the hint and leave, but Dr. Fraiser didn’t budge from the chart she’d been reading. She didn’t trust the ambassador, and certainly wasn’t going to leave Jonas to her tender mercies without backup within reach if it became necessary.
“Ambassador,” she heard him greet the woman politely. “What can I do for you?”
“Actually, it’s what I hope I can do for you,” the ambassador answered with false cheerfulness, as false as the smile she sometimes wore. Was it any wonder that Jonas tried to hide everything behind his own smile? His world had taught him that it wasn’t all right to feel, to care. Especially not if caring cracked that veneer of nothing-wrong. But he did care, and that caring had made him an exile.
Dreylock continued. “The Tiranian and Andari ambassadors have agreed, as have I, to redouble our efforts towards peace.”
Unlike his visitor, Jonas’ enthusiasm was genuine. “That’s great! I knew you could do it if everyone just sat down and listened to each other.”
Janet could almost hear the plastic smile that the ambassador pasted onto her face. “They have, however, made one demand.”
Jonas’ heart sank audibly in his voice. “What’s that?”
“They wish you to be the Kelownan representative on the joint ruling council.”
Silence loomed large and ominous, and Janet’s heart tightened.
“What did you tell them?” Jonas finally asked, his voice low and careful.
“I told them I would speak to you about it, so, here I am.” There was a flippant irony to the woman’s tone, but her displeasure that she’d been sent to bring back her own replacement could not totally be disguised. “The First Minister has agreed–you’re to be welcomed back as a hero, not a traitor. If you still wish, the Kelownan government will accept your version of the accident at the Naquadriah project.”
“Of course I still wish,” he almost snapped in return. “I don’t care so much about my own name, but if you want me to even consider this, the false charges against Dr. Jackson have to be dropped.”
Janet closed her eyes. Dear, dear Jonas–no matter how many times she or anyone else told him otherwise, he still blamed himself for Daniel’s death. And even now that Daniel was back–especially now–he was determined to set that right.
“If that’s what you want,” was the curtly polite reply. “Does that mean you’ll accept the position?”
“It means I haven’t said no yet,” Jonas sighed. “I’ll…I’ll let you know.”
“Very well.” Janet heard the scrape of a chair as the woman apparently stood. “You know how to contact me.”
A moment later she pulled the curtain aside and gave Dr. Fraiser a stiff nod before leaving the infirmary. Still seething, Janet crossed to Jonas’s bed and made a pretense of checking his wound–they both knew she was really checking on the condition of his spirit.
“You heard?” he asked quietly.
She could only nod, barely even able to swallow past the cold knot of fear in her throat.
“I won’t say no, no matter what I said to her,” he admitted. “This could be my planet’s only chance for peace–”
Miraculously, having that fear confirmed seemed to loosen her tongue. “Jonas, they always seem to need you when it’s convenient for them–what about the rest of the time?”
Jonas looked away and she cursed herself silently. That hadn’t come out the way she’d meant it to–not at all.
“Maybe so, but I’m not needed here at all anymore. Dr. Jackson’s back…back on SG-1.” He forced himself to look at her before continuing. “Back in your life.”
Janet sucked in her breath sharply. “Jonas–”
“It’s okay,” he conceded with a sad smile. “I know how you feel about him. I’ve always known.”
Blinking back tears, she forsook all appearances at being his doctor and laid a tender hand on his face. She almost lost the battle with her tears when she felt the muscles twitch beneath her hand as he fought not to flinch. “Jonas, I didn’t start this relationship because I wanted Daniel and he wasn’t here. You’ve never been a substitute for him. Never.”
“I know.” There was that sad smile again. “You were the first person here who ever made me feel like I wasn’t. That’s why I let myself fall.”
Still…he didn’t seem to realize that she’d let herself fall too. That the fear and anger she’d felt on his behalf, watching him fight for a gift that was killing him because he believed it was all he had to contribute, had opened the door to a much deeper tenderness that had been growing ever since she’d met him. Ever since she’d watched him stare through the glass of the observation room with hollow eyes, desperately wishing to switch places with the man who lay dying in that lonely bed. She’d walked through that open door not long after Jonas was well enough to return to active duty after brain surgery, and her only regret was that she didn’t think she could close it even if he walked away.
“You are needed here…I need you. Nothing I feel or felt for Daniel changes that.” Impulsively, Janet leaned in and kissed him.
She’d never been drawn to younger men before Daniel. Her ex-husband had been five years her senior, but her first husband had also been an oafish man the likes of which she’d never wanted to marry again.
Knowing Daniel…and even moreso, knowing Jonas…had changed her. Maybe it was the doctor in her, the need to heal a broken heart as well as a broken body, but she’d fallen for the wounded soul in both of them. And for the greater part of the year he’d been on Earth, Jonas hadn’t had anyone else to tend to his except her.
He was the first to pull away. “Yes it does.” His voice was so quietly resigned that her heart broke for him all over again. “Because if I stay, you’ll have to choose between us. And I won’t put you through that.”
He smiled feebly, despite all her efforts still not convinced of his own worth. “This is what I wanted…a chance to go home. A chance to save my world, not just other people’s.”
“What can I say to convince you to stay?” she asked helplessly.
He looked apologetic, but determined. “You can’t. But you can do one thing for me…”
She took a deep breath and let it out shakily. “What?”
“Tell Daniel how you feel. Don’t wait too long, like we did.”
Janet didn’t even try to stop the tear that rolled freely down her face, falling from her chin to hit his cheek. “Jonas…Daniel still doesn’t remember most of his life here. I doubt he even really knows me–”
He wiped her tear from his face, then used the same finger to dry the trail it left on her cheek. “He will. Promise me?”
The petite CMO’s eyes flared defiance. “No. I won’t make a promise I’m not sure I can keep.”
“Just try, then–for me?” This time his smile was ironic. “I don’t want to feel like I blew this for nothing.”
Bitter laughter bubbled up through her throat and ran down her lips. She didn’t promise, even to try, only pulled him as close as his injury would allow and held on for as long as fate would still let them hold on to each other.
She shouldn’t have been surprised that he moved on; after all, hadn’t he specifically asked her to do the same?
Janet Fraiser sighed, deliberately turning her back on the still woman–the still Goa’uld, she corrected herself ruthlessly–in the bed, and the man who sat beside it. If she felt Jonas’ eyes on her long after she could no longer meet his gaze, she didn’t let it show.
Leaving them behind in the isolation room–the same one where she’d failed to save Daniel, the same room where she’d first started to fall in love with the broken-eyed man watching through the glass–she escaped into the outer sanctuary of the rest of the infirmary. Hands found tasks to busy themselves with and her mind was a careful blank.
She’d tried to do as Jonas asked. So many times she’d opened her mouth to tell Daniel that she loved him, that she wanted to be with him while there was still time, but every time the tug of loss still proved too fresh. Jonas was too recently gone, and Daniel too recently returned, for her not to be still mourning them both.
Janet heard the door to the isolation room snick softly shut a moment before Jonas’ hands were on her shoulders, his breath against her neck. “I’m sorry.”
She shook her head, still unable to turn and look at him. “Don’t apologize to me, Jonas–you only did what you’d asked me to do.”
“You didn’t do it?” He didn’t sound surprised. He didn’t even really sound disappointed, though he tried.
Janet smiled weakly, finally facing him. “I don’t deal as well with change as I did when I was younger.” When I was your age, she didn’t add, because it made her feel older than she knew herself to be. “Part of me still believes that Daniel is dead…” She took his hand in hers, laying it over her heart. “…and that you’re still here.”
When she let go, his hand dropped helplessly to his side, matching the expression in his eyes.
“I thought I knew Kianna,” he confessed. “I thought I could move on with her. That eventually I wouldn’t see your face every time I closed my eyes. But now that I know she was a Goa’uld all along…I don’t know what to think.”
“If I asked you again to stay here…” She sought out his eyes. “…would you?”
Jonas looked away, unable to carry the weight of her plea. “No.”
Janet wondered absurdly for a moment if, in some strange way, he didn’t love Daniel more than he loved her. He was so determined to play the martyr–not to take from Daniel what he believed belonged to him. Be that SG-1, Earth…or her. Guilt and hero worship had magnified the archaeologist in Jonas’ eyes to the point where he could never find himself worthy of anything that Daniel had prior claim to as long as Daniel was there to make that claim by just existing.
Her gaze dropped in disappointment; her voice was resigned, finally, to the fact that the wound in Jonas’ soul wasn’t one she could heal. “That’s what I thought you’d say.”
Jonas knew the minute Daniel stepped through the Stargate onto Kelownan soil the depth of the disaster that had happened somewhere on the other side of that ring. Daniel, coming alone to the world that had tried to turn him into a murderer, rewarding his act of self-sacrifice with ingratitude and invented shame instead of thanking him for their lives. Something had gone wrong, something of such magnitude that Daniel only trusted himself as the messenger, more than he distrusted the world that had killed him.
They didn’t speak from the ‘Gate to the door of Jonas’ apartment, and only then to ask how long he planned to stay. Daniel’s response was vague and didn’t really answer the question at all. But the door was open, and the awkward guest was invited inside for the first time in his interrupted life.
They were seated in the living room, Jonas having retrieved a bottle of liquor that resembled but didn’t compare to Earth whiskey. Two shots were poured and the bottle set aside for later–anything dreadful enough to bring Daniel back to Kelowna without the watchful oversight of SG-1 was sure to require at least a full bottle. Maybe two.
The first shot was downed before Daniel finally found his raw, grief-roughened voice. “Jonas…Janet Fraiser was killed in the line of duty five days ago.”
A cruel joke would have been kinder in that moment, but Daniel Jackson was too kind to ever be that cruel. Only the truth could cut so deep when held in his hands.
Jonas set down his glass, rose from his seat, moved on numb feet to stare out the window with sightless eyes. Janet…killed in the line of duty…five days ago. How was it possible that he hadn’t woken up screaming? “How?”
“A staff blast to the chest…we were ambushed…” Daniel choked on the words that were being crowded out by the very hateful memory they purported to describe. “There was nothing…nothing anyone could do. She was gone by the time the rest of the med team arrived.”
The Kelownan didn’t need to translate the hollowness in the other man’s voice; he felt the very same conflict of disbelief and loss warring in his own gut. Fate had ripped out both their hearts with the same malicious hand and now laughed as they struggled to beat on alone. He’d been right to sacrifice himself, almost a year ago. He heard the truth of Daniel’s feelings in his voice, saw it in his dulled eyes and suddenly aged face. The same hand had ripped out both their hearts because both their hearts had belonged to the same woman.
“How long?” he forced himself to ask.
Daniel looked unsure, confused. “How long what?”
“How long were you together when she died?”
For a moment the archaeologist’s face contorted with the agony unique to regret, and Jonas realized the answer to his question with a shock before it was answered.
He had to sit down, had to relieve suddenly weak legs of the burden of his weight. Sinking back into the chair he’d abandoned only a minute ago, he stared in disbelief at the man he’d tried to give up everything for. And failed. He’d failed Dr. Jackson again. “She never told you.”
Daniel’s eyes both needed and dreaded the answer to the question he slowly forced his lips to form. “Told me what?”
“Ja–Dr. Fraiser was in love with you,” Jonas revealed. Too late, too late, too late for all three of them. “As long as I knew her. I tried to get her to tell you, but…she said sometimes it was still too hard just to believe you were alive.”
“How did you know?” was the next raspy question.
This one he couldn’t answer. Not without betraying yet again a man he wanted desperately to call friend, but never could because despite his words, they weren’t even. And in some ways never would be. So, instead he looked away, still seeing nothing but the memory of a silenced smile.
But Daniel was always too smart, too intuitive for his own good. “You loved her too.” When Jonas didn’t answer, the other man turned his own question back on him. “How long?”
“Four months, before you came back.”
For a long, empty stretch of eternal minutes, they stared at each other. Both envying, wanting what the other had, or what each thought the other had. “What was it like?” Daniel finally asked. “To kiss her…touch her…”
“It was like nothing else in the universe,” Jonas admitted. He poured another shot and handed it to the other man. He’d failed to give Daniel back the woman he loved; liquid oblivion was a poor substitute but all he had left to offer. He poured another one for himself.
The archaeologist just stared at the finger of amber liquor. “I think you’re wrong. I don’t think my…Ascension was the reason Janet never said anything to me. I think you were.” The respect in the eyes he raised to meet Jonas’ own wasn’t new…but the Kelownan had never allowed himself to see it before.
Jonas shuddered, not wanting to face even the possibility of truth in Daniel’s words. Because if he let himself believe Janet loved him…he really had given her up for nothing. “Does it matter now?”
Daniel shook his head. “No…I guess it doesn’t.” He raised his glass in a somber toast. “To Janet.”
The two glasses met with the hollow ring of lost possibilities, and the room echoed with shared memories long into the bleak night.