Title: Mourning
Author: Isabelle Ashe
Category: Jack/Janet friendship, Daniel/Janet relationship, Jack/Daniel friendship, angst
Season/Spoilers: season 5, episode tag for Meridian
Rating: PG-13 (for language)
Summary: Two friends help each other through a mutual grief.
Archive: free to a good home; just let me know where it's going, please

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable 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 unrecognized 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.

Author's Notes: Originally, the idea for this fic was much more dark and pathological than the final result here...those of you who were wary about reading it, rest assured, there is no failed pity sex! Even drunk, angry, and grief-stricken, Janet and Jack decided to be smarter than that. So you'll all be happy to know that it's definitely a *friendship* piece. Also, it is very angsty (Kleenex warning) and told from a point of view that might not be the kindest to Daniel, but I think within the context, that's the only way I could write it. So I hope that doesn't turn anyone off.


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Mourning


After the fourth beer, Jack knew he was drunk, but it was a quiet, aware, sober-drunk. He popped the cap off the fifth, hoping for oblivion. Anything to wipe the past few days away. Outside, headlights slowed in front of his house, and he heard a car door slam.

"So help me God, Carter, I do not feel like talking," he growled under his breath. He felt vaguely like he should have offered...something...to Carter and Teal'c, that they should have spent this night together, but he just couldn't bring himself to speak to either of them. As soon as he could, he'd left the mountain in his wake; several hours later, he was sitting in his living room in the dark, making waste of a six-pack.

There was pounding on the door. Jack sat still, hoping Carter would give up and go away. The headlights pulled away, but the pounding continued. He frowned. Was she drunk, too, that she had taken a cab? And if the cab had left, how would she leave?

"Dammit, Colonel, open up the door," yelled a voice. "I know you're in there!"

Jack looked up at the door in surprise. It wasn't Carter after all. It was Janet Fraiser. Oh God. If he couldn't face Carter, he sure as hell couldn't face Fraiser.

The pounding continued. "You sonofabitch! Open up the door and explain yourself! I'm this close to breaking the glass," she warned.

Jack knew better than to disbelieve her, so he pulled himself up off the couch, grabbing the arm of it to steady himself. She was as mad as hell, he knew, and she had a right to be. He unlocked the door and opened it.

She looked terrible. Her eyes were red and bloodshot, and what little of her mascara that remained was smudged. Pieces of hair were falling out of place, and her uniform, which she was still wearing, was disheveled and wrinkled. He could smell the alcohol on her breath.

"Doc," he said, standing aside so she could enter.

"Bastard," she replied, pushing past him.

Jack sighed as he looked at her. He knew how much Daniel had loved Janet, yet in the surreal conversation he had this afternoon with his friend, Daniel hadn't even mentioned her. Janet was understandably hurt and upset, but Jack didn't know what to say to her.

Janet pierced him with her sharpest glare. "How could you?" she spat. "Jacob was right there healing him! He was going to be all right, and you killed him!"

"Hey!" snapped Jack, his own temper flaring. "That's not fair! I can't explain it, but he came to me and said he was going to be okay, but we had to let him go. I don't like it one bit, but I did what he wanted."

"Bullshit! How could he have wanted to die? To leave us? You let him die!"

"You think I wanted him to die? Or do whatever the hell he did? Dammit, Janet, he's my best friend! Give me some credit; I was just trying to do what he wanted." His voice escalated as he spoke, and he found himself taking a step toward her.

Janet's eyes blazed. "Why? Why did he want to go?" She started to pace frantically around the room. "Goddammit, Daniel, what the hell were you thinking?" she yelled at the ceiling. She seized up one of Jack's empty beer bottles and hurled it against the wall with a loud shatter. "Why?" she repeated, but this time the rage was gone from her voice, and she seemed to be breaking apart at the seams. A tear escaped down her cheek, and her shoulders sagged. Jack caught her just before she dropped.

Janet Fraiser was a woman of steel, but Jack felt her crumple in his arms; he sank to the floor with her, no longer able to support himself to stand. He held her as she sobbed uncontrollably into his chest. He had been surprised all day by his own relative lack of emotion...there was a deep ache in his soul, but it had left him feeling numb. As he sat holding his best friend's grieving lover, however, the numbness melted away, revealing the sharp pain of Daniel's death, combined with the guilt over his own inability to do anything to stop it. He tried for a futile moment or two to rein in his emotions, but soon his own tears overwhelmed him.

"This was stupid, Daniel!" he cried bitterly, hoping that his friend, wherever he was, could hear.

They held each other for a long time, neither willing to let go, even after exhausting the flood of tears. Without realizing it, Jack had loosened the remainder of Janet's hair from its clasp, and he stroked it absently as she continued to sniffle against his t-shirt.

"I should go home," she said finally, her voice weak. "Cassie hasn't heard from me in hours."

"Do you really think it's best for her to see you like this?" Jack asked. "Besides, it's really late...she's probably gone to bed."

"I don't know how I'm going to tell her that he's gone. She teased us mercilessly, but I know she was happy about having him in our lives."

Jack sighed and held Janet a little tighter. He didn't know how to respond. He knew that somehow they would survive this grief...all of them...but from his current perspective of the living room floor in the dead of night, he wasn't sure how it would be possible. Finally, he settled on the only thing he knew to be true. "We should get some sleep, Doc. It's been days. You can crash in my guest room."

Janet nodded but didn't move. Jack shifted her weight off of himself, and then stood, pulling her up with him. She sagged heavily against him, and he wrapped an arm around her waist, guiding her toward the back of the house. He pointed out the bathroom and gave her a t-shirt and sweats to change into while he quickly made up the guest bed.

"Thank you, Jack," she said quietly from the doorway as he finished straightening the blankets. "I'm sorry for what I said earlier."

Jack simply nodded in response. She looked so small and vulnerable, dwarfed in the sleeping attire he had loaned her. For the hundredth time that night, he wondered how Daniel, after seeing this side of Janet, which he surely must have, could possibly have left her. "Get some rest," he said, laying a hand on her shoulder.

"Could you..." Janet chewed on her bottom lip, glanced up at him, and then looked down at the floor. "I don't want to be alone."

"Me neither," Jack answered truthfully.

When they climbed into bed, she didn't snuggle close, but she did take hold of his hand, giving herself, he imagined, just enough human contact but nothing that would remind her of sleeping with Daniel. He watched as she fell asleep almost as soon as she burrowed into the pillows, her breathing growing rhythmic, and her face relaxing for the first time in too many days. He brushed an errant hair out of her face and very gently kissed her temple.

Being sure to keep hold of her hand, Jack rolled over to stare up at the ceiling. "Oh, Daniel," he whispered, "what have you done?"

***

The End

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