Title: Flying Without Wings
Fandom: SG-1 AU
Word Count: 2647
Warnings: Death of major character…sort of…ish.
Summary: Jack loved to fly.
Beta: The inimitable annejackdanny.
A/N: Starts out Angsty and then goes kinda…silly.
P4X-797: 07.50 SGC time
Jack loved to fly.
But he’d never thought that his first love, over nearly his whole life, would finally bring him to this. Despite the drama unfolding around him, despite his quick-silver brain plotting the strategies and outcomes there was a small part of him that had the compulsion to open the box of memories and air them out one last time. Perhaps what they said was true; you really did see your whole life flash before your eyes…
1959: Minneapolis, Minnesota.
From the very first moment he saw the soaring grace of the Blue Angels at the Minneapolis Air Show he knew what he wanted to do. His little seven year old heart stopped beating for a moment as the roar of the afterburners filled his ears. His body thrummed with excitement at the visceral effect of the F11 F1 Tigers’ powerful jet engines as they flew overhead. Sitting on his father’s shoulders, stretching his hands high above his head, he thrilled as each manoeuvre seemed to bring them within the reach of his yearning fingertips. The very air around him seemed charged as they streaked across the sky, weaving and falling and rolling with ease and grace. His Dad let him queue for nearly an hour to shake the hand of the pilots and have his photograph taken with them. They were tall and strong, and little Jonny knew he wanted to be like them when he became a man. He went to bed that night with the sonic boom ringing in his ears, and the heavy beat of longing for clear skies and a sleek craft made his bones ache with anticipation for the future.
1966: August H. Andreson High School, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
He worked hard in school with only one purpose; acceptance into the Academy. He’d spent long hours in the library researching and reviewing all the requirements. He knew the grades he’d need inside out; the subjects he should drop, the ones he should take, no matter how hard he found the study. The dog-eared picture of his 7 year old self, prominently displayed on the desk in his bedroom, was all the incentive he needed. He dropped football (much to Coach Morton’s disgust – “You’re good enough for a scholarship, O’Neill, you’d maybe even make it to the big time.”) and relegated his beloved hockey to just a knock about with friends. He couldn’t risk an injury that would damage his lengthening teenage bones; that would keep him out of the cockpit of a jet and relegate him to a life stuck on the ground, moving as slowly as everyone else.
1972: Air Force Academy, El Paso County, Colorado Springs.
The first time Jack slid into the cockpit of an F-16 fighter he got hard so fast he thought he’d pass out from all his blood flowing south. Everything he’d done for the last thirteen years had led him to this seat and he was king of the world. He’d aced flight school with his innate ability to out-think and out-fly anyone else in the sky. Even his instructors were quietly in awe of his fearlessness, tempered with just enough restraint to prevent him from being reckless. He was a charming rogue who trod a fine line between conformity and insubordination. His flight instructors knew – although he was probably the best pilot of the decade, if not his generation – that the likelihood of him being allowed to fly long-term was slim. His cool detachment under fire and his chameleon-like switches in demeanour had him pegged for Special Operations. They hoped for his sake the powers that be would allow him to be a pilot for a little while longer, but they weren’t holding their breath.
After that first flight Jack went straight from the airfield to the nearest bar, intent on burying himself balls deep in the prettiest girl he could find. Her name was Louise and he gave her the ride of her life, bringing her to a screaming orgasm with clever fingers and an impressive erection. He did it all without her ever knowing he was actually fantasising about the guy that had been sitting next to her at the bar.
He’d learned early on that following his inclinations would bar him from flying the fast jets he loved. He thought it was a fair trade off but sometimes the ache for a hard body and a stiff cock in his ass made him sad for lost chances. Soon though, the hurly burly of life as a fighter pilot took him all over the world; fighting, and flying, and fucking.
Until one day an officer asked him a question that would change his life.
1984 – 1995: Location – Classified.
Special ops made Jack hate planes. Not flying them, because nothing could ever replace the rush of climbing at 50,000 feet per second; undertaking turns, pulling maximum g’s and fighting your body’s natural instinct to shut down; making split second decisions while travelling at 1000 miles an hour. No, it was the actual planes Jack hated; the transports with their uncomfortable, noisy interiors, and the promise of danger and possible death at the end of the flight. They meant the cold, adrenaline pumping rush of parachuting over enemy territory with no guarantees about what lay waiting for him below. They meant missing his kid’s birthday even though he’d promised he’d be there this year. They meant screaming, and stinking, and wishing he was dead already, in the confines of a hot, fetid hole in the middle of Iraq.
They meant coming home to a family that hardly knew him and didn’t understand what he’d become.
When his eight-year-old kid was gone, killed by Jack’s own stupidity and carelessness, even flying couldn’t take away the pain. The thing he’d lived for was just an unwelcome distraction. So in lieu of a bullet to the brain he took the offer of a suicide mission; one last flight into the unknown. Stepping through the Stargate was a rush, that was for sure; as close as you could get to flying without being in control. It was a one way ticket to oblivion that Jack was only too willing to take.
Only it wasn’t to be.
A sneezing, four-eyed geek hacked away at the layers of guilt and self-loathing Jack had carefully crafted around his heart, and made him look once again at the part of himself that craved the touch of another man on his body… his heart… his soul.
So he found himself here, seven years later. Seven years of flying without wings; hurtling around the Galaxy as nothing more than molecules, through a fucking wormhole (the physics of which he didn’t need or want to understand). He flew aircraft and spacecraft that his seven year old self could’ve never imagined in his wildest dreams. He knew fear and joy and excitement in equal measure and for the first time in a long while, he was happy and fulfilled both in his work and at home.
7.30: SGC time.
They stepped out of the gate onto a plateau that soared 10,000 feet above the surrounding planet surface and Jack thought that this was how the birds must feel. He walked to the edge and looked down, feeling the hot rush of adrenalin coursing through his body, as he stood above the straight sheer drop of the cliff face. He relished the curl of arousal that set up a dull ache in his balls and made him half-hard. Daniel called him back, pale faced and angry; fighting his own fear of heights alongside an overactive imagination. Where Jack could see himself flying like an eagle, Daniel just saw him crushed and bloody, thousands of feet below. After six years as secret lovers – they had fallen into bed the first night back from Abydos, consumed by a year of unrequited passion for each other, and then found that love again after Daniel’s descension; just like Kelowna had never happened – it was still difficult not to stride across the flat surface of the pinnacle and take his frightened lover in his arms; to offer comfort and to laugh at his dramatic fears.
But there wasn’t time to even make his usual acerbic comments. The Death Glider appeared over the lip of the cliff and hung like a raptor; silent and deadly. Teal’c was the first to react, raising his staff weapon and firing a deadly blast into the cockpit. The pilot got off one shot, just one, and they all dropped to the dusty ground, exposed and vulnerable in the empty open space. A second volley from the Jaffa warrior’s weapon had the hapless craft spinning off into the open sky and then plummeting down to certain destruction.
Jack crawled to his knees, only half listening to the conversation between Sam and Teal’c about why the glider was there and if there might be any more waiting in hiding. He was about to call an order for a sit-rep when the terrifying sight of a familiar but motionless body, over by the edge of the cliff, made his heart turn to ice in his chest. Everything stopped as all Jack’s senses zeroed onto the rib cage of the fallen man. The rapid realisation that it wasn’t moving pushed him to his feet and over to Daniel’s side.
As soon as he reached him Jack knew it was too late. An inhuman moan of distress boiled out of him, echoed around the barren plain and out into the deep blue of the sky beyond. Jack gathered Daniel’s ruined body to his chest and screamed his rage to the wind. The blast, that one single blast, had glanced off the surface of the rock and taken the back of Daniel’s skull with it. His beautiful brilliant brain lay in ruins over the featureless ground, his crystal blue eyes that had danced with passion and anger and love – oh, such love – were now dull and empty.
7.39: SGC time
Jack growled at Sam to ‘back off’, as she tried to get him to lay Daniel’s body on the ground so she could make sure. But there was nothing to make sure of. Jack knew what death looked like; he’d seen it a hundred times, but only twice wearing the face of someone he loved more than life itself. A cold calm settled over him as he looked up into Teal’c’s knowing brown eyes. The unspoken request was heard and understood and the Jaffa pulled Carter away from the two men on the ground with a gentle insistence. Jack’s rational mind could hear her cries of distress but his broken heart couldn’t find the will to care.
He knew he had to wait; wait for Oma. Surely she wouldn’t leave her favorite child to die in this godforsaken place. Despite his expulsion from the ascended plane, Jack was sure that the being had a plan for Daniel; the Universe couldn’t survive without his uniqueness in it. The minutes ticked by, only marked by the ever-slowing drip, drip of Daniel’s life blood as it mingled with the dust of the windswept plateau; the dry dust leeching away any hope Jack had of being left with nothing but a pile of empty clothes and the knowledge that Daniel wasn’t really gone; that he was just…elsewhere.
“Where are you, you fucking glowy bitch,” he screamed to the wind as rage began to boil in his belly. “Come and do your fucking job. I want you to…” His voice broke as the pain of loss began to unravel his anger and turn it to despair. “…I’m begging you to take him. I won’t ask for him to come back again. You can have him. Just don’t make me live in a Universe without him in it.”
No glowing being appeared through the quiescent Gate; no hope from beyond their dimension. Only the steady cooling of the body in his arms. The silence, broken by muted sobs from Sam, hung heavy in the air around them.
With a sudden quiet serenity Jack knew, beyond all certainty, what he had to do. Still holding his love in his arms he surged to his feet, his grip around Daniel’s shoulders and waist firm and immovable. But for the gory ruin of Daniel’s head and the grotesque way it flopped onto Jack’s shoulder they could have been dancing. Jack looked across the twenty or so feet towards the surviving members of his team and gave a sweet, sad smile.
I love you, but I loved him more. It was an honor to serve with you. Please forgive me but there’s no other way.
The words were not spoken aloud, but the message flew from his eyes to theirs and with the reaching of the big warrior’s hand towards him and Sam’s heartrending cry of “NO!” he knew it had been received. With one long backward step taking him over the lip of the cliff, Jack and his precious Daniel relinquished the solid ground for the freedom of the air.
Jack loved to fly.
Although the air around him tried to rip his lover from his arms, he refused to let him go as they reached terminal velocity. Jack calculated, with the kind of light-speed thinking his fellow pilots were always in awe of, that at 120 mph it would take them nearly 60 seconds to reach the ground. He felt no fear, only the falling away of any bonds to his physical life. His reason for being was gone, now he wanted to be gone too. He’d always wondered how it would be to fly with the birds, unencumbered by 27,000 pounds of metal; to move through the air without the constant roar of a jet engine.
Now he knew.
The wind was cruel and cold, the whistling of the air moving past, and through, and over and around them the only sound. Jack’s internal clock told him the ground wasn’t far away now and he dug his fingers through the soft cotton of Daniel’s tee shirt into his cooling flesh and wound his legs tighter around his limp frame, determined they would hit together. He felt his extremities growing numb with cold and he closed his eyes against the stabbing ache of the rushing air. “Not long now, baby. Soon be over,” he crooned knowing that, even if Daniel could hear him above the howling wind, his beautiful man, his heart, his life, would never answer him again. The world around him turned white and Jack realized his only regret was not telling Daniel he loved him more often.
“Come on, Jack. No time for maudlin thoughts.”
“Well who else have you jumped off a cliff with lately?”
“Are we dead…Well that is I know you’re dead, but…am I?
“Well I suppose in some respects we are. Although the term ‘living’ could still be loosely…”
“Jack, open your eyes.”
“I’m not falling anymore.”
“So…where are we… What are we…?”
“I think you would call us ‘glowy squiddie things’”
“Wow, now that I didn’t see coming. So what, you ascended me?”
“No, actually lover, I think you helped me ascend.”
“Well, go me!”
“You did good, Jack. You finally released your burdens.”
“I just knew I couldn’t be there without you.”
“I know, babe. And now we never have to be without each other ever again.”
“Yes, Jack. It really is.”
“Erm… Daniel. Now we are glowy squiddie things can we…can we still make love.”
“Anything you can think of to do, we can do as long as we stick to the non-interference clause.”
“Oh yeah, that…But anything sexual would be alright, huh? So I could fly around, doing anything to you that I can think of?”
“Yes, in fact…Mmmmph, Jack…hmmm…oh yeah…keep thinking lover…guh…”
Jack loved to fly.