A sympathetic man understands the pain in another's words. An empathetic man feels the pain in another's heart.

So where does that leave me?


Daniel and I have been through a lot together over the last several years. He's the only one I've ever completely opened up to about Charlie, Sarah, my time in Iraq, and a number of other things so painful that I bury them so deep within myself that even I don't realize they're there without searching.

From the moment I met him, Daniel has had a way of drawing my secrets to the surface. I can see what makes him so good at his job. He digs and digs to uncover the tiny pieces of the mysteries from the past and reassembles them in order to view the whole picture, all the while making sure to handle everything with the utmost care to prevent them from shattering even further. I would never have thought it possible, but his method works for me. Before I even realize what's happening, I'm babbling non-stop about anything and everything. The funniest thing is...I enjoy it.

I could see his infectious smile and the joy radiating from his eyes as I retold some silly story about how I had been so tongue-tied while trying to propose to Sarah that she had finally given up waiting and proposed to me, learning - unsuccessfully - to change Charlie's diaper for the first time, or cheering my son on as he hit his first home-run in little league. 

I could also see the tears threatening to overflow from those sad blue eyes as I recounted every last detail from Charlie's funeral. The tiny white coffin, the baseball glove I had snuck in with him at the last minute, the words that had been meant to be reassuring as well-wishers told me he was in a much better place, when I knew that the only place for a child to be was with his parents.

Don't get me wrong. The relationship hasn't always been one-sided, Daniel giving and me taking. I was there for him in a more physical sense. I helped retrieve him from the Touched, I reasoned with him when he wanted to stay on Earnest's planet, refused to believe he was dead on Nem's planet, and held him as he went through the pains of sarcophagus withdrawal.

It wasn't until the virtual reality world on the Gamekeeper's planet that I realized how little of Daniel's own past he’d shared with me. I vowed then and there to change that. As soon as we were able to leave the base, I took him back to my place and we talked. All I ever knew about his parents was what I read in his file: 'Dr. Jackson was orphaned at age eight'. I would never have imagined that they had died in such a horrible way, or that an eight-year-old Daniel had been witness to it all. I lent a sympathetic ear as he told me about his grandfather not adopting him, yet refusing to sign the papers to allow anyone else to, being shuffled from foster home to foster home, and finally escaping into college life at the ripe old age of 15.

I swore it wouldn't happen, but he soon changed the subject to my experience on the Gamekeeper's planet. As I told him about my good friend, John's, dying request for me to take care of his wife, Barbara, I could see in his eyes that he was feeling the loss as deeply as I was.

Other than his first night back from Abydos, when I encouraged him to talk about Sha're, this was the only thing he had ever really shared with me. It's the only thing he's shared since.

I know our friendship has changed over the years. We've slowly drifted apart as our relationship has become strained. One minute we're fine, but the next we're arguing, shouting at each other at the top of our lungs. We no longer seek each other out when one of us is in need of comfort, but I’ve always thought the foundation of our friendship was solid. I even told him that once. What did I do to prove this?

'Daniel, shut up.'

The words echo in my head.

'Daniel, shut up.'

I saw the pain in his eyes. The words had hit him harder than any physical blow ever could.

Even after Alar had made the comment about Teal'c being 'not like us', I was loath to admit Daniel had been right. I wanted the technology Euronda had to offer and I didn't want the team conscience pointing out how extremely wrong the whole situation was. 

Daniel's hurting now. He understands what both sides lost when the deal with Euronda fell through. We lost so much potential technology and they lost so many lives. 

Most of all, he's hurting because of what I said.

'Daniel, shut up.'

I did my duty - when did I start thinking of it as a 'duty' - and went to Daniel's office to talk to him about the mission that had failed on so many levels. He apologized for the way he went about voicing his concerns and I apologized for not listening to him.

We sat in awkward silence for a few minutes. I was afraid Daniel would begin to dig, trying to get me to open up to him, but I was even more afraid of him opening up to me.

I was actually relieved when he hinted for me to leave by indicating the pile of work on his desk awaiting his attention. I left him to his work without giving it a second thought.

Three days had passed before the reaction even registered with my conscious mind.

I ran away from Daniel.

God! Why? Has our friendship deteriorated that much?

I used my newfound insight to review the last several years, but was unable to pinpoint any event that had caused the change in attitude. I could feel the familiar ache of loss settled around my heart and I knew it was mirroring Daniel's own.

The most disturbing thing, however, is the fact that, even though I now know there's a problem, I'm unable - or perhaps unwilling - to do anything about it.


A sympathetic man understands the pain in another's words. An empathetic man feels the pain in another's heart.

So where does that leave me?

Just plain pathetic.

The End