and then let me walk away
by not jenny

I. your clothes smelled like grass and your hair tasted just like lemons

It was summer, then, and her skin was three sizes too small for her body. He smelled like freshly cut grass, and, when they kissed, she could taste beer and lemonade on his tongue. The air was heavy. She couldn't breathe.

He was alive, gloriously so, and Cassie insisted that he spend the day with them. So they grilled hamburgers and sat in the sun watching for messages in the clouds. The smell of burning charcoal lingered in the air as day faded into dusk. A lightning bug landed on Janet's arm.

Everything moved in slow motion. Touch. Taste. Everything floating underwater, and she knew this was wrong, even as she traced the line of his jaw with her tongue, she knew this was something that couldn't be. The sound of Cassie's Gameboy echoed in her ears. His sighs were harsh and sandpaper rough against her skin.

It only happened the one time, but all the Listerine in the world couldn't erase his taste from her mouth.


II. you tasted so sour i had to wash you down with gin

He circles between life and death more times than the Phoenix.

(And, if he were here, he would correct her on that. Quote some obscure source, gently pointing out that, in fact, the Phoenix died and was reborn infinite times in the span of a single heartbeat. She can hear him, all intense excitement and ancient tongues, she can still taste his words in her mouth.)

They sit in the mess, drinking cold coffee. Not speaking.

Every time he dies, it gets a little bit harder. A little bit easier. Every time he dies, it seems a little less real. Like the klaxons will go off, and he'll be heading through the Stargate any moment, like they'll all wake up in the morning to discover this was just a dream.

Sam pushes her jello around. Stands up. Soon, Janet is alone at the table.


III. i had to go home after that so i cleared my breath with mints

She wasn't drunk. Neither was he.

(Now, of course, she wishes she had been. That there could be a big black hole where her memories of that evening now reside. Too much whiskey where his taste lingers in her mouth.)

The sky didn't fall. The ground didn't open.

Instead, his hands brushed the side of her face, and his mouth traced her ear. He whispered the secrets of the universe into her mouth, all harsh consonants and fluid vowels. He told her everything and nothing, and she trembled and shuddered under the enormity of it all.

Later, the next morning, it was already a memory. So, no, they weren't as drunk as they ought to have been. And then he died, and his fingers continued to caress her skin.


IV. you kissed me and then let me walk away

It's not that she feels left out, exactly, or that they purposely exclude her from their mourning. But she does. And they do, however unintentionally, separate themselves from the rest of the SGC. Like their grief is somehow superior because he was their teammate. Because he was somehow theirs alone.

(Only he wasn't, not really. Because his hands stroked her arm, one night as the fireflies began to flicker. Because she can still taste him, lying in bed, she can still feel him under her tongue. And those bits of him will always belong to her. His mouth and his fingers, one summer evening, under the stars.)

So they walk around like shadows. All of them. And Janet finds herself pushed to the periphery once more. She does her job well, and no one notices her hands shaking. Summer fades into autumn. The leaves fall. Winter starts early, and she finds herself anxious for the new year.


V. you tasted so sour and i am so bitter

It ends silently, exactly one year from the day they sat in her yard, swallowing the stars. One moment he is gone, dead, and the next, he's lying in her infirmary. She runs countless tests, MRIs and CT scans and DNA analyses, and they all point to the inevitable conclusion that Daniel Jackson is back from beyond the grave. And undoubtedly alive. She listens to him breathe for a moment, then returns to her work.

Her fingers itch.

Sam and Jack fill the silence with grandiose tales of their latest missions, while Teal'c stands to the side in silence. Daniel smiles. Janet can hear them laughing as she heads for her office, and she allows herself a moment of jealousy at their easy camaraderie before starting on her report.

"Dr. Daniel Jackson, pronounced dead on 17 July..."

She reaches for the phone to tell Cassie the good news. In the other room, the newly reunited members of SG-1 are still catching up, though she thinks she can detect Daniel's voice beginning to fade. When she and her squealing daughter hang up forty minutes later, she decides to clear the infirmary for the night. To give Daniel a chance to sleep.

She reaches the edge of his bed, and his fingers reach for the hem of her labcoat. She can still taste him, bitter and tart, on her tongue.

She sits and watches him sleep.


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