In Or Out
by s.a.

Daniel thinks too much. It's gotten him where he is today, and led him to completely screw up his life. Thinking too much has saved his ass, and the collective asses of SG1 and the SGC, but it's also been the cause of more sleepless nights in his life than any one person should suffer.

Right now he's thinking about his coffee. He's had it every way imaginable, from sludge to Caribbean-blend French press, but most days he just has it black in a large mug. He makes it stronger than what most people on his floor like, but it's okay because it means they generally won't drink his coffee. It's dark, strong, and bitter, and Daniel would like to think he's like his coffee, except it's very untrue.

Daniel's always been apart from others, first because he traveled so much as a kid, and then because he found the things in his own head far more interesting that what came out of the mouths of others. When he actually had to go to school, he was the only kid reading a book at recess. He'd watch the others run around, screaming and laughing, and feel like he was missing something, but he didn't know what. He liked his books just as well.

Later, writing came easily because he'd been around adults all of his young life and read so much that he ended up writing the way he spoke. He loved listening to adults talk because he could see the words, how they interlocked and formed sentences and paragraphs. His teachers were always pleased with what he turned in. Usually his papers were what saved him in class, because he only talked when he was called on. Of course, once he was asked to speak, he wouldn't shut up, so his teachers tended to only ask him for his thoughts when the rest of the class was completely unresponsive. In college, his roommates were jealous because he could write a paper on the fly without looking it over, turn it in, and get a good grade.

Even in university he didn't come out of his own headspace very often. He took to writing journals, long stream-of-consciousness paragraphs that filled notebooks. He never looked at them again, just shoved them in a box under his bed. He moved off-campus into an apartment as soon as he could, papers and books sprawled over the tiny studio with the errant coffee-stained paper cup strewn in between. For someone so hermitish, he never stopped moving, doing something. He finished college early because he convinced the administration to credit him for all the classes he'd audited. He got his first masters half a year out of undergrad because all he did for six months was research and write.

After everything fell apart, slowly came back together, and was torn apart again, Daniel found himself living out of an office that had become more of a home to him than the nice apartment across town, far from the base. He finally had something to keep him busy to the point of exhaustion, and he would climb onto the cot in his office or the bed at his apartment, collapsing into unconsciousness with a sigh.

Nights when he couldn't sleep, he would stare at the ceiling, his hand splayed across his belly, and think of Shaur'i and what they had. Sometimes he'd go with Jack to a bar if he'd started to annoyingly point out how little Daniel went out, or SG-1 would go to dinner and make comfortable, inane conversation, bantering over steaks and laughing at a joke Teal'c would make. Daniel thought this might be what happy was, and then went on a mind-loop wondering exactly how fucked up he must be if he didn't know what happy felt like.

He knew he was pretty close to it when Jack would hide his coffeemaker and steal his keys, pocket his glasses and demand that Daniel take him out for cheesesteak sandwiches. After dinner when Jack drove them to his house because he wanted beer, complaining how Daniel only had crappy beer (though Daniel didn't have the heart to tell him he started stocking Jack's favorite brand months ago), Daniel couldn't leave because, duh, he'd been drinking and it's really late anyway, eleven-thirty at night. Daniel, of course, couldn't use the spare room because there's stuff in there, so Daniel could just share his bed as long as he doesn't kick.

Daniel kicks, and Jack knew that, but they do this anyway because Daniel's been invited to play at recess and he doesn't ever want to say no.


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