Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Genre: Gen, Character Study. Humor? Angst? A little of each? Not sure.
Word Count: 948
Characters: Jack, mini!Jack
Season/Spoilers: "Fragile Balance" in particular, Season 10 in general
Warnings: Beta? What is this "beta" of which you speak?
My contribution to Fig's Jack Alpha-Bits challenge. O is for Old Age. I left this until the very last minute, so I have no idea if it's any good, and I'm sure it could have really used a beta to bang commas into place. All the same, I rather like it. Dedicated to my sister-in-law Curly, who suggested I watch "Fragile Balance" for inspiration when I said I couldn't think of anything Jack-centric to write.
The question is accompanied by footsteps on the lake's pebbly shore, and Jack reflects that if his mind hadn't been a million miles away, he would have heard someone approaching sooner. He looks up and sighs, a sound halfway between annoyance and resignation. He really could have lived the rest of his life quite happily without ever again seeing the young man coming toward him, but the universe has been at pains before now to make it clear that his luck just isn't that good.
"I thought we agreed not to keep in touch," he grouses.
"Hey, it's not like I planned this," the clone replies. "You're not the only one with a holiday weekend to kill. You're also not the only one who caught that huge bass here back in '82."
"Okay," the younger man concedes with a roll of the eyes, "maybe you are the only one who actually did that, but I remember catching that thing as well as you do. Better, probably," he adds with the ghost of a smirk.
Jack does not deign to reply, choosing instead to glower some more, though it doesn't seem to be having a the desired affect: the younger version of himself drops a cooler next to Jack's and starts unfolding an impressively battered camp chair. Jack wonders how his clone has managed to break the chair in so thoroughly given that the guy has only existed for going on four years. Teenagers must have more time to go fishing than two-star generals. Jack thinks he might be a little bit jealous.
"So is anything biting?" the clone asks again.
"No," Jack's reply is loaded with annoyance, and not because of the derth of fish.
"Well that was never really the point, anyway, was it?"
"The point," Jack says dryly, "was to have some time and space to myself for a few days."
"Hey, nobody's making you stay," the clone shrugs as he starts to unpack his rod and line. "There's a whole lot of lake, if you want to go see if the bass are biting somewhere else."
"I'm not moving because a copy of myself decided to fish here today."
"My sentiments exactly." The clone pops a can of Coke as if to punctuate the statement.
Jack scowls. "And what do you mean you remember catching that bass better than I do? I was the one who was actually there."
"Maybe so." The clone pauses in the process of assembling his fishing rod to tap his temple, grinning. "But my memory hasn't started succumbing to the ravages of time, yet."
"Hey, no part of me is succumbing to anything any time soon, thank you," Jack snaps.
"Whatever you say," the clone laughs. "Far be it from me to argue with a man of such advanced years." He casts his line and sinks into his camp chair without any of the knee-popping or stiffness that Jack usually has to deal with. Okay, so maybe Jack's more than a little bit jealous.
They sit in silence for a good long while, eyes on the still surface of the lake. Jack finishes his beer and pulls a new one from the cooler. He's taking a long, moody pull on it when he catches sight of the clone's face; the guy is staring at Jack's beer with an unguarded look of reverent longing. When he notices Jack's eyes on him, he snaps his attention back to the lake, face blank. He takes a disconsolate sip of his Coke. Jack tries to relish the younger man's discomfort, but after a long moment he sighs and pulls the last beer from the cooler and shoves it wordlessly at the clone without looking at him.
"Thanks." The word is mumbled, hardly loud enough to register over the soft sounds of the water, but the grudging gratitude in it is clearly audible. Jack takes another drink of his own beer.
"You know," Jack offers after another long pause, "Daniel tried to convince me once that having you running around was a sort of immortality because my memories and ideas and what-have-you would survive me, at least for a good thirty years."
"You tell him that's a load of crap?" the clone asks.
"Yeah, pretty much," replies Jack, and takes another swig. He lets another several minutes go by in silence before saying, "Hey, tell me something."
"When Charlie turned six, what kind of cake did we have at the party? I can't remember."
The clone freezes, face carefully neutral, and studies Jack for a minute before replying. "Yellow. Sara made yellow cake. Chocolate frosting." When Jack simply nods and does not reply, he adds, "Her parents got him a wiffleball set. After all the party guests left, you and Charlie played with it until Sara made you stop because it was way past his bedtime." No one else would notice the conscious effort that goes into saying "you" instead of "I" but Jack does. The clone drops his eyes to his lap, then smiles suddenly. "That punk Henderson kid from across the street ate too much cake and had to go home sick halfway through the party."
"That I remember," says Jack, matching the clone grin for grin.
The clone's smile becomes more serious, and he asks, "Anything else you want to know?"
"No," Jack shakes his head, and then: "Thanks."
"Sure thing. Thanks for the beer."
"No problem," Jack replies, and puts on a smile that is faintly smug. "I guess there are some advantages to old age."
The clone downs the last of his beer, and toasts him with the empty bottle. "Touché."