Ulysses, Bound

Jack is looking tired today. A warrior should not be reduced to sitting behind a desk, tethered by red tape, weighed down with paper.

Teal'c recalls a poem he wishes he could read aloud to Jack, sharing the beauty of the truth encompassed in the words, "How dull it is to pause, to make an end, To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!"

He suspects Jack would not allow him to get past the first line before he began to fidget, uncomfortable and bored.

He murmurs the poem under his breath, ignoring the startled glances from those he passes, and when he gets to "I cannot rest from travel", he joins Jack at the canteen table and stops talking.

"Hey, Teal'c." Jack summons a smile, scrubbing his hand over his silvered hair. "I'd love to stay and chat, but I've got a budget meeting in five with some assholes from D.C. Kill me now, will you?"

Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

Teal'c inclines his head. "If you wish it."

"That was a joke, Teal'c," Jack says hastily. "I'll survive it. They might not, if they give me grief about excess use of toilet paper, again, for crying out loud."

I know it was a joke, old friend. I know. Just as I know part of you is glad you're no longer fighting, because you were slowing, wearying. And if I thought you truly wanted the coup de grace, I would deliver it, or go out with you on some final mission, spending our lives gloriously, so that they would sing tales of us, for years to come, around the fires, to children before they sleep.

Oh, we could die well!

But you would see that as cowardice, I think. You tried it once and you hate yourself for it. This, I know.

So I will smile as you rise, your meal half-eaten, your hands shaking from too much coffee, too little sleep, and I will give you what you want to hear from me, be the man you think you know.

"Indeed," Teal'c says gravely and draws O'Neill's untouched, melting ice cream toward him and begins to eat.

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