author: claira
rating: pg
summary: jack. sam/jack undertones.
a/n: anna, julie and allie.
disclaimer: i do not own

[ s y n o n y m o u s ]

When he was five, it was the creak of his cupboard door. His next-door neighbor, who was eleven and therefore knew everything, told him that monsters lived in dark places and would come out at night. Jack would watch the handle of the door until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore.

When he was fifteen, it was the flick of the light switch in his room at midnight, just as he was climbing out his window to go to the party his Dad had forbidden he attend.

When he was twenty-seven, it was the desperate sobbing of a woman over the telephone as she tried to tell him that her fiancé - one of his best friends - had been killed in friendly fire overseas.

When he was a P.O.W. in Iraq, it was the stride of a certain man approaching his cell.

For three years, the ricochet of a single gunshot was enough to make him break into a cold sweat.

All had once been tantamount to some level of fear – fear that slipped down his spine with icy fingers when he remembered things he spent his life trying to forget. Fear that woke him up in the dark hours of the morning with sweat crawling over his body and the sheets tangled like ropes around his legs.

Now it was the sound of something moving quickly through air - soft, sibilant and synonymous for pain and bright light.

It turned his insides out at odd moments; a baseball flying past him at the park, steam escaping the urn in the commissary, even -

“You forgot your pen, sir.”

Light flashed off the metal cap and the ballpoint flying toward him suddenly morphed into something much sharper.

He tensed automatically, waiting for the thud and explosion of pain - waiting for warm liquid to seep through his clothes, drip down his legs and onto the floor. Soon there would be a faint ‘hiss’ as another knife flew toward him.

The most he’d ever heard in a row was six.

He barely felt the pen hit his chest. He opened his eyes when it clattered onto the floor.

“Sir?” It was Carter, not Ba'al, moving towards him.

“Just a cramp,” he said, relaxing. “I’m fine.”

She stopped and her eyes skittered from him to the pen. She leant over and picked it up, flicking it around her fingers in an intricate pattern.

He saw the shadows under her eyes and knew he wasn’t the only one having trouble sleeping.

He knew she blamed herself, but he couldn’t tell her that somehow the fact that she’d asked him to do it made it easier to bear.

She didn’t throw the pen again; she put it in his hand and took a quick step backwards.

“See you in the briefing, sir,” she said quietly, the smile not quite reaching her eyes.

He studied the pen in his hand.



“Do you still know how to use one of these?”

She blinked, and then she laughed. It was warm and real, and it followed him down the corridor as he walked away.

It blocked out every other sound, for a while.

[ b a c k ]