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Stargate: SG-1
1) Ow, jesusfuck, ow. The ending of this story? Drove *me* to drink. So--fair warning. 2. Thank you to [livejournal.com profile] synecdochic for listening to me babble about mini!Jack and for midwifing this story. 3) The title comes from the Dresden Doll's song, Half Jack, which is owned by the mini!Jack who lives in my head as his theme song. Great band, great song, one of these days I will get around to vidding it. PG-13.
"He doesn't have anywhere else to be."


1.

When he first goes off to high school, it's like a vacation. He has most of the kids in love and the teachers in hate with him within a week.

It's a fun break, but the novelty factor wears off fast. He drops out after a month; he's bored out of his skull, and the only redeeming factor is that his classmates are hot and that's not much of one. He's still in his 50's, they're children, and he's not a pedophile.

He stays in town. He doesn't have anywhere else to be.



2.

He sees SGC personnel around town all the time. They stand out, geeks and soldiers alike, no matter how casually they're dressed. You can see it in their eyes, the culture shock. The shrinks had taken a long time to figure that one out--they'd tried to blame it all on the stress. Maybe they wouldn't ever have clued if Daniel hadn't realised it after throwing up on the display case of the deli he'd stopped by for dinner--they'd been delayed on a mission on a planet in the midst of a ten-year drought and had gone hungry waiting for Carter to fix the DHD and get them home. They had plenty of food in their packs, of course, but not one of them had been able to eat any of it; they gave most of their rations to the gaunt, emaciated people of the village.

He never sees SG-1 around, though. Little surprise there.

It's probably best. The one time he sees Daniel at the store, he feels his fists clenching and only barely stops himself decking Daniel. He forces himself to breathe, unclench his hands, and turn the other way--which lands him in the haircare aisle of the pharmacy. He buys bleach and blue dye while he's there; he hadn't been planning on dying his hair, but it will go well with his still healing piercing.



3.


It takes another year before he sees any of SG-1 again; He's waiting tables at the restaurant (he doesn't need the money but he likes the people-watching), when Sam comes in with a tall, sandy-haired man--police, Jack can see it in the lines of his posture, the cut of his clothes. He's in love with her.

Sam shows no spark of recognition, not even a puzzled look pondering his familiarity when he comes up to greet them. He pulls his collar up over the wings of the tattoo on his neck and seats them in Janice's section (she's their worst waiter). The next day he starts filling out the paperwork. He doesn't have anywhere to go, but he has no reason to stay, either.

He's forgotten, no record of who he actually is anywhere--his choice, he asked not to be reported properly, he asked to be buried; now the people who buried him have forgotten too, and there's no one left at all who knows Jack Carter wasn't born in 1988, not even the bureaucrats.



4.

He goes to Egypt and breathes in the sand and heat and lets the wind scour his soul. Sand gets in his eyebrow piercing, itching like hell, even though he never takes it out, and he can taste pennies every time he opens his mouth--his tongue piercing is only barely healed, he got it just before he left the States.

He speaks Arabic the whole time, lapsing into English only when forced to deal with the tourists.

After two months, wandering digs as a worker, he can almost see what Daniel loves so much about the desert. It's something like peaceful. But two months is enough, because there's a hole in his chest and it aches every time the desert wind shifts.



5.

He wanders the far East a bit. India reminds him too much of M29-X34, a place they'd spent a week imprisoned before SG-5 came through for them; Hong Kong is depressing, so much poverty if you just bother to look; Tokyo is fun, they have the best toys, but all he can think of is Sam's lab and her myriad objects of study and experimentation, so he flies back to LA, and connects straight through to the next flight to New York.

His neck is killing him when he steps out of La Guardia, but New York is balm on his soul, cold and crisp, and no one gives a shit about him.

He finds himself a cheap apartment, but not too cheap. He doesn't want cops patrolling anywhere near him--his DNA is wacky and there's no sense inviting trouble. He gets another job waiting tables, and he blends in, just another teenager trying to make it in the Big Apple. For two years, he gives his tips to the local children's trauma ward.



6.

The artist asks him, "Nice tribal work. Who designed it?" when he gets the tattoo on his hip touched up.

"I did," is all Jack says and doesn't bother to correct him. It's not tribal at all--it's the Abydosian symbol for 'home' entwined carefully with Earth's point of origin, in brown, but if you don't know either, it's an easy mistake to make.

His hip is still aching when he breaks into O'Neill's house down in DC. He nurses a beers and settles in to watch a game. O'Neill has a pretty swank A/V system and a damn comfortable couch, but he still wishes he were sitting in a hard uncomfortable seat down in Wrigley Field.

The Cubs are up by three when O'Neill gets home and calls out for Daniel, noticing only that someone else is in the house--who else would come in and make himself at home?--until Jack waves at him. "Hi, honey. Miss me?"

O'Neill recognises him immediately, sees his old reflection through the blue hair, piercings, and tattoos, and even body shape. Jack's in better shape than O'Neill ever was at 19; stronger, keener, sharper.

"What do you want, Carter?"



7.

Jack had thought he wanted back in. The General had gone on to play politics and SG-1 broken up completely. He'd thought he could deal with the program again; there's nothing else for him, after all. He has no family, no Sara and Charlie, no Daniel, they're all O'Neill's. All he has are memories and the Stargate.

Then he sees Sam in the base gym. She still doesn't recognise him. Well, O'Neill really is enough of an asshole to not have warned anyone.

She has no idea why this new, absurdly young, recruit has decided to take not just a swing, but a practiced, fluid attack that no one so young should be capable of. She responds well enough in kind, but she's in her late 40s and a decade of Stargate service, harsher than any other kind of tour and harshest of all on SG-1, has left its marks. There are bruises already blooming and her shoulder is probably killing her by the time she manages to get the breath to ask what the fuck this is about.

He lets her go and mutters, almost entirely for effect, "For cryin' out loud..." and walks off.

"It's about the last five years, Sam, and the fact that I've spent them alone."



8.

He's only unofficially reprimanded for beating the shit out of Colonel Carter--no one wants to explain to the higher-ups exactly why Jack has a grudge. He stands there, listens to Landry's angry, unofficial lecture, and says nothing. He might've once. He doesn't give a shit anymore.

They ship him off to Atlantis on the next Daedalus trip. His gene is more valuable there and he is too much of an authority problem and bad example to keep around the SGC.

Atlantis loves him. He wants to throw up every time they ask him to talk to her, because he can feel her sliding into the hole in his chest, warm and female and soft, and when he gets up from the chair, losing it, it's like salt and acid in his wounds. Daniel's right there next to McKay, reading the Ancient off easily, gabbling excitedly. Not even registering Jack's presence.

Sheppard doesn't ask why he wears long sleeves even in the middle of the muggy, humid Atlantean summer, doesn't reprimand him for his suicidal behaviour in the field. Jack can see the edges around his eyes; Sheppard gets it, enough, anyway.

He's the xerox copy, and he'll never be anything more.
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