Slash: Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17
Category: Angst.  Drama.  First Time.  Hurt/Comfort.
Season/Spoilers: Season 4. Based around the events of Absolute Power and The Light
Synopsis: The arrival of the Harsesis child causes both Jack and Daniel to see themselves - and each other  - in a completely different light
Warnings: Intense situations.
Length: 640 Kb Download a printer-friendly PDF version of the story


17:58 hours.  Can’t look TOO eager.  Slow to my usual ‘not being actively shot at’ slouch as I enter the control room to enjoy a cosy chat all alone with Dr Jackson - and the technical staff.

Daniel has been off-world for two days and I think his time with SG-5 has done him the world of good.  Absence is DEFINITELY making his heart grow fonder.  He's been quite the little ray of sunshine our last few conversations.
Letting him go, not giving him grief over it, best decision I’ve made about him for the longest time.

Things are better between us.  WAY better.  We’ve opened the lines of communication.  I have the inclination and, for all his excitement over an apparently dizzying array of historical and technological marvels, Daniel has the time.

I guess I was projecting my own anxieties onto him during our little contretemps in the office.  I mean, come on, this is DANIEL.  Sha’uri.  Shifu.  Coma.  Dream.  Our workload.  Life, the universe and everything.  Any and all of the above could knock a sensitive guy like Daniel for six.

We’ve both had some time and a shit load of distance, to put it in perspective.  I put out a little feeler a call or so back about Sha’uri and he opened up.  No specifics, but I was right about his reaction to the ‘Sha’uri would be proud of him’ remark from Shifu.  I put him straight about it and that load has obviously been lightening every time we talk.  I’m feeling pretty good right now.  Not as good as Daniel with all those alien toys to play with, plus a little quality MALP time with his best bud, but pretty good nonetheless.  Maybe Shifu was right about this letting go stuff.

As the iris opens, I stand waiting as patiently as possible for the signal to be established.  I miss his face.  I miss him, though I’m glad of the breather.  Had a chance to get my own balance back, had a chance to tentatively mend some fences with Teal’c – we’re being ‘careful’ right now - and to work on the friendship thing with Carter.  She’s loosening up, slow but sure.

“Receiving transmission, sir.  It’s Dr Jackson.”

I settle in front of the monitor, grinning all over my face.  Okay, I’m not THAT cool, not when Daniel is almost dancing with excitement in front of his camera.

“Hey,” the greeting may be laconic but the hormones are going wild.  He’s – can’t believe I’m even thinking this, not about a guy, let alone my best friend – radiant, as the MALP camera dwells lovingly on his face.


“Hello yourself,” I say more moderately.  Inside, I’m gloating.  He’s HAPPY to hear from me.  “Had a good day?”

“Yeahsureyoubetcha,” he says brightly.

Damn, but it’s good to see him so happy.

“SG-5 treating you right?” I tease.  He’s got them wrapped around his little finger.

“No,” he says promptly.  “They keep making me stop, to feed me.  How am I supposed to get any work done if they will INSIST on – “

“General Hammond is giving us the weekend off,” I interject hurriedly.

“Oh,” he shrugs.  “Got any plans?”

“Figured I’d just hang out,” I say lightly.  Gonna hang out with my navel and do some more of that quality contemplation stuff.  See if I can’t come up with a plan of action that will get Danny to be this nice to me when he’s on the same planet, and if I’m really lucky, in the same room.

“Sam?” he asks sweetly.

I shrug.  “Dunno.  Probably work on her bike  or the decay rate of something.”

“Wanna bet?” Daniel asks softly, his face alight with mischief.

“Bet?  An actual bet?  A ‘for real’ money kinda bet?”

“Yep.  Willing to put your money where your mouth is, Jack?” Daniel challenges.

He punctuates this comment by slowly licking his lower lip and the blood cells in my brain that should have been warning my olfactory senses to detect the presence of rodents pack up and head for more welcoming climes further south.  It comes as no shock to hear my own voice cheerfully agreeing.  “What do YOU think she’ll be doing?”

“She’ll be planet-side with me, Jack,” he says confidently.

“Okay.  I’ll take some of that action.”  Carter has a new part for her bike, and Siler has leave too.  Daniel’s ass is grass.

“I’ll put you down for a hundred.”


He nods, grinning.  I give him the benefit of my best evil smirk.  He can’t see it his end but it’ll annoy him just to know it’s there, in my voice. “It’s a bet.  You’re going down, Dr Jackson.  I’m glad I got the weekend, gimme a chance to spend your money.”

“Don’t gloat too soon, Jack.  They call me Spacemonkey ‘cause they pay me peanuts.”

If Daniel hadn’t been so adamant he needed the break from me in the first place, if I hadn’t been so reluctant – okay, afraid – to push it, I would’ve knocked Carter on her ass on MY way to gate out to the palace to be with him.

It’s – it’s not ALL bad.  I mean, he was thrilled to see me when he got back, was all excited over that place and wanting to share it with me.  I so wish I could’ve – he was so open, so certain I would understand and sympathise with his wonderment, and SHARE, and I had to knock him on his ass with the news about Barber.

I don’t know.  I really don’t.  Why is always me taking away the good stuff from him?

Every damn time he gets a taste of something wonderful and CLEAN, lets his guard down, lets himself relax and start to enjoy it, Life and I have to gang up and snatch it all away, PDQ.  For his own good, his own protection.  For my own peace of mind; my own convenience, more like.  Yeah, Dannyboy, you can do your thing just so long as it doesn’t get in the way of me doing mine or bore the shit out of me, in which case, kiss it goodbye, eat your heart out, we’re outta here.  You can pore over the 10 minutes of digital footage you shot of the meaning of life; I got a game to watch.


How does he still have the grace to persist and want to share it with me?  That has to be a good sign.  Right?  So I was wildly optimistic about the Daniel being nice to me in the same room thing.  Means nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Getting pissy over Daniel brushing me off right after the briefing and heading off with Teal’c in close attendance, well, it’s pathetic.  He needs help with the translation.  Like he said.  Nothing personal.  Busy, busy, Jack.  I got nothing to contribute.  Understood.  Matter of fact.  Teal’c does.  That’s all.  Nothing sinister.  Daniel didn’t want or need Sam either and even though she obviously wanted a crack at that gizmo SHE didn’t take it personally.  Just smiled and said she was there if she was needed.  Teal’c promised to call her in that event.

So it’s not just me Daniel isn’t – he’s NOT avoiding us.  Not both of us.  Carter hasn’t ticked him off.  I have, but he was past that.  It’s fine.  Fine.  I glance at my watch.  It’s also late.  He’s been at it since he got back.  Maybe I should check in?  Check on progress.  Check on Teal’c.  Lure Daniel along to the commissary for some pie and conversation.  Maybe stun him by sharing something with HIM.  Maybe let him in on the fact I’ve been telling myself not to believe my doing too little far too goddamn late did nothing but spur Barber on to find that little turn of speed which took him into the activating wormhole right in front of me.  I don’t do the TALKING thing so often he wouldn’t listen if I started now.

Well, Mohammed ain’t gonna come to this particular mountain, so this mountain is gonna have to get up off his ass and go up there to Mohammed.  As I stroll along to the elevator I have to thank a lifetime in the military for the stony ‘give nothing away, who me?’ face I’ve perfected over the years.  All Daniel will see is – Jack.

Not Jack eating his heart out over you, not Jack imagining you naked and OPEN in his arms, not Jack slowly driven mad with the wanting and not having.  All I’ll let you see until YOU start looking for more.  And I think you will look for more, when you’re ready.  Think - think you have looked for more, in the past.  I wasn’t ready.  Ready and waiting now.  Waiting for you.  Wait as long as it takes to rebuild that trust, for you to feel safe and let go too.

I’ve walked this path from my office to Daniel’s office so often over the years I think I could do it blindfold.  His door is always open.  If you’ve got time for Daniel he has time for you.  Everyone is welcome here.  As I round the doorway I see Teal’c typing at Daniel’s computer.

Daniel is – pretty impatient there, huh?  Don’t knock me down on the way past, ‘kay?  Might feel unwanted.  Daniel?  Hello?  Am I in the room here?  Little acknowledgement wouldn’t hurt, let me know I’m even half as interesting as that book you’re dissecting for answers it clearly can’t give.

“Hey. Whatcha watching?”  I ask Teal’c.  Definitely the softer option at the present time.  My gaze sidles past Teal’c before he can even answer, drawn straight back to my own particular lodestone.  Daniel…

”A digital recording,” Teal’c begins.


Daniel is NOT himself.  Every movement is taut, vehement, as he snaps the book shut and stalks over to the bookcase.

”I am endeavouring to translate the Goa'uld writings of which Daniel Jackson has spoken.”

Daniel is adorable, in fact he’s irresistibly cute when he gets indignant.  He’s not indignant now.  He’s not adorable.  He’s got an edge to him I haven’t seen before and which I don’t like one bit.  I’m trying to concentrate on Teal’c but the storm cloud gathering behind me is consuming my interest.  I’m tensing up too, looking back constantly over my shoulder.

Um. Where were we? “How goes the endeavouring?”

”Upon a second viewing, I have discovered a figure moving in the background.”

Daniel storms back over to his desk as Teal’c turns the monitor toward me.  I’ve only got eyes for Daniel.  Gotta force myself to do my job, but I’m on the alert as he restlessly paces back over to his workbench.  He can’t be still for a moment.  Is it Barber?  Is that what’s eating him?  They weren’t all that close.  He was rattled but not – he didn’t SEE it, not like Carter and me.

“It does not appear to be one of our personnel.”

Daniel slams the book down, making both Teal’c and I pause and – assess.  Daniel snatches up the gizmo and glares at it, trying to wrest answers from it by sheer force of concentrated attention.  We keep looking and assessing him, like he’s going to go off in our faces.

”Uh, he never mentioned anyone else.”  No point asking him, mood he’s in.  Get my head handed to me.

”What is WRONG with this thing?” he snarls.

I’m taken aback by the savage tone and I guess it shows.

“This thing isn't working,” he confirms in a milder tone when he realises I’m watching him.  And disapproving.

Lighten up, big guy.  Just a gizmo.  The fate of the world doesn’t depend on getting it to work.  It’s a minor inconvenience.  Put it in perspective, okay? ”Did you check the battery?”

I’m not at all prepared for the – look – he gives me.  It’s not quite contempt, not quite, but so close it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.  He’s pulling IQ on me.  He’s never – not Daniel.

”I need to go back to the planet and figure out what's going on.”

”Hammond suggested we do that tomorrow,” I say coolly.  I’m on his side.  He’s getting everything he needs so what’s the beef?

”Well, this thing isn't working and tomorrow isn't good enough,” he insists.

”Yes, it is,” I lay the law down.  This mood has nothing to do with Barber, this is about Daniel.  I’m not used to him being selfish.  Being like the rest of us.  I want to indulge his curiosity but this intensity is bordering on insult.  A little scientific frustration is nothing compared to the loss of a good man like Barber.  Daniel is usually the first to factor the human side of an equation, why stop now?  Why --

Jesus.  That – look.  Like – like I’m so utterly rigid and unimaginative, so dense, so lacking in empathy, what’s the point?  What the fuck is the point of the genius trying to make the dullard see what he can’t and won’t?  The dullard sees plenty.  Especially when the genius is broadcasting the disdain he doesn’t bother to put words to.

”I'm gonna talk to Hammond.”

Daniel turns his back and walks out on me.  Excuse me.  You were just getting around to the words, huh, so you could suit action to ‘em.

“Hey!”  Nothing.  He doesn’t falter, doesn’t look back.  No point.  Got nothin’ here.  Nothing he wants or needs.  Or respects.

I look at Teal’c, shrug helplessly and head off after him.  Hammond is NOT in the mood for archaeologists pitching fits in his office.  Gotta get in there and do some damage control.

Daniel has never made me feel dumb in all the time I’ve known him.  Not once.  He’s never made me feel bad, not like Car – Damn.  Where’d that come from?  Shows how rattled I am.  She’d never - I mean, she has, but not on purpose.  Just how she says stuff, sometimes.  Danny has never talked down to me.  He gets excited but he always explains so I understand.  He never assumes I don’t understand the idea, just knows I don’t always speak the language.

At least, that’s what I thought.

I know we haven’t got a single interest in common, but I’ve never thought it mattered.  We worked around it.  That look was – where the hell did that come from?  Guess I know where I stand.  HE worked around it, was just too kind to let on how little I had to offer.  Daniel indulges me, and maybe ‘Doctor Jackson’ has been indulging the Colonel too.

Daniel isn’t in sight when I reach the elevator so I punch it and wait for the next one.  I’m being overly sensitive, right?  Being preternaturally aware of Daniel means I’m over analysing everything he says and does.  Reading subtext into the most ridiculous things.  He’s not in love with me; he’s not feeling what I’m feeling.  Got no hidden agenda.  I gotta accept that, stop projecting my own anxieties onto him.  He’s just tired, and overwrought and he got a little – careless is all.

He’s tired and frustrated.  He’d never hurt me intentionally.  Never.  Certain of it.


George is looking at me like I'm twelve and in serious need of a pat on the head and a nice lollipop to make me feel better.  Bad enough I get that kind of treatment from Jack on a regular basis but I thought the general - well - I heard him say I was a friend, once.  A close friend.

You don't PATRONISE your friends. Don't make them feel like idiots - like they can't even tie their own shoes without your help.

Don't make them feel like  -- crap.

"Have you slept at all since you returned?" Hammond is asking me.

What do you care?  You're not my father!

"I fail to see what that has to do with anything," I snap at him.  None of your damned business.  I can take care of myself.  If I want to stay awake for forty eight hours, stand on my head and snort Kool-Aid that's my choice.  You've got nothing to say about it.  And neither do you, JACK.  Nobody asked you, either.  You can wipe that look of false concern off your face and go back to your other 'friends'.  Plenty more people out there more than happy to let you run their lives for them.  Figure you've done enough damage here, move on already.

"SG-1 has been hard at it for weeks," George continues, making with the big daddy face and voice of concern.  "I'm not sending you anywhere until you've all had at least a night’s sleep."

"I'm fine!"  The irritation in my voice is grating in my skull. My head is starting to ache.  Stop treating me like a child!  I don't want to lose it in front of this man but I swear to God --

Okay, okay, Daniel, calm down.  Jack is starting with 'the look'. You don't rein this in a bit you're going to have O'Neill on your ass, picking at you until he 'gets' whatever it is he thinks is going on out of you.

I need that right now like I need another hole in my head.  Speaking of heads, mine is really starting to throb.

"You're physically and mentally exhausted," George persists. I want to throw something at him; I'm getting so angry and frustrated.

I try taking a shot at making with a more reasonable tone. "I admit I may have been pushing myself a BIT, but this device could hold the key to everything about that entire place and I can't make any more progress on it here."  Okay, maybe reasonable started segueing back into impassioned again, but I can't help it.   This is IMPORTANT!  Why can't they see that?

Looks like George isn't buying it.  Next words out of his mouth pretty much confirm the hypothesis.

"You're scheduled to leave tomorrow morning, one more day isn't going to make a difference."

Idiot, idiot, idiot! How can you SAY that?  You don't even - you - since when is linguistics your field of expertise, GEORGE? What do you know about it?  Shit!  Starting - starting to lose control, I know it, I know it,  know I shouldn't but he's just so --  I can't seem to make him understand.  All of them - they NEVER understand!   Never LISTEN to me!

"I'm telling you it is!"  I snap at him.  Don't tell me I don't know my own goddamned business!  I know what I'm talking about!  How dare you question my judgement you - you - pen-pushing bureaucrat!

"Thank you for your time, Sir," Jack interrupts curtly, giving me one of his warning looks and taking an abrupt step toward me. What are you gonna do, tough guy?  Spank me?

THANK you - Jack!  Big help, PAL.  Once again, thanks for the faith and support.  The rousing show of non-confidence.  Thanks for listening, thanks for backing me up.

Take your 'look' and ram it where the sun don't shine.  Ram your 'concern' right up there with it, so it shouldn't be lonely.

And as for YOU, George --

"You know it is beyond my comprehension how anybody like yourself who has so much power can miss the point entirely!"

I'm not sure exactly what I'm saying, it's just all coming out of me.  Anger, frustration, boiling and shooting out the top of my head.  Which is pounding with the sound of my blood pulsing through my skull, almost to the point where I can't even hear my own thoughts.

I don't even realize I've been shouting until I hear Jack yelling at me.

"Hey!  Knock it off!"

He's started toward me, but I can barely see him through the red haze of fury rising up within me.  I keep staring at Hammond, trying to focus, aware he's saying something, something about Barber.  I don't know, it doesn't matter, why is George talking about him now, the man's DEAD, not like we can do anything for him, and I don't really understand what he has to do with any of this either.

George isn't listening to me.  Not paying any attention to me.  He cares more about a dead guy than he does about what stupid DAN-iel wants.

I - I have to get out of here.  I have no idea what I'm doing here.  What I'm thinking, what I'm saying. Just - have to leave.

I turn on my heel and bolt from the room.   I'm a maelstrom of emotions, anger, confusion, frustration. I know I've just done something - said something I shouldn't have, but -- everything's just all jumbled up and rolling around inside my skull.  My head is still splitting.  Don't know where I am, where I'm going.  How I GOT here, even.

I think I need to lie down for a minute, just let my head clear.

Jack grabs me by the arm and whirls me around.

"What the hell was that all about?" he hisses into my face.  "What were you thinking, saying something like that to the general?  What's the matter with you?  Are you off your NUT or something?"

Oh, maybe not before, but I sure am now.  I go from confused to ballistic in less time than it takes me to say 'FUCK YOU'!

"Get your hands off me, Jack!" I bite out the words at him between clenched teeth.  My voice is shaking with rage and so am I.  "Let go of me now, or I'll have you up on charges for assault.  I MEAN it!"

His eyes widen with alarm and surprise.  He can see I'm not kidding.  He backs off immediately, hands held in the air in surrender.

"Okay, okay, Daniel," he says quietly.  “Sorry.  Didn't mean to come on so strong, there.  It's just - you're - I mean - you're acting a little - off - ya know.  I'm concerned."

"Don't be!"  I snarl back at him.  "I'm just being my normal 'odd' self.  You know - Daniel?  Sometimes he gets a little carried away, but he'll never do anything to - "

I break off and rub my head.  Jack's looking at me blankly. He doesn't know what I'm talking about, doesn't remember --

Of course he doesn't.  How could he - he didn't - that was the dream, all in my head.  Jack - Jack never said those things about me.  Getting confused.  Wish my head would stop pounding.

"Daniel," Jack says softly.  His face is white, almost scared looking.  "What is it?  What's wrong?  Whatever it is, I'm listening."

That's just so damned funny and so damned not true I want to punch him in the face for daring to say it to me.

"Are you?"  I sneer at him.  "Are you LISTENING, Jack?  If you are, it'll be a nice change, but somehow I doubt it very much.  When have you EVER listened to me?  When have you EVER heard anything I've ever said to you, except when I was saying what you wanted to hear?  You want to know when, Jack?  Do you?  Well, I'll tell you.  NEVER, that's when!"

He's got this strange, pinched look in his eyes; his lips are set in a white, bloodless line.  I've seen that expression before, but can't - can't place it.  I don't get a chance to see much more of it, because he shakes off whatever it is making him look at me like that and shoots a quick glance around before starting to move toward me again.

"Come on, Daniel," he starts to say to me, his voice sounding worn, somehow lifeless.  "Let's just - never mind.  You're tired; I'm tired.  How about I drive you home?"

I can't.  I don't know why, but whatever is driving me, this fury, frustration, it's like it's got a mind of its own.  Like it's not even me talking any more as furious words spill out of me and hurl themselves at him with a will and a purpose independent of me.

"Get the hell away from me!  And stop fucking telling me what to do!   I'll go home when I damned well feel like going home, and I'll get there on my own.  I don't need you planning my life for me, running my life for me - living through me for God's sakes!  I'm not your boy - not your goddamned PET!  And I'm not some lovesick, insecure major trying to wrap you around her little finger.   I don't NEED you, Jack!  You GETTING this, Colonel, sir?  Are you LISTENING now?”

"Yeah," Jack says, his voice deadly calm, his eyes cold.  "You through? Or you want we should just keep yelling at each other in the hall, here, 'til every single person on the base knows our business?"

I want to scream with frustration, and yet what he's just said is just so damned -- funny.

"What does it matter where we do ‘this’?” I laugh weakly and shake my head.  "Even if I knew what the hell 'this' is - take a look around.  We're in a big, concrete, wired-for-picture-and-sound bubble.  No secrets here, Jack.  Sooner or later, everything comes out into the open.  Everybody knows what everybody is up to.  No such thing as it not needing to leave the room - wherever you are in this place."

Jack takes a step back, mouth shutting in shock.  Ah, he didn't know I knew.  He does now.  Not that it matters.  Not that any of it matters.  Too late for any of it.  I can't get any of it back.  All gone.  All of it.  I can barely stand to look at him anymore.

'Daniel - I can explain," he gulps hastily, panic in his eyes.  I wave his words away as I rub my aching temples.

"I don't care, Jack.  I really don't.  I'm tired of playing your games.  It's a no-win situation, no matter what I do, especially as you've been hedging your bets all this time.  I'm not going to let you play the 'who loves me best' game with me any more, not going to let you try and score Sam and me off each other.  I'm retiring from the lists.  You and Sam can get up to whatever you damned well please. I just don't care.  Leave me out of it.  I'm done."

"Daniel - I never meant - "

"Then maybe it's time you started," I hold up my hand to stop him.  "Go home, Jack.  Take some time and figure it out for yourself. Find out what you 'mean'.  Don't bother talking to me again until you do."

I turn and walk away from him, half expecting him to stop me.  He doesn't.

I don't know whether to feel relieved or - or - like I've finally lost -- everything.

I don't remember how I got home.  Only have a vague recollection of the events of the past few hours.  I know I was talking to Jack.  I know something terrible happened between us.  But the specifics, can't - can't seem to get at them.

Not even sure if it's worth bothering to try.

Barber's lucky. He's dead.  It's all over for Barber.  Wherever he is now, he's got no more worries.  No more pain, no more fear, no more loneliness, losses, regrets; no sick, cold, empty feeling inside him.  No nothing.  Nothing will ever hurt him again.


It'll be dawn soon.  I've been sitting out here on the balcony all night.  Nice night.  Warm.  Usually, I like sitting out here.  Listening to the street noises, looking up at the stars.  Now, it's all --  meaningless.

What's the point?

That is the point.  There is no point.  No point to anything, no meaning.  It doesn't mean a damned thing.  Everything I've done for him, everything I've tried to be for him - I don't mean a damned thing to him.  He let me walk away. For all he said he cared he let me go.  I tried, Jack, I really did.  But you never saw, never got it.  It's all gone.

And now we'll never get it back.


I don’t know about a wake-up call.  Daniel’s door is open.  He’s NOT that careless, not with all his journals in there, or his artefacts.  Or my vigorous lectures on security.  Shit.  Has he been burgled?

I edge up to the door and cautiously press my face to the gap.  The hallway is long and the room dividers severely limit my field of vision.  It’s far from ideal, but I’m going to have to go in blind.  I open the door quietly and ease a little way down the hallway, checking everything in my line of sight.  Nothing seems to have been disturbed.  NOT burglars, thank God.

“Daniel?” I call.

He doesn’t answer.  The only thing disturbing the hush in the apartment is the irritating, plaintive beeping of Daniel’s phone, off the hook.  I walk over and nudge the handset gently.  His glasses and keys are beside it.  Carter was right: he did pick up.  He was ready to come out to work but changed his mind.

He was desperate to get back to the palace yesterday.  Today he won’t even come to the mountain.  It’s me.  He’s avoiding ME.  That fight last night – I’ve never seen him so angry, so frustrated.  Heard him, I should say.  Of course, according to Daniel, I never hear him.  I never LISTEN.  Just one of the many mind games I play with my ‘pet’.

I turn and head up the steps and across towards the kitchen.  There’s a half-eaten apple on the table.  Not exactly a hearty start to his day, but better than a solo caffeine fix.  The kettle is boiling wildly on the stove, the volume of steam suggesting it’s close to boiling dry.

I turn then and look the length of the apartment.  The balcony door is open.  Why is my heart hammering?  It was just a fight.  Worst damn fight we ever had, but – dammit, he was angry.  Furious.  That’s all.  I got no cause for alarm here.

I walk slowly to the open door and look out.

CHRIST!  NO, Daniel! NO NO NO.  Not on the outside of the ledge.  NO.  Hang on, kid.  Just – hang on.  I’m here.  Here.

I swallow hard.  What the fuck are you supposed to – don’t crowd them, that’s it.  Don’t startle him, don’t make him fucking jump out of his skin and off that balcony.

”Daniel? What are you doing out here?” I ask gently, mildly, hovering in the doorway.  Truth is, after what passed between us last night, I’m shit scared to go near him.

 // Get your hands off me, Jack.//

”None of it means anything,” he says so softly I have to strain to hear him.  Desolate.  He sounds so lost.  So far from himself.

”Daniel? Why - why,” I’m stammering, “don't you come inside here?” I don’t know what to DO.  Oh Christ, I’m as lost as he.  Mind blank.  Afraid.  So afraid I can taste it, metallic in my throat.  My heart is hammering, I'm icy cold.   I can’t lose Daniel, I can't, there's no point, there's nothing if I’m without him.

”I tried. It just goes away.”

I was lost too, I had the gun in my hand.  I was so close, I just wanted to let the pain go and avoid my guilt.  I was hating myself, hating the world for living when he died.  I was lost in that hate, that pain, every moment an eternity in that pain.  I couldn’t live with it but it brought me to you, it saved me.  So lost.  Found myself in you, lived for you, only you, always you.  Let me help: you can find your way in me.  I won’t burden you with my needs.  Just let me love you, give you what you need, want.

”Okay. Then we'll get it back.”

I’m sorry, Daniel, I’m sorry.   I love you and I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.  Come back to me, forgive me. I didn’t MEAN to.  It's not your fault, it's mine, only mine.  I LOVE YOU.  I won’t leave you again, you’ll have to kill me to be rid of me.  I'll never leave you.  I LOVE you.

”You can't get it back,” he’s deathly quiet and so terribly certain in his despair.

I’ve loved you since I met you and I’ve made you suffer for all the time it’s taken me to admit it, burdened you with my inadequacy, my needs, my heartless self interest and jealousy.  Tied you to me and denied your love, your passion, denied you to anyone else, tried to hold you to me on my terms.  Never seen you for you only for me.  Mine.  My property.  Everything you said to me last night was true.  Mine.  I kept you dependent on me, left you to flounder when you needed me most, let Carter and Teal’c think you were a helpless innocent in need of constant protection and guarding so precious to all of us,so loved.  Daniel don’t you see that’s why we did it?  Selfish AND selfless.  We NEED you, wecan’t be without you, not now, not ever.  You filled the emptiness in all of us, your fire warms us all.

”Wh - whatever's wrong, we'll – we’ll fix it.”

I can promise that.  I’ll never push you away again isolate you, cut you down.  Hurt you to keep you.  I’m sorry, so sorry.  I’ll let go, surrender myself to you, trust you, love you.  Even if I can’t be your lover, let me be your friend.

”You don't even know what I'm talking about,” Daniel hangs his head, utterly defeated.  So close too close to the edge.  Can’t lose you.

”No. No, I don't. But come inside.”

I CAN promise you’ll have your friend, the one you miss so much, the one who hurt you so much and drove you to this.  The one who hates himself right now and is so afraid for you.

Daniel?  He’s turning toward me, a single tear tracking down the face I can see for the first time, so pale so lost so confused.


I’m by his side in a heartbeat, taking his arm in a crushing grip as he looks down and around.  He doesn’t know where he is or how he got there or why.  All he knows is ME.  Needs me, trusts me.

”Yeah,” I’ve GOT you, not letting go!  You’re safe!  Just trust me a moment longer, hang in there until it’s safe to lift you over, until you’re calmer.  I’m calmer, thinking, not reacting.  I tighten my grip and dare to reach around my hand to pat his shoulder gently, hold him close to me when he doesn’t shake the hand off.  My eyes are dragged down to the concrete eight floors below us.  If he’d gone, if I’d lost him, I’d have gone too.  I can’t survive without him, not now, haven’t the strength to try.

“Stay still, Daniel.  Gonna slide my arms around you and lift you onto the rail, then you can swing around to this side.  Trust me, I won’t let go, just trust me.”

A tiny nod.  He’s too shocked to do this on his own; the thought of making him turn around out there to face me, his hands maybe slipping on the slick brass rail.  I slide my right arm around his waist and pull him back to my chest and he fits like he was meant to be there, the scent of his hair, the strands silken against my skin.  The rail is so high that there’s no danger I’ll be pulled off balance, so I ease my left arm around his waist now, lock my grip and lift him the couple inches needed to set his butt on the rail.  I pull him back so he can swing first his left leg and then his right over and drop down safe, and step back to give him room.

I waste no time getting him to safety, pull him after me into the apartment and shut the door emphatically behind us.  Then I do what I haven’t done for so long that it makes him flinch away from me.  I take him in my arms and hold his trembling body close, needing to feel him alive and safe and with me.  He stares at me in silence, those huge, wounded eyes fixed on mine.  It hurts that he’s holding himself rigidly as far away from me as I’ll allow him to be.  It’s almost as if - as if he’s afraid to be this close to me.  He was angry when I grabbed him yesterday.  Angry.  I can live with him being mad at me, but how – he’s afraid to be near me.   This just can’t get any worse.  It can’t.  This has to be rock bottom.  It has to be.

I’m supposed to be comforting him and I’m trembling as much as he is.


I know that’s my cue to let go, that I’ve rocked him like a hurt child for too long, but fuck it, I don’t care what it looks like.  I’m keeping him close.  Safe.  And, oh, God, he feels so good here in my arms, where he belongs.

“I’m sorry, Daniel.  I’m so sorry.  I didn’t need you to tell me – I KNOW what a shitty so-called friend I’ve been to you.  I won’t let it happen again, won’t let you down again.”  It’s all that it’s safe for me to say, but he needs to hear it.

“Wh - what?” he stammers.

I frown and touch a gentle hand to his forehead.  He’s clammy, shivering, and his pulse is rapid.  A sure sign he’s going into shock.  I steer him over to the sofa and lay him down on it, too bewildered to protest as I elevate his legs.  Can’t even remember why you do that for shock just know that you do.

“Stay put,” I order tersely and dash off to the bedroom to snatch up his quilt.  I settle the folds over him as gently as I ever tucked in Charlie, stroke my hand down his cheek and make for the phone and Janet.  I want help for him, ASAP.

Suicide.  Daniel tried to commit suicide.  He tried to kill himself and it’s all because of me.  My fault.  Mine.  It’s way too long a wait for my shredded nerves before my call is put through to the Infirmary.

“Infirmary.  Doctor Fraiser speaking.”

“O’Neill.  I’m with Daniel.  He just – I just talked him down off a ledge.  He was ready to jump.  I don’t know what to do for him.”

“How is he physically?” Janet asks brusquely.

“Cold, clammy, confused as hell.  I got him wrapped up in a quilt, trying to keep him warm.”

“Good.  He’s had a severe emotional trauma.  I want him under observation.  It’ll take too long for me to come to you.  You’ll have to bring him to me.  NOW, Colonel.”

“Yes, ma’am.”  My heart isn’t in the sarcasm.  The problem isn’t physical; it isn’t mental.  Janet can’t do him any good and I’m not letting Mackenzie or his ilk anywhere NEAR Daniel.  The problem is emotional.  The problem is ME.  It’s something we – I can fix.  Whatever it takes to rebuild that trust between us, however long it takes.

Won’t do him any good to rehash that stuff about my arrant emotional cowardice, will it?  I know he didn’t use those exact words but the long night I’ve just had staring at the railings of my observation platform taking that good hard look at myself helped me fill in those unspoken blanks.  And, yes, I am truly sorry about Carter.  I know it’s too late.  I know now just how much I’ve hurt him, and I’ve compounded the hurt by concealing the truth from him.  I can only admit that truth to him, the part of it he’s ready to hear, about why I did it.

Trying real hard here not to let the guilt overwhelm me.  Don’t WANT to be thinking of myself, don’t want to wallow.  Daniel needs me to be thinking of him.  As I sit beside him I see his lashes are spiked with tears.  It makes my heart ache to see such anguish in his eyes, to know I’ve brought him this low.  I cup his strained face gently in my hands for a moment, just trying to let him know he’s not alone.

“Jack.  Please,” he whispers, turning his cheek into the warmth of my hand, eyes never wavering from mine, pleading – pleading for what?

“I’ve got you, Daniel.  You’re safe now.  Safe.”

“Please.  Just – I need – don’t know what to do,” the soft words tumble out.

“Don’t worry yourself over what happened, Daniel.  It’s over.  It’s finished.  I know what took you out on that ledge, and things between us will not be the same, I swear.  I’ll be a better friend to you.  Just let me in.  Let me help.”

After a few more abortive, staccato attempts to tell me this thing eating him up inside, Daniel is so frustrated I hush him, promising we’ll talk later, and I understand.  Looking at his thwarted, desperate face, I’m swamped again by self-indulgent guilt.  Haven’t got the time.

“Gonna get you to Janet.  Get you dressed and we’re outta here, okay?”

He gives an exhausted nod.  I think he’s past the point of caring until his hand tentatively settles on mine.

“Tired.  So tired – shut out –so alone.  No more.  No more.  Let me – please,” the aching need in his voice tears me up inside.

“No more,” I promise, taking his hand tightly in mine.  “No more.”  I reach out and gently stroke his face again.  “I swear it, Daniel.  No more.”

{All of SG-5 are dead.}

He’s so still.  All those electrodes wired up to his head, all the machines whirring.  Proves just how fragile we are: skin and bone; will and joy; need and love.  All – all can be snatched away between one beat of a heart and the next.

{We don’t know how much time he has left.}

Not a de facto coma this time.  The real thing.  A DEEP coma.  Like that’s worse than an ordinary coma?  Not enough for him to have an ordinary coma?  Gotta go for the full meal deal and have a DEEP coma?  Just in case, you know, I had the faintest glimmer of a sliver of the slightest hope he’d live – live - live through this.

[Spacemonkey!  YEAH.]

I love him.

// Get your hands off me, Jack!//

I love a man who’s afraid to have me touch him.

// I'm not your boy - not your goddamned PET!//

A man I’ve treated shamefully for my own selfish needs.  I had a friend and that wasn’t enough.  I needed him to need and want only me, needed unconditional love and support from him.  A child’s unquestioning love that sees only the hero I so badly want to be and is blind to the faults that make me.  I got that love and support, unconditional though not unquestioning, and God help me, even that wasn’t enough.  He SAW.  He KNEW.  He loved me anyway.  God forgive me.

// I don't NEED you, Jack!  You GETTING this, Colonel, sir?//

When Charlie died, it took Daniel’s courage, strength and love to make me see I didn’t die with my son.  I’ll never forgive myself for Charlie dying, but Daniel showed me it was okay to forgive myself for living.

I didn’t understand.  Not on Abydos.  Not that first time.  Didn’t understand that I hated Sha’uri.  She was a warm, brave and generous soul. I should have been proud to call her friend.  I wasn’t, nor was she my friend.  How could she be?  We both fell in love with the same man.  She was given as a gift to Daniel, but she claimed him.  I should never have let him stay.  I should have fought for him.  It twisted inside me, all that frustrated love and dependence.  Oh, yeah.  I depended on him.  Wasn’t man enough to admit it though.

The return to Abydos was where I fixed our path.  I knew walking into the event horizon that I would die before I left Daniel again.  And I wouldn’t PERMIT him to leave me again.  I had all the comfort of orders on my side.  It was my right and my duty to bring him home with me.  I should have walked up to him in the gateroom on Abydos and hugged the shit out of him, like he deserved.  I made my choice there and then.  Shoved right past him to hug Skaara.  I hurt Daniel.  Kept right on hurting him.  Okay to love me, Dannyboy.  Just love me RIGHT.   Choose me and only me.  Need me.  Never leave me again.

// I'm not going to let you play the 'who loves me best' game with me any more.//

The charade got a little hard to swallow, huh?  Easy to rationalise my being the father by forcing you to be the son.  Left you bereft and adrift in the SGC, with Hammond on your back and the whole world clamouring for your expertise.  You were grief stricken and I left you to it.  Left you to flounder.  Let you sleep any place you could find on base that nobody else happened to be using at the time.  So of course when your lord and master finally deigned to take notice of you, you were – grateful.  Endearingly sweet and warm and loving as always.  So open to me, so giving.  So happy to have someone to share with again.  Hungry to keep it.

Sorry.  So sorry I used that against you.  Let Carter and Teal’c think you were this sweet innocent little boy who needed all the care and protection we could muster.  Proved it to them over and over by keeping you in the dark, letting you stumble along working out the rules after you’d broken them.  Never explaining.  Never asking.  Impatient, dismissive.  Ignorant and condescending.  Papa Jack to your Dannyboy.  Everybody’s surrogate.  Not just to me.  Carter too, lost without her family.  My little boy, Carter’s little brother, the embodiment of Teal’c’s guilt and pain.  A most beloved son to Hammond.  Beloved of us all, Daniel.

// I just don't care.  Leave me out of it.  I'm done.//

Did you know, Daniel?  Did you ever really know that you were in love with me?  I guess my little stratagem with Carter worked beyond my wildest subconscious dreams, because you did play the ‘who loves me best’ game for me.  Gave me your all as always.  I fucked you over, as always.  I don’t think you ever knew you were in love, not even when you had to sit through that sordid tape to find out what was going on between Carter and I.  You were both in competition.  Yep.  Competing for my friendship?  No.  My love.  Once you had two sides of the triangle, easy to work out who made up the third, huh?

Guess the bottom dropped out of your world right then. Had to bury it way down deep, unacknowledged, and keep a safe distance.  Didn’t let either one of us in on your little secret until I’d driven you so far away from me that you’d already given up.

You’re going to die here, not knowing how dearly I love you, how much I need you.  The last words we shared were a naked plea for me to just let up on you.

// Tired.  So tired – shut out –so alone.  No more.  No more.  Let me – please.//

No more.  You got the wish of your heart, kid.  No more.  Haven’t got it in me to carry on without you.  If you die here, they’ll bury us both.  The best part of me goes with you.  Don’t think I can live with being that man again.  I can’t live denying life.  I can’t.

I scrub my hands across my face, needing something – anything - to break this dreadful stillness where you’re supposed to be.  Waiting.  Just sitting here waiting for you to die.  Can’t do a goddamn thing to prevent it.

Before I know it I’m on my feet at the end of Daniel’s bed, my eyes on his face.  Fixing it in my mind.  Like I did with Charlie.  One moment Daniel’s notes are in my hands, the next I’m slamming them down so hard everyone jumps.  I drop forward onto my elbows and bury my face, like I can hide from myself.

”Colonel? Are you all right?”

I turn to Janet’s oh so concerned and utterly pointless presence.  ”What kind of dumb-ass question is that? My friend is laying here on his deathbed.”  I don’t yell but she flinches like I did.

“I'm fine.” We’re dying, here.  What the fuck does it matter how I’M feeling?  You can’t help him, so get OUTTA my face.

”We're working on the problem, Sir.”

The PROBLEM?  I see.  He’s so fucking far gone that he’s not DANIEL anymore, he’s the PROBLEM?  Gonna irritate you for weeks that you couldn’t get the fucker resolved in time, huh?  Hey, lighten up, Janet.  That’s what autopsies are for.  Just so you know it wasn’t YOUR fault.  YOU didn’t fuck up and kill him.  The little bastard wilfully died on you despite you putting forth your very best efforts in creatively doing fuck-all as sympathetically as possible.  Overwhelmed, here.  Sure ‘the problem’ appreciates your efforts too, and I know I speak for us both when I say just how dearly we value your clear medical conscience.


Good.  I made the useless bitch jump out of her skin.  Made her look for help.  She’s AFRAID.  She’s afraid of me even if she can’t manage to be afraid FOR Daniel.

”Colonel O'Neill, if you don't calm down right now I will have you removed from my Infirmary, is that clear?”

God, my head is pounding.  Splitting me open.  Just get the fuck away from me and Danny, I’ll be good as gold.

”I'm fine.”

Not.  Not fine.  I press my hand to my eye.  Got a blunt saw hacking through my brain to the back of my eye and Christ, I’m starting to cry.  I’m getting hysterical.  No.  NO.  Gotta be here for him.  Show some fucking backbone, man!  He needs that respect.  Gotta be strong for him.

”Colonel, I'd like to recheck your dopamine levels.”

One more word outta you and I SWEAR, I’m gonna – J-Janet?  No.  No.  Didn’t mean – not you.  Sorry, so sorry, not your fault.  Know that.  NEVER hurt you.  Know you’d do anything you could for Danny and more.  KNOW that.  So sorry.  Not like me, not -- ”It's happening to me isn't it?”

Don’t take me away from Daniel.  Please don’t.  Not that.  Have to be here.  Have to be with him.

”Let me find out, please.”

I look to Daniel one more time before Janet leads me over to the next bed.  Thanks.  She busies herself doing tests but I’m not with her, don’t care.  Only Daniel matters.  So long as I’m with him.  I curl up on the bed, facing him, trying to fight back this crushing pain in my head by main force.  Gotta focus, stay with it.  Stay with him. I know the general is here, on my periphery.  Can’t see him.  See Daniel.

”Whatever's causing this actually accelerates neural activity in the brain and causes a dopamine like effect in the body.”

”Kinda like drugs,” hard to concentrate, but if there’s ANYTHING that might help him -- Have to try.  I’m all over the bed here, can’t lie still, curling up around this knot in my gut.

”Only as long as you're on the planet. Shortly after you return neural activity begins to decrease and depression results. Blood-work confirms it.”

”Does the boy carry any immunity that we could use to our advantage?” Hammond asks.

”No. His blood-work came back the same. I don't think he'll be able to leave the planet without experiencing the same narcotic withdrawal symptoms.”

”But Colonel O'Neill was only on that planet for a little over an hour!”  Hammond can’t believe it.

”Yes, sir, this addiction appears to be almost instantaneous,” Janet confirms.

”You're telling me I'm addicted to that place?”  That was what was wrong with Daniel.  Maybe – maybe what he said – no, not what, HOW he said it – maybe that was down to withdrawal too.  All that rage and despair, maybe the seeds were there, sure, but the intensity?  Maybe THAT wasn’t Daniel talking; maybe it was the addiction.  There’s hope.  Hope I can -- I can’t.  Not unless Janet keeps him alive.

”The intensity of your mood swing into depression seems to be proportional to the time you spent on the planet. All we can do is hope your exposure wasn't long enough for your symptoms to get as bad as they did with Daniel and the others.”

”Great. All those years of just saying no.”  I roll onto my back, desperately trying to find some spot where I can lie quiet and work past this pain.  Think.

”Jack, I tried to recall Major Carter or Teal'c, they haven't responded and I can't risk sending another team.”

Bleeping.  The machines.  JANET?

I’m up, terror tearing through the pain barrier.  ”What's that?”  Christ.  Daniel.  NO.  Too soon.  Not ready.  No.  Janet?  DO something.  Anything.

”His EEG is sporadic. This is exactly what happened to the members of SG5 before they died. Sir, you're gonna have to take him back to the planet.”

WHAT?  That might – it could save him?  What the fuck are we waiting for?  MOVE MOVE MOVE.

Janet summons help and the orderlies help her strip Daniel and put him into his uniform while I scramble into my jacket and hover.  She’s too busy to talk, never seen a man dressed with such ruthless speed and efficiency.

It makes me feel a little better.  If Janet is worried about hypothermia, then surely – she HAS to think this will help.  This will DO.  Taking him back.  It has to work.  It MUST.

When Daniel is lifted onto the gurney and all his machines settled in place, I drop in to the opposite side to Janet and we haul ass to the gateroom.  It’s just a blur of concrete walls, Daniel is all I see and his machines are all I hear.

”Once you’re there, I'll need you to send me his vital signs every -- ”

WHAT?  What’s going on?  I look from Janet to the monitor.  I can see his heartbeat snaking across the screen.  Numbers.  105/75. (81).  Flat.  The line is flattening – flat.  (0).  Gone.  He’s gone oh God oh God NO he’s gone JANET?

“He's coding.  No time to resuscitate, let's GO!”

Not too late not too late has to work HAS to. Janet pulls off the oxygen mask and I’m there, lifting Daniel onto my shoulder, turning, running like hell for the gate not too late Daniel stay with me STAY WITH ME –-

I’ve no time for the disorientation of reintegration, run out into the palace gateroom and lower Daniel until his feet touch the floor, his weight still draped over me as I hold his waist, steady him.


Lower him, cradling his head down to the floor.


He’s sprawled beneath me.

"Come ON!  Come ON!

I fumble at his throat, God he has to be alive I CAN’T pulse got a pulse he’s alive ALIVE but no breath sounds.


I shake him frantically, cup his white face between my hands, smack him.  Can’t think straight what do I DO what WHAT?  Love you Danny stay with me STAY.

I wrench my gaze from his face for a moment.


Where the fuck ARE you?  Danny needs HELP here!  Footsteps.  Loren.  Yes. He’ll know get them for me.  Soon Danny soon hang on.

“Where are my friends?”

I can’t keep my attention from Daniel for long but manage to glance up to Loren.

”With the Light.”

”Get them for me, will ya?”

I gotta spell this out? I turn back to Daniel, leaning over him.

”They won't come.”

”Well TRY!”

They fucking BETTER come getting HIGH while Daniel DIED right in front of us.  He was DEAD.  Dead.  ENOUGH! Enough now.  Stop.  I rock back on my heels.  Enough with the panic.  Does Daniel no good.  None.  Have to focus here do SOMETHING.

Breathing.  He’s – he’s breathing.  Can hear.  Air wheezing in his chest.  Stirring.


I can’t stand it.  Can’t take it a moment longer.  Too close.  He was DEAD.  I lean over him and scoop him up into my arms, cradle him to me, rock him with all the pent up fury of relief.

“Bastard.  You bastard.  Dying on me again.  DYING.”  My voice is shaking as hard as the rest of me, as hard as the hand that strokes his face with rough tenderness.

His breathing is steadying.  A little colour coming back to his face.

“Never again.  Don’t get to die on me EVER again, y’hear?  No more!  I love you, you – you – never again!  You GOT that?”

I lean in and take his lips.  A gentle promise, no more, but he feels so good - so right - want this so much, need him so much --  waited so long - so AFRAID -- lost you love you need you WANT you.

Lips parting beneath mine, sweet mouth opening to me falling into him holding him close to me loving him.  Tongue stroking urgently against his SAFE ALIVE his tongue against mine.  Back with me kissing me too moaning needing –

Skin. Have to – to touch.  Hold.  I nudge up his T-shirt a little further and touch him.  Perfect.  He’s perfect. So beautiful.  He has no idea.  Ivory skin trembling against my shaking hand in shock after shock of silken warmth.  My hand curves down over his hip and rests as I take a deep breath and dive back into his willing mouth.  Long, slender thigh begging to be touched then I’m drawn irresistibly back to skin on skin.  My hand roams everywhere, caressing, massaging the smooth muscles as he arches into me, moaning.

Lost in him need more of him all of him trembling hand sliding down now give him what he wants from me stroke him gently hold him massaging touch firm now sure feel him harden beneath my hand feels SO good wanted him too long need  - need – have to — please?

"Danny, oh GOD!  Danny!  Love you -- "

Awake.  Awake.  Thank God!  Love you, Danny. Love -

"God!  What are you doing!" Daniel cries out and shoves at me hard.  "Get AWAY from me!"


"Daniel!  Come on, Daniel!"

The sound of Jack's voice draws me up from the pull of Sha'uri's dark, compelling eyes.  I turn away from her, look toward him, my vision abruptly dazzled by the contrast, the sudden shift in focus.

I'm overwhelmed by the brightness of the Abydonian sun, streaming down upon him, the slanting rays bouncing off the gleaming limestone façade of the pyramid and dancing around him.  He looks like he's on fire as he stands there, bathed in brilliance, beckoning toward me.

"Daniel!" he calls out to me again, giving a quick toss of his head toward the dark entrance of the pyramid.  The pyramid where Ferretti and Kawalsky are waiting for us. The pyramid where the Stargate is.  Jack waves at me, smiles at me, urges me to come forward into his light.

"Danyiel," Sha'uri says sweetly as she snuggles closer into to my side.  "Come, my husband," she murmurs to me in Abydonian.  "We must go home.  My father will wish to honour you."

"What?"  I know she's talking to me but I'm distracted, still looking at Jack.  She's speaking to me.  I should listen, I - I am listening just not quite hearing what she's saying.  What she's saying --

Husband.  Come home.  Home?  Earth - Earth is my home.  But she's my - they gave her to me - we haven't, but - but - stay?  HERE?  With Sha'uri? This is the first I - I hadn't even really thought - just - just assumed I was going home - with Jack - with the others and Jack.

Stay - stay HERE?

Jack's looking at me, seeing my hesitation, my confusion.  He's looking at me, then looking past me, at Sha'uri, the smile on his face being replaced by a more troubled expression. He can't know what she just said to me but --

"Danyiel!" Sha'uri calls to me again, more strongly this time.  She takes hold of my chin and turns my head around.  “Husband!"

Her eyes are dark, profound of meaning and emotion, compelling, irresistibly charged with the force of her will.  She wants me, she WILL have me, and tells me as much, not with words, but with the insistent power of her mouth as she pulls me down to her and devours the last of my indecision with her hungry, hot kiss.

Not sweetness, not laden with the taste of surrender but lustful, wanton, possessive, demanding, invoking an answering lust within me I haven't felt --

She wants me.  I want her back.  Oh GOD, I want her back! With a passion I can scarcely believe myself capable of.  I crush her body to mine, answer her mouth on mine with equal hunger; I understand what she is telling me, not in words, but in a way I don't have the power or the will to deny.

I'm home.  I'm staying.   She's made up my mind.

Gasping and shaking I manage to swim back up from the depths of my desire. My head is reeling with the taste of her lips and the feel of her warm willingness pressing up against me, but somehow I manage to turn my head away and look behind me.

Jack's no longer standing there.  Seems as if I wasn't the only one who got the message.

"Are you sure you want to do this?"  Jack asks me as he stands by my side.  The lightly glowing circle of the Stargate is behind him.  The others have already passed through.  He's the last one.

I was.  Mere moments ago there wasn't a shadow of a doubt in my mind, but the light - the way the gate shines on him - making something subtle in his eyes - something I didn't see the first time.

The first time?


Sadness. He's smiling at me, but not with his eyes. Doesn't want me to stay - wants me - wants me - too.   Can't say it, but he's asking me, begging me, it's suddenly so clear, why didn't I - how could I not have SEEN this but I didn't - didn't see.  Didn't see, didn't want to see I don't know, oh God, I didn't know, why didn't I SEE what he was trying to tell me?

I don't know what to do.

I turn back to look at Sha'uri only to find her beside me again.  Not - not the way it happened before: she was behind me, not here, beside me not - not touching me, kissing --

I feel like I'm falling, dropping into dizzying ecstasy while at the same time swooping, rushing up towards life, joy, the FEELINGS, warm, unbelievably sensual -- lips, moist, hungry, sucking, desperate, gasping, sobbing, tongue pulsing hotly inside my mouth, more feelings, hand on my stomach, roaming, stroking, pushing down upon me, feels so good the way it's touching me, want more, move up against it, into it, moaning, it trembles, moves lower, urgently touching, gripping, groans, not from me, rumbling through me, deep, low, urging --

"Danny, oh GOD!  Danny!  Love you --"


Omigawd! Jack!  That's Jack's voice - Jack?  Who's kissing me? Someone's holding me, kissing, touching me - OH GOD!  JACK'S GOT HIS HAND ON MY -

"God!  What are you doing!"  I cry out and shove him.  Hard. "Get AWAY from me!"

I fall back as he gasps and lets go of me, the back of my head hitting something hard, the small shock of the impact propelling me into full awareness.

I open my eyes.  What the hell?

I'm - I'm back on P4X-347, lying on the floor in front of the Stargate.  Oh man, this is - what's going on?  The last thing I remember I was -- oh no -- oh no -- I didn't REALLY say that to the general, did I?

What's going on?  What am I doing here, and what the HELL is Jack doing KISSING me and feeling me up?

I put a hand on my head to try and stop it from doing the very disorienting pendulum thing it's currently doing, which isn't doing a thing for my thought processes or my vision.  Which is presently not only out of focus but also double, meaning I'm looking at two very blurry Jack O'Neill’s with identical scared expressions on their matching faces.

As if one wasn't bad enough.

"Daniel," he says urgently, reaching toward me.

"Don't touch me!"  I gasp quickly,  "Just - just stay where you are, Jack. I don't know what's going on, but -- "

Oh, God, my head just did a roll, taking my stomach with it.  Gonna be - gonna be sick.

I squeeze my eyes shut and curl up, clutching my middle.  Hoping to hold it back.  Don't  -  don't want to be sick.

"Danny - Danny, what's the matter?"  Jack's voice, scared, close to me. Too close.  Too - too close.  Don't get so close.  Not yet.  I can't - can't have you HERE - right now. Too close, too real.  Too - too confusing.  I don't understand what's happening - I was on Abydos with Sha'uri and suddenly I'm here - I don't know how I got here and you - you were touching me, and it felt so good, felt right, didn't see, didn't understand I didn't choose - she chose ME.  No.  No.  I was kissing her - then kissing you - all this time should have been kissing you - made a mistake --


"DON'T TOUCH ME!"  I scream at him and fling his hand away.  "Get AWAY from me!  Leave me alone!  Leave me alone - both of you!"

Okay, okay, not going to be sick.  Head's still spinning but I'm not going to be sick.  Sitting up would be good.  Or…not.  Oh boy.  This is harder than it looks.  Try again.

"Daniel - Daniel, I'm - I'm sorry, I didn't mean - oh, crap!" Jack sounds like HE'S going to be sick.  Still too close. Way too close.  I can't - can't have him so close.

"Go away!"  I groan, and thrust my arm at him to make him move away from me.  I hit him, hard somewhere, the chest I think.   He makes a strange sort of strangled sound, but I hear him move away.  Good, good.  He's finally listening.  I just need him to back off, just for a little while, let me get my head to stop - stop --

Something's wrong with me, something's happened.  Sam.  Maybe Sam can tell me - explain to me what's going on.  Sam.  Need Sam.

"Sam!"  I gasp.  "Get -- go - go to Sam!  Leave me.  Get.  Sam!"

That didn't come out quite right, but he seems to have understood me.  I open my eyes to see him standing over me, staring down at me, something, something wrong with his face, looks angry.  Must be - must be seeing things, wish I knew what was the matter with my head.

Was Jack really KISSING me? Jack?

"Why are you still here?"  I say as I look stupidly up at him.  I need him to go and get Sam for me.  I thought he understood.   "Why aren't you with Sam?"

"Damned if I know!" he shouts at me and then stomps off.

I think I'll give that sitting up thing another try.


// Get AWAY from me!//

Goddamn fucking sonovaBITCH!

// Don't touch me!//

No more!  Jesus.  That’s IT.  Never again. No way.


Uh-uh.  Never laying a hand on him again.  Ever.  Not EVER.

// Leave me alone!//

I can take a HINT.  Not THAT dumb.  Not ever.  He decides he wants ME?  He can send me a goddamn memo.  In TRIPLICATE.

// Go – go to Sam!  Leave me.//


// Why aren't you with Sam?//

Fucked if I know!  At least she never punched me in the gut.  So I pushed it a LITTLE.  He was MOANING.  ARCHING.  I wanted – HE wanted --

CHRIST.  One minute it’s foreplay and the next it’s a felony!

// I'm not some lovesick, insecure major trying to wrap you around her little finger.//

Not gonna get past this, are we?  Forgive me anything else but NOT her.

// I'm retiring from the lists.  You and Sam can get up to whatever you damned well please, I just don't care.  Leave me out of it.  I'm done.//

What the – what can I DO to make you SEE?  There was no future!  None.  Not one that didn’t involve HER getting SG-1 while I got my pension.  She made THAT perfectly frigging clear.   Don’t let the door hit you on the butt on the way out.  Sir.

It was NEVER about her!  It was about YOU!

As I stalk towards the Light room, I see Loren loitering by the doorway.  The kid takes one look at my face and stammers out something about not being allowed to go in.

“For God’s sake!” I growl, stalking past him in pursuit of my errant teammates.  Go for the short sharp shock.  They won’t thank me for it, later.

// Let go of me now, or I'll have you up on charges for assault. I MEAN it!//


Don’t YOU ignore me!

// Trying to wrap you around her little finger.//

I grab her, spin her around. Having a LOVELY time getting high while Daniel was DYING? Shake her.  Hard.

// Not going to let you try and score Sam and me off each other.//

“Carter! Wake up!”

”You're back, sir. When?”

An astonishing grasp of the obvious there, huh, Carter?


You cuttin’ me dead too?  I smack his shoulder.


How hard I gotta hit ya?  Just lemme know!  So glad you had such a WONDERFUL time in here that you didn’t hear me SCREAMING for help.  I smack him again.  Contact.

“Come on!  Yeah, come on.  Outta here, right now!”


Words to live by.  Ask Daniel.

I storm back to the gateroom, the rest of them trailing along in my wake.  Who cares?  NOT in the mood, here.  They were getting high while Danny was dying.  While I was – was scaring the shit out of him.  Mauling him like that.  He wanted it too – musta – musta been the shock is all.  Bolt from the blue.  He’s been through a LOT.  Once he calms down -- aww, crap.  Look at him!  Huddled into a ball.  Head bowed.

I’m sorry.  Got carried away there.  Won’t happen again.  I promise.

I head right on over and sit next to him, close as I dare.  Not – quite – touching.  Don’t want to scare him any more than I have.  Christ.  What was I thinking?  One minute he’s on a balcony ready to jump because I don’t love him, the next he’s fending me off because I do.

Knowing what the problem is isn’t the same as FIXING it, O’Neill!  Get a grip.  One step at a time.

Danny?  Okay there?  Didn’t – I didn’t hurt you, right?  Just the shock?  The shock is all?

“Daniel Jackson.”

Oh?  I glance up to Teal’c for a moment.  NOW you care? When it’s all over and he’s had the crap scared outta him.  AND me.  Danny is MISERABLE here.  In crying need of a hug I can’t give him.  Just in case it comes off like felonious frigging assault again.

“Yep. Had to bring him back. It was the only thing that was gonna keep him alive.”

You guys remember that?  Danny at death’s door?  Ring any bells?  No.  I see not.

“Sir, how long were you gone?”

“Few hours. Hammond tried to contact you.”

Can’t summon up the energy to be nice to Carter and even if Daniel isn’t looking I’m sure he can hear she’s all the way over there and I’m all the way over here.  Right by his side.

“He did not.”

He goddamn DID, Teal’c!  Danny’s nerves weren’t so frazzled I’d TELL you so, in no uncertain terms.  Lucky for both of ya Daniel could use some peace and quiet, a little time to regroup.  Get over coming back from the dead to being felt up by his sorta ex-best friend.

“He did. I heard his voice.”

Thank you, Loren!

“Where were we?” Carter demands, apparently of the room at large.

Getting HIGH at a distance, Carter, and yet still very much with Danny and I in spirit, wrecking my frigging life.

“In there.”  Loren points to the Light room.

“I can't explain it, Sir.”

“Fraiser thinks we're all addicted to something here that alters our brain chemistry. And dollars to doughnuts, it's that damn Light.”

“Oh, I don't see how that's possible.”

Sometimes she raps those opinions out like holy writ, the gospel according to Carter.  The day my gut feeling wins out over her ‘scientific’ assumptions is the day I die of shock.

Loren does see.  He sees perfectly.  Gone very pale there.  Nervous.

“Hey! You knew, didn't you?”


Not nervous.  Scared to death.

“That's why you're not allowed in there.”

You KNEW and you LET – he almost DIED.  TWICE.

“My father said I was too young.”

“Uh-huh.”  Crap, kid.  Do I look like I was born yesterday?

“Sir, if it's the Light itself, then how did Daniel recover just by arriving on the planet?” Carter asks.

“I don't know, Major, but I want you to find out.  Otherwise we're stuck here indefinitely and that's just not acceptable.”

Loren hangs his head. Guilty as charged, kid.  I am not spending the rest of my life as a junkie.  I fully intend to spend it with Daniel, at home, preferably in bed.

“Ahh, screw it, we're shutting that thing off.”

The sooner I get this resolved, the sooner I can get back to the ONLY thing that matters.  Daniel.  He NEEDS me.  He doesn’t realise it right now, but he needs me.  And he’s going to get me.


I died. Again.  Apparently.

This is getting so old it's time to retire it already.  How many times now - four?  Five?  Does getting zapped out of phase and wandering around like a ghost for days count? Can I put Resurrection Specialist as a job skill on my resume? Where's Daniel? Oh I think he's busy being dead right now, but don't worry, he'll be up and running by lunch-time.

Jesus. And of all the people the afterlife keeps on refusing admittance to - why me?  Throw this one back - we don't want him. Better luck next time, Dannyboy.

Why do I get to go on living when so many other people far more deserving of second, third and fourth chances didn't get them?  Ra should have let me stay dead the first time.  Everyone would have been a lot better off it he had.  Ra - for starters.

Okay, okay, enough of this.  After talking to George, at least I know why I'm here.  This place almost - did - kill me. But I got better.  Lucky Daniel Jackson.  They got me back here in time before death became a permanently inconveniencing condition. For me, anyway. For one or two people out there, finding out that I’m finally, certifiably, actually really very dead would’ve made their whole day.

Can't please all of the people all of the time.

Jack got me back here in time.  Jack.  Oh boy.  I don't remember much after mouthing off to the general, but I do remember a few things.  Mostly having to do with Jack, what he was doing and saying while I was coming -- coming back from the dead.  Mostly doing.  Oh God, what he was doing! Oh boy.  Confused.  Guess saying I wish I was dead would be pretty ungrateful, all things considered.

Ungrateful perhaps, but so much simpler.   All things considered.

They all went into the Light room to try and shut off the disco ball from hell.  That was about half an hour ago.  I'm guessing they won't be coming out of there any time soon.  Which suits me just fine, actually.  I need the time, the space, and as long as they're all standing there happily staring into it they won't be hanging around me, hovering, staring, giving me looks, trying to make me feel --

I thought we said we weren't going to do this.  Just going to sit here and wait for George to send the stuff through.  Sit and stare at the gate.  Wait and not think about stuff.  No WAY are we going to think about Jack and the way it felt, how good it felt when he was touching me, kissing me - said - saying he loved me.

I wish I knew a good joke so I could tell myself one.  Wait - all I need is a mirror.  I'd be laughing for weeks at my own reflection.

Look at the gate.  Look at the gate.  Sit here and stare at it and wait for it to do something. If watched kettles don't boil than what don't watched gates do?  Jack was standing in front of the gate.  Saw him, clear as day.  Just like he looked before, the last time I saw him.  The last time I thought I was ever going to see him.

No - he wasn't the same.  Something was different.  The light?  Saw him in a new light? Then Sha'uri was there and --

I'm looking up at that huge, damnable circle suddenly hating it with an irrational passion.  I wish to God I'd never laid eyes on the thing!  All it's done is take.  I've kept coming back to it, going through it, following the wormhole freeway: path of mysteries, wonder, adventure, discovery; path of sorrow, pain, loss, regret.  Lies.  All of it lies.  A false light shining, luring me, not to the fulfilment of my hopes and expectations, but to --

All right, Daniel, now you're just being stupid.  You can't blame a big piece of inanimate metal for all your problems.  Especially as you knew damned well what it was the first time you laid eyes on it.

IT.   What it was all about - everything you'd done that didn't seem to make any sense at the time; everything that had your professors and your peers and your only living relative telling you that you were NUTS and yet you KNEW you had to do it anyway - what you'd done all of it for.  The meaning of the bell that went off in your head when Catherine approached you with a job prospect working for an organisation you wanted nothing to do with and yet - something inside was screaming you HAD to do it.

Then you saw the Stargate and you knew why.  IT.  Holy Grail time. Meaning of life.  Meaning of MY life. There it was - all big and shiny, the light of my life, glowing, calling to me - my path.  What I was supposed to do.  Go to it - go through it.

With - with him.

No, no, I didn't know that, didn't know any such thing.  We went, had the great adventure, he went home. I stayed.  With the woman I loved.  Stayed with her to live the life I chose to live.  I chose.

I was happy.  It was enough.  It was just scientific curiosity, wanting to test out my theory about the cartouches being addresses - other gate destinations - made me dig the thing out and start trying to dial them up.

It was nothing to do with knowing, I needed to - needed to go through, needed to find something - someone.

I didn't take Jack to the cartouche room because he had to understand there was more to the gate than any of us imagined - we needed to get it working because we had to - had to --

We had to go out there together.

And then - we really had to.  Both of us.  Had to go through that gate together to find Sha'uri and Skaara.  We were together again, Jack and I.  Never could have happened - never would have happened if Apophis hadn't stolen her. She was my excuse for finally doing what I should have --

Should have done the first time?

That's crazy, I didn't need an EXCUSE for being with Jack, just the way it worked out, no way I could have known what was going to happen, that they'd come while we were gone and take her. And yet, I left her, left her behind, went with Jack, why did I - I'd never done that before, never left her behind, she always came with me, everywhere.  Everywhere.

Except there.  She hated that room. Hated --  I didn't mean to hurt anyone.  I only wanted to be with Jack.  Just - Jack --

I don't want to think about the gate anymore.  Don't want to think about Jack either, but just like the big damned naquadah doughnut in front of me, everything keeps coming back to him.  Full circle.  Circular logic?  Logic + Jack.  Now, THAT'S funny.

Something in my head about Jack.  Something important.  Wish I could remember more about what happened earlier.  To tell the truth, most of the past few days are a blur.  I came here to get away from him - okay, not just strictly HIM, wasn't too crazy about facing a lot of people after what I'd just - done to them.  Sort of done to them.  I came here to get some space, some time; to try and figure out what to do about what I learned in Shifu's dream.   Guess getting spaced out on the Light got in the way.  Don't remember doing a lot of thinking.  Don't remember much about anything except talking to Jack.  Looking forward to talking to Jack. Feeling better, after.

Wasn't talking - was yelling.  Wired for pictures and sound? What is that?

Suddenly getting a very bad feeling about something.  Nothing I can put into words, but something happened.  I know it. The problem is that if something bad happened - and the more I think about it, the more likely that seems - while I might not remember it, he does.  I can't fix something if I don't even know what's broken.

I'm thinking I've got some fences to mend that I didn't even know were kicked over.

Great.  Someone just kill me. Bad enough my conscience is making me want to grovel to Sam and Teal'c for what I did to them in a dream they don't even know about, and now I have to make up to Jack for stuff I DID do - and don't know about.

Here's me without my gun.  Just my luck.  Carry the thing around for four years and now when I really need it to blow my brains out where is it? Oh well, all things considered I should be grateful Janet didn't send me over here with my ass hanging out of a hospital gown. Say hello to Doctor Jackson's derriere and good-bye to his dignity.  Have to give her a big kiss when I get back.  I've got one friend left at the SGC.

Jack.  Oh God.  Too much to deal with right now.  Don't know what's going on.  Don't know what I've done - what we've done.  Haven't got a clue how I feel about anything.  I know my name.  That's something.

Chevrons starting to glow.  Special delivery from the SGC.  THANK YOU. I think I've done more than enough floundering in the introspection pool for the moment. Have a feeling the little gizmo I couldn't get working in my lab has something to do with controlling the equipment which generates the Light.  I'll focus on dealing with the gizmo and let all the other stuff – lie --

Oh God, can Jack ever KISS!


“I’ve taken the suite next to Loren’s, Sir.  You and Daniel are just around the corner to me.  I’ve checked around, and the next room after that is along another access corridor, turn the corner, along another corridor, turn the corner.  Quite a hike.  The Goa’uld like their space.  I wouldn’t recommend separating the team to that extent, Sir.”

Daniel stiffens slightly and I give him a weary look.  We ALWAYS do it this way in the field.  Would it hurt him to remember the ‘gentleman’ part of the officer and gentleman equation?  I might be in love with him - I might want to make love with him - but right now, he’s not and he doesn’t.  Hands off.  Possibly permanently.  Point very much taken.  Don’t need to knee me in the groin with it.

“About the watches, Sir?” Carter asks in a carefully neutral voice.

We’re running on empty.  Everybody has had way too much to put up with, Danny most of all.  If I kick off with watches, Daniel will insist on doing his share.

“Daniel?  You SURE the Goa’uld haven’t been near this place?”

“Positive,” he says quietly.  “Not for centuries.”

Avoiding my eyes.  Avoiding ME since we waved off Teal’c.  So I wasn’t subtle.  ‘Three weeks in a palace by the beach’.  Three weeks in a palace we can’t leave.  No place to run, no place to hide.  We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, Daniel and I.  So I said it, in so many words, staring right at him so he got the message.  He got the message.  Hence the big, somewhat nervous, freeze.

“Loren?  You get any visitors?  Any large predators we don’t know about?”

Loren shakes his head.  “N – no, Jack.”

He’s worried we won’t believe him after the way he concealed the truth about the light.  Hell, he’s carrying a big enough load over his parents.  He deserves to have some fun.  He can be my distraction.  He can keep Carter out of my hair while I stalk my elusive archaeologist.

“No watches, Carter.  Just call the SGC for some sensors and set ‘em up at the entry points.” I order briskly.

“Yes, Sir.”  Carter is too professional to show her relief.

“I want you to work with Loren on the technology in this place.  I want to know everything there is to know about the crap that’s addicting us.  I don’t want unexpected symptoms showing up and biting us on the ass when we get home.  Lest we forget, we lost the whole of SG-5 and we came way too close to losing Daniel.”

“SG-5? They’re – they’re dead?  All of them?” Daniel stammers.

Aww, dammit.  Dammit. How could I forget?  Way to go, O’Neill!

“Damn.  Sorry, Daniel.  You were already in a deep coma.  I forgot – so much going on, kinda lost track of events there for a while.”

That has to be the understatement of the century.

“General Hammond didn’t say.”

Carter moves over to Daniel’s side and reaches out a reassuring hand.  “We almost lost you too, Daniel.  I’m sure the general didn’t want to upset you when you were still far from well.  And he knew he could rely on us to break the news,” Carter shoots me a cool look, “sympathetically.”

Shoulda punched her out.  I wanted to.  I didn’t.  But I wanted to.

“It’s okay, Sam.  Really.  Things are a little vague, right now.”

“How much do you remember, Daniel?” Carter asks gently.

“Nothing after General Hammond’s office.”  Daniel gives her an apologetic look from under his lashes, making her sidle even closer and turn up the sympathy a couple notches. “I – I yelled at him.”

“The general?” Carter is astonished.  “That was the withdrawal, Daniel, not you.  Don’t blame yourself,” she advises firmly.  “I almost punched the colonel’s lights out,” she adds merrily. “And he almost punched out mine.  Came ‘that’ close!” She grins, inviting him to share the joke.

Realisation hits Carter at the same time it hits me.

“We’ll have a talk, Daniel.  I’ll fill you in on anything you don’t remember or aren’t sure about.” I say quietly.  “Later.  If you do start to remember, just – I’ll be right there.  With  - you.”

“With me?” Daniel asks suspiciously.

“Research assistant,” I say defiantly. “Not like I can get outta here to do anything interesting,” like watch paint dry, “and you need somebody to help you with all this,” I gesture vaguely at the pillars, “stuff.”  I see the expressions on both their faces and it cuts.  Maybe this addiction is amplifying feelings to boiling point, but those feelings are THERE.  Neither Daniel nor Carter has a lot of respect for my intelligence.  They’ve both made that abundantly obvious in the last day or so.  “Not too swift, huh?  Sorry I –“

“I’d be glad of the help, Jack.” Daniel interrupts.

I suspect he’s re-thinking the minute it’s outta his mouth, but I’m not about to refrain from exploiting his instinctive generosity.

“Sure,” I say casually, shrugging it off.  Not gonna ADMIT they hurt my feelings, and anyway, my mission is accomplished.  I’m going to have Daniel right where I can keep an eye on him, night and day, because he’s going to need me.  If he doesn’t remember by himself, God knows how I’m going to tell him about what went down on that balcony.  He keeps his feelings so private, I feel like I intruded.  I learned something about him – about us – I was never meant to know.  He never chose to tell me. Like he would never have said what he said to me when we were fighting, not willingly.

Still, it’s out there, and we’ve both gotta deal with it.

I want to be here for him.  I want to help him get through this, help him deal with the guilt I know will be hitting him like a ton of bricks, right behind the memories.

I love him.

It’s way past time I was proving that to him, and not to myself.

Just gotta remember to keep my hands to myself.

“Let’s get it done, kids,” I order.  “Loren, go with Carter and do whatever she wants you to.”

I don’t feel even remotely guilty when Loren blushes and stares up at Carter’s face.  Carter gives me a hard look, but hey, she’s got it coming after all those cracks on the beach.  Maybe the ‘Major’ can swallow the chain of command round here but the ‘Doctor’ sure as hell can’t.  I keep thinking about innate superiority for some damn reason.

Last thing we hear is Loren’s excited voice asking if he can take an image.

I turn to Daniel and stroll over to stand in front of him.  “Alone at last,” I say cheerfully. “What have you got for me?”

Back to Part Two / On to Part Four

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