JD-DIVAS: STARGATE SG-1 JACK & DANIEL SLASH FICTION
BY PHOENIX E

NOT FORGOTTEN   BY PHOENIX E


Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: Established Relationship,  Angst, Action Adventure,  Alternate Universe. Drama.
Season/Spoilers: Late Season Two/AU Universe Story Six in the Doppelganger Series
Synopsis: There are some things even death cannot extinguish....
Warnings: No one dies in the story but references to previous canon character deaths.
Length:  195  Kb  Originally completed in 2000.

 

"That's it, Jack, just let it go. Don't worry, I've got you."

Sick. God, he was sick. Sick and being sicker. Ah no – not again…

Jack shuddered as another wave of nausea ripped through him evoking the resulting uncontrollable reverse reaction from his stomach. He lay miserably at the edge of the bed draped over Daniel's lap, one of Daniel's hands supporting his forehead while the other held the pail he was uncontrollably upchucking into. For the fourth time in less than two hours.

This wasn't exactly his idea of a romantic way to spend a Sunday afternoon but at least he had the small consolation of knowing he was not alone in his suffering. A particularly virulentl strain of completely (thank god!) terrestrial flu was marauding through the halls of Stargate Command and had already carried off better than half of the personnel to the feverish realms of lousy, stinking pukedom.

After the first couple of days of the plague the infirmary had become absolutely overrun with absolutely incapacitated sufferers; by the time Jack had succumbed Dr. Fraiser had already asked those who had people who could look after them at home to please – go home!

So here he was, lying in his own bed, being tirelessly and uncomplainingly ministered to by his own personal Florence Nightingale. Who looked like he could use some rest and a shave.

Well, he was a fine one to talk, not being exactly the picture of suave and debonair himself at the moment.

Jack heaved a few times more and at last it was over. He lay limply across Daniel, barely having the strength to even breathe. Daniel put the pail down, stroked his head for a moment and then gently laid him back in the bed. Daniel reached over for the damp cloth on the bedside table, and used it to sponge Jack's feverish face and carefully clean his mouth. Jack tried to muster a weak smile as he blearily looked up at the man leaning over him.

"Kiss me," he croaked.

Daniel favoured him with a slightly crooked smile, lifted Jack's head up and brought a glass to his lips. Crap. More of that 'stuff' the doc wanted him to drink. It seemed a waste of effort to try and drink it – as fast as he got it down it decided it didn't want to stay. At least it didn't taste like total crap the first time 'round, but definitely wasn't any better coming back up..

"I hope you won't be terribly offended if I pass," Daniel murmured. "Come on, now, Jack," he  gently coaxed the man who was making a face and turning his head away from the glass. "I know you don't want to but try and drink some of this. We have to get some fluids into you."

"Getting them into me isn't the problem," Jack grumbled. "Keeping them in me – now that's the problem. Ohhh God – wanna die now…"

"I know, I know," Daniel sighed. "That's it, one more sip. There you go. That's enough for now. Let me just take your temperature again," Daniel said as he gently put Jack's head back down on the pillow.

"Aw you're not gonna stick that thing in my ear again, are you, Flo?"

"It's just for a second, don't be such a baby and stop calling me Flo," Daniel scolded as he reached for the instrument. "Besides, be grateful for advances in medical technology. Not so long ago I would be sticking it somewhere else."

"Under slightly different circumstances that could be fun," Jack mumbled.

"Now never mind any of that," Daniel replied, frowning slightly as he looked at the results registering on the device in his hand. "With the fever you have you're not going to be doing anything but sleeping for awhile yet."

"Spoilsport." Daniel's voice was getting farther and farther away. The room was so hot, and it was spinning. He hadn't realized it could do that…

"This seems a little high to me," Daniel was still speaking but Jack could barely hear him now. "You rest, Jack, go back to sleep. I'll be back in a minute. Just going to dispose of this – and make a phone call."

"Ya wanna check that stuff for my spleen before you dump it? Think I honked up several major organs this time."

"Rest, Jack. Go back to sleep. I'll be with you in just a minute."

Rest. Yeah. He could do that. Couldn't do much else, but he could do that. Cool lips on his forehead. So cool, so soothing. He wished they would stay with him longer, wished they were not suddenly withdrawn, wished Daniel wasn't going away. Where was he going? He was leaving… Leaving…

Don't – don't go… Don't leave me… Daniel…

He was falling into hot, sweltering darkness, feeling lost, confused, so alone. The emptiness swirled about him, clutched at him, sought to smother him. He couldn't see, couldn't breathe, couldn't find his way out of this terrible, lonely place.

Why did you leave me? The words roared inside him, tearing chunks out of him, leaving him dazed, bruised and bloodied. The loss grew bigger, darker, as terrifying as the blackness around him. Why? Why? Why? Why did you leave me?

Jack cried out as he was suddenly bathed in blinding light. Not a comforting illumination, but a harsh, artificial brightness even more lonely than the previous darkness. His hands flew to his assaulted eyes; he blinked furiously, trying to adjust to this new state of being.

He took his hands away. He could see again. As he looked around, taking in his surroundings, he suddenly wished he couldn't.

He knew this place. Had been here before, a long time ago, in a nightmare he had been trying to forget ever since. Tried to forget but never, ever could. Though it no longer existed on the outside, it had never left him on the inside. Persisted, lingered, even though things were better. A black stain like some festering cancer eating into the heart of his happiness. Not forgotten, not forgotten…

Now he was back. Back in this terrible place where everything meaning anything to him had been taken from him.

The flight deck of Klorel's ship. Or whatever the hell they called the control area. Good one Jack, fine time to worry about terminology.

As he recognized where he was Jack felt his knees turning to water. Groping for some sort of support he found the console which faced the triangular outer viewing port and leaned up against it. His eyes were locked to the huge golden doors giving out to the corridor beyond. To the place where – the place where…

He wouldn't go out there. Couldn't go out there. Knew what he would see. What he would find. Couldn't see it. Not again. Dear God, not again, please don't make me see this again…

The doors were opening. Terror gripped Jack at the sight. He wanted to run away, avert his eyes, scream, but could do nothing as the enormous metallic doors continued to slowly open. Just enough to admit a single figure. A man dressed all in black, with sleek, shining chestnut hair, compassionate eyes bluer than the bluest sea, and a smile he would have died himself to see again. Just as he was seeing it now.

"Hey Jack," the man said warmly as he began to walk toward him. "Long time no see."

"Daniel?" Jack blurted out, his voice dangerously tremulous with disbelieving joy. "Danny? It's – you. Really – you?"

"Yes Jack, it's me." The man before him affirmed as he continued to walk toward him. "Danny."

"But – you're …"

"Dead?" Daniel shrugged and grinned shyly at him. "Well, I'm not the same as you are now, that much is true, but I've been around all the same. It's a little different, but not so bad. God, I'm so glad you can finally see me, Jack!"

With a small sob Jack found he could move and swiftly closed the gap between them. He ran to Daniel, threw his arms around him, hugging him fiercely to be as strongly embraced in return.

Dannydannydannydanny don't care how you're back don't ever leave me again…

"I never left you, Jack," Daniel was whispering softly into his ear. "Even when I had to go. A part of me remained, always will remain. What's the best of me lives in you. Will always be with you. Wherever you go, I'll be there. In you. And in – him."

Confused, bemused, happy beyond understanding, Jack pulled back slightly from the embrace so he could look into the eyes of the man in his arms while Daniel continued to speak.

"I've been trying to tell you this for a long time, but you could never hear me. Now, for the first time you've come back here, to this place you never really left, and you can see me – hear me. Now I can tell you what you have to know.

"It's not your fault, Jack. What happened. I think in my heart, I knew I was going to die. That's why I said what I said to you before we left. I couldn't part from you and have you never know. I love you, have always loved you, will always love you and because I do, I want you to understand what happened was not the end. Not the end of love, of me, of you. It wasn't your fault, and it doesn't change a thing.

"Things are different now, Jack. I understand so much more now. When we are encased in flesh we imagine what our senses tell us is all there is to know never dreaming there is so much more. Incarnation is the only state in which consciousness is suspended in one point in space and time and even then – there are moments when the spirit and will can transcend this restriction. You're here, aren't you? I'm sorry if that sounds cryptic, but I don't know any other way of explaining it to you except to tell you even though you couldn't see me or feel me, I have never been very far away.

"We exist in different worlds now, but love remains. Go back to your world, back to your life, go back to him with my blessing. I want you to know – I knew. I've never felt forgotten, never felt as if you loved me less every time you loved him. You couldn't – because we're the same. I can't explain this to you either, but just know it is so. When you love him, you love me too.

"Let it go, Jack. Let all of it go. The pain, the guilt, it's not necessary. Love him. And when you do, know I'm there with you. When you look in his eyes, you'll see me as well. When he says 'I love you' – I'll be saying it too."

"I do love him," Jack said in a small voice. "But I love you too. Never forgot you. Never. Love you both. There were times when… It just seemed… I love him but it seemed untrue to you. Didn't want to forget you and yet… How – how did you know?"

"I know you," Daniel smiled fondly at him as he stroked his cheek. "Like I said, I've been trying to get through to you for a long time. Glad I finally made it."

"Me too," Jack smiled back at him. "Daniel, there is so much I want to tell you, so much I want to say…"

"You're saying it all right now," Daniel returned. "But you have to go back, now, Jack. He's waiting for you, out there, and there is someone waiting for me – here."

Jack looked up, past the man in his arms, back the way he had come, to see a slender, dusky skinned, dark-haired woman standing just inside the open doorway. Well, what do you know about that…

"I guess things have worked out okay in the end after all, huh?" Jack quipped, a faint smile on his face.

"I can't complain," Daniel shrugged slightly, grinning back at him. "Like I said, love is all that matters, and love never dies. Now kiss me goodbye my love, until you kiss me again."

Jack took his Daniel's face in his hands and kissed him, feeling the truth of everything he'd said in the simple feeling of his mouth. He'd only kissed these lips once, and yet he'd felt them move beneath his own a thousand times and more. The way Daniel's tongue darted playfully forward, licking his lip, then deeper, sweeter, so familiar, so beloved, melding, moulding into his own such a perfect fit.

Daniel was here, with him within and also out there – the same, the same, one in the love he had for both of them, one in the essence of love they held for him and were.

As Jack caressed the beloved face and kissed the welcoming lips he felt the pain of their loss pass away. He had Daniel's blessing, and his promise. Nothing was lost, nothing forgotten. Love never dies. His head swirling, filling with the power of Daniel's love he began to feel lighter, fuller, stronger, felt himself moving upward, outward, surging back toward the light, still feeling as if he was holding Daniel tightly, crushing him to him, clasping his warm, firm body tightly to his own, bringing him back up and out with him, not letting go, not losing, never losing, not this time Daniel was his, he was coming home…

"Jack! Jack! Can you hear me? Jesus Jack – I'm sorry – I'll I'll go and call for help!"

"No!" Jack cried out as he clutched the man in his arms convulsively, implacably. Not letting go, never letting go; not now it was finally all right. "NO! You're not leaving me! Not again!"

Jack opened his eyes to find himself cradled in Daniel's arms, his own limbs locked resolutely around the man holding him. Daniel's face was drawn and deeply terrified.

"Jack! You gave me quite a turn there. Your fever spiked all of a sudden, you were delirious, raving, I thought you were going into convulsions…" he frowned, laid his hand on Jack's forehead. "Well, I'll be damned, looks it like it's broken. You're definitely cooler. Good news, Jack," Daniel smiled down at him. Same smile same eyes same Danny. "Looks like you're going to live."

"Don't leave," Jack reiterated stubbornly, still not quite feeling as if he was fully back.

Daniel chuckled and ran his fingers through the sweat-drenched tufts of the hair framing Jack's forehead.

"Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. I never left you, Jack. Been right here with you all the time."

"Good," Jack murmured, his eyes starting to close again, not in delirium but in the beginnings of true, cleansing sleep. "Good. Everything's okay now. Got you back…not going away again…got both of you now…"

Daniel hugged the sleeping man tighter to him as he leaned down and kissed him softly on the forehead.

"I have no idea what you are talking about, Jack, but whatever makes you happy makes me happy too."

Daniel shifted himself onto the bed, stretching his full, tired length wearily onto the mattress, pulling Jack closely to him. He was tired, so tired, but now that Jack's fever had broken he could risk grabbing some sleep. Daniel sighed, closed his eyes and let himself slowly drift into slumber, carried gently into oblivion by thoughts of Jack. And Abydos.

 


 

A distinct, empty feeling in the pit of his stomach getting bigger and noisier finally woke him up. Hungry. He was hungry.

Jack opened his eyes to find himself looking into Daniel's sleeping face. His features were slack with the utter relaxation of profound slumber, his breathing deep, soundless. Man, was he out!

But from the look of him, he could surely use the rest. Jack continued to watch him, realizing he didn't even know what day it was. How long had he been sick, how long had Daniel been there for him, picking him up, wiping him down, cleaning up after him. There'd been way too much of that. He'd been one sick puppy. Danny sure had earned this rest.

Torn between not wanting to disturb him and yet needing to touch him Jack risked reaching forward and lightly brushing his fingers across Daniel's forehead. Just brushing the hair back. His skin was cool to the touch. That was good, Daniel was just tired, nothing more. Wouldn't wish what he just went through on anyone, but especially not Danny.

He continued to trail his fingers downward, brushing them across Daniel's cheek, along his chin, down his neck. There was a faint, sighing quality to Daniel's next exhalation, the corner of his mouth twitched slightly, but he continued to sleep. Emboldened by his success, Jack moved his hand on downward.

He loosed two buttons of Daniel's shirt, just enough to be able to slip his hand beneath the material so he could feel the beating of Daniel's heart under his hand. Jack leaned back on the pillow and closed his eyes, letting the feeling of Daniel beneath his palm swarm up his arm and into his own heart as Daniel's warm nearness enfolded him.

Comfort, reassurance, strength, understanding – sometimes Jack couldn't get his head around all of it. Just how much all of it meant to him. Just how much Daniel meant to him.

He didn't realize he was moving his hand restlessly over Daniel's chest until it heaved suddenly beneath his touch and the sound of soft laughter startled him into opening his eyes.

"Honest to God, Jack, don't you ever think of anything else?"

"Uh – sorry," Jack mumbled guiltily. "Did I – ah – wake you?"

"D-uh!" Daniel grinned. "How am I supposed to sleep with all this rubbing going on? Oh well, I guess as long as you're feeling up to being horny, it means you're on the road to recovery."

"Actually, I'm a little more hungry than horny." Jack admitted with a rakish grin.

Daniel sat abruptly up. "Hungry! That's great! Okay – don't move. I'll make you some soup."

Jack grimaced. "I'd rather have a cheeseburger."

Daniel squinted at him like he was a bug under a microscope. "You are so nuts," he said finally, shaking his head. "Cheeseburger. The man has been upchucking for three solid days and the first thing he says he wants is a cheeseburger. Soup! "Daniel declaimed sternly,  rising from the bed and shaking a finger at Jack. "Clear soup. That's it! If it stays down – and that's a big if – we'll talk about gradually expanding your dietary options!"

"Yes, Flo," Jack bared his teeth at him. "God, I love it when you flash your eyes at me and flare your nostrils like that. Gets me all hot. Go on, stamp your foot! Make me bark like a dog!"

Daniel turned an appealing face to the heavens. "Lunatic. I'm living with a lunatic." He turned and began to walk out of the room, shaking his head and muttering to himself. "I don't get it, I try to be a good person, do the right thing, laugh at all his jokes…"

"Whip me, beat me, make me write bad cheques!" Jack yelled after him. Oh my, he was starting to feel SOOO much better…

 


 

Jack polished off the first bowl of soup, asked for a second and was still trying for the cheeseburger when he finally decided it was time to ask Daniel why he was being so quiet.

So he did.

"When you woke me up, I was in the middle of a dream," Daniel began softly. "I was dreaming about Sha'uri. I haven't dreamt about her for awhile, and suddenly, there she was. I was wondering. Jack?"

"What about?" Jack replied, having a feeling he knew the answer.

"When you get back on your feet, how do you feel about coming to Abydos with me?"

 


 

Danny's staring at the gate, waiting for it to finish dialling like he expects it to turn a different colour or something, doing that thing he does with my sleeve when he's really nervous or bugged. Tugging at it. Doesn't even realize he's doing it. He's a little wired right now. Going to Abydos was his idea and I know he's ready to do it and all but still, it's not every day you come back from the dead.

Me? Right now I'm working really hard at keeping a grin off my face. Not easy. Danny has no idea what's waiting for him on the other side. It's going to be a revelation, in more ways than one. Also gonna be entirely my fault - everything that's about to happen to him. I'm rather proud of that fact.

Seventh Chevron locked and loaded, event horizon in place, I turn back to glance up to the control room and Simmons gives me the high sign he's sent the signal. I guess we can go.

I glance at Danny. He looks like he's going to faint. Takes an involuntary step backward. Swallows, licks his lips and turns to me, those damned blue eyes as big as saucers. It positively kills me when he looks at me like that. I don't even want to go into to what it makes me want to do. Not much of which I can talk about in mixed company.

"What – if they don't want to see me?" he says in a slightly panicked voice, licking his lips nervously again. I'd better get him moving, my mind is starting to … wander…

Not want to see you, Danny? God, as if! I grab him by the arm, lean over and give him what he needs to hear.

"You know I'm right here for you. Every step of the way. You know, don't you?"

He nods, looking at me the same way a kid does. You know the look – the one of absolute faith and trust. The one telling you the little person believes you are omnipotent – can fix everything, take care of everything, chase all the scary monsters away, make all the bad things take a powder. The look they give you until they gradually begin to figure out you're not a god after all, just an ordinary, stumbling Joe Schmo with feet of clay. No big deal, nothing special, with no magical powers to right all the wrongs in the universe, just as powerless against the working of – whatever – as everybody else is. It starts to happen about the same time they find out there's no Santa Claus, and hits them just about as hard.

Danny hasn't figured it out yet. He still thinks I can do anything. I'm alternately flattered by his faith and bowled over by the responsibility. If nothing else, it makes me want to try harder, and that can't be a bad thing. Maybe he's right. Who knows, stranger things have happened. Mind you, I still can't bring myself to tell him about the Easter Bunny. Let him work it out for himself, I can't do everything.

He nods, I pull him on up the ramp and through. I keep my hold on him as we step out the other side. Instincts are right on the money; he's on his way down when he sees what we've done with the gate room in the pyramid.

His eyes are locked to the huge SGC Abydos crest hanging from the ceiling. He whirls around and almost falls over again as the tinny, scraping sound of the iris closing behind us causes him to start and gape at the gate. Stares stunned with that gorgeous mouth hanging open all the way down to his knees at the spit and polished honour guard lined up and waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

He stumbles after me in shock as I pull him down the stairs, giving a little nod to Jordan. Good man. He's been doing a good job. I'm very pleased with what has been happening here. Also very pleased to see how smartly the boys and girls have turned out. All bright and shiny – nice to see goofing off here in the boonies hasn't made them go all soft.

Jordan barks out the present arms command and snaps up a stiff salute to Danny.

"Welcome to SGC Abydos Doctor Jackson."

God, they look good! This is working out so well. Danny is blushing so hard the roots of his hair are turning red. From the look on his face I am going to be getting one big thank you later. And he doesn't even know this is only phase one of the surprise.

I just hope I'll survive his gratitude.

He turns to me, barely able to talk he's so excited. "Youyouyou  – you did it!" he burbles.

I give Major Jordan the nod to dismiss so we can all go back to being regular people again, realising Danny isn't going to be making a lot of sense for a little while.

"Thanks guys!" I call after them. "Really appreciate it!"

Danny's got a right to be excited. After all, this was all his idea. During the long months he spent cut off from his adopted world, trying to deal with the pain of Sha'uri's loss, knowing there was no way he could communicate with his father-in-law and brother, he had a lot of time to think. He's pretty good at that. Thinking, that is. He came up with something which made a lot of sense.

Danny's motivation was primarily a desire to ensure his adopted world was protected, but he was also not unmindful of the benefits Earth could reap from Abydos' primary natural resource – that lovely little Naquadah mine sitting there abandoned ever since we made Ra go bye-bye. The Abydonians had no use for it, we could certainly find one and we had something we could give them in return. Protection – and the benefit of our advanced technology – with certain stipulations.

Danny's no fool. Back on Earth we've already seen too many sad examples of what happens when 'civilization' meets 'primitive, pristine and unspoiled.' Danny was dead set and determined that wasn't going to happen to his people. I've been pretty bull-headed about sticking to that part of the proposal myself, ever since I brought the anthropological team through with me on the first trip.

Other than getting things set up in the gate room - installing the iris, the control and communications console, and wiring the place for sight and sound – we didn't do anything else until the reports and recommendations came through from the team who had by that time been living with the Abydonians for two months. Some of them are still there. Hell, Mason even pulled a Danny – got hitched to one of the girls and permanently changed his address.

I don't know what it is about this place. Something about it calls you, deep inside. Makes you want to stay. I don't understand it, but I certainly have felt it. Love it almost as much as Danny does, not just for the people. That's why I made all of this happen for him, in his place, after he died.

He'd only just gotten around to drawing up the proposal and submitting it to the general. He'd spent months on it – it was solid. Word was it made quite a stir in the Pentagon. I think the boys upstairs were just embarrassed some know-nothing civilian had thought of it before one of their high priced think tank boys had. Whatever, word was coming back it looked like it was going to be a go. As soon as the year was up and the Abydonians re-opened their gate.

Then he was gone. I had to do something to try and deal with it. So, I did. Made sure it happened. For him. A little bit for me too. Mostly for him.

Looking at his face now, I'm so glad I did. Almost as glad as I am he is actually alive and here to see it. Some days it's just so damned fine to be breathing and this sure is one of them.

Mind you, I can't wait to get going. There's more to come.

Jordan gives me a nod letting me know they've sent on ahead. The wheels are in motion. I pull Danny out of the pyramid and we're on our way again, hiking across the desert. Danny is talking faster than the speed of light, firing questions at me, not waiting for the answers. I just nod and pretend I'm listening – well I am – but I can't make out half of what he is saying and don't really need to – not like he's going to let me get a word in sideways or anything.

We walk onward and I figure he is going to keep babbling until we get there or time runs out and the sun explodes, whichever comes first. So I'm pretty much taken by surprise by what he does as soon as we get behind the first sand dune and can no longer see the pyramid.

He lets out a whoop, giving me a couple more grey hairs in the process - like I need 'em – and tackles me, knocking me down into the sand. Before I've got a chance to say 'for crying out loud' I've got a hundred and sixty pounds of excited archaeologist swarming all over me kissing the life out of me. Like I said, Danny can be pretty impressive when he's grateful. Sweet. Very sweet…

Normally I wouldn't be having any problem with this whatsoever but we haven't really got time for this right now. The welcome wagon is on its way. Just another little something I cooked up. Danny doesn't know everybody knows he's here. He figured he was going to just sneak in the back way, say 'oh by the way I'm not dead,' and sneak back out again.

Maybe when Apophis runs for president…

Anyway, I've gotta get him off me before the party happening in my pants gets any more interesting than it already is. Time and a place for everything, Jack, and right now this ain't it. . Ohhhh shit – not the tongue… God,  Danny… don't do… that…

I push him away. "Danny – we're on duty!" I manage to squeak. Well, technically we're not, but the remark has the desired effect. Those big blue eyes go wide with 'omigod what was I doing' as he realizes he's broken 'the rule.'

We're both pretty hot for each other. There's a news flash! Our mutual combustion potential doesn't show any signs of going away any time soon and believe me I'm not complaining, but at times it does pose some problems. So we both sat down, pretty early on, and made an agreement with each other. Imposed 'the rule'. It's really the only one, but we're both pretty committed to sticking to it. No matter what, no exceptions – as long as we are wearing the uniform - it's strictly hands off. Doesn't matter if there is no one else around to see or not.

It's just too easy to slip up if you start developing careless habits. Taking stupid chances. We're both crazy about each other, but we love this whacked out planet-hopping life we're leading almost as much. Certainly enough to do whatever we need to do to keep everything we love – just the way it is.

Danny beams a shy apology at me. "I'm sorry, I forgot," he says ruefully as he rolls off me and gets to his feet. Not half as sorry as I am as I do likewise, a little more slowly, grinning bravely at him as I try to ignore the ache in my crotch. I gotta get this dog a leash it's really starting to lead me around way too much…

I slap him on the back, waggle my eyebrows at him with a 'save it for later' leer, he pushes me back with a disgusted snort and we're on our way again. No big deal. Over and done with. We say a lot to each other without ever saying a word. We never fail to get the meaning across either. Guess we're luckier than most, that way.

We walk on a little farther; he talks some more, asking me questions he wants answers for now. All having to do with the base, nothing to do with what awaits him on ahead. He's thinking about it, I can tell just looking at him, but he doesn't want to know, doesn't want me to say. I think he's scared they may have forgotten about him and doesn't want to find out his fears are true.

Danny hears it first. A low rumble in the distance ahead, that starts to turn into the sound of voices. A lot of voices, chanting something. Over and over again. We can't make out what it is. Can't see what it is yet, there's a huge sand dune ahead of us, blocking our view. Whatever it is, it's beyond.

Danny glances at me, puzzled. I shrug, give him a 'how am I supposed to know' look, and motion to him to follow me. Let's just trot up the side of the dune and take a boo, shall we?

We crest the top of dune and the sound rises up to greet us. We can hear what they are chanting – the living sea of people lapping across the desert in the distance before us. Like a swarm of freakin locusts.

Even I wasn't expecting this. I thought Kasuf, Skaara, they'd bring along a little party of some of Danny's closer friends, meet us part way, have a little private, intimate reunion, allay some of Danny's anxiety about the reception he would get, you know that sort of thing. But I can't believe what I'm seeing.

There must be thousands of people in that crowd. Every single living soul on Abydos must be down there, in the throng, surging forward to meet us, a cry of "Daniel! Daniel! Daniel!" pouring from thousands of throats, all mingling together to create one, unstoppable roar.

All this for a guy who still has a hard time believing his best friends like him.

Danny's staring, breathing really hard, a little too hard, a strange, frightened expression on his face. I don't get it – I don't understand what the problem is – until he gives a little cry and jerks around, making ready to bolt.

No way pal, not going to happen. You're not going to run away from this one.

They like you. They really, really like you. Deal with it.

I grab him, hug him hard, he cries out, struggling against me, then gives up, falling into my embrace, hugging me back. I squeeze him until he stops shaking. When at last he pulls back from me his eyes are shining, his face bright red with embarrassed pleasure. It's sinking in, he's getting it. He still can't believe it, but he's getting it.

He tries to look away from me, knowing everything he's feeling is pouring out of his eyes. I grab his face in my hands, still not letting him run away from what is happening. A single tear slips from the lash, runs down his cheek.

"I – I guess they missed me," he says in a quiet, horribly self-conscious voice.

"Missed you? Danny – they love you."

Sometimes the truth is the hardest thing of all to believe. As I look into the eyes of the best person I have ever known I can see how far away he yet is from being able to believe. In spite of everything he sees. In spite of the sound of a multitude chanting his name. Well, at least he got the chance to see it. As for the rest of it, we'll work on it. Together.

I turn him back around to face his people. They're still coming. A cry goes up. They've seen us. A single figure breaks from the crowd, starts streaking across the distance yet stretching between us. It has to be Skaara. The figure continues to run, waving frantically at us, an excited stream of mingled English and Abydonian issuing forth.

Yup. Definitely Skaara.

Daniel sees him too. His self-consciousness forgotten, he cries out excitedly, waves back, and takes off. After sliding quickly down the side of the dune he races across the sand, making a beeline for the boy making straight for him. They meet, embrace fervently. I start down after them.

Welcome home, Dannyboy.

 


 

Sha'uri had such beautiful eyes. Deep, dark, sparking with life. How many times did I lose myself in them, seek to plumb the depths of them, wonder at the good fortune which had so smiled upon me whenever they would look at me the way they did a week ago.

I know it was a dream but it was so real. She was so real. She danced into my embrace, laughing, the silvered, melodic trilling which used to delight me so. Wound her arms around my neck, mussed my hair the way she always did, as she turned those lovely, lovely eyes upon me and said, "live, my Dan-yiel. Be happy. Live and love for me."

It's like I can feel her still. Right beside me. Here, now, even with all these people, the noise, laughter, uninhibited revelry. Jack's off colour comments… I can feel her at my side  and she's laughing. Just as if she was the one holding me instead of the one who also shares my heart.

I can't believe how drunk I am. That's what it is. What it has to be. I am well and truly – potted. And the party is only beginning.

I can't believe Jack. Can't believe what he's done for me. I was so afraid they wouldn't want me. I wasn't even sure if they would remember me. Jack keeps telling me I really have to get over this fundamental belief in my own basic insignificance.

He should talk about inferiority complexes. He puts himself down a lot, says when it comes to smarts compared to me he's a forty-watt light bulb standing next to the sun. That's just so not true. When it comes to knowing what's really important he's one of the smartest people I have ever met. He has a hard time seeing it that way though. The same way, I guess, as I have trouble seeing I mean more to people than I am able to accept.

I'm home. Nothing could have been a more solid assurance of that fact than the welcome Jack arranged for me. All those people… I still can't take it in.  All of them, coming to meet me, moving across the desert in a living black wave stretching beneath us as far as the eye could see, all coming – for me. Because of me.

I was swarmed when the crowd reached me, barely had time to hug Kasuf and see the tears streaming down his cheeks before I was literally lifted bodily and carried back to the village. I couldn't even see Jack for all the people, but knew he was there somewhere.

We've pretty much been partying ever since. The celebration we had after the death of Ra lasted five days. If the enthusiasm of the throng about me is any indication this bash is going to go on long after that. Shortly before we left Jack told me he had booked us off for two weeks. I wondered at it at the time why so much time, but it's starting to make a lot more sense now.

Mind you I expect to die of alcohol poisoning around day six so the whole question will be rather moot…

Jack is mumbling something obscene into my ear again. He has such a way with words. He's sitting behind me, legs on either side of me, strong arms wrapped around me hugging me to his chest. Just as well, if he wasn't holding me up I'd be flat on my face.

I lean back against him, feeling his chin on my shoulder, his lips close to my ear. I've barely recovered from my reaction to his last filthy remark when he lets another one fly in a low, leering voice. I burst into hysterical laughter once more and I feel him pull me back slightly, hugging me with his legs as well as his arms as he gets off on my response to his ribald enthusiasm.

We're completely safe here. To be ourselves, to freely show our affection for each other. We're among friends, people who know us, love us, and could not be happier for us in our good fortune. Besides, they see nothing wrong in what we feel for each other.

The Abydonians are no longer slaves, but generations of being treated like cattle bred for nothing but labour have left their mark on the collective psyche of these amazing people. They have no time for petty moral judgements, for imposing arbitrary rules of conduct upon each other.

Life is a precious and fleeting gift they embrace fiercely with both hands, a sweet nectar to be snatched at every opportunity and gulped freely however it comes. They savour with a fierce, defiant avidity learned from centuries of living under the shadow of the certainty every second of existence is completely conditional upon the whims of a capricious deity who could snuff them out at any time - just because.

Ra is dead and gone. The people are free now, in control of their own fates and destinies in a way their ancestors could never dream of. Yes, freedom is theirs but the hard won lessons of the past remain. The scars linger, perhaps never to totally heal. They live what they know, the way they have been taught. Life is fleeting and all the more precious for its brevity, happiness a gift beyond price. However it comes you take it. You don't question it. You don't presume to tell it in what form it should – and should not come.

Speaking of life, there is a lot of it happening all around us at the moment. I can feel Jack stirring restlessly behind me as the erotic current thrilling through the room begins to spiral around us as well. Jack hasn't had as much exposure to the Abydonian attitude of unconcerned abandon when it comes to public displays of certain types of affection. A very uninhibited people. As I said, when happiness comes, you take it. Odds are the next fellow is much to busy with his own particular pursuit to wonder what you are up to anyway.

I feel Jack's hand stroking my hair; he brushes it aside to kiss the side of my neck. His lips are warm and electric upon my skin. I close my eyes and shiver with delight. He places his hand on my stomach and begins to move it slowly back and forth, rubbing me with sensual, tantalizing slowness. My senses swim, desire swirls, shooting teasingly, the smell of smoke and incense, rich food, the sounds of music, of laughter and softer deeper moans all around me jumble and tumble about in my alcohol-soaked brain.

I've never been more happy. Never felt more loved, wanted, safe as I do at this moment. Joy, love, security wrap around me as tangibly as the reality of Jack's arms. Abydos is the safest place in the universe – these people – the dearest. The only thing missing – the only people not here whose presence would give me the satisfaction of knowing everyone I love is here with me in this moment are Sam and Teal'c. And Sha'uri.

And yet, I know she's here all the same. Maybe not in the flesh. Maybe not so as to be seen. But she's here. I can see her in Kasuf, in Skaara, a piece of her in every face in this room. Her people dance, feast, drink, laugh and love in her name, celebrating her life as they celebrate my return to life. We know as long as one of us lives to be able to speak her name she is not forgotten. She lives in us, and for her we continue to live, as she would want.

Behind closed lids my eyes see her once more. For a fleeting instant she dances before my inner vision, holding her hands out to me, smiling as she says, "live, my Dan-yiel." I hear her laugh. She's laughing at me. She loved to laugh at me. I loved to listen…

"Hey Danny," Jack's voice sounds in my ear again, low and husky. And filthy. "Wanna see how far I can stick my dick down your throat?"

I gasp, hiccup, choke; the laughter can't tumble out of me fast enough. My chest heaves uncontrollably as I try to laugh and breathe at the same time and am not too successful at either. Jack rocks me and roars, tears stream down my face, his arms are fast and firm around me. I'm dizzy, giddy, and delirious with joy and drunken euphoria.

As I sprawl limply against him the paroxysm of laughter possessing me gradually subsides. I can open my eyes again although everything around me is still pretty blurry. No,  that's not right everything is fine - I'm the one who is blurry.

My eyes slide back to Kasuf and Skaara, both sitting close to us, a little to our left. They have been watching us. Kasuf in particular has been studying us for most of the evening. Good man, Kasuf. Truly a father to all of us, his simple, profound wisdom and understanding available in full measure to all who seek it and him.

I've missed him very much. Felt my failure to save his daughter most keenly in what it would mean to him. He's been a father to me like the one who gave me life never had a chance to be. I look at him again, and see something in his eyes I don't understand. It's not unlike fatherly pride, but it's also more than that. More than love, certainly understanding.

He looks at me, looks at Jack. Leans over and whispers something to Skaara. My brother grins at me, the deeply mischievous, playful, knowingly innocent grin uniquely his own. After giving his father a respectful nod he rises to his feet and slips away into the crowd. Something is going on. If I wasn't so drunk…

Kasuf sidles up to us, putting a hand on both of our heads in a brief, blessing gesture. "Your happiness brings great joy to my eyes and heart," he says sincerely, looking at me, but mostly at Jack. "I wish to thank you, O'Neill, for bringing the son of my heart back to me."

I can't see Jack's face, but I can hear by his voice how touched he is. "He's part of you," my lover replies. "It was the least I could do."

"As you are now part of him," Kasuf continues. 'This much is obvious to these old eyes. That makes you part of us now, as well."

I've heard Kasuf use this tone of voice before. He's about to make a statement. Say something important. I wish my head was clearer, so what was going on wasn't slipping by me. Jack seems much more in the frame than I am.

"Perhaps it is proper now to call you son as well," Kasuf continues. "Would this please you?"

Jack hugs me closer. "I want what Danny wants," he replies fervently.

Kasuf is looking at me again. His eyes are kind and full of love. He cups my cheek with his hand as he speaks again.

"Goodson, you brought my daughter much happiness. She would wish the same for you now. What is the wish of your heart? Would you have this man? I will say the words for you if that is what you desire."

I gape at him, trying to get my mind around what he is saying. The – the words? Then I see Skaara. He's standing behind his father, the cup in his hand. Suddenly I understand what Kasuf is saying to me. What he is offering me. Offering both of us…

"Whatever you want, Danny," Jack murmurs into my ear.

Emotion wells up in my throat, swelling it. I can't speak, can barely breathe. It's too much, and not enough. Everything I've wanted since I knew the truth of what I feel for him, and yet never dared let myself believe I could have.

We've both lost so much, seen dreams formed in innocent trust and expectation turn to disappointment, regret and sorrow. We've both lived, loved, watched a part of our heart and soul depart from us. We've both grieved, cried, wanted nothing more than an ending to pain and suffering. Both swore to ourselves we would never love again.

And yet, here we both are, standing on the threshold of another dream. Mad to even consider it, in light of everything that has already happened? Perhaps. But then, even at the best of times life itself is a dream, a kind of madness which teases us, torments us, provokes us, dares us to find the key which will make sense of it all.

Maybe there is no ultimate key to everything – no definitive answer. Maybe it just is – what it is. Whatever you make of it, whatever happens to you. Maybe the only meaning, the whole point of it – is simply - to live. The best way you know how.

One thing I know for sure, any living I do from this moment forward I want to do with him. I haven't known a lot of things in this life I am absolutely sure of, but this is one of them. Live and love, Sha'uri said to me. Life and love. What it's all about. All summed up in him.

That 'meaning of life stuff' I've been searching for all my life, Jack? Hot damn, I think I've found it.

I still can't speak but I have no doubts as I lean my head back against him, turning my face toward his neck. I nod my head, moving it up and down against him and he puts his face into my hair saying in a thick voice, close to breaking, "Well, you heard the man…"

 


 

They take us to the same place where Sha'uri first came to me. Giggling, laughing, patting us fondly, our family, friends, witnesses and well wishers. It's fitting we signify the beginning of our true oneness in this distant place which first brought us both together.

Jack supports me strongly as I stumble next to him, my head fumbled with a potent mixture of strong drink and even stronger desire. I feel his heat rising, scorching my skin as I clutch his waist and feel him tremble with wanting me.

I giggle as he lays me gently down on the bed, feeling foolishly nervous, hopelessly drunk, impossibly happy. I try to reach out to clasp him, but I can't get my hands to work. He catches them, presses them to his lips, chuckles softly and says, "Christ, Danny, you're tanked. What am I going to do with you?"

"Whatever you want," I say. At least, I think that's what I say. It could have been, "My dog's name is Spot," from the way it sounded from where I'm lying.

He laughs softly again as he sits down beside me and slowly, carefully begins to undress me. I'm getting impatient, still trying to grab him, unintentionally slowing down the process as my jerky, flailing movements frustrate his good intentions. He leans down, kisses me wetly.

"Settle down, can'tcha?" he scolds. "Keep helping me like this and we'll be here all night." He finishes in spite of my assistance, settling me beneath the blanket. I miss him briefly, and try to get out of bed again to find him. He catches me in the nick of time as I am on my way to the floor, puts me back in bed and slides in beside.

"Chill, willya?" he whispers as he strokes my face. "Yer gonna hurt yourself. I was just getting naked. That's it, Dannyboy you're cut off. No more Kool-Aid for you. C'mon now, sweetie, close your eyes. You're in no shape to do anything but sleep this one off."

That's what he thinks. He's so close now I can't possibly miss him and I don't. A few minutes of dedicated lingual massage of the interior of his mouth and he's not much interested in sleeping. I might be drunk but I'm not that drunk…

His moans a perfect counterpoint to the sounds of my own excitement, he moves over me. Full, long, heavy, hard, his urgent reality covers me, presses upon me. Electrifies me. My heated skin thrills with his touch, aching for more. My mouth is full of him, my mind expands with swelling sweetness, carrying me up, bearing me away on wave after undulating wave of pleasure.

I feel his deft, knowing, gentle hands on me, positioning me, preparing me; he is inside me with such tender skill I feel him already filling me before I know what he has done. He rocks me with the power of his love, his firm, steady strokes in and out stoke the fire inside me as his hand moving in time upon me sends me screaming on a journey with only one destination.

As I fall back fainting, returning from that distant country of unimaginable pleasure I feel him shudder with the force of his own release. A soft sigh escapes him; he collapses on top of me, finding my mouth, covering it with wet kisses of gratitude. He wraps his arms around me, rolls onto his back, pulling me with him. He takes a moment to settle me comfortably next to him, tucking my head into the crook of his neck. We lie quietly. He strokes my hair; I listen to the sound of his deep, level breathing.

He laughs suddenly, briefly, the sound making his chest vibrate. "I guess this means we're official," he says softly, kissing the top of my head. "Not that we can tell anybody. I hope you didn't have your heart set on a big wedding."

"And this wasn't?" I return sleepily. "Did you happen to notice the size of the guest list?"

"Cripes, no kidding," he chuckles. "Mighty glad I'm not paying for it. "You okay?"

"Yeah." I try to stifle a yawn and end up sneezing. "Sorry. How about you?"

"Never better. You realise of course, as soon as everyone has grabbed a couple of hours of shut-eye they are all going to get up and go at this again. The way these guys party I figure the additional excuse to get down has added at least another week to the whoopee making."

"But Jack, we don't have that much leave."

"Whatcha worried about?" Jack says as he kisses me again. "We're not going to make it through three more days of this, never mind three weeks."

"Oh. Well, there's nothing to worry about then."

"Trust your old man," Jack sighs as he hugs me tight. "Jack won't steer you wrong."

Believe me Jack, I'm counting on it.

 


 

Of all the Stargates on all the planets in all the galaxies in the entire universe why did she have to go and walk through THIS one. And why this particular, lousy, stinking minute. Why not five minutes before? Five minutes after - either way they could have been safely on their way back home without ever having known Apophis' fancy woman was on her own strolling around the universe acting like she owned the frigging place.

Okay, she wasn't exactly on her own. Having a half a dozen Jaffa backing you up tended to substantially reduce the impression of vulnerability. Still, they could probably take them. They had the advantage of surprise. But why bother?

Jack peered cautiously around the base of the statue he was crouching behind. Carter was covered a couple of feet behind him. Teal'c was squatting behind the low wall a little ahead. Daniel? Where the hell was Daniel? Jesus Christ…

They had just wrapped up this little jaunt to D4S-123. Well, been asked to leave would be little closer to the truth. The locals had not been happy to see them. Seemed downright terrified, not to put too fine a point on it. As he risked another glance at the gaudily clad woman standing in front of the huge stone building housing the Stargate lah-di-dahing it about and yammering something at her Jaffa, Jack had a feeling he knew what the locals had been so scared of.

Is this where Apophis had been hiding the little woman since he'd fallen on hard times? She didn't seem too impressed with slumming it. Well, things are tough all over; Jack just wished she would shut up already and move it on out so they could get to the gate and get the hell out of here. He didn't plan on acting on it in the here and now, but knowing she was here was a useful piece of information. Decide what, if anything to do with it once they had some time and space for more considered reflection and planning.

However, right now, he didn't want any trouble. Too many locals around. They started an unnecessary firefight sure as shooting by-standers were going to get hurt or killed. So they'd just lay low right were they were at until she was gone. Then they could 23-skidoo the hell out of here.

Still wished he knew where Daniel was. He couldn't see him anywhere. Daniel was the only one who'd actually made it into the temple or whatever the heck it was, had seen the Stargate was already activated, seen the first Jaffa come through and had warned them. Jack could've sworn he'd come back out again, but now he was wondering if Daniel was still inside. If so, he hoped he had the sense to stay hidden and out of trouble.

This is Danny we're talking about, Jack. Daniel 'Trouble is my Middle Name' Jackson. For crying out loud, Daniel, where the HELL are you?

Jack flashed a hand signal at Carter and Teal'c telling them to just – sit tight. It looked like – oh crap – what the hell was this now? A group of locals were commencing to bow and scrape their way toward Goa'uldette and her happy gang of wandering minstrels. It was starting to look as if the show was going to run a little longer than he'd originally anticipated. Well why not? Why shouldn't the universe go out of its way to inconvenience him? Sonofabitch – hope the home-grown sycophants don't snitch on them!

A slight movement from the doorway of the stone structure caught Jack's eye. Ah, one mislaid archaeologist who was going to find himself in a shitload of trouble from his CO slash SO if he didn't lay low better had just been located. Danny was peeking around the massive stone lintel, his pistol in his hand.

His pistol in his hand?

Danny, don't you dare do anything stupid. You MOVE out of that building and if the Jaffa don't get you – I sure'n hell will! Toasted either way, dearheart. Trust me!

What happened next went down very quickly and made very little sense. Lady G started looking around, as if she knew something was up. She took a step back from the Jaffa, looked around some more, then cast a beady eye back in the direction of the building behind her.

Crap – she's made him!

Daniel froze, staring at the woman who was staring at him. Jack signalled to his team-mates to prepare to fire and brought his MP-5, up, sighting on the nearest Jaffa. The second she made a sound he was ready to rip.

Apophis' Queen turned her head back. Danny ducked out of sight. Jack's finger tightened around the trigger…

Nothing. She didn't say anything. Just stared at the bunch of locals sprawled in the dust before her. Jack eased off on the trigger. She took another step back. What was going on here?

That sound – that was the Stargate! Suddenly Danny shot out of the temple, moving so fast Jack thought he was hallucinating. Before any of the Jaffa could react he'd gotten to Lady G, had grabbed her from behind and put his pistol to her head. After issuing a warning statement to her Jaffa he started to quickly pull her back into the building. The Jaffa made as if to follow them but she gobbled some Goa'uld at them and they threw their staff weapons to the ground. Danny hustled the woman up the stairs and they were swallowed up by the dark interior of the building.

The Jaffa scrambled to retrieve their staff weapons and give chase. As soon as they were clear of the locals Jack gave the signal to open fire.

 


 

The Cimmerian sun was low in the sky as they emerged from the event horizon. The woman in his arms started to suddenly, violently struggle. Daniel grimly hung on, waiting for the beam to take them to the Hammer, trying to remember if his will was current and up to date. He certainly hoped so, because he felt on very firm ground expecting as soon as Jack caught up with him, he was pretty much going to be the very, very, very late Doctor Daniel Jackson.

Extremely, terminally tardy.

The second he'd seen her walk through the gate he remembered who she was. He'd only seen her once, during that first trip to Chulak on their failed mission to rescue Sha'uri, but she was as striking and unmistakable now as she had been then, standing beside Apophis as his newly implanted queen.

This was the woman who'd had the terrible misfortune of being selected for the dubious honour Sha'uri had also been in the running for. The woman who had been chosen for a living death after Sha'uri had been passed by. Who probably would've given anything to have died in her place in order to have been spared the life she was now forced to lead.

She was a hauntingly beautiful woman. It was impossible to ascribe a definite racial type to her, based on her features. Her long, luxuriant snow-white hair was a startling contrast to her mocha coloured skin. Her enormous green eyes had an oriental cast to them, but her features were definitely Caucasian. Except for her full, lush sepia-coloured lips. She was very tall, with a strong, athletic carriage. There was an elusive feral quality to her movements and expressions which told him whatever she had been before the Goa'uld had taken her, she had not lived a life of pampered luxury.

As he hid in the abandoned temple and watched her walk past him Daniel had first felt panic and then a growing sense of outrage. Anger for what had been done to Sha'uri, rage at what was still happening to this poor woman against her will.

As he crouched in the darkness waiting for the party to leave so the rest of the team could join him Daniel became seized with a feeling of responsibility to the woman who had just walked by him. As if there was a connection between them he did not understand. Some deep, unconscious reason why he had to do something to help her. Obligation. Duty. An oath – sworn and as yet unfulfilled.

It made no sense, and yet, there it was.

There was a bond between them. Daniel didn't know why he felt this so strongly, but as he crept forward and risked looking out at her from the shadows of the doorway the urgent, inner conviction of of obligation steadily mounted. There was something he had failed to do. Something he'd never had a chance to do. Some wrong he'd never been able to put right.

He was being given an opportunity to make it right. A second chance to do what he had failed to do before.

But what? He'd never even met this woman before! Catching her debut appearance as Apophis' Queen didn't really count as an introduction.  Daniel knew he didn't know her and consequently didn't owe her. And yet – he did. He just did. The feeling wouldn't go away and got stronger with each passing second. Until it was a screaming siren of affronted justice inside him. He had to do something. Had to help her. Sha'uri would want him to.

Then the tall, white-haired woman turned, looked him straight in the eye, her entreating gaze  appealing to him as clearly as if her lips had actually moved and spoken the words.

Help me. Free me.

That's when he knew what he had to do. That's why they were here now, on Cimmeria.

His prisoner began to struggle desperately against his restraint like a crazed thing. A torrent of Goa'uldish abuse spewed from her lips in echoing, dead tones animated by hysteria and fury. Daniel clenched his teeth and fought to maintain his hold on her as the obelisk before them suddenly roused itself, faintly singing its low song of power rapidly banking to completion, preparing to launch the probing beam of light which would spirit them away to their final destination.

"Here we go," Daniel muttered under his breath as the light finally took them.

 


 

Jack knew he probably should have just stood put by the gate and waited for Daniel and the ex-Goa'uldette to come back down to him, but that would have meant cooling his heels for hours. Waiting. Gouging his eyes out with an ice pick would have been more fun. Jack wanted to get to Daniel ASAP, even though that required him to try and remember the route they'd taken down from the mountain the first time they'd come here and retrace it. In the dark.

Well, seeing as how he didn't happen to have an ice pick he'd decided to give it a go.  Which was why he currently was where he was now, somewhere on route to a point B he wasn't sure where the heck it was from a point A he wasn't entirely certain he remembered how to make his way back to.

He wasn't lost, merely temporarily geographically challenged.

He didn't quite need it yet but Jack pulled out his flashlight and started banging it lightly against his thigh as he walked. His anger over Daniel's unexpected defection did not entirely eradicate his concern for his other team-mates. Who by now should be safe and sound back at the SGC.

Carter had been slightly injured in the fracas back on D4S-123. A glancing blast from one of the staff weapons had shattered the side of the column she'd been using for cover, sending stone chips and shards flying. Some had caught her in the arm and nicked the side of her face. They weren't major injuries, and as Jack hadn't deemed the archaeological retrieval mission an emergency and he was more than confident he could round Daniel up on his own he'd told Carter to stand down, get herself back the the SGC and get  looked at.

As soon as they had mopped up the opposition Jack told Teal'c to take her home while he went after Daniel. Though he was sure she was, Jack knew he would be easier in his mind when he knew for sure she was okay.

He'd sent one half of SG-1 home after telling them he was going to Cimmeria to retrieve the truant quarter. What he didn't say was whether or not he was going to bring Daniel home alive – or dead. He hadn't made his mind up yet, and he had several long hours ahead of him trudging uphill in darkness to consider his decision.

Yeah, he was pretty honked at Daniel, but at the same time he couldn't help but shake his head in grudging admiration at the vast humanity of the man. It drove Jack crazy the things he loved the most about his partner were also the things which made him the craziest.

Jack stomped onward through the lengthening darkness becoming more furious and frustrated, realising when he caught up with him he was going to have to chew Daniel's head off - for doing the right thing.

No, that wasn't strictly correct. It wasn't what he had done; it was the way he'd done it. Daniel's heart was definitely in the right place. It was his head that needed a little kicking in. To facilitate the insertion of the common sense which it seemed – still – to be woefully lacking.

Jack's anger stemmed from a deep feeling of betrayal, a belief, engendered by Daniel's actions, his lover didn't trust him. Hadn't looked to him to back him up, hadn't asked him, had just assumed he wouldn't – and had gone off half-cocked on his own and done it anyway. That hurt, and yet……

The more Jack thought about it as he walked through the darkness with only the Cimmerian stars for company the more he had to face the fact he wasn't sure if maybe Daniel hadn't been right. If Daniel had come to him seeking help and approval for his impromptu rescue mission would he have agreed to it? Would he?

Or would he have said, 'forget it – nothing to do with us. Not our problem.' All he'd wanted to do was get the team home with no complications. Getting Goa'uldette away from her playmates and bringing her here would have been – a complication. An extremely risky one and possibly, an unwarranted one. What would he have said? Jack honestly didn't know.

Weighing the benefits of coming to the aid of a stranger against the risk the venture would have placed his team in – even for Daniel's sake - what would he have decided? Jack realised he was entering the shadowy realm of moral ambiguity wherein he really hated to tread.

This stuff was never cut and dried. There never seemed to be a 'right' answer. Most of the time there never was an 'ideal' solution. Only the best one you could come up with given all the variables and which usually involved doing what needed to be done in such a way as to minimise the damage. As much as possible.

However, here is where he and Danny abruptly parted company. There was never any ambiguity whenever Danny looked at things. There was only right and wrong. Black and white. What needed to be done, no matter what. Danny would throw himself off a cliff to save a total stranger if that was what needed to be done and never think twice about it. He saw – knew – and did. Without any heed for personal consequences, complications, ramifications or fallout. It was the very heart of what he was. It was what had gotten him killed on that first mission to Abydos, saving the life of the man who now was contemplating whether or not to hand him his head when he got his hands on him again.

That unerring instinct for 'correct action' and the driving compulsion to follow through and do - no matter what was also the singular quality Daniel possessed which had saved ALL their asses and their entire world.  More than once.

Jack realised when Danny had gone and grabbed Goa'uldette he'd done it because to him it had been the right thing to do. He'd simply seen what needed to be done and had just gone  and done it. Asking for his CO's  help or fearing he would impede him in his purpose had not been a factor in the decision. Daniel probably hadn't even thought of him and how he'd react to his impromptu rescue mission  until well after the fact.

Bet he was thinking about him now, though. Bet that was all he was thinking about. No doubt savouring what he imagined where his last few hours of life. Well, until a few moments ago, Daniel wouldn't have been far wrong thinking that way. But now?

Sighing, Jack fumbled at his vest for his comm, keyed the instrument and spoke into it.

"Danny? You reading me?"

A brief silence. Then Daniel's voice issued forth from the device in his vest pocket.

"Jack." Cautious, guarded. Wary, even.

Gee, wonder why?  Jack snorted to himself.

"So, howzitgowan?" Jack continued in a light voice. "We bagged our quota of damsels in distress for the day, or you have any more heroics planned I should know about?"

"I'm sorry…" The tone of Daniel's response was deeply contrite, but not ashamed. "I know it was stupid and if you scrub me from the team for the rest of my life I won't blame you but –"

"But you had to do it – yeah, I know," Jack replied in a tired voice, cutting off the rest of Daniel's response. "I'm not saying I approve, not saying that at all, but I understand."

Jack walked on through the long ensuing silence. He smiled to himself as he tried to visualise the stunned look no doubt on currently owning  Daniel's face. Well, Daniel Jackson wasn't the only one in this world full of surprises.

"You're not mad at me?" Daniel finally replied in a slightly suspicious voice.

"No Danny, I'm not," Jack replied to the comm. "I'll confess I'm still not pleased with what you did, though. That's not going to pass without some consequences. Hammond will have more than a few things to say to you as well. My regards to the lady, but you are still in some pretty deep doo-doo here."

"Yeah, I figured,"  Daniel sighed.  "Jack, I'm sorry if this sounds completely uncontrite of me but whatever happens to me it will have been worth it. Speaking of Luena, when you meet her, I'm sure you'll see what I mean."

Loo-EE-na? Ooooohh – so it's LOO-EE-NA now, is it?

"Well, you'd better tell her you're a married man," Jack growled into the comm.

A peal of laughter was his only answer. Jack frowned at the instrument in his vest pocket and quickened his pace.

Luena. Huh! Loo-EE-na! What kind of a stupid name is Loo-EE-na?

Jack realised he was muttering, walking even faster. He just suddenly felt this need to get to Danny as soon as possible. No reason. He just… wanted to. His sudden, urgent desire for a reunion had nothing to do with the fact Daniel was out there… in the dark… alone. With Loo-EE-na…

Nothing to do with that whatsoever.

It wasn't that he didn't trust Danny or anything, but he had seen Loo-EE-na and she wasn't exactly chopped liver, there was the whole gratitude thing probably going on…

Really, he did trust Danny but didn't know her from a hole in the ground and Danny wasn't exactly too hard on the eyes either, and he did tend to be a bit of a babe in the woods when it came to certain things – noticing when women had the hots for him was one of them and who knew what might be going through her head, they were out there all alone, it was a gorgeous night, stars shining, moon was starting to rise… oh crap…

Cursing under his breath, Jack started to run.

 


 

To borrow one of Danny's favourite phrases: Déjà vu.

Seems it wasn't so long ago we were right smack in the middle of a homecoming party. Well, here we are again. Luena's people are every bit as glad to see her, but they have a completely different way of expressing it than the Abydonians. Not that they don't really get into life, they just seem to approach the whole thing from a much more contemplative point of view. Which means a lot of thinking – a hell of a lot of talking.

Danny's happier than a pig in shit. Died and gone to heaven. Plunked down in the midst of a whole passle of people who think just like him. The whole lot of 'em all sitting in a big circle tossing around this 'higher purpose higher meaning' stuff until their brains implode and start dripping out their ears. Well, that's okay, let him have his fun. Me? I'm quite happy sitting here enjoying the view.

He did try and explain all this 'dreaming' stuff Luena was talking about as we were going back down the mountain. He said it sounded like what this anthropologist named Castanets or something  had been taught by a guy named don Juan. This guy Castanets wrote a whole bunch of books about it, apparently. I always thought don Juan was some kind of world class Romeo, shows you what I know.

I said he did try and explain it but to be honest, I wasn't paying much attention. Not that I didn't appreciate him making the effort, but most of my energy was going into trying to win over the warrior princess before she decided to try and take my head off. It wasn't exactly love at first sight. As hard as that might be to believe. She really had this attitude thing going, but to be fair, I guess I did too. Turns she was very grateful to Danny for having freed her, as I'd pretty much figured, but she wasn't interesting in jumping his bones. Determined to keep them in one piece was more what she had in mind. That much we certainly have in common.

Still, it was a bit of relief to get it straightened out and determine she wasn't determined to make a play for Daniel. Because to be honest, if it had come down to me having to fight her for him, I'm not completely convinced I could take her.

She sure was a sight coming at me the first time. Had a new look and a whole new attitude to go along with it. Danny had left us with an over-done version of a sulky Cleopatra and come back with this wild-eyed, muscle-bound, lean, mean, no-accessories-included six-foot Amazonian package of unbridled female fury. She also seemed to have taken custody of his knife – no doubt what she had used to hack her dress off mid-thigh. I didn't ask and wasn't particularly interested in finding out if she knew any other ways to use it.

I wish I could say I won her over with my good looks and boyish charm, but the fact we were all getting along pretty famously by the time we made it back to the gate was entirely Danny's doing. That boy could charm water buffaloes out of trees, next time you have a problem with one, give him a call. If he isn't too busy saving the world I'm sure he'll be more than happy to lend you a hand.

It really kills me to admit this and will never do it to his face, but turns out – once again – Danny knew what he was doing. De-Goa'ulding Xena here is a big bonus for our side.

Hammond is going to be a very happy man when he finds out what we have here. Nothing less than a very co-operative and surprisingly emotionally balanced young woman who has the memories of Apophis' queen in her head and who is more than willing to tell us what she knows. She seems to be able to get to it pretty easy, if the stuff she has already told us is any indication, and it doesn't seem to bother her too much to do it. Free access to all that Goa'uld insider information? I think it's a good enough pay-off to keep Danny's butt out of that sling.

I can think of much better uses to put it to anyway…

Ohhh, my mind is wandering again, but I just can't help it. Like I said, admiring the view. Danny is so cute when he's focussed. Right now he's sitting here, arms wrapped around one bent knee, his chin resting upon it, his expression absolutely rapt, those, big, blue eyes completely given over to the woman standing the middle of the circle. Matarei. Luena's mother. She also seems to be the Lord High Grand Poobah of the place. What do they call it? Lanolin? No, that wasn't it. Lan or Lon something. Anyway, Danny knows. I'll get it from him later.

Matarei might be older than Luena but she is every bit as physically stupendous. As are the Telshar – that's what they call themselves – as a people. I haven't seen anybody yet over 12 who is under five feet ten and isn't built like a brick shit house. Men and women.

However, Matarei's physical presence isn't what is the most impressive thing about her – as damned inspiring as it is. That amazing frame is overlaid with a tangible aura of wisdom and serenity and not a small amount of understated, carefully rationed charisma. She obviously throttles it back quite a bit, but I have no doubt if she decided to turn the high beams on the woman could stop a charging rhino just by looking at it. Handsome woman, impressive human being.

She's been addressing the group for quite a while but I haven't been listening. I can't seem to keep my eyes off Danny and to be perfectly honest, I'm having impure thoughts. Again. All this smoke and the low, flickering light of the torches isn't helping much.

Whoa, I don't know what these guys are burning in that fire pit but it smells a little funny. They've been passing around a clay pipe, everybody's taking a hit. It hasn't made it to Danny and me yet, but all of a sudden I feel like I'm back in Larry Mason's garage, drooling over his Dad's Playboys and getting high. God, those were the days.

I wonder what Daniel did when he was fifteen? Somehow can't see him as having a Larry Mason in his life. Too bad for him. Suddenly I realize I don't know all that much about Danny's life before he came into mine, and that bothers me. As well it should.  I'm gonna have to do something about that.

Oh Momma! Who's spinning the room? Damn! I feel weird and I don't like it! It's getting worse, vision swimming, feel myself starting to fall over and reach out for Danny – just about the same time I feel him grabbing hold of me. Things are getting very far away – someone has their hand on my head – voices, low, steady drumming, a woman's voice, overtop all the other voices lowly chanting, the sound rising, getting louder, rhythmic, hypnotic, rising in power, beating in my blood with the throbbing of my heart.

Not my heart – Danny's. I can feel it beating in my head. Like I can feel him – his fear, confusion, excitement, as strong and real as my own. Oh, this is spooky,  I can feel his concern for me. Clearly, distinctly, every emotion running through him as if they are my own. Okay, this is weird. But I like it…

The voice, Matarei's voice. Saying something, over and over. What is she saying – what is she doing to us?

"One as you desire. Never apart though separated. So you shall see, so you shall feel, so you shall know. So you shall find your way back to each other. One as you desire…"

Well, that's nice. I think I'll go to sleep now…

 


 

Luena went back home today. Just for a bit of a visit. She'll be back. God help us all. She's spent the last three weeks spilling her guts and everybody is so happy with what she had to say they've stopped just short of dancing in the streets. What's really funny is instead of getting crucified for pulling a lone wolf stupid Daniel might just get a medal for this. All I need, there'll be no living with him then.

When we got home from Luena's pot party, the first chance we got Daniel and I compared notes, and he had the same weird sensation of knowing what I was feeling as I did with him. He heard Matarei say the same things too, though he doesn't know what any of it means any more than I do. If it had just been me I could have chalked the whole thing up to a trip induced by second hand smoke, but the fact Danny experienced it too seems to rule that one out.

Well, it's not as if we haven't already been through more than our share of weird-ass stuff in the past few years; here's another one for the scrapbook. Whatever it was she did to us – and I'm betting she did something - it doesn't seem to have left us any worse for the wear. Nothing showed up during the medical, I tried buttonholing Luena about it, all she would say is Mom granted us our heart's desire. Her way of saying thanks.

Not meaning to sound ungrateful or anything, but I would have settled for a card and a warm handshake.

Danny's been a little down since Luena left. Not simply because she's gone, though it's partly because of that. Okay, I'm missing the big lugette a bit myself. She's quite a pistol. Most of the male segment of the base population are hopelessly in lust and the female contingent can't stop laughing at the guys 'cause Lu could care less about raising the collective libido levels of the SGC and won't give a single one of them the time of day. No, she seems to have this 'mission' she can't be distracted from, and whatever it is, it seems to have a lot to do with Daniel. Okay, I'm in there somewhere too, but only because, I think, I'm with him.

What's bugging Daniel, I think, is something she said to us both, before she left. I gotta admit it's got me thinking as well. No laughing – I do occasionally use my head for more than holding my hat up.

A bunch of us saw her off. She motioned for Daniel and me to follow her up the ramp. Wanted to say something to both of us in private. I know she meant well, but I could have done without hearing it, to tell you the truth.

She took us both by the hand and called us by those funny nicknames she has for us. 'Leader Who Follows.' That's me. You could make a case for it being insightful, I suppose. However, what she calls Daniel – that's just plain scary. 'Unborn One'.  I don't know how she knows how right she is.

Fortunately Danny doesn't seem to feel any great need for her to elaborate. Thank God. If he ever had to pick a time to suspend that normally insatiable curiosity of his, I'm deeply grateful this was it.

Anyway, she addressed us by the nicknames and then laid this little bit of a dubious benediction on us. "Don't worry, when the darkness comes, I will return to help you find him," she says to me. To Daniel, she says. "Your heart is pure. It will protect you. Be what you are and nothing can harm you. Or him."

Peachy, huh? Then she tucked her little Sagan box under her arm and off she went back home.

I've been thinking about what she said ever since, and from the look on his face, I can tell Daniel has been too. He's sitting there on the other side of the couch, staring into space. If he sticks that lower lip out any farther pigeons will be able to roost on it.

I'm tired of thinking. Tired of sitting around here getting bummed out. I think it's just about time we changed the mood a bit…

I reach over and poke Daniel in the ribs. He's ticklish as hell, really hates it when I do that. Of course, that's why I do it. He's also incredibly cute when he's mad.  Don't wanna say how hot it gets me when he goes off all over me....uh - never mind....

"Cut that out!" he snaps at me. Oh baby…

I poke him again. He flinches and turns on me, blue eyes snapping, breathing fire. He's really mad now. This is going to be good. I probably should hate myself when I pull this crap on him, but he always thanks me later.

"I said, cut that out," he hisses, glaring at me through narrowed eyes.

"Make me," I taunt him as I reach out to poke him again.

He lets out a huge, frustrated yell and leaps at me. We tussle briefly, end up tumbling over the arm of the couch, taking the lamp with us as we go. Damn, just replaced that thing last week. I suppose we could try to go a little easier on the furniture and fixtures but somehow it wouldn't be quite so much fun.

We roll around on the carpet for a bit, Danny swearing a blue streak at me. He's been doing that so frequently lately I'm getting pretty good at picking out the Goa'uld cuss words. I hear 'em often enough!

He ends up on top of me, grabs a hold of my shirt, lifts me up off the floor with it until my face is only a few inches from him.

"We broke another lamp," he growls in a voice still stiff with anger.

"I know," I reply, grinning from ear to ear. His voice is angry, but I can see his eyes coming alive with quite another emotion. Just like I planned. "Whose turn is it to pay for it this time?"

"I don't know," he replies, his voice thicker, lower. "I don't care. Bill me." He groans, closes his eyes, looks at me again with lust leaking out of them. Works for me.

"I don't know why I let you get to me like this," he breathes, looking at my mouth. "Must be because I love you so much."

"Ya think?" That's all I have time for. His mouth is clamped on mine, we're lying on the floor, clothes flying, who gives a shit about the lamp if I wasn't so busy I'd get up and break the other one to celebrate.

Yeah, I'll follow him all right. Undomesticated equines and all couldn't keep me away from him. I kiss him, deep, hard, madly, he's crazy right back at me. Licking me, biting me, mental all over me. I can hardly hold onto him he's so turned on. He's not doing a bad job of lighting my fuse either.

To hell with Luena, doomsayers, darkness and whatever else, I've got him; I'm not letting go and God help anyone who tries to make me. There isn't anyone or anything gonna take him away from me.

I go off, so does he, he collapses on top of me, breathing hard, laughing.

"Bastard," he sighs, nuzzling my cheek. "So what do you say, wise guy, had enough already, or want to go for the best two falls out of three?"

Oh baby, I'm there…

FINIS

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