The Eternal Heart by sideburns
Slash:  Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed relationship, which usually involves sex.
Rating: NC-17.
Category: First Time.  Missing Scene
Season/Spoilers: Season 5. Meridian.
Synopsis: Two men ponder love, eternity and each other. 
Warnings: Meridian Fix-It story.
Length:  63Kb

The Eternal Heart by sideburns

"You're Still You"
The Eternal Heart 1 - Daniel's Story

"Time changes everything"

I miss peanut butter.

Peanut butter.

Not my favorite cookies, not coffee -- but peanut butter. I don't get it. I mean, of all the things to miss, why peanut butter?

Oh, man, I can taste it, smell it. On toast. Spread thick. And of course, a glass of milk, frosty cold. Can't have peanut butter without milk, right?

Shouldn't I be missing a whole lot of other things? Like -- heat? Warmth? The sun? The feel of grass under my bare feet? Or how about my bed? Shouldn't I miss feeling the comfort, the softness? Of course, I can no longer tell the difference between soft and hard. Or light from dark. There is no longer temperature, no hot or cold. Everything is -- equal.

Ascension is equality.

But I'd give anything for a peanut butter sandwich.

I'd give anything for a--

I'd give anything for--

I'd give anything.

So you want to know what this whole ascension thing is like? Okay, have you ever been in one of those sensory deprivation tanks? You know, the ones where you float senseless? That's what this is like. I *know* things, but I no longer feel them. Seems apropos, doesn't it? Me, the super smart geek, knows all, sees all, but feels nothing. Yep, that's me, Daniel Jackson, ascended geek.

Most folks who knew me would say if the ascension fits -- wear it. Heh. Made a joke. Even flying around faster than the speed of light and I can joke.

Don't worry, I know that my desire for peanut butter is just my way of obsessing over Jack. Yeah, I'm sublimating the peanut butter for Jack. He'd be so flattered, I'm sure.

Truth is, this whole ascension thing isn't working. While the SGC battles the Goa'uld, I float around doing -- what? Nothing. Come to think of it, what did Oma ever do?

Wasn't it obvious that she could have easily, as Jack would say, "kicked some serious Goa'uld butt"? Didn't she take out an entire team of them trying to protect Shifu? Yep. Oh, and speaking of Shifu? He's not this walking, talking kid that gave me that crappy but profound dream. He isn't really growing that fast. The Shifu I saw was one of Oma's extensions, so to speak. In reality, he's just two years old. And I can't hold him.

Or touch him.

Oma says I'm not ready to do the whole corporeal thing yet, so I float around, listen and learn, but I can't actually touch Shifu. He's a cute little toddler too, who spends a whole lot of time -- not remembering. Which sounds pretty good to me, you know?

I'd love to not remember.

Somebody tell why, if the fucking radiation could take my body, and Oma could give me life, why couldn't she take my memories? I'd be happy then. Accepting and happy.

But -- I'm not -- because I can remember.

"I've loved you for so long"

This was wrong. So very wrong. So totally fuckingly wrong. Is that a word? Maybe I should ask Oma?

"Oma, is fuckingly a word?"

Okay, so I won't ask her. Besides, who the hell cares if it's a word? I used it, therefore -- it is.

I went back yesterday. It hasn't been long by my time or theirs and I couldn't help it. I ruffled his hair and it tore my nonexistent heart out. Destroyed me. Because Jack -- was -- Jack.

Forever Jack. His voice, that stupid grin.

It hurt so God damned much.

You know, I'd give anything to hear him say, "For cryin' out loud!"

I'd give anything -- if he'd cried for me. But he didn't. Won't. In fact, it's highly probable that he's relieved.

You know, he didn't even try to touch me when Oma gave him the inside track to my ascension, and oh, how I needed the touch that didn't come. Still, you have to give me credit, I didn't let the tears in my eyes fall. No siree, not me. I haven't been around Jack O'Neill for nothing.

But still -- I'd give anything to hear him say, "Sweet," in just that way. I'd give anything if I'd heard, "Daniel - stay," or "Daniel, don't leave." Or better still, "Daniel, don't leave -- me."

Sure would have beat the pathetic attempt at telling me that maybe he -- admired -- me.

Gosh, Jack, thanks.

Lord, what I'd give to have heard at any time, "Daniel, I love you." To have heard it whispered softly and lovingly. And for Jack to have meant it.

I need to go back. See him again.

All right, a little Daniel Jackson honesty here: I need to see him one last time. See *them* one last time. Then I'll let go forever. I know without going back, I'll be in limbo. I can't go forward and I can't go back. I have a job to do. I don't know what it is yet, but damn it, I know that in order to do it, I have to say good-bye and mean it.

I have to fuckingly let go.

It doesn't take me long. Traveling is a breeze. Yeah, that was another joke. But Jack would call it an inside joke. Had to be there, had to have done that.

I slide in under the radar, so to speak, and here I am.

Gray halls, quick-moving, urgent looking people, the SGC. My home.

I move gently toward Teal'c's room.

Teal'c. Big guy, gold emblem on his forehead, Goa'uld in his stomach.

It's easy. Easy to enter, easy to be.

Candles giving off light and shadows flickering on the wall behind him.

Kel-no-reem.

He's so large and so still. His skin reflects the candlelight, patterns emerging that draw me near. He doesn't move though, doesn't sense my presence.

As I stare at the man who saved us countless times, I'm assailed by doubts that I was ever warrior enough to truly be his friend. Did I ever earn his respect as a fellow teammate? I know I had his protection, but did I have his respect as a fellow warrior?

I suspect -- not.

He and Jack were comrades-in-arms immediately. Brothers under the skin, kindred spirits. They recognized the same steel buried within dark eyes. They recognized the same demons in their souls.

And Sam? Did Sam earn his respect? Yes. She was his sister in battle.

I was, I think now, fondly tolerated.

But damn it, Teal'c, I learned, didn't I? I fought side-by-side, didn't I? But you wouldn't entrust your life to me, would you, Teal'c? A translation, sure. But your life?

Escape sounds good right now. As I float toward the door, his eyes open and he tilts his head in just that way. I almost think he can see me, but then he closes his eyes again and I leave.

"You walk past me and I feel your pain"

My office. Sanctuary, even now, from the pain.

How strange. Nothings changed. My things, all that I was at the SGC, are still here. I move effortlessly above that which was me, staring down, afraid to get too close.

Suddenly, I'm no longer alone.

It's Sam, and she's crying and doing what I can't, namely touching everything. I realize that this is probably the only place she *can* cry. The only place she'll let herself cry. My big sister.

I can see it in her face. She loved me. It never mattered to her that I wasn't a soldier, because I was a scientist. Her equal in at least one area. The only other person who understood her, understood the impatience directed at us when we spoke.

But she won't be alone. Sam has Janet and Cassie. She'll have comfort. Her grief will fade in the light of every day living, fade with Janet's laugh or Cassie's joys. Sam is no longer searching. Today's pain is temporary.

I'm not doing myself any good. This is so fucking morbid. It's like I'm invisible again.

Oh, wait. I am. Well, damn. But this time, there is no answer, no solution, no last minute reprieve. I was already saved and now, I'm simply no longer of their world.

"I look up to you, to everything you are"

I follow her out and there he is -- Jack.

She's mad at him. I can see it. He's doing his soldier thing and she's mad at him. Oh, shit, he's lecturing her about sucking it in, about years of loss, of losing other team members and I can't take it.

God, Jack, don't you know how I looked up to you? How much I thought of you? I could screw with your brain, but damn it, you were my fucking -- all right, I'm going to say it -- you were my fucking hero. Yet, to you, I was what? Just a team member? A loss to deal with, to move on, to hoist a few to on cold nights?

Aw, Jack, I know I put you through hell more often than not. Gave you more grief than all your years in the service put together, but -- but -- why aren't I more to you?

Okay, I get it now. I was wrong before, I do belong in this fucking non-feeling world. This is right. This is Daniel Jackson. Can't touch, can't be touched. Oh, yeah.

I have to leave, to get out of here. This was so wrong because there's nothing for me to let go of and they've already released me.

I float aimlessly back to my office. It's empty, dark, lonely, and full of memories I don't need.

The door's opening and I can see a crack of yellow. Startled, I dissipate as the door opens and the sliver of light broadens.

A silhouette in the doorway.

I can't be seen, yet I wedge my soul into a corner.

I know him.

Jonas.

My books and journals. He's reading my journals. He's reading fast, fingers flying, pages flipping quickly. I can see by his expression that he's -- memorizing.

Jonas is memorizing me. My work.

Hey, kid? More power to you. I don't blame you for what happened.

I move from my corner and hover behind him, watching as he reads, as he commits my knowledge, my life, my work, to memory. I'm not surprised that it's simple. I was always highly overrated.

Well, damn, he's done. Would you look at that, he's done. Languages, theories, all of it. Hell, he's me now. Maybe he'll have better luck being me than I did.

Gotta get outta here. Now. It's good not to feel, this is not good. So why am I feeling?

Go. Go. Go.

"Your face, I've memorized, I idolize just you"

I'm outside. Free.

Night air. Inky black sky dotted by shimmering stars. Trees stark against the horizon and I'm free. Time to accept what I am, what I never was, and what I'll never be. What I'll never have.

I loved you Jack.

At least I'm free from the burden of believing that all I ever needed to do was tell you how I felt to bring us both happiness. What fools these mortals be, eh? Well, I'm no longer a mortal, therefore, no longer a fool.

I'll be this -- thing, and you'll be -- you. Always and forever you.

I hold out what passes for arms and turn around and around and around and suddenly -- you're there. Here. In the parking lot.

You're standing so still, staring up at the sky and I can see it -- one tear.

One. Tear.

"Danny," you say softly.

"I believe in you although you never asked me to"

This hurts.

I can see his face, etched lines drawing his mouth down, eyes dark and lost, shoulders slumped with a weight I'm only now beginning to understand.

I can see the pulse at his neck and it resonates within me. I'm *feeling* his heartbeat as if it were my own. An impossibility. I no longer have a heart.

Aw, Jack, I've never loved you more than at this moment. Because you're so you.

I can see it all now. The pain, the responsibility, the leadership worn heavy. I was a team member and you feel the loss acutely, as you've felt all the losses.

I'm sorry, Jack. I never knew, never understood. I wanted to be more than the rest, but now I know that it's an honor being counted with all the others you've lost in battle. Like Kowolski. An honor, Jack.

It was an honor being on your team. It was an honor serving under you for five years. I swear it. I always believed in you, Jack. In your leadership. I did. I would have followed you to Hell.

Oh, wait, I did. Well, I'd do it again. I'd do it a hundred fold. Forever.

Jack O'Neill, warrior, friend, leader, and the man who owns the heart I no longer have.

I don't regret loving you, Jack. I don't regret one minute of loving you, of living without your love in return. I don't regret one moment of the last five years. They are golden to me. Every minute with you, enough to last the lonely eternity that faces me.

"And in this cold and lonely world, I've found one love"

Oh, God, he's crying. More than one tear, a flood marks his face. He's reaching into his pocket--

My glasses. He took my glasses from my office. I don't think an entity can cry, yet my entire soul is awash in tears.

My fucking glasses. Jack took my fucking glasses.

He's rubbing his finger over the rims, his thumb brushing the lens.

Jack, Jack, I'll always remember you, I swear it. I've lost you -- and found you. It will have to be enough. In this place that I now reside, I've found what I thought I'd never have. You.

The pain of what I've lost and found is real, alive, yet I feel like laughing.

Please, Jack, feel me.

I reach out with my soul, brush his face, his cheek, and he turns, questioning and I see it, the love, in his eyes.

"Danny?"

Yes, Jack.

And now -- I must truly let go.

God, the blackness of it. Of moving away from him, from the warmth of life that he gives out, the essence that is Jack. How many times did that essence sustain me? Save me? Push me beyond my self-imposed limits?

I love you, Jack O'Neill.

God, I'm cold.

"Up To Where You Are"
The Eternal Heart 2 - Jack

"Who can say for certain? Maybe you're still here"

Go through the gate. Do reports. Sit through briefings. Conduct training sessions. Go home. Then repeat it all. And keep doing it. Over and over and over again.

Stay sane.

Keep one foot in front of the other, and when possible, keep foot out of mouth.

Did I mention, stay sane?

Buck up, soldier. You've lost team members before. You keep marching, keep fighting. Never surrender, never let them see you sweat. Wait, that's an underarm deodorant commercial. Well, fuck it, it works.

Teal'c is holding up well. Of course, I haven't seen that eyebrow of his make any moves indicating humor or doubt of my intelligence, so maybe he's not doing so well.

George is a ghost of his former self.

Okay, forget I just used that term. That word. George is fine. Fine and dandy. He's a trooper, a soldier. He's lost men under his command before. Okay, technically, Daniel isn't--

Um. Wasn't.

Daniel *wasn't* under George's command, exactly. Still, George has written more letters to families than he'd care to share. He knows from loss. But I expect this one hit him a little harder than the others. Daniel was the only one that George ever called 'son' and meant it. No, he's not doing well. Terse, pale, I think he's lost some weight too.

Could just be my imagination though.

Carter seems to be doing okay. She's busy, business as usual. Working with -- Jonas. I just wish she'd stop giving me these sidelong glances, you know?

Like now. She just came out of -- Daniel's -- office. She's not looking so good. Not so good at all. Time to help stiffen her spine so she can get through this.

Yep, that went well. Not.

I'm standing here in the hall with egg on my face. Carter really put me in my place, didn't she? People are moving around me and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that they're all avoiding actually looking at me.

The walls are simply not that interesting, folks. Neither are the floors.

Carter should know better. She's a God damn soldier. She's lost men under her command before. That's what happened. We lost one of our own. Okay, we move on. We do our job. We get through it. This is no different.

This. Is. No. Different.

No different. No different than Kolowoski. Or so many others.

Except.

This was -- Daniel.

Whoa. The floor seems to be moving. I'd better find someplace to sit down.

Like -- Daniel's office. I can handle that.

This was a mistake. Big. Huge. Total. Daniel's office, his sanctuary. God, help me, it smells of him and I know that's impossible. Completely impossible. It's been weeks. But it does. Somebody help me, it smells of Daniel. This is not good.

Unless--

Could -- Daniel -- could you be -- here? Could you be *here*, Daniel? Who can say? You would, if you were still here. You would say, "Anything's possible, Jack."

Oh FUCK, I can hear you. I can hear your voice as if you're right next to me.

Don't do this to me, Daniel. Please, I'm begging you here. Don't do this. Don't you dare fucking haunt me. I'm a fucking colonel in the fucking United States Fucking Air Force, okay? You got that, Mister?

You GOT THAT?

"I feel you all around me, you're memories so clear"

He doesn't get it. I'm not scaring him one bit, never did.

You're not going away, are you, Danny boy? Or you're so far away that I'm experiencing something akin to what a man feels when he's lost a limb. Phantom pain? Phantom -- smells? Sounds? Are you a phantom, Danny?

I used to love coming in here and bugging the hell out of you. But you knew that, didn't you? Tossing my ball or fiddling with some priceless artifact, you pretending to be worried but knowing full well that anything of yours would be safe with me.

No one could read me like you, Danny. No one. So why couldn't I read you? Tell me that, will ya? You were one deep well, buddy.

Ohshit.

I said it. I said 'were' like you're -- gone. Really gone. But you're not, not really, right? OhGod. What if what I saw -- wasn't real? What if I kept Jacob from -- saving you? What if--

No. No, it was real. Wasn't it? Please dear God, it was real, wasn't it? Because the alternative would be that I let you die. I let -- you -- die, Danny.

But no, you're not dead. You're not.

How do I know? Because it's been weeks and when someone has been gone for weeks, the memories dim. No matter how hard we try to retain them, to keep the beloved face before us, it dims. I know. Without pictures, Charlie would have become a shadow days after his death. It's how we humans are, it's how we survive the loss of our hearts.

But here in your office, you're so real. Next to me, behind me, across from me. I can see the way your brow would wrinkle when you were trying to one-up me. I can see the smile lines at the corners of your eyes, and that special grin, the one you could barely contain, the one that bubbled up and screwed up your whole face.

I shouldn't be able to see that much, Danny. I shouldn't be able to *feel* your voice as it skips up and down my spine like a classic piece of music. Your aftershave follows me, Daniel. It fucking follows me. I want to lean in close to your jaw, to rub against it like a cat butting the leg of its beloved owner.

Your shirts. Right here, in your closet. Why the hell haven't we put your office away? We did your apartment, we were *able* to do your home, so why not all of this?

Running my fingers over one of your black tee shirts isn't enough. God, I need that silly hat of yours. Where the fuck is it?

WHERE THE FUCK IS IT?

Shit, I'm making a mess, aren't I? Clothes strewn all over the floor, but no FUCKING HAT!

Wait. What's that? Under the boots and the pack?

YES!

I can breathe now. It's in my hands. Would you just look at this brim. Your sweat still clings to it. You'd better not be looking right now, 'cause I'm about to hold this stupid hat to my face. And drink in the scent. Of you.

"As my heart holds you, just one beat away, I cherish all you gave me everyday"

Okay, your hat is folded neatly and in my pocket. I'd better clean up this place, uh?

Oops. What's that?

Damn it, Danny, your glasses.

Your -- glasses. You should be wearing them, shouldn't you? You need them, Danny boy, you need them.

Well, that fucking tears it. I'm losing it. Right here in the SGC, this fucking soldier is losing it.

You gave me so much, Daniel and I never told you. Never told you. Let me tell you now, okay? Just let me get this out, all right?

You gotta admit, you're a dweeb. You know that, right? A drive-Jack O'Neill-crazy dweeb. But Daniel? You're the most beautiful dweeb God ever put on this earth. Would it bother you to know that I thought you were beautiful? I know the dweeb part wouldn't bother you. You knew you were--

Are.

You knew--

You *know* you're a dweeb. Of course, now you're a floating dweeb. A bright light of a dweeb, floating with a bunch of other dweebs. You must be in dweeb heaven.

I didn't mean to say that. I didn't. Ascension is different than dying and going to some heaven, right?

RIGHT?

This wasn't some cosmic -- follow the bright light thing, was it? And you're really, like, dead? No. No. No. Just had that conversation with myself, didn't I? No, you're too real to be dead.

Oma Desala, you, the others, you're up there. You are. But I don't want you up there. I want you here.

"I wish upon tonight, to see you smile"

Home, sweet home. Toss the clothes, shower, get comfortable. Grab a beer, then wander. It's what I do every night now. Come home and wander. I walk from room to room and I do nothing. I have pieces of you, Danny, pieces in every single room of my home. I took them from your home. Your apartment.

We packed you up. Do you know how that felt? Of course you don't. You're -- up -- there.

Some-fucking-where.

It felt SHITTY. I touched your things, Daniel. YOUR THINGS. Your stupid artifacts and statues and bowls and chess sets, your books, your magazines. Do you have any idea how many copies of National Geographic you had?

ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE, YOU ASSHOLE! FIVE MORE THAN I HAVE! AND YOU HAD THE AUDACITY TO MAKE FUN OF *ME*?

But guess what? I kept every single one of yours.

Carter wanted to toss them. I nearly killed her. Right there, in your living room. Would have too, if Teal'c hadn't come in from your kitchen and asked about Ho-Hos.

There is no way I'd have figured you for a Ho-Ho kind of guy. Just no freaking way. Yet, there, in your neat little pantry, an entire box. And peanut butter. Four jars of the stuff. Plain and chunky. The things you don't know about a guy, even after five years. Geesh.

Speaking of Ho-hos. I kept those too.

I think I'll just amble my way into the kitchen and grab me one, along with another beer. Then maybe up to the roof.

Now this is life. A Ho-Ho in one hand and a beer in the other. You know, these aren't bad. They're kind of -- weird, but in a good way.

After Sara and I split and I bought this place, I used to spend almost every decent night up here when I got back from Abydos. Staring at the stars. That's what I told myself. I was stargazing.

I wasn't.

I was thinking of -- you.

I was wondering what your life was like. I would wonder what you were doing. Were you happy, what did you miss? Did you miss -- me? I couldn't wrap my mind around the idea that it was a crazy geek out there, you know? Amazing, eh? Carter spent all that time trying to figure out the fucking gate and you do it in a few days. She bucks her father's wishes, ignores her chances at the space program to concentrate on the gate and who ends up living out there? You.

You gotta admit, that is the epitome of irony. Irony supremo.

Did you know that I dream about you?

Still.

Always.

I dream that you're here, with me. With -- me. I dream of how it would be, being with you. What our days off would be like, what going shopping with you would be like. Of course, now I know about your Ho-Ho and peanut butter fetishes. Heh.

I remember renting Pinocchio for Charlie. You're wondering why I'm bringing this up, right? Because of the song, you twit. You know, the one about wishing on a star? You're up there now and it seems I should be able to wish upon -- you. So -- I am. Wishing on you. On tonight. I'm not wishing that none of -- it -- had happened, because there's no fucking point. I'm wishing for something so much easier.

I'm wishing just to see your smile again. Silly, huh? But that's it.

In one of Carter's lectures, I kind of drifted off (no, Danny, I *never* drifted during one of yours) and ended up counting how many different smiles you have.

There was the "Boy, have I pulled one over on you guys" smile. And the "I'm gonna get Jack good" smile. There was the "Jack, is Teal'c weird, or what?" smile and the "No, I have no idea what I just said" smile. There was the smile reserved for Cassie and the bittersweet one reserved for thoughts of Shau're.

There was that little knowing grin you'd share with Janet in the infirmary just before she was about to stick a needle in my ass. And then, sometimes, we'd be blessed to see the, "My God, I was right" smile. That one was so rare and so infectious, Daniel. Like a kid in a toy shop on Christmas morning.

But my favorite? The "God, I'm so embarrassed" smile. Shy, all encompassing. The one you favored me with when you showed up alive after we blew up Apophis' ship. That one.

Danny, I'd give anything to see that smile now.

"Fly me up to where you are, beyond the distant star"

It's getting cold. I should go in. I should, but what's inside? Nothing. Sure, I have a lot of your stuff, but to tell the truth, I'm closer to you out here than in there.

You know, I could have sworn I felt you. I know I didn't -- but I did. Wishful thinking. You have no reason to come back here, do you, Daniel?

None. I never gave you a reason.

God, my eyes are really bothering me tonight. Just like a couple of nights ago. Got all moist and all. And I said your name. Like -- right -- now.

"Danny."

I seem to be having trouble breathing. How weird. Can't quite catch my breath and my eyes, all blurry. What's that noise?

Oh.

It's me. Don't worry, it wasn't like, a sob, or anything. Come on, this is an Air Force Colonel here you know?

My eyes are itching. I think I'll just rub at them a bit.

Danny? Danny? Please? Come back for me? Or take me with you? Please?

OHGOD, PLEASE? I can't do this without you, Danny, I can't. Let me fly up to where you are? Be with you?

I don't cry, but guess what? This is crying. I am GODDAMNED FUCKING CRYING.

I'm begging here, Daniel. Begging you.

Begging.

I need to feel your breath against my face, hear your heartbeat again.

I need to see you give me that little frown, the only sign that you're mad at me. I need you to put on these glasses, Daniel. And your hat. And the bandana.

I need you to be Daniel Jackson again. Fuck the "me coming to you" part, you fucking come back to me. You hear me, Daniel? You fucking come back to me.

Please?

"Home To Stay"
The Eternal Heart 3 - Jack and Daniel

"When every boat has sailed and every debt is marked as paid..."

Jack sat at the briefing table fiddling with his pen. Carter was talking about P3Y-7C2 and Jack was bored. Teal'c sat across from him, along with Carter, both having learned weeks ago that no one took the seat next to Jack. No one.

Jack realized that it made the table look lopsided, what with Carter and Teal'c on one side, him on the other, but hey, it wasn't as if everyone didn't know who the empty chair belonged to.

General Hammond was watching Carter, but Jack could tell that the man wasn't listening. Not really. Then something she said caught both their attention.

"...about Jonas? Sir, didn't you say that he'd memorized all of -- Daniel's -- papers?"

"Yes, Major Carter, however, we won't be able to rely on him for this or any other mission."

Okay, this was news, Jack thought. What the hell?

"Sir? You assigned him to SG-1 and now?"

"I'm well aware of my assignments, Colonel," Hammond said easily. "However, we've come to an equitable agreement with the Kelonans and Jonas has been asked to return home. He left this morning. I believe he was relieved. The idea of trying to exist in a place surrounded by the memory of," Hammond tore his gaze from Jack, "Doctor Jackson, the man who saved his world, and yet served as their scapegoat, was more than he would have been able to handle."

At the mention of Daniel's name, Jack felt a ripple run through his body, a ripple that ended in his heart. He quickly focused on everything else Hammond had said.

"Equitable agreement, Sir?"

"Yes. It seems between your stubbornness and Jonas' immersion in all that was -- our -- Daniel Jackson, the truth won out and treaty negotiations have been opened. Doct -- Daniel -- has been cleared."

Hammond picked up his pen and like Jack, fiddled as he said, "We've been invited to a ceremony -- a ceremony hailing Daniel Jackson as the hero he was." Jaw tightening, Hammond looked up and added, "A monument. They're putting up life-size statue in his honor."

Hammond couldn't disguise his anger and bitterness.

"Gee, that's swell, Sir. But does anyone else here think we're talking too little and way too late?" Jack asked dryly.

"I do not believe that a monument would serve DanielJackson, nor do I believe that it will return him to us."

Sam looked around the table, then smiled wryly. "Oh, I don't know. I think Daniel would get a kick out of it -- once we got him out of his office and his face returned to its natural shade."

Jack found himself chuckling at that. He had to agree. Once Daniel stopped blushing, yeah, he'd get a kick out of it. He'd be the first one to set out the bird food for the pigeons.

God damn, they were talking about him. They were actually speaking of Daniel as if -- as if -- no, Jack wouldn't go there. Not now, not ever.

"When is this ceremony, Sir?" Jack asked, knowing that he could never attend.

"It's on Wednesday. It's a shame that SG-1 will be busy on P3Y-7C2, isn't it? But orders are orders."

Well, bless George's soul. This called for buying the man a drink. Several.

"Yes, Sir, a real shame."

"I know you're gone, I watched you leave"

Jack wandered down the hall toward his office, hands stuck in his pockets. So, he thought, no Jonas. Gee, too bad. Still, he'd have to find someone to -- replace -- Daniel.

Jack never paused. Without thought, he did what he'd been doing a great deal lately, namely stopping by Daniel's office on the way to his own. He walked in and shut the door, then went over to the table and sat down.

This was now his sanctuary. Temporary, sure, but for now, this was the place where he'd come to retain his balance and sanity.

"I know you're gone, Daniel. I know it. Hell, I watched you leave. But I'm discovering that as easily as I let you go up that ramp, that's how hard it is to let go now. I understand myself, understand that I had to insulate myself from the truth that was your absence from my life forever. Charlie's death nearly undid me, Danny, you know that. And it was about to happen again. I had to do something. So I did nothing."

Jack leaned forward, put his arms on the table, then dropped his head onto his arms. His heart was a dead weight inside his chest. Voice muffled against his sleeve, he said, "Janet says I have to let go, that I'm supposed to, that I need to, but Daniel, I can't. If I do, I let go of myself. It'll be all over and somehow, that would feel too much like betraying you."

He lifted his head, felt the burning in his eyes and scrubbed at his face. "You wouldn't let me check out on Abydos and you sure as hell wouldn't let me check out now. But that's what would happen if I let you go."

Jack reached out and picked up Daniel's coffee cup. He turned it around in his hand and smiled. "I'll hang on as long as I can, Daniel. I can promise you that."

"When every town looks the same, when every choice gets hard to make..."

Jack waited as the ring moved and chevrons locked into place. His team stood patiently beside him. Just the three of them. It had been decided that for this mission, as with the previous mission on behalf of the Asgard, they'd go without any -- replacement.

The seventh symbol was locked and the wormhole exploded out, then settled. Funny how, without Daniel, the watery blue no longer held any magic for Jack. Yeah, funny. Real funny.

Jack looked over his shoulder and up at the control room. At the nod from Hammond, he, Sam and Teal'c moved up the ramp and through the Stargate.

~~~~~

Exiting on the other side, Jack adjusted his sunglasses as Teal'c moved to the front.

"Gosh, a forest. How unique," Jack observed dryly as he walked down the strange steps to the grass.

Carter, moving quickly to his side, pointed east and said, "According to the information from the UV, the town is about three miles in that direction, Sir."

"Well, then, let's head out and see if this place can give us anything we need."

Daniel felt like an errant school boy. He'd gone off on his own again. But he felt his motives were good. Okay, selfish. His motives were selfish. When he went off, could be alone, he tried to regain his human form. He never succeeded, but damn, he tried. Of course the real question was why bother?

He knew the answer.

He wanted to feel Jack. He wanted to go back and touch him because Jack hadn't allowed much of anything in the gate room. Call it unfinished business.

Maybe this ascension thing was good for something. While he might not be kicking serious Goa'uld butt, he had come to an understanding of Colonel Jack O'Neill.

Daniel floated above the ground, trying to envision his feet, tried to see them on terra firma.

Damn.

He thought the one place he *could* succeed would be here on Abydos. And painful as it was to be here, he intuitively felt that he needed to be somewhere -- familiar -- in order to take his human form.

So much for intuition.

Daniel moved over the sand and watched as it swirled beneath him. Small joys for small ascended minds.

Oma Desala observed Daniel and as she did, feelings stirred within her. Feelings long buried. Even as she acknowledged the longings and the needs, she realized that they weren't concrete. She could relate, could remember, but could only feel in the abstract.

As Daniel moved slowly over the white sand, a sense of something missing invaded her mind.

She'd missed something.

A connection? Could that be it? *The* connection? But who? Daniel had loved Shau're, but the love had been within the normal parameters of human emotion. No special bond that kept Shau're's soul from reaching its final destination, nor Daniel from moving forward with his life.

So what was she missing?

She needed to puzzle this out. She needed time. And until she could figure out that which she had missed, she would follow her Daniel. He was strong and whatever his goal, she knew he'd attain it.

"Reach out to me, call out my name, and I could bring you back again today"

Daniel felt an odd tug. If he could have verbalized it, he would have said that he was a guitar string and someone was plucking him. And the plucking was urgent.

He gave in to it.

"Carter, care to explain?"

"Sir, you saw the UV transmissions, there were no signs of any Gou'alds."

Jack peered over his sunglasses. "Guess what, Major?"

"Yes, Sir, I see them."

"Got any ideas?"

"If Major Carter does not, I do, O'Neill."

"Do you now?"

"I believe a strategic retreat to the Stargate would be in order, O'Neill."

"Now why didn't I think of that? I must be losing my edge."

Sam shared a look of exasperation with Teal'c, then sighed. Life was not good without Daniel.

"Well, come on kiddies, let's head back and hope we miss any recon teams."

The three members of SG-1 turned away from the small cluster of buildings in the valley below, a cluster marred by a very large mother ship.

The trip back was painfully slow and Sam's mind was whispering, "Hurry, hurry, hurry". She hated when that happened. It almost always meant that no matter how much she hurried, it was never fast enough. This time proved to be no exception.

They were close enough to the gate to see it through the trees when Teal'c yelled out, "O'NEILL!"

The yell was just in time. Jack whirled and spotted the Jaffa. He threw himself sideways and the tree that stood behind him was cut in half by the staff weapon blast.

No sense to it, Sam thought. A simple mission, checking out a people who might have medicinal advancements they could use. No sign of Goa'uld involvement whatsoever. A walk in the park.

The park was getting very messy.

She took cover behind two fallen trees as Teal'c took his own dive out of harm's way. For now, they were all unharmed, but they were also surrounded. And outnumbered. Not that they hadn't been in similar situations in the past, but somehow, this time, her gut was telling her they were on the losing end.

A blast hit the tree above her and branches rained down. She had to duck and throw her arms up and over her head. This was not good.

Daniel moved faster. He had no idea how much time and space he was covering, he only knew the tug. Insistent, growing, almost painful.

He also didn't know that he was being followed.

Jack could see that of the three of them, Carter was now the most vulnerable. He needed to do something, take the heat off of her until she could regain cover and her weapon.

Was this a cosmic message telling him to fucking let go? Okay, maybe it *was* time to let go, not of Daniel, but of this Earth. Well, not *his* Earth, but -- oh, hell, any earth.

Jack made his decision, finally. He stood up and yelled, "COME AND GET ME!"

Not original, but hey, it wasn't like he had time for clever.

It should have been over. Two Jaffa stepped up to the plate, both intent on "coming to get him". Teal'c took out one of them, but the other one was ready to fire. And three more were coming up behind Teal'c. Jack had the ridiculous idea that this was SG-1's swan song, that all of them were letting go.

The staff weapon was leveled and Jack closed his eyes as he whispered one word.

"Danny."

Jack.

It was Jack. The tug, the insistence, the urgency, they were all Jack.

Daniel could see it all now.

Below him, Sam was trapped, Teal'c surrounded and Jack about to die.

Fine, so he'd save them, then he'd kill Jack.

Um, did he know how to save them?

Daniel decided to go with the flow and just let his instincts take over.

Any second now, it would be over.

Any. Second. Now.

A monstrous clap of thunder forced his eyes open. The sound was of such magnitude that even the Jaffa stopped and looked up.

Jack's eyes widened. The clouds were billowing dark and dangerous as lightning zapped, brightening the thunderheads. Jack had never seen anything like it. Not with the Asgard, not with Oma Desala, not ever.

It looked as though Mother Nature had gone berserk. Bonkers. Horribly, frighteningly bonkers. "End of the world as we know it" bonkers.

Jack's skin tingled and the hair on his arms rose and moved as electricity filled the air. A thought entered his mind as his mouth dropped open: something or someone was very angry.

A wild yell pierced the churning, static-filled air and the world slowed.

Jack turned his head and realized that the staff weapon had been discharged. He also recognized that all the thunder and lightening in the world couldn't save him.

With a sense of rightness, he raised his arms out and away from his side as he spoke that one word, that one reverent word, again.

"Danny."

A flash of light, bright, vengeful, and powerful in its beauty, swirled around the Jaffa. Weapons went flying, the Jaffa following.

The blast from the staff weapon seemed to slow and as Jack watched, stunned, it crinkled up and inches from his chest, fell to the ground in a shower of gentle light.

Silence.

Blessed silence.

No Jaffa, no weapons, no thunder or lightning -- just an eerie quiet.

Jack turned his head in time to see Carter, face pale and eyes wide, stand and absently brush herself off. From behind him, Teal'c appeared at his side. Jack was about to ask the inevitable, "What the hell just happened," when a web of gentle whiteness floated down in the space between where they stood opposite each other.

The tendrils of light seemed to be struggling and Jack frowned. It looked almost as if--

"Sir, that looks just like -- I mean, that's how Daniel looked--"

"I know, Major."

"It could be Oma Desala, O'Neill."

Jack nodded, but before he could answer, a sound seemed to float out of the white web. Jack cocked his head and focused his attention on trying to identify the sound.

Suddenly he smiled and said, "But it isn't."

Slowly Jack moved toward Daniel, his hand outstretched. One tendril of energy moved toward his hand and the sound came again, but this time it was understandable by all of them.

"Ja-ack."

The *arm* was close, so Jack stretched further and -- touched it. Then he held on.

"It's okay, Daniel. Take how ever much time you need to do -- whatever it is -- you're doing. I won't let go."

Jack held steady and slowly the whiteness changed, coalesced and it seemed to Jack that the brightness darkened and began to take on the tones of flesh. Fingers slowly replaced the surreal streams of light.

A moment later, Daniel stood before him, looking exactly as he had in the gate room before he'd walked through the Stargate for the last time.

"Daniel."

"Jack."

"Home To Stay"
The Eternal Heart 4 - Jack and Daniel

No, Jack was wrong. The Daniel standing before him didn't look at all like the Daniel who'd been standing on the ramp, ready to walk into forever. That Danny had been almost -- ghostly, thanks to a nimbus of light that had surrounded him. Maybe because it had been more of a vision than reality?

This Daniel was solid and without any golden glow. Just plain and real and alive.

And they were still holding hands.

Jack was aware that Carter was walking towards them, her eyes wide and unbelieving. Teal'c had moved in closer, his head slightly bent, brown eyes huge in his stunned face. Still, Jack didn't let go of the very real, very warm hand.

"Danny? Was that light show -- you?"

Daniel ducked his head and grinned almost shyly. "Um, yeah. That was -- me."

"Remind me not to get on your bad side in the future."

"I do not believe that such a force would ever be directed at you, O'Neill," Teal'c offered dryly.

"Yeah?" Daniel said, one brow rising. "Guess again, Teal'c. I can think of several times I'd have given anything to have been able to direct such power at Jack."

"Smug putz," Jack said with a huge grin.

Carter had reached them and was staring at Daniel as if he were her long lost puppy. "Daniel? How do I ask you if -- this is you, without asking, 'is this really you?' "

"Well, that sounded fine to me. A little subtle perhaps?" he said with a cheeky grin. Then more seriously, "And as to an answer, well, I think I'm me. This is the first time I've been able to do corporeal and I'm not sure how long it's going to last."

Carter didn't answer him. In fact -- nothing happened.

Daniel peered closely at Sam and realized that she appeared frozen. He glanced back at Jack and Teal'c, only to find both apparently frozen in time as well. Slowly, his breaths coming in frightened pants, Daniel pulled his hand from Jack's.

"It's all right, Daniel. It's just me. I thought it might be better if we talked -- privately."

Daniel whipped around to find himself facing Oma, in corporeal form. He could feel his face heat up and he held out a hand, palm up as he said quickly, "I know I shouldn't have done this -- but, well," he sighed, then said, "No excuse. And I can't tell you how I managed to take my old form, I wasn't even trying this time. I was only trying to make myself smaller, you know? More *there* for Jack, Sam and Teal'c."

"I know, Daniel. I know. The moment your hand touched Colonel O'Neill's, your body had to follow. You and the Colonel have a very strong connection, one that I seem to have missed. You two are pretty good at hiding deep-seated feelings."

"I -- um, yes, well--"

"There are now many paths open to you, Daniel, but I finally understand that unless you choose the road that includes your colonel, your successes will be very unfullfilling. I should have foreseen this, but I didn't, and I'm sorry. You may have left your body behind, Daniel, but you didn't leave your heart."

Daniel glanced over at the so-very-still Jack. He moved closer and did what he'd wanted to do for what seemed like forever. He rested his hand against Jack's cheek. And there it was -- that warmth, that essence. Jack.

"So what happens now?" he asked, hand still against Jack's cheek.

"Your choice, Daniel. You can remain as you are right now, rejoin your friends, take up the battle as the human Daniel, or you may return to us."

"As I am now?"

"Yes, Daniel. Healthy and human. You managed quite a feat when you took your corporeal form. You shouldn't have been able to do it. Or, for that matter, any of," she waved her arm around them, "this," she finished with a tender smile.

"Uh-oh."

Her smile widened. "You're truly remarkable, Daniel. That's why the offer was made."

"But my original concern remains, Oma. Where can I do the most good for all?"

She could see the strain of that question shadowing his eyes and slumping his shoulders. Time to lessen the burden.

"As with every soul that exists, Daniel, you may do the most good for all, when you do the most good for yourself. To deny your heart is to deny who you are, Daniel. Can you do that?"

"I think I already tried, didn't I?"

Oma nodded, glad that he'd seen almost immediately, what it had taken her too long to know. "Yes. So you have your answer, don't you?"

"I do."

She stepped away from him and her body gained a soft glow. "You have a rough road ahead of you, Daniel, but I suspect it may be the only road for you. And perhaps, the right one."

Oma Desala looked over at Jack and smiled. "To quote a human I know, 'he's going to be a tough nut to crack.'"

Daniel chuckled. "No, he's Skippy's."

"Skippy's?"

"Peanut butter. Already shelled, whipped and ready to spread."

"I believe your humor often escapes me, Daniel. So perhaps on that note, it is time to say good-bye."

Daniel turned, suddenly frowning. "Oma?"

She floated back to him and her arms encircled his body. He melted into her, his own arms around her nearly-not-there waist. He could hear her gentle whisper in his ear.

"We will see each other again, Daniel. You, I, *and* your Colonel. Your ultimate destiny does not change, only the road chosen to reach it. I will miss you, but I promise to never be far."

"Thank you, Oma," he murmured softly.

The white ribbons that now represented Oma Desala, drifted up and away.

The world resumed its life.

"Does this mean you'll be going back then, Daniel?" Sam asked as if time had never stalled.

Daniel smiled and shook his head. "Nope. What you see is what you get. I'm me. The big problem is going to be explaining me General Hammond."

Jack rubbed his hands together gleefully and said, "Oh, yeah, this is gonna be good."

Teal'c shook his head helplessly, then said, "Do you not believe we should continue our way back to the stargate, O'Neill? It is altogether possible that more Jaffa are nearby."

"I couldn't agree with you more, Teal'c. Daniel, you ready?"

So simple, Daniel thought. So very simple.

"Yes, I'm ready."

"Swell. Let's ditch Oz and get back to Kansas."

Carter started toward the DHD when Jack stopped her. "Carter, maybe it would be appropriate to have -- Daniel -- dial us home this time?"

With a sappy grin, Carter stepped to the side. Daniel shook his head and said, "No, let's do this together, okay?"

Sam moved next to him, and taking turns, they punched in the symbols, Daniel putting in the last one.

"Okay, here's how this goes down, kids. Teal'c and I will go through first. Give us a few, then Carter, you bring Daniel, all right?"

Carter, Teal'c and Daniel all shared a look of fond impatience for their CO, then Teal'c joined Jack and they stepped through.

"He's like a kid with a new toy, Daniel, and you're it."

Without thinking, Daniel said, eyes on the event horizon, "I've always wanted to be Jack's toy."

"Daniel?"

"Oops."

"Colonel? Where's Major Carter?"

"Oh, she's coming, Sir," Jack said with a cocky grin. "You know her. She picked up something she just had to bring back, but it's kind of heavy. Right, Teal'c?

"That is correct, O'Neill. Approximately a hundred and sixty pounds."

Jack gave that number some serious consideration, then said, "Yeah, that sounds right. Hey, we'd better get out of her way, Teal'c."

They moved down and off the ramp, then turned expectantly toward the ring. As hoped, all eyes were trained on the stargate.

Carter came through, Daniel by her side. There was a stunned silence. Then pandemonium.

Jack sat at the table and in the chair next to him, Daniel. Right where he belonged.

"You'll be happy to know, Doctor Jackson, that the statue the Kelonans put up in your honor is very -- lifelike."

"Excuse me, General?"

Hammond grinned and his face lost years. "You're a hero, Doctor. The ceremony was quite nice actually. But I believe I prefer the real thing to a statue."

Daniel gazed around the table and found only smiling faces. "Yes, well," he finally said as the pink faded from his face, "I'm sure the pigeons will -- enjoy -- it."

He didn't understand the laugher that greeted his words, but he didn't care either. He was home.

~~~~~

Paperwork. Examinations by Janet. Hammond scratching his head and trying to figure out to explain *this* one in his reports, plans to return to the planet -- with way more soldiers, and finally, people stopping by his still-intact office. People smiling, chattering

self-consciously, but clearly happy to see him.

The day wound down and he learned that, of course, he no longer had an apartment. He also learned that most of his belongings were at Jack's. Jack had actually blushed and stammered when he'd told Daniel. It had taken all of Daniel's self-restraint to keep from kissing the man into oblivion.

They hadn't talked, words would have seemed, somehow, anti-climatic, but Daniel knew that a conversations was inevitable.

"You ready to go home, Daniel?"

"Home?"

Jack got up from where he'd been sitting, next to Daniel in his office, and placed his hands on Daniel's shoulders. "Yeah," he whispered, his lips close to Daniel's ear, "home. You, me, home."

"Are you sure Jack?"

Brown eyes, eyes full of love, gazed steadily back at him. "Yes, Daniel, I'm sure. Home?"

Daniel rose, which put him in Jack's arms. "Home."

Carter sat on Teal'c's bed. Teal'c was on the floor, legs crossed. In the chair by the desk, sat Janet. Both women were well on their way to being drunk. Teal'c figured he'd be sleeping on the floor.

"I can't believe it, Janet."

"Like I can? I was his doctor. I mean, I saw that -- thing -- rise from his body and he died, you know? Yet, here he is. How do I write this one up, tell me that?"

Carter grinned sloppily. "Pour yourself another one, Janet. Things will become much clearer with alcohol. It's a rule when Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson are in your life."

Janet nodded sharply. "Good point." She poured, swallowed, then after wiping her mouth, said, "Am I supposed to believe in God now? Or is all of this so far beyond any god, that I should just shrug and say, 'This is an O'Neill-Jackson thing'?"

"I believe, Doctor Frasier, that this is not beyond your god, nor mine. I also believe that it is, as you say, 'an O'Neill-Jackson thing.' "

Carter and Janet looked at each other over Teal'c's head, then started laughing. The Jaffa's eyebrow rose.

It was going to be a long night. But in the morning, DanielJackson would be among them.

Jack flipped on the light and slipped out of his jacket. After hanging it up, he took Daniel's, did the same, then took his hand and led him into the living room.

"We'll have to go shopping tomorrow, for clothes. I kept a few of your things, but not enough."

Daniel allowed himself to be led as he said, "Do I have enough for a few days, Jack?"

"Sure."

"Then I see no reason, if you have food and coffee, to go shopping. Do you?"

Looking at the blue eyes, now dark with need, Jack shook his head slowly. "Um, no. No reason to go out at all, for several days."

"That's how I interpret our situation."

"You're handling this mighty easily, Doctor Jackson."

Daniel moved into Jack, pulled the man's zipper down and slid his hand inside Jack's slacks. "Easily? Handling this easily?"

Jack closed his eyes and groaned.

"No talking, Jack. We have time for that later. For explanations, apologies, the works. For now, it's enough that we're both home to stay and we're together."

"Amen," Jack ground out.

Daniel moved them both backward until they bumped against the couch. The back of Jack's legs hit the cushions and both fell onto the softness. Daniel's hands seemed to be everywhere as Jack's shirt was spread open and Daniel's palms smoothed over Jack's shoulders until the shirt was out of the way.

"So nice," Daniel murmured. "So very nice."

Jack managed to crack open one eye. "Daniel? Do you know what you're doing here?"

The look Daniel gave him was enough to shut him up. Right, Jack thought, this was nice, no doubt about it. But -- but--

Jack flipped them both over and thoroughly enjoyed the gasp from Daniel. Now it was Jack removing Daniel's black tee shirt, rolling it up to reveal smooth pale skin.

"Um, Jack? Do you know what *you're* doing?"

Jack shut him up with a kiss. With tongue. Deep tongue.

Hot and wet, urgent with an edge of fear and loss, they kissed. Jack ground against the man below him and nearly yelped in Daniel's mouth when the younger man's legs wrapped around him and pressed hard. Jack tore himself away from the kiss and raised up slightly. The sight nearly took his breath away.

Daniel's half open eyes were so dark with passion, that the blue was totally eclipsed. His lips were already swollen and a deep luscious red.

Jesus, he was beautiful.

The need to be more, do more, connect more, pounded through Jack's body. In a voice hoarse with lust, he asked, "Daniel, have you ever -- I mean, I really need to--"

Eyelids fluttered and Daniel's eyes focused on Jack's lips. He managed to whisper,"You got the necessary equipment?"

Jack smiled and placed Daniel's hand around his cock. "What do you think, Danny boy?" he leered.

Rolling his eyes, Daniel said, "Jack, I mean lube."

For a man with bad knees, Jack could move pretty fast. He was up and running before Daniel could say, "Astroglide."

Jack was back minutes later, thumping along on one leg as he struggled to get his slacks off while holding a tube of lubricant and condoms. By the time he reached the couch, he was naked as the proverbial jay bird. He took a few seconds to get Daniel in a similar condition, then dropped back on top of him.

"Much better, don'tcha think?"

Grinning, Daniel said,"Much. Thanks, Jack." Daniel then rewrapped his legs around Jack.

"Aw, God, Danny."

"Pop the top and do me."

Jack blinked. This was Daniel? His Daniel?

"Pop the top and *do* me, Daniel?"

"Jack, has anyone ever told you that you talk too much?"

"But 'do me'?"

Daniel laughed, then lifted his head and after biting Jack's ear, he whispered, "Fucking do me already, Jack."

"I can -- do -- that."

Amidst much laughter, a few randy comments, and the sharing of several wet and badly placed kisses, they got a condom opened and on Jack. Daniel brought his legs up higher and Jack, after a few moments of preparing Daniel, was ready.

Chocolate brown eyes locked onto passion-dark blues as Jack entered Daniel.

"Danny--"

"Ssh."

Daniel raised his hips and somehow, Jack was buried to the hilt.

"Fuck," Jack hissed out.

"Um -- yep."

Those were the last coherent moments for either man. Jack began to move, to thrust in and out as Daniel rose up to meet him. They never tore their gazes from each other, even when they kissed, and a rhythm was quickly established as each man gave and took.

"Jack -- I'm, I need--"

"I know, I know."

Somehow Jack squeezed his hand between their two bodies and wrapped his fingers around Daniel's straining cock. He pumped quickly, in time to his well-aimed thrusts, and was rewarded when Daniel's head fell back.

Jack latched onto Daniel's exposed neck and bit down.

"JAAACK!"

Jack felt the warm fluid of Daniel's orgasm hit him. That, along with the sight of Daniel's face, not to mention the incredible muscles clenching around his cock, sent Jack over the edge.

Jack was on his back, a sleeping Daniel now stretched out over him. He brought his hand up and ran his fingers though Daniel's damp hair. He had him back and this time, Jack would cherish him. Hold him, keep him safe, love him and never let go. Jack knew they had a great deal of talking to do, but now, it was enough that Daniel was home to stay. He went back to sleep.

"Isn't faith believing, all power can't be seen?"

Jack rubbed at his face, then stared hard at his reflection in the mirror. In the next room, Daniel slept soundly, Jack's pillow held to his chest. Jack on the other hand, was not asleep.

"No, you're most definitely not asleep. You're not in his arms, nor is he in yours," he said to his reflection.

Jack turned on the water and cupping his hands, he let his palms fill with the cold, clear liquid, then splashed his face. Eyes half closed, he reached for a towel, dried his face, then after tossing the damp terrycloth at the tub, he walked slowly out and into the softly lit bedroom.

Daniel was still there.

Whole, alive, healthy. And, by the way, in Jack's bed.

It wasn't possible.

Jack walked to the bed and looked down at the sleeping man. It was all he wanted to do. Look. Because he didn't for a minute believe that it would last. Any of it. Which was strange. Hadn't they both been saved and brought back from death before? But this time -- there should have been nothing to re-form back into the Daniel that lay so peacefully in Jack's bed. So how was it fucking possible?

"Jack, I'm not going anywhere."

O'Neill blinked. "Wha'?"

"You're looking at me as if I'll disappear any minute. I won't."

Daniel lifted himself up and propped his head on his hand. The sheet slipped down at his movement and revealed one pale hip. One very real pale hip.

"I know you're not going anywhere. What I don't understand," Jack said as he tried *not* to concentrate on the inviting hip, "is *how* you're here."

"You're not alone in asking that question. According to Oma, I should never have been able to take corporeal form yet, let alone do what I did on that planet. But," he shrugged, "here I am."

Jack felt a strange tingling sensation run up and down his spine. The impossible in Oma Desala's world -- possible? He moved back to his reading chair and sank into it. "Um, what do you mean when you say that you shouldn't have been able to do any of that?"

Frowning, Daniel sat up. "Jack, why did you move over there?"

"Just answer me, Danny."

Daniel scratched the back of his head, then yawned. "Sorry," he said apologetically.

"Daniel, what did you mean?"

"I guess I meant that being new to the whole ascension thing limits a -- being. Evidently it takes time to shape into something. Anything. I guess."

"I see. So is that," he pointed to Daniel's body, "real? Are you real or more like the man we first met in Kheb?"

"That was Oma."

"Whatever. Are you real?"

Daniel climbed out of Jack's bed and padded over to Jack's side. He knelt in front of the older man and placed both hands on Jack's thighs. "I'm real, Jack. I'm human. Totally, completely human. I can't shift back. This is the same old Daniel you've always been stuck with, okay?"

Unswayed, Jack asked softly, but with need tinging his voice, "How do you know?"

"Oma was there. She kind of stopped time. She told me that I had a special -- bond. With you. That she should have recognized it, should have known. She said that my destiny required a different road now. I think."

One scarred eyebrow rose. "You *think*?"

"Well, I was kind of in shock, you know? There I was, me, not some mess of radiated jello, and you were in front of me and I was touching you--"

"Touching me?"

"Yeah," Daniel said with a smile. "Touching you. Like this." He placed his hand once again on Jack's cheek. "So forgive me if I can't quote word for word Oma's reasonings."

Almost succumbing to the magnetism that was Daniel, Jack mumbled, "The rest. The rest of what you did--"

"She said I shouldn't have been able to do that either. But -- I was desperate. You were about to be killed. So I went with the flow -- so to speak."

"After everything I've failed to give you? After just -- letting you go, wiht that inane speech?"

"Jack, you're you. Sometimes you wear your emotions on your sleeve and sometimes, they're buried so deep that it takes naquada miners to get to them. And believe it or not, I love you like that. You're a pain in the ass and as Oma said, 'a real nut to crack', but I'm all for cracking -- nuts."

When Jack didn't answer immediately, Daniel rose gracefully and held out his hand. "Come on, Jack. Let's go back to bed, all right?"

Jack stared at the offered hand. The same hand that had taken so much radiation.

"I'm not going to dissolve, Jack. I promise."

"If you do, Daniel, you have to promise that you'll take me with you next time. I don't think -- I don't think I'd make it otherwise."

So many emotions crossed Daniel's face at that moment, but the final look of love drew Jack up. He took the hand.

"Jack, we're fools. You know that? Fools. So much time wasted. So many years."

"Cat and mouse. That's us. We danced in, then danced out. We both ran scared, didn't we?"

"Yes, we did. But no longer, right? We trust in each other, we trust in Sam and Teal'c. We trust in the team and we trust in our -- love."

Jack simply nodded. They moved back to the bed and with tired limbs, climbed in. Then, as if they'd been doing it for years, they shifted and moved until they'd found the best position in each other's arms. Jack pulled the covers over both of them, then groaned. "Damn, I forgot the light."

"No problem."

A split second later -- the light went out.

Jack frowned because Daniel's arms had never left Jack's body.

"Um, Daniel?"

FINIS
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sideburns, 2002.
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Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. These stories are for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. These stories may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author. Copyright on images remains with the above named rightsholders.
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