Revelations by ALF
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: First Time
Rated: Adult
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: A huge honkin' secret from Jack's past is revealed.

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Jack and Daniel were watching hockey together atJack's house. It had become a Saturday afternoonritual for the two men, and whilst Daniel still didn'texactly love hockey like Jack did, he could bear it.For Jack, he was willing to put up with a lot. And hegot his revenge by making Jack watch documentaries.

The two men were lounged companionably together onJack's sofa, Jack with beer in hand, yelling andcheering the antics of his team. Daniel held a can ofsoda, but was a lot more restrained. He did however,cheer as loudly as Jack when their team scored.

Just then, a knock sounded at the door.

"Pizza!" Jack cheered, heading for the door.

"I'll get more drinks," Daniel said, going through tothe kitchen.

Jack opened the door, wallet in hand, but wassurprised to find that instead of the pizza guy at thedoor, a woman and young girl stood there.

"Czech or German?" Daniel yelled from the kitchen, asJack stood in shock.

"Hello Jack," the woman said. "How are you?"

"Rachel," Jack stuttered in shock. He seemed to havelost the ability to think or speak as he stood staringat the couple on his doorstep.

Daniel stuck his head round the kitchen door,wondering what was taking Jack so long to reply. Hewas surprised to see Jack still stood in front of thedoor.

"Jack?" he called, curious. Jack looked round blankly,shock clearly etched on his face. Daniel hurried downthe hall, wondering what could have had such an effecton his friend.

"Can we come in?" the woman asked, indicating the rainfalling heavily outside. "It's kind of wet out here."

Jack took a step back, allowing them to come throughthe door. Then he closed the door behind them, butstill stood with one hand on the handle.

"What's going on?" Daniel asked.

"I'm Rachel Grey, this is my daughter Laura," thewoman said.

Daniel reached out to shake hands. "Daniel Jackson,"he said. "Are you friends of Jack's?" he was curiousas to what was going on, and why Jack seemed sodumbstruck.

"Sort of," Rachel replied. "I knew Jack a long timeago. Jack, can we talk please?" she turned to wherethe Colonel still stood by his door. He crossed now tosit on his couch.

"Why?" he asked, the question coming out in a harshtone that Daniel hadn't heard him use before. "It'sbeen ten years."

"There are things we need to discuss," Rachel said.Just then another knock sounded on the door. Danielwent to answer it; this time it was the pizza deliveryguy. Daniel paid him and took the boxes through to thekitchen. He had a feeling they wouldn't be eating anytime soon.

"Perhaps I should go," he said as he returned to thelounge.

"No, Daniel, you don't need to leave," Jack said.

"I think perhaps I do," Daniel said. "Whatever Rachelneeds to say to you, it's obviously private, so Ishould leave you to it." He reached for his jacket offthe coat rack. "You can call me later if you want,Jack." With that he waved goodbye and headed out thedoor.

The next day, although a Sunday, found Daniel at theBase bright and early. He had so much work to do, herarely had a whole weekend off. Saturday afternoons atJack's, though, were one luxury he couldn't dowithout. He was grateful of any chance to spend timealone with Jack, to try and maintain an illusion offriendship between the two men.

As he left the elevator, he saw Sam in the corridor upahead and called out to her. She stopped and waitedfor him to catch up.

"What are you doing today?" Sam asked, smiling atDaniel, trying not to look concerned at how tired heseemed, or the dark circles under his eyes

"Translations on that artefact SG7 brought back fromP2X778," Daniel replied. "What about you?"

"Helping Janet with the plants from M2C999," Sam said."We're hoping to find out something about theirmedicinal properties."

"Do you have time for coffee first?" Daniel asked. Samlooked at her watch.

"Sure, I'm not meeting Janet till 0800; I was just onmy way to the Commissary for breakfast anyway."

Once in the Commissary, Sam tried to persuade Danielto have some breakfast.

"You know that Janet's concerned that you've lostweight recently," she pointed out gently. "Man cannotlive on coffee alone." She tried to make it into ajoke.

"No, but Daniel can try," Daniel said. He didn't seemto have any appetite at the moment. Jack had notcalled him the evening before, and Daniel wasconcerned about him. He had spent a restless night,wondering who the mysterious Rachel was and whatexactly her relationship with Jack had been.

"Daniel?" Sam called his name, concerned about herfriend. He was lost in thought, with a worriedexpression on his face that she didn't like. He lookedup, startled, when she put a hand on his arm.

"Oh Sam, I'm sorry," he said, noticing the look ofconcern on her face. "I was miles away."

"Are you going to have some breakfast?" she askedagain.

"I guess I could manage some toast," Daniel said. Hewasn't really hungry, but didn't want Sam tellingJanet that he wasn't eating, as it would only causemore trouble in the long run.

The friends sat at a table in the corner of theCommissary, which was deserted this early on a Sundaymorning.

"Are you ok Daniel?" Sam asked, wondering what wasweighing so heavily on his mind.

"I'm fine, Sam," Daniel said. "Just a lot on my mindat the moment." At that moment, Janet came into theCommissary. Sam waved at her, and she came over totheir table.

"Hello Janet," Sam said.

"Hi Sam, hello Daniel," Janet said.

"Hello Janet," Daniel said, doing his best to smile,but failing miserably. Janet said down at the table.

"What's up?" she asked, her doctor's instincts alertedby the way Sam was looking at Daniel, and the wayDaniel himself looked.

"Nothing," Daniel said, in a not too convincing toneof voice.

"Daniel?" Janet persisted.

"I'm just tired," Daniel said.

"Not sleeping properly again?" Janet asked. "Maybe Ishould give you a check over later?"

"It's nothing, Janet," Daniel said. "Please don'tworry. I'll be fine."

"It's my job to worry," Janet told him.

"You know we only want to help," Sam told him. "Wecare about you Daniel."

Daniel smiled at that. "I know Sam, I promise I do.But it's nothing you can help me with. Now, I need togo and get to work." And with that, Daniel stood up toleave the Commissary.

"Ok," Sam said, "but promise me that you'll let meknow if there's anything we can do to help.

"I promise," Daniel said and smiled at the women as heleft.

Daniel was glad to get away from the two women andescape to his office to work. He hoped thatconcentrating on his work would help him to forgetwhat was on his mind. He couldn't stop thinking aboutthe day before at Jack's house and the mysteriousRachel. He had noticed that the little girl, Laura,had not spoken during the brief time they had been atJack's. He wondered why Rachel had brought the girlwith her to see Jack.

Sighing heavily, Daniel decided all this speculationwas getting him nowhere. He had decided not to discussthe visitor with Sam and Janet, knowing instinctivelyJack would not want it broadcast even that far. Hereached his office and sat down in front of theplaque, which was on his desk surrounded by books andpaper. He switched on the lamp and got down to work.

It was several hours later when the phone ringingdisturbed Daniel.

"Hello?" he said.

"Daniel, it's Jack," the voice at the other end of thephone said.

"Jack!" Daniel was surprised. "Is everything allright?"

"Um, yeah, it's fine," Jack said. "I just wanted toapologise for yesterday, you having to leave likethat."

"Oh, that's ok, Jack," Daniel said. He was glad Jackcouldn't see him. His face was burning, as it oftendid when he lied. He had never had a poker face whenit came to lying, unlike Jack.

"Well, that was all I wanted to say really," Jack wassaying now. "Sorry that our afternoon was spoiled."

"Thank you, Jack" Daniel said.

"Ok, Daniel, bye then," Daniel heard Jack say and thenthe line went dead. He put his phone down slowly,puzzled by Jack's behaviour. Why had Jack rung himjust to say sorry? He could have easily waited untilthe next day to have the conversation.

Before he had a chance to puzzle over it any further,Sam came into the room.

"Hey, Daniel, are you ready for lunch?" she asked.

"Sam," Daniel looked up in surprise. "Is it lunch timealready?"

"It's 12.30," Sam said. "Janet and I have finished ourwork so she's gone home to Cassie. I thought you mightlike to have lunch with me before I go and do any ofmy own work."

"Ok," Daniel said. He stacked his papers neatly andturned off the desk lamp. He knew that it waspointless to refuse Sam, as it would only get back toJanet.

Once they reached the Commissary, Daniel was surprisedto discover that he did actually have an appetite. Hetook a plateful of chicken salad and his inevitablecup of coffee. He and Sam sat at the same table theyhad that morning.

"How's the translation going?" Sam asked.

"Pretty well actually," Daniel said. "It's quite aninteresting language, a mixture of Aramaic and Latin,but with the odd bit of Egyptian thrown in for goodmeasure." Daniel got enthusiastic as he spoke, showingsome of his old excitement. Sam smiled at him, pleasedto see the transformation in her friend as hecontinued to talk about the translation. Whatever hadbeen bothering him that morning had obviously beenforgotten in the joy of his work. The colour returnedto his face, and he was eating lunch one-handed,gesturing with the other as he spoke. Sam wished thathe could always be this happy.

Eventually, Daniel ran out of steam and stoppedtalking.

"Sorry, Sam," he said. "I got a bit carried away."

"That's ok, Daniel," she replied. "It's good to seeyou getting into your work again. You've haven't beenthis enthusiastic for a while."

"I know," Daniel said.

"Do you want to talk about it?" Sam asked, almostholding her breath as she did so. She thought she knewwhat the problem was, but needed Daniel to say it. Ifhe didn't recognise the problem, she couldn't tellhim. He needed to work it out for himself.

"Not really," Daniel said in reply to her question.Sam sighed internally. Somehow that response didn'tsurprise her.

"Ok, but anytime you change your mind, Daniel, youknow where to find me." It was the best that she coulddo. She and Janet had discussed the situation duringtheir work that morning, and Sam knew she couldn'tforce Daniel to talk if he wasn't ready. They couldonly be patient and hope he opened up eventually,either that or the situation would resolve itselfanother way, although as that would require the minormiracle of Colonel Jack O'Neill opening up to hisfeelings, Sam wasn't holding her breath over thathappening.

Daniel nodded his appreciation of what Sam was saying."Thanks for the offer, Sam, I appreciate it," he said.He could guess some of what Sam was thinking, butbecause she was part of the problem, although throughno real fault of her own, Daniel couldn't talk to herabout what was bothering him.

Finishing their lunch, the two scientists went theirseparate ways.

The next day, Daniel was back at the SGC bright andearly. SG1 were scheduled to go on a mission laterthat day, and had an early briefing. Having workedtill quite late the night before, when he had finallygone home, Daniel had fallen into bed and gonestraight to sleep.

He headed for his office to pick up the information onthe translation he had done the day before, which hewould be briefing SG7 on after SG1's briefing. Once inthe briefing room, he poured a cup of coffee beforesettling down at the table. He was the first onethere, which wasn't that unusual.

A little while later, Sam and Teal'c came in, sayinggood morning and taking their seats. A couple ofminutes after that, General Hammond arrived. However,Colonel O'Neill was still missing.

"Before we start on the briefing, SG1, I have somenews for you," General Hammond had a serious look onhis face. "Colonel O'Neill will not be joining thebriefing today. He has requested a leave of absencefrom the SGC."




The rest of SG1 spoke simultaneously. Even Teal'c hadbeen surprised out of his usual stoic silence by theGeneral's announcement. The General looked at the teamcarefully. All three faces registered shock andsurprise at the news. He had known that thisinformation would hit the team badly and theirreactions bore this out.

It had been a shock to the General as well when theColonel had phoned him at home late on Saturday nightto make the request for a leave of absence forpersonal reasons. Despite the General's efforts to getan explanation from his best officer, Jack had givennothing away. He had pointed out to the General thathe did not have to give a reason for his absence,regulations permitted an officer to take personalleave without giving a detailed explanation. So theGeneral had had no choice but to agree with him andaccept the request. Nor had Hammond been able to getan idea from the Colonel as to how long he would beaway.

"It'll be a while, sir," was all Jack had said.

"What do you call a while, Jack?" the General asked."A week, a month, what?"

"I'm not sure at the moment, General," Jack replied,sounding apologetic. "Possibly weeks but not months.I'll let you know as soon as I do."

The General had sighed and agreed. "Very well, Jack,but please try and let me know as soon as possible howlong you'll be away. And in the meantime, if there isanything I can do to help you, please let me know."

"Yes sir, I will," Jack agreed. And he had put thephone down with no further comment.

The General sighed again now as he looked round thetable at his lead team. Coping with the Colonel'sabsence would not be easy for any of them. SG1 wereoutstanding as individuals, but together they were somuch more than any four such disparate people had theright to be. The Colonel was the glue that held themtogether. He was more than just an officer or teamleader, he was a father figure to the group, and hemade the mix work. He would not be easy to replace, asthe disastrous period when Colonel Makepeace hadbriefly taken over had shown. At the moment, there wasno one else in the SGC who would be suitable to takeover the leadership of the flagship team. Which madehis next announcement doubly hard to make.

"For the moment, the Colonel has not indicated howlong he will be absent for, therefore in the shortterm, Major Carter I would like you to lead SG1. Iwill assign another officer to you for the interim.Once I have a better idea of what will be happening, Iwill decide whether to look for someone else to leadthe team."

"Yes sir," Sam spoke first, nodding at the General.She had mixed feelings about leading the team. Whilstshe welcomed the opportunity, and knew that she coulddo the job, she had no illusions about her long-termability to replace the Colonel. He was too unique, toospecial to replace easily. She did not have his flairfor leadership or his individual style, which allowedhim to handle the three of them and balance theirskills to the best advantage of everyone, making themgreater than the sum of their parts.

"Did Colonel O'Neill say how long he would be gonefor?" Teal'c asked.

"No, Teal'c he didn't," the General replied.

After his initial reaction to the news, Daniel sat instunned silence. He didn't know what to say. Somehow,he knew this must have something to do with that womanRachel who had turned up at Jack's on Saturday. Thethought of an extended period without the Colonel'spresence was a painful one.

The General moved on to the briefing for SG1'smission. At the end, he spoke again about the Colonel.

"I know it will not be easy for you whilst ColonelO'Neill is absent, but I trust you will not let thisaffect your work. The fourth member of your team willjoin you after this mission."

Sam and Teal'c left the briefing room together, butDaniel stayed behind ready for his briefing with SG7.

"Is everything all right Dr Jackson?" the General hadpaused on the way back to his office. The briefingwith SG7 was not due to start for 15 minutes, and hehad calls to make in the meantime.

"Oh, yes, sir," Daniel said. He shuffled his papersawkwardly. The General nodded.

"I know how much you will miss Colonel O'Neill,Daniel," Hammond said, surprising Daniel by using hisfirst name.

"As will Sam and Teal'c," Daniel said, making the roteresponse, in the same way that Jack had talked aboutthe loss of Sam during the incident with the Entity.The General nodded, knowing that in actual fact, Jackmeant a lot more to Daniel than just a work colleague,but he had to respect Daniel's privacy. He carried oninto his office, leaving Daniel to stare at his papersin despair.

Once the briefing with SG7 was over, Daniel returnedto his office to prepare for SG1's mission to G3X777later that day. It was a routine exploration andsurvey of a planet, which seemed to be uninhabited.Daniel needed no special equipment or books so hespent the time until he needed to go and get ready toread and answer emails.

He did this absently, thinking about Jack at the sametime. He wondered whether he should call Jack or waitto see if the Colonel called him. When Sam came intohis office to accompany him to the gear up room, hejumped in surprise. He had been lost in thought,remembering again everything that had happened theprevious Saturday.

"Daniel, time to go get ready," Sam said.

"Huh?" Daniel looked up. "Already?"

Sam nodded, "already," she confirmed. Daniel shut downhis computer and got up to follow her.

Once they reached G3X777, the team set out on theirsurvey. A UAV had already been sent to the planet aswell as the usual MALP probe, and both had shown signsthat there might once have been habitation on theplanet. The team would also take samples of soil tocheck for the presence of Naquadah and other usefulminerals.

As they headed off into the almost inevitable forestto look for signs of life, humanoid or otherwise, Samraised the topic that was at the forefront ofeveryone's minds.

"Why do you think the Colonel asked for a leave ofabsence?" she asked, looking from Daniel to Teal'c.Teal'c shrugged his shoulders.

"I know of no reason why he should wish to be absentfrom the SGC," he said.

Daniel hesitated, wondering whether to say anythingabout Saturday. In the end, he decided to say nothing,after all Jack had clearly not even said anything toGeneral Hammond about his reasons for his absence, andDaniel did not have any real proof that it wasanything to do with Rachel, just suspicions. He wouldwait a while before saying anything.

"I don't know either," he said, turning his head away,not liking the fact that he was technically lying tohis friends.

"What was he like on Saturday?" Sam asked, sensingthat Daniel was being evasive.

"Oh, you know," Daniel said, waving a hand. "He wasJack."

Sam stared at him for a moment, and even Teal'c lookeda little surprised by Daniel's response. Danielhowever, wandered off to examine a large stone set ina small clearing, which seemed to have markings ofsome kind on it.

"This looks interesting," he said over his shoulder.Sam headed over to join him, dropping the subject ofColonel O'Neill for the time being. Daniel requiredpatience and coaxing to part with sensitiveinformation, but Sam was willing to take the time.

The rest of the mission was fairly routine. Themarkings on the rock turned out not to be a languageand the soil samples were quickly gathered. Thesupposed ruins the UAV had shown on its flight turnedout to be more large stones of a similar type to theone near the Gate. Closer inspection showed that theywere not buildings of any kind. Eventually, Sam calledfor their return to the 'Gate, and home.

Once back on Earth, they went through the debrief androutine medical exams quickly. Their next mission wasnot for a couple of days, and they would meet theirnew team member that day.

Whilst SG1 were trying to come to terms with theirloss, their team leader was trying to come to termswith the life changing news he had been given onSaturday when Rachel had arrived back in his life withLaura.

After Daniel had left, Jack had given Rachel an angrylook.

"So what are you doing here then?" he asked. "What'ssuddenly so important you need to turn on my doorstepafter 10 years without some much as a postcard, letteror phone call?"

"Laura, honey, why don't you read your book," Rachelhad pulled a paperback out of her coat pocket andhanded it to the girl. Laura took the book and went tosit on the steps up to the rest of the house. Sheopened it and started reading. Rachel went to sit nextto Jack on the couch.

"There's no easy way to say this Jack," she said, "soI'll just come out with it. I want you to look afterour daughter because I'm dying and I can't look afterher any more."

Jack sat looking at her in shock, mouth hanging open.He couldn't believe what he had just heard.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he yelled. Hestood up and walked over to the window.

"Do you have to shout?" Rachel asked quietly. "Itupsets Laura." She gestured at her daughter, who waslooking at them warily. Rachel crossed the room tocrouch in front of her. "It's all right honey," shesaid. "Carry on with your book." She patted the girlon the arm then walked over to stand beside Jack, whostood resting his forehead on the cold glass.

"Why don't we talk outside?" Rachel gestured at thegarden. "It's stopped raining for a bit, and there arethings I'd have to say that I'd prefer Laura not tohear."

"Why bring her then?" Jack snapped, not looking round.

"I had no choice," Rachel said. "I don't know anyonein Colorado Springs but you. We only arrived here thismorning. Please, Jack," she put a hand on his armtentatively, but Jack immediately flinched away, soshe let it fall to her side again. He did however,slide the French window open and step outside. Rachelfollowed him on to the patio, where he stood lookingat her.

"So talk, then," he said. "The sooner you're done, thesooner you leave." His face was set like stone, lipscompressed in a thin line. It was a look thatterrified his subordinates, but Rachel seemedunimpressed.

"You don't scare me Jack," she said. "I've seen yourother side, remember?"

"Just get to the point," Jack said.

"The point is, Jack," Rachel said, "that I'm dying oflymphoma and my child needs someone to raise her. Asyou're her father, you seem to be the best candidate."

"How do I know you're telling the truth?" Jack asked,still unyielding.

"I don't know," Rachel said, puzzled by the question."What reason would I have for lying to you?"

"Oh, I can think of plenty," Jack said sarcastically."Starting with money and going downhill from there."

"This isn't a scam," Rachel said. "I've changed sincethe last time we met."

"I find that hard to believe," Jack said. "You'll haveto work a bit harder than that to convince me."

"I don't know how you expect me to do that Jack,"Rachel said, frowning. She couldn't believe that Jackwas being so difficult about things. She had notrealised that he had such a hard side to him.

When she had known him before, Jack had been goingthrough a difficult patch with Sara after the birth ofCharlie. She had conned her way onto the Airforce Basewhere Jack was based at the time and into a job in theOfficers' Club. Jack had got to know her when he hadfrequented the bar before a Special Forces mission.They had only slept together once, when Jack had beendrunk. Two days later, he had gone abroad on hismission, and when he returned, he heard all about howthe barmaid at the OC had run off with a lot of moneyfrom the till. That had been the last he had heard ofher. Until now.

"Well," he said now, "You can start by telling me whyyou think I would want to bring up a child that Idon't know. And how do I even know she's mine? For allI know you were sleeping with half the Base!"

Rachel flinched back from that remark. "How dare you?"she said. "What sort of person do you think I am?"

"Well, I don't know do I?" Jack sneered. "That's thewhole point I'm trying to make here."

The argument had gone on for a long time, round andround. Laura had eventually come out into the gardento say that she was hungry, so Jack had put the pizzashe and Daniel had been planning to share into the ovento reheat and made a salad to go with them.

Whilst they had been eating, Jack had taken theopportunity to study Laura without seeming to, tryingto see if there was any resemblance to himself, or toCharlie. He couldn't see any, but didn't know whetherthis was because there wasn't any, or because hedidn't want to see any.

After they had eaten, he agreed to drive Rachel andLaura back to the motel where they were staying.Afterwards, he had sat up half the night, wrestlingwith what to do next. However, he couldn't seem todecide. He saw the face of Charlie in front of him ashe thought about Laura. If she really were hisdaughter, it would go a small way to making up for theloss of his son to have another chance to raise achild. He sipped whisky whilst he sat in the darkenedlounge, thinking.

Eventually, the only conclusion he came to was that hecouldn't decide what to do. So he decided he neededsome time off to think. He rang General Hammond andrequested a leave of absence. He had been deliberatelyvague in his conversation with the General because hedid not know himself what he would be doing yet.

The next problem was what to say to his team, ifanything. He felt guilty abandoning them, but knewthat he had no choice. He would not be able to do hisjob properly whilst having this problem weighing onhis mind. In the end, though he had opted for thecoward's route and decided to say nothing, leaving itto Hammond to tell them. Knowing Daniel, he wouldprobably guess it was something to do with Rachel, butJack couldn't face the thought of telling his friendthe truth. He didn't like the idea of seeing thedisappointment in Daniel's face if he told him aboutRachel. Although he wasn't actually married to Saraany more, he had still cheated on her and he couldn'thelp feeling that Daniel wouldn't approve of that.

However, he felt he owed Daniel something for the wayhe had ruined their Saturday afternoon, so on Sundayhe called Daniel at the Base to apologise. He hadphoned the SGC first, guessing that Daniel would be inhis office working, rather than at home. Theconversation had been brief, but Jack could tell thatDaniel was unhappy about things. Daniel not onlycouldn't lie worth a damn, he couldn't disguise thecuriosity in his voice either. However he was too muchof a gentleman to ask questions of Jack. Instead hewaited - in vain - for Jack to volunteer information.When it wasn't forthcoming, he said goodbye, thankingJack for his apology.

After he had put the phone down, Jack had sat therewishing he could have said more to Daniel, he hated tolet his friend down. He worried most of all about howthe archaeologist would cope without him there leadingthe team. Sam and Teal'c were competent warriors, butDaniel was different, a fact that few peopleappreciated. They rarely saw past the genius exteriorto the real man underneath. Daniel was so much morethan just an archaeologist or linguist.

As he sat there, contemplating Daniel, the phone rangunder Jack's hand, surprising him. He picked thereceiver up reluctantly.

"Hello?" he said.

It was Rachel, phoning to ask if they could talk somemore. Jack thought about it. He thought it wasprobably pointless, but he couldn't just ignore thesituation, so he agreed to meet and talk.

"I'll pick you up from the motel," he offered. "If wego to the park, Laura can play safely whilst we talk."

"Thanks, Jack," Rachel said.

So they had sat in the park all afternoon, watchingLaura playing on the swings and climbing frame whilstthey talked. Jack had asked Rachel about the incidenton the Base in Florida.

"I'm not proud of what I did," Rachel said, "but I wasdesperate at the time. I felt trapped by my situation,and needed a way out. Taking the money seemed the onlyway I could do that."

"Why didn't you ask me for help?" Jack asked.

"Because after we slept together, I felt bad. I knowyou were having a difficult time with your wife, butyou were totally hung up on Charlie. I couldn't doanything to break that connection you had, and Ididn't want to. Being a parent is a very preciousthing."

Jack looked at her, and suddenly saw the woman that hehad known all those years ago. He had liked Rachel alot, she had been fun to talk to, and hadn't beenimpressed by his job in Special Forces. She hadn'tbeen bothered that he didn't talk about his workeither.

"Look, Rachel, I'm still not sure about this wholeidea of bringing up Laura. My job isn't really suitedto me being a single parent, even if she is mydaughter, which I'm still not convinced of," Jacksaid.

"Well, there's only way to find out for sure," Rachelsaid. "A paternity test."

Jack nodded his head in agreement. "Ok," he said. Hewas a bit surprised that Rachel had suggested this wayout, but realised that this was the only way to findout the truth about Laura's paternity. "We can go tothe hospital tomorrow and arrange the test. I know adoctor who will do it for us."

"Are you sure?" Rachel asked, surprised that Jack hadagreed so readily to the test.

"Yea, I'm sure," Jack replied. "I want to sort thisout."

The next day, Jack picked up Laura and Rachel anddrove them to the hospital. He had arranged anappointment with Janet for late in the day. He knewthe doctor was curious as to what was going on, andthat she was aware of his current absence from theSGC, but he trusted in her role as his doctor to bediscreet.

The test was short and painless, but Janet worked hercharm on Laura any way to ensure the little girl wasnot upset by the procedure. Afterwards, Rachel tookher outside to wait whilst Jack had his blood testdone.

"Is everything ok, sir?" Janet asked as she preparedto draw his blood.

"You ask me this whilst you have a needle in yourhand?" Jack asked jokingly.

"Come on, Colonel, this is me you're talking to,"Janet said. "You can trust me, I'm bound bypatient/doctor confidentiality. There must a reasonwhy you're doing this, I take it it's connected toyour current leave of absence from the SGC?"

"There is a reason for it," Jack admitted cautiously."And yes, it is related to my current absence."

"Are you going make me draw out the answers with thisblood?" Janet joked as she put the needle into hisarm.

"I'd really prefer not to talk about it Janet," Jacksaid as he watched the vial fill up with his blood."It's a difficult situation, which I'm still trying tosort out for myself."

"Talking about it might help," Janet suggested to him.She carefully withdrew the needle, then put a piece ofcotton wool over the puncture mark. Jack automaticallybent his arm as Janet reached for a plaster.

Jack looked at the petite doctor, who was allseriousness now. He wondered how she would react tothe news of his adultery. He used the harsh worddeliberately in his head, because that was what he wasguilty of, even if it had only been a drunkenone-night stand.

"Perhaps when I get the results," he said. "But rightnow, I don't think talking would help me."

Janet nodded. "Ok, Colonel, but remember, I'm alwaysavailable if you change your mind."

"Thanks, Doc," the Colonel nodded his appreciation ofthe offer. "When will the results be ready?"

"A couple of days," she told him.

"And how's things at the SGC?" he asked casually as hewatched Janet label the vial of blood and put it downnext to the sample of Laura's blood she had takenearlier.

Janet looked around at him, senses alert. She wasn'tfooled by the casual tone for a second. She knewexactly what he was asking - more to the point, who hewas asking about.

"Everything's fine," she said. "Sam lead the missiontoday and it was pretty routine stuff. She's leadingthe team for the moment."

"Who's the fourth?" Jack asked.

"At the moment, no-one," Janet told him. "I think theGeneral is going to bring in a lower ranked officeruntil he finds someone suitable to lead the team.Unless, of course, you come back first."

As she made this last comment, Janet looked at theColonel carefully. He just nodded at her, face inneutral.

"I should get going," he said, standing up, "Racheland Laura are waiting."

"Ok, Colonel. You can make an appointment to come backin two days for the results, or if you prefer you cancall in for them," she told him.

"Thanks Doc," he said, nodding his appreciation.

The next two days, Jack spent time with Rachel andLaura getting to know them. Laura was a quiet,studious girl, who spent a lot of time reading. Shewas totally different to Charlie had been, and she wasa lot quieter than Cassie was as well. Jack liked herthough; she was well spoken and endlessly curious. Insome respects, she reminded Jack of Daniel, and he hadan idea of what the archaeologist must have been likeat that age.

To Jack's surprise, Daniel had not phoned or calledround during the two days. Neither had Sam. Jackwondered briefly if Janet had said something to them,then dismissed the thought. She was too professionalto do that. They were probably both too busy to findthe time to call him.

Finally, the time had come for Jack to get the resultsof the paternity test. He had decided to call for theresults, knowing he would probably only have to speakto a secretary rather than Janet if he did it thatway. He had told Rachel that he would call her withthe results of the test when he had them, and she hadagreed. He was glad she had not wanted to be therewith him when he found out. It gave him a chance todigest the news privately and control his reactionsbefore he spoke to Rachel.

The secretary was polite and helpful. "Yes sir, theresults have arrived," she told him. Jack waitedpatiently through the medical jargon until she got tothe point.

"So there's no doubt?" he asked.

"No sir, none at all," she told him.

"I see," Jack said slowly, "thank you." He put thephone down gently, taking a deep breath as he resistedthe urge to yell. He went into the kitchen to fetch abeer, drinking it down in three gulps, then tookanother bottle from the fridge, which he sipped fromslowly before going back into the lounge.

He picked up the phone ready to call Rachel. Before hecould dial the number though, the phone rang. Hepressed the button to answer

"Hello?" he said cautiously.

"Jack?" a voice said equally cautiously.

"Daniel," Jack said, recognising the voice instantly.Daniel's tone was guarded, and Jack could sense he wasworried about the reception he was going to get.

"How are you?" Daniel asked.

"I'm fine, Daniel," Jack replied, hoping he soundedmore convincing than he felt. He didn't want to talkto Daniel right now, the timing was awful as he hadthe whole Rachel situation to try and sort out.

"I was wondering if you wanted to go out for pizzawith us tonight?" Daniel asked hopefully,

"Aren't you going on a mission tomorrow?" Jack asked.

"Yes," Daniel agreed, "but not until late in the day,so we thought we'd have a team night out first."

"I'm not on the team at the moment," Jack pointed outgently, not wanting to hurt Daniel's feelings.

"The important phrase there, Jack, is 'at themoment'," Daniel said.

"Now you're splitting hairs," Jack countered, a littlemore forcefully. He winced as he said it, almostfeeling Daniel's hurt down the phone, but he couldn'thelp himself. He just couldn't deal with Daniel at themoment.

"Fine, Jack," Daniel said, anger in his tone now. "Ifyou're not interested in spending time with the teamand sharing with us whatever is happening in your liferight now, I'll make sure I tell Teal'c and Sam toleave you well enough alone. I thought we were family,Jack, but obviously I was wrong."

With that, the phone was slammed down loudly in Jack'sear, leaving it vibrating with the aftershock of angryarchaeologist. Jack hit the off button on his phoneand swore loudly. He hated what he had just done toDaniel. It was almost as bad as when he had goneundercover to find the mole in the SGC and he had saidall that stuff to Daniel about not being friends. Ithad taken months for him to properly make that up withDaniel, even though Daniel had tried to dismiss it bysaying that the team had drawn straws to see who wouldcome see him. Jack, however, had not been convinced bythat remark, and had eventually got Carter to admit tohim that it wasn't true, it was Daniel's way of tryingto even things up with Jack for the hurt he hadinflicted on the team.

Jack drained his second beer in a few seconds, thenslammed the bottle down on the table. He needed tocall Rachel, who would be waiting for the news of thepaternity test, but right now he was so angry, hedidn't think he was capable of holding a rationalconversation with her. Sighing heavily, he went andfetched a third beer from the kitchen.

Back in the lounge, he picked up the phone again,ready to call Rachel. He didn't want to make the call,but couldn't put it off any longer. He dialled thenumber quickly, and the phone was picked up on thefirst ring. He wasn't surprised, Rachel had obviouslybeen waiting for his call.

"Rachel," he said as she answered the phone. "It'sJack. I've got the results."

"And?" she said.

"Laura's mine," Jack said flatly. "You were tellingthe truth."

"Thank you," Rachel said softly. She knew how much theadmission had cost Jack, the pain in his voice wasevident even on the phone. "So what now?" she asked.

"I don't know," Jack said, the shrug in his voicetravelling down the phone line.

"We should talk," Rachel said.

"Again?" Jack asked, unable to hid the sarcasm in hisvoice.

"Please Jack, don't make this any harder than it needbe," Rachel said.

"Oh please, not clichés," Jack groaned. "Look, I'llcall you in a day or so, ok. I need time to sortthings out." He didn't bother saying goodbye, justhung up. He really couldn't handle this right now.

After sitting sipping his beer for a few minutes, hefinally came to a decision. What he needed right now,he decided was a change of scenery. He would go to hiscabin in Minnesota and spend a few days fishing andthinking. With the decision made, he went to hisbedroom to pack. He threw a few things in a bag, thenwent through to the garage to pick up his fishinggear. Once the car was loaded up, he went through thehouse making sure everything was locked up. Finally,he switched on the answering machine before headingout the front door and locking it behind him.

Before setting off across country, he stopped off atthe store to pick up some food and beer, which heloaded into the back of the car with his fishing gear.Once on the Interstate, he turned up his CD player totop volume, blasting opera through the car. Hewhistled along as he drove. The further he travelledfrom home, the more he relaxed.

Daniel slammed his phone down so hard he cracked thecase. He couldn't believe Jack could be soinsensitive! It was like the whole mole business allover again.

"Daniel?" Sam looked at him concerned. She hadn't seenDaniel this angry for a while.

"He's not interested in seeing us," Daniel said,throwing the phone aside.

"I got that," Sam said. "What did he say?"

"He's not on the team at the moment," Daniel said."Which is a technicality really. But that doesn't seemto bother him. He's regressed back to Colonel Robotagain." There was a bitter tone to his voice that Samdidn't like.

"Well, you know what he's like," Sam said. "Whensomething bothers him, he retreats. He doesn't knowhow to deal emotionally so he shuts down. We just haveto be patient."

"I don't know how much longer I can be patient for,Sam," Daniel said, his voice cracking a little withemotion. Sam moved to sit next to him on the couch.She put a hand on his arm.

"Don't say that, Daniel," she said. "He'll come roundeventually."

"Do you really think that?" Daniel asked, a pleadingnote in his voice.

"If he doesn't he'll have me to deal with," Sam said,a note of menace in her tone. Daniel actually managedto smile at that remark. The thought of Sam having aconversation with Jack on the subject of hisrelationship with Daniel was a scary one.

"Well, anyway, let's forget about him for the timebeing and concentrate on having a good night tonight,"Daniel said resolutely.

Sam nodded agreement "that's a good idea, Daniel," shesaid.

SG1's next mission was a three day one to S4C222,where they made contact with a friendly race of alienswhose culture was matriarchal, much to Sam's delight.It was a straightforward mission, just what was neededto break in their new team member, Lieutenant JohnMichaels, who had transferred to SG1 from SG3, wherehe had been doing good work. He was a little overawedto be joining the legendary SG1, but Sam and Danielworked hard to make him feel welcome, and even Teal'cwas almost talkative during the course of the mission.

After the mission, the four of them went out togetherto O'Malley's for dinner. It was a light-heartedevening, full of laughter, which they all reallyenjoyed. Afterwards, Daniel drove Sam home. In thecar, Sam looked at Daniel.

"That was a good evening," she said.

Daniel nodded agreement, not looking round from theroad.

"Michaels seems nice," she added. That did make Daniellook round.

"Nice?" he asked.

"Friendly, intelligent, hard working," Sam elaborated,smiling.

"And you're his team leader," Daniel said with a grin.

"Oh, I don't think that matters," Sam grinned back,enjoying the banter. "It wasn't me he was staring atfor the whole three days."

"What do you mean?" Daniel asked as he stopped outsideSam's house.

Sam looked at him. "You mean you didn't notice?" shesaid in surprise.

"Notice what?" Daniel asked.

"The way Lieutenant Michaels stared at you the wholethree days we were on the mission," Sam said slowlyand patiently, as if talking to a child.

"I don't know what you mean," Daniel said.

Sam sighed and smiled at Daniel affectionately; he wastotally clueless about the effect that he had on bothmen and women alike. Which was just as well really,because otherwise it might have gone to his head,making him pretty unbearable and thus not the Danieleveryone knew and loved.

"Never mind," she said now. "I'd better get going.I'll see you next week, Daniel," she leaned over andgave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Bye Sam," Daniel replied, smiling at her.

Sam got out of the car and went into the house. Sheturned to wave at Daniel before closing the frontdoor. The fact that he waited till she got into thehouse before driving off was typical of Daniel, eventhough she was more than capable of defending herself.

Daniel drove home slowly, wondering if it was worthcalling round to Jack's house the next day. He missedJack more than he thought he would, even though it hadonly been a week since he had seen him. He wanted toapologise for the argument they had had on the phone,but more than that he wanted to find out what waskeeping Jack away from the SGC.

The next day, a Sunday, Daniel was up early. He hadhardly slept the night before because he had beenwondering whether to try and call on Jack. In the end,he had decided that he had to give it a try. Thecurrent state of his relationship with Jack wasunbearable and Daniel wanted to try and sort thingsout. Even if they couldn't go back to the easyrelationship they had had at the start of the Stargateprogramme, Daniel wanted to reclaim some sort ofrelationship with him. He just hoped that Jack feltthe same way.

Deciding that surprise was the best form of attack, inorder to ensure that Jack had no chance to get away orrefuse to see him, Daniel set out without phoningfirst. He left fairly early because that alsoincreased his chances of finding Jack at home.

The drive was a short one and the town was fairlyempty, which meant that it was only a few minuteslater that Daniel found himself pulling up in Jack'sdriveway. He looked around as he got out of the car,but couldn't see Jack's jeep anywhere in sight. Hefrowned to himself. Walking up the path, he couldalmost sense that the house was empty even before heknocked on the door. Sure enough, Jack did not appear.Sighing with frustration, Daniel turned to head backdown the path and almost collided with the woman whomhe had met at Jack's house the previous Saturday.

"Sorry," he apologised, stepping back.

"No, my fault," she said. "I did kind of creep upbehind you."

"It's Rachel, isn't it?" Daniel asked, remembering thename at the last second.

"And you're Daniel, Jack's friend," she replied.

"That's right," Daniel nodded agreement.

"Is he not in?" Rachel asked.

"Apparently not," Daniel replied. "Where's yourdaughter?" he asked suddenly, realising that shewasn't there.

"Staying with a friend," Rachel said. "So how do youknow Jack?"

"We work together," Daniel said.

Oh. So what do you do? Only you don't look like anypilot I ever met." She smiled as she said it, takingthe sting out of the remark.

"Oh, no, I'm not in the Air Force," Daniel smiledback. "I'm an archaeologist."

"What's that got to do with the Air Force?" Rachelasked, curious now.

"Um, well," Daniel hesitated, not sure what to say.

"Look, it's ok," Rachel said. "I guess it's none of mybusiness anyway. Have you any idea where Jack mighthave gone? I really need to speak to him."

"Well not really," Daniel said. "Sorry."

"Ok. Well I guess I should head back anyway," Rachelheaded down the path to her rental car, which wasparked behind Daniel's.

She drove away, leaving Daniel standing on the pathlooking after her. He wondered exactly what was goingon between her and Jack. As he got back into his car,his mobile phone rang.

"Hello?" he said.

"Daniel, it's Sam," the voice at the other end said.

"Sam, how are you?" Daniel asked. A laugh sounded downthe phone.

"One too many last night, I think," she replied.

"Oh," Daniel said. He had not really noticed how muchSam had been drinking the night before.

"Are you working today?" she asked.

"No," Daniel said. "I'm actually at Jack's house."

"Oh, I should go," Sam said. "I didn't mean tointerrupt anything."

"It's all right, Sam, he's not here," Daniel quicklyreassured her. "I guess he decided to go away for afew days."

"Oh, right," Sam said. "Perhaps he went to his cabin."

"That's what I was thinking," Daniel said.

"Are you going to go up there?" Sam asked.

"I'm not sure that would be a good idea," Danielreplied. "He obviously wants to be left alone."

"That doesn't mean he should be," Sam pointed out.Daniel wasn't sure about the logic of that remark.

"I don't know, Sam, I got pretty mad with him theother day, I'm sure he doesn't want me turning upthere," he said.

"You don't know till you try," Sam said. "I think youshould go. We're on stand down for two days, and thetime off wouldn't hurt you. You've been working harderthan ever lately. You know what Janet said to youlast week in the Commissary."

Daniel pulled a face as he remembered thatconversation. He thought about it for a second. "Well,I guess it won't hurt to try," he said finally. "Theworst that happens is Jack gets even more angry withme."

"I don't think that's likely to happen," Sam said."Anyway, I have to go, just promise me you'll call mewhen you get back."

"I promise," Daniel agreed. As he said goodbye to Samand shut off his phone, he wondered whether he was infact doing the right thing. But one way or another,this confrontation with Jack had to come. Putting itoff wasn't doing either of them any favours. So hedrove back to his apartment, picked up a couple ofthings and then set off for Minnesota.

Jack was lying on his couch, dozing, when a suddenloud knocking at the door startled him awake. He gotup cautiously, wondering who could be at his door. Itwas late at night and his cabin was well off thebeaten track. He opened the door to find a soaking wetDaniel stood there.

"Daniel!" he said in surprise, ushering him inside."What are you doing here?" Daniel sneezed severaltimes and Jack stepped back from him. "Never mind,"Jack said. "Tell me later. You need to change andfast. Come on." He pulled Daniel after him to hisbedroom.

Daniel followed behind Jack, squelching as he went. Hewas shivering with cold and his teeth were starting tochatter. In Jack's bedroom, he stood waiting whilstJack pulled clothes out of the drawers. He wasuncomfortable being in Jack's bedroom, but knew he hadno choice. Jack handed him the pile of clothes andthen ushered him through to the bathroom.

"Go ahead and shower before you change," Jacksuggested, "It'll warm you up."

"Thanks," Daniel said, sneezing again as he said it.

Jack waved a hand, "No problem Daniel," he said. Heleft Daniel alone in the bathroom, going through tothe kitchen to make a hot drink.

Daniel stripped off his wet clothes and left them in aheap on the floor whilst he had a shower. He turnedthe water up as hot as he could bear for the first fewminutes, then turned it back down again to a moremanageable level. As he towelled himself dry, hewondered how Jack was going to react once he explainedwhy he was here.

A few minutes later, Jack looked up as Daniel came outof the bathroom dressed in a pair of his sweatpantsand a sweatshirt. His hair was still damp and tousledfrom the shower and Jack had to resist an urge to runhis fingers through the hair to straighten it out. Hecouldn't believe how gorgeous Daniel looked dressed socasually.

"Hot chocolate?" he finally managed to ask, holdingout a mug to Daniel.

"Thanks," Daniel took the cup, dropping his eyes fromJack's gaze. He was embarrassed by the scrutiny.

"Where are your clothes?" Jack asked. Daniel gesturedbehind him at the bathroom.

"I don't have a washing machine," Jack told him, "butI have some lines in the kitchen you can hang themon."

"Ok," Daniel put down the mug of chocolate and went tofetch his clothes. He looked around at the cabin as hefollowed Jack through to the kitchen. It was quite abit bigger than Daniel had thought it would be, butwas still fairly basic. Although there was obviouslyelectricity, because of the hot water for the shower,Jack had a fire burning in the grate and several lampsand candles spread around the room, rather thanelectric lights.

"You have an Aga!" Daniel exclaimed in surprise as hefollowed Jack into the kitchen.

"Yea," Jack said, smiling. "Don't sound quite sosurprised, Daniel."

"Just not what I was expecting to see," Daniel said.

Jack shrugged, "They're economical," he said "andfairly practical. The power here isn't too reliable,so this ensures I have warmth and food in case I everget trapped."

"Trapped?" Daniel asked, eyes widening in surprise.

"Don't worry Daniel, it usually only happens in thewinter, if we have a lot of snow," Jack reassured him.

"Oh," Daniel said. He let Jack take his clothes andhang them on the lines he had strung across thekitchen.

"So what exactly are you doing here, Daniel?" Jackasked as they went back into the lounge. "And why didyou turn up on my doorstep looking like a drownedrat?"

"Um, well I came to apologise," Daniel said.

"You came all this way just to apologise?" Jack askedincredulously.

"Well, that and to see if you're all right," Danielsaid. "We're all concerned about you Jack."

"Right," Jack said. "You're all concerned about me.And this has nothing to do with the fact that you sawthis stranger at my house last week."

"Actually, no, it doesn't," Daniel said.

"Don't bother lying Daniel, it doesn't suit you," Jacksaid.

"I'm not lying," Daniel denied the accusation angrily."I am worried. We're all worried," he correctedhimself, hoping Jack hadn't noticed the slip. "And foryour information, Rachel is looking for you as well. Icalled by your house this morning and she was there,wondering where you'd disappeared to. I didn't sayanything to her. Oh and just for the record, I haven'tsaid anything to anyone at the SGC about her either."He crossed to the far side of the room to put as muchspace between himself and Jack as possible.

Jack watched Daniel's back, which was giving off wavesof anger. He could tell by Daniel's posture that hehad his arms crossed and was hugging himself in theway he always did when angry or upset. He sighed. Thiswas not what he had wanted to happen. Deciding thatthere was no point putting things off any longer, hecrossed the room.

"Daniel," he said softly. Daniel ignored him, restinghis head on the window. "Daniel," Jack said again,putting a hand on his arm. "I'm sorry for yelling."

Daniel turned to look at him. "Is that it?" he asked.

"No, that's not it," Jack said. "But will it do for astart?"

Daniel looked at him thoughtfully. Jack offered him atentative smile. "You still haven't told me why youarrived looking like a drowned rat," he said.

"My car broke down," Daniel said abruptly, turningaround fully to face Jack.

"Where?" Jack asked.

"About three miles away," Daniel admitted.

"You walked three miles in the rain to get here?" Jackasked, surprised.

"Didn't have a lot of choice," Daniel said.

"You could have called me," Jack suggested.

"The battery on my phone was flat," Daniel admittedwith a blush.

"Oh Daniel," Jack said. "What are we going to do withyou?"

"I'm sorry Jack," Daniel said softly. "I don't mean tobe so hopeless."

"Come and sit down," Jack said, taking Daniel's handand leading him over to the couch. "I'll tell youwhat's going on. I'd already decided to come back andtell you what was happening, and to apologise."

"Apologise for what?" Daniel asked, his curiositypiqued by what Jack was saying.

"I'll tell you the whole story," Jack said. He settledinto a corner of the couch, then stretched his legsout on the coffee table. Daniel sat at the oppositeend, turning so that he could see Jack as he talked.

"Basically, it's a simple but not pleasant story,"Jack began. "I knew Rachel 10 years ago when I wasbased at Florida briefly. It was just after Charliewas born, and Sara and I were going through a badpatch."

As Jack told the story, Daniel watched him carefully,noting the play of expressions over Jack's face as hetalked. Jack, however, seemed to find the tablefascinating. He stared at it as he talked,deliberately avoiding looking at Daniel. After he hadtold Daniel everything, he couldn't turn and look atthe other man, he was too afraid of what he might seeon Daniel's face.

Daniel sat in silence for a few minutes, digestingwhat Jack had told him.

"So what are you going to do?" he asked at last.

Jack turned finally to look at him. "Is that all youcan say?" he asked, surprised.

"Well, there's obviously lots of things I could say,"Daniel told him. "But that seems the most importantquestion. I know it's probably the most selfishquestion to ask, but I'd like to know if you're goingto leave SG1 to be a father. I would say the twothings were mutually exclusive."

Jack looked at Daniel, who looked back at him,challenge in every line of his body. Finally, Jacklooked away, unable to face the challenge.

"I don't know," he said finally. "I don't want to giveup SG1, but at the same time, I could never be a deskjockey. You can understand that can't you Daniel?" heappealed, looking for some understanding in hisfriend's expression. "You feel the same way aboutgoing through the 'Gate."

Daniel nodded his head slowly. "I understand thatJack," he agreed. "There's always retirement, though."

Jack laughed humourlessly at that. "I know," he said."I guess I could go for the world record of mostretirements in any one career."

Daniel frowned. "Not funny, Jack," he said. "This is aserious business."

"I know, Daniel, I know," Jack said. "But you know howhopeless I am about dealing with this stuff. It's moreyour type of thing."

"Don't belittle yourself, Jack," Daniel said. "Thisisn't an easy situation to deal with. You just have todo the best you can in the circumstances." He reachedout and put a hand on Jack's arm. "We'll be here tohelp you," he told him earnestly. "SG1 is a family,remember. That's means we help and support eachother."

"Thanks Daniel," Jack said. "It means a lot to me thatyou feel that way. I was worried that you'd condemn mefor the fact that I slept with someone else when I wasstill with Sara."

"You're only human," Daniel pointed out. "We all makemistakes."

"Not you," Jack said, shaking his head, "not this sortof mistake."

"Don't assume you know me that well," Daniel said."Anyway, let's not argue about it. The point is, thisis the situation you're in, what are you going to doabout it?"

Jack looked at Daniel, who was leaning forward,studying Jack intently. He bit back the urge to reachforward and kiss Daniel. He turned away and stood up,suddenly restless. Having Daniel this close, and thisintense, was playing havoc with his emotions, whichwere already mixed up enough from the situation he wasin with Rachel and Laura. Shoving his hands in hispockets, he went to stand by the fire, looking down atthe flames.

Daniel sat watching him, aware of the strongundercurrent of tension in the room, but not sure whatwas causing it. He waited patiently for Jack to decideto answer his question. He wanted to go to the otherman and hold him, tell him it would be ok, butcouldn't quite bring himself to cross that divide. Hewas too afraid of how Jack would react to take thatrisk at the moment. The fact that he was also more orless trapped here, dependent on Jack to get away alsoheld him back.

Eventually, Jack turned back to face Daniel. "Whatwould you do?" he asked.

"Not fair," Daniel pouted. "I can't answer thatquestion."

"Why not?" Jack asked. "Suppose Share had asked you tobring up Shifu, what would you have done?"

Daniel squirmed uncomfortably in his seat, rememberingthe dream Shifu had given him on his last visit. Hehad told no one about the details of the dream. He hadbeen too embarrassed by the thought that what thedream had shown him about himself might actually betrue, to tell anyone what he had seen. Instead he hadmerely told the others that he had seen a version ofthe future, which had convinced him of the dangers oftrying to extract any information from the boy, andleft it at that. Thankfully, General Hammond hadaccepted this explanation.

Looking at Jack again, as he stood waiting for ananswer, he decided that he owed it to Jack to be ashonest with him, as Jack had been with him.

"You remember that dream I had when Shifu was here?"he asked Jack. Jack looked puzzled, unsure of therelevance to the conversation, but nodded agreement."Well, the future that it showed me was a prettyuncomfortable one," he said.

"Why?" Jack asked. He came to sit down again,intrigued by what Daniel was saying. He had beencurious as to what Daniel had dreamt about, but Danielhad refused all attempts to get him to discuss thesubject, so in the end Jack had given up. Danielexplained the dream and the vision of the future ithad given him.

After he had finished, Daniel was the one refusing tomake eye contact.

"Why are you so embarrassed by this Daniel?" Jackasked. "It was a dream, not real."

"But it could have been real," Daniel said. "It mademe face a darker side of myself which I hadn't facedsince I was addicted to the sarcophagus. And I didn'tlike that Daniel. One of the things that happened inthe dream was that Shifu came to live with me, and Imade a pretty bad job of being a father. I didn'tenjoy the experience at all."

Jack looked at Daniel with sympathy in his eyes. Hereached out and put a hand on Daniel's shoulder.

"I'm sorry Daniel, I had no idea," he said. "No wonderyou didn't want to discuss it with anyone."

Daniel turned to look at him. "Do you see why I can'tanswer your question though? Anything I say will becoloured by that experience, even if it was only adream."

"I do understand," Jack nodded his agreement. "Thething is though, if I do say no to Rachel, whathappens to Laura then?"

"Why should that be your problem?" Daniel asked. "Iknow she's your flesh and blood, but Rachel chose notto stay around and tell you that. Why should she havethe right to turn up in your life now and demand thatyou make this decision? It's her responsibility tosort out some sort of provision for Laura, but shedoesn't have the right to dump that responsibility onyou just because you happen to share some genes."

Jack was shocked. "Wow," he said. "I never expectedyou to react like this." He stood up and began topace. "I never really thought about things like thatbefore."

Daniel slid to his feet and stood in front of Jack,forcing him to stop pacing. "Look Jack," he said,"this is emotional blackmail. Rachel is asking you totake on Laura out of guilt. There's no reason why youshould do that if you don't want to. Why sacrificeyour life, your career for someone you never even knewexisted until a week ago?"

Just then, Jack yawned widely. "Sorry, Daniel," hesaid. "I'm pretty tired. This emotional stuff ispretty draining."

Daniel yawned himself, then laughed. "I know how youfeel," he said.

"Well, that walk must have tired you out," Jack said."I'm afraid I don't have a spare bedroom, though."

"The couch will be fine," Daniel said.

"I don't think so," Jack said. "It's falling apart.You wouldn't sleep a wink all night."

"So what do you suggest then?" Daniel asked.

"Well, my bed is king size," Jack pointed out. "We'veslept in a tent together often enough. This will be nodifferent to that."

"Well," Daniel hesitated. It was a tempting prospect,but he was nervous about the effect such closeproximity to Jack would have on him. "Ok then," hesaid. "I guess the couch doesn't exactly feel thatcomfortable."

"Exactly," Jack grinned. "You go on ahead and getready, I'll just lock up and sort out the fire."

Daniel nodded agreement, and headed off to thebedroom. He paused for a while, unsure of himself.Finally, he removed his sweatshirt and pants, but kepton the T-shirt and boxers he was wearing. It was acompromise between his usual nakedness when sleepingat home and staying fully dressed as he did when theywere on missions. He slipped into bed and pulled theduvet around himself. He hoped Jack didn't have anystrong preferences which side of the bed he slept on,because he could only sleep on the left side of thebed.

When Jack came into the bedroom a few minutes later,Daniel was curled up on his side under the duvet. Hewas already half asleep, exhausted by the events ofthe day. Jack undressed quickly then slid into bed.Daniel turned over as he did so, woken by themovement.

"Sorry," Jack said.

"S'ok," Daniel said sleepily, blinking at Jack. Heturned onto his side to lie facing Jack. "I really amsorry about yelling at you the other day, Jack," hesaid sincerely.

Jack smiled at him "don't sweat it Daniel. I deservedto be yelled at. I've been a complete asshole the lastweek. I'm sorry for the way I behaved."

"And for running out on us?" Daniel asked.

Jack sighed. "You're determined to make me pay aren'tyou Daniel?" he said rhetorically. "Yea, I'm sorry Iran away as well. I'm no good at dealing with thisstuff, so I run away. I apologise for being a coward."

Daniel smiled at Jack. "Apology accepted," he said,repressing an urge to sound too smug. "Are you cominghome tomorrow?"

Jack hesitated for an instant, then agreed, "I guessso," he said. "I need to talk to Rachel, let her knowmy decision. Now can I go to sleep?"

Daniel grinned, "Yes, Jack," he said, "you can go tosleep." And with that, he rolled away from Jack again.

Watching him, Jack sighed to himself. He turned outthe lamp quickly and turned away from Daniel. Itwasn't the same as sharing a tent at all, sharing hisbed with Daniel. He could hardly bear the closenessand the fact that he couldn't touch Daniel. But hedidn't want to scare him off, having just worked sohard to repair their friendship. As he lay there, mindand body in turmoil, he listened to Daniel's breathinggradually deepen as he went to sleep.

Jack woke suddenly and lay for a moment, wonderingwhat had disturbed his sleep. Then he heard the noiseagain. He frowned, unsure what it was. The noise cameagain and Jack suddenly realised what it was. Danielwas making noises in his sleep. Jack lay therewondering what to do. It was obvious Daniel wasdreaming, but Jack couldn't tell whether it was a gooddream or a bad one. Then he heard Daniel say his nameand moan loudly. Jack lay frozen, that moan didn'tsound like Daniel was in pain. He was also writhingaround on the bed.

Jack carefully eased himself away from Daniel and outof bed. This was more than he could stand. A glance athis watch in the light from the window showed him thatit was 3am. It was still a few hours till dawn, but hedidn't think he'd be able to sleep next to Daniel anymore tonight. Instead he put some clothes on and wentthrough to the kitchen to make some coffee.

A hand on his shoulder woke Jack a little while later.He sat up in surprise, having dozed off slumped acrossthe kitchen table.

"Jack?" Daniel stood there barefoot and tousled. Jackburied his head in his arms again with a groan. Hecouldn't believe how gorgeous Daniel looked standingthere half dressed and sleepy-eyed.

"What do you want Daniel?" Jack said, his wordsmuffled by the fact that he had his head down.

"I was wondering where you are," Daniel said, slidinginto the seat next to Jack. "I woke up and you weregone. I just wanted to make sure you're ok."

Jack sat up and turned to look at Daniel. "I washaving trouble sleeping," he said.

"Didn't look like it to me," Daniel said with a grin."You were sound asleep just now. But I bet you weren'tcomfortable. Why didn't you come back to bed?"

Jack had to stifle a groan at that remark, said in allinnocence by Daniel, but loaded with meaning for Jack.

"I didn't want to disturb you," Jack said. "You weresound asleep."

"Well I'm not now," Daniel pointed out the obvious,"so there's nothing stopping you coming back to bednow." He stood up and held out a hand to Jack, "Comeon," he said.

Jack stood up, ignoring the hand and carried hishalf-full mug of cold coffee over to the sink.

"You go ahead, I'll be there in a second," he saidover his shoulder as he emptied the cup and rinsed itout.

When he finally turned around again, he was surprisedto see Daniel still standing there. "Daniel?" he saidcautiously, "what is it?"

Daniel sighed and ran a hand through his hair,tousling it even further. He had woken up from aparticularly vivid dream about himself and Jack, thememory of which was enough to make him blush, and ithad left him feeling more than a little frustrated.Jack's casual dismissal of him had annoyed him. He wassure that Jack felt something more than friendship forhim but didn't know how to get him to show it.

"Nothing, Jack," he said eventually, "I'm going tobed." He turned and walked out of the kitchen,frustrated with his inability to communicate with Jackon a more intimate level. Jack followed him a fewminutes later, puzzled by Daniel's behaviour, butunable to fathom what it meant.

When Jack reached the bedroom, Daniel was again lyingcurled up on his side. Jack turned out the lamp andslid into bed. He lay on his back, hands under hishead, staring at the ceiling in the darkness. He had afeeling he wouldn't be going back to sleep again. Thememory of how Daniel had looked when he was dreamingwouldn't go away, however hard Jack tried to thinkabout other things, and it was making Jack frustrated.

Daniel was lying equally frustrated on the other sideof the bed, back to Jack. He rolled onto his back witha sigh, unable to sleep. Jack heard him move, andautomatically turned away, even though it was stilltoo dark for Daniel to see him. Closing his eyesresolutely, Jack decided to count sheep. In contrast,Daniel was running through the names of pharaohs inhis head. Eventually, both men fell asleep again.

The next time Jack opened his eyes, it was to findDaniel's face a few inches from his own. Jack smiledinstinctively at the sight of Daniel's face in repose,long lashes covering the beautiful blue eyes. He laythere enjoying the opportunity of looking at Danielwithout the archaeologist being aware of the scrutiny.Gradually, he became aware that his arm was dead,where Daniel was lying across it. His legs were alsotangled with Daniel's. Jack breathed in hard, therewas no way he could extricate himself from Danielwithout waking him up, which could only prove to beembarrassing for both of them. He would have to waitfor Daniel to move first. In the meantime, he wouldenjoy the scenery, he decided with a grin.

Daniel opened his eyes slowly, unsure where he was atfirst. He lay there, waking up gradually, until herealised where he was - in bed with Jack. As thatmemory dawned on him, he also became aware that he wasliterally in bed with Jack - their limbs were tangledtogether, and his head was on Jack's shoulder. He satup suddenly, feeling his face flush bright red as herealised exactly what a compromising position he wasin.

"Morning Danny," Jack said with a grin as Daniel slidout of bed and tripped over his own feet in his hasteand confusion.

Daniel ignored him, grabbing his clothes and boltingfor the bathroom, burning with embarrassment. Hequickly threw off his T-shirt and boxers and divedinto the shower, turning the cold water on full blastin an effort to cool himself down and regain control.He leant his head against the tiled shower wall,berating himself internally for having been so stupidas to agree to share a bed with Jack in the firstplace. Waking up in such a compromising position wasnot part of his plan for getting Jack to admit to hisfeelings.

He was so lost in the turmoil of his thoughts, barelyaware of the cold water continuing to pour down onhim, that he didn't hear the shower door slide open ornotice the rush of cold air that came with it.However, the sudden presence of a pair of hands on hisshoulders startled him from his miserableintrospection. He started in surprise and twistedaround to see Jack standing facing him.

"Jack?" he said the name hesitantly, not sure exactlywhat was going on, but painfully aware with his wholebody that Jack was standing there naked in front ofhim.

Jack didn't say anything, instead he reached up tochange the temperature control on the shower so thatthe water was warmer.

"Don't want you catching cold, Danny," he commentedcasually, seemingly unconcerned by the fact that hewas standing naked in a shower with another man.Although they had had showers together on Base, thiswas hardly the same. Teal'c was usually there at theSGC as well, and they were usually in different showerstalls, not the same one.

Jack then turned back to Daniel and smiled at him.Daniel smiled back tentatively, still unsure exactlywhat was going on.

"Need your back scrubbing?" Jack asked, the tremor inhis voice belying the casual tone this time.

Daniel gave him a searching look. "What exactly isgoing on here Jack?" he asked. Before he agreed toanything, he needed to know where he stood and whatJack's intentions were. He hoped they weredishonourable intentions, but he needed to be sure.

In answer to his question, Jack once again provedthat, for him, cliché or not, actions spoke louderthan words. He swayed forward and gently touched hislips to Daniel's, the touch feather light but at thesame time electric in its intensity. Daniel moaned,licking his lips where Jack's had touched them. Jackmoaned in response to that movement and moved closerto Daniel, pinning the younger man against the showerwall with his body as he bent to kiss him again. Thistime, though, the kiss deepened and became morepassionate, tongues probing the other's mouth, teethand lips scraping together, until the need for oxygeneventually forced them apart.

The two men stood panting, chests heaving. Their eyeswere locked together, pupils dilated by arousal,expressions slightly dazed by the intensity of thepassion between them and the way it had suddenlyexploded into action. Jack ran a hand through hishair, which the shower had plastered against his head.Daniel licked his lips again, tasting Jack as he didso.

"Um, what just happened?" Daniel asked.

Jack chuckled at that. "I think that's pretty obviousdon't you?" he said.

"You know what I mean!" Daniel protested.

Jack groaned. "Don't pout, Daniel, it drives me wild!"he said.

"Really?" Daniel asked, a little shocked by that.

"Well, actually, you pretty much drive me crazy justby existing," Jack admitted with a small smile.

Daniel smiled back. "I feel pretty much the same wayabout you," he said, reaching out to caress Jack'sface as he said it.

"So what do you say to getting out of the showerbefore we turn into prunes and going back to bed?"Jack asked hopefully. Daniel reached up to turn offthe shower and gestured to Jack to lead the way. Jackgrinned and reached out to open the shower door. Hepassed Daniel a towel before wrapping another aroundhimself.

Back in the bedroom, they both paused, suddenly shy.

Jack sighed loudly. "I'm too old for this," heannounced abruptly.

"Too old for what?" Daniel asked nervously.

"To feel so damn nervous about sex," Jack said. Hewent to sit on the edge of the bed, needing to putsome distance between himself and Daniel before heembarrassed himself. Daniel, however, was having noneof it. He crossed the bedroom to stand in front ofJack.

"Why nervous?" he asked.

"Because," Jack said. He didn't want to discuss thiswith Daniel, but knew he had no choice. That didn'tmean however, that he was going to go down without afight.

"Tell me, Jack," Daniel said. He sat down next to Jackon the bed, taking Jack's hand in his, lacing theirfingers together. "Trust me?" he asked.

Jack looked at him sideways. "Always," he said.

"Then talk to me," Daniel said. "We've taken a bigstep here and we both need to be comfortable before wego any further."

"Ok," Jack said slowly. "I guess I'm nervous becauseI've never been in love with a man before. And I don'twant to hurt you, Daniel. You've been through enoughin the past, without having me happen to you as well."

Daniel smiled. "Don't worry Jack, I trust you," hesaid. "I don't think you're capable of hurting me. Andjust for the record, I love you too."

Jack pulled Daniel close to him, overwhelmed by hisemotions. Daniel put his arms around Jack, liking thefeeling of skin to skin contact with him. He ran hishands across Jack's back and down to the edge of thetowel around Jack's waist. He slipped one hand underthe towel to caress the base of Jack's spine. Jackshivered in his arms and he immediately stopped andpulled back.

"Jack?" he said, surprised to find tears on the otherman's face. He ran his fingers lightly across Jack'scheeks, brushing the tears away. Then he softlypressed his lips to Jack's. The kiss stayed chastethis time, until Daniel eventually pulled back again.Jack looked into the blue eyes in front of him.

"Thank you," he whispered.

Daniel smiled at him, "you're welcome," he murmured.Pulling Jack back with him, he eased the two of themonto the bed side by side.

"So now what?" Jack asked.

"Whatever you want," Daniel said a hopeful note in hisvoice as he looked at Jack.

"That sounds like an invitation to trouble," Jacksaid. "Are you trying to corrupt me Danny?"

"Actually, I was hoping it would be the other wayround," Daniel said honestly. "This is all a newexperience for me."

Jack looked at him in surprise. "You could've fooledme Dannyboy," he said. "As it happens, I do have someexperience, but I'm not going to tell you about it."

"That's all right, I'd rather not know," Daniel said."There are some things it's best not to share."

Jack nodded his agreement with that statement. Danielwriggled closer to Jack, "so corrupt me then," he saidin a husky voice. Jack grinned at that and put hisarms around Daniel, moving in for a kiss. He probedDaniel's mouth with his tongue, nibbling at his lipsat the same time. Daniel moaned deeply in his throat,feeling his arousal growing as Jack pressed againsthim with his full length. With only towels betweenthem, each could feel the weight of the other's grointrapped between them.

Jack reached down a hand and pulled the towels away,throwing them on to the floor. He then started togrind his hips against Daniel's, keeping the kissgoing between them the whole time. Eventually though,he had to stop to breathe. Daniel's head fell back onthe pillow, exposing his throat. Jack immediatelypounced, licking and kissing the skin there. At thesame time, one of his hands roamed across Daniel'ssmooth, well-muscled chest, not stopping until itencountered a nipple. Once there, Jack began to rubacross the sensitive skin with his fingertip. Jack'sroughened skin increased the pleasure for Daniel, whowas moaning constantly from the full sensual assaulthe was receiving. Jack was still grinding his hipsagainst Daniel's at the same time.

Jack switched his attentions to the other nipple now,rubbing it to hardness. He was also kissing his wayalong Daniel's jaw line to his ear. When he put histongue in to the ear, Daniel bucked wildly beneathhim.

"Gods, Jack," he cried out. "Don't stop." Jack pausedfor a second to grin at him.

"Enjoying yourself?" he said teasingly. Daniel noddedhis head wordlessly, unable to form a coherentsentence any more. Rational thought seemed to havefled from his brain as the blood had pooled in hisgroin. Jack looked into the darkened eyes below him.

"Do you want more?" he asked, suddenly serious again.Daniel nodded again without hesitation. Jack noddedtoo and slid his body down Daniel's. He paused againto look at Daniel, who had lifted his head to see whatJack was doing. Seeing only love and trust in Daniel'sexpression, Jack bent his head to Daniel's groin. Hetook the tip between his lips, licking gently. Danielshuddered under him, and Jack reached out to hold himsteady.

"Easy Daniel," he murmured. Daniel immediately stilledbeneath him, chest heaving as he struggled to regain ameasure of control. Jack allowed him to recover beforegoing any further. He was acutely aware that this wasDaniel's first time with a man and wanted it to be thebest it could be for him, to repay the trust Danielwas giving him.

Once Daniel was calm again, Jack went back to lickingat his cock, gradually working his way down to thebase, nipping lightly at the skin from time to time.He could hear Daniel's breathing become more raggedagain, as he became more aroused. Finally, Jack slidthe length of Daniel into his mouth, enjoying thetaste and feel of him. It had been a long time sincehe had been with another man, and he realised now howmuch he had missed it.

Jack worked his mouth along the length of Daniel,sucking and licking slowly to start with, butgradually building up speed. Daniel was thrusting hiships in a counterpoint rhythm and moaning constantlyat the same time as he writhed around on the bed,fingers tangling in the sheets. His face was bathed insweat and contorted with passion. Jack marvelled athow responsive Daniel was and how enthusiastic. As hesucked harder, Daniel finally came with a yell,pouring himself into Jack's waiting mouth as heshuddered out his orgasm.

When he was finally done, Daniel lay boneless andsated on the bed, eyes closed and breathing harsh.Jack lay beside him, stroking back Daniel'ssweat-soaked hair from his forehead, running hisfingers down Daniel's face and across his lips.Daniel's tongue came out and licked the fingers,sucking them into his mouth. His eyes opened slowlyand looked into Jack's, a smile curving his features.

Jack bent his head to replace his lips with hisfingers. He was still painfully aroused, but didn'twant to rush Daniel, instead contenting himself with aslow, gentle kiss, tongues gently tangling together.Daniel however, surprised him by suddenly rollinghimself on top of Jack, breaking the kiss to nibble atJack's throat. Then he moved down to lick at a nipple.At the same time, he rubbed himself against Jack'sstill-engorged cock, making Jack moan.

"Daniel," Jack called. Daniel looked up, a question inhis eyes. "I love you," Jack said.

Daniel smiled one of his rare, earth-shatteringsmiles, which lit up his whole face. "I love you tooJack," he said.

"I want to come inside you," Jack said now, "will youlet me do that?" He watched Daniel carefully, lookingfor a hint of doubt or hesitancy, but seeing only thetrust in Daniel's expression.

Daniel nodded. "Ok," he said. "Tell me what to do."Jack rolled them over again so that he was on top.Then he pulled open the drawer of his locker, diggingaround until he found the tube of lube, which he thendropped onto Daniel's chest.

"Just be comfortable and trust me," Jack said. Heopened the tube and put some onto his fingers. Daniellay watching him closely, nervous but determined. Hewanted this - he wanted to prove to Jack how much heloved him. Jack slid a finger slowly and gently intoDaniel's cleft, at the same time putting his otherhand on Daniel's hip, caressing him gently. He watchedDaniel closely, gauging his reaction. Daniel had hiseyes closed, a look of fierce concentration on hisface.

Jack slowly added a second finger, working them in andout gently. He could see Daniel respond, his legswidening and his cock swelling again, as he becamearoused once more. Adding a third finger, Jackgradually began to thrust harder and quicker. Daniel'sbreathing came more quickly, and his feet drummed onthe bed. Jack slowed down again, not wanting Daniel toget too excited before he was ready. Taking up thelube again, he carefully applied some to his cock, inreadiness to enter Daniel.

Daniel opened his eyes, straining to see what Jack wasdoing. Jack looked up and caught the glance and theanxious look on Daniel's face. Smiling reassuringly,he moved up Daniel's body to kiss him.

"Ready?" he asked. Daniel nodded, spreading his legswide. Jack took a pillow and slid it under Daniel'ships for support. Then he moved forward and started toslide his cock into Daniel's cleft. Daniel started totense up and Jack paused. He kissed Daniel againslowly and deeply. "Try and relax," he said. Danielnodded agreement and closed his eyes, breathingdeeply.

As he relaxed again, he felt Jack push forward again.Concentrating fiercely, Daniel managed not to tense upthis time. Finally, Jack was all the way inside andpaused there to allow Daniel to get used to thesensation of being filled in this way. Once he wassure Daniel was ok, Jack began to thrust against him,at the same time taking Daniel's newly erect cock inhis hand and starting to stroke him in time to histhrusts into Daniel.

Daniel put his legs around Jack's back, drawing theother man closer and deeper. Jack adjusted positionslightly as he thrust, and suddenly he was hittingDaniel's prostate for the first time. Daniel yelled insurprise at the sensation, head falling back on thepillow, hands gripping the sheets again. Jack smiledin satisfaction and thrust forward again, hitting thesweet spot once again. Daniel pushed his hips forward,encouraging Jack to continue.

Jack needed no encouragement, starting to strikeharder and faster, at the same time keeping up hispressure on Daniel's cock, pausing only to changehands.

"More," Daniel said breathlessly, "oh god, don'tstop."

"Not going too," Jack ground out, feeling himselfteetering on the edge. Finally, he could hold back nolonger and with one final thrust he came with a yell,pouring himself into Daniel, who came a second time aswell.

Exhausted, Jack slumped across Daniel, head on hischest, gasping for breath. Daniel was breathingequally hard, overwhelmed with what he had justexperienced. Finally, Jack slid off of Daniel and laybeside him

"Wow," Daniel said finally. Jack grinned at him.

"Wow indeed," he said.

A couple of hours later, Jack was tinkering withDaniel's car, trying to work out why it had brokendown. Daniel hovered at his side, watching him work.

"For crying out loud," Jack finally said, "relax,Daniel, it'll be ok."

Daniel looked at him, "I'm sorry Jack," he said. Heturned and walked a short distance down the road,scuffing his feet in the dirt. Ever since thismorning, he had been nervous and edgy, worried aboutwhat would happen when he and Jack got back to theSGC. He was also worried about the upcoming meetingbetween Jack and Rachel. Although he had encouragedJack to feel free to refuse Rachel's request, he wasnow concerned that he had done the wrong thing, inpersuading Jack to deny Laura a chance to grow up withher father, simply because he didn't want to loseJack's daily presence at work.

Just then, a hand on his shoulder made him jump. Hespun round to see Jack standing there. "I'm sorry foryelling," Jack said softly.

Daniel shook his head. "I'm the one who shouldapologise, Jack," he said. "I've been acting like ababy all morning. I'm sorry for being such a coward."

"Don't let's start trying to assign blame here," Jacksaid. "This is a major change in our relationship,it's bound to take some time for us to adjust."

Daniel smiled at him. "When did you get so wise?" heasked.

"Old age," Jack said with a grin. "It does have someadvantages, Daniel. Your car's fixed, so let's gohome, ok?"

Daniel nodded his agreement and turned back towardshis car. Jack went to his own car, and headed offfirst, with Daniel following close behind.

The journey back to Colorado Springs was long andboring. The two men drove in convoy, stopping severaltimes on the way back to eat and rest. Finally,though, they reached the outskirts of the town late inthe evening. Daniel followed Jack all the way to hishouse without hesitating, knowing that for him, atleast, it was too soon for them to be separated.

Once inside the house, Jack immediately turned to kissDaniel, surprising the other man, but he quicklyresponded, tangling his fingers in the hair at theback of Jack's head to pull him closer.

The phone ringing loudly startled them apart. "It'sall right," Jack said, "the answering machine's stillon." He moved forward again, ignoring the messagebeing left on the machine. Then Daniel's mobile, whichwas in his jacket pocket, rang. Jack swore as hestepped back again, allowing Daniel to pull the phonefrom his pocket to answer it.

"Hello?" Daniel said. Jack tried to kiss Daniel on thecheek, but Daniel fended him off, walking away fromJack. When he saw the serious look on his face, Jackimmediately backed off, going through to the kitchento put some coffee on.

Daniel's side of the conversation was fairlymonosyllabic and short. Afterwards, he wanderedthrough to the kitchen.

"I have to go Jack," he said. Jack spun round.

"What's up?" he asked, worried by the tone of voiceDaniel was using.

"Um, something came up at the Base," Daniel said.

"What?" Jack asked impatiently.

"An emergency with SG9," Daniel said. "I have to goin."

"I'll go with you," Jack said immediately.

"Are you sure?" Daniel asked, following Jack as heheaded back through the house.

"Yes," Jack said. "If it's an emergency, I should go."Just then, Daniel's phone rang again.

"Hello?" he asked.

"It's Sam," the voice on the other end of the phonesaid.

"Hi Sam," Daniel said, raising his eyebrows at Jack."I'm just about to leave now."

"Do you know where the Colonel is?" the voice on theother end of the phone asked.

"Here," Daniel replied. "He's coming in too."

"Can I speak to her?" Jack grabbed the phone out ofDaniel's hand. "Carter, what's going on?" he askedabruptly.

"Uh, sir," Carter stammered. "All I know is that thereis some sort of problem with the mission that SG9 areon at the moment. I'm just on my way into the Basenow."

"Right, we'll see you there," Jack said. He switchedthe phone off and handed it back to Daniel. "Let'sgo," he said.

Daniel took the phone, shaking his head as he did so.He was bemused by the sudden change in behaviour fromJack. He followed Jack out of the house.

"We may as well go in my car," Jack said as theywalked down the drive.

"Ok," Daniel muttered. He got in the car and fastenedhis seat belt, slumping down in the seat. He was gladnot to have to drive, as he was still tired fromhaving driven to Minnesota and back in two days.

"Daniel, we're here," Jack shook Daniel awake. He hadfallen asleep before they had barely left Jack'shouse.

"Huh?" Daniel looked up in surprise, glasses askew onhis face. He straightened them up and looked around.They had reached the Base and Jack was looking at himpatiently, waiting for him to get out of the car."Sorry, Jack," Daniel scrambled out of the carquickly, then joined Jack for the journey through Basesecurity to the briefing room where General Hammondwas waiting.

"Colonel O'Neill," the General was surprised to seethe officer arrive with Daniel Jackson. He noted thatboth men looked tired and rumpled, but decided not tocomment. Time was short for SG9. He gestured them toseats. Major Carter, Teal'c and Lieutenant Michaelswere already waiting.

"Hello sir," Jack nodded to the General. "Hope youdon't mind me joining the briefing, it soundedurgent."

The General nodded agreement, "good to have you back,Jack," he said. "Let's get started. SG9 have beennegotiating for access to medical technology on S4C200for the last few days. Things appeared to be goingwell and Major Kovacek reported that they were closeto a conclusion when he last reported. That was 12hours ago. Their latest report is 4 hours overdue andwhen we opened the Gate to attempt communication, wewere unable to raise them."

"What about the probe sir?" the Colonel asked as soonas the General paused.

"The probe shows nothing untoward in the immediatevicinity of the Gate, but unfortunately this is oflittle use because the town where the team wereworking is several miles from the Gate. We have sentout a UAV to do a survey and are waiting for theresults from that now. However, I want SG1 on stand byready to go through the Gate if necessary."

"What do we know about the indigenous people?" Danielasked.

"They are probably as advanced as the Tollan," theGeneral replied. "They have been very friendly sinceSG5 first encountered them a few weeks ago. They arepeaceful, with no sign of any weapons technology onthe planet. They are aware of the Goa'uld, but don'thave anything to do with them."

"What can you tell us about the technology that SG9were negotiating for, sir?" Daniel asked next.

"It's mainly medical technology," the General replied."They have a number of interesting drugs and machineswhich has Dr Frasier and her team very excited. TheMyerlings all seem to live to at least 150, with fewdiseases or illnesses. The technology could be a hugebreakthrough for us."

Sam nodded. She had heard some of this from Janetalready. "It sounds exciting stuff," she said. "Thepossibilities are intriguing."

"I'd like you to be ready to go through the Gate assoon as we have the results of the UAV survey," theGeneral said. "You're all dismissed."

He stood up and SG1 followed suit. "A word, Colonel,"he said, indicating his office.

"Yes sir," the Colonel replied, following behind him.Daniel watched him go anxiously.

"Daniel," Sam put a hand on his arm and he lookedround.

"Hey Sam," he said.

"Walk with me?" she asked. He nodded agreement andfell into step beside her. Teal'c and LieutenantMichaels had already left for the gear up room. "Howdid things go?" Sam asked.

Daniel smiled at her, "Ok," he said.

"Just ok?" Sam persisted, smiling too.

Daniel looked around, but the corridor was empty."Better than ok," he admitted his smile growing, "verywell in fact."

"Good," Sam said with satisfaction. "I'm pleasedDaniel. What about the situation that made him leavethough?"

"That's still to be resolved," Daniel said carefully."But I think he's close to sorting it out."

Sam nodded. "Ok," she said. "So long as you're sure."

When SG1 assembled in the Control Room to await theresults of the UAV survey, Colonel O'Neill and GeneralHammond joined them. It was the first time Daniel hadseen Jack since the briefing, and he was pleased tosee that Jack looked fairly relaxed. He was newlyshowered and had changed into his uniform.

"Lieutenant Michaels, a word please," the Generalsaid. As the two men left the room, Jack went to standnext to Sam and Daniel.

"What's the survey saying?" he asked Sam.

"The town looks fine," Sam said. "There's no sign ofany trouble or disturbance. I can't see any reason whySG9 would be unable to contact us."

"Guess we'll just have to go in on foot and find outthen," Jack said, not sounding concerned by theprospect.

"How far is it from the Gate to the town?" Teal'casked.

"Ten miles," Sam said.

"A few hours then, to walk there and back," Danielsaid, sounding less than enthusiastic. Although he toohad had a shower and several cups of coffee, he wasstill tired out from the journey back from Minnesota.It was now nearly midnight and he was feeling prettystrung out.

"Piece of cake," Jack said cheerfully. In contrast toDaniel, he seemed full of energy and raring to go.

"SG1, you can disembark when ready," General Hammondsaid as he and Lieutenant Michaels rejoined them inthe Control Room.

"Yes sir," Colonel O'Neill said. He turned and led theteam down to the Gate room briskly.

A few minutes later, the team was on the other side ofthe wormhole and looking around for trouble. Althoughthe MALP had shown no signs of problems, it was secondnature to the team to check for potential threats assoon as they arrived on a new planet.

"Area secure sir," Sam reported.

"All right, let's head out then," the Colonelresponded. "Teal'c you take point, Carter, you havethe six."

The team headed off on the trek to the Myerling townat a steady pace. Jack and Daniel walked side by sidejust behind Teal'c, with Lieutenant Michaels justbehind, but ahead of Sam who brought up the rear.

"So how did you get on with General Hammond?" Danielasked quietly as they walked along.

"Oh, fine," Jack said. "I explained the situation withRachel and he was very understanding. He said that Ican have some more time off if I need it."

"Are you going to?" Daniel asked. Jack shook his head.

"I don't think so," he replied. "I just need to tellRachel my decision, then it's over."

"I hope so," Daniel said softly.

"What do you mean?" Jack asked.

"Well, do you think that she'll give up that easily?"Daniel asked.

"I don't know," Jack said. "But let's change thesubject, Daniel."

When SG1 eventually reached the Myerling town, theywere greeted by a group of people just inside the townboundaries.

Daniel introduced the team and explained they werelooking for SG9.

"They are not here," one of the men, who hadintroduced himself as Caris said. "They left manyhours ago to return home through the Stargate. Ournegotiations were successfully concluded and they saidthey must return home to report the outcome."

"Ok, how the hell does an entire team just disappearwithout trace?" Jack asked impatiently.

"We will help you look for them," Caris said,seemingly unperturbed by Jack's outburst. "If youwould like to rest first, whilst we organise a searchparty."

"What sort of predators do you have on your planet?"Sam asked as they followed Caris into a house nearby.

"Predators?" Caris asked, puzzled.

"Large animals or birds that might attack people,"Daniel clarified.

"There is nothing of that sort on Myerling," Carisreplied. "This is a peaceful world."

"What do you think might have happened to our people?"Daniel asked, sensing Jack was becoming impatientagain behind him. He sat next to Caris at a table inthe room they had been shown into.

"I don't know," Caris admitted. "The only thing I canthink of is some sort of accident, but even that seemsunlikely. They knew the route from here to the Gatewell and there is nothing dangerous along the way, asyou know yourselves from having walked here."

Another man came into the room, carrying a tray ofrefreshments, which he set on the table in front ofthe team. Daniel immediately took a cup and sniffedit. It was a spicy smell, which reminded him of Jack'safter-shave for some reason. He took a cautious sip,but found it was a fruity taste with a pleasantafter-taste. He drank some more, finding it cool onhis tongue after the long walk across country.

"Daniel?" Jack asked. Daniel looked up to find himwatching him closely. He smiled and Jack smiled back.

"Give it a try, Jack," he said. "It's delicious."

Jack sat down opposite him, and the rest of SG1finally sat down as well. Caris passed cups around andplates with small cakes and fruit. Everyone atequietly for several minutes and Caris excused himselfto go and talk to someone outside.

"What do you think sir?" Sam asked, looking up at theColonel from her empty plate.

"They seem friendly enough, and willing to help," hesaid. "I don't understand how SG9 could justdisappear. Caris was right about the lack of apparentthreats on the walk here, and we've no reason to thinkhe's lying about there being predators here. We'lljust have to get out there and beat the bushes Isuppose."

Daniel sighed to himself at the thought of yet morewalking. He was starting to have trouble keeping hiseyes open just sitting here.

"Daniel!" Jack's voice startled him and he looked up."Not falling asleep are you?" Jack asked.

"Just thinking," Daniel lied, ducking his head to hisplate to try and hide his blush.

"Well, do it with your eyes open in future," Jack saidwith a grin. He knew that Daniel was exhausted and hewas starting to feel tired himself, but for themoment, none of them could afford to rest.

Just then Caris returned. "If you are sufficientlyrested, we are ready to begin searching. We haveseveral hours before darkness falls, so should be ableto retrace the route back to the Stargate in thattime. We will begin a wider search in the morning ifwe have not found SG9 in that time."

Jack nodded appreciation and understanding, getting tohis feet and heading out the door, eager to get thesearch under way.

A few hours later, the search was well under way. SG1had been joined by over a dozen Myerling citizens andthey were sweeping up the path in pairs, searching forany trace of SG9. Jack had paired himself with Danielso that he could keep an eye on the archaeologist, whowas tiring more and more as the search went on. He hadalso placed them in the centre of the search so thatthey mostly kept to the path, which was well worn,making it easier to traverse. Still, Daniel stumbledfrom time to time as they walked along, unable to keepto his feet properly. Jack had got a second wind andwas keeping up a steady pace.

Daniel looked up as he heard a yell from Jack, who wasslightly ahead of him. Startled out of the trance likestate he had been walking in for the last hour, Danielraced forward as he saw Jack fall to the ground infront of him. At the same time, he yelled his lover'sname.

"Daniel, stay back," Jack yelled as Daniel charged athim. He was falling into a ravine in the earth, whichhad suddenly appeared under his feet, as he walkedalong.

As Daniel reached the spot where Jack had beenstanding when the crack opened, he threw himselfforward full length on the ground, reaching for Jack.However, before Daniel could reach him, the groundsuddenly closed up again in front of him and Jack wasgone.

"Jack!" Daniel howled, unable to believe what he wasseeing. He scrabbled through the dirt with his hands,searching for evidence of the other man, or the ravinehe had just seen. But it was as if both man and holehad never existed, so completely had they vanished.

Several Myerling converged on the spot just then,alerted by the yells of the two men. Caris reached thespot first and crouched down beside Daniel.

"Dr Jackson, what is it? What happened?" he asked,putting a hand on Daniel's shoulder. Daniel threwhimself away from the touch, shuddering in surprise.

"The ground opened up and swallowed Jack," hestuttered out, pointing to the ground where it hadhappened. Just then, Sam, Teal'c and LieutenantMichaels all reached the group of Myerling surroundingDaniel, who had staggered to his feet. Caris knelt onthe ground, examining it closely.

"I can see no sign of such a thing happening," hefinally said, standing up again.

"Daniel, what happened?" Sam came up to him and put ahand on his shoulder.

Daniel explained again what he had seen. Sam lookedaround, baffled.

"But Daniel, Caris is right," she said, "if the groundopened up, there should be some evidence of it. And wefelt no tremors either. It just doesn't seempossible."

"I know what I saw," Daniel said, glaring round at thegroup. "The ground opened up and swallowed up Jack,right there," he pointed again at the ground.

"Daniel Jackson, surely there should be some sign ofsuch an event?" Teal'c asked.

"I know, I know," Daniel said impatiently. "I've beenin earthquakes, I know what they're like. But I'mtelling you, it happened just like I said. How elsecan you explain Jack's disappearance?"

"I don't know," Sam admitted, at a loss to know whatwas going on. "This seems impossible." She turned toCaris. "Have your people any experience of this sortof thing happening before?" she asked.

"No," he replied promptly. "We do not have groundtremors or anything like that here. The land isbenign, as are the animals. I cannot explain thisevent any more than you can. How do you think weshould proceed Major Carter?"

Sam was surprised to find him deferring to her overwhat to do, after all it wasn't her planet. Shethought for a moment.

"Let's mark this spot clearly so we can find itagain," she finally said. "And then I think we need toget back to the gate as soon as possible in order toreport the Colonel's disappearance to General Hammond.We need to work out a proper plan of action before wego any further."

Caris nodded his agreement with the plan, so they setoff in a group for the Gate, once they had carefullymarked out the ground where Daniel had seen Jackdisappear.

Jack felt himself falling through blackness for whatseemed like forever, until finally he hit the ground,hard. He yelled out in agony, feeling his ribscracking as he landed on his gun, which he had somehowheld on to the whole time he was falling.

He lay stunned for a few minutes, trying to recoverhis breath and wits. At the same time, his eyes slowlyadjusted to his surroundings, which weren't quite asdark as he had first thought. At last, he gathered thestrength to sit upright, yelling again at the pain inhis ribs as he did so.

"Definitely cracked those," he told himself as he felthis side gingerly. It was the same place that he hadbroken the ribs when he and Sam had landed inAntartica. However, the difference in pain told himthat at least this time they were only cracked, notbroken. Cautiously, he stood up. He seemed to havesurvived without breaking or spraining anything else,apart from the bump on his head. He pulled his torchout of his pocket and turned it on. Nothing happened.Muttering a curse, he shook it and tried again,unsuccessfully. Shrugging resignedly, he threw itaside and set off down the passage he could just aboutsee, one hand trailing along the wall, the otherstretched out in front of him.

He carried on in this fashion for a while until hestumbled over something and fell to the ground,yelling as his ribs protested at the rough treatment.Deciding he needed a rest anyway, he rolled over andsat against the wall, pulling out a canister of wateras he did so to take a sip.

Having reached the Stargate, Sam dialled Earth andreported to General Hammond via the MALP. He orderedSG1 back home immediately, to report fully in person.Sam spoke to Caris, who assured her that the Myerlingwould continue to search at first light - night wasfalling on the planet now. Sam thanked him, then ledthe team back through the Gate to Earth.

SG1 reported straight to General Hammond in thebriefing room, without pausing to shower or check inat the Infirmary first. Hammond asked Daniel toexplain exactly what he had seen when Jack haddisappeared. Daniel did so slowly and carefully,exhaustion and worry slurring his words slightly.

"Thank you, Dr Jackson," General Hammond nodded onceDaniel had finished. "I want all of you to go and getchecked out then go home to rest," he said. "I willsend SG3 through in 8 hours, when it should be lightagain to join the search with the Myerling."

"What about us, sir?" Daniel asked. "We'd like tocontinue searching too." As he said it, Daniel lookedaround the table for confirmation, and the rest of theteam nodded agreement.

"Not until you've had at least 12 hours rest, DrJackson," General Hammond said. "You've been searchingfor hours and you need to recuperate before youcontinue. Report back here this evening and we willsee what the situation is then. Dismissed." BeforeDaniel had a chance to protest, the General wasstriding from the room back to his office.

"That's it?" Daniel asked, stunned. He stood up,staggered and sat back down again heavily.

"He's right, Daniel," Sam said. "We do need to rest."She crossed round the table to where Daniel waspushing himself upright. "You can hardly stand, you'reso tired. Let's get Janet to check us out, then I'lldrive you home so you can get some sleep."

Daniel snorted. "Fat chance of that," he muttered. Samlooked around, but Lieutenant Michaels had left theroom.

"Come on Daniel, you know the Colonel, he'll be allright," as she said it, Sam rubbed her hand acrossDaniel's back.

Daniel sighed wearily. "Maybe," he said. "Then again,he could be dead already, along with all of SG9." Heallowed Sam to lead him from the briefing room and tothe Infirmary.

Once in the Infirmary, Janet checked them overquickly. As other teams had already visited theMyerling world, and returned safely, it was just asuperficial check and they were soon ready to leave.

"Just a minute, Daniel," Janet put a hand on his armas he stood to go. "How are you getting home? You'rein no state to drive yourself."

"It's ok Janet," Sam said from the doorway, where shestood waiting for Daniel. "I said I'd drive him home.You don't have your car here anyway, do you Daniel?"

"No," Daniel shook his head. "I came in with Jack." Ashe said Jack's name, he dropped his eyes, seeing againthe awful sight of his lover falling into the earth.He shuddered at the memory and begged fate, orsomeone, to let Jack be all right. Having just foundhim, he couldn't bear the thought of losing him again.

Janet put a hand on his shoulder. "He'll be ok," shesaid. "You know Colonel O'Neill, he's almost asindestructible as you Daniel."

The small joke raised a ghost of a smile on Daniel'sface, which quickly disappeared. "Can I go?" he askedJanet. She nodded agreement, so he slid off the bedand followed Sam out of the Infirmary.

Just as Sam was taking Daniel home, Jack O'Neill wasagain feeling his way through the underground caves hehad landed in. Turning a corner, he could sense, asmuch as see that the space had opened out into a muchlarger cavern. Jack paused, cautious about going onacross such a large area without any illumination.Deciding the safest option was to stick close to thewall, he put his back to it, stretched out an arm tofeel his way and started inching his way along.

Part way along, he tripped over something he couldn'tsee and fell yet again. As he did so, he heard a faintmetallic sound. Rolling over, he called out in thedarkness.

"Hey, anybody there?" he asked as he felt his wayupright again.

"Colonel O'Neill is that you?" an incredulous voicespoke out of the darkness.

"Major Kovacek?" Jack called.

"Yes sir," a torch came on in the darkness, hittingJack straight in the eye.

"Christ, man, you trying to blind me?" he called out.

"Sorry," the light dipped away from his face and Jackrubbed at his eyes. When he looked up again, he couldsee Major Kovacek standing in front of him, with therest of SG9 just behind.

"You're all here?" Jack asked, struggling to his feet.

"Yes sir," the Major replied. "Are you ok?" he hadnoticed Jack holding his chest as he stood up, andcould see in the light from his torch how grey theColonel's face looked.

"Cracked some ribs on the way down," Jack repliedmatter of factly.

"If you come this way sir, Captain Martin can take alook for you," the Major suggested.

"The last time a Captain fiddled with my injuries Ihad internal bleeding," Jack said. "I'll be fine."

"At least have some aspirin, sir," Major Kovacekpulled them from his pocket and handed them to theColonel with his canteen of water.

"Thanks," Jack accepted the tablets and swallowed acouple with some water. He then eased himself down tothe floor next to Major Kovacek. The team had theirgear spread around the cavern, which torchlight showedto be large and mostly bare, apart from lumps of rockstrewn liberally across the floor. It was one suchlump that had tripped Jack up this time.

"How long have you been here for?" Jack asked, pullinga ration bar from a pocket.

Kovacek looked at his watch. "Just about 13 hours," hesaid.

"Really?" Jack looked at his own watch. "Did you fallthrough an opening in the ground?"

"Yes sir," it was Captain Martin who spoke this time,from the other side of Jack. "It just seemed to appearout of nowhere as we were walking along the path. Wefound this cavern shortly after and Major Kovacekdecided we should stay here to await rescue."

"Have you explored any further?" Jack asked, waving ahand at the cavern.

"Yes sir," Major Kovacek took up the report again."There are a few passages leading away from the cavernon the far side, but they all peter out within a fewmetres, ending in solid rock. There's no way outthrough any of them that we can find."

"I see," Jack nodded. "Well we have a problem then."

"How so sir?" Kovacek asked.

"Well, as far as I can see," Jack replied. "Thiscavern opens up in the ground every few hours allowingpeople to fall into it, but it's going to beimpossible to climb back out of it. And given that noone knew where you were until I fell down here toosuggests that there's nothing on the surface toindicate where we've gone. So how do we let peopleknow we're down here, and how do we get back outagain?"

"Can't we just go back to the entrance and wait for itto open again?" Captain Martin asked.

"And then do what, exactly, Captain?" Jack asked.

"Try yelling to the surface, in case there's anyonethere. And we still have our flares, perhaps we couldthrow one of those out of the hole," Martin suggested.

"It's a hell of a long way up," Jack pointed out. "Idoubt anyone would hear us, or that a flare would getto the surface."

"And even if they knew we were down here, how do weget the ravine to stay open long enough for us toclimb out?" asked Lieutenant George, who had beensilent so far. "It only opens for a short time, soeven if were to try and climb out, we would probablyeither fall back or be crushed halfway out."

"Good point," Kovacek said.

"Could they dig us out?" that was from CaptainMarshall, the fourth member of SG9. "If we can findsome way of communicating with the surface," he addedquickly, sensing the comment that Jack was about tomake.

"Possibly," Jack admitted. "But the problem is stillhow we communicate with the surface."

"We haven't tried our radios," Captain Marshall saidsuddenly. "We've assumed they won't work with all therock and stuff above us. But if we try and use themwhen the ravine opens, perhaps they'll work."

"Good idea," Major Kovacek said enthusiastically.

"It might work," Jack agreed grudgingly. "We've gotnothing else to lose, so we might as well give it atry."

"When do you think the ravine will open again, sir?"Lieutenant George asked.

"Given that you've been down here 13 hours and itdidn't open until we were searching for you in thedirection of the Gate, I'd say every 12 hours," Jacksaid.

"So we just have to wait another 101/2 hours then,"Captain Martin said, glancing at his watch.

"We should try to sleep," Major Kovacek suggested.

"I agree," Jack nodded.

So the five men settled down to wait as best theycould on the rocky floor of the cavern.

Daniel lay sprawled on his couch, watching TV andsipping coffee. It was nearly 3 o'clock and hecouldn't sleep. He had never been able to sleep in thedaytime anyway and now, despite being totallyexhausted, he still couldn't drop off. Every time heclosed his eyes, all he could see was Jack fallinginto the Earth beneath him.

Restlessly, he got to his feet and wandered around hisapartment, fiddling with things. He looked at severalbooks aimlessly, opened and closed his journals andplayed a few notes on his piano. Nothing could holdhis attention for more than a few seconds, though.Finally, he went into his bedroom and lay down. Hegrabbed a pillow to his chest for comfort, rememberingholding Jack to him the day before, in Minnesota. Ashe lay there, tears slipped down his face, as hisoverworked emotions got the better of him. Eventually,though, he drifted off to sleep.

The alarm ringing loudly woke Daniel at 6 o'clock. Hebatted it off and sat up, not feeling at all refreshedby the little sleep he had had. He went and had ashower, switching the water from really hot to reallycold in an attempt to wake himself up. Then, wearingjust his towel, he made some fresh coffee to drinkwhilst he dressed.

His doorbell rang on cue at 6.30, as Sam came to drivehim back to the Base. He opened the door, putting onhis jacket at the same time.

"How are you feeling?" Sam asked as he closed the doorbehind him. She could see that Daniel had dark circlesunder his eyes, suggesting he had hardly slept.

"Terrible," Daniel admitted. He followed Sam down toher car slowly. "I couldn't sleep."

"I can see that," Sam said. "And the General will beable to as well. I don't think that he's going to letyou go back to the Myerling home world, Daniel, notlooking like you do."

"He can't refuse me!" Daniel said hotly as he settledinto his seat for the drive to the SGC.

"He can, and he will," Sam said gently. "He'll see youas a liability Daniel. You should go and see Janet fora sedative and get some sleep."

Daniel didn't answer, merely staring out his window atthe darkening sky as they drove through the town.

Once on Base, Sam and Daniel headed for the briefingroom. General Hammond wasn't there, and neither wereSG3, who were supposed to be going through the Gate tohelp the Myerling search. Just then, LieutenantMichaels came into the room.

"Major," he said. "General Hammond is waiting for usin the control room. Caris is on the radio fromS4C200."

Daniel and Sam hurried down the stairs into theControl Room. They had left a radio with Caris beforeleaving the Myerling in case of news on the Colonel orSG9 during the night.

"Sir?" Sam hurried over to the General's side. He wastalking to Caris on the radio. Sam could see Caristhrough the MALP's video camera, on the other side ofthe wormhole.

"So you definitely saw the ravine open?" GeneralHammond was asking Caris.

"Yes, and we heard a message through the radio youleft with us," Caris replied.

"A message?" Daniel stood on the other side of GeneralHammond.

"That is correct, Dr Jackson," Caris replied. "It wasColonel O'Neill. He has found all of SG9 and they allalive. There is a large cavern some way from theravine, which the Colonel suggested we might be ableto excavate down to in order to rescue your personnel.There does not seem to be a safe way to extract themthrough the ravine."

"Thank you, Caris," General Hammond spoke into theradio. "I will send through personnel and equipmentshortly to begin digging."

"We have all the necessary machinery here, General,"Caris replied. "I have already requested that it bebrought to the site immediately. We should be ready tobegin digging in an hour's time."

"Very well," Hammond said. "I will send some personnelthrough anyway to be on hand to assist if need be."

"I understand," Caris said. "I would wish to have mypeople present also, if the situation were to bereversed. We will have some waiting for your peoplewhen they arrive. Now I must return to supervise thesearch for the cavern, so that we are ready to dig assoon as the machinery arrives."

"Thank you," General Hammond said. "Hammond out."

The wormhole shut down and General Hammond turned toSG1 and SG3, who were standing behind him waiting.

"SG3, you may stand down," he said. "SG1 will gothrough to assist the Myerling. Dr Frasier will alsogo in case of any injuries."

"Yes sir," Sam and Major Lewis, the leader of SG3spoke simultaneously. SG3 filed out of the controlroom as General Hammond got on the phone to theInfirmary.

Half an hour later, SG1 were geared and ready to gothrough the Gate, along with Dr Frasier and a coupleof her staff.

"Bring them home safely, Major," General Hammond saidto Sam as she stood with the group waiting for thewormhole to open up.

"Yes sir," Sam replied, nodding agreement. She wassurprised that the General had said nothing to Danielabout the fact that he still looked exhausted, butdecided to say nothing either. If the General chose toturn a blind eye, she could understand that. She had afeeling that the General saw more than what was on thesurface between Jack and Daniel, but had decided toadopt the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy.

A few hours later, Sam led the team back through theGate, with SG9 and Colonel O'Neill. Janet was besidethe Colonel, hand on his elbow. He had insisted onwalking, but the pallor of his face showed that he wasin pain. Daniel was hovering just behind them, tryingnot to be too obviously concerned with Jack's plight.However, his anxiety was unmistakable to everyonewatching, but at least he no longer looked as thoughhe was about to pass out from exhaustion.

Janet led Jack straight off to the Infirmary whilsteveryone else went to be debriefed before going fortheir own medical checks.

When Daniel got to the Infirmary, Jack was nowhere insight. He submitted to the quick check over Janet gavehim quietly.

"How are you feeling?" Janet asked him as she checkedhis blood pressure.

"I'm ok," Daniel said softly.

"Do you want something to help you sleep tonight?"Janet asked.

"No, I'll be fine," Daniel said. Having Jack back wasall that he needed to help him sleep. "How's Jack?"

His ribs are cracked, but he'll be fine," Janetreplied. "He needs to take it easy for a few daysthough, to give him a chance to heal. Perhaps you cantry and persuade him of that."

"I'll try," Daniel said. "But you know Jack, he's notthe world's best patient."

"Well do your best Daniel," Janet said. "I'm puttingSG1 on medical stand down for 4 days though. You allneed some time to recover from the past few days. Thatwill allow the Colonel's ribs time to heal as well."

"Thanks, Janet," Daniel slid off the bed.

"Oh, and Daniel," Janet said as he headed for thedoor. "The Colonel said he'd be waiting in his officefor you to drive him home."

Daniel turned and smiled at her. "Thanks, Janet," hesaid again.

Once they had reached home, Jack and Daniel wentstraight to bed, too tired to even eat first. Danielcuddled up to Jack, putting his arms around himcarefully to avoid the strapped ribs.

"Glad you're home," Daniel said, kissing him softly.

"Me too," Jack said, running a hand across Daniel'sface. "I hated that place, all that darkness androck." He shuddered convulsively and Daniel hugged hima bit closer. "I was just so glad you weren't theretoo."

"You're safe now, so let's try and get some sleep,"Daniel suggested. He reached out to turn out the lamp,but Jack put a hand on his.

"Leave it, please," he said. Daniel looked at him, aquestion in his eyes. "I don't want darkness," Jacksaid, eyes downcast, embarrassed.

"It's all right, Jack," Daniel said. He rubbed a handacross Jack's shoulder. "If it makes you morecomfortable to leave it on, then we'll leave it on."

"Thank you," Jack said, relieved Daniel wasn't teasinghim for what he felt was childish behaviour.

"Sleep, Jack," Daniel said. He tucked one leg betweenJack's and pulled his head against his chest. Runninghis fingers through Jack's hair, he tried to reassureJack that it was ok to relax and let go, to allowhimself to sleep.

And eventually, it did work. Jack's breathinggradually evened out and became deeper as he relaxedand drifted off to sleep. Daniel relaxed himself as herealised that Jack was asleep, finally allowinghimself to fall asleep too.

The next morning, the two men woke late to see the sunstreaming through the window. It was a beautiful day.Jack stretched slowly, careful not to hurt his ribs.

"How do you feel?" Daniel asked him, admiring theview.

"Actually, not too bad," Jack admitted with a smile."Just need a shower to get all the kinks out."

"Are you sure about that?" Daniel asked with a leer.

"Daniel!" Jack said. "You know we can't. Janet said Ihave to take it easy, and I'm sure that sex doesn'tfall into that bracket."

"I can wash your back," Daniel suggested.

"Don't tempt me," Jack said with a groan. "Go makesome coffee."

"All right," Daniel said with a sigh. He slid out ofbed and picked up a t-shirt to put on.

"That's my t-shirt," Jack said.

Daniel smiled. "I know, it smells of you," he pulledthe t-shirt on, then added a pair of pyjama bottoms.

"And those are my jammies," Jack protested again. Thistime Daniel merely nodded in agreement.

"Weird," Jack said, shaking his head. Daniel smiledagain and went to the kitchen to make the coffee.

Jack went through to the bathroom and put the wateron, singing off key as he did so. He was lookingforward to 4 days of just himself and Daniel at hometogether, cracked ribs or not. He had forgotten forthe moment about Rachel and Laura.

A little while later, a loud hammering on the doorstartled him.

"Jack," he heard Daniel's voice calling. He opened thedoor to see Daniel standing there blushing bright red.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Visitors," Daniel stammered, retreating to thebedroom as he did so. Jack followed him, oblivious ofhis nakedness.

"Who?" Jack asked, watching with concern as Danielripped the t-shirt and pyjama trousers off and startedto put his own clothes on.

"Rachel and Laura," he said.

Jack sighed, no wonder Daniel was so upset. "And youwent to the door dressed in my clothes," he said. "I'msorry, Daniel." Reluctantly, Jack started to dresshimself.

Daniel crossed to stand in front of the window,quivering still with upset and embarrassment at whathe had done. After he had dressed, Jack crossed tostand behind him. He put his arms around Daniel, whostood stiff and unyielding at first, then relaxed intothe embrace. Jack leant his head on Daniel's shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Daniel," he said again softly. "I'dforgotten all about them. I didn't expect Rachel tojust turn up like that." He kissed Daniel's cheek."I'll go get rid of them."

"You can't do that," Daniel said, twisting his head tolook at Jack. "You know you have to talk to her."

"I know," Jack sighed. "This is such a mess."

"I'll go," Daniel said abruptly, pulling away fromJack's embrace.

"That wasn't what I meant, Daniel," Jack said,reaching out to him.

"It'll still better if I go," Daniel insisted, puttingthe bed between him and Jack.

"Better for whom?" Jack asked. "I want you here, withme. I need you." That remark made Daniel look up,wide-eyed. "I mean it," Jack said insistently. "Don'tgo please, Daniel."

Daniel sighed. He was helpless in the face of Jack'sneed for him. "I'll stay," he agreed.

"Good," Jack smiled, pleased he had got his way.

"You'd better go talk to Rachel," Daniel reminded himgently.

"I know," Jack sighed. "Will you come with me?" heasked.

"I'll take Laura in the kitchen whilst you talk toRachel," Daniel said.

Jack nodded agreement, thinking it was probably a goodidea for them not to be around as Rachel was bound tocause a scene when Jack turned her down.

When Jack walked into his lounge, Rachel and Laurawere sat on the couch, heads together. They werelooking at a copy of National Geographic.

"Jack," Rachel jumped to her feet when she saw him."You're back then?"

"Um, look's like it," Jack said. He stuffed his handsin his trouser pockets nervously.

"I came to see what was going on as you've beenavoiding me for the last few days," Rachel said,watching Jack closely. She was puzzled by the factthat Daniel was there as well, sensing that somethingwas going on between the two men. She had beensurprised when Daniel had opened the door, dressedonly in a shirt, despite the fact that it was nearlylunchtime.

"Laura, would you like to go and have some ice creamwith Daniel?" Jack asked.

The little girl nodded shyly as she looked up atDaniel who smiled encouragingly at her. He held out ahand, which Laura took and allowed herself to be ledaway. Jack watched them disappear into the kitchen andthe door close. Then he turned back to Rachel.

"So," he said, "how are you?" He sat down on theopposite side of the room to Rachel, who resumed herposition on the couch.

"Not too bad," she said. He nodded awkwardly, not surewhat to say.

"Have you sorted things out?" Rachel asked,remembering the words that Jack had used on the phonethe last time they had talked.

"Yes," Jack nodded.

"And?" Rachel prompted when the silence made itapparent that Jack wasn't going to say any more.

"I can't look after Laura," Jack said, studying thefloor as he said it. The silence lengthened again, andeventually Jack looked up. Rachel was looking at him."Say something," Jack said.

"Why?" Rachel asked, standing up. "Why won't you takeher?"

"I can't," Jack said, standing up as well. He pacedthe length of the room. "It just wouldn't work."

"You're being selfish," Rachel said.

Jack looked at her. "I'm being realistic," he said."It wouldn't work on so many levels. I hardly knowher, my work, the hours I keep, my whole lifestyle isnot geared up to raising a child."

"You could change that, though, couldn't you?" Rachelasked. "Get to know her, change your work."

"Maybe, maybe not," Jack said, stern and unyielding inhis expression.

"So you don't want to do this then," Rachel concludedwearily. "You're not prepared to sacrifice anythingfor your daughter," her voice rose as she said it, andJack glanced at the kitchen door. There was no sign ofmovement and he turned back to Rachel.

"I don't want to do this, I can't do this," he said."I wish you could accept that. You don't know meRachel. You never really knew me." He turned away fromher with finality as he said it, sitting down again.

"So that's it then?" Rachel asked. "You've made upyour mind, no compromise, no discussion, subjectclosed?"

"Yes," Jack said deliberately, emotionlessly. "It'snot going to happen, Rachel. So please, just takeLaura and go."

He continued to sit there, stony-faced, ignoringRachel's agitated pacing in front of him. She wasreluctant to give in, though.

"Please, Jack, won't you think again?" she pleaded.Jack continued to sit implacably, ignoring her. It washurting him to do it, but he knew he had no choice.There was no way that this would work. He couldn'tgive up SG1, give up Daniel, retire again. Hecouldn't.

Seeing that there was nothing to be said right now tochange Jack's mind, Rachel sighed suddenly, defeated.

"I'll go then," she said. "But this isn't over yet,Jack. I'm not going to give up that easily." She wentto the kitchen to collect Laura. Jack sat on in thelounge, not moving, eyes closed. He heard the frontdoor open and voices mumbling, then the door closedagain. Still he sat there, unmoving, feeling tearsslide down his face. A minute later, he felt armsaround him, and his head cradled to Daniel's chest.

"It's ok, Jack," Daniel murmured. "I've got you." Heheld Jack close, whispering words of comfort in hisear, hands rubbing Jack's back as he cried.

Jack let Daniel hold him and soothe him, glad of thecomforting presence. Eventually, though, he stoppedcrying and eased back slowly, but allowed Daniel tokeep his arms around him.

"Thanks, Danny," he said with a tremulous smile.

Daniel smiled back, stroking a finger across Jack'scheek. "I love you," he whispered.

"Love you too," Jack whispered back. He pulled Danielforward for a kiss, fingers twining in Daniel's hair.

Daniel allowed Jack to control the pace of the kiss,sensing it was what Jack needed. It went on for a longtime, Jack probing Daniel's mouth with his tongue andnibbling at his lips. Eventually though, he pulledback, breathing heavily. He fell back against thechair, drained by the tumult of emotions he wasexperiencing. Daniel remained kneeling on the floor infront of him, hands resting on Jack's thighs. Hecaressed Jack's legs through the jeans Jack waswearing, trying to comfort him.

Jack rubbed his hands across his face, trying to pullhis control back together. He was acutely aware ofDaniel's presence in front of him and of the fact thathe had exposed himself to Daniel in a way he had neverreally done with anyone else before, not even Sara. Hewas more used to running and hiding than dealing withhis emotions. It said a lot about his relationshipwith Daniel that he felt able to open himself up tohim in this way.

At last, he looked down at Daniel, who was now sittingsilently on the floor by his feet, hands still rubbingacross Jack's legs periodically.

"Will you take me to bed?" he asked Daniel, who lookedup in surprise.

"What about your ribs?" he asked.

"I'm not asking for sexual gymnastics, Danny," Jacksaid wryly. "Just some reassurance and bodily contact.It'll be more comfortable horizontal than on thecouch."

Daniel looked at him. "Ok," he said. He had never seenJack this open and raw before, and it hurt him to seethe pain Jack was going through. He was more thanwilling to do anything he could to try and assuagethat pain for him. He rose to his feet gracefully andwaited for Jack to stand up. Then he put an arm aroundJack, pulling him close for the walk to their bedroom.

Once there, he kissed Jack slowly and softly on thelips, careful not to put any pressure on Jack's ribsas he hugged him again. Jack moaned into Daniel'smouth as he again thrust his tongue into Daniel'smouth. Daniel slid his hands down Jack's back tocaress his backside through his jeans. Jack moanedagain, and nibbled at Daniel's bottom lip. He kissedhis way along Daniel's jaw line to his ear. As hestarted to lick the ear, Daniel groaned deeply andground his hips against Jack's, letting him feelDaniel's arousal hard against him.

Jack pulled back slightly, reaching for Daniel's shirtbuttons blindly and trying to pull them undone. Hefumbled one undone, then Daniel's hands came on top ofhis, helping him. Jack pulled the shirt open and outof Daniel's trousers. He kissed his way down Daniel'sthroat to his chest, pausing only to lick at first onenipple, then the other. Daniel ran his fingers throughJack's hair, enjoying the feel of the strands. Heloved Jack's hair, finding the grey sexy.

"Bed," Daniel said. Jack looked up and nodded. Danielreached out and undid Jack's shirt.

"I can undress myself," Jack said.

"I want to do it," Daniel replied. "Let me take careof you, Jack."

"Ok," Jack sighed, revelling in the touch of Daniel'slong, strong fingers running down his shoulders as hepeeled the shirt away from Jack's body.

Daniel undressed Jack slowly and carefully, consciousall the time of Jack's damaged ribs. He then took offhis own clothes a lot more quickly. Jack stoodwatching, glad to let Daniel to be the one in chargefor a change. Once undressed, Daniel led Jack to thebed by the hand.

"Make love to me," Jack said as he slid into bedbeside Daniel. He knew that Daniel would be carefuland gentle. It was what he most needed right now.

Daniel nodded agreement, reaching out to caress Jack'sface gently. He pulled Jack into a close embrace andkissed him softly all over his face and lips. Then hemoved to straddle Jack's legs and kissed his way downJack's body, hands caressing and stroking him at thesame time. When he reached Jack's ribs, his fingersbecame even more gentle, the touch featherlight. Jackgroaned at the touch, and Daniel stopped immediately,a look of concern on his face.

"You're killing me with kindness," Jack saidbreathlessly, awed by the care and reverence Danielwas showing him.

Daniel smiled at him. "I'm not rushing this, Jack," hesaid.

"Pity," Jack said. "I might just die from bliss beforewe get to the main event at this rate."

"Patience is a virtue," Daniel said primly. Jacklaughed, then groaned as his ribs twinged with pain.

"Jack?" Daniel said anxiously.

"I'm all right, Danny," Jack said. "I can take alittle pain."

Daniel hesitated a moment longer, then noddedagreement. "Ok, but if it gets too painful, you haveto tell me, Jack."

"I will," Jack promised. Daniel nodded once more, thenreturned to his exploration of every inch of Jack'sbody, kissing, licking and nibbling his way acrossJack's skin. Finally, he turned his attention toJack's cock, and sucked it into his mouth slowly. Jackgasped loudly as he felt Daniel's tongue on him atlast. Daniel paused and gave him a look from under hislashes, checking that Jack was ok. Jack smiled down athim, encouraging Daniel to go on, so he did.

Jack lay back on the pillows, eyes closed, revellingin the sensations Daniel was producing within him.This was totally different to their first time and itwas a new experience for Jack to be this passiveduring sex, but he was enjoying it. Daniel continuedto suck the length of his shaft, nibbling gently onthe skin at the same time. Jack moaned appreciativelyand started to thrust his hips against Daniel's mouth.

Daniel paused and looked up at Jack.

"In the top drawer," Jack said before Daniel couldspeak. Daniel nodded and reached across to the drawer.He put some lube on his fingers, then slid one slowlyand gently inside of Jack, who groaned in appreciationof the sensation. Daniel returned to his suckling onthe shaft at the same time. A second finger joined thefirst, and gradually Daniel picked up the pace of histhrusts.

"Oh yeah, yes, Daniel, yes," Jack moaned hisappreciation of what Daniel was doing. He was enjoyingthe feel of Daniel's gorgeous mouth on him, all heatand strength. The long fingers thrusting inside himwere increasing their pressure and starting to strikehis sweet spot. "God yes," Jack said again, "don'tstop." He gripped the sheet beneath him tightly,knuckles showing white from the intensity of hisfeelings. Finally, he felt his climax start to comeand with a loud yell he poured himself down Daniel'sthroat, shuddering convulsively from the release.

After he had finished, he lay shaking from theintensity of the emotions. Daniel lay with one armacross Jack's chest, caressing him gently, one footrubbing across Jack's leg. He was a little stunned bythe way that Jack had reacted to the sex and concernedthat he hadn't hurt him.

Jack lazily opened his eyes and smiled down at Daniel."Sorry," he said. "Got a bit carried away there."

"It's all right Jack," Daniel smiled back at him. "Areyou all right?"

"More than all right, Danny," Jack said. He rolledcarefully on top of Daniel, feeling his lover's stillerect shaft below him. "Your turn," he said, grindinghis hips slowly against Daniel's.

"Jack, don't," Daniel said. "You don't need to dothis." He put a hand on Jack's shoulder. "I don't wantyou to hurt yourself on my account."

"Daniel, relax," Jack said, reaching down to graspDaniel's cock in his hand. "I'm going to be careful."

Daniel groaned, unable to resist the sensations asJack began to stroke his hand purposefully. Hecouldn't disguise that he needed release as he beganto thrust back against Jack's hand. Jack kissedDaniel, plunging his tongue into Daniel's mouth andmaking Daniel moan against him. They kissed until theywere breathless and gasping for oxygen. Jack had keptup his pumping of Daniel's shaft the whole time andfinally he came with a scream, head falling backagainst the pillow and eyes closing against theintensity of his orgasm.

The two men spent the rest of the day in bed, sleepingor talking. Daniel made the occasional trip to thekitchen for supplies, but Jack stayed put at Daniel'sinsistence. As they lay entwined together, dozing,Jack's phone rang startling them both. Jack reachedout a lazy hand to pick up the handset.

"O'Neill home for the terminally insane," he said,laughing at Daniel who was sprawled across him in aheap.

"Hello sir," Sam said.

"Carter," Jack replied, raising an eyebrow at Danielwho shook his head. He had no idea why Sam would beringing Jack.

"I wondered if you and Daniel were free for dinner,"she said. Jack frowned at the clock. It was nearly 6o'clock.

"What did you have in mind?" he asked, not botheringto ask how the Major knew that Daniel was at hishouse. She spent a lot of time with Janet, and he hada feeling that that theirs was another relationshipthe military establishment wouldn't approve of if itgot wind of it.

"Just O'Malley's," Sam said, referring to the steakhouse SG1 frequented regularly after missions. "Thethree of us, Janet and Teal'c."

"I'll ask Daniel," Jack said, hitting the secrecybutton on the phone.

"Do we want to go to O'Malley's for dinner?" Jackasked Daniel, who looked surprised.

"With whom?" he asked.

"Sam, Janet and Teal'c," Jack said.

"Do you feel up to it?" Daniel asked.

Jack shrugged. "I feel fine," he said. "My ribs areok."

"Wasn't actually referring to your ribs this time,"Daniel said, "I was thinking of your emotional health.Do you feel like being in company?"

Jack shrugged again. "It's not a big deal," he said."It's the team. My family remember," he used thephrase Daniel had used when they had argued. "It'sabout time they knew the truth about this last week."

"In that case," Daniel said, "let's go."

Jack nodded and turned back to the phone. "SorryCarter," he said. "You know how bad Daniel is atmaking decisions." He grinned at Daniel who had ashocked expression on his face at such an outrageouslie. "O'Malley's sounds fine. Is an hour's time ok?"

"Yes sir," Sam said. "We'll see you there."

"Later, Major," Jack said, then clicked his phone off."Better hit the shower, Daniel," he said.

Daniel groaned. "Not right now," he said. "I'm way toocomfortable."

"Now Daniel," Jack said. "You need to shower alone orwe'll never get out of the house." He winked at Danielas he said it. Daniel laughed at that.

"If you put it like that," he said, "I guess you'reright. And we need to stop by my place so I can getsome clean clothes. I refuse to meet the otherswearing your clothes."

Jack sighed and nodded, "I guess that would be a badidea," he said. "Even though you know none of themwould comment."

"Not the point, Jack, I'd know what they were thinkingand that would be enough," Daniel said. He didn't waitfor a further comment from Jack, but turned and headedinto the bathroom.

When the two men arrived at O'Malley's an hour later,Sam was waiting outside for them.

"Hello sir, Daniel," she said. "How are you both?"

"We're fine, Carter," Jack said. Daniel noddedagreement, and Sam could see that they both looked alot better than they had the day before.

"Where are Janet and Teal'c?" Daniel asked.

"Janet got held up on Base," Sam replied. "They shouldbe here soon."

"Let's go get a drink whilst we wait," Jack suggested.Sam nodded agreement so they went into the restaurantand sat at the bar whilst they waited.

They didn't have too long to wait for Janet and Teal'cto arrive and soon they were seated round a tablechatting whilst they waited for their food.

"There's something I'd like to talk about," Jack saidas the waitress left the table once they had beengiven their meals. Daniel looked at Jack, wonderingwhat he was going to say.

"What is it O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.

"I want to tell you why I had last week off," Jackreplied, concentrating on his plate as he spoke.

"Are you sure that's necessary sir?" Sam asked.

Jack looked up. "As Daniel so kindly reminded me lastweek, we're a family, and families share things. Andanother thing," he said. "A new rule, if you like;when we're out like this, off duty, I think it's abouttime we dropped the whole sir, Major, Colonel thingand called each other by our names."

Sam and Janet both stared at Jack in surprise as hesaid this and even Teal'c raised an eyebrow at Jack'scomments. Daniel merely smiled encouragingly at Jack,who smiled back briefly before going back to studyingthe contents of his plate, carefully cutting his steakinto pieces whilst he waited for a response.

Finally, Jack looked up again, surprised that no onehad said anything. "For cryin' out loud, someone saysomething," he said. "Anyone would think I'd just saidI was taking up archaeology the way you're all doingthe guppy act there."

Daniel laughed at that, which broke the moment oftension and the others laughed too.

"I think it's a great idea," Daniel said warmly.

"You would Daniel, you've never been big on callingpeople by their rank anyway," Jack pointed out.

"No, he's right," Janet said. "We are a family, Jack."She smiled as she said the name and Jack smiled backat her, pleased.

"Ok then," Sam said. "I can go along with that. Wehave known each other for a few years now."

"Good," Jack said with satisfaction. "Now about lastweek."

"You don't have to tell us, Jack," Sam said.

"I'm determined to do this, Sam," Jack replied, "butit's kinda embarrassing, so please be patient withme."

"Ok, if you're sure," Sam replied.

So Jack told them the whole story of Rachel and Laura,including the scene at his house that day. He omittedonly Daniel's part of the story, figuring that therewere still some things that were best kept private.After he had finished, he pushed away his plate, stillhalf full. He had lost his appetite during the tellingof the story.

Sam reached across the table and put a hand overJack's. "Thank you for telling us," she said softly."If there's anything we can do to help, please ask."She indicated herself and Janet as she said the lastpart.

"Thank you, Sam," Jack said, patting the hand whichlay over his. "I appreciate that. But I don't thinkthere's really anything anyone can do to help in thissituation."

"We will do our best to help in any way we can,O'Neill," Teal'c said. "Is there no other family thatcan take the child in?"

Jack shook his head. "Not as far as I know, certainlyno one that Rachel has admitted to existing."

Just then, Janet's mobile phone rang. "Sorry," sheapologised, fishing it out of her bag to answer. Shelistened carefully to the caller, face intent.

"Are you sure?" she asked. The others chatted quietlyabout nothing in particular whilst the call went on."Ok," Janet said finally, "I'll come in." She pausedto listen again, as Sam glanced at her. "Yes I do,"Janet said. "I'll do what I can. I'll be there in 20minutes." She switched the phone off and put it backin her bag, a serious look on her face.

"What is it Janet?" Daniel asked, concerned it mightbe an emergency at the SGC.

"It's Rachel Grey, "Janet said, watching Jack closelyas she spoke. "She's just been admitted to the localhospital. She's given my name as her doctor, so theycalled me. They also said that she was asking for you,Jack."

Jack looked up, startled, by that comment. "Oh, hell,"he said. "I'm sorry about this, Janet, I never thoughtthat you'd get stuck with this when I asked you to dothat paternity test."

"It's all right," Janet said, touching his handbriefly. "But I do have to go. Are you going to comewith me?"

Jack looked at Daniel, biting his lip anxiously.Daniel looked back steadily, saying nothing. This wasone decision Jack needed to make alone. Finally Jacklooked up at Janet.

"I guess I have no choice," he said. "I'll go."

"Ok," Janet said.

"Do you want me to come with you?" Daniel asked."Someone should be there for Laura's sake."

"Thank you," Jack said simply.

"You still shouldn't drive," Janet said to Jack as Samwent to the counter to pay the bill.

"Daniel can drive us in my car," Jack replied. "ThenSam has your car to take Teal'c back to the Base andgo home. We can drop you back at home later, if youwant."

"Ok," Janet said, seeing the sense in that. "We shouldgo then." She waited for Sam to come back and handedover her car keys.

On the drive to the hospital, no one said anything,each being lost in his or her own thoughts. Oncethere, Janet quickly led them to the floor whereRachel had been given a side room to herself. Laurasat at her bedside, clutching her mother's handtightly. Janet stopped to speak to the doctor who wastreating Rachel and Daniel took a seat outside theroom, whilst Jack went inside. After a couple ofminutes, Laura came out of the room and sat down nextto Daniel.

"Hello Laura," Daniel said softly.

"Hello Daniel," she said.

Janet came to join them and Daniel raised his eyebrowsquestioningly at her. She shook her head slightly andDaniel nodded. He turned back to Laura.

"Would you like to go and get a drink?" he asked.

"Ok, will you tell me about Egypt again?" she said,standing up and slipping her hand into Daniel's shyly.He nodded and smiled at her, then turned to Janet.

"See you later," he said. Janet nodded agreement.

As they walked away, Janet heard Daniel start to tellLaura about riding camels. She was smiling as she wentinto Rachel's room, but once inside, she becameserious again. The Colonel was standing by the window,hands shoved deep in his pockets, his version ofDaniel's arm-folding defensive gesture. Rachel waswatching him from her bed and Janet could see she wasunhappy.

"Hello Rachel," Janet said briskly. She saw Jack snapround, startled, when she spoke. She went over to thebed and picked up Rachel's chart. "Could you give us aminute please?" she said to Jack, who noddedwordlessly. He was so tense, he was practicallyshaking.

"Where's Laura?" Rachel asked Janet as Jack crossedthe room to the door.

"Daniel took her to the cafeteria," Janet said. "She'sok."

Rachel nodded. "You won't leave, will you?" she askedJack as he opened the door. He turned back briefly.

"I'll stay a little while, but I'm not taking Laura,"he said tautly, then stepped through the door quickly,pulling it closed behind him, resisting the urge toslam it.

After he had gone, Janet turned to Rachel, who gaveher a small smile.

"Sorry to land you with this," Rachel said. "I didn'tknow what to do and you're the only doctor I knowhere."

"It's ok," Janet said. "But I'm not an oncologist, soI can't do much."

"You can tell me the truth, in language I understand,"Rachel said. "That's what I really need right now."

"Ok," Janet agreed. "It's not good news, though."

"I guessed that," Rachel said.

Jack decided to go to the cafeteria to find Daniel andLaura. He slouched along slowly, hands still in hispockets, thinking about Rachel. He was determined notto give in to her demands to take Laura. However, healso was unhappy about the idea of her going intofoster care. All he could think of was Daniel, who hadgrown up with foster parents. He didn't like the ideaof Laura going through the same experience. It wasobvious to Jack that it had scarred Daniel, in waysthat were not readily apparent to most people butclear to Jack.

As he reached the cafeteria, Jack paused just insidethe door, scanning the room to find Daniel and Laura.He spotted them across the far side of the room,sitting talking. Jack smiled as he saw them. Theirconversation looked animated, Daniel was waving hishands around and Laura was laughing at something hewas saying to her. Jack crossed the room slowly,reluctant to break the moment. He had never reallyseen Daniel interact with children before, but was notsurprised to see that he did so easily. Daniel had aknack of building a rapport with more or less anybodyhe spoke to, which was one of the reasons why Jackloved him.

As he reached the table, Daniel must have sensed hisapproach, because he suddenly looked up straight intoJack's eyes. Daniel smiled and Jack couldn't help butsmile back at the look of joy and pleasure in Daniel'sface as he saw Jack.

"Hey," Jack said softly, sitting down next to Laura.

"Hi Jack," Daniel said. "Are you ok?" he could seethat the strain was back in Jack's face and he felt aspurt of anger at Rachel for putting Jack through somuch. His face darkened momentarily then cleared againas he smiled at Jack.

Jack nodded wearily, saying nothing. He was trying toswallow his anger and pain at the futility of thewhole situation. All he really wanted was to go home,take Daniel to bed and forget about the whole mess.

"How are you Laura?" he asked.

She smiled up at him. "I'm going to be anarchaeologist," she said excitedly. "I'm going to goand dig up things, like Daniel does."

Jack raised his eyebrows at that. "Daniel, what haveyou been telling the child?" he said.

"Nothing, really," Daniel said. "We've just beentalking about Egypt, and I told Laura about what Ido."

"Right," Jack said sceptically.

"Can I go and see mommy?" Laura asked. "She's not verywell and she needs me."

Jack closed his eyes, feeling a stab of pain at thatinnocent remark.

"Of course we can," Daniel said. "We'll go now shallwe?" Laura nodded eagerly and stood up. She pulled onJack's arm.

"Can I hold your hand this time, daddy?" she said.

Jack took a step back in horror at that. He turned andrushed blindly from the room and down the corridor.Spotting an exit sign, he threw the door open andcharged outside. Turning a corner, he collapsedagainst the wall, legs unable to support his weightany more. He put his head in his hands and startedcrying, harsh sobs that tore through him, making himshudder.

Daniel stared after Jack, horror stricken. He had seenthat look on his lover's face before, when Jack talkedabout Charlie. A tugging on his arm caught hisattention.

"What's wrong?" Laura asked. Daniel looked down, thenlooked away, unable to meet the girl's clear, innocentgaze.

"He wasn't feeling very well," Daniel said blankly.

"Is he sick like mommy?" Laura asked.

Daniel shook his head, trying to pull himselftogether. All he wanted was to go after Jack, but hecouldn't abandon Laura.

"No, he hurt himself yesterday and he just feltunwell," Daniel said finally, unable to think of aconvincing lie to tell Laura. "Let's go back to yourmom's room." He took Laura's hand and led her from theroom.

Part way down the corridor, he was glad to see Janetcoming towards him.

"Can you take Laura to her mother?" he asked urgently.Janet looked surprised by Daniel's tone of voice, butagreed without hesitating. "Thanks," Daniel said. Heturned on his heel and headed to the exit he had justpassed. He guessed that Jack would have fled thebuilding as soon as possible.

Once outside, he turned the first corner he saw. Onething he knew from personal experience was that whenrunning away, you moved blindly, following the mostobvious route. Normally you were too upset to doanything else, and despite his military training,right now all that was all Jack was: a hurt personrunning away.

Jack was still lying against the wall, crying whenDaniel turned the corner and saw him. A pang of painshot through Daniel when he saw him, and he fell tohis knees in front of Jack, gathering him into hisarms.

"It's all right, Jack, I've got you, you're ok," hewhispered, running his hands across Jack's back.

The two men stayed there, sprawled on the floor for along time before Jack was finally able to bringhimself under control again and stop crying. He pulledback from Daniel's embrace, and took one of Daniel'shands in his own.

"Thank you," he said simply.

Daniel kissed the hand that held his. "Any time," hesaid. He smiled at Jack. "I love you," he reminded himgently.

"I seem to be making a habit of crying in your arms,Danny," Jack said wryly. "I thought I was the strongone out of us, but I'm not. You're way stronger than Iam. I'm sorry I ever doubted that. I love you."

Daniel smiled and hugged Jack to him again. "We shouldgo back inside," he said gently. "Janet will beworried."

"Yea," Jack agreed wryly. He staggered to his feet. "Ishould wash my face," he said. "I must look likedeath."

"Not quite that bad," Daniel said with a grin. "Butyou don't look too good."

"Thanks, Danny," Jack said. "You know how to boost aguy's ego." He laughed as he said it and Daniel smiledagain, pleased to see Jack's natural humourresurfacing.

The two men went back into the hospital together andDaniel waited for Jack to wash in a restroom beforegoing back to Rachel's room. Janet was sat in thecorridor outside the room, but got to her feet as soonas she saw them coming towards her. She guided theminto an empty office and shut the door.

"What happened?" she asked, looking from one man tothe other.

"Laura called me daddy," Jack said, turning to thewindow. Janet raised her eyebrows at Daniel insurprise.

Daniel crossed over to stand beside Jack, putting ahand on his arm. Janet watched the two of themcarefully, seeing the protective way that Daniel stoodnext to Jack. She was surprised to see this apparentreversal of what she normally perceived their roles tobe. Jack was usually the protector, lending support toDaniel. Seeing Jack this vulnerable was unusual, butJanet welcomed it as a sign of Daniel's positiveinfluence on him.

"Is Laura all right?" Jack asked without turning. "Ihope I didn't scare her running off like that."

"She's fine," Janet said. "Daniel told her you feltunwell."

Jack did turn round then. "Was that a good idea?" heasked.

"It was all I could think of on the spur of themoment," Daniel replied. "I was worried about you."

"Sorry, Danny," Jack said softly, leaning his headagainst Daniel's shoulder. "I never meant for you toget involved in all this mess."

"Bad luck, Jack," Daniel said. "I knew what I wasgetting into when I got involved with you. That meansthe good and the bad."

Both men had forgotten for the moment that Janet wasthere, as they were so engrossed in each other. Shecleared her throat gently, embarrassed at beingpresent at such an intimate moment between the twomen.

Slowly, they both looked round, and Janet blushed.

"Sorry," she said.

"No, we're sorry," Daniel said crossing over to her."Kinda forgot you were there for a moment."

"It's all right, Daniel," Janet said. "I dounderstand."

"So, what's the story with Rachel then?" Jack changedthe subject abruptly, surprising Janet. Daniel wasgetting used to Jack's sudden mood swings and didn'tlet it worry him.

"Things are progressing," Janet said.

"What exactly does that mean?" Jack asked harshly.

"I can't tell you a lot because of patient/doctorconfidentiality, Jack, you know that," Janet told himwarningly.

"Right," Jack said flatly.

"She did talk to me about you, though," Janet said."She asked me to try and persuade you to take onLaura. I told her I couldn't do that."

Jack dropped his eyes, embarrassed. "I'm sorry,Janet," he said apologetically. "You didn't ask to getinvolved in this any more than Daniel did. I neverthought she'd ask for you like that. It's prettyunfair."

"It's ok," Janet said. "I don't mind. There's not alot I can do for her anyway. She just wanted to talkto someone who would be honest with her about hercondition, and she thought that I would do that. Ididn't expect her to try and use that to then to getyou, though. It's an unfair tactic, trying tomanipulate me, but I won't let her get away with it."

"Thank you," Jack said.

"What about Laura?" Daniel asked. "She needs somewhereto stay whilst her mom's in hospital."

"Could she stay with you, Jack?" Janet asked. "Itwould be better than the alternative."

"I don't think that would be a good idea," Jack said."I don't feel comfortable with the idea."

"Why not?" Daniel asked. "She is your daughter, Jack,and it would be better than the alternative even if itis only for a little while."

The look on Daniel's face was enough to convince Jack.He could see that Daniel had some bad memories he wastrying to suppress.

"Ok, she can stay for a little while, just whilstRachel is in here. But you'll have to stay with us aswell, Daniel. She likes you. Don't you agree Janet?"he appealed to the doctor for support.

"Definitely," Janet nodded her agreement.

"Oh, I don't think that would be a good idea," Danielsaid shaking his head.

"Why not?" Janet asked. "Jack's right, she does likeyou, Daniel. It'll be good for her to have as manyfriendly faces as possible around at the moment."

"If you're sure it's a good idea," Daniel said, "thenI guess I can stay."

"Good," Jack said with satisfaction. "We'll stop byyour place on the way home to pick up some stuff."

Daniel suspected Jack of an ulterior motive in havinghim to stay, but he knew there would be nothing goingon whilst Laura was there. It wouldn't be a good idea.

Janet took them back to Rachel's room to let her knowwhat was happening. Rachel was pleased that Jack hadagreed to take Laura home with him. Jack suspected shethought it was the first step on the road to himeventually agreeing to take her on permanently.

The next day, Jack contacted the General to ask himabout tracing any of Rachel's relatives. He didn'tbelieve Rachel's assertion that she had no relativesat all, it just didn't seem possible. Even Daniel hadturned out to have a grandfather in the end, despitethe fact SG1 had spent years thinking he had no one.

General Hammond agreed to do what he could. He askedif Jack was getting enough rest, reminding the Colonelthat he was supposed to be on medical leave.

"I don't want you overdoing it, son," the Generalsaid.

"I'm fine sir," Jack said, a little surprised by thequestion. "Dr Frasier will be watching over me anyway,as I'll be spending a lot of time at the hospital inthe next few days."

The General accepted that and promised to let Jackknow as soon as he had any news about the search forRachel's relatives.

For the next two days, Jack spent most of his time atthe hospital whilst Laura visited her mother. He tookpiles of paperwork with him and Janet arranged anoffice for him to use so that he could write hisreports undisturbed. Daniel spent as much time at thehospital as he could as well, but it was harder forhim because a lot of his translation work involvedartefacts he couldn't take off base. However, hecalled Jack or Janet regularly for updates.

Rachel was not getting any worse, but she didn't seemto be getting any better either. She had given Janether permission to tell Jack about her condition.

"She may stay like this for a long time, withoutgetting better or worse," Janet told him, oneafternoon as she sat having a cup of coffee with Jack.

"So what happens then?" Jack asked. "Does she have tostay in hospital?"

"Probably not," Janet said. "Provided there is someoneto look after her, she could be at home just aseasily."

"Right," Jack said. "Well, I'm NOT volunteering forthat job."

"No one expects you to Jack," Janet pointed outgently. She was getting used to Jack's prickliness onthe whole subject now, and didn't take offence if hegot angry. It wasn't directed at her, just at thesituation, and his frustration with it.

Just then, the phone rang. Jack grabbed it up, hopingit was Daniel, as he hadn't spoken to thearchaeologist for a while. Daniel was refusing tosleep in the same bed as Jack whilst Laura was stayingwith them, and that was another reason for Jack'scurrent frustration, even though he understood on anintellectual level the reason behind Daniel'sargument.

"O'Neill," he said curtly into the phone.

"Colonel, it's General Hammond," the voice on theother end of the line said.

Janet could tell from the expression on Jack's facethat it wasn't Daniel on the phone. She watched hisface carefully as he listened to what was being saidto him. A look of relief came over his face, and shewas surprised by the transformation. Suddenly, Jacklooked a lot younger as the worry lines smoothed out.

The door opened and Janet turned to see Daniel comeinto the room. He raised his eyebrows at Janet,wondering whom Jack was speaking to. She shrugged,unable to tell from Jack's occasional monosyllabiccomments who was on the phone.

"Ok, thank you, sir," Jack said finally and put thephone down.

"Jack?" Daniel asked, advancing into the room.

"Daniel!" Jack jumped up and hugged the other man tohim enthusiastically. "Good news," he said.

"Was that the General?" Janet asked.

"Yeah," Jack said. He released Daniel and perched onthe edge of the desk. "They've managed to find an auntof Rachel's in Kansas."

"That's great, Jack," Daniel said, smiling at him. Hetoo could see the transformation of Jack's face fromstrained and tense, to relieved and relaxed. Despitewhat Jack said, he knew that he cared a lot about whathappened to Laura and Rachel, Laura especially.

"So what happens now?" Janet asked.

"Now I call her," Jack said holding up a piece ofpaper on which he had written a name and phone number.

Half an hour later, Jack was in Rachel's hospitalroom, telling her the news about the aunt, whose namewas Martha. Laura had gone to the cafeteria withDaniel, whilst Janet had had to head back to the SGC.

"So, she's agreed to come here to meet you and Laura,"Jack concluded the story of his conversation. Marthawas a widowed school teacher, who had been shocked todiscover that her sister's daughter was so ill. Shehad not heard from Rachel for 15 years and was notaware that she had a child of her own.

Rachel looked at Jack carefully. She could see thechange in him as well, and recognised it for what itwas.

"Do you think she'll be willing to take Laura in?" sheasked him.

"I think she'll be happy for you both to go to her,"Jack told her. "She was thrilled to find out that youhad a daughter and might be willing to go and staywith her. She sounded kinda lonely."

"You're pleased about this aren't you?" Rachel said.

"I think it would be the best thing for both you andLaura," Jack said.

"Will you tell Laura?" Rachel asked next.

"No," Jack said firmly. "This is something she needsto hear from you. Martha will get here later tonight.She's booking into the airport hotel for the night,and then I'll bring her out here tomorrow morning."

Rachel put a hand on Jack's, which was resting on theend of the bed. "Thank you for doing this, Jack," shesaid.

Jack pulled his hand away, expression stern. "Whydidn't you tell me about Martha in the first place?"he asked. "Why did you make me go looking for her?"

"I didn't think she would want to know about me as Ihadn't been in touch with her for such a long time,"Rachel said.

Just then the door opened, and Laura came running in,followed by Daniel a minute later.

"What's the matter, honey?" Rachel asked as Lauraclimbed on to the bed beside her mother.

"I missed you mommy," Laura said.

Jack looked at Daniel, who shrugged his shoulders. Hedidn't understand why Laura had suddenly wanted to bewith her mother again, but she had. So Daniel hadbrought her back.

The two men left the room together. "How did she takethe news?" Daniel asked Jack.

"Pretty well, I think," Jack said.

Daniel looked quickly around them and slipped his handinto Jack's, and squeezed. "Good," he said.

Jack pulled him into the office and pushed the doorclosed with his foot. Then he pushed Daniel againstthe wall and kissed him hard, plunging his tongue intoDaniel's mouth. Daniel responded just as avidly,thrusting his hips hard against Jack, who felt theforce of Daniel's arousal hard against him. Jackthrust back, pushing Daniel back against the dooragain. He was just as aroused as Daniel was.

The two men finally broke apart, chests heaving asthey sucked in oxygen.

"Sorry," Jack said breathlessly.

"What for?" Daniel asked.

"Starting something we can't finish," Jack replied.

"Did you hear me ask you to stop?" Daniel asked.

"No," Jack said.

"So why can't we finish?" Daniel pulled Jack to himfor another kiss, his hands roaming all over Jack'sbody at the same time.

Jack felt Daniel pull his trousers undone and his handslip inside the zipper. He gasped in shock and triedto pull back.

"Don't," Daniel pleaded.

"It's not very private," Jack said, trying to besensible, surprised at the way Daniel was behaving.

"I don't care," Daniel said. "I want you Jack, I NEEDyou. We've been good for too long. I can't wait anylonger. I'm sorry."

"Ok," Jack nodded. He reached behind Daniel and lockedthe door. Then he pulled the blinds closed. He waspretty sure that they wouldn't be disturbed, thanks toJanet, who had arranged the office for him in thefirst place. Then he turned back to Daniel and led himto the couch in the corner of the office.

"Let's try and be a bit more comfortable," Jack said."I'm too old for stand up sex."

The two men undressed quickly, then Daniel straddledJack's thighs and reached in for a kiss. He tookJack's cock in his hand at the same time and startedstroking. Jack moaned involuntarily at the sensations.Daniel's long fingers were very talented at this andJack enjoyed it to the full. Daniel kissed his waydown Jack's throat to his chest, licking and nippinghis nipples to hardness.

Jack held Daniel close, enjoying being loved by him.Daniel was a generous lover, his passionate naturetranslating into this area of his life as well. Danielslid down from Jack's lap to kneel on the floor infront of him. Jack guessed what he was doing and movedforward to allow Daniel room.

Daniel smiled up at Jack from under his lashes, awicked look that made Jack shiver with anticipation.Then he bent his head and swallowed Jack, making himgroan. Jack's fingers slipped into Daniel's hair as hefelt Daniel suck on him. He closed his eyes, breathinghard, trying not to make too much noise, conscious ofwhere they were.

Daniel continued sucking, enjoying listening to Jack'smoaning and groaning. He slipped one finger insideJack, making him buck wildly from the unexpectedpenetration. After a second finger joined the first,Jack moaned loudly and felt himself come, pouring intoDaniel's throat.

Afterwards, Jack lay shattered, feeling Daniel kisshim, but without the strength to respond.

"Jack," Daniel said, "I want you."

Jack forced his eyes open and saw Daniel smiling downon him. "Love you," he stuttered.

Daniel smiled back. "Love you too," he said. He kissedJack across his face, finally kissing him on the mouthsoftly. "Can you move?" he whispered. Jack forced his eyes open again, conscious that he wasdenying Daniel gratification. "Try," he grunted,struggling into a more upright position, with Danielhelping him to move.

"Lie down, Jack," Daniel said, helping him to swinghis legs up onto the couch. Jack grimaced as a twingewent through his ribs, but fortunately Daniel didn'tsee as he was going through the pile of clothes on thefloor. He came back with a tube of lube in his hand.

Jack grinned. "Didn't know you were a Boy Scout,Danny," he said. He was starting to recover.

Daniel grinned back. "Never hurts to be prepared," hesaid.

"I can't believe you came here prepared to do this,"Jack said.

"Told you I needed you," Daniel replied. He looked atJack carefully. "Do you want to do this?" he asked.

"Whatever you want, Daniel," Jack said seriously. "Ican't deny you anything. Surely you've worked that outby now?"

"This is a partnership, though," Daniel said.

"Go ahead, already," Jack said, "before we'redisturbed."

Daniel nodded agreement. Jack opened up his legs andDaniel slid a cushion underneath his hips for support.Jack lay back against the couch and waited for Danielto prepare them both. He felt Daniel poised on thebrink of entering him and pushed himself up slightly.Daniel looked the question and Jack nodded that he wasready, so Daniel slid slowly inside, both men groaningas he did so. Carefully, slowly, Daniel beganthrusting into Jack. Gradually he built up speed andthrust harder and harder until he was hitting Jack'sprostate every time. Jack had put another cushion overhis face to stifle his cries and moans. As Danielcame, he bit his tongue so hard he drew blood, in hiseffort not to scream out loud his climax. Then hecollapsed across Jack in a boneless heap, both menexhausted and spent.

Several minutes passed before Jack finally stirred. Hewas starting to feel a little uncomfortable havingDaniel sprawled all across him. He put a hand onDaniel's shoulder. Daniel looked up.

"Sorry, Jack," he said hastily, suddenly rememberingJack's injured ribs. He sat up quickly. "Are you allright?" he asked anxiously.

"Fine, Daniel," Jack said. "Apart from having nofeeling in my legs."

"Sorry," Daniel said. He scrambled into a sittingposition.

"S'alright," Jack said. "But we should really getgoing. Rachel's gonna be wondering where we are. Itmust be time to go home for dinner by now."

Daniel reached for the pile of clothes on the floorand started sorting them out. He passed Jack's clothesto him, then dressed quickly in his own clothes. Jackwent to unlock the door, checking no one was aroundbefore he nodded to Daniel and they crossed thecorridor to the restroom before heading down toRachel's room. Once they were both satisfied it didn'tlook like they'd just been having sex, they left tofetch Laura.

Early the next morning, Jack left to collect Marthafrom the airport, whilst Daniel took Laura to thehospital. They had agreed that for Laura's sake itwould be better for them all to meet at the same time.

Jack brought Martha into the hospital room, whereRachel was sitting up in bed. She was nervous abouthow her aunt would behave, and what she would say.Laura was sitting on the side of the bed, fiddlingwith her skirt hem. She was also nervous. Daniel hadleft them alone together, deciding it was better if hewaited outside.

Jack introduced Martha to Laura and Rachel then leftas well. "We'll be in the cafeteria when you're done,"he told them.

"Thank you, Jack," Martha said. She was a tall woman,with greying hair and an air of calm authority. Jacknodded to her, then left them to talk.

When Martha finally came to fetch Jack and Daniel,Janet had joined them. The four of them sat togetherat an outside table, taking advantage of the sun, aswell as some privacy.

"Rachel and I have agreed that she and Laura will comeand stay with me in Kansas and that I will becomeLaura's legal guardian after Rachel's death," Marthasaid.

Jack nodded agreement. "Thank you," he said. "I thinkLaura will be very happy with you."

"You're taking a lot on trust here," Martha said. "Youdon't know me. You are Laura's father, are you surethat this is what you want as well?"

Jack looked her in the eye. "This is the right thingfor Laura. I couldn't bring her up properly alone. Sheneeds a stable home life and I couldn't give her that.I go on my instincts when it comes to people, and myinstinct is to trust you."

"Thank you," Martha said, a bit surprised by what Jackhad said. "Then I must see to the arrangements for usto go home." She stood up. "You are welcome to call orvisit whenever you want, Jack," she said. "I don'twant Laura to lose contact with you."

Jack nodded at that. "Thank you," he said. "I willkeep in touch."

After she had gone, Daniel put a hand over Jack's."Are you really ok with this?" he asked.

"Yes," Jack said. He looked at Daniel and smiled."It's the best thing for everyone."

Daniel nodded his acceptance of that comment.

Epilogue - one month later

SG1 had just returned from a mission and were in thelocker room changing when Ferretti came running intothe room.

"Colonel O'Neill, a call for you," he said. "TheGeneral said it was urgent."

Daniel looked at Jack, who went white and rushed fromthe room. Daniel finished dressing and dashed afterhim. Daniel still couldn't change as fast as theothers, but he was getting quicker.

When he reached the briefing room, Daniel paused. Jackwas in the General's office, visible through thewindow. He was standing with his back to Daniel,talking on the phone. The General was standing in thebriefing room, watching Jack as well. He turned asDaniel came up to him, but didn't say anything. Theystood watching in silence as Jack talked for a fewminutes more, then put the phone down and came out ofthe office.

"Jack?" Daniel was at his side in an instant, notliking the look on his lover's face.

"It's Rachel," Jack said. He reached out blindlytowards Daniel, who grabbed his arm and led him to achair. Sam and Teal'c had now joined them in thebriefing room. General Hammond dismissed thetechnician working at the corner desk.

"What is it?" Sam asked.

"Rachel's dead," Jack said. He put his head down onhis arms. Daniel hovered anxiously, uncertain how toreact. All he wanted was to put his arms around Jackand hold him, but he was aware that this was a publicplace - there were still SFs in the room as well asGeneral Hammond.

"Colonel, you're free to go as soon as Dr Frasier haschecked you out and we've debriefed," Hammond said.

Jack raised his head. "Thank you, sir," he said.

"Dr Jackson, you can accompany Colonel O'Neill, if youwish. I believe you are quite close to Ms Grey'sdaughter."

Daniel nodded his appreciation. "Thank you General,"he said.

"We will debrief as soon as you return from theInfirmary," the General said.

Later that same night, the two men arrived in Kansas,where Martha was waiting for them at the airport.

"Laura is at home with my daughter," Martha said. Shelooked tired; the month that she had spent caring forRachel had obviously taken its toll on her. She drovethem back to her house, where they met Ruth, Martha'sdaughter.

"Laura finally fell asleep about fifteen minutes ago,"Ruth told Martha as she brought them all coffee.

"Can I see her?" Jack asked.

"Of course," Martha nodded. "I'll show you her room."Jack followed Martha out of the room, leaving Danielalone with Ruth.

"This is a nice house," Daniel said sincerely, lookingaround the room. It was decorated plainly and simply,but looked to be a much loved room.

"I love this house," Ruth said simply, "I grew uphere. Um, can I ask you a question?" She looked atDaniel curiously.

"Yes," Daniel said cautiously, wondering what she wasgoing to ask.

"You and Jack are together aren't you?" she asked.

Daniel blushed and stammered out, "why do you ask?"

"You seem connected," Ruth said, "and it's obviousyou're not related to each other. I'm sorry forembarrassing you. But I think you complement eachother. I've never seen two people who were so closebefore, you're very well suited."

Daniel blushed again. "Um, thank you," he said. Justthen Martha came back into the room with Jack.

"So, how long can you stay?" Martha was asking.

"A couple of days only, I'm afraid," Jack said. "It'shard to get away from work for any significant amountof time."

"Laura will be pleased to see you both," Martha smiledat the two men. "I'll show you your room," she said."I hope you don't mind sharing. It's the room mynieces and nephews share when they come to stay."

"That's ok," Jack said. "I'm used to Daniel snoringwhen we have to share a tent on missions." He smirkedat Daniel as he said it. Daniel ignored him: he wasused to Jack's snide comments by now.

The funeral was the next afternoon. It was a smallaffair because Rachel had been ill the whole time shewas in Kansas, so had not had a chance to get to knowanyone. Afterwards, they went back to Martha's housefor the wake.

Laura had been really pleased to see both Jack andDaniel, but disappointed they were only staying such ashort time. However, Jack had promised that they wouldreturn during her summer vacation and try to stay forlonger.

The day after the funeral, Jack took Laura out for theday, whilst Daniel stayed with Martha. Martha tookDaniel all over the house and the archaeologist had agreat time discussing the house and its history withher. When Jack got back, he found them deep in adiscussion about the differences between Shaker andAmish styles. He grinned at Daniel, amazed by thebreadth of his knowledge yet again.

A little while later, the two men were on the flightback to Colorado Springs.

"Thank you Daniel," Jack said.

"What for?" Daniel asked.

"Being here with me, understanding, getting me throughthis whole experience," Jack said.

"I love you Jack," Daniel said softly, aware that theymight be overheard, "this is what partners do." Hesqueezed Jack's hand, which was on the armrest betweenthem. "I'll always be here for you."

"I love you too, Daniel," Jack said, twining Daniel'sfingers with his. The two men smiled at each other,each glad to have found the other, even if the path totogetherness had been a long and rocky one.
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