Beyond the Abyss by Imagine
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, First Time, Hurt/Comfort, Missing Scene/Episode-Related
Rated: Adult
Warnings: Adult Themes
Series: None
Summary: Daniel has to make a choice that could change the course of more than one person's life. And, of course, being Daniel, it comes at a cost.

- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
Torture, more torture, violence, minor character death, machinations, dirty politics, and hands on Daniel that DON'T belong to Jack, language.

Thanks to my Beta, Gateroller!
He was exhausted but he couldn't stop. There was no way he could risk getting caught; and he couldn't allow the woman to either. He pulled at her, trying to make her run faster but instead she stumbled.

"It's too far," she gasped. "I can't."

A deep resonating voice answered her. "Hide here until the Chappa'ai is activated. Go." He ran on, lumbering with exhaustion as he reached the DHD and falling across it, he began to dial.

The sound of the staff weapon rent the air and the man was hit in the back, staggering to fall face down in the mud stunned with pain. He gasped as his symbiote exited his mouth to slither away, screeching as it did so.

The man continued in his effort to escape and crawled slowly forward unaware of the Jaffa approaching until one of them stood on his hand, halting his progress. The last fight seemed to die in the man as he collapsed. The Jaffa swore in his guttural tongue as he toed the man over onto his back; the man known as Colonel Jack O'Neill.

The leaves of the sarcophagus opened to reveal Jack O'Neill still wearing the clothes of the Tok'ra, nondescript brown shirt and leather trousers. He slowly stirred as the lights of the sarcophagus dimmed as a figure leaned down over him and a distant voice invaded his consciousness.

"The host still lives, my Lord."

Jack was confused. Who was talking and to whom? Who was the man above him, his face indistinct? The last thing he remembered was being sick, dying. Oh god I agreed to let them put a snake in my head, I must really have been sick. But he was in a sarcophagus and the Tok'ra didn't use them. What the hell was happening?

"It's the Tok'ra sir."

"It's about damn time. Open the iris," General Hammond ordered.

A Tok'ra male, in long robes, comes through the gate and met General Hammond at the bottom of the ramp. The General was clearly not happy to see Councillor Toren alone.

"Councillor, my patience on this matter has about run out. You've been promising the safe return of Colonel O'Neill for days now. Where is he?"

"I apologise, General Hammond but I'm afraid I am the bearer of bad news."

Hammond was not pleased and immediately directed Toren to the Briefing Room where Major Carter, Teal'c and Doctor Fraiser were waiting for news.

Toren explained that Colonel O'Neill walked out of the Tok'ra base and disappeared.

"And he just walked out of your base and no-one noticed until it was too late?" Sam asked incredulously.

"Since the attack on our base on Revanna, we simply do not have enough people to stand guard anymore. We had no reason to expect this. I see no reason to apportion blame."

"Colonel O'Neill did put his life in your hands," General Hammond pointed out.

"Receiving the symbiote was his only hope for survival," Toren replied haughtily.

"He could have refused," Teal'c stated.

"In which case you would have never been able to retrieve the knowledge in Kanan's mind," Janet Fraiser added.

"A more than fair exchange," Toren conceded grudgingly.

"Colonel O'Neill would not agree to a blending with a symbiote unless there was more at stake than his life," Hammond argued.

"Perhaps it was that repugnance in blending with another mind that caused O'Neill to behave so irrationally."

Doctor Fraiser interrupted. "General, I can't speculate on Colonel O'Neill's state of mind but while the mature symbiote can take control of the host's body whenever it wants to," and then she looked at Toren, "it doesn't work both ways."

Toren looked sheepish.

"I can vouch for that, sir," Sam said. "There is no way that Colonel O'Neill would have walked out on his own."

"Then he was forced to do so against his will by the symbiote," Teal'c said, with an expression that for Teal'c, was smug.

"You accuse an honoured Tok'ra of behaving like a Goa'uld. Kanan has fought the Goa'uld longer than any of you have lived yet you spit the word symbiote as though you spoke of vermin. Kanan was as a brother to me." He took a breath and looked away from the SGC personnel. "The Tok'ra council accepts that Kanan may be lost to us."

Hammond was clearly angry. "Well that's the big difference between us, councillor. We don't leave our people behind."

Jack was manhandled along the corridor by two Jaffa. He was still very confused and had no idea how he came to be in the hands of the Goa'uld, or even which false god had him. He didn't even recognise the style of this place; no fancy drapes, no grillwork or hieroglyphs, just beige and browns with the ubiquitous gold.

He was finally dragged into an odd shaped room and forced to stand on a large circular dais in the centre, over which was a large multi-coloured stain-glass panel. Facing him on the far wall was a large metal framework, not unlike a spider's web, behind which was a peculiar blackness sucking away all the light. The guards released their hold on him and one of them pressed a button. Jack was shocked to find himself being pulled forward until he virtually fell into the framework where he was stuck, face first as if coated with glue. Jack recognised that this was some kind of gravity field and he struggled to move but it was very difficult and only with great determination he finally managed to pull one hand free and flip over onto his back, ending up spread-eagled against the grill.

Now he could see the man facing him, standing on the same dais in the centre of the room. He was a good looking man, middle-aged with dark hair and dark eyes with a small beard and a moustache. He was wearing a long black coat with ornate embroidery. Jack recognised a Goa'uld when he saw one. The man walked over to a long narrow table set to one side and opened a compartment set into the surface. He removed a dagger with an oddly shaped blade, almost wavy. He fingered the blade as he moved to a gold bench facing Jack.

"Who are you?" the man asked.

"You go first," Jack replied, fighting hard for every breath.

"You claim you do not know me?" the Goa'uld asked arrogantly, sure his prisoner was lying.

Jack was in no mood for this crap and was totally confused so he resorted to his 'dumb' act. "Well, take no offence there, Skippy. I'm sure you're a real hot important Goa'uld. I've just been kinda outta the loop with the...snake thing."

The Goa'uld was angry and glared at Jack. "I am Ba'al."

Jack raised a brow. "That's it?...just...ball? As in, Batchi?"

Ba'al stood. "You do not know the pain you will suffer...for this impudence." He held the dagger by the very tip of its handle and the knife blade automatically moved upward and pointed straight at Jack.

"I don't know the meaning of the word," Jack said defiantly, staring at the dagger. Then his face took on a look of innocence. "Seriously. Impudence. What does that mean?"

Ba'al released the dagger and it hit Jack in the chest slightly above his heart and it buried itself halfway in. Jack cried out with the pain.

Ba'al picked up another dagger and stood watching Jack, examining the dagger. He placed his free arm behind his back. "I shall begin again. Who are you?"

"Colonel Jack O'Neill, US Air Force. Two 'L's in that," Jack tried to bring up his hand to indicate two but it was too difficult.

"That may be who you once were, Tok'ra."

"I may be a lot of things, but I'm no Tok'ra," Jack insisted with feeling.

"It is true we were only able to capture the host. Your symbiote fled the body out of cowardice."

Jack looked down at the dagger sticking out from his chest, desperately trying to fight off the pain and knowing that number two would soon be on its way into his body. He was afraid but he couldn't let the snake see it.

"But it is also true that the Tok'ra share body and mind equally. You will know all that it knew." Ba'al said thoughtfully.

"I think I know less than you...think...I know."

Ba'al raised the dagger. "Why have you come to this outpost?"

"Now see, that's a perfect example right there. I haven't a clue."

Ba'al let go of the second dagger and Jack cried out again as it struck the other side of his chest. Ba'al picked up a third dagger.

"You have been here before."

Jack shook his head. "First time," he gasped in excruciating pain.

"You know your way to and from our most secret outpost. Clearly you have been here."


"Did you really hope to escape our personal guard?"

"What?" Desperate now.

"Why did you abduct my slave?"

"Alright, look...this is the last thing I remember, I swear to God. I was sick. I agreed to let the Tok'ra put a snake in my head or I would have died. Right now, I kinda wish I had." Jack's voice was wistful, lost.

Ba'al smiled wolfishly. "A wish easily granted. What was your mission here?"

"No mission." Almost a whisper.

"Why have you returned?"

"I've never been here." Fear was making Jack angry. How the fuck can I prove to this prick that I just don't KNOW!

"What did you want with the female?"

"What female?" Jack yelled.

"Death will only offer a temporary escape. I can revive you again and again. A thousand times, if need be. Only once you have told me everything I ask will you be allowed to" and raising the dagger he let it fly.

In the conference room at the SGC Sam, Teal'c and Tok'ra Toren are studying the star map.

"Where was Kanan's last mission?" Sam asked.

"He was an operative aboard Zipacna's last fleet. He managed to escape during a battle with the forces of Lord Yu, but just barely."

"Would Kanan have any reason to return?" Teal'c wondered.

Toren asked, "Such as?"

"Unfinished business, a task left undone."

"His report stated the mission objectives were complete. We are willing to attempt contact with our operatives on these worlds here, here, and here," and Toren pointed to three dots on the map.

"His previous missions," Teal'c assumed.

"If Kanan returned to these worlds, for whatever reason, our operatives may have learned of it."

"Well, when will we hear news?" Sam asked

"It may take many months," Toren replies coldly.

Sam frowned, not at all happy with the answer.

"You spoke of Kanan's mission reports," Teal'c interjected.

"What of it?" Toren queried.

"Well, we'd like to see them. If Kanan had unfinished business, there may be clues." Sam continued.

"Their contents are not relevant." Toren said dismissively.

"Well, Colonel O'Neill's life is at stake. I believe that makes them relevant," Sam stated.

"What you ask is not possible," Toren replied.

"Really?" Sam said, obviously doubtful.

Jack awoke again, horrified to find himself back in the sarcophagus, the machine's bright light still fading around him. He was unable to hold back from looking at his shirt to see the three holes made by Ba'al's knife, the third hole directly over his heart. I died again, familiar. Almost like an old friend.

He was dragged out of the sarcophagus by Jaffa guards and taken to what could only be his cell, though it is unlike any other he'd seen before. It has a strange shape, not unlike a hexagon in a neutral colour, empty, bar two small benches set into the walls. He entered and turned to face his captors. One of the guards pressed a button and a low hum permeated the cell. Jack dropped suddenly as the cell shifted and the floor became the wall and what was the back wall was now the floor. Luckily Jack landed on his feet, albeit heavily. He looked up disoriented to see the guards now far above him. No wonder there were no bars and no doors. There was no way out of the deep smooth-walled cell.

Jack studied his surroundings to see the cell was lit with eight lighted panels, two each for four 'corners' of the hexagon. He tested one of the lights, striking it with the heel of his hand but it was unbreakable.

Just then he heard a sound and he looked 'up' at the entrance to the cell and saw a woman kneeling there looking down at him. She was small and delicate in a long dark dress, just sitting there.

He stared wondering who she was when she asked, "Is it you?"

Jack frowned not understanding, yet oddly he knew he should. He was just about to answer when.....

"Hi Jack."

He slowly turned, sure he was imagining things and positive when he saw Daniel sitting there on one of the benches. It was Daniel, yet it wasn't. He was dressed smartly casual in a cream v-neck sweater that showed his fine skin to perfection and light brown trousers; most notable of all he wasn't wearing any glasses. Jack stared as the apparition lifted a hand to give a small wave.

Jack frowned, "Daniel?"

With a touch of his old sarcasm Daniel replied, "I leave...and look at the mess you get yourself into."

Jack cocked his head to one side and stared. I'm hallucinating, gotta be.

"It's good to see you," Daniel said.

"Yeah..." Jack said, backing up to the bench to sit down opposite his visitor, his eyes never leaving Daniel. "You, too." He leaned back against the wall. "It's a shame you're....a delusion."

"Oh, I'm here...I'm...I'm really here," Daniel said, nodding a little.

Jack sneered at him. "Sure ya are."

Daniel narrowed his eyes but stayed silent. Jack pursed his lips and pulled off one of his shoes and tossed it at Daniel, who blinked as the shoe sailed right through him to bounce off the wall.

Daniel grimaced. "Here, in the sense that my consciousness is here, not here in the full, physical," making his usual descriptive hand motions, "flesh and blood sense, which is neither here nor there...the point're not imagining this."

"I just tossed my shoe through ya."

"Yes you did, that's because I've ascended to a higher plane of existence..."

"Ohhhh," Jack interrupts sarcastically, still not believing.

"...with Oma Desala, the whole glowing thing, you helped me out and I couldn't have done that without you, remember that?"

Jack grimaced with discomfort. "Yeah."

Hesitating over the unpleasant memory, "I'm...I'm energy now," Daniel continued gesturing at himself.

"How's that working out for ya?" Jack asked still in sarcastic mode.

"Good, actually...very..." and Daniel glanced upward seemingly for no reason.

"Good," Jack continued for him.

Daniel brought his attention back to Jack. "Very good," he continued, "you...however--"

Jack seemed uncomfortable and threw up his hands dramatically, standing up, "Yeah, well..." he said, "You know what it's like, coming back from the dead," he retrieved his shoe. "Takes a while to get the colour back in the cheeks..." and he moved back towards the bench.

"Yeah..." Daniel sounded worried.

Jack stared at him then. Something in Daniel's manner, the tone of his voice, the way he drew out the word, suddenly convinced him. "So..." he asked as he slowly sat down again, waving his shoe as if in proof, "...not a delusion?"

"No," Daniel said, shaking his head and grinning.

Jack smiled feeling safe as he assumed his friend would help him, yet when the question was asked it was a little hesitant. "Okay, show me your stuff. Bust me out of here."

Daniel looked uncomfortable. "I can't."

"Why not?"

"I'm not allowed to interfere."

What? "You're interfering right now."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you are."

"No, I'm not. I'm consoling a friend," replied Daniel, raising his eyebrows.

"What good's the power to make the wind blow or toss lightning around if you can't use it to spring an old friend out of jail?"

"I would if I could," Daniel said awkwardly.

"You can't do that stuff?" Jack said puzzled.

"I can, I just...I can't." Daniel said confusingly.

Jack stared at Daniel no less puzzled, and sarcastically dismissed him. "Well...thanks for stopping by then."

Daniel became serious, his concern evident. "Ba'al is torturing you and I wasn't just going to sit by. Look, all he wants to know is the reason you came to this planet," and as Jack gave him a puzzled expression, Daniel questioned him. "You really don't know?"

Jack's brows shot up. "Do you?"

"Well, all I know is that you, or more accurately - the symbiote the Tok'ra placed inside of you, congratulations by the way - walked off undetected in the middle of the night and came here."

Jack didn't answer that. Instead, he said with disgust, "I can't believe I actually let them put a snake in my head. My head. I agreed to this."

"It never shared with you why it would walk alone into a heavily fortified Goa'uld outpost?"

"There was no sharing! I was sick!" Jack snapped defensively.

"I know," Daniel said in a soft voice.

"They did the implantation - a word I intend never to use again - and I woke up here," he hesitated frowning. Then dripping with sarcasm, "That' week so far."

" really don't know." Daniel was taken aback.

Jack glanced at Daniel before lowering his eyes, clearly thinking back.

"Something to do with one of Ba'al's slaves. I got a visual, but...I've never met her before."

Daniel stared at Jack and then as if something suddenly occurred to him, he said. "Nobody knows you're here."

That startled Jack who stared at Daniel as he continued. "Even if they did, they'd never be able to pull off a rescue because this place is a fortress." He paused again, obviously not liking what he had to say. "Ba'al is going to keep on torturing you to death, reviving you in the sarcophagus, until he finds out what he wants...which isn't possible because you don't know anything...or until you're not worth reviving anymore." Daniel's expression was filled with compassion and maybe something more for his friend. "But you'll cease to be the Jack O'Neill we know long before that."

Jack stared back and coping the only way he could, answered with his usual sarcasm. "Well, apparently I've got a big day tomorrow."

"No, I'm not going to let that happen...I won't let them destroy you," Daniel said.

Jack watched, reminded of that old Daniel streak of stubbornness. "You said you couldn't help."

"No, I can't stop Ba'al from torturing you any more than Oma could cure my radiation sickness, but..." and his determination is clear as he continued, "I can help you Ascend."

Jack's mouth dropped open before he snapped it shut and stared at Daniel

Hammond walked down the back stairs to the control room and met a very annoyed Councillor Toren.

"Your underlings will not allow me to leave."

Sam and Teal'c stood in front of the control room's computer console looking smug which for Teal'c is quite something.

"My officers and enlisted personnel are following my direct orders," Hammond informed. him.

"This Jaffa threatened my life."

"I merely informed you that any further attempt to activate the Stargate would result in physical injury." With his arms crossed and smug expression, Teal'c looked as if he was enjoying himself.

"Then I am a prisoner?"

"I would prefer that you consider yourself a guest," Hammond said, as self-satisfied as his people.

Then Sam added, "And you'll be free to leave as soon as you provide us with the mission reports we've requested...under article nine of our treaty."

"Such a request to the council must be made in person," Toren countered haughtily.

"Why is that?" Sam asked. "This control facility is quite capable of relaying your request on multiple frequencies, including those used by the Tok'ra."

Toren was clearly annoyed but knew he was at a disadvantage...

"Of course, if you choose not to avail yourself of that capability, we would be pleased to provide you with comfortable quarters, until you decide to change your mind," Hammond said with a biting smile.

"You threaten the peaceful continuation of relations between our two peoples, General Hammond."

"If our 'relations' continue in the direction they're going, councillor, I don't give a damn."

Toren looked at the determined expressions on the faces surrounding him and capitulated. "Very well. I will make your request that the reports be sent here immediately."

"Thank you," Hammond told him and left the room.

Toren glared at the two remaining members of SG-1 who merely smiled at him.

Jack looked at Daniel and asked softly, " wanna be my 'Oma'..."

Daniel seemed uneasy maybe even embarrassed, leaning forward and dropping his hands between his knees. "You could put it that way...I mean, I wouldn't but...maybe that's just me."

"And then what?" Jack asked, looking more comfortable than Daniel.

"Then...then I don't know."

"You don't know?" Jack asked, incredulous.

"No," Daniel replied, shaking his head. "No, ascension doesn't make you all knowing, I mean I really...don't know."

Jack scoffed. "If I'm catching the next of plane of existence outta here, you gotta gimme somethin'."

"It's your journey," Daniel said, hurrying on as Jack was clearly not impressed. "No one can choose...what you become or the path you will take. All I can promise you is that it will be an amazing journey." Jack snorted his disbelief Daniel narrowed his eyes. "Once you release your burden."

"Daniel, so help me, if you start talking like Oma--"

"I'm not talking like Oma Desala."

"It sounds like Oma."

"No, no, no, Oma Desala would say something like, uh, if you know the candle light is fire, the meal was cooked a long time ago, or something like that," lifting his eyebrows as he spoke suggesting he wasn't sure what that meant either.

Jack squinted at him. "Why?"

Daniel betrayed his irritation. "To open your mind."

Jack was just as irritated and holding up a finger, a trait he knew used to annoy Daniel, and said, "Though a candle burns in my house, there's nobody home."

Daniel frowned in confusion, before trying again. "Okay...let's take this one step at a time," he said, getting up to pace. "This has to be something you want. I can't do this for you."

Jack stared at Daniel, not understanding, then looked around his small cell. "One step at a time..." he said softly.

"One step at a time..." Daniel agreed.

It seemed that Jack was unable to look at Daniel as his eyes darted everywhere. The very idea of ascension bothered him, he'd never seen the universe the way Daniel did. He rose from the bench. "Well, there's got to be another way out of here," he murmured looking over at the recessed lighting panel.


Jack turned back to face him. "What if you did a little scouting for me? That'd be alright wouldn't it?"

"No." Daniel sounded weary. How can I convince him of something he's not willing to even think about?

"I'm not asking you to knock down walls or anything, just a little recon."

"Ba'al is just going to torture you..." Please listen to me.

"Or better yet, a zat gun. Help me get my hands on a zat..."

"The next time is going to be worse..." Jack....

"That when we move, the next time they come for me..."

"You can't fight your way out of this."

Jack's frustration escaped his control. "Then help me!"

"Not that way," Daniel said frantically, even as he heard a noise from above. "They're coming," Daniel warned.

"They can see you, right? We can use that." It's a chance, Danny come on!

"I'll be back," Daniel told him.

"Just a distraction, that's all I'm asking for," Jack pleaded.

"I promise," Daniel stated just as Jack looked up at the entrance to his cell. The guards had reappeared and Jack turned desperately back to Daniel, but he was no longer there.

"Daniel..." he whispered not believing his best friend could simply leave him like that but there was no answer.

The guards turned off the gravity once again before entering to pick Jack up and drag him from his cell.

Teal'c had joined Sam in her lab and they were laboriously going over Kanan's mission logs, trying to find something to help pinpoint where he could have taken Colonel O'Neill.

"His motive had to be personal," Sam suggested.

"For what reason?" Teal'c asked

"Well, the Tok'ra claim that all of Kanan's spy missions were a complete success, therefore he'd have no reason to go back to any of those planets. If we take them at their word, we can rule out any logical reason. Now Kanan had to be motivated by something...profound enough to not only risk his life...but also the life of his host."

Teal'c nodded his agreement and turned back to the computer to carry on searching.

Jack was back to being caught like a fly in Ba'al's web as the Goa'uld aimed a bottle at him. A drop of liquid fell from the neck of the bottle and was immediately caught in the gravity well and flew directly to land on Jack's chest. It burned through his clothing and Jack gasped in agony.

Ba'al calmly looked at his victim. "Tolback acid will take some time to burn through all the way. Though it cauterizes the flesh as it burns, a very small amount of it often finds its way into the blood and begins to spread. Why have you returned here, Tok'ra?"

"I'm human."

Ba'al gave a twisted smile. "Betrayed by your symbiote."

"It used me." Jack grimaced in pain.

"To do what?"

"I don't know and I don't care!" Jack ground out.

"What was its name?" Ba'al droned on and on.

"I just told ya I don't know..."

"What Tok'ra secrets would a single name reveal?"

"I don't know."

Ba'al kept on at him. "Why protect the one who betrayed you? Who'd abandoned you to ...this?"

"If I knew the name, I'd give you the damn name! I don't care about protecting the Tok'ra!" Jack's anger gave strength to his voice.

Ba'al aimed the bottle at him again and Jack couldn't help but allow the fear to show, shaking his head in desperation.

Ba'al began to detail the damage the Tok'ra have done to the Goa'uld over time and was determined to obtain the answers he wanted and he didn't care what it cost Jack. Just as Ba'al is about to release more of the acid, Jack cried out. "Kanan!" and then he whispered, "that's a name....Kanan."

Ba'al smiled his satisfaction and picked up another bottle.

Jack was horrified. "I just told ya."

Ba'al smiled again. " did," and he aimed the bottle directly at Jack who gasped in anticipation of the pain as the fluid reached him and spread out all over his chest. However, he was surprised to discover that this one was benign.

"This neutralizes the acid and numbs the pain. So you see, truth is rewarded."

"I don't know anything else," Jack told him.

"There maybe much more in your memory of this Kanan than even you know," Ba'al replied.

Jack was filled with dread as he realised that he could be there for a very, very long time.

"It'll come to you. In time," Ba'al informed him conversationally as he hit a device on his table and suddenly the framework trapping Jack split into two pieces, dropping away behind him and causing Jack to fall into the abyss beyond.

Jack was lying on the floor of his cell after being returned following his last torture session. He lay unmoving, distressed, staring straight up. The dark haired woman appeared again, kneeling above him as before.

"Is it you?" she asked.


"You shouldn't have come back."

"I don't...remember."

"If I leave with you, he will know."

"You..." Jack whispered as if at last he knew who she was.

Jack suddenly became aware of a pair of feet beside his head, Daniel was back. He frowned at Jack's expression.

"Jack? Who are you talking to?" he asked puzzled.

"The woman..."

Daniel followed Jack's line of sight, just as the image of the woman disappeared. "There's nobody there."

"Look who's talking," Jack replied managing to still sound sarcastic. Jack remained lying on the floor looking rather lost, while Daniel walked around Jack before leaning against the wall carefully watching him.

"Does it still hurt?" Daniel asked referring to the acid burns Jack suffered.

Jack fingered the holes in his shirt. "No."

"I told'ja I'd come back," Daniel said with a rise of his eyebrows.

Jack, however, was in no mood for simple conversation and glared at Daniel. Still lying flat on the floor he said. "If the Daniel Jackson that I knew was really here..."

"I am," the younger man interrupted firmly.

"Then do something," Jack demanded.

Daniel closed his eyes and turned away.

Suddenly Jack rolled and leapt to his feet, anger giving him strength.

"You listen to me..." Jack said confronting Daniel. "I don't want to go through that again. If you were really my friend and had the power to stop it, you'd stop it." Even as he said the words he wondered if that damned machine was affecting him. He could still remember an off-kilter Daniel following his encounter with the sarcophagus some years back.

Daniel sighed. "The hardest part of being who or what I am is having the power to change the things I wanna change...and knowing that I can't." Jack couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Even when I'm certain...even when it's absolutely clear to me...even when it affects the people I care about," Jack turned away, hurt. "'Cause for all I can do, I'm no more qualified to play god than the Goa'uld are."

Jack moved over to the light panel and banged his head on it aggravated, while Daniel leaned against the wall nearby watching him sadly.

"Ba'al will keep this up," Daniel warned.

"Yessss, he will," Jack replied still focusing on the light panel, maybe to avoid looking at Daniel.

"So we don't have an unlimited amount of time."

"Gotta be some place do ya?" Jack snapped.

"No." How the hell can I get through to him? "Look, there must be a reason Kanan came back here. Was it for the woman, the one you were just talking to?" Jack kept up his scrutiny of the light, but he was thinking now. "She must have something to do with all of this," Daniel prompted.

For a moment it looked as if Jack had something to say, then, "Ahh, screw it. It doesn't matter. Carter and Teal'c will think of somethin'."

"Even if they could find out where you are--"

"They'll find a way!"

Daniel shook his head. "There isn't always a way out, Jack."

"Hey, if that was true, I would've been dead a long time ago."

"How many more times do you think you can go into that sarcophagus before it starts changing you?"

Jack shrugged.

"How many times has it been already?"

Jack couldn't answer, he frowned his reply.

"It can regenerate your body, make you strong enough to go through that all over again, but all the time, it's destroying who you are...and once that won't be able to ascend no matter how much you want to."

"Hey!...I appreciate what you're trying to do," he retorted finally facing Daniel.

"I wouldn't be here if I didn't believe you could do it."

"This is me we're talking about."

Daniel nodded. "Yes, it is," and he closed his eyes for a second. "Now please...just try to open your mind."

"Oooh!" Jack was dismayed. "Stop it, will ya." He sat down on the bench.

Daniel had had enough. If getting angry would get through to Jack .... "Come on, Jack, do you think the Asgard named a ship after you because they thought it was a cool name? Now's not the time for you to play dumb. You're a lot smarter than that." Jack glanced over at Daniel at that, looking a little guilty. "They saw our potential in you. 'Cause of who you are and what you've done. Humanity's potential. That's the same thing Oma saw in me."


"Yeah, when has that ever stopped you from doing anything?" Daniel shot back quickly.

"Okay...put yourself in my shoes...and me in yours."

"You'd be here for me," Daniel answered quietly.

Jack looked smug and getting to his feet pointed a finger at Daniel. "Damn straight! I'd have busted you out, blown this rat hole to hell and made sure that sonofabitch suffered!"

"The Others would've stopped you."

"They'd have a hell of a fight on their hands."

"You wouldn't do that," Daniel said, shaking his head.

"Ba'al would be dead--" Jack replied full of himself.


"And don't think I'd stop there!!"

"You're a better man than that," Daniel calmly stated.

"That's where you're wrong!!" Jack yelled back at him, but he was unable to meet Daniel's eyes looking everywhere but at the man facing him. He may have said Daniel was wrong but deep inside he knew the man was right.

Daniel finally turned away with a nod.

"I know you can't understand what it's like to be ascended Jack, and it isn't something I can put into words. But whatever else, I can say that I chose this. Even when Jacob was trying to heal me, I chose this," Daniel's voice got louder as his passion rose. "But you, in the place you're in right now, you don't have any other choices!" by now he was shouting. "This is not just your life we're talking about, Jack! This is your soul!"

Jack shook his head. I wish I could be with you, Danny but I...I can't.

"What I'm offering is your only way out!" Oh god, Jack please listen to me.

Jack shook his head once more. "You're wrong about that, too," he whispered, looking down, then swallowing he looked up at Daniel. "I have another choice."

Daniel frowned, not understanding. "What are you talking about?"

Jack didn't say anything more, just stared at him and Daniel's eyes widen as he suddenly understood the look in Jack's eyes. Daniel shook his head in shock and gasped, "No."

Jack pointed to the entrance to the cell. "Any minute they're going to come...and Ba'al is going to kill me again. You can make it the last time."

"Don't ask me to do that." Daniel was desolate. I won't, there has to be some other way.

"You can put an end to it," Jack said in quiet desperation.

"I won't do it."

There was a noise from above, someone was approaching and Jack was frantic.

"I'd do it for you, and you know it!" he said anger lacing his words. He lay down on the floor in preparation for the change in gravity. "I don't want to see this cell again, Daniel."

When the guards appeared Daniel was no longer there.

Sam paced up and down in her lab watched by Teal'c who sat quietly at the computer.

"I don't know about you Teal'c but I'm beginning to get the feeling that there's absolutely nothing here."

"I concur."

"What else can we do? Toren has given us all the information the Tok'ra have available. We have no other avenues to follow."

Teal'c stood up and moved towards Sam, his proximity making her finally stop pacing. "We should report our lack of progress to General Hammond."

"What good would that do, he wants a progress report."

"Lack of progress is also a progress report, MajorCarter."

She nodded reluctantly, but as she reached the door she stopped and turned back. "I feel such a failure Teal'c. First we lose Daniel and now it seems we've lost the Colonel too. Not the way I expected SG1 to end."

"You should not give up hope Samantha," she glanced at him surprised at the use of her given name, "O'Neill would not appreciate such behaviour."

"You're right, Teal'c. He'd never give up would he? Let's go and give the general a progress report and then see if we can't think of another angle."

Once again Jack could see the strange woman, but this time she was face to face with him, and once again Jack was held fast on the gravity framework.

"Is it you?" she enquired softly.

"You shouldn't be here," Jack replied.

"You look so different. How can you be Kanan?"

"I'm not."

"If I leave with you, he will know." She was scared.

"He used both of us," Jack told her, speaking of Kanan.

Her face slipped away like mist on a spring morn, and Jack was confronted with Ba'al, who replied, "Yes, Kanan used us both."

Slowly Jack realised that the appearances of the woman were engineered by Ba'al, a mind game, just another part of his torture. At least I've not gone mad, not quite.

"How long were you host to this Kanan before he convinced you to come here?"

"I don't remember."

"What information did Kanan share about his previous mission?"

The questions continued but to each all Jack could say was, "I don't know"; each answer more weary than the last.

Finally Ba'al agreed. "I believe you, you're a victim of this Tok'ra just as I am." But he also believed that the answers he sought were buried deep in Jack's mind and eventually under torture he would remember.

"Some of the Tok'ra memories will be left behind." Ba'al smiled, "an unfortunate inheritance for you," he said as he again opened the implement chest in the table and he retrieved the acid and the knives.

"I will find the answers even if I have to... dig ...them out."

"General Hammond?"

"May I help you, Councillor Toren?"

"It is clear I can be of no further assistance here. My presence is urgently required elsewhere. I insist that I now be allowed to leave."

Hammond looked long and hard at the Tok'ra before replying. "Very well Councillor, it is true the mission logs have not been helpful, but I trust if you learn anything else of the whereabouts the Colonel O'Neill or Kanan you will inform me immediately."

"Of course," the Tok'ra replied automatically.

Once again Jack awoke in the sarcophagus and was pulled out yet again and returned to his cell. It was routine now and when the gravity was engaged, Jack just pulled himself upright and moved across his cell to slide down onto the floor in one corner. He drew up his knees and wrapped his arms around them, despair evident in his very posture.

His eyes were empty. Daniel was not there.

"Daniel, you did not take my advice?"

"No Oma, I'm afraid I couldn't. You say I should learn to watch, see how they learn; it is all part of my lessons. But it is very hard to just watch people I care about, people being hurt."

"I know but that is the price we pay."

"Price we pay for what? I try to understand what you teach, but to me lessons have to have some purpose, some result. I see no purpose in any of this. What is the point of having the power to do good, to help if we never use it?"

"The point is having the power and not being tempted to use it."

"You are saying that it can be corrupted, the way the Goa'uld corrupted their power to usurp the lives of others through hosts and enslavement."

"Worse, much worse. Our power is greater therefore so is our propensity for error, for evil."

"So the propensity for good is totally negated, ignored? I'm sorry Oma but I don't understand your reasoning. It is true that every man, every being has the capacity for good or evil, but if the fear of evil makes the exercise of good impossible, then evil always wins."

"Daniel, you mustn't..."

"I'm sorry Oma, I came to ask for permission, but with or without it I am going to help Jack. Ba'al is destroying him and he does not deserve such a fate. I offered to help him ascend..."

"Daniel you had no right..."

"Perhaps not, but neither have I the right to help him die, which is what he begged me to do. I told him I couldn't. I told him I couldn't help him, that I had no right to play god, but in a way that's exactly what we do. Refusal to act is an act in itself. By not helping Jack am I not inadvertently helping Ba'al?"

"You must not interfere, Daniel. I can't protect you against the Others if you do this."

"I must do as I see fit, as must you...and, and the Others."

"Daniel.." Oma called, but he was already gone.

Once again Jack was being tortured by Ba'al who was obviously frustrated by the lack of progress in obtaining any useful answers, but the Goa'uld persevered.

"What was his mission?"

"No mission." Jack's voice was so soft Ba'al took a step forward to hear him.

"Was it to steal the slave from me?"

"I don't know." Jack's voice was weary but not just from tiredness, it was a weariness of the soul.

"There's something else you're hiding from me, I sense it, I feel it."

"When are you going to end this?" Jack asked despondently.

"When you tell me what I wish to know, I will end this!" Ba'al said angrily.

But Jack's question hadn't been directed at Ba'al as he whispered Daniel's name, silently begging for Daniel to end his torment.

Ba'al only heard the mutterings of a deluded mind. "He is losing his mind, perhaps another trip through the sarcophagus is necessary," he murmured to himself. Aloud he threatened Jack with more torture, gleefully saying, "It will be far worse next time."

Jack's only answer was a whispered plea, "Daniel."

"The general is going to want another progress report soon and we have absolutely nothing to report," Sam said frustrated.

"It is unfortunate that none of our allies could provide any information," Teal'c commented.

"To be honest I didn't really expect anything, we had no real information to give. Damn it's like looking for a needle in a haystack!"

"Why would one wish to attempt such a futile exercise?" he asked.

Sam laughed. "Oh Teal'c what would I do without you?"

"I would imagine that just now you would feel very lonely," he replied his voice unusually soft.

Sam looked up allowing him to see the sadness in her eyes.

Jack was slumped against the wall of his cell exhausted, his posture redolent of his distress and despair.

Sensing something he glanced up to find Daniel had returned.

"Daniel?" he asked in a soft voice.

"I'm here."

Jack looked away. "You were gone," he said in a voice Daniel had never heard before from Jack O'Neill. Daniel might not have a heart but it felt as if it contracted just the same.

Daniel dropped to one knee alongside Jack. "I know, I'm sorry but there was something I had to do. I'm back now and I promise I'll stay with you until this is over."

"It'll never be over," Jack said desolately his eyes staring straight ahead unable to meet Daniel's.

"Yes, it will."

" have to end this. I can't go back in there." Jack's eyes dropped to stare at the floor and his voice became even softer. "If I go back in there I swear to god I'll give him what he wants to know."

"You won't have to."

"You don't understand, I don't want to but I have nothing left and I finally understand what he wants. If he asks me...."

"He won't get the chance," Daniel stated.

Something in his voice broke through Jack's self-imposed barrier and he glanced up. "Daniel?"

"I have come to a decision Jack. I ...I can't allow this to continue any longer. I'm going to help you."

Jack's eyes widened and he clambered to his feet, exhaustion seemingly gone.

"Daniel." Jack only said the one word but it spoke volumes and Daniel understood every word.

"I couldn't stand by and watch while he destroyed you and that bright soul was lost," he said softly.

Jack had to fight back the tears and he concentrated on his friend's predicament instead. "I thought you said you couldn't help, that they wouldn't let you."

Daniel grimaced. "It doesn't matter what they want any longer, I can't exist that way. I tried to convince myself that I could, that it was important but I can't be a spectator to the horror that surrounds me any longer."

Jack smiled, that was more like the Daniel he knew but he was afraid for his friend. "What will happen, what can they do?"

"I don't know but it doesn't matter. I'm going to do what I have to. Come with me Jack," he said, stretching out his hand. Jack made to take it before he remembered and smiled sheepishly instead. "I forgot too," Daniel said with a grin.

Daniel turned away and stretched out his hand again, this time aiming at the small arrow that indicated the condition of the gravity in the cell. The arrow moved and the cell righted itself and Daniel simply walked into the corridor outside, followed by Jack. There were no guards visible and Daniel began to walk.

"Where are we going?" Jack asked.

"To the landing bay. There is a small teltac there."

"I can't pilot a teltac, at least not properly and I have no idea where I am anyway."

"Leave everything to me."


They turned a corner to find three guards approaching and as soon as they the prisoner one of them shouted. "Stop! Where do you ..."

Daniel flicked a wrist and the guards dropped like stones.

Jack looked at his friend, impressed despite himself. "Did you, are they?"

"No, I have no desire to kill."

Jack nodded suddenly realising he had no desire to see Daniel kill either. When he had been 'alive' he had been forced to kill on occasion and it had always hit him very hard. It did not matter that it had been necessary in order to save another's life being the only reason Daniel would ever kill, the act still seemed to take a little piece of Daniel with it.

However, Jack knew that if Daniel had to kill to protect them, him - then he wouldn't hesitate.

Twice more they met guards and Daniel dealt with them swiftly and silently, except that on the third occasion, Jack was seen by a servant who ran before Daniel could turn to act.

Jack made as if to follow the servant but Daniel told him not to bother, to keep moving. With a final glance in the direction the servant had gone, Jack followed Daniel in the other direction.

Suddenly alarms blared and lights flashed on and off. "They are aware of your escape now," Daniel said calmly.

They approached two large doors, the entrance to the landing bay. Daniel made a motion with his hand and the doors parted. Moving his hands over each other and then opening them, a flash of light permeated the whole bay. It had a similar effect to a Goa'uld shock grenade and everyone else present in the huge area slumped to the ground.

"Cool!" Jack remarked, grinning.

Daniel ignored him and walked swiftly toward the small Goa'uld cargo vessel. Jack hurried after him, the blood beginning to pound in his ears as his heart beat faster. It must be reaction, he decided, to all he'd suffered.

He found Daniel waiting for him on the bridge of the teltac. "Take the pilot's seat Jack."

"But I told you, I can't..."

"I know. It's all right. Leave it to me."

Jack frowned but did as he was asked. He knew how the ship worked, in theory, having watched Jacob Carter, Teal'c, Carter and of course Daniel fly one from time to time. He'd even handled the controls himself on more than one occasion but only ever for a short period of time. The idea of flying himself home, however far the journey might be, was nerve wracking. He didn't even know where he was, let alone the direction to travel to reach home, or a safe Gate.

He turned to see what Daniel was doing. Standing in the exact same position, Daniel's eyes were now closed and his brow was furrowed in concentration. The pose was so familiar to Jack that for a moment he forgot this was not simply Daniel. With a pang Jack wondered if it was merely an affectation of the human form Daniel projected, or if in his ascended state he needed to concentrate in such a manner.

Even as this thought passed through Jack's head, Daniel's eyes snapped open and the teltac lifted from the deck. The bay doors ahead began to open slowly as the ship moved toward them. There was a screeching noise as the machinery was stiff or needed oil. Jack grinned to himself at the idea of a maintenance man oiling the mechanism from outside. Then he realised that the doors were trying to close and Daniel was fighting to keep them open. Suddenly in a flash of light Daniel disappeared from the teltac.

"Daniel!" Jack yelled, only to snap his jaws shut when he saw Daniel reappear on the deck outside the ship not far from the large bay doors. Daniel reached out his hands, open palms upward and Jack watched in awe as two balls of bright light formed and swirled just above his hands. With a flick of his wrist Daniel threw the balls of white fire at the doors and they exploded outward in a shower of sparks and twisted metal. Even before Jack had registered exactly what happened, Daniel was back beside him on the bridge of the teltac as it moved out into space.

"God, Daniel. That was impressive."

"It was also exhausting. I need to recharge so to speak."

"You're going?" Jack was shocked. I can't fly this thing alone.

"No, but I can't keep this form any longer. This ship is already on course. Just rest and I'll return shortly."

"But you're not ...leaving?" Jack felt an irrational fear, he knew even as he spoke but he couldn't stop himself.

"I'll be here," he said softly. Daniel understood what was happening; it was the beginning of withdrawal. Jack had lost count of how many times he had been in the sarcophagus but Daniel knew it was more than enough to create withdrawal symptoms. It wouldn't be as serious as his own experience as most of the time Jack had been dead when he'd been placed in the dreaded machine.

A little while later Jack stirred surprised to find that he had fallen asleep. He didn't know how long for but his experience suggested it was only fleetingly.

"Daniel," he called out, panicked for a moment

"I'm here," a voice replied and Jack turned in time to see Daniel's shape coalesce.

"Glad to see you back," Jack said relieved.

"We both needed the rest. Everything is in hand. You should be ..." the rest of the sentence died as Daniel gasped out as if in pain. His form stretched and thinned.

"Daniel!" Jack yelled. "Danny, what is it?"

"Nooo, not...yet ...please..." he begged, his voice high pitched and fading even as his form stretched taut like an elastic band.

Suddenly Jack understood, it was the Others that Daniel had talked about. They were taking him away. Oh, god Daniel what have you done? What will happen to you? You shouldn't have...why did I let you? Oh Daniel.

Blindly Jack reached out as if he could somehow hold onto what was left of Daniel but even as he made the futile gesture Daniel's form snapped apart into a myriad of winking flashes before vanishing as they faded in nothingness.

"Danny," he whispered, tears slowly falling. I've lost him again and I still never told him. Oh Danny.

Jack slid down the wall at his back, feeling the loss again. For one moment he wished he were back in Ba'al's torture room, at least there he knew exactly where the pain came from, now it was all encompassing and he suddenly realised he would never escape this hurt either.

It was about an hour later that Jack recalled the dire situation he was in. He was stuck in a teltac he couldn't fly, didn't know where he was or where he was going. He had an insane urge to laugh, or was that cry. Crying was so much easier than laughing.

God I can't do this. Snap out of it you bastard. Daniel 'died' again to get you out of that hellhole, don't let it all be for nothing. Get up. Try something. Anything.

He staggered to his feet, not understanding where this exhaustion was coming from. He moved slowly over to the pilot area and studied the consoles. He knew what certain ones were for; navigation, engines, speed, life support, temperature control and last but not least self-destruct. Come on think, how can you determine where you are and where the ship is headed? Wait, communications, which is communications? If I can find a way to contact someone, the Tok'ra or the Asgard but I don't know where they are in relation to where I am. Oh crap! This can't all be for nothing, it can't... it can't.

A bright light filled the cabin and suddenly Jack felt as if he were falling. He smiled. "YES!" he yelled, punching the air.

As the light faded and Jack could see again, a small form approached.

"Thor," Jack called in greeting. "How d'ya know I was here?"

"Daniel Jackson informed me of your current predicament and asked for our assistance," the Asgard replied.

"Daniel, you've seen Daniel?" he asked excitedly. "When, just now? Please tell me it was just now."

"I'm afraid that is incorrect. It is some ten hours since we received the communication from him. He asked that we come to your aid as soon as we were able. He informed us that he would shortly have to leave you and you were in need of help to return home."

Jack closed his eyes. He knew dammit, course Daniel knew. Daniel had known the entire time that they would punish him and he damn well did it anyway. He even managed to get a message to the Asgard. Would the Others destroy him, just for...just for what? Jack didn't even really know what rule or law Daniel had disobeyed.

He opened his eyes and gazed at the ceiling of the ship for a moment before turning to the Asgard to ask, "Thor, d'ya know anything about the Others?"

"Only that they are of the Ascended and they are powerful."

"Do you have any contact with them?"

"No, that would not be possible. Why do you ask?"

"Because Daniel risked their wrath to free me from Ba'al; broke their rules, or something."

"That could be unfortunate."

"They ...took him away. Will they punish him? Destroy him?"

"I have no knowledge of their actions O'Neill beyond the fact that they no longer interact with those outside the Ascended."

Jack nodded, not really expecting anything more useful but he had hoped. You'd think by now I'd have learned the Asgard may be more technologically advanced than us but they're still only...I almost said human!

"O'Neill, we approach your system."

"I know how you feel, I feel the same way but I have no alternative. It been too long without any information whatsoever; I have to list Colonel O'Neill as missing in action", the general informed the two remaining members of SG1. They had limped along for a while now with just the three of them. The general had tried to incorporate a fourth member following the 'loss' of Dr Jackson but no one had proved suitable, not for the other members of the team, especially the team leader. The general had understood the problem only too well, the team had been too close to each other and he should, by rights, have split them up years ago.

However, you don't get to be a general without exercising initiative and fighting for what you know to be right and against the odds SG1 had been the perfect team because they were so close. Their very reliance on each other had made them seemingly invincible, until that fatal day when Dr. Daniel Jackson had put his care for humanity to the ultimate test and sacrificed himself to save both his team and a whole world of strangers.

In the end Hammond decided to leave the remaining three people to serve together as SG1. Now the man who formed that team, who provided the stability that kept them together against what sometimes seemed insurmountable odds had finally lost his gamble. It was a hard fact to accept but accept he must and so must his team, his surrogate family.

Colonel Jack O'Neill would not be coming back.

Suddenly the alarms blared and even as they ran from the briefing room to the control room they listened out for an announcement of incoming traveller but no such message was broadcast. They ran into the control room to find the staff all on their feet, their eyes glued to the large window overlooking at the Gateroom.

"Report," Hammond bellowed.

Everyone spun round and it was Sergeant Davis who replied. "The Asgard sir, they..." he stopped, pulled himself together. "There was a bright light and they deposited the colonel in the Gate room, sir."

"The colonel? O'Neill!"

Sam and Teal'c were already racing down the steps clattering against the metal structure as they went. Hammond followed and when he entered it was to find the errant colonel sandwiched between the Jaffa and the Major and surrounded by SFs. The colonel looked exhausted, physically and emotionally and the shirt he was wearing showed clear signs of some physical trauma. However, if he had been with the Asgard they may have provided a variety of aid.

"Colonel, it is good to have you back."

Everyone moved out of the way so Colonel O'Neill could approach the general. "Thank you sir, it's good to be back." He seemed to speak automatically and Hammond noted that his eyes looked haunted.

"Perhaps we should speak, colonel."

"Yes, sir and if you don't object I think Major Carter and Teal'c should be present."

"Of course."

"Sir," a voice interrupted, "shouldn't the colonel report for his physical?"

"Please, sir, I think you should hear this first and perhaps the doctor should as well. It could have some relevance on her examination."

"Very well, join us please, Doctor."

Janet Fraiser frowned a little at the colonel but nodded and followed them upstairs to the briefing room.

Some time later Jack lay on a bed in the infirmary. Doc Fraiser had insisted that he stay for observation following his detailed debrief. Jack was pretty sure the good Doc didn't believe him when he said he'd seen Daniel and that Daniel had helped him to escape. She had commented during the briefing that he would probably suffer any number of symptoms of withdrawal following his repeated sessions in the sarcophagus, including hallucinations and that perhaps he'd already experienced hallucinations in the form of 'Daniel'. He had repudiated this insisting that he couldn't have escaped without help and that he didn't have sufficient experience to pilot a teltac.

"And I certainly had no way to contact the Asgard, that was Daniel's doing before the Others ...whisked him away."

"Perhaps it was Thor who assisted with your escape," Teal'c postulated.

"No! It was Daniel, why won't you believe me?"

"Because Dr. Jackson ...left us sometime ago, at your insistence if you remember Colonel, to continue on a different plane of existence," Hammond replied.

"I know, don't you think I know? God, when I first saw him I didn't believe it either!"

That was not the most sensible comment to make in such circumstances and the general wound up the meeting by ordering him to report to the infirmary immediately. That in itself was not a surprise, nor particularly unwelcome as he did feel totally exhausted and had the mother of all headaches but he felt they had the wrong impression.

The problem was he had no proof. Thor had deposited him in the Gateroom and promptly left. He couldn't even corroborate that Daniel had contacted the Asgard.

However, as he lay quiescent on the bed he realised he didn't really care what they thought of him, whether they believed he had been hallucinating as part of sarcophagus withdrawal or not. He knew it was true. He could almost wish if was a concoction of his mind because then he wouldn't know the danger that Daniel had placed himself in to help free him from Ba'al.

He allowed the tears to fall as he couldn't bear the thought of what may have happened to Daniel; to the man he could admit in the private depths of his being that he loved. He had spent the last few months since Daniel's ascension regretting that he'd been too cowardly to admit even at the last that he had fallen in love with him. When Daniel had appeared to him in his cell and asked that Jack accept ascension, Daniel had no idea how close Jack came to accepting it just for the chance of possibly being with Daniel, but in the end he knew it wasn't for him. He didn't deserve such a release.

When, in despair, he asked Daniel to let him die one final time, he also decided that he wouldn't tell Daniel how he felt, believing it would only hurt the compassionate man. Jack knew that Daniel cared for him, loved him even as the best friend he'd ever had and his last act wouldn't be to leave him with such a burden. Though, when Daniel finally decided to help him after all, Jack made his mind up that when they finally reached safety he would tell Daniel the truth. He knew that Daniel would leave him when he was safe and that he might never see him again and he determined not to let him leave a second time without telling him the truth. What Daniel's reaction would be Jack wasn't certain but he did know that it wouldn't include disgust or intolerance; in all things Daniel was always understanding and accepting and this wouldn't be any different. Jack didn't expect the feeling to be returned, all he wanted was for Daniel to know that he had been, was, still loved.

Watching from the doorway to the infirmary, Janet Fraiser saw the normally ebullient Jack O'Neill lying quietly with tears slowly running down his cheeks. He had been too quiet since she brought him down here from the briefing, he hadn't even complained once and that alone tipped her off that something was very wrong. She knew he was already on the edge of sarcophagus withdrawal; the tears only helped confirm it.

She had never forgotten the terrible experience Daniel had suffered because of that infernal contraption; how he'd cried, ranted and raved, screamed hysterically at her and accused his best friend of trying to kill him as he endured the pain of withdrawal. Now that best friend was going to suffer the same dreadful symptoms, knowing exactly what he was going to have to face. The colonel had stuck with Daniel all through his ordeal, holding his hand when he cried, holding him down when he raved.

She dreaded the coming days and possibly weeks and could only tell herself to be grateful that at least he was alive and here, not still undergoing endless torture in the hands of a ruthless monster.

*Two Weeks Later*

Alarms blared throughout the complex and General Hammond sighed wondering what was wrong this time. The last two weeks had been difficult enough without anything else going wrong.

He hurried to the control room just as Sergeant Davis reported, "Incoming message from the Alpha Site, sir."

"Very well," he replied. "Colonel Travis?"

"General, I have someone here who would like to return through the Gate."

"Return? There is no one due back for another week, Colonel, unless there is a medical emergency."

"Well, I suppose this could be classified as a medical emergency. "

"Colonel, are you being deliberately obtuse?" Hammond snapped.

"Sorry, sir, it's just... Well I think you'd better see for yourself." The colonel moved away from the camera revealing another figure standing behind.

Hammond's jaw dropped when he recognised Daniel Jackson. "Dr. Jackson is that you?"

"Yes sir, may I come through? I'll explain when I see you if that's all right?"

"You need to use the gate?" he asked somewhat bemused.

"Oh yes."

Hammond frowned but he turned to Davis saying, "Open the iris." He turned back to Daniel and said, "Come on home, son."

Hammond headed for the Gate room and when he entered he found Daniel Jackson standing on the ramp, looking into the raised weapons of several SFs.

"Stand down," the general ordered and moved past them to greet Daniel. "This is rather a surprise, son."

"Well, for me too," Daniel said reaching out to shake hands.

"Pardon?" Hammond said, then he frowned realising he was touching Daniel. "You feel normal, human," he added releasing Daniel's hand.

"Yes I know." A slight grimace crossed his face.

The general looked confused, then said, "Let's talk privately, come to my office." He turned and began to walk towards the entrance.

"General, just one question. Is Jack all right?"

Hammond stopped and turned back. He looked at Daniel for a moment before asking "It was you then?"

"I don't understand."

Hammond frowned and turned again to head to his office.

Daniel looked after him puzzled. Like so many things in the last few days he didn't know what was happening. He hurried after the general.

"Take a seat, Dr. Jackson."

"Please sir, you didn't answer my question, is Jack okay?" he asked as he sat down.

"Tell me why you ask, do you have reason to believe he isn't?"

"I'm not sure ...I just believe he was hurt, seem to remember... but not." He knew what he was saying made little sense, yet he knew it was true. "I'm sorry, general. Let me start at the beginning."

"Very well, son."

"The beginning, that's a joke. It's only been a few days, five I think."

"Five, five days? Since what?"

"Since I was aware, since I can remember. Okay, look. I woke up, for want of a better way of putting it, to find myself in the middle of a meadow. I could see trees to the front of me and a range of hills behind me but I had no idea where I was. For a little while I didn't know who I was.

"I began to walk because I didn't know what else to do, yet I knew I had to be somewhere. I walked towards the trees because the hills looked more difficult. As I walked things began to clear in my mind. I remembered walking a lot but not on my own. Gradually over the next day or so everything came back, starting at the end you could say. I remembered my life with SG1 first and then older memories emerged. By the time I stumbled into the Alpha Site, I knew everything. Everything up to the time I ...died, I suppose you could say."

"You remember the ascension?" the general asked gently.

"I remember the fact of it. I remember speaking to Oma, I remember asking Jack to let me go. I know I spent some time with Oma and...some others but I'm not sure about that, not sure how long."

"It's been several months since you...left us."

"Months, really?"

"Is there anything else you can remember? Like, why you're apparently human again?"

"Not really. I have some vague feelings; as if there is something important I should be doing, something unfinished. I don't know."

"Was there a specific reason you asked about Jack O'Neill?"

"I don't know. I'm worried about him but I don't understand why. Is there something I should know?" Daniel felt a tightness in his chest at the idea that something may have happened to Jack.

"It's a long story and it's not over yet," the general said sadly.

At last Jack felt the pain recede. It hadn't lasted as long this time, each time now it was reducing more quickly and he knew that Doc Fraiser was giving him less medication each day. He just wished his mood were improving as much as his physical symptoms. It had been two weeks now and still they doubted that he had seen Daniel. He tried to cling to the memory of the short time they had spent together but the effects of the sarcophagus sometimes left him confused, so much so that he occasionally wondered if they were right and he had imagined the whole thing. Then he remembered something specific like begging Daniel to let him die and the pain of the request reflected in his friend's eyes; or the very last moment he saw Daniel as he was literally pulled away from him.

He still had nightmares; more than once he awoke to screams only to discover they came from him. Sometimes he dreamed of being trapped on the grill feeling the acid burning through his flesh, or the knives slicing into him. Or waking to find himself alive but in the sarcophagus and worst of all was the moment of terrible helplessness as he watched the man he cared for more than his own life, apparently being shredded to pieces. He tried to tell himself that it hadn't been as bad as it looked, that Daniel had just been taken away. After all he was only energy now, mere specks of light. He wanted to pray, to beg some higher being to protect Daniel but he had long since lost any such beliefs. With a smile he told himself the nearest thing to an angel he had ever seen was Daniel Jackson. Crap, the pain medications must really be hitting the spot.

Hearing voices, he turned over presenting his back to the door. He had no wish to see anyone. He was sick of seeing that look of pity in their eyes. Carter called it compassion, something Danny had in spades but somehow from anyone else it just seemed like pity. Teal'c would stand stoically at the foot of his bed watching him carefully; though in his usual way he said very little but Jack, with a newfound empathy, sensed he was worried. The general came to see him regularly, these days less of a superior and more a concerned friend. He was grateful that the general, a man he admired more than he ever admitted, considered him more than his second-in-command, yet at the same time, he resented the change in their relationship because it signalled to Jack his unsuitability to take up his post again.

He could hear the general talking to someone; it was Doc Fraiser. It was so not a good time for one of the general's pep talks. What the hell is Fraiser so wired about; don't usually hear her so damned excited. Oh, god the general's got someone else with him.

The voices continued and all he wanted was to be left alone. He knew it was only another manifestation of his withdrawal and Doc Fraiser would tear him off a strip for giving into it but each day he got physically better somehow only added to his depression.

The voices got closer and Jack knew they'd be coming through the door to his room in a minute. No, I only hear that voice in my dreams, don't start hearing him when you're awake, or then you really will be going crazy, O'Neill.

The door opened and Jack resolutely kept his back turned; if they believed he was sleeping they may leave him alone.

"Come on colonel, this isn't the time to be sulking," Doctor Fraiser spoke briskly. "You have a visitor, a special visitor."

Jack knew that tone; Doc Fraiser wasn't going to be ignored. It was easier just to go with the flow and hopefully it would be over quicker. He slowly turned back and glared at the good doctor; he wasn't above letting her know how he felt. Then he let his eyes slide over the general and the special visitor.

Jack just stared, Daniel, oh god Danny. To his dismay he found tears welling in his eyes. "Is it really you?" he asked, his voice cracking.

"Yeah, it's me." Daniel replied softly. Oh Jack what have they done to you? Daniel didn't remember so many lines on Jack's face and incredibly his hair seemed even more silvery. But what struck Daniel the most was the haunted look in his eyes and the air of defeat that he would never have associated with his friend. He turned to the general. "Could we have a few minutes?"

The general glanced at Fraiser who nodded, a grin breaking out. "I think it would do the colonel a world of good."

The general leaned over and gave Jack's shoulder a brief squeeze before leaving the two of them alone. Daniel pulled up a chair and sat next to the bed.

"Thank god you're okay, you are okay aren't you? What happened Daniel? You just ...they just."

"I know. The general let me read your report. From your description it must have been pretty horrible when they took me away. He also told me they put part of it down to the sarcophagus withdrawal; thought you were hallucinating?"

"Yeah, they thought I was crazy. I've been expecting a visit from Mackenzie. Whoa, why would Hammond let ya read my report? From my description?" Jack was getting somewhat agitated and Daniel reached over to place a calming hand on his wrist.

"Easy Jack, it's okay."

Jack flinched in shock at the touch and looked down to see Daniel's hand touching him. It felt so normal, yet his skin tingled as if burned. "Daniel, ya can touch me. Danny?"

"It's okay Jack. I'm human that's all."

"That's all! Oh god, what did I do?"

"What did you do? You didn't do anything, unless you consider it was your fault you were captured by a snake and tortured to death more times than you can remember."

"But ya had such power, everything you wanted at your fingertips and now..."

"Jack, I had to read your report because I don't remember any of that. I don't even remember helping you. The last memory I have prior to the last five days was of asking you to help me go with Oma..."

"But ..."

"...but I can tell you this. I don't regret a damned thing. If the price of my remaining as an ascended being was your life, your soul then it was too high. I'm glad I helped free you and I'm glad they sent me back to my family." Easy Daniel, careful.

"If ya can't remember, ya can't say you don't regret what you've lost."

"I don't need to remember. I made the decision when I did know so I obviously thought it was worth it, you were worth it. Perhaps when you're feeling better you can tell me a little more of what I said about it. One thing I do remember quite vividly is that Colonel O'Neill was a past master at being succinct in his reports, I know there is a lot you didn't put in there."

Jack had the grace to look a little sheepish. "Hafta keep some secrets. What was this five day period you mentioned?"

Daniel explained what had happened to him from the moment he awoke until he finally stumbled into the base camp on the Alpha Site.

"So at least they had the decency to put ya somewhere ya could find help. It must've been difficult at first though, without a memory."

"Yeah, but it's all back now I'm home," he said softly.

"Not all, Daniel."

"No, but enough. I think the general will let me pick up where I left off, so once you're better..."

Jack lowered his eyes and Daniel frowned. "Jack, you do want me to come back to SG1 with you? I mean I know things were a little ...tense before I left but we'd always had our ups and downs."

"Oh Danny, it's not you. You back on the team, that'd be wonderful. Tension between us, " he smiled, "that was just us, y'know. No, it's just me, I...I don't think I can go back."

"To SG1, why not?"

"He broke me out there Daniel, if you hadn't got me out when you did that next session I'd have told him what he wanted."

"Jack, from what you wrote, and remember I know you and your minimalistic reports, he put you through hell. He threatened you with repeated death and resurrection, anyone and I do mean anyone would've broken under that, probably even sooner than you would've. Cut yourself some slack Jack. Remember something else too, I've been where you are now, that infernal machine messes you up so you no longer know who you are and what you want. I know the Doc says you're over the worst of it but believe me, it takes a long time to get your confidence, your belief back."

Jack nodded but kept his thoughts to himself. How could he tell Daniel that just having him back was the best medicine he could ever have? He'd been depressed but coping over the last few months since Daniel had left. Even without the sarcophagus withdrawal symptoms, he knew he would have been in even greater despair if he believed that he'd been responsible for the final destruction of the best person he'd ever known.

He wondered now if he had the courage to keep the promise he made to himself to tell Daniel the truth. He'd believed at the time that he'd never see him again once Daniel guided him to safety, but that didn't matter against letting him know that he was loved. How'd he react if I told him now? Could he possibly return my feelings, could the love of a best friend become more? Crap, what the hell am I thinking?

Watching the parade of emotions cross Jack's face Daniel saw the confusion give way to some realisation that made Jack smile.

"What?" Daniel asked, mirroring the smile.

"What?" Jack frowned.

"You smiled; the first smile I've seen from you. I asked what you were smiling about. Unless it's not something you want to share."

Jack looked hard at Daniel, looking into those remarkable eyes. Daniel was so perfect at first contact because he had such an open face and eyes that allowed you to see the man inside. The windows to the soul; Jack had always scoffed at the cliché, until he met Daniel Jackson.

Daniel had the oddest feeling that this moment was important; he didn't understand why but he didn't question it. He sat meeting Jack's eyes hoping that whatever Jack was looking for he would find.

"I think perhaps it is time I shared this with you but I don't think this is the place to discuss this."

"Jack, whatever this is, it's important and..." he hesitated.


"I'm sorry I shouldn't push, you've been through so much and I've given you another shock this evening. If you need to wait then...."

"It's not that I need to wait, god I want to say it before I lose my courage. Just not on base." He glanced up at the camera in the corner of his room.

As if a light bulb flashed over his head, Daniel understood. With blood rushing through his veins and his heart thrumming in his chest with excitement, he rose and walked around the bed so that his back was to the camera blocking the view of Jack in his bed. Moving to the bedside table, he poured a glass of water leaning to pass it to Jack, whispering, "I think I understand, I won't ask, yet." Jack blinked, for moment not thinking he'd heard properly.

Then Daniel smiled and it took Jack's breath away. "You can tell me later."

Jack almost dropped the glass.

Just then the door opened and Doctor Fraiser came in. "Sorry to break this up, but its time for the colonel's medication."

"Must I Doc? I feel a lot better and it only makes me drowsy."

"Well Daniel, you must visit again, you've clearly had an influence on my patient. This is the first time he's tried to refuse medication. I think he's getting better."

"I gotta admit Doc, he's better than any of your concoctions. Hey, don't you owe me any apology?"

She gave a grin and a slight bow, not unlike a certain Jaffa. "This is one apology I can give with great pleasure. I couldn't be more happy about being wrong."

As if her gesture had reminded him, Jack asked, "Have you seen Sam or Teal'c yet?"

"No, the general's put out a call for Sam to come in and then I going to meet them both."

"Stay with me till you're called?"


Finally after a total of three weeks in the infirmary Jack was being discharged. Daniel had a lot to do with Jack's remarkable recovery over the past few days. He spent as much time in the infirmary visiting Jack as he could, Janet Fraiser permitting of course.

They talked for hours, sometimes about old missions, good and bad, sometimes about how difficult it had been without Daniel. Daniel told Jack some stories from some of the digs he had been on, again some good and some bad. There was some talk of childhood times, usually good ones from Jack, not so good from Daniel. They talked more in those few days than they had in the past couple of years, rebuilding the bridges of their friendship that had crumbled through the difficulties of too many hard missions. Without being able to put it into words, both recognised this only made their feelings stronger.

Jack reached out to brush his hand across the back of Daniel's as it lay on his bed covers. "I'm sorry Daniel," he said gently.

"Sorry? For what?"

"For everything. For not understanding, for not listening, for allowing...stuff to mess up our friendship." His eyes said more than his words.

"I could say exactly the same words to you Jack and they would be just as accurate," Daniel replied with a gentle smile.

Jack nodded. Anything else would have to wait until they were alone together in his house. If I can persuade Daniel to stay there with me it really would become a home.

The general instructed Daniel to stay on base, he was still officially dead and it would take time and a lot of string-pulling to get his life back in to some kind of order.

His apartment was long gone, though Jack had told him most of his stuff was still around. Some of it was still in use by his department; some had been put into storage on base and most of the personal stuff Jack had taken. Daniel was pleased that it was Jack who had looked after his things and laughed at Jack's obvious embarrassment.

The SGC had employed a couple of extra linguists to try and cope with the abundance of work in his absence but the general didn't hide the fact that he had been sorely missed. There was a backlog of translations, including some that no one had any idea of the language in which they were written. Apparently Teal'c was a godsend in the early days following his ascension, by assisting the new linguists with Goa'uld.

Daniel's reception by Teal'c and Sam had been overwhelming. Sam's emotional reception hadn't been unexpected, they'd been as close as brother and sister but Teal'c had been much more effusive in his welcome than Daniel could have imagined. Teal'c engulfed him in a bear hug only releasing him when Daniel reminded him between gasps that he needed to breath and he would appreciate his ribs intact, if you please.

Also surprising to Daniel was the reception he received from many of the others in the mountain complex. Old friends like Ferretti, Griff and Coburn were no surprise but others he only thought of as colleagues welcomed him home with grins and back slaps, even a few of the tough marines stopped him in the corridors or in the commissary with friendly comments or a shake of the hand. He was touched and when he told Jack as much, the older man just laughed.

"What?" Daniel asked testily.

"You never did appreciate how much you're valued."

"Valued? By the marines!"

"Danny, Danny."


"I'll explain it to you when we have" Jack blushed a little, still overwhelmed by what Daniel said that day almost a week ago. It was the longest week of his life but also the most exciting.

Daniel noticed the blush and felt a flutter in his own chest; he was just as nervous and impatient as Jack for the day they could finally leave the mountain. Jack had already invited Daniel to stay with him again and use his spare room until Daniel could arrange for a new apartment. Hammond had promised to get Daniel's paperwork cleared as soon as he could.

Daniel did wonder briefly how they could pass off his resurrection this time but didn't really care about the mechanics, only the result. His main concern was to get Jack better so they could get their lives back to normal. Well maybe not exactly normal, just back under control so Jack and I can see where we go from here.

After a little persuasion the general gave permission for Daniel to leave Cheyenne Mountain even though not all of his papers were in yet. He was going to Jack's house to get things organised for Jack's return home as Doc Fraiser didn't want him going home on his own. Jack admitted to Daniel that the spare room in which Daniel always slept when he stayed overnight with Jack was presently being used to store his stuff. Jack asked if Daniel would go and sort things out, move the boxes down into basement and basically make himself at home. The last was said with a smile that warmed Jack's eyes and Daniel knew that his friend meant much more than any words he could say from his hospital bed.

As Daniel had no driving licence yet and no car anyway, General Hammond arranged for an airman to drive him to Jack's house and he was to call for a lift back to the mountain when he'd finished.

"Jack," said Daniel popping his head around the door to Jack's room, "I'm leaving now and should be back in three or four hours."

Jack smiled. "How's it feel to be getting outta here and rejoining the big bad world?"

Daniel laughed. "Kinda exciting and kinda scary. I suppose you could say it's like being reborn."

"Ooh, going all philosophical Dr. Jackson?"

"Long word there, Jack, didn't know you were up to that yet."

"Kick a guy when he's down why don'tcha!"

"Well, now here's something to pick you up that you wouldn't normally enthuse over but it will be your first outing."


"You're going home tomorrow and Doc Fraiser said you can have dinner with me this evening," Daniel grinned as he walked to the door, "in the commissary."

Jack heard his laughter floating down the corridor as Daniel left and Jack yelled after him. "Laugh it up, Dannyboy, you gotta eat there too!"

It had been quite an experience spending those few hours at Jack's house. Even though he knew a few months had past it was almost as if he was in two time phases; the house was so familiar it was if he'd been there only the day before, yet at the same time it was so different.

It really hit home when he went up into what Jack used to call Daniel's room; it was only called the spare room in the early days. He expected it to be full of boxes, which it was but there were also new shelves built along two walls. Shelves that were full of his journals interspersed with photographs and some of his most precious pieces and artefacts. As he stood in the centre of the room looking around he could almost have been in his own living room and he understood it was Jack's way of keeping his memory alive. If Daniel needed any more proof of Jack's feelings for him he was standing amongst it. He was loath to move things, feeling as if he were spoiling something special.

In the end, he moved the boxes into the basement but left everything else as it was. The bed had been standing upright against one of the two remaining walls and Daniel moved it back into the centre of the room.

When he was almost ready he called the mountain to arrange for a car to pick him up and was told it would be there in half an hour. He checked the fridge and discovering new life forms growing inside, he threw everything out but was pleased to find the freezer well stocked. By the time he had checked that everything was fine the driver was knocking at the door and five minutes later they were headed back up to the mountain.

The airman, Evans, had known Daniel for some time and they engaged in small talk, mostly discussing the pros and cons of eating in the commissary and both agreed there more cons than pros.

As they moved swiftly through traffic back towards Cheyenne Mountain, Daniel suddenly asked the driver to pull over at a drugstore for some supplies he needed. Evans insisted in standing guard at the entrance and Daniel gave an exasperated sigh guessing who had briefed the Airman on his security.

By the time the car was climbing the mountain road they'd progressed to the subject of MRE's and were laughing over the standing joke that macaroni and cheese could taste so much like chicken.

The driver was not prepared for the other car slewed across the road as he turned an awkward bend and as he slammed on the breaks, the military vehicle went into a spin and for a terrifying moment Daniel thought the car was going to crash straight through the barrier at the edge of the road and career down the mountainside. God, not now, not when we finally...the thought was cut short as the car slid sideways into the barrier and came to a grinding halt. Daniel banged his head against the side window and though he didn't lose consciousness he was certainly disoriented for a few moments.

He was aware that Evans was slumped over the steering wheel but he could also hear the man moaning so at least he was still alive. Even as Daniel registered this fact both his door and the driver's door were opened. A hand immediately steadied Daniel and he tried to speak, to thank whoever had come to their aid, he could only manage a strangled croak. The hands carefully drew him from the car and he found himself being held gently yet firmly by two men. His glasses had fallen off during the accident and his vision was blurry. He also wondered if he was concussed. He glanced over towards the driver's door trying to see what was happening with Evans who was still moaning a little.

He was puzzled to note that the man on that side of the car leaned in to Evans but made no attempt to help the man out. Perhaps Evans was injured more seriously than Daniel had thought and it wasn't safe to move him. Then he heard a strangled cry and the moaning stopped.

"Evans?" Daniel wheezed. When no one answered he took a breath and tried again. "Please, how is he?"

"That is no longer any concern of yours Dr. Jackson," a hard voice replied.

Suddenly Daniel felt as if someone had punched him in the gut. They knew his name, who he was. This was no accident; the car had been there to block the road. It was him they'd come for him.

"What have you done? EVANS!" he suddenly yelled, struggling against the hands that held him, hands that were suddenly no longer gentle.

"It will do you no good to shout Dr. Jackson," the same voice told him as its owner drew a gun and levelled it at Daniel. "Your driver can't answer and there is no one else to hear you." Ice swept through Daniel's veins at the matter of fact voice. The man turned to his colleague saying, "Peters get the good doctor's glasses would you, he'll probably need those. Collins, the car."

Daniel thought the man was referring to his car but after Peters retrieved his glasses and returned them they took Daniel to their own car. The third man, Collins, shoved Evans out of the way into the passenger seat and climbed into the driver's seat of Daniel's courtesy car. Daniel was pushed into the back seat of the other car and Peters sat beside him, now firmly pointing a gun in Daniel's face.

"Sit still and behave," Peters said sharply.

"You're not going to use that on me. You've just gone to all this trouble to capture me."

"Maybe not but that doesn't mean I can't hurt you a bit," Peters said with obvious pleasure.

Daniel recognised a thug when he saw one. Jack had instilled in him a long time ago that if ever he was captured to do as he was told to protect himself and manufacture as much time as possible for a rescue. Of course, Jack recognised that was just one more order he always forgot to obey, referring to his inability to stop the snake baiting but that was deeply personal. This time he would do precisely as Jack had told him, play the game and wait. He just hoped he wouldn't wait in vain. He had no idea who these men were or what they wanted from him so how the hell could Jack, or more likely in Jack's present state, Hammond begin to track him down without some sort of clue or a starting point.

The leader of the group, whose name still hadn't been mentioned, got in the driver's seat of their car and pulled the vehicle back across the road, facing back towards Colorado Springs. Then with the engine still running he sat waiting, ignoring both Peters and Daniel.

What were they waiting for? Daniel heard the other car's engine start up and craned his head round to watch as Collins moved the vehicle slowly backward until it was angled in such a way that it was directly facing the barrier at the edge of the road. Collins gunned the engine and then opened the driver's door. Daniel couldn't tell exactly what the man was doing but he seemed to be fiddling with something under the dash and then he gunned the engine again and as the car began moving forward, Collins rolled out of the vehicle and it shot forward with enough force to slam through the barrier and over the cliff.

Daniel closed his eyes; if Evans weren't already dead he would be now.

Jack was restless. Daniel had said he would be back in three to four hours and that had been almost seven hours ago now. He wasn't surprised that it had taken a little longer than Daniel had expected. He could imagine Daniel's reaction when he saw his old room. He just hoped Daniel understood his reasons and didn't take exception to the fact that Jack had taken his most precious possessions. However, Jack was aware that it had been well over an hour since Daniel had sent for a ride and he should have been back half an hour since.

Jack had a sixth sense about trouble and right now it was hollering at him. He tried to shush it into submission by reminding himself they were on earth and that Daniel only had to travel from his place back to the base. Yet he couldn't shake the sensation that something was terribly wrong.

Doc Fraiser had come in half an hour before to bring him his uniform after he'd told her there was no way he was going for dinner in the commissary unless he was in uniform. She smiled and agreed it wouldn't do for the second-in-command of the SCG to be wandering the corridors in a hospital gown.

"Couldja please hurry it up, Doc, Daniel should be back soon and I think he'd like to see me out of this bed and dressed."

"Sure thing, colonel. Let him see what a good job he's done."

No joke there Doc, Danny's done a better job than you know.

The door opened and Jack sighed in relief, until he saw it wasn't Daniel but Teal'c.

"I had expected to see you and DanielJackson in the commissary by now O'Neill. I have been keeping a table free for your use which is no simple task at this time of the day."

"Yeah, but Daniel's late."

"I believe that DanielJackson requested his transport in plenty of time to keep his appointment with you."

"He did, he should've been here thirty minutes ago." O'Neill couldn't keep the worry from his voice.

"You are concerned," Teal'c noted with a lift of his eyebrow.

Jack shrugged.

"Perhaps it would be wise to contact DanielJackson on his cell phone," Teal'c suggested.

"Yeah, perhaps you're right."

"I will..." Teal'c began but Jack interrupted.

"No, I will." Jack walked slowly towards the door and Teal'c fell in alongside him, his concern evident by his proximity.

They went to the communications centre and a call was put through to Daniel's cell phone. It rang out for a few seconds before the signal was lost. They made a second attempt but this time a connection couldn't be made. Then they attempted to contact the driver on the car phone but that was also dead.

If Jack had been uneasy before, now he was really concerned. He and Teal'c went immediately to see the general.

"Colonel, should you be out of bed? I thought you weren't being discharged until tomorrow?"

"That's correct, sir. In fact the Doc was letting me out this evening to have dinner with Daniel in the commissary. We were due to meet there half an hour ago."

The general picked up on the anxiety level of both men. "Were due to meet?" he queried.

"Yes sir, Daniel's car hasn't yet arrived. We can't contact either him or the driver. Both phones appear dead."

The general reached for his phone even before Jack had finished speaking. He ordered teams out to search for the car and its occupants all along the route from the mountain to Jack's house.

Jack wanted to go himself but the general refused him permission to leave the SGC. He was angry and tried to argue but the general was adamant that he was not yet fit and he would be informed the instant they knew anything. Teal'c left at a run to join one of the search teams. Jack telephoned one of his neighbours to try and ascertain whether Daniel had been seen leaving in the car and was both relieved and worried when it was confirmed that an Air Force car and driver had been seen leaving with Dr. Jackson; the time fitted perfectly with when the car should have arrived to collect Daniel.

Doc Fraiser went to the general's office and suggested that perhaps Jack should return to his infirmary bed but Jack pleaded to be allowed to stay in the control room and wait for news. As he was due to be discharged the following morning anyway, the doctor told the general that as long as he remained calm he should be all right.

Jack obeyed because he needed to be where he would hear something as soon as the general did. He so wanted to be up and doing that to sit there and just wait was agony. The next hour was the longest he could ever remember and when word was finally received he thought he was going to throw up.

They had found the wreckage of an AF car, halfway down the mountainside. It had apparently skidded and crashed through the barrier on the mountain road and careened down the cliff.

The general was watching Jack as the news was relayed and saw the blood drain from his face. He almost called for the doctor but Jack pulled himself together quickly and asked if there had been any news of the occupants.

"Teal'c is there now Jack and is about to climb down," Hammond said gently.

"Please, I need to be there. Please, George." It was very rare for these two men to use first names and Hammond recognised Jack's request as personal from a friend to a friend.

"Okay Jack, we'll pick up Fraiser and be on our way."

Jack sagged with relief and nodded his thanks, not sure of his voice just then.

When they reached the site of the crash it was to find that Teal'c was already on his way back up.

Jack looked down the mountain from the lip of the curve. He couldn't believe how anyone would survive such a crash. Oh god Danny, no, no! He leaned against part of the remaining barrier wondering why the hell he'd survived, only to lose his reason for living just after getting him back. He felt the tears slide down his cheeks and he suddenly didn't care who saw them.

Teal'c climbed the last few metres of rope and hauled himself over the top. He saw O'Neill supporting himself against the barrier and recognised his despair.

In a voice designed to carry he announced, "General Hammond, O'Neill, DanielJackson is not in the vehicle below. I am sorry to inform you that Airman Evans is in the car and he is dead. However, the crash occurred after Evans was killed."

"WHAT?" Hammond demanded.

It took a moment for the second part of Teal'c's statement to get through; Jack was euphoric over the news about Daniel. Danny wasn't in the car, he's not dead. His tears became tears of relief and he lifted his eyes to the heavens with a silent shout of joy.

Then the second part permeated his consciousness. Evans was killed before the crash and Daniel was missing.

"How did'ya know that Evans died before the crash?" Jack asked in a low voice.

"Because his throat had been cut."

"Oh my god!" Hammond said.

"Someone has taken DanielJackson," Teal'c said with an air of menace.

Jack was silent but inside he was seething. He looked over at the general and Hammond, sensing the scrutiny, glanced back at Jack. His look was met by a pair of very hard brown eyes.

Hammond nodded at Jack saying, "I think we can leave this in the hands of the good doctor. We need to talk, come back to my office."

The general sat behind his desk, leaning back in his chair, his eyes tracking to the ceiling before coming back to meet Jack's worried gaze. "Take a seat please, gentlemen."

Jack sat down feeling strangely aware of everything in the small room but mostly of the man seated opposite him. He'd known this man for six years, felt he knew all his moods but for a moment it was as if he didn't recognise him. There seemed to be a distance between them, a wall erected to keep them separate. Jack was afraid.

Teal'c remained standing almost directly behind Jack's left shoulder. Hammond noted the stance and Teal'c's unspoken comment.

"First of all let me say that I'm sorry it has come to this and that I was stupid enough to believe that it wouldn't."

Jack sat forward at that. "What's been going on general?"

"When I began to make arrangements for the err...'resurrection' of Dr. Jackson certain questions were asked."

"Questions were to be expected were they not?" Teal'c interjected.

"Oh yes but some were not welcome."

"Oh god, you're talking about the NID, aren't you?" Jack asked with sudden understanding. Why the hell didn't I think of that before, it should've been obvious? Because you were too busy being deliriously happy that you had him back in your life.

"Yes, I'm afraid so. They wanted to know how he could return when he was supposedly ascended as another form of life; their words not mine. I explained in the simplest terms I could that he had been sent back to this plane of existence; this time I am quoting Dr. Jackson, with no memory of the last few months. I said he had committed some act that the Others disapproved of and as punishment they had returned him and removed his memories. I didn't tell them what his supposed crime was. The NID asked a few more detailed questions which I mostly avoided and they asked to see Dr. Jackson. I told them there was no point as his last memory was of dying from radiation poisoning. I thought they'd accepted that because I heard no more."

"Who was doing the asking? Did someone come here in person?" Jack questioned.

"No colonel, it was all done over the telephone or by email but the person asking was Colonel Simmons."

"Simmons! And you thought he would just let it go?" Jack asked cynically.

The general sighed knowing Jack had every right to be upset. He should have known better, he had hoped that they would just back off and leave the young man alone and when he heard no more... I was a fool.

"I'm sorry, Jack."

"Yeah, so am I."

"Sir, I don't suppose you warned Daniel about the NID didja?"

"I considered Dr. Jackson had enough to worry about and there didn't seem any point, mistakenly or otherwise I thought they accepted my opinion of the situation."

"And you couldn't inform me," Jack continued in a quiet voice.

"I suggest now is not the time for recriminations, O'Neill. It is time to decide how we can proceed to free DanielJackson from his captors."

"They're gonna want to know about his time as an ascended aren't they and he can't tell them a damned thing. Course they won't believe that. Damn!"

"It would be most likely that they will torture DanielJackson assuming he is lying to them." Teal'c said, voicing Jack unspoken fear.

"They obviously had no qualms about murdering the driver, nor does it seem they cared that we would realise who it was who'd taken him," the general said thoughtfully.

"Maybe that's to our advantage," Jack stated, eyes narrowing.

"How so?"

"Because they're too confident. We can assume they work for Simmons and he's always tended to dismiss us. He, they, wanted to rub our noses in it."

"Rub our noses in what?"

"Not now. Teal'c," Jack said distractedly.

"What are you thinking, colonel?" the general wondered.

"I'm thinking with the right sort of help maybe we can track them down."

"The right sort of help? You're not thinking..."

"Harry Maybourne, he...he's helped us upset the NID applecart in the past," he glanced at Teal'c who gave a slight nod in appreciation. "No reason to think he wouldn't wanna stick it to 'em again."

Daniel tried to get comfortable on the hard chair but as he couldn't move very much it was impossible. They had removed his jacket leaving him in his shirtsleeves and his hands were tied behind his back to the chair, as were his legs to the chair legs at his ankles and there was a thick leather restraint fastening him to the chair around his waist.

Peters sat in another chair, looking decidedly comfortable compared to Daniel, watching him carefully, an expression of amused disdain on his face. He still had the gun in his right hand but it was lolling casually between the man's thighs.

Collins and their leader had left the room shortly after Daniel was dragged in and tied to the chair. Daniel had no idea where he was, other than it didn't appear to be a house, more like a small warehouse or some kind of storage facility.

Shortly after they had disposed of his courtesy car over the cliff, Peters had blindfolded him and tied his hands behind his back. Daniel had then been shoved into the back seat of the car and told to keep quiet; Peters had made it clear that gagging him wouldn't be a problem.

"Sure we're gonna want you to talk but not yet pretty boy. Just when we want."

"Let him be, Peters...for now."

Daniel wasn't sure who scared him more, Peters with his overt violent tendencies or the leader whose quiet voice dripped with menace. The point was; he needed to keep quiet. However, he also kept himself very aware of the journey, trying to give himself clues if at all possible, which was extremely difficult when he couldn't see. He guessed that once they left the mountain road with its twists and turns they settled onto a major highway as the speed became steady and the turns much less frequent and much gentler. It was difficult to gauge the passage of time with any accuracy but he estimated they drove for about three hours before they obviously turned off onto what felt like a rough side road. As he was dragged out of the car Daniel had to admit to himself that he really had no idea at all where he was, god he didn't even know in which direction they had driven on leaving Colorado Springs. He could be just about anywhere within a radius of about 200 miles from the mountain, an enormous area to search.

He'd been thinking during the enforced journey and had come to the conclusion that he'd most likely been taken by the NID. The cold efficiency; and even colder murder of poor Evans, only reinforced his theory. He was shocked that he hadn't thought before that they would be particularly interested in his return from the 'dead'. He'd been so wrapped up in his own excitement over his burgeoning relationship with Jack that he'd never really considered the ramifications of his return. God, he even remembered dismissing as irrelevant how General Hammond would arrange his miraculous return to the land of the living.

Hammond would have known, he'd probably even been contacted by the NID. The General, being the good and kind man he was, had probably just handled it the best way he could to keep them off his back, especially knowing how important it was for Daniel to spend as much time with Jack as possible to assist in the colonel's recovery which was just as important to the General if for vastly different reasons.

Which brought him to the subject he'd been doing his best to avoid all this time. What the hell would this be doing to Jack?

His thoughts were dragged away from the man he loved to one he knew he was pretty soon going to hate. He was not a man who hated easily, always did his best to give the other guy the benefit of the doubt but in this man's case there was no doubt to give him the benefit of. He clearly did not have the best interests of Daniel Jackson at heart.

The man, damn what was his name? entered with Collins. Peters relinquished the chair to him without needing to be told and the man sat down opposite Daniel.

"Well, Dr. Jackson, it's time for our chat."

"It's polite to introduce yourself first," Daniel said conversationally.

The man smiled. "I was told about you, that you weren't as wimpish as your background would suggest but then after over five years of exploring...strange places that isn't so surprising is it? Well, as to my name that would be Connor and if you want to be formal you can call me Major."

"NID obviously."

Connor clucked, gave a theatrical sigh and said, "Too smart for your own good, I was told that as well. I was told you never knew when to keep your mouth shut and judging from our journey here, that isn't the case, at least it's no longer the case. Could it be your recent experience has taught you some caution?"

Daniel didn't answer.

Connor smiled. "I see it has. You see the thing is I want to know about your recent experiences, all of it my dear doctor. You've spent over six months in very exalted company and there must be an awful lot of things you've seen, learned, experienced. How much of that power you must have gained can you still tap into I wonder?"

"I can only assume you have spoken to someone at the SGC, General Hammond is my guess and I'm sure he told you that they kicked me out and took my memories of the whole affair. The last thing I remember was dying and I doubt you want to hear about that. Besides, if you really believed I still had any of the powers of the Ascended I doubt you would just tie me to a chair," he added derisively.

Peters and Collins glanced at each other and Daniel wondered just how much they knew about what was really going on.

Connor gave a slight smile. "You're right of course, we did contact the General and he was quite adamant that you had no knowledge of your time with ...the Others, I believe he called them, since whatever crime you committed made them dispose of you. But my superior..."

"Whose name wouldn't happen to be Simmons would it?" Daniel interrupted.

Connor merely raised an eyebrow and continued undeterred, "my superior believes that you do have some memories and it is possible you have retained some powers, albeit latently."

"In other words Simmons thinks I lied to the general. I always knew that man was an ass," Daniel smiled I'm channelling Jack, what d'ya know. "I also remember he thought I was a Goa'uld sympathiser. I see he still gets everything one hundred percent wrong."

Daniel sighed, mirroring the theatrical gesture of Connor.

Connor rose from his chair and stood over Daniel. "I didn't really expect that you would simply talk, even if you knew the answers and perhaps you really don't." Daniel couldn't help but glance in the direction of Peters and Collins and Connor followed his gaze. "Yes I suppose I could just let them loose on you but I think all that would do would make them happy, they do so like to inflict pain but would it get me any answers? I think not." Connor noted that Daniel relaxed slightly and narrowing his eyes, he quickly said, "Then again one never knows." He turned to his compatriots, "I'll give you ten minutes to see if he is simply lying."

As he turned on his heel to leave, Peters and Collins moved toward Daniel.

"Shame to spoil such a pretty face, don't you think Collins?" Peters said as he slammed a fist into Daniel's abdomen. Daniel's body tried to react by folding in to protect itself as he released a pained gasp but the restraints meant he was unable to do so.

Collins didn't bother to answer just lifting his leg to aim a kick at Daniel's left shin and Daniel cried out at the pain.

"Anything you'd like to say, pretty boy?" Peters asked.

"Don't call me boy," Daniel gasped.

Peters grinned, "I could call you some other names. Are you a fag?"

"Are you? All you seem to care about are my looks." Aw hell why did I say that?

"There are some uses for fags," Peters smiled. "Some really interesting uses. I wonder if Connor will care what happens to you after he gets what he wants."

Peters laid into Daniel again and again until all he could do was gasp to try and get some oxygen back into his straining lungs and let the tears stream from his eyes. He never even saw Collins walk behind his chair. It wasn't until he felt hands on his hands that he realised he could not longer see the other man. Panic flowed through him as he felt Collins separate his hands and take a firm grip on his left index finger.

Peters stood back. "Sure you've nothing to say? Collins doesn't like the soft parts of the body; he likes bones. Likes to hear them crack."

Daniel gritted his teeth, knowing there was nothing he could do to stop this. Even if he'd wanted to talk there was nothing he could say.

Knowing what was coming was no preparation however and he screamed as Collins bent and snapped the bone in his finger. He dropped his head onto his chest trying to get control of the pain.

"That will do for now!" Connor's voice snapped.

"Just having some fun, sir," Peters replied.

"We're not here to indulge your idea of fun Peters, we're here for a specific reason and that is to get information. We need the good doctor ready and willing to talk, one way or the other. Are you willing to talk now Dr. Jackson?"

"I already told you, I have no memory of that time," Daniel said painfully, his head down and his chin still resting on his chest.

"I'm inclined to believe you, which just leads us onto the next round," Connor replied.

Daniel slowly lifted his head and stared at his tormentors.

"I don't really like the brute force aspect of my job, oh I'll employ if necessary but I would rather use this," he said bringing a small black leather case from his pocket. He opened it up and held it out for Daniel to see. Inside there was a syringe and a few vials of pale blue liquid. "Just something we developed over at Area 51. It's quite remarkable in the way it lowers resistance and inhibitions. You'll soon tell me anything I want to know."

Oh god, I can't tell him what he wants to know but I could tell him other stuff? Oh god! Jack?

Jack paced up and down in his office; it had never seemed so small. What the hell is keeping him? He looked at the telephone sitting quietly on his desk. Ring damn you ring.

Teal'c stood with his back to the door watching his friend. Doc Fraiser had only agreed to Jack staying out of her infirmary on the understanding that he tried to keep calm and to make sure she insisted he was not left alone. Teal'c agreed to watch his friend.

"I believe it would be wise if you sat down, O'Neill."

Jack stopped pacing, looking around as if only just realising that was what he was doing. Reluctantly he made his way over to his chair, knowing that Teal'c wouldn't hesitate to report him to the Doc if he didn't stick to her rules. Even as he sat the telephone began to ring and he grabbed for it.


"Hi, there, Jack got your message. Kinda surprised to hear from you. "

He closed in eyes in relief, "Harry, I need your help and I think you'll want to give it."

"Don't believe I owe you any more favours Jack."

Jack's hand was white as it gripped the phone and he took a breath to calm himself. "Thought you might like to spike Simmons' guns."

"Ah, my old friend Frank and what's he into this time?"

"I suppose you heard about Daniel's return?"

"I did hear some rumours; so it's true then. Ah, let me guess, Simmons wants him; no Simmons has already got him. There's no other reason you'd come to me, Jack."

"Some of his goons snatched Daniel from an AF car on the way back to the SCG about three hours ago now. They killed the driver, Harry. We know Simmons was after Daniel, he'd been asking a lot of questions and not getting the answers he wanted."

"You know how many goons?"

"Teal'c thinks three and I trust his judgement."

"How was the driver killed?"

"Throat was cut."

"Not hiding then, just sending you a message. What about the car?"

"Sent over the cliff, driver inside."

"Uh oh."

"Harry, I...this is special, Harry and I'll owe ya big time."

"It's okay, Jack. I like Daniel y'know and I don't like Simmons. I have an idea who may be involved. I'll get back to ya, stay by the phone."

"Soon, Harry."

"One last question, Jack. The answers Simmons wants, does Jackson have them? The truth now.

"No, Harry. He has no memory. The truth."

The line went dead.

Daniel had been moved from the chair to a table that had been in the far shadows behind him. Peters and Collins had moved it to the centre of the large room where he could see it. It was a metal table, not unlike those used in hospital OR's except this one had broad leather straps fixed to each of its four corners with one around the middle. Daniel tried to struggle when they unfastened him from the chair but it was futile, especially as he was hurting so much.

They threw him on the table and Collins grabbed his wrists and fastened them with the top straps, sending waves of pain through his left hand as he purposely knocked against Daniel's broken finger.

Peters picked up the waist restraint and strapped it across his middle and then his hands moved slowly down Daniel's body. He couldn't help but tense as the man's hand lingered over his groin before moving in between his legs. Daniel bit his lower lip to keep from saying anything, knowing the man was only trying to unnerve him. No way in hell was he going to let on it was working. Peters' hand described an arc from one inner thigh to the other brushing Daniel's balls as he passed and he looked up into Daniel's face and leered as he did so. Daniel managed to stare back into his eyes and he believed he kept the fear from his expression.

Then Peters roughly pulled Daniel's legs apart, immobilising each one at the ankle with the leather straps, which he pulled far too tight.

Daniel had been lying there for about ten minutes under the casual scrutiny of the two thugs. He guessed it was all part of Connor's plan for softening him up, trying to make Daniel worry himself into panic. Connor either didn't know or didn't believe that he'd been tortured by far worse people than him. It wasn't that he didn't get scared, Daniel knew terror inside out, was on first name terms with it but as Jack was always saying, he had a stubborn streak a mile wide and the more he was pushed the more he pushed back. This was part of the reason for snake baiting he admitted. The problem this time was that he didn't have a secret to keep to protect his team or his world. This time the secret wasn't even known to him.

Connor entered the room at last and walked over to look down at Daniel. He checked all the restraints, clucking when he inspected the ankles.

"Who fastened these?" he asked coldly. "You?" he looked at Peters.

"Yes, sir," he replied quietly.

"Too tight, Peters. That's not very smart is it?" he asked again, loosening the straps before refastening them.

"No, sir!"

Connor stood back a little and delved into his pocket again to remove the black case. Taking out the syringe, he filled it from one of the vials, ensuring all the air was expelled before approaching Daniel.

"Collins," he said quietly and the man whose voice Daniel had yet to hear came forward. He removed a knife and Daniel tensed. "No, Dr. Jackson don't worry," said Connor as Collins took the knife and carefully slit and removed Daniel's right shirtsleeve. Connor pressed the syringe to Daniel's exposed arm. "This may hurt a little but it will pass. I believe you will feel warm and relaxed. Then we can talk."

"I've already told you, I can't remember, I don't know anything," Daniel couldn't keep the edge of panic from his voice.

Connor smiled, "We shall see."

Jack was feeling nauseous, he knew it was the worry but if Janet Fraiser found out she'd probably haul his ass back to the infirmary. Damn, Teal'c just might tell her! He leaned back in his chair and took some deep breaths.

"Are you well O'Neill?"

"I'm fine," he replied. It was only after he said it he realised he'd used Daniel's stock phrase to cover a multitude of sins. Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "I know," Jack replied to the unspoken comment with a wry smile, "but really, I'm okay."

The phone rang and Jack grabbed it with a shaking hand. "O'Neill."

"My theory was correct," Harry said without preamble. "Simmons likes to use a certain Major in these kinds of ops. Connor is a cold thorough bastard who likes to leave a calling card if the operation will permit. When you told me about the driver he seemed the obvious choice. Simmons wouldn't care 'cause he thinks he so damned clever..."

"Harry, all I wanna know now is where can I find this lowlife bastard? Tell me you've got some idea."

"Teal'c was right; he usually works with two sergeants, nasty pieces of work both of 'em. You need to get Jackson away from them and quick."

"Harry! Where dammit?" Jack's heart was racing and he could feel the blood pounding in his ears.

"Connor has two favourite places he likes to use. Both of them remote, he likes to be out in the middle of nowhere. One is up near the Canadian border, might be wrong but I think he'd go for the other one, nearer. A small place called Elilia, outside Lindrith, north west of Santa Fe in New Mexico."

"That's only about three and half, four hours by road from here." Jack said thoughtfully. "Okay Harry, give us all you got. And thanks."

"You're welcome, Jack. Sorry I'm too far away to join you. You might owe me a small favour for this and Jack, what they owe me...."

Hammond needed no persuasion to pull out all the stops to get Daniel back. Luckily he shared Jack's belief that Harry Maybourne was telling the truth about who had taken Daniel. He had some contacts himself in Washington, he didn't like to use them as he had very few favours left to call in but this was different. He felt they owed Daniel Jackson more than they could ever repay because the part he played in saving the planet wasn't even as acknowledged as that of his team-mates with their medals. The General also felt it was a perpetual, though unspoken thorn in his side, that Dr. Jackson's reputation as an archaeologist still lay in the dust, even though he had uncovered more mysteries and deciphered more languages than the rest of the so-called experts put together.

Hammond's own contacts confirmed that the NID had indeed snatched Jackson and were holding him well away from their Area 51 site but had no information as to where he was actually being held. Maybourne's information was all that they had at this time. Not surprisingly, all official channel requests to the NID, to Simmons and even to Kinsey had been met with surprised denial.

Dr. Jackson had now been missing for five hours and determined men with no compunction could do an awful lot of damage in that amount of time. The General found it hard to accept the fact that once again the most generous, kind and honourable man he'd ever met was at the mercy of ruthless men who couldn't even recognise such attributes.

He'd arranged helicopters to take himself, the remaining members of SG1 as well as SG2 and SG3 with him. He had specifically recalled SG3 from a training mission; he wanted the marines with them on this one.

Hammond had contacted the local law enforcement mostly for the convenience of having vehicles to meet the helicopters when they landed, the plan being to land a short distance away and travel in by road. It was more likely the sound of cars would not raise the alarm, as would the sound of a helicopter. The helicopter would be in constant contact with the ground forces in case it was needed at short notice. Hammond was diplomatic in requesting the back up of the local forces while requesting that they keep in the background unless specifically requested to provide assistance. The ubiquitous phrase 'national security' could be very useful when necessary.

He had made an attempt to persuade Jack O'Neill to stay behind and leave it to others but the Colonel hadn't even attempted any of his usual sarcasm or cajoling to go along, he had simply told the General that he needed to go. The very honest simplicity of the request was compelling. Colonel O'Neill was recalled to duty and in the end it was Jack's plan of action that they decided to use.

A little over an hour since O'Neill's conversation with Maybourne and they were on their way to New Mexico.

The drug didn't take very long to make its effects known to Daniel. At first he felt slightly flushed and his mouth went dry and then he felt nauseous.

Connor monitored him, checking a small note pad and nodding from time to time. He commented casually to his henchmen. "It shouldn't be long now before Dr. Jackson," at this point he nodded in Daniel's direction and gave him an ironic smile, "answers my list of questions." He turned his attention fully on Daniel, moving very close to the table and leaning in slightly to say, "Whether I have any further questions will depend on what you tell me."

"Major Connor, sir, can I ask you something?" Peters requested from the shadows...

"And what would that be Peters?" Connor asked with an edge of irritation.

"After you've got the answers you want, what will you wanna do with him?" Peters replied moving forward and raising his chin towards Daniel. Connor wasn't aware of the expectant expression on Peters face as he regarded the restrained man. Daniel, however, even through the haze of confusion caused by the drugs was very aware of the way the man licked his lips purposely allowing his tongue to protrude against his upper lip, before finishing his performance with a wide grin.

"That will depend on the answers," Connor said distractedly as he was still comparing Daniel's reactions to the notes on his small pad.

"So you might not need him afterwards?"

Connor stilled and straightened before turning slowly back to Peters. "We're not here to pander to your peculiarities Peters, we're here to do a job and that is your only concern here. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, sir, sorry sir." Peters snapped back with alacrity.

For the first time Daniel felt a slight gratitude to Connor. At least the man seemed to have a sense of honour, within his own code of course. As this passed through his mind Daniel realised that he felt better, the nausea and flush had receded and his head was clearer. He felt somewhat 'off' but he couldn't quite pin down what was wrong.

"Well, Dr. Jackson, I think the drug has taken effect. How are you feeling?"

Daniel had no intention of telling the man anything and was taken aback when he heard himself speak. "I do not feel myself but I am all right."


"Let's begin with some simple questions. What is your name?"

He fought not to answer, "Nooo. Daniel...Jackson."

"Don't fight it doctor, you can't win. All you will do is cause yourself pain. Am I not correct?"

"Yesss." He did indeed feel a pins and needles sensation running down his arms.

"What is your profession?"

"I'm an archaeologist and anthropologist specialising in linguistics," he replied firmly. Answering this was not a problem his career was hardly secret.

"Who do you work for?"

" the SGC," he said slowly. Try dammit. Fight.

"Still fighting eh, Doc. Your choice but you'll pay. Now, tell me about the Ascended."

"Oh, that's an interesting question," replied Daniel. "I first met an Ascended without even realising it. I thought it was me, you know. Stupid really but I was so caught up with finding the boy, that when I thought I could protect..."

"I asked about the Ascended?" Connor interrupted angrily.

"But that's what I'm telling you." Answer the question Daniel, tell him everything. That's the only way to beat this. Tell him everything damn thing you can think of. Give them time to find you. "I thought the monk was just that, a monk until he began to show me that he had powers beyond my imagining and I was stupid enough to think I could copy him, that I could have such power. I even told Jack, you know Colonel O'Neill, that I could create fire and that I could make objects move all by the power of my will." Jack would be proud of me. There's nothing that annoys him as much as what he calls going into my lecture mode. I wonder how much more I can annoy these bozos. Not necessarily a sensible method but it's all I've got at the moment.

"Of course it wasn't that simple at all. I soon came to realise that the monk wasn't just a monk at all. The boy was there all right but he already had all the protection he could possibly need..."

Daniel kept talking, giving a detailed explanation of their mission to Kheb. Connor kept interrupting asking for more specific information but Daniel kept fighting to give his detailed lecture. The pain in his body increased as he fought the drug. The pins and needles sensation that had started in just his arms gradually spread to his shoulders and then his neck before travelling slowly down his torso and into his legs. As the pain increased Daniel's control of his speech became erratic.

"I told you, you would pay for fighting the drug. Answer my questions directly and stop prevaricating. I'll give you one last chance and then I'll give you a second dose. Understand Dr. Jackson, the pain you feel now will be nothing compared to what a second dose would induce if you still refuse to answer direct questioning."

"Tell me of the Ascended and the powers they possess."

"Oma had some remarkable powers. She decimated a Jaffa army, ground troops, air cover and one of the mother ships. She was quite something. She took the boy and promised to protect him and she did. She...sent him to me to teach me how...powerful and dangerous his...Goa'uld memories were and that they should...never be accessed." Daniel's brow was bathed in sweat now and he was faltering in his speech.

"I gave you a chance," Connor said taking out the syringe again and filling it from one of the vials. He walked over to Daniel, who struggled a little as Connor took hold of his arm again.

Even the trip by helicopter seemed to take an inordinate amount of time as far as Jack was concerned. He had the insane urge to pace and had to take deep breaths to control himself. He hated being out of control like this and it scared him that his feelings for Daniel could do this to him. It brought home to him too clearly why fraternisation was frowned upon within teams. Am I being fair, I've always reacted badly when Daniel was captured or hurt? Is it really any different now that I've admitted I love him? Crap, I just stopped lying to myself that's all...

"Are you all right, sir?" Sam Carter suddenly asked.

"What? Oh yeah. Don't like the idea of Daniel being in the hands of these bastards that's all."

"He'll be all right, Colonel, you know Daniel, he always bounces back," Sam said cheerily.

"Not always, major," replied Jack quietly.

Sam bit her lip at that and glanced over at Teal'c who raised a brow at her. There was no denying that Daniel's reputation as the come-back kid had taken a dent but then again, who else had not only come back from the dead but from beyond the abyss?

Sam realised that since Jack had been rescued from Ba'al he had regained the close friendship with Daniel that had been damaged during the last year or so before he left them and that he was once again in such dire straights was hard for the Colonel to bear. She was very happy that they had regained the balance that had once made them virtually unbeatable and she had been looking forward to the reformation of the flagship team of the SGC. She would not consider the possibility of losing Daniel again. She unconsciously gripped her weapon tighter as she straightened her shoulders in preparation for the landing of the helicopters.

It was arranged that they would meet the vehicles at a site approximately two miles from the abandoned mine buildings just outside the long deserted town of Elilia. The mine had been the mainstay of the little town and when the facility was played out the people had moved away. Maybourne had said that Connor used one the larger outlying storage buildings.

It was still dark when the helicopters landed. To Jack it seemed so long since Daniel was snatched but it wasn't more than seven hours ago. They had been due to meet for dinner in the commissary around nineteen hundred hours, or seven as Daniel put it and it was no later than twenty hundred hours when Jack had set the alarm bells ringing.

It was now just after oh three hundred hours and they still had about ninety minutes of full darkness before the light crept across the desert to signal a new dawn breaking.

Four vehicles met them, each with a local law enforcement officer driving. Jack and Teal'c took off at a loping run immediately after disembarking, with just a quick acknowledgement from General Hammond. They planned to circle the buildings and come in from the far side.

It soon obvious that the main problem was that with whatever method they chose to approach, there was no way they could do it stealthily as the area was so deserted. A vehicle arriving would be less noticeable than a helicopter but it would make Connor and his thugs no less suspicious.

Teal'c suggested he could get into the area without being seen or heard and no one was prepared to doubt him. Jack was also been well trained in such methods when he'd worked in Special Ops and though it took him a little while to convince General Hammond that he was fit enough to make the attempt, the General finally capitulated, accepting that he was strongly motivated. Sam Carter wanted to go too but Jack suggested a better use for the Major.

It was just over two miles from the landing site to the edge of the mine buildings. For two men who travelled the galaxy and had walked across more planets than most people had even heard of, it was a jaunt. They reached the outlying structures and by means of silent signals, split up to come at the target building from either side. Maybourne had been particularly detailed in his description of the building and the interior design. Jack was fairly sure that Harry had been there but the man denied it, saying he had good contacts.

Their target was large and rectangular, divided into three sections, one large one and two smaller. One of the smaller sections had been used as offices, the other for the storage of equipment. The large section was used to store the ore before it was moved for smelting. Maybourne said they would hide their car and other equipment in the large section and Connor would use the small storage section for his interrogations. He used the office for resting and eating.

When Jack ran over the information in his mind his blood ran cold at the thought of Daniel undergoing an 'interrogation'. Daniel was a stubborn bastard at the best of times and for once he really couldn't answer any questions but the odds of Connor believing that were infinitesimal.

As he approached the earmarked building Jack proceeded even more carefully under the assumption that there may be a guard outside but he couldn't see any signs. Even the building looked completely deserted, until he noticed the windows on the on this side were boarded with new wood. Jack assumed this was to ensure no light from inside would be visible. Harry was right; they were here. He checked his watch, three minutes before they were due. He didn't bother to look for Teal'c; he knew he wouldn't see him but he knew he would be in position.

The sound of a car engine disturbed the quiet and Connor lifted his head from where he was studying Daniel's reactions to the second dose of the drug. Daniel's face was flushed and he was sweating profusely. He was groaning and mumbling under his breath.

"Collins, check that out," Connor said sharply.

Collins silently moved to the door and went into the outer room.

Daniel tried to follow the movement with his eyes but found he couldn't sustain his focus. He closed his eyes to try and still the dizziness and calm his rebellious stomach. He muttered to himself in Abydonian trying to ground himself by reciting a love poem. He had learned it from one of the old women of the town but it had never seemed right for Shar'e. Now it seemed perfect for Jack. It spoke of the strength of love as a bastion against the tribulations of life.

The poem focused his mind and it was then he recognised the irritating sound that caused Connor to snap at one of his minions. A car, it was a car. Jack!

Collins came back in to Connor and spoke for the first time. However, Daniel had no idea what he said as he whispered privately to the man.

"A man and a woman? Did you recognise either one?"

More whispered conversation.

"I see." Connor turned back to Daniel. "We have visitors. Too soon to tell if it's anyone you know. However, rest assured it is unlikely we will be disturbed, this place is very secret but I always err on the side of caution. My quiet colleague here says it's not light enough to see yet but he thinks the woman is blonde. Does that bring anyone to mind?"

Daniel was not in control of himself and he was unable to stop the expression of hope that flashed across his features.

"Sorry to get your hopes up my dear Dr. Jackson but the odds of this particular blonde being the very smart Major Carter must be very long indeed." Connor retorted with a smile that faded as the sound of the car screeching to a halt on the rough shale outside could be clearly heard. He turned to Peters and ordered him to stay and watch the prisoner while he and Collins checked on the unwelcome visitors.

Sam Carter glanced over at Ferretti as he switched off the car engine and he returned her gaze with his customary grin. Then she climbed out of the car saying, "For god's sake Lou, where the hell are we?" in a particularly loud jarring voice.

Ferretti also got out of the car and sighed. "Now, honey, I already told you I must've taken a wrong turning somewhere back there. I just hope there is...oh look, there is someone here."

"Oh, thank goodness. I was sure this place was deserted. Can you please give us directions; my husband here has gone and got us lost."

"Well thank you very much and just who was supposed to be reading the map?"

"Don't you go blaming me Louis, I'm sure I told you the correct turnings to make. You just can't follow instructions!"

Jack couldn't keep the grin from his face at the antics of his second-in-command as the irate wife. Poor Lou, good thing Mrs Ferretti wasn't that shrill.

Two men had exited the building almost as Sam and Lou got out of the car. Jack hadn't been sure if this little act would bring the perpetrators out of hiding but it was the best he could come up with at such short notice. They were professionals and it was too much of a risk that strangers might stumble upon their little operation. Nasty as it was, they'd probably prefer to dispose of any such risks. Carter and Ferretti knew what they were facing and were well prepared.

One of the men, Connor, Jack guessed, walked forward and in a very cultured voice said, "Please don't be concerned, you are not really all that far from the highway. However, perhaps you would like to take a rest in more comfortable surroundings. I know it doesn't look very much but I assure you, my office inside is very comfortable."

Jack didn't wait to hear all of Connor's welcoming speech. Two of the three men were outside so that only left one watching Daniel. It had been arranged that if this plan worked, Teal'c would keep an eye on whoever left the building while Jack went in to find Daniel. The odds in Jack's favour had just increased.

Peters watched as Connor and Collins left to deal with whoever was stupid enough to drive up there. As soon as the door was closed he turned back to Daniel and smiled wolfishly.

"Alone at last," he said with an expression in his eyes that Daniel had prayed he wouldn't see. The thug walked closer to the table where Daniel was effectively immobilised and he seemed to take pleasure in Daniel's helplessness. "Well, pretty boy..."

"I told you not to call me boy!" He struggled to keep a grip on his wandering mind. He knew he needed all his wits about him.

Peters seemed surprised that Daniel snapped at him then he laughed. "My, my you have some spirit after all. I did wonder you know; you seemed so insipid."

"It's called self-control, not something with which you are familiar." Jack would be snarky about now but that'd probably only earn him a beating. Can't think of anything anyway, probably a good thing. Oh, god, concentrate you fool.

"Familiar, oh yes I would like to be familiar with you," Peters replied sidestepping the insult and concentrating on Daniel's unintentionally suggestive comment. He laid the flat of his hand on Daniel's bare instep and watched as it garnered warmth from the trapped body. He felt his semi-hard cock take a definite interest and began to trail his hand very slowly up the foot slipping his hand inside the trouser leg, casually caressing the tense calf muscle.

Daniel instinctively went rigid and shut his eyes. God let that car be someone here to help me. The only person I want to touch me is Jack. Please don't let this happen. God snap out of it, that's not gonna help. Keep your wits about you. This could be bad but at least you're still alive. Stay alive for Jack, that's all he wants. You. Alive.

He began to murmur to himself reciting a passage from the Book of the Dead, anything to keep his mind off what the bastard was doing to him. Remembering the words was almost automatic he had read it so often.

Peters glanced up and saw the tightly closed eyes and smiled, believing his prisoner was too afraid to watch. As he could no longer comfortably reach any higher up the calf he removed his hand from inside Daniel's pants and began the sensuous movement again on the surface of the fabric, pressing a little harder. He wanted Jackson to show fear, to beg him to stop, to whimper, something to prove he was in control. He heard the muttering and guessed the scared man was begging under his breath. Leaving his hand on Jackson's thigh he leaned over to hear the words, frowning when he realised he couldn't understand a word.

"Speak in English, you fucker!"

"What would be the point, you wouldn't understand that any more than you do ancient Egyptian!"

Frustrated Peters backhanded Daniel across the face shocking him into opening his eyes. Peters leaned back and grinned, a death's head grin that did nothing but convince Daniel his attempt at composure had only exacerbated Peters' anger. Peters returned to his exploration of Daniel's body but there were no more casual caresses or lingering touches; the man went straight for Daniel's belt.

Panic resurfaced and Daniel attempted to buck Peters away from his body but the waist strap made that virtually impossible. Peters retaliated by pressing one hand down firmly on Daniel's abdomen while the other hand swiftly undid the belt and moved towards the zipper. Daniel bit his tongue to keep from crying out so as not to give his tormentor the satisfaction but inside he was screaming for Jack.

Jack recalled the building plan provided by Harry Maybourne. The large area had two entrances, one a big sliding metal door used for the deliveries of the ore and a smaller one on the opposite side not far from the office suite. That door was situated on the side where Jack had been hiding. While Carter and Ferretti kept Connor and his henchman occupied, under the watchful eye of Teal'c he would break in and find Daniel.

He approached the door quietly even though he was pretty sure that third thug would be in whatever room they were holding Daniel. He checked out the lock, smiling to himself. It had been a while but skills like that weren't forgotten. He fished in his pocket and pulled out a piece of very thin rigid wire about twenty centimetres in length, one end of which was bent at a sharp angle. Jack inserted the angled end into the lock and twisted it feeling for the movements, changing the angle and twisting it again until the lock clicked and the door was open. He replaced the lock pick and very carefully opened the door.

Inside it was fairly dark, with just one bare bulb lit at the other end of the large open area where the car was parked alongside a large wooden crate and the diffuse glow of what he assumed to be a lamp in the office area nearby. Jack felt a clenching in his chest when he realised it would be easy to fit a human body inside that crate. Was he just inventing situations to worry about? It could be a crate to transport anything. Keep your mind on the objective O'Neill.

The partition wall between the two smaller areas and this larger one was fairly close. The first, the office area, had two windows and a door in the wall overlooking this part the second room had just one window and the door. As he watched a bright overhead was switched on in the office and he instinctively dropped to his knees. He saw two men enter, accompanied by Carter and Ferretti. He couldn't hear exactly what was being said but he could hear the strident voice Carter was adopting and he had to grin.

Jack bent so he could pass by the windows to get to the other room where Daniel was obviously being held. He had confidence that Teal'c was watching Carter and Ferretti and he also knew that Hammond would be bringing in the troops very shortly. The General had agreed to give them fifteen minutes after Carter and Ferretti left the landing site, hoping that would be enough time to secure Daniel before he brought in SG2 and 3. However if they hadn't got him by then the odds were they'd be in trouble and would need the back up. Jack glanced at his watch; they had four minutes left.

Having now reached the window of the storage room, Jack carefully rose to take a quick look in and what he saw made him furious. He dropped out of sight and took a couple of quick breaths to calm himself. Going in there all guns blazing as he felt like doing wouldn't help Daniel, it would just draw the attention of the others to his presence. However, the sight of that slimy bastard with his hands on his Daniel, a Daniel strapped down and unable to escape the unwanted invasion was more than he could bear.

Raised voices reached his ears; Daniel was fighting using the only weapon he had left, that biting wit of his. Jack couldn't hear the actual words but he didn't need to imagine the sarcasm pouring out of that luscious mouth. It never even occurred to Jack that Daniel would be too afraid to resort to his normal reaction to pressure, dig in his heels and be as stubborn as humanly possible.

Suddenly Jack heard what could only be a vigorous slap. Thug number three had obviously had enough of Daniel's attitude problem and Jack had had enough of thug number three. He rose, took a final look through the window and his expression became even more forbidding when he saw the bastard unzipping Daniel's pants.

This time the door wasn't locked and Jack opened it very carefully and very slowly. Just because the thug had his back to Jack and was doing his best to put his damn hands where even Jack hadn't had the nerve to, didn't mean he wouldn't be alert. Jack moved stealthily forward until he could see Daniel's face beyond the leaning body of his tormentor and when he saw the tightly closed eyes, clamped mouth and pained expression on the face of the man he loved, Jack's control almost broke. He covered the last couple of feet before he realised he'd moved. He put one hand on each side of the man's jaw and before he'd had chance to react, Jack swiftly twisted and released. He felt an almost ecstatic relief as he heard the snap, as the man's neck broke followed by the thud as he hit the floor.

Then he saw Daniel's face. Jack hadn't seen but guessed his eyes had snapped open either when he felt the loss of the man's hands, or maybe when he heard the sounds of his death. His eyes were wide with shock and with a cold dread Jack thought he also saw condemnation for the cold-blooded killing of a human being. That was how Daniel would see it of course, not understanding that Jack's blood was anything but cold and that to Jack, that monster was no longer worthy of the value of a human being. I know I could have rendered the bastard unconscious but he didn't deserve to live after what he was gonna do. The only thing of value in this room to Jack was Daniel Jackson. Jack longed to gather him in his arms and hold him close where he would be safe.

"Jack..." Daniel breathed with obvious relief, having enough grasp of the situation to keep quiet.

Taking what he could get, Jack smiled at him and leaned over to release his restraints. Daniel quickly refastened his pants and clambered stiffly from the table. Much to Jack's surprise Daniel grabbed him and pulled the older man against him.

"Thank god you came," he whispered into Jack's ear, his breath sending shivers down Jack's spine. "I prayed it might be you when they heard the car."

"I'll never leave you behind, Danny," he whispered back.

As suddenly as he'd embraced Jack, Daniel let him go and stood back. He glanced down at the corpse nearby and then at Jack, realising from the expression on Jack's face that he felt guilty. With perfect insight he understood that Jack's guilt was not for the killing but for how he believed Daniel would perceive it. It was true Daniel never approved of killing if there was another way but he also didn't approve of putting his friend's lives at risk. He trusted Jack enough to know this had been the safest way.

"I'm sorry," Jack mouthed at him. He started to say something else but stopped and dropped his head instead.

Daniel frowned and then he finally realised, Jack could probably have knocked him out just as efficiently as he'd killed him. He'd taken the action he had because of what the man had done, what he was about to do to Daniel. Jack had been furious and afraid for him.

Daniel reached out and placed a hand on Jack's shoulder and Jack lifted his head.

"I understand," Daniel said very quietly. Jack raised his eyebrows and when Daniel nodded, the knot unwound in his chest.

Teal'c moved silently to the door and listened. Partly to the conversation and partly to ensure that O'Neill was carrying out his part of the plan without being discovered.

Carter was asking for directions and then Ferretti was initiating an argument saying he didn't need directions, he wasn't the one who got lost. Teal'c was impressed by the distraction these two were causing, giving time for O'Neill to attempt the rescue and for General Hammond to arrive with back up.

Just then he heard a sharp voice interrupt the 'argument'. "That's enough!"

"Well really," Carter said, affronted.

Connor ignored her, instead turning to Collins who was standing to the side of Carter and Ferretti about a metre distant. The look was enough for Collins to draw a gun and point it at them.

Carter affected a cry of alarm and stepped back towards Ferretti; both were nearer than Collins to the interior door.

"Now, Major Carter, your little performance was very entertaining but enough is enough," Connor said smoothly. "I assume you're the scouting party. I think we need to cut our little stay here short. Peters," he yelled, "get out here now."

Teal'c knew he had to act but decided to wait for the entrance of this Peters, it may provide a distraction.


"Sorry to disappoint ya but he's otherwise occupied. Permanently," Jack quipped as he stepped through the door, gun in hand. Daniel was visible just behind him.

Teal'c took the opportunity to swiftly come up behind Collins whose attention and weapon were turned on Jack. Teal'c wrapped one massive arm around Collins' neck with just enough pressure to let the man know just how close to death he was. The gun clattered to the floor.

Connor ignored Collins and just about everyone else, instead concentrating on Daniel.

"Ah, Dr. Jackson. Did your good friend kill Peters?"

"Yes, he snapped his neck," Daniel replied automatically.

"Daniel?" Jack was taken aback by Daniel's reaction to the question.

Which presumably had been Connor's intention for he suddenly swung his weapon towards Carter who was standing nearest to him. She reacted like the consummate soldier she was, ducking and grabbing his wrist firmly and twisting his arm upwards. At the same time, Lou Ferretti stepped forward taking Connor's other arm, twisting it behind his back and holding it there with his left hand as his right arm whipped across Connor's throat. Sam took the gun from Connor's immobilised hand and turned it on him.

From outside, the sound of multiple vehicles announced the arrival of General Hammond and the others. While Lou secured both prisoners with plastic ties, Carter went to greet the General and inform him that everything was under control.

"The third one is dead, Jack?" Ferretti asked and Jack nodded. Ferretti herded the two prisoners outside to be taken into custody, leaving Jack alone with Daniel.

"Daniel? Are you all right?" Jack asked.

"No, not really," he answered softly.

Now Jack knew something was wrong. Daniel's stock answer was always 'I'm fine' even though everyone knew he wasn't. It took an awful lot for Daniel Jackson to admit when anything was wrong. This was far too easy.

Daniel recognised Jack's quandary and knew he would have to try and explain. With sudden clarity he realised what danger he was in from his own subconscious mind. His biggest secret was not the Stargate programme; it was his love for his best friend. He'd already wanted so much to tell Jack how he felt, had planned in fact to do so after Jack was released from the infirmary. This last brush with death, a death from which there would be no return, convinced him that he couldn't go another day without declaring his love. Whether or not Jack returned it, he knew his friend wouldn't fault him for it and the very idea that either of them might die without knowing of his deep abiding love was just too much. However, he didn't want that conversation to take place in public, nor when he was under the influence of some damned drug. He wanted a free and clear mind; he needed to be himself before he could offer himself.

"Jack, they gave me something to try and make me tell them what they thought I remembered and was hiding from them. They didn't believe me."

"Ya mean like a truth drug?"

"Yes but something new concocted at Area 51. I had to answer their questions wasn't able to lie."

Jack raised his eyes and a thought flashed through his mind. Dare I? Should I? I think I know the answer but I want to be sure, to really *know*.

"What kind of things did he want to know?"

"Everything I knew about the Ascended, what I experienced, what powers they had, if I still had any powers."

"You couldn't tell them much of that though."

"No, but they didn't believe it and I needed to buy time, so I told them in great detail what I did know."


Smiling Daniel said, "I described our trip to Kheb. About the baby. How I thought I had powers but how it was Oma all the time. How she decimated that army of Jaffa."

Jack laughed. "Lecture mode Dr. Jackson?"

Daniel grinned, "Yeah, I thought about you, about you saying that about me. It helped, you helped."

"I did? Cool. You thought about me eh?"

"I always think about you Jack," he answered as his face flushed and he dropped his eyes.

Oh Daniel, could it be? I have to know. "What do you think about me, Daniel?"

Daniel felt as if a hand clutched at his heart and squeezed. Why did you have to ask me that! "I...I think you're very special Jack. I think you're the most important person in my life. I think without you I wouldn't want to go on living. I...I."

"Oh god, I'm sorry Daniel. Please stop." Oh, Danny, Danny, I should never have done that to you. To hear you say that should be the most precious gift but I feel like a thief.

Daniel dropped his head again and wrapped his arms around his chest. Please let it be that he's just realised what he did, not that he didn't want to hear that answer.

The door opened and General Hammond stood on the threshold. "Dr. Jackson, thank the lord that you are all right."

"Sir, I think I should warn you that Daniel been given some kind of experimental drug to make him answer questions. He's very...basically he can't lie," Jack reported.

"I see. I think it best, son, if we get you back to Dr. Fraiser as soon as we can."

"Thank you, sir."

"Colonel O'Neill, would you look after him, just to be on safe side."

"Always do, sir."

The trip back had been difficult even though Hammond had arranged for SG1 to travel back in one of the helicopters by themselves. Hammond stayed behind with SG3 to arrange for transport of the prisoners and the clearing up of the site. The General had brandished the phrase 'national security' like a broadsword keeping everyone at bay.

Jack had briefed Sam and Teal'c quickly and it was clear from Daniel's expression that he was disturbed by what had happened. It was also clear that more had gone on than Jack had told them, for both he and Daniel were unnaturally quiet and it was unnerving.

"I expect it will only be a matter of time until the drug clears your system, Daniel," said Sam, attempting to reassure her friend.

"Indeed," Teal'c added.

Daniel gave a ghost of smile but didn't answer.

"O'Neill," Teal'c said. "I believe something other than the injection of drugs occurred in that back room."

Jack raised an eyebrow, frowning at his team-mate. "Not now, Teal'c. Let's just get Daniel back to the Doc."

Sam glanced at Teal'c who raised an eyebrow of his own; that avoidance itself was an answer.

On arrival at Cheyenne Mountain they passed quickly through the security gates and headed straight for the infirmary where Janet Fraiser was waiting for them.

"Daniel," she said warmly as he entered. "The General has told me about this new drug you were subjected to. I believe you have a sample, Colonel O'Neill?"

"Yep. Connor had a few vials of the stuff," he replied, handing over the black case that Daniel had told him about.

"That will be a big help in trying to discover how it will react in your system, Daniel. Now can you tell me what, if any physical injuries you have?"

"I hit my head on the side window when the car crashed. I have abrasions on my wrists and ankles from the straps they used to tie me down. I have scratches on my legs from when Peters tried to molest me and I received a hard slap across the face for trying to fight him the only way I could, with words." Daniel closed his eyes as he automatically gave a catalogue of his minor injuries, feeling ashamed and exposed.

His speech was greeted with silence and Daniel slowly opened his eyes not sure what to expect, thinking perhaps they thought he should somehow have tried harder to resist.

Instead he saw Jack looking at him, head cocked to one side, anger in his eyes. The others looked at him with a mixture of surprise and shock.

Jack's quiet voice drew his attention back to his friend. "Like I said, he has to answer and he can't lie." Jack nodded his head towards the infirmary door and with his eyes he asked Sam and Teal'c to leave them alone. Sam brushed her hand along Daniel's arm giving him a squeeze as she left. Teal'c bowed to him, acknowledged O'Neill and left.

Glancing somewhat ruefully at Daniel before turning to Dr. Fraiser, Jack said, "Doc, it's kinda difficult, y'know. You gotta be careful how and what you ask."

Daniel met the doctor's eyes as she nodded her understanding. "All right colonel, if you would leave us while I examine him. It shouldn't take long."

Daniel undressed and lay on the bed and Janet Fraiser gave him a thorough examination and cleaned his minor abrasions, putting dressings on his wrist and ankles. His face, legs and back only required cleansing and treating with antibiotic cream.

"Well physically you seem to have been lucky," she said and Daniel gave a wry smile. "Daniel, you also mentioned that this guy tried to molest you. What exactly did this entail?"

Daniel's eyes widened and he replied. "He began with lewd innuendo then touched me through my clothing. He pointedly asked Connor if he could have me when they'd finished with the questioning. Then when we were left alone and I was strapped to the table he...he undid my clothing and began to touch legs and my groin. If Jack hadn't...."

"All right, Daniel. I'm sorry I had to ask that but I needed to know how far he went. It was obvious from my examination that he hadn't..."

"Raped me!" Daniel said angrily.

"Yes. It was important to see if you might need counselling, Daniel. I had to ask that question."

Closing his eyes Daniel attempted to breath deeply to calm himself. "It's okay Janet, I know. It's hard. But you know I feel more violated by these damned drugs. It was like having someone inside your mind opening all the doors. The best of us have secrets, little private things that mean nothing to others but to each of us...." his voice faded.

"I think I understand. The lab is already looking at the drug but I imagine it will just be a matter of time till your body is not affected anymore."

"What if you're wrong, Janet, what if it lasts for a long time; or god forbid is permanent!"

"Calm down, Daniel. That's most unlikely. Just try and rest, you must be exhausted."

It was as if mention of the fact made it real for Daniel, and suddenly he could hardly keep his eyes open. Janet looked down at him for a moment before pulling back the curtain around the cubicle. She was greeted by the solid presence of Jack O'Neill. She waved a hand at him shooing him backwards and away from Daniel's bed.

"How is he, Doc, really?"

"Sleeping just now."


"He still answers automatically and in great detail. Physically he's just a little battered and sore but nothing much. He said you probably stopped that thug from assaulting him. You killed him?"

"Yeah, when I saw what he was about to do I saw red and I..."

"Probably would have done the same thing myself with a great deal of satisfaction," she responded with hard edge rarely heard in the Janet 'Healer' Fraiser's voice.

"What about this drug? Makes you tell the truth and nothing but the truth, right?"

"Well at this stage I guess you know as much about that as I do, just what Daniel was told. The results of the tests will be a few more hours yet and as I told Daniel, I suspect it will reach its limit and will no longer have any effect."

"I see. Can I sit with him?"

"He's sleeping. Why don't you do the same, I'll call you when he wakes." "I'm fine. I don't want him to wake alone, I want to be here."

She sighed. You'd think after seven years I'd know better. "Okay, colonel, you know the routine."

He grinned, opening the curtain and stepping inside. Looking down at the sleeping Daniel he felt his heart contract. Can't lose you again, I can't.

Finally eleven hours later the results came back and Janet sat at her desk in her office studying the combination of ingredients. Some of them were well known to her, part of the combination would produce Sodium Pentothal. Others she knew of but not in such quantities or mixes. A couple she knew were alien and one she didn't recognise. She studied the detailed print out and frowned. She picked up the phone and called General Hammond.

An irritable Daniel Jackson was sitting up in his infirmary bed trying to get Jack to stop reading to him. Jack had decided that Daniel needed to relax and had chosen to read one of the Harry Potter books to him. While, at any other time, Daniel would have enjoyed listening to the antics of Harry and his friends, at the moment Jack's attempts to help him relax were driving him to distraction. He was desperate to find out what was happening, knowing that only a short while ago Dr. Fraiser had received his results and then a short time later she had left the infirmary without speaking to him.

"Jack, please, stop!"

"You don't like this? Everyone likes this."

"Yes, I do like this but not right now. What the hell is going on? Jack please go and see."

"Are you nuts? No, don't answer that! You know ole Doc Fraiser; she won't tell you anything till she's sure. Daniel, you've gotta give her time. Everything is all right you're safe. No one's getting past Napoleon and SG1. It'll be okay."

"Will it?" he asked quietly. "What happens if I'm stuck like this? I'm no good to the team, no good to the SGC. So much for security. Watch the eleven o'clock news tonight, secrets of the universe, just ask Daniel Jackson."

"Daniel, calm down."

"Oh sure and what about my personal life? I'll never be able to...." He stopped suddenly, appalled at what he almost said. He'd promised himself to say nothing until he was himself again. It was bad enough he was unable to refuse to answer questions, now he was getting stressed enough to volunteer information. "Oh, god."

The telephone at the nurses' station rang and Nurse Evans called out to Jack that it was for him. Patting Daniel on the arm he rose and went to answer the phone.

"Sorry, Daniel I've gotta go, the General wants to see me. I'll send Teal'c down to keep you company." And to keep any other company away.

When he arrived at the General's office he found Fraiser was already there. Hammond indicated that Jack should sit.

"The doctor has received the test results and has a suggestion to make, Colonel."

"Everything's gonna be okay though, right?"

"The drug is quite a concoction, Colonel and I understand why Daniel was compelled to answer when questioned and why he can't lie. The drug affects the specific areas of the brain forcing compliance but I also understand why they expected that Daniel's memories would be drawn from him against his will. Part of the combination works solely on the portion of the brain affecting memory. I recognise it because it is Tok'ra."

"Tok'ra?" Jack asked; his distaste evident.

"Yes. Erm, when Anise first showed up with the zatarc device we had a few discussions about the use of the memory device with this technology. I had some misgivings..."

"Yeah, me too," Jack muttered.

"...and Anise explained how she had done a lot of research into memory recall. She gave me a sample of this drug, suggesting it may be useful in helping to cure amnesia."

"But, I hear a but," interjected Jack.

"Quite right, Colonel. The problem was it worked too well. Every single memory, the trivial to the trauma, everything that ever happened to the subject would be brought to the fore. The mind would be swamped. Things the mind would normally keep hidden for our protection were laid bare. There was no protection for the psyche."

"All right, bottom line. What does all this mean for Daniel?"

"The doctor has come to me with a suggestion. She believes this drug will affect Dr. Jackson for approximately another twenty-four hours and during that time she wants to question him."

"Now wait a minute, question him about what?" Jack looked from one to the other and he realised with something of a shock what they were talking about. "You don't believe him; that he doesn't remember." He shot to feet, looming over the desk. "I don't believe this!"

"Sit down, Colonel!" Hammond commanded.

Jack flushed and immediately regained his seat.

"No one is impugning Dr. Jackson's honesty; there is no question of not believing him. What Dr. Fraiser is suggesting is that while he is still susceptible to this drug we attempt to help him recall his time with the Ascended."

"Not for our benefit, Colonel but for his."

"I apologise," Jack said and for once he was totally serious. "I still feel guilty as hell that he sacrificed his existence as an Ascended for me. He claims not to mind, says he knows he did it by choice so he's okay with it." He rose again this time not in anger but in anxiety.

"You want him to remember too," Fraiser said.

"I think maybe I need him to. I need him to be sure it was worth it, y'know?"

There was a moment's silence. Jack O'Neill was not often that open with his deeper emotions, to those who knew him it was quite telling.

Hammond cleared his throat before saying, "As we're all agreed I suggest we proceed immediately."

Daniel was ready to climb the walls when Jack finally came back with Dr. Fraiser in tow. He began to smile but it froze when he noticed the expression on Jack's face.

"What is it?" He glanced over at Janet. "Doc, it's the drug, I'm stuck with it aren't I? Oh, god."

"No, Daniel. The test results suggest that in less than twenty-four hours it will have dissipated in your blood stream. You'll be back to normal."

"Gee, whatever passes for normal for Daniel," interposed Jack.

"Thanks, Jack." Actually Daniel was relieved that Jack seemed to have relaxed enough to throw quips at him.

Jack turned to Teal'c who was standing stoically at the foot of Daniel's bed. "Thanks T, I'll take over now, wanna have a talk with Daniel."

"As you wish." He nodded to Daniel and left.

Daniel looked from one to the other as both Jack and Doc Fraiser pulled up a chair each and sat down. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"Nothing is wrong, we just want to ask you some questions," Dr. Fraiser said.

"Questions? What sort of questions? There is something wrong or you wouldn't want to ask me questions now, while this damned drug was affecting me."

"It's because the drug is still affecting you, Danny, that we want to ask the questions. Doc here believes the drug could help you remember the time when you were with the Ascended. Wouldn't you like to remember?"

"Of course I want to remember. Oma was remarkable, what would it have been like to...." Daniel took a breath. "I want to remember it all Jack, I want to remember helping you. I want to remember, I want to remember."

"All right. Dr. Fraiser knows a little about a part of the drug that was taken from the Tok'ra that affects the memory. She thinks she can help."

"Help me how?"

"You are naturally fighting the drug..."

"Stubborn as ever," added a grinning Jack.

"...and we need you to give in. I'm going to relax you, help release your subconscious. Then when the Colonel questions you it should be much easier."

"Jack is going to be asking the questions?"

"Unless you object?" asked the doctor.

"No, I'd rather it was Jack."

"So much the better. I think it would best to do this in a private room."

"How about one of the VIP suites, well out of the way?" Jack wondered.

"Fine. Let's get you moved."

It had been like a dam breaking.

Not immediately, Jack had been asking him questions for about fifteen minutes. He started with the Kheb incident and then worked forward, hesitantly asking questions about Oma's visit during his radiation poisoning. That had been hard for both of them. Then he began to ask what happened next. Asking what it looked like, what it felt like. Did he meet others like Oma? At first all Daniel could say, over and over, was that he didn't remember; until something surfaced. Once that first memory emerged he couldn't stop the memories breaking over him, and just like the water from a bursting dam he was swamped.

Emotions roiled through him and he lost control. Some time later he was surprised to find himself tightly held in Jack's arms while he cried as Janet Fraiser hovered in the background.

"I came as soon as I could, Colonel," she said.

"What's that?" Jack asked his eyes indicating the syringe in her hand.

"In case Daniel might need something."

"Don't ya think he's got enough damned drugs in him already!"

Jack had been shattered by Daniel's apparent emotional collapse. He resorted to embracing his friend when nothing else would get through to him. He'd already contacted the Doc when nothing he could say seemed to get through to Daniel. A short time after sitting on the bed and pulling Daniel into his embrace, the younger man leaned into him, his hands gripping the older man's jacket. Jack wondered if the memories were so bad that they hurt, or so beautiful that Daniel hurt because he had been forced to leave such an existence behind. Was Daniel finding he had cause to regret what had happened; was Jack himself the cause for that regret?

"No more," Daniel gasped between the sobs wracking him. "Please." He managed to control the sobs, taking a few deep breaths. The tears still ran down his face.

"Daniel? Are you all right?" asked Dr. Fraiser.

Jack watched as Daniel opened the eyes that had been so tightly closed, afraid of what he might see when those eyes turned on him.

"No, but I will be," Daniel replied softly, his voice breaking a little.

The words echoed in Jack's mind, heard so many years before following yet another harrowing experience for his friend.

As Daniel pulled back from his embrace, Jack felt the loss acutely but sensing his friend needed the distance, Jack released him and climbed off the bed. When he turned to look at his friend it was to see Daniel's head dipped and his arms wrapped around his chest. Jack glanced at Dr. Fraiser who met his gaze squarely. Obviously neither of them knew what the hell to do next.

"Erm," Daniel's soft voice spoke up, "do you think I could have a little time to myself?"

"Of course, call me if you need anything," the doctor said turning to leave.

Jack turned to follow her but stopped. He watched as she closed the door before turning back. "Daniel, I'm sorry if this didn't work out as ya wanted, if ya now wish ya hadn't helped me escape from Ba'al..." he hesitated as Daniel finally looked up at him, for once his expressive eyes unreadable. "I'm just sorry y'know?" Jack turned and walked quickly out of the door.

Daniel watched as Jack left the room. Sorry that I helped you Jack? Oh no. When I read the report of what you went through that was bad enough but to actually remember? Oh Jack, why the hell did it take me so long!

He could remember every moment of the last few months now and though some of it had been absolutely remarkable, none of it was worth the life of the man who had just walked out of that door. For some inexplicable reason Jack seemed to believe that his need to be alone was because his memories would make him regret what he'd done. He had meant what he told Jack when he'd still been recovering from the sarcophagus withdrawal, that he'd made the choice when he knew what the cost would be. Those words had almost been glib, simply based on common sense though no less for that. Now he knew exactly why he had made that choice and exactly what it had cost him. Regrets? He wouldn't be honest if he said he didn't have any but they were only fleeting, things for dreams and fantasies. The reality of his life wasn't fleeting and he hoped he could spend however long he had left, with the man he now knew for certain he loved more than life.

He smiled at the image of that consummately confident man who could yet be so unsure of his worth that he couldn't believe someone could give up everything for him. Oh Jack when the time comes I'm going to show you just how much you are valued.

The real reason he needed to be alone just now was to get to grips with his memories, so that he wouldn't be so overwhelmed that he wasn't quite sure of the order or consequence of some of them. He wanted to sift and catalogue, he laughed at himself then, still thinking in those terms. Line up the books neatly on the shelf, alphabetical order or maybe it should be chronological.

His mind wandered back again, to the look in Jack's eyes as he left the room earlier. I've got to stop meandering and get hold of myself. Jack's worrying himself sick about something that doesn't exist. Stop contemplating your navel and move it, Jackson!

Janet had waited in the corridor for Colonel O'Neill to follow her out of the VIP room. She knew how guilty he had been feeling and she guessed that now Daniel had got all his own memories back that guilt would've returned with a vengeance. The Colonel always had a mother-hen streak a mile wide when it came to Daniel Jackson and any perceived failure on his part weighed heavily on his conscience. This may be a reversal of that scenario but she didn't expect that to make any difference, except perhaps to multiply his guilt complex. The man seemed to need to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders and the only person comparable to him was Daniel Jackson. What a pair!

Just then the door opened and Jack came out; one glance at his expression and she knew she was right.

"Colonel, why don't you come to my office?" she asked in her no-nonsense voice.

"No, that ain't necessary," he began.

"Necessary? Maybe not but I think it might help." This time it was a friend speaking not his doctor. He glanced at her and frowned. "Jack, come on I've got a stash and I think we could both do with one."

"Is it brandy?" he asked with a grin.

"What you mean, medicinal?"


A relaxed mellow Jack was lounging in the chair opposite Janet. They'd been reminiscing over the good and bad times when Daniel had ended up in the infirmary. It was remarkable how much fun and laughter occurred in a place associated with pain and death.

Janet didn't often resort to the alcohol she kept in her desk drawer. She did use it in a medicinal way, for herself occasionally after a really, really bad day. It was for those in need, whether it was the General or an Airman in shock. Or in this case, a Colonel who rarely allowed himself the release he needed. She suspected the only person who ever saw the real Jack was the man he was worrying about. It was a relationship that shouldn't have worked; two such opposites, yet two closer friends she'd never met.

The phone rang and Jack sat up straight in his chair, eyes on it. She picked it up. "Fraiser. Oh, hi, Daniel. I see, okay. Maybe. I'll come by in a few minutes." She replaced the receiver.

Jack raised an eyebrow in query. "He's okay, asked if he can go home," she told him.

"And can he?"

"I'm not sure. He's physically okay; we're really just waiting for the drug to clear his system. If he's coping with the memory return and he seems to be."


"But it'll be twelve hours before his system is clear and I should keep him on base until then. Besides the health issue there's the security problem."

"Could he go home if he wasn't alone? I could take him to my place."

"Is that an offer, Colonel?" she grinned.

"If it's what he wants and you agree, sure. He was gonna stay with me anyway, if ya remember."

"God, that seems so long ago now."

"Yep. Time to get things back on track. Surely, I've got all the security clearance necessary. You know I won't let him outta my sight."

"All right, I'll see what I can do, but I can't promise. It's up to the General."

By the time they'd finally gotten permission for Daniel to leave and he'd undergone all the last minute examinations Dr. Fraiser wanted and passed through all the security checks, at least half of the expected twelve hours had passed. Jack promised himself that he wouldn't ask Daniel any leading questions although the Doc had run through a couple of tests and said it looked as if the drug may clear his system sooner than they estimated.

As he slowed to take the bend, Jack took the opportunity to glance over at Daniel sitting quietly in the passenger seat. His head was leaning back against the headrest and he looked relaxed, eyes mere slits. It struck him as odd that here he was driving Daniel home from the infirmary when only a couple of days ago Daniel was planning to bring him home. Trying to get Daniel to talk, he said as much to the younger man. Daniel just smiled.

Jack frowned for a moment, smiling as he realised what would do it. "Must be frustrating to owe your freedom to Harry Maybourne."

"Harry Maybourne?"

"Yep. Needed a lead. NID, so who else?"

"And what did that cost?"

Jack noted that Daniel's reply was much more normal. He hadn't answered the question but asked one of his own. Jack purposely didn't draw attention to it. "Just a favour when he needs one."

Daniel frowned at that. "That's all?"

Jack grinned, "He likes ya."

"And?" Daniel asked with a raised eyebrow.

"He don't like Kinsey and Simmons."


Jack turned into his street and pulled up in the driveway. Daniel got out of the truck and walked to the front door, waiting for Jack to open up and then he preceded his host into the living room. Both men glanced at each other nervously; now the moment had finally arrived.

Daniel moved away to sit on the sofa and Jack headed to the kitchen and glancing over his shoulder, called out, "Drink, Daniel?" Followed a moment later by, "Beer or juice?"

"Juice please." Alcohol is so not a good idea.

Jack came back carrying two glasses of juice at which Daniel raised an eyebrow. Jack obviously agreed with Daniel's unspoken no alcohol ruling.

Sitting in the chair opposite; Jack sipped from his glass watching Daniel who sat with his eyes cast down, apparently studying the carpet. Sensing the scrutiny, he glanced up. Jack seemed about to speak but took a sip of his drink instead.

Daniel took a quick gulp of his juice, looking at Jack and admiring the view as he recalled the promise he made himself that he wouldn't go another day without declaring his love for him; and that had been almost two days ago. He took a breath and began to speak.

"Jack, do you remember when you rescued me and we had that little talk?"

"Course," replied Jack, his voice a little hesitant.

"That question, the last one that...that I..."

"Oh, god yes, of course I remember. I should never have done that to you. I'm sorry, I just..."

"You just what? Needed to know?"

Jack nodded and said softly, "Yeah."

"And I wanted to tell you but not like that. Not under the influence of some drug. I wanted you to be sure, to know it was me talking. We've found something special, I believe and I wanted to talk to you when we were alone and I could," he hesitated, a smile lighting up his face, "tell you properly what you mean to me."

The smile spreading over Daniel's face took Jack's breath away and he could only stare as Daniel stood up and moved towards him. He stopped just in front of Jack's chair.

"Regaining my memories didn't make me doubt what I'd done, didn't make me regret for one instant that I gave up ascension for you. It only made me see the choices I had and the decision I made was the correct one. I also remembered other things, Jack. I remembered that you loved me." Daniel held out his hands.

Jack was in a state of confusion, elated with what he'd heard yet shaken to his core. His eyes held Daniel's for a long moment before tracking down to the hands held out to him. He gingerly reached up to take them and Daniel pulled him into an embrace, resting his head on Jack's shoulder to whisper in his ear, "I love you, Jack."

The soft words breathed against Jack's skin sent a frisson of delight shooting through him and he felt tears prick at his eyes. He wasn't a man who cried easily, his emotions were always held under tight control but that this gentle compassionate man could care for him was a revelation that reached deep down into his soul.

He pulled back to look into Daniel's face, he wanted to see the younger man's eyes and let Daniel see his. "Daniel, I don't understand what could possibly make you love me but I'll be grateful until the day I die that you do. I love ya so much it hurts."

Daniel rubbed his hands up and down Jack's arms in a soothing motion, smiling. "I love you because under that brusque exterior is a man who cares, a man who protects no matter what the cost to himself. You keep so much of yourself hidden, I think even from yourself on occasion but you let me see, Jack and for that trust I thank you. You took me in from that first day and never let me out of your sight. I'm not pretending we didn't have our disagreements, our fights but I also understand now as I didn't at the time; it was because you cared, too much."

"I think ya see too much in me," Jack said gruffly.

"I only see what's there, Jack."

"I think ya see what ya wanna see."

"You're telling me you're not worth loving, that I shouldn't love you?"

"God, no please. I need you. Never realised how much till you weren't there anymore. I never want to go through that again. If you can find something in me to love then I'm blessed. Never stop, never leave me again."

They leaned into each other, foreheads touching for a moment until they parted slightly before gently touching lips. They quickly parted again, grinning at each other before once again joining in a kiss, this time more passionate, more demanding. Jack licked along Daniel's lower lip asking for entrance and Daniel gladly allowed him in where their tongues touched and tasted, dancing in and out of each other's mouths. They finally broke gasping for breath between smiles and silly grins.

"I feel like a teenager," Jack said when he could finally speak.

"Teenager?" Daniel grinned.

"Yeah, you remember don't ya? Nerves and hormones."

"My teenage years aren't something worth remembering," Daniel said ruefully. "You must tell me about yours sometime though," he added with a smile. "I get the impression that it could be educational."

Jack laughed, his eyes dancing. Then he said seriously, "Talking of education, do you know much about ..."

"Homosexuality? A little, I've dabbled shall we say."

"Dabbled? I never heard it called that before!"

Daniel giggled, he actually giggled. Jack was enchanted and reached out to pull the younger man into his arms. The giggle was swallowed as Jack took his mouth in a bruising kiss. Daniel clamped his arms around Jack, demonstrating his strength as he tried to pull his colonel close enough to climb inside his skin. When they broke apart this time there were no smiles, no grins. They both just stared at each other as if they couldn't see anyone else.

Jack had never felt more alive, more connected to anyone. They had joked for years about their ability to read each other's minds, to know what the other wanted and for the first time he really believed that was possible. He could sense how near the edge Daniel was and he was suddenly scared of that next step. It had been so long, he was afraid to disappoint Daniel. As crazy as it sounded, it was too soon. He reached out and brushed the back of his hand across Daniel's cheek and cocking his head the younger man looked at him, giving a small frown.

"I think perhaps we should take it slow, it's so"

"Overwhelming?" Daniel said with a slight smile.

"Yeah," Jack replied softly.

"Okay. For now," Daniel agreed tenderly. As if coming to a decision he continued. "Look, I could do with a shower, didn't take one on base, wanted to get, as soon as I could."

"Sure and while you do that I'll make us sandwiches and coffee, ya gotta be hungry."

"Yeah, I am," replied Daniel huskily and Jack felt a thrill as he realised his companion wasn't talking about food.

Daniel stepped under the shower lifting his arms into the spray, celebrating that they'd finally admitted their feelings to each other. Now his fantasy could become reality. Letting the warm water soothe him, he leaned back against the tiled wall and imagined touching Jack. Imagined his fingers brushing Jack's lips, amazed at how soft they felt; then his fingers continued down to the hollow of his neck, down the older man's firm chest, through the surprisingly soft chest hair to circle his nipples before moving down his belly to finally stroke his cock.

Downstairs Jack sat on the sofa, coffee and sandwiches waiting on the table before him. He leaned back settling comfortably. At last! I have everything I want. Well almost. He heard the water running in the bathroom above and visualised a naked Danny under the caressing water. He closed his eyes and began to fantasise what it would be like being in the shower with him. He imagined he felt Danny's elegant fingers caress his lips and wander down his neck, tease his nipples before travelling down to take his cock. He felt the tender touch as those long fingers dance up and down his length, gasping at the sensation. He opened his eyes. Why the fuck did I suggest we take it slow, god!

Eyes widening as he realised the sensation lingered and he still felt those gentle touches eliciting such a fiery reaction throughout his whole body. God it feels so wonderful, so *real*. Yet he was no longer fantasising, how could this be? He closed his eyes again to savour the phenomenon and was dazed to realise he could not only feel Daniel, he could smell him, smell that unique blend of humanity that could only be one person. He smiled as he also acknowledged that he could sense Daniel's presence. Maybe he was letting his imagination run away with him but it all seemed so real. It seemed even more real as the sensations faded and he acutely felt their loss.

That was incredible. I could feel him, sense him, yet I'm alone. My god, it's not possible is it? He had amazing powers, could it be...residual?

Daniel towelled himself dry thinking how incredible that had felt; he'd never had such a realistic fantasy before. It'd almost been as if Jack was there with him! He draped a towel around his waist and padded to the spare, his, bedroom, to find some clothes to put on. When he'd been here the other day, god it seemed a lifetime ago now, he discovered Jack had kept quite a few of his clothes in the bedroom closet. He dressed in a pair of charcoal sweats and a light grey tee.

He opened the door to go downstairs and see his love, only to come face to face with the reality leaning against the opposite wall.


Jack smiled, thinking how beautiful Daniel was, as he moved forward to tenderly trace his lips. Daniel sighed and leaned into the caress.

"I know I suggested we take things slow but can a man in love change his mind?"

"Oh, god yes!" Daniel said wrapping his arms around Jack and pulling him in for a kiss filled with promise.

As the passion ignited and they seemed to have more than two hands each, Jack managed to edge Daniel along the hall to his bedroom. Laughing he pulled back turning Daniel to face the open door and keeping his hands on either side of his young lover's waist, my lover, cool, he walked him towards the bed.

Jack took off his glasses and placed them carefully on the nightstand then he ran his hands over Daniel's chest before slipping them under the tee-shirt and feeling his skin for the first time. Daniel saw the shiver that ran through Jack and he revelled in the knowledge that he could do that to him. Jack lifted his hands up taking the shirt with him and Daniel obliged by lifting his arms so Jack could remove it. Dropping the shirt while somehow never losing contact with Daniel's arms, Jack ran his hands up and down until he finally moved them over the younger man's shoulders and began to rub tiny circles over his back. Daniel gasped at the sensations Jack was causing in him. He leaned in to capture Jack's mouth in a passionate kiss.

Daniel finally pulled away to ask, "Jack, how ...uh...experienced are you?"

"Mmm?" Jack muttered still engrossed in discovering his lover's body, hands moving lower to slip inside the waistband of his pants.

Daniel laughed and tried again. "Jack, how far have you gone?"

"Gone?" Jack frowned puzzled.

"With another man Jack, have you ever made love?"

"Ah," Jack said finally getting with the picture. "Made love no, Danny, this will be the first," he smiled. "If you mean have I ever fucked? Yes, a couple of times but it was a long time ago. You?" He casually asked but Daniel understood. He felt jealous of the nameless men who had touched Jack; he knew it was pointless, meaningless but he couldn't help it.

"Yeah and like you it's been quite a while."

"We don't have to; I can show you how much I love you in other ways. We can try that later," Jack said hesitantly.

"We could but I don't want to. Do you really want us to wait?"

"Hell, no. I'd like to feel you Danny, inside, to know we belong. Y'know?"

"You got lube?"

"Crap, never had chance. Find something."

"I got some; thought maybe we'd need it," he smiled teasingly.

Jack laughed. "Daniel Jackson, boy scout. Who knew!"

"Always be prepared, that's my motto!" Daniel grinned, hands reaching to pull off Jack's shirt.

In no time at all they were both naked, lying in the centre of Jack's bed tenderly caressing each other and learning the contours and texture of each other's bodies. Kisses were long and languorous until Daniel broke away and began kissing his way down Jack's body until he reached his goal. He looked up and smiled at Jack who was watching him with eyes dark with passion. Daniel licked along the length of Jack's cock paying particular to the tip where he swirled his tongue around the head, before opening his mouth to take Jack in.

Jack gasped as he felt the warm heat surround him and he jerked as he felt Daniel suck and lick him, his mouth drawing back to the head before once again taking him to the root. Daniel managed to uncap the lube and spread a little on his fingers as he kept up a steady rhythm. Jack was moaning now, his hands gripping the sheet beneath as he lifted his hips off the bed. The sounds that Jack was making excited Daniel and he sucked harder as Jack began to thrust slightly against him. It had been sometime since Daniel had done this but he'd not lost his touch as Jack's head thrashed from side to side and his groans were interspersed with mutterings. "Oh, yes, that's it. Danny, please."

The murmuring and groans turned to yelps when Daniel slid a finger under Jack's balls, along his perineum to his puckered opening. His finger circled the opening gently before pressing it against the ring of muscle. Jack was obviously tight and Daniel had no intention of breaching him without plenty of preparation. He carefully worked his finger inside, opening up his lover as much as he could before adding a second finger. Jack was squirming and crying out now, words long since gone and replaced by moans deep in the throat, accompanied by soft cries. Daniel was so turned on by how much Jack reacted to his lovemaking.

He lifted his head to look at Jack's face to see his eyes tightly closed, face flushed and sweating, lower lip gripped by his teeth. The sight slammed right through to Daniel's groin and it was almost painful. He was ready but he needed to wait until Jack was fully prepared. He went down again, taking Jack to the root continuing his preparation of Jack's anus. It was more open and relaxed now but he needed to insert one last finger to stretch him as much he could, he wouldn't cause his love pain.

The groans increased in volume and Daniel felt Jack's balls tighten knowing he was near now. Daniel sucked harder and felt Jack's thrusts increase as Daniel finally found what he was seeking. As he massaged that particular spot Jack arched off the bed and cried out leaving Daniel to hold him in place as Jack's orgasm flashed through him, Daniel swallowing as quickly as he could, trying to take it all in.

Feeling smug and happy Daniel collapsed on the bed, flinging one arm across Jack's chest. Jack was gasping, trying to control his breathing as his heart pounded against his ribs. He'd never experienced such a feeling before when Daniel massaged his prostate just as his orgasm was racing up from his toes. He'd never quite believed such euphemisms as coming like a train; now he did.

"My...god...Danny...that was...fucking amazing!"

"Pretty amazing yourself, Jack."

Jack glanced down at Daniel and saw he was still rock hard. "Wow, think someone needs help," he said, slowly rolling towards Daniel, his fingers drifting down his belly towards Daniel's cock.

"I am damned close. Just one touch from you, love and I'll explode. I want to be inside you when that happens. Roll over for me?"

"I want to watch you, I need to see your face."

Daniel understood, watching Jack's expression had been such a turn on. "It's easier the other way but if that's what you want."




Daniel grinned as he lubed his cock, Jack's eyes never leaving his. He positioned himself between Jack's spread legs, which he hooked over his shoulders.

"Ready love?"

"For you, Danny? Always."

Danny carefully lined himself up and pressed against Jack's opening. Jack was prepared for a little pain but was pleasantly surprised when all he felt was a burning sensation as Daniel penetrated. He tried to relax as much as he could as Daniel slowly pushed forward. Daniel was trying to go slowly and easily, carefully watching Jack's face for any signs of discomfort and was relieved when Jack smiled back at him. Daniel glided forward again until he was completely sheathed inside Jack. He closed his eyes for a moment at the sensation of being buried inside his lover.

Jack watched Daniel as he closed his eyes, knowing the ecstasy that his lover was feeling. God he's so beautiful, he's glowing. Danny, my Danny. Having Daniel inside him filled him with awe. He never wanted this wonderous feeling to end, he and Daniel were truly part of each other and it was perfect.

Daniel opened his eyes to find Jack looking at him with an expression of such love that he gasped, feeling a heat heavy in his chest. He smiled as he began to move slowly at first, then increasing his rhythm as Jack threw back his head as Daniel brushed his prostate, creating a spark that ignited a fire along Jack's nerves.

"Oh god, Danny. Again, do that again. Faster, Danny faster."

Daniel smiled even now he's giving me orders. "Happy to comply Jack, happy," and he really was, so very happy. He lifted himself a little to get a better angle so that every time he slammed forward now he hit Jack's prostate.

"Ohgodohgodohgod...Danny. Love ya..."

"Jack...oh this is so...ooh...Jack!"

He'd known he couldn't last and he could feel the sensation building. "I'm gonna come, Jack. I can't hold's..."

Jack was determined to see Danny's face as he came. He lifted his head slightly and watched as Daniel threw his head back muttering as he slammed into Jack, faster and faster. Daniel's head came forward searching out Jack's eyes as his orgasm tore through him. As it did so a wealth of emotions spread through Jack's being and he watched in awe as an aura of light spread out from Daniel's chest to surround them both before fading.

Daniel moaned and collapsed into Jack's arms and holding him, Jack felt his own tears run down his cheeks.

"Danny, Danny love. That was...I don't know what that was. Are you okay?"

"Mmm, what? Complete so complete. Tired. Love you Jack."

"I know. Love you."

"Danny, you came back from the Abyss for me and I'll never let you go anywhere ever again for as long as we live. Ya hear?"

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