Echo's Destiny by Imagine
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Established Relationship, Hurt/Comfort
Rated: Adult
Warnings: Adult Themes
Series: Echo Trilogy
Summary: A desperate Daniel escapes through the quantum mirror to another reality. Does he find a refuge? What differences occurred in this universe?

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Author's Chapter Notes:
AU character death. Violence, mention of torture. Tissue warning!
He hurried down the corridors keeping as quiet as he could, slipping into and out of doorways to hide at the slightest sound. If he was caught he would be killed or worse and he'd promised to do everything humanly possible to live. He sometimes wished he'd never made that promise to his dying lover.

He heard the heavy sounds of footsteps and moved as quickly and quietly as he could into the room at the end of the hall. Just one more storeroom full of large boxes and odd shapes covered in tarpaulin, one more storeroom they hadn't yet got around to searching. Because as yet they were too busy killing, having too much fun torturing the men and women of the SGC who'd had the misfortune to survive the slaughter. A few had been imprisoned in the cells, those who were younger and good looking, the kind they were keeping to make into Jaffa or, as Daniel had been promised, hosts.

He'd been kept in one of the cells for around twelve hours and had only managed to escape when they were taking him to his office. The First Prime had ordered he be sent there because they'd found some tablets they recognized as being in the Ancient's language and they wanted him to translate.

They made the mistake of judging him on his profession and the fact that he wasn't military only bothering to send one Jaffa with him. Thanking all the gods in every pantheon for the fact that both Jack and Teal'c had insisted he work hard and train thoroughly to learn self-defence, he waited until they were in his office well away from any other Jaffa. With a technique taught to him by Teal'c and using all the power of his shoulder and upper arm muscles, he drove his locked wrist and fingers straight into the Jaffa's pouch, killing the young symbiote. His action caught the unprepared Jaffa totally by surprise and the man dropped to his knees in shock and pain. From the desk to the right, Daniel grabbed the statue of Motabo, the war god from PY2 356, and smashed it down on the bent head of the Jaffa. Appropriate use for that artefact, Daniel thought vaguely.

He looked at the dead Jaffa sprawled at his feet and Daniel Jackson, the man who at every turn fought and cajoled his friend, his C.O. and eventually his lover, to speak before shooting, felt nothing. No remorse, no sorrow for the life he took; no guilt for his own action. That man had died piece by piece as he watched his co-workers, his friends, his team-mates and finally the man who meant more to him than his own life, die before his eyes. His soul was so full of grief he had no room for any other emotion.

The only thing that kept him going now was the memory of the last words of the three people he had loved.

Sam Carter, pseudo-sibling who provided a shoulder to cry on, an ear always prepared to listen whether it be to lectures, complaints or secrets and who would happily share her own problems, complaints and secrets with him. That much of it, from both of them, was about Jack, which annoyed their friend no end, provided them with the biggest laugh of all. She had died protecting his back as he tried to contact Major Davis. In the end he failed and all he could do was drag her out of the control room and hold her as she told him she loved him and 'to get his ass out of there and go find the others' before her eyes slid shut and she died with a slight smile on her face.

He wanted to stay and hug her and let his tears fall but instead he laid her down and ran to find Jack and Teal'c. It had been Jack who'd sent Sam and him to try and get help while he led the rest of the SCG, those who could still fight that was, to hold the Jaffa and the Goa'uld in the Gateroom and surrounding corridors.

SG9 who was due back through the Gate, had just sent a message that they were on their way back. There had been a slight delay while the control room operator was waiting for the iris code but instead it had exploded inwards. The attacking Goa'uld had technology that could smash through the iris using some new kind of sound weapon. The usual small compliment of SFs that were stationed at the heart of the SGCs operations stood no chance. Some were killed or incapacitated by the high pitched sound wave which accompanied the explosion, while others were killed by the Jaffa storming through the Gate.

The control room duty staff watched in horror, as the bodies of SG9 were casually tossed through the Gate. The only conclusion was that the team had been surprised and killed as they were about to gate home.

Without an iris, and with an open wormhole, the SGC was at the mercy of the attacking Jaffa. They had no idea which Goa'uld it was, Teal'c hadn't recognized the emblem the Jaffa wore and the few Jaffa they had managed to capture wouldn't talk.

They fought like demons, odd choice of description Daniel mused as he remembered those all too short hours of desperation; their numbers dwindling inexorably as they defended an ever-decreasing area against an ever-increasing tide of enemy Jaffa.

Hammond died whilst blocking the lift shafts by setting explosives. They were trapped below ground with the invaders, though no one was stupid enough to believe that given time they wouldn't find a way out of the mountain and on to the planet above. All they could do was buy time.

They managed to get one message out before communications were destroyed, though the more detailed information Daniel had been trying to get to Davis at the Pentagon had been foiled.

They knew it was only a matter of time before they were overrun. There was no way to escape through the Gate, or to contact their allies for help. Assuming, of course, they'd have received help anyway.

Their numbers were now down to below twenty and it was more like hit and run tactics that Jack was now employing.

O'Neill knew they only had two options left to them. Both only offered a slim chance of success but it was all they had. He split the remaining personnel who had managed to gather together at the pre-agreed meeting point into three groups.

One option was to head for the escape shafts, climb out of the mountain and get more information to the brass. Jack sent two of the groups to try different shafts, hoping that at least one team would make it.

Jack would lead the third team, consisting of Teal'c, Daniel, Major Dalton, Captain Shelby and Sergeant Davies. Their target was the most dangerous, to attempt to use Hammond's emergency back door. To do so they had to reach the lowest levels and get to storeroom TH1. The room code had been Jack's idea of a joke; Trojan horse one, it didn't seem funny any more. The Trojan horse really was a last ditch attempt. Escape might be something of a misnomer, for, if they reached their destination, the odds were they wouldn't be coming back; at least not any time soon.

Jack had considered, for all of about two seconds, sending Daniel with one of the other teams but he couldn't bear to leave his friend behind. It would have also meant leaving Teal'c with Daniel and Jack would've missed him too. Not that either man would have let him go alone in any case.

Dalton and Shelby scouted ahead, the others following carefully and watching for any Jaffa. Jack had told Daniel to stay close to him and Teal'c took it upon himself to cover their six.

They heard firing and staff weapon blasts in the distance, one of the other teams had obviously met strong resistance. Jack told them all to be vigilant and they moved carefully towards their goal. Suddenly Teal'c called a warning and a staff blast shattered the wall over Daniel's head. The next few minutes consisted of running, ducking and firing until they managed to hole up in one of the science labs.

Teal'c was the next one to be struck down.

While Dalton, Shelby and Davies guarded the door Jack and Daniel tried to make a mortally wounded Teal'c comfortable in his last few moments. Teal'c muttered in his native language and Jack asked Daniel to interpret what his friend was saying.

"He is praying that we escape, that we live free. He says that while one man lives free the human race is not enslaved. That was why he fought to stay free, for his people. He says we must never give up, no matter the cost to the individual."

Those were his last words; he died a few minutes later.

Dalton yelled then that Jaffa reinforcements had arrived and they had no time to mourn as they were again fighting for their lives. When, to Daniel's horror, less then fifteen minutes later Jack was wounded, Daniel dragged him out of the science lab by a narrow passageway leading to one of the testing areas.

Daniel had thought to try and get Jack to Janet Fraiser who had been with one of the other groups heading for the escape shafts but Jack begged him to stop. The older man knew there was nothing that could be done for him. Even if Janet had still had her infirmary his wound was too severe and in the present circumstances he didn't have a hope in hell.

"Daniel...Danny just hold me," he breathed.

With tears running down his cheeks Daniel wrapped his arms around the man he loved more than his own life.

"Hush, Danny. Don't cry for me. I don't want to die, I don't want to leave you but... I need you to know that you've made me so happy. Gave me back the life I lost when Charlie died." Jack gulped and as he gasped for a breath Daniel wasn't sure if it was the emotional memories affecting him, or his wound. With a determination born of desperation Jack continued, "I love you more than I can ever say. I know I haven't told you that as often as I should but never, never doubt it."

"Oh Jack, I know, I've always known, never doubted because you showed me every day. In your smile, in your touch, in your glance."

Jack had smiled then and tenderly brushed Daniel's cheek even as he gasped for ever-decreasing breaths.

"Jack, oh Jack. No, no. I can't lose you, I can't. Please."

"Sorry...Danny. Want to ...stay... Promise me...promise?"

"What? Anything, Jack anything."


"I promise. What?"

"You'll ...survive. For for me, Danny. Live."

Jack made him promise and Daniel would never break his word. Daniel cried as Jack died in his arms. Then he swore never to cry again and to live for Jack, whatever it took.

That promise was all he had left now.

It was not long after that all resistance failed and any survivors were taken prisoner. Not one of the teams managed to escape; they either died or were taken.

Daniel and Shelby were the only survivors from their group, captured when they couldn't escape from the science labs and they were imprisoned in the holding cells. They heard some screaming from the other end of the cellblock and the Jaffa were quite happy to inform them that some of their prisoners were being - euphemistically - questioned.

After a few hours of wondering when their turn would come, the First Prime visited them. There were seven prisoners in their cell, three men including Daniel and four women and there were another half dozen men in the next cell. The First Prime informed them they had been chosen as suitable hosts whilst those in the adjoining cell would make excellent Jaffa.

Daniel was horrified and he prayed that Jack would understand that if he found a way to end his life he would. Jack would forgive him for not keeping his promise if the only way he could survive would be as a host.

So when the Goa'uld sent down a message to bring Daniel to his office he realized a rare chance had presented itself. He would either escape or die in the attempt. It did not occur to him at that time to wonder how the Goa'uld knew who he was, or that he was among the prisoners.

A chance at escape still existed if only he could just make it to the storeroom. Being imprisoned in the cell with only his memories and not wishing to think about the pain of the last few hours, he cast his mind back to happier times when his team had travelled through the Gate. He recalled the trip to PR3 256 over a year ago where they'd found it; another quantum mirror.

Hammond had ordered it brought back in secret and stored at the SGC. The general knew, of course, how dangerous they could be and he had no wish for it to fall into the hands of the NID but after too many close shaves he wanted the possibility of a last ditch escape. The last resort of a desperate commander was the self-destruct but he was smart enough to realize even that might be beyond them in an extreme case. Hence, the general arranged for what he liked to call the fallback position to be hidden in an obscure storeroom in the bowels of the mountain. He'd ordered Daniel to keep the controller locked in the safe in his office.

That thought reminded Daniel that he'd ducked in here not just to escape the pursuing Jaffa. He looked at the controller in his hand and glanced towards the rear of the storeroom where he could see the large draped object against the back wall. He glanced towards the door considering if it would be wise to lock it and decided against it as it might just prove to any searching patrol that there was someone, or something to hide in that room. Almost as if on cue he heard the heavy footsteps again and this time they weren't just marching past, they were coming in his direction.

Daniel ran swiftly to the tarpaulin but rather than pull it off the mirror, he slipped under it instead. He carefully put the controller in a zipped pocket. It wasn't necessary to use it to programme the mirror, as it had never been changed since it had been found and brought to the facility. He and Jack, oh god, Jack... He and Jack had travelled through the mirror briefly when it was still on PR3 256 and as expected, had arrived at an alternative version of the planet. Stepping through now should transport him to that same location. He had no wish to change the setting, as only a short distance from the mirror on that planet there was a Stargate.

From there he could go...where? There would be time for such decisions when he'd escaped from this... nightmare.

He reached out to touch the naquada frame and even as he stepped through the mirror he heard the door to the storeroom opening so, when he arrived on the other side, he quickly moved away from the mirror and took refuge behind one of the sections of broken wall scattering the landscape. They'd never discovered exactly what had happened on this planet but whatever had occurred, it had been devastating. He'd arrived in the middle of the ruins of a large city where the only things still existing in one piece were the mirror, held between two huge slabs of stone and backed by what had once been a large wall, and the Stargate set on the usual platform.

Because he had literally been running for his life he had no supplies with him except what he carried in his pockets, which was next to nothing. As there was no indigenous population on this world he could expect no help. He'd managed to pick up some survival skills during the time he spent on SG1 but he had no illusions about surviving on an unknown world without any basic supplies and no weapons. He didn't even have water though he was pretty sure he could find some. If this had been an SG1 mission Sam would have tested any water they found before they'd be allowed to drink it but he had no such luxury. Not any more, never again. He felt his eyes tear up at the thought and he shook his head to clear the images. He had no time to mourn yet; he'd have a lifetime for that once he was safe. Safe, god! What a joke!

He needed help and he had to think of somewhere he could claim sanctuary and hopefully help to get to this reality's SGC. He had no GDO but even if he had he didn't think he could have used it. He had no way of knowing whether the SGC used the same methods, even if they had an iris but assuming they did, there was no guarantee that his code would've worked here. In fact he couldn't even be certain he lived or even had ever existed in this reality. No, to get to the SGC he would need to find someone who had contact with them and could get a message, or more directly, him through the Gate.

He had a few options based of course, on his own reality. There was Cimmeria where they'd left the Sagen Box. Or, perhaps the Land of Light would be better; they were in regular contact with the SGC. The Tok'ra would be a good bet, except Earth never knew where they were until they decided to contact the SGC. The Tollan were destroyed in his reality but perhaps they had survived here. The Nox would be good but their Gate was buried, or it was at home, perhaps here it wasn't. He even considered the Alpha Site but if he weren't with the SGC, gating there would probably only result in his imprisonment, which if nothing else, would delay matters and that he could not afford.

If there was a Daniel Jackson in this reality then he only had forty-eight hours before he would need to move on or he would suffer from Entropic cascade failure and if he did not leave this reality he would soon die.

A niggling voice asked then if that would be so bad. Did he really want to spend the rest of his life travelling from reality to reality; searching out Jack's and Daniel's to warn them of the risk of defeat at the hands of the Goa'uld? What if, in this reality, they'd already defeated the Goa'uld or it was clear they had a chance to do so? What if Jack was with someone else? What if Daniel still had Shar'e? What if there was no Daniel here? Would he consider staying?

God the questions, the options were endless but he knew his spirit was not. He was already existing on promises and future dreams and...
God he was so tired!


The announcement was broadcast, accompanied by alarms and the sound of running feet as a squad of SFs headed for the Gateroom.

General Hammond clattered down the metal stairs from the briefing room, echoed by the sounds of SG1 who had been giving their report on their latest mission.

"No code yet, sergeant?"

"No, sir. Wait, there's something...yes, sir. It's from the Land of the Light."

"Open the iris," ordered Hammond.

"But we aren't due contact with Tuplo's people again for about a month," Sam said.

"Perhaps they have a problem," Teal'c suggested.

"Yep, only want us when they have a problem," Jack bitched.


Captain Walters stifled a laugh but the general's glare proved he hadn't been successful. However, any need to apologise was negated by the gasp from Colonel O'Neill, which drew all eyes to the leader of SG1. He was staring through the glass of the control room into the Gateroom below, at the man swaying slightly on the ramp, hands raised to indicate he was no threat to the numerous armed men surrounding him.

Jack glanced at the others and ran for the Gateroom, with Sam and Teal'c on his heels.

Captain Walters turned to the general. "What is wrong sir, who is that man?"

"That man is the reason you can go through that gate. Probably a big part of the reason you and I aren't slaves of the Goa'uld. That is Daniel Jackson."

"But he's..."

"Precisely. Let's see how he can walk through the Gate, shall we?"

Daniel was ready to collapse but knew he couldn't risk moving until he was sure if anyone here knew who he was. He didn't recognise any of the SFs surrounding him and he was grateful when he heard the familiar tones of General Hammond over the intercom.

"Stand down but stay alert."

The SFs relaxed their aim on him but kept their weapons at the ready. Just then someone ran in and Daniel almost collapsed when he heard Jack's voice.

"Make way there!" and then he was standing a few feet away at the base of the ramp. "Daniel?"

For a moment Daniel could only stare and he had to remind himself this was not his Jack. Taking a breath he said, "Oh thank god. I was so afraid you wouldn't know me."

"Not know you? What the hell are you talking about?" asked Jack confused.

"Daniel, how can you be here? Like this?" Sam wondered.

"Sam. Teal'c you're here too," Daniel said softly.

"I said I would not leave until the Tau'ri were free DanielJackson."

"Daniel, what..." The general interrupted Jack.

"Dr. Jackson, this is an unexpected pleasure that requires an explanation."

From behind, a voice spoke up. "I couldn't agree more, sir but Dr. Jackson looks exhausted and I expect from his condition, those clothes hide more than just exhaustion. I would recommend he accompanies me to the infirmary first."

"In this case, Dr. Fraiser I think the infirmary may have to wait until we understand what exactly has happened and..." General Hammond began.

"Don't believe I have time for that anyway," interrupted Daniel. "Unless...Am I dead here?"

"WHAT!" Jack blurted out.

"Oh my god!" exclaimed Sam, a hand to her mouth. "You're not our Daniel; you're from an alternate reality."

Jack's eyes widened as he looked carefully at the man before him. He certainly looked exhausted and there were stains on his uniform that could so easily be blood. Jack thought he looked a little more muscular than when he'd last seen him... seen his Daniel. The other difference that struck him now he'd got past the shock of seeing his friend again was the eyes. Even at his worst, when Sha're had died, Daniel's eyes had never looked so haunted.

"You have come to us through the mirror on P3R 233?" Teal'c asked.

"No, not that one but through a mirror, yes. I have to know, am I"

"No," Jack said quietly.

"We should take this to the briefing room. Will you accompany us Dr. Fraiser, your input may be useful."

They settled round the briefing table, Jack unconsciously sitting next to Daniel the way he always had in briefings.

"Before we start could I please have some water?"

"Oh, sorry Daniel," said Jack, getting up quickly and retrieving the pitcher of water and a glass from the end table. "Sorry there's no coffee, since you left we don't have it as often."

"Water's fine," he said, taking the glass and gulping it down. "Since I left?" he asked curiously.

"I suggest you tell us your story and then we will tell you ours," General Hammond said.

Daniel smiled, "Oh George, you're the same in any universe."

"George?" said Captain Walters surprised at what he saw as disrespect.

"I'm sorry, I don't believe we've met," Daniel said.

"Oh, that was remiss of me," Hammond said. "Dr. Daniel Jackson, meet Captain Ryan Walters, the fourth member of SG1."

"Ah!" Daniel said, the exclamation covering the shock at the idea of someone else in his place on SG1, till he remembered that it wasn't his place.

"Yep, not a patch on you, Danny but he does his best," Jack said, his smile taking any sting out of the words.

Walters grimaced at Jack but made no comment.

What jumped out at Daniel was the affectionate way Jack had spoken to him and about him. Danny was Jack's special nickname for him, a name Daniel didn't allow anyone else to use. However, Jack would never have used it in public the way this Jack did. Which presumably meant the nickname wasn't as special in this reality. Yet, whatever their relationship, it seemed they were...or had been friends. He was very curious to learn where the Daniel who belonged to this reality was.

Knowing his time was limited, Daniel launched into his story beginning with the aborted return of SG9 and the destruction of the iris. He explained everything in as much detail as he could.

His audience listened in growing horror to the unfolding story of the invasion and capture of the SGC and in all probability, of Earth as well. They witnessed the pain and despair in his eyes as he talked of the death one by one of each of his friends until, voice cracking with emotion, he spoke of Jack dying in his arms.

Doc Fraiser broke the stunned silence by offering Daniel another glass of water, which he took gratefully. He needed something to stop his hands shaking and his mouth was so dry from fighting the tears that he couldn't allow to fall. He'd promised himself he wouldn't cry for Jack again and here, less than a day later, he was so close to breaking down.

He glanced up then and found himself staring into the warm brown eyes of the man he loved and he gasped in shock.

"It's all right Daniel, seeing us all again must be very difficult," Doc Fraiser said and Daniel didn't correct her mistaken assumption. He wasn't sure but this reality seemed very close to his own so he had to assume the 'don't ask, don't tell' rule applied here too. He and Jack had spent months keeping their relationship secret. Only Sam and Teal'c had known. In fact they'd known before even Jack and Daniel!

"It is, very difficult. I don't know how long your Daniel was a member of the SGC but I served on SG1 for over five years," he hesitated, looking directly at Jack and smiling as he continued, "and Jack and I made an impression on each other even earlier on that first mission to Abydos. Can't claim it was necessarily a good impression but..."

"Oh, yeah, an impression," Jack interrupted with a grin. "That's one word for it. Annoyed the hell outta me and my team and then showed what a stubborn, brave sonuvabitch he could be."

"Yet he's no longer here with you. You said after I had told my story you would tell me what had happened to ...your Daniel."

General Hammond glanced at Jack and gave a slight nod.

"You mentioned the first mission to Abydos. Did you kill Ra in your reality?" At Daniel's nod Jack continued. "And Sha're, did you marry Sha're and stay with her on Abydos."

"Yes, I did. We were happy for a while but I was restless. I didn't quite fit in, I tried but I couldn't stop being a scholar. It was interesting as an anthropologist living with the Abydonians but I needed more. When I found the Cartouche room...your Daniel did find the Cartouche?"

"Oh yes and we used the information he gleaned from there to add to our database," Sam explained.

"Was your Sha're taken by Apophis?" Teal'c asked.

Daniel looked at Teal'c for a long moment. "Yes, you picked her out and she was chosen as his queen. I never saw her again until she died in my arms giving birth to the child of that monster."

Daniel noticed the odd expressions on the faces of those around the table. "What is it? What's wrong?"

Jack raised troubled eyes from the tabletop where he'd been seeing other images. "Sha're didn't die in childbirth. She had a little boy; Daniel delivered him and sent him away with Kasuf to safety. Once the child had been born, Ammonet took control again and left with Apophis." Jack kept eye contact with Daniel seeing the shock settle in the depths of those expressive eyes. "A few months later we ...we had to fight to free some captured Abydonians and..."

"...and Ammonet held Daniel with the ribbon device, she was killing him and so I killed her to protect him," said Teal'c.

Daniel's eyes tracked from Jack to Teal'c and a single tear ran from the corner of his eye.

"Daniel took it very badly. He was ill for some time afterwards, partly due to the damage of the ribbon device and partly due to grief and guilt," explained Sam sadly.

"You did this to save his life, there was no other way?" Daniel asked Teal'c.

"No, he was near death. I could not risk any shot but a fatal one. I regretted the necessity but not the deed."

"He slowly improved physically but emotionally it was a different story," the doctor explained. "He took a major step when he forgave Teal'c but he was never able to forgive himself."

"Finally, he decided he could no longer stay here and continue to go through the Gate. He believed he'd failed. I tried to tell him he was wrong, he'd done everything he could to find and save Sha're. I told him if anyone had failed it'd been me. I was the fool who promised him I'd save his wife, he trusted me and I failed him," Jack admitted.

Thinking a change of subject might help the young man who seemed concerned by what had happened to his counterpart, General Hammond asked him to give an overview of the situation in his SGC before the invasion.

Daniel recognised the manoeuvre but at that moment he welcomed the diversion and began a brief but detailed explanation. However, he didn't get very far before he was halted.

"Did you say you had an alliance with the Tok'ra?" Hammond asked and when Daniel concurred the general wanted to know how they'd managed that.

Turning to Sam, Daniel asked, "Did you not blend with Jolinar?"

"Yes, I did and if you're referring to our attempt at negotiations, that was a disaster," Sam said bitterly. "We couldn't find any common ground and they didn't trust us. In the end they kept us prisoner for nearly a month while they arranged a new secret base of operations. They released us but would have no further contact."

"So, you know nothing of Selmac?" Daniel asked.


"And what happened to Jacob, er your father?"

"My father died while those bastards kept me prisoner!"

"Daniel, what is this all about?" asked a puzzled Jack.

With a sigh Daniel explained. "We managed to come to an agreement with the Tok'ra when I suggested perhaps we did have hosts for them - I assume that was what they wanted from you?" Jack nodded and Daniel went on, "I told them we had many people who were dying and would perhaps be prepared to accept a symbiote in exchange for a cure. At least we could put the idea on the table."

"And they agreed, just like that?" asked the General, surprised.

"Er, no, it was necessary to provide a host for Selmac, one of their leaders whose present host was dying." Daniel turned his eyes on the major, "Sam, we brought your father back and he agreed to become a host. In my world your father is our liaison with the Tok'ra."

"Oh my god!"

That was only the beginning. Over the next couple of hours the differences between the two realities came into focus.

An entire race had been wiped out when a UAV had crashed on a planet where the strange silent people painted themselves white and this SGC had never discovered what killed them.

Jack had almost died because no one could communicate with him when the knowledge of the Ancients had been downloaded into his brain. When he begged to go through the Gate, only the General's innate trust in his dying second-in-command allowed him to agree though Hammond believed it was likely a one-way trip.

Robert Rothman had been captured and two SG teams were sent to rescue him. They had all died at the hands of aboriginal Unas.

Another race was almost lost because the only solution Jack could find was to destroy the ship changing their world into one with a sulphur based system for a race of freeze-dried aliens aboard the ship. He failed quite spectacularly when the device created was beamed up into the planet's atmosphere by the ship where it exploded harmlessly. Only a minority of the people on the planet had been transplanted before the Gate was destroyed, trapping the rest on the transforming planet.

None of these disasters had happened in Daniel's alternate reality and the reason was obvious. Daniel himself. He had found solutions, alternatives that SG1 had been able to employ. The silent people had been saved because he'd understood the correlation between the people and the sound the plants made that had been changed by the UAV crash, thereby enabling Sam to track down the specific frequency and set up an alternative source.

When Jack's head was full of the Ancient's language, Daniel had been able to communicate with him and he'd been able to walk through the Gate rather than be sent through on a stretcher. It had been Daniel who'd been captured by the Unas and though there had still been deaths, Robert's included; the loss of life had been less because of Daniel's ability to make friends with the most unlikely of creatures.

Finally, Daniel had found a solution, which had enabled both races to survive, the freeze-dried aliens and the Enkarans.

There were other less drastic examples but what was clear to everyone around that table was that they had lost more than just a friend when Daniel Jackson had left the SGC.

It was Captain Walters who finally voiced the obvious. "We've lost more than anyone could possibly have understood. We need to get the man back."

"I wish it could be that simple. I don't think he will want to come," said Jack sadly.

"Perhaps if he knew the truth?" Walters suggested.

"You haven't said; where exactly did he disappear to?" Daniel asked.

"He's teaching languages in a specialist centre. He also writes translation programmes being used in a computer teaching system. He wanted to leave archaeology behind, at least that's what he said two years ago," Jack said.

"We need to go and see him, make him come back. You need him and the man can't afford to waste his life teaching languages." Daniel contended.

There was a moment of stunned silence.

"Before anything else, sir," Dr. Fraiser addressed the general, "Daniel needs treatment, food and rest."

"I'll take some treatment; I have some very minor injuries," said Daniel pointedly to the diminutive doctor. "I'd appreciate a change of clothes and bite to eat. Don't have time to rest. Have long have I been here already?"

"About six hours," Sam answered.

"It took me four hours to get from the mirror planet to the Land of Light and persuade Tuplo to send me through. That leaves about thirty-eight hours before I have to get back through the mirror."

"You must be exhausted Daniel, you've had a very traumatic time. Did you get chance of a rest before you came here through the mirror?" Doc Fraiser asked.

"Not much, I didn't know if the Jaffa would find the mirror and follow me through so I hurried on to the Land of Light."

"Colonel, you know where Daniel is. How long would it take to get there?" Hammond asked.

"By road, sir, or by air?" Jack's question was leading.

The General smiled, "Why, by air of course, Colonel."

"Three hours, sir."

"Very well. Dr. Jackson, go to the infirmary and get whatever treatment you require, get something to eat and then get a few hours rest. It is past midnight. You leave at oh-seven-hundred-hours. Dismissed."

Jack accompanied Daniel and Doc Fraiser to the infirmary. She looked askance at Daniel's clothing.

On seeing her expression, Daniel said, "Most of it isn't mine, it''s..." Suddenly he squared his shoulders and finished, "It's Jack's."

She raised her eyebrows but said nothing, just left him seated on one of the beds while she went to collect some equipment.

Jack wanted to say something but 'sorry' seemed insulting somehow.

"Jack," Daniel asked cautiously, "there's something I need to talk with you about."

Relieved at the change of subject, Jack said. "Of course, go on."

"No, not here. Somewhere, private."

"Okaaay...once the little tyrant has finished with you we can go to my office."

"Good. Little tyrant?" Daniel smiled and glanced at the door as the doctor hurried back in. "Remind me later to tell you what we used to call her." As soon as he said that he realised what he'd casually said. Used to call her, god!

Jack noted the change in colour and the widening of the eyes and guessed at the thoughts parading through his - almost - friend's head. It was difficult not to think of him simply as Daniel but there was nothing simple about this whole situation

Jack moved out of the way as Janet pulled the curtain between him and her patient, his mind already mulling over the young man's rather strange request to talk privately. Presumably he wanted to discuss something confidential and probably personal but what could be so special that he couldn't tell the rest of his team or the others? Something that had put a flicker of fear in the young man's eyes for a second if Jack wasn't mistaken and he was damned sure he wasn't. The ability to read people was a very important part of who Jack was, and if there was one person he really knew in this world, or any other apparently, it was Daniel Jackson. It might be two years since he'd seen Daniel but the two of them had been as close as two friends could ever be.

Jack still missed him every day and often regretted his promise not to contact him. It was only because Jack knew how much it hurt Daniel to elicit that promise from him that kept Jack away.

When Daniel finally came to the decision that he could no longer stay with the SGC he told all his friends that he, he needed to make a clean break. There were just too many memories linked with his time spent with the SGC and as much as he loved the friends he'd made while working there, he hoped they would understand his need to make a fresh start. Jack had tried to convince him that he was wrong, that he needed those very friends for support him and to offer a shoulder to cry on whenever he needed. He could never be so open with anyone else, he could never talk about Sha're properly... Daniel had stopped him mid-sentence and said no, he never could talk about Sha're. There had been so much pain in his voice that Jack hadn't pressed the point.

Another regret to plague him in the early hours when he felt he'd let his friend down, allowing him to leave too soon after his wife's death. Of all people, Jack knew about grief, knew it took a long time, if ever, to really get over the death of such a loved one. Jack also knew how destructive grief could be and while in his case it had been a self-destructive impulse for all to see, he believed Daniel's reaction was no less self-destructive. Jack had wanted to blow his brains out and end his life; Daniel wanted to wipe out his past life as if it hadn't existed.

Jack was pulled from his thoughts as Doc Fraiser swept open the curtain to reveal Daniel now dressed in clean BDU trousers and a black tee, a bandage visible on his upper arm. Otherwise he looked fine, damned fine, Jack noted comparing this more muscular, harder version to the Daniel he'd known.

"Okay, Doc?" Jack asked.

"Yes, colonel. As Daniel said, most of the blood wasn't his. He has some spectacular bruises and a nasty burn on his upper arm but otherwise he is," she stopped, giving a sideways glance and a quick smile at her patient, "fine. Not that a good meal wouldn't go amiss."

"I'll see to that now, Doc. Thanks."

"Yes, thanks Janet," Daniel said, a sad smile on his face as he remembered the last time he'd seen his Janet was when she'd hurried away hoping to escape through one of the shafts. He'd only heard that she'd been killed in the attempt from one of the other prisoners who'd been on her team. He didn't think he'd even asked how she'd died. At that time he'd been sick of death and didn't want to hear any more.

Jack shooed him out of the infirmary door and they made their way to his office and once inside he closed and then locked the door.

"I assume whatever it is it's confidential."

"Yeah," Daniel answered, glancing up at the camera.

"It's off," Jack confirmed, his curiosity really piqued now.

Now Daniel had got the other man on his own he was suddenly worried. What he hell did he think he was doing? He had no idea how close these two had been and just because he and his Jack ...


"There's something you ought to know...only..." Frowning he paced up and down in front of Jack's desk where the other man was perched.

"You don't have much time here and I guess you thought it mighty important or we wouldn't be here. Go with your instinct Danny, it always worked for me."

"Danny...he only ever called me that in private. It was special, he..." Daniel stopped realising what he'd almost said.

"I thought I saw something in your eyes when you talked about him. You cared for them all, that's obvious but this is light went from your eyes, they were ...lifeless. You loved him?"

"We loved each other, Jack. I don't know how it is here, how you feel about relationships like ours?"

"We have this rule, don't ask don't tell. I think its crap. Loving someone is not a choice."

Daniel nodded. "Yeah, we have that crap too," he said with a ghost of a smile. "Jack had other choice words for it." Jack saw the shadow slip across Daniel's eyes until with an almost visible motion he shook it away. "We'd always been close friends and I know now that I loved him even before I finally lost Sha're. I sublimated it then because I still wanted to find my wife. When she died I turned to him, as my friend. All my friends helped me but it was Jack who was my rock. I wouldn't let myself see what was really happening, I still felt I'd failed Sha're and the idea of loving someone else...well there's no need to go into all that. We became partners and Teal'c and Sam knew but nobody else. You needed to know."

"You wonder what I might be missing out on?"

"I don't know what the hell I mean," he snapped. "It's as you said, I don't have much time here and I don't wanna waste any of it. I've told the General all I can think of to help the SGC but Jack, if Daniel here is anything like me, he's been sublimating all this time. Maybe he isn't like me; I don't know how similar these realities are. The original one I visited a few years back was pretty similar but with some major differences. I don't know," he stopped pacing again and stood directly in front of Jack holding his gaze. "Perhaps you should tell me, am I way off the mark here, Jack?"

Jack stared back at the younger man, his face slowly breaking into a smile and he gave a shake of the head.

"Damn, Daniel you're the same in any universe. No wonder your Jack loved you and he did, didn't he? No question. What did he say to you before he went Danny? I'm not good with words but if I was forced to leave you behind I'd have told you what to do, did I, did he?"

"Don't waste my time with prevarications. Answer my question and I'll answer yours."

"I wasn't trying to avoid, delay maybe. Okay. You're not exactly off the mark but you've presented me with a scenario I hadn't considered."


"I acknowledged a long time ago that I love Daniel, as a friend, my best friend. I miss him like crazy, after two years I still miss him. Now you got me wondering if I'm simply na´ve. Then again, I'm not your Jack; I'm not gay."

"Neither was he. He did admit to being bi but only about me."

"Ah. And Daniel, er, you?"

"I've always been bi. I did love Sha're but not as much as I came to love Jack."

Jack stared at Daniel seeing once again the young man as he'd been that last day two years ago. Pale and tired, eyes lost and without hope. Jack hadn't wanted him to leave yet but he'd been adamant that he had to get away and Jack let him go. At this moment, Jack wished he could put the clock back and never let him leave but it was too late. Or was it? Did this strange occurrence present him with a new option? How was that for irony? Daniel was the one with all the options. Then again wasn't that what he was suggesting here? Jack looked hard into himself, the real persona he kept locked away deep inside. Was perhaps the reason he hadn't fought as hard as he now wished he had to keep his friend around, was that he'd sensed the possibility he was now facing? Did he think of Daniel in those terms, did he love Daniel or was he in love?

"Daniel, did you have a reason for wanting me to know this?"

"It wasn't why I came here obviously but when I heard what'd happened...the SGC needs him...Jack, you need him. Besides, I know how unhappy he must be. If I'd left the SCG after my Sha're died I think I'd have withered and died myself. I cannot imagine life without my friends and as for what I found with Jack...You can't let..." Daniel hesitated for a moment, moving into Jack's personal space, holding his gaze, "Go get him Jack, for the SGC, yes but maybe even more important for the two of you. Separate you are good, together..." He'd almost said 'unbeatable' until with an empty heart, he remembered that was no longer true.

Jack held Daniel's gaze until the younger man dropped his eyes. Jack knew his Danny well enough to know the young man was in pain but he also knew there was something he wasn't saying.

"Daniel, you haven't yet answered my question. What did Jack say to you?"

Daniel looked at Jack and realised this was important to the colonel; to know what his alter ego had thought worth saying to the man he loved with his dying breath. Daniel closed his eyes for a moment as the vision of that last moment swam before him again and then he said softly, "You'll ...survive. For for me, Danny. Live."

"Yes, that's it. Oh yes. Live Danny, live. You're trying to do that, no matter how hard, how painful for you, you're struggling to keep going against ridiculous odds. Our Daniel stopped fighting and dammit if we...if I didn't let him. Fool, stupid blind fool."

Jack had showed him to a VIP room and left him with a wish that he should get some rest. Daniel had lain down not expecting to be able to sleep; his mind was awhirl with all that he'd learned. So it was something of a surprise that he awoke to a knocking at the door to find it was oh-six-hundred-hours. Jack popped his head around the door to find a sleepy eyed Daniel sitting on his bed.

"Got some sleep after all, Danny," Jack said.

Daniel's head shot up and Jack realised that he'd let the nickname slip out again. He'd forgotten yet again this wasn't his Danny, this was Daniel and to him the name had a more intimate connotation.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to use the nickname, I won't use it again."

"It's not that, I understand it was different for you. It just sounded so much like him, I forgot for a second he was..." he couldn't bring himself to say the word. "Fuck!"

"I know. When I look at you I have to remember that you are not my Danny."

"Is he your Danny?" he asked with a fleeting smile.

"You always were too good for me with words. I fell into that one easily, didn't I?"

"You didn't answer."

"No, I didn't. Come on, quick shower and get dressed. We've got time for breakfast then we've got a plane to catch."

With a quick glance over his shoulder and a shake of his head, Daniel slipped into the bathroom while Jack dropped into the armchair to wait for him and consider Daniel's question. While it seemed Daniel had managed to get some sleep Jack couldn't say the same of himself. He had tossed and turned all night because that very question plagued him and he still didn't have an answer. What he did have was the notion that he would have an answer once he saw Danny again.

He heard the shower running and suddenly he had a vision of Daniel standing under running water as it cascaded onto his back to run off down his buttocks, one particular rivulet sliding between his cleft. Whoa! Where the hell did that come from?

He'd seen Daniel in the showers more times than he could remember but it had never affected him like that before. Was it a real memory or only a fantasy created by his talks with this alternate Daniel? He didn't know and wasn't sure he wanted to know.

The small private airplane landed to be met by a black sedan with grey smoked glass windows and an Air Force driver. Jack and Daniel settled themselves in the back seat for the drive to the private Language School where Danny worked.

During the three hour flight Jack had filled Daniel in on what his Daniel had been doing ever since he'd left so precipitously two years before. When he'd left the SGC he didn't even have any idea of how he would earn his living. Jack had wanted to stay in touch but Danny wouldn't allow it saying if he needed anything he would contact him.

Jack made it his business to know when Danny let his apartment in Colorado Springs go, the various job opportunities his friend went after, the many disappointments he experienced and the position he finally settled for. Danny did not simply disappear though; he wrote a letter to each of his friends letting them know he was leaving Colorado Springs to begin a new life. He asked them not to worry about him; he was as content as he could be. Which Jack translated as 'I'm not happy but I'm coping'; Danny always had a knack of coping with whatever life threw at him. It just upset him that Danny wouldn't let his friends, wouldn't let him help deflect some of it.

Not trusting his grieving friend to know what was best for him, Jack had kept a long-distance close eye on Danny. He shamelessly got Sam Carter to use her not inconsiderable computer skills to track him down and, being of a suspicious nature; he also pulled in a few markers from some of his old Special Ops colleagues to ensure that the School was exactly what it purported to be.

The management of the specialist Language School was probably rubbing its collective hands together with glee at getting such an accomplished linguist, though the work obviously hadn't stretched Danny anywhere near enough. The man who had worked himself to exhaustion on many occasions to solve the seemingly insolvable needed more. Through a colleague at the language school he gained an introduction to an educational computer soft wear production company and began to prepare teaching plans and translation programmes. Sam informed Jack every time a new programme hit the market; it wasn't that obvious unless you knew what to look for as Danny was using a pseudonym. Jack wasn't sure if that was a deliberate intent to hide from his old friends or just Danny's natural self-effacement.

Though Daniel listened in silence to Jack's description of what had become of his counterpart, inside he was angry and frustrated. What possessed his alter ego to give up? Okay he'd loved Sha're but then so had he. It had been painful, the guilt he carried over what he still saw as his own selfishness, his own pride, had almost killed him but he'd never even considered giving up and running away. He'd turned to his friends to pull him from the mire of his own making, put his feet back on the path to recovery. He'd turned the anger from himself back at those really to blame, the monsters hiding inside poor human beings like his Sha're. He swore to keep fighting to try and put an end to the slavery and death brought by the Goa'uld. It was true he'd had the extra incentive of the child of his beautiful wife, something the Daniel of this world had never had.

Danny had seen his Sha're die because of the child given to her by her rapist. He could hardly imagine the depths of despair the young man must have experienced because of that. He chided himself for so blithely accusing his counterpart of running away, as if he'd been a coward. He knew that wasn't true. He was honest enough, self-aware enough to know that no Daniel who had gone through what he had as a child could ever be a coward; it had only made him stronger, more self-reliant. Why not this time? He knew there was something missing, there was something else going on. Was there something Jack wasn't telling him, or was there something Jack didn't know?

Neither man spoke during the car drive; they'd talked themselves out on the plane, now just having their own thoughts for company. Daniel glanced at Jack and surmised his thoughts weren't any happier either.

Lost in his memories, Jack wasn't aware of his companion's scrutiny. Explaining everything to Daniel had brought back things that Jack had let slip from the surface of his mind or perhaps he'd buried them because they hurt too much. He'd forgotten how painful the first few weeks had been after Danny left, until it had finally become an ever-present dull ache, an emptiness in his soul that he'd learned to live with.

Now the ache had become a sharp pain again, lying heavy in his chest, a stone where his heart used to be. Why had he accepted the loss so readily? When had he become this man who no longer fought for what he wanted? He had put his own feelings on hold because he wanted to do what was best for Danny but what had made him accept that letting the man go was the right answer? God what a fool I was!

He'd been afraid to push the man because he'd been so brittle, so he'd ignored his own best judgement. Using his powers of judgement was paramount in his line of work and he'd spent his entire working life trusting his own judgement and yet here, when perhaps it had counted more than even he'd understood, he'd simply ignored it. Why? For god's sake, why?

"Is there anything you're not telling me, Jack?" Daniel suddenly asked.

"What?" The question caught the older man unawares.

"I can't understand why he left, why he didn't want any help from his friends, from you. Yet even more puzzling is why you just let him go. Something is missing."

"I know and fool that I am I've only just realised that. Danny had always been so strong, a fighter ya know? But that tore the heart from him, having to bring that child into the world and then watching them both die and I never questioned it. I was so busy walking on eggs, not wanting to hurt him, that I missed it."

"Missed what?" Daniel pressed.

"I don't know, dammit! I just know there was something, something else eating at him and I...I never saw it."

Daniel merely nodded, as if that answered his question. Jack was more puzzled than before but had no more time for questions as the car pulled into the parking lot of the school.

"Stay here, Daniel. I'll bring him out."

Jack might have acted composed but inside he was decidedly unnerved. The prospect of seeing Danny again affected him more than he wanted to admit.

Carter had discovered where he was likely to be around ten o'clock in the morning today, Thursday, and apparently he had a free period; he would probably be in his office. Jack was in civvies so as not to attract any unwanted attention and he crossed the neat garden from the lot to the main entrance. He noticed there were three young women sitting on the wide stone steps. As he approached them one looked up.

"Excuse me," Jack asked with a smile. "Could you possibly point me in the direction of Dr. Jackson's office?"

"Dr. Jackson?" she asked, before sharing a quick smile with her friends. "Oh, yes he'll be working on his latest project but he won't want to be disturbed. He is very particular about that."

"I'm sure; Daniel and I are old friends. If you wouldn't mind..."

"Oh, all right then. Turn left when you enter and walk to the end of the corridor, turn right and it's the last room on your left."

Smiling his thanks he took the steps two at a time and following the directions, soon reached the door. There was no mistaking the name, Dr. Daniel Jackson, painted in black on the frosted glass pane forming the upper half of the door. He raised his hand to knock, excitement fighting with rising nerves and churning in his stomach. Quashing the confusing sensations he knocked.

"It better be damned important. You know the standing rules," a familiar voice called from the other side of the glass, sending shivers down Jack's spine as he pushed open the door.

"Matter of fact I don't but it sure is important."

The head remained bent over the folder on the desk but the pose was frozen. Jack took a moment to notice the hair was a little shorter and maybe a tad darker before the ice melted and the head was slowly lifted. Jack swallowed the gasp that rose to his lips when those brilliant eyes came into view. He'd forgotten just how blue they were, how full of life. Then his gaze was attracted to the mouth, full and mobile as the lips moved to form words. He had to concentrate to actually hear what Danny said.

"Jack, oh my god, Jack!" A smile flashed across his face and his eyes sparkled with pleasure, sending a flush of joy through Jack.

"Oh, Danny it's so good to see you."

Danny could hardly believe his eyes. He'd thought of this man so often it was almost like a dream come to life to see him standing there. Hardly a day had gone by when he'd not thought of his best friend, for that was the place he still held in Danny's head. He also occupied a secret place in his heart that Danny rarely dared to give name to. So to suddenly see him again was both a joy and a pain.

Then almost as if someone had flicked a switch, the smile faded and Danny frowned. "Not to sound unwelcoming, Jack but why are you here? Is something wrong? An emergency? After two years I didn't expect ever to hear from you again."

For the first few weeks after he'd left the Mountain it had been so difficult not to give in to his desperate need to lean on the man who'd been his lifeline during their two years working together. Yet he knew if he was ever going to survive on his own, back in the real world, he had to make a clean break, learn to stand on his own two feet again. He'd spent most of his life alone and it'd come as something of a shock to realise just how much he now relied on others, specifically on Jack O'Neill.

"Oh, Danny if it wasn't for your... I've missed you and would've come to see you before if you'd not been so..." Jack stopped, not wanting to get into that old argument.

"Stubborn, Jack?" he asked with a smile.

"Yep," the older man replied returning the smile. "Don't think you've changed much either," he muttered quite audibly, giving Danny his trademark grin. "But, yes, it's an emergency. You gotta come with me. There's someone you have to meet."

Jack had no idea how Danny's heart flip-flopped at that much missed smile and when he grinned transforming his face into that of a ten-year-old who'd bested an older kid in the schoolyard, Danny thought his heart would melt. The younger man chided himself for falling into the same old trap and made himself think about the real reason Jack was here.

Danny cocked his head to one side, frowning. "Someone I have to meet? You don't wish me to return to the SGC do you? You've all managed to keep the planet safe without me for the last two years, why do you need me now? Who is this 'someone' I have to meet?"

Oh if only you knew just what we've lost without you! "I can't explain here, Danny. I promise you I would never have gone against your wishes if it weren't vital. Once you meet him you'll understand and then we'll tell you everything."

"He's here with you?"

"Waiting in the car."

"Well, bring him in. Once I know what this is about, then I'll decide."

"Sorry, I can't bring him in here. You have to meet him elsewhere, away from prying eyes."

Danny frowned again, considering the many options that might mean.

"Danny," Jack said in a soft voice, "you used to believe in me, trust me. Do you still?"

The reply was instinctive, "Of course, never trusted anyone the way I trust you."

"In that case, please?" he said, arm outstretched indicating the door.

Danny rose from his seat behind the desk, his six-foot frame uncurling gracefully. Jack saw he was wearing smart casual clothes, chocolate brown slacks with a beige shirt over a matching brown tee. He grabbed a tan leather jacket from the back of the chair and draped it over his sleeve. His wardrobe had certainly improved and Jack had the uncomfortable thought that maybe someone special had taken him in hand and helped him to choose his outfit.

Trying to sound casual Jack said, "Nice duds. Pay check not bad then?"

"Yeah, fine," he replied casually, inexplicably happy that Jack had noticed. "The Dean decided I should change my image when I started here, said my plaid shirts and cords had to go."

"Gotta say it's a good look for you."

"Ya think!"

They both laughed at Danny's use of one of Jack's catchphrases.

Danny was both curious and nervous as he approached the darkened windows of the car. Whoever, or perhaps he ought to say whatever, as the possibility that it was an alien had been high up on his list of possibilities, was hidden in the vehicle obviously needed security and secrecy. Both things he had learned to live without in the past two years. It was one aspect of his previous life that he hadn't missed; yet the feeling of excitement, one aspect he had definitely missed, suddenly swamped him.

When he'd planned to leave the SGC after he had lost his poor Sha're, he'd felt that he was becoming more of a soldier and less of a scientist. Later when he was far away, beginning a new life, he was reconciled to the fact that he was only a soldier when he needed to protect himself and his team-mates and that they protected him in return. His main purpose on their missions was still as a linguist and archaeologist. He was the point of first contact and it was fair to say that things only went bad if they had incorrect intelligence or if he was unable to bridge the differences of such divergent lifestyles. How do you convince a villager still living as they had on the steppes of Russia a thousand years ago, to trust a person who walked through a stone ring that he believed was the entrance to the realm of the spirits? No matter how eloquent, bridging such beliefs with simple words was never enough. Danny accepted that being a soldier was sometimes the only way to return through that stone circle. He also accepted it was a price he was prepared to pay to ensure the survival of his friends.

Of course, he'd left it all behind him, escaping - running away? Not for the first time he wondered bitterly if he'd deserted his friends when they'd needed him most. On days when he wanted to find excuses for himself he recalled that if they really needed him they would come for him. He had no illusions that his whereabouts weren't a secret. Other darker days he admitted that Jack would probably risk death rather than disturb what he most likely saw as Danny's refuge against the pain and despair that he hadn't been able to hide from the older man. Jack spent his life protecting the innocent and he knew that Jack saw him as innocence personified. No matter how he tried to convince his friend that this wasn't the case Jack refused to see him any other way. Which, of course, was the other reason Danny had to leave.

Danny wasn't innocent by any stretch of the imagination. He'd been in various universities since he was sixteen years old and anthropology students tended to get involved with just about anything. If Jack had known some of the stuff he'd gotten up to.... He tried recreational drugs, not something he would recommend but the experience had been...interesting. It was when he was experimenting with life with a capital L at university that he discovered he was bisexual. He discovered when he fell for a person, gender just happened to be coincidental.

As usual in his life, things went wrong as a matter of course; he managed to fall for a man and a woman at the same time. It happened twice in his life, as if once hadn't been disaster enough. He'd met and fallen for Steven Rayner while working at the Oriental Institute in Chicago and then two weeks later Sarah Gardner arrived. Ouch!

He could smile about that now because he'd learned that the love he felt for those two was nothing compared to what he was actually capable of. He discovered that when met Jack O'Neill and then a couple of weeks later, after opening the Gate, he met Sha're.

For quite some time now he considered, then immediately dismissed, the idea of asking to return to the SGC. He knew his position on SG1 was long gone but he could have returned and worked on base, possibly even have joined another team. The trouble was that for him, working at the SGC meant being with SG1, his friends and Jack. One moment he thought he could do it, after all he'd still see them sometimes; spend at least some downtime with them. Then he knew he couldn't do that, sit on the sidelines and wait until they threw him a bone.

Then there was the other reason, the one he didn't like to think about as it only made him jealous, he'd never liked jealousy in others and certainly not in himself.

He expected that the attraction he'd seen growing between Jack and Sam might have come to some kind of fruition by now. After all, he had no reason to believe that Jack was anything but straight. Only in his dreams and fantasies was that not the case.

Jack opened the rear passenger door indicating that Danny should enter and with a quick flash of a smile at Jack, he ducked inside. Jack closed the door behind him and it took a moment for Danny's eyes to adjust to the gloom after the bright sunshine of the day. The driver's door opened and Jack slipped behind the wheel, having dismissed the driver for the duration of this meeting.

Glancing over his shoulder he saw Danny peering at the other occupant of the car, the frown of confusion changing to a gasp of recognition.

Daniel smiled grimly and said, "Dr. Jackson, I presume."

"Danny, meet Daniel," Jack said "He doesn't have much time left now and he wanted to meet you. There's something he needs to tell you."

For once speechless, Danny stared at his alter ego.

"Jack, we need to talk in private, please," Daniel said.

"Sure but I don't think staying here in the school parking lot is sensible," Jack replied. "Tell him the background while I drive us somewhere out of way."

Daniel explained as simply and unemotionally as he could what had happened in his reality. Danny was shocked at what he heard and couldn't help a quick glance at Jack, which Daniel noticed. Bringing his attention back to his other self, Danny was struck by the hard edge to the man and the haunted look in his eyes, understanding just how much this man held inside. It was like looking into the dark mirror of his own soul, knowing how much he would hurt if something so dreadful were to happen to him. He thought he'd hit the lowest ebb with the death of Sha're and the loss of Jack and his friends at the SGC but he saw now how much worse things could be. He felt his heart go out to his alter ego.

Jack pulled the car to the side of the road and Danny realised they had left the city precincts behind, stopping at a quiet lookout. Jack got out of the car and sat on a large boulder looking out over the valley below.

"Danny," the other man said. "I don't know how much time I'll have before the tremors start. Janet Fraiser warned me that coming into such close contact with you could possibly enhance the effect, even bring them sooner."

"Then why take the risk, why bother coming to see me at all? Sad as it was to hear of your terrible misfortune, what could I do?"

"Return with us to the SCG."

"What? You came all this way for that. Didn't Jack...didn't they tell you why I left?"

"Of course they did but there's more at stake here than just you."

"I don't understand."

"We compared notes, Danny. If you want I can give you chapter and verse but we don't really have time. Jack can explain that to you later. Suffice it to say that our realities diverged after you left."

"Well obviously but don't try and tell me that has anything to do with what happened to you?"

"No, but it does have relevance with what hasn't happened here."

"What are you talking about?"

"Certain missions have gone badly here that didn't in my universe because you weren't at the SGC. This will be hard to hear but you have to understand how important this is. People have died, people who should have lived, lots of people. They didn't have to die; if you had been with SG1 there would've been options because you'd have thought of them. They did the best they could with what they had, but they didn't have you."

Dropping his head Danny closed his eyes, trying to shut out the unwanted words, the unwanted images. "Don't do this; don't put this on my shoulders. I don't deserve it. I can't go back, you don't understand."

"For crying out loud! This is me you're talking to," Daniel snapped. Danny's head whipped up when he heard Jack's words said with the exact inflection coming from his - almost - own mouth. Seeing the reaction, Daniel gave a brittle smile. "Sorry, after five years together I've picked up a few things. The point is, deep inside you are me, there's nothing I don't know about you."

"Oh, I don't know about that," Danny began but halted when he saw the expression on Daniel's face.

"Jack and I were lovers, had been for over a year, we were committed," he moved into Danny's personal space. "I had loved him a lot longer than that, just as you have." Danny's mouth dropped open and he closed his eyes as he continued to listen to his doppelganger. "I understand the pain you carry around, the guilt that you couldn't be more to your wife but you can't help who you fall in love with."

The relief was overwhelming, just to have someone else know was such a liberation.

Part of the problem when Sha're died had been Danny's guilt over his long-standing feelings for Jack. He had never been sure, really sure deep inside, if he would have stayed and married Sha're after that first mission to Abydos if Jack had given any indication at all that he might have been interested in him. His love for Sha're had grown during the year they had together, yet the memory of Jack still haunted him from time to time. He also carried the weight of his guilt over re-opening the Abydos gate. Jack tried to tell him it wasn't his fault but what Jack didn't know was that Danny had hoped perhaps one day Jack would come back through that Gate.

He'd become desperate to free her from Apophis after she was taken and implanted and though he was more grateful than he could say that Jack got him a place on SG1, it only added to his guilt. He was working side by side with the man he was in love with, the man who had promised to bring his wife back safely. In the end they'd failed. Spectacularly. His wife had been kidnapped, tortured in her own body, violated and finally died giving birth to the child of her abuser. Jack accepted his own culpability in the failure and apologised to him, apologised to him! God, that had only made him feel worse. Jack had promised him the impossible solely to make Danny feel better and now his friend was swamped with guilt because he wasn't infallible.

For a man who was usually pretty self-reliant, his behaviour next hadn't been anything to be proud of. Grief was something that affected people differently, that was no secret. Both he and Jack had experienced it before and both had been changed by its destructive force on their lives but this time, for Danny, it was exacerbated by his guilt. He'd held everyone at arm's length, not allowing anyone to touch his pain, drawing it into himself because it seemed he deserved to suffer. He was not aware of consciously thinking like that but his actions reeked of it. His greatest self-punishment was his retreat from his work, his friends and the life he'd built where for once he felt he belonged. His real punishment was his self-imposed exile from Jack.

He left the only man he had ever truly loved as penance for failing the woman he had promised to protect and care for.

"Don't punish Jack for your shame and guilt." Daniel's words pulled him from his painful memories.

"What? Punish him? What are you saying?"

"You pushed him away when he desperately wanted to help. He's kept a watch on you from the day you left but he never followed his own needs because he complied with your wishes."

"His needs?" Danny asked softly.


Jack tried to remain calm as he waited for the discussion to conclude but he had too much invested in the decision Danny was about to make. He hoped that Danny would come back with him to the SGC. The 'with him' part was subjective depending on precisely how Danny felt about him. Daniel was pretty insistent that Danny was as much in love with him as Daniel had been with his Jack but that had been before he actually spoke to his alter ego. Jack wouldn't believe that until Danny told him, if he ever did. Jack still remembered the small, but all too important differences, in the two alternate universes he knew of. For example in both those universes that Jack O'Neill had had relationships with Carter for crying out loud! Okay, as Daniel had explained that was because there had been no Daniel in either of those realities, suggesting that once a Jack met a Daniel it was kismet. Jack hoped that Daniel was correct.

However, as he sat facing a view he didn't actually see, he acknowledged that whether or not Danny wanted a personal relationship with him, Jack would do his damnedest to convince him to return to the SGC anyway. Jack would be grateful to have Danny in his life in whatever capacity the linguist chose. If that was to be just as a friend then that was what he would take.

The car door opened and Jack slowly turned to see Danny walking towards him, eyes down watching as he put one foot in front of the other; a classic Danny manoeuvre of avoidance. He was either embarrassed or nervous. Or both?

Danny was both embarrassed and nervous, he was also afraid. Daniel was quite sure that Jack loved him and as much as Danny wanted to believe it, he still had doubts. Not that Jack cared for him, that much he'd always known, but to care as a friend was not the same as the deep abiding love Danny felt for Jack and wanted desperately that Jack should feel for him. He wanted to return to the SGC, to the life that he'd missed more than he'd even admitted to himself until today. Could he return there with Jack if all the colonel was offering him was just his friendship?

He heard the crunch of gravel and looked up from his contemplation to see Jack moving towards him and he suddenly realised that he wanted Jack back in his life anyway he could. If all Jack was offering was his friendship again, then Daniel would grab it with both hands.

Jack stood and let Danny close the gap between them until the younger man stopped directly in front of him.

"Daniel has told you everything?" Jack asked.

"He told me his story," Danny didn't say anything else but his eyes portrayed his feelings. "Then he told me how much had gone wrong in this universe because I left the SGC. I could never have imagined how much much could go wrong..."

"Crap, Danny, don't blame yourself for any of this; there was no way you could've known."

"I know, but it doesn't stop me thinking about how different things could have been."

Jack simply nodded.

Suddenly Danny realised that Jack was not going to say anything to influence his decision, the colonel was leaving it entirely up to him. Danny had left the SGC by his choice and he must return the same way.

Danny looked closely at his friend and saw that though his expression seemed relaxed his eyes told a different story. Danny realised that Jack was struggling with himself and he guessed that he was ...anxious, maybe even a little afraid. Jack was the bravest man Danny knew and the only thing that frightened him was talking about his feelings. Danny remembered the words of his alter ego when he'd said that Jack had been desperate to help when Sha're had died and Danny had pushed him away instead. He wouldn't insinuate himself in Danny's life unless he showed Jack that was what he wanted. Danny would have to open himself up, tell Jack the truth and pray that Daniel was correct.

"Jack, I know Daniel doesn't have much time but I don't need any more, I'm coming back to Cheyenne Mountain with you. I can tell you now that I regretted my decision to leave and have thought about asking to come back before now."

"Why the hell didn't you?" Jack's tone softened the words.

"D'you want me to list my reasons?" Danny smiled. Jack raised an eyebrow inviting just that. Danny shrugged. "I knew my spot on SG1 would have gone and even though I knew I could still work at the mountain, even join another team, I didn't want... God this sounds so selfish when I put it into words."

"What didn't you want?"

Danny took a breath and looking Jack straight in the eye, he said. "To be on the outside looking in, I wanted my family back."

Jack smiled. "But you didn't come back."

"No, because the other reason I left hadn't changed."

"Other reason? You left because your wife died," Jack said softly. "What other reason?"

Danny licked his lips and Jack unconsciously tracked the movement. Danny noticed and took encouragement from it. "I left because of the grief over my wife's death, that's true but it wasn't the whole truth. I was also swamped with guilt."

"I knew that, because you blamed yourself for her capture since you opened the Gate."

"Because I blamed myself for not loving her enough, for losing myself in my research to help me cope with the fact that I loved someone else more than I loved my wife. Because I wondered over and over if I would have married her if you'd given me even an inkling that you might have cared for me."

Jack was stunned. To have someone else tell him that Danny loved him was one thing; to hear the words from the young man himself was something else entirely. Danny loves me; apparently had loved me for a long time. Oh god!

"When she finally died in such a terrible way it was as if I was being punished, I deserved it because I had failed her so badly. I think maybe I was even punishing you for my treachery."

"Treachery! Danny no! Love is never a choice; love is a thief in the night that steals your heart and mind. If you are guilty of anything then I must be too because I love you, Danny and I know now I always have. I have never felt about anyone the way I feel about you, I just never admitted it to myself. Danny, come back, come back with me." Jack said, reaching out a tentative hand to caress Danny's cheek.

Leaning into his touch, Danny flashed a blinding smile that took Jack's breath away and as he gasped, Danny leaned in and captured his mouth in a searing kiss. Danny slipped his tongue inside Jack's mouth and the older man moaned at the contact, wrapping his arms around the man he had always needed to touch. Whether it was a simple pat, an arm around a shoulder, or a hug to prove that he was still in one piece, still alive, whole and wonderful, the need had always been there. He'd never acknowledged before the reason why, it was simple love, all-consuming love. The need to touch had a different focus now as he pulled the man in as close as he could, regretting the layers of cloth between them, feeling him the only way he could with his tongue.

Leaning against the car, Daniel watched the unfolding drama with conflicting emotions. He wanted these two men, carbon copies of himself and the man who still had his heart, to know what he'd had, the love, the laughter, the desire and the fulfilment. As they finally embraced and kissed he was relieved that he'd helped bring them together, while at the same time he was filled with a terrible jealousy that they were just starting out to experience what he'd lost and could never have again. He wanted to rail against the vagaries of fate that decided who would live and who would die, who would be happy and who would be desolate.

Without warning Daniel began to tremble. It started in his extremities and travelled up through his body, its effect increasing as it moved through his abdomen. His chest felt as if it was being gripped in a vice and he folded over in an attempt to control the pain.

"Daniel!" Jack cried out and Daniel heard running feet. Arms went around him and the effect increased and he moaned as fire ran along his nerves.

"No, Danny, don't touch him!"

Scared, Danny released his doppelganger and backed away.

"Hang on Daniel, it'll pass," Jack said, pulling the younger man into an embrace. "This is only the first one, we've got time."

"What is it? What's wrong?" asked Danny in a shaky voice.

"Entropic cascade failure," Jack explained succinctly, dropping any pretence of not understanding. "I told you he can't stay in the same universe as another version of himself for more than 48 hours. This is how it begins. If he stayed his molecules would shake apart. He'd die."

"It's worse 'cause I'm close to him, yes?" Danny asked, arms wrapping around his torso in empathy.

"Not sure, but I think so."

"Need to get back," Daniel mumbled as the convulsion died away.

"We're going now," Danny said decisively. "Jack?"

"We'll contact your School from the Mountain," Jack said as he helped Daniel in the back of the car. "Get in front with me; we can be back in Colorado in three hours."

By the time they reached the SGC, Daniel had had another episode, this one more severe than the first. According to all the information they had, which admittedly wasn't really very much, he should be safe for about another six hours. Of course, on his return trip he had no need of a diversion via the Land of Light; he could now gate directly to the planet where the mirror was and walk through to his own reality.

There was an odd feeling permeating the SGC. Daniel Jackson was back to stay and yet Daniel Jackson was going into lonely exile. No one seemed to know how to react. Jack O'Neill was clearly happy to have Danny back but he could be seen glancing at Daniel almost continuously. Danny had retreated to what had been his office and which had since been turned into a kind of reference room used by the archaeology and linguistic departments. He wanted to stay near Daniel but it became clear his proximity was becoming increasingly difficult. Jack knew Danny was upset but this was one of those times when it was better to leave him be.

Doc Fraiser wanted to take one last look at Daniel, knowing that once he left them he would literally be on his own. General Hammond was arranging to send some supplies through the Gate for Daniel when he passed through the mirror on the planet, so at least he would have some food and water for a little time.

Jack waited outside the infirmary to catch Daniel when the Doc had finished with him. He knew this would probably be the last time they could talk and he felt a need to say a private goodbye to him, to this man who - god forbid - could be his Daniel one day.

Walking out of the infirmary Daniel was surprised to find Jack waiting, assuming he would be with Danny.


"I wanted to talk with you before you ...go back."

"Before I leave everything I ever cared about," Daniel said bitterly. "Sorry, I shouldn't have said that, it doesn't do any good."

"No, but that doesn't make it any less true."

Daniel sighed. "What did you want to talk about?"

"Let's go to my office," Jack said, realising that the prospect of returning had hit Daniel harder than even the young archaeologist had expected. As they each took a seat either side of his desk, Jack noticed that Daniel had that haunted look he'd had when he first came through. That had faded somewhat when he'd got caught up in helping the SGC with whatever information he could pass on, and then going after Danny. Now he'd done everything he could the sadness was obvious again.

"So, what is it?" Daniel asked quietly.

"You. What will you do?"

Daniel laughed but it was bitter, harsh. So unlike the laughter, rare as it might be, that was usually heard from this man. Jack was chilled by the sound.

"Do? That's what I've been wondering. What will I do? What can I do? I'm alone Jack. Can't risk going back to Earth, no way of knowing what's happened there. I don't know if it's worth going on; spending whatever life I have left going through the mirror warning other universes of the danger of the Goa'uld. Either they already face the danger and they know or they've never heard of them and probably doubt the danger. Possibly, what happened to us may never happen in another reality.

"Or should I make it my goal in life to bring together as many Jacks and Daniels as I can? Is that just conceited? God, I don't even know if it's safe to keep going through the damned thing anyway. Will this entropic cascade failure catch up with me one day? Does any of it matter?"

"What if you could find a sanctuary out there somewhere?" Jack wanted to pull him out of this self-pity, get him thinking again.


"How would you feel if you went to another reality where you hadn't survived or maybe even had never existed? Would you consider staying then?"

"I don't know. Can't say it hadn't occurred to me but if I...he'd died and they'd been together, how would the Jack of that world feel? Or if he'd never lived then Jack's life may have been different, he may never have joined SG1. God he may never have survived Abydos!" He shivered and Jack felt his flesh crawl in sympathy.

"Either way he wouldn't be MY Jack anyway," added Daniel sadly.

"I can tell you one thing," Jack said softly, holding Daniel's gaze. "Differences included, you are so like MY Danny and if I lost him - god forbid - I could love you."

Daniel looked at him and after a moment he smiled. "I think I understand. You are different too, yet somehow the same." He frowned at his own confusing words.

"Can I ask you something?" Jack asked. At Daniel's nod, Jack continued, "Tell me again, what were Jack's last words to you?"

The colour drained from Daniel's face but he knew it wasn't a casual question so he repeated the words burned into his soul, his voice breaking. "You'll ...survive. For for me, Danny. Live."

Jack gave a gentle smile. "Don't you see what he's saying? He knew you were trying to get to the mirror. For for me. He wanted you to be happy, he wanted you to live and find another Jack. Live out the dream he no longer could."

Daniel's eyes widened before filling with tears.

For safety's sake Danny watched from the control room as, below in the Gateroom, Jack and the others said goodbye to Daniel. He watched as Sam hugged him and Teal'c gave a deep bow of respect. Janet Fraiser surprised everyone by stretching up to give him a peck on the cheek, at which his face flamed. General Hammond shook his hand and finally Jack reached to shake his hand before unable to help himself, he swept the younger man into an embrace.

"Don't dare call me Spacemonkey again, once was more than enough!" commented Daniel, raising his eyes to meet those of his counterpart behind the glass. He raised an eyebrow and Danny grinned in response. Daniel then raised a hand in farewell and turned to slowly walk up the ramp to the waiting horizon. Just an arms length away from the swirling miasma, he turned one last time looking at the faces of the friends he would lose and walked through backwards.

Jack stayed staring as the wormhole shut down, as the others turned and walked away. He was so very sorry for the uncertain future of that young man and as he turned to glance up at the glass above him where he could see his Danny watching him, he thanked all the gods there were for what he had, and silently swore he would do whatever was necessary to keep him safe by his side.

Several hours later Jack decided enough was enough and it was time to take Danny home. He'd settled back into his little domain almost as if he'd never been gone and it seemed he was about to start on his bad habits of overwork and late hours too. However, Jack was whistling happily as he marched along the corridor, for just knowing Danny was in his office was nothing short of miraculous. Sam and Teal'c too seemed to want constant confirmation as they kept dropping in to make sure he was still there. Jack doubted they were the only ones either.

Reaching Danny's office Jack poked his head around the corner and, as expected, he was hard at work.

"I knew it, still working and forgetting to eat. Time to go home, Danny."

Danny looked up and smiled at Jack. "Was waiting for you, wondered how long I'd have to hang on."

"Why you..." Jack laughed.

"In case you've forgotten, I haven't got a home here any longer."

"Well, no but I was assuming you would stay with me, until you found somewhere."

"So was I," said Danny softly, looking at Jack from under his lashes.

"Do you do that on purpose?"

"Do what?" asked Danny frowning.

Jack sighed, "That!"

Danny decided this was one of those conversations and decided to quit before he got in any deeper. "I'm hungry; let's pick up dinner on the way ...home."

Jack grinned at the way Danny referred to his place as home. That was his dream, probably it was a fool's dream for a colonel in the Air Force but what was life without dreams. "Sweet. What'll it be pizza or Chinese?"

"You choose but I don't want beer and I doubt you have any wine."

"Okay, pizza it is with beer and wine. Better get some of that coffee you like too."

An hour later Jack's truck pulled into his driveway and they carried the groceries inside and made their way to the kitchen. Besides the dinner and alcohol, they had purchased more than just the coffee, realising there were quite a few other things Danny needed as he'd arrived at the SGC with literally the clothes he stood up and nothing else.

The general was arranging for his stuff to be packed up and sent to Colorado but in the meantime he needed basic toiletries. They planned to go and get him a change of clothes in the morning. Danny had suggested perhaps he needed pyjamas and Jack told him no, he had other sleeping arrangements in mind. Danny had opened his mouth to ask what then swiftly closed it, instead deciding he would rather wait and see.

Jack began to unpack the bags while Danny got out the plates and glasses for the food. Just as Danny reached up for a glass, Jack leaned over to open the cupboard above and their shoulders touched. Danny almost dropped the glass and Jack placed his hand over Danny's in an attempt to ground him, brushing his thumb over the younger man's palm.

"Danny, Danny, what you do to me."

"Jack, you know I said I was hungry?" Jack nodded. "I am," Danny continued, wrapping his arms round Jack's neck and pulling him in for a kiss.

This was no tender probing like the first kiss; this was the unleashed passion of two men who'd denied themselves for too long. Tongues duelled as each sought to plunder the other's mouth and Jack pulled Danny in as close as he could, fingers digging into Danny's shoulders trying to bring him nearer. Danny's hands were running up and down Jack's back, one up into his hair holding his head in place, the other down towards his ass pressing Jack's groin against his own, erection touching erection.

Suddenly Jack broke the kiss gasping for air, staring into the startling blue eyes of his lover. Danny's face was flushed and his breathing was strained but he held Jack's gaze.

"Too hungry for the food to wait?" Jack asked huskily.

"Too hungry for it not too," Danny murmured in response.

Jack's already half-hard cock twitched at that and he growled, "Bed?"

Danny smiled, his whole face lighting up and taking Jack's breath away. Jack pulled him in again for a swift kiss, before with a grip around his bicep he propelled Danny through his house to his bedroom, the younger man laughing all the time. The sound filled Jack with joy and then unbidden, came the memory of the other Daniel and the chill his laugh had sent tumbling down Jack's spine. Jack silently promised he would devote himself to making Danny laugh as often as he could. Danny had rarely had cause to laugh; really laugh and Jack intended to change that.

On reaching the bedroom Jack released Danny and they stood looking at each other for a second before Jack swooped in, his lips trailing down Danny's neck as his fingers fumbled to unfasten his shirt buttons. Leaning his neck to one side to allow for better access Danny was busy trying to remove Jack's shirt too. Before long both men were naked, stretched out on the bed, limbs entangled as they explored each other.

Fingers ran along sensitive skin, swirling around muscles, dipping into hollows, trailing along the line of ribs and down flanks. Jack rolled slightly so he was almost lying on top of Danny and replacing his fingers with lips and tongue he renewed his assault on the younger man.

Danny could hardly believe he was lying here in Jack's bed with the man he'd loved for so long. The sensations the older man was eliciting in him were more intense than he'd imagined even in his most fervent fantasy. Everywhere Jack touched him fire ran along his nerves and he couldn't help but wonder what it would be like when he touched his cock and he shivered in anticipation.

Jack felt the shiver run through the body under him and lifted his head from where he'd been lapping at Danny's nipples to see the younger man's head thrown back and his eyes tightly closed. Jack grinned and returned to his task, nibbling down Danny's abdomen heading towards his prize.

Danny gripped the sheets beneath him as Jack finally reached his groin and lifting his head he looked down to see the silvered head of his lover hovering over his cock and he sucked in a breath at the sight. As if by silent communication Jack looked up and met his eyes, smiling before going down and licking the tip of his cock.

Danny bucked at the contact, yelling, "Oh god, Jack!" and continuing to mumble nonsense as Jack licked along the underside of the shaft and then mouthing his balls and returning to lick back along the shaft to the tip.

Jack stole a quick glance at Danny who was tossing his head from side to side. It had been a long time since Jack had done this and it turned him on no end to know what effect he had on his young lover. Keeping a light touch on Danny's flanks he leaned back down and took him in whole, licking and sucking up and length. Jack felt Danny's muscles tense as his hips arched off the bed and he gently pressed Danny back down to keep him from thrusting. Danny let go of the sheets, his hands automatically seeking out Jack's head and he twisted his fingers into the silver hair, holding on as if his life depended on it. As Danny calmed slightly, Jack slipped one hand from his hip down to his inner thigh and massaged up and under Danny's balls to his perineum.

Danny had never felt anything like this; the sensations Jack was creating in him were awesome. He had been sucked off before but it'd never felt like this. He wanted to tell Jack how he made him feel but all he seemed to be able to say was, "Jack...yes...oh, god...Jack...please..."

Sensing that Danny was close, Jack stroked along the cleft and gently fingered at the ring of muscle protecting his entrance and at the same time he gently ran his teeth along the length of his cock.

"Jack...I'm coming...can't hold on...Jack...." He mumbled curling up towards Jack with the strength of the sensations crashing through him, then even the ability to think deserted him as he experienced the most powerful climax of his life.

Sucking as he felt Danny's balls draw up, Jack heard Danny orgasm with a cry as he came pulsing down Jack's throat, before collapsing back on the bed.

Jack pulled back, licking Danny clean as he did so, leaning over to kiss his lover. Danny moaned, tasting himself on his lover's tongue.

"That was...that was awesome. Never knew you were so talented."

"You bring out the best in me," Jack grinned.

Danny rolled slightly to meet Jack and in doing so he felt a reminder jabbing against his thigh. "Ah, now what shall we do about this?" he asked, gentle fingers dancing along Jack's cock.

"Well, there are options..."

"Yeah, got a favourite?"

"Sorta been thinking, fantasising about ...taking you, making you mine." Jack was hesitant, perhaps it was too soon.

"I'm already yours but if you want to be inside me, then do it," Danny said with a smile.

Jack just stared at him then his face broke into a grin. Jack pulled Danny to him and kissed him till both their heads were spinning.

"I love you," Jack said.

"I know," Daniel said softly, his eyes alight. "I love you. Now get on with it!"

With a laugh Jack rolled him onto his stomach and reached over to the nightstand where there was a small bottle of massage oil. He coated his hands and began a gentle massage of Danny's lower back and buttocks drawing ever nearer to his cleft and the ring of protective muscle. Danny's soft moans accompanied his movements and Jack's cock filled till it was rock hard. He slipped a finger inside massaging and stretching until he added a second finger scissoring the two to open Danny up enough to receive him.

Danny was writhing now, begging Jack, "Please Jack, I'm ready, now, please."

"Not yet, Danny, it's been too long for both of us, I'm not going to hurt you, just a moment more." He pressed a third finger in stretching the muscles as much as he could.

Danny didn't think he could take any more he needed Jack now. He suddenly felt bereft as Jack removed his fingers and he moaned.

"Just hang on," Jack muttered, slicking himself. He lined himself up. "Ready, Danny?"

"Mmmm," was the only reply Jack got.

"Take it easy, relax," Jack said as he pressed in slowly, lifting Danny's hips slightly for a better angle. He heard Danny gasp at the sensation hoping he wasn't hurting him as he continued to move forward.

Danny gasped as he felt the burning and he tried to relax. As Jack continued to move into him he took deep breaths until Jack slid all the way in.

"Oh god, Jack that feels so wonderful."

"Yeah, like I belong."

"Some movement would be nice," Danny said after a moment.

Jack just laughed and began to slide out before slamming back in and Danny gasped at the change in pace. Jack repeated the movement, setting a rhythm, searching out the prostate.

"Oh god!" Danny cried a moment later when Jack found it. "Again, again!"

Smiling like a Cheshire cat Jack picked up his pace, slowly out and slamming back in, finding the spot time and again until Danny was writhing and moaning constantly. There may have been a few words mixed up in there but if there were they weren't in any language Jack recognised. He felt good at rendering the multi-lingual genius speechless. God he felt good at being like this with Danny, so far inside that he didn't know where he ended and Danny began. He knew that whatever happened he would always remember this night; the first time they made love. It was a new beginning.

As if that thought was the trigger Jack felt his climax building, felt the tremors run through his body, felt the gathering in his balls. "I'm gonna come Danny, I can't hold back ... Danny...oh god, Danny!"

Danny heard Jack's voice as if from far away, he was so lost in the sensations rolling through him, then he felt Jack come, felt a warmth fill him, his body, his heart, his soul... he was... He was home, where he belonged. "Jack...Jack..."

Daniel walked through the mirror carrying the last case of canned goods about thirty minutes before his forty-eight hour deadline in the other reality. He hadn't experienced any further entropic cascade episodes since leaving the SGC, obviously the proximity or otherwise of his doppelganger was an important factor.

He turned from the mirror facing the desolation of the landscape surrounding him and a cold smile flitted across his features. In this twisted reality that was now all he had, it seemed right somehow that this was now his home.

He climbed to the small outcropping that overlooked this end of the city. It had been from here that he and Jack had first seen the mirror on their way from the Stargate. Standing there now he stared into his future. Maybe a futile future but it was all he had and with his usual determination he would follow where it led.

A future searching for the one reality where a Jack might be waiting for his lost Daniel, or a Jack who never had the joy of knowing him. It could take a lifetime but he could think of no better use for his time and while he was searching for the purpose of his life perhaps he could help others find theirs along the way.

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