"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the podium our special guest speaker today, Dr. Daniel Jackson."
An enthusiastic round of applause greeted Daniel's somewhat hesitant approach to the podium. His eyes immediately sought out those of Jack, seated in the centre of the front row, smiling encouragingly up at him. The sight of those familiar warm brown eyes fixed on him was enough to center and ground Daniel. He took a deep breath and began to speak.
"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it's an honor to be here today, addressing this symposium."
Several weeks earlier
SG-1 was seated around the conference table in the briefing room, awaiting the arrival of General Hammond. They had been called into the meeting suddenly, in the middle of a day when they were working on various projects, having no mission planned for a couple of days.
General Hammond arrived and Sam and Jack automatically stood. The General waved them back to their seats.
"SG-1, I have received some important news from the President and I thought it only right that as the flagship team of this facility, you heard the news first. Now that the Goa'uld have been defeated, the President feels that it is time to make the Stargate program public."
"I am here today to discuss with you the nature of the work I have been doing for the past several years in Colorado Springs, in conjunction with the US Military, most notably the Air Force."
Daniel paused to look at Jack, who was radiating approval and support.
Several weeks earlier
"And in other news, the President announced today that there would be no bar on homosexuals joining the military and that anyone caught discriminating against such individuals would be subject to severe censure and various penalties, depending on the nature of the behavior involved."
Jack switched off the television set and looked at Daniel, curled up in a corner of the couch.
"So, a double whammy," he remarked casually, moving to sit next to his lover.
Daniel nodded his head.
"I think we should come out," Jack said conversationally.
"What?" That brought Daniel's head up, surprise coloring his tone.
"You heard me," Jack replied.
"As is now common knowledge, the work that I did on Egyptian writing systems and the timing of Ancient Egyptian history, was in fact correct. Thanks to the late Catherine Langford," Daniel took a breath again, it still hurt to say "late", he missed Catherine so much, owed her so much. "Thanks to Dr Langford," he continued "I was brought to Cheyenne Mountain to look at an artifact discovered at Giza in 1928, a cover stone, which linguists had been trying to decipher for some time with no success."
Daniel paused, remembering the first time he had seen the cover stone deep in the bowels of a place that was now almost as much a home to him as the house he shared with Jack.
Several weeks earlier
"Daniel, get geared up, we're going on a mission."
Daniel looked up in surprise to see Jack strolling into his office, hands stuffed in his pants pockets, casual look on his face.
"Wh-what? Jack?" Daniel stuttered in surprise. "What mission?" he asked, confused. There was no mission scheduled for SG-1 for the next several days, they were supposed to be on hand to brief the on-going parade of politicians and senior officers visiting the newly-revealed, not-quite-so-secret facility below NORAD.
"Just do it, Daniel," Jack said, a hint of impatience in his tone. "Be at the 'Gate room in 30 minutes." And with that, Jack turned and left again, giving Daniel no chance to ask additional questions.
Sighing in frustration, Daniel debated for all of a minute what to do. In the end, he did the only thing he could: packed away what he was working on neatly, tidied his desk as best he could, shut off his computer and left his office, turning out the lights and locking the door behind him.
When he arrived in the 'Gate room 27 ½ minutes later, he found it empty, apart from Jack and General Hammond. The 'Gate was already activated, blue pool of plasma shimmering.
"What's happening?" he asked, pausing in his fumbling with his pack.
"A necessary trip off-world," Hammond said smoothly.
"Sir?" Daniel remained puzzled.
"Colonel O'Neill will explain everything once you arrive," Hammond said. "You have my permission to leave, gentlemen."
"Thank you, sir." Jack gave a smart salute, surprising Daniel yet again with his uncharacteristically formal behavior. Then he set off up the ramp, throwing a, "Coming Daniel?" over his shoulder as he went.
Daniel shrugged and followed. What other choice did he have?
"I was able to translate the stone's symbols and determine that it spoke of some sort of device called a Stargate. I later discovered that it also showed the co-ordinates to another planet, known as Abydos and was able to verify that the Stargate was in fact a device which allowed travel between two planets by means of an inter-dimensional wormhole."
Daniel paused to allow that to sink in a bit. He knew these people had heard all this before, but only in media-speak. He wanted to explain the process of discovery to his fellow scientists, so that they could capture some of the wonder and excitement that he had felt in the early days of the project.
Several weeks earlier
Daniel followed Jack back through the Stargate to Earth, not sorry to be going home again, but reluctant to face what might be waiting for them on the other side. He and Jack had done a lot of talking on their vacation to P9X-334, as there wasn't a lot else to do on an uninhabited planet, other than the obvious and they'd done plenty of that as well. Daniel smiled at the memories. Jack had proved that he really was only as old as the man he was feeling, to paraphrase Groucho Marx.
But now reality loomed through the event horizon and certain things had to be faced and dealt with.
"Welcome back, Colonel, Doctor," General Hammond was at the bottom of the ramp, waiting for their return. "I trust your mission was a success?"
"Yes sir," Jack said fervently.
"Very well, de-brief in an hour, in my office." The General gave them a quick nod, then moved away, giving Sam and Teal'c the opportunity to welcome them back.
"It is good to see you again, O'Neill, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said in his usual deep tone.
Sam hugged them both. "You look great," she whispered in Daniel's ear.
"Welcome back, sir," she said more formally to the Colonel, despite the hug.
"Thanks Sam," Daniel replied.
"Yeah, thanks Carter," Jack said with a nod. "Glad to see you managed not to blow the place up while we were gone."
"Jaa-ack," Daniel said in a warning tone.
Sam grinned, taking the banter in her stride. "No sir," she responded smartly. She led them from the 'Gate room and along the corridor to the elevator which would take them to the Infirmary and Janet's needles. "It was tempting though," she said, once they were in the metal box and heading up. "You wouldn't believe some of the people that came through here, asking questions."
"It was indeed a trying time," Teal'c added, a pained look on his face.
Daniel and Jack both laughed at that.
"So, during my time on Abydos, I discovered what was later nicknamed the map room, that contained sets of cartouches with 'Gate addresses. Lieutenant Colonel Carter was able to devise a program with the help of our scientists to account for stellar drift. This then allowed us to start dialing these other destinations and begin our explorations of the galaxy, although our initial aims were rather limited."
Daniel was really hitting his stride now; he had abandoned the podium and his notes to pace and gesture as he walked, grateful that he was wearing a wireless mic attached to his lapel, leaving both hands free of encumbrances.
Several weeks earlier
Daniel threw the pile of papers he was holding on to the coffee table in disgust.
"I can't believe this," he said, turning to Jack, who was sitting on the couch watching his lover pace.
"Believe what?" Jack asked. "That you're getting so many invitations?" Jack rose smoothly to his feet and crossed over to the other man. "What else did you expect?"
"No, that isn't a surprise," Daniel admitted. "What I can't believe is what a two-faced bunch of hypocrites all these people are!"
He scrabbled through the pile for a piece of paper, then held it up and waved it at Jack. "Listen to this," he said and read aloud from the sheet. "'I am delighted to extend an invitation to you to speak at our symposium this year. I never had any doubts about the veracity of your statements at the time of your lecture, Dr. Jackson, and can only regret that I was unable to support you at the time.' Fucking piece of shit!"
Daniel crumpled the paper and threw it down on the coffee table. Jack eyed him warily, unsure how to react. He hadn't seen his lover this angry before. Oh, he'd seen him pissed off before, usually when he was Goa'uld baiting, but not this molten rage.
"So toss the lot," he finally said. "They're obviously a bunch of second rate jerks that don't deserve the crumbs from your table."
Daniel turned to Jack, a huge grin on his face. "Thanks Jack!" he said and gave his lover an enthusiastic kiss.
Jack was happy to return the kiss, but when they broke for breath, he had to ask. "What was that for Danny?"
"For being there for me, for being supportive, for understanding. For loving me," Daniel replied. He swayed forward and kissed Jack again.
"During the course of missions, the goal of our work gradually changed as our knowledge about exactly who and what was 'out there' grew," Daniel gestured expansively as he made that last remark, indicating the galaxy beyond the room.
"Our primary mission began to be about more than just trying to find the Abydonians taken prisoner, it became about trying to destroy the Goa'uld and find cultural and technical knowledge that we could take back to Earth."
Several weeks earlier
"I think you should see this one," Jack handed the envelope to Daniel across the breakfast table. Jack had made it his personal mission to go through his lover's mail every day, removing all the invitations and other crap that he received now that the program was public and Daniel's role in it clearly enunciated to the world.
Daniel accepted the letter and noted the Oxford postmark and foreign stamps on the heavy cream envelope. The address was typed, rather than hand written, giving no clue as to who had sent it. The return address was the name of the college where Daniel had studied for his Masters degree.
"I thought it might be from Professor Watson," Jack said, referring to one of the few people who had genuinely stayed in touch with Daniel after his academic exile.
Daniel nodded agreement as he carefully slit the envelope open with his as-yet-unused knife.
"During our explorations we have had the privilege of meeting a number of advanced races from different parts of not just our own galaxy, but other galaxies as well."
Daniel returned to the podium to pick up the controller for his slide presentation. His audience was breathless, hanging on every word. Jack sat comfortably in his seat, smug look on his face, pleased he had talked Daniel into making this trip.
Two weeks earlier
"Dr. Jackson, I'm pleased to tell you that your request to speak at the International Linguistics Symposium in Oxford has been granted. Colonel O'Neill will accompany you on your trip as the Air Force's liaison officer." General Hammond smiled at the linguist. He knew that no matter what he had said, there was no way that he could stop the Colonel going on this little trip, especially as the man was practically retired now.
"Thank you General," Daniel said gratefully.
"The Pentagon feels that a 10 day leave of absence is more than warranted, to allow you plenty of time to get the most benefit from this occasion," the General added.
Daniel was surprised by that, he had been sure that he would only get a five day trip, including the travel to and from England, but Jack had insisted he ask for the extra five days and that he cite it as necessary to allow him to spend more time with his colleagues, both before and after the symposium.
"Since the defeat of the Goa'uld, we have made many contacts with races that had been similarly subjugated, as well as other more advanced races, some of whom were willing to share technology with us in a mutually beneficial trade-off."
Daniel was back to pacing again as he described one of the races they had met a year previously.
The previous day
"Nervous?" Jack asked as he looked at Daniel in the bathroom mirror as they both got ready for the banquet which was to officially start the symposium.
Daniel nodded in agreement. "Just a little," he said.
Jack took Daniel's cold hands in his warm ones. "Just be yourself and they'll be falling over themselves to wine and dine you," he advised. "You'll knock them dead."
Daniel snorted. "I doubt that," he said.
"Trust me, I'm a Colonel," Jack said with an arched eyebrow.
"Not for much longer," Daniel pointed out. "Everything's changing."
"Not everything," Jack replied. "Teal'c will always be Teal'c."
Daniel had to smile in agreement at that statement. Even though he was now Chu'lak's official ambassador to Earth, he was still the same Teal'c he had always been, at least to the rest of SG-1 and his other friends at the SGC.
"In conclusion, I would like to take a few moments of your time to thank and acknowledge the people whom I have been privileged to work alongside these last few years at the SGC."
As he wound up his talk, Daniel was back at the podium again.
"First of all, there are all the technicians and backroom staff who kept the SGC functioning while some of us were off running around the galaxy."
That earned him a laugh and Daniel paused, smiling, until it was silent and he could continue.
"Then there are the other SG teams, who were also out there with us, making discoveries, General Hammond, commander of the SGC and one of the greatest men it has been my privilege to work with, Dr. Janet Fraiser who patched us up and kept us healthy more times than I can count and of course, the other members of SG-1, whom I worked alongside on a daily basis. Master Teal'c of Chu'lak and Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter are unable to be with us today, but I am happy to go on record as saying they are wonderful friends and amazing colleagues. And last but most definitely not least, the man who led SG-1 for so many years, someone whom I am proud to call friend, as well as the man that I love, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. Thank you."
Daniel stepped back from the podium as applause, cheers, whistles and stamping feet began to echo through the room. He smiled down at Jack who was sitting in his seat still, torn between embarrassment and pride.
The standing ovation went on for a long time, making Daniel blush. He was glad when silence finally returned and Professor Watson came to the podium to make his closing remarks. Daniel lost no time in disappearing backstage, glad to find Jack there waiting for him.
"You were amazing, Daniel," Jack said fervently, hugging the other man to him.
"Thanks," Daniel said, still in something of a daze at the rapturous acclaim he had received.
The next day
Jack and Daniel reached the entrance to Worcester College.
"Why here?" Jack asked his lover as they walked through the iron entrance gates and down the path.
"I loved it here when I was a student," Daniel replied. "It was like an oasis of calm in the heart of the city."
Jack looked skeptical at that - they were in the middle of a busy city after all, but he followed Daniel through the archway in silence. Once through into the grounds, Daniel stopped and took a deep breath. Thanks to one of the races they had made contact with, he could do so without needing to worry about anti-histamines any more. The Gollai had been happy to trade their medical technology with Earth in return for stories and information about their early ancestors' cultural heritage, information which had been lost to them in the years since their removal from Earth by the Goa'uld. And there had been none of the dangers associated with the exchange that had characterized Earth's almost disastrous dealings with the Aschen some time before.
"This is amazing," Jack's hushed, almost reverent tone, broke into Daniel's musings and he smiled at his lover.
"Glad you appreciate it," Daniel said, taking Jack's hand and leading him to the steps down to the level of the lawn. They skirted the edge of the grass and went through a high, narrow gateway onto another path.
"A lake!" Jack was surprised to see the body of water, ducks floating merrily upon it.
Daniel smiled at him, pleased with the success of their trip. They set off slowly down the path, enjoying an opportunity to spend some quiet time together after the success of Daniel's talk at the symposium the day before.
When Jack had suggested they go out somewhere together, Daniel had readily agreed. He still found all the attention he was receiving, now that the Stargate program was public, a little overwhelming. He had thought of Worcester College at once, remembering how soothing he had found it walking around the grounds in his student days.
"Has it changed much?" Jack asked, tapping into his lover's thoughts with uncanny skill.
"Not really," Daniel said, looking around him. "It's certainly still as beautiful as ever."
"Definitely beautiful," Jack agreed, but he was looking at Daniel, not at their surroundings.
"Jaa-ck!" Daniel was annoyed with himself for blushing at the compliment. Jack merely grinned. And then kissed him soundly, to hell with who might be watching. However, no one seemed to be around to pay them any attention and Daniel finally relaxed a bit and allowed Jack to lead him further down the path.
Eventually, their wanderings brought them back to their starting point and they walked back up the steps to the entranceway to the College.
"Thanks Danny," Jack said.
"What for?" Daniel asked, surprised.
"For everything," Jack said. "But most of all, for being you. I love you."
Daniel smiled brilliantly. "I love you too, Jack," he said. And this time it was Daniel who initiated the public kiss, wanting to acknowledge to Jack just how much the other man meant to him.
"Let's go back to the hotel," Jack suggested when they broke apart, a knowing smirk on his face.
Daniel didn't bother replying, he merely dragged Jack after him back up the path and into the city for the walk back to their hotel.
|Summary:||One possible future.|