Close Call

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Drama, Angst, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  3 - December 20-21, 1999
Spoilers:  None
Size:  32kb, short story
Written:  December 31, 2007, December 1-2,7-10,12,14,16-17,22-23,30, 2008, January 1, 2009
Summary:  When Daniel is taken captive, SG-1 is faced with a tough choice -- to save their teammate or let him die.  The usually simple choice is complicated by a unique substance that could make the Goa'uld invincible.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Irina, Ali, Jo, Claudia!

Close Call
by Orrymain

====
--Present Time
====

Jack peered in through the small window and cringed.  His stomach was suddenly in his throat, and his right fist was flexing from his anger, an anger he knew he had to keep under control.  A semi-circle of natives, all holding torture sticks and other weapons, were staring down at his lover, who had been stripped to his boxers.  He bowed his head and clenched his fist tight when one of the men held a torture stick against Daniel's arm, forcing the archaeologist to cry out in pain.

The colonel crouched down to rest on his haunches as he twisted around to talk with Sam and Teal'c.

“Carter, are you sure the C-4 will work?”

“Yes, Sir.  In its natural form, the cinquine can be easily destroyed.  It's only when it is alloyed to a metal that it becomes indestructible.”

“You're sure?”

With a nod, the major explained, “Before things went bad, I ran extensive tests on the sample they gave me.  It was just a small amount, Sir, but after the cinquine bonds with a metallic object; well, nothing I’ve tried even puts a dent in it.”

“O'Neill, if the System Lords acquire the cinquine, they will be unstoppable,” Teal'c stated matter-of-factly, his staff resting horizontally to his side.

“Right,” Jack sighed, tapping his head lightly against the hard wall.  “Carter, what's stopping them from making more after we leave?”

Sam looked at Teal'c warily and then faced her CO again as she answered, “We'll have to destroy the source, Sir.”

“The source?”

“Ajee told me that the cinquine is extracted from an underground mine, about six clicks from here.  He wouldn't let me see it, but he said that's where their entire supply comes from.”

“How do we know there's not more?” Jack asked guardedly.

“We don't, but Daniel said this society has existed at this level of evolution for the last several thousand years.  That's pretty primitive, Sir.  It's likely the cinquine was discovered by their ancient ancestors or maybe even one of their gods from the past.  I don't think they'd have the know-how to find it, even if there were more located somewhere else on this planet.”

“But the Goa'uld would,” Jack argued.

“If we destroy this source, hopefully they will never learn of it,” Sam pointed out.

“Without destroying this entire world, O'Neill, taking out the mountain is our best strategy,” the Jaffa put forth.

“Okay, plant the C-4 and take cover by the well.  If we're not out in twenty minutes, blow it up.”

“Colonel ...” Sam began.

“Major, that's an order.  After you blow this place, get to that mountain and blast it from existence.  If Daniel and I make it out, we'll rendezvous at the Gate.  If Daniel and I don't make it out,” he paused as he looked into the eyes of Sam and Teal'c before repeating strongly, “get to that mountain and blast it from existence.  Then hightail it back to the Gate and let my dog out.”

“You do not have such a creature, O'Neill.”

“I should.  Dogs are the best people,” the colonel declared.  After an awkward moment during which Sam and Teal'c stared at Jack with stoic expressions, he cleared his throat, and announced, “Twenty minutes on my mark.”  He checked his watch, as did his teammates.  “Now.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged and then began to move away, looking back to make sure Teal'c was following her.

~Okay, Danny, I'm coming in.  You're stronger than those goons.  You'll know what to do and when,~ Jack thought as he peeped in to see if anything had changed.  ~How'd we get into this mess anyway?~

====
--One Day Earlier
====

“Wow, that's, uh, interesting,” Daniel observed, his hands clasped as they rested on the conference room table at the SGC during the briefing that had begun at 0800 hours.

“It's more than interesting, Daniel,” Sam replied as she stood in front of the blackboard, a piece of chalk in her hands.  “I know it sounds complicated, but it's really very simple.  All we have to do is ...”

“Carter, it's too early.  I haven't had my Geritol yet,” Jack complained snarkily, waving his right hand slightly near his temple.

~I don't think he's old enough for Geritol.  Is he?~ Sam asked herself as she bowed her head slightly to cover her amusement.  After a momentary pause, she moved forward with her comments.  “We need to follow up on what SG-2 found on PS6-491.  If what the natives of the planet told Major Colburn is true, this substance could be the key to winning the war against the Goa'uld.”

“It's a metal,” Jack refuted.  “How does that help us?”

“Ships, weapons, buildings, defense mechanisms ...” Sam began, having a long list of possibilities at the ready for her skeptical commander.

“I knew that; I was just testing you,” Jack claimed, looking down and drawing some more doodles on his notepad.

“Sam, were there any signs that the Goa'uld know about that ... uh ...”

“Cinquine,” Sam completed for the archaeologist.  “And the answer is that we don't know, but if they do, they'll be going after it.”

“You'll get there first,” Hammond interjected .  “Colonel, try to negotiate with these natives.”

“And if we can't, Sir?” Jack questioned.

“Let's not go there,” Hammond answered.  “You have a 'go' to PS9-491 in one hour.  Dismissed.”

Instantly, both Jack and Sam stood, waiting for Hammond to leave before relaxing.

“You heard the man,” Jack ordered and then headed for the exit.

“I heard him, but I'm not sure I want to think about what he said,” Daniel said quietly to himself as he gathered his notes and headed for his office.

====
--Present Time
====

Jack prepared himself for what he needed to do next.  The entire supply of processed cinquine on the planet was stored in the shrine at the head of the room he was spying into.  He had to secure it and rescue his lover, or they'd both be blown to bits in less than twenty minutes.  Worse, he really didn't have a clue how he was going to pull off the save.  The only fact he could guarantee was that he was going to be at Daniel's side when that twenty minute mark hit.

While on the planet, SG-1's negotiations had fallen flat.  Almost from the moment the team had set foot on the planet, the only thing the natives had been interested in was Daniel.  In one sense, Jack could understand that.  However, Daniel was taken, and he was Jack's.  He hadn't enjoyed seeing the various leers and looks directed at his archaeologist.

The realization that the leers weren't sexual, as Jack had originally thought, was even worse.  Instead, Daniel was considered to be the equivalent of some evil spirit from the world's ancient past.  A little more than two hours ago, the cultural expert had tried to explain it to his teammates once he'd become aware of the connection.

//Flashback//
SG-1 was huddled together at the side of the shrine.  This was their second afternoon on the planet, and they were to be the special guests of the natives for a whopper of a dinner that evening.  Quietly, the teammates listened as the archaeologist informed them what he'd just pieced together from his observations.

“They think I'm this Ignacio, returned from the dead,” Daniel stated, looking at Jack, who was sitting on his left.  “Apparently, I resemble him.”

“How goth,” Jack quipped.  “Ignacio doesn't sound like much of a name for a bad guy.”

“Well, he was ... a bad guy,” the archaeologist stated.  “Apparently, in their mythology, Ignacio reigned over this world unmercifully.  He enslaved the people, and thousands died doing his bidding.  Thousands more were murdered just for his entertainment.  When they finally rebelled, Ignacio struck back, somehow bringing about a hundred years of famine and disease that resulted in the deaths of at least half of their civilization.”

“Not a very successful rebellion,” Jack noted.

“Daniel, what happened to Ignacio?  Did he just leave one day?” Sam asked curiously.

“No,” Daniel answered.  “The people held a feast in his honor, bringing all of his favorites to his shrine.  Essentially, they drugged his wine and captured him.”

Jack looked around, noting how similar the natives' actions were now to what his lover was relating to the team.  Volumes of delicious looking foods were being prepared, including an odd fruit called bwanna and a red beverage that tasted a lot like wine, but wasn't, that Daniel had mentioned liking during SG-1's first evening on the planet.

“After torturing him for two cycles of their moon, they put him on display at the head of the shrine.  According to the myth, thousands came from throughout the land to look at their fallen god.  Then they dismembered him.  Somewhere during that process, he died.”

“Okay, that's a bad way to go,” Jack responded with a grimace.

“They didn't kill him first?” Sam questioned, getting a shaking of the head as her answer.

“DanielJackson, they told you this mythology?” Teal'c asked, wondering why the natives would relay their history to one who they believed was the reincarnation of a mass murderer.

“Not really.  The glyphs on the columns are similar to ancient Babylonian.  I've put that together with some of the stories they have told me.”

“Maybe you're wrong,” Jack put forth, getting a look of rebuke from the younger man.  “Well, you can't be right all the time.”

“Jack, trust me on this, I'm not wrong.”

The colonel looked around at the ongoing preparations for the feast.  He saw several natives working closely on what they had called a fine elixir that would be the delight of the feast.  Maybe that red beverage the night before wasn't wine, but this elixir looked like it could be the real deal.  He couldn't risk it.  It was time to bid adieu to the natives and retrieve the cinquine.
//End of Flashback//

~I waited too long, Danny.  I'm sorry,~ Jack bemoaned as he made his way to the door of the shrine, keeping low so he'd remain undetected.

When Jack had finally ordered his team to retreat, they were greeted with spears pointed at them.  He knew they couldn't allow themselves to be captured, so he'd fought back, his teammates following suit.  Although it had been four against fifteen at that point, the use of their superior fire power had given SG-1 enough of an advantage for them to successfully fend off their attackers and run for cover in the thick of the jungle-like forest.

Unfortunately, Daniel had been the main focus of the attack, and although the team had not realized it at the time, the natives had concentrated on pursuing him rather than the others.

Seizing their opportunity when the linguist had been momentarily trailing the others, the natives brought the archaeologist down by a spear, lubed with an ancient tranquilizing element, that stabbed him in the back.

Daniel had collapsed to the ground and was taken by the natives before his teammates realized his plight.

Though they weren't aware of it yet, the only good news for SG-1 at this point was that Daniel's wound wasn't deep, and his abduction was successful mostly due to the concoction that had been applied to the spear.

Now, Jack's plan was in motion.  Time was growing desperately short, however, and the colonel knew he had to make his move soon.

~Just wish I knew what my move was,~ the colonel thought as he observed the activity from his new vantage point.  He was outnumbered, and his lover was surrounded, not to mention being used as a pin cushion for the tips of the natives' spears.  Strangely, the jabs weren't causing his Love to bleed much.  While Jack was curious about that, he couldn't afford to think about it.  He had to get Daniel to safety, and he had to do it now.  ~I can't work my way to him, so ... why beat around the bush?~

Checking his gear, Jack stood up.  He watched for a moment and then let out a tiny grunt as he brazenly entered the building, attracting the attention of the natives.

“Hi, Fellas!” Jack greeted with a fake smile.  As the natives started towards him, he held out the palm of his left hand and called out, “Whoa!  I wouldn't do that.  I'm packin'.”  At that moment, he held up his right hand and pointed to the object within it.  “It's called a grenade.  See this pin?  Once I pull it, it's ready to explode.  One little second of time, and we're *all* history -- dead, deceased, no longer among the living.”

“J'ck?” Daniel called out weakly, his eyes puffy from having been hit several times since his capture.  ~Did he pull the pin?~ the dazed man wondered, unable to focus properly.

“Dannyboy, you don't look so good,” Jack called out playfully in a quest to keep the natives off guard.  ~He sounds woozy; this isn't gonna be easy,~ he opined, thinking he was going to have to carry Daniel out of the area.

“Go,” the younger man ordered weakly as he struggled to fend off the tingling sensation that was gyrating through him.

“Can't do that, Daniel.  You know the motto -- can't leave anyone behind,” Jack spoke gallantly, smiling at his soulmate.

The colonel was putting on a show.  He still didn't have a plan, which wasn't all that unusual.  His entire plan was to play it by ear and just see where it would lead him.  Of course, he was hoping it would somehow lead both him and his Love out of the building and back to Earth.

Jack walked forward a few steps, the nervous natives backing up as he did so, though they were still pointing their weapons at him and at his lover.

“Now here's what's going to happen,” Jack stated commandingly, looking at the natives as if they were airmen.  “You're gonna just back off,” he motioned for the men to move away from Daniel.  “That's it.  Nice and slow.”

Cautiously, Jack inched his way towards the front of the shrine while surveying the interior again.  He caught sight of a side entrance.  That door would be the nearest escape route if things went sour.  Reaching his lover, he turned to face the jittery natives, their spears thrusting out in rapid movements as their feet danced with anticipation of fighting the Tau'ri.

“Are you gonna be able to make it out of here?” the colonel asked quietly, his eyes focused on the enemy.

“I'm fine,” Daniel answered, giving his usual answer to almost any inquiry as to his physical status.  Without the frequent jabs of the tranquilizer-laced spear ends, his senses were returning.  The fog of his mind was lifting, which meant the pain of his body was becoming more apparent.  “But exactly *how* are we going to get out of here?”

“You'll know when I know,” Jack responded quietly.

~That's not good.~  Daniel frowned at the response, but ultimately decided he was too tired and sore to work out what his colonel was talking about.  “Jack, get out of here.”

“Not without you, Daniel,” Jack stated, his tone determined.  In a hushed voice, he advised, “Carter and Teal'c are gonna blow this place into smithereens in less than fifteen.”

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, this isn't up for negotiation.  We can't let this sequin stuff ...”

“Cinquine,” Daniel corrected.

“Whatever,” Jack replied.  “Carter is positive she can close off the supply, which means all we need to do is make sure we destroy this little stockpile.”

“I'm not arguing, Jack.  I'd just like to know what the plan is.”

“The plan?”

“Jack, there's always a plan,” Daniel asserted.

“Better move on to Plan B then,” Jack suggested.

“Why's that?”

“Because there isn't a Plan A,” Jack stated, still smiling falsely at the murmuring natives.

Daniel blinked a couple of times and then asked, “Okay, so what's Plan B?”

“Maybe Plan C would be better,” Jack put forth with a bit of a smirk.

“Jack ...”

Raising his voice to address the natives, SG-1's team leader called out, “Listen up, people.  This doesn't have to end in a bad way.  All you have to do ...”

As the natives grumbled and made more aggressive dance-like moves, Daniel unnecessarily pointed out, “They aren't listening.” Silently, he wondered if his legs would support him if he tried to stand and retrieve his clothing that had been tossed to the side after his capture.  ~You're going to have to move eventually, Jackson,~ he told himself.

“Ya think?” Jack retaliated sarcastically.  “We just wanted to make nice,” he called out to the inhabitants of this world.  We're the good guys -- buddies, pals, amigos.  We're not the enemy, and Daniel here is not this Ignacio guy.”

The native warriors' murmuring grew louder and angrier upon hearing the name of the tyrant who had enslaved their ancestors.  Violently, they thrust their spears towards the Tau'ri.

“Crap!” Jack exclaimed, realizing his verbal blunder.

“Thanks, Jack, for reminding them,” the archaeologist spoke dryly.

“Can I help it if they think you're some reincarnated god?” the older man countered, letting out a groan as he fought for a remedy to their situation.  “Look, how about putting down the ...”

“They're not listening, Jack,” Daniel observed again.

“The ones you have to worry about are the Goa'uld,” Jack warned in a raised voice, hoping to avert the violence that looked as thought it was coming any second.  “Big guys with glowing eyes.  They're nasty.  You really don't want them showing up uninvited.”  He sighed, fully aware that Daniel was right.  The natives weren't paying much attention to his words.  “Okay, maybe you do, but that only leaves me with one choice.”

The clock was ticking down.  No matter what Jack said, the natives' position and attitude remained unchanged.  Checking his watch, the colonel knew he had just one more chance to try and convince the locals to back off and give up the cinquine.

“Don't make me do it,” Jack requested earnestly, moving one hand to the top of the grenade he was holding and preparing to pull the pin.

All of sudden, one of the natives shouted, obviously giving a command in his own language.

“Jack!” Daniel shouted, finding his legs and leaping up to knock his lover out of the way of the oncoming spear.  ~Oh, that hurt,~ he thought, feeling the spear graze against the side of his arm.

As with the stab to his back, Daniel was once again fortunate that this latest injury wasn't severe.  It's worst effect was that he was suddenly feeling more tired again.  While his arm ached, the wound wasn't life threatening nor was it bleeding much.

~Have to get out of here,~ Daniel told himself, pushing aside the minor pain he was feeling.  In front of him, he could see the rough outline of the blurry grenade, which Jack had dropped and which he believed already had the pin removed. ~No!~  Aware he had a mere split second to act, he picked up the grenade, praying his finger was in the right place to prevent the weapon from exploding in his face.  ~Got it!~

At the same time, Jack turned over onto his back, seeing the natives running towards him.  He fired off his P-90 repeatedly, the bodies slumping down from the impact of the bullets.  When his powerful weapon jammed, he stood up and, in a flash, grabbed the grenade from Daniel, pulled the pin, and hurled it towards the cinquine.

“Time's up!  Let's go!” Jack shouted.

Reaching his uninjured arm out to grab his clothing, Daniel called on his deep desire to live and jumped up, trailing his lover and practically flying out the side exit.

A thunderous blast occurred, forcing the two men forward and onto the ground.  Their hands instantly went over their heads to shield them.

“Move!” Jack ordered, reaching over and helping to pull his Love up.

The teammates ran as fast as they could, knowing the C-4 was about to explode.  They were still terribly close when the substance went off, causing the two men to again be thrust to the ground.  This time, Jack managed to cover his soulmate's upper body, almost suffocating his lover by the protective hovering he was doing.

“Jack ...”

“That should do it,” Jack stated, looking back at the burning building.

“Jack ...”

“What a blast!”

“*Jack!”

Facing his lover, the colonel asked, “You okay?”

“I will be once you get off of me,” the younger man gasped, relieved when Jack moved away.

“You've never objected to me topping before,” the older man spoke, sounding wounded from the comment.

“Yeah, but your elbow isn't usually jamming my throat,” Daniel replied.

“Sorry,” Jack responded, realizing now that he might have been in a dangerous position atop his lover.  ~Of course, we like danger.  We have a lot of fun with danger.  Being with ...~

“Jack, are you okay?”

“Yeah.  You?”

“Oh, yeah,” Daniel replied, reaching over for his clothes and starting to dress.

“Daniel, those two seconds you took to grab your BDUs could have cost you your life.”

“There's no way I'm going through the Stargate in just my boxers, Jack.  I've been laughed at enough for one lifetime.”

“I'm not laughing,” Jack stated with a touch of loving seductiveness.

“I don't need them looking at me like that, either,” Daniel replied dryly.

“Danny ...”

“Jack, I'm okay,” Daniel insisted, ignoring the fact that he could barely stand up. ~It's just a couple of scratches,~ he told himself even as he stared at the blood running down his arm.

Jack was prevented from calling his Love on the lie because, at that moment, the radio on his uniform sounded.

“Sir?  Are you okay?” Sam called out as she and Teal'c began making their way towards their new objective.

“We're clear, Carter,” Jack reported.  “How long will it take you to blast the source?” he asked about the mountain.

“Not long,” Sam answered, brushing back a bush as she moved forward.

“Okay.  We'll see you at the Gate.”

“Daniel?” Sam questioned.

“He's fine, Carter,” Jack assured, clicking off his radio.  He stared at his archaeologist, watching as Daniel pulled on his black top, covering up the nicks, scratches, and scabs made by the natives' spears.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief, giving it to the man who owned his heart to use as padding to stop any more blood from escaping.  “Does it hurt?”

“I'm on my second wind,” Daniel answered cryptically, making sure the handkerchief was properly held in place.  “We'd better go.”

Daniel started to stand, but wobbled slightly, falling back into his Love's arms.

“Hi,” Jack greeted with a smile.

“Gawd.”

“No, just Jack,” the older man teased, pausing to caress his soulmate's cheeks.

“Jack, we don't have time.  Let's just ... get back to the Gate,” Daniel pleaded, turning and heading back.

~So, not as okay as you want me to believe,~ Jack determined from the desperate plea of the younger man.  ~I'll fix it -- tonight.~

====

Late that night, the lovers were on the roof deck, sitting side-by-side against the wall of the house.  They'd just finished a few beers and a large pizza.

“So the pin wasn't pulled,” Daniel stated though he was half asking for verification for something he'd already heard in the mission debriefing.

“Nope.  I was ready to pull it when you saved my life.”

Daniel didn't say anything in response, and the two men settled into a calm quiet that lasted for a few minutes.

Then, hearing Daniel's hiss as he moved slightly, Jack asked, “Danny, maybe you should have stayed in the infirmary.”

“Jack, I'm fine.  You know Janet wouldn't have let me go, if she thought I needed to be there,” Daniel replied.  “I just ... ache a little, that's all.”

“The natives thought you were a pin cushion,” Jack groused.

“It looked worse than it was,” Daniel stated.

Indeed, Janet's examination of the archaeologist revealed that none of the wounds had done any significant damage.  In fact, most were just surface scratches and cuts.  A blood analysis also disclosed that the tranquilizing substance wasn't harmful, beyond dulling Daniel's senses and causing him to feel tired and weak.  In reality, it wasn't even a tranquilizer as the Tau'ri knew the material to be.

Where Daniel had been hurt the most, was in the beatings he'd received just after being captured and while SG-1 was regrouping, before Jack had ever peered in that window.

“If they hadn't hit me so much at first, I wouldn't have been so out of it when you first came in, which, by the way, you shouldn't have done,” Daniel told his soulmate.

“Daniel, there's no way I was going to sit there and watch them Dahmerize you.”

Daniel stared at his lover and the reference to the well-known serial killer who had been characterized by dismembering his victims.

“I meant that you should have left me.”

“I know what you meant, and you know that's never going to happen,” Jack reminded strongly.  “Does it hurt much?” he asked, his forceful tone now tender and sweet.

“No, not really,” Daniel answered with a smile.  “Jack ...”

“Come here,” Jack beckoned, knowing what his lover wanted.  After all, it's what he wanted, too.  A minute later, his arms held Daniel close to him, the archaeologist now seated in front of him.  He smiled, feeling Daniel's head relaxing against his shoulder.  “Better?”

“Much.”

“Too close, Danny,” Jack spoke softly.  “It's a miracle that spear didn't go right through your back, and it's just dang luck that the other one only grazed you.  It was just too close of a call.”

“Bad aim,” the injured man attempted to tease, though neither he nor his soulmate laughed at the remark.  “I just wish it hadn't ended like it did,” he sighed sadly.  “Jack, those people were only doing what they've been raised to do.  They didn't know any other way.”

“We couldn't take the chance, Daniel,” Jack countered.  “We're just lucky we got there first.”

“Maybe the Goa'uld never would have found them.”

“And maybe they would've found it tomorrow,” Jack returned.  “No matter how you look at it, we had to remove the cinquine.  We tried to make them a deal; offer them protection, but they didn't want any piece of us.”  Silently, he thought, ~Actually, they did want a piece of you, several pieces in fact.  So do I, Danny, so do I.  Let's see if I can't get you in the mood before this night is out.~”

“I shouldn't have gone.”

“Daniel, that's crazy,” Jack argued.  “You didn't know they'd mistake you for some myth.”

“I guess not,” Daniel sighed sadly.  “I wasn't sure we'd make it this time.”

“Me, either,” Jack admitted.  “We were lucky the natives backed off.  It gave us a shot at that side door.”  He paused a moment and then queried, “Danny, talk to me.”

Daniel sighed.  He had survived, and so had Jack.  As much as he favored sharing feelings, he really wasn't in the mood to talk about it.  Yet, he felt tortured by it at the same time.

“They didn't do anything but ... point and ... tell me what they were going to do,” the archaeologist answered quietly.  “I'm just a little tired of being the victim all the time.  I mean, why is it always me?”

“It's not always you, Angel,” Jack responded softly, kissing his Love on the side of his neck.  “It just feels that way because it was you this time.”

“It's just ... I'm the weakest member of the team, Jack.  We both know it's the truth.”

“That's *so* not true,” Jack refuted strongly.  “Danny, I'm the first to admit that when SG-1 began, you were the weakest member -- physically, but that's it, and you've come a long, long way from that first mission.”

“But sometimes, I just ... I feel so helpless; like I'm a hindrance to the team,” Daniel sighed, finally admitting what had been eating at him since his capture.

“That's not true, and I think you know that.”

“You can't deny the truth just because you l...uh ...”

Jack cringed.  His lover's self-doubts were surfacing big time, and his professional uncertainties were now affecting the personal ones.

“Love, Daniel.  The word is love.  I love you, and I will always love you.  Get used to it,” Jack stated sharply.

“And?” the younger man prodded, knowing there was something more his lover hadn't yet said.

“And get over it,” Jack responded.  “Danny, there's no way you could have known that you resembled that Iggy guy.  It was a fluke.  I'd also like to remind you that you saved my life by pushing me out of the way and taking that spear hit yourself.  *You* did that, and you did it while in a weakened condition.”  He paused a brief moment to collect his inflating emotions.  “You're just feeling vulnerable because of everything that's happened lately.”

Daniel reflected back and agreed, “I promised her I'd save her, Jack, but I couldn't.”

“You tried, Danny.  You did everything you could to save Sha're.”  Jack sighed as he caressed the bare skin of his Love.  The Abydonian woman had died just a month or so again, and he knew his life partner was still recovering from the emotional blow.  “Daniel, Sha're wanted to be your wife.  She was a gift, but she was a willing gift.  My gut tells me that if given the choice, she wouldn't have changed a thing.”

“She didn't want to be just another Abydonian wife,” Daniel admitted.  “She had too much spirit for that.”

“Independence, and that was something that you gave her.  Let it go, Angel.  She understands.”

“I hope so,” Daniel sighed, feeling a little bit better.  “I guess that's why what happened has affected me so much.  I mean, uh, I couldn't help during the foothold situation, either, and I blamed you for ...”  He shook his head, his chest heaving dramatically as he stopped himself.  “I need to let it go.”

“All of it.  You are the most valuable member of my team, Daniel, and more importantly, you're *my* life.  I need you.”

Daniel let the words sink in.  He was tired of dragging around his past, and while he couldn't yet shake his darkest demons, he could let go, at least for now.  After all, he was safe, in his soulmate's arms, and that was a feeling that outdid anything else he felt.

“You saved me,” Daniel spoke a minute later, his tone a bit emotionally.

“That's my job,” Jack responded.

“Not today,” Daniel corrected.  “Well, I mean, yes, you did, but that's not what I was referring to.”

“What then?”

“Here, when I was ... cold,” the archaeologist stated, thinking back to the night when the lovers had first consummated their passion.

“That was mutual,” Jack put forth.

“Babe?”

“Yes, Love?”

“I think I need ... saving again.”

With smiles on their faces, the lovers kissed and then headed inside, to the warmth of their bed and the sweat of their bodies as they joined together in passion, saving each other as only they could do.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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