Dinner at Seven

Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Claudia!
Category:  Slash, Angst, Action/Adventure, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  6 - January 6 - February 9, 2003
Spoilers:  Fire and Water, Holiday, The Fifth Race, Small Victories, Maternal Instinct, Ascension, Absolute Power, Red Sky, Meridian, Full Circle, Fallen, and Homecoming
Size:  250kb
Written:  April 9-17,21, May 15-17, 2004  Revised for consistency:  February 12-13,16, 2007  Revised for timeline:  March 23-24, April 1,9, May 8,26, 2008
Summary:  When Daniel is reported dead, a disbelieving Jack leads SG-1 with its newest 'member', Jonas Quinn, in a search for his lover.  What Jack eventually finds is full of surprises.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) The poem quoted is “Funeral Blues” by Wystan Hugh Auden from  “The Collected Poetry of W. H. Auden” published in 1945
4) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “They Don't Understand,” “Drawer of Trust,” “Guilt's Indiscretion,” and “Missing in Action”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Drdjlover, Jackette, Lissa, Melissa!

Dinner at Seven
by Orrymain and Claudia

“I love you so friggin' much, Danny,” Jack spoke softly into his lover's ear as they danced in the privacy of their living room.

Daniel placed a kiss on his lover's neck and sighed peacefully.  His hands snaked under the back of Jack's tan shirt to make contact with the skin.

“I love you, too.  I wish we did this more often,” the archaeologist opined.

“It's nice, isn't it?”

“Mmm ... very.”  Daniel rested his head on Jack's right shoulder and soon felt a kiss on his forehead.  “I don't ever want this to stop.”

“Our feet will get tired, not to mention the CD will end,” Jack responded as his hands caressed Daniel's back as they moved with an amazing amount of grace across their living room floor.

“I don't mean that.  Besides, our music never stops, not the music that matters, anyway.”

“You're right,” Jack agreed softly.  “Our music is forever.”  He leaned his cheek against Daniel's soft hair as they moved as one together.  “So, what did you mean, exactly?”

“Us.  This feeling that ... the world is right.”

Jack smiled, remarking, “It's not going to stop.  We have too many songs we've never danced to yet.”

As the romantic tune ended and the CD clicked to a halt, Daniel sighed, “I'm going to miss you.”

“Why do I let you go on these missions without me?”

“Because you don't have a choice.”

“Yes, I do.  Your sweet behind, not to mention the rest of you, belongs to me, and I don't have to let anyone else have even a glimpse of it, if I don't want to.”

“Jack, it's my job, and I love it, and you'd be bored stiff for weeks on an excavation.”

“A whole month, Danny,” Jack lamented, suddenly pulling away and turning towards the patio door.  “It's too long.”

Jack suddenly felt like his lungs were being sucked dry.  The thought of Daniel being gone so long made his body ache, just from the anticipation of his lover's departure.

Daniel followed in his Love's path, placing his hands along the smooth silk material of Jack's shirt.  He leaned forward and kissed the back of Jack's neck, and then slowly wrapped his arms around his soulmate.  He leaned his chin forward onto Jack's left shoulder as he gently tugged the man to him.

The archaeologist sighed lightly as he spoke, “We had some tough times last year, Babe, but Christmas and New Year's were awesome.  Now, everything is back to normal.  Doing this, going on the dig, is normal for me.  For you, it's doing whatever colonels do.”  Daniel couldn't help but chuckle at his remark.  Then he added, “Besides, it's all how you think about it.  It's not a whole month, but it's just a few weeks.”

“Weeksssssss,” Jack groaned, emphasizing the 's' for several seconds.

“Jack, don't overreact,” Daniel chastised.  “You'll be coming to ... gawd, check up on me at least once, and every now and then, I'll think of something that I need, so that we can at least talk for a minute.”

“A minute,” Jack sighed with dread, his heart sinking more at the thought of their separation.

Daniel felt the tenseness of his lover and reminded, “Jack, I love you.  This is an exciting mission.  The preliminary report is just incredible.  I think there's a tie-in with the Mayan culture of Earth.  I wouldn't go if it was just some random dig.”

“I know,” Jack acknowledged tenderly.  He wasn't the least bit happy about this, but he knew Daniel's expertise was needed, and more than that, Daniel really wanted to go.  How could he hold his lover back from a chance to engage in his passion, a passion still viewed as secondary at the SGC to most other military needs?  ~But that doesn't mean I have to like it.~

“Jack,” Daniel spoke quietly, “there's one more reason I haven't mentioned yet.  It's ... something I've thought about since we first got the report about the ruins on this planet.”

Jack sighed as he looked into the reflection of Daniel's eyes in the patio glass.  He didn't need for Daniel to say it.  He had felt it the moment his soulmate had made the link to the Mayans.

“Laura Templeton,” Jack guessed as he turned around to face Daniel.

Daniel smiled, a bit surprised that Jack had remembered the civilian archaeologist.

“I ... wasn't sure you'd remember.”

“She saved your life, Danny.  I told you years ago that I'd never be able to repay her for that.”

“She saved my life at the expense of hers, and back then, you told me that the way to honor that act was to go on, and I have.  Jack, this particular site, what I saw from the photos and the quick recon we did last week, was incredible.  It's something that Laura would have insisted we examine closer.  I have to do this, if not just for history, than for Laura.”

“I understand, Angel.  I do, but it's still a long time.  It's not easy to be apart from you that long.”

“It's not going to be easy for me, either, you know.”

Jack was tense, sad, and a bit frustrated that SG-1 couldn't accompany SG-11 on the dig.  He'd requested it, but Hammond had refused.  There were too many upcoming missions.  To make matters worse, in Jack's opinion, while his archaeologist would be with SG-11, there would be a replacement scientist assigned to the flagship team.  Jack hated breaking in replacements.  Actually, he just hated any replacement for a member of his team.

“Babe, I love you.  Please don't ruin our night,” Daniel implored, desiring nothing more than to have a perfect and wonderful romantic night with his soulmate to think about while digging for relics on the faraway planet.

Jack exhaled, trying not to be a downer, explaining, “It's just I'm kinda used to having you around.”

“Only because I'm a better cook.”

“That and you're better with the laundry,” the colonel quipped.

“Oh.”

“La Mio Bello Stella Cadente, come home safe,” Jack requested emotionally.

“I have all the motivation in the world to come home safely, Love.  Gawd, I'm going to miss you so much.”

Daniel leaned forward to kiss Jack, the kiss quickly becoming passionate.

“Let's move this upstairs,” Jack whispered.  “Have to send you off in the traditional manner.”

“Can't argue with tradition,” Daniel agreed, smiling broadly and then following his lover up the stairs for a long night of lovemaking.

====

“Long night, Daniel?” Sam asked the yawning archaeologist the next morning as she stood on the front porch.

“Uh ... well ...” Daniel blushed.

It had been a long night, a wonderful night as he and Jack had made love into the early hours of the morning.  He figured that he'd had about two hours sleep at the most, and it was worth every lost minute in his opinion.

Sam couldn't help laughing.  While they still didn't talk that openly about the romantic relationship between Jack and Daniel, she did sometimes enjoy teasing Daniel when the opportunity arose.

~You're just so cute when you blush, Daniel,~ the blonde thought cheerfully.  She decided to concentrate, though, on the reason for her visit.  “I just came to say goodbye.  Once I get to the base, I'm going to be involved in some experimental research, and I won't be able to leave it once we begin.”

“That was sweet of you, Sam,” Daniel said with a smile as he hugged his friend goodbye.  “Keep an eye on Jack for me.”  Pulling back, he added, “He's liable to be a bit, uh, grouchy.”

Sam nodded and was about to respond when Jack waltzed in the door.

“It's okay, Sir.  I'm just leaving,” Sam stated.  “Good luck with the dig, Daniel, and,” she chuckled, “try not to get kidnapped by an Unas again.”

“Not funny, Carter,” Jack growled after her disappearing figure.

The colonel locked the door and strode over to his lover, pulling him into a demanding, possessive kiss which Daniel was more than happy to go along with.

“Try not to worry, Jack.”

~Try not to worry?  He's nuts.  He knows me better than that, but I'll try, for him because I'd do anything for him.~  With his most serious stare, he warned, “You behave, Danny.  If you see an Unas, run the other way, and if any princesses walk by, ignore them.”

Daniel rolled his eyes, silencing what was starting to be a long lecture of 'Do's and Don'ts' with a long kiss.

“Jack, remember, I love you.”

“You're my heart and soul, Angel.  Love you so much.”

“If you start to go too crazy, just look here because it's where I'll be,” Daniel said, his hand over Jack's heart.

“Forever and Always, Danny.”

====

As SG-11 stood in the gate room along with General Hammond and Jack, Teal'c walked up to Colonel Danton and stated strongly, “You will take care of DanielJackson.”

It was not a question, but Teal'c stood, waiting for an answer.

“I've already had this lecture from O'Neill,” Danton grumbled.  When Teal'c didn't move and his stare became even more intense, the officer snapped, “Of course, I will!”

Just then, Daniel walked in, instantly seeing his lover's 'You're Late' look and quickly responding with his own 'Well, if you hadn't been molesting me in my office for thirty minutes, I wouldn't have been' look.

Then, Daniel acknowledged his teammates.  Looking for the colonel who was leading SG-11, Daniel spotted Danton standing as far away from SG-1 as possible.  In fact, he almost looked like he was hiding behind the general.

Turning his gaze on Jack, Daniel queried, **Jack, have you been frightening personnel again?**
 
**No.  I just thought Danton might appreciate being reminded about some of your ... ah ...**

**Yes, Jack?**

**Aw, come on, Danny.  You know you need to be nagged to eat and sleep.**

**Love you, Jack.**

**Love you, too, Angel,** Jack replied, seeing his lover beginning his walk up the ramp to the open wormhole.  He knew he needed to say something aloud, so called out, “Daniel.”

The archaeologist stopped and turned around, looking expectantly at the older man.

“Don't do anything I wouldn't do,” Jack advised.

“I'll ... try not to,” Daniel replied with an amused expression.  Taking one last look at his soulmate, he turned back towards the Stargate and followed SG-11 through the event horizon.  ~I miss him already.~

====

“We're right on schedule.  Doctor Jackson says ...”

“And where *is* Doctor Jackson?” Jack barked through the microphone.

It was a scheduled check-in for SG-11, six days after they'd departed on their mission.  Jack had been looking forward to catching a glimpse of his lover, but was highly frustrated to be staring at Colonel Danton instead.  He was disappointed, to say the least.  As it happened, the colonel had a meeting with the brass this morning, so he was attired in his dress blues, something that would make his lover absolutely crazy.  Though Daniel couldn't see him through the MALP one-way camera, Jack would find a way to work it into the conversation.

 ~I want Daniel, you moron!~

“He's working, Colonel,” Danton answered.

“Excuse me?” Jack questioned brusquely.  ~Crap, shouldn't have reacted like that, *but why in Netu isn't Danny at the check-in*?~

“Colonel, Doctor Jackson wanted to come for the check-in, but I assured him it wasn't necessary.  Now, may I continue with my ...” Danton looked away from the camera, apparently reacting to a noise.  He was heard cursing slightly with a muffled, “I thought I told you to stay at the site?”

“General Hammond?” the out-of-breath voice called out.

Jack smiled as Daniel came in to view.  He had obviously been working hard, pearls of perspiration visible on his brow, and his bandana showing the signs of sweat stains.  He hadn't shaved in a few days, his face sporting a growing beard.  He wore his sleeveless black tee for the check-in, not because it was hot, but because he wanted to work his lover up into an internal sweat.  He was succeeding.

~Now that's more like it!  Geez, he's sexy!  Look at that body: those muscles!.~

Jack got lost in his thoughts of what he'd like to be doing with his lover, but when Daniel again asked for the general, he was drawn back to the moment.

“General Hammond is in a briefing, Daniel.  I'll be joining that meeting shortly.  You know, one of those brass things.  *Full* uniform.  I even have the cap on,” Jack boasted.

Sergeant Davis looked up at the colonel and wondered why he had such a smug look on his face, especially since the colonel normally whined about having to attend meetings such as this one that required the more formal garb.

“Full?” Daniel responded, his voice cracking as he spoke.

~Woo hoo -- got him!~  Jack saw his archaeologist struggling to maintain control, just imagining Jack in his uniform.  ~I wonder if this will work through the Stargate.  Let's find out,~ he decided about their non-verbal communication.  **The jacket's closed; think about all those buttons you could be ripping off.**

**I'm going to kill you.**

**Before or after you ravish me?**

**Gawd, after.  I'm not stupid!** Daniel exclaimed.  Suddenly, he blinked.  **Jack, this works through the Stargate!**

**Yeah, I noticed,** Jack responded.  “I thought you couldn't get away for the check-in?” he verbalized, seeing looks from others about the lull in conversation.

Giving the colonel on the planet an evil look, Daniel replied, “Uh, no, that was Colonel Danton's, uh, misconception.  Actually, we needed more supplies, and I'm afraid I forgot to give the list to the colonel before he came to report in.”

~That's my Danny,~ Jack praised silently.  “What's on the list?”

After reading the last thing on his contrived list, Daniel added, **And I really need to have hot, sweaty sex with the man of my dreams.  I want to rip that uniform off of you, one button at a time.  I want to slide my hands ...**

Jack dropped his pen, causing Sergeant Davis to look over at him.  Seeing the stare, the colonel shrugged, loosening his collar slightly.

“Hot.  It's ... hot in here,” Jack spoke quietly, though he saw the skeptical Davis turn his head to face the Stargate again.

“What was that, Jack?” Daniel called out.  **Did I mention that then I'd take your ...**

“*Daniel,” Jack shouted, again causing him to get a lot of stares in his direction.

“Yes, Jack?” Daniel asked innocently, a sweet smile on his face.

**I'm going to wear this uniform to bed tonight, and then I'm going to ...**  As the archaeologist turned bright red, Jack asked nonchalantly, “Doctor Jackson, are you all right?”

“Huh?  Wha...what?  Oh, yes, fine.  Bye, Jack.”

Jack smiled as he expressed tenderly, **Love you, Angel.**

**Love you, too.**

The communication was disconnected.  Looking delightfully smug, Jack exited the control room to head for the briefing, leaving behind a bewildered and curious sergeant.

====

Five long days later, Jack barked, “Carter, what the devil is taking so long?”

Sam sighed, mumbling under her breath, “Two more weeks; just two more weeks.”  She sighed, ~You'd think Daniel had been gone a year.~

“What was that, Major?” the colonel asked with a death glare.

Sam gulped and stated evasively, “I said that the generator is done now, Sir.  Anytime you're ready.”

“It's about time.  We've got more important things to do than sit around here, watching you tinker with your toys.”

“Sorry, Sir,” the blonde apologized.  ~Shrug it off, Sam.  He's just ... lonesome.~

“Is he always like this, Major Carter?” Jonas Quinn asked.

The Kelownan was once again working at the SGC on an exchange program, something he'd done a couple of times in the last few months since his planet and the Tau'ri had established a peaceful relationship.  Worse for Jack, General Hammond had insisted Jonas accompany SG-1 while Daniel was on the dig.  The colonel had been expecting someone like the late Robert Rothman to sub for his archaeologist.

As annoying as Rothman had sometimes been, Jack much preferred geeks like him over the overly congenial Jonas Quinn.  He simply didn't want anything to do with the constantly grinning man.  In fact, he did his best not to even look at him unless it was absolutely unavoidable.

“Um, he is when ... well, Daniel is ... we're a team and ...” Sam sighed. “Sometimes.”

“I don't think he likes me very much.”

~Gee, what gave you a clue?~ Sam asked mentally, having witnessed the conflict on more than one occasion.  “I'm sure it's unintentional.  We'd better get moving or the colonel will ...”

“*Carter, get your butt in gear*!” Jack shouted.  “*Quinn, if you want to be in this outfit, you'd better shape up*.”

~Two more weeks, Samantha.  Just two more very long and agonizing weeks,~ the blonde bemoaned.

====

Things didn't improve much for the personnel Jack came in contact with the next day, either, nor was it any better the day after that.  It wasn't even noon, and the colonel's grousing was heard in the hallways of the SGC.

“There should have been a memo on this,” Jack whined in command tone.  “I want to know why I didn't get one?”

“But you did, Sir.  I ...”

“If I had gotten the memo, Airman, I would have ...”  Jack's bellowing at the female airman was cut off by the unexpected sounding of the klaxons blaring.  ~No one's due back.~

Jack ran to the control room.  Until his lover was home, he couldn't relax.  Relaxation was an impossibility anytime he and Daniel were separated.

“Incoming wormhole,” Sergeant Davis announced.

“Who is it?” Jack asked anxiously.

Davis waited for the IDC code to come through and then announced, “It's SG-2, Sir.”

Hammond explained, “SG-2 was checking on the progress of SG-11.  They weren't due to check in for another thirty-six hours.”

~I'll kill Danton.  I'll kill him.  I'll tear every limb from his body.~

“Open the iris,” the general ordered.

As the Stargate engaged, members of SG-2 fell through the water-like event horizon.

“CLOSE THE IRIS,” one of them yelled, his voice anxious and strained with panic.

Hammond nodded to Davis and then immediately headed for the gate room.  Jack followed, his heart in his throat.  He was afraid to speak.

“What happened?” Hammond asked the leader of SG-2 as soon as he reached the foot of the ramp.

“We were attacked,” the man gasped as a nurse attended to an arm wound.  “They came out of nowhere.  Jaffa.  We had no warning, no indication.  They were just ... there.”

“SG-11?” Jack asked, his voice masking his internal anxiety.

The Marine closed his eyes for a moment.  “There were explosions all over the place.  They had tremendous firepower.  SG-11 never had a chance.  They were working, and then the Jaffa attacked.  They barely got out of those ... holes.  They're dead, Sir.”

“Daniel?” Jack inquired in a voice that was barely audible.

“I saw him.  It was like a grenade.  He was running.  The explosion hit, and he ... he was gone, Jack.  I'm sorry.”

~No!  I don't believe it!  I *won't* believe it!~ Jack shouted inwardly, though his facial expression remained unchanged, courtesy of years worth of training.  Calmly but urgently, he turned to Hammond and spoke, “Sir, request permission to take SG-1 along with units SG-3, 7, and 13 back to the planet.”

Hammond looked at the Marine and questioned, “What was the status when you left?”

“Jaffa everywhere.  It would be suicide to go back.”

“We have to go back, Sir,” Jack insisted, his heart pounding within him.

Hammond hated to deny the request.  He cared about Daniel, but he couldn't jeopardize four teams.  In fact, he couldn't risk even one man, no matter who that man was.

“Jack, we'll wait and send the MALP through later,” the major general responded as compassionately as he could under the circumstances.

“But, Sir ...”

“I'm sorry, Colonel.  Those are my orders.”

Jack turned and hurried out of the gate room.  He found himself running down the hallway, trying to escape the grim reality he had just been told.

~I won't believe it.  You're not dead.  *You're not dead*!~ the colonel shouted.

“Colonel O'Neill, I was wondering if ...”

Jack took one look at Jonas Quinn, smiling like he didn't have a care in the world, and he couldn't help himself.  If Daniel was dead, it wouldn't matter.

“Get out of my way,” Jack ordered, giving the kid a reprieve he wasn't aware he was getting.

“But, Colonel, I was wondering if I could use some of Doctor Jackson's stuff in his office since he's not using it right now?”

~Idiot!~  Jack knocked the Kelownan out with a one punch.  He straddled the body, grabbing Quinn's collar.  Shaking the man back and forth to rouse him, the veins in his neck bulged as he spat, “It's *not* your stuff and never will be.  Not in our dreams and not in reality, either.”  He violently released his hold on Kelownan's clothing and stood up.  He stared down at the young man and repeated, “It's *not* your stuff.  Stay away from Daniel's office, from his fish, and from anything to do with him, or you'll regret the day you ever walked through that Stargate.”

====

Daniel looked around in confusion.  One minute he'd been running from a dozen Jaffa, and then he'd felt the grenade, or whatever it was, explode around him.  He'd felt the heat.  He was sure he'd been killed; yet, he wasn't hurt.

~This doesn't make sense.  I'm still here, on the planet, but ... where are the SG teams?  And ... the Jaffa, not that I really want to see them, but where are they now?~  The archaeologist looked around and realized that the most disturbing thing was that the Stargate didn't seem to be where it should be.  ~Maybe I'm not on the planet.  What is going on?  I don't like this.~

“Do not be alarmed, Daniel.”

Daniel looked up to see Oma DeSala standing in front of him.  She was in human form, smiling, but something about her was disturbing, something Daniel couldn't put his finger on.

“Oma?”

“I knew you could never forget me, Daniel.”

“Um, where are we?”

“We are here,” Oma answered.

“That's helpful,” Daniel responded sarcastically.  “The explosion.  Did I ... die?”

“No, you are alive, Daniel.  You must choose, and then nature will be in harmony.”

“Nature?  Okay.  Oma, you saved my life, but I'm not ascended, right?  I mean, you can't do that.  I'd have to want it, wouldn't I?”

Daniel was slightly panicked.  He was reasonably sure that a person had to want to ascend, something he most definitely did not want, but still, he felt a strange knot in the pit of his stomach about this meeting.

“You are not yet in harmony.  We are in that moment when the ice becomes water, fire becomes heat, vapor ...”

“I get it.”  Daniel thought for a moment.  “So ... why am I ... here?”  Daniel raised his eyebrows slightly.  He still didn't know where “here” was.

“You must choose, Daniel.  Harmony must be restored.  The fire and rain, the snow and sun, the ...”

~What's going on?~  Daniel had to admit feeling a bit like Jack.  He wasn't in the mood for puzzles and riddles.  “Oma, what is it you want?” he asked pointedly.

“For you to choose, so destiny will be fulfilled, and nature will be in harmony.”

“I'm not dead?”

“No, you are not,” Oma responded.

“Okay, well, then ... put me back where I was.”

“I cannot.  I did not slow time.  It was not necessary.  You need only to choose.”

~I really don't want to deal with this right now.~  Again, Daniel felt like his lover and was running very short on patience.  He wanted answers, not games.  “Okay, so time has moved on.  Just ... put me back, and I'll go home.”

“You must choose.”

“*Choose what*?” Daniel shouted in annoyance, having lost his patience.

“To ascend.”

“Oma, I don't mean to sound ungrateful, because I am ... I mean I, uh, I'm glad you saved my life, but I don't want to ascend.”

“Of course, you do,” Oma insisted.  “You are like the bud that wants to blossom and spread its joy.  It is deep within you, the desire to make change, to help others, to find a way to make a joyful noise unto the universe.  Think of all the good that you can do, Daniel, of all the wonders we could achieve together.”

Daniel was a little taken back at Oma's certainty that she knew how he felt, prompting him to wonder, ~Is this really the same being I saw at Kheb?  She's a bit more talkative and less parabolic.~  Verbally, he intoned, “I can do good as a human, and Jack is human.  I want to live out my life with him.”  He wasn't sure he should talk about his relationship, but something told him Oma already knew. ~Something isn't right here.~

Not accepting his words, Oma stated, “Daniel, you and I are soulmates.  It is our destiny to spend eternity together.  You are my chosen one.  We will be in harmony.”

“Chosen one?  I don't think so,” Daniel denied as he stared at Oma in disbelief.

“Come, you must release your burdens, and then you will join me and The Others.”

“No, I am not going to ascend.  I'm sorry, Oma, but there is just no freakin' way I am leaving Jack.  *He* is my soulmate, the one I plan on spending eternity with, so you may as well just send me back right now.”

“Why are you refusing this, Daniel?  I know in your heart you wish it.”

“If you could see in my heart, you'd know the truth.”

“Truth can be changed.  Truth is sometimes hidden.”

“I don't know what you think you know, but trust me, I love Jack.”

“He is not worthy.  He goes against nature.  You, Daniel, are like the warmth of the sun.  You will come forth and radiate your joy.”

Daniel hoped he was having a nightmare.  He crossed his arms tightly across his chest, desperation beginning to flood through him.

“Look, I love Jack with all my heart, with every fiber of my being.  He's in my soul.”

“No, Daniel.  The Fates have told me.  You are my chosen one.  I found you.  I have made my desires known, and the Fates have agreed.  We will be in harmony together as our destinies are fulfilled.”

“No, you're wrong.  Jack is part of me, and I'm part of him, and there's no way anyone could interfere with that.  I refuse to ascend.  Send me home, Oma.”

Daniel was angry now.  Oma just wasn't listening, and he couldn't understand why, but regardless, he wanted to go home.

“Daniel, why are your fighting our cherished union?  I am offering you a precious gift.”

“Don't you get it?  I love Jack!  I can't survive without him!” Daniel shouted, totally frustrated by the ascended being in front of him.  ~Oh, oh.~  Daniel saw Oma's face grow cold and hard.  ~Odd look for an ascended being.~

“Of course, you can.  I will show you.  You will return to mortality, since you wish for it now, but you will soon learn that you need me and want me, as I desire you.  We are destined.  You will choose to join me.”

“I don't think so.  I want Jack.”

“No, you will want me.  I will teach you.  You will be renewed, and then you will choose me,” Oma insisted.

~Something's wrong,~ a confused Daniel thought.  ~This isn't the Oma I remember from Kheb. ~  Within seconds, he was consumed by a moment of pure agony.  It felt like he was being ripped in two.  Half of him seemed to fly one way, the other half went in the opposite direction.  The pain was unlike anything he'd ever felt, and the feeling of being split into halves was like having his skin peeled off.  ~Jack.  I won't forget Jack.  I don't know what she's doing.  Jack!  My Jack.  Jaaaack!  I love Jack.  Jack is everything.  Jack.  Jaaaaaack~

Daniel's world went dark.

====

Jack was pacing in his office.  He really wanted to leave the SGC, but couldn't.  He had to be here when Hammond finally agreed to send a probe through.  It had been six all-too-long hours of “No, Jack” responses to the colonel's requests to lead a rescue mission.

~I knew I shouldn't have let you go off-world without me, Danny.  We might still have died, but at least we'd have died together.~
 
Consumed with fear, anger, and grief, Jack swept all the papers and the computer off his desk.  He didn't even register the crash of the monitor as it smashed on the floor.  He almost pulled the phone out next, but stopped himself, only because he needed to be able to find out when Hammond was going to open the Gate.  He kept pacing, but couldn't vent his feelings sufficiently.  Flinging open the door, he rushed to the gym, ignoring the worried and surprised glances he received.  He didn't care.  Without Daniel, nothing mattered anymore.

Jack didn't even bother to change or grab a pair of boxing gloves, just went to the punching bag and started hitting it.  He ignored everything and everyone, and when his knuckles began to bleed, he welcomed the pain.  The physical pain was easier to deal with than the pain in his soul.

“Sir!” Sam called out as she entered the recreational area, closely followed by Teal'c.

Jack ignored them both and continued pounding the punching bag, his focus on his target so complete that he didn't even notice Teal'c move in behind him until he found his arms held immobile.

“Let me go!” Jack ordered, struggling with all of his might against his alien friend.

“I cannot, O'Neill.”

“Teal'c, I'm warning you!” Jack shouted in anger.

Giving the few remaining personnel in the gym a signal to leave, Sam walked over so that she was standing in front on her CO and stated sternly, “Colonel.”  She saw his glare, but knew he was listening now.  “We don't know anything yet, and this is not helping.  How can you help Daniel if you put yourself in the infirmary?”

Both she and Teal'c saw the leader's shoulders slump in acknowledgement, and Teal'c finally released his teammate's arms.

“Colonel, about Jonas?”  Sam hadn't been able to believe Jack had actually hit someone who was effectively a civilian.  In fact, she hadn't believed it until she had seen the footage for herself.  ~He's not a bad person.~

“He wanted to use Daniel's office -- his things.” Jack explained quietly.  “Over my dead body will he go anywhere near anything that belongs to Daniel.  The sooner he's out of the SGC, the better.”

Sam winced while thinking, ~Poor Jonas.  Your timing couldn't have been worse.~  She made a mental note to try and explain what had happened to the visitor, and hoped he wouldn't want to press charges.  Hearing from her CO what had happened, she realized Jonas was lucky to be alive.  It would have been so easy for Jack to lose control even more than he had.  “Teal'c, can you take the colonel to the infirmary?”

“No,” Jack answered for the Jaffa.

“Sir ... Jack, you need to get those abrasions looked at.  You really don't want them getting infected.”

Sam was relieved when her commanding officer simply nodded and allowed the Jaffa to lead him away.  She headed purposefully for the general's office, praying she could use the soft spot he had for SG-1, and particularly for Daniel, to get him to overlook the incident with Jonas.
 
~Actually it might be a good idea to see Jonas first,~ the major thought as she changed course and headed for Jonas' quarters.

====

“He really doesn't like me, Sam.  This isn't the first time we've worked together.  He just doesn't want me around.”

“Jonas, it's not you,” Sam stated, her hands in her pockets as she crossed the room and sat down next to him on the bed.  “It's what you represent.  No one can take Daniel's place, not at the SGC, and not,” she paused, her heart ripping from the potential reality of Daniel's loss, “in our personal lives.  The colonel and Daniel are very close, best friends.”

“I'm only trying to prove myself while I'm here, before I return to Kelowna again.  The other team leaders don't seem to mind; they've been very helpful, but the colonel has never given me a chance, and I don't understand that.  Do you remember when SG-1 first came to Kelowna?”

Sam sighed.  She remembered it well.  Jack had never fully explained to her why he had grabbed Daniel and practically ran back to the SGC.  Just minutes later, the lovers had taken off on vacation, telling Hammond they'd be gone for a few days, only then Jack had decided to keep his lover safe by taking him out of the country for a solid week.

Sam also remembered how frustrated and utterly confused the general had been by Jack's actions.  To put it lightly, he was not a happy camper.

Upon the couple's return, Daniel had said that the reaction to Jonas and the Kelownans was connected to a strange dream he and Jack had shared, but he hadn't elaborated much more than that, so it was still pretty much a mystery to the woman.

“Yes, I remember, Jonas, and I wish I could explain it to you, but I can't.  They are my friends, though, and they're good people, and Colonel O'Neill is,” Sam tightened her lips as she crooked her head to an angle for a moment, “very overprotective of Daniel.  Can you understand any of this?”

Jonas smiled, but then he always smiled, so Sam had no clue if she was making any progress or not.

“I understand that it's important to you, Sam.  Would you like me to ask General Hammond not to make an issue of what happened?”

Sam nodded in affirmation and then said, “Thank you.  Uh, Jonas, you might steer clear of the colonel for a while, too.  He's going through a horrible time right now.”

“Best friends.”

“Yes,” Sam acknowledged.  “He's worried.”

“Okay,” Jonas agreed, standing up and heading for the door.

“Oh, and I wouldn't go near Daniel's office, either,” the major suggested with a bit of a nervous smile.

The young man said nothing, but sighed as he set out for General Hammond's office.  He regretted that he was such a bone of contention for the highly rated military officer.  He liked Jack, and the more he heard about him, the more he wanted to be on his team.  Somehow, though, whenever Jonas had been assigned to SG-1, there was always friction.

~I didn't mean any harm, Colonel.  I wish you liked me.~

====

“Colonel, what were you thinking?  Or were you thinking at all?” Hammond asked angrily.

The general continued his dressing down of his 2IC, who was sitting passively in a chair.  Jack was sitting up straight, his arms in front of him, his hands held tightly together.  He looked straight ahead, remaining silent and still as Hammond continued.

“You hit a civilian, Colonel, and not just a regular civilian, but a guest to our planet.  We don't go around assaulting representatives from other cultures.”

~We do if it's that smiley-faced Daniel-wannabee.~  Jack heard the pause.  He knew he was expected to respond.  Stoically, he answered, “No, Sir.”

With a sigh, the general spoke, “Jack, I know you're anxious to go back to the planet, to try and find Doctor Jackson, but you have an important role on this base, and you have to utilize better judgment and self-control.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Hammond leaned back into his chair, taking a deep breath.  He studied Jack carefully.

~This is getting us nowhere.  He won't be himself until he gets Doctor Jackson back here.  He's dead, Jack.  You need to focus.  I'm sorry.  I wish it was a lie, but SG-2's reports were definite.~

Hammond moved on, saying, “Jonas Quinn doesn't want to press charges, and, based on his wishes, I am dropping the matter, but I expect better diplomacy from you in the future, Colonel.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”  ~Don't worry, George.  My future is quite limited.~

“It had better be because ...”  The general's phone rang, interrupting his comment.  He listened for a moment to the voice on the other end and then hung up.  “We're sending the MALP through now.”

Jack didn't wait to be dismissed.  He jumped up from his seat and hurried down the stairs to the control room.

--

“MALP should emerge on the other side in three seconds, Sir.  Two.  One.  Receiving transmission, General,” Sergeant Davis stated.

“It looks clear, Sir.  Request permission ...” Jack began anxiously.

“Jack, it's been five seconds.  Let's look around a minute,” the general suggested strongly.

Jack folded his arms across his chest, deciding quietly, ~I'm going through, General, with or without your permission.~  He heard footsteps and looked behind him to see Sam and Teal'c had entered, both taking in the current situation and status.  ~SG-1 is a team, right?~

As the MALP turned to its left, five Jaffa were seen in the distance.

“Colonel, I'm sorry.  It's still too risky.”  Hammond turned to Davis and ordered, “Shut it down, Sergeant.”

~I'm going through.  I can't wait any longer,~ Jack thought and then looked over at his two teammates.

Teal'c caught the intense stare and raised his head high.

Sam locked onto her CO's eyes.  She took a breath, gave a tiny bob of her head, and then shifted to stand a little straighter next to Teal'c.

Jack closed his eyes in gratitude and looked back at the Stargate while thinking, ~We're going through.  I have to see for myself.  I have to find Daniel's body.  I have to.  I ... have to.~

====

While he waited for the general to return to his office, Jack went to the locker room and began gearing up.  This was one of those times when he was glad he was 2IC of the SGC.  Davis would obey an order from him to open the Stargate.  He looked up as Sam and Teal'c entered.

“You're going through the Stargate,” Sam said as she began changing, not taking the time to wait for the room to be clear of males.

There was no way the major was going to let her CO look for Daniel alone.  It seemed Teal'c had the same idea as he, too, was changing his clothes.

Jack looked over at his teammates, saying, “You do know that I'm going against Hammond's orders here.”

“We do, O'Neill.”

“Sir, we are not letting you look for Daniel alone.”

Jack knew he should refuse their help, Sam's anyway.  As an Air Force officer, she could be court-martialed, but nothing was more important than finding Daniel, and Jack knew he had a much better chance of doing that with his teammates at his side.

====

“I thought the general said that it was too dangerous to allow a team through?” Sergeant Davis looked at the three members of SG-1 in confusion.  This really didn't seem right.  The general was always here to see SG teams off, especially SG-1, and most certainly on a rescue mission like this.

“Sergeant,” Jack emphasized the lower rank, “are you questioning an order from a superior officer?”

It wasn't the words Jack had spoken that sent a chill down Davis's spine, it was the tone he used and the look in his eyes.  Looking behind the stone-faced Colonel, Davis saw the equally determined faces of Major Carter and Teal'c.  Without further hesitation, he began dialing the coordinates for the besieged planet.

“Sergeant Davis!” General Hammond exclaimed a minute later as he came storming into the control room.  “What's going on?  Who ordered the gate opened?”

Davis nodded towards the gate room, and Hammond looked down just in time to see the three remaining members of SG-1 step through the event horizon.

“Shut it down, Sergeant.”

====

Jack, Sam, and Teal'c arrived on the other side of the Gate, their weapons at the ready.  It was fairly evident, though, that the Jaffa the MALP had spotted earlier were no longer in the vicinity.

**Danny?  Do you hear me?  Danny, I'm here!** Jack communicated, sighing at the lack of response.  “Teal'c, take point.  SG-11 was working at the temple ruins.  We'll head there first.”  As they headed out, he felt uneasy, not for fear of attack, but at the possibility of finding proof that his lover was dead.  **Danny, please be alive, please.  You can't leave me.  I can't live without you.  Gawd, I need you, Angel.  I need to see you.**

Jack was functioning on automatic pilot, his colonel persona was all that was allowing him to maintain any semblance of sanity.

Silently, the three continued toward their destination.

====

It didn't take SG-1 long to reach the ruins.  There were still no signs of any Jaffa, alive anyway.  With any luck, they had left the planet.

“O'Neill.”  Teal'c stood in a partially excavated tomb, looking down at the body of Colonel Danton.  “He is dead.”

**Danny?  Answer me, dang it!**  Jack's heart was bleeding as he took in a panoramic view of the area.  ~Where are you, Danny?~  His soul cried out mournfully.  “DANIEL? ... DANIEL!”

Jack saw the looks Sam and Teal'c gave him, but he didn't care.  It wasn't his style to call out like that, but he didn't feel like he had a choice.

“Sir,” Sam called out as she stood a short distance from the temple.  She'd found the other three members of SG-11 -- all dead.  ~This isn't looking good.~

“All right, spread out, and search the area.  We're not leaving without Daniel.”

====

Four hours later, they had searched the area three times and found no trace of Daniel.  They had, however, come across a blackened hole in the ground.  Jack stood before it for several minutes.  Finally, he knelt down, the palm of his hand moving over a part of the area.

**You didn't die here, Danny.  You couldn't have.  I don't care what SG-2 saw.  You can't be dead because ... because ... Danny, where are you?**

Sam and Teal'c came to stand beside him, the major suggesting, “We should go, Sir.”
 
“MajorCarter is correct, O'Neill.  As much as it grieves me to acknowledge it, SG-2's report does seem to have been accurate.  DanielJackson is not here.”

Jack stared at the ground.  He didn't want to leave this place.  It had a connection to Daniel, and he couldn't bear to break that connection.

~No, this can't be real,~ Jack thought.  He saw a beam of sunlight reflect off something metallic.  With a sinking heart, he bent down and extracted a small piece of charred metal.  He closed his eyes and tried to fight the despair welling up inside him.  It was a small piece of the frame of Daniel's glasses.  ~No, I won't believe it.~

Sam and Teal'c looked at the tiny relic, believing it was all that remained of their friend.

“Come, O'Neill.”

As his mind shut down, Jack allowed his teammates to lead him to the Stargate.

====

“Colonel, I'd like ...” Hammond began, watching in amazement as Jack walked down the ramp and, without even pausing to acknowledge him, exited the gate room.  “Major?”

“General, we searched the entire area where SG-11 had been working.  We found the bodies of Colonel Danton and his team; several Jaffa bodies as well.”

“And Doctor Jackson?”

“He was not there, GeneralHammond.”

“Not there?”

“There was a, uh, charred area, like from a grenade, Sir.  We found a piece of Daniel's glasses, but ...” Sam struggled to keep herself together.  She loved Daniel, too.  “No body, Sir,” she finally managed to say.

“Dismissed,” the general said softly.  It had been a very long day.  ~And one I'd rather not have experienced.~

====

Sam and Teal'c expected to find Jack in the locker room.  He had only had a two minute lead on them, but when they got there, he was gone.  His P-90 sat on the bench in front of his locker.

Sam found the nearest phone and called the main gate, asking, “This is Major Carter.  Has Colonel O'Neill left yet? ... Thank you.”  She turned to the Jaffa, who had followed her, and reported, “He's gone.”

“Do you think we should ...?”

“Oh, yeah, and fast,” Sam answered, her mind silently returning to a near tragedy just months earlier, only that time, it was Jack who had been assumed dead.  Daniel had taken it hard, and, though she hadn't ever wanted to actually admit the thought, she knew her fellow scientist had been on the verge of killing himself.  Something inside the Air Force major told her Jack might have similar thoughts. ~We need to find him.~

====

“He is not here, MajorCarter,” Teal'c announced after he had climbed down the ladder that led to the roof deck.

“I didn't think he would be, since his truck isn't here, either, but we had to be sure, Teal'c,” Sam stated.

“Perhaps he went fishing.  It is O'Neill's answer to almost everything.”

~Almost,~ Sam thought, knowing that Daniel was the real answer to all of her commanding officer's questions.  “Well, I guess we'll just have to hope he's okay.”  The two walked to Sam's car, the major deep in thought.  ~You could be at Daniel's apartment.  You want privacy, and if you knew we'd follow you here, you know we'd go there, too.  You're banking on me letting this go, aren't you?  Okay.  I'll respect that, for now.  Hide at Daniel's.  Grieve.  Just as long as you're still out there, Colonel.~

====

It was just after midnight, below freezing temperatures, the winds blowing slightly, but Jack didn't care.  He was already numb, so as he sat on the cold cement of Daniel's balcony, his back to the patio door, his knees partially drawn up, the chilling weather never even phasing him.  Tears were flooding his eyes and streaming down his face.  He kept seeing images of Charlie's bloodied body, then images that Nem had put into his mind of Daniel burning to a crisp on Oannes, and now Daniel, exploding into a million pieces, the only thing left of his lover being the tiny frame Jack held his hands.

Jack lowered his head to the glasses, his tears watering the frames, falling through the spaces where lenses once were, and cried, “Danny.  It hurts.  Gawd, it hurts.  I love you.”

The grief-stricken man had gone to the apartment, wanting to be alone, and he knew he could be here.  It was too early for Hammond to order the obligatory military cleaning, not that there was anything left.  The things in the apartment were mostly for show.  There was little remaining that Daniel truly loved except for the piano and a few larger artifacts and relics from his lifetime of work as an archaeologist and anthropologist.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack cried, wishing the winds would blow him into non-existence.

====

Hours later, with the stars still in the sky, Jack finally moved from his spot on the balcony.  He grabbed a box from the storage room and took the handful of things that he thought Daniel might still have an affection for, as well as his own things.  He pulled out the drawer of the chest, full of boxers and white T-shirts.

~Do you remember, Danny, when you gave me this space?  I do.  I remember the day you took that big leap of faith and decided to let me in.  You placed your trust in me, in the things I put here, to never leave,~ Jack pondered as he tossed his clothes into the box.

After making sure there was no sign of himself in the apartment, and doing a final run through to ensure he hadn't left anything of Daniel's behind that was of real importance, Jack took a final look at the loft.  Then he walked down the hallway, making his way to the darkness of the outside world, where he spent the remainder of the day in solitude at the home he and his Danny had shared.

====

The next day, a memorial was held at the Mountain for Jack's deceased soulmate.  This time, though, he hadn't been able to say much, except for one line -- “Daniel Jackson was the heart and soul of the SGC ... and ... and of the universe.”

The colonel did not attend the wake, which was at Sam's house since Jack simply couldn't bring himself to host another one.  Instead, he went to the Colorado cabin that he and his lover often visited.  There, he tried to cope with his loss, but it was too torturous for him.  Losing Daniel was far worse than anything he'd ever experienced in his life, except, perhaps, his son's death.  He couldn't figure out how to separate the two events, and so he stopped trying.

For Jack O'Neill, there were no more sunrises and sunsets.  There was only emptiness.

====
 
On the fourth evening, post-Daniel, post-life, post-anything, Jack sat on the roof deck of his, their, house and looked up at the twinkling stars.  It would be his last opportunity to enjoy the brightness that filled the sky.  Hours passed as the evening morphed into the dead of night and then to the twinkling of a not-yet-dawning new day.  He'd recalled every wonderful moment spent on the Earth -- his childhood, his marriage to Sara, his son, and his most true and pure love, his Daniel.

All of a sudden, Jack remembered a poem by W.H. Auden.  It felt so appropriate to think of it on this day.  He had first come across it not long after Charlie had died.  It had suited his mood then; it suited his mood even more now.
 
~Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.~

“I won't be one of them, though,” Jack whispered as he gazed at the black handgun resting in his hands.

~Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.~

“Geez, Danny, it hurts so much.  I don't know how you had the strength to put all our things in order.  I'm glad you did, though, because I couldn't.”

Jack had pulled out the paperwork Daniel had collected when Jack had been missing, presumed dead in Iraq.  It was sitting in his study on his desk.  He'd written five brief letters of his own and added them to the pile.  He'd decided that the general, Teal'c, Janet, and Cassandra all deserved to know why he was doing this.  Sam would already know, so to her, he'd just said goodbye.  He also decided to write a note to Lou Ferretti and Mrs. Valissi as well.

~He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.~

“I don't like that last line, Danny.  Our love will last forever.  We just won't have as long here as we thought.  We'll just be living our forever somewhere else.  I don't know where, but I do know we'll be together. For all eternity.”

~The stars are not wanted now; put out every one:
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods:
For nothing now can ever come to any good.~

“I love you, Danny, my Angel.  La Mio Bello Stella Cadante, my Space Monkey, Plant Boy, my Energizer Bunny, my ... my Everything.”  Jack checked once more that the gun was loaded and ready.  He smiled.  “I'll be with you in a minute, Danny.”

Jack raised the gun to his head when he was hit with the memory of Daniel's death on Nem's planet.  He frowned.  They'd been so sure that Daniel was dead then, but he hadn't been.  He remembered the events that had led to their pact having been made, after they'd been held hostage by Hathor, and how Daniel had only waited to end his life until he was sure that Jack was really dead.  More recently, he remembered the close shave they'd had when Jack had been held in Iraq.
 
“Danny?”

For a second, it felt as if Daniel had called to him, stopping him from taking this action at this moment in time.  Jack looked up at the sparkling sky.  Searching his soul, he realized that there was still a grain of doubt.  He needed more proof that his lover was truly dead before he followed through on their pact.  After all, his Heart had bounced back from death so many times.  Was it really that unreasonable to think maybe he could have cheated death once more?

“We have to go back to the planet, Danny.  There must be more tests or something we can do.  None of what we found makes sense.  I've seen the results of explosions.  There's always something left, something more than just a tiny fragment of glasses.”

Jack looked once more at the gun in his hand and thought, ~Not yet.  I have to be sure.  For Danny.  If he came back and I ... no, I have to be certain, just as he did for me.~

His decision made, Jack climbed off his roof deck and headed back to the SGC, just as the stars began to fade and the sun strove to take over the new day.

====

“Jack, I can't allow it,” Hammond said.  He'd been besieged upon by his second-his-command from the moment he'd arrived on Level 26.  ~I doubt you even slept last night.~

“Why not, General?  The Jaffa are gone.”

“Jack ...”

“I'm asking, Sir, as a personal favor.  I need this.  We have to be sure,” Jack pleaded.

The general's look was intense.  Jack had been pleading with him for twenty minutes.  Hammond was still concerned the Jaffa were present.  SG-11 had been attacked, having no clue the Jaffa warriors were even on the planet.  Perhaps they hadn't left, but only gone back to wherever their camp was.  If the UAV had missed the signs of their presence the first time, it might again.

The major general was also worried about Jack.  He had spoken with Janet and Doctor MacKenzie, and MacKenzie had expressed concern about Jack's inability to move on.  Of course, it had only been a few days.

Seeing Hammond hadn't made up his mind, Jack continued.  “Sir, I'll ... I'll beg if I have to.  You know Daniel, General.  He has nine lives.  All we found were glasses.  Even in combat, there would be something left. Doctor Fraiser can settle this, one way or the other.”

“All right, Colonel.  I'll approve one mission.  SG-1 and Doctor Fraiser.  One mission, Jack.  SG-3 will accompany you to guard the Stargate.”  The general leaned forward and added, “Jack, at the first sign of hostilities, I expect you to protect your team and get them out of there.  Is that clear?”

“Crystal.”

“Then you have a go in one hour.  Dismissed.”

Jack hurried down the corridors.  He had already stopped to locate Colonel Reynolds, currently commanding the SG-3 team, and fill him in on their deployment.  Now, he was searching for his team.

“Carter ...”

“Sir?” Sam responded as she stood behind her lab table, both surprised and happy to see her CO.

“Gear up.  We move out in one hour.  Hammond's orders.”  Before the blonde could even acknowledge him, Jack had exited, heading for Teal'c's quarters.  When that was concluded, he went to the infirmary and found Janet.  “You have to check everything, Doc.  I have to know, no doubts.”

“Colonel, you're right.  There will be residue, if nothing else.  I'll need some help with my equipment,” Janet stated.

“Teal'c can help.  What about technicians?” Jack asked.

“Sam can help with the testing and analysis.”

“If there's anything you need before we go, call,” the colonel stated.

Janet watched her friend walk out and opined, ~You're hoping for a miracle, my friend.  I hope we find one.  I can't believe how much I miss him.  Daniel ... well, just like you said, he's the heart and soul of this place.~

The petite physician sighed and then set about to gather her equipment.

====

Jack stood silently a few yards north of the charred hole.  Teal'c was watching the perimeter, while Sam helped Janet with her testing.  They had brought several pieces of medical machinery with them.  Janet planned on taking vials full of samples back to the SGC for detailed analysis, but she also brought some portable devices for a quicker study, knowing Jack would demand it.

~Stay calm, O'Neill.  He's not there.  You know he's not.  He can't be.  Come on, Doc.  Tell me what I want, no need, to hear.  Give me something to fight for.~

After two hours, Jack was at the edge of his patience.  He thought he might just explode from the lack of information.  Uncharacteristically, he hadn't said a word as Janet and Sam had worked, which made the two women more nervous than if he had been bellowing at them.  Now, however, he'd used up his supply of patience.  He could feel his blood pressure rising up, demanding an outlet.

“Doc?” Jack asked as calmly as he could.  He saw Janet and Sam exchange a look as they reviewed the latest sample results.  ~Come on.  It can't be bad news.~

“Colonel, what I'm doing here is a preliminary analysis.  To be certain, absolutely one hundred percent sure, I have to run all of these through the equipment at the SGC.”

“Janet.”

Jack's voice was strained.  His chest was visibly rising in and out from his hardened breathing.  His eyes were dark black in an unusual mixture of emptiness and rage.  He had to know, and he had to know now.

Amazed, Janet answered, “Jack, it's dirt and gunpowder, weeds.  I haven't found any indication of body fluids or skin tissue.  There's no remnant of clothing.  There's nothing but the ground of this planet.”

“He's alive.”

“Sir,” Sam said as she walked quickly towards him.  “We don't know that.  SG-2 saw him in the middle of the explosion.  It's possible the equipment Janet has here just isn't picking it up.”

“Right.”  Jack turned around and walked several feet and then kneeled back on his haunches.  He closed his eyes.  **Be alive, Danny.  Please be alive.**

====

~Hours.  Come on, Doc.~  Jack was impatiently waiting for news that Janet had concluded her testing.  They'd been back on Earth for several hours.  In fact, their duty shifts had ended a while ago, but he knew both his team and Janet were still on the job.  No one would be punching the time clock on this day.  ~You're alive, Danny.  I know it.~

Meanwhile, Janet was working diligently on her report.  She was leaving no stone unturned with her testing.  In addition, this report would be more detailed as she was speaking again with the survivors of the attack.

“Look, Doctor Fraiser, all I can tell you is that I saw Doctor Jackson running.  An explosion went off, and he was gone.  Poof.  That's what I saw, and that's all I know.”

“Thank you,” Janet said to the Marine as she exited the recreation area where she had tracked him down.  ~Okay, that pretty well firms it up,~ she thought.  Now it was time make her findings known to the general, and she knew Jack O'Neill would be anxiously waiting to hear what she had to say.  ~I don't believe it.~

====

Thirty minutes later, the doctor entered the briefing room where General Hammond and SG-1 were assembled.  Sitting down, she opened the thick file she had brought with her.  Copies of the report were being xeroxed for the general, and unofficially for Jack.  She could feel their eyes on her.

~You could cut the tension in this room with a knife,~ Janet thought as she prepared in her mind what she was going to say.

“Doctor?” the general queried.

“After a detailed analysis of every inch of the charred hole and random testing of an area extending up to twenty yards away from the hole in all directions,” Janet paused to look at Jack, “there's no indication that Daniel was there.  Everything we found was natural to the planet, or matched up to the deceased members of SG-11.”

~He's alive.~

There was silence as those present took in Janet's words.

“So,” Sam asked, “if Daniel wasn't killed, where is he?”

“That's what we're going to find out, Major,” Jack spoke.  “Right, General?” he challenged Hammond.

“Jack, you know how I feel about Doctor Jackson and his place at the SGC, but we aren't going on a wild goose chase here.”

“We need to search every inch of that planet, General, and we need to talk to SG-2 again.  There must be something about the Jaffa that they missed.  Maybe they've gotten something that can, I don't know, kidnap a person.”

Sam added, “Sir, we should review their mission reports and those of the teams that have gone back to the planet.  Maybe we've missed something.”

Hammond nodded, ordering, “Major Carter, do the reviews.  Colonel ...”

“We need to go back there, in force ...” Jack began.

With a sigh, Hammond sat back and answered, “I'll consider it, Jack, but I'm not ready to approve it.  I want a proposal on my desk within twelve hours from you and Major Carter.  Teal'c, do you think there is anything to be learned from the Jaffa prisoner?”

“PRISONER?  WHAT PRISONER?” Jack yelled as he stood up.

“Colonel O'Neill!” General Hammond barked at his 2IC, relieved to see the Special Ops colonel work visibly on restraining his anger.

“What prisoner ...”  Jack saw the intense displeasure of his commanding officer, and after a moment, added, “... Sir?”

Hammond winced.  The tone Jack was using now was deathly serious and contained all the pent up rage that the colonel was working so hard to repress.  It was a tone that reminded everyone in the room of just how dangerous Jack could be.  All things considered, maybe he should have just let Jack yell.

“When SG-1 went through the Stargate *against my orders*,” Hammond gave the team a glare and was miffed to see that Sam was the only one of the three to even look remotely embarrassed and sorry, “SG-3 went through to try and bring you back.  You'd already left the vicinity of the Stargate, but they did see a lone Jaffa running towards the forest.  They hit him with a zat blast and brought him back for questioning.”

~Why didn't they tell me?~  Jack was tempted to berate Hammond for not telling him about all of this earlier, but decided it was more important that he be allowed to interview the Jaffa.  Curbing his anger and sarcasm, he politely asked, “May I please interview the prisoner, General?”

Chills ran up Sam's back as she inwardly sighed, ~That was a little too polite, Colonel.~

Hammond hesitated.  Part of him thought the best idea was to keep Jack as far away from the Jaffa as possible.  On the other hand, he suspected if the SGC wanted to keep Jack O'Neill in any kind of functioning order, they had to give him some closure on the death of his teammate.

“Very well, Colonel, but I want Teal'c to accompany you.”

Jack was out the door and on his way down to cells before Hammond finished speaking.

Hammond stated, “Teal'c, I'm relying on you to keep the colonel from doing something foolish.”

A quirked eyebrow, followed by a slight nod, and then the Jaffa was gone.

====

“Tell me what happened on that friggin' planet!”

Teal'c could hear Jack yelling from the other end of the corridor.  He raised an eyebrow in disapproval, knowing that the warrior would not respond to threats of that nature.  He entered the room.

“O'Neill.”

Teal'c exchanged a look with his friend, silently asking permission to take over the interrogation.

“Shol'va!”  The Jaffa spat.  Teal'c simply nodded, then responded, “As are you.”

“What?” the prisoner asked, having not expected that remark.

“You were on your own.  You may have willingly accompanied the Tau'ri through the Chappa'ai.”

Jack looked at Teal'c with respect as the prisoner spewed out a bevy of Goa'uld words, words Jack assumed were curses.  The contempt that the Jaffa had been displaying up until now seemed to have been consumed by anger and, Jack was pleased to note, a touch of fear.

The two men continued to converse in Goa'uld for five minutes.  With each new tick of the clock, the warrior seemed to sweat a little more.  He was clearly becoming agitated.  Teal'c's interrogation was going well in Jack's opinion, the warrior appearing more tense and unnerved than when Jack had first approached him.

Suddenly, Jack realized that Teal'c was staring at the prisoner in disbelief.

“Teal'c?”

Teal'c ordered, “Repeat what you said, in Tau'ri.”

The Jaffa prisoner looked furiously at Teal'c as he responded, “The one you speak of vanished in a glow of white light.”

~Which means?~  Jack stared at the Jaffa, then at Teal'c.  “What does that mean?  The Asgard?  Thor has Daniel?”

Tealc asked the prisoner, “Can you describe this white light?”

“It was a shimmer of white.  It glowed, became wavy as it moved.  I saw it dance across the sky.”

“Not the Asgard then,” Jack said dejectedly.  “Hey.  What about that guy Carter dated?  Teal'c, you know that ... glowy thingy ... The Others.  He can't think that ...”

“They are the Ascended, O'Neill, and I do believe that is what he means, that DanielJackson has joined the Ascended.”
 
Jack shook his head, saying, “No, I don't believe that.  Daniel would not ascend.  He has no reason to.  *Never*!”  He turned and left the room, heading straight for his office where he closed the door and locked it.  He leaned back and slid down to the floor, cradling his head in his hands.  “You promised me, Danny.  You promised me you'd never ascend.  He has to be lying.  Stinkin' Jaffa always lie.”  ~Except Teal'c.~

Mournfully, Jack asked, **Where are you, Danny?  I need you.  Please come home to me.**

====

“Teal'c, do you believe the Jaffa to be telling the truth?” General Hammond asked a while later after getting the latest report on the prisoner's status.

“I do,” Teal'c answered.

“I told you,” Jack began with an eerie calm.  “Daniel would never ascend.”

Sam looked at Jack, her heart breaking for him, and spoke, “Sir, you can't know that.  If it was a choice between ascension or death, he might choose ascension, even if it meant leaving the SGC behind.”

“He wouldn't do it.”  Jack's certainty never wavered.  ~He promised me.  Daniel doesn't break his promises.~

General Hammond looked at his 2IC in despair.  Even faced with all the evidence, Jack would not allow himself to move on.

“Permission to return to Kheb, Sir?” Jack requested.

General Hammond hadn't expected that request and asked curiously, “For what purpose, Colonel?”

~For the purposes of finding the man I love, for saving my life and his, for restoring my sanity, for keeping SG-1 intact -- that's why.~  Jack answered, “I want to talk to the Others.  I want to see Daniel, hear from him that he's okay, that he really did want to ascend.”  ~I want to bring him home.~

The general looked at the stubborn set face staring at him, the pleading face of Major Carter, and Teal'c, whose normally impassive features were taut with concern.

“Do you have any reason to believe The Others are still on Kheb?  I thought after the child was born, that woman ...”

“Oma, Sir.  Oma DeSala,” Sam clarified.

“I thought she left Kheb.”

Jack answered, “She did, General, but at the time, she was protecting the boy, the harcesis child.  It's been a few years since that went down.  She may have returned there.”

~It can't hurt.  Maybe if Jack hears that this is what Doctor Jackson wanted, he'll be able to move on, say goodbye.  It's one of those times I'd like to go through the gate myself.~

Hammond made his decision, stating, “Very well.  You have a go for 0600 tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” the colonel responded, his voice raised.  “Sir ...”

“Jack, your team is tired.  It's late.  Rest up, and you can go through in the morning,” Hammond replied as he turned and began to head for his office.  “Oh, Colonel, do *not* make any unauthorized trips.  That goes for all of you.”

The message was clear.  It wasn't that Hammond didn't trust Jack, but he knew him.  An extra security detail would be on duty during the night.  SG-1 had no choice but to comply.

“Goodnight, Sir,” Sam said gently, lending her CO a supportive smile as she and Teal'c left the briefing room.

~Nothing good at about it.  Nothing good about anything without Danny,~ Jack bemoaned as he headed for a VIP room to sleep, if he could, which he doubted.

====

“Sir,” Sam asked as they walked down the corridor towards the gate room early the next morning.  “Oma DeSala did leave Kheb, and there wasn't anyone else around except for that monk, and he's dead.  Do you really expect to find anything there?”

“Carter, where else do you suggest we look?” Jack snapped.

“Yes, Sir.”

There was no place else, at least, no place they were aware of.  Sam had her doubts, but Jack was right.  They had to start somewhere.

====

“The temple should be just up ahead, Colonel.”

Jack only nodded.  He really had no clue what he was going to do.  This was like looking for a needle in a haystack, only Daniel was the needle and the entire universe was the haystack.  He was deep into his thoughts about the man he loved.  Life had changed when he met Daniel.  Jack had gone from caring about nothing to feeling alive once again.  Without his lover, there was nothing left for Jack.

~I have to find him.~  Jack stopped as they entered the courtyard of the temple.  He looked around for a moment, searching for signs of a presence, praying for the miracle that would bring his soulmate back to him.  **Danny?**  He waited with baited breath, hoping and praying for a reply.  **Danny, talk to me.**

“Sir?”

“Wait here.”

Jack approached the temple entrance, and but stopped short of walking through the door.  He remembered when they were here before and how respectful Daniel was of the place.  He had to honor that same feeling now.  Slowly, he disconnected his P-90 and put it down, next to his boots that he had also taken off.  Taking a deep breath, he entered the temple.

The colonel walked around the interior of the room in a circle, studying the walls and looking for signs, any signs, but there was nothing there.  It looked empty.

**Danny?**

--

Daniel was floating.  He felt like he had been asleep for a long time.  He was tired, and soon he realized that he was ... nothing.

 ~Where's my body?~

Nothing made sense.  He felt something tugging at him.  He wasn't sure what, but guessed it might be his human body.

~What's going on?  I was ... I was talking to Oma.  Pain.  It hurt.  Jack?  Where's Jack?~

Daniel became aware that in this current form he had no control over his movement.

~Am I ... energy?~

The archaeologist decided to just go with the flow of things until he could figure it out. He also thought about his lover and their unique bond.  Somehow, that seemed very important.

**Love you, Jack.  Please find me.  I'm so lost.**

Daniel knew Jack was his only hope, though he wasn't sure why he knew that, either.  Then he heard it.  It was very faint, but he was sure he'd heard it.
 
**Danny?**

--

**Jack?**

Daniel tried several times to get a response from his lover.  He wondered just how much distance they were trying to communicate over.  Jack felt far away, but at last, Daniel seemed to make it through.

**Jack?**

**Daniel?  Where are you?**

**I ... Jack, I love you.  Help me, Jack.**

Daniel felt an instant exhaustion, as if those few words had consumed all of him.  The communication had lessened his energy dramatically, and while he could still hear his lover, he didn't have the strength to send out a response powerful enough for Jack to hear.

--

**Danny?**

Jack's heart was pounding, his pulse accelerating rapidly.  As he paced the interior of the temple, he tried for several minutes to get another response from his soulmate, but there was none.  Over and over, he called out, both in his mind and vocally, but the one brief sentence was all Jack had heard.  He was at his wits end.  He needed something he could see, something tangible.  He ran his right hand through his hair as he thought, his breathing still labored from the anxiety within him.

~I have to do something, but what?  The Others.  If Daniel could hear me, they must be able to also.~  Jack turned, circling the room quickly.  Then he spoke, using his command tone, forceful and threatening, “Okay, I've had it.  Come on you ... glowy thing ... show yourself!  Have some guts.  You've got Daniel, and I want him back.”

Jack waited, his patience limited, and then called out angrily, “No guts?  Who do you think you are, kidnapping people?  You don't have a right to do that.  Give him back -- NOW!”

Determined to get a response of some kind, Jack continued his lecture.  He didn't know for sure if anyone was listening, but it was all he knew to do.  He even did what he often did in a crisis -- he turned to his lover.

“Daniel, help me out here.  I need your help, too,” Jack requested.  **Danny, I love you.  Help me to help you.**

~I wish I could.  I'm so tired.~  **Where are you, Jack?  You feel so distant.**  Daniel's response wasn't strong enough for Jack to hear.

Jack sighed at the lack of response.  He had been in the temple for an hour when Sam and Teal'c entered.  As soon as Jack saw them, he reacted.

“Stay out.”

“O'Neill ...”

“Teal'c, Carter, stay outside.  I need to be here.  Daniel's here.”  When the two exchanged a look, Jack grew more upset and shouted, “Get out.  That's an order.”

“Sir, I think maybe ...”

Jack didn't want the distraction of his teammates at the moment.  He was able to calm himself, to not lash out at them further, but even though his next words were spoken more evenly, they were still strained.

“Carter, please.  Leave me alone.  The answer is here.”

Reluctantly, Sam and Teal'c exited.

Jack paced the room some more and then he sat down Indian-style right in the center of the temple, a new determination filling his soul.  He'd sit there until he died if he had to.

“I can be as stubborn as you are.  I'm not leaving.”

====

Sam looked nervously at Teal'c as they stood outside the sacred building.

“Do you think we should report back to General Hammond?”

“What would you like to tell him?”

Sam smiled and shook her head in admiration, wondering, ~How can he always be so calm about these things?  Teal'c makes everything seem so simple sometimes.~  “Good point.  Forget it, we'll just wait here.”

“Indeed.”

~Oh, Daniel, please be here,~ the blonde begged silently.  ~At least come say goodbye to the colonel.  He needs to know that you're okay before he can move on.~

====

“Thought you guys were supposed to have high morals.  Well, I haven't seen any yet.  Now give Daniel back,” Jack said as he continued to sit and talk to the empty room.  “You're just like all the other so-called advanced races.  Seems to me that you've lost all your compassion in your quest for advancement.”

“Colonel O'Neill.”

Jack stood quickly and swung around to see Oma standing behind him.

“Where is Daniel?” Jack questioned, his voice in a controlled threat.

“He has chosen to ascend.”

Shaking his head, Jack argued, “I don't believe you.”

“It is true,” Oma maintained, appearing in near-human form.

“I want to hear it from Daniel himself.”

“He is too inexperienced in his new form to become corporeal.”

“He doesn't need to be.  Just let him come here, and he'll find a way to reach me,” Jack stated confidently.

Oma looked annoyed, her facial features tight.  She was frowning and appeared to be anything but the serene creature that she seemed to be during their first encounter with her on Kheb.

~Funny look for someone who glows; thought you weren't supposed to get angry.  Aren't you 'one with the universe' and all that garbage?~  Jack shook his head to try and clear his negative thoughts.  He might not like Oma, but he did know how powerful she was.  He couldn't afford to annoy her.  “So?” he prodded.

“It is not possible.  Leave here,” Oma snapped and disappeared.

Jack frowned as he considered the short discussion.

~That was interesting.  I wonder if those glowy people can hear people calling for them.  Why not?  Can't hurt!~  Clearing his throat, Jack then looked upward and called out, “Shifu!  Orlin!  Come on, guys, I just need to ask you a few questions.  Not hunting for power here, just some friggin' answers.”

“You are Colonel Jack O'Neill.”

Jack blinked and thought, ~Well, whatcha know.  It actually worked.~

“I am Orlin.”

Before Jack could respond, a small boy appeared next to Orlin.

“Shifu,” Jack stated, having recognized the boy from his visit to the SGC a couple of years ago.

Orlin asked, “Why have you called us, Colonel?  It's not customary for us to talk with humans.  As Sam may have told you, there are risks.”

“It may not be your custom, but you've both done it before, and I need some information.”

“What is it you seek?” Shifu asked.

Jack answered, “I need to know if Daniel is with you guys, you know, ascended.”

Shifu looked confused and began to speak, “To be of ...”

“Whoa.  Listen, Shifu,” Jack said as he approached the two ascended beings slowly.  “I'm not Daniel.  I don't understand that mumbo jumbo.  I'm not trying to be rude, but I don't get it.  I need you to *please* talk simple English, like Orlin here.  It's Daniel's life I'm talking about.”

Shifu studied the silver-gray haired man and then answered simply, “I do not believe he is one of us.  If he were ascended, I believe I would feel it.”

“Who told you he had ascended?” Orlin asked.

“A piece of work, calls herself Oma DeSala,” Jack answered, adding, “And a Jaffa saw him turn into a glowy thing.”

Shifu began to look a little worried, which in turn was making Jack very worried.

“Shifu?  What is it?” the colonel questioned.

“I must talk with Oma.”

The boy disappeared, leaving Jack totally unsure about what had just transpired. He looked at Orlin who shook his head apologetically.

“I am afraid I cannot help you, O'Neill.  I do not know this Oma, though I remember Sam talking about her.  Is Sam here?”

“Outside.”

“I wish you well, Colonel O'Neill,” Orlin said before he vanished.

Jack resumed his cross legged position in the center of the room and yelled, “I am *not* leaving here until I have Daniel,” at the temple walls.

====

Jack had stopped checking his watch.  It didn't matter how long it took, he was not leaving without Daniel.  His internal musings were interrupted by the reappearance of Shifu, suddenly sitting in front of him.  His heart sank as he saw the grave look on the boy's face.

~You know, it's strange, but you look like Danny.  I always thought that, how you look like him and not the snake.~

Shifu spoke, “I am sorry.  I have spoken with Oma.  Daniel is not ascended.”

The wave of relief Jack felt at hearing this was tempered by his worry over where Daniel actually was.

“I believe Oma sees Daniel as her soulmate,” the boy said, looking uncomfortable and uncertain.

Jack was looking and feeling murderous as he responded, “Daniel is my soulmate, Shifu.  Mine.”

Shifu smiled, responding, “Yes.  This I saw when I came to your world in search of knowledge about my mother.  He could not keep something so true about himself hidden from me.  He loves you very much.”

Jack couldn't help but smile at that.  Then panic overtook him once again.

“Where is he, Shifu?”

“I do not know.  Oma is not well.  She does not believe she has done anything wrong.”

“Well, she has, and I'm not leaving here without him,” Jack hissed.

“Yes, I understand.”

Shifu looked at Jack who tried to calm himself down.  After all, Shifu was trying to help him.

“But she did save him. As the explosion on the planet occurred, she brought him to another plane of existence, one that is on the surface of all that we are.  He refused to stay and wanted to return to you.”

**Danny, I love you.**  Jack closed his eyes, then looked at Shifu once more.  “What did she do to him?”

“I believe she sent him to live out the remainder of his human existence, or ... I am not sure.  She believes that when he is older, he will choose to ascend and join her.  Or that his essence will tire of his current state and call out to her.  She is ... not well.”

“Current state?  Essence?  What do you mean?  Where is he, Shifu?”

Shifu looked at him sadly and answered, “He is ... separate.  It is unwise to be separate.  I do not understand why Oma has done as she did, nor do I know more.  I am sorry.  I do not have the power to find out that which she will not share.”

Jack watched in disbelief as Shifu stood up.

“You can't leave him out there all alone!  Tell me where to find him,” the colonel demanded.
 
“I cannot tell what I do not know,” Shifu repeated.

“Shifu.  You're my only hope.  Give me something.  It's a big universe out there.”

Shifu looked deep in thought, and then spoke softly, “I shall return.”

Jack sighed, ~Please, help me find him.~  He reflected back on his conversation with Shifu, wanting to make sure he hadn't missed anything.  ~Current state?~  “What does that mean?”  He stood and began to pace, feeling even more anxious.  As his rage built, he shouted at the walls, “What have you done to Daniel?” In despair, he sighed, **Danny, where are you?  Was that you I heard earlier?  Danny?**

====

Outside, Sam and Teal'c waited, quietly at first, neither one speaking a word.  They looked at each other a bit nervously a few times, but, for the most part, the two either paced or sat in front of the temple.

~This isn't right,~ Sam thought suddenly, collapsing down onto her haunches and burying her face in the palms of her hands.

“MajorCarter, are you ill?” Teal'c asked, approaching his teammate with great concern.

“Teal'c, what if the colonel is wrong?  What if Daniel is ...”

“DanielJackson will be missed.”

“I don't want to lose him, Teal'c.  I'm a scientist.  I'm trained to think logically and to follow rules and procedures that are laid out in books, but ... with Daniel, I never had to be ... military.  I'd try, but he always saw through it.  I miss him, Teal'c,” Sam sniffled and then looked away and snorted in an attempt to stop the tears that were beginning to fall.

“Samantha,” Teal'c began, kneeling down on one knee and speaking softly.  “I, too, miss DanielJackson.  I, too, want O'Neill to be successful.  DanielJackson is a man of heart; he cares deeply for that which he believes in; and he would not ever give up on something he felt within his soul.  O'Neill will not give up.”

Sam smiled at her friend and replied, “And neither should we.”

Teal'c simply nodded as he stood back up and walked a few steps away, doing what came naturally to him -- surveying the area for intrusion.

“Daniel ... is alive, and we will find him,” Sam whispered.  ~I hope Teal'c is right. Come on, Daniel, live!  Please.  The colonel ... I need you.~

====

More time passed until, finally, the boy appeared again.

“Shifu?” Jack asked eagerly.  ~You've been gone for hours; you must know something now.~

“She is ... most protective.  She ... desires him,” the boy stated.

“She can't have him.”  Jack insisted as he paced.  “Where is he?”

“He is separate, but he that is Daniel, I believe he is here,” Shifu said, having walked to Jack and then placed the palm of his hand over the man's heart.

“Yes, he's my heart, but where is he ... I mean ... Shifu, give me a break.”

“You must go where your heart leads you.  He will ... call out to you.  Be one ...”

“Shifu,” Jack warned.

The boy smiled and advised, “Be one with he who is your heart, and you will find him.”

~Okay.~  Jack paused.  He decided to move on for a moment, saying, “You said he was in a ... different state, or something.”

“Oma was displeased.  He ... spurned her, but she believes he will change his mind.”

“He won't do that,” Jack argued.

“No, not the Daniel you know.”

“Shifu,” Jack said in exasperation.  “I need help.”

“You know all that I know.  Daniel is ... separate.  He is here, and he is not.  You must expand your mind, as he has done.”

“Has done?  But you said he hasn't ascended?”

“He has not, but I believe his soul has ... transcended the corporeal.  It is his essence.  We cannot escape our true selves, regardless of the state of our physical bodies.”

“What did she do to him?  If she hurt him ...”

“I do not believe she would hurt Daniel in that way.  She wanted him to choose her, but he would not, not as he was.”

“You see, that's what I don't understand.  As he was?  That implies he's different.”

“His essence is in the universe.  It is possible for her to alter the corporeal, but not the essence.  He *is* here.  You must search for him ... here,” Shifu said as he again touched Jack's heart.

“How?  How am I supposed to find him?”

“You already have.  You must ...” the boy hesitated, remembering back to words Daniel once spoke, “You must be the musician.”

“Excuse me?”

“The music does not play the musician.”

“That's Daniel's domain,” Jack said softly.

“The body does not control the mind.  It is the musician that rules,” Shifu elaborated.

“The soul?” Jack asked.

Shifu smiled in acknowledgement of Jack's understanding and repeated, “He is here.  I must go now.”

“Shifu, I still don't know how I'm supposed to find him.”

“You must listen, and be your own instrument.”

“Follow my own drummer?” Jack asked.

Another smile emerged on the boy's face, and then he said, “Follow your heart, no matter what.”

The boy nodded and then disappeared.

Jack took a deep breath.

“Danny?”  ~No, wait.  He's in my heart, so ... he hears me now.~  **Danny?  I won't let you go.  Do you hear me?  I will *not* let you go.**  Jack pondered what to do, and, suddenly, he knew the answer wasn't on Kheb.  Exiting the temple, he ordered, “Carter, Teal'c, let's go.”

“Sir?”

“He's out there, and we're going to find him,” Jack answered, putting on his boots and reattaching his weapon to his vest.

It didn't even register to Jack that they'd spent almost twelve hours on Kheb, the sky now dark as they traveled to the Stargate.

====

At the DHD, Sam began to dial the coordinates for Earth.

As he waited, the words, “Listen to your heart,” echoed within Jack.  **Danny.  Tell me.**

Daniel focused all his energy on the force that seemed to be tugging at him.  It was odd.  All he could get from his body was love.

~Love and beginnings?~

**Love.  The origin of love.**

Jack's eyes opened quickly as he called out, **Danny?** but there wasn't a response.  ~Okay, the origin of love, but that was where, on a Goa'uld spaceship?  He wouldn't be there.  It's not even in existence anymore.  The origin.  We fell in love on ... no, be honest, O'Neill ... I am, and the truth is ... I'm not sure anymore.  I've always ...~  With a new awareness, he called out, “Carter, stop!”

“Sir?” Sam asked, removing her hand from the dialing device.

“Do you know the coordinates to Abydos?”

“Abydos?” Sam asked, her crystal blue eyes showing her surprise at the question.  “Uh, not off hand, Sir.”

~Crap!~  Jack sighed.  How would he convince Hammond to let him go to Abydos?  He had barely convinced the general to let him come to Kheb.  “Listen to your heart,” echoed within him.  “Move, Carter.”

Stunned, Sam moved out of the way.

Jack closed his eyes and communicated, **Danny, I need a whole lot of help here.  Bring me to you.  Come on, Love.  You can do it.  Help me bring you home.  The origin of our love.  Help me, Angel.**
 
Daniel heard Jack's plea.  He didn't understand why Jack was asking, but the plea was so heartfelt, that he knew he couldn't ignore it.

~Origin of love is here.  Origin of love.~

Summoning strength he didn't know he had, the 'separated' man reached out and touched what he knew to be Jack's soul.  How he knew it, he couldn't say.  It was just something he knew.

**Dial, My Love.**

Jack reached out and began to place his hand on the glyphs while his teammates exchanged a questioning look.  The Air Force colonel wasn't even looking at the symbols he was touching.  His eyes were closed the entire time.

When the Stargate engaged, the colonel looked at his teammates, his expression as grave and serious as they had ever seen it, and informed, “Look, you don't have to come, but I'm going.”

Not waiting for a response, Jack walked through the event horizon.

Sam and Teal'c exchanged another glance, and then Sam shrugged.

“We are a team, MajorCarter,” Teal'c said calmly just before he followed Jack through the event horizon.
 
“We are so going to get court-martialed for this,” Sam muttered as she, too, stepped through the Stargate.

====

Jack stood in the pyramid on Abydos.  The Abydonians knew him by sight now, and he assumed that one of them had gone to get Skaara as soon as he had come through.  It was midday of their long thirty-six hour day, so the people were up and active.

**Danny?**

**I love you, Jack.  Don't forget that.**  Daniel could feel himself getting closer to both Jack and his body.  ~He's closer now.  Strange how it is that I know that. Why?  How?~

“O'Neill!”

Skaara entered the pyramid, a large grin on his face and his voice full of enthusiasm as he greeted the Air Force colonel, “I knew you would come.  We have been waiting for you.”

Skaara was no longer the young teenager that he was when Jack and Daniel had first met him, but now he was a young man and a leader among his people.  He smiled greetings to Sam and Teal'c.

“Skaara, have you seen Daniel?”  Jack's heart sank at the look of sadness that came over Skaara's face.  “What?”

“He ... he is here.”  The relief on Jack's face must have been evident because Skaara hastened to add, “But he is not himself.”

All Jack's worries came flooding back as he asked, “Not himself?  What do you mean?  Is he or isn't he here?”

With each question, the volume of Jack's voice had raised.

“Sir.”

Sam put a hand on Jack's shoulder and was relieved to see him calm himself down.

“Come.  I will take you to Danyel.”

Skaara led them to a large tent, dodging their way through happy Abydonian children playing what looked like soccer as they walked.

“Daniel?”

Jack's voice broke as emotion ran through him.  Sitting inside the tent was his lover, his Daniel, talking with some of the Abydonians and wearing Abydonian robes.  His  relief at seeing his lover alive and well was so great that he failed to notice the blank look in Daniel's eyes.  Jack's forward momentum halted abruptly as Daniel stood and backed away from him.

~Oh, wow.~  Sam walked up beside her CO, thrilled to see her dear friend.  Enthusiasm evident in her voice, she spoke, “Daniel?  It's me, Sam.”

The blonde reached out her hand to touch his shoulder and was dismayed when he flinched, moving further away.

“Do you not recognize us, DanielJackson?” Teal'c inquired.

Daniel looked at the trio blankly, saying only, “I'm sorry,” before exiting the tent, leaving his teammates completely stunned.

Jack turned to Skaara, full of questions that demanded answers, and asked, “What just happened?  What happened to Daniel?”

Skaara gestured for them to be seated.  Jack hesitated, torn between his need to know what had happened and his desire to chase after his life partner.

“O'Neill.  You must give him some time,” Skaara counseled with a voice that was gentle and sympathetic.

Jack sighed and sat down, repeating his question once again -- “What happened?”

Skaara answered, “We are unsure.  There was a sandstorm, and when it had cleared, we found Danyel lying on the ground.  He was naked, and, though unharmed, he did not recognize us or know who he was.  Of course, we told him his name, but, still, he did not remember.  We thought it best to let him exist as who he now is.”

“Does he remember anything?  Languages, archaeology?” Sam wondered, Daniel's genius being so broad.

Skaara smiled, nodding as he answered, “He remembers languages.  I do not know which ones or how many, but he was able to converse with us in Abydonian, and sometimes he starts to speak in words I do not know.”

“Did you ...” Jack hesitated.  “Does he remember Sha're?”

“Nothing, O'Neill, and we have not told him.”

“Hasn't anything been familiar to him?” Sam questioned.  “I mean, being here where he lived should help him, I would think.”

“I do not understand why Danyel does not remember.  I only know that he does not.  He stays in the same tent he shared with my sister, but he does not seem to have any connection to it.  It is a place to sleep to him now; nothing more.”

“Wait a minute.”  Jack's tone suddenly turned sharp again.  “Why didn't you tell us that Daniel was here?  Kasuf has a GDO.”

“That's right,” Sam said automatically.

“The Stargate would not engage.  We thought it broken until you arrived,” the young Abydonian explained.

“Carter ...”

“Yes, Sir, I'm on it,” Sam said, nodding at Teal'c to assist her.

After his teammates left to examine the Stargate and the DHD, Jack spoke, “Skaara, tell me absolutely everything that happened the day you found Daniel, and every day since then.  Don't leave out anything.”

Jack sat and listened as Skaara filled him in on the last several days, giving as much detail as he knew about Daniel's arrival and time on Abydos.

====

“Sir,” Sam called out later as she and Teal'c entered Skaara's tent.

“What did you find out?” Jack asked.

The major answered, “I had to reset the DHD.  It was like someone had turned it off.”

“Turned it off?  It didn't happen naturally?”

“I don't think so, Sir.  You have to think of it like an electrical panel, and, in this case, someone flipped the switch.”

“But it's fine now?” the leader of SG-1 inquired.

“Yes, Sir.”

Jack nodded as he stood up and stated, “I'm going to talk to Daniel.”

Skaara acknowledged the remark, watching as his friend walked out of the tent.

====

Over in the distance, Jack could see Daniel entering a smaller tent.  Striding over, he followed Daniel inside.

“Please, leave me alone,” Daniel requested as he sat at the end of the cot that served as his bed.  He still had on the royal blue robes he had worn since arriving on Abydos.  He didn't look at Jack as he spoke.  ~I want peace.~
 
**No way, Danny, am I leaving you alone.  I love you, and I'm not going anywhere.**

Daniel's head flew up, and he looked at Jack intently.

**Don't let me go, Jack.  You have to be strong.**  ~I really don't understand this.  He's ... me, but I'm here.~  **I'm scared, Jack.  Jack?  Jack, why can't you hear me?**

The essence of Daniel concentrated, trying hard to focus, but he knew his messages weren't getting through.

**Jack, I think ... I think I am here, and in my body.  It's like I'm in both places, but I don't know yet why sometimes you can hear me and sometimes you can't.  My energy ... it drains.**

Daniel had heard Jack's thought clearly.  He somehow knew that his body and the small part of his soul that still occupied it had heard it, too.

**I love you, too, Jack.**

He tried again, but became frustrated. Daniel really wished he could sigh.  He focused on his body.  Maybe if he learned more about it, it would help his current state ... ~whatever it is.~

“You heard that didn't you, Danny?”

Jack felt hope burgeoning, only to be crushed a moment later when Daniel shook his head and repeated his plea to be left alone.  Jack ignored it and sat down opposite his soulmate.  He decided to play it cool and start with the basics.

“I'm Jack O'Neill, and, barring some freakish similarity, you are Doctor Daniel Jackson.”  **and I love you very much.**
 
Daniel looked sideways at him once more.  “This tent is all I know. These people, they're all I know.  Before I woke up in the desert, I don't remember anything.  I've tried.  I've tried to remember who I was before.  Sometimes I think it's right there, floating in front of me, and all I have to do is reach out and grab it.  I try - and it's gone.”

“You were a member of my team, SG-1.  You're ...” Jack wrestled with the desire to tell Daniel the truth and the fear of scaring him away.  He settled for a partial truth.  “You're a friend of mine.”  ~And so much more.~  “You almost died.  We travel through the Stargate, a big circle, watery thing.  Anyway, we travel to other planets fighting the Goa'uld.”

“The Goa'uld?”

“Yeah.  Bad guys, snakes, well, not really snakes but ... anyway, they take over humans as hosts and ...”  Jack broke off as he realized how bizarre this must all sound to the amnesiac Daniel.  “Actually, I can see how this might sound a bit unusual …”

Daniel nodded, and Jack sighed, fighting the urge to just grab his lover and kiss him senseless.

**Danny?  Please tell me you're here,** Jack begged.  He felt like crying when he received no response.  Suddenly, he had to get away from this stranger who had his lover's body.  He stumbled out of the tent to find Sam and Teal'c waiting for him.  “Carter, you try.”

Sam acknowledged her CO and headed for the tent.

Daniel's essence was in distress.

~Why can't I respond?  Where am I anyway?~  **Jack?  Can you hear me?**  ~Gawd, you can't.  I feel like I'm ... in you, with you ... but I ... I can't see.  It's strange here, wherever here is ... except I know I'm with you.  I'm sorry.  I feel so tired.~

Daniel didn't understand anything that was happening to him, especially the limitations that this new existence imposed on him.

~Okay, focus on my body, but it's gone now.  Where am I?  I don't understand.~  **Jack?  Can you hear me?  I'm trying.  Jack?**

~You can't ... hear ... me.  Rest.  I ... need to rest.~

====

Sam took a deep breath and entered the tent.

Daniel blew out a candle he'd just lit and sighed, ~Leave me alone.~  “What did you say your name was again?”

“Samantha Carter.  You used to call me Sam.”

“Yeah, well, like I already told Jim ...”

Sam winced and corrected, “Uh, Jack.”

“Jack?  Yeah, I told him …”

“I guess what I don't understand is why you aren't dying to know all about who you are.”

“I am, and I'm not.”

“See, it's the not part …”

Daniel questioned, “What if I don't like who I was?  What if I don't want to be that person?  What if I don't have it in me to make up for something I've done wrong?”

~This is definitely Daniel.~  Sam sat back stunned.  This was certainly her beloved friend and colleague.  ~Only you, Daniel, would think like this; think that you might have done something awful, that there might be something you have to atone for.~  She responded, “I have to admit that never occurred to me.  Look, we all thought we'd lost you at one point. It was one of the hardest things I have ever been through.  You were ... you are, brilliant.  One of the most caring, passionate … You're the type of person who would give his own life for someone he doesn't even know.”

“Well, that doesn't sound so bad.”

Sam smiled in response.  Even without his memories, this was definitely Daniel.

“If you had one fault, it was that you wanted to save people so badly, you wanted to help people so much, that it tore you apart when you couldn't make a difference,” Sam spoke as she remembered the Enkaran fiasco, the Eurondans.  ~The list is endless, Daniel.  We need you.~

“That actually sounds kind of hard to live up to,” Daniel replied.

“All I know is that if I were you, I would definitely want to get to know me ... you.  Come back with us.  Let us show you who you are instead of just telling you.”  ~The colonel needs you, Daniel.  Give us a chance here.~

“I'll think about it.”

“Okay.”

Sam knew that if she pushed Daniel any further, she was likely to push him away.  He was still Daniel, after all, which meant he was still one of the most stubborn people she knew.  She stood, stopping just at the tent opening when she heard her name.

“Samantha Carter?” Daniel called out.

The woman cringed as she turned back to face her friend.  That sounded so wrong coming from Daniel.

“Yeah?” Sam asked.

“Was there ever anything between us?”

Sam stared at her friend and really hoped the colonel was standing out of earshot of this conversation.

Nervously, the blonde stammered, “Us?  Uh … No.  No, not in that way.  We ... we were really, really good friends.”

“Okay.”

Daniel gave her a small smile and nodded.  He was confused.  He was feeling oddly drawn to these people, feeling that his heart and soul were tied up with one of them, but if it wasn't Samantha Carter he felt a strange link to, then who was it?.  He shrugged.  Maybe there was someone else, back where they said they came from.

====

Sam joined Jack and Teal'c as they stood outside.  Other Abydonians were milling about, taking care of their daily business.  Jack looked at Sam, and she answered the question in his eyes with a slight shake of her head.

“Carter, Shamda here was just telling me a story about … a dog and some dancing monkeys.”

“The moral of which is 'appearances can be deceptive',” Shamda spoke.

“I got that.  Very good story.  Wonderful!  Full of nuances.  I like that.”

Sam knew her CO was trying desperately to hide behind his mask of sarcasm and humor.  She could only guess at the devastation he must be feeling.

“What of DanielJackson?” Teal'c asked.

“He's going home,” Daniel answered as he walked towards them, nodding as they looked at him.

**Danny?  Are you there?**  Jack sighed.  There was no response, but Daniel was coming home.  They had time now.  ~It's something, anyway.~

~I'm here Jack, I know you can't hear me, but I'm here.~  Daniel still seemed to lack sufficient energy to answer.  ~Feel me, Jack.  Feel me in your heart.~

“Thank you, Skaara, for taking care of Daniel,” Jack spoke sincerely.

“He is my brother, O'Neill.”

Jack smiled, asking, “Hey, where's Kasuf anyway?”

“He is visiting a camp on the other side.  He will be gone for many more days.”

“Tell him hello,” Jack requested.

Jack and Skaara hugged, and then SG-1, whole again, began the walk to the Stargate.  Daniel was a few steps ahead of Jack, walking next to Sam.  Teal'c was in the rear.

**Danny?  Do you hear me?**

Daniel turned around, an odd look on his face as he asked, “Did you say something?”

“Not a thing,” Jack responded, smiling.  ~It's definitely something.~

Daniel wasn't convinced of the answer, but he continued on.

**Jack?  I want to come home.  Help me!  Help me, Jack!**  Daniel wanted to be back in his body, to be held in Jack's arms, to be loved by his soulmate.
 
**Danny, I'm here.  You're here, too.**  Jack looked at the body that was Daniel to see if he was responding, but he was engaged in a conversation with Sam.  ~This is weird.~  **Danny?**

**Jack?  Did you find me?  I love you.  Help me, Jack.**

**Danny, you're right here, Love.  I found you.  Everything's going to be okay.**

Jack was scared stiff, in spite of his reassurances to calm Daniel, or Daniel's whatever.  He was confused.

**Jack?  Take me home.**

**I am, Danny.  I love you.**  There was silence for a long time and then, right at the Stargate, as Sam dialed Earth, Jack tried again.  **Danny, we're going home now.**

Daniel, the body of Daniel, turned and looked at Jack with an odd expression.

Jack paused and again said in his mind, **We're going home now.  Everything will be okay.**

~What's going on?~  The younger man's expression grew confused.  He blinked several times.  ~Your lips didn't move, but I heard that, or I heard ... something.~

**What did you hear?**  Jack's confusion grew now.  That time, there was no reaction.  **You heard something.  I know it, Danny.**

It was as if Daniel's essence was one place and the body another, and they were fighting to merge together.

~That's going to be the key.  What did Shifu say?  You're in my heart.  Somehow, I have to get you back in your body, too.  Geez, this is so out of my league.~

At that moment, the Stargate engaged, and they stepped through.

====

~What's happening?  I feel ... torn.  Something's pulling me.~  It was a strange sensation, but then it quieted.  **Jack?**  ~Home.  We're back on Earth.  You found me.  I mean, part of me.  I mean ... I don't know what I mean.  But I ... we ... are home.~  **Jack, I need to rest.  I'm here, though.  Don't forget, Jack.**

====

General Hammond stood at the bottom of the ramp, happy to see Daniel, and wondered, ~How many lives does that boy have anyway?~

Jack made a grand gesture, a “Look what I found” type of movement with his arms and hands.  Clearly, he was feeling better than the last time the general had seen him.

“Welcome back, Doctor Jackson,” the general greeted.

“Thank you.  Thank you very much,” Daniel responded politely.

Daniel surveyed the gate room as if he had never seen it before, a fact that didn't escape the general.

“You have no memory of who I am?” Hammond queried.

“None whatsoever,” Daniel admitted.

“Neither do I, Sir,” Jack smirked.

~Yes, he's definitely feeling better.~  The general just stared at Jack for a moment, watching as SG-1 headed for the infirmary.  ~That boy is amazing.~

====

Sam and Teal'c had intentionally diverted to the locker room to change before their post-mission exams.  Both knew Jack would want a few minutes with Daniel.

“Cheyenne Mountain.”

It was a quiet remark, one easily missed had Jack not been totally focused on Daniel.

“Yes,” Jack acknowledged.

Daniel looked at him as they walked the corridors and questioned, “I work here?”

“That's right, for several years now.”

“I ... have an office.”

“With lots of toys to play with,” Jack joked jovially.

“Artifacts.”

“Toys.”

“Relics.”

“Trinkets,” the colonel insisted playfully.

Daniel stopped, his breathing a bit faster than before as he questioned, “We ... do that a lot?”

Jack grinned, feeling the happiest he had in weeks, and confirmed, “All the time.  We're the masters of banter.”

“Banter?”

“Well, that's what we call it,” Jack explained.  “Or sometimes bickering, but it's bantering.”

“Oh.”  Daniel nodded, and they walked into the elevator.  As the doors closed, he reiterated, “They're artifacts.”

Jack chuckled.  **Anything you say, Love.**  He sighed, though, when Daniel didn't seem to hear him.  ~That's okay, O'Neill.  This isn't the time or the place.  One thing at a time.~

~Wow!  What caused that?  Something ... drew me in, filled me with ... with strength.  Gawd, I do feel stronger now.  Should I try and talk to Jack?  No, wait.  See if I get more energy, but it's ... I'm definitely stronger now.  I can feel Jack surrounding me.  I am with him.  Love Jack.  Must remember Jack, no matter what.  Strange, but I know I can't lose sight of that for some reason.  I can't get ... distracted.~

====

“Hey, Doc, look who I found!” Jack exclaimed happily.

“Daniel!”

Janet practically threw down the chart she was holding, and the next thing she knew, she was trying to hug the archaeologist.  She was surprised, though, when she felt a coldness from Daniel.  He was tense, so she pulled out of the hug quickly.

“He's a little short on the memory cells.  Just temporary.”

“I'm sorry,” Daniel spoke softly.

“That's okay.  I'm Doctor Janet Fraiser.”  After Daniel nodded, Janet looked at Jack and requested, “Fill me in.”

Jack gave Janet the details, as much as he knew, leaving out certain more intimate details, and concluded, “... and that's about it.”

“Okay.  Daniel, we'll need to do a full examination, do a full blood work, and maybe check your vaccinations.”

“Little Napoleon.”  When Janet looked up, Daniel almost gasped.  “Oh.  I'm sorry, Janet,” he said, blushing furiously.

Janet looked into the young man's eyes and inquired, “You remember me, now?”

“It's coming back ... like ... the dam is opening, one gate at a time,” Daniel answered.

“I'll take good care of him, Colonel.  Casey and Marie can handle the post-mission exams for SG-1.”

Jack nodded and said, “I'll be back, Daniel.”  As the younger man smiled, the colonel asked, “How long, Doc?”

“A few hours.”

“Hours?” Daniel questioned as he looked towards the exit.

“Sorry, Daniel, but we need to cover all the bases with this examination.”

“Great,” the patient spoke dryly.

~It's something.~  Jack chuckled as Daniel looked over at him, the pout look returning.  Daniel was coming back to them.  **I'll never leave you, Danny.**

Jack was hoping for a response, but he didn't get one.  With a mix of emotions, he left the area.

====

The colonel took care of his military obligations and then made a quick trip to the house.

~I can't bring him home, and it's too early for him to go to the apartment.  He needs things that matter.~

With great care, Jack selected several items he felt would be both comforting to his lover and that might also help him to remember, and then he brought those items back with him to the SGC.  He carefully put the things out in the VIP room he had selected for Daniel.  Nervously, he put the picture of Sha're on the nightstand.

~Someone give me strength to endure this.~

Daniel felt Jack's struggle.  Now was the time.  **Jack, listen to your heart.  That is the key.  I am here.  Fight for us, Jack.**

**Danny?**

**Yes.  I'm here, with you, but you have to ...**  Daniel's energy had drained again.  ~Gawd, where'd it go.  It was only a moment.~

**Danny?**  Jack looked all around.  **Okay, Love.  Just ... stay close.**

Jack felt renewed again.  He still didn't know what was going on, or why, but the short contacts with his lover meant that there was still hope.  He would never give up.  Somehow, he would bring Daniel, all of Daniel, home.

====

“Hi, Daniel, Janet,” Sam greeted, a bounce in her step as she entered the infirmary.

“Hi, Sam.”  It was a small smile.  Daniel was tired of all the tests Janet had been doing.  “Janet, are we done yet?”

“No, we have a few more to do yet.”

“Janet, can he take a break?  Maybe Daniel and I can take a little walk, help him get his bearings again.”

“Actually, that's not a bad idea.  I'll check the results of some of the tests we've already done while you're gone.  Ten minutes?”

Daniel smiled as he hopped off the examination table.  He looked like an animal in a zoo that had just been freed from his cage.

“Thanks, Janet.”

“The general wanted to come and talk with you, but he got a phone call from the President,” Sam stated as they began their stroll through the gray hallways.

Daniel chuckled, “Priorities.”

“We're preparing a VIP room for you for as long as you want to stay there.  General Hammond wants you to take as much time as you need to get everything sorted out; you know, about your apartment and stuff.”

“My apartment?  I ... hadn't even thought about it.”

“Do you remember it?” Sam asked.

“Vaguely.  Things are coming back in ... blocks.  It's like a door opens, and certain memories are just there, but the door next to it is still closed, and I have no idea what's behind there.”

“It must be difficult.”

Daniel nodded and then asked, “Where's Jack?”  He silently wondered how he'd ever found his way around this place.  The corridors all looked the same to him, and there were so many.  To top it off, he didn't understand why he seemed to have this constant need to know where Jack was.  ~But ... I do want to know.~

“He went home.  He had some things he needed to do,” Sam answered.

“Oh.”  Daniel didn't know why the idea that Jack had just left the SGC without telling him should hurt, but it did -- a lot.  ~Gawd, why do I care?~

“He's glad you're back, you know.”

“Is he?” the male scientist questioned.

“Very.  Daniel, you have to know that,” Sam stated pointedly.

“He's not here.”

“Daniel, that's not fair ...” Sam was about to launch into an area that she suddenly realized her friend was clueless about.  She saw the blank look on his face.  “Um ... you know how the colonel is, Daniel.  He hides his feelings a lot.”

“Apparently.  We'd better get back.”

Heading back towards the infirmary, Jack suddenly appeared in Sam's and Daniel's path.

“Jack.”  Daniel gave the older man a brilliant smile, feeling ridiculously pleased to see him.  ~I'm so glad he's back.  Gawd, why?~

Jack tried to grin cheerfully back at Daniel, but knew he'd failed when the smile on the younger man's face faded, replaced by a small frown.

“I have to go.  Sir, Daniel.”  Sam made a quick retreat, thinking it would be good for Jack and Daniel to spend a few minutes together.  ~Please remember, Daniel.~

Jack had to look away from his lover.  The urge to take Daniel in his arms was overwhelming.  It was essentially why he hadn't suggested that Daniel come home with him.  He couldn't bear the idea of Daniel sleeping in the spare room.

“Jack?  Are you okay?”

**I love you, Jack.  Don't give up on me.**

Daniel felt Jack's distress.  He hoped that meant he was getting closer to his soulmate, though he wasn't even sure what that meant -- to be closer.  ~Gawd, I wish I understood this.~

Jack stared at Daniel and saw a pair of concerned blue eyes gazing at him.  Within seconds, both the stranger in Daniel's body, and Daniel, had reached out to him.

**Danny, where are you?**

**I'm lost, Jack.  I need you.**

“Jack?”

Jack realized how he must seem to Daniel, this Daniel, and thought, ~I wonder if I'm going insane?~  He sighed, then asked, “Did the Doc give you the all clear?”

“Um, no.  We were just taking a break.  I have to go back for a few more tests.”

“Okay.  I have to go, Danny.  I'll come back down in a bit.”

Before Daniel could respond, Jack had turned and disappeared around the corner.  He sighed and walked into the infirmary so Janet could finish what felt like an assault on his body.

====

Jack took the elevator to Level 2 and then covertly took one of the access shafts topside.  He didn't want to be seen, nor did he want company.  He just wanted to be alone.  He walked through the greenery that lined the hilly landscape until he came to a view of Colorado Springs.

~What am I going to do if he doesn't remember?  I thought I could pretend, be best friends, but when I look at him, I want to hold him, and it friggin' hurts not to.~

Jack was wallowing in his sorrows, and then he remembered back, to a time several years earlier.  Daniel had been sick, but afraid to tell Jack, sure the older man would leave him, just like everyone else had.  Jack had reassured Daniel that he was in the relationship for the long haul, for the good and the bad, no matter what.

As he reflected back on that experience, Jack realized this was one of those bad times.  Daniel was .sick.  Jack would stick by him, being his friend, until he got better, and they could move forward again through their eternity.

~Suck it up, O'Neill.  Daniel needs you.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself.  He's back.  It's only been a few hours.~

====

With a sense of renewal, Jack went to the infirmary where he knew Daniel would be expecting him.  Janet saw Jack enter just as she had finished the exam.  Daniel was seated on the examination table.

“Well, I'm happy to say, Sir, that he's in perfect health, except for one small exception,”  Janet said as she handed Daniel a pair of glasses.

~Glasses?~  Daniel looked at them and put them on.  He looked around for a moment.  “Wow, that's different.”

Jack decided to tease his lover, his friend, whatever Daniel was at the moment, and quizzed, “You recognize me now?”

~Two can play at that game, O'Neill.~  Daniel studied Jack for a moment.  “Has your hair always been that way?”

“What way?”  **Can't get the best of me, Dannyboy.**

“Never mind.”  ~I still think I'm losing my mind,~ Daniel thought as he looked away from Jack.

**Maybe I'm going out of my mind,** Jack communicated.  For a moment, he wondered if this was all some crazy fantasy, and maybe he was really in one of MacKenzie's padded cells.  ~Yep, that's what's happening.~

**No, you're not,** the essence reached out to the physical.

Daniel was not going to let Jack venture down that path.  He knew his body was hearing Jack's silent communications, or at least sensing them.

~I wonder why you can't hear me?  Why can't I help you ... I mean, me?~

Daniel looked at Jack, certain he was going crazy.  He kept hearing Jack talking when his lips weren't moving.

“Doc?”

“He's all yours, Colonel.”

~You'd better believe it.  He just needs time, and that's one thing we have a lot of.~  “Daniel ...”  Jack called out as he motioned with his head for the young man to follow.

“Where are we going?”

“Your ... home away from home ... for a little while.”

“Oh.  Sam told me they were setting up a VIP room,” Daniel replied.

“We thought you might need a few days to get reoriented, while your memory comes back.”

Daniel nodded.  Soon, they arrived at the guest quarters.  Jack opened the door, and Daniel entered, looking around at the artifacts and personal things that lined the room.  Some seemed familiar, others were totally foreign to him.

**I'm sorry, Danny.  I should bring you home.  I just need some time, too,** Jack admitted.  “Not exactly home, but ... we unpacked some of your stuff.”

“You kept all this even though you thought I was dead?” Daniel asked, surprised as he surveyed the room.

**If I believed you were really dead, Danny, I would have killed myself.**  “To be honest, we tossed out a ton of junk.”  Seeing the man's incredulous stare, Jack corrected, “A lot of which seemed to be very valuable.”

That look of Daniel's gave Jack hope again.  That was Daniel, the man who fought for his place at the SGC.

**You're here, Danny.  Time.  Time.  Time.**

Daniel noticed the photo of the beautiful woman on the nightstand.  He paused before picking it up.

~She's familiar, but ... I don't know ...~

“I ... kept a few of your ... personal things alive there,” Jack stated.  **Actually, I have everything.  I'm just kidding, Love, but like people keep telling me, small steps, one thing at a time.**

“I know her.”

“Really?” Jack asked.  **That's it.  Progress.**

“I mean, I must, right?” Daniel asked, not yet truly recognizing the woman he'd been married to.

~Crap.~  Jack was disappointed.  His latest moment of hope dashed in seconds.  “Yeah.”

“Who is she?  What's her name?”

“You tell me.”  Jack had remained standing by the door, prepared to make a quick exit when he just couldn't stand it any more, and that time was here.  **It's okay, Love.  Take your time, but I need to go for a while.**

**I'm here, Jack.  I love you.**

Daniel knew how hard this was for Jack.  He thought he must be making some headway because communicating was taking less energy and he wasn't as tired afterward.

~Something's happening.  I feel it.  My body -- it needs to remember, to understand Jack.~

Daniel hadn't looked up from the photo.  Something strange was going on.

~Okay.  I'm going to figure this out.~

**I love you, too, Angel.  Soon,  it'll be back to normal.  I promise,** Jack communicated.  He closed the door as he left the room.  ~I promise.~

Daniel looked around, feeling very alone.  He sat down on the bed, studying the photo some more.

“Do I know you?”  Daniel put the framed photograph down and picked up the group photo of SG-1.  He didn't even realize that his eyes flew immediately to Jack's face, smiling as he studied the firm and strong expression of this stranger. ~There's something I should remember, but what is it?~

Then Daniel looked at some of the books that had been placed on a shelf.  Most of them seemed to be about Egypt.  Wrapping his arms around himself, he tried to fight off the overwhelming pangs of loneliness and misery.  He felt so out of place in this room full of unfamiliar things.

“I should have stayed on Abydos.”

====

Jack sat in his office, his head in his hands.  Wanting complete privacy, he had turned off all of the security equipment and locked his door.  He wondered how he could get through this.  He needed answers.

“Shifu? ... *Shifu*?” the colonel called out with urgency.  ~Didn't think it would work.~

“Anyway, you're here, Love.  My Angel.  I just need to focus on that.  We need to trust our love.”  The colonel sighed as a knock on his door interrupted his sought after asylum. He was certain it was his 2IC coming to check on him.  He unlocked the door, and as he returned to his desk chair, he spoke, “Come on in, Carter.”

“Sir ...”  Sam walked in and was hit by the tangible despair rolling off of her commanding officer.  “At least we have him back.  Janet thinks his memory will return.  She suggested we surround him with familiar things as much as possible.  He's already remembered quite a lot.”

~I'm familiar to him, and he doesn't even know me.~  Jack mustered up a smile for her.  “Thanks, Carter.  You're a good friend.”

Sam watched as all the color drained from Jack's face.  Before she could ask him what was wrong, he was out the door and running down the corridor as if his life depended on it.

====

“Stupid, stupid, stupid.”  Jack cursed himself as he waited for the doors of the elevator to open.  **Danny?**  “I'm so selfish.”

Jack continued to berate himself all the way to Daniel's VIP suite.  He opened the door and was just in time to see Daniel quickly wipe away his tears.

“Danny, I am so, so sorry.”  His heart breaking, Jack sat beside Daniel on the bed and drew the younger man into his arms.  “I never should have left you alone like that.”  He felt Daniel struggle to escape his embrace and just held on more tightly.  A minute later, he was rewarded as Daniel's body sagged against him.  ~Not leaving you.~

“You don't have to look after me just because I can't remember who I am.  I'm fine,” Daniel spoke quietly.

Jack cringed, hearing those two words, words he'd worked hard to erase from Daniel's vocabulary over the years, words that did nothing but mask Daniel's true pain.

“You're not fine.  Whenever you say that, it means that you are so not fine that you're probably on the verge of collapse.”

“Oh.  What do I say when I really am fine then?”

Jack gave a hollow laugh and answered, “I don't think you've ever been asked the question when you really are fine.”

The 'friends' sat like that for a few more minutes, Jack just enjoying the feel of his lover in his arms.  He really didn't want to move, but he knew he should.  Any longer and it would be going beyond one friend comforting another.  Besides, certain parts of him were reacting to the fact that he was holding his soulmate, inhaling the scent of him, caressing his hair.

~Oops.~  Jack wondered if Daniel had frozen with confusion or embarrassment or whether, maybe he'd been enjoying Jack's caresses.  “Danny?”

Jack peered down at Daniel's face and found that the younger man had fallen asleep.  He couldn't stop himself from placing a kiss on the top of Daniel's head.  Slowly, he wriggled them back on the bed until they could both lie down.  He could feel his heart beating rapidly as he wondered whether the movements would wake the archaeologist.  Apparently, his lover was so exhausted that he slept through all of Jack's maneuverings.

~I should get up.  Go to my office, anywhere.~  Jack didn't move.  Then he couldn't hold back bittersweet tears when Daniel sighed in his sleep and shifted so that he was lying, his head over Jack's heart, arm resting on Jack's chest, his leg hooked in between Jack's.  **I don't know how I'm going to explain this to you when you wake up, Angel, but I can't move.  I just can't.  I need this.**

**Thank you, Jack.**

Daniel realized the connection between his mortal body and his current form was getting stronger.  He could feel and sense what it did, and right now, he sensed it was safe and secure in Jack's arms.

Jack looked down to see Daniel still sleeping peacefully on his chest and communicated, **I love you, Angel.  I am not letting you go.  I will never let you go.**

**I'm counting on it, my beautiful Silver Fox.**

Daniel felt such an all consuming surge of love for Jack that his current form seemed to expand in order to accommodate the emotion.  He felt himself brush against a number of the Ascended as he grew in size.  Each time he touched one, he seemed to gain some of their knowledge.  He wondered if, in return, they were learning of his love for Jack.  That thought seemed to feed his growing form.

Then the archaeologist touched it.  It wasn't an Ascended, but yet it was.  ~Anubis.~  The knowledge Anubis had unwittingly passed on chilled Daniel, and he felt his growth halt as his spirit sank.  The evil was so intense that it threatened to overtake Daniel.

~No.  I am me.  Jack.  Love.  Forever and always.  Jack.~

Daniel focused on his essence, the center of his being.  He held the love high, reveled in it.  He let the goodness and the promises of an eternity soothe him.  He pictured Jack in his mind, felt his touch, soaked in the memory of his love.  Slowly, he felt his form stop shrinking.  With every thought of Jack, he grew stronger until the evil that was Anubis was simply a memory, knowledge.

~It was his soul.  Dark.  Oh my gawd.  I have to tell Jack.~

====

After quite a while, Jack began to panic a little.  He was being selfish.  He didn't want to frighten Daniel when he woke up, and this particular position was just a little too intimate.  Using his best stealth training, Jack gently scooted out from under the younger man, inserting a pillow in his place.

**I'll be back, Love.**

Jack saw the picture of Sha're.  He still thought it was important for Daniel to remember her, too, maybe even first, as much as that ... hurt.  He took the photo and put it on the bed, placing it almost inside the palm of Daniel's hand.  When Daniel woke, he would see the picture.  Maybe it would jar his memory.

Quietly, Jack left.

====

“Colonel, have a seat.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack said, having been called to Hammond's office a bit later.

“How's our boy?”

“He's ... sleeping.”

“Doctor Fraiser said he's healthier than ever,” the general relayed.

“Yes.”

“What about his memory?”

“It seems to be coming back in pieces.  He's still not sure about things.  He's ...”  ~He's scared, and he needs me to help him.  “... making progress, General.”

“Good.  We have a briefing scheduled tomorrow morning at 0700 hours.  Jonas Quinn will be attending and ...”

“What?”

“Colonel, for the time being, Jonas will remain attached to SG-1.”

“There's no openings on SG-1, Sir.”

“Jack,” Hammond leaned forward, “Doctor Jackson will need time.”

“There are no openings on SG-1, Sir,” Jack insisted, his face taut, his voice firm and steady, and his eyes steely dark.

Hammond sighed, “Okay, have it your way, Jack, but for a while, you have a fifth.”

Jack had to accept that.  It was the best he was going to get, and he knew it.

====

Jack looked in on Daniel, observing, ~You look so peaceful when you're asleep, Love.~

Quickly, the older man retreated before his desires overwhelmed him.  He returned to his office and sat, his head in his hands, trying to steel himself for the upcoming mission with Jonas as part of the team.

**Jack.**

**Danny?**

Before he knew it, Jack was on his feet and racing back to Daniel's room.  He opened the door to find Daniel still sleeping soundly.

**Abydos, Jack.  You have to go to Abydos.**

It was taking all of Daniel's energy to transmit these thoughts to his lover.  His earlier strength had been zapped, and now, even focusing on Jack's love, he had to work to get back to the point where he was before he touched the darkness that was Anubis.

**Danny, please, come back to me.**

**Jack listen, Anubis is after the Eye of Ra.  You have to find it first.  Please, Jack.**

**Danny, where are you?**

**I don't know ... everywhere and nowhere ... Find me.**

**I will, Angel.**

Jack wasn't sure how he'd explain it if he got caught, but he grabbed a chair and sat quietly in the room.  He wanted to be there in case Daniel woke up or had a nightmare.  As painful as it was to maintain emotional distance, he could not, and would not, abandon his soulmate.

====

When morning broke, Jack put the chair back and headed for the locker room, where he took a quick shower and changed.  He then returned to the VIP room and gazed at his lover.

**My Angel.**  Jack walked over to the bed and gently shook Daniel's shoulder, speaking as calmly as possible, “Daniel.  Danny, its time to wake up now.”

“J'ck?”

Jack wiped away a tear before Daniel caught a glimpse of it.  He didn't know if Daniel had called out his name because he recognized Jack's voice or because it was what he always called out when waking, but, whatever the reason, it was just nice to hear.

The silver-haired man sat on the edge of Daniel's bed as he waited for his lover to wake up.

“Coffee?”

The hopeful sounding voice made Jack laugh.  Some things never changed, and one of those, apparently, was Daniel's undying love of coffee.

“Come on, you need to shower.  We have a briefing in thirty minutes.  Don't worry; we'll get you some coffee.”

Daniel smiled and felt a strange calm.  He didn't quite understand it, but he liked it.

====

Twenty-five minutes later, Jack and Daniel walked along the corridor to the briefing room, Daniel happily sipping his second cup of coffee.

“Danny, what do you know about the Eye of Ra?”

Daniel shrugged, answering, “Not a lot.  Why?”

Jack sighed, “Never mind.”  ~How in Netu am I going to convince Hammond that we need to go to Abydos to get the Eye of Ra when Daniel won't even know what I'm talking about.~

“Jack, can I ask you something?”

“Sure.  Anything.”

“Why are you the only one who calls me 'Danny'?  I mean, I've never ...” Daniel's voice trailed off.

“Because we're best friends, and because with me, you can be Danny and not the ...” Jack paused, not sure if Daniel would understand in his current state.

“Geek?” Daniel guessed.

“Something like that.”

The two entered the briefing room and sat down to wait for the general.  Jack found that even with Daniel sitting beside him he couldn't bring himself to look at Jonas and had to use all the self-restraint he could muster to stop Daniel from being friendly to the guy.

A minute later, General Hammond walked into the room and began, “The mission to PXJ-979 ...”

“We have to go to Abydos,” Jack interrupted, his voice stern but his eyes dodging the general's.

The other five people in the room stared at Jack.

“Colonel?”

“We have to go to Abydos and find the Eye of Ra before Anubis gets a hold of it,” the colonel stated.

“How do you know this, Colonel?” the general questioned.

**Geez, Danny, help me out here.**

Jack looked at Daniel as he sent his plea to his lover.  A second later, he saw Daniel's eyes widen.

“Ah, me.  I told him.”

Daniel was quite sure about this even though he had no recollection of telling Jack anything of the sort, nor did he know where this sudden knowledge of the Eye and Abydos had come from.

“I don't know how I know, but I just do.  Anubis is after the Eye of Ra. According to legend, there were six Eyes including those held by Apophis, Osiris and Tiamat among others.  Each is powerful on its own, but to use them in combination increases that power ten fold.”

Daniel paused, a bit nervous about his commentary.  He felt like the new kid in school.

“Recently, Anubis has managed to track down five of the six Eyes and only needs Ra's to complete the set.  He's looked everywhere Ra used to hang out except Abydos; now he's on his way there.  We have to go to Abydos.  Now.”  Daniel realized that the general, Sam, Jonas, and Teal'c were looking at him incredulously.  Jack just had a small smile on his face.  ~Odd.  How come Jack believes me?  I'm not even sure I believe me.~

“Colonel, I'm not sure I can authorize a mission on such limited information.  No offense, Doctor Jackson.”

Unoffended, Daniel simply shrugged.  He wasn't surprised the general was reluctant to abort a scheduled mission on the say so of someone who could barely remember their own name.

“General, how many times has Daniel been right in the past?” Jack queried pointedly.

Daniel looked at Jack, deeply touched by the older man's faith in him.

“DanielJackson has indeed been correct more times than not,” Teal'c noted.  “If he believes it would be wise to travel to Abydos, I believe we should do so.”

“It can't hurt, Sir,” Sam agreed.
 
Jack noticed Daniel's surprise at the support he was being given and lamented, ~Danny, when will you stop being so surprised when people show faith in you?~

“Very well, Colonel.  SG-1, you have a go in one hour.”

====

“Skaara!”

Hearing the joyous greeting Daniel gave Skaara when they stepped foot on Abydos, Jack had to suppress an irrational surge of jealousy.  He wanted that kind of welcome from Daniel for himself.

Jonas stepped forward and introduced himself to the Abydonian.  In an effort to not think about the things troubling him, Jack started giving orders.

“Teal'c, set up a perimeter.  I want to know the second we have company.  Skaara, do you know anything about the Eye of Ra?”

“I do, O'Neill.  It has been much talked about in our history.”

“Any idea where this ...” Jack shrugged a little, “... Eye thing is?”

“I will show you,” the young leader said, leading the team through the rooms of the pyramid.

Jack cast surreptitious looks at his lover and couldn't help but panic a little since Daniel was looking happier here than he had at any point during his time on Earth.

**I love you, Jack.**

Daniel could feel the happiness his mortal body was feeling and knew how that must look to Jack.  Even though he was sure it would drain his energy for a while, he had to transmit his love to Jack.

It was funny.  Since making that connection with his body in the briefing room at the SGC, he seemed to have a stronger bond with his body now.  He knew they'd all gone to Abydos and were walking in the catacombs of the pyramid.  Unfortunately, his mortal mind seemed unable to receive any personal knowledge from him.

Daniel had tried to pass on the knowledge of his relationship with Jack to his mortal form, but it hadn't worked.  ~This is so insane.  I have to find the answer before it's too late.~

**Danny?**

There was no further response, and Jack sighed in disappointment.

Skaara stopped, stating, “This is as far as the catacombs go.  Daniel and I have spent much time here.”

Daniel began looking around, saying, “I remember this.”

“No Eyes?” Jack asked, not seeing anything eyelike.

Skaara responded, “The Eye of Ra is mentioned many times on these walls.”

~Hmmm.~  Jack noticed that Daniel was completely focused on the writing.  ~So Daniel-like.~  “Just so we're clear, it's not a real eye.  It's a kind of jewel or something?”

Jack had no intention of collecting any alien body parts, even if they were powerful weapons.
 
If he'd had eyes in this form, Daniel would have rolled them.  ~Always using humor as a shield, aren't you, Jack.  Gawd, I love you.~

“We have never been able to find it,” Skaara answered.

Daniel walked over to a section of the wall.  The others exchanged glances and looked at him, hearing him mutter to himself.

“I always thought there might be a secret chamber here.  This section talks about how Ra draws his power from the sun.”

Jack wondered if Daniel was even aware of the fact that he was remembering more of his past.  This scenario was also a bit like that crazy dream the two had shared last year, and he wondered if any of that was muddling up Daniel's mind.

Jack heard a crackle from his radio, followed by Teal'c's urgent message, “O'Neill, we cannot hold our position.”

“Fall back to the pyramid.  You guys do your stuff.  I'm gonna go help Teal'c.”

Jack looked at Jonas, debating whether to leave the man with Daniel and Sam or keep him as far away from his lover as possible.  In the end, he decided that if there was the remotest possibility that Jonas could be useful here, he'd better leave him.

“I will come with you,” Skaara said as he followed Jack.

Jonas studied the wall, reading, “Some kind of trigger for a secret door.  Rays of the sun will reveal all.  Rays of the sun; there's no sunlight. Think any light will do?”

Jonas looked at Daniel, who shrugged and replied, “It's possible.”

Jonas got out a flashlight and shined it on a jewel in the middle of the wall, but nothing happened.

====

Jack and Skaara met Teal'c as he came flying into the pyramid.

“How many?” the colonel asked.

“Many,” the Jaffa answered.

Jack radioed Sam to hurry as they tried to protect their position inside the pyramid.

====

Jonas looked at the jewel in disappointment, lamenting, “I thought we were on to something.”

“You are,” Daniel said as he gazed at the jewel and the hieroglyphs on the wall.

“It's not working.”

Sam smiled at the difference between the two men.  While Jonas sounded frustrated, Daniel was just intrigued.

Daniel stated, “It's red.”

“What is?”

Though Jonas seemed confused, Sam was beginning to see what Daniel was getting at and thought, ~That's our Daniel.~

“The rays of the sun on the fresco are …  are red.  Sam?”

“Yeah.  Jonas?”  Sam focused the red laser sight of her P-90 on the jewel, and they were rewarded as the door slid open.  The three entered the room and looked around, lighting fire torches as they went. Sam smiled at the look of wonder on Daniel's face.  The room was full of artifacts.  ~Talk about a kid in a candy store.~  “Daniel?”  She noticed Daniel looking at a tablet.  “You can read that?”

“Yes, I ... Oma, the Others ... they're the Ancients.”

Jonas peered over Daniel's shoulder, observing, “This is written in one of the oldest dialects of the Ancients.”

“What does it say?”  Sam tried to think of Orlin as an Ancient, but somehow, it just didn't work for her.  ~Weird.~

“It says that the Ancients evolved from a race of humans that lived long before us. They were wiped out by a plague that was sweeping across the galaxy and that many learned to ascend, and the rest died out.  We can't lose this tablet.  It talks about a lost city that's more valuable than anything.”

Daniel picked up the tablet and reverently tucked it in his jacket.

“Daniel, what about the Eye of Ra?”

“I don't know,” the archaeologist answered as he continued to stare at the walls.

“Maybe there’s a secret compartment?” Sam shrugged in question.

“A secret compartment inside a secret chamber?” Jonas asked.

“Why not?”

“Why not?” Jonas repeated as he and Daniel began tapping on the walls with metal objects until finally Jonas came upon one that was hollow.  “Right here.  I don't see a latch or a jewel like in the other door, but there’s got to be some way to open this.”

“Yeah, stand back.”  Sam fired at the wall, opening it.  After Jonas grabbed the Eye of Ra, the three left the chamber.  Sam clicked her radio, reporting, “Sir, we got it.”

====

~No!~

Daniel knew from his mortal self that Skaara had been seriously wounded, and the rest of SG-1 were trapped in the catacombs by a band of Jaffa.  He also knew that Jack had threatened to blow up the Eye of Ra if they weren't given clear access to the gate.

~Gawd, Jack there has to be a way out of this.  I should be able to do something.~

“You could, Daniel, if you were to ascend.”

~Oma.~  Daniel felt like screaming.  He didn't know how she was communicating with him, and he didn't care.~  “Go away, Oma.  I am not going to ascend, ever.  What would be the point of saving Jack if I can't be with him?  I'd rather we both died here and now.”

“You will change your mind.”

Oma vanished, and Daniel was grateful.  He wanted to be left alone to focus on Jack.

Jack and Daniel walked quickly to Skaara, bending down at his side.

“I have failed you,” the Abydonian claimed.

“Aw, stop it,” Jack commanded.

“You haven't failed anyone, Skaara,” Daniel assured.

“Danyel, I am dying.”

Daniel sighed, “You'll see Sha're.”

Weakly, Skaara smiled and said, “I will tell her she is not forgotten.”

“No, she's not,” Daniel agreed softly.  ~I know I loved her.  I did ... love her, but ... there's something ... no, someone else?  No, there can't be anyone else.  They would have told me.  I don't understand.~

“You are my brother, O'Neill, and you, too, Danyel.”

Both men nodded, unsure what to say and wishing they had some magic to save the young man.  He had announced his plans to be married, but, now, he was dying.  Skaara began to speak in Abydonian, prepared to enter the next world.

“What’d he say?” Jack asked.

Teal'c answered, “He speaks of a bright light, of giving up, of releasing something.”

Suddenly, Skaara's body seemed to slip away, and in its place was a glowing light.  It became brighter as it made its out of the building.

“Oma,” Daniel said.

“You remember Oma?” Jack asked.

“I ... from Kheb.  I just assumed ...”  ~I don't know what I'm assuming. The name just came out.  Oma?  I don't like her ... why?  She was ... good.  The boy.  I had to find the boy.~

“Daniel?”  Jack's call interrupted the young man's remembrances.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I'm fine.”

~Sure, you are.  What's taking so long?  I hate waiting.~

Suddenly, a white light appeared, followed by the image of a person.

“Orlin?” Sam said in surprise.

“Hello, Sam,” the still-infatuated being greeted.  “I've come to help.”

“Help?  How?”

“I talked with Anubis.  He's ... different.  He wanted to ascend, but The Others wouldn't let him, so he's stuck between two worlds.  His ship is surrounded by those of other System Lords.  On your behalf, I've negotiated a deal.”

**Listen to Orlin, Jack.  Anubis, he's ... evil.  Listen to Orlin,** Daniel encouraged, working hard to convey the message and hoping Jack would hear him.

“A deal?” Jack asked skeptically.

“Yes,” Orlin acknowledged quietly.  “If you give him the Eye, he'll let you go.”

“Sure, he will,” Jack replied sarcastically.

“He will, Colonel.” Orlin stated firmly.

“I don't make deals with Goa'uld.”

“Jack,” Daniel interjected as he moved between the colonel and the ascended Orlin.  “The people of Abydos are at risk.  We have to protect them.  They're our responsibility, Jack.  You know that.”

~That's my Danny.  Fighting for everyone all the time,~ Jack thought.  “But how do we know Anubis will keep his word?”

“I'll make sure he does,”  Orlin stated with conviction.

“Sir,” Sam interjected.  “He will.  I'd bank my life on it.”

Sam looked at the being.  She truly cared about him, though she had never intended to.  He had once given up everything to save a race, and she knew he would stand behind his words here, once again.

Orlin nodded at Sam, reaffirming her belief in him.

“Okay,” Jack agreed hesitantly, walking away from the ascended being.

In a few moments, only Sam and Orlin remained.

“Maybe we will see each other again,” Orlin said hopefully.

“That ... probably wouldn't be a good idea, Orlin,” Sam responded, adding, “But thank you for helping us.”

“Take care, Sam.  My feelings have not changed; they will never change,” Orlin said, disappearing before Sam could say anything in reply.

====

~I hope this isn't a mistake.~  Not long thereafter, Jack handed over the Eye of Ra to the Jaffa leader and was surprised when they left, as promised.  “Maybe the kid will be able to handle this after all,” he thought.

SG-1 and Jonas headed for the Stargate.  Sam dialed Earth, and when the kawoosh ebbed, all but Jack stepped through.  The Air Force colonel turned around.

~Something strange is happening here.~  Jack saw a burst of electricity, and then quickly moved through the Stargate.  “Close the iris!” he shouted, afraid that whatever was destroying the planet might travel through the Stargate as well.

“What just happened?” Jonas asked, Daniel standing by his side, an image that made Jack very uncomfortable.

“Abydos was hit,” Jack answered, deliberately stepping in between the Kelownan and his lover.

“You saw it?” Sam questioned.

“I felt it, just before I came through.”

Sam went to the control room to check the readings, eventually explaining to Jack that, “a massive energy wave followed you through the wormhole.”

Daniel had felt the destruction of Abydos on a cosmic level.  It was as if the death of the Abydonians had created an energy wave which swept across the universe, passing on the knowledge that Abydos was gone.  Sadness flowed through Daniel's current form, his soul, his “it,” whatever that was.  He had to tell Jack.

**Jack, they're all dead.  All of them.**

Jack could feel the desolation in Daniel's words.  He glanced at his lover who was currently standing watching the gate dialing.

~Geez, this is driving me nuts, Danny.  I want to hold you, all of you.~

Jack was not surprised when the seventh chevron of the Abydos address refused to lock.  There was nothing there.  Abydos was gone.

====

General Hammond stood in the briefing room holding the stone tablet that Daniel had retrieved from Abydos.  Jack looked at Sam, who seemed to be in shock.  They all knew that the destruction of Abydos meant that Orlin had probably failed.  They didn't know what that might mean for the ascended being, but they didn't have a good feeling about it.

“The only thing we can assume is that Anubis didn't keep his deal with Orlin.” Jonas stated the obvious.

Jack rolled his eyes and quipped, “Ya think?”

Ignoring Jack's sarcasm, Teal'c stated matter-of-factly, “And that Orlin was unable to prevent Anubis from destroying Abydos.”

Hammond sighed, “Which leaves Anubis in possession of a powerful weapon that has given him clear superiority over the System Lords.”

“We don't know any of that for sure, Sir,” Jack replied, trying, but failing, to sound optimistic.

“What we do know is that we need to find the city that's described on that tablet,” Daniel spoke.

Jack was certain he could see Daniel's fingers positively itching to get a hold of the tablet and start translating it.

Hammond put the tablet on the table and pushed it towards the eager archaeologist, asking, “Can you translate this?”

“It will take some time, but yes,” Daniel answered with a nod.

“Good; Jonas can help you,” Hammond instructed, glaring at Jack before the colonel had a chance to object.

Jack decided now was probably not the time to provoke his superior officer, though inwardly he was thinking about Jonas, ~He can help by cleaning out the fish tank in Daniel's office.~

====

Sam sat in the control room willing the gate to lock.  She knew that Sergeant Davis was losing patience with her stubbornness, but she didn't care.  They'd been trying to dial Abydos ever since their return the day before.  When the seventh chevron finally locked, she wasn't sure who was more surprised, her or Davis.

A couple of hours later, SG-1, still with Jonas in tow, stepped through the event horizon into the pyramid on Abydos.  Everything looked normal.  Jack shot a worried look at his lover.  Daniel seemed withdrawn, and he was concerned that he hadn't been able to reach his soulmate through their silent communication in quite a while.
 
As the group walked through the village looking at people going about their ordinary business and children playing, their confusion grew.  They knew it wasn't right.  Abydos had been hit.

“They're all dead,” Daniel spoke quietly.  ~How do I know that?  But I do.  I ... know a lot of things all of a sudden.~

Daniel struggled to come to terms with the knowledge that had suddenly come to him, things he knew were true with absolute certainty.
 
~Great.  Now I'm passing knowledge on to myself without even realizing it.  Wait, isn't that personal?  No, I guess not.  Abydos was destroyed, my mortal self is feeling his own grief.  I can feel it.~

“Ah, Daniel.”  Jack waved at the very alive people surrounding them, but faltered when he saw the tears Daniel was fighting back.  ~I wish I could ... stop, O'Neill. You can't, not here and definitely not now.~

“They're dead,” Daniel repeated softly.
 
Jack spotted Skaara and walked over to him, calling out a hesitant, “Skaara.”

“O'Neill.”

“What's going on here?”

“Anubis destroyed the pyramid.  Everyone was killed in the blast,” the Abydonian revealed.

Everyone, except Daniel, looked around at the apparently living breathing people.

“They don't look dead to me, but then neither do you,” Jack pointed out.

Jack was really tired of being confused.  It was becoming his every day reality, and he felt both angry and frustrated about that.

“Death is only the beginning of one's journey,” Skaara spoke confidently.

“That sounds familiar,” Jack responded while silently wondering if being ascended also meant taking an oath to talk in riddles.

“Who did this?” Jack asked, though he wasn't sure he actually wanted to know.

“One named Oma did this.”  Jack gritted his teeth.  ~Yeah, and I know why.  And let me tell you, glowy lady, there is no way in Netu it's going to work.  You won't win Danny, ever.~

“I wish you well, O'Neill.  You will not see me again -- at least not for a while.”

“Take care,” Jack intoned as he hid behind his detached colonel persona.

“Do not fear.  You will find your way,” Skaara assured.

~My way is Danny.~  A ball rolled in front of Jack, and he bent down to pick it up.  “What do you mean by that?”  As he straightened, he realized that all the people and tents had gone.  ~Okay, that's weird.~
 
Skaara took the ball from him and whispered, “Danyel is with you, always.”  He moved back and looked at them all.  “The Chappa'ai will remain until you leave.”

While the others turned to see the Stargate sitting in the desert rather than the pyramid, Skaara gave Daniel a quick hug, whispering in his ear, “O'Neill is for you.  Do not forget the musician.”

Daniel blinked several times as the hug ceased and wondered, ~The musician?  Jack is ... for me?~

By the time the others turned back, Skaara had gone.

“Let's go home,” Jack ordered.

Jack couldn't stop himself from throwing an arm around Daniel's shoulders as they walked towards the Stargate and was pleased that his action met no resistance.  If anything, the archaeologist leaned a little closer to him.

“You see how much you could do, Daniel?”
 
“Oh for crying out loud, Oma!  Just FRIGGIN' leave me alone,” Daniel snapped, intentionally channeling Jack, hoping Oma would finally realize that he and Jack were inseparable.

"I will wait for you, Daniel," Oma declared as she vanished from Daniel's sight.

~You'll be waiting an eternity, Oma.~

====

“Daniel?” Jonas stuck his head in the door of Daniel's office the next morning.

“Jonas.”

“Um, is the coast clear?”

“What?” a confused Daniel replied.

“Colonel O'Neill.  The last time I came in here, he, well, he didn't take it too well,” Jonas explained.

“He didn't?” a confused Daniel questioned.

“No, not at all.”

“Oh.  Well, he's not here,” Daniel stated.  ~And why isn't he?  Gawd, why do I expect Jack to be here all the time?~

Smiling, Jonas entered and asked, “How can I help?”

“Hhhhelp?”

“With the translation,” the smiling alien answered.

“Oh, well, I think I have it under control, but, of course, if you want, you can study it, too.  It never hurts to have more than one opinion.”

Jonas had gone over to the shelves on the north wall.  Daniel's pack was there, and he picked up an item.

“Hey, this great.  Would you mind if I borrowed it sometime?”

“Yes, he'd mind,” Jack snapped upon entering the office just in time to hear the question.

“Jack.”

With eyes glazed with anger, Jack stormed over to Jonas and ordered, “Put that down.  *Now*!”

“I was just ... he wasn't using it.”  Jonas gulped.  He'd never seen this look from the colonel, and it was the most intense ever.  “I think I'll go ... do ... something ... somewhere else,” Jonas stammered.

“I think that would be a good idea,” Jack acknowledged.

Jonas made a hasty exit, and Jack took a deep breath, glad the alien had departed the area.

“Jack, why don't you like him?” Daniel asked, his arms crossed in front of him.

“Because he wants to be you,” Jack answered.  “Because he wants your place on SG-1.”

“No, he ...”

“Yes, Daniel, he does, and you'll just have to trust me on that one.  He's been using your office and your things, talking about your fish like they're his.  And he smiles all the time.  The kid annoys me,” Jack admitted gruffly.  **And there was that dream.  Remember, Danny?**

“He's just trying to do his job.”

“He can do it someplace else.  Speaking of jobs, how's it coming?” the colonel questioned about the translation.

“Better.”

“The general called a briefing for 1500.  Will you be ready?”  When Daniel shrugged insecurely, Jack smiled.  “You'll be ready, L...Daniel.”  ~Geez, I have to get out of here.~  “I'll see you at the briefing.”

Watching Jack's quick departure, the archaeologist thought, ~I wonder what you stopped yourself from saying.  It almost sounded like ... no, that doesn't make sense. Jackson, you've got work to do.~  Daniel looked around.  ~I need to work somewhere else for a while,~ he opined, feeling a little closed in.

The linguist decided to take the information he was working on to his VIP room, hoping things would be clearer for him there.

====

A bit later, Sam was giving the general a report just received from the Tok'ra.

Jack was sitting opposite the general, playing with objects on the top of the general's desk.

Hammond was trying not to throttle his second-in-command for his tinkering with the objects, but was devising a list of less-than-stellar tasks for the man to perform, if necessary.

“According to intelligence provided by the Tok'ra, Anubis is quickly decimating the forces of the remaining System Lords.”

“No, really?” Jack said sarcastically.

Sam glared at her CO's tone.

The sound of running footsteps brought their attention to the doorway where Jonas appeared and stopped dead when he saw Jack in the room.  He looked behind him, clearly debating whether it was still possible to retreat.

“Come on in, Son.”  Hammond smiled at the young man.  “I take it you have something to tell us?”

“I got it.”

“Hopefully, it's not contagious,” Jack sniggered.

“Ha, ha. The lost city.”  Jonas looked at them expectantly, and they looked just as expectantly back at him.  “On the tablet.”

“You found it?” Sam asked, noticing how unhappy Jack looked at the moment.

“Yeah, only it's not the lost city,” Jonas spoke.  “That never made sense to me anyway. I mean, the tablet is written in Ancient.  How could they lose one of their own cities?  And even if they did, why would they call it the lost city? They wouldn't.  They would call it by its name, right?”

“Mister Quinn ...” Hammond began.

Jack was pleased to see that the general didn't look convinced by Jonas' reasoning.

Undaunted, Jonas rushed on, saying, “It's not the lost city.  It's the city of the lost.”

“Do you have a gate address?”  Sam ignored the glare that Jack threw her way.

“There's a reference in some partial translations that Doctor Jackson was working on from the library of the four races.  It talks about a city of the Ancients called Vis Uban as being a place where the plague began. This was going to be the crown jewel in the entire Ancient domain, only it was still under construction when the plague broke out.”

“Speaking of Daniel.  Where is he?  Have you checked all this with him?” Jack questioned, accusation in his tone.

Jonas shifted nervously, well aware that Jack's tone had been unbearably polite.  The Kelownan found that to be more disturbing than if Jack had shouted and raved at him.  He also suspected that Jack knew this.

“Ah, while we were reviewing some notes in his quarters, he fell asleep.  I didn't want to disturb him.”

~Of course not.  Trying to take the credit for something that isn't yours?  Well, you'd better not be, or this will be your last day on Earth.~

Sam decided to direct the conversation to less stormy waters and stated, “Two words:  Gate address.”

~Nice try, Carter.~  Jack decided it would be a good idea to leave before he said something that the general certainly wouldn't appreciate.  “I'm going to go check on Daniel.”

“We'll begin the briefing early, Colonel.”

“Copy that,” Jack said as he disappeared from sight.

“Mister Quinn,” Hammond stated.  “Doctor Jackson may be going through a difficult time, but, memory or no memory, I'd trust his instincts before most men's facts.  Do you understand what I'm saying?”

“Yes, Sir,” Jonas acknowledged mildly.  “It's just ... he fell asleep.”

“Jonas, Daniel's still adjusting to being back on Earth.  A few catnaps isn't unusual.  It's okay to wake him up,” Sam advised.

“Okay, Sam,” Jonas responded.

====

Jack knocked on the door to the VIP suite, but hearing no answer, he opened it and saw his lover asleep on the bed.  There were books and notepads all around.  Jack glanced at them.  Most of it was Greek to him, but he saw the notations about the lost city.  Daniel was obviously working hard to unearth the mysteries of the tablet.

“Daniel?”  Jack reached over and gently tugged on the young man's upper arm.  “Daniel.”

Daniel's eyes fluttered open as he called out, “Jack?”

“Right here, Danny.”

“Good.  I missed ...”  Suddenly, Daniel stopped his words.  It was as if he didn't know what he was saying.  He looked at Jack strangely.  “Where ...”  He paused, remembering as he sat up.  “Oh.  Hi, Jack.”

“Hi, Danny.  The briefing is starting early.  The kid ran in all excited about something, so ...”

“Briefing?  Oh, Jonas ... we were, uh, talking.  I guess I fell asleep,” Daniel supposed.  ~Gawd, that's embarrassing.~

“It's okay,” Jack assured.  **And you are so darn cute when you first wake up.  Geez, I want to hold you, Danny.**

Daniel's eyes blinked several times as he thought, ~I'm losing my mind.  I keep hearing Jack's voice.  That's so not possible.  The things he says.  Gawd, I'm in trouble.~

“You ready, or ...”

“I ... think I'll take the 'or' first,” Daniel said.  “Can you gather these up while I ... uh ...”

“Sure,” Jack promised while Daniel attended to a call of nature.

====

SG-1 was examining the pictures the MALP had sent back of the planet that Jonas believed was the lost city when Daniel sneaked in, apologizing for being late.  Jack was right behind him.

“You're not late, Son.  We've just begun,” Hammond stated.

Jonas looked relieved to see Daniel, and Sam wondered if he thought Daniel would protect him from the colonel's wrath.

~Don't count on it, Jonas.  I'm afraid you're on the colonel's 'hit' list,~ the major silently thought.

“So, uh ... there are extensive writings.  All of them are in the oldest known Ancient dialects.  All of them have yet to be translated, but, uh, so far, we haven't found any signs of any advanced weapons or power sources.  I mean, the original name of the city is Vis Uban which does translate as place of great power, but there's no indication that we're gonna find any means of defeating Anubis there.”

“You're not.  It's not the lost city,” Daniel spoke without thinking, then blushed slightly as he realized that probably sounded rude.  He instinctively looked at Jack, who smiled at him.  ~At least try to sound intelligent, Jackson.~

“How do you know?” Jack asked.  He looked utterly confident that Daniel would have an answer to his question.  ~Hit us with it, Danny.~

“Uh, because Jonas translated 'lacun' to mean ‘of the lost’.”

“Yeah, but that's how we found ...”

“The wrong place,” Daniel interrupted him.

~Here we go.~  Jack looked down to hide his grin.  ~You are so out of your depth here, Jonas.  Quit while your behind.~

“The translations in your notes ...”

“Also wrong, if these are the ones you mean.  I was … way off.”

“Well, how do you know that?”

“I don't know.  I ... I just ... I know what the tablet says.”

Curious, the colonel asked, “How?”  ~What in Netu did Oma do to you, Danny?~

“I don't know.  I just looked at it and understood it.”

Sam frowned and stated, “Wait a minute.  Are you saying the Ancients actually lost one of their own cities?”

“No. No, they didn't lose it.  They ... they made it lost ... to other people that might try to find it.  I'm guessing that they camouflaged it and removed all reference to it from written history.”

“So ... the lost city is … still lost?” Jack asked, wanting to make sure it all sounded as bizarre as he thought it did.

“I'm pretty sure.  Look, all I know is that the place you're searching right now is not it,” Daniel stated.

“Then where is it?” Jack demanded.

“Did I just say ‘all I know’?”

Jack glared at Daniel and then threatened, “Everyone turn away.  I want no witnesses.”  **Geez, Danny.  You are so cute when you get snarky.  I just want to kiss you right now.**  He  saw Daniel's head fly up.  **Danny?**
 
**We heard, Love.  I'm here.**

If he'd had form, Daniel would have smiled.  His mortal body was beginning to feel more like a part of him.  He'd even managed to transmit a little more information about the Ancients language to his body.  They were still separate, but now, Daniel's essence felt hope.
 
**Danny, where are you?**
 
There was no further telepathic response from his lover.  Jack heard Daniel sigh and wasn't sure what that meant.

~Odd.  You said 'we'.  What does that mean?  This is a nightmare.~

====

~Gawd, this is hard, Jack.~

Daniel had decided to try storing his energy, hoping to create a reserve.  He had a sense that something important would be happening, and Jack would need him.  He knew from his mortal self that the SGC and Tok'ra were working on how to destroy Anubis.  Sam and her staff were working out how his mother ship might be destroyed, while Teal'c assisted the Tok'ra in the quest for intel before going to meet a System Lord named Yu to persuade him to send the fleet of System Lords against the half-ascended being.

~I know you must hate it, Jack.~

Daniel knew his mortal self was working on the translation, with Jonas along for the ride.  He felt sorry for those involved in the training exercises Jack was conducting in anticipation of the SGC going into battle.  Relentless training was one way the colonel could relieve his frustrations.

~But, you're never unfair, my Love.  You only ever push them as far as they can be pushed.  Gawd, Jack.  Its so hard to stop myself from trying to communicate with you.~

The one bright spark for Daniel during the couple of days he conserved his energy was the knowledge that Jack was doing a fair bit of Daniel-watching.  He didn't think his mortal body's consciousness was aware of Jack's gaze, but his subconscious was, as was Daniel's essence, his soul, this other form that held Daniel and his emotions hostage.  He clung desperately to that connection with his lover.

Since the discoveries about the lost city, Jack had felt a bit lost himself.  He hadn't had any silent communication with Daniel, and the Daniel who was often sitting by his side wasn't the Daniel sending the communications of days earlier.  His confusion had remained.

Finally, a plan was devised, and Sam led the briefing that included her teammates, Jonas, other SGC personnel, and members of the Tok'ra.  During the session, they reviewed everything they knew up until now.

“So, what we know about Anubis is that he is part-ascended,” Sam spoke.  “The Ancients rejected him and tried to send him back to human form, but it didn't work, so now he's ... half and half.”

“And the important thing about that, is that he wouldn't know everything the Ancients know, or he would already have found the lost city on his own,” Jonas interjected.

Jack glared at the Kelownan, thinking, ~Did we ask for your commentary?~

“That seems logical,” Daniel acknowledged from his seat next to Jonas.

~And who did this seating chart anyway?  How the heck did *my* lover end up sitting next to the kid?  I am *so* not liking this,~ Jack stewed silently.

“The Tok'ra were able to get us the intelligence on the mother ship, which we've studied in detail, and we've come up with the,” Sam hesitated for a moment, aware that this really wasn't the best attack plan they'd devised, but it was the only one that was even remotely feasible, “best plan possible.”

“Oh, do tell,” Jack requested sarcastically.  He already knew the details, and he was not a happy camper, for more reasons than one.  ~Ridiculous.~

Sam continued, “As you all know, we've had little success using Naquadria to power the F-302's hyperspace generator for any length of time.  However, if our calculations are correct, we believe that a short, controlled burst would send the 302 into subspace just long enough to bypass the mother ship's shields.”

“And if your calculations are incorrect?” Jack asked, already knowing the answer.

“The 302 would bypass the mother ship all together, or worse, re-emerge inside it, but let's not go there right now,” Sam suggested.

“Of course, let's not dwell,” Jack responded.

Daniel, or rather the essence of Daniel, knew it was time to use some of his energy to communicate with his lover again.

**Jack, don't treat this like a joke.  Please.  You need to find me.**

~This mission.  It's ... necessary.  I need this to reunite with my body.  Gawd, I wish I knew why though.~

**Danny?**

**Go along, Jack.  It's important.  You have to let it happen.**

Jack looked at Daniel.  He was straight-faced, listening to Sam continue the briefing.

**Danny, what am I supposed to do?**

**Let it happen.  We're here ... getting stronger.  Help.**

Daniel suspected that the emotions the mission would generate were going to strengthen the bond between his mortal and energy forms.  Somehow, as his mortal body was beginning to take in his environment, to realize he was where he belonged, and growing in feelings for those around him, especially Jack, the bond between the body and the essence of Daniel heightened.

**We have to go there, and you have to let things run their course.  Please, Jack.**

Jack refocused on his 2IC's comments.  Apparently, like it or not, he was going to have to go along with the plan.

“... The power core of Anubis' new weapon must be cooled by a ventilation shaft on the exterior of the ship.  If that can be targeted and destroyed just as the weapon is powering up, the crystals will overheat and be destroyed,” Sam stated.  “And no, we don't know where the shaft is exactly.”

A Tok'ra spoke up, saying, “Our operative in Anubis' ranks has been unable to get aboard the new ship, and has only been able to glean a very limited working knowledge of it.  Anubis protects his computer systems with elaborate ciphers coded in the oldest known Ancient dialect.  We have been unable to translate them.”

Sam added, “Which is where Jonas Quinn and Daniel Jackson come in.  They'll sneak onto Anubis' ship and access the computer.”

~And you say you are our friend?  How could you do that to him?  *To me*?~ Jack inwardly rebelled.

The Tok'ra continued, “We have devised an injectable radioactive isotope that will allow them to move freely on Anubis' ship, undetected by its sensors, for eight hours.”

“They'll decipher the codes and relay the location of the target to Colonel O'Neill and myself, who will be flying the F-302,” Sam explained.  “We have reason to believe that eliminating the crystal power core of the ship's main weapon won't destroy the entire ship.  Its defenses and auxiliary weapons will remain intact.”

Jack couldn't help himself and asked, “Why don't we dwell on that for just a minute?”  He was fuming at his second for her plan of attack that had Daniel going anywhere with Jonas Quinn.  Sam, of all people, should know that was on the list of things to definitely not happen.  He hadn't been this upset with his 2IC in years.  ~Elmendorf.  Yep, a little cold and ice will do wonders for her.~

Sam continued, “Our goal is to take out Anubis' new super weapon.  It's what gives him a clear advantage over the rest of the Goa'uld mother ships.”

It was that very information, that Anubis had such a strong advantage, which had finally convinced Lord Yu to lend his fleet when Teal'c approached him for help.  The plan was for Yu and the other System Lords to attack Anubis once the SGC had accomplished their mission.

Over the next several days, the SGC would create a false tablet that would outline the location of the supposed lost city.  Not having the knowledge of the Ancients, Anubis would believe whatever the tablet said and go to the place referenced on it.  With the population of the planet already relocated via the Stargate, the SGC would be ready to take on the evil Goa'uld.

**I don't like this, Danny.**

**Go along with it, Jack.  It's the only way,** Daniel responded.  He ached to hold his lover.  He wanted Jack so badly.  ~I love you so much.~

**Why?**

**I ... I don't know.**  Daniel wished he had more answers for Jack.  ~I wish I had more answers for myself.~

**You're a big help.**  Jack was growing frustrated, but when there wasn't a response, he panicked.  **Danny?  Danny, don't go away.  Danny?**

Jack felt like he lost Daniel all over again.  He felt cold, and alone.

~I'm here, Jack.  I don't have the strength to tell you, but I'm still here.~

Daniel, too, was frustrated by the way these telepathic communications seemed to drain him.  They'd always seemed so effortless before.  He certainly had a new found appreciation for them.

====

As the mission was about to begin, Jack and Daniel were in the locker room, getting their gear together when the younger man noticed a photo on Jack's locker.

“That's your son.”

“Yeah.”

Daniel said, “Charlie ... he's why I know you.  You took that first mission to Abydos because you thought it'd be ... suicide.”

“Things change.”  **I fell in love with you.  You saved my life.**

“Yeah, sorry,” the younger man said.  ~There's more.  Why can't I remember?~

“You sure you're ready for this?”

“Yeah, well, despite what you say, I don't think you'd be doing this if it wasn't worth doing.”  ~I believe in you.  Why is that?  I don't remember everything, but I know I believe in you.  I've always believed in you.  Why is that?~

“Well, you obviously don't remember everything.  You never used to follow my lead,” Jack revealed.  He tied his bootlace and stood, preparing to exit the room.  ~Lots of good arguments and makeup sex.~

“I didn't?” Daniel asked in disbelief.  ~Why?  I'd follow you anywhere.  I would?  Yes, I would.  Jack, I'd follow you anywhere.~

Jack walked to the door when Daniel knew he needed to say something.

~You look so sad, Jack.  I don't understand why, but I think it's me.  I don't want you to be sad.  Gawd, why is that so important to me?~ Daniel pondered.  Verbally, he called out, “Hey, um, I may not remember everything, but, uh, I remember enough.”  ~You're my friend, and that's everything.~

“Good,” Jack said with a smile.  ~And I have to get out of here because you don't remember enough.  Geez, Danny, you don't remember anything, not really.~

====

As Jack and Sam prepared to take off in the F-302 and were awaiting clearance, Jack requested, “So ... tell me again, Carter, why you thought Daniel had to go with Jonas?”

~He isn't going to let this go.~  Sam considered ignoring her commanding officer, but she knew that would never work.  As she continued her pre-flight tasks, she answered, “Because they are the most qualified to get aboard the ship and access the computer, Sir.”

“Carter ...”

“Sir, would you prefer Daniel fly the F-302, and you hack the computer?”

Jack had to admit she had a point there and responded, “Sorry, Carter.”

“I understand, Sir, but while you may not like him much, Jonas does know his job.”

“I don't trust him to ...”  Jack remembered the dream, how the Jonas in the dream let Daniel be the hero, cowering against the wall as Daniel flung himself through the glass, into a radioactive zone.  He had saved the planet, sacrificing his life in the process.  “I just don't trust him,” he admitted solemnly.  ~And no matter what, I shouldn't have let Danny go with him.  If anything happens, I'll never forgive myself.~

“Airstrike, this is command base.  You are a go for take off.”

The words drew Jack from his thoughts, and he refocused on the goal at hand.  Soon, the teammates were in the air.

--

Outside Anubis' mother ship, Sam made contact with Daniel and Jonas who'd used a Tok'ra ring transport device to get inside.

“Daniel, Jonas, we are under attack.  We need that intel.”

“We're close.”  ~Almost there.~

“We can't hold these guys off for long.”

~Jack can.  He's good.  Wow!  Why am I so sure?  Because I am.  Jack is a great pilot.  He can do anything.  I know that more than I ... more than I know my name.~

Daniel continued to work, and then finally said, “Jack, Sam, we got it. Transmitting data.”

With the transmission completed, Daniel and Jonas suddenly realized that the planet below them, which the SGC and Tok'ra were using as the mission command post, was being targeted by Anubis.  The sound of Jaffa outside the doors of the computer bay also indicated that they weren't going to be able to leave the same way they came in.  After Jonas warned the command center, the two looked for a means of escape.

====

Daniel braced himself as he waited for the tremors to pass from the explosion Jack and Sam had created.  He hoped Jonas was okay and berated himself for being first to climb into the ventilation shaft they'd spotted.  While he had escaped, Jonas had been captured.

“Daniel, come in.  Do you read?” Sam called out from the F-302, now flying away to safety.

“Yeah, I'm still on the ship.  Hey, congratulations, I think you guys hit the mark,” Daniel observed.

“Thanks, it was fun,” Jack said.  **Are you okay, Love?  I'm worried about you.  I want you off that ship!**  ~Oh, Danny.~

“We'll wait until Anubis' ship clears out and rendezvous with you at the Stargate as planned,” Sam responded.

“Yeah, as far as that goes, we may have a little problem,” Daniel stated, still crawling through the narrow space.

“Problem, Daniel?” Jack questioned, not liking the sound of his lover's remark at all.

“Yeah, well, Jonas was captured, and I'm trying to find him.”

~Oh for crying out loud.  Let the kid ...~ Jack stopped his thoughts.  He didn't mean that, not really.  Still, Daniel was in jeopardy, and he knew his lover wouldn't leave the ship without the Kelownan.

“Daniel, what do you ...”

“Sir,” Sam interrupted, “the ship just went into hyperspace.  They're out of range.”

“Oh, crap.”

“He'll be okay, Sir.”

“Right, Carter.  He'll be just fine.”

Jack headed back to the base, fear for Daniel filling him, and used their special way of talking to urge, **Danny, please be safe.**

**I'm safe, Jack.  It'll be okay.**

As he continued to float along in yet another different direction, Daniel knew his mortal body was fine.

**Danny, I don't understand why I can talk to you sometimes, and not at others.**

**I don't either, Love, but I'm here.  I'm always here.**

====

Their task completed, Jack and Sam walked though the Stargate and stood at the base of the ramp facing the general.  He couldn't believe this was happening.

~Gawd, Danny, please be okay,~ Jack begged.

“The mission objective was a success, Sir.  Anubis’s new weapon has been neutralized,” Sam told the general, knowing that her CO was lost in thought about Daniel.

“Well done.  What about Jonas and Doctor Jackson?”

“Still on the ship.” Jack's voice was flat.  He was full of worry.  ~Why did I let him go?  I know better.  But how was I going to stop him?  He wouldn't have understood.  This is such a mess.~

“Anubis went into hyperspace before we could do anything,” Sam added when Jack didn't say anything more.

“Do we have any idea where they went?”

“No, Sir,” Sam answered, her regret tangible.

“Okay, debriefing in one hour.”  As soon as the words were out of the general's mouth, Jack made a beeline for his office.  “He's not taking it well,” Hammond said softly.

The comment wasn't a question, but it prompted Sam to wonder just how much the general knew about the colonel and Daniel's relationship.

“No, Sir,” the major sighed.  Giving the general a small sad smile, she trudged off to the locker room.  ~He's not taking it well at all.~

====

“We just received a report from Tok’ra intelligence,” Hammond spoke after hanging up the phone.  “So far, they have no information on the whereabouts of Anubis’ ship.”

~That'd be about right.  They're never there when we need them.~  Jack gritted his teeth.  “What about Teal’c?”

“We haven't heard anything.  We can only assume he is still with Yu’s fleet.”

“Any idea why they didn't show?” Sam asked.

“I could make a guess,” Jack said, his trademark sarcasm in full force.

“You think Yu hung us out to dry?” Hammond asked.

“I’m not going to touch that, Sir.”

“I don't think he would have made a deal with Anubis, not with their history,” Sam opined.

~Ever the optimist aren't you, Carter?~  Jack responded, “Trust a Goa'uld, this is what you get.”  ~And why did I let Danny go on that ship?~

“I understand how you feel, Colonel, but I approved this operation because I believed it was our best chance to deal Anubis a crippling blow.”

“Yes, Sir.”  ~But no, Sir, you don't understand how I feel.  Daniel is our best hope of defeating Anubis.  Daniel's our best hope for ... everything.  Danny ... I miss you.~

“Unscheduled off-world activation!  We are receiving a radio signal, Sir,” Sergeant Davis' voice boomed over the sound of the klaxons as the Stargate began turning.

“This is Ambassador Dreylock of the Kelownan High Council.  Please respond.”

~Great, just what we need.  Why can't they just leave us alone?  It's bad enough we have that friggin' exchange program.  We have to concentrate on finding Danny.~  Jack fumed, ignoring the conversation until he heard Dreylock say that Kelowna was under attack from Anubis.  ~Finally, a bit of luck.  I'm going to get you back, Danny.~

====

~I can't believe I'm on this friggin' planet.~  Jack was not happy at being back on Kelowna.  As he'd stepped through the Stargate, he and Sam had been met by the Kelownan Council.  ~The things I do.~

Sam studied the communication device there and explained that it should work, even though they were in a bunker hundreds of feet below the surface on the outskirts of the capital city.

“The communicator should work.  It was designed to transmit from Tok'ra tunnels,” Sam stated.

Jack grabbed it, saying, “Daniel ... Daniel, come in.  This is O'Neill.”  Holding his breath, he waited for a response.  ~Come on Danny, please.  I need you.  Please be okay.~  “Daniel.”

“Jack?”

The sound of Daniel's voice was like a balm to Jack's soul.  He released the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

“What is your situation?”

“I'm hiding.  What’s yours?” Daniel asked lightheartedly.

Jack grinned, his mind thinking, ~Now we're making progress.  That's my Danny.~ “Carter and I are on the planet.”

“You’re going to have to be a little more specific, Jack.  I haven't had time to look out a window lately.”

~Geez, I love him,~ Jack thought inwardly.  “You are hovering over Jonas’s home world.”

“Why?”

“I wish I knew.  Are you in any immediate danger?”

“Depends what you mean by immediate.”

Jack's temporary lighthearted feeling disappeared, replaced by panic, and he called out, “Daniel!”

Daniel responded, “I'm fine.  I found the location of Jonas’ cell from the ship's computer.  I'm on my way there now.  I have just got a couple of problems.”

“Like what?” Jack asked as he felt his heart pounding even harder.

“Well, I’m not sure how to shut off the force field protecting his cell yet.”

~Okay, don't care about that.  As long as you're okay, Danny.~  Jack moved to the next issue.  “You said a couple.”

“Yeah, actually I'm a little lost at the moment, and I've only got about three hours left before the Tok'ra isotope wears off, and I'm visible to the ship’s sensors.”

“So, business as usual then, huh?” Jack responded, trying to sound confident in an offbeat sort of way.  ~We can get through this.~

“I don't know.  Is it?”

The words were a painful reminder to Jack that even if they got through this, he still didn't have Daniel back, not really.  Yet, Daniel was being the man Jack knew -- strong, never giving up, resourceful, and definitely snarky.  He tried to sound lighthearted as he responded.

“Yes.  We do this kind of thing all the time,” Jack reminded strongly.

“Ah, well, good.  That’s comforting then.”

Jack smiled, communicating, **Love you, Danny.**

Even though he knew he should probably conserve his energy, Daniel had to respond.  **Love you, too, Jack.**

**Danny?**

Daniel tried to answer his soulmate and found he didn't have enough reserve strength.

~Gawd, Jack, I'm sorry.  I'm here though, Love.  Don't give up on me.  I think ... I think the answer is in our grasp now.~

Jack returned to the others and questioned, “So, what exactly happened here?”

The commander explained, “When the ship appeared, we were caught completely off-guard.  There was widespread panic.  Before we even knew what was happening, most of the High Council had been taken hostage.  When we wouldn't give into his demands, Anubis had the First Minister executed.  He also fired a volley into our industrial sector, destroying several factories and killing many innocent citizens.  After that, we gave him what he wanted.”

Jack asked, “Which was?”

“Naquadria -- our entire stockpile.”

Jack was steaming, barking, ~And you just gave it to him?  Idiots.  You've just given him another weapon to use against you.  If it weren't for the fact that Danny's on that ship, I'd gate back to Earth and let Anubis stew your rat's behind.~ Jack looked at the Kelownans with contempt.  ~I think I'd rather deal with the Tollan, if there are any left out there.~

====

“This bunker is secure,” Commander Hale informed.  “We had the Gate moved here after the Tiranians and Andaris began their air strikes.  Fortunately, we managed to negotiate a cease fire after we used the Naquadria bomb.”

Jack and Sam stared at the Kelownan's with disgust.

“You used that on people?” Jack asked incredulously.  He couldn't believe the arrogance and ignorance of the Kelownan people.  ~Insanity in the gene pool.~

Dreylock responded, “Believe me, everyone immediately regretted it.  The devastation was beyond anything we could have ever imagined.”

“We had no choice.  Many Kelownans would have died had we done nothing,” the commander added.  “We were faced with our own destruction, and you refused to help us.”

Dreylock continued to try and justify the actions the Kelownan's had taken by saying, “And as awful as it was, it did succeed in bringing Tiranians and Andaris to the table.  In fact, delegates had just arrived in the city for peace talks when all of this began.”

~I just can't believe these people.  Not even the Pentagon is this bad.  Well, okay, maybe sometimes.~

Sam's next question garnered Jack's attention as she inquired, “Do they know about the Stargate?”

“No,” the commander answered.

~Ignoramuses .~  “Well, they may have noticed the rather large ship floating in the sky.  You might as well tell them the rest.”

The Kelownan's seemed to miss Jack's sarcasm.

“Well, we were hoping it wouldn't come to that.  Anubis has everything he came for.  He may just leave.”

“If Anubis can figure out how to overcome the instability of the Naquadria, it will give him a significant advantage over all of his enemies.  Sooner or later, he's going to want more,” Sam stated.

“There is no more.  The mine is dry,” Dreylock informed Jack and Sam.

Sam couldn't believe these people either and remarked, “You think he's gonna take your word for it?  He will occupy this planet and enslave your people. We've seen it before.”  Seeing Jack's nod, she continued, “If you want to fight, we'll help you. But we need the cooperation of the other major powers on this world.“

====

Daniel and Jonas were in the hallway of Anubis' ship with the Jaffa patrols rapidly closing in on them.

“Well, we've got one minute before the isotope wears off.  You know, life on Abydos was nice.  The people were simple, life was quiet,” Daniel spoke lightly.

“What can I say?” Jonas asked.

“I couldn't remember what this was like,” Daniel admitted.

“It's fun, isn't it?” Jonas said with a grin.  ~I wish I could stay on Earth.  Working at the SGC has been great.~

“Yeah.”

From his position in space, Daniel realized that this was a big part of what his mortal body had needed to remember.  This was the reason that the mission had been so important.

~Going through the Stargate, Jack.  All of it.  It can't be described; it has to be felt.  The part of me down there needed to feel it.~

Daniel concentrated again, and had he any form, would have smiled.  His mortal body and Jonas had found their means of escape from Anubis' ship.
 
====

“Nice timing,” a grinning Sam remarked.  She, Teal'c and Dreylock had been surrounded by Jaffa, but the distraction of Daniel and Jonas ringing down from Anubis' ship had allowed her and Teal'c to overpower them.  ~He's safe, which means I'm safe from the colonel's wrath.~
 
“Thanks.  Where are we?”

“Warehouse.  It's where they keep all the Goa'uld artifacts, including a ring platform, obviously,” Sam said as she held up the crystal for them to see.

“Let’s get out of here.  There’s probably more Jaffa right on our tails,” Daniel suggested.

~And I want to see Jack.  I need to see Jack.  I still don't understand why I have such a desperate need to see him.  Touch him.  Gawd, what am I thinking?~

====

Jack clenched and unclenched his fists wishing he could have gone with Sam and Teal'c to fetch the crystal that his 2IC believed contained vital information about Naquadria.  Even though Teal'c had managed to broker a deal with Ba'al, the Kelownan powers were still arguing about what course of action they wanted to take.  

“Haven't you guys ever heard the story of the dog and the dancing monkeys?” Jack asked.  “Has something to do with getting along and ...dancing ...”  ~Oh, what am I doing with these imbeciles?  Geez, Danny.  All I want is you, safe and sound in my arms.~

“Colonel.” Jack heard Sam's voice, turned around, and felt his heart stop.  **Danny!**  His Heart was alive.  He had been so worried.  The battle wasn't over, but Daniel was back, in his sights and range.  He suddenly realized he was staring at his lover, drinking in the sight of him.  “Hey! Where did you find them?”

“They, er, dropped into the warehouse.”

Sam grinned at the relief she had seen in her CO's face.  She had known that to Jack the most important thing they brought back from the warehouse wouldn't be the crystal.

“Nice.” Jack gazed at his lover a moment longer, then remembered his duty.  “The crystal?”

Holding up the crystal, the major answered, “Right here.”

“I’ll take that,” Hale demanded as he stepped forward to take it.

Sam looked at Jack, who shook his head, and then replied, “I think it would be better if we held on to it,” as she closed her fingers around it.

“I’m afraid I must insist,” Hale said as a troop of Jaffa entered, surrounding them.

“What is this?” Jack thought he had a pretty good idea. but wanted it confirmed.  ~I don't believe this.  Do these people have any sense at all?~  In what he hoped was a surreptitious manner, he edged in front of Daniel.  ~No way are you hurting, Danny.~

“I have made a separate arrangement.”  ~Nope, no sense at all.~

“Put down your weapons, Colonel, or I will be forced to destroy these people.”

The leader of the Jaffa pointed his staff weapon at Jack.  If it hadn't been for the presence of his own team, Jack would have told the Jaffa to go ahead, destroy Kelowna and could Jack have a front ringside seat to watch, please.

“The crystal?” Hale requested.

“You're an idiot, you know that?” Jack stated as he wondered just how stupid these people could prove themselves to be.

“In exchange for this, Anubis has agreed to leave Kelownan territory untouched.”

“Thus confirming my last statement.”

“He knows our naquadria supplies are depleted, but I believe he may find another mine on Teranian territory,” Hale told them.

The members of SG-1 looked on incredulously as the Kelownan powers began fighting amongst themselves, despite Jonas trying to stop them.  For the first time, Jack almost felt sorry for the guy.  He knew what it was like when political or even military leaders acted like squabbling kids.

~Actually, kids tend to have better manners.~

It was almost a relief when the Jaffa leader shot Hale, thus cutting off the dispute, except that he then turned to them.

“As for the rest of you, you will be publicly executed as an example to all those who would defy their god.”

“Does it have to be publicly?” the colonel queried.
 
Daniel had to suppress a grin at Jack's irreverent sense of humor.  It was odd.  He knew he should be scared, and yet he wasn't.  He couldn't work out why except that it seemed to have something to do with Jack.  He just knew that whatever happened, as long as he was with Jack, he'd be okay.

~I'm ... safe.~

“I could kill you now,” the Jaffa threatened as he poked Jack with his staff weapon.

Daniel had the urge to throw himself in front of the older man and asked himself, ~Why do I have such a strong drive to protect Jack?  I want to protect Sam and Teal'c, too, but it's different.  Jack is ... He has to be safe.  Why do I feel that if Jack died, I would, too?~

“Publicly is fine,” Jack agreed.  He wondered if Daniel would kill him when he got back to normal.  Both he and Daniel hated it when the other provoked Goa'uld and Jaffa.  ~It's in our nature, though.~

The Jaffa leader had just begun to usher them out when they felt a series of tremors rock the bunker.

“It is Ba'al,” Teal'c said as he and the rest of SG-1 attacked the Jaffa.

Jack was pleased to see that the Kelownans finally seemed to grasp the danger they were in and were at last joining the fight.  Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Daniel dive for the crystal.  He saw one of the Jaffa aim a staff weapon at his lover.

~Oh, no you don't.~  Without pause, Jack shot the Jaffa through the head.  In seconds, the battle was over.  ~One down.~

~He saved me.  My Jack saved my life.  Huh?  What did I just think?  Gawd, I am insane.  I need help.~

“Come on, kids.  Let's go home.”  Jack didn't just want to get off this planet, he wanted to get off of it now, go home, and curl up in bed with Daniel.  He sighed.  That wasn't going to happen in the foreseeable future, but he wasn't giving up. **I'll never give up on you, Danny.  I love you Angel.**
 
**Love you, too, Jack.  We're getting there.  I ... I think I understand now.**
 
**Danny, where are you?**

Daniel tried to respond and cursed when he couldn't get his answer through to his partner.  ~I'm still not sure where I am, Jack, but I am so close to merging with the rest of me.  Love you.  Need you so much.~

====

“Got everything packed?  Toothbrush?  Slippers?  Hair gel?”  Jack tried, but he just couldn't be sorry the Kelownan was leaving.  He managed to suppress the urge to say, ~And don't come back.~

SG-1 watched Jonas leave through the Gate.  Maybe he was a little hard on the kid.  After all, the other team leaders had given the alien high marks from his various excursions with them.  Still, Jack just couldn't get beyond that wicked dream he and Daniel had shared.

~And that blasted smile,~ Jack groaned as the gate room emptied.  Jack headed for the exit, until he realized his lover hadn't followed.  He turned and saw the young man gazing at the Stargate, his arms folded tightly across his chest.  “You all right?”

“Yeah.”

~Danny, I love you so much.  How am I going to survive this?  One step at a time.  Maybe you can fall in love with me again.~  “Well, dinner's at seven.  Don't be late.  Teal'c gets a little cranky when his blood sugar gets low.”

Daniel smiled and called out, “Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“It's not that I mind ... rejoining SG-1 and exploring the galaxy, meeting new cultures, jeopardy, saving the world, that kind of thing ... we get paid for this, right?”

Jack smiled and gave a tiny nod while thinking, ~You remember so much.  Why not us?~  “Welcome back.”  ~I have to get out of here.  I'm sorry.~

The silver-haired officer turned and walked out as calmly as he could, but his heart ached.  Daniel was back, and he was Daniel.  He just wasn't his lover.

The young man's memories were flooding back.  He remembered his friendship with Jack, but not their love.

Jack still felt like dying.  He wasn't sure he could go on, that he could turn back the clock.  Daniel was too much a part of him now.

Still facing the Stargate, a myriad of thoughts flooded through Daniel's mind.

~It's good to be back, but I'm ... I'm missing something.  I feel like ... like a part of me is ... gone.  Sha're?  Maybe it's ... no.  I don't understand this feeling.  Maybe Jack can help.  Gawd, I hurt him.  He was disappointed I didn't remember him at first.  I'm sorry, Jack.  I think I was ... scared ... scared of ... no, I was ... protecting you.~

The archaeologist was deep in concentration when he heard another voice.

“Daniel?”

“Hi, Sam,” Daniel greeted as he twisted around to acknowledge the woman's presence.

“I, uh, I just wanted to make sure you're okay before I go home.”

“I'm fine.”

Sam looked nervously around the room and then moved closer to her friend as she spoke, “Daniel, about the colonel ...”

“Jack?”

“Um, never mind.  I'll see you tonight at ... the colonel's house,” Sam said as she turned and walked out of the large room.

Daniel took another look at the large circle that was so much a part of his life, and then left the gate room, wondering as he walked, ~What were you going to say, Sam?  You seemed ... worried ... about Jack?  Why?~

====

Daniel walked to the SGC parking lot, to the car that was his -- a 1999 Shelby American.  He knew it was his car, and Jack had returned the keys to him earlier, along with keys to his loft.  As he stared at the car, he remembered the conversation that had taken place in the VIP room he had been sleeping in since his return.

//Flashback//
Jack knocked on the door to the VIP room.  He was nervous.  Daniel had regained a lot of his memory, and now Jack figured it was time to see how far that extended.

“Come in.  Oh, hi, Jack,” Daniel greeted as he sat on the edge of the bed.

Jack entered, closing the door behind him.  He was glad Daniel's VIP room didn't have a security camera in it.

“Daniel, I thought maybe you might be wondering about a couple of things.”  Jack's hands were in his pocket.  He looked down a lot, stared at the walls frequently.  ~I can't look at you.  It's so hard.~

“Jack, are you okay?”

**Geez, I love you.**  The older man saw the younger man blink, but that was the only response to his declaration of love.  **It's gone, too, isn't it?  You don't hear me?**  Jack sighed.  ~Gone.~

“Jack?” Daniel called as he stood, self-hugging.

“Your apartment and your car.”

“I thought ... I mean General Hammond said ...”

“Yeah, well, the general doesn't know ... here,” Jack pulled his hand out of his pocket and handed over Daniel's keys to both the loft and his car.  “I wasn't sure how much you remember, so just in case, here's the address and directions to both your apartment and my house.  Your car is upstairs, where you usually park it.  Do you remember?”

“Yes.  Jack, how did you ... I mean, my things ...”

“I ... you asked me to look after your things once, and so I did.  I just told the general I'd take care of everything.  I knew you were still out there, so I kept everything in place.  It's all there.”

“Thank you.”

Jack shrugged and responded, “You weren't gone that long, Daniel.”  ~It only feels like forever.~

Daniel fidgeted with the keys he held in his hand and replied, “But ... thanks anyway, and for bringing some of these things here, to make it feel more ...”

“It's okay.”

“No, I mean it ...”

“Yeah, I know.  The kid, Jonas, is leaving in a little while.  Are you going to be there?”

“Sure.  He thinks you hate him.”

~Hate?  Not exactly.~  “I'll see you there,” Jack said, turning and leaving Daniel alone in the room.  Closing the door, he felt like he would collapse.  His heart was so heavy that he wondered how it was managing to beat.  **I love you so friggin' much, Danny.  I don't think I can do this.**

Inside the room, Daniel stared at the door.  He felt cold and tried to warm himself by rubbing his hands on his upper arms.  He packed up his things and was going to take them to his car, but by the time he had them together, it was time to see Jonas Quinn off, so he headed for the gate room.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel traced the smooth body of the car, thinking, ~I don't remember buying this.  I remember ... I mean, I know it's mine, but I don't ... why would I buy a car like this?  It's great, but I wouldn't ...~ He shook off his thoughts and got in his car.  “Jack?”  ~Whoa, why did I say that?~

Something about being in the car reminded him of his friend.  It unnerved him for a moment, but then he started the car and drove home.

====

“Welcome home, me,” Daniel said as he walked in the door of the loft.  He looked around the apartment.  ~Strange.  I remember everything, but there's a lot ... missing, and it feels ... empty.  And where are my fish?  Maybe Jack has them.~

“This is weird,” the archaeologist spoke out loud.  “I know this is my apartment, but it feels wrong.  Gawd, maybe I don't belong here.  Why do I feel so out of place?”

Daniel walked to the balcony and stared.  A flicker of a memory darted through his consciousness.  It was Jack, laughing.  Another flicker -- Jack, crying.

~I have a headache.  I hope there's still aspirin here.~

Daniel felt tense.  He was home, but something inside him was at war, and he didn't understand that.  The longer he was inside the apartment walls, the more frustrated he felt.  He rejoiced when it was time to leave for Jack's house.

~Maybe being with the team will help calm me down.~

====

“Sir, is there anything I can do to help?” Sam asked, entering the kitchen.

“No.”

“Okay,” Sam sighed.  She had specifically made a point of arriving a bit early at Jack's place.  Her goal had been to talk about Daniel, but once she had arrived, she wasn't sure how to say what she wanted.  For that matter, she wasn't sure what it really was she wanted to say.  Finally, she just blurted out, “Give him some time, Colonel.”

“He doesn't remember,” Jack spoke dejectedly.

“Maybe he will,” Sam responded optimistically.

“Maybe.  I don't want to talk about this.”

Jack brushed by Sam, carrying a tray of snacks into the living room.  He was grateful when there was a knock at the door.

“Come on in, T.”

====

Daniel parked outside Jack's house.  He frowned.

~Why does that sound wrong?  Like it's not just Jack's house?~  Daniel shook his head.  ~And why does parking here, in the street, feel wrong, too?  This is weird.~

**Daniel, it's me ... Daniel.**

**Excuse me?**

**Trust yourself.  Trust your heart.  My heart.**

**Gawd, I'm going insane.**

**No, Daniel.  We are ... healing.  This is important.  Jack ... you know.**  Daniel's essence had been strong, but that communication with himself had drained him again.  He knew he could manage just another phrase, if he tried hard.  **Trust him.  Trust the ... love.**

**I am *so* losing my mind.  Trust the love?  Jack?**

**Open your heart.  Don't be afraid.**  ~I'm tired.  I have to rest.  Please, listen, Daniel.  Listen to me.  To us.~

Inside the house, Jack had heard Daniel's car.  He closed his eyes and prayed for the strength to get through this evening.

**Geez, Angel.  I need you back.  La Mio Bello Stella Cadente.**

Jack opened the door to hear Daniel muttering, “Falling star?  Weird.”

“Danny,” Jack greeted, smiling because his lover had heard the words.  ~Okay, Carter, I'll be a little optimistic now.~

“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed as he returned the smile.

Seeing the precious expression, the smile that so often melted his own heart, Jack's grip on the door handle tightened as he thought, ~I can do this.  I can't rush him.  He will come back to me.~

Daniel stepped into the house and felt at peace, causing him to wonder, ~Ah, why does this feel like home?~  He turned around to face Jack who looked as if he was in pain.  “Jack, are you okay?”

Jack nodded and quickly guided Daniel into the living room.

“Daniel,” Sam called out with a huge grin.

“DanielJackson.”

Daniel smiled at Teal'c's slight nod.  He was beginning to remember just how much Teal'c could communicate with that nod and one raised eyebrow.

“Hi,” Daniel greeted as he involuntarily gazed at the couch.  He had a feeling rather than a memory that he'd spent many good times on that couch.  ~Watching hockey with Jack?  No, that's not it.~

Daniel shrugged.  Presumably, it would come to him.

====

“Do you remember the time we all switched bodies?” Sam laughed.  “Seeing the colonel acting like Teal'c and Teal'c acting like the colonel was the funniest thing I've ever seen.”

“It was a most disturbing experience.”

“Disturbing.  It was a friggin' nightmare!” Jack exclaimed in horror as he remembered the effects of Ma'chello's invention.

The team was reliving old missions and down times.  Sam and Teal'c were happy to realize that Daniel didn't need much prompting anymore.  He was remembering things on his own.

“I still can't believe you were going to shave my head, Teal'c.”

“It had hair on it,” Teal'c said simply, as if it more than explained his reasoning regarding the incident.

“What?” Daniel stared at Jack's gray hair.  He wondered where the sudden urge to run his fingers through it came from, and why he was feeling irrationally angry at the thought of Teal'c shaving it off.  **It's mine.**

**Danny?**

Daniel suddenly found himself the sole focus of Jack's attention.  Nervously, he started talking about another mission.

“What about when he told the Asgard High Council how we saved their little gray butts?” Daniel reminded as both he and Sam laughed at the memory.

Teal'c, who hadn't been there, looked curiously at Jack and questioned, “Was that not inappropriate, O'Neill?”

“Oh, way beyond inappropriate,” Daniel sniggered.

“Laugh it up, Space Monkey.”

“Space Monkey?  That nickname doesn't even make sense, Jack.  I mean with Plant Boy, at least there was ... oh, gawd, why am I remembering all those ridiculous nicknames you've come up with?”

Sam laughed, and Jack gave the archaeologist a quick grin.

Daniel saw the pain behind it though and thought, ~I'm missing something, Jack.  What am I missing?~

Jack was trying to hide the agony he was in, and knew he wasn't succeeding.  Daniel might not remember their relationship, but he was still very adept at reading Jack.

**I'm sorry, Danny.  I'm trying.**

Daniel looked at Jack and responded, **Trying?**

**Trying to ... Danny?**

**Gawd, this is weird,** Daniel thought.  He couldn't handle this sudden silent communication.  It scared him.  He thought he was going insane, and he didn't want to think about that.  He was glad when Sam brought up another mission to laugh over.  ~I just don't want to think about the fact that I'm going insane.~

“What about the time the colonel had all the knowledge of the Ancients downloaded into his brain?”  Sam shook her head, stating, “I guess we should have been grateful it wasn't you, Daniel.  No one would have been able to communicate with you.”

“I don't know.  I don't think I did a very good job.  In the end, Jack got himself out of that one,” Daniel spoke.

Jack couldn't stop himself reaching out to cover Daniel's hand with his own for a moment as he corrected, “Daniel, you saved me.  If I hadn't been able to communicate with you, I would have gone insane.”

Sam looked down at the table, thinking, ~For more reasons than one, Daniel.  Please come back to us.  We need you, but the colonel can't live without you.  This is killing him.~  She brought up another mission.  “You know, I still can't believe the Asgard named that ship after you, Colonel.”

Reluctantly, Jack removed his hand from Daniel's as he teased, “And I can't believe you blew it up.  If I didn't know better, I'd say you were jealous, Carter.” Three disbelieving snorts greeted that comment.  “Fine.”  He stood up in a mock huff.  “Carter, Teal'c coffee?  We know old Doctor Jackson can't move in the morning without five cups of coffee.  He'll definitely have some.”

“I don't need five,” Daniel protested, seeing a round of skeptical looks.  “Okay, okay.  I'll help you make it, Jack.”  He followed Jack into the kitchen, catching sight of the mantelpiece as he went.  ~Why are the photos of my parents here?  And Sha're, her photo should be here.  Why do I think that?~  He shook his head and continued on to the kitchen.  He noticed a number of cookery books that he was sure were his.  Maybe Jack just had the same ones.  He took a closer look.  ~No, that one is definitely mine.  I'd know it anywhere.~

Daniel stared at the book that had once belonged to his mother, a book he had searched for a long time to recover.  As he tried to make sense of everything, he found himself automatically reaching for the cupboard where the coffee was kept.

~Should I know that?  Well, I suppose that's not strange.  We are best friends.~

====

“See you in a couple of days,” Jack said, waving at Sam and Teal'c as they left, the dinner party over.  He closed the door and returned to his living room.  **Oh, Angel.  I love you so much.  Heaven help me get through this.**

Daniel was standing still, his arms held tightly across his chest as he stared at the fish that sat in a deluxe tank against the wall of the living room.  It looked like it had been there a long time.

“Daniel?”

“My fish.”

“Yeah.  You ... I mean, I didn't know how long you'd be gone so ... you can take them back.  They're ... your fish.”  Jack almost choked on the word 'your.'  He had worked hard to convince his soulmate that the fish and the house they stood in now were 'ours' and not theirs, individually.  **Our fish.  They're *our* fish.**  As silence loomed, he asked, “Did you want a beer?”

“No.  Jack, there's a lot of my stuff here.”

Daniel had noticed it all night, and it was more than the photos on the mantle and his mother's book.  There were little things, a book of poems he had purchased in college, a relic from Egypt that had been very special to him, and a memento from a trip to Mexico.

Jack wasn't sure what to say.  He hadn't thought about all the little things, but now that he looked around, he knew Daniel was right.  It was natural, though.  The possessions were where they belonged; they were home.

Daniel turned and looked at Jack.  He suddenly felt afraid.  Not of Jack, but of something he didn't understand.

“They've been here a long time,” the younger man whispered.

“We've been friends a long time, Danny.”

“Friends.”

Suddenly, Daniel's heart was about to explode.  He looked anxiously around the room.  He felt so at home here, much more so than at the apartment.  He was missing something, something important.

“Are you sure you don't want a beer?”

“No, but you go ahead.”

“Thanks,” Jack replied gratefully.  **I need one, Danny.  Geez, you're beautiful.  Maybe I'll resign.  I just don't think I can go on without you ... like we were.  I need you, Angel.  I want to make love to you, to hold you and kiss you.  I swear, if I ever get my hands on that Oma, I'll strangle her five ways from any existence.  I love you, Danny.  Geez, I love you.**

Jack tried to pull himself together before he returned to the living room.  He was on edge, his emotions raw.  He wanted Daniel so desperately.  Opening the beer, he took a swig, and then returned to the room.

Daniel was standing at the center, just beside the sofa.  He seemed very nervous, swaying a little as he stood, self-hugging, his fingers pressed tightly against his upper arms.  He looked frightened to Jack.

“Danny?”

“I ... I remember a box.”

“There are a lot of boxes here.”

“No, a specific box.  Special.  It's a special box.”  Daniel looked around him and then at the stairs.  Suddenly, he moved forward, walking quickly up the stairs.

“Daniel?” Jack called out as he put down his beer and followed the younger man.

~Bedroom; it's there.~  Daniel walked into the master bedroom and looked around.  ~More things -- a pillow, a jacket thrown on a chair.  The box.  There's a box.~

“Danny?  What are you doing?”  Jack didn't know what was happening or how to react.  ~What's going on?  Is he coming back to me?~

Daniel stared at Jack and said, “Box.  There's a box,” as he continued to look around.

**What box, Angel?**  Jack startled when Daniel turned towards him, his breaths hitching and his eyes fluttering rapidly.  He could see the man's body shaking slightly.  “Danny?”

Daniel said nothing, turning around, looking for the object he seemed to need.

**I don't understand, Danny.  Are you remembering?  I love you.  Geez, I can't stop thinking that.  Danny, I'm about to go out of my mind.  I need you so much.**

~Wow.~  Daniel was facing away from Jack.  He closed his eyes.  **Need me?**

“Daniel?”

“Box?”

In an instant, Daniel hurried to the closet.  There on the floor, he found the object he had been seeking.  Carefully, he pulled it out.  He walked to the bed and sat down.

Jack was afraid to say anything.  If Daniel was remembering, he didn't want to stop the process.  He stood silently by as Daniel studied the box.  He recognized the loving way in which Daniel traced this box with his fingers.  It gave Jack hope because the box Daniel had pulled out was Jack's and Daniel's special keepsake box.  It was full of souvenirs and mementos from their love affair, things they couldn't keep on display.

“It, uh, has a lock,” Daniel observed.

“You have the key.”

There was a double meaning in Jack's words.  Daniel did literally have the key on his key ring, and he was also the key to Jack's heart, and Jack was desperately waiting for his lover to use that key to unlock the clouded memories so they could return to their union.

**Jack is right.  We are so close.  Open your heart, Daniel.  Don't be afraid.  Let me come.  Let us ... love.**

Daniel looked up, surprised just for a moment.  He reached into his pocket and studied the key chain Jack had given him earlier that day.  He recognized the keys to the loft and his car, and ones to Jack's house and ...

“This is for your truck ... and ... this ...” Daniel spoke, pausing as he touched a small key, knowing it opened the box.

Daniel closed his eyes, trying to reach inside his soul for answers to the many questions currently running through him.

Jack stood silently by, so afraid.  All he wanted to do was hold Daniel, to comfort him.

**Forever and always, Danny, I love you.**  Jack saw a tear run down Daniel's face.  **Let me wipe out the tears, Angel.**

**Yes!  Yes!**  Daniel's essence felt peace overtaking him.  He was being pulled again, only this time, he wanted it.  He wanted it desperately.  **Jack.  My Jack.  Forever and always.**

Just that quick, Daniel opened his eyes, finally whole.  His essence, his soul, happily reunited with his body and his heart.

“Goofy.  We went ... and saw Goofy.”  Daniel saw Jack's nod, the older man unable to speak at that second.  “And ... our ... our fish.”

“Yes, Danny,” Jack's voice was cracked, barely audible from the emotion of the moment.

“Jack?”

The older man slowly walked over to his love.  He gently took the box from his hands and placed it on the bed, and then he took Daniel's hands in his.

The feeling of the touch almost overwhelmed Daniel.  He felt himself trembling as Jack pulled him up.

**I love you, Danny?  Do you hear me?**

Daniel sniffled, **Gawd, yes.**  “Hold me, Jack,” he requested through the growing rain of his tears.

“Danny, I love you so much.”  Jack pulled his lover to him, holding him tightly.  “Missed you.  Geez, Danny.  I've been so afraid.  I love you, Angel.  I love you.”

Jack felt Daniel's hold on him tighten.  They stood, both crying, for a few minutes, until finally they pulled apart just slightly, just enough to look into each other's eyes.  He placed his left hand on his soulmate's cheek and caressed it with his thumb.

“I love you, Space Monkey.”

“I ... gawd, I love you, too.  I love you so freakin' much, Jack.  Silver Fox ... I remember.  You're my silver Fox.”  Daniel leaned in for another embrace, the lovers' embrace on each other was firm.  “I'm so sorry, Jack.  Oh gawd, this must have been so hard for you.”

“I missed you, but you're home.”

“Home.  Jack, when I went to the apartment, it felt empty, and I couldn't figure out why.  It was just a place, but the moment I walked in here, I felt safe and ... it just felt like ...”

“Home?”

Daniel nodded and agreed, “Like home.”

In a flash, it was as if each man had lit a match.  They were in love, and now, again, they were together.  They had a lot to talk about, but it would have to wait.  At the same time, they each shifted their bodies.  Jack cupped his lover's face, wet from the tears, and then he inched forward, until their lips touched.

**Love you, Jack.  Oh gawd, how I love you.** Daniel's mind repeated the words over and over again as they kissed.  **I want you, Jack.  Need you so much.**

**Danny, my Danny.**

The two collapsed onto the bed, and reminded themselves that their nation of two was as strong as ever, maybe even stronger.  They grounded themselves together in a passionate chorus of lovemaking that lasted for hours, barely coming up for air in between rounds.  There were no words, except for the shouts of their efforts, and the tender whispers and reassurances of their love after their orgasms.

====

It wasn't until 8 a.m. the next morning that they had finally achieved such a level of exhaustion that they halted the union of their bodies.  They were wet and sticky, and deliriously satiated, and once again, they were in their usual positions.

Daniel listened to the steady beat of Jack's heart, making the young man feel safe and secure.  His left hand played gently with the gray hairs on his lover's chest.  His left leg was hooked in between Jack's, and, on this day, Jack's right leg hooked up over his.  It was a physical sign that he wasn't letting Daniel go, ever.

Jack's arms held Daniel, gently rubbing the soft skin that he loved so much.  He placed small kisses on Daniel's damp hair, nuzzling his cheek against his head from time to time.  They were content to lay there forever, each wishing they could.

“Jack, she wouldn't let me come home to you.”

“I know.  Shifu told me.”

“Shifu?” Daniel echoed, looking up in surprise.

As he nodded, Jack suggested, “How about we take a shower, get something to eat, and come back here and snuggle, and then we can tell each other our stories?”

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too.  Come on.”

The lovers showered together and smiled as they quickly discovered they weren't as exhausted as they had thought.  They'd always loved the feeling of the waterfall of the showerhead on them as they made love, so they did.  Finally, they did wash.

Afterwards, the couple put on old, comfortable sweats -- Daniel's blue, Jack's gray -- and went to the kitchen.

--

In perfect harmony, the two men prepared their breakfast.  Their bodies craved food, so they enjoyed a variety of morning favorites, including Daniel's favorite waffles.  They chatted about small things through their meal -- SGC personnel, hockey, an exhibit in Denver that Daniel wanted to go to.  It was all very normal, and as they stood at the end of their meal, they shared a common smile, one that spoke of their happiness at being together to talk about inconsequential things.

Then, the soulmates put their dishes in the dishwasher, and, arms around each other's waists, returned to their bedroom where they climbed into bed and resumed their favorite position.

--

“Who goes first?” Jack asked.

“Hmmm.”  Daniel looked up into Jack's eyes.  He leaned forward, brushing their lips together.  “Tell me about Shifu.”

“I go first,” Jack said with a smile while Daniel placed his head back down on his lover's chest, prepared to listen.  “I guess it'll be easier just to run through it from the beginning.”  He paused for a moment, just feeling happy at the feeling of holding his archaeologist in his arms again.  Then he began his story.  “SG-2 said they saw you running, and then there was an explosion.  The assumption was you were dead.”

Daniel leaned his head up and kissed Jack's chin, replying, “Not dead, Love,” after which he returned to his previous position.

“I had to see for myself.”

“Oh ... so you ... disobeyed orders,” the younger man surmised.

“The Jaffa were still there when we sent the MALP through, but I had to know for myself, so, yes, we went through.”

“Sam and Teal'c?”

“We're a team, Danny,” Jack answered.  “You know that.”

Daniel smiled.  He had friends willing to put their lives and careers on the line just for him.  That selfless act finally confirmed for him, once and for all, that he truly mattered to someone else's life; he was no longer an outsider anymore.

“Go on.”

Jack continued to tell his story, saying at one point, “... and suddenly Shifu and Orlin were there.  The kid started to talk in that mumbo jumbo at first, but once he understood, he tried to help.”

“He did help, Jack.”

“Yes, he did.”

“No, I mean.  Jack, I'm not sure how, but I think ... I think he helped my consciousness to stay strong.  I don't know how to explain it.  I remember ... I mean it's cloudy, but it's like I can hear him reminding me to be the musician, to control my destiny -- not to give in to Oma.”

“I guess the kid's not so bad.  He did try.  He ... talked to me about the musician, too -- told me to listen to my heart, that you were here, in mine.”

“I am, just like you're in mine.”

Jack's and Daniel's hands were continuing to caress and soothe each other, laced together at moments as they shared their love and comforted each other.  Jack placed kisses on his lover's head frequently, as did Daniel on Jack's hands and neck.

“So he told me to listen to my heart and go to the origin of our love.  I'm still not sure about that,” the colonel stated.

“Me, either.”

“But I figured it had to be Abydos.  Danny,” Jack shifted his body, rolling Daniel over onto his back so that he now looked down on him, “Carter didn't know the address for Abydos, and I asked you for help.”

Daniel thought for a moment before responding, “I ... gawd, Jack, I think I remember that.  I ... I tried to guide your hand.”

As Daniel's eyes met Jack's again, the older man pointed out, “I had my eyes closed, Love.  I put everything I had into letting you help.”

“I guess it worked,” Daniel said, his hands running softly along Jack's neck, reaching down inside the sweatshirt from time to time.

“And you know the rest.”

“Jack, why did you put Sha're's picture in the VIP room?” Daniel asked curiously.

Jack took Daniel's left hand in his and opened it to kiss the palm.  Daniel smiled and then moved the palm to caress his lover's cheek.

“I couldn't tell you about us.  You had to come back on your own.  I thought maybe Sha're, remembering her, would help you remember us.”

“Because that's how we started ... on Abydos, with Sha're.”

Jack nodded, replying, “Maybe it's not when we fell in love as much as when we connected.”

“You're right, Jack.  It all began there, our bond was born there in the desert,”  Daniel opined as he cupped his partner's face, pulling him down for a tender kiss.

“You're turn, Danny.  What happened?” Jack queried as he put his head on Daniel's chest while the younger man wrapped his arms around Jack.

“I was looking at a piece of skull when I heard Scott call out.”

“Scott?  Oh, Scott Miller.”

“Right.  He was working behind me.  I looked up and saw the Jaffa.  I climbed out and started to run for cover; and then ... it was strange.  I heard an explosion.  For a split second, I could feel the heat of the blast, and then I was gone.  I'm not sure where I was, but suddenly, Oma was there.”  Daniel paused; then said, “Jack, she was different than how she was on Kheb.  It was like she was someone else.”

“Shifu said she wasn't well,” the older man informed.

“Maybe The Others have ... illness and disease, too, in a way we don't understand.”

“Maybe, but I'd just as soon not find out first hand,” Jack stated sharply.

“Anyway, she wanted me to ... to, uh ...”

“Be her mate?”  Jack looked up, a smile on his face as he explained, “Shifu told me that, and I told him ... Danny, he knew.”

“Knew what?”

“The kid knew about us.  I told him we were soulmates,” Jack answered, still amazed by the conversation he'd had with the still-small boy.

“But I ... I didn't tell him.”

“Yes, you did.  When he tapped into your mind to give you that dream, he felt it.  He said you couldn't hide it.”

Daniel smiled, saying, “My heart and my soul -- you.”  The two men shared another kiss; then a few more before Daniel continued, “So, I refused Oma, and she got angry.  She said she'd return me to a mortal state, but that I'd choose her.  I guess she thought that if I couldn't remember us and my life here, that eventually I'd agree and go with her.”

“So she'd do what?  Just show up one day, present you with this wonderful other plane of existence, and you'd go?”

“That's what she thought,” Daniel confirmed.  “But something happened, Jack.  She separated my consciousness, my ... soul from my body.  I think she thought that if my mortal self didn't agree, that eventually my soul would.”

“She thought you'd get tired of just ... being somewhere ... where?”

“I'm not sure,” Daniel responded.  “For a while, I was drifting.  It felt like waking up from a long sleep.  It was lonely, but then I heard you.  Jack, when she was transforming me, I concentrated on you.  I didn't know why it was important, but I focused as hard as I could on our love. I thought maybe if I thought about you, then maybe that would ... Gawd, Jack, I'm not sure what I thought, but I did it because it seemed the thing to do.”

“Okay, so, she tore you apart, stuck your body on Abydos and your ... soul somewhere else?”

“Right.  You know, I ... I have an idea.”

“When do you not?” Jack chuckled, moving his head to give his lover a kiss just underneath his chin before snuggling back against his chest.

“Somehow, I think I was ... with you, locked away, and I stayed there until ...”

~Odd.~  It was strange, but Jack actually thought he understood this.  He had felt it, too.  “... Until I showed up on Kheb?  Until I finally opened up my mind to accept the possibility that what I was feeling was real?”

“Yes.  You were far away, but I could hear you.  Maybe that's because at first, you thought I was dead, and then the more you looked at the possibilities, the stronger I got.  The temple was important, I think, because ... well ...”

“You still feel a connection to it, to Sha're?”

“I guess so, but I had no understanding of where I was or why for a long time.”

“Danny, how could Shifu know you were in my heart?  I mean, literally, sort of ... geez, this is confusing,” Jack sighed, thinking maybe he should stop thinking so much.

“I don't know.  Jack, we may not ever know all the answers to this.  What I do know is that when you talked about the origin of our love, my ... soul knew it had to be Abydos because that's where we bonded.  It doesn't matter if we fell in love there or not, but it's when our friendship, our bond was born.”

“And our love grew from our friendship.”

“Hmm.  Too long, Jack.  Gawd.”

Jack felt it, too, the need to kiss, so they did, twisting their bodies to connect their lips and tongues.  It gave them strength to go on with their conversation.

“Jack, I think that as my body remembered you, and allowed itself to feel, that it made my soul stronger.  Oma wasn't counting on my mortal body remembering.  She didn't realize how strong we are.”

“No one breaks us up.  No one.  So she thought the mortal body wouldn't have any recall about us or the Stargate, that your body would live on Abydos and ...”

“And then she'd show up, make me this grand offer, and I'd jump on it,” Daniel spoke, completing the crazy plan.

“Instead, I listened to my heart, to you, and I found you, all of you,” Jack said softly.  He felt so at peace now as they shared their stories.  ~Crap, I'm glad I listened.~

“And brought us home, and I think part of my soul remained in my body.”

“Because you focused on our love when she separated you.”

“Yeah.  Jack, he, I mean me, heard you ... a lot.  He was just scared.”

Jack looked up into Daniel's eyes and spoke, “I was scared, too, but I knew you'd come to me.”

“I never left.  I was always,” Daniel placed the palm of his right hand over Jack's heart, “right here.”

Jack smiled and then ravished his soulmate with all the love he possessed.  They might not understand all the finer points of what happened, but what was important, is that they were together, bodies and souls.

====

As evening fell, the lovers had gone downstairs for a late dinner.  As Jack was clearing the table, Daniel suddenly found himself drawn to the gun cabinet.  He hadn't thought about it before.  He walked to it, tentatively placing the palm of his right hand on it.  He leaned forward, his head against the face of the wood.

“Danny?”

Daniel turned, his hand still touching the cabinet, and asked, “Jack, did you ...?”

Jack's expression grew somber when he answered, “For that, we go up to the roof.”

Jack extended his left arm, his hand open.  Daniel smiled, holding out his right arm.  In a second, they were joined as they walked quietly outside and climbed the ladder to the top of the roof deck.  Jack immediately went for their favorite spot, sliding down onto the wooden deck, his back against the wall.  He smiled at Daniel, who took his place in front of Jack.

The older man's arms encircled Daniel, his hands snaking under the blue sweatshirt.  He kissed Daniel's nape as the younger man leaned back against the strong left shoulder of his lover.

“I came up here one night with the thirty-eight,” Jack began, referring to one of his guns.  “I planned on joining you.”

“Oh, gawd.”

Daniel shivered from the thought of Jack killing himself, even though that was their agreement, something both knew they'd do if the day ever really came, but knowing that, and hearing the reality of it, was emotionally difficult.

“I can't live without you, Angel.  We both know that.”

“It's like when you were in Iraq.”

Jack nodded, agreeing, “Pretty much.  I sat here a while.  I had taken out all those papers and things for Carter to deal with, and I was just saying goodbye.  Then I remembered Iraq and what you almost did.  I knew I had to follow your lead, to be sure -- one hundred percent sure.  Holding that gun, I realized I wasn't sure.”

“Why weren't you, Jack?  Everyone else was,” Daniel spoke as he nestled a little further into Jack's embrace.

“I've been in combat, Danny.  I've seen so many different types of explosions I've lost count.  There is always, *always* something left, some residue or sign.  It may not be identifiable, but it's something.”

“I love you, Jack.  Love you so much.”

Daniel turned to his lover, and they began a new round of lovemaking, each devouring the other, desperate to get as far inside the other as they could.  It was an intense joining, painful in some ways since they didn't have any lube with them on the roof deck, but it was what they both wanted.

Moans and sighs, grunts and muffled sounds of their ecstasy echoed around them until they reached their completions, orgasms taking both to a happy bliss and realization that Jack and Daniel were still forever.  Whispering their love, the two fell asleep, with nothing to warm them in the night air but each other.

The moonlight shone on their naked bodies as they lay together in the aftermath of their union, the two lovers possessively holding the other.  Even in sleep, their arms and legs hooked together, their heads snuggled closely to each other.

The world would go on, as would Jack and Daniel.

“J'ck?” Daniel mumbled as he moved just slightly for a moment.

“Hmm?” Jack responded, neither man truly awake.

“Thanks for inviting us to dinner.”

“Anytime, Angel.  Anytime.”

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