Memories

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  7 - shortly after Revisions
Spoilers:  Revisions
Size:  66kb
Written:  December 11-13,15-19,26, 2005, January 1, 2006
Summary:  A fairly routine mission becomes distracting for the leader of SG-1.  Not long afterwards, Jack unexpectedly takes off for some time alone.  Can Daniel decipher the puzzle and help mend his lover's heart?
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) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fics, “Brothers”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  QuinGem, Claudia, Tove, Patti, Heather, Tamara, Linda!

Memories
by Orrymain

SG-11, along with Daniel, walked down the ramp from a quick visit to P39-107.  The archaeologist had been requested to join them on the recon to check out some ruins they'd discovered.  If they had found anything worthwhile, the mission could have been extended for days.  It would be Daniel's call.

The archaeological team had spent the last seven hours exploring the site, and while there were the normal questions and discoveries to found about the society and its culture, Daniel ultimately determined it didn't have any unusual or unique characteristics worthy of the SGC unit spending any more of their time on at the moment.

After taking some final photographs and logging a few notes, Daniel ordered the team back to Earth, advising that if time permitted in the next few months, they could return to the planet; otherwise, further exploration and/or excavation of the site would have to wait.  There were just too many other duties and missions for SG-11 that took priority.

The archaeologist was eager to get home.  He'd only been back from SG-1's mission to P3X-289 long enough to participate in the post-mission briefing before the SG-11 assignment was tossed his way.  The problem was, Daniel had an odd feeling about his soulmate, who had been unusually quiet during the mission to the ruined world with a domed, and doomed, city.

Finally back on Earth, Daniel completed his obligations as quickly as possible and headed home to his heart.

--

“Jack?” Daniel called out, closing the door behind him.  He shook his head from his action.  ~Why am I calling out when the truck is gone?~

Sighing, Daniel walked to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.  He was tired and considering the possibility of taking a nap until Jack returned from wherever he was.  Opting to go the easy route, he quickly prepared a cup of instant coffee, immediately grimacing from the taste when it was done.

~Why do I even keep this so-called coffee around?~  Daniel gave a mock shiver and answered his own question, thinking, ~I don't, Jack does.  Sometimes, I really do worry about his tastes.~  “Ewww!”

Tossing the coffee remnants into the sink and rinsing out his mug, Daniel walked upstairs, yawning as he entered the master bedroom where he intended to simply plop down on the bed and sleep for a while.  His yawn stopped midway, however, when he caught sight of the note on Jack's pillow.  When his heart began to beat again, Daniel raced over to the pillow, picking up the note, and sitting down on the bed to read it.

D.,

I'm okay -- trust me.  I need some time away from here and figured that since you were O.W. for an undetermined period, this was a good time to get some fresh air.  Be back in a few days.

L.Y.S.M.

J.

“I love you, too, Jack, but as you'd say, 'no way'.”

With just a momentary longing at the bed that was calling out to him, Daniel threw a few things into a duffel bag, brewed a couple of thermoses full of his favorite Starbuck's Arabian Mocha blend, grabbed some snack foods to eat, and then locked up the house again.

“Great, I need gas,” the archaeologist lamented as he looked at the fuel gage on his 1999 Shelby-American.

A stop at the gas station later, Daniel was on the highway, heading for the place where he knew his lover was, the one place that had always meant renewal and fresh air to his soulmate -- the Minnesota cabin.  It was roughly a sixteen-hour drive, so for the already tired young man, it would take some effort to stay alert.

====

An hour into his trip, Daniel had eliminated several potential reasons for Jack's recent mental state.  He still didn't know whether to call it a depression or if it was just the older man being distracted by something.  Finally, Daniel focused on their last mission to P3X-289, believing that prior to their trip off-world, everything at home and even at the Mountain had been as normal as it ever was.

“Okay, so it was a routine mission,” Daniel said to his silver sports car, the one Jack had bought for him years earlier, as he recalled the decision to explore the planet.

//Flashback//
Hearing the klaxons blare, Daniel headed for the control room.  Seeing Sam seated at the console, he hunched over her shoulder and asked, “What's going on?”

Sam replied, “We're getting MALP telemetry from P3X-289.  Atmosphere is completely toxic: sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane, ammonia ...”

“Well, if there was a Gate there, then chances are good there was life there at some point,” Daniel observed.

The major agreed, saying, “Yeah, I think that's a safe assumption.  Look at this,” she instructed, punching up the image of a dome in the middle of a white fog.  “We got these images two hour ago, just after the MALP went through. The dome seems to be the only structure that's managed to withstand the corrosive effects of the atmosphere.”

Sam reported that the dome was 2.2 kilometers wide and five-hundred meters high.  They watched as the MALP extended its arm and pushed through a barrier, after which the arm disappeared from view.  Slowly, the MALP moved through the barrier, briefly revealing a garden-like terrain on the other side before its signal was lost suddenly.

“How is that possible?” Daniel asked when they reviewed the last transmitted image the MALP had sent, showing greenery and signs of habitability.

“I have no idea,” Sam answered.  “I'll talk to General Hammond.”

“I'll get Jack,” Daniel volunteered.  “Where's Teal'c?”

“Not sure, but I'll find him,” Sam advised as she stood.

====

“Jack ...” Daniel said as he entered his lover's office, immediately closing the door behind him.

“Daniel, I found it!” Jack exclaimed.

“Uh, found what?” the younger man inquired curiously as he walked a few steps towards the colonel's desk.

“My Simpsons video that I lent Ferretti,” Jack answered as he held up the tape.  “And this one has the 'Three Gays at the Condo' episode on it; have to watch that tonight.”

“Jack, you've watched that one ten times since it aired,” Daniel lamented, half-hoping his lover would have never found that particular videotape.

Jack smirked, “I like seeing Homer so clueless.”

“Right,” Daniel responded dryly, dismissing his lover's comments.  Moving forward another step and briefly bringing his right hand to his forehead, Daniel stated, “We've found something interesting.”

“Does this mean no Homer?” Jack sighed.

Daniel chuckled, “Probably.”

Just then Jack's phone rang.  The colonel flicked his eyes down at the ringing object for a second, then back up to his lover.  Sighing, he picked up the phone and listened once more to the call of duty.

“Yes, Sir,” Jack said, ending the call.  “Briefing.  Ten minutes,” he told Daniel.

“Meet you there,” Daniel replied, turning around.

“Daniel,” Jack called out.

“What?”

“We're watching this as soon as we get out of here,” Jack announced with certainty as he held the tape up and waved it about slightly.

“Right,” Daniel responded staidly.  ~Why couldn't he like 'Modern Marvels'?~ the archaeologist thought about one of his favorite shows from The History Channel.
//End of Flashback//

“Okay, so everything was fine.  Jack was rambling on about 'The Simpsons' right up to when we walked through the Stargate,” Daniel told the Silver Fox, the nickname he'd given his sports car since it reminded him of his slender and sexy human Silver Fox.

Daniel took a drink of his coffee and fought off a yawn as he continued to search his mind as to when things had changed for Jack.  He recalled their first moments on the planet, the team outfitted in their red hazmat suits complete with breathing apparatus to protect them from the planet's deadly toxins.  They had reported in to Hammond that from the suits' readings, they could safely survive twelve hours on the planet.  Since the dome was within an hour's walk, they had plenty of time to investigate.

“He was fine,” Daniel stated out loud.  “He even made that dumb joke.  Gawd, even in the most serious situations, Jack can take thirty seconds for a joke.”

//Flashback//
“This is sure exciting,” Jack mocked as SG-1 walked through the dense and murky haze that surrounded them, the metal remnants of civilization barely visible.

“Odds are things will turn exciting soon, Colonel,” Sam responded lightheartedly.

“People can come up with statistics for anything, Carter.  Fourteen percent of people know that,” Jack quipped.

Sam stared in the direction of her CO and then over at Daniel who was closer to her.

“Simpsons?” the blonde quietly asked her friend.

Daniel nodded as he rolled his eyes, thinking about how Jack could probably quote the entire cartoon series if he ever wanted to.

“It's right up ahead, Colonel,” Sam said as she checked her sensor readings.

--

“Picking up a static charge,” Sam reported.

“Yeah, I can feel it,” Daniel noted.

As he stood at the edge of the dome, Jack asked, “So, what do we do, just walk through?”

Sam observed, “The MALP encountered no resistance.”

“Then it disappeared,” Jack stated.

“It did transmit for a few seconds before we lost the signal, which suggests it got through,” Sam pointed out.

~Here goes nothing,~ Jack thought, extending his P-90 through the barrier for a few seconds.  ~Okay, let's see what's there.  Hopefully, something is there.~

With a glance back at his teammates, Jack walked through the barrier, seeing the same picturesque green landscape that the MALP had transmitted prior to losing its signal.  A few seconds later, the rest of SG-1 joined him on the other side of the barrier.

**Welcome to wherever we are,** Jack communicated to his lover.

Using her instruments, Sam realized the area had a normal atmosphere, and in addition, their suits were not toxic.  She and Daniel then examined the barrier, touching it and seeing it blur as they did so.

“You can feel the resistance,” Daniel noted as he shoved his hand into the barrier.

Sam concurred, and then one by one, the team removed their protective hoods.

Teal'c examined the MALP and reported, “The MALP appears to be fully operational.”

Sam concluded, “The barrier must block the signal.  Sir, this is an amazing piece of technology -- permeable to large solid objects, but won't allow the poisonous atmosphere in.  We really need to study this further.”

**I wonder if they have VCRs here,** Jack joked.

**Jack, get your mind off 'The Simpsons'.**

Inwardly, Jack chuckled.  He loved teasing his lover for a few seconds before returning to the mission priorities.

Hearing a twig snap from a nearby pine tree, Jack raised his hand, indicating for his team to stop while he moved forward to investigate the sound.

“All right, come on out.  Let's go,” Jack ordered.

When a young boy emerged, Jack put his gun down, after which Sam said 'hello', and Daniel assured the boy that they wouldn't hurt him.
//End of Flashback//

“Now wait a second,” Daniel said, sighing for a moment as he drove in his car.  “Jack liked that kid.  They had, uh ... well, they hit it off right away.  Maybe he reminded him of Charlie.”  Daniel scratched his nose from an itch for a moment, and then thought, ~No, he wasn't like Charlie.~

Daniel frowned as he reached over for his thermos to get another drink of coffee.  After a minute, he shook his head, affirming his previous decision.

“No, Nevin wasn't anything like Charlie.  Besides, Jack likes kids.  He hangs out at the shelter all the time.  This has nothing to do with his son.”  The archaeologist smiled for a moment as he thought, ~But it was cute how they first interacted.~

//Flashback//
After Jack asked the boy his name, the child responded, “What's yours?”

~I like this kid,~ Jack thought, replying, “I asked you first.”

“I'm called Nevin,” the youngster answered.

“Hello, Nevin.  I'm Jack. That's Sam, Daniel and Teal'c,” Jack said, motioning to his teammates.

“You wear strange clothes,” the boy commented about the bright hazmat outfits.

“Caught us on a bad day,” Jack quipped.

Sam interjected, “Nevin, where are your parents?”

“My father's in the town,” Nevin answered.

“Can you show us?” Sam requested.

Seeing the boy's slight hesitation, Daniel explained, “We just want to talk to him.”

“Maybe we could trade,” Nevin suggested cunningly.

Jack silently smirked, ~Oh, yeah, I like this kid all right.~  “What did you have in mind?”

“Those look neat,” Nevin said, pointing to the red suits.

Jack smiled, “Want one?”  When Nevin smiled, Jack said, “I'll let you wear it, if you take us to town.”

The boy pondered it only briefly before saying, “Deal.”

Nodding, Jack began to remove his hazmat suit, as did the others.  Sam began to hand the boy her suit, but he shook her off.

“I want his!” Nevin insisted, pointing to Jack who was still getting out of his cumbersome protective suit.

Jack cocked his head and shrugged lightly at Sam in response as he silently thought, ~Kids adore me.  What can I say?~

“He's loving this,” Sam quietly intoned to Daniel as he wrapped up his suit.

“Jack's always at his best when he's with an equal,” Daniel quipped in response, earning him a loud chuckle from the astrophysicist.

“What's so funny?” Jack asked as he adjusted his jacket slightly.

“Nothing, Jack,” Daniel smirked not-so-innocently.

**Daniel?**

**Lead on, Colonel,** Daniel teased while exhibiting a totally innocent look on his face.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel chuckled as he thought, ~You loved it, Babe.  That kid was already hooked on your charms, and you were eating it up.~

Suddenly, the man's stomach growled, causing him to look downward for a moment.

“Since when did eating become a priority?”  Daniel smiled.  “Oh, yeah.  That would be since Jack began mother-henning me.  Okay, Jack, I'm eating.”

With a smile on his face, Daniel reached over for a power bar as he continued his journey to Minnesota.

====

After a restroom and stretch break, Daniel was again headed to the cabin that had been passed down to Jack from his grandparents.  It was a special place to the older man, one that meant family and peace.  There was no doubt in the younger man's mind that he'd find Jack there.

“And then, Jack, you're going to tell me what's wrong.”

Daniel sighed, saying, "No, it's not like something's wrong.  It's just ... something's ... something's ... gawd, I don't know.”  After a moment, he thought, ~Something had to happen on the planet.  Okay, focus.  What happened next?~

//Flashback//
Led by Nevin in the red hazmat attire, SG-1, now all in their green BDUs, entered the small town.  Jack and Sam were in the lead, with Daniel and Teal'c behind them, carefully observing their surroundings.

As they entered, Sam looked at her CO and commented, “You know, Sir, we probably could have found the town without his help.”

Jack said nothing, but thought, ~That's your problem, Carter; you have no sense of adventure.~

**Jack, leave her alone,** Daniel commented.

**Hey, I wasn't saying anything,** Jack defended, silently adding, ~Mind-dropper.~

**Yeah, but you were thinking it.**

Jack chose to end the communication, focusing on the town instead.  Going through a narrow alley, they entered the town square, getting their first look at the dome's residents.

**It's, uh, quaint,** Daniel communicated.

**Yeah, brick everything,** Jack replied about the building construction.

The boy led them to a man and introduced the team to him.

“I'm Kendrick, Nevin's father,” the man said.

Jack stated, “I assume you don't get many visitors in these parts.”

Kendrick responded, “We thought we were the only survivors.”

Curious, Daniel asked, “Survivors of what, exactly?”

Instead of answering directly, Kendrick took the Tau'ri to meet with the council, currently comprised of three men and one woman.  As the residents looked on, spying through the room's windows, Sam explained that their protective suits had kept them safe from the atmospheric toxins outside the dome.  She added that SG-1 had come from Earth, noting, “It's about six-thousand light years from here.”

“You came in a spaceship?” a councilman inquired.

“Uh, no,” Daniel answered, clarifying, “We came through the Stargate.  It's that ... that big circular object ... uh, symbols carved on it.  It's right outside the dome.”  When the council simply stared at him blankly, he added, “There must be some sort of historical reference to ...”

“One moment, please,” another of the council requested, using his fingers to touch a metal device which was worn at his temple.

The device was worn by everyone in the town, but SG-1 didn't yet know its purpose.  After several seconds, the council seemed to come back to life from their still state.

The councilman explained, “The Gate of Magh Mar, discovered five-hundred and sixty-three years ago.”

The council explained that the Stargate was part of the ritual worship for the goddess Morrigan, later taken from the ruins of Danaan and put on display in a museum.

Seeing the confusion on their visitors' faces, one member of the council explained, “We've accessed the relevant information through the link.  It's a direct,” he removed the metal device from his temple, “neuro interface with a databank.”

The female council member informatively relayed, “The link contains the sum total of our knowledge and wisdom.  All our history, our culture, our science ... everything.”

Sam asked curiously, “And you can simply call up this information whenever you need it?”

“Precisely,” the female confirmed.

After a scheduled check-in, SG-1 accepted the hospitality of the townspeople.  Jack and Teal'c were staying with Kendrick and Nevin, while Sam and Daniel were with Pallan and Evalla.
//End of Flashback//

~Maybe that's it.  I mean, uh, Jack hates it when we're separated, and he wasn't happy about Sam and me staying together.~

Daniel smiled; there had been a twinge of jealousy in Jack's tone when the invitations were accepted.  He backtracked mentally, returning to the conversation that had occurred just after their session with the council.

//Flashback//
Outside the council chambers, Kendrick introduced their visitors to other townspeople.

“You are welcome to stay the night with us,” Kendrick told SG-1.

Jack smiled as he looked around at his teammates, nodding, “That would be nice.”

“Thank you,” Daniel added.

“Yes, Doctor Jackson, Major Carter, please stay with Evalla and me,” Pallan requested.

“And you, Colonel O'Neill, and Teal'c can stay with my son and me,” Kendrick invited, smiling down at his son.

“Will you tell me more about Earth, Colonel O'Neill?” Nevin asked eagerly.

“Aaaah, yes, sure, of course, I will,” Jack said, glancing over at Daniel.  “But about the ...”

**Jack, don't make a scene.  How are you going to explain it?** Daniel asked, sensing his soulmate's discontent.

**You just make sure she keeps her hands to herself,** Jack warned.

**Wha...what?  Jack, this is Sam we're talking about,** Daniel responded back, glaring at the older man.

**Just make sure, that's all.**

Jack barely stifled his growl as he reluctantly went along with the sleeping arrangements, though he didn't have time to worry about it too much since Nevin had already begun asking him questions about Earth and life there.

As Pallan and Evalla led Sam and Daniel to their home, Jack was quickly becoming caught up in the boy's inquisitiveness.
//End of Flashback//

As he made the turn to another freeway, Daniel remembered the night they'd spent with their hosts.  He and Sam had had a pleasant time learning about the town, and both Pallan and Evalla had been gracious, making a delicious meal for them and talking about the link and their culture.

The next morning, when they were alone for a few minutes, Jack had told him about his night with Kendrick and Nevin.

//Flashback//
“We played the guessing game,” Jack told Daniel.

“Guessing game?” Daniel queried.

“Yeah, how many planets I'd been to.  You know, was it more than ten, twenty, thirty ...”  Jack chuckled, “He kept going all the way to fifty.  We were still playing when Kendrick came back in from the kitchen.”

“Oh, well, uh, why didn't you just tell him?” Daniel wondered.

“What fun would that have been?” Jack smirked.

“You like Nevin,” Daniel deduced.

“He's a good kid; reminds me a little bit of myself when I was that age,” Jack commented.  “When I woke up, he was playing me.”

“What?” Daniel asked cluelessly.

“He was pretending to be me, and he told his dad he wanted to be an explorer when he grew up,” Jack explained, looking around to see if anyone was staring at them, which, of course, they were.  ~These people are odd.~

“Oh,” Daniel said, smiling.

Jack asked, “How'd it go with you?”

“Good.  Pallan and Evalla are nice people, and I'm curious about the link.  I mean, the idea of just attaching a piece of metal to your temple and being able to access an entire history of a world within seconds, just by thinking about it ... well, that's pretty amazing,” Daniel noted.

“Daniel, tell me you didn't try that thing,” Jack demanded, his eyes blaring with potential anger.

“I didn't; thought about it, but I didn't.”  Daniel sighed, “As curious as I am, it's too risky without researching it further.  Sam pointed that out.”

“Remind me to give her a kiss,” Jack stated offhandedly, staring back at one of the locals who was staring at him.

“Excuse me?” Daniel responded as his own jealousy surfaced and he placed his hands on his hips as he assumed a more aggressive posture.

Jack smiled, “You're jealous.”

“Jack, this isn't the time or the place,” Daniel chastised, relaxing his body and crossing his arms across his chest, having been totally disarmed by the truthful statement.  ~Gawd, I *hate* being jealous.~

“And neither was last night.  You and Carter have a good time?” Jack asked sarcastically.

“Yes, we did,” Daniel answered with a smile.  “Of course, when she took the covers, I ...”  Daniel rolled his eyes at Jack's instant look of consternation.  “Jack, I'm kidding.  I slept on the sofa, and Sam used their spare room.  Get a grip.”

“Yeah, whatever you say,” Jack responded, still not liking having spent the night apart from his life partner.  “So what did you and Carter learn?”

“Apparently, the town draws its energy from geothermal vents beneath the town. That's where Sam is right now.  Pallan is showing them to her,” Daniel stated informatively.

“What exactly does this Pallan do?” Jack asked, his Mr. Jealousy chomping at the bit, ready to come out, if necessary.

Daniel chuckled, sensing Jack's emotions.  He thought it was silly since Jack had met the man and his wife the night before.  Instead of pressing the issue, though, Daniel decided to simply answer the question calmly.

“He's one of the technicians who maintains the system,” Daniel clarified.  As they walked back towards town to join up with Teal'c, he commented, “You know, Jack, this place is really environmentally intriguing.”

“How's that?” Jack asked.

“Technology was their downfall.  All their buildings and ... gizmos,” Daniel said, smiling at Jack, “caused the air and water to become polluted.  Of course, that led to disease and hunger until out of a matter of survival, the people chose to ... downgrade.  That's why their homes and way of life is so simple in comparison to the technology that controls the link and the dome.” He paused and then thoughtfully added, “I think we could learn something from them.”

“Daniel, I think you could write the truth in the sky, and the big boys on Earth wouldn't believe it,” Jack speculated skeptically.

“That's a pretty dismal view,” Daniel countered.

“Look at what we already know, and look at what we've done about it,” Jack stated pointedly.

Daniel nodded, knowing that in spite of some limited progress, the leaders of Earth were either ignoring the truth or procrastinating on making the changes needed to stop the life-sucking trend earthlings were on.
//End of Flashback//

“Okay, that was pretty depressing.  Maybe Jack is just lamenting our fate?” Daniel supposed to the evening sky as he drove.  “No, Jack isn't happy about it, and neither am I, but he's not going to run to the cabin because of it.  I'm missing something.  Wish I knew what,” he bemoaned, deciding to stop and stretch for a few minutes.

As he walked along the roadside, he pondered the town some more and recalled the things Sam had learned.  The creators of the dome had fashioned beautiful holographic images of what had once existed on their planet.  These images were at the end of alleys and on the edge of their town, created so the people would not constantly be reminded of what had happened before.  They had also set up a complex control center that monitored the levels of toxicity outside the dome and the dome's integrity as well as maintaining the town's power usage.

Everything had seemed normal until at one point, the townspeople went into a trance-like state.  At that moment, Daniel had been in the little-used library with Evalla, trying to learn more about what led to the disintegration of the planet's environment.  Evalla had become totally still, and when she came out of it, she didn't realize that anything unusual had occurred.

“Okay, so far, everything was normal, at least as normal as things are normal ... for us,” Daniel mused to night air.  He got back into the car, enjoyed half a Snickers bar, and continued on his way.  ~What was next?~

//Flashback//
“I noticed it, too, Daniel,” Sam stated as she and Daniel met up en route to a scheduled team rendezvous.  “Pallan just zoned out for several seconds, and when he came to, he acted like nothing had happened.”

“Evalla kept right on going,” the archaeologist noted.  “If it happened to them, it must have happened to everyone.”

“Probably,” Sam agreed.  “But what worries me is that he ignored the changes in the readings.  When Pallan zoned out, there was this streaming coding going on.  It changed the readings, but he acted like I was crazy.  Daniel, I know what I saw.”

“We'd better catch up with Jack and Teal'c,” Daniel urged as they left their meeting spot to catch up with their teammates.

“So, what do we know?” Jack inquired as Sam and Daniel approached.

Sam responded, “Well, their technology's incredible, at least what's left of it. Right now, Pallan and I are trying to rig up a computer interface so I can download some of the specs.”

Seeing the residents walking nearby, almost all of them staring at the outsiders, Jack moved away from the plant-laden area, Sam at his side and Daniel and Teal'c behind.  The leader of SG-1 was tired of being watched as if he were some kind of animal on display.

“Do they wish anything in return?” Teal'c inquired as the four continued walking.

“Apparently not,” Sam answered.  “They seem quite happy with their situation as it is.”

“Now, see, that makes *no* sense to me,” Jack admitted.  “These people live in a *bubble*.”

Daniel noted, “Well, they have managed to survive for over four-hundred years.”

Teal'c responded, “Sometimes there is much life in mere survival.”

Sam suggested, “We could offer them relocation.”

“Yeah, I suppose,” Jack agreed, feeling unnerved by the looks SG-1 was continuing to get.  “Let's go back to the council and see what they say.”  Looking around, he added, “What is with these people?”

“It is a bit unnerving, Sir,” Sam admitted.

“I feel like my pants are unzipped ... or something,” Daniel stated, not really thinking about his comment.  Seeing the looks on his friends' faces, he nervously looked down, breathing a sigh of relief when he verified he was properly attired.  Then he saw a very brief glimpse of 'Gotcha!' on his lover's face.  **Jack!**

**I didn't say a thing, Danny.**

**Right.**

“Perhaps the people of this world are disturbed by our presence,” Teal'c wondered.

“I don't think so, Teal'c,” Sam replied.  “They've all been kind and very open.”

“Then why do I feel like I'm on display?” Jack challenged.  Seeing Sam's shrug, Jack motioned and said, “Let's go.”

====

Things had taken an odd turn during SG-1's meeting with the town council.  Only the three men had been present, and while they listened calmly to the offer to relocate to another world, they immediately rejected it, arguing that they had everything they needed on their own planet.  Both Sam and Daniel argued vehemently to try and get the council to reconsider, but they made little headway.

Exasperated, Jack finally asked, “What about the other folks in the town?  Some of them have to think differently.”

One of the councilmen answered, “The Council speaks for the town, and the council's decision is unanimous.”

Trying another tactic, Daniel asked, “Well, what about the other council member, the woman that was here?”

The man replied, “Uh, there hasn't been a woman on the council since the last election, and that was two years ago.”

“What are you talkin' about?” Jack asked incredulously as he stood in front of the seated councilmen.  “There was a woman, sitting there, yesterday.”

The entire room was stunned, the council at SG-1's comment about a woman member, and SG-1 at the council's claim that a woman hadn't been on the council for quite some time.

“That's insane.  I'm telling you that yesterday, we stood here and talked to all of you and a woman,” Jack stated.

“I'm afraid you're incorrect, Colonel,” the councilman replied.

“No, there was definitely a woman here,” Daniel added.  “She, uh, she was the one who told us about the link.”

“Doctor Jackson,” one of the council replied, appearing totally taken aback and perplexed, “we genuinely have no idea who you could be talking about.  Perhaps you're confusing us with another place you've visited.”

“It was *yesterday,* for crying out loud!” Jack barked.

“Colonel,” Sam lightly called out, believing it was best not to get into any kind of altercation with the council.

“Let's get out of here,” Jack ordered, leading his team outside.  “Ideas?” he asked as he turned around to face them.

“We should question others in the town, O'Neill,” Teal'c suggested.

“Someone must remember the councilwoman,” Sam opined.

Jack nodded, instructing, “Meet back here in thirty.  Watch your backs.  This place is starting to feel very creepy.”
//End of Flashback//

~It was creepy,~ Daniel thought, momentarily glancing at the dashboard as he debated whether to refill the gas tank in the approaching town or the one after that.  ~Better do it now.  Jack hates it when I run out of gas.  Then again, how would he know?~

--

After refilling the gas tank and visiting the restroom, Daniel was once again headed toward the serenity of the Minnesota cabin.  His mind returned its focus to the last mission, searching to find out when things seemed to shift for his lover.

~We met back in the square after talking to various townspeople.  No one remembered the councilwoman.  I think Jack wanted to leave then.  Think?  Come on, Jackson, he didn't trust them anymore, so of course, he wanted to leave.  Stop.  Jack doesn't trust most people, but he was still ... Jack then.  Okay, okay.  We stayed because Sam wanted to finish her research on the dome technology.~

Daniel smiled, knowing that he had decided to help his friend out by saying he would like to do some research in the library and see if he could find something to help explain what they had witnessed.  Jack had gone along then.

“Who knew that I'd really find something helpful?” Daniel mused, shaking his head.

//Flashback//
In the library full of old, dusty volumes, Daniel continued his research.

“How's it coming?” Evalla inquired after he'd been at it for quite a while.

“Well ... I still can't find any historical reference to the time period when the dome was first created,” the archaeologist answered.

Evalla responded, “By that time our people had begun using the link.  It's possible not much written material survives from that era.”

Daniel asked Evalla about the possibility of leaving, but as the council had told SG-1, she expressed no desire to leave her world, saying, “We have everything we need right here.”  She later added, “We hope that some day, the poison in the outside atmosphere will dissipate, and we'll be able to reclaim the planet.”

“But not in your lifetime,” Daniel noted.

“No,” Evalla agreed a bit sadly.

Their conversation turned to children and population control.  Each family was allowed two children, and no one argued about that due to the limited resources located within the dome city.  Currently, there were one-thousand, three-hundred seventy-three citizens.
//End of Flashback//

“It's a good thing no one wanted to break the rules,” Daniel said in between bites of his Twinkie.  “Okay, so while I was doing that, Sam was with Pallan doing her,” he laughed, “doohickey stuff.”  He sighed, “She realized there was a change in the readings, but Pallan denied it.  That link sure was able to ... brainwash everyone.”

Daniel smiled, remembering his next conversation with Jack later that day.

//Flashback//
“Transmission go through okay?” Daniel asked as he watched the townspeople continue to stare at them with great curiosity.

“No.”

“No?” Daniel echoed, puzzled by the response.

“The MALP disappeared.  Teal'c's still out there looking for it,” the colonel advised.

“Oh, well, that can't be good,” Daniel surmised.

“Neither can Carter's report that the dome is losing power,” Jack stated as he continued to observe everything happening around them.  “Bottom line is that in the past twenty-four hours, there's been a four-percent drop.  If it keeps up, she says the dome will fail soon.”

“So what do we do?” Daniel inquired.  When Jack shrugged, Daniel added, “I wish we could talk them into leaving.”

Hearing the statement, Jack smiled, letting out a tiny snort as he informed his lover that, “Kendrick and Nevin want to come back to Earth with us.”

“They do?” Daniel asked with surprise.

Jack nodded, explaining, “Kendrick came up to Teal'c and me when we were heading out to contact the SGC.  He's being a good father.  He told me his son deserved a chance for more than this place could offer.”  Jack smiled, saying, “He said he wanted his son to grow up in a world where the sky and the clouds aren't part of an illusion created by a computer.”

“Hard to believe the hologram is that real,” Daniel commented.

“I saw the love in his eyes, Danny, the love of a father for his son.  I think if he was alone, he'd stay here, but he sees Nevin, hears the longing in his voice ...” Jack trailed off, looking away as he took a deep breath.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel hit the brakes as he moved the car to the side of the road.  He got out and paced back and forth for a couple of minutes.

“That's it.  I think that's it.  There was something about Kendrick and Nevin that must have reminded Jack of himself with Charlie.  Okay, okay,” Daniel mumbled, rubbing his hands together, bringing them to his mouth, and then blowing on them for warmth.  “It's not Nevin; it's Kendrick.  Kendrick reminds Jack of himself.  That has to be it.”

Daniel cocked his head slightly, not totally convinced, but yet believing that at this point that was the only answer.  He returned to his sleek car and drove back onto the road.

The introspective man continued replaying the events on P3X-289.

//Flashback//
“Jack, I'd better get back and see if those books can help us somehow,” Daniel stated.

“Yeah, and I'll go help Teal'c look for the MALP,” Jack stated.

“I'm sure no one stole it, Jack.  I mean what would they do with it?” Daniel inquired speculatively.

“No clue, but who would move it and why?” Jack challenged.

“I have no idea,” Daniel answered, shrugging as he began to walk away.

“Daniel, be careful,” Jack warned, his eyes talking more to his lover than his teammate.

“You, too,” Daniel responded with a shy smile.

The archaeologist returned to the library, again hoping to unearth some clue that could be of help.  Evalla was with him, trying to assist as well; that is, until she inexplicably left the room without saying a word.

Confused, Daniel followed, calling after her.  The woman didn't respond as she continued purposefully towards her unknown destination.  Concerned and curious, Daniel quickened his pace, though he wasn't running, repeatedly calling out the female's name.

Eventually, Evalla turned to her right.  When he did the same thing just moments later, Daniel discovered a dead end and no sign of the woman.  Not only that, but when he reached the brick wall that was the dead end, he touched it, instantly realizing it was one of the computer's holograms when it blurred.

~Okay, this is odd,~ Daniel thought as he tried to process what had just happened.  Daniel clicked his radio, “Jack, something strange just happened. I, uh, I think the dome just ... shifted.”

“Copy that.  Carter says the dome is failing.  Ah, let's meet at Pallan's; decide what to do,” Jack stated, his voice soft.

“Jack, are you okay?” Daniel inquired.

“Peachy.  O'Neill out,” Jack said, clicking off his radio.

~'O'Neill out'?  Okay, Babe, you're not okay.~
//End of Flashback//

“Now why didn't I remember that?” Daniel said, posing the question to the Silver Fox.  “I know.  I got distracted by the planet and what happened.  He was so quiet after that.  Dang it, Jackson, you missed it.~

Daniel recalled SG-1's meeting and how Jack stood near a window, somberly looking out most of the time as they discussed the situation.

//Flashback//
“And I called out to her, and she just ignored me.  It was like she was in some sort of trance or something,” Daniel told his teammates about Evalla's disappearance as he walked over to a table and sat down.

Already seated, Teal'c supposed, “Perhaps she was under the influence of the link.”

Sam responded, “There's no telling what level of manipulation is possible.”

“So ... brainwashing?” Jack asked as he stood against the wall, looking out the large window.

“Yeah, that's one way of putting it,” Sam agreed as she sat on the sofa.

Daniel observed, “We have to help these people.  I mean, they're ... they're being held against their will; they don't even know it.”

“Well, as long as they've got those ... things,” Jack responded, using his finger to point to his temple, “on their faces, they're not gonna be convinced of anything.”

“Is it possible to disable the link?” the Jaffa asked.

Sam answered, “It's part of the same computer system that controls the dome.  If we tamper with it, we risk bringing the whole force field down.  On the other hand, if I could use the computer to access the link, maybe I could reprogram the information that's being sent out.”

Daniel deduced, “And do a little brainwashing of our own.”

Sam opined, “The only problem is, I don't think I could do it without Pallan's help.”

The archaeologist intoned, “If I can find historical evidence in the library that directly contradicts information available on the link, that might prove to at least some of these people that they're being lied to.”

“Like records of the council meetings,” Sam concurred.  “They would show that there used to be more than three members.”

“Exactly,” Daniel stated, looking at Jack for the go ahead.  **Jack?**

**What?**

**I think we're done here; we have work to do.  Are you okay?**

**Daniel, stop asking me that.**  Jack's body reacted, seemingly willing himself to snap out of his own trance-like state.  “All right, you two do what you do,” he said to Daniel and Sam.  Looking at his watch, he added, “Teal'c, you and I are late for a radio contact.”

**Jack?**

**Daniel, like you said, we have work to do.**

~Right,~ Daniel responded silently.
//End of Flashback//

“How'd I forget that?  Dome failure or not, I should have remembered,” Daniel chastised himself.  Then he sighed, “It's because Jack did such an excellent cover-up job when we left the planet.”

Daniel took a few sips of his coffee and nodded as he made another realization.

~He told me he was upset that Nevin had forgotten about being an explorer.  The link had totally eliminated that from Nevin's mind, made him want to be a gardener like Kendrick instead.  Gawd, that link was powerful,~ Daniel thought in amazement.

“Did I miss anything else?” Daniel wondered.  “Let's see.  Sam worked with Pallan in the control room while I kept looking for something, anything.  She wasn't getting through to him, but she kept trying.  That was about the same time I found the documents.”

Daniel was thinking about papers that had been drawn up by lawyers when the link was first being established.  At that time, all the residents had signed a contract establishing communal land ownership rights.  What he had found was a record showing that the city had once had a population of over a hundred-thousand people.

“That's when Sam realized the dome wasn't failing, but that the computer had compensated by shrinking the dome.  The link virtually ordered people to walk outside the barrier.  Involuntary suicide,” Daniel sighed with contempt, shaking his head at the knowledge.  ~The MALP hadn't disappeared; it was right where we left it, but it was now outside the safety of the dome.  What a nightmare.~

Daniel turned off the freeway, his destination only a couple of hours away now as he traveled the dirt back roads of Minnesota.

~Jack and Teal'c found the MALP and proof of our theory -- human bones and the metal links worn at the inhabitants' temples -- and while they were doing that, Sam and I were talking ourselves blue in the face trying to convince Pallan to believe us, which he did after she pulled off the device.  Then it was just a matter of minutes before Pallan was able to reprogram the computer.~  Daniel gave an anxious shiver, recalling the close call for his lover and Teal'c.

//Flashback//
As Jack and Teal'c headed towards the control center, Sam and Pallan worked on reprogramming the link.  Feeling a bit helpless, Daniel sat restlessly on a chair, watching their efforts.  All of sudden, the computer kicked in on its own, doing another update.

Frantically, Pallan tried to alter the computer, Sam urging the planetary native to try and remember “the old-fashioned way” since he was feeling inadequate with the link removed from his temple.

As they were doing that, Jack and Teal'c realized the townspeople were heading towards them, only their look was not casual.

“Ah, Carter, we may have a little problem here,” Jack communicated over the radio.

Sam quickly replied, “They're being controlled by the computer, Sir.”

Jack and Teal'c continued to try and evade the people, but finally they had no choice but to confront them.  While Jack regrettably aimed his P-90 at Kendrick, Teal'c aimed his weapon at the people in the opposite direction.

“Everything's going to be all right, Colonel,” Kendrick told him, extending his hand out, revealing two of the link devices.  “These are for you.”

“I don't think so,” Jack said, declining the unwanted offer.

“You've been disconnected from the link,” Kendrick insisted.  “You're not well.  Let us help you.”

Clicking his radio, Jack urgently said, “Carter, now would be a good time.”

In the control room, Sam told Pallan, who had just gotten into the needed program, to erase all memory of SG-1.  Nodding, the man typed away feverishly.

**Danny, can you hear me?**

**Jack, are you okay?**

**We've got townspeople coming our way; I don't think they are asking us over for ice cream.  Tell Carter to get her butt in gear,** Jack ordered.

**She's trying, Jack; well, technically, Pallan is, but she's encouraging him,** Daniel communicated anxiously as he continued to watch Sam and Pallan work the controls.

**I'll buy her some pom poms,** Jack responded snarkily.  **We're out of time, Daniel.**  Jack looked forcefully at Kendrick, saying, “Don't make me shoot you.”

“You're not yourself, Colonel.  Without the link, your mind is playing tricks on you,” Kendrick steadfastly replied.

Finally, as the screens in the control room turned to black and then the new streaming code that Pallan had programmed ran, the townspeople stared blankly in front of them.  Seconds later, they awoke from their trance, staring at the strangers they no longer knew as SG-1.

“Who are you?” Kendrick asked.

“It's a long story,” Jack answered as he relaxed his weapon.

**Jack, are you okay?**

**Yeah, Danny.**  Jack clicked his radio, saying, “Good job, Carter.”

“It wasn't me, Sir, it was Pallan,” Sam replied, smiling at the relieved man sitting close by.
//End of Flashback//

“And then we went home, had the briefing, and I left with SG-11 while Sam and Teal'c returned to P3X-289 with two teams to help the people relocate to another world.  And Jack?”  Daniel smiled.  “He told me he loved me and he couldn't wait to cuddle.  Of course, he didn't say that out loud, couldn't since we were surrounded by Marines.  His eyes.  Gawd, his eyes weren't shining, either.  It has to be Kendrick, but ... I don't see it.  I don't see Jack in him.  What am I missing?” he wondered, honking his horn in frustration, knowing there was still a piece to the puzzle he hadn't found.

Ten more minutes, and Daniel would be at his destination.

“I'm almost there, Babe.  Hang on.  Whatever is going on, we'll fix it.”  Daniel laughed, “Oh, gawd, I sound like Jack.”  He smiled even brighter as he thought, ~Now that's a good thing.~

====

Daniel got out of his Silver Fox, now parked alongside Jack's fairly new F-350 truck.  He looked around for a moment before going inside the cabin.  Not finding his lover indoors, he headed for the lake, where he looked up and down the levee, still not finding any evidence of Jack's presence.  With his hands on his hips, he turned away from the lake, facing the woods.  He glanced over at the worn-down boathouse which was really nothing more than a frame of lumber.  Looking back at the house, he saw Jack's tiny rowboat leaning up against it.

~Okay, where is he?~  Not really looking at anything, Daniel brought his right hand up and scratched the back of his ear for a moment.  ~Maybe he went for a walk.~

On a hunch, Daniel walked towards the woods instead of following the levee where he and Jack normally took their strolls.  Something inside the man told him Jack was following a different drummer on this visit to the cabin.

A few minutes later, Daniel smiled, but only briefly.  Up in the distance, he could see Jack with an axe, chopping wood.  The colonel was very finicky about where he got his wood from, hating to destroy the life of a good tree.  Daniel was certain the tree being axed must have been dying or dead already.

~Chopping wood in the summer, Babe?  Not like you, especially when there is already enough for our first fall trip at the side of the cabin.~

Purposefully, the archaeologist headed for his colonel, hoping his presence would be a good thing.

With a loud grunt, Jack chopped the large limb into two.  He blinked, sensing a familiar presence.  He couldn't help but smile when he felt the loving arms wrap around him.  Then he sighed at the sensation of Daniel's lips against his neck.

“Danny, you weren't worried, were you?  I didn't want you to think ...” Jack began, feeling a bit guilty about having left such a nonspecific note behind.

“You mean about us?” Daniel asked.  “No, this isn't about us.  Uh, is it?” the younger man asked, a sudden panic filling him for the first time since he had discovered Jack's note back at their house in Colorado Springs.

“How could it be when you're what keeps my heart beating?” Jack asked, his face turned against his shoulder to glance at his soulmate.

They shared a silent moment of love and caring where words were only a hindrance, and then Daniel asked, “Dead tree?”

Looking forward, Jack let out a snort and answered, “Not yet, but it was going to be.  Sorry, tree,” Jack said with a bit of regret.  “They're all so friggin' healthy,” he noted.

Still sweating from his labors, Jack turned around to face Daniel.  Their eyes locked on to each other's and then slowly, they inched forward to share a tiny kiss.

“I love you, Jack,” Daniel said softly.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack replied, leaning in for another kiss which was followed by several more as the two men engaged in a proper hello.

====

A few hours later, Daniel awoke alone in their bed.  They'd made love and cuddled together for awhile before sleep had taken them, or at least Daniel, who was tired from his long drive which had followed two back-to-back off-world missions.

Putting on his jeans and a thin yellow shirt, Daniel left the bedroom, looking for Jack.  He didn't have to go far as the older man was sitting at the round wooden table that was on the cusp of the open kitchen and living room.

Smiling, Jack said, “I was hungry.”  He held up his roast beef sandwich that he was chewing and asked, “Want one?”

“Uh, yeah, that would be nice,” Daniel replied, yawning as he sat down.  “And a beer.”

“Beer?” Jack chuckled, having gotten up to prepare the sandwich.

“It's been a long few days, and I want a beer,” Daniel argued lightly, a small smile on his face mitigating the force of the comment.  “Jack, you had to know I'd come,” he remarked a few moments later.

Nodding, Jack let out a little laugh and then responded, “I wasn't trying to get away from you.”

“What were you trying to get away from?” Daniel asked pointedly.

Jack sighed as he generously spread the mayonnaise on the bread.  He smacked his lips and cocked his head for just a second as he put on the layers of roast beef.

“Not sure?” Daniel queried.

“Danny, can this wait for just a bit?  I just need a little more time,” Jack requested gently.

“Do you want me to go?” Daniel inquired tentatively.  ~Gawd, don't ask me to go.~

With a reassuring smile on his face, Jack turned around and, as he placed Daniel's meal and beer on the table, answered, “No way.  I'm glad you came -- gladder than glad.”

Daniel smiled and nodded thankfully, especially seeing the pleased expression on his soulmate's face.

====

The lovers spent the rest of the day together, quietly but companionably.  Jack needed time to process his emotions, and an understanding Daniel was more than willing to give him that for now.  They went for a walk, holding hands, and later went swimming in the lake.

For a while, Daniel worked on his laptop while Jack read a novel, and then they enjoyed steaks for dinner, which Jack barbecued outside.

All in all, it was a pleasant, leisurely afternoon and evening that led to a peaceful night of sleep, at least for Daniel.

Early the next morning, Daniel awoke, alone again, in the bed.

“I still hate this,” the archaeologist grumbled as he got up and dressed for the day.  Finding the cabin empty, Daniel walked outside, stretching as he took in the warmth of the sun on his skin.  ~Always beautiful here,~ he thought as he turned to began his search for Jack.

Daniel didn't have to go far.  At the back of the cabin, next to the wooden deck they had built together a few years earlier, Jack sat, leaning up against the cabin's wall.  The older man's knees were drawn up loosely to his chest, his arms dangling over his knees with his hands playing with a twig he'd picked up.

The archaeologist ambled over, kneeling down in front of his lover.  It was time; he could feel it down deep in his soul.

Jack broke the twig in two, tossing it to the ground on his left.  As he looked up, Daniel took his hands in his and gave him a tender smile.

With a swallow, Jack began, “Crazy as it sounds, it was Kendrick.”

“Kendrick?  Why?” Daniel asked.

“There was something in his eyes, Danny.  It was a look of caring for Nevin,” Jack explained.

“A father's love,” Daniel surmised.

“Yes, but more.  Danny, Kendrick was ready to leave a world he loved because Nevin wanted to be an explorer and because he knew that, no matter how happy he may have been in a hologram, it was no place to raise a boy,” Jack stated as he recalled the father and son from the domed city.

“You'd have done the same for Charlie,” Daniel stated, assuming that must be what Jack was remembering -- his relationship with his own son.

“I hope so, but I let him down,” Jack admitted softly.

“Jack, you ...” Daniel began, though quickly silenced by the man opposite him.

“This isn't about how Charlie died.  It's not even about Charlie,” Jack replied.

“It's not?”

Shaking his head, Jack responded, “No.”  He took a big breath and looked off into the distance before refocusing on his Love in front of him.  “Kendrick reminded me of my dad.  He was a great man, Danny.  I know you have a few memories from when we were kids,” Jack stated, referring to a time approximately a year earlier when the two were turned into boys, believing they were brothers with Daniel adopted into the O'Neill family.

“I do,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I remember him as being very tall and strong, but gentle, too, like my own father.  He, I mean your dad, hugged me a lot, like my dad did, too.”  He chuckled, “He made me wear that Chicago baseball cap all the time, just like you.  Okay, I liked it,” Daniel admitted as he recalled a few of the memories from a life that never really was.  “Oh, and he taught me how to build a model car.  I hadn't done that before.  Gawd, what a memory to have that ... that seems so real, but ...”

“But none of that was real, Angel,” Jack sighed in regret, wishing Daniel really had known his parents.  “The essence of Mom and Dad and our life together was there, but the reality was ... it wasn't ...”

“Real,” Daniel said with a smile, understanding that while the events he remembered were fictional, the feelings and the love he felt were very genuine.

“My dad was something else,” Jack began.  “He did go the extra mile for his family, in spite of taking some hits for it.”

“Hits?”

“He was tall and strong, a hard worker, loved Mom to pieces and wasn't afraid to show it, and he brought Billy and I up right,” Jack stated about himself and his older brother who had died during the Vietnam War.  “He was raising a family in the fifties, during the cold war and at a time when men were men,” Jack said, mock bravado in his voice.

“And women were ...” Daniel prodded.

“Moms, housewives, 'yes, dears' to their husbands,” Jack answered.

“Was that your mom?” Daniel asked.

Jack shook his head, answering, “Mom wasn't typical anymore than Dad was.”

“I'm not sure there is such a thing as a typical O'Neill,” Daniel commented quietly.

Jack smiled his acknowledgement and continued, “Dad worked a lot of jobs when I was young.  He even worked on the old streetcars for awhile.”

“That must have been interesting,” Daniel noted.

“I suppose so.  He worked in a paper mill and a couple of the other factories, but Dad had just one problem,” Jack proclaimed with wide eyes.

“He didn't like authority?” Daniel guessed.

Jack let out a snort, answering, “He didn't have a problem doing whatever job he was hired to do, or taking orders, but he didn't want to miss his sons growing up.”

Daniel shrugged, asking, “What do you mean?”

“Danny, when Billy and I were growing up, the world was still a place where the men were the workers and the women kept the house clean.  Dads tended to be gone all day.  They came home, ate dinner, read the paper, and went to bed.  The next day, they repeated the process.  On the weekends, they mowed the lawn and fixed up the house.  Maybe they went to a baseball game with their boys,” Jack stated calmly.

“But not your dad?” Daniel inquired.

Jack shook his head, answering, “He wanted to help us with our homework; he wanted to teach us how to play baseball and hockey; he wanted to be there when we made our mistakes and achieved our triumphs, and Mom, she supported him.  She said we were a family, and together we were better than any of us were apart.  Sometimes we made do on scraps.”  Jack laughed.  “I remember she'd take a half pound of hamburger and divide it up amongst the four of us.  She got very creative with it, adding different ingredients.  I guess it was a sort of impromptu meat loaf,” he said, smiling.

“Jack, I don't ... I mean I don't remember your family as being ... well, I mean ...” Daniel stuttered, unsure exactly what words he wanted to use.

“Poor?” Jack said for his lover.  He sighed, “We weren't, not really, and during that period when Dad was getting fired once or twice a year, we made do.”

“Why would he get fired ... exactly?” Daniel asked curiously.

“Hockey practice was at four, or the rally started right after school.  Work ended at six, maybe five.  Let's just say he clashed with the standard work hours,” Jack noted.  “But then one day, after Dad had been fired for leaving early to take me to a doctor's appointment ...”  Jack stopped, feeling a need to clarify even further.  “Ah, Mom was sick that day, and Dad absolutely refused to let her go out.  It was snowing pretty hard.  He tried to take the afternoon off without pay.  They said 'no', and he said, 'I'm going', and they said ...”

“'You're fired',” both Jack and Daniel said at the same time.

Jack nodded, adding, “I had been sick for a few days, and he was really worried about me.  Turned out I had pneumonia; pretty serious, too, so Dad was glad he did what he did.  Anyway, he was doing odd jobs, handyman work to bring in some money.  It had been a few weeks since he had been fired.  Billy and I were sitting on the floor, playing some war game.  Dad was attempting to read the paper, but he couldn't help himself, kept giving us advice, said he was the general, and we should listen to him.  Mom just laughed and shook her head.  She was sitting at the rolltop desk, writing a letter to a friend.  Out of nowhere, Billy says, 'Dad, why don't you and Mom make your own business; then you wouldn't have to take orders from anyone.”

“Take orders,” Daniel chuckled.

Jack laughed, too, saying, “That's what Mom said.  She laughed, but then she stopped.  I don't think I'll ever forget it.  She and Dad looked at each other, and it was like magic.  'Bill', she said, 'what do you think we should do?'”  Jack took a happy breath as he recalled the moment.  “I looked over at them and said that since Dad had worked in the paper mill, and Mom was a writer, maybe they should open a paper business.”

“Your mom was a writer?” Daniel asked, completely surprised.

Nodding, Jack affirmed, “Yes, she was.  She wrote under a lot of pseudonyms, though, in order for her stories to be published.”

“Men's names,” Daniel supposed.

“She was a great writer of fiction and everyday stories.  She was a teacher, too, but she didn't want to be away from home that much, so she did some substituting.”  Jack paused, seeing a smile on his soulmate's face.  “What?”

“I, uh ... well, she reminds me a little of Sara,” Daniel observed.  “I mean, I don't really know Sara, but ... the things you've talked about sometimes and ... she, uh ...” Daniel trailed off hesitantly, uncertain whether he should have brought up the comparison.

Jack looked down, and then he nodded, saying, “You're right, and it may be crazy, but I kinda wish you did know Sara.  She's a good woman, Danny, just like my mother was.”  Jack laughed, saying, “You know, Sara really knows her way around an engine, and so did Mom.  She was always better at figuring out what was wrong with a car than Dad was.”  Jack rolled his eyes in remembrance as he added, “And I lost a lot of bets with Sara over what was wrong with our cars.”  He sighed knowingly, “I guess that old adage is true.  No one is ever as good as your mom, but when it comes to getting married, that's who you look for.  Sara -- yeah, she is a lot like my mother was.”

“So what happened, with the business, I mean?” Daniel queried.

“They opened a bookstore, sold stationary, books, trinkets Dad made in his workshop at home; all kinds of things.  It was great.  They hired a couple of employees, and neither of them ever missed an important event in Billy's or my life, not for as long as they were alive,” Jack said, his words becoming a bit sadder as he contemplated their passing.

“They sound like great people, Babe,” Daniel commented.

“The best,” Jack agreed.  “It's been fifteen years, Danny, fifteen years this week since Dad died, and in some ways, it seems like yesterday.”

“I'm sorry, Jack,” Daniel spoke empathetically.

“Me, too.  He taught me what being a man was really about,” Jack added quietly.

“Hockey and beer?” Daniel teased, a small smile on his face.

“There's that,” Jack agreed.  “But he taught me that being a man isn't about being macho.  Do you know he was a master chef?  He could cook a stew or make an omelet like no one else.  And he did the laundry, mended our clothes, and vacuumed the carpet.  He wasn't afraid of what other people thought, only what my mom did.  They were a partnership with love as their contract, and it made life for Billy and me a paradise.”

“He left a great legacy in you,” Daniel said in all seriousness.

Jack stared at his lover and then quipped, “I do know how to stick it to the man.”

“He'd be proud,” Daniel added.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack smirked.  “I love you, Danny.”

“I love you,” Daniel replied, moving closer for a kiss.

Their kisses intensified as they removed each other's clothing, making love alongside the cabin they treasured.

====

“At least it was over quick,” Jack said as he and Daniel sat in the rowboat at the middle of the lake.  Jack was fishing, while Daniel was reading, though in reality, both were still sharing the memories of Jack's father.  For some reason that still confused Jack, he just couldn't stop remembering his father. “The doctor said it was over in a couple of minutes, but it's that couple of minutes,” he said mournfully.

“Heart attacks can be a painful way to die,” Daniel replied.

“Mom was devastated; so was I,” Jack remarked.  “I wished I learned his lessons better.”

“What do you mean?” the younger man inquired.

“I was away from Sara and Charlie too much.  I tried to be there, but I let duty get in the way,” Jack lamented.  “If I could do it over again, I'd ...” Jack trailed off, not wanting to play the 'what if' game in any manner.  “Daniel, I can't seem to shut up.  Do you have any ideas on how to turn off my mouth?”

Daniel's eyebrows raised as he smugly said, “Well, uh, I can turn off your mouth by turning on your ...”

“Please do,” Jack invited, tossing down his fishing pole just as Daniel closed his book.

====

“So Kendrick just reminded you of your father?” Daniel questioned as he carried their dinner dishes to the sink.

“Yeah.  I think it was a lot of things -- the anniversary of my dad's death, Kendrick being willing to give up his security for his son, and even Nevin's curiosity about Earth.  I just couldn't stop thinking about Dad,” Jack stated.

“I knew something was going on with you during the mission,” Daniel admitted.  “You're never that distracted.”

Still seated at the table, Jack smiled, nodding as he said, “I relied on you to keep me going.”

“Anytime you want me to take over command, Love, just let me know,” Daniel retorted.

Jack laughed, “Danny, sometimes I think you're always in charge.”

“Oh?” Daniel walked over behind the older man's chair and put his arms around him.  Massaging Jack's chest lightly, he said, “I'm glad you recognize that fact.”

“I said sometimes, Daniel,” Jack responded more sternly.

“If you say so,” Daniel replied smugly, placing a kiss on Jack's cheek and then sitting down on the sofa.

“Daniel,” Jack said, standing.  “You are *not* the leader of SG-1.”

“Never said I was,” Daniel replied, his smug smile pasted on his face.

“Daniel!”

“Jack!”

“What you do to me!” Jack laughed, walking closer to the sofa.

“Actually, I was hoping you'd do something to me,” the archaeologist said, unbuckling his pants.

“I never turn down an invitation like that,” Jack intoned, diving in.

“Uh, excuse me?” Daniel said.  “Never?”

Jack looked up and corrected his response, saying, “I never turn down an invitation like that when made by my Space Monkey.”

“Oh, gawd,” Daniel responded, rolling his eyes at the nickname.

As their passion soared yet again, the lovers grew stronger in their relationship, and over the next few days, Jack continued to share more memories of the man who helped to shape his existence, the man who had ultimately given Jack the strength and the character to be the person he was, the one so loved and adored by his very own Space Monkey.

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