Parallel Time

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - April 1, 2014
Spoilers:  None
Size:  56kb
Written:  July 25-26, October 12,19-24,26, 2011 Revised: January 16, 2012
Summary:  Jack and Daniel have a conversation with Jack and Daniel about Jack and Daniel, and it's one full of twists and turns.
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Alverine!

Parallel Time
by Orrymain

“Unscheduled off-world activation,” Chief Master Sergeant Walter Davis called out over the communication system as the klaxons blared the warning.

Quickly, General Hank Landry stood up from the head of the conference table in the briefing room and hurried to the control room.  He was followed by Colonel Marc Reynolds, leader of SG-3, with whom Landry was meeting.

“What do we have?” Landry questioned the sergeant as he stared out at the Stargate.

“It's ... Sir, this is going to sound crazy.”

“Walter, we passed crazy the first month I was in command here.  Who's knocking at the door?”

“SG-1.”

“SG-1?”

In actuality, SG-1 no longer existed. Early in 2013, in a touching and sentimental ceremony that coincided with the inauguration of the latest United States President, Jack and Daniel had officially retired from active service. However, a few months later, Jack was promoted to lieutenant general to oversee the Icarus Project. Recently, events with that situation changed, and he'd handed over responsibility to others in Washington D.C. Once again, he was a self-proclaimed happily retired general.

As for Sam and Teal'c, both eventually reduced their hours, though they also continued to work with Stargate Command to some extent.

“It's an old IDC, Sir.”

Landry leaned over and ordered into the tannoy, “Stand ready.”  Straightening, he ordered, “Open the door.”

Seconds after the iris opened, Landry let out a big sigh.  It all felt familiar, with a few alterations here and there.

Reynolds let out a snicker at what he saw.

“That *is* Doctor Jackson?” Landry asked the colonel, his query somewhat amusing as he leaned over slightly in Reynold's direction.

“Yes, Sir, once upon a time,” the smirking Reynolds acknowledged while recalling the scientist's appearance upon their first meeting at Area 51 many years ago.  ~Look at Jack and ... wow, Sam.~  After a moment, he thought about his life partner, Paul Davis, and opined, ~Wish Paul wasn't off-world and could see this.~

Rhetorically, the base commander quizzed, “Haven't we done this before?”  With a shake of his head, he ordered with urgency, “Get me O'Neill, Jackson, and Carter.  I want them here within the hour.”  After a pause, he directed, “Show our guests to a VIP room until SG-1 arrives.”

====

“General, Daniel, what are you doing here?” Colonel Samantha Carter-Shanahan queried as she carried a tote bag of just-purchased items in her right hand.

“We're getting our hair done,” Jack teased in his usual sarcastic tone.  “It's a mall, Carter.”

“Shopping,” Sam deduced with a slight bob of her head.

“Ya think?” Jack quipped, slowly breaking into a smile.

“We thought we'd get a head start for David's birthday,” Daniel elaborated about their son's upcoming thirteenth birthday later in the month.

“Daniel thinks we should get him a Solar Deluxe Ed Kit and an Icosoku puzzle, but I'm holding out for rock guitar T-shirt and a huge honkin' Gummi bear. What do you think?”

Sam chuckled at the statement, knowing it was just a joke, though at the same time, she knew it was highly possible the maturing teenager might just get everything Jack had mentioned, including the giant Gummi bear.

The three chatted for a few more minutes and then Jack felt the vibration of his cell phone.  As he pulled it out, he noticed Daniel was doing the same thing.  Just as he took at look at the caller ID, he observed Sam pulling her phone out, too.  He had a gut feeling the calls were all from the same place.

“Aren't we retired?” the general groaned. He looked over at his husband and almost pleadingly asked, “Didn't we retire?” Before getting a response, he focused on Sam and stated, though with a question-like tone, “We retired, Carter. I'm certain we went through this big rigamarole and retired.”

“Yes, Sir,” a laughing Sam confirmed.  “Well, you and Daniel retired.”

“And you cut back,” the general reminded strongly.

“Kids,” the woman sighed, letting just a quick moment of regret show through for her part-time status with Stargate Command.  She patted her bulging belly and with a smile added, “I'm nervous as I can be, but I wouldn't change a thing.”

“I suppose we should find out what they want,” Daniel stated, staring at his phone which indicated from the Caller ID that the incoming call was from someone at Cheyenne Mountain.

“We could pretend we never got the call,” Jack suggested.

“They'd find us,” Sam pointed out.

“Hide and seek,” the general returned playfully, loving the smiles he'd just put on his husband's and friend's faces.

Realizing they had no choice in the matter, however, the three answered their respective phones, resulting in a cacophony of names and chatter being spoken at the same time.

“O'Neill, and this had better be good.”

“Daniel Jackson.”

“Carter.”

The trio listened, gave their acknowledgments, and let out disappointing sighs.

“See you at the base,” Daniel told Sam as he tugged on his reluctant lover's arm.  “Jack, let's get it over with.”

“I say we grab the kids and head for Tahiti,” the general urged stoically as he resisted the move towards the other end of the mall where Daniel's car was parked.

Chuckling, Sam passed by the two men as she headed for the nearest exit, her amusement continuing as she heard Jack's long line of suggestions for how they could avoid going to Cheyenne Mountain.

====

“Hank, we're out of the 'saving the world' business,” Jack called out as he took the last step up into the control room.

“I realize that, Jack, but we have a situation.”

“There's always a situation,” Daniel chimed in, just beating out his husband's intended snarky reply.  Seeing the look of displeasure, he shrugged and said rather insincerely, “Sorry.”

“What's the cri...” Mid-sentence, Jack glanced at the monitor that seemed to hold some fascination for his fellow general. Instantly, he realized why SG-1 had been summoned. “Okay, this is one very odd April Fool's joke.”

“I don't think it's a joke,” Daniel responded, his eyes glued to the screen.

“Has to be.”

“Too hard to set up.”

“It's April first.”

“Believe me, I know,” Daniel lamented, having a momentary flashback to his morning ritual when his usual shampoo had been replaced by an extra strong potion of lemon verbena, the first of his husband's April Fool's Day pranks.

“Green screen,” Jack put forth, ignoring the whine of his lover. “They use it on TV all the time.”

“This isn't TV, Jack, it's the Air Force,” the archaeologist replied.

“Your point?”

Daniel blinked, wondering how the discussion had turned to a method of TV production.

Suddenly, Jack barked, “Carter?”

“What? I don't know anything about green screen.”

“I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about *that*,” Jack clarified, pointing to the monitor.

“I didn't do anything,” Sam insisted while shrugging cluelessly. Glancing at Landry, she inquired, “Sir, what happened?”

“We had an off-world activation using an old SG-1 IDC.  There they were,” the major general responded.  ~They look a little different, though.~

The VIP room held three people, all of whom were to some extent the splitting image of Jack, Daniel, and Sam.  The three were quiet and seemed relatively unperturbed by their confinement.  They were playing with a yo-yo, pacing, and reading, respectively.

“That's you,” Daniel asserted about the Jack-like picture he was staring at.

“Hey, it takes skill to be a true yo-yo champion.”

“Right,” the archaeologist agreed dryly.  “I wonder what you're reading,” he addressed to Sam.

“Can you zoom in on that, Sergeant?” Sam requested, surprised to see it was a book on fashion.

“Okay, that's ... different,” Daniel observed.

“Have you talked to them?” Sam inquired of the base commander.

“Not yet,” Landry answered.  “I thought you might want to handle it.”

“Teal'c,” the archaeologist stated softly.

“What?” Jack asked.

“There's no Teal'c,” Daniel observed.  “Where's Teal'c?”

Landry stared at the monitor and remarked, “I don't know about theirs, but our Teal'c is on Chulak.”

“Carter, you talk to ... Carter.  Daniel and I will talk to ... us.”

“Good luck,” Landry wished, watching as SG-1 walked away and continued to discuss their game plan.

====

“It's about time,” the visiting Jack O'Neill stated as he and his Daniel were taken from the VIP room.  “Hey, what about her?” he asked when the SFs stopped Sam from following.

“Sorry, Sir, but she stays here,” the first SF stated.

“Why?”

“I'm sorry, Sir, but my orders ...”

“Screw your orders,” Jack barked.  “What is going on here?”

The man groaned from the lack of response and quickly realized he had no choice with what was happening. Reluctanty, he and the visiting Daniel went with the guards to another VIP room.

“Thanks for nothing,” the visiting Jack snarked.

“Oh, well, this is ... different,” the visiting Daniel observed, getting his Jack's attention.

“Welcome to Stargate Command, well, our Stargate Command.  I assume you two have one like it, in some universe or another,” Jack stated to the look-alikes.

“Uh, we don't mean to be difficult ...”

“Yes, we do,” the alien Jack interrupted.

“Jack, shut up,” the visiting Daniel ordered.

“Ouch!” Jack somewhat mumbled.  “You know, where we are, that didn't go over well when I said it.”

“Good thing I'm not you then,” the visiting Daniel retorted.

“Daniel, something isn't quite right here,” Jack opined to his lover.

“Apparently,” the archaeologist agreed, folding his arms in front of his chest.  “Um, can we assume this is the first time that you've ... crossed universes?”

“What are you talking about?” the frustrating colonel from another dimension snapped.

**Jack, look at their patches,** Daniel communicated through the special link the two shared.

For the first time, Jack squared in on the arm patches that were part of the light blue uniforms the look-alikes were wearing.

**PP-1?** Jack grimaced, not understanding the reference.  **I've got a funny feeling about this.**

**Me, too.**

**The only PP I can think of is ...**

**I'm sure that's not it,** Daniel interrupted.  **Their uniforms: we don't have anything like that.**

**Apophis would have laughed us off his spaceship if we'd shown up in that fluffy blue.**  Then Jack asked, **Did you see that Carter?  Hot!**

**Excuse me?**

Jack realized he needed to shift his observation somewhat and so replied, **Her outfit.  It's hot.**

**You noticed her outfit?** the younger man asked suspiciously.  **Her outfit or her?**

**Daniel, when we were on a mission, I dare you to tell me you could notice Carter's curves.  Come on, just tell me.**

**Her curves?**

**Okay, her chest.  She's got great ...**  Mentally, Jack felt sharp blades being tossed his way.  **That Carter's BDUs are form fitting and that's all I'm gonna say on the subject.**  Inwardly, he was grinning wildly.  ~Geez, I love it when he gets jealous; doesn't happen that often.  Mmm mmm hot: that's my Danny: smokin' hot when he gets like this.~  Still pleased with himself, he noted, ~Actually, he's smokin' hot all the time, and he's mine, all mine.~

As Jack simmered his feelings to avoid an embarrassing uprising of his mid-section from his steamy thoughts, Daniel regrouped.  In actuality, the younger man agreed with his lover.  This SG-1's uniforms were not exactly military in the sense that was accepted in this time orientation. In fact, he just noticed another deviation.

**Jack, they aren't even wearing boots,** Daniel noted.  **Those are Oxfords.**

**On a mission?** the general questioned in disbelief.

“Listen, are you two guys just going to stand there and stare at us, or what?” the visiting Daniel inquired harshly upon witnessing odd glances and silence for the past couple of minutes.

“Okay,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Do you ... how did you get here?”

The look-alikes let out a combination of sighs and groans, but they never looked anywhere but straight ahead at Jack and Daniel.

“We want out of here,” the visiting Jack demanded boldly.

**Danny, he still has brown hair.  Do you know how long it's been since I've had brown hair?**

**And it looks like you've turned me gray,** Daniel mused, motioning at the other Daniel's sideburns that had definite gray undertones in them.

**I didn't do that.**

**Yes, you did.**

**Did not.**

**Did, too.**

**So not!**

**Well, the other you did to the other me,** Daniel maintained.  **Just look at him.**

**I'm not crazy about the look,** Jack admitted.

**What look?**

**Danny, you, or the other you, has long hair with graying sideburns, and he's slender as a rail.  Bra'tac would snap him like kindling.**

**I don't know, Jack.  There's something ...**

**Odd,** both men thought at the same time.

“Hey!” the visiting Jack snapped.  “Do you two get your jollies by staring at people?”

“Sorry,” Daniel returned.  “We're just ... thinking.”

“Try thinking louder,” the look-alike suggested.

“Snark,” Jack mused quietly.

“Why don't we sit down,” Daniel's diplomatic self suggested, hoping to diffuse some of the hostility he was feeling.  “Coffee?”  He saw his look-alike's head drop slightly, and he could sense some give in the man's harshness.  ~He's just confused, but why?~

“Yes, please,” the look-alike archaeologist requested.

====

A few minutes later, coffee and cookies had been brought to the VIP room.  With the visiting duo seated in chairs, Jack and Daniel sat opposite them, on the bed.  Except for Daniel, whose arms were still crossed, each held a coffee mug.

“So ... how did you get here?” Daniel inquired calmly.

“Magic,” the visiting Jack answered.

“Jack, this isn't how we do things,” the visiting Daniel reproached.

“We should.”

“Uh, I don't mean to butt in ...” Daniel began.

“Yes, you do,” both Jacks interjected, after which they stared curiously at the other.

“Look, we need to share some information, or we're going to be here a ... a very long time,” Daniel advised the group.  “Please, how did you get here?”

“Where is here?” the other Daniel challenged, not yet ready to give up information.

“You're at Stargate Command, on Earth,” Daniel answered.

“How can that be?” the archaeologist from another place questioned.  “Why do you look like us?”

Jack and Daniel exchanged another look. It was clear their visitors were totally out of their element, and their nerves were showing, something that was very unlike just about every other SG team they'd met.

**How much do we tell them?** Daniel asked his husband.

The general studied the two men and answered his spouse by addressing the visitors and revealing, “You're from another reality.  Look, I don't understand this crap.  That's Carter's thing, but what I do know is that there are alternate realities and parallel realities and other universes.  You're from one of those, and the question is, what are you doing here.”

“How did you get here?” Daniel inquired, repeating his earlier query.

The other Daniel sighed, “We don't know.  We were in Egypt.”

“Let me guess,” Jack interrupted, his face taut, “Giza.”

“Yes,” the visiting Daniel affirmed with surprise.

“Wait,” Daniel requested, standing and walking around a bit.  “You were *both* in Giza?”

“Of course,” the counterpart confirmed.

“That's just not normal,” Jack opined doubtingly.  ~This whole thing is strange.~

“Okay, okay, just ... just hold on a minute,” Daniel interjected, trying to process what was being discussed.  “We've been taking certain things for granted, but I think we need to go back to the beginning.  What's your name?”

Though skeptical and wary, the visitor answered, “I'm Daniel Jackson ...”

“*Doctor* Daniel Jackson?” Jack sought to clarify.

“Doctor?”  The other Daniel's eyes blinked and he pursed his lips for a moment as he contemplated the title.  “Um, no, just ... Daniel Jackson.”

“You don't have a thousand-and-one degrees and doctorates?” Jack asked, earning a slight glare from his lover.

“Just a Bachelor's,” the other Daniel advised.  “I have done some post-grad work, but no degrees.”

“Okay, this is odd,” Jack observed for all to hear.  “Who are you?” he addressed his near-mirror image.

“Captain Jack O'Neill, United States Air Force, Retired.”

“Close,” the general opined.

“Not close enough,” Daniel corrected.

“Get busted?” Jack asked his counterpart.

“A few times.”

“Rebellious?”

“I have my own drummer.”

“Must not have any rhythm,” Jack retorted, getting a shrug from the other Jack.  “Court-martial?”

“No, not that a few of my superiors didn't think about that over the years,” the visiting Jack responded.  “I retired when the Planetary Peace Commission began recruiting.”

“Planetary Peace Commission?” Jack and Daniel echoed, each staring at the other in utter incertitude.

“What is the ...” Daniel began, his query chopped off by the words of his other self.

“Planetary Peace Commission, or the PPC.  It's an organization dedicated to keeping Earth safe from invaders.”

“Invaders?” Jack asked, wondering if he was in the midst of a really strange hallucination.

“We've had visits,” the other Jack revealed.  “They aren't the chummy types.”

“No, they're not,” the other Daniel agreed.  “They're parasites.”

“Slimy things,” Visiting Jack added.  “More like ...”

“Snakes,” Jack assumed.

“You said you've had visits,” Daniel prodded.

“Yes, uh, well ...” the other Daniel acknowledged with a bit of a stumble.  

“What happened?” Jack asked curiously, hoping to spur on the hesitant look-alike of his Love.

“It's complicated,” the visiting Jack and Daniel both stated together.

“Well, that's not new,” Daniel noted, somewhat amused by the unison-speak, although when he looked over at his husband, he could see a spark of disapproval.  “Look, we actually probably have a really good idea of what you're dealing with, so ...”

The other Daniel nodded, getting the message.  He explained how a spaceship had suddenly appeared over Egypt one day.  The System Lord, Apophis, and several of his Jaffa demanded instant allegiance.  Fortunately, another spaceship arrived soon thereafter.  The Asgard, led by Commandor Thor, had a brief skirmish with the Goa'uld, after which Apophis left the galaxy.

“Whoa!” Jack exclaimed.  “You're telling us that the little gray butts kicked Goa'uld butt, and Apophis went packing?”

“More or less,” the visiting Daniel affirmed.  “Thor didn't tell us much, except he said that the Asgard would be watching, which, apparently, they've been doing for a long time.  He ... he wouldn't tell us what, but he said they're looking for something, something that could help his people.”

“The snakes have come back a couple of times.  They took out half of Cairo one time before Thor and his pals finally showed up,” the alternate Jack stated unhappily.  With a smirk, he added, “That Goa'uld ship won't be taking out anyone anymore.”

~Jack's right.  This *is* odd.~  Daniel sighed, trying to process the differences of his counterpart's world.  “So, what exactly is this ... commission?”

“Thor hinted we had a lot to learn,” the other Daniel began.

“He's big on hints, short on details,” the other Jack groaned.

“I hear ya,” Jack commiserated.  ~Some things don't change from universe to universe.~

“One of his hints concerned ... uh, the Stargate?  Isn't that what you called it?” the other Daniel inquired, seeing the confirming nods from his hosts.  “He said there was something important to our future survival in Egypt.  He also said we needed to prepare ourselves more if we wanted to be a real part of galactic change.”

“For the past few decades, most of the planet has just been trying to survive our own stupidity,” the visiting Jack interjected.  “Once we got a look at the snakes, things changed, for a day or two.”

“Actually, it lasted long enough for the PPC to be formed.  It's an international group focused on alien relations, beginning with the Asgard,” the other Daniel stated.  “The first thing we did was start searching for whatever it was that Thor wanted us to find.”

“Looks like you found it,” Jack stated.

“Well, another team found it.  We didn't know what to call it,” the other Daniel admitted.  “Our team was one of four working on it.”

“You got it to work,” Daniel pointed out.

“Well, yes,” the counterpart agreed, adding, “but I'm not really sure how.”

“You're kidding me,” Jack interjected with a huge amount of disbelief.  “You're the key.  You opened the Stargate.  It's all you.”

“Jack,” Daniel warned, appreciating the kudos and yet feeling the remarks were out of place at this time.

“Look, I've done some studies into ancient cultures, but I never got my degree.  I'm ... good at linguistics, too, but ...”

“Hold on!” Jack exclaimed, standing up and walking over to the other Daniel.  “How many languages do you speak?”

“Languages?”

“Jack!” Daniel objected more fervently.

“Let him answer,” Jack insisted.

With a shrug, the visiting Daniel answered, “About eight.”

“Eight?” both Jack and Daniel echoed in near shock.

“Just ... eight?” Daniel sought to verify, his disappointment audible.

“What 'just'?” the other Jack queried in confusion.  “I'm lucky I know one -- English!”

“Sorry,” Daniel apologized.  “Go on.  You were able to get the Stargate to work.”

“Okay, so we found some other relics with the ... Stargate, including an arm device.  It was a little ... odd, though.”

“How?” Daniel asked.

“It marked the spot,” the other Daniel reported.  “It was actually right on top of the site in Giza.”

“Like a bow on a package,” the other Jack quipped.

Daniel blinked a couple of times at the revelation that felt extremely off to him.

**Thor?** Jack suggested, also feeling somewhat perplexed by the announcement.

**Why would he do that?**

**Because it's a different Thor,** Jack answered.  **Daniel, these two may look like us, sort of, and their reality may have similarities, but their world isn't ours.  If Thor pointed them towards the Stargate and knew they didn't know enough ...**

Daniel turned sharply towards his lover and stated out loud, “Thor put the IDC there.  He could easily have acquired codes from the computer mainframe when working with Sam on the systems.  Jack, he intentionally rigged their IDC to be one of our old codes.”

“Because he knew about their reality,” Jack replied, continuing on with the process of discovery.

“And he wanted them to find us.”

“Why?” Jack asked.  “Daniel, why did they need to find us?”  With his archaeologist just staring at him, the general continued, “Militarily, where's the need?  Their Asgard are willing to fight the Goa'uld.  Why do they need us?”

“Hey!” the other Jack called out, walking over to join the two men who were strangers to him.  “This is fascinating, really, but what are you talking about?”

“In our reality, we defeated the Goa'uld,” Daniel answered.

“It took years,” Jack added.  “And Thor and his pals didn't help much.”

“Jack, that's not really fair,” Daniel refuted.  “They had a treaty with the Goa'uld, and Earth was one of their protected planets.”

“But the Asgard weren't active in the fight,” Jack pointed out.  “We took the snakes down.”

“We need answers, too,” the other Daniel stated forcefully.

“They don't want to tell us anything,” the other Jack groused to his teammate while trying to stare down Jack and Daniel.  “You two are friggin' jokes.  Where are we really?  Come on, you ...”

After a few expletives, Daniel held out his hand to silence the swearing captain.

“Jack, stop ... now!”

**Oh, boy, is this not right,** Jack noted to his lover.

“We do need answers,” the other Daniel repeated.  He took a breath and probed calmly, “What exactly is this IDC?”

After a moment of pause, Daniel explained, “The IDC is what we call that ... arm bracelet you found.  It relays a signal through the Stargate that identifies who is sending the signal to Stargate Command.”

“That's what this place is, Stargate Command,” the other Daniel surmised, recalling the earlier greeting that named the place as well.

“Yes,” Daniel confirmed.  “Um, how did you know what to input on the IDC?”

“Thor,” the captain responded harshly, still upset at what he considered to be a grilling.  “It was another one of his blasted hints.”

“He gave us a number and told us that one day it would come in handy.  I figured maybe it had to do with the arm bracelet.  Apparently, it did.”

“We have to figure out why,” Daniel determined.  “This might take a while.”

“We need donuts,” both Jacks declared, causing the Daniels to roll their eyes.

====

Three hours later, Jack and Daniel had reviewed in depth the military situation as well as the political climate and attitudes toward alien lifeforms on the visiting team's world.  They'd learned all about the formation of the PPC, the search for the Stargate in Giza, and how that Daniel had figured out the gate address, even though he wasn't sure what it meant.

The group had taken a couple of breaks, one of which included a call home by Jack and Daniel to let their brood know they'd be home later than anticipated.

The couple had also checked in with Sam and verified she was getting the same story from her counterpart.  She, too, was surprised at the differences.  Her Sam, who had shoulder length blonde hair that was curly, had actually been an astronaut for NASA before joining the Planetary Peace Commission.  She was married to an ambassador named Joe Faxon and had three kids.  Her father, Jacob, was a general in the United States Air Force, and her mother was a renowned author on the subject of the paranormal.  This rocked Sam quite a bit, since her mother died when she was young.  Seeing a picture of her parents, together and happy, from the other reality tugged on her heart.

It was the personal information Sam relayed that caused Jack and Daniel to realize they hadn't delved much into the private lives of their counterparts.  With the military discussion not really getting them anywhere, the lovers decided it was time to learn more about their other selves.  They also decided to do it one on one, so Jack took his counterpart, and the donuts, to yet another VIP room, leaving the two Daniels, and the coffee, together.

“More coffee?” Daniel asked, holding up the thermos of hot brew.

“Yes, please.  I know it isn't the healthiest thing, but I'm addicted to this stuff.”

“Me, too,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I prefer Starbuck's over ... this.”

“Me, too.  Arabian Mocha is my favorite.”

“Me, too,” Daniel agreed with a smile, bonding just a tad with his other self, thanks to their mutual love of coffee.

With their mugs refreshed, the two Daniels sat down in the chairs, both men leaning forward slightly.

“So, are you married?” Daniel inquired, deciding to jump right into the personal side of things.

“Divorced,” the other man advised.

“Really?”

“I never should have married her.  She was all about recognition and prestige.  That's not my thing.”

“Sarah?” Daniel inquired, referring to Sarah Gardner, the woman he'd dated briefly in college.

“Yes,” the other Daniel confirmed with a surprising nod.  “Alimony is a killer,” he sighed.

“I'll bet.  What ... happened to her after you divorced?”

“She married Steven Raynor.”

“Steven?  Really?”

“He *does* have a master's degree ... and a Porsche,” the visiting Daniel advised with a bit of attitude before taking a much-needed sip or two of his coffee.

“Children?”

“Thankfully, no.  Sarah isn't the motherly type.”

Somewhat hesitantly, Daniel asked, “What about your ... parents?”

“They died when I was eight, but I had great foster parents.  They adopted me when I was ten, but I asked to keep my last name, and they let me because they know how much I love my birth parents.  They're great people.  So's my sister.”

“Suzanna?” Daniel assumed, hope beating in his heart that this Daniel had the upbringing that he himself would have liked to have had.

Smiling, the other man affirmed, “Suz is fantastic.  So you know what I'm talking about?  I mean, uh, the Simpsons raising me, us?”

Daniel's smile faded as he sighed, “Actually, it worked out a little differently for me.  Mister and Mrs. Simpson weren't able to adopt me.  They're ... they're dead now, but Suz is in my life; she's a terrific sister.”

“I'm sorry you didn't get to grow up like I did.”

“Yeah.”  Daniel took a cleansing breath and continued on with his fact finding mission.  “You said you don't have any graduate degrees.”

“No, I just have a Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomatic Negotiations.  My minor was Ancient Cultures.  I did some advance work in linguistics, but I had to drop out.”

“No ... archaeology?”

“No,” the other Daniel responded.  “It's an interest of mine, but I had to make choices.”

“I can understand that.”

====

Meanwhile, Jack and his look-alike were enjoying donuts while making all kinds of Homer Simpson jokes.  Finally, Jack focused on the purpose of their chat.

“What's the real reason you're still a captain?”

The other Jack grinned and explained, “Once upon a time, they wanted me to blow the crap out of a convoy that I knew carried civilians.  The target wasn't there.  I felt it in my bones.  When the intel couldn't be verified, I refused to shoot.  That didn't go over well with the Brass.”

“I think I missed that one,” Jack admitted, unable to match up the event with any of his experiences.  That's when he wondered about the extent of his counterpart's training.  “Are you Special Ops?”

The visiting Jack squinted a bit as he sat back, shook his head, and answered, “No.  They offered it to me once, but I turned it down.”

“Why?”

“I wanted to be home with my wife and kid.”

“Sara and Charlie?”

“Yeah,” the other Jack acknowledged softly, his eyes suddenly looking off in the distance of his mind.  Finally, he looked over at the man with his face and saw the expectation in the eyes.  “They died eight years ago in a boating accident.”

Jack stood up, unable to conceive of such a thing and at the same time grateful that his son had died differently than in his reality.  A twinge of guilt also overtook him for thinking more about Charlie's fate than Sara's.

“Are they alive here?” the other Jack asked cautiously.

With his back to his counterpart, Jack closed his eyes for a second.  He had to tell the truth, but this second, it was a painful reality to think about.  He turned around and faced his other self.

“Charlie's dead.  He found my gun in a drawer, shot himself by accident, and died.”  Jack could see the trauma in the other man's eyes.  Like his reaction a moment ago, the concept of losing loved ones was extremely hard, regardless of whose reality it was.  “Sara's great.  She's remarried; has a couple of great kids, Angela and Madeline.”

“Angie and Maddy,” the other Jack said with a smile, automatically giving nicknames to the girls.

“You're a nickname freak,” Jack mused.  “I guess we do have our similarities.”

====

“Did Thor give you any hints why he wanted you to find the Stargate?” Daniel asked.

The look-alike sighed in reflection and responded, “He said it would be good for Earth, that exploration was important to our future.”

The other Daniel's expression became thoughtful and curious.

“What?” Daniel prodded.

“He said something else that was confusing.  He said that the offspring of the exploration was vital to the continuation of the Asgard.”  Visitor Daniel shook his head as he pondered the remark.  “When I asked him for more information, he wouldn't elaborate except to say that unless certain events happened, his race was doomed.”

“What events?”

“He wouldn't tell us.”

====

“You have to be holding something back,” Jack accused his counterpart.

“Hey, you're the one with the gray hair.”

“Silver-gray.”

“If that makes a difference to ya,” the other Jack snarked.

“Come on,” Jack urged.  “What do you have to lose?”  Seconds passed, and the general again urged, “Tell me the truth, the *whole* truth.”

The other Jack smacked his lips and let out a groan before standing up and walking a few steps away from the general.  Then he turned around and cocked his head slightly to the right.

“Thor's a cute little guy,” the other Jack began, “but he talks in riddles, and I'm not a fan of riddles.”

“We're two of a kind in that respect.”

“I was recruited for the PPC by Thor.”

“So ... and?”

“I woke up one night, and he's staring at me.  He tells me my calling is with the PPC, that there's someone I have to meet, and that for the greater good of mankind and the Asgard, I had to get my butt to Egypt.”

“He said all that?”

“He didn't stop there,” the other Jack stated.  “He told me it had to do with genetics and offspring, but then he turned into stone.  I couldn't get another thing out of him.”  He groused, “I can't believe I fell for the line.”  Raising his hands in frustration, he added, “The Asgard aren't great matchmakers.  The only women I've met are Faxon, some Russian gal who loves Salo, and a brainy gal named Hailey, and she's too short for me.”

“Not to mention, she could be your daughter.”

“Speak for yourself,” the brown-haired Jack quickly retorted.  “What really annoys me is that Thor butted his butt in and insisted I be part of Jackson's team.”

“You weren't always on the same team?” Jack asked in a bit of a wispy voice.

“I had my own team.  Thor checks in one day, reviews the teams, and then suggests strongly that I be transferred.  He left behind some doohickey for the scientists to play it in gratitude for the change, so here I am, second banana to a shaggy-haired geek.”

“You don't ... like Daniel?”

“He's okay, but he sneezes a lot.”

Jack couldn't help but smiled; still, the conversation was very baffling.

====

Jack, Daniel, and Sam had just come together in the hallway, leaving the three visitors in each of their assigned VIP quarters, when General Landry rounded the corner.

 “Jack, what's the story on our guests?” Landry asked as he joined the trio.

“We're still working on it,” Jack answered.

“Sir, the reality these three come from is unlike the others we've dealt with previously,” Sam advised.  She glanced at her teammates and opined, “I think we need to talk about what we've learned.”  When Landry nodded but didn't move, she added, “Um, privately ... Sir.”

Landry grew suspicious, but he had to trust SG-1, whether they were retired or not.  He nodded and returned to his office.

“Let's find somewhere more private,” Daniel suggested.

“I know just the place,” a mischievous Jack stated.

====

“You'd think they'd let someone else use this space,” Daniel remarked as he entered his old corner office on the eighteenth floor.

“They want us back, but they can't have us,” Jack replied as he opened Daniel's old desk and grinned.  Pulling out the remote, he pressed the button and saw the lights of the security recording equipment turn off.  “Best gift you ever gave us, Carter.”

“Thank you, I guess,” Sam replied as she closed the door behind her, noticing Jack was walking over to the other door to ensure it was shut as well.

Now the three gathered around the empty table on one side of the room.  Daniel brought over a stool for the pregnant woman to sit on and then positioned himself at the head of the table.  He leaned over slightly, his hands gripping the edge of the table loosely.  Jack was to his right, on the lengthy side of the worktable, opposite Sam.

“Who wants to go first?” the general asked.

After comparing notes, SG-1 remained confused at the presence of their counterparts and the differences in their realities.

“It's Thor,” Sam declared.  “He's the key.”

“But why?” Jack responded.

“Or how?” Daniel questioned with raised eyebrows.  “Our Thor always knew more than us, but that's because we were new to exploration.  He wasn't a fortune teller.”

“Look, from the beginning, Thor suspected the general had the genetic link.  We know the Asgard built on that,” Sam reminded.

“He keeps saying we're still important somehow,” Daniel agreed.

“Sir, Daniel, there is no ... you in the other reality,” Sam pointed out, referring to the couple's love affair.

“The captain isn't happy about playing second fiddle to a ...”

Daniel nodded and completed for his husband, “... geek.”  He sighed, “Okay, so let's just say for the sake of argument that the Thor of that reality wants us, them, together.  We still don't know how or why he'd want that.  He can't know the future.”

“Actually, Daniel, we don't know what their future is.  Look at all the differences between our world and theirs.”

“What are you saying?” Jack queried of his second-in-command.

“When we first met Thor, he sounded like he knew a lot that we didn't.  We didn't understand what he was talking about half the time.”

“Carter ...”

“General, maybe their Thor just knows more, and because we don't know what the problems are for the Asgard in that reality, it just feels like he's ...”

“A fortune teller?” Jack quipped.  “I don't buy it.”

“We're missing something,” Daniel asserted.

“Like what?” the older man petitioned.

“I have no idea,” the archaeologist sighed, his head lowering as his hands joined together on the tabletop.

The three continued to toss out ideas and discuss possibilities, but nothing made sense.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack whined.  “This is crazy.  Maybe he's just being a matchmaker.”

“Right,” Daniel responded dryly.

“Sir, I think you've done it again,” Sam stated with a smile.

“Now what?” Jack returned.

“Maybe he is playing matchmaker,” Sam put forth.  “You said that the captain was told to join Daniel's team.”

“And Daniel said at one point that he was told Jack was vital to his future,” Daniel added.

“How would Thor know anything about their personal lives?” Jack refuted with uncertainty.

“Maybe we just have to accept that somehow he does,” Daniel suggested.

“Daniel!”

“Jack, nothing else makes sense.  Maybe somehow Thor does know something; maybe we just need to go with it.”

“Daniel could be right, Sir,” Sam theorized.  “With all they've told us, the one thing we know is that there is no SGC there.  Maybe there needs to be, and maybe to make that happen, somehow you two need to be together.”

“Carter, what makes us,” Jack moved his finger back and forth to point at his lover and then himself, “so dang important?”  A glare from Daniel caused him to clear his throat.  “You know what I mean!”

“Yes, I do.  Sam, I admit we've all played an important part of the program, but we did it long before Jack and I were together.”

“In *our* reality, Daniel.  Things are different there, and maybe ...”

“Maybe the worst hasn't happened there yet,” Daniel put forward, getting on board with Sam's theory.  “The Replicators?”

“They could be coming,” Sam replied.

Then Daniel made an unhappy realization and expressed a frightening, “Oh, gawd.”

In an instant, the other two knew what Daniel had thought of.  Internal shivers from bad memories filled them all.

“The Ori,” all three teammates spoke at once.

“We're still just guessing,” Jack told the other two.

“I hate to say this ...” the archaeologist began.

“Then don't,” Jack quipped.

“... but maybe it's something that hasn't even happened yet.”

“Daniel, I told you not to say that,” Jack groaned.

“All I'm saying is that it could be a number of things, things that have already happened to us or maybe something in the future.”

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, the point is that there is no way we are going to know for sure.”

“Which gets us nowhere,” Jack snapped.  ~Gotta love Thor, but this reminds of how frustrating those little guys were.~

“We need to talk to Thor,” the archaeologist put forward.

====

In a quirk of luck, so the trio assumed, Thor was in the area.  He beamed SG-1 up to give them privacy, something which caused Landry even more consternation about not being clued in as yet on what had been learned.

“I cannot help you, O'Neill,” Thor declared after hearing the story.

“Thor, you have to know something,” Jack maintained.

“The Asgard do not know the future.”

“You're hiding something,” the general claimed in a higher-pitched tone that was his norm.

“Thor, we have to send them back soon, and without knowing why they're here and why the you in their universe sent them, we can't help them,” Daniel pointed out.

“We need your help, Thor,” Sam pleaded.

“What we need is the truth,” Jack announced, his eyes boring into those of the alien.  “Another Earth is counting on you.”

“*Another Thor* is counting on you,” Daniel prodded with a bob of his head and slightly raised eyebrows.

The Asgard commander gave one prolonged blink of his black eyes.  He'd made a decision.

“We have attempted to build a device that would allow us to contact the Asgard of other realms,” Thor admitted.  “Our hope is that in doing so, we would find the solution to our problem.”

“Wow,” Daniel heard himself say.

Asgard bodies were essentially cloned shells that held their minds and souls.  Sadly, without genetic diversity, the race was deteriorating.  They weren't sure how long they had left to find a solution to their grim situation.  The Asgard were a dying race, and time was not on their side.

“We have not been successful,” Thor advised with some sadness.

“But it's possible other realities have,” Daniel noted with some excitement.

“And whatever they've found caused the Asgard to save Earth,” Sam continued.

“And get us together,” Daniel surmised as he looked at his husband.  “Jack, the Thors of the other realities connect us with the success of the Stargate Program, and ... and, well, maybe we are.  Maybe there is some cosmic connection.”

“That's what my mother said.”

Stunned, Jack and Daniel faced their friend, both shaking their heads a bit in confusion.

“I told you my mother in their reality is an author,” Sam informed quietly.  “I didn't tell you her chosen specialty.”

“Which was?” Jack prompted.

“The paranormal.  According to their Sam, my ... her mother is big into the spirit world.  She had a dream about two men, explorers, who were lovers.  Oh, by the way, same sex marriage hasn't been an issue there for years.”

“Lucky them,” Jack sighed, regretting that so much of America, and the world, was still fighting the concept that two people of the same sex had the right to love within the sacred boundaries of marriage.

“Sam, what else did she dream?” Daniel inquired.

“The two men were part of something that included a giant, turning circle.  She said going through the circle would change the world for the better.  She couldn't explain more, but it was the dream that helped Sam decide to leave NASA and join the PPC.”

“I don't get it,” Jack conceded.

“Mom told her that she had to be there.”

“Because she, you, are part of the team,” Daniel deduced knowingly.

“Yes,” Sam acknowledged.  “Mom said they couldn't do it alone.  She couldn't explain how or why, but she told her that she had to find the team with an Air Force officer and a scientist.”

“We're the only possibilities?” Daniel questioned.

“Well, according to Sam, PP-13 is the fifth team she's been on.”

“They let her transfer that frequently?” an amazed Jack questioned.

“Her husband is an ambassador, remember,” Sam stated.  “He makes the requests, and no one asks questions.”

“I remember Faxon,” Jack told his 2IC without saying anything more.

She smiled joylessly as she recalled, “He was a good man, and he still is in that reality.”

“You must help the Asgard of the other realities,” Thor insisted.

“We'll try,” Daniel agreed.

====

Their game plan revised from what they'd determined after discussing the situation, SG-1 split up once again.  Sam again focused on her counterpart, while Jack and Daniel began again session with their look-alikes.

“Okay, this is going to sound strange,” Daniel began, licking his lips from nervousness.  “Uh, well ... Jack?”

“Who, me?”

“You are the general.”

“General?” the captain echoed.  “You're a friggin' general.”

“Yes,” Jack affirmed enthusiastically as he extended his pointed finger outward.  “And you can be, too.”

“Maybe in this reality ...”

“No, in yours,” Daniel put forth.  “Look, we don't think we should tell you too much, but you have to believe us when we say that the Stargate is going to be a huge endeavor for both of you, for your Sam, and for Earth.  It's ... it's bigger than you can imagine, and what you're going to find will awaken things in both of you that you have no idea exist.”

“He means there's a lot to see through the Stargate, and you two are vital to that happening in your reality,” Jack clarified.

“And how do we do that?” the skeptical other Jack answered.

“You're going to have to figure that out for yourselves,” Daniel answered.  “But, Thor and the Asgard are the good guys, and they need you, desperately.”

“How can we help them?” Jack inquired, even more wary than before.

~Let's play 'Thor Hints',~ Jack mused to himself.  “How about we say that after going through the Stargate and learning what it can do, you'll have the answers.”

“How about you talk straight?” the general's counterpart suggested curtly.

“Fine.  If you do don't join forces and work together on this thing, not only will Earth probably fall to some *really bad* bad guys who make the Goa'uld look like angels, but you'll both be miserable for the rest of your solitary lives.”

“Excuse me?” the Daniel look-alike responded.

Jack and Daniel shared a look, a couple sighs, and the realization that they were just going to have to bite the bullet.

“Captain, he may be a geek, but don't you think he's sexy?” Jack cajoled in a leading manner.

“And I know he's loud and grating, and he loves to give orders, but don't you see how much he cares about the world?” Daniel offered to his look-alike.

“The world?” Jack repeated with big eyes.  “I call you sexy, and you're talking about the world?”

“I'm trying to build up to this.”

“Daniel?”

“Jack?”

“Building up to it isn't going to work.”

“It might.”

“I don't think so.”

“We have to try.”

“You know I how I feel about words,” Jack reminded.

“Give it a chance.”

“No!”

“Yes!”

“No!”

“Why not?”

“Because we've been here for hours, and I've been dying to do this for almost as long.”

In an instant, Jack took hold of his husband and placed a gigantic kiss on his lips.  The kiss deepened as Daniel's arms embraced his Love.  Slowly, his hands rose until his fingers tickled the back of Jack's neck.  Sounds of passion and contentment spewed forth.

The other Jack and Daniel both stood up in shock and were uncertain how to react.

“Geez, I love you,” Jack declared to his husband when the kiss ended.

“I love you, too, Jack, so much,” Daniel promised from the depths of his heart.

It took a few seconds and then the couple faced their look-alikes and saw their astonished expressions.

“Don't knock it until you've tried it,” Jack told the two men.

“Listen, our pasts are a little different, but from our experiences, and we have had a few with alternate realities, parallel realities, and different universes, when we're together, we're at our best, and we're happier.”

“I don't think so,” the captain negated with raised hands.

“You don't know him yet,” Jack stated.  “I know he can be infuriating, but he's the moral center of your soul, whether you know it yet or not.”  He walked forward and added, “Sara was a wonderful woman.  If you want to know the truth, I still love her.  Danny knows that, but the love that he and I have is different, grander, broader in ways that I can't even express.  I have a hunch that even with the differences between our realities, you two are meant to be.”

“The hair,” the visiting Jack bemoaned.

“You'll learn to love it,” Jack responded.  “Trust me.”  He walked closer and promised, “It will grow on you, and before you say it, I know he's a toothpick, but you can bulk him up, like my Danny.”

The other Jack looked over at his teammate, trying to envision a change in his look.

Meanwhile, Daniel focused on his other self and probed, “What do you think?”

“I don't know what to think.”

~Interesting.  Well, things are different there.~  In a straightforward tone, Daniel asserted, “You've already thought about it.”

“What?” the other Jack called out in utter cynicism, the comment drawing him out of his visualizations.

“With us, Jack fell for me first.  I found out, and it scared me to death, except that one day, I knew I was in love with him.  That scared me, too, but, uh, I told him.”

“If it matters, we're married, and we have a dozen kids.”

“Wh...a...huh?” a stammering Daniel from the other reality asked.

“Okay, now that's insane,” the other Jack returned, certain he was for sure in a nightmare.

“We adopted a bunch and we used a surrogate,” Daniel explained.  He returned to his original line of questioning.  “Daniel, you've thought about Jack ... like that, haven't you?”

“It's not uncommon for a man to notice another man,” the other Daniel claimed somewhat softly.

“No, it's not,” Daniel agreed.  He smiled and added, “Especially when he has such strong hands to make you feel safe.”

“Okay, this is *so* not happening,” Visitor Jack ranted, walking to the other side of the room.

“Don't be an idiot,” Jack told the other version of himself.

“He's a pain in the butt,” the captain accused.

“You'll learn to love that, too,” Jack asserted with a grin.

“You're no picnic, either,” Daniel snapped.

“Taking orders from a geek isn't my cup of tea,” the other Jack stated in annoyance

“I've never seen you drink tea.  You're too busy downing Coors,” came the retort from the other Daniel.

~Coors?~ Jack thought.  ~Okay, mark that down as another difference.~

“And you never shut up,” the other Jack accused.

“It beats the silent treatment from you!” the other Daniel responded soundly.

“Whoa!” Jack called out, raising his hands to stop the verbal battle.  He looked at his counterpart and advised, “Captain, you have a choice.  One, mourn Sara and Charlie for the rest of your life and probably ending up killing yourself at some point.  Two, give your Daniel a chance.  Talking isn't that bad, and he has a great ear.  Besides, if you're honest with yourself, you like museums.”

“Hockey's doable, too,” Daniel interjected.  “Just ... give it a chance.  Try being friends first, which I realize sounds odd, but sometimes differences aren't all that real.  Sometimes, they lead to understanding, and even more.”

“Spend some time under the stars,” Jack urged.  He cringed as he added, “Talk to each other.”

Daniel looked at his counterpart and opined, “Even with family, being alone in your soul is the real nightmare.  You might be surprised what another point of view can mean; it, uh, could change your life.”

“It can't hurt to try,” Jack coaxed.

The other Jack looked over at his teammate, uncertain what to think.  It sounded insane to him.  Yet, he actually had contemplated suicide and was curious at his counterpart's mention of the action.

~Sexy?  With that long hair, how could you tell?~ the other Jack pondered.  ~Bulk him up?  Geez, that could be a friggin' nightmare.~

~Gawd, I'm embarrassed.  Why did I admit that?  How did that Daniel know how alone I've felt lately?~

“Consider it, fellas,” Jack instructed.

“One chat on the roof deck at a time,” Daniel put forth with a smile.

“How do we get home?” the other Daniel asked.

“That's Carter's department,” Jack answered.

“Carter?”

“Sam,” Daniel clarified, realizing the two men didn't realize Faxon's maiden name was Carter.

====

“Good luck,” Daniel expressed with a smile as he, Jack, and Sam said goodbye to the travelers.

“I still say it was a green screen,” Jack opined when the Stargate shut down.

The odd line prompted both Daniel and Sam to stare at Jack in disbelief, but then both glanced at each other and let out small smiles, knowing the silver-haired man would always utter strange musings that would leave them shaking their heads. Neither would have it any other way.

“I'm just glad Sam was able to give me enough information so that I could figure out where they came from,” Sam spoke about her other self.

“Jack, I'm eager for your report,” Landry stated upon entering the embarkation room.

“I'm sure you are, Hank, but we have kids to take care of,” Jack replied.

“We'll come back in a day or two,” Daniel assured.

“I'm really tired, Sir,” Sam sighed as pathetically as possible while patting her stomach for emphasis.  ~I really, really want to go home and put my feet up.~

“Dismissed,” the partially frustrated base commander ordered.  ~I have a feeling I'm only going to get half the story, if that.~

====

Their lovemaking had been extra passionate that night, and now in the aftermath, Daniel was lying against his husband, placing occasional kisses on the man's hairy chest.  He felt the strong hands of his Love caressing his back.  It was golden, and he trembled from the joy that filled his heart.

“Do you think they'll get together?” Jack asked suddenly, his eyes looking up at the ceiling as he contemplated the two men from the other reality.

“Yeah, I do,” Daniel answered.  “Daniel wants it.”

“That Jack wasn't so eager.”

“Were you at first?”

Jack let out a chuckle, remembering how he'd try to convince himself initially that he wasn't really in love with Daniel.

“No,” Jack admitted.

“Time, Babe.  They just need some time to become friends first, and then whatever happens, happens.”

“I love you, Angel.”

“I love you, too, my Silver Fox.”

Just as the lovers were about to kiss some more, Jack smirked, “Danny, I forgot to thank you for my new aftershave.”

The general was referring to his discovery that his usual manly aftershave had been replaced with a very feminine scent of floral tones, primarily gardenias and roses. He hadn't made the realization quick enough to avoid spreading it all over his face.

Amused and pleased with his April Fool's Day prank, the younger man's smile grew as he replied, “I thought you'd like it.”

“Goes well with lemon verbena.”

Chuckling, Daniel agreed, “It sure does, Jack. Man, does it ever.”

Perhaps it was one of Fate's ironies that Jack and Daniel had met themselves in a totally unfamiliar way on the first day of April, the day known for mischievous pranks such as switching out a loved one's shampoo and aftershave. Whatever the reason, it really didn't matter, not to the eternal lovers at least. What was important to Jack and Daniel was that they'd never forget those two images of themselves, and they hoped the other men's world would be at least half as happy as their own.

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