Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Spoilers: Brief Candle, One False Step (minor), 1969
Written: March 28-31, April 7-11,17,26,29-30, May 1, 2007
Summary: A trip back in time brings temptation to Jack and Daniel.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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 fic(s), “A Matter of Choice”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Pam, Linda, Sara, Claudia!
“We do have a mission today, you know,” Jack said over the phone as he
used a wooden spoon to beat the batter.
“I know, Jack. I just overslept,” Daniel replied, yawning as he sat up in bed. He dropped the phone to stretch his arms. Still yawning, he stood up and stretched again, this time his long arms reaching high into the air as he stood on the balls of his feet. He groaned as he leaned backwards, his hands rubbing the base of his back. As he yawned again, he picked up the phone, silently chuckling as his lover spoke, totally oblivious that he'd not been listening for the last minute or so. “Right, Jack.”
“I'm making waffles, Danny, from *scratch*,” Jack whined, disappointed that his lover's tardiness in waking up would mean they wouldn't see each other until their briefing at 0830 hours.
“Uh, I'm sorry, but ...” the younger man shrugged, then began to fidget a little. “Jack, I really need to ...” He paused as he looked in the direction of the bathroom. “See you at work.”
“Dan...iel,” Jack grumbled as he stopped beating long enough to put the phone down on the counter. ~We need to get a cordless phone for your bedroom.~ Suddenly, the colonel wasn't in the mood for waffles. Sighing, he put the batter in the refrigerator and grabbed a banana. “Next time, Space Monkey, I'm giving you a wake-up call.”
“Nice to see you made it, Doctor Jackson,” Jack quipped when the archaeologist entered the briefing room, bleary-eyed, coffee in hand. ~Wow, he looks irresistible. Geez, O'Neill, get a grip. Down boy!~
“Jack, General Hammond isn't even here yet,” Daniel responded, inhaling the addictive scent of his much loved caffeine. “Hey, Sam, Teal'c,” he greeted with a small smile as he sat down in his chair, next to Sam and opposite his lover.
“DanielJackson,” Teal'c acknowledged.
~Gawd, Jack looks good,~ Daniel thought to himself. ~Boy, did I miss him last night. Maybe tonight we can ...~
“Daniel, if you get a chance before we leave, I'd like you to look at ...” Sam began, her words interrupted by the appearance of the major general.
~What did she just say?~ Daniel asked, trying to tear his focus away from his lover. ~Concentrate, Jackson, you're at work,~ he berated.
Immediately, Jack and Sam stood, waiting for Hammond to take his spot.
As the two military officers of SG-1 sat back down, Sam whispered, “I'll talk to you about it later.”
~Huh, talk about what?~ Daniel wondered, giving Sam a brief smile to cover his cluelessness.
“Colonel, have we received the MALP report on P2X-555?” Hammond questioned, glancing around at the various members of SG-1.
“Ah, right in front of you, Sir,” Jack responded, leaning forward. His friend, the general, seemed a bit distracted. “Everything looks good.”
“I think we should be able to ...” Sam began.
“Just be careful out there,” Hammond said, getting up and walking into his office, leaving a very confused SG-1 behind.
The entire team stood up as the general exited the room.
Twirling his pen in his fingers, Daniel asked, “What was that?”
“I'll see if I can find out,” Jack said. “Gear up. We leave in an hour.”
“What did you find out from the general?” Daniel asked as the lovers walked towards the gate room to leave on their mission.
“Nothing,” Jack answered. “He was on the phone; he waved me off.”
“He's been a little distracted this week,” the archaeologist observed.
“We'll have to find out why when we get back,” Jack stated as they turned the corner to enter the embarkation room. “T, ya ready?”
“I am always ready, O'Neill.”
“Of course, you are,” Jack replied, walking to stand at the base of the ramp.
Daniel followed, and the two began to talk about other things while they waited for their fourth teammate, who was in the control room.
“Jack, I'm sorry about ... missing breakfast,” Daniel said quietly, not wanting anyone to overhear.
“How much sleep did you get?” Jack questioned.
“Six hours,” Daniel answered. Seeing the older man's face tighten and knowing a reprimand was coming his direction, he held out his hand and said, “Don't say it, Jack.”
“Archaeology journals,” Jack groused.
~Yeah, and not having a certain pillow,~ Daniel thought, but then verbally retaliating, “Airplane magazines.”
“Hey, those are educational!” the older man argued. After a moment, he looked up towards the control room, watching as Sam worked on one of the computers. Quietly, he asked, “What is she doing?”
Daniel answered, “Uh, she said something about having to time the calculations exactly right this time of year.”
“This time of year? What difference does it make?” the colonel questioned.
“Oh, she said something about solar ...” Daniel paused, searching his memory. “Uh, well, to be honest with you, I wasn't really paying attention.” ~I was kind of distracted with thoughts of something ... someone else, at the time,~ the archaeologist mused.
“Really?” Jack asked incredulously, finding it odd that his prattling lover had apparently tuned out the other prattling scientist on the team. Seeing Daniel’s raised eyebrows, he twigged, ~Oh! That’s my boy!~ he thought proudly. ~For crying out loud, not now, O'Neill!~ Shuffling slightly and shouting upwards, he barked, “Carter?”
Talking over the microphone, Sam replied, “Almost there, Sir. This time of year, the direct line between P2X-555 and the Earth takes us within seventy-thousand miles of the sun. I have to update the computer's drift calculation to include gravitational space-time warping.”
Jack paused, then responded, “We know that. Let's go!”
“Jack, she's doing her job. I mean, uh, if the drift calculation is off we could end up ... where we don't wanna be, like a hostile planet, or something. Or ... maybe we'd end up ... lost in space,” the archaeologist teased lightly.
“Good show!” Jack responded lightheartedly. “Doctor Smith was my favorite character,” the colonel stated about the loveable, sometimes annoying character from the sixties television series.
“He was the crazy one, afraid of everything and every ... alien, who ran around with his hands up all the time, right?” Daniel asked, having only seen the show a few times during special marathons on television that Jack had made him watch.
“He wasn't crazy, Daniel. He was misunderstood. Besides, I always thought Doctor Smith was much smarter than he let on,” Jack opined.
“You would,” Daniel replied snarkily.
“What?” Jack questioned.
“You're saying Doctor Smith's *dumb* demeanor was just an act, a ... facade?” Daniel queried.
“Absolutely,” Jack answered.
Daniel gave his lover a smug smile, but said nothing.
Jack sneered, mumbling, “Where's Carter?” When she finally walked in, he quipped, “Ah! Done already?”
Finally, the Stargate engaged, and the team stepped through the event horizon, expecting to set foot on P2X-555. Instead, SG-1 found themselves right back in the gate room; a strangely empty gate room. Cautiously, they walked down the ramp.
Jack looked back at the Stargate just in time to see the wormhole shut down and the entire Gate and back wall behind it ripple away.
“Whoa!” Jack exclaimed. “Did you see that?” he asked his teammates, just as the other three walls of the gate room rippled away as well, leaving SG-1 standing on what appeared to be a launch pad inside a missile silo.
“Uh, Jack, do you see this?” Daniel questioned, looking upwards.
~Yeah, but ...~ Following his lover's gaze, Jack looked up and wasn't particularly reassured by the sight that met his eyes. ~Crap!~ “You know, this looks suspiciously like the butt end of a Titan missile.”
“Standing by for test burn in T-minus twenty seconds,” a voice said over the public address system.
Jack straightened, shocked by what he'd just heard.
“What is a ‘test burn’?” Teal'c enquired.
“Just what it sounds like,” Jack replied, alarmed. “Any ideas here?” he called out as he ran to the nearest bay door and began pounding on it. “ABORT!”
Daniel ran to the other bay doors checking each of them to see if any would open, while Sam worked on a series of electrical sockets trying to short circuit the system. Teal'c simply stood, looking up at the rocket, and reached for his zat gun.
“Fifteen seconds,” the voice counted down.
“ABORT!” Jack shouted again, as Sam moved her attention to some nearby meters while Daniel continued checking the bay doors.
“Ten ... nine ... eight ...” the voice over the intercom continued.
Calmly, Teal'c stood beneath the missile, his zat now activated and aimed at the rocket.
“ABORT!” Jack shouted again.
“... seven ... six ... five ...”
**Jack?** Daniel called out in a panic, using their special non-verbal communication.
**Danny, protect yourself; cover up as much as you can,** Jack advised, knowing their self-preservation attempts would be futile, but needing to try, nevertheless.
Hearing his lover, Daniel dived for cover, covering his head with his arms. About the same time, Jack and Sam flattened themselves against the wall, their backs to the missile.
“... four ... three ...”
**I love you, Danny.**
**I love you, too, Jack, so much.**
Still calm and having not moved from his spot beneath the rocket, Teal'c fired his zat.
“... two ... one. Ignition,” the countdown technician stated.
The room was filled with silence. To Jack's, Daniel's, and Sam's surprise, nothing happened. After a second or two, Jack and Sam lifted their heads.
**Danny, Love, you okay?** Jack questioned his lover.
**Uh, Yeah,** Daniel answered as he slowly stood up. **Gawd, Jack, I thought that was it.**
**Me too, but we're still here and in one piece.** Turning to Teal'c, Jack questioned, “How'd you know that would work?”
“I did not,” Teal'c replied flatly.
~Sometimes, he worries me,~ Jack thought silently, though his attention was quickly shifted from his teammate to the sound of the doors opening.
Quickly, armed personnel entered the room, ordering SG-1 to their knees. The soldiers questioned the strangers, unafraid to use force to control the intruders. However, realizing they were still in Cheyenne Mountain, which had been a missile facility decades ago, Sam warned her CO not to say anything.
Before the soldiers had a chance to become too violent with SG-1, a voice over the intercom ordered, “Take them to the holding room.”
“Yes, Sir,” the sergeant in control of the soldiers responded, looking up.
“No, take me to your CO,” Jack demanded, only to have the soldier slam the butt of his rifle in his face.
**Jack** Daniel called out mentally to his lover, forcing himself to stay still and not run over to his lover's side.
**I'm okay, Danny,** Jack reassured as they were pulled to their feet and taken to a holding cell. As they were led out, he looked back at the soldier who had inflicted his pain and snarked, “I'm okay; thanks for asking.”
“Be quiet, and move,” the soldier ordered.
“No sense of humor,” Jack complained, groaning slightly when the man's rifle stabbed the small of his back.
**Just feeling them out,** Jack explained.
**If you feel them out anymore, you'll be in the infirmary.**
**Yeah, and the doctor here probably isn't a looker like the Doc,** Jack spoke about Janet Fraiser. Seeing a bit of a jealous glare from his lover, he smiled. **Don't you think the Doc is a looker?**
Daniel just stared, deciding not to respond to the question. At the moment, bickering with his soulmate wasn't a good idea. They needed to focus on getting home, safe and sound.
~Then we can bicker,~ Daniel decided. ~Or ... do other things.~
“Well, this is a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into,” Jack quipped when the door shut behind the SGC's flagship team, confining them to a small holding cell that had a couple of bunk beds and a small table inside it.
“It's not like we did it on purpose,” Daniel spoke as he walked to his right to where one of bunk beds sat, debating on whether or not to lay down on it.
“When do we ever do anything on purpose?” Jack replied dryly as he sat down on the bottom bunk of another bed which faced the door. “Carter, what just happened?”
Having sat down with Teal'c at the table in the middle of the room, the blonde answered, “I'm fairly certain that we've traveled back in time, roughly about thirty years.” After Jack looked up at her, she added, “For a second or two, I think we were in both time frames simultaneously, which is why the Stargate seemed to be there one minute and was gone the next.”
“Little bump in the calculations, Captain?” Jack questioned sarcastically.
“I'm sorry, Sir. I don't know what to say.”
“Well, I'll tell you what. Get us back home, and we'll say it never happened,” Jack retorted. ~I've done the sixties; once was enough.~
“Or get us back before we left, and it won't happen,” the archaeologist theorized. Seeing he had his teammates' attention, he elaborated, “Well, think about it. We're the first people in human history to go back in time, well, for all we know. If we could figure out how to do this again, just think of what we could do. We could actually ... visit Babylon, we could ... we could ... we could see the Great Wall of China being built.”
“Or prevent regrettable events from your history from ever occurring,” Teal'c put forth.
Alarmed, Sam objected, “*No*! That's exactly what we can't do.”
“Why not?” Jack asked curiously. ~Not that I'm anxious for any do-overs, except ... maybe ... one,~ he thought about his son's tragic death.
Sam answered, “Because of the grandfather paradox.” After a moment, she explained, “If you went back fifty years and murdered your own grandfather, your own father would never have been born.”
“All right. So, you're saying that if we change our own past ...” Daniel began.
“We could change our world in ways that we can't possibly imagine. We might even cease to exist, along with everything and everyone we know,” Sam completed. As the conversation continued and the team realized they couldn't tell anyone in this timeline about the Goa'uld, she stated, “We have to concentrate on damage control. At the very least, destroy our advanced weapons and technology.”
“That's going to be a little tough,” Jack replied. ~Not to mention, it takes away our advantage.~
“We also cannot tell *anyone anything* about who we are or where we're from,” Sam insisted strongly, holding up her SG-1 badge.
“This is a top secret facility. *Anonymity* does not go over big here,” a frustrated Jack pointed out.
Sternly, Sam warned, “We cannot tell them we're from the future, Sir, even if it means ...”
At that moment, the door unlocked, and two guards and another soldier entered. The soldier looked over the group, then walked up to Daniel. Speaking Russian, he asked Daniel if they were Soviet spies.
Without thinking, Daniel answered in Russian, saying, “Nyet.”
~I can't believe he just did that,~ Jack thought angrily. “Daniel?”
Naively, the linguist pointed at the man and responded, “He just asked if we were Soviet spies. I just ...” He paused, suddenly realizing the error he'd made. By answering the soldier's question, he'd indicated that he both understood and spoke Russian. In the 1960's USA, that wasn't a good idea. ~I'm such an idiot!~
“Come with me,” the soldier ordered Jack.
“Sure,” Jack agreed, standing. “You bet.”
In disbelief at what he'd done, Daniel walked over to the bed on the right and put his head in his hands on the top bunk. He just couldn't believe that he had just put Jack and the team in danger the way he just had.
As he walked out the door, Jack muttered sarcastically, “Nyet?”
Once the door closed, locking them inside again, Sam stood up and walked to her friend, saying, “Daniel, don't worry about ...”
“... about putting Jack in a bad position? I wasn't thinking, Sam, and that's inexcusable,” the linguist spoke as he turned to face her.
“No, that's just believing in people,” Sam refuted.
“I should know better; Jack's ... he's ... never mind,” a dejected Daniel expressed as he walked to the side of the bunk bed and sat down on the lower level.
Teal'c stood, walking to face the younger man, and intoned, “DanielJackson, you are a linguist, are you not?”
“I'm supposed to be,” Daniel sighed sarcastically, not looking up at the Jaffa.
“It is your job to translate unknown languages for O'Neill. You were not wrong to do your job,” Teal'c insisted.
“Teal'c, you don't understand,” Daniel replied, standing up and beginning to pace. “What I did, for the time we're apparently in, was dumb. Knowing Russian isn't considered a ... safe thing right now, I mean, then. They could do anything to him to make him talk, all because I made a mistake.”
“The colonel will handle it,” Sam assured.
“The colonel will kill me when we get home; *if* we get home,” Daniel corrected as he continued to pace the room, refusing to be consoled for his faux pas.
Sam and Teal'c shared a look. Daniel was inconsolable at the moment, and his two teammates both knew that only one person would be able to reassure him at this point.
The linguist continued to pace the room, occasionally shaking his head and letting out a sarcastic “Nyet” as he walked.
~Dumb thing to have done, Jackson. He'll kick you off this team. He's just humoring you.~ Daniel's insecurities taunted him. ~You're not military; you're not as strong as he is, or, gawd, Teal'c. I'm not even sure I could take Sam in a fight. My strengths are my skills. If I can't use common sense, then I have ... nothing. Dumb, dumb, dumb!~ He sighed, then closed his eyes as he once again leaned his head against the top bunk. “Nyet. Right.”
After being interrogated by the base commander, Jack was returned to the holding cell.
As the door locked behind him, Jack looked across the room at his archaeologist and said, “That was not fun.”
~Gawd, he hates me, and he has a right to. Who knows what they just put him through,~ Daniel bemoaned inwardly.
“Sir, are you all right?” Sam questioned, walking up to her CO.
Jack smirked, “Nyet, Carter. I just spent an hour in a small room with some cigarette smoking idiot who doesn't even watch 'Star Trek'.”
“Never mind,” Jack said. ~If this is thirty years in the past, Trek is on the air. It's people like him who got the show cancelled,~ he sighed, referring to the base commander's failure to recognize the first alias Jack had given him in the interrogation, that of 'James T. Kirk', which was the name of the captain on the classic science fiction series.
“Did you learn anything, Colonel?” Sam asked.
“No,” Jack sighed. “We're going to have to find a way out of here.”
For a few minutes, the teammates remained quiet, each of them trying to come up with a solution to their problem. Sam and Teal'c both sat back down at the table, while Daniel reminded Jack of a schoolboy in trouble as he stood in the corner of the room, his back to the others with his arms folded.
~Geez, he's blaming himself, and I guess I haven't helped him feel any better, either.~ Nonchalantly, Jack walked over to his life partner and said quietly, “Daniel, let it go.”
Daniel turned to face the older man and replied, “Mistakes like that could get you ... and Sam and Teal'c,” he looked over at their teammates for a second, “killed.”
“Don't be a drama queen,” Jack responded.
“What?” Daniel asked, confused and a bit upset at the phrase used by the colonel.
“Danny, you forgot where you were and how important it is to be careful what we say here. Okay, fine. It's done. You won't do it again. Right?” Jack questioned pointedly.
“Of course not.”
“Then let it go, because if you let this fester, you'll make another mistake and if we're ...” Jack's words were interrupted by the unlocking of the door and the entrance of several guards. He looked to Daniel, saying, “Stay sharp.”
“Follow the sergeant, please,” a tall, somewhat familiar-looking man spoke.
Having no choice, SG-1 was taken to the parking level and told to get inside the back of a van.
“Just drop us off anywhere. We'll get home on our own,” Jack quipped, groaning when one of the soldier's pressed his gun sharply against the middle of his back, pushing him forward. “It was just a thought.”
Sam and Teal'c were handcuffed to a bench on one side of the van, while Jack and Daniel were handcuffed to the bench on the other side.
“Sweet,” Jack said, grimacing as the handcuff was shut, the action poking against his wrist and causing a twist of pain. As the soldiers backed away, exiting the blue van, he called out sarcastically, “Hey, if you let me drive, I can show you some really great spots. I remember the sixties.”
Without a response from the soldiers, the van doors shut, leaving the teammates alone in the back.
“You really remember the sixties, Sir? I didn't think you were that old,” Sam stated. Seeing the glare coming from the leader of SG-1 and hearing the stifled chuckle from Daniel, she let out a tiny cough and looked away, saying, “That didn't come out right.”
Jack just shook his head, sighing as the van began its journey.
Once the team was sure they could talk freely, they reviewed their situation, struggling to come up with any answers. They sat quietly, having no idea where they were going or how long they'd be traveling, each of them searching silently for a course of action.
Finally, just outside of Albuquerque, Jack spoke, “Listen. I don't know where we're headed, but they'll probably try to split us up. So we're not going to have much time to ...”
Sam interjected, “... escape and hopefully live out the rest of our lives without affecting history.”
“Or ...” Jack prodded, not happy with his second-in-command's completion of his statement.
The captain admitted, “I can't think of an 'or' at the moment, Sir.”
Surprised, Daniel asked, “No 'or'?”
Emphatically, Jack insisted, “There's an 'or'.”
~That's better,~ Daniel thought. “There's an 'or'?”
Wanting to inject some seriousness into their current situation, Sam maintained, “Sir, you can't just will something to happen because you want it to be a certain way.”
Undaunted, the colonel responded, “Captain ... where there's a will, there's an 'or'.” Seeing Sam's quizzical expression, he added, “... way.”
A moment later, as the foursome continued to talk, one of the van's front tires blew out, and the driver pulled over to the side of the road. While two of the military men worked on changing the tire, the third opened the door to the back of the van and entered, closing the door behind him.
Confronting the team was the somewhat familiar figure who had led them away from their holding cell. He informed SG-1 that he had arranged for the flat tire because after they'd been 'captured' at the base, he'd searched through their effects and found a note.
Suddenly, seeing the young soldier's name tag, Sam realized why the man was familiar. He was Lieutenant George Hammond, the future general who had seen SG-1 off on their mission just a couple of hours earlier.
Seeing Jack's continued confusion, Daniel instructed, **Jack, look at his name tag.**
**Holy moly!** Jack exclaimed as he read the name.
Sam turned to Jack and explained, “Sir, before we left, General Hammond gave me a note and told me to keep it in my vest pocket until I got to the other side.”
The young lieutenant pointed out, “It's addressed to me, in my handwriting.”
Intrigued, Jack asked, “What's it say?”
Hammond answered, “'Help them.'” A bit more sarcastically, he continued, “And seeing as helping you will undoubtedly lead to court-martial, I'd like to know why I would do that.”
Sam answered, “Because it's your idea.”
Jack smirked, “Albeit one you won't have for thirty years.”
The young Lieutenant Hammond was understandably skeptical of SG-1's claim to have traveled through time, and, once he had confirmed for SG-1 that the date was August 4, 1969, it was only Jack's knowledge that Hammond had watched the moon landing a few weeks earlier from his father's bedside in hospital, two days after his first heart attack that had persuaded the young lieutenant they were telling the truth.
Hammond unlocked their handcuffs, giving Sam the note, then sat down next to the captain as they continued to discuss the situation. As they talked, he reached down and handed Jack the zat gun he had covertly hidden, just in case. When asked, he told them that all of their equipment and gear was in a second van for security purposes.
Under Jack's direction, Hammond jumped out, pretending to need help from the other airman. Jack zatted them, after which he instructed the lieutenant to lay down on the road while SG-1 took cover.
When the second van stopped and the two military men exited the vehicle to investigate, Jack quickly zatted them. He moved to the back of the vehicle, immediately retrieving a GDO from the storage cases, which he tossed to Sam. Making sure everything they had brought with them through the Gate was in the two cases, including the videotape made at the base, the colonel calmly disintegrated them.
After jumping out of the van, the colonel asked Hammond, “Got any cash?”
“Uh, yeah, I might have some,” the lieutenant replied, pulling out a wad of cash and starting to fumble through it.
“That's good,” Jack responded, snatching the money from Hammond's hands and pocketing it. “I'll pay you back, with interest.”
As they walked forward, Sam warned Hammond, “One more thing. You have to keep everything you've seen and everything we've told you a secret, and I mean for the rest of your life.”
Having stopped walking again, the lieutenant spoke, “'General Hammond': I like the sound of that.” He looked at Jack, asking, “What are you going to do now?”
Not facing his future commanding officer, Jack re-engaged the zat weapon and answered, “Well, you're better off not knowing, but I do want you to know that what I'm about to do keeps you from getting court-martialed.” He turned, firing the zat at Hammond, who collapsed, unconscious. ~Most anyone else, I wouldn't feel guilty. Sorry, General.~ He looked at his teammates and stated, “We should get off this road; find the interstate.”
Silently, the team of explorers walked through the woods, none of them exactly sure where they were going or what they were going to do. At the moment, their goal was simply to get far enough away to avoid being tracked down by the military might of Cheyenne Mountain.
“Take ten,” Jack called out after a while.
Grateful for the break, Sam sat down on the ground. Not the least bit tired, Teal'c decided to walk the perimeter of the area. Jack and Daniel, meanwhile, sank down against the same tree, unaware the other had chosen the same spot until they were both seated, shoulders touching.
“Welcome to my tree,” Jack said.
“Thanks Jack. It's nice to know I’m still welcome ... at your tree,” Daniel responded, not really sure what he'd meant to say.
“Danny, you're always welcome,” Jack replied sincerely. After a quick look around, he covertly took his lover's hand, adding, “Always.”
Daniel sighed, “I'm sorry. I guess I'm still upset about what happened at the Mountain.”
“Danny, trust me. It didn't make any difference; not in the end, so let it go. We have other things to worry about. If you're focusing on it, you can't be your best, and I need you to be your best,” Jack spoke seriously.
The younger man stared at the older, surprised by the statement and the seriousness with which it had been spoken.
“Let it go,” Jack repeated, giving his lover a nod. In an attempt to change the subject, he asked, “Do you think Hammond will forget how much I owe him?”
Bowing his head and smiling slightly, Daniel licked his lips and then answered, “Nyet.”
Jack did a double-take at his youthful lover, then laughed, “Good one, Dannyboy.”
Seconds passed, and then Daniel squeezed his soulmate's hand a little tighter as he said, “Jack?”
“They're out there, alive,” the younger man stated, staring longingly up at the sky.
Jack didn't know what to say. He knew what his lover was referring to and wanted nothing more than to take him in his arms, but this was not the place. With their joined hands still covertly hidden, he stroked his thumb over Daniel’s hand as a show of support. He remained quiet and let his lover continue.
“It's summertime. It's so hot there, but it was what I knew. Summer. 1969. Daddy was working on a dig,” Daniel recalled.
“Danny, your father was always on a dig,” Jack replied jovially. ~Like father, like son.~
“No, he wasn't. Okay, maybe he was. I guess we all were,” Daniel admitted, smiling at the memory. “Egypt was one very big, big, big dig.”
Jack stared at his soulmate, watching him close his eyes and take a deep breath as he became lost in vague images that counted as childhood memories.
“I'm trying to remember,” Daniel said, an air of desperation in his voice. His face was scrunched, his concentration intense. “What ... what were we doing? 1969.”
“You were being a kid, loved by his parents. It doesn't matter what you were doing specifically,” Jack stated.
“I guess you're right,” Daniel said softly.
Seconds passed by in silence. Sam stood up and motioned that she was going to find Teal’c, leaving Jack and Daniel alone.
~Thanks, Carter,~ Jack silently expressed.
Daniel finally broke the silence, saying, “I could get a plane and ...”
“Danny, I know what you're thinking, but ...” Jack interrupted, only to have his own words cut off.
“No, Jack. I don't care about logic right now,” Daniel interrupted, turning to face the older man. “We went through all that ... that ... crap with the Keeper, reliving our nightmares, but ... this is real,” he argued, his animated hands gesturing to their surroundings. “I could go to Egypt, and ... maybe I could ... I could warn them.”
“How?” Jack asked. “You're a little boy to them. In fact, if you did go there, you'd see ... you.”
Daniel's head jerked up to his left to look at his lover. He hadn't really thought about that. Instead, his mind was consumed with altering his future.
“Besides, Carter says we could change our ....”
“Future?” Daniel completed for his Love. “I'm not sure that would be such a bad ...” Suddenly, he stopped. “Jack, I just meant ...”
“I know what you meant, Danny,” Jack sighed. “Warning your folks not to go to New York is tempting. You'd grow up with them, have the childhood you should have had,” Jack stated. He smiled forlornly, adding, “There's nothing wrong with wanting that.”
Suddenly, Daniel stood up and darted forward several yards. As Jack stood, he saw Sam and Teal'c walking back in his direction, assuming their rest period was over. He waved them off, shaking his head, and then moved to where his lover was standing, his arms crossed in front of him. The two men were standing beyond some brush, so that neither Sam nor Teal'c had a clear view of them.
“I could just ... go to the airport, get on a plane, and ...” Daniel began.
“And what, Danny? Travel halfway across the world to find your parents. Then what? 'Hi, Dad. Hi, Mom. It's me, Danny'. Is that what you're going to say? Add a little warning about never going to New York for an exhibit of something they haven't even discovered yet?”
“No, Jack. I'd tell them ... I'd ...” Daniel blinked. “I'd tell I love them, and I miss them. I'd ... say goodbye.”
Jack risked the move, reaching out to caress his Love's cheek, and replied, “Danny, you heard what Carter said. We could change our own lives in ways we can't possibly imagine, and we don't know how what we do might affect someone else, too,” Jack stated.
Turning away and walking a few steps, Daniel argued, “I haven't affected anyone. No one's life would change because of me.”
“Mine would,” Jack replied, his voice cracking slightly.
Daniel turned, staring into his lover's eyes and seeing the raw emotion. He suddenly found himself speechless.
“Danny ...” Jack sighed. “I love my family, too. There is nothing I'd rather do right now than swing by Chicago and visit my folks. We could even stop by the cabin and see my grandparents. I could go fishing with my grandfather; show him what I’ve learned.”
“Jack, don't make fun of me,” Daniel asked, closing his eyes against the onslaught of emotions. “All I want to do is see them, talk to them, tell ...” He blinked. “Maybe I'm a broken record, Jack, but I don't care. I want to see them and let them know how much I love and miss them, and, yes, I'd say goodbye.”
His heart aching, Jack refuted, “Danny, I'm not making fun of you. I know how you feel. I’m not even gonna start on the whole ‘what ifs’ with Charlie because I can't ... I just ... can't.” Taking a deep breath, he continued, “But do you know what I wouldn't give to have the chance to introduce you to my parents? I'll never get to do that. I'll never get to tell them how happy you make me.”
“Jack ...” Daniel mumbled, his unshed tears threatening to fall.
“I can't,” Jack repeated. “I don't fully understand all this timeline crap, but Carter says we can't change anything.”
Turning away for a minute, Daniel crossed his arms in a self-hug and, with his heart still ruling his mind, asked tentatively, “Could it really change that much?”
“Danny, if we do what you want, you'll grow up with your parents and have the childhood you should have had. I would give anything to make that happen, believe me; but what happens if whatever you change doesn't work and your parents are still killed? Do you really want yourself to go through everything again; perhaps worse this time round? And what about Carter? Don't you think she’s tempted to see her Mom? What kind of life is she gonna have if we stay here, always hiding, worrying about affecting the timeline? What about Teal’c? What happens when Junior grows up and wants out?” Jack asked about the symbiote the Jaffa carried within him.
Daniel's mouth opened. He hadn't thought about Sam and Teal'c.
“What about me?” Jack questioned quietly. “I’ll have no future, Danny.” As his lover turned to face him, he continued, “My life would be the same, except I'll die in Charlie's room, because the Air Force would never have tried to get me out of retirement, because you won't be there to unlock the mysteries of the Stargate.”
“Jack,” Daniel called out emotionally.
It took Jack two steps to close the gap between the two men. Quickly, he folded Daniel in a tight hug.
“Even if I didn't die, Danny, I know my life would be empty without you in it.”
“I know Sam's right, but ...” Daniel sniffled.
“But it hurts to be so close,” Jack completed for his soulmate. “We need you here now, Danny. *I* need you.”
There was a long pause as Jack and Daniel held each other.
Resigning himself to the truth, Daniel asked, “I really can't change my past, can I?”
“None of us can,” Jack answered softly. “But,” he began in a lighter tone, “I have you, and you have me. I don't need anything else.” Receiving a warm smile from his Lover, he asked with enthusiasm, “You about ready to find a way home?”
“Yeah,” Daniel answered, wiping his nose on Jack's shoulder.
“Gee, thanks, Daniel,” Jack joked as he pulled a tissue out of his pocket.
“Since when do you have tissues?” Daniel asked, blowing his nose.
“Since I fell in love with an allergy ridden geek,” Jack quipped, looking around again quickly before placing a chaste kiss on his lover’s lips. “You okay?” he asked, pulling back.
“Yeah,” Daniel answered, smiling to himself at how lucky he was to have Jack as his friend; his ... everything.
Taking a breath, the colonel turned and called out, “Carter, Teal'c, let's move out!”
After the team had been walking for a while, with Jack leading the foursome, Daniel called out, “So, what's the plan?”
“Find the Stargate,” Jack answered simply.
“Find the Stargate? That's ... that's the plan?”
“Elegant in its simplicity, don't ya think?” Jack smirked, pleased with himself.
“And if we don't find the Stargate?” Daniel challenged. ~Maybe I could still go to Egypt, if I were very careful,~ he thought as residual desires continued to flow through him.
“There's one in Antarctica,” Jack reminded.
“There's one in Antarctica. That's ... that's a ... fabulous plan,” Daniel replied wryly.
“Assuming we locate the Stargate, how then do we get back to the future?” Teal'c asked.
“Well, now, that's all in the note,” Jack answered hopefully, turning and stopping the team's forward momentum.
“Uh, no, Sir,” Sam stated with regret, handing the note to her commanding officer.
Unfortunately, the note wasn't as forthcoming as the colonel hoped it would be. All the note said was, “Help them. August 10th, 9:15 A.M., August 11th, 6:03 P.M.” No one was sure what it meant, except that, obviously, something was going to happen on each of those two days and that they needed to determine what that would be.
Just a couple of minutes later, SG-1 emerged from the woods, arriving at the edge of the highway. Jack's focus was immediately drawn to a sporty-looking red corvette as it sped by.
“You know, the 'Vette blew it when they went with that body style. They used to be so cool.”
“Actually, I was about four-and-a-half-years-old ... in '69,” Daniel quipped as they crossed the road.
**Language!** Daniel warned, cutting off his lover's retort.
Having gone to the other side of the road, Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c hid in a ditch that was close to six-feet deep. As they waited, Sam attempted to hitch a ride, having been ordered by her CO to “... stick your thumb out.”
As they waited for a vehicle to stop, Daniel suggested they head for New York. Jack was leery at first, afraid that part of his archaeologist still wanted to travel to the Middle East. He was relieved to learn that Daniel's rationale for the destination was the knowledge that Catherine Langford lived in New York and would probably be the only person they could make contact with who would know where the Stargate was at that point in time.
“Daniel, you can't,” Sam responded. “In order to preserve our past, Catherine has to meet you for the first time years from now.”
“So, we go in disguise, pretend to be ... foreigners,” Daniel suggested, thinking quickly.
“How are you gonna do that?” Jack asked.
“Well, I speak twenty-three different languages. Pick one,” Daniel smirked. Then he added, “Catherine said herself she began her research in the late sixties. I mean, who knows -- maybe we're the ones who gave her the idea in the first place.”
**Love the confidence, Danny.**
**Just pointing out the obvious, Jack,** Daniel replied.
Frustrated at Sam's inability to stop one of the several vehicles that had whizzed by during their conversation, Teal'c climbed out of the ditch, saying, “This method appears to be ineffective.” As his teammates followed, the Jaffa stepped into the path of a multi-colored, brightly painted bus with a large peace ornament on its front. The Jaffa held his arms up as he stood firmly in the bus's way. The bus stopped just a foot away from the alien.
“What were you thinking?” Jack asked incredulously, giving Teal’c a swat to the shoulder.
Teal'c answered, “That is effective, O'Neill.”
~Sometimes, he really worries me,~ Jack thought, though grateful that they had finally secured a ride.
The hippie occupants of the bus, Michael and Jenny, welcomed the hitchhikers, announcing that they were headed to a big concert in Upstate New York.
The bus had a homey atmosphere, with two long benches that people could both sit and lay down on. Thus, when they talked, they could also be facing each other. Up front were the driver's seat and a passenger seat next to it. It made getting to know each other easy. Thus, the odd combination of the military team and the anti-establishment young adults were meshing surprisingly well.
With Teal'c sitting up front with Michael, who was driving, and Sam and Jenny talking about current fashion trends, Jack and Daniel were sitting side-by-side on the opposite side of the bus.
“Never thought I'd hear Carter talking about bell bottoms and the mod look,” Jack mused, shaking his head. Then he looked at his lover and asked, “Daniel, what was that crap back there about being four-and-a-half? It's August, for crying out loud.”
Daniel rolled his eyes and related, “Jack, some record clerk in your brilliant military made an error on my personnel records. I've been arguing with him since I discovered the mistake months ago. I keep telling him I was born on July eighth, but he still hasn't changed it.”
Surprised, Jack asked, “What date are they using?”
“January fourth. Gawd, I do know my own birth date, but since they don't seem to want to fix it, I think I'll just have some fun with it for a while,” Daniel responded, a hint of mischievousness in his tone.
“It's probably fixed by now,” Jack replied wryly. “Well, not *now*, ‘cause it’s 1969, and the error won't occur for about thirty years, so how can they fix it, but in the future ...” Seeing his young lover about to lose his self control, he smiled and added, “I really don't get this time travel stuff.”
“Ya think?” Daniel asked, mimicking his lover.
“Hey!” Jack smirked. “When we do get home, you'll be lucky if they have it right before you die ... again.”
The older man chuckled, “Leave it; you'll get to retire early.”
Daniel just shook his head in amazement.
Sometime later, near Amarillo, the group stopped so that SG-1 could purchase more appropriate clothing for the era. There were several racks outside and lots more inside the regular store.
Jack swatted Daniel on the shoulder and motioned over where a sales clerk was advising Teal'c on his wardrobe.
“Ya know, Danny, he looks good in that get-up,” the colonel remarked.
The tall Jaffa was now attired in a purplish pink shirt, dark maroon, velvet pants, and a short tan vest with more subdued purple and green hue designs on it. He also wore a black wig, meaning he temporarily had hair. Around his head, he had on a pink and white headband.
“I'm not, uh, sure that ... purple is his color,” Daniel opined.
“I'm not sure that hair is his ... hair,” Jack teased.
As Daniel just stared, Jack shrugged and went back to the clothing color choice, saying, “Purple is the sixties.”
“It looks a little ... pink to me.”
“Purple, pink -- it's all color.” Jack looked at his lover and the clothes he was holding in his hand and observed, “Danny, it's the sixties. Put those back, and go bold!”
“Did you want to try those on?” a clerk asked Jack about his selections.
“Yeah, thanks,” the colonel told the clerk. “Be right back, and get something ... you know -- bold but you know!”
Daniel rolled his eyes, but began to put down the brown jacket. Suddenly, though, he jerked it back up.
~Geez, we're on a mission. I am *not* buying anything blue. The man is obsessed with blue.~ As Daniel went to put on the clothes and see how they fit, he thought, ~Could be worse. He has a big thing for peridot. Besides, I like brown. Brown is a good color. There's nothing wrong with ... oh, shut up, Jackson, and stop trying to rationalize why it's okay to buy the color you want and not what Jack wants. I mean, just because you love the nut, and he's nuts for blue, and he's even nuttier for you in blue doesn't mean ... enough already. No blue ... until we get home.~
Daniel emerged from the dressing area just in time for Sam to see him.
“Daniel, you look great. Where's the ... oh, there you are, Sir. Sir, I think we should get going.”
“Okay, do you have enough money?”
“Yes, Sir, I think so,” Sam said as she looked around for the sales clerk.
Jack looked at Daniel and frowned. The younger man just smiled and shrugged as he looked down at his new outfit. He had on striped black and tan pants, a brown jacket, and a cream-colored turtleneck with a maroon scarf with tan designs draped around his neck. He also held a pair of yellow tinted glasses in his hands.
“Jack, I was ...”
“I know,” Jack interrupted.
“Sure, I do,” the older man maintained.
“I know you.”
“Yeah, but ...” Daniel began.
“You just needed time to convince yourself, and we ran out of time,” Jack stated as they walked out the door. As they approached the bus, he spoke quietly, “But the next time we go back in time, you wear blue.”
Daniel laughed, then looked around nervously to see if anyone was looking.
“You look great,” the clerk spoke.
“Thank you,” Sam responded as she handed over the money, adding, “This should cover what the four of us got.”
The clerk nodded smiling at the money she'd been given, which was more than the value of the clothes.
“Here, Sam,” Jenny said, handing the captain a lovely pink flower.
“That's sweet. Thank you, Jenny,” Sam said as they turned. She put her arm around Jenny and spoke, “You and Michael have been so nice to us.”
“We're just doing what we'd want you to do,” Jenny stated. “Where's Michael?” she asked, looking around. “I'd better go find him.”
“We'll be in the bus,” Sam said, watching Jenny walk away.
While Jenny searched for Michael, Daniel stood watch while Jack took the team's military attire into the bus and zatted them the required three times to make them disappear. He was thankful the colorful decorations on the bus windows hid his actions. Then he walked back outside and joined by his lover, the two engaging in some lighthearted conversation.
“That's a rather ... conservative look, Sir,” Sam commented as she approached the two lovers a minute later.
Jack had switched from his green BDUs to denim jeans, a white T-shirt, and a black leather jacket. He also wore a black bandana that featured short green, yellow, and red squiggly designs on it.
“Hey, it fits! And the cap! Look at the cap!” Jack said of his somewhat colorful head wrap.
Sam and Daniel just stared at each other, causing the colonel to groan.
“She's right, Jack.”
“I went for the tough biker look. Don't I look tough?”
“Oh, yeah, uh, right, of course,” Daniel said, his arms folded across his chest as he nodded. “You look very ... biker...ish.”
“Real ... James Dean,” Sam commented, daring a look at Daniel, during which she shook her head.
Ignoring the comment, Jack said, “You're looking very mod, Captain.”
“Thank you, Sir,” Sam said about her outfit. She was wearing a white shirt with lavender designs on it, a brown and tan embroidered jacket that had a myriad of designs along the front, and an ankle-length denim blue and yellow skirt. She also wore a black choker and a couple of bead necklaces, along with her dark rose colored sunglasses. She carried with her a small, tan purse. “Last year, I learned from our team anthropologist that when in Rome, we dress like Romans, even if it's embarrassing.”
Daniel blinked, then smiled as he quipped, “At least the women don't wear headdresses in 1969.”
“Ouch!” Sam expressed.
“I found him,” Jenny stated as she and her boyfriend approached the team.
“Here, these are for you,” Michael stated. He placed a long medallion necklace on Daniel and another on Teal'c. Looking at Jack, he apologized, “Sorry, Man, but they only had two left.”
Staring down at the black medallion, Teal'c inquired, “What is the meaning of this adornment?”
“Peace, Brother,” Michael spoke brightly, then walked onto the bus.
Having purchased clothes fitting the current fashion trend, SG-1 and their hosts, Michael and Jenny, continued their trek to New York, traveling eastward on Route 66.
“Why have we stopped?” Teal'c asked from the front passenger seat.
“I don't know, man. It's just ... not going,” Michael responded as he pulled the brightly-colored bus over to the side of the road.
“What's going on?” Jack questioned as he walked up front.
“We do not know, man,” Teal'c intoned.
Jack stared in shock at the Jaffa in shock at his friend's attempt to use the lingo of the times. He turned at the sound of Michael opening the bus door.
The colonel followed Michael to the front of the bus, watching as he opened the hood and stared at it. Jack watched, waiting for the long-haired blond to do something.
“Well?” Jack prodded.
“Engines aren't my thing,” Michael admitted with a shrug.
Jack groaned, reaching up to run his hand through his hair. As his fingers made contact with the head wrap he'd forgotten he was wearing, he groaned and stared upwards.
“Okay, do you have a tool kit?”
“In the bus,” Michael answered.
“Go get it,” Jack instructed as he climbed up onto the front of the bus to examine the engine.
Several minutes later, Jack was still tinkering on the bus. Michael was inside, taking a nap, while Sam and Jenny were taking a short walk, talking about the city of St. Louis. From their vantage point, they could actually see several of the city's structures.
Teal'c and Daniel had been talking at the rear of the bus, but then Daniel decided to check on his lover's progress. As he approached, the archaeologist chuckled, looking away in the distance when Jack turned to stare at him.
“What's so funny?” the older man inquired.
“It's just ... uh, nothing,” Daniel spoke.
“Daniel, what's so funny?” Jack repeated forcefully.
“Well, it's just that ... for a minute there, when I ... when I first walked up and saw your ...” Daniel motioned at Jack's rear end, causing Jack to look back at his butt. “It's ... well ...”
“I thought you were Sergeant Siler,” Daniel teased, smirking as he shrugged.
“Siler?” Jack responded incredulously. He grimaced as he looked over towards St. Louis, having been totally taken aback by the comment. “Daniel, you've lost your mind.”
“Well, sometimes, there is a resemblance, Jack, when you're ... far away or doing something really physical ... or sometimes from behind ... and, uh ...”
Jack glared at his lover, questioning, “Doing something *really* physical? What's that mean? And when have you seen Siler doing something *really* physical?”
“Um, it ... means ... nothing, Jack. I was just making conversation,” Daniel stated. ~Touchy!~
“By comparing me to Siler?” the colonel asked incredulously. ~He's *got* to be kidding. I'm better looking, leaner, have a better sense of humor, and I outrank him, too!~ He scowled, ~And he's accident prone, too.~ “Ouch!” he cried out, having just tried to screw his thumb to the engine.
“Jack, I'm sorry, but when I walked up, and you were leaning over the engine, and all I could see was your ... butt, my first thought was Siler. That's all I'm saying,” the younger man responded, trying not to laugh at his obviously jealous and somewhat flustered lover.
“Daniel, all I'm saying is that if you don't know my butt from Siler's by now, we have a real problem!”
“All you need is a big wrench,” the archaeologist teased, batting his eyelashes for effect.
Raising one eyebrow, Jack gave Daniel a knowing look, then turned his attention back to the engine, while Daniel took the opportunity to quietly slip away.
“I'll give you a big wrench,” Jack muttered under his breath as he worked.
“Thank you, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated as he walked toward the front of the bus, having heard the strange remark.
Jack's head snapped up at the sound of Teal'c's voice, and he asked, “What?”
“Thank you for the offer of lending me your wrench,” Teal'c replied, offering a tiny bow. “If I ever have the need.”
“Uh, I was talking to Daniel,” Jack muttered, looking all around for his lover.
“Why would DanielJackson wish to borrow your wrench?” Teal'c inquired innocently, knowing the scientist wasn't very mechanically minded.
“Uh, well, he uses it occasionally, and he, uh, likes to ... uh ...” the colonel uncharacteristically stuttered. ~I’ve gotta get this image out of my head.~
“I assume your wrench is bigger than average and, as such, performs more efficiently,” the Jaffa remarked casually.
~You're darn shootin', it does!~ Jack let out a surprised cough and then stared up at his friend. After a few seconds, he was grinning inanely and proudly answered, “Yep!”
“You must be very proud of your wrench, O’Neill,” Teal'c stated dryly.
“Yeah, I’m kind of attached to it.”
Getting back to his task, Jack expertly changed the subject, stating, “You know, T, Daniel can be real snarky when he wants to be.”
“Snarky? I do not know that term,” Teal'c stated.
“Well, I do, T, and Daniel is it.”
“Does that explain why DanielJackson was laughing as I walked by him a moment ago?” the Jaffa inquired.
Jack sighed, “Probably. There, got it!” Hopping off the bus and making sure he had all of the tools, Jack requested, “Close it up.” Looking around for the others, he put his hands around his mouth and mimicked a train conductor as he called out, “All aboard!”
“Do you want to see my ticket, Sir?” Sam teased as she followed Jenny onto the bus.
“Very funny,” Jack responded, following Sam onto the vehicle.
Daniel followed the older man.
Suddenly, Teal'c expressed, “I wish to drive.”
“Wha...what?” Daniel asked, turning around towards the front of the bus and looking very pale. ~Gawd, we're all back here, and he's ... okay, not good,~ he thought anxiously, realizing that they hadn't talked about who would drive the next park of their trek to New York.
“I have been observing and do not believe driving to be difficult. You will assist me, DanielJackson,” Teal'c spoke, sitting down in the driver's seat, not waiting for permission.
Jack, Sam, and Daniel stared at each other.
“Jenny, we'd understand if ...” Daniel began as he looked back to where the young woman was.
“Oh, I don't mind, and Michael's still sleeping. Our bus is your bus,” the gentle young woman spoke as she pulled out a book to read.
“You will assist, DanielJackson,” Jack mocked, patting his lover on the back. “Or, I will remove all ‘wrench’ privileges for a while,” he whispered, waggling his eyebrows. At Daniel’s ‘yeah, right’ look, he added at normal volume, “Right, and ... good luck.” He jumped into the vehicle and smiling at the Jaffa as he made his way to his spot. ~I think I'll take a nap, too. Then I won't be so nervous. In a death glider, I trust him. Driving a bus on an American highway? Not so sure.~
Hesitantly, Daniel sat down in the seat next to the driver. He smiled nervously at the confident Jaffa.
“I will step on the gas,” Teal'c stated.
“Wait! Not yet,” Daniel said. “Let's, uh ... let's review.”
While Jack and Michael continued to sleep and Sam and Jenny chatted, Daniel nervously taught Teal'c how to drive. The student was doing okay, though he was having a hard time mastering the clutch, so the archaeologist was helping him with that.
Eventually, Teal'c pulled the mod bus over to the side of the road for a driver switch, and the group took the opportunity to stretch for a few minutes.
“Hey,” Daniel called out as he approached his lover, who was leaning against the back of the bus. Daniel's arms were crossed in front of him as he said, “It's not easy, is it?”
Jack let out a tiny laugh as he looked off to the side, replying, “I can feel it. Weird, I know, but I can feel Chicago. We're close.”
“About an hour, maybe two,” Daniel acknowledged.
“They're in Minnesota,” Jack stated. “I'm in Minnesota.” Looking down at his shoes, he said, “It's tempting to just drive by the place, go inside, take a look around.”
“Sam says ...”
“I know what Carter says,” Jack responded gruffly. “I'm sorry.” He let out a small laugh. “Wasn't I quoting Carter to you back in New Mexico?”
Daniel smiled, saying, “And you might be again when we get to New York. Jack, we're human, and we both have ... things we wish we could ... fix.”
“Sara,” the older man whispered.
“Did you meet her in Chicago?”
Jack smiled as old fun and joyful memories began to flood back. The problem was, after they passed, the painful ones began to flitter through his mind. He just didn't want to go there.
“It doesn't matter anymore,” Jack finally answered.
“Yes, it does, Jack, because you're thinking if you could somehow find Sara, give her a message, maybe leave a note ... do *something* to warn her not to let Charlie go in the house by himself that day, to ...”
“It would be so easy, Danny,” Jack interrupted in a near whisper. “A little message. 'Sara, years from now, you'll have a beautiful son. Two weeks after he and his dad argue about guns, don't ... don't let him out of your sight.” He looked down, trying to get control of himself. Others weren't that far away. He had to maintain control. “Or ... I could just leave her a note like Hammond did -- the date, the time, and the words, 'Don't leave Charlie alone'.”
“It was a beautiful day, Danny. I came home, and Sara was there. One minute, our world was perfect, and the next, it exploded,” Jack lamented. “A note. Could it hurt?”
“She wouldn't understand it, Jack,” Daniel pointed out realistically. “You hadn't even met her yet. I mean, uh, weren't you already in the Air Force when you met?”
Jack sighed as he banged his head back twice against the bus. The blows weren't hard enough to hurt him, but they were strong enough to snap him out of his unwanted reverie.
“Can't mess up the timeline,” Jack sighed. He looked at Daniel and smiled as a feeling of gratitude swept over him that the man in front of him loved him. That love was the most important thing in his life now. “Besides, as I said before, I don't want to chance messing us up.”
“Jack, your son ...”
“... is dead,” Jack intoned. “We can't change our past, and nothing will bring him back. I have you now, and I'm happy.”
Daniel smiled, wanting to hold his anguished lover, but knowing he couldn't. He could hear the others coming closer.
“Sir, we should get going,” Sam called out.
“She's a friggin' clock,” Jack whined.
“She's just trying to make sure we get back,” Daniel said.
“Danny, we don't even know what those dates mean,” Jack pointed out.
“No, we don't, but we have a plan, and the sooner we accomplish the plan, the sooner we can ...”
“Make a new plan?” Jack asked.
“Yeah,” Daniel affirmed with a smile.
“Danny ...” **I love you.**
Daniel smiled, answering, **I love you, too.**
“Ah, Daniel, one thing,” Jack began, looking down at his feet and scuffing his shoe on the ground. “We're stopping in Chicago for food, so ...”
“I'm right here, Jack,” Daniel promised, knowing what his lover needed from him.
“Good,” Jack acknowledged. Standing up straight, he touched Daniel on the shoulder, then walked to the bus and said, “I'll drive.”
After a quick stop at a corner market in Chicago for food and supplies, the group continued their trek. Jack and Daniel occupied themselves anyway that they could, not wanting to think about where'd they been (Chicago) and where they were going (New York). Emotionally, both men did their best to suppress the anxiety and buried wishes of 'what if' that was eating away at them. Logic was battling with dreams, and that made the journey difficult.
At last, the travelers parked at a rest stop just outside Philadelphia. There, they made a fire among the trees. At the moment, Michael and Jenny were taking a walk, leaving SG-1 alone as they sat around the campfire. The team still didn't know what the dates in the note meant, and they hoped that Daniel's upcoming visit with Catherine would somehow help them.
Jack handed Daniel a cup of soup and then gave one to Sam as he sat down. The captain was absorbed in her thoughts. Suddenly, the fire flickered, blazing for a moment.
“A flare,” Sam stated, finally realizing why they had traveled through time.
The captain explained to her teammates that a solar flare must have occurred at the exact moment the team had been traveling between Earth and P2X-555. The concept of time travel was one of the alternative applications of the Stargate that General Hammond himself had asked her to research after that first mission to Abydos.
Sam continued, “If the wormhole itself was redirected closer to the sun because of the flare's magnetic field, the increased gravity could slingshot us back to Earth.”
“Why haven't we tried this before?” Daniel questioned curiously.
“Because flares are impossible to predict. Light takes several minutes to travel between the Earth and the sun, so by the time a flare of sufficient magnitude has been confirmed, it's already too late.”
“Okay, if they're impossible to predict, how do we get ourselves home?” the archaeologist questioned.
That's when SG-1 made the connection between Hammond's note and the solar flare. The major general's message was, in actuality, the time and date of the next two solar flares that could get the team back home to their own time.
As the team talked, Michael and Jenny, who had returned from their walk and had been listening to the strange conversation for the last minute or so, emerged from the trees, their faces full of suspicion about their new friends.
“Hello,” Jack greeted. ~How long have they been there?~ Lifting his metal cup, he asked, “Soup?”
“Who are you guys?” Michael questioned.
~I was afraid of that.~ “Come on. Have something to eat,” the colonel invited, hoping to distract the twosome.
“I mean, traveling between the Earth and where? What's that about?” Michael asked, refusing to be deterred from his line of questioning.
“When I said that, I was just imagining ...” Sam began.
“Oh, I don't think so, man,” Michael refuted.
“You said that you were in trouble with the establishment,” Jenny recalled.
“And ... we are,” Jack confirmed.
“We are,” Daniel affirmed.
“Just not the establishment of this planet,” Jack said. ~Let's try a bit of outer world mumbo jumbo.~ Seeing the couple's confused looks, he continued, “No, it's true, Michael. We came to Earth to hide among your people, a long, long time ago.”
~Gawd, Star Wars. Okay, I'll play,~ Daniel thought. “From a galaxy far, far away.”
~Good one, Danny. Can't believe you got that.~ After a moment, Jack added, “But now it's time to go home, and we need your help,” Jack stated.
“How?” Jenny asked.
“We need to be in a place called New York by tomorrow,” Daniel answered.
“I don't know, man,” Michael replied, wondering if he and Jenny should just leave the strangers behind.
**Jack, they don't believe us. They just think we're ...**
**Nuts?** Jack asked.
**Out of our minds,** Daniel stated.
~In for a penny, in for a pound,~ Jack thought, reaching down and picking up his zat gun. He looked at Michael and Jenny and spoke, “It's all right.”
Jack aimed the weapon and fired it into the blaze. Upon contact, the flames shot upward dramatically before settling again.
“Whoa! That was unreal!” Michael exclaimed.
“It is, in fact, extremely real, as is our need for assistance,” Teal'c intoned.
Convinced, Jenny stated, “We have to help them get home, Michael.”
“Okay, we'll do it,” Michael agreed. Once Jack disengaged the zat weapon, the hippie requested, “Tell us about your fight with the establishment,” as he sat down, Jenny at his side.
Jack looked at Sam, who seemed concerned, but then he just shrugged. They had to say something.
“It all started when C3PO took pity on a little droid named R2-D2 ...”
Daniel's head dropped down, while Sam grimaced and Teal'c listened with fascination as Jack told Michael and Jenny a strange tale that they'd never forget.
“So, what's the plan?” Daniel asked quietly a little later, after Michael and Jenny had returned to the bus to get some sleep.
“Now that we know what we're looking for, Daniel, we need to confirm the dates. Sir, we'll need you ...”
“That's nice to know, Carter. I'm just the leader of this little group of merry men,” Jack quipped wryly.
“What are merry men?” Teal'c questioned.
“You, in tights,” Jack answered, smiling. ~And Danny, after I have my wicked way with him. Oh, yeah, he gets pretty merry.~
“Jack, be serious,” Daniel requested. ~Teal’c in tights? That’s an ... interesting image, but one I'd rather not think about.~
“What?” the colonel asked innocently, sitting back on his rock and extending out his hands.
~Look at his hands, so strong. I love those hands, especially when they ... uh, no, can't think about that now.~ Daniel turned to Teal'c and explained, “Teal'c, Jack’s just being an a...”
“Daniel,” Jack warned. ~Those blue eyes of his turn me into Jell-O. This place isn't so bad; of course, I'd rather be with Danny alone.~
Daniel shot his lover a small grin, his dimples appearing and then disappearing quickly as he shyly looked down at the ground.
“The plan?” Sam echoed thoughtfully, her mind at work going over alternatives.
**I know what I'd like,** Jack communicated.
**Yeah, me, too,** Daniel replied.
**We could sit here, listening to Carter prattling, or ...**
**There's an 'or'?** the younger man questioned.
**Weren't you paying attention? Where there's a will, or a way, there's always an 'or',** Jack smirked, his face on the verge of breaking out into a grin.
About to respond to the sexy smirk on his lover's face, but knowing now was not the time to get carried away, Daniel diverted his attention, looking at Sam and repeating, “Yeah, so ... so, what's the plan?”
Nodding slightly, Sam smiled nervously for a moment at the odd behavior of her two friends, then continued, “Sir, with your knowledge, interest, and experience in astronomy ...”
“That's a mouth full, Carter,” Jack interrupted. “Makes me sound pretty darn good.”
“Jack, you can be replaced,” Daniel warned good-naturedly. “We'll teach Michael.”
“So, um, anyway, Sir, there must be an observatory we can utilize. If you can gain access to one of the telescopes, and using the hydrogen-alpha solar filter to protect your eyes, see that the flare is in progress, then that'll be our verification.”
“Good plan!” Jack exclaimed, standing and stretching. ~I'm ready for an 'or' -- just some quality time with My Danny in the woods.~
“CaptainCarter, what is a hydrogen-alpha solar filter?” Teal'c asked.
“Carter, you explain it to him. I'm gonna take a walk,” Jack stated, heading deeper into the woods. “We'll finalize things in the morning.” **Danny?**
“Uh, that sounds good. I'll ... go with you,” Daniel said, putting down his soup can and catching up with Jack.
The couple could hear Sam beginning her detailed answer to the Jaffa's question as they walked away.
“You know, she could have just said that looking directly at the sun hurts your eyes,” Jack said simply.
“What fun is that?” Daniel teased.
“Yeah,” Jack agreed quietly. “You know, those filters really make the sun jump. It's amazing what you can see. It should be easy with one of those big jobbers to see if something is happening up there.”
“Jack, why are we here?”
“Weren't you listening to Carter? Solar flare,” Jack answered.
“No, I meant why are we, you and me, out here, alone, now, in the woods, walking?” Daniel rambled.
“Looking for an ‘or’, Danny,” Jack responded as they went a little deeper into the valley of trees.
“An 'or'?” the younger man questioned. ~Works for me, as long as his 'or' includes some touching. I really want ...~
Stopping and looking around, trying to ensure they were alone, Jack turned and faced his Love.
The two men stood about three feet apart. Soft brown eyes, full of desire, stared into cerulean blue eyes, dark with longing.
Closing the distance between them, Jack said, “And we're here because we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow and because it's been two days.”
“Two days?” Daniel questioned.
“Since we've done this,” Jack said as he slowly moved forward, letting his lips meet his lover's. His right hand raised to caress Daniel's neck, his fingers floating through the long, silky strands of Daniel's hair. He heard his soulmate's moan, and that prompted his left hand to go behind the younger man's back and press gently, drawing him closer. Their kiss deepened, turning into multiple kisses of love and lust. “Love you so much,” he gasped between touches of their lips and swipes of their tongues as they tasted each other.
“Love you, too,” Daniel whispered, his hands slipping under his Jack's white T-shirt. Their bodies were as close as they could get. They turned, moving around and around as their kisses swelled in intensity and their hands touched as much skin as they could find. Finally, the younger man backed into a tree, his eyes opening for a split second. His body arched upward slightly, as if about to climb atop the older man. “J'ck, we ... gawd, we should...n't,” he panted.
“I know,” Jack gasped, pulling away just slightly. He looked down, kissing his Love's chin, then placing several kisses all the way around his neck, and ending with nibbling the lobe of Daniel's ear. “Want you.”
“Too, but ... wh...where?”
“Geez, I know,” Jack acknowledged.
“Quick,” Daniel said, his voice low and raspy as he lunged forward, bringing their bodies together in full force.
“Bush...es,” the older man suggested, his hands guiding Daniel off to the left where there was, he hoped sufficient cover.
“Gotta ... be ... qui...”
“...et,” Jack completed as the two men quickly moved down. They rolled over a few times, waiting to see who ultimately would end up on top. Neither cared, knowing both would be satisfied, but it was a bit of a game just to see where they settled, while removing their clothes. “Eas'r than B... than B...”
“DUs,” Daniel completed as they continued to talk in fractured words.
“Yeah,” Jack expressed, his left hand continuing to work on Daniel's clothing, as the younger man fumbled with his. Their kisses were strong, and they just couldn't stay apart. After building up for so long, their passion had exploded, just like the solar flare that had brought them back to this time. “I wwww...”
“...in,” Daniel completed, content to be on the bottom.
Hurriedly, the couple slid their pants down. They really didn't have a lot of time. They pushed off their jackets that were bulky and hindered their lovemaking, and then Jack used saliva to prepare his lover, his probing fingers causing Daniel to arch and moan in anticipation.
As Daniel slid his hands under the white shirt of his Heart, he needed more, and suddenly, in one quick motion, he yanked the shirt up over Jack's head.
“Talent,” Jack observed, wondering how he'd been undressed so efficiently.
“...peration,” Jack completed, his fingers eliciting another needy moan from the younger man.
Jack entered his lover, his shaft hard and eager. He pounded away with thrusts that sent Daniel scooting backward slightly, his fingernails digging deep into the ground as he worked to cover up his desire to yell out his pleasure. Though lost in his actions, a part of the older man knew they were on borrowed time. He wanted Daniel in him, to feel the same thing he knew Daniel was feeling now.
~No time,~ Jack realized. He reached down with his hand and began to work Daniel's equally hard and eager length. He set a rhythm -- stroke, thrust, stroke, thrust, stroke, thrust, stroke. His fingers pressed in all the right places, and he knew he was doing good as he looked down at his lover. ~Love him.~
Grunting and groaning, Jack's rhythm increased, and Daniel was rocking from the impact. He hadn't realized how much he had needed their physical love tonight. As Jack's shaft pounded into his prostate, in the perfect place, pleasuring him to the highest, Daniel couldn't help himself and let out a shout, though he worked to stop it mid-shout.
“...ry,” Jack gasped. “Okay ... rea...”
“...dy,” Daniel said.
With a final heavy assault, his hand working as hard as his shaft, Jack came inside his Love, and just a couple of seconds later, with a final squeeze of his length, the younger man came, too. Their breathing heavy, the lovers held each other. Jack was atop Daniel his hair wet from a combination of his own sweat and that of his lover's dampened turtleneck that they hadn't removed.
“CaptainCarter, did you hear something?” Teal'c asked, standing and looking off in the direction that Jack and Daniel had walked off in earlier.
~Unfortunately, yes,~ Sam thought, well aware the shout wasn't one of fear or alarm. “Uh, yeah, Teal'c, sounded like an owl.” ~Yeah, an owl; that'll work.~
Teal'c looked back at the blonde quizzically, an eyebrow raised.
“What is an owl?” the Jaffa asked, turning and sitting down next to Sam again.
“It's a night creature. It makes sounds like ... well, like the one you just heard,” Sam stated with a conniving smile. ~Sometimes, I'm so happy he's an alien.~
“Are you sure, Samantha? Perhaps we should find Colonel O'Neill and DanielJackson. They could be in danger,” Teal'c stated.
“Teal'c, trust me,” Sam replied. “The colonel and Daniel are ... fine,” she said, her head bobbing up and down in a tiny motion.
“Gawd, Jack, that was, uh ...”
“Oh, yeah,” Jack spoke, having not moved from his spot.
“Jack, I shouted. I'm sorry. They might have heard,” Daniel said.
“If they were concerned, they'd be here by now, so we're safe,” Jack opined, finally sliding off his lover. His right hand holding Daniel's left, he looked over and smiled, saying, “I love you, Danny.”
“I love you, too.”
“No matter what happens, remember that.”
“We'll be fine, Jack. The solar flare will happen, and then we'll go back home.”
“Danny, if it doesn't, we don't know where it might take us, if it takes us anywhere,” Jack said.
“Well, if it doesn't, then we stay here,” the archaeologist spoke.
“I know 1969 is a happy hippy time and that the seventies is the 'me decade' and all about women's rights, but you and me in the seventies, it wouldn't be easy,” the older man opined thoughtfully.
Sitting up, Daniel laughed, “Like it's easy now. Babe, I used to get beat up just for reading a book.”
“Danny,” Jack began, sitting up and bringing his left hand up to caress his lover's cheek. “I'm trying to be serious here. I hate labels, but for sake of argument, let me use the word. Being ... geez, gay in the seventies, could be downright ugly.”
“Jack, stop,” Daniel said, putting his hands on his lover's lips. “Listen. When we get back to the SGC, I want you to look around.”
“I don't get it,” Jack replied.
“Watch those SFs, take a good, long look at the Marines. I'm not trying to generalize, and I'm not talking about everyone, but just ... open your eyes. Jack, it's not easy in 1999, either.”
“Danny, what aren't you telling me?” an alarmed Jack queried.
“What you already know, but don't like to think about, that in our workplace, there are people who smile at us now, who would be spitting on us if they knew. There are a few, who would do more than that, if they even had a suspicion, and, uh, there ... there are some who do more now, just because they do suspect.”
“Jack, I've lived with this my whole life. I can handle it, but I'm the ... I'm the geek, long hair, lots of words, and socially ill at ease,” Daniel spoke.
“No, listen. What I'm saying is that I can handle us, in any time, in any place. The real question is ... can you?” Daniel asked, his eyes searching his lover's chocolate brown ones, hoping to find the answer he wanted.
Jack smiled, leaned in for a kiss, and responded, “Danny, a couple of months ago, maybe I wouldn't have been able to answer this question so confidently, but after that vacation we took in Phoenix, I know it's the truth. You're right, it wouldn't be easy, but we'd find a way. I won't let you go. I can handle it, just like you can.”
“Can you, Love? Can you live with the looks, the sneers, the looks of disgust, the ... back alley abuse? Can you take all that and still come home to me, wherever we are?”
“I love you, Danny. 1969 or 1999 ...” Jack stopped, letting out a laugh. “Or 2029. Whatever the year, wherever we are, no one will stop me from loving you, and, as long you want us to be together, we'll be together.”
“I've been thinking,” Daniel spoke softly.
“Always dangerous,” Jack quipped. “And, as much as I love you naked, maybe we should clean up a little and get dressed. We might be pushing our luck here.”
“Oh, yeah,” Daniel said. “Uh, not a lot to clean up with, thought.”
“We'll have to do the best we can,” Jack said as the lovers used whatever they could to aid them in their bodily clean up. “Danny, what were you thinking?”
“Well, if we can't get back, Sam says it's important for us not to interfere anywhere. We'd need to keep low profiles. Actually, we should interact with the populace as little as possible,” Daniel began.
“And, well, I don't know how realistic this is, but I thought maybe somewhere in Minnesota, or someplace like that, we could find a little cabin or something. I mean, you'd be happy near the water, and I just need some books.”
Jack grinned and risked another kiss with his lover, saying, “I love you, My Genius.”
Daniel grinned in return, asking, “You like the idea?”
“Yeah, I do. We can stay out of everyone's way, live off the land. We'd find a way to make some money. Maybe you can write some articles, *safe* articles,” Jack suggested.
“We'd find a way,” Daniel agreed.
“You distracted me,” Jack interjected suddenly.
“Daniel, there's a restroom by the main part of the rest stop. We can do a better job of cleaning up there. You distracted me!”
The younger man chuckled, “Sorry, Babe,” and headed for the restroom with his lover.
When the lovers were done cleaning up, they headed back towards the bus. Smiling, Jack took Daniel's hand. It was daring, but he felt a need to do it.
“In any world, even this one, in any time, even this one, we'll be together, Danny. I promise,” Jack pledged, squeezing Daniel's hand gently.
“I know we will, Jack.”
“And when we get home, Doctor Jackson, you are *so* gonna give me names and details,” Jack ordered.
“Daniel, listen to me,” Jack said, turning around and placing his hands on his lover's shoulders. He paused, searching for the right words. “We're exploring other worlds. We can't afford to have intolerant imbeciles risking first contact, can we?”
Daniel smiled, asking, “Jack, are you really worried about that? I mean, about the cultural impact of the wrong person being in negotiations or ... or screwing up that initial contact?”
“Okay, I know I'm Mister Military, but, yes, I am concerned. I promise I won't overreact, and I won't have them drummed out of the military, and I won't beat them to a pulp myself, but I want those names. I can ... I *will* figure out a way, and we can make sure they're reassigned appropriately,” Jack stated intellectually. ~And I'll make sure they are far, far away from you. If any of them hurt you, all bets are off.~ “Okay?”
“Okay,” Daniel stated. ~But I think I'd better be careful. There was a look in his eye, and I don't want anyone hurt, especially Jack.~
“One more time, Danny,” Jack said, leaning in for a tender kiss. “I love you.”
“I love you, Jack,” Daniel replied.
Smiling, the lovers continued on to the bus.
“Still up, Carter?”
“Just going to bed, Sir,” Sam smirked.
“Anything to report?”
“Owls, Sir. There were a few owls out; sounded almost human. I told Teal'c about them, and I thought you should know ... about the owls,” Sam spoke, her eyes begging for understanding. ~I'm not saying more than that, so I hope you understand what I'm saying.~
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look and then both said, “Owls.”
“Goodnight, Sir, Daniel.”
**Let's not think about it,** Jack responded. “I think I'll hit the hay.”
“Me, too,” Daniel agreed as the two 'friends' settled in for a night's sleep, a safe distance apart.
Daniel lay in the dark, rolling over, trying to get comfortable. Letting out a long sigh, he suddenly became aware of a strange sound in his head.
**The owl and the pussy cat went to New York, with a Jaffa and captain devote,** Jack recited.
**Stuck in the past, they had to think fast, all because of a cryptic note ...**
**Jack, are you calling me an owl?** Daniel questioned mentally.
**No, Carter called you an owl, Love. Come to think of it, you did sound a bit like an owl,** the older man chuckled.
**So, you're saying you're the pussy cat then?**
**Hey!** Jack growled inwardly.
**What a beautiful pussy cat you are, you are, what a beautiful pussy cat, you are,** Daniel teased.
**Night, Wise Owl,** Jack quipped.
**Who's a Wise Owl?** Daniel asked.
**The owl from Winnie the Pooh,** Jack answered.
**Oh, in that case -- night, Garfield,** Daniel chuckled.
**Meow!** Jack mimicked.
The next day, SG-1 decided that Teal'c would accompany Jack to an observatory they'd located in New Jersey. Meanwhile, Sam would go with Daniel to Catherine's home. Daniel would pretend to be the son of Heinrich Gruber, who had worked with Catherine's father and was a trusted friend.
Both visits were a success. Jack was able to confirm the solar flare, witnessing the beginnings of the eruption as he had gazed through the telescope at the sun, and Daniel was able to find out the location of the Stargate, which was housed in an old armory in Washington, D.C.
Now, the team had been reunited with their hosts and were en route to Washington.
“Do you think the establishment will give in to Princess Leia?” Michael asked.
“Luke and Han will help out,” Jack answered.
“I still don't understand why you're in trouble with the establishment,” Jenny spoke quietly as she sat next to Michael in the back of the bus.
“Uh, well, it's because ...” Daniel began, staring at Jack for help.
“It's the Ewoks,” Jack finally spoke.
“What's an ... Ewok?” Michael questioned.
“We're almost there, Sir,” Sam interrupted as she drove the bus. “It's going to be close if we don't find a power source right away.”
Putting on his cap, Jack said, “We will.” Looking back at Michael and Jenny, he said, “Listen, I really have to say this. The two of you have been unbelievably ...”
“Groovy,” Daniel interjected.
“Groovy, I think, is the word,” Jack agreed, amused that his lover had come up with the trendy word.
“Uh, the people of our world will be extremely grateful,” Daniel added.
“Not the establishment,” Jack pointed out.
“No, not ... not them,” Daniel agreed.
“I think what we're trying to say is that we have to go the rest of the way alone,” Jack stated.
“We want you to take us with you,” Michael blurted out impulsively.
The two hippies explained that Michael had been drafted and the concert had been their attempt to have 'one last blast.' Michael didn't want to kill anybody, and Daniel couldn't blame him. Looking at Jack, he could see his lover wanted to help the two as well. Sensing the same emotion in her CO, Sam warned him not to say anything.
“We can walk the rest of the way from here,” the blonde stated a few seconds later as she prepared to stop the bus.
Quietly, Jack said, “We got to go.” He put on his sunglasses and added, “I'm sorry.”
Near the armory, Sam brought the vehicle to a halt, and everyone climbed out. Michael and Jenny promised SG-1 that their secret was safe with them. Sam hugged Jenny goodbye, and then the team walked away.
**Jack, you couldn't say anything,** Daniel communicated, knowing his lover was having a hard time accepting the rules of being in a time that was not their own.
**I know. He doesn't want to kill. I understand that,** Jack replied. “Eyes open,” he advised his team as they stealthily sought out the Stargate.
Inside the armory, after Jack had zatted one of the guards, the team saw the Stargate. It was encased in a flat, square crate with locks all the way up the sides. Daniel climbed to the top of the crate on the left side, while Teal'c did the same on the right, releasing the locks on the upper half.
At the same time, Jack worked below his lover while Sam did the same below the Jaffa, releasing the lower set of clamps. On Jack's signal, Teal'c released the last lock, after which both the front and back covers of the crate fell to the floor, revealing the Stargate. Quickly, the team gathered in front of the circular object.
“Where to?” Jack asked his second-in-command.
“Back the way we came, via P2X-555,” Sam answered.
“Wait a minute. How do you know we'll go forward in time instead of back?” Daniel interjected, out of breath from his rapid climb down the ladder and then jumping over, on, and down the ramp to meet with his teammates.
“Well, General Hammond must have chosen flares on the opposite side of the sun this time, so the sun's rotational differential will send us forward instead of back.” Seeing their doubtful expressions, she stated, “Look, we just have to trust General Hammond. I mean, the point is, we are fifteen minutes away from the only chance we are going to get at this, and we still haven't found a power source to fre...”
“How *much* power?” Jack asked a bit agitatedly.
“A lot,” Sam answered, looking around.
“Great,” Jack sighed, looking around as well. “Okay, well, let's use jumpers.”
“If cables can jump truck batteries, why can't truck batteries jump the Stargate?”
“You've done it again, Sir,” Sam said, smiling as she saw the nearby vehicles.
“It happens,” Jack stated, heading for one of the trucks.
As quickly as they could, the team hooked up cables from two vehicles' engines to the Stargate. While Jack and Sam revved the engines, Daniel and Teal'c dialed the Gate manually and made sure the connections stayed in place.
Unfortunately for SG-1, a guard outside the building heard the sound of the chevron's locking and came through a side door. He dashed forward just as the seventh chevron locked. At the same time, Daniel and Teal'c jumped clear of the gate hurrying to stand beside Jack and Sam.
Although kawoosh of the wormhole momentarily stunned the guard, he soon remembered himself and drew his weapon on the four teammates gathered together in front of the ramp. As the guard yelled for them to stop, another guard entered through the upper level of the armory, also drawing his weapon.
“We have *got* to go,” Jack stated emphatically before taking cover behind some boxes and opening fire on the guard.
“Sir, the timing has to be exact; just a few more seconds,” Sam pleaded.
“It's going to have to be close enough. Go!” Jack ordered forcefully. **Danny, I love you. Remember that, whatever happens,** he communicated just before the younger man followed Sam up the ramp.
**I will. I love you, too, Jack,** Daniel replied before running through the Gate.
Jack continued to fire, then ran onto the ramp and jumped through the Gate.
~Okay, this is not right,~ the colonel thought as he realized he was surrounded by darkness. **Danny?**
Getting up and realizing they were in the gate room, the colonel called out, “Auntie Em? Auntie Em?”
“Where is everyone?” Sam asked, noticing the coverings that hung over various pieces of equipment.
Suddenly, a woman dressed in white walked in through the doors, smiling and greeting, “Hello, Jack.”
Jack stared at the woman, thinking, ~Okay, she's one up on me.~
The woman looked at the teammates with wonder, calling out, “Teal'c? Daniel?” She laughed, “I hardly recognized you with hair.”
Sam looked at the archaeologist quizzically, then at Teal'c, both of whom looked puzzled.
Cautiously, Jack moved forward and asked, “Do ... do we know you?”
“Sam will recognize me,” the woman said confidently. To Sam, she beckoned, “Come closer.”
A moment later, Sam broke out into smiles, moving forward to hug the woman and exclaiming, “Cassandra!”
Jack was in disbelief, since the Cassandra he knew was a twelve-year-old girl.
The mature woman explained, “You entered the Stargate a few seconds too soon, so the flare threw you *far* into the future. I've come to send you back where you belong.”
“How did you know we'd come here?” Daniel inquired. ~And I refuse to think I'll ever be bald. You were talking to Teal'c, right?~
“When I was old enough to understand, Sam explained what happened and that I'd be the one to send you home,” Cassandra explained.
“Like a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Sam surmised. ~There's so much I want to know.~
Much too soon for Sam, Cassandra used a device on her wrist to engage the Stargate, explaining that they didn't have time to visit.
After Sam pulled out her GDO and sent the signal, Cassandra added with awe, “I will tell you this. Your journey's just beginning.”
The team stared at the woman for a moment, then turned and walked through the Stargate, happily emerging to the present they had left behind.
~Now this is more like it,~ Jack thought upon seeing all the familiar trappings of their SGC. He threw up his hands in relief, pointing both hands at Hammond as he exclaimed joyfully, “Yes!” At the foot of the ramp, he snapped off a rare salute and said, “We're home, thanks to one sparky young Lieutenant Hammond.”
“How did you know, Sir?” Sam inquired as she stood next to Jack.
“When I was a young lieutenant, I was ordered to escort four people out of Cheyenne Mountain. In the vest pocket of one, I found a note with my name on it. Needless to say, I followed its instructions.”
“But you couldn't have known when to give it to me,” Sam stated.
“No, not until I saw the cut on your hand. Remember when I took your cuffs off,” the general stated, referring to the moment in 1969 when he decided to help the group and freed them from their handcuffs.
“Then you've been waiting for this to happen,” Sam deduced.
“Ever since we met. I almost didn't let you go,” the general confided.
“But if you didn't, you would have changed your own history,” Sam stated.
“It's going to be a long debriefing, people. We'll start in one hour,” Hammond ordered.
“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged.
“Oh, by the way, Colonel. With interest, you owe me five-hundred thirty-nine dollars and fifty cents.”
As Sam and Daniel grinned, Jack smiled and said, “Yes, Sir.”
“I'll take a check, Jack,” Hammond stated jovially before turning around and walking out.
Jack looked back at his team and said, “Well, Kids, we survived another one.”
“I hope so, Sir,” Sam stated.
“Carter!” Jack exclaimed in a frustrated tone.
“It's just I'm not sure if we should have had that much contact with Michael and Jenny,” Sam admitted.
With a groan, Jack threw up his hands and walked out, followed by Teal'c.
“Sam, do you really think we said anything to change their future?” Daniel asked, concerned.
“Said anything? No, but, Daniel, the contact alone could have altered their paths. And what about the story the colonel told them?”
“It was a movie that hadn't happened yet,” Daniel replied.
“In 1969, it hadn't, but how did Michael and Jenny react when it did come out?” More forcefully, Sam pointed out, “Daniel, 'Star Wars' came out in 1977. That was only eight years later. We had to have made an impression on them.”
“Saying we were from a ... galaxy far ... far away,” Daniel sighed, nodding his head at the same time.
“Princess Leia,” Sam added.
“But, here we are, and I haven't heard of them, I mean, in the news or anything,” the archaeologist stated.
“That doesn't mean our presence didn't disrupt their future. Daniel, we'll probably never know. Playing around in the past is dangerous. We need to remember that,” Sam stated as she began to walk away.
Daniel looked back at the Stargate, lost in thought for a moment, and then headed for the locker room.
“Sir, let me get this straight,” Jack said during the briefing. “If you knew this had to happen, then in all our past missions, you had to know everything would turn out okay, right?” he asked, looking around at his teammates and Janet, who was sitting in on the debriefing.
“On the contrary, Colonel, I had no idea. I'm just a general, not a fortune teller,” Hammond answered. “While I anticipated the event, I had no way of knowing if it would ever happen.”
“But, Sir, that first day at the SGC, when you threatened to send the bomb through to Abydos ... you already knew me!” Jack spoke. “And you knew Daniel. You had to know he was alive before I told you!”
“I didn't know until I saw your picture, Colonel. I hadn't been told your names, and I wasn't sure until you first walked into my office.”
“So, you knew?” Jack questioned.
“Let's just say it made reading between the lines of your report a little easier,” the general commented.
“Then the last two years ...” the colonel began.
Hammond shook his head, refuting, “Jack, we weren't together that long, and it was almost thirty years ago. Did I remember you? Of course, and Doctor Jackson and you, Teal'c, but I could never be certain of the events or their timing. All I knew is that I had to proceed with due course and vigilance.”
“I have a headache,” Jack whined, leaning back in his chair. “You said you were a month away from retirement.”
“I was,” Hammond acknowledged.
“Sir,” Sam interjected. “Let me try and explain.”
“Carter, please don't,” Jack stated, afraid of his headache becoming worse.
“Captain,” Hammond ordered, giving her a nod.
Taking a breath, Sam began, “In the mid-eighties, Doctor Igor Novikov developed the self-consistency principle to help solve the problem of paradoxes in time travel.”
“This wasn't a paradox,” Jack refuted. “We weren't meeting ourselves, and even you called meeting Cassie a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“Yes, Sir, but that was different than what happened with General Hammond,” Sam attempted to clarify. “You see, it's like the grandfather ...”
“Sam, allow me,” Daniel interrupted, surprising everyone. “Jack, remember that episode of 'The Twilight Zone' where the man wants to go back in time, wanting to stop famous events, unpleasant ones, from happening? He realizes the past can't be changed and decides to settle down in some small town.”
“So?” Jack asked, totally uninterested thus far.
“So,” Daniel continued. “He reads in one of his books that the schoolhouse burns down because of a lantern falling off a wagon. He sees the wagon and tries to stop the fire, but ends up tripping over the lantern and causing the fire himself.”
“Okay, and that helps me ... how?” Jack asked.
“The fire had to happen, Sir,” Sam interjected. “If the fire hadn't happened, the character would never have gone back in time.”
“Isn't that the self-fulfilling prophecy bit?” Jack asked, looking back and forth between Sam and Daniel.
“Yes and no,” Sam answered.
“Colonel, what it says is that there are many ways to bring about the exact same thing. General Hammond may have had one month to retire, but, even if he had, something else might have happened to bring him out of retirement, or stop it from happening all together,” Sam stated.
“My point still remains that if he *knew* there had to be a time when we went back through the Gate to 1969, then he had to know that we'd somehow survive all the other messes we've been in. Tell me I'm wrong,” Jack dared, turning to look at the major general.
Hammond leaned forward, his hands clasped on the table, and spoke, “I have always had an amazing belief in SG-1 to accomplish their missions. Whether that belief was born in 1969 or in 1997, I can't say. Colonel, I don't have a crystal ball, nor do I have the benefit of understanding the laws of physics like Captain Carter does, but I do have my gut, and my gut tells me that the people assembled here are unique. What that means, I don't know, but I'm glad to know you, all of you,” he said, taking the time to look at all four members of his flagship team, as well as at Janet.
“It's like the example Novikov used -- a billiards ball being fired into a wormhole in such a way that it would go back in time and collide with its earlier self, thereby knocking it off course and preventing it from entering the wormhole in the first place,” Sam put forth. “He discovered that the billiards ball could travel a number of paths and, therefore, many different trajectories could result from the same initial condition. It could be knocked slightly off course and miss hitting itself, or it could only lightly tap itself and not go too far off course.”
“Carter, my headache is coming back,” Jack stated.
Sam concluded, “Novikov found that the probability of consistent events was nonzero, and ...” Seeing Jack's glare, she said, “Well, he believed that no matter what a time traveler might try to do, he will always end up accomplishing consistent non-paradoxical actions. In other words, we could have done a number of different things in 1969, but, ultimately, we'd end up right back where we are now.”
“Wondering if General Hammond knew all of our missions would end ... happily?” Daniel asked.
“Son, I knew no such thing,” Hammond responded. “I hoped, but that's the most I could do. I had to trust in my own instincts, as well as your own.”
“Because you never knew if you could do something to throw off the timeline,” Janet surmised.
“Yes. What if I hadn't seen your hand, Captain?” Hammond questioned.
“But you knew she injured it on PJ2-445,” Daniel spoke.
“Plant people,” Jack interjected.
“Yes, but in the last two years, you people have been a magnet for injuries. It wasn't until I saw her hand, the way the cut was and the style of bandaging used to protect it, before the mission that I knew for sure this was that moment I'd been waiting for.”
“You weren't sure we'd get back,” Sam surmised, not sure whether or not to be troubled or amused.
“I wasn't sure,” Hammond confided with a reverent nod.
“Argos,” Daniel suddenly spoke in a whisper, earning him looks from everyone.
“*Old* news, Daniel,” Jack spoke, thinking back about the planet he'd been on when he had aged to that of a very old man.
“Yes, but my point is, you ordered us not to go back, even though we wanted to,” Daniel reminded as he stared at the major general. “I was angry, and you were resolute.”
Sam smiled and said, “You knew that something, somehow had to happen to save the colonel.”
“It's why you didn't hesitate to let us go back when Jack contacted us,” Daniel pointed out.
“That something, somehow had happened, Doctor. I knew I wouldn't understand, but I was counting on you people to understand it,” Hammond admitted as the others in the room smiled.
“Sir,” Daniel said quietly. “Thank you ... for the note.”
The simple sentence filled the air with a tender poignancy as the friends let the experience settle.
“I think we've said all we can say,” Hammond spoke, standing up. “Dismissed and ... welcome home, SG-1.”
Everyone stood, Daniel being the slowest to get up. One by one, they left the briefing room until just Sam and Daniel were left.
“Daniel, are you okay?” Sam asked as she stood in the doorway.
“Sam, while we were back there, did you consider staying? I mean, just for a minute?”
“No, Daniel. I had a momentary urge to take off and see my mom again, but I wouldn't want to go back. I've worked too hard to get where I am today. I wanted to come home. You?”
“Just a ... momentary urge,” Daniel admitted with a soft smile. He walked over to doorway and added, “I wanted to come home, too.”
“Yeah,” Daniel agreed, the two friends walking away as they headed for the commissary.
That night, Jack and Daniel were sitting in the archaeologist's apartment, snuggled together on the sofa, each sipping a cup of hot chocolate. Both were dressed in their sweats, Jack's gray and Daniel's brown. The older man's arm was around his lover's shoulder. They were both engrossed in a concert video they'd rented.
“Do you think this is where they were going?” Daniel asked.
“They said they were going to a concert in New York. We went back to August '69. Woodstock began on the fifteenth, so, yeah, I think they're there, somewhere,” Jack said as he watched.
“I wonder what happened to them,” Daniel said.
“We didn't get their last names; no way of finding out,” Jack stated, a bit of regret in his voice.
Daniel turned to look at his lover, commenting, “You are curious.”
“Yeah,” Jack admitted. He drank a bit more of his hot chocolate, then added, “I'd like to know he made it.”
“Are you sure he went?”
Thoughtfully, Jack answered, “He went. He didn't want to kill, but he wasn't the deserter type. I saw courage in his eyes.”
“Maybe he served his time, came back, and married Jenny,” Daniel suggested.
“Maybe they had a house full of children,” Jack guessed.
A few minutes later, Daniel said, “Jack, my hair.”
“What?” the confused colonel asked.
“Cassandra looked at me and said she hardly recognized me with hair. What was that supposed to mean?” the younger man asked.
“It means ... one day you could compete with Hammond in a ...” Seeing Daniel's abject look of horror, Jack chuckled, “Danny, she could have been talking to Teal'c. He had that weird Afro wig on.”
“I guess that makes sense. He's bald, so why would she remember him *with* hair?”
“Daniel, I don't know, but then I don't know much about the future, but ... bald or hairy, I love you.”
Daniel sighed, saying, “I love you, too.” After a minute, he added, “But I also love my hair. Jack ...”
“Danny, don't make it one of Carter's self-fulfilling prophecies. We can't be sure what Cass meant or who she was talking to,” Jack insisted.
“I think she was looking at me; Sam even looked at me after Cassie said that,” Daniel pointed out.
“So ... I guess I won't worry about it; nothing I could do, anyway,” Daniel remarked.
“So, why worry?”
“Yeah, why?” Daniel responded with a light chuckle.
Towards the end of the video, Jack suddenly asked, “Any regrets about coming back to our time?”
“No. I admit that it was tempting to contact my parents, but that wasn't my time, Jack. Besides, I ... I like it right where I am,” Daniel replied tenderly.
Jack looked at his lover, asking, “Do you?”
Jack leaned forward to kiss his lover.
“Marshmallow,” Daniel spoke after the kiss.
“I need another marshmallow,” the younger stated, getting up and heading for the kitchen.
“Geez, I kiss you, and you think of marshmallows?” Jack whined.
“Well, you are a bit of a softie yourself, Babe. Want one?” Daniel asked, returning to the living room and holding up the bag.
“Two, and I'll take a refill,” Jack said, holding up his mug as the lovers continued to enjoy their evening.
“Sam, I could use some ... what's that?” Daniel asked, having walked into Sam's lab and over to where the captain was working on the computer. He was intrigued by the listing of names he saw appearing on her screen. “Is that what I think it is?”
The woman sighed, “Daniel, we could never contact them, but aren't you curious?”
“Oh, yeah. Jack and I were talking about that last night, but we don't know their last names.”
“No, but we do know Michael had been drafted and that he was to report sometime after Woodstock. From our conversation, I don't think it was that long afterwards.”
“So, this is a list ...”
“Of everyone with Michael as a first or middle name, with a report date between the twentieth of August and the first of September. It's a good bet he was from one of the western states, so I'm hoping that will help me refine the list, and I'm also looking for beneficiaries named Jenny.”
“It's a long shot,” Daniel stated.
“Let me know if you find him,” the archaeologist stated.
“I will. Ah, what did you need?” Sam inquired.
“Oh, yeah, I need your opinion ...” Daniel began, explaining how Sam could help him with some research he was doing.
Meanwhile, on Level 27, Jack whistled as he entered Hammond's office. With a smile, he tossed a check atop the file the major general was reading.
“Paid in full, Sir,” Jack chimed.
Hammond chuckled, taking the check and slipping it into his pocket.
“You're really going to take it ... General?” Jack asked, his eyes growing big.
“Colonel, do you know how much a lieutenant got paid back in 1969? You bet your wings I'm keeping this.”
Jack smiled ruefully, saying, “Don't cash it until payday.”
Hammond laughed, “Get out of here.”
“Yes, Sir,” Jack responded, giving his commander a half-salute and then walking towards the door. “General, you aren't withholding any other experiences from us, are you?”
“Colonel, would I do that?”
“No, of course, not ... Sir,” Jack said as he walked out the door. His hand was still on the rim of the door when he looked back and caught a smirk from the bald-headed man. ~Nah, he'd tell us. I think.~ As he walked away, he looked through the large windows at his friend, saying, “Maybe he would, or maybe he wouldn't.”
More confused than ever, Jack went in search of his lover, deciding that he needed a kiss, ~or maybe two or three,~ to get him through the day. After all, he'd rather think about Daniel than ponder time travel, even if both occasionally gave him a headache.
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