Visceral Discord

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Angst, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  9 - October 26-27, 2005
Spoilers:  Prototype, Ripple Effect
Size:  88kb
Written:  February 23-25,27,29, March 2,4,29, April 1,6-8, 2008
Summary:  Daniel struggles with ethics, personal and professional, when the team comes face to face with Anubis' clone.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Sunshine Down”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Tonya, Irina, Jo, Linda, Melissa, Keri, Ali!

Visceral Discord
by Orrymain

“Do you think we should get up?” a fairly alert Jack asked as he ran his fingers through his lover's hair while the two relaxed in bed early in the morning.

“No.  Sleep more,” Daniel replied, yawning and barely awake enough to even answer the question.

Jack chuckled lightly as he responded, “My night owl.”

“My early bird,” Daniel mumbled.  “Sleep.  Go sleep more.”

“Yeah, but ...”  Jack blinked as he raised his head just slightly.  “Danny?  Angel?” Amused, the silver-haired man laid his head back on his pillow and happily sighed, “It doesn't get any better than this.”

====

Meanwhile, at the SGC, Sam caught sight of the base commander exiting the elevator upon his arrival and called out, “General Hammond.”

Jack and Daniel were both on downtime today, while Teal'c was at the Air Force Academy evaluating potential recruits for the Stargate program.  Only Sam was on duty at the SGC at the moment.

“Colonel,” Hammond greeted as the blonde began to walk alongside him towards his office.

“I need you to read this.”

“What is it?” Hammond asked as he took possession of the file.

“It's a report from the Tok'ra.  They've discovered a gravitational disturbance with their long range sensors.”

“Any idea what it could be?” Hammond questioned.

“Well, it could simply be a yet undiscovered black hole, but the Tok'ra won't have a ship in range for some time.  I've located a planet with a Stargate close to the disturbance.  If you'll permit me to ...”

“SG-1 can check it out tomorrow,” Hammond interrupted.

“Sir, I don't think this should wait.  If you'll permit me to take another team ...” Sam began, restating her original request that the general had interrupted.

With a nod, Hammond replied, “SG-5 should be available.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

====

“Now, if you're a good boy, you may get a treat,” Daniel said, standing in front of the king-sized bed as he smiled wickedly at his lover.  He'd just gotten up to visit the bathroom and get a drink of juice from downstairs.  Walking back in, he saw his husband practically begging as he drooled while staring at the archaeologist from his spot on the bed.  Looking down, the younger man realized he hadn't pulled tight the sash on his robe, and his naked body was protruding through the opening.  “Open!”

Jack opened his mouth as Daniel tossed him a piece of the donut he'd brought upstairs with him.  The general easily caught the chocolate glazed nibble and let it slide down his tongue until he swallowed it.

“Where's my treat?” Jack asked.

“Here, Boy!” Daniel called out, putting down his glass of juice and completely pulling open his robe.

“Woof!” Jack called out as he lunged off the bed and crouched down in front of his lover and began to taste his husband.

====

As lunchtime approached, the lovers had finally risen to move on with their day.  They didn't have any plans and were playing it by ear as the day wore on.

“Woof!”

Daniel looked over at the sound.  It wasn't a human imitation of a dog bark he'd just heard, but the call of his beloved Katie, who was with her mother, Bijou.  Both beagles were standing by the door with their tails wagging.

“Oh, I see,” Daniel chuckled.  “Jack?” he called out loudly.

“Study,” Jack shouted back.

Walking into the room, the archaeologist stated, “The girls want to go for a walk.”

“I'm right in the middle of this article.  How about getting a head start, and I'll meet you at the park in about fifteen minutes?”

“Happy reading,” Daniel acknowledged with a smile, turning around to get the beagles into their harnesses.

====

Waiting for his husband at the park, Daniel had the girls on a very long lead, letting them roam quite a bit ahead of him.  His mind suddenly went to a project he and Sam were working on, and he became curious to see if she'd made any headway this morning.  Pulling out his cell phone, he dialed the Mountain.

“Carter.”

“Hey, Sam, it's Daniel.”

“Hi, Daniel.  What's up?” the colonel asked as she stood in the control room.

“I was just wondering if you'd made any progress with that information we discussed yesterday.”

“Actually, we're in the middle of a mini-crisis, maybe,” Sam stated.

“Mini-crisis?”

“Yeah,” the colonel affirmed.  “We had a redirect of our transport system.  We intended to go one place, but ended up someplace else.  We're running a diagnostic now, but, in the meantime, we've shut the system down.”

“Any ideas what happened?”

“Not yet, but we're working on it.  Listen, I need to go.”

“Right.  Talk to you later,” Daniel said, disconnecting the call and returning his cell phone to his pocket.  He looked over at the canines and smiled.  They were having a good time.  ~But I have the funniest feeling.~

“Hey,” Jack called out, waving as he jogged toward his husband.  “Sorry.  Had a phone call from Andy about our next poker game,” he said as he reached his lover.  “Danny, are you okay?” he asked, sensing a change had come over the archaeologist since he'd left the house.

“Jack, I just talked to Sam, and she said the Gate malfunctioned.”

“How?” the older man asked.

“She's not sure, but it sent one of the teams to the wrong place.  They've halted all Gate travel until they figure it out.”

“Well, you know Carter and doohickeys,” Jack mused.  “By tomorrow, it'll be fixed.”

“Yeah,” Daniel acknowledged, smiling as the beagles found a bug to play with momentarily.

The couple walked onward a few yards, neither saying anything.

“Talk to me, Danny.”

“I just have a funny feeling about this malfunction.  I don't know why, but I do,” Daniel said.

Jack sighed, nodding as he called out, “Bij, Katie, playtime is over.”  Seeing his lover's surprised expression, he explained, “We might as well go to the Mountain and figure this out.  Otherwise, you'll be thinking about it all day.”

“Are you mad?”

“Danny, we've had a great morning.  Let's take the girls home, have a quick bite to eat, and head on over to the Mountain.”

“I love you.”

“That's why I'm not mad,” Jack chuckled as the lovers shared an endearing look, both kneeling down to pat the beagles when they ran over to them.

====

Jack and Daniel were in the second elevator that traveled to the lowest levels of Cheyenne Mountain when it stopped and Major Altman got in.

“Altman, do you know what's going on with the Stargate?” Jack questioned.

“Colonel Carter wanted to check out a disturbance P3X-584.  She thought it might be a black hole.”

“Oh, joy,” Jack interjected.  “I hate those things.”

“So, was it a ... black hole?” Daniel asked.

“We don't know.  When we arrived on the planet, there was no sign of the MALP.  The colonel checked our telemetry based on known star positions, and we realized we weren't on P3X-584,” Altman explained.  “The general ordered a complete diagnostic of the system and halted all Gate travel until they can figure out why we ended up where we did.”

“What about the off-world teams?” Jack questioned.

“Alpha Site?” Daniel surmised, getting a nod from the major.

“I think I'd better check in with Hammond,” the silver-haired man stated as he looked at his soulmate.

“I believe he's in his office, Sir.”

“What about Sam?” Daniel asked.

“Probably in the control room, working on the diagnostic.”

“Thank you,” the archaeologist replied as the elevator doors opened.

====

In the control room, Sam looked over Sergeant Davis' shoulder and ordered, “Run the cross-comparison program.”

“Hey!  How's it goin'?” Daniel asked upon entering the room.

“What are you doing here?” Sam queried in surprise as she greeted her friend with a quick smile.

“I just thought I should be here.”

“What about ...”

Daniel nodded, a silent affirmation that Jack, too, was present, and informed her, “Major Altman filled us in a few minutes ago.”

“We still don't know much, but as far as our computer is concerned, the dialing sequence to P3X-584 ran perfectly normal.”

“Except for the fact you ended up twelve thousand light years off course,” Daniel interjected.

“Yeah,” Sam confirmed quietly.

“Oh, here's something,” Davis stated, his screen showing a  large amplitude bump in the signal recorded from the Stargate.

“Huh.  Maybe it wasn't our fault,” Sam conjectured as she saw the warning -- 'Abnormal Signature' -- flash on the monitor.

“I thought it was always our fault,” Daniel smirked.

“We just ran a program that compares the energy signatures of the last thirty outbound trips to look for anomalies.”

“It's kinda like a ... bump,” Davis noted.

“A bump?” Daniel questioned, watching as Davis zoomed out to show him the 'bump' that was occurring at regular intervals.

“Actually, more like a series of bumps, exactly eight-point-five seconds apart,” Sam observed.

Teasingly, Daniel remarked, “Oh, well, that explains everything.”

“Actually, it might,” the astrophysicist responded.  “We need to talk to General Hammond.”

“I'll see if he's available,” Daniel offered.

“Thanks, Daniel,” Sam replied as she began to gather up the graphs and reports she'd need for the briefing.

====

Standing by the large screen and studying its display, Hammond surmised, “Defense mechanism?”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam confirmed.  “I think each of these spikes represents a request by the off-world Gate for an authorization code.”

“If the correct authorization code is not entered in time, we are prevented from reaching the planet,” Teal'c stated, having been recalled from his assignment at the Academy to help out with the ongoing situation.

Sitting down and looking at Sam, Hammond replied, “That doesn't explain how you and SG-5 ended up half way across the galaxy.”

“Well, I have a theory about that, too.  Instead of using an iris, like we do, the off-world Gate stores incoming data in its buffer system.  Then, if the correct code isn't received, it dials a random address, and it empties the buffer into the new wormhole,” Sam explained.

“Interstellar call forwarding, huh?” Jack questioned.  “Nice!”

“How did the MALP get through to 584?” Daniel asked.  “I mean, initial telemetry confirmed it was on the right planet.”

“My guess is the 584 security system filters incoming matter based on certain protocol.  Organic versus inanimate, for instance.”

“Wow!  That seems like an awful lot of trouble to keep people out,” the archaeologist responded.

“Which makes me curious as to what's being hidden there,” Sam replied, clearly intrigued by the puzzle.

“Always want what you can't have,” Jack teased.

“I've calculated it'll take the Prometheus two weeks to reach 584 at maximum speed,” Sam stated.

“Can you figure out a way to crack this authorization code?” Hammond asked.

“We'll certainly try, Sir,” Sam responded.

“Keep me advised,” Hammond replied.  “Dismissed.”

As the team filtered out of the room, Jack reached forward, tapping on his lover's elbow and asking, “Do you still have that feeling?”

“Yeah, I do,” the archaeologist confirmed.

“I just hope we don't end up in another reality.  It's getting kinda old,” Jack teased lightly as the two went on their way.

====

“So help me if we end up in another reality ...” Jack began.

“Jack, get over it,” Daniel admonished.  “You've been saying that for an hour already.  Sam knows what she's doing,” he said, glancing up at the colonel, who was in the control room, studying the MALP transmission as it went through the Stargate.

“I know what you're saying, Daniel,” Jack responded.  “I'm just saying I want to stay in this reality.”

~I just want this feeling I have to go away,~ the archaeologist thought as the team continued to wait for Sam to join them.

--

In the control room, Sam stated, “We placed a bacterial culture inside the MALP's cargo compartment.  Hopefully, the organic material will force the 584 Gate to hold the MALP and ask for an authorization code.”

“I'm receiving the Gate's authorization request,” the sergeant advised.

“Now we just hope this program works,” Sam added, watching the display on the monitor.

--

“Well?” Jack asked when Sam finally entered the gate room.

“It worked.  We saw a transmission with the first MALP, so we're clear to go,” Sam responded.

“SG-5, move out,” Jack ordered the other team that was accompanying SG-1 on the mission.  “We'd better not end up ...”

“Jack!” Daniel interrupted.

“I was just saying that I like our own reality,” the general responded as Teal'c walked by them, following SG-5 through the event horizon.

“Let's like it through the Stargate,” Daniel suggested, extending his arm towards the circular ring.

“Does it say 'general' anywhere on my uniform?”

“No,” Daniel answered.  “Move.”

“He gets so bossy sometimes,” Jack whined as he headed up the Stargate, leaving Sam chuckling at the lovers as she followed them up the ramp.

Emerging through the wormhole, Jack said, “All right, let's see what all the fuss is about.”

“Well, we'll have to wait till nightfall to get a visual confirmation of the black hole.”  Looking at Altman, Sam instructed, “In the meantime, Major, you can set up the gravity sensors.”  Facing her CO, she added, “I'll make sure we can dial home.”

“You do that,” Jack smirked, watching Sam walk over to the DHD.  Reaching over, Jack activated the video transmitter on the MALP and said, “SGC, this is O'Neill.  We have arrived safely.”

“Thank you Colonel.  We'll dial again in fifteen minutes.  Prometheus is standing by,” Hammond responded.

“Hopefully, that won't be necessary, Sir.  O'Neill out,” Jack stated, turning off the link, after which the Stargate shut down.  Looking at Daniel and Teal'c, he opined, “I'd rather not wait around two weeks for a ride.”  After a moment, he ordered, “Fan out, and take a look around.  I'm gonna check on Carter's progress.”

With a nod, the teammates separated, and Jack headed over to where his 2IC was examining the DHD.

“Carter?” Jack called out, seeing his second kneeling down by the DHD.

“I think I found the problem,” Sam stated as she looked at the output she was getting on her laptop that was attached to the pedestal of the DHD.

“Doesn't look familiar,” Jack stated, shrugging when Sam looked at him incredulously for making such a comment.  “Have you seen anything like it before?”

“Nope, and I don't want to remove it until I know exactly how it's connected to the system.  The good news is, it won't affect any outbound dialing.”

“Colonel Carter, we've got the gravity sensors up and running,” Altman called out over the radio.

“Good.  I'll be right there,” Sam replied.

“Hey, guys, it's Daniel,” the archaeologist called out over his radio.  “You might wanna come and check this out first.”

“I got it,” Jack stated.  “You check out the black hole,” he said as he moved away from the DHD.

====

A couple of minutes later, Jack arrived at the clearing where his teammates were examining a ring platform.

“It's amazing what people leave laying around,” Jack remarked.  “Where do those go?”

“Only one way to find out,” Daniel answered with a smile.

“I had a hunch you were going to say that,” Jack sighed.

The rings transported the three teammates to an underground cavern that was completely dark.  Turning on their flashlights, they began to explore the area, walking forward and then fanning out a bit.

“I don't think anyone's been home for a while,” Jack opined.

“Looks like some kind of science lab,” Daniel observed.

Referring to a raised circular platform on the floor, Teal'c stated, “This looks familiar.  It is Nirrti's DNA Manipulation Device.”

Jack let out a groan as he walked over to look the object.  Meanwhile, Daniel, giving only slight consideration to the fact that he shouldn't, pressed some buttons on the pedestal, resulting in the device activating, generating a large, colorful hologram of a DNA strand.  The strand included labels written in yellow that pointed to individual genes.

“This writing's in Ancient,” Daniel stated.

“What's it say?”

“I'm not sure yet,” the linguist answered.

“Let's keep looking around,” Jack suggested as he walked away, shining his flashlight across the room to see what else was there.

Daniel and Teal'c did the same, wanting to get a clearer idea of what exactly the room was for before concentrating on translating the writing.

The archaeologist walked around, shining his flashlight to see what he could find.  He found himself thinking about how dark it was and then he stopped, that funny feeling causing his insides to churn.  More disturbing, he suddenly recalled a conversation he'd had with one of his counterparts when SG-1 had accidentally gated to one of those other realities that his lover dreaded so much.

//Flashback//
“We found a cavern,” the alternate Daniel told the archaeologist as they discussed a particularly bad mission he'd been on.

SG-1 had actually learned about the mission in an earlier conversation, but Jack had erupted in anger upon hearing the tale and pulled his team away from those telling it.  As a result, this was Daniel's first opportunity to try and learn more about the event.

“Mitchell was trying to be funny as we looked around.”

“So, what happened?” Daniel inquired curiously.

“Well, I found a panel, a ... pedestal with some buttons on it, so I did what always drove Jack crazy.”

Daniel smiled and said, “You pressed them.”

“Well, I had an inkling what it would be, and I was right.  The device activated, revealing a hologram of a DNA strand.  I told Mitchell, 'This writing's in Ancient'.”

“And?” Daniel questioned the man who looked just like him.

“I'm not sure what he was doing, but all of a sudden Mitchell says, 'Oh, I was wrong.  There is someone home',” the alternate Daniel answered.  “I had no idea what he was referring to, but I saw him standing by a chamber with some buttons on it.  I just knew what he was about to do.”

“Touch something he shouldn't,” Daniel surmised, bobbing his head up and down a few times.

“Yeah.  I called out, 'Wait!  Wait!' and ran to try and stop him, but I was too late.  I mean, uh, what was he thinking, pressing buttons written in Ancient that he had no clue what they meant?”

“What was his excuse?”

The alternate Daniel sneered, answering, “That he was looking for a light switch.  We could hear something activating, and I was just ... just ...”

“Livid?”

“Yeah,” the alternate archaeologist affirmed.  “I just looked at him and called out, 'New guy!' in exasperation.  I thought Jack was bad.  This guy looks at me and says, 'Hey, you touched that', like that gave him permission or something.”  He looked away for a second, shaking his head. “I had to remind him that I knew how to read that, uh, Ancient.  We didn't have time to talk argue about it anymore, though.  The chamber was active, and we'd just set in motion a chain of events that almost destroyed Earth.”
//End of Flashback//

~Oh, crap,~ Daniel thought, closing his eyes as he realized that, though it was happening somewhat differently than in the alternate reality, SG-1 was about to unleash those same chain of events on their Earth.

Suddenly, Jack's internal 'Daniel Alarm' went off.  His stomach was in a knot, and he knew something was wrong.  He turned around, flashing the light on his lover, who was standing still as a statue on the other side of the room.

“Daniel?” Jack called out as he approached.

“You were wrong, Jack.  Someone is home,” the archaeologist spoke vulnerably as he stared into the chamber where a man was standing, his upper body unclothed.

“Oh, crap!” Jack exclaimed, making the connection to the story he, too, had heard while in the other reality.

Teal'c walked over and stated, “It is reasonable to assume this is Khalek of whom we learned about in the alternate reality.”

“Yes, I think that's a logical assumption,” Jack sighed, still staring at the man in stasis.  “Daniel?”

“If this is Khalek, what are we going to do?”

“For right now, nothing,” Jack stated.  He reached for the radio and questioned, “Carter, what's happening?”

“We're good to go, Sir,” Sam responded.

“Good.  Everyone back to the Gate -- now!”

“Is something wrong?” Sam asked, noting the urgency and concern in her commanding officer's voice.

“You might say that,” Jack responded, ending the transmission.  “Let's go.”

Teal'c headed back for the rings, but Daniel just stood, frozen in place.

“Danny, we'll figure it out.”

Daniel stared at his husband and asked, “Figure out what?  Jack, we can't just leave him here for someone to find, but if we ... if ...”

“Daniel, let's take this discussion back to the SGC,” Jack stated, wanting desperately to get his lover out of the room.  “Come on.”

The archaeologist gave the man in stasis one more look before following his lover to the rings.

Once topside, Jack decided to leave SG-5 on the planet to guard the rings and make sure no one else showed up and revived Khalek.  Of course, he realized the odds on that happening were slim, but he couldn't take the chance either.

With SG-5 on guard, SG-1 returned to Earth.

====

“First things first,” General Hammond stated as the debriefing with SG-1 got underway in the conference room.  “Colonel, what about the disruption?”

“It looks like it's just a regular black hole, Sir,” Sam responded.  “I still have a couple of more observations to make, but I'm pretty sure that's all it is.”

“Good.  Now, you're certain this is the Khalek you found out about in the alternate reality?” Hammond asked the team.

Nodding, Jack affirmed, “Yes, Sir.”

“In the alternate reality, we were told that SG-1 had found a chamber with a man in stasis.  They told us they thought he might have been an Ancient at first, but then they'd believed he was just a man, who had been used in some sort of DNA experiment, just like what Nirrti had done on Hanka with Cassandra and the other children,” Sam explained.

“It all fits, Sir,” Jack added.

“Then the man in stasis, Khalek, is the cloned son of Anubis,” Hammond stated, his eyes going from Jack to Sam to Daniel and then to Teal'c.

“It would seem so, General,” Jack reaffirmed.

“Actually, the term used by most of the other Daniels from other realities was 'genetic hybrid',” Daniel spoke, his voice a monotone as he finally joined the discussion.  “They said Khalek was grown in the lab where they'd found him.”

Jack stared at his lover. He knew the inner turmoil that Daniel was going through. He felt it himself.

“What does that mean exactly?” Hammond inquired.

“It means that he may not have a snake in his head, but he has Goa'uld DNA intermingled with his own.  Call him a clone, a hybrid, or whatever you want to, but for all intents and purposes, Khalek *is* the son of Anubis,” Daniel stated, his tone sharp, but low.

Jack couldn't help but notice that his archaeologist hadn't looked at anyone while talking.  Rather, he'd just looked downward, at the tabletop in front of him.  There was a storm brewing within the young man's body, and Jack knew he had to figure out a way to keep the winds from being destructive.

“Suggestions?” Hammond asked his flagship team.

Silence loomed for several seconds before Sam reminded that she did need to return to the planet just to finalize her theory about the black hole.

Finally, Daniel said softly, “I don't have the details about what they, the other Daniels, discovered in the Ancient writings, so, uh, I need to go back to the lab.  There may something there that could help us.”

“Unfortunately, Sir, while we learned a lot from our other selves, we didn't have time to get all the details about every situation they told us about,” Sam stated.

“ColonelCarter is correct.  This will happen again,” Teal'c opined.

“In other words, General, that little visit to the alternate reality has given us a heads up, but that's it.  We still have to figure out how to deal with this,” Jack summarized.

“And anything else we may stumble across in the future,” Daniel noted, a hint of dread in his voice.

Nodding, Hammond stood and said, “Dismissed.”

“We'll leave in thirty minutes,” Jack stated.

“Why not now?” Daniel asked, finally looking over at his life partner.

“Because I'm the leader of this team, and that's what I said,” Jack replied sternly, motioning for Sam and Teal'c to exit, which they did promptly.

Daniel watched the two leave and asked, “Jack?”

“We're gonna have a little talk first.  My office,” Jack ordered, heading for the door.  He stopped, looking back at his lover, who hadn't moved.  “Daniel -- now.”

====

“Jack, we should be back on the planet ...”

“We will be,” Jack replied, using the remote to turn off the security equipment, after which he locked his office door.

“Jack ...”

“Daniel,” the older man said as he approached his lover, taking the man into his arms.

Daniel moved into the embrace slowly and full of uncertainty.  He raised his hands to his lover's back, though his hands rested in place instead of gently rubbing the small of the back as was his norm.

“Danny, talk to me.”

“What do you want me to say?”

“What you're feeling,” Jack requested softly.

“*You* want to talk about feelings?” Daniel mused, though it was a thinly disguised attempt at levity.

“We know how things played out in most of those realities,” Jack stated.  “You ended up killing that hybrid snake, while Mitchell played decoy.”

Daniel pulled back and looked into his Love's eyes, seeing the residual anger lurking there at what had happened in those realities.

“I know that you don't want me doing that,” the younger man said as he turned and walked a few steps away before facing his Love again.

“Daniel, trust me, there is no way in Netu we are going to end up with a scenario even close to that.  Not gonna happen,” Jack assured.

“So, what do we do?” Daniel asked.  “It's not just that I killed him, Jack; it's ... it's what I suggested, or, rather, what some of the other me's suggested.”  He paused and then spoke rapidly, saying.  “We can't just leave that stasis pod there. It's too risky, even if we kept a team there to guard it nonstop.  On the other hand, if we revive him, what choice are we ultimately going to have?”

“Maybe we can move him to the station in Antarctica.  Security is better there,” Jack suggested.

“I don't know, Jack.  It makes me nervous just knowing he's there, thousands of light years away.  I could never rest if he were here on Earth.”

Jack sighed, his eyes fixed on Daniel's cerulean blue ones that were full of emotion right now.  They both knew what had to be done.  While Jack wouldn't lose any sleep over it, his husband would.

“Protecting Earth is our first responsibility,” Jack replied.  He let out a sigh and said, “Danny, we don't have to be part of what happens to that thing.”

“We already are.  Whether we're physically there or not, we're the ones making the decision, and you can't change that.”

“Hammond makes the call.”

“He'll do what we advise, and he'll ask us, Jack.  You know that,” the younger man stated with certainty.

Jack walked over to his lover and ran his hands along his lover's upper arms and then squeezing on both supportively as he replied, “Danny, tell me what you're feeling.”

“I'm feeling like I hate myself, or part of me anyway,” Daniel confided as he spoke his innermost feelings to the man who was his anchor in life.  “It's like there are two of me right now.  One part says it's not right to kill without complete, total proof that it's necessary, and the other part of me thinks every second we keep him alive in that pod is dangerous.  Who are we to be the judge and jury before Khalek, *this* Khalek is even revived?  I mean, the only proof we have that he's ... bad is what we heard in other realities, but things, some things, are different.”

Daniel let out a huge sigh as he turned and placed his hands on the edge of his lover's desk.

“Danny ...”

“You want to know what I'm feeling?  I'm ... I'm feeling confused, angry, sad ... I don't know,” Daniel concluded, bowing his head in acknowledgement of the discord he was feeling inside.

“Okay,” Jack responded.

“Okay?” Daniel asked in surprise as he looked up at his lover.

“I just wanted to make sure you were dealing with your feelings, whatever they were.  Daniel, I don't know what the answer is ... yet, but we'll find it, together.  Right now, we need to get back to that planet and learn all we can.  The one thing I can tell you right now is that we aren't taking him out of stasis.”

Daniel nodded and headed for the door.

“Hey, wait a minute,” the older man said, reaching out and grabbing the other's man's elbow.

“What?” Daniel asked as he was gently spun around to face his soulmate.

“I love you,” Jack stated.  “We're gonna be okay.”

Daniel smiled, saying, “I know, and I love you, too.”

Jack tugged his Heart to him and raised his hand to caress Daniel's cheek.  He smiled as his brown eyes declared their love for the blue ones he was gazing at.  Then they kissed, a slow, gentle, loving expression of what they were feeling.

“Thank you.”

“For what?” Jack asked.

“Loving me,” Daniel answered.

“Easiest thing in the world to do,” Jack responded.

“That's a cliché,” Daniel teased.

“If the shoe fits,” the older man joked as the two headed for the door, both feeling a little bit better than they had before their private meeting.

====

Jack walked over to his lover, who had stopped working on his translations and was now standing directly in front of the stasis pod, seemingly in a stasis of his own.

“Daniel, what are you doing?”

“Contemplating murder,” the younger man answered with unabashed honesty.

“Danny,” Jack spoke quietly.

“I'm okay,” Daniel assured.  “It's just ... I'm not sure there's any other answer.  I guess that's why some of the other Daniel's suggested it in the first place.  They were just trying to protect Earth.”

“But?” the older man prodded quietly.

“But ... that's still a harsh statement to make,” Daniel answered, his mind drifting back to another conversation he'd had about the Khalek situation, this one with the Daniel who lived in the actual reality SG-1 had been sent to by mistake.

//Flashback//
“Khalek?  You want to know about Khalek?” the alternate Daniel inquired as he and Daniel sat across from each other in the mess hall, the surrounded by several other familiar faces.

“Well, specifically, about the briefing, about ... your choice,” Daniel answered probingly.

“I think I know what you mean.  We'd found Khalek and met with Landry.  He wanted to know what options we had.  Mitchell suggested putting him back in his pod, but Sam said she didn't think we could bring the pod from the planet back to Earth.  Teal'c was concerned about the security, if we just left Khalek there.  Sam suggested posting guards, and Mitchell brought up the possibility of the using the pod in Antarctica.”

Sensing a slight change in his look-a-like, Daniel interjected, “That's when you spoke up.”

Nodding, the alternate Daniel affirmed, “That's when I spoke up.  I said something like, 'Look, I think we need to consider whether we want to preserve him at all'.  You could have heard a pin drop, so I knew I had to explain myself.”

“They weren't expecting you to make a comment like that.”

“No,” the other Daniel confirmed casually.  “I said, 'Look, the fact is, we don't know how successful Anubis was.  Khalek is advanced, yes, but we don't know how far along he actually is.  Now, if he is aware of his own state of evolutionary advancement, and I'll bet you anything he is, it's possible the only thing keeping him from ascending right now is that he hasn't figured out how'.”

“How did the others respond?” Daniel queried as he held onto his coffee mug tightly.

“The general wanted to know what it would take. I told him, 'I don't know, but if he can do it.  If ... if he knows how or figures out how, at the very least, we're going to have another Anubis on our hands, and at that point, it's going to be too late to stop him'.  Sam spoke up then and said Khalek couldn't progress his state of being while he was in stasis.”

“She had to have been surprised that you would suggest ... what you suggested.

“I was still explaining myself.  I told them, ' Look, you know I would never suggest this lightly, but he is what he is, and given the danger he poses, I think we have to ask ourselves, what is the point in keeping him alive at all?'  They really couldn't argue with that, even if some of them were shocked by my remarks.”

“So, they ... they agreed?”

“Not just then.  General Landry acknowledged my opinion, but said he wanted to contact Washington before making a decision,” the alternate Daniel answered.

“You really thought ... murder was the answer?”

“Daniel, we have a shared history here.  You know the score.  We're not who we used to be, and we have to face facts.”

“That seems a bit ... cold,” Daniel noted.

“It's the reality of our times, uh, whatever reality we're in, but it's close to being the ... same, right?”

“Apparently, but I can't imagine ever arguing on the side of murder,” Daniel said in a small challenge to his counterpart.

“Not even to protect the universe?” the other Daniel retorted, his eyes boring into Daniel's for the truth.
//End of Flashback//

The question had stayed buried in the archaeologist's mind since it had been asked.  He hadn't had to answer it on the other Earth because the other Daniel had been called away at that point in the conversation.  Now, Daniel was afraid he was going to have to answer it soon, and he wasn't sure he was going to like the answer.

“Daniel!  Danny!”

“What?”

“Where'd you go?” Jack questioned, having sensed his lover had gone to a faraway place.

“Sorry, I was just thinking.  What were you saying?”

“I said maybe it was a harsh remark, and maybe it wasn't, but we're not going to know by just standing here.  Get back to work,” the brigadier general instructed, motioning towards the console where the Ancient writings were.  He watched his lover walk away and sighed.  ~Angel, no matter what, this isn't going to be easy.~

====

A few hours later, the team was back in the briefing room to apprise Hammond of the latest.

“The log entry said Anubis managed to replicate his pre-ascension DNA using the genetic manipulation device.  Then, he combined it with human DNA and was able to rapidly grow Khalek,” Daniel reported, wondering how many Daniels in other realities had said the same thing before recommending Khalek be murdered.

“The analysis I did suggests that Khalek is significantly more evolved than we are.  Much more in line with the human form of the Ancients prior to ascension,” Doctor Carolyn Lam spoke, acting as the Chief of Medicine while Janet Fraiser focused on one of her research projects.

“So the other realities were right.  This guy has all kinds of weird super powers?” Jack questioned.

“Well, the subjects Nirrti manipulated demonstrated telekinetic and psychic abilities,” Sam responded.

“The goal of the experiment seems to have been to create an advanced human,” Daniel added.

“With a little Anubis blended in,” Hammond stated.

Looking at the archaeologist, Sam stated, “You said he used his pre-ascended DNA.  Do you think he was doing these experiments before he ascended?”

“No,” Daniel answered.  “See, that timeline doesn't track with the log.  Plus it says he had to reproduce his DNA, which means he was doing all this after he ascended and was sent back by the Ancients.  Well, halfway.”

“But this doesn't make any sense,” Sam interjected.  “Even a highly evolved human host wouldn't be as advanced as he was.  Why bother?”

“Maybe he didn't like being stuck in limbo.  Maybe even a small step back to mortality was worth it to him on some level,” Jack put forth.

“Perhaps he was attempting to create an even more powerful servant than the Kull warriors,” Teal'c suggested.

“No matter what Anubis' ultimate goal was, Khalek is extremely dangerous.  We have to decide what we're going to do with him,” Daniel stated somberly.  ~The fate of the universe: does it rest on whether or not we murder Khalek?  And do *I* have to be the one to suggest it?~

“Options?” Hammond questioned.

~'Options?'~  The word thundered through Daniel's mind.  In the other realities, that is the question General Landry had asked, the one other Daniels had answered by suggesting a solution that he just couldn't conceive of, but was afraid he might have to suggest in the end.  ~I'm not ready to make that choice.~

“Keep a guard on the place twenty-four/seven,” Jack suggested, starting out with the easier options.

“If we leave him there, others could circumvent the security and find him as we did,” Teal'c suggested.

“Even with the guards, there's always the possibility someone could get through,” Sam pointed out.  “There is the option of keeping him on Earth, but I doubt we could bring the pod from 584 here.”

“What about the Antarctica pod?” Jack asked, still sticking with the less harsh options.  ~I already know -- not gonna happen.~

~Oh, gawd.  It's exactly how that Daniel said it went.  Is it Fate?  I can't.  I don't have all the answers.  How do we know?  We're not God.  He is ... alive, and he had no say so in his creation.  How can I just arbitrarily suggest we murder him?~ Daniel asked himself, his stomach churning within him.  In fact, he felt like his stomach was in his throat at the moment.  ~Don't throw up.  Don't.  Do *not* throw up.~

“It's a possibility,” Sam acknowledged about using the pod that was currently in Antarctica.  “The base is remote and security would be easier there.”

~Why fight it?  I have to put it on the table.  It's an option, and it has to be discussed, whether or not I like it.~  Biting the bullet, Daniel said, “I think the real question is lurking below the surface.  None of us want to say it or think about it, but we know for a fact from the alternate realities how dangerous Khalek is.  We haven't seen it for ourselves, but I guess we have to ask ourselves if we want to risk waking him up, or if we ...”

“General, maybe we should take care of the problem before it is a problem,” Jack said, not wanting his lover to continue verbalizing what he was thinking.

“General?” Hammond questioned the silver-haired man.

“This guy is a danger to Earth and to the universe.  There's no doubt about that.  We do what we'd do with anyone that risky.”  Jack paused and said, “We make sure he can't wake up -- ever.”

“It wouldn't be our first choice, Sir,” Sam interjected, looking at the others a bit nervously, “but it might be best choice, considering what we know of Anubis, as well as what we learned in the other reality.”

“They're right,” Daniel agreed hesitantly.  “But, maybe we can find a way.”

“What are you suggesting?” Jack asked, both curious and concerned.  ~I sense an idea.  Come on, Angel.  Pull another rabbit out of your hat.~

“Look, the fact is, we don't know how successful Anubis was.  We can assume from what we were told that Khalek is advanced, yes, but we don't know just how advanced.  I know it's a risk, but this is *our* reality, and I believe we ... we have to be true to our own standards and to ourselves.  We can't just ... kill someone without knowing for sure.”  Daniel paused, looking over at his lover.  “That is what you were suggesting, right?  That we ... kill him.”

“Daniel, if that thing finishes ascending, and isn't that what we've agreed is the goal?” Jack asked.

“I think that's a safe assumption,” Sam replied.

“So, if that thing finishes the job, we'd be in a bad place.  We couldn't fight him; we know that,” Jack stated.

“Look, Jack,” Daniel paused and looked over at General Hammond as he continued, “Sir, *we* have to take advantage of what we learn, but this is our Earth, and we have to live with ourselves.  I know it's a risk, but we have to wake him up.”

Jack studied his lover carefully.  He wasn't convinced he agreed, but this was his Daniel, and his Daniel had just made a choice, and it was the right choice.

~One part of the problem solved,~ Jack sighed inwardly.  ~We'll figure out the solution to the other part as we go along here.~

“If we wake him up and he becomes aware of his own state of evolutionary advancement, the only possible thing that would keep him from ascending would be if he couldn't figure out how,” Sam stated.

“Are you saying that he might not know who he is if we wake him up?”  Hammond questioned.

“He'll know,” Daniel stated.  “But he may not fully realize what he's capable of for a while.  The point is, once he does become aware, he will eventually figure it out, and, when he does, we're going to have another Anubis on our hands.”

“And then, Sir, it'll be too late to stop him,” Jack stated, knowing the words had to be said.  Daniel had made a choice, to lay it all out, but he'd ultimately fight for revival.  ~We gotta say it all, though.~

“Well, if we keep him in stasis, he won't be able to progress,” Sam pointed out.

“Which puts us back where we started,” Daniel stated.

“Let's be honest,” Jack interjected.  “We know he's a big, honkin' threat to the universe, so what's the point in keeping him alive at all?”

“Because we know what we know, Jack, but he's still a life, and we can't take a life casually,” Daniel argued.

“This isn't casual, Daniel,” Jack responded.  “This is protecting ourselves and our neighbors.”

“By committing murder?”

“That's a good question, Doctor Jackson, and it's not one we can answer here at this table.  The decision belongs higher up,” Hammond responded.  “I'll contact Washington.”  Standing up, he added, “In the meantime, get some rest, people. It's been a long day, and I want everyone fresh if the decision comes down to wake up that hybrid.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged, both he and Sam having stood up when Hammond had.  After the higher-ranking general had returned to his office, Jack ordered, “I know everyone has things they want to do, but you heard the man.”

Reluctantly, the team separated with the intent of going to their respective homes and getting some rest.  First, though, Jack had a couple of obligations to attend to, so Daniel headed for his office to wait for him.

====

Twenty minutes later, Jack stood in the doorway and saw his archaeologist standing by a shelf of artifacts, just staring at them.

“Daniel,” Jack called out, walking in and going as far as the worktable, which he then leaned against and folded his arms.

“It's funny, Jack.  We make decisions all the time.  We kill all the time, but this is different.  If he'd been brought out of stasis and started attacking us, that's one thing, but ...”

“That's funny?”

“No,” Daniel sighed, turning around to face his husband.  “It's just ... It took me so long to come to terms with this situation.  Over and over, I've played out different scenarios, things we could do, to see if there was an 'or', but it always came back to this one moment.  I couldn't sit there and argue to kill him.  It goes against everything that I am.”

“I know.”

Daniel smiled softly and said, “Thank you.”

“For what?” an astonished Jack questioned.

“Look, I know you probably think we should kill Khalek anyway.  Uh, that's your military training and your natural instinct to protect, and I don't just mean me; but I know you said what you did, when you did, because of me, and that's why I have to thank you,” Daniel stated, his eyes reiterating his appreciation.

“It's not our choice anyway.”

“Yeah, I wouldn't want to be the President,” Daniel acknowledged.

“Are you okay?” the older man inquired.

“Yeah, I'm fine.  I mean, I'm okay,” Daniel answered, not wanting his soulmate to worry further.

“Let's get out of here,” Jack urged quietly, leaning forward to enjoy a very quick kiss, not caring that they'd not turned off any of the security equipment.

“Okay,” Daniel replied, smiling as he gave his office a final look for the night.  ~I don't think I'll ever forget this, though.~  

====

“Hey,” Jack spoke quietly, seeing his lover sitting in front of the fireplace, surrounded by Bijou and Katie, one lying on each side of him.  His soulmate had his sweats on and was sitting Indian-style with a book lying open on his lap.  “What are you reading?”

“I have no idea,” Daniel admitted with a small chuckle, looking down at the novel to remind himself of what he'd pulled from the shelf.  “It's so strange to come home from ... what we're dealing with and just ...”

“Relax,” Jack said, lying down in front of his lover and reaching over to pat Bijou, who was closest to him.  “The girls sense your worry.”

“I know.  They haven't left me alone since we walked in the door.”  Daniel let out a snort as he reminded, “They just stared at me during dinner.”

“You weren't eating it; that's why.”

“Not until you started to force-feed me,” Daniel sighed.

Taking his lover's hand, Jack spoke soothingly, “Danny, it's all going to be there tomorrow.  There's nothing we can decide tonight that would alter the scenario.  We just have to do our best to face whatever happens.”

“You're right,” the younger man agreed, closing the book and sliding it out of the way.  “Excuse me, Girls,” he spoke while scooting over to lay by his husband.  “It's a nice fire.”

“Especially now,” Jack said as he put his arm around his Love, who had placed his head upon the older man's chest.  “This is the life, Danny.  Right here, right now.  Nothing else exists until the morning.  Okay?”

“Mmmm,” Daniel responded.  He twisted around to lay on his side, facing the fire.  In response, Jack shifted, too, so that now both were watching the colorful blaze in the fireplace.  “We need our big pillow.”

“Yeah.”

“Well?”

~Oh, we're playing a game now.~  Jack smiled as he replied, “You know where it is.”

“I thought you were going to spoil me,” Daniel mused.

“Spoil, yes, wait on hand and foot, no.”

“Oh.”

Jack laughed, placed a kiss on his soulmate's neck, and said, “I'll be right back.”

Smiling, Daniel replied, “Thanks, Babe.”

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too, but you're so easy.”

“Only for you,” Jack laughed as he got up.

When Jack returned, he not only had the couple's big pillow, but their favorite blanket, as well as a tray that had two glasses of wine, already poured, some snack mix, and two Godiva truffles on it.  He turned on an instrumental CD and then joined his husband and their girls on the floor.  They'd spent the rest of their evening just being together, leaving the stresses and cares of the SGC at the SGC.

====

“Daniel, we have a visitor,” Jack sighed unpleasantly, as he entered his lover's office the next morning.

“Who?”

“Woolsey,” Jack answered, referring to a member of the IOA that oversaw the Stargate Program and its budgetary concerns.

“Great,” Daniel replied sarcastically.  “Just what we don't need.”  Closing a book, he asked, “Any idea *why* he felt a need to come here personally?”

“We're about to find out,” Jack said, nodding towards the door.

Daniel nodded and stood up from behind his desk, shaking his head as he folded his arms across his chest and began walking speedily towards the conference room.

“This isn't the answer we wanted from Washington, Jack.”

“Probably not,” the older man agreed.

====

The briefing with Woolsey had been going on for several minutes when the man essentially summed up the feelings of the IOA, saying, “Based on your report, the only thing that we do know about this Khalek is that physiologically he may be a very advanced form of human, one far along in evolutionary development.  First and foremost, studying him may be the key to putting ourselves in a good spot to handle any adversary we may face in the future.”

“We're aware of that,” Hammond said curtly.

“Not to mention the fact that he may be the missing link between ourselves and ascension.  Certainly that merits more research.  The members of the Committee feel very strongly about this,” Woolsey stated.

“Then neither they, nor you, understand the risks,” Daniel argued.

“Oh, we do,” the committee representative responded.  “The issue is, if this command doesn't have the ability and security in place to take full advantage of an opportunity like this, then we believe we need to reevaluate its leadership and, ultimately, its operation.”

“You've got to be kidding,” Jack barked loudly.

“General O'Neill, this is a unique opportunity.  We have to take full advantage of this,” Woolsey stated strongly.

“With all due respect, Woolsey, or not, you're insane,” Jack argued sarcastically.

“What you think of me, General O'Neill, is irrelevant.  The decision is made,” Woolsey responded forcefully.  “The man in stasis is to be awakened and studied for as long as we deem necessary.”

“Look, I'm not disagreeing with you that we need to wake him up, but I am disagreeing with you that we study him like we would an insect in a bug collection without giving him, and us, time to adjust,” Daniel argued.

“As I've already stated, the IOA believes this is the best course of action,” Woolsey maintained ardently.

Speaking rapidly and passionately, Daniel argued, “He'll know something is up.  If he is essentially Anubis, he's going to need time to assimilate his time in stasis and come to terms with who he is.  If you put him under a microscope from the start, you'll just alert him to just how much power he has.”

“And let's not forget we don't know just what powers he might have,” Jack reminded.

“I'm sorry.  The President ...”

“You're making a mistake,” Daniel warned, interrupting the man's reply.  

“I highly doubt that,” Woolsey said, looking at General Hammond expectantly.

“Alright.  Fine, but let's at least keep him on the planet,” Daniel countered hopefully.

Woolsey looked at the archaeologist thoughtfully, but shook his head as he replied, “He's to be kept under tight security here until we can transport him to Area 51.”

“You're going to regret this,” Daniel spoke harshly.

Woolsey shut his briefcase and left the briefing room.  Having no choice, Hammond and SG-1 began the preparations for Khalek's revival.

====

“Teal'c,” Jack called out to his teammate in the gear-up room.  “All right,” he said, looking at each member of his team.  “We all know how this is gonna play out.”

“Yes, we do,” Daniel acknowledged.

“Carter, you said telepathy was one of the things we know Khalek's capable of, right?”

“Telekinesis,” Sam corrected.

“Close enough,” Jack responded.

“Actually, Sir, they are two different things,” Sam pointed out hesitantly.

“I know that, but didn't one of you say something, sometime about that thing being able to read our minds?” Jack asked harshly, looking from Sam to Daniel for some kind of affirmation.

“Maybe, but we aren't sure to what extent.  Our information isn't that specific as to what happened when and how.  In a way, it's a bit like a jigsaw puzzle,” Sam answered as she thought back on what had been learned during SG-1's time in the alternate reality.

“Sam's right,” Daniel agreed.  “We have a lot of jigsaw pieces, but those pieces varied a little from reality to reality.  It ... it's like we have a guidebook to what *might* happen, but we're on our own after that.”  He sighed, glancing at Sam for a moment.  Then he stared at his lover, saying, “Jack, you know we didn't get every detail.”  He could see the man's frustrated glare.  “Look, in the alternate reality, they said they had a feeling that he could sense their thoughts, but I didn't have a chance to ask for more information.  We can't say for sure what his abilities are, or what they might evolve into later.”

“Let's assume he can,” Jack stated, his gut telling him that Khalek could read their minds, or would at least try to.  “We need to play on that.”

“How?” Daniel questioned.

“When the time is right, we're gonna lead him in circles, and, Daniel, you're the key.”  Jack saw the somber and resigned look on the archaeologist's face.  “I hate to say it, Daniel, but we're a little choiceless here.”

“I know.”

“Good.”  More than anything, Jack wanted to take his lover away from the SGC and keep him safe.  Barring that, he wanted to tell his lover to trust him, but since neither was a possibility at the moment, he looked at the others and said, “This is what we're going to do.”

--

“Can you handle it?” Jack asked his lover.

“Of course, I can,” Daniel snapped, turning and walking away.

“Sir, I thought you ...”

“Carter, we're doing what we have to do.  The reports from the alternate realities said Khalek seemed to have some strange bond with Daniel, right?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Then he'll be probing Daniel's mind more than anyone else's.  We don't have a choice,” Jack reiterated.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged as she walked away.

“O'Neill,” Teal'c said, walking forward.  “If indeed the hybrid can read DanielJackson's mind, then will Khalek not be able to discover the plan?”

“Yep, he will,” Jack acknowledged.  “Let's go.”

====

Sometime later, from the observation dome, Jack and Daniel watched as the now-awake, but still somewhat weakened Khalek was taken into an isolation room and strapped into a highly mechanized chair with both of his arms and legs were secured.  He'd been awake for a while and had already talked with several members of the medical staff.

“This is *such* a bad idea,” Jack spoke quietly.

“The worst,” Daniel sighed.  “Might as well get it over with,” he said, walking over to a chair and sitting down.  On the table, he had a clipboard and pen.  He picked up the pen and then asked over the microphone, “Khalek, can you hear me?”

“Yes.”

“My name is Doctor Daniel Jackson.”

“Why have you restrained me like this?” Khalek questioned.  “Why is everyone acting like they fear me?”

“Look, you can drop the act,” Daniel stated strongly.

“What do you mean?”

“I know you told our medical team that you were the victim of some unknown man, taken from your world and experimented on.  There's just one problem with that,” Daniel spoke sharply.  “I understand Ancient.  I can read those research notes that Anubis left, and that means I, we, know that you were grown in that lab and that you possess Anubis' DNA and his genetic memories.”

The look of innocence on the hybrid's face quickly changed to a menacing expression as he asked, “What has become of my father?”

“I'm not here to answer your questions,” Daniel responded.  ~I wish I wasn't here at all.  No, let me correct that.  I wish *you* weren't here at all.~

“If you know the truth about who I am, then why I am still here?” Khalek asked.  Then he answered his own question.  “You wish to study me, to learn what I am and how I came to be.”

~No, I was just giving you a chance, which was probably a bad idea, but it's who I am,~ Daniel sighed inwardly.

Almost smiling, the clone asked, “Have you ever taken a life, Doctor Jackson?”

~I wish I could answer that, but I've had to survive and protect the people I love,~ Daniel thought.  ~A part of me, way down deep, a part I ... no, I don't want to go there,~ he told himself, not wanting to think about that tiny part of himself that maybe did wish Khalek had been killed and not awakened.

Through the observation glass, Khalek could see Daniel blink, though the archaeologist did not respond.

“I believe you have ... killed a man.”

~I really want to blow his head off right here and now,~ Jack thought to himself as he glared at the hybrid being.  ~Danny doesn't need this crap.  Heck, he argued for you, even knowing it was probably a bad idea.~

His eyes closed, Khalek continued, “My memories are so sharp and clear.  It's as if they happened only moments ago.  The countless lives my father extinguished; of those that came before him and did the same.”

~Gawd, he's so happy about killing.  No, happy isn't the world.  It's like he's ... exhilarated or ... or in a state of euphoria,~ Daniel observed.

“Such pleasure it gave them, but I have not experienced it myself yet,” Khalek spoke.  Opening his eyes, he stared at Daniel, asking, “Does it really feel that good?”

~I want this to be over with,~ Daniel thought, looking over at his lover as he set the pen down.

“Millions of slaves bowing before me, a galaxy of desperate, pitiful life forms at my feet: that's clearly intoxicating,” Khalek continued.  “I can almost taste it, as if it was me there and not those whose memories I possess.  Oh, but nothing, nothing do I anticipate more than the sweetness I know I will feel when I kill for the first time.  I can hardly wait to watch as fear stops a man's heart; it's so much more intimate, one-on-one, to watch as the blood flows from his veins and savor his ever-fading hope for life.”

~He's just a sick remake of Anubis.  He had no choice, and I don't, either,~ Daniel thought as he studied the man in the chair.

“There's only one way to stop it.  I know you wish to take my life, and I promise you, before this is over, one of us will feel the pleasure,” Khalek spoke menacingly.

~Pleasure is definitely not the word for it,~ Daniel opined silently, refusing to react to the words in view of Khalek.

“Daniel, let's go,” Jack called out, happy when his lover didn't argue, but simply picked up his pad and pen and left the observation area.  “Daniel, whoa!”

Breathing heavily, the younger man stopped.

Jack walked by his husband, turning around to face him.

“He's a monster, Jack.  It was like he was goading me, and that's the hard part.  He's in love with killing.  He *wants* us to kill him.”

“He probably thinks that's his ticket to being a glowy thingy,” Jack responded.

“It doesn't matter.”  Shaking his head, Daniel opined, “We don't have a choice.  I hate it, but everything that happened in those other realities has to happen here. We have to kill him.  We also have an idea from the other realities how it has to happen,” he admitted emotionally and then walked away swiftly.

~There's not a chance in Netu this is gonna play out like it did there; not one chance.~

====

“Carter, why are we doing this?” Jack asked sometime later as Major Altman carried in a device he'd taken from the planet.

“We believe this device will help us get a better idea of just how evolved Khalek is,” the colonel responded as the two stood at the door of the isolation room.

“Why do we care?  We ought to just put him out of his misery,” Jack sighed.

“Excuse me, Sir.  I need to hook up the computer,” Sam said, walking away and proceeding to work on setting up her computer that was near the chair.

“He's out cold, General,” Doctor Lam spoke.  “I gave him enough sedative to keep him out for hours.”

“Maybe a double dose?” Jack suggested, sighing after he saw the doctor's stare. “Just a thought.”

Over the next few minutes, Sam and Carolyn Lam monitored the restrained being strapped to the chair.  They were focusing on areas of the brain where synaptic activity was maximized.

“A normal human brain, you or I say, should show roughly five to ten percent coverage,” Sam explained to the onlookers.

“Me being five, you and Daniel being ten,” Jack quipped, getting a small smile from his second-in-command.  “What's his goal?”

“From what I've researched, eighty or ninety percent activity for conscious, willful ascension,” Daniel answered.

As they continued to watch, Carolyn noticed a spike.  Khalek had been at roughly sixty-eight percent; now he was at seventy-one percent.

Holding his zat weapon close, Jack asked, “Are you saying he's evolving right in front of us?”

“It would seem so, Sir,” Sam affirmed.

“His heart rate's increasing,” Carolyn pointed out.

“Could that have something to do with the brain scan device?” Daniel asked.

“I'm going to administer some more sedative,” Carolyn advised.

“No, no, no, just a sec,” Altman called out, moving to the terminal.  “Doctor Jackson might be right.  Let me just make sure that there's no interference with the lines here.”

“Jack!”

At that moment, Khalek woke up, obviously angered by what was happening.  The monitor next to Altman exploded, shocking the man, who shouted and fell to the floor.  Daniel quickly moved for cover, trying to decide how to best fight the no-longer-weakened man.

From the observation room, Hammond and Woolsey stood up, alarmed by what they were witnessing.

“I'll take that,” Khalek announced, using his powers to pull the zat out of Jack's hands.

Khalek fired the weapon at Jack, but Jack ducked, evading the shot.  While the hybrid shot at both Carolyn and Sam, Jack pulled out his pistol and shot Khalek twice in the chest.  Khalek dropped to floor, unconscious.

“Everyone okay?” Jack called out.

“Fine,” Daniel answered.

“Me, too,” Sam spoke.  “Carolyn?”

Getting up, the doctor nodded, catching her breath, and then hurrying over to her patient.

In the observation room, Hammond glared at Woolsey and then walked out.

“This is insane,” Jack griped when Hammond entered the room.

“I can't believe the IOA is that stupid,” Daniel spoke, staring down as Carolyn and her medical team worked on the hybrid being.

“I can,” Jack snarled.

“People, when things are under control here, let me know.  We need to figure out a way out of this mess before he kills us all,” Hammond said, clearly frustrated by the events.

====

“I shot him twice at point blank range,” Jack stated.

“And he appears to be healing, very quickly,” Carolyn pointed out.

“I should've emptied the clip, or just blown his head off,” Jack bemoaned.  “How can Woolsey not know that keeping this guy around is a bad idea?”

“I'd answer that, Jack, but I don't use that kind of language when I'm on duty,” Hammond replied.

After a very light chuckle from everyone in the room, Sam opined, “I think Woolsey really believes this is gonna be of benefit.  We're the ones who have spent the last eight years justifying enormous risk for the advancements we've made.”

“The fact is, we are recording some incredible data: Khalek's healing ability, his advanced brain function. That scanner was still operating when he was using his telekinetic ability, and we've been able to isolate the areas of the brain that he was maximizing at the time,” Carolyn pointed out.

“See, I think the point is that he has telekinetic abilities, and he's continuing to evolve, while we sit around yammering about it,” Jack complained in disbelief.

“All the while, he's getting closer and closer to ascending,” Carolyn added.

“Maybe there's something else in Anubis' notes,” Daniel said softly.  “I need to go back to P3X-584.”

“I will accompany you,” Teal'c offered.

“Thanks, Teal'c.”

As the meeting adjourned and everyone began to leave, Jack grabbed his lover's arm and said, “Daniel, if there is another solution, you'll be the one to find it.  If not, we'll proceed with our plan.”

“It doesn't bother you to kill him, does it?”

“We've talked about this,” Jack answered.  **I protect my family, and you're my family,** he communicated.

Daniel smiled, blinking several times, knowing he'd do, and had done, the same thing in the past.

“It just felt so hopeless from the beginning.  I don't think the process can be reversed,” the archaeologist sighed.

“See what you can find out,” Jack instructed.  **Be careful, Angel.  I love you.**

With a nod, Daniel left the briefing room, knowing he was too emotional to respond.

Seeing Teal'c talking with General Hammond in the corridor, Jack waited until they were through and then called out, “Uh, Teal'c, over here for a second,” pointing towards the corner of the room.

“I will keep DanielJackson safe, O'Neill,” the Jaffa stated before Jack could say a word.

Jack nodded and began to open his mouth.

“And I will make sure he does not touch any other strange devices in the cavern,” Teal'c stated.

“Good, and ...”

“I will endeavor to help him find a less bloody solution,” Teal'c added.  “Is there anything else, O'Neill?”

“No.  Thanks,” Jack responded.  “I'm glad we had this little chat,” he said, patting the strong man on the arm and then walking away.  ~He knows me way too well.~

~As the Tau'ri often say, O'Neill is oftentimes predictable, especially where DanielJacksonO'Neill is concerned.~

====

While Woolsey had, what Hammond and the rest of SG-1 thought was a ridiculous conversation with Khalek, warning him that 'no further outbursts will be tolerated', Daniel and Teal'c studied Anubis' notes on the planet.

Daniel sighed, putting his hands to his face and then walking away.

“DanielJackson ...”

“I'm all right, Teal'c.”

“You are disturbed at the idea of killing Khalek,” the Jaffa stated.

“I don't like murder, regardless of the reason.  There are societies were babies are slaughtered solely because of their gender, and there have been civilizations where murder is their capital punishment for everything.  I know that if we do this it's because of Khalek's threat to humanity, but it still makes us seem like ... gods.  I mean, uh, is it our place to murder Khalek because of what we think he's about to become?”

“He has already injured one man, and he attempted to harm several others, including you.  I do not believe it is wrong to assume that he will continue to cause harm and to kill,” Teal'c spoke strongly.

“Yeah, I know, but ...”

“You must continue to be true to yourself, DanielJackson.  Whatever happens to Khalek is his choice and is of his own making.  His soul is dark; yours is light.  The real murder would be if Khalek caused you to doubt yourself.”

Daniel stared at his friend and then smiled faintly, saying, “Thank you, Teal'c.  Let's continue.”

The archaeologist stared at the notes, but he was thinking about all that had happened up to now.  Even though he'd made his choice earlier, believing that they had to revive the hybrid, he was still struggling with the ultimate outcome. Nothing was certain.  Then he made a realization.

~What makes this so difficult is knowing in advance.  If this was just happening, we'd all be doing our best.  Well, we're doing that now, but it's like precognition.  I have a limited amount of knowledge, and that's what's haunting me.  It's knowing that I'm the one who has to pull that trigger.  It's like the whole world is watching me, wondering if I have the guts to go through with it.~

Daniel took a deep breath.

“DanielJackson, is something wrong?”

“No,” Daniel answered.  “Um, look at this.”

====

“Hey, guys,” Sam greeted a bit later.

“Hi,” Daniel greeted, while Teal'c nodded.  “What's the latest?”

“Well, Khalek is about as secured as we can get him to be at the SGC,” Sam answered.  “We've wired the floor so that there is now fifty-thousand volts running through it, and we added a Tok'ra shield generator at door.”

“One way?” Teal'c questioned.

“Yes,” Sam said with a nod.  “We can fire bullets through it, if we need to.  Doctor Lam also inserted a shunt at the base of Khalek's neck.”

“How does that help?” Daniel asked.

“Well, she thinks she can control his abilities with a dopamine inhibitor.”

“So she can inject dopamine through the shunt,” Daniel deduced.

“Right.  Woolsey tried talking to him, threatening Khalek, but I think it was a waste of time.”

“How's Major Altman?” Daniel asked.

“Oh, he's gonna be okay.  The Ascendometer says Khalek's about eighty-percent there now.”

“Ascendometer?” Teal'c questioned.

“Jack?” Daniel asked, recognizing his husband's thinking in the ridiculous name.

With a sigh, Sam nodded and answered, “Wish I'd thought of it.  After Khalek was shot and started to heal, it shot up another five percent or so.”

“That's the irony, Sam,” Daniel said.  “We're helping him.  The healing process helped him to learn another aspect of his advancement.  I'll bet anything, he wanted to get shot.”

“General O'Neill believes that Khalek thinks getting killed will ascend him,” Sam stated.

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged.  Looking at his notes, he explained, “Well, according to the research, the way it works is, the subject gets a treatment in this machine, and certain physiological changes are made in the brain.  Then it takes some time -- weeks, months -- to adjust.  The individual needs to get used to the changes, learn how they work.  It's a gradual process, and that's what the scans are showing us.  Khalek is learning to use the advancements the latest treatment gave him.  Now, eventually, with enough physical evolution and mental control, he will reach a critical stage where he will learn to shed his physical body and exist as energy.”

“Uh, I always felt there was a ... a spiritual component to ascension, that you had to be a good person at heart to do it.”

“Certainly, when there's an Ancient helping you.  Well, obviously when the process happens naturally, there are no rules,” Daniel responded.

“Well, if you can call this naturally,” Sam responded.

“Who knows?  Maybe it's part of a grand cosmic balance.  Good and evil have to coexist on all levels,” Daniel said with a shrug.

“Well, for now, Khalek is still mortal.  I don't think he really wants to die before he's figured it all out,” Sam replied.

“He's probably been hiding the full extent of his powers from us.  For all we know, he's ... he's mocking us because he knows we can't really hurt him.”

“What else have you learned?”

“Not much.  I don't think this database is going to be much help anymore.  We've been through it twice now.”

“Well, the reason I came is because I have an idea,” Sam stated.  “Based on the data we've collected from the scans of Khalek's brain, I'm thinking that we can run a simulation on the DNA machine to see where it's really going.  To the best of our knowledge, this has never been done before, right: artificially advance a human being to ascension using technology rather than the help of another ascended being?”

“The log is incomplete.  Anubis seems to have been stopped before he could finish his experiments,” Daniel answered.

“Let's see if it's really going where we think it is.  I mean, at the very least, maybe he had a timeframe,” Sam supposed.

====

After having yet another run-in with Woolsey, Hammond had had enough.  The IOA representative seemed too eager to take on the hybrid, even though Khalek had read his mind.  He was also ignoring every opinion counter to his, while using his position and that of the IOA as a bargaining chip, since the organization was vital to the SGC's funding.

To Hammond, as much of a threat as Khalek was, Woolsey was equally so.  He made a phone call and came up victorious.

“You wanted to see me?” Woolsey asked, standing at the door of the lieutenant general's office.

“I'm pulling the plug.  You can notify the Committee that the SGC no longer requires their support,” Hammond stated with a pleased expression.

Entering the office, Woolsey argued, “General, Khalek's condition is stable.  You've taken ample security precautions.  Every minute we have to study him, record data, the closer we get to a means of fighting forces greater than us, not to mention the possibility of solving the mysteries of our own existence.”

“The issues we face can be overwhelming at times.  I can see how someone might lose their perspective.”

“I haven't lost perspective, General.  I recognize the importance of this research. That's why I'm not going to let you stand in the way,” Woolsey spoke arrogantly.

Angered, Hammond stood from behind his desk and headed for the door as he stated, “Ultimately, the decision is mine.  I'm having Khalek transferred back to his stasis pod on 584, immediately, regardless of the consequences to this command.  Thank you,” he said, holding his hand up in a gesture for the other man to leave.

====

Jack stood in the observation dome overlooking ISO-1 where Khalek was secured in the chair.  He saw the smug expression on the hybrid's face as he stared up at him.

“You have no fear of killing, General,” Khalek spoke suddenly.

“None,” Jack replied emphatically.  ~Test me.~

“You enjoy it.”

“No, but when it's necessary, I have no remorse,” Jack answered.  ~Especially not for Goa'ulds, hybrid or otherwise.~

With a sneer, Khalek stated, “Your plan will not work.”

“We'll see,” Jack replied.  ~You don't have a clue, but go on.  Be arrogant.~

“I know what you're thinking,” Khalek spoke, as if a threat.

“I'm counting on it,” the silver-haired man smirked.  ~Do it.  Read my mind.~

====

Back in the cavern on the planet, Sam worked on connecting a laptop and other instruments to the DNA control pedestal.

“Just about done,” the blonde called out.  When her teammates approached, she explained, “Each of these sections represents a treatment in the machine and the resulting advancements.  You said Khalek has had five treatments?”

“Yeah, according to the log,” Daniel confirmed.

Pointing at the fifth bar on the chart, Sam stated, “Well, then this is where he should be now on the chart.”

“Does that mean what I think it means?” Daniel asked as he stared at the chart.

“We need to report this to General Hammond,” Sam stated.

“Yeah.  There's one more thing I think you should do first,” Daniel stated.

====

No longer strapped into the chair, Khalek's hands were chained to his body.

With SF's aiming their rifles at him, Jack placed his hand on the IV stand and said, “Just to give you a heads up, we're gonna keep you attached all the way home.  You try anything, you're gonna be a drooling idiot in a couple of seconds.”

Backing away, Jack raised his pistol and watched as a corporal put chains around Khalek's feet.  Suddenly, the klaxons sounded.  Looking up, he saw Hammond and Woolsey watching the activity from the observation area.

“Continue,” Hammond ordered as he left to go to the control room.

====

Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c walked through the Stargate and saw Hammond waiting for them at the base of the ramp.

“We were just preparing to send Khalek through, to place him back in stasis.”

“General, 584 is the last place we should be taking him right now.  In fact, it was probably what he was hoping for,” Daniel replied.

Sensing the urgency in the archaeologist's voice, Hammond rushed to the intercom unit on the wall and called out, “This is General Hammond.  Belay the order.  Re-secure the prisoner.”

--

At that moment, Khalek was standing, having already started for the door.

In front of the hybrid, Jack ordered, “Back in the seat,” and watched as Khalek turned and walked back toward the chair.

--

In the gate room, Hammond demanded, “Now explain why I just did that.”

“The reason his advancement has plateaued is not because of the dopamine inhibitor,” Sam answered.

“He's gone as far as he can,” Daniel added.  “Now, he may have learned to use the physical advancements he now has, but he'll never be able to ascend in his current state.  He needs more treatments from that machine to make it happen. The one place we can't send him to is the lab on that planet.  I'll bet he's been waiting for us to try.”

--

In ISO-1, the room now clear of personnel after the hybrid had been secured according to Hammond's order, Khalek used his heightened abilities to listen in on Hammond's discussion with Daniel and Sam in the gate room.

In response, Khalek took action to free himself, mentally pulling two SF's through the shield generator and dropping them onto the electrified floor.

Unbeknownst to Carolyn and the others, Khalek had secretly melted the IV tubing, so even though the machine was indicating that it was pumping dopamine into him, none of it actually reached him.  In an instant, he tore off his arm restraints and removed all of the monitoring and IV equipment from his body.

As Woolsey looked on with alarm from the observation dome, Jack shut down the electrified floor and aimed his pistol at the attacker from the doorway.  Without warning, he was shoved across into the far wall of the corridor, his body impacting hard with the wall itself.

“Whoa!” Jack had called out upon feeling himself being pushed.  ~Ouch!~ he silently exclaimed just before he dropped to the floor, unconscious.

Now completely free of all restraints, Khalek deactivated the shield and stared up at Woolsey, stating mockingly, “Seems things are no longer in control, Dick.”

====

Aware of the disturbance, Daniel and Sam hurried to the ISO room.

“Jack?  Jack!” Daniel called out, rushing to his lover's side.  “You okay?”

“Yeah, I'm fine.  Just help me up,” Jack requested, staggering a bit as he got back onto his feet and, in fact, almost falling down again.

“Jack ...”

“Crap,” Jack sighed, trying to get control of himself as he leaned against the wall, with Daniel supporting him by the arm.  “Let's go.”

“You're not going anywhere,” Carolyn refuted, having arrived on the scene and quickly examining the brigadier.  “You have a concussion.  You need to stay put.”

“Doctor Lam, my head can wait,” Jack said, gently pushing her away.  To Daniel and Sam, he explained, “We'd just finished securing him.  He went nuts and killed two SF's.”

“You think he could have heard us?” Sam asked Daniel.

“He'll go for the gate room,” Daniel responded.  When his lover began to walk away in the wrong direction, the archaeologist tugged on the man's arm.  “Jack, this way,” he said, redirecting his lover appropriately.  “Gate room!”

“Right.  I knew that,” Jack responded, still feeling a little dazed from his hit against the wall.

====

As he headed for the gate room, Khalek paused on Level 21, where he pulled two large power cables from their connectors.  As a result, all security systems went down, and the lights failed completely, leaving only the red rotating emergency beacons operating.

Quickly, the base went to auxiliary power.

The hybrid continued to avoid capture, though Teal'c tried to stop him on Level 24, the Jaffa being knocked down much as Jack had been earlier.  When Jack and the others reached their teammate, Teal'c pointed them in the direction the hybrid had gone.  Soon, they found an open exit tube and realized that Khalek had used it to get to the gate room.

As he began to climb in the tube to follow Khalek, Jack ordered the orders to, “Meet me at the Gate, and call this in.  You all know what to do.”

Nodding, Daniel communicated through his radio, “Target is headed down Emergency Exit Tube 3!”

Jack worked his way along the tube, thinking, ~The plan is going to work.~  He smiled.  ~Read my mind, Khalek.  I dare ya.~

====

Emerging from the tube, Khalek easily took control of the gate room, sealing it off and then walking to the base of the ramp.

“Get those doors open!” Hammond ordered in the control room as he watched the drama unfold.

“I'm trying, Sir.  The controls are not working.  They're sealed shut,” the sergeant reported.

At that moment, Daniel and Sam arrived in the control room, watching helplessly as Khalek used his mental abilities to begin dialing the Gate for P3X-584.

“Halt the dialing program!” Hammond ordered.

“I can't, Sir!” Davis responded regretfully.

With the Stargate activated, Khalek taunted, “You should have killed me when you had the chance,” and then turned around and disappeared through the Gate.

“He's locked us out of the system,” Sam reported as she sat in front of the controls, unable to do anything about what was happening.

“Iris control is still down, too,” Davis reported.  Seeing the Gate activating, he called out, “Incoming wormhole.”

“Cutting auxiliary power to the blast doors,” Sam reported.  Over the intercom, she called out, “General O'Neill, the electronic locks are down.  You should be able to pry the doors open.”

**Daniel, are you in position?** Jack asked just as Teal'c arrived to help the others pry open the doors with a crow bar.

**Ready,** Daniel stated as he heard the kawoosh of the Stargate.

**Now!**

Having stepped through the wormhole, Khalek was shocked to discover he was back on Earth.  Hearing a noise, he saw Daniel enter and open fire.  As predicted, he stopped the bullets from touching his body.  Unfortunately for him, in stopping Daniel's shots, he'd failed to see Jack's.  Stunned, the hybrid looked down, seeing his blood pouring from two wounds.

“Surprise,” Jack smirked.  Walking forward a couple of steps, he added, “I guess my plan worked after all.  Maybe you shouldn't have read my mind.”

When Khalek recovered slightly, Jack fired again, walking forward to the bottom of the ramp and emptying his entire clip into the hybrid until Khalek had backed up as far as he could go.  Daniel was close behind, prepared to fire again, if needed.

Khalek smiled one last time and then fell over backward onto the floor behind the ramp.

--

“Colonel Carter, what exactly went on in there?” Hammond asked up in the control room.

“Daniel suspected this might happen and asked me to rig the call forwarding device on 584 to dial back here,” Sam stated.

“Why wasn't I informed?” the lieutenant general inquired.

“We were going to, Sir, but we didn't get a chance.  It's a good thing, too, or he would have heard us.”

Hammond nodded and then spoke over the tannoy, “Medical teams to Level 28.  Base is secured.”

--

Looking down at Khalek in the gate room, Jack said to the lifeless being, “Mind-reading is not your thing.  He looked over, seeing his lover closing the small gap that was between them.  “Are you okay?”

“You stayed back,” Daniel stated.

“That was the plan,” Jack replied.

“But I thought ...”

“I know: that was the plan.”

“You knew he'd know what I was thinking.”

“I was banking on it,” Jack explained.  As the SF's and medical team began to buzz about, he said, “Let's get out of here.”

As they walked away, Daniel said, “So, let me get this straight.  You told me the plan, that when it came time for the final showdown, so to speak, that you'd go in, firing, and I would come in from the opposite direction.  That would surprise Khalek, and he'd die.  That's what the other realities did.”

“Right,” Jack said as they exited the gate room.

“But that wasn't really the plan.”

“It was, but I changed it,” the Special Ops officer smirked.

“You challenged him,” Daniel spoke, suddenly becoming aware of what his lover had done.

“He wanted to know what I was thinking, so I let him, to a point,” Jack answered, having employed some of the skills he'd learned in his training.  “Khalek was advanced, but he didn't know all the tricks yet.  Danny, he was an arrogant idiot, and as much as he thought he was reading my mind, he cared more about what you thought.”

“And I was worrying about killing him,” Daniel sighed.

“I was relying on your guilt, which you shouldn't have had, to lull Khalek into the trap.  It worked.  He stopped your bullets because he thought they'd be the fatal ones.”

“But they weren't.”

“Like I said, he really wasn't a very good mind-reader.”

Smiling, Daniel nodded, happy that the crisis was over.  Although he was still slightly unsettled by the death of Khalek, he was relieved that, in effect, Khalek had brought it upon himself, and he'd not been murdered in cold blood.

====

Late that afternoon, Daniel headed for the elevator, sliding his key card into the access device on the wall.  As he did so, he heard his name being called.  Turning to see who it was, he rolled his eyes and turned back to face the elevator.

“I just wanted you to know,” Woolsey began.  “The men who died?  I'm going to see to it personally that their families are well taken care of.”

Trying not to react too harshly, Daniel turned around to face Woolsey and said, “Look, for what it's worth, I understand how you felt and why you took the position you did.”

“It almost sounds like you might find it in yourself to forgive me.”

“No,” Daniel responded quickly.  After a moment, he added, “That doesn't mean we don't all want what you're looking for, and the answers are still out there.”

“But you were right about the risks,” Woolsey acknowledged.

As Daniel smiled ruefully, the elevator doors opened.  He stepped inside and turned, facing the IOA committee member.

“Believe me.  I wish I'd been wrong,” Daniel stated, staring at the man as the door closed.  As the elevator doors closed, he sighed, ~Actually, I wish we'd never had to deal with Khalek at all.~

The archaeologist changed his destination, getting out on another floor and heading to a place of comfort.

“Hey,” Jack called out from behind his desk, where he was 'filing' his memos into the rectangular receptacle known to most people as a garbage bin.

“I just saw Woolsey in the hallway,” Daniel reported, closing the door and walking over to a chair near his lover's desk and sinking down into it.

“Why is he still here?” Jack groaned.

“I think he wanted my forgiveness.  Do you believe that?  He ignored everything I said and everything everyone else said, and now he wants me to give him some kind of ... absolution or something.”

“The man's a jerk,” Jack reflected aloud.

“Jack, this is gonna sound ... stupid, but of everything we've faced, I think this was almost the hardest.”

“You're not a murderer, Danny, and it's important, not just to me, but to the team, to the SGC, and even to Earth, that you not become one.”

“Overly dramatic, don't ya think?”

“No.  Look at our history.  Daniel, you can be a pain in the mikta sometimes, but that's who you're supposed to be.  You have to keep fighting for the right to life, just like I have to keep fighting to do what I believe will keep you, the team, the SGC, and Earth safe,” Jack proclaimed.

“Because the real answer is somewhere in between my being a pain and you being the protector,” Daniel responded.  Seeing his lover nod, he sighed, “I just wish it hadn't been so disturbing.”

“I know,” Jack said, pulling out the remote that shut off the security equipment in his office.  He noted the small smile on his soulmate's face upon seeing the action.  Standing, he walked over to the younger man and pulled him up.  Holding onto his hands, he spoke, “Danny, you are Earth's passion.  I may not always agree with what you're fighting for, but you *have* to keep on fighting.  That's why I got so friggin' angry with those Mitchells.  They let you become the killer, and they didn't even have any remorse about that.”

“Babe, the Mitchells don't know the Daniels,” the archaeologist put forth.

“No, I guess not, but I do.”

“I need to tell you one reason why what happened was so disturbing.”

“Go on,” Jack urged.

“One of the Daniels told me that he thought Khalek should have been killed up front, before they'd even taken him out of stasis, and that he'd lobbied for it.  I don't mean that he just brought it up in the briefing, but he pushed for it, hard, with the team and with General Landry; if Woolsey showed up in that reality, then I'm sure he argued with him about it, too.”  The archaeologist sighed, admitting, “That was in the back of the mind the entire time.  I mean, to end up being the one to kill Khalek is one thing, but to actively fight to have him killed before it was even verified that he was a threat, it ... well, I couldn't ... I can't...”

“It's not you,” Jack said soothingly.  “Don't regret that, Danny.  I love you being a pain, and I love you being passionate for your beliefs.  I won't let that change, not ever,” he vowed.

“I love you, Jack.”

“I love you, too, Angel.  It's time to go home.”

Two lengthy days of discord were ending and, on the horizon, was one very long, tender night of passion, as Jack and Daniel remained true to their functions of loving each other and living in their nation of two.

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