Welcome Back - Daniel

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Drama, Smarm, Missing Scene
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1
Spoilers:  Stargate (the movie), Children of the Gods
Size:  46kb
Written:  March 29-30, April 1-4,7-9,12, May 4,6, 2007
Summary:  Daniel receives a surprise, and Sha're isn't happy about it.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) This story is a companion piece to “Welcome Back - Jack”
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Melissa, Linda, Jodi, Pam, Claudia, Sara!

Welcome Back - Daniel
by Orrymain

Daniel looked up from the pages of his journal and sighed softly.  He'd been on Abydos for a year now, and, although he was still convinced he had made the right decision in staying, he did miss various aspects of home.

~Home,~ the archaeologist sighed.  ~I should think of this place as home, but, for some reason, home is still ... Earth.~  His mind turned once again to Jack O'Neill.  He hoped that the crotchety Air Force colonel had managed to straighten things out with his wife.  ~I really want you to have a happy life, Jack,~ the scholar thought, nodding in affirmation of his silent declaration.

Daniel turned his attention back to his journal only to be distracted again by the sound of running feet and the sound of the tent flap being pushed aside.

“Danyel, the Chaapa'ai moves,” a young Abydonian told him, gasping from being out of breath.  “The signal, it waves.”

When Daniel had unburied the Stargate, he had organized a warning system among the natives of the area.  If the Stargate began to light up, they'd wave a flag from high atop the pyramid so that those in the town could see.  Someone was always watching for the flag, especially when the archaeologist was there.  This was the first time the system had been tested.

The temple was less than a mile away from Nagada, the small town of modest homes and tent-like structures where the locals resided.

“What?  Ah, okay.  I'll be right there,” Daniel spoke, momentarily stunned by the news.  He closed the journal that he'd been writing in and stood up, saying, “Sha're, I'll be right back.  I'm sure it's fine.”

Sha're nodded, placed her delicate hands on either side of Daniel's face, and then shared a passionate kiss with her husband.

“Ah, that was ... wow,” Daniel expressed with a tender, yet surprised smile.

“Remember, My Danyel, I am here,” Sha're spoke, an intense yet soft expression on her face.

“I'll be back, Sha're,” Daniel said as he walked away.

Sha're watched as her husband spread open the coverings of the structure and left.  This was to be a special time for them, a few days away from the temple and the sanctuary her husband seemed obsessed with.  Though they still had their tiny abode in Nagada, most of their time now was spent living in even smaller quarters within the temple.  She was disappointed at the interruption, and, though she wouldn't yet admit it to herself, she was a little afraid.

~Yes, My Danyel, you will be back.  I will make sure of it.~

====

Daniel ran outside, eager, anxious, hopeful, confused, leery, and so many other emotions, which were spiraling within him.

“Danyel,” one of the young men called out, motioning to an alternative means of transportation, one that might get the archaeologist to the temple in time.

~It beats running,~ the young man thought.  He wasn't sure if he'd make it there on time by running.  Whomever or whatever was coming through the Stargate might already be there by the time he arrived using just his own feet, so he decided to accept the ride.  “Okay, okay,” he said, climbing aboard.  “Uh, go!”

~I wonder if it's Jack.  Who else could it be?  That's the golden question, isn't it? He took a big risk for me; ah, for us, I mean,~ Daniel thought about the people of Abydos as his ride hurried across the hot sandy stretch of land.

~If it's not Jack ... I don't even want to think about ...~  Suddenly, Daniel was at the temple, his thoughts interrupted by the arrival.  He climbed down, smiled at the mastadge, which he thought of as the Abydos version of a camel, that had given him a ride, and said, “Thank you.  You're much faster than even the New York subway system; well, maybe that's not exactly right, but ... I gotta go,” he said, concluding his thanks and then running inside the temple.  “Skaara?”

“Danyel, look!” Sha're's brother, Skaara, requested, pointing as the Stargate spun around and locked onto the final chevron.

~I'm in time,~ Daniel observed as the thunder of activation began to take root.  “Quick, everyone in your places.  Hide!”

The kawoosh of the Stargate captured Daniel's attention.  Hearing Skaara calling out to him to hide, too, he slowly made his way to his own hiding spot.  Even as he did so, however, his eyes were focused on the blue, watery-looking sight of the event horizon.  He was surprised when the only thing that came through the wormhole was a small object.  Seconds later, the Stargate disengaged.

~What in the world is that?~ Daniel wondered, staring at the rectangular item.

One of the younger Abydonians hurried to the steps of the Stargate and picked up the strange-looking item.  He carried it over to the American, who took it and smiled.

“It's Jack,” Daniel said aloud.

“O'Neill?” Skaara asked eagerly, looking like a small child who had just received a present from his father, since that was, indeed, how he thought of Jack; that, and also that of a hero and mentor.

Seeing the curious looks of his friends, Daniel smiled and explained, “It's, uh, Kleenex.  We use them when we sneeze.  Like ... oh, gawd ... <sneeze> ... this,” he said, demonstrating the use of the soft, white tissue after a well-timed, but unintentional sneeze.  “Keep guarding the Gate.  I'll be back in a little while.”

Needing time to process what had just happened, the archaeologist left the temple where the Stargate was housed.  He went outside into the desert terrain, walking slowly towards a place that had become a refuge to him.  Once inside his sanctuary, he held the box close to his chest as he stared at the writings on the wall.  Then he looked down at the Kleenex box and smiled.  No one else would send a message via Kleenex.

“Hello, Jack.”

====

Daniel had spent about thirty minutes alone with his private thoughts in the place that had become something of a retreat for him; then he'd gone home, to show Sha're the 'message' and to prepare his response.

“It is ... from him?” Sha're questioned, watching as Daniel removed the Kleenex from the box, placing the thin sheets in a small cloth bag.

As he began to write something on the long side of the box, Daniel answered, “Uh, yes, if you mean ... Jack.”

“You wish him to come here,” Sha're deduced, glancing over at her husband as she continued to make a new bowl to replace the one that had been broken the week before during an argument with Daniel, the subject of said argument having been Jack.  Oddly, Jack was about the only subject the married couple argued about.  ~I feel your excitement,~ she thought disappointedly.

“I'd like to see him again.  Wouldn't you?” Daniel questioned, looking over at his wife.  ~I just hope he doesn't have bad news.  Now that's a dumb thing to think.  He wouldn't have sent the message if there wasn't a problem.  Think positively, Jackson.  Maybe the military has grown up.  Nah.  What am I thinking?~

“He helped save my people,” the beautiful woman answered unemotionally.

“Yes,” Daniel agreed as he finished his message.  “I hope nothing's wrong.”  He stood and said, “Do you want to come with me to send this?”

“No, My Danyel,” Sha're spoke.  “When I am done here, I must help Dam'ra.”

“Okay, well, I'm sorry about our plans, Sha're, but I have to stay at the temple now,” Daniel said.

“You promised, Husband,” Sha're reminded, her gentle, loving face replaced by a more stern and harsh expression.

“I know, but I have to be there when he, uh, they come through.  Meet me there when you can, okay?” Daniel asked, not really waiting for a response, but smiling at his wife and leaving their home.  ~I wonder what's bothering her?  She seemed upset.~

====

Standing in the center of the temple, Daniel dialed the gate address.  Breathing a bit heavily, he pressed the palm of his right hand over the large, red button at the middle of the device that controlled the Stargate.  He watched with wonder as the blue mass of energy thundered towards him, then retreated back to form the entrance to the wormhole that now connected Abydos and Earth.

“Danyel, I will send it through,” Skaara offered.

“No, uh, I'll do it,” Daniel stated, walking forward and going up the steps that led to the circular object.  He walked to the event horizon and raised his left hand to touch it lightly.  ~Totally awesome.~  Looking down at the now-empty box, he took a breath and then threw it through the Stargate.  ~I know I'm just a clumsy scientist to you, Jack, but I respect what you did and the courage it took.  I'd like the chance to tell you that.~

The archaeologist nodded with satisfaction, then turned around and made sure the guards were in place.  Something was up, and he knew now wasn't the time to let down their defenses.

====

Meanwhile, Sha're went about her duties, helping her friend Dam'ra, who wasn't feeling well.  Of course, Dam'ra wasn't advertising that she was sick, but Sha're knew and wanted to help her friend.  As she assisted with the woman's cleaning, her mind was focused on her husband and his friend, Jack O'Neill.

~I wish you would not return.  We are grateful, but Danyel is mine,~ Sha're declared silently.  ~If I must, I will prove it to you.~

====

A while later, Skaara ran into Dam'ra's home, saying, “Sha're, Danyel says you are to come, if you want.  He must stay at the temple, waiting for the Chaapa'ai to turn.  He says it is O'Neill.”

Sha're saw the eager smile on her brother's face and observed, “You will be happy to see him again.”

“Of course.  I will talk with Danyel; we must make the drink for O’Neill,” the boy spoke with a mischievous expression.

“Skaara!”

Laughing, Skaara left the two women alone.

“Dam'ra, I must join my husband.  You will come for dinner in the temple?” Sha're queried, smiling when she got a nod of agreement.

====

Daniel's heart beat faster every time the Stargate turned, making another connection with the chevrons.  It had been early in the morning when the Stargate had first engaged, bringing the box of Kleenex to Abydos.  Now, as dinnertime approached, it was turning yet again.  The Abydonians were in place, ready to guard their planet should the incoming travelers be foe instead of friend, but, in his heart, he knew.  Jack O'Neill was coming back.  He'd never had a friend like Jack before; then again, he'd never had many friends; that is, until living on Abydos.

Here, in the place that reminded him so much of his beloved Egypt, where he'd spent the happiest years of his otherwise unhappy life, Daniel was liked, loved, and respected.  He was counted among their leaders, revered for his knowledge and teachings, but he'd never been comfortable being the center of attention, so he tried not to think about it too much.

Not only that, but he'd also found love here, and her name was Sha're.  She'd been a gift, and he'd been hesitant to refuse her, knowing the shame it would bring to the woman if he had.  Ultimately, he'd fallen in love with her, and they were very content in their world.

Still, the archaeologist had longed for something more over the past year.  He'd often looked up at the night sky, trying to locate Earth, and he'd frequently found himself wondering how his friend, Jack, was doing.  Were they friends?  Actually, Daniel wasn't sure.  They came from vastly different backgrounds, had lived totally different lives, and tended to have completely different points of view on just about everything.  Yet, they'd formed a bond on Abydos, and the young man had to admit he felt an odd connection to the Air Force colonel.

Now, after one full Abydonian year, Daniel was about to come into contact with Jack again; well, at least he hoped so.  The Stargate engaged, and, after what seemed like an eternity, several figures emerged through the wondrous wormhole.

Daniel searched for Jack among the group, but found it difficult to see who the visitors were as they were all wearing helmets, full kits, and large backpacks.  He couldn't help but smile when a young soldier slouched over and muttered, “Uh, I think I’m gonna be sick.”

~Welcome to Gate travel,~ the scientist thought.

After a moment, the team walked down the steps, their guns at the ready.  Suddenly, Daniel's fellow Abydonians appeared from their hiding places, aiming their own guns at the strangers.  For a few seconds, it was a standoff.

~It's him!~  Finally recognizing Jack at the head of the group, Daniel quickly emerged from his hiding spot, calling out, “Cha'hari!”  He licked his lips, looking around, wanting everyone to stay calm.  “Cha'hari.  Lower your guns.”  He walked forward a few steps and stopped, his eyes focusing on the familiar man he'd hoped would walk through the Stargate.  As the tension dissipated, the archaeologist folded his arms protectively across his chest and greeted, “Hello, Jack.”  He let out a nervous laugh and said, “Welcome back.”

Slowly, Jack began to cross the temple towards the archaeologist.  Strong emotion was emanating from him.

~Wow!  I think maybe he's glad to see me.  I'm a little surprised,~ Daniel thought as Jack neared, a small smile on his face.  ~Yeah, he missed ...~  He sighed, his tiny smile fading to a look of resignation.  ~... not me,~ he sighed inwardly as Jack brushed by him, their shoulders making contact.  As he glanced backwards, he could just see the colonel as he hugged Skaara, greeting him warmly.  ~Not me.~  He turned around slowly, his head bowed again, his grip tightening on himself as his stance turned into a self-hug, needing and wanting to protect himself from any more emotional hurt than was necessary.  ~I assumed too much.  It wasn't a bond.  It was a mission.  I just ... shut up,~ he told himself as he questioned the tentative friendship he thought he had with Jack.

“Daniel, how ya doing?” the colonel asked, a lightness in his voice that confused the younger man.

“Good.  You?” Daniel inquired.  ~It's good to hear your voice, to see you.  I just wish you felt the same way.  We did almost died together.~

“Much better, now that I see everybody's okay,” Jack answered as he looked around at the Abydonians.

Then Lou Ferretti spoke, saying playfully, “Greetings from Earth, Doctor Jackson.”

Daniel smiled brightly, recognizing the man and feeling grateful for the warm greeting, and replied, “Hello, Ferretti.”

“Brought you a little something, Daniel,” Charles Kawalsky stated, extending out his hand to give the archaeologist a pocket packet of tissues.

“Kawalsky,” Daniel acknowledged cheerfully, taking the gift appreciatively.  ~I can't believe they're glad to see me, but Jack doesn't seem to be.~  Then he caught sight of his wife, peeking out from their tiny room inside the temple.  He'd been pleased when she'd decided to join him there.  He hated breaking his promise to her, but he'd had no choice.  Seeing her now, he called out, “Sha're, don't be shy,” as he reached out for her.

~He does love me.~  Sha're crossed the room to join her husband, nestling into him and getting as close as she could get to him in public.  She looked over at Jack, thinking, ~But I must make sure he understands.  See my face.  I will not give him to you.~

Once the woman was at Daniel's side, Jack greeted, “Hi, good to see you again,” as he shook her hand.

~You helped my people; I am grateful, but not that grateful,~ Sha're thought.  Keeping her shy demeanor, she looked back at Daniel, then over at Jack.  ~You will not take him from me.~

A moment later, Daniel spoke, “So, I figured it was only a matter of time before you had to tell the truth about us still being here.”

“Yeah.  Why the militia?  Has something else come through?” Jack asked.

“No, we're just taking precautions.  Why?” Daniel countered in question.

Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted by the sound of a female voice.

“Amazing!” Sam exclaimed about the round device that controlled the Stargate.  Enthused, she continued, “This is what was missing from the dig at Giza.”  She laughed, “This is how they controlled it!  It took us fifteen years and three supercomputers to MacGyver a system for the Gate on Earth.”

As Sam had spoken her last line, Daniel looked over at Jack, thinking, ~Who's she, and why does she sound so awe-struck?~

Jack had returned Daniel's look with an exasperated roll of his eyes.  In an attempt to interrupt the young woman’s excited ramblings, he called out to her twice.  Finally getting the captain's attention, he inclined his head in a silent request for her to join him and meet Daniel.

With bright, admiring eyes, Sam stated, “Doctor Jackson, I presume.  I'm Doctor Samantha Carter.”

As Sam and Daniel shook hands, Jack questioned antagonistically, “I thought you wanted to be called 'captain'?”

Seeing Sam's embarrassed frown and sensing the uneasiness of his military friend, Daniel became a little nervous and tentatively asked, “What's going on, Jack?”

Jack answered, “Six hostile aliens came through the Stargate on Earth; four people are dead, one's missing.”

Kawalsky informed, “One of them looked like Ra, Daniel.”

A bit defensively, Daniel replied curiously, “Well, they didn't come from here.  I mean, the boys take shifts guarding it thirty-six hours a day, every day.  We'd ... know if they came through here.”

“Well, they came from somewhere, Daniel.  I'm gonna have to look around,” Jack stated.

Thoughtfully, Daniel replied, “I ... I think I can help you find out who it was, but, um, it's gonna have to wait until this sandstorm is over.  Uh, we were about to have our evening meal.  Why don't you join us?”

“Sure, I never turn down free food,” Jack quipped, motioning at the teams to go with the friendly Abydonians as they led the way to the eating area.

Jack and Daniel walked side-by-side, Jack's hands tapping lightly on his weapon, while Daniel's hands were concealed inside his long, khaki robes.

“So, things are good?” Jack asked, routinely glancing behind him to check his surroundings.

“Ah, yes.  It's ... it's good here,” Daniel responded.

“I'm sorry about this,” Jack sighed.

“They had to find out sooner or later,” Daniel responded.  ~Good things always end for me.~

“At least you understood the message,” Jack stated.

The younger man chuckled, “I've missed Kleenex.  Who else but you would have thought of something like that.”

“You know me, Daniel,” Jack began.  “Words aren't my thing.”

~I know you?  Why does he think I'd know him that well?~  “Well, it ... it worked,” Daniel stated with a small smile.

“Daniel, we need to talk later, alone,” Jack intoned.

“Alone?” Daniel asked.  ~Why would he want to talk to me alone?  Has something happened?  I mean, uh ...~

“We don't have a lot of time here.  Hammond's going to lock out our signals, if we don't report back on time.  Before we do that, we need to figure out our options,” Jack stated, silencing his friend's inner ponderings.

“Our options?” Daniel questioned, totally confused.  ~Options for what?~

“Yeah, we ...”

“O'Neill, sit here,” Skaara instructed enthusiastically.

“*My* Danyel, sit.  We will serve the meal,” Sha're stated, giving Jack a stern look.

Daniel sat down next to his wife as she slipped her arm through his and held him close.

~Alone,~ the archaeologist thought.  ~I wonder what he wants to talk about.~

====

A few hours later, almost everyone had eaten their meal, though some were still holding their bowls and partaking of the very last bites.  Daniel, Sha're, Jack, Sam, Kawalsky, Ferretti, and some others were seated in a circle on the floor, while several of the natives stood behind them, laughing and enjoying the party that the meal had become.

From where he was sitting next to Sha're, Daniel watched as Skaara made his way towards Jack, carrying two bowls of the local hooch, better known as 'Daniel's Moonshine', something the scholar had taught them how to make.

Daniel found himself hoping that it would impress Jack and then wondered why it was it so important to him that he impress Jack.  He didn't understand it.  He hadn't sought out anyone's approval since he was a little boy, and it really wasn't Jack's approval that he craved; rather, it was his respect.

~He thinks all I've ever done is kept my nose buried in a book,~ the scholar thought.  ~Okay, well, he's right, but ... I know a few things about ... a few ... things,~ he added.

“Daniel, what are you teaching these kids?” Jack asked.

Daniel gave Jack his most innocent look and watched surreptitiously as Jack took a drink, then spat it out a second later.

“Whoa!” the colonel exclaimed.
 
Daniel grinned, and a warmth settled in his chest when Jack gave him a wry look saying, “Smooth.  Very Smooth.”

When the teasing had subsided somewhat, Daniel remarked, “So this ... this man who looked like Ra, he must have come through another Gate.”

“What other Gate?” Sam asked.

“A Stargate?” a surprised Jack asked at about the same time as Sam.

Confidently, Sam stated, “The Stargate only goes here.”

“No, no, I think you're wrong about that,” Daniel stated, still picking scraps of food from Sha're's bowl.

“I was there,” Sam spoke.  “We ran hundreds of permutations.”

“But you didn't have what you need,” the archaeologist pointed out.

“Daniel, what are you talking about?” Jack questioned with an exasperated tone.

Just then, Skaara came towards them, saying, “Danyel, the storm has passed.”

“I'll show you,” Daniel said.  He stood up and looked down to tell Sha're where he was going, speaking to her in Abydonian.  ~I can't wait for Jack to see this.~

~I wish he would not go, but I will make sure his thoughts are of me.~  Standing, Sha're asked her husband how long he'd be gone.  He promised her he wouldn't be gone long and gave her a kiss on the forehead.  ~Oh, no, My Danyel.  We must share more than that.  He must know.~  To convey her message, she planted a huge kiss on her husband, one that lasted several seconds and included a few smaller kisses as they parted.  “Goodbye, my Danyel,” she said, her fingers caressing his cheeks as she shared one final kiss with him.

Daniel was stunned by the passion and length of the kiss his wife had just given him.  It just wasn't done that way in public, not to mention that in private, they rarely kissed quite that dramatically.  He looked away, needing to regroup for a moment.

“Bye,” Daniel said at last, not sure what else to say.  ~Wonder why she did that, but ... wow!~

====

Leaving Ferretti in charge, Jack, Sam, and Kawalsky left the temple, going out into the sunny and arid outdoors.  Immediately, they put on their sunglasses.  For a moment, they stood at the top of the steps, looking out over the desert, past the two tall obelisks that were at the end of the long temple walkway.

“Boy, I can't say I missed this place,” Kawalsky stated.

Daniel urged, “Come on,” and began to walk down the long path that led away from the temple.

Lagging behind a moment, Sam observed, “This is just incredible,” before following the others.

“You haven't seen anything, yet, Carter,” Jack stated once the blonde had caught up with them.  “Tell her about your pet, Daniel.”

“My ... pet?” Daniel asked.

“Yeah, that giant whatever it is that slimed you,” Jack chuckled.

“Jack, let's just forget about that.”

“What happened?” Sam asked curiously.

“Big honkin' horse thing,” Jack began.

“Mastadges, Jack,” Daniel corrected.  ~Why am I helping him to tell this story?~

“Yeah, that's it,” Jack responded.  “What was his name?  Tiny Morsel?”

Daniel shook his head, answering in a near whisper, “Little Bit.”

“Little Bit:  cute,” Jack teased.  “Well, Carter, ol' Little Bit the horse thing took a liking to Daniel here and carted him halfway across the desert.”

“My foot got caught in the reins,” Daniel admitted.  He rolled his eyes, listening as Jack continued to tell the tale about the animal that had dragged him over the dessert terrain shortly after their arrival on the planet.  It was an experience he had really hoped never to think about again.  ~He's enjoying this,~ he observed, seeing the brightness of the colonel's face as he told the story.  ~He's also exaggerating.~

“All I can say, Daniel, is better you than me,” Jack laughed as he finished his tale.

“Thanks, Jack,” Daniel replied dryly.  ~I wish I could forget it.  The whole thing was embarrassing, and I was sort of ... dazed.~  He sighed, ~I remember every freakin' detail.~

Smirking, Jack inquired, “Whatever happened to Little Bit, Daniel?”

“Uh ...” Daniel sighed as he looked off in another direction, half expecting to see the creature.  After all, it had been Little Bit who earlier had given him the swift ride from Nagada to the temple.  Little Bit loved Daniel.  He finally admitted, “He's ... around here, somewhere.”

Jack laughed, “He still follows you around like you're his mother, right?”

“Jack!”

From behind, Sam and Kawalsky shared a chuckle as Jack and Daniel continued to discuss the mastadge that was still very much attached to the archaeologist.

“He ... likes me,” Daniel sighed.

“Who wouldn't?” Jack teased.

“You haven't changed much, Jack,” Daniel replied.

“Nor you, Doctor Jackson,” the colonel responded with a smile.

After another minute, looking back to see they were a few paces in front of the others, Daniel questioned, “Jack, you said you wanted to talk to me about something.”

Jack let out a groan as he repeated Daniel's check on the location of the others.

“What, uh, was it you wanted to discuss?” the archaeologist questioned, glancing over at the colonel and seeing a frown on his face.  ~I have to ask.  I need to know.~

“You like it here, right?” Jack asked.

“Very much.  It's ... my home now,” Daniel answered.  ~Why is he asking me this?~

“And Sha're?”

“Things are ... good,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Jack?”

“Have you thought about showing her Earth?” the older man asked.

Daniel let out a tiny snort, responding, “Are you serious?”

Cocking his head slightly and looking back to make sure they were still ahead of the others, Jack said, “Sure.  Why not?  Let her see how another part of the universe lives.”

“Ah, no,” Daniel responded.  ~I don't think that would be a good idea.~

Daniel turned at hearing Sam laugh.  It wasn't a giggle, but more of a sarcastic laugh.  He realized Sam and Kawalsky were engaged in some kind of debate.  Jack had looked back, too, and Daniel was relieved when his friend changed the subject and the remaining time was spent listening to him gripe about the blonde captain.

====

“Doctor Jackson, what's it like, living here?” Sam inquired after they had walked awhile.

“Oh, it's, uh ... it's ... interesting.  Life is actually very simple here.  Everyone works as a community.  That's not to say that we don't have our problems, but ... it's good,” Daniel answered, glancing around at the captain, who was walking a couple of paces behind him and to his right.

“That was a whopper, Daniel!” Kawalsky teased, referring back to the kiss.

“Wha...what?” Daniel questioned, suddenly realizing the topic after seeing the man's smirk.  He looked over at Jack who was smiling and shaking his head.  “Sha're is ... she's ...”

“She's a knockout,” Kawalsky said boisterously.

“Okay, Kawalsky,” Jack interrupted.  “Leave the man alone,” he said.  The group continued to walk onward.  After a few minutes, he added quietly, “That was quite the kiss, Daniel.”

“Yeah.  I guess she just wanted to ...”

“... to *really* lay one on you,” Jack smirked.  “I didn't know you had it in you, Daniel -- moonshine and the hot babe of Abydos.”

“Jack, she's not a babe.”

“She's hot!” Jack opined.  “Not exactly my type, but then Kasuf gave her to you, not me.”

“Envious, Jack?” Daniel surprised himself in asking.

“No,” Jack stated, suddenly sobered by their conversation and getting a faraway look on his face.

“Jack, are you okay?”

Jack nodded, then said, “Two nights ago I was minding my own business, and now I'm back here.  It's like a Ray Bradbury novel.”

“I thought you were more the Stephen King type.”

“Actually, I'm more of a George Lucas type of guy,” the colonel teased.

“He's not a novelist, Jack,” Daniel pointed out.

“Daniel, I do know the difference.  I was trying to be lighthearted,” Jack explained, turning to face the younger man for a moment.

“Oh,” Daniel responded, a tiny smile on his face as he bowed his head for a second.

“He is a screenwriter, though, and a director and producer,” Jack added about Lucas.

~I knew that,~ Daniel said silently.

====

Meanwhile, back inside the temple, Sha're and the other women were cleaning up from the dinner.

“Sha're, you are afraid,” Dam'ra spoke in English, wanting their conversation to be private and knowing that the few women cleaning in their area were not proficient at the language they'd learned from Daniel.

“I am not afraid.”

“You are disturbed,” the other woman observed.

“My Danyel, he will stay with me,” Sha're proclaimed, her words surprising the other female.

“You fear he will not,” Dam'ra surmised.

Sha're looked at her friend, replying, “He loves me.”

“But you have worry within you,” Dam'ra said intuitively.

“The one named O'Neill means much to My Danyel, but I will not let him go, Dam'ra.  Hurry now,” Sha're instructed.

A few minutes later, the women returned to the main room, joining in the festive atmosphere.  Confident of Daniel's love and her ability to keep him on Abydos, Sha're sat down near her brother and began partaking in the merriment.

====

Finally, the group reached the structure Daniel was leading them to.  The room was in the opposite direction of Nagada and was off to the left side of the temple.  It was below ground, covered by the sand.  Torches were lit to light the way inside.

“This is it?” Jack questioned, looking down at the steps that led to the entrance, then twisting around to look back behind the group.  “It doesn't seem like it's that far away,” he observed, seeing the top of the pyramid looming behind them.

“It's not, really.  It's the dunes that make it seem so far,” Daniel confirmed.  “With everything we'd gone through ...”

“You mean Ra?” Sam questioned.

“Yes.”  Going inside the torch-lit room, Daniel explained, “So, I, I figured that there had to be more to this place, so I started exploring, um ... just the area around the town and the pyramid at first, and, after about a month, I found this place.  Uh, Captain Doctor, you're gonna love this.”

The walls were full of elaborate drawings and symbols.  Just as Daniel had anticipated, Sam's eyes lit up while Jack just stared at the symbols.

“Daniel, you had a chance to translate this yet?”

“I think so,” Daniel answered.

“What's it say?” Jack questioned.

“Well, uh, it doesn't say anything.  Actually it's ... sort of a chart, more of aaaa ... map.”

“Of?” Jack prodded.

“Well, I, I haven't been able to analyze all of it.”  Daniel let out a laugh, turning around and raising his hand out towards the immensity of the symbols on all of the other walls.  As he turned, so did Jack.  “I mean, look at it.  It would take my whole life.”

“Well, Daniel, we don't have that long,” Jack stated a bit dryly.  “What's it a map of?”

Speaking rapidly, the archaeologist answered, “Well, the cartouches seem to be separated clearly into groupings, each grouping is attached to the others with a series of lines, and each grouping of glyphs contain seven symbols, so you can see where this is going, of course.”

“Tell us, anyway,” Jack requested.

“All of the symbols are on the Stargate in the Abydos chamber,” Daniel began. “I've also managed to, to chart some of them in the Abydos night sky, or at least pretty close.”  He had walked around the fire in the center of the room that cast light on the walls.  As he walked back towards his friend, he spoke excitedly, “Jack, I think that this is a map of a ... a vast network of Stargates, Stargates that are, are all over the galaxy.”

Disbelievingly, Sam refuted, “Uh, I don't think that can be, Doctor.”

“Why not?” Daniel questioned.  ~She's very negative.  I like her, but she's a little closed-minded for a scientist who just traveled through the Stargate.~

Sam answered, “Well, because after Colonel O'Neill and his team came back, my team tried *hundreds* of symbol permutations using Earth as the point of origin, and it never worked.”

“Well, I tried the same here, and it didn't work, either, but I figured the destinations I tried were either destroyed or ... buried, but, um, I mean some of them somewhere must still exist,” Daniel argued cordially.

“I don't think so.”

“Then where did your Ra look-a-like come from?” Daniel challenged.  ~She really needs to open her mind to more possibilities.  She's smart, but ...~

“Uh ...” Sam stuttered.  ~Gee, he makes me feel like I'm in pre-school or something.  I know what I'm talking about.  I think.~

“Look,” Daniel continued.  “I don't pretend to know anything about astrophysics, but couldn't the planets change?”  ~Geez, do I have to think of everything?~  Seeing Sam's skeptical look, he clarified, “I mean, uh ... drift apart or, or something like that, to throw this map off?”

Sam had followed Daniel and was now standing right in front of him as she brightened and commented, “I knew I'd like you.”

“You mean I'm right?” Daniel asked, surprised that his theory might be correct.

A few feet away, Kawalsky walked over to stand by Jack.  The two shared a sympathetic look and then watched as the two scientists went one-on-one.  They remained silent while Sam and Daniel worked through their theory, determining that, since all bodies in the universe are constantly moving further apart, that in the thousands of years since the Stargates were built, the coordinates could have changed.  They only worked between Earth and Abydos still because Abydos is the closest planet to Earth in the Stargate network.  They supposed that in another few thousand years, that connection wouldn't work, either.

“Unless you can adjust for the displacement,” Daniel continued.  ~Okay, okay, so this displacement adjustment must be done automatically somehow, probably in the Stargate itself or the device we use to input the Gate addresses, so ... travel to other planets is definitely possible.  Wow!~

“Right,” Sam confirmed.  “Now with this map as a base that should be easy.  All we have to do is correct for Doppler's Shift, then I should be able to arrive at a computer model that will predict the adjustments necessary to get the Gate working again.”

The two scientists were alight with their discovery.  It felt good to walk through the possibilities, to discover the path of knowledge, with another who thought like they did.

~He's good; real good,~ Sam thought.

~She's very good,~ Daniel opined.  ~If she can get away from book knowledge and start thinking outside the box, she'd really be something.~

“Okay, so what did we just figure out?” Kawalsky asked, interrupting the scientific symposium of two.

Sam answered, “Any civilization advanced enough to build this Gate network would be able to compensate for fifty-thousand years of stellar drift.”

“So ... the Stargate can go other places?” Jack questioned, looking up at the writings on the wall.

“The aliens could have come from anywhere,” Sam noted.

Daniel walked to one of the walls, taking in the symbols, and said, “There are thousands of worlds out there, Jack.”  He looked over at the man and continued, “You can go there.  If Captain Doctor Carter can get the computer model done, then ...”  He paused, turning back to look at the wall, wonder in his eyes.  “You can go anywhere, you can ...”

“... Explore new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, boldly go where no one in modern times has gone before,” Jack said, walking to stand next to his friend as he parodied the 'Star Trek' opening monologue.

~Wow, he has a real way with words,~ Daniel thought.  “That was great,” he stated in amazement as he looked at Jack.

Rolling his eyes, Jack replied, “Daniel, it's a TV show.”

“What?”

“'Star Trek'?”

“Oh, uh, yeah,” Daniel smiled nervously, refocusing on the wall.  ~Stupid, Jackson.~

“So, all of this,” Jack raised his right hand to motion toward the symbols on the wall, “translates into a ...”

“... Map,” Daniel completed.  “It's a map of the universe, Jack.  Gawd, it's ... exciting.”

Jack smiled at the younger man and stated, “You can come with us.”

“Me?” Daniel questioned, acting as if he'd never even thought about it.

“Sure,” Jack encouraged.

“No, uh, I'd like to, but, no.  I mean, Sha're ...”

“Daniel, it doesn't have to be all the time.  Isn't this what you've always wanted?” Jack questioned.

Daniel looked at the colonel, curious as to how he knew him so well.  He wanted to go, but he couldn't go.  He was married, and life was good on Abydos.  He'd feel guilty leaving Sha're behind.

“No, I can't.”

“Okay,” Jack responded, sounding a bit less friendly than he had a moment earlier.

“Jack, I wanted to tell you something,” Daniel stated, not looking at the man he was talking to.  “What you did, for the people of Abydos, for ... me, well, I ...”

“Daniel, I couldn't let Skaara die,” Jack interrupted.

~Oh.~  Unexpected hurt blossomed in Daniel's chest at the implication that Jack only cared about Skaara.  Brushing it aside, he turned to look at the colonel and stated, “Of course not, but what you did ...”

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, I just wanted to say thank you.”

Jack nodded, saying, “Thank you.”

“For what?” Daniel asked.

“Skaara's alive, right?”

Daniel nodded and was about to say something else when Sam walked over to ask the archaeologist a question, setting off a new round of scientific banter.  He saw Jack make his way over to Kawalsky, but all he heard of their conversation was something about hairy feet.

~Must have heard that wrong,~ Daniel thought.

“Captain Doctor Carter,” Jack called out after looking at his watch, getting a glare from Sam and a stare from Daniel.  “Did you tape everything you need?”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam answered.

~Uh, that's a little ... condescending, Jack,~ Daniel thought, noticing that Sam didn't seem to be particularly impressed with the colonel's attitude, either.

“Okay, let's get back to the temple,” Jack ordered.  “We need to get this information back to Earth.”

Sam and Kawalsky led the way with Jack following.  At the entranceway, he turned back, seeing Daniel looking over the walls yet again.

“Daniel?”

Daniel smiled briefly at Jack before turning his attention back to the walls with their thousands of glyphs and stating, “When I first realized what all this was, the first address I tried to find was Earth.  It took me six weeks, but ... it’s right up there, Jack.”  He pointed to an area about fifteen feet off the ground.  With a light and airy voice, he added, “It's a big, big universe, Jack.  I'd really like to see it.”

Jack smiled, saying, “You will, Daniel.”

Daniel turned towards Jack and stated, “Welcome back, Jack.”

The older man smiled, the two caught up in an unusual gaze, neither moving for a few seconds.

Though it seemed odd on one hand, it also seemed strangely right to Daniel, something he found hard to understand.

“Thanks, Daniel.  Come on.  Let's go.”

Daniel nodded, walking towards his friend.  He didn't know what was in store for him, or Jack, or what his future would be.  What he did know, was that it felt good to see Jack O'Neill again, and that knowledge made him feel a little happier.

As Jack and Daniel exited the Cartouche, Jack stated, “Daniel, no matter what, it's really been good to see you again.”

~Wow, I didn't realize just how much I wanted to hear that,~ Daniel thought as a feeling of warmth swelled within him.  “You, too, Jack.  You, too,” he replied, giving his friend a small smile as the two headed back for the temple.  Somehow, he had a feeling that his friendship with Jack would continue, and that brought an even bigger smile to his face.  ~So, he's a soldier.  He's got a good heart.~

As the group walked through the desert, Jack glanced over at Daniel and observed a big smile on the his face.

“What are you smiling at?” Jack asked.

“Nothing,” Daniel answered shyly, bowing his head.  A minute or so later, he noted his friend was smiling, too.  “Ah, what are you smiling at?”

“Nothing,” Jack answered evasively, looking away for just a second or two.

Jack and Daniel shared another look, one that seemed to express what their words couldn't, at least not yet.  The two men chuckled and headed onward, toward their unknown future together.

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