Summary: The real Daniel Jackson returns. What now?
Jack couldn't be happier; well there was one thing...well, perhaps more than one thing, but they were minor over all to his happiness. He was in love and he was loved back by the most amazing, wonderful, passionate, genius in the whole universe...Daniel Jackson. His Danny filled parts of his soul he didn't know needed filling and there wasn't anything he wouldn't do for him, so as he was scouting the shops, he was torn as to what to get his lover for their two year anniversary coming up in two weeks. Regardless of the reputation most men had, Jack wasn't typical in letting these things go at last moment, at least not normally. He was going to get Danny this rare book his lover had been wanting, and was all set to buy it for him, when he was called off world. By the time he and his team got back, he was heart broken to discover the book was sold to another collector. Jack tried to contact the woman, but she refused to reply so Jack was left empty handed. Then more missions and more time passed and now, here he was in down town Denver hoping something would catch his eye.
Truth was, Jack knew EXACTLY what he wanted to give Danny, but, the laws in the country hadn't changed, much less the military and outside their closest of friends, Teal'c, Carter, and the Frasiers, Janet and Cassie, they were JUST friends. But Jack found himself coming back to the outskirts of the jewelry story over and over again and he knew, he might as well give in. It was the only thing his heart was set on, laws be dammed. He had seen the ring in the display on the side and had stared at it for what felt like forever. The band was made of two metals, white gold and gold, woven together, slim for a man's ring, but still there was nothing feminine about it. The mounted centerpiece laid flat along the top of the band, made of onyx, and imbedded within to his amazement were two gems, beautifully crested into a yin-yang, one side diamond the other a dark sapphire. Sure there were other rings, some of his heritage, which he considered, as well as those from Danny's preferred roots, but he wanted something different to represent the merging of the two of them; two opposites as it were, for they were so different and yet so alike...two sides of the same coin...yin-yang.
This was his ring. Best still, if anyone saw it, they would never guess the true meaning behind it. Having surrendered to his soul, he went inside and made the purchase...he'd skipping local sporting events and beer for a bit, but it was worth the expense. Once it was purchased, boxed and wrapped, Jack slipped into the inner pocket of his leather Jacket and was free to shop for 'little' gifts to brighten up his lover's day; he spoiled Danny, but he couldn't help it...he was a man in love. That was his excuse and he was sticking to it!
As luck would have it, he was on the way back to his truck, packages and coffee in his hands, when his cell phone rang. It took a bit of juggling, but he finally was able to fish it out and answer it. "O'Neill."
"Colonel," Sam's voice came over the line. "Where are you?"
"Denver, why?" he asked, for he could tell something was wrong. "Is Daniel okay?" he asked immediately, suddenly kicking himself for coming here, when his lover was off world, even if it was to a planet they had deemed 'safe' to help SG-9 with negotiations.
"Ah...yes, sir," Carter said, but her voice was hesitant. "General Hammond wants you back here ASAP, sir."
Jack had already picked up the pace to his truck as he spoke. "Carter, what's going on?" he demanded.
"Sir, the General said all would be explained once you returned. I'm not allowed to say more over the phone," she informed him, but her tone said she really wanted to.
"Alright," Jack said, not happy but understood orders. "I'm in downtown Denver, depending on traffic, it'll take me about two hours give or take, as I don't have lights and sirens."
"I understand, Sir. Just don't get pulled over, you need to get here, sir," Carter replied and hung up.
Jack's inner alarm was sounding, what ever was wrong HAD to be about his Danny, he knew it. Once at his truck, he unlocked it, tossed his stuff in, got in and as quickly and safely as he could, headed back to Colorado Springs.
Two hours and thirty-eight minutes, from phone call to being dressed in his BDU's, Jack hauled ass to the General's office and got word on his way there that the General was waiting for him in the briefing room. He walked in quickly, seeing, Carter, Teal'c, Hammond and Frasier already there. "Sorry, sir," he said, taking his usually seat.
"Nothing to be sorry for, Colonel," Hammond replied. "You were on down time and are allowed outside of city limits," he said, his tone light, but the humor minimal, indicating something was wrong. "Now that you're here, I'll bring you up to date. About three hours ago, the Tok'Ra contacted us. It seems one of their ships had some engine problem while scouting out a few planets and had little choice to but land. They apparently found something they believe belongs to us and so brought it back with them to their base, only to be informed that we were not missing anything," Hammond said, deliberately being vague.
"Sir, what are you not saying?" Jack asked, not caring for the vague strategy the General was using, as he wanted to know what is going on.
"Colonel, according to the Tok'Ra, they found Daniel Jackson," Hammond finally said, knowing blunt was always better with Jack.
"That's ridiculous," Jack retorted. "He's on P2X-988," he spouted, not caring if he slipped on the fact he recalled the planet's designation.
"There's more, Colonel," Hammond went on. "According to the Tok'Ra, and what we have already been able to find out, the planet in question was, P9X-375." Seeing Jack was either blanking on the designation or choosing one of his moments to play dumb, he looked to Carter.
"Sir, that's the planet we left Julian on," Carter explained.
"I'm not getting this," Jack finally said. "What does Julian have to do with this?"
"Well, sir," Janet finally spoke up. "Either for some reason Julian is posing as Daniel to get the Tok'Ra to bring him here or..." she let her words linger, letting the obvious present itself.
"You are saying that Daniel Jackson is in fact, the shape shifter?" Teal'c asked, knowing it was the obvious question at hand.
Jack just sat back in his chair, his face appearing stunned. After a long moment of silence, "Something must have happened to Julian to pull a stunt like this," was his first comment, obviously not able to believe any other option. "I mean, it shouldn't be that hard to tell the difference, right?" he asked, looking at Hammond and Frasier.
"I asked the Tok'Ra to run some tests, Colonel," Janet told him. "They don't know anything about the shape shifter, except what Daniel/Julian has told them, and according to them, they have a human male, matching what DNA samples they had on file..."
"THEY HAVE DNA FILES ON US?" Jack shouted in surprise.
"Probably from the past, the tests on the armbands Anise ran," Carter suggested.
"But that DNA would be from a time 'after' the switch, if there was one," Janet stated. "Which means, if the tests of the one they have matches what they have on file from the one...we have...this is going to be a lot harder to determine than I thought," Janet sighed. "I recall when Julian was here before; I couldn't find a single thing to distinguish him from what form he was in."
"If that's the case, then we have a situation here, people," Hammond said, not looking too happy. "The Tok'Ra want to send this version of Doctor Jackson here..."
"That's probably not a good idea, sir," Carter spoke up. "If there is a chance he is Julian and something is wrong, we wouldn't be able to contain him.'
"But if it is Daniel..." Frasier spoke up.
"For crying out loud," Jack growled. "That was two years ago, people. I think WE would KNOW if the man who has saved our butts, watched our six, and has been a general pain in the ass during that time was NOT the Daniel Jackson we know and love!" Jack only hesitated on his words a heart beat then continued. "Sir, there obviously something wrong that is making Julian act like this, and I have to agree with Carter. If it gets worse, we won't be able to contain him."
"Sir, you held a good rapport with Julian while he was here, perhaps if you were to go and speak with him, see what happened?" Frasier suggested.
"I would accompany you," Teal'c said, for he understood the situation was stressful for his friend, considering the man he loved has come into question.
Jack was silent for a moment, and then nodded. "I take it, Danny...our Daniel has not been informed of this?" he asked, wanting to confirm his thoughts.
"No, Colonel, and at the moment, I believe it best it stay that way," Hammond told him. "If on the outside chance he is...not who we believe he is, then we'll be able to act accordingly."
"And just would that be, sir?" Jack asked, his voice tight. "As Carter has pointed out, we can't contain the shifter, just what do you suggest we do?"
"I honestly don't know, Colonel. I'm hoping we can bring a peaceful settlement to this problem. If you can't come to any conclusion on the matter, I'm ordering you to inform the Tok'Ra all we know about the Shifter, Julian, and see if they can not aid us in bring this matter to a close."
"Sir..." Jack started to protest.
"I don't wish to see harm done to the alien, Colonel, but we can't have this situation coming back and biting us in the butt...again. One way or another, this matter needs to be settled." Hammond told everyone.
"Yes, sir," everyone present but Teal'c replied. Teal'c giving a nod.
"I'll have the Tok'Ra notified that you four will be arriving. Doctor Frasier, I'd like you along for this one," he said, looking at Janet.
"I understand, sir." Janet replied.
"I want you up and ready to go in half an hour. The sooner we bring this matter to a close the better we'll all be," Hammond stated then dismissed them, getting up to follow through on his part.
Jack just sat there, a bit stunned.
"Sir?" Carter asked, for she knew this little 'doubt' into Daniel's identity was going to be something personal her friend and commanding officer would take seriously and deeply. "Are you okay?"
Jack was silent a moment, then squared his shoulders, "Once this is settled I will be," he replied, but not too convincingly then got up and headed out with determination.
"For the Colonel's sake, I hope we really have had the right one all this time," Janet said in a soft voice.
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed, having seen the potential hurt this had to offer his brother and friend.
"I'm going to go back and look at the reports I made on Julian perhaps there is something we're forgetting that we can use," Sam suggested, and then followed the others out to prepare for their departure.
Hammond entered the gate room, wanting to see SG-1 or most of it, off; and noticed Colonel O'Neill was not present. "Major, where is Colonel O'Neill?"
"Sir, he called and said he was running a few minutes late," Carter spoke up. She hoped the General wouldn't pry too much, as she understood Jack would need some extra time to prepare himself for this, emotionally.
Hammond was a sharp man, he had seen the dynamics of his best team changing over the years; improving and it didn't take long for him to understand why. He was not a prejudice man, and like any other couple, so long as it didn't interfere with command or the mission, he had no qualms about what he suspected. So it stemmed to reason, this one was going to be a tough one for his 2IC. Before he could think further on the moment, the side door opened and Jack walked in, his face stone, fully geared up and ready to depart. "The Tok'Ra are expecting you, Colonel," was all he said, and then gave the order for the gate to be dialed up.
Teal'c, Sam and Janet, exchanged a look, seeing how closed off Jack was, as he stood ready to depart. He was almost like a stranger or a living stature, his face was so hard and his eyes were so cold, which thankfully he covered with his sunglasses, out of habit or knowledge of how his eyes appeared to others was uncertain.
Once the wormhole was established and Hammond's okay given, the four of them headed up and to the other side. The planet they arrived on was dessert like, much like the last one they had a base on. Jack not seeing anyone coming to greet them, just looked around, threat assessing and seeing nothing. "Teal'c," he said in a cool crisp tone.
Teal'c moved forward, knowing if any tracks were present they were going to be hidden and only a slip of the one who attempted to hide them would reveal what he wanted to know. "This way," he said, though the indication was minor, he wouldn't say.
The four of them followed Teal'c's lead and were eventually met by two Tok'Ra, neither were familiar to Jack, but Carter seemed to know them both, as proven when she greeted them.
"Karn, Eleck," Sam smiled warmly.
Jack tuned out the small talk, he wanted to get this over with and followed as they led them to stand in a tight bunch so they would be taken down to the tunnel system by the transport rings.
"Dad!" Carter greeted and moved forward and hugged her father. "It's good to see you," she said. "And you, Selmac," not forgetting his partner.
Jacob's head bowed a moment, then his eyes glowed, "It is good to see you as well, Samantha," Selmac, greeted, then allowed Jacob to take control once more.
"Teal'c, Doctor, Jack" Jacob greeted, getting expect replies by all but Jack. He could see the stone expression and saw that Jack was upset about the turn of events and according to the story the Daniel they had, he didn't blame Jack.
"Where is he?" Jack asked, his voice even and cool.
"This way. We've kept an eye on him, as George requested, but he hasn't done anything out of the ordinary, though if what he's saying is true, I won't be much of a judge as the only Daniel Jackson I met might be..."
"Can we get this show on the road," Jack snapped, letting it known what he thought about it.
"Sir, I was going over my notes, and I may have something that might help," Carter offered. Seeing she had everyone's attention as they stopped in one of the tunnels. "According to what Julian told us, he could copy a form with borrowed DNA, and according to Janet, without any distinguishing differences, I might add," Carter said.
"Amazing," Jacob gasped, and then saw Jack scowl. "Even Selmac is amazed, the Tok'Ra have never heard of a race that could do such a thing.
"That's because the Goa'uld wiped them out," Jack growled, then glared at Carter for spilling the beans too soon, even if Hammond agreed to it.
"Ah...well," Carter realized her error, "Anyway, According to Julian...the name the shape shifter was given by the Colonel and kept," she explained for her father, "he did not posses any of the originals knowledge. So, we only have to question this Daniel about things only the real Daniel would know, and it should be soon clear that he's the shifter," she finished, feeling proud of herself.
"Then let's get it over with," Jack said, indicating that Jacob continue to show them where they needed to go.
The other's noticed that Carter's idea did not relax the Colonel at all, so remained silent for the rest of their short journey through the maze of tunnels. Jacob was the first to enter the area, guarded by two Tok'Ra, followed by Frasier, Carter, Teal'c and last Jack. The man they saw sitting at a table nearby, had shoulder length brownish blond hair, wearing the same leathers the Tok'Ra wore, looking over a book wearing a pair of broken glasses. When the man looked up his face, tanned by sun, looked every bit like Daniel might have after so much time away, though a bit thinner in build, like he had been about two years ago.
"SAM, JANET, TEAL'C, JACK," Daniel shouted with glee at seeing them. He got up to greet them, but saw them partially step back and the doubt in their faces. "It's me," he said. "Daniel," he insisted.
Sam saw that Jack was not going to take the lead in this by his stony expressing, so decided she should. "Ah...Daniel...ah, we'd like to ask you..."
"You don't believe me, do you?" Daniel snapped, suddenly looking angry and withdrawn. "How could you not know? How could you let that...THING...take my life from me?" he demanded. Then he looked at Jack, "Jack, how could YOU not KNOW? You were my best friend?"
"I AM Danny's best friend, Julian," Jack replied coolly. "I don't know what happened, but if you had a problem being left behind, you didn't need to do this," he said, his voice shifting, a touch of compassion filling it along with something else not recognizable.
"I'm Daniel. Daniel Jackson!" Daniel growled.
"How old were you when your sister died?" Janet asked suddenly.
"I don't have a sister, Janet. I was an only child and I was eight when my parents died," Daniel said, his arms now wrapped tight around his chest. "I know what you're doing, and sadly it won't work," Daniel sighed. "You see, it took me awhile to figure out how he did it, but I figured out how he could pull this off. You remember that migraine I had? The one so bad I was in your infirmary?" seeing no one was going to answer him, he continued, "Well, the bastard somehow managed to get a part of himself inside my head...got a DNA sample of my brain...it explains how he would have all my knowledge. He said himself that memory on some level is cellular, just not around the body."
"Look," Sam started.
"I can answer your questions until I'm blue in the face if you like, but it won't solve the fact that I'm Daniel Jackson and that little backstabbing shifter stole my life!"
"Why?" Jacob asked, for he couldn't see the motive in stealing another person's identity, much less Daniels.
Daniel laughed. "Because it was in love with Jack," Daniel replied, no longer concerned about the truth being known. The planet he was on was comfortable at best, but the fact he had been left behind, left a deep scare on his soul that he didn't think could be easily healed, for as far as he was concerned the fact his 'family' didn't notice the difference was the same as betrayal.
Carter watched the surprise expression on her Father's face, and then saw how Jack was still like stone, his eyes covered still by the shades. She was also having a bad feeling about this one. "Look, I'm not sure what's going on here..." she tried to interrupt, but Daniel...this Daniel was obviously very angry and on a roll.
"Did he get what he wanted, Jack? Did he fuck you? Or did he let you fuck him? Huh, Jack? He said you'd be too blind to notice, and after two fucking years, he was obviously right," Daniel snarled, moving up into Jack's face. "Was he a good fuck, Jack? Did he roll over and take it like a woman..."
No one expected the right cross Jack threw, knocking Daniel to the grown, splitting his lip. "I'm sorry for whatever happened to you, but no one is going to degrade Danny," Jack growled. "I don't know if the Tok'Ra can help you..."
"I anticipated you wouldn't be able to tell us apart physically," Daniel said from the floor, angrier as no one helped him to his feet. These people were like strangers to him now, and that only fueled his hurt and rage. "So I arranged for a little help, with the aid of the Tok'Ra," he said, a tiny dark grin crossing his face, the once innocent sweetness that was Daniel was shadowed by years of fury and hatred.
"What do you mean...help?" Janet asked, seeing it safe to approach, Daniel, offering to help care for the split lip, but was rebuffed.
"You all forget, I was there when we first met that creature. He also told us that the Quill'Waser'ek people could detect his kind. So, I've sent for Maritine Xhone. You remember him, Jack? The hunter we met that day? If I knew then what I know now, I'd have let him have that thing," he growled.
"You can't be real," Jack snapped. "Danny would never talk like that. Never put his life over another's..."
"My name is DANIEL, not Danny. And I'd dare ANY of you, to have your life stolen and then say differently, standing where I am now."
Jack turned to face Jacob, who was still looking stunned. "When will this hunter be here?" he asked coolly.
"About four hours," Jacob replied.
Jack just nodded, then turned on his heels and left without a word. Teal'c gave a bow, to who it was unclear and then left, but not before sharing a look with Sam, stating he would look after O'Neill, so she could remain with Janet and find out the truth.
Over an hour and half had passed and Jacob, Sam, Janet and Teal'c were beside themselves with concern. Daniel or the one in question wouldn't talk to them, and with the knowledge that he had requested the Hunter, who if turned out to be Julian, was in turn was signing his own death warrant and that puzzled them as well as concerned them. They were also wondering if it were possible the man they had served with for two years was an imposter, and this didn't sit well with them either.
As for Jack, he had gone to sit on a dune outside, his posture bearing and silence screaming do not disturb under penalty of death, so they let him alone and waited, so they did not see when he had made some sort of a decision and head off to the Stargate.
Jack knew he could get all kinds of hell for what he was about to do, but he didn't care. He headed to the Stargate and dialed up P2X-988 with ease. He knew many would be surprised he knew the address, but this was not a time for playing dumb, for there was too much at stake. Once the gate was up, he checked his watch, and then stepped through.
The planet was much like Earth, as were most of the planets that contained life, as like most of the humans seeded though the galaxy, it was done by the Goa'uld wanting their slaves to survive, and that meant an environment conducive to the Goa'uld's needs first, the populous second. Those closest to Earths, the folks survived. Made sense in his book anyway, and this place was typical of that book. Jack didn't care if the people were originally from Chili or China, Greece or Guatemala, only that they were friendly, and spoke enough English so when he asked for Daniel, they understood him. It was late so he removed his sunglasses so he could see where he was going.
Jack paid little attention to the unique architecture or the cobble stone roads he walked on or the means by which they lit the streets at night, only to where he needed to go when he wanted to get back to the gate and if there was any threat around him. The person he spoke with showed him to what looked like a villa on top of a small hill, over another part of the city, and knocked on the door. A moment later Daniel opened it, dressed in his BDU's with no shoes. "Jack?"
Daniel watched as Jack brushed passed him, then looked at the puzzled younger man who had lead Jack here. "It's okay, he's a friend," Daniel explained in the native's language and when the younger man seemed relieved he left and Daniel closed the door.
"We need to talk," Jack stated.
"Jack, what's wrong?" Daniel asked moving across to him, sensing he was upset.
Jack put his P90 down and his pack then took his hat and rumbled it in his hands as he then paced. "The Tok'Ra...one of their ships..."
"Did something happen to Jacob? Is he alright?" Daniel asked with great concern.
Jack stopped pacing and looked at the man before him, his beautiful blue eyes, his loving soul, "Danny," he said and crossed the short distance and took him into his arms and kissed him soundly, expressing all his love, then held him tightly. "The Tok'Ra ship had engine trouble and landed on P9X-375. They didn't come back alone," Jack said as he pulled away, his eyes on Daniel as he processed the news, but only saw the man go silent as if waiting for something.
Jack turned and moved to sit on the bed, "Janet can't determine anything from regular tests, neither can the Tok'Ra. Carter tried questions...but..." Jack shrugged. "One of the hunters has been called..."
"Hunters?" Daniel asked, his voice tight.
"If you recall, they CAN detect a shifter, and it'll put a fast end to the guessing," Jack added, still looking at his hat in his hands. Finally he looked up, "Danny..."
"Jack..." Daniel had started. "Please, Jack, let me speak," Daniel said, seeing Jack had something to say too. Getting a nod, he moved forward, but didn't go too close, his arms almost naturally going around his chest. "I ah...I need to tell you something..." he started to say.
"Please, Jack, hear me out," Daniel said firmly, knowing he needed to say this why he still could. "I...I didn't mean any harm, I just...I mean, I only wanted..." he was failing for words as he felt tears roll down his face. When he saw Jack rise from the bed and come toward him he naturally took a half step back, but Jack was there and to his surprise wrapped his arms around him and held him close.
"I love you, Danny," Jack whispered as he held his love close.
Daniel/Julian gave a soft sob, "I don't think you're listening, Jack," he said, trying to pull away, but the desire to remain in Jack's arms out weight his desire to pull away.
"No, it's you who are not listening, Danny," Jack said, leaning back to meet Daniel/Julian's eyes. "I said I love YOU, Danny," he said again, his right hand coming up to cup his lover's face, his thumb caressing his cheek.
Danny was dumbfounded for a moment, and then his eyes went wide, "you knew?"
"Not right away, but I figured it out, yes," Jack confessed.
"If...if you knew...?" Danny tried to ask, as he couldn't fathom Jack knowing and not doing anything about it. "Why...I mean..."
Jack leaned in and silenced Danny with a soft kiss, "The only one who ever declared me a good person has been you, Danny. You recall all those questions I asked about Julian and the condition he was left behind in, and between you and Carter assuring me he was safe and in a decent place months after the fact?"
"Yes," Danny nodded.
"I knew then things would never be the same between Daniel and myself and he had been complaining about wanting a chance to explore the ruins on one planet or another, saying how he could spend his life doing this or that. I figured he got his wish, he was safe, he wasn't alone, per se...and I got...you," Jack finished, his eyes showing his guilt and his affection. "I didn't want to...spoil things, so I kind of let it go..."
"And never said anything," Danny finished for Jack.
"No, never really said anything," Jack replied. He then swallowed hard and looked at his watch. "The hunter will be arriving at the Tok'Ra base in about two hours. They'll know he's Daniel..." Jack said, his fear and concern clear in his eyes.
Danny looked overwhelmed, "I don't want to leave you, Jack," he said. "I also don't know what to do or where to go? But most of all, I don't want the General to find out you knew..."
"First we need to get out of here. If I know Hammond he's told the Major to keep an eye on you, though they didn't have anyone in the area, I would have seen," Jack said, as he was scouting out for any of SG-9 to be lurking in the area as he was coming here. "Once at the gate, we can go..."
"We, Jack?" Danny asked, cupping Jack's face in his left hand. "They're going to be after me...I can't drag you into this..."
"Don't," Jack snapped. "Don't you dare push me away and don't you dare leave me," Jack growled, pulling Danny closer to him. "I told you, I love YOU. You may look like Daniel, but he was right, even with his knowledge, which we'll discuss later by the way, there were differences. It's you I love, it's YOU I want to spend my life with...please...don't make me spend the rest of it alone?" he pleaded.
"You can find..." Danny began.
"No," Jack said firmly, and then reached in his pocket. "I was going to give this to you on our anniversary," he said, removing the small black velvet box from his pocket, and then opened it showing Danny the ring. "From the point of view of the world, this was just going to be a friendship ring, but in my heart and everywhere else..." Jack stepped back and dropped to on knee, "I would ask you to marry me, Danny. It's what I've wanted for some time now...there will be no others," he said as he took the ring and slipped it on Danny's left hand, then slowly got to his feet.
"Jack...I...I...I don't know what to say?" Danny gasped.
"Say yes, then we can get the hell out of here," he stated.
"I love you, Jack O'Neill," Danny said, wrapping his arms around his love and kissed him senseless as tears fell down his face, and kept kissing him, even during the tiny protests of Jack's that they should leave. Then as desired, the slight pressure on Jack's neck worked and Jack passed out in his arms. "I love you with all my being, Jack, but I can't let you give up everything for me," he said as he laid Jack down on his bed and carefully removed his clothes and tucked him in. He then quickly dressed, then got on his boots and wrote Jack a quick note, telling him he loved him but couldn't let him sacrifice himself over him. That he would always love him, but he had to take care of this on his own and to please try and find happiness without him, then placed the note on the nightstand along with the ring, kissed Jack once more and then gathered up what he needed and headed out, protecting Jack his only concern.
"Colonel," Carter called out as she had been looking for him and found him wandering near the gate. "Did you report to General Hammond, sir?" she asked.
Jack nodded, "Yes," was all he said, while adjusting his hat.
"Sir, I know this is...well, upsetting for you, but I just wanted to let you know..."
"I know you mean well, Carter, but I really don't want to talk about it," Jack said, his voice firm but not harsh. "We should be getting back. How much time before the hunter gets here?" he asked.
Carter looked at her watch, "About an hour and half, give or take, the time was an estimate. Do you think we should bring Daniel... I mean...well, here, sir? This way we know for sure...?"
"No," Jack said staring to mover forward slowly, allowing Carter to lead the way. "If this Daniel proves real, then we'll know, won't we?"
"Yes, I suppose so, but I...I just can't... Sir? Could we have been so blind as to not notice?" she asked, the possible guilt of leaving the real Daniel behind and not noticing anything different was plaguing her. "I know he changed over the years, we all have. Him becoming more soldier than scholar, but..."
"Anything is possible, Carter," Jack said. "We're human, we make mistakes and we couldn't fathom anything being out of place like that, so how could we know, if what this Daniel is saying is really the case? And as you said, we all changed, who is to say the cause for any of us."
"I know you're right, sir, but..."
"It's not helping, I know," Jack nodded and stood where she did and waited for the transport rings to take them down to the tunnel, where Jacob and Teal'c await.
"There you are?" Jacob commented. "You okay, Jack?"
"I will be when this is over," he said in a solemn tone. "I'd like to talk with him...again, if I may?" he asked.
"Sure," Jacob replied, his concern clear but he was silent.
Once more Jacob showed the way to where Daniel was being held, Janet just coming out of the room, two guards still on duty. "Sir," Janet greeted, no smile to her face.
"I'd like to talk with him alone if you don't mind," Jack said, indicating he wanted privacy as he stood at the door looking on at the longhaired man on the other side of the room. He then glanced at the guards, "Alone, means alone," he added.
"Sir, it probably isn't good idea..." Janet tried to protest.
"Just move down the hall," Jack ordered and watched them all go, including the guards before he moved in. "Daniel," he greeted coolly. He watched the back stiffen at his words but didn't shift, his back still to him, his face buried in a book.
Jack moved over to the bench and sat down, his back to the table, "So...I'm taking it you didn't like the planet very much," he said, his voice low but even. Not getting any answer, "Didn't discover anything?" he then asked. Jack saw Daniel fidget slightly, an answer on his lips, but the man chose to ignore him.
"So, what was her name?" Jack asked deliberately.
That got a reaction as Daniel sat up straight, turned his head and glared at him. "I'm married, if you forgotten," he snapped. "Though I doubt that meant anything to you over the last two years...my Sha're being trapped out there!" he growled.
"You were only with her a year. You've spent more time away from her than with her," Jack replied. "Plus, as far as you were concerned she was dead and buried, leaving you free to move on."
"So? She was my WIFE and I still love her!" Daniel vowed.
"No matter what, huh?" Jack questions, arching his brow a little.
"No matter what," Daniel confirmed.
"So, what would you be willing to do to get her back, be with her again?" Jack asked him. "Or should I ask, what WOULDN"T you do to be with her again?" Seeing Daniel look at him puzzled, he continued. "If you were forced to choose who Ammunet's host had to be, Shar're or Sam, no third option, would you REALY pick your own wife?"
"I couldn't let, Sam..." Daniel tried to reply.
"Please," Jack snapped. "Stop with the answers you supposed to give and make with the honest ones," Jack insisted. "You'd really let your WIFE continue in that hell? You'd REALLY chose Sam over her...in front of Shar're, somehow believing she'd UNDERSTAND?" When Daniel looked away he had his answer. "You love your wife, and anything short of cold blooded murder IS expectable to you to get her back...in the long run."
"No," Daniel replied, his voice weak, but firm. "I wouldn't betray the SGC, I wouldn't betray Earth or Abydose...besides it's a moot point."
"Why?" Jack asked, but his tone sounded expecting, as if he knew this part would come. "Why not? It would get you Shar're?"
"What the hell is wrong with you, Jack? You know I could never live with myself..."
"Or Shar're," Jack finished knowingly. "So, you could ALMOST do anything, so long as you could live with it and look the one you loved in the eye and not see hate there. It would defeat the purpose of the sacrifice, wouldn't it?"
"What are you getting at, Jack?" Daniel growled.
"What if you could have Shar're back, but there was a price? Skarra, had to be sent away. Oh, some place safe, some place nice, but he'd never come back...would you take it? Would you CHOOSE that option, Daniel? Shar're's brother for you wife?"
"Jack this is pointless..."
"You just don't want to admit you would," Jack replied.
"Skarra would be safe?" Daniel asked after a few moments, figuring he might as well go along with this bizarre line of questioning.
"Yes and the place would be nice, a lot of potential for him to start a new life," Jack confirmed.
Daniel was quiet, and then shook his head, "It's not my place to choose," he finally said.
"It wasn't Shar're's choice to become a host...but I will concede your point," Jack sighed. "I guess you really are a nobler man than I."
"What is that suppose..." Daniel's eyes went wide. "You knew?" he gasped.
"Danny, Danny, Danny," Jack sighed as he shook his head.
"Don't, I hate that name," Daniel growled.
"Well, I like it," Jack said fiercely. "I've LOVED it for two years, and you have to come back here and mess it all up," he growled.
Daniel smartly started sliding away, "You going to kill me, Jack?" he asked, his voice calm, but fear and anger filling his eyes.
"You know, I bet you spent all this time, furious at the others for not realizing it WASN'T you, and here you are, GENIUS extraordinaire and you have no better clue," Jack spat as he slowly got to his feet.
"You're not..." Daniel's eyes went wide again.
"Bright but slow," Jack/Julian replied, his eyes shifting from brown to blue, just for effect. "I just wanted to make a point, Daniel. You didn't know I wasn't Jack and I don't possess HIS knowledge and memories, how did you expect the others to know when I DO have all yours?"
"You had no right to take my life from me," Daniel growled, finding strength and got to his feet face to face with the shifter.
"We've had this conversation, Daniel...no reason to repeat it. I made sure you were safe, that you had a chance at a new life...you didn't anything here, your wife was d3ead...what you chose to do with the opportunity was your choice..." Jack/Julian stated evenly.
"Well, I chose to have my life back. I CHOOSE to be with my wife's people..."
"She's on Abydose, she's alive," Jack/Julian told him, watching him for his reaction. "We managed to capture the real Ammunet, free Shar're about four months ago."
"What do you mean, real? I buried my wife..." Daniel began.
"No, the Gou'ld knew you were searching for her and with a bit of plastic surgery, made a look-alike...that wasn't her and the vision you spoke of...not form her or at least not via the device," Jack/Julian explained. "When we heard the news, we investigated...she's home. She's with her father and brother, but she's not the same, Daniel..."
"How could she be? After all she's seen and forced to watch," Daniel replied, daring to hope what he was hearing was real. "How do I know..."
"Sam, Teal'c, Janet...even Jacob can confirm this, you don't need to take my word for it," Jack/Julian informed him.
Daniel felt his knees go weak and sat on the bench. "What did you tell her...them? How did you explain to them that I..." he didn't know how to formulate the question as it hurt too much to think about.
"It wasn't as hard as you might imagine. She wanted time away, she was not ready to be a wife again, much less be around you. I didn't have to say anything but accept her decision. I was just going to let time slip away and let the distance there build; I didn't have to do anything to hurt her. Though even if I did have to say something, I would have chosen not to hurt her or at least as little as possible," Jack/Julian stated.
"Why, what does she matter to you?" Daniel challenged.
"Not as much as she does to you, but you forget, I DO have your memories and I also know JACK cares deeply for her too....not like that," he said, seeing Daniel's eyes questioning him. "He feels responsible; she's your wife after all."
"Speaking of Jack, where is he?" Daniel inquired.
"Tucked away on another planet with SG-9. He had thought by bringing me here, the both of us together when the hunter arrived, would save time. He's unharmed...at least physically."
"What do you mean?" Daniel asked, once more getting to his feet.
"How do you think this is going to turn out, Daniel? That he'll be 'fine' and everyone can simply go back to what they were doing?" Jack/Julian asked him.
"I don't care about everyone else," Daniel snaps.
"Oh, how we've gone from so noble to so selfish," Jack/Julian retorts "So, all that nonsense about not having the right to chose about others' lives was crap after all...thought so."
"This is MY life, which YOU stole," Daniel growled.
"And what are you going to do with it, once it is yours again, hmm?" Jack/Julian asked. "You are going to remain at the SGC?"
"I don't know, but I do know I'm going home to Abydose and do whatever is necessary to help Shar're heal and if need be spend the rest of it courting her to win her back as my wife. She was my reason for joining the SGC in the first place."
"And the child?" Jack/Julian asked.
"That's between us," Daniel replied taking a defensive stance. "Shouldn't you be finding another life to ruin and another corner of the galaxy to hide in? Maritine Xhone will be here soon...that's the hunter in case you didn't know that," Daniel announced, folding his arms over his chest, looking a bit smug.
"Your true colors are not as pristine as others would perceive them," Jack/Julian said knowingly. "I had hoped we could come to some arrangement. You sneaking off to Abydose, me remaining where I was..."
"I don't give a shit about you," Daniel said, crossing the room away from the shifter as he spoke. "SAM, TEAL'C!" he shouted, not going to give the shifter another opportunity to act; he'd let this go long enough.
"Bastard," Jack/Julian said moving across the room immediately.
"Takes one to know one," Daniel spat, seconds before he got another fist in the face, knocking him out.
"Sir?" Carter asked as she rounded the corner, seeing Daniel on the ground and Jack moving toward her.
"He's nuts," Jack/Julian announced, letting the others enter the room, and then watched as Janet moved to Daniel's side. He then slipped to the back of the crowd and when all attention was on the man on the floor, he slipped away.
Janet helped Daniel roll over as he began to come around. "Easy," she said, aware that Teal'c was nearby should he be needed.
Daniel blinked, and saw Janet looking at him, then recalled what happened. "He hit me," he stated, working his jaw for a moment. "That's not Jack...it's Julian," he told them. Seeing no one believed him, "If it were Jack, why wouldn't he still be here?" he challenged.
The others looked around and noticed they were short one Colonel. "If that's Julian, where's the Colonel?" Sam asked with concern.
"Julian said something about Jack coming to bring him here and leaving him on some planet with SG-9," Daniel said, as he sat up, rubbing his jaw.
All of them were confused for a moment, for if this were true, then it meant, "Daniel?" Janet asked, her heart sinking at the reality before her.
Daniel saw the truth sinking in and the grief and guilt and found his victory was bitter after all. "We need to find him."
"How? If he can impersonate anyone?" Jacob asked, the reality of the danger such a being could pose also hitting home.
"The hunter," Daniel said getting to his feet. "They have technology specially designed to detect them."
"Daniel, they're bent on wiping the shifters out of existence," Sam reminded them.
The cold quip of 'good' was on his lips, but he couldn't quiet bring himself to say it. "I'm not particularly partial to this one staying around," was what he said instead.
Just then another Tok'Ra approached Jacob and spoke to him, though quiet, it could be seen what was said was urgent. Jacob nodded, made a quiet reply then turned to the others. "Well, Maritine Xhone, is here, an apparently so is the real Jack, from what I'm being told," he told the others.
The others turned to go, Daniel with them, only to be stopped by the two Tok'ra guards. "It's okay," Jacob told them and waited for Daniel to join the group as they headed to meet up with their visitors.
The sound of raised voices, one of them being Jack's prompted the group to spur forward and rounded the corner to see one Jack O'Neill, hair wind blown and dressed in a light green tunic with white pants, decking the alien hunter, dropping him like a brick.
"Jack!" Jacob shouted, his tone disapproving.
Jack turned and saw the group approaching, then his eyes went to Daniel's, searching for a moment, then as if finding something, looked away back to Jacob. "Jacob," was all Jack had to say.
"Are you alright, sir?" Carter asked, as did Janet seconds after her.
"We know the shifter attacked you, sir, when you went to bring him here," Janet told him.
"He's here?" Jack asked, trying to keep his voice calm and controlled, but he was upset.
"Was," Daniel said, rubbing his jaw. "But I suspect he's fled by now."
"Jack, why did you hit Maritine?" Jacob asked as two other Tok'ra came to check on the alien's well being.
"I didn't care for what he had to say," Jack snapped.
"He's coming around," one of the Tok'Ra said and then moved to let the hunter sit up.
"That Tau'ri struck me," Maritine snarled, pointing to Jack as if he expected someone to grab him and punish him for his actions.
"Yeah, and I'm about to do it again if you keep up your crap," Jack snarled, taking a half step, pleased to see the alien flinch.
"Jack..." Daniel gently scolded. Jack's head turned quickly, his eyes mixed with emotions Daniel couldn't read, and then turned away once again. Daniel wrapped his arms around his chest, suddenly feeling on the outside once again. He knew Julian was right, he shouldn't have expected things to just 'pick up' where they left off, how could they? Two years had passed, everyone had changed, including himself, but it didn't make it hurt less at seeing Jack turn from him.
"You're here to do a job, can you or can you not do that?" Jacob said firmly, not going to get into any petty squabbles. "Apparently we have a shifter here on base, do you have something that can detect it?"
"Yes," Maritine said quickly, getting to his feet and pulled from his pack two instruments. He started to move forward when Jacob stopped him with a hand on his chest.
"Show us how to use it," he instructed.
"This is my prey," Maritine growled.
"You do know he's going to sell it to the Goa'uld once he captures it," Jack informed Jacob and the others.
Jacob turned to look at Daniel, a cool look in his eyes. "Did you know this when you asked us to bring him here?"
Daniel stood a bit straighter, arms still tight around his chest. "If you recall, I said we should meet him someplace," he replied defensively. "You said that wouldn't be necessary."
"It would have been different had you mentioned this aspect," Jacob said between clenched teeth.
"Doesn't feel good being on the other side, does it?" Jack commented, referring to how often they only got bits of information and found out the rest the hard way.
"Not now, Jack," Jacob snapped, then looked at Maritine. "First," he said, taking the instrument from the hunter's hand, "you will show us how to use this, and second, WE'LL decide what happens to it and you later. Let's go!" he demanded, forcing Maritine forward, not paying attention to if the others followed or not.
Jack realized after a moment that only he and Daniel...the real Daniel were left alone by the rings. He suddenly understood the concept of wrapping his arms around himself as he felt insecure; something he was not use to.
"I thought about you a lot," Daniel then said softly, since it was just the two of them. "I also came to understand that in a way...I did..."
"Don't," Jack cut off, not wanting to hear Daniel say what it sounded like. "Please don't," he added. Then mustering up the courage he looked Daniel in the eye, "I don't deserve anything from you but your contempt," he said, knowing it was true.
"Jack, you didn't know, I understand..."
"I did," Jack whispered, knowing that Daniel deserved the truth, regardless of what happened to him, for this was all part of his punishment; he understood that now.
Daniel froze at hearing the whispered words, his heart clenching as he processed their meaning. "You knew...you purposely left me there?" he asked, his voice sounding weak from the blow.
"No...at least not at first. I didn't know right away, then..." Jack couldn't look at Daniel anymore, the hurt was too much and he put it there. He had betrayed Daniel just as much as Julian and he knew in the end that was a much more unforgivable sin. "I asked all the same questions again, wanting to know you'd be okay. I recalled how much you said you wanted something like that...time to just study one place..."
"I wanted my wife, my fam...family," Daniel replied, his chest heaving from unshed sobs, "I wanted...my life, to chose as I saw fit, not to have it chosen for me...how...how could you?"
Jack knew there was no repairing what had once been between him and the other man, but he owed him the truth at the very least. "I never said I was a good man, Daniel. I've killed people simply because I was ordered to..."
"You've changed, Jack, you're not..."
"Stop," Jack ordered, his own eyes glistening from unshed tears and frustration. "I was never an angel, Daniel and I never pretended to be one."
"But you were my friend," Daniel whispered, his voice clinging to that last bit of belief.
"He is," Came a female Tok'Ra voice. "How do you think we knew to land on that planet?" Anise/Freya said as she came out of the shadows.
"I don't understand?" Daniel asked, "I was told the Tok'Ra had engine trouble."
"It was the truth, though what they did not inform you of, was that they had landed on the planet of their destination." Anise/Freya replied. "Colonel O'Neill had suggested the planet to us many months ago, though we informed him that we did not believe we would be able to investigate the ruins and the gate he suggested. He also did not mention you or the shape shifter," she added.
Daniel turned his confused eyes toward Jack, looking for an explanation, "I don't understand."
"It was shortly after I realized...everything," Jack informed Daniel. "I...I wanted them to check on you...perhaps find out you had made a life for yourself..."
"While still...being with...him?" Daniel asked, not sure how to take the truth.
Jack was silent for a moment, not comfortable with Anise/Freya being present, as he never meant for anyone to know of his actions from so long ago. Then he straightens his back and squared his shoulders, "I love him," was all Jack had to say on the matter.
Freya/Anise spoke this time, "I did not mean to interfere in your conversation, but I had overheard," she said. "I wanted to let you know that word has arrived that someone fitting your description, Colonel, was seen heading to the Tel'nacs. The others are heading there as we speak. If you wish, I will show you the way."
Jack just moved to follow as Daniel's voice filled his ears. "This conversation isn't over," he stated, and then he followed the Tok'Ra scientist as well as they hurried down the various tunnels. All three ran up the incline and made it to the exit as the sound of shouts and a weapon firing filled the air. By the time the three cleared the exit to where the Tok'Ra hid their ships they saw one of the smaller vessels taking off and Maritine the hunter aiming a very strange weapon at it, Jacob and the others nowhere to be seen.
"NO!" Jack shouted, his soul filled with fear and charged the hunter but he was too late, Maritine fired just before Jack knocked him to the ground. Jack looked up in time to see the energy pulse of the weapon hit the ship's engines, causing one engine to explode, and then nosedive back to the ground, but exploding before it hit. "NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Jack just stared at the smoke and flames in shock and despair.
The others gathered nearby, seeing Maritine getting up, swearing in his language, and the flames in the distance of the ship destroyed. It was Teal'c that acted, seeing the hunter was about to take his anger at the loss of his prey out on O'Neill, and fired his staff weapon, striking the man in the chest dead.
"Sir?" Carter asked as she moved closer, seeing tears roll down Jack's face, it was a disturbing image, seeing one so strong cry.
"What happened?" Daniel asked, seeing Jacob and Sam looked scraped up as if they were in a fight.
"Maritine," Jacob said. "He attacked us with some stun weapon, and went after Jack...er...the shifter."
Daniel nodded and moved up along side Jack, still on his knees, having wiped the tears away, now refusing to show any more grief. "I'm sorry," he said to Jack.
"So am I," Jack replied. "So am I."
Silence was the rule as Janet came to the scene, having gotten lost in the shuffle back at the beginning with the hunter and ran up to the alien; only to see it was obvious he was dead by staff weapon fire. She then looked at the Colonel and saw no injuries, but could see he was wounded, but it was one she couldn't heal. "Sir," she said softly, helping Jack to his feet, then let go when he gently shook her off.
It was soon clear that Jack wanted to be left alone and the crisis was over, so the others took the hunter's body back to the tunnels, and then went to help in the clean up, giving him his space. Carter had told him she would inform Hammond, but he had told her no, that he would, but he had not gotten to the task of his confession. Instead he sat on the same dune he had when he thought about warning Danny, running away with him, and laid his head into his hands. He couldn't remember feeling so lost. He knew in a way he deserved this for what he allowed to happen to Daniel, but he couldn't stop hurting, at least enough to get what needed to be done over with. He was so focused he didn't hear anyone approaching until he heard the sand shifting nearby and looked up and saw Daniel sitting down next to him. "What are you doing here?" he asked, no anger, just surprise.
"Her name was I'yanna," Daniel said softly.
"Huh?" Jack said, confused by the comment.
"Julian...disguised as you, ask me what her name was? Meaning did I find someone while I was there. I was so...outraged at you...you, that I thrusted Shar're's memory up at him. But he had been right. I had found someone to warm my nights with. I spent more time with her than my own wife and apart of me was angry with you for that...though it was my doing as far as that was concerned. I wanted my life, I wanted to choose...so much so I did choose eventually, and I left her behind. She won't even know what happened, only that I'm gone."
Jack wasn't sure why Daniel was telling him this, but pushed his own emotions aside, as he had done before in the past. "What now?" he asked.
"I don't know...consider my options," Daniel said softly. "He told me about Shar're...thank you by the way, for not forgetting about her."
"I promised to get her back," Jack replied, staring at the sand by his shoes. "Last time I checked up on her, she was on a retreat with some of the women folk...a cleansing of some sort. I think it was a spiritual thing to help her adjust to being...herself again."
Daniel nodded. "What about you?"
"Not a lot of options, Leavenworth or Leavenworth seem to be about it. I can't see Hammond just letting me retire from this one," he said softly, residing himself to his fate.
"Why does it have to be prison, Jack?" Daniel asked, his hand digging in the sand to find comfort as he spoke. "Julian tricked us all..."
"I told you, Daniel, I knew, I still let it...continue," Jack said, clearing his throat, not liking this talking thing, but he owed Daniel and if he wanted to talk, he would.
"Hammond doesn't need to know that. And if you're worried about the Tok'Ra, Anise/Freya explained, you wanted them to send a ship to check out the planet, you never said why. If asked, just tell them you wanted them to check out Julian or give him a chance off the planet...something like that, not that I see that point being brought up," Daniel replied.
Jack looked at Daniel with puzzled eyes, slowly searching, "Daniel?"
"Yes, it's me, Jack...the real thing and yes, I know what I said sounds...unexpected. But what I was trying to tell you earlier is...I did discover that in a way, I love you very much Jack...just not that way. I don't really want to see you hurt, Jack, any more than I would want to see Shar're hurt. In fact, I think there's been enough hurting," Daniel told him.
"You always were a better man than me," Jack nodded, understanding what Daniel was offering.
"I've come to understand that's not true either," Daniel replied in a hushed voice, going to say more, but then went silent. After a moment, "I knew what bringing the hunter here would mean, not only to Julian but to the Tok'Ra and I didn't care. I only wanted revenge...I...I got it."
Jack nodded in understanding, "regardless what they say in some books, revenge is rarely ever satisfying. It doesn't fix the hurt and it doesn't bring justice, its just revenge."
"I guess that brings us back to the original question of...what now?"
"Re-align," Jack muttered and Daniel nodded.
Daniel returned through the gate and gave a small smile to Sam, Teal'c and Hammond who greeted him. He was a bit disappointed not to see Jack, but not surprised the other man didn't show having placed himself in a self-imposed isolation of a sort over the last three months since Daniel, the real Daniel came home. "Nice welcome," he greeted as he got to the foot of the ramp.
"Doctor Jackson," Hammond greeted, still a bit weary of folks who return from the gate, as the devise used by the hunter was destroyed by Teal'c's weapon blast so they had no way of being 100 % certain of who came back through the gate was real, but alas they would have to return to faith, as the aliens responsible for the devise, wouldn't share it with anyone and didn't want a treaty with the Taur'ri, and they considered Julian the last of his kind, for it had been ages since a shifter had been spotted. "How was Abydos?" Hammond asked, grateful that the real Daniel Jackson had decided to remain with the SGC after all.
"And Shar're?" Sam added, as that was why Daniel had gone, to visit his wife and his family there.
"Better," Daniel replied with a sincere smile. "She has asked me to ask you if she could visit here. I think...after seeing so much out in the universe it is difficult for her to...go back to her more..."
"Shallow pond," came an unexpected but welcomed voice.
Daniel looked up and saw Jack enter the gate room and felt better at seeing him, though he looked aged, but only in his eyes, for the rest looked about what he had seen two years ago, but with a touch of gray...well perhaps a bit more gray now. "Yes," he agreed.
"I will personally make the arrangements," Hammond smiled, "When does she want to come?"
"She said it was up to you, I would say in a week, as she went to visit Skarra who has been staying in another village, seems he is courting someone there, but hasn't said who yet. Has his father on edge."
"Makes sense she'd want to be around someone who understood what she's going through," Sam replied.
"Yes, and seen the many wonders her people have little idea about," Daniel added.
"Go get checked out, son. I'll let you know when it's all arranged and we'll take it from there," Hammond told him then with a smile headed off to attend his many duties.
"Want to meet up for dinner?" Carter asked, having been trying to make up for lost ground, but it has been awkward at best and things remained strained and for the moment SG-1 was not going on missions as a group, though they still helped out. Hammond called it a 'regrouping' in hopes that with some time SG-1 would be able to pull together again, but it was not looking likely. "What about you, sir?" she added immediately after, hope shining in her eyes.
"I'm kind of tired, Sam," Daniel replied, for he was not up to trying to mend fences tonight. They had talked a lot and agreed what Julian had done was undetectable (they being Teal'c and Sam as Jack never participated in the talks), and to try and move onward.
"Paperwork," Jack said, after making sure Daniel was all right, and then with a nodded, left.
"Daniel," Sam said softly, resting a hand on Daniel's arm, as he was about to go. "I'm worried about him...about you," she said softly.
"As am I," Teal'c added.
Daniel knew they were concerned, not only for himself but also for Jack, mainly because they didn't understand, not fully and Daniel had made a deal with Jack to keep the full truth between each other. He didn't want to see Jack in prison, though Jack thought he needed to be punished, it was only right. Daniel saw he was being punished...and it wasn't right, but there was nothing he really could do about it. "I know," he said. "But some things can't be fixed over dinner," he told them softly, not wanting to hurt them, but he was still stinging from what happened and trust was a hard thing to earn back, but it was happening, just not as fast as some would like.
"It's always a place to start," she said.
"Perhaps another time," Daniel said and was glad she let him go.
He went for his physical, then to his office for a while before deciding to head home, his new home. Though Julian had kept his belongings, they were a lot of things he knew nothing about and didn't want to keep them or the place, so moved. He now had a small house, kind of hoping Shar're would like Earth and stay with him. Once home, he pulled his keys out and went inside to get his mail, a letter or two he needed to read, the rest bills and junk. He went to his kitchen and looked around; the place looked nice, but empty. He missed his friends...he missed Jack. He missed a great deal, but didn't know how to get it back or how to fix this mess, as he knew Sam was right. There was a lot to worry about and things were not getting better but worse. Jack was slipping away, and had he not had a private conversation with Hammond, making sure the General did not accept Jack's resignation, Jack would have been gone by now, as he had tried to resign twice so far.
"Okay, Daniel, you're the genius here, how do we fix this?" he asked himself, absently getting a beer, not sure why he bought it at the time, but he understood now he had hoped Jack would come over, but the man stayed away and the guilt in his eyes made it clear why. "First things first," he said and got up and went to his phone and dialed Jack's extension.
"Hey, Jack," Daniel said, feeling apprehensive suddenly.
"Something wrong, Daniel?" Jack asked with concern immediately hearing his voice.
"No...no, only I noticed there's a game on, and ah...wondered...?"
Jack was silent for a moment on the other end and Daniel found himself fiddling with the phone book as he waited. "Jack?"
"I ah...don't watch much anymore," Jack said, his voice soft but strained.
Daniel suddenly understood more than he wanted. Jack was morning his lover and things like beer and a game was probably something they had continued to do, probably more so than he had and asking to do it now was only putting a reminder of what Jack had lost before him. He chided himself silently for his first mistake of the evening. "Cable added a new channel, Game shows," he suggested as it was something he wouldn't have normally chosen so he doubt his double would have either, it was a long shot.
There was silence; Daniel could almost sense the tiny curl of Jack's lip. "That sounds like a plan...but perhaps another time, I'm...I'm just not ready, even though we both know I don't..."
"Stop, Jack, please," Daniel asked, not wanting any more guilt or self inflicted pain on top of what Jack was already feeling. "I said I forgave you and I do."
"No...you never said that," Jack replied in a low voice.
Daniel ducked his head, "Well, I should have and I do. Stranger still, I believe I understand...at least enough."
"Do you?" Jack asked.
"I think so," Daniel replied. Then once more there was silence, "I miss my friend," he finally said.
"I do too," Jack said, once more his voice tight. "But...I'm not ready."
"Okay, Jack," Daniel, said softly, understanding loss perhaps better than anyone. "When you're ready, beer and game shows will be waiting."
"Thanks, Daniel," Jack replied then hung up.
Daniel lowered the phone, cradling the wireless to his chest. He picked up the beer and sipped it, then put it back down, making a decision. He lifted up the phone and made another phone call hoping he wouldn't regret this decision.
"Sam...what wouldn't you do for love?"
Once more the gate opened, this time the gate room filled with people, Janet, Sam, Teal'c, Hammond and this time Jack, all dressed normally, but an air of giving a good impression. Jack was to the back of the crowd, as he watched Daniel and Shar're step through, Daniel in his BDU's Shar're in her travel robes from her homeworld, who looked very nervous.
Once the gate was closed, Daniel led Shar're down the ramp, "General Hammond," Daniel said with a smile, "I'd like to present my wife...Shar're," he said, knowing Shar're would feel a bit better with a touch of formality. He had explained as best he could what she was to expect and as many differences as he could, and now waited to see how this meeting was going to go.
Hammond stepped forward, gave a slight nodded, "It is an honor to finally meet you, Mrs. Jackson," Hammond greeted sincerely. "On behalf of the SGC and Earth, we'd like to express to you our warmest welcome and for you to know we hold you're husbanded in the highest of regard and esteem for his efforts in saving our world."
Daniel blushed at the complement, especially since he hadn't done anything...at least not technically for the last two years. Those in the know of Julian had agreed to keep it to themselves, and Shar're would never know either. Daniel turned and saw a smile of pride turned toward him, and then she turned to the General.
"I am most proud to be here, among Dan'yel's people," she said, her English much improved from her experience and time with Ammunet and a few more lessons with Skarra and Daniel before coming to Earth
Daniel felt things were going great and then introduced her to Sam, who was met warmly as Shar're remembered SG-1 and then introduced Janet. He was concerned for a moment when she froze for a moment in front of Teal'c.
"The opportunity to apologize for what was my doing has not presented itself previously," Teal'c said, then bowed deep to her.
"Please...no," Shar're said softly.
Daniel watched, as did the others, as Teal'c stood up standing tall, meeting Shar're's eyes. He saw his wife struggle to speak and rested a hand on her arm to let her know he was there and lead her away if need be.
"Before...I hated you and many others," Shar're said, her voice soft but strong. "But I watched, I learned. I know now you suffered...though not as I, but suffered still," she continued. "You restored your honor when you freed me, thank you," she finished, and then bowed her head a moment.
Though nothing was said, the tension that had been there fled the room. Then Shar're moved in front of Jack and to everyone's surprise including Daniel and Jack, she hugged him. "O'Neill," she greeted with joy. "You saved my brother and me, and my Dan'yel tells me you are brother to him, which makes you are brother to me and my family as well," she explained, then placed a kiss on his cheek, then stepped back.
It was the first sincere smile, even if small, that anyone had seen on Jack's face in ages. He looked from Shar're to Daniel, and seeing him nod, he felt a blush on his face. "Thank you," was all he could manage. Then gaining his composure, he held out his arm. "Allow me to show you around?" he said, knowing enough of Abydos' culture from the many lectures Daniel gave before Shar're arrived to everyone, that only a member of the family could touch her, especially if male. The reason Hammond never offered to shake her hand. But since she declared him family, he felt he could extend the offer. He was pleased that she took his arm without hesitation and he led her out to show her where her husband had spent so many years fighting the Goa'uld.
Hammond followed Jack, everyone else but Sam and Daniel, the two of them letting the crowd gain some distance from them. "Well?" Sam asked.
Daniel shook his head. "Stubborn and fearful," was all he had to say. "What about you?"
"All that I can do at this point is done. We'll need to meet and discuss a strategy. In the mean time," she said, placing a hand on his shoulder, "Go help Shar're settled in. I know you want her to like it here and stay."
"Thanks, Sam," Daniel said, then began to step away, then looked over his shoulder, "seriously, thank you."
Sam shrugged, "So long as it works," she said, and then joined Daniel to catch up with the group. "So you know, Janet and I are planning to take your wife on a girl's day shopping spree," she smirked wickedly.
"You wouldn't," Daniel gasped. Seeing the dark mischievous smile on Sam as she pulled ahead. "She's not ready for that," he called out, but only heard Sam laugh. "You're going to corrupt her!"
"I believe that's the point," Carter shouted over her shoulder, then took off around the corner.
"Crap," Daniel growled, then dashed to catch up with his wife and....his family. He realized that SG-1 and the others at the SGC were HIS family and family forgave each other and stuck together, no matter what. A lesson he almost forgot, but he remembered in time and he was glad of it. There was still some areas needing healing, but with time he was sure they would.
Daniel entered Jack's office and closed the door. The older man looked worn, was losing weight and the concern everyone was having over Jack was beginning to show physically. Hammond could say little, since Jack was on top of his reports and did his job, even if it was minus his usual flare and finesse. That was part of the problem though. The SGC wasn't the same without Jack's snappy wisecracks and childish antics, along with his charming smile.
Janet had suggested Jack talk to someone but he refused and even Hammond informing him that he wouldn't be allowed through the gate, had not prompted Jack to seek a councilor. Daniel of course understood why, for how could you explain the truth behind all that had happened. Daniel had felt the support of his friends and family after a lot of discussion occurred, but it was there, and they had tried to be there for Jack, but he pushed them away. It was time to push back.
"Hey, Jack," he greeted.
Jack looked up from his desk, "Daniel," he said, not a smile or a frown, just the neutral expression that had become Jack's typical mask over the past four months. "You need something?"
"Yeah, I need you to say yes," Daniel stated moving to lean on the side of Jack's desk.
"Yes to what?" Jack asked, putting his pen down, leaning back in his chair.
"Well, thanks to the Janet and Sam's corrupt influence, Shar're wants to hold a small party. Grill some steaks, potato salad, that sort of thing. She also made a point in pointing out that YOU have not been to the house since that first night and dinner."
"Well, you two have a lot to adjust too," Jack said, sounding reasonable.
"Jack..." Daniel cleared his throat, "Let me put it this way, if you don't come tomorrow, I sleep on the couch. You've seen my couch, Jack. It's not a nice couch for sleeping on...watching TV, cuddling sure, but NOT sleeping," he said, knowing he was using an O'Neill technique, but since it had worked for Jack so much in the past...it might work now. Daniel felt pleased on seeing the tiny smile cross Jack's face and continued. "You wouldn't want to subject me to such a thing...would you?"
Daniel had forgiven him, though he knew he didn't deserve it and was actually extending the hand of friendship to him...again. He could imagine how hard that had to be for Daniel and he owed him on many levels. He really wasn't ready to have the close friendship they once had, if there ever could be such a thing again, but...for Daniel. "Since I've seen your couch, Daniel, I find I'm duty bound to protect you as a member of my team," Jack said, trying to extend some friendship back. SG-1 still had not gone on any missions together, but Hammond was being extra patient, as he believed it was only a matter of time and Jack was beginning to believe too.
"So, as leader of SG-1, it is also your duty to attend the grill," Daniel added for the heck of it, and chuckled at seeing Jack's eyes widen a bit. "Unless you want Teal'c..."
"The man is talented in many things...grilling is not one of them," Jack replied with a small grin. "What time?"
"Noon," Daniel smiled getting fully to his feet. "Don't bring anything, we got it covered," he added then headed out of Jack's office, feeling hopeful.
Jack arrived at the Jackson's residence at noon as requested and felt sick to his stomach. It had been difficult to see Daniel everyday over the past four months, for it was like a living reminder of his Danny and of his betrayal...their betrayal. But, Daniel was willing to forgive, being the bigger man, he knew he had to at least try and return the effort. He also realized by offering him control of the grill, gave him something to focus on, so he wouldn't feel too lost among those that where suppose to be his friends; people he didn't feel he deserved to have. One made a choice, one paid the consequences, he had years of understanding that, this was just one more.
Jack noticed only Carter's car was there, so figured the rest would be arriving soon and rang the doorbell. He was a bit surprised to see Carter answering the door. "Carter," he greeted.
"Sir," she greeted.
"We're off duty, drop the sir," he instructed moving in as Carter stepped aside. He saw Daniel coming from the kitchen with a small tray of three drinks. "Daniel," he greeted.
"Have a seat, Jack," Daniel said, placing the tray down. "Shar're is with Teal'c and Janet, they'll be back later this afternoon," he told Jack.
Jack moved farther into the living room, seeing how the place looked warmer now that Shar're had added her touch to it. He took the drink, double scotch, from Daniel, "Am I missing something?" he asked.
"Yes," Daniel said, and then took a seat, as did Sam, taking her drink from Daniel before taking a seat as well. "I need to tell you something, and I need you to listen," he said.
"Shar're expecting?" Jack asked, thinking this would be a good thing and not needing this kind of set up.
"Ah...no," Daniel, said, a small blush to his face, and then cleared his throat. "Please, Jack?" he asked, needing him to listen.
Jack sipped his drink and nodded.
"I won't go into too many details, as some things belong between us, but...you remember our conversation on the dune, on the Tok'ra world?" he asked.
"Yeah...?" Jack said, wondering what was going on, feeling a bit defensive suddenly.
"Remember what you said to me about revenge?" Daniel then asked.
"Not exactly, no," Jack confessed, wondering if Daniel decided to get his pound of flesh after all. Even though inside he felt Daniel deserved it, he couldn't feel a bit hurt at the deception if that was it.
"You said, 'regardless what they say in some books, revenge is rarely ever satisfying. It doesn't fix the hurt and it doesn't bring justice, its just revenge.' To be honest I didn't really believe you then...I do now."
Jack looked puzzled, "what do you mean?"
"I'm no saint Jack, as you're no angel. I wanted..." Daniel sat up, finishing his drink. "Before I came to sit with you, I went back to the Tok'ra base. I...came across Julian," he confessed.
Jack stopped sipping his drink mid way, staring at Daniel.
"He didn't die, Jack," Daniel finally confessed.
"I...I...I don't understand. If he was in that ship..." Jack stuttered, trying to process what he was hearing.
"Sir...Jack," Carter said, trying to put rank aside. "You recall how as a shifter, Julian can break sections of himself off, appearing as a single being only? Apparently that's what he did on the base."
"But that left him vulnerable," Daniel continued. "He was leaving me a message when I discovered him."
"What..." Jack found he couldn't speak, his heart hurting along with anger building and knew he needed to hear the rest before he could react.
"He asked me to take care of you," Daniel said softly, staring into his empty glass, wishing for more. He swallowed hard, "I was furious at him, I wanted my life, I wanted...revenge. I wanted him to suffer..."
"What did you do?" Jack asked, a bit of menace lining his question.
"I let him go, Jack, with the stipulation to never come back to Earth. I helped him go back to Treswood...er, the planet he had been posing as me with SG-9. He didn't know about the Hunter's detection device being damaged and I told him we had it now."
Jack felt anger and hurt building some more and gulped the last of his drink, "why are you telling me this?" he asked, feeling it was some kind of addition to his punishment and he was not in the mood for this and wanted to lash out, but...another part told him to take it, that he deserved it.
"Because even after we talked on the dune I was furious at you too. I wanted you to hurt too, so I said nothing. Then...I saw in a way I was being no better than Julian...had been," Daniel said, leaving Jack's part out of it, since Sam didn't know and never would if he any control in the matter. "I saw how badly you were hurting, how...MUCH, you loved him, and it dawned on me just how MUCH he loved you."
"Doesn't condone anything though," Jack said in a tight voice, knowing it was true.
"You're right, it doesn't, but it was the real motivation behind what Julian did, not hate, not revenge...not like what motivated me," Daniel explained.
Jack was quiet for a long time, then put his empty glass down, "Thank you for telling me," he said, his voice controlled, his eyes hidden, as he didn't look at anyone. "I think I should go now," he added, and moved passed Carter, determined not to fall apart until he got home.
The voice was not familiar, but in his gut, something was and Jack stopped. He slowly turned and saw young man that looked familiar but didn't; yet there was something in the deep blue eyes. His heart skipped a beat, but he didn't dare hope.
Daniel got up from the couch as did Sam, "I was wrong, Jack, just as much if not more so, for I knew better that I didn't have the right to play god. So...on the hope he was still there, I went back to Treswood," Daniel explained.
Jack was speechless, not sure how to take what he was hearing and seeing. He then looked at Sam and Daniel, then back at the beautiful young man and realized, he could be related to both of them...or be their son, he looked a bit like both of them. Then the shoe dropped, he was apart of each of them. "I...I don't..."
"Sir, the first problem Daniel and I came to understand when he told me about what he did and both agreeing Julian needed to come back, was that he couldn't walk into anyone else's life. With a bit of effort and discussion on all our parts," she said, nodding toward Julian, "we discovered a solution....we created a new person."
"You could say, he's what our children would look like, if Sam and I...you know, had kids," Daniel, he shrugged, feeling unsure but hopeful.
"I've seen to it, he exists in every way that counts, Sir. He's even got security clearance..." Sam started to explain.
This prompted Jack to react, "clearance?"
Daniel moved forward, "Jack, I'd like to introduce, Doctor Daniel J. Evans, newest member of my department."
Jack could feel moisture in his eyes and tried to keep it at bay. "You...you..." he pointed at Daniel, then tried again. "You both, I mean...who all knows?"
"Just Sam and me," Daniel said. "Jack...I was wrong too. It's over...time to heal," he said moving forward and embraced Jack and that was the last straw and Jack let the tears flow. "I love you like a brother and a best friend. Even with everything that happened...its still there," Daniel whispered. "I don't want to see you hurt anymore," he added, then pulled back, and then grabbed Sam. "Well be in the kitchen," he said. "We'll talk more...later," he added, then dragged Sam leaving the two alone.
Jack slowly moved toward the young man unsure what to do or say. He was the same height he had been before, same eyes, but there where differences. "Why?" he managed to ask.
Julian looked sad as he moved closer to Jack, "Life on the run is no life at all, Jack. Plus, I couldn't let you give up everything for me..."
"I told you, the SGC..."
"Wasn't all you would lose, Jack. You'd lose respect and your family, I couldn't..." Julian closed his eyes, pulling tight the reigns of his emotions. "I just couldn't."
"So, you left me alone," Jack said with a bit of anger. He stepped forward and grabbed Julian by the biceps and made him look at him. "I asked you not to leave me. I asked you not to make me spend my life alone," he growled, anger turning into hurt. "I thought...I thought you died?"
"I thought I could find a way back to Earth, find away back to you, but then...with the device and all the time I spent...being..." Julian couldn't hold back a few stray tears. "I didn't really see what I had done to Daniel as all that wrong when I did it. But with time...with being...him...being with all of you...I learned. I could have done many things to come back, but none of them were things I could look myself or you in the eye and live with...not anymore," Julian explained.
"Why didn't you leave the planet?" Jack asked, his voice growing softer, noticing that Julian smelled like he use too, which he knew wasn't Daniel, hadn't been for some time.
"Hope that you might come...that someone would say something and indirectly let me know how you were," Julian replied honestly. "I'm sorry, Jack, I never..."
Jack found he couldn't be angry anymore and cupped Julian's face, "Shh," he said, then leaned in and kissed his love, noticing only a little difference, but it was soon forgotten as Julian responded to the kiss. Jack pulled back, leaning his forehead on Julian's "I love you, and I need you. We both fucked up and we're both very lucky to have friends and family like Daniel and Carter.
"Yes...yes, we are," Julian agreed. "And I love you too, Jack," he smiled, caressing Jack's handsome face.
Jack leaned back, grabbing Julian's now slightly slimmer hand, and pulled the ring originally intended for him off his own left hand and slipped it onto Julian's left. "I wish that could be your right," he whispered, his eyes showing vibrancy once more.
"It is, in my heart," Julian replied and once more they shared a kiss.
"You two get any more sappier and Sam and I both are going into diabetic shock," Daniel said, as he came out of the kitchen, two beers in his hand, followed by Sam, who carried two glasses of wine, and was trying to hide her tears.
Jack felt his face blush and saw Julian do the same. He reached out and took a drink, "So, I guess you all should tell me about my new boyfriend," he suddenly said, getting a smile and a few light chuckles from everyone, including himself.
"Well, his credentials are similar to mine, but he'll have to go to school to get the PHD in linguistic and the masters in anthropology...seems fair payment, if you ask me," Daniel said.
"More than fair," Julian replied, sneaking an arm around Jack to keep him close, while he still could.
"Why Daniel?" Jack asked, and then saw he needed to clarify, "I mean, why did you go with the same name?"
"Well, to be honest...I like having you call me Danny," Julian confessed. "But if you need..."
"No...no," Jack said looking at Daniel, seeing if he was alright with it.
"He asked and explained why, and there really are other Daniel's in the world. Plus, he can go by DJ or Julian and no one would be none the wiser," Daniel suggested.
"You do know we work for the SGC, right?" Jack said looking at both Carter and Daniel. Seeing the three scientists didn't get it amused him, "We see strange every day. We think strange...someone is going to notice the name and notice the looks," Jack pointed out.
"So," Daniel said after a moment. "We covered our basis, and if need be, we'll explain to the few that need to know. For now...we move forward," Daniel, said, raising his wine glass for a toast. "To Family," he said, and then looked at the others.
"To forgiveness," Julian said, toasting with his beer,
"To friends," Carter added.
Everyone looked to Jack as he had the last toast. He raised his beer, "To...forever," he grinned, sipping his beer, and drinking in his blessings before him.