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Jeopardy's Lesson

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I awaken in my bed and see the sun shining on the duvet. There are dust motes floating in the golden rays and I watch them as they dance lazily in the beam. And I think of how nice it must be to be a dust mote. No worries, no hassles, no fears.

I roll over and plump my pillow, watching more motes circulate in front of me. Even though it's late afternoon, I don't have to be anywhere for a change. SG1 didn't get back to Earth until early this morning and we're on down time. Well, three of us are, Daniel's still TDY with SG13 on an archaeological dig theoretically finding something fascinating about old dead Goulds and hopefully not getting kidnapped by nasty aliens like he did last time.

I realize that he is the reason I'm laying here, still awake, after the fiasco on Juna. I should be dead to the world for at least twelve hours, but instead, after a cat nap, I'm wide awake and very aware that one of my kids is not safe and sound at home in his own little bed . . . but out there.

I mean, I know he's a grown man. One who has proven that can hold his own against System Lords, slimy aliens and a whole host of other nasties. But he's not here, on Earth, with us. So that makes me nervous. okay? And it always seems worse when it's Daniel. Maybe its 'cause he's the civilian, or the youngest, or my best friend or . . . 'cause it's just him. That and I'm still a little shook from watching our doppelganger robots bite the big one. Hits just a little too close to home.

When I found out that Daniel's robot was dead, it made my belly turn over right then. Somehow, it never fails. All the galaxy's shit seems to find a way to pile itself on Daniel Jackson. There he'll be, just doing his thing, digging up rocks and dusting off artifacts, or videotaping cuneoglyphs, and bam! It happens again.

And to be honest, it really doesn't matter whether he's with us or not. Nem got him, Hathor got him, Shyla got him, Machello got him, and I was there each and every damn time and couldn't do a damn thing to stop it. He's been shot, kidnapped, raped, sarcophagussed, and body switched. Last time he was stolen by an Unas for cryinoutloud.

Then Harlan shows up, and guess what? HIS SG1 is missing and when we find them Jack-robot tells us that their Daniel-robot is dead. And it suddenly doesn't seem to make a difference to me that it's his Daniel, and not even real to boot. My heart jumps up in my throat, my stomach flip-flops, my pulse goes over the top, and my head starts to hurt. It seems robot Jack had the same problems with his Daniel as I do with mine. And I didn't envy him at all. He may have been bet-ter, stron-ger and fas-ter than me, but I know that he suffered the same way I would have.

I hear the sound of a car door closing and familiar footsteps coming up my walk, complete with the little hop up the front steps. The doorbell rings, then comes the sound of keys jingling, followed by the grating noise of the door being opened. I jump out of bed, pull on my jeans, and head out barefooted to meet my living breathing Daniel Jackson back safe and sound. (He'd better be or heads will roll on SG13, damn it!)

Sure enough, there he is in my living room; blue plaid shirt and all.

"Hey!" I greet him.

"Hey, yourself," he responds laconically. "got any coffee?"

I have to chuckle. "In the cabinet. I just got home myself a coupla hours ago and haven't made any. Help yourself."

And he does too, heading into the kitchen area like a man on a mission. Before I can get to the doorway, I hear the cabinet open and the coffee maker pulled out from against the wall.

"So, how did it go on the dig?"

"Great!" He turns around to face me holding a scoop full of French Roast grounds. "Jack, you'd never believe how pristine these buildings were. It was as if the populace had just stepped out for a minute. They left everything . . . as if they were just whisked away. There were actual scrolls still in their cylinders. Furniture, implements, everything. It was amazing. I believe that they were more Etruscan than Greek. And the frescos were beautiful"

"Good, that's good. So what do you think happened to them?"

He looks at me in surprise. "Who?"

"I said, what do you think happened to the Etruscans who weren't Greeks? Do you think they migrated willingly, or did something happen to them?"

Daniel puts down the coffee can and crosses the room to the telephone on the wall. "I'm calling General Hammond."

"Why?"

"Because you are NOT the Jack O'Neill that belongs in this universe."

"Hey, that's not fair. I listen . . . sometimes."

He shakes his head. "What's up with you guys? First Teal'c comes to the gateroom to meet me when I get back. Then Sam calls me on my cell phone on my way home. Now you're in here with me and you've actually listened and used the word Etruscan."

I start to answer with a smartass comment, but realize that he's right. We're all acting a little weird, and I know why too. I am, actually, not that dumb. This one is easy.

"Daniel, while you were gone, something happened."

He puts the scoop down and eyes me with concern. "I figured that out, but no one will tell me exactly what did happen."

I sigh, shuffle my feet, pull out a chair, sit down, and roll my eyes. "We, uhm, went back to Juna. Harlan came and got us. Our robot doubles were going on missions and, well, they got into trouble."

"How much trouble?"

"Your double was already dead and the other three didn't last too much longer." I wave my hand in the air. I know he'll translate it easily enough.

"You saw me dead again?"

"No. The Jack robot told me." I shake my head. "I could tell by the way he said it that he had seen it happen, and it didn't sound pretty."

Daniel finishes putting the pot together and finally sits down next to me. "I can see where it would be a shock." He blinks and swallows. "That's why all of you are acting a little . . . "

". . .weird . . . '

". . .over protective. You heard my robot double was dead and it bothered you."

I shrug. "Yeah."

"And Teal'c and Sam."

"Yeah."

He looks up at me through his eyelashes and over his specs. "Thanks."

"Daniel?" Now that we've started talking, I have to ask this, even if I don't like the answer that I get. "Lots of people have been asking to borrow you . . . and you get to go on these trips to interesting places and all . . ."

He nods at me. "Yeah, it's . . . kind of nice that so many people are interested in my work," then he glances back at the coffee pot. "But I miss you guys."

"What?" I'm surprised at this comment.

"Well I miss the closeness of working with my team." He smiles at me, "I've always been sort of a maverick with my theories. I mean it's gratifying to be so popular, still a little surprising in some ways."

"Daniel." I shake my head and reach across the table to tap him on the hand to get his undivided attention. "Danny, you opened the Stargate. You were right. Everything that you said about inter- cultural cross pollination is being proven every day by the very colleagues that didn't believe you four years ago."

Daniel is now not only staring at me, his mouth is hanging open and his fingers have balled up into a fist. "What did you just say?"

I smile at him. "I don't think I could say that again. But I meant every word. Look, I know you've always been considered special . . . "

"Odd." He comments.

Okay, I'll play. "Quirky."

"Peculiar."

"Idiosyncratic."

"Weird."

"Eccentric."

"Cracked."

"Dedicated."

"Workaholic."

"And maybe a bit moody."

"Bipolar."

"No!" I'm surprised.

"Yes, and also ADD."

"Attention Deficit Disorder? You?"

"I was bored. They thought I was stupid."

I'm now looking at my best friend in shock. "You're the smartest person I know."

He shook his head. "You know Sam."

"You're the smartest person I know . . . and the bravest and the toughest and the guy I want guarding my six."

He shook his head. "Teal'c."

"No, you. You're my best friend."

Now it's his turn to stare. "I...uhm . . . "

"We fight, we fuss, we get pissy with each other, but when the chips are down I know I can trust you to do the right thing for me . . . and I hope you trust me the same way."

The blue eyes are getting to me and I start to blush. I barely hear the quiet, "I do."

But on with the chase. "So, I don't want you to go volunteering to go off world with any other teams." I pause for effect. "If you have to go because of some something, then we'll talk about it."

"But Jack . . . "

"I mean, I know the fate of the world and all that, but really Daniel . . . ":

"Jack, I don't volunteer. They ask for me and you sign off on it. I go where you tell me to go."

"I do?" Okay, I'm surprised at that. "You do? I mean, you don't?"

He looks at me curiously. "I never volunteer. I always have enough to do."

"Oh." I sit and think of all the times that I've approved his trips because I thought he wanted to go. How people had out and out lied to me about his 'interest' and his 'desires'. The next sorry so and so who lies to me is so gonna get his ass kicked. "Well, then," I paused, "from now on you're not going unless you ask me to go yourself."

He nods at me, then drops his eyes. "I thought you were trying to get rid of me so I wouldn't bother you."

Now I'm floored. "Danny, you may irritate and confuse me, but you don't bother me." I squeezed the hand I'm still touching. "Why do you think you bother me?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "Just seems that way sometimes. You and Sam . . . "

"Carter is my military team member. She has to get her briefings and I have to communicate things to her. Teal'c is a warrior; he's been doing this longer than both of us have been alive. You, you're just the guy that I owe my life to and sometimes you don't always get where I'm coming from. And, sometimes, I don't understand your point of view. But together, the four of us, we're the best there is. So," I gently slap the top of his hand as it lies on the table. "No more going with other teams for you. You're with us from now on."

He's smiling at me . . . hell, he's beaming at me. I've made my point. I'm glad. And so is he.