A Thousand Miles
by Sting from the Album "Brand New Day"
A thousand years, a thousand more
A thousand miles, a million doors to eternity
I may have lived a thousand lives, a thousand times
An endless turning, stairway climbs
To a tower of souls
If it takes another thousand years, a thousand wars
The towers rise to numerous floors in space
I could shed another thousand tears, a million breaths
A million names, but only one truth to face
A million roads, a million fears
A million suns, ten million years of eternity
I could speak a million lies, a million songs
A million rights a million wrongs in this balance of time
But if there was a single truth, a single light
A single thought, a single touch of grace
Then following this single point, this single flame
This single haunted memory of your face
I may be numberless, I may be innocent
I know many things, I may be ignorant
Or I could ride with Kings and conquer many lands
Or win this world at cards and let it slip my hands
I could be cannon food, destroyed a thousand times
Reborn a fortune's child, to judge another's crimes
Or wear this pilgrims cloak, or be a common thief
I've kept this single faith, I have but one belief
I still love you,
I still want you
A thousand times those mysteries unfold themselves
Like galaxies in my head
On and on the mysteries unwind themselves
Eternities still unsaid
'til you love me.
The Gateroom lights were on low power. It was 0300 in the morning and no one was due back for at least twelve hours. The skeleton shift was doing some minor repairs and maintenance to the auxiliary equipment.
Then, the Stargate began to power up. The ancient chevrons began glowing with a phosphorescent glow, the heavy alien material shifted with a weighty reverberation. The technicians that were working in the great room looked around in surprise, trying to identify the source of the resonance. When they realized where it was emanating from, they scattered like quail in the brush.
After ten revolutions, the great wheel ground to a stop and an explosion of a watery appearing plasma discharged into the room.
Two tall male figures emerged from the wormhole. Both men were wearing fatigues, but one was obviously more a professional military man. He carried an unusual weapon and peered about suspiciously. The other, standing slightly behind and to the left, had only a nine-millimeter pistol.
"Jack, where is everyone?" The younger man asked apprehensively.
"I don't know...and I don't like it." Colonel Jack O'Neill replied, pushing the safety off his P-90. "There should be a security force any way." He turned and looked behind him. "Ohhhh crap."
"What? Oh no." Daniel Jackson exclaimed. "No iris."
Jack looked at Daniel. "Yeahchuryabettcha. No Kansas."
"Damn it, Jack. I'm really getting tired of this."
Finally, someone wearing Sergeant Siler's face and Master Sergeant's strips came trotting into the Gateroom. He diffidently approached the two men as they stood at the base of the metal mesh ramp. He greeted O'Neill with a smile. "Uh, welcome back, Sir. How was your trip?"
O'Neill looked at the man thoughtfully, "Fine, Sergeant, just fine, but." He glanced at Daniel. "But I just realized that we need to go back. We uhm, forgot something."
"But, Sir," the man looked at him in confusion. "You know that's not possible tonight."
"Yes, Sir." The man who would be Siler replied. "When we sent the supplies to the beta site we used our power authorization for the day." He shook his head. "Sorry, Sir. We didn't know that you'd need another trip."
Jack glanced at Daniel and the other man shrugged, as if to say, 'what else is new.'
"Will you be going home, Sir? Or do you want me to get you your regular suite, I mean, since it's so late and all?"
"Uh, yeah sure. That'd be great...thanks." O'Neill nodded trying to appear nonchalant.
Siler glanced at Daniel curiously, without recognition. "And your friend, Sir?"
Jack and Daniel traded confused looks. O'Neill recovered quickly. "No, that's all right. He can stay with me."
"Yes, Sir. I'll have the NCO of the Day meet you at suite number seven per usual." The Sergeant waited a moment as if expecting something else to happen but when it didn't, he nodded obsequiously and trotted off.
"Well, that was...odd." Jack said softly, as they started down the hall towards the elevators that would take them to the floor with the VIP rooms.
Daniel nodded then said nervously. "I know. Jack, why are we staying? We know this isn't our SGC. We've got to leave before something else happens."
"I know Daniel, but we can't. Evidently they're on some serious power restrictions here." When they arrived at the door marked number seven; a sergeant was already there, waiting for them out of breath, as if he'd run the whole way. Jack looked at his partner, then back to the airman. He nodded and the man opened the door for them. They didn't speak until he handed O'Neill the key and left. Jack and Daniel looked at their surroundings. "Besides don't we need a power booster thingy? We'd never make it home anyway." Jack added.
Daniel nodded morosely. He realized that Jack was right about the auxiliary power generator. He'd just been so distressed when he realized that they were in yet another alternate universe. He had really wanted this to be their home but, it obviously wasn't. He stood still and watched Jack, the professional cynic, do the perimeter check.
They were in a very large suite that boasted a king size bed as the centerpiece. The room was tastefully decorated in blue and green pastels; the plush carpet on the floor was a matching sky blue tone. There was an expensive looking Oriental rug of matching hues centered in the sitting area. The bar area appeared to be well stocked and, upon a closer inspection, the refrigerator in the kitchenette/dining area also had an assortment of soft drinks, cold cuts and various condiments available. Bread was stored in the cabinet along with chips and nuts. A set of dishes and flatware was also available for use.
When O'Neill nodded his all clear to his partner, Daniel dropped his pack and stepped over to the bath area to use the facilities. When he opened the door, he paused and blinked in astonishment. "Jack, come here and look at this."
After securing the door, Jack had laid his P-90 and other equipment on the dinette table and began to look around more closely. He looked up from his inspection of the refrigerator and its contents. Removing a can labeled KokaKola from the fridge, he sauntered over to join the younger man. "Yeah, what cha got?" He looked in over Daniel's shoulder. "Okay, I'm impressed."
The door opened up into a large luxurious spa. The huge shower cum bath was enclosed on two sides with etched glass; with several large fluffy towels stacked on a shelf. The large sink was a marble covered affair, fully stocked with shampoos, soaps, and creams. Tucked in a tastefully concealed corner were the stool and a bidet.
Jack stepped in the room and peered into the bath area; first up at the showerhead, then at the tub. "It's got an adjustable water massage and the tub is a whirlpool." He commented as he stepped back and shook his head. "Either the president comes here often or they don't have the same budget guy as we do."
Daniel had followed him in and tucked away in an alcove in the far corner was a double closet. When he tried the doors, they were locked. Wordlessly, the Colonel took an unidentified key on the room's key ring and tried it in the locking mechanism. It fit. He opened the doors and stepped back, exposing the clothing inside. There were several starched sets of blues, BDUs, DCUs and fatigues. On the service dress jacket, the nametag reflected the name O'Neill; the rank displayed was Brigadier General.
Daniel smiled at Jack's surprised expression. "Niiice." He commented with a raised eyebrow, looking back at the other man.
"Well, now we know why everyone is so polite to me..." Jack commented dryly. "They think I'm him."
"Jack, you are him." Daniel teased him gently. "You're just a different him than he is."
"Well, Mister Linguist...I hope you're proud of that statement." He looked at Daniel sidewise. " 'Cause I don't think you'll ever use it again."
"I don't know. I've used it about four times now, and I like it less the more often I have to say it."
"Point taken." O'Neill turned and reached around pulling his friend into a loose hug. "At least we're still together. That last trip scared the shit out of me." He kissed Daniel gently, then once again with more passion. "I love ya, ya know."
"I know, Jack. I know." The other man returned the kiss shyly for a few moments then lay his head on his lover's shoulder. "That last trip didn't help my nerves any either, believe me!"
"But?" O'Neill asked, moving, tilting his head so that his forehead rested on the others.
"But what?" The question was asked with a sigh.
"You have that 'but Jack' look on your face." He commented. "What's it about, now?"
"There's more than one set of clothes in there." Daniel nodded at the locker. "Maybe there's someone else..."
"Not for me, Danny. You're all I can handle." Jack grinned suggestively as he slid his hands up and down his Daniel's back and ass.
"Well, I hope to stay a challenge...but I meant here, in this universe." Daniel smiled into the next kiss. "I mean, I'm obviously not here with you in any capacity. This Sergeant Siler didn't know me at all."
"His loss, sweetheart."
"Be that as it may, Jack." Daniel pulled back and looked over the shoulder that was blocking him. "We need to know the situation...for threat assessment purposes." He finally broke free from the other man's arms and pushed him gently aside to get to the open wall locker's interior. He reached in and removed a smaller set of Class As. "Uh oh." He commented in a soft voice.
"What?" Jack asked with a sigh.
Daniel turned and pulled the uniform out on its hanger. The nametag displayed the hyphenated name Carter-O'Neill. "It's Sam."
"Oh, for crying out loud!" Jack exclaimed. "He's an idiot!"
Daniel frowned at him. "Now, Jack. Sam is a lovely woman, smart, beautiful...and female."
"Yeah, and your point?"
"Primarily the female part." Daniel answered primly. "She's much more acceptable to societal norm than me."
"Than I," Jack unconsciously corrected the linguist's grammar. "But she's Sam Carter. Either they fight all the time or he's PW'd."
"Beg pardon?" Daniel looked confused.
"Pussy-whipped, not wearing the pants, taking it laying down, not in charge; you know." Jack walked back into the bedroom area waving his arms and drink can for emphasis.
"It's probably easier on his knees."
"What?" Jack turned and frowned at him.
"Taking it lying down. It's probably easier on his knees than taking it over the top...or the bottom...as it were." Daniel looked at him impishly.
"Eww, Daniel, this is Carter we're talking about...me and Carter." He upended the can and drained it. "That's just...ewwh!" He turned and tossed the empty drink container like a basketball, hitting the plastic trashcan ten feet away at the end of a smooth arch. Jack then turned back to Daniel and wrapped his arms around the younger man's waist. "Now you, on the other hand..."
"Need to go to the bathroom...now. Don't squeeze Jack, or you will be sorry." He slipped deftly out of his partner's arms and headed back for the other end of the room. Jack followed and as Daniel used the facilities, Jack turned on the shower carefully adjusting the water's temperature. He began to strip off his clothes with his back to the other man.
Moments later, he felt Daniel's strong arms come around him from the back and the slightly stubbled cheek rub gently along the top of his shoulders. The talented, educated mouth nibbled on his ear lobe. He leaned back against the younger man, feeling that he was completely naked. "Oh, yeah, Danny. You feel so good. Did I lock the door?"
"Yes, yes you did. Jack...I saw you do it." Another kiss and a soft bite on the nape of his neck caused a shiver to run through him. "I love you." The line was simple, direct, and truthful. The other man's breathe moving across his skin.
O'Neill rested his hands on the strong arms that encircled him. He could feel the taut young body pressed intimately against him. Jack allowed his head to fall back against his lover and the facile mouth shifted from his ear to his throat. Sharp teeth grazed the tender skin along the big artery. Daniel shifted his stance and Jack felt a pressure at his lower back, erect flesh pressed itself intimately to the cleft of his ass through the jersey knit of his underwear. He tensed immediately, a flood of black and red memories came back to him.
"Jack, what's wrong?" The voice was contrite, worried and the pressure disappeared as if it had never been there.
Jack sighed and tipped his head forward. It had been over ten years ago. It had been totally different. That had been forced. This, this he wanted, he craved. Why wouldn't the demons leave him alone? He could have wept in frustration and shame. He wanted Daniel, needed him like sunshine and rain, yet this old fear appeared out of nowhere to haunt him. "It's...its nothing, Daniel." He kept a firm hold on the arms that were attempting to withdraw from him.
"It is something Jack, something bad. I'm sorry if I upset you." The sweet breath was still on his shoulder. Their hands clasped to each other around his waist.
Jack put on a determined air. "No, no, Daniel, it's not you." He stroked the hands that rested lightly on his belly. "It's just something that happened...a long time ago." He turned around wanting the arms to continue the hug. Turning to face the other man, he kissed his partner gently on the lips. "You just kinda snuck up on me." He could tell that Daniel wasn't buying it by the hiking of the expressive eyebrows.
" 'I' snuck up on you?" Daniel willingly allowed Jack to keep his arms occupied. "I am in an alternate reality." He smiled sweetly. "Now, who are you and what have you done with MY Jack?"
"I'm all the Jack you'll ever want or need, Danny-boy. Don't you forget it!" He aggressively took the partly open lips with his demanding mouth and pushed his tongue in between the white teeth doing an in depth exam. When they finally had to break apart for air, Jack jerked his head back towards the still running shower. "Temperature should be just about right by now. C'mon in."
Jack slipped his own briefs off and tugged on the hand he was holding. Daniel smiled a shy little grin and allowed himself to be led into the stall and the warm liquid stream. Under the water, they came together again, the older man sliding his hands erotically over the firm young body displayed in front of him. He pressed up against the slick, warm, wet, skin. Their male organs rubbed together, and it felt like lightening in his balls. He surged against the younger man, pushing Daniel against the tile wall, straining to feel the pleasure of contact, rubbing his sensitive flesh insistently against the soft, curly pubic hair and a correspondingly firm erection. Daniel wrapped his arms around his love's torso in return, catching at Jack's ass and kneading the flexing muscles of the other's demanding body. Jack caught Daniel's head with both hands and took his mouth, demanding submission, and pushing for dominance. Their shy dance had escalated to an almost struggle. As the pinnacle of pain pleasure was reached, jack strained forward, his thrusts forcing the younger man hard against the wet slippery shower wall. He cried out his triumph in the welcoming mouth with a muffled mix of roar and growl.
Leaning heavily on his lover's strength, he gasped for breath. Daniel continued to move against him, unsated. After a moment of respite, he realized that his younger lover was still caught in the throes of their passion and hadn't yet reached completion. Heedless of the hard tile and the pelting water, Jack knelt in front of the straining thighs and painfully hard organ. Quickly, not wishing to prolong his partner's need, he hastily took the burgeoning erection in one hand and took the head in his mouth, suckling on it and milking the shaft firmly with concentration. With his other hand, he gently and oh so tenderly slid behind the drawn up testicles and probed for the puckered opening to his lover's desperately seeking body.
Daniel's hands gripped his head and the strong agile fingers wound themselves into his short cropped hair, clutching him, demanding that he do something, anything to end this torment.
Finding what he was seeking, Jack slowly eased one finger into the tight opening, feeling it clench and grip him. He looked up to see the expression on Daniel's face; to be sure his partner liked what he was doing. But as his finger sank in a mere inch, the younger man's excitement took control literally out of his hands as he began to thrust wildly into Jack's willing mouth. Within moments, he could taste the reward of his efforts as Daniel's release spurted onto his tongue and down his throat.
Jack continued to suck his love's cock, taking it all, pushing his finger in deeper searching for something he'd only read about. His quest was cut short as Daniel, now limp and sated, slid bonelessly down the slick wall of the shower to collapse into the large whirlpool tub and into Jack's waiting arms. Smiling contentedly, Jack cradled his limp linguist in his own weakened arms, leaning them both back against the cool porcelain. The young man's head was leaning across his chest. Jack rubbed his exposed upper arm. "Daniel?"
"Um hum." Came the grunted answer.
"Are you all right?" He asked with some concern.
"Wonderful, I'm just wonderful." Finally, Daniel seemed to gather enough strength to raise his head to look at Jack's face. Jack cupped his cheek in his hand and kissed him on the mouth. Daniel licked his lips, a curious look on his face.
"That's what I taste like?' At Jack's nod, Daniel smiled sleepily up at him.
"I wanna taste you."
Jack smiled down at his lover, stroking the wet hair and brushing his lips on the broad forehead. "And I want you to, but right now...I think that big bed has our names on it." He gently stroked the face looking up at him, running his thumb across the swollen lips that he had bruised moments ago.
The two friends, now lovers, clambered to their feet, shutting off the shower. Exiting the tub area, they grabbed two of the fluffy bath sheets and made their way to the huge bed, waiting patiently for them in the outer room.
As Jack crawled into bed, Daniel was already under the covers. He flicked the light out and stretched out enjoying the sensation of being clean and comfortable. He felt some small movement on the mattress. He turned his head towards the other man. "Daniel?" He said softly.
The responding voice was muffled. "Yes."
"Danny, are you all right?'
"Yes," The bed was beginning to vibrate, the voice was rough.
"Daniel?" Concerned, he rolled over and laid his hand on his lover's back. The warm smooth skin was shaking. "Daniel, did I hurt you? Are you all right? What's wrong?"
Realizing that Jack was getting the wrong impression, the younger man rolled over next to him, and buried his face in the broad, warm chest. He was giggling, so hard he couldn't speak.
"Daniel? Are you laughing? You're laughing!" Jack said in amazement. "What are you laughing at?"
He finally managed to get his giggling under control to gasp. "You...you said ewwwhhh...about Sam," He dissolved again into laughter, rolling over onto his back.
"What?" O'Neill began to realize that everything was fine with his partner, but that the younger man was actually in a good place. "You're laughing at me?" He cuddled him, encouraging the happy mood. "Why are you laughing at me?"
"You and Sam...you said ewwwwh, " The younger man was red faced and breathless with laughter. "You shouldn't be that way, she's a good, sweeeehehete person..." He dissolved into laughter again, shaking uncontrollably. "eeewwwhhheeeeheheheheh."
Jack wrapped his Daniel in his arms, pulled him close and kissed him on the ear and hair. "You just sleep, sweetheart, giggle yourself to sleep."
Sleep was needed. The last thing he did before following Daniel into their shared dreams was reach to find the zatniketel he had pulled from his pack earlier and put on the night stand next to where he was going to sleep.
It was a decision that he would be glad of in the morning.
Jack was startled awaked by the rattling of keys in the door. The first thing he he realized was that he had an armful of naked archaeologist. They had fallen asleep several hours earlier after their first love making and the immediate stress relief their physical release had blown them away.
Jack knew they probably should have waited for a more secure place, but Daniel had started on him and he had simply lost all sense of self-preservation in the heat of the moment. The man in question was curled up in his embrace looking remarkably like an innocent kid instead of the thirty-five-year-old-adult instigator of high passion.
His attention was drawn back to the door as the sound of the key in the lock indicated that it was functioning properly and they were about to be discovered. He rolled out of the king-sized bed, and slipped on his BDU trousers. As an afterthought he picked up the zatniketel he'd brought from the other universe, tucking it into his waistband at the small of his back. Instinctively, he flipped the covers of the bed over Daniel's tousled head, hiding him completely from sight. Then the door opened.
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter-O'Neill opened the door and stalked in. "Well, Jack, I see you finally made it back."
"Uh, yeah, Cart...Sam. I got back really late so I thought I'd just bunk here for the night."
"Well, how thoughtful of you...and how convenient." The tall blonde woman closed the door behind her. She was wearing her service dress blues complete with skirt a little too short for the regulation and heels a little too high. She looked drop-dead gorgeous and furious. When she approached Jack, she was as tall as he in his bare feet and looked at him squarely, eyes hard.
"Sergeant Nash told me you had a 'friend' in here with you." Carter looked angry, really angry ...and it occurred to him that she was trying to intimidate him with her elevated height and the inflection in her voice. It could have worked if he hadn't realized it. "It's not bad enough you have to have affairs, but...to bring your conquests here to the mountain?" She shook her head and started walking towards the bed. "Is she another alien...or just some GI slut who wanted to sleep with you for a little rank adjustment?"
O'Neill was getting a little tired of this nonsense and imposed himself between the angry woman and the now stirring form under the blankets of the king-sized bed. "Wait just a minute, Carter! There's something you have to know first before you get all bent out of shape."
She straight armed him out of the way and grabbed the edge of the blanket at the foot of the bed and yanked hard. "Carter? What? What is it this time, General Jonathan 'fuck-everything-in-skirts' O'Neill? Are you afraid that I'll find out it's..."
The mint green and baby blue comforter floated gently to the carpeted floor, revealing a nude, very sleepy Daniel who was blinking owlishly at them after being partially awakened by their loud voices.
"...It's a man!"
Daniel looked up confusion, "What the hell...?" Then realized that Sam Carter was staring at his cold naked body lying on a cold naked bed. He looked at her still slightly bewildered. "Sam?"
Sam Carter-O'Neill turned on Jack with a look in her eyes that he'd never seen before, complete and utter hatred. "Jack! How could you? In our own bed? You BASTARD!" She glared at him for a long moment then turned and stalked out of the room.
Daniel, wrapped only in his dignity, looked up at Jack who was standing at the foot of the bed. "Jack, what just happened?"
The other man shook his head. "I'm not sure, buddy. But I think you'd better put you pants on." He looked back over at the door, "It's gonna be a long day."
Both men retrieved their clothes and packs, checking their weapons just in case. After he was dressed, Jack again tucked the zat in the waistband of his BDU pants. Daniel had located the coffee maker and started a pot brewing. They had raided the small refrigerator and come up with some meat, cheese and bread for some breakfast sandwiches. They sat at the table and ate their simple meal quietly. Every few moments, one or both of them would steal a glance at the other.
Finally, Jack broke the silence. "Daniel, about last night..."
The younger man flushed and looked down at his breakfast. "I...I'm sorry, Jack. I know you wanted to wait until we got home...."
O'Neill looked at him blankly. "No, Daniel, I wanted to apologize. I didn't want to rush you." He got up and poured himself another cup of coffee, trying desperately to think of a way to explain his pushiness.
"No, Jack, I rushed you...I remember." The soft voice spoke behind him. "I'm sorry. It's just when I...we realized that we were in another alternate universe...well, I didn't want to wait anymore. I was afraid to wait."
Jack turned in surprise, and Daniel stood up and came over to him, reaching for and being given the other man's hands.
"I'm a little...um, well, the word is scared." Daniel continued, forcing past anything Jack had to say. "I really wanted you, for you, to know, and I guess...I guess I took advantage of you."
O'Neill looked at him in amazement. "YOU took advantage of ME?" He pulled his lover up against him and held him there. "Sorry, I don't remember it happening like that. I remember pushing you up against the shower wall. I remember some pretty amazing sex and I was going to say that I was sorry I was so rough." He paused to slip his hand up Daniel's throat and to guide that infuriating mouth closer to his own. "You started it, but love, I sure as hell wanted it." He kissed the partially opened mouth that was about to interrupt him. "I just wish it could have been in a better place where I could really show you how I feel about you."
Daniel closed his eyes, leaning up against Jack's firm body and enjoying the strong grip that had hold of him. "Jack, I love you."
"Danny, I swear, I'll get us home...so I can show you just how much I love you."
Soon enough, they heard the door being tried again. Then the sound of a key being used. They stood side by side, waiting for the inevitable. They looked at each other then back at the door. Jack felt for the zat in the back of his pants. Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill came in first, stepped to the side, and pointed at the two men sitting at the table. "Arrest that man...I want to know who he is and how the hell he got into a secure facility."
Four Security Forces troops came streaming into the room at her command. Behind them entered Lieutenant General George Hammond.
"General O'Neill, what's the meaning of all of this? How dare you compromise this facility by bringing an alien here without proper authorization?" This General Hammond looked very unhappy, and disappointed at him for this transgression...possibly one of a long line of them.
Jack had stepped in front of Daniel and stretched his arms out trying to fend off the unwanted attentions of the security detail. "Now, just a damned minute! General Hammond, with respect, Sir, you're wrong about this."
The big military policemen were trying to work their way around Jack to grab the stranger. Daniel was staying tucked in close to Jack until they could get their point across. Jack finally backed he and his lover into the counter of the kitchen area to prevent any precipitous grabbing. Speaking in a loud firm voice, over the security men's heads, he demanded the ranking officers attention. "General Hammond...please! We have to talk! I'm not your Jack O'Neill!" Seeing that he was being ignored and determined that he and Daniel not be separated, he pulled his concealed zatniketel and fired it at the light fixture, causing the fixture to explode in a shower of light and noise. Then he pointed the weapon at the SFs. Everyone froze in position. Sam stepped in front of Hammond, shielding him with her presence.
"Look, I don't want to hurt anyone, but you've got to hear me out." Jack said evenly after he finally got everyone's attention.
"What the hell is that thing, Jack?" Hammond pushed Carter-O'Neill out of the way and stepped forward towards Jack and Daniel.
Jack pointed the weapon harmlessly at the ceiling, not wanting to threaten the General unnecessarily. "First of all, General Hammond, and Colonel Carter or whatever you call yourself, I'm NOT General O'Neill...I'm Colonel O'Neill from SG-1." He paused a moment to let that sink in, then continued in his command voice. "We are from an alternate universe, another reality. We came here accidentally through the Stargate. This is Doctor Daniel Jackson, he's a member of my team, and we've gotten lost." He glanced at the zat he still held ready in his hand. "This is called a Zatniketel. It's a weapon that we discovered when we, my team, met an alien race called the Gould. I just happened to bring this one back with me. It's a kind of ray gun." He looked back at the two officers. "Look, all we want is to get home. We got here late last night, nobody was here. We just wanted to get rested and then leave. In my own universe, we could have turned around and left your SGC...gone to another planet...but here, I guess you've got the Stargate on some kind of power restriction so we couldn't leave. We had no choice but to wait for this morning...and you...Sir."
Hammond looked back and forth between the two people he knew as the O'Neills. Then he turned to the woman. "Could this be the truth, Colonel?"
Carter looked at Hammond as if she thought he had entered his dotage. "Sir, does that even sound as if it could be true?" She turned o, O'Neill. "Come on, Jack. Admit it. Quit trying to pass this farce off. Even you should be able to think of something more reasonable than this wild fairytale!"
Jack was getting really tired and frustrated at the whole thing. "Now, look, I'm not your husband!" He turned to Hammond. "General Hammond, come on...could even I make up something this wild?" He indicated Daniel who was standing in his normal position to the left of Jack. "This is Doctor Daniel Jackson. He's an archaeologist, historian, and linguist. I am COLONEL Jack O'Neill. He's my team member, along with MY Major Carter and an alien named Teal'c. We constitute SG-1. We use the Stargate to travel to other worlds. There are presently 15 teams assigned to Stargate Command. Our Commander is Major General Hammond and I'm his Vice-Commander."
Carter-O'Neill snorted in a most unladylike manner. "More like the commander of vice." She commented acidly.
Daniel leaned forward and whispered into Jack's ear. "This is the problem I had when I went through the Quantum Mirror. We've got to convince them that we're from a different reality."
"Jeez, Daniel. Ya think?" Jack muttered over his shoulder, watching Hammond for a reaction.
The General shot his woman officer a disapproving look. "That will be enough, Colonel!" Hammond looked back at the two men curiously. "Brigadier General O'Neill is the Commander of Stargate Command here, but he reports directly to me. I'm in charge of NORAD. There are presently five teams. Colonel Kawalsky is the Vice-Commander and leads the exploration team. Colonel Makepeace leads the Security Team, Colonel Ferretti leads the Engineers, Lt Colonel Davis the soft science team and Lt Colonel Davis Major Grady the physical scientists. We have no civilians that go off world."
"And what do you do, Carter?" Jack asked curiously. "Don't you have a team?"
She looked angrily at him. "You know damned well that I head the Science Department here. Quit this smoke and mirrors, Jack or I'll..."
"That will be ENOUGH!" Hammond's voice cracked out. "Colonel, since you can't comport yourself in a manner befitting an officer in the United States Air Force, you are dismissed!" Carter-O'Neill glared at Jack angrily for another second then turned on her high heel and left.
Jack looked at Hammond, then at the SFs that were still standing around him and Daniel. "General, can we talk? I don't like standing here like this, you don't like standing here like this and your security team is making me nervous." He hefted the zat, "I could have finished this a while ago, but I didn't."
Hammond looked at him closely, then at the troops, waving at the SFs to lower their weapons.. "Stand down, O'Neill, or whoever you are, I have several problems right now, and you're only one of them. If you aren't my O'Neill, where is he?"
"I don't know, General. Where was he when you last saw him?" He cautiously lowered the weapon.
"He went off world to inspect the Beta Site." Hammond frowned at them. "He's over twenty-four hours late with a check in and the MALP is not functioning at all. That's why his wife is so upset."
"Then, he's probably still there. Things have a way of happening on other planets that you can't plan for." Jack looked at Hammond and shrugged. "We haven't done anything to him, or even seen him. Maybe it's just a mechanical failure on the equipment's parts. Getting good radio contact through the wormhole is tricky at best." He glanced back over his shoulder at Daniel. The other man was uncharacteristically quiet. "Danny, you okay?'
"Yes, fine." Came the quiet reply.
"General, if I give you my word that we won't try anything...can you call your boys off here? I swear, all we want to do is get home."
Hammond had been thinking. "Well, here's my best offer, O'Neill. I'll hold you until my O'Neill comes back. All things pan out; we'll help you get back."
"Can we stay here?" Jack indicated the suite with a wave of his free hand.
Hammond shook his head. "I'm afraid not. This is General O'Neill's quarters when he's on base. We'll move you to other rooms."
"NO! I mean, what I mean is we need to stay together. He's a civilian. He doesn't go alone."
Hammond looked at the two of them with raised eyebrows. "A civilian with a bird colonel as a body guard? What the hell is he so important for?"
"Well, General, in our world...he opened the Stargate."
Several hours later, Jack and Daniel had been moved to a VIP suite similar to the one where they had spent their eventful first night. They and everything else of theirs, except their weapons, had been relocated by guards under Hammond's watchful eyes. The two pistols, the zatniketel, and Jack's P-90 were taken to the armory with Hammond's word that they would be returned when they were allowed to leave. Jack was not happy about their disarmament, but he understood the General's caution. This room was decorated in a more austere hotel-like manner but the fixtures were basically the same, with a more curtailed food and drink selection and a less luxurious bath facility. Hammond had arranged to have their meals brought in and two security guards were stationed outside their door. There was also the ubiquitous security camera in the upper corner over the entrance.
While Jack was restive at the new arrangements, he knew that this Lieutenant General Hammond had several problems and they were the most apparent source of them. He had a missing Brigadier General, he had a severely pissed off Lieutenant Colonel, he had just realized how easily the security of his tenant unit could be breached which constituted major threat to his facility and he had them.
They and General Hammond were presently seated around the table in Jack and Daniel's new quarters. The General was trying to comprehend what had just jumped out of the Stargate and hit him in the proverbial head. Hammond looked from Jack to Daniel then back to Jack. "So you're saying this...this boy...opened the Stargate? How the hell did he do that?"
Daniel looked at the General in shock. "Excuse me, General Hammond. I am thirty-five years old and hold a PH'D in Archaeology and Linguistics. I'm not a child, though I did open the gate when I was twenty-nine. Age has nothing to do with training and education."
Jack smiled at his partner. "Not to mention genius."
Daniel shook his head slightly at Jack then continued on. "I was hired by Doctor Catherine Langford to assist in the translation of ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Which I did do, but it was by the use of astronomical signs that I used to break the Stargate's code. Then when I got to Abydos..."
"Got where?" Hammond was looking at him oddly. "You went to Egypt?"
"No, the planet Abydos...." Daniel glanced at Jack. "We, Jack's team and I went to the planet Abydos where I found the cartouche room."
"Son, I don't know what you're talking about." The General shook his head. "Colonel Carter and Doctor Langford opened the gate. I don't know about any planet named Abydos, a cartouche room or a Doctor Jackson. They developed a computer program that finally activated the gate and it took us to the planet we call the Beta Site. We've since found the planets Kelowna, Edora, Tollana, and a few others." He shrugged. "You're saying there's more?"
Daniel looked at Jack for support. "Umm, yes, lots more.
O'Neill answered in a surprised voice, "Uh, yes Sir. There's hundreds more, maybe thousands." Then a look of understanding crossed his face. "That's why you don't have an iris on your Stargate. You haven't met many other races...you haven't met the Gould yet."
Now it was Hammond's turn to look surprised. "The Goold? No, can't say that we have. Why?"
Jack and Daniel exchanged looks and said simultaneously, "Uh oh!"
"Well you see, General, that's another whole problem." Jack started, "These aliens are a long way from the ones you've already met. They're a parasite, an intelligent snake, and they are very bad news. They burrow into your body, take your nervous system over and you become possessed. They use the person, the host, to be their arms and legs." He made a face. "It's downright disgusting."
Daniel started in to qualify Jack's explanation. "When we went to Abydos, we met our first Goa'uld. They masquerade as gods, super beings, but they're really just alien life forms that have evolved into their current form. They take humans and use them as either hosts or vessels like Jack said, or they enslave them, using people as slaves and incubators for their young. We killed the first one. We thought he was the only one." He looked at Jack. "But we were wrong."
Jack continued the story, "After we got back to Earth, we stopped using the gate. Daniel had stayed behind on Abydos to marry the headman's daughter and I had retired again." He glanced at his friend in concern but the younger man met his eyes and nodded for him to continue. "Then, Cheyenne Mountain was invaded the first time through the Stargate. They killed some of our people, grabbed another one, a woman, and left. That basically was the start of our war with the Gould. Your counterpart in our Universe recalled me to active duty again; I contacted Daniel and that basically started the Human--Gould war that's still ongoing back home."
"On Abydos, I had discovered an old Temple that had lists of the addresses to worlds." Daniel picked up on the General's next question before it was asked. "We've since been to over a hundred planets. Some are free of the Goa'uld's influence, some are enslaved, and some belong to other powerful aliens. We've made allies when we could, helped some..." He shrugged.
"But the point being General, they are out there. Just because you haven't found them yet, doesn't mean you're safe."
They were interrupted by the sounds of the Stargate activating. General Hammond looked at them with a smile. "Gentlemen, that might be General O'Neill returning now. Maybe your stay with us won't be as long as we had thought it would be." The senior officer rose to his feet and started towards the door.
As he opened it he heard sounds of gunfire echoing up from the gateroom, punctuated by screams and yelling. "What the hell is going on?" Hammond glanced at the two security guards who were both looking anxiously down the hall towards the sounds of fighting. Seeing the expressions on their faces, he nodded at them quickly. "Go, men, go!" The two guards sprinted down the hall anxious to do their duty and join in the fray.
Hammond turned to look at Jack and Daniel with fire in his eyes. "So help me, if this is your doing, I'll shoot you myself!"
Jack was at the door, Daniel hard at his side. "Sir, request permission to assist."
"We don't even know what's going on..." Hammond snarled at him, his Texan charm dissipated at the sound of explosions in his facility.
Jack stared back at the older man. "Those are the sounds of staff weapons and zatguns. Only one group of aliens uses those weapons in our universe...the Gould!" He gestured at the open hallway. "Let us help! We know what you're up against."
Hammond looked at Jack hard for a moment then nodded. "Your weapons? Will they be effective against them?"
"Yes, Sir, they will."
"Come on then!" The three men ran down the hall and took the elevator to the Gateroom level. The Armory door was standing open from the base personnel's rushed defensive efforts and they quickly located their own weapons. Jack handed Daniel his 9 mil and the zat, wanting the feel of his P-90 in his hands. Hammond picked up an M-16 and the three men rushed the remaining distance to the Stargate room.
As they rounded the corner, the firefight was in full contest. Armed and armored Jaffa had breeched the gate. Brigadier General O'Neill was rallying his troops to a defensive position to protect the base, firing with efficiency and cold-blooded calmness. A handful of returning men were lying wounded on the concrete floor. The three new combatants entered the fray, the pair of newcomers bringing with them the experience of fighting a known enemy and better weapons. After a few more minutes of ferocious fighting, the Jaffa now taking casualties, the Stargate was reopened by their leader using a device attached to his wrist. The invaders vanished back through the wormhole, leaving their wounded and dead behind.
General O'Neill crossed the floor to report to his commanding officer. He saluted Hammond, and said, "Sir, we have to go back! There are people still there! We can't leave them!"
Hammond crossed the floor littered with wounded. Medical personnel had arrived and were trying to help the wounded. "Jack! What the hell happened?"
Seeing Hammond, General O'Neill straightened up from where he was trying to one of his casualties. An orderly took over from him.
"General, they came through the Stargate at the Beta Site yesterday, Sir. We were just about to return to Earth when the 'Gate opened and hundreds of these guys started to come through. The base is now overrun. These people were all I was able to get back home. Everyone else is either dead or captured." He dropped his head and closed his eyes. "I lost the base, Sir. I have no excuse, but I've got to go back..."
Hammond reached his hand out and placed it on his officer's shoulder. "Jack, you can't. This wasn't your fault. It seems we've been grossly naive and uninformed about the Stargate. We, and I include myself, have been negligent to a crime." He turned and motioned Jack and Daniel to his side. "These gentlemen may be able to help us correct the situation. At least, I hope so."
O'Neill looked up at the two newcomers and said in a voice so familiar, Daniel had to smile. "Oh for crying out loud!"
Several hours later, General Hammond, General O'Neill, Colonel Kawalski, Colonel O'Neill, Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill and Daniel Jackson were having an impromptu briefing in the SGC infirmary. Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Warner had ordered the bodies of the slain aliens taken to the morgue section of the clinic for study.
After listening to an all too familiar story of a Jaffa invasion related by his counterpart, Jack had taken over the briefing. At least the body he was using for show and tell was unfamiliar and not an acquaintance.
"And this is where the Gould larva stays until it's old enough to take a host." He indicated the X-shaped pouch entrance. As he pointed to the nude Jaffa's abdomen, he noticed a movement under the skin. "Crap, the little sucker's still alive! Get back!" He physically pushed Daniel away as O'Neill backed Hammond and Samantha farther back from the corpse.
Warner on the other hand stepped forward. "It's in here?" He asked eagerly.
Jack stepped forward and grabbed him by the arm. "Yeah, and if you're not careful, it'll be in you, so back off!" He glanced around, "We need a five-gallon jar or bucket, about the size of a small aquarium and with a secure lid." Then, as an afterthought, "and some heavy-duty rubber gloves."
"Five gallons, how big is the damned thing?" O'Neill demanded as the med techs scrambled to locate the requested items.
Daniel answered for Jack. "It depends on how mature it is. After we get it out, it will need the fluid from the pouch to survive...if you want it too."
When the requested specimen container was found, Jack looked at Daniel as he pulled the gloves on. "I'm gonna get it out of him. I need you to cover me with the zat. Do not let it escape if something happens."
Daniel nodded grimly pulling the weapon out of his BDU shirt's pocket. He knew that this was the last thing Jack wanted to do, but they were the only two here with any experience with a Goa'uld larva. He also understood that his lover would rather be dead than possessed. He would cover his back.
Pulling on the yellow bio-hazard gloves, Jack looked at the body of the Jaffa and tentatively put his hand out. The larva would be alive, squirming and slimy. He knew he could not lose his grip on it or he would risk it implanting someone. Gingerly he reached into the fluid filled pouch, and felt around. Finally, he felt the motion of the infant. "Ah, shit! There he is...the little bastard!"
"Careful, Jack..." Daniel breathed, fascinated and repulsed at the same time.
"Got him!" He announced. "Everybody get back! Daniel, the lid!" Jack pulled the living Goa'uld larva out of it's pouch with a sickening sucking noise. He had it a few inches behind the head and it turned and faced him hissing its displeasure. He'd managed to grab it firmly and had it in his control. "Arrrgh, crap, I hate these things." Jack said in a strained voice. "Daniel, hurry up."
"Here, to your left." Daniel called to him from behind. He was holding the lid, ready to slam it down over the creature once it was in its prison.
Jack spun on his heel and deposited the goa'uld larva into the receptacle. Daniel popped the lid down over it firmly; entrapping the Goa'uld in it's new home.
The snake larva spun around in the jar, hissing its anger, flaring its gills in threats and Goa'uldish imprecations. It knew...it knew very well... what was going on and it hated O'Neill for what he was as much as he hated it for what it was. And Jack knew there was only one other man in any universe that despised and feared this particular alien life form as much as he did.
He looked up at Daniel and saw remorseless hate in the eyes of his normally gentle lover. The hate he had for the creature in the jar...the monster of his dreams. Jack nodded, as he stripped off the gloves. "Okay, Daniel. It's okay."
The younger man waited for his partner to go past him, then followed Jack, turning his back on his nightmare.
Jack turned to Warner and said firmly. "Don't let it out of there alive. If you want to use it for experimentation, kill it first."
"But, uh, Colonel...."
"You heard me, Warner, if you need it alive; leave it in the jar. If you want to dissect it then kill it. Don't let it out of there if its still moving."
The other O'Neill looked at it curiously as it moved around angrily in its prison. "You say it can possess people. How does it do that?"
Jack unbuttoned his shirt and slipped it down his shoulders catching it on the crooks of his elbows. "Daniel, show them."
Daniel reached out and pulled Jack's black t-shirt out and down exposing the nape of his neck and his upper shoulders revealing the jagged four-inch scar down the nape of his neck. "That's how." Daniel gently traced the mark. "It burrows into the spinal column and takes over the nervous system. You have a few minutes before it takes you over completely. Then, it pushes you back, and you're a prisoner in your own head."
Sam Carter-O'Neill stepped forward to examine the scar. "But if you escaped...?"
Jack turned around to face her. Daniel helped to tug the shirt back up to it's appropriate place, gently patting the collar into it's correct folds, stroking the shirt back to it's proper fit. He needed the tactile contact with Jack's warm strong shoulders. The Colonel just started buttoning his shirt, allowing their connection to go unremarked to the group.
"I was rescued by one of our allies, and put into a cryogenic sleep. Since he hadn't blended with me yet, the snake was killed by the cold." He tried to keep the shiver caused by the recall internal, but he knew from Daniel's close contact that the other man was affected by the horrific memory also. "And yes, it hurt like a son of a bitch...like nothing I've ever felt before." He reached behind and grasped one of Daniel's hands for a quick hard squeeze. "Daniel's wife and brother-in-law were taken as hosts. And my best friend, Charlie Kawalski." He glanced at the other Colonel. "We got the boy back, but both Daniel's wife and my friend are dead. He felt Daniel grip his hand convulsively when he mentioned Sha'uri.
Colonel Kawalski looked at him blankly. "You mean, I'm dead in your world?"
Jack nodded. "We've all lost people to the Gould." He tugged on Daniel's hand drawing him up close so that their bodies touched. "In our last little adventure through the screwed up Stargate system, we almost lost Sam Carter." He watched as his shocked counterpart glanced at his wife. "It makes you appreciate what you've got when you have it."
O'Neill didn't seem to want any details. Sam had been watching the transference of the larva with great interest, but at this information she looked over at her husband. Their eyes met for a long moment, and then O'Neill looked at Jack.
"So what's next? Obviously my base isn't as secure as we had hoped."
"Jeez, O'Neill, Ya think?" Jack answered him grimly. "I think you need to do some basic remodeling. Ya know that guy Siler? You need to bring him into this conversation.
O'Neill nodded, thinking about what he had learned. Jack glanced over at Daniel who had moved and was standing by the body of the dead Jaffa looking down at the corpse with a thoughtful expression. He walked over to stand by the younger man. "What's up? You got one of those looks on your face."
Daniel looked over at Jack and motioned to the hand of the Jaffa. "Look. Do you recognize this symbol?"
He frowned at the black brand in the shape of a stylized eye on the dead man. "Yeah, I mean, I know I should but I can't place it."
"Well, we've only seen it a few times and it was a long time ago." Daniel looked up at his partner. "It's a Udjat. It's Ra's symbol."
Jack turned to look into the intense blue gaze. "Well, that just makes everything perfect."
Several hours later, the briefing room was finally emptying out. Jack and Daniel had both spoken at length on everything from the importance of an Iris, having Security Forces available and the type of ammunition to requisition. What Jack wasn't up on Daniel easily filled in the blank spots. Working closely with their Sam Carter had taught them both more than they had ever considered knowing about the intricacies of the dialing program, repairing the Stargate and wormhole theory.
Finally, after most of the technicians had left to work, study and ponder on the mysteries of the universe, the four sat alone in General O'Neill's briefing room.
"Well, gentlemen, you've given us quite a blueprint to work from here." General O'Neill commented as he thumbed back through his notes. MSgt Siler and Sam here have their work cut out for them, as do I. Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill nodded absently at her husband as she worked on a set of figures on a yellow legal pad. "Anything else you want to tell us about?"
Jack glanced over at Daniel who was doing his own writing on an identical notepad. "You need to find your Daniel Jackson." He stated firmly.
The married couple both spoke at the same time. O'Neill looked over at his wife as she glared up at the three men from her notes. "You do not need a Daniel Jackson." She said firmly. "I can figure the rest out. After all, I'm the one who opened the gate here."
Daniel looked at her with a surprised expression on his face. Then he commented softly. "You only have it partially opened. You don't know how to extend your range or improve its performance."
Jack jumped in, "My Carter, and Daniel here, have a rather unique relationship. They are so much alike and yet so different, they're more like siblings then friends. Together, I really believe that there's nothing they can't do."
"Well, I'm obviously not your Sam Carter." The female officer retorted. "I couldn't put up with your relationship."
O'Neill looked at her in confusion. "What relationship?"
"They are homosexuals, dearest." She smiled sweetly at her husband. "As if you didn't know."
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Her husband asked, shocked by the revelation and her attitude.
"Figure it out, Jack." Sam got up from the table and left the room, slamming the door behind her.
General O'Neill looked from the closed door to the two men who sat across from him. "What the hell did she mean by that?"
Jack looked from his counterpart to Daniel. Daniel was looking down at the tabletop, and his fingernails. "Danny?"
The younger looked up at the two almost identical men. "I was just thinking...I don't feel...like that, but then, I don't know what it feels like."
Jack nodded. "I never put a title on myself before." He shrugged. "I guess we'd be called bi, but you're the only one, the only man, I've ever felt like this for." Jack looked at O'Neill. "Never thought about it before. We're just kinda figuring this whole thing out here. In two other realities, those Jacks and Daniels were involved in a long-term relationship. The one before that, they were just best friends and were both married." He nodded at his Daniel. "We've both been married before, but things just had a way of happening to show us a point of view."
The General nodded at his twin. "I was married before Sam and was divorced when we met..."
"Yeah, we had a son..."
Jack nodded sympathetically. "Charlie. Yeah, me too."
"Yeah, me too."
"Then I got recalled and met Sam."
"I got recalled and met Daniel. We went to Abydos, we killed Ra, he stayed and married Sha'uri, I came back and retired again."
"We found the Beta site, worked together for a while and got married." He shrugged. "I made General when West retired and got the command."
"We got invaded through the Stargate like you just did this time. I was recalled, went and found Daniel. Then his wife was kidnapped and he came back with me to find her." Jack shook his head. "She was killed."
O'Neill looked at them. "Wait, you said you killed Ra. Isn't that who you said we were facing here?"
"Yeah, but in our reality, we went to Abydos and killed him. You never went, so he's still a threat. Obviously, he found out you're using the Stargate system." He looked over at Daniel. "What do you think?"
"I think we're, uh, they're in trouble...and we should help."
Jack just shook his head at the other man. "Why am I not surprised?"
O'Neill finally called a halt to their discussion and suggested a break for lunch. He escorted his two guests to the commissary lunchroom. After they made their selections and had sat down, Jack started back on his earlier subject.
"You need to find your Daniel Jackson."
O'Neill put his fork full of potatoes down and shook his head. "I don't think so." He clasped his hands together and stared at his fingers. "Sam wouldn't like it."
Daniel finished his mouthful of meatloaf and swallowed. "Why not?"
"I don't know if you noticed, but...she's the jealous type." He paused, then continued. "It's not your relationship she's worried about...it's ours." At their confused looks, he explained. "We had discovered a peaceful agrarian culture on the planet Edora. The Stargate got hit by a meteor and, I thought, destroyed."
"...And you met Laira." Jack nodded. "Me too."
"Oh," O'Neill glanced back and forth between Jack and Daniel, finally settling his gaze on the younger man. "You didn't mind?"
Daniel raised an eyebrow. "I was worried sick, it took us almost three and a half months to finally get the Stargate working again. We thought he was dead."
"If you thought he was dead, why did you keep trying?"
"No one gets left behind." He answered simply. Daniel smiled at Jack, Jack smiled back.
"It took Sam six months. By the time she got through, well, Kawaski did; Laira was four months pregnant and showing." He shook his head sadly. "I made a terrible mistake, and I've been paying for it ever since." O'Neill looked at Jack. "You?"
"No pregnancy, though she did want a child." Jack answered honestly. "If she had been, I would have stayed with her...I think; though I would have been miserable."
"I know I would have been. I love Sam, but I doubt if she'll ever really believe that now." O'Neill looked at Daniel curiously.
He met the other man's eyes. "Sha'uri had just died. I was so lost, then Jack was missing...I didn't know what to do. Our Sam worked day and night to get back to Edora. I just tried to help. He was my best friend and we did whatever we could think of to get him back."
"So, that's when you became....together?"
"No, it's taken us another, what, two years?" Jack looked at O'Neill. "Why?"
"Did you have feelings for your Sam Carter?"
"Sure, we both do...Daniel loves her like a sister and I, well, I'm very fond of her. She's a good officer, a pretty woman and is smart as a...a, well, she's really really smart. A lot smarter than I am." Jack declared emphatically. Then he glanced lovingly at Daniel. "But, then, so's he."
"Well, if you're finished, and you think it's important, let's go see if we can find this guy." O'Neill got up and an airman appeared to take their trays.
"If he's even alive here." Daniel commented quietly.
"Why wouldn't he be?" Jack asked him.
The younger man just shrugged. "Why should he be? We don't know anything about what's happened to him." Daniel looked up at the two men looking down at him. "I mean, things are different here. He may be in Chicago, he may be in Egypt at a dig, he may be a teacher, or he may be dead."
O'Neill bent down over the table and said in a low voice. "Well, then, let's go and find out."
The three men headed for General O'Neill's office. On the way there, they stopped by the fabrication shop where Siler and crew were feverishly working on a large metal circle. The Iris vanes were already completed and another crew was finishing the retraction mechanism. Daniel stepped over and had a word with the NCO, then rejoined the two O'Neills.
"They're using titanium."
"Well, that's what we used at first, before the large deposit of trinium was found on P3X-513."
"Yes, Siler had never heard of trinium, so I guess we don't have it."
"Evidently." Daniel nodded.
O'Neill perked up his ears, "Should we try to get some?"
Jack glanced at Daniel. "Yeah, if you can. It's harder than titanium ever thought about being. Do you know those co-ordinates, Danny?"
The younger man frowned. "Let me think. I may remember them in a bit." He shook his head; "I just have to settle everything."
Jack nodded, smiling at the younger man's expression of concentraiton. "One thing at a time, Daniel, take it easy."
Daniel was chewing on his lip as they walked along the hallways. "I just want to do everything...I don't want us to run out of time."
They had reached the office; O'Neill led the way in. After he had closed the door, the General crossed over to his workstation and turned his computer on.
Jack turned to Daniel and murmured softly so only he could hear. "I don't either...but we can't rush either or we could make a costly mistake." Daniel only nodded; Jack reached up and cupped his lover's face in his hands, stroking the high cheekbones with his thumbs.
"Okay," O'Neill called to them. He indicated that Daniel should take the chair in front of the machine. Jack had pulled up two chairs and they sat down on either side of Daniel. "Sam's gonna kill me for letting him get into our computer, but I've never been confident with this thing."
Jack laughed, "I know what you mean."
"I don't want anything from your files, General. I want the open Internet. I need to track him, uh, me, and find out what he's doing and where he is." Daniel assured the senior officer.
After several minutes, he nodded and sat back in the chair. "Here, I found him...me...them. He is alive and not too far from here."
"Really? What's he doing?" Jack scooted his chair up closer and peered over his partner's shoulder.
"Well, he's employed by the Oriental Institute of Chicago as a research consultant and the University of Chicago as a tenured professor but he's on sabbatical to work on a dig with Nick Ballard in the Four Corners area." He typed another command. "They're excavating an Anasazi Village, and they've got an unusual find. It seems they've found some wall pictographs that resemble Egyptian hieroglyphs."
"Gee, imagine that." Jack chuckled.
Daniel glanced at him and smiled. "Yes, amazing isn't it." He keyed in some more instructions. "It seems he's been smart enough not to put his theories out for public scrutiny yet though. His two assistants are talking about amazing finds and Professor Jordan is reportedly pleased with the results."
"His assistants?" Jack asked curiously.
"Robert Rothman and Steven Rayner."
"Oh, that's rich, isn't it?" Jack commented wryly.
"Yes, he's down there with Nick and...his wife."
"Really?" Jack leaned forward looking in earnest. "Who's he married to...Sarah?"
"Nooooo....actually not." Daniel got a look of concentration changed to one of surprise. "It's uh..."
"For crying out loud, Daniel. Read it or move...whom is he married to?"Daniel turned to look at Jack who turned to face Danny. They were inches apart and just as Jack was about to give in to a whim to kiss his lover, Daniel spoke. "Janet Jackson."
Jack pulled back in confusion. "The singer?"
Daniel smiled at his expression. "No, Jack. The physician. Janet Fraiser-Jackson and she's working at the reservation as a doctor."
Professor Daniel Jackson stood up and dusted off his hands. He then put them on his hips and leaned back to stretch his cramped muscles. He pulled the bandana off his sun bleached shoulder length hair and used the already sweat soaked material to wipe his hands. As he bent over to pick up the shirt that he had taken off several hours ago, his slightly reddened skin tingled indicating he'd gotten too much sun again. Janet would be pissed at him. He smiled at the thought of his Doctor wife and the fussing she would give him. Unfortunately for her, the whole effect she was striving for would be negated by the nice, slow rubdown she'd give him after with her Aloe Vera concoction. Fortunately for him, he'd get all the benefits that went with the aforementioned massage, along with the lecture.
He stopped at a neighboring trench. Nick Ballard, professional archaeologist and amateur grandfather, was down on his 80 some-year-old knees delicately brushing sand off a large embedded pottery piece. "Nick, mochten sie mal wasser? (Do you want some water?)
"Nein, Junge. Mir genht es gut. Danke." (No, boy. I am good.) The old man looked up at him from the ditch. "I may have found something exciting. Will you come back?"
"Nein, Grossvater." (No, Grandfather.) He smiled. "No, I don't think so, until this evening. I'm going to the house now to help Janet. Don't be too long here in the heat."
"Jah, jah. I will be careful." Ballard waived at his grandson. "I just want to get this piece out today. Then I will come in."
"Okay, but if you're not in by lunch, Janet will send me looking for you."
The elderly man waived the young man on. As Daniel turned to go, Nick looked up at him again. "Daniel, I am glad you came. You are a good boy."
"I am glad too, Nick. It's good to spend time together." He slung his shirt over his shoulder and started down the footpath towards the small village with its tin buildings and trailer houses.
Janet would be at the clinic. When he'd agreed to help Nick with his dig, his wife had arranged to take a leave of absence from the hospital she worked at in Chicago. She had been welcomed with open arms here at the Navajo Reservation by the Government officials, the overworked medical staff and the Native Council. So their time together here had been both enjoyable and beneficial.
When Nick Ballard, his estranged Grandfather, had contacted him to help with his archaeological dig; Daniel had been a little suspicious. The old man had not had anything to do with him during his formative growing up years after his parent's death and he'd been raised in foster homes. But when he went to college, Nick had contacted him. He'd spent the last several years in an asylum in the northwest and he wanted to renew their acquaintance. Then, Nick had come down here to do some work in his field of prehistoric North and Meso-American Indians.
Daniel had completed his Doctorate in Ancient Egyptian studies, and taken a teaching job at the University of Chicago. There he could also continue to work with his old mentor, Doctor Jordan, as a staff member of the prestigious Oriental Institute.
Then, fate had struck again in the form of a serious car accident. A limousine had t-boned his Land rover, badly injuring him and put him in the intensive care unit at the Chicago General Hospital. During his stay there, he'd met Janet Fraiser, an Emergency Room Doctor. The two had clicked somehow, almost as if they had known each other for years. In spite of the difference in their ages, the odd pairing of the sensitive, emotionally withdrawn academic and the cynical, physically expressive physician had worked like gangbusters. After Daniel had been released from the hospital, they had continued to see each other romantically.
Daniel's old girlfriend, Sarah, who was neither sensitive nor expressive, had accused him of looking for his mother in the older woman. Janet had responded by saying that it was illegal for him to do the things that they did with his mother. Then she'd given explicit instructions to Sarah about what activities she should go off and engage in all by her lonesome.
Two weeks later they had been married.
And now, several years later, here they were out in the wilds of the American West. Nick had called and asked him to come help him on a difficult dig. Janet had urged him to go, saying she could easily get work in the area and Daniel needed to know his Grandfather better and bury the old hurts. He and his Grandfather were working closely together now and Janet was practicing medicine in the little village's primitive infirmary. They'd never enjoyed themselves or each other so much. For the first time in his adult life, Daniel was happy, secure and totally content.
Daniel arrived at the small cluster of mobile homes that served as the village clinic and their home. He dusted himself off and hung his shirt on the mesquite tree outside the door of Janet's office trailer, then rapped a tattoo on the metal door. At her call, he opened the door and let himself in.
The Air Conditioner was going strong and he headed to the water cooler. He helped himself to a paper cup and filled it from the plastic spigot. He continued on over to the disreputable looking vinyl couch that was the main piece of furniture in the waiting room He could hear Janet's voice in the other room, talking softly to someone and then the feminine reply. After a few minutes, a young woman and her child exited the inner office. The little one was rubbing her arm, with a seriously insulted look on her face. They were followed closely by Janet who was wiping her hands on a white piece of toweling.
Daniel greeted mother and child with in the Navajo language. The woman smiled at him warmly and returned his greeting. He dug into his jeans pocket and found a cellophane wrapped peppermint candy. He then unwrapped it carefully before the bright eyes of the little girl. With Mom's nod of permission he carefully extended the bit of minty sugar, depositing it solemnly in the little open mouth. He was rewarded with childish giggle and a gap toothed grin.
After the mother and child were gone, he grabbed his wife around the waist and gave her a hard hug. "Hi honey, I'm home." He said to her warmly, smiling down at her.
"So I see." She commented looking up into her husband's wonderful blue eyes, and then glanced at his shoulders. "Daniel...." She murmured in annoyance and pity. "When will you ever learn not to run around in the sun like that? You're all burned."
He smiled and shrugged. "So fix me, dearest doctor."
"No time now, Sweetie." She pointed out the window, "Here come the kids." A dilapidated yellow school bus pulled up in front of the clinic. There were over fifteen children on it from the local Reservation School. They were here to get their inoculations for the school year and Daniel had agreed to help her with the shots. The couple smiled at each other and started setting the required equipment for their task at hand.
It was an easy job for the couple but it took both of them hands. These children of the Reservation often lived far out from the village and unless a concerted effort was made, many of them could not make it into the larger town where the school was located. So the Jacksons had volunteered to help out the school's medical system by running a special inoculation program for the students that lived in their area.
Janet's offer, her being a board-certified physician, was gratefully accepted. She would go to the Reservation's government supported hospital and sign for the serums, and test equipment, then bring it back to her small infirmary. Several of the school's bus drivers would give a day of their time, use one of the older school busses and drive a different route everyday for a week.
During that week, at noon, her little clinic would be open for any vaccinations, testing or examinations that were required. Since she had no nursing staff, Daniel would volunteer to assist her with the kids. He would hold them in his arms or on his lap, teasing, flirting, and cajoling them so Janet could do the dirty work of the measles, mumps, rubella shot, tetanus shot, hepatitis shot, and whatever else they needed. If the child didn't cry, he'd give them a reward of a sugar cube (that some of them were spiked with polio vaccine for the kids that needed it was not an issue to them at all). He'd also take a quick peek at the TB tine test on their arms if they had been given one earlier. If the test was positive, the child went to Janet for further treatment. If the little arm was clear he's pat them on the head and they'd run outside telling everyone of their Dok'tor Danny and his pretty wife, Dok'tor Jenny.
When the week was up, they would go into the town, turn in any extra serum, the test results and borrowed equipment. Afterwards they would reward themselves by taking a brief vacation in the large town, going to the movies, eating in a restaurant and doing some shopping.
That evening, after a long afternoon of working with the kids, the couple was finally able to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Their little family was outside enjoying the cool evening breeze in what they euphemistically referred to as their compound. It was made up of a loose rectangular comprised of three mobile homes (Janet's office, the couples home, Nick's home) and an east facing Hogan squaring off the yard area. This was used by the occasional healer that came by to help them or a patient that might want to stay in it overnight.
They were sitting together in the shade of their mobile home in an antique lawn glider that Nick had gotten from somewhere. Grandpa Nick was grilling hamburgers for their evening meal. Janet was smoothing a cooling cream over her husband's sunburned shoulders. He was sitting there half asleep, not complaining at all about his medical treatment and the on going lecture.
Then, through the window, the nagging whine of the phone ringing called Janet from his side. Daniel grumbled good-naturedly as she handed him the pot of medicinal salve.
"Doctor Jackson," she spoke into the mouthpiece. "Oh, the Professor Jackson, hold on a moment." She pressed the receiver against her chest as she turned around. "Daniel, it's for you."
"Tell them to go away." He had keeled over on the cushions of the glider and was lying there on his side with his eyes closed. "No, tell them that I died. I'm not coming back to Chicago."
"It's not the institute; it's some General person."
"I only talk to specialists...tell them to go away, and come back here."
"Daniel Alexander Jackson! Get your sweet ass over here!"
He opened an eye and looked at Nick who was chuckling to himself. "I guess she means it."
"Jah. Sie sollten lieber gehen." (Yes, You had better go.) Nick laughed at the interplay between the two lovers.
"Jah, jah, jah. Frau, sei still!" (Yes, yes, yes, wife be quiet.). He commented as he got up to get to the phone.
"Tais-toi, toi-meme, mon mari," (Shut up yourself, husband) She returned in French, "Brillant.", Then muttered in English. "Smart guy."
When he got to where Janet was standing, Daniel took the phone from her hand and kissed the top of her head. She swatted him on the butt and went over to help Nick with the steaks that he was grilling.
"Hello, Daniel Jackson. Who is this?" He grimaced and rubbed the smarting part of his anatomy.
"Professor Daniel Jackson, my name is Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. I'm calling you from Colorado Springs. I'd like to make you a job offer." The voice sounded tinny on the long distance line, but he could make out a midwestern accent. The man was apparently quite proud of his rank.
"Well, actually, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill, I already have a job and I'm not interested in moving right now." He glanced over at his family...Janet and Nick were quite obviously listening in.
"I'd be willing to make you a very generous offer, Professor. It would be a Civil Service position and of a fairly high pay grade."
"I'm really not interested, General. I have a dig to complete and I still do hold my position at the Oriental Institute in Chicago. You may have heard of it."
"I am well aware of your position there, Professor. That's what authorized me to make you this generous offer."
Daniel could hear a conversation going on in the background between several voices. Finally, the General came back to the phone. "Professor Jackson, here's an offer I hope you will consider. Let me invite you to our base in the Springs. Bring your wife; let her see the sights and we can talk. Take a few days, enjoy yourself. What do you say?"
"Can you call me back in an hour? I should have an answer for you then."
Another voice that sounded eerily familiar came on the phone. "Professor Jackson, this is a colleague of yours. How would you like to see the proof of your theories on inter-cultural fertilization proven to you without a shadow of a doubt?"
"Who is this?" Jackson demanded. "How do you know about those theories? I haven't spoken to anyone or published any of that in ten years. What's your name?"
"Well, lets just say we have mutual friends and leave it at that." The voice paused, "What do you say now?"
"The same as before, call me in one hour. I need to discuss this with my wife."
O'Neill's voice came back on the phone. "Well?"
"One hour." He repeated firmly.
"One hour it is then." General O'Neill replied affably.
"Thank you, General. I'll be right here." Daniel hung up the phone, "Janet, how would you like a vacation in Colorado?"
"Do you think he'll come?" O'Neill was pacing the floor in his office.
"Well, if that Daniel is anything like this Daniel," Jack commented from his place on the General's comfortable couch. "He'll be here tomorrow."
"I hope so, because we are beginning to push the time limit here, Jack." Daniel was still perched on the edge of the workstation, rubbing his thumb against his forefinger nervously.
Jack nodded. "Believe me, you don't have to remind me about that. I don't want to have to go through the Cascade thingy again. It hurts like hell."
There was a knock on the door and Sam Carter-O'Neill came in. "You've been on the computer haven't you?" She accused the three men.
"Yes, and, so, well?" General O'Neill answered in true Jack fashion. "It's my office and my Internet. What's the problem?"
"Jack, he could have...."
"Yeah, he could have, but he didn't. All he did was find our version of him. Then we called him to invite him...and his wife...up here so I could make him a job offer."
"Yeah, his wife. A Doctor doctor, Doctor. Is that all right with you?"
Sam looked at Daniel in surprise. "He's married?"
"Yes, and if she's anything like her counterpart in our universe, he's a very lucky guy. Just like the General here is." Daniel looked over at the couch, and met his Jack's look.
Jack nodded. "In our world, Janet is an Air Force Major and a top-notch physician who works along side us in our war against the Gould. She's saved both of our lives on several occasions."
"If these two women are so great in your universe, why aren't you married to them instead of..." she let the comment fall off.
"Well, my Carter is my second-in-command. As such, it's considered fraternization and illegal." He gestured to Daniel. "Danny was married when he met Janet and was still searching for his wife."
The General looked at Daniel curiously. "What was it that you were saying to him about a theory? Should that mean something to me?"
The younger man shook his head. "No, here it probably wouldn't. I published a thesis questioning the classic theory that the pyramids weren't built by the Egyptians. Then I had the audacity to compare them to the pyramids of other cultures. This caused a bit of a furor, and ultimately I was ridiculed and laughed out of my field of academia. This Daniel Jackson was obviously smarter than I was. He didn't publish his findings, so when Catherine Langford approached him, he could afford to say no and he obviously did." He shook his head, trying to ignore the sensation of dizziness he'd gotten when he was on the phone with his counterpart. "You know, I really hate to have to do this to them. They seem so happy there."
"Yeah, but these guys need him, Danny." Jack frowned. "He has to be a part of the program to get the Stargate to work properly and for them to be able to face the Gould with half a chance of success."
"O'Neills in other universes have faced them without a Daniel Jackson before." Daniel blinked his eyes and took a deep breath.
"Yeahchuryabettcha, and they died a glorious, heroic death...which, by the way, is not all that it's cracked up to be."
Daniel then put a hand to his forehead. Jack, aware that this was Daniel-speak for a migraine headache, stood up and started to cross over to him. As he took his first step, something began to happen to his Daniel.
The younger man had brought both his hands up to his face, as if to rub tired eyes, then it happened. At first it appeared as if he were trembling, the trembling became a vibration, the vibration a shaking, the shaking a shudder. He moaned down deep and as he literally began to fluctuate before their eyes, Daniel fell to his knees on the floor.
Jack stopped short, trying vainly to remember if he could touch his partner...or if it would throw them both into an attack. Then as quickly as the episode had started, it stopped, and Daniel toppled to the ground and lay there unmoving.
Jack and O'Neill were both at his side in an instant. Jack gently and carefully rolled Daniel over onto his back. He was still breathing, but the convulsion had dropped him like a rock. Sam was on the phone to the clinic, demanding a med team.
"Danny, can you hear me?" At the younger man's small nod, Jack was able to relax for a second. "Do you know what happened?" Another nod. Jack looked up at O'Neill, "Okay, we are now officially out of time. We have got to leave...now."
"Leave? Why? How?" Sam came to stand over the two men. "What's wrong with him?"
The Colonel marshaled his thoughts into their rank order to try to explain as clearly as he could. "Evidently, when two identical people from different realities are brought together it causes a physical reaction to occur. Our Carter called it Entropic Cascade Failure. We first realized it when her counterpart came through into our universe. She and her Kawalski were asking for assistance to fight the Gould in theirs. She was with us about thirty-six hours when it first occurred in her. When this mess started with us not able to get home, we didn't have any problems in the first place we went because we didn't stay more than twenty-four hours. The second one..."
Samantha stared at him in amazement "How many universes have you been too?"
"Originally, Daniel accidentally went to one alone through a device that we found on a planet we call P3R-233. Then later, a Sam Carter came to us from her own alternate universe. This time, because of a malfunction in the Stargate, we've been in four others, including yours here."
"Six different realities? That's amazing."
"Well, seven if you count our original one; the one we want to get back to." Jack agreed, looking down worriedly at his partner.
"And in each one, the relationships are different?" O'Neill asked, looking from the two men to his wife.
"Oh, yeah. Totally different. Each one is special in it's own way."
Daniel stirred and tried to sit up. Jack immediately grasped his arms and helped him to a sitting position, then pulled him to his chest. Exhausted by the seizure, the younger man lay there quietly, taking comfort in his lover's strong arms.
"In any of these other uh, places, were Jack and I married?" Samantha O'Neill asked quietly, watching them interact.
"Sure," Jack looked down at Daniel. "In the first one he went to, they were married. And they died together, defending Cheyenne Mountain against invasion by the Goulds." Daniel looked up at him and nodded weakly. Jack absentmindedly stroked his face with one hand. "The one she came to us from, they were married but she'd been widowed already. Neither of them had a Daniel Jackson in their Stargate Command. The one we were at Abydos on, Daniel and I were both married to native women and had kids. I don't think they, you and me, had ever even met. The next two, you were his second in one and a Gould host yourself in the last." Jack paused. "The one continuing thread in all of them was that Daniel was alive in the ones we won and dead in the ones we lost. It's like he's the linchpin that holds everything together. Without him, we lose. That's why you have to convince your Daniel Jackson to be a part of your program."
General O'Neill nodded. Samantha was not convinced yet. "And in how many of those were you two gay?"
Jack frowned at her question. "The last two...I guess. What the hell difference does it make?"
O'Neill shook his head at her question. "Sam, it doesn't matter what the two of them do or any of the others have done. I love you. You don't have to feel this way."
"He's right, you know." Daniel spoke softly from where he lay against Jack's chest. "If my wife hadn't died, if Charlie hadn't died and his wife divorced him, neither of us would have taken this last step. Each team is different. You can't compare...."
Jack shifted his grip. "Shsssh, don't talk Danny. Rest for a whole minute, willya?"
There was a knock on the door and at O'Neill's call, Doctor Warner and his med team scurried in to check on the young man's condition and start asking questions.
Several hours later, after Warner and his team had managed to poke, prod and piss off Daniel, the Doctor released him from the clinic. There had been some minor metabolic concerns but nothing that Warner could do to or for him that would help. The disgruntled patient was met by his Jack O'Neill and their omnipresent SF guard. They were escorted back to their new quarters and secured for the night.
As a peace offering, there was a laptop with several CDs stacked beside it and a note from the General. It apologized for the security guard and the standalone computer but the discs held all the information that Sam could find on Professor Daniel Jackson, the research she had done on their Stargate and a brief biography on both of the O'Neills.
Daniel started to go to the machine, but he was firmly steered away from it by Jack. "No, Danny, Warner said you had to rest...so rest."
"Jack, resting wont help me, resting will only waste time that we don't have. I have to see the dialing program for this Stargate to find out what we will need to get home." He complained as his partner sat him down on the bed. "I've been in bed and wasted hours in the infirmary already. I need to know...."
"At least wait until after dinner, it should be here in a little bit. Then, I'll help you look." The older man sat down next to his impatient patient. "Danny, please take it easy for me, okay? You died on me last universe." He put his arm around his shoulders and rubbed up and down on the far arm. "You're pushing yourself again and it's too soon. I know, I've been there, remember?"
"Yes, I do remember...and I don't want you to get to this point too." He shuddered at the memory. "I just wonder why it was me this time. There's got to be a reason for which one of us..."
"I know, I know, love." The arm rubbing turned into a full-fledged hug. "But maybe because you did die, you're weaker now, and the General was off world when we got here. Maybe distance helps."
"Then it's certain to hit you again soon." By now, Daniel was leaning limply against his Jack, rubbing his cheek against the warm black t-shirt. "God, I just want to go home."
Jack nodded, pressing a kiss into the soft hair. "Me too, Danny, me too."
They heard the key rattle in the door and then a knock. General O'Neill walked into the room carrying a tray of food. A SF followed closely with a second serving of their meal. After both trays were placed on the table, General O'Neill sat down in one of the chrome and plastic table chairs. He at them curiously as they sat on the bed; Daniel resting in Jack's arms.
Jack stared back impassively at his counterpart's gaze. "What?"
"So Sam's right. You two guys are gay."
"Actually, I'm in a rather foul mood right now. What's it to ya?" Jack growled at him. Daniel tried to sit up, embarrassed at the other man's comment, but Jack looked down at him and held him close to his heart.
"Nothing, I guess I just didn't expect it. It's one thing to be told, just different to witness it."
"Oh, get off your high horse, O'Neill." Jack complained back to the other man. "I'm you, remember? I know all your little secrets."
"Oh, like what?" The General asked gruffly, but managed to blush anyway.
"The things you had to do in Iraq. Things you could never tell Sara about."
O'Neill shook his head. "I did those things so that I could come back to Sara, not because I wanted to."
"Most of it, yes. Neither, you nor I could stop what the guards did to me, you, oh hell, us." Jack nodded, "You're right, but the knowledge is here." He flicked a finger at his own head, "and there" he nodded at O'Neill.
O'Neill could only nod in acquiesence to Jack's statement but he changed the subject. "Well, I guess I'll go meet Sam for dinner. I won't deny your presence here is putting a strain on our relationship."
"Ya know, Jack,". The Colonel watched him as he got to his feet to leave. "I'm really not sure that I could be married to my Carter. We'd probably eat each other alive."
The General nodded, "It's had its moments, good and bad. But all relationships do." He shrugged. "You know that. And I imagine its true even with him."
'Him' finally pulled out of Jack's grasp and sat up. "Actually, we've only been...well, two or three days." Daniel looked at his lover's face, and squeezed his hand that was still holding his. "But it just feels...right."
Jack looked from the General to Daniel, sitting next to him on the bed. "I believe it was just a matter of time before it happened. We've known each other for almost seven years now. The connection has been there from the beginning, and the first time he died, well, I don't think I would have lasted long after I got home."
"Wait a minute..." O'Neill looked at the pair in surprise. "The first time he died?"
"No, now that I think about it, it was the second time...on Klorel's ship."
Daniel nodded, "The first time you still thought I was a geek."
Jack chuckled, "The second time, I knew you were a geek, but you were my geek and my best friend." He grew serious, "it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I shouldn't have left you."
"You had no choice." The blue eyes penetrated his, Jack could only nod. "You had to save the world."
O'Neill rose from his chair headed for the door, he knew that he was definitely overstaying his welcome now. "Okay, guys, see you in the morning." As he glanced back at them, Jack and Daniel were still sitting on the bed together. As he left, turning to lock the door behind himself, he saw Jack cup his hands around his Daniel's face gently and draw the other man to him with a passion that he hadn't felt in a very long time. He quietly closed and locked the door behind him.
The next morning, Colonel Kawalski was waiting at gate number ten at the Colorado Springs Airport. As the flight from Santa Fe New Mexico unloaded its passengers, he craned his neck to see the people as they off loaded.
Finally, he saw Professor and Doctor Jackson. He recognized the Archaeologist as the double of the man they were holding at the SGC, and knew the woman from their description as his wife. As the couple cleared the security area, Kawalski stepped forward to introduce himself.
"Professor and Doctor Jackson?" He offered his hand to the youngish looking man and examined him quickly now that he was close up. This man was the same height as their younger guest, but more slender in build. Dressed in comfortable casual, he was wearing jeans and a long sleeved blue checked shirt. His complexion was more wind and sun burned than his counterparts; his hair longer, loose around his shoulders and with a definite sun bleached blond effect. The lady physician was a petite brown haired beauty in slacks and a green sweater with a loving look for her man and a suspicious, protective aura about her. She was a nice golden tan and pleasantly filled out in all the right locations.
The couple looked him over also. Charlie wondered if he'd spilled coffee on his tie. "I'm Colonel Charles Kawalski and I'm here to pick you up and get you to the base."
"I was under the impression that I wouldn't be expected there until tomorrow." Jackson stated softly but firmly. It immediately shifted the man up a notch in his estimation.
"Yes, Sir. I'm sorry, but the time window has closed considerably since you were contacted." The Colonel acknowledged. "And further research indicates that both you and your wife will be offered a position, if she is interested of course."
"Really?" Jackson looked down at his wife. She elbowed him in the side with an impish expression.
"Yes, Sir. You both come highly recommended." They started for the door, the driver having already collected their luggage and signaled the officer. "Yes, Sir and this is Master Sergeant Dave Siler. He's one of our technicians and you would be working closely with him." Siler nodded with a smile. "He's also a wicked driver."As the Jackson's and their escorts got into the dark blue Air Force van, Kawalski turned to Janet Jackson. "When we did your security clearance, we were pleased to discover that you were in the Air Force Reserve, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel looked at his wife in surprise. "You were in the Air Force?"
She nodded, "I told you, that's how I could afford my medical training. It was just for a couple of years to pay for my education." He made an 'ah' noise and looked at Kawalski.
She nodded. "Your General O'Neill said we came with good recommendations. Do you know who recommended us?"
"Yes, ma'am, I do." He smiled mysteriously. "And you'll be meeting them in just a short time."
Daniel Jackson leaned forward, a thoughtful look on his face. "It isn't Catherine Langford is it?"
"No, Professor Jackson; Doctor Langford left the program over five years ago." Kawalski turned around to look at their two passengers while Siler navigated the vehicle traffic out of the Airport. "She's still in the area though, if you want to speak to her."
"So, this is the program she was talking to me about?" He mused.
"Yes, yes it is."
"What program was that, Danny?" Janet looked at her husband curiously.
"It was a long time ago." Her husband thought back. "I had published a series of articles based on intercultural fertilization between the continents and raised the question of who actually built the pyramids." He smiled to himself. "Professor Jordan convinced me to, uh, cool it. He said that Eric Von Daniken had already been there and done that. Said it would ruin my career. Nick even showed up back then to dissuade me from publishing." Jackson shrugged. "Then that jerk ran the red light, totaled my Land Rover and I wound up hospitalized at Chicago General. I met you, gave in to tru wuv, and cancelled the seminar I had scheduled. Turned out the smartest thing I'd ever done. The rest is history." He leaned over and kissed his wife on the cheek, causing Janet to blush and swat him on the knee.
"And this Langford lady?" Janet pressed, in spite of her color.
"She called me at home one evening and wanted to hire me for translation work, but I was newly married and wouldn't leave my Janet behind." He slipped an arm behind her and hugged her gently. "For once I had more important things to do with my life...I wanted to live it."
Two hours later, the Jackson's were sitting in a military briefing room in the seeming bowels of some mountain outside of Colorado Springs. They had blank legal pads, pens, pencils and Styrofoam cups of bad coffee in front of them on the long highly polished fake wood table. Danny was sitting there, fidgeting with the writing instruments. He was so tense he hadn't even complained about the coffee.
Janet watched his nervousness for a while, then reached over and patted his arm. She doubted her husband had ever been surrounded by so much military in his entire life. "Relax, honey." She said in a low voice.
"I just don't know why we're here." He grasped her hand in his two.
"For a job interview, remember." She teased him gently. "It's just a translation job for you; and if you decide to stay, maybe a position for me. That's all. Don't worry so much."
After a few more minutes of waiting, Kawalski joined them in the room. With him came a tall, slender, lady Lieutenant Colonel, an even taller man with silver hair, wearing a Colonels rank and finally, a man who could have been her husband's twin brother.
This man had short brown hair, built a little heavier and was wearing a BDU uniform with the name Jackson on the name tape and no rank insignia displayed. Other than those differences, a look would convince anyone they were identical right from the blue eyes behind wire framed glasses, to the full lipped, mobile mouth and the long slender delicate hands and fingers.
The silver haired Colonel glanced between the two men with an amused expression on his handsome face.
Kawalski started the discussion. "Ladies and Gentlemen, General O'Neill and General Hammond will be joining us in just a moment. If you will allow me...." The other Colonel nodded. Kawalski started around the table. "This is Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter-O'Neill, Colonel Jack O'Neill, and Doctor Daniel Jackson." He paused to grin as if he were telling a huge joke to the crowd, then he continued. "Doctor Janet Fraiser-Jackson, and Professor Daniel Jackson."
The little group sat in confused silence, then the Daniel Jackson sitting by his wife finally spoke. "Is this some kind of bad joke?"
The Daniel Jackson sitting by the Colonel nodded. "In a cosmic sort of way, I suppose so." He smiled encouragingly at them. Don't worry, it'll make sense in a little while."
Janet looked at him curiously. "Are you sure?"
Colonel O'Neill shrugged. "No, not really. In fact, it'll probably get worse."
Once again the door opened and two officers came in. A stocky built bald man with three stars on each shoulder and another identical twin, only this time it was to the silver haired Colonel. And this one was wearing the one star insignia of a Brigadier General.
As the two General Officers entered the room, the others wearing military uniforms rose from the table. The older man waved them back down. "We don't have much time people, so we can forgo the pleasantries." After they all resumed their seats, the older man started. "I'm Lieutenant General George Hammond. I'd like to thank you all for coming. I'm sure Colonel Kawalski did the initial introductions. Now, we'll get to the explanations of some rather startling facts." General Hammond and the second tall man sat down. He looked to the other man who nodded then started to speak
"Good morning. My name is General Jack O'Neill, and we have a problem.
The briefing was over; the simple questions were answered. Now came the hard part.
"The first thing I'm interested in," Colonel O'Neill stated calmly. "Is that we get back to where we belong."
"Why? I don't understand, didn't you plan on coming here?" Professor Jackson asked. He had been looking at his double curiously during the briefing. "I mean there was obviously some effort made."
The shorthaired Daniel shook his head, "No, not on our part. Actually, we were trying to gate to a planet to rendezvous with our two teammates. Somehow, we were shifted to another alternate universe. We've been trying to get home for several days now. We've thought that we'd managed to correct the problem each time, but we're still getting bounced into different realities."
"Well, why don't you stay here and help them get started? Why do you need us?"
The General shook his head. "There's a problem; they evidently have a time constraint. This Doctor Jackson has already had one episode of what they call Entropic Cascade Failure. They need to leave and soon." He looked at the other O'Neill. "I'm assuming that you will be affected also."
Colonel O'Neill nodded. "Yes, sooner or later, I will. We don't know why he's affected and I haven't been hit with it here yet. Maybe it was because you were off world when we arrived. I was affected the last time, but in that uh, reality, their Daniel was gone into an altered state. Then the last one we were in, we actually switched universes with our doubles so we weren't exposed for any period of time." He looked over at his too quiet Daniel. "You know, it's almost like something is keeping us from our own SGC."
"You mean someone's doing this to us on purpose?" The short haired Daniel finally spoke in a soft voice. "Like some alien intelligence is keeping us from our Earth?"
Jack looked at his partner. "I don't know how else to explain it, Daniel. We've had two Carters, a Daniel, a Siler, and a Jonas work on the damned gate. If they couldn't fix it, then I'm not sure it can be fixed."
Jackson didn't answer, but put his head in his hands. Jack reached over and lay his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Danny?"
"Sorry, I'm just tired." He raised his head, to look at his Jack. "I think that we need to get to work. If there is a method to this madness, I want to fix whatever it is and get home."
"You and me both, buddy."
The other Daniel had watched them during their exchange. "Why do you think you were brought here then?"
Then, throughout the complex, the reverberation of the Stargate engaging it's chevrons began to sound. The two Jack O'Neill's looked at each other, then at Samantha Carter-O'Neill. She shook her head. "We don't have any teams off world. We've recalled everyone after the attack on the Beta site."
General Jack asked his wife, "Is the Iris thingy in place yet?"
"No, it's not finished!"
Jack and Daniel glanced at each other uneasily, then the Colonel asked the General. "Do you have a Nuke handy?"
"A Nuke? You mean as in nuclear bomb?" Samantha O'Neill asked in amazement.
"Yes, a nuclear bomb." The Colonel agreed calmly. "We sent a Mark 3 through to Ra's ship. But I think a 5 would be better."
Daniel looked at him in concern. "Wouldn't it make a difference as to how close it was to Earth, Jack?"
"Well, yes, it would. We can't wait very long though, and we need to find out where Ra, and his ship, actually are. How did the bomb affect Abydos after we left?"
"Some irregular weather patterns, and there was probably an increase in the normal radiation. Nobody died that I was aware of...but Abydos is primarily sand...not nearly like Earth with so much plant and animal life that could be adversely affected"
Doctor Jackson stared at them both. "You're not thinking of detonating a nuclear bomb over earth are you?"
Jack looked at him directly, "That wouldn't be my first choice, no."
"It could lead to long term effects on the population though;" Samantha put in. "wouldn't it?" She glanced over at the woman physician. Janet nodded.
Then Daniel spoke up. "You have to destroy Ra, or believe me, what comes next will be worse...much worse."
The General had been watching the verbal byplay intently. "Okay, say I go along with you on this bomb thing; so what do you propose?"
Jack, glanced at Daniel, then looked at his double. "First, we need to find Ra's ship, determine where it is. Second, decide if the bomb idea is a good one, and if so find a delivery system that will work. Third, determine a plan and carry it out. And fourth, get back here safely and alive." He looked back at his Daniel. "Then, get us home."
Daniel Jackson looked amazed, shocked and unhappy. "You mean you want to kill the first aliens we ever meet? Blow them up with a bomb?"
"Look, Professor Jackson...these maybe the first aliens...or the last aliens you're gonna meet. They're just the worst aliens you're ever gonna meet." The Colonel said grimly, glancing at his Daniel
At his counterpart's expression, Daniel shook his head. "Looking at your file last night, I presume that you've had the same experiences in foster homes that I did. Think of these aliens as the biggest bully in the schoolyard and he wants your lunch," he looked from Professor Jackson to his wife, "and your girlfriend, your books, and everything else you've ever valued. Then you find out, he's just moved to your block."
Jackson glared at him. "I don't know what's happened to you, to me, to make you feel this way...but I think we should give them a chance."
"A chance to do what? To kill you, to murder your friends and family, to steal your wife, to try to enslave your world." Daniel slammed his hands down on the table with a bang. "Because that's what happened to me to make me this way!" He looked at Jack. "No wonder you thought I was a naive idiot!"
As the briefing room stood in shocked silence at the heretofore quiet man's emotional out burst. The SGC's alarm klaxons started to howl. All three of the O'Neills and one Jackson leaped from the table and headed for the door. The newly arrived Jacksons, the Professor and Janet, remained at the table. Daniel stopped before he left the room and turned to look directly at his double. "Stay here for now." He said in a clear voice that brooked no argument. "Protect your wife, above all and anything else. Protect your wife!" He closed and locked the door as he left and followed the others.
As they got to the Gateroom, the chevrons started dialing. Doctor Warner was running down the stairway from the control room and he was carrying a nine-millimeter pistol waving it at the Security Forces that General O'Neill had posted there. The almost finished iris stood in its mount, waiting to be pressed into service. Master Sergeant Siler and his technicians were on the far side of the room evacuating out a side blast door.
General O'Neill stopped his group at the entrance. "Warner? Warner, what are you doing?"
At the sound of his voice, the doctor turned to look at the senior officer. His eyes glowed white. "I am going to my father's ship...so that I can tell him how weak you are, how unprepared. He will be able to return here and reign gloriously."
The General started towards his CMO, "Bill, come on. What are you talking about?"
Jack grabbed for his arm. "O'Neill, stop! He's been Goulded!"
The General jerked away from Jack, continuing to walk forward. "Bill...." His wife started to follow, but Jack grabbed her and prevented her from getting too close.
The man looked at him with derision. "You fool! You have no idea!" He raised the pistol and pointed it directly at the officer. "Nothing of the host survives."
Daniel was closer to the senior officer, Jack having stayed to hold Samantha back. Seeing the Gould aiming at the General, he dove for O'Neill, knocking him to the ground. The bullets from the automatic pistol ricocheted and spanged off the concrete wall behind them. As Jack pushed Samantha down and threw himself on top of her to protect her from the shots, the wormhole kawhoshed into existence, Warner turned and ran up the ramp to disappear into the optical pool.
When the wormhole closed, Jack pulled himself and Samantha up off the floor and looked around. "Everyone okay."
Daniel sat up rubbing his elbow from its collision with the concrete floor. "I got them."
"All of them?"
"All seven." He nodded.
The General struggled up; the breath knocked out of him by the younger man's unexpected tackle. "All of what?"
"All seven symbols." He looked at his Jack. "We can follow him to Ra."
They were back in the briefing room.
"Let me get this straight...you want to follow Doctor Warner through the Stargate?" Doctor Daniel Jackson was not sure he was getting the whole picture.
The Colonel answered him firmly. "Yes, we have to go...to locate his ship."
"So you can blow it up?" O'Neill wanted clarification.
Daniel nodded at his counterpart. "Yes, so we can blow it up."
"Can't you just seal the gate?" Jackson asked in frustration.
Jack looked at his Daniel then back at the other. "Yes, Professor Jackson, we can. But, that won't stop anything." He tried to remember when his Daniel had been this...infuriating. He took a deep breath. "Look Professor, they have ships. If we seal the gate, they would still come." He glanced at O'Neill. "Especially now that Warner has been Goulded, we're screwed for sure."
"But how do you know that. Maybe, he...it just wanted to escape."
"That's correct." Daniel said doggedly. "It wanted to escape...to Ra. Once he gets there, Ra will realize that Earth is a viable harvest world again."
Jack spoke up. "He'll add it to his list of my favorite top ten worlds to conquer. He needs it, the Gould need it."
"But what does he need Earth for?" Janet asked. "Doesn't he have other planets?"
Daniel tried again to explain. "Look, the Goa'ulds need enslaved planets for raw materials, for slaves to turn into warriors like the Jaffa down in the morgue, and as hosts for their young. Evidently, Ra was looking for hosts when he went to your Beta Site. If we were to return there, all you'd find is corpses. All your people who survived were taken to be one of the two types of slaves. Evidently, when you escaped back through the Stargate to here, you tipped him off that Earth was still a viable target. Now that he has Warner, a Goa'uld host, he'll know for sure."
The General looked at the pair of alternates. "How could this have happened, anyway?"
"I'd say your Doctor Warner didn't take our warnings seriously." Jack shook his head. "Just like you're not. I don't get it, why are you having so much trouble with this?" He looked at his Daniel. The younger man had taken his glasses off and was rubbing the bridge of his nose. Jack could tell his partner was hurting.
"Well," Samantha answered. "Considering all we know is what you've told us, I think we're being pretty reasonable." She glanced at her husband. "No one has even seen this Ra person, and you're telling us to go and blow up a ship because of a few foot soldiers that have come through the Stargate. Why should we believe you?"
Jack stood up in frustration. "Fine, don't believe us. Don't take precautions, don't do anything. Just help us go back to our own world." He looked at Daniel. "This is your world, your reality! We didn't ask to come here, and we sure as hell don't want to stay and see the end of this fiasco. All we want is to get back home to our own lives. It's not perfect but at least we know we're trying." He motioned to his partner to come to his side. "General, with your permission, we'll go pack, get some rest and then tomorrow we'll try again. We'll have to do a little tweaking on the power source of your Gate. Then you'll be rid of us."
General O'Neill nodded at the SF standing at the door and Jack stood to leave with their escort. "Daniel?" He reached down to help the younger man to his feet.
He cringed away from his hand. "NO, Jack, no don't...." He had started trembling. "Get back...don't touch..."
"Shit! Damn it, Danny!" He stood by helpless, unsure of what to do as the other man crumpled to the hard tiled floor, his limbs jerking in an attack of Entropic Cascade Failure.
Janet Jackson immediately came around to the convulsing man. She looked up. "Someone, I need a hanky, a thick piece of cardboard, something...Danny, quickly!"
Her husband pulled his tooled western belt off and tried to hand it to her. O'Neill took it and motioned him back. Janet looked at him in confusion, then returned her attention to her patient.
She managed to get the thick leather between the suffering man's teeth. Looking around for some help of some sort she saw the General. "Do you have a clinic here?" At his nod, she continued. "I need some Valium or Ativan and some Morphine. And some oxygen if you can get it here.
Spotting the ever-present SF who had accompanied them to the briefing room, the General shouted at him. "Hear her? GO! NOW! "
After a seemingly never-ending minute, Daniel finally relaxed onto the floor, though still breathing rapidly.
Jack quickly knelt down by his lover's side and touched his face. "Daniel, Danny?" He turned to the Doctor. "Is he okay?"
"I don't really know. How long has he had seizures? Does he have his medications with him?" She was trying to search his pockets for any pills he might have had.
Jack stopped her by laying a hand over hers. "He doesn't have seizures. That was what happens when we're in the wrong universe too long with our counterparts." She looked up at him in surprise and he nodded. "It's happened before...that's why we have to get home soon."
Daniel moaned softly, Jack moved his hand to grip his Daniel's. "Easy, Danny, I'm here. It's over, just relax a little while. Okay?" The blue eyes opened a crack, then the lids slid back down. Jack looked up at the General's concerned face. "I want to get him back to our room for now."
Janet nodded. "If there's nothing else I can do, that would probably be for the best. If I were at home, I'd want to keep an eye on him, but here...."
"I won't leave him alone, Doc, I mean Mrs. Jackson." He shook his head; damn it, this was beginning to get confusing and he even knew the scorecard."
"Oh, don't worry, Doctor. He won't leave him alone at all." Sam's voice was louder than necessary.
Jack could hear O'Neill saying something to his wife, but at this point, he just didn't care. Then, as if from out of nowhere, a gurney and medic appeared and the helped him lift his lover's weakened body onto it for their trip back to their quarters.
Later that evening, after the doctor had left, they were finally alone in the guest quarters. Mrs. Doctor Jackson had given him a shot of Valium, which helped him relax, and insisted he be put on oxygen. Daniel had seemingly recovered from his attack in the briefing room without any real damage. She had wanted to give him some morphine and hook him to an IV but Daniel had protested enough to stop her. He argued that he wasn't really sick, it was a problem with an inter-dimensional cohesional situation. Jack preferred the term collywobbles. It was less precise, but a hell of a lot easier to say and to wrap his mind around.
With coaxing and some minor threatening from Jack, Daniel had eaten some of the dinner that had been delivered to their room. The two men were lying together in the king-sized bed, still partially dressed in their fatigue trousers. Jack was propped up in a sitting position on his back, holding his partner securely in his arms. Daniel, wearing the oxygen cannula at Jack's insistence, was curled up and partially draped over him. He was still exhausted by the violence of his episode and was seeking tactile comfort lying with his head on Jack's chest, tucked up under the other man's chin, one arm wrapped around his lover's waist. The television was on but it only served as background noise,
Daniel was thinking, trying to recall bits and pieces of their briefing earlier. "Jack, are we really going to leave them like this?"
"I don't know what else to do." He replied, looking down at him and stroking running his fingers through Daniel's short. "They don't believe us. We can't force them to do anything, and we have got to go." He kissed the still warm forehead that lay on his chest beneath his chin. "You can't take many more episodes like that last one."
"What if we're the ones that are wrong?" The blue eyes looked up at him. "What if..."
"I don't believe that and neither do you." Jack shifted his hand up, caressing him on the cheek and neck. "Six out of seven universes can't be wrong. The Gould are innately bad, they are parasites and they don't give their hosts any choice. It's kidnapping in the worse case scenario."
There was a knock on the door. Jack rolled out of the bed, carefully rearranging Daniel on the pillows and went to the door, He glanced at Daniel who was lying still and tired, eyes closed where he'd left him, still exhausted by the violence of the physical episode. He opened it. It was the General.
Jack stepped from the door, "What do you want?"
O'Neill shifted his gaze from Daniel to Jack. He didn't look surprised at his caution. "I was just checking to see if you needed anything else."
"No, just a way home."
"Sam has some ideas, and tomorrow your Daniel, Sam, Siler, and the Doctors Jackson can bounce some ideas off each other. If anyone can get you back, it's them."
Jack shook his head, "I hope so. I had this stuff last time. I don't know why it's him here, but it seems to be worse than it was with me."
O'Neill frowned. "It looks to me as if it happens when he gets emotional. Like his intense feelings trigger it." He looked at his counterpart. "You're more reserved, thinking. I'd say that with his exposure to Professor Jackson, it's gotten worse."
Jack nodded. "It's possible, but then again, he died in our last little side trip to another universe. We put him in a sarcophagus and re-animated him, but he..."
"Wait a minute, you did what?"
He remembered these people hadn't ever seen the Gould mechanism. "It's a machine. It can cure you from injuries or illness, or it can prolong life or resuscitate you if your dead, but it costs you too. He was weak when we got here. And now, I've got to get him home."
"I understand completely. We'll do whatever we can to help him." O'Neill nodded. "Look, Sam is still with the Jacksons. They've really hit it off, but I've had a hell of a last couple of days and I'm a little worse for wear. I'm going to go to bed. I'll be right next door if you need anything."
Jack understood. The defeat on Beta site, their arrival, learning the true secret of the Stargate, the stress of locating the Jacksons and finally the loss of his CMO to the Goa'uld was certainly enough to wear down the strongest individual. "Thanks O'Neill, I appreciate it.
Several hours later, Jack and Daniel were awakened by sounds of weapons firing.
Jack snapped awake, his old special ops training kicking in. He rolled out of bed with quick efficiency, leaving a still sleep befuddled Daniel in his wake. Pulling on his trousers, he jerked the door open in time to see General O'Neill heading down the hall at a quick trot, similarly dressed in BDU pants and black t-shirt.
"What's going on?"
O'Neill didn't stop, just shouted back at him. "Don't know! Something came through the gate."
Jack looked back at Daniel who was sitting up in the bed, looking at him in drugged confusion. "Jack?"
He ran back to the bed and pulled on his boots. He then turned to his lover. "Look, something's going on. I need you to stay here, okay?"
"But Jack," Daniel was still feeling some effects of the Valium.
"Look, Danny, I don't want to have to worry about you right now. Just stay here, okay?"
Daniel looked up at him, trying to protest further when Jack kissed him on the mouth to shut him up. "I'll be right back...don't go anywhere!"
Following the General down the hallway he found the other man in the armory shoving a 9-millimeter pistol in the back of his pants and holding an M-16 rifle with two extra banana clips. O'Neill glanced up as Jack claimed his P-90 and the zatniketel. "What the hell is going on? Jack asked him impatiently.
"I don't know. The damned alarm went off, I heard...hell, hear gunfire and nobody tells me shit. Come on! Let's go find out!"
The two O'Neills, now armed, ran for level 28 and the gate room. As they arrived, they could see several Jaffa traveling backwards towards the Stargate and an already open wormhole. They were returning fire to the SFs, SG-1 and 2 with staff weapons and zatniketels. The entered the wormhole and after a moment, the Stargate portal closed with its characteristic snap.
O'Neill turned to Kawalski. "What happened?"
"I don't know. Jack. We heard the alarms sound and the Stargate open. By the time we got here, Security was in a full-fledged firefight." He motioned to the Jaffa bodies. "These armor piercing rounds sure do a trick on them."
The SF Sergeant was checking his personnel for injuries. When he saw the two Jack O'Neill's he turned to Kawalski with a confused expression. The General snapped at him. "Sergeant Grey, what the hell happened here?
"Sir, uh, Sirs, I got an emergency code from the Senior Airman that we were under siege. I rallied what men I could, but by the time I got here the big Guy in the fancy armor was retreating." He glanced between the two O'Neills. "But Sir, this time they got prisoners."
A very bad feeling was starting in the pit of Jack's stomach. "What prisoners, Sergeant?"
"Sir, they took the women...every one that was on this level...Colonel O'Neill, Sergeant Lawrence, Airman Sandwick and the civilian lady."
General O'Neill's face had gone dead white. "What do you mean, took them?" He demanded.
Sergeant Grey pointed behind him with his thumb. "They took them, Sir, through the Stargate."
O'Neill turned and ran back to the lab area with Jack hot on his heels. They burst into the room where the Jacksons and Samantha had been working. O'Neill looked around, searching for his wife. "Sam! Sam! Are you here?"
Jack had stopped to check on the sprawled body of a SF who had tried to defend the scientists. He took one look at the staff blast wound and knew the man was dead. He looked up at his counterpart. "She's not here, General. They took her."
The worktable was still covered with scribbled notes in both Samantha and Jackson's handwriting. O'Neill picked them up and saw some astronomical calculations, and some math computations. Another pad had some note taking in Janet's handwriting. Jack prowled the office, looking for something, some clue as to why they had been taken. Then, he saw some brown suede chukka boots attached to some blue-jean clad legs. He had found Professor Jackson.
He went directly to him. The man was down, sprawled out with an M-16 lying beside him. He checked for a pulse and was relieved to find one. Jackson had a bleeding head wound and was out cold. Jack reached for a towel he saw lying on a shelf and used it to apply pressure to the gash.
O'Neill had been looking at the notes, skimming the equations and not making any sense of them. He finally flung the notebook down. "Why? Why were they taken?"
A shaky voice answered him from the doorway. "For the choosing," Daniel was leaning heavily on the doorframe; "they were taken for the choosing."
O'Neill turned on him in frustration. "What the hell does that mean? What choosing?"
Jack glanced over at him. "I told you to stay in the room!"
"Yeah, sure." The younger man replied as he crossed the room to kneel shakily by his unconscious counterpart. He looked at O'Neill, "Is there a first aid kit in here?"
The General went to a wall locker that was tucked in a corner and retrieved a white plastic box with a red cross stenciled on the front. He strode over to the injured man and handed the package to Daniel. "What choosing are you talking about?"
Jack glanced at him. "He's alive."
The General nodded. "They put up a fight." He noted, picking up the empty rifle. "The barrel is still hot." He looked at the Security Forces man lying close by.
Jack answered the unasked question, "He's dead. This is his weapon. Jackson must have grabbed it when your man went down.
"They came in search of victims to be hosts for the children; their larva must be maturing." Daniel concentrated on opening the box and pulling items out of it. Jack moved his hand and the now blood stained towel.
Daniel put a gauze pad against the cut on the Professor's forehead and taped it in place. Then he snapped open an ampoule of smelling salts.
Jackson came too with a gagging and wheezing. Finally he focused on his counterpart. "Janet!" He gasped. "Janet! Where's Janet?"
Daniel answered him. "Not here. They were taken." Jack helped the man sit up. He was leaning heavily on the support offered.
"What do you mean hosts? You mean like Warner?" The General demanded.
"Yeah, like Warner." Jack answered flatly. He looked at the two Daniels. "Ra must have some snakes that are old enough to need hosts, and one of them may be a Queen...that would explain why they took only the women."
"...To give her a choice of hosts." His Daniel finished grimly.
"What happens to those who aren't chosen?" Jackson asked, hopefully.
Daniel answered flatly. "They're killed."
The longhaired young man looked at O'Neill. "We're going after them...right?"
"Oh, yeah. We are so definitely going." He looked at Jack.
He nodded. "I am, but..."
"Oh, no." Daniel spoke up determinedly. "We go together...I'm not risking us being split up. You go...I go!"
The Colonel nodded. He understood his partner's fear of being separated from him. He had it too.
O'Neill looked at Jackson. "Professor, this is going to be very dangerous, and there are no guarantees..."
"General, it's my wife, that's all the guarantee I need. I'm not staying here while she's in trouble."
O'Neill looked at him long and hard. "I understand. The bastards took Sam too." He replied simply. "We leave in thirty minutes."
The two men locked eyes and O'Neill reached down and offered Jackson his hand. It was taken in a firm grasp.
The four men stood at the foot of the ramp that led to the Stargate. The huge wheel like artifact was grinding it's way through the seven chevrons that Daniel had seen when the Warner Goa'uld had made it's escape. They were all dressed identically in sterile fatigues that didn't show name or rank. The only apparent difference was their weapons. General O'Neill and Professor Jackson were carrying standard issue M-16 rifles and 9-millimerter automatic handguns. Colonel O'Neill still carried his P-90 and pistol while Doctor Jackson had his handgun and the zatniketel.
The two officers were focused on the task at hand. But Jack knew that the General appeared calm was strictly due to his training and acting ability. The man was positively seething with anger and worry. The Professor was fidgeting nervously but looked very determined. Daniel was helping him with his gear and giving last minute pointers on Gate travel. Colonel O'Neill watched the two civilians worriedly.
He had done this before, taken an inexperienced, frantic Daniel Jackson through the Stargate. Most of the time, it had worked out. Occasionally, the younger man had gotten by merely with the skin of his teeth. He was not confident this time. The General seemed more focused on retrieving his wife, not paying much attention to his Jackson or the man's ultimate safety.
"Daniel." He called to his own archaeologist. His partner looked up from where he was adjusting the other man's pack. When the younger man came to stand close to him, Jack reached out and took him by the shoulders. "Daniel, promise me you won't do anything... reckless." He looked at him with concern. "You know, after everything is said and done, it's you I need to take back to our own universe. It's you that I need to keep safe." He glanced over at the other Daniel Jackson.
His Daniel looked at him with eyes that were too focused at the task at hand for his comfort. "Jack, in this universe, these two are the important ones." He shrugged. "I'm just trying to help."
"I know, but Danny, I love you." He shook the younger man gently. "You're my reality, not him." As Daniel opened his mouth to protest, he gently lay his fingers on it. "Don't dismiss yourself here, I need you." He motioned to the other pair waiting for them. "They need each other but you are necessary for my survival. Don't forget that. "
Daniel looked at him with wide blue eyes, as if surprised by the revelation. "But Jack..."
"Yeah, I know, it's Janet Fraiser. In our world it was Sha'uri, in the last one, it was Sam Carter." He looked sternly at Daniel. "But...it's not up to us to go around rescuing every woman in every universe. It's our job to rescue us and get home...to our place." He looked seriously at the other man. "Promise me, no knight in BDU armor...we are going as backup, okay? Backup and intel, nothing more."
Daniel had the courtesy to look embarrassed. "Okay, I can live with that."
"Good, I'm betting my ass on it; cause I've got plans for yours...understand?" His answer was a shy smile and a nod. "Good, don't forget that."
General O'Neill had been watching the two of them with interest. Jack glanced at him then nodded towards the other Jackson. "You need to watch that one." He commented warningly. "You need him...remember that. He's your key to saving your world from the Gould."
O'Neill and Jackson both looked at him. The General nodded at the reminder. The other man appeared confused. "I...I don't understand." He stuttered in surprise.
Jack smiled at him. "You will."
The Stargate activated, the optical backwash exploding into the Gateroom, as if announcing itself.
From his place on the observation deck, Colonel Kawalski spoke into the microphone. "General... Jack...are you sure you don't want more men? SG-1 is ready."
"No, Charlie. You've got the hard job here. You get to tell Hammond." He looked at the other three men. "Okay, lets do it." The General led the way, the Colonel right behind him.
Jackson looked at Daniel. The longhaired man spoke. "You never got you wife back?"
Daniel shook his head. "No, she died."
"I can't let that happen. I won't."
"Neither will I." He nodded towards the Stargate. "Come on, Jack is notoriously impatient."
"I'm not surprised." The two men ran into the Stargate after their future.
On the other side of the wormhole, they emerged into a dry, dark chamber and the heat took their breath away.
Jack looked at his Daniel. "Abydos?"
The shorthaired archeologist nodded. "Yes, definitely. Which means that the Abydonians are just a few miles away. We'll need to be careful and not involve them."
"We need to get to where the women are being held." General O'Neill looked around the immediate area."
The Colonel nodded, "We need to gain access to the ship. We'll have to wait until someone rings down."
Daniel had moved to a pillar to the right of the Stargate. "No Jack, I think I remember something over here." He looked closely at the engraved granite, blowing on it and brushing delicately with his bare fingers.
"Okay, you two stay put for a second." Jack motioned to O'Neill and they jogged down the corridor to the doorway to the outside. He stopped just short of going outside, then signaled the other man to wait for him. O'Neill dropped down to one knee in the shadows. Jack eased up to the opening then sticking to the darkened areas he slipped out. Staying up against the building's side he craned back to look. Just as he thought, the Mothership was sitting on her berth using the pyramid as a landing platform. He ducked back into the temple area and the two Jacks ran back to the gateroom.
"What do you have Daniel?"
"I believe this is the control device to the ship's rings." He shrugged, "Of course, I never got to try it...."
"But now's as good a time as any." Jack finished for him.
"What's he doing?" O'Neill had watched the exchange from next to Jackson.
Jack grinned at him, and motioned to a marked circle on the sandstone flooring. "It's the elevator. Going up, anyone?"
Jackson moved over to stand next to him. "If this is the way to Janet...count me in." O'Neill not to be outdone, joined them.
Daniel frowned. "You know this could be...."
Jack looked at him and crooked his finger. Daniel shrugged and obediently pressed the control button and came over to stand by his Colonel.
The device activated with a roar. Seemingly from out of the ceiling, five rings rotated and exploded to take their places. Then everything seems to spin out of control.
Darkness flashed, lightening struck and the rings howled their journey. The four men were deposited into a huge cavernous central room. The arches into the separate rooms were covered with multicolored gauze curtains that revealed just enough of their contents to show they were alone.
"...Be a really bad mistake."
"You're supposed to say that before you push the button, Danny."
"Why would it be a mistake?" Jackson looked at them curiously.
"I had no way of knowing exactly where we'd wind up...it was six years ago."
O'Neill looked sharply at the Daniels. "Now what?"
The Colonel just shrugged. "We find your ladies."
As the men made their way through the ship, occasionally they could hear the murmur of voices and the whisper of movement. "Do you remember the way to his chambers, Daniel?"
"I believe they're that way."
Jack took the lead in the opposite direction. "Where are we going?" O'Neill asked.
"Well, we know they wouldn't hold them in his quarters, and I'm sure they're not in the dungeon. There must be a temple or ceremonial chamber where the implantation will take place."
The sounds that they were hearing continued to become louder and more pronounced. The glimpses that they caught of movements through archways and gauzy curtains were occurring more frequently. Then, from in front of them, they heard the clank of approaching armored Jaffa.
The four men ducked into separate doorway, unconsciously pairing up. Jack and Daniel went right, O'Neill and Jackson went left.
Jack and Daniel found themselves in a luxurious suite of rooms. The apartment they were standing in was an obvious living/entertainment chamber with a Middle Eastern decor. Low tables and couches were gathered in a semi circle around a deep thick rug. Feminine touches decorated the tables and walls.
"We seem to be in someone's quarters." Daniel looked around at the statuary and hieroglyphs that represented an ancient temple. "Uh oh,"
"What?" Jack looked at him worriedly. "What uh oh,"
He pointed to a detailed drawing of a woman portrayed with the head of a lioness. "Ra's daughter in the old religion of Egypt was Sehkmet. She's the female personification of Ra, known as the eye of Ra."
"That can't be good." Jack commented looking around. The sounds of the Jaffa still loud in the hallway.
"Jack, we have to leave...if she's here...oh..."
Jack was peeking out the doorway, watching the warriors march by. "What?" He turned to look at Daniel. "What if she's...oh, crap!"
He knew instinctively that the woman who was standing in the archway was a Goa'uld. She had the same predatory look about her as every other female that had been host to the Goa'uld aliens. But her face, the face was that of the Goa'uld they knew as Ammonet...and her host was Sha'uri.
His partner was standing staring at her, face chalky white, his eyes huge and staring at the false goddess. Jack could only watch as his companion froze into a statue. "Daniel, Daniel come on, we have to leave." He hissed fervently.
"Leave? Why do you have to leave?" The beautiful woman had her glowing eyes set on Daniel. "Where has Ra been keeping you, my precious?" She asked in a low erotic tone.
"Uh, we're new here and uh, got a little turned around." Jack stepped forward to stand next to his companion and bowed his head. "Ra will be displeased that we've accidentally gotten lost."
Sehkmet looked at Jack thoughtfully. "I do not believe that you do anything by accident. You do not have the look of confusion about you. You look more like a warrior...but you are not Jaffa."
"No, lady." Jack managed to sound respectful.
"You are human, yet you are not Jaffa. Are you Lotar?"
Jack didn't answer and he wasn't sure Daniel could.
"I find this one of interest. We are drawn to him." The woman crossed the floor with her eyes fixed on Daniel. "Who are you, my precious?"
The younger man finally managed to speak. "We're just lowly servants, lady. We came in here to clear the way for the Jaffa. We did not know you were here."
She smiled at them. "In truth, I should not be. I am late for my father's summons. I must go to his side to witness the choosing." She looked at him invitingly. "You will return tonight, only a lowly servant. My husband, Ptah, has been long away. My father will be otherwise engaged. He will not care what I do." She smiled. "Or with whom."
"Who are they choosing, my lady?" Daniel asked quietly.
"I thought all would know of this." She frowned at him, the beautiful lips pursing. "Our sister goddess Bastet is reborn today. It is she who will chose." She smiled at Daniel again, "I will return later. Be here and presentable for your Goddess. I will require... entertaining." She then nodded imperiously at Jack and swept out of the room.
"C'mon Danny, no way in hell you're coming back here. Let's go." He found that he still had hold of the other man's arm. He tugged on it and Daniel followed as they slipped back out into the hallway. Seeing an alcove that had a life-sized statue of Anubis in it, Jack pulled him into the shadows and his arms. Daniel seemed dazed, as if he'd been struck. "Danny, come on, buddy. I need you here right now." Jack called to him insistently.
The blue eyes finally seemed to focus on him. Then they closed and he leaned against the wall for support. "I didn't think...I didn't know..."
"You couldn't have known, Daniel, but it would make sense. Sha'uri was too beautiful a woman not to have attracted attention." He stroked a comforting hand down the damp cheek. "Are you all right? I need you with me here, Danny."
The blue eyes met his. "I'm fine. I won't let you down."
Jack had to smile at Daniel's stock and trade answer. "Sure you are, Danny, and I know you won't. You never have.
General O'Neill and Professor Jackson had taken refuge in another large cavernous room. Once past the diaphanous multicolored curtains they could see down a long colonnade. At the end of the room and set on a dais, was a large golden throne. It was gold encrusted and cushioned in a fine material. There were two smaller less ostentatious chairs flanking the primary. And in the immediate background was a large carved representation of the eye symbol of Ra, the Udjat, apparently just floating above the floor.
The two men walked towards the platform, O'Neill's sharp eyes taking in and assessing the threat possibilities. Jackson on the other hand was completely enamored by the decor.
"General, do you realize where we are?" The younger man took the lead, approaching the platform.
"We're in deep shit, is where we are, Professor." O'Neill replied caustically.
"No, General." Jackson continued on, muttering in a soft voice. "We seem to be in a throne room or audience hall of some royal personage. I can't understand how we are able to just walk through here unnoticed."
As they walked through the throne room, O'Neill and Jackson could hear sounds echoing from one of the halls that fed off of the main room. It was a deep thrumming hum, almost visceral in its tone. Over a subdued drumbeat a chant made up of many deep male voices sounded. "Maybe they're otherwise occupied, Doctor." O'Neill commented dryly.
As they continued on through the immense hall, they could begin to make out individual words. Jackson looked at O'Neill and whispered. "That's a form of Egyptian...but I don't recognize the phrasing...just some of the words."
"What are they talking about?" He stage whispered back
"A ceremony of some sort. It's a paean of joining, or blending." The Doctor concentrated, scrunching his eyebrows together. "And they're calling for a selection of some sort."
"That's what the other Jackson was talking about." O'Neill hissed at the younger man. "A choosing he called it. That's why they took the women."
"You mean Janet and your wife?" Jackson looked at him in shocked realization.
He nodded "And my two Airmen. They took the women as candidates for a selection of some sort...for choosing as a host." He sped up. "Crap, that's what they're doing...they're starting it now!"
Jack and Daniel had also heard the chanting. "Daniel?"
"Is that what I think it is?" The older man asked worriedly.
Daniel glanced his way and sped up. "Yes,"
"Crap!" The two men broke into a run.
O'Neill and Jackson found themselves in a broad hallway lined with niches in which larger-than-life-sized statuary of animal headed gods stood. O'Neill heard someone coming and had grabbed the archaeologist by the collar ducking into the alcove behind one of the stone figures. The footsteps turned into a beautiful black-haired woman wearing a costume reminiscent of ancient Egypt, walking their way. Jackson kept trying to peer up at and around the figure and O'Neill kept pulling him back. At one point, she even stopped and looked back towards them, her eyes flashing with a supernatural glow.
"Damn it, Jackson." O'Neill jerked the younger man down beside him, swearing under his breath, "keep your head down."
O'Neill again pulled him back. "Professor, please, stay down." He whispered. "They'll see you...and find us."
Jackson finally settled back into the shadows of the sculpture. "Oh, right."
The General put his finger to his lips and indicated silence then pointed down the hallway to where the sounds were coming from. Then in a very soft whisper, he spoke. "We need to get in there, but you have got to listen to me and do what I say when I say it. Do you understand?"
The archaeologist nodded. The General got up carefully and quietly led the other man stealthy towards the sounds.
The chamber of the choosing was relatively small, but voluptuously appointed with rich materials, gold and jewels lining the walls. The beautiful, youthful looking god Ra looked over the small crowd of worshipers who were waiting to witness the miracle of rebirth of his goddess daughter. He nodded and his First Prime brought forth the first candidate.
This woman was tall, heavily made with very pale skin and with bright red hair. The two Jaffa priests, who escorted the struggling female, brought her to face the strikingly handsome young face of the god. Then, one of the warriors reached to the neckline of the woman's robe and tore it down the front of her body, stripping off her clothing, and baring the voluptuous figure to his sight. Ra stepped down to inspect her pale skinned body. She was indeed a perfect physical specimen, though he believed that his daughter reborn, Bastet, would not chose such a she as host. However, as was his wont, Ra had instructed the Jaffa warriors to bring a wide selection of females for the choosing. The god nodded his acceptance and the struggling woman was stripped of her clothing and lifted wriggling and crying to lie on the stone altar where she was held helpless, pinned down by the two strong guards. He looked around towards the temple door.
The Jaffa priestess that came forth was a beauty. Her ornate regalia befitted one who had succored a goddess. She was of a height with her god; her raven black hair caught up in the bejeweled sun disc headdress of a high priestess of the house of Ra. Her sacred robes were gem encrusted; the hieroglyphs embroidered on it fashioned out of gold. Her face was pale and flawless as if made of alabaster, her features heavily drawn with black kohl liner and gold shades. Her form was both pleasing and functional, colorfully swathed in ceremonial dress. The Jaffa incubator of a queen larva needed to be strong.
The priestess came to the altar and stepped up upon a riser to allow the Goa'uld goddess full access to the candidate. She slowly parted her draped clothing to reveal her pouch to the world of worshipers.
The Goa'uld symbiote, a full grown, healthy, adult female; slowly, sinuously pushed her way out through the opening of the Jaffa priestesses belly pouch into the air of her father's ship-palace. It had been a long time since she had existed. Bastet was being reborn by the genetic memory of her race that allowed her to be reincarnated in this new symbiote. She knew awaiting her were not only her loyal Jaffa, but also her loving father Ra, the god of the sun and her sister-goddess, Sehkmet.
The snake like creature slithered out of her protective environment, extending herself over the unwilling contestant. Bastet examined the woman, sniffing the air and tasting her aura. The woman quivered in fear and horror, unable to move.
Then finally, the snakelet hissed her disapproval, flaunting the fin-like frills of her neck collar. She reared up to look at her father.
"She does not suit you my daughter?" Ra asked the creature in a quiet kind voice. "Very well, there are others for you to select from. Do not despair."
The serpent retreated, drawing itself back into the protective pocket of the female Jaffa. Ra looked upon the doomed woman. As he turned the power of the jeweled ribbon device he spoke softly. "I did not think so." The center jewel's ray caught the woman in its light. Her body convulsed into an agonized rictus for several seconds, and then she slumped bonelessly onto the stone slab.
The god looked at the corpse dispassionately, then gestured to some of the remaining servants. Two of them broke away from the crowd, hefted it off of the bench and took it out of the room for disposal.
O'Neill and Jackson had watched the failed ceremony with horror, disgust and curiosity. The General hadn't known the woman. She wasn't one of his people from Cheyenne Mountain, and he had not known what was going to occur. But now that he witnessed the result of the monster's rejection, he knew that he couldn't just stand by and see it happen again.
He looked over at the younger man. Professor Jackson looked as if he had witnessed a car wreck. His face was blank and pasty white and he appeared spellbound, mesmerized by the scene playing out before him. After it was over, he instinctively turned mutely to O'Neill for guidance and reassurance, wordlessly asking a promise from him that he wouldn't let it happen again.
Jack and Daniel had also witnessed the ritual from the other side of the great hall from behind another statue. As the symbiote extruded itself from the Jaffa woman's abdominal cavity, the Colonel had to concentrate on keeping his lunch down. He glanced at his lover and laid a restraining hand on him. Daniel was watching horrified, almost twitching with the need to do something to stop the procedure. Jack gently wrapped his hand around the back of the other man's neck. "Easy, Danny," he murmured softly. "Not yet."
The younger man turned to look at his commander. 'No more, Jack, please..."
The Colonel could only agree. He spoke softly. "No, Daniel, no more." He looked into the blue eyes "Just remember, buddy, no mistakes, no stupid moves." At the other man's mute nod, Jack pulled him into a quick embrace and kissed him gently. "Remember."
They separated with one last look and pulled their weapons, checking them for readiness.
O'Neill and Jackson were across the room, not knowing where the other two men were. The General was afraid to use his radio, knowing full well that the sound would carry. But he also knew that he couldn't allow this travesty to continue. Then things started to happen and they went from bad to worse. He heard the archaeologist beside him moan as if sucker punched.
The two huge Jaffa had returned with the next candidate for the choosing. It was the doctor, Janet, Jackson's wife. The small auburn haired woman was fighting, twisting and lunging in the hard grasp of the two huge men. "Let me go you sorry sons of bitches! When I get loose, I'm going to practice my evisceration techniques on all of you!
As they drug the unwilling woman forward she looked upwards and saw the altar with the waiting Sun god Ra. She looked around the crowd of witnessing Jaffa. "Oh, merde!" She said, hopelessly.
Behind his statue, Jackson pulled the M-16 off of his shoulder and looked at the safety, making sure it was off. O'Neill put a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "You can't go out there! It's suicide!"
The blue eyes turned to him with a fierce, determined look. "I'm going after my wife", he stated firmly in a soft voice. "Maybe we're both going to die, but at least she'll die at my hand and not by that monster."
"Okay, I'm ..."
At that moment, O'Neill's radio clicked on. He could hear his own voice speaking in his ear. "General, I don't know where the hell you are but we're going in. Come on and join the party.
"It's about damned time, Colonel."
On the floor of the ceremonial chamber, the Jaffa had brought Janet to the altar. The doctor had ceased her useless struggles against her two guards. At Ra's nod, the senior Jaffa reached for her ceremonial clothing and tore it from her body, leaving her naked and defenseless to his gaze.
"Ah, yes." Ra smiled down at her. "Truly a fitting vessel for my beloved daughter," he spoke his approval, then waved at them to lay her on the altar. "Display her for her goddess's pleasure."
As the Jaffa started to lift her to the altar, Janet looked at the false god in front of her and kicked him in the groin. He bent down, and roared his surprise, anger and pain.
From behind him, her husband came up from behind the statue of Osiris. "JANET! Run!"
She looked wildly at him as he charged forward firing his M-16 at the crowd. "DANIEL! HELP ME!" Janet continued to flail about, kicking and yelling obscenities in both French and English. "DANNY!"
General O'Neill, cursing foully, followed the committed young man towards the ceremonial altar, his M-16 on full auto.
From the other side of the room, Jack and Daniel appeared from their vantagepoint. Daniel was using the zat, clearing the way for them to get to the center point. Jack was spraying the crowd of onlookers with his P-90 dropping the Jaffa and Lotar like trees before a hurricane.
The Jaffa Priestess was struck in the chest, her blood splattering her god, and crumbled in front of the altar. The symbiote larva escaped from her belly cavity, hissing and striking at anyone who came close to it. Bastet was trying to get to her father, Ra, for his protection. Her sister, Sekhmet, was also coming towards her from her viewing place above the crowd.
Several of the Jaffa priests were already dead, shot by the attacking humans. Ra had recovered from his ignominious injury and was furiously bearing down on the still struggling captive. Jackson was fighting his way through the press towards his wife, wielding his weapon as a club, afraid of hitting Janet if he fired it.
Jack and Daniel were shooting above the heads of the panicked and fleeing crowd, when the Colonel glanced over at Jackson and saw his desperate rescue attempt. Realizing what was about to happen, he shouted, "Daniel! NO!" Then he turned his weapon and shot one of the Jaffa who was holding the still struggling Janet.
Jackson had reached Ra and as the false god began to assault the woman with his ribbon device, her husband grabbed the Goa'uld by the shoulders and spun him around. The creature, using his ultra human strength, broke Jackson's grip and flung him back against the stone altar. O'Neill who was following through the crowd as best he could, saw the other man go down. "Jackson! Daniel!"
Janet witnessed her husband's attack on Ra and the results, managed to twist out of her remaining captor's grasp. She ran to his side and knelt down, checking his neck for a pulse. As she touched him, his head lolled lifelessly to the side revealing a deep bloody gash in the long hair at the temple
O'Neill, still several feet away, saw he had a clear shot. He ignored the jostling crowd, flicked the mechanism on his M-16 off auto, took careful aim and shot Ra once in the forehead. The back of the false god's head exploded and the body fell with a sickening thud.
O'Neill crossed over to the body and when he started to kneel down to check it, Jack ran up behind him and spoke in a loud warning voice, "No, don't touch him. The Gould might still be alive! It can jump hosts."
The General jerked back like he'd been stung. "Christ! You've got to be kidding!"
"Nope, I wouldn't kid a kidder." He replied grimly as he looked around. "Where's Carter?"
They both looked towards Doctor Jackson for that information. But the woman had gone to her husband's side and she was sitting on the floor, holding her husband's head in her lap. Jack got a cold feeling at the sight and immediately went to her side. "Doc..." he knelt downs and put his hand on her shoulder.
She looked at him, her bloody tearstained face shocked and empty, and said in a hollow, flat voice. "Daniel's dead."
The Colonel dropped to his knees in shock besides the silently weeping woman and her husband's lifeless body. "That can't be...he just took a fall..."
General O'Neill came up on the other side and looked down helplessly. "I tried to stop him, he wouldn't wait."
Jack looked at him, anger and frustration on his face. "He couldn't wait! Ra was about to implant his wife with a damned alien. What did you expect him to do?"
"I expected him to follow orders, damn it!"
The Colonel reached down and touched the still warm cheek of the dead man. In a soft voice he replied. "Daniel doesn't follow orders...he can only do what he thinks is right." Jack put down his P-90 and pulled off his vest. He shrugged out of his fatigue shirt and gently draped it over the grieving woman's nude shoulders covering her nakedness. Then, a bolt of cold fear ripped through his chest. Where was his Daniel?
Jack stood up and scanned the room. There were dead and dying bodies of Jaffa and slaves everywhere. Ra was lying in his own pool of coagulating blood. There was no sign of the snake. It had evidently died within its host. The Colonel started across the bloody floor looking at every body he passed. "Daniel! Danny, where are you?" He didn't see his Daniel anywhere.
After a few heart-wrenching minutes, finally, the beloved voice answered him back from down a side hall. "Jack! I'm coming! What's wrong?" The sound of running feet echoed closer and the younger man came around the corner with Samantha O'Neill and the other two SGC women behind him. Daniel skidded to a stop when he saw the heartbreaking scenario before him. "Oh God! What happened?"
"Ra threw him up against the altar." Jack replied, sadly. He wrapped his arms around his Daniel, hugging him. He couldn't help himself. "He hit his head on the altar. His neck's broken, he's dead."
Samantha immediately went to the other woman and enfolded her in an embrace from the side. "Oh, Janet. I'm so sorry."
The other woman kept stroking her husband's long hair with hands red from his blood, tears rolling unnoticed down her cheeks.
Daniel stood there a moment, wanting to say something but not knowing what. Then, it hit him. "Jack, we're on Ra's ship."
The older man nodded. "Yeah, so?"
"Jack, there's a sarcophagus here."
"Back there, by Ra's quarters...close to where he had the women imprisoned." He shifted in Jack's arms to point in the direction he and the three women had just come from.
Just as Daniel turned, Jack saw a flash of movement behind one of the decorative columns. It was too quick, and he only had time to act without thinking. He tightened his hold on his lover and spun him around away from the movement.
Daniel didn't understand what had happened, suddenly Jack had grabbed hold of him and jerked him off his feet. Then, unbelievingly, he saw the white hot blast of a staff weapon heading towards them.
The explosion hit Jack and the two of them were flung to the marble floor, smoke rising from the soft tissues of the Colonel's back. Daniel hit first, cushioning the wounded man from the impact.
General O'Neill had grabbed his M-16 up off of the floor and returned fire in five short bursts of three rounds each. "God damn you to hell, you bitch..."
Samantha O'Neill had picked up Jackson's weapon and was backing up her husband. The couple crossed the floor together, stepping over bodies. The female Goa'uld, Sehkmet, looked up at them from where she lay injured with revulsion. "You...you...creatures..." she spit out her blood with her words. "You pathetic, mewling, little animals...you have killed a god."
"No," the General replied softly, "We've rid the world of a monster."
Samantha caught sight of another movement in the shadows. She aimed her rifle and squeezed off three single shots at the writhing shape pf Bastet on the floor beyond. It squealed and the Goa'uld larva finally lay still. She looked at her husband. "Make that two."
Jack O'Neill nodded. "No, sweetheart, I call three." He turned back to Sehkmet and put a bullet between her eyes. They flared white once, then darkened in death.
Daniel looked up at Jack from where he was lying on the floor. His lover's weight was heavy, pinning him down on the cold marble. The man seemed to be unconscious. "Jack? Jack, are you all right?"
The only response he got was labored breathing. Daniel moved his free arm off of the floor and stroked the older man's shoulder, coming into contact with a warm wet area just below the shoulder blade. Jack groaned. "Jack, you're hit!" The realization washed away his confusion upon seeing the blood on his hand.
Gently, he rolled the limp body of his injured companion onto his side and freed his other hand. He supported the unconscious body as he allowed Jack to lie on the floor on his side so he could look at the wound. It was horrific. He had taken the blast full on the back with nothing to shield him but his black military tee shirt. Through the flesh and muscles, Daniel could see some of Jack's ribs and a portion of his spine. The blast had cauterized the vessel but the flesh wept bloody ichor. "Help! Someone help him, please."
General O'Neill turned, glancing over his shoulder at Daniel's voice. He had seen the two men on the floor, but thought that they had just hit the deck to escape injury. Now, he realized one or both of them could be injured. He hurriedly trotted over to them. As he got close, he realized the extent of the other O'Neill's injury. As the knelt by the wounded man, he realized that this Jack was as good as dead. He looked at Daniel. "God, I'm sorry."
"No. You don't understand...there's a sarcophagus on board this ship." The younger man was babbling at him. "We've got to get them both to the sarcophagus!"
Samantha had come behind her husband. "Isn't a sarcophagus just a, well a coffin?"
"No! No, it's a Goa'uld healing machine. It can cure him, it can cure Daniel...but we have to get them to it." He leaned down close to his Colonel. "Jack, you've got to hold on."
"Look, Doctor Jackson," Samantha was looking down at him in sympathy. "There's nothing that can repair a wound like this...it's impossible."
"Then we have nothing to lose," Daniel insisted. "Help me get them to the machine."
The General looked from his wife down to his double. "Okay. Nothing adventured, nothing lost...or something like that." He motioned the two women over to his side. He indicated the weapons. "Sergeant Lawrence, Airman Sandwick, can you handle these?"
The Sergeant nodded, "Yes General. It's mandatory training for SGC personnel."
He handed his weapon to her. "Good! Shoot anything that moves. Got it?" At her nod, he looked at Samantha. "Go help Janet." He glanced across the injured man. "Can you carry him yourself?"
Daniel nodded. "Steady him for me while I lift." He climbed to his feet and handed his zat to the airman. With O'Neill's help, he hefted the Colonel onto his shoulder in the fireman's carry position. Jack groaned in pain in his semi conscious state at the necessary movement.
O'Neill, once assured that they were ready to move, went over to where Samantha was talking to Janet. She had slung her M-16 over her shoulder and gotten the smaller woman to her feet, pulling her away from her dead husband's body. He went to two women. "We're gonna take him with us, Janet. It'll be okay." The devastated woman nodded, unable to speak.
With Sandwick's help, he got the body of Jackson over his own shoulder and stood upright, all his joints objecting to the demands being put on him. He nodded at the other Jackson to go on, then he said to Lawrence. "You've got point."
Daniel nodded. "Back to the rooms where I found you, to the large golden box device in the room behind the throne." The Sergeant nodded and led the way back to the area they had come from.
Arriving at the room, Daniel went directly to the ornately carved and painted gold mechanism. "Press that hawk icon on the lid." He instructed Lawrence. The top of the machine split in the middle and slid soundlessly open; a light came on revealing an apparently empty interior. O'Neill came in with his burden and the two wives followed.
"Put him in first." The General directed the other man. "He's dying now."
"It doesn't matter." Daniel answered him positively. "The machine will..."
"Yeah, well, it can't be good for him, anyway. Put him in it."
Daniel actually was glad for the instructions. He nodded for Lawrence to help him and they gently lowered the mortally wounded man into the lit interior of the sarcophagus. He moaned again as his injured back contacted the interior floor.
"Daniel?" Jack gasped out. He was fighting his way back to consciousness. "Danny?"
The younger man bent over close to his partner. "It's okay, Jack." He murmured, soothingly. "Go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up."
"Danny, I love you..." The brown eyes managed to focus on his face.
He reached in to caress Jack's face, then had to withdraw his hand as the lid closed. "I know, Jack, sleep now." The lid closed back to its original position and a gentle vibration began.
Daniel stepped back to where the General was laying Jackson's body on the floor a few feet away and helped him put his burden down. At O'Neill's look, he said. "Now, we wait."
The General straightened up, and glanced at Samantha and Janet. The Doctor broke away from the other woman and sat down on the floor by her husband, pulling as much of him into her lap that she could manage. He turned to Daniel. "How long will this take?"
He could only shrug. "As long as it takes. I think it depends on how bad the injuries are, usually an hour, or so. Besides," Daniel managed a wan smile. "How do you measure a miracle?'
"Point taken, Doctor." He glanced around. "Look, since we'll be here a while, I want to do some reconnoitering. See what there is to see. Any suggestions?"
"I wasn't on Ra's ship long the first time. We, uh, Jack and I blew it up with a nuclear bomb. But if they all follow the same blueprints, and requirements, the command section is up and the tech support is down. We're in the middle section where the living quarters are." He handed the zatniketel to O'Neill. "I suggest if you go back by the Ceremonial chamber, you go ahead and shoot the Goa'ulds three times. That will make them disintegrate and any loyal servants can't reanimate them."
O'Neill took the zat from him and looked at the firing mechanism. "Sweet." Glancing at his wife he asked. "Sam, you wanna come with?"
She nodded, but glanced at Janet who was sitting by her dead husband holding his hand. The woman was obviously still stunned by the last hours occurrences. Daniel nodded to them. "I'll stay with her. I'm not leaving Jack. He'll need me when he comes out of the sarcophagus."
The O'Neill's left Airman Sandwick with the two civilians as a sentry and took the Sergeant along with them to explore. After they left and Sandwick took her position at the entrance. Daniel sat down on the floor next to Janet. "How are you doing?"
She looked over at him for a moment before she replied. "I'm okay for now, but I really want to wake up out of this nightmare."
"I wish I could tell you it was just a dream..." He said softly. "But I can only tell you that it will be ending soon." Daniel reached over and took her free hand in his.
"He's cold already." She looked at her husband, "and you're so warm." Janet shook her head. "You look just like him, in all the important ways. Yet, you're so different...how is that possible?"
"I've been a member of the SGC for over six years now. That woman that the General killed back there in the ceremonial chamber, in my reality, she was my wife Sha'uri. She was chosen to be a host there also. Then when I found her, my friend had to kill her to keep her from killing me." He dropped his gaze to his double and took a deep breath. "I thought I would die from the whole in my life. I had tried for so long to rescue her, but in the end I failed. If it hadn't been for Jack's support, I don't know what I would have done." He shook his head in thought, "I've seen a lot of things that appeared to be impossible." Glancing over his shoulder, he continued. "This sarcophagus is impossible, but it will cure Jack and it should bring your husband back to you."
She could only look at him in amazement. "You're sure, I mean, really bring him back to life?" At his nod, she shook her head. "But will he still be...my Daniel?"
"Well, I've been killed and brought back two times at least. Jack says I'm the same...but I can only take his word for it."
"I want him back the way he was..." She looked at her husband's relatively unmarked face, then reached out and touched it. "I want my sweet, warm, kind husband back...not some changed... thing."
He looked down at the corpse. "Well, I don't know if he's like that, or more like me...but it'll be your Daniel Jackson that you'll recognize." He scooted over to the closest wall and leaned back against it. "We might as well get comfortable, it'll be at least an hour before we see Jack again and can put him in."
Janet acquiesced and slid over next to him at the wall. She looked at him solemnly. "What if this thing doesn't work...on your Jack?"
He looked at her. "You mean, if it doesn't repair his wound and he dies?"
"Then, I'll send you all back through the Stargate and I'll come back here and blow up the ship."
"You know how?"
"Then I'm staying with you."
He looked at her curiously, then nodded again. "If that's what you want."
She smiled at her husband's look alike, "That's what I want."
He must have dozed off, but that didn't seem right. Jack knew he'd been doing something important when he seemed to lose track of things. Now he was in this weird ass box and the lid wasn't opening nearly fast enough to suit him. "Daniel! Get me out of here! Where the hell am I?"
"Jack! Jack? Are you all right?" His lover's voice seemed to come from a far distance away.
"Get me out of this damned thing, will ya!" Then, Daniel was there, grasping his arms to help him sit up, then hugging him really hard.
"How do you feel, Jack?" Daniel asked him as he steadied him to help him out of the sarcophagus.
"I'm...okay. Just a little confused. What happened?"
"Sha'uri shot you with a staff weapon." He paused. "Well, it was Sehkmet...the General killed her and Bastet too."
"Is everyone else okay?"
"No, We need to put Daniel in next." He glanced over his shoulder at the corpse.
"Oh, yeah, I remember now." Jack moved over to where Janet stood.
Daniel went over to where Doctor Jackson lay on the floor. He had an eerie sensation as he looked down on his double's dead body. They were different in appearance; much more so than Jack and the General but none the less, it was his own self. He bent down and hefted the dead weight to his shoulder.
Jack was standing with Janet and he looked down at the woman, "It'll be all right, you'll see."
She shook her head in disbelief. "It doesn't seem possible,"
"What doesn't? The sarcophagus?"
"No." she said watching Daniel and her husband as the other man lowered her husband into the machine. "That he's dead at all." She looked up at Jack. "That this whole thing is real."
"Oh, it's real all right, believe me." Jack assured her. He glanced over at Daniel. Her eyes followed his. "Come on, you have the right to see this if you want to."
She hung back a moment, then the Doctor took over. She bit down on her lower lip and followed him to the sarcophagus.
"Our Doc Fraiser has said she'd give her eyeteeth to get hold of one of these. They're a miracle, but it can have a price too." Jack continued. His Daniel had carefully laid the other Jackson down inside the machine. He stood up straight and came back around to the foot end to stand next to them. He reached down and hit the Horus icon on the machine. The double top swung together and the faint humming began again.
"And he'll be my Danny again?" She asked in a quavering voice.
Daniel looked at her steadily. "As much so as one ever can be after experiencing your own death. He won't be a monster or anything, but he may be more conscious of his life and its value." He looked at Jack. "And this will change you also. You now know what his death looks like and how precious his life is...as if you didn't already know."
"What's the cost?" She asked, staring at the humming sarcophagus.
"Like anything else, it can be abused." Daniel admitted. "I was addicted to it once. It affects you down to the molecular level. The body has its limits."
"And of course, he'll have no memory of what happened after he attacked the Gould. He'll probably wake up still fighting. It'll be up to you to calm him down as quickly as possible."
Doctor Jackson looked at him. "Addiction?"
He added. "But not for just one time."
She glanced at Jack, who was standing next to him now. "And your injury?"
He shrugged. "It's gone."
"May I see?" He nodded and pulled the remains of his tee shirt off. She ran her hands across the smooth skin on his back. "There's only a very slight discoloration where the damage was."
"By tomorrow, it'll be gone," he assured her. "Daniel will hurt worse from carrying me from the room to here." The two men's eyes met. Then, Jack looked critically at the ragged shirt he was holding; eyeing the large burnt out hole in the back. "That wasn't nice." He commented, then he looked at his lover, and saw the shadows in his eyes. "That wasn't nice at all."
"No," Daniel agreed softly. "It wasn't nice...at all."
Janet looked back and forth between the two men. "Samantha says you two are a couple?"
Two pairs of eyes focused on her. "Is this a problem...for you I mean?" Jack asked.
She shrugged. "I'm just a little surprised. You were married...." She blushed pinkly. "And my Daniel is so...well; I'm just surprised, that's all."
Jack smiled over at his Daniel. "Yeah, so's mine."
"Jaaack!" Daniel glanced at him with embarrassment.
"Well, you are." He looked from his lover to Janet and shrugged.
She had to smile at their byplay. "No, it's not a problem with me. One of my male nurses is gay. He and his significant other are very much in love." She looked up at the two tall men. "Love is too precious to waste." She then glanced towards the sarcophagus. "and it should never be thrown away for such a silly reason as what others think."
Jack looked at his Daniel and reached out to touch his partner. "I'm finding out just how true that is." Daniel took the proffered hand and grasped it firmly.
Jack could only stay still for a short while without falling asleep. He had curled up next to Daniel using his partner's fatigue shirt as a pillow. Daniel knew he needed the rest. His own experiences with the Sarcophagus always left him debilitated and tired.
Janet was sitting on the floor, leaning back against the wall by the machine. She was staring sightlessly into the air.
After assuring himself that Jack wouldn't miss him, he crawled over to sit by the woman. "Hey, are you doing all right?"
She smiled over at him and his concern. "I'm a little better now that I saw what that machine did for your Jack."
He smiled at her term, 'his Jack'. "Yea, it is a miracle all right. It's saved my life on two or three occasions." He took the liberty of reaching over and picking up her hand, cradling it between his two. It was cold. "Your husband should be fine," He glanced back over at Jack then said "He'll need to take it easy for a day or two, probably want to sleep a lot."
"But, with the head injury..." she asked worriedly
Daniel thought a moment then shrugged. "I really don't know, I'm not a medical doctor and Janet," he paused. "Well, our Janet, tried to explain it to me after my run-in with it, but I'm afraid I didn't get all of it."
He nodded. "Janet Fraiser is a good friend of mine. She's the Chief Medical Officer at Stargate Command. She's saved my life, and Jack's, several times over."
Janet pulled Jack's shirt close around her and curled her legs up under herself. "So, I stayed active duty there." She said pensively. "I wonder what the difference was."
"I have no idea," He commented. "She doesn't talk much about her life. I think I heard she was divorced but that's all I know. She adopted a girl we found on another planet and she's raising her."
"And you've had no uh, relationship with her at all." She pressed.
"We're friends...good friends, but I guess I'd have to say that is all it's destined to be now."
"With you and your Colonel..."
Their attentions were caught by a dull thudding noise coming from the box. Daniel touched the woman on her shoulder and they got up and went to the sound. The cover began to open and they could see movement inside. That Daniel Jackson was very much alive and no doubt confused.
Janet waited impatiently for the lid to open. "Danny, honey...it's okay. You're all right."
He stopped pounding the lid at the sound of his wife's voice. "Janet?"
Her strong capable hands reached to help him out of what appeared to be a box. "Come on, Sweetie; get out of there. Let me look at you."
He awoke in a strange place, unlike any he'd been before. He seemed to be in a box of light that glowed and hummed vibrating his body through the bones. Where was he? What was he doing there? Where was Janet?
Where was his tiny, delicate, precious wife? He tried to remember; he could recall something had happened, she was missing. And the others...the General, and the two others, were going to help him. He was running through hallways and then he saw her. That man was going to do something to her...something horrible!"
"JANET! JANET!" The cold hand of fear grabbed him. He started pushing on the lid, beating on it with his fists.
"Daniel, Danny! I'm all right! Calm down, sweetie." He could hear her voice. It seemed so far away. "Calm down, Sweetheart; let's get out of there. Let me look at you."
"Janet? Where are you? What's happened?'" The top of his box began to open. He continued to bang on it, trying to speed the progress. Finally, the opening became large enough for him to fit through, to sit up. Suddenly, Janet was there and she reached for him. He looked around in bewilderment. Another pair of strong hands helped him to stand, while his wife guided him to step out of the mechanical contrivance he was in. Then he had an arm full of warm, strong, vibrant Janet.
"Oh, sweetheart, how do you feel?" He could tell she was trying to look at him, check him out for injuries, but he only wanted to hold her close and assure himself she was alive.
"I'm fine, Janet." He mumbled into her fragrant hair. "I've got you back, that's all that matters." He tried to push her back to arm length to look at her. "What happened?" He asked confused. "Why was I in that thing?'
His wife refused to be pushed, only hugged him tighter and led him over to where a Jack O'Neill was lying, apparently asleep. Then, he saw his look-alike join the other man, sitting cross-legged next to his Jack.
This Daniel leaned back against the wall, watching them with a satisfied look on his face as his wife ran her hands up his neck and turned his head, all the while looking very intently. He answered his question. "I put you in the sarcophagus," he indicated the box. "Because you were dead." He replied calmly.
Jackson looked down into his wife's worried face. "I just hit my head...."
Janet pulled his over next to the two men and tugged on him for them to sit down on the floor. She turned and faced him with a serious look on her beautiful face. "No, Danny," she said softly. "You were dead."
He sat down next to her and submitted to her hands on medical examination. He had to believe his other self, if for no more reason, Janet's actions. Finally, she asked him to lie down and when he had his head in her lap, she pushed his long hair aside and searched his scalp for any sign of injury. Knowing that resistance was futile, he lay there enjoying the feeling of her strong nimble fingers carding through his hair. He also realized that she was wearing a camouflaged mini dress and he appreciated that he was lying with his head on her bare thighs.
Finally, satisfied, she bent down and kissed him on the temple. "Danny?"
"Do you know what day it is?"
He recognized her testing him for cognizance. "Wednesday."
"When's your birthday?"
"July eighth nineteen sixty-five."
"Do you know where you are?"
"Some kind of weird-ass spaceship," He grimaced. "And we're here with two guys who tell us they're from an Alternate Universe and Mister and Missus Captain America." He rolled over onto his back, to look up at Janet's expressive eyes.
Janet bent down to kiss her husband. "You need to rest, darling. I'll be right here when you wake up."
He glanced over at the two men. The sleeping Jack was now cuddled up against his Daniel with his head in the man's lap. His look-alike nodded at him. "The General and his wife will come back for us. You might as well get a nap while you can."
Daniel realized that he was very tired. He'd been running on adrenaline when he'd been, well, killed. It couldn't hurt, and Janet's stroking his hair was soothing.
General and Lieutenant Colonel O'Neill and the Sergeant had been through the control area of the ship. Samantha was in heaven. At the SGC she could look at most mechanical controls and immediately make whatever piece of equipment it was to work. But here, she had to figure it all out without a concept of how it worked. Jack watched his wife as she got as excited as a little kid over each new control panel or alien do dad. Of course, being a pilot himself, he was excited over the whole ship.
"Sam, honey, we really need to go and check on the others." He caught her attention.
"Oh, yeah, of course, you're right." She nodded absently. "Look, why don't you go on and I'll be along..." a pair of strong arms surrounding her from behind surprised her as she stood at a control panel.
"No, Sam. I'm not leaving you here alone." The soft voice whispered in her ear. "I nearly lost you once already, I'm not taking any chances now."
She looked over her shoulder at him in surprise. "What?"
Jack hugged her closer to him. "I said I'm not leaving you here alone. You're coming with me where I can keep an eye...a very protective eye, I might add...on you. I don't want to risk losing you."
"You don't want to risk losing me?"
He turned her around and said in a soft if very frustrated voice. "Sam, I love you. I want you to be safe, I want to be with you and have you with me."
"Since I met you six years ago, since General West put us to work on the Stargate project, since I fell in love with you, since I married you, since you are the most beautiful, smartest woman I have ever met and I don't ever want to lose you again."
He knew that was coming. "What about Laira? Sam, I told you, she is a nice person. She took me in and helped me when I needed it. She asked me for one thing. For three months she asked me for one thing. I thought that...I don't know what I thought...I was alone, scared..."
"Yes, I was scared. I was stuck there, alone, hurt, and scared to death. I figured I owed her, so I tried to give her what she asked for." He shrugged. "I didn't think that it was so wrong...but then I didn't think it would drive us so far apart." He sighed. "There was no way I wanted to risk our relationship; but, I screwed up again and I lost my most precious thing...again. I lost you, your trust." He released her. She turned around to face him.
"Jack, I was scared too but when we found you...you were with her and she was pregnant with your child." She shook her head. "I knew I'd really lost you then."
"Didn't I come back to you?" He tried to convince her once and for all.
"No, you came back to your job, your command, and your star."
"No, Sam, I came back to you, my job, my command and oh yeah, a star. But it was you that I really wanted and needed. Not the rest...it was you." He looked at her seriously. "It was you I came back for."
She looked at him amazement. "You've never said anything like that to me before."
"And I don't know why ...I guess I should have said it a long time ago...before this all happened." He squared his shoulders and looked back at the Sergeant who was busily searching a blank wall for alien weapons, studiously ignoring their goings on.
"Come on, it's time we go back and get the rest of the group." O'Neill finally said, The Sergeant was by the door ready to go.
Sam hesitated, looking around the ship, "I wish we could take this ship back with us to study." She reverted back scientist mode.
Her husband had to chuckle at her persistence. "Where would we park it?"
"On top of Cheyenne Mountain, of course." She turned to him with a glint in her eye.
"Professor Jackson says the pyramids were built as landing sites. I think it would work as well."
"I don't think George would approve." O'Neill remarked fondly. "And besides who would fly it?"
"Why you and I, flyboy." She teased him.
"Sam, I hate to burst your bubble but I have no flight time in a Goold space ship." He shook his head. The FFA or NORAD would not approve of me crashing this thing in Colorado Springs."
"Oh, all right." Then she brightened. "Maybe the other Jack can fly one, since they've been in them before."
"Great, make me jealous, why don't you."
"No, of flying the spaceship. Of course of you." He groused as gave her a quick hug.
"C'mon lets go."
The two officers and the NCO came into the sarcophagus room where the others were resting. The Airman was on guard at the door and the Sergeant stayed with her further ensuring their security.
The alternate universe Daniel and Janet were seated on the floor, both with their respective partners asleep beside them. When the two officers entered the room, Jack awoke and sat up stiffly. Jackson was still sound asleep with his head in his wife's lap.
Samantha went over and knelt by the other woman. "He's alive?"
"Yes and with no sign of any trauma, either." She indicated the sleepy Jack who had sat up and was leaning back on the wall. "And his injury is completely healed." She shook her head. "I would love to be able to study the technology involved."
Sam looked back at her husband who was speaking to the two airmen. "Jack, there's another reasons to try and take this back."
"Sam, I'm sorry, but I don't know how to fly this thing." O'Neill repeated again. He looked at Jack who was regarding him quietly from the floor. "Do you?"
Jack regarded him from the floor. "No, never learned how...Daniel?"
Daniel smiled at him. "I could probably fly it, but I wouldn't know how to get to Earth from here." He looked at O'Neill, "Why don't you just have some of your personnel 'gate back here and secure the ship? You may find some of the Jaffa helpful. They don't all believe that the Goa'uld are gods. One of our teammates in very active in their insurrection."
"You have one of those warriors on your team?" O'Neill said in disbelief. "How did you manage that trick?"
"Actually, he helped us escape and then came to Earth with us." Jack shrugged. "Just ask around. With their Gould god dead, you might find some support in their ranks."
Janet gently shook her husband awake. He looked around in confusion, and then he made a face. "I was hoping this was all a dream."
Daniel glanced at his sleepy look-alike. "Sorry, no. It may be a nightmare, but it's not a dream."
The General hefted his M-16. "People, I think we need to go." He turned to his wife. "Sorry, Sam. But I'd say we need to get back to our own little planet. We know the symbols for this world now. We can come back with an armed detachment and if it's still here maybe we can start a dialogue with some of these jabber guys."
"How can you start a dialogue when we don't speak the language?" Janet asked as she helped her husband up.
Daniel smiled at her question then nodded at the other Jackson. "He can, after a fashion. That is if he's kept up on his Egyptian. It's just a more ancient dialect than he's used to."
"Well," Jackson blinked at him. "I've been speaking more Navajo than Egyptian here lately, but you never forget your first language."
O'Neill had handed Jack his P-90 and Daniel his 9 Millimeter pistol. "Let's finish this discussion back at SGC headquarters. I feel out-manned and out-gunned here. We can sit around a comfortable table and say the same thing."
Jack nodded his agreement. "Yeah, dying always just ruins my whole day. I would love to see that last VIP room of yours again we were in again. I need an uninterrupted nap."
O'Neill looked at Sam, "Yeah, I'd like to see our room again too. Come on."
Jack could have sworn he noticed a blush on the normally professional demeanor of the woman officer. He glanced over at the Jacksons. Husband and wife were standing very close to each other, holding hands. "You do have another VIP suite there, don't you?"
O'Neill smiled rakishly. "Yeahchuryabettcha. Come on kids; let's get the hell out of Dodge." He motioned to the two enlisted women. "I'll take point..."
Jack shook his head. "Look, I know this is your command and all, but..." he paused and glanced at Daniel. "We know where we're going."
The other man opened his mouth as if to protest, then smiled. "Point taken, and you've got it."
"You got our six." Jack smiled at his double and he and Daniel led the way out of the room followed by the Jacksons and the two other women. The two O'Neills brought up the rear.
Returning to the SGC, even the wrong SGC, was like a warm feeling reborn. The newly installed iris mechanical iris device closed smoothly behind them having remained open until their return. Sergeant Siler hadn't had the iris controls ready when they had left so hurriedly but now they were activated and the barrier was ready for any unexpected trouble.
On the General's orders, Makepeace and Davis took their teams back to secure the mother ship. They'd hold it until Professor Jackson returned and assisted them with the language barrier later on after he'd been cleared medically and rested.
The three couples had a quick meal together in the Dining Hall and the General made arrangements to get the other married couple a VIP suite for the evening. Finally, after a very long and exhausting day, they paired off and went to their respective rooms.
Daniel secured the door behind him and his exhausted lover. Jack fell across the king-sized bed with a groan. "Daniel, I really really want to go home. We've got to get this damned alternate universe thing worked out."
"No argument from me Jack, I want to get home to my apartment and my fish." He sat down on the bed beside the older man.
"Wrong, Danny, I want you home in my house, in my bed with or without your fish." Jack reached for the younger man's hand and then pulled him down on the bed next to him. "I want to make slow, passionate love to you and I want you to be totally uninhibited, relaxed and enjoy it."
Daniel rolled over until he was partially lying over Jack. He bent down and kissed his lover. "And I want you too. I want to feel you inside of me, and I want you to say my name as you make love to me."
"Oh, yeah, Danny. Oh yeah." He slid his hands up under the BDU shirt that the younger man was still wearing and pulled him on top. "Oh, God, I want you so badly...." He glanced up in the corner security camera. He whispered conspiratorially. "Do you think General Jack would mind if I tore that sucker down?"
Daniel chuckled into Jack's neck. "Probably, I'm sure they're expensive."
"Or we could star in our very own porno movie." The older man grinned evilly up at his lover. "We could make it rich and have them send the money to our universe. Beef up my retirement fund."
Daniel could barely talk for laughing. "Oh, yeah...I can see the General...letting...that happen."
"Or maybe, he'd like it for inspiration...since he found his Professor Jackson." He slid his hands up and down the smooth back peeling the black tee shirt up and out of the BDU trousers. "Or maybe we can just blackmail them."
Daniel kissed him and moved over the prone form of his lover responding to the stimulating hands. Jack groaned softly into the searching mouth. Then he began to feel light headed and dizzy.
Daniel noticed that Jack had stopped responding to him. He pulled back and looked at his partner with concern. Then the tremors of entropic cascade failure began. "Jack?"
"Jack, Oh, God! Jack!" His lover arched back into the bedclothes, fighting pain as the spasms racked his body. Daniel didn't know what to do to help him, except to try and calm him and keep him from hurting himself. Daniel cursed himself silently. They had grown careless, forgetting his own earlier episodes in this universe.
He rolled off the racked body of his lover and pulled him into his arms. He held him tightly through the seizures that seemed to be coming in waves. Jack was trying to fight back; Daniel could see the fear in his eyes. He wrapped both arms around the beloved body, holding Jack's flailing arms close to him, as it was seemingly trying to tear itself apart. The convulsions were getting worse and a low keening moan tore itself from Jack, as if the mortal flesh was reaching its limitations.
Then, as suddenly as it started the episode stopped. Jack collapsed bonelessly against Daniel, barely breathing. He could still feel the too rapid beat of his lover's heart as the man slumped into unconsciousness.
Daniel turned him back onto the pillows, and then he arranged the splayed, limp limbs into a recovery position. Assuring himself that his lover was still breathing, he tried to take Jack's pulse but the heart was beating too fast, as if racing to repair what damage had occurred during the assault. He needed help, he needed a Doctor and he only knew of one who was close.
He pulled the door open and ran down the hall to the next door. He knew the Jacksons were in the next suite and he pounded on their door. The other Daniel answered it quickly dressed only in briefs. Janet was still in their bed inside the room. He looked around the other man to the doctor. "Janet, you've got to help Jack. He's having a seizure!"
The physician immediately got up, pulling a tee shirt over her head to cover herself. She grabbed the small bag that had what little medical equipment she had brought with her.
Seeing she was on her way, Daniel turned and ran back to his and Jack's suite. He could hear Janet telling her husband to awaken the General.
When Daniel reentered the room, he saw immediately that something was very wrong. Jack was still on the bed where he'd left him but his lover was now totally motionless. "Jack! Jack!"
"JANET! HURRY UP!" Daniel called out as he rushed towards the bed. Jack's face had taken on a sickly grayish hue and he was not breathing. He knelt on the bed; rolled him back flat on the bed and tilted the other man's head back to open the airway. He quickly began breathing for him. Janet was beside him in an instant, checking for a pulse then starting chest compressions. She started audibly counting the breaths and compressions and they began to get in rhythm together.
Daniel had a vague impression of others entering the room and Janet shouting for a nurse and a gurney, of his being pushed aside by men transferring Jack to the wheeled stretcher and then following them down the hallways of the SGC to the infirmary. It all seemed like a dream, a horrible nightmare that he couldn't wake up from.
They had come so far, seen so much. It couldn't be ending like this. Jack had to be all right; he had to live. For him to die now-from this-- was so mindless and stupid. Not to die in battle against the Goa'uld, not to die fighting the replicators or some other enemy but from something as mindless as Entropic cascade failure. It seemed like a pointless evil that had pierced Jack's armor of spirit and vigor and was sucking his very life force away, sucking Jack away from him.
Once in the infirmary, Janet Jackson and the SGC nurses took complete control of the situation. Jack was moved to a hospital bed, stripped of his clothes, hooked up to monitors, intubated and catheterized. Machines were breathing for him, pumping his blood and monitoring his condition. The only blessing was that everyone was ignoring him and letting him stay in the room, even if it was as only a silent witness to Jack's ordeal.
He had no idea how long he'd been standing there, staring helplessly at the unfolding drama, when a firm supportive hand planted itself on his shoulder. "Come on, Daniel. Why don't you come with me? You don't look so hot."
It was General O'Neill, looking at him with concern and compassion. "Let's go and get some coffee?"
He could only numbly shake his head. He couldn't leave; he had to be here with Jack.
Janet came up to his other side. "Daniel? What was he doing when this started?"
"We were...we were in bed." He replied blushing but determined to tell her everything she needed to know.
"You were asleep?"
"NO, I mean no, we weren't asleep...we were...we were making love."
O'Neill came to his rescue, " Janet, they're a couple. They were being intimate."
"Oh, I see." Was her only comment and she jotted something down on her chart. She looked back at him with compassion. "Was it during penetration?"
"No," He took his glasses off, wiped his forehead and pinched the bridge of his nose to stop the headache. "We were just...kissing...and touching each other."
She nodded, sympathetically. "I see," she said softly. "Now, Daniel, I saw you have an attack of this thing earlier, has Jack had one before this one also?"
"Not in this universe. It was two universes ago, we were in an alternate one where I was, well, my double wasn't there. His double, another Jack O'Neill was and he had two attacks then."
"So, this is actually the third one?" She frowned.
"Yes, but it was much worse this time." Daniel said worriedly. "He never actually lost consciousness...like I did."
"Maybe because he was so badly injured on the ship." O'Neill commented grimly.
"And you were in close contact this time, right?" Janet pressed.
"Yes, " Daniel answered her with a nod. "We weren't actually having sex, but we were...."
"She laid her hand on his shoulder and said softly. "I understand Daniel. I do."
He nodded, looking over her shoulder at his stricken lover.
After a few seconds, she said briskly. "Well, I want you to stay here in the clinic also. I'm going to give you a shot of Valium to prevent any reoccurrence of an episode in you." She looked around at the nurse that was assisting her. "Is there a Doctor on duty here?"
O'Neill answered. "No, Doctor Jackson, there's not. Our Chief Medical Officer was Goolded. You're the only qualified person here until I can request someone tomorrow."
She nodded, "Okay then, Daniel. Let's get you into another room, in bed and settled in..."
He interrupted her, looking from her to the General and back again, unsure who to press the point to. "Can't I stay here? I mean I was holding him when this started and I'm okay."
O'Neill and Janet exchanged looks. Professor Jackson, who had followed them into the clinic, stepped up to him. "Daniel, you look like crap. You won't do him any good if you're unconscious too. Come on, quite being the pain in the ass I know we both can be. Let Janet help you."
Daniel looked at his counterpart and didn't know whether to laugh out loud at the sheer idiocy of the situation or burst into frightened tears. Jackson took his arm and led him to the nearest hospital bed. "Sit down and behave and she'll probably let you stay here." He looked over at his wife. "Won't you, Janet?"
She rolled her eyes at both Daniels. Her Daniel was pulling out all stops to help his double, batting his eyes at her along with his the pout. Meanwhile, the other Daniel looked seriously close to passing out all together.
"Okay," she sighed, giving in to the inevitable. "I surrender...I can't withstand one of you much less two." She gave instructions to the nurse and within seconds Janet was holding a syringe. She showed it to the man who was sitting tensely on the hospital bed. "Daniel, this is Valium, it will calm you down and help you sleep." She reached for his arm.
"No, no drugs. I need to be here with him."
"Daniel, listen to me. I don't want you to have an attack too." she frowned at him. "This will only relax you so you can get some sleep."
He looked up at her stubbornly. "I don't want to sleep."
"I don't suppose you want to be unconscious, or on life support either. If you have another episode I don't know what will happen. This will only relax you. You'll be able to wake up if he makes any sound." She tilted her head to look at him waiting for him to understand.
Finally, he nodded and she swabbed his arm with an alcohol pad and gave him the injection.
He looked at her and nodded. "Just wake me if..."
"Don't worry, Daniel. I will, but you'll do him no good if you become affected also and I know you're tired."
Her husband nodded. "We'll figure something out. You just relax."
He nodded, and lay back on the bed. It felt good, comfortable, and he was so tired. He turned his head so he could see Jack as he lay in his own hospital bed as he drifted off to a deep sleep.
Daniel awoke and felt someone holding his hand. He opened his eyes, almost expecting it to be Jack but he saw it was Sam.
"Hello," she said with a shy smile. "How are you feeling?"
"I feel all fuzzy, Sam, like I'm drugged." He mumbled. "Where's Jack?" He tried to sit up and couldn't. "What happened?" Sam was looking at him strangely and holding him down. "Is he hurt too?"
"He's still unconscious, I'm afraid." Sam followed his gaze and shook her head. "We're beginning to think that we have to send you two home for him to recover."
"Home?" he closed his eyes tightly, then looked at her. "Where's Teal'c? What happened to us?"
Samantha then realized what was happening. "Daniel, do you know where you are?"
"In the clinic...were we on a mission?" He was trying to make sense of things, but couldn't quite grasp it. Confused he turned his head. He could see Jack was unconscious in the bed across from his. What had happened? Was he wounded? Sam was okay. Where was Teal'c?
Sam turned towards a doorway. "Janet, could you come here please?"
The doctor came into the room and...someone that looked just like him followed. "He allowed himself to collapse back onto the pillow. "Oh no, not a dream."
The man with his face came over to stand next to Sam. "No, Daniel, not a dream."
He looked from that Daniel to Sam in confusion. "You're not my Sam are you?"
"No, I'm sorry, I'm not."
"...And Jack...Jack's dying." He looked at her in panic. "Jack! Where's Jack?" He sat up in his bed and tried to get to his feet. "Jack!"
Janet was right there at the bedside in an instant. "Daniel, Daniel, calm down." She held on to him to keep him from falling out of his bed. The other Daniel helped her to restrain him. "Please, he's right over there in that bed. There's been no change...calm down."
Jackson took hold of Daniel and the two men struggled briefly. Then Daniel looked at his double and realized where he was. He slumped into the other man's arms. Jackson helped him to lay back down. "Take it easy here for a minute." He coaxed his twin back into the bed. "Relax."
"How's Jack?" Daniel managed to say.
Janet came over and took his wrist to check his pulse. "There hasn't been any change, Daniel."
Jackson had stepped back and was watching his wife with the other man. "We've just about decided that we'll have to send you home for him to recover."
"God, yes...please, send us home."
"We would if we could, but we just don't know how." Samantha looked at him sorrowfully. "Professor Jackson, Master Sergeant Siler, me, we just don't know how to do it." She sat silent a moment. "Daniel, you originally said that your first trip to another universe was through a Quantum Mirror, right?"
"Yes, but it was shipped off the Nellis...well, Area 51." He shook his head. "I think General Hammond ordered it destroyed. We had too many bad experiences with it."
She glanced at the other Daniel and sighed. They seemed disappointed. "That's too bad."
"It is?" He must be groggy. He didn't understand what she was getting at. "Why?"
"Well, Ferretti's team discovered an unusual mirror on P3R-233. Well, it looks like a mirror but it doesn't show a reflection. She explained. "I was just thinking that maybe that's what it is. It's an odd shape; sort of an oval but with squared corners."
Daniel looked at her in amazement. "But...but that could be it..." He tried to sit up in the bed. Samantha helped support him until he was upright.
She shrugged. "But, if yours was destroyed then it doesn't matter."
His face fell, "General Hammond ordered it, but then it wasn't at the SGC anymore either. Maybe, someone countermanded those orders." Daniel shrugged. "It wouldn't be the first time things like that have happened."
"Well, then, I'll go have ours uncrated." She stood as if to go, but saw the look on his face. "What?"
"Can you take me to the mirror? That way we can be sure." Daniel tried getting to his feet again and realized that someone had changed his clothes to that of a backless hospital gown. He looked from one person to the other. "Uh, can someone get me a robe?"
Janet looked at him, standing with her hands on her hips. "No, Daniel, no you don't."
Samantha turned to the smaller woman. "But Janet, this may be a way to send them home."
Janet looked at her in disapproval. "Be that as it may, Sam, you still don't hi-jack one of my patients without my approval."
The Colonel looked suitably embarrassed. "I guess I wasn't thinking of that. Doctor Warner..."
"...Is not here. I am." Then she looked at their two gloomy expressions and finally relented. "Okay, you three. Thirty minutes...at the most. Let's get you a robe and a wheelchair." She looked at the Lieutenant Colonel. "And I'm holding you two responsible for him. Got it?"
Sam nodded. "We're just going to look at something in storage."
"That's fine...thirty minutes...no more, no less. Got me?" She held up her finger to make a point.
The two answered in unison. "Yes, ma'am."
Janet had a nurse bring him a robe and the wheelchair, then supervised his actions until he was properly and quietly seated in the chair. Then she watched them as they started for the door. Daniel glanced back at her. "You'll call me..."
She smiled. "...If he wakes. Of course."
Samantha pushed his wheelchair down the hall. "Come on, we're down to 25 minutes."
"Thanks Sam, uh Colonel O'Neill?"
"Please, Daniel...call me Sam."
He smiled back over his shoulder at her. "You didn't much like me before."
She looked at him with a grimace. "Daniel, I found you in my bed with a man I thought was my husband. You can't really blame me for that. I mean, who would have thought that you two were from an alternate universe, for crying out loud."
He had to laugh at her turn of phrase, then turned serious. "Well, it was sort of an unusual circumstance, but surely you trust your husband?"
"Well, I guess I still have a hard time after the episode with Laira on P3R322."
Daniel recalled their own incident on Edora. "My Jack got stranded there with Laira also." He shook his head. "But we weren't together then."
She looked at him. "Was Laira pregnant when you found him?"
"Uh, no. But they had slept together a couple of times. He was only there three months."
"My husband was there for over six months, and she was pregnant by the time we found him. She has his little boy." She shook her head. "He goes back to see him every month or so when he can get away and takes them things."
"Have you seen him?" Daniel asked, "Does he look like Jack?"
"No, " she answered stiffly. "I can't go there. I'd do something stupid or hurtful, but Charlie says he looks a lot like him."
It took him a little while to realize she meant Charlie Kowalski. "Oh," He thought about what it would mean to them if his Jack had a son somewhere. He decided it didn't matter. "But he came back to you..."
"Yes, yes, he did." She stopped in front of a workroom. "Here we are." She pushed open the door and standing in the back of the room was the Quantum Mirror.
"That's it!" Daniel got up out of the wheelchair and hurried over to it. "This is the Mirror. Ours looks just like it." He turned around. "Where's the hand device?"
"The what?" Sam looked at him with a puzzled expression.
"The hand device, you know the control unit." He looked at her in dismay. "You don't have it, do you?"
She looked back at him, equally disconcerted. "Daniel, this was it, there was just some junk on a table next to it. We didn't bother to bring it all back."
He sighed and dropped his head. "We need the hand control to make the mirror work." He turned and waved his hand at the artifact. "It's how you control which universe you connect with."
She shook her head. "Daniel, I'm sorry. I didn't know it needed anything else."
Daniel dropped his head. He felt like sitting down on the floor and crying like a four-year-old. "You couldn't know. I was just too much to expect." He could only think of Jack lying in his hospital bed, dying, because he couldn't get them home. Daniel made a fist and hit a table that was sitting there next to the mirror. "Damn it! We're so close."
Sam came over and there were tears in her eyes. "What can I do, Daniel? Just tell me."
"I don't know. I just don't know." He turned and leaned his hips against the table.
"Well, how did you get here?" She joined him, putting her hands flat on the table and hanging her head. She picked up a chord from her work project and then threw it down.
"Well, we were gating to P3R322 to meet out teammates, Sam and Teal'c." Daniel started thoughtfully; "we wound up on an alternate Abydos. From there, we just took a shot and wound up in another SGC. That's where Jack had his two attacks of entrophic cascade failure. My double was in a different plane of existence so I wasn't affected. He came with some instructions from the Ascended Ones and we hooked up a generator to add extra punch to the dialer. Our last universe was where Hathor had taken over the SGC and enslaved everyone. There, Sam was possessed by a Goa'uld and was working on a power device that their Jack and Daniel used to 'gate out to our world to escape her and Hathor. We got caught in mid-transfer and wound up in that universe for several days. Finally, they came back and Jack, well, that Jack, gave us the co-ordinates that they'd used in the transfer.
"What's this?" He said looking at the complicated piece of machinery.
"That? Oh, it's a generator. I've been working with a new power source for the gate, but so far it won't work more than once." She looked at it in disgust. "When it does perform, it's an off the scale reading, but then it blows the generator. It's too expensive to keep building them and having them explode."
Daniel looked at her curiously. "How powerful?"
"What do you mean?"
"Would it put out enough energy to power the Stargate through ten chevrons?"
She looked at him, realizing what he was getting at. "Yes, I believe it would."
"Then we just have to figure out where we went wrong on the address and what the correct one is." He looked at her. "Is this one completed?"
She nodded, "Except for some minor tweaking. It would be easy to MacGyver it to the 'gate control. How do you know which chevrons to use?"
There was a knock on the open door. It was the other Daniel. "Hey, what's going on? Janet sent me to look for you."
"We may have found a way give the Stargate enough power to get us home." Daniel replied as they looked up at the Professor together.
"That's good," he nodded. "Do you have the coordinates?"
"I have the right group, but not in order yet...and I need this world's point of origin." He continued thoughtfully.
Sam looked at him. "You have the coordinates? Why didn't you say something?"
"I didn't know you had the power source available." He shrugged. "We knew you were under some power restrictions.
"That's why I've been working on the generator, to supply the Stargate."
"Would the General let us use it?" Daniel looked hopefully at the other two. "Knowing that it will be destroyed?"
"I think we owe you, Daniel." Jackson looked at O'Neill. "Sam?"
"I think you're right." She agreed. "First we need to get the coordinates." Sam went to a closet and pulled out some folding chairs. The three sat down around a table and started working with the symbols.
Daniel found some pencils and paper and passed them out to Jackson and O'Neill. "Okay, these are the symbols we used to get here...."
The three scientists were sitting around a worktable scribbling madly on paper that had been retrieved from a ream from a storage shelf and strewn about haphazardly. Professor Jackson had been briefed on what constituted a Stargate address and had added his thoughts into the various permutations of symbols.
Daniel believed that the symbols that the Ascended Daniel had originally used were probably the right ones mainly because he had no real choice. The man had been sent to help them and he couldn't imagine that any Oma Desala could make that mistake. But they had been sucked into the other wormhole and deposited into another alternate universe by the actions of the Jaffa Jack and the Beloved Daniel of the third universe. Then, that Jack from Hathor's reality had almost hit it on the head again but had possibly transposed two or more of the symbols when they left that universe. He knew they were close, it was just a matter of getting the correct sequence of symbols. And this time he, the poster child for bad luck squared, had better get it right.
Unfortunately, the drugs that Janet was having to use to keep him relaxed enough not to have an attack also clouded his mind to the point of not his not being able to concentrate. Professor Daniel was beginning to catch up. He had gotten the symbols and the concepts, but he was still feeling his way through the equations. Sam O'Neill was also getting there; she just had to work her way through it all mathematically. What had been the source of teasing and joking between the two friends in his universe had begun to take on a deadly turn here in this one.
The sound of a feminine throat clearing was heard to echo through the room. Professor Jackson tensed suddenly and turned around to look over his shoulder towards the door.
"Daniel." It was an unhappy Janet voice.
"Hi honey." The Professor turned and smiled innocently.
Another voice spoke up. "Sam?"
"Hello, Jack." Samantha had the good grace to look embarrassed. She, after all, had been the one to whom he had been entrusted.
"Whatcha doin'?" The General entered the room, the physician right behind him.
"Jack, we've almost got this worked out...all we have to do is get the symbols in the proper sequence..."
"Danny, you know Daniel needs to get back..." Janet frowned and put her hands on her seated husband's shoulders.
Daniel looked up at her in disbelief. What the hell were they playing at? He didn't have time for this! His frustration and anger had finally had enough. He picked up the notebook in both hands and slammed it back down on the desk causing everyone to jump. "Stop it! There's nothing wrong with me that getting back to our own universe won't fix." He stood up suddenly, knocking his chair over backwards, and walked around the table. "Don't you get it! I have to do this! I have to get us back!" He glared at the shocked foursome, speaking loudly and slowly to make his point. "My Jack, my life, is dying here in front of me. I have to get him back to our own universe now, before it's too late!"
The General spoke up sadly. "Daniel, we'll get you home."
"Get ME home? Not like this!" He walked back to the table. "Don't you get it? If my Jack dies, I might as well run into an incoming wormhole! I HAVE to do something to save him, and the only way I can save him is if you leave me the hell alone and let me work!"
"But you'll have an episode!" Janet responded, not at all put off by his show of temper. She knew Daniel better than anyone. She'd been married to a Daniel for years. "If you're both in a coma, no one can get you home." She stepped up to him. "You have got to calm down! This is what triggers them, this uncontrolled emotion. Whether it's rage, frustration, or passion, these high emotions cause the attacks. Your Jack had been weakened by the injury. That's why he was the one affected; but if you keep this up, we'll be burying two men here."
He looked down at her in horror. "Coma?"
Her whole tone changed to one of regret. "Yes, Daniel. He's gone into a coma. He's dying."
"No, no." Daniel backed away from her, his head down, his hands pushing away from her. He couldn't lose Jack now, now when they had just found each other. He couldn't lose another person in his life. He wouldn't. Daniel turned and started walked briskly across the room, brushing past the four people and the abandoned wheelchair. Once in the hall he started running towards the clinic
Reaching the wardroom, he went directly to Jack's bedside, looking at the instrumentation. He'd been in his own SGC's infirmary often enough to be able to understand what the monitors were saying about O'Neill. The Colonel was in a coma, the ventilator was doing all the work breathing for him and his heart was barely beating. Even the electroencephalogram was showing less brain activity than normal. They were right, Jack was dying, but Daniel knew that he wouldn't die alone.
He the others coming in behind him. He spoke softly. "General O'Neill."
"Will you order your wife to hook up the power source to the Stargate? I know it will destroy the generator but..."
"Yes, I will." O'Neill turned and nodded at Samantha. "Go on, do it."
She nodded mutely and she and the other Daniel left the room.
Janet watched them leave. "What are you going to do, Daniel?"
"I'm taking him home."
"I'll come and tell you when they're ready." O'Neill spoke to him before following the others out.
Daniel nodded, not bothering to lift his eyes from the body of his dying lover.
"Daniel, if you're wrong...you'll both die. You know that." Janet said softly, she was standing right behind him.
He nodded again, mutely.
"There's nothing I can do to change your mind?"
He shook his head. "No, Janet."
"Why? I don't understand why you want to die too."
He finally turned to look at the petite woman. "Janet, I don't know how similar your husband's life and mine are, or how different. But, when I was eight years old, my parents died before my eyes. Then my grandfather, Nick Ballard abandoned me. I didn't have another home until I married Sha'uri. Then she was stolen from me and I saw a friend kill her to save me. I had to give her son up to keep him safe, and I lost someone else very dear to me to the Goa'uld." He shook his head and sighed. "I can't lose Jack now. I won't."
"But the trip through the Stargate may kill both of you...if you don't get home this time."
"Janet, I know that." He looked at her grimly. "And, I don't care. Without him, I don't want to live."
Several hours later, General O'Neill reappeared in the wardroom. "Okay, Daniel. It's all hooked up." He reported grimly. "They're ready for you."
Daniel had spent the last thirty minutes gently and carefully dressing the unconscious Jack. He'd foregone the combat boots but had put two pair of socks on the bare feet for warmth in the wormhole. He didn't want to die; he desperately wanted them both to live but Jack couldn't stay here. In fact, though he hadn't told Janet, he himself was not feeling well. He believed that he was just on the verge of having an attack of ECF himself. They were, he was, now choiceless.
With help from a corpsman and Janet, he gently lifted Jack on a hospital gurney for the trip down to the Gateroom. Then, finally, they disconnected him from his life support. Janet kept the rebreather on her patient, but they both knew this was only a stopgap action.
No one said anything on the way down to the lowest level where the Stargate was. There was nothing left to say. Sam had done her best, tweaking the generator to its highest capability. Daniel had helped all he could, Janet had kept his Jack alive and The General was authorizing a very dangerous endeavor in the small hope that it would get them back to their home universe. He could ask no more from them.
As they arrived in the Gateroom, Samantha, Jackson, and Siler were still working on the device. Jackson and Siler were following her directions to get the generator properly calibrated and connected to the Stargate. Daniel and Janet readied the unconscious Jack for their uncertain journey into the vortex of the wormhole. The rebreather was removed last of all by Janet. Jack had to live on his own for a few more minutes in this universe. Their packs had been piled beside the ramp, and Daniel had actually remembered to pull his GDO out so that they could safely reenter their SGC through their own Stargate's iris.
The General and Janet left Daniel with a handshake and a hug. Then O'Neill called to his wife and Janet waited for her husband to come with them. Siler started the machine's power up cycle, and then he also left the Gateroom with a quiet "Good luck". O'Neill had insisted. The generator was touchy at best. It had exploded both times before when it was used to power the Stargate. He would take no chances with the lives of his own personnel.
They had done everything that they could. The two couples went up the metal stairs into the protected SGC control room to join Kawalski and Hammond. Siler and his techs went out behind the blast door on the lower level. From the various vantage points, they could only watch and hope that these two brave souls would make it back to their own reality in time to save their lives.
Daniel waited by the gurney with his unconscious partner. He saw their four friends reassemble at the dialing computer. Lieutenant Colonel O'Neill started inputting the symbols in what he, Daniel, believed to be the correct sequence for his home universe. He'd made the final determination as he waited for the Stargate to be readied for their journey. If they died it would not be anyone's failure but his own. It would now be life or death for them, based on his educated guess. He thought it ironic that he, the man who opened the Stargate by translating the Cover stone's cartouche, now depended upon that same knowledge, intuition and final leap of faith to get him and his Jack O'Neill home.
The computer activated and locked in the last three symbols. He watched as the wormhole's plasma kawhooshed out into the Gateroom, then settled back into its optical illusion pool. It beckoned invitingly to him.
Daniel picked up his GDO and sent the code for their iris to be opened, next he hurriedly pitched their two packs through the wormhole. Then he ran back to the gurney where he carefully gathered Jack's barely breathing body up over his shoulder into a graceless fireman's carry. Daniel waved once to their watching friends, turned, and headed into the wormhole without a backward glance.
The wormhole closed behind them with a snap. The generator had powered down without a hitch. Their new naquadah power source had worked.
The two couples, the O'Neills and the Jacksons, looked down at the quiescent Stargate in hopeful silence, hoping it had worked and that Jack and Daniel were now home safely. Daniel wrapped his arms around his wife's waist and looked over to the two Air Force officers. "Now, what?"
Jack shook his head. "Well, there's nothing else we can do for them except wonder if they made it. But, now we need to figure out what to do about the Goold and if they're an immediate threat to our Earth."
"Well," Samantha said thoughtfully. "Since Bill Warner is a Gould now, I'm sure they'll know we're here."
Daniel looked at her and nodded. "Sam, I think that's pronounced Goa'uld. At least that's how Daniel said it."
"Goold works for me." Jack commented. "They're pretty ghoulish if you ask my opinion."
"Well, if I remember Generals from when I was active duty, nobody had to ask for an opinion... it was just taken with a grain of salt."
He grimaced. "Oooh, Doc, your wit is as sharp as your needles."
"Why General," she replied in her best southern belle voice, "Y'all haven't even felt my needles...yet."
"Oy, Daniel, keep your woman under control will ya please?" Jack stealthily slid behind Sam.
Daniel kissed his petite wife on top of the head and grinned at the older man's teasing. "I'll help you translate dead languages and go up against aliens as much as I can, Jack. But against my mini medical marvel...you're on your own. I surrendered a long time ago."
She leaned back against his chest and smiled up lovingly at him as he hugged her tightly to him. "You got that right, artifact guy."
Jack cocked an eyebrow at the couple. "Artifact guy?"
Sam turned to face her husband. "What's it to ya, flyboy."
Jack shook his head mournfully, "It's not fair ya know, you are all way smarter than I am, I don't stand a chance around here now."
Sam smiled coyly at her husband. "Yeahchuryabettcha."
The alert klaxon was wailing as Master Sergeant Davis hit the loudspeaker button. "Unscheduled Stargate Activation!"
General Hammond was close to his office door and he turned and headed for the observation deck at a run. "Close the iris, Sergeant."
"Yes, Sir." Davis began to activate the mechanism, then paused. "Sir, the Stargate, it ran ten chevrons and the GDO is showing SG-1's old signal. The one we changed! It must be Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson."
"I hope so, Sergeant, but we can't be too careful. They've been missing for two weeks." He leaned into the microphone. "Security to the Gateroom."
As the platoon of Security Force personnel poured into the room, Hammond made his decision. "Stand down my order, Davis, leave the iris open...and keep your fingers crossed."
Davis nodded. "Yes, Sir. Both hands worth."
When Major Samantha Carter heard the wailing of the alarm that announced an unscheduled wormhole, she immediately leapt out of her seat and headed to the Command Center at a dead run.
Teal'c was just starting to demonstrate a new defensive maneuver to his class of a newly formed SG team, when he first heard the sounds of the alarm. He immediately announced a break and ran out of the Gymnasium, leaving four surprised people in his wake.
When Janet Fraiser heard the siren, she immediately logged out of her computer, grabbed her stethoscope and penlight and dashed out into the clinic proper, calling out orders to her personnel. She knew that there were no teams due back until tomorrow. It was either a medical emergency or something unexpected. She was hoping for the latter. "Get the emergency room open; I'm going to the Gateroom."
Hammond was standing directly behind Davis, his hand unconsciously clutching the vinyl back of the sergeant's ergonomically correct chair. If this wasn't his two lost boys, it was someone it shouldn't be. He had ordered SG-1s GDO code changed after a week when O'Neill and Jackson had failed to make their rendezvous with Carter and Teal'c on P5E274. They had searched diligently for them. Then, just when they thought the two men had found their way home; something else had gone wrong. Instead, the travelers had been alternate versions of the men, fleeing their reality and the horror of their enslavement by the Gould, Hathor. At last, they had returned to their own universe, promising to send the correct versions of themselves back to their rightful place. But still their two lost travelers had not returned yet.
Something must have happened to them again. It seemed as if busted luck followed the two men. He some time back, he had once jokingly accused Colonel O'Neill of looking for trouble.
The Colonel had just grinned at him and replied. "George, if you walk in the woods long enough, sooner or later you'll find the bears." Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson seem to find more than their fair share of grizzlies.
Samantha Carter and Teal'c pounded into his viewing room. The Major skidded to a stop directly beside him. Teal'c arrived at his other flank moments later.
"Who is it, Sir?"
Hammond looked over at the anxious woman. "We don't know yet, Major, but whoever they are, they used ten chevrons to get here." He turned back to watch the Gateroom. The SFs were at their posts, in a semi-circle facing the Stargate, their weapons at the ready. He also made a bet with himself that a certain Doctor was standing just outside the lower room's blast doors, waiting as impatiently at they were.
"It's got to be them!" Carter breathed prayerfully.
"That is what we thought last time, Majorcarter." Teal'c's deep baritone reminded her grimly. "And, it was not so."
The whole of the SGC seemed poised on the edge, waiting for the wormhole to manifest itself into existence. Then, the plasma geyser exploded from its portal. The blue pool image appeared, then settled as if waiting for someone or something.
After an indeterminable wait, something green and rectangular popped out and deposited itself onto the ramp. Carter strained to see what the object was.
Then Teal'c spoke up. "It is a backpack."
"Is it one of theirs" she asked uselessly?
"I am unable to tell, Majorcarter. Unfortunately, all the SGC backpacks resemble each other."
"Yes, of course, they do." She admitted nervously.
The soldiers on the floor were getting antsy. The sergeant in charge glanced nervously up at Hammond, who was looking down at them. The General spoke softly into the microphone. "Steady on, men, hold steady. We don't want to shoot any of our own."
Hammond could hear the platoon sergeant speaking to his subordinates. "Easy, boys. Just keep cool. Easy does it." Another backpack emerged and rolled down the metal grid ramp.
Finally, there was a much larger disturbance in the plasma's surface. A heavily burdened figure carrying another body ran out of the Stargate's maw and appeared on the metal grating.
Staggering, the man went down on his knees and gently lowered the body he was carrying down onto the ramp still cradling it in his arms. Daniel Jackson looked around wildly and cried out in a loud voice. "HELP ME! Please, someone help me! He's dying...please!"
To General Hammond, the panorama seemed to freeze for just a split second before chaos broke loose. Daniel bent over Jack O'Neill's still form and appeared to be kissing him. But then, he realized that the man was giving his friend CPR.
"Get a Medical team into the Gateroom, NOW!" Before he finished his sentence, they could see the form of Doctor Fraiser bolting into the fray.
Hammond looked over at the young woman at his left side, and he could feel the tension in the man on his right. He looked down at the beehive of activity, and spoke into the microphone again. "Who is it, Doctor?"
He could see Fraiser look up from where she was working on the downed man, and peer closely at his red-faced companion. She turned and yelled up at him. "Sir, it appears to be the Colonel and Daniel. Request permission...."
"Of course, Doctor, do so immediately." He yelled back over the cacophony of noise in the embarkation room. George then looked at Carter and Teal'c, "Go on you two, she'll probably need your help."
When Daniel came out of the wormhole, he realized that Jack had quit breathing. He could almost say that he felt him stop in transit, but of course that was impossible. When he hit the fresh air of the other side, he had immediately laid the other man down and started CPR on his lover's apparently lifeless body.
Suddenly, there was a Janet Fraiser at their side, acting just the way she was supposed to, doing exactly what he had wanted her to do...fighting to save Jack's precious life. Then he realized that he was sitting on his butt on the hard metal of the ramp, watching as Teal'c and a male nurse picked Jack up and put him on an almost identical gurney as they had left behind. The nurse attached the same type of rebreather that the other Doctor Janet Jackson had only just removed moments ago. They pushed the table towards the very same door they had entered the Gateroom through. Wait, they were taking Jack. He had to go too!
But now, Janet was in his face. She was talking to him and shining that verdammit light in his eyes. He could hear her voice in his ears.
"Daniel? Can you hear me?"
He licked his lips; they were dry after the cold of the wormhole. He heard the voice again. "Daniel? Are you hurt?"
"What?" He wasn't hurt, Jack was hurt. Where had they taken Jack?
Janet was now directly in front of him, looking at him with concerned brown eyes. "Daniel, do you know where you are?"
He looked around the room. He was in the Gateroom, at the SGC...but which SGC? Was it the right SGC? He looked more carefully at Janet, and then Sam was there too. At least she looked like Sam, like the Major he remembered, but how could he be sure. "Sam?" He needed to know.
"Daniel, I'm right here." Sam was kneeling in front of him now, concern stamped on her face. "Daniel, do you know who I am?"
"Sam, is it really you?" He sounded like an idiot, but he didn't know how else to say it, not in English, or Egyptian or Abydonian. The words just didn't go together right, to ask what he meant...which was...are you MY Sam, from MY world. Is she MY Janet in MY SGC?" He must be still cold from the wormhole, he was shaking. But he didn't feel cold.
Then Janet was speaking at him again. "Daniel, sweetie, you're in shock. We're going to take you to the infirmary, okay?"
He looked back and forth between the two women. "Jack?"
Janet glanced at Sam. "Yes, Daniel, lets go see Jack."
"He was dying, Janet. Don't let him die!" Daniel felt strong arms and hands lift him up to a gurney. "Sam?"
"I'm right here, Daniel."
"Don't let him die, Sam." Then he felt a sting on his arm and...that was all.
He awoke in the familiar surroundings of the SGC clinic. The feel of the clean, stiff sheets stretched tautly across the firm mattress. The dull sting of an IV needle in his arm with tape pulling his skin. He began to sort out the smells, the cleanliness of the surroundings, the acridness of the disinfectants, and somewhere, the smell of coffee. He could hear the familiar sounds of the monitor beeping, the rustle of his stiff sheets and off in a distance, he could hear Janet talking. He tried to hear what she was saying and whom it was about, but couldn't make it out.
Slowly, he opened his eyes to the bright florescent lighting of the ward. He raised the hand that was still unfettered by needles and rubbed his eyes, blocking out the glare. Turning his head so he could look over in the direction of the voices. Janet was talking to General Hammond. He could begin to understand more of their conversation now that he could see their faces. "Doctor Jackson...shock, resting well" He could make out most of the words she was saying, ...O'Neill... complete...failure...well to resuscitation...monitoring... condition... suspicious...ation on upper back." Thank God, Jack was still alive. Obviously though, Janet was still worried. "...Jackson full recovery, The Colonel...stronger but still...ventilator. I just wish...caused this...no idea what happened." Oh, well, that he could answer if he could just get her attention.
Sam's voice spoke in his ear. "Daniel? Are you awake?"
Moving his head back the other direction, he ran into her worried blue eyes. "S'm."
"Yeah, Daniel." She smiled encouragingly at him. "You with me?"
"H'me?" He tried to decide if they had finally made it.
Her eyes looked shiny, like tears. "Yes, Daniel. You're home. You made it this time."
" 'ow know? P'oof?"
"You have an appendix scar, you wear the same style of glasses, you look like you." She chuckled. "Is that good enough?"
"I'm still a major, Daniel. You're home."
"J'ck? 'ow's J'ck?"
He's still unconscious, but we don't know why." Her look turned thoughtful. "Do you?"
"Mmhum, Kin'a. Jan't? Nee'a talk, Jan't."
"Sure, Daniel, stay awake for me, okay? I'll go get Janet."
Moments later, Doctor Fraiser and General Hammond were at his bedside.
"Daniel? Can you talk to me?" It was the Doctor.
"Jan't," He cleared his throat, it was dry. "J'ck?"
"He's still unconscious, Daniel. He was almost dead when you two came through the Stargate. He's stable but I don't know what's wrong."
"Ent'pic cascade fl'ur. Coma."
"Coma, yes he's still in a coma," then she got the first part. "Entropic cascade failure?"
He nodded weakly. "We'ken by staf bls," he tried to push the words out. " 'ad at'ck."
"But he had no wounds, Daniel. Are you sure?
"Sar'ka'f'gus. Ra's sship."
"You put him in a sarcophagus?" Sam asked.
Again he could nod.
Sam was talking now, putting Danielspeak into the proper words. "Janet, that discoloration on the Colonel's back...it was from a wound that was healed in a sarcophagus on Ra's ship."
General Hammond leaned in, speaking gently and slowly. "Son, you were on Ra's ship? But Ra's dead...isn't he?"
He lay back wearily on his pillow and nodded. "Here, now there." Forming his words carefully tried to explain, "Al-ter-nate-uni-verse. Ra 'live. Beat a'in." His eyes were beginning to close against his best efforts.
He could feel Janet's small cool hand on his forehead as he drifted gently, still hearing but not being able to gather the strength to talk. "So, the Colonel was shot with a staff weapon then suffered from Entropic Cascade Failure. That's what's wrong with him?"
He did manage a small nod without opening his eyes and felt the hand leave. Another one with long slender fingers picked up his hand and squeezed it gently.
"That explains it," Janet was talking again. "At least I have an idea of what I'm dealing with now. Thank you, Daniel." He heard her shoes snicking on the floor tile as she left his bedside.
"J'ck tr'd to die on me. Don' let 'im."
"Janet will do her best. He's tough."
He nodded, and then he felt a large warm hand on his forehead.
"He'll be fine, Daniel. Doctor Fraiser's got it now. You just rest so you get better too." General Hammond's deep voice assured him as he brushed the hair away from Daniel's forehead. It felt nice and comfortable and he was so tired.
Daniel emerged once more from the abyss of sleep to hear the clicking of heels and the squeaking of heavily laden wheels. Again he opened his eyes and he turned to the direction the sounds came from. His first view was the back of a broad, dark figure. Teal's had obviously relieved Sam and was now assisting the corpsman in placing the arriving hospital bed in it's proper location next to his.
He felt much stronger this time and was able to lift his head and watch the procedure of adjusting bed and getting everything hooked up. In a way he was pleased that Jack was still there to fuss over and yet, he hated to see his companion needing the extra attention and monitoring. But he knew that Janet wouldn't have brought him in here if Jack were not much better. Of course the last time he had actually seen Jack, he'd been almost dead and had been giving him CPR.
Finally, the orderly and Teal'c had the bed arranged. The medical person left on some other errand and Teal'c turned around to adjust his chair. He saw that Daniel was awake and watching.
"It is good to see you awake, Danieljackson." The big man smiled gently at him. "We were beginning to become concerned."
"I feel like I've slept a decade or two," he shifted in his bed realizing that he had a catheter and that it was uncomfortable. "How's Jack doing?"
"He is recovering slowly, but like you appears to be exhausted and sleeps the majority of the time." Teal'c glanced back at the sleeping man. "The entropic cascade failure seems to be very draining to your metabolisms."
He nodded, "My first attack certainly scared me. I thought I was going to die." Daniel replied thoughtfully. "Then the second one caused me to lose consciousness."
Doctor Fraiser had come to his bed and picked up the chart at its foot end. "Well, Daniel, I see you've decided to join us again." She hung the chart up. "What is this I just heard about you having ecf?"
"Oh, didn't I mention that earlier?" He now realized that he was in serious trouble. Janet was into some acute frowning.
"No, I would say you failed to let me in on that little unimportant piece of information." She picked up his wrist and took a pulse count, then pulled out her penlight. "So when did this happen?"
He shrugged trying to down play the importance of the incidents. "Several days ago, before we went to Ra's ship to rescue you and Sam...and the two other women."
"Rescue me?" She raised an eyebrow, "What was I doing on Ra's ship? I assume you mean my alternate in the other...place."
"Yes, uh, well it's kind of complicated." Daniel then realized that he getting deeper into trouble. He must not be thinking clearly yet. "Uh, in this universe, Jack was a General and Sam was his wife, I wasn't in the Stargate program. So, when the Beta site was attacked and Doctor Warner got Goa'ulded...."
Janet was looked at him in amazement. "Bill was Goulded? Where was I?"
"Uh, you were in New Mexico with Nick and I."
Jack picked this moment to groan and shift in his hospital bed. Janet immediately turned her attention to him. "Colonel O'Neill?"
"Crap!" He was beginning to move, hands first as usual, "Lights too bright, Doc."
"We'll turn them down in a minute, Colonel." She began fussing over him. "Lie still for a second and let me check you out."
He knew that voice...some version of Doc Fraiser was calling his name.
"Crap!" His head hurt like a son-of-bitch. He felt one and half times zatted then stomped on by a mastage. "Lights too bright, Doc."
"We'll turn them down in a minute, Colonel." She began to do the poking, prodding thing. Why did all Janet Fraiser's think he was their personal stuffed toy to be manhandled at will. "Lie still for a second and let me check you out."
Then, his hand that was trying protect my eyes from the light was grasped in the small, strong grip of the good Doc. Next, of course was... "Arrgh! Light, Doc." He swore to God, it was fetish with the woman.
"Okay, okay, I'm through. No obvious brain injury but evidence of photosensitivity." the hands were removed and the light over his head dimmed. "Colonel, do you know where you are?"
Now, with the questions. "Clinic." the classic no-brainer answer. Docs and clinics go together like love and..."Daniel? Danny!"
"He's right here, Colonel."
"Jack, I'm here. It's okay."
Thank God, Saint George and Saint Jerome for all the favors this time. Where the hell was he now. The last thing he remembered they were in their room and Daniel was feeling frisky. He, of course, was not objecting at all. "Wher'm'I."
"Colonel, you're at the SGC clinic."
" 'No'at. Which S-G-C?'
"You are home, Colonel. You made it back this time"
Some rustling sounds to his left, then a familiar hand on his chest. "We're home, Jack. We made it."
"Danny?" He knew that voice anywhere, anytime, any universe. He moved his hand to grab the other.
"Jack, we're back, really home. Stay still, okay?"
"kay." The hand left, pulling gently from his grip. "don go."
"I'm not, Jack. But Janet needs to check you out some more. I'm right here."
He heard a little bitching on the Doc's part about Daniel getting up. Then smaller hands continued to search and palpate the different parts of him. He began to doze again...feeling warm and comfortable for the first time in a long time.
When he awoke again Jack found that he actually felt human this time around. Carter was in one of those torture chairs, asleep, beside his bed. But if he looked just a bit farther over, he could see Daniel, sleeping the rest of the weary in his own hospital bed. That would have to do for now.
He must have made a sound as he woke. Carter stirred and sat up, rubbing her neck, then saw he was awake.
"Carter." Voice was definitely still in the crappy mode. He tried clearing his throat, but it didn't help much. "Wher'm'I?"
"You're back home, Sir. Back in your SGC." She smiled a happy welcome."
"How?" He don't even have a faint memory of anything after...Danny and he...oh, crap...
"Daniel brought you home through the Stargate. You were unconscious and pretty close to dead." she reached over and touched his hand. "Then he collapsed on the ramp while he was giving you CPR." Her eyes got all glittery with tears.
"Collapsed at the ramp? He brought us home?"
"It was close, for both of you."
He shifted and stretched trying to relieve the stiffness. "Carter...you have...no idea."
She sat with O'Neill for some time, filling him in on what had happened with the other Jaffa Jack and Beloved Daniel. He'd had no idea that the alternate Daniel had been so bad off. Of course by the time Jack had seen them, the pair had already been through Doc Fraiser's version of tough love for the sarcophagus addicted. The couple had been happy and healthy when they had left. Not to mention that he and Daniel had managed to de-snake their Carter too and she and the other Daniel were making up and showing all signs or reestablishing their filial relationship.
Carter was suitably impressed, evidently she'd heard her alter ego was so not a nice person. It also seemed that his Daniel had failed to mention his own medical difficulties. The little things like his actually dying in Hathor's hell hole. Jack contemplated giving up the goods on him but knew that it would result in Daniel's being tied down to a hospital bed longer than either of them wanted. Nope, Jack definitely wanted them back at his house together and soon.
Thinking of his partner, he glanced over at Daniel's bed. The younger man was asleep again, his face a portrait of relaxation and calm. Daniel always appeared angelic in slumber. It was impossible to see the razor sharp intellect and the tenaciousness that lived there in that deceptively innocuous looking face. But Jack knew them quite well, having experienced both personally. He also knew that they would have to work out some things with the younger man. He'd made a few promises that he planned on keeping and there were a few personal issues that he wanted to work out...and it would take both of their attentions to do that. What they wanted to do, where and when; that is if Daniel still wanted it...him, after all was said and done. They were after all back home now, where they were going to be held accountable for whatever they decided on doing.
He must have dozed off again, as he woke to the tap-tap-tap of Fraiser's high-heeled pumps. She must have been just about to get off duty as she had changed out of her sensible rubber soles and lab coat.
"Well, Colonel," she greeted his still sleepy brown eyes. "I think that by tomorrow I can release you from your captivity. Both you and Daniel are recovering well and only need to rest and recoup your strength. There's nothing really medically wrong with you. The problem seems to have been your universe hopping proclivities."
O'Neill stretched his long lean form in the bed and smiled up happily at her. "Thanks, Doc. Does this mean I can be unplugged tonight?" He smiled engagingly at her. "I promise I'll eat, drink, go to the bathroom all by myself and not bite any nurses."
She laughed merrily, as much in relief as at his comment. The two men had scared her spitless...again. She was pleased that he was strong enough to pester her with such trivialities. "Oh, I suppose that can be arranged. But you can't leave the clinic until your debrief tomorrow. Then I think General Hammond wants to give you some down time, at my suggestion."
Jack had known that he'd have to do a verbal report at least. He gave her a flirty grin. "If you let me have some paper, I'll even give him a down and dirty outline.'
She looked at him suspiciously, "O...kaaay, but don't go overboard. You're still supposed to be resting, but I know the General would like to see something from you."
"I can do it, an outline anyway. How about Daniel?"
She smiled, looking over at the still sleeping man. "Oh, I think he's been waiting for you to wake up to start insisting he's ready to go home." She looked back down at him. "He's been rather closed mouthed as far as talking about your adventures. Anything in particular you want to tell me, Colonel?"
O'Neill could only shrug. "I'll let you know, Doc. I need to get my thoughts in order." He spread his hands. "There's a lot to cover."
Janet nodded. "I'm sure there is."
All of SG-1 plus Doctor Fraiser was seated around the General's briefing table. Hammond was reviewing the mission outline that O'Neill had given just that morning.
"I must say, Colonel and Doctor; these reports are an interesting read to say the least. So you actually spent time in four separate alternate universes?" He flipped through the pages. "And they're all different from the other two we've already encountered and our own."
"All of them have similarities, General, but they do have significant diversions." Daniel answered. "Interpersonal relationships are altered; there are differences in technology and scientific advances and of course, in the survival of personnel."
"The first one you described in your reports, the two of you weren't even in the SGC anymore." Hammond commented, "The second one, Doctor Jackson, you were dead?"
"Well, he was there, just uh, ascended. Evidently he'd joined the Oma Desala set." O'Neill put in. "He did come back to try to send us back here, but Hathor's hell hole sucked us right in. I gotta tell ya, General, that was one of MY worst nightmare come to light of day."
"Indeed, O'Neill, from their reports that would be a most unpleasant place to be."
"Yeah, it was...but you came through for us again: T, you and the Doc."
"So you succeeded in defeating Hathor and freeing that SGC and Major Carter, I presume."
"Yes, Sir. It was Captain Carter there though. Hathor didn't push for promotions, at least our kind." O'Neill shook his head, "I think our counterparts were headed for a nice quiet retirement, at least, that's what they were talking about."
"Now this last universe you were in," Hammond pulled the final folder out and opened it. "This is actually the strangest from the three from our perspective, Colonel. You said this last reality had no contact with any of our allies or our enemies. How is that possible?"
"Well, Daniel was never hired by Catherine so they didn't open the Gate through his translations. They never went to Abydos; they never fought Ra." He shrugged. "It was weird."
Doctor Fraiser leaned forward. "But you said Doctor Warner was taken as a host...and I wasn't there."
Jack ducked his head and smiled to himself, then he pulled a straight face. Daniel was turning an interesting shade of pink. "No, you weren't there in the beginning, but you came when General O'Neill made a call to your husband."
She looked mystified. "My what?"
"Uh, yes," Daniel paused, trying to think of a way to say it properly. O'Neill glanced at Hammond and caught the General hiding a grin by looking down at the report. "Your counterpart was in the Four Corners area with her husband and his Grandfather on an Archaeological Dig."
"Wait a minute..." Fraiser looked at him curiously. "An archaeological dig? And who is...this paragon of archaeologists?"
"Well, actually, it's...he's Professor Daniel Jackson, a Doctor of Archaeology who teaches at the University of Chicago and is attached to the Oriental Institute. He was on sabbatical working with his Grandfather Nick Ballard on some Anasazi ruins in that area." Daniel looked nervously at Jack.
Jack smiled at the expression on Janet Fraiser's face. "He's a nice guy, Doc. A little geeky, you know the longhaired intellectual type. But when Ra snatched his wife along with Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill and the other two women, well, he just jumped right in there with the rest of us."
Carter looked at O'Neill with a bemused expression on her face. "Lieutenant Colonel Carter-O'Neill?"
O'Neill shrugged and gave her a little grin. "We've seen that before. She wasn't in his chain of command. Lieutenant General Hammond was over both of them, they were more co-workers than anything. My second-in-command was Colonel Kawalski. He also headed SG-1.
"Lieutenant General Hammond?" Hammond looked at them, bemused. "A three star in charge of the SGC?
"Well, actually Sir, O'Neill was. You...he was in charge of NORAD." He shrugged.
"But the SGC wasn't nearly what it is here," Daniel pointed out. "They'd only met a few races like the Tollan and the Edorans. They hadn't met the Asgard, the Nox or the Tok'ra."
"And if we hadn't shown up, they weren't gonna either. Ra was looking for a host...ess for his daughter, Bastet. He already had the other daughter, Sehkmet, in place. Between the three of 'em, Earth wouldn't have stood much of a chance. Then, they could of loosed Hathor too...and the whole happy family could have set up housekeeping right here on Earth again."
"Well, if Bastet was still to be chosen, who was Sehkmet?" Carter asked curiously.
Jack looked over at Daniel with a concerned expression on his face. The younger man frowned and took a deep breath before he answered. "It was Sha'uri." Daniel shook his head. "It seems that she had attracted Ra's attention and been taken first." He looked up across the table at the two women. "We did manage to keep Bastet from taking the other Daniel's wife though."
Doctor Fraiser's eyes met his. "Me?"
O'Neill nodded, and Daniel glanced back down at the table. "If Bastet hadn't chosen their Janet, she would have chosen Sam. Either way, it wasn't going to happen again."
Everyone sat quietly for a moment. Finally, the General asked quietly. "So all the Gould are dead now?"
Jack looked at him. "Yeah, that family anyway. There was quite a battle going for a while. Doctor Jackson decided she didn't want to play anymore and Kicked Ra in the nuts, their Daniel was killed when Ra bashed his head in on the altar. General O'Neill killed Ra...." He looked to Daniel to pick it up; he didn't have any memory of the next turn of events.
Daniel met his eyes and continued the story. "I had gone to find the rest of the prisoners, we came back and Jack was hit by a staff blast from Sekhmet. I was taking care of him when the O'Neills killed her and the Goa'uld that was Bastet. I had seen the sarcophagus by the seraglio so we took Jack and the other Daniel and revived them both." He shrugged. "We were clean up squad there."
"Yeah, when we left Abydos, O'Neill and his wife were trying to figure out how to fly Ra's mothership back to Earth." Jack looked at Hammond. "We really gotta get us one of those to keep, ya'know."
"What happened to Doctor Warner?" Fraiser asked thoughtfully.
"We didn't see him, so he's still out there out there." O'Neill waived his hands upwards. "But not here thank goodness.
Hammond shook his head. "This is unbelievable, but...I believe it."
"Yeah," It was downright exciting in some parts." Jack glanced at his other teammember. "We missed ya there, Teal'c. I suppose your counterpart was still working for Apophis."
"Indeed, that is most likely." He nodded his head. "I am sorry that I was not there to assist you."
"Yes, but we had the benefits of two Jack O'Neills." Daniel put in with a smile.
"And two Daniel Jacksons, even if the other one has a whole lot to learn." Jack returned easily. "He did get himself killed right off the bat."
"So did you."
"You were dying, that's why we put you in the sarcophagus. You wouldn't have survived that wound."
"Oh, well, then, thanks."
"Welcome." The two men grinned at each other. It was fun to tease again.
General Hammond knew that this meeting was at an end. There was much more to be learned but it could keep until his two men could get some much needed down time and finished their reports. After he dismissed the meeting, O'Neill stayed seated, and Daniel loitered by the door waiting for him.
"General, uh, George...I promised the General Hammond in the Hathor universe that I'd give you this. I really don't know what he wrote. We had joked about a note home, but I didn't think he'd really do it. Then, he gave it to me in a sealed envelope." He shrugged.
"Very well, Jack, I'll read it later, thanks."
"Sir," O'Neill looked askance at Hammond as the older man put the letter in his breast pocket.
"I'll read it later. Now, you and Doctor Jackson have a good week's worth of down time coming. Enjoy yourselves."
"Thank you, Sir." Jack got up to leave looking puzzled. "See you Monday." He walked over and joined this friend. As they left his office, George could hear Jack say to Daniel. "I knew I should have opened the letter."
Jack pulled his Ford truck into his driveway. Daniel had followed him, parking his silver sedan out in the street in front of the suburban house. The two men entered together and began the everyday tasks that were always waiting for a homeowner. Check the fridge for spoiled food. Check the pantry for possible food items. Check the closets for clothes.
Daniel had lived here on and off through the years, whether it was for several months at a time before his apartment, several weeks when recovering from an injury or just overnight recovering from too much pizza and beer. He had a designated room, bathroom and spot on the couch.
But these stays had always been innocent, fraternal and clear cut. Jack O'Neill was a man's man, a masculine force. Daniel himself, though of a kinder gentler image, had always considered himself unmistakably male. Their relationship had grown from respect to like to love over the years. Like all friends, they argued, fought and ultimately made up. The had slapped, touched, patted, rubbed, punched and carried each other from one adventure to another without qualms or hesitation. They'd cried, bled, peed and vomited in front of, with and on each other with equanimity. They all had. It was considered team, partner, friend and family right...hell, even Sam Carter had been in the mix as often as not. The four people that made up SG-1: Soldier, scholar, scientist and warrior accepted each other as entirely as any family could. Embarrassment was for social functions and formal meetings not for a field team that lived and fought and died together.
But, now, it seemed different. Unsure, Daniel had deposited his meager bag of belongings and medications in the guestroom that had his pillow in it. Maybe, it would be too weird, maybe not acceptable here. Daniel knew he loved Jack and was confident that Jack loved him. But he was no longer sure of the parameters that they had. Would they change, or just go back to business as usual.
He went into the hall bathroom and looked into the mirror. He looked the same. Oh, he needed a bath, a shave and a haircut and maybe he'd lost a little weight but the face that he'd looked at for the past thirty-six years looked right back out at him. Then a familiar shape entered behind him, and assumed an unfamiliar stance. Strong arms encircled the waist in the mirror and a well-known face was reflected behind and then beside his.
"Hey, what'cha doing?" The brown eyes met his in the mirror's reflection that looked back at them both.
"Putting my things away." He continued to look at the image. The double looked back then put Jack's jaw on his replicate shoulder. As he watched, the likeness nuzzled him on the neck and kissed his doppelganger's shoulder through the black tee shirt. "I put my gear in the guestroom, like always." He said gently, unsure of the response.
"If you want to be there...." the chin lifted off of him. He missed its pressure.
"I want to be where you want me." Daniel said softly. "I didn't want to presume anything... here." He took a firm hold of the hands that threatened to slip off of his waist and away. He held them and intertwined his fingers with theirs.
"You wouldn't," the eyes that held him looked at him sadly. "I shouldn't."
"If you don't tell me what to do, I don't know what you want." He forced the words out. Was he that needy? Yes, evidently he was.
"Well, we're home now, back in our reality..." Jack said after a deep breath. "Here things aren't easy or simple. It's really real. Not like those others."
"Are you saying that what happened between us wasn't really real?" His throat closed up and he felt the prickle of tears. Damn it! Stop with the tears! He neither wanted nor needed them right now. He just needed to know what Jack wanted him to do...to be.
"God, NO! Is that what you think?"
"Tell me what to think, Jack. I'll believe you. I just don't want to do it wrong."
"I don't think you know how."
That caused him to laugh out loud. "Uh, are you the right Jack? I mean you're not the General or the Jaffa are you? Maybe you're the one who lost his Daniel and you knocked my Jack on the head and came back with me...?"
"You mean the poor asshole that let his Daniel die? Or the idiot who got jaffa'd? Or the stupid one who married Carter, for crying out loud? Please, don't insult me!" The face in the mirror looked offended.
"How about the one who married and had kids?"
"Him, I'll allow...he had it all." Jack leaned back into the firm young body with the stimulating giggle. "I'm betting he's getting some of his Danny on the side anyway. The girls wouldn't have minded, ya know." He wrapped his arms around Daniel's firm, muscled middle. "No, I'm just your plain old vanilla Jack, the luckiest son of a bitch in this or any other reality." Finally he broke his hands loose from the younger man's grip. He grabbed the denim-clad hips and forcibly turned Daniel around to face him, then he pushed him back against the vanity.
Their eyes locked and he breathlessly leaned in. If Daniel even blinked he'd turn him loose without a word and go bang his head against the wall in the garage. But...Daniel didn't blink. The blue eyes stayed fastened on his, pupils dilating. The wide brow lifted and those full mobile lips parted. The tip of a pink tongue flashed out to moisten them. The stubborn jaw lifted slightly and the smooth column of the throat, now flushed pink, elongated up a little. Jack shifted his hands up the ribs, across the chest, over the beating pulse point and settled at the base of the skull.
Slowly and carefully, Jack fitted his left knee between Daniel's legs and pressed against him. As their lips met, a sparkle went through his whole body. He moaned into the trapped mouth. When the lean hard form beneath him pushed his groin into Jack's erection it was like an electric shock. The rough jean zipper rubbed against his khaki trousers, and some very talented hands insinuated themselves into his back pockets.
"Jack?" The voice seemed strained.
"Yeauh," his voice seemed rough.
"What? What do you want? You want me to stop?"
"You want me to go slower?"
"Huh-uh." A negative shake of the head.
He stopped and leaned his forehead against Daniel's, his hands finding a place at the base of the skull, thumbs fitted under the corners of the jaw. "Do you want me to..."?
The voice was breathless in his face. "I want you to take me to your room, and rip off these clothes, and use your hands and rub them all over me...all of me...and I want to feel all of you...on all of me.
Jack smiled and pulled his lover's body towards him, so tight that every inch of them fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle. "I can do that," then he kissed him again. He felt more than heard Daniel's groan into his mouth. He backed off for an instant, seeing the loss in the blue eyes. Pulling the hands out of his pockets, he backed away and brought Daniel with him, out into the hall and into his bedroom. Jack guided his Daniel to stand next to the bed.
Daniel stood there waiting for whatever Jack wanted to do to him. But he got what he had asked for. He happened to be wearing a light cotton short sleeved shirt with buttons down the front. The strong large hands of O'Neill reached to the first button and grasped the lapels then jerked, popping the buttons off from the placket and exposing a white cotton tee shirt. A little test of strength and the stretchy material also met its fate and exposed the expanse of smooth golden skin.
Next came the woven leather belt. It was unbuckled and the brass top button of the jeans was unfastened along with the zipper. This was done with a bit more care to not scrape the burgeoning erection that was exposed. The Boxers were fair game though and the snaps gave way without a fight.
Strong hands grasped the passive, needy body behind the neck and small of the back and Daniel was forced, pushed backwards until his knees hit the edge of the king-sized bed. He was carefully laid out on the mattress, arranged like a sacrificial offering by a highly motivated balancing act.
Next, Jack got the tennis shoes and the white socks that were pitched over to the corner where they bounced together into a heap. Then the jeans were pulled off by the ankle cuffs and allowed to puddle down at the foot of the bed. O'Neill stood at the bottom gazing down at the tousled feast that lay in front of him.
Quickly, he shucked his own clothing and then climbed onto the mattress beside his victim. Daniel lay passively, waiting with huge eyes and expectations as he watched his lover kneel beside him on the bed.
Jack smiled at him and said simply. "Be careful what you wish for, Danny boy...cause you got me...and I plan to do my damnedest to fulfill your every desire."
"Every one, Danny...and yeah, even that one." At the younger man's curious expression, he continued. "When we were in the General's bathroom, you came up behind me...and well, I gotta tell you, I've got enough mental baggage stuff left in me to fill a Greyhound bus...but I want to do things with you that...well, I never thought I would want to do with anybody. But you'll have to be a little patient with me on some of them...."
Daniel nodded, understanding and accepting it all. "Kiss me, Jack."
And he did.
Major General George Hammond sat down at his desk. He'd just finished a rather abbreviated debriefing of his second in command and his premier civilian employee.
They had given him a note from his counterpart in another alternate universe. He carefully slid his letter opener under the envelope's flap, opened the note and began to read it.
George I shouldn't have to tell you what outstanding people these two men are. They've been through a lot here and deserve all the help and support you can give to them. If your reality is anything like mine, you will understand when I say, don't notice too much about them.
My Jack O'Neill has risked everything; hell he's given everything he is to the good of the cause, his military and our world. Unfortunately, they'll take it all and still condemn him to suffer for his needs and wants. Jack and I will be retiring very soon. We are now a security breach and considered undependable and undesirable as service members. Maybe that's true. I don't really know nor care. It doesn't bother me as I was waiting to retire when I was given this assignment. Jack says he doesn't care because he was all ready retired when I recalled him. Daniel says he needs the time anyway and can get hired somewhere else. Jack says he doesn't need too, they're going to Minnesota. I dearly wish those boys well. The Good God I believe in knows they deserve it.
I did not see anything untoward that I can tell you about your two. What I did see was two men trying their damnedest to save me and mine; and apparently, you and yours. Give them every break you can, and if you're smart and lucky and unobservant, they'll stay and do a whole lot more good for the world they belong in.
But, I told your Jack O'Neill that I'd write him an excuse for their being late back to work. I hope that he will manage to get it to you without too much more interference from the dad-blamed Stargate. So, here it is.
Please forgive Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson for getting back to work late. They were gainfully employed in my universe saving my Command not to mention my Earth, defeating the false Goddess Hathor, saving a very special group of people from a fate worse than death and rescuing myself, my CMO and my Foreign Exchange Officer, Teal'c, from the dungeons of the SGC. We got them back to you as soon as we could.
Thanks for the loan; we really needed them when we got them.
Major General George Hammond
Commander, Stargate Command. (Retired)
PS get rid of that stupid cellblock on level 27...you don't really need it anyway.
George looked it over carefully, folded it and put it in his pocket. He wanted to take it home and put it with the other notes that he had saved. There was the one that he'd given Samantha Carter to give to himself in 1969 and the one that they'd gotten through the wormhole several years ago with Jack O'Neill's signature and blood on it. He was getting a sort of collection going.
As to this latest one, well, he'd file it in his personal papers. He'd decided not to ask Jack anything about his relationship with Daniel Jackson back several years ago when he had witnessed the return of the Space Monkee. Cause, after all, he couldn't ask...and Jack, well, Jack knew a lot of things that if he told you...he'd have to kill you. And General Hammond was not a stupid man.
After all, he had a 12 pound bass waiting for him down in Lake Falcon Texas with his name on it.