Descending to Humanity

By Goody

They all knew it wasn't possible, knew it couldn't possibly be Daniel lying before them. He was ascended, energy now and was off doing good in the universe. But it sure looked like Daniel.

His hair was longer than it had been in some time and of course he wasn't wearing any glasses. He looked younger too. As young as he had looked when he first joined SG-1. He just lay there quietly, not making a sound and seeming to be sleeping so very peacefully.

"Colonel, what ..." Sam wasn't sure what to make of the situation.

"I don't know Sam." Jack replied, too shocked to remember protocol, "It could be a trick." He said, not sounding convincing.

"I do not believe so O'Neill." Teal'c stated, and everyone had to agree. It didn't feel like a trick. Somehow, it felt like Daniel.

"For now we'll take him back to the SGC. We can't just leave him here, whoever he is." Jack said, straightening painfully and favouring his shoulder.

"You don't think he's really .."

"I don't know what to think Carter, but for now I'm not taking any chances." Jack answered before she had finished.

Daniel showed no signs of waking and they realized he would have to be carried back to the Stargate. They wrapped him in a blanket to cover him up and headed back. Jack suggested they build a travois to carry him on since he may not wake up but Teal'c offered to carry the man, firmly believing it was Daniel Jackson and not caring how it may be so.

They walked at a surprisingly steady pace, eager to get back to the SGC and get the whole mess figured out. Sam forced the colonel to sit down and have his shoulder wrapped quickly before they set out, and gave him a few painkillers, but after that they moved swiftly. Jack refused to let his shoulder slow him down and Teal'c never tired as he carried who he somehow knew to be one of his greatest friends. Sam was moving on automatic, and had taken point, but was constantly looking behind her as if to assure herself Daniel was still there, which was in fact what she was doing.

"All right Carter, dial us up." Jack ordered when they had reached the Stargate. He looked back at Teal'c and Daniel and sighed, "We're gonna have sooo much explaining to do."

"That is unlikely O'Neill. We know very little about this situation ourselves, therefore explanations should be swift." Teal'c replied, and Jack couldn't argue with the logic.

{I just hope it's really you, Danny.} Jack thought to himself, and felt selfish as he did so. Daniel was better than mankind now, ascended, or had been, and Jack wanted him to come back. He missed his friend and didn't care what he would have to give up to come back to them. Maybe Daniel didn't care either.

The gate swirled to life and they made their way back to Earth, whole for the first time in over a year.

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General Hammond was slightly surprised when SG-1 returned through the stargate. They were just about on time, but the fact that four returned and three had left perplexed him. But not much, it wasn't totally unheard of for SG-1 to bring back new friends or people who needed their help. And from the way Teal'c held onto the young man they had brought back this visitor appeared to be hurt.

"Medic!" Jack yelled as he stepped through. His voice didn't give off an air of urgency, Daniel's vitals had been steady the whole way back, and he did just appear to be sleeping, but Jack still wanted him checked out.

"So Colonel, who have you brought ... My god." General Hammond was actually turned speechless when he saw exactly who had come through the gate with SG- 1. {I suppose it was SG-1 that came through the 'gate after all. Just, all of SG-1.}

"We can't explain sir, but we think it really is Daniel." Sam said, watching Teal'c load the unconscious man onto the gurney brought forth. Dr. Frasier arrived shortly after the gurney to assess her new patient and overheard what Sam said.

"Daniel?" She asked in confusion. She took a step forward and looked down. It was Daniel. Or someone who looked like him. She wouldn't trust that it was just yet though. Hell, once a robot had come through the Stargate who looked like Daniel and she hadn't been any wiser.

"Okay, I want a DNA scan, MRI, blood tests, everything." She ordered, "ASAP."

"Doctor, I want to know if this really is Dr. Jackson, and I want to know within an hour. And you three have a lot of explaining to do." General Hammond said, pointing at SG-1 then leaving the room.

"Told ya so." Jack gloated to Teal'c, and then followed closely behind the gurney, not allowing Daniel to leave his sight. The nurses were loading him into the elevator and Jack was moving to join them when he was stopped by Dr. Frasier.

"I know you want to go with him Jack but I'll need to examine him first and run some tests. You should probably get changed and showered first, and don't get your hopes up. I'll let you know as soon as I find anything." Janet assured him.

"I'm not leaving him. Besides, you gonna refuse a guy medical attention?" Jack rotated his shoulder and pulled up his shirt sleeve so Janet could see the bandage underneath.

"Why didn't you mention this?" Janet asked, not really expecting an answer. She sighed and motioned to the elevator, "Get in. But stay out of the way."

Jack just smiled and did as he was told, standing as close to the gurney as he could. {I'm right here Danny, I won't leave you.}

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SG-1 had changed and was being debriefed. They were all so eager to get out of there and down to the infirmary that they hadn't even showered. Jack had just come from there and was freshly bandaged, but knew as little as everyone else. Janet had locked herself away in another part of the infirmary with Daniel and he hadn't been allowed to see him or her before he had gotten called to debrief.

"That's it? You were surrounded by jaffa, there was a flash of lightning that . what, destroyed them all? Then another flash and he just appeared?" General Hammond wasn't too sceptical that that was what had happened, it was probably accurate word for word. But if Dr. Jackson had somehow returned to them he wanted a clear explanation as to why.

"That's pretty much it sir." Sam said, having recalled everything relevant.

But there was something else. "There was a voice, sir." Jack added finally, having kept quiet about it until now.

"A voice?"

"What voice?" Sam asked, having not heard anything.

"Before the lightning struck," Jack began, "There was a voice. It was only in my head. That is, I'm the only one who could hear it. It was Daniel sir." Jack paused briefly, "We were gonna die. There was no way out. He knew that, Daniel saved us."

"It does seem an act that Daniel Jackson would have committed." Teal'c pointed out.

General Hammond had to smile at that comment, "It certainly does Teal'c. But we still have no proof that this is even really Dr. Jackson. It could be a goa'uld trick, or some kind of impostor."

"He saved our lives. Whether he Daniel's or not." Sam pointed out.

"It's Daniel all right, at least physically." Janet suddenly rushed into the room, test results in hand.

"That was fast." Jack commented, but went unnoticed.

"His DNA matches up perfectly, as does his blood tests and fingerprints. The MRI scanned showed a few discrepancies but those do change over time, and it's nothing I wouldn't discount in a normal human. In fact, if the scans were exactly alike I'd be worried that it was some sort of trick." Janet announced.

"So, this *is* Dr. Jackson?" General Hammond asked, leaving no room for doubt.

"Physically, absolutely. Even his eyes are the same color." Janet announced. Daniel's baby blues were always one of his memorable features. "There's even an appendix scar, sir. He is Daniel."

"But where did he come from?" Jack asked, his voice much quieter than usual, and his gaze intense.

"I don't know Colonel. Your guess would be as good as mine, better even considering you were there when he returned. I assume anyway. To find out the answer to that we'll have to wait until he wakes up." Janet finished.

"When will that be?" Sam asked.

"There's no way to tell. He doesn't seem to be in a coma or truly unconscious. I think he's just asleep."

"Maybe we can wake him up." Jack suggested, rising from his chair and making his way to the infirmary. General Hammond called him back, but his heart wasn't in it.

Jack was done with talking. His best friend was back. Daniel was back. He couldn't just sit around talking about it. Besides, with Frasier and the rest of SG-1 being debriefed Daniel could wake up alone in the infirmary and he refused to let that happen.

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Jack wasn't sure how he had done it but after nearly twenty minutes of arguing he had managed to find himself alone in the infirmary, with only its lone patient as his company. It had been agreed that when Daniel woke up he would need to be talked to one on one, with no distracting background gawkers or well-intentioned loved ones. It would be Jack and only Jack that got to talk to him. He was the one closest to Daniel and the one most likely to be able to tell if it was the real Daniel Jackson. And he had a few tricks up his sleeve to find out just that. It had to be Daniel, because if it wasn't, if he lost Daniel again he didn't think he could take it. Not a second time, not so soon.

"Come on Danny, wake up. Show me that it's you." Jack urged. But even as he said this he reminded himself to stay impartial. He wanted it to be Daniel, wanted it so bad he could taste it, but he couldn't just downplay any obvious discrepancies between this man and the Daniel Jackson he had known. He knew it was him physically, but mentally could be a whole other matter.

Sitting back Jack watched the man intensely, narrowing his eyes and folding his hands. He emitted an impression of calm as he quietly waited but he was anything but. There were so many emotions swirling through him he thought he would bust, but he kept it well hidden. And in an amazing show of will he allowed only a slight intake of breath to be his only visible emotion as Daniel's eyes flickered open.



Daniel opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling. He didn't seem confused or tired even; he just opened his eyes and looked straight up. Jack couldn't find it in himself to speak. Long minutes passed until finally Daniel took one final breath and closed his eyes, as if in resignation. He then pulled himself into a sitting position and looked at the man at his bedside, the one who had been there so many times.

He smiled, "Hey Jack."

Jack couldn't reply, couldn't find it in himself to form words. It sounded like Daniel, god how it sounded like him. Everything was the same, but he had to be impartial. Had to be sure. It took him a moment to compose himself but Daniel seemed only too happy to give him that time.

"Not a delusion?" Jack finally asked, finding his voice.

Daniel laughed slightly and his smile increased, "No, I'm here. I'm really here." He said, mimicking the words he had spoken several months before. Jack only nodded, that much more convinced.

"Where ya been?" He asked, going for an air of casualty.

Daniel seemed to really think about the question, "I'm not quite sure. When you're energy you're kind of everywhere, but when I was whole and focussing on one place I was mostly here. With you guys. But you knew that already didn't you?"

Jack nodded again, "Yeah. I was just making sure I hadn't been imagining it."

"So, how you been doing? The shoulder okay?" Daniel asked, following Jack's casual attitude but seeing the current of emotions flowing in his friend. Jack put another point under the 'really Daniel' column for that last question. He was wearing a shirt that covered his whole arm, so there was no way Daniel could see a bandage from underneath it.

"Shouldn't you know? You've spend so much time watching us as you say." Jack wouldn't let his defences down; wouldn't let Daniel in, not yet.

"Yeah, I do unfortunately. I know you've distanced yourself. Not just from Quinn, but from Sam and Teal'c. But they've distanced themselves as well. I know what you've been doing, what you say and where you go, but I don't know how you've been. I didn't look inside you, I didn't want to intrude." Daniel answered. His eyes showed such honesty. He was being so Daniel.

"Well, not much in there anyway. So you've been watching. What have you seen?" Jack asked. {Come on Danny, proof. I need proof.}

Daniel just nodded, knowing what Jack was doing and willing to go along. He knew it would help Jack cope, and believe. "I've seen lots of things."

"Sneaking into the girls' locker room?"

"No, nothing like that." They both laughed, but it faded quickly. "I've watched you. I've watched you sink deeper and deeper inside yourself. You go to work and you go on missions and you go home and sit alone. Drinking beer and watching hockey. And most nights, no, every night, you go up on your roof and you look through your telescope, searching for something. For anything. And every night you go to bed disappointed that you haven't found it."

The depths of Daniel's words stung, because of their truth and Jack felt his eyes sting because of it. He quickly composed himself and quipped, "Well, you know, the neighbours started closing their blinds, so I'm missing out on a lot."

Jack slowly leaned in closer, looking Daniel over and meeting his eye

"Daniel, I need to know that it's really you. I need you to prove to me that you're back." Jack said this very slowly, making all his words clear.

Daniel saw the storm of emotions swirling in Jack's mind, could tell his friend would soon lose all control if he didn't come up with an answer, but on the top of his head he didn't quite know what would convince him once and for all.

"I don't know how I can do that Jack. It's me, it's really me. And I'm back. I'm not going anywhere this time. Look," He reached out suddenly and grasped Jack's hand, "I'm flesh and blood, I'm real. You can even throw your shoe at me if you like."

Jack couldn't take anymore and felt the first tear streak down his face. But he had to know, one last thing. "Why? Why are you back?"

Daniel gave him a look filled with both sympathy and confusion, as if he had been asked a question with such a simple answer, "Because, you needed me, you all did, and I said I'd always be there. Besides, what would you do without your Spacemonkey?"

That was enough for Jack. He leapt from his chair and embraced the younger man. Daniel returned the hug gently, with a deep, relieved sigh.

"I'm back, I'm not going anywhere. I'm here, Jack." Daniel said softly, assuringly.

"Thank you. Thanks for coming back." It was the most sincere thing Jack had ever said. The two broke apart and there was a comfortable silence for a few moments.

"I couldn't stay away any longer. I have things that I still need to do here. I realize now that I left too soon, and I had more to fulfill in this plane before I move onto the next." Daniel replied softly, but his voice didn't quite reach the same depths of sincerity as Jack's had. Jack seemed not to notice.

"Just don't plan on moving too soon. This plane isn't so bad, lots of people, good food, you can touch things." They both shared a small laugh at this and then silence fell again.

Daniel leaned back and took a long look around the room, taking in the chairs, walls, beds; all the same, but just a little different. He'd been gone for a long time, but it was good to be back. "Figures." He mumbled to himself.

"What?" Jack asked.

"I come back to Earth and the first place I go is the infirmary." Daniel smirked. Jack had to smile too. There was a long running joke about how much time Daniel spent here, he just never thought it would ever be continued. Never thought he would be so happy to have Daniel sitting in a hospital bed.

Jack stood up and reached out a hand to land on Daniel's shoulder. "I'm glad you're back." He said. Daniel knew he meant it, and could see the deep joy in his friend's eyes, and in the huge grin plastered on his face.

"Me too." Daniel replied, reaching out and embracing Jack once more.

"Good. Let's get you out of here. We'll go have ourselves a little reunion." Jack suggested as Daniel got out of the bed. The archaeologist was a little shaky on his feet at first but Jack quickly steadied him until he regained his footing.

"Thanks. This is gonna sound really stupid, but it's been a long time since I actually had to walk. It's . different."

"You're right, that does sound stupid. To anyone else it would anyway." Jack said, releasing him. Daniel quickly got used to walking again and picked up a pile of clothes left out for him and changed behind a curtain. When he came back out, he was Daniel. Long haired, innocent, SG-1 archaeologist, Daniel, now complete with SGC uniform. There was only one thing wrong.

"You wouldn't happen to have ." Before Daniel could finish his sentence Jack pulled a pair of glasses from his front pocket and passed them to him. "Thanks."

"No problem. Come on, everyone's waiting."

Daniel nodded, took a deep breath, and left the room. Jack followed shortly and moved to walk beside him. Noticing the tenseness in Daniel's posture he placed an arm around his shoulders. Daniel seemed to relax and gave Jack a gracious smile, then continued to walk toward the briefing room with a lighter step.

TBC

I didn't want to stop so this chapter's longer than the first. My prologues are usually quite short compared to other chapters. Once more my apologies if characterize or get any facts wrong, haven't seen most of season six. There's lots more to come, reunions and smarm galore and a little angsty H/C later on. Hope you'll all stick around and please R&R.