The Great Path

by Layton Colt

"Jack, if you're ever going to trust me -- now is the time."

Author's Notes: This is a tag to 'Maternal Instinct.' A possible explanation why Jack let Daniel go without a fight during Meridian.

Daniel walked out into the hallway, glad to finally escape the infirmary. The rest of SG-1 had been released after the usual post mission check up, but Jack had insisted Daniel get looked over more thoroughly. Pointing out Daniel had come into contact with an unknown alien entity, as well as being convinced he had the power to control objects with his mind.

He was still a little embarrassed about that. He should have known it wasn't actually HIM who held the real power. The priest had told him as much if he had only been listening. But his perceptions had been colored by his need to fulfill his promise to Sha'uri -- his need to have the means to protect the child, to be able to save the son of his beautiful wife had led him to believe he held the power within him. But he had been wrong. So very wrong.

"Do not believe you can light the candle, believe SHE can light the candle," the priest had told him. It had been Oma all along. He sighed wearily and ran a hand through his hair. At least the boy was safe. As safe as he could possibly be. Not even Apophis was a match for Oma. There wasn't a force in the universe he could imagine that would be able to best mother nature herself.

His thoughts went back to the moment Oma had touched him. Back to the flashes she had introduced to his mind. Flashes and whispers of metaphors he couldn't really understand. She had been trying to tell him something. But the only thing that had come through clearly was that they would indeed meet again. Oma had given him a glimpse of his destiny, and some how she and the boy were an integral part of it. Their fates were intertwined in a way he couldn't begin to fathom.

He hadn't told anyone what had happened to him when Oma had touched him. In fact, he had told them all rather empathically that nothing had happened at all. Everyone was already pretty much convinced he was crazy, no reason to give them yet more evidence to think he really did belong in a white padded room.

He entered his office and threw his jacked onto the couch. He collapsed down into his desk chair and slumped down. Then he heard the rather obnoxious voice of the last person he wanted to see.

"Yo, Daniel! You here?"

Daniel swiveled around in the chair so he was facing Jack. "Hello, Jack," he said warily.

"So, Frasier gave you the all clear, huh?"

Daniel smiled tightly. "After she ran just about every test in existence on me, yes. Thank you for that, by the way."

"Daniel," Jack drawled. "You thought you had super powers for crying out loud!"

Daniel rolled his eyes. "I didn't think I had super powers. I simply found faith."

"Faith? In what, exactly?" Jack asked.

"In something more powerful than us. We can become more than we are, Jack. We only have to believe."

"Now see, you're doing it again, Daniel. You do not have the power to light candles. It wasn't you, you said so yourself."

"No, I don't have the power. But something -- someone -- out there does."

"Daniel, it was an alien."

"I don't think so. Not in the way you mean." Daniel stood up, and started to pace. "Don't you see, Jack? She was human -- only she'd become so much more."

"How could you possibly know that, Daniel?" Jack demanded.

Daniel paused in his pacing and averted his eyes. "Because she told me."

"She TOLD you?" Jack asked incredulously. "She SPOKE?"

"Not exactly," Daniel said evasively.

"How did she not exactly tell you something?"

"She communicated it to me," he said finally. "She.she SHOWED me."

"Dammit, Daniel! You told us she didn't do anything to you."

"She didn't. Janet said I'm fine. Nothing's wrong, nothing happened."

"Don't give me that, Daniel. What did she do to you? What did she tell you?"

"That we would meet again." Daniel's voice held a whimsical quality that scared Jack.

"Really? Did she say when?"

Daniel glanced sideways a Jack, impatience flashing in his eyes. "You don't believe me."

"I believe you," Jack said. "I'm worried."

Daniel frowned. "About what?"

Jack went to sit down on Daniel's couch. "I'm not sure."

Daniel looked at Jack carefully. He was a little anxious about what he had seen in his future himself. He didn't understand it completely, but there was going to be a lot more darkness in his life before there was anymore light. He had the strangest feeling that the next time he saw Oma, he was going to have to leave a lot of his life behind. Leave his friends behind.

And somehow, Jack was feeling the same thing.

"I don't know when I'll meet her again, Jack. But when I do."

"What?" Jack demanded. "Tell me what the hell is going on with you, Daniel."

"I'm not sure! All I know is that I'm going to have to leave with her one day."

"Leave with her?" Jack asked. "Daniel, you belong here."

Daniel laughed. "I've never belonged here, Jack. Out there, through the Stargate, maybe, but not here. Of all the planets we've visited, Earth has always been the last place I belonged."

"How can you say that? I thought you'd made a life for yourself here now. I thought we mattered more to you than that."

"You do," Daniel said instantly. "But this matters more than all of us."

"What matters more?" Jack asked.

"What's going to happen, Jack. We have to let it happen. The time will come and I'm going to have to leave. I know it, please, don't ask me how. I just . . . I have to know that when it does.you'll let me go."

"How can you ask me that?" Jack demanded.

Daniel turned to Jack, and met his eyes. "Because I have to. I have to know that you'll be able to let me leave."

"I won't. You belong here, Daniel, with us. I can't do what you're asking."

"You have to. I don't know what will happen if you don't," Daniel said softly.

"You'll be stuck here with us is what will happen if I don't," Jack snapped.

"This is bigger than the both of us, Jack. We can't control what's going to happen -- the only choice we have is to embrace it."

"How do you know what's going to happen?"

"Oma told me. She showed me where my path would eventually lead -- what choice do I have but to follow?"

"I never saw you as much of a follower, Daniel," Jack snapped. "Make your own god damned destiny."

"It's not that easy, Jack. You know that it isn't."

"I won't let you go, Daniel."

"You will," Daniel said with certainty. "Because it's the right thing to do."

"Yea, well, not everyone is like you, Daniel," Jack said ruefully. "I'm not like you. I don't always do things just because they're right."

"Yes, you do."

The simple faith in that statement surprised Jack. Sometimes it felt as though he and Daniel had lost what made them such good friends . . . and sometimes it felt like that game they used to play, the insults they loved to trade, had somewhere along the line gotten cruel. It shook him to realize Daniel still trusted him as much as when he'd stood beneath the ring device and whispered, 'Wait for me.'

"We need you, Daniel. All of us do. You're what makes this -- everything -- here work. Even in all those other universes with all those brilliant Carters, without you, the Goa'uld still come."

"It isn't me, Jack. I'm not important. You can replace me easily, and we both know it."

"Then one of us is lying to themselves."

"Jack . . ."

"How many times are you going to do this, Daniel? How many times are you going to ask me to say goodbye before I can't do it anymore? Don't you realize how much I've lost already?"

Daniel looked over at his bookcase. He couldn't believe they were having this conversation -- that they were fighting over something that hadn't even happened yet. He wasn't even sure what WAS going to happen. Oma wasn't all knowing, she had told him that she wasn't. She only said she saw something in him, something that set him apart from the rest of his world, and set him on the same course she and her kind followed.

"If I tell you to let me go . . . will you let me leave?" Daniel asked quietly.

"Where will you be going?" Jack asked.

"I don't know. I have no idea."

"Then no."

"Jack," Daniel sighed. "Don't you believe in anything other than what you see?"

"No, Daniel, I don't. I'm a soldier. My mind doesn't work that way."

"It could, if you let it."

"You've lost me again, Daniel. You're starting to sound like that priest back at Kheb -- speaking in riddles."

"But I'm not," Daniel said. "I can see things so much clearer now than I ever could before."

"You sure the Doc gave you the all clear?"

Daniel shook his head again with impatience. "I guess it was too much to think you'd understand. You never do. You NEVER understand me. You never trust me."

Jack laughed bitterly. "Back to trust again, huh? What do you think that was today, Daniel? I put down my gun when facing off an entire army of Jaffa -- the only reason I did it was you. How much more trust could you ask for?"

"You didn't do it because I said to," Daniel snapped. "You did it because Bra'tac told you to. You've never been able to trust me, Jack. Not since the beginning. You don't even trust me to take care of myself."

"That's where you're wrong. It's only YOU I don't trust you to take care of. I'd trust you with anyone's life but your own. Your track record where your own safety and well-being is concerned isn't exactly stellar, Daniel. You've asked me to leave you in some castle about to collapse into the sea, you've run out to play prince charming and save the princess, you've played 'how much do you think it takes to piss of the Goa'uld' with just about all our favorite snakes. Gee, why wouldn't I trust you to have some common sense?"

"I've changed a lot, Jack."

"Considering that just today, you went to stand in front of a line of armed Jaffa with your hands in the air, I'd have to disagree."

"I knew they wouldn't get the chance to fire."

"How? HOW did you know? Try to explain to me what happened over there, Daniel, because I haven't got a clue."

"I don't either. But I trust in what happened, Jack. I trust who made it happen."

"What? You mean *mother nature?*"

"Oma Desala, yes. I learned a lot on Kheb, Jack. A lot about myself. I--" Daniel paused for a moment, a shy smile spreading across his face. "I released my burden."

"You're only confusing me more, Daniel."

"Jack, haven't you ever believed in anything without even knowing why? Haven't you ever had so much faith in something that you don't question?"

"No."

Daniel sank back into his chair, looking away in disappointment.

"Except maybe in you," Jack said quietly.

Daniel looked up in surprise. "What?"

"I do trust you, Daniel. I know it doesn't always seem that way -- but I do."

"Oh," Daniel said intelligently. "Well, then . . . okay."

"I know you're only going to do what you have to, just like always. I respect that about you, you know."

"No, no I didn't."

"Well . . . I do."

"Right. Um . . . I, you know, I respect you too."

"I know."

"Oh."

"I'm a very respectable guy."

Daniel snorted.

"I am," Jack said indignantly.

"Sure, Jack. I know that."

"Good."

"So, um, are we alright?"

"Yep."

"Things aren't . . . weird between us now?"

"Daniel, when have things EVER been normal between us?"

"Good point."

"I do have good points occasionally."

"Of course. Most respectable guys do."

Jack grinned. "Yep. We're a rare breed."

Daniel laughed and grabbed his jacket. "I think I'm going to head home. It's been a long day."

"Alright," Jack said. "Be careful," something about his tone implied he was talking about more than the drive home.

"I will," Daniel said firmly. "I always am." Daniel gave one last grin and then disappeared through the office door.

Jack watched the doorway for a moment, studying the place where his friend had been.

"Goodbye, Daniel," Jack whispered to the empty room.

The End.

Okay, NOW I'm going to go work on Stakeout. Really. Well, after Still Waters. And THEN, then I will finally get back to working on Stakeout.