Author: Orrymain

Author Email: (Feedback welcome)

Author Website:

Category: Slash, Angst, Drama, Established Relationship

Pairing: Jack/Daniel .... and it's all J/D

Rating: PG-13

Season: 2

Spoilers: Nox, Enigma

Size: 78kb

Written: October 29-31, November 1-2,7-9, 2003

Archive: Area52, Comfort Zone, FanFiction.Net, Cartouche, AlphaGate, TheBoy

Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. This was a whim; all in fun. I don't have anything to do with them legally!

Summary: SG-1 is offered an extraordinary opportunity, to give their friends their ultimate happiness, but it comes at a price. Will they pay that price, and if they do, what happens to SG-1 and their future?


1) Story stands alone but does reference my fic, "Echoes of the Past"

2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: Michele, Drdjlover, Tina, StarShadow!


by Orrymain

"SG-1, you have a have a Go. Good luck!"

With a nod from their team leader, the four members of the SGC flagship team stepped through the Stargate to the planet designated P9X-418. From the gray monotone aura of Cheyenne Mountain, the team entered a world of blue skies, sunshine, chirping birds, and a strange but pleasant harmony that seemed to be literally singing in the wind.

To their left was a large river, the peaceful waters flowing gently. The air temperature was a comfortable 80 degrees.

"Well, all we need is the bluebird of happiness to fly by and this could be a certifiable paradise," Jack spoke with a touch of skepticism in his voice.

"You don't like this paradise, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked as they gathered together several yards in front of the Stargate.

"I don't trust music that sings through the air. What the heck is that? Carter?"

"Sounds like ... singing, Sir ..."

A loud thunderous noise interrupted the Air Force Captain as she spoke. SG-1 looked up and all around, trying to find the source, but they saw nothing unusual. The noise grew louder until they all put their hands over their ears, their bodies responding to the deafening sounds. Seconds later, a large transparent blue light appeared and slowly enveloped each member of the team, one by one.

Sam was the first, and once the light completely surrounded her, she fell to the ground.

"Sam," Daniel called, urgently trying to get to her but being held back by an unseen force.

Teal'c was the next to be covered and he, too, passed out after a few moments.

"Daniel, get out of here, back to the Stargate," Jack ordered, but seeing the light moving in on his lover, Daniel hesitated.

"Jack ... run," but it was too late, the Air Force Colonel falling to his knees, screaming as a clap of thunder struck without warning within the cloud.

Daniel struggled to move, until finally the strange light covered his own body.

"Jaaaack," the young man cried out, as he lost his battle to stay conscious.


Daniel awoke feeling surprisingly serene. He was on the ground and yet it hadn't felt uncomfortable. He surveyed his environment, assuming the canvas looking material that formed the walls of his shelter was a tent, but when he tried to get out, he realized the fabric was unmovable. He tried lifting it, cutting it, and just pushing it aside, but all the fabric did was ripple a bit.

Finally, Daniel sat back down on the ground, again noticing that it was unusually comfortable. He wondered what had happened to his friends, and his heart especially ached for his lover. He felt cut off from the rest of SG-1, and yet, that serene feeling kept him feeling hopeful and content.

It was several minutes later when a tingling sensation began to flow through Daniel's body, and then it evolved to a warm calm, again serene, peaceful. His mind began to wander involuntarily through his life, as if he were drifting through time. He didn't want to watch this "rerun" of his thirty-something years, but he was unable to stop it. He was surprised that he wasn't anxious or afraid, but rather, he felt relaxed.

His mind journeyed through the decades of his life ...

The little boy eagerly watching the scientists work at the dig sites, helping by bringing them tools and books.

His mother singing him lullabies at night.

His father carrying him on his shoulder as he walked along the dig perimeters.

"My Little Pharaoh."

Listening happily as his parents excitedly discussed the mysteries of the Pyramids, debating on their origins, and the lifestyles of Egyptians.

Seeing the cover stone fall and hearing the screams of his dying parents.

Hiding alone in the corners, no one caring.

"I am sorry, Daniel. My work is too important, but you will always be my grandson."

Watching his foster siblings go to birthday parties, making Valentines, going Trick or Treating while he stayed behind.

Being the last one picked for teams in school.

"No, we can't adopt you."

Mocking laughter, "Look at the four-eyes!"

"Give me your lunch money now or ..."

Being beaten up and bullied ... in elementary, high school and college.

Skipping grades, outshining his peers, being teacher's pet over and over.

Recognition of achievement and merit.

Watching as his fellow Archaeology classmates went to sorority parties, football games, dates while he stayed behind and read books.

Sarah, using him to gain recognition for herself, cheating on him with Steven, joining with those who bullied him when he refused to go after power when she wanted him to.

The beauty and majesty of the Pyramids, being awed and inspired.

Realizing the secrets of the Pyramids, the thrill of the discovery.

Being laughed at by Academia, losing the respect of his colleagues.

Being alone, penniless, not knowing where he'd go next.

Catherine's faith and belief in him.

Jack O'Neill, stern, unfeeling, the Colonel, no ... Jack, in pain, needing a friend just as he did, no ... Jack, his friend, best friend, touching, teasing, smiling, no ... Jack, lover, partner, forever ... Jack ... love ... Jack.

Sha're, mystery, intrigue, beautiful, gift, obligation, love, caring, responsibility, warm, beautiful trusting Sha're.

Jack ... Jack ... "We'll get her back."

Sha're giving birth, conflicting emotions, love, caring, wanting, needing, desire to save her, helplessness, hope ... guilt.

Jack ... dress blues ... Jack ... "Space Monkey" ... love, passion, heat, want as he had never felt before, trust, faith, "Forever and Always, I love you."

Suddenly, there was a gentle breeze as the sensations stopped, and Daniel realized he had control of his thoughts again. He sat confused, uncertain, and also angry at someone ... or something ... for having invaded his memories.

Daniel again tried to exit the enclosed space, but the fabric remained firm. Defeated, he sat down and asked aloud, "Jack, where are you?"


Sam awoke and found herself alone. She called out for her teammates, but heard nothing in response. She carefully looked for something to use as a weapon, but didn't see anything of use. There wasn't much in her hut-styled environment except for some scarves and short panels that hung from the top.

She felt the same peace Daniel had, and noticed that everything she saw was a calming blue or green in color, including the canvas which was a sky blue color.

She paced the length of her "tent" when she felt something force her to the ground, placing her in a seated position. Sam felt her mind being accessed, with memories flooding involuntarily through her consciousness.

Moving around a lot as a child.

Her mother's beautiful voice.

Playing with her Major Matt Mason dolls.

Her parents fighting.

Her mother's unending support, "You can be anything you want, Darling."

Excelling in her studies and recognition of achievement.

Her mother's death.

The distance of her father.

The Gulf War, the fighting, the tragedy, the success.

Her promotion to Captain.

The excitement of the mysteries of the Stargate.

Being close, so close at solving the mystery.

Being rejected for the first mission and forced to stay at the Pentagon.

Having to prove herself over and over.

"But, Sir, I've been working on this for a full year."

"He solved it in two minutes?"

"Jack O'Neill, another egomaniac male."

Walking through the Stargate for the very first time.

"Dr. Daniel Jackson, wow, cute, genius, oh yeah, I could like him ... shucks, he's married."

"Teal'c, strong, powerful, commanding, wondering what it would be like to ... no, scratch that."

"Jack, not so bad, just loud, and very handsome."

Working with three teammates who were respectful, caring ... trust, love ... family.

Envying Daniel's ability to "think outside the box."

Stranded in Antarctica, cold, frustrated.

Her father dying of cancer.

The Tok'ra miracle, reunited with her father, the distance not quite so far anymore.

Martouf, goodness, love?

As the sensations ended, Sam was shocked at the experience, "Holy Hannah, what was that?"


Teal'c awoke to the relaxing feel of the area that entrapped him. Even his strength could not move the fabric, and he, too, was forced to the ground, his mind coerced to relive one hundred plus years of agony and slavery, his father's death, the helplessness and necessity of being First Prime to Apophis, the pride of being First Prime, of being gifted with a house, the love and beauty of Drey'ac, the honor and respect of family, of his son and his birth, the faith and learning from his mentor Bra'tac.

He relived meeting the Tau'ri of SG-1, trusting Jack O'Neill, guilt at having brought such tragedy to the life of Daniel Jackson who miraculously forgave Teal'c for everything he had done, the beauty and intelligence of Samantha Carter, the respect and command of Major General George Hammond.

Decade after decade of Chulak, being a warrior, fulfilling obligations, the duty of a family, the bravery of being a traitor -- the sholvah, the friendships of his new family, being reunited with Drey'ac and Ry'ac ... over a hundred years worth of recall played through his mind, the Jaffa unable to stop it until the strange warm sensations ceased, leaving him to silence and to ponder what had happened.


"Oh, for crying out loud, either show yourselves or let me out of here," Jack bellowed.

He had been trying with no luck at all to free himself from his confines. Like Sam, he had immediately searched for weaponry, but having found none, Jack memorized every inch of the tent-like area he was in, making note of each item present, though there wasn't much.

Within minutes, Jack was pushed by an invisible force to the ground and placed in a seating position where he relived the highs and lows of his life, witnessing events he didn't care to remember over again.

From his happy childhood and memories of his family, to his Air Force career, including the decision to enter Special Forces and his promotions, to his own family with its joys and its sorrows that peaked with Sara's announcement she was pregnant and ebbed with the sound of a gun blast, to his rejuvenation via the Stargate Program and his love for Daniel Jackson, Jack's memories vividly played through his mind, his soul wanting to grieve for the losses but his heart strangely tranquil throughout the recall.

For each member of SG-1, it was if they actually relived every moment of their lives, each joyful bliss and each stressful pain. Yet, each moment had only been ... a moment, a flash of actual time. Decades passed in only a handful of minutes.

The thoughts had flickered through each of them and when it was done, each felt a renewal, as if they had been cleansed. Shortly after the end of the life cycle recall, each had laid on the ground, finding it oddly comforting, and had fallen asleep.


Jack found himself surrounded by clouds, as if he were standing still in the blue sky with the fluffy white puffs all around him. Then, he heard a voice speak.

"There is light in the darkness, just as there is darkness in the light, is there not?"

Jack winced, "Listen, whoever ... or ... whatever you are, you're speaking to the wrong person if you're going to start that philosophy mumbo jumbo."

"The scholar is fast becoming a warrior, but has the warrior learned that some battles are fought in the light and not in the dark?"

Jack flinched, wondering if the voice was actually referring to Daniel, and if the voice's comment was a reply to his own prior statement.

"Huh? Look, like I said, you're talking to the wrong guy here," raising his voice, "Where is my team?"

"You are concerned about the scholar. He is whom you believe we should be speaking to."

Jack looked around, not liking the situation at all. He repeated his question sternly, only this time, he made it an order, "My team -- I want to know where they are -- NOW!"

"Your Daniel is safe. Your team ... they are all safe. Do you not understand the importance of acknowledging the darkness of the light? Do you not see that the lightness of the dark can deceive as well as brighten the path?"

Jack shook his head, "All I see is a blue sky and some clouds. Try speaking English."

"Your son is your pain, Colonel O'Neill."

Jack paused, unprepared for the mention of his son.

"He is your light and your dark. Do you not see the confusion?"

Jack said nothing, not understanding, and not caring to get into a discussion about his deceased child.

"Jack O'Neill, we can give you that which you desire above all else. It is no game, no ... joke as you call it. You can have your son, your life back as it was."

Jack bobbed his head up and down as he looked all around him, "So where's the camera?"


"I thought maybe we were on Candid Camera."

"We do not understand that reference, but what we offer is genuine. Your life, as it was, and beyond, is yours, for the taking."

"Yeahsureyoubetcha. And what's the price of this ... gift?"

"All things come with a sacrifice. We can undo the moment, the tragic decision that caused your fate, but if you do, the timeline changes."

Jack thought to himself, "Daniel."

"That is correct."

Jack looked up in surprise at the sound of the voice.

"All will be as it is. You are a Colonel, married, with a heathy son. Your life will have continued, with all the happy memories and experiences since that moment when your son opened the drawer. Even the Stargate exists. Your teammates ... none of that changes ... except for the relationships and ... the natural order."

"Natural order?"

"Your life is happy. You and your family. Your career is all you dreamed. The natural order."

"And Daniel?"

"Daniel is a friend. He is on your team."


"And it is as it was on Abydos, the first time."

"He's alone. Sha're?"

"All that happened, happens."

"Then he'd be alone?"

"The natural order."

"Look, this is crazy. You can't do any of this."

"It will be done. What is your decision?"

Jack fidgeted, paced the clouds, smiled at the memories he had of Charlie, Sara's beauty, the happiness the three of them shared as a family. It had been wonderful, their life together. Then he thought of Daniel, how he loved him. Could he give up that love to go back to a happy life that would have continued had Charlie not found his gun?

For a moment, Jack thought he could, but he loved Daniel too much, and knowing Daniel would be alone if Jack let it happen caused Jack's heart to stop beating. How could Jack abandon his lover to such a lonely fate?


"There will be no more chances, Colonel O'Neill. Surely your family is worth a change of the natural order."

"He'd be alone, still living like an abandoned child. No, I won't allow that, not just ... no. I ... I can't forget him. I don't want to. NO!"

"Very well. You have one more chance. One more decision to make."

"Fine. What now?"

"Daniel's greatest pain is the loss of his parents. We can give him his timeline, if you are willing to meet the sacrifice."

Jack flinched, wishing whatever nightmare he was in would end.

"Sweet," Jack responded skeptically, "What sacrifice?"

"He can have all he desires. His parents, a happy childhood, parties, birthdays, family trips, a brother and a sister. There would be no emptiness. But his path, his natural order, would change. There would be no Stargate for Dr. Jackson. He would not be on your team. And ... your natural order would be unchanged except for the impact on the Stargate."


"Your natural order would not be changed."

"But Daniel ... he'd ... be happy?"

"He would have all he dreamed of as a young boy."

"There is no more time. What is your decision?"

Jack closed his eyes, remembering all the pain and tragedy of his lover's life. If he went along, Jack would be miserable. His son would be dead, and he would be dead ... because he would no longer have his heart, his Daniel.



Daniel stood in the clouds when he heard a voice in front of him, speaking calmly to him.

"Is it not true that in desire there is need, and in need there is desire?"

"Yes, I suppose so. Where ... Where am I?"

"Everywhere ... anywhere."

Daniel saw several shimmering circles of images all around the skies. He pointed to them, to the images of himself and his family and friends, "What is ... I don't understand."

"You see the portals? Your Colonel did not. He sees only black and white."

"Yeah, well ... Jack ... he's military."

"His vision is limited, as is that of your friends. They do not allow themselves to see the strands of the portals without assistance."

Daniel wasn't sure what to say, or what it really meant, but he was curious about the images, "What are they?"

"They are portals, each part of your life, what was, what is, what could be."

"No thanks. We've been through this before."

"No, Dr. Jackson. Our friends, The Nox, are right. The human race is quite young, perhaps too young, and yet we see ... potential even though you do not yet comprehend even the most fundamental aspects of time. Still, we see something in you which gives us hope for your future."

"Time? What do you mean?"

"Time is like a fabric with a multitude of strands in which the journey takes place."

"Alternate universes. We've done that."

"No. You do not understand."

Daniel sighed, "Omak."

"Correct. The Tollan tried to show you, but your mind is too limited, but I assure you, these portals are true and real. They are your natural order within the strands of time."

Daniel felt sad and lost. He had no idea what the voice was saying, anymore than he had understood what Omak had tried to explain about space.

"Sit, Dr. Jackson."

"Sit? On what?"

The voice smiled. Daniel thought that was odd. How could he see a voice smile? Yet, that is what his mind and eyes told him had just happened.

"Broaden your mind. Movement along the strands is simple. Use your mind. Sit."

Daniel shrugged. He had to be dreaming, so he decided to play a long. He reached out, pulled over a cloud, and sat on it, and again, he felt the voice smile in approval. He also felt even more comfortable than before, the cloud soft and pleasing to his body.

The voice, steady and with conviction, began to speak again, "Your worst moment was watching your parents die. Your unhappiness stems from that one event, and the abandonment that followed. It is your pain."

Daniel winced, the dark memories dancing through his mind. He'd been working hard to leave those recollections behind.

"Your happiness," the voice spoke, "is still in the distance, but your peace, your current contentment, it comes from ... Colonel O'Neill."

Daniel startled, not prepared for that acknowledgement.

"We make you an offer, Dr. Jackson. The expansion of time is yours for the taking. But to gain, you must sacrifice. The contentment of today gives way to the happiness of the little boy. You must sacrifice your Colonel ..."

"No! How dare you threaten Jack ..."

"We do no such thing, Dr. Jackson. All are safe. All will be safe. We do no harm. By sacrifice, we mean the natural order along the strand shifts. It goes back to what was."

"I don't ... understand."

"We offer you your childhood. The cover stone is put into its place. Your parents take you to Zoo, on the park rides. There are more archaeological digs, more Pyramids to visit. There are holidays, your first date, working with your father on projects. You parents have more children. Your childhood evolves into adolescence and into adulthood, together, with your family, all in the natural order."

"The Stargate?"

"Not for you. You work with your parents and siblings. The Jackson Exploratory Society, very respected, very well known. It is the natural order of the strand."

"Jack," Daniel said softly to himself.

"He lives his natural order ... without you."

"Sara and Charlie?"

"The natural order was preserved. That cannot be changed."

"He ... hates the world?"

"He hates himself."

"Does he ... I mean ... would ..."

"His natural order would continue. You would not be there to affect change."

Daniel studied the clouds that surrounded him. His heart was heavy as he considered Jack's fate.

"Time does not wait. The strands call. What is your decision?"

Daniel loved Jack. There was no way he would selfishly leave his lover to a miserable existence, or worse, just for his own happiness. How could he sacrifice Jack for himself? Besides, Jack was his heart ... Daniel didn't think he could survive the loss of Jack's loving presence.


"Very well. We offer you one final alternative. It is the only other movement in time allowed."

Daniel fixated on the clouds, wishing he could float away like they were.

"Your Jack can have his natural order, before his son's death. His life with his wife and child would be preserved. They would have three more children. Charlie would grow up. All things would be in the natural order. The O'Neill's would be as they would have been before the accident."

Daniel didn't want to ask the question, so he didn't, but the voice answered it anyway, "And you would go on as you were. Your timeline would be as it was. Abydos. Sha're. She would be lost to you. The Stargate exists. You would still be a member of SG-1, but Jack O'Neill is but a leader, perhaps a friend, but no more."

Daniel closed his eyes, as the voice continued, "You would do as you did before. You earn two more PHD's. Study comes easy for you."

"I guess I'd have lots of time to ... read."

Daniel was self-hugging, as tight as he could. How could he deny Jack the chance to undo his pain?

"Your decision, Dr. Jackson?"



"Captain Carter, you must make your choice now. You can achieve your greatest desires, be respected, treated as an equal, and your mother will not have died. But you must sacrifice as well. The Stargate will not have existed for you. You would not have been part of SG-1. You would not have been there to pull Dr. Jackson out of the way when the Jaffa began attacking on Abydos. The timeline, the natural order will revert to its path, a path where Teal'c would not choose to listen. The price would be high, but you, you could have your natural order."

Sam sighed, but this one was easy. She could never sacrifice Daniel's life and Teal'c's freedom for her own welfare.

"I choose to change nothing."

"You have another chance, Captain. We can give Teal'c his freedom, his life on Chulak, the Jaffa free. His wife and son would be at his side, living with honor. You could give Teal'c and all Jaffa their freedom and their families, if you sacrifice."

"Sacrifice what exactly?"

"Your natural order. The fabric of your time takes you along another path, one outside the SGC. You do not join the Stargate. All that has happened since, would not, not with you, but with others, others to gain the glory, others to have their family saved."

Sam stepped backwards, "My father?"

"It is a great sacrifice."

"How can you ask me that? Who do you think you are to ask me to choose between my father and an entire race?"

"It is the strands. Only you can decide if one is worth many, or if many is worth one."

"Your decision?"

"You can't do this."

"We won't ... the decision is yours. Teal'c, his freedom, his family ... and those of all Jaffa ... they are in your hands."




"You have refused to alter the strands of your time, giving up personal gain, that of your family and son, for that of securing the current fabric. By doing so, you have safeguarded your friend, Captain Carter. Her place in the universe, and that of her family's, is unchanged, but we offer you one more layer of the fabric."

"Indeed," Teal'c responded skeptically.

"We can give Captain Carter her natural order with all she has desired ... her parents alive, together, her brother and his family part of their every day existence. Respect, caring, love. She will find happiness with Martouf of the Tok'ra. She will, as the Tau'ri say, have it all -- career, family.

"Her natural order will make her a General, with four children, homes on many planets. She will be a leader. She will outshine anyone who might compete with her. She will have all she dreamed of as a young girl."

"And the price?"

"Your freedom. Your natural order will revert to Abydos. You will be First Prime of Apophis, forever hoping for what you now have. Your freedom for Captain Carter's deepest wishes."

"She would do great things as a leader, and as a mother."

"Yes, and her children with Martouf would affect the world beyond what is present now in the timeline. They would be leaders in their own right, giving the Captain more pride and pleasure than her dreams are capable of envisioning."

"Your choice?"

"I agree."


To each, after their final decisions, the voice spoke, "There is no turning back, no second chances. The sacrifice is permanent. You will have no good-byes, no possibility for recreating what you now have in the natural order. Life will be as it is in this portal," a force drew each to the shimmering circle of the new chosen path.

A minute passed for all as they watched their friends in their new lives, the smiles and laughter, the peace of their souls.

"This will be the fabric of your forever. What you say now seals your fate in the strands. Do you wish to follow the natural order of this portal?"

"Yes" was the unanimous answer.

And then each went back to their slumber, the skies and the clouds gone, the voice quiet. They dreamed of their lives, the good times and the bad times. When they awoke, they knew everything would be different.


Daniel awoke, feeling sad. The serenity was gone. He was alone now. The next time he saw Jack, life would be different. Jack would be the father of not just Charlie, but others. He'd be talking about his anniversary with Sara, not the upcoming anniversary with Daniel.

The young man suppressed the tears that threatened to fall. He let out a sad laugh thinking about what the voice had said ... that he would be getting more PHD's.

"It's all I have now," he whispered, his heart heavier than it had ever been, the ache unbearable.

"Goodbye, Jack. Gawd, I love you," Daniel said, as he prepared for the painful reunion he knew would come soon.


With a sudden burst of yellow light, Jack realized SG-1 was back at the Stargate, but they were all separated by several yards. He caught the images of Sam and Teal'c, each walking slowing, unsurely to where he stood. He did not see Daniel, but then, Daniel wouldn't be part of the Stargate Program any longer.

Jack prepared himself, but he felt empty. He'd go back to the SGC and home to nothing, and then he would become nothing, but he had no regrets. His love for Daniel was stronger than anything Jack had ever felt before, so as he stopped his natural order, Jack took solace that his one-time lover's life was all he had ever wanted.

Jack closed his eyes, remembering all those times he prayed and even said out loud, "If I could change it Danny, I would" and now, Jack realized he had been given that chance, and for once, Jack knew he had done the right thing. His Daniel would be happy, and that is all that mattered to him.

As his teammates merged, Jack realized they weren't who he expected. He didn't recognize them at all, and yet they spoke like he knew them.

"Mission accomplished, Colonel," a strange blonde woman spoke.

"Let's get out of here. I've got a hot date," a tall, rugged looking man said with laughter in his voice.

Jack nodded, and two minutes later he returned to an SGC that was foreign to him. He looked around and didn't recognize a soul. He didn't think much about it, and just went about his business, waiting for the debriefing to begin.


General Bauer briskly entered the room, with Major Samuels at his side.

"Colonel O'Neill, after this briefing you will coordinate with the new 2IC of this facility. You will report directly to him from now on."

Jack nodded. He didn't really care what his position was in this new existence of his.

"Colonel Maybourne will be waiting for you in his office. Your first task is to work out the attack on Chulak."


"Yes, Colonel. We want to follow up the success of the Andraji Mission with a quick kick to their flank. Chulak will be the perfect place."

"Excuse me, Sir?"

"Colonel Maybourne will have all the details," the General turned to the blonde and addressed her, "Captain Tobias, report."

"General, the bomb went off as scheduled. Andraji was completely destroyed. No survivors. No residue. The new Naquadah Plus elements worked completely as expected."

Jack looked stunned. Andraji was the planet they had just been on. It was the world that had forever changed their lives. It was peaceful. There was no reason for the destruction.

"Very well. If there is nothing else ... dismissed."

Jack fled quickly to his office, which he eventually discovered had moved one floor down and was much smaller. In it, he reviewed the history of the SGC. Life was nothing like it had been.

The Tau'ri had decided that to protect Earth, they had to fight offensively. The war with the Goa'uld was fierce, and the cost had been high. As he reviewed the events, he realized the single factor that had changed the timelines ... Daniel Jackson.

Daniel hadn't been there to stop Jack from destroying Abydos. He hadn't been there to talk peace on the new worlds they explored. They had not gone to the Land of Light because Daniel hadn't tried to convince them that scientific study was as important as defense. The Tau'ri never cared about studying the Broca Divide because Daniel hadn't been there to insist on it.

Daniel hadn't been a part of the SGC to suggest the creation of the Sagan Box. They had no such device of communication set up to protect the Cimmerians or anyone who might be in need of their help in the future.

Ernest Littlefield was still "dead." SG-1 had never gone to Tantalus, never discovered the elements that were the basic building blocks of communication.

Event after event wasn't at all what it should be. People were dead who should be alive. Earth was warring, destroying.

"Gawd, Daniel, you'd hate me for this."

Jack was angry. He had been prepared to return to a world where his own heart ached. He was ready to end his life. But ... he hadn't thought that the entire universe would change, that giving Daniel his happiness would so affect creation.

Jack closed his eyes and remembered his lover of another existence. He knew Daniel wouldn't want this. Every fiber of Jack's being told him Daniel would die rather than have these changes be the reality. But what could he do? It was done. Over. Andraji had been destroyed.


Jack O'Neill had taken a leave of absence to try and sort through what he had learned. Colonel Maybourne had laid out their plan of attack. It was D-Day multiplied a thousand times, planet after planet being raided, attacked, or destroyed all in the name of protecting the Tau'ri from the Goa'uld.

Jack stood in the distance watching a young man carrying a small boy on his shoulders. He smiled. The shaggy hair was unmistakable, the small boy the mirror image of the man who still owned his heart. He watched as the young man kissed a beautiful brown haired woman, laughing and smiling.

Then, Jack recognized Claire and Melbourne Jackson, older but still much the same except for shorter hair on both of them, emerging from the Pyramid, holding several relics in their hands. It was a happy scene.

He turned from the edge of the perimeter of the Pyramid. It was disgustingly hot, the sun bright. He didn't know why he was there, but he was. He hadn't realized he had stood there for such a long time ... until he heard a familiar voice.

"Hello. Can I help you with something?"

Jack was so stunned, he turned and immediately said, "Danny?"

The young man looked confused, "Um, yes. Have we met? I'm sorry if I've forgotten. Suz tells me I'd forget my head sometimes if it wasn't attached to the rest of my body."


"My wife," Daniel said pointing to the beautiful brunette.

"She's beautiful ... and so's the little boy."

"Ah, yeah, that's my son ... Jack. Actually, it's Jonathan, but we call him Jack ... just seems to fit him somehow."

Jack was totally taken aback, not expecting that.

"So, do I know you?"

"No," Jack said with a cracked voice.

"What's your name?"

Jack smiled, "Jack. Jack O'Neill."

"Would you like a drink, Jack?"

Jack smiled and nodded, and as they walked towards a large tent, he felt the happiness of this man he was so near. Over the next few hours, he was gifted with seeing a happy Daniel Jackson, married, father of two, with parents who were now grandparents, and he'd seen pictures of his siblings.

His wife was kind, intelligent, gentle. She fussed over him, making him smile brightly. Yes, this Daniel Jackson was a happy man.

It was late, the skies dark, and Jack thanked them for their hospitality. He had said he was a traveler out exploring and had come upon the site. Daniel seemed to know there was more to it, but he hadn't pursued it.

"Look, it's awfully late. Why don't you stay the night? We can pitch a tent for you next door."

"I don't want to impose," Jack replied quietly.

"Oh it wouldn't be an imposition. Besides, Danny loves meeting new people; gives him someone new to talk to, tell all those tales of ghosts in the tombs. My Danny has a real gift of gab," Suz laughed.

"Suz," Daniel chuckled, "you're exaggerating. Besides, you always say you love the sound of my voice."

Daniel grabbed his wife and brought her close to him, holding her as they teased, their eyes shining with love and affection.

"Oh, I do, Dearest," she smiled.

Suz again focused on the visitor, "Please stay," and then she spoke softly to Daniel, "I'm going to bed, Sweetheart. Are you coming or staying up?"

"I really should do some of the research, Suz ... but ... I'll miss you," Daniel said, kissing his wife tenderly, causing her to blush in front of their new friend.

"Danny, I do love you, but don't do that in front of our guests."

Daniel laughed, "You're so shy, Suz. Get a good night's sleep. I have plans for us tomorrow."

With another sweet kiss, Suz headed behind the barrier that was the sleeping part of the large tent.

Daniel lead Jack out of the canvas housing, intending to pick up one of the spare tents for Jack's use.

"What research are you going to do?"

"Inside the Pyramids. I do my best work at night. I'm good with words, and I like to study the writings as we excavate."

"Can I watch?"

"Aren't you tired?"

"Aren't you?"

"Okay, but if you decide to sleep, let me know and we'll set up the tent. I should warn you I tend to get lost in my work."

"I would never have guessed," Jack said softly.

Jack watched Daniel work for quite a while, remembering the tenderness and connection of the young man and his wife. Daniel had teased her about being shy, and that had warmed Jack's heart. His Daniel, this new Daniel, wasn't the least bit embarrassed about loving or being in love. Why should he? He was totally adored, surrounded by the love of parents, siblings, a wife, and his own children. And they all called him Danny, so naturally.

Jack's eyes never left the man he loved, watching the careful movements as Daniel traced the writings on the wall or sometimes on small objects. He wanted to hold those hands, kiss those fingers. But all he could do was watch them work.

They talked a lot about Egypt and the Pyramids. Daniel was so free and easy, outgoing even. No part of his life seemed difficult to talk about. There was no hesitancy. They talked a lot about his parents and his first trip to New York City as a small boy of eight years old. It had been a magical time for the young Daniel Jackson.

He told Jack about their family trek to the Zoo, how they rode the Staten Island Ferry, visited the Statue of Liberty, went to the top of the Empire State Building, watched the twinkling lights of Times Square. Daniel rambled on and on about that trip, including how successful the exhibit had been, the one his parents had organized at the New York Museum of Art.

Daniel tried to get Jack to talk about himself, but Jack didn't know what to say. He talked about growing up in Chicago, joining the Air Force, Sara and Charlie, but mostly, he brushed over his life as much as possible.

At one point, Jack and Daniel went down to where the current excavation was being done. Daniel was searching for anything new, certain there would be more.

"You love to get your hands dirty, don't you?"

"Every boys dream, Jack, to get paid for playing in the dirt."

Jack laughed, "Can't argue with that, Danny."

"Hey, look at this," Daniel pulled out an ancient relic, studying it carefully.

"Looks like a toy soldier to me," Jack teased.

"You think everything's a toy, Jack."

"Do not."

"Do too."



"I so do not."

"Yes, you do!"

Suddenly, the two looked at each other, the silly smiles from their banter turning into something Daniel didn't understand. He felt strange. There was something about Jack that he couldn't figure out. The banter had felt familiar, right, and when it ended, he felt a bit melancholy, and he didn't understand that either.

Finally, they called it a night, and Daniel helped Jack pitch the tent. They parted hesitantly.

Jack didn't sleep much, dreaming of Daniel when he did, thinking about him when he didn't. Daniel was happy, and no matter how messed up the world was, Jack didn't know if he could take away that happiness.

Daniel cuddled next to Suz, who awoke when he came to bed. They kissed and held each other close, but just before he closed his eyes, Daniel's last thoughts were about the stranger in the tent next to theirs, and the strange lure Jack seemed to have over him.

When morning came, Suz and Claire prepared a wonderful breakfast for all. Jack had intended to leave, but Claire and Melbourne invited him to spend some time with them working the dig site while Daniel continued with their colleagues.

Jack agreed. He had always wondered what Daniel's parents were like, and this would give him a first hand glimpse, so he spent the day with them, occasionally crossing paths with his lover in another existence.

When night fell, Suz prepared dinner. and they all ate, their appetites plentiful. Daniel hadn't needed any prodding. He had eaten with delight and pleasure, even taking two helpings of some things.

Jack felt like he was watching "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Donna Reed Show" because everyone was so happy and unified. It was exactly what he had wished for when he had agreed to the time portal.

Finally, Jack excused himself, insisting he had to move on. He said goodbye to the Jacksons, a sad tone in his voice that did not go unnoticed by the younger man.

Daniel walked Jack out to the jeep that Jack had rented, "Why did you really come here, Jack?"

"Some things never change."

"I don't understand."

"Did you ever make a choice that changed your world, and then you wondered if maybe that choice was wrong?"

"I hope not," the young man laughed lightly, "But I do know what it feels like to miss something."

"Now I don't understand."

"No complaints. I have a good life, the greatest. I mean, you met them. But sometimes, I come out here, or wherever I am in the world, and I look up at the stars and ... and I wonder. I feel strangely drawn to them, like they're calling me."

"Maybe you should have been an astronaut."

"No, that's not it. There's ... I don't know ... there's a universe out there, Jack, that's far beyond what we imagine. Life is out there ... and I'm missing something by not being there ... not that I'd trade my family for it, it's just ... I feel it. I know it's out there. Does that make any sense at all?"

"Yeah ... it does," Jack nodded, "But ... you're happy, Danny, right? I mean, it's what you wanted ... a family ... a childhood ... I've seen it here in the last 24 hours, but I need you to tell me you're happy. I ... I have to know that."

Daniel blinked a few times. There was something unique about this stranger, but he nodded and smiled, "Couldn't be happier."

"I have to go. Good luck with your rocks," Jack laughed, turning to walk the last few feet to the jeep.

"Artifacts, Jack. Artifacts."

Jack turned, a shocking question on his face that Daniel didn't understand.

"I ... don't ... I don't know why I said that," Daniel stuttered.

"Goodbye, Danny."


Jack looked up from the driver's seat.

"That ... thing I'm missing ... I think maybe it's important. I don't know how someone trades one life for another, one choice for something else, but sometimes I wonder if I'm where I'm supposed to be. Gawd, I can't imagine anything else, and yet ... there's this voice that ... well, it nags at me. I think ... there's some place else I'm supposed to be. Do you know anything about that?"

Jack just stared at this amazing young man, amazing in any existence, in any time phase.

"If I did, Danny, you might lose this. You wouldn't want that."

Daniel looked back at the tent, at the bliss that was there. He turned back to stare into the stranger's chocolate brown eyes that suddenly didn't feel so strange to him. He blinked several times, his heartbeat increasing, as was his breathing. He sensed an urgency he didn't comprehend, a panic he couldn't explain.

"Jack, what's the cost?"

"The cost?"

"For this? For my happiness? There's a price ... isn't there?"

"There's a price for everything, Daniel."

Daniel gulped, his hands slipping into his pant's pockets, and returned to their true discussion, his voice soft, "But was the price too high?"

Jack stared and stared ... and stared into Daniel's luscious blue eyes. There was a time, Jack remembered, when they could speak with more than voices. Their hearts and their souls were almost telepathic. Jack remembered loving Daniel, holding him, keeping him safe. He pictured the smile that Daniel had only for him. Jack didn't know if the universe was too high a price or not.

His stare continued, the two gazing into each other's eyes, both totally still otherwise.

Jack's mind spoke, "I love you, Danny. Heaven help me, I'll love you forever. I only wanted you to be happy. Was the price too high? Gawd, I don't know. Everything's changed, but look at you. You have everything, everything you ever wanted. How can I turn around and try to take that away from you? I can't answer your question ... because I love you."

"Goodbye, Danny ... Daniel," was all Jack said as he started the jeep.


Jack's head shot up.

"The ... the ... Nox?" Daniel spoke with a low voice.


Daniel was in full panic mode. Something wasn't right. He had no idea what Nox meant or why he said it. It just ... came to him and he had to vocalize it, to stop Jack from leaving.

Daniel looked back desperately at the tent and the Pyramid. He watched all the people he loved, the people who were his life, and then he looked back at the stranger who had hopped out of the jeep and was now standing just a foot away from him, breathing as hard as he was.

"This is wrong, Jack. It's not supposed to be like this. I'm not ... they're not ... it's wrong, isn't it?"

Jack stood, speechless, shaking his head, "I don't know. I just ... oh, for ...

"... crying out loud," Daniel said in unison with Jack.

Daniel shook his head, "It's wrong. My life is wrong," a single tear fell down Daniel's right cheek.

Out of habit, without thinking, Jack reached out and with his hand dried the tear. Daniel's eyes widened with the feel of the touch, and Jack suddenly realized what he had done. He started to take his hand away quickly, but Daniel raised his hand and grabbed Jack's.

They stood, their hands joined together, both staring as they lowered their hands to waist level.

"Who are the Nox, Jack? And how do we find them? We have to find them. I know we do. It's ... important."

"Danny ... the cost ..."

Daniel shook his head and squeezed Jack's hand. He had no words. He just knew that somehow he was connected to this Jack, and somehow, the world was a mess and these ... Nox ... could fix it. Daniel knew that like he had never known anything before.

"You'd ... have to leave them. You couldn't even explain."

"I know."

"Do you, Danny?"

Daniel was almost hyperventilating, the only thing keeping him grounded was the feel of Jack's hand, something that felt peculiarly perfect to him.

"Stay here. I'll be right back."

Jack considered driving away, but he couldn't so he waited, and five minutes later, Daniel returned with a bag packed.

"They're used to me going on quick jaunts. They don't question it," the young man said as he got into the jeep.

Jack smiled, and got in and again started the jeep.

"Danny, last chance."

Daniel's nose scrunched the way Jack had seen it do so many times when he was deep in thought.


"Chances? ... Decisions? Gawd, that means something, but I ... I can't ..."

Daniel was frustrated and looked as if he was trying to remember something, and then with a plea in his voice, he uttered, "Jack, we have to get to the Nox."

"We will. Trust me."

"I ... I do ... I ... gawd, Jack, I do."

Jack said nothing as they drove away, but in his mind, he still wondered if he had a right to take Daniel away from his happiness. Yet, as he drove, the sand flying through the air, his mind replayed the many moments from the past year when he and Daniel had laughed and loved. He had made Daniel happy ... well, at least, more content than before.

But here, with a wife and children, doting parents, and a history ... wasn't that Daniel's happiness? Did Jack have a right to be driving away from that, down a road full of uncertainty?

Jack didn't have the answers, but he couldn't stop the jeep. The drive inside him was as powerful as the four wheel drive on the jeep. Daniel was beside him, and something told Jack that no matter what, this is where his lover was destined to be.


"Okay, are you sure you understand what is going to happen?"

"No, it sounds like a fairy tale, Jack."

"Yeah, well sometimes it's more Grimm than ... never mind. Just follow my lead, and act like you belong. You're my guest, but the further down we go, the more likely we'll get stopped, and if we do ..."

"I know. I understand, Jack."

Jack signed himself and his guest, Daniel Jackson, into the SGC and nonchalantly took the elevators lower and lower down Cheyenne Mountain. It was almost midnight, only a skeleton crew would be on duty.

Jack used his special training to maneuver past some of the security cameras, and to get through the halls of the SGC as undetected as possible.

Relieved they had made it this far, Jack knew the next part was going to be difficult. He lead Daniel into the Control Room where he successfully knocked out the two staffers on duty. Daniel watched, impressed in a weird kind of way at the ease in which Jack took out the men.

"This is the hard part. This is ... your thing ... and Carter's," Jack sighed.


"Sam ... never mind," Jack rasped, as he silently prayed he was hitting all the right keys.

Jack searched for the address to the Nox home world, "Geez, I wish you could remember the symbols."

Without realizing what he was doing, Daniel moved forward and inputted the address.

Jack looked at him, "What did you do?"

"I don't know. You said you wanted the address and ... and I don't know ... I just ... did it," Daniel shrugged, "Maybe it's wrong. You go ahead."

Jack chuckled, but looking up on the monitors he saw their time was ticking away. It was all too reminiscent of their escape to save the world ... the second time Daniel had died ... or was that the third? Jack sighed as he silently thought that his lover had died way too many times in his young life.

"Danny, I'll take your hunches over my sure things any day," Jack said, letting the gate lock in on the seventh chevron.

"Wow," Daniel said, stepping back after the kawhoosh of the Stargate.

"No time to impress you. They'll be in here in two minutes. Let's go," Jack tugged on Daniel's arm and together they entered the Gate Room and stood at the top of the ramp.

"Piece of cake, Danny. It's second nature to you. You love it. Believe me."

Daniel smiled, "I do believe you, Jack," and together, they walked through the Stargate to the surface of P3X-774.


They had walked for quite a while, trying to find the huts where Jack remembered they had first met the Nox, but he felt like they had been walking in circles.

"It's beautiful here," Daniel said.

"Yeah, it is."

After a while, Jack glanced at Daniel and noticed he seemed far away.

"You miss them."

Daniel nodded.

"Tell me about them, how you see them."

"Suz is great. I met her at Harvard and fell head over heels in love with her. She's like my mom in a lot of ways, very caring. She likes to do things with her hands, pottery, sculpture, even knitting," Daniel laughed.


"It's how she told me she was pregnant the first time. She knitted a little blue bootie and put it on my pillow."

"Why'd you name him Jonathan?"

"I don't know. She wanted to name him Clark after her father, and Mom thought he should be named after Dad, but ... I don't know, I just felt like I needed him to be Jack, Jonathan ... I don't know," Daniel's voice suddenly full of confusion.

"He seems to be following in your shoes."

"No, not really. He likes to help, but ... he loves the sky ... planes. He says he wants to be a pilot."

Jack smiled, suddenly feeling like the world was an eerie place and the Nox were right -- that they, the Tau'ri, understood nothing of the universe, though he was sure they would continue to lie to themselves that they did.

"The baby has your eyes," Jack whispered, surprising Daniel.

"Jen's a hoot. She loves to play with things. Jack teases her all the time, and Mom is spoiling her rotten. Dad is so funny. He wears one of those backpack things ... you know, on the front, not the back ... and takes Jen into the Pyramids, tells her ghost stories."

"I thought your wife said you told the ghost tales?"

"Oh, I do. I get from Dad. He told them to me growing up, so I guess I just ... inherited them."

"The baby doesn't get scared?"

"No, she loves it. Dad has a way of making everything sound fun and exciting, even to a baby."

"Your parents are great."

"Yeah, they are. Gawd, wouldn't know what to do without them. They've always been there for me, supporting me and loving me. They've never let me give up on anything. I love them a lot."

Jack grew suspiciously quiet, and when Daniel glanced at him, he saw something disturbing. He swallowed, "They're not part of my world, are they?"

Jack didn't answer, and that answered Daniel's question.

"She's pregnant."

Jack stopped, his eyes locking on to Daniel, "How could you leave?"

"Because ... it's not really real ... is it? My whole life, everything I trust and value ... it's not the way it's supposed to be. Tell me I'm wrong, Jack."

"I can't, but I wish I could. Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"


"Picked out a name yet?"

"We were thinking Cassandra. Kinda exotic."

Jack chuckled a knowing laugh as he shook his head.

"It just ... came to me when Suz said she was pregnant," Daniel added, knowing there was some connection with the name that Jack hadn't said.

"We ... do that a lot, don't we?"

"Do what?"

"What we did in the Pyramid, that not, too stuff."

"Banter. Yeah, all the time."

"It felt ... familiar, safe ... like home," Daniel said almost inaudibly.

Jack didn't say anything as they continued to walk, mostly in silence, each lost in their thoughts of the things they didn't comprehend.

Thirty minutes later, Daniel asked, "Jack, do you know where we're going?"

"Haven't a clue."


"I'm just grateful the Nox reconsidered."


"Yeah, well ... they sealed off their Stargate after our first visit."

"I thought ... aren't they friends?"

"Yes, but ... we're ... geez, I hate this word, but we're primitive and they didn't want to deal with us dirtying up their perfect world."


"But after we proved ourselves," Jack saw a thousand questions in Daniel's eyes and just shook his head in response, "... it's a long story, Danny, but a lot of stuff has happened, and while we're still primitive, they've agreed to an alliance of sorts, so that we're at least in some sort of limited communication with them. It's why they unsealed the gate, but of course, we abuse it, and they'll sever their ties with us completely."

"They won't be angry that we ..."

"I hope not," Jack sighed, never truly able to read the Nox, but having more confidence in them than he had in the Tok'ra or the Tollan.

A while later, they stopped for a break.

"This looks familiar. I think it's where Apophis killed us."

"Who? Did what?"

"With any luck, Danny, you'll know soon enough."

"Jack ... what ...," the young man looked away.

"What what?" Jack asked.

Daniel met his new friend's eyes, "What are we?"

"We work for the SGC. It's complicated, but ..."

"No, that's not what I meant. What are we, you and I?"

"Not now, Danny. Here, you have a wife and 2.5 kids, and parents and a childhood that was happy. Wait ... okay?"

A few minutes later, Daniel spoke softly, "I left them."

"I know, and like you said, there's something important out there for ..."

"No, Jack. I left them for you."

Daniel walked to a tree stump and sat down, "It sounds crazy. It is crazy. Yesterday my world was set. I was happy, but ... I knew it was wrong. Every day of my life I've felt there was something not right, like it was a lie. It wasn't Suz or the kids. It had nothing to do with my work.

"Sometimes ... sometimes I've looked at my parents and felt so grateful they were there, and sometimes, I was afraid that if I closed my eyes for too long that they'd be gone when I opened them again.

"And ... then there's you. Something clicked when I saw you, something I don't pretend to fathom, but I knew we knew each other ... and when you touched me, there was no turning back for me.

What are we, Jack?"

"Best friends," Jack smiled seeing Daniel's "not buying it" look, "and ... we're together ... together," Jack repeated.


"Forever and Always, Danny."

Daniel stood and walked several feet away. He had never considered the possibility of another existence. He had only felt somewhere deep inside of himself that he was missing something. He thought it was the universe, but as he turned and stared at the stranger turned friend turned best friend turned ... lover, he realized the universe was this man.

Daniel walked over to Jack and slowly raised his hand to Jack's left cheek. It was tentative. He almost felt afraid, and yet, it felt familiar.

Daniel blinked, flashes going through his mind. He shook his head somewhat violently but kept his touch to Jack's cheek.

" ..."

"Space Monkey," Jack whispered, trying not to lose control, knowing they had no time for emotional reunions, especially those that made no sense.


He didn't know if it was right or wrong, but he heard the question and saw the invitation, so Jack kissed the man who was his heart. It was much more than their first kiss had been back on Earth, on Jack's roof top.

Jack hadn't been that sure of what to do back then, but now, he knew every inch of Daniel's body, what pleased him, what made him laugh or moan, so Jack kissed him ... long, hard, lingering. He poured his soul into that kiss.

"Gawd, Jack ... what the heck did you do to get us into this mess?" Daniel said with impatience, leaning his head for the first time in this portal of time, against the shoulder of the man he knew he loved.

"I made a decision I thought was for the best, but it was wrong. It was so wrong, but ... I just ... I wanted you to be happy, Danny. Listen, we don't have time. I don't even know if we can ..."

"Yes, we can. We have to."

"I'm sorry, Danny."

"For what?"

"That it has to go away. Gawd, I hate that. I wanted ..."

"It's okay, Jack. I wish ... I'll miss them, but ... they aren't supposed to be here, and maybe there's something else for them, too. I don't know. But ... that life ... it wasn't my destiny. I know that now."

"I love you ... and ... I don't expect you to say it back, so don't feel ..."

"But I do love you, Jack ... even if I don't quite grasp it all ... I just ... feel it."

"Come on, I think we're close."


Soon, they come to the place where Jack was sure the huts of the Nox had been.

"OKAY," he spoke loudly.

"Jack, why are you shouting?"

"Just trying to make myself heard, Love," Jack said, stopping to do a double take at Daniel for his "slip" of endearment and to Jack's pleasure, Daniel had smiled.


There was nothing.

"Maybe they aren't here," Daniel spoke sadly.


They waited and finally, two minutes later, Lya and Anteaus appeared before them.

"Well, it's about time, and yes, I know, we're young ... me especially. I admit it."

Lya smiled and looked at Anteaus.

"Tell me what you did," the Nox spoke calmly.

It was the first time Daniel had heard the entire story, so he listened glued to Jack's words just as the two aliens who listened were.

Anteaus and Lya exchanged a look of disbelief.

"Please. They said they knew you. You have to know who I'm talking about."

"We do," Lya spoke softly.

"We will return shortly. Eat and then, you will go," Anteaus said firmly.

"Gladly, if you can fix this."

With a nod, the two Nox disappeared.

Jack looked at Daniel and saw another tear, "Danny?"

"You did all that for me? You gave your life so I could ..."

"So you could be happy, have parents, brothers and sisters, a dog ... the things every kid should have."

Daniel walked to where Jack sat, sitting next to him and leaned his head into his shoulder, saying nothing. Jack put his arm around the young man, and relished the feel of him. There they sat quietly, waiting for Lya and Anteaus to return.


Without warning, Jack and Daniel were transported from where they sat. One second, they were on a log, the next they were in the clouds. Jack recognized it.

"It's ... you ... isn't it?"

"The Nox have requested an audience for you. Speak now."

"I made a mistake," Jack offered up quickly.

"What have you learned?"


Jack looked at Daniel and then out in the cloudy blue sky and tried, for the first time in his life, to find words that mattered. He would be fighting for his life, for Daniel's, and for Earth.

"I learned that we have to let go of what we can't change, that life is a struggle that we have to move forward in, not backwards. As much as I wanted Daniel to have his parents, his childhood, the man he became on his own, the experiences that he lived through, ultimately made him the man who opened the Stargate, the compassionate soul the universe embraces, the man I love."

Jack paused, "I wanted him to be happy, but I didn't have the right to make that choice for him. He's the only who could do that."

Jack ran his hands through his hair, "Look, words have never been my thing. All I know is that ... the world is wrong now. The Stargate Program needs Daniel. People's lives changed because he wasn't there. If it was just me, I wouldn't be here I now. I made my choice and was ready to live with that, but it's not just me. You have to know that. You had to have known that."

"Yes, you did," Daniel interjected strongly, a passion in his voice, "This is wrong. You knew that we couldn't change ourselves without changing others, without altering lives that we have no right to alter. How could you let us do that?"

"Danny, it was me."

"No ... Gawd, no, Jack. It was me, too. I ... I chose ... I chose for you too," Daniel's voice had gone from loud to quiet, his eyes darting all over the area as his mind began to give way to something else.

"Maybe someday," the voice spoke calmly, "we will meet. We look forward to that time when your world and ours can learn together. The Nox were correct. You are capable of much, with time."

A blue light enveloped Jack and Daniel and suddenly the two were in front of the Stargate.

"Sam! Teal'c! Where did you come from?"

"I don't ..."

Before Sam could finish or Teal'c begin, the voice "appeared" above them.

"You have given us hope for the Tau'ri. Each of you was offered the chance for personal gain, to make your deepest wishes come true, and each, knowing the cost, turned it down. And then, when offered the chance to make the life of another better, though it meant great sacrifices on your part, you agreed.

"Your sacrifices spoke of your inner hearts, the best of human kind. But the real test was passed only now, when you realized, slowly, that destiny is not to be tested, that one person affects many. Sacrifice, even when well intentioned, often comes with its own ... price tag.

"Live well, members of the Tau'ri, and when you have grown more in wisdom, we welcome your return. The portals have been closed. Be assured, all that happened, did occur. It was not a game. There have been no lies, no deceptions. Time is as complex as space, but as we are now, so are you. Your natural order is truly restored. All is as it was."

And just as suddenly as it had appeared, the voice was gone. The members of SG-1 looked at each other, full of questions, not really sure if each had experienced what they had.

"Daniel, dial us out of here. It's time ... time to go home," Jack said quietly.


The briefing had gone on for hours, and Jack and Daniel, without having time to discuss their stories beforehand, had done remarkably well to say what had happened without exposing their romantic relationship. They had listened intently as Sam and Teal'c relayed similar experiences to their own, each realizing the error of their decisions.

General Hammond had dismissed them, giving SG-1 72 hours of downtime to recoup, having seen that this oddly intimate experience had affected his flagship team greatly.

Jack and Daniel had agreed to meet at Jack's home for the night. They were still going back and forth a bit between the house and Daniel's apartment, but over the past year, Daniel had spent more and more time at the country style home. He liked it and truly felt comfortable there.

When Daniel arrived at Jack's at 8 p.m., he found his lover sitting in a chair on the roof deck. Daniel walked over and stood behind the chair, placing his hands on Jack's shoulders, gently massaging them, and then Jack's neck and upper back.

"Mmmm. Feels good," Jack whispered.

Daniel leaned over and kissed the top of Jack's head, moving his arms to hang over his lover, his hands sliding inside Jack's brown and white striped shirt.

"I love you, Jack."

"Love you too, Danny."

"Jack? Do you remember it all?"

"Some. It's ... fading."

"For me, too. I don't ... remember the details very much any more."

It had only been an afternoon, but once SG-1 had stepped through the Stargate and returned back to the SGC, the memories of their "other" lives had begun to dissolve.

"It's probably for the best."

Daniel heard a sadness in Jack's tone, and he knew the reason.

His hands caressing Jack's chest, he kissed Jack again and leaned his head to rest on Jack's. A minute later, Daniel walked in front of Jack, and kneeled down in front of him, taking hold of his hands.

"Listen to me, Jack. I love that you love me so much that you'd give up ... us ... for me, that you'd ... give up your life ... for me. It's going away, but I still remember what it felt like to have that family, to be a son and have birthday parties and bedtime stories, but I love you, and as much as I wanted that, I wouldn't trade you, Jack. You have to believe me. Gawd, I love you so freakin' much, and even more now that I know ... that ..."

Tears escaped from Daniel's eyes, and Jack moved their hands, still joined, to Daniel's face so he could dry them.

"I was thinking the same thing, Danny. The thing is ... I'm not sure what that says. How do I compare you with my son? How do I choose? And yet I did? Charlie ... what if he hates me for that?"

"No, Jack. Love, don't you see what they were trying to teach us? We shouldn't try to second guess, to change history. We just don't realize how one seemingly innocent act can affect the world. We have to move forward, to let go of the past, no matter how hard it is, because our destiny is always ahead of us, not behind us."

"How'd you get to be so smart, Danny?"

Daniel thought for a moment and in all seriousness, he looked at Jack and answered, "My parents died."

Jack looked surprised.

"Jack, when you found me in Egypt, you assumed I was the same person, didn't you?"

"You were ... you were ... on a dig."

"Yeah, no PHD's after my name though. My dad was the big wig, Jack. I'm not saying I was dumb or anything ... but I hadn't put my life into books. Jack ... I didn't have the theory about the Pyramids in that life. I didn't question it, not in the same way. See? For me to be ... me, my parents had to die when they did, and that was their destiny, as painful and cruel as it was, it was their life."

"Geez, Daniel."

"I'm not saying I can forget. I'm not saying it's suddenly going to be easy to move on from the abandonment. Jack, the warmth of their hugs and their touches ... those memories ... they're already going away, but I know in my heart that they love me.

"I know that because they showed me every day that they were alive, and I know that because you've helped to remember them, to honor them. Like when we went to New York earlier this year. Jack, I want to think of my parents as people who gave me life, and I want to make them proud. I don't want to think of them as people who made a bad choice and died in front of my eyes."

Daniel kissed Jack's hands and rubbed them against his right cheek.

"Charlie. I wanted you to have him just like you wanted me to have my parents."

"I know, Love."

Jack paused. Life could be very confusing. Another interesting thing had happened once they had returned through the Stargate. Not only did Jack remember his experience where he went after Daniel in Egypt, but in some quirky Twilight Zone of a way, he remembered another life, the one Daniel had sacrificed for him. It was a life where he and Sara were happy, with a house full of kids. And one day ... Daniel had paid him a visit, much as he had done in his time portal.

They didn't understand the natural order, the time strands, or the unusual memories that had each member of SG-1 recalling four separate realities, each the result of the choices made by the other team members. It felt strange, and was almost overwhelming.

"Danny, how can we have memories of simultaneous lives?"

Daniel chuckled, "We're young. We don't yet understand time and space."

"I missed you, Danny ... even as I was holding Sara and playing with the kids. There was a hole in my heart I couldn't understand. I know that was you. I knew it the moment you showed up at my house."

Jack shook his head, "I'll never understand how this happened."

"Let's not try, which I know seems like a funny thing for me to say, science and all of that, but Jack, all I care about right now is that this," he kissed Jack's hands again, "this is right. It's our destiny, at least for now."

Daniel had hesitated, having caught himself in a moment where he thought about forever, something he tried not to do in the past because it usually preceded the end of whatever good had happened.

"Oh no you don't," Jack said as he stood up, pulling Daniel up with him and scooping him into his arms.

"You are so not getting out of that one. Say it, Danny, for me ... please."

"Forever and always, Jack. I love you."

"My beautiful falling star. Never giving you up Danny, and this time, there won't be any exceptions. Do you hear me? I won't let you go, and so help me, you ever again do something that separates us because you think it's what I want, I'll haunt you. I'll haunt you forever."

Daniel leaped into Jack's mouth, their tongues igniting a fiery passion that was about to combust.



"What did you and Sara name your other kids?"

Jack smiled, a big, full smile, as he kissed Daniel again, and then answered, "Daniel, Jennifer, and Patrick."


"Pretty cool, huh? Even the Jennifer. I don't even know anyone named Jennifer, but I had insisted on it. Danny, do you know anyone named Jennifer?"

"No, but I ... Jack, I was the one who insisted on Jen's name, too. This is really weird."

They held each other close. Patrick was Daniel's middle name, so Jack had named two sons after his lover.

"You really didn't forget me?"

"No, never could. You're in my soul, and not even time and space can change that. Let's go to bed, Danny."

"I love you, Jack, forever and always."

"Forever and always, My Love ... forever and always."

... and those were promises Jack and Daniel intended to keep ...

... and they did!

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~