Title: Unbreakable          

Author: Layton Colt

Email: laytoncolt@hotmail.com or on list.

Status: Complete

Category: Angst, Drama

Pairings: Nope.

Spoilers: Many various ones. Menace, Scorched Earth, The Other Side and a few others are mentioned but nothing major.

Season: Five.

Sequel: None

Rating: G

Content Warnings: Nope.

Summary: Daniel needs to get away for awhile.

Author's Notes: I told FCOL I would eventually have to write a story with this title. And saying that, of course, brought about a plot bunny that just wouldn't give me peace. Many thanks to FCOL, for the help and nagging! I mean…support. Yes, that sounds better…

Disclaimer: The characters from Stargate SG-1 do not belong to me—even if Daniel does tell me he's mine in my dreams.


If it takes my whole life I won't break,

I won't bend.

It'll all be worth it.

Worth it in the end.

- Sarah McLachlan

Part One: Leaving to Anywhere

"You were going to leave without saying goodbye?" The question was
more of a statement really, and not all that unexpected.

Daniel paused in his packing, letting the blue dress shirt slip from
his fingers as Jack entered the room behind him.

"What are you doing here?" he whispered. "How did you get in?"

"You left the door unlocked," Jack told him. He leaned against the
doorjamb, watching Daniel as he stood frozen beside his bed,
unwilling to turn around. "I had a bad feeling about the way you
left the base tonight--thought I would come check on you."

"You knew," Daniel said, running a hand through his hair. Of course
he knew. Jack always knew when he was hiding something.

"I suspected," Jack corrected. "So where are you going?"

The question snapped Daniel back into the moment, and he reached
down to retrieve the fallen shirt. He laid it on top of the others,
and snapped the suitcase close. "Anywhere," he said.

"I don't think this is a good time, Daniel. We haven't even had a
chance to talk--"

"For once, Jack, I don't feel like talking." Daniel finally turned
around then, and Jack was startled by the desolation in his eyes.

"You can't just leave without telling anyone, Daniel," Jack snapped,
beginning to get angry at Daniel's vagueness. "You have commitments

"Not anymore," Daniel said.

"What? What are you talking about?"

"I resigned today, Jack. I asked Hammond not to say anything until I
was gone. He wasn't happy about it but he agreed."

"You resigned?" Jack asked incredulously. "Why?"

"Because there's no reason for me to be here anymore, Jack. I'm not
doing any good anymore--and that's the only thing that's keep me
here since after Sha'uri died. I thought I would keep going through
the 'gate because I thought--I thought I could make a difference."

"You have."

Daniel shook his head. "No--I've only made things worse."

"The Enkarians?" Jack snapped. "You didn't make anything worse
there, Daniel. You saved thousands."

"And on Euronda I played a part in the destruction of just as

Jack winced. "Don't bring that up. Euronda was my fault and we both
know it."

"It was our fault, Jack. My hands are just as bloody as yours. But
I'm not as strong as you. I can't take it anymore."

"You're the strongest person I know, Daniel. You're unbreakable."

Daniel laughed bitterly, and his hand tightened around the
suitcase's warn brown handle. "No--no, Jack. Everyone breaks
eventually. I tried to hold together even when my world was
crumbling around me and I did, for awhile I did. I just can't do it
anymore. This time, I…I can't forgive myself this time, Jack. I have
to stop meddling around in the universe."

Jack sighed. "I knew we should have discussed this right after it
happened--I thought you needed time alone but I guess that was a

"It wasn't," Daniel said quickly. "You were right. I do need time
alone, Jack. That's why I have to leave."

"You don't. It wasn't your fault, Daniel. You did all you could! I'm
the one that killed Reese, if you need to blame someone blame me!"

"She didn't trust you, Jack. You killed her, yes, but you thought
you had to and it wasn't a betrayal. What I did was."

"You were trying to save her. If you hadn't tried to shut her down
she would have just died that much sooner."

"I should have been able to save her, Jack--"

"You can't save everyone," Jack said. "Especially not the ones
trying to kill you."

"She wasn't--she didn't understand what she was doing. She had the
mind of a child and all she did was throw a…a tantrum."

"A tantrum," Jack said incredulously. "One that would have destroyed
Earth had we let it. But we both did what we had to."

"I know I said I didn't want to talk about this," Daniel said
distantly, mostly to himself. "Why am I letting you get me talking
about this?" Daniel turned to Jack. "I'm leaving, Jack. I have to.
Say goodbye to Teal'c and Sam for me, alright? I know--I know I
should have done it myself but I've already been forced to say it so
many times…"

"No one's forcing you now," Jack said bitterly. "You're just giving

"I'm giving in," Daniel nodded. "That's true. But I don't think I
care anymore."

"Now I know that isn't true," Jack snapped. "You would never stop

Daniel just turned away, and started for the door. Jack sprinted
ahead and blocked his way. "You're not leaving yet."

"I don't have time for this," Daniel snapped. "My flight is leaving

"Your flight to where?"

"You don't need to know that."

"Damn it, Daniel--you have friends here, you know. Forget the
commitments you made to the SGC, what about us?"

"I'm not going forever, Jack," Daniel said wearily. "I just need
some time away. I need some time to think."

"How long?" Jack demanded.

"I don't know."

"Are you taking your cell phone?"



"I need to leave, Jack. Just…can't you understand that I need to

"Probably more than anyone," Jack admitted ruefully. "But that
doesn't mean it's best for you."

"I'll decide that," Daniel said, the words were brash but the tone
was resigned.

"This isn't a good idea, Daniel. Not right now--okay? Why don't you
take a week, think about what you're doing, what you would be giving
up. I know you've been through hell these last years and I know how
much you've lost--but there's been good things too."

"I know," Daniel said quietly. "But I can't always remember them,
Jack--and that...I can't keep going on like I am. I'm just going
through the motions right now and that scares me because it never
used to be that way. You have to let me do this."

Jack knew the look in Daniel's eyes--it was the look Daniel always
got when he was rushing off to save suicidal princesses or transport
up into exploding ships. Jack could force a lot of people into doing
things his way--but Daniel wasn't one of them, especially not when
he was this determined.

"Okay," he said quietly. "Go then. But you're making a mistake."

Daniel met Jack's eyes for a moment, before looking away and
reaching for the door. "It wouldn't be the first one," he said.

Jack didn't respond and Daniel said nothing else. He walked down the
short hallway and started down the steps, never looking back.

Jack shut the apartment door and made sure it was locked. Daniel
never had said goodbye. He just wasn't sure whether or not that was
a good thing, or something that he should be very, very, worried

He leaned against the brown wall in the hallway and closed his eyes.
Daniel said he wasn't leaving forever. He would come back. Jack
agitatedly pushed away from the wall and started back to his truck.
He had better come back.

Part Two: Beneath Goodbye


The voice was quiet, and at three in the morning, with the phone
slipping in his tired grip, it could have just as easily gone

"Daniel?" Jack demanded, sitting up instantly and snapping on the

"Hi, Jack." Daniel sounded tired--and so distant.

Jack ran a hand through his hair. "What's wrong? Where are you?"

"I'm fine," he said quickly. But his voice cracked on the words, and
even if it hadn't Jack still would have known it was a lie.

"Daniel," Jack said, forcing himself to be calm. "Tell me where you

"I'm on vacation," he said gently. "You know that--I'm just calling
to make sure everything's alright there…"

"Except for that fact that my best friend is off who knows where?"
Jack snapped. "I'm peachy. Sam and Teal'c too."

"Good. That's good," Daniel said, the slightest hint of amusement
tingeing his words.

"It's been nearly three weeks, Daniel. When are you coming back?"

"Soon. Maybe. I'm not sure yet."

Jack closed his eyes in frustration. He wasn't used to hearing
Daniel so uncertain. Usually conviction rang in each of his words,
with a passion behind them that hadn't been there for sometime.

"Why did you really call?" Jack asked. "If you're in trouble--"

"I'm not," Daniel responded instantly. "Really, I'm not. I just
thought you might be worried."

"Worried," Jack mumbled. "You thought I'd be worried? Because you
take off and don't tell me where you're going or if you got there
and I haven't heard from you for weeks?"

"Yeah, because of that," Daniel agreed wryly.

"Sam misses you," Jack said.

Daniel laughed. "Just Sam, huh?"

Jack rolled his eyes. It was the most emotion he'd heard from Daniel
in awhile, and it just figured it was sarcasm. He'd trained him
well. "You know damn well I miss you too. I just didn't want to
admit it. I'm not good with the feelings stuff, and you know it."

"Yes, but forcing you into dealing with it anyway is always

"You sound like yourself," Jack said dryly. "I guess the vacation's
doing you good?"

Daniel fell silent and Jack frowned. "Daniel…?"


"How are you doing?"

"Good. I'm good. Fine. Haven't we gone over this already?"

Jack ignored the question. "You know I could find you if I wanted

"I know," Daniel said quietly.

"I'm beginning to seriously believe that's what I should have done
from the beginning."

"I don't want to be found, Jack," Daniel said.

"That worries me more than anything."

"Jack, I'm fine--"

"Say that one more time, and I'll have the SGC track you down and
come drag you home myself."

"Just give me another week," Daniel said. "I'll be home in a week."

"Is that a promise?" Jack demanded.

"No," Daniel admitted. "I can't make promises right now. But I'll

"Try hard," Jack demanded.

"I will…Goodbye, Jack," Daniel whispered.

Jack was about to respond when the line went dead. He got chills and
it took a moment to register why. Daniel had said goodbye--and he
had a bad feeling about that. Daniel hated saying goodbye, and he
only did it when he absolutely had to.


Jack wasn't able to go back to sleep that night, and he was at the
SGC before six. The base was quiet, the skeleton crew still the
majority here, with only a few of the morning shift trickling in. He
walked passed them without saying hi, he could never keep all of
their names straight--and unlike Daniel he didn't try.

He was only interested in talking to one person this morning.
Besides Daniel, that was, which was at the moment not possible. Sam
Carter was in her lab, as he had known she would be, tapping away at
her computer as she munched on what appeared to be the remnants of a
day old jelly donut.

"Ah, the most important meal of the day." He punctuated the
statement with a cheery clap of his hands and Carter threw him a
deadly look.

"Can I help you, sir?" she asked curtly.

Jack switched off his false cheer and moved smoothly into his less
used, but much more intense 'serious' mode. "I want you to find
Daniel for me."

"Sir--" she began.

"I know--I probably shouldn't. And he's a big boy, he can take care
of himself. But I've got a bad feeling about all this and I want to
know where he is--"

"Sir," Sam interrupted. "I've already found him."


Sam sighed and pulled her eyes from his. "I was worried too. I know
you said that he really needed this but I just wanted to know where
he was--"

"Where?" Jack demanded.

"New York," Sam told him promptly.

"He's still in the country? That's good. I hadn't expected that."

"He's staying in a hotel that's right across from the New York
Museum of Art," Sam said worriedly.

Jack cursed. "Now why hadn't I expected that? Of course he is. Only
Daniel would escape to somewhere even more painful than the place he
wanted to get away from. Why can't anything ever be easy with him?"

Sam shook her head sadly. "I don't know. I can't imagine why he
would go back there. When the Gamekeeper…" Sam trailed off and
looked away.

Jack had never got either of them to tell him what had happened in
that virtual nightmare. He knew the facts, sure. But Daniel wouldn't
tell him the details, and though he had never asked, he knew Carter
wouldn't either. She wouldn't tell him because it wasn't her memory
to tell and she never should have been able to experience it in the
first place.

Jack clenched his fists. The Gamekeeper was another one on his list.
Another part of the reason Daniel was off torturing himself alone
instead of being here where he belonged.

"You're going there," Sam said. He didn't have to answer because he
could see she already knew. "Bring him home, sir," she ordered

"Count on it," Jack nodded.


"Jack," Hammond said exasperated. "You can't just go off and force
him back here."

"Why not?" he asked with infuriating innocence.

"He isn't a member of the SGC any longer and he's a civilian for
one," the General snapped. "Jack, I know you're worried about him
but there's nothing you can do about this. He needs to get through
it on his own."

"You're wrong about that," Jack said. "Just give me the time off,
General. I may not have the right to force him back to the SGC as a
Colonel, but after all these years I have every right to drag him
back home as a friend."

The General sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Granted," he said
reluctantly. "You've had vacation time coming for a long time

Jack gave a quick grin. "Thanks, sir."

Jack left Hammond's office and pulled out his cell phone. He booked
a flight, rolling his eyes when the only seat left was in coach. The
Stargate had spoiled him for all other forms of transportation.

He decided not to bother packing, because he only planned to stay
long enough to grab Daniel and a flight right back home. He was
pressing the call button on the elevator when he heard the voice
behind him.


He spun around on his heel, only to come face to face with Teal'c.
How the Jaffa had gotten that close behind him without his trained
ears hearing a thing, he didn't want to know. "Teal'c," he said

"You intend to retrieve Daniel Jackson."

"For crying out loud--he's not my luggage," Jack said dryly.

Teal'c frowned. "I did not imply that Daniel Jackson wa-"

Jack held up a hand, forestalling his explanation. "Yes, I'm going
to find Daniel."

"I will go with you."

Jack sighed and looked down. "Thanks for the offer, Teal'c. But I
don't think that's a good idea. I think this is something I should
do alone."

Teal'c frowned but eventually nodded. "If you are certain--"

"I'd love for you to come with me, big guy. But I think its best you
don't. Daniel and I need to have this out."

"Remind him of the good he has done, O'Neill."

Jack smiled and moved back into the elevator. "I will."

The doors slid closed, snapping shut in front of Teal'c's still
worried visage. Jack wished he could have brought Teal'c, if only to
have someone to suffer with while he was cramped in one of the seats
in the small crowed plane he would be boarding. But he knew Daniel
didn't need an intervention--he didn't need everyone he cared about
ganging up on him.

But he was getting Jack whether he wanted him or not. Daniel had
sulked long enough--it was time he came home and got back to his
life, got back to doing what he did best. Helping people.


Jack entered the New York Museum of Art, stopping briefly to ask a
question to a young woman in a blue skirt with a name tag that
read 'Mary,' before nodding and moving on. He wound his way through
the displays, not paying any attention to them as his eyes searched
for his friend.

Daniel wasn't at his hotel room, he'd checked there already. He'd
charmed the clerk into giving him Daniel's key and had went up to
the room. He hadn't expected to get lucky enough to find Daniel
there, and sure enough, the room had been empty. He'd stayed there
for an hour, packing Daniel's things and getting them both a flight

He was pleased he was able to get two seats in first class this
time. It was ridiculously expensive, but spending all his time in
the SGC and eating their food instead of buying his own had saved a
lot of money. Besides, he figured saving the world entitled you to a
few perks.

He finally reached his destination, a small room hidden away at the
back. It was completely empty, except for one bench in the center
and a plaque on the wall where an exhibit should have been. The
plaque was dedicated to Melbourne and Claire Jackson. Jack looked
around the barren room, disturbed by the coldness and emptiness in
the air around him--disturbed even further because he knew this is
where Daniel had spent the majority of the last three weeks. He sat
down on the bench, and stared at the dark bronze plaque as he

He didn't question how he knew it was Daniel behind him just by
listening to the footsteps, and he didn't turn around. For a moment
he worried that Daniel would turn and leave, possibly for the last
time, but he soon felt him bump his shoulder as he lowered himself
on to the bench beside him.

Jack gave the younger man a sideways glance and Daniel looked down
at his hands.

"I only needed one more week, Jack," he said quietly.

Jack shook his head, growing angry at the dark circles that painted
the underside of his friend's eyes. "Three was more than enough."

"I can't go back yet."

"Yes you can. I've already been to your hotel room. You're all
packed. We have a flight out of here at seven."

Daniel laughed and turned to him disbelievingly. "What? And to hell
with what I want? Jack--I'm not going back yet. I can't."

"I'm not giving you the choice this time," Jack said firmly. "You're
not doing yourself any good here, Daniel. If I wasn't convinced by
the phone call, I am now. You look like hell."

Daniel shook his head. "So?"

"So?" Jack snapped. "Its comments like that that brought me here,
Daniel. I want you to come back. You don't have to come back to work
if you really don't want to, at least not right away--but come back
home. Let us help you."

"I don't need help, Jack. I just want some time to myself. That's
something I haven't had in six years."

"Can you honestly say you miss it?" Jack asked. "Do you really miss
having no one to depend on but yourself?"

"I miss having no one depending on me," Daniel snapped.

"Well, that's too bad," Jack snapped. "Because all of us do."

Daniel turned away. "No pressure there."

"We need you, Daniel. And maybe that isn't fair to you but it's the
way it is."


"But what you don't seem to realize is you can depend on us too. You
aren't in any of this alone, Daniel."

"I know that. But sometimes it isn't enough."

"It's enough. We've gotten through so much together, Daniel. As a
team. If you'd just let us we could help you through this too."

"No, not this time," Daniel said softly, standing up quickly and
backing out of Jack's reach. "This is one time I need to help

"Daniel…" Jack started, rising to follow him.

Daniel was already moving from the room, walking just short of a
run. Jack followed more slowly, not wanting to draw attention to
them and already knowing Daniel would be going back to his room. He
didn't have anywhere else to go to here.

When Jack exited the museum he saw Daniel waiting agitatedly at the
crosswalk. Tapping his foot and watching the street light,
apparently irritated the fates were determined to slow his escape
and ruin his dramatic departure. Jack cautiously came to stand
beside him. Daniel threw him an irritated look and rolled his eyes.

"What are you doing?" he demanded.

"I'm not going to let you go get all your stuff alone," Jack
said. "I'll help you bring your stuff down and we'll take a cab to
the airport."

"I only have one suitcase, Jack," Daniel said. "And it isn't going
anywhere and neither am I."

"Hammond ordered me to bring you back," Jack lied boldly.

Daniel didn't even have to take his eyes from the neon 'Don't Walk'
sign to catch the bluff. "No he didn't."

"Okay," Jack nodded. "He didn't. But Carter did. And she's even
scarier when crossed."

Daniel's lips twitched upwards ever so slightly. "Jack, I appreciate
you dropping everything and coming here. It means a lot--" Daniel
paused as the light switched and the crowd of pedestrians rushed
forward, pushing him off the curb. They reached the other side of
the street, and Daniel stopped in front of the doors to his
hotel. "But I'm not going back yet."

Jack could just hear the petulant 'And you can't make me' that just
barely wasn't said.

"Okay," Jack said finally. "You get one more week then."

Daniel's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Really?"

"Sure," Jack nodded amicably. "But just a week, seven days, 60

"168 hours," Daniel said.

"That's what I said."

"No, you said 60 hours."

"Well there's 60 minutes in an hour."

"But you were talking about weeks, not hours--"

"Just shut up and go enjoy your week."

Daniel looked suspicious but nodded. He opened his mouth to say
goodbye, before smoothly changing tracks and giving a rueful smile
in its place. Daniel disappeared into the building and with a sigh,
Jack started walking.


Daniel had just went and collapsed on the bed when he heard the door
click and then open. He sat up, startled, and frowned when Jack
casually entered his room.

"Jack, you said--"

"I said you could have a week here," Jack nodded, throwing his coat
onto the chair in the corner and heading for the mini bar.

"Then what are you doing…?" he asked slowly.

"I didn't say you could have a week here alone," Jack said, pulling
out a jar of nuts. "You know, these things really are outrageously
priced." He opened the lid and dumped a few into the palm of his
hand. "Want some?" he asked, holding them out to Daniel.

"No," Daniel said. "Jack--"

"So, what should we do tonight? You want to go out? Or call in room
service? Oh, and I'll have to call the airport and reschedule our
flight for next week."

"Maybe I wasn't clear--" Daniel said wearily. "I need the week here
because I need to be alone."

"The last thing you need right now, Daniel," Jack told him. "Is to
be alone. Hey, does this place get cable?"

"Yes, but--" Daniel trailed off as Jack snapped up the remote and
made himself at home. He watched Jack stretch himself out and pop a
few more nuts into his mouth with disbelief.


"Shh--Nightrider's on."

Daniel's eyes widened and he was shocked into silence. With a
haughty sigh he went to his suitcase and snapped it open loudly,
before beginning to pull everything back out. He opened one of the
drawers on the dresser, dropped the shirts in, then slammed it shut.
He turned around to gauge Jack's reaction, but the older man didn't
even spare him a glance.

"You know what we need?" Jack asked. "We need a talking car. Think
of all the things we could do."

"You may have something there, Jack," Daniel said as he crossed his
arms. "I could tell him to drive you back to Colorado Springs."

"How rude," Jack said, seemingly entirely unfazed. He titled the jar
of nuts and dropped a few straight into his mouth.

"You know, those nuts are going to be charged to my account," he

"It's only fair," Jack said. "I'm paying for the flight."

"The flight I don't want to take, you mean?" Daniel demanded.

"That would be the one. You wouldn't believe what they're charging
for first class these days."

"I never take first class," Daniel said.

"Never say never."

Daniel rolled his eyes and threw himself down on the sofa
chair. "Shouldn't you be off somewhere…saving the world?"

"I took some time off. You know how it is. Thought I'd get my cape
mended before I go back to my super hero ways."

Daniel pulled the pillow into his lap and began to play with the
tassels around the edges. "Shouldn't you be getting yourself a

"I'm just going to use this one," Jack said, changing the channel as
the credits for Nightrider began to play.

"I'm in this one," Daniel snapped.



"Don't worry--you can have this bed. I'll call for them to bring in
a roll away bed in a few minutes."

"Don't bother," Daniel said quietly. "I'll just get myself another
room. You can have this one, but do me a favor--leave something in
the mini bar, alright? I'm in the ranks of the unemployed now, you

"Well, last I heard--the SGC was looking for a multi-lingual
archeologist with some combat training and a martyr complex. I could
put in a good word."

Daniel smiled wryly. "I appreciate the offer. But I don't think I
can go back there. I'll go home eventually--"

"Next week," Jack interrupted.

"Eventually," Daniel continued smoothly. "But I'm not sure I'll ever
find my way back there."

"You never were very good with directions. But don't worry. We'll
car pool."

"I was speaking metaphorically," Daniel said tiredly, despite that
he knew Jack had known exactly what he meant.

"I know."

"I'm just tired, Jack. I'm tired of taking two steps forward only to
get knocked back five in the next second."

"Are we speaking metaphorically again?"

"Why do I bother?"

Jack grinned and held out the can of nuts. "Are you sure you don't
want one?"

Daniel leaned over and snatched it away from him. He knocked a few
out and tried them. "These are good," he admitted.

Jack nodded and reached to grab another, but Daniel easily pulled it
out of his reach. "If you want more, you can get your own mini bar.
These are mine."

"That's blackmail," Jack snapped, then he smiled. "I'm impressed."

"Impressed enough to go get your own room?"




"Which would you like?"



Jack narrowed his eyes, sure Daniel was thinking circles around him
even at this moment. He would have to stay extra sharp while he
tried charm Daniel back to Colorado Springs. He really didn't want
to have to go with Plan B. He was almost sure the General wouldn't
approve of him gagging Daniel and taking him home in a military

Daniel was watching him suspiciously. "What are you thinking?" he

Jack smiled brightly, baring his teeth and doing nothing to
reassure. "Nothing. Nothing at all."

"I could almost believe that," Daniel said wryly.

It took a moment for the insult to register. "Hey! Watch it!" Jack

Daniel just smiled sweetly and reached for the phone, carefully
storing the jar of nuts on the dresser behind him and out of Jack's

"What are you doing?" Jack asked.

"Getting another room--" Daniel cut off as Jack, suddenly beside
him, returned the phone to its carriage. "Jack…"

"You're unemployed. You need to save your money. I'll call for the
roll away."

"Jack, I have enough in my savings."

"That's not the point. We can both stay here. It'll be fine.
Besides, I don't want to wake up to find you've run off to Egypt."

"I wouldn't go to Egypt," Daniel lied. "I'm not that predictable."

"Yes you are. I bet you just crossed Egypt off your mental list of
places to escape your somewhat overprotective commanding officer,
didn't you?"

"You're not my commanding officer anymore, Jack," Daniel reminded.

"Not at the moment, but you'll get bored with ordinary life soon

"I don't think I will," Daniel said. "I've never had an ordinary
life. It would be a nice change."

"You say that now, because you don't know what it's like. It's no
fun, Daniel, and ordinary life can shatter just as easily as the
lives we lead. They can shatter so much easier."

Daniel looked away. He knew Jack spoke from experience. "I know
that. But at least, this way, it would only be me that got caught in
the crossfire. If something happens when I'm out there, Jack--it's
my fault. One mistake and I could be responsible for so much

"That's where you're wrong. I'm the leader of the group--so all the
blame goes to me."

"Maybe in the abstract, Jack. Maybe in the militaries neat little
idea of the chain of command that's how it works. But you know it
isn't true when we're out there. Especially not with me--because I
don't always listen to you."

"Well--there you go. Come back, and this time, always do what I say.
Everyone's happy."

Daniel grinned. "You know I could never do that, Jack. That's why
it's dangerous for me to go out there. You never know what I'm going
to do. I don't even know."

"That's because you follow your heart most of the time, instead of
your head like all the rest of us. Not that you don't ever use your
head--that brilliant mind of yours has saved thousands. Millions--
hell, billions and we both know it. All those things you're thinking
are liabilities right now, they're the very reasons I never kicked
you off the team myself."

"Jack, I can't be trusted out there," Daniel whispered. "All it
takes is one false step."

"That's really what this is about, isn't it?" Jack asked, sounding
surprised. "You're really giving up because you're afraid you're
going to mess up? That doesn't sound like the Daniel I know."

"It's a little more serious than that, Jack," Daniel snapped. "It
isn't like I'm afraid I'll mess up and look bad in front of
everyone. This isn't about pride--if I mess up, with what I've been
doing, people die. And how am I supposed to get past that?"

"Daniel," Jack said gently, knowing even as he spoke he was playing
dirty, "If you stop, doing what is you've been doing--then people
will die. And how will you be able to get past that?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Remember when Dr. Carter came through the mirror? Her world was
being destroyed, and a big part of that is because you weren't
there. I know you don't think that you're worth anything, but this
universe needs you whether you realize it or not."

"What about what I want?" Daniel demanded breathlessly, using the
pillow held against his chest to hold himself together. "What if I
want to be selfish for once?"

"It would only make things worse, Daniel. It would only give you
something else to blame yourself for in a few weeks, a few months,
next year--whenever. You'd regret it eventually. I know you well
enough to know that about you."

"Do you know why I came here…?" Daniel asked quietly. "Why I
couldn't stop going back there? To that museum, the place I watched
them die?"

Jack shook his head. He had no idea why Daniel would come here.

Daniel looked away. "Me either."

Jack waited for Daniel to continue, to provide some kind of tangible
explanation for why they were here, on the 20th story of a cold
hotel right across from the last place Daniel should ever want to
be. But he stayed silent.

"Daniel--" Jack started.

"I don't want to talk anymore, Jack," he said quietly. "Okay? We'll
go back. I'll go home. We can talk to Hammond and I'll come back to
the SGC. It will be fine."

"Don't to this," Jack said, frustration lacing his words.

"Isn't this exactly what you've been wanting me to do?" Daniel
asked, honestly confused.

"Not like this, Daniel. I wanted you to want to come back, at the
least I wanted you to fight me every step of the way. I don't want
you giving into me, or doing this just because you think it will
shut me up and make me forget what was said tonight."

"Maybe this is the best I can do for now," Daniel told him. "It's a
start, isn't it?"

Jack sighed and looked down. "I'm not trying to make you miserable,
Daniel. Is this really what you want? To just stay here? Go to that
museum everyday and stare at the walls? Because--" Jack broke off,
before finally gathering his determination. "Because if it is, I'll

Daniel looked up, startled.

"It will probably kill me to do it, but you deserve to do whatever
you want. You've been forced into doing enough."

Daniel didn't respond, speechless from the pain in Jack's voice. He
would really walk away, if he thought that was what Daniel needed.
But even if Daniel were convinced this time alone was what he
wanted, he would never convince himself he had a right to put that
pain in his best friend's eyes.

Jack started to turn, taking the silence as Daniel's reluctance to
give the answer he knew he wouldn't want to hear, but Daniel caught
his arm. "I don't think this is what I want," he said slowly.
Uncertainly. "Jack, I don't want to hurt anyone."

"I know that," Jack said, sounding relieved. "But people get hurt,
and sometimes there's nothing you can do about it."

Daniel nodded. "You were right about me," he said. "I can't stay
here. Maybe I'll make more things worse than better, and maybe I'll
never really get a chance to help anyone--but I won't know who I am
anymore if I'm not trying."

Jack grinned. "Okay, still sounding self-depreciating and depressed,
but I'm sensing definite improvement."

Daniel gave a half smile too, and looked over at him. "You know you
weren't part of the reason I had to leave, right?"

Jack nodded, but Daniel noticed the hesitation.

"I'm sorry--about what I said, when you killed Reese, Jack. It
wasn't you I was mad at."

Jack placed a comforting hand on Daniel's neck, and gave a slight
reassuring squeeze. "I know. Don't worry about that, Daniel."

Daniel nodded and Jack gave a grin a pulled away. He glanced down at
his watch. "We can still make the seven o'clock flight," he said. He
smiled over at Daniel. "What do you say we go home?"

Daniel gave a lop-sided grin. "There's no place like it."

                                           The End.