/Heroes tag--takes place after Daniel turns over the tape, and before he goes to visit the family at the end. /

Daniel agitatedly rubbed at his eyes, trying to keep them open. He didn't want to sleep. And he had a feeling he couldn't even if he tried.

It had been four days now, four days since she had died. It still hadn't become real. The service had been beautiful, lovely, inspiring. Everyone had said so. To him, it had been like a waking a dream. A waking nightmare, more like.

He'd spent hours sitting in the corner of that room where he had died, in the comforting dark, before the General had finally took him aside and ordered him to go home. He was on his couch now, but it wasn't the same, nothing of Janet's presence was here. In the dark of his living room it was much easier for him to believe she was really gone.

And he wasn't ready to believe that.

All of his friends had been seeking solace with each other, but Daniel couldn't bear anything but solitude. They were worried about him, if the blinking '20' on his answering machine was any indication, but he had to have this time alone.

He had to make sense of that question burning in the back of his mind.

Why not him?

Everyone else--all of his friends, they die and they don't ever come back. He was given a second--sixth?--chance, a clean slate, and for the life of him, he couldn't imagine why.

Janet deserved it so much more than he did, and if he could take her place, he would.

The phone was ringing again, but he ignored it. His friends knew he liked to deal with this kind of pain on his own, after all these years they had finally learned to accept that. It used to be they'd force him to talk anyway, but he was glad now that they didn't. He could handle it so much better without any of them.

But then that annoying voice in the back of his mind whispered he wasn't handling this at all.

Daniel forced himself to his feet. He couldn't keep doing this, he knew. It was self-indulgent and if Janet were still around she'd order him to get moving. He turned on the light, flinching when it reached his eyes. He decided the first step should be to sleep. Everything looked better come morning, after all.

Not that he thought he could sleep through to morning if he slept at all.

He started down the hall to his room, and when he reached it he entered the bathroom and turned the water facet to cold. He leaned on the counter, and closing his eyes, he splashed his face with the water. He looked up then, and caught sight of his reflection in the mirror. He looked awful. If Janet were still around, she'd be giving him another lecture about his sleeping habits.

Daniel choked back a sob and pulled himself up and away from the counter. He had to stop thinking like that. She wasn't still around. And unlike him, she wouldn't be coming back.

He had flashes of memory then, as had happened to him so often since he had returned from his year of ascension--Janet smiling, singing at that SGC Christmas party gone wrong, teaching Cassie to drive as he and Sam laughed from the sidewalk. The memories assaulted him, driving him crying out to his knees.

When he came back to himself he was on the floor, surrounded by pieces of his now broken mirror. His knuckles were torn and bleeding, but he placed his head in his hands not really caring. He wondered just how many people he would survive. Everyone was always telling him how lucky he was to be alive, but sometimes he thought that neat little resurrection trick he had going for him was just as much a curse.

He was the poster boy for survivor's guilt.

He wasn't sure how long he sat there, but eventually the throbbing pain in his hands registered and he again forced himself to his feet. His mirror was completely shattered. That was just what he needed. Seven more years of bad luck.

He pulled an emergency first-aid kit out from the top drawer. Jack had given it to him on his birthday as a joke. But he'd almost completely used it up since then. He pulled out a roll of gauze and wrapped it around his hands, then tiredly pressed a piece of medical tape to hold it in place on both hands and then headed back into his bedroom.

He would clean up the glass later. Maybe.

He started towards his bed again, intent to lay down and stare at the ceiling if nothing else--but a pounding on his door stopped him. A visitor was the absolute last thing he wanted. Especially at the moment--he was sure whoever it was would notice that his hands were wrapped messily with white gauze.

He was intent on just ignoring it, but the voice calling his name through the door sent him quickly towards the foyer. He opened the door quickly, and Cassie stood forlornly on the other side. Her eyes were red and her cheeks streaked with tears. "Can I come in?" she whispered brokenly.

Daniel nodded, stunned. He'd barely seen her since the funeral, if he were honest with himself, that was because he had avoided her. He didn't know what to say to her-- he remembered his own parent's funeral all too well, but all that it had taught him was what not to say. You didn't say you were sorry, you didn't say it would get better, and you never, never, told them you understood. Even if you did.

"What are you doing here?" he asked her quietly. "Where's Sam?"

"She's asleep, I couldn't," Cassie whispered. "I couldn't stay there any longer, you know?"

"She'll be worried," Daniel started, but Cassie cut him off.

"I have my cell phone, if she worries she can call. But I needed to get the hell out of there--I couldn't stay there, I couldn't--not another minute, because every where I looked would only make me think of her."

Daniel nodded. "You can stay here as long as you need," he offered.

Cassie's eyes flickered to his hands, before swiftly looking away again. "Thanks."

Daniel was glad she hadn't asked about them, but he was thinking that was only because she could guess. "You want anything to drink?" he asked.

Cassie dropped down onto his couch, her gaze locked on the blank television across from her. "No," she said.

Daniel came over and sat beside her, but for a moment neither of them spoke. Cassie kept glancing back at his hands and frowning. Finally, with a sigh that indicated she couldn't stand it anymore, she took one of his hands and started to unwrap the gauze. "You didn't do this right," she told him reproachfully. Methodically, she took the bandages off and replaced them more tightly, frowning and carefully inspecting the cuts on his hand.

Daniel let her, and she still didn't ask what he had done.

"There," she announced finally. She inspected his hands. "Much better."

"Thanks," Daniel told her softly.

She looked over at him. "No problem, just be sure to get them looked at next time you're at the base."

They were silent again, but while the silence comforted Daniel it seemed to have the opposite affect on Cassie. She tapped her hands agitatedly against her legs and then she spoke again. "Sam told me you were there when she--," Cassie paused and took a deep breath. "Thank you for that--it helps a little knowing someone she trusted was with her."

Daniel nodded but wouldn't meet her eyes.

Cassie watched him sadly. "How do you do it, Daniel? How do you get past something like this?"

"You just do," he told her. "You just force yourself to keep moving."

"I don't think I can," she confided. "I've been trying to be so strong, I don't want anyone to worry about me, but, Daniel--I'm scared." Cassie looked over at him. "I'm alone again," she whispered. "Just like before."

"You're not alone," Daniel told her firmly, pulling himself out of his own grief so he could meet her eyes without flinching. "You still have us."

"For how long?" she demanded harshly. "How long until none of you come back either?"

"Cassie," he said softly.

"No," she interrupted. "Don't try to convince me you don't have a choice. You do. Maybe the universe needs you, but I need you too. I NEED my mother!"

Daniel pulled her into a hug as she let out a heart-wrenching sob. "I know that," he whispered. "I'm sorry, Cassie, I'm so sorry."

"You have to stop, Daniel, please. Don't go back out there, okay? You have to stay here. You have to. I can't lose you too--not again."

"Cassie--" he whispered.

She pressed her eyes closed and buried her face in his shoulder. "But you can't," she whispered back. "I know. You can't."

"No," he said. "I can't, because I have to keep moving too, Cassie. It's the only way. We can't stop moving."

"It isn't fair," Cassie whispered. "Some people go their whole lives without losing anyone, I lost my whole world, Daniel, and now I'm losing it again."

Daniel pulled back, and met her eyes. "You can't give up, Cassie, not for anything. Janet wouldn't want that. She valued life more than anyone I've ever known."

Cassie smiled sadly then. "She comforted me with almost those exact same words when you died," she told him.

Daniel fought to hold himself together--for Cassie if not for himself. He placed a hand around her shoulders and she laid her head on his.

"Do you believe in the afterlife, Daniel?" she whispered after another brief silence.

Daniel laid his head down on the top of hers. "I've lived it," he told her softly.

"Maybe someday I'll see Janet again. Maybe someday I'll see them all," Cassie said.

Daniel blinked back tears. "Maybe."