Title: Though a Candle Burns…

Chapter: 1

Email: What if Daniel had managed to get Jack to ascend in Abyss?

Category: Angst/Romance

Rating: Teen

Pairing: S/J

Season: 6

Spoilers: Meridian and Abyss are the obvious ones, but anything up to the end of season 6 is fair game.

Content Warnings: None

Archive: My Site: Yes

SamandJack: Yes

Anywhere else: Yes

Disclaimer: I make no money from this stuff, just messing about with someone else's universe.

Author's Note: I'm not entirely sure where this came from. I don't usually do episode what ifs, so I really need you to let me know what you think of this. You hear that? Even more needy than usual. A new low. Grins unashamedly

"You're a better man than that!"

"That's where you're wrong!"

Daniel and Jack stared at one another.

'He really believes it,' Daniel thought, 'he really thinks that little of himself.'

He couldn't work out how to get through to his friend, what he could say that would make a difference. He couldn't stand by and watch Baal torture Jack any longer.

He looked away from the burning certainty in the other man's eyes."Right now, I can't imagine doing or being anything other than what I am." He said, working through what being ascended had meant to him. "I see things, I understand things, in a way I never could have before. But I chose this. Even when Jacob was trying to heal me, I chose this." Time for a new approach. "But you, in the place you're at right now... you don't have any other choices. This is not your life we're talking about, Jack! This is your soul! This is it...what I'm offering you is your only way out."

While Daniel had been talking, Jack had been thinking. Daniel watched him carefully. Jack looked almost… defeated.

"You're wrong about that too." He said quietly.

Daniel shot him a confused look, worried about where his friend was going with this.

"I have another choice." Jack said.

Daniel shut his eyes, trying to shut out his understanding of what his friend was saying. He shook his head, denying it. "What are you talking about?" He asked, hoping he was wrong, knowing he wasn't.

Jack just looked at him. The look he reserved for the rare occasions when he wasn't pretending to be stupid, when he knew that both he and Daniel were thinking the same thing.

Daniel shook his head again, this time a refusal. "No."

Jack became more animated, he had reached a decision. "Any minute, they're gonna come. Baal is gonna kill me again. You can make it the last time."

"Don't ask me to do that..." Daniel pleaded.

"You can put an end to it..."

"I won't do it..."

There was a sound above them in the hall. Baal's Jaffa were approaching.

Jack decided to play his ace. "I'd do it for you, and you know it."

He positioned himself on the floor, ready for the gravity change in the cell.

"I don't wanna see this cell again, Daniel."

Baal was torturing him again.

Jack still couldn't quite believe that Daniel was refusing to help him. He had no idea how many times this had happened since he and the former archaeologist had had their… disagreement.

He realised Baal was asking him a question.

"What was it's name?"

"Kanan." Jack replied. Again.

Baal seemed pleased. "There...you remember his name. What was his mission?"

Jack tried to speak through the pain, but it was difficult. "No mission."

"Was it to steal the slave from me?"

"I don't know."

"Did Kanan believe a slave could know my secrets? There's something else you're hiding from me." He pointed a knife in Jack's direction, but made no move to get in position to allow it to fly into his victim's body. "I sense it. I feel it."

Jack's voice was little more than a broken whisper. "When are you gonna end this?"

"If you tell me what I wish to know, I will end this."

Jack gave up talking to Baal. "Daniel?"

The goa'uld regarded him disdainfully. "Your mind is beginning to fail. It's time for the sarcophagus, but as you regain the strength to return here, consider this: it will be far worse next time"

"Daniel?"

He remembered the pain. But he couldn't feel it anymore.

This didn't feel like those first moments after awakening from the sarcophagus. He didn't feel disoriented. He wasn't in his cell.

He was… no where he recognised. He assumed it must be a room, he was standing on what seemed to pass for a floor, but… no walls, no surfaces, no explanation of the light that seemed to fill the space.

"Hi, Jack."

"Daniel?" Jack looked around himself, confused. "What happened there?"

The former archaeologist looked uncomfortable. "Uh… yeah… about that…"

"You ascended me." Jack said, having already worked out what it was Daniel was so uncomfortable about.

"Yeah." Daniel said, watching his newly-ascended friend carefully for any signs of an outburst.

"You ascended me!" Jack was definitely getting angrier.

"I had to do something!" Daniel snapped defensively. "I couldn't keep watching him kill you!"

"So look away!" Jack growled.

"Jack…" Daniel trailed off, unable to comfort his friend.

"I can't believe you did this! You said you couldn't unless I wanted to!"

"I'm not supposed to." Daniel admitted, calm in the face of Jack's temper, despite the knowledge that this never worked.

"Then why did you?"

"You know why." Daniel said. "You asked me to end it." He pointed out.

"I didn't mean for you to ascend me." Jack snapped.

"Jack, it's done now, can't we just forget it?" Daniel pleaded.

"Forget it? Daniel, I'm dead! It's not something I'm likely to forget."

"You aren't dead, Jack." Daniel snapped. "You're ascended. It's different."

"It is not."

"Is too."

"Is not."

"Is!"

"Isn't!"

"Gentlemen!"

On the astral plane, Daniel and Jack's heads snapped around to look at the freshly materialised Oma Desala.

Daniel was surprised to see faint signs of annoyance on her usually benign countenance.

"Uh oh." He muttered.

"You in trouble?" Jack muttered back.

"I'm not sure." Daniel replied.

"You have much to learn, Daniel." Oma said. She looked at Jack. "You are Jack O'Neill." She said.

There didn't seem to be much point in denying it, so Jack nodded.

"This is most irregular, Daniel." Oma said.

"Hey… it's not his fault." Jack said.

Both Oma and Daniel gave him a strange look.

"Well, it isn't," Jack said, "I asked him to do something."

"A moment ago you were decrying his actions, now you defend him?" Oma said.

"He's like that." Daniel said, shooting Jack an apologetic look.

"He shouldn't be here, Daniel."

"Hey, I'm right here you kn-" He stopped. "What do you mean I shouldn't be here?"

"You would have escaped long before the sarcophagus destroyed you." Oma said. "In his haste to save you, Daniel acted too quickly."

Daniel looked sheepish.

Jack glared at him briefly before turning to Oma. "So… let me get this straight. I would have survived?"

"Yes." Oma confirmed.

"…but now I'm dead?"

"Ascended." Oma corrected.

"Whatever. Ultimately it means the same thing to me."

Oma looked amused. "You do not wish for enlightenment?" she asked.

"No. What would I do with enlightenment?"

Daniel smirked.

"You have to go back." Oma said.

"No. I'm here now. I'm not going back there."

"I don't think you have a choice here, Jack." Daniel said.

"He has a choice." Oma said.

"I'm not goin' back." Jack said again. "You guys let Daniel run around with too much power. I coulda warned you about that. Now you have to put up with the consequences."

"You can't be serious!" Daniel hissed.

"Why not? Maybe I'll try the enlightenment thing after all."

"Jack," Daniel said warningly.

"What, Daniel?"

"Don't be stubborn for stubbornness sake. Think about this."

"No." Jack said mulishly. "What do I have to go back for, Daniel?"

Daniel looked desperately at Oma, but she didn't seem inclined to help him out. "The SGC needs you, Jack. Earth needs you."

"Earth needs me?" Jack asked. "Y'know, Daniel, I've bought into the whole 'Your country needs you / Your planet needs you' crap for far too long now. What is the point of us saving the world over and over if we've got nothin' to show for it?" He paused for breath. "And anyway, the planet doesn't need me specifically. Carter could probably do my job twice as well plus she's a genius. Problem solved."

"You have no guarantee they'd give Sam command of SG-1, she's just a major."

"My point is still valid. Anyone could do what I do."

"That isn't true, Jack."

Jack snorted scathingly.

"You would stay here, regardless of the consequences in your previous existence?" Oma asked quietly.

"What?" Jack asked, "What consequences?"

"Would you like me to show you?" Oma asked.

Jack looked impressed. "You can do that?"

"You're allowed to do that?" Daniel asked, incredulous.

Oma nodded. "Would you like to know what will happen as a result of your… demise?"

Jack looked doubtful for a moment.

Daniel said, "He would."

Oma smiled at Daniel's pushing of his friend. She looked at O'Neill for confirmation. The man nodded.

"Very well." She said. The scene around them changed.