How Long is Forever?

Daniel Jackson was trapped. He was trapped on an alien world, brought here against his will, by a means he didn't yet understand. He was trapped in a Goa'uld facility belonging to Apophis, the one person-or thing, or whatever-he hated most in the entire universe. He was trapped in the grip of the two serpent guards that held him between them, wouldn't allow him to move even an inch.

Not that he would have been able to move much if they weren't holding him so tightly that his arms hurt. Because not only was he caught between them, but Daniel was trapped in the clutches of a Goa'uld hand device trained on his aching forehead. Pain racked his entire body so harshly that by all rights he should have been trembling violently, but he couldn't move. He couldn't struggle. His knees had given out long ago from the torture, but the two jaffa still held him halfway up, and by now his arms felt as if they didn't let go soon, they would tear from their sockets.

This wasn't right. This wasn't where he was supposed to be. The Goa'uld had been defeated. Except for Baal, they weren't a threat anymore. There shouldn't have been one trying to kill him, or get information from him, or whatever it was this one was trying to do. Daniel couldn't really remember anymore. This had been going on for too long; his mind was too blurred. But he knew this had happened before, in a way…

But that wasn't it. No, the worst part of it all was that Daniel was trapped in a nightmare that refused to end. Because the face that loomed before him, not quite in focus anymore because of his blurring vision, was too familiar, too precious to him to be the cause of the agony he was feeling.

But it was reality. He knew his eyes weren't lying, hadn't been lying to him since he had been brought here. And the knowledge brought with it an even more unbearable agony, one that tore at his heart relentlessly, one that showed on his face more clearly than anything else as he stared helplessly up at his tormentor, forcing back one of the loud groans of pain that had issued from his mouth so often in recent hours.

Instead the stricken young archaeologist forced himself to speak, even though it only made the pain worse.

"Sha're…" Daniel gasped once.

But of course she did not reply. Amaunet only frowned and increased the intensity of the orange beam leaping from the ribbon device to his forehead, and Daniel shouted, his face twisting in agony as the pain increased exponentially. He hadn't even thought that was possible. Obviously I was wrong, he thought helplessly as his vision began to darken quickly. About more than just that…

And Daniel Jackson's world abruptly went black.

Three Days Earlier

(Or six years previously, from his point of view…)

"Hey Sam, wait up!" Daniel's voice called from down the hallway.

Samantha Carter slowed her slightly urgent pace enough to glance over her shoulder at Jackson, coming up behind her. Then she did a double take on him.

I've got to stop doing that, she scolded herself as she stopped to comply with his request. She was still getting used to the shorter hair thing.

Seconds later, an out of breath Daniel Jackson caught up to her, and both continued together, their pace a bit slower than either's had been a moment before.

"Thanks," Daniel said, catching his breath. "I thought I was gonna be late-glad to see I'm not the only one running close." He was referring to the mission briefing they were both on their way to.

Sam looked over at him and smiled. "Same here," she admitted good-naturedly.

Daniel nodded. "Yeah…So, where are we off to this time?"

"Um…P5R-316," Carter replied after a pause in thought. "They just sent the M.A.L.P. through, so we should be able to see some of the telemetry after the briefing.

A moment later, the two of them were climbing the stairs to their destination. When they arrived, Daniel glanced self-consciously at the clock on the wall. He was relieved to see that General Hammond, Colonel O'Neill, and Teal'c, who were already present, were simply early. The two doctors were not late, but right on time. That surreptitiously assessed, Jackson and Carter took their places around the table, and the general began the briefing.

After the briefing, SG-1 sat gathered around one of the computers in the control room that looked out over the Stargate, studying the telemetry the M.A.L.P. probe had sent back about P5R-316.

It seemed like a normal enough world, nothing unusual. From what the probe had been able to see, the Stargate on the planet was surrounded by trees when one reached the edge of the small clearing it sat in. There was no sign of civilization, but then again there could be anything beyond those trees, Jackson reminded them, and they should still look. Teal'c didn't recognize anything in the area, so the team prepared for a run-of-the-mill reconnaissance mission, though still, as always, unsure of exactly what they would find on the other side.

Late that afternoon they parted, all headed for their respective homes to rest before they headed out at 0900 the next morning.

What the probe did not pick up was the jaffa patrol that watched the Stargate on the planet in question. They were too well hidden, and for good reason.

The moment the M.A.L.P. came through the familiar blue vortex, bounced down the stone steps and stopped several feet from the Gate, the serpent guards sprung into action, though still staying out of sight of the camera that they knew would be atop the device.

Almost immediately the message of the arriving Tau'ri machine was sent quickly to their master, Apophis. He, in turn, relayed the information to his queen, who was more than delighted to hear it.

In space around the planet, several large ships surrounded two even larger ones, hu'tack class vessels. Apophis stood with Amaunet on the bridge of one of the two Goa'uld mother ships.

The alien false god turned to the woman beside him. "I must leave on my own business now, my queen, but I wish you well in your quest."

Amaunet bowed her head. "I will not fail you again, my lord. Before I return to you this time, the human will be dead, and I assure you it will be the worst one possible." At the last part, there was a hint of an evil, anticipating smile on the impassive, beautiful face as it rose again.

Apophis smiled and nodded once in satisfaction. "I hope as much."

And then, with a final stroke of her cheek, he left. Moments later he had ringed to his own ship, and the fleet separated. The majority of it jumped almost immediately into hyperspace with Apophis's ship, but two or three remained with their queen. Not long after Apophis had gone, Amaunet gave the order that sent her own ships into hyperspace, but in the opposite direction.

She was there. Sha're was there. Over two years he'd waited, begged silently for the chance to rescue her, to bring her back into his life as the wonderful woman she was, not as the evil thing that the parasite that had taken over her body was. He had had her once, a few months before, but she had slipped through his fingers again.

But now she was here. She was standing right in front of him, once again dressed in the simple, brown robes of her home planet Abydos, the planet he had adopted as his own. Once again she smiled warmly, and her eyes looked at him softly, lovingly, not glowing. Her arms were open wide, welcoming him.

For a moment Daniel didn't know what to do. It was too good to be true. But then joy overran his uncertainties, and he ran toward her. But as he drew closer, Sha're began to change. Before he could stop his advance, the brown robes had melted away to reveal the colorful robes of an Egyptian goddess, her warm eyes and smile had disappeared, to be replaced by the cold, impassive stare he had come to hate so much. Worst of all, her arms were no longer open to him. A Goa'uld ribbon device had appeared on her left hand.

Daniel's eyes barely had time to widen in shock and horror, before she thrust out with the hand device, and he felt himself pushed off the ground, blown back across the room he couldn't identify. He landed hard, cried out in pain. And then she was on him, the ribbon device still active. He felt smothered, suffocated, and she was no longer smiling, not even still impassive. That was bad enough. But no, she was…she was laughing at him.

He tried to say something, plead with her, get through to his wife, but it was no use. He knew death was close. If only he had been able to tell her he loved her one last time…

"Sha're!" Daniel shouted, bolting upright in his bed.

Breathing heavily, he looked around. He was still in his own bed. He was still alive. It was the middle of the night, and this was his apartment, not his dream. Oh, that dream…

Daniel buried his face in his hands, trying to return his breathing to normal.

Sha're…he thought in despair. It had been months since he'd even seen her, more than two years since she had been taken from him, invaded by the Goa'uld Amaunet, taken over.

Daniel hadn't cried since just after his last encounter with her, since seeing her and not being able to save her. But the dream had awakened so many of the feelings that he always had to keep buried in order to keep himself functioning normally.

And now,Daniel cried. He collapsed back against his pillows and sobbed into them. I promised her we would be together forever. I couldn't keep that promise…