10. Babylon

Jack held on tightly to Daniel, trying to hold back the tide of blood that threatened to carry Daniel far away. He left Hammond to make the necessary calls, to check on Paul's corpse. The general had burst through the door only moments after Jack was finally getting his mind around what had just happened, shouting something about Major Davis, and cut phone lines, but Jack was lost to anyone but the man in his arms. He listened only well enough to understand that any further threat had been eliminated, that the monster was dead at last, and then all focus was upon holding on tight to a life that was slipping away.

Daniel awoke from his pain in a place far, far away from where his body lay dying. He was in a jungle, tangled and dark and threatening. There were vines of wicked thorns wrapping about the trees and vicious, sharp edged plants sprouting from the ground. Worst of all, he was alone, completely alone. He could hear the hard, growling threat of creatures hiding in the shadows, but there was no person there to hold him safe. He could feel the darkness pulling at him, wanting to end him, and he saw a path. It led to someplace bright, and safe, and he began to walk. Far from that place deep inside Daniel's mind, Jack tried to hold on tighter, feeling torn and shredded and desperate. Daniel stopped breathing.

"No," Jack whispered, feeling the faltering heartbeat beneath his fingers as Daniel's body failed, "Daniel, stay." He began CPR.

Upon that lonely road deep in the dark jungle, Daniel suddenly stopped, feeling someone calling. The jungle was tight around him and there seemed to be no way to go, no way to escape but towards that brightness, but he could hear Jack calling him. Suddenly, with firm, crushing hands, Jack broke through the jungle, tore away the dark thorns, and left a path up into the sky. Daniel followed his voice until he was standing in a wondrous garden high among the clouds and stars. There were great, strong trees and bursts of wild flowers, and at a tall bubbling fountain, Jack was waiting.

"My breath is your breath," Jack whispered, "My heart is your heart." Then he held out his arms and Daniel rushed to him, letting him hold him.

"Don't leave me, Danny," Jack said as he held him, tears flowing from his eyes, "Stay."

"I love you, Jack," Daniel answered. The garden wavered around them, threatening to break apart and take Daniel with it, but Jack's hold strengthened. His roots were dug deep, soul deep, and the only way Daniel was leaving was if Jack went with him.

Beyond the garden, where Jack continued to work frantically to hold Daniel in life, Daniel's body once more gasped in air, his heart pumping blood. Daniel stayed.

An emergency team was not long in coming, having already been ordered to the vicinity as a precaution the moment Hammond learned of Major Davis's escape from the airport. As they pulled Daniel from Jack, Hammond saw the gut-wrenching devastation and fear written across his face, the sort of look that defied regulations and in the midst of his own wrenching fear that he had been too late in coming, Hammond found himself absurdly glad that his back-up team was outside dealing with the corpse and not in here to see Jack's pain. Daniel was loaded quickly into the ambulance, the emergency team working over him urgently, and Jack followed, deaf to all suggestions that it might be best if he followed in a car.

Still holding tight to his hand, Jack followed Daniel on his journey back towards life. When he flat-lined again, Jack's garden held strong and he wouldn't let him fall back into the jungle, back towards that bright, sharp end that would leave them both alone. The emergency workers brought him back.

It was hours before Daniel was declared stable again, many of which Jack finally had to spend away from his side, but still holding on tightly to his soul. It was days before the doctors spoke optimistically of his chance of recovery. But in the end, Daniel stayed.

Paul was dead, much too swiftly and easily for Jack's taste, but the monster was slain. Daniel was alive, though not awake, and Jack was once again at his side, holding his hand. Teal'c and Sam stood guard over them, their solid love holding them both beyond the dark thorns that threatened to tear them apart. Their garden was solid, their roots were deep, entwined together tightly. Finally, when he was ready to live again, Daniel opened his eyes. For the first time in a very, very long time there was no pain, no darkness, or emptiness. There was only Jack and his love.

Together, souls entwined, they stayed.

The End