Jack found himself pausing outside of Daniel's office once more. It had been three days since he and his team had been rescued from the Goa'uld stronghold on P2Q-663, and in that time he had barely seen hide nor hair of his young friend. Jack knew that Daniel was still seeing Fraiser for the wound he'd sustained to his arm, but other than that, no one knew what Daniel had been up to. Jack had given Daniel time to approach him, but now Jack's patience was just about gone. Daniel belonged on SG-1, and Jack was determined to make Daniel believe that as much as everyone else did.
Whatever rumors had been flying around about Daniel before had certainly been quashed since the whole 663 fiasco. Thanks to Fraiser and Ferretti, word had spread like wildfire throughout the base about how Daniel had faced down enemy Jaffa to almost single-handedly rescue the SGC's frontline team from certain doom. Daniel had gone from geek to awe-inspiring hero literally overnight. Daniel's actions on 663 had been enough to convince even the most hardened marine that Daniel was more than deserving of a place on SG-1; now if only Daniel could see that, they would be all set.
Bracing himself for yet another argument, Jack entered Daniel's office uninvited and strode right up to his best friend.
"So, Daniel, how do you feel about coming back to SG-1?" he asked, sinking into his usual chair beside Daniel's desk.
Daniel looked up through his eyelashes at Jack, his head still lowered. "Are we going to keep going around in circles on this, Jack? I don't belong on SG-1; I never did."
Jack leaned back and folded his arms across his chest. "And you feel that way because Carter, T, and I are all some larger-than-life heroes, out saving the world every chance we get while you are some tagalong geek we take pity on?"
Daniel winced. "I wouldn't have put it quite like that."
Jack nodded as though deep in thought. "I see." He focused intense brown eyes on his young friend. "Well, then, since you're dead set on riding a desk from now on, maybe you can give me your opinion on someone else I've been considering for your place on the team. What do you say?"
Daniel's flinch was ever so slight, but Jack's sharp eyes didn't miss it. "S-Sure," Daniel agreed, his tone carefully neutral.
"Great!" Jack exclaimed. "I know this guy from way back, and I know he'd be the perfect choice for us. Well, first things first, being a first contact team, we'd need someone familiar with languages, right?"
Daniel nodded his head carefully. "Of course; hopefully this person knows a few. It'd be great if they were familiar with more than one language, and some ancient dialects, as those seem to be the most prevalent we encounter."
"Perfect!" Jack said. "I know he knows some of them. He'll fit in perfectly fine there. Now, about determination and loyalty. Would you say that was necessary?"
Daniel frowned. "Of course, Jack. What good is a team player who won't play for the team? And a lot of the stuff we've run into out there would have been the end of us if we hadn't stuck it out."
"Well, I know that he's done some pretty incredible things for our country in the past," Jack commented. "Would you like to hear about them?"
That was the last thing Daniel wanted to do, but he swallowed thickly. "Sure," he said again.
Jack leaned his head back, his eyes focusing somewhere into the past. "Well, he has risked his life several times over to help out his colleagues on more than one occasion. He's been injured in the line of duty more often than not, too. Oh, and he's smart. A brilliant tactician. There was this one rescue mission into hostile territory a while back; you know, our government doesn't usually sanction that sort of thing. Too high risk with not enough of a guarantee of the gains. That didn't stop this guy, though. He deliberately placed himself in danger, right in the middle of the enemy's camp, to in order to extract some men that had been taken hostage. Now, not only did he do that, but he made sure he was the last one out so that he was sure that the hostages all made it. Hell, everyone thought he was nuts to even think about pulling something like that off, but boy, weren't we surprised when it all went off according to plan without a hitch. Impressive, isn't it?"
Daniel nodded when Jack finally broke off the glowing description. He felt a chunk of ice drop in the pit of his stomach; it sounded to him as though Jack had found the perfect person to round out SG-1. Someone to come in and replace him on the team.
"He sounds really great, Jack," Daniel replied honestly, feeling his heart breaking on the inside. "Too good to be true, almost."
"Would you think that meets your qualifications as hero?" Jack asked him. "You know, so he could fit in with me and Carter and Teal'c."
"I . . ." Daniel looked deep into Jack's eyes, unable to deny the truth. "He sounds perfect, Jack. Brave, selfless, compassionate, intelligent; he'll make a great contribution to the team. Do I, uh, do I know him?"
A strange smile spread across Jack's face. He stood up and clapped a hand down on Daniel's shoulder and squeezed. "I should say so. His name is Doctor Daniel Jackson."
Heat bloomed on Daniel's face, and he shook his head in denial. "What? Jack, no, I never did any of that stuff you just said!"
Jack squeezed Daniel's shoulder again. "From what I hear, you created the plan, you placed yourself in danger to get us out, and you took out several Jaffa to cover our escape. Or did Hammond, Teal'c, and Ferretti lie?"
"N-no, but-," Daniel stammered.
"Brave, selfless, compassionate, intelligent," Jack echoed Daniel's words. He stared seriously down at the young archaeologist. "You said so yourself, Daniel. And if you ask me, those qualities right there are really the stuff of legends."
Jack patted Daniel's shoulder and moved back to the door of Daniel's office, then paused and turned back.
"SG-1 is scheduled for a briefing tomorrow morning at nine sharp," he told Daniel. "We'll be going to P4Z-972 to examine some ruins. I'd really like it if you would join us."
He slipped out before Daniel had a chance to respond.
Hammond took his customary seat at the head of the briefing table and glanced around. Jack O'Neill sat on his right, eyes jumping from his watch to the door of the room every few minutes as if expecting someone to arrive. Across from Jack, on Hammond's left, sat Sam. At first glance, she appeared to be intently studying the MALP data from P4Z-972, but upon closer examination, Hammond could see that she was staring blankly at the file. Teal'c, seated on the other side of Sam, sat serenely in his chair, waiting patiently for the briefing to begin. The emptiness of the chair on the other side of Jack was keenly felt by everyone in the room.
Hammond looked at his second in command. "Should we be expecting anyone else, Colonel O'Neill?"
Jack glanced yet again at his watch, then the front door, then finally sighed. "I was hoping, sir."
"Very well, then." Hammond turned his attention to Sam. "Captain Carter, if you-."
"Sorry I'm late!" Daniel breezed into the meeting, his arms full of books and files. He set everything down on the table and sank into the chair beside Jack. "I spent all last night reviewing the MALP's report on the ruins, and I knew I had some research in my office that would help me figure out just what might have happened on that planet."
"That's quite all right, Dr. Jackson," Hammond assured him. He looked at the rest of the team, taking note of their smiling, relieved faces, and focused on Jack. "Colonel? Are you ready to proceed?"
Jack beamed proudly and leaned back in his chair. "Yes, sir. SG-1 is ready."
What a ride! And exactly one year after I first published the story, I finally finished it! I hope you all enjoyed it. Thanks for sticking it out with me all this time!