A/N: Small reference to "Fragile Balance."
And yes, this little experiment of mine is complete! I do have a sequel being planned, but I don't know when it'll be ready for posting. But if any of you have any ideas for side-stories or things you want to see in the sequel, let me know and I'll see what I can do!
Chapter Four: God's Champion
The next few days settled into Daniel's usual pattern of work, sleep, then… more work. It wasn't that he minded the research (in fact he rather loved it) but even Methos had more of a social life than Daniel, and when you were a 5,000 year old man with trust issues and a heightened sense of paranoia, that was saying a lot.
In any case, the Immortal was perfectly willing to spend a night in the town just to see who was around. Whether just to have fun messing with people or to find actual companionship for the night was anybody's guess, although in this case Methos was mostly doing threat assessment. It was long since a habit every time he went somewhere new, even if Colorado Springs was only new in the sense that he'd never actually cased the place before. So when Jack decided a team night out was a good idea he was more than happy to agree.
Just a quick survey of the town afterward to see where the trouble spots were, maybe a stop at a bar for a few drinks, and then he'd head home.
At least, that had been the plan. As unfortunate as it was, things rarely went according to plan around Daniel. First, the mini-tour had been put on hold, mainly because their night had ended up with a drink or two more than planned. Teal'c, as the only one who didn't consume alcohol, was declared the designated driver.
Methos mourned the loss of a good opportunity to extort his friends of a little 'gas money.' Daniel blinked and almost grimaced. He would never have considered such a thing before…
Then Methos had absently noticed the oddly familiar man following him out. Passing it off as a casual acquaintance, he didn't say anything to the rest of the team.
About six blocks later however, he was more than a little suspicious. The man had been tailing them discretely the entire distance.
"Hey, Teal'c, pull over at the park will you?"
"Is there something you require, Daniel Jackson?"
He hesitated. The man wasn't an Immortal; he hadn't felt a buzz at the bar. And what if it wasn't Daniel he was after?
Teal'c raised an eyebrow, and Daniel gave in. "Someone's been following us since we left the bar," he said softly. "I'm not sure what he wants, but we shouldn't lead him to our houses or the base."
The alien nodded in solemn agreement. "Indeed. What of O'Neill and Major Carter?"
Glancing back at the two decidedly drunk Air Force officers, Daniel winced. "They'll have to stay in the car. Whatever this guy's planning it won't be safe for them either way." If they dropped them off, they'd be vulnerable there just as much depending on whatever it was their tail wanted.
Methos was grateful that his Quickening cleared toxins from his body at an accelerated rate. If it didn't, he'd be just as drunk as the pair drooling in the back seat.
Teal'c efficiently drove into the small parking lot set aside for the park, and Methos took a moment to marvel at how good the alien was at anything he set his mind to learn. He'd seen the man on the defensive driving course at the Academy.
Come to think of it, that might be something he should to look into…
Shaking his head, Daniel hopped out of the car, Teal'c following close behind, taking the time to lock it behind him. Their tail seemed to hesitate, probably hoping for a one-on-one confrontation, but eventually followed them outside.
Cool grass squelched under his boots. The freshly watered field would be treacherous if it came down to a fight, and he had no doubt that it would, for striding across the field was none other than Harold Cook.
"Methos," the man hissed, hand fisted under his coat.
"Cook," he returned. "Not an accident then? Come to finish the job you started in Paris?"
Teal'c's eyes darkened with anger, but Daniel held up a hand to stop him from intruding.
"I don't know how you manipulated your Quickening like this you bastard but you deserve to die!" Cook spat, drawing a gun from an inner pocket. It quavered in his grip.
"Do I also deserve to know why?"
"You already know, Horseman!" he steadied the gun. "You're a traitor to the Watchers and a traitor to humanity!" Catching Daniel's start of surprise he grinned viciously. "What? Did you think we didn't know? We've known who and what you were since the incident in Bordeaux."
Methos dipped his head, coming up with a cold smirk. "Oh? You think you can kill Death, then?" he purred. Ignoring Teal'c's dark gaze he continued, "You think you can kill an Immortal, who for a thousand years made Death into an art form?
"You know, I don't really think so."
Startled, Daniel whipped around to where Jack and Sam stood bleary-eyed and quite clearly suffering from hangovers. It was all the time needed for Cook to fire. A sharp pain, and then no more.
Methos revived with a groan, clutching his head. The residual fuzzy-headache would last for hours, he knew. Being shot in the head always left him with that feeling.
"Whoops. Guess I was wrong," Jack said casually, gun held loosely at his hip. Beside him, Sam grimaced, and even the Colonel looked like he was suffering some pain.
His gun didn't have a silencer.
Glancing around, Daniel saw Cook lying a short distance away, a dark stain coating the grass beneath him. He met Jack's eyes.
"So. Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse? Gotta say, that's not your usual style, Danny-boy."
Methos could not believe he was being so flippant. "What…?"
Sam shot Jack a Look. "We talked about this a couple of days ago," she said. "And we realized… well, five thousand years is a lot of history."
"Not everything can be all sunshine and daisies in all that time," Jack added. "Besides, you're not him anymore are you? You're also Daniel, and Daniel happens to be one of the most," here he paused, apparently having to force the words out, "honorable, conscientious men I know."
Daniel almost sniped back a comment about Jack using big words, but was still feeling too rattled, and the moment too serious. "Teal'c?" he asked, turning toward the dark-skinned Jaffa.
"I cannot hold you accountable for such actions when Death is no longer who you are, much as I am not First Prime of Apophis. My friend," Teal'c said, watching him steadily, "what you are is something new. Who you are now should lay claim to neither Daniel Jackson's and Methos' accomplishments, nor their misdeeds."
"It's not that simple," he murmured, both profoundly relieved and incredibly insecure. "Those memories make me who I am."
"Is it not our experiences that do so? They are not yours. You have with you now the teachings of two great men, and follow them according to your will." Teal'c seemed to consider something before adding, "Much like young Jack O'Neill is not Colonel O'Neill, merely has and uses his knowledge."
Off to the side, Jack nodded his agreement. Sam shot him an encouraging look. Had they really discussed all of this without him?
"And you know what, Danny?" Jack asked. "You don't have to do this alone."
Methos stared at his team for a long moment before smiling ruefully. "Somehow I'm always surprised that the young have so much wisdom to share."
Teal'c cocked his head. "I believe we are the elders in this case. Are you not only a few months into this existence?"
Daniel laughed through the pounding in his skull. He didn't know whether Teal'c was joking or not, but he supposed he was right. And, he reflected, it was good to be young again.
Jack snorted. "Yeah and it is so past your bed-time young man," he griped, gesturing to the stars shining overhead.
He groaned. "How about I take an aspirin instead? Did you really have to let him shoot me in the head?"
"Well, yeah. It just wasn't right for you to have drunk that much without getting a hangover. Now we're even."
"I've found him," the man said, staring down a photograph. Grey-tone eyes peered back up at him. It had taken a surprising amount of time and resources just to get an old photo from a newspaper clipping, but it was definitely the man he'd seen in Paris.
"What are you going to do about it?" A low voice asked in response.
"What do you think? Methos' Quickening is too powerful to stay in the Game. We have to get rid of him."
"Nate, this Jackson guy's all but classified himself. Why didn't you take him out when Harry killed Methos? If we do something now we'll have the whole goddamn Air Force on our asses."
"I didn't think Methos would die from being hit and I couldn't exactly stick around, now could I? I thought he was mortal. And if he'd seen me–"
"There'd be no less trouble then we'll be in if the Air Force catches us."
He growled. "Believe it or not, I do know how to be careful." Giving his partner a look that dared him to argue he continued, "And the Air Force won't be an issue. Now here's what we're going to do…"
Violet blood pooled steadily onto the green earth. Thirdan slowly blinked red eyes up at the cloaked figure, before dropping them back down to the sword in his gut. His own blade, repelled by some mystical force, now pinned him to a tree.
"Daniel Jackson of the Tau'ri... a human who cannot die, who heals almost instantaneously."
Thirdan couldn't understand the strange language, but he knew two of the words spoken. The name of the God-Demon. What curse had he laid on his people, that these beings, so much like the Champion and his companions in appearance, would slaughter the entire Underground? His hearing faded in and out as he listened to the monster speak, praying that his fellows would reach the neighboring Underground in time.
"A perfect host..."
The last thing he saw was the slow, silent drip of violet on green.
Epilogue: Phoenix from the Ashes
No one at the SGC was quite sure what to make of it when Daniel seemingly spontaneously changed his name to Alexander. Hammond and Janet had looked at him oddly for days, neither of them quite understanding his reasoning. SG-1 just nodded their acceptance.
Alex quirked his lips wryly, feeling that if the son of Methos and Daniel were going to stick around for a while, he might as well use a name suited to his occupation.
'Protector of Mankind.' He rather liked it, and so long as no one bothered to look it up he could dismiss his small amount of arrogance in choosing the name.
"Da-Alex!" Jack called, frustrated. Just because he accepted it didn't mean he was used to it.
Alex glanced up. Oh. He was late for their briefing. Grabbing a couple files he headed out the door, ignoring Jack's exasperated glare.
He hadn't heard from Mac or the others in months, and he was sure Amanda was still watching him carefully. Joe had definitely put a Watcher on him (something Marks, he thought; he'd probably see the man in the SGC sooner or later). And occasionally it seemed as though SG-1 were trying too hard for things to be normal. There were even still moments where he couldn't quite tell who he was.
Maybe things would never be quite the same. Maybe it didn't really matter anymore. This was his life now.
It wasn't perfect. Anubis was growing even stronger, the occasional Immortal would still pop up after his head, and he had to hide Immortals from the government while in the very heart of it; secrets within secrets. The threat of death and discovery was an ever constant. So maybe things weren't normal, would never be.
But he had his friends' acceptance.
He could live with that.