Jack sighed as he leaned against his closed front door. In a way it felt good to finally be home, to finally be alone. At the same time, he felt that loneliness pressing down on him. His knees gave way, and he fell to the floor, his hands still clutching the paneling, his forehead against the cool wood.

He let go of the tears he had been fighting back all day. He wailed out his rage, his pain, his loss. He cried until there was nothing left except choking sobs.

It was then that he felt the hand on his shoulder. A gentle hand, one he would know anywhere. Blinking, he refused to turn around, convinced he was dreaming.

"Daniel?" he asked hesitantly, as though afraid of the answer. He felt the presence kneel beside him.

"I'm here, Jack."

Jack shook his head. "No, you're dead. I left your body back there. I tried everything, and you wouldn't come back. This isn't real."

"It's real. Turn around."

Scared to breathe, Jack moved his head until he looking into the cerulean blue eyes he loved. Saw them shining with the tears he himself had already shed. There was love, in those eyes. Sadness. Regret. But there was something else. Something powerful in them.

"Daniel?" he whispered. Daniel smiled gently, and moved his hand to cup his lover's face.

"I was wrong. I was so concerned with the death I knew was coming, I missed the clues. It was never about sacrifice, Jack. I had to go away to learn. I'm the treasure. All the knowledge of the Ancients, all their technology, their history, their culture, their mistakes and successes. And the ability to retain and use the information. I am THE Ancient. The Gate Keeper."

Jack leaned into that hand, still unconvinced it was real. This couldn't be happening. But then, this was nine lives Daniel. Maybe, just maybe?


"I love you, Jack," Daniel whispered, knowing what his lover needed to hear. He took the broken man into his arms and held him tightly. Whispering it over and over again into the older man's ear, until, at last, Jack broke away, and finally kissed him.

There was so much in that kiss. There was desperation, hope, disbelief, and then, finally conviction. This was real. They were real.

When they broke away, Jack smiled. "I told you once I would do that for you, until you believed in me."

Daniel nodded. "You needed to believe in me more."

The End