Relationship(s): Daniel/Sha’re, Daniel/Jack
Content Rating: G
Summary: Every day since Jack had become a Sentinel, his thoughts had turned to Abydos and the person he left behind. Every day he felt a part of himself had been left behind. Instead of seeing the Guides that crossed his path for who they were, he could only see who they weren’t: Daniel.
When the opportunity to return to Abydos presented itself, he grabbed onto it with both hands, hoping he could find the piece of himself he left among the stars.
Note: Thank you, Jilly, as always, for beta’ing these boys
Jack sat gazing up at the stars as usual. Ever since that mission a year earlier, it had become part of his routine. If he thought too much about it, it still boggled his mind. He and his team had gone where no man had gone before. They had traveled to another world and for all intents and purposes had stepped into a piece of Earth’s history when they arrived on Abydos. Something that had thrilled Daniel to bits.
Jack sighed as he fiddled with his telescope a little. They had left Daniel behind on Abydos, alive and well, contrary to the reports they had filed. The man had been completely smitten with the culture, not to mention one Sha’re, who had been offered to Daniel as his wife. Jack couldn’t really blame the man, not even after all this time. Daniel had been shunned by his communities on Earth – both Sentinel/Guide and archeological. He had a profound love for all things Egyptian, and a thirst for knowledge that Jack had not seen in a long time. For him to have been welcomed with open arms by the Abydonians as he had… yeah, Jack could see the appeal of staying behind. At least, for someone like Daniel, he could.
Still, he missed the man which had come as a bit of a surprise to Jack. Ever since his return to Earth, he had felt out of sorts. Off kilter, more than he already had. At the time he had still been reeling from Charlie’s death and had looked for an out from, well, everything. The entire mission, his head had not really been where it should have been, in retrospect.
It wasn’t until he had come back to Earth, gone home to Sarah only to find his bags packed and a petition for a divorce waiting for him that things had really started to change for Jack. It might have seemed strange for some, but the following months had brought some clarity to him that had been lacking.
Clarity, and something else. Something completely unexpected.
Jack blinked purposely, forcing his mind and his senses to stay with it. It had taken some time and an interim Guide or two since he came online shortly upon his return to Earth, but Jack had learned to keep control of his senses. He hadn’t had a zone out in months now and he aimed to keep it that way. He knew he shouldn’t do any stargazing, but he couldn’t help himself. He felt pulled to the stars. More to the point, he felt the need to search for Abydos – for Daniel.
He refused to speculate on why. It wouldn’t do him any good one way or the other. The Abydos stargate was buried, so even if Jack had still been in the Air Force, he would not have any means of reaching Daniel. It was part of the reason why he had chosen to retire early. It had simply been too much to deal with; between Charlie’s death, coming online, the divorce from Sarah, and leaving Daniel behind – though he hadn’t known how much of a factor that would end up being until it had been far too late to do anything about it.
Jack heard a vehicle approach his cabin. Rolling his eyes, he remained where he was. He wasn’t expecting any visitors, the lights were off in the house, and his perch was on the far side from the road and not clearly visible to mundanes. If he was lucky, they would simply knock on the door and leave when there was no answer. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with anyone.
The car came to a halt in front of his place a couple of minutes later. He could hear three men get out. One remained by the vehicle, while the other two approached the door and knocked. He ignored them, keeping his attention split between the stars and the men below. He groaned when he heard them walk around back and begin to climb up the ladder. Apparently someone had informed them of his habit. He briefly wondered who he would have to ‘thank’ for that, but brushed it aside.
“Colonel Jack O’Neill?”
“Retired,” Jack responded automatically, wondering what the Air Force could possibly want with him now.
“I’m Major Samuels.”
“Air Force?” As if he didn’t already know the answer to that.
“Yes, sir. I’m the general’s executive officer.”
“Want a little piece of advice, Major?” Jack asked as he adjusted his telescope minutely. “Get re-ass’ed to NASA. That’s where all the action’s gonna be. Out there.” Breathing in, Jack puzzled slightly over the sudden smell of fear wafting toward him from Samuels. He pushed aside the smell of aftershave he also brought with him – it wasn’t Samuels’ as far as Jack could tell.
“I’m, err… I’m under orders to get you to see General Hammond, sir.”
Hammond? “Never heard of him.”
“He replaced General West. He says it’s important.”
West? That was the guy that was in charge of the Mountain, wasn’t it? The hairs on the back of Jack’s neck stood on end suddenly.
“Has to do with the stargate,” Samuels added.
Well crap. Jack finally turned around to look at Samuels, his stomach clenching in discomfort as several scenarios played in his mind. Taking a deep breath, he nodded. “Alright. Take me to your leader,” he quipped, more out of habit than actual intent.
After some consideration, Jack ended up taking his own car rather than use the vehicle that had been sent for him. Mostly because once he got down, the aftershave of the driver had assaulted his senses and he figured he could do without a zone out from that. It didn’t take much convincing on Jack’s part once Samuels learned he was a Sentinel. Especially since that fear scent increased once Samuels got that bit of news.
When they got to the base, Jack had to go through various security stops before he finally got to the lowest level where both the stargate itself and the general’s office were situated. The entire ride down, Jack got more on edge. This was the first time he had really – consciously – been down here since he’d come online and he had to admit the experience was altogether different as a Sentinel than it had been as a mundane. Samuels knocked on the general’s door, opening it when they were told to enter and introduced Jack. “General Hammond, Colonel Jack O’Neill.”
Jack stuffed his hands in his pockets in a semblance of nonchalance and gave Samuels a bemused look. “Retired.”
A huff from behind the desk had Jack turning his attention to the general, though he made no effort to salute the man. He was retired, after all. “I can see that,” Hammond said. “Me, I’m on my last tour. I’m starting to get my thoughts together, maybe write a book. You ever think about writing a book about your exploits in the line of duty, Colonel?”
Jack shrugged. “Yeah, I thought about it. But then, I’d have to shoot anyone who actually read it.”
Hammond straightened slightly in his chair and Jack could sense the unease pouring off of Samuels behind him. Jack barely refrained from rolling his eyes. “It’s a joke, sir. Most of my work the last ten years was classified.”
“Yes, of course.” Hammond seemed to relax fractionally.
“Samuels mentioned something about the stargate?” Jack ventured.
“Down to business. I can do that,” Hammond said as he got up and headed out the door. “This way.” They walked along the corridors in silence, Jack’s trepidation only increased as they neared the infirmary. Once inside, Hammond led him to a body. The doctor pulled back the sheet that had covered it and Hammond looked expectantly at Jack. “Anyone you know, Colonel?”
Jack frowned as he took in the tattoo on the dead man’s forehead, and the odd criss-cross cuts on his stomach. Before he could speak, the doctor said quietly, “He’s an alien.”
“Ya think?” Jack said before he could stop himself. He leaned over the body to get a closer look. His senses weren’t much help here. He had no experience dealing with the dead as a Sentinel; let alone an alien one. He lamented the lack of training for only the briefest moment.
“Best we can tell, these slits are actually a pouch, like a marsupial,” the doctor explained.
“Like a kangaroo,” Samuels supplied.
Jack shot him an incredulous look. Did the man think he was an idiot? Or did Samuels specialize in being an ass.
The doctor continued. “We haven’t done an autopsy yet.”
Straightening, Jack pondered for a moment, casting his thoughts back to Abydos. Near as he figured, he had never seen anything like this before. Then again… those guards of Ra’s had had tattoos on their foreheads, too, now that he thought on it. Though not the same as this guy’s.
“These people – aliens, whatever you wanna call them – came through. Killed four of my people, and kidnapped another, using advanced weapons,” Hammond said, sounding disgusted.
Glancing briefly over the corpse again, Jack turned to Hammond. “There were no creatures like this on Abydos, sir.” He was sure of that much, at least. After all, the guards with tattoos had been on the ship with Ra when it blew up. The Abydonians were definitely human. “These people were humans from Earth. Ra brought them there thousands of years ago.”
“I don’t doubt that.” Hammond eyed him seriously. “But your report said this Ra was in fact some kind of alien inside a human body.”
Jack nodded. “His eyes glowed. That was our first clue.” And hadn’t that been freaky. Jack suppressed a shiver at the memory.
Hammond stepped closer to him, scrutinizing him as if he knew there was more to the story. “You sure he’s dead, Colonel?”
“Unless he could survive a tactical nuclear warhead blowing up in his face, positive. Why?” It wasn’t a complete lie, Jack thought.
“Colonel. These people were guarding another man who retreated back through the Stargate. I got a good look at his eyes, Colonel. They glowed.”
Jack shifted uncomfortably. It couldn’t possibly be Ra. No way, no how. They had watched the ship blow up. They had found no survivors. Hammond led them back through the corridors to his office. Even as the general asked whether Jack’s perspective on that mission had changed, Jack couldn’t stop worrying about Daniel. Was the man okay? Had something happened on Abydos? Jack’s answers came automatically. No, he had nothing to add to what he had put in his report. No, he hadn’t changed his mind about anything that had happened.
He didn’t get jolted from his thoughts until right before they stepped into the general’s office and Jack caught a glimpse of Kawalsky and Feretti being escorted to the meeting room outside the general’s office. That brought him up short. “Why are you interrogating my men, General?”
“They’re not your men anymore, Colonel. You’re retired.” Hammond sounded almost amused. “Daniel Jackson? What can you tell me about him?”
Jack tore his attention from his former teammates, suddenly even more on edge than he already was. What was going on here? Really. “You read the report?” he hedged, feeling as if he were skating on thin ice..
Hammond gazed calmly at him from his chair. “Yes, I did.”
“It’s all there.” Well, mostly anyway. The important stuff was.
“Is it?” Samuels asked, and Jack had the distinct feeling the man revelled in having cornered Jack.
Flicking Samuels a furtive glance, Jack focused on the general. “What’s this all about, General?”
“You didn’t like Daniel Jackson, did you, Colonel?”
“Daniel was a scientist,” Jack said curtly. He had never had much use for scientists. Or rather, no patience for them. Nor had Jack had much use for Guides at the time, though he wasn’t altogether certain that West had even been aware of Daniel’s status as a Guide. Jack certainly wasn’t about to let Hammond know, now. “He sneezed a lot. Basically he was a geek, sir.”
“So you didn’t have a lot of time for him,” Samuels sneered.
Jack rolled his eyes at the man. “I didn’t say that. He also saved my life and found a way home for me and my men. A little thing like that kinda makes a person grow on ya.” And Daniel had grown on Jack, all Sentinel/Guide issues aside.
Both the general and Samuels grilled Jack at that point, trying to get him to admit to disobeying orders. To having left Ra alive, and returned… what, as cowards? Jack neither knew nor cared what they thought about him. All he cared about was keeping Daniel safe. And the Abydonians, especially Skaara. That kid had reminded him of Charlie. Maybe a little too much so.
When Jack wouldn’t budge, the general got out of his seat and headed toward the gateroom. “Good, then if you’re certain about Ra being dead, you won’t mind if we go ahead with our plan.”
Jack blinked in confusion. Now what was that supposed to mean? What plan? And why would the general care whether Jack agreed with it or not? He followed the man, only to get peppered with more questions, this time about the gate itself. Jack tried to recall everything that Daniel had told him about it and answered as best he could.
As soon as they stepped into the gateroom, Jack ground to a halt. There on the ramp stood what looked to be another nuclear bomb. Jack wrinkled his nose and his skin prickled. He had never been this close to a nuclear weapon before, not as a Sentinel, and he couldn’t say it was an altogether pleasant experience. In fact, he could have done without it. Were they going to send that thing to Abydos? “You’re sending another bomb?” he asked quietly, eyes fixed on the wretched thing.
Hammond nodded. “A Mark V this time. If these creatures really did reopen the gate on Abydos, we intend to reseal it for good.”
No no no no no! This was not good. Daniel was there! Skaara! Sha’re. All innocents. “You can’t do that, sir!”
Hammond raised an eyebrow. “The countdown’s already started. Unless you have something to add?”
The man sounded smug, and Jack hated having to give the man a good reason to be, but he didn’t see any other way out of this. He had to do whatever it took to keep Daniel safe. “General Hammond, sir. I regret to inform you that my report was not entirely accurate.”
Hammond turned to face him with a self-satisfied grin. “You didn’t detonate the bomb, did you?”
“Oh, I did detonate the bomb, sir, on board Ra’s ship and it did kill him.”
“However?” Samuels cut in.
Jack shot him an exasperated look. He hated that guy already. All the man’s fear had dissipated into an air of self righteousness that Jack really did not care for. “However, Ra’s ship was in orbit above Abydos at the time. Neither the gate nor anything else on the planet was destroyed. Daniel Jackson is alive and living with the people on Abydos, sir.”
“You violated direct orders, Colonel. Why?!” Hammond demanded angrily.
Jack frowned. “Because the people of Abydos are no threat to us. They deserve to be left alone.”
“That’s not up to you!” Hammond scolded.
“With all due respect, sir, if I had come back here, reported the gate on the other side was still intact, you would have sent another bomb. Just like you were about to.”
Hammond huffed and turned on his heel to address the tech working on the bomb. “Send it through,” he ordered.
Jack stiffened. “General, you can’t do that!”
Hammond half-turned to Jack. “Oh, I can’t?” he challenged.
“There are innocent people on that planet!” he argued. Surely the man would see reason. They couldn’t just go about the galaxy blowing up everything that even appeared to go ‘boo’ at them. And these were kids, for crying out loud. Mostly, anyway.
“There are innocent people here. I have my orders, too, Colonel. I obey mine.”
Jack flinched, but remained silent. There wasn’t much he could say to that, after all. The general ordered Jack to the holding cell until further notice and he followed an exceedingly smug Samuels. He hoped that the general would come to his senses sooner rather than later. From what little Jack had seen of the man, he didn’t appear to him to be an unreasonable sort. Jack understood that by failing to be forthright in his report, he had put the general in a bit of a bind. He just prayed to whatever Gods might be listening – not that he himself believed in any, but he knew Daniel did, and for some reason that was enough – that the Abydonians and Daniel wouldn’t end up paying the price.
Kawalsky jumped to attention when Jack entered the room, causing him to smile. “I’m retired, Kawalsky, lose the salute,” he said dryly.
That earned him a grin and Kawalsky shook his hand. “Feretti and I didn’t tell them a thing, Colonel,” he assured.
Jack didn’t doubt that for a second. They owed their lives to the Abydonians, and the fact that they got to come home, to Daniel. They made the pact to keep Abydos safe a long, long time ago, and he had served with Kawalsky and Feretti long enough to know neither man would betray them that way. They sat and talked about the mission for a while, recalling the kids. When Kawalsky reminded Jack of how Skaara would always salute him, Jack’s heart ached. Charlie had done that, too. It was partly why Jack had been so taken with the boy, so soon after Charlie’s passing.
Time seemed to crawl by, but after a while, Hammond came through the door without ceremony. “How many people did you say were on Abydos, Colonel?”
Jack heaved a sigh of relief and shared a quick glance with Kawalsky as they both got to their feet. “That we saw? Maybe five thousand. Does this mean you’re reconsidering sending the bomb, sir?” he asked hopefully.
Hammond sighed, seeming resigned. “It means I’m open to suggestions.”
“General, let me take a team through that gate. We’ll find out who those aliens are. Kawalsky and I have been there before. We know the lay of the land. We know the people-”
“You think. Daniel Jackson could be dead,” Hammond countered. “You don’t know what you’d be walking into.”
Thinking quickly, Jack almost smiled. “Sir, there is one way to find out.”
Hammond paused for a moment, then nodded. “Right. We’ll have a prototype probe shipped from MIT.”
Grinning, Jack straightened a little. “General, we don’t need that probe.” Casting a look around the room, he grabbed the box of Kleenex that was on the table and tossed it into the air. Daniel’s allergies might prove useful just this once, he thought.
“We don’t?” Kawalsky asked, confused.
“Nope! This’ll do.” Jack led the way back to the gateroom. While they waited for the gate to finish dialing, Hammond demanded an explanation and Jack obliged. “Dr. Jackson has allergies, sir. He’ll know that this came from me rather than – with all due respect, sir – someone like you.”
Kawalsky grinned. “I get it,” he chuckled, no doubt remembering the incessant sneezing.
Samuels gave an incredulous look, while Hammond just looked vaguely uncertain. Jack wasn’t too worried, though. He knew Daniel would get the message one way or the other. Jack made his way down to the gate as the final chevron locked and walked up the ramp. He hesitated for a moment. Not because he was unsure, but because he was oh so tempted to just step through the gate to Daniel. He was so close. He could do it. All it would take was a single step and he’d be through the event horizon and no one would be able to stop him. The urge to do exactly that was so strong, Jack had to force himself to breathe through the impulse.
No, he would wait. If he did it right this time, then he would see Daniel again soon enough, and the Abydonians would remain safe. If he left now, he had no doubts whatsoever what the outcome would be, and his reunion with Daniel would be very short lived indeed. He tossed the box into the event horizon and purposely stepped back and returned to the control room.
“So now what?” Hammond asked expectantly.
“Now we wait. If Daniel’s still around, he’ll know what that means,” Jack answered easily.
“What if the aliens get it?” Samuel posed.
Jack only barely managed to keep from snorting his derision. “Then they could be blowing their noses right now.” Okay, so he couldn’t quite help himself, but really, the guy was asking for it.
“They could be planning an attack!” Samuels accused.
Oh dear Lord, Jack thought. Is he for real? “Oh God, Samuels, let me be the cynic around here, okay?” He paused, then added, “Sir, this could take some time.” He thought back to when they had been on the planet, and how far the settlement had been from the gate. Since the gate had been able to make a lock, that meant that it was no longer buried. Jack was positive that Daniel wouldn’t have left the gate unguarded, despite Ra’s demise. It just might be a while before any message reached the man. Especially if he was out roaming the area in search of new – or old, as the case may be – and interesting things.
They all retreated to the meeting room, where people went about their business. The general took up office there, which was unusual to Jack. It spoke well of the man, in his opinion. Hammond seemed to be a commanding officer who liked to have his finger on the pulse of his command. Kawalsky and Feretti were off doing who knew what. They were still active duty, after all. Jack in the mean time simply sat on the other end of the table from Hammond, lost in thought, the mission to Abydos playing in his mind, mostly.
The second the glasses on the table started to rattle, Jack sprang to his feet. He remembered the feeling of the base shaking all too well from the first time he’d gone through the gate. Daniel was sending an answer. Everyone made their way down to the gateroom and Jack waited with bated breath, only releasing it when the box bounced onto the ramp. The gate winked out.
Jack hurried over to it, then grinned as he read the side: “Thanks. Send more.” He tossed it to Samuels with more than a little satisfaction when the man caught it, read it, and handed it over to the general with a sour expression. Turning his attention to Hammond, Jack said, “Permission to take a team through the stargate, sir.”
“Consider yourself recalled to active duty, Colonel.” Hammond left, presumably to take care of the necessary paperwork, and Samuels followed without a word, looking for all the world as if he had bitten into the most sour, overripe lemon he could have found.
Kawalsky grinned knowingly at Jack and shook his hand. Jack clapped his friend on the back and they headed out.
How had he ended up back here, Jack wondered as he stood waiting in the meeting room, dressed in his old uniform. In a matter of hours, his life had turned upside-down. Again. This time, though, he thought that maybe – just maybe – things would be different. Better. He was a Sentinel now, for one. And for another, he was about to go back to Abydos, and hopefully reunite with Daniel. A Guide. His Guide, he hoped, because ever since he had come online he had felt something. A part of him that could not connect with other Guides. Not completely. Because every time he had tried, Daniel had invaded both his thoughts and his senses.
If Daniel was his Guide, what would that mean? He was most likely married to Sha’re by now, after all. And he lived on Abydos, whereas Jack’s home was still Earth. Would Daniel be willing to return with him? His stomach flipped uneasily at the thought of having to come back without the man. Of being turned down. Before he could spiral down into that line of thinking, Hammond called everyone to attention.
Jack was about to start the briefing when Hammond asked where Captain Carter was. “Captain Carter, sir? I’d prefer to put together my own team.” Preferably people he had worked with before, and who had been to Abydos the first time. Those men, he could trust to do the right thing. He didn’t like the idea of bringing along some unknown on a mission like this.
Hammon shot him a level look. “Captain Sam Carter will be joining this mission, Colonel.”
Repressing a sigh, Jack leaned down over his papers to hide his disgruntlement. “Where’s he transferring from, sir?”
“She is transferring from the Pentagon. You must be Colonel O’Neill.” She saluted. “Captain Samantha Carter, reporting as ordered, sir.”
Jack blinked, failing to hide both his irritation at the forced addition, and his amusement at the unexpected twist. He listened to the banter between Carter, Kawalsky, and Feretti until Hammond put everyone back on task. He hated to admit it, but he liked the spitfire that seemed to be Captain Carter. When she started to spout science-speak, however, he groaned. “Oh, here we go. Another scientist. Sir?” he pleaded helplessly. What was the point of bringing a scientist along to Abydos? They were centuries behind Earth development.
“Theoretical astrophysicist, Colonel,” she corrected curtly.
He stared at her. “Which means…?”
“Which means that she’s smarter than you are, Colonel,” Hammond piped up. “Especially in matters of the stargate. Her presence on this mission is non-negotiable.”
Great. Just what he needed. He shot a dirty look at both Kawalsky and Feretti who were failing to hide their amusement. Trust them to laugh at him over this. He sighed. He would just have to keep in mind that all of this would be worth it in the end. He would simply have to grin and bear with the scientist for now. “Doctor-” he started.
Carter cut in. “Captain. It is appropriate to address a person by their rank, not their salutation. You should call me ‘Captain’, not ‘Doctor’.”
Okay then. Definitely a spitfire. He had a feeling she would be keeping him on his toes if he wasn’t careful. She certainly gave as good as she got, which was a mark in the plus column, in Jack’s opinion. Maybe she wouldn’t be so bad to have around after all. They volleyed back and forth for a bit before Samuels cleared his throat and interjected, “I hate to throw a damper on your… enthusiasm, but I still say the safest, most logical way is to bury the stargate just like the ancient Egyptians did. Make it impossible for the aliens to return. It’s the only way to eliminate the threat.”
Jack huffed. Did this guy have any backbone at all? “Except that won’t work,” he said as he idly toyed with his pen.
“It worked before,” Hammond offered, sounding only half-convinced himself.
And yet ‘before’ isn’t ‘now’, Jack thought. Surely the man had to see that. “They know what we are now. We are a threat to them. They’ve got ships, General. Ra had one the size of the great pyramid. They don’t need the gate to get here. They can do it the old fashioned way. Now with all due respect to mister glass-is-half-empty over there, don’t you think we should use the stargate to do a little reconnaissance before they decide to come back? Again.”
Samuels grimaced, but Hammond nodded his agreement. “I’ll give you exactly twenty-four hours to get back or send a message through. No kleenex boxes this time. If we haven’t heard from you by then, we’ll assume the worst and send a bomb through.”
Jack grinned and got to his feet when Hammond did. “Understood.” Yeah, this Hammond guy was alright. A glance across the table from him found a grinning Carter, which made him smile. This would go alright, Jack thought.
It took them less than fifteen minutes to get changed and ready to head out. Hammond escorted them to the gateroom and stopped Jack as he was about to step onto the ramp. “This time you follow orders, Colonel.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. “Sir?”
“This time, you bring Daniel Jackson back.”
Now that was an order he could wholeheartedly get behind. “Yes, sir.” He just hoped Daniel wouldn’t fight him too hard on it, or make a liar out of him. Turning to his team, he ordered, “Move out.” He watched as everyone filed through the event horizon – all except Captain Carter, that is. She stood next to him, her eyes fixed on the shimmering blue surface. “Captain?”
Her attention only half on him, she said, “Oh, don’t worry, Colonel. I won’t let you down.”
Swallowing his amusement, he couldn’t quite help himself. “I don’t doubt that. I was gonna say ‘ladies first’, but…” He sauntered off without finishing his sentence, biting his cheek to keep from grinning.
Carter caught up with him. “You really will like me, sir,” she assured earnestly, which only served to amuse him further.
“Oh, don’t worry, Captain, I adore you already,” he quipped.
They paused just in front of the event horizon. Carter appeared too awed to move further as she gently touched the surface and started spouting off her science babble. Amused, Jack was, but he didn’t have time for this. He didn’t know how long the gate would remain open and he didn’t plan on finding out today, so he gave her a gentle push, causing her to nearly trip through the gate. He followed immediately after and glanced back at the gate winking out behind him. Yeah, he hadn’t missed that sensation one little bit. He shivered.
His men were already setting up a tight perimeter around the gate area, so Jack permitted himself to look around. In part, the memories of last time assailed him, but also his senses. Everything was just the same and vastly different at the same time and it took him a minute to adjust to it all. He hadn’t realized how earthy and spicy Abydos smelled. Or just how hot it was. He had served in several of the hotter areas of Earth, but those had nothing on this planet.
His ears told him that people were surrounding them, but he wasn’t too concerned. Mostly, he heard cloth moving, and feet shuffling. He did catch weapons being primed, but they sounded like the guns they had left behind, and not like the weapons that Ra’s guards had used. Daniel was coming. He could sense that, too, and not just by sound or scent. He could feel the approach of the other Guide. The only other Guide around.
Sure enough, Daniel sprang out from between the pillars, arms outstretched toward the Abydonians as he called out something that sounded like, “Chahare,” whatever that meant. “Chahare. Lower your guns.” He turned slowly around, the trademark look of puzzled curiosity on his face. “Hello, Jack. Welcome back.”
Glad as Jack was to see Daniel again – and he was ecstatic, though he’d never admit that to anyone – the second he registered Skaara behind Daniel, all else faded. Well, almost all else. All his senses were primed on Daniel, but Skaara seemed to call to his heart. The boy had grown so much, but he still looked exactly as he had a year before. He still reminded Jack forcibly of Charlie and he just could not help himself. Skaara saluted him and Jack grinned, pulling the boy into a fierce hug. It was almost like holding Charlie again and oddly enough it settled something inside of Jack that he hadn’t realized had been out of place. “Skaara.”
“O’Neill. I did not think to be seeing you again!” Skaara looked thrilled.
Jack’s heart nearly burst with happiness. It only dampened slightly as he registered the mild disappointment and concern pouring off of Daniel. “Daniel, how are you doing?” he asked as casually as he knew how.
“Good, you?” Daniel replied with faux-casualness, his arms tight across his chest. He seemed uncomfortable, unsure what to make of it all, and confused by Jack of all things. Well, more so than usual, Jack supposed.
“Much better now that I know everyone’s okay,” Jack answered glibly.
Feretti and Kawalsky both greeted Daniel, who grinned and shook his head when the latter handed him a packet of tissues. Jack knew there was still someone in the room who hadn’t shown themselves and sure enough, Sha’re came out of hiding. It was all Jack could do to push down the Sentinel in him who wanted to rage at the knowledge she was Daniel’s wife. He had known that long before now and there was nothing he could do to change that. He would have to talk to Daniel soon, though. Putting on his best smile, he held out his hand to her, which she took shyly. “Nice to see you again.”
Daniel’s eyes flickered over the team before focusing back on Jack. “So, I figured it was only a matter of time before you had to tell the truth about us still being here.”
“Yeah,” Jack agreed, nodding. “Why the militia? Something else come through?” He had figured on Daniel having the gate watched, but he was a little surprised to see the thing so well guarded. It made him wonder whether Hammond had been right about the aliens having come from here.
“No, we’re just taking precautions, why?” Daniel asked, straightening as he picked up on an undercurrent as only he could.
Before Jack could answer, Carter blurted, “Amazing.”
Both Jack and Daniel turned to find her gazing at the DHD and babbling about how they had to MacGyver a system to make up for the fact that Earth didn’t have one.
“Captain?” Jack called, but she was lost to her ramblings. “Captain!” he tried again.
She paused finally and walked over to them. “Oh, excuse me,” she said, holding her hand out to Daniel. “Dr. Jackson, I presume. I’m Dr. Samantha Carter.”
Jack blinked. “I thought you wanted to be called ‘Captain’, Captain?” Had she been pulling his leg?
She glanced at him, seemingly abashed. Daniel interrupted, his gaze pinning Jack in place. “What’s going on, Jack?”
Skaara looked questioningly at him and Jack had to force himself to answer Daniel rather than try to reassure the boy next to him. “Six hostile aliens came through the gate on Earth. Four people are dead, one’s missing.”
“One of them looked like Ra, Daniel,” Kawalsky added.
Daniel’s eyebrows pulled together as he drew Sha’re closer. “Well, they didn’t come through here,” he assured. “We always take shifts guarding it, thirty-six hours a day, every day. We’d know if they came through here.”
“Well, they came from somewhere, Daniel.” Jack said quietly.
The other man nodded, a far away look in his eyes. It made Jack smile a little. He remembered that look. “I think I can help you figure out what it was,” Daniel said, “but err, it’s gonna have to wait until this sandstorm is over. We were about to have our evening meal. Why don’t you join us?”
They gathered around the fire, everyone talking, catching up, and laughing. Jack felt more content than he had in a very long time. Eventually, the topic of the visitors came up again and Daniel casually said that whoever had come to Earth, couldn’t have come from Abydos.
“Why not? It’s the only other stargate, isn’t it?” Jack asked.
Daniel grinned that little grin he had when he knew something Jack didn’t. “Well, you’d be wrong about that.”
Carter leaned in. “What are you talking about? I was there. We ran hundred of permutations, and never got a hit.”
Daniel nodded slightly in acknowledgement. “That’s because you didn’t have what you needed.”
“What do you mean?” Carter asked again, sounding both annoyed and intrigued.
Skaara came up behind Daniel and murmured too low for anyone but Daniel – and Jack, since he was a Sentinel – to hear, “The sandstorm’s died down.”
Daniel wiped his fingers and began to rise after thanking the boy. “I’ll show you,” he added to Carter.
Jack felt a tiny stab of jealousy that he quickly pushed down. It didn’t quite work, considering that Sha’re pulled Daniel in for a passionate kiss. When she let go, Daniel looked dazed, people were laughing and cheering, Kawalsky and Feretti were wolf whistling, and Jack had to work to keep from growling. He really needed to get a few moments alone with that man. Daniel gave him an odd look before leading them out of the pyramid.
They walked for what felt like hours since there was nothing but sand in every direction. Eventually they came to another pyramid, this one much smaller than the one that held the gate, and seemingly half-buried in the sand. “I spent the first weeks roaming around the village but I figured there had to be more to this planet. After about a month I found this place. Captain-Doctor,” Daniel said over his shoulder at Carter, “You’re gonna love this.”
They stepped into a large, high-ceilinged room, covered floor-to-ceiling with hieroglyphs, large statues strewn around the room. Even Jack had to admit that this was one hell of a find. He had to hand it to Daniel, though he was a little confused by what the significance of it was. When he asked, Daniel became excited, as he was prone to do, and began to explain. Jack tried to keep up, he really did, but this was all a little too over his head and Daniel was talking rapid-fire. When Carter entered into the discussion, it got even worse. The one thing that Jack did latch onto was the instant connection between Carter and Daniel, and Jack didn’t care for it one bit. Yeah, he was definitely jealous.
Finally, Jack and Kawalsky shared an exasperated look and the other man piped up. “Okay, so what have we just learned?”
Carter grinned. “A species advanced enough to make the gates has to be advanced enough to figure out fifty thousand years of stellar drift.” She raised her eyes up the walls, then added with a mild tone of despair, “Those aliens could have come from anywhere.”
Anywhere. That… couldn’t be good. It was good insofar as it meant they hadn’t come from Abydos, which struck the planet off of the list of possible threats, but that left the entire universe open as one. That was sure to go over swell with the general, Jack thought.
Taking a deep breath, he ordered, “Carter, Kawalsky, take recordings of the walls so we can take the information back to Hammond.” At their, “Yes, sirs,” Jack turned to Daniel and added, “Can I talk to you alone for a moment?”
Daniel raised his eyebrows in surprise, but nodded, holding a hand out to indicate the way to another chamber. “Sure, Jack.” Once they were out of earshot of the others, Daniel rested against the wall and eyed Jack speculatively. “What’s up, Jack?” he finally asked when they had stood staring at each other for a minute.
Clearing his throat, Jack rubbed the back of his neck. “I err…”
Daniel narrowed his eyes. “You’ve changed. You’re…” he tilted his head. “You came online.”
Jack flushed, nodding. “Yeah. Shortly after I returned to Earth, actually. In retrospect, I think I was coming online before Charlie died, but when I lost him, I kind of lost myself for a while. Everything else got… buried, I guess,” he admitted.
Daniel nodded. “But when you got back, there was no stopping it anymore,” he finished for him.
“Yeah. It… sort of happened right after the gate winked out, near as I can figure, thinking back on it.”
Daniel’s eyes widened. “Really?”
Jack’s gaze flickered off to the side for a moment, feeling slightly embarrassed. “Yeah. Everyone thought it was just the strain of it all. Charlie dying, the mission, going to a different planet and all that. I did, too. In fact, I didn’t even really realize what had happened until a few weeks later. Sarah’d kicked me out and our divorce was being pushed through. I was alone in my cabin and I kept thinking about the mission. Skaara. And about you.”
“Me?” Daniel sounded stunned.
Jack scrubbed his face as he took a deep breath, trying to collect his thoughts. “I’m honestly not even sure why. At least, I wasn’t at the time.”
“You weren’t sure at the time?” Daniel repeated quietly, obviously trying to make certain he had heard correctly, and putting all the gathered information together as only he could.
“Yeah. Anyway. It took me a while to figure out that my hearing had gotten better, I could see more, smell… everything. Sentinels don’t really run in my family as far as I’m aware. None of us ever got tested for it, at any rate, and I’m the first one online that I know of. But I’d worked with enough of them to get the hint, once it finally got my attention, that is.”
That earned him the patented Daniel eye-roll accompanied by a soft huff of amusement.
“Yeah, well.” Jack sighed, trying to figure out what to say next. “I kept thinking about you. While I’ve worked with plenty of Sentinels and Guides before, I’d never really hung out with any. And you sort of stuck out in my mind. You were always so…” He paused to search for an appropriate word.
“Annoying?” Daniel supplied dryly.
Jack sent him a level look. “Calm,” he corrected. “Even when you were excited about something, you always felt calm to me.”
Daniel nodded in understanding. Tilting his head, he narrowed his eyes again as if thinking about something. “I wonder why I didn’t realize you were coming online. I usually pick up on that sort of thing pretty quick, but I don’t recall-” He blinked, then nodded again, this time as if confirming something to himself. “You felt numb to me. Almost dead, emotionally, and raw at the same time. I figured it was because of what happened to Charlie, so I never delved much deeper than that.”
Jack wanted to ask why, but Daniel answered the unspoken question. “I wanted to respect your privacy as much as possible. To give you the space to grieve, if you could.”
Jack smiled softly. He could appreciate that, and it didn’t really surprise him. Daniel had been in his face when he had needed to be, but had otherwise left him alone when it came to Charlie. “Thank you,” he said quietly.
Daniel’s lips twitched. “Of course, Jack.” After a beat, he added, “So why are you telling me all this now?”
Jack bit his cheek. Moment of truth, he thought and took a deep breath before blurting out, “Because I haven’t stopped thinking about you, Daniel. And because I’ve gone through two interim Guides, and several meet-‘n-greets, and I can’t seem to get you out of my mind. It’s like there’s this hole in my chest that no Guide’s been able to fill and the only time I ever come close is when I think of you.”
There. All his cards were pretty much on the table now. His heart felt like it was trying to beat out of his chest as he waited for a reaction from Daniel. Any reaction. Daniel merely stared at him, appraising him, it seemed like. Finally, after what felt like an age, he said quietly, “I’m married, Jack.”
His heart twinged and Jack had to work to keep his features even. “I know.”
“The Abydonians are mundanes,” Daniel continued. Jack knew this, too, but remained silent. Finally Daniel went on, “They’ve accepted me. Helped me when I needed it, to keep my gifts under control.”
Jack winced at that. He hadn’t really considered that Daniel as a Guide might have difficulties, too. It wasn’t often spoken about, even in the Sentinel/Guide community. He was all too aware, though, how much that acceptance would mean to Daniel after everything he had been through. Jack was at a loss to what to say to that, so he waited.
Daniel pushed away from the wall to step closer to Jack, his eyes searching. “You don’t feel numb anymore,” he noted.
Jack shook his head. “No.”
Daniel lifted his hand until it hovered above his heart, his gaze locked on Jack’s. “What do you want, Jack?” he asked quietly.
Taking a shaky breath, Jack forced the words to form on his lips, his throat so dry he was afraid his voice would fail. “You. Daniel, I want you. You’re my Guide, Daniel. I have no doubt whatsoever. Not then, and sure as hell not now.”
Daniel’s hand slowly rested over his heart. “Sentinel.”
An ungainly whimper escaped Jack at that one simple word – one he would deny uttering to his dying day. Before he could stop himself, Jack wrapped Daniel in his arms and tucked his face into the other man’s neck, inhaling deeply. “Guide,” he whispered, causing Daniel to shiver.
Jack could feel his senses settle in a way they never had before. They hadn’t even fully bonded yet, but the difference was enormous to Jack. Without meaning to, he let his senses spread wide, glutting himself as much as he could on the man in his arms. His Guide. Finally.
His ears picked up the faint sound of the stargate engaging and he jerked upright, startling Daniel. “What? What is it, Jack?” he asked, cupping Jack’s face in his hands, forcing his focus to return to him.
Jack blinked, opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He tried again. “The gate. Someone’s coming.” He concentrated on his hearing and reeled at the sound of gunfire that met him. “Trouble. Come on. Hurry.”
Jack grabbed Daniel’s robe and ran out of the room, pulling the other man along with him as he barked orders for the others to follow him. He could hear kids screaming, in fear, in pain, in despair. He heard people dying, and he heard the screams of the women who were taken. Of Skaara fighting. He heard the stargate engaging once more and the visitors departing, taking their prisoners with them and there was nothing Jack could do to help them. By the time their group had made it back to the pyramid, it was over and the enemy was long gone.
They surveyed the room in shock, and Daniel automatically seemed to go among the Abydonians to console them, asking what had happened. Checking their wounds. Helping where he could and mourning where he couldn’t. Jack counted the dead, most of his team among them. The only survivor beyond Kawalsky and Carter, who had gone with him, was Feretti, though he was gravely injured.
Slowly, the horror of it really dawned on Jack and he nearly choked. Skaara was gone, as was Sha’re. Daniel was instantly alert and by Jack’s side to make sure he was okay, though his eyes roamed the room for his wife. “Sha’re?” he called, but no answer came.
One of the kids that had been shot came hobbling over to them, tears streaming down his face as he told them what had happened. How the God – Ra, it had to be Ra, the boy insisted – had walked among them. How he had ordered Sha’re and one other to be taken. How Skaara had fought for his sister only to be taken prisoner, too. How their God was punishing them for failing him.
Jack felt his anger rise, as well as the bile in his throat. Ra was dead, damnit. Before he could open his mouth, Daniel was shaking the boy by the shoulders. “No! Ra is gone. He is dead. We killed him. Ra is dead,” he reiterated, holding the boy’s gaze.
“He was a God!” the boy insisted.
“No. They are false Gods. Pretenders, and they do not deserve your loyalty or devotion,” Daniel continued. “I don’t know who that was, but he was not a God. I will find Skaara and Sha’re. We,” he indicated Jack and himself, “will find them, and we will return them. Go to my good father and tell him what happened. Tell him I will bring his son and daughter back to him.”
“But how? When?” The boy still had tears on his face, but Jack could see both hope and faith shimmer in his eyes.
“I don’t know,” Daniel admitted, “but we will do everything we can to get them back. Tell good father to bury the gate. Make it so no one can ever come through. Nothing good comes from that gate,” he insisted.
The boy’s eyes widened in horror at that. He grabbed Daniel’s hand. “But you came from the gate, Daniel.”
Jack actually smiled at the obvious devotion for his Guide in the boy’s voice. Daniel truly had become part of the tribe and they all loved him. Daniel shared a glance with Jack and he grimaced at the pain and loss so clear in the other man’s features. Jack put his hand on Daniel’s shoulder in support, earning him a grateful smile.
Daniel turned his attention back to the boy. “One year. You tell good father one year from today, unbury the gate and I will bring Sha’re back if I can. If I’m not there, then bury the gate forever.”
The boy was shaking his head, unwilling to accept the finality. The very idea of never seeing Daniel again.
“Promise me,” Daniel pressed.
After a minute, the boy relented, promising to deliver the message as well as to do as Daniel had ordered and bury the gate. They hugged fiercely for a moment. Jack was loathe to break them up, but they needed to leave. He could hear Feretti’s breathing becoming more labored. “Carter,” Jack ordered, “Dial the gate.”
Carter got up from her position by Feretti’s side where she’d been tending his wounds and rushed over to the DHD to start dialing. Daniel called everyone’s attention, gathering the tribe around him as he briefly explained what would happen. What had to happen. More protests were made, but eventually one by one, they all subsided, bowing to Daniel’s superior knowledge.
After several tearful goodbyes, they finally made it through the gate. Hammond came to greet them, giving Daniel a hard look as he tried to jump right into things. Futile effort, of course. There were procedures to follow, and debriefings to be had, as well as post-mission medical to go through. Daniel suffered through it all with ill grace, not that Jack could blame him. He did his best to stick close to his Guide, wishing he could do more for the man. He was still a little awed that Daniel really was his Guide, that he was here, on Earth. The only thing that truly dampened it was the fact that Sha’re had been taken and that they couldn’t really come to any real resolution until she’d been found.
Jack vowed then and there that he would do whatever it took to help Daniel keep his word. They would find Sha’re and Skaara and they would get them back to Abydos if it was the last thing he would ever do.
The debriefing went as well as Jack had expected. Both Carter and Daniel supplied the brunt of the information, leaving Jack to fill in the blanks as needed. When Hammond gave a green light to continued missions, Daniel tried to get Hammond to let him join SG-1, but he wouldn’t hear of it. As far as Jack could tell, Hammond was rather furious with the archeologist for having remained on Abydos against orders.
As Hammond stalked out of the meeting room, Daniel turned desperately to Jack. “Jack,” he pleaded. “I have to be on that team. I have to go out there and look-”
Jack sighed and nodded. “Give me a minute,” he said, leaving Daniel behind as he followed the general into his office. Closing the door, he cleared his throat. “Sir?”
Hammond took his seat and shuffled papers around in agitation. “What is it, Colonel?
“Permission to speak freely?” At Hammond’s nod, Jack continued. “We need him, sir.” Hammond raised an eyebrow in challenge, but remained silent. “Daniel has a better feel of what is out there than anyone here, General. Ra, and Apophis are both right out of Egyptian history. Who better than an archeologist to help figure all of the nuances we might come across, out? Besides, he is the one that finally managed to get the stargate working.”
Hammond sat back in his chair, watching Jack shrewdly. “There’s something else you’re not telling me,” he accused.
Jack had the good grace to flush. Clearing his throat, he nodded. “Yes, sir. Daniel… he’s my Guide, sir.”
He had hoped to get Daniel on his team under his own merit, but if that wouldn’t work he wasn’t about to let that stop him. By law, a Sentinel couldn’t be sent out in the field without his Guide if he had one. If that was what it took to get Daniel on SG-1, then Jack would use it.
Folding his hands over his belly, Hammond hummed. “I see.” The man seemed to enjoy making Jack sweat as he watched him for long seconds. “Very well. He’s on your team, but on your head be it, Colonel.”
Jack heaved a sigh of relief and saluted the general.”Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
Suppressing a grin, Jack turned on his heel and headed back to the meeting room where Daniel was still waiting anxiously. “Well?” Daniel asked the second the door closed behind Jack.
Jack didn’t say anything, merely stepped up to the other man and pulled him in his arms. He was gratified when Daniel wrapped his arms around him in response. “You’re on the team,” Jack said quietly.
Daniel leaned back a little to catch Jack’s eyes. “Really?”
He nodded. “Really.”
Daniel pressed his face against Jack’s neck as he shuddered, relief pouring from him. “Thank you, Jack.”
“Don’t thank me yet,” Jack quipped. “You’ll need to qualify with a gun.”
“Ha ha. I’m serious Jack.”
“So am I.”
Daniel pulled away slightly and sighed. “We’ll find them, right?”
Jack cupped the man’s cheek, nodding. “We’ll find them,” he promised. He hadn’t the first clue how, or when, but he knew they would. Eventually.
“I have to find her, Jack. Things have changed, I get that, but she’s still my wife. I owe it to her.”
“I know, Daniel. I get it, okay. Nothing’s happening until we’ve found her.”
Daniel smiled sadly. “I’m sorry.”
Jack huffed. “Don’t be. This isn’t your fault, okay? We’ll figure this out together.”
Daniel nodded. “Together.”