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* TITLE: Loose Ends
* AUTHOR: Redbyrd
* EMAIL: redbyrd (at) mindspring (dot) com
* RATING: PG
* CATEGORY: missing scene
* SUMMARY: Missing scenes and tag for Threads. Why was Anubis so chatty? What did Oma want? And how did Daniel get back to the SGC anyway?
* SPOILERS: Maternal Instinct, Absolute Power, Ascension, Abyss, Full Circle, Lockdown, Reckoning 1&2, and Threads
* AUTHOR'S NOTE: Indulging my completist tendencies and, well, tying up a few loose ends.
The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
Daniel stared into his coffee. For possibly the first time in the history of the known universe, he didn't feel like drinking it. Of course it wasn't exceptional coffee. Just the kind of thing he'd get at a roadside diner. He briefly wondered why his subconscious had brought him here instead of the SGC commissary, his own kitchen, or for that matter his favorite coffeehouse. As soon as he framed the question, he knew the answer. Duh. His world was being torn apart. Someone he trusted to put things right was telling him that things were going to change irrevocably and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it. And he was surrounded by uncaring strangers conducting their own business indifferently around him.
He picked up the sugar container and turned it around in his hands. So, he knew why he was here, but why was he here, that was the question. Good people died every day-- he remembered sitting in the dark after Janet died, wondering where Oma was, wondering how he could keep getting last minute reprieves when someone as good and caring as Janet didn't get even one extra chance. He'd been ascended once already and screwed up royally. Yet Oma was here to help him again. 'Because I didn't want to see you die without at least giving you a second chance. Look, I have trouble following the rules. I'm not really supposed to help people ascend.'
Trouble following the rules. That tickled a faint recollection that might almost be memory, and a solid weight of certainty settled in Daniel's awareness. He couldn't exactly remember-- ascended didn't verbalize the way human minds did-- but somewhere in the part of his brain that processed language and comprehension, he understood that Oma felt a certain kinship with him. The desire to help was something they shared.
He looked at his watch, which seemed to show a random number whenever he looked at it. Wherever he was, it wasn't a real place. There was no way to tell how fast time was passing. The newspaper article seemed to imply that it was at least a week since he was captured by the Replicators. But he knew firsthand how time could be compressed in mental landscapes. This could be taking minutes-- or months. He poured the sugar into his cup watching the grains shift hypnotically around each other as they fell. He was betting longer rather than shorter. It would take a while for him to get tired of coffee, even imaginary coffee.
He poured more sugar, glancing around to see Oma apparently arguing with the middle aged guy who gave him the paper. Curious, he listened, but couldn't hear what they were talking about. As Oma stalked away, Daniel got up and walked over to the counter beside him.
"Hey," Daniel said.
The man looked around and smiled cheerfully, "Hey! Daniel! How's it going?"
He couldn't call it a nagging sense of familiarity, more like a noticeable absence of unfamiliarity. "Do we know each other? I feel like I know you." He didn't recognize the guy at all, but maybe he just didn't remember.
Anyway, the fellow seemed to know him. He said, "Call me Jim. We ran into each other last time you were ascended."
Daniel said, "Ah. Nice to meet you ... again." They shook hands and Daniel sat down on a stool.
Jim said, "Still haven't made up your mind, huh? Death - or everlasting enlightenment. I don't really see the choice, myself."
"Of course I don't want to be dead ," Daniel said, "- it's just that, uh ... Listen, the reason I came over here was to ask you - why are you talking to me?"
Daniel stared at the paper, thinking Jim's answers had left him with more questions than he had started with. If Jim and Oma broke the rules, then why didn't the Others stop them? Why wasn't Daniel's corpse floating around in space somewhere instead of getting another crack at ascension? What did Oma want?
He smiled ironically. Funny how his life kept going around in circles. From homeless at eight to homeless at twenty-nine, again at thirty and once more at thirty-seven. Family died at eight, ripped apart at thirty, left behind at thirty-six. Now he had to choose to leave them behind again or die with them. Damn it, there had to be another solution...something he could do... If the choice was to ascend again or die fighting beside his friends, he'd choose to fight. But what was the point if the battle was hopeless? There, he could fight, but was ignorant. Here he had knowledge, but was powerless. All he could do here was talk... he glanced speculatively at Jim. "This is bad."
Jim seemed more interested in his pie than Daniel, but at least he responded. "Yeah. And this pie is great," he said, turning over his mug, "but there's nothing to wash it down with."
"Is there anything you can do to stop Anubis?" Daniel asked. "I mean, you did say someone should do something."
"I did, didn't I?" Jim shrugged helplessly. "Well, as far as what can be done, it's kinda complicated."
More runaround. Daniel said, "Yeah, so Oma tells me."
Jim replied suggestively, "Yeah, well I don't think she's told you everything."
Daniel watched Jim leave. And he thought he'd been confused before. What the hell was going on? Jim was implying that Oma had some kind of ulterior motive for bringing him here. That she was angry. But that didn't make any sense. If he didn't know better, he would have said the other man was trying to drive a wedge between him and Oma. But why? He picked up the paper to reread the article as Oma came out of the kitchen.
"Well, you can't stay here forever, you know," she said, then looked thoughtful. "Actually, I suppose you could, I just don't know why you'd really want to-- except for the great service!" She poured him some more coffee. The pile of soggy sugar was gone, he noticed, just as the tables seemed to clear themselves and the diners moved around when he wasn't paying attention. More proof, as if he didn't already know this wasn't a real place.
He said, "Look, obviously I don't want to just die. I don't suppose there are any other options?"
Oma was evasive, and now he was sure there was something more here to find out. "I can't get into it. What's stopping you from ascending?"
"I don't know," Daniel said. Actually, that wasn't true. He didn't really want to ascend. Not when he still wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.
"Must be something holding you back - making you doubt yourself," Oma said.
Daniel suggested, "Maybe it's not me I'm doubting."
Oma shook her head, "Look, whether you choose to accept living on a higher plane of existence has nothing to do with me or anything that I can or can't tell you. It's all up to you."
"But there is something you're not telling me."
Daniel watched Oma walk away in frustration. 'Is that what Jim said? You shouldn't be listening to him.' Why not? Why could he even talk to Jim if he wasn't supposed to listen to him. What was it that Oma didn't want him to know? It made no sense. Unless.. a piece of the puzzle rotated and fell into place with an inaudible 'click'. What was it that Oma wanted him to know, but wasn't allowed to tell him?
Hours of furious thinking brought Daniel no closer to understanding Oma's motives, though he was starting to get a handle on Anubis. This was all about the Others, ultimately, and their rules. Anubis was scrupulously adhering to the rules-- he could do anything he could have done as a goa'uld, but he couldn't use his ascended powers beyond that. A fragment of memory floated up. Himself telling Jack, ' -taking action that changes human existence, that's a big one.' Anubis couldn't use his ascended power to change human existence. But if all life in the galaxy were wiped out-- by means available to the goa'uld-- Jim said that Anubis could recreate life to his own liking.
Daniel shivered. The goa'uld posed as gods, but Anubis wanted to actually be one, to extinguish all life and recreate it in his own image. Daniel vividly remembered the world Sokar had created-- Netu, the physical expression of Hell. Anubis would have an entire galaxy for his playground, and by finding and using the Ancient device on Dakara, the Tau'ri had given it to him.
He wished he could remember more from when he was ascended the last time. The Replicator mind probe had cracked the lid on those memories, but the only clear ones were from the times he'd been interacting with corporeal beings. He remembered all too much of what Jack had gone through as Ba'al's prisoner, and all too little of how he'd finessed the rules to help him escape. That elusive intuition that told him he was interpreting ascended memories said Oma had chided him for the tiny nudge he'd given his teammates-- But the rebuke had been more a matter of form rather than real conviction. And it had been only a tiny nudge. The kind of pulling together disparate sources of information to uncover the truth that he did every day at the SGC. Suddenly he wondered if that was why he'd gotten away with helping Jack, because he hadn't done anything he couldn't have done before he ascended.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. Oma watched him help Sam and Jonas find the Eye of Ra, and had not interfered because he hadn't used ascended powers or knowledge to do it. He'd used only his archeological expertise. The same with reading the Ancient tablet. Telling Jack that Anubis was attacking Abydos was probably crossing the line-- but Skaara and the others could and likely would have contacted Earth on their own. Only when Daniel had attacked Anubis, and therefore interfered in a way that changed human existence, had Oma stopped him. That could explain ascension as well. Perhaps Oma could help people ascend instead of die, because technically she wasn't interfering with their existence while they were still alive. He grimaced and wondered if the Ancients had been a race of lawyers. Now he understood why he'd told Jack he was walking a fine line.
Of course that didn't explain Kheb. Why is it that Oma could kill all those Jaffa on Kheb, when he couldn't even rescue Jack without the Others breathing down his neck?
The fat man looked at Daniel expectantly.
"Oma helped Anubis ascend." Daniel said certainly. He couldn't believe it even as he said it... and yet, like his unconventional theories on the age of the pyramids all those years ago, it fit the evidence too well to be ignored.
Jim snapped his fingers and pointed at Daniel with an affirmative nod. Oma walked over to them.
"Get out," Oma ordered. Jim just looked at her. "Get out now." Daniel blinked. This was new. He wouldn't have thought that one ascended being could order another around. Jim said that a majority vote of the collective could admit someone to their ranks. That didn't suggest inequality. Could there be ranks among the ascended? It made logical sense but it didn't feel right. Ascended ought to be equals.
But Jim was clearly nervous and retreating, although he played it casual, looking at his watch. "Well, look at the time. Gotta go, kid - uh, business to attend to." He patted Daniel on the leg. "It was nice talking to you, though." He got up and walked away whistling.
Daniel stared at Oma. Not only did he not understand why Jim had gone at Oma's order, but he didn't understand why Oma had sent him away. What was it that she didn't want him to know? And why? 'You're supposed to do it on your own.' Was that it? He could use knowledge he figured out for himself, but if Jim gave it to him, was it somehow going to be restricted?
Daniel was increasingly sure that Jim's motives, whatever they were, were not the same as Oma's. He wanted Daniel and Oma at odds, which was enough reason to stay cool even if he hadn't been insanely curious. He looked at Oma. "Why don't we sit down?" Daniel said.
She met his eyes with something of shame and embarrassment in them, and followed him back to his booth. They stared at each other for a moment before Daniel broke the silence. "So it's true."
"He tricked me," Oma said.
Daniel was flabbergasted. All Oma's power and knowledge and a goa'uld had tricked her? "How? You couldn't tell?"
"No. He must have found some old Ancient research on ascension. When he came to Kheb, he knew what he was doing. When I realised the horrible mistake that I had made, I tried to undo it, but I couldn't. That's when the Others stepped in."
He saw the same desolation in her eyes that he'd seen on his own face when he remembered the destruction of Abydos. "I don't understand - they only sent him halfway back. Why not all the way?"
"It's complicated," Oma said.
"Yeah, what isn't around here?" Daniel replied. This had to be a rules problem. Oma wanted him to figure this out on his own. But why? Because if he did, he could take the knowledge back? That didn't make sense. She'd already told him that he wouldn't have the knowledge he had gained here if he ascended and then retook human form.
Oma said, "They warned him. He wasn't allowed to use any knowledge or power unless he otherwise would have gained it as a Goa'uld."
Daniel felt that annoying tickle again, the sense of something half remembered. Something obvious. "I don't understand. They let him wreak havoc. They don't care if he destroys all life in the galaxy - life they themselves created?"
Oma said, "They haven't stopped me from continuing my work. I've tried to make up for it - help when I can."
Daniel said "It's your punishment. You're forced to watch, powerless to interfere, and let Anubis do whatever he wants just to punish you?"
Oma replied, "I told you before - the galaxy you're from, the plane of existence, is so small and insignificant compared to the rest of the universe."
That made Daniel furious. People were never small and insignificant in his book. "I don't care. It's wrong."
"That's what you said last time," she said with a reminiscent smile.
Daniel stood up and vented some of his righteous anger. "Excuse me?" he said to the room at large. "Isn't it enough already? I mean, a whole galaxy of innocent people enslaved and tortured for generations, now on the verge of being destroyed for nothing? For what? For one mistake a good person made trying to do a good thing." No one even looked up. "C'mon, the least you could do is listen to me." Still no sign they even knew he existed. Daniel raised his voice. "That can't be against the grand high-falutin' cosmic rules!"
Daniel turned to the nearest booth. "Hey! I'm talkin' to you!" He reached for the man's throat, but his hands went through in a blaze of white light. It felt like grasping starlight, and his hands tingled with a cold heat. As he instinctively stepped back, the man solidified into human form again. "Okay," he said, a little shaken. "Okay, well, I know you can hear me. Hasn't she suffered enough already? And certainly enough other people have suffered to punish her. Don't you think you've made your point?"
Oma said, "That's the thing, Daniel. They don't. I keep breaking the same rule - helping people ascend. That's why you're here." That's why he was here? Because Oma helped him ascend? Was he somehow part of her punishment? That made no sense.
"What if you stopped?" he asked.
"Wouldn't undo the problem," Oma said. "That's why I keep doing what I do. Anubis can't be killed - not by you, not by me."
Daniel wondered if that meant Anubis couldn't be killed by material humans either. And was it that neither he nor Oma could kill Anubis-- or that they weren't allowed? He stared at the seeming woman across from him and tried to frame a question that might pry out more information.
He changed tacks abruptly. "What about the people of Abydos? Skaara told Jack that they were all ascended."
"What of them?" A trace of confusion crossed her face.
"Are they here?" he waved a hand at the restaurant.
"No," Oma said. "The collective agreed to help them ascend, but they reside in a different plane than the Others. They were good people, but not even as mentally prepared as you were for ascension. In time they may join us fully." Daniel blinked. There were different levels of ascension. The Abydonians weren't allowed all the powers of the fully ascended. Anubis was restricted to the knowledge and power he could amass as a goa'uld. Had he been considered somehow inferior because Oma had helped him?
"Did the Others help them to communicate with my friends? Or did you?" Daniel asked.
"The circumstances were very unusual," Oma said. "Your brother Skaara argued most eloquently for the chance to say goodbye. The Others granted his request." She still seemed a little puzzled, but watched him with fixed attention.
Daniel couldn't escape the nagging feeling he was missing something. The Others were so hot on non-interference, yet they ascended an entire planet full of people. They didn't do that for Velona. His brow drew together in concentration. Whatever he was missing had to do with Orlin's planet. Orlin had given the Velonans the knowledge to build an Ancient weapon to defend themselves from the goa'uld. And it had worked. The Others didn't interfere until the Velonans started using the knowledge to plan the conquest of other worlds. Then they had destroyed the planet and confined Orlin there as punishment. He shook his head in frustration. "I don't get it. Orlin's mistake destroyed a world and he was allowed to atone." The puzzlement in Oma's expression disappeared and her eyes widened.
He looked over as Jim came back in and leaned on the back of their booth. He had another paper in his hands. Daniel's eyes fastened on it hungrily.
"Can I get a coffee?" Jim asked.
"Get it yourself," Oma told him with a little half-smile. 'Get it yourself.' 'You're supposed to do it on your own.' 'It's all up to you.' Oma wanted Daniel to ascend by himself. Because the people she helped to ascend were somehow second class citizens. Because there was something he could do if he ascended on his own that he couldn't if she helped. But what? He was almost positive he had enough pieces to put it together. Kheb and Velona...
Jim was ebullient. "Don't mind if I do!" He went over to the coffeepot, dropping the paper on the counter. "Ooh! Hey, Danny boy, you see the paper?"
Daniel stiffened slightly at the familiar name, but forbore to object in favor of getting more data. "No, what's it say?"
"The trick worked! Those stupid Jaffa took half their ships to hunt down Anubis. Meanwhile, his army was poised to attack Dakara. The remaining rebel Jaffa guarding Dakara are being slaughtered. It's only a matter of time before old Anubis gets his hands on the weapon."
Daniel said slowly, "I'm sorry - you sound almost happy about that." He gave Jim his full attention, momentarily shelving thoughts of Velona and Kheb.
"Who, me?" Jim asked with mock innocence.
"Yeah. What do you have against Oma?" he asked. He was tensed, as if in the presence of an enemy. Odd how he still felt physiological reactions even in the absence of a real body. He didn't like Jim, he realized. Didn't like him at all.
"Daniel," Oma protested in a low tone.
This was important, Daniel sensed. "No - I want to know." He turned half out of his seat to face Jim. "I mean, you're not just watching - you're coming in here to rub it in. Why are you taking such pleasure in her punishment?" Jim was bending the rules dropping hints the way he had, but the Others hadn't stopped him, and Daniel had figured all the key points himself.
"Me?" Jim said jovially. "I don't have anything against Oma. I think she's great, don't I?" He looked at Oma, almost taunting. Daniel looked from Oma to him, faint suspicion stirring in his brain. When Jim said, "Hell, she's the one that helped me ascend," a sudden chill ran down his neck, as Daniel realized who this had to be. The fat man smiled, suddenly looking not jolly at all. "You got it, huh?"
"You are Anubis," Daniel said.
Anubis laughed, raising his coffee mug to Daniel. "Cheers!" He took a sip and laughed harder.
No wonder he'd gotten that familiar/unfamiliar vibe from him. Daniel had been chatting amicably with the entity who'd cheated on their deal and murdered Daniel's family for no other reason than malice. "So you're telling me this why?" he asked. "Aren't you afraid I'll try and stop you?" No wonder 'Jim' had seemed to know him. Anubis had once possessed Daniel's body and had access to all his memories.
Anubis smiled. "Not really. And I'm telling you because I think you deserve to know. After all, if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be on the verge of galactic conquest." He took a sip from his mug, and looked around the diner. "Not to mention that you dream very amusingly."
The cool calculating part of Daniel's brain that took over under pressure told him that Anubis wanted him angry. Angry at him, angry at Oma, angry at the Others. Why? Anger is a burden. To ascend, he'd have to release his burdens. Anubis didn't want him to ascend. Neither alone nor with Oma's help. If he ascended, he might have the power to do something. He'd already messed up Anubis' plans once. "So now what? Conquer Dakara, exterminate all life in the galaxy, recreate it in your own image?"
"Pretty much," Anubis smirked. He poured another cup of coffee and drained it. "I may recreate coffee though. A little something to remind me of you and Oma." He glanced at Oma. "Oh, you make a great cup of coffee." He put down the coffee pot and mug and walked out from behind the counter. "Well, gotta go." He waved to Oma.
Daniel looked at Oma, who simply stared at Anubis helplessly. There was no way he could just stand by and let this happen. He threw himself at the goa'uld, passing through his body. The tingle of energy he'd felt when he touched the other ascended was nothing like the darkness he sensed from Anubis. He remembered this. He wheeled to face Anubis again.
"There's nothing you can do. You don't have the power," Anubis taunted him.
Daniel's thoughts tumbled furiously. To get the power he needed, he'd have to ascend. But the Others would stop him.. or would they? They had stopped Oma, but that was part of her punishment. Anubis had said, 'If you deserve to be here, you should be able to get here on your own.' If he ascended on his own, he'd have proven he deserved to be here, and he might be able to use his powers against Anubis. He'd have to release not only his anger, but his fear for his friends and the whole crazy messed-up wonderful galaxy they lived in...
Oma's cool voice cut across his chaotic thoughts, "But I do."
Anubis turned to face her. Oma stood, dissolving into sparkles. She rematerialized without the waitress uniform, appearing again as she had to counsel him when he'd chosen ascension after Kelowna. For the first time, the other diners reacted, all turning to stare at Oma.
Anubis chuckled, but he seemed a little nervous, "You can't kill me either."
Oma said steadily. "I can fight you." Could she? The Others had stopped her-- no. The Others had only chosen not to send him all the way back to the material plane when Oma failed. Oma had never tried to fight Anubis. That had been Daniel's solution.
"Well, you can't win," Anubis protested.
Oma was resolute. "It won't matter. You won't be able to do anything but fight me back." Her eyes briefly met Daniel's. 'She can't kill him, but she can keep him from hurting anyone else,' he realised. If the Others let her.
"Well, what are you gonna do?" Anubis demanded.
Oma was determined and utterly confident, "Something I should have done a long time ago." She walked toward him.
Anubis tried to edge away, "Oh, no. No. No! No!" He raised his hands to fend her off, but she released her human form and enveloped him. Daniel watched as Anubis also transformed to energy and they entwined, rising up to the ceiling and disappearing. He walked forward, then turned around to the other customers, who were all staring after Oma and Anubis. If anyone was going to try and stop Oma, there was no sign of it.
"You're still not going to talk to me, are you?" he asked. No one answered, or even changed expression. They just stared. "Right."
So what just happened? He remembered the flash he'd gotten when Replicator Sam probed his memory. Fighting had been Daniel's solution. The first time he confronted Anubis, Daniel must have figured out that one ascended being could render another impotent at the cost of their complete attention. He'd thought it a worthwhile trade to save Abydos and his friends. But he hadn't realized that Anubis' freedom was Oma's punishment. He looked around at the impassive Others. "You would never have let me stop him, would you?" he asked. "You wanted Oma to do it herself." No one responded, but they didn't have to. Daniel was pretty sure he understood.
If Oma hadn't stopped Daniel from fighting Anubis, the Others would have. And ascending without Oma's help wouldn't have made a difference, no matter what Oma believed. It was ironic that it had taken Daniel's mention of Orlin to make her understand that she could stop Anubis-- and she was the only one who could. Orlin had given his life to stop his original error from being repeated. The Others expected Oma to give hers to repair her mistake.
They would have let Anubis destroy an entire galaxy before simply telling Oma that sacrificing her own freedom was the only way she would be allowed to atone. Daniel found himself getting angry all over again. The ascended were willing to allow millions to be killed just to make a point. It wasn't just Anubis' victims. Certainly there must have been many innocents on Velona. But those were 'lowers', too small and insignificant to be of concern. Even Oma had destroyed hundreds of Jaffa on Kheb, some of whom might have chosen freedom if they'd known there was a choice. Small wonder he'd chosen descent and amnesia rather than accept some other form of punishment.
Several of the Others walked out, the rest sat back down and resumed eating. Great. Obviously they felt they still needed to watch him. The bell tinkled on the door as a teenager came in wearing a Colorado Avalanche T-shirt and jeans. He crossed the diner wearing a solemn expression. "Daniel."
Daniel smiled involuntarily. "Shifu." He had Sha're's dark eyes and something of her in the line of his face.
"Many roads cross on the way to the great path," Shifu said. "And ways that were blocked become clear."
"It's good to see you too. And I'm sure the Others didn't want you talking to me before this," Daniel said. "Will you be all right with Oma gone?"
"For a good student the world is a teacher."
Daniel smiled again. "And you're a very good student." He felt a sudden deep pang of sorrow. Five years since Sha're's death, eight since she was taken and still he missed her. She would have been so proud of Shifu. "Do you ever see Skaara and Kasuf?''
"Many roads cross," Shifu repeated. Daniel decided to take that as a yes. "Have you chosen your path?" the boy continued.
"Yes," Daniel said. But there wasn't any real choice at all. He'd already rejected death, and now that Anubis was neutralized, he had nothing left to fear. He nodded to his stepson. "And to know is to act." Thanks to the Replicator mind probe, he already had a fair idea what to do. He didn't need to move a muscle. He let go of fear and anger, doubt and guilt. He had done the best that he could. Standing perfectly still, Daniel Jackson gave himself to the light.
It was stretching after being crammed into a tiny space, a plethora of cascading answers unfolding after hours of wrestling with a question, a vast weight removed to let him float free. He remembered everything. He knew. He saw. He felt. He easily comprehended so much that was beyond his ability when constrained to the limitations of human thought. The diner his mind had constructed to make sense of the intermediate plane dissolved as Daniel's awareness expanded. The Others still hemmed him about closely, now watching as he claimed his full power. For an instant he felt the beauty and fascination of the higher plane, then he rejected it unequivocally.
Daniel remembered well the aching impotence of knowledge and power without the freedom to act. And even without second-class citizen status, the Others would never approve of him using his power to help his friends. And even if they did- Daniel had experienced godlike power in Shifu's dream. He was fairly sure it had never been intended for anyone as young as him. The dazzling allure of knowledge wasn't worth his friends grieving for him a second time. And Daniel refused to watch the people he cared about in danger, hurt or desperate, while he stood by and did nothing. Never again. He was going home.
He directed his awareness to the material plane and for the first time, knew their physical location. They were inside the temple at Dakara, a place Daniel had only seen in his mind before now. Bare seconds had elapsed since Oma attacked Anubis. As Daniel watched, the body Anubis had inhabited fell to the ground. The Kull warriors were already losing their focus. Jaffa took advantage of their distraction to surge forward. In the confusion, Anubis' host was zatted three times. Daniel wondered if anyone else had even noticed. The man wasn't in good shape anyway, and probably wouldn't have lived even if there was anything Daniel could do for him.
The stargate was active, Daniel saw. Without a second thought, he flew into the wormhole. Wormholes. Gate travel had never been like this before, even when he was ascended. He was hurtling through a maze. He flashed by several exits, hesitant to emerge when he had no idea where he'd come out. He had an intuition that time was important. The ascended didn't need gates, but they saved time and energy. Both of which he might shortly need. What had happened, he wondered... this was as if... oh.
Anubis had hooked all the gates together, he realized, the way Sam had to neutralize the Avenger virus, and again to destroy the Replicators. He realized he should be able to control this. He reached for the controls with his mind as Oma had taught him and projected the gate symbol for Earth. Exits started disappearing as the system accepted the new instructions and shut down gates that were not the selected destination. The ride smoothed out into the long familiar fall toward the terminal event horizon. Okay, he had been confident it would work, but he was still a little relieved when he popped out in the familiar underground bunker at the SGC.
It had probably been less than a minute since Anubis had opened the wormhole to Earth. Daniel expanded his awareness to fill the gate room, seeing Jack and Sam in the control room, staring at... the self destruct?! Of course, they thought Anubis was attacking. Daniel threw a bubble of slow time around the computer system as the wormhole dissipated. The counter slowed and stopped at 1.26 seconds before detonation.
Walter said, "Wormhole disengaged."
Sam asked, "What's going on?" Daniel felt a twinge of guilty amusement. Slow time. This was really going to bug her. And he'd never be able to explain it, any more than he could the silent singing of neutrinos.
"I don't know." Harriman replied, baffled. "Must be some kind of ... system malfunction."
"That's impossible!" Sam said.
"Shut it off," Jack instructed.
As Sam shut off the system and Jack heaved a sigh of relief, Daniel was conscious of the Others. They weren't 'looking' at him exactly, but he felt the weight of their attention. They disapproved of his meddling, he was aware, but they'd made no move against him. Yet. He hadn't pushed the rules so hard they were willing to take action. But if he stayed in this form, sooner or later he would. Best not to risk temptation, or in Oma's terms, deny the battle. He floated through a couple of walls, finding the nearest unoccupied space. Okay, now to retake human form.
After a few minutes, he realized that it wasn't going to be as easy as he had thought. He knew the theory, but controlling the energy to materialize a new body was finicky and difficult. His lingering apprehension that the Others were going to scrub his brain again once he did it wasn't helping. And this was one of the few things he didn't actually remember. Oma had created his human form the last time. She hadn't explained the process. Patiently, Daniel focused down to the essentials. He quickly contained the glow as he became visible. He didn't need the distraction of someone coming to see what the flash was in the general's office. He blocked out everything to concentrate, barely aware of the passage of time. It took hours. Slowly his body became more solid. He was vaguely aware that people had entered the briefing room. Teal'c was there, and Bra'tac, with Jack and Sam.
Finally, he regretfully let go of his higher awareness and forced himself back into flesh that seemed too crude to contain him. He sat trembling on the guest chair in Jack's office, his heartbeat thundering in his ears, the rush of air into his lungs a whistling gale. Gradually the hyperawareness faded and he was left feeling a little chilled and numb. Solid flesh enclosed him, familiar yet limiting. He firmly suppressed aching regret. Someday, maybe he'd go back. Oma wouldn't be there to help him, but he wouldn't need her. He knew the way on his own now. He listened to the meeting going on in the next room.
Bra'tac said, "The Kull warriors became... disorganised, confused, as though they no longer knew what to do."
"They no longer had a master to serve," Teal'c said.
Bra'tac continued. "After that, they were easily defeated."
Daniel glanced around the office while Teal'c and Bra'tac talked about the victory, and a monument to be erected on Dakara after the weapon was destroyed. On second thought, materializing in Jack's office was seeming more stupid every moment. Didn't Jack keep a spare shirt or something here? Daniel searched quickly but quietly. He found three yo-yos, a packet of Hostess cupcakes and a pencil with a Homer Simpson eraser on it in his desk, along with a quite astonishing amount of paperwork, but nothing he could use to cover himself. He briefly contemplated the possibilities of origami, but reluctantly decided he was just going to have to call out. He hovered inside the door, wondering if maybe he should just wait until the meeting was over and hope no one followed Jack back to his office.
Sam said, "I still don't quite understand what happened. One minute Anubis is about to push the button that ends all life in the galaxy, and the next minute he's just ... gone."
"Indeed. It is a great mystery," Teal'c said.
'No mystery, Teal'c, the naked guy can explain everything.' Daniel thought.
Bra'tac said, "One can only assume he was vanquished by some beings. If not, why would he forfeit the weapon and his army?"
There was a brief silence, then Sam said, "You think?"
Jack replied, "I do."
Daniel wondered what on Earth Jack and Sam were thinking. "It's the only thing that would explain the self destruct not going off," Sam said. Daniel raised an eyebrow. She had an explanation that would account for both Anubis and the self-destruct? This he had to hear.
Bra'tac was evidently wondering the same thing. "Of what do you speak?"
Teal'c obligingly explained. "O'Neill believes that Daniel Jackson was somehow responsible."
Daniel choked back a laugh, recognizing that he couldn't have asked for a more perfect cue than that. "No! It wasn't me," he called.
There was a long silence, then Jack asked. "Anybody else hear that?"
"I'm in here!" Daniel said, trying to think of some way to tell them he was bare-assed. Well, without coming right out and saying it.
Jack said, "That's Daniel!" as he came to the door of his office.
"No!" Daniel protested. "Don't come in!"
Jack backed off. "Ho! Hey there!"
Daniel was so hoping his return was unexpected enough to give him a respite from Jack's warped sense of humor. At least until he was dressed. He said pleadingly. "Can you get me ... something?"
Jack blessedly didn't say a word, just looked around and ripped down a length of fabric that Daniel realized was the SGC flag. He wrapped it gratefully around his waist, then sidled out of Jack's office sheepishly. Why, oh, why had he decided to materialize here instead of in, say, the locker room? Or his quarters? Or.. Sam looked at him with open incredulity, then turned away. Bra'tac was grinning. "It's, uh, a long story," he said feebly.
Of his teammates, only Teal'c seemed undisturbed by his state of undress. "It is good to see you again, Daniel Jackson," he said. "Perhaps I could go find you some more appropriate attire?"
"Please!" Daniel said. "I'd be very grateful.''
"We all would," Jack said. He glanced at Daniel, then away again. "So, what happened?"
"I'll wait for Teal'c, if you don't mind," Daniel said, as the Jaffa disappeared down the stairs. "Um, maybe you can fill me in on what's been going on here? I know that the Jaffa took Dakara and you used the weapon against the Replicators."
"How could you know that?" Sam asked, frowning. "We didn't even know about Dakara when you, um, disappeared."
Daniel winced. "Uh, the Replicator version of you told me about Dakara." He hesitated. How much of what really happened did he want on the record? "She wanted to probe my mind. She thought I could tell her the secrets of the Ancients."
Sam blinked. "Could you?"
Daniel shrugged. "Not as such. She did unbury some bits and pieces, but it's.. hard to process. Ascended perceptions are so different from human ones it's really difficult to describe them." That wasn't even a lie. Even now he was conscious of the weight of ascended memories that he owned but could no longer comprehend.
"Oh," Sam said.
"So what happened?" Daniel asked. "The last I saw you, we were trapped on a tel'tak with a bunch of Replicators."
"After you were taken, we used transport rings to escape to the surface," Bra'tac said. "From there, we returned to Earth."
"When we got back, my father--," Sam broke off, eyes filling with tears.
"Sam?" Daniel leaned toward her. "What-?"
"Jacob is dead," Jack said baldly.
Sam swallowed. "Selmac was dying," she told Daniel. "He would have saved Dad, but Dad didn't want to let him go. He said we needed him to figure out the Ancient weapon on Dakara. By the time the crisis was over, it was too late."
"Sam, I'm so sorry," Daniel said. He knew the pain of losing a parent. And he was going to miss Jacob and Selmac himself. They'd been staunch allies, and Jacob had often seemed to forget that Daniel wasn't really Sam's brother. He'd been family. Daniel wished he could give Sam a hug, but suspected they'd both find it awkward in his current state.
Sam looked toward a step on the stairs. "I think that's Teal'c."
It was indeed their teammate, bearing an anonymous bag. "I believe you will find these more comfortable," Teal'c said gravely, but with a flicker of humor that told him Jack wouldn't be the only person teasing him later.
"Thanks, Teal'c," Daniel said gratefully. He anchored his flag more securely and retreated to Jack's office to change. Teal'c had brought him a full set of fatigues from his locker, along with his second pair of boots and his spare glasses. He dressed hurriedly and returned to the briefing room.
"So," Jack said. "How about your side of things?"
Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose. "Um, well. The replicators grabbed me, as you know. We did the mind probe thing. Which is really unpleasant, by the way."
"We know, Daniel," Jack said. "And?"
"And-- um, there was a struggle of sorts," Daniel said. "While she was probing my mind, I sort of figured out how to return the favor."
Sam said, "How did you do that?"
Daniel picked up a pen from the table and flipped it over in his hand. "It's... well, it's kind of...also really hard to explain, Sam."
"In the heat of the battle, all the Replicators on Jakara and Earth stopped for a short time" Teal'c said. "We wondered--"
Daniel wrinkled his nose. "Not just Jakara and Earth. Everywhere. But I only had her for a minute, I couldn't control them all. There were just too many." He looked at them apologetically. "Or maybe I should say I couldn't control them and Replicator-Sam as well. Sorry."
"Sorry?" Sam said. "Daniel, you bought us the time we needed to get the weapon working. Without that extra minute, the Replicators would have overwhelmed us, and none of us would be sitting here talking about this."
"What?" Daniel said. He looked at the others nodding seriously. "Oh. Well that does make me feel better."
"Go on," Jack said.
Daniel gave him a mildly concerned glance. He wasn't used to having Jack's full attention. Sorry, Jack, I didn't mean to scare the crap out of you again. At least this time it really wasn't my fault. "So, uh, she, the replicator, I mean, wasn't too happy about being on the receiving end. She gave up on the mind probe and um, sort of killed me."
" 'Sort of killed you'?" Jack repeated. "Sort of killed you how?"
"She turned her arm into a sword and stabbed me," Daniel said. He gave Teal'c a mildly aggrieved look. "When did you see Terminator 3, anyway?"
"Major Carter, Jonas Quinn and I watched it on DVD some time ago," Teal'c said, unruffled.
"Yeah, well, I think it gave her ideas," Daniel said.
"Daniel, what have I told you about getting killed on missions?" Jack said peevishly.
"That if I do, I should make a point of coming back anyway," Daniel replied promptly. "And here I am. I didn't even lose my memory this time. What day is it, by the way?"
Having ascertained that he'd only lost a couple of weeks in various mental landscapes, Daniel returned to the story, "Where was I? .. oh, yeah. Killed. So sometime in there, you used the weapon on Dakara, and disintegrated the Replicators- nice work, by the way."
"It would have been easier if we could have figured out your notes," Sam said with a wry smile. "I know you're a lateral thinker, Daniel, but the material you have on the Ancients is downright chaotic."
Daniel blinked at her. "You used my notes? The ones in the journal in my office?"
"Yes," Sam said.
"Why?" Daniel asked.
"What do you mean, why?" Sam asked, baffled. "We needed to translate the writings on Dakara?"
"Why didn't you use the Ancient dictionary and grammar on the server?" Daniel asked.
There was a brief silence. "On the server?" Sam said weakly.
"The reference materials I put together for the Atlantis expedition," Daniel clarified. "The written notes are really old, Sam. I corrected, expanded and revised them and then put everything in the computer before I went to the Outpost last winter. There are a couple of printed and bound copies in the archeo-linguistics lab too." He looked from her to Jack to Teal'c, "Tell me you at least took one of the people from my department with you to Dakara."
After a brief pause, Teal'c answered. "We did not."
"All our other Ancient speakers went to Atlantis, Daniel," Jack said. "You're the only one we have left who's really fluent. As you well know."
"True, however, that's why I've got several more people studying it. They would have been better than nothing," Daniel said. "Especially with the latest reference material."
"I was on leave when you left for the Ancient outpost," Sam remembered. "Teal'c was offworld. And General O'Neill was busy taking over the SGC."
"And I did a lot of the work while you guys were flying off to look for Thor anyway," Daniel said. The silent addendum 'without me' hung in the air unspoken.
Jack looked off into middle space and addressed the center of the table. "So, I'd like all departments to prepare a brief overview of resources they've developed for general use and present it at the next staff meeting." He scribbled a note to himself on his pad.
"Anyway," Daniel continued, "You destroyed the Replicators and that's when Oma showed up." He decided to omit any references to his corpse floating in the void. It was the sort of thing that would only make his friends uptight.
Jack brightened. "The gal's got timing."
"Oh, yeah," Daniel smiled. "And then there was a lot of hanging around talking.. "
Jack shuddered. "There were candles and wicks in this discussion, weren't there?"
" 'How deep is the river if you cannot see the bottom?' " Daniel quoted enigmatically.
"Does it have fish?" Jack asked.
"Fish are irrelevant in this context," Daniel said.
"Fish are irrelevant in any context," Jack said. "Even fishing."
"Especially fishing," Teal'c said with a straight face. Sam was smiling a little mistily at all three of them.
"If they're irrelevant, why did you even ask?" Daniel asked Jack.
"It's the idea of fish," Jack said.
Bra'tac looked like he was wondering if they were all crazy. "Oma Desala helped you to return here?" he prompted.
"Um, not exactly." Daniel said. "It took me a while to figure out what was going on. Because if Oma had helped me ascend, I could have come back, but chances are it would have been another memory wipe and I'd have been dumped in the back of beyond. I'd still have been struggling to remember my name when Anubis wiped out all life in the galaxy. So I just stayed there, talking to Oma and Anubis, though of course I didn't know who he was at first..."
"You talked to Anubis?" Sam asked.
"He's half-ascended," Daniel said. "So, basically, yeah, he could communicate on either the ascended or material planes."
" 'Is' half-ascended?" Jack asked.
"See, one of the things I always wondered was how a goa'uld could ascend at all," Daniel said. "And it turns out, he did it by tricking Oma into helping him." He glanced down at the pen which had started leaking all over his fingers. "Darn."
Sam produced a tissue. "Thanks," he said. He glanced at the clock. "And I've only had this body half an hour, too." That got him smiles, but not a real laugh. Probably still too soon for that.
"You were in my office naked for half an hour?" Jack asked, looking somewhat disturbed.
"Moving right along," Daniel said quickly. "Oma regretted it once she realized what she'd done, but she couldn't fix it alone. The Others wouldn't help her to rescind his ascension or let her put right the things that Anubis screwed up. They forced Anubis down to the half-ascended state, and forbade him to use his power."
Daniel saw their uncomprehending expressions. "He couldn't use his knowledge of the Ancients for anything unless it was something that he could have done as a regular goa'uld. Which was kind of a cop-out because if he knew about something he could still sometimes find a way to use it. Like he sent Osiris to try and find out from me where Atlantis was so he could go there himself. He built something like Telchak's device to create the Kull warriors. And once you guys had allied with Ba'al to use the Ancient weapon on Dakara, Anubis could use it too."
"We were not allies of Ba'al's," Jack said. "There was a brief cease-fire while we dealt with the Replicators, that's all."
"Ah. My mistake. Anyway, Anubis actually told me a lot about what was going on," Daniel said. "Funny, you can take the body out of the Goa'uld, but you can't take the Goa'uld out of the.. um, bad analogy. Basically, he couldn't resist gloating and taunting Oma. And that's when Oma realized- she couldn't kill Anubis, and she couldn't rescind his ascension. But she could fight him. Keep him so occupied that he couldn't do anything else but defend himself, for as long as she cares to keep it up." Daniel shrugged. "Which I'm guessing is going to be a few hundred years at the very least. And quite possibly longer."
"Wow," Sam said. "That's... so how did you get back?"
"Pretty much the same as the last time," Daniel said. "Ascended and then took human form again."
"But if Oma Desala is fighting Anubis-?" Bra'tac asked.
"Yeah, I, uh, had to ascend without help." Daniel took his glasses off and polished them on his shirt. "Taking human form again was the really tricky part. I'm lucky I didn't come back with an extra leg or something."
"Does this mean that you could, uh.." Jack waved vaguely upwards.
"Um, theoretically," Daniel said. "Though I'm not sure it would work without being dead first so it's obviously not anything I'm in a great hurry to test..."
"Of course not," Jack said.
There was a knock at the door and Walter came in, "General, there's a call for you from the Joint Chiefs-- oh!" he looked in surprise at Daniel. "Dr. Jackson. I didn't know you were back."
"I just got here," Daniel said.
"Yessir," Walter gave Daniel a puzzled look, then turned back to Jack with his message. "They said it's urgent, sir."
"It always is," Jack said. He went to take the call.
"I do not understand, Daniel Jackson. Did you not try to fight Anubis on Abydos? And the ascended stopped you?" Teal'c asked.
"Actually, Oma stopped me," Daniel said. "But if she hadn't, the Others would have. They thought Anubis was Oma's responsibility. She was the one who screwed up, so they wouldn't allow anyone but her to fix it. At least so long as Anubis wasn't affecting anything big. Our galaxy is pretty small and insignificant compared to the rest of the universe, you see."
"Small and insignificant?" Sam repeated.
"One of the many, many things on which the Others and I will never see eye to eye. If they had eyes. Which of course they don't...Anyway, that's pretty much it." Daniel looked reflexively at his bare wrist than up to the wall clock, which read not quite eleven-thiry. "Is it too early for lunch? I feel like I haven't eaten in weeks." He gave his friends a small mischievous smile and this time, Sam smothered a chuckle.
"Infirmary first, Daniel," Jack said from the door. "You know the drill." He nodded to the other two members of SG-1. "Carter, Teal'c, keep an eye on him until he clears medical. And don't forget the DNA check."
"I'll remind them, Jack," Daniel promised.
Bra'tac asked Jack, "Do you then doubt that this is Daniel Jackson?"
"Better safe than sorry," Jack replied.
Teal'c clarified. "We do not, but standard procedures to confirm identity must be followed after a member of the SGC has been missing." Bra'tac nodded.
Daniel rose, "Come on, guys." He headed for the stairs. "The sooner I get through medical, the sooner we can eat." He rolled his eyes. "Two weeks? I'm gonna need a backhoe to find my desk."
On the way downstairs, he asked Sam. "So, how're the wedding plans coming?"
Sam tensed, and said, "They're off."
Daniel was silent a moment. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay," she said. Daniel winced. Her best friend was missing presumed dead, her dad died, and she broke off her engagement. Not a fun couple of weeks for Sam. Sounded like a situation that called for a lot of chocolate and possibly alcohol at the earliest opportunity. Excavating his desk could wait.
Brightman blinked when Daniel walked in, Sam and Teal'c flanking him, "I didn't hear the offworld activation alarm--"
"I found alternate transport," Daniel said noncommittally. Not that it was going to help. The whole ascension/descension thing was going to be all over the SGC by the end of the day. "Should be an easy one, doctor. I'm in perfect health. But we'll need a DNA screen--"
"To confirm your identity since you've been missing," Brightman finished. "Of course." She drew a curtain around the exam area. Daniel surreptitiously looked under his shirt to confirm he still had his appendix scar. It seemed to be exactly as he remembered it. She picked up his chart and turned back to him. "So, anything I should know about?"
"Know about?" Daniel echoed, suddenly vague. "I'm fine."
Brightman raised an eyebrow and said skeptically, "And were you 'fine' for the entire span of time you've been missing from the SGC?"
Daniel winced. Dr. Brightman had never been a pushover, but she'd gotten a lot more suspicious since taking over as CMO. Or maybe she just knew him better. "Um, no," he said with a sigh. It was going to wind up on the record anyway, so he might as well get it over with. "Let's see. Kidnapped, Replicator mind probe, stabbed and exposed to vacuum. Though that last probably shouldn't count since it was post-mortem." He gave her a cautious look. "All better now, really."
"Post-mortem." Dr. Brightman said. She hesitated with her pen over the chart. "This isn't a practical joke, doctor, is it?"
"I'm afraid not," Daniel said.
"Right," The pen scratched busily for several minutes. "Were you revived in a sarcophagus?"
"No, just went glowy for a while," Daniel said.
She tried to keep a straight face, and finally laughed. "Do you really want me to put that on your chart?"
Daniel shrugged, "I don't care. Call it ascended/descended. Body disintegrated and rematerialized. Miraculous healing. Alien booga-booga. Whatever." He paused, reviewing what he'd just said. I think I've been hanging around with Jack for too long.
She scribbled something down and wrapped a blood pressure cuff around his arm. "How do you feel? Any pain, headache, allergies or anything unusual?"
"Nothing," Daniel said. "I feel fine. A little hungry."
"When was the last time you ate?" she asked, flashing a light in his eyes.
Daniel hesitated. "Hard to say. I feel like I ate a few hours ago, but it was probably all in my head." He gave her a bland look. "No calorie charts on the higher planes."
She finished the usual series of checks,MRI, took blood and a DNA sample. "Well, I don't see anything wrong with you. We'll run the blood samples and DNA, but you seem fine."
"That's good," Daniel said. He hopped off the table as she opened the curtain and collected her vials. "Clean bill of health," he told his teammates, who looked to Brightman for confirmation before they smiled.
At the door, they met SG-7, coming in for a pre-mission check.
"Daniel?!" Ferretti said incredulously. "I don't believe it. When did you get back?"
"This morning," Daniel said. "Good to see you, Lou."
"No shit," Ferretti grinned and clapped him on the shoulder. "What happened? Where have you been?"
"Oh, long story," Daniel said. "I spent some time as a houseguest of the Replicators, then hung out with the Ancients for a bit, then headed back here." He was conscious of the handful of other personnel who were unsubtly eavesdropping on his conversation with Ferretti. He finished lightly, "The Ancients are better hosts."
Ferretti shook his head. "The weirdest things happen to you, Daniel."
"You can say that again," Daniel agreed fervently.
"The weirdest-" Ferretti broke off as Daniel made mock-threatening gestures at him, and they both laughed.
SG-1 continued in the direction of the cafeteria. By this time the word was out he was back and Daniel passed about half the personnel in the SGC in the halls, all of whom wanted to stop and congratulate him. It was past peak lunch time and Daniel really was hungry by the time they made it to a table. Jack joined them as they sat down. "The prodigal returns, I see," he said, as Balinsky finished telling Daniel something about a translation he was working on before leaving them to eat in peace.
"Yeah," Daniel mumbled a little self-consciously, swallowing a large mouthful of his burger. He sipped his coffee. The diner hadn't seemed unreal while he was in it, but there was definitely something more satisfying about material food. And drink. The difference between real tastes and remembered flavors, he thought. "I'd have thought people were used to me appearing and disappearing by now."
Sam winced. "I really thought you were gone for good this time," she said in a rather small voice.
Daniel patted her shoulder. "I know, Sam. I'm sorry. I came back as soon as I could."
Teal'c smiled at him across the table. "I too was... concerned. I am glad the concern was unfounded."
"I always believed you were coming back," Jack said, rather smugly. He looked at Sam. "Oh ye of little faith."
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "O'Neill is correct," Teal'c confirmed. "He did indeed insist that you would return. He also correctly guessed that you were responsible for the pause in the Replicator attack."
"We all thought you stopped the self-distruct," Sam defended.
"But you were wrong about Anubis," Daniel said.
"No, I wasn't," Jack said. He squirted ketchup on Daniel's fries and helped himself.
Daniel poked him with a fork. "Get your own fries. I'm hungry. And what do you mean you aren't wrong? I didn't stop Anubis."
"Ow!" Jack ate the fry before inspecting the back of his hand. "I need to sign forms with that hand, Daniel."
"If it's on my plate, I can stab it with a fork," Daniel said. "Anubis?"
"How long has Anubis been semi-ascended?" Jack asked.
"A thousand years, give or take," Daniel replied.
"And Oma's been sorry about ascending him all this time, but she just coincidentally happens to figure out how to stop him while the two of you were hanging out, shooting the shit?" Jack asked.
"Something like that," Daniel said.
"Right," Jack said. "I don't think so. I gotta call that one at least an assist."
Daniel rolled his eyes, but dropped it in favor of eating some fries before Jack got them all. They looked tired, he thought. Tired, stressed and hurting. "So, sounds like things have just been one crisis after another," he said.
"Same old, same old," Jack said. "We're all due for some downtime."
"We should do something together, the four of us," Daniel suggested.
"Well, there's always fishing," Jack said. His tone implied that there were also flying pigs and purple elephants but he wouldn't believe in any of them until he'd seen them.
Daniel swallowed a mouthful of fries. "Sure. We never did get that trip up to your cabin what with--" emergency appendectomies, Replicator attacks and various other life-threatening crises-- "everything." He waved a vague hand at the SGC. "Sounds like fun." He looked at his teammates. "Sam, Teal'c, you in?"
"I must spend at least the next week on Dakara," Teal'c said. "Perhaps two." Daniel gave him a speaking look. Okay, they all knew Teal'c hated fishing. But they'd barely had a team dinner in months, never mind anything longer. "I could be free after that," the Jaffa added.
"I'd want to clear up a couple of experiments," Sam said, "But I could be ready then."
"Jack?" Daniel prompted.
"Are you sure you three haven't been replaced by robots?" Jack asked suspiciously.
"Comtraya, sir," Sam said.
Daniel kicked her under the table, "No, Jack. We just could all use a break where the most dangerous thing we have to deal with is a few mosquitos."
"You wouldn't say that if you'd ever experienced Minnesota mosquitos," Jack said.
"So we take lots of repellent," Daniel said.
"Or shotguns," Teal'c said darkly.
Daniel blinked, visualizing Teal'c hunting flocks of mosquitos the size of skeet. He turned back to Jack. "So?" he asked.
Jack said slowly, "We're still doing paperwork on Dakara. And we'll need to clear some of the things that got sidelined by the recent excitement." He looked at the three of them. "But sure. I could fit in a trip to Minnesota after that. Say beginning of next month. Cool." Jack started to look enthused. "You're going to love it."
Daniel was a little dubious about Minnesota, but the idea of spending some quiet time with his closest friends, no alien invasions, galactic crises or life-threatening emergencies-- that was appealing. "I'm sure we will, Jack," he said sincerely. "I'm sure we will."
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