|The walls of the temple, or rather what
remained of them, shook with the vibrations of yet another
The whole planet was under attack and they were - or at least he was - about to be buried beneath the rubble of one insignificant, if beautiful, ruin.
Jack stared across at his companion.
Wearing scrappy, brown robes, Daniel was standing a few feet away, all the fight gone from him. His head was bowed, his right hand bunched into a fist and clasped to his chest with his left.
For ten long minutes Jack had done nothing but shout. He was angry! He didn't want to die, not here, not like this! Daniel could do something about it for cryin' out loud!
"I can't!" the reply had come back, as venomous as it was desperate. "I would, I swear to you, Jack! But I can't!" Despite the rage in those words - or maybe because of them - they barely hid the tears in those big blue eyes.
"You could stand there and watch me die?!" Hadn't they had this very conversation in that Goa'uld prison cell?
"You don't understand!" They were both shouting now over the increasing volume of the attack.
"Oh, I understand JUST FINE!"
But the argument had gotten them nowhere, and as Jack stared at Daniel he started to accept his fate. No last minute rescues, no heroics. Maybe Daniel would help him ascend. Maybe then....
Without looking up, the other man spoke softly. "What?"
Jack couldn't hear him, but he knew the question had been asked.
"I love you."
Daniel could only have barely heard him, but the sandy head snapped up and there was accusation in his eyes.
"More sarcasm, Jack?" He paused. "I mean, I know you *admire* me."
Jack almost laughed. In this hell, after everything that had happened, Daniel still remembered. And a tiny piece of him still hated Jack for it.
"I messed up, ok?" He yelled the explanation over yet another weapon blast, one that showered them with dust from the quaking stonework around them. "I was scared! You were dying. You were leaving me!"
"And even at that moment, when we were alone in your *head*, you couldn't bring yourself to actually saying something nice to me!"
"I know!" Jack glanced away. "I know, Danny, and I've regretted it ever since. I'm sorry." He looked back at Daniel who was watching him with an unfathomable expression, hand still clasped against his chest. "You left me.... I miss you... *so* much."
There were tears in his eyes and he could see them mirrored in the other man's when Daniel stepped forward.
Slowly, without a word, he lowered his right hand from his chest and uncurled his fingers.
There was a cut across the palm, deep and bleeding.
Jack looked down and it took him a moment to realise what it meant.
His eyes snapped back up. "You're bleeding.... You're...." Reaching out, he touched his hand to Daniel's shoulder. "You're alive!"
Daniel nodded wanly. "Not for long, it seems. But for what it's worth...." His words were cut off by the strong bear hug he was suddenly engulfed in.
Both men looked up in the direction of the voices yelling over the harsh sounds of destruction. Torn between keeping hold of Daniel and waving his hands madly, his decision was made for him as a falling stone from the top of the wall behind Daniel hit the ground not a foot from their feet.
"Teal''c! Carter! Over here!"
Three dusty figures appeared in the ruin of the doorway. They all looked from Jack to Daniel and back again. Sam's face lit up.
"Daniel, you're back!" It seemed an inane thing to say but she couldn't think of anything better on the spot. Later, she promised herself, she would sit him down and say everything that was in her heart. Once Jack had had his turn, obviously.
First priority was to get home.
"How the hell did you get through?" Jack demanded, having unwrapped himself from Daniel even if one hand was still flat against the other man's back.
"They're not firing at the planet, there are two sides firing at each other. They're just not great shots. If we're careful, we can make it to the gate."
Teal'c had moved toward Daniel and was carefully holding his wrist to look at the cut in his hand. "You are injured."
Daniel grinned up at the bigger man. "I have missed you, Teal'c." His reward was a small but meaningful smile.
Only Jonas stayed on the outer edge of the odd reunion.
Finally a direct hit on the collapsed remains of a low wall next to the old temple forced him to insist that they got out of there right now. He only glanced at Daniel as he and Jack walked passed.
"I'm fine, Janet, honestly!"
Janet wasn't about to be that easily convinced. Privately, she'd missed examining Daniel after his return from missions, but it wasn't something she was about to admit to the rest of SG1. They'd never let her live it down.
But nothing with this team was ever easy, and the run back to the gate had resulted in several injuries not least of which had been a slight concussion for their newly-descended and sorely missed archaeologist.
She'd had him stripped and scanned, her nurses keeping the hoards at bay outside the infirmary until he was comfortable in white surgical pyjamas lying on one of the beds with the required number of wires snaking out from under the cotton top to a bank of monitors.
She admitted to Hammond that it was overkill, but she had no previous experience with the previously-ascended and wanted to be sure.
Jack, however, had talked the nurses into letting him in and once he was through they were all through.
The bed was surrounded, despite Janet's polite request that they let her patch Daniel up before they smothered him.
Jack was hovering at the bedside watching Janet clean and dress the deep wound in Daniel's hand and generally exuding a protective streak that would have kept attack dogs at bay.
Unfortunately it wasn't working on the command staff of the SGC.
Hammond was beaming, pride and happiness written all over his face now he was certain that Daniel really was okay.
Sam was like a kid at Christmas. She looked like she just wanted to take Daniel outside into the sunshine and play with him... in the most innocent sense of the word.
Teal'c, Jack would have sworn, hadn't taken his eyes from Daniel since their arrival back at base. He was wondering if he and Teal'c needed to have a quiet chat sometime about proprietary rites. After he'd spoken to Daniel, of course, and made damn sure those rites were his and his alone.
Finally Janet was satisfied that Daniel had been nursed to the fullest degree that he could cope with right now. In her professional opinion, he needed rest.
She told them so, but was unilaterally ignored.
Daniel was lapping up the attention, bringing back to Jack's mind something he'd said in the lift that day they'd all gone to Abydos to rage war on Mott.
"Have you ever met any of these... others?"
Had Daniel been alone all this time?
"Don't make me make that an order," Janet threatened quietly.
"Okay, come on, kids. Let the guy get some rest."
Janet rolled her eyes as the small crowd dispersed. She glanced at the colonel. "Why do they do what you tell them to?"
He grinned. "Because they know the consequences if they don't." But he himself didn't move. He stared at Janet expectantly. "Well?"
"Are you leaving?"
Her eyes widened. "Ha!" But a moment later she sighed with a smile and nodded. "Just don't disturb him for too long, okay?" Turning on her heel, she gave them some privacy.
"I love the way you all talk about me like I wasn't here," Daniel grouched as she left. "Nothing ever changes."
Jack grabbed the nearest chair and dumped himself into it. "Some things do, Danny."
For a few moments they fell silent, each watching the other.
Finally, Daniel murmured, "Deja vu."
"Yeah," Jack nodded, reaching out to almost touch Daniel's arm before thinking better of it. "Don't want to think about back then. I've done far too much of that."
"I missed you." He smiled gently, "Even if I didn't write, or call." He hesitated, the smile slipping from his face. "Did you mean what you said on the planet?"
"Yeah." Jack shrugged. "I don't know what it means, but I meant it."
When nothing else was forthcoming, Jack sat up. "Good? That's all you have to say?"
"What else do you want me to say?"
Daniel was being deliberately flippant, Jack knew. He just wasn't sure how to deal with it at that moment. The man had returned far stronger and more confident than he'd left. Calmer too, peaceful.
"You could start by telling me you..." he looked down at his feet, "you love me too."
A bandaged hand reached out to tip his chin up. Those big blue eyes were dancing with joy.
"You know I do."
"True. Okay. So... tell me you'll come stay with me."
"I'll come stay with you. Until I sort out an apartment."
Jack frowned. "There's plenty of room...."
"Don't push it, Jack."
He grinned. "'K." Cupping Daniel's hand gently in his own, Jack lowered it back to the bed. "I'd better let you get some sleep before Janet kicks my ass outta here." Standing, he let his eyes linger on Daniel's face for a moment. Then he smiled, and swung the chair back to its original position before heading for the door.
"Jack?" Stopping in his tracks, the colonel looked back. "About... Jonas...."
He hesitated, but said, "I'll explain later, Danny."
"No... not that. Just... tell him to get the hell out of my office?"
Daniel could hear Jack's laughter ringing in the corridors for a long time afterwards.