A Lifetime - Chapter 1 by Sideburns
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Action/Adventure, Character Study, Drama, First Time
Rated: Mature
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: There's no real way to summarize this other than to say it's a Stargate novel about Daniel and his separation from SG-1 that began in season 4. There's also the need to defeat Anubis, and of course, Jack and Daniel. No episodes have been recreated in this fiction, just briefly referred to.



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Author's Chapter Notes:
This story has been six months in the making and I admit, it's huge. This is an PU (parallel universe) in the sense that I have taken seasons four, most of five (no Meridian) and season 6 (with Daniel)and have combined them. I also took the gradual separation of Daniel from the team in season 4 and moved it forward with no Meridian. This story picks up not long after Window of Opportunity but continues on from there.
Note2: Special thanks to my betas; Delilah and Gershwhen
Note3: The following Quechua words appear in this story so I thought I'd better provide their meaning:
kawsaqe - general word for friend
yachachej yachayniyoj - wise teacher
sut'inchaj.- prophet
t'uku - lunatic
mi amigu - a more personal way of saying 'my friend'
Note4: I labeled this a 'PU' (parallel universe) as opposed to an AU because it stays within the realm of the show, but there is no Meridian and I've taken aspects of season 7 and placed them here.
Note5: CAVEAT: This story was at the betas when a wonderful author, Lady Grey, posted the second story in her series Day and Night. I bring this up because this is a case of two people writing a *very* similar scene. Our stories are not similar at all - in fact, nothing related and I definitely have no ninjas BUT we do have a scene that is very similar. I won't go into which one so as not to spoil either story but I really struggled with removing mine, but since the whole story leads up to it, I found, and my betas agreed, that it had to remain. I did change it though, to just one individual. I was stunned and even cried because her scene was and is so much better written than mine. Anyway, Lady Grey, I love you and I just wanted you to know that I wrote the scene in question back in November or October, so I hope you won't think I plagiarized yours. I truly did not! I can only say; two great minds *grin* (unfortunately, one of those minds is mine and I'm barely here. You are by far the greater mind!
Part 1

It was funny how a man could hold a hope in his heart and acknowledge it only when the hope was lost.

For months Daniel had held a secret yearning, one that he hadn't been all that comfortable actually giving a name. But now, now that the object of his yearning was impossible to attain, the name came easily.

Jack O'Neill.

Daniel was no stranger to same sex relationships, but still, discovering that he had feelings for his best friend had shocked the hell out of him. He'd honestly never expected to love anyone again after Shar'e. He had in fact, chosen not to love again, not to let anyone in. And no, he didn't count Kira, aka, Linea, Destroyer of Worlds. He'd been vulnerable, damn vulnerable, and lonely. No excuse, though. Which brought him back to Jack.

Hard to believe he'd fallen for the man.

Fallen for. Strange phrase, but then, the idea of loving Jack was pretty strange too.

He knew that he hadn't fallen for Shar'e. No, with her, he'd -- floated -- into love. It had been gradual and sweet, full of mornings waking to her warm, soft, willing body, her special sleepy smile, followed by a whispered, "Dan-yel" always said in that 'just for you' way. She never ceased surprising him with her sensual looks and touches, her possessiveness and her aggressive manner when they were alone. Her blend of shyness and eroticism had never failed to blow him away.

Needless to say, Jack was nothing like Shar'e. But then, the love he felt for the man wasn't sweet. In fact, now that he thought about his feelings, he realized his love for Jack hadn't come gradually. In thinking back over the last months, he could now pinpoint the exact moment it had landed on top of him like a mothership.

Jack and Teal'c had been trapped on board a Russian sub with a horde of rampaging replicators, and no way off. Jack was yelling at him to do it, to blow them up, to destroy the replicators before it was too late. But that meant destroying Jack as well.

The memory rushed back to him in a painful burst of odd Technicolor pictures. He could see Jack's face in the viewer, could hear him begging him to push the button, but Daniel was mentally screaming, "NO!" because it would mean - killing the man he loved.

Shaking himself out of the memory, Daniel lifted his coffee mug and took a sip, then stared at his watch. It was late, almost midnight, and Daniel gave a small wry smile. It seemed that time, like so many other things in his life, was slipping away from him.

He watched the second hand travel slowly around the face of the timepiece, and wished with all his heart to go back in time. To either skip the last eight days, or to somehow change what had happened on P4X-639, to change his death. Of course, he was the only one who knew that he'd died when Malikai had fired the weapon at him, but still, if he could go back, he'd make darn certain that he'd miss out on that little joy. He'd take the hint Malikai had tried so hard to give him and make like a leaf. By doing so, he'd be spared the agony of seeing Jack kiss Sam in the control room. By avoiding his death, he'd be able to skip seeing the 'look' Jack bestowed on Sam at the breakfast table after the time loop had ended.

Okay, so he should have been better prepared for Jack's feelings toward Sam; after all, hadn't he been told about the conversation between them when Sam had been trying so hard to keep Jack from having to undergo the Zartac detector? But then, it was altogether different to hear about a conversation then to actually see the physical evidence of Jack's true feelings regarding his 2IC.

In hearing from Teal'c why Sam and Jack had failed the Tok'ras version of a lie detector, he'd assumed they'd all have failed. SG-1 was close, very close. None of them would have been able to leave another behind to save their own life. But then he'd been on those damn stairs just as Jack had entered the control room, witnessed him hand the general his resignation, then tip Sam back and kiss her - oh, yeah, he'd understood the truth then.

Jack hadn't been able to leave the woman he loved. The woman he was in love with.

He shuffled that particular truth into the darkest recess of his mind.

Daniel suddenly realized that perhaps there might be another bonus to going back in time and avoiding his death; he'd also be able to miss his friend allowing him to be knocked down in the hall a couple of times too many. He was pretty sure such antics were a guy thing and definitely a military guy thing; a "laugh till it hurts 'cause the guy slipped on a body part" kind of military guy thing. Daniel had no trouble admitting that he wasn't into that kind of "guy thing." Watching someone get hit, and hit hard, and knowing that it was going to happen, and then letting it happen, had never been a "Daniel thing". He was also pretty sure that the problem lay with him rather than Jack.

If he'd been a different kind of guy with a different upbringing, an upbringing that hadn't included being the butt of jock jokes and being 'accidentally' tripped, not to mention pushed, shouldered and deliberately jostled. If his glasses hadn't been flung off more times than he could count, he'd have laughed the whole thing off -- probably. Yeah, the lack of appreciation for the joke was his problem, not Jack's.

On the other hand, Daniel still had the niggling feeling that Jack had - enjoyed -- seeing him take both tumbles. Enjoyed it not in a 'ha-ha' way, but in an almost perverse manner. As if it satisfied something raw in Jack, a kind of a payback for all of Daniel's lectures, prattlings and failures to jump when Jack yelled. Or for all the times Daniel argued with Jack, or seemed to find fault with him, or... for just being who he was. A geek.

All of which begged the question of why the hell Daniel loved Jack.

For the first time in days, Daniel smiled. It was kind of funny, not in a ha-ha way, but definitely in a perverse way.

Why did he love Jack? Let him count the ways. Now he chortled, then the chortles turned to chuckles, and finally, he was laughing. And if the laughter had a slight edge of hysteria to it, well, Daniel chalked it up to too many hours on the job and not enough sleep.

He slipped his watch back on, pushed time loops into the same dark corner as Jack's love for Sam, and got back to work.

***

Major Paul Davis was about to do the one thing he didn't want to do, namely going through the 'Gate. He held his military bearing in spite of the weakness in his knees, and prayed his nervousness didn't show. He glanced over at Daniel, and received exactly what he'd wanted: a grin. It wasn't one of Daniel's better smiles, in fact, it appeared to be a bit on the wan side, but still - it was the grin he'd been counting on. He nodded his head in return, then inwardly winced as General Hammond announced over the loudspeaker, "SG-1, you have a go, and good luck, Major Davis."

Okay, he'd done this before, once, and he could do it again. He gave what he hoped was a jaunty salute, a Colonel O'Neill kind of salute, and followed Daniel up the ramp. Halfway, he realized what a pleasure following Daniel could be. He immediately stomped down on his very unmilitary-like libido and concentrated on the shimmering blue in front of him. His body was about to become so many little atoms and who said they'd all come back in the exact same place and way? No one. Unless you counted Major Carter, and didn't everyone?

Paul went back to looking at the back - side - of Daniel Jackson.

***

"...and the medical advancements that we'd be able to share with you will aid your children, Ankat. What you call 'munshad,' we call 'measles', and we have vaccines that will prevent your children from contracting them."

"And in... return, you wish to ... what was the word again?" the Ukhat leader asked as he turned to face Daniel.

Leaning into the conversation, Daniel said, "Mine." Then in the language of the Ukhat, he said, "In other words, dig for the mineral our instruments have registered."

Ankat nodded in understanding. "I ... see," he said in his halting English. "And our," he turned to Daniel and said, "sheema?"

"Land," Daniel answered.

"Ah, yes. Land. Our... land... will be... clean?"

Major Davis nodded. "Absolutely. The methods used for this kind of mining will not harm your land, nor your environment."

Ankat looked at each member of SG-1, then back to Davis, then, finally to Daniel. "You are... not the... Yuron?"

"No, Major Davis is. I'm a simple scholar... a tumeron."

"Daniel?" Jack said, clearly asking for a translation.

"The speaker of... heart, is the closest translation for Yuron. The Ukhat believe that every tribe must have this Yuron, one who speaks with wisdom, speaks for all, and speaks only the truth, even when truth is not what the tribe wishes to hear. The Yuron is the reason the Ukhat have no wars. If there are disagreements, be it about land, or goods, or leadership, the Yurons of each Ukhat tribe come together and settle it. Each tribe is honor bound to abide by their decision. All of which you'd know, by the way, if you'd listened to my report in the briefing."

"You're kidding, right?" Jack said, a crooked smile on his face.

"Yes, Jack, I'm kidding."

"So let me get this straight... you just told them that Major Davis is our... is this...."

Jack sputtered to a stop and simply could not say the word. Daniel shrugged and nodded. "He speaks for us, for our government. That makes him the Yuron in their eyes."

Jack managed to stuff his disgust down and out of sight, knowing that the Ukhat didn't need to know about the Pentagon, the senator running rough shod over them, and the NID. Not to mention that it wasn't Davis' fault that he'd been assigned to the negotiations instead of SG-1. Hell, they were lucky to have been allowed to accompany him back to P3-whatever. Ankat's voice ended his sour thoughts.

"Then I believe... we have an... an...."

"An agreement, Ankat," Daniel supplied.

"Yes. An ... agreement."

Davis could barely contain his excitement as he pulled the appropriate documents from his pack and handed them to Daniel, who would make the necessary adjustments in both languages. Daniel quickly explained the paperwork to Ankat, and the two of them moved to a small table behind the circle of pillows they were all seated at. Bodies bent, heads almost touching, the two men conversed as Daniel wrote quickly. When he was done, and all explanations made, Ankat took the offered pen and signed. Davis joined them and added his signature beneath Ankat's.

They had their naquada mine.

***

Jack huffed a bit as he pulled off his boots. "Are you sure we need to do this, Daniel?"

Daniel peeked around the short, thin stone wall that separated their sleeping quarters and said, "Yes, Jack, I'm sure. It's a very important celebration and they have asked that we dress in the manner they deem appropriate."

"Teal'c doesn't have to wear this get-up," Jack whined.

"They respect his tribal robes, Jack, so stop whining and put it on," Daniel mumbled from the other side of the rock partition.

"I'm a colonel in the United States Air Force, Daniel. I do not whine."

"You do, continually. Now hurry up."

"O'Neill, I believe it would be an insult if you were to show up in your uniform," Teal'c said from behind another partition, this one on Jack's right.

"Et tu, Teal'c?"

"He too, Jack."

"All right, all right, I'm changing. But I am not wearing these... these... bedroom slippers. I'm putting my boots back on, and that's that."


When that announcement was met with silence, Jack said, "I can hear you rolling your eyes, Daniel."

"Good for you, Jack," Daniel said as he came around the wall. He glanced down at the clothes he was wearing and commented, "These are really comfortable. I don't know what the material is, but it's nothing like anything we have at home."

Jack stared.

The 'outfit' that had been given to Daniel was amazingly simple. The pants were nicely formfitting and in the palest blue imaginable. The shirt, a pull-over with a v-neck, was the same color as the pants. The sleeves ended just above the elbow and were cuffed and design-stitched with a white thread. The only 'fancy' part of the outfit was the vest. It was an indigo blue in what appeared to be a rich brocade. Jack felt his mouth go dry.

"Jack...."

Daniel glanced up from his clothing inspection when Jack didn't answer. Puzzled, he asked, "Jack? What's wrong?"

Jack closed his mouth. "Uh, nothing, nothing. You're right, that does look... comfortable. Maybe this won't be so bad after all."

Jack turned away and picked up the shirt that had been laid out on his bed. As he did, he noticed that his outfit was very similar to Daniel's, other than the color. In his case, the pants were a pale gray, the stitching on the shirt sleeves, black. His vest was also black, but definitely not brocade. His was leather, but as he ran his hand over it, he realized that it was the softest, smoothest leather he'd ever felt in his life. And the material for the pants and shirt were incredible. Yeah, he could handle this.

Looking back at the vision in blue, he said with a sniff, "Do you mind? I'd like a little privacy here?"

Daniel rolled his eyes and said, "Can you hear this, Jack?" Walking over to Teal'c, he said, "Come on, let's leave the man to his privacy."

"Proceed without me, DanielJackson. I will remain here and await O'Neill."

"Oh, right. Okay."

Daniel scratched his nose, pushed up his glasses, and finally walked out.

Once in the long drafty hallway, he paused and rested against the wall. Why the hell was he here? He felt his pulse throbbing and absently rubbed at his temple. Felt like another migraine. Damn, he could not afford one now. He turned and, reluctantly, went back inside their quarters.

"Don't mind me, Jack, I just need something out of my pack," he said as he walked by, deliberately averting his eyes. He moved quickly, skirting around the partition and over to his bed. His pack was on the floor and he lifted it, dug around inside, found the small packets of migraine medication, pulled out two and stuffed them into his pants pocket. He took a deep breath, then said, with what he hoped was the right amount of tease in his voice, "You decent? Can I come back out now?"

"A barrel of laughs, our Daniel," Jack said with a look at Teal'c. "I've never been accused of being decent, but I am dressed," he added.

Daniel walked around the partition, and his step faltered at his first look at Jack.

God, did anyone look better in black leather? Doubtful. And the soft pale gray of the shirt and pants, in unison with the vest, softened the character lines that Jack had earned over the years. Daniel figured Jack had never looked so good. He really needed to get out of there - fast. He gave a wave and made his escape. It was a safe bet they wouldn't be on his heels since Jack was still barefoot.

He walked quickly down the cool corridor, marveling at how a tribe so similar to the nomads of his world could have architecture like the ancient Egyptians. Homes and communal buildings were built of sun-baked rocks with corbel arches marking each entrance way. Like the Egyptians, the Ukhats dug into the earth, but unlike the Egyptians, they didn't fill the hole with rocks to create a foundation. Rather, they built up to the landline and slightly above so that you were always walking down into a building and up into the sunlight. Considering the heat of the planet, the architecture was brilliant. The buildings were always cool and it was very like walking out of one of the dog days of August in Colorado Springs and into a cool air-conditioned building.

The communal building that was currently serving as living quarters for SG-1 and Major Davis had been designed for the express purpose of housing guests. It was a large building with eight rooms, each sleeping three, with low walls that divided each sleeping room. In the center of the building was a large communal hall, which was also his current destination, as it was the site of the evening's festivities. As he continued around the building, the door on his left opened and Major Davis stepped out. Seeing Daniel, he grinned and saluted.

"Nice work today, Daniel. Very nice. Senator Kinsey might have thought he was taking the negotiations away from you and SG-1, but I knew better, as did General Hammond."

Coming abreast of the man, Daniel said, "I only helped with translating, Paul, you did the real negotiating. Kinsey may be a jerk, but he was right about putting you in charge."

They'd continued to walk toward the hall, but at Daniel's words, Paul stopped. With a hand on Daniel's arm, he said in his best Jack impersonation, "Tell me you're kidding?"

Daniel shook his head, and puzzled, said, "Why would I-"

Davis didn't let him finish since his question had done a flyby straight over Daniel's head. "Daniel, I did what you told me to do, I said what you told me to say, I-"

"Paul, you were honest, heartfelt, and sincere. The Ukhat knew that. They instinctively knew that you meant only good for them, and for us. It's as simple as that."

"Are you really this... this...."

Paul couldn't go any further. He'd worked with Daniel Jackson before, but this far exceeded any notions he'd had of Daniel's ego, or lack thereof. The man honestly had no idea that the contract with the Ukhats was due entirely to him.

Staring at him, Paul felt a familiar tingling, a feeling he tried, as a major in the Air Force, to keep at bay. He stared at the blue eyes across from him, at how brilliantly they blinked back at him, and without thought, blurted out, "When we get home, perhaps we could meet for dinner?"

He should have regretted the words the moment they hit the air, but the sweetly confused look on Daniel's face brought a smile to his own and he knew that he had every intention of following through on the invitation, given half the chance.

"I... sure," Daniel said some hesitation. "Why not?"

Grinning from ear to ear, Paul said, "Good,"

Smiling, they continued on their way.

***

The festivities were in full swing, SG-1 and Major Davis the center of attention. As Daniel sat on the comfortable cushions, legs crossed, he watched his teammates enjoying the evening. Even though all the members of SG-1 were seated at the table of honor with Ankat and three other tribal leaders, Daniel had found himself at the opposite end, separated by the Ukhats' leaders. He hadn't been surprised to see Jack take the seat next to Sam, nor to see them lean into each other all evening. What did surprise him was how much it still hurt.

It had been months since the time loop fiasco, months and months of trying to reclaim a little something of what he'd had with Jack, of trying to concentrate on the friendship, and the team. Unfortunately, it had also been some of the most trying periods in SG-1 history. He and Jack had spent much of their time fighting and arguing as they bumped heads and philosophies about everything from how to help the Enkarans to what constitutes a life worth saving, let alone studying. He supposed, to be fair, he'd have to admit that the differences between them had started to interfere with their friendship during their interactions with the Eurondans. Never had they been as far apart as when trying to determine how much to help the people who appeared to be descendants of Earth.

And did anyone need to say 'ice world' or 'Jona' and 'Carlin'? Oh, yeah, he and Jack got along just fine while believing they were someone else. Talk about hate at first sight. Jona had hated Carlin instantly and violently. Even toward the end, as hazy memories had resurfaced, Jona only came to a grudging acceptance of Carlin.

Freudian, anyone?

As he watched Jack and Sam now, both laughing, bodies touching, he had to admit that Sam had never looked lovelier. Her outfit was as simply constructed as his and Jack's, but instead of pants, she wore a long, billowing skirt. The color chosen for her skirt and blouse was a pale yellow, the silk vest, a sunny yellow. Not even on Simarka, wearing the dress the Shavadai had put her in, had she looked as beautiful. Her skin fairly glowed, her eyes never brighter. The Ukhats had chosen the colors well for both Jack and Sam. Glancing down the table, he had to acknowledge that Paul Davis looked pretty good in forest green.

As he let his gaze rest on Jack again, he noticed Shakat, another leader, leaning in to speak with Jack. Uh-oh, this should be good, he thought.

***

"Colonel, we would hear more of your ways."

Jack turned to his right and smiled. Shakat, the only tribal leader to miss most of the negotiations, was leaning toward him, his gaze alight with curiosity. As he looked at Shakat, he thought about the colors that had been chosen for him and his teammates -- okay, more specifically the colors chosen for Daniel. He knew, thanks to his archaeologist, that color was very important to the Ukhat, their belief being that people were governed by it, that their souls were visible via a primary shade that emanated from each soul.

Since Shakat's English was far more advanced than any of the others, Jack felt fairly confident in getting involved in a discussion with the man. He shifted his body toward the leader and said, "I'd like to learn more of your belief in how a person's soul is seen. How 'bout we trade information?" he offered.

Shakat nodded happily. "I would be most pleased to share our beliefs of the shurosh, or as you call it, the soul. We believe that an individual's soul is evident to us in the curok, or glow that surrounds us all."

"On Earth, we call that an aura," Jack said, glad that Daniel couldn't hear him. His reputation would be ruined, not that Daniel actually believed Jack to be stupid. But still, he had a rep to protect.

"Aura?" Shakat asked. "I like that word. I shall steal it," he added with a grin.

"Be my guest," Jack said as he lifted his goblet and saluted Shakat. After Shakat touched his glass to Jack's and they'd each sipped some of the sweet wine, Jack said, "So what do the colors tell you about a man's soul?"

"Ah, the color of a man's soul tells us everything. His future, his past, all that he is. For example, you, Colonel O'Neill. For you, we chose black, or 'burak' because your soul-"

"Let me guess: dark and full of unspeakable-"

Shakat held up a hand. "No, Colonel, not at all, although there is a darkness in you born of your past. A sadness as well. Oddly enough, burak is a color we seldom use as we have no real understanding of its nature, namely the nature of 'space', as you call it, and flight, or movement through space. None of my people have been through what you call the 'Stargate', nor have we reached our own skies yet. But the moment we met you, Colonel O'Neill, we understood that you are the miracle of flight. Flight beyond the skies of our world, beyond the blue that carries our birds.

"But burak is also a color that is absent of color, and thus has great power to banish negativity. We have witnessed this in your ...I believe you call it... 'humor'. Burak also signifies great wisdom hidden deep. Were we wrong?"

Jack found himself stunned. He managed to shrug noncommittally, but he sensed that he hadn't fooled the Ukhat. Time to move away from himself... quickly.

"So you chose the pale yellow-"

"Yroma is our word for this most wonderful color, and we chose it for your Major Carter because her soul sings of intelligence and is governed by it, while others, when exposed to it, find themselves illuminated by it. There is great stubbornness as well in your Major Carter, and this is never more apparent than in an oddly rigid belief system rooted in her scientific beliefs that can sometimes hamper her. Her soul sings of a complicated knowledge that governs her as well as telegraphing her inner... and outer... beauty."

Jack coughed into his fist and glanced to his left, praying that Sam was too busy talking to have heard Shakat. He was relieved to find her deep into a conversation with Major Davis. He turned back to Shakat. "That's very... interesting, Shakat."

"And true," he responded easily.

Smiling, Jack said quietly, "And true."

Shakat's gaze fixed on Davis as he said, "Your Major Davis was more difficult, his soul not as easily seen or understood. But as the talks progressed, he became clear to us."

"So he's in green, why?"

"There are ribbons of desires that run through his soul, ribbons in direct opposition to each other. He has great ambition, yet is unwilling to conform in order to attain that which he desires. But therein lies the strangeness. He desires to conform, so denies other desires. For us, grekat, or 'green' as you call it, represents prosperity, but also division. Major Davis is a soul divided."

Jack looked past Sam to Davis and bit back a low whistle. Who knew Davis could run so deep or be so conflicted? And yet, he took orders from Kinsey, but was loyal to Hammond and the SGC. Yeah, seemed as though green might fit after all. He turned back to Shakat and asked, "What of Teal'c? If you'd dressed him, what color would he be wearing?"

"Ah, he is simple. A fierce and loyal warrior. His soul would be represented by the curok rudt. Or... I believe you call it... red. It signifies health, strength, physical energy, sex, passion, courage, protection. It is associated with the fiery liquid that flows through our bodies, and thus, life and death, birth, and intense emotions. He is a good man to have by your side, is he not, O'Neill?"

"You nailed another one, Shakat. He is a very good man to have protecting your six."

Shakat raised an eyebrow in puzzlement. "Six?"

"Oh, uhm, backing us up? Protecting us from the rear?"

"Ah. Your... six."

Jack nodded and chuckled. This process of exchanging information and words was a lot more fun than he'd ever imagined. No wonder Daniel loved languages. Another question popped into his head and he asked, "You use many shades, but only two per individual. Why is that?"

Shakat folded his hands over his stomach and leaned back. "Do you not wish to know why we chose the curok that we did for Danal?"

Now that Shakat had come to the one individual Jack was truly interested in, he hid his interest behind a joke. "Oh, that one I have figured out. Blue is your representation for geeks," he said with a wink

Puzzled, Shakat said, "Geeks?"

"Uhm, sorry, inside joke."

"Ah, yes, your ... humor again," Shakat said with a smile. He then waved a hand at the table and the people around it, and asked, "Look at us all, Colonel. Do you see anyone else in baul, or anyone else with another curok other than Danal?"

Frowning, Jack looked ... and found that Daniel was, indeed, the only individual wearing a shade of blue and with a different color, in this case, the white thread, trimming the sleeves. Now his curiosity was definitely piqued.

"All right, why two curoks?"

"Baul represents the one element we can not live without: water. It is our life's blood. It brings us peace and healing, patience and ultimate happiness if we have unlimited access to it, if we listen to it, and if we do not try to change its ultimate course. Water purifies and creates. But it also represents the sky, a world we have yet to conquer or understand. But Danal has opened this world for you and your people, and now, because of his accomplishments, the world is open to us as well."

Shakat let the information sink in, then he unobtrusively pointed at Daniel's shirt. "The lighter shade represents a valued ability to my people; the ability to understand that which is beyond understanding for most. It also represents peace and protection, and more importantly, the power to perceive that which eludes all others."

Jack was dumbfounded. Never had anyone captured so thoroughly the individual that was Daniel Jackson.

"You noticed that with Danal, there is a wiute thread at the edge of his sleeve." At Jack's nod, he said, "This small thread is as important as the entire wardrobe," he said. "Wiute contains all curoks, and therefore can be all things. It can protect, discover, purify and heal. It symbolizes faith, hope, truth and sincerity. It represents the potential of us all. It is written that he who has the wiute soul is our future."

Holy shit.

"Let me get this right... you think that Dana... Daniel, is your future?"

"We do not see things in such a narrow manner. When I say 'our future', I mean... all. We, the Uhkat, have always been able to see beyond our world -- we see beyond tomorrow."

Okay, things had definitely entered the Twilight Zone. Good thing Jack was, if not comfortable in the zone, at least able to move around it, thanks to being a member of the SGC. He looked back at Daniel, and it seemed as though there actually was an indigo blue aura surrounding his friend.

"You see it, do you not?" Shakat asked softly. "You have always seen it, and it has frightened you, still frightens you. That so much should rest on the shoulders of one so troubled, so young. And you worry that such a responsibility will destroy him and you will lose him, Colonel."

Double holy shit. Okay, they'd passed the Twilight Zone and entered the Outer Limits.

Maybe they'd always been there.

"You may indeed lose him, but it is my opinion that the keeping of him, or the losing of him, rests solely within your power, Colonel."

Oh, yeah, Outer Limits.

***

Daniel's migraine was back. He fumbled in his pocket for the second packet, thanking God he'd thought to bring two. He'd taken the first one upon his arrival in the hall and it had at least helped him make it through the last four hours of food and revelry. He tore the packet open, shook the tiny pill into the palm of his hand and, since he only had wine, he swallowed it dry. If this one got any worse, he'd have to excuse himself.

Thirty minutes later, in the middle of the 'entertainment', his stomach revolted and he managed to get out without anyone taking notice. He doubted that he'd make it to his room, which was a good thing, communal that it was. He hardly needed Jack and Teal'c returning to the wonderful scent of vomit. He scrambled to make it up and out of the building, his head pounding, gagging, and trying his best to hold off until he was outside. He made it.

The little that he'd eaten came up and christened the backside of a rock pile.

Daniel somehow made it back to the room, washed his mouth out, brushed his teeth, then collapsed on the bed, thankful for the cool, quiet darkness. Eyes closed, he worked on some of the techniques Janet had drilled into him when the migraines had started coming back. Fifteen minutes later, the throbbing had subsided enough for him to rise slowly, remove the clothing and slip into his black tee shirt. He crawled under the soft material that served as both a blanket and sheet, settled his head on the pillow, and waited for sleep to claim him.

***

The celebration seemed to be winding down, and by two in the morning, only a handful of Uhkats were left. Jack, better for the wine he'd imbibed in, needed the strong arm of Teal'c to maneuver his way back to their room. Sam had excused herself earlier, as had Major Davis. Walking back, Jack said, "You're red, Teal'c. Did you know that?"

Looking at his brown hand, Teal'c said, "I believe you are wrong, O'Neill. I am not red."

Jack wagged a finger in his face. "Oh, yes you are. Red is the color the Uhkats would have put you in if you did not have your own... what, royal robes? Red is a very good color for you. The Uhkats have you pegged, my friend."

"And do they have you ... pegged, O'Neill?"

Laughing, Jack said, "Oh, yeah. And no. Shakat rattled on about flight and space and a bunch of other gobbly-gook, but he had you and Carter down pat. Their spin on Davis was interesting, but he blew me out of the water with Daniel. Speaking of which, where is our errant archaeologist?"

"I believe he excused himself a bit before Major Carter."

"They're wusses, both of them."

Teal'c pushed at the door to their room and helped Jack inside. He sat his friend on his bed, lit several candles, then walked O'Neill over to his own bed, sat him down, and began the process of removing his clothing.

"Teal'c, what the hell are you doing?"

"It is altogether possible that you are unable to properly undress yourself."

"Pish tosh. I'm perfectly capable of... besides, I need you to check on Daniel. Is he over there?"

"He is. I can hear his breathing. He is asleep."

"Cheater, skipping out early like that."

"He worked very hard in the days leading up to our mission," Teal'c said as he pulled Jack's boots off.

"Yeah, yeah, he did. All that work, only to have the mission turned over to Davis."

"I do not believe that bothered DanielJackson."

"It wouldn't. But it bothered me. Kinsey is an ass and now that he's in charge of the NID, thanks to his chairing the Intelligence Oversight Committee... and is that not the best possible name? A committee of people for whom intelligence is an oversight. Yep, works for me."

Teal'c pulled off Jack's pants, then pushed him back until he was lying flat on the bed. He pulled up the covers and walked around the partition to his bed, Jack's words following him.

"Yep, the perfect name. And there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Kinsey is perfect for the committee. Just perfect."

As Teal'c changed, O'Neill kept up a steady stream of comments, but Teal'c was gratified to notice that the words were growing softer... with longer pauses in between. By the time he was ready for bed, the only sound was Jack's heavy breathing. Teal'c walked around the partition, past the sleeping man, and around the final partition to where DanielJackson slept.

The blanket was on the floor and Teal'c immediately picked it up. His friend was on his stomach, one arm dangling over the edge of the bed, his legs askew, his face buried in the pillow. Teal'c draped the covering over his friend, then rested the back of his hand against one pale cheek. Cool. That was good. He'd been worried that perhaps DanielJackson was becoming ill. He returned to his section, sat down, crossed his legs, and began the process of moving into kel-no-reem.

***

"Excellent job, everyone."

General Hammond rose and closed his folder, declaring by his actions, that the de-briefing was over. He started toward his office, then as if remembering something, turned back and said, "Doctor Jackson, Doctor Frasier mentioned that she'd like to see you again when we were finished here."

Surprised, Daniel looked up and said, "Me, sir?"

"Yes, Doctor, you. Don't get me into trouble with her, understand?"

"Er, no sir, I won't sir."

As soon as Hammond entered his office, Jack prodded Daniel on the back and said, "You been holding out on us, Daniel? You and Mama Frankenstein got a thing for needles?"

"Ha-ha, Jack. Very funny. Now I know why I need to see Janet again... it's because you keep me in stitches with your sharp wit."

"Sir, I do believe you've been one-upped," Sam quipped.

"Me? Never. Why, I can one-up Daniel with my eyes closed-"

"And you haven't... yet... exactly why?" Daniel asked with a smirk.

Jack waved a hand dismissively and said, "Not worth my time." With a smirk, he left, Sam trailing behind him.

Daniel thought that was par for the course.

He gathered up his notes and books, pushed back his chair, and was about to head down to the Infirmary when a voice behind him said, "I will accompany you, DanielJackson."

Damn, he'd almost forgotten Teal'c was still in the room. He shook his head and smiled. "No need, Teal'c. She's been trying some new medication on me and probably just wants to see how I'm doing. Can we say, 'boring'?"

"Boring."

Daniel squinted at his friend, caught the gleam of humor in the dark depths of Teal'c's eyes, and grinned in return. "You're getting damn good at this humor thing, Teal'c."

"I have observed the master for many years now."

Chuckling, Daniel nodded. "Yeah, Jack's the master, all right."

They started out and, once in the corridor, Daniel reiterated the fact that Teal'c didn't need to follow him to the Infirmary.

Bowing his head, Teal'c said, "Very well. I shall see you later."

Daniel gave him a slight wave and turned to his left as Teal'c went right. Daniel really had no desire to see Janet, but he knew better than to disregard an order from her, let alone a more gentle 'order' from Hammond.

***

"How many in the last ten days?"

Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose and debated telling a small white lie.

"Daniel, the truth," Janet ordered.

Damn.

"I don't know, maybe... three?"

The look she gave him clearly said she was less than thrilled with his answer.

"How many on the latest mission?"

"Uhm... really only one."

Oh, good, that really sounded convincing... not.

Janet crossed her arms over her chest and said, "Care to explain, Daniel?"

"Oh, well, you know... the same one, it receded, then came back, then... you know...."

"Daniel, what am I going to do with you?" Janet asked, clearly exasperated.

Daniel shrugged sheepishly.

"Why do you suppose you're suddenly experiencing migraines again? What's changed?"

With another shrug, Daniel said, "I don't know. But that last set of pills worked pretty well."

"You're sure?"

He nodded in a way that he hoped looked reassuring.

"That's something, then. All right, this is what I want you to do for the next thirty days-"

Daniel groaned inwardly and listened as Janet insisted that he document any further migraines, what he was doing when they hit, what time of day, and where he was. He nodded and jumped off the bed. "Can I go now, mom?" he said with a grin.

"Get out of here," she said with a laugh.

He got out.

***

He almost had it....

And lost it as his office phone rang.

Throwing his pencil down, he walked over to the wall and picked up the receiver.

"Jackson."

Daniel, it's me, Paul. I was hoping we could have that dinner... maybe tonight?

Daniel leaned into the wall. He'd forgotten all about Paul. Even though he'd started out in the debriefing with SG-1, Paul had quickly been summoned away for a conference call with his boss, Senator Kinsey, who evidently hadn't been able to wait for General Hammond's report.

Daniel? Are you there?

"Oh, yeah, I'm here."

So... dinner?

One phrase kept playing in his head... 'why not?' so he said it.

"Why not?"

Great. I'll come down there around six, and we can head out?

"Sure. You up for Italian?"

If you're thinking of Caesar's, I most definitely could go Italian.

"Caesar's it is. See you in a few hours."

Hanging up, Daniel wondered what had possessed him to say yes. Besides... loneliness.

***

Daniel followed Paul down the mountain, still shocked that they were doing this. That he was doing this. By the time Paul had shown up in his office, Daniel had convinced himself that all Paul was looking for was a friend. One look at his face, however, told a different story. The man's eyes glittered as he'd checked Daniel out, clearly glad to see him dressed in civvies. Now, as he followed Paul, he had to admit that this was a 'date'.

He wasn't overly surprised about the date being with Paul, as he'd sensed a kindred spirit. His only surprise was that Paul had asked him out.

***

Daniel sipped his wine and looked around the restaurant. Paul had just excused himself following their dinner plates being removed by their waiter and Daniel was enjoying a few moments of silence. They'd been talking non-stop, albeit enjoyable talk, but it was equally nice to experience silence. The wine was good and had been an excellent compliment to their shared family-style meal of Caesar's famous cioppino, but he was looking forward to the rich coffee that would accompany their dessert of cannoli.

"Miss me?" Paul asked as his hand brushed Daniel's shoulder and he retook his seat.

Eyes sparkling, Daniel said, "No."

Clutching his heart, Paul said, "I'm mortally wounded."

"Not," Daniel responded with a grin.

Paul leaned forward, the candlelight reflecting an undeniable heat in his eyes as he said, "Yes...."

***

Daniel entered the SGC whistling and immediately stopped as he realized how silly he probably sounded. He replaced the whistling with a silly grin instead.

It had been weeks since his dinner with Paul -- and what had followed -- and while his problems at the SGC hadn't abated, nor had his conflicts with Jack, they'd all taken a back seat to the joys of sex with Paul. They met as often, and as discreetly, as possible and the sex was... terrific. Of course, some would say that any sex for Daniel at this point would have been terrific, it had been so long, not to mention even longer since he'd been with another man.

And that's what felt so good - sex with another man. Hot, sweaty sex; a man's dick in his mouth; his in a hot, tight ass; the feel of rippling muscles; the strength that came from having sex with a man. If Paul wasn't the right man, he was a man who held Daniel when he needed it, who looked at him with respect, and whose softly whispered words in the middle of the night soothed him back to sleep. Paul was surprisingly funny in bed and it was like a return to his youth, to his first experience with a man, to the wrestling, the fun, gymnastics, and playfulness.

Jack's barbs, when he actually saw the man, now bounced off Daniel, and if it seemed that SG-1 consisted of Jack, Sam, and Teal'c, well, when Daniel left the mountain on many a day, it was to meet Paul, to see the light come on in his eyes at his first glimpse of Daniel, and to feel his cool lips on his. And no, he didn't feel guilty about being with one man when his heart wanted another. He could never have Jack, which meant that he needed to move on, and Paul was everything he needed to move to.

Daniel was happy, as happy as it was possible to be under the circumstances, and for that, he was grateful.

***

Daniel looked at his watch, then at the restaurant door. Paul was only fifteen minutes late, but for an Air Force major, that was tantamount to days late. Something must have come up - but no, Paul would have called. They'd been back from Russia for days, and this was their first chance to meet up since returning. Daniel smiled at the memory of Teal'c walking through the 'Gate, completely unaware of all that had led up to his resurrection.

Grinning, Daniel glanced up and spotted Paul as he entered. He watched him shake off the hostess' attempt to take his long coat, and Daniel's heart fell. Something had come up, and Paul would not be staying.

He watched as Paul looked for him, spotted him, and started to make his way over to their table. As he came up to his chair, he said with a half-smile, "Hey, Daniel, sorry I'm late."

"That's okay. I take it something's come up?"

Paul glanced around the room, and noting that the table was in one of the darker corners, nodded in satisfaction, pulled out his chair and sat down.

"Not exactly," he finally answered, his eyes darting around the room again.

Something was definitely wrong, Daniel thought. He held up the bottle of wine he'd ordered and asked, "Shall I pour you a glass?"

Paul's gaze came back to the table and he said, "What? Wine? Oh, no, thank you. I... I can't... I'm not staying, Daniel."

The last part of Paul's sentence was said with a degree of finality that put Daniel on edge.

"I... I can't do this anymore, Daniel. I'm sorry. I thought... I thought I could," his eyes raked over the room again, "I thought... but I was wrong. This just isn't worth it to me and I need to think of my career. You know how important it is to me, and you know how the military feels about," he wiggled his finger between the two of them, "this, us, about... well, you know what I'm trying to say." He squared his shoulders and added, "This just isn't worth my career."

Daniel would have loved to say that he'd been expecting this conversation, but truth be told, he hadn't. He should have been, because it wasn't new to him. But once again, he'd been caught by surprise by a rejection, a choice that wasn't him.

Damn, when was he going to learn?

"Hey, I understand, Paul. No sweat. It was great while it lasted, and no, I can't believe I just said that. Trite, eh?"

Paul shook his head, pushed back his chair, and stood up. "I'm sorry, Daniel. Please, have dinner on me, okay?"

He tossed down two twenties and Daniel thought, 'How tasteless,' even as he shook his head. "No, I won't stay either."

"Please, I'd feel better...."

So that was Daniel's job now? To make Paul feel better about Daniel not being worth Paul's career? Sorry to disappoint. He got up quickly. "No, I have some work to do anyway, so I'll be heading back to the Mountain."

"Order to go, then?" Paul said, the pleading evident in his voice and eyes.

Daniel waved off the offer and watched with a perverse satisfaction as Paul picked up the money. Who knew he could be so petty?

"Well, then, I guess this is-"

"It's not good-bye, Paul. We'll see each other at the SGC, work with each other. And don't worry, we're okay, the friendship is intact."

That was evidently what Paul needed to hear. He expelled a long breath, and nodded.

Guess he wasn't so petty after all.

End Part 1 – tbc in part 2
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