Daniel was still asleep when Jack got up the next morning. The colonel checked on him to make sure he was okay, then took a shower and got dressed. As he was drinking his morning coffee, he decided to call the base and leave a message for the general, requesting the day off for his team, including Daniel. The mission that they had been due to go on this morning had been rescheduled for tomorrow, so there was no reason why they couldn't take the day off. While he was at it, he called down to Sam's office. Surprisingly, she wasn't there yet, so Jack called her house.
"Hey, Carter. Whatcha doing there? I thought you lived at the base." Jack said when she answered the phone, only half-joking.
"As much as it may surprise you, sir, I do actually go home on occasion."
The corners of Jack's mouth turned up. "Wasn't in the mood to work, huh?"
There was a pause. "No, sir. I . . . had a lot to think about."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Hey, I'm going to play hooky with Daniel today. Wanna join us?"
"Sure. That sounds nice. Do you have any plans?"
"Nope. We're going to play it by ear."
"Play what by ear?" asked a sleepy voice. Jack turned to see a tousle-headed Daniel standing just inside the kitchen, looking for all the world like a little boy just having been awakened from sleep.
"Carter and I are planning our day off," Jack told him.
"Day off? You're taking the day off?"
"No, we're taking the day off, as in you, me, Carter and Teal'c."
"We are? I thought you had a mission scheduled for this morning."
"It's been moved to tomorrow. A little downtime will do us all some good."
Braced for an argument, Jack was stunned when Daniel said, "Okay. Sounds good."
Jack stared at him in surprise. "Okay? You're not going to argue, say you have translations to do or rocks to study?"
"No, I think a day off is a good idea."
Jack turned his attention back to the phone. "Carter, there's a pod person in my kitchen. Call the Marines."
Sam laughed. "When should I come over, sir?"
"I'll be there. Are you going to call Teal'c or should I?"
"You go ahead, Major. I need to fix Danny Boy here some breakfast. A growing boy needs nourishment."
"Danny Boy" made a face at him, almost sticking out his tongue.
After ending the call, Jack started breakfast as Daniel went off to take his shower. The archeologist came back dressed in some clothes left over from the last time he stayed with Jack. He immediately headed to the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. He took a deep whiff of the brew.
"Hey, you fixed the good stuff," he said in delight, taking an appreciative sip.
"Of course. I only have that pricey stuff here for you." Jack carried platters full of eggs, bacon and toast to the table. "Grab that pitcher of orange juice, will ya?"
The men sat down to breakfast. There was silence for several moments as they ate.
"It's been a while since we did this," Daniel commented.
"Yes, it has, not since after you came back."
Daniel nodded. When he descended, he had once again been in the position of having no place to live. Thankfully, unlike when he'd been on Abydos for a year, he had not been penniless and dead in the eyes of the world. He had been declared MIA, so all his assets, including the money in his bank account, had been kept safe in case he returned someday. But it had not been possible to keep his apartment, so Daniel had again been left without a place to live. He stayed with Jack until they found a new place for him.
The linguist snapped his mind back to the present. "Hmm?"
"Um . . . about your transfer."
"Oh, uh, yeah. I guess I need to talk to Hammond about that, don't I."
Jack looked at his plate. "You want to come back to SG-1?"
Daniel put down his fork. "Jack, I'm sorry about that whole thing. I was really angry and upset, and I wasn't thinking clearly. I shouldn't have transferred."
Jack played around with his food. "So . . . we're okay? I mean, all that stuff that was said. . . ."
"Yeah, we're okay, Jack."
The colonel nodded, still not looking at Daniel. Finally, he sighed, put his fork down, and lifted his head to meet his friend's gaze. "I guess we should talk about it."
"That's not necessary."
"I think maybe it is. All that anger of yours came from somewhere, Daniel. You must have really had those feelings about . . . about the way I've treated you in the past."
"Jack, we don't—"
"Daniel, I don't talk about these things very often, so just let me do this, okay?"
Daniel searched his eyes and nodded.
"I, uh, heard you and Carter talking in your office."
The archeologist's eyes fell to his mostly empty plate. "Oh."
"Yeah. It . . . upset me to hear you say those things. It hurt a lot to think that you believed our friendship was over."
"Ah!" Jack said, holding up his finger. "What did I say?" Daniel shut up. "That's better." He looked at his friend intently. "Daniel, I have never considered you to be of no value. I'm so sorry that I made you feel that way. You are most definitely not worthless, not to me and not to the SGC. Just the opposite, in fact." Jack leaned forward, arms on the table. "Daniel, don't you have any clue how much we owe to you, how important your contribution has been to us? Well, let me tell you. If it wasn't for you, I have no doubt that this planet would now be either a smoking ruin or enslaved by the Goa'uld."
"Jack, you really don't have to say this. I know that when I went through the Quantum Mirror—"
"No, I'm not talking about that . . . well, not entirely. Yes, the fact that you ended up going to that alternate reality and finding out about the attack then coming back with that gate address did save us from the same fate, but it goes beyond that. When that alternate Carter and Kawalsky came through to our reality, they said that ours was one of the only Earths they'd seen through the mirror that appeared not to have been overrun by the Goa'uld. Why do you think that we're one of the lucky ones?"
"Well, it's like Sam said at the debriefing. It's because of the ways that our reality differed, Teal'c coming over to our side, Sam being in the military—"
"You being part of the Stargate Program," Jack added with emphasis.
"Daniel, you remember when the two Carters were working on that power
booster thing? Well, I decided to go check on how they were doing
and happened to overhear a conversation between them, and I think it's
about time that someone tells you about it." He then recalled to
Daniel what he heard that day.
"I was wondering about Doctor Jackson," Doctor Carter said. "Who is he? How did he get involved?"
"Daniel's the one who opened our Stargate," Sam replied.
Doctor Carter looked at her in surprise. "He is? You didn't open it?"
"No, but not for lack of trying. I'd been working on the project for two years with Catherine Langford, trying to get the gate to work. Catherine finally decided that we needed a fresh mind. She'd heard about Daniel. He's an archeologist, anthropologist and linguist and an expert on Egyptian history and mythology. He speaks twenty-three Earth languages and can read I don't know how many forms of ancient Earth writing. He is, quite simply, the most brilliant person I have ever known. You'd be amazed by his intelligence."
"You really care about him," Doctor Carter said.
Sam smiled. "Yes, I do. He's my best friend. We get along really well together."
"So, Catherine brought Daniel in on the project. How long did it take him to figure things out?"
Doctor Carter's mouth dropped open. "Two weeks?"
"Uh huh. But it's even more amazing than you think. When he figured it out, he had no idea that the gate even existed and was not allowed to see any of our work to date, except for the translation of the hieroglyphics, which, by the way, Daniel immediately corrected. The project had been made classified, and all information became restricted. Working only from the symbols on the coverstone and having no knowledge of the gate, Daniel managed to identify the seventh symbol, which had been eluding us, figured out that the symbols were actually star constellations, and determined what the purpose of the symbols was."
"Wow," Doctor Carter said, clearly impressed.
"Yeah. I have no doubt that, if Daniel had been told about the gate, he'd have cracked the whole thing within a few hours, maybe less. I've seen him come up with answers to problems and riddles in a matter of seconds. He was the one who figured out the reason why we couldn't get the gate to work for any world besides Abydos."
Doctor Carter nodded. "Stellar drift. I figured that one out pretty much by accident."
"Well, I worked on it for a year after we finally opened the gate and didn't think of it." Sam smiled again. "If Daniel had been around, we'd probably have had the answer in a few days."
"Why wasn't he around?"
"He stayed behind on Abydos. He met a woman there named Sha're and married her."
"Really? Jack told me about a woman named Sha'uri and her brother, Skaara. Could she be the same woman?"
Sam nodded. "Sha'uri was Sha're's maiden name. The Abydonian custom is for a married woman to change her name one month after the wedding. That first month is sort of like the newlywed period. At the end of it, there's a ceremony celebrating the end of the woman's maidenhood. Daniel explained the significance of the difference between the names Sha'uri and Sha're, but I don't remember it all."
"The Sha'uri of our reality was killed by one of Ra's men. So was her brother."
"Well, in ours, they both survived. In fact, Daniel saved Sha're after she was shot with a staff weapon by putting her in Ra's sarcophagus. Anyway, Daniel decided to stay on Abydos. While he was there, he found a kind of map room that had thousands of gate addresses."
Doctor Carter's interest heightened. "He did? We never found anything like that. We pretty much charted worlds by chance, dialing combinations at random."
"Well, that map room was like a gold mine for us."
"That was a lucky break. So, why did Daniel decide to return to Earth?"
Sam's face filled with sorrow. "A year later, Sha're was taken by the Goa'uld. They took Skaara, too. Daniel was determined to find and rescue them. He, Colonel O'Neill, Kawalsky and I went to a planet called Chulak, which was where Sha're and Skaara had been taken."
"You didn't find them, did you," Doctor Carter guessed.
"No, we did find them, but it was too late. Sha're had been made the host for Apophis' queen, and Skaara was taken as the host for his son, Klorel."
"Oh, no. Poor Daniel."
"Yeah. It devastated him. And the loss of Skaara hurt the colonel, too. He really cared about the kid. But Chulak is also where we met Teal'c. Colonel O'Neill was able to tell that Teal'c didn't like what the Goa'uld were doing and managed to convince him to turn against them and join us. Since then, we've been traveling from world to world, using the addresses that Daniel found on Abydos, and, later, ones that we obtained on another world we went to."
"And, in the process of going to all those worlds, you met the Asgard."
Sam nodded. "Without them, we probably wouldn't be here now. Thanks to the Asgard, Earth is a protected planet. The Goa'uld can't attack us." An expression of realization came to her face. "You know, I just realized something. Remember how I said before that it was the differences in our universe that contributed to our survival? Thinking about it, the one thing above all that has made our universe so different from yours is the fact that we have Daniel. Daniel found the map room that gave us all those gate addresses. It was because of him and what happened on Abydos that we went to Chulak and, therefore, met Teal'c and brought him to our side. Because of the addresses that Daniel found we came in contact with the Asgard and the Tok'ra, another powerful ally. And it was Daniel who went through the Quantum Mirror and was able to not only warn us of the impending attack, but also give us an address that took us to one of the attacking ships, thereby allowing us to destroy the ships. You know that other reality that Daniel went through to? They didn't have him either, and they met the same fate as your reality."
Doctor Carter nodded. "You're right. It's amazing when you think about it, that just one person could make such a difference."
"Yes, it is."
"I wish we'd been lucky enough to have Daniel. Maybe it would have made the difference for us as well. I wonder if he's still alive in my reality."
"If he is, you should find him and get to know him. If your
Daniel is like ours, I can guarantee that you will be happy you did."
Jack studied Daniel's face as he finished relaying what he had heard. "It's like they said, Daniel. It's because of you that we're not all dead and Earth is free from the Goa'uld. If you hadn't been with us, so many things would have been different. In addition to what the Carters said, a lot of the technology that we've managed to get our hands on wouldn't have been found if we hadn't had all those gate addresses. For example, I doubt we'd have the F-302 or the Prometheus. Any way you look at it, we'd have been a hell of a lot worse off if you had never come through the doors of this base."
Daniel shook his head. "Even if you're right, that's just because of the way things played out, because I decided to accept Catherine's offer instead of turning her down. A lot of major turning points have happened in history because of a simple decision on someone's part."
"Yeah, you're right about that. But, putting that aside for now, you're still failing to see what I'm getting at. A lot of the successes we've had, the advances we've made, were because you were with us, with SG-1. Your abilities and knowledge, your personality, your code of ethics, the whole . . . who and what you are, has played an integral part in where we are today. Let me give you a few examples. First of all, I know for an absolute fact that, if it hadn't been for you and your brains, Carter and I would be dead, frozen popsicles lying in that cave in Antarctica. That was you all the way, Daniel. Both the general and Teal'c told me about how it was you who figured it all out and how you wouldn't rest until you'd found us. We owe you big time for that one. Of course, then there's that alternate reality thing. The whole planet owes you for that one. You never told me the details, but I know that you talked those people in that alternate reality into giving up their last shot at escape so that you could get back to our reality and save our world. That couldn't have been easy. And you translated that message that gave us the gate address to Apophis' ship. You are the only one who could have done that. If it had been me, or Carter, or anyone else who went through to that reality instead of you, we'd have found out about the attack, but there's not a damn thing we could have done to stop it."
Jack leaned his elbows on the table. "You know, I could keep going for the next hour and still not cover every way that you've made a difference. You've done a whole lot of good, Daniel, and . . . and I'm proud of you."
Stunned at Jack's final statement, Daniel just stared at him. Then a warm feeling suffused him. He'd never realized how much he had longed to hear those words until just that moment.
"I. . . . Thank you. It means a lot to hear you say that."
"Yeah, well, I should have said it a long time ago. I should have said a lot of things a long time ago." Jack met Daniel's gaze for a moment longer, then slapped his hands against his thighs and stood up. "Well, that's enough of the touchy feely stuff. I don't wanna OD. Finish your breakfast before it gets cold."
"Yes, Dad," Daniel murmured with a faint smile.
"Watch it, buster. I may be older, but I could still clean the floor with you."
Jack took his own plate to the sink and rinsed it off, a smile coming to his face. He had Daniel back, and everything was going to be okay.