Sam and Teal'c both arrived right on time.
"So, any idea yet what we're going to do?" the major asked.
"Well, my original plan for the day was just to stay home, but I'd say that plan has changed," Daniel replied.
Jack looked at him. "Original plan?"
"Yeah, I'd already requested today off."
"And you saw fit not to tell me? I am your C.O., you know."
"Um, no, actually, you're not, not at the moment and not when I requested the time off. Besides, I didn't really get the opportunity to tell you," his lips curled upward, "and you were having too much fun this morning thinking that you'd performed a miracle on the scale of parting the Red Seas when you thought you had talked me into taking a day off."
Sam grinned, seeing the colonel's expression cycle between irritation and sarcasm.
"Okay, so Moses I'm not," he said at last. He turned to the others. "Let's get out of here before I reenact the tenth plague on the Jackson family."
Making a spur-of-the-moment decision, the colonel decided that they should go to Denver. They all piled into his car and took the seventy-mile trip, chatting pleasantly along the way. They spent the day hitting some of the hot spots in the city. Jack even agreed to go to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, which pleased both Daniel and Sam. The major was thrilled at the chance to go to the new Space Odyssey exhibit, and Jack had to admit that he had a good time there, too. Both he and Sam took turns piloting a model space shuttle, attempting to dock it. The colonel also had fun taking the controls of a robotic rover, one of the tiny robots used to explore the surface of Mars. While in the exhibit, Sam often went into one of her scientific spiels, explaining the exhibits in far greater detail than the information the museum had. While Jack, as usual, mostly tuned her out, Daniel listened attentively, even though he did not understand a lot of what she was saying.
Daniel, of course, wanted to go straight to the Egyptian Mummies exhibit. Once there, he launched into his own detailed lecture on everything in the exhibit. This time, Jack made an effort to pay attention and was actually surprised when he learned some things that interested him. Daniel also displayed a great deal of knowledge at the North American Indian Cultures Exhibit.
Throughout the day, Jack noticed that Sam seldom strayed from Daniel's side. She touched him frequently and was constantly smiling at him or laughing about something. Daniel, too, was a lot more tactile than usual and smiled more in two hours than he usually did in two years. There were several times when he grabbed Sam's hand and dragged her off, grinning, to see something. It made Jack feel good to see his "kids" happy.
A short while later, the two scientists came up to Jack and Sam.
"Are we ready to go?" Daniel asked. "Sam and I are starving."
"I could definitely eat," Jack replied. "Let's get out of here."
The rest of the afternoon passed pleasantly. On the drive home, they chatted about the day, agreeing that they'd have to do something like that again someday.
"So, how about if we order some pizzas and watch a video?" Jack asked when they got to his place. "I've got plenty of beer."
Daniel and Sam smiled at the colonel's offer, knowing this was the older man's idea of the perfect evening, that is when it wasn't hockey season.
"Sure. Sounds good," Sam replied.
"But only if Sam and I get to choose the movie," Daniel added. "I don't think that either one of us can take another viewing of National Lampoon's Vacation."
"Hey, I've only played it twice," Jack objected.
"You have shown that movie three times, O'Neill," Teal'c informed him. "And each of its sequels more than once."
"Yeah, okay, so I like Chevy Chase."
Daniel and Sam hid their smiles. "Well, this time, we get to pick," Daniel insisted. "We'll go down to the video store while you wait for the pizzas."
"All right, fair enough. But don't come back with one of those mushy romantic comedies."
"Don't worry, Jack. We wouldn't do that to you. I think we both realize that, to you, it would be worse torture than what Ba'al put you through."
"You got that right," Jack shot back. "In fact, if he'd only known, he could have forgotten about the knives, acid and other stuff and just made me watch My Best Friend's Wedding half a dozen times in a row. I'd have caved right in."
Chuckling, Daniel and Sam headed off in the major's car to the video store. They perused the shelves, looking for something that they thought everyone would like. They were in the comedy section when Daniel's gaze fell upon one particular movie. A mischievous grin split his face.
"Hey, Sam. I found just the right one." He showed it to her. A huge smile lit her features.
"Perfect," she agreed.
Video in hand, they returned to Jack's place. The pizzas had arrived, and everyone dug in.
"So, what did you get?" Jack asked.
"A movie Sam and I thought that you and Teal'c would really appreciate," Daniel replied, keeping his face straight.
"Really? What's that?"
The archeologist handed the tape to Jack. "Oh, funny, Daniel. Really funny," he said as he stared at the copy of Groundhog Day.
Teal'c peered at the box cover. "What is the special significance of this movie?"
Daniel and Sam both grinned. "You'll find out," the major replied.
As it turned out, the Jaffa was quite intrigued by the tale of the man who was stuck reliving the same day over and over again, commenting several times about his and Jack's similar experience.
"Well, I need to get home," Sam said after the movie ended. "We've got an early start tomorrow."
"Could you drop me home too, Sam?" Daniel asked. "My car's still at the base."
"You can stay here again tonight, Daniel," Jack offered.
"I don't have another change of clothes here. Um . . . am I going with you on the mission tomorrow?"
"Well, of course you're going with us," the older man responded. "We need to talk to Hammond and get you transferred back to SG-1 first, though."
Daniel smiled and nodded.
"Want me to pick you up in the morning?"
"I can pick him up, sir," Sam said. "He's right on my way to work."
Thanking Jack for the enjoyable day, Daniel and Sam left. On the way to the linguist's house, they were mostly quiet, thinking about the events of the last two days.
As they pulled up to Daniel's place, he asked if Sam would like to come in for a few minutes, and she agreed.
"Would you like something to drink?" Daniel asked.
"No, I'm fine." Sam sat on the couch, and Daniel settled beside her. "This was a nice day."
"Yeah, it was. I honestly can't remember the last time I had that much fun. As much as I hate to admit it, Jack's right. We both really need to get out more."
"Yes, we do." Sam's tone changed. "Life is too short."
Daniel looked at her closely. "You okay, Sam?"
"Sure. I'm fine." Seeing that he didn't believe her, she gave a sigh. "I was just thinking about. . . ."
"About what happened yesterday."
"Yeah. You know, we had so much fun today that I almost forgot. . . ."
"That I died."
Sam nodded wordlessly.
"You want to talk about it?" Daniel asked gently.
Sam was tempted to say no, to just go home and push aside the pain that was still there inside her. But, this time, she decided that she didn't want to do that. She didn't want to hide these emotions from him.
"It hurt, Daniel," she said in a low voice. "It hurt so much. You died. You were gone. I was never going to see you again. When you ascended, it hurt more than I thought anything could, but yesterday was even worse because I knew that you were really gone."
She had begun to cry, and Daniel took her into his arms. "I know, Sam. I know," he whispered soothingly.
After a while, Sam felt tiredness creeping up on her. She pulled away and gave Daniel a rather watery smile.
"I'm sorry about crying all over you," she said.
"Don't apologize, Sam. I really do understand."
"I know you do, which is another reason why you are such a good friend." She got to her feet. "I'm going to head on home. I'll pick you up at seven, okay?"
"Okay. I'll see you then." Daniel wished her good night, then headed off to bed, thinking that days really couldn't get much better than the one he'd had today.
The next morning, Jack and Daniel entered Hammond's office.
"Did you and the rest of SG-1 enjoy your day off?" the general asked.
"Yes, we did, sir," the colonel answered, "even if Daniel and Carter did give me a headache with all their talking."
Daniel shot Jack a look, then turned back to Hammond. "Um, sir, before I change my mind, I'd like to request that I be put back on SG-1. It was a mistake for me to leave the team."
Hiding his smile, Hammond looked at the archeologist. "I'm afraid that I can't transfer you back to SG-1, Doctor Jackson."
"What?!" Jack squawked in protest. "But, sir, Daniel belongs with us. Everything's been straightened out, and I swear that nothing like that will ever happen again."
The general let some of his smile show through. "I think you mean that, Colonel, and I'm glad to hear it. But what I was going to say is that I never officially transferred Doctor Jackson off your team. I held off on filing the paperwork, hoping that there would be no need to file it."
Both of the men in his office smiled. "Great!" Jack exclaimed.
"Thank you, sir," Daniel said.
Hammond looked at the archeologist. "According to Doctor Fraiser's report, she detected some kind of anomaly in your bloodwork."
"Yes, sir. She took some more blood this morning and is going to run the tests again."
"You're sure that you feel all right."
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Very well, then. But at the first hint of trouble, I want you to report to the infirmary."
Hammond nodded. "Now, don't the two of you have a mission to prepare for?"
Jack smiled. "Yes, sir!"
The mission to P5C-801 was completely routine. As Jack said at the debriefing, "We went, we saw, we came back. We'll be picking up the pictures from Photo Mart tomorrow." Not that they were sorry it had been such an uneventful mission. After what they'd all been through, a nice, quiet mission was just fine.
Daniel paid only partial attention to what was said in the debriefing. All of his teammates noticed that he was distracted. After they left the briefing room, Jack confronted him on it.
"What's up, Daniel?"
"Huh?" He looked at the others. "Oh. Sorry. I guess I'm a little distracted."
"Yeah, a little. What about?"
Daniel looked at his teammates. "I want to go back to P7Y-359." The others stared at him.
"You're joking, right?" Jack responded.
"No, I'm serious."
"Daniel, after what happened to you there, why would you want to go back?" Sam asked.
The archeologist looked at all of them. "From what you told me, those people are living in constant fear of Bendrak, being forced to take the . . . the life power from two hundred of their own people every year to feed that thing. You can't tell me that you don't want to do anything to change that."
"No, of course we do," Sam assured him. "We just don't know what we can do. Depending on the size of the population, it could take months or even years to transport all the inhabitants to another planet. During all that time, there would be the constant threat that Bendrak would attack. He could wipe out hundreds, perhaps even thousands."
"Then we have to figure out how to get rid of Bendrak."
"Well, that would be great, Daniel, but I don't have any idea how to do that," Jack said.
"We really don't know what this Bendrak is," Sam pointed out. "It doesn't seem to possess a physical form."
"So, it's incorporeal, like the Ancients."
"Or it could be gaseous in nature, able to make itself visible or invisible. You said that you felt something touch you, so that seems to indicate it can solidify itself to a certain extent."
"There has to be a way to kill it. Nothing can be completely immortal." Daniel was silent for a moment. "The situation with Bendrak and the natives is only part of the reason why I have to go back there. I need to know why I'm not dead. The natives of P7Y-359 said that everyone Bendrak attacks die quickly, so why didn't I?"
"Well, it is possible that Bendrak didn't do the same thing to you that he does to the planet's inhabitants," Sam reasoned. "Maybe he deliberately wanted you to . . . to suffer as punishment for going into the temple without tribute."
"Yeah, I guess that might be so, but it still doesn't answer the question. Why am I not dead? My body shut down. I died, was dead for twenty minutes, yet here I am. Something or someone brought me back to life. How and why?"
"We don't know, and, quite frankly, it's a heck of a lot more important to us that you are alive than how it's possible," Jack told him.
"Yes, but, until I know how and why, there will always be that unanswered question in my mind. I already have too many of those regarding what happened while I was ascended, why I was made mortal again instead of being exiled to an empty planet like Orlin was, and why my memories were wiped from my mind but not permanently. I'm tired of these things happening to me and not knowing why."
"Daniel, I can understand how you feel," Sam said. "I can imagine how frustrating it must be. But I think that what we're all worried about is that, if you go back to that planet, Bendrak will go after you again."
"You got that right," Jack confirmed. "He probably thinks you're dead and might get a little ticked off if he finds out that you're not. I don't want to give him the chance to take a second crack at you."
"Then I just need to stay away from the temple," Daniel stated.
"That may not be enough to assure your safety, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c pointed out. "It is clear that Bendrak has the ability to leave the temple since he has attacked the village in the past."
"Yes, but unless he's somehow able to sense my particular presence, why would he bother? He must not be keeping an eye on the Stargate. Otherwise, he'd have known that Gennae went through and would probably have attacked you and Jack."
"We don't know what his motivations are, Daniel," Sam reasoned. "He might have had a reason for not attacking Teal'c and the colonel."
"Well, we can stand here all day and talk till we're blue in the face, but it isn't going to change the fact that I am not letting you go back to that planet," Jack said with finality.
Daniel stared at the colonel and sighed. "All right, I'll accept that . . . for now. But there's something else I want."
"Oh, do tell."
"I want to find out if the natives have any written accounts of their history, specifically about Bendrak. Maybe I can glean from it enough information to figure out what Bendrak actually is and how to get rid of him."
"What if you can't read their language?" Jack asked.
"Well, obviously, that is a possibility, but the natives should be able to help with that. All they'd have to do is give me some lessons. Of course, for them to be able to do that, either I'd have to go there or one of them would have to come here."
"And having one of them come here would put the others at risk," Sam said.
"Did Gennae not say that, after the Time of Tribute, Bendrak would sleep for one month and it would then be safe for one of them to go through the Stargate?" Teal'c asked.
Daniel's face lit with interest. "He said that?"
"Yes, he did," Sam confirmed.
"So, there shouldn't be any problem, then. After the Time of Tribute's over with, someone can go through and talk to the natives, see if any of them would be willing to come here and teach me their written language, if it's necessary."
Jack smiled and clapped him on the back. "I'll go there and extend the invitation myself, Daniel."