Stargate Horizons


Lost in thought as he sat forlornly at his desk, the sound of Daniel's name being softly spoken made him start violently.  He looked up to see Sam a few feet away.

"Daniel, what's wrong?" she asked anxiously as soon as she got a good look at his face.

Daniel turned away, blinking rapidly to clear the tears from his eyes.  "I, um, just got sacked."

"What?  No!  Oh, Daniel, please tell me that's not true."

"I wish I could.  According to General Hammond, I haven't been officially fired yet.  They're calling it a suspension.  Basically, it amounts to the same thing.  I'm out of the program."

"I can't believe they're actually doing this!  How can they?  You're too important to the program.  We need you!"

Daniel shook his head wearily.  "They don't share your opinion, Sam.  I crossed them, and this is my punishment."  Daniel gave a choked laugh.  "Hey, it could be worse.  I could be in jail."

Sam abruptly knelt on the floor beside Daniel's chair and pulled him into a fierce hug.  He hugged her back, feeling the tears burning in his eyes.  He squeezed his eyes tightly shut to keep them from falling.

"Don't you give up, Daniel," Sam said in an unsteady voice.  "We'll figure something out.  I have some friends at the Pentagon, and I know that the colonel's probably got some favors he can call in.  We'll get you back in the program."  She pulled back and gazed deeply into Daniel's eyes, her own eyes overly bright and showing the pain she was feeling.  "We're not going to lose you."

Daniel gave her a weak smile.  "Thanks, Sam."

The captain got to her feet, wiping the wetness from her eyes.  "When are you leaving?"

"Today, I guess.  I'll be packing up my stuff.  A lot of the things here belong to me."  He looked around the office, thinking about how much he was going to miss it.  "I . . . I guess I should get busy with that."

"You want some help?" Sam asked, her voice shaking even more.

Daniel shook his head.  "I think I'd rather do it myself, take my time.  It's, um, not like I'm in any hurry to leave."

Sam nodded, swallowing tightly.  "I'll come see you later, okay?"


After Sam left, Daniel made no move to start packing.  Instead, he just kept sitting in his chair, staring at nothing.  He wasn't sure how long he'd been like that when Jack came in.

"Daniel, this is not over," the colonel declared.  "Like General Hammond said, we're not giving up.  I've got people I can talk to, and Hammond's still working his angles."

Daniel met his friend's eyes.  "Come on, Jack.  Even the president gave into the wishes of these people.  How can you think that you'll be able to change it?"

"Because I'm going to work like hell to make them see that they are making a huge mistake!  We need your skills out there, Daniel.  It's because of you that we even have the SGC!  If those jackasses can't see how much we need you here, then I'm going to do all I can to educate them."

Daniel felt a small glow warm his heart at Jack's words.  It made him feel good to know that the man valued his knowledge and skills.  There had been times when he'd felt that his contribution to the team wasn't all that important.

The good feeling died quickly, however, the knowledge that he'd just gained making it even worse that he was going to lose all of this.

Daniel got up and went to the shelves containing his books.  He ran his fingers across the spines.  "You know what's funny?  All this time, I knew that, when I found Sha're, I'd leave here and return to Abydos with her.  There was never any question of that.  I was with this program for the purpose of finding her.  But, now that I've lost it, it's more than just the thought that I can't look for Sha're anymore that makes it hurt.  I . . . kind of got hooked on the whole thing, you know?"

"I know.  It's something else, isn't it?"


There was a long, uncomfortable moment of silence.

"So, until we get you back here, what are you going to do?" Jack finally asked.

"I have no idea.  My chances of getting a job within the archeological community are next to nil.  I have doubts that I'd even be able to find a teaching position, not with my reputation."  He smiled sadly.  "I guess it's a good thing I saved up some money.  I'll probably have to live off of that for a while."

"I promise you, Daniel.  We'll get you back here long before you go through your savings."

Daniel nodded, not looking at his friend.  "Well, I guess I should get busy packing."

"Why don't you hold off on that until tomorrow?  It's almost 1800 hours.  You'd never get it all done today without working well into the night."

"Will I still be able to get onto the base tomorrow?  I figured the general would have to ask for my security pass."

The thought of them taking Daniel's security pass away and locking him out of the mountain made Jack's chest tighten painfully.  Dammit!  They couldn't let this happen!

"Don't worry about that, Daniel," he said roughly.  "You'll still be allowed on the base tomorrow.  I'll make sure of that."

The archeologist nodded silently.  "I guess I'll finish the project I was working on, then.  It shouldn't take more than a couple of hours, and it'll make it easier on whomever takes over for me."

"Okay.  Come and see me before you head home, all right?"

"All right."

Jack paused, not really wanting to leave.  But he knew that Daniel needed to be alone right now.  "I'll see you later," he murmured, then left.

Alone again, Daniel returned to his chair and tried very hard to get back to work.  He hadn't been at it for very long when the third member of his team came in.

"Hey, Teal'c."

"Daniel Jackson, I have learned that you are being forced to leave the SGC."

"Yeah, I'm afraid so."

"It is not right that they would do this.  You acted honorably when you aided the Tollans to escape.  The leaders of your government do not recognize this?"

Daniel sighed quietly.  "I'm sure that some of them do.  The problem is that there are others who are very angry that I screwed up their plans to get the Tollans' technology.  They're the ones who are responsible for me being removed from the program.  They and others feel that I betrayed Earth with my actions."

"But this is not so.  You have fought bravely in the service of the Tau'ri.  You have contributed much in our battle against the Goa'uld.  You would never betray your people."

"Unfortunately, they don't look at things the same way, Teal'c.  All they see is that I chose to help a group of aliens instead of letting our government get hold of technology that we could have used to fight the Goa'uld.  That is a betrayal in their eyes."

"But that technology was not being offered willingly.  They would have had to force the Tollans to part with it."


"The Goa'uld steal technology from others, often by force."

Daniel looked at him.  "Exactly.  That's why I couldn't let the NID do the same thing.  It would make us no better than the Goa'uld."

Teal'c thought about that.  "O'Neill says that he will continue fighting to have your place in the SGC restored."

"He's going to try, but I'm not really holding out much hope.  I need to accept that it's over."

Teal'c fell silent, upset by the impending loss of this man he had come to think of as a friend.

"What will you do now?" he asked at last.

"I haven't quite figured that out yet.  I guess I'll think of something."

Teal'c looked intently into Daniel's eyes.  "If there is any way that I may help, anything that I may do for you, you need only ask, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel gave him a sad, yet grateful smile.  "Thank you, Teal'c.  That means a lot to me."

The Jaffa inclined his head, then turned and left.

This time, Daniel didn't even try to get back to work.  He knew it was useless.  Instead, he got up and began wandering around, his eyes soaking in the sights around him, hands touching artifacts gathered on various worlds.  He wondered if they'd let him keep them.  None of them could be considered a threat to the secrecy of the program.  They had no meaning for anyone but him, small pieces of a life that he'd now lost.  Daniel closed his eyes.  Maybe it would be best to leave them after all.  They would only serve to remind him of what he no longer had.

Daniel came to one object in particular.  It was a tiny statue, a gift from Sha're.  It had been in a pocket of his robes when he returned to Earth after Sha're's abduction.

Staring at the statue, Daniel suddenly knew what he had to do.  He went to Jack's office, but found it empty.  On a hunch, he went to Sam's lab.  Sure enough, Jack was there, along with Teal'c.  He could hear them talking angrily about what had happened.

"Daniel?" Sam said in surprise when the archeologist came in.  None of them had expected him to seek them out.  During these months that they'd known him, they had come to realize that Daniel tended to prefer solitude when he was really upset.

"Hi.  I, um. . . ."  Daniel looked straight at Jack.  "I want to go to the Land of Light."

"What?!" Jack exclaimed.  "Why?"

"Because, from there, I can go to Abydos when they unbury the Stargate.  If I don't leave Earth now, while I still have access to the Stargate, I'll never be able to leave.  I'll never be able to go home to Abydos.  Jack, without my job at the SGC, there's nothing for me here on Earth.  Like I told you before, my hopes of finding employment in my fields of expertise aren't all that great.  On Abydos, that wouldn't be a problem.  The Abydonians value my knowledge and training.  I was a teacher there, and I can be again.  It . . . it won't be the same without Sha're, but at least I'll be of some use.  My life will have some purpose."

Jack gazed at his friend, seeing how much Daniel needed him to say yes.  He sighed.  "Okay, Daniel.  I'll talk to the general and arrange things."

"Thank you.  Is it all right if I come with you?"

"Yeah, let's go."

General Hammond was surprised by the request, but only a little.  He knew that, other than the Stargate Program, Daniel had nothing binding him to Earth.  It made sense that the young man would want to return to the place he'd called home for over a year.

"I'm afraid that I'll have to get permission for you to leave, Doctor Jackson.  I'll make some phone calls first thing in the morning."

"Thank you, sir.  I appreciate it."

Daniel and Jack went to the archeologist's office.

"You going home now or are you still working?" the colonel asked.

Daniel let out a little laugh, which held no humor.  "I'm afraid that I haven't really been working much.  I've kind of got a lot on my mind."

Jack lapsed into a short silence.  "Uh . . . how about coming over to my place for the evening?  We could talk . . . or not.  Whatever you'd like to do.  Sam and Teal'c could come over, too, have a te—"  Jack's voice broke off sharply before finishing the sentence.  This would not be a team get-together.  Daniel was no longer a member of SG-1.

Daniel looked into Jack's eyes, seeing the silent plea there.  All he really wanted to do was go home and be alone, but he knew that his friends needed this time with him, especially if he was going to be leaving Earth.

"Okay.  That sounds good," he said gently.

A brief smile flashed across Jack's face.  "Good.  I'll go get Carter and Teal'c.  Meet you at my place?"

"Yeah.  You want me to bring anything?"

"Nope, just yourself.  I'll order some pizza to be delivered.  There's plenty of beer in the fridge."

As Daniel headed toward the elevator, he noticed several people looking at him.  Apparently, the news was already spreading.  Most of the looks he got were sympathetic, though others were ambivalent, particularly those from the Marines.  Daniel knew that a lot of them still believed that civilians had no business being on SG teams, especially on the premiere team.

Daniel approached the first checkout station.

"Hey, Doctor J," greeted Lieutenant Grey, who was on duty there.  "I heard about what happened.  I think it's a damn shame what they're doin' to you.  It just ain't right, not right at all.  We're gonna miss you around here.  I know some of my fellow Marines don't think you belong on an SG team, but not me.  I heard all about that first mission, how you helped whup Ra's ass.  That makes you okay in my books."

Daniel smiled in gratitude.  "Thanks, Tim."

The Marine looked at Daniel's security badge.  "I ain't got no orders to take that, so I'm lettin' you keep it."

"Yeah, I'll be coming back tomorrow to pack up my office and to make some other arrangements."

Lieutenant Grey nodded.  "I'll be on duty here again tomorrow, same time.  We can say our goodbyes then."

"Okay, Tim.  I'll see you then."

Daniel managed to get through the remaining checkpoints without any more conversations, which was good because talking about the whole thing was not easy for him.

As Daniel had suspected, the evening with his former teammates was also not easy for him.  Every time he looked at Jack, Sam or Teal'c, he thought about the fact that it might be one of the last times he'd see them.  If his request to go to the Land of Light was approved, chances were that he would never set foot on Earth again.  Would his friends ever be able to visit him?  Maybe someday.  He hoped they would.

The evening was spent mostly in bittersweet reminiscence, recalling missions and things that happened at the SGC.  It was after midnight before Sam and Teal'c finally, reluctantly, left.  Sam gave Daniel a long hug before heading out the door.  He stepped outside and watched them leave, remaining there long after the car had disappeared from view.

"It's pretty late," Jack said behind him.  "My spare room's still available."

"No, I. . . ."  Daniel's voice caught.  "I really need to go home."  'I need to be alone so you won't see me totally lose it.'

Jack let out a sad sigh.  "Okay.  I'll see you in the morning."

"Yeah."  Daniel heard Jack walk back toward the house.  "Jack?"


Daniel turned to face him.  "Thank you.  Thank you for everything."

Jack nodded shortly.  He then spun around and strode quickly into the house, shutting the door behind him.

"I am very sorry, Doctor Jackson," General Hammond said regretfully, having just given the young man yet another piece of bad news.

"But I don't understand.  Why won't they let me leave?" Daniel cried.

"It's a matter of your safety, Son, and the security of Earth.  You would be totally unprotected out there.  There is some concern that, if you were captured by the Goa'uld, they could gain information from you that could jeopardize Earth."

"Oh, please.  Every time I go on a mission there's the chance that I could get captured by the Goa'uld, yet no one's ever said anything about it.  My knowledge of the Stargate Program is no more sensitive than what any other SG team member knows."

"Yes, you're right.  You have no greater knowledge of the Stargate Program than many of the other people who go through the gate.  However, you do have other knowledge and unique abilities that could pose a serious risk to Earth if the Goa'uld were to gain control of them."

Daniel stared at the general unbelievingly.  Then it suddenly hit him.  "That's it, isn't it.  That's the real reason why they won't let me go.  They want to keep me here, within easy reach, just in case they ever need me for something, like maybe to translate the instructions for some weapon they get their hands on."  Daniel let out a sharp bark of laughter.  "I don't believe this!  They want me gone, out of the program, but they want me to be at their beck and call whenever they need me?!"

The general's silence told Daniel that his guess was right.

"Well, you can tell them to forget it.  They can plead, demand and threaten all they want, but I am never going to do anything for them.  They wanted me out of the program, well then I'm out of the program, totally, utterly, completely.  If they want me to do translations, then they can give me back my job.  It's all or nothing."

General Hammond gave him a nod.  "I'll pass on your message, Doctor Jackson."

Daniel rose to his feet and strode out of the office.  He went straight to Sam's lab, not noticing how everyone in his path hurriedly got out of his way once they saw the set of his shoulders and the thunderous look on his face.

Daniel stormed into the lab, seeing that Jack was there.

"They won't let me go!" he yelled.

"What do you mean they won't let you go?" Jack asked.  Daniel was steamed, really, really steamed.  When Daniel was angry, he tended to get hyper, but he was way beyond that stage this time.  He was at the vibrating-like-a-Magic-Fingers-bed stage.  Pure fury was pouring off him in almost visible waves.  His eyes were blazing like twin blue giant suns.  It was a frightening thing to see.  Damn!  Even a Goa'uld might think twice about tangling with Daniel right now.  Those eyes could probably kill at twenty paces.

"They want to keep me on a leash, keep me around and available just in case they ever need me for something," Daniel snarled.  Wow.  Daniel can actually snarl.

"For what?" Sam asked.

"Oh, like maybe translating the instruction book for some nifty weapon or other piece of technology they get their hands on.  In other words, they want me out of the SGC, but they don't want to completely lose a 'valuable resource'.  I also wouldn't be surprised if this was another part of their revenge against me."

"Crap.  Why doesn't this surprise me?" Jack said.

"So, what are you going to do?" Sam asked.

"Well, it'll be a cold day in hell before I do anything for them, and that's what General Hammond is going to tell them."

"So, you're stuck here," Jack muttered.  For his own selfish reasons, he was happy since it meant that he'd still be able to see Daniel from time to time.  The thought of his friend leaving Earth forever had really hurt.  But Jack knew how much this was hurting Daniel.  Because of that, he wished that there was something he could do to get Daniel through the Stargate.

Daniel turned and strode away a few feet, his arms wrapped tightly about himself in that self-hug that he did whenever he was feeling upset or insecure.  But then, all at once, his back straightened and his arms dropped.  He turned back to face them.

"I need you to meet me on the mountaintop, where the Tollans went," he said in a hushed voice.  "Bring Teal'c."

With no explanation as to the reason for his request, he quickly left.  Jack and Sam looked at each other in confusion, wondering what was going on.

A while later, they arrived with Teal'c at the clearing where Omoc and Daniel had sent the message to the Nox.  The archeologist arrived a couple of minutes later.

"Okay, what's up, Daniel?" Jack asked.  "Why did you ask us to come up here?"

"Because I didn't want there to be any chance that someone would see this or overhear us talking," Daniel said.  He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out the Tollan communications device.

Sam gasped.  "Daniel, that's. . . ."


Jack stared at them.  "That's what?  What is it?"

"It's the device Omoc used to contact the Nox," Daniel explained.

"What?  How on Earth did you get it?"

"He gave it to me."

"He what?!  Mister we-don't-give-technology-to-primitives-like-you actually gave you one of their techie things?"



"Just in case I needed their help.  When Omoc found out that I could be arrested for helping them, he was concerned.  He, um, offered to take me with them so that I'd be safe."

Jack's mouth dropped open.  "You're joking."


Jack shook his head in amazement.  "Daniel, you are really something else.  I can't believe you charmed that guy."

"Jack, I didn't charm anyone," Daniel said in irritation.  "Omoc may have been rude and unfriendly, but he has good reason for his attitude toward less technologically advanced races.  He isn't an uncaring man.  In fact, he cares very much, otherwise, he'd have had no qualms about giving us their technology and letting us blow ourselves up with it."

"So, obviously, you turned down his offer to go with the Tollans," Sam said.  "Is that why he gave you that thing?"

Daniel nodded.  "He wanted me to use it to call them if things got bad for me and I needed an . . . escape route."

"And are you going to use it now?" Jack asked.

"I have no choice, Jack.  If I don't leave today, I may never get off Earth.  I'll be a prisoner here.  I'm not sure they'll even let me leave if you find and free Sha're."

Jack nodded, knowing that Daniel was right.  "Okay, what can we do to help?"

"Just make sure I can get to the gate room when the time comes."

"No problem.  We'll get you there."

Daniel looked down at the Tollan device.  "So, I guess I'd better place my call, huh."

"You don't want to wait till later?" Jack asked.

"I'm afraid that if I come up here again, someone will get suspicious."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

Daniel took hold of the device with both hands, then, clearing his mind of extraneous thoughts, he pressed the blue button and mentally spoke the words he wished to record.  Once he was done, he pressed the button again.  He placed it on the ground and pushed the green button.  Like before, a bright beam of light shot upward into the sky.  They all stared heavenward, thinking about what that beam of light meant for all of them.

"What will you do after you get to the Nox world?" Sam asked.

"I guess I'll stay there for a while.  It might be nice to spend some time with Lya and her family, maybe get the chance to learn more about their culture and history."

"Hey, maybe they'll let you check out that cool floating city," Jack said.

"Yeah, maybe.  I might go to the Land of Light and visit Tuplo's people, too.  I never did get to ask them about their culture and its connections to the Minoan civilization.  Once the gate on Abydos is unburied, I'll go home."  Daniel handed the Tollan device to Sam and told her how to use it.  "If something happens and you need to contact me before I get to Abydos, use it.  I'll let everyone know that you might be calling for me."

"What about all your things, Daniel?  Your apartment and personal belongings?" Sam asked.

"I'm paid up on my rent till the end of next month, so you don't have to worry about that yet.  In regards to my belongings, I guess I'm not going to need most of them now, though there are some things that I'd like to have, photos, my journals and a few other items.  Maybe you can come visit Abydos and bring some of my things with you.  I'll leave the gate open for you for a while, a few weeks."

"Sure, Daniel.  We'd love to drop in and say hi," Jack said softly, trying not to show how much he was hurting at the thought that Daniel was leaving them forever.

Daniel gave him a sorrowful smile.  "As for the rest of my stuff, you guys can keep whatever you want.  You can give the artifacts to a museum."  He looked at Teal'c.  "I'd like you to have the Hounds and Jackals game, Teal'c."

"Thank you, Daniel Jackson.  I will treasure it for as long as I live," Teal'c said, his voice filled with sincerity and sorrow.

Daniel nodded slightly.  "As for everything else, just give it to charity."  Daniel glanced back up at the sky.  "I guess we'd better get back inside.  There's no way of knowing how quickly they'll come."

They went back inside.  At Daniel's request, Jack went to the locker room and gathered all of the clothing that was in the archeologist's locker, placing it in the small gym bag that Daniel kept there.

Before returning to Daniel's office, he got something else as well.  In the office, he handed the item to the archeologist.  Daniel took the radio, looking at Jack questioningly.

"That's in case of emergency," the colonel explained.  "You won't have a G.D.O., so you'd need to have a way to tell us that it's you so that we'll open the iris."

Daniel nodded and put the radio into the bag.

Jack, Sam and Teal'c watched as their friend gathered a few personal belongings and some books and placed them in the bag, along with several empty journals.  He paused as he picked up a little statue.

"This was an anniversary present from Sha're.  She gave it to me after I told her that it had been one Earth year since our marriage and that, on Earth, it was customary for people to celebrate the anniversary of their wedding.  It was supposed to bring me luck."  Daniel touched the statue one last time, then placed it in his pocket.  When he turned back to the others, they were all looking at him with sad eyes.  Unable to meet their gaze for more than a moment, he looked around the room some more, gathering up a few more things.

At last, Daniel closed the bag.  He stared down at it.  Not so terribly long ago, he had carried all of his worldly possessions in two suitcases.  Now, it was one lone gym bag that would carry the remains of his life here on Earth and the months he'd spent with three of the best friends he could ever have.  Such a small thing to carry the remnants of one of the most important and incredible chapters in his life.

Feeling his eyes begin to sting, Daniel quickly placed the bag on the floor and sat at his desk.  He wrote out some information on a piece of paper and handed it to Jack.

"That's my bank account information.  I've got a few thousand dollars in my savings account.  I don't have a lot of expenses, so I've been saving a big chunk of my paycheck every month.  If it's okay with Janet, put the money away in a savings account for Cassie's college tuition."  He sighed sadly.  "I wish I'd had the chance to say goodbye to her.  I'm going to miss her."

"She's going to miss you too, Daniel," Sam said, choking up.  "She really loves you, you know.  You've been so great with her."

"Well, she's a great kid, and she deserves all the love we can give her.  Give her a big hug and kiss for me, okay?"

Sam nodded, unable to speak.

Just then, the familiar claxons started blaring, the warning of an unscheduled off-world activation coming over the speaker.

"That's probably my ride," Daniel said quietly, wishing it hadn't come so soon.

Picking up his bag, he headed quicky to the control room with the others.  He laid the bag just out of sight and walked up to the observation window, feeling the presence of his friends at his back.

Daniel tensed as the wormhole opened.

"Are we getting a signal?" Hammond asked Sergeant Davis.

"No, sir, we're. . . .  Sir!  The iris is failing!"

"What!"  Hammond watched the iris open.  "Get it closed, Sergeant!"

"I can't, sir!   It's not responding!"

"It's okay, General," Daniel said quietly.  "There's nothing to worry about."

Hammond looked at him sharply.  "What do you mean, Doctor Jackson?  Do you know what this is all about?"

"Yes, sir, I do."

At that moment, a familiar figure stepped out of the wormhole.  Seeing who it was, the general told the men in the gate room to stand down.  He then turned back to Daniel.  "Would you care to explain this?"

"I can't stay on Earth, General," Daniel told him quietly.  "I can't let them keep me a prisoner.  I need to go home, to Abydos, to where my life can still have some meaning.  Can you understand that?"

Hammond looked at him kindly.  "Yes, I can."  He laid a hand on Daniel's shoulder.  "We're going to miss you, Son.  Things are never going to be the same here without you.  I can only pray that losing you will not result in a disaster we could have prevented if you were still with us."  He clasped Daniel's hand in his.  "It has been an honor to have you under my command, Doctor Jackson."

Blinking back sudden tears, Daniel said, "It's been an honor to be under your command, sir."

Everyone in the control room came forward and shook Daniel's hand or gave him a hug.  By the time the archeologist made it down to the gate room, he was holding onto his control by the skin of his teeth.

"Hello, Lya," he greeted the Nox woman.

"Hello, Daniel.  The Nox welcome you."

Giving her a nod, Daniel turned to his former teammates.  Sam was crying, tears falling unashamedly down her face.  Teal'c was looking more fierce than ever, and Jack . . . Jack wasn't even bothering to hide the pain on his face.

Daniel stepped up to Teal'c first.

"It grieves me deeply that you must depart, Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa said in a low voice.

"It grieves me, too, Teal'c.  I wish I didn't have to go.  Teal'c, I know that you still feel as if you need to make amends to me for your part in Sha're becoming a host, but what I said at the Cor-ai was true.  I know that you had no choice.  The only ones to blame for what happened to Sha're are Apophis and Amaunet.  You never had and you never will have any need to make amends for it."

Teal'c looked into his eyes for a long moment.  "You are a great and noble man, Daniel Jackson, and I am proud to call you my friend."  He clasped Daniel's arm tightly, then bowed his head, his jaw twitching and clenching with emotion.

"No more proud than I am to call you my friend, Teal'c," Daniel said, his voice rough with emotions.  He turned to Sam, who immediately stepped forward and wrapped him in a tight embrace.

"I am going to miss you so much," she whispered brokenly.

"I know, Sam," Daniel choked out.  "I'm going to miss you, too.  You've been one of the best friends I've ever had.  You are a very special person.  I'll think of you always."

"Me too."

Giving Sam one last squeeze, Daniel drew away from her.  He knew that there were tears on his face, but he just didn't care anymore.  What did it matter if they saw him cry?

At last, Daniel turned to Jack.

"I'm not going to say goodbye, Daniel," Jack declared, "because, one way or another, I am going to get you back on SG-1, even if I have to picket the White House to do it."

Daniel's lips curved upward slightly.  "You know, Jack, I can almost picture you doing that."

"You betcha!  So, you go spend some time with the Nox and maybe the Tollans and Tuplo, then visit with Kasuf for a little while, but you keep that gate open like you promised, because I'm going to be coming to bring you home.  You got that?"

"Yeah.  I got it, Jack."

Jack abruptly pulled Daniel into a bone-crushing hug.  Daniel returned it with equal fervor.  After far too short a time, the two men pulled apart.  Jack briefly laid a hand on Daniel's cheek, his eyes speaking the words he could not say.  Then he stepped back and, to Daniel's utter surprise, snapped off a salute.  Sam did likewise.  Daniel looked around and saw everyone else in the gate room and control room lift their hands in a salute, including General Hammond.  Fighting to keep the sobs at bay, Daniel straightened his back, squared his shoulders, and slowly returned the gesture, feeling like his heart was going to break.  He then turned and walked up the ramp, took Lya's outstretched hand, and stepped for what could be the last time through Earth's Stargate.

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