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That evening, Jack knocked on the door of Daniel's house.  It was answered a moment later.

"Hey, Jack," Daniel said, clearly not surprised.  But then, Jack didn't expect him to be, figuring that the archeologist sensed his the presence well before he even got to the door.

Daniel let him inside and shut the door.

"Looks like we might be getting some snow," Jack remarked.

"Yeah, that's what the weatherman says."  Daniel headed for the kitchen.  "Want a beer?"

"No.  Not this time."

That stopped Daniel in his tracks.  Jack refusing beer meant that this was going to be a very serious discussion.  Daniel had already guessed that it would be.

He changed directions and headed over to the couch and sat down.  "It took you long enough," he said.

"Excuse me?"

"Jack, I've been waiting for this heart-to-heart ever since the day after the rescue mission."

"Oh.  Yeah, I guess I kept putting it off, kind of lost my nerve."  Jack settled in the chair.  "I want you to tell me the truth, Daniel.  When you went after Ba'al, what did you plan on doing to him?"

Daniel took a moment to reply.  "I really don't know.  All I knew was that I wanted him to pay for what he did to you.  I was . . . really angry."

Jack sighed and rubbed a hand over his face.  "I'd always hoped that you'd never remember what Ba'al did.  I didn't want you to have that memory."


"Why?  Daniel, I didn't want you to remember watching me being tortured, that's why.  It's bad enough that I remember."

"Did you also not want me to remember how I failed you?"

Jack looked at Daniel, who was staring at the floor.  "You did not fail me, Daniel."

"You thought so at the time."

Jack leaned forward.  "Hey.  You listen to me, Daniel.  Yes, at the time, while I was in that cell, I didn't understand why you wouldn't do anything, even though you explained the rules of the Ascended to me.  But you did help me.  You think I don't know that it was you who gave Teal'c the idea about leaking the location of Ba'al's outpost to another Goa'uld?  Come on, Daniel.  I may not be the smartest guy in the world, but I can figure things out.  And after the stuff on Abydos, when we were all worried about what had happened to you, it really drove home to me what you had been trying to say about breaking the rules.  You did what you could, Daniel, like you always do.  Don't go developing a guilt complex over this."

Daniel's eyes drifted off to a spot across the room.  "That was the start of it, you know."

"The start of what?"

"My doubts about whether or not the ascended life was all it was cracked up to be.  I just couldn't understand why I wasn't allowed to help you, why the Ascended had those rules."

"And is that why you gave up on trying to make me go glowy and helped get me out of there instead?"


"So, I was the one who pointed out the serpent in your Garden of Eden, huh?"

Daniel looked at him.  "I guess you could say that."



"I'm not happy that I dimmed your joy of being ascended, Daniel, but I'm glad that I made you start to question whether or not things were as great as you thought they were.  It's best when illusions like that are broken slowly rather than shattered all at once.  It's a lot easier to take."

Daniel smiled a little.  "That's pretty profound, Jack."

"Well, I have my moments."  Jack's face became utterly serious.

"There's something else, isn't there," Daniel guessed.

"Yeah.  Hammond talked to me earlier today.  The guys in charge want you to have your own team."

Daniel didn't respond for a brief moment.  "Well, we already knew that might happen one of these days."

"Yes."  Jack stared down at his hands, which were clasped loosely between his knees.  "I think you should accept."

The utter silence from the couch made Jack look over at his friend.  There was shock on Daniel's face.  Worse than that, there was hurt.

"You . . . want me to leave SG-1?" the archeologist asked, his voice touched with the same pain that was on his face.

"No!  No, I don't want you to leave SG-1, Daniel," Jack immediately replied.  "How could you think that?"

"Then I don't understand."

"Daniel, sometimes, a commander has to do something that's in the best interests of the military regardless of how much he may not want to.  That rescue mission proved that you would make one hell of a good commander and that a team commanded by you would be quite an asset to the program."

"Jack, I had a thousand Jaffa helping me, not to mention you and three SG teams.  Somehow, I don't think that me and three other guys would have quite the same effectiveness."

"True, but it was you and you alone who took Ba'al down in the end.  That's the second Goa'uld you've personally captured in the space of, what, two months?  Two and a half?  At this rate, you'll have gone through the entire population of System Lords within a year."

"And what about the fact that I rushed off alone to capture Ba'al?  That sure didn't make you happy."

"No, but, as far as they're concerned, you proved that you didn't need anyone guarding your six, at least not that time."

Daniel shook his head.  "I just don't understand why they think that having me in command of a team would be so much better than if I stayed with SG-1.  I'm already using my abilities on SG-1."

"Let me put it this way, Daniel.  If I'd been in command of the rescue mission, when I told you that you shouldn't go after Ba'al, what would you have done?"

"Argued with you," Daniel answered bluntly, which made Jack smile just a little bit.

"Well, that's a given.  I've come to expect that.  But what if I'd put my foot down and still said no?"

Daniel paused a moment before replying.  "I guess I would have done what you wanted.  Despite all of your complaints about me not following orders, I've never openly defied you when you gave me a direct order."

"And that's why they think it would be better for you to have a team of your own.  They don't want someone holding you back, Daniel.  They want you to have full rein.  They know that I'd sometimes keep you from doing things that you could probably handle because I considered it too risky.  Of course, they don't want you taking on any suicide missions, but they want you to be the judge of what is and isn't too much for you to handle, not me."

Daniel got up and walked over to look out the window.  Though he could see nothing except his own reflection in the glass, he did not turn away.

Jack also got to his feet.  "Daniel, I could have lied to Hammond and said that you weren't ready to lead your own team, but, as much as I may have wanted to for my own sake, I couldn't do that.  You deserve more than that, and the program deserves what you can give to it as a team commander."

"And doesn't what I want matter?" Daniel whispered.

Jack stepped up to him.  "Yes, it does.  Of course it does.  But I want you to think about it, Daniel, really think about it.  This is not something that you have to decide right away.  You take as much time as you need.  Hammond will keep the bigwigs from getting too impatient."  He met Daniel's eyes.  "But I want you to know that, no matter what you decide, I couldn't be prouder of you than I am right now."

With that having been said, Jack headed for the door.


The colonel turned back to look at his friend.

Across the distance Daniel met his eyes.  "I know that I haven't told you this before, and I know that you've probably had reason to doubt it at times, but, throughout all these years, there is no other team in the SGC that I would have wanted to be on except SG-1."

Feeling the warmth and gratitude that those words brought to him, Jack gave Daniel a little smile, then turned and walked out the door.

Janet examined the visible portions of Sam's arm, checking to make sure the swelling wasn't excessive.  "So, how is it feeling?" she asked.

"Okay for a broken arm, I guess," Sam replied.  "I hate the cast.  It makes it so hard to do everything."

"Are you doing your exercises?"

"Yes, just like you told me to."

"Good.  We don't want you to lose too much mobility in that arm.  As it is, you'll have to do some serious strength exercises after the cast comes off to build the muscles back up and regain flexibility in your wrist joint."

Janet switched out of doctor mode and into friend mode.  "So, have you asked Daniel out yet?"

"No, of course not."

"Why not?"

Sam waved her broken arm in front of the doctor's face.  "That should be pretty obvious, Janet."

"Why let a broken arm keep you from asking him out?"

Sam stared at her.  "You're joking, right?  I can just see it now.  Daniel and I go on a nice romantic dinner, he asks me to go dancing, I wrap my arms around his neck and, clunk!  I knock my date unconscious with my cast."

"So, don't wrap your arms around his neck."

"Janet, I am not going to go on a date with Daniel while wearing a cast!  When we do finally go out, I want to look my best, and this," she waved her arm again, "is not my idea of an attractive accessory."

"Daniel wouldn't care about that, Sam."

"But I'd care.  Forget it, Janet.  No way am I asking Daniel out as long as this cast is on my arm."

The doctor looked at her closely.  "Are you sure that you're not using this as another excuse to wait?"

"Oh, right.  You found me out, Janet.  When we were fighting those villagers, I stepped up to that six and a half foot tall guy and said, 'Oh, pleeease break my arm, sir, so that I have an excuse not to ask my best friend out on a date.'"  Sam's voice was fairly dripping with sarcasm.  "I didn't arrange for this to happen just so that I'd have a reason to delay asking Daniel out."

"I know that, Sam.  I'm just saying that, since it has happened, maybe, subconsciously, you're letting it give you a temporary out."

"Well, I can assure you that is not the case.  The moment this cast is off, I'm going to ask him.  You just wait and see."

Sam had barely left the infirmary when Jack showed up there.

"So, how's Carter doing?" he asked the doctor.

"Just fine.  Her arm is coming along nicely."

"That's good.  So . . . what's going on between you two?"

"Going on, sir?" Janet repeated, confused.

"You told Daniel that he should ask Carter to go house hunting with him, and, by the way she reacted to it, I know that something's up."

"Ah.  Sorry, sir, but my lips are sealed."

"I am a superior officer, Major."

"Yes, you are, but my lips are still sealed."

"So, you're using the old doctor-patient confidentiality card, huh."

"No, I'm using the confidence between friends card.  This is a private matter, Colonel."

"Oh, come on, Doc.  I promise I won't tell anybody."

"No.  Sorry."

"I know it's about Daniel.  Gotta be."  Jack suddenly put two and two together.  "You know, don't you."

"Know what?"

"That he's in love with her."

Janet paused.  "I think we should discuss this in my office."

They went to the room, and the doctor shut the door.

"I'm right, aren't I," Jack said.

Janet gave a sigh.  "Yes, I know."

"Did Daniel tell you?"

"No.  Daniel isn't even aware that I know."

"Then it was Carter."

The doctor gave a nod.

"So, what do you think about it?"

"I think that they'd be good for each other."

"Damn right they would.  I'm surprised it took me figuring out that Daniel loved her for me to see it.  I've been trying to get him to ask her out on a date, but. . . .  Uh, do you know what happened on that vacation we all had off-world?"

"Yes, Sam told me."

"Yeah, well, it really did a number on him.  I don't ever want to see him hurting like that again.  He's afraid to ask her again because of that."

"I can understand that.  It can be terribly painful to be rejected."

The tone of Janet's voice made the colonel look at her more closely.  "You, too?"

Janet didn't answer for a while.  "You know that I was married, don't you?"


"Well, let's just say that my husband didn't like that I spent more time being a doctor than being a wife.  He walked out one day, telling me that he'd rather have a woman who was committed only to him."

"Jackass.  At least Sara had a better reason than that for leaving me."

"Your son?" Janet asked gently.

Jack nodded.  "I guess it's just as well.  I don't know how well I could have kept the Stargate a secret from her."

"I should imagine that it's pretty hard for the married personnel here to keep a secret like that from their spouses, especially the SG team members."

"Well, at least that's something Daniel and Carter won't have to worry about, that is if I can get them together."

Janet smiled in amusement.  "Colonel, are you matchmaking?"

"No, I am not matchmaking," Jack replied in a tone of affront.  "I'm merely trying to nudge Daniel a little.  The guy's head over heels for Carter, and he deserves to be happy."

The doctor nodded.  "Yes, he does.  They both do."

"Ah ha!" Jack crowed.  "You've been trying to get Carter to hook up with Daniel, haven't you."

Janet bit her lip.  "I didn't say that."

"But it's true, isn't it."  There was a smug look on Jack's face.

"No comment."

Jack ignored the statement.  "So, any luck?"

Janet remained silent.

"Hmm.  Maybe it's Carter that I should be bugging about this."

"Don't you dare, Colonel," Janet said firmly.  "The last thing Sam needs is to have her C.O. bugging her about her love life."

"But it's okay for you to bug her, huh?"

"That's different."

Jack grinned broadly.  "Gotcha."

Janet realized that he'd just tricked her into admitting that she had been trying to get Sam together with Daniel.  "Ooooh!" she fairly growled.  "That's it!  Out of my office!"

"Ooh, now she's mad," Jack said teasingly.

Janet's eyes narrowed.  "You'd better watch it, Colonel.  Your annual physical is coming up soon."

That wiped the smile off Jack's face.  "I'm going."  He pushed away from the desk at the same time as Janet moved toward the door.  The two of them collided, and Jack instinctively grasped her shoulders.  Both of them felt a little electric spark flare between them as their eyes met.  Jack instantly pulled his hands away as if he'd been burned.

"I'll, uh, see ya later, Doc," the colonel said, then quickly exited.

Janet blinked twice and leaned back against the desk.  "Okay, that was interesting," she murmured.  Shaking her head, she left the office and got back to work, putting the incident out of her mind.

When Sam returned to her lab, she was surprised to see Daniel there.  She couldn't help but think about the conversation she'd just had, which made her flush.

"Um, hi," she said, covering up her embarrassment.

"Hi," Daniel responded in a muted voice.

Sam came up to him and sat down on her stool.  "Oh boy.  I get the feeling that something big is up."

Daniel also sat down.  "I've been offered my own command."

Sam stilled in surprise.  "You have?"


"That's uhhh . . . that's. . . .  Wow."  Sam shook her head.  "I don't know why I'm surprised, not after the great job you did on the rescue mission."

"Yeah, well, that's really only part of the reason, Sam.  The main reason is my abilities.  The guys in charge think that a team commanded by me would be able to get into places no other team could, accomplish missions that would be too dangerous or difficult for an 'ordinary' team."

"Well, they do have a point, Daniel.  You've already proven that your abilities can make the impossible possible."

Daniel sighed and laid his forehead on his hands, elbows resting on the table.

"I'm getting the feeling that this isn't good news to you," Sam stated.

"I was up all night thinking about it.  Jack thinks that I should accept."

Again, Sam was surprised.  "He does?"

"He doesn't want me to leave SG-1, but he thinks that a team under my command would be an asset to the SGC."

The major thought about that and nodded.  "He's right.  It would."

Daniel lifted his head and looked at her.  "I don't know what to do, Sam.  I don't want to leave SG-1.  I want to stay with you, Jack and Teal'c.  But if I really could be of better use as the leader of my own team. . . .  One of the things I want more than anything else is to see an end to the Goa'uld.  That's what we've all been fighting for all these years."

"Daniel, I don't want you to leave SG-1 either, but I can't let what I want deny the SGC of something that could really help accomplish our ultimate goal, no more than Colonel O'Neill could."  Sam slid her hand across the table and laid it over Daniel's.  "But if leaving SG-1 is going to make you miserable, don't do it.  You can't be an effective team leader if your heart isn't in it."

Daniel turned his hand upward and wrapped his fingers around Sam's, giving them a squeeze.  "Thanks, Sam."

As he looked into her eyes, Daniel knew that, while he didn't want to leave SG-1 just for the opportunity to lead his own team, there was one thing that would make him accept this offer in an instant.  If it was the only way that he and Sam could be together, he would not hesitate to leave SG-1.  As much as he loved being on the team, he loved her more.  But that was not the case, at least not right now.

Still not knowing what he should do, Daniel went to talk to his third teammate.  Teal'c was not at all surprised by Daniel's announcement.

"It pleases me that the leaders of the Stargate Program recognize your ability to be in command of your own team and the great things that you could do in such a position," he said.

"So, you think that I should accept, too?"

"Though I would miss your presence on SG-1, I believe that the SGC would benefit greatly from having a team commanded by you."  Teal'c gaze grew more penetrating.  "Do you not wish a team of your own?"

"To be honest, no.  I like being where I am, on SG-1.  I like working with the three of you.  If I left to command my own team, I'd miss you guys a lot."

"Would we still not see each other here at the base?"

"Yes, but it wouldn't be nearly as often," Daniel replied.  "We'd likely be on missions at different times, and there wouldn't be as many reasons for us to get together while on duty.  And we wouldn't be working together on missions."

"Is this the only reason for your reluctance to accept command of your own team?"

"No.  I'm just not sure if I want my own team.  Before the rescue mission, when I was first put in command, I was scared, Teal'c.  I was afraid that I didn't have what it takes, that I'd mess up."

"But the success of that mission and the words of praise from the team leaders must have shown you that you can lead successfully."

Daniel shrugged.  "I still have my doubts.  After all, I had an entire army backing me up that time.  But it's more than that.  I'm not an ambitious man, Teal'c.  I never had this burning desire to get to the top of the ladder, to be a big, important person.  If I did, I'd never have done something that I knew might shoot my career down in flames.  Commanding my own team is not a goal I ever had.  It isn't a goal that I ever even considered up until a short while ago.  I never even seriously thought about having my own archeological team.  Now that I've been given this offer, I think about it, and it still isn't something that I would choose to have."

"You do not wish to lead."

"Not on a permanent basis, no.  If another mission ever came up like this last one, when having me in command would be the best thing, then I'd do it.  But to be a team leader on a daily basis?  No, it isn't really something that I want."

"Then it seems to me that your decision is already made."

Daniel sighed.  "I wish that was true.  The thing is that I have to think about what would be best for the SGC, not what would be best for me.  They think that a team commanded by me would be a powerful weapon against the Goa'uld.  I can't say that I have as much confidence that it would make all that much of a difference, but even if it could make some difference, if it could bring us just a little closer to destroying the Goa'uld, how can I let what I want get in the way?  I have always put my own desires second to what was for the . . . the greater good.  I can't stop now."

"Yet, if your heart was not in it, you could never truly be as effective a leader as you have the ability to be."

Daniel smiled slightly.  "Sam said the same thing."

"You have always given your best to SG-1 and the SGC.  Was it merely a matter of honor or because your heart was committed to what you were doing?"

"Before she died, my heart was committed to finding Sha're, and the Stargate Program was the best way to accomplish that.  But, even when she was still alive, I found in the program and in SG-1 something that I enjoyed, something that gave me a sense of purpose.  I would still have left if I'd gotten Sha're back, but I would have missed it.  In the years that passed after her death, I lost a lot of the joy that I found in the program, but it was still something I wanted to do.  Since coming back from ascension, I've regained my . . . enthusiasm for the job.  There isn't another job in the universe that I'd rather have."

"And would that joy and feeling of commitment still be there if you were to leave SG-1 and command your own team?"

"The commitment would be.  I will always be committed to what we're doing.  But, like I said before, I wouldn't be as happy."

Teal'c looked closely at the archeologist.  "Sometimes, Daniel Jackson, a person doing what makes them happy is the best choice for all."

Next Chapter

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