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"Mister President, I must protest this!" Kinsey exclaimed into the phone in Hammond's office.  "I don't trust SG-1.  They could be up to anything.  How do we really know that they're being honest about this?  It might just be a ploy to save their own skins."

"Oh, come on, Bob.  Get real.  After all the times they've risked themselves to save this planet, you actually think that they'd turn tail and run now?"  A humorous thought popped into the president's head.  "Hey, here's an idea, Bob.  Since you're so mistrusting of their motives, why don't you go with them, just to make sure they're really going to do what they say they are?"

Kinsey stammered out a word or two before replying, "Mister President, though you know that I'd gladly sacrifice my life for the sake of our country, going with SG-1 would not be a wise use of my abilities.  After all, I'm a politician, not a soldier."

"You got that right," Hayes muttered under his breath.  More loudly, he said, "Since this planet that SG-1 wants to go to may be the only hope Earth has, I'd have to be an idiot not to let them go.  So, just get on a plane and get back here.  It's a safe bet that things are going to start getting hot pretty soon."

Sam came storming into Daniel's office, surprising the rest of SG-1 and Bra'tac.

"You're not going to believe this!" she exclaimed.  "They took it apart!"

"They took what apart?" Jack asked, getting a sinking feeling in his gut.

"The Al'Kesh!  Well, not the whole thing.  They were studying some of the systems, and the only way to do it properly was to disassemble them."

"And how long is it going to take for them to put it all back together?"

"A good sixteen to eighteen hours, if not longer."

Jack turned to Teal'c.  "T, when we get to Area 51, remind me to kill someone."

"We can't afford to lose that much time," Daniel said.

"I bet you could speed them up, Carter," Jack stated.  "Okay, here's what we'll do.  We'll load all that stuff Daniel gathered on a truck and take it with us to Peterson.  Then we'll take a cargo plane to Nevada.  That way, when they do get the Al'Kesh put back together, all we'll have to do is load the equipment onto it, and we can leave straight from there."

"I will go with you," Bra'tac said.  "If you are truly going to the Lost City of the Ancients, I wish to see it."

"Sure, why not?  The more, the merrier."

A while later, SG-1 and Bra'tac were on a military plane to Nevada.  The Jaffa Master was not impressed by the aircraft and complained about its primitiveness.

When they landed on the airstrip at Area 51, a car was waiting for them, as well as a truck for the equipment.  SG-1 and Bra'tac were taken to the main facility and greeted by Colonel Raines, the man presently in charge.

"Okay, so who's the idiot that decided to take the Al'Kesh apart?" Jack asked.

"Well, if we'd known that the fate of the planet was going to depend on the thing, we wouldn't have done so," Raines snapped.

Jack prepared to say something even more cutting, but Sam jumped in.  "How far have they gotten on putting everything back together, sir?" she asked Raines.

"They've made good strides, but it's still going to be a while."

"Maybe I can help."

Raines nodded.  "It's in Hanger 3.  I'm sure you know where that is."

Sam hurried off to give the other scientists a hand.  Jack glanced at Daniel and saw that he looked even paler than before.

"Is there someplace we can rest and wait for them to get finished?" Jack asked Raines.

"Of course.  We have a VIP lounge."

As soon as they reached the lounge, Daniel collapsed onto the couch.  He closed his eyes and laid his head against the backrest.  He didn't have to be psychic to know that the other three occupants of the room were watching him with deep concern.

"Do you need another pain pill?" Jack asked.

"It's not time yet, not for another few hours."

"Then maybe you should lie down, get some sleep."

"I don't think I could sleep."

"Didn't the doc give you some sleeping pills?"

"Yeah, but I don't want to take one until after we're on our way.  They'll probably completely knock me out."

"And what's wrong with that?  We're going to be waiting a while, and there sure isn't anything important that you need to do in the meantime."

"Maybe later.  I can try to get some sleep without them."

Daniel laid down on the couch and closed his eyes, but his belief that he wouldn't be able to sleep proved true as the minutes ticked by.  He kept trying, though, just so that Jack wouldn't bug him.

They were served lunch by an airman, but the archeologist had little appetite.  By the time he was due for his next pain pill, he was more than ready for it.  It didn't succeed in completely getting rid of his headache, but it helped some.

As the hours passed, Jack became increasingly worried about Daniel.  The archeologist was barely speaking, and the few times that he did, half the words were spoken in Ancient.  Every now and then, there was this frightening look in his eyes, as if his mind was no longer with them.  Every time that happened, Jack was afraid that Daniel wouldn't come back to them.

It was late afternoon when Jack finally put his foot down and ordered Daniel to take one of the sleeping pills.

"If I take one now, I'd probably still be asleep when it's time to go," the younger man objected.

"So?  If you are, Teal'c here can always carry you, if he has to."

Daniel gave him a sour look, then sighed and nodded.  He really did need to get some sleep, and his head was killing him, even with the medication.

Jack did not fail to notice the tremor in Daniel's hands as he swallowed the pill with some water.  It took only about half an hour for the drug to knock the archeologist out.  He was still out when, several hours later, Sam came in, announcing that the Al'Kesh was ready to go and that the equipment and supplies were being loaded.  She looked over at the couch and smiled slightly.

"I'm glad to see that he's getting some sleep.  I hate to wake him."

"Well, we wouldn't have to," Jack responded.  "I did mention something about Teal'c carrying him."

Knowing that Daniel wouldn't appreciate being carried around like a sleeping child, Sam went over to him.  She knelt by the couch and touched her friend's arm.  "Daniel?  Daniel, it's time to get up."  There was no reply.  Sam shook his arm.  "Come on, Daniel.  Wake up.  It's time to go."

The archeologist stirred, his eye remaining closed.  A little smile curved his lips.  "Mmm.  Can't we sleep in, Sam?"  His smile changed to one that could not be mistaken as anything but sultry.  "After all," he said in a low, sexy voice, "you and I didn't get much sleep last night."

Sam promptly turned crimson, realizing that Daniel was still asleep and was dreaming of them being together.  She glanced up at the others.  The grin on Jack's face made her turn even redder, and that eyebrow of Teal'c's wasn't helping either.  Bra'tac's face was unreadable, but the twinkle in his eyes was not.

Sam looked back down at Daniel.  "Daniel!  Wake up!" she shouted.

The linguist started violently, his eyes blinking open.  "Wha . . . what?"  He looked at everyone.  "What's going on?"

"Time to go, lover boy," Jack replied, still grinning.

Daniel's eyebrows knit in confusion over Jack's form of address.  "Huh?"

"Come on, Daniel," Sam said, not meeting his eyes.  "The Al'Kesh is ready."

"Oh.  Okay."

With a little help from Sam, Daniel got to his feet, swaying slightly as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.  "I hate sleeping pills," he mumbled.

"Yeah, well, they did the trick, which is all that matters," Jack responded.  "You needed the sleep, Daniel.  Once we get going, you can lay back down.  I'll even let you have Osiris' bedroom with that big, cushy bed, that is if they didn't take it out."  Jack's smile returned.  "Maybe Carter would like to join you."

"Sir!" Sam exclaimed, blushing again.

Daniel blinked several times, perplexed.  "Did I miss something?"

Face flaming, Sam replied.  "Nothing.  You didn't miss anything.  Come on."

Sam helped guide Daniel to the Al'Kesh.  The sleeping pill still had him partially in its grip, so he wasn't quite all there.  As soon as they got onboard, Sam insisted that he lay back down.  Fortunately, the bed in Osiris' chambers had not be taken out yet.  Tired from not enough sleep, Sam was wishing that she really could join him in that big bed.

Once Daniel had fallen back asleep, the astrophysicist joined the others in the cockpit.

Jack turned to her.  "Is Sleeping Beauty all tucked in?"

"Yes, sir.  It didn't take long for him to fall back asleep.  Those must have been really heavy-duty sleeping pills that Janet gave him."  Sam looked out the window and saw that they had already left Earth's orbit and would soon be entering hyperspace.  Even as she had that thought, they made the jump.

"So, how long is it going to take us to get there?" Jack asked.

"I'm not sure, sir.  I have some ideas for boosting the power of the engines, but I honestly can't say how much time it's going to gain us.  I'm afraid, though, that, no matter what I do, we're not going to get there and back before Anubis reaches Earth."

"Well, then I guess we'd better pray that there's something left of Earth by the time we get back."

"Colonel, there is one thing that I didn't tell you before.  The Asgard transporter is off-line.  It was going to take another five or six hours to get it back together, and I decided that we couldn't afford to lose the time."

"Okay, so what do we do about that?"

"I don't have time to deal with it right now.  I have to work on the engines.  Once I'm finished, I can turn my attention to the transporter, although, working alone, it'll take at least half a day for me to finish it.  It's an incredibly complex piece of technology.  We might just have to rely on the rings.  I sure hope there a platform where we're going."

Sam got busy on the engines immediately, Bra'tac lending her his knowledge and expertise.  They'd been at it for several hours when Jack ordered Sam to take a break and eat something.

Munching on a sandwich, Sam went in to check on Daniel.  She sat on the bed and watched him sleep, reaching out to brush a hand through his hair.

"I love you, Daniel," she murmured.  "I'm so sorry that I was too blind and stupid to see it before.  I was so afraid that I'd lose you.  And now—"  Sam's voice choked off.  "Don't you die on me, Daniel.  Please."

Needing to be near him, Sam took her shoes off and lay down on the bed, her forehead almost touching his.  She took hold of his lax hand in both of hers.  For several minutes, she lay there, just looking at his sleeping face.  Slowly, her eyes drooped shut, and she drifted into dreamless sleep.

Sam awoke slowly.  Her eyes opened to the sight of a pair of intensely blue orbs gazing into hers from mere inches away.

"Daniel!" Sam exclaimed softly, sitting up.  That's when she realized that someone had covered her with a blanket.  She really hoped it hadn't been the colonel.  That would be just too embarrassing.

"I'm sorry.  I guess I dozed off," Sam said, feeling a little flustered.  "I didn't get much sleep, and—"

"Sam, why are you apologizing?" Daniel interrupted with a smile.  "It was a really nice surprise waking up with you beside me."

The major blushed slightly.

Daniel's smile turned teasing and just a bit suggestive.  "Although I have to admit that, in the dreams I've had of us waking up in the same bed, we were wearing a lot less clothing."

That comment brought more heat to Sam's face, but it wasn't out of embarrassment or shyness.  "They sound like very interesting dreams," she murmured.

Daniel's eyes darkened, his voice lowering an octave.  "Oh, yeah.  You could say that."

Before Sam could respond, either with words or actions, there was a light knock on the door.

"Come on in, Jack," Daniel called.

The door opened and Jack looked in hesitantly.  "Ah, so you're both awake, huh."  He grinned.  "Have a nice nap, Carter?"

Sam's blush returned.  "Yes, sir."  She looked at her watch and saw that she'd been asleep for nearly five hours.  "Crap!"  She leapt out of the bed.  "Sir, you shouldn't have let me sleep this long.  I have to keep working on the engines."

"Carter, you can't work well if you're exhausted.  You needed the sleep."

Sam knew that he was right, but hated the thought of having lost five hours.  "I need to get back to work on them."

As Sam hurried out of the room, Daniel sat up.  Jack's eyes turned to him.  "How are you feeling?"

"Better.  The headache's not nearly as bad.  I guess I needed the sleep, too."

"Yes, you did."

Daniel pulled the covers aside and swung his feet over the side of the bed.

"Don't you think you should get more rest?" Jack asked uncertainly.

Daniel looked at his watch, stunned at what it said.  "Uh, no, I think I've slept plenty enough for now, Jack.  I feel fine.  Actually, I think I could manage to eat something now."

Daniel got up and made himself a sandwich.  Jack did as well, and the two of them had their meal together.  Their conversation steered clear of anything to do with what was happening to Daniel, something for which the archeologist was grateful.  He knew that Jack was still determined to believe that, one way or another, everything was going to turn out all right, which meant that Daniel couldn't talk to him about things that needed to be discussed.

Once Daniel was finished eating, he joined Teal'c in the cockpit.

"You appear well rested, Daniel Jackson," the Jaffa said.

"Well, I should, considering how long I slept."

"Then you are feeling better?"

"Yes, although I know it's only temporary."  Daniel looked over his shoulder and saw that, for the moment, they were alone, Jack having gone to check in on Sam and Bra'tac.  His gaze turned to the Jaffa.  "Teal'c, we haven't really talked since things started going downhill with my . . . condition.  There are some things I need to talk about.  I can't talk about them with Sam.  It upsets her too much.  And Jack, well, he's still convinced that everything is going to be all right.  He wouldn't want to listen to me."

"Of what do you need to speak?"

"If . . . I don't make it, and if it's at all possible, I want to be buried in Egypt, in Abydos, to be exact.  I know that the Abydos here on Earth isn't much like Sha're's home, but it's as close as I could get."  Daniel smiled a little.  "I was even there once, many years ago while I was on a dig."  The smile vanished.  "Those were good times, like that year I spent with Sha're and her people."  A faint shadow of the smile returned.  "If the Egyptian government won't go for it, maybe you can sneak my ashes over there and scatter them on the Great Pyramid or something.  Actually, that would be rather appropriate considering that it was my theories on the Great Pyramid that ended up getting me into the Stargate Program."

Teal'c met his gaze.  "I promise you, Daniel Jackson, that, if you should die, your remains will come to rest in Egypt."

Daniel looked into the Jaffa's eyes, seeing pain and sorrow there.  He nodded.  "Thank you."  He paused for a long moment.  "Teal'c, don't . . . don't let Jack keep blaming himself for this.  I know that he's going to.  He feels like it should have been him.  I made a mistake in telling him that it would have been him if I hadn't pushed him aside, although, even if I hadn't told him, Jack would still blame himself for not stopping it."

"O'Neill is a great and caring leader.  He believes that it is better for him to be the one to suffer or die rather than the people he commands."


"He also loves you as a brother."

Daniel simply nodded, his gaze dropping.

Teal'c's voice grew very soft.  "As do I."

Daniel looked up into Teal'c's eyes and was surprised to see the tiniest glimmer of tears there.  "Teal'c. . . ." he began, his voice failing before he could say anything else.

"I do not know if you remember what I said to you when you lay dying from the radiation poisoning, so I will say it again.  You have been one of the greatest friends I have ever had.  I did not think that such a thing would be possible, not when I was responsible for so much of the pain in your life, but I am grateful that it is so.  You have taught me much in these years that we have been together.  You showed me the true meaning of mercy and forgiveness.  I know that I was not strong enough to give forgiveness to my enemies in the way that you could, but, before I met you, forgiveness for an enemy was not something I could have given at all."

Daniel's gaze had fallen to his lap again.  He didn't know what to say.

"I will be forever in your debt, Daniel Jackson, for your friendship, for your trust and faith in me, for the things you have taught me, and for my life and the lives of my son and Master Bra'tac."

Daniel shook his head.  "For your life?  Teal'c you've saved my life a lot more times than I did yours."

"This is not true, Daniel Jackson.  It was because of your impassioned pleas in my defense at the Cor-ai on Cartago that the Byrsa began to accept that I was not the same man I used to be."

"Teal'c, what I said didn't do any good.  They were still going to execute you even after everything I told them."

"Yet, would Hanno's eyes have been truly opened at the end if he had not heard your words first?  I think not.  Even if this were not the case, yet again you saved my life when, despite your physical condition and all the opposition you faced, you fought to convince Doctor MacKenzie and Doctor Fraiser that I had been infected with that device of Machello's.  If your determination had wavered, I would now be dead, just as I would be dead if you had not endured the interrogation and torture of the Bedrosians when they attempted to find out about me from you.  And if it had not been for your success in getting the DHD from the Russians when my pattern was trapped within the buffer of the Stargate, I would have surely died."  Teal'c's gaze deepened.  "And I will never forget that you sacrificed your greatest hope to free Sha're from Amaunet when you destroyed Thor's Hammer."

Daniel closed his eyes and turned away.  "If I hadn't done it, Jack or Sam would have."

"Yes, but you did do it, though you could have asked that another do it instead."

Daniel's gaze went to the view out the window.

"There is something else that you wish to say," Teal'c guessed, not phrasing it as a question.

A little sigh escaped Daniel's lips.  "For a very long time, I had a lot of regrets about my life, about Sha're, about the things I failed to accomplish.  It wasn't until I remembered how truly powerless I was to help while I was ascended that I realized I did accomplish something in my life, that I did make a difference.  Ever since I took the download from the repository, I've had time to think about everything.  I still have regrets, a lot of them, actually, but I'm . . . content with what I've done with my life, with what I've managed to achieve."  He turned to Teal'c.  "I want you and everyone else to know that, if this really is it for me, it's enough," he paused, his eyes drifting off to where Sam was as he thought about what they could have shared, "even if I do wish that I'd had . . . something more."

Hearing the tinge of sad regret in his voice, Teal'c knew what Daniel was referring to with his last statement, and it was a wish that he, too, had for his friend.

The hours dragged by as the Al'Kesh continued to make its way toward their destination.  The problem was that it was making it too slowly.  They were over twelve hours into the journey when a frustrated Sam plopped down into one of the folding chairs that they'd brought.

"No luck?" Jack asked.

"Not much, sir.  We've managed to increase the power some, maybe enough to shave half a day or so off, but it's not enough."

"Um, couldn't you use the Naquadah generator?" Daniel inquired.  "I remember reading the file about what happened when you first met Warrick.  You boosted the power of his engines with a Naquadah generator.  And didn't you do it again to help him in that race?"

Sam's expression turned thoughtful.  "To be honest, I didn't think about that."  She shook her head.  "It probably wouldn't work, though.  The Sebrus used liquid nitrogen to fuel an ion-propulsion system.  The Al'Kesh engines are completely different."

"Hey, it's worth a try, isn't it?" Jack said.  "Well, as long as you don't blow us up in the process."

Sam nodded, her frustration being replaced with hope.  "Yes, it is."  She made a move to get up, but Jack stopped her.

"Ah!  You've been at it nonstop for hours, Carter.  Just sit and rest for a while, eat something."

Sam was about to object, but changed her mind.  Actually, she could use something to eat.

Sam, Daniel and Jack shared an early lunch.  They were nearly finished when Daniel spoke a word in Ancient.  The light conversation came to an abrupt halt.

"Well, we all knew it was going to start again sooner or later," the archeologist said quietly.

Sam got to her feet, a faint look of distress on her face.  "I need to get back to the engines."

Jack watched her quickly leave.  "You should have let me be the one, Daniel," he murmured after a moment.  Then he, too, walked away.

Sam worked on the engines for the rest of the day, only stopping when Jack ordered her to get some sleep.  The colonel wanted Daniel to take another sleeping pill, but, this time, no amount of harassing would budge the archeologist.  Something was nagging at him, a feeling that he should be doing something, but he had no idea what it was.  He kept hoping that it would come to him.

Anubis would reach Earth day after tomorrow, and if they failed to stop him, the planet would be doomed.  What if they got all the way to Praclarush Taonas only to discover that the Lost City was gone, destroyed thousands of years ago?  What if they got there and it turned out that the Lost City had never even been there at all?

Trying not to think about those possibilities, Daniel attempted to get a little sleep.  He managed to get a few minutes here and there, though the gradually increasing headache and the return of his other symptoms made it progressively harder as the night wore on.  He was the first to wake up and was making some coffee when Sam appeared.

"Hey.  Get some sleep?" he asked her.

"Yeah, some.  What about you?"

"A little bit."  Daniel glanced about.  Not seeing the box of pastries they'd brought, he asked about them, stopping abruptly when he realized that he'd spoken several of the words in Ancient.

"I think Teal'c and Bra'tac finished them up last night," Sam told him, trying not to get too upset about the words spoken in Ancient.

Despite what had just happened, Daniel had to laugh at the announcement.  "Bra'tac?"

"Uh huh.  It appears that he's got quite a sweet tooth.  Who would have guessed?"

"Good morning, campers," Jack greeted, coming out of the room they had set up as the sleeping quarters.  "What's for breakfast?"

"Not pastries," Daniel answered.  "Our two Jaffa ate them all."

"I knew we should have brought more!"

"Sir, you took the entire tray from the commissary," Sam reminded her C.O., "not to mention the one you snatched out of Siler's hand as he was bringing it up to his mouth."

"Yeah, well, he wasn't going on a several thousand light-year long trip."

"Well, there's always powdered eggs, Colonel," Sam suggested.

"And freeze-dried bacon," Daniel added.

Jack's expression told the two scientists what he thought about that idea.

The three of them managed to find something to eat for breakfast.  They were joined by Teal'c, whom Jack gave a bad time about eating all the pastries, making comments about the Jaffa getting fat if he kept scarfing down the sweets like that.  Teal'c pretty much ignored him.

After breakfast, Sam got back to work on the engines.  By early afternoon, she'd had only a little luck.  Although she was certain that there had to be a way to do it, she was having difficulty marrying the Naquadah generator to the Al'Kesh engines.  Of course, it would have been easier if the engines weren't running, but they certainly couldn't stop.  Every minute counted.  Anubis would reach Earth tomorrow.

Daniel was starting to get bad again.  It seemed to be progressing even faster this time.  More than half of what he said was in Ancient, and he was spacing off a lot. Jack had convinced him to take another sleeping pill, but the drug appeared to be losing its effectiveness.  He'd awakened after only three hours and never got back to sleep.  Worse than that, it didn't seem to help any.

Later that afternoon, Sam finally succeeded in hooking the generator up to the engines and keeping them running smoothly.  There was a substantial increase in the speed of the craft, though not as much as she was hoping they'd get.  Maybe with a bit of fine-tuning, she could get even more velocity.  She devoted a couple more hours to it, and got a fraction more speed.  She was determined to get even more.

Deciding to take a break first and get some dinner, Sam left the engine room.  Bra'tac was in the pilot's seat, Teal'c and Jack busy fixing dinner.  Daniel was standing between the two seats in the cockpit, staring out the window.  Sam walked up to him.  What she saw frightened her.  Daniel's face was empty of all expression, his gaze seemingly focused inward upon some deep and unknowable thing within his mind.

"Daniel?" Sam inquired softly.  There was no response, the archeologist's eyes remaining distant and unmoving.

"He has been thus for quite some time now," Bra'tac told her.  "His mind appears to no longer be with us, as if he is looking at something that he alone can see."

Sam felt her chest tighten as the horrifying realization came to her that Daniel wasn't going to make it.  He'd never survive the days they still had left to travel.  He would be dead long before they reached Praclarush Taonas.  No!  She couldn't accept that!

Sam turned Daniel toward her.  "Daniel?  You can't leave us.  We still need you."  When there was no reply and the archeologist's eyes remained vacant, Sam tightened her grip on his shoulders and shook him a little.  "Daniel, please.  You have to hang on."

Daniel's eyes blinked very slowly.  When the lids opened, there was awareness in the blue depths.


"Hey.  You okay?"

"Um . . . eeti. . . ."  Daniel stopped himself before completing the Ancient word, giving a little sigh.  "Did I zone out again?"

"Yes, and you really had me worried.  How are you doing?"

"Tua . . . you want the truth?"

Sam nodded.

"Not so euge."  Daniel closed his eyes upon realizing that he'd yet again spoken Ancient.  He tried to tell Sam that he didn't think that he'd be able to speak English for much longer, but, ironically, almost half his words were in Ancient.  Looking at Sam's expression, he could tell that she was extremely worried.

Trying not to show how scared she was, Sam said, "Come on.  Let's get some dinner."

Daniel left with Sam, knowing that the odds were not good that he'd manage to make it to their destination alive.

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