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Samantha Carter smiled softly as she took a sip of her tea, thinking about the day's events.  At eleven that morning Daniel had surprised her by inviting her to join him for lunch off-base.  He'd given a very logical – and quite convincing – argument that they'd both been working long hours lately and could benefit from an hour or two of relaxation to clear their minds and regenerate their energy levels.  With just a wee bit of arm-twisting, he'd talked her into it, and she was glad that he did.  She'd had a wonderful time at lunch even though he surprised her with a few questions that were a bit on the personal side.  She'd forgotten how enjoyable it had always been to spend leisure time with Daniel, just the two of them.  In all the months that had passed since he descended, they hadn't spent any time together off duty, except for team gatherings and events like the big Fourth of July party.  Sam felt bad about that.  For a year she had missed his presence in her life, yet, now that he was back, she rarely saw him outside of work and team get-togethers.

As Sam thought about it, she realized that Daniel had been coming to visit her in her lab quite a bit recently, or at least a lot more often than he had since descending.  Most of the time, it was just a quick hello or an inquiry about what she was working on.  Sam remembered how, years ago, they often got together on projects, putting their heads together to solve some puzzle or problem.  Those occasions happened progressively less often as the years passed.  Recalling those early years made Sam realize how nice it had been to regularly corroborate with Daniel . . . not to mention productive.  They'd always worked so well together on those occasions, their equally brilliant minds merging to solve some riddle or problem.  Maybe it was time for them to start doing it more often again.  That thought made another smile come to Sam's lips.

The major was startled by a knock on her door.  Wondering who would be visiting at this time of night, she went to the door and peeked out the window.  She was surprised to see the object of her thoughts standing on the porch.

"Hi," Daniel greeted once she'd opened the door.

"Hey.  What are you doing here?"

"Um . . . I was wondering if we could talk about something."

Sam stared at the archeologist.  It wasn't hard to tell that he was nervous.  In fact, Sam couldn't recall ever seeing him appear more nervous.  He was actually fidgeting.

"Uh, sure.  Come on in."

Sam stepped aside for Daniel to enter.  She watched him wander about the room, looking at this and that, his hands buried deep in his pockets.

"Daniel, what's wrong?" she finally asked.

The archeologist stopped, paused, then turned to her.  He brushed a hand nervously through his hair.

"I, um . . . don't quite know how to say this, which is pretty pathetic, really.  But I guess it's understandable considering the situation."

Sam frowned in puzzlement.  "What is it that you want to say?"

Daniel drew in a deep breath.  "I wanted to ask if you would . . . go out to dinner with me on Sunday."

Sam's face cleared, and she smiled.  "Sure.  That would be great.  I don't know why you'd be so nervous about asking that, Daniel.  As it so happens, I was just thinking about our lunch today and how we don't spend enough time together off duty anymore."

Daniel shook his head.  "No, Sam.  I don't mean a dinner like our lunch today.  I want . . . I'd like to go out with you."

All at once, Sam realized what Daniel was saying.  He was asking her on a date.

The archeologist turned away and walked over to the mantle, staring at the items upon it.

"Ever since I descended, I've started looking at things differently," he said.  "I still miss Sha're.  I will always miss her, and a part of me will always love her.  But I finally realized that I had to let her go and move on with my life.  I had to let myself live."  Daniel turned to face her.  "When I first saw you on Vis Uban, I . . . felt something.  Afterwards, once I started regaining my memories, it confused me.  I didn't understand how I could have those kinds of feelings.  I've thought about it a lot during these months, and I finally came to the conclusion that, somewhere along the way, you came to be something more to me than just a friend and teammate.  I just never realized it until now."

Sam was in a state of shock.  Never in a million years would she have seen this coming.  Daniel was actually telling her that he had romantic feelings for her.  Holy Hannah!

"I don't know where this might go or even if it can go anywhere at all.  I have no expectations, Sam.  I just know that I had to tell you.  I hope . . ." he took another deep breath, "I hope there's some chance that you're willing to see if we can be more than friends."

For several long seconds, Sam just stood there in stunned silence.  Slowly, the surprise was replaced by another feeling: regret.

"Daniel, I'm . . . I am incredibly flattered.  You are a wonderful guy that any woman would be lucky to have.  You know that I love you.  You're like my family.  Heck, in many ways, I feel closer to you than I do to my own brother."

The word 'brother' sent a jab of pain through Daniel.  He knew what her next words were going to be.

"I'm so sorry, Daniel, but I just don't feel that way about you, and I don't think I ever could.  Going out with you just wouldn't be fair to you.  I wouldn't want to get your hopes up that we could have something more than friendship when I know that we can't."

The pain inside Daniel was steadily growing.  He has fully expected that Sam would tell him that she didn't feel the same things for him, but he had hoped that she would at least be willing to see if anything could grow between them.  During these past couple of weeks he'd been spending more time with her as a way of feeling her out, seeing if she might be open to the idea of going on a date with him.  From the way she'd acted and the answers she gave to his questions at lunch, he had believed that she might be.  He'd been wrong.

Feeling like a real jerk, Sam watched Daniel's gaze drop to the floor.  He was trying to hide his feelings, but she could see the pain on his face.  Dammit!  The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Daniel, yet that's what she'd just done.

"I, um . . . I understand," he said in a low voice.

Sam took a step toward him.  "Daniel, I am so, so sorry.  I wish I could say something different.  But I can't lie to you."

"No.  It's okay.  You're right.  I wouldn't want you to go out with me if there's no chance at all that. . . ."  He let out a soft sigh.  He finally lifted his head, though he still didn't meet her eyes.  A sad little smile flashed briefly.  "I'm . . . feeling pretty foolish right now, so I'm going to go before I make an even bigger fool of myself."

He turned and headed to the door.  Sam was feeling worse by the second, desperately trying to think of something to say.

"Daniel, please don't go.  Please stay, and we'll . . . we'll talk."

The archeologist stopped and turned back to her, finally meeting her eyes.

"What is there to talk about, Sam?  You've made your feelings pretty clear."  His expression softened.  "I really do understand.  You can't make yourself feel things that just aren't there."  Daniel opened the door.  "Good night, Sam.  I'll see you in the morning in the gate room.  Eight o'clock, right?"

Not waiting for an answer, he walked out into the night.  He could feel Sam's eyes upon him as he went to his car and got in.

He was about two blocks away when he pulled over again.  He rested his head on the steering wheel, eyes tightly closed, trying to push through the pain inside.  He hadn't realized until now how very much he had wanted this.  It wasn't until now, after Sam's rejection, that he finally saw the complete truth.  He was in love with her, utterly . . . and hopelessly.

But he was going to be all right.  It would just take a while.  He could be just a friend to Sam.  Their friendship was too important to throw away because she could never love him like he loved her.

Wiping away the single tear that was threatening to fall, Daniel pulled back onto the street and headed for home.

For the dozenth time, Sam looked over at Daniel.  He hadn't looked at her even once, had barely even acknowledged her when he came into the gate room.

Sam hadn't slept a wink last night, riddled with guilt over how she'd hurt him.  If only she could feel the same thing for Daniel that he apparently felt for her.  She hadn't been exaggerating when she said that any woman would be lucky to have him.  He was one of the finest, most compassionate and caring people she'd ever met.  And she wasn't blind to his good looks.  She was very aware of how handsome he was, how half the nurses on base were at least halfway in love with him.  Janet used to laugh about the eagerness some of her staff showed in caring for Daniel whenever he was a guest of the infirmary.

Thoughts of her lost friend brought back Sam's sadness over the doctor's death.  It had been only a few weeks since they lost her.  Sam missed her terribly, missed the times they'd talked woman to woman.  She wondered what Janet would say if Sam told her about Daniel.  Knowing Janet, she'd probably have told Sam that she was an idiot for not going out with the archeologist.

Maybe she was an idiot.  Maybe she was stupid for assuming that she could never come to feel anything besides friendship for Daniel.  Out of all the men who had come into Sam's life, she felt closer to him than any other, including the guys she'd dated.  He saw her for who she truly was on the inside, understood her in ways that most other people never did.

Sam glanced over at her commanding officer.  After the incident on the Prometheus, she had decided that it was way past time to stop acting like a teenager with a crush and get over her feelings for Jack.  Surprisingly, it really hadn't been all that hard once she really set her mind to it.  Sam had to wonder what that meant.  Could it be that her feelings for him were never all that strong in the first place?  Could it be that the only reason she'd clung to them for so long was that it was safer to love him than take a chance on someone else?

Sam thought briefly about Pete Shanahan, the cop her brother had tried to fix her up with.  He was a nice guy, but there had been something missing, though she was never quite able to put her finger on what it was.  Sam had broken it off after three dates, telling the man that it just wasn't going to work out.

That brought her mind back to last night.  Sam didn't want to live the rest of her life alone, and yet when a fantastic, gorgeous guy asks her out on a date, she turns him down without even considering it.  What an idiot.

Just then, the gate activated, putting a halt to Sam's thoughts.  The MALP that had been sent through yesterday to check out the immediate area began broadcasting images, showing that the area was still all clear.  Hammond gave the green light, and the four members of SG-1 strode through the event horizon out onto a narrow, grassy strip of land, dense forest visible in the distance.  On either side of them were the crumbling remains of what looked to have once been fairly sizable cities, twin ancient metropolises with the Stargate as a bridge between them.  The MALP had been sent into the one to the left and had found signs that the technology of the culture had been somewhere around the level of Earth back in the 50's or 60's . . . and that the civilization had suffered some kind of cataclysmic war, most likely the thing that ended it.

"Okay, there is a lot of ground to cover, and I don't want to be here all day," Jack said, "so Daniel, Carter, you go check out that city," he gestured to the left, "and Teal'c and I will go take a look at the other one.  Radio check every hour."

Daniel opened his mouth, glanced at Sam, then closed his mouth with a brief nod.  The astrophysicist suspected that he'd thought about requesting that he be partnered with someone besides her.  That thought hurt – a lot.  Had she irreversibly damaged their friendship with her rejection?

They began to walk.  Daniel studied the buildings and the writing he found in silence, which wasn't like him at all.  He was usually making comments about this or that, musing about the culture and its possible roots in ancient Earth history.  He never looked at Sam, his gaze remaining upon the things around them.  She could almost feel a physical barrier between them.

Dammit!  This was such a horrible mess.  How was she going to fix this?  What could she say to make Daniel feel better?  If their positions had been reversed, what would she want him to say?  Sam thought about that and came to the conclusion that, if she was in Daniel's position, she would be as uncomfortable in his presence as he obviously was in hers.  Perhaps what she needed to do was just give him some space.

As they explored, they found various bits of broken or rusted technology.  Sam examined a few things, but couldn't seem to find the spark of interest that she usually would have.  Then they came across the remains of some kind of vehicle that looked more advanced than previous ones they'd seen.  Sam began to study it in more detail.

"I'm . . . I'm going to go on ahead," Daniel said quietly, the first words he'd spoken since they got to the planet.

The major turned to him.  "We really should stick together, just in case."

"Sam, I. . . ."  Daniel's gaze fell, and he shifted uncomfortably.  "I really need to be . . . alone for a while."

In her mind, Sam substituted "alone" with "away from you", knowing that's what he really meant.  Tears prickled in the astrophysicist's eyes.  She was losing Daniel's friendship.  If things couldn't be fixed between them, she'd also lose him as a teammate.  They couldn't work together effectively if he couldn't even bear to be around her.

Sam thought about putting her foot down and insisting on talking the whole thing out with Daniel right then and there, but they were on a mission.  It wasn't the proper time.  But tonight, a certain archeologist was going to be receiving a visitor.

"All right," she said, hiding how much she was hurting.  "Just don't go too far.  And keep in radio contact."

Daniel nodded shortly, then headed deeper into the ruins.  He felt like a coward.  He was trying so hard to get past what happened last night, to put aside his feelings, but it still hurt too much.  And he was still terribly embarrassed about the fool he'd made of himself in front of Sam.  The last thing he wanted from her was pity, yet he feared that's what she was feeling now.  Poor Daniel, in love with a woman who thought of him like a brother.

Daniel knew that he was being unfair to Sam.  She probably wasn't thinking that at all.  But the fact remained that, right now, he just couldn't feel comfortable in her presence.  He just needed to be away from her.  He was sure that, in time, that feeling would fade, and they could go back to the way things were before his confession to her.  He didn't know how long that would take, but they'd get there.

Now that he wasn't so painfully aware of Sam's presence, Daniel began to relax and really devote all of his attention to the ruins and the writing he came across, the archeologist and linguist inside him coming to the fore.

All thoughts of the people who used to live there came to a sudden halt at the sound of stone hitting stone.  Daniel spun around just in time to see a man appear from behind the remains of one of the buildings and aim a rifle at him.

Sam slowly wandered around the ruins, gradually moving in the direction Daniel had taken.  She knew he needed some space, but they really shouldn't have separated.  There had been no sign that anyone lived here, but that didn't mean that there weren't other dangers about.  They knew nothing about the wildlife on this planet, and there was always the danger of a building collapsing.

Something off to the left caught Sam's attention.  She approached the item and squatted down to examine it.  It was the broken remains of some kind of weapon, a rifle-like device with a very large bore barrel.  Beside the weapon was one of its projectiles.  Sam picked it up and accidentally cut her finger on it.  The thing looked like a cross between a large caliper bullet and two arrowheads mounted at right angles from each other.  It was wickedly sharp and made from some kind of hard metal.  It would do a tremendous amount of damage to any living thing it hit.

Suddenly, the realization struck Sam that the weapon, crafted mostly from wood, could have been lying here for no more than a few years.

No sooner had that thought entered Sam's mind when she was startled by a sound similar to the report of a rifle coming from the direction Daniel had taken.

Sam jumped to her feet and ran forward, P-90 clutched firmly in her grasp.  She could hear more rifle fire, interspersed with the report of Daniel's sidearm.  Not stopping, she grabbed her radio.

"Colonel!  We're under attack!  We need backup!"  She heard Jack say that he and Teal'c were on their way.

Sam rounded one of the larger structures and came upon the sight of Daniel on the ground, his back turned toward her, firing at over a dozen men armed with weapons like the one she'd found.  Three other men lay unmoving on the ground.  The archeologist had taken shelter behind the remnants of a wall, but it was only a place of temporary safety.  The natives were moving to surround him.

Sam opened fire on the attackers.  The greater firepower of her weapon had the men running for cover, several more of their numbers already lying dead on the ground.

The major dove inside the remains of a building as a hail of the 'arrowhead bullets' were fired at her.  She returned fire, taking down a couple more natives.  Among the men, she spotted one whose clothing was far more ornamental than the others.  Guessing that he might be the leader or at least someone of importance, she took careful aim and pulled the trigger.  The man cried out and crumpled dead to the ground.

Apparently, the death of the man enraged the remaining six guys so much that they decided to get stupid . . . or suicidal.  They all rushed her as one.  A single spray from her P-90 brought all of them down.

In the deafening silence that followed, Sam called out, "Daniel, are you all right?"  She received no answer.  "Daniel?"

Getting worried, Sam dashed to his position, her eyes darting about for any signs of other hostile natives.

The archeologist was lying on his side, unmoving.  She took hold of his shoulder and turned him over.

"Oh, God," she gasped.

There was a large wound in Daniel's chest, blood flowing with alarming rapidity from it.  Trying not to panic, Sam unfastened his vest, which had failed to halt the projectile, then ripped away the T-shirt to uncover the wound.  It looked horrendous.  She reached for her first-aid supplies and packed the wound as best as she could, trying to hold pressure on it with one hand as she keyed her radio with the other.

"Colonel, it's Carter.  Daniel's been injured.  We need a medical team here fast."

"What's your situation?" Jack asked.

"I think we're secure for now.  We were attacked by natives.  They've all been taken out, but there could be others in the area."

"How bad is Daniel?"

Sam looked down at the archeologist's ashen face, at the blood that was already soaking through the bandages.

"It's bad, sir.  I don't think he can wait for us to get him to the gate."

There was a brief silence.  "Understood.  I'll send Teal'c to the gate for help.  I'm on my way.  O'Neill out."

Just then, Daniel's eyes fluttered open, slightly glazed and filled with pain.  A portion of her mind finally registered the fact that his glasses were gone.

"Hang on, Daniel," Sam told him, fighting to keep her voice steady.  "Help is on the way.  You're going to be all right."

Daniel's eyes cleared, his gaze fixed upon her.  "Sam," he whispered.

"Yes, it's me, Daniel.  I'm right here.  You've been shot, but you're going to be just fine.  Teal'c's gone to get the medics."

"I'm sorry," he breathed.

"Sorry?  Daniel, you have nothing to be sorry for.  By my count, you were attacked by eighteen men, and all you had was your sidearm.  It's amazing that you managed to hold your own at all."

Daniel's head shook very slightly.  "I'm sorry I came over last night.  I shouldn't have said anything."

"No!  Please don't say you're sorry, Daniel.  I'm . . . I'm glad you told me.  I wouldn't have wanted you to keep it a secret."

Daniel continued as if he hadn't heard her.  "I'm not . . . I'm not mad at you.  It's . . . not your fault that I fell in love with you, but you can't love me back."

Sam gasped sharply upon hearing Daniel's confession that he was in love with her.

"I understand," he said on a soft sigh.  His eyelids began to slide shut.

"No!" Sam cried, shaking his shoulder.  "Don't you give up on me, Daniel.  Please.  You have to get better because . . . because we're going to go on a date when you get out of the infirmary.  I already know what restaurant we'll go to.  I hear it's really nice."  When Daniel didn't reply, Sam's panic returned.  "I shouldn't have said no, Daniel.  I should have said yes.  I was wrong.  I should have given it a chance.  But we can still have that chance."

Daniel's eyes had drifted away from hers and were staring up at the sky.

"It doesn't hurt anymore," he said in a light, whispery voice.  "It's cold.  Is the sun going down?"

A sob caught in Sam's throat, tears coursing down her face.  She grabbed hold of one of his hands.  It felt icy to the touch.

"Daniel, please," she begged.  "Please."

A small, peaceful smile curved Daniel's lips.  "Sha're," he murmured.

And then he died.

"No," Sam sobbed.  "No."

Deep sobs welling out of her, Sam gathered Daniel's limp form into her arms, tears falling like rain on his still face as her heart shattered into a million pieces.

Running as fast as he could, Jack hurried through the ruins to the place that Daniel's and Sam's locators were telling him they were.  So far, he'd seen no sign of the natives that had attacked them, but that didn't mean some weren't around somewhere.

Hurrying around a corner, Jack came to a sudden stop, the sight before him freezing him in his tracks.  Sam sat on the ground, the wetness of tears shining on her face.  In her arms lay Daniel, his unmoving chest covered in blood, sightless eyes turned to the sky.

"God," Jack choked out.

Anguish burning like fire in his chest, he slowly covered the rest of the distance.  Sam seemed to be unaware of his presence.  His gaze on the face of his best friend, Jack knelt beside them.  Knowing it was pointless, he felt for a pulse in Daniel's neck.  His eyes closed upon finding none.  He sank on his haunches as grief filled all the places inside him.

Jack remained unmoving for a long moment as he tried to push away the pain, finding that, this time, he simply couldn't.  At last, with a deep, shaky sigh, he reached out a hand and gently closed Daniel's eyes.

The radio crackled to life.  "O'Neill, the medical team has arrived," said Teal'c.  "We are on our way to your location."

Jack swallowed and pressed the button of his radio.  "Teal'c, it's . . . it's too late.  Daniel . . . Daniel's dead."

The statement was greeted with silence.  Jack turned back to Sam.  Her eyes were fixed upon the face of the man in her arms.

The colonel laid a gentle hand on her shoulder.  "Sam."

"It's my fault," she whispered.  "It's my fault."

Jack studied her.  The military part of him wanted to know what happened, but the friend didn't care.  All that mattered right now was that Daniel was dead, and, this time, he was never coming back.

When Teal'c, SG-5, and the medical team arrived sometime later, Sam was still sitting in the same place, Daniel's head now resting in her lap, as if he was merely sleeping.  Jack was sitting with his back against the wall.  The colonel watched as the Jaffa, his dark faced colored with grief, slowly approached.  There were tears shimmering in his eyes as he knelt and laid a gentle hand on Daniel's head.

"If we had arrived sooner. . . ." he said.

Jack shook his head.  "He was already gone when I got here, Teal'c.  You couldn't have run to the gate fast enough to save him."

Teal'c's eyes went to the bodies of the dead natives, hating them and their people for the death of a man he had come to love like a brother.  It should not be this way.  Daniel Jackson's death was so pointless.  To the Jaffa, it felt wrong on a deep, fundamental level that, after so many years of fighting to win the battle against the Goa'uld, his friend should perish on a mission that would save no lives, accomplish no victories, achieve no mighty goals.

Jack looked down at his dead friend.  "It's . . . it's time to take him home."  He got to his knees and touched his 2IC's arm.  "Sam."

For the first time since he'd arrived, she looked up at him.  The terrible anguish in her eyes speared right through him.

"He's really dead this time," she said.

Jack's throat tightened.  "Yeah."

With Teal'c's help, Jack lifted Daniel up and laid him on the stretcher the medics had brought.

The trip to the gate was the longest, most heartbreaking hour Jack had gone through since the death of his son.  Out of respect, one of the medics had covered Daniel with a blanket.  No one spoke.  There was sorrow on the faces of every member of SG-5.  Daniel hadn't been their teammate, but he had been liked and deeply respected by all of them.  His death was a terrible loss to the SGC.

When the party came through the gate and everyone saw the covered body on the stretcher, utter silence descended upon the gate room and the control room above.  General Hammond felt a fist squeeze his heart like a cruel vice.  There had been so many deaths under his command, but this one, like the loss they'd all suffered just a few weeks ago, was a pain almost too great to bear.

Daniel was taken to the infirmary.  Doctor Brightman blanched slightly upon seeing what lay upon the stretcher.

"Put . . . put him there," she said softly, sadly, pointing to one of the beds.  The stretcher was laid upon it, then the medics and SG-5 left.  The doctor pulled the blanket away, revealing Daniel's face, its skin the color of death.

Her gaze went to the man's teammates.  They were all staring at him.  She didn't know what to say.  Though she was very new to the SGC, it hadn't taken long for her to see the bond that existed between the members of SG-1.  Now, they had lost one of their own.

"I'm sorry," she said, knowing it was terribly inadequate.  She let out a sigh.  "You need to go get your post-mission checkups.  I . . . I promise that I'll take good care of him."

Watching them leave, Doctor Brightman sighed again.  "Damn," she whispered.

The debriefing took place two hours later, Hammond choosing to give the surviving members of SG-1 a little extra time to recover.  Jack and Teal'c gave their report on what they'd found, which was nothing of consequence.  All eyes then turned to Sam.  She hadn't spoken a word since entering the room.

"Major Carter," the general prompted gently.

"It's my fault," Sam said.  "Daniel's dead because of me."

The three men all exchanged a look.

"Tell us what happened, Sam," Hammond said, his voice soft and gentle.

Slowly, haltingly, Sam began  recounting the events that led up to Daniel's death, leaving out the personal things.

"You let Daniel go off by himself?" Jack interrupted when she came to that part.

"We'd seen no signs of anyone having been in the ruins.  I-I didn't know.  I didn't know."  Sam closed her eyes tightly, bowed her head and hid her face behind her hands, fighting with all her might not to cry.

Seeing that she was losing control, General Hammond chose to move on.  "Please continue, Major."

With great difficulty, Sam finished the narrative.  By the time she to got to the point where Daniel died, she could no longer stop the tears.

Hammond sighed softly.  "I cannot tell you how terribly sorry I am.  The loss of Doctor Jackson is one that is far too great to measure.  He was more than just a man under my command.  He was a dear friend, and I have no words to express the sorrow I am feeling."  He studied the three people at the table.  "You are all dismissed.  Go home.  You are all on leave effective this moment.  You can write your reports at home, and I'll have someone pick them up."  His gaze focused on Sam, who was looking at no one.  "Take as much time as you need to write them."

Jack cleared his throat.  "Sir.  The . . . the service."

"I'll make all the arrangements, Jack.  Daniel will be given full military honors as befits the fine and great man that he was.  He may not have been in the military, but he was as much a warrior and soldier in our fight against the Goa'uld as any military man or woman on this base."

General Hammond watched the three people leave the room.  He then went to his office and closed both doors, lowering the blinds to cover the window.  Completely alone, George Hammond slowly sat down, lowered his head into his hands, and let himself grieve.

Daniel's memorial service took place three days later.  So many people were in the gate room that there was barely a space between them.  Everyone there was a member of the SGC – with one exception.  Cassandra Fraiser, her eyes red from the tears she had cried almost nonstop since receiving the call from Jack, was standing at the front of the crowd.  When her mother died, she had not attended the military funeral, too devastated to handle it.  Instead, she had gone to the public service that was held the next day so that all Janet's family and friends outside the program could pay their respects.  There would be no public service for Daniel.  His life had been in the SGC, virtually every tie to friends on the outside having been severed when he went on the first mission and stayed on Abydos.  Only Sarah Gardner, released from the control of Osiris just a few months ago, remained.  She had been invited to the service, but had chosen not to come.

Near the ramp, standing silently between Jack and Teal'c, was Sam.  She wished that her father was there.  She so desperately needed him to lean on, to keep her from falling apart.  But, though a message had been sent to the Tok'ra, they hadn't heard back yet.

Her eyes fell upon the urn that sat upon a stand on the ramp, bathed in the wavering blue light of the open Stargate.  There was a terrible feeling of emptiness inside her, as if someone had taken a knife and cut out her heart, leaving an aching void behind.  When Janet died, it had hurt so much, but this . . . this was a hundred times worse.  It was as if a part of her had died, too, and Sam didn't think that she would ever feel whole again.

The room went silent as General Hammond walked up the ramp, past the urn, and to the lectern that had been placed against the right railing.  He looked around at the sad, somber faces.

"Today, we are here to honor the life of the man who made this place possible.  Daniel Jackson opened the Stargate and, in doing so, expanded our understanding of the universe beyond anything we'd previously dreamed.  We've suffered many losses since then, but we have also achieved things of greatness.  Medicines and technologies that may one day save countless thousands are now ours because of the Stargate, because of Daniel.  He was the heart of the SGC, our soul and our conscience.  When he ascended, we lost that heart for a long year.  Now . . . now, we have lost it again, and I know that each and every one of us here will feel that loss in one way or another."

Hammond's eyes went to Jack.  "I will now let the man who was Daniel's friend and team commander say a few words."

Jack went to the lectern, the general's hand resting for a moment on his shoulder in silent support.  The colonel stared for a long moment at the floor, gathering his thoughts and gaining control of his emotions.  At last, he lifted his head.

"Six years ago, I stood in this room on a similar occasion and talked about Daniel, about what he was to this program.  That time, we were all blessed to get him back.  I wish with all my heart that the same could be true this time."

Jack cleared the tightness from his throat.  "General Hammond has already spoken of Daniel's importance to the program, speaking truths much like the ones I did during that other memorial service.  So, instead, I'm going to talk about Daniel himself.  He was like no other man I have ever met.  He had a morality and compassion for others that, in all these years, never wavered.  So many times, he fought against the military, against the government . . . against me to make sure that the right thing was done.  He never gave in, and he never sacrificed his principles, no matter how many were against him.  I never truly appreciated the strength it took for him to do that.  But I do now, and I can say that Daniel Jackson was a far, far better man than I could ever hope to be.  He was . . . he was my friend, and I was so damn privileged to be his friend."

Jack drew in a slightly unsteady breath.  "The SGC will carry on without Daniel, just as he'd have wanted it to, but it will be far poorer for his passing.  We all will be poorer."

Jack left the ramp and returned to his teammates.  He watched as six airmen and women carried a flag up the ramp, positioning it over the urn, then folded it in the decades-old ceremony.  He stepped forward to receive the flag, his mind going back to that day six years ago when he did the same.  This time, instead of Teal'c, it was Sam he turned the flag over to.  She pressed it against her chest, an expression of desolation in her eyes.  He could not look in those eyes for long.

The colonel turned on his heels and went to the urn.  He was joined by Teal'c.  The colonel and the Jaffa lifted the urn and, as the sound of a horn playing "Taps" filled the gate room, carried it up the ramp.  They removed the lid and carefully tipped the mouth into the event horizon, spilling the ashes into the wormhole, sending the remains of Daniel Jackson on his final journey through the Stargate.

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