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Fanfiction: Then and Now Part I

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Evolution
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Mild Sam/Jack UST.  Past mention of Sara/Jack, Daniel/Sarah Gardner, Teal'c/Drey'auc, Teal'c/Ishta.   
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Then and Now

Then

The sound of the front door banging signalled Sara was home. Jack O'Neill flicked his cigarette sending the ash to the stained wooden deck. He sucked in another lungful of tobacco and blew it out in a long stream before stubbing the butt out on the railing and tossing it into a nearby plant pot. Sara had been on at him to quit again and he didn't want the argument if she caught him smoking; he figured there was going to be enough of one when she heard his new orders.

Somewhere in the dark a car door slammed and there was a yell of masculine anger. Jack tried to ignore it; base housing didn't leave a great deal of privacy. The thought prompted him to head back inside himself. He closed the back door and locked it.

'Jack?' Sara leaned a shoulder on the doorjamb and folded her arms over the smart blouse she wore. 'I wasn't expecting you back tonight.'

Jack shrugged. 'Wasn't a reason to stay.' The hearing was a formality; Jack hadn't seen a reason to hang around once he'd given his testimony. It wasn't as if Burke had given him a reason.

Sara crossed the room, placed her hands against his rough cheeks and kissed him. She pulled back and gave a chiding look that told him she'd tasted the cigarette. He kissed her again and folded her into him; nuzzling the back of her neck and breathing in the scent of her shampoo and soap as his hand nestled in her short blonde curls.

'Where's Charlie?' Jack asked. He'd missed his son. He hardly spent time with him as it was without missing another evening.

Sara hugged him and moved out of his embrace. 'Still at Sheila's. I had to stay late for a parent-teacher thing. I was just going to change before I picked him up.'

Jack nodded. Sara taught high school English. He loved that she was smart and sassy. Her job was going to be one of the reasons why she wouldn't be happy about the new orders.

'Hilary called.' Sara commented as she reached into the refrigerator and pulled out a soda. 'She says Andy's been offered an honourable discharge.'

Jack sighed and rubbed a hand furiously through his hair. Honourable discharge. He'd known Burke would be out especially after Jack's testimony when he'd effectively put it on record that he knew nothing. But the confirmation Burke was out…hell.

Anger stirred in his belly again. What had Burke been thinking? What had Woods? They were supposed to have been watching his back not screwing around shooting at each other. The hell of it was Burke's story didn't add up but him shooting Woods on purpose made even less sense to Jack than the two of them both moving out of position when he was counting on them. Burke wouldn't tell him anything either which left Jack not knowing what to think. God damn it they were a team! Or rather they had been a team. The best, Jack had thought. But he'd been wrong.

'Cindy won't talk to them.' Sara continued, taking the top off the bottle and taking a long gulp of cold liquid.

'This surprises you?' Jack asked caustically. Burke had killed Cindy's husband. Cindy had a right to be mad. He could feel his fingers twitching; looking for another cigarette.

Sara pinned him with a look. 'What the hell happened out there, Jack?'

He turned away from her. 'You know I can't talk about it.'

Sara sighed heavily. 'Jack, they're our friends. I do aerobics with Hilary and I carpool with Cindy, for crying out loud. We have weekly barbeques when you guys are home at the weekends and…'

'Not anymore.' Jack cut her off.

There was a deathly silence and Jack fiddled with the ornament on the dresser; some statuette of the Eiffel tower that Sara's Mom had picked up on a trip to Europe.

'Not anymore.' Sara repeated. He heard the thud of her soda bottle hitting the kitchen bench.

'I've got new orders.' Jack replied briskly, because hey, if she was going to be pissed at him, she might as well be all the way pissed. He picked up the envelope he'd tossed on the table and handed it over to her.

He looked out of the window into the back yard; aware of the crinkle of paper that gave away Sara was reading.

'NATO headquarters?' Sara asked incredulously.

'I deploy next week.' Jack informed her evenly. He glanced over his shoulder and saw her setting aside the envelope, a strange expression on her face. 'What?'

'I've been meaning to talk to you but with everything,' Sara's hand gestured vaguely in the air beside her. She shifted, shuffling her feet and fidgeting. 'My Dad called last night.'

'How is he?' Jack liked Sara's Dad. The old guy was firm and fair; liked fishing which gave them some common ground beyond loving Sara.

'He's worried about my Mom.' Sara said plaintively.

Jack was across the room again, hugging her before he had even thought about it. 'Hey, hey.' His lips brushed her forehead. 'Is Martha OK?'

'Yes,' Sara leaned into him, her own arms tightening around him, 'just tired, you know? It's only been a few months since she had the heart surgery and I think my Dad's struggling.'

She kissed Jack's cheek and leaned back against the kitchen bench. He kept hold of her while she worked out what she wanted to say.

Sara met his eyes, her own determined. 'I want to go home.'

To Colorado Springs where Sara had been born and raised; where Jack had met her as a brash Air Force cadet.

Jack sighed. 'Sara, I have…'

'Orders, I know.' She placed a hand on his chest. 'You have to go to Europe and I get that, I do. I knew when…I knew you'd be reassigned but…'

'You don't want to come with me.' Jack felt hurt; he couldn't help it.

Sara took hold of his face and kissed him fiercely. 'I'm always going to want to be with you, Jack. Just…I want a permanent home too.' She placed a hand on Jack's chest, her fingers pressing his dog tags into his skin. 'And then there's my Mom, and Charlie. He's ready for kindergarten. I don't want to drag him all over the world.'

Jack moved back an inch and kneaded the tight muscles at the back of his neck. 'I'd hardly see you.' Or Charlie, his mind supplied sadly.

'Petersen's on the door step so you can come back easily enough when you get leave.' Sara pointed out. 'And we can fly out for visits.' Her blue eyes pleaded with him.

And yeah; that was the kicker – because when had he ever been able to resist Sara when she really wanted something? He sighed again. 'You think we can make it work?'

Sara smiled brightly; the knowledge that she'd won shining from her eyes. 'We're the best. We can make anything work.' And when she kissed him, he believed her.

'OK.' Jack said. He kissed her again lightly and pulled away from her. 'I'll go get Charlie.' He walked out before she could argue.

Jack got in his truck and rested his head back momentarily on the seat cushion, taking a few minutes to brood about the change he'd just agreed to. He was going to miss having Sara and Charlie to come home to even if it was crappy housing on an Air Force base. But Sara deserved better and so did Charlie. Even Jack could admit he was hardly ever around and, if the shoe was on the other foot, he wasn't certain he'd be happy waiting alone on some base in the middle of some foreign country for Sara to come home. He leaned forward and gunned the engine.

Damn Burke and his 'friendly fire.' Why the hell had Burke shot Woods anyway?

o-O-o

Now

Jack sneaked another look at Samantha Carter as they walked down the corridor. He let himself breathe a small inward sigh of relief. Waiting for her and Teal'c to get back from their mission to Tartarus had been torture. Not for the first time, he thought he might owe his ex-wife an apology. He really didn't know how military spouses did the waiting thing, and the not-knowing thing. He, at least, knew where Carter and Teal'c were and what they were doing while he'd been waiting, although now that Jack thought about it, maybe that hadn't been a plus. He remembered a number of scenarios that had gone through his head while he'd been tromping through the jungle trying to find Daniel Jackson.

But Carter had come through and brought her team home. And what a team, Jack thought wryly. As much as he liked Bra'tac and Jacob Carter, he much preferred missions without their all-knowing eyes watching his every move. In some respects he owed Burke for insisting on his presence in the jungle although Jack knew he had always been going to volunteer for the job. He understood that Hammond hadn't sent a military escort with Daniel and Bill Lee originally believing it was best to keep the search under the radar but he couldn't help thinking if there had been someone military with them, they might have avoided getting captured in the first place.

He leaned forward to push the call button for the elevator and frowned. Carter was nursing her arm in a way that hinted she was in pain, not that Carter would ever admit that she was in pain.

'You know we should probably get you to the infirmary before we do lunch.' Jack commented, wagging a finger at her arm and trying to hide his disappointment that their lunch date was delayed. Not a date, Jack reminded himself briskly.

Just lunch.

With a team-mate.

A friend.

Who he was head over heels in love with.

Sam grimaced but nodded. Oh, that was bad, Jack mused. She must really be in pain for her not to offer a token protest.

'How'd it happen anyway?' Jack asked, stuffing his hands into his pants pockets and rocking back on his heels.

'One of the super soldiers got into the cargo ship when we were making our getaway; knocked me and Teal'c on our collective asses.' She softened the harsh words with a sheepish smile.

Jack felt his gut turnover. Damn it. He should have been there. Of course, he couldn't have gone after Daniel and gone on the mission with the rest of SG1 unless he could suddenly be in two places at the same time – and he was so not thinking about being cloned because the clone thing had never worked out well.

'My Dad and Bra'tac trapped it in the rings and transported it outside.' Sam continued, smiling for real.

'Go Dad and Bra'tac.' Jack quipped. OK, so Dad and Bra'tac had their uses. They did have a way of turning up in the nick of time to save them. 'Dad going to heal that?' He pointed at her arm again and wondered absently where the hell the elevator was.

'Probably.' Sam shrugged and winced when it pulled on her shoulder. 'He didn't have the healing device with him.'

'Maybe he can do Daniel's leg at the same time.' Jack murmured.

'How'd that happen?' Sam asked with a smile that told him she was intentionally repeating his words back at him.

Jack clamped down on the urge to grin. 'He got shot.' He drawled instead.

Sam did the thing where she ducked her head to hide her smile.

'He managed to get himself and Bill Lee out of the shack they were being held in and was running away from the rebels.' Jack explained, giving her the details she wanted. 'He was fighting them off with rocks when Burke and I showed up.' He didn't try to hide his pride in that. Doctor Daniel Jackson had almost managed to rescue himself.

'Burke?' Sam asked, a line appearing between her brows as she clearly tried to place the name. 'Wasn't there a Burke on your…' she stopped abruptly, flushing pink.

'On one of my past teams which you know nothing about?' Jack completed, not bothering to hide his amusement when she rolled her eyes at him.

The elevator finally arrived and he waved her in, following after and pressing the button for the infirmary floor.

'Same guy?' Sam asked.

'Yep.' Jack said succinctly. He waited for the inevitable question but it didn't come and Jack sneaked another look at her. She wasn't going to ask him what had gone down between him and Burke, he realised. Maybe she already knew some of it – her hacking skills were second to none. Or maybe she just knew him well enough to know he didn't like talking about stuff. Possibly a combination of the two.

'It was good. Seeing him again.' Jack offered.

She looked over at him quizzically.

'He saved our asses which you know is always good.' Jack continued, faintly embarrassed at his unusual need to share. He should shut up now, he thought desperately.

Sam smiled at him as though she knew exactly what he was thinking. She probably did.

The elevator opened its doors and Jack ushered Sam out speedily, following her into the usual infirmary ward where they received their after-mission checks.

Janet Fraiser stood in front of Bra'tac glanced up from writing a notation on a clipboard and over towards the door. 'There you are, Major. I was beginning to wonder if you'd forgotten your post mission check.'

Sam's cheeks flared pink again and Jack resisted the urge to throw her an apologetic look since it was his invitation to lunch that had distracted her. He stepped in, waving a hand to draw everyone's attention to him.

'Elevator was slow.' He explained.

Janet directed Sam to a free infirmary bed and tsked under her breath at the sling. 'Nurse, we're going to need this x-rayed.'

'Can't Dad fix it?' Jack said loudly, staring in Jacob's direction. He gestured to where Daniel sat on a chair by Teal'c's bed. 'And Daniel too?'

Jacob's eyebrows rose.

'Don't mind me,' Janet said dryly, 'you know we might want to try conventional medicine first.'

Daniel quickly turned his laugh into a cough as Jack shot him a look.

'No offence intended, Doc,' Jack hastened out, 'but Dad's healing device means they can be back on full duty in days rather than weeks, right?'

'The Colonel's right.' Sam agreed.

'Thank you!' Jack said gratefully.

Jacob sighed. 'I'll heal Sam's arm later but she should get her head checked out first.'

'Because she agreed with me?' Jack asked faintly insulted.

'No,' Jacob said slowly as though talking to someone he considered dim-witted, 'because she smacked it off the floor of the cargo ship with that super soldier hit her.'

Jack grimaced and glanced at Sam concerned. 'You hit your head?'

'Let's change that x-ray to a CAT scan.' Janet said evenly, reaching into her pocket for her penlight.

Sam glared at her father. 'It was a bump.'

'What about Daniel?' Jack jumped in before father and daughter could get into a full scale argument.

'I'm fine.' Daniel claimed, smiling. 'I don't mind the crutches.'

'I can heal you tomorrow before I head back to the Alpha site with Telchak's device.' Jacob said firmly. 'Sam can help.'

Sam jerked her head out of Janet's grasp and frowned. 'What?'

'You need the practice using the healing device.' Jacob pointed out.

'Colonel O'Neill to the control room. Colonel O'Neill to the control room.'

Jack winced at the summons. He allowed himself one last quick glance toward Sam who smiled sympathetically. It looked like their plans for lunch were definitely scuppered. Jack turned and headed back out of the infirmary. He didn't hurry too much on the way to the control room; his knees still ached from the trek through the jungle to find Daniel and the long journey home.

'Sergeant?' Jack enquired as he entered the control room, taking in at a glance the usual level of activity for the middle of the day at the SGC – a couple of white-coated techs taking readings, the Sergeant firmly ensconced in his seat at the computer console. Siler was in the gate room performing some routine maintenance. Everything was normal.

'Phone call for you, sir, from a CIA agent named Burke.' Walter Harriman pointed up the stairs. 'The briefing room is free.'

'Thanks, Walter.' Jack said, heading up the stairs. He noted that the General's office door was shut and sat on the desk as he reached for the phone. He punched on the button to connect him. 'O'Neill.'

'Jack!' Burke's voice boomed down the line. 'Well, how about that, you actually gave me a real number.'

Jack rolled his eyes and took the jab. Burke had plenty of reason to think Jack would have bailed on his promise to help him. 'You wanted to talk to me or exchange another round of pleasantries?'

'Nah, wanted to thank you.' Burke said briskly. 'I've been transferred.'

'Great.' Jack was pleased that his request to the CIA via Hammond had yielded results so fast. 'Where to?'

'Washington field office.' Burke sounded slightly stunned. 'I'm a senior agent now.' He whistled. 'You must have some pull.'

'Wasn't me; I suggested Hawaii.' Jack felt compelled to point out.

Burke laughed. 'Well, thanks…'

'You should have told me.' The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them and Jack rubbed a hand tiredly over his face. 'You should have told me back then and I would have…'

'Ended up in the shit with me, Jack.' Burke cut him off briskly. 'Look, we're good now, right?'

'Yeah.' Jack sighed.

'Your friend OK?' Burke asked, changing the subject.

'He's alive.'

'That's the important thing.' Burke agreed. 'Take care of yourself, Jack. From what I saw…you're dealing with some crazy shit, man, just crazy.'

The dial tone sounded before Jack could reply and he replaced the phone with another heavy sigh. A part of him knew Burke was right. If he'd known about Woods back when the mission had gone sour and had backed Burke up…it might have gone badly for both of them. Jack tapped the phone thoughtfully. At least Burke was being treated as an asset again; that had to count for something.

'Colonel?' Hammond's voice dragged him out of his thoughts and he looked up to find the General looking at him from his office doorway. He motioned for Jack to follow him into the small cosy room.

Jack closed the door behind and took up his usual position in front of Hammond's desk. 'Sir?'

'That your friend on the phone?' Hammond asked.

'He's been transferred to Washington.' Jack said, rocking back on his heels.

'Good.' Hammond sat down heavily in his chair, the leather creaking under his weight. 'Doctor Fraiser has called me. She's requested that we push back the debriefing until her medical checks are completed.'

Jack felt his lips twitch. The CMO was one of the few people who could override Hammond and everyone knew her requests were polite code for orders.

'I wanted to get your input on an assignment.' Hammond noted, leaning back and clasping his hands over his stocky belly. 'The Colonel assigned to perform the SERE training for the 302 pilots has had a heart attack; it looks like he'll be medically discharged. I thought about using Colonel Sumner to fill the gap.'

'Be a good fit.' Jack commented. Marshall was a Marine and ex-Special Forces, the same as Jack. He was old school but a good man; a good soldier. He wouldn't take any crap from a bunch of 302 pilots more used to the air than the ground either.

'That's what I thought.' Hammond frowned, his round face creasing with concern. 'In the absence of us making a decision, the Marine Commandant is pressing for Sumner to be made commander of the Prometheus once she makes it home.'

Jack grimaced. 'And I would say that's not a good fit.'

Hammond gave a huff of laughter. 'No, and luckily General Vidrine is in agreement. We'd like to keep the ship commander positions to Air Force personnel.'

'We still need someone to oversee Beta site.' Jack pointed out. 'If Sumner takes the SERE training, he'd be good to set-up the 302 training facility there.'

Hammond nodded thoughtfully, the light glancing off his bald pate. 'He gained good experience on the Alpha site before his late wife's accident.' He sat forward decisively. 'Thank you, Colonel.' His pale blue eyes caught Jack's. 'One more thing.'

'Sir?'

'Colonel Ronson is still pressing for Major Carter to accompany the Prometheus back to Earth. He points out that Doctor McKay doesn't have the deep space experience that the Major has.' Hammond paused.

'Isn't Carter needed to help with this Telchak device thing?' Jack pointed out brusquely. Ronson had been trying to get Carter onto the Prometheus' crew since he'd taken command of it. Jack would be more annoyed but he couldn't fault Ronson's appreciation for Carter's skills and experience, and Jack knew Carter had no plans to leave SG1. 'I'm not sure we can spare her at the moment, sir.'

'Very well.' Hammond agreed mildly, although Jack could tell that Hammond didn't completely agree with Jack's view. Still, Hammond hadn't overruled him which meant that the part that did agree with Jack was holding sway. 'That's all, Colonel.'

'Sir.' Jack made his way out.

The glimmer of eerie blue light across the observation window halted Jack's step. SG8 were walking through the open wormhole, returning home from their mission – a check-up on the Land of Light. Jack shoved his hands deep into the pockets of his pants, captivated by the shimmer. The Stargate had given him a second chance; Burke deserved a second chance too. Jack only hoped he made the most of it.

o-O-o

Then

The pen hit him square on Daniel's chest and had him blinking rapidly behind his thick-framed glasses.

'You're not even listening to me.' Robert Rothman exclaimed with an exasperated sigh. He sat back on his heels, squishing his sleeping bag further into disarray as he tried to get into a comfortable position.

Daniel hadn't been listening. He'd been preoccupied with his research and the outcry at his latest article. OK, so his theories are a little out there but they are based on sound thinking and even some actual evidence so why…another pen hit him. 'Sorry, Robert.'

'No, you're not.' Robert sighed and reached into his backpack. 'I hate Egypt. Why did I agree to accompany you on this dig again?' He waved his inhaler at Daniel. 'And please tell me that you were thinking about your insanely hot girlfriend and not Steven Rayner's critique of your article.'

'I don't have an insanely hot girlfriend.' Daniel muttered, aware of the red stain heating his cheeks. He was just grateful that the camping light wasn't bright enough to show it. He adjusted his glasses and looked away.

'Hello?' Robert stared at him. 'Sarah Gardner? Freakishly brilliant English postgrad with the most gorgeous…'

'Robert.' Daniel cut him off sharply. 'We broke up.'

'You did?' Robert used his inhaler before he repacked it and frowned at Daniel. 'What did you do?'

'Why do you assume it was something that I did?' Daniel asked tersely, flopping down on top of his own sleeping bag with a huff.

'Please.' Robert said dryly. 'That woman adores you.'

Daniel felt another rush of guilt swamp him. 'I might have, uh, forgotten an anniversary or a birthday or something.'

Robert sighed expressively.

'I was working!' Daniel said defensively. So he got absorbed in his work and forgot things; everyone did, didn't they?

Robert snorted. 'You know there is more to life than work, Daniel.' He shuffled into his sleeping bag. 'So you were thinking about Rayner's article?'

Daniel sighed and placed his hands behind his head as he stared up at the nylon ceiling above his head. 'Steven doesn't get it.'

'Steven doesn't want to make waves.' Robert rejoined. 'Unlike some other academics I could mention.'

'I don't want to make waves,' Daniel denied heatedly, 'I just want to know the truth.'

'You have to admit that your last article was a little…out there.' Robert turned over to look at him. 'You came dangerously close to agreeing with those pseudo-archaeologist types that think the pyramids are landing pads for aliens even if you didn't say it explicitly.'

'Well, at least you have the decency to make the differentiation between implicit and explicit unlike Steven.' Daniel complained. He knew Steven didn't like him much but his critique of Daniel's article had been an all-out academic attack.

'Steven hates you.' Robert sighed as though Daniel had missed something. 'He hates that your Jordan's golden boy and that you got Sarah when he couldn't get past first base and never will. He wants tenure and recognition and…'

'And to ignore the truth.'

'Daniel, you had a couple of old papyrus tales and made some pretty bizarre leaps.' Robert argued. 'I wouldn't have agreed with you in print either.'

Daniel sighed. 'I think there is evidence of an older civilisation that we're ignoring…'

'Please do not bring up the Atlantis myth again.' Robert pleaded.

Daniel ignored him and continued. '…because nobody wants to dig deeper.'

Robert laughed and Daniel realised the pun a second later.

'Well, we're not going to find anything on this dig.' Robert said when he finished laughing. He scrubbed a hand through his shaggy black beard. 'I'm not even sure why we brought security.'

'The university insisted on it for insurance purposes. There've been reports of bandits operating in this area.' Daniel murmured absently.

'Right, now he tells me.' Robert complained. 'Although a bandit raid may have livened things up. We haven't found anything interesting at all.' He wriggled in his sleeping bag. 'The interns are complaining.'

'They all want it to be like Indiana Jones.' Daniel sighed heavily. 'Personally, I'd prefer not to be held at gunpoint or have to run for my life.'

'Me too.' Robert threw another pen at him. 'Come on, turn off the light and let's go to sleep. We have another day of digging up nothing to look forward to tomorrow.'

Daniel reached over and thumbed the light switch. The tent darkened immediately. The sound of the wind against the nylon was loud in the silence; the fleeting pitter-patter of sand hitting the tent and falling away again. Daniel knew he shouldn't let Steven's derision get to him. Daniel knew he was right and Steven was wrong.

He winced. God, he sounded just like his grandfather. Daniel took his glasses off and placed them carefully away from him where he wouldn't accidentally roll into them in the night. Robert's snore had him grimacing and he closed his own eyes. He didn't want to do what Nick had done; skip from one outrageous theory to another; crystal skulls and Fountain of Youth quests. But he knew he was right. He knew deep down that there was more to the Egyptian civilisation than what filled every high school text book. He just had to find some way of proving it.

o-O-o

Now

Daniel propped up his leg on the low stool and let the groan he'd been holding back hiss between his teeth. He was disappointed if he was honest that Jacob's symbiote Selmak wasn't going to heal him along with Sam but then, Jacob and Selmak had both looked tired at the debriefing so maybe he could understand. He could wait one more day even if it did mean staying on the base again. He really needed to order an actual bed for his new house.

A sharp knock on his open office door had him turning to greet his visitor. He smiled at the sight of Bill Lee.

'Hey.' Daniel waved him in and noted the lack of Bill's ubiquitous lab coat that he wore around the SGC. Instead, there was a heavy puffy jacket over Bill's denim jeans and checked blue shirt. 'You finished for the day?'

'Well, Jacob Carter will be taking the Telchak device to the Tok'ra so I don't have anything left on that and Doctor Heightmeyer suggested that I take some time after off…well, you know.' Bill gave an unhappy shrug and shoved his hands into his pockets.

Daniel smiled sympathetically. 'That's probably a good idea.'

Bill sighed and slumped onto the stool at the end of the central bench. He took one hand out of a pocket and rubbed his forehead. 'Doctor Heightmeyer also thought it would be a good idea for me to talk to you.'

'OK.' Daniel tried hard to ensure his discomfort about that idea didn't show on his face. He didn't know the civilian psychologist that well. Despite their history he preferred sticking with Doctor Mackenzie when he was forced into seeing someone – maybe because of their history.

Bill sighed heavily and avoided his gaze. 'I feel like I let you down.'

Daniel's eyebrows rose over the top of his glasses as he took in Bill's defeated air. 'Bill…'

'I just…lost it.' Bill continued, speaking over Daniel's attempt to reply. 'I talked…I gave up…I hid like some scared animal while they chased after you and shot you.' He waved at Daniel's leg. 'I was a complete liability out there.'

'You weren't a liability.' Daniel lied briskly.

Bill simply looked at him in disbelief.

'You were kidnapped and tortured, Bill.' Daniel said gently. 'Nobody excels in those circumstances.'

'You did.' Bill said. 'You held it together; you got us out.'

'I was just as scared as you were,' he admitted slowly, 'I'm just more used to getting kidnapped, tortured.' He waved across to Bill. 'Although being chased through jungles by zombies is a new one for me.'

Bill's lips twitched into a reluctant smile. 'Well, it does complete the whole Indiana Jones image you have going on. They'll probably base the next movie off your work.'

'I really hope not.' Daniel said with a short laugh. He could just imagine it though; crystal skulls and aliens with dodgy special effects. 'Look, Bill,' he shifted around on his own stool, trying to keep his balance with his leg propped up at an awkward angle, 'I've had how many years in the field now?'

'I've been in the field too.' Bill countered.

'But mostly on scientific teams where the planet has already been designated safe or where you've had a full military escort.' Daniel frowned. 'Actually, I'm not sure why General Hammond didn't send one of the Marines with us.'

'Probably to prevent exactly what happened.' Bill said absently. 'A Marine would have drawn more unwanted attention.'

Daniel bit his lip and wondered if he was responsible for drawing attention to himself and Bill. He knew he moved more like a soldier than an archaeologist after so many years on SG1. He kept himself in shape; trained with Teal'c; went to the range with Sam or Jack every week. Maybe he was the reason why they'd been targeted.

'Besides, it wouldn't have mattered,' Bill continued oblivious to Daniel's thoughts, 'they probably would have shot them like they did our guide.'

'He's OK, you know, Rogelio.' Daniel assured him. 'The SGC is picking up his hospital bill and everything.'

'That's good, that's good.' Bill agreed.

'Anyway, the point I was making is that you don't have the same experience as I do so it's not fair to judge your actions by mine.' Daniel said kindly. 'I remember when I first started out, Sam used to throw herself over me to protect me when we were under fire and I used to let her.'

'Really?' Bill blinked at him, clearly astonished.

'Really.' Daniel confirmed. 'So, don't beat yourself up about this. You did the best you could.'

'Thank you.' Bill said gratefully. He stood up. 'Huh. How about that? I actually do feel better.'

Daniel looked at him quizzically.

'To be honest I thought Doctor Heightmeyer was full of hot air.' Bill explained with a wry smile. He heaved a sigh. 'I should get going if I leave now I might be in time to put the kids to bed.'

'Take care, Bill.'

Bill gave a small wave and headed out.

Daniel heaved his own sigh of relief. He turned back to the journal at his desk. It was his grandfather's; the one Nick had completed about the Fountain of Youth; the journal that had led Daniel to Telchak's device.

His grandfather had been proven right in the end about his theories, living out his life with the Giant Aliens he had discovered. Daniel was proud of him; proud to be his grandson; proud to have taken after Nick and followed his heart. Daniel had also been proven right about Ancient civilisations in the end; about there being more to Egyptian history than a series of dynasties.

Daniel closed the journal with reverent care and got to his feet. He limped over to the bookcase and slid it back into its usual place. His fingers lingered for a moment on the spine and he smiled, thanking Nick silently for the help before he limped back and reached for the next puzzle to solve.

Continued in Part II

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