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Fanfiction: Waking Up - Part I

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S7 Chimera
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Sam/Jack UST.  Sam/Pete.  Daniel/Sha're, Daniel/Sarah.  Sam & Hammond friendship. Jack & Daniel friendship. 
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended. Written for entertainment purposes only.

Waking Up

George Hammond sighed and rubbed his forehead with his thumb as he listened to Agent Barrett's news. He frowned heavily and, despite the NID agent being unable to see, nodded his agreement with the actions taken to track down why FBI Agent Farrity had suddenly been so interested in Samantha Carter. Regret nibbled at him; if he'd only known about the background into the Major a few hours before…but Hammond had never been one to dwell on what couldn't be changed. Hammond realised Barrett was suggesting that a NID agent interview Pete Shanahan and sighed under his breath.

'That won't be necessary, Agent Barrett.' Hammond said firmly. 'I'm aware of the situation; Shanahan is a friend of the Major's brother. He was apparently concerned about her,' he lied, 'and, well, got himself involved with things that don't concern him.'

His irritation coated the final sentence enough that Barratt deferred to Hammond and ended the call.

Hammond set down the phone into its cradle gently and glared at it. He leaned back in his chair and contemplated the events that had transpired to make his life difficult.

He pursed his lips. The Major was dating Pete Shanahan, her brother's friend and a detective in the Denver PD on assignment in Colorado Springs. That in itself was unusual. Not that he kept track of the personal lives of those he commanded but he would have bet serious money on Sam being half-way in love with her CO and Jack being more than a little in love with her. He didn't have any hard evidence and what little he did have - glances, occasional touches that lingered, occasional lack of personal space between them – he had long decided to turn a blind eye to because SG1 performed miracles with both of them in the team and he didn't want to break that up if he could help it. He also knew both of them took their duty to the mission seriously and he liked to think he honoured that choice. There had only been a few times, one just a few weeks before when Sam had gone missing on the Prometheus, when their emotions had been so close to the surface to make him reconsider that.

Hammond sighed again, shifting forward. So, Sam was dating and her personal and professional lives had become entangled earlier that morning when Shanahan had gotten himself in the middle of SG1's mission to capture Osiris. The Goa'uld, who had taken over Daniel Jackson's former colleague and girlfriend, Sarah Gardner, had been torturing the archaeologist in his sleep trying to see whether he had subconscious knowledge of a lost city with powerful Ancient weapons. The sting they had set-up at Daniel's house had two goals: one, to see if Daniel did know the information, and two, to capture Osiris so her host could be freed.

He flipped open a folder on his desk and sorted through the papers to find Shanahan's statement. It had been taken by Colonel Reynolds immediately after Shanahan had received medical care and the neat precise narrative was exactly what Hammond expected of him. Shanahan claimed that he had heard about the stake-out from colleagues in local law enforcement, had been curious enough to check it out, and concerned when he had seen Sam's car in the vicinity. He had been about to discreetly enter the surveillance van and ask for more information when Sam had exited and 'the woman with glowing eyes attacked.' Shanahan had gone on to state that his primary thought at that point was to assist and protect Sam.

It was a good story. Hammond even believed that there was an element of truth to it. In the light of Barrett's news, he also believed that Pete knew how to bullshit and the whole thing stunk to high heaven. Pete had requested a background check on Sam the day before the stake-out.

Hammond shook his head. He didn't think Shanahan was a rogue operative working for some unknown enemy but he couldn't let go of the concern that the man's actions had prompted. Shanahan had run a background check on a woman he was dating. With that in mind, his presence at the stake-out suggested forethought rather than coincidence. It suggested that he had followed Sam there; that he had approached the van to talk with her, perhaps to confront her.

Sam would be mortified. She had vouched for Shanahan as soon as the team had entered the SGC; she had requested that she give him the standard brief that they gave to those who had to be read in on the Stargate but who had no direct involvement in the day to day activity, on the basis that Shanahan had seen too much that could be explained away with a simple explanation. She had looked so delighted when Hammond had acquiesced – subject to Shanahan signing the usual non-disclosure agreements.

Hammond grimaced, torn between his personal reaction of a worried family friend that wanted to do the best for Sam and his need to remain objective as the commander of the Stargate programme; he needed a second opinion. He picked up the phone and ordered the Sergeant in the control room to track down Jack O'Neill.

He mulled over what to say as he waited, letting himself relax back into his comfortable leather chair. His eyes skated around the cosy office without seeing the pictures and furnishings that softened the cold space. He didn't want to put Jack in an uncomfortable position especially if his suspicions were correct.

A rap on the outer door took him by surprise and he called out permission to enter, sitting forward abruptly. Jack entered briskly, closing the door behind him.

Hammond waved him into a chair, noticing Jack's grimace with a faint twinge of amusement. He tapped Shanahan's statement. 'You've read Detective Shanahan's account of what happened?'

'I've reviewed it.' Jack confirmed, settling back into the plush leather and folding his arms over his chest. His dog tags dangled brightly against the black of the BDU t-shirt.

'I've been reviewing it myself. Did he interfere in the operation?' Hammond asked, trying to dig subtly at Shanahan's motivations.

'Are you having second thoughts about giving Carter permission about giving him the standard brief? Because if you are, sir, you should know she headed into see him as soon as you gave her the go ahead.' Jack shifted in his chair. 'That ship has flown; bird has sailed…' his hand weaved through the air descriptively.

'Let's just say I'm reconsidering whether my initial conclusions were correct when I gave her that permission.' Hammond said mildly.

Jack's face contorted as he considered his words carefully. Hammond figured Jack was trying to be fair to Sam by filtering his own bias out of his reactions while retaining his honesty.

'I can't say I appreciate his curiosity,' Jack said eventually, 'but his actions might have, maybe, helped to keep Osiris occupied until we could take the snake down.' He shrugged. 'On the other hand, Carter could have kept done that without having to worry about her…' he waved a hand in lieu of a term, 'being on the scene.'

Hammond nodded, trusting Jack's viewpoint. He sounded mildly annoyed at Shanahan effectively crashing the operation, and guarded about whether the man's efforts helped or hindered. It fitted with Hammond's own view prior to the call from Barrett and why he had agreed to the standard briefing. 'Do we think Shanahan has any other agenda other than curiosity?'

Jack gave another grimace indicating his discomfort. 'Teal'c thinks Shanahan's agenda is all about Carter.' He paused. 'We might have, uh, talked about it on the way in from Daniel's.'

Without Sam being around to overhear, Hammond surmised as he nodded knowingly at Jack.

'I probably agree with him on that.' Jack continued, absently stroking a thumb over his bicep. 'Carter told me Shanahan was a blind date set-up by her brother.' He gestured at Hammond. 'If he'd bumped into her in the park or at the gym or…wherever, I'd have more of a concern, but a blind date and one set-up by a family member?' He shook his head.

Hammond felt some of the tension leave him. He also agreed with the conclusion; Shanahan's agenda was unlikely to be nefarious which meant that if simple curiosity was discarded as an explanation for his actions, Sam was left as the subject of his interest. He closed the folder and let himself appear to relax into the solid leather cushions. 'What are your thoughts generally on Shanahan?' He asked impulsively.

Jack lifted one scarred eyebrow. 'Sir?'

'Lose the sir, Jack.' Hammond ordered, placing the discussion firmly into personal territory.

Jack's brown eyes widened but it was the only betrayal of his surprise on an otherwise impassive face that would have made his Jaffa team-mate proud. 'OK,' he drawled slowly, 'well I have to tell you that my main thought is…that I'm trying very hard not to have any thoughts at all.'

Hammond gave a huff of laughter at the blunt answer.

'Since this is all off the record, George, can I ask what prompted all this?' Jack made a circular gesture with his hand.

And there was the question Hammond had hoped Jack wouldn't ask. He pressed his lips together and assessed what he was going to tell Jack about Barrett's information. Nothing, he decided. He wouldn't have Sam embarrassed, not even in front of Jack, because of an act of stupidity performed by the man she was seeing personally.

'You're aware of my friendship with Jacob.' Hammond said instead. He lifted a hand as though that was explanation enough.

Jack's expression morphed into one of understanding. 'In loco parentis, sir?'

'Something like that.' Hammond sighed. 'Like you I'd rather not have thoughts but as Jacob's proxy…'

'You want to make certain of Shanahan's intentions.' Jack completed somewhat gleefully.

Hammond shot him a look.

Jack gave an apologetic wave. 'There is an easy way to do that.' He smirked. 'Just go visit him in the infirmary and scare the crap out of him.'

Hammond laughed appreciatively. He motioned absently towards the door; a subtle dismissal but still a dismissal. 'Thanks for the advice, Colonel.'

'My pleasure, sir.' Jack sprang up from the chair and headed to the door. He hesitated when he got to opening it and turned back unexpectedly.

Hammond looked at him quizzically.

'If I do have one thought…' Jack began, awkwardly, stuffing his hands into his pockets and his gaze meeting Hammond's almost defiantly, 'it's that nobody's ever going to be good enough for Carter, but she deserves to be happy.'

Nobody. Hammond would bet his bottom dollar Jack included himself in that. He nodded briskly and Jack left swiftly.

He shook away the feeling of sadness, unsure why it had crept upon him, and focused on the issue at hand, his mind skimming over the conclusions he'd reached in his discussion with Jack. Shanahan could be discounted as a threat to national security and the Stargate programme, Hammond was certain of that. Hammond was also in agreement that Shanahan's agenda was all about Sam. Which gave him a serious problem.

With the knowledge that Shanahan had run a background check on her, he was certain that Shanahan had probably followed Sam to the stake-out, watched her and when his curiosity had gotten too much for him, he had gone to confront her without a single thought for the operation he was inserting himself into. He'd placed Sam and the rest of SG1 in danger. As the General who had signed off on the mission, Hammond was annoyed and pissed.

And on a personal note, he was concerned, seriously concerned, about the lack of trust Shanahan had demonstrated in Sam in running the check; about the controlling behaviour demonstrated by Shanahan through what basically amounted to stalking. There was a line and Shanahan had crossed it. Hammond remembered all too well Jacob's worry when Sam had gotten engaged to the late and unlamented Jonas Hansen. Jacob had been concerned at how possessive Hansen was with her; how controlling. They'd all been relieved when she'd handed the engagement ring back. Maybe Shanahan wasn't in Hansen's league but the warning signs that he could be were there.

Hammond sighed and stroked a hand over his head. He was only too aware that as Sam's CO he wasn't supposed to insert himself into her personal life nor show favouritism but…but Hammond couldn't ignore Shanahan's actions as base CO nor as Jacob's friend; he couldn't leave Sam uninformed about Shanahan's behaviour.

But maybe there was a way. Jack was right, Hammond considered thoughtfully; he needed to scare the crap out of Shanahan. He stood up. There was no time like the present.

Hammond took a moment to shrug into his jacket. He fastened it up, shook out the sleeves and brushed a hand down the front. He wanted to look imposing and nothing worked better than the uniform.

A thought stopped him before he left his office; Sam. It was very likely that she was with Shanahan or likely to interrupt. He frowned and tapped his fingers impatiently on his desk. He went by the control room and ordered them to call Sam to his office and for her to wait for him to return. He'd think of some excuse when he'd finished with Shanahan.

The walk to the infirmary was short and Hammond turned over how he was going to handle Shanahan in his head the entire way. He checked in with Janet Fraiser to ensure that he would have privacy for their discussion from medical staff and made his way to the infirmary room allocated to their guest. The door stood ajar; Shanahan was alone, resting in the bed with his eyes closed.

'Detective Shanahan.' Hammond entered without ceremony and closed the door behind him.

Shanahan's eyes snapped open, a wary look entering his gaze as Hammond walked right up to his bedside. He struggled to sit up more, wincing at the pull on his abdominal injury. 'You must be General Hammond. Sam's talked about you; Mark too.' He gave a charming smile that invited Hammond to trust him as fellow friends of the Carter family. 'Do I get to call you Uncle George too?'

'General will be fine for this conversation.' Hammond stated sternly.

Shanahan's smile faded. 'Of course.' He smoothed his covers and folded his arms over his chest.

'I was wondering what Mark would say if I told him that the good buddy he had set his sister up with had requested the FBI run an illegal and unwarranted background check on her invading her privacy and disrespecting her as an individual.' Hammond began, careful to keep his anger out of his words. He glared at Shanahan unaware that his pale blue eyes gave away his inner fury.

Shanahan paled before his face flooded with colour. 'Ah.' His eyes flickered to Hammond's. 'I have an explanation…'

'I don't want to hear it.' Hammond cut in brusquely. 'What I do want is the truth about what happened in regards to the stake-out.'

Shanahan squirmed, shifting minutely in the bed. He kept his gaze on the covers. 'I was concerned about Sam,' he said firmly, 'I knew she was involved with something dangerous because of the background check.'

'So you followed her.' Hammond stated.

'I followed her.' Shanahan confirmed. He had the grace to look shamefaced. 'Look, I didn't know what she was involved with just that she wasn't willing to talk about it and…'

'And you had a problem with that.' Hammond shot back.

'I was concerned.' Shanahan stated again. 'I figured it was something dangerous and that I owed it to Mark to find out if it was something she was doing willingly or if she was in over her head.'

Hammond snorted. 'Samantha Carter is one of most dedicated and brilliant people in my command. Your concern,' he sneered the word, 'was entirely unwarranted and if you knew her at all you would have known that.'

'Sam and I still getting to know each other,' Shanahan allowed, 'and I made a mistake.' He lifted his gaze defiantly to Hammond. 'But it was a mistake made with the best of intentions.'

Hammond glowered right back at him. 'Bullshit. You didn't like not knowing something she wouldn't tell you and you set out to find out without regard for her or the consequences of what you were doing.' He held up a hand to stop Shanahan from speaking. 'I could have you arrested for interfering with a mission of national security.'

'But you're not going to.' Shanahan deduced.

'No,' Hammond allowed, 'I'm not. But only for the Major's sake, not yours.' He pointed at him. 'I'm satisfied you were ignorant of what you were interrupting and she doesn't need to be embarrassed in front of her peers because of your idiotic behaviour.'

Shanahan flushed again. He looked at Hammond warily. 'I know Sam was called to your office just before you came in. I assume you're going to tell her?'

'My reasons for calling the Major to my office are none of your business.' Hammond returned, raising his thinning eyebrows a little. 'In regards to the other matter, I'm not going to tell her.' He paused significantly, allowing relief to suffuse Shanahan's expression before landing his blow. 'You are.'

Panic flared across Shanahan's features, widening his eyes and nostrils; his breathing escalated. 'General…'

'I spoke with Doctor Fraiser; she's releasing you tomorrow and the Major has volunteered to take you back to Denver. You will inform her then.' Hammond said forcefully. 'And believe me I will know if you don't.'

'But…' Shanahan trailed away as he realised Hammond wouldn't relent. He let his head slump back against the pillow. 'Nothing I say is going to change your mind, is it?'

'She deserves to know what kind of man you are.' Hammond said quietly.

'Look, you may not believe it but I was concerned about her.' Shanahan said.

'It doesn't matter if I believe you,' Hammond rejoined although he could see that Shanahan believed it fervently, 'Sam will make up her own mind.' He took a step toward the bed, looming over Shanahan. 'But whether she forgives you or not, I won't forget that you stepped over a line here and if you step over it ever again, or harm her in any way, I will kick you through the Stargate to the most inhospitable place in this universe and leave you there.' He held Shanahan's apprehensive gaze with one of his own that showed the younger man the soldier Hammond had once been in a jungle in 'Nam; in a hellhole in Korea. 'Do we understand each other?'

'We understand each other.' Shanahan replied evenly.

Hammond straightened. 'Enjoy the rest of your stay, Detective. As long as I'm in charge here, you won't see the SGC again.' He turned and walked out, closing the door behind him.

In the corridor, he took a deep breath and recovered his usual calm. He would need to keep Sam occupied for the next few hours; perhaps a deep space analysis to see whether they could find Osiris's cloaked ship was in order. Teal'c had made mention that the Goa'uld undoubtedly had a ship somewhere in orbit in his after-action report. Hammond nodded decisively and headed for his office with the amused thought that sometimes what they did really was deep space telemetry.

o-O-o

Daniel handed Sarah the mug and watched as she took an appreciative sip.

Her eyes looked up at him with surprised amusement. 'Tea?'

'Earl Grey.' Daniel confirmed. He sat down on the bed and watched as she took another sip before handing him the mug back. He set it on the bedside table while she snuggled back into the pillows. 'How are you feeling?'

'I don't know.' Sarah murmured. Her hand reached out and snagged his, intertwining their fingers loosely. 'It all seems unreal.'

Her clipped accent filled Daniel with memories – memories he'd spent reliving in his dreams for almost a week. He didn't move his hand but he didn't encourage her clasp. As much as he remembered why they'd fallen in love once, he also remembered too well why they'd fallen out.

'I'm sorry.' Daniel said softly instead. 'I should have realised that the Goa'uld might have left souvenirs behind and, I don't know…'

'Checked through every single antiquity on the planet?' Sarah raised elegant eyebrows upward. 'Even you aren't that good, Daniel.' She wet her lips. 'Professor Jordan asked me for a consult. We wondered why they'd preserved a snake. I accidentally,' her face took on a chagrined expression, 'opened the jar and it slipped through my fingers…and then it moved.' Her lips twisted wryly. 'I might have screamed. The next thing I remember clearly is…you – when you showed up at the funeral.' She shook her head. Her strawberry blonde curls went flying. 'The rest of it…it was like living in a nightmare and not being able to wake up.'

Daniel squeezed her fingers. 'We have people who you can talk to…'

'No.' Sarah shook her head again. 'I don't want to think about it or talk about it or…'

He shushed her. 'It's OK.'

Sarah blinked up at him wearily, and pushed her hand through her hair. 'Daniel, I don't even know what I'm going to do when I leave here.' She hesitated. 'I can leave, can't I?'

'Of course,' Daniel reassured her quickly, patting her hand, 'you're not under arrest or anything like that. The Air Force or NID will want to monitor you for a while to make sure, uh…'

'That I haven't become a Goa'uld spy?' Sarah commented dryly.

'That,' Daniel agreed, 'and to make sure that you don't tell all about the Stargate programme to some keen reporter type.'

Sarah gave a tired laugh. 'No-one would believe me anymore than they believed you when you published your theories.' She smiled suddenly and tugged on his hand. 'You were right, Daniel.'

He shrugged and adjusted his glasses. 'It doesn't matter. The world isn't ready to hear it.'

'No, it isn't.' Sarah let her fingers rub over his and withdrew suddenly. 'What am I going to do? I can't return to archaeology knowing what I know…I just can't.' She grimaced. 'Do I even have a life here anymore?'

'The British government declared you dead about a year ago.' Daniel admitted. 'Around, uh, the same time I, uh…'

'Died.' Sarah stared at him. 'I thought you were a ghost when you visited me.'

Daniel froze. He blinked at her. 'I visited you?' He asked carefully.

'Osiris was retrieving an Eye from a temple. You did something to make her immobile and spoke with me.' Sarah smiled at Daniel's shock.

'I don't remember.' Daniel admitted. 'I know I visited with people but I don't remember any of it.'

'You encouraged me to find a way to make her come home to Earth. When Anubis told Osiris of your resurrection after the set-back you gave him in blowing up his weapon and fooling him about the tablet, I began to do what you said; I began to whisper to Osiris, tried to influence him. It's taken me months but…here I am.' She looked around again as though stunned. 'I think I'm dreaming.'

'Not dreaming.' Daniel assured her. He took in her pallor and the dark circles under her eyes. 'But you do need to go to sleep.'

'And when I wake up? What am I going to do?' Sarah said again tiredly.

'We'll think of something.' Daniel promised.

'I'm so tired, Daniel.' Sarah's eyes started to drift downward and she blinked them open again.

A throat being cleared across the room had both of their heads turning to the doorway.

Teal'c walked forward, bowing his head slightly to Sarah before settling his dark gaze on Daniel. 'The forensic team has left your house, Daniel Jackson.'

Daniel grimaced. 'I should probably go and see what damage they've done.' He looked over at Sarah and stilled. How could he leave her?

'Go.' Sarah said. 'You don't have to sit with me.'

'Uh…' Daniel said, flustered and uncertain. He was sure she didn't want him to leave and yet as much as he didn't want to leave her alone, he couldn't deny he was itching for some space to think.

'In Daniel Jackson's absence, I would be honoured if you would allow me to sit with you in his stead, Doctor Gardner.' Teal'c said formally.

Sarah nodded. 'Thank you, Teal'c.' She nudged Daniel's knee with her hand. 'Go. I'll be fine.'

Daniel nodded and hopped off the bed, straightening the green blanket. He placed a hand on Teal'c's shoulder as he passed him, a silent thank you for his support. He walked out of the infirmary.

He passed Detective Shanahan's room on his way and slowed, wondering whether to poke his head inside and see if Sam was there. He decided against it. He didn't want to have to make nice with the guy either way. As much as he respected Sam's right to choose who she wanted to be with and even understood her unspoken reasons for why it wasn't Jack she had chosen, he couldn't help thinking she was making a mistake. But it was hers to make and, Daniel had no intention of giving Sam a hard time over it just as he hadn't given Jack a hard time when he had tried dating someone else. However, Daniel thought determinedly, just because he wasn't going to give Sam a hard time, it didn't mean that he had to make friends with Shanahan either.

He headed for the locker room and changed into civilian gear; jeans, a checked shirt and a heavy leather coat that kept out the chill. He arranged a driver to get him to his house – he'd travelled in the ambulance with Sarah that morning – and spent the journey dozing. Intellectually, he knew he'd only spent the last week fencing with Osiris in his dreams and losing sleep, but it felt like he hadn't slept for years.

The driver pulled up in front of his house and Daniel staggered out, waving the Airman away wearily. He looked at the building and shivered. He walked up to the front door and hesitated with his hand on the wood. He didn't want to go inside. He wasn't sure he wanted to be inside of his house ever again. The memory of coming to with Osiris in his bedroom; the pain as the hand device had hit him…

Daniel pushed his hands into his pockets and found his keys. He headed for his car. A moment later, he was driving. He made for Jack's house without consciously making the decision to head there. Daniel had spotted that Jack had left the base when he'd signed out himself.

Jack's house looked cosy and inviting; lived in. Daniel parked the car and bounded up to the front door. He knocked and waited even though he knew Jack had probably left the door open. It took Jack a moment to let him in, waving him forward and into the house with a beer bottle.

'You want one?' Jack asked, lifting the bottle again.

Daniel slipped off his coat and hung it up by the door. 'Yeah, I think I do.'

Jack nodded and made for the kitchen. Daniel wandered into the den. He sat down on the battered sofa and looked at the photo album that was open on the coffee table with fascination. His fingers grazed over the pictures of a young Jack, half-naked with his dog-tags swinging against his chest, lifting a young laughing boy above his head.

Jack smacked his shoulder with the beer. 'Here.'

'Thanks.' Daniel gestured at the pictures. 'Sorry but I couldn't resist looking. That's you and Charlie, right?'

'His third birthday.' Jack put his beer down and flipped the album shut. 'I haven't seen that picture in years.'

'So…'

'Sara's Dad died a couple of months ago. She called and said she'd found the album when she was clearing out the house.' Jack said anticipating Daniel's question. He pointed with the album at Daniel. 'She has her own copy so…'

'So she offered it to you.' Daniel had always thought Jack's ex-wife was a class act.

Jack nodded. He slipped the photo album onto a shelf in the bookcase. Daniel didn't press him to keep it out and go through it no matter how curious he was. Jack still hurt over Charlie, and after the day's events Daniel didn't want to poke at an open wound. He figured Jack was already smarting over the existence of Pete Shanahan despite not doing anything to prevent Sam from moving on.

Daniel rested his head back on the cushion and took a long gulp of beer. 'Can I stay here tonight?'

'Stay as long you want.' Jack offered easily, returning to the sofa and picking up the TV remote.

Daniel sighed gratefully. 'I don't think I can live there anymore.' Which was a major pain in the ass; he'd only just bought the place.

'So, don't.' Jack flipped through the channels until he found an old movie and sat back, lifting his feet and placing them on the coffee table.

'Sarah, my Sarah,' Daniel clarified, 'wants to know what next.'

'You mean…' Jack trailed off with an expressive lift of his eyebrows that said 'you and her?' He took a sip of his beer.

'No!' Daniel said immediately before the thought struck him that maybe Sarah had ideas on that front. 'God, I hope not.' He rubbed his thumb at the edge of the beer label. 'I mean, I loved her once but it was over a long time ago and…' he sighed, staring at the TV screen without paying attention to what was playing on it, 'you know what I've spent the entire day doing?'

'I'm sure you're about to tell me.' Jack commented dryly.

'Wishing she was Sha're.' Daniel let out a breath in a disgusted huff. 'How much of a bastard am I?'

'Daniel…' Jack tried to break in.

'No, it's completely…screwed up.' Daniel insisted. 'I know I should be happy that I got Sarah back; that she's OK or will be OK but…all I can think is that if I'd had a choice…'

'And if you did have a choice, you would have tried to save them both anyway.' Jack pointed out brusquely.

Daniel couldn't argue with Jack's blunt statement because he knew Jack was right. 'Apparently I visited her when I was, uh, Ascended.'

'Yeah?' Jack tipped his beer bottle towards him.

'I don't remember it.' Daniel shook his head and winced. 'I think Sam's going to be irritated with me again.' He knew that she had never understood why he hadn't visited her and neither did he.

'I think Carter has other things on her mind.' Jack said with too much care for it not to be deliberate.

'You knew she was seeing someone.' Daniel stated hesitantly, in case Jack did want to talk about it.

'Yep.' Jack's tone warned Daniel off the subject.

Daniel kept silent. If Jack wanted to talk…

Jack sighed and rubbed a hand furiously through his short grey hair. 'She's happy.'

Daniel nodded and knew without question that Jack would never say anything else about the matter. 'What am I going to do about Sarah?'

'There are options.' Jack said. 'We can give her a new life wherever she wants in the world, or off-world; she can join the SGC if that's what she wants – you can always do with more geeks, right?'

'Right.' Daniel replied. He'd sleep on it, he decided as his eyes closed of their own volition. He didn't protest when Jack sighed heavily and plucked the bottle from his fingers.

'Go to bed, Daniel.' Jack pushed him off the sofa.

Daniel staggered down the corridor and into the spare room. He stripped efficiently, not caring that his clothes ended up in a messy heap on the floor. He clambered into the bed and pulled the covers up over his body, shivering at the cold until the cotton warmed up with his body heat. He heard the faint sounds of Jack moving around the house; breathed in the scent of freshly washed linen and the furniture polish Jack preferred. He was safe. Sarah was safe. Daniel closed his eyes and went to sleep.

Continued in Part II.

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