by Nel

Email: nel_ani@yahoo.se
Rating: R
Category: Angst, humor
Pairing: J/D
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Spoilers: Fifth Race, Heroes, Lost City parts 1 and 2
Summary: Wherein Jack keeps his cool (kinda) and Daniel doesn't.
Author's Notes: My long lost Lost City tag that was supposed to be written long ago. Better late than never.

Thanks to Suz for the beta, she, as she always does, rocks.

For Kelly, who's always there and should know that I do appreciate it. Love you, dear.


Time does not change us. It just unfolds us. -- Max Frisch


I’d thought it would be easier the second time around, knowing what was going to happen. I mean, isn’t experience supposed to be a good thing? Prepare you and make you stronger and all that jazz?

I hadn’t counted on the *fear* of knowing exactly how it would feel to slowly lose control, the fear of slowly losing myself in the memories of an entire race.

I don’t know if I should be comforted or worried by the fact that even now, knowing that it isn’t easier the second time around, I wouldn’t let Carter or Daniel do it if I had a chance to change the past.

Not that they wouldn’t find it *fascinating*. I’m sure they’d research their overly bright heads off until they started assembling weird, glowy things and playing MacGyver.

Plus, Daniel and glowy did always make a great match.

I know he feels like crap over the fact that I beat him to it, our little chat earlier made that pretty clear. The guy really has no sense of self-preservation whatsoever. It should reassure me that some things never change, but for some strange reason, it doesn’t.

I’m just happy that Teal’c wasn’t able to do it. I don’t think I could hold them all off at once.

So, no, I wouldn’t let them. Even though the prospect of losing my mind is the cheerier option at the moment, I gotta admit that the whole death thing? Not really rocking my boat.

And, you know, the scariest thing isn’t really that I’m starting to speak Ancient. The scariest thing is that I haven’t *noticed* it. So far I can still understand what the others are saying, but by the looks on their faces, I’d safely say that my English isn’t always grammatically correct anymore.

There was something neat about putting that look of shock on Carter’s face when I made the engines speed up, though. I mean, I don’t think she thinks of me as stupid, although god knows I’ve constantly tried to get her to face that particular truth these last seven years, but if I was Carter and saw me doing that kind of stuff? I’d be pretty freaked too.

Not nearly as freaked as me picturing myself as Carter though. Moving on.

So, my point? Even though this is one of the scariest things I’ve ever been through, and even though I might not make it, I won’t have any regrets.

Well… Maybe a few…


I find him with his nose in a book. Shocker. He’s sitting on the floor in one of the cargo bays, looking like what he’s reading could hold the key to all the mysteries in the universe.

I know that he hates this, hates not being useful. There’s always something going wrong with those damn crystals, so Carter always has something to do, and Teal’c has to help drive the ship, so he’s busy as well, but me (well, usually me) and Daniel? Not really a lot to do, unless someone needs some harassing done (me) or someone needs some harassing done in another language (Daniel).

It gets kind of old being useless when the fate of the world is at stake. I guess that should mean that I’m supposed to be enjoying my condition far more.

Yeah, whatever.

His head snaps up as I make a noise and he blinks at me in surprise. “Jack. What are you doing here?”

I raise my eyebrows and just look at him.

“Oh, right,” he makes a gesture towards his mouth. “Sorry, forgot about that.”

I shrug. No skin off my back, he’s the one who’ll have trouble understanding me.

He carefully looks me over as I sit down next to him. “Can you still understand what I’m saying?”

I give him a wry grin. He smiles a bit at that. “Right.” He looks down. “Jack, I just want to say…”

He looks up again and his eyes are a little red. No no no. I squat down next to him on the floor, shaking my head. I’ve only seen Daniel cry a couple of times in all the time I’ve known him, I won’t be the cause of another occasion.

Although it might serve some kind of therapeutic purpose, but hey, that’s what MacKenzie is for.

He frowns back at me. “What?”

I open my mouth then close it again with a sigh. Really. Why is it that you never notice how much you really yap until you can’t yap at all?

He puts the book down and I pick it up, looking at the cover. I raise my eyebrows at him again. Treasure Island?

“It’s a classic,” he says defensively.

I grin a bit at that and he angrily snatches the book out of my hand, more angry than he should be about me teasing him. “Look, I know this might be hard to ask, but if you could just listen to what I have to say for once in your life…“ He fades off, staring at me, swallowing hard.

To be honest, I’m feeling a bit emotional myself. That’s the thing with Daniel. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy, he’s got guts as well as brains, not to mention heart, but he makes everything so *intense*. With Daniel, there is no such thing as a casual discussion. There is no such thing as just being familiar with the guy; you either love him or you hate him, he won’t let you stay in the middle. Sometimes you even do both.

So, I’ve tried to keep my distance a bit. Not avoiding him, or closing him off or anything like that. Just…not getting quite as involved as I could have gotten from time to time.

Right now, though, right now it’s hard not to get involved. Since there are things I want to tell him, things I have to tell him even though I *can’t* tell him, and he isn’t really in the mood to “listen”.

So, I put my hand on his shoulder and lean in to press my lips to his.

He doesn’t tense up, he just sort of freezes. And when I draw back and look into his eyes, there is such *pain* there that I wish I hadn’t done anything at all. But, for better or for worse, I think he should know. I just hope it’s for the better.

Daniel swallows again. “I…” He shakes his head and looks away.

He doesn’t say anything as I stand up and leave the room.


There is Me and there is Them, or Their knowledge at least. There are moments when I barely recognize the others around me and other moments when I remember with sharpened clarity.

Images of pain and suffering, but not because of them, never because of them.

There’s affection for them, affection that I’ve never been able to tell them about. Not in words anyway. That feeling stays with me the moments when I forget who they are.

We’re back at our home world (although I have a feeling that the big guy with that golden thing on his head doesn’t come from here), and the wannabe Ancient is here. I have vague memories of never being particularly impressed by him. Not much of a surprise.

They say that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I mean... look at that outfit.

Yeah. I rest my case.

The others are pointing their weapons at him, but something about him feels off to me (besides the outfit). There’s no real feeling of energy coming from him, and that’s kind of weird considering he’s mainly made out of energy. Like the blonde woman (Carter. Her name is Carter.) would say: “That much energy has to let off a reading of some kind.”

I smile and run my hand through him. Holographic technology. Neat.

After that, things are a blur. I place myself in the control chair and activate Munemtium (I can hear the voice of the man with the glasses in my head: “Munemtium. I think it means…something like…protection.”).

It takes some effort to separate the enemies from the friendlies; I avoid all the ships that don’t have a Goa’uld presence.

There. I found my energy reading, Carter.

I steel myself and steer Munemtium towards it.

This is gonna hurt.


I keep fading in and out. The blonde woman’s face. Blackness. Being gently lifted (was I lying down?). Blackness.

Suddenly I’m standing up, and I realize they’ve put me in the cryogenic compartment. That means there’s hope yet.

The woman says something, so I take a deep breath and open my eyes and look at them.

They’re looking so sad and part of me is awed that I’ve come to be so close to these people, that I’ve let them so close that they know me enough to feel sad that I’ll be gone.

I want to tell what they have meant to me these past years, but I know that I’m running out of time.


I almost flinch at the sound of the strange words coming out of my mouth, but somehow they’re also familiar, like I’ve always known them.

The man with the glasses says something, probably translating and I continue looking at them as the machine starts.

I have time to wonder if I’ll ever wake up before everything turns dark.


I blink and they’re there again, looking down at me (does that mean I’m lying down again?). For a moment I think that sleep has eluded me when I notice that the blonde woman’s hair is shorter, the dark man has grown hair and the one with glasses has a scar on his cheek. They don’t look different in age, but I still fear that years have passed.

Another figure moves into my line of vision; someone grey and small.

I can feel my lips crack from their dryness as I smile. “Thor.”

He nods, looking solemn as always. “O’Neill. I will restore you to your former state again.”

I want to say something to convey my gratitude (where am I?) of that but (who are these people?) my brain is hurting too much (too much it hurts too much) to actually form the words.

There’s a bright light before my eyes and the pain is doubled. Then, as soon as it started, it’s gone, leaving a headache behind. A nice, *normal*, non-technobabble Ancient-weapon-wielding headache.

“O’Neill?” Teal’c is looking worried. Apparently he’s added another facial expression to his collection while I was gone.

I look at them and note that there *are* signs of age on their faces, lines I’m certain weren’t there before. At least they haven’t gone as grey as yours truly. “How long?”

“A year and a half, give or take,” Carter says, looking as though she won’t let herself be relieved until I give some proof that I’m myself again.

I process her statement, overtly studying Daniel. There’s an indefinable change about him, something I can’t put my finger on. Something that makes him look more than a year and a half older than last I saw him.

I try on a smirk; it’s been a while. “There’s no place like home.”


I think they’re taking turns in standing outside the infirmary, watching over me. Like I’d get anywhere even if I wanted to.

I’d have thought Warner would get a permanent position as Chief Medical Officer, with Ja-Fraiser gone and all, but they brought in this little energetic guy in his late thirties named Yonk, or something like that. I guess they thought the height thing would be a good luck charm.

Or they might have figured that the less doctor for the Jaffa to shoot at while off-world on an emergency, the better. Not a bad thought, only it hadn’t really worked the last time around.

I miss her.

A year and a half may have passed for the others, but to me, only a couple of months have passed and her absence still stings, fresh and deep.

Damn, I miss her.

Pushing the feelings away for later introspection, I watch Daniel pace past the infirmary doorway for the fifth time. As he turns for another lap, I call out to him. “You might as well come in and keep me company.”

He stops mid-step and stares at me as though he’s surprised I’m there. Maybe he is. I point at my right eye. “I couldn’t help but notice you; it’s my amazing military training, see.”

He doesn’t crack a smile. He does step into the infirmary to sit next to my bed, though.

I tried telling the Yonk guy that I didn’t need a bed – I’d been asleep long enough, thank you very much – but he wouldn’t listen. I guess I should be glad that some things never change, such as doctors being overly picky about certain things, but somehow I’m…not.

Because other things do change and looking at Daniel, I don’t like it at all.

“How’d you come by that?”

His eyes come up to meet mine; he’s been studying the ever-fascinating infirmary floor. It’s famed for its many spots. “How’d I come by what?”

“The scar.” I point towards his cheek and resist the temptation to run my finger down it.

His hand comes up absently to touch it. It’s not bad for a scar; it’s long but it’s pretty thin, doesn’t really show that much. Gives Daniel more of a dangerous edge. “Oh that. Knife fight.”

I raise my eyebrows. “That doesn’t sound like your usual gig.”

He snorts. “That’s what I tried to tell the other guy. He didn’t really listen.”

I freeze in sudden fear. “This was off-world, right?”

He frowns in confusion. “Yeah. I haven’t developed a life during your absence, if that’s what you mean.”

I relax again, not quite sure why the idea of Daniel in some dark alley upsets me more than him being in a knife fight off-world.

“Sam kicked him in the nuts,” Daniel continues, “and I hit him over the head with a big stick, so it all worked out.”

That would be the reason of my dark alley jitters. No back-up. No Carter or Teal’c. They really are two very handy people to have in a fight, especially once every month.

I don’t want to be insensitive or anything, but…Teal’c’s grouchiness when missing the monthly Sci-Fi marathon? Not to be trifled with.

I try to come up with something to say that won’t convey some petty feelings of left-outness I’m (kind of) feeling but something that will convey me being proud, but draw a blank.

I know. But it does happen from time to time.

Daniel seems a bit awkward; he’s gone back to studying the floor again and suddenly it feels like we’re strangers. I haven’t changed, when would I have had the time?

But Daniel? Who knows what he’s been through while I was sleeping, in what ways he’s changed?

Things hadn’t been like this after he left for a year to go to shinier pastures, they were never awkward once he’d returned to NoGlow-land.

Do I really know him any more? Do I really know any of them anymore?

I’m getting into some rather non-positive thinking when Dr. Yonk comes in.

“A visitor, Colonel? I thought we agreed that you’d take it easy.”

I smile at him, making sure that I’m showing lots of teeth. Larger men have trembled at less and he just smiles right back. Annoying little bastard.

He turns his smile on Daniel. “Ah, Dr. Jackson. Feeling well, I hope?”

Daniel smiles back, but it’s just his polite smile. Hah. Take that, sucker. “I’m just fine, Dr. York.”

York, Yonk, yadda.

“Good.” He turns back to me, and his smile fades just a notch. Less than five hours and he already wishes he never laid eyes on me. I so haven’t lost my touch. “I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that you’re in perfect health, Colonel O’Neill.”

Time to put on some butter. I smile again, in my most sincere manner. “Well, in such competent care, how could I be any less?”

A choked off noise comes from Daniel’s direction, but I ignore him. I am sleeping in my own bed tonight, I’ve earned the right after eighteen freaking months on ice.

Yonk’s smile actually turns a bit warmer again. “I suspect you have the Asgard to thank for that, as well as the fact that you’re in good shape, Colonel.”

So *so* haven’t lost my touch. “You flatter me.”

Another sound comes from Daniel, but the doctor doesn’t seem to be noticing it. “Not at all. How are you feeling?”

I put on my Honest face, and if Daniel doesn’t stop sniggering, I swear to God I’m gonna punch him. “I’m feeling great, it’s just…” Just a long enough pause to get him to swallow the bait.

“Just…” he prompts.

“I’m feeling a bit cramped.”

“Aah, you want to go home, eh?” The doctor winks at me.

Okay, so maybe I’m not at my most subtle at the moment. I do still have a headache.

“I could go with him,” Daniel suddenly pipes up, “make sure he’s okay.”

From sniggering to helping out. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Daniel wants something. I study him closely, but his expression is perfectly bland yet sincere as he awaits an answer from the doctor.

The doctor looks hesitant. “I don’t know, Dr. Jackson…”

“He’s in perfect health and his next door neighbor is a doctor, in case of an emergency.” Still the sincere face, even though he’s lying through his teeth.

Yonk looks hard at me for a moment, and I try my best to look real…healthy. He finally releases a breath. “Oh, very well. But I want you to check in with me first thing in the morning.”

For letting me sleep at my own place? I’d personally arrive at his house and walk his dog. This time my smile is sincere. “Thanks, doc.”

He waves his hands at me dismissively. “Hurry out before I change my mind.”

And so we hurry.


Coming home has never been so sweet as it is now. Last time I was here, I was pretty sure it’d be the last time.

Sometimes being wrong really rocks.

Daniel closes the door behind us as I look around. Either they cleaned the place up while I was on base the past few hours or they’ve been keeping the place fresh while…

Either notion makes my throat scratchy, so I clear it and look at Daniel watching at me. “I’m going to bed. You want to crash on the couch or in the guestroom?”

“Couch will be fine.”

I nod and start walking towards my bedroom; he knows where to find pillows and covers. After a few steps I stop, sigh and turn around. “Okay, this is really freaking me out.”

Daniel looks around. “Yeah, it’s got to be weird coming back.”

I nod. “It is. Not as weird as talking to you, though.”

He raises his eyebrows. “I’m sorry?”

“See!” I point accusingly at him. “What’s that all about?”

Daniel looks bewildered. “What’s what about?”

“That polite thing!”

He’s frowning now. “I’d like to think I’ve always been polite.”

“To aliens and diplomats and politicians, maybe.”

“But…not to you?”


He gives me a strange look. “And this freaks you out.”



Ah, this is familiar territory. Daniel asking me things I don’t really know the answer to. Or things I know the answer to but am too uncomfortable to answer.

Normally, I just bunch those two categories together.

I shrug. “Because.”

He smiles at me and the rarity of that combined with the fact that it makes his scar show more clearly makes me cautious. “You really think I’ll let you get away with a ‘because’ after you tell me that I freak you out?”

I give him my best “I am your leader, you must obey me” look, but that works as well as it usually does. Sighing, I crank my neck, avoiding his eyes and noticing that my neck is feeling kind of stiff. “Because it makes me feel like I’ve been gone for a year and a half.”

“Jack,” he says slowly, “you *have* been gone for a year and a half.”

I look him in the eyes and shake my head. “No, Daniel, I *haven’t*.” Suddenly making him understand seems more important than anything else. “I’ve been gone a heartbeat, a second, a blink of an eye.” I walk forwards until I’m standing right in front of him. “I closed my eyes and then I opened them and then everything was different. Everything was…” I wave my hand in a vague direction of his scar. “…changed.”

He looks at me quietly for several long moments. Then, “Not that much has changed.”

I snort. “No, you’re just treating me like I’m a stranger.”

“How the hell do you want me to treat you?” His voice is low but angry. “For you, a second passed. For me, seventeen *months*, two weeks and five days passed, each one where I woke up wondering if this was the day we’d get a hold of the Asgard, or if they’d been extinguished by the Replicators, which was the popular theory on base at the time.”

He comes closer, crowding my space, eyes flashing. “Waking up, every day, wondering if it was a lost cause and we should just give up, or keep going for god knows how long.” He shakes his head angrily. “I’m not sure if I should hug you or punch you, so I’m sorry if me being polite upsets you.”

My heartbeat’s increased during his tirade and I would smile if I didn’t think that’d earn me that punch.

Now I recognize him.

“A hug would be nice.”

“A punch feels more appealing,” he says darkly.

Now I do smile at him, fondly. “Nah.” And then I hug him.

He’s all tense for a few seconds until he relaxes and carefully puts his arms around me, squeezing gently as though I’m made out of glass. I close my eyes and thank god that Daniel can’t see the undoubtedly mushy expression on my face. “Welcome back, Dr. Jackson.”

He laughs, blowing warm air into my ear. It tickles, but I don’t move. “Isn’t that my line?”

“Well, I’m not really much of a doctor, to be honest…”

I want to tell him that I missed him, even though I was only gone for a second, that I meant it when I kissed him back at the ship and that I’m glad that he didn’t change while I was gone, but before I have a chance to, his tongue is in my mouth and I pretty much forget my own name.

Daniel’s kissing me desperately; he’s holding my face still between his hands and shoving his tongue down my throat and I’m almost 100 percent sure that my pants weren’t this tight five seconds ago.

By the feel of it, Daniel’s having the same problem, and my theory is verified as he starts to rock against my thigh, moving urgently.

I might have been out of the loop for a while, but if my memory serves me right (which it might not, as my other mental capabilities are leaking south) this is moving kind of fast.

I cover the hands that are holding my head with my own and gently tug them down. When my head is free, I pull back, trying to resist the temptation of diving back in as Daniel follows with his eyes closed, blindly seeking my mouth.


“Mmm?” Tugging his hands downward might not have been the best idea as he starts unbuttoning my pants.

“You don’t think this is moving a bit fast?”

He pulls back so that I can actually see his face and not a Daniel-shaped blur and opens his eyes. “A year and a half, Jack.”

I can’t help it; I feel the happy smile tugging the corners of my mouth upwards before I can stop it. “No. Seventeen *months*, two weeks-“

“Oh, shut up…” He’s actually blushing.

“-and five days.”

“I just happened to look at the date today and do the math.”


“Can’t we just go back to the having sex part?”

I look at his dishevelled appearance; his shirt which has the top buttons undone (so, maybe I did some work of my own while he was working on my pants), his marvellously tight jeans that leave nothing to the imagination and…hell, even his shoes are a turn-on at the moment, especially when focusing on the part of removing them in order to get his pants off.

So I do, although I don’t get his pants off until we reach the bedroom, and then it was mostly his doing.

It’s quick, loud and messy and a very short amount of minutes later, Daniel’s lying on top of me, his breathing starting to slow down.

A couple of minutes pass before I break the silence. “I’ve changed my mind.”

Daniel rubs his head against my chest (something made possible by the fact that his glasses are lying somewhere on the floor). “About what?”

“About the politeness thing.”

“You want me to be polite to you?”

“I’m just saying I don’t mind when you are.”

“Polite to you.”


He considers this for a few moments, before pushing himself up and walking into the bathroom. He looks thoughtful as he comes out with a couple of towels. He cleans us both up while I shamelessly lay back and let him do all the work.

Finally, he speaks. “You liked the begging, didn’t you?”

“Oh yes.”

He dumps the towels next to the bed and smiles slowly at me. He gets back on the bed and straddles me, leaning down until we’re nose to nose.

“Jack,” he whispers against my mouth. “Please…”

God, it’s good to be home.


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