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A Life Unlived

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"Damnit, Jack!" Daniel slammed his hands down on the table in frustration. He exhaled heavily then lifted his head again to meet Jack’s eyes. "Do you ever take even just a second to consider things from anyone else's point of view?"

Jack met Daniel’s gaze, a thoughtful expression on his face, before he picked up one of the books from Daniel’s desk and started to flip through it. He rested one hip on the side of the table. “Depends on who the other person is and what the situation is.”

“Jack! Don’t pret…”

“Daniel,” Jack interrupted, innocent half-smile on his face as he continued to look at the book. “Are you talking hypothetically or…”

“Don’t be obtuse,” Daniel snapped and snatched the book out of Jack’s hands. “You know exactly what I’m talking about.” He put the book back down on the desk and scowled at Jack. “And don’t even try to pretend otherwise. “

“Ah, this is about yesterday. On PR4.” Jack nodded slowly. “OK fine, I’ll bite. No, Daniel, I did not stop to consider anyone else’s POV. Not when people’s lives, my team’s lives, your life is at stake. It was kill or let you get killed. No brainer.”

"You didn't have to storm in guns blazing. There are other ways to make yourself heard."

"So, I should have asked them nicely to release you and T? Just... hoped they weren't actually going to behead you?"

“Ye…”

“If the situation had been reversed?” Jack continued. “If Carter and I had been captured? Tell me what you would have done, Dr. Jackson? Cause I'm sure the executioner ready to cut that rope was going to listen to reason. I bet if you’d simply explained that it was all one big misunderstanding, maybe he would’ve let us go."

“He might have,” Daniel shot back, his voice rising. “You wouldn’t know because you never try it!”

“I don’t need to try it. I have too many years of experience that says it doesn’t work. I’m sorry, Daniel,” Jack sounded weary. “I wish it was different…” He shook his head and looked back at Daniel. “What if it had been Sha’re under the guillotine? What would you have done then?”

“I wouldn’t have let….” Daniel trailed off, opening and closing his mouth and staring at Jack. His chest felt tight, like he was winded, a knot growing in the pit of his stomach. He grabbed the edge of his desk, knuckles turning white, a muscle jumping in his cheek as he squared his jaw. “How dare you?” he growled. “You have no right, no fucking right to bring her into this. She has nothing to do with it. You leave her out of his!”

“I know. I’m just trying to…”

“Shut up, Jack!” He pushed back from the desk, hands curling into fists at his side. Kicking his chair to the side, he rounded the edge and slammed the palms of his hands into Jack’s shoulders; Jack stumbled back in surprise at the force of the shove. “How can you still attempt to justify your actions that way when it was your gun that killed Charlie?”

Hurt and anger warred on Jack’s face and he took a step towards Daniel, his eyes cold. Daniel stood his ground, arms crossed over his chest, staring Jack down but Jack continued to advance, grabbing him by his upper arms.

“Why you little…”

Daniel smiled coldly and broke Jack’s hold.

“Get out. I mean it, get the hell out of my office, O’Neill.” Jack stared back at Daniel for long moments before nodding sharply. He opened his mouth but shut it again without saying anything at the dark look Daniel shot him.

Daniel followed Jack, slamming the door shut behind him. He paced the length of his office, taking deep, slow breaths as he tried to calm himself, feeling the hurt, anger, and disbelief crashing through him. He couldn’t believe that Jack would use Sha’re like that, that Jack would even compare… He shook his head, trying to get his thoughts straight. He almost tripped over his chair and picked it up with hands shaking from adrenalin. Part of him knew he’d over-reacted, that he lashed out himself by bringing Charlie into the argument but he’d been unable to stop himself, anger coursing through him. Straightening his desk, he sank into the chair and held his head in his hands, taking another deep breath.

“Sometimes,” he muttered to himself, lifting his head and looking around his office, “I think my life would be so much easier if I’d never heard of the Stargate or met Jack O’Neill.”

Daniel did not see the eyes of the statue on the shelf behind him flashing bright green.

*****

“Nice of you to join us, Colonel,” Hammond said dryly as Jack closed the door to the conference room.

“Sorry, Sir.” Jack had the grace to look abashed as he took his seat. “I got he…” He paused as he sat down and looked around the table. “Where’s Daniel?”

“We thought he was with you, Sir,” replied Carter.

Jack shook his head. “Nope. Haven’t seen him since last night.”

“It is most unusual for DanielJackson to be late,” Teal’c observed.

Carter flipped through the pages of the file in front of her. “He probably just got caught up translating the glyphs on the artefacts that SG-11 brought back and lost track of time.”

“Yeah, they do look fascinating,” Jack deadpanned as he stood back up. “I’ll go check his office.” Tucking his hands into his pockets, Jack crossed the room again and made his way to Daniel’s office. He stood outside the door, half-dreading another confrontation like the previous night before shaking his head and pushing it open.

Daniel’s office was empty. Not even a sign that he’d been there that morning, no empty coffee cups on the table, no fresh pot of coffee. His chair had been righted and his desk looked as tidy as it ever did, but there was no Daniel. Jack frowned and picked up the phone, putting a call through to security.

“It’s Colonel O’Neill. Has Dr. Jackson signed in this morning? Yes, Daniel Jackson. He hasn’t? OK, did he sign out last night? What time? OK, thanks.”

Jack frowned as he disconnected the call. He tucked the receiver under his chin and quickly dialled Daniel’s apartment. A pre-recorded voice told him that the number he had dialled was not in service. His frown deepened and he redialled, slower this time, but got the same recorded message. A third call ended just the same.

Swearing, Jack dropped the receiver back into the cradle and all but ran back to the conference area. “Sir, we may have a problem,” he reported. “Daniel hasn’t signed in this morning. He signed out last night, but much later than is normal, even for him. I just tried to call him and his number doesn’t work. Permission to...”

“Granted, Colonel.” Hammond turned to Carter. “Major Carter, I want you to…”

“Check for any unusual activity happening last night. On it, Sir.”

“I will gather a security team and search the mountain,” Teal’c stated.

Hammond nodded sharply at Teal’c. “SG-6 are on stand-down. Take Fischer and Miller with you.”

“I’ll contact you with a sitrep when I get to Daniel’s apartment, Sir,” Jack said as he left the conference room again.

*****

Jack pulled into the apartment building’s parking garage with a screech of tires. One of the first things he noticed was that Daniel's car was not in its assigned space, and the low-level concern he’d had all morning ramped up a notch. If Daniel were there, he’d have laughed and said Jack’s spidey senses were tingling.

“Where the hell are you, Daniel?” Jack muttered to himself. He locked the car and crossed the garage, taking the stairs two at a time as he climbed up to Daniel’s floor. He rapped sharply on Daniel’s door, frowning at the sounds he could hear coming from the other side; sounds that most decidedly did not sound like his archaeologist. No, sounds that were much more like cartoons or children playing. He raised his hand to knock again when the door was flung open by a flustered looking red-headed woman with a child peering through her legs.

“What?” she snapped, looking Jack up and down.

Jack met her gaze calmly, a diplomatic smile on his face. “Ah, sorry, Ma’am. Think I must have got the wrong apartment.” He took a step back, smile falling. The sign on the door definitely said he was in front of apartment 406. He grabbed hold of the door before the woman could slam it in his face. “Look, I’m sorry. This is 406, right? I’m looking for Daniel… Dr. Daniel Jackson?”

The woman shook her head. “Never heard of him,” she replied and Jack’s concern flipped straight into worry with a hint of fear.

“Guess he must’ve given me the wrong address.” He waved and said hi to the little girl who was watching him from behind her mother’s legs. “She’s cute,” he told the red-haired woman. “So how long have you lived here?” he asked, conversationally, leaning against the wall and looking past them into the apartment; while it had the same basic layout as Daniel’s, the décor was definitely not his.

“Oh, about five or six years. We moved in just before the twins were born.” A crashing sound came from in the room, followed by tears. The woman looked back over her shoulder. “I have to go. It sounds like this Daniel guy’s given you the slip. I’m sorry but… I can’t help you.” She closed the door and Jack swore and punched the wall.

He knew he was in the right building, knew he was at the right door, knew he was standing in front of Daniel’s apartment, where Daniel had lived for the last four years. He’d been there often enough and this was not the kind of mistake he’d make. So why the hell was this woman saying she’d lived there for six years, why was Daniel’s phone disconnected and where the fuck was Daniel?

Jack had a really bad feeling about this. Feeling a headache brewing behind his eyes, he made a mental note to get someone to check the phone and housing records. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and dialled General Hammond’s number.

“We… have a problem, Sir,” he confirmed reluctantly, making his way back down the stairs to his truck as he spoke. “I’m on my way back to the mountain and I’ll apprise you of the situation when I get back.”

*****

“I stopped to check in with the building superintendent on my way back here. He confirmed the woman’s story; she’s lived there for six years. Prior to that was an elderly woman who moved to a care home. It makes zero sense, Sir, because that’s exactly who was in there before Daniel.”

“That’s just not possible,” Hammond frowned and looked around the table. “How can Dr. Jackson have just vanished like this?”

“I was in DanielJackson’s apartment last week,” Teal’c commented. “There were no other people living there.”

“We were all there,” Jack snapped in frustration. He tilted his head back and stared at the ceiling. “We’ve all been to Daniel’s apartment. He can’t have just dropped off the face of the earth, Hammond’s right; people don’t just disappear and have their lives…” He trailed off. “Carter?

Carter nodded. “I reached out to Dad, but the Tok’ra haven’t heard any chatter about any new plots against us, no threats against Daniel. I’ll speak to him again and give him the latest intel.” She didn’t sound convinced and she fiddled with the file in front of her. “There were a couple of energy spikes in Daniel’s office last night, they all barely lasted a nanosecond and I don’t recognise their patterns. I’ve given the details to Dad and I’ve got a team trying to ascertain what it came from, but there’s so much… uh…” She paused and ducked her head. “You know… stuff in there that it’s going to take a while to pinpoint the source.”

“What aren’t you telling us, Sam?” Jack prompted gently.

Carter bit her lip, hesitating before she continued. “His office didn’t look quite right. There’s nothing specific I can put my finger on but it felt like there was… like there was more order and less chaos, almost like it was neater and less cluttered. It also gave me a weird feeling, like I was being watched. Something in there put the hairs on the back of my neck up and put my stomach in knots. I don’t really know how else to describe it and I don’t even know if I’m right.”

Jack looked thoughtful; he’d felt the same sensation in there last night and again this morning. He wondered if that same something had caused him and Daniel to fight – or at least exacerbated it. They were both out of character and Jack knew it.

“So, is it possible that something, that one of the many artefacts Dr Jackson has collected in his office is the cause of all of this?” Hammond asked.

“It’s possible, Sir,” Carter nodded. “We just don’t know what ‘this’ is.”

“Do you have any theories at this point, Major?”

“No, Sir,” Carter admitted reluctantly, dropping her gaze to her hands. “I don’t.”

Hammond frowned and opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by a knock at the briefing room door. He looked over and beckoned Walter in.

“Sorry to interrupt, but I think I may have found something, Sir.”

Jack on was on his feet so quickly his chair crashed over behind him and he whirled on Walter. “You think you might have found something? Well, which is it, Harriman? Have you found Daniel or not?”

Hammond also stood and quickly walked over, moving to stand between Walter and Jack. “Jack,” he warned. Teal’c and Carter had also risen and were watching, warily, ready.

“O’Neill, you should let him speak,” Teal’c said calmly

Jack pursed his lips and shook his head but stepped back, righted his chair, and sat down again.

“I can come back if this isn’t a good time,” Walter offered but Hammond shook his head.

“On the contrary, this is a very good time. Please, show us what you’ve found.”

“Yes, Sir.” Walter, Teal’c and Carter all sat back down around the table and Walter started to speak. “I have found a Dr. Daniel Jackson who is an Anthropology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts.” He opened up a file and passed around a couple of sheets of paper. “He looks like our Dr. Jackson and reading some of his papers, he sounds like ours. His area of expertise is Ancient Egypt; he has all the same formal qualifications and speaks all the same Earth-based languages.”

Jack frowned and stared at the photo in his hands. “Let me guess, he’s been teaching back East for, say, five years?”

“This makes no sense,” Carter said as she read through the file. “This Dr. Jackson’s backstory is exactly the same as Daniel’s; his parents – same names – were killed in an accident setting up an Egyptian museum exhibit, Nick – again, the same name – rejected him and he grew up jumping around foster care. He even had the same theories about the pyramids as alien landing platforms and was laughed out of academia. Except, instead of coming to work for the SGC, he disappeared for a year only to reappear in Boston.” She pushed the folder across the table and leaned back in her chair, a thoughtful expression on her face. “Is anyone else thinking an alternate reality?”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Jack agreed unhappily. “But how? And why does it only appear to have affected Daniel?”

“And how have we all got here? Or there as the case would be. Everyone we’ve spoken to in the SGC recalls Dr. Jackson, it’s the outside world that seems affected,” Hammond pointed out.

Carter started to reply before shaking her head. “I don’t know, Sir. It wouldn’t be the first time something has started with the ‘gate and spread out. Think about how the black hole’s effect grew over time.”

“If we are in fact in another reality, would we not be suffering the effects of entropic cascade?”

Jack pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead as Sam started to reply. “The thought had crossed my mind. And if we were in a reality where none of us existed here, then we wouldn’t be all still sitting here; we would have been captured by the actual command of the base.”

“So probably not an alternate universe then?” Jack offered. He exhaled slowly. “Has anything else in our lives altered or is this some weird old anomaly centred around Daniel Jackson?”

“If I may, Sir – another thing to consider would be whether or not this Daniel in Massachusetts is aware of anything… unusual happening in the last day or so.”

Jack rubbed his hands together. “Well, why don’t we just go and ask the guy?”

*****

Daniel sifted through the piles of papers he was grading to pull out the book he needed, absentmindedly pushing his glasses up as he turned the pages to the marked quote he wanted. He frowned and muttered under his breath, then grabbed a pen and made some quick notes. He was days behind in both the book he was trying to finish writing and the grading he needed to finish before the end of the semester. But, as usual, he was distracted and trying to get too many things done at the same time

Sighing and rubbing the back of his neck, he flipped the page over on the essay and dropped the book back down on the stack he’d picked it up from, but it slid off and sent everything crashing to the ground.

“Damnit,” he muttered and pushed himself to his feet. He managed to knock another pile of books and papers, and his coffee mug to the floor where it shattered. Daniel swore under his breath, relieved that it was at least empty and he wouldn’t be handing anyone’s work back coffee stained. He was on his hands and knees, picking things up when there was a knock at his door. “Come in,” he called without looking up.

He listened for the sound of footsteps and the door closing but before he could say anything further, an unfamiliar female voice asked, “Dr. Jackson?”

“Yeah,” he confirmed. “I’ll be with you in just a second.” He continued sorting out the books and papers and dumped the largest bits of broken crockery in the trash. “Clean that up properly tomorrow,” he told himself. “Finish the papers first.” Gathering an armful of books, he stood up and placed them, still precariously, on his desk then wiped his dusty hands on the leg of his jeans. “Hi. What can I do…” he trailed off as he looked at a bemused-looking woman with short blonde hair wearing a military uniform. His eyebrows climbed and he licked his lips. “Um. Hi.”

“Hi. Dr. Jackson? Dr. Daniel Jackson?” Daniel nodded and she smiled and held her hand out to him. Daniel shook it automatically, forehead creasing into a frown. “Major Samantha Carter, US Air Force.”

“Major Carter.” He shook himself. “Sorry, sorry. Where are my manners?” He grabbed a small bronze statue from a chair and placed it on an already fully-loaded shelf. “Please, have a seat. What… ah… what brings the Air Force to my office?”

“We were hoping you could help us with these.” Sam sat down, gesturing for Daniel to do the same. She handed him a couple of glossy photos. “We need them translated. The archaeologist on the project, Dr. Rothman, has been unable to complete his translations and recommended you, said you were one of the best linguists he knew.”

Daniel took the pictures and started flipping through them, lips moving wordlessly as he read the glyphs. His head shot up and he stared at Major Carter. “Really? Rothman said that?”

“You seem surprised.”

“We didn’t exactly part on the best of terms,” Daniel admitted. He ran his finger over one of the photos, leaned forward to look at it closer. “Where did you find these? They’re fascinating. It’s a dialect I’ve never seen before, almost a mix of Egyptian and Babylonian but there’s a rhythm, a pattern that could almost be Aramaic.”

Major Carter shook her head. “I’m sorry, Dr. Jackson. I can’t tell you anything about the site; it’s classified. But yes, Dr. Rothman was very insistent that you were the best person to translate these, despite his reservations on some of your theories. His words.”

Daniel laughed self-deprecatingly. “Just as long as you’re not going to tell me this has anything to do with aliens using the pyramids as landing platforms for spaceships.” He stood and grabbed a book from his shelf and flipped through it, muttering under his breath. “This,” he pointed at the picture, “seems to reference Hathor. Something about cattle and/or slaves for the Goddess. And this bit here ‘a doorway to heaven’. No, not heaven, to the stars. The Goddess coming through the gate of stars or… possibly the Stargate.” He frowned and shook his head. “I mean, that’s only a rough overview. There are symbols here, here, and here that I didn’t recognise, and this bit here makes no sense in the context so I’d need to spend more time to properly translate it. And if you could tell me anything about the site, about any of the surroundings, that would really help me to pull it all together.” He looked up at Major Carter earnestly. “Major Carter?” he prompted, eyebrows drawn together in confusion at the almost sad, wistful expression on her face.

“Sorry, sorry, I was…” Major Carter shook his herself. “I really can’t tell you anything more at this point, Dr Jackson, although I can speak to my superiors and see if I can read you in on the project.” She smiled, almost fondly. “I can certainly see why Rothman spoke so highly of you. Catherine Langford, too, when she heard his recommendation.”

Daniel blinked rapidly. “Catherine did? She’s involved in this,” he gestured from the pictures to Major Carter, “’project’ you mentioned?” Major Carter nodded and Daniel looked thoughtful. “You know, she approached me after… ah… after ‘the incident’,” Major Carter nodded and Daniel continued. “She offered me a job. A translation job. Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” He paused, tongue sticking out between his lips, right hand raising subconsciously, index finger raised. “And it was connected to the Air Force. This… wouldn’t happen to be connected, would it?” Daniel’s eyebrows rose and he shrugged one shoulder.

Major Carter smiled enigmatically and Daniel nodded. “No, let me guess. It’s classified. I’ll take that as a yes. But what could possibly interest the Air Force about ancient Egypt?”

“What did you do instead?” Major Carter asked, surprising Daniel. His eyebrows shot up. “I’m sorry, that was random, I know. I’m a physicist as well as being in the Air Force,” she explained. “I’ve published papers and given lectures, the same as you, and I can’t imagine what I’d do if I lost that.”

“I took some private tutoring jobs, history and languages mostly.” Daniel picked up an onyx paperweight, turning it over in his hands as he spoke. “Various rich families who overlooked my more ‘out-there’ theories in favor of my rates and availability and the languages I spoke. I got my feet back under me, grew my confidence back up, forced myself to forget all about aliens and I’ve been here for the last five years, teaching and writing a new book.”

“Just one more question and then I’ll leave you in peace. Have you noticed anything strange in the last couple of days, anything odd, or out of the ordinary?”

“Like what?”

“Anything at all.”

Daniel shook his head. “Not that I can think of, no. What’s this about?”

Major Carter reached over and picked up the pictures that were spread in front of Daniel, tucked them back into the folder and put them back into her bag. She smoothed her skirt down then shook Daniel’s hand again. “Thank you for your time and help, Dr. Jackson. I’ll be in touch if there’s anything further we need from you.” She turned and walked out of Daniel’s office before he had time to reply.

Daniel sat back down, pushed his glasses up, and rubbed his eyes. “What the hell just happened?”

*****

“I don’t know how to explain it, Sir.” Sam paced the length of the briefing room as she spoke. “It was Daniel. He’s Daniel. Everything about him: his body language, the tone of his voice, the way he worked. Except he didn’t know who I was. He turned down Catherine’s offer and never joined the SGC. He could translate the sample of Goa’uld with ease like he’d been speaking it for years, but there was no recognition at the mention of the Stargate. If… If that’s not Daniel, it’s a really good clone. Thor has assured me it’s not the work of the Asgard, but a clone wouldn’t explain how our Daniel has disappeared and everyone else has completely different memories of the last five years.”

“Sit down, Carter,” Jack growled, frustrated. “You’re making me dizzy.”

“Yes, Sir.” Sam sat down, elbows resting on the table. “It’s feeling more and more like we’re in some kind of an alternate reality. A timeline divergence. It is possible that there is a version of Daniel in another reality who didn’t join the SGC but what that theory doesn’t explain is what’s happened to our Daniel or where this reality's versions of us are. It's almost like two - or maybe even more - realities have got tangled together somehow."

“Could our DanielJackson have found his way to this other DanielJackson’s timeline?”

“I suppose it’s possible,” Sam agreed.

Jack scowled “We haven’t come across another quantum mirror,” he pointed out.

“No,” Sam said slowly. “We haven’t. But this alternate Daniel could have, without knowing it. Or it could be something completely different.”

“Have your team had any luck identifying any artifact in Dr Jackson’s office that may have caused the energy spikes you mentioned?” Hammond asked.

Sam shook her head. “No, Sir. Dr. Rothman is helping us try to narrow it down but he says he finds Daniel’s cataloguing to be… ah… unique.” Jack snorted despite himself and Sam couldn’t help but smile. “I’m starting to think that it’s quite likely that if the anomaly did occur in our reality then it was most likely related to the spike.” She bit her lip, unwilling to voice her worries that an event in the other reality had caused the crossing of the timelines.

“Alright. I think that needs to be our priority, don’t you?” Hammond waited for Sam to nod before continuing. “Focus your team, and Dr. Rothman, on trying to find the source of this spike. And I want to know whether it’s even possible for alternate timelines to become tangled together. Reach out to any of our allies who may be able to help us, use all resources available to you, Major.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“In the meantime, until we get to the bottom of this, I do not want any further contact with the Dr. Jackson who is currently in Amherst.” Hammond paused, sighed when none of the team responded. “Is that clear?”

“Yeah, sure, youbetcha.” Jack’s replied dripped with sarcasm and he pushed his chair back, excusing himself from the meeting.

Sam watched him leave. “He’s going to Massachusetts, isn’t he?” She sighed.

Teal’c inclined his head. “Indeed.”

*****

“Last week,” Daniel stated as he pushed open the lecture hall door, juggling his books and bag, “we concluded looking at domestic legal order, capital punishment, and law enforcement killing. Today I want us to start looking further afield, studying the transnational use of armed force, that is killings by military combatants in war, and killings in the “war on terror.” He dropped his armful of books onto his desk and looked around the hall, quickly counting the students. He frowned when he realised there was an extra body and scanned the room again, his eyes landing on an older man sitting in the back. Why, he wondered, would someone join part way through the course? And this guy didn’t look like most of his students – he was probably in his 50s, grey hair, leather jacket. He wasn’t anyone Daniel recognised from the faculty either and he didn’t think he was due for an evaluation. Making a mental note to keep an eye on the guy, Daniel shrugged out of his jacket.

“We want to, at the most basic level, answer the question of whether it is morally just to kill in combat. We will be exploring civil wars versus international humanitarian law, critiquing the privilege to kill in combat, the plasticity of international law and the legality of war and considering the war on terror and use of drones. To start us off, we need to clarify here what we mean by ‘war’ and to that extent, at the end of our last session, I asked you to prepare your own definition. Who’s going to define war for us? Anna?” He nodded at a girl sitting in the third row when she raised her hand.

“A war is an advanced state of hostility between two parties, be they people/states/nations. Usually involving weapons,” Anna replied.

“Well that’s…. definitely the dictionary definition,” Daniel agreed, prompting a few chuckles. “But what does it actually mean?” He moved to stand in front of his desk and leaned back against it, bracing himself against it. A small smile played on his lips as the class started to all speak at once. Daniel let the wall of sound wash over him, picking out the pertinent words and phrases to use. He was about to speak up and move the discussion on when he felt an intense gaze on him. Looking up, he met the eyes of the grey-haired man who had his elbow propped up, chin in his hands and was watching him carefully. Daniel raised an eyebrow in question. The man simply smiled enigmatically back at him and Daniel was struck by the strangest sensation that he should know who this man was. He was good with faces though and didn’t recognise him – brown eyes like that weren’t ones he’d have forgotten. He shook himself and turned his attention back to the discussion.

“The main point I want us to remember,” Daniel’s voice broke through the debate and the room settled slightly. “is that war is a state of armed conflict between societies, generally characterised by extreme aggression, destruction, and mortality, using military forces. As interesting as it is, the etymology, philosophy and history and varying types of war aren’t relevant – although,” he held his hand up, “if we have time, we can discuss them later. Conflict. Aggression. Mortality. Armed military forces. The military, we are told, kill to protect our nation. But the questions we’re asking today is are they lawful killings? And is killing in war morally just?”

He paused and looked around the room, letting the questions sink in. He opened his mouth to continue but was interrupted by a voice from the back of the room, by the grey-haired man.

“I think a more practical question would be ‘Is it immoral to kill civilians in war?’”

The room fell silent and Daniel could feel everyone’s eyes on him. He tipped his head to one side and considered the grey-haired man careful. “That,” he said slowly, “is a very important point, and one that has become more so in recent years as the ways in which wars are fought have changed drastically.” He turned back to face his students. “At the beginning of the twentieth century, only ten to fifteen percent of those who died in war were civilians. In contrast, by the end of the century, over seventy-five percent of those killed in war were civilians. The Geneva Convention states that civilians are not to be subject to attack. This includes direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks against areas in which civilians are present.”

The grey-haired man spoke up again. “The general rule is that only those people fighting you are legitimate targets of attack. Those who are not fighting should not be attacked as this would violate their human rights. There are two main principles,” he continued, ticking them off on his fingers. “One: it is unjust to attack civilians. Two: it is unjust to attack indiscriminately, as civilians may be killed. But the problem, Professor, is how do you know who is and isn’t a civilian?”

Daniel’s eyebrows rose at the challenge. “Members of the military are generally easily identifiable as are guerillas forces,” he replied.

“Not all combatants are in uniform. What about the guy at the end of the road who’s started shooting at you. Has he taken up arms in the conflict, or is he firing in self-defense?”

Daniel dipped his head in acknowledgement. “Citizens of a neutral country.”

“Unless they do something incompatible with their neutral status - like fighting for one of the armies involved in the conflict as a mercenary soldier.”

“Then they’re not neutral,” Daniel countered. “What about the elderly, the sick, or children?”

“Ah, but children were historically used as powder monkeys on warships and third world armies are rife with child soldiers.”

“International conventions specify that countries should not allow children under fifteen to participate in hostilities or to be recruited into the armed forces.”

“Yeah, those same conventions also established protection for wounded soldiers, but that doesn’t stop armies making a point of butchering their enemies wounded or those who surrendered. Last time I checked torture was illegal, but that still happens to prisoners of war.”

Something in the guy’s voice made Daniel’s stomach clench and he frowned. “OK,” he said, “as fascinating as this is, we’ve veered vastly off topic here. Anyone else bring us back on track?”

“But, Professor?”

Daniel looked up at the purple-haired girl who’d spoken. “Yes, Mary?”

“Couldn’t you make an argument that anyone who’s in a war zone is contributing to the war effort in some manner, even just by keeping the local economy afloat?”

*****

The grey-haired man was there when Daniel got to his office after the lecture, leaning against the wall next to the door, two cups of coffee in his hands. Daniel greeted him as he unlocked the door and he followed Daniel in.

“Here you go, Professor,” he said, handing Daniel one of the coffee cups. He moved a pile of papers from the chair and sat down.

“Daniel,” Daniel corrected, as he cleared a space on his desk for his bag and the coffee. “You’re not one of my students so there’s no need to call me professor,” he explained.

“OK. Daniel. Hi,” the grey-haired man repeated. “I’m Jack.”

“Hi, Jack.” Amused, Daniel dropped into his chair and sipped his coffee. His eyebrows shot up at the taste; it was exactly how he liked it. Jack smirked at him and Daniel took another mouthful. “How…”

Jack leaned back in the chair and crossed his ankles. “It’s my superpower.”

Daniel snorted in laughter. “You asked the barista in the coffee shop?”

“Yeah, OK, that too.”

“Why were you in my class this morning?” Daniel asked. “You’re not the usual type of person I expect to find in a Social Thought lecture”

“That’s close-minded,” Jack replied slowly. “Maybe I was in the area and thought it sounded interesting.”

“I don’t believe you.” Daniel put his cup down and leaned forward, elbows on his table and stared at Jack. “You’re military, that much is clear, or were at the very least. I’m gonna take a leap of intuition here and say you’re Air Force.”

“Am I?”

Daniel snorted and shook his head. “We both know you are, Jack, so stop playing games. It doesn’t take a genius to work it out, not after Major Carter paid me a visit last week and now you turn up in a class that just happens to be about military action.”

“And I suppose you are?” Jack picked up a small pewter figurine from Daniel’s desk and made a show of examining it.

Daniel blinked. “You suppose I am what?”

“A genius.”

“Well, yes, actually, I am. But that’s irrelevant. Either answer the question or put that down and get out of my office, I’ve got work to do.”

Jack nodded and opened his mouth to reply, then stopped, licked his lips and pulled a face. “It’s…”

“Classified.” Daniel filled in. “Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.”

“I’d apologize but uh… I can tell you that my Commanding Officer told me not to come here. That after Major Carter’s visit we were explicitly told not to make any further contact with you.”

“And yet here you are.”

“Here I am,” Jack agreed. “Would you believe me if I said I never was any good at following orders?”

Daniel paused before answering and looked carefully at Jack. He chuckled. “Actually yes, I would.” He leaned back in his chair and picked a pen up, twirling it between his fingers. “So, if you were told not to make any further contact… can I assume that whatever interest the Air Force may, or may not, have had in me is now concluded?”

Before Jack had a chance to reply, there was a knock at the office door and a young, brunette, girl stepped in. She looked between Jack and Daniel and bit her lip. “Dr. Jackson, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I…”

Daniel glanced at his watch. “No, it’s fine, Emily. We said one o’clock so come on in, I’ll just be a second.” He turned to Jack apologetically.

Jack nodded and held his hand up, stopping Daniel in his tracks. “Your students come first,” He stood up and made his way to the door, stopping and looking back over his shoulder. “I’ll be seeing you around, Dr. Jackson."

“Hey, Jack, you play chess?”

“Yup.”

“Meet me tomorrow; say six o’clock in the coffee shop?”

*****

Running. Screaming. Blood. Pain. Racing through trees, being chased. Jack on his heels, firing at someone, at something behind them. Ra. Apophis, with glowing eyes and a reverberating voice. Major Carter yelling his name. A gun in his hands, firing calmly on a tank of larvae then only resignation as he watched them die.

“Sha’re!” Daniel woke with a cry, tears drying on his cheeks. His heart was pounding and his chest heaving as he panted. His back was clammy with cold sweat, his pillows tossed around the bed and his sheets were tangled around his feet. He ran a shaky hand through his hair and exhaled slowly. “What the hell?”

Lying back down, Daniel tried to calm himself but all he could see in his mind’s eye was himself, holding a gun, watching those creatures die. Reaching for his glasses, he put them on and blinked at the clock as the numbers swam into focus. He groaned at the time and flopped down again, one arm over his eyes. What the hell had he been dreaming about? Too much time discussing the military and killings in war, probably.

“I don’t think you’re getting back to sleep now,” he muttered to himself. He climbed out of bed and made his way to the bathroom, used the toilet, then splashed his face with cold water. Cleaning a few droplets of water off his glasses, Daniel walked into the kitchen and turned the coffee machine on, then grabbed a book, a pencil, and a notepad before curling up on his couch.

*****

“You look like crap,” Jack observed as he slid into the booth opposite Daniel.

“Hello to you, too, Jack.” Daniel replied dryly. He closed his book and pushed a mug of coffee across the table. “And to think I got you a coffee.”

“Aw, you shouldn’t have.” Jack leaned back in the seat; one arm stretched out and took a drink. His narrowed his eyes at Daniel and took another mouthful. “And how, Dr. Jackson, did you know how I liked my coffee?”

Daniel shrugged one shoulder; he had no way to explain it, he just knew. “It’s my superpower.” Jack chuckled at the response. “You look like a no-frills coffee kinda guy. And if you weren’t, it was easily doctored.”

“True.” Jack picked up the menu. “So, what’s up with you?”

Daniel bit his thumbnail and wrinkled his nose. “Nothing,” he shook his head. “Just… Didn’t sleep well and it’s been a long day. I don’t really want to talk about it.” He drained his coffee cup and reached over to pull a travel chess set out of his bag. “Chess?”

There was a hopeful note to Daniel’s tone and Jack nodded. “Sure.” He moved his mug and the menu to one side and sat forward, elbow on the table. Daniel set the board up, moving his books and mug to the edge of the table. Black ink on a white napkin caught Jack’s attention and he pulled it from under the book.

“Interesting doodles.”

“Huh?” Daniel looked up from the board. “Oh, them?”

“Yeah, them. What are they?” Jack turned the napkin around in his hands before laying it down flat. “Constellations?” He traced one with his finger. “Yeah, this is Orion.”

“Is it? I don’t know, maybe?” Daniel frowned; why did it seem like Jack was far too interested in some doodles he’d absent-mindedly drawn on a napkin. “They’re nothing. I was just doodling while I was reading.”

“This one looks like the sun over a pyramid.”

One of Daniel’s eyebrows rose. “Breaking news: Egyptologist found drawing pyramids!” Daniel picked the napkin up and screwed it into a ball. “Jack, Ancient Egyptian archeology is kinda my specialty,” he said slowly. “Which the Air Force – and that means you – already knows. It’s hardly shocking. I’ve been known to sketch hieroglyphs when my mind wanders.” He glanced down at the board and moved his pawn. “Your move.”

Jack’s brow furrowed and he stared at Daniel long enough that Daniel started to feel uncomfortable, fought the urge to fidget under the scrutiny. “OK,” Jack said finally and looked down at the board, selecting his piece.

“So, Jack.” Daniel made his next move and leaned back in the seat. He caught the attention of the waitress and ordered more coffee. “What do you do when you’re not sneaking into my classes?”

“I wanted to ask you about that; The Laws of Violence seems like a strange course for an archeologist to be teaching.”

Daniel nodded and ran an index finger under his nose. “Yeah, I get that. I’ve got a doctorate in Anthropology as well and I’m reading Philosophy. It interests me from a cultural perspective.”

“Ah.” Jack folded his fingers and mused on the board before making his move. “So basically, you’re a geek.”

A surprised laugh escaped Daniel. “Basically, yeah. You didn’t answer my question though.”

“No,” Jack agreed. “I didn’t. Can’t talk about work, it’s classified but you know that.” Daniel nodded and Jack took his turn, gesturing to Daniel. Jack started talking about his interest in astronomy, ice hockey and The Simpsons, and they fell into an easy, companionable conversation over several games of chess

“Uh, Dr. Jackson?”

Daniel looked up, pushing his glasses up and rubbing an eye. “Alex, hi,” he greeted.

“I’m sorry but we’re... we’re kinda closing, it’s after midnight and uhh…”

“And you need us to leave,” Jack finished.

“I hadn’t realized that was the time,” Daniel apologized. “We’ll just be a second while we pack up.”

“Thanks.” Alex flashed them a grateful smile as he walked away and Daniel swore, making Jack laugh.

“Like you’ve never lost track of time when working?”

“When working, sure. But like this…” Daniel gestured around the coffee shop. “No…” He shook his head. “I think it was exactly what I needed though,” he said around a yawn as he put the chess case back in his back. “Thank you.”

“No problem.” They both exited the coffee shop, leaving a generous tip on the table. Jack looked up at the stars, then back at Daniel and rubbed the back of his neck. “You wanna get a drink or something?”

Daniel looked thoughtful before shaking his head, regretful expression on his face. “I can’t. I’ve got an early class tomorrow, Artifacts of Ancient Americas.” He chuckled at the disgusted look on Jack’s face. “It’s not that bad!” He shifted his bag on his shoulder. “When are you heading back west?”

“In another day or so. You want me to kick your ass at chess some more tomorrow?”

“I can’t tomorrow night, but how about Saturday afternoon?” Jack nodded and Daniel couldn’t help but smile; he couldn’t explain it but he liked spending time with Jack, it felt comfortable, like he’d known the guy forever. “OK cool. I’ll see you then. Bye, Jack.”

“See ya, Daniel.”

*****
Running. Screaming. Blood. Pain. Racing through trees, being chased. Staff blasts stirring up rocks and dust. Jack on his heels, firing at the Jaffa behind them. Ra. Apophis. Amonet taking Sha’re as host. Sam yelling his name, tears in her eyes. The very young do not always do as they are told. Thor. Hathor’s lips on his. The Destroyer Of Worlds. Trapped in Ma’chello’s body. Being driven insane. Teal’c killing Sha’re. Shifu. Taking over the world. Jack. Sam. Teal'c. Janet. Sha're.

Daniel tossed his head from side to side, yelling out in his sleep before jerking awake. He bolted upright, panting. His hair was stuck to his scalp with sweat and he scrubbed a shaky hand over his face. Licking his lips, he swung his legs around to sit on the edge of the mattress and grabbed the phone. He rubbed an old scar on his shoulder as he dialed Jack’s number.

“What the fuck is going on, Jack?” he demanded, as soon as the phone was answered.

“Daniel?” Jack’s voice was rough with sleep. “I didn’t give you my number.”

“You didn’t need to give me your number,” Daniel shot back. “I know it. I’ve known it, known you for years. But I only met you last week. I remember… I remem… what the fuck? Jack, I…”

“I’ll be right there, Danny” Jack promised, sounding much more awake.

Daniel was pacing when Jack's rental pulled up outside and he'd opened the door before he could knock. Jack raised a six pack of beer in greeting and Daniel nodded, stepped aside and waved him in. "I never gave you my address."

“No,” Jack agreed as he grabbed one of the barstools at the breakfast bar. “You didn’t.”

Daniel sat next to him and opened a beer. “But you’ve been spying on me, so of course you knew. How long?”

“Since you went missing. About two weeks.”

“I’m not missing. I’m right here. I’ve been here for years. But I’ve been with the SGC for years. And, somehow, I have memories of both. Which makes no sense.” He shook his head. “Alternate universe?”

Jack dipped his head. “Carter’s theorizing about some kind of timeline convergence. All we really know is that two weeks ago, you disappeared completely off record only to have been here for years.”

“Huh. And when Sam came out here last week?”

“We had to see if you were our Daniel.”

Daniel drained his beer and looked at Jack. “I think I am.” Jack nodded and Daniel sighed, then tipped his head back and stared at the ceiling. “You said General Hammond ordered you not to contact me.”

“Yup.”

“But you’re here.”

“Had to see for myself.”

Daniel nodded. “Of course you did. So, timeline convergence?”

“Carter says there were some energy spikes, thinks something in your office caused it.”

Daniel grabbed a second beer, turning the bottle round in his hands. “Those energy spikes, did they happen the night we argued about PR4?”

“You have a theory?”

“Possibly.” Daniel frowned. “I think maybe… but I need to speak to Sam.” He pushed the unopened bottle across the table and pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead. “Jack, for what it’s worth, what I said that night, about Charlie? I was out of line. I didn’t even mean it and I’m sorry.”

Jack nodded and took a long swallow of beer. “Yeah, me too.”

*****

"Daniel!" Sam all but jumped from the chair, sending it rolling backwards as she pulled him into a quick hug. "We were so worried about you!"

“Hey, Major… um… Sam.” Daniel hugged her back awkwardly before stepping backwards, his arms wrapped around himself. He glanced around the room at General Hammond and Teal’c, before taking the seat next to Jack. His elbows on the table, he rested his chin on his fingertips and frowned.

“It’s good to have you back, son,” Hammond commented as he sat down.

“Indeed,” Teal’c agreed as he too took a seat. “and that you are unharmed.”

“Thanks.” Daniel flashed them a quick smile. “Dr Fraiser confirmed that. That I’m unharmed, I mean. She’s done a battery of tests and they’ve all come back and apparently, I’m me. A few less scars, and I still have my appendix,” Daniel frowned. “Which is bizarre because I remember Jack asking to see my scar, but there is no scar, no appendectomy.” He shook his head and looked to Sam. “How do I have two sets of memories? Jack said you thought it was some kind of timeline collision?”

Sam bit her lip. “I don’t really know,” she admitted. “It’s the only think I can think of but I can’t explain how two timelines have crossed, or why it seems to only be concerned with you, or how we remember one thing and everyone else something different. The night you… uh disappeared there were some energy spikes in your office that I don’t recognize and can’t find a source for. I think maybe something we brought back from PR4 caused them, but…” She wrinkled her nose

“But I hadn’t finished cataloguing so you don’t know what’s what, and it isn’t emitting energy anymore,” Daniel finished.

“Exactly. What’s the last thing you remember?”

Daniel furrowed his brow. “I… Jack and I were in my office that evening, arguing about…”

“I wouldn’t call it arguing,” Jack interrupted but Daniel hushed him, one hand held up.

“Not now, Jack. I remember feeling irrational. I was saying things I didn’t mean and I knew I was over-reacting but I couldn’t stop myself. “

“Yeah, same here,” Jack confirmed.

“Jack left, I sat down to start cataloguing the statuettes from PR4 and… damn. Damn.” Daniel slammed his hand into the table and hung his head, before exhaling and looking at Jack. “And I remember thinking my life would be easier if I’d never heard of the Stargate. Woke up the next morning in Amherst with this new life.”

“Wish fulfillment?” Sam’s eyes widened. “That’s a new one. Something with the ability to create a new timeline, to split realities based on… nothing more than a… a what, a fantasy?”

“Is that even possible, Carter?”

“I don’t know, Sir. I mean, it could be. We know so little about alternate universes and travel between them that at this point, anything is possible. Based on everything we’ve seen over the last few years, there’s no reason to think there isn’t a form of technology that can do it.”

“And you think there’s something in Dr. Jackson’s office that has caused this?” General Hammond asked.

Sam looked at Daniel and nodded. “Yes, Sir. That does seem to be the logical assumption.”

“Something we brought back from PR4. Something that made me and Jack argue, to create the conditions where someone could, theoretically, wish for a change in circumstances.”

Jack frowned. “I don’t like the sound of this.”

“Neither do I, Colonel. Dr Jackson, Major Carter, I want this item found as a matter of priority. This takes precedence over your existing research projects. SG1, you are effectively on stand-down until this is resolved. Colonel O’Neill, Teal’c; if Dr Jackson and Major Carter cannot utilize you in this search, I want you working with new recruits. Is that understood?”

“Um…” Daniel raised his hand uncertainly and pushed his glasses up his nose. “About that… General, I don’t know if, that is, I have… “

“Yes, Dr. Jackson?”

“What about my classes?”

“What about them?” Jack answered.

Daniel’s eyebrows climbed into his hair and he whirled around on Jack. “What do you mean ‘what about them?’ It’s the middle of the semester, I have responsibilities. You said it yourself last week; my students come first!”

“But that was before,” Jack stood up and leaned forward, hands spread across the wood.

Daniel’s eyes narrowed and he stood up, hands fisted. “Before what, Colonel?”

“That is quite enough, gentlemen!” General Hammond’s voice cut through the tension and both Jack and Daniel looked at him, before Daniel scowled and sat back down, arms crossed over his chest and face hard.

“Before you knew who you were, before…” Jack trailed off, gesturing before sinking back into his chair. “Before you remembered us.”

Daniel licked his lips and sighed. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sat back down again, arms folded on the table in front of him. “Yeah, OK, I get that. I do. But, Jack, you have to understand. You think I’ve been a part of the SGC for years and that I went missing two weeks ago. That’s…” he trailed off, brow furrowed. “I have the memories of that, of you, of the Stargate, but it doesn’t seem real, it’s like remembering a dream or a movie. This isn’t the life I’ve been living for the last five years. I l live and teach in Amherst; I have a life there and I can’t just drop everything.”

“What are you saying, Daniel?” Sam asked quietly, though Daniel could see from the look on her face that she knew exactly what he meant.

“I’m not the guy you think I am.” He spread his hands out and looked at General Hammond. “I’m not some Indiana Jones kind of archeologist, travelling to other planets and fighting the,” he frowned and paused. “The… ah… Goa’uld.” He stumbled over the unfamiliar word and winced at the expression on Jack’s face. “That’s not me. I’m… I’m sorry.”

“DanielJackson, are we to believe that you do not wish to rejoin SG-1?” Teal’c asked calmly.

“That’s just the thing. To me there is no rejoin. I was never a part of this in the first place.”

“Daniel…”

“Jack, I…” Daniel hung his head and exhaled slowly before lifting again and meeting Jack’s eyes. “I know, but I…” He looked around the table at Sam, Teal’c and General Hammond. “The Daniel Jackson you know is gone,” he said slowly. “I may look like him and I may have his memories. But I’m not him, and I can’t be him, no matter how much you want me to. I don’t know what else to say. I’m sorry.”

“Yeah, you’re so damn sorry,” Jack’s voice dripped with bitterness and he pushed himself to his feet. He walked round the table, grabbed Daniel’s chair and spun him around, hands on the arm rests. “I’m really starting to believe you’re not our Daniel. He’d never just abandon his team!”. Jack slammed his hands down on the plastic before stalking out the door and down the stairs.

Daniel flinched and curled slightly in on himself. “Well, that went well,” he laughed shakily. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself. “So, what happens now?”

“That’s entirely up to you, Dr Jackson. If you truly wish to leave and return to Amherst, we won’t stop you. You will of course be required to sign non-disclosure forms regarding the existence of the Stargate program. I can say that I… that we will be sorry to see you go, but I do understand under the circumstances. We would appreciate your assistance in locating the item in your office that has caused this to happen, and we will certainly miss your talents and experience.”

“The…” Daniel looked uncertain. “The texts that Sam brought with her… I could translate them even without these memories. I could, that is, if you wanted, on a consulting basis?”

A half-smile formed on General Hammond’s face and he stood up. “That would be a great asset,” he agreed. Daniel stood up too, and the General shook his hand. “Be safe, Dr Jackson.”

Teal’c rose to his feet and embraced Daniel, a solemn expression on his face. “You will be missed, DanielJackson, and while I cannot say I understand your reasons not to stay and fight the Goa’uld, I wish you well.”

Daniel nodded but didn’t get chance to respond before Sam pulled him into a bone-crushing hug, tears shining in her eyes. “I’m gonna miss you, Daniel.” She stepped back and held him at arm’s length, her hands curled around his biceps.

“I know,” Daniel pressed his lips together. “You… he... I…” He trailed off, not entirely sure what he was trying to say. “And you’re all welcome to visit me anytime in Amherst. Even Jack,” he chuckled.

Sam laughed and hugged Daniel again. “Don’t be a stranger.”

~El Fin~