A New Start
The android, Harlan, hovered nervously as his latest creations, robot doubles of Colonel Jack O'Neill, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Captain Samantha Carter, stared in disbelief at their original bodies.
The robot Jack knelt down beside his likeness, his mind reluctant to acknowledge the significance of what he was seeing.  He stood up, turned away, and left without a word.
Harlan's distress at Jack's departure was alleviated somewhat when Daniel calmly went over to the likeness of Jack and removed the covering from his mouth.
Jack opened his mouth, stretching his jaw muscles. He looked up in confusion.
“Daniel?”
“Uh...sort of,” Daniel smiled. Unsure of what to say, he left Jack and went over to his own likeness.  He sat on the bed and reached for the gag.
“Here, let me get that.”
Dr. Daniel Jackson gazed up at himself. Blinking in confusion, he slowly sat up, unable to take his eyes off 'himself'.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” his likeness smiled.
Daniel looked around warily, and his eyes widened at the vision of two Samantha Carters.
“Long story,” his double shrugged.
Jack turned to Harlan and demanded answers to what he was seeing.  The robot's ensuing explanation of creating synthetic copies did not make him feel any better.
The Carters, however, found the concept and the reality incredible.
Jack listened to the two Daniels and the two Carters babbling in amazement.  He shook his head and left the room.  Someone else was missing, besides Teal'c.
****
Daniel looked up anxiously when Jack returned. He hurried over and asked, “Where's your, um, other?”
“He's with Harlan.”
“Is he okay?”
“Yeah.  No problem,” Jack said dismissively.
Daniel nodded then said, “Isn't this technology amazing, Jack?  Just look at us,” he said in wonderment, staring at his double and the two Carters.
“Yeah. Wonderful.  Especially when it screws up your entire life,” Jack said grimly, looking back as the door opened and his double walked in.
Daniel winced at the wound on the other Jack's face.
“It's okay, Daniel,” Jack said quietly. “Harlan can fix it.”
Daniel nodded then smiled as the synthetic Carter and Daniel went over to their Jack.  As it should be.
Jack also went over to his double and Daniel looked sympathetically at Teal'c.  “It'll be better when yours shows up,” he said encouragingly.
“My thoughts exactly, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c intoned.
Daniel noticed that the two Jacks were engaged in heated conversation with Harlan and he took the opportunity to take his own double aside.
“How's, uh, your Jack?”
“Well, he's angry and he's depressed.  What you'd expect under the circumstances.”
“Yeah, um, how are you?” Daniel inquired.
His double shrugged. “I'm not quite sure.”  He looked away and when he turned back, his face brightened.
“Have you seen the library in this place?”
“No, no I haven't,” Daniel replied.
“It's incredible. Harlan says the resources on this station are limitless.  Kind of like us,” he finished softly.
Daniel cocked his head and tried to fathom how he would feel if he were the one confined to this planet, this station, for eternity.
His double smiled briefly and said, “I hope you never find out.”
Daniel felt a flash of guilt at his selfish relief that he was the real Daniel Jackson.
“It's okay,” his double said assuredly. “I'd probably feel the same way.”
A disturbance drew their attention, and they watched in dismay as the robot Jack stormed out, followed in hot pursuit by Jack.
“They're both having a hard time with this,” Daniel said quietly.
“Yes, but yours can go home.”
Daniel felt another pang of guilt.  He couldn't just leave.  Not like this.  Of them all, Jack would have the hardest time adjusting to his 'new' life.
“Jack's a soldier,” Daniel said carefully.  “A warrior, if you will.  Being confined here is going to drive him nuts.  He might try to withdraw, shut himself off from the rest of you. He'll need your help.”
“I don't know if he'll let me,” his double responded wistfully, still looking at the door.
Daniel smiled.  “Jack can try the patience of a saint.  His pride can sometimes be his worst enemy.  Help him.  Watch his back.  He won't like it and he might fight you every step of the way, but it'll be worth it in the end because you'll never have a truer friend than Jack O'Neill.”
His double turned and smiled in bemusement.
Daniel blushed and ducked his head.  “Right.  You already know all this.”
“It never hurts to have a second opinion,” his double smiled.
“Daniel!”
Both Daniels turned to see Jack enter the room.  He gestured to the robot Daniel.
“Maybe you should, you know, go and talk to him,” he said motioning towards the door. “I think I kind of pissed him off.”
'You think?' the Daniels chimed.
“Don't do that!” Jack shuddered.
“Where is he?” Daniel’s double asked.
“Looking at the other...Teal'c.”
“What happened?” Daniel asked after his double left.
“The guy's got an attitude as big as a planet,” Jack griped.
Daniel snickered and bit his tongue.
“What are you smirking at?”
“Nothing,” Daniel said innocently.  “Truth hurts, doesn't it?”
Jack glared and said, “Where the hell is Carter?'”
“She, uh, they have gone to look at some generator thingy.  Apparently, it's beyond belief.'”
“Oh, crap.  We're never going to get out of here,” Jack groaned.
****
Daniel found Jack staring at the body that wasn't finished transforming into Teal'c.  He walked up and stood beside him.
“Harlan won't forget Junior this time.”
“It doesn't matter,” Jack muttered.
“It matters to Teal'c.  He can't survive without his symbiote.”
“For crying out loud, Daniel.  We're not real.”
“Yes, we are,” Daniel insisted.
“Open your eyes, damn it!  Look at me,' Jack said, tapping his finger on the exposed circuitry of his face.  “We're goddamn machines!”
Daniel stared unblinkingly and said, “I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson, husband to Sha're.  You are Colonel Jack O'Neill, father to—”
“Don't say it, Daniel!  Don't you fucking well say it!”
“Charlie. Your son's name is Charlie.”
“Damn you!” Jack seethed, grabbing Daniel by the collar and shoving him up against the glass.
“It hurts, doesn't it Jack?” Daniel said hurriedly.  “It hurts because it's real.  We're real. Maybe we don't bleed red.  Maybe we can't even cry.  But I sure as hell can feel, and Sha're's loss is an ache in my heart that will never go away.”
The rage in Jack's eyes diminished with every word and he loosened his grip.
“We've all lost something here, Jack.  Sam's lost her father and brother.  Teal'c's lost his wife and son.  You and I, well, we've already lost our family.”
“We'll find Sha're,” Jack assured.  “Uh, they'll fine Sha're.  Crap, this is going to take some getting used to,” he said, scratching his head.
Daniel breathed a little easier and said, “We'll get through this like we always do, Jack. We're a team.”
“We can't go home,” Jack said dully.
“We are home,” Daniel said gently.
Jack looked up into the bright blue eyes and shook his head fondly.
“Same old Daniel.”
“Why change a good thing?” Daniel smiled.  “Come on, let's go join the others.”
****
Harlan and his 'new family' watched SG-1 enter the event horizon and vanish.
“Well, they're gone,” Daniel stated.
Jack stared at the empty gate.  “They'll never be gone,” he murmured.
Daniel bit his lip at the raw pain in his friend's voice.
“Why don't you let Harlan fix that,” he said, pointing to Jack's face.
“Why?  Does it remind you of how different we are?” Jack asked coldly.
“No, because it looks painful,” Daniel countered.
Jack opened his mouth, but bit back his cynical response.  There was a deep concern in Daniel's eyes that always stopped him in his tracks.
“Harlan, fix this for me will ya?”
“Certainly, certainly.  Please, come this way,”Harlan burbled, happy to help, and deliriously happy to have company after 11,000 years of solitude.
Sam and Teal'c closed ranks around Daniel, emphasizing their presence, friendship and support.
Daniel smiled in gratitude and said, “This isn't going to be easy, is it?”
“Not on any of us,” Sam agreed.
“Indeed.  Immortality was never a goal I aspired to,” Teal'c stated solemnly.
“Immortality,” Daniel whispered.  He couldn't wrap his mind around the concept and he shook his head.  Maybe I'll go nuts first.
****
“Have either of you seen Jack?” Daniel asked Sam and Teal'c.
“Not since this morning,” Sam replied, tinkering with another gadget.
“Nor have I, Daniel Jackson,” Teal'c said, handing the necessary tools to Sam.
“Okay, thanks.”
Daniel glanced at his watch and estimated the time to their next energy 'boost'.  Not a lot.  With a renewed sense of purpose, Daniel began a systematic search of the facility.  After three months he had a pretty good idea of Jack's 'hiding' spots.  Unfortunately, Jack was in none of them.  One place he hadn't checked was the room containing the stargate.  That room was essentially off-limits until they buried the gate.  Jack's orders.  Daniel suddenly felt a chill.
“Damn you, Jack. You wouldn't,” he whispered.
Daniel rushed to the gateroom and almost smacked into Harlan.
“Harlan! Have you seen—”
“I couldn't stop him.  I couldn't stop him.  You people are so wilful,” Harlan whimpered.
Daniel grasped the robot's shoulders. “Harlan! Harlan, where's Jack?”
“He went through the gate.  I told him he mustn't.  He didn't listen to me.  He never listens to me.”
“It's okay, Harlan.  Did you see where he went?”
“Yes, yes, yes, I did.  You'll go after him and bring him back, yes?”
“Yes, Harlan, I will.  Hurry, dial me out!” he urged, pushing the robot towards the DHD.
Harlan bustled over and began dialling.  Halfway through he hesitated and turned worried eyes to Daniel.
“You aren't trying to leave me, too?”
“No, Harlan.  I promise.  I just want to bring Jack home.”
“Yes! Home!  Home is here, no?” he asked anxiously.
“Yes.  Home is here...with you.”
Harlan beamed at the confirmation and Daniel smiled in spite of his urgency.
“Now, dial...please.”
“Oh, yes, yes.  You must hurry,' he said, punching in the remaining coordinates.
Daniel's memory accessed the sequence and he breathed a little easier as he recalled the destination; an uninhabited but arid planet.  Definitely not a place where you'd want to retire.  Crawling away to die, however?  The wormhole engaged and he shook off his morbid thoughts.  He turned to Harlan.
“I'll bring him back.”
Harlan nodded nervously then winced as Daniel jumped through the event horizon.
****
Daniel emerged through the other side of the wormhole with a grace and ease that belied his memories.
“Eat your heart out, Daniel Jackson,” he said indulgently.
He quickly took in his surroundings, but could see no sign of Jack.  He couldn't be far.
“Jack!” he bellowed.
Jack heard the yell and stopped in his tracks.
“Damn it, Daniel,” he muttered.  “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Jack!  I know you're here!  I'm not leaving until you talk to me!”
“For crying out loud.”  Jack scrubbed the back of his head furiously, weighing his options.  With Daniel there were never any options.  He sighed and yelled,  “Over here!” He sat down on a large boulder and waited.
“I am so not looking forward to this,” he grumbled.
Presently, Daniel came into his line of vision.
Oh yeah, he's pissed.  Join the club, Danny boy.
Daniel approached Jack warily, clamping down on his emotions.  Jack was wound tight and one wrong word could blow the whole thing.
“Jack,” he said casually.
“Daniel.”
Daniel sat down beside him, their shoulders touching.  He gazed around and said, “Not one of our nicest planets.”
“No, but not our worst.”
“No.”  After a pause Daniel said, “Why here?”
Jack shrugged.  “Fits my mood.”
Daniel nodded then said, “You know we're not supposed to use the gate?  Your order as I recall.”
“No, Daniel.  His order.  The real Jack O'Neill.”
Daniel glanced sideways and saw the antagonism in his friend's face.
“There's only one Jack O'Neill as far as I'm concerned, and I'm looking at him.”
Jack looked away.  Away from the love and compassion in those damn, blue eyes.
“Why do you want to die, Jack?”
After a long pause, Jack said, “Because I don't want to live.”
Jack braced himself for the inevitable tirade, but Daniel remained silent.  Jack waited...and waited.
“Damn it, Daniel.  I tried.  I can't live like this.”
“Three months, Jack?  Three months out of what?  Immortality?  Gee, why'd you wait so long?”
Jack laughed.  He couldn't help it.  Daniel always took him by surprise.
“Alright, granted it's not a lot of time in the great scheme of things.  But...”
“But?” Daniel prompted.
“Look, Carter's got a million little doodads to play with.  You can find a flake of paint fascinating and write a treatise attesting to that fact.  And Teal'c...hell, I don't know what Teal'c does.  He meditates a lot and hangs out with Carter.  What do I do?  I think about the life that was stolen from me and twiddle my thumbs.  Damnit, there's nothing for me to do, okay?”  Great, now I just sound petulant.
“Bullshit.”
“Excuse me”' Jack said, his hackles rising.
“You're full of shit, Jack.  You can't tell me that you don't have any interests.  I've seen your books.  I've seen your music and your art.”
“Where, Daniel?  Because I sure as hell haven't seen anything for three fucking months.”
“They're in you, Jack.  They're in all of us,” Daniel said earnestly.
“Crap, don't give me that philosophical bullshit.”
“Jack,” Daniel sighed . “We've been on our own for three months.  Distinct and separate from the others.  God, we've just started a new phase of our lives,” he explained eagerly. “We can start over.  Do anything.  Be anything we put our minds to.  No more memos.  No more six am briefings.  No more macaroni and cheese that tastes like chicken,'”he smiled.
“That's another thing,” Jack said gruffly. “I like to eat.  I like to drink beer.  I like a good shit in the morning.  We can't do any of that.  Just what the hell am I supposed to do all day never mind eternity?”
“Live.”
“This isn't living; it's existing.”
“It's what you make it to be,” Daniel insisted.
“For crying out loud, don't you ever get tired of listening to yourself?”
“Okay.  Tell me what you've always wanted to do if you had the time,”Daniel challenged.
“Fishing!” Jack shot back.
Just like I'm doing right now.  “Besides that,” Daniel said patiently.
“I don't know.  Woodwork, maybe.  Carving, pottery, that sort of thing,” Jack grumbled, waving his hands around.
“Really?”
“Is it so surprising?”
“Um, well, no. I just never thought of you as the, you know, artsy type.”
“Artsy?” Jack said indignantly.
“I mean it in a good way,” Daniel said defensively.
Jack's glare softened and he shook his head.  You're good, Danny, but I'm not worth it.
“Go home, Danny,” he said gently.
“Not without you.”
Jack turned and looked wearily into the steady, blue gaze.
“Daniel, I appreciate your concern.  I really do, but I can't do it.  I don't want to do it.”
“You have responsibilities, Jack.  Whether you like it or not, you're still our team leader.  Millennia won't change that.”
“I don't want it.”
“So you want to die instead?  Take the easy way out,” Daniel said angrily.
“Yes.”  Damn it, don't push me, Daniel.
“You bastard,” Daniel whispered after a stony silence.  “What about us?  You didn't even say goodbye.  Do you have any idea what your death would do to us?”
“We're robots, damn it!  Can't you get that through that thick circuitry of yours?”
“I'm Daniel Jackson!”
“Yeah, yeah, husband of Sha're.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Well I'm sure she'd be very impressed with your new stamina if you can even get the damn thing up.”
The cruel words were out before Jack could stop them.  The shocked look of hurt and betrayal in Daniel's eyes hit Jack like a kick in the gut.  He looked away, ashamed and thoroughly disgusted with himself.  He felt Daniel get up and the sense of loss was palpable.
“Daniel, I'm sorry,” he said quickly.
Daniel ignored his apology and walked away.
Jack didn't know what to do.  Go after him and apologize?  Let him go, and have his best friend hate him for eternity?  “Oh, crap,” he muttered, sinking to the ground and burying his head in his arms.  After a moment, he sat up and stared at his hands.  Whaddya know?  We can cry.
Jack heard the Stargate engage and felt sick at heart.
“You idiot.  You don't have a heart as you so eloquently showed.  It's your damn energy reserves.  Shouldn't be long now, thank God.”
He lowered his head and tried to forget.
****
Jack felt a familiar presence and looked up in alarm.
“Daniel?”
“Don't hog the rock.”
Jack shifted over and smiled sadly as Daniel settled in beside him.
“I thought you left. I heard the gate.”
“I sent a note through to Sam and Teal'c...and Harlan.  Saying goodbye...from both of us.”
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“I'm not leaving.”
“For crying out loud, Daniel.  You can't stay.”
“Why?”
“Because you'll—” Jack stopped, the words caught in his throat.
“Die?  What's the big deal, Jack?  I'm not real, remember?  I can't die.  I'll just 'wind down'.”  Daniel looked at his watch.  “Shouldn't be long now.  So, what do you want to talk about?”
Jack stared incredulously at the young man beside him. “You're nuts,” he accused. “Certifiable.”
Daniel shrugged.  “It's very simple, Jack.  We go home together or we die here together.  It's your choice.”
Jack shook his head in disbelief.  Over a year ago, this man, a virtual stranger, had sacrificed his life to save a bitter, worn-out Air Force colonel.  Damned if he wasn't doing it again.  He closed his eyes in revelation. Daniel wasn't a robot.  He was a true 'I'll do anything I can to help you, I'll even die for you' friend.  Just like he always had been.  Jack opened his eyes and turned to face his friend.  Warm, blue eyes looked back.  Patient and understanding.  Jack placed his hand behind Daniel's neck and squeezed gently.
“Let's go home.”

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.