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When Two Hearts Collide

 

"…A love affair
And though it's only just begun
A love to share
When two hearts collide and beat as one…"
"Two Hearts Collide" by Level 42, from the album "Turn it On"

 

Chapter 1

Dr. Daniel Jackson ran his hand over his face. Picked up his glasses and put them back on. Stretched his arms over his head. A glance at the clock confirmed what he already knew…he had worked all night…again. He snorted. It wasn't like he had anything better to do! There was no one waiting for him in the lovely but lonely apartment he called home; he didn't even have a dog or a cat to go home to! He wrapped his arms around his waist, leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes.

How many times over the years that he'd been a part of the Stargate Program had he worked all night? When he'd first come back from Abydos, he had one reason for joining, for insisting on becoming part of SG-1: finding Sha're. He sifted through information in an attempt to locate her, not even admitting to himself, at least, not at first, that researching and translating the artifacts that SG-1 and the other SG teams found was fascinating, exciting…mind-boggling when accompanied by the fact that most of the people they met during their 'travels' were the descendants of people taken from Earth thousands of years earlier by Goa'uld 'gods'.

It had been nearly two years ago that his search for Sha're had ended…the day that Teal'c had been forced to kill Amaunet in order to save his life. She still haunted his thoughts, his dreams. He couldn't remember how she smelled, how she tasted, how she felt in his arms, except in his dreams. He'd searched for her nearly three times as long as he had been married to her, lived with her in the desert of Abydos. 

Abydos. His heart still lurched in his chest whenever the name crossed his memory. One of the most beautiful, amazing years of his life. One incredible…too short year. He had discovered the Abydonian Cartouche, which had given the SGC a list of nearly ten thousand Stargate addresses. The discovery made as he spent his days poking around the ruins of the city that had once stood proudly in the desert. He'd spent hours, days…weeks, being exactly what he was - an archaeologist. He frowned when he thought about the nights he'd spent in that temple, reading the glyphs on the walls, trying to make sense of what he had found. Nights that he should have spent in his wife's arms.

He never had been good with relationships. He had fond memories…wonderful memories of his parents. That relationship, those relationships with his mother and father, were the only 'good' ones that he'd ever had. He was still plagued by images of the day they had been killed. Could still hear the sound of the chain snapping, just seconds before that massive capstone had dropped on top of them. That was where the…bad…memories started. Being abandoned by his grandfather. A series of foster homes where he had never fit in, never belonged. Being sixteen years old and a freshman at UCLA. He had always buried himself in his work, whether it was studies for school, or a dig or project…or working for the SGC. He loved the work; the studies, the digs, the projects…god knew that he loved the discoveries he'd made while working for the SGC. But as much as he loved it, as much as it excited him, he needed…more. Needed something to fill his heart, as well as his head.

There had been…attempts…to do just that in his younger days. He'd met Carrie Weaver during his last year of graduate work. A feisty little redhead with big blue eyes who had managed to capture his attention with her own interest in anthropology. They had lived together for almost six months. Until the day he'd accepted a position with the Oriental Institute in Chicago…given an opportunity to finish his graduate work in that esteemed institution…without even thinking about her. He could remember exactly how excited he had been that day, having learned that he would be going straight to Egypt to work on a dig there. It wasn't until he'd walked into the apartment that it hit him…Carrie hadn't crossed his mind once while he'd made the arrangements to leave. When he'd told her about his plans, begged her to come with him, she had stared at him, stunned at first. Then she'd shaken her head, told him that they'd been drifting apart, and he'd just proven to her that his heart belonged to his work. They had made love all night…desperately clinging to one another, knowing in their hearts that it was truly over for them. She had left the apartment before he woke up, and when he'd returned from classes that afternoon, her things were gone. He hadn't seen her again.

Sarah Gardner had slipped into his life, and past his defenses, a few years later, while he worked on a project for Dr. Jordan at the Oriental Institute. He shook his head mentally. Their…affair…had been wild, hot, passionate…and brief. The angry words, the look of hurt in her gray eyes filled his memory as clearly as if the argument had happened just yesterday. Once again his work had taken precedence. And who the hell celebrated two-month anniversaries anyway? She'd stormed out of his office, and his life. Three weeks later he was doing a lecture series, putting forth his new theory about the pyramids. Within six months he was a man ostracized by the archaeological academic community, without a job, having distanced himself from his mentor in an attempt to protect him, no grants to continue his work, and completely broke.

It had been raining…pouring down…as he stood on that street corner, his suitcase in his hand, when Catherine Langford had stopped her car, and offered him a ride. And a chance to prove his theories correct. At first he'd been hesitant, afraid that her offer was nothing more than an attempt to humiliate him farther.

He could still feel the excitement…the wonder…that had filled him the first time he saw the Stargate. The surge of awe when he realized just exactly what it was. And what it could do. Within three months of that discovery he'd been standing on the sand of Abydos. Sha're had been given to him, her father and the other leaders of the village believing him and Colonel Jack O'Neill to be gods. They had defeated Ra, sheer damned luck he realized now, and he had opted to stay with the people who were living history to him. His life had been good. He'd been happy, happier than he could remember ever having been.

When he had realized what he'd discovered in the temple, he'd tried dialing several of the addresses, to no avail. It wasn't until Jack had returned four months later, with one Captain Doctor Samantha Carter in tow - a full year after leaving the first time, that he understood why. And the reason Jack was there was to tell him about a new threat. A new Goa'uld. One who came and took his wife while he and his friends from Earth stood in that temple, finally understanding the magnitude of what he had discovered.

He shook his head. Guilt, as much as love, had spurred him to search for Sha're. He loved her, he absolutely loved her. But now…as hard as it was to admit, even to himself, he had never been in love with her.

There had been other…encounters…over the years. Several as a result of meeting women via the Stargate. But he hadn't met anyone with whom he was willing to even try to establish a relationship. He was always too tired, too involved in whatever crisis was happening in the mountain, too busy with the latest research that needed to be done. After what had happened to Sha're, and then Sarah, he was afraid to expose anyone to the dangers that haunted his life. Too afraid to love again, only to wind up alone and empty…again.

Thoughts about the condition of his life were haunting him more often of late, poking at him to do something to remedy the situation. He was thirty-two years old, and he had never been in love. His heart continued to inform him that he couldn't continue as he was. No matter how much he tried to convince himself that he was happy. Most of the time he was…not unhappy. He loved the work he did, loved going through the 'gate, well, he didn't like the times when they were running and hiding from Jaffa, or captured and being tortured, or facing death. Meeting new people, finding keys to their own past, kept him bouncing on the balls of his feet…metaphorically if not literally…every time he waited for the event horizon to open, as they walked up the ramp and into the unknown. But every time they returned, when the required physical was over…the debrief finished…when he finally left the mountain, he went to a lonely flat of rooms. Alone.

"Daniel?"

He opened his eyes. Sam was standing in front of his desk. "Hey, Sam. What's up?"

"I thought you might like to have breakfast with me."

"Yeah, sounds good," he replied. He stretched again, stood to his feet. He let his eyes move over his colleague, his teammate…his best friend. She really was an attractive woman. And she's like your sister, his brain reminded him. He grimaced mentally, remembering the desperate, out of character kiss they had shared. It had been a year ago. They'd been hiding from a minor Goa'uld...he couldn't even remember which one...terrified; certain that they were going to die. He had pulled her into his arms, the need to try and protect her, hide her, more important than any offense she might have taken. She hadn't. Instead, they had hugged tightly. He'd never been sure exactly who had made the first move. All he knew was that her lips were against his, his tongue pushing into her mouth. For about three seconds. They had pulled apart, aghast at what they'd allowed themselves to do, and then Sam had actually giggled. She'd told him that she loved him, but kissing him was like kissing her brother. They'd agreed that they were the best of friends, closer than family, and that would be as far as it would ever go. Which meant that sharing a tent with her was no big deal. He'd seen her naked, and it hadn't done more than make him tease her about the ice cream cone shaped mole on her hip. She'd seen him naked as well, and it hadn't seemed to affect her. They would lay and talk, each cuddled in their own sleeping bag, discussing what they had found…or hadn't found. They were so at ease with one another, so comfortable with one another that they could finish what the other was saying half of the time. Which totally annoyed Jack. Something they both took delight in doing…more often than they probably should.

"You have that look again," she said softly, making a move to walk to the door with him.

"What look is that?"

"The sad one. The one that puts so much loneliness in your eyes," she said softly.

He didn't reply.

"You need someone, Daniel," Sam said, her arm going around his waist. She laid her head on his shoulder as he hugged her.

"So do you."

"I have someone."

"Yeah. Right." He knew that she loved Jack. Jack loved her as well. All the damned military bullshit that kept them apart should be cut through, hacked away, so that they could be together. They'd saved the planet, hell, the universe, a time or two. That should be worth something!

"It will happen, someday," she said, her voice wistful.

"Yeah, it will," he replied. Wishing that someday was much sooner than it appeared. Unless Jack retired or she resigned her commission, the way things stood, they wouldn't be together anytime in the near future.

"And we were talking about you," she said, pulling away from him, looking up into his cerulean blue eyes.

"We were?"

"Yes, we were."

"What about me?"

"Daniel, you're a pain-in-the-ass."

"You love me anyway," he grinned. The familiar, light-hearted banter was chasing away the last of the dark clouds of critical introspection.

"Most of the time." She grabbed his hand, pulled him toward the door. "Let's go. I’m starving."

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Teal'c was already sitting at a table when they arrived in the mess hall. Daniel grabbed a tray, a cup of coffee the first thing that went onto it. A plate of waffles, not much better than the frozen variety, some sausage, a glass of orange juice. He followed Sam, and the three teammates sat and ate in comfortable silence. When Jack joined them a few minutes later, other than greetings, nothing was said for nearly fifteen minutes. Words weren't needed between them. They had been through so much…too muchtogether. They knew one another as intimately - on emotional and mental terms - as any group of people could.

He marveled again that he was part of a group that accepted him so completely. Never before in his life had he had friends…not merely acquaintances, but real friends. He would give his life without hesitation for any of the people sitting with him, and knew without a doubt that they would do the same for him. That he could feel that way about Teal'c, the man responsible not only for taking Sha're from him in the first place, but the one forced to end her life, still amazed him. He had learned, rather quickly, what kind of a man the Jaffa really was. Understood that the tall black man had had no choice when Apophis had pointed out Sha're to be taken. That by choosing her in that harem room, Teal'c had been hoping that she would be rejected by Amaunet, and that he could secret her back through the Chappa'ai, as he had done for several other women; that he carried as much guilt about Sha're's capture, and resulting infestation with a Goa'uld, as Daniel did for not being in the pyramid temple when Apophis had come through the 'gate. He meditated with the Jaffa, and the two men…who should have been enemies…had talked, and become good friends, best friends. Those quiet times of meditation had continued over the years, and were the highlight of his week. Okay, that is just sad, he thought, that spending a couple of hours with a Jaffa, eyes closed, in silence, was the most exciting thing he did during the week. He enjoyed spending time with Teal'c. But surely there was something else, something…more. Wasn't there?

"Anything new and exciting happen while I was gone?" Jack asked, pushing the bowl that had held fruit loops away from him.

Gone? Jack had been gone? Oh, yeah. Fishing. The team CO had tried to get his 'kids' to go with him for the weekend. Sam had that new naquadah generator that she was playing with. Teal'c had actually gone to the Land of Light to visit with his son. Daniel had spent the time up to his ears in translations, most of them simple, but interesting nonetheless.

"Oh, don't tell me that you two did nothing but work all weekend!" Jack groaned.

"I enjoy my work, sir," Sam replied, her sapphire blue eyes dancing. "It's…relaxing for me. And we really do need to understand how the generator works before I can hope to hook it up to our power grid. If it's as powerful as my preliminary tests have shown, it could provide power for everything in the mountain, including the 'gate," she said excitedly. She launched into a detailed description of the generator and its potential.

Daniel bit back a grin at the pained look on Jack's face. The older man would never admit that he understood far more of what Sam was saying than he let on. Colonel Jack O'Neill loved playing the part of the stupid grunt. He did it very well. Daniel knew from experience he was anything but that. "I'm sorry, what?" he asked, when he realized that Jack was looking at him.

"I asked if you played with your rocks all weekend," Jack growled, taking a sip of coffee.

He didn't hold back the grin this time. Almost made a comment about the potential double entendre. Until he realized how totally sad and pathetic it would make him appear. "Yep."

"You two need to get a life. I believe I've made that an order before, haven't I?" Jack asked, his brown eyes glaring first at Daniel, then at Sam.

"Yes, sir," Sam replied. She wasn't bothering to hide her grin either.

"When you say that the two of us need to get a life, do you mean a single life, that we could share...like a time share sort of arrangement? Like, she gets it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; I get it on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and we alternate Sundays…or that each of us as individuals should seek out a life for ourselves?" Daniel asked. He watched the telltale twitch on Jack's face; the one that said the man was just seconds from bursting into laughter.

"So help me, Daniel, one of these days I'm going to knock the shit out of you for that smartass attitude of yours!"

"Yeah, you keep saying that." He chuckled. He and Jack were best friends. Another mystery that he had no intention of unraveling. The two men hadn't gotten along well when they first met. Daniel had considered the military man far too gung-ho, and Jack had believed the young archaeologist to be nothing more than a burden, a risk…a pacifist, ivy tower intellectual. Information they'd shared with each other at the top of their lungs during one of their 'training sessions' just before walking through the Stargate for the first time. During the battle against Ra the two men found their souls bared to one another, and somehow, against all odds, a friendship had been forged. One that was the strongest friendship Daniel had ever had. When he'd admitted what had happened between him and Sam, and the resulting...revelations, not willing to let the incident come between him and his best friend, the older man had been angry at first, both men understanding that it had been jealousy raising its head; then Jack had laughed and said that as long as they didn't start fighting like siblings, he was okay with their new 'family' status.

Teal'c grunted softly, an attempt to bite back the laughter that threatened to erupt. "I believe, Daniel Jackson, that O'Neill is attempting to intimidate you with the fact that the action could conceivably take place."

It was all he could do to keep from spitting his mouthful of coffee…which would have drenched Jack. Which in turn was a rather entertaining thought. He managed to swallow. "Yeah, thanks Teal'c, I got that," he replied, a wide grin on his face.

"Have either of you slept?" Jack asked, his eyes going over his 'kids'. Noting the weariness in two sets of blue eyes.

"A couple of hours," Daniel admitted.

"I slept for an hour or so," Sam said.

The older man sat back in his chair and sighed. "Okay, I'm ordering both of you to your quarters. Do not emerge until noon."

Just as he was about to argue that he was nearly finished with the translation of a tablet found on P3X 975, a yawn overtook him that nearly split his face in half.

"Now, Daniel. Before you fall asleep face first into that plate," Jack said gently.

With a nod, Daniel stood to his feet. "Talk to you later," he said, his words meant for each of his friends. He yawned again, and made his way past a table surrounded by giggling nurses, and toward the door. Completely oblivious to the looks of interest…of desire…that the women tossed in his direction.

Sam watched him leave. "He looked so sad when I went into his office this morning," she said softly.

Jack glanced over his shoulder at the door that the young archaeologist had just disappeared through. "That seems to be happening more often lately," he agreed.

"His heart is indeed heavy of late. I believe that Daniel Jackson needs to fill his life with something other than his work," Teal'c said quietly.

"I agree, Teal'c," Jack nodded. "But that's something that Daniel is going to have to do for himself. If we try to…help…it will only piss him off."

"Maybe we should…nudge...him a bit, sir," Sam said.

"Nudge?" Jack asked, one eyebrow raised.

"Yes, sir. Maybe we should take him out, somewhere that he'll be able to meet a nice girl."

"And that would be where, Major?"

The major shrugged her slender shoulders. "I don't have a clue," she admitted.

"Go get some sleep, Carter," Jack said, his concern for her well being flaring in his eyes before he could completely tamp down his feelings for her.

She smiled. "Yes, sir." She nodded at Teal'c and then stood and left the room. Daniel was her best friend. He deserved to have the best things in life. He'd suffered more than anyone should have to. Yep, he should have the best in life. And he shouldn't be so damned lonely! She just had no clue how to change things for him.

 

A   A   A   A   A   A

 

Daniel was greeted by several of the SF's and a few of the Marines who worked in the mountain as he made his way to the room that he called his. He'd been off-world with nearly all of them at one time or another. He still considered himself to be a geek. And though he had been the recipient of a rather nasty 'blanket party' right after returning to Earth, and then the subsequent…reprisal ...when Jack had found out and punished the perpetrators, he had earned the respect and friendship of the military men around him. He shrugged mentally. Saving the planet probably had a thing or two to do with it. He still didn't like to think about the missions he'd been on where 'life-and-death' hadn't been mere words.

The bed was neatly made up; and he fell face first onto it, more tired than he realized, asleep before he was able to pull his glasses from his face.

The room was large, but totally empty. The walls were stark white, the floor cold black stone. He looked around uncertainly, reached for his 9mm, only to have his hand come up empty. There was no weight on his back, which meant he didn't have a pack either. "Hello?…Jack?…Sam?…Teal'c?"

Okay, where the hell was he? Where were his teammates? He didn't remember touching anything, but if he had, Jack would be sure to tell him all about it in detail, along with a lecture about not touching 'alien rocks' that he knew nothing about.

He turned in a circle, examining the room carefully. No doors, no windows. Okay, how bizarre was that? He looked at the white ceiling, but couldn't see anything that might be an entrance of any kind. "Hello?"

"It is good to see you, Daniel," a soft voice said.

Daniel whirled around. "Oma?"

The dark haired woman smiled, and nodded.

He had met this particularBeing…when he'd searched for, and found, Sha're's son on Kheb. The boy had later visited him at the SGC, eager to know about his mother…Geez, had it been a year already?…And had given Daniel a terrifying lesson in humility…and the need to control his anger, and his fears. "The boy…Shifu…"

"Is fine. He sends his greetings," the woman said, her smile widening.

"Why are you here? Why am I here? And where is here?" Daniel asked.

Oma laughed softly. "So many questions. Always so curious," she said.

He managed to smile. His mother had told him that - often. And that his insatiable curiosity, his need to…know…was a wonderful thing, a gift.

"This is…you," the Being replied, looking around at the stark, empty room.

"Me?"

"Yes. It is that part of you that seeks fulfillment."

He turned slowly, examining the bare, white walls. Empty. Lonely. This is my freaking life! he thought glumly. Pretty damned pathetic. The loneliness of the room pressed in on him. He looked at the woman who had spent hours helping him to understand that as much as he wanted…needed…to protect Sha're's son, he couldn't do it, not if he were serious about giving the child the best care possible. "How do I…what do I do?" he whispered.

"Believe yourself," she said simply.

"What?"

The woman only smiled at him. Then vanished as if she had never been there.

 

Daniel sat up on the bed, adjusted his glasses. What the hell had that been all about? He looked around the room, making certain that there was no one with him, then stretched out on his back, his hands behind his head. Believe himself? Not believe in himself.

 Believe yourself. 

What in the world did that mean?


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