Warnings: Language. Missing Scene for The Torment of Tantalus
Category: Angst & Missing Scene

Mightier than the Sword

Jack knocked twice on the door to Daniel's office.

There was a brief pause, then a muffled voice said, "Come in."

Jack stepped inside, immediately spotting Daniel hunched over a journal at his worktable. He eyed the book critically. No doubt Daniel was pouring over the little bits of information he'd managed to write down from the holographic "book" on that lonesome planet.

"How's it going?" Jack sank into a neighboring chair.

Daniel gave him only the briefest of glances before returning his attention to his notes. "Not good." He shook his head, frustration evident in the crease of his brow. "I didn't have nearly enough time..."

"Either way, you wouldn't have had enough time. But if you'd had your way, you'd be dead and that universal language would still be buried."

Daniel's head shot up, his eyes suddenly angry. "You just don't get it, do you?"

Finding himself on the wrong end of Daniel's wrath, Jack stiffened defensively. "No, I don't, okay? I gave you an order. You ignored it, nearly getting both of us killed in the process! All for some language that can't do anybody any good if there's no one alive to translate it."

Daniel practically leapt from his chair and began pacing. "God, Jack! The only reason I left was because you stayed." He threw a glare at Jack. "I was willing to take the risk. You should have just left me there!"

"You're fucking welcome, Daniel! If it weren't for me, you'd be dead right now."

Daniel shook his head. "Maybe. Maybe not. Ernest said that was the safest room in the structure. It was obviously built by four advanced alien races. It's lasted all this time. There's a good chance I would have been safe there."

"Without a way home!" Jack was out of his chair. "So what good would it do you to translate the entire thing, unlock the secrets of the universe, or whatever, and then be stuck there and not be able to tell a soul?"

"I would've worried about the stargate later! It's made of naquida, Jack. It's survived meteors and lightning strikes, and everything else Earth and many other planets have managed to throw at it for thousands of years! Once I translated the language, I could have worked on getting the stargate back online. I'd have had plenty of time to figure something out."

Jack couldn't believe what he was hearing. How could the kid be so damn clueless? "You're crazy. You know that? Absolutely wacko!" He advanced on the young man, but Daniel held his ground, his jaw set and his eyes angry. "You got your head in the clouds, Danny Boy. Your life isn't worth a stupid book!"

"It's not stupid!" Daniel shouted, his arms flailing. "God, how can you be so dense?"

"Dense?!"

"Think, Jack. For once in your life will you just stop and think?" Daniel spun away, pacing and waving his arms. "That language was created by a civilization far more advanced than our own. Hell, just from the basics alone we know there are at least thirty-five more elements in the universe than we thought. Thirty-five, Jack! Do you know what just that one piece of knowledge means? From your military perspective, the potential is incredible! If I'd had time to get the structures of all thirty-five down, we might have found something that's 100 times stronger than steel and weighs half as much! We might have found something that provides an energy source like nothing we've ever seen before! Something that puts nuclear power to shame! Cold fusion, maybe! Or better!"

Daniel spun to face Jack, his face red. "But you don't get it, do you? That was just the tip of the iceberg. The Goa'uld don't know about that planet. All that knowledge... untouched!" He kept pacing and turning, his arms in constant motion. "Secrets they have no clue even exist! We might have found something to beat them with. Something... Something..."

"...to save Sha're?" Jack finished gently.

Daniel's whole body came to a sudden stop, his back to Jack.

Bingo. He now understood what had possessed Daniel so completely on that planet that he was willing to risk his life. "Daniel, you can't find her if you're dead."

Slowly, Daniel turned to face Jack, his eyes revealing a soul-deep pain that stole Jack's breath. "You still don't get it." He spoke in a near-whisper. "Yes, Jack. Yes, I want to save Sha're. Yes, I spend about every waking hour thinking about her. Yes, I'd die to have her free again. But that's not why I wanted to stay, that's only a part of it. The knowledge in that device could have given us the tools we need to defeat the Goa'uld and save, not just Earth, but all the other planets enslaved by the Goa'uld. That one little device used by four alien races on a planet the Goa'uld have never charted could have been the key to Earth's survival and a free galaxy." His voice dropped even lower. "As for me... my life is a blink of the cosmic eye." He snapped his fingers. "Here today, gone tomorrow. I don't even show up on the cosmic radar. But that knowledge... That would go on forever, used and benefited by generation after generation to keep their worlds free from the Goa'uld. Isn't all that worth risking the life of one anthropologist who's just going to die in a few years, anyway?"

Jack stood in stunned silence for several seconds. Daniel was just staring at him, waiting for an answer, but he had only one to give. "You're right."

Surprise flashed across the young man's face. "What?"

"I understand." He took a deep breath. "I didn't think about it that way. I can see now why you wanted to stay. Hell, if our positions were reversed, I might have been tempted to stay there myself for that one chance. But what's done is done, Daniel, and I'm not sorry you're here.... Alive. I'm not sorry at all."

Daniel looked uncertain for a moment, just standing there studying Jack. Then his shoulders relaxed, and he released a long, tired sigh as his lips edged up in a smile. "Is that your way of saying you like me?"

Jack felt the tension leave his body as he returned Daniel's grin. "Oh, I wouldn't go that far, Danny Boy." His grin widened. "I'm just happy to have been spared the shitload of paperwork that would've come down on my head had I returned without you."

Daniel nodded. "Ah. I see."

"Good." Jack moved toward the door. "Well, I'm glad we had this little chat..."

"Jack?"

He turned back to face Daniel. "Yeah?"

"Thanks... for staying with me back there." He swallowed hard and dropped his attention to the open journal on the table. "It means a lot."

Jack blinked, his eyes growing hot. "You're welcome, Daniel."

~~~~~~ The End ~~~~~~

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