Title: All the Difference
Author: Misty
Challenge #14 the "Little Red Hates Poetry" response.
Rating: Nothing bad
Disclaimer: They aren't mine; I just like dressing them up and taking them places.

Feedback is love, of course. This one gave me a bit of trouble, so I'd really like to hear what you thought of it. Thanks. I hope you enjoy. :)


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All the Difference


"Okay, Daniel, time to go," Jack announced, snapping the cover on his watch closed. "I sent Carter ahead to dial us home."

"Wait, Jack. Just let me..."

"Ah!" Jack interrupted, holding up a finger. "Hammond expects us back within the next half hour."

"But I haven't had enough time to determine whether this tablet and the device that we found are related to the..."

"So take them with us."

"Yeah, I plan to, but if I can translate this here I could..."

"I know, I know, parting is such sweet sorrow."

"O'Neill," Teal'c spoke up. "I have head you use that expression before. How can sorrow be sweet?"

"Oh, don't tell me you've never heard of Romeo and Juliet, Teal'c."

"Indeed I have not."

Umm...Daniel?" Jack said, turning to his friend for help.

"Oh, I've heard of them," Daniel said with a mischievous grin.

Jack shook his head. "A lot of help you are," he muttered before turning back to Teal'c. "Romeo and Juliet is a play that was written by a guy named William Shakespeare."

"And you knew this man?" Teal'c asked.

"Uh...no. He's been dead a long...long time," Jack said, waving his hand emphatically.

"Yeah, something like 400 years," Daniel spoke up as he dusted off his hands and began gathering up his gear.

Teal'c raised an eyebrow. "Then why quote him?"

Daniel smiled at his friend. "See, back then people didn't have television, so they entertained themselves with things such as books and plays. Today we consider many of these pieces of literature as an important part of our history. And some of the more famous quotations have worked their way into our vocabulary."

Before Teal'c could reply, Jack's radio clicked to life. "Sir?" came Carter's voice. "Is everything alright?"

Jack grabbed his radio to reply. "Yeah, Carter," he said. "We'll be there in 5."

"I'm ready," Daniel announced, shouldering his pack.

"Okay, campers, move out."

****

"Daniel Jackson, I believe this is written in code."

Daniel jumped at the unexpected voice and looked up from his desk to find Teal'c standing in the doorway of his office

"I'm sorry, what?" Daniel replied, blushing slightly as his mind struggled to switch gears. 'That's what I get for daydreaming about Janet when I should be working,' he silently berated himself.

The jaffa held out the open book he was holding. "As you know, after our discussion on PNR-394, I have been endeavoring to learn more about earth culture through literature."

"Yeah," Daniel nodded.

"O'Neill escorted me to the literature loaning facility..."

"The...library," Daniel supplied.

"Indeed," Teal'c nodded. "The woman there suggested this book. It appears to be written in English, but the words seem to make no sense. I believe it to be a code."

"Let me see," Daniel said, reaching for the book. He flipped the cover open to the first page and began to read. "Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote, And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour."

Teal'c blinked slowly, as if to emphasize his confusion. "As I said, the words mean nothing."

Daniel closed the book with a snap and nodded as he read the title on the cover. "Hmm, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. And obviously this is the Middle English version."

"Middle English?"

"Uh, yeah," Daniel let out a breath before continuing. "As you know, languages change over time. The Canterbury Tales was written in Middle English, which is a dialect that was used over 600 years ago. So, as you can imagine, the English we speak today is quite different."

"Indeed."

"In other words, this is some pretty advanced reading, especially for someone new to earth-based literature such as yourself."

"What then do you suggest?"

"Well," Daniel said as he rose from his desk and scanned the bookshelves that lined his office. "You might want to try start out with something a little easier...like maybe short stories or poetry that was written in more modern-day English."

Bending over slightly, Daniel grabbed a book that was on one of the bottom shelves and then handed it to Teal'c. "Here. My mother always loved poetry, this belonged to her."

Teal'c held the book to his chest and bowed his head slightly. "Thank you for your assistance, Daniel Jackson."

****

"I have yet to decipher the meaning of the text on the device we found on P9N-394. However, the writing on the tablet we recovered indicates that the Goa'uld Nirrti ruled over the Dabian people," Daniel spoke into the recorder held in his hand. "The doctor...err...I mean...décor...of the temple appears to have Middle Eastern influences, which supports the notion that the planet once fell under Nirrti's domain. According to the Dabians, after Nirrti left they were protected by Fraiser...uh...Freyr, who moved the people away from the Stargate to a better location on the planet."

Daniel switched the recorder off with a sigh, took his glasses off, and allowed his head to sink until his forehead was resting against the surface of his desk. "This is ridiculous," Daniel muttered to himself.

That was the fourth time he'd messed up his note dictation from SG-1's last mission.

Damn Janet for having worn that perfume today.

During his post-mission exam it took every ounce of resilience he had not to lose himself in her scent...or do something foolish like jump off that infirmary bed and kiss her senseless.

"Ridiculous," Daniel repeated, squashing the idea before he could dwell on it.

Attempting to get a hold of his thoughts, Daniel turned his attention back to the alien device he'd discovered. The orb was somewhat of a puzzle. It seemed to be made out of naquadah and was small enough to fit into his hand. On the top of the sphere were etchings of an obscure language, and a transparent circle that reminded Daniel of a Magic 8 Ball. The bottom half of the circle was covered with tiny holes, almost like it had been injected with a thousand needles.

Like the needles that could be found in the infirmary, often held by a certain 5'-nothing fiery redhead...

Daniel shook the thought away. Janet was his colleague, his friend, his *doctor* and...that was all. Period. End of sentence.

'So why am I thinking about her more and more?' A voice in the back of his mind nagged. 'Why do I always want to know her opinion on everything? Why do I look forward to my pre-mission and post-mission exams?'

Daniel sighed as a rhythmic beat began pounding behind his eyes. 'Ugh, headache...maybe I should go see Janet...' He groaned as thoughts of Janet began to spin around inside his mind again.

He knew all the reasons why it was wrong. He was her patient, she was his doctor, Air Force regulations wouldn't allow them to have such a relationship, and Janet's moral code as a doctor also forbade it.

He knew what he should do. He should just forget about it, forget about her. He should stop obsessing over Janet and then maybe he could find someone else he could share his life with.

Daniel sighed. The only problem with that was...he didn't want anyone else.

His musings were interrupted by a knock on his door.

"Teal'c, come in," Daniel greeted, gesturing towards an unoccupied chair.

"Daniel Jackson," Teal'c replied, bowing his head slightly. "Am I interrupting?" he asked, looking pointedly at the small alien orb that Daniel was holding in his hand.

Daniel let out a breath. "No, not really. I could use a break anyways. Need help with something?" he asked, indicating the familiar book Teal'c was holding.

"Indeed. I came upon a writing, that I do not quite understand."

"The wording?"

"No. The words make sense, but I do not understand the meaning."

"Well, what does it say?"

"It speaks of a man who came across two paths. He looked down both of them and then chose to walk on the second road."

"The Road Not Taken," Daniel said, recognizing the poem Teal'c was referring to.

Teal'c nodded. "I do not understand the significance of choosing a direction to travel."

But Daniel was no longer listening. Instead, he was staring intently at the alien device that was perched in his right hand.

"Is something wrong, Daniel Jackson?"

"Uh, no...I just...well. It's strange, the device seemed to grow warm in my hand, and when I looked at it, I could've sworn I saw a flash of blue light coming from..." Daniel's words were cut off as his right hand suddenly jerked and he collapsed to the floor in a heap.

****

Whispers, voices, streaks of light...

Daniel's eyes opened slowly as his mind slowly returned to consciousness. Raising his head, he looked around to find that he was hunched over his desk.

"That was weird," Daniel said aloud as he rubbed the back of his neck and thought about the dream he'd just woken up from.

'No wonder the alien device shocked me in my dream,' Daniel thought as he wiggled his tingling fingers. Sleeping with his head on his hand had cut off his circulation, and his brain had incorporated the feeling into his dream.

Maybe Janet was right...maybe he *did* overwork himself. After all, this wasn't the first time he'd fallen asleep on his desk. Daniel leaned back in his chair and stretched, the muscles in his back complaining of maltreatment.

Janet again. It's no wonder he'd fallen asleep at his desk. His thoughts had been so preoccupied with her that he'd gotten almost no work done. This obsession with her had to end.

Besides, what else could he do? Acting on his feelings might very well destroy their friendship. That was a risk he just wasn't willing to take. It would be much easier on everyone involved if he just kept his mouth shut.

Daniel had made his decision. From now on his feelings towards Janet would be similar to his feelings for Sam, she would be like his sister. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing but.

Nodding with finality, Daniel returned to this work.

****

Whispers, voices...

Daniel woke with a start. He wasn't normally one to have nightmares, but it seemed that tonight was the exception. The dreams were nonsensical and disturbing, and made even less sense now that he was awake. Unwilling to lie in bed any longer, he carefully sat up and stretched.

Daniel got up and made his way into the bathroom. The cool water he splashed on his face helped clear his head and calm his nerves. Already the details of the nightmare had faded past the edge of his memory, but the uneasy feelings they had left behind were still there.

His apartment was cold and disquieting, serving only to disturb him further. One glance around the darkened room made up Daniel's mind. Throwing on some clothes and grabbing his keys, Daniel decided to head back to the SGC. Hopefully once he was there he could lose himself in his work and escape his troubled thoughts.

It had always worked before.

****

Whispers, voices...

He found himself staring down at hands that belonged to a stranger. Time, work, and age had worn and wrinkled them. Surely these hands didn't belong to him.

But they did.

Looking up, Daniel caught his reflection in a nearby mirror. His hair was gray and thinning, his face looked wrinkled and tired.

"Dr. Jackson?" a voice said to his right. "It's time for your medication."

"Medication?" he asked, suddenly confused. "Where am I? Where's SG-1?"

The nurse tried not to roll her eyes. "Dr. Jackson, we go through this everyday. I have other residents to see to."

"Where is SG-1?" Daniel asked again.

"Take your medication," the nurse said, handing him a pill and a small cup of water.

Daniel quickly drank the pill down and watched as the nurse gave him a fake smile. "Very good. See you tomorrow," and with that she walked towards the door. "He gets worse everyday," he heard her mutter as she disappeared into the hallway.

His confusion faded away as his memory returned. There was no SG-1. At least not one made up of him and his friends. That life had long since passed. All that he had left now were his memories.

Daniel curled up on his bed and tried not to cry.

He'd never felt more alone in his life.

****

Whispers, voices, streaks of light...

Damn Janet for having worn that perfume today.

Sweet torture, that's what it was. He could do without the hours of lightheadedness it inevitably caused, but God, how he loved that scent. It was gentle, it was alluring, it was...Janet.

Daniel wasn't sure what the name of the perfume was, but he was suddenly struck with the urge to find out and buy her the biggest bottle of it he could find.

He leaned back in his chair and looked up at the ceiling, as if all the answers to his problems were up there.

As far as he could tell, he only had two options. One involved keeping his mouth shut and moving on with life. That option didn't sound especially promising, but it seemed to be the safest way to go.

The other option was telling Janet how he felt. Could he really do that? The more he thought about it, the more he realized how much better that option sounded to his heart. After all, what could be worse than knowing he loved her, and doing nothing about it?

Maybe a relationship with her was impossible. Maybe she didn't have feelings for him at all. Maybe it would never work out.

But then again, maybe it wasn't, she did, and it would.

Nevertheless, he could no longer deny his feelings for her. And if nothing else, he owed it to Janet to tell her.

And that's what he was going to do.

Nodding with finality, Daniel returned to this work.

****

Whispers, voices...

Daniel woke with a start. He wasn't normally one to have nightmares, but it seemed that tonight was the exception. The dreams were nonsensical and disturbing, and made even less sense now that he was awake. Unwilling to lie in bed any longer, he carefully sat up and stretched.

His movement caused the small figure beside him to stir. Not wanting to disturb her sleep, Daniel got up quietly and made his way into the bathroom. The cool water he splashed on his face helped clear his head and calm his nerves. Already the details of the nightmare had faded past the edge of his memory, but the uneasy feelings they had left behind were still there.

"Are you okay?" Daniel heard a sleepy voice say as he dried his face.

"I'm fine," Daniel replied automatically, earning him a stern look. "Really."

"Okay..." she replied, her voice still harboring suspicion.

Daniel smiled as he reached out and pulled her into his arms. "I promise, Janet," he said, breathing in her clean scent and placing a gentle kiss on her neck. "I'm feeling much better now."

"Yeah, I can tell," Janet replied with a small laugh as he kissed his way to her mouth.

"I love you, you know," Daniel said between kisses.

"I know," Janet replied pulling away slightly so she could look him in the eye. "I love you, too."

****

Whispers, voices...

Time had been kind to Janet. Daniel couldn't help but smile as he tucked a loose strand of graying hair behind her ear.

"What are you laughing at?" she asked, her brown eyes as warm and loving as ever.

"Nothing," he reassured her. "Just admiring the scenery."

"The sunset is that way," she told him, pointing towards the horizon. "You were looking at me."

"I know," Daniel said with a broad grin.

"Flattery will get you everywhere," she said, snuggling up beside him.

"I certainly hope so," Daniel replied, wagging his eyebrows.

Janet's jaw dropped. "I can't believe you just..."

She didn't get to finish her sentence, as Daniel interrupted by dropping a sweet kiss on her mouth.

"One day, you're going to have to find a better way to win an argument," Janet commented.

"You sure about that?" Daniel replied, cocking his head to the side.

Janet pondered this for a moment. "Hmm, you're right, I like your way," she said, leaning forward to recapture his lips.

Daniel sighed with happy contentment as they finally parted. "I knew you'd see it my way."

****

Whispers, voices, streaks of light...

He was blind. He was deaf. He couldn't think. He couldn't speak.

Then images, impressions, memories, dreams raced through his mind, one after the other, all moving too quickly for him to hold on to.

Then without warning it stopped, and the darkness returned. But gradually the black faded to gray, then to white, then...

Daniel's eyes flew open, and were immediately greeted by blinding light. He groaned in complaint as his eyes snapped shut.

"Doctor Fraiser," he heard a voice say. "He's coming to."

"Daniel?" a familiar voice above him said. "Daniel, do you know where you are?"

He slowly pried his eyes open again and tried to come up with the answer amidst his jumbled thoughts and feelings. "Infirm..." he struggled to reply.

"That's right. Do you know who I am?"

Daniel looked up at her and smiled. "An angel?"

"Not quite," she replied with a laugh.

"You sure?"

"Yes."

'Why is it so hard to think?' he wondered, willing his thoughts to clear.

"Janet?"

"Very good."

"What happened?"

"I was hoping you could tell me. What's the last thing you remember?"

Good question. What was the last thing? Somehow he didn't believe the answers he was coming up with.

"I'm...not sure. How long have I been here?"

"Two days. Teal'c found you unconscious in your office."

"Teal'c...my office," Daniel repeated. That he remembered. Sort of. Apparently he hadn't dreamed that part up. "Yeah, I was working on a translation, a tablet and a device we found on..."

"P9N-394," Janet supplied.

"Yeah." It was coming back to him now. "I was trying to get a closer look at the writing on the device...and Teal'c was asking me questions about a book that I'd let him borrow...and...that's all I remember."

"We think you might have accidentally activated the device, and it caused you to pass out. Sam and Dr. Lee have been running tests on it, trying to figure out what it's supposed to do."

"Did they find anything?"

"Not yet. But now that you're awake, I wouldn't mind running a few tests of my own. Think you're up to it?"

Daniel nodded. "Lead the way."

****

"Hey, Sam," Daniel greeted his friend as she walked through the infirmary door. "What's up?"

"Daniel, you're looking a lot better," Sam commented as she sat down beside his bed.

"I feel fine. But Janet..."

"Won't let you go until your tests come back," Sam finished with a knowing grin.

"Yeah."

"Where's Colonel O'Neill?"

"Janet ordered him out for awhile to get some sleep," Daniel said. "She said you and Dr. Lee were working on the device."

Sam nodded. "From what we can tell, it somehow affects a person's thoughts. We don't know much about it yet but Dr. Balinsky was able to decipher some of the writing."

"What did it say?" Daniel said leaning closer in anticipation.

"Well, he's translated the words 'possibilities' and 'thoughts' and the phrase 'choose your path wisely'."

"Okay...what does that mean?"

"I'm not sure, but once you're out of here, maybe you can decipher the rest and figure it out. As for what it did to you...did you notice a blue light on the top of it?"

"Why?"

"It seems that the technology is very similar to the memory recall device that the Tok'ra use. The light on this device does a...thought scan, for lack of a better term, on the person who's looking at it."

"It scanned my thoughts?"

"Yeah, also on the bottom we found a sharp, retractable instrument, almost like a needle."

"So what does all that mean?" Daniel asked.

Sam shrugged. "I'm sorry, Daniel. We're not exactly sure yet."

****

"Did you get my blood work back?" Daniel asked the second Janet entered the room.

"Yes," Janet replied with a smile. "The abnormality that we found in the earlier test is gone, so I think it's safe to assume that everything is back to normal."

"The...abnormality," Daniel began. "Do you know what it was?"

"Not yet, the lab is still running a few tests on it. But just to be on the safe side, I'd like for you to stay on the base tonight."

"But Janet I'm..."

"Ah!" Janet said, holding up a finger to silence him.

"I know!" Daniel said in defeat. "Doctor's orders."

Janet gave him a quizzical look, but it quickly dissolved into a smile. "You've been my patient for too long," she teased.

"Doctor Fraiser?" came a voice from the doorway.

Janet and Daniel looked up at the nurse that had just entered the infirmary. She stepped forward and handed a file to Janet. "The lab wanted me to give this report to you."

"Thank you," Janet said, flipping the file folder open. "Hmmm...well, the lab report says that the abnormality was some kind of hallucinogenic drug mixed with a powerful sedative. The device must've injected you with it somehow. But what I don't understand is why?" Janet asked. "What purpose does it serve?"

Daniel's mind was racing. "I'm not sure exactly," he said. "But I intend to find out."

****

"Daniel?" a voice from the door said.

"Hey, Jack," Daniel returned, not looking up from the papers laid across his desk.

"Whatcha doing?"

"Same thing I was doing an hour ago when you came by."

"Exactly my point," Jack said, stepping into the room. "You've been hunched over that desk for hours now. Doc'll kill you if she finds out how long you've been at this."

"Yeah, I know, but I'm close to finishing the translation. Then I can figure out what it does...or what it was trying to do."

"We know what it does. It knocks people out for two days."

"No, there's more to it than that, Jack." Daniel picked up the device and pointed to the etchings at the top. "This reads, 'On life's journey the possibilities are endless. Thoughts and experience help us choose the best course. Choose your path wisely.'"

"Uh-huh..." Jack said, looking thoughtful. "Yeah...got nothing."

"Yeah, same here. But I'm...I'm close, I can feel it."

"Well, I'm heading to the commissary," Jack said, walking towards the doorway. "You're welcome to join me."

"Yeah, I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Yeah. Sure," Jack called back in reply, his voice echoing down the hallway.

Daniel let out a small sigh and got back to work.

****

He wasn't entirely sure how much time had passed since Jack had left, but the complaining of his stomach told him it had been at least a couple of hours. And he was getting nowhere fast. What possible purpose did the hallucinations he had serve? Who would create a device that would put you through that...and more importantly why?

The approach of heavy footsteps interrupted Daniel's train of thinking.

"It is good to see that you are well again, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said as he entered Daniel's office.

"Thanks, Teal'c," Daniel replied, giving his friend a smile. "How was the mission with SG-3 to M78-629?"

"Uneventful."

Daniel nodded, and for the first time noticed the item that was tucked under Teal'c's arm.

"Ah, the poetry book. How are your literature studies going?"

"I believe the last time we mentioned such things, you were rendered unconscious."

Daniel smiled. "Well, it wasn't from boredom, I'm sure."

"You were explaining to me the meaning of the poem about roads when you collapsed."

"Right, I remember that," Daniel said with a nod. "Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken."

"I have made little progress concerning it's meaning."

"Well, try not to think of it so logically, Teal'c. In a literary sense, roads are often compared to choices in life that we make. It shows that the decisions you make effect the course of your li..."

Daniel stopped abruptly as the missing pieces he was looking for fell into place. "Oh, you've got to be kidding me," he muttered aloud.

"Is something wrong, Daniel Jackson?"

"No, in fact... I think...I just figured out what this device was designed to do."

****

"So, what are you saying, Dr. Jackson?" General Hammond asked.

"Well, this device was developed to help a person make key decisions in life. Using this technology, the device scans your thoughts and feelings, and then maps out what the possible effects of your decision would be. Through hallucinations it allows you to actually experience the possible consequences of a decision."

"Would you suggest actually using such a device?"

"No, sir," Sam spoke up from across the table. "It's not a time traveling or a fortune telling device. The possibilities it puts forth to the user may well never happen."

"Uh, as far as we know, that is," Daniel spoke up somewhat defensively.

"Right," Sam conceded.

The general nodded. "All right, people. We'll have the device shipped to Area 51 for further study. That should do it for tonight. SG-1, you are on stand-down until your next mission. Dismissed."

"So, Daniel," Jack began as he rose from his chair in the Briefing Room. "What did the freaky Magic 8 Ball make you see?"

"Hmm?" Daniel asked, getting to his feet. "Oh, I, uh, don't really remember. I think the sedative must've been too high for me to remember what the hallucinations were."

"Right," Jack said with a disbelieving look. "So, dinner?"

Daniel gave his friend a somewhat guilty look. "Uh, actually, I can't."

"Oh?"

"Yeah, sorry. I have some things to finish up with Janet."

"You're healthy! You'd think she'd leave you alone for 5 minutes."

Daniel couldn't help but smile. "Oh, it's not that. I just have some things I need to talk with her about. See you later," and with that, Daniel bounded out of the Briefing Room.

Perplexed, Jack looked back over at Sam, whose thoughtful look mirrored his own.

"You think?" he asked, scratching the back of his head.

Sam broke into a bright smile and nodded slightly.

"Well it's about time."

~Fini~

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~


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