In a former age, they would have been the stuff myths were made on. [for Aella_Irene‘s prompt “SG-1 as people from Greek mythology”]
The first time he walks through the gate after Sha’re is taken, the first time he does it knowing what’s on the other side, does it with his eyes open and fearhopesorrowbitterangerlove in his heart (there is no word in any language for what he feels), he doesn’t look back. He never looks back, every time he walks from one world to another, no matter where he is going or what place he is leaving behind. There wouldn’t be anyone standing there if he did, and there isn’t anyone even though he doesn’t. The god who took Sha’re isn’t one who can be charmed with a song. (Not that he’s much of a singer, anyway.)
Those who challenge the gods are bound to lose, even if they win the competition. She knows this, but it’s not like she has any choice in the matter. Pandora’s box has been opened, the scornful words said, the challenge set. And all her energy must go into the weaving, the steady meshing of familiar technology with alien, fingers sure and fast and unwavering.
She can’t win, but she can’t afford to lose, either. If she does, the penalty will be worse than being turned into a spider, and she won’t be the only one paying the price.
He cannot step away from this, the fight that they will never win. It is his burden to bear; he is strong enough to shoulder the weight of a world (or two or three), and there is no one he both trusts and hates enough to let them take it from him. To bear this load is a choice that he has made freely, and that is enough (barely) to keep him going on the days when he thinks he might be crushed beneath it, when he feels that something must break.
But he does not stand alone.
His liver is picked out and replaced every morning, noon, night, but he can’t see the sky, and he’s only mortal, and his eternity is short. Every time he dies, something shakes loose. He can feel sanity and self slipping through his fingers, like sand through an hourglass. Sooner or later his hands will be empty, and whoever wakes up in the sarcophagus won’t be him. Hercules can come any time now to bust him out—or Teal’c or Sam or a couple of nukes.
Dying wouldn’t be so bad, if he could just stay dead.
(But there’s only Daniel, and he burns everyone he touches, even as he gives light to all. “Jack,” Daniel says, and Jack shudders against the tether of his body, prays that things will end one way or the other before the last thread snaps and he floats free. He’s sick of this merry-go-round, but it’s better than the alternative.)