Aveo ... Amacuse

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  S7/8 - January 25 - March 14, 2005
Spoilers:  Lost City - Parts 1 & 2, New Order - Parts 1 & 2, The Fifth Race (minor), Upgrades (minor), Unnatural Selection (minor), Lockdown (minor), Prophecy
Size:  313kb
Written:  May 6-7,9, 2011, May 17-30, 2017
Summary:  Having just returned to active duty, Jack and Daniel are faced with another crisis, one that threatens the future of Stargate Command, SG-1, and their life together.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Inauguration,” “The Last Mission,” “Don't Mess with Danny,” “Brothers,” “My General,” “Sentimentality,”and “The Pact”
4) Thanks to my readers on my YahooGroups list and those who participate in the chat box on my website for answering several questions that contributed to certain parts of this fic.  Their input is highly appreciated and definitely enhanced the story!

Aveo ... Amacuse
by Orrymain

====
--February 3, 2005
====

Sam stood at the doorway to Daniel's office.  The first thing she noticed was the darkness.  There was but one light on, and it was dimmed.  She realized it was the small work light on the archaeologists's desk.  Then she saw Daniel, his arms folded across the center of the desk and his head bowed down on them.  She considered leaving, but she couldn't.  Her commanding officer would want her to push on and help Daniel during this difficult time.  Once that was an order, but now it was a request between close friends.  It was even more than that.  Sam felt closer to Daniel than she did to anyone at Stargate Command, except perhaps Janet.

~No, it's Daniel.  He's always been there for me, and I need to be here for him now.~

Sam took a deep breath and let her compassion and emotions out a little, something her military training didn't often allow.  She walked inside the lab and closed the door behind her.  She tried to smile, but there was so little to smile about right now.

The woman left the major behind as she gently put her hand on her friend's shoulder and called out his name.

“Daniel.”  There wasn't a response, so Sam kneeled, her right hand sliding down from his back to his left arm.  Gently, she rubbed her hand over the jacket uniform and repeated his name.  “Daniel.”

“Sam?”

“Daniel, what did he say?”

His head raised, an unfocused Daniel, his eyes not looking at anything but the Love in his mind, answered, “He said ... he said ... Jack said, 'Aveo Amacuse'.”

“What does it mean?”

“Goodbye.”

“Daniel, what does it mean?” Sam repeated quietly.

Suddenly drawn from his despair, Daniel rolled his chair back, stood, and walked around Sam to his large worktable.  He picked up a square relic that dated back centuries and almost cried.  The last person to hold it was his Jack, who gave his usual, “This is a toy” performance that Daniel knew was just that, an act.  His lover actually took great care with the discoveries from other planets, but he also loved to taunt Daniel with that notion that a treasured relic could be broken with a quick bout of juggling.

“Daniel, what did the colonel say?” Sam asked again.

“I told you.”

“Yes, partially, but there's more, isn't there?”

Daniel's head involuntarily glanced through the dimness to his science twin and then jutted back to stare straight ahead at the shelves full of planetary finds.  He put down the object, fearing he might actually drop it due to his current state of mind.

Sam went to Daniel's side and did something that was highly unusual for the friends, in spite of their closeness, and yet, Daniel didn't fight it.  She placed her hand on Daniel's, slowly moving it until it clasped in her smaller hand.

“*What* did Jack say to you?” Sam inquired, using the colonel's given name for the second time in a day, another unusual happening as regardless of their friendship, it was simply inappropriate in her mind for her to refer to her commanding officer by his first name.

“Sam, the, uh, uh, the language of the Ancients isn't always easy to translate.  It's such an odd mixing of ancient Latin and, um, e...even Greek.  It sometimes needs a lot of articles and ot...other helper words to really know the true meaning.”

“You know what he said, Daniel.  I felt you trying to keep it together in front of Teal'c and me.  You only told us half of the translation.”

“Sam, I ...”

“What did he say?”  Sam sighed.  “No one knows the language of the Ancients like you do.  You are the *only* one who can put together accurate translations.  *You* are the expert.  I tried to look it up, Daniel.  I know the colonel was speaking to you, not us.  He spoke in the singular, didn't he?”

“Yes,” Daniel finally affirmed.

The blonde was pushing her friend because she knew in her heart that he needed to say it out loud.  He needed to hear the words again and acknowledge that Jack's potentially final words were directed, not at the team and certainly not toward her, but at him.  She'd known about their relationship for years.  At first, it was a hard reality for her to grasp, but over the years, she'd more than accepted it, she became one of only a few to share in their forbidden love, hidden under the guise of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'  She'd played an important role in the lovers' wedding and remembered it now as being a beautiful event.

“And he used the masculine form of the second word, didn't he?  I mean, I admit that was harder for me to determine because of the deviations and variations in the language, but it was the male form, wasn't it?”

Daniel nodded, a slow up and down movement of his head, even as he swallowed hard.

“What did he say ... to you?”  Sam paused and encouraged, “Say it, Daniel.  What did Colonel O'Neill say to you?”

“He ... he said, 'Goodbye ... Beloved.”

Sam raised her head and with her left hand, wiped away the tears that were falling.  She couldn't help herself and let out a sniffle, too.

“Daniel, we're going to get him back.  I don't know how, but we are.  You need to go home and see the girls,” she urged as she referred to Bijou and Katie, the couple's extraordinary beagles whom they considered as their children.  “They need you and you need them.  Come back in the morning and we'll, we'll do what SG-1 always does: we'll make a miracle happen.”

Daniel looked at Sam and squeezed her hand.  He couldn't speak, his watery eyes only one symbol of the pain he felt.

“He loves you, Daniel, and he's fighting to get back to you.  I *know* he is.  I'll see you tomorrow, okay?”

The archaeologist bobbed his head a few times which was the only way he could communicate at the moment.

Sam gave Daniel a hug and could feel the depth of his emotions.  She didn't know what else to do right now, so she smiled encouragingly.

“We'll get him back.”  Sam walked to the door and placed her hand on the knob.  She looked over at her friend and implored, “Go home, Daniel.”

As Sam left him alone in his lab, Daniel closed his eyes and whispered, “Gawd, how we'd get here ... again?”

//Flashback//
====
--January 25, 2005
====

“That went well,” Jack singsonged as SG-1 returned to Earth through the Stargate.

“Doctor Jackson, are the Hedronix back on board?” Hammond inquired anxiously in reference to one of Earth's newest and best allies.

“I think so, Sir,” Daniel replied as the team stood at the edge of the ramp.  “Ardyl is willing to continue the alliance.”

“As long as Daniel is our mouthpiece,” Jack quipped dryly, glancing over at Sam for a half second.

Hammond nodded and advised, “We'll debrief in a half hour.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack acknowledged, turning over his weapon to an SF and then starting toward the exit.

Daniel followed closely and spoke in a natural tone, “If we mess this up, Jack, it could be bad for Earth.”

“Mister Negative,” the colonel snarked.

“I'm not being negative, I'm just saying ...”

“Daniel's right, Sir,” Sam interjected from her position behind the two men.

“Then play nice,” Jack responded to the major.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam sighed.  ~He's going to blame me for months.~

Blame may or may not have been the right word for Sam to think, but she couldn't come up with a better one at the moment.  Recent times had been especially difficult for Jack and Daniel.  During a mission to a planet designated as P3R-228, the archaeologist was severely wounded.  His recovery included multiple surgeries and procedures over several weeks.

What no one but the couple knew before that mission was that it was to have been their last mission.  They were planning to submit their resignations.  It's what made Daniel's near-mortal injuries so poignant and hard to take.

With his Love's injuries so severe, Jack actually threw out the book on “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” and refused to hide his relationship with Daniel any further.  Wearing his wedding ring, the colonel openly held his soulmate's hand and spoke tender endearments.  Once feeling better, Daniel returned home, and the soulmates began their retirement.

However, the outgoing President and the Pentagon had other ideas.  They were willing to look the other way as long as the two men would return to work.  The couple refused; that is, until Sam made one last plea that totally resonated in the hearts of both men.

Though their decision was complicated, Jack and Daniel were now back at Cheyenne Mountain.  Reluctantly, they removed their wedding rings, placing them inside velvet pouches they kept somewhere on their persons for the foreseeable future.  Those who were aware of their love affair were convinced to look the other way as well or face dismal assignments for the rest of their careers.

As for Sam, she wasn't particularly happy about being the one to convince her teammates to return to the Program, even though she knew SGC would be better with them back in the fold.  While Daniel didn't appear to harbor any malcontent towards her, the colonel clearly wasn't pleased with his second-in-command at the moment.

“All I'm saying is that ...”

“Daniel, I know what you're saying,” Jack stated, cutting off his lover's words.  “What's next on the agenda?”

“A shower,” Sam joked, cringing at the glare her commanding officer shot back at her.  ~Maybe I was being too optimistic; the colonel may never forgive me.~

“One of the TV networks is showing a documentary on your President's inauguration day.  Perhaps you would like to watch it with me,” Teal'c suggested to his teammates, his comments referring to the swearing in of President Henry Hayes that occurred on the previous Thursday.

“T, I know it beats the System Lord political structure, but trust me, there's nothing exciting about watching a politician blowing out how air,” Jack responded.

“Jack, we agreed to give President Hayes a chance,” Daniel interjected about the newly elected President.

“I know all I need to know.”

“Kinsey is his VP, Daniel,” Sam put forth in bitter amazement, speaking about Senator Robert Kinsey who was now the vice president of the country.

Daniel cocked his head in response, not happy about having a man like Kinsey in such a high government position, but he did believe Hayes was the best political choice for the top office.  He and Jack both agreed, which is why he realized his husband was suffering from the back-at-work blues and putting the responsibility on Sam when the reality was the decision was theirs, not hers.

“Bart could do a better job,” Jack stated about the cartoon character of Bart Simpson.

The teammates nodded, having no argument with Jack's assertion.  Quietly, they made their way toward the locker room.

====

“Grrrrr, backatcha,” Jack barked at Katie as the two fought over a tug toy that evening.  “Oh, take it,” he sighed, rolling over on the grass and looking up at the partly cloudy sky.  Then he saw the shadow looming over him.  “You're blocking my view.”

“Jack, don't take your frustration out on Katie,” Daniel warned about the youngest of the couple's two beagles.

“Who's frustrated?”

“You are.”

“Daniel ...”

“Jack, I don't care if you're mad at me, but the girls are innocent bystanders.”

With a grunt, Jack jumped up to a sitting position, pulled the beagle to his chest, and hugged her playfully.

“Thank you,” Daniel stated before returning to the house.

As he tugged the roped toy, Jack sighed, “You know I love you.  Was I out of line?”

“Woof,” came the soft affirmation.

“Sorry 'bout that.”  Jack held Katie and confided, “We were just so close.”  He smiled at the kisses given to him by the beagle and even let out a laugh when her licks tickled his nose.  “Yeah, you're right.  It'll happen, one of these days.”

====

Jack walked out of the bathroom in his burgundy silk pajamas and immediately gazed at his lover, who was sitting up in bed with a book in his hands.  Daniel was wearing the emerald green pajamas with mummies on them that Jack gave him for Christmas one year.

With a sigh, Jack walked over and sat down on his partner's side of the bed.

“Love, I'm sorry.”

“About?”

“Hey, we made the decision to return to work together and I've been acting like it your fault, or Carter's.  That was wrong, and I am sorry.”

“You need to apologize to Sam.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Am I forgiven?”

Daniel put his book down and cupped his husband's face in his hands.  He gazed into Jack's eyes and slowly inched forward until the two were kissing.  When they parted, they could feel a loving calm between them.

“I understand,” Daniel spoke.  “I do.  It was ... hard to go back when our tomorrow was almost a reality.”

“I'll rein it in and apologize to Carter tomorrow, and I'll dump Mister Grouch in the trash can before we leave the house.”

“You do that, Babe.”

Daniel's focused shifted to the burgundy top Jack was wearing and then to the bottoms.  He loved Jack in burgundy above all else, with the man's gray sweats a close second, or maybe it was third.  He also had a major sensual boost whenever his husband wore his dress blues and as he thought about it now, he was having a super difficult time ranking the three outfits.  He also had another problem.  Though he literally was doing physical cartwheels in response to Jack's attire, he was just as eager to peel the clothing away.

“Jack,” Daniel gasped.

“Oh, yeah!”

The lovers were finally ready to get back to their normal routine, which right now meant a round or two of intense lovemaking.  Letting go of any negativity from the loss of their retirement, the lovers joined together and focused on the night and the ecstasy it gave them.

====

With the tension of the previous day completely gone, Jack, Daniel, and Sam were all heading for the exit at the end of their shift.  They were talking about something unusual as they walked.

“It seemed so simple that I missed it,” Sam remarked.

“What was the clue?” Daniel asked.

“It was 'one for the record books' and it took me two hours to figure it out,” the woman sighed.

“You should have come to me, Carter,” Jack responded.  “Crossword puzzles are my specialty.”

“Since when?” Daniel questioned.

“I do puzzles.”

“Okay,” the archaeologist returned, trying to remember any time where he'd seen Jack working on a crossword or any word puzzle.

“Care to make a little wager, Sir?” Sam offered.

“How much?”

“If you successfully complete tomorrow morning's crossword puzzle by the end of the day and *without* any help, *especially from Daniel*, you win the bet.  If not, I win.”

“How much, Carter?” Jack repeated.

“Thirty,” the very confident Sam suggested.

“It's a bet.”

====

The next morning, Jack spent the entire forenoon working on the puzzle.  It was difficult, but he did it.  When he handed it to Sam, she was stunned.

“How'd you do that?”

“I told you, Carter, I'm good at puzzles.”

“I bet you can't do it again.”

“How much?” the colonel queried.

“Double or nothing.”

“You're on.”

“Remember, Sir, no help from Daniel.”

With a cocky grin, Jack turned and left Sam's lab.

====
--January 28, 2005
====

On this Friday, Daniel had an earlier call than his soulmate and was already hard at work at Cheyenne Mountain by the time Jack ate breakfast and then prepared himself to go to work.  At the moment, the colonel was in the bathroom, shaving.  He was also working on the crossword puzzle that he'd ripped out of the morning newspaper.  Most of the blanks were filled in, but he was still trying to complete the puzzle.  He taped the puzzle to the mirror and kept looking at it as he shaved.

Determined to solve the puzzle to win the bet with Sam, Jack was so involved with it that he didn't even realize the mirror was fogged up from steam.  He wiped the mirror, but his focus was on the puzzle.  Even when his cell phone rang, he continued to shave and think about the clue he was trying to find the answer for.  Finally, though, he picked up the phone, though he felt agitated at being interrupted.

“What?” Jack snapped.

In a total opposite tone, Daniel quietly responded, “Jack, I've been translating the ancient writing on the colonnade SG-2 discovered on P3X-439.”

“Daniel, I'll be there in half an hour.”

“It talks about a library of knowledge, Jack.  I think the monument contains a repository of the Ancients.”

“Repository you say.”

“Yeah, you know, that thing that grabbed your head, made you talk crazy, nearly killed you.”

“Well, sounds like we should stay away then.”

“Well, considering what we know now, we should be able to find another way to access the information.  Sam's been able to use Tok'ra crystals to, to find a way to transfer all kinds of different energies, I mean ...”

Jack's foamy face caused foam to cover his mobile phone.  As his husband spoke, Jack put the phone under the water in the sink and washed it off, even turning on the water and running it over the device.

“We should go there as soon as possible,” Daniel stated, after which Jack returned his phone to his ear.

“Yeah?” Jack responded, not having heard any of Daniel's advisory.

“So?”

“I'll be there in half an hour.”

“Okay, bye.”

“No, no, no, wait, don't hang up.  I need a seven-letter word.”

“I told Sam I wouldn't help you.”

“Well then, this will be the *one* thing she doesn't know.  'Up, down, charmed, blank'.”

“Strange,” Daniel answered.

“N-yeah.  Well, thanks anyway,” Jack responded as he lowered his phone.

“No, the word you're looking for ...”

Jack disconnected the call, cleaned his razor, and ripped away the crossword puzzle before exiting the bathroom.

Back in his office, Daniel continued, “... is str... Jack?  Jack?”  Shaking his head, Daniel hung up the phone.  ~I don't think he was listening to me.~

====

Eager to discuss his findings with his lover, Daniel waited by the Level 28 elevators where he knew Jack would go upon arriving at the base.  He looked at his watch and groaned.

“Daniel, where's the colonel?” Sam asked as she got off the elevator that just opened.

“Late,” the archaeologist responded.

“We knew he couldn't be here an half-hour,” Sam stated.

“Knowing Jack, he might ... speed.”

Sam tried to hide her amusement, but she couldn't.

“Are you saying the colonel has a lead foot like you do?”

“Sam, I had to drive that fast to get up those sandy dunes in Egypt,” Daniel rationalized about the time when he, Sam, and Janet went to Egypt in an attempt to track down Osiris.

“You were a madman, Daniel, and if the colonel drives like you, I'll never let him drive anywhere with me in the car, either.”

“Well, it's been over thirty minutes, so he's not going over the speed limit,” Daniel returned, knowing that a normal drive to the Mountain from home was forty minutes.

“Has not O'Neill arrived?” Teal'c asked when next the elevator doors opened.

“No,” both Daniel and Sam replied.

Minutes passed as the three teammates waited.  Finally, the doors opened again and Jack stepped off the elevator.  He saw his lover on the left, tapping his watch dramatically.  Teal'c was on his right with his hands behind him as if he were participating in a drill.  Sam was in the middle, her hands on her hips and an unhappy expression on her face.

“How long have you been waiting there?” the colonel asked.

“You said half-an-hour an hour ago,” Daniel complained.

“General Hammond's waiting,” Sam advised.

Jack walked forward and handed Sam the completed crossword puzzle with an air of triumph, and pushed by his lover as he said, “Excuse me.”

Suddenly aware of what happened, Sam bemoaned, “The fate of the world is hanging in the balance and you've been sitting in your truck, finishing this?”

“I believe it was double or nothing,” Jack recalled about their bet.

Reviewing the puzzle, Sam replied, “Okay, twenty-three across, 'the atomic weight of boron'.  The answer is ten.”

“Yes.”

“You wrote the word 'fat',” Sam stated, folding up the crossword and pushing it toward her commanding officer.

Jack snatched the paper and asked, “Your point?”  There was no response as the teammates continued up the stairs to the briefing room where the team leaders for SG-5 and SG-3 were already present.  “Harper, Reynolds.”

“Jack,” Reynolds acknowledged.

As they awaited Hammond's arrival and stood behind their chairs of choice, Sam advised, “SG-3 spotted a Goa'uld reconnaissance drone while on the planet where they found the colonnade.  Since that obviously means the Goa'uld were aware of its existence, SG's 3 and 5 will be providing back-up, if General Hammond approves the mission.”

“What mission?” Jack asked just as the general entered from his office.

“Good morning, SG-1.”  To Jack he added, “Nice of you to join us.”

“Good morning, Sir,” Jack responded.  ~Why is everybody so concerned about what time I got here this morning?~

With everyone seated, Hammond stated, “I've read Doctor Jackson's report on his translation.  Given what happened the last time you encountered something like this, I'm surprised you're so willing to take on this mission.”

“So am I, Sir.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel?”

“Why wouldn't we want to gain access to the greatest repository of knowledge in the known universe, once and for all finding the Lost City of the Ancients, and use their technology to save the entire galaxy from the evil oppression of the Goa'uld?”

“Well, there's that.”

Reynolds commented, “From the mission file I've read, it's one of those things that whips up from the wall, grabs your head, and rearranges your brain, right?”

“Sort of,” Daniel answered.

“Sort of?”

Sam explained, “It basically downloads the entire library of Ancient knowledge into a person's mind.  That massive amount of data then slowly unspools into your brain, eventually taking over your consciousness completely.”

“Except it wasn't meant for a physiology as primitive as ours,” Daniel added.

“Easy fella,” Jack retorted.

Daniel put his hand and mouthed, “Sorry,” to his lover.

“I thought the report said you almost died last time, Sir,” Harper asked.

Teal'c interjected, “The Asgard removed the information from O'Neill's mind before he was lost to us.”

“So, why don't we just shoot Thor a call, get him standing by as back up?” Jack put forward.

“We tried, Sir.  He's not responding,” Sam advised.

“None of our alien allies have been particularly reliable of late.  Should something happen again ...” Hammond began.

Daniel interrupted, “General, no one's saying anyone should directly interface with the device.  We're suggesting it be extracted and brought home for study.”

“The engineering team that studied the last one of these devices you found determined nothing after six months of research,” Hammond reminded.

Sam noted, “We believe that that device's power source was depleted after Colonel O'Neill activated it.”

Hammond looked at Jack and stated, “Recent Intel suggests that Anubis has become a serious threat to dominate the rest of the Goa'uld in a very short time. We have to consider Earth is at risk now more than ever.  If the knowledge contained within this device can lead us to technologies we can use to defend ourselves, we must pursue it.”

Jack looked at his soulmate and questioned, “Why didn't you just say that?”

“Sorry.”

“You have a go, and be careful, people.”

====

“Jack,” Daniel called out as they geared up in the locker room.

“You rang?”

The archaeologist walked to Jack's side, briefly glanced over at Teal'c, who was at the other end of the room, and asked, “Did you hear anything I said on the phone this morning?”

“Sure.”

“Why don't I believe you?”

“Okay, so the phone was foamy and I had to give it bath.”

“What?”  Daniel shook it off and said, “Next time, just ask me to hold a minute.”

“Daniel, have you ever tried to shut you up?  Seriously, and I'm not being mean, cause you know how I ... you know, but have you tried?”

“Jack, how could I?  I'm me.”

“Amen,” a smiling Jack responded before shutting his locker door and walking out of the room.

~Why is it I love him so much?~ Daniel asked himself before picking up his notebook and exiting the area.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel was swaying as he stopped his review of the latest nightmare to impact his eternal love affair with Jack.  He felt weak, like he was about to collapse, but that's when Sam's words rang in his ears.

“You need to go home and see the girls.  They need you and you need them,” Sam had told him a half-hour ago.

“Home?  How can I go home?  My home is Jack.”  Daniel wanted to crawl into a corner of his lab, but Sam's words continued to echo in his mind.  She was right.  He had a duty and obligation to the beagles, and he loved them, just as surely as if they were human children.  “Okay, tonight I'll go ... to the house.”

====

As soon as Daniel walked inside the cherished residence and opened the patio door to let the two dogs inside, both canines looked at him strangely.  They knew something was wrong.

Katie ran to the front entryway and peeked her nose through the window slats.  Bijou waited for a response, her eyes going from her daughter to her human.  With a sad trot, Katie returned from where she started.  She stared sadly at her mother and then looked up at Daniel.

“It's, uh, he's ... Jack won't be home for a while.”

Katie approached Daniel and sat down right by his left foot, while Bijou considered her options.  Ultimately, the mama beagle headed for the stairs.  When she reached them, she turned and let out with a tiny whine.

“Okay,” Daniel agreed, bending over and picking up Katie, after which he followed Bijou up the stairs and into the master bedroom.  For a minute, Daniel was paralyzed, unable to move after reaching the doorway.  Then he felt the loving kiss of Katie and he leaned his head against hers.  “What are we going to do?”

“Woof,” Bijou called out before she jumped on the large bed.

Daniel put Katie down on the bed as well.  He took off his jacket and sat down on his end of the bed.  Then he settled back against the headboard.  Instantly, he had his arms full of beagles.

“Well, things were great at first, but then I found out that the very reason we didn't retire was within reach.  It's my fault.”

The beagles both leaned against Daniel and responded with low growls of disagreement.

“The mission started out okay, but it went bad fast, too fast.”

//Flashback//
In the gate room, Hammond addressed his men: “SG teams 1, 3, and 5, good luck. God speed.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Jack gratefully acknowledged as he considered those last two words to be good luck themselves.  “Let's move out!”

The group exited the wormhole to arrive on P3X-439.  Jack ordered Reynolds to set up a defense perimeter and hold the Gate until SG-1 returned.

The team made good time as they reached the colonnade, but then things slowed down a bit.  Jack walked around for a while and sat down on the brown grass as he watched for anything at all to break the monotony, while Teal'c roamed around in boredom as well.  Daniel was beneath a walkway, writing in his notebook, as Sam studied the opposite wall.

“You know, we've searched this place, up and down,” Jack stated loudly from his position.

“I know,” Daniel acknowledged.

“We could have Goa'uld on our collective sixes any minute now.”

Daniel peeked out between the columns, looking in Jack's direction as he replied, “I know.”  He paused and advised, “According to the text on this column, it's inside.”

“Inside you say,” Jack said and then stood up.  Walking towards his team, he continued, “Well, let me tell you, my friend.  There is no inside.  There's just a whole lotta outside.”

Still focused on his notebook, Daniel spoke yet again, “I know.”

Then Sam, who was scanning the wall with a device, reported, “I'm getting some strange readings coming from here.”

Daniel responded, “If I'm right ...”

His words trailing off, the archaeologist pressed against a marking on the wall he was studying.  He moved his hand downward and pressed against another symbol.  Suddenly, on the opposite wall where Sam was getting unusual readings, a repository appeared.  Everyone jumped back in response.

“Look out!” Jack warned.

As the team regained their mental footing, Jack notified Reynolds they may have found something.

“Now we just have to figure out how to get this thing out of the wall,” Sam noted.

As Daniel approached the ancient device with great care, it grew outward in his direction.  Again, the team backed away.

Sam grabbed her friend's left arm and warned, “Careful.”

“Alright, one more time,” Jack clamored pointedly.  “Why are we doing this?  Why?”

Wary of the object, SG-1 moved very slowly as they studied the object and reviewed options for removing it.  Unfortunately, it was a situation with no real solution.

That's when Reynolds contacted Jack over the radio and informed, “SG-1, we have incoming.”

~This is *so* not good.~  Jack and his team quickly saw death gliders speeding towards them.  “Alright, let's go.”

“Jack, we can't just leave,” Daniel implored.

“Daniel ...”

“We must not let this device to fall into the hands of Anubis,” Teal'c asserted.

Frustrated, Jack uttered, “Fine,” as he outstretched his arms in submission.  He grabbed some C-4 and placed it on the wall near the repository.  ~That ought to do it.~

“Jack!” Daniel exclaimed.

“Sir, he's right,” Sam pointed out.  “If we destroy it, we lose our only chance of finding the location of the Lost City.”

“O'Neill,” Teal'c called out as he indicated an Al'kesh was in close range.

“Oh crap.  Alright, then what?”

Following his emotions, Daniel ran toward the repository.

“Oh, no, no, no, no!” Jack ordered, his heart racing with fear.  He sprang forward, pushing Daniel back against an outer column and holding him there with his hands.  ~No way, Danny, Love.~

“Jack, someone has to do it.  The answer is in there,” Daniel pleaded as he pointed to the repository.  “If we don't find the Lost City, we're as good as dead. Let me do it!”

“And who does the translating when you go Ancient?” Jack challenged.  **Danny, I can't let you do this.**

**We have no choice, Jack.  This is why we didn't retire.  We can't walk away.**

Jack's pulse was skyrocketing from the reality of the situation.  The Al'kesh loomed large above them and a bomb dropped nearby as if to give a thunderous countdown to the death of SG-1 and Earth.

**It can't be you,** Jack argued.  “In fact, you're the one person who can't do it!”

To Daniel's horror, Jack removed his baseball cap and shoved it against his chest before rising and going to the device.  His hands against the wall, Jack stared inside the center until the repository expanded outward and grabbed his head.

“*Jack!*” Daniel out.  **No, Jack.**

There was nothing Daniel, Sam, or Teal'c could do.  The process was happening.  In what seemed like a lifetime, the hands of the repository released Jack's head and collapsed back into the wall.  Jack fell to the ground and was immediately surrounded by his team with Daniel latching onto his Heart's shoulder.

The team heard Reynolds call out over the radio, asking where they were.

Daniel and Teal'c picked up Jack and put their arms around him as a support.  They fled towards the Stargate with Sam close behind.  As the major trailed her teammates, she advised SG-3's team leader that they were headed back to the Gate.

As they hurried, Daniel noticed a fighter plane approaching and yelled for his teammates to get down.  In the process, Jack landed with his face against the ground.  The archaeologist went to his lover and rolled him over.

“Jack?  Jack you okay?”

Seemingly unaware of what was happening, Jack cluelessly asked, “What's going on?”

There was no time to talk.  Jack's team again helped him to stand and Reynolds approached to assist Teal'c support the colonel.  Under intense fire, Daniel stuck by his husband's side.  Reynolds yelled for SG-1 to get through the Gate and then the rest of the teams followed.

As he watched the return of personnel from P3X-439, Hammond asked, “What happened?”

“Didn't quite go according to plan, Sir,” Jack answered, his faculties having returned.

The team didn't stop, and Daniel, still moving, advised Hammond, “We have to get him to the infirmary.”

“I did it again,” Jack told his friend and commanding officer.

Stunned, Hammond watched his flagship team disappear from his sight.  He didn't know the details, but he was deeply concerned.
//End of Flashback//

“See, girls, it was me.  I shouldn't have let him stop me.  I should have ... I should have stopped him.  It happened so fast.  Jack.”

Bijou and Katie were as close to Daniel as they could be.  They felt his hands gently caressing their fur.  They missed Jack and were worried about him, but they knew their number one assignment was to stay by Daniel's side, and that's exactly what they did, sticking with the archaeologist like glue through the night and into the morning.

====

“I'm sorry I have to go.  I, uh, I've called Mrs. Valissi and told her Jack was going to be away for a while and that I would have to work late a lot for a while.  I talked to Christa and Jacob, too,” Daniel told the beagles about their neighbors.  He was on one knee at the entryway, one hand caressing the ears and body of each beagle.  “Forgive me, please?  I have to help Jack.  Mrs. Valissi and the Svensons will take good care of you, okay?”

Tiny, sad barks were the responses from the two dogs.

Daniel leaned in for kisses and goodbye hugs.

“I love you.  Jack loves you.  I'll be home ... *we'll* be home as soon as we can, okay?”

Emotional and knowing he needed to walk away or he'd end up just wallowing in his sadness, Daniel stood and smiled at the beautiful beagles.

“Take care of the house, and each other.”

As Daniel walked out of the house and locked the door, Bijou and Katie did the only thing they knew to do at that point.  Both lie down exactly where Daniel left them.  They would wait: hours, days, weeks, whatever it took until their humans returned and made their family complete again.

====

Daniel slid into the driver's seat of his 1999 Shelby-American sports car, dubbed the Silver Fox.  It was a gift from Jack during a time when much was going wrong for the scientist, not the least of which was his old car having broken down for the umpteenth time.  Of course, Daniel couldn't accept such an expensive gift, so he paid his Love back for the vehicle.  The silver car reminded Daniel of Jack.  He could feel him and even smell his scent.

“Oh, Jack, we have to get you back.  I need you so much.”

Daniel leaned his head back against the headrest and closed his eyes, his mind recalling what happened that day once SG-1 returned from the planet.

//Flashback//
“Janet!” Daniel exclaimed as the team entered the infirmary.

“Daniel, calm down,” Jack urged.  When the petite physician approached, having heard the alarm in Daniel's voice, she was certain she was going to see some sort of physical injury, but that wasn't the case.  “It's okay, Doc.  That thing just sucked my brains again.”

“Sit down, Colonel,” Janet ordered, wanting her patient to relax on the closest examination table.  “You three need to have your exams.  Go!”

Reluctantly, Sam and Teal'c walked over to where other doctors and nurses were waiting for them.

“Daniel, I'm fine, for now.  Go let them poke and prod you,” Jack ordered in a low, soft tone.  **Danny, go.  Nothing's going to happen yet.  You know that.**

“Okay,” Daniel agreed, turning and walking over to the medical personnel who were waiting for him.

The post-mission exams didn't take much time.  They were routine, for everyone but Jack.  It wasn't long before his team was surrounding their leader.

“Sam, I know you want to be here, and you, too, Teal'c, but I'm sure General Hammond is waiting for you,” Janet suggested strongly.

Sam took a breath and nodded, while Teal'c bowed his head.  Both looked at the archaeologist.

“Daniel, let me finish my examination.  The colonel will join you when we're done.”

“We'll be waiting, Jack,” Daniel spoke.

“And I'll be there.  Go!  Scram!  Skedaddle!” Jack exclaimed playfully.  “The sooner you guys get out of here, the sooner *I* get out of here.  That's an order.”

With that, the infirmary cleared of Jack's team, allowing Janet to complete her examination.

====

It was evening in Colorado Springs when Sergeant Davis advised the general that SG-1, minus Jack, was in the briefing room.

Hammond immediately entered the conference area and angrily asked, “How in the hell did this happen?”

Standing the closest to the general, Sam informed, “It wasn't an accident, Sir.”

With his arms folded in front of him, Daniel added, “He did it deliberately.”

“In order to access the knowledge of the Ancients,” Teal'c noted.

“He, uh, we figured we'd never get another shot at it,” Daniel reported.  ~My fault.  He did it for me, me and my ongoing insistence that we have to find the Lost City.~

Sam stated, “We know from experience that the Ancient knowledge will essentially overwrite the colonel's brain.  We're hoping that during the transformation process he'll become aware of the information we're looking for.”

Hammond replied, “And then?”

With a sigh, Sam answered, “And then it will overwhelm his nervous system and the colonel will ...”

At that moment, Jack appeared, walking up the stairs and interrupting, “What? Meet my maker?  Pay the piper?  Reach the pearly gates?  Start pushing up daisies here and there?”

Jack approached the general and stood at his side where he could face his team and more specifically, the love of his life.

“You should be in the infirmary,” Hammond stated.

“Why?  We all know exactly what's going to happen.  In a few days, I start speaking some strange language, a few days after that, I start doing things beyond my control, and a few days after that ... it's goodnight, my someone, goodnight,” Jack stated as he looked downward, thoughts of his someone, his Angel, flowing within him.  **I love you, Danny.**

Jack's team hated to hear him talk like this, and Daniel was self-hugging so much he feared he'd break his own arms.  His jaw was nearly clinched to stop himself from saying inappropriate things on the base and responding to Jack's declaration of love via their unique communication link that neither understood, nor wanted to explain for fear it would go away just as quickly as it began.

“So, with your permission, Sir, I'd like to take the weekend, get a few personal things together.”

Sam affirmed, “The last time it did take a couple of days before we noticed any change in the colonel's behavior.”

“I'll be back Monday, ready to work,” Jack advised.

Hammond responded, “Permission granted.”

“Thank you, Sir.  Now, if you'll excuse me, my *favorite* television show starts in half an hour.”  Jack walked away, but communicated, **Hurry home, Danny.**

**I'll be there as soon as I can.  Jack, I love you.**

Jack glanced back at his soulmate and smiled before disappearing down the stairs.

“How is this going to play out, Major?”

“Well, Sir ...”

Hammond and the three members of SG-1 sat down at the table to discuss the next steps and possible scenarios.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel opened his eyes and shook his head.  He felt like death, but he had to move forward.  Finally, he fired up the Silver Fox and headed back to Cheyenne Mountain.  He'd barely gone a mile before his mind was once again lost in memory, so much so that he heard a horn honking at him.  He was at a stop sign and apparently had failed to advance when it was his turn.

The bereaved man waved in apology before continuing on, though his mind was on his husband and the events that happened during the weekend.  Parts of those two days were powerful and wonderful, but then, an unexpected visitor had news that threatened to tear apart everything Jack and Daniel were fighting for.

The archaeologist realized he wasn't seeing the road.  He was endangering the public, so he pulled over to the side to get himself together.  While he did so, he again flashed back in time.

//Flashback//
“Jack?”

“In here, Danny,” Jack called out from his study.

Daniel moved hastily to the study and stood just inside, simply staring.

“Hey, Angel, I'm gonna be okay for a couple of days,” Jack reassured as he stood up and took Daniel into his arms.  “Danny, it's okay.”

“No, Jack, it's not okay,” Daniel negated as he inched back from his husband.

“Daniel, we know what's going to happen.  We have time.  Thor will call back.”

“Not if the Asgard are doing whatever it is they do when they aren't here.  We don't know that Thor will get back in time.”

“Where's your faith?”

“Running scared.  I need you, Jack.”

“I'm right here, Angel, and no matter what, I'll always be here,” Jack promised as he placed his hand over Daniel's heart.

“What were you doing just now?”

Jack glanced back at the computer and responded, “Sending Mark a little update.  I need to make sure everything's in order.”

“You know it is.”

“Never hurts to make sure,” Jack spoke calmly.  “Hey, have I told you how much I love you?”

“Jack ...”

“Danny, the weekend is ours.  Let's take it.”

====
--January 29, 2005
====

Early the next morning, Jack and Daniel maintained as much normalcy as they could, or rather, as much as they wanted to have.  As Daniel made a quick trip to the pet store to stock up on dog food and treats for Bijou and Katie, Jack finished up his paperwork and was pleased when his lawyer, Mark Kingston, assured him his will and other documents were all properly filed and up-to-date.  Then he headed outside and found himself peering through his telescope.  Minutes later, he heard a knock on the door and went to answer it.

“Hi, Sir,” Sam greeted.

Jack looked around to see if Sam was alone and responded, “Carter?”

“Did I wake you?”

“Sorta.”  Inwardly, Jack thought, ~Not really, but this may be my last chance to make her feel guilty about anything.~

“I couldn't sleep at all last night.”

“Shoulda called.”

“I didn't want to bother you.”

“Yeah, it might have been a little ... inconvenient.  Danny and I ... you know.”

“Actually, I'd rather not, Sir,” Sam replied with a knowing smile.

Jack gestured for Sam to enter, which she did, and then he closed the door.  The two remained in the entryway.

“Where is Daniel?”

“Food, for the girls, and coffee for him.”  After a brief silence, Jack remarked, “I was just looking at the sky, trying to figure out how many stars we'd actually been to.”

“Actually, only a few of the stars visible from Earth have Stargates on them, so ...” Sam responded.

“I knew that.  Hammond send you by to check up on me?”

“No, not really.  He's very concerned.  We all are.”  Sam paused and admitted, “Actually, I was out driving, just driving, in my car, to clear my thoughts, and then I ... drove here.”

Jack was a little uncomfortable.  Sam was a friend, but she was also his second-in-command.  A certain distance was necessary for their positions.  Mostly, though, he just wasn't good at the overt emotional side of things, and clearly, his 2IC was feeling emotional.  He was glad she cared, but he wished Daniel were home to help deflect the awkwardness he felt.

“There's coffee around here, I think,” Jack said as he went to the kitchen.  ~My brain is already fried.~  He turned back and stated, “I forgot.  Daniel drank up the last of the coffee this morning.  He's, ah, on coffee overload right now.  Do you want a beer?”

“Sure, why not.”

Sam walked into the living room and took the beer from Jack when he returned.  Her eyes glanced over to the mantle where a picture of Jack with Sara and Charlie was located.

“Have you talked to Sara?”

“No.  I wouldn't know what to say to her,” Jack admitted as he pictured Sara weeping in his mind.  ~I can't handle that right now.  I'm sorry, Sara.~

After a long period of silence when Jack sat down in his comfortable chair and began to sip his beer, Sam asked, “Sir, do you want to be alone?”

“Nah, finish your beer.  Then you have to wait at least an hour before you drive.  Danny will be home soon.  He'll have coffee.”

Sam sat down on the sofa and took another drink of the Guinness beer.

“I should have done it,” Sam contended suddenly.

“What?  Stick your head in that thing?”  After Sam nodded, Jack responded, “Are you nuts?  Carter, you're one of this country's natural resources, if not national treasures.  Daniel's feeling guiltier than ever, too, but there's no way he could have done it.  Can you imagine us trying to translate for him?”  Jack sighed as he shook his head and said, “It couldn't have gone down any other way.  I just hope it's worth it.”

“Even if we do find the Lost City, even if we get there and find exactly what we're looking for to defend the planet ...”

“That ... would be worth it.  That's why Danny and I came back.  It's important to him, and that means, it's worth it to me.”

Sam shook her head slightly and that's when she heard footsteps.

“Hey, Sam,” Daniel greeted.  “Look who I found outside.”

“Hey, Big Guy,” Jack greeted.  He looked at a white box the Jaffa was carrying and asked, “Donuts?”

“Indeed.”

“Excellent,” Jack responded.  “How'd you get off base?”

“In a car.”

“Of course you did,” Jack replied, opting not to wonder about how Teal'c managed to leave Cheyenne Mountain on his own when normally he was able to leave only when accompanied by base personnel.  “Help yourself, kids,” Jack invited as he opened the box and took out his favorite donut.

====

The four teammates were having a good time talking, even when Jack got on one of his “The Simpsons” kicks.

“So wrong.  It's the perfect analogy, Burns as Goa'uld,” Jack put forth.

“They are merely animated characters, O'Neill,” Teal'c replied.

“You're so shallow,” Jack responded.

“I'm sorry, Sir, but I have to agree,” Sam chimed.  “I don't see the connection.”

“Alright, that does it.  You know the entire VHS collection *was* going to one of you?  It's going to Siler; he gets it.”  Another knock on the door drew the colonel's attention.  “Pizza arriveth,” he said as he stood up and went to the door. “Well, you're not the usual delivery boy,” Jack noted when he saw General Hammond at the door, something that just didn't happen often.

“Is this a good time?” the major general inquired.

“It's always a good time for you, Sir.  Come on in.  Let me get you a chair.”

Sam automatically stood up upon seeing Hammond, but the general quickly gave her the “at ease” order.

With everyone seated again, Hammond saw the beers and asked Jack, “You wouldn't happen to have another one of those?”

“I would,” Jack responded as he retrieved a six-pack of beer.  “I hope you like Guinness, Sir.  I find it a refreshing substitute for ... food,” he said as he handed Hammond a bottle and placed the rest of the bottles on the coffee table.

Beer in hand, Hammond quickly came to the point, surprising SG-1 when he announced, “I've been relieved of command.”

The entire team was flabbergasted and the lighthearted nature of their visit subsided, replaced by doubts and unease about the future of the Program and more importantly, Jack's fate.

“What?” Jack finally questioned.

“The President has effectively shut down the SGC for a three-month review process.”

“Three months?” Daniel repeated with great concern.

“During which time a newly formed government department will take the place of Stargate Command.”

“But, Sir, the colonel: we don't have much time,” Sam put forth with concern.

“How could this happen?” the Jaffa asked.

~I don't believe this is happening.~  Daniel was agape at the news, but he quickly realized the reason for their predicament.  His face tightening with a mixture of frustration and anger, he chilling spoke, “Kinsey.”

“Does anyone know anyone who voted for those two shrubs?” Jack asked.  ~Okay, I did, but I was hoping Hayes was a better man than this.~

“I've known President Hayes for a long time.  He's a good man,” Hammond opined.

“Despite his taste in running mates, maybe,” Jack interjected.

“Robert Kinsey brought in a lot of campaign financing and for all we know, he may have used his knowledge of the Stargate as leverage to get himself a place on the ticket.  It doesn't matter now,” Hammond replied.

Daniel asked, “What, we're just gonna lie down for this?”  He was trying to be calm, but his anger was rising due to his alarm about his husband's predicament.  ~Jack,~ was all he could think.

“Now we've been in this situation before,” the colonel put forth.

“No.  This time it's different,” the general sighed.

“Who's replacing you, Sir?” Sam inquired.

“Her name is Doctor Elizabeth Weir.”

“A civilian?” Jack asked.

“I've heard of her,” Daniel told the group.  “She's, um, an expert in international politics.  She, uh, she mediates top level negotiations for the UN.  I actually referenced some of her work when I drafted the first treaty with the Tok'ra.”

“All I know is I've been ordered to Washington to discuss reassignment.  I leave tomorrow,” Hammond advised.

“Ah, General, we do have a little unfinished business,” Jack tapped his chest, “here.”

“As far as I know, you're all to report to work as scheduled on Monday.”

“Something must be done,” Teal'c stated strongly.

“I have my orders.  Besides, I have a feeling that I may be able to do more about this from Washington than I can here.”

“And in the meantime?” Sam questioned.

“You'll just have to plead your case to the new administration. I  have every confidence in you people,” Hammond stated.

“Unbelieveable,” Daniel said in disgust.

“This Program wouldn't be what it is without you, Sir,” Sam opined.

“I appreciate that.”

Another knock on the door was heard, prompting Jack to ask, “Sir, that's the pizza. Will you join us?”

“Under one condition.”

Jack waited, curious what the bald-headed man wanted.

“We don't talk about my leaving anymore.  I want you all to give Doctor Weir the same professionalism you gave me.  We don't have a choice.  The President has made his decision.  I suggest we enjoy a meal together without regard for our new situation.”

SG-1 all exchanged looks, and it was Daniel who agreed, “Of course, General.”

Hearing another knock, Jack stood and went to the door to pay for the food.

====

An hour later, Jack closed the door behind Sam, Teal'c, and General Hammond as they left the home.  He slowly returned to the living room and approached Daniel, who had been quiet for the last fifteen minutes.  He reached down and pulled his husband up and into his secure embrace.  The lovers said nothing.  They simply danced to the music of their hearts until their hearts sent them upstairs to make love.

====

“Danny, what do you really think about this Weir woman?” Jack inquired late the next morning.

“She's excellent, professionally.  I mean, I wouldn't have referenced her work for the treaty if I didn't believe she knew what she was doing.”

“I can't believe they gave Hammond the sack.”

“He said he's being reassigned,” Daniel reminded.

“Yeah.”  Jack let out a sound that resembled a growl and put forth, “I don't want to think about this anymore.”

“Uh, you're the one who brought it up.”

“I never said I was a genius.”  After Daniel laughed and walked over to share a kiss, Jack happily exclaimed, “Now that's what I want to talk about.”

“Talk?”

“Words aren't my thing, but this is,” the silver-haired man stated as he kissed his husband which led to more awesome sex.

====

After a weekend in their nation of two, plus beagles, Jack and Daniel prepared to leave for the Mountain.  They had breakfast and then the older man disappeared.  Daniel looked around and smiled when he found his husband sitting in his comfy chair with Bijou and Katie on his lap.  He was telling them a story.  Daniel watched and listened, simply enjoying the moment.

“I guess it's time to go,” Jack said when his story was done and he looked over at Daniel.

“I wasn't sure you knew I was here.”

“It's all that Special Ops business.”  Jack sighed and leaned over to kiss the beagles.  “I love you gals.  Keep the home fires burning.”

A few minutes later, the lovers were on the road in the Silver Fox, ready to face an uncertain future together.
//End of Flashback//

The sound of a car whizzing by caused Daniel's head to whip to the left.  He took deep, heavy breaths as he tried to calm himself, not because of the speeding vehicle, but because his heart was breaking.  He looked around to get his bearings and realized he needed to get a grip.  How could he help his husband if he was a mess and unable to function?

Daniel started his car and carefully pulled away from the curb.  He needed to get to the Mountain so he could begin the work to save Jack.  Even so, as the driver looked through his windshield, all he saw was Jack and what happened that Monday when SG-1 reported back to work and met Elizabeth Weir.  It was an awkward introduction because the woman was using a hands-free mobile device that was in her ear and not visible to Daniel when he first walked into the briefing room and saw her facing the Stargate.

//Flashback//
====
--January 31, 2005
====

Daniel entered the briefing room that had cartons of all sizes spread around.  Files and papers were scattered atop them.  A woman's back was to him as she looked out the window at the Stargate.

“Amazing, isn't it,” the archaeologist commented.

“I don't really care,” Weir stated forcefully.

“Okay,” Daniel replied as he turned to leave, only Weir turned and gestured to the object in her ear.

Finally, her conversation ended and, having removed the earpiece, Weir said, “Sorry.  I walk around with this thing and I look like a crazy person talking to myself.”  She paused a moment.  “Elizabeth Weir,” she greeted while extending her hand.

Daniel shook it and replied, “Daniel Jackson.”

“I can't get used to being this far underground.  I keep looking around for a window.”

“Uh, I see you've found the one with the best view,” Daniel said as he pointed at the Stargate.  “I remember when we were first trying to get the Stargate to work, I would come here and just stare at it for hours.”

“Is that, uh, a gentle reminder that you've been an important part of this since the beginning?”

“Subtle, huh?”

“Mmm-hmm.”

“So, a little light reading?”

“Uh, I've been awake all weekend.  I, the reality of this is, is, it's an adrenaline rush.”

“Hey, at least I know you have a beating heart,” the archaeologist quipped.

“I don't expect the warmest welcome from the military personnel,” Weir sighed.

“You're replacing a great man, uniform notwithstanding.”

“Okay, but I'm hoping you of all people won't jump to conclusions.”

“Like why someone like you is here?”

“Someone like me?”

“Yeah, someone who started their career as a political activist, lobbying against government spending on the military.”

“And how I end up working for those I was criticizing.  I know, but I've decided that the best way to stop the proliferation of weapons is to try and end the need for them.  So, I'm going to be the voice of reason to whoever will listen.”

“And you think that's why the President chose you to take over the SGC?” Daniel queried.

“I don't know why I've been given this job.  I really don't, but I'm going to do it, to the best of my ability, as long as I'm here.  I'm going to start by examining the mandate for this program ...”

Interrupting, Daniel warned, “Don't underestimate the immediate threat.”

“No, I'm not, but this country's history of manifest destiny cannot continue out to the rest of the galaxy, especially when this is all being done behind the back of the entire planet.”

“Hey, I'm not saying that everything that's been going on here is right.  I mean, we have no right to play God, but neither do the Goa'uld.  Now I know none of this seems real to you on paper, but trust me, they're pure evil.  Now, if they had the chance, they would either destroy us, or enslave us all.  Now, you can read as many mission reports as you want, but before you decide what should and shouldn't be done around here, why don't you go through that Gate and see what's going on for yourself.”

With a nod Weir responded, “In good time.”

“Well, we may not have good time, and Jack O'Neill certainly doesn't.”

“I want you to know that Colonel O'Neill's current condition is of serious concern to me.”

“And you realize Jack only did what he did because it was our only way to find the location of the Lost City.”

The klaxons blared, which actually annoyed Daniel since he was desperate to plead his case and convince Elizabeth Weir to help SG-1 save Jack's life.  With all the SG teams already back on Earth, there was curiosity about who the incoming traveling was.  Quickly, the IDC was identified as that of Master Bra'tac.

In the control room, Daniel tried to hurry Weir along in giving the order to open the iris, which happened too slowly for his taste.  Bra'tac had no reason to suspect a delay and the scientist feared the worst.  At last, Weir ordered the iris opened.

When Bra'tac arrived through the Gate and headed down the ramp, Daniel introduced him to Weir as the new leader of the SGC.

“Has Hammond of Texas fallen in battle?” Bra'tac questioned.

“No, Sir, he's, he's fine,” Weir answered.

“There's been some recent changes in our political leaders,” Daniel answered with regret.  ~And they are not good changes.~

“I see.”

~Yes, I think you do.~  Sensing there was something serious brewing, the archaeologist inquired, “Bra'tac, what's wrong?”

“I'm afraid I am not the bearer of good news.  We've had word from Jaffa loyal to our cause.  Anubis is gathering the full force of his fleet.  He will be here in three days.”

“Let's talk about this in the briefing room,” Weir suggested.

“Uh ...” Daniel said with a cough.

“Get your team, Daniel.  They're still SG-1,” the new base commander spoke.

Daniel left the room, not sure how he felt about woman.  He wanted to believe she would fight for the right things, but he wasn't sure.  The one thing he was sure of was that he would, as Jack might say, make nice with the lady if he thought it would achieve his goal.  If not, Daniel was prepared to fight tooth and nail, and passionately so, to save his spouse.

====

Daniel quickly found Sam and Teal'c, Sam in her lab and Teal'c boxing with an unsuspecting airman in one of the training rooms, and then searched for his husband, who was supposed to be in his office doing his report on the mission to P3X-439, but wasn't.  The linguist decided to check his office and, sure enough, Jack was there.

“What are you doing and wha, what is that?”

“A gift from Siler,” Jack answered as he bounced the three-inch-high bobblehead jovially.  “It's Homer!”

“That's nice, Jack, but we need to get to the briefing room.”

“We do?  I'd rather play.  I mean, come on, Daniel, why do I need to be there?”

“Maybe because Bra'tac is here.”

“Yeah, maybe I should say goodbye, or we could skip that.”

“And he says Anubis is going to attack Earth in three days.”

“Why didn't you say that first?”

“Sorry.”

Jack put the bobblehead down and walked with Daniel to the conference room on Level 27.

====

The whole of SG-1 was quickly brought up to speed when they met with Bra'tac in the briefing room.  Weir was conspicuously absent for the moment, not that anyone minded.

“Three days from today is a Thursday.  Thursday's not good for us,” Jack quipped as he stood near the head of the table, across from Bra'tac.

“Why now?” Sam asked from her spot behind a chair.

“If Anubis believes that we know the location of the Lost City ...” Teal'c began as he paced at the front of the room.

“We don't,” the major interrupted.

“Not yet,” Jack interjected.

“Yes, but he doesn't know that we don't know,” Daniel pointed out.

Just then, Weir walked in, along with Kinsey and his aide.

“Well, some people just don't know when to leave,” Kinsey rudely stated.

“Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, Teal'c, I know these are strange circumstances to be meeting for the first time,” Weir began as she stood at the head of the table.

“And you are ...” Jack prompted.  ~Yeah, I know who you are, but I have a horrible headache and I need to take it out on someone.~

“I am Doctor Elizabeth Weir, Colonel.”

“You can just call her your one hope of ever stepping through the Stargate again,” Kinsey taunted.

“Bit of a mouthful,” Jack snarked.  ~I hate this man.  Okay, hate's a strong word, but I really, really, really hate this man.~

“I know I'm playing catch up, but, uh, I understand time is short,” Weir noted.

“Actually, it's all relative, Ma'am.  Carter could explain it better if we had more time,” Jack put forth with an intentional play on words.

~The colonel's really on right now.  Please leave me out of this,~ Sam begged.

~He's really on edge,~ Daniel said to himself, aware that most everything his soulmate said so far was some sort of jab or retort and mostly in the negative realm.

“Shall we have a seat then?” Weir suggested, after which the attendees sat down, except for Jack who was lagging and rubbing his head.  “Obviously, this is a situation of grave importance.”

“She's quick,” Jack snarked as he finally took his seat.

“Which is why I've taken it upon myself to come on down and hear what Mister Bra'tac has to say personally,” Kinsey asserted.

“Master ... Bra'tac.  Master,” the colonel corrected.

“I beg your pardon,” Kinsey responded.  “So, you believe the Goa'uld Anubis is planning to attack.”

“You may be certain of it,” Bra'tac affirmed.

“I'll say this, the timing is impeccable.  The moment we suspend Stargate operations you pull this out of your hat,” the politician accused.

“Mister *Vice* President, if you're suggesting that we'd make something like this up ...” an offended Jack returned.

With a raised voice, the man confirmed, “Yes, Colonel, that's exactly what I'm suggesting.”

Annoyed, Jack replied, “Yes, well that is exactly what we do.  We sit around on our fat butts and create scenarios that put the planet at risk.  That's exactly what we do.”

“Oh, I think you'd do just about anything.”

Weir interrupted, “Gentlemen, for the purposes of this discussion let's assume that Master Bra'tac is in earnest and that the threat is real.”

“Do you even know what the threat is?  Anubis is half-Goa'uld, half-ascended Ancient with the knowledge and technology at his disposal to wipe us all from the face of the Earth,” Daniel advised curtly.

~Oh my gosh.  This is beyond surreal.~  Sam was watching the verbal sparring and likened it to being at a tennis match.  For a while, it was O'Neill versus Kinsey and now it was Jackson versus Weir.  ~Just pleeeease leave me out of this.~

“What about negotiating?” Weir queried.

“Oh, for crying our loud, that's derentis,” Jack stated, instantly creating concern from everyone but Kinsey.  Unaware of his verbiage, he asked, “What?”

“You just said 'derentis',” Daniel advised.

“Did not.”

“Did, too,” the archaeologist maintained.

“Derentis, what is that?”

“Latin?” Kinsey asked.

“No, it's not,” Weir, who was well versed in five foreign languages, answered.

“I think what Colonel O'Neill was trying to say is that based on our past experiences, negotiating would be insane, crazy,” Daniel explained.

“Yeah, I got that,” Weir responded.

“However, we believe that there may be alien technology within our reach that could defeat Anubis,” Sam put forth.  ~Ut oh.  Why did I stick my nose in?  Careful, Sam, old girl.~

“So now you're pulling a ray gun out of your hat,” Kinsey alleged.

“Weapons capable of defending this planet,” Teal'c stated.

“I can't believe we're sitting here listening to this,” Kinsey whined.

“Mister Vice President, on his last mission, Colonel O'Neill ...” Weir began.

“Oh, I am aware of the events that have once again compromised Colonel O'Neill's invaluable judgment and the fact that on his last official mission he has incurred the wrath of humanity's worst enemy on behalf of us all,” Kinsey griped.

“Wait a minute,” Jack called out.  “I thought you didn't buy into the whole invasion thing.”

Though Kinsey failed to respond, Weir spoke, “The fact is, until we know the location of the Lost City ...”

“I know where it is,” Jack told the group.

“You know where it is now?” Weir asked.

“I will,” Jack insisted as he stared at the woman on the other side of the table.  “It's in there somewhere.  Look, let me make this simple.  I come up with the Lost City; we go find it.  Yes or no?”

“No!” Kinsey exclaimed.

Jack glanced at Kinsey, but quickly returned his focus on Weir.  It was a bit of a moment of truth situation.  He needed to know who this woman was.  Kinsey didn't matter, she did.

The colonel pointed his finger in Weir's direction and probed, “Who are you, really, and *why* are you here?”

Weir felt the sting of the question and responded, “I will consider it.”

Ignoring Kinsey's disgust, Jack replied with a nod and a word of thanks.

Bra'tac announced he needed to return to Chulak and Teal'c added that he would go with him.  He felt he was needed there more than on Earth where the Stargate was now stagnant.  He also hoped to procure vessels and warriors to help defend Earth.

====

“She'd better come through,” Jack told his husband as they sat in Daniel's office and discussed the meeting from earlier in the day.

“She will,” came the hopeful response.

“You don't sound that convinced, Danny.”

“I want to believe, Jack, but I'm ...”

The archaeologist looked away until Jack reached out and took his hand, not caring that the door was open or that they hadn't turned off the security cameras. Those things mattered less and less to the married twosome, especially in times such as these.

Daniel looked back at his lover, smiling supportively as he regrouped, and asked, “Do you want to say goodbye to Teal'c?”

“Yeah, I'd better.  It might be the last time.”

“Mister Negative,” Daniel teased weakly.

“I'll be back in a few.”

“Actually, I'm going to get Sam.  We want to see Teal'c off, too.”

Jack squeezed Daniel's hand for a few seconds before standing and saying, “Then I'll see you in the gate room in a few.”

“You can count on that, Jack.”

“I can always count on you, Danny,” the colonel said before heading out of the office.

Daniel waited about a minute, just getting his thoughts together, before meeting Sam in her lab and proceeding to the gate room.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel turned onto the winding road that led up to Cheyenne Mountain.  He sighed when he came to a certain area and stopped his vehicle.  Years earlier, he'd been beaten here by two Marines.  It seemed like an eternity ago now.  It was before the two men were lovers, when their friendship was being forged and solidified.  His teammates were at his side and each played a part in what Daniel could only express as revenge.  Both Marines were gone from Stargate Command within a year as neither had what it took to be part of the elite Program.

For the archaeologist, the point of the memory was his Jack, his protector, his defender, his motivation for staying alive.  He couldn't help himself now.  He thought about their pact, an agreement that if one died, the other would follow quickly.  He and Jack were so independent and strong and yet their need for each other was like air and without the other, they couldn't breathe.

~What do I do, Jack, if we can't save you?~  Daniel closed his eyes and heard two loving barks, excited greetings that merged together.  He so loved Jack and their beagles.  ~Would they understand?  I need you so much, Jack.  What do we do about Bijou and Katie?~

Tormented, Daniel put his foot to the gas pedal and continued his drive up the Mountain.  He quickly went through the outside security gate and entered the tunnel that led to the parking area.  He drove into a space that was midway from the back of the lot to the elevator.  It would give him time to casually walk while taking more time to think, and he had a lot to think about.

His car secured, Daniel walked three steps before stopping.  He swallowed hard and forced himself to continue.  His pace was unusually slow, every forward step as if he had to push a cement stone out of the way before his foot hit the ground. At last, though, he reached the elevator, but instead of entering, he turned around and slid down the side.  His mind was racing with memories of what happened the next day of the nightmare, only the nightmare was real and eating away at him with every beat of his heart.

~There must have been something I missed.  There had to be something I could have done to change things.  There had to be.~

//Flashback//
====
--February 1, 2005
====

The day was an odd one for SG-1.  Continued attempts were made to contact allies for assistance, all without any useful response.  Daniel had his nose in books as he attempted to learn what he could.  Jack spent the day mostly by Daniel's side, essentially being at Daniel's disposal for linguistic queries, though the colonel thought that was pointless.  Still, he loved spending the day with his lover, basically playing and watching.  Daniel watching was one of Jack's favorite hobbies.

As evening arrived, Daniel was at his desk, though he was leaning back comfortably in his chair.  He was heavily involved in research and making notes continually.  Jack was doing a crossword puzzle at a nearby table.

~What is this?~  At one point, Daniel stood and walked over to his soulmate.  He held out a book so Jack could see and asked, “Does this mean anything to you?”

“Nope,” Jack answered without even glancing at the book.

“Could you at least look at it?”

Looking up at his lover, Jack returned, “Daniel, I don't speak Ancient ... yet, and when I do, eventually, you know I'll never understand it.”

“You have to *try*.”

“Look, last time things just popped into my fron.”

“Fron is head,” Daniel stated as he recalled the word from the first time Jack was in this condition.

“Alright, now see, I have no idea what you're talking about.”

“Well, maybe if you stop working on the stupid crossword ...”

Daniel snatched away the puzzle from his lover who unsuccessfully tried to take it back.  He kept intending to put the paper down, but something unusual caught his eye, so he continued to study Jack's answers to the clues.

“Hey, hey, hey!  I'd like to at least finish that while I can,” Jack whined.

Sam entered and stated, “I thought you were supposed to be ...”

“Thirteen across, you wrote 'Taonas'.”

“Yeah.  So?  What's it mean?”

“Ah, I don't know; you tell me.  Eight down, you wrote 'praclarush'.”

“What's eight down?” Sam queried.

“Um ... 'label'.  With those empty spaces, I think the answer is supposed to be identification.  Thirteen across is 'sphere'.  Jack, this is it.”

“Now see, I assume we still speak the same language ... mostly,” Jack quipped as he leaned back and put his hands behind his head.

“Sphere, planet.  Label, name,” Daniel denoted.

“Following, still, you, not!” Jack retorted in a staccato flare.

“Praclarush Taonas,” Daniel repeated.  “I, I think you wrote the name of the planet where we'll find the Lost City in the crossword.”

“Bit of a jump?”

“Why else would you do that?”

Sam noted, “The clue for seven down is 'celestial body' and he wrote 'Uma Thurman'.”

With a smile, Jack affirmed, “Yes.”

“It has to mean something,” Daniel responded.  **And we'll discuss Uma Thurman at a later date.**

**Promise?** Jack responded mentally.  Verbally, he agreed, “It does!”  He took hold of the puzzle again and took a big breath.  “I'm hungry!” he stated, standing and leaving the office, taking the puzzle with him.

“How's he really doing, Daniel?” Sam asked.

“Can't you tell?” the archaeologist responded.  “He's at the height of his charm.”

“I noticed that in the briefing yesterday.”

“Yes, well, Jack handles difficult situations and conflicts with humor and sarcasm. It's his way of coping, that and ...”

“You,” Sam said with a grin.  “Do you think we should ...”

“Yes,” Daniel agreed, picking up a reference book and his notebook before leaving his office with Sam and heading for the commissary.

====

Spying Jack at a corner table, Daniel and Sam approached, each taking seats opposite the other, while Jack was at the end of the table.
        
“Who invited you two?” Jack asked snarkily.

“You did,” Daniel answered.

“When did I do that?”

“Ah, Monday, our first day back,” the younger man replied, remembering how he wanted to get caught up with the activity he'd missed due to his injury and that Sam was involved with a project she needed to focus on rather than eat a formal lunch.

“A little late with the response, don't ya think?”

Daniel ignored the question and focused on the tome in his hands.

“At least let me finish the dang puzzle,” Jack whined, smiling when Daniel handed the paper over to him.

“Thank you.”

“Praclarush Taonas: according to this, it means lost in fire.  It was lost.  This has to be the planet where, where the Lost City is,” Daniel proclaimed.

“Well, even if it is, knowing the name of the planet doesn't really help, unless we have a Gate address to get us there,” Sam replied.

Without warning, Jack ripped off Daniel's arm patch that displayed Earth's symbol and placed it on the table.  He turned it so that the point faced him and the opening towards the archaeologist.

“Jack, what are you doing?”

“At.”

“What?” Sam asked.

“At.”

“This?” Daniel inquired.

“That!” Jack stated.

“That is At?”

“You can stop ... that,” Jack told Daniel.  “And don't ask me what it means, I don't know.”

“I think I do.”  Daniel picked up his notebook and drew a symbol.  He placed the book so Jack could see it and asked, “What's this?”

“Shh.”  Jack looked at his teammates for a response.  “Well?”

“You just told us to be quiet,” Sam asserted.

“No,” the colonel refuted.  “When I look at this, I think 'shh'.”

“That's it,” Daniel responded eagerly.

“What?” Sam asked.

“Pra-Cla-Rush-Ta-O-Nas: six syllables.  What if each symbol on the Stargate has a corresponding sound so they can be spoken aloud?”

“Like an alphabet,” the astrophysicist suggested.

“Praclarush Taonas isn't just the name of the planet, it's also the Gate address.”

“What now?” Jack questioned.

“We speak with Elizabeth.”

“She's gone home,” Sam told her team.

“I guess we tell her in the morning then,” Daniel said.

“Let's call it a night,” Jack suggested.  “Carter, that means you go home, sleep ... in your own bed.  That's an order.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Sam stood and called out, “Colonel, Daniel,” and then left the commissary.

~Okay, he's got something.~  Jack looked over at Daniel, who really didn't pay that much attention to Sam's departing conversation.  “What?”

“What ... what?” Daniel asked.

“You have a look.”

“What kind of look?”

“The one that says something's bugging you.”

“Oh, ah, well, it's just I think I'm right.  I'm sure I'm right.  I *know* I'm right.”

“But?” the older man prompted.

“Jack, the book says Praclarush Taonas means lost in fire.”

“You said that.”

“How can they name it Lost in Fire before it was ... lost in fire?”

Daniel arched his eyebrows and Jack stared at his lover blankly.  Both gave jerky shrugs as the only answer possible to the inquiry.

“Maybe they called 1-800-Psy-chic,” the older man jested.

“Good one,” Daniel praised dryly.

“I thought so,” Jack replied.

As his lover stood, Jack called out, “About Uma.”

“Jack, that doesn't matter.”

With the commissary so busy, Jack stared at Daniel as he communicated via their special link.

**You're my celestial body of choice, only you.  I knew Carter might see the puzzle because of our bet.  I didn't want to make her uncomfy.  You know how she squirms sometimes.**

**It's okay, Jack.**

**Not buyin' it?**

Daniel grinned and responded, **The worst Sam would have done is blush.**

**Okay, you got me, but I did think there was a chance someone else might see it.**

**I believe you, Jack.  Now, if you'd written 'Mary Steenburgen' ...**

Jack lit up, causing the archaeologist to muse, **That's what I mean.**  Returning to the verbal method, he suggested,  “Daniel, let's go home.”

“I ... thought maybe we should stay here.”

“Maybe my fron is a little mixed up, but I'm not a goner yet.  We just need to make sure we don't run into the neighbors and if the phone rings, you'll have to answer it.”

“Okay,” Daniel happily agreed.

“Uh, Daniel?”

“What?”

“Patch,” Jack reminded as he tapped on the item.

Daniel let out a small sound of amazement as he picked up the patch and re-affixed it to his uniform.

====

At home, the lovers grabbed a six-pack of beer along with some nuts and pretzels and went up to their roof deck.  The skies were clear and a modest wind flowed through the air.  It was cold, but to the couple, the roof deck was a refuge for clearing away the darkness, the demons, and the unspoken evil of the universe.  So, tonight, as they had on many occasions over the years, they put on woolen sweats and sat down in their favorite spot on the deck, the part that connected to the house.  For now, they were side-by-side, their legs, arms, and shoulders touching the other.

“Where do you think Thor is?” Daniel asked.

“Busy somewhere.”

“No one is responding, Jack.  I don't understand that.”

“They would if they could.”

“Are you sure?”

Jack turned his head to look at his husband and responded, “Yeah.  Aren't you?”

“I guess so.  I don't know, Jack.  Everyone we've contacted seems to be ... out.”

“A big case of bad timing, but ...”

“What?”

“Let's not dwell.  I didn't want to come home to talk about the Asgard or any of our absent allies.  I don't want to talk about Weir or Kinsey or Hayes or politics.  I wanted,” Jack looked upward, waving his hand at the stars and then placing his hand on Daniel's left cheek, “this.  Here.”  The lovers leaned in and kissed, each grinning afterward at the salty, nutty, and beer-infused union of their lips and tongues.  “That's what I'm talking about.  It feels right; it's euge.”

Daniel eyelids blinked and the sparkle in his eyes transitioned to concern.

“What?”

“You just said 'euge'.”

“I did?”

Daniel nodded and translated, “It means good.”

“Not dwelling,” Jack sighed.

“Me, either,” Daniel approved as he opted to overlook the interjection of the Ancients' language being spoken by his husband.

The twosome let the clock click onward and were contented to share time and space together.

“Have you ever tried to count the stars?”

“That's not possible, is it?”

“No, but I've dabbled,” Jack revealed with a quick glance at his soulmate.  “When you were on Abydos and I'd retired, again, sometimes I'd sit up here and count.”

“How many did you estimate were up there?”

“I don't remember.  Maybe I was too drunk to remember.  I counted.  I know I counted.”  After a few moments, Jack reverently spoke, “The stars are limitless, Danny, like dreams.  Sometimes they fade, burnout, get turned into black holes.”

The two chuckled lightly at that last representation as they thought back to previous experiences with SG-1.

Suddenly, Jack suggested, “Let's go inside and spend some time with Bijou and Katie.”

Daniel nodded and the two men went inside their house for warmth in the shape of two precious beagles.

====
--February 2, 2005
====

The next morning, after a night that combined lovemaking with simply sleeping in each other's arms, the lovers rose and went downstairs to have breakfast.

“Jack, you're making enough for an army,” Daniel quipped as he saw the multitude of ingredients Jack pulled from the refrigerator and cabinets.

“This may be my last meal, Danny, and I'm going to make it a good one.”

~At least he didn't say 'euge'.~  Daniel sighed, “I wish you wouldn't say that.”

“Sorry, my Mister Positive is lacking this morning,” Jack conceded.

“I'll find Thor,” Daniel stated definitively.

“Of course you will,” Jack accepted with all the sincerity he could muster.

“I won't let you die, and if you do, we have a pact.”

Jack nodded and looked over at Bijou and Katie, both of whom had their ears up as they rested at the edge of carpet by the counter.

“What about them?”

Daniel let out another sigh, but he didn't really want to think about Jack dying, their pact, or the consequences of what would happen if he followed through and joined his husband in whatever was beyond their final breaths.

“I'll find Thor.”

“I know you will, Angel.  I'm confident.”

“Me, too.”

Blue eyes and brown eyes gazed at the other until Jack turned up the heat on the stove.

“So, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham, hashed browns, pancakes, *and* waffles, and, uh, toast,” Daniel denoted about the menu.

“And plenty of coffee, Arabian Mocha,” the Silver Fox elaborated with a grin, well aware that was the other man's favorite blend of coffee.

“I love you, Jack.”

“You're my everything, Danny,” Jack declared.  “I love you more than I even thought I knew how to love.  Remember that.”

“I will.”

“Hey, don't forget to record Homer for me.”

“I'll make sure you don't miss an episode.”

“I'm tellin' ya, Burns is a Goa'uld.”

There was a brief pause before Daniel confirmed, “You're right, he is.  He gets a lot of pleasure from watching others suffer, but it's really his quest for power that makes your analogy work.  Then there's the fact that he never ages.”

Jack faced Daniel and moved the six paces to reach him, taking him into his arms and speaking, “La Mio Bello Stella Cadente, forever and always, I love you to the moon and back and beyond.”

Further breakfast preparation was delayed by ten minutes as the lovers embraced, needing nothing more than to hold the other.  Eventually, they cooked their meal and Daniel smiled as Jack ate every bite of his enhanced lumberjack breakfast, though he ate far less.

Afterward, Jack spent fifteen minutes alone with Bijou and Katie in the backyard while Daniel watched, his emotions jumbled as he contemplated an uncertain future.  Then the two men locked up the house, leaving open the pet doors for the beagles to use, got into Jack's Ford truck, and headed for Cheyenne Mountain.

====

The couple was back in Daniel's lab where they'd been since returning to the base twenty minutes ago.  Sergeant Davis phoned the archaeologist's office a minute ago to let him know that Doctor Weir was on base.

“Are you going to be okay while we talk to Elizabeth?” Daniel asked as he gathered up his notebook and a couple of reference materials and prepared to meet up with Sam before heading of Weir's office.

“First name basis already,” Jack pointed out.

“I've had one conversation with her, Jack, but she's our hope.”

“Playing nice, are we?”

“Yes,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I'll do whatever I have to do.”

“I know,” the colonel sighed.  

With a small smile, Daniel spoke, “I'll let you know what Elizabeth says.”

“Yes, and tell *Elizabeth* I'm hoping by now she does know why she's here.”

“Right.”

When Daniel turned and walked out, Jack followed his every step visually.  His joy of observing his Love's six was interrupted when he felt himself being manipulated, like a puppet on a string.  He stood and walked hastily to the elevator, catching up to Daniel.

“Jack?”

“I ... have to pack,” Jack explained though he didn't understand anything at the moment.

“Pack?  You mean your office?”

“No.”

“Okay, well, what?”

“I don't know, Daniel.”  Jack stared at the closed doors and banged on them.  “Hurry up.”

“We need to hurry?”

“How do I know, but I have to pack.”

When the elevator doors opened, Jack swiftly entered and hit the floor button for his destination.  Daniel nearly jumped in to avoid the doors closing.

“Where are we going?”

Jack shrugged, not even knowing what button he'd pushed.

“You did this before.”

“I did?”

“Yeah, the first time.”

“Oh, good, then my fron has an idea what's happening.  I wish my body did.“

The doors opened and Jack stepped out, quickly followed his lover.  They were in one of the storage and equipment areas.  Immediately, Jack began picking out items and placing them in a pile.

“What are you doing?” Daniel inquired.

“Packing.”

“Okay, well, I'm going to get Sam and talk to Elizabeth.  Don't, uh, don't go anywhere, Jack.”

“Like I have a choice,” Jack groaned.  As his drive to locate objects began to consume him, he added, “I'll try not to, Danny.”

Fretful, Daniel slowly backed and went to the elevators.  He glanced back as he waited for the doors to open.  The only positive aspect of what transpired was Jack calling him 'Danny' while in the middle of being manipulated.  That made Jack still reachable in Daniel's opinion, but he knew the time would come when communication would cease.

**I love you, Jack.**

**I love you, too, Danny.  I have to pack.**

**Okay,** Daniel responded as he went inside the elevator.

====

Daniel and Sam located the new base commander in the control room.  While Daniel began to explain the back story on the discovery, Sam started to research the Gate address in question.

Standing to Weir's right, Daniel held out his notebook as he explained what he'd learned.

“At is the Earth symbol, our point of origin: Praclarush Taonas at.”

“So this is the Gate address that would lead us to the Lost City,” Weir surmised.

“It has to be,” Daniel replied.

Seated in front of a computer, Sam noted they'd dialed that address more than two years ago and assumed the Stargate must have been buried since they weren't able to get a lock.  Daniel figured that made sense because of the 'lost in fire' translation.  Sam said she would be able to determine the planet's location, but they would need a ship to get them there.

“Prometheus,” Daniel stated with a nod for emphasis.

“But with Anubis on his way, Prometheus is our last line of defense,” Weir objected.

“Maybe Teal'c has something by now,” Sam offered up with hope.

“Where's Colonel O'Neill?” Weir asked.

Daniel sighed, “Packing.”  He looked at Sam and thought, ~But it's not what you're thinking.~

“Al right, let's see what the colonel is putting in his trunks.”

“That's not quite the type of packing he's doing,” Daniel sighed.

“Show me.”

====

Daniel, Sam, and Weir entered the storage and equipment area where Jack was still packing.

“Colonel.”

“Don't ask!” Jack responded as he moved swiftly along the corridor, carrying several pieces of equipment.

Sam explained to Weir, “The last time this happened he just started doing things without knowing why.”

“It's a good sign though.  Hopefully, it means we're on the right track,” Daniel added.

“Sir?” Sam asked as Jack stood in front of a shelf and pulled out a yellow box.

“I don't know, Carter,” Jack spat in frustration as he added the box to a pile of other things he'd already gathered.  “Grab a naquadah generator, will ya?” he requested as he left the room.

Daniel smiled awkwardly at Weir and then advised, “We have to trust him.  I know he doesn't know what he's doing, but the Ancients do.  We need the Prometheus, Elizabeth.  This country owes Jack.  We all do.”

“I assure you that I will give it proper consideration before making my final decision.”

Daniel nodded and remained standing as the woman walked away.

“She'll give us the Prometheus.”

“How do you know, Sam?”

“Look at what the colonel's put together.  We have to find out what all this is.  We need the Lost City and I think Doctor Weir understands that.”

“I wish I could be so sure.”

Sam nodded and said, “I'm going to see if we can make contact with Teal'c.”

“Yeah, and, uh, I'll find Jack.  We need to keep an eye on him.”

“Don't worry, Daniel.  Even if you can't find him right away, he'll find you.  He always does.”

Daniel nodded appreciatively and then both scientists went on their way.

====

The archaeologist looked everywhere for Jack, but couldn't find him.  He was becoming increasingly concerned as he entered his corner office/lab on Level 18.

“Jack!  Where have you been?”

“Here.  You?”

“Looking for you.”

“You didn't look in the right place.”

“Apparently not.”

“We can't leave the base,” Jack put forth.

“It wouldn't be a good idea.”

“Nope.  Get that door,” the colonel instructed as he walked to the door on the other side of his Love's corner office.

Daniel followed Jack's wishes, closing and locking the door nearest to him.  Then he ambled back to the center of his office.  He watched as Jack walked towards him and then turned to deal with the security camera.  This surprised him because years ago, the two were gifted by Sam with a special remote that would shut off the security system in the office.  Instead, Jack pulled out a picture of the Burns character from “The Simpsons” and placed it over the lens.

“Okay, well, Burns is a Goa'uld, so the point would be ...” Daniel prompted curiously about Jack's unique choice for blocking the camera's view.

“Why does there have to be a point with everything?” Jack asked as he put his arms around his husband.  “Sometimes, Danny, the point is that there's no point, there's just you and me, here, before I'm not ... here.”

“Jack ...”

“Not now, Angel.  Let's just ...”

Words stopped, replaced by beating hearts and pulses that skyrocketed as Jack and Daniel said all they needed to with their bodies.
//End of Flashback//

“Doctor Jackson?  Daniel,” a woman called out sweetly as she kneeled down in concern.

“Marie?”

The woman was Nurse Marie Hill, a trusted friend for Daniel who also had an incredibly large crush on him.  She'd been smitten with Daniel from the first moment she'd seen him.  She'd dated often, but no one ever made her heart zing the way the archaeologist did.  However, she never crossed the line and never did or said anything to make Daniel feel ill at ease in her presence, except for one brief kiss in late 1998 before she knew he wasn't interested.  Since then, she'd kept her feelings to herself and remained objective when treating Daniel for any type of injury or illness.  Janet demanded that kind of quality in her staff and Marie loved her job at Stargate Command.

“I'm sorry, but, you're just sitting here and I was worried.”

“I'm fine.”

“I heard about Colonel O'Neill.  I'm not sure if it's public knowledge around the SGC yet, but Janet ...”

“I know.  It's okay.”

Daniel stood up, feeling anxious and even a little confused.  He'd been snapped away from his nightmarish daydreaming about recent events and it jarred him.

“Is there anything I can do?”

“No, but thank you for offering.  I need to ...” Daniel pointed to the elevator doors as they opened.

“Would you rather I wait for the elevator to return?”

“No, of course not.”  Daniel smiled and gestured for Marie to enter. “How are things going with you?”

As the doors shut, the pretty female kept it professional and answered, “I love working with Janet.  She's the best and Doctor Warner knows his stuff, too.”  There was a painful silence and Marie frowned.  “Daniel ...”

“I'm just worried about Jack.”

“You know, the one thing that has been the most consistent part of this base for all the years I've worked here is that SG-1 is magic.”  As Daniel looked over at her, Marie explained, “The craziest, most unimaginable things happen to the four of you, but no matter how severely injured you are, you always make it through, and then,” Marie laughed, a beautiful, airy release of whimsy, “you go back and do it again.  I know that I don't know the half of what goes on out there in the universe.  My clearance isn't that high, but I know SG-1 has encountered perilous situations, one after the other.  What other explanation could there be, Daniel, but that you're ... magic.  I *know* Colonel O'Neill will recover, from whatever it is he's suffering from, because he's SG-1, and where would we be without that?”

The doors to the medical level opened and Marie started to step out, but then she felt Daniel's hand on her arm.

“Thank you, Marie.”

“It's the truth.  If you need me ...”

“Thanks.”

Daniel withdrew his hand and focused on Marie as the doors shut.  Then he took a breath.

“Magic?”  Daniel closed his eyes briefly and whispered, “Please be magical, Jack.  Come back.  You have to come back.”

====

The archaeologist made his way to his office and sat down at his desk without turning on any lights.  He stared straight away before once again shutting his eyes.  The last time he'd been in his office, he'd asked himself how he and Jack had gotten to this dreadful place where their lives hung by a thread.  There was still more to his answer and now he let himself think back to when the situation became the most dire.

Daniel recalled Teal'c's message that he considered to be a blessing.  Teal'c and Bra'tac made contact with a Jaffa named Ronan who agreed to let them use his ship, as long as he could go with them.  That was an easy condition for SG-1 to agree to in order to secure desperately needed transportation.  Daniel didn't care that it wasn't the Prometheus; he only cared that it was a vessel in which the hope of saving his Love existed.

The grief-stricken man remembered the following day when SG-1 was about to embark on the mission.  When they entered the gate room with the last pieces of equipment Jack gathered, Weir was there waiting.  She attempted to crack a joke, asking Jack if he had everything and mentioning there was still a kitchen sink around.  It wasn't really funny, but it made a mark with Jack.

After rendezvousing with the Jaffa on Chulak, SG-1, Bra'tac, and Ronan boarded the ship and began their journey.

~Gawd, I had so much I wanted to say, so much I needed for him to hear, but then, I couldn't say it.  I should have said it, all of it.~

//Flashback//
====
--February 3, 2005
====

Jack and Daniel were in one of the compartment areas of the cargo ship,  Jack leaned back against a crate and rested with his arms crossed while Daniel was a few feet away, writing in his notebook as he sat atop a crate.

The colonel looked up and saw Daniel staring at him, so he asked, “What?”

“I would have done it, you know.”

“I know.”

“I mean, there has to be a way to reverse the effects once we have what we need. We'll find a way.”

“Danny, I know.  Don't feel guilty.”

“I don't think I can help it, Jack.  We wouldn't be here if I didn't insist on finding the Lost City.”

“*We* insisted.  It was a two-way street, so stop, please.”

At that point, Sam entered and cautioned, “We're coaxing everything we can out of the engines, but we're still two days away.  How you feelin', Sir?”

~I wish she'd stop asking me that.~  Ill at ease, Jack answered, “A bit cruvis; a little fron-ache.”  Aware of his verbiage, Jack stood and walked away while saying, “We need to go faster.”

Daniel and Sam immediately followed Jack.  He was making modifications to the engine core.  The blonde walked forward to supply any assistance her CO might need, though she had no idea about the specifics.  Eventually, Jack completed his work and the cargo ship's speed increased dramatically.

That was when Sam felt like she had to confide in Jack about something that bothered her a great deal and made her feel awkward.  Yet, she was choiceless in the matter and would act accordingly, if necessary.

“Sir, I think you should know that General Hammond authorized me to take command of the team if I determined it ...”

“Do it now.”

“Sir, I don't think that's necessary yet.”

“I trust you.  I'll make it easy for you.  I resign.  You're in charge,” Jack advised.

“Okay,” Sam acknowledged and walked around, not really knowing what else to do.

**Danny, I just resigned ... again.**

**I heard, but it's temporary, Jack.**

**If you say so.**

**I do, then and now.**

As Jack went back to working on the crystals for reasons he didn't know, he responded, **I do, for always and forever.**

====

Arriving at the planet, SG-1 entered the cockpit of the cargo ship and observed the surface was almost completely covered by lava flows.

“How could there have ever been a civilization down there?” Daniel asked.

“A star becomes a red giant like this near the end of his life.  A million years ago this planet may have looked very much like Earth,” Sam answered.

“So we're a million years late?”

“Probably more.”

“That's very late,” Daniel remarked as both he and Sam turned to look at Jack, expecting him to have an explanation.

“What?” the colonel asked innocently.  ~No friggin' idea about anything.~

Bra'tac scanned the surface of the planet and found nothing, which again prompted everyone to look at Jack for answers.

“What do you want me to say?  I don't even know why we're here.”

“But you did pack the hazmat suits for us.  My guess is you knew the condition of the planet and you knew that we would have to go down there,” Sam theorized.

“Then you know more than I do.”

“No, Sir, I don't.  Sit down and take a look.”  When Jack seemed uncertain and didn't move, Sam gathered her nerve and added, “That's an order.”

**She learns fast.**

**Do it, Jack.**

Jack moved forward, uttering “Easy” as he passed Sam and took Bra'tac's seat at the console.  He opened a screen and in a low utterance spoke, “Taonas.”

“Sir?” Sam called out.

“What?”

“You looked at the screen and said 'Taonas',” Daniel told Jack.

“If you say so.”

“You say so.”

Sam noticed an anomaly on the surface that resembled a perfectly formed half-sphere of molten rock and suggested they check it out.  Immediately, SG-1 put on their hazmat suits and ringed down through an area of crust that Bra'tac believed was thin enough for the rings to penetrate.  Fortunately, he was correct.

As Bra'tac maneuvered the ship to a safe distance, Sam began taking readings and noted high radiation levels.

Saying nothing, Jack ambled through the structure with his team on his six.

“Architecture definitely indicates this was built by the Ancients,” Daniel observed.

“This facility does not appear operational,” Teal'c pointed out.

“I don't know about you guys, but right now, I'm kinda hoping this isn't the Lost City,” Sam opined.

Jack walked to a raised area with a throne-like chair atop it.  He stared at it for several seconds before sitting down.  As soon as he sat, a blue light came on at the back of the chair.

“Sir, be careful.”

“Jack, you sure you know what you're doing?” Daniel inquired.  **Jack?  Jack, can you hear me?**

Daniel looked down for a second, disturbed that his lover wasn't answering him. When he refocused on Jack, the older man put his left hand on the armrest which activated a force field.  Immediately, Jack removed his helmet.  Once Sam checked her readings and verified the atmosphere was safe, the rest of the team also took off their helmets.

Jack pushed a squishy substance at the top of the armrest that caused the throne to arch back and a footrest to rise.  He pushed the gel-like goo again and a projection appeared overhead.

“It's a map of the galaxy,” Sam observed.

“It looks like every planet the Ancients ever colonized is indicated here,” Daniel noted.  He pointed to one of the lights and said, “This is were we are, Praclarush.”

“That's our solar system,” Sam indicated as the projection zoomed in on a planet.  “Earth?”

“That does not appear to be Earth,” the Jaffa opined.

Daniel responded, “That's because it doesn't take into consideration thirty-million years of continental drift.”

Sam looked at the colonel and questioned, “Sir, why are you showing us this?”

Daniel took a deeper breath when he realized that Jack wasn't answering Sam, either.

“Jack?” the archaeologist called out in a soft, gentle voice.

Then Jack spoke, his voice low and a bit airy as he said, “Terra ... Atlantis.”

“Terra's Earth.  Atlantis,” Daniel translated.

“The Lost City of Atlantis?” Sam asked.

Pointing to the projection, Daniel asked his lover, “Are you saying the Lost City of the Ancients is here?”

Sam observed, “Antarctica.”

“Subo glacius,” Jack stated.

“Under the ice?” Daniel translated in query.  “The city we've been looking for is under the ice of Antarctica.”

“It's been on Earth the whole time?” Sam replied.

“Jack, we were just there,” a confused Daniel reminded.

“So, we came all this way just to find out that we have to go all the way back,” Sam responded in disbelief.

“No,” the colonel said as he applied pressure to the goo again, causing the chair to revert to its original position, after which he put his helmet back on which prompted the rest of the team to do the same.

Jack rose and went to the edge of the platform.  He moved his hand over the corner and watched a lit object rise up.  Jack took it and handed it to Sam, who gave it to Teal'c.

“Power source,” Sam noted.  A sound caused the team to focus elsewhere.  “Bra'tac, we're on our way.  We know the location of the Lost City.  It's on Earth.”

As Jack walked, he thought in Ancient, ~If I could speak decent English right now, I'd get on her case bad for saying that over the radio.  Black mark, Carter.  We'll talk, later, if I'm alive, and if I remember this at all.~

Sam herself felt uneasy as her mind lamented, ~What in the world was I thinking by telling Bra'tac the location of the Lost City over the radio?  Gee, I know better than that.  Funny, but it felt like I was forced to say that, but I feel fine.~  She frowned.  ~It's like when I was a kid and Mom forced me to read poetry.  I wanted to read the science journal, not Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but Mom made me.  This was worse than that.  I felt manipulated, like some writers in a mental institute put words in my head and made me say them.~  As she took her position inside the rings, Sam shook off her odd feelings as simply trying to rationalize her faux pas.  ~Too much going on.  Concentrate on reality, not what my mind thinks phantom writers put in my mouth.~

====

Things got hairy for SG-1 as they waited for the rings to transport them.  With the dome collapsing, they wondered why Bra'tac wasn't responding.  Finally, the rings appeared and they were transported to the ship.  Immediately, they saw Ronan's dead body and a badly injured Bra'tac lying a few feet beyond the body.  The master Jaffa told them Ronan was an agent of Anubis.  Worse for Teal'c, Bra'tac said he could not win the battle with death.  His time was short.

Surprising everyone, Jack walked forward and kneeled down by Bra'tac.  He put his left hand on the wound and suddenly, Bra'tac's pain faded.

Jack began to fall to his right, his energy zapped.

“Jack!” Daniel called out as he ran over and caught his lover, helping him to remain seated.

The colonel caught his breath and was in disbelief at what he'd done.

“O'Neill possesses the healing power of the Ancients,” Teal'c put forth in complete awe.

Looking at his Love, Daniel sighed, “Guess your condition is a little more advanced than last time.”

Jack looked at Daniel, his eyes pleading to understand.  He longed to talk.  He was so confused by the experience.  What he really wanted to do was forget it happened.  Were he normal, he'd say he was freaked out by the event.

“Teal'c. set a course for Earth,” Sam ordered as she remained near Bra'tac to help him until he felt stronger.

“Come on, Jack,” Daniel urged.  “Let's go in here.”  He helped support his still dazed husband to the compartment area of the cargo ship.  They sat down against a wall that kept them out of view from the others.  He put his arms around Jack, who happily surrendered to his Heart's embrace.  “You scared me, Jack.  I don't even know if you can hear me now.  Don't leave me, okay?  Where the heck is Thor?”

The archaeologist fought back his emotions.  He needed to be sharp.  Anubis was attacking and Jack was on the precipice of losing his life.

“You don't know what I'm saying, do you?”

Time passed until Daniel realized the two needed to join the others.  He was about to get up when Jack turned to face him.  Brown eyes shined with life into the blue eyes that meant life.  Jack couldn't speak English anymore, but he could speak Daniel and Daniel was his favorite language in the universe.  The colonel placed his hand over his heart.  Then he brought his fingers to his mouth and kissed them.  Slowly, he moved his hand forward and placed it over Daniel's heart.  He pressed firmly and a single tear fell from his right eye.

Daniel nodded as he put his hand atop Jack's.  He raised Jack's hand and kissed it, his lips lingering on the fingers that so often took him to ecstasy.

“I love you,” Daniel barely eked out in a vulnerable, cracked voice.

Jack didn't comprehend the words, but knew the expression.  He smiled and leaned in for what was arguably the couple's briefest yet most tender and emotional kiss ever.

“Okay,” Daniel whispered.  “We need to ...”

Daniel's voice was gone, but Jack stood up and extended out his hand, which Daniel took, letting himself be hoisted up somewhat.  Jack's grip was tight, giving Daniel strength.

“How'd you do that?” the younger man asked, physically and emotionally feeling stronger.

Jack pointed at his heart and then at Daniel's, his way of declaring his love.

“Me, too.”

“Um, Sir?  Daniel?  We need you,” Sam called out hesitantly, entering the compartment area only slightly where she could just see the couple peripherally.

“We're coming,” Daniel assured.

Sam nodded and whispered, “Sorry,” before returning to the cockpit.

Then, Jack leaned his head against Daniel's, their very special way of communicating their love when they couldn't touch the way they really wanted to when together.  It was a final chance for them to share their feelings in this desperate situation.  Jack pulled back, gave Daniel a special smile, and then walked away.

Daniel drew a couple of deep breaths and then followed Jack to the cockpit.
//End of Flashback//

Tears welled up in Daniel's eyes as he thought about those tender moments with his husband.  Somehow, Jack understood the most basic element of communication and was able to tell Daniel he loved him.  It made Daniel stronger and able to go forward, even as Jack was fading.

Now, though, the archaeologist was frightened.  He needed to rescue Jack from probably death.  He had to fight for him, and he would.  He thought back about those last minutes on the ship.  He overheard Jack and Teal'c sharing another goodbye, warrior to warrior.

Daniel blew out some air as he thought about what he'd learned since being back on Earth, how President Hayes stood up to Anubis without being the least bit flustered, and how Kinsey fled Washington D.C. for Colorado and demanded to be sent through the Stargate to the Alpha Site, and how Elizabeth Weir recommended to the President that the Prometheus be sent into battle. Scuttlebutt from control room technicians in the area at the time reported that Weir argued the Promethesus could give SG-1 enough time to complete the mission.  He'd heard Kinsey threatened to relieve Weir and take over command of the SGC.

That's when the only good and decent thing of the past several days happened.  Hayes demanded Kinsey's resignation and told him it was accepted, telling the villainous politician that he had enough on him to have him shot.

“I don't know where you'll end up Kinsey, but if there's any justice, you'll be in Netu.”  Daniel's throat constricted from his emotions.  ~At least you aren't in office; at least Hayes showed us who he is.~  He smiled.  ~And so did Elizabeth, for now anyway.~

Though the door to the office was closed during Kinsey's rebuke, friends of SG-1 within the SGC heard what was said to the President by Weir: “I believe, Sir, sending Prometheus to cover SG-1 is our best hope.”

The archaeologist reflected on General Hammond, his friend and a father figure. The man could have gone fishing and left the military to hang itself, but instead, he took command of the Prometheus and, with Sergeant Davis present as well, joined the battle.  It was Hammond's first military action of the type in years.  Daniel knew why he did it.  He did it for his country.  He did it for President Hayes with whom he'd served years ago.  He did it for his daughters and granddaughters.  He did it for the people who were once under his direct command at the SGC, and he did it for his flagship team to which he felt Earth owed its existence to, over and over again.  He did it for Jack and Daniel, his sons, not by blood, but by true caring.

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel spoke into the air.

The Prometheus did provide SG-1 their chance.

//Flashback//
“Jack's modifying the matter stream transmitter on the rings; I think we're going to use it to bore a hole through the ice,” Daniel told Teal'c and Bra'tac as he walked to the cockpit area.

“We must first defeat the forces of Anubis,” Teal'c asserted.

“Yeah, how are we gonna do that?”

Bra'tac answered, “You must exit hyperspace as close to the Earth's atmosphere as possible.”

“So, we're gonna appear on the other side of the armada,” Daniel surmised.

“There will not be much time to decelerate,” the master Jaffa advised.

“Of that I'm aware, old friend,” Teal'c responded.

====

Not long thereafter, Teal'c was able to safely take the cargo ship out of hyperspace.  Then the group headed towards the coordinates where they found the second Stargate many years ago.

Anything Jack did at this point was a surprise, but the team knew to let him do whatever he felt needed to be done.  So, when Jack walked over and tapped Teal'c on the shoulder, the Jaffa handed over control of the vessel to his CO.  Expertly, Jack guided the ship to their destination in the southern Pole.

Once there, Jack activated the rings and used the modified matter stream to melt the ice, though it took a long time.  The team was worried, certain Anubis knew they were there.  They were right.

“Al'kesh and gliders approach -- many,” Bra'tac reported.  “They will be in firing range in thirty seconds.”  Seconds passed and then he warned, “More ships approaching from the opposite direction.”

“Sir, we're about to get our ...”

All of a sudden, Bra'tac observed, “They are not Goa'uld.”

Sam moved forward and happily advised her teammates, “Prometheus.”

Over the radio, the team heard, “SG-1, this is Hammond, do you read?”

The Prometheus with Hammond commanding brought with it a complement of F-302 fighters.  Their goal wasn't necessarily to defeat the Goa'uld themselves, which would be virtually impossible, but to give the team time to perform another miracle and somehow save the Earth.

“Yes, Sir.  It's good to see you.”  To Daniel and Teal'c, she ordered, “Let's go.”

The three joined Jack who was removing the last items from his modification of the rings.

As the other three teammates put on their gear, Sam inquired, “Colonel, how are we gonna get down there?”

Teal'c looked down at Jack's handiwork and answered on the colonel's behalf, “The rings.”

Daniel concurred, “Makes sense.  The Ancients built the Stargate so there must be a set of rings down there somewhere.”

“The transmission beam just couldn't penetrate a mile of ice,” Sam put forth and then grabbed a gun.

A minute later, the rings were ready and the team took their places, each with their back to the others.  Sam announced they were ready and after Bra'tac wished them luck, they were transported to the shaft created by the beam.  They began to explore.

SG-1 again followed Jack as he ambled slowly through the area.

The colonel walked up to a small chamber, a niche just large enough to hold a human and, putting his hands on each side of it, said, “Dormata.”

“Sleep,” Daniel translated.

The team heard a thump and walked past a doorway where they saw Anubis.

“You are too late,” the black figure claimed.  “The power of the Ancients is mine.”

Undaunted, Jack approached Anubis, raised his hand, and pushed his hand right through Anubis' face.

“Fools!” Anubis exclaimed as the projection flickered away.

“It's a hologram,” Daniel stated.

Jack approached a raised area with a throne on it which was almost a mirror image of the platform and chair found on Praclarush Taonas except for the coloring.  He waved his hand over a corner area and a similar looking power source rose up, only it was darkened as if burned out.  He replaced the item with the well lit unit retrieved from Praclarush Taonas.

Then the team found themselves engaged in battle when two super soldiers appeared at the ring site.  As that happened, the new power source lit up the chair.

More super soldiers entered the area as Jack sat down.

“Sir, whatever you're gonna do ...” Sam began, pausing her firing for a few seconds.

The chair rotated a bit and as Jack closed his eyes, a bright stream of undefined objects emerged from the ground and swept away the super soldiers, causing them to vanish.  The stream continued upward, taking out Anubis' fleet, but leaving the Prometheus, its F-302 fighters, and the cargo ship safe from harm.

Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c hurried over to Jack, who was surrounded by light.  He finally opened his eyes, to his team's delight.
//End of Flashback//

Daniel's head went back as he recalled that when back on Earth, his sources for what happened there while SG-1 was away, advised him of a special moment aboard the Prometheus.  It happened when one of the officers, Colonel Kirkland, was stunned by the stream of light that took out the enemy and by the large explosion that destroyed Anubis' ship.  He was relieved Prometheus avoided the carnage and sought to define how the ship survived.

“What the hell was that?” Kirkland had asked.

Proud as a peacock, Hammond had answered, “*That* was SG-1.”

Daniel wasn't surprised to hear the story.  He knew Hammond took command to give SG-1 time and he knew the man believed in the magic, as Marie called it, of SG-1.

The archaeologist let out a muffled cry of torment as he closed his eyes and remembered what happened next.

//Flashback//
SG-1's relief at Jack's opening his eyes faded quickly when they saw Jack's eyes droop and his head slide to his left side.

Daniel stood back at first.  He didn't need to be told.  He felt it.  His Jack was about to die.

Sam went to the side of the chair and called out, “Sir?  Sir?”  Examining the colonel, she turned to Daniel and Teal'c and told them, “His pulse is erratic.”  Then she said to Jack, “Don't you dare leave us now.  We won.”

Daniel moved closer, standing near Sam when Jack opened his eyes and moved his head just a tad.  He looked over at his 2IC, but then his eyes went beyond her. He saw his Daniel and inside, he smiled.

“Colonel!” Sam exclaimed.  She looked back at Daniel in desperation and then at the her CO.  “Please!  Jack.”

In a whisper, Jack calmly related, “Dormata.”

In an equal whisper, Daniel could say only, “That thing,” and it was enough for all three to know what needed to happen next.

Teal'c picked Jack up and carried him to the tall and narrow chamber, propping him up inside.  As he did so, the device made a sound and lit up.

“Now what?” Sam asked.

Jack eyes looked at his archaeologist and then he spoke with soft deliberation, “Aveo ... amacuse.”

Sam and Teal'c looked to Daniel for the translation.

The linguist translated, “Goodbye.”

A bright light surrounded the colonel, freezing him in time before going dim again.  His eyes were open as if he could see his husband and his teammates.

“We can't just leave him like this!  I mean, there has to be a way to reverse the process. The answer has to be here somewhere,” Sam insisted.

Shaking his head, Daniel quietly responded, “I don't think this is it, Sam.”

“What do you mean?”

As he looked around, Daniel explained, “The dome's too small.  It's like Taonas.  It's obviously not a city; it's just an outpost of some kind.”

“This isn't Atlantis?”

Once again, Daniel shook his head as he replied, “I don't think so.”

“If this is not the Lost City, then where is it?” Teal'c queried.

There was silence.  Daniel stood back, feeling lost, alone, and numb.

Meanwhile, Sam was feeling a loss she couldn't describe.  Loss was difficult for her.  Her mind filled with the death in her life: her mother, her good friend Santana, Jonas Hanson who she remembered for how he was when she met him and not how he ultimately died, Narim of the Tollan, Martouf of the Tok'ra, and while not dead exactly, she mourned the loss of Orlin, an Ascended being she grew to care about very much.  Overwhelmed, she approached the niche with watery eyes and placed her hand to the surface.

“MajorCarter,” Teal'c called out calmly.  “We will revive, O'Neill.”

“Yes, we'll find a way,” Sam agreed as she turned to face Daniel.  “Daniel.”

“I need a minute,” Daniel barely was able to voice.

Sam and Teal'c walked away to give Daniel a moment with his husband.

With his friends gone, the archaeologist approached the stasis chamber.  He, too, raised his hand and touched the icy surface.

“I'll get you out of this, Jack.  I swear I will,” Daniel promised from the depths of soul.  “It may take a while.  I don't know where Thor is, but when I get a hold of ... that little gray butt, he'd better have a darn good reason for not being here.  Jack.”  He leaned his head forward, the cold of the ice chilling him significantly.  He looked up and spoke, “No goodbyes, Jack.  This is not goodbye.  I won't let it be.  Do you hear me?  It's not goodbye.  We'll be together soon, Beloved.”

“Daniel, I hate to say this, but we need to go, for now,” Sam stated in a cracked voice and wiping away tears she couldn't stop from falling.

Daniel nodded and backed away.  He looked at Jack and into his eyes.  He could see the pain there, painted on Jack's face at the moment his world went silent.

Reluctantly, SG-1 returned to the cargo ship.  Bra'tac flew them home, all the way to Earth, dropping them off at Peterson Air Force Base.  The master warrior then returned to Chulak.
//End of Flashback//

As Daniel's eyelids popped open, he felt pain.  He realized his hold on his arms was so tight that he was in severe physical agony.  He literally forced himself to end his self-hug.  He dried his face and took several deep breaths.

“Okay, what to do now,” Daniel spoke as he tried to get his breathing under control.  ~Get a grip, Jackson!  *No*.  Get a grip, Jackson-O'Neill.  If you lose yourself in emotion, you'll lose Jack.  Focus.  Coffee.  Need lots of coffee.  Thor.  Have to find Thor.  Elizabeth.  Need her in our corner.  She's an excellent negotiator.  Jack's a hero.  We can get this done.  Piece of cake, right, Jack?  Okay.  Okay.  Go to work.  Save Jack.  Save me.~

====

Daniel's problem was there really was not much he could do.  The Stargate was shut down, Earth's allies with advanced capabilities were for one reason or another silent, and politics prevented a team from going to Antarctica.  The archaeologist came up with a solution which, in his mind, was viable.

“Doctor Weir,” Daniel called out as he tapped on the door jamb.

“Elizabeth.”

“Yes, right,” Daniel acknowledged as he entered.  “I want to go to Antarctica.”

“Doctor Jackson ...”

“Daniel.”

“Daniel, we've discussed this before, only this morning, in fact.  You know the situation with the other nations.  We can't do anything until an agreement is reached.”

“I'm not talking about sending a full team.  I want to go, alone.”

“I understand your concern for Colonel O'Neill.”

“Do you?”

“You're friends and teammates.  You've worked together for a long time,” Weir responded.  “I can't authorize *anyone* to go to Antarctica until or unless ...”

“Unless?”

“Time, Daniel.  You have to give this time.”

Daniel stared at the woman for several seconds until he turned around and left her office without saying another word.

For the next two days, Daniel was in and out of Weir's office, making case after revised case as to why she should allow him to venture to one of the coldest regions in the world.  Her response was always the same, a simple but firm no.  He tried all kinds of approaches, even sweet talking her, or his version of it, anyway.  He smiled, was polite, and used his best well-thought out reasons why she should permit his one-man excursion.  Nothing changed Weir's firm answer.

“No.”

The scientist felt lost as he never had before.  In the past, whenever Jack was in danger, there was always something he could do, but this time, there was nothing.  It was completely out of his hands.  He felt a malcontent previously unknown to him.

The archaeologist attempted to work on a backlog of translations, cataloging, and other research, but his mind wandered.  He left his office, feeling as homeless as if he didn't have a home to go to.  He did, of course.  He co-owned the quaint country-style house he lived in with his husband and though their beloved beagles were there, Daniel couldn't bare to go there until he had a true solution in play.

~I have to do something.~

Daniel's need to be active prevented him from leaving Cheyenne Mountain, so he kept walking the halls, going from one level to another, just walking and searching, for what, he didn't know.  At one point, he walked by the commissary and picked up an apple.  He took two bites before tossing the remainder into the trash.  He kept walking until evening fell on Sunday when he found himself staring at the door to Jack's office.

~He never locks it.~

Sure enough, the door was unlocked, allowing Daniel to go inside, closing the door behind him.  With reverence, he walked to Jack's chair and gently rubbed the backing with his right hand.  Then he sat down and closed his eyes as he visualized the man he loved.

====
--February 7, 2005
====

With Stargate Command virtually shut down, some personnel were reassigned, at least temporarily.  Sam was ordered to Washington, D.C. to work on a special project with other leading astrophysicists in the nation.  Teal'c chose to return to Chulak to be with Master Bra'tac and attempt to enlist more Jaffa into rebelling against the System Lords and joining the Rebel Jaffa in their fight for freedom.  The medical staff was downsized with Janet spending most of her time at the Academy Hospital.  Multiple members of the various SG teams and other personnel were scattered from Peterson AFB in Colorado to Patrick AFB in Florida.

As he sat at Jack's desk, Daniel looked down and opened the bottom drawer.  He let out a tiny, muted laugh as he reached out with his hand and picked up a round object.

~My Jack, the child.~

Daniel's fingers walked gently over the item, turning it over and examining every inch.  He remembered the first time he'd ever seen the toy.  It was a few years ago when the Tau'ri first learned about zatarc technology.

~You were scared, but strong.  I couldn't believe it when we were talking and you began to play with a yo-yo out of the blue.~

Jack owned a blue Duncan Imperial yo-yo, considered to be the original yo-yo model.  It was an inexpensive toy that was known worldwide to provide hours of fun for children.

~And apparently for My Jack.~

Daniel slid his finger through the white string and let the yo-yo fall, but his mind went blank and the sound of the thud when the yo-yo hit the floor barely resonated with him.  He closed his eyes, but he didn't sleep.  Instead, his mind recalled that moment when he'd seen Jack with the yo-yo.  He played it over repeatedly, how Jack tried many times to get the yo-yo to do what he wanted.

Hours passed as the despairing man thought only about Jack and the yo-yo, but then the call of nature pinged within him.  Daniel put the yo-yo away and left Jack's office.  There was no one in the corridor as he made his way to the closest restroom and he only passed one airman on his way back to the office.  Cheyenne Mountain was becoming a ghost facility.

----

Daniel slid open the top drawer of Jack's desk and noticed a notebook there.  He took it out and set it down on the desk.  Opening it, he smiled.  He ran his fingers across the lines on the page, and there were many, but each one was created by his soulmate.

The book was full of doodles.  There were well over one hundred pages of drawings, most of which were random.  Some looked more like scribbles.  Sometimes the pages contained an actual sketch, like Bart Simpson's head, the profile of an F-302 fighter, a beer bottle, celestial stars, a glove, a string of bushes, light bulbs, a hockey stick, several vases on a shelf, and a beagle.  Some of the doodles included words, mostly the names of loved ones including his son, mother, and husband.

Each leaf of the book was a new adventure in Daniel's mind and as he reviewed the pages, he allowed himself to imagine what Jack might have been thinking about when he created the images.  Each flipped page became a new story and a new chance to be with his Love mentally, since he couldn't be with him physically.

----

Pacing Jack's office, Daniel kept scratching his chin.  He was itchy and fidgety.  He found himself in front of the file cabinet and opened the second drawer.

~Why aren't I surprised?~

Instead of file folders, Daniel saw three balls.  He'd seen them before when a time loop caused Jack and Teal'c to relive the same period of time over and over again. Not being affected, the linguist only witnessed Jack and Teal'c juggling once, but his lover told him later that he'd juggled during many of the loops and as such was able to teach the Jaffa how to master the activity.

Daniel retrieved the three balls and began an attempt to juggle them.  The balls fell and bounced to the corners of the office.  He picked them all up and tried again, and again, and again, and again.

----

Having taught himself how to juggle by replaying the brief moment when he'd observed Jack juggling during the time loop, Daniel tired of the balls and put them away.  He paced for a while, walking the width of the office many times before he took note of a box at the bottom of the bookshelf by Jack's desk.  He knew that box.  He'd given it to Jack in 1997 for Christmas, before their eternal love was realized.

It was an oak box with a slot that had a picture of Jack's son, Charlie, slid into it.  Daniel knew that inside the box were family pictures, of Jack, his ex-wife Sara, and Charlie.  It may still have Jack's wedding ring that he wore during his first marriage.  Letters from Sara could also still be in the box.  Daniel didn't know for sure.  He'd never looked at the contents.

Originally, Jack had the belongings inside a cigar box that he kept in his locker, but with time, SG-1's locker assignments changed.  Apparently, at some point, Jack utilized the present from Daniel and moved the box to his office.

Daniel picked up the box and sat down Indian-style on the floor.  He clasped the box to his chest and began to rock.  He couldn't get himself to invade Jack's privacy.  Whatever was inside was private, but holding it, caressing it, rocking with it was strangely comforting for Daniel knew that the contents were precious and dear to his colonel.

----

~Save Jack.  I need to save Jack.  How?  Okay, I'll make a new argument.  Weird will have to let me go.~  Daniel blinked a couple of times.  “Weird?”  He laughed and his laugh grew.  “Weird Weir,” he spoke in all kinds of affects.  He sang it, whispered it, orated it as if on stage in a play, and simply laughed himself silly as he literally ran around the room.  ~I'm so funny.~

After several minutes, the linguist calmed himself and decided to try writing down a new argument that would persuade Weir to give him the green light for the trip.

Daniel wrote down his first two reasons why Weir should allow the trip:

1.  I love Jack.
2.  Jack loves me.

For a minute, Daniel stared at what he'd written.  Then he nodded in full approval of his words.  Suddenly, he focused on a paperweight.  It was made of glass and had the United States Air Force coat of arms etched on it as well as three fighter jets.  The item was a gift from Catherine and Ernest Littlefield, given to the colonel for Christmas one year.

“Here we go, into the wild blue yonder,” Daniel began to sing.  He laughed as he thought about the peppy song.  “Zooooom,” he playfully spoke as he carried the paperweight, maneuvering it like an airplane as he ran in circles around the room.

Daniel caught sight of a tiny magnet attached to the very bottom of the bottom file drawer.  Putting down the paperweight, he got down onto his hands and knees to see what the magnet was.  He blinked as he honed in on the tiny words.

If you are feeding, er, reading this, bite me.

Daniel sighed and stood up.

“Fish.  I have fish.  Fish are our friends.  Fish are beautiful.  I love fish.”

The scientist yawned and realized it was time to visit the restroom again and so he left Jack's office again, mumbling as he walked, “Crazy name, a restroom.  We aren't resting, we're eliminating.  Okay, some people rest in a restroom.  Some people hide in them.  I've hidden in them, sometimes, before.”  He drew a large breath as he rounded the corner and bumped into someone, though he wasn't sure who it was.  Daniel kept walking, muttering to no one in particular.  “Where was I?  Oh, yes, my not-so-pleasant past.  No, before that?  Oh, the restroom, lavatory, commode, bathroom, latrine, washroom, toilet, water closet, potty, outhouse, the can, powder room, head, privy, john ... geez, I'm glad my name isn't John.  I'm going to see John, at the john, in the john, on the John.  Jack's a Jon...athon, but he's not a john.”

Daniel was still talking to himself minutes later when he returned to Jack's office and again shut the door.

----

Daniel stared at the books, lined up neatly in a row on the top shelf.  They were mostly Air Force related tomes dealing with history and military strategy.  There were a couple related to astronomy and a few that focused on satirical humor.  He noticed one book had something sticking out of it.  This made him curious, so he reached for the book.

The volume was old and showed signs of age with a sagging spine, upturned edges, yellowing pages, and a cover with loose threads.

“Somehow I can't picture Jack reading this,” Daniel thought about the book called, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that was originally published in 1936.  ~I wonder what that is.~

To Daniel, it looked like there was a bookmark about halfway through.  He could see about a quarter inch of the object sticking out.  He turned to the bookmarked page, the first in the chapter entitled, “Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking.”

“What the ...”

There was not just one item, but three at the page.

“Mug shots?”

Indeed, Jack had the mug shots from the time when he, Daniel, and Sam were arrested at O'Malley's, a favorite restaurant for SG-1.  They'd been influenced by alien armbands that greatly increased their strength and their appetites.  A desire for steaks caused the three to leave the Mountain without permission.  As they dined, a fight ensued after Daniel took issue with being called a geek.  The three were hauled into the local sheriff's office before finally being bailed out by an angry General Hammond.

~Gawd, that was fun.~

The archaeologist vividly recalled how agile and fast he'd been while under the influence of the armband.  He ran so fast he wasn't even visible to others and he jumped a fence over twenty-five-feet high as if it were a pebble.  Of course, the men who picked the fight were easy pickings for the teammates.

~I shouldn't be proud of that.  I'm not, really, but it felt good to stick up for myself.~

Daniel focused on the mug shots.  His picture featured a blank expression, Sam smiled as bright as if she were a beauty pageant contestant posing for the camera, and Jack had a smug smirk on his face, one full of pride and not the least bit of blame or sorrow over the fight.

“What's that show?”

The archaeologist was trying to remember an old black and white series Jack forced him to watch one time.

“*This* is the city, Colorado Springs.  It's ... I don't know what time, and I don't care.  I'm here, Jack's not.”  Daniel sighed, a long, deep sound where air was expunged from his body.  “This was a time when SG-1 was together.  We were unbeatable.”  He looked at the book and reviewed the chapter where the pictures were located.  He found the one thing he thought might have resonated with his lover.  It was, “Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.”

With a little chuckle, Daniel opined, “Now that's Jack.  Listen, and act dumb.  That is *so* frustrating, but it's second nature to him now.  I wonder how long he's had this book?”  As he thumbed through the pages, he ended up back at the inside cover and there he saw a familiar name.  ~His mother.~  With some recall, he uttered a slight, “Mom.”

Daniel remembered back to when he and Jack became young boys.  They were brothers, two of three O'Neill boys with the oldest being Billy.  Actually, he was adopted by the O'Neills after the death of his parents.  In his brain were memories from that reality in which Daniel felt the love and caring of Jack's parents.  Naturally, the O'Neills weren't his own parents, but in an odd way, he felt a kinship with them now as a result of that experience.

In a second, Daniel's somewhat reverent demeanor changed to a more childlike one.  For a moment, he wasn't an adult, but a happy eight-year-old boy who thought he could do anything.

Feeling the strength of the alien armbands, Daniel faked a karate-type move and slammed his right hand against a corner table, wanting to break it in two.

“Ouch!  Ow!  Eweeee.  That hurt.  Mommy, I hurt.”  The boy-in-a-man's body turned around in circles, calling out, “Mommy, I need you!  I have an owie.  Mommy?  Come kiss it and make it better, Mommy?  *Mommmmmmmmmmmy!* he screamed as he fell to floor and banged his head against it.

Daniel's eyes blinked as he looked up at the ceiling.  He raised his head and examined the length of his body.

~Why am I on the floor?~  As he sat up, he queried, ~And *why* does my hand hurt?~

Shaking it off, Daniel stood and became entranced by Jack's chair.  He stood, just stood, and stared in silence.

----

Daniel reached down and rubbed his legs and thighs.  They were aching, causing him to grimace.  He paced, thinking the movement would lessen the constricting of his muscles.  There was a bit of improvement, but not much.  He was also colder than before, even though he was wearing his green BDU jacket.  The more he became aware of the chill, the harder it was to concentrate on anything.  He became fixated on the cold.

Even worse, when Daniel walked over to look at some of the plaques on the wall, he couldn't center in on them.  The rectangular documents were blurry.  He rubbed his eyes and blinked many times, trying to get his eyes to focus.  He gave up on his quest, the coldness taking precedence.

As he looked around, Daniel zoomed in on a coat rack that was near the door.  He'd forgotten it was there because so often it was hidden by the open door of the office.  On the rack was a long coat.

~I remember now.  That's Jack's blizzard coat,~ a reference to the outerwear Jack kept in his office should the winter weather become so bad that he couldn't stand wearing a less-warm jacket home.  He practically never wore it, but never the less, it hung on the rack, ready to be worn.  “That'll work.”

Putting on the coat, Daniel's senses exploded with feelings of being embraced by his soulmate.  He could smell Jack's scent, feel his lips, hear his promises of forever, taste his aura, and see his soulmate in his mind, all of which was helping to warm him up.  He wondered if his husband might have gloves as well, so he inserted his hands into the two big side pockets.  There was nothing in the right pocket, but Daniel took hold of something in the left.  When he pulled it out, he was perplexed.

“That's my boonie, my first one,” Daniel told the air.  “What's he doing with my boonie?  I thought I'd lost it.”  He spun around to face the breadth of the office's interior and called out, “Jack, you stole my boonie.  It took me months to get a new one!”

“Sorry, Angel, but I couldn't resist,” Jack responded as he appeared in front of the younger man.

“It was mine, Jack.”

“It still is, Danny.  I was just keeping it safe for you.”

“For five years?”

With a shrug, Jack responded, “You dropped it on 592.  I was gonna give it back, but you started talking with that gypsy ...”

“Romani.”

“What?”

“She wasn't a gypsy, Jack.  Her people have their origins with the Romani people.  Actually, the Burushos of Hunza ...”

“Daniel, I'm getting a fron-ache.”

“Sorry, but you stole my boonie!”

“Did not.”

“Did so.”

“Not!”

“So!”

“If you hadn't been so eager to chitchat with that woman, I would have given it back right away, but you were busy, so I kept it, and then I forgot about it.”

“For five years?”

“Sue me!”

“I want my boonie back.”

“You're holding it.”

“I'd rather be holding you.”  Daniel walked forward and began to put his arms around his Love, only when he did, his arms came back, slapping himself lightly on his elbows.  “Jack?  Where'd you go?”

Desperately, Daniel put the boonie back into the left pocket of the coat.  He took the coat off and put it back on the rack.  Frantically, he sprinted the few steps necessary to be at the center of the room.

“Jack, you can keep the boonie and I ... I ... Jack, I won't talk to anymore ... gypsies.  I promise.  Jack?”

Daniel's muscles began to ache, throbbing mightily against his flesh, trying to break out of his skin.  That's how it felt.  He crumpled over in agony and sank down to the floor.  His breathing heavy, he leaned back against Jack's desk.

“You can have the boonie, Jack,” Daniel whispered.  “You can have it.”

With a sigh, Daniel closed his eyes.  He wanted to rest them and hopefully clear up the blurriness he experienced earlier.  Mostly, though, he wanted to gaze at his Silver Fox, something he could do forever from his heart.

----

Opening another drawer of his husband's desk, Daniel discovered a rather beat up book called, “Dutch for Dummies.”  He went to the first page and saw a penciled amount that indicated the book may not have been purchased at a bookstore, unless it was marked down.  Of course, in the book's condition, he assumed it was probably bought as used.  The book came with a CD that was missing.

~Why would he have this?~

Daniel flipped through the book like an accordion until he saw a piece of paper that was pushed in at the spine.  The written expression that was in Jack's handwriting explained everything.

“Ik hou van jou,” Daniel whispered, repeating the Dutch phrase in English afterward: “I love you.”

Going forward, Daniel discovered another note and spoke the words softly.

“Je bent mijn vallende ster.”

Daniel sat back and felt a tear rolling down his cheek.  Another followed.  He could hear Jack speaking the words to him, as he'd done so many times.  Daniel was Jack's falling star.

~You're learning these words for me,~ Daniel spoke to his Love.

“Of course I am, Angel.”

Daniel stared and broke out into a big grin as he said, “You're back.”

“Right here,” Jack responded, his arms outstretched at his sides.

“Talk to me, Angel.  Tell me what you've been doing.”

Daniel stood and hurried to his husband, flinging himself forward and then hitting the wall, stunning him.  He turned around and gasped.

“Jack?  Jack, where'd you go?  Jack, come back!”

Overwhelmed by emotion, Daniel's legs lost all strength.  He reached out for the desk, his hands searching for something to hold on to.  His right hand closed in on the desk calendar, his fingers causing the pages to advance forward several days.  Then the archaeologist caught sight of the paper and the date it revealed.  It didn't matter if the date was correct or not, it was the transcending thought of the day and its meaning to the foreverness of Jack and Daniel that was causing the bewildered man to become anxious and confused.

“Feb...Febru...ary four...teenth.”  Daniel gasped.  “Valentine's Day.”  Without further warning, he collapsed to the floor, his hand pulling the page in the desk calendar out.  His arms were outstretched and he rolled his head back and forth as he cried.  “Jack?  Come back to me.  Jack!”

====
--February 14, 2005
====

In the infirmary, Marie Hill was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Casey Hemmings who was due to report for the evening shift.  She was working the same hours, but reported in for duty an hour early.

~Where are you, Casey?~

“Hi, Marie, Beautiful.  Anything happening around here?”

“Casey,” Marie sighed, glancing around the ominously empty medical area.  “It's always quiet around here these days.”

“Is something going on?” the male nurse inquired after observing Marie's eyes darting around the room.

Marie took hold of Casey's arm and led him over to the corner where they could both keep an eye out for other staff members or personnel.

“Is there a spy around?” Casey joked.

“Casey, have you seen Daniel?”

“Not lately.”

Marie pulled on the man's arm, drawing him inches closer, before saying, “I haven't seen him in days.”

“You know how Daniel is.  He's probably working.”

“Casey, do you know about Colonel O'Neill?” Marie whispered.

“Why are you whispering?”

Her eyes determined, Marie kept her voice low as she answered, “Because I don't want anyone to hear us.  Do you know about the colonel?”

“He's on some hush-hush assignment.”

“No, he's not.”

“What are you talking about, Marie?”

“I ... please don't ask me how I know, but I got wind of something a while ago,” Marie stated.  ~Of course, I don't really know all the details, just that he may be dying in some undisclosed location.~

“You eavesdropped.”

“Casey, does it matter?”

“I don't know because I don't know what you're talking about.”

“Do you want to help me or not?”

“Sorry, Marie.  Okay, what's with the colonel?”

“I'm not sure of the details, but he's ... he's somewhere, sick or injured.  He might even be dying.  Oh, Casey, I'm not sure.  I know he's not on assignment.  I heard someone talk about a stasis pod.”

“Statis pod?”

“Very sci-fi-ish, isn't it, but so is the Stargate.  It could be a TV show.”

Casey laughed, “It was.  Didn't you see 'Wormhole X-treme'?”

“Once, but it was laughable; I fell asleep.”

“But you're saying Colonel O'Neill is ...”

“Dying in a stasis pod and Doctor Weir won't let Daniel go to him, wherever he is.  Casey, no one has seen Daniel in days.”

“Maybe he went home.”

“I checked with Tracey.  You know, Tracey O'Connor.”

“I know Tracey.  We're good friends.”

“Then you know she's assigned to security.  She checked the logs.  Daniel signed into the base on the fourth, but he's never signed out.”

“So he's on the base.”

“I've been by his office, Casey.  It's open, but he's not there, and every time I've checked, the office is the same.  I mean, the same book is on his desk, open to the same page, and his chair is in the same exact position.  Everyone's gone, Casey: Major Carter, Teal'c, General Hammond, even Janet.  All the people who look after one another, who look after him, are gone.  It's up to us.”

Casey now looked around the medical bay with more caution, much as Marie was doing the entire time.  He did think it was odd the archaeologist would have signed in but never out of the base over a span of several days.

“We need to find him,” Casey agreed, getting a nod from Marie.  “Fortunately, there's not a lot of action here, so we can search the base.”

Marie and Casey set out to find the archaeologist.  Both cared about Daniel and, like Marie's longtime crush, Casey's own affection for Daniel was alive and well.  However, he'd learned about Jack and Daniel years ago, mostly from keen observation.  He never had any doubts the two were romantically involved, which allowed him to help Jack when Daniel was recovering from his recent injuries.  As a result, Casey's affections for the man were now friendly and platonic.

Marie, however, was floored and totally shocked when she witnessed Jack kissing Daniel for the first time.  It was when Daniel was being prepped for surgery.  She would never forget that moment.  While a complete surprise, in retrospect, she wondered how'd she'd been so blind.  Their love was so obvious.

Thus, as they walked the corridors of the Mountain, both Marie and Casey understood how Daniel being separated from Jack might be unbearable for him, especially if Jack's life were at stake.

The two nurses were diligent in their search while also trying to look legitimately busy.  Fortunately, security was minimal.  Everything was minimal these days.

“Where else do we look?” Marie asked after the two checked out all of the usual places one might find someone.

~Where would I go?~  Casey let out a grunt of admonishment and slapped himself in the forehead.  “Marie, if you were missing your significant other, where would you go?”

“Well, I'd want to be with them, but if they weren't here, I'd go someplace that ...”

As Marie's eyes lit up, Casey nodded and expounded, “You'd go somewhere that reminded you of them or maybe someplace they lived.”

“Or worked!  Colonel O'Neill's office.”

The two quickly made their way to Jack's office.  They knocked on the door, not getting a response.  Then Casey touched the knob and twisted it.

“It's unlocked.”

“Open it,” Marie encouraged.

Casey nodded and pushed open the door.

“Daniel!” Marie exclaimed as she hurried to the man's side.  “Casey, shut the door.”

After closing the door, Casey ran over, kneeling down opposite Marie.  Both took the man's vitals.

“Daniel!” Marie called out again.

“Jack?  Jack, come back,” Daniel moaned.

“We need to get him to the infirmary.”

“Casey, if Doctor Weir finds out, she'll never let him go ... wherever it is he needs to go.”

“What?”

“The last time I talked to Daniel, we didn't talk about the colonel specifically, but he said he was waiting for word about a trip.  He said it was important and that everything would be okay, as long as he could get there.  Casey, I don't know what he was talking about.  He was distracted, but I heard that it was up to Doctor Weir.”

“We don't know what's going on, Marie, but we can't just stay here.  He needs help.”

“Look at him, Casey.  He's hurt, from a broken heart, maybe because the colonel is gone.  There aren't any bumps or bruises.  I don't see any lacerations or bites.”

Casey took a good look at the archaeologist.  His skin was slightly sallow and his eyes were puffy with dark circles beneath them.  He also had a light beard that was definitely more than just having missed a shave for a day or two.  Looking around the room, the nurse noticed three thermos containers, two of them lying on their sides, the caps off, while the third was on the desk next to a mug.  He saw the paper clutched in Daniel's hand and pulled it out.  Both he and Marie sighed when they saw it was today's date.

“Have to get to Jack,” Daniel moaned in a weakened tone, lifting up his head before dropping it back down.

“Daniel, it's Casey.  Can you hear me?”

“He was here.  I saw him,” Daniel stated.  “Jack, come back!”

“Let's put him in ISO-3,” Casey suggested.

“No,” Marie negated.  “There's too much chance of running into other people there.”

“You're right,” Casey agreed as he acknowledged the commissary was on the same level.

“Level 19,” Marie suggested.

“How are we going to get him there?”

“How do we always transport patients?”  Marie smiled and added, “We'll get a gurney, put Daniel on it, and some supplies ...”

“... and if anyone asks, we're moving supplies because of the shutdown.”

It took some doing, but with so little personnel present on the lower levels, Marie and Casey managed to move Daniel to an isolation room on Level 19.  The room was normally used for patients affected by hazardous materials.

“Marie, we should call Doctor Fraiser.”  Casey paused and added, “It hasn't been that long since he almost died.  I don't think we should take chances.”

Marie nodded and went to the phone, placing a call to the redheaded physician and informing her of the situation.  Janet dished out the protocol she wanted followed and headed for the Mountain, arriving there in less than an hour.

“You two took a big risk,” Janet stated with a stern expression once her thorough examination of the scientist was completed.  “You gambled with his life.”

“What would you have done, Doctor?” Marie inquired.  “With the colonel gone ...”

“Jack.  Hap ..'alentine ... come back.”

All three of the medical staff looked at the archaeologist with compassion.

“I haven't met Doctor Weir, Janet,” Marie spoke.  “Do you think she'll let Daniel go to be with the colonel?”

Janet looked over at her nurse.

“I don't know where he is, I only know he's in trouble or something, and Daniel wants to be with him, and Doctor Weir has control of that.  If she finds out that Daniel's ill or ...” Marie paused.  Instead of completing her comment, she repeated her query.  “What would you have done?”

“Don't be smart, Marie,” Janet chastised before letting out a big sigh and a tiny smile.  “Okay, he's dehydrated, suffering from sleep deprivation, and malnutrition.  No surprise there.  That's pretty much Daniel 101 in a crisis when he's worried about someone close.  He'll be fine in a few days.”

“About Doctor Weir,” Casey said with an unspoken question.

“Keep Daniel here.  I know the infirmary is like a ghost town, but I don't want to risk anyone walking by and ...”

“Love you, Jack.  Wanna play trains?”

“Trains?” Casey echoed.

“Your ears are closed, both of you,” Janet ordered.  “Is that understood?”

“Yes, Ma'am,” Marie acknowledged, as did the male nurse.

“Monitor him frequently and keep him sedated for at least forty-eight hours,” Janet instructed as she administered a drug to quiet her friend.  “If he wakes up and starts thinking about Col...” she sighed, “if he starts thinking, he won't go back to sleep.  Get him back on a regular schedule and keep him here until he's back on his feet.  Uh, Marie, better get rid of the beard and give him a bath.”

“I'll help,” Casey volunteered.

Janet rolled her eyes, well aware that both members of her staff cared more about Daniel than most of the other personnel.

“Keep it professional and call me if anything changes.  Otherwise, you know what to do.”  Janet gave Daniel another look, one of friendly caring and then walked over to get her coat and purse.  “If anyone asks about Daniel, refer them to me.”

“Doctor Weir?”

“I think Doctor Weir has her hands full, but if she asks, you don't know a thing.  I'll take full responsibility for Daniel being here.”

“But ...” Casey interjected.

“Who's in charge here?” Little Napoleon questioned.

“You are,” Casey answered.

“Then follow my orders.”  Janet went to the door and put her hand on the knob.  Then she turned and spoke quietly, “Unofficially, you both did a good job.  Unofficially, Colonel O'Neill will be grateful.  So am I.  Goodnight.”

Marie and Casey both smiled and then proceeded to tend to Daniel's needs.

====

“I don't remember much of anything,” Daniel admitted three days later when his senses returned, thanks to a lot of sleep and nourishment.  “I just ...” he trailed off, shaking his head as he sat up in the bed in the isolation room.

“Your symptoms fall right in line with a bad case of sleep deprivation,” Marie told her patient.  Using information from Daniel's unofficial chart, she listed, “Weakness, dizziness, lack of focus, muscle aches, malaise, hallucinations, vision problems, cognitive iss...”

“I get it,” Daniel interrupted.

“Not eating didn't help,” Casey pointed out.

“I needed to lose a couple of pounds anyway,” Daniel replied, trying to make light of the subject.  “Jack always says that, not about me, but ... never mind.  You have to be there.”

Moving forward, Marie asked, “Do you remember going into the colonel's office?”

Daniel thought back and answered, “Sunday.”

“You were in there for days, Daniel,” Casey noted.

“How many?”

“Today is Thursday,” Marie responded.

“Four days.”

“No,” Casey stated.

“No?” the confused patient questioned in surprise.

“It's Thursday, Daniel,” Marie stated, “Thursday, the seventeenth.  We think you were in the colonel's office for eight days.”

“Eight?”

Marie explained, “Well, you signed into the Mountain on the fourth, and we chatted for a few minutes Sunday morning, and no one saw you since then.  It's just a guess, but ...”

“No, I think you're right.  I just needed to be there and I wasn't needed anywhere else.”  Daniel let out a big puff of air and then said, “Thank you for finding me.  I really need to get out of here.”

“One more night, Daniel,” Casey negated.  “Doctor Fraiser's orders.  She'll be by the first thing in the morning.”

Daniel didn't argue.  Instead, he relaxed in his isolation.  His memory of his time in Jack's office was beginning to return, but for the moment, he didn't want to think about it.  He only wanted to sleep so that Janet would give him permission to go back to work.  When he closed his eyes, he dreamed of his lover and soon fell asleep.  The next couple of days promised to be better than the last two weeks as both Sam and Teal'c were scheduled to return.  Plus, his mind was clearer again and he would return to work and his quest to be reunited with his husband.

====
--February 19, 2005
====

Daniel tapped on the gray door numbered Room 2513-20 and waited.  He wanted to check in with Teal'c who returned to Earth a few hours ago.

When the door opened, Daniel began to speak, but stopped.  He wondered for a moment if he was dreaming.  After all, his lack of sleep over the last two weeks had derailed him and pretty much made him a bit crazy, at least in his mind.  For a second, he wondered if he was back in his soulmate's office having another hallucination.

“DanielJackson, you do not look well.”

“Uh, thanks, I guess, I think ... Teal'c, you have hair.”

“Indeed,” the warrior affirmed as he moved back to allow his teammate to enter his quarters.

“So, you have hair,” Daniel put forth once again.  “That was ... quick.”

“Jaffa grow hair rapidly,” Teal'c stated.

“Apparently.  Humans tend to grow about a half-inch a month, give or take individuality.”  Daniel paused for a few seconds as he considered how different the Jaffa looked with a full head of black hair.  “Why now?  I mean, you never mentioned wanting ... hair ... before?”

“DoctorFraiser has changed her hair many times.”

“That's true, but ...” Daniel trailed off, his response ending with a shrug of not understanding the point.

“MajorCarter has also altered her hair style.”

“Occasionally.”

“O'Neill's hair color has changed, too, and, you, DanielJackson, have cut your hair.”

“Actually, it wasn't me, I just went with it, but that's neither here nor there,” Daniel corrected and then drew in a breath that was released as an audible puff of air.  “So you're just joining the human craze of ... hair?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

“I overheard DoctorFraiser and NurseMarieHill talking about a change of hair making them feel better.  I wish to feel better.”

“I see.”

“We will revive O'Neill, DanielJackson.”

“Yes,” Daniel agreed.  “It looks good, Teal'c.”

Teal'c bowed his head and asked, “Would you like to meditate with me?”

With a bob of his head, the anguished archaeologist avouched, “Yes, I would.”

====

Later that day, Daniel had plans with Sam for a late lunch.  He met up with her in the control room, where she was performing a routine check of the computer.

“Does it still work?” Daniel teased as he observed.

“I haven't found anything unusual.”

“You sound disappointed.”

“No, of course not.  I'm just a little ... bored.”  Sam grimaced as she completed the last of her checks.  “That sounds horrible, doesn't it.”

“Lately, it's normal.”

The teammates walked out of the control room and noticed Weir was in her office. She was on the phone, something both scientists were somewhat relieved by.

“Have you talked to her lately?” Sam inquired.

“What would be the point?”

“Daniel ...”

“Sam, we both know that until we get to Antarctica, Jack's going to remain in stasis.  The thing is, we don't know if the stasis pod will protect him indefinitely.  He could ... die.  We don't know, Sam.”

“It's not really her fault, Daniel.  The governments ...”

“I don't care.”

As they arrived at the elevator, Sam faced her friend and agreed, “Neither do I, but the countries who know about the Stargate have to agree on how to move forward soon.”

“Yeah, but will it be soon enough for Jack?”

The question remained unanswered as the two switched topics and avoided the issue while eating their lunch.

====

The next morning, Daniel stood with his hands on his hips as he stared at the communication device in the control room that remained silent.  He'd sent yet another message to the Asgard, but it, like all the ones prior to it, went unanswered.

~Maybe the Nox can help,~ Daniel sighed.  ~No, it's their time of insight.  They won't respond to anyone for at least three more weeks,~ he contemplated while thinking about one of the Nox's unique celebrations that occurred every eight years per the Earth calendar.

“Doctor Jackson,” Weir called out.

“Daniel,” the archaeologist stated.  ~Why is everything always so forced with her?  Because she's not doing anything to help Jack, that's why.~

With a nod, Weir informed, “I have good news.”

“Okay.”

“An agreement to the talks with the involved nations has been tentatively reached.  We expect it to be resolved in the next forty-eight hours.  Pending that agreement, I'm approving a trip to Antarctica for the twenty-third.  Can you be ready?”

“Yes, absolutely, of course,” the eager scientist responded.  “Thank you ... Elizabeth.

For the first time in a long while, Daniel felt hopeful.  He'd get to the Ancient outpost and find a way to free his lover.  He needed to be there anywhere as the thought of Jack being enclosed in a pod, essentially alone, was tugging at his heartstrings.

Daniel looked at his watch and remembered he hadn't eaten anything yet.  Knowing Weir could prevent him from going to Antarctica, he eagerly headed for the commissary.  Lack of nourishment was not going to be a reason for him missing this opportunity, the one thing he'd been awaiting so longingly since Jack was placed in stasis.

====
--February 21, 2005
====

Daniel was feeling the most positive he had in a long while.  The trip to Jack's location was still on.  Within the next forty-eight hours, he would be reunited with his soulmate.  It didn't matter that Jack was still in stasis, Daniel would be there and able to do research at the site that might actually do some good.

The archaeologist started to gather items he needed for the trip when he stopped suddenly.

~Bij and Katie.~

Just that quickly, with a flash image of the beagles in his mind, Daniel put down his notebook and left the Mountain.  He hadn't been home in a long time and he felt bad about that.

~I'm a horrible parent,~ the archaeologist thought as he signed out and headed for the parking lot.  He was moving quickly at first, but then his pace slowed as he came closer to the vehicle.  The dark green 4x4 from Ford was in excellent condition, its exterior shiny and without a scratch on it.  It was well taken care of by the colonel.  ~Jack's truck.  He loves that truck so much.  It's his pride and joy.~

Jack took great care of his Ford truck, and he never allowed anyone else to drive it, except for Daniel, who now slowly took his place in the driver's seat.  He closed his eyes to still himself.  Every part of the interior spoke of his lover, and the two enjoyed some special times inside it.  More than once, they'd made love inside the cab, which wasn't easy considering how tall they both were.

~Okay, I need to see the girls,~ Daniel thought to spur himself onward.

Starting the truck, Daniel gave himself a few more seconds to settle and then began the forty-minute drive home.

====

Standing at the edge of the bush-lined walkway near the sidewalk, Sophia Valissi and Christa Svenson were talking.

“Christa, look, it's the colonel.”

Eagerly, Christa turned around and focused on the vehicle, only she couldn't make out the driver.

As the truck neared, Sophia sighed, “No, it's Daniel.”

“Jack's been gone such a long time.”

“I'm worried about him,” Sophia sighed.

“The colonel's a strong man.”

“Oh, yes, and I'm worried about him, too, but it's young Daniel who has my concern.”

“They are such good men.  You seem extra concerned for Daniel.”

“Christa, Jack and Daniel love these dogs.  They don't leave them alone unless something serious is going on.  My guess is the colonel is gone on assignment for the Air Force and something's gone wrong.”

With a nod, Christa opined, “They have a special connection, those two.”

By this time, Daniel was turning off the ignition after coming to a stop in the driveway.  He exited the truck and approached his neighbors.

“Daniel,” Sophia called out as she walked forward and hugged the uncomfortable man.

“Hello, Mrs. Valissi.”  Daniel looked over at Christa and created, “Hi, Mrs. Svenson.”

“No word from the colonel?” Christa asked.

“Uh, no, he's ... unavailable.  I'm sorry I've been away for so long.”

“Are you home now, for good?” Mrs. Valissi questioned.

“I'm afraid not.  I'm going out of town and I'm not sure for how long.  That's why I came home.  I wanted to check on Bijou and Katie.”

“They miss you dearly,” Christa stated.

“I know.  I miss them, too, very much.  Uh, can you both keep checking in on them?  I know I'm asking a lot, but ...”

“Daniel, we're here for you,” Mrs. Valissi promised.  “Those dogs are a joy.  You'll find them waiting for you in the entryway.”

The archaeologist turned and could see the beagles looking out at him through the window blinds.

“Mrs. Valissi, Mrs. Svenson, thank you.  If you don't mind ...”

“Go,” Christa instructed with a smile.

“Take care of yourself, Daniel,” Mrs. Valissi encouraged.

His heart was joyful knowing the dogs were so close and Daniel sprinted to the front door and swiftly unlocked it.

“Hey!”

Loud and happy woofs were Daniel's reception, and for the next several hours, his soul soaked in the goodness from the time he spent at home, playing with the dogs or simply relaxing with them on the sofa or on the bed.

====

That evening, after checking on his fish, examining all the swimmers to see that they were still swimming in peace, and then cleaning the tank and ensuring it was functioning properly, Daniel retrieved the dogs' harnesses and leash and suggested they go for a walk, which went over great with the canines.  The weather cooperated with a light breeze and only scattered clouds overhead.

Daniel attached the coupler to the harness hooks for both girls so that he only needed to use one leash and away the three went.  Eventually, they roamed the nearby park.  As they approached one of the picnic tables, Bijou growled and picked up a newspaper that was on the ground.

“Yeah, I know, Bij.  People don't think.  Everyone's in a hurry,” Daniel said as he withdrew the paper from her mouth.

“Grrrr,” Katie added.

“You're right.  Sometimes they just don't care about the environment.”

Daniel headed for the closest trash receptacle and was about to toss in the paper when he caught sight of an article.

“Geez, it's Washington's birthday.  I didn't even realize.”  As both beagles nestled in as close as they could to their human in support, Daniel began to ponder, “How do you think George Washington would have handled the Goa'uld?  Or Abraham Lincoln?  Or John Kennedy?”  He cocked his head to the side slightly and conceded, “Well, they couldn't.  They'd be taken as hosts right away.  They didn't have the technology to fight them off back in their day, but I wonder what they'd do.  What would they think of the Goa'uld, or the Tok'ra, or the Nox?”

Daniel sat down on a bench and let his mind be free.  Then he leaned over to pat the beagles.

“Do you think President Hayes cares?  He's so new at this.”

“Woof!” Bijou called out.

“You're right, Bij.  This is our time together and I shouldn't be thinking about the Goa'uld or any politician, past or present.  How about a run?”

“Woooooof!' both dogs agreed.

“Let's go!” Daniel exclaimed playfully as human and canines set out on a jog before heading home.

====

In bed for the night, Daniel was on his side, facing the two beagles whose eyes were focused on him.

“The thing is, I'm not sure how long it's going to take to get Jack home, but I will do it.  I hate leaving you again, but I don't have a choice.  When this is over, and Jack's home, we can all cuddle together in front of a warm fire.”

The girls remained focused on their human, listening to the softness in his voice and feeling his love for them.

Finally, Daniel's eyelids closed and his left arm dangled across both dogs, who snuggled in a bit closer and enjoyed this special night.

====
--February 22, 2005
====

After breakfast with the beagles, Daniel returned to Cheyenne Mountain and once again attempted to concentrate on projects he deemed unimportant at the moment.  He gave up his quest to do research and instead spent some time working on basic translations and reviewing notes made by his staff before the events in Antarctica.

When he finished his task, or as much of it as he could tolerate at the minute, Daniel began walking the corridors of the SGC, as he often did these days.  He was in his blue BDUs with his hands in his pockets, his head down as he moved along quickly.  The movement felt good and kept him from becoming stagnant and getting too much inside his own head.  As he went from level to level, Daniel noted the activity level was higher than in recent weeks, especially on Level 27 where the control room was located.  Out of curiosity, he entered the room and saw Sam and one of the Russian technicians sitting and intently observing a monitor.

“What's going on?”

Sam answered, “It's our Russian team on the International Space Station.  They're adjusting the orbit to avoid some debris left over from our ... little incident in Antarctica.”

On the screen was Anatole Konstantinov, a cosmonaut, who was speaking with the Russian female technician.

Everyone watched as a large piece of space debris from Anubis' mother ship drifted towards the space station and barely missed colliding with it.

“It worked,” the technician reported to Sam with a happy smile.

At that point, Konstantinov made a remark to the female technician that she seemed hesitant to translate.

His arms now crossed in front of his chest, Daniel translated, “He said, ‘If the Americans wanna keep blasting alien ships out of orbit, they've gotta do a better job of tracking their own mess'.”  He smiled as Sam looked up at him.  ~That's honesty.  I respect that.~

Suddenly, the picture turned into static and the alert “Signal Lost" appeared on the screen.

“What's going on?” Sam asked.

The technician responded, “I don't know.  We lost contact.”

“Keep trying,” Sam urged.

“No.  It is no use.  The station must have been hit by more debris.”

“I don't think that was possible,” Sam replied.  “We aren't tracking any other large pieces.”

“Then what would cause the loss of the signal?”

Sam sighed, “Maybe it's a communication issue.”

With a nod of hopefulness, the Russian woman offered, “I will continue to monitor.  Thank you for your help, Major Carter.”

Sam nodded and stood and then both she and Daniel exited the control room, passing by Weir's office.  Neither scientist said anything until they reached the elevator.

“I sent another message to the Asgard,” Sam stated.

“Something bad must be going on out there, somewhere,” Daniel remarked as the friends entered the elevator together.

“I hope whatever it is doesn't come our way before we're up and running again.”

“At least you're here.”

With a smile, the blonde returned, “Except I can't do much.  Working out the maneuvers for the space station this morning has been the most exciting I've done here in weeks.”

“I haven't done anything.  I even went home early yesterday to the see Bijou and Katie, just walked right out.”  He let out a little snort as he suggested, “Maybe I should return the paycheck.”

“That's not true.”

“Truer than you know,” Daniel sighed.  “Do you think something else caused the signal to be lost just now?”

“It's a possible cause, but it cut out so suddenly.  I'm not sure, but the Russian team has it covered.  It's not really my responsibility right now.”

“You mean they won't let you play in their sandbox?”

“I wouldn't say that, exactly.”

Daniel nodded asked, “Lunch?”

“Sure.”

====

Sam laughed, “Pete's a great guy.  He could probably do a lot better.”

“Sam.”

“I have a horrible track record, Daniel, but he is so cute.  He has this little smile.  It's kinda quirky.  He's quirky, and I think that's why I care about him so much.  He does things his own way, like the ...”

“Like Jack?”

“Well, Colonel O'Neill definitely views things from his own perspective.”

The friends already ate their lunch and were lagging behind, drinking coffee.  The commissary had plenty of open tables so there was no reason to rush, especially since neither scientist had anything urgent calling on them to get back to their work areas.

“Daniel, are you okay?” the blonde inquired, expecting the archaeologist to be a bit more upbeat with the trip to Antarctica on the schedule.  “That's a ridiculous question, isn't it?”

Daniel looked around before confiding, “While you were gone, I sort of ... lost it.”

“What do you mean?”

“It wasn't much, I just didn't sleep or eat for, uh, eight days I think it was.”

“Eight days?  Daniel!”

“I know.”

“What did Doctor Weir say?”

“She doesn't know, or I don't think she does.  Janet covered it up.”

“What are friends for,” Sam replied with a smile.  More seriously, she aimed her blue eyes right into Daniel's blue ones and queried, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I'm fine.  I'm eating now and sleeping ... enough.”

“You do know if Weir finds out, she could keep you from going to Antarctica tomorrow.”

“That's why our friend is covering it up.”

“She hasn't said a word to me about it,” Sam noted.

“That's why she's a good friend.”

“Okay, I have a project to work on, nothing important, but I feel like I have to do something.”

“And I should be packing.”

“Dinner?”

“Sam ...”

“Daniel, we both have to eat.”

“You aren't going to baby-sit me now?” Daniel sighed, dreading the concept of being watched.

“No.  I'm being a friend.  Is that okay?”

Smiling, Daniel stood up, as did Sam, and replied, “It's good to have friends, Sam.”  As they walked out of the mess, he added, “Don't push him away.”

“What?”

“Pete.  Look, it's none of my business, but he seems to get this place and be okay with it, and he's crazy about you.  Don't push him away, unless you don't really care about him.”

“Why would you say that?”

“I don't know.  I'm just sayin' ...”

“I'll check in with you later.”

“See ya, Sam.”

====
--February 23, 2005
====

~Don't forget anything,~ Daniel excitedly reminded himself.  He turned and walked to a shelf, pulling out and looking at a red tome.  ~Yes, I'll need this.~ He headed to the other side of the room when he saw Weir, now a brunette and not the blonde she'd been when they first met.  “Doctor Weir.”

“Elizabeth,” the civilian base commander spoke.

“Elizabeth.  Almost ready.  I can't believe we're finally going.  I mean, I know I should have been ready a long time ago, but maybe some of these materials ...”

With some hesitancy, the woman informed, “The talks have stalled again.”

Daniel's heart stopped and tension filled the air.  He braced himself against the table, not wanting to lash out at the woman he was trying to be tolerant toward and yet finding it difficult to do.

“You're kidding me.”

“It's a complicated situation.”

“The Antarctic Treaty was established to promote scientific research in the area,” Daniel put forth.

Finally entering the office, Weir replied, “With the interest of progress for all mankind, not just that of the United States, and so argue the other eleven nations, all claiming shared jurisdiction.  I mean, Article 1 states quite clearly there can be no establishment of any military base and no testing of any weapons.  Now, you saw first hand how powerful the Ancient outpost is.”

“So, meanwhile, Jack just stays frozen in a stasis pod down there?  He sacrificed himself to save us, all of us, not just this country.”

“I know, but the scale of Anubis' attack makes covering it up tenuous at best.  If we're going to keep the entire world from finding out everything to do with the Stargate, we're going to need the full cooperation of every government now aware of what's been going on.  It's just going to take more time.”

“And in the meantime, we just sit here and do nothing.”

With a sigh and a shrug, the woman responded, “I'm sorry, Doctor Jackson.”

“Daniel,” the archaeologist corrected.

“Daniel,” Weir echoed before exiting to the corridor.

~Okay, now what?  Gawd, this is insane.  I *have* to get Jack out of there.  I *hate* politics.~  The scientist looked over in another direction and pressed against the book he was holding in his right hand.  He almost threw it against the wall, his anger and upset much more than he was used to feeling.  He got himself under control, knowing he had to remain composed and cool to succeed in his goal.  ~I have to ... play nice, like Jack teased, until I can't anymore.~  He stared at his partially packed backpack and pushed it aside.  Almost as a tribute to his lover, he snarked, ~I liked her better as a blonde.~

====

“Guys, I have an idea,” Sam told Daniel and Teal'c as the three brainstormed about how to save the colonel.

“As long as it doesn't involve red tape,” Daniel sighed.  “I still can't believe we're stuck here because of politics.”

“That hasn't stopped us before,” Sam pointed out.

“As General Hammond said that day, this is different,” the archaeologist reminded, feeling frustrated by the lengthy delay in rescuing his lover.  “I'm sorry, Sam.  What's your idea?”

“We need the Asgard.”

“The little gray butt isn't phoning home, or rather, here,” Daniel snarked.  He drew a deep breath and sighed.  “I'm sorry, again.  I sound like Jack.”

“We all miss him, Daniel.”

“The politics of your world are not always honorable, DanielJackson.”

“You've got that right, Teal'c.”

“Okay, well, actually, I got the idea from something you said the other day, Daniel.”

“What did I say?”

“You said the Asgard must be involved with something pretty serious for them to be away for so long, and that got me thinking.”  Sam looked at each of her teammates and smiled as she said, “The Replicators.”

“The Replicators?”

“The Replicators on Hala,” Sam clarified as she referred to human-form versions of the metallic menaces that lived on the planet Hala and were currently hindered by existing at a dramatically slowed-down pace, thanks to an object activated by the Asgard.  “The time dilation device isn't going to work indefinitely.  It's just not viable as a long-term solution.  The Asgard must be monitoring the situation.”

Daniel leaned forward slightly and replied, “And if they are, and we go there ...”

With a smile, Sam completed, “Then they'll see us and we can make contact.”

“And they will remove the Ancient knowledge from O'Neill,” Teal'c added.

The three looked at each other, certain their idea was one that would work.

“Um, guys, there is one more thing,” Sam said cautiously.

“Bad news?” Daniel asked.

“We can use the cargo ship that Colonel O'Neill modified to reach Othala.”

“That is not bad news, MajorCarter.”

“No, Teal'c, it's not.”

“Then what is?” Daniel probed.

“The odds are that the engines will burn out.  If the Asgard aren't there, we'll be stranded.”

There was a dreaded silence for several seconds.

“No,” Daniel stated.  “Sam, Teal'c, it's a risk, I agree, but the SGC knows where we'd be.  The Asgard are going to show up sooner or later.”

“It's the later part that is the concern,” Sam pointed out.

“Okay, so, I'll go.  I've flown a cargo ship before.”

“You're not going alone, Daniel,” Sam promised with a sweet smile.

“Indeed,” came the forceful agreement of the Jaffa.

Without saying anything further, the trio stood and headed for the office of Elizabeth Weir, the woman who currently controlled their destiny.

====

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Daniel griped when the three were back in Sam's lab after an unsuccessful meeting with Weir.  “The risk is ours.  Valuable.  Crap.  How could she sit there and tell us the cargo ship is too valuable to risk.  It's a machine; Jack's a person.  Politics.  It's just peachy.”

Sam and Teal'c stared at their teammate, letting him vent.  Both knew the truth about Jack and Daniel so both understood his pain, even as he mimicked their commanding office.

“I'm sorry,” Daniel sighed.  “That's all I seem to be saying to you guys lately.  I'm sorry.”

“Daniel, we understand,” Sam responded sympathetically.

“I sound like Jack's clone,” Daniel said, sitting down on a stool and crossing his arms in front of him.

“I think maybe ... talking like the colonel makes it seem like ... he's here,” Sam put forth.

“Yeah.  I'm gonna go ... do something,” the archaeologist spoke with a quiet tone.  “See you later.”

Sam and Teal'c exchanged a look.

“MajorCarter.”

“Teal'c?”

“DoctorWeir told DanielJackson that the Stargate was political leverage for your world, did she not?”

“Well, she didn't actually say that, but it's what she meant.”  Sam looked at her friend and questioned, “Why?”

“Leverage can be used in many ways, can it not?”

“Teal'c, what are you suggesting?”

“I am suggesting nothing, MajorCarter.”

“Okay,” Sam responded.  ~He's trying to tell me something, but I'm not getting it.~

Teal'c stood and walked to the doorway.  With his hands behind his back, he turned to face his teammate.

“Your government wishes to understand how O'Neill modified the cargo ship.”

Sam singsonged, “Yeah, it goes faster and farther than ...”  Sam paused, blinking a couple of times as she stared at the tall and strong man.  ”... than any Goa'uld ship.”  She leaned back and commented, “The government definitely wants to replicate the ability of the ship.  They may want that more than anything right now.”

Teal'c grinned, as much as the Jaffa could, and replied, “Indeed.”

Once Teal'c left the room, Sam felt amused and eager to play at Weir's own game.

~Now I've got it.  Great idea, Teal'c.~

====

~Keep it even-tempered and simple.  It's just a little case of blackmail,~ Sam told herself as she tapped on the open door of Doctor Weir.  ~Make the colonel proud.~

“What can I do for you, Major?”

“I want you to reconsider my request.”

“I'm sorry.”

Sam approached the woman's desk and reposefully stated, “That cargo ship was modified using the knowledge of the Ancients.  Now, there is no guarantee that anyone will ever be able to figure out how it was done.”

“And as the most likely person on the planet to figure it out, are you saying that if I don't let you attempt to contact the Asgard, you won't even try?”

With a bit a smile and a nod of her head, Sam answered, “I would never say that.”

“Right now, that is the most advanced piece of technology we have.”

“If it weren't for Colonel O'Neill, we wouldn't have that ship.  For that matter, we wouldn't even be here discussing this.”

The base commander sighed and realized she didn't have a choice.

“Okay, Major, I understand what you're saying.”

“Then you'll okay the mission.”

“You and Teal'c can take the cargo ship to Othala and I really do wish you success in finding the Asgard.”

“What about Daniel?”

“He has to remain here.”

“Doctor Weir ...”

“Major, as you just pointed out, when it comes to advanced technology, no one is more valuable than you in understanding and adapting that technology for our use.  Similarly, Doctor Jackson is the only one who can decipher the writings at the Ancient outpost with accuracy and speed.  His loss would virtually wipe out any advantage we now have with the Goa'uld.  I'm sorry, but we need him here and that is not negotiable.  Do we have a deal?”

====

Thirty minutes later, Sam was once again in her lab.  She'd called Teal'c and requested he join her.  Once he arrived, she updated him on her meeting with the base commander.

“You did well, MajorCarter.”

“Thank you,” Sam responded half-heartedly.

“You are worried about DanielJackson.”

“I haven't told him yet, about the mission.”  Sam took a breath and added, “I'm not sure he's going to understand.  I mean, he'll understand the logic, but ... you know.”

Teal'c bowed his head in understanding.

The conversation shifted to the mission details.

“We got the coordinates from the Prometheus,” Sam stated.  “Now, based on the amount of time it took the modified ship to get from Taonas to Earth, I'm estimating our trip to Othala will take roughly ten days.”

Feeling better than he had in days, Daniel walked the corridor as he headed for Sam's lab.  He'd just seen the mission to Othala added to the schedule.  Although he wondered why Sam hadn't told him right away, he dismissed the technicality as her being eager to go and figured she was involved with preparing for the trek.

Eentering the lab, Daniel chimed, “Hey!  So, uh, how did you talk Weir into letting us go?”

“I didn't.  I talked her into letting us go,” Sam corrected, gesturing to herself and Teal'c.  “You're staying here.”

~This is a joke,~ Daniel told himself as he looked at his teammates.

~Geez, I hate this,~ Sam sighed.  “Daniel, even with the modifications to the ship, there's no guarantee it'll get us there, and if it does, there's a good chance it'll burn out the engines.  The ship was never meant to fly at that speed, which means, if we don't find the Asgard, we'll be stranded.”

“I know.”

“We need you here.  You're our best chance of deciphering whatever information's in that Ancient outpost.”

“If we fail, you will be O'Neill's only hope,” Teal'c put forward.

“I don't care.  I mean, I care, but I ...”

Sam decided she needed to tell her friend the entire truth and confided, “Daniel, she won't okay the mission with you included.  You're too valuable to Earth.  I tried, Daniel, I swear I did, but she won't let you go.”

“That's just ... peachy,” Daniel replied solemnly before he turned and left the room.

“He will be fine,” Teal'c asserted.

“Yes, as long as we make contact with the Asgard,” Sam agreed.

“Which we will do.”

 Sam nodded and then centered in on the pre-mission preparation required to ensure the cargo ship made it to Othala.

====
--February 26,2005
====

After working in his office and actually making some progress in his research of an article brought back by SG-11 over two months ago, Daniel opted to take a break.  He paced the dull corridors of the SGC until he decided he'd try to do some more work.  Yet, he was still angry about not being allowed to go with his teammates to Hala.

As he ventured down one of the long passageways, Daniel heard laughter, but it wasn't lighthearted at all.  Rather, there was a nasty ring to it and a cackling quality to the tone.  He was nearing the source, two Marines walking in his direction.

“That's the civilian I was telling you about,” one Marine said to the other.  “He's O'Neill's ...”

Daniel didn't hear the rest of the sentence but one of the men bumped into him and then pushed him to the side.  He bumped against the wall and went down on one knee.

“I think he's used to that position,” the talkative Marine heckled.

Standing, Daniel stared at the two and barked, “Attention!”

“You've got to be kidding.  Who do you think you are?”

“I'm the leading civilian on this base.  *I'm* as high ranked here as Colonel O'Neill.  *I* can send you to Elmendorf as fast he could.  I said, attention!”

“You're out of your mind,” the cocky Marine sneered.  “Let's get out of here.”

“I don't think so,” Daniel argued as he walked directly in front of the offender.  “You have two choices.  Get to attention or get put in attention.  What's your pleasure?”

“This,” the man said, hitting Daniel and knocking him to the ground.

“Thank you,” Daniel replied as he stood up and brushed away a small amount of blood that escaped from his mouth.  He rushed forward and landed two solid punches with such force that the Marine ended up flat on his back.  “How about you?” he asked the second man, who responded by snapping to in quick order.  “Good.  The next time you hear a moron spouting off, I suggest you leave him.  Go, before I have you peeling potatoes.”

The second Marine couldn't get away fast enough, much to Daniel's relief.  The normally peaceful archaeologist approached the first Marine, staring down at him with cold eyes.

“I said, attention.”

Somewhat slowly, the Marine got up onto his feet.  He glared at Daniel and contemplated slugging him, something the scientist sensed.

“Please do.  I need the release.  It's been a long few weeks.”  Daniel watched as the Marine reluctantly came to attention.  “Well, I guess that's a smart choice, but listen to me.  I can take care of myself, but my abilities are nothing compared to Colonel O'Neill, and Colonel O'Neill doesn't like gossip, especially about members of his team.  Now, he's not here right now, something I'm sure you know, but ...” Daniel entered the man's personal space, his face to the man's profile, his mouth so close to the man's ears that the Marine could feel the air of Daniel's words against his earlobe, “... he'll be back soon, and when he is, I'd watch out.  Colonel O'Neill doesn't make threats; he takes action and trust me, you won't see it coming.  Now, get out of this corridor and out of my way and stay out of my way.  The next time you see me, *any* time you see me, you turn and go the opposite direction as quickly as you can.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“I can't hear you.”

*Sir, yes, Sir!*

“Then get the friggin' out of here!”

Daniel sighed and closed his eyes.  He'd just made his best attempt at channeling his lover.  It went against the fabric of his makeup, but he couldn't stop himself.  If Jack were here, he wouldn't have tolerated the behavior.

~Maybe that's why I did it.  I ... wanted to feel like he was here.~  Daniel realized the more he'd talked, the more he did feel Jack's essence.  With a sigh, he lamented, ~But that's not the part of Jack I want to feel.  He rubbed his lower lip and let out a small, “Ouch,” before heading back to his office.

====
--February 28, 2005
====

The time was two in the morning.  Though the SGC normally ran round the clock, in these days of the Program being motionless, the graveyard shifts were lessened by seventy percent.  There was just no need for the usual staff when no one was using the Stargate.  There were no briefings for planned missions, no injuries to heal in the infirmary, and less food that needed preparing in the commissary.

Daniel stood in the control room, alone, in the virtual darkness, hues coming from a few of the mechanical gizmos and computer lights that signaled one thing or another.  He stared at the  station most usually occupied by Sergeant Walter Davis.  All he needed to do was enter the address and shut the doors.  He'd be through the Stargate in no time.  Things were so stagnant on the base that there weren't any SFs nearby.

~Piece of cake,~ Daniel figured.

The question was, where to go.  The Asgard were apparently somewhere out of reach.  Like Jack, he was certain Thor would have responded if he could.  Something serious must be going on to keep them from replying to Earth's hails.  The Nox were celebrating a special time among their people.  Daniel didn't have a right to interfere with that, even if the Nox Stargate were open for business, which he knew it was not.

~Ardyl,~ Daniel thought.  The Hedronix were fairly new friends and they were quite advanced.  They were also very high on ethics and transparency.  ~I couldn't lie to them.  I don't know if they'd understand me going through the Gate without permission.~

The Tollen had been out of the picture for years and a few of the other advanced races had strict rules about their interactions with the primitive earthlings.

His arms crossed across his chest, Daniel's head literally sank downward.  He had no one to contact and no where to go for assistance.  He sat down in a chair and stared at the Stargate, hoping some miracle would come.  Maybe Sam and Teal'c would be successful, but he wouldn't know that for days to come yet.

As he sat in the technician's chair, staring at the Stargate, thinking and rethinking Jack's plight, the odds of the Asgard being where Sam thought they might be, and how he could convince Weir to let him go to Antarctica, Daniel still wanted to somehow get to Antarctica.  At least he could be with Jack, and who knows what he might unearth.

~Friggin' politics.~

“Doctor Jackson,” rang out the irresolute voice of Davis.

“Walter.”

“Did you need something?”

“Did I ...”  Daniel looked around and also noticed Davis had a fresh cup of coffee in his hands.  He could hear voices, too.  The day rotation was beginning.  He'd been sitting in the control room for hours.  “Uh, no, I was just ... no.”

Daniel stood and left the area.  He returned to his office, shutting the doors and finding a corner to hide in.  He felt helpless and that was always the worst part of it whenever Jack was away in some critical-near-hopeless situation.

For now, Daniel sat quietly until he couldn't anymore.  That's when he rose and forced himself to go to mess hall and eat something.  He didn't want to relapse, not now when at least there was some hope in sight.  He suspected Janet had enlisted Marie and Casey to keep a closer eye on him and he didn't want her confining him to a sick bed, or worse, forcing him to go home.  So, Daniel ate enough to satisfy the medical team and he slept enough to maintain his cognitive functions, even though a small part of him wondered if seeing Jack as a hallucination was better than not seeing him at all.

====
--March 1, 2005
====

Normally, work was an escape for Daniel Jackson, but work reminded him of Jack. He needed a distraction, something unusual for him, something that wouldn't overtly remind him of his husband's current plight.

With a fresh cup of coffee and a Twinkie for good measure, Daniel sat down at his desk and stared at his computer.  Slowly, an idea formed.

~That's crazy.~

Daniel slowly placed his fingers atop the keyboard where they hovered for over a minute.  He used his mouse to open up a program and then created a new document file.

~This is insane.~

Tentatively, the linguist developed an idea.  Even though Jack was part of the concept, it seemed different than earlier.  Maybe it was because the colonel could be active, walking, talking, griping, snarking, and otherwise being his usual, loveable self.

~Okay, maybe it's not crazy or insane.  I am writing stories at home, our story, sort of, in the hopes people will start to understand how two heterosexual men can fall in love and discover they are soulmates without actually being what pop culture traditionally describes as gay.  If I can do that, I can do this.~

Determined and willing to do almost anything to escape his lonesome reality, Daniel began to type.

//Daniel's Story - Abridged//
“Okay, kids, off to lunch we go.”

That's Jack, Jack O'Neill, colonel, United States Air Force.  He's a sly silver fox who enjoys calling his peers kids, when not referring to them as campers.  He's lived a secretive life for the military and after a lot of darkness, he now enjoys the value of playtime, even when at work.

So, off we went, Jack, Sam, Teal'c, Jonas, and me.  Yes, *that* Jonas, Jonas Quinn, of Kelowna, very intelligent, smiles a lot, and loves to the nth degree doing something, anything, good or bad, for the very first time.  Once again, to Jack's chagrin, Jonas was accompanying SG-1 on a mission, something he did off and on for about a year.  Jack wasn't fond of Jonas, but that's another story and is neither here nor there for the purposes of this writing.

This was our first visit to P4S-237, a world centered on mining as we came to learn.  We sat down for a delicious meal of, well, to be honest, I'm not sure what it was.  To Jack's credit, he managed to fake his way through it.  I mean, it was an odd looking bone of grizzled ... something.

“No need to apologize.  It appears delicious.”

Our hosts were Ellori, an elder, and Chazen, his young advisor.  The world was poor in a materialistic sense.  They worked in the mines for “the greater glory of Ba'al,” Chazen said.  The thing is, Ba'al abandoned the planet more than a hundred years earlier when the mines went dry.  We'd already learned that from other sources.  SG-1 had a lot of sources.  Sometimes we just guessed, but that doesn't really apply here, either.  We knew what we did from the Tok'ra.  They have spies everywhere, but that's also another story.  There are lots of stories out there beyond the Stargate.

Ellori admitted the naquadah was scarce and difficult to extract, but they still were able to find pockets to mine.

“But why do it?” I asked.  I had to ask.  It didn't make sense to slave away in the mines when the Goa'uld had already left you behind.  “Why?”

That's when Chazen told us about Lord Mot.  Boy, is Jack going to have a field day with that name.  Wait for it, he will.  This guy is supposed to show up in twelve days of the rising moon.  So, anyway, Mot is the emissary for Ba'al.  Somehow, I'm doubting the legitimacy of the connection.  Looking at my teammates, I can see they feel the same way.

Then I see Jonas.  The cuisine is obviously not agreeing with him.  He's pale, swaying, and, oops, down he goes.  Sorry, folks, but we've got to go, but we'll be back.  We don't want to see you destroyed by some faker.

Janet does her part and gives Jonas a thorough examination and we wait for the results.  It never stops us from working, of course, so we meet with General Hammond, base commander, proud Texan, and surrogate father, or maybe grandfather to me, and even to Jack.  We press his buttons sometimes, but it's usually for a good cause.  He could have our behinds, or sixes as Jack would say, but he gives us a break more often than he probably should.

We tell the general about the situation, including the bombshell Ellori laid on us before we left.

“We have an ancient prophecy, that one day strangers would come through the Chappa'ai to slay the gods and free our people.  Now you have arrived, and you also carry weapons of great power.”

Looks like the pressure's on us to save the day, and the planet.  It's prophesied, after all.  Jack wants more Intel, of course.  I just want to free the people.

What happens next is a real kicker.  Jonas has visions, including one of Sam asking him to lunch.  That's Sam, always kind to the underdogs, and Jonas was an underdog because of how Jack felt about him.  The whole base knew.  He did not do a good job of keeping his opinions to himself.  Sam, Samantha Carter, Major, United States Air Force, grew up on military bases thanks to her father, Jacob, now a Tok'ra (long story and also not relevant here), my science twin, blonde, pretty, blue eyes, smarter than smart, and involved with a police detective while pretending to have feelings for Jack.  It's a game, but I've already told that story elsewhere, so we'll proceed.

So, Mot was the Canaanite god of death and the myth goes he was defeated by Ba'al and forced to live in the underworld.

“In all likelihood there was a power struggle.  Ba'al defeated Mot and forced him into servitude,” said Teal'c, Jaffa, big, tall guy with a tattoo on his head, over a hundred years old, stronger than Mr. Clean, ex-First Prime to Apophis, the now-deceased for the I've-lost-count-number-of-times System Lord.

Yeah, I backtracked.  I needed to get that information on Lord Mot out there and it didn't fit earlier.  It's literary license when telling, or in this case writing, a story.

We're counting the days and doing more research, only without Jonas.  Janet wants him on light duty.  He might have a tumor.  Does General Hammond give him the news?  No, he tells Jack to pass it on.  Does Jack handle it alone?  Nope, he gets all of us there.

“We're a team.  We stick together,” came Jack's so-called sincere statement.

“So, what you're saying is that you want us to do your job?” I asked the colonel.  He wasn't fond of that and glared at me, as if that were going to have any effect on me.  Come on, really?  After all these years, you'd think he know by now that glaring does nothing, unless you're a recruit, new transfer, or ... well, it doesn't effect me, that's for sure.  Off we go, to a room where other SG teams share desks and equipment.  Fortunately, Jonas is the only one there.  He's not happy.  “I'm sure it will only be for a day or two.”

“Fraiser's just covering all the bases,” stated Jack, looking great in blue, by the way.

“Something else has to be going on here.  Whatever she saw in that MRI, it has to have something to do with these visions I'm having.  I mean, it can't be just coincidence.  You do believe me?”

No one answered the question directly.  You think we would.  Years of oddness and we still act like anything strange is strange and impossible, until we realize it might be strange, but is not only possible, but probable, and even fact.

“So, you're seeing things before they happen?” came Jack's keen query.

“That's right,” Jonas replied.

Now of all the things Jack could ask someone who can see the future, he asks, “What's for lunch?”

Let's just move on.  Teal'c wants to believe, but it's that 'never happened before' syndrome in his mind, so he's doubtful.  Sam avoids the emotional because she doesn't want Jonas to feel bad and she feels sorry for him, so she goes all sciency and says it goes against all the laws of physics as we understand them.  I'm just watching Jack watching Jonas and trying to hide the fact that, if he had his choice, he'd send Jonas back to Kelowna and let their scientists figure out the problem.

Jack is a lover of clichés so this is in his honor: the proof is in the pudding.  Jonas served us a helping of creamy pudding when he announced the Tok'ra were coming.  A second later the klaxons blared.  Those things are loud.  You can't miss the announcement, unless you're completely deaf.  We hurried to see who was calling and boy, did Jack have a deer-in-the-headlights look when the Tok'ra were the ones at the door.  Before we knew which Tok'ra came for a visit, Jonas added to the prophecy.

“Her name is Sina,” and it was.

And as I said before, we were suddenly believers.  That pudding is hard to say no to, especially if it's chocolate.  I love chocolate, which is no secret, and Jack makes sure to have plenty of chocolate available.  It sometimes helps him through difficult situations of a personal nature, but that's not really the story being told right now.  To summarize: chocolate equals yum, yummy, and yummier.

We found the Tok'ra with General Hammond in the briefing room.  It seems Ba'al lost a battle to Yu.

Yes, that Yu, the one who everyone loves to mock, not the Goa'uld necessarily, but Yu, the name.  Jack couldn't pass up the chance.

“You go Yu!” exclaimed Jack, punching the air for emphasis.

He'll never grow up, but who wants him to?  I don't.

Sina told us, “Ba'al's recent campaign was meant to be a final crushing blow, but he allowed Yu to slip from his grasp and suffered heavy losses in the process.”

“So he screwed up and his boss is pissed at him now, huh?”

You know who said that, right?  If you don't, you shouldn't be reading this crazy story I'm making up for ... for who?  Uh, for me, to be truthful, but not to be redundant, that's another story that I'm trying miserably not to think about.

Ever the diplomat, Sina politely told Jack, “If I understand you correctly, yes, that would be a fair assessment.”

“Clearly, Ba'al is in a vulnerable position.  It might be an ideal time for Mot to move against him.”

“Yes, we must tie a knot around that snot Mot.”

“Colonel, do you need to go to the infirmary?” came Hammond's query with the hidden message that said, “Shut up!”

Jack got the message and zipped his lips.

The fear was that Mot might garrison the planet.  That would be bad news for the inhabitants and for us.

Janet, that's Janet Fraiser, Little Napoleon Major Doctor Janet Fraiser, petite in height only, divorcee, adoptive mom to Cassandra (another story of intrigue), deduced Jonas had a tumor that was not comprised of cancer cells.  Now that was a puzzlement, especially since the tumor grew over fifty percent in hours.  That's one heckuva invasion into the body.  Janet recommended surgery and called in a neurosurgeon, but Jonas pled for more time.  He believed the new tissue in his brain was giving him precognitive abilities.  He knew he had one shot at postponing the surgery and maybe helping the poor miners on the planet.  He hit Jack right in the heart of his military-strategist self.

“Colonel, you of all people should realize what an advantage this could be. Imagine if we could know, in advance, when and where the next Goa'uld attack would come from.”

With a subtle bob of his head to the general, Jack gave his approval.  I told you, Jonas figured out the best way to get Jack on his side, or at least not opposing his request.

“Colonel, I want you to take the rest of SG-1 and SG-15 back to the planet for a full tactical assessment.  If there's a real chance we can free these people from the Goa'uld, I wanna know about it.”

Those were our marching orders, so we geared up and met in the embarkation room.  You know, gate room is easier to say.  I'm not really sure who came up with these names, but let's keep it simple.

“Let's move out,” ordered Jack when the event horizon form.

I don't really think he needed to say it, but he's the mission leader and those military guys (and gals) don't do much of anything without a leader telling them to go first.  The delay is a good thing, though, or so we thought.  Halfway up the ramp, Jonas came running in, yelling for Jack to stop.

“You have to scrub the mission.”

“Why?”

“Major Carter gets hurt.  I saw it,” came the explanation from Jonas.

Maybe that's worth delaying the mission.  Sam didn't want to remain behind, but Jonas had the vision of her being wounded by something resembling a staff blast and his other visions had all come true.  No one wanted to risk Sam's life, so Jack told her to stay at the SGC, and away we went again and this time we did make it to P3S-237.

It was rather uneventful at first and Jack wasn't all that sure that Earth should expend its resources on this mining planet, but then Ellori spoke from his heart, and Jack's good at absorbing that sincerity, as long as he's really listening.

“Have you decided to help us?” asked Ellori.

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

“It is as the prophecy foretold.”

Don't talk prophecy or mumbo jumbo to Jack.  He wants it straight.

“No, screw the prophecy.  I need to know your people are willing to follow through in this.”

“Last winter, there was a terrible sickness in the village.  Many could not work. When Lord Mot arrived and there was not enough naquadah, we tried to explain. We begged his forgiveness, but he would not listen.  He took ten of the sickest, including my daughter's husband, and executed them in front of the whole village.  We would do anything to be free of this burden.”

I saw Jack's eyes and the softening of his expression.  His face was less taut and his eyes less stern.  The inhabitants became more real to him.  All jokes aside, touch Jack's heart and he's all in, no matter the odds.

“We're going to help them, right, Jack,” I asked, even though I wasn't sure why I had the need to hear him say it.

“What do you think?”

“That you're a softie.”

“I'd rather be a hardie.”

“Jack!”

“Daniel!”

Why am I writing this down on a computer at the SGC?  Dumb, Jackson.  Okay, in for a penny, in for a pound:  Dumb, Jackson-O'Neill.  That's going to be our names, legally, when we retire, again, for the final time.  No, I need to stop thinking about this before melancholy hits me.  Back to the story.

At nighttime, we had a big strategy meeting during which we learned Mot tended to arrive on the planet by ship.

“And where does Lord Pot land?”

“Mot,” corrected I, that's me, myself, and I, archaeologist, anthropologist, linguist, and even I don't remember what all, speaker of a multitude of languages, most of which no one has ever heard of outside the Program, geek (I'm reluctantly using that term as it sounds less egotistical), rescuer of damsels in distress (according to Jack), coffee and chocolate lover, and, well, I am who I am and who I am is Daniel Patrick Jackson, orphaned too young when my parents were crushed to death by a coverstone, and that is definitely not what I want to be thinking about now, so, moving right along.

Ellori showed us the appropriate spot on a map and told us there would be eight to ten Jaffa with him.  We were planning to sweep the area the next day, only Chazen entered.  Chazen: unhappy with us, believer of false gods, and a spy.  Sadly, we didn't know that sooner.

A scout ship flew overhead and the next thing we knew, Chazen used one of those silver ball grenades that landed some of us on our sixes.  The only good part of that is that I didn't land on my six.  I landed atop Jack.  He's my pillow in real life so it seems appropriate that he's my pillow in a make-belief story.

When we woke up the next day, we were in an underground cell and very much awake.  In a sense, being zapped by a sleep grenade bomb was a good thing.  We were refreshed and ready to kick some Goa'uld butt.

“Everyone okay?” questioned our fearless leader as he took a visual check.  “Daniel?”

“I'm fine.”  That' my standard answer.  I could be dying and I'd say I was fine.  Actually, I have said that, when I was dying.  That's a very long story and I'm not getting into that.  I'll repeat.  “I'm fine,” said I.

Jack stood up and walked over to the cell doors.  He had a quip.  He loves quips, just like he loves being snarky, and acting like a child, and pretending to be dumb. Anyway, he had a line that had us laughing, inside.

“You know, every time I wake up in a Goa'uld cell, I can't help the thought that something bad is going to happen.”

“There you go,” quipped I, not wanting to be excluded from Jack's fun, when the obvious enemy entered and approached the cell, his personal guard nearby.

“You are the Tau'ri of Stargate Command.”

“And you are Lord Snot ...”

“Mot,” the Goa'uld corrected.

“Have it your way,” said Jack who added, “I prefer mine with two all-beef patties, special sauce, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”  There was a pause.  Teal'c had no clue what Jack was talking about.  Jack was obviously in need of food.  “What?  You don't have a McDonald's in your lordly low world?  You're loss.”  Then my colonel said what he intended to say originally.  “And you are Lord Mot, come to punish us for our insolence, et cetera, yadda, et al.”

“That is correct.”

“Well, Mr. Mot, we're onto ya, we know what you've got planned, and we've informed the Tok'ra.  If we don't report back on schedule, they're going to rat you out, they're going to tell your boss, they'll snitch on ya.”

Jack was having fun.  When we're in trouble, he's at his snarky best.

“You intend to send a warning to Ba'al,” replied Lord Snot, er, Mot.

Looking at me, Jack responded, “I think that's what I said, isn't it?”

“Sounded like it.  Maybe he has a hearing problem, or something in his ear.” confirmed I, trying to be snarky and quippy like Jack, but he's the man when it comes to snark, but I'm not too bad at it, either.

“I said that,” said the colonel to the lord.

“I think this is unlikely.  You would not be here if you did not wish to protect the people of this planet.  If Ba'al discovers the mines are still active, he will return. There will be no message,” the snotty Mot stated.

Okay, I should give Teal'c a line.  He didn't used to say much, but that guy is so deep  now.  He says some of the most amazing things.  Read this one and you'll read what I mean.

“Ba'al is in the service of Anubis.  If you kill him, you will have to answer for it.”

Wasn't that a great line?  It was a great deduction and it served as a warning, too.  See, deep.

“You may be of some assistance in that regard,” Mot told Jack, who naturally disagreed.

Mot had a GDO and wanted the code.  He's not going to get that.  We'd all die first before giving a Goa'uld the code that could result in the destruction of the SGC and the enslaving of Earth.  Mot threatened the inhabitants of the planet and was sure Jack would betray our world, but he wouldn't.  No surprise.

A while later, a familiar soul approached the guards and offered them drinks.

“Jack, isn't that ...”

Always hungry, Jack wasn't listening to me and called out, rather politely I thought, “Excuse me, Miss, but how about sending a little bit of that our way?” Then he saw what I suspected was going to happen.  The guards collapsed.  Am I good, or am I good?  “Or not,” said Jack, now happy not to have one of the spiked beverages.

Having taken the keys from one of the guards, Natania, the daughter of Ellori, the one whose husband was killed as an example by Mot, opened the cell doors.

“Wow, what did you put in that stuff?” asked Jack.

“Kelmino root.  They will sleep for many hours.  I was able to retrieve this,” said the lovely damsel as she handed the GDO to Major Pierce.  “Chazen has the rest of your belongings.  I daren't take more.”

Natania told us her father was being held in the village and was going to be made an example, something that had to sting the young and pretty widow.  Jack knew we needed help to save him and the rest of the inhabitants, so he asked Natania to lead us out, which she did.  She was the perfect damsel needing protection because she understood we needed help before we could help her.

We made it to the Stargate and then had a firefight on our hands, but we're SG-1, so naturally, the Jaffa were no match for us, though SG-15 had one man injured.  I dialed home, Major Pierce sent the signal, and through the Gate we went.  However, we were surprised to see a mass accumulation of SFs, weapons aimed at us, as we arrived and headed down the ramp.

“Got a wounded man here!” called out Jack with urgency.

We were glad to see the general and Sam.

“You're looking good, Sam,” said I with a smile, though I could tell something had happened.  They don't call me a genius for no reason.  Sam had her left arm in a sling, color coded, blue, for the blue uniform she was wearing, which matched her blue eyes.  “What happened?”

“Later,” Sam responded quietly, giving way to the general to speak.

“Colonel, it's good to see you,” spoke our base commander.

“General, request permission to return to the planet with SG-3 and 10.  We have some unfinished business,” said Jack.

“Permission granted.”

Jack was concerned about the position and number of armed personnel, as was I, and as was Teal'c.

“Expecting someone else, Sir?” inquired my colonel.

“I'll explain later,” promised our sling-armed teammate, and she did explain, in detail.
 
What we learned was that Jonas' vision happened, only Sam wasn't harmed by a staff blast, but by a power spike that caused the capacitor to blow up when she and Sergeant Siler were doing an overhaul of the Gate generator.  That's Sergeant Siler, no first name necessary, master magician of all things mechanical at the SGC, keeper of some really odd and very big, big, big tools, and who has an odd affection for Jack.  He was injured, too, but only on his hand and it was minor.

Jonas felt guilty, of course.  Had he not said a thing, Sam would have been on the mission.  That's the if game.  Humans play it all the time: if only I'd done this, said that, been there, done this, taken that turn -- if only.  Sam tried to get Jonas to realize he wasn't at fault.

“I envisioned it exactly the way it happened, but I didn't understand it.  I misinterpreted the vision.  I won't make the same mistake again.”

“Don't do this to yourself.”

“I've been thinking about this a lot.  Now I have always been hyper-observant.  I see details that other people miss; I see patterns.  Maybe predicting the future is just an extension of that ability.”

Okay, so Sam replied and the conversation got very technical.  I admit to having a genius IQ, but my expertise is in a different area of science.  Sometimes when she prattles, it's Greek to me, too.  I'm recalling this conversation, well, making it up as I write it, and using words and phrases I've heard Sam use before.  I make no claim to their accuracy, but I think it looks good on paper and it's fiction, after all.

Sam shook her head and told Jonas, “It doesn't work that way.  According to Newtonian physics, yes, if you could know the position and velocity of every particle in the universe at any given moment, you could accurately predict all of their interactions for the rest of time.”

“So then the future is predetermined; it's just a matter of having enough information to figure it out.”

“Yes, but quantum mechanics blows that out of the water.  According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, it is impossible to look at a subatomic particle and know both where it is and where it's going at the same time.  The more accurately you fix its position, the more uncertain you make its velocity and vice versa.  The best we can do is calculate probabilities,” came Sam's technobabbled response.

“Okay, so then I'm seeing probable futures,” said Jonas, who understands this stuff far better than I do so it's a good thing I'm the head of archaeology and not in whatever area of science Sam is in.

“Maybe,” came Sam's uncertain reply and that was pretty much it for that exchange.

Sam was back on her feet the next day, but Jonas was off his.  He'd collapsed.  The tumor grew more and Janet was insisting they operate.  Yet, Jonas was refusing.  He'd had another vision.  In this one, SG-15 sent their IDC code and the general ordered the iris opened.  Instead of SG-15, though, Jaffa came through with a bomb that destroyed the entire complex, killing everyone.

Jonas wanted more time to interpret his vision and make sure Earth was protected.  He gathered up candles and tried to imitate Teal'c.  Teal'c and candles go hand in hand when he meditates.  That's what he does now that he no longer has a symbiote and therefore doesn't need to kelno'reem.  He saw another vision.  Teal'c died in that one.  Before he could get to the general, Jonas was out of time and Janet rushed him to surgery.  Sam was there, holding his hand while he tried to tell her what he'd figured out.

Sam immediately sought out General Hammond and told him what Jonas said, that SG-1 and SG-15 were walking into a trap.  Oops!  Make that a double oops because the general's message fell on the wrong ears: Chazen's.  He heard the message come over the radio and sent someone looking for us.  Remember, by this time, we were freed and en route to the Stargate to request reinforcements so we could save the damsel in distress, or rather, Natania's father.

We went back as soon as possible and kicked what remained of Mot's Jaffas' butts.

“Mot's not so hot now,” proclaimed Jack when the fight was done.

The mining planet was now free to become whatever planet they wanted to be and we promised to help get them going, if they wanted.

Oh, and as for Chazen, after he discovered we'd escaped, he sounded the alarms, which alerted us that the Jaffa were nearby, so we were ready for that firefight.  The bad thing for Chazen was that Mot wanted us to escape so we could be captured after the link with Stargate Command was opened and his Jaffa could go through to Earth and do their deathly best to kill and/or snake us.

For his service, Chazen suffered a bad case of ribbon device fron-ache.  Been there, done that.  Been there, done that.  Been there, done that.  You get the idea. When it comes to being ribboned, I'm the king.  The good news  for Chazen was that Mot was interrupted, by Natania, who shot the Goa'uld with a gun.  Mot: taken down by a damsel, so not in distress, but so much a warrior.

A few days later, we checked up on Jonas as he recovered in the infirmary.

“How ya doing?” questioned Sam, who, by the way, no longer needed a sling.

Jonas was sick of staring at the walls, but he was recuperating well.  The tumor was completely removed.  It was found to be of ordinary human brain tissue, but the neurons were five times more densely packed.  Sam said that, not me.

“Are you still having visions, JonasQuinn?”

Now, surely you know who asked that question.  Does anyone else at Stargate Command combine people's given and surnames together other than Teal'c?  Right.

“Not since the surgery, no,” came Jonas' answer.

“So, no lottery numbers?” asked Jack, trying to be nice to Jonas, and that was a first, though I wouldn't count on that lasting too long.

Jonas asked about the people on the planet and we were happy to say that the people were planning a celebration in our honor.  We love those.  It's always a great big meet and greet, with lots of music, presents, dancing, and food.  Okay, not really, but it is nice to meet the people and have time to talk and learn more about them, and, yes, Jack always thinks about the food while I do my best to gain as much knowledge as I can about their society and culture.

“We're bringing the food this time,” stated Jack.  “Not taking any chances.”

Janet shooed us out about then, but Sam stayed behind for a minute.  She really does have a soft spot for the underdog.  I said that earlier, I know, but it's the truth.

“You know, it is interesting.  We changed the way things played out, which would seem to indicate that the future isn't predetermined, but by doing so, we fulfilled an ancient prophecy.  A thousand years ago someone in that village predicted that this would happen.  Now how do you explain that?”

“Maybe it was just a lucky guess?” suggested Sam.

“Yeah.”

As soon as Jonas' recovery ended, he returned to Kelowna.  Jack was polite and said goodbye, but afterward, he had a huge grin on his face.  I knew why and I understood.  He would always be afraid of Jonas being near me.  That would never change.  I have to admit that I love that because I love Jack and he loves me.

I can't say that much about this story, and I wouldn't call this writing.  I'm not sure what it is, but I started the tale four days ago and it has helped to pass the time and keep me sane.  I was able to think about Jack in a way that kept me focused on something positive.

The only truth in this story, aside from the love Jack and I share, is that SG-1 is a team and we care about one another, more than most teams and more than the military, any branch of the military, wants their teams to care, especially when it comes to Jack and me.  They may never understand, but that doesn't matter.  There was no prophecy about our love.  There was only us, our hearts, our minds, and our souls.
//End of Daniel's Story - Abridged//

~That is one crazy story,~ Daniel thought as he finished reading the last page.  ~Should I delete it?~  He paused and decided not to get rid of his unusual story.  ~Maybe I'll show it to Jack, or not.~

Daniel stood and stretched.  He'd missed lunch and dinner, so figured he'd better find something to eat.  He was being hypersensitive to his eating and sleeping habits as he didn't trust Weir not to send him packing if Janet gave even the slightest indication that he was not in tip-top shape.  Tomorrow would be day ten of Sam's and Teal'c's trek to the planet Hala.  He didn't want to miss a second of any transmission they might send.

~Food, then sleep, and then we get Jack back.  Please, let us get Jack back.~

====
--March 6, 2005
====

Daniel entered Weir's office and exchanged mandatory and brief salutations with her before asking, “I was just wondering if you'd heard anything.”

“They're still bogged down.”

“It's been over a week.”

“What did you expect?  Quick round of handshakes?  Champagne toast?  Seal the deal?”

“We were attacked from space by an armada of alien ships.  If that doesn't get us past our distrust of each other, what will?” Daniel asked, smiling in a bit of a condescending way.  ~Be nice until it's time not to be nice,~ he thought as he sought to reel in his growing contempt and upset.  He really hated feeling this way, but right now, Elizabeth Weir was an adversary, a roadblock in his journey to save his husband.  ~I wish General Hammond were here.~

“You forget, those alien ships were destroyed by a single weapon.  I mean, that kind of power is going to give anyone cause for concern.”

“Yep.  Not that I want this to come off as an attempt to get rid of you, but, uh, isn't this sort of international negotiation exactly your area of expertise?” Daniel inquired.  ~But, okay, I wouldn't be upset if you decided to leave, so take it however you want.~

At that moment, the klaxons blared and the announcement of an unauthorized off-world activation was heard.  Immediately, Daniel and the base commander went to the control room.  The SGC received a text message from a Goa'uld System Lord named Camulus, who was the Celtic god of war.

“We've never had any contact with him before,” Daniel noted while reading the message as it appeared on the monitor.  The crux of the message was that Camulus requested a meeting “for the purpose of negotiating a treaty.”

“A Goa'uld wants to arrange a treaty with us?” Weir asked.

“Not just one Goa'uld, all of them, the System Lords.  They want to send representatives here.”

“Is that a good idea?”

“Probably not, but, uh, I think we have to find out what's going on, one way or the other.”

====

As the day continued, many were challenged to survive in one way or another.  Life and death decisions presented themselves for those on Earth, for Sam and Teal'c, for the Asgard, and even for the Goa'uld.

At Stargate Command, Daniel's mind was partially distracted from the pain of potentially losing his husband, due to the message from Camulus.  Even so, it was always just under the surface.  It presented itself mostly when dealing with Elizabeth Weir.  Though he tried his best to remain civil while assisting her in dealing with the System Lords, he was feeling unusually hostile toward her.  He kept it reined in as much as he could while trying to give Weir the information she needed.

“The System Lords can't be trusted, either as a group, or individuals.  They're posturing egomaniacs, driven by an insatiable lust for power, each one capable of unimaginable evil.”

Weir felt the tension between her and the archaeologist and she understood that she was, in some ways, an enemy to him, at least for the moment.  That said, she needed his full assistance with nothing held back.

“Look, I'm not afraid to admit that I need help, so what can you tell me?”

~Earth needs her because, like it or not, she's all we have right now,~ the archaeologist told himself.  “The High Council of the System Lords is a rather flimsy coalition of the most powerful Goa'ulds in the galaxy. They only cooperate when it suits them.  Their numbers vary from time to time.  New ones rise up, older ones get knocked off.  We think there's about a dozen right now.  I can put together a summary of what we know.”

When his somewhat unpropitious chat with Weir was over, Daniel left to follow her order to send Camulus a message agreeing to the meeting.  He was extremely conflicted, though, and wondered if his feelings for Jack was interfering with his ability to do his job.  He simply wasn't used to having such negative feelings for someone so constantly.  It was one thing to not like Kinsey who was an occasional face-to-face pain in the mikta, but it was another to face a woman who held Jack's life in her hands the way the base commander currently did.

Fortunately, in one way at least, the linguist had too much to do in handling the situation with the Goa'uld to focus on his inner issues for more than a few minutes at a time.

Later on, Weir entered Daniel's office and rolled over a chair so she could sit while talking with the linguist.

“I was just going over some research material on the delegates they're sending. Camulus was the one who sent the original message.  Then there's Amaterasu, Japanese sun goddess, and the last one is Lord Yu.”

“Yu?”

Dryly, Daniel begged, “Don't.  Every joke, every pun, done to death, seriously.”

The archaeologist reviewed the SGC's history with Yu, including how he was helpful to them from time to time.  However, Yu was becoming senile, probably because he was no longer able to take a new host and the sarcophagus wasn't helping him much anymore.  Daniel told Weir about Yu's changing status among the System Lords, how he fell out of favor when he refused to support Anubis' return from banishment and how he was now back in league with them due to the defeat of Anubis' fleet.

Following Daniel's advice, Weir sent SG-7 to a planet to meet the representatives (Camulus, Amaterasu, Yu, and Yu's First Prime, Oshu) and ensure they were unarmed.  Once done, they returned to Earth with the representatives.  

The group met in the briefing room with Weir and Daniel.  The gist of the visit was that the System Lords wanted Earth to use their new weapon, the one that took down Anubis, to take out another of their group, Ba'al.  Ba'al was gaining too much power and the System Lords feared him.  It was Ba'al who reprogrammed the Kull Warriors, created by Anubis and better known as the super soldiers, to fight on his behalf.

“In battle, the Kull are far superior to the Jaffa.  Already, many among us have begun to speak of capitulation, much as they did with Anubis.  If that happens, Ba'al will indeed be unstoppable,” Camulus stated.  As the discussion continued, he put forth, “If Ba'al defeats us, how long do you think it will be before he turns his attention to you?”

It was the potential of Ba'al adding to his territory by destroying or taking over Earth that the representatives used in an effort to convince the Tau'ri to help them.  They furthered their argument by noting the Asgard were not around to assist Earth in the battle with Anubis.  This made Earth more vulnerable.

Amaterasu expounded, “He is convinced that the Asgard can no longer exercise power in this galaxy.  He intends to take the planets protected under the Goa'uld-Asgard treaty for himself.”

Camulus added, “If you do not help us stop him, millions of humans will die, and millions more will be enslaved.”

The group took a break, allowing Daniel and the base commander to speak privately in her office.

“How many planets are protected under this treaty?”

“Um, twenty-six, twenty-seven if you include Earth,” Daniel answered.

“And what good is it if the Asgard aren't actually available to protect anything?”

Daniel explained, “At one time they were.  More recently, we've been trading on the threat, kind of a ... big bluff.”

“Well, Ba'al is about to call the bluff.”

“Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about that.  Earth is safe so long as the Goa'uld think we can defend ourselves.”

“But that's a bluff, too.”

“Yeah, more or less.”

Weir reflected, “When I was a kid, my dad used to have these weekly poker games.  All I remember is smoke making my eyes water.  I'm starting to wish I'd paid more attention.”

“I'm sure you've misrepresented the truth before in negotiations.”

“Actually, no, my job has usually been to get people to recognize the truth.”

“Well, if they even get a hint of the fact that we can't use the Ancient weapons to defend ourselves, trust me, this game ... is over.”  Daniel paused before asking, “Too dramatic?”

“At this point, not for me.”

Daniel looked out the window and sighed, “They aren't happy with our food.”

“They should have brought their own,” Weir responded as she stood and returned to the meeting.

Weir ushered out the best of her negotiating skills and oozed with as much confidence as she could as she attempted to bluff the Goa'uld.  The visitors maintained their need for the new weapon and offered to give Earth hyperdrive engines in return Weir's response was cool.

The System Lords couldn't believe Earth wasn't jumping at the chance to obtain the hyperdrives.  They asked how the offer could be refused.

“Because we're not about to fight your battles for you in exchange for a couple of hyperdrive engines that may or may not do us any good in the long run, and especially since we already have that technology at our disposal.”

~Oh, that's good,~ Daniel opined silently while trying to maintain a blank face.

Surprised, Camulus asked, “You have viable hyperdrive technology?”

“Yes, we do, and with the help of the Asgard, we are in the process of implementing it right now, so, thank you very much,” Weir spoke as she stood.

~Are they gonna buy this?~ Daniel wondered.  ~We sure didn't act like we had hyperdrive capabilities when the Goa'uld first mentioned it, but they aren't the smartest beings in the universe, so maybe they won't put it together.~

The Goa'uld continued the discussion, so Weir sat back down.  However, the visitors ended up threatening to tell Ba'al that the new weapon was temporarily out of commission.

“Oh, come on!  Ba'al would never fall for that.  He knows how desperate you are. I think he might find this information a little bit convenient,” Daniel replied with incredulity.  ~He might have a little more on the ball, this Ba'al, then the others.~

Daniel was shocked when Weir took things a step further, agreeing to the deal, but only if Earth gained control of Ba'al's territory and possessions.

Extremely surprised by the demand, Daniel's mind snarked, ~Okay, let's add a new state to the flag, the state of Ba'al, located by Stargate only.  It'll be a winner, on the Sci-Fi channel, or maybe Showtime.~

“You cannot be serious,” Amaterasu responded.

Weir countered, “If we're going to be the ones who destroy Ba'al for you, why should we settle for anything less?”

Another break occurred as the Goa'uld stated they need to send a message to the other System Lords.  Again, the interruption allowed Weir to speak with Daniel.

“I guess you did learn something from your father's poker games,” Daniel remarked.  ~Win, or go home with a big boom.  Bye, bye Earth.~

“Always bet big when bluffing?”

“I just didn't know you were looking to become a System Lord.”

“I just had to do something to keep them talking.  I mean, it looked like they were going to try to draw Ba'al here no matter what we said.”

“Well, you can be pretty sure that they're not gonna agree to our terms,” Daniel stated.  ~But, nice try.  I guess I might have done the same thing.  A cliché for Jack: desperate times call for desperate measures.~

“I know.”  The woman sat down at her desk and sighed.  “We may have to revive Colonel O'Neill.”

~Okay, forget that temporary good thought I just gave her.~  Slouched in his chair, an astonished Daniel sat up straight and leaned toward her as he uttered in disdain, “What?”

“If they suspect we're bluffing, they'll come here and take the weapon for themselves.  If they don't, they'll trick Ba'al into coming.  Either way, we may actually have to use that weapon again to defend this planet.”

“We don't even know if there's enough power to fire another shot.”

“I know.”

“If you try to revive Jack without the Asgard standing by, it'll kill him.  In fact, he'll probably die before he can do anything to help us,” Daniel spoke as his upset grew.  ~She's going to kill him.~

At that point, Sergeant Davis knocked on the door and, holding a USB drive in his hand, stated, “Doctor Weir.  It's a copy of the message the Goa'uld sent back to the System Lords.  It's coded.”

Immediately, Weir held the drive out toward Daniel and stated, “We need to know what they're thinking.”

~Figure it out yourself,~ Daniel thought, though he knew he couldn't say that.  He reminded himself again that Earth was at stake.  It was more than his lover.  ~But I won't let you kill him.  I don't know how, but I will.~  Responding to his morality, Daniel snatched the thumb drive and exited the office in a bit of a huff.  ~I need coffee, lots of it.~

It didn't take Daniel long to complete the translation, but before he could take it to Weir, she showed up in his office.

“It's basically a confirmation of what we suspected.  They think we're bluffing, but they have no way of confirming their suspicions so they're not sure what to do,” Daniel stated.

As the two discussed the situation further, the klaxons went off and the warning of an unscheduled off-world activation was heard.  It was a response to the message the visitors sent earlier.

Having been given the message, Camulus told Weir that they were being recalled immediately.  Without hesitation, the four went to the gate room and waited for the Stargate to lock in on their destination.

~I think there's something more going on here.~  Daniel went to the control room and told Davis, “I need to see the most recent message they received.”  As he read the message displayed on the monitor, he became alarmed.  “Shut it down.”

“What?” Davis responded.

~Too slow; can't take the chance on them getting through.~  With Davis' hesitancy obvious, Daniel hurried behind the man's chair and hit the button to shut down the Stargate himself.  He walked swiftly to the gate room and called out to Weir.  “The second message.  They've been recalled because the System Lords have decided to test our defenses.  They're sending a ship to attack Earth.  It'll be here within the hour.”

Weir ordered the System Lords to be taken as prisoners and all four were detained in separate cells, separated from one another.

====

Meanwhile, Sam and Teal'c successfully made it to their destination, but as expected, the engines expired, stranding the teammates.  That turned out to be the least of their problems when they began to be pulled into a black hole that was where Hala used to be.  Though Sam tried to get the cargo ship free of the black hole, a hull breach occurred.  They were on the brink of destruction when the two, along with some crates full of weapons, were beamed away and onto Thor's brand new ship, Daniel Jackson.

The Asgard leader told Sam and Teal'c that he could not leave the sector until his mission was over; then he would gladly return to Earth and assist them.  He explained he did not receive any of Earth's messages, probably due to time-space distortions caused by the black hole interfering with long-range communications.  He explained the Asgard's expectation for the time-dilation device was that it would work for only two years.  Knowing this, they developed a plan to collapse Hala's sun by artificially increasing its gravitational field, thus creating the black hole.  While Hala already broke up, there were quite a few Replicator blocks that were still drifting towards the hole's event horizon.

Thor barely finished explaining the situation when he noticed the blocks were moving away from the event horizon.  Thor deduced the Replicators had the time-dilation device and were using it to counteract the gravitational effects.  Apparently, the Replicator blocks joined together into one mass to form a vessel that was heading for Thor's ship.

Naturally, Sam and Teal'c directed their attentions to assisting Thor.  They selected weapons and went in search of Replicators aboard Daniel Jackson.  While Teal'c was able to take out every foe he found, a bad turn occurred when Sam was beamed off the ship.

Thor went in pursuit of the Replicator ship, jumping to hyperspace as he did so.  As he studied his screens, he made a horrible discovery.

“Before you destroyed them, the Replicators managed to access the ship's computer.  They learned the location of Orilla, the planet where we are attempting to rebuild the Asgard civilization.  I assumed it would be their first target.”  He further explicated, “Orilla is rich in neutronium, which is a key element in Asgard technology.  It is also essential for the creation of human-form Replicators.”

Later, Thor gave Teal'c more disturbing news.

“My ship's weapons will not function in hyperspace, much like the shields. However, in close proximity, the self-destruct may be sufficient to eliminate both ships.  I am sorry, but we have no choice.  If the human-form Replicators reach Orilla, they will have the resources to replicate many thousands of times.  We cannot allow that to happen.”

Teal'c's response came from his perspective as a warrior.

“So be it.”

However, Thor's plan went awry when he realized a Replicator was still aboard and messing with his controls.  Again, Teal'c sought out the enemy and destroyed it.  However, the disruption allowed the Replicator ship to get out of Thor's reach.  Thor sent a warning to Orilla and the Asgard planned to lay in wait for their foe.  Hopefully, they would be able to defeat their enemy before the Replicators could raise their shields after it dropped out of hyperspace.

Soon, Thor was contacted by fellow commanders who reported they were successful in fighting the Replicators.  The ship, full of Replicators and presumably Fifth and Sam, was destroyed.

“I am sorry, Teal'c,” Thor expressed solemnly.  “Major Carter was a true friend to the Asgard.”

Teal'c simply bowed his head in response and began to mourn Sam from within.

Just as Thor believed the new Asgard homeworld was safe, Penegal of the Asgard High Council contacted him and gave him tragic news.

“I regret to report that the debris from the destroyed Replicator ship could not be contained.  We were unable to prevent countless Replicator blocks from raining down on Orilla.  They have already begun replicating and infesting our systems. Control of the city is in jeopardy.”

It was looking dark for the friends of the Tau'ri as Thor explained to Teal'c why evacuation was no longer viable.

“There are too many.  We carried numerous stored minds aboard the computers of our ships when we fled our homeworld.  When Orilla was finally found, we were able to place those minds into cloned bodies so that we could build our new colony.”

Penegal added, “The Replicators have already infected systems needed to save those minds.  If we lose this battle, they will perish, along with their bodies, taking with them the hopes of the Asgard race.”

“Orilla is the last chance of ever rebuilding our empire,” Thor stated.

Unwilling to watch the Asgard race die, Teal'c spoke with determination, “Then we must find a way to save it.”

====

In space, the Prometheus orbited Earth under the command of Colonel Pendergast, who became concerned when an unknown vessel approached.

When it was close enough to make contact, the commander opened a channel and advised, “This is Colonel Lionel Pendergast of the United States Air Force Prometheus.  Unidentified vessel, failure to reply will constitute an act of aggression, and we will respond with the full force of our weapons.”

The viewscreen received a transmission and within seconds, Teal'c appeared and replied, “That will be unnecessary.”  He explained, “I have brought greetings from Thor, the Supreme Commander of the Asgard fleet.  We are aboard the Daniel Jackson.”

====

Elsewhere, Sam found herself on the Replicator ship after being beamed off Thor's new ship without her consent.  Worse, Fifth was there.  He was the only survivor of his human-form group.  SG-1 once betrayed Fifth, and Sam was the one who performed the lie.  She convinced Fifth to help SG-1 escape with the promise he could go with them.  Jack had other ideas, and while Sam was against the betrayal, she did as ordered, leaving Fifth to suffer the same fate as his family once the time-dilation was activated.  Now, Fifth wanted revenge.

Sam was instantly afraid and unable to fight Fifth, who inserted his hand into her mind to learn all he could about the major.  It was a painful, torturous examination that had Sam on her knees, crying out in pain and pleading with her captor to listen to his human side and free her.

Fifth devised a plan, creating a fantasy of sorts where Sam was happily married to her beau, Pete Shanahan, and had left behind the astrophysical world and the Stargate Program.  She had long hair and lived on a farm in Montana.  Sam knew it was nothing but a weird type of role play.  Deep inside, she loved the thought of being with Pete, but she wanted it to be real, not a pretend projection created to fulfill Fifth's desires.

Whenever Fifth showed himself, Sam argued and tried her best to get through to him.  He was full of ire, though.  She'd hurt him, and all he knew to do was to hurt her in return.

Finally, as Sam continued to fight the charade with the image of Pete, the image dissolved into Fifth, who admitted he was in love with her.  He wanted to live a life with her in the fantasy, but Sam said she could never be happy in an illusion.

Coldly, Fifth told Sam that she would always be unhappy.  If she wasn't participating in his fantasy, she would be encased on his ship in a wall of Replicators with no life at all to live.

====

With a new plan in mind, Weir ordered the Goa'uld returned to the briefing room.

With great confidence, Weir entered and announced, “I have just received word that the Asgard have arrived.  They want to witness the demonstration of our new Ancient defense technology that you have forced us into.  There's still time to call off the attack.”

Amaterasu replied, “We would also like to witness the demonstration.”

Daniel walked in and dramatically informed the Goa'uld, “Your ship isn't coming.  It was destroyed en route by Ba'al.  The collective forces of the System Lords are bowing, and you're losing the war.”

“And so are you,” Yu challenged.

Without warning, a bright light engulfed Daniel and he was beamed away.  When the light disappeared, the archaeologist looked around and saw he was on a spaceship.  He quickly caught sight of Thor and Teal'c.

~I'm so glad to be out of there and away from her,~ a pleased Daniel reflected.  ~Now we can save Jack.~  Happily, he greeted, “Hey, guys!”

There was no time for merriment as Thor informed the newcomer, “Our new colony is in grave jeopardy.  The Replicators escaped from the time-dilation device and are threatening to destroy the Asgard.”

“Okay, so what can we do?”

“Thor believes the Ancient knowledge stored in O'Neill's mind may be the key to defeating the Replicators once and for all,” Teal'c answered.

“Jack's frozen down in Antarc...”  Out of the blue, a beam of light appeared, as did Jack, still in the stasis chamber.  “...tica.”  Daniel walked over to the chamber and looked at his husband.  ~Gawd, I was beginning to wonder if I'd see you again.  You look so good.~  He took a breath and looked at the other two.  “As I was saying, where's Sam?”

“She was captured by the Replicators. The ship was destroyed.”

For a moment, Daniel couldn't say a thing.  He was hopeful Thor was about to bring Jack back to him, but to lose Sam now was unimaginable.

“I don't understand.”

For the next couple of minutes, Thor and Teal'c both explained to Daniel what happened, from the moment of the hull breach to when they'd decided to beam Daniel up, knowing they needed his help and that he would want to be there.  Mourning would have to wait.

As Thor walked to the chamber, Daniel asked, “What are you going to do?”

“I am going to merge O'Neill's mind with the ship's computer.”

“To do that you're going to have to defrost him first, right?  I bring this up because he was near death when we froze him.”  Feeling uncertain, Daniel wondered, ~I don't get it.  I've been waiting for you to save Jack, not kill him.~

“Hopefully, the pod will sustain his life.”

“Hopefully?”

“What other choice do we have?”

“Well, can't you just save him, like the last time this happened, just wipe the Ancient knowledge from his mind,” Daniel questioned.  ~Come on, Thor, this is what we've all been wanting, for you to revive Jack and zap that knowledge away so he can live.~

“And lose any chance of learning a means to defeat the Replicators.”

“You have no right to risk his life.”

Teal'c opined, “I believe O'Neill would approve.”

~Shut up, Teal'c,~ Daniel shouted within his soul.  ~Why do you always do that Jaffa warrior-slash-revenge thing?  I need him.  Just ... be quiet, okay.~  He pleaded with Thor.  “We can't make that choice for him no matter what's at stake. Can't you just extract the Ancient information into the ship's computer?  Then we can all benefit from it, maybe even learn how to use the Ancient weapons on Earth.”

“You cannot even begin to comprehend the extent of what was unfolding in O'Neill's mind.  Our scientists long ago extracted parts of the Ancient Library of Knowledge and learned much from it, but we have been studying it for as long as I can remember and we have barely scratched the surface.”

“So it would be looking for a needle in a haystack.”

“A haystack of infinite size.”

“That's big.”  Daniel sighed, lamenting the options.  ~What do I do?  I don't know that I could stop Thor, or should I even try?  Jack, I don't know what to do.  The Asgard have a right to fight for their survival, just like we do, but ... Jack.~

“I am hoping O'Neill's conscious mind can provide us with a direct conduit to the information we need,” the Asgard stated.  Thor worked his controls as he attempted to follow through with his intentions.  When he was finished, he admitted, “He is not well.”

“I told you.”

“The process of interfacing his mind is complex.”

All of a sudden, Jack spoke, but his lips weren't moving and his voice was like surround sound, heard throughout the vessel.

“Hello.  Testing, testing.  One, two, one, two, one, two, testing.  Hellooo.  Is this thing on?”

~I hear his voice.  Gawd, his wonderful voice.~  Daniel went to the stasis chamber and called out, “Jack?”

“O'Neill, can you hear us?” Thor asked.

“Hey!  Hey, guys.  What's going on?” the colonel questioned.  ~Something really odd is going on here.~

“Your mind has been interfaced with the Daniel Jackson,” Thor stated.

“What?” Jack asked.

With an odd and confused expression, Daniel also queried, “What?”

Teal'c explained, “The name of Thor's ship is Daniel Jackson.”

~Huh?~  Daniel responded in his head.  ~I'm a ship?~

Thor told Jack, “All the information in the ship's computer is available to you.”

“Ah, right, here we go.  Oh, this is cool.  I can pretty much do anything I want, can't I?” Jack mused as he began to turn the lights on and off until Thor chastised him.

“If you wish, you may appear to us as a hologram,” Thor stated, only Jack already figured that out and was in the processing of appearing before the Asgard even finished his sentence.

“Dang!” Jack exclaimed.

“You okay?” Daniel asked.

“It's a little weird, but, yeah, I'm okay.”

“At least you're not speaking Ancient.”

“There's that.”

“Actually, the computer is translating,” Thor explained.

“Ah,” Daniel expressed in comprehension.  ~Even as a hologram, he's sexy as can be.~

Hologram Jack walked to chamber, stared at himself for a few seconds, and opined, “I've never looked better.”

~Amen to that,~ Daniel agreed silently.

“There is not much time, O'Neill.”

“Thor's planet ...” Teal'c began.

“I know,” Jack interrupted.  “Ship's log.”

“Can you help with the Replicators?” the small alien questioned.

“Already on it.”

“Jack,” Daniel spoke.

“Daniel, the computer recorded the whole conversation.  Thanks for your concern,” Jack responded.  **Does this work when I'm a hologram?  Danny?**  Knowing time was short to help the Asgard, Jack realized he had to focus on saving the little gray butts.  Still, he regretted that he couldn't speak his true feelings to his husband.  ~Soon, though.~  He waved his hand to the three and jested, “Talk amongst yourselves,” before disappearing.

====

On Earth, the decision was made to free the System Lords so that they could fight Ba'al on their own.  When the Goa'uld were told about this, Camulus surprised Weir when he requested asylum.

“My fleet was destroyed before I came here, of the many, the first to fall.  I have nothing left with which to fight.  The only thing waiting for me through the Stargate is shame and torture, so it is not true that I would be more useful to you out there.  Perhaps I could be of some use to you here.”

Soon thereafter, Camulus was given the asylum he requested, which angered the other Goa'uld.  As the evil visitors were about to leave Earth through the Stargate, Amaterasu gave Weir a warning to pass on to the defector.

“Make sure Camulus knows he will forever be branded a traitor and a coward.”

====

Aboard his ship, Thor realized Jack was building something virtually with the computer.  He was also concerned about his Tau'ri friend.

“I do not know how much longer his life can be sustained,” Thor stated as an alarm sounded.

“Jack, can you hear me?” Daniel called out.

“I must revive him now.”

Jack shouted out, “Wait!  Not yet.”

~Don't wait, Thor.  Don't let him die,~ Daniel's heart begged.

Thor cared about Jack and he could not sacrifice him, not even for a device that might save his people.  He scanned the man in stasis and then opened the chambered, reviving the human.

Putting his hands to his head, Jack moaned, “Oy!  What a headache.”

~He's alive; he's really alive.~  Slowly, Daniel bent down and urged, “Take it easy.  You've been through a lot.”

“What now?” Jack asked.  ~Danny?  Geez, you look good.  What in Netu is going on now?~

“What's the last thing you remember?” Thor inquired.

“Getting my head sucked by one of those dang Ancient head suckers,” Jack answered.  He felt his Love's hands on him, assisting him in sitting up.  “And something about twins.”

**Gawd, Jack, do you have to do that now?**

**Sorry, Angel, but it's what I do, especially when I have no idea where I am or why I'm here and what the heck is going on and ...*  Jack paused as he observed his alien teammate.  “Teal'c, what's with the hair?”

“O'Neill,” Thor stated.

“Thor.  You got aspirin?”

Thor responded, “You should feel better momentarily and your memory will slowly return.”

Jack grimaced and then repeated his last state, “Teal'c, what's with the hair?”

**Jack!**

**Just trying to have some fun, Danny.**

**Have fun later.  We're in crisis here.**

**That's when I do some of my best bits.**

**Well, save your bits for later.**

Unaware he was interrupting private banter between the lovers, Thor noted, “The specifications for the device you created remain in the computer.  I believe I can synthesis it.”

When an object appeared on a nearby pedestal, Jack reacted with a pleased, “Sweet.  What is it?”

“We don't know, but you made it,” Daniel told his colonel.

“No.”

“Yes.”

After a brief reflection, Jack insisted, “No.”

Daniel maintained, “Yes.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

**I'm back!** Jack mused happily.

**It feels good, and, yes, you did build it.**

**But I don't remember.**

**But you remember twins.**

**Teasing,** Jack refuted.

**Maybe.**

**Angel.**

**Later.**

**But I love you,** Jack avowed.

**Jack, focus.**

Thor told Jack, “You accessed the Ancient knowledge in your mind and instructed the ship's computer to design it.”

“Doesn't mean I know what it is,” Jack replied.  ~And I don't; not a clue.~

“It was doubtful at best that he would remember.  The knowledge of the Ancients is gone,” Thor lamented, fearing his race was doomed.

Jack spoke, “All right.  Let me have a look.”  He got out of the chamber, but his legs gave way.  Again, he felt Daniel's hands on him, which made him feel more alive.  Teal'c also assisted in supporting him.  “Ah, got legs.  Wow!”  He walked over and stared at the device.  He touched it with his finger and said, “All right, I've got it; I've got it.”  He knew the others were waiting for his knowledge, but he had to speak the truth.  “Yeah.  I got nothing.”

Thor and his helpers continued to study the device Jack built, but no one knew what it was.  Penegal contacted Thor and reported that the Replicators infesting the colony were acting in an organized manner.  It was possible a human-form Replicator survived.

This gave Daniel hope about Sam, so he asked, “If a human-form Replicator survived, it's possible Sam survived, too, isn't it?”

“It is also possible the old-version Replicators created a new human form to lead them as before,” Thor responded.

“Yeah, but there's a chance.  Can you scan the planet for life signs?”

Penegal advised, “We already have.  There are none,” but then the transmission broke up and Thor was unable to restore communication.

Even so, Daniel now believed Sam was alive.  He felt it, or maybe he just wanted to believe.  Whatever it was, he wasn't going to accept Sam's apparent death without proof.

Later, Thor received another message, this one from Aegir of the Valhalla who advised, “We have lost contact with the colony.”  He went on the inform, “We have located what appears to be the remains of a human-form Replicator floating in space.  It obviously survived the destruction of its ship.  By all appearances, it is currently inactive.”

Once Thor received the coordinates, he transported the human-form Replicator to his ship and inside the stasis pod Jack had occupied in the hopes of learning the location of the human-form controlling the Replicators on the planet.

“Anybody recognize him?” Daniel asked.

“No,” Teal'c answered.

Placing his hands on the glass cover of the pod, Jack asked, “Is it dead?”

“Hopefully, not completely,” Thor answered.

The response prompted Jack to quickly remove his hands from the pod and move back to stand near Daniel.

**And you're always getting on my case because I touch things,** Daniel chastised lovingly.

Jack shrugged lightly, but did not respond in any other way.

“All Replicators are linked by a sophisticated communication system.  If we can use this one to tap into the network, we will be able to see what any of the Replicators can see,” Thor stated.

“And if he wakes up, is this pod going to hold him?” Jack questioned.

“Probably not.”

In response, Teal'c walked away to retrieve a weapon while Jack replied, “Then perhaps there is no great wisdom in this.”

“I will transport it back into space if necessary, but we must take the risk,” Thor put forth.

Jack noticed Teal readying his weapon and said, “Good.”  He tapped his lover on the arm and then hurried over to the crate and pulled out two P-90 guns.  He returned to Daniel and handed him one of the weapons.  Both prepared for the worst.  Then they noted white lines on the viewscreen.

“What's that?” Daniel asked.

“Replicator communication data,” the Asgard answered.  “I am searching for any references to other human-forms.”

~What is that?~ Daniel wondered as he looked at the viewscreen.  ~It looks ... is it her?~

“Zoom in,” Jack instructed.

~It is her.~  Daniel spoke, “Sam.”

“Can you pinpoint her location?” Jack asked as the viewscreen displayed a wooded area.

“She is within a small Replicator structure on the planet.  It is some distance outside the colony, near a rich vein of neutronium.”

“They must be using it to create more human Replicators,” Teal'c surmised.

“I thought the ship was destroyed,” the colonel stated.

“At least one of the human Replicators must have separated from the main ship with Major Carter prior to exiting hyperspace,” Thor suggested.

The human-form Replicator on Daniel Jackson awoke and stared at the group. Thor attempted to beam it into space, but was unsuccessful.  When the Replicator freed itself, a firefight began.  At one point, the Replicator tossed Teal'c aside like a piece of tissue paper.  Every time SG-1 fired, holes appeared in the mechanical foe, but were repaired almost instantly.  Then the human-form Replicator picked up a P-90 and aimed it at Daniel.

~Oh, no you don't~ Jack yelled in his mind.  As Daniel flung himself to the side to avoid being shot, Jack picked up the device he'd created while still carrying the knowledge of the Ancients and fired, causing the Replicator to disintegrate into small pieces.  “Had to do something.”

Thor stated, “It seems to have permanently disrupted all communication between the individual cells, rendering each one inert.  We explored such a technology in the past with no success.”

“Great.  Does that mean we can use this thing to whack the rest of those bugs?” Jack queried.

“Even better, O'Neill.”  Activating a device on the viewscreen, Thor postulated, “Now that I have seen what the device does, I may be able to modify a larger version to broadcast a disruption wave over all of Orilla.”

While Thor worked on his project, SG-1 transported to the planet to a location close to Replicator ship.  A communication device was given to the colonel so they could stay in touch with Thor.

On Orilla, Jack, using the weapon he'd created, opened fire on the hundreds of Replicators, as did Daniel and Teal'c with their P-90s.

Suddenly, Fifth appeared and shouted, “Stop!  If you harm me or anymore of my brethren, I assure you, Major Carter will die instantly,” before disappearing.

**So Sam is definitely alive, Jack,** Daniel communicated.

**And she's close by.**

Thor contacted Jack and advised, “O'Neill, I have successfully modified my ship to emit a massive destruction wave.”

“Exxxcellent,” Jack responded as he mimicked his favorite TV show.  “I knew you could do it.”

“The weapon is fifty-percent charged.  If this works, you will have saved the Asgard once again.”

“I'm real happy for you.  I'm extremely proud, but we've got a little bit of a problem down here.  Fifth detected our approach and he claims he can kill Carter, instantly.”

“O'Neill,” Thor began.

Interrupting, Jack asserted, “Hey, I know what you're going to say.  Her life was already sacrificed and you've got your whole planet to worry about ...”

Daniel called out, “Jack.”

“... but I've got problems, too.  Hang on a second.”  Jack asked his lover, “What?”

Daniel didn't need to say anything as the team could easily hear the sounds of approaching Replicators.

“This could be very bad,” Daniel warned as instead of hundreds of Replicators, he sensed the sound indicated thousands were coming towards him.

The archaeologist was right.  Thousands of Replicators of all shapes and sizes headed for the teammates, but instead of attacking them, they moved past them.  When Jack told Thor what was happening, the Asgard called out for SG-1 to follow and not allow the Replicators to escape.

====

In Fifth's illusion at the farmhouse, he could feel his brethren being killed.  At the same time, Sam was again pleading with him to let her go.  He told her that had to leave because of the weapon, and he told her it was Jack who was to blame.

~He's alive and free?~  Sam rejoiced and continued to fight for her freedom.  “I would rather be dead than be trapped like this forever.  No matter what you feel for me, I will never love you back.  Kill me if you want, but if you have even one shred of humanity in you and you really, truly love me, you'll let me go.”

Fifth looked away with watery eyes.  It was another sign of his human half.  He looked back at Sam and stared at her.

“You don't love me.”

“No, I'm sorry.”

“Love is very powerful.”

“It can be overwhelming,” Sam replied.

“It is how you feel about ... him.”

Sam was taken aback and unsure how to respond.

“I saw it in your mind, but I wanted you to love me.”  Fifth turned and walked away a few steps.  “When I realized the lie you'd told, I believed you must have loved him since you lied for him.  You love him, but you are not *in* love with him.”

“Fifth ...”

“You are in love with ... this Pete.  That is why I chose to be like him.  If I were him, you would love me.”

“But you're not Pete, Fifth.  I'm sorry, so sorry I lied to you, but Colonel O'Neill is my commanding officer.  When he gives an order, I have to follow it.”

“You love him, too, but different.”

Sam was extremely uncomfortable with the conversation.  She tended to keep her private feelings just that, private.

The blonde walked forward, keeping her pace casual, and responded, “Fifth, humans love a lot of people, in a lot of different ways, but it has to be real.  This isn't real and I will never pretend that it is.  Please, let me go.”

“I must go to my brethren.  They are trying to kill them.”

Sam couldn't react as the dream-like reality vanished and her mind went blank.

====

The Daniel Jackson flew over the planet just after the Replicator ship took off.  While it was too late to stop the vessel, Thor was able to activate the enhanced version of the weapon Jack created.  He waited anxiously for the results.

“O'Neill, the weapon worked,” Thor stated.  “Reports from the colony say all the remaining Replicators have been neutralized.  While the ship did escape, at least we have an effective means of fighting them now.”

“Yeah, well, at least there's that.”

“O'Neill. I am detecting a fourth life sign in your immediate vicinity.”

Almost immediately, Daniel knew what that meant and shouted, “Sam!  Sam!”

The three teammates searched the area for Sam until Teal'c came upon her, safe and unharmed.  Teal'c helped the major to sit up.

“You okay?” Jack asked.

“Glad to see you, Sir.”

“Likewise.”

“What happened?” Sam questioned as she returned to her feet.

“It's a very long story,” Daniel answered.  “I'm glad you're safe.”

“Me, too.”

“Thor, how about ...”

Before Jack could finish his sentence, the team was beamed back aboard Daniel Jackson.

“Thanks, buddy,” Jack said.  “Now about the name of this ship.”

“We are in your debt, O'Neill,” Thor replied.  “We owe SG-1 for saving our race, many times over.  Your ship was our way to honor you and Earth.”

“Yeah, and you blew her up.”

“It was Major Carter's suggestion.”

“Yes,” Jack droned unhappily.

“We didn't have a choice, Sir,” Sam reminded.

“Of course not,” the colonel acknowledged dryly.

“You really didn't need to name a ship after me,” Daniel stated shyly.

“The Asgard wish to show our appreciation to Earth.”

“Thank you, on behalf of Earth, of course,” Daniel acknowledged with a bashful smile.

“Congrats, Daniel,” Sam spoke with a grin as she nudged her friend with a gentle tap of her elbow to his arm.

Thor focused on his computer screens as he continued to get updates from Orilla and other surviving Asgard vessels.

“Good news?” Jack prompted after watching the Asgard for a couple of minutes.

“Yes.  All is well on Orilla.  We are searching for survivors from our ships.”  Thor looked up at the flagship team.  His world was saved and it was all because of SG-1.  “We are grateful.  You, Colonel O'Neill, created the device that allowed us to rid our new world of the Replicators.  We will use it to keep our planet safe in the future.”

“It was nothing,” Jack responded.  “I could have done in my sleep; in fact, I kinda did.”

“Doctor Jackson ...”

“I'm not sure I did anything, Thor.”

“You are wrong.  I named this ship after you as a tribute to the strength in character that you possess and your scientific expertise.  The Asgard are grateful for all you've done in the fight against the Goa'uld and the Replicators.”

“You're welcome.”

“Teal'c, the Asgard thank you.  You are a superior warrior and, my personal thanks, for your perseverance.  From your example, I have learned to never give up.”

Teal'c bowed his head in appreciation of the compliment.

“And you, Major Carter, your mind is brilliant.  You have taught us that less intelligence is sometimes smarter.”

Sam lowered her head and glanced at Jack, who simply shrugged in a “what can you do” fashion.

“SG-1, the Asgard are once again in your debt.”

“Remember that the next time we call,” Jack teased.  More seriously, he put forth, “Thor, you saved my hide again.  Let's call it even.”

Thor nodded and just before initiating the transport beam said, “Until we meet again.”

“Goodbye,” Sam called out as the beam faded.

The next thing the team knew, they were back at Stargate Command, standing together in the briefing room.

“Wow, cool,” Jack expressed at being back on Earth.

Emerging from her office, Weir smiled and greeted, “Colonel O'Neill.”

Jack stared at the woman and then glanced at Sam.  His head jutted back at the base commander.

“Weren't you ... lighter when I left?”

“Jack,” Daniel chastised as an aside.

“What?  She was blonde.  Wasn't she blonde?”  Jack stood up straighter and insisted, “You were blonde.”

“Yes, Colonel, I was a blonde.”

“And now you're not.”  Jack looked over at Teal'c and asked, “What's with the hair?”

“Do you wish to be bald, O'Neill?”

“No.”  Jack waited for the Jaffa to continue speaking.  When he realized Teal'c wasn't going to say anything more, he sighed, “Oh.”

“Well, I'm glad you're back, all of you.  I suggest you go to the infirmary to be examined and then we can debrief.”

“So, uh, aren't you going to ask about the cargo ship?” Daniel queried.  “You were ... very concerned about it before.  It, uh, was ... valuable, more valuable than Jack's life.”

Jack frowned as he thought, ~Snarky, very snarky.  What's up with that?”

“Okay, I deserve that, but I acted in the best interest of this country, based on the mandates directed at me.”

“Kinsey!” Jack assumed.

“Actually, Jack, uh, he's ... out of the picture.”

“Out?”

“He resigned,” Daniel told his soulmate.

“He'd never do that.”

“Oh, but he did, Colonel,” Weir affirmed.  “Infirmary, now; the debriefing will begin in forty-five minutes.”

As Weir returned to her office, Jack surmised, “I've missed a lot.”

“Yes, you have, Sir,” Sam confirmed.

As the team started walking, Daniel inquired, “Sam, what happened to you?  I mean, you were with the Replicators?”

“The numbered dude ... Fifth,” Jack recalled, proud that he remembered the correct number.

“Yes.  Fifth was angry about what happened before, but I convinced him to let me go.”

“Reader's Digest version?” Jack asked.

“That was pretty much it, Colonel,” Sam replied in a guarded tone of voice.

**Danny, she's doing the 'I'm fine' thing, right?** Jack asked.

**I think so.  Let's give her some time, Jack.  She'll tell us, if we need to know.**
 
With that, SG-1 submitted their bodies to the torture known with affection as Little Napoleon.  Once Janet and her staff completed their exams, which were longer than the normal post-mission reviews, the team met Weir for the debriefing before going home.

The teammates were given two days of downtime and ordered to report back for the duty on the ninth.  However, both Jack and Sam were instructed to report to the infirmary on the afternoon of the eighth for additional testing to ensure neither one showed any signs of aftereffects resulting from their individual ordeals.  Janet absolutely insisted on the more detailed examinations, especially for the colonel.  In fact, she was bringing in experts in various fields to consult with about Jack's situation.  She was taking no chances with the leader of the flagship team or with his 2IC.

====

“Home, here we come,” Jack singsonged as he and Daniel were heading for the elevator to go up to the exit.

As the two walked, a Marine was coming towards them.  All of a sudden, the man hesitated.  He stared at Daniel and then made an abrupt about face and returned in the direction he'd just traveled.

“Was that Jillson?”

“Uh, I think so.”

“What was that about?” Jack asked.

“It's a long story, sort of.  I'll tell you later,” Daniel sighed.

“Daniel, have you been beating up on the Marines?”

“Well, you weren't here to do it, so ...”

Jack and Daniel shared a smile.  The colonel was certain there was a story to be heard, but his lover was safe enough at the moment and without any visible signs of serious harm, so he was confident that whatever happened, Daniel was the victor, especially considering the Marine's reaction upon catching sight of the archaeologist.

“I can't wait to hear the story.”

“Okay, well, I was angry and I guess it was festering because I could feel how tense I was.  Actually, it was a case of bad timing, too, for them, not me.  They always assume I won't fight back.  Anyway, as I said, I was mad ...”

The colonel listened with a combination of curiosity and pride to his soulmate's tale as they headed for the parking area and even during the drive home.  He was inwardly pleased with how things went and he could tell Daniel was only slightly sorry and that was more from principle than the specifics of the event.

~That Marine is so outta here,~ Jack thought, though he couldn't say anything yet because Daniel was still talking and that was fine with the older man.  Daniel's voice was a treasure and how he cherished it.  ~Keep talking, Danny.  Your voice is the music to my soul.~

====

“Colonel, you're back,” Christa Svenson called out from across the street.

“Yes, Ma'am, and it's good to be home.”

“Those beagles will be glad to see you.  They've been so depressed while you've been gone.”

“I'm sorry to hear that, but we're gonna go take care of that now,” Jack promised.

“Careful where you step.”

“How's that?”

“They haven't had any exercise, Jack.  Those two lovely creatures have barely left your entranceway.  I'm sure they're watching.”

“Jack!”

“Ma'am, thank you for your help with Bijou and Katie.  If you'll excuse us.”

Christa watched as Jack and Daniel hurried to their door and walked inside.  She knew all about their relationship and while she had no clue why the colonel had been gone, she was happy to see him home again, and with Daniel.

“I'mmmmmm back!” Jack singsonged with a grin as he unlocked the door.

Sure enough, Bijou and Katie were at the entryway, a position they'd kept most of the time whenever Daniel was gone.

Jack sat down on the floor of the entryway, as did his husband, and let the girls express their love in all kinds of excited ways.  Tails wagged, small and frequent woofs and happy grunts were expressed, loving kisses wet human faces, and there was a lot of jumping and running around until finally, each man had an armful of joyful beagle.

“Geez, I missed you two,” Jack told the girls as he bent forward and kissed the top of Bijou's head.

“I'm sorry I had to leave you alone so much,” Daniel told the beagles as his chin rubbed against Katie's floppy left ear.  “I wasn't here very much, Jack.  I wanted to be, but I had to ... you know.”

“Yeah, I do, and I think they do, too.”  Jack grinned and put forth, “We need to do something special, and I think I know just the thing.”

“What?”

“A trip for the entire family, you, me, and the girls.  We can't do it right now, but maybe during the summer.  It'll make up for all this mess.”  Jack's left hand continued to pat Bijou and at the same time, he reached over and flexed his fingers under Katie's chin.  “How 'bout it, girls?  What do you say we plan a little family vacation for a couple of months from now, somewhere quiet, where we can play?  Sound good?”

“Wooooof! were the two identical, happy, and smiling responses.

“What about you, Angel?”

“I can't wait, especially for the quiet part.” Daniel sighed contentedly as he let the peacefulness and joy of being with Jack and the beagles set in.  “Where should we go?”

“We have time to research.  I'll ask around, too.”

“Me, too.”  After a moment, Daniel sighed, “I don't want to move.”

“So let's not.”

The reunited family of humans and canines opted to continue their love fest in the entryway of their home for another half hour.  It was a special time that allowed them all to simply soak up their happiness.

====

Normally, the lovers would be expressing their need and desire for the other in bed, something both were anxious to do.  At the same time, though, they simply couldn't justify not spending their first night together in weeks with their dogs. Both sensed that Bijou and Katie needed reassurance and their own quiet time to take in the fact that their humans were back.  Thus, Jack and Daniel snuggled on the sofa in their living room, with Bijou and Katie taking turns relaxing with each man.  It was also a good opportunity to talk about all the things that happened since the original mission to P3X-439 where the repository was found.

“Ah geez, I missed that,” Jack complained with huge regret.  “Hayes told him he'd accepted his resignation and Kinsey didn't even offer to resign?”

“He was, uh, fired,” Daniel chuckled.  “But ...”

“What?”

“Do you think he's gone?  I mean, I don't know, but I just can't imagine Kinsey fading into the background.”

“I hope he's gone.  Hayes must be an all right guy,” Jack surmised.

----

“I've *got* to talk to him,” Jack put forth.

“General Hammond really saved the day, Jack.  We had no idea the Prometheus was coming or that he was command.  Uh, he stayed and kept the Prometheus there longer than he should have.”

“Did he get flack?”

“I think so.  I mean, Walter mentioned that Colonel Kirkland wasn't very thrilled with the general's decision to hold his ground.”

“Well, it's a good thing Kirkland wasn't in charge.  I wonder what Hammond's going to do.”

“Do you think there's any chance President Hayes would reappoint him to the SGC?”

“I wish,” Jack sighed.  “I don't know, Danny.  What about Weir?”

“Well, we didn't really get along.  I mean, I, uh ...”

“Did you give her a hard time?”

“You could say that, but we couldn't get through to her.  I understand her reasons, intellectually, but my heart was demanding something different.  She did stand up to Kinsey.”

“And that, Danny, means she has to have something good going for her, regardless of her hair color.”

----

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

“Are we ... strange?”

Jack's head jutted to the left to glance at his husband before he responded, “Huh?”

“I mean, I thought, no, I knew I couldn't survive without you, and then there we are, acting like nothing ever happened.  One minute it's emotions I can't even put into words when I realize you're alive and the next, it's like, well, it's ... it's ...”

“Back to normal?” Jack suggested.  “I know what you mean, Angel, but I don't think we're strange, odd maybe.”

“Jack!” Daniel laughed.  “You think it's the game, all that having to keep everything a secret?” he asked as he sought to understand his own reactions to events.

“It could be, or maybe it's just ...”

“Just what?”

“Us,” Jack answered succinctly.

“I guess.  When we're together, life is in synch.  Everything falls into place.  One second, I can't breathe because I'm scared you won't come back, but when you do come back, I know you're there, so everything's ...”

“... normal,” the lovers spoke in unison.

“There's that.  We have a job to do when we're out there, and we both care about that job.  When we're together, that's all we need, to be: together.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

“We're a little strange and a little odd, and you know what?”

“What, Danny?”

“I wouldn't change anything.”

“Me, either, Love.”

----

After a few hours of family time, Bijou nudged her daughter and jumped off the sofa.  Katie only stared at her mother until Bijou let out with the tiniest of growls. Making a noise of discontent, Katie reluctantly jumped down as well.  The two dogs disappeared around the corner, using the pet door that led from the house to the garage and from the garage to the backyard.

“That was ... unexpected,” Daniel remarked as he stood and went to the patio door.  “Jack, they went into their doghouse.”

“They're giving us alone time, Danny,” Jack stated as he stood and walked over to the stereo.  He put on some soft music and invited, “Dance with me.”

So often, it was Daniel who made that request, but the soulmates loved to dance, and that's what they did for several minutes without saying a word.

“Danny?”

“Mmmm?”

“I remember something.”

“Something?”

“You know all that Ancient knowledge is gobbly gook to me.  I don't know what it is when I'm speaking it and I don't know what I'm doing when I'm doing it.  It's just one great big headache.”

“Fron-ache,” Daniel mused.  “You know, head is fron, in Ancient.”

“Of course it is,” Jack replied.

“Are you saying you remember something?”

“I remember one thing.”

“What?”

“I remember looking at you and thinking I'd never see you again, but I was ... stuck, but I needed to tell you.”

“Tell me what?”

“I think it was ... 'aveo amacuse' or something like that?”

“I remember.  It was the last thing you said before activating the stasis pod.”

“What does it mean?  I know I said it, but I don't know what I said.”

“You said, 'Goodbye, Beloved'.”

“I like that.”

“So do I, but I told Sam and Teal'c it just meant 'goodbye'.”

“Danny?”

“Yes?”

“How do you say 'hello' in Ancient?”

“Well, there's a couple of options, like you could use 'ave' as a ...”

“Daniel,” Jack interrupted.  “How do you say 'hello'?”

“Salve.”

“Salve, amacuse.”

“Hello, Beloved.”

The couple kissed and immediately moved their dancing upstairs, only then they did a different kind of dance, the dance of sexual ecstasy.

====  

The lovers were in bed, having spent hours there already as they reveled in their love and became satiated from their unions.  It was still dark out, the sun not yet even peeking at the horizon.  Things were quiet and tranquil as Jack gently caressed Daniel's bare back while Daniel enjoyed the beating of Jack's heart as he leaned against the older man's hairy chest.

“Jack, I need to tell you something.”

“I'm all ears, Love.”

“When you were gone, I, uh, went a little ... crazy, I think.”

“You're not crazy.”

“No, but I missed you, Jack, and I couldn't do anything to help, and I ... wanted to be with you.”

Jack kissed the top of Daniel's head and prompted, “Don't edit, Danny.  Just tell me whatever it is you think I need to know.”

“I went in your office one night and I didn't leave for a week.”

“Daniel, my office isn't that big.  What was so fascinating?”

“It was yours.”

Jack's hands roamed his husband's body in warm support as he asked, “So, you camped out in there?”

“I remember playing with your yo-yo.  Oh, and I know I how to juggle now.”

“I would have taught you.”

“You did.  I pictured you juggling in my mind.”

“Guess I'm better than you thought.”

“You're also a thief, Babe.”

“Am not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“What did I steal?”

“My boonie, the original, the first one.  I found it in your blizzard coat.”

Jack groaned and claimed he'd forgotten about it.  Daniel told his Love all about his hallucination and the argument with the conjured up image.

“Freaky,” Jack responded.

“Yeah.  Like I said, I was pretty ...”

“Nuts?”

“Crazy.”

“But, Danny, one thing.”

“What?” the archaeologist asked.

“I did find your boonie on PX9-592 five years ago.  Remember how stinkin' hot and windy it was?”

“I do.”

“You put it in your back pocket and it flew out; hit me right in the ...” Jack coughed.  “Right here,” he spoke as he demonstrated on Daniel's private part where the boonie landed.

“Oh.”

“And I was going to give it back.  I don't remember any gypsy girl, though.  We had our hands full with Jaffa.  By the time we got through the Gate, my mind was elsewhere.  I'd tossed in my pack and forgot about it.”

“There wasn't a gypsy.  There have never been any gypsies.  My mind must have made that up.”

“Let's talk about that.”

“Let's not,” Daniel negated.  “Jack?”

“Hmm?”

“You didn't give me back my boonie.”

“I forgot.”

“You put it your blizzard coat, Jack.  That required conscious thinking, a choice.  Explain.”

Jack sighed and asked, “Danny, remember that Kleenex box from Hammond's office that I sent through to Abydos?”

“Yes, and I sent it back to show I was still alive.”

“Yeah.”

“And you kept it,” Daniel recalled.  “I remember when I found it in the garage.”

“It's still there, in that same box,” Jack pointed out.

“So, what you're saying is that you're the sentimental type and that's why you saved the Kleenex box and it's why you stole my boonie.”

“I like your boonie.”

“You could have just asked me for it.”

“Awkward,” Jack opined.  “Danny, how'd your brain come up with 592 in your vision?”

“I don't know.  I guess maybe it's just that we're connected, sometimes in ways we can't explain.”

“You're right.  Angel, do you want your boonie back?”

“No, I told you that you could keep it.”

“I don't remember that.  I didn't even know you knew I had it.”

“Not now.  I mean, when the hallucination vanished, I was distraught.  We'd argued, Jack, and all I wanted was for you to come back, so I put it back in the pocket and told you that you could keep it.”

“Thanks, Love.”

Daniel went on to tell Jack about everything else he could recall from his days in the office, though some of what he did was still shrouded in a cloud of fog.  He remembered filling his thermoses with coffee at one point and nibbling on a half-gone candy bar he'd found in a drawer, but other than that, he hadn't eaten a thing that he knew of after having those two bites of an apple Sunday evening.

Now that he knew the full story from subsequent talks with the two nurses, Daniel also told Jack how Marie and Casey helped to keep Daniel's condition a secret and how Janet went along with it all.

The one negative Daniel shared, though he wasn't sure he should, was his feelings about what happened on the day he went back to work.  With the limited personnel, he hadn't been missed.  The exception was Megan Williams, his most reliable civilian staff member, who did ask a few people about her boss' unusual absence, but was then given time off as were other civilian staffers.  Weir never even noticed Daniel's being missing in action.  Of course, the archaeologist figured she was pleased not to have him pestering her about going to Antarctica all the time.

“Daniel, they're all idiots.  Most of our friends at SGC were shipped off, including your staff.  That's what you told me.  The others were morons like Jillson.”

“I guess so.”

“I know so.  Trust me,” Jack urged.

Jack wasn't happy about Daniel being invisible to whoever was on duty during the time in question and made a special note to review the staffing.  He was pretty sure it was a matter of who remained on the base, but if any corrections needed to be made, he'd see to it, even if he had to go to war with Weir to make the changes happen.

“Oh, Babe, one more thing.”

“Still listening.”

“Ik hou van jou,” Daniel declared softly.

“I love ...hey, what?”

“I found your book and the pages with what you were trying to learn.”

“Geez, I haven't had time to go back to that in years.  I wanted to surprise you with that after that skull business.”

“Jack, do you remember the words you wanted to learn?”

“I love you, Danny, and,  in case you forgot, je bent mijn vallende ster.”

Daniel smiled at being his lover's falling star.  All was right in his world again.  Jack smiled, too.  He could survive anything just as long as his soulmate was on his side, or on his back, or on is abdomen.  Actually, it didn't matter where Daniel was, as long as he was with Jack.

The loving words led to loving actions that led to completely exhilarating orgasms that led to two lovers lying together as one, their hearts beating joyfully as they celebrated life together in their home.

====
--March 8, 2005
====

“This is nice,” Daniel spoke softly late in the evening as he was lying down in front of the fireplace with his left elbow supporting his head.

“It's perfect,” Jack added as he lie across from his husband with his right elbow supporting him.

“Another piece of turkey?” the archaeologist asked Bijou, who was closest to him and lying down completely.

The mama beagle licked her lips, so Daniel held out a piece of rolled-up turkey that had a small piece of bacon in the middle, which Bijou immediately took and began to imbibe.

“How about you?” Jack asked Katie, who was right next to her mother while being the closest to Jack.

Katie let out a small but happy woof as the answer to Jack's query, so he, too, held out the special treat for the youngest beagle to enjoy, which she did.

The fire was blazing, providing a colorful hue and the perfect amount of warmth.  A tray held a variety of snacks for Jack, Daniel, and the girls, and the men had bottles of soda, Coke for Jack, Pepsi for Daniel, to quench their thirst.

“This was a great idea, Danny.”

“Actually, I promised them we'd do this that last time I came home,” Daniel noted as he looked at the beagles.  “I knew we'd need some special time with the girls, and they agreed.”

The human-canine family spent the entire night in front of the fire, relaxing.  It was a leisurely and lighthearted evening.  The phones were off, the lights were out except for one that was dimmed in the living room, and the only activity was petting, caressing, and cuddling the beagles along with some innocent conversation.

Jack told a few jokes and Daniel talked luringly about the importance of celebrating the family, something the Nox did big time.  While Jack previously hadn't been so keen to learn about the special Nox celebration that was still ongoing, now he was eager to know all that his soulmate knew, so he took in every word.  As for the beagles, they were just happy to have their humans home, safe and sound, and resting with them by a warm fire.

====
--March 9, 2005
====

“Daniel, if Fraiser sticks one more needle in my arm or puts my head in another machine, I'm gonna lose it,” Jack threatened after he endured the last of Janet's testing that morning before running to his lover for emotional comfort.

“Hi to you, too, Jack,” Daniel greeted as he stood near one of his worktables.

“Sorry, but my body's been poked to death.”

“You're exaggerating.”

“Of course, I am,” Jack chuckled.  “Doc's doing what she has to, to make sure my brain isn't more screwed up than it normally is.”

“Your brain is not screwed up.”

“Hey, it's still here,” Jack noticed as he picked up an item, totally leaving his medical exam whine behind.

“Your present from Sergeant Siler.”

“Homer,” Jack stated as he flicked the top of the bobblehead, causing the head to move rapidly up and down.  “D'oh!'” Jack exclaimed in character, just to have fun.

“You can take that with you now.”

“I'm surprised you didn't toss it while I was gone.”

“That's where you left it.  I figured it was up to you to take it back.”

There was a poignancy to Daniel's statement, and the couple paused simply to look at each other in recognition of their love and good fortune that both were still alive.

“I've got a meeting with Weir,” Jack advised, breaking the trance.

“Any idea why?”

“Nah,” Jack sighed while putting down the bobblehead.  “She probably wants to go over mission schedules now that we're back in business.”

“Yeah,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Nice of them to finally settle their differences, *after* we've already driven off the bad guys, again.”  He took a moderate breath and asked, “How long before we're back up to full manpower?”

“A week, maybe two, or less,” Jack answered vaguely.  “I'm not up to speed yet on all the details, but Ferretti said the teams are scattered all over the place.  He won't be back for a few days himself.”

“I think a lot of them are at Peterson.”

“Yeah,” Jack affirmed.  “They're easier to move.  I imagine those orders will be carried out within forty-eight hours.  I'd like to get as many back by Friday as we can.  We need this place staffed.”

“Speaking of staffs ...”

Jack saw the raised eyebrows and nodded in understanding before responding, “I'm on it.”

“Starting with Megan Williams, Jack.  I need her *now* to help get this department running like it should be when the teams start going out again.”

“Consider it done, unless I'm being replaced.”

“Not funny,” Daniel responded.

“Okay, gotta go see why I'm being called into the principal's office,” Jack quipped as he headed for the door.

“Jack.”

“What?”

“Take it with you.”

Jack stared for a minute and then said, “Oh!” and reached out to pick up the bobblehead.  He smiled and then disappeared from his lover's view.

Daniel formed a broad smile and let out a happy breath.  It felt so good to have a so-called normal conversation with his colonel at the Mountain.  Life was peaceful.  He hoped it would stay that way, at least for a while.

====

Jack tapped on the door jamb to Weir's office and immediately noticed she was packing.

“Colonel, come in.  How are you feeling?” the woman inquired as she stood behind the desk.

“Not bad.  Haven't had the urge to go anywhere or build anything lately.”

“Well, you have been given a clean bill of health, as far as the finest medical professionals on his planet are concerned.”

“Well, what do they know,” Jack jested as he sat down.

“The President asked me to extend an invitation to you, dinner at the White House.”

“Do you know what they're having?”

“I don't think I've had the chance to personally thank you yet,” Weir spoke as she paused her boxing up of possessions.

“For what?”

“You risk your life over and over and ask for nothing in return.”

“Well, don't be fooled.  I'm making a list.”

“Well, I doubt very much that there's anything that could properly repay you.”

Uncomfortable with the praise, Jack evaded looking at the woman and decided to ask, “You ... going somewhere?”

“As a matter of fact, the President has asked me to supervise the research of the Ancient outpost.  It's going to be a bit of a delicate situation, given all the various international claims already being made on the site.”

“Sounds right up your alley.”

“Yeah, well, much more so than this job.”

“Does that mean Hammond will be coming back?” Jack questioned.  ~That would be some much needed good news.~

“No, General Hammond is being promoted.  He'll be overseeing all things relating to Earth's defense on behalf of the Pentagon and Washington: the SGC, the 303 program, the Antarctic site.  Unofficially, it's being called Homeworld Security.”

“Any idea who we're going to be stuck with?”

“The Pentagon has convinced the President that there is one man who could run the SGC and make it politically viable, from an international perspective, despite the fact that he is part of the American military establishment.”

“Do we know this ... shrub?”

With a bit of a pleased smirk, Weir leaned forward with both of her hands bracing herself against her desk as she responded, “Well, you know him rather well, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill.”

“Me?”

“Yeah, you.”

“Brigadier,” Jack stated thoughtfully.  “It's on my list.”

“Congratulations.”

“I should be clear,” Jack said as he stood. “I like the promotion, the paycheck, and the parking spot, but I don't really wanna be in charge of anything, but ... no.”

“Well, sadly, all those things kind of go together, so I guess you have some thinking to do.”

“I hate that,” Jack responded.  ~That's Danny's department.  Yeah, I'll have him think it out for me.~

“I'm sure you'll make the right decision,” Weir stated as she resumed her packing.  “I do know one thing, though.”

“Which would be?”

“This base needs you, *Brigadier*.  I was unwelcome here, for obvious reasons, and I admit I may have made one or two mistakes.”

“One or two,” Jack repeated lightly.

“The Stargate Program is in transition.  The President came very close to making the knowledge of the Stargate public.”

“That wouldn't have been good.”

“Things are changing, Colonel, and the men and women who serve here need someone they can trust to run this facility.  I might have gained that with time, and I will have that at the Ancient outpost.  These people trust you.  They need you.”

“What they really need is Hammond.”

“I don't know if that's a possibility or not, and I don't know what happened there. My understanding is that he's not coming back irregardless of what your decide.  Go, think, and make your decision.”

Jack nodded his head and uttered, “Good luck.”

Weir nodded and then focused again on packing.

====

Jack talked over the situation with Daniel a couple of times.  His lover was positive he could do the job and was being very supportive.  He'd also spoken with the team and they, too, were in agreement that he should take the promotion.

Still, Jack needed to talk it over with one other person.  He'd tried contacting General Hammond a couple of times since returning to Earth, but was unable to make the connection.  It was seven in the evening in Colorado Springs when Jack slipped into his study and sat down at his desk.  He stared at the phone for more than two minutes before picking it up and dialing Hammond's home phone.

The only response was the man's answering machine.  Jack sighed.  Hammond felt about cell phones the same way Jack did.  They were necessary evils in today's world.  If ever there were an exception to their unspoken agreement not to track each down via smartphone, this was it.  With some reluctance, the colonel pulled out his mobile phone and pressed the button that would hopefully connect him to his friend and, in his mind, still commanding officer.

“Jack.”

“Sir, thank you for picking up.”

Hammond laughed, “I was expecting your call.”

“I ... hope I'm not disturbing you, Sir, wherever you are.”

“I'm still in Washington,” Hammond volunteered, adding, “I've been looking for a place to hang my hat.”

“Are you selling your home in the Springs, General?”

“No.  When I do retire, that's where I'm retiring, too.”

“I'm glad to hear that,” Jack responded.

There were seconds of silence until Hammond finally cajoled, “Out with it, Colonel.”

“We need you at the Mountain, General,” Jack asserted firmly.

“I appreciate your feelings, Jack, but the President has personally asked me to head up Homeworld Security.”

“Can't say no, huh?”

Hammond chuckled, “President Hayes is new to the menace we face.  He's indicated that it would be a personal favor if I stayed in Washington at this point.”

“He gave you the option to return?”

“He did.”

Jack sighed, understanding Hammond's tough decision to remain in the nation's capitol and assist, not only in the organizing of the new security endeavor, but the new commander-in-chief.

“The SGC will be in good hands ... General,” Hammond stated.

“Yeah, about that ...”

“Jack, if I didn't think you could handle it, I never would have would recommended you for the job.”

Jack was speechless.  He had no idea Hammond was the one that originally submitted his name to the President for consideration.  Weir said it was the Pentagon.  Maybe she didn't know the whole story.  Whatever the case might be, Jack was touched by Hammond's words.

“Sir?”

“If you need to talk, Jack, I'm here, but I have great confidence in your abilities.”

“You do know I don't have the knowledge of the Ancients anymore.  I'm just ... me.”

“That's plenty.”

“Have you seen my jacket lately, General?” Jack asked in reference to his military history that was several times more expansive than the average Air Force officer, thanks to his frequent insistence on doing things his way, or not doing them at all.

Again, Hammond laughed, “It'll make a great movie one day, Jack.”

“But if they wrote it, I'd have to shoot them.”

 “Jack, you have an excellent team at the Mountain.  Walter will make sure you learn the quirks.”

“There are quirks?”

“Many,” Hammond affirmed.

“What about SG-1?”

“No one can replace you or what you've done, but change is something we must all deal with.  I'm certain Major Carter or anyone you select will be able to lead the team appropriately.”

“It won't be the same.”

“No, Son, it won't,” Hammond acknowledged, not making light of the potential shift from flagship team leader to base commander.  “I would like to remind you, however, that Doctor Jackson, Major Carter, and Teal'c will no doubt be available whenever and however you need them.”

“Thank you for your time, General.”

“Jack, it is a big decision, and you do have a colorful past, but it is *exactly* that past that is needed during this difficult time.  We almost went public.  We need someone who isn't afraid of ...”

“... the people above the man?”

“Well said.”

“I hope we'll see you soon, General.”

“You will.  Goodnight, Jack.”

“Goodnight, Sir.”

Jack disconnected the call and leaned back in the chair.  He closed his eyes to help clear out the clutter in his mind.  He turned on the massage element and enjoyed the gentle pulsation against his aging body.

After several minutes, Jack could sense the eyes on him.  Sure enough, when his eyelids opened, he saw his husband, leaning against the door jamb, his right foot crooked across the other, and his arms crossed lightly across his chest.  There was a slight upturn at the corners of his mouth, and his eyes were sparkling, shining with love.

“He recommended me, Danny.”

“He knows you're the one for the job.”

“SG-1.”

“We'll be fine, Babe.”

“We won't be together.”

“Yes, we will.”  Daniel placed his right hand over his heart and then gestured towards the seated man.  “Remember?”

“Yeah, I do,” Jack responded as he stood up and walked over to Daniel.  “You really think I'm up for this, considering I've never been fond of the man?”

“General Hammond was the man.”

“Exception.”

“Jack, if you don't want this, don't do it, but don't say no because you don't think you deserve it or you're worried about the team.”

“I do love that parking spot,” the older man mused.  “I have a ... fron-ache,” he teased.

“I have a remedy for that, General.”

“Lead the way,” Jack agreed, kissing his soulmate before following him upstairs where the only decision to be made was who would be atop the other.

The next morning, Jack finalized his decision and was told he would need to be in the capitol on the eleventh for the ceremony.  Stargate Command needed its leadership in place pronto, so everything was put together very quickly.  All of SG-1 traveled to Washington on the evening of the tenth and met up with General Hammond for a round of drinks before they anticipated the big day together with a leisurely dinner.  Afterwards, they went their own ways for the remainder of the night.  For Jack and Daniel, that meant a rendezvous in Daniel's hotel room.

====
--March 12, 2005
====

Newly promoted Brigadier General Jack O'Neill and his husband arrived home around ten in the morning after attending the official ceremony in Washington D.C. the day before.  Daniel was as proud as a man could be about his spouse's career advancement and that was in spite of the higher level being a part of the military that he still was not a fan of on the overall.

There was lots of fanfare in D.C. and Jack was on his best behavior as he mingled with an assortment of Air Force biggies and politicians.  What he really enjoyed, though, besides Daniel being with him, was having a chance to meet and talk with President Hayes in person.  The two hit it off immediately and Jack felt confident that Hayes was the man to be *the* man for America.

On Monday, a smaller celebration and ceremony would be held in the gate room of Stargate Command.  Jack already had a big surprise in store for his 2IC.  He also had something brewing for Daniel, but that was going to take more time.  As pleased as he was to bump Sam up a rank, he believed recognition for Daniel's achievements with the Stargate Program was long overdo.  As a civilian working for a classified top secret program, giving the archaeologist official credit was more involved.  Jack planted the seed, though, during his conversation with President Hayes and he would be sure to follow up with him until his goal was reached.

This was Jack's last weekend before he knew he would have to devote most of his waking hours to his transition as base commander, so he wanted to putter around the house, relax, and enjoy time with his family.

Right now, Jack was in the relax phase as he sat back on the old, comfy sofa in his study.  In his hands was a printout of Daniel's story, now entitled “Prophecy.”  The linguist already deleted the fictional piece from his work computer, enlisting Sam's help to make sure the file could never be retrieved.  He'd put a copy on a flash drive and printed out the file once he was back at home.

Daniel was leaning against Jack's desk, one leg in front of the other and his arms lightly folded in front of him.  He could tell his Silver Fox was about to reach the end of the tale.

“Not exactly Hemingway, Love.”

“More like Mad Magazine?” Daniel questioned.

“Satirical in places,” Jack agreed.  “It strays a lot, but it has a little bit of everything:  drama, action, comedy ...”

“... romance.”  With a smile, Daniel walked over and sat on his husband's lap and immediately put his arms around Jack's neck.  His fingers mingled lightly with the bottom strands of Jack's silver-gray hair.  Slowly, he leaned in for a sweet, yet passionate kiss.  “I needed a distraction.  Jack, I swear, I was all saddened out.  Every day had been a nightmare.  I don't even know how to explain it.  I've never been so helpless so long.  There was nothing I could do, nothing, and SGC was like a morgue most of the time.  I couldn't stop thinking about you, but I needed to alter how I was thinking about you.”

“So you wrote a story about SG-1.”

“Yes,” Daniel said before kissing Jack again.  “I guess I needed to vent a little, too, and I didn't know how.  I mean, I couldn't get lost in myself again or Elizabeth might have restricted me from the base, so I found a way to release some tension.”

“Hence, the addition of Jonas Smiley Mouth Quinn.”

“He's a good man, Jack, but ...”

“Yeah, he's not gonna be going fishing with us anytime *ever*,” Jack pointed out. He smiled and noted, “But he served a purpose here.  Danny, you gave him a brain tumor, an illogical brain tumor at that.”

“It did grow a lot and rapidly,” Daniel conceded.

“You gave Carter a bump on the head and nearly broke her arm.”

“Yeah, I did.  I'm not sure why I did that.”

“Jealousy?” Jack put forward.

“Of Sam?  Why would I be jealous of Sam?”

“The game?”

“Babe, we're married.  I have no reason to be jealous of anyone, and neither do you.”

“I'll try to remember that,” the older man replied in a playful tone.  “You didn't let her read this when she wiped it from your hard drive, did you?”

“Oh, no, na-huh, no,” Daniel responded.

“Strange writing style: 'said I'?”

“I know.  I just started typing and kept typing, and then it was like an outer body experience where I was seeing the words in action and then responding to them.  Very strange.”

“Danny?”

“Yes?”

“Keep that word in mind.”

“Why?”

“I'm thinking more of an inner body experience,” Jack spoke as his left hand began to unbutton his lover's jeans.  “Fellatio, My Love?”

“As an appetizer to so much more.”

“So that would be ...”

“Yes,” Daniel gasped when his husband made the expected yet thrilling contact with the inner body part just spoken about.

Quickly, Jack maneuvered Daniel to the carpet and when he did, the two-hundred-twenty-three pages of Daniel's manuscript went flying all over the room.  The lovers actually covered up several pages as they continued their foreplay and delved into their sensual need and want of the other.

It was the perfect way to relax in Jack's mind and he spent the rest of Saturday giving his husband an ecstatic inner body experience.

====
--March 14, 2005
====

Daniel entered the briefing room and saw a woman staring through the large rectangular window that overlooked the Stargate, prompting him to speak, “It really is amazing, isn't it.”

“I don't care.”

“Deja vu,” Daniel stated quietly as he started to turn.

Elizabeth Weir turned around and pointed at her earpiece while concluding her phone call, saying, “You'll have to make do.  I have to do this.  Goodbye.”

The call sounded personal to the archaeologist, so he didn't say anything about it.

“Deja vu, Daniel,” Weir spoke.

“Are you leaving soon?”

“Yes.  In fact, you just caught me.  I ... wanted to take one more look and clear my mind.”

“The Ancient outpost is an important assignment.”

“So don't mess it up?” Weir queried with a small smile.

“Look, we met under bad circumstances,” Daniel began.  “I could say a lot of things, but where SG-1 is concerned ... it's just, we're a team, and ...”

“Don't mess with the team,” Weir stated.  “That I am aware.  Major Carter blackmailed me and getting information from you was like pulling teeth.  If the planet weren't in danger, I'm not sure you would have said two words to me, unless it was about General O'Neill.”

“Yes, well, Jack is the leader of SG-1.  There wouldn't be a Program without him.”

“He's the leader of the entire base now.”

“Yes,” Daniel responded with a smile.  He also realized the conversation wasn't going as planned, and he really wanted to clear the air and free himself of his negative feelings.  “Elizabeth, getting Jack back was something we had to do.  I realize you weren't aware, and you may not know now, how important he is to the SGC.”

“And to you.”

“Yes.  He's saved my life many times, many times.”

“I've read the reports.”

~Which only tell half the story, if that.~  Drawing a breath, Daniel continued, “My point is, I respect you and the work you've done as a negotiator.  In spite of our differences during the last several weeks, you've been open and honest about what was happening.  You stood up to Kinsey.  That's never been easy for most.”

“Thank you.”

“The point is, with a different beginning, I think we could have ... well ...”

“Been friends?”

“Cooperative colleagues,” Daniel countered with a smile.  “I hope we still can be.  Uh, I'll be in Antarctica to assist you.  I think the key to finding Atlantis is there.”

“So does the President,” Weir answered.  The woman walked to the scientist, extended her hand, and announced, “Hello.  My name is Elizabeth Weir, and I look forward to working with you, wherever and whenever that may be.”

Daniel smiled broadly and reached out and shook Weir's hand while replying, “I'm Daniel Jackson, and it will be a pleasure.”  Ending the handshake, Daniel nodded and felt good about the way things were concluding.  “Good luck, Elizabeth.”

“And to you, Daniel.”

====

From there, the archaeologist went to his lover's office, his new office.

“Hey,” Daniel greeted.  “Settled?”

“Hey,” Jack returned as he finished hanging a picture on the wall.  Then he turned and stared at the chair behind the desk.  “Danny, I don't think I can do it.”

“Jack, you're going to do a great job.”

“Not that, that,” the newly certified brigadier general groaned as he gestured in the general direction of the desk.

Daniel's eyes darted back and forth between his husband and the desk until he finally gasped lightly, “Oh, the chair.”

“Hammond's chair.  Danny, I can't fill his shoes, so how can I sit in his chair?”

“It's your chair now,” Daniel insisted.  He walked closer to the base commander and smiled.  “Jack, it's just a chair.  General Hammond didn't die.  He's been promoted, too, and he also has a new chair.  Sit down.”

Jack let out a puff of air and walked slowly behind the desk.  He swiveled the chair around reverently and then, finally, he sat down.  He looked up at his lover with uncertainty.

“It's your chair, Jack, and your desk, and your office.  This is your base and your command.  You wouldn't be sitting there if you didn't deserve to be and if General Hammond didn't believe you could do the job.  I believe in you and I have confidence that you'll fill *your* shoes perfectly.”  Daniel smiled and communicated, **And I love you, so much.**

**I love you, too, Angel.**  After a few more seconds, Jack jumped up and looked back at the chair.  “I'll get to used to it.”

“You will,” Daniel assured confidently.

“Did you talk to Weir?”

“Yeah, and I think it's okay now.”

“She got caught up in something she couldn't fully understand as a raw recruit,” Jack jested with his wording, “but she handled herself well.”

“Okay, well, I've got work to do, General.”

“Me, too.”

Daniel walked to the door, turning back when he heard his name.

“Don't go too far, huh?”

Daniel simply placed his hand on his heart and then nodded at his husband.  He'd never be far away and they both knew the truth of that.

====

At the end of the day, Jack, Daniel, and Sam were leaving Cheyenne Mountain at the same time.

“Carter, we have some unfinished business.”

“We do?”

“Crossword puzzle,” Daniel said quietly as he leaned over slightly as if to whisper in her ear.

“Oh.”

“You up for it?” the general asked.

“You bet,” Sam agreed.  “How much?”

“Not money this time.  Let's have some real fun,” Jack suggested eagerly.

“Okay, well, if you win, I'll convince Teal'c and we'll willingly go fishing with you guys.”

“Pack your bags, Carter,” the colonel chimed as he clapped his hands together one time with overwhelming confidence.

“But if I win, you have to come with me to the Academy and explain to the physics class why understanding physics is important, even in the military.”

“Carter, I barely understand a third of what you say.  How am I going to convince those kids of anything physics...ly?”

“I'll coach you, Sir.”

“You know what?  It doesn't matter.  You're gonna lose.”

“Be careful, Jack,” Daniel advised.  “Those puzzles aren't always that easy.”

“Piece of cake,” Jack asserted.  “It's a bet,” he said, exchanging a high-five with Sam to seal the deal.

The three walked together to the parking area when Jack suddenly stopped.

“Sir?”

“Sorry, Carter,” Jack said with a shrug as he looked over at his truck that was parked right by the elevator.”

“It's okay, Sir.  I'm just over there, by that pole, way over there.”

Chuckling, Daniel spoke, “Goodnight, Sam.”

“Night, Daniel.  See you tomorrow, General.”

Daniel turned to walk to the truck, but realized his lover wasn't following.

“Jack?”

“Hey, I love the perks, but I used to park over there, way over there, by that pole.”

“Well, you can give Sam your parking space if you're feeling guilty.”

Jack thought for a moment and then said, “Nah.  Guilt's gone.  Let's go home.”

===

“Here you go, Angel,” Jack said as he put Daniel's dinner plate in front of him at the table and then sat down himself, placing his own food down.

“Thank you,” Daniel responded.  “Looks great.”

“I slaved away for a solid ... ten minutes,” Jack laughed.

“Hot dogs, beans, fries, and chocolate Jell-O pudding: a master chef's specialty,” Daniel teased.

“Eat,” Jack ordered with a chuckle.  Jack took a bite of his frankfurter and sighed, “That's a good dog.”

“Uh, Jack,” Daniel nodded over to where Bijou and Katie were sitting.

“Look, it's not a dog dog.  I'd never eat a dog.  Hey, give a guy a break, will ya?  It's feels like ten years since we've been here like this.”

“Woof,” were the two lighthearted responses as the girls stood, wagged their tails, and then went to rest in their living room beanbag.

“I thought we didn't do normal,” Daniel said as he munched on a French fry.

“We don't, but it's our normal, the abnormal normal.”

Both men laughed as they ate their meal and chatted about inconsequential yet important things in the scheme of their abnormal normal life.  It felt liberating to talk about the bushes in the front yard, Mrs. Svenson's new hat, the funny face one of the fish made, the latest episode of “The Simpsons,” and even what to have for breakfast in the morning.  The joy of being able to make small talk was something the lovers would never take for granted.  Then there was one other very special delight, something often said, though never routinely or as an afterthought.

Jack reached out and took his Love's hand as he softly vowed, “You're my Angel, my beautiful falling star, my ... amacuse; I love you so friggin' much.”

As his fingers caressed the palm of his husband's hand, Daniel sweetly promised, “You're my Silver Fox, my strength, my amacuse; I love you so freakin' much, forever and always, Jack.”

“Forever and always, Danny.”

The last forty-eight days or so seemed like an unpleasant eternity for the couple, but now they were putting that behind them.  They were done talking about the Antarctic, at least until they couldn't avoid it.  The fact was that the Ancient outpost was under Jack's direction as the leader of Stargate Command.  It would more than likely end up under the control of a government agency, but right now, Jack was the go-to for Elizabeth Weir as she presided over the research there.

The rest of the night was spent stargazing on the roof deck.  The lovers talked more with Jack decreeing that he didn't want to stop going on missions and Daniel agreeing that he didn't have to stop going on recons and explorations.  Jack was the commander.  He could do whatever he wanted.

Feeling more settled, relaxed, and back to the norm of their lives quickly led to the soulmates gazing into each other's eyes as they made love.  Once again, after a delay of too many weeks, life was good for Jack and Daniel and their nation of two, plus beagles, and fish, too, in Colorado Springs.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

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