The Cabal Princess Affair

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  6 - May 31 - June 1, 2003
Spoilers:  Forsaken, Smoke and Mirrors, Need
Size:  65kb
Written:  April 7-9,14-15,19,21,25-26, 2008
Summary:  SG-1 discovers an interesting trio stranded on a planet, and one of them may be after Daniel.
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), “Detour”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Carol, Tonya, Keri, Linda!

The Cabal Princess Affair
by Orrymain

Daniel looked over at his lover and shook his head.  Jack was whistling, looking up at the trees and smiling.  In fact, the man looked downright serene.  At the moment, the colonel didn't have a care in the world, and Daniel knew it.

~I can't blame you for feeling happy, even if we are surrounded by trees,~ Daniel thought, his soul smiling at his lover's current state of being.  ~Of course, you love trees, but you usually like to tease about them.  You can't right now, though, because you're just happy to be out in the open, enjoying nature's gifts.~

“Ah, it's good to be alive, Danny,” Jack spoke with an awe and lightness in his voice.  He paused, looking up at the sky of P2X-005 and then turned to take in the greenery of the world they were on at the moment.  “Yep.  It's good to be alive.”

“Being locked up for a while really got to you, didn't it?” Daniel mused as he jumped over a small clump of bush that was in front of them.

“I've had more fun going to the bathroom,” Jack replied dryly, his hold on his P-90 casual as he wasn't expecting any danger during the mission.

Daniel grimaced at the reply and its meaning, though he really didn't want to contemplate it at all.

“For a minute there, I thought four walls were all I'd be seeing for a long, long time,” Jack added.

“You weren't there that long,” Daniel replied about the cell in which his lover had been detained in at Peterson Air Force Base.

“An hour was too long,” Jack complained.  “But let's not dwell.  We're here, on a beautiful planet.  It's sunny, warm, and there's not a Goa'uld in sight.”

The younger man chuckled as he glanced around them, ensuring they were alone.

“Jack, it is good to be alive,” Daniel spoke a bit somberly.

Jack stopped walking and turned to face his lover.  He leaned over for a quick kiss, regretting that his P-90 caused a bit of separation between them.  For a minute, the two just gazed into each other's eyes.  They didn't need words right now.  Their expressions said everything that needed to be communicated, and that was love and joy in being together.

“I'm gonna check on Carter's progress,” Jack finally stated, realizing he needed to refocus on their mission, even if it wasn't a dangerous one.

“Okay, and I'm gonna keep ... exploring.”

“Find Teal'c.  He's around here somewhere.”

“Not a Goa'uld in sight,” Daniel sighed.  “Sounds good.”

“Tell me that you love me,” Jack requested out of the blue, having a sudden need to hear the affirmation.

Daniel grinned, his entire face lighting up as he complied by saying, “I love you so much, Jack, that no day is complete unless we're together.”

“That's My Angel,” Jack responded, daring to kiss his Heart again.  “I love you.  Stay safe.”

“Pretty easy to do here,” Daniel replied, watching as the older man began to walk away.

“Watch it.  Maybe some lost princess will suddenly appear and say she's late for some very important date.”

“This isn't 'Alice In Wonderland', and, uh, Alice wasn't a princess,” the archaeologist pointed out.

“Yeah.  Remember that,” Jack teased half-seriously as he disappeared from his lover's sight.

Daniel bowed his head, shaking it as he smiled.  It was good to be alive.  Recently, he'd almost lost Jack to a frame up in the attempted assassination of Senator Robert Kinsey.  Once again, though, the team prevailed, and Jack had been exonerated, although the details still hadn't been released to the general public.  Kinsey was still in the hospital, recovering from his wounds, and until a press conference could be held that would explain Jack's involvement, the colonel was being kept busy off-world.

**Jack, tell me,** Daniel communicated, wondering if his soulmate could hear him now that they were separated by a bit of distance.

--

As he walked in the opposite direction, Jack smiled and replied, **Love you, Danny, to the moon and the stars and beyond ... and back again.**  He continued smiling, while thinking, ~Just give me a shack and My Danny, and that's all I need.~  He laughed.  ~Yeah, a love shack, just like on Xanadu.~

Jack was thinking back to the time he and His Angel were stranded on a planetoid they'd named Xanadu a little more than a year before.

~Now, that was paradise, well until those friggin’ flowers almost killed Danny.~  Jack daydreamed for a while about their shack and the friends they'd made.  ~One of these days, maybe I can convince Hammond to give us a few days leave, and we can go back for a visit.~

====

The happy colonel was enjoying his walk through the woods as he headed to where his second-in-command was setting up for her readings.  He felt so at ease inside, mostly because he was full of thoughts about his lover.

His whistling had subsided, and now Jack had a song running through his head.  It was all because of the words he'd spoken before leaving Daniel a while earlier -- “Tell me that you love me.”

~Eric Clapton has a song called that,~ Jack thought as he began to sing the tune, though it was more of a mumble.  After all, he wasn't singing for anyone's benefit.  Rather, he was just expressing the good feelings within him.  “... and tell me that you love me,” he sang as he reached the perimeter of where Sam was working.

Sam smiled, having heard her CO approaching, and thought, ~He's in a good mood.~

Walking up to the blonde, Jack asked, “Lots of interesting nebulous things going on?”

“Yes, Sir.”

Jack removed his sunglasses and leaned over to look into the large telescope.

Sam looked off into the distance, gritting her teeth as she tried not to laugh at her commanding office.

“I don't see squat,” Jack stated after a few seconds of looking into the telescope.

“Well, you wouldn't, Sir, during the day.”  Sam hid her laughter, but not her smile, as she saw her commanding officer straighten up abruptly and clear his throat.  “When the local sun sets and it gets dark, you can actually see a luminous layer of ionized gas around the dying core expanding.”

“Fascinating,” Jack responded.

“You don't care.”

“Hey, I like gas as much as the next guy,” Jack teased.  He touched her shoulder lightly and walked over to an area behind Sam and her equipment.  ~Tell me that you love me as often as you can; Let me know that I'm your one and only man,~ he sang to himself.

“Five hours to darkness, Sir,” Sam advised with a small chuckle.

~She's really developing a warped sense of humor,~ Jack observed in silence, his only audible acknowledgement being the clearing of his throat, along with a mock cough.  Sitting down on a rock, he leaned over to tie his boots.  ~What's that?~ he wondered about something he saw on the ground.  Picking it up and smoothing it out, he realized it was a photograph of a woman.  ~Human?  Okay.~  “Carter?”

“Yes, Sir?”

“We've never been to this planet before, have we?  'We' meaning humans from Earth.”

“No, Sir.  Why?” Sam questioned.

Jack was about to show Sam the photograph when a call came over his radio.

“Jack, Sam, Teal'c found something, and I think you should take a look,” Daniel stated.

“Okay.  Where are you?”

“Uh, head east,” Daniel answered.

====

“Daniel,” Jack called out as he and Sam caught sight of the archaeologist at the top of a hill.

“Take a look,” Daniel responded, extending out his hand and pointing towards the valley below.

Jack and Sam joined Daniel and looked down, seeing Teal'c walking around, surveying the area at the base of the hill.  Their main focus, though, was a ship that had apparently crashed, bow first, into the ground.

Taking in the angle of the vessel, Jack quipped, “That had to hurt.”

“It must have been here a while,” Sam stated as she, Jack, and Daniel headed toward the vessel.  “Nothing looks disturbed.”

The team continued to examine the crash site.  None of them recognized the type of vessel, but when he examined the hull, Daniel noted that some of the markings resembled ancient Celtic.  He took a photo of it so that he could research it later.

Sam opened the hatch, looked inside, and then noted, “Looks like there were no survivors.”

“Actually, there were three of us,” a man called out.

The members of SG-1 spun around, seeing two men and a woman, standing behind them, with weapons drawn.

~I shouldn't have made that crack about a princess showing up,~ Jack groaned inwardly.  As the standoff continued, he asked, “Now what?”

“You tell me,” the man answered.

“We're peaceful explorers,” Daniel began, glancing over at Jack for a quick second before taking one step forward.  “We didn't come here to harm anybody.”

“Unless otherwise provoked,” Jack added sharply.

The man looked at his compatriots and then all three lowered their weapons.

Stepping closer to SG-1, the man spoke, “I'm Aden Corso, captain of the Sebrus.  This is my first officer, Tanis Reynard; navigator Lyle Pender.”

“Colonel Jack O'Neill, US Air Force.  Teal'c, Major Carter, Daniel Jackson,” Jack introduced as he walked forward.

“We're from a planet called Earth,” Daniel added.

“Never heard of it,” Pender replied.

“It's ...” Daniel began.

“Nice.  It's nice,” Jack interrupted.  **Let's play cautious for a while,** he explained to his lover.

“I'm sure it is.  Sorry for the less-than-warm welcome, but you kinda snuck up on us,” Corso stated.

“We didn't hear your ship land,” Reynard added.

“No, you wouldn't,” Jack acknowledged without elaborating further.

The two groups continued to talk, SG-1 attempting to learn as much as they could about the stranded trio.

Corso and his group claimed that they'd been en route to relieve an off-world mineral extraction team when an asteroid storm blew them off course.  In the subsequent crash, the fuel line had been damaged, and all of the reserves had leaked out before they knew what was happening.  While the engines seemed to be okay, they lacked enough power in the batteries to fire them up.

“All we have access to is a few auxiliary systems,” Pender concluded.

“Communications?” Sam inquired.

“First thing to get hit in the storm,” Reynard answered.

“Couldn't even get a distress signal off,” Corso interjected.  “What's frustrating is that our home planet, Hebridan, must be close.  We could plot a course, if you could take three passengers.”

“That might be a problem,” Jack stated.

“We did not travel to this world by vessel,” Teal'c explained.

“We came through the Stargate,” Daniel clarified, pointing in the direction of the Stargate.

“Excuse me?” Corso responded in question.

“Big O?  Decent walk that way,” Jack said, also pointing in the appropriate direction of the circular object.

“We didn't know what that was,” Corso admitted.

“It's a transportation device,” Sam noted.

“That explains a few things,” Corso commented.

“Uh, your planet ... Hebridan?  You don't have a ... a Stargate there?” Daniel surmised in question.

“Not that I know of.  Really, no ship?” Corso questioned, the power of the Stargate's capabilities a mystery to him.

The two groups continued to discuss the Stargate, unaware they were being watched by two aliens in the woods.  Sam, in particular, was trying to explain the technical aspects about how the Stargate functioned.

“Daniel, Carter,” Jack called out quietly.  To the others, he spoke, “Excuse us a moment,” and then walked away several yards to talk privately.  “Any suggestions?”

“We could offer them sanctuary on Earth,” Daniel proposed.

“We don't know much about these folks yet,” Jack responded, clearly indicating his lack of trust for the stranded trio.

“Or, we could fix their ship,” Sam suggested in response to the colonel's hesitation.  ~It might be fun: a girl can always use a challenge.~  Noting the incredulous look on Jack's face, she continued, “I'm just saying it's possible.  If all they need is fuel, then maybe we can find an Earth equivalent.  I may be able to recharge their batteries using a naquadah generator.  I'd have to take a look at the technology.”

Jack took off his sunglasses and wiped his face with his hand while asking, “And why would we do this?”

~I don't think he'd buy the 'I just wanna some fun' bit, so let's try ...~ Sam began, switching from her mental thoughts to a verbal reply.  “So I can take a look at the technology.  They seem to have space flight capabilities beyond our own, and maybe they'd be grateful.  Who knows what else they may have to offer?”

“Jack, you're acting like they're enemies or something,” Daniel observed.

“Something's not quite right,” Jack confided quietly.

“You can't condemn them on a hunch,” the archaeologist put forth.  “We've helped others without knowing *anything* about them.”

“And gotten our butts bit in the process,” Jack replied, earning him a scowl from his soulmate.

“Until or unless we know something to the contrary, we should try and help them,” Daniel asserted strongly.  Sighing, he said more lightly, “Besides, maybe Sam can learn something about their technology that will help us, like ... weapons, or something.”

“I think it's possible, Sir,” Sam agreed enthusiastically.  ~Good thinking, Daniel.~

“Okay,” the colonel relented.  ~They want to play, we'll play, for a while.~  “We charge by the hour; no flat rate for these kids,” he quipped as the three headed over to rejoin the others.  **But watch out for the princess.**

**Jaaack!**

**Danny, you know how you get with these alien women,** the older man replied just as they reached the others.

**You're impossible,** Daniel replied before tuning into what Teal'c was saying.

“The Celts were formidable warriors in their time.  Their descendants may make valuable allies,” Teal'c noted.

“You've seen 'Braveheart' too often,” Jack stated, looking at the Jaffa.  Focusing on the stranded trio, he continued, “But that doesn't mean we're not going to help you folks out.  Carter has to have a closer look at your ship.  Worst case scenario, you end up on Earth.”

“Colonel, thank you,” Corso acknowledged.  “We'd like to see your world and learn more about the Stargate.  If you could get our ship going, our first priority would be to get home.”

“Let's take a look,” Sam urged, heading over towards the ship.  ~I'm hoping for something new and exciting.~

Jack followed Teal'c, who headed for the edge of the woods, where he stopped and began to tune into the sounds of the forest.

“T?”

“I do not know, O'Neill.”

“Keep me posted,” Jack requested.  ~We both have that same feeling, and that means trouble.  I really don't trust these people.~

“Indeed.”

====

~Okay, it's not just that my peaceful day came to an abrupt halt, but what's with the princess?  Granted, she's not the vulnerable type, but she's eyeing Danny, and, blast it, she's still a damsel in distress.~

Jack was watching Daniel and Reynard talk.  He had no clue what they were discussing, but his lover had smiled, as had Reynard.  Clearly, they had discovered some common bond.

**Jack, calm down.**

The older man blinked, surprised by the unexpected non-verbal communication.

**I don't have to be looking at you to know you're staring at me.  I can feel your eyes boring into the back of my head.  She's not Alice, she's not a princess, and she's not helpless.  I'm just trying to learn more about her.  Go talk to Teal'c or something,** Daniel ordered, hearing the verbal groan his soulmate had made in response.  ~Impossible, but I love him.~

====

Jack wandered around for a few minutes, but then he followed 'orders' and approached Teal'c, who remained on watch at the edge of the woods.

“Still?” Jack questioned.

“There is something out there, O'Neill,” Teal'c responded.

Suddenly, Reynard raised her weapon and shouted, “Move!  Move!”  She quickly fired into the woods, just missing one of the aliens.  “Drop low!”

A firefight ensued, during which Pender shot one of the aliens in the back as he tried to limp away from the area, having already been wounded in the leg by Jack.

~What was that all about?~ Jack thought angrily.  ~Why'd he kill him?~

Then the other alien fired at Reynard, wounding her in the arm.

Inside the ship, Corso engaged a device that resulted in a high-pitched whine.  The alien screamed in pain and quickly ran away.

**Danny?**

**I'm okay.  You?**

**Yeah, fine,** Jack answered, turning his attention back to the just ended battle.

After Corso turned off the device, Daniel and the others went to Reynard's aid, while Jack and Teal'c got up off the ground and checked on the condition of the downed alien.

“He is dead, O'Neill.”

Aware that Pender had followed, Jack questioned exasperatedly, “What was that all about?”

“These guys have been hunting us from the moment we crashed,” Pender answered.

“With your own weapon?” Jack asked pointedly.  ~Something is just not right here.~

Corso claimed the aliens had killed five of his crew, actually skinning them alive and hanging them up in trees.  He knew nothing about who the aliens were, however, but suggested they were probably coming through the Stargate.  He hadn't told SG-1 about the aliens because it had been a while since they'd attacked, and he thought they'd gone or just lost interest in them.

With Reynard in need of medical treatment, the plan was for Sam and Daniel to accompany the woman back to Earth, while Jack and Teal'c would remain on the planet, since Corso wanted to continue working on the repairs for the Sebrus.

====

Leaving Teal'c with Corso and Pender at the ship, Jack walked with the others towards the Stargate.

**You're letting me take the princess back to Earth, while you stay here?** Daniel mused.

**Should I change my mind?** Jack asked, taking a look behind them as part of his constant surveying of their surroundings.

**No, no,** Daniel responded.  **Actually, Babe, I'm kinda proud of you.  You normally aren't this ...**  He paused, his inward smile turning into a frown.  His lover wanted him gone for a reason.  **Jack, what are you thinking?**

**I'm thinking you can't judge a book by its cover.**

**A cliché?**

**In this case, maybe.  Something's hinky here, and we need to get to the bottom of it.**  Jack waited a moment and then added, **But careful with the princess warrior.  She's been strutting her stuff for you all day.**

**She has not.**

**Daniel, open your eyes.  I didn't say you were responding to it, but she is doing it.  Pay attention.**

Suspiciously, the archaeologist queried, **Jack, are you sending me back because you're trying to keep me safe?**

**No.  Okay, yes, but there's more to it, and I think you know what I'm saying here,** the older man replied frankly.

**Yeah, I do.**  With the Stargate in sight, Daniel warned, **Be careful, Babe.**

**You, too,** Jack responded.

====

At the SGC, while Reynard was being treated in the infirmary, Daniel and Sam met in the briefing room to discuss the situation with General Hammond.

“Their home planet is called Hebridan.  By the sounds of it, their ancestors might have come from somewhere near the Outer Hebrides Islands off the coast of Scotland,” Daniel stated, after pointing out the area on a map and then walking over to the table and sitting down.

“Based on its position in space, I've determined that it doesn't have a Gate; at least, not one that we're aware of,” Sam added.

“Then how did a society of humans evolve there?” Hammond asked curiously.

“It's possible the Goa'uld kept a Gate there as long as it suited them and then took it with them when they left,” Sam answered.

“The real mystery is how their society managed to advance so far beyond Earth's level of technology,” Daniel stated.

“These engines are *way* ahead of anything that we could build.  They use liquid nitrogen to fuel an ion propulsion system.  Now, personally, I can't wait to see how they generate enough ...” Sam spoke energetically.

~Sorry, Major, no time for a technological prattle,~ Hammond thought.  “Your evaluation of these people, Major?”

~Oops, prattling,~ Sam realized inwardly.  “Cautiously optimistic, Sir,” she answered.

Looking at the photos of the Sebrus that were strewn on the table, the major general asked, “Can you fix it?”

“If I can recharge their batteries using the naquadah generator, and there are no other system problems resulting from the crash, then ...”

“Take whatever you need.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

“And SG-15,” Hammond ordered.  ~Jack stayed on the planet.  I have a hunch, he has a hunch.~

“Yes, Sir.”

“Doctor Jackson, see if you can learn anything more from Tanis Reynard,” Hammond requested, getting a nod in response.

====

On the planet, as they stood by the dead alien's body, Jack confronted Corso and Pender about the aliens.  He still had a funny feeling that things weren't quite what they seemed, especially when Pender made a sarcastic comment about Jack having only injured the alien he'd fired at.

Then Sam returned, letting her CO know that SG-15 was guarding the Gate.  With Teal'c's help in carrying the equipment from the Gate to the valley, she could continue her repairs on the Sebrus.

As he watched his teammates walk away, Jack thought, ~Wonder what Danny is doing?~

====

~Don't trust the princess,~ Daniel reminded himself as he entered the infirmary.  ~Stop sounding like Jack.  She's just a woman, who's been stranded on a planet and injured in a firefight.~  He watched as Reynard became aware of his presence, turning her head to see him and smiling.  “How are you?”

“Hey.  Fine, since they stopped the bleeding.  Painkillers aren't bad, either; should be up and around pretty quick.”

“Good,” Daniel replied, his arms folded across his chest as he looked down at the female patient.

“I guess I owe you,” the black-haired woman stated.  ~He is cute.~

“No, not at all,” the archaeologist responded.  ~Okay, she's smiling at me.  Why am I having Shyla flashbacks?~  After an awkward moment, he inquired, “So, looking forward to seeing anybody when you get back?”

“I hate to sound like a hopeless case, but my parents died when I was young, and I've been serving with Captain Corso since I graduated flight school ten years ago, so ... He and Pender -- they're like my family, especially after all we've been through.”  Reynard took a deep breath, smiled, and then shifted to lean over on her left side.  “So, tell me more about the Stargate.  How does it work exactly?”

“Basically, it uses a dimension outside of our known time and space that we call subspace and creates a wormhole, which is like a tunnel between two connecting Gates,” Daniel answered.

“And how many Stargates are there?” Reynard asked.

“A lot, actually.  They, uh, go to some very interesting places,” Daniel answered.  “There's a lot to ... to explore out there.”

“And there are other humans out there like us?”

“All over: some primitive, some advanced, some non-humans, as you're already aware of; some are good, some are bad, some are very ... very bad, but, all in all, it's pretty amazing.”

“Yeah, sounds like it.”

“When you get settled back on Hebridan, we'd be happy to introduce you and your people to some of our friends,” Daniel added.  “We've learned there's a lot to ... learn from our allies.”

“That would be nice.  I know Captain Corso would like to learn more about these other worlds, and I'd like to learn more about you ... and this place.”

“Well, maybe tomorrow, if you're up and around, I can take you on a tour; show you around,” the archaeologist offered.

“I'd like that, Daniel,” Reynard replied invitingly.

“Good.  I'll see you then.  Goodnight.”

Reynard just smiled as the archaeologist backed away and then exited the infirmary.

~I'm not sure when I became skeptical, but I am.  Maybe it's because Jack and I were joking about princesses on the planet, but there's just something ... something,~ Daniel speculated as he headed for the commissary to get a bite to eat. ~Besides, maybe I'm wrong, and she's being sincere.~

The scientist let out a sigh, bowing his head as he walked with his hands in his pockets.  Somehow, he just knew he wasn't wrong.  He needed a plan, something that would confirm, one way or the whether, whether the stranded trio were sincere or not.

====

On the planet, Sam and Corso were in Sebrus' engine room, working on the power couplings.  The man claimed to be amazed by Sam's comfort level in working with alien technology, and their exchange was a bit flirtatious.

“So, let me get this straight here, Major,” Corso began.  “You're a ... you're an officer in your home world's military, you're a scientist, an explorer, and, apparently, you're a pretty fair mechanic.”

“And I make a mean soufflé,” Sam teased.

“Sorry?”

“Oh, it's, it's something you eat.  It's very difficult to make.”

“Ah, well, add to that list funny, charming, and beautiful,” Corso responded.  Noting Sam's look in response, he spoke, “I'm sorry, I didn't mean to offend you.  See, rule number one when you're stranded on an alien planet and someone offers to fix your ship, flatter them profusely.”

Pointing to a piece of equipment, the blonde requested, “Pass me that.”

“Yeah,” Corso said as he did as requested.

“Thank you, and continue at will.”

“Colonel O'Neill doesn't trust us, does he?” Corso questioned, changing the subject.

“Well, trust is something that you have to earn with us, and Colonel O'Neill is less concerned with showing his distrust.”

“So, why are you helping us?” the supposedly stranded captain inquired.

“Well, it's the only way you make new friends.  Take a chance on someone and hope they don't make you regret it,” Sam replied.

====

Elsewhere on the planet, Jack became frustrated when, having the alien covered in the woods, Pender opened fire, allowing the creature to escape.

“We can't let it get away,” Pender insisted.

“I was thinking of taking it alive.”

“Why would you do that?” the stranded man asked.

“Because that's how you gain intel on an enemy you know little about!” an agitated Jack exclaimed.  ~That's twice now.  I don't trust this guy one bit.~

“I know all I need to know, Colonel.  Those things get a hold of you or one of your friends, you will, too,” Pender claimed and then took off after the alien.

~Right,~ Jack sighed.  ~Daniel, I hope you're keeping an eye on that princess.  Hinky: this is definitely hinky.~

====

“We're gonna settle in for the night, Sir,” Jack reported over the radio after the Stargate had activated.  “We'll continue searching in the morning.”

“Would you like another team for backup, Colonel?” Hammond inquired.

“No, Sir, I think we've got enough,” Jack answered, glancing over at Pender.

“Very well.  You can let the Hebridians know that Tanis Reynard is recovering nicely.  Doctor Fraiser released her from the infirmary earlier, but she'll be staying the night.  Expect her back sometime tomorrow.”

~Staying the night?  I'm here, and she's there ... with Danny?~ Jack whined.  “Daniel.”

“Excuse me, Colonel?”

“I said, what about Daniel, Sir.  How's his research coming?” Jack questioned.

“We're meeting tomorrow at 1000 hours for a progress report.  I'd like to know how Major Carter is coming along at that point as well.”

“Yes, Sir.  We'll report in at 0900,” Jack responded.

“Watch your back, Son,” Hammond said.

“You, too, Sir,” Jack replied quietly.  “O'Neill out.”  He looked around, thinking about Reynard being on Earth with his lover.  ~Princess warrior: that's what she is.  Crap.  Watch your six, Danny.  She's after it, or something.~

====

After eating dinner, Daniel walked around his apartment, staring at the artifacts that were still hanging on the walls and adorning various bookshelves and furniture pieces.  He could clearly recall where and how each piece had been acquired.  He glanced over at his piano, recalling the couple of Valentine Days when he'd played the instrument for his lover.  Hitting a key and then forming a chord for a prolonged moment, he then walked outside, stepping down onto his small balcony.

With his hands gripping the edge of the balcony, Daniel took a breath and quietly asked the world, “When did it get to be so lonely here?  I loved this place when we found it.”

With his lover off-world, this was a good night to stay at the apartment, to give it the 'lived in' look that was still necessary because of the military's position on same sex relationships.

Going back inside, Daniel pulled out some of his expedition journals, the top secret ones in which he wrote about his experiences with SG-1.

~I probably should take these to Jack's, but then we couldn't explain them, if they were ever found there.~

Though not an easy memory, Daniel decided to read about the mission to P3R-636, when he and the team had first met Shyla, the first and most deadly 'princess' in Jack's eyes.  In the colonel's view, she'd single-handedly been responsible for him, Teal'c, and Sam almost dying in a naquadah mine, while addicting Daniel to the sarcophagus at the same time.  Recovery from the experience, especially Daniel's drug-like addiction, had taken quite a toll on the team.

When he was done reading, Daniel closed the book and leaned his head back, resting against the sofa cushion.  He blinked and swallowed as he stared upward at the ceiling.  Because of his choices on Shyla's planet, he'd almost gotten his lover and teammates killed.

“I believe in people; I'll always believe in people, but ... I have to be smarter than I was with Shyla, but I can't hate her like you do, Jack.  She was just ...”  Daniel paused, not because of any doubts he had about his conviction, but because he realized that he needed to stand back a bit and look at the broader picture.  “Jack's alone with Corso and Pender.  I can't let him down.”

Returning the journal to its proper place on the shelf, Daniel's guilt over his yet-to-be-implemented plan eased slightly.

~Remember, if Reynard's just a ... princess, she won't take the bait.  Then I can feel guilty about doubting her.  That'll be okay.  I'll take that guilt because it will mean I was right and that we made the right choice to help them; and ... Jack will be home, safe.~  With a sigh, Daniel added, ~I'd rather have that guilt than ... this.~

The somewhat conflicted archaeologist headed for bed.  Deep inside, he knew the plan was the right decision.  Down deep, he also knew Jack was right this time.  Still, he hoped for the reverse.  It was just his nature, and he really didn't want that to change.

====

The next morning, Daniel was in his office, examining the photograph he'd taken of the writing that was on the side of the ship.  In front of his monitor, he'd opened a book to reference information on the ancient Celts.

Suddenly aware of a presence at the doorway, Daniel looked up and greeted, “General.”

“I was in the area,” Hammond responded.  He walked over to the desk and asked, “Is there anything more?”

“I was just looking for some reference on the name of the ship.  There's a slightly different spelling, but, basically, it's the same,” Daniel answered as he pointed to a page in the book which had a picture of a galleon named The Ceberus of Dublin, which it labeled having been built in 1668.

“Is it significant?”

“I'm not sure,” Daniel responded thoughtfully, still staring at the book.  “Maybe.”

“You have doubts about these people,” Hammond surmised.

~Doubts?~  Daniel let out a small groan as he sat back for a second.  “I don't know if it's doubts, or what it is.  They haven't really done anything to cause us to mistrust them.”

“At 0625 hours, there was a security breach in the main computer system. Someone tried to gain access from a remote terminal in the infirmary,” Hammond revealed.

“You think Reynard tried to hack into it?” Daniel asked.

“Do you believe she's capable?” the bald-headed man asked.

“I don't know.  It's possible,” Daniel admitted.  “There's just something that doesn't seem right.”  He sighed, “Maybe we're so used to dealing with treachery, that we're seeing it everywhere we look.”

“Well, I'm on my way to question her about it.”

“Yes, Sir,” Daniel responded as the general began to walk away.  ~Wait a minute.  It's time for the hare to get the jump on Alice.  Jack's right.  She's too smooth.  Gawd, am I becoming skeptical?  Cut it out, Jackson.  Focus on the task and worry about your thought process later.  It's time to put the plan in motion and see what happens.~  “General?”  When the man paused and turned around in the doorway to face him, Daniel spoke, “Uh, I have another idea.”

Walking back to the desk, Hammond requested, “Let's hear it.”

“Bait,” Daniel answered simply.  “If she takes it, we have our proof.  If she doesn't, we need to take a deep breath and reconsider our constant skepticism these days.”

“What do you have in mind?”

====

“A little home away from home here,” Jack observed when he and Teal'c came upon a campsite during their search for the alien.

“If the hunters used the Stargate, why set up camp here?” Teal'c questioned.

“That's a pretty fair question,” the colonel replied as the two explored the camp.

“You also do not believe the Hebridans' story?” Teal'c asked.

“That alien I caught sneaking around was just about to tell me something when Pender shot him,” Jack answered.

“These appear to have come from the Sebrus,” the Jaffa stated.

“Yeah,” Jack acknowledged as he emptied out a bag of items that reminded him of an alien version of dog tags.

At that moment, gunfire sounded, and Pender notified Jack that he'd gotten the alien.

Jack and Teal'c hurried to the area, surprised when the alien was not there.  After Pender insisted he'd wounded the creature, the three of them went on with their search.

====

Back on the ship, Sam successfully hooked up the equipment, causing the lights to go on.  Next on the agenda was to boot up the system.  First, though, Corso pulled out a bottle of alcohol, offering it to Sam, who refused because she was on duty.

“All right.  Well, I'll have one for both of us.  To friendship, and to you, Major,” Corso stated, taking a long drink.

“You can call me Sam.  That's my first name.”

“Sam.  It's pretty,” Corso opined.

“Not really.  It's short for Samantha.”

“Even prettier.  What does it mean -- Samantha?” the man asked.

“My father wanted a boy,” Sam mused, smiling.  “What about you?  Does your name mean anything?”

“I was named for my Uncle Aden, who died swimming drunk across a river on a dare; and Corso, my family name, means 'smells like a dead bird' in Ancient Hebridian.  Yeah, we're a real high class family.”

“Well, I'm sure they'll be overjoyed to see you again,” Sam supposed as the two continued to chat.

====

At the SGC, with two guards behind them, Daniel and Reynard were taking a tour of the facility.

“This place is amazing,” Reynard stated, her right arm in a sling that was wrapped around her neck.

“How are you feeling?  I mean, uh, if you're not up to this right now, we could ...” Daniel trailed off as he twisted around and motioned back the way they came.

Understanding the archaeologist's intent, Reynard responded, “I'm fine, thanks.”

The two entered Daniel's office, where several golden goblets were visible on his desk.

“This is my office.  It's not usually this ... messy.  Sorry,” Daniel spoke quietly as he began to gather up the goblets.  “Just cataloguing some artifacts we found on P4X-131.  It's an alpha numeric designation we assign to the different planets we go to.”

“They're beautiful,” Reynard commented about the distinctive glasses as she walked closer to the table.

“They're made of ... gold.  I don't know if that means anything on your world or not, but it's really valuable here,” Daniel spoke, adding a bit of excitement to his tone that normally would not be there, given the topic.  “It's, uh, great, and the best part is that the galaxy is full of it -- gold.”

As Daniel walked past Reynard, she grabbed his arm, spinning him around and kissing him, while raising her left hand to his neck, pulling him closer.  In his surprise, Daniel's hold on the goblets loosened, and they fell to the floor.

~Okay, that wasn't part of the plan,~ Daniel thought nervously.  ~Wrong bait.~

“Sorry,” Reynard spoke, seeing the man's hesitation.

“It's okay.  I don't think that any of it is broken,” Daniel replied as he picked up the goblets and put them on a shelf.  ~Okay, go with it.  This time, Princess, I have the advantage because I know; okay I think I know, that you're after something.  Crap!  I'm sounding like Jack again.  “You just, uh, caught me ... off guard.”

“I thought it was obvious.”

“Uh, no.  No.  What?”

“How much I wanted to kiss you since we first met,” Reynard admitted.

“That.  Oh, right, that's, uh ... that's kind of obvious,” Daniel replied.  ~No, wasn't expecting that.  Stay focused.  Geez, how can I turn this around?~

“Look, I'm really sorry.  If you don't find me attractive ...”

“No.  Hey, look, you're ... you're attractive.  It's just, well, we ... we just met, and you're ... you're injured, and the thought ne...it never really crossed my mind,” Daniel stammered, still fighting his nervousness from the unexpected kiss.  ~Who knew you'd actually kiss me?  A little infatuation, yes, but to act on it so quickly?  I've got a girl; I mean, a guy.  Geez, princesses, genuine or otherwise, make me nervous.~

“I hope you don't think this is some kind of savior complex.  You know, I fall for the guy who saved my life, because I thought you were very cute way before I got shot,” Reynard stated as the phone began to ring.

~Act nervous.  Nervous works.  What act?  I *am* nervous.  This isn't my normal persona.~

As the phone continued to ring, Reynard asked, “Are you supposed to do something about that?”

“Oh, yeah, right, right,” Daniel responded, answering the phone and briefly speaking to the caller.  “It was General Hammond,” he explained after hanging up.  “He wants to see me.  Uh,” he began, looking around his office, “Do you think you'd be okay, alone here for a few minutes?  I won't be gone too long, I don't think,” he added with a shy smile.

“Sure,  My two friends are just out in the hall there,” Reynard replied.

~I wonder if this is happening too easily,~ Daniel pondered for a moment.  “So, we'll talk more later.”

“Okay,” Reynard acknowledged, waiting until Daniel had disappeared from sight before approaching the computer.

~Too easy, maybe?~ Daniel wondered as he walked to the major general's office. ~Well, a true princess wouldn't kiss me so fast.  Okay, Shyla did.  Crap, am I wrong?  No, no, I'm not.  Jack was right.  I'm right.  We all felt it.  Well, I think we all felt it.  Okay, so I know I did, and Jack did.  Teal'c always does.  Wonder if Sam did?~

The archaeologist stopped for a moment, leaning against the wall.  He smiled nervously at a passing airman.

~Jackson, she's just a woman, not a System Lord.  As Jack would say, 'get a grip'.~

====

Onboard the ship, with Corso outside for a while, Sam continued with the reboot procedure and made a startling discovery -- the Sebrus was a prison transport vessel.  According to the distress message that had been sent, the ship was hit by asteroid storm and thrown off the course.

~And that's probably the only thing you've told us that's true,~ Sam thought about what Corso and the others had told the team.  ~I hope Daniel's okay.  If these three are prisoners, they could be capable of anything.~

====

Jack and Teal'c had separated just slightly as they looked for the alien, along with Pender, who had disappeared completely from the colonel's sight, in spite of Jack's orders for him to remain within visual range.

As Teal'c looked around, he became aware of a presence.  Quickly, he turned, aiming his staff weapon at the alien, who was already aiming his weapon at the Jaffa.

Able to get behind the alien undetected, Jack pointed his P-90 at the elusive being and warned, “All right.  Let's not lose our heads here.”

“I mean you no harm,” the alien responded.

~Speaks English: that's good,~ Jack reasoned, thinking the possibilities for a peaceful resolution had now increased.  “You're pointing that thing at my friend's head.”

Slowly, the alien lowered his weapon and placed it on the ground while pleading, “Please, don't shoot me.  Whatever you have been told, it is a lie.”

“Is that true?” Jack asked.

“I am Warrick.  I am the captain of the Sebrus.  Please, hear my side of the story before you kill me.”

“We're not gonna kill you,” Jack responded as he walked over to stand by Teal'c, gently kicking the weapon towards his teammate.

“You shot my first officer,” Warrick accused.

~Okay, there's that.~  Jack and Teal'c lowered their weapons, after which the colonel explained, “I was just trying to wound him, and, as I recall, you started things.”

As Jack talked, Teal'c bent over and picked up Warrick's weapon.

“We thought we had no choice.  We had to stop them from enlisting your help,” Warrick informed the two who were aliens to him.

“And who are they, according to you?” the Jaffa asked.

“Escaped prisoners.  The Sebrus was a prison transport vessel.  Three years ago, my crew and I were transporting Aden Corso and two of his accomplices to a prison colony.  We hit an asteroid storm and began to lose power.  Our only hope of survival was to set down on this planet.”

~Crap, Danny!  Your princess is a friggin' escaped prisoner,~ Jack thought as he listened to the alien.  “And then?” he prompted.

“We had no choice but to take them out of transport stasis.  The ship had insufficient power to sustain their lives.”

“How many were there, of you?”

“My crew was eight, including myself.  We watched them in shifts.  My first officer and I were looking for food and water when they overpowered the men guarding them and killed them in cold blood.  Corso then took over the ship and used its defenses against us.  We tried many times to retake the Sebrus, but, recently, we were just lucky to stay alive.  They hunted us like wild animals.”

Biting his lip as he looked towards Teal'c, Jack evaluated the story he was hearing, comparing it to the one he'd already heard from the stranded trio.  He had definite misgivings about the three people, and their actions had been suspicious in his opinion.

Just as Teal'c glanced back towards the colonel, Warrick implored, “You must believe me.  They are the worst that Hebridan has to offer.  No matter what, they must not be allowed to go free.”

~I wonder.~  Jack pulled out the photo he'd found the day before.  Holding it out so the alien could see it, he asked, “Who's that?”  He couldn't help but see the emotion on Warrick's face as he took possession of the picture and stared at it longingly.  ~Okay, that's me looking at Danny.~

Warrick told Jack and Teal'c that the woman was his wife, Athea.  He explained that his people, the Serrakin, had helped to liberate the Hebridan from the Goa'uld thousands of years ago.  In fact, it was they who had brought advanced technology to Hebridan.  The two races lived in complete harmony, with just a few exceptions.

~I'm believin' him.  He's not lying.  Crap.~

At that point, Sam called out over the radio, telling Jack that they needed to talk.  She'd spoken with Corso about the vessel being a prison transport, and he now claimed that he was one of the crew who had freed the prisoners during the storm in an attempt to save their lives.  He claimed the prisoners then turned on the crew.  She wasn't sure that she believed that story, and she didn't want to talk about it over the radio.

Jack told her he was on his way, unaware that as soon as Sam signed off, Pender knocked her out and took her zat.

====

While the discoveries were being made on the planet, Daniel and Reynard returned to the planet.  Major Pierce attempted to advise Jack of their return, but there was no response to his call.

“Must be out of range,” Pierce stated.

“We'll see him at the ship,” Daniel replied, smiling as he and Reynard walked past the major and headed for the Sebrus.

====

“So, you're the one on your planet who figured out how the Stargate works?” Reynard inquired as she and Daniel walked through the woods.  “That must make you one of the leaders on Earth.”

“Well, uh ...” Daniel paused, not because of his shyness in responding, but because he thought he saw something disturbing in the valley below.  Moving closer, he realized he was right.  “Sam!” he called out, recognizing that his friend was lying on the ground in the distance.

The archaeologist ran quickly ran towards his friend, only to be zatted by Corso, who then advised Reynard that the ship had been repaired, and they could leave.  In response, Reynard suggested they forget about Hebridan and focus on what was beyond the Stargate instead.  Corso listened intently as Reynard filled him in on all that she'd learned about the Stargate and its potential, as related to their self-interests.

====

Approaching the clearing where the ship was grounded, Jack, Teal'c, and Warrick saw Sam, lying on the ground, tied up and with tape across her mouth.  The alien recognized she'd been left there as a trap and volunteered to go to the ship.  When he got close, the defense mechanism engaged, and the loud noise went off.  Ignoring the pain, he managed to get inside the vessel to shut it off.

Immediately, Jack and Teal'c hurried down the hill to untie Sam and remove the tape from her mouth.

“They have Daniel, Sir,” Sam stated urgently as soon as she could speak.  “They're gonna try to escape through the Stargate.”

Leaving Teal'c to stay with the still-groggy Sam, Jack headed towards the Stargate, communicating, **Danny, if you can hear me, I'm on my way.**  He groaned at the lack of response.  Of course, the couple's special communication wasn't science, and it usually didn't work if too much distance separated them.  ~Hang in there, Love.~

====

“You do know you won't get away with this,” Daniel spoke as the three prisoners forced him to walk towards the Gate.  ~I have to say it.  It's obligatory in these situations.~

“They'll never catch us once we get to where we're going,” Corso spoke confidently.

“You said the gold was all over the galaxy,” Reynard began.  “It's a big galaxy, Daniel, and now that we know about the Stargate, it's going to make everything easier.”

“Definitely not a princess,” the archaeologist mumbled.

“What was that?” Reynard questioned.

“Just thinking about fairytales,” Daniel explained cryptically.

“Okay, we're there.  Just be quiet, and we'll let you go once we get where we're going,” Corso advised Daniel just before approaching the Stargate.  Seeing the SG team guarding the Gate, he called out, “Hey there, guys.  Why don't you put those weapons down?”

Pierce looked at Daniel, who gave him a tiny nod, wanting the major to go along.

“You best do that now, or he dies,” Corso threatened.

Pierce looked at Daniel again and noticed the archaeologist motion with his hand, yet another signal that seemed to indicate that SG-15 shouldn't argue.  Though Reluctant, the major and his team relaxed their weapons.

“All we need to do is dial up the Gate and go through.  No one needs to get hurt, all right?” Corso stated.

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say,” Pierce responded, still focused on Daniel, who was very calm and steady.

“That's right, whatever I say.  Reynard?” Corso called out expectantly.

~Maybe I'd better make sure she took the bait.~  As Reynard began dialing the DHD, Daniel asked, “Uh, just ... out of curiosity, where did you get that address, from my office?”

“Yeah,” the woman confirmed.

~Bingo, as Jack would say,~ Daniel thought.  ~Keep playing,~ he urged himself.  ~Maybe I should sound disappointed or something.~  “And everything else you said is a ...”

“Not everything.  You are cute,” Reynard stated, glancing over at the archaeologist just before the Stargate engaged.

~Oh,~ Daniel expressed with pursed lips as he cocked his head slightly in response.  ~So, she was playing me when she kissed me, so the kiss doesn't count.  Or, she did say I was cute, so maybe it was real, and Jack's Mr. Jealousy will ... or maybe I should just stopping thinking about this and focus.~

“All right, let's go,” Corso ordered.

Just as the prisoners and their hostage reached the steps to the Gate, Jack aimed his P-90 at them and called out, “All right, that's far enough.”

Seeing Jack, SG-15 also raised their weapons, while the stranded trio turned around and brandished their own weapons in the direction of the SGC personnel.

**Jack, it's okay.  Trust me,** Daniel called out, ignoring the hold on him that Pender had.

“Don't come any closer,” Corso warned.

“Back off, or I'll kill him,” Pender threatened.

“Jack, just let them go,” Daniel spoke in a calm voice.  **It's okay.  Really.**

“Nobody's going anywhere,” Jack replied.  **Daniel, what in Netu are you talking about?**

“Really.  I'll be fine.  It's not worth the risk,” Daniel called out for everyone to hear.  **I'll see you in a few minutes,** he communicated while also giving a nod of his head as well as a small motion with his hand.

Jack wanted to ignore the plea from his lover, but he didn't sense any apprehension at all from Daniel.  He had to trust him, which, of course, he did.

**You sure?** the colonel questioned.

**Absolutely.  The hare is about to get the best of Alice.**

**Daniel, Alice isn't a princess.**

**Neither is Reynard,** Daniel replied.  **Jack, it's okay.  Let's get this over with.**

“Let 'em go,” Jack ordered.  ~He'd better know what he's talking about.~

“Sir?” Pierce questioned.

“Let 'em go,” the colonel repeated.

“Wise choice,” Corso spoke.

Unseen by his captors, Daniel keyed in an alert code on his GDO that was hidden under his green BDU jacket and then walked through the wormhole with the band of prisoners.

“Sir, why'd we do that?” Pierce questioned.

Jack thought for a moment and then answered, “Daniel said we should.”  After a second, he added, “He inputted a code with his GDO.”

Pierce nodded, but didn't like what had just occurred.  Then again, neither did Jack, code or no code.

“A code?” the major questioned suddenly.

“We'll have to wait and see,” Jack responded, hoping for the best, but knowing that he wouldn't feel secure until the Stargate engaged again, and he could be reunited with his soulmate.

====

Meanwhile, Daniel smiled as he emerged from the event horizon and just kept on walking, right down the ramp of the SGC.  The prisoners were stunned and had no choice but to surrender, seeing the personnel and weaponry currently aimed at their persons.

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Earth,” Hammond greeted a bit smugly.

“You planted the address?” Reynard asked the archaeologist.

“Call it intuition,” Daniel answered.  ~It's the princess effect,~ he thought, watching as the trio was led out of the gate room.

“Well done,” Hammond praised.

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel replied.  “Uh, Sir, I should go back now.  Jack ... uh, they'll be worried.”

Hammond nodded and called out to the control room, “Dial the planet.”

“Thank you,” Daniel said, smiling slightly as he waited for the kawoosh of the Stargate.  A moment later, he was back on the planet.  “Hey, Jack,” he said nonchalantly, a big smile on his face.

“You seem to be in one piece,” the colonel observed.

“All in a day's work,” Daniel replied.  “General Hammond was waiting on the other side.  I'll explain on the way back to the ship.”  Looking over at the major, he said, “Thank you for listening to me, and for your concern.”

As Pierce nodded in acknowledgement, the lovers began to walk together towards the valley where the Sebrus was.

“There's someone you'll be interested to meet,” Jack stated.

“Who?”

“Alien named Warrick; the Sebrus is his ship.”

“Oh,” Daniel replied as he and Jack compared some of what each had individually learned about the prisoners.

====

Later that day, with the Sebrus ready to go, the prisoners were returned to Warrick's custody, and he was about to begin his journey home.

“Everybody locked up okay?” Jack asked the alien after moving a piece of Sam's equipment away from the vessel.

“They're all in transport stasis.  Doctor Jackson, I never did ask you how you figured out who Reynard really was,” Warrick said curiously.

“Just a feeling, really, although, I did come across something interesting while I was researching the name of your ship, the Sebrus.  There was another ship built by the descendents of the ancient Celts on Earth, and it was called the Ceberus.  Coincidentally, it was designed specifically to transport convicts to a penal colony. With the names being so similar, I thought that there might be some significance in Celtic history and, uh ...” Daniel responded.

“The meaning of the word never changed,” Teal'c surmised.

“Incredible,” Jack responded.

“Well, that, and I've always been suspicious of a girl who kisses on the first date,” Daniel spoke lightly, deciding to have a bit of fun with his lover.

Jack stared at his life partner in surprise.  His Mr. Jealousy began to emerge, when he suddenly contained the green-eyed monster.  There was something different about the way his lover had made his jest.  He was teasing.  It was fun and lighthearted.  It was free.

~Danny, you *are* believing in our forever.  Every day, you believe it a little bit more.  I don't know what happened with that woman, but it meant nothing, and you'll end up telling me all about it.  Look at your face -- peaceful and calm.  You're teasing me.  You feel *that* confident about us today.~  Inwardly, Jack smiled.  ~We're both a little freer right now than we were yesterday.~

“Colonel, I want to thank you for everything that you have done, but, mostly, for trusting me,” Warrick spoke from his heart, drawing the colonel out of his silent thoughts.

“It's my pleasure.”

“Have a safe trip home,” Daniel called out.

“Thank you,” Warrick said, nodding at the team and then entering his ship.

“There he goes,” Jack called out a couple of minutes later.  He looked over at his second and asked, “Carter, what about your doohickey thingy?”

Sam lowered her head, trying not to laugh, and responded, “If we have permission to stay, we could set up again for tonight.”

“Uh, we do have a mission to P4X-590 scheduled for tomorrow,” Daniel reminded.

“It's a quick turnaround, Sir, but there's no reason we can't take the readings tonight and still go on our mission to P4X-590.  It's not scheduled until 1300 hours, right?” Sam asked, looking at the archaeologist for confirmation.

“Right,” Daniel replied.

“I am content to stay and allow MajorCarter to conduct her tests,” Teal'c spoke.

“Me, too,” Daniel added.

“Okay, Carter, do your thing,” Jack said.  “Daniel and I will inform Hammond.”

“Do you have everything you need?” Daniel asked Sam.

“It's still at the test site,” Sam answered.

“We'll meet you there,” Jack stated, motioning for his lover to accompany him to the Stargate.

====

Halfway to their destination, having already snapped his P-90 to the side so that it wouldn't be in the way, Jack pulled his soulmate over to a tree, pressing his body into it while the lovers kissed.

Daniel's arms wrapped around his Love's neck as he smiled and gazed into Jack's eyes.

“I like it when Mr. Jealousy knows he doesn't need to be jealous,” Daniel spoke lightly.

“Well, we may have been joking about princesses, and maybe thinking about them helped us both to stay on guard, but I love you, Danny.  The last couple of days have been about freedom,” Jack replied.

“Freedom, as in being able to look at something other than four walls.”

“And the freedom to do this,” Jack said, kissing the other man again.

Daniel's fingers caressed his lover's neck as their lips locked together and their tongues danced in joy.

“That's my kind of freedom,” the younger man mused.  “I love you, too.”

“Danny, do you realize we have this whole planet to ourselves tonight?” Jack questioned, smiling smugly as his hands managed to find a bit of skin beneath his lover's black uniform shirt.

“Uh, and Sam and Teal'c.”

“They're gonna be very busy, and so will we, investigating a cave,” Jack responded.

“Jack, I haven't seen any caves on this planet yet.”

“Technicality.  There must someplace around here to get lost in for a few hours.”

Daniel grinned, shared another kiss with his lover, and promised, “We'll find a place, and a reason to ... go exploring.”

“I'll think of something.”  After another kiss, the lovers resumed their trip to the Stargate, with Daniel tucking his shirt back in and Jack pulling his P-90 into a more accessible position.  “Daniel.”

“Hmmm?”

“Tell me that you love me.”

Daniel chuckled, “I love you, Jack.”

“This is the life,” Jack sighed happily and then began to whistle and take in the beauty of the planet.  ~Sorry, Princesses of the universe, but he's all mine!~

~Sorry to any of the princesses still out there, but I'm taken -- happily, blissfully, forever taken,~ Daniel thought, not realizing how similar his thoughts were to those of his soulmate.

Another adventure had ended happily for Jack and Daniel.  Tonight, they'd sneak away for a more private retreat, one in which their nation of two would unite in their own kind of luminous layer, and one that would make the event in the planet's night sky pale in comparison.

~A love as sweet as ours will never fade away,~ Jack sang silently, knowing in the depths of his soul that he was right.  Nothing could ever deter his and Daniel's eternal love.  ~Nothing.~

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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