Come Rain or Come Shine

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  NC-17
Season:  2 - February 2-5, 1999
Spoilers:  Touchstone
Size:  79kb
Written:  November 30, December 1-5,7,9-10,27,31, 2007
Summary:  Some things people can always rely on, such as the sun rising and setting each day, Harry Maybourne being a thorn in SG-1's side, and Jack and Daniel, loving and being loved.
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Melissa, Tonya, Jo, Linda, Claudia, Carol!

Come Rain or Come Shine
by Orrymain

“Hammond wants an update,” Jack stated as he joined Daniel and Sam in the captain's lab.

“I still need to run a few more analyses,” Sam responded as she and the two men stood around her worktable.

“We did collect a lot of data on Madrona,” Daniel pointed out to his lover.

“I know,” Jack acknowledged.  “But it's been five weeks since we got back, and he wants recommendations.”

“That's easy, Sir,” Sam stated as she looked at her CO.  “We have to go back.”

“The weather thingy,” Jack guessed.

“The touchstone,” Sam stated, giving the correct name for the 'weather thingy' her commanding officer had just mentioned.  “It gives the Madronans complete control of their weather, Colonel.”

“Gotta love that,” Jack spoke in an upbeat tone.  He snapped his fingers as he said, “Just snap your finger and it's sunshine; snap it again and it's rain.”

Nodding, Daniel agreed, “They can take care of any needs they have: agricultural, recreational ...”  He shrugged, saying, “All they have to do is ... dial.”

“I'd like to get the patent on that thing,” Jack said with a cock of his head.

“You know, this could be the single most important piece of technology an SGC team has discovered to date,” Sam put forth excitedly.

“How'd they get this technology, though?” Daniel asked.  “I mean, as a people, they're pretty primitive.  There's no way their ancestors created that device.”

“Well, the team I've had working on this believes Madrona was terraformed about nine-hundred-years ago.  It's likely that whatever race did that, also left the weather device,” Sam speculated.

“In a statue?” Jack questioned.  “That's what I don't get.”

“Well, why not?” Daniel responded.  “The statue could be representative of some historic or mythical person from their past.”

“Some weather god?” the colonel queried.

“Maybe,” Daniel replied with a shrug.  “We'll probably never know for sure.  The, uh, biographical side of history on Madrona is pretty sketchy, but there probably was a reason they chose that image for the statue and then placed the weather device in its right hand.  It could also have some kind of religious significance.”

“Religious?” the colonel asked.

“On Madrona, the high priest controls the touchstone by turning a series of calibrated rings.  The fact that it's always been the high priest who's done that might indicate that was a rite or duty of a religious figure belonging to the race that terraformed the planet,” Daniel expounded.

“Sir, we do need more information,” Sam stated.

“Another trip to paradise?” Jack asked with a smile.

“Just think what we could do with the touchstone if we knew how to duplicate it?” Sam put forth, her crystal blue eyes alight with excitement at the possibility.

~Ewww, prattle theory time,~ Jack thought, not wanting to listen to the technobabble spiel he was certain the blonde was about to enter into.  “Okay, Kids,” he began, tapping on the tabletop, “Get your notes together by 2100, and we'll make the pitch to Hammond.”

“Another late night, Sir?” Sam joked about the lateness of the hour, intending for it to have been a joke.

“What?  You have a date, Carter?”

“No, Sir,” Sam answered, now a bit embarrassed by her attempted humor.

“We've got the night shift,” Jack spoke.

“We do?” Daniel questioned.

“Doesn't anyone around here read their memos?” the colonel asked.

“What memo?” the younger man asked skeptically.

A bit sheepishly, Jack asked, “Didn't I write it?  I could have sworn I did.”  Then he smiled innocently before growing serious and saying, “Carter, if this hotshot device is so important, I think Hammond should know about it.  He's on graveyard, so we are, too.  Any objections?”

Sam nodded and started to get back to work.

“Hey, where's Teal'c?” Daniel inquired.

“Watching TV,” Jack responded.  “Court TV, I think,” he said with a shrug, after which he turned and walked out.

====

The briefing had gotten a later start due to a crisis off-world with SG-5, but once it had been resolved, Hammond and SG-1 met in the briefing room.  The session had now been going on for quite a while with both Sam and Daniel taking turns explaining the planet and its makeup, using various slides and technobabble to educate Hammond on Madrona's origins, and, most importantly in their opinion, the touchstone.  Even Jack was excited about the alien device.

Much to SG-1's delight, Hammond agreed that the technology contained in the weather device was worth more investigation.

“We have any idea what makes it tick?” the general questioned.

“That's why we'd like to go back, Sir,” Jack answered before his 2IC could.  “Carter wants to get a closer look with some of her specialized ... doohickeys.”

“Doohickeys?” Hammond asked curiously.

“I believe that's the technical term, Sir,” Jack spoke seriously.

Sam smiled at her commanding officer's reply and then clicked the remote to turn the lights back on in the briefing room, stating, “My instruments will measure the touchstone's emissions and hopefully give us a better idea of how it works.”

“Any chance we can borrow it for a few days; do a little backward engineering?” the bald-headed leader queried eagerly.

“You have to understand, General, the touchstone *maintains* the weather on this planet,” Sam pointed out.

~That's a no,~ Hammond thought to himself.  “Right.  Okay, then.  Go see what you can figure out.”

“Okay,” Jack acknowledged.

“Colonel, you can embark whenever you see fit,” Hammond said, standing.  “Check in every twenty-four hours.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack said, watching as Hammond left the room.

Having already reviewed the Gate schedule for the next twenty-four hours, Jack looked at his watch and then ordered, “I want everyone to get a few hours sleep.” He'd made the decision based on two facts.  First, the team had actually begun their duty shift at 5 a.m. that morning, and it was now almost midnight.  Second, they were planning on being on Madrona for a few days.  He didn't want them walking in completely exhausted.  “We'll leave at 0500.”

“That'll give me time to ...” Sam began.

“Carter, Daniel ... the order was to sleep,” Jack reminded forcefully.

“I didn't say anything,” Daniel pointed out.

“I'm covering my bases,” Jack spoke.  “Now that's an order,” he said, standing and walking out of the conference area.
 
====

“Didn't I order you to sleep?” Jack said about thirty minutes later upon walking into his lover's office.

“I was just trying to think ...”

“Think?” Jack interrupted.  “No more thinking tonight, Danny.  I want you to get some rest.”

“Jack ...”

“I already had to lock Carter out of her lab,” the colonel said, shaking his head as he walked to the archaeologist's door and locked it.

“You did?” Daniel questioned, wondering how Sam had reacted to that.

“I did,” Jack confirmed, crossing the cold floor to the other door, closing and locking it.  As he made his way to the security camera, he spoke, “We need to be fresh when we go to Madrona.  As it is, we're only getting a couple of hours.”

“But ...”

“Daniel, you're going to lose this argument, so why not do us both a favor and save your breath?”

“Jack, I might be able to learn ...”

“I'm sure you could, but that doesn't change the fact that you need sleep, and so do I,” the colonel maintained as he silenced his lover's argument.

Daniel watched as Jack rigged the camera, allowing it to stay on, but making sure it couldn't be rotated in any direction.

Satisfied with his efforts, the colonel turned and beckoned for Daniel to come to his side of the room, which was now out of camera range.

With an accepting sigh, the archaeologist stood up and headed towards his lover.

**I love you, Danny.**

**I love you, too,** Daniel replied.

Quietly, the two men headed for the cot Daniel had in his office.  Jack flipped the switch, turning off the lights, and then the two removed their green uniform jackets before finally settling on the cot.  Jack was lying with his back against the wall, while Daniel lay on his right side, his back snuggled against Jack’s chest.  The older man scooped his lover more firmly into his embrace, bringing their bodies as close together as they could.

**It's just not the same in BDUs,** Jack expressed.

Daniel let out an audible laugh and then he yawned.  His right hand reached down and covered Jack's right hand, which was caressing his abdomen.  He yawned again, and then he fell asleep with a smile on his face.

“Danny?” Jack called out softly.  Rising up and leaning over just a tad to get a look at his soulmate's face, he realized Daniel was asleep.  He chuckled quietly and then said, “I love it when you follow orders.”

Jack settled down again and fell asleep a moment later.

====

Right on schedule, SG-1 crossed through the event horizon into the pre-dawn darkness on the planet, surprised to see the lightning-filled skies crashing all around them.  In front of them, not that far in the distance, was the temple that housed the touchstone.  Walking towards them were the representatives and leaders of the primitive society, headed by Princess La Moor and her uncle, Roham.

While Daniel hunched over and pressed the palms of his hands together in the usual greeting of the Madronans, Jack thought, ~I don't like the looks on their faces.  She looks downright pissed.  Do alien women get PMS?~

It hadn't taken Jack long to learn the answer to his internal query, and just a mere two hours later, the team was unexpectedly headed back to the Stargate.

“So much for catching some rays on the beach,” Jack lamented.

“I think we have more important things to worry about than your suntan,” Daniel remarked.

“The colonel has a tan?” Sam challenged, earning her a glare that was visible even through the darkness of the storm that was covering the planet.

“Did you see Roham sit down right in the middle of my lesson?” Jack asked incredulously, letting out a snort as he recalled the way the Madronan leader had turned around and sat down while he'd been talking.

“I guess he didn't want to learn about thieves ... Sir,” Sam responded lightly.

“We have to figure out who stole the touchstone,” Daniel stated seriously.

SG-1 had been dismayed to discover that the Madronans were accusing them of having returned to the planet and stealing the touchstone from the statue in the temple.

“Without the touchstone to shield us, we shall soon be overtaken by the elements.  It's only a matter of time before we begin to die because of your theft,” Roham had advised the team in anger.

“If they had better security, the dang thing couldn't have been stolen,” Jack opined as SG-1 walked briskly for the Gate to return to Earth.

“You can't blame them for thinking it was us, Jack,” Daniel stated.

“They did say that the thieves were dressed in SGC uniforms, O'Neill.”

“And had weapons like ours,” Sam added warily.

“Oh, there's a rat out there somewhere,” Jack agreed, looking to his left at the ongoing lightning show.  “But they were sure quick to condemn us.”

“Jack, the Madronans don't know how to use the Stargate.  We're the first off-worlders they've met in their lifetime.  How can you blame them for making the assumption that we stole the touchstone?”

The colonel let out a bit of a growl, knowing his lover was right.  Still, there had been a short standoff in the temple after Roham had ordered the guards to disarm the visitors.

Jack had taken out his Beretta, pointing it at the guards as he'd quipped, “All right.  We came here in peace; we expect to go in one ... piece.”

Fortunately, Roham had agreed to listen and give the Tau'ri the benefit of the doubt, especially after Daniel had argued, “If the thieves who took the touchstone used the Gate to escape, then the only hope to get it back is to let us go back through the Gate.”

The team had spent some time with the Madronans, learning as much as they could about the circumstances of the theft.  They'd also checked the temple and the nearby area for any signs of the perpetrators.  It had been a long shot and one that had proved fruitless, but had nevertheless been necessary.  Now it was time to turn their attention closer to home as they looked for the thieves.  It was time to focus on Earth.

“I really wanted some beach time,” Jack bemoaned as the team reached the Stargate.

Daniel simply shook his head as he dialed Earth, thunder and lightning calling out all around them.

====

“How'd he react?” the archaeologist questioned when his soulmate entered his office about thirty minutes after the team had returned to Earth.  He yawned, immediately grabbing his coffee cup for a shot of some much needed caffeine.  ~Mmm, good.~

“Insulted at first, just like you'd think,” Jack spoke.

“Well, that's to be expected,” Daniel replied.  “I mean you were asking him if anyone was going behind his back.”

“Hammond's pretty hands on,” Jack pointed out.  “It's like he told me: if anyone sneezes, he gets a report.”

“But, obviously, someone had to go through the Stargate,” the archaeologist pointed out.

“That's why he agreed to let Carter check the computers,” Jack added.

“The people who did this probably covered their bases.”

“Getting through the Gate may not have been that difficult, but the dialing logs are hard to eliminate completely, especially without regular access,” the colonel responded.

“What if they have access?” Daniel questioned, raising his eyebrows when Jack stared at him.

“I so don't want to think about that,” Jack admitted.  “Come on,” he urged.  “Let's see if Carter's found anything yet.”

“So soon?” Daniel asked, though he immediately got up and began to follow his lover out of the office.

“She's the super computer geek.  She's had a half-hour; that should be enough,” Jack quipped.

Daniel shook his head and then stared at the older man as they walked.

“Oh, be quiet,” Jack retorted as they turned down a corridor, fully aware that his expectations of his 2IC may have been a bit unreasonable.

====

“Carter!” Jack called out, tired of waiting.

“Sorry, Sir, but it's taking more time than I thought,” Sam spoke, her focus still on the computer monitor.  “Actually, I'm not sure how long this is going to take.”

“Okay,” Jack sighed.  “I'm gonna take a walk,” he said.  “Daniel?”

“I think I'll stay and try to help Sam,” the younger man said, looking at the enormous volume of work that Sam had before her.

Jack nodded and left the two scientists to their work.

====

Twenty minutes had passed since Jack had left the control room.  Sam was still struggling to find the information she needed.  Daniel, too, was searching, following the guidelines Sam had laid out.

“DanielJackson, CaptainCarter,” Teal'c said as he entered the control room.

“Hey, Teal'c,” Sam greeted.

“Have you made any progress?”

“I'm close, I think,” Sam said with a smile.

“I believe you should see this,” Teal'c said, walking over to one of the empty stations and turning on the access to the satellite television.

“Wow!” Sam exclaimed.  “Where's that?”

“That's a ... a big storm,” Daniel commented, standing and walking over to where Teal'c was.

“Sam, this is Yuma.”

“Santa Fe?” the blonde questioned, getting up to join her teammates.  “Isn't it one of the cities in the US with the lowest annual rainfall?”

“I believe you are correct,” Teal'c, a veritable encyclopedia of most everything relating to the United States, responded.

“That's crazy,” Sam expressed.

“Not if ...” Daniel began, not finishing his sentence but sharing a somewhat horrified expression with his fellow scientist.  He hurried back to where he'd been working and hit the signal to bring the TV station onto the monitor.  “I wonder.”

Sam returned to the main computer station and continued with her work.  Teal'c shut off the monitor he'd turned on and took a seat next to Daniel.

“This is amazing,” Daniel remarked, leaning forward as he watched the unusual weather events being covered on television.

--

“Anything yet?” Jack asked as he entered the control room several minutes later.

“Not on the touchstone, Sir,” Sam answered, glancing over to her right where her CO was standing.

“Possibly its effects,” Daniel interjected.  “Have you been watching the Weather Channel?”

“I'm more of a C-SPAN guy,” Jack retorted as he stood behind Daniel and Teal'c.

~Yeah, right,~ Daniel thought.  ~They show a lot of Homer Simpson and hockey on C-SPAN.~

“Observe, O'Neill,” Teal'c instructed, turning up the volume on the telecast.

Jack watched as the TV reporters discussed the images of raging rivers and damaging storms that were occurring all across America.  In addition to Yuma, the flooding was occurring in such unusual places as Palm Springs and Phoenix.  Record rainfalls were taking place in cities not known for having much rain at all, while other cities were being pounded by hail the size of golf balls.

While the report ran, Jack moved over to where a stool was, just behind and to the right of Teal'c, and hopped up onto it.

“Something is definitely altering this planet's weather,” Teal'c stated.

“And you think it's this touchstone,” Jack asked.  Seeing Daniel's affirming expression, he questioned, “Kind of a reach, isn't it?”

“Well, not really, if you think about it.  Whoever left that device originally on Madrona probably keyed it to the atmospheric conditions on that planet. Somebody steals it, brings it back to Earth, starts fiddling around with it with *no* idea what they are doing and ... who knows?” Daniel put forth.

“We don't know it's on Earth,” Jack responded, still skeptical since it was, after all, wintertime in the northern hemisphere.

“I'm thinking it is,” Sam affirmed.  “There was a *huge* transitory glitch three days ago when SG-2 returned from a routine mission, roughly the same hour as the touchstone was taken.”

“But SG-2's point of origin was galaxies away from Madrona,” Teal'c refuted.

“Yeah, but this energy spike is off the charts.  You remember what happened the last time the Gate's power supply was overloaded?” Sam asked.

“It ... jumped to the second Gate in the Antarctic,” Daniel answered.

Leaning back in his chair, Jack spun the stool around a bit and then stood up as he snarked, “Yeah.  Thanks for the memories.”

“CaptainCarter, are you suggesting that SG-2 used the second Gate to steal the touchstone?” the Jaffa asked.

“No, not SG-2,” Sam responded.  “Their mission went as planned through our Gate, but these readings suggest that someone might have been using the second Gate a split second after SG-2 used ours to try to hide the energy spike in ours.”

“Kinda like shooting off a gun when a train's going by,” Jack stated.  When his team looked at him in confusion, he elaborated, “To hide the sound.”

Sam then checked SG-2's log for the same electronic signature that had occurred when she and Jack had been 'dumped' into the Antarctic.  It took a minute, but she didn't have any luck with the primary log.  Following Daniel's suggestion, she checked the backup log, but still came up empty, which just added to their suspicions.  Fortunately, there was also a third backup system in place, and she was finally able to confirm that the two signals were identical.

“Who would have been authorized to use the second Gate?  I thought it had been officially decommissioned,” Daniel wondered.

“It was ... officially,” Jack replied.  He sighed, “I'd better go see Hammond.”

====

“What'd he say?” Daniel asked when Jack returned from talking to the major general.

“He's as confused as we are,” Jack spoke as he and his teammates stood around Sam's worktable in her lab.

“What about the President?” Sam asked.

“Conveniently tied up,” Jack answered.  “Hammond thinks it may be political.”

“How so?” the archaeologist questioned.

“Well, when we opened our doors, there was some conflict over how far we should go in obtaining technology and weapons,” Jack stated.

“You mean diplomacy be da...”

“I mean some folks don't care what we have to do in order to get what we want,” Jack interrupted.  “The problem is that Hammond isn't sure who the bad guys were, but he thinks it's political and not military.”

“That wouldn't surprise me,” Daniel admitted.

“Are not your politicians honorable?” Teal'c questioned.

“Come on, Big Guy.  You've watched enough news to know the answer to that one,” Jack said, giving him a look, to which the Jaffa simply raised an eyebrow and threw his head back just slightly.

“So, where do we stand?” the captain inquired.

“We wait,” Jack answered.  “Hammond's going to do some digging, and he wants you to keep digging, too.”

“I'm working on it,” Sam stated.  “I'm thinking that if I can figure out a way to measure the Doppler shift for gravitational and radiation emissions and triangulate with ...”

“Carter,” Jack began, waving one hand in front of him.  “I'm sure you can do it.”

“Do you require assistance, SamanthaCarter?” Teal'c asked.

“No, Teal'c, but thanks.”

====

“We know Colonel Maybourne gets ... passionate about new technology and weaponry from our previous dealings with him,” Sam spoke that afternoon.

SG-1 was currently on a transport plane en route to Nellis Air Force Base, also known as the Groom Lake Facility, in Nevada.  A secret section of the base, known as Area 51, was where the alien technology brought back through the Stargate by SG units was eventually taken to for study and warehousing.  Perhaps the biggest secret housed there was the second Stargate, the one discovered in Antarctica the year before.

“I don't think Maybourne getting himself put in charge of Area 51 is an accident,” Jack opined with a hint of sarcasm in his tone.

“Do you believe HarryMaybourne is involved with those dishonorable politicians?”

“Maybe,” Jack said, looking across at Teal'c, who was seated next to Sam.

“I shall be happy to teach him the meaning of honor, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated with a bit of a Jaffa smirk.

Jack started to reply, but the grin in the alien's eyes caught him off guard.  He sensed his Jaffa teammate would welcome a chance for revenge against Maybourne, who earlier in the year had wanted to turn Teal'c into a research specimen after an alien bug threatened to turn him into a bug-birthing cocoon.

“I'll let you know,” Jack replied.  ~I get first crack at that idiot.~

“What if the touchstone isn't there?” Daniel wondered.

“We're running out of time, Daniel,” Sam responded.  “I checked right before we left, and the winds on Madrona had already increased, gusting up to eighty-five miles an hour.  I know I said forty-eight to seventy-two hours in our meeting with the general, but I'm afraid that if it gets any worse, the entire planet will be a wash.”

“You will clean the planet?” the confused Jaffa asked.

“No, Teal'c,” Sam corrected.  “I just mean the terraforming will be erased.  The planet will revert to its natural state.”

“And the Madronans?” Daniel asked.

The answer was so obvious that no one on the plane said anything.  Instead, the team members shared stares of concern.

“Jack, what if we can't get in?” Daniel asked.

“We're delivering official documents for Hammond,” Jack answered.  “They have to let us in.”

“Sir, what's in those documents?” Sam asked curiously.

“I think it's a cleaning bill for the Mountain.  We had to decontaminate the place after Maybourne's visit the last time,” Jack quipped, patting the sealed envelope he carried in his pocket.

====

“Here we go,” Jack said as the white vehicle pulled up to the entrance of Area 51 and stopped.

“I don't see Maybourne,” Sam spoke.

“He's probably hiding,” Jack said, looking back at Teal'c.

The team exited the vehicle and acknowledged the man who was there to greet them.

“Colonel O'Neill.  Major Reynolds, NID,” the man said as he saluted.  “Welcome to Area 51.”

“Yeah, nice to meet you,” Jack responded politely while giving a quick salute in response.  “This is Captain Carter, Doctor Jackson, and Teal'c.”

“Gentlemen, Ma'am.  I can't tell you what an honor it is to meet you.  You guys are a bit of a legend around here,” Reynolds informed.

~He's got that hero look on his face.  Crap,~ Jack thought, already hating the saluting protocol they'd just gone through.  “Yeah, well, thanks.  We were hoping to meet with Colonel Maybourne.”

“He's been paged, Sir.  I'm sure if you'll come inside, he'll find you there.”

“So, you obviously know who we are,” Daniel stated in surprise.

“Of course, Sir.  If it wasn't for you and the other SG teams, we'd be out of business here.  Follow me, please,” Reynolds requested, leading the team inside the building.

Once inside, Reynolds described the facility to the team while they walked to their destination.

“To your left is medical research.  They're focusing on the potential new cure for Alzheimer's that SG-5 brought back.  The other side is geology, space metallurgy, and artifacts study,” Reynolds advised, pointing to each section as the group walked.  “That's where they're poring over your notes on that, uh, Heliopolis place, Doctor Jackson: the meaning of life stuff.  I love that,” he spoke with a grin, his admiration of the archaeologist and the SG teams obvious.

**You've got a fan,** Jack spoke, glancing briefly at his lover who was walking to his right.

**He thinks it's a museum,** Daniel replied.

**Yeah, well, it is,** the colonel agreed.

The team waited as Reynolds punched a code into the keypad of the room they would be entering.  As they stood, two workers walked between Jack and Daniel and straight on towards another room a few yards away.  When the door opened to let the workers in, a death glider became visible.

**Whoa,** Jack expressed, involuntarily stepping forward a couple of steps.

**I, uh ... I'm not sure I want to relive that memory,** Daniel replied, thinking back to the end of June 1998 when the team almost died while successfully defending Earth against a Goa'uld attack led by Apophis.

All four members of SG-1 were focused on the glider, memories of that event suddenly flashing in their minds.

Aware of the team's distraction, the major spoke, “That's where we're studying those two Goa'uld death gliders that you were in after you guys did your hero thing.”  After the doors closed, he praised, “Nice work by the way.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Jack replied, staring at the now-closed doors of the room.  **The only good thing about that mess was ... you, Danny.**

Daniel nodded slightly, too stunned temporarily to respond, even nonverbally.  He hoped his lover had caught his affirmation, but he really didn't know for sure.

~You almost died, Jack.  Too close.~

“This way,” Reynolds invited, opening the door.  “This is the bioresearch lab.”

“This where you're keeping the little green men?” Jack attempted to jest.

“There are no alien life forms at Area 51,” Reynolds responded with a stoic expression.

Glancing over at the Jaffa, Jack replied, “Present company excluded, of course.”

A moment later, Maybourne entered, greeting Jack with military politeness and then dismissing Reynolds.

“Teal'c, it's good to see you well,” Maybourne spoke.

**Oh, bad move,** Jack opined.

**Jack, if Teal'c kills Maybourne, we might not find the touchstone,** Daniel fretted, not really certain what Teal'c would do, especially since the alien was now approaching the man, not stopping until he was practically in Maybourne's personal space.

**Don't worry.  Teal'c knows that.**

“In my culture, I would be well within my rights to dismember you,” Teal'c responded to the man's greeting.  ~I shall put my feelings aside for the sake of Madrona,~ he thought, giving the somewhat intimidated colonel a small sneer as he brushed past him.

“Well ... that's interesting,” Maybourne replied, wanting to wipe off the smile he saw on Jack's face, or, rather, wanting to order someone else to wipe off the smile, knowing Jack could easily take him in a fight.  “Is there something I can do for you, Colonel O'Neill?”

“Yeah,” Jack acknowledged.  “We assume the touchstone was brought here.”

“Excuse me?” Maybourne responded, trying to act as if he hadn't a clue what was being asked about.

The cat and mouse game continued for a couple of minutes, with SG-1 probing for answers and Maybourne sputtering 'I know nothing' lies.

“Has the second Stargate been activated?” Daniel asked bluntly from where he stood amid the artifacts that were situated atop several rows of tables.

“It's been under complete lock down since its arrival here.  It hasn't even been powered up,” Maybourne responded.

“Do you mind if we have a look?” Sam asked.

“I guarantee it's been dormant since you came through it,” the Nellis leader assured.

“Then there's no harm in taking a look, is there?” Jack challenged.

Maybourne glared, but then turned around, almost bumping into Teal'c, who gave him another threatening look.  It was obvious that the Jaffa intimidated the man when the colonel backed up two steps to go around the tall alien.

Jack smiled at Teal'c's success in getting the best of Maybourne.  His smile widened as he walked by his friend.  Sam grinned as well.  It was a small but welcome victory.

====

A bit later, the team was back on the transport plane, returning to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.

“The idiot admitted it,” Jack said, his irritation showing in both his voice and expression.

“You handled the situation well, Sir,” Sam praised, smiling as she recalled the pivotal moment of their confrontation with Maybourne.

Upon discovering that the Stargate stored at Area 51 was not the real one, but a plastic fake, Jack had turned to Maybourne, saying forcefully, “You tell me the punishment for losing a Stargate.”

Maybourne had smugly responded by saying, “That presumes there was no authorization to move the Stargate.”

The man's smugness hadn't lasted for long, though, as Daniel had immediately asked him who had authorized the move.

“Nice pickup, Daniel,” Jack complimented his lover as he remembered Maybourne's hesitation on being confronted with that question.

“Okay, Maybourne said it's classified and a civilian operation,” Jack recalled.

“The President?” Daniel inquired.

“No, I don't think so, Daniel,” Sam responded.  “But it has to be someone in the political realm ... doesn't it?”

Jack just shrugged, rubbing his hands together as he leaned forward, and then finally saying, “This just smells bad.”

“You think there's an underground organization trying to undermine the SGC,” Daniel surmised, his eyes boring into Jack's.

“Hiding a Stargate isn't easy,” Jack responded.  “Someone high up in the chain of command *has* to know what's going on.”  He sighed, “Maybe Hammond's come up with something.”

As their flight continued, the team settled back into a comfortable silence, each working on theories and ideas in their minds.  Then Sam bowed her head and chuckled lightly.

“What?” Daniel asked with a slight nod of his head.

“Major Reynolds: he has a real bad case of hero worship,” Sam explained.

“We aren't heroes,” Jack denied.

“We did save the world, Sir,” Sam reminded with a bit of a teasing smile.

“Apparently, he knows that,” Daniel spoke wryly.

“He was more impressed with your 'meaning of life' stuff than our glider accomplishment,” Jack said.

“Well, you did just ... fly,” Daniel jested.  “You'd already done your 'hero stuff' before that.”

“He likes you better,” Jack groused.

“He's a scientist, Jack.”

“One of our kind, Sir,” Sam added, looking over at Daniel for a second with laughter in her eyes.

The three human SG-1 members laughed, while Teal'c remained stoic.  It was hard to tell whether or not he'd been amused by the conversation.  Then again, knowing how the Jaffa felt about things was often difficult.

====

“You're beginning to sound like a broken record, Danny,” Jack spoke as the two men prepared to go off-world.

“I wasn't going to let you go alone,” Daniel responded.

“What could happen?” the colonel asked nonchalantly.

“You could fall and not be able to get up,” Daniel teased.

Jack laughed and then settled on exchanging a loving smile with the man who was now his reason for being.  Daniel caught the look, his eyes gazing into the warmth of his lover's.  For a moment, the two almost forgot the crisis they were trying to solve.

“Geez, it's not like this is a life or death mission,” Jack said, breaking the spell.

“Not for us, anyway,” Daniel responded, thinking about the Madronans.

The two headed for the gate room, where they met up with Sam and Teal'c, who were seeing them off on the brief trek.

“Good luck,” Sam expressed.

“Carter, you haven't left out anything life threatening, have you?”

“Excuse me?” the confused woman asked.

“This is supposed to be a piece of cake,” Jack began.  “We go through the Gate with the MALP and dial Earth again, right?”

“Right.”

“Then why is everyone acting like this is so risky?” the colonel asked.

“Perhaps it is because the conditions on Madrona have worsened,” Teal'c put forth.

Jack thought for a moment and replied, “There's that.”

Hammond hadn't had any luck in finding out information about the current events while SG-1 had been in Nevada, but when the team returned, Sam discovered that her instrument readings had fallen to zero, meaning that whoever had the touchstone had stopped using it, or had found a way to shield it.  Weather on Earth was also returning to normal, which bolstered the team's belief that the device wasn't being used.  More than likely, the perpetrators of the touchstone theft had ceased their experimentation, knowing that the radical weather was drawing more attention than was a good idea.

Sam had then suggested tracking the second Gate by intentionally overpowering it, creating the same kind of affect that had happened when she and Jack were sent to the frozen Antarctic due to the power spike in the wormhole.  It had been Daniel's idea to use the MALP robot, and that was the plan being put into use.  Jack and Daniel would go through to Madrona with it, input the coordinates as directed by Sam, and, using equipment Sam was sending with them, modulate the Gate's power as they sent the MALP through the hopefully arcing wormhole.  If the plan worked, the GPS on the robot would successfully pinpoint the location of the second Stargate.

“I suppose it's too late to ask for thermal underwear,” Jack added over the kawoosh of the Gate thundered.

Daniel just rolled his eyes in response.

“It's cold,” Jack rationalized with a shrug.

“Let's go, Jack,” Daniel stated, heading for the event horizon.

“Hey!  I'm the colonel!” Jack called out, hurrying after his teammate.

Daniel stopped, laughing at the other man as he turned.

“What?”

“The modulating equipment,” the archaeologist reminded, pointing back at the large box that was setting in front of Sam's feet.

“I knew that,” Jack retorted, grunting as he walked back down the ramp, trying to ignore the smirks and snickers on his three teammates' faces.

A minute later, the lovers stepped through the Stargate carrying the large, heavy case between them.  The blizzard was both thundering and blinding.  They carried the container to the left side of the Gate and put it down.

“I'm beginning to see why you prefer the desert,” Jack quipped in a raised voice, getting a silent nod from his lover.

Having been aware of the Stargate activating, Roham and his niece, along with some others, came out of the temple and approached the Tau'ri.  Seeing them, Daniel walked down to the DHD, as did Jack, who waved his right hand in greeting.

“Did you bring the touchstone?” the blinded Roham asked after the princess had told him that Jack and Daniel were back.

“Not yet,” Jack shouted through the wind.  “We're working on it.”

“Don't you understand?  Look around you.  The rivers have turned to ice.  Before long all our croplands will be decimated.”

“Why did you return?” Princess La Moor asked.

“We have to send this machine from here to track the touchstone,” Daniel called out as loudly as he could, trying to be heard.

“You're lying!” Roham accused.

“We're not lying,” Jack denied.

“Look, we really are trying to help,” Daniel implored.

Not believing the visitors, Roham urged his people to return to the safety of the building, leaving Jack and Daniel to their task.

**He didn't believe you,** Daniel communicated, his hand on Jack's back.

The younger man had sensed Jack's distress.  One of his lover's most ardent rules was that the Tau'ri's travels should never interfere negatively with another world.  He took it deeply to heart whenever a mistake was made that impacted a society, such as a potentially catastrophic one like this.

Jack was frustrated that the Madronans didn't believe that he was sincere. He liked the people of this world, and it was a beautiful world when the touchstone was working.  Though he wouldn't admit it to many, he felt a bit hurt at the level of anger and hostility coming from Roham and Princess La Moor.

Daniel wasn't normally the one who initiated physical contact with his lover; at least not when they were off-world, or even when they were any place but their two residences.  His lover's regret was too strong for him to ignore, though.  Not even the howling wind, the blistering snow, or Jack's own sarcastic wit could hide it; and, so, he'd reached out to his Love.

**No kidding,** Jack responded, glancing at Daniel briefly.

**Jack, they don't mean to be harsh.**

**Forget it,** Jack spat mentally.  **Let's get this done and get out of here,** he communicated, turning, raising his right hand to dismiss the frustration he felt, and then heading over to their equipment.

Jack and Daniel began to hook up the power source to the Stargate.  Finished with his part of the task, Daniel walked down to the DHD.  He began to dial the appropriate address while Jack made the final connections.  When the last hookup was completed, the equipment began emitting a noise.

The colonel went over to stand by his lover.  They gave the equipment a couple of seconds to hit its maximum power.  Then Jack patted Daniel's shoulder a couple of times in support.  At that point, the archaeologist placed his hand on the large, colorful button at the center of the DHD to complete the dialing sequence.  They watched as the MALP robot began its trek through the Stargate.

“Jack, we should go and talk to them,” Daniel shouted after the Stargate shut down.

“Why?  We already tried,” Jack shouted back.  “Like you said, they don't believe us.  Dial!”

Daniel nodded and dialed the Gate again.  The lovers then walked through, looking back and watching the wormhole disappear.

“That was cold,” Jack opined, doing an exaggerated body shiver as he walked down the ramp.

“Where's the spa?” Daniel asked, the question his way of agreeing with his soulmate.

The two made their way up to the control room where Sam was still sitting at the controls and Hammond was standing nearby.

“Carter?” Jack called out as he and Daniel walked into the control room.

“The link is gone.  They destroyed the MALP,” Sam reported as she stood, leaning against the console area.

Hammond stood across from the Jack and Daniel, while Teal'c was seated to the major general's right.

“Did you get the coordinates?” Jack inquired.

“Didn't have time for a full triangulation, but I've got it narrowed down,” the captain reported.

“How far down?” the colonel questioned.

“Well, as far as I can tell, it's in Southern Utah.”

“Oh, well ... Southern Utah,” Jack groaned unhappily.  ~All that cold for that?~

“Well, at least that's a start,” Daniel remarked, knowing Sam had done her best, and it was at least something.

“I have one last marker I can call.  Let me see what I can find out,” Hammond stated, walking out of the room.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, and the older man gave a little shrug.

“So, how'd the MALP meet its demise?” Jack asked curiously.

“Someone walked up to it and ... shot it,” Sam answered.

“Well, did you see who?” Daniel asked, suddenly feeling a bit more encouraged.

“No,” Sam sighed.  “It was too dark.  We couldn't make out anything that we could identify.  The MALP was only operating a few seconds.”

“Next time, you can go,” Jack sighed, shaking his head.

“What now?” Daniel questioned.

“We'll need to see what Hammond can find out,” the colonel answered.  “Okay, there's not much we can do here tonight.  Is there, Carter?”

Sam sighed, shaking her head as she answered, “Nothing, Colonel.”

“Okay, go home.  Get some sleep.  Report back at 0900.  Maybe Hammond will turn up something by then.”

====

As Jack and Daniel reached their vehicles in the SGC parking lot, Daniel sighed, “Jack, I have to pay some bills.”

“You can do that at my place, or I can come help you.”

Daniel laughed, “You know I wouldn't get anything done.  I'll see you tomorrow morning.”

“Compromise,” Jack countered.  “You go do what you've got to do and then come over.”

“We wouldn't sleep,” Daniel chuckled.  “Counter offer,” he began.  “You come over for breakfast at seven-thirty.”

“Done,” Jack agreed.  Turning to walk towards the door of his Ford truck, he laughed, “You really just want to make sure I wake you up so you aren't late.”

“Uh ... well ... yeah,” Daniel mused with what Jack thought was just about the cutest smile he'd ever seen.

**Love you.**

**You, too.  I mean, I love you, too.**

====

While Jack and Daniel enjoyed their breakfast at Daniel's apartment the next morning, Hammond was on his way to an out-of-the-way meeting place.  He'd been successful at last in acquiring some information, limited as it was.  His contact had owed the major general a huge debt which he was now repaying by flying into Colorado Springs to meet with the general.  At their meeting place at the outskirts of town, he told Hammond that a C-5 plane had been requested for a classified pickup at a NID landing site, located just south of the Black Mountains, roughly forty miles west of Parowan.  The C-5 was definitely large enough to carry the Stargate to anywhere in the world.

By noon, SG-1 were settled into a helicopter that would take them to Hill Air Force Base in Northern Utah.  Unfortunately, from there, SG-1 would be on their own as they headed for the out-of-the-way air strip that didn't officially exist.

“I do not like those orders, O'Neill,” Teal'c complained.

From there, SG-1 would be on their own as they headed for the out-of-the-way air strip that didn't officially exist.

“Look, Teal'c, I understand, but those are Hammond's orders,” Jack stated sternly.

Daniel listened to the conversation with great care, finding himself in agreement with Teal'c.  He wasn't a proponent of violence, but the order could hamper their success.

“Teal'c, the general doesn't want us injuring someone who might just be following orders,” Sam expounded, thinking the Jaffa might be more amenable to the situation if he understand the rationale behind it.

“We are not to fire unless fired at first.  Is that correct, O'Neill?”

“That's what the man said,” Jack confirmed.

“Ah, and only as a last resort,” Sam added a bit hesitantly, looking at Jack and then over at Teal'c.

“Take cover,” the colonel affirmed.

“Then I shall avenge your death with regret,” Teal'c stated and then looked away.

The three other members looked at Teal'c and then at each other, all surprised at the statement, but all understanding the underlying meaning.  They were about to enter a very dangerous situation, and it would be regrettable if one of them were injured or killed because they couldn't fire first.

~Those are the orders,~ Jack lamented, agreeing with his teammate but knowing that he would follow the orders of the major general, a man whom he respected greatly.

====

After landing at Hill, SG-1 loaded their gear into a nondescript Air Force vehicle and made their way towards the unofficial NID landing strip.  They parked away from the strip and made their way stealthily towards the large hangar that was located by the strip.  Amazingly, one of the gates by the hangar wasn't locked, and Jack simply pushed it open as the four double-timed their way in.

Quietly, the team moved up alongside the building.  Jack took out his periscope and raised it up so that he could get a look inside, via a broken window.  He saw a large crate that he assumed held the Stargate.  A truck was inside as well, it's cargo door completely open.  Lowering his tool, he put it away and began using hand signals to communicate with the others how many were inside and what the plan was.

As a C-5 was landing on a nearby runway, SG-1, with weapons at the ready, entered the building, the sound of the plane helping to cover their movements slightly.  They quickly came upon three men, two of whom were standing at the huge wooden crate that housed the Stargate, while the other knelt down beside a small metal box a couple of yards in front of the crate.

Jack ordered the men to stand, keeping their hands visible and staying away from the crate.  Suddenly, SG-1 heard the sound of the Stargate being dialed from a man inside the truck.  A moment later, the event horizon thundered open, creating a circular hole in the cover of the crate.  The power of the opening caused everyone to fall to the floor.

The man who had dialed the Gate, jumped off the back of the truck and attempted to grab the metal box, but Jack called out, firing shots all around the box.  Having no choice, the man climbed up onto the crate, rolling over on his side, and then jumped into the wormhole.  After two others followed him through, the fourth man also tried to grab the box.  He, too, was stopped by the colonel, who fired more rounds near the box.  Like the other man, this one also fled into the wormhole.

Meanwhile, Daniel had hurried to the truck, climbing inside as quickly as he could to try and catch the address that had been dialed.  Unfortunately, he was too late, and the symbols had darkened by the time he'd reached the DHD.

“Arrrgh!” the linguist expressed in despair.

“What?” Jack asked.

Walking a bit dejectedly to the end of the truck, Daniel answered, “I missed the address.”

Opening the metal box, Sam took out the touchstone and said, “At least we have this.”

“Okay, we don't have time to waste,” Jack said as Daniel approached, having jumped down off the truck.  “Carter, go check on that C-5.  Tell them to be expecting new orders within five minutes,” he instructed, taking out his cell phone.  “And get our vehicle.  We'll need our cold gear.”  After Sam nodded and began to hurry away, the colonel looked at the Jaffa and instructed, “Teal'c, make sure we don't have any unexpected visitors lurking around here.”

Daniel twisted around to watch as Sam and Teal'c walked away.  His hands were on his hips as he turned back to face his lover.

“And, uh, what about me?”

“Stay there and look ...”

“Jack!” Daniel warned, sensing his lover was about to come out with a term that would be better left to when they were in a more private and intimate setting.

Grinning, Jack was about to say something when his phone call was answered.

“Good news, Sir.  We have the touchstone,” Jack began as he went about making the appropriate plans for the return of SG-1, the touchstone, and the second Stargate.

“Colonel, our first priority is to return the touchstone to Madrona.  Can you use the second Stargate to return the device?”

“That's affirm,” Jack answered.

“Just as soon as the Gate is secure, Colonel, I want SG-1 to get that device back to the Madronans.”

“Sir, about the Gate ...”

“Don't worry, Colonel.  It won't disappear again,” Hammond promised.  “A special detail will be there as soon as I can arrange it.”

====  

Two hours later, the second Stargate had been completely secured by SGC personnel, who had been flown there directly from Peterson Air Force Base.  They'd also maneuvered the circular object into an upright position in preparation for SG-1's trip through.  It was going to need to be re-crated before its next relocation, anyway.

In anticipation of Hammond's orders, the team had brought with them their heavy jackets, goggles, and other winter gear so they could travel safely to the other planet.

“Carter,” Jack called out, extending his hands forward.

“I can carry it, Sir.”

“No,” Jack stated.  For some reason, he felt a personal responsibility in the return of the touchstone.  “I'll take it,” he said quietly as he took possession of the amazing weather object.

“Daniel,” the colonel instructed, not needing to give the order to dial.

With a nod, Daniel inputted the address and the team stepped through to Madrona.

With a huge smile on his face, Jack handed Roham the touchstone, taking the man's scepter so that he could hold onto it more easily in the still-blustering weather. The team watched as Roham reset the device.  Immediately, the winds stopped, the snow ceased, and the sun began to shine.  They all walked inside the temple, where the princess replaced the touchstone in its rightful place, on the hand of the statue.

“Thank You,” Roham spoke with sincerity.

“You're very welcome,” Jack replied.

“We hope the faith and trust between our two worlds has been restored,” Daniel spoke diplomatically.

“You have lived up to your promises,” the princess spoke.  Bowing down, she added, “Let there always be peace between our worlds.”

After his niece rose back upright, Roham spoke, “We must remain vigilant, lest those who trespassed before come back to violate the sanctity of the holy touchstone.”

“Yeah, just make sure your guards are paying attention this time,” Jack stated as he handed Roham his scepter back.

“Blessings be upon you,” Roham responded.

The princess then opened the temple doors, and everywhere stared in fascination at the beauty of the world that had returned in just a few minutes.

**Wow, this is ... amazing,** Daniel expressed in awe.

**Beautiful, like you,** Jack said, grinning at his lover for a few seconds before returning his gaze to the beauty of the outdoors.

“Will you stay and celebrate the return of the touchstone with us?” Princess La Moor asked the team.

“We'd like that,” Jack answered quickly.  “We just need to make a quick phone call home,” he said with a smile, nodding over at Teal'c, indicating for him to contact the SGC and let them know of their plans.

“We shall begin a feast,” Roham called out happily.

**I can feast on you all day,** Jack communicated with a leer at his lover.

**Stop it!  Not here,** an about-to-blush Daniel ordered.  Turning away from his lover, if only for his own protection from turning beet red, he said, “Princess La Moor, I'd like to exchange some more information about the history of the touchstone.  I was thinking ...”

~Thinking: it's what Danny does best,~ Jack thought.  He made a face and then nearly laughed out loud as he corrected, ~Second best.~

====

Late the next afternoon, the team was back at Nellis, this time with General Hammond there as well.  They were witnessing a permanent iris being welded over the second Stargate, after which it would be locked up and guarded around the clock while under the control and command of the SGC.  Hammond's ire at the recent events had helped him to secure the support from the President in giving him complete control of the second Stargate.  As such, the major general had moved quickly to make sure they couldn't get 'snake bit' again by misuse of the object.

Colonel Maybourne and Major Reynolds were also on hand for the sealing.  The two were standing within a few feet of each other, while Hammond and SG-1 stood in a line directly in front of the Stargate as the iris was being sealed.

~Maybe he'll crawl back into his hole now,~ Jack thought, walking over to Maybourne.  He removed his sunglasses and asked, “This put you out of a job, Maybourne?”

Smugly, the other colonel responded, “Oh, you'd be surprised.  Strange things happen in high places, Colonel.”

“Don't I know it,” Jack responded.

“People get reassigned; so does property.  Artifacts get misplaced; orders change. Every day's a new day,” Maybourne stated as he walked out of the large building, with Reynolds following a few seconds later.

~That went well ... not,~ Jack thought as he walked over to stand with his team once again.

====

“Jack?” Daniel called out as he walked out onto the wooden porch at the back of the O'Neill house.

The older man was seated on the right side of the steps.  He was hunched over slightly, his hands clasped together as he stared out into the darkness.

The younger man walked over to the steps and sat down, glancing over at his silent lover.  Jack's lack of a response was unusual and gave Daniel pause for thought.  He looked forward and then down, trying to decide how best to proceed.  He debated just going home.  Maybe Jack didn't want him around right now.  Maybe he was just a bother.  Maybe being there was just wrong.

“Daniel, cut it out,” Jack snapped.

“What?”

“Look, I don't have to know what you're thinking to know that you're sitting there, wondering if you should be sitting there.  Now that's it, and it's really very simple to comprehend.  You should be ... sitting there,” Jack spoke, letting out a groan at his somewhat nonsensical statement.

The two men stared at each other, both trying to decipher the older man's statement.

“Danny, you know what I mean.  You're my life; you belong here, with me,” Jack declared tenderly.

“Okay,” the younger man agreed, feeling better now.  After a few silent seconds, he asked, “Jack, what did Maybourne say when you talked to him at Nellis?  You've been ... quiet since you talked to him.”

Jack sighed, shaking his head as he responded, “They're out there, Danny.  Bad men masquerading as something they aren't, wearing blue uniforms they don't deserve.  *We*,” he paused, becoming a bit agitated by his internal thoughts, “have to pay the price for those men.”

“It really bothered you when Roham and Princess La Moor didn't believe us,” Daniel surmised.

Jack's eyes closed for a second and then he responded, “We're the ones initiating these visits.  Look, if we make a mess here, that's our business and our fault.  We blow ourselves up, then there's no one to blame but us, but when we go off-world, if we mess up another planet, then that's ...”

“Jack, we fixed it,” Daniel reminded after his lover blew out a breath, shook his head in aggravation, and flailed his hands in front of him in anger.

“This time,” Jack responded.  “What about the next?”

“You're afraid we won't know about a ... next time.”

“What if we hadn't decided to go back to Madrona?” Jack put forth.

Daniel smiled for a moment before responding, “Babe, aren't you the one who keeps telling me we can't live in 'what ifs'?”  When Jack turned to face him, he continued, “We know now that we have to be vigilant and pay more attention to anything that might be a little ... strange, so at least now we're aware.”

“I'd really like to punch Maybourne in the face,” Jack expressed with vigor.

“Not that I'd want to stop you from your ... fun,” Daniel began, raising his eyebrows at the thought for a moment, “but ... wouldn't you rather keep Maybourne on your radar; maybe ... watch for signs of something ... not right.”

The colonel smiled and leaned in to kiss his genius lover.  He brought his right hand over to gently caress the other man's cheek while they kissed again, their tongues beginning a sweet caress in their mouths.  Their heads touched as the kiss grew until both let out moans from their union.

“The world isn't such a dark place really, is it?” Jack asked, his right hand slowly working its way along the side of his Love's face, his finger sliding along the slope of Daniel's ear.

“I, uh, thought we ... were learning that ... together,” Daniel spoke.  Seeing Jack's brief smile of acknowledgement, he added, “Jack, the problem is that you care more than you want to admit about ... the military.  I think ... I ... well, I think you're proud of the service, even though you don't necessarily like the rules.  Actually, I think what you don't like are the people who tarnish the Air Force because they're ...”

“... self-serving, power-hungry, egotistical idiots?” Jack completed.

“Something like that,” Daniel said with a sweet smile.

“We're going to other worlds.  I know we're not saints; I just want us not to mess up someone else's world like we've messed up ours,” Jack sighed.  “And I still want to slug Maybourne.”

Daniel laughed, as did the older man.  He reached up with his right hand to mirror Jack's caress on him.

“I guess we just hang in there,” Jack spoke.

“It's all we can do.  What we do, where we go: that's all good.  We just need to ... remember that we're not ... gods, either,” Daniel stated.

“Horrible comparison, Daniel,” the colonel replied.

“I'm just saying that it could be tempting to some people to think that we're better than those other worlds out there, that we're deserving of whatever we may find simply because we've found it.  We're not.  Places like Madrona, if they choose to share with us, need to be treasured as allies, friends willing to help out friends,” Daniel paused, his eyes moving downward for a second.  “Jack, the Nox say we're too young.  Omoc says we're primitive.”

“Don't remind me,” Jack said, growling at the thought of the Tollan leader.

“The point is, both cultures are way more advanced than we are.  I know it's frustrating, but they're friends; but ... so are Tup'lo's people, and the Shavadai, the Cimmerians, and the Madronans.  By comparison to us, those friends are ... young, primitive.”  The cultural expert paused again and let out a breath before continuing, “Men like Harry Maybourne and the ones the general was talking about, the ones who believe that the SGC's mandate should be to secure whatever we need, or want, by any means possible, they're the real ones who are young and primitive.  They don't even understand the reasons why this country was begun in the first place: freedom.  It's a bit ironic, but all we can do is do our best to guard against them, here, and when we're off-world.”

“You know something, Danny?” Jack asked.

“What?”

“You're the most beautiful speechmaker in the universe,” Jack expressed softly, his eyes shining with love for the linguist.

“Oh, uh, well, thank you,” the younger man replied.

“No denials?” Jack asked, a bit surprised since he was used the younger man dismissing compliments thrown his way, especially ones accompanied by the word 'beautiful'.

“Well, somehow, tonight, I'd just rather ... do this,” Daniel spoke, leaning in for another kiss.

“Danny, we have a mission in the morning.  We might be gone for a few days, so how about we ...”

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” the younger man agreed.

The lovers stood and headed into the house, but Jack had barely been able to shut the patio door before the two were sealed in a deep locking of their lips.

“Who needs a bed?” Jack asked as the two collapsed down to the floor.

“What's a bed?” Daniel asked as he straddled his soulmate.

“No clue,” Jack responded, his hands working on disrobing the lower half of his Love's body.

“I *hate* buttons,” Daniel griped, giving up on the button on Jack's pants and just pulling it, causing the button to fly off and land on the coffee table.

“First my shirts, now my pants,” Jack stated, referring to Daniel's habit of snapping off his shirt buttons during their lead in to their lovemaking.

“You want me to fix it now?” Daniel asked, his voice a bit exasperated.

“No.  No, no, ah, no,” Jack answered as he felt Daniel's hand swipe against his hardening length as his clothing was pulled downward.

“You sure?  I could just ...” Daniel began, his body reaching over to the side in the direction of the disconnected button.  “Gawd!” he exclaimed, feeling his soulmate's hand against his burgeoning shaft.

“I said no,” Jack stated firmly.

The younger man smiled as the two returned to their joint task of pleasuring each other.  Over the next minute of touches and kisses, they managed to remove all of their clothing so that now they were naked body on top of naked body.  Their kisses were fiery as their hands stroked the other's skin and toyed teasingly with their private parts.  It was a momentary game to see who would ultimately be the bottom to the other's top.

The lovers rolled over a few times, running into Jack's favorite chair once and the sofa a couple of times.  Each time they stopped threatened to end their game, but the potential 'bottom' always managed to squirm away.  It really had nothing to do with dominance, but, rather, it had everything to do with the fun of their passion.

Verbally, the two tended to play a game of banter, trading quips and barbs as routinely as others exchanged common greetings of 'hello' and 'goodbye'.  In their lovemaking, they were learning to explore in ways neither ever had before.  Sometimes, they couldn't wait for their intimacy to explode, but there were other times, too, like now, when the game made their ultimate union even riper with pleasure.

Suddenly, Jack heard an evil cackle.  He and his soulmate had just backed into the fireplace, and Daniel now had him pinned.

“Mine, O'Neill,” Daniel expressed happily as his hands rubbed tiny circles over his lover's pectoral muscles.

“That's the truth,” Jack agreed, not the least bit unhappy at having just lost the current game.  Bottoming wasn't a bad thing at all.  Having the younger man deep inside him was a joy, giving him a feeling that took him far beyond himself.  “Take me away, Love,” he requested, ready to be sent on a journey of indescribable depths.

Daniel's fingers slid tauntingly down Jack's chest, the fingers kneading his skin here and there and sometimes twisting some of the man's chest hairs that he found so sexy.

“Tease,” Jack called out, his body yearning for his Love.

“Going some where?” Daniel replied.

“I'm sure hoping to,” the older man responded, referring to the euphoria he was longing to experience.

“I'll do my best,” the younger man retorted as his one finger made contact inside his lover.

“Ah ... oh, yeah,” Jack gasped.  “Doing good.”

“I can do better,” Daniel promised, removing his teasing digit from inside the other man.

“That's *not* better,” Jack groaned, not liking the loss of contact.

“Trust me?”

“Always,” Jack replied, smiling.  His head snapped back a bit from the sudden thrusting of two fingers tapping against his prostate.  “Always,” he gasped.

Daniel was through with the preliminaries.  He wanted the older man's gasps to be louder and longer, matching his own grunts and groans.  He wanted it all, and he wanted it now.  He moved slightly, adjusting himself to be centered over Jack, and the palms of his hands were positioned firmly on his love's chest.  With care, he eased his shaft inside, his eyes closing from the instant pleasure.

Jack let out a moan, the sensation his ticket to the bliss he was eager to feel.

Slowly, the archaeologist began to move inside his colonel, staking his claim with each stroke, increasing his pace just a tad each time.

“Yes, Angel, yes,” Jack called as his pleasure increased, using the endearing nickname he'd only given to his beautiful lover a couple of months earlier during the Christmas festivities.

“Gawd, this is ... oh ...” Daniel called out as he worked his shaft with vigor, pushing it further inside Jack.  “Mmm ... oh ... yeeeeeah,” he grunted from his labors.

“You're ... so ... goooooooood ... Dan...ny,” Jack gasped, his fingers clawing the carpet, trying to hold on.

Daniel's movements became quicker and more powerful as he went as deep as he could go.  His hips swung forward hard to give him maximum thrust, the resulting impact causing Jack's body to actually move forward with each hit.

Jack's head was turning right, left, and then right again as his heart pounded more rapidly from the contact.  His eyes were closed, allowing himself to become even more lost in the intensity of the moment.

Sweat from both men was beginning to bead and then run along their bodies.

“Miiiiiiine,” Daniel cried out with the current thrust.

“Love you,” Jack called out, opening his eyes to look into his Heart's face, and Daniel was his heart.  He'd brought Jack back to life on Abydos, and now he was giving him the joy of living.  “DANNNNNNNY!” he yelled in response to his lover's length pounding against his prostate.

Daniel's head bowed down as he sought for even more power.  His body was moving quick and tightly.  He felt Jack's legs wrapping around his, giving him even more access and agility.  Both began to rock violently from the power of the moves as Daniel went deeper and harder.

“Lo...lo...I ...”

“Love,” Jack finished for his gasping soulmate.

“Yes,” Daniel affirmed, his shaggy hair covering his eyes now, the wet strands sometimes banging against Jack's face.

“YESSSSSSSSSSSS!” Jack shouted with the thundering feeling he had, urging Daniel on.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaoooooooouuuuuuuuuu...JAAAAAAAAACK!” Daniel yelled as his release flowed inside the older man.  He gasped several times, his panting loud as he settled onto Jack's chest, letting his length rest inside the other man.  “Oh.”

“Yeah, oh, yeah,” Jack gasped as his hands warmed the younger man's back.  His legs were still wrapped over Daniel's as the younger man recovered from his extremely satisfying workout.  The convulsions of their stomachs were almost tickling the other.  “Love you, Danny, so darn much.”

“I love you,” Daniel replied softly, his face against the sweat-soaked chest hairs that turned him on in previously unimaginable ways.

“Unfinished business, Love,” Jack spoke a moment later.  His own length was still hard and erect, and it was screaming for attention.  It hadn't been planned as such, but round two was on the horizon.  “More.  Geez, I love more.”

“Too,” a very contented Daniel replied.

“Over,” Jack instructed.

Daniel slid his length out and then climbed off his lover, taking a position on his hands and knees, while Jack, on one knee, leaned up against his rear end and began the same taunting of his fingers within the tender area inside the younger man.  He waited only a fast minute, though, before entering his lover.

The older man's thrusts were immediately fast; they'd already had the foreplay.  Both now wanted the sensation that intensity brought.

The younger man moaned with each touch of the older man's shaft inside him.  He wanted more and bent over a bit, raising his rear end, hoping it would help Jack make stronger hits against his prostate.

“Yes!” Jack called out, his strikes making the younger man gasp more deeply.  “Love you, Danny.  I'm yours.  You're mine.”

“Yeee...sssss,” Daniel moaned in agreement.

As he pounded away, Jack threw his head back, trying for another angle.  It gave him more strength for a minute.  Then he leaned forward more.  Each move gave both he and Daniel a different feeling, eliciting moans and sounds of physical pain that was the best kind of pain.  Finally, with one last grunt that came from all the strength he had left in him, Jack's barrage ended, his length releasing its joy inside Daniel.

Both men dropped down, Daniel's chest against the carpet, and Jack's against his lover's back, his shaft lingering inside the younger man for a few seconds before slipping out.

Jack cradled his head against his lover's broad shoulder blades, his forehead feeling the wet ends of Daniel's long hair.  He sighed from the happiness he felt. This was truly heaven for him.

“I love you, Angel,” Jack spoke, his words raspy with his heavy breath as he tried to recover from their lovemaking.

“Love you, too, Jack, so much,” Daniel said, rolling over to look into his lover's eyes.

“When we're together, Danny, the rest of the world doesn't exist,” Jack spoke, grateful for their union and how it made him feel.

“What world?”

Jack grew thoughtful and then answered, “I don't know.  There's only us.”

“Our own nation,” Daniel sighed.

“A nation of two: you and me,” Jack stated.

“A nation of two?” Daniel echoed in question.  He smiled and then sighed, “I like the sound of that.  It's very ... diplomatic.”

“Diplomatic?” Jack groaned.  “Danny, it's supposed to be romantic.”

“Oh, well, it's that, too,” the younger man chuckled as his hands flirted with Jack's salt and pepper hair.  As his smile ebbed, he said, “I really do believe it, Jack.  If the world were just us, I think I could be ...”

“Happy?  The word, Danny, is happy.”

“Yeah, that,” the archaeologist spoke.  “I really could be.”

“Believe it, Love.  You and me, our nation, it's forever,” Jack promised.

~I want it to be,~ Daniel thought, but he was too afraid to believe in anything more than today.  ~Today is good, though,~ he sighed happily.

“I have a suggestion,” Jack spoke, interrupting the other man's thoughts.

“Hmmm.  What?”

“Let's take our nation of two to the shower and hold each other under the waterfall.”

Daniel grinned and said, “The waterfall?”

“We can pretend,” Jack said, smiling slyly.

“Just hold each other?”

“I like holding you.”

“Me, too,” Daniel agreed.  “I mean ... I like it when ... you know.”

Letting out small sounds of laughter, the lovers stood up.  They kissed gently, lovingly, and tenderly.  Their eyes communicated more than their words ever could. Tonight, for the first time, they'd spoken out loud that they were a nation of two, two people, so in love, that they didn't need anyone, or anything, else to be happy.

Joyful to be together, and hopeful of a forever that would never end, Jack and Daniel walked upstairs to their waterfall, where they would hold each other and kiss and fondle, just enjoying the touches of their special love.  Even though Daniel's insecurities prevented him from trusting himself completely, in the deepest part of his heart and soul, he knew that their relationship was real.  Come rain or come shine, their love for each other was the one real thing in the world both could depend on.

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