Dark Demons

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: 2 - May 6-7, 1999
Spoilers: Serpent's Song
Written: April 15, 2007, November 11, 2009, February 16,25,28, March 1-2,10, 2021
Summary: Apophis seeks asylum at Stargate Command, during which time an emotional discovery is realized.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~

Dark Demons
by Orrymain

It was early morning, just after 8 a.m., when SG-1 gated to meet with the Tok'ra on PB5-926. The problem was that they'd been waiting for over an hour with no signs of anyone joining them. They were, to be frank, bored beyond belief.

Dressed in their desert camos, SG-1 relaxed as they waited, most of them seated on the steps that led up and down from the Stargate. Jack sat down on the top step with his weapon resting atop his left knee. Four steps below, Daniel, wearing his preferred boonie versus the caps being sported by Jack and Sam, leaned on his left side, using a step to prop himself up slightly. Sam sat higher up from the archaeologist and to his right, down just a step or two from Jack. Teal'c, however, was walking around the area and was near the DHD at the moment.

"Shouldn't they be here by now?" Daniel asked.

"Yes," the colonel responded succinctly.

"I do not believe the Tok'ra would mislead us," Teal'c opined.

"Well, assuming it *was* the Tok'ra who sent us the message to meet them here in the first place. I mean, all we really received was a ... a set of co-ordinates," the archaeologist stated.

"But on our radio frequencies. Who else would send us a signal like that?" Sam put forward.

"You know ..." Jack began as he turned to face his 2IC, "I'm not really too crazy about this 'don't call us, we'll call you' policy." As Teal'c walked away, the colonel questioned, "What do you think of the new guy, Ruffalo?"

"I've only met him once, Sir, but he seems okay to me," Sam replied.

"I may send him out with SG-2 on their next mission."

"Aren't they scheduled to return to P7J-989 next?"

"Yep, the home of our old pal, the gamekeeper."

"Do you think that's a fair first assignment?" Daniel queried.

The answer to the archaeologist's question was postponed by what happened next.

By the DHD, something began to disturb Teal'c. He slowed and then stopped any movement as he tried to figure out what bothered him. Finally, he heard a noise.

Looking upward and pointing, Teal'c shouted, "There!"

The other three teammates quickly went to their feet and walked down the steps. They heard a loud rumbling and then caught sight of a death glider as it approached, obviously wounded and heading for the ground. The attack on the object continued, causing several explosions to occur.

"Drop!" Jack ordered, prompting Daniel and Sam to get to the ground, though Teal'c remained standing and simply watched the action.

After the glider crashed, SG-1 hurried to where there was smoke and dust rising from the ground. Jack observed the cockpit was empty. He and Teal'c continued around the aircraft and went down a sandy dune where he noticed the assumed pilot crawling on the ground. His weapon was aimed at the unknown person who rolled over onto his left side, revealing his identity.

"Holy ... buckets," Jack spoke upon recognizing Apophis, the most notorious of the Goa'uld System Lords.

"Help me!" the Goa'uld begged.

Jack held his aim while in disbelief of what he was seeing.

~Help him? Oh, yeah, I'll help him alright. I'll send right to hell,~ Jack thought. Aware that both Daniel and Sam were now nearby, the colonel shifted his thoughts only slightly. Smugly, he uttered, "Weeellll ..."

"Whoa. Whoa. Is that who I think it is?" Daniel inquired as he and Sam arrived on scene and stood with their teammates. ~Now that may be the dumbest question I've ever asked. What's he doing here and where's Sha're?~

Pleading, Apophis spoke, "Tau'ri, please."

In response, Teal'c pointed his zat weapon at the System Lord and gave every indication that he intended to fire within the next few seconds. Jack gave the Jaffa a double take, but wasn't sure he would object if Teal'c fired on the Goa'uld.

Sensing this, Sam interjected, "Teal'c! Apophis is much more valuable to us alive than dead."

Reluctantly, Teal'c put his zat gun at ease.

~Too bad,~ Jack thought, though he glanced over at his archaeologist for a quick second and altered his opinion. ~Nope, Daniel needs some answers, and this snakehead better give him some.~

"Sir, we've got incoming," Sam called out as she raised her weapon, aiming at a number of aircraft in the sky.

Jack looked up and reacted with an "Oy" before ordering, "All right, dial us up. Get us out of here!"

The team just managed to get back through the Gate before the vessels fired on them, though Jack hesitated for several seconds to observe the one of the ships as it lowered itself to be almost eye level with him. He was the last team member to return to Earth, actually falling back onto the ramp to escape enemy fire.

At the foot of the ramp leading up to the Stargate at Cheyenne Mountain, Janet and her medical team were already evaluating the System Lord's condition.

Meanwhile, General Hammond approached his 2IC and asked expectantly, "Colonel?"

"General Hammond. Apophis," Jack introduced. "Apophis. General Hammond," he spoke smugly.

"We've met," Hammond responded with a scathing look.

"I demand Kal Mah!" Apophis exclaimed, prompting Jack to look over at the team's linguist.

"I'm not really sure, but I think what he's asking for is ..." Daniel began.

"Sanctuary," Teal'c said, cutting off Daniel's translation.

"Right."

"Why?" the general queried.

Pleased at the notion, Jack suggested, "I think some rival Goa'uld just kicked his butt."

"There were several other death gliders in pursuit when we took him prisoner, Sir," Sam noted.

Apophis repeated his demand, causing Hammond to state firmly, "You're not in a position to demand anything, Sir. Lock him up," he ordered several of the special forces guard that were present.

Janet insisted she be allowed to tend to Apophis' wounds, so Hammond relented, but he immediately instructed, "I want four SFs posted at all times. If he attempts to escape, you're authorized to do whatever is necessary to stop him." He faced his flagship team next. "We'll debrief at 1100 hours."

"Yes, Sir," Jack acknowledged. ~What a day, and it's not even time for lunch yet.~

====

The team changed into their blue BDUs and were called to the infirmary, where Hammond informally began the briefing. The major general felt the medical status of the System Lord was vital to the content of the meeting.

Apophis was attached to various medical equipment and monitors while also being in restraints to keep him tied to the hospital bed.

Hammond and SG-1 situated themselves on the observation deck so they could oversee whatever happened below. They were joined by Janet now that she'd reviewed Apophis' labs and tests.

"Both femurs were smashed, and there was internal bleeding. Surgery and transfusions have stabilized him for now," Janet advised.

Teal'c informed, "The Goa'uld symbiote within him will repair those injuries."

"Well, I think it's kept him alive so far, Teal'c, but take a look at his monitors," Janet requested. "See, what you're looking at is the actual symbiote attached to the host's brain stem. Now, do you see all these lesions? I mean, there's dozens of them. I can treat the human part, but as for the symbiote itself ..."

"There is no treatment," Sam assumed. She elaborated, "He's been tortured."

Sam suddenly had a flashback to her days as the Tok'ra Jolinar; specifically, when Jolinar was killed by an Ashrak. The device used then was the same one used on Apophis.

"Thank you, Doctor," Hammond spoke. "Let's adjourn to the briefing room." He again focused on Janet. "I'd like you to join us, Doctor, with as much detail as you can offer."

"Of course."

====

Jack and Daniel trailed the others to the Level 28 conference area where the briefing would continue.

"Jack, you seem ... angry."

"Sure, I'm angry," the colonel acknowledged. "That arrogant snake thinks we're going to save his life and he might be right."

"Okay, but why are you so mad? I'm the one who should be upset. I mean, uh, he has Sha're."

"Are you trying to tell me you aren't mad at that SOB?"

"No, I'm not."

Skeptically, Jack refuted, ""Oh, you're mad, Danny. You're just keeping it bottled up inside, covering with it up with fake calm."

"No ... I ..."

"Oh, yes."

The two walked inside the conference area and took their seats among the others.

====

Janet stated that Apophis was definitely dying. It could be days or weeks. She wasn't sure of when, but she asserted his body would continue to deteriorate.

"This kind of torture wasn't designed to extract information, it's a method of execution," Sam commented.

"So, what does he really want?" Jack asked.

Playing with a ballpoint pen, Daniel replied, "You heard him yourself. He wants sanctuary."

"I'm not buyin' that."

"He gambled we would show compassion even to our worst enemy. He was right."

"You think he orchestrated this?" Jack questioned. "Let me tell ya something. The only compassion I showed was by not blowin' his head off."

Teal'c added, "I have witnessed once powerful Goa'uld enter the service of their conquerors in exchange for life. When Apophis himself was a conqueror, it gave him great pleasure to see his enemies so weakened."

"Yeah, but we're a long way from being his conquerors," Sam pointed out.

"But we are greatly responsible for his downfall," the Jaffa reminded.

"He lost an Army when you destroyed those two ships in orbit," Hammond stated.

"Bra'tac did say that that seriously weakened his place among the Goa'uld System Lords," Sam noted.

Daniel surmised, "So, his blood is in the water and all the other sharks are having a feeding frenzy."

"And he has come here seeking refuge," Teal'c suggested.

"Well, that's tough. I say we beat whatever information we can out of old snake boy, open that Gate, and toss him back to the sharks."

Hammond warned, "Not so fast, Colonel. He's essentially a prisoner of war. That gives him certain rights."

"Rights, General?"

Sam brought up the host and said he needed to be considered as well, primarily because the host was innocent.

"Oh, come on!" an annoyed Jack exclaimed. "How much of the host do you think is still around after all this time?"

The discussion turned to the consideration of military intelligence. That's when Hammond told the team that their orders were to extract whatever information they could from Apophis. The meeting ended with Hammond requesting to be notified when the System Lord regained consciousness.

Daniel and most of the others left the room, leaving just Jack and Sam for a brief moment.

"Sir?" Sam prompted.

Picking up his papers, Jack heads for the door as he snapped, "I should've shot him."

====

Around noon, Jack and Daniel met up in the mess hall for lunch.

"Jack, I'm not angry, but you sure are. I heard what you said to Sam when the briefing ended."

"Good, then you know how I feel."

Daniel lowered his head for a moment and said, "I think you're mad because I'm not."

"Daniel, I was there on Abydos when that snake took Sha're and Skaara. We all almost died. Everything since then is because of his greed for power at any cost. Too many people have died. This is our chance to make sure he's gone for good."

Daniel nodded without saying anything.

"And if you're going to be so compassionate that you can't be angry at the monster that took your wife to be a host for his wifey, then, yes, I guess I have to be mad for both of us."

"Okay," the archaeologist returned quietly. "Maybe ... maybe I'm not sure what I feel, but if I am ... angry, I'd rather not announce it to everyone who works at the Mountain."

"You're holding it in, Danny, and if that's what you need to do right now, that's okay. I'll be there when the flood gates open and you come crashing down."

"I hope so."

"You can count on it," Jack assured. "Eat your soup."

"Gawd, you're incorrigible."

"Yes," Jack agreed with a sense of pride.

Changing the subject, Daniel asked, "Are you still going to send Ruffalo on SG-2's mission to P7J-989?"

Jack sighed, "You know, I've lost the sense of fun with that. Maybe I'll assign him to their next regular recon mission in a couple of weeks."

"That, uh, sounds like a good idea to me."

"I'm glad you approve," the colonel responded with a smile. He finished his meal and said, "I need to get to the infirmary."

"Any special reason?"

"No. I'm just thinking I should be there." Jack paused and admitted, "Sometimes the Doc is a bit too trusting."

"You're worried about Janet."

"Daniel, you know how she is," Jack stated. "He's her patient and she will ignore common sense to take care of him."

"You think he'd try to hurt her?"

"I wouldn't put anything passed him," the colonel said as he stood up. "I'll check in with you later." Before leaving, he urged, "Finish your salad. You need your veggies."

"Sure thing, Dad," Daniel teased, chuckling as Jack left the room.

====

Jack observed Janet as she tended to Apophis and then responded to a request from the System Lord to speak with him, leaving the observation area and going to the patient's bedside.

"O'Neill, I am dying."

"My heart bleeds for ya," Jack replied, putting his hands in his pockets. ~And that's about all the compassion you are going to get from me.~

"You lie poorly. It is you who have done this. You rejoice."

"Not really. What do you want?"

"To live."

"Can't help you there. That's between you and your god." Jack smirked as he had a realization hit him. "Oh, wait a minute. You are your god." With a good deal of sarcasm, he added, "That's a problem."

"I am worth far more to you than you will admit."

"You tell me. What are you worth?"

"Your people, they are still primitive. You will be destroyed," Apophis put forth.

"You don't look like you're up to it."

"Not me. There is another."

"Yeah. Who?"

"There is much you would learn from me, Tau'ri," Apophis claimed and then wheezed. "But for that knowledge, there is a price ... a new host."

"A host?" Jack asked. ~He's out of his friggin' mind.~

"So that I may live, in exchange for all the knowledge of the Goa'uld. The secrets of star travel, weapons, our power."

"All that?" Jack asked mockingly.

"In time, more."

Jack leaned in close to the System Lord, then smiled as he responded, "Go to Hades."

"A single human life is worth so much you would risk a world," Apophis rebutted.

"That's right. That's why they call us the good guys." Jack stared for a moment and then told Janet, "Doc, let me know when he dies."

As the colonel walked towards the door, Apophis called out, "Sokar."

Jack stopped and turned around as he queried, "What?"

"An ancient and powerful Goa'uld. You have helped him to become strong. The last of my loyal Jaffa died stealing me from his grasp. He will not rest until I am found. That is why I chose to come here. So that in death, I can be assured that you can die with me."

~Great. Thanks for the Intel,~ Jack thought as he left the room.

====

"Daniel," Jack called out as he entered his lover's lab. "Hey, why are the lights off?"

From behind his desk, Daniel answered, "I was ... soul searching."

"For what?"

"Anger. Madness. Upset. Irritation. Annoyance. Anything to match the emotion you have and think I should have, too."

"Find anything?"

Standing, the archaeologist walked over to stand in front of the colonel, who was leaning back against the work table.

"I found ... hate," Daniel informed. "I ... hate Apophis. He took Sha're and made her a host. He took Skaara and made him a host. He tried to destroy the Nox, and he's just plain obnoxious and arrogant and ..."

"... one nasty bad guy," Jack completed for the younger man.

"Yes," Daniel affirmed. "So, I feel hate, but there's no anger in me; at least, none that I can detect or, maybe just nothing there right now. I think you're ..."

"... being angry for both of us."

"Yes." Daniel smiled slightly and confided, "I worry about you when you get so carried away in this anger. It's, it's like you have a double dose of hostility because you're angry about Sha're, about Skaara, about the Nox ..."

"... and about you and how that monster has hurt you."

"But I'm here and I wish you'd try, a little, to let you go because, well, maybe before he dies, I will get mad. I don't know."

"I'm here, Danny, whenever you need me."

"I know."

Jack let out a big sigh, "But we have problems that go way beyond any irritation I have for Apophis. We need Teal'c and Carter."

Daniel nodded and went to his phone to contact the two teammates.

====

"Sokar is a Goa'uld of ancient times. He once was ruler of the system lords, but was defeated by an alliance of Goa'uld many centuries ago. Apophis and Ra were among his conquerors," Teal'c stated.

"Where did he go?" Sam inquired.

"Apophis himself believed him destroyed, but, obviously, he was mistaken."

"Well, if he was almost wiped out, how bad could he be now?" Jack asked. He saw Teal'c's questioning expression. "It's rhetorical, Teal'c."

Reviewing his research on the computer, Daniel noted, "His name's also very old in Earth mythology. He was the most feared deity in ancient Egypt, the original God of Death."

"Got anything a little more up-to-date?"

Daniel responded, "Well, I don't know what he's been up to lately, but according to the book of the dead, there was a time he ruled all of Earth. His lands around Memphis were covered by darkness and inhabited by ... serpents."

Teal'c looked at the image currently on the computer screen and observed, "Unas: the first hosts of the Goa'uld."

"Well, that makes sense," Daniel returned. "I mean, if the Unas were the first ones, then there had to be a time when both forms of Goa'uld hosts co-existed, kind of like Neanderthal ..."

"Which is he?" the colonel interrupted to ask.

"I don't know, but his portion of Tuat, or the otherworld, was filled with lakes of fire, where the wicked were thrown into as punishment after torture and mutilation."

"Hell," Jack surmised.

"Yeah. Basically, he was the original Satan."

"Well, isn't that special," Jack quipped just as the klaxons began to blare and the announcement of an incoming traveler came over the public address system. "Speak of the devil," he retorted as he and his team headed for the control room.

====

The iris was engaged as several heavily armed SFs took their places in the gate room. All heard a loud thud before the wormhole shut down.

"Is there anyway to determine what that was?" Hammond asked.

Sam answered, "Yes, Sir. We can get a radiation team in there to check the decay signature on the iris."

While that process began, Jack told Hammond he wanted to interrogate Apophis further, but Daniel put forth, "Sir, I'm kind of the resident expert on Sokar around here. I'd kind of like a shot at the interrogation."

Hammond considered the request and looked for input from Jack, who wasn't so sure Daniel should be alone with Apophis.

~Can't stop him.~ The colonel replied, "Yeah, go ahead."

"Son, are you sure about this?" Hammond asked as he turned to go to his office.

Jack followed and answered, "No, Sir, but he is the expert on these ... gods, and he might be able to get Intel out of Apophis that we can't."

"Because of his wife," Hammond assumed.

"Yes, Sir."

"Jack ..."

"I'm on it, Sir."

Hammond nodded and shut his office door, leaving Jack to covertly oversee his lover's questioning of the Goa'uld in custody.

====

Daniel entered the infirmary and asked the nurse attending to Apophis if he was conscious.

"Come, Daniel," Apophis beckoned.

~Maybe I am angry,~ Daniel thought as he slowly and cautiously approached the bedside of his enemy. "You know my name?"

"Because of what we hold in common, Amaunet, my queen."

Daniel looked away, an inner pain stabbing him, but he returned his focus to Apophis and corrected in a quiet tone, "Her name is Sha're. She is my wife."

"They are one and the same."

"Amaunet possesses her. Sha're is a prisoner, but she is somewhere. I want you to tell me where."

Apophis said the name, "Amaunet," and then smugly stated, "I loved her." Looking at the archaeologist he said, "You do not believe me."

"No. No, I ... I don't think that's possible."

"How could you? Our minds, our knowledge, our very being is so much greater, so much more."

~Alright. I just found my anger. I hate him and help me someone, I want him to suffer the emotional pain I have.~ With outward calm, he told the patient, "I know where your child is." He saw his words disturbed the System Lord. ~Okay, that feels good. Gawd, I'm horrible.~

"My son?"

"Yes. I brought him into the world with my own hands on Abydos."

"He was taken by Heru'ur."

"No." Sounding about as evil as Daniel ever could, he corrected, "By me."

Apophis glared at his human adversary and then dismissed the topic.

"I have no use for the child now. Amaunet ..." the System Lord sneered, "I knew from the moment I laid eyes on her, she was a vessel for a queen."

Daniel's blood was running cold. He wasn't used to feeling this way. In mere minutes, he'd gone from basic hate to complete anger. Jack, apparently, was right. He was covering up his emotions, hiding them. Now, though, his strong emotion turned into a deadly sensation.

Daniel leaned in close to Apophis and, in a chilling whisper, said, "If you don't tell me where she is, I'll kill you right here."

"You have neither the strength nor the will."

Just then, Sam approached the doorway, indicating the archaeologist was needed.

Truth be told, Daniel was relieved that his threat was interrupted. He needed to rein in his feelings. Now was his chance. He joined Sam in the hallway, where he leaned back against the wall for support.

"We ... we think that thud we heard hitting the iris was a Sagan box. Its radioactive signature matches the one we gave the Tok'ra. They're coming here."

Sam walked away while Daniel remained for a moment. He glanced back into the infirmary and then followed his friend.

Meanwhile, Jack let out a big sigh. He'd witnessed the entire confrontation from the observation deck.

~I think you just found the mad zone, Danny,~ the colonel conceded inwardly. ~No time to deal with it now. Let's get through this nightmare and then I'll fix it; I'll fix you later.~

The colonel hurried to the control room, sprinting as he traversed the corridors and managed to reach the site just before Sam entered, followed by Daniel. Jack tried to look calm, as if he'd been there for a while already. He motioned to Teal'c not to say anything.

====

The incoming traveler was, fortunately, the Tok'ra and not Sokar. Sam was happy to see Martouf again. Two other Tok'ra were also with him.

Martouf told the earthlings that he came to give them a "word of warning."

"Which is?" Jack queried.

"We know you have Apophis as your prisoner. You must return him to the planet you retrieved him from immediately." The Tok'ra later advised, "Our operatives aboard Sokar's vessel witnessed you leave the crash site and enter the Stargate."

Sam reported, "We received a signal, a set of coordinates. We had thought it came from you."

"We sent no such signal."

"We know that now," Jack stated.

The overall feeling was that Apophis sent the message, aware he was losing his fight and wanting to take the Tau'ri down with him.

There was some intense back and forth during the briefing with the Tok'ra, especially when Martouf's symbiote insisted the Tau'ri were acting foolishly and claimed they would all die.

"... if not by the hand of Sokar, then by the many Goa'uld who would wish to destroy Apophis themselves. You do not see what you have done. You've entered a battle in which you are ill-equipped to fight; tipped the balance of power among the Goa'uld, and in so doing, worsened the fortune of your entire race," the symbiote named Lantash stated harshly.

The latest medical report from Janet indicated Apophis was dying and his body was rapidly aging, which made sense since there was no sarcophagus available to Apophis to use to rejuvenate his body.

"In the short time he has remaining, we may yet learn information that could help us to defend ourselves," Hammond put forward.

Lantash negated, "The knowledge and technology are too primitive for such information to be of any use." Strongly, he challenged, "Why don't you comprehend the danger you are in? We cannot defend you from the Goa'uld. You cannot expect us to."

"We don't," Jack insisted with a glare.

Finally, Martouf retook control and apologized for Lantash's attitude.

The briefing ended and Martouf was taken to the infirmary to speak with the System Lord. The Tok'ra was astounded that Janet continued to treat the Goa'uld.

"He is my patient," the physician returned when the Tok'ra pointed out that Apophis was an enemy.

Martouf attempted to speak with Apophis, but he was in great pain, and then something unexpected happened.

The eyelids of the host opened. He looked around, totally confused and afraid. He spoke in his own voice for the first time in who knows how long.

"See-mu-we! See-mu-we!"

"That's ancient Egyptian. This must be the host," Daniel told the others. He knew he should try to communicate with the host, but the linguist was stunned to silence. "I don't know what to say," he admitted just before the host passed out. "Thousands of years trapped inside your own body. It's ... it's like a nightmare. It's ... unimaginable."

"He won't be conscious again for a while," Janet advised.

With another announcement of an incoming traveler heard, SG-1 and the Tok'ra hurried to the gate room where it became obvious that Sokar was trying to break through the iris.

"His pilots saw your kind flee with Apophis through the Chappa'ai. Symbols for the Tau'ri are well known among the Goa'uld," Martouf explained as to how the so-called god found the Tau'ri Stargate.

Even with the Trinium Titanium iris, an image made its way through, surprising everyone.

Martouf speculated that, "The space between your metal barrier and the wormhole may be enough for particles of extremely high energy to reintegrate."

"Subatomic particles?" Sam asked.

"Yes."

"Are you saying he's firing a particle accelerator at the wormhole?" Sam heard Hammond call her name in expectation of an explanation. "Sir, we may be witnessing the decay of subatomic particles as they're being bombarded against the iris; small enough to reintegrate, but moving at nearly light velocity. If Sokar can modulate the particle stream enough to create an actual image ..."

"People of the Tau'ri," Sokar stated. "You have taken what is mine. For this, you will be destroyed."

At that point, the iris began to heat up.

Hammond asked, "How long can they maintain this?"

Sam answered, "The longest single Goa'uld attack against the iris was thirty-eight minutes. We think that's the maximum a wormhole can be maintained before it collapses."

"They're just going to dial us up and do all of this all over again," Daniel pointed out.

Hammond responded, "This changes things. I better get on the phone with the President."

====

With little to accomplish where they were, Jack ordered Sam and Teal'c to interrogate Apophis further. Meanwhile, he planned on having a little chat with his soulmate. With that in mind, he quietly escorted his lover to the archaeologist's lab on Level 18. When they entered, Jack ensured both doors were closed and locked. He also turned off the camera. He next observed his Love staring at relics on a shelf, his body still with arms folded tightly across his chest.

"Danny ..." Jack didn't get a response, so he walked closer and opined, "That couldn't have been easy, to hear the snake calling out for Amaunet."

Daniel turned and stared at the other man and replied, "You spied on me."

Neither Jack nor Daniel discussed how the archaeologist knew Jack was present on the observation deck as it was unnecessary. Daniel, through his worst negative emotion, sensed the colonel's presence. He felt it. If he admitted to the truth, he would reveal he wasn't even surprised to know Jack was there.

"It was Hammond, too. He was worried about you dealing with Apophis on your own, and frankly, so was I."

"I can take care of myself, Jack, and the man is in confinement. I wasn't at risk."

"Physically, no, but emotionally, you're all riled up now. You're still holding it tight to your vest, but you're a mess. Admit it."

"Did you hear it all?"

"Pretty much."

"I ... didn't realize I'd feel how I did until I walked in," Daniel confessed. "I really just wanted to get information from him, but he knew my name and suddenly ... I don't know, everything changed." He sighed and walked to another corner of his lab, mindlessly staring at an item brought back by SG-6 on a recent mission. "I told him I'd kill him." The words were spoken softly and vulnerably and then there was a solicitations, "Jack."

The colonel didn't need to hear more. He went to the younger man and took him into his arms, holding him tightly.

"You would never kill him. Oh, if he was attacking you or the team, or trying to hurt anyone, yes, you'd do whatever was necessary, but ... cold blooded murder? No, Danny, that's not in your DNA."

"I felt ... an intense anger I've never felt before. He mocked me, Jack," Daniel asserted as he leaned his head against Jack's strong shoulder for comfort.

"Yeah, he's an arrogant one and he loves to talk a big game."

"You were right."

"About what?"

"He almost broke me when he called out for Amaunet. She's Sha're, and I'm responsible for her. Two years, Jack. For two years, she's been forced to do the bidding of the Goa'uld."

"We'll get her back," Jack replied, though he was ridden with guilt that so much time had passed without the woman being rescued. He'd originally been certain SG-1 would have found Sha're and had her back within months. Now it was years on the calendar. ~Dang it.~

"I guess I shouldn't let him get to me so much," Daniel sighed as he pulled away slightly from his soulmate's hold.

"You're only human, Danny."

"I know."

Jack warmed his Love's upper arms a few times with gentle up and down strokes before asking, "Are you okay ... now?"

"I'm better. Thank you, Jack. Gawd, you know me better than I know me sometimes."

"I just know how I'd feel in the same scenario. Just remember, Apophis is always going to try to pull your chain. You can't let him."

"Be tough, like you."

"That would be a good idea, at least until we're home alone."

====

In the infirmary, Sam didn't get anywhere in her questioning of Apophis, but Teal'c was ready to watch the System Lord died. He even began to interfere with Janet treating him, but in the end, he moved away so she could administer to the Goa'uld.

====

Back in the lab on Level 18, Jack and Daniel were talking about the rising heat of the iris and trying to come up with ideas. Unfortunately, neither had been able to think of anything that might help.

"I'd better go check with Hammond and see if anything's changed," Jack stated. "I'll talk to you later."

Daniel started to walk to his desk, but stopped when he spotted his telephone.

"A busy signal," the archaeologist said to the empty room. Quickly, he turned and ran into the hallway. "Jack!"

The colonel stopped walking and turned back to face the scientist as he responded, "Yeah?"

Approaching the colonel in a standard pace, Daniel asked, "Jack, what if we dialed out? I mean, if the Stargate's engaged ..."

"Yeah. Come on," Jack urged as the two head purposely to talk with General Hammond.

====

While Sergeant Siler leading the fight to cool down the iris in the gate room, Jack and Daniel entered the control room where Hammond was at the moment.

"General, Daniel just came up with an idea that might buy us some time," Jack advised.

Daniel quickly suggested, "Sir, if we can dial out, we can prevent them from dialing in for as long as we can keep the Gate open."

"Good thinking, Doctor. If we can keep our Gate open for the same length of time ..."

The three waited as Sokar's hold on the Stargate finally ended at the thirty-eight minute mark. Quickly, Jack gave the order to the technician.

"Go ahead, Dial it up."

After the second chevron was encoded, Daniel spoke, "The only thing I'm worried about is that ..." Just then, an incoming wormhole established. "Sokar can dial in faster than we can dial out."

SGC would have to wait for this wormhole to end before they could try again to dial out. Sam, however, was working hard on a program to accelerate the speed of the Stargate dialing out. This became her sole focus as the hours elapsed.

====

"The temperature in the gate room now reads one-hundred-thirty degrees Fahrenheit, which means the iris must be six or eight times that," Hammond reported when he gathered together his flagship team and other personnel to review the current status of their problem.

"Even if he fails to breech the Gate, he will come by ship," Martouf asserted.

"Martouf is right. What we really need to be concerned with here is another assault from space. That's exactly what we're inviting by refusing to hand Apophis over," Sam said.

"Well, we couldn't right now, even if we wanted to," Daniel pointed out.

"Not with Beelzebub banging at the door, no," Jack agreed.

Hammond advised, "I've informed the President of our new situation. Our new orders are to cease all medical intervention."

"That will effectively end his life, General," Janet pointed out.

"I'm aware of that, Doctor. The President and Joint Chiefs have decided that the risks are too great not to heed the Tok'ra's warning. Our orders are to send Apophis' body back through the Gate to the coordinates where you found him."

"Will that be sufficient to make Sokar cease his attack, Martouf?" Teal'c inquired.

Martouf responded, "Sokar is at war with Heru'ur. He wants no part of the Tau'ri for the moment, but you may have come to your senses too late. He will soon burn through your iris."

Sam interjected, "Well, I've been working on a way to dial out faster. If we can open our Gate in the next window, we should be able to send Apophis through."

"When is that?" the colonel queried.

Sam checked her watch and answered, "Seventeen minutes."

Hammond ordered, "Colonel, make arrangements to send Apophis back through the Stargate."

====

With the briefing over, Jack headed for the infirmary. He walked in and saw an even older looking Apophis. The colonel couldn't help himself. He felt a little chipper about what was about to happen.

Jack approached the bedside of the System Lord and called out, "Apophis." When the Goa'uld looked at him, he said, "We're sending you back."

The response was unexpected. It was the host, weakly speaking in Egyptian. That was different. Jack despised Apophis, but this was a man, a being forced into slavery. Suddenly, what Jack felt was compassion. He looked over at an SF who was standing guard.

"Get Doctor Jackson down here."

~Okay, you slithering piece of scum, you have a momentary reprieve because this man you've been torturing for however long you've been in control of him deserves some peace.~ Jack walked forward and said calmly, "Someone's coming who can help you. Hang on. He'll be here in a minute."

The colonel knew the host couldn't understand him, but there was a look of calm that seemed to take over, as if the host could sense Jack's compassion for him. Together, they waited for Daniel to arrive.

====

"Jack?" Daniel called out when entering the room.

"It's the host. I thought ..."

"Yeah," Daniel responded as he went to the bedside of the ancient man and listened to his words. "He says he's been in an unending dream. He hoped to awaken from it to see his wife and his children." More words were spoken with sadness and confusion. "He was a scribe in the temple of Amon at Karnak, but that was another lifetime ago, before the ... before the nightmare." The linguist listened intently to the host. "... and now he awakens only to die again."

Jack watched, feeling an awe for how Daniel was able to respond to the host, even though inside of the man was the Goa'uld who took Sha're and was keeping her from him. He listened as the linguist spoke to the host in Egyptian.

"I said I will speak the words of power and do the rites. He will be returned to Egypt and buried with honor. He will pass through the seven gates and see your wife and children again and rejoice with them forever. I'll be back."

"Daniel ..."

"I have to hurry, Jack. It's okay," Daniel assured as he headed back to his office.

Jack actually smiled at the weakened and frightened host, trying to give him some assurance that everything was alright.

Then, though, the eyes of the man glowed and Jack knew exactly what that meant. All signs of any softening of the colonel disappeared.

"Help me," Apophis pleaded.

"No."

"A host."

"No."

After another glow of his eyes, Apophis admitted, "I am ... afraid."

Jack felt nothing useful about the fear of the dying System Lord. He wanted it to be over and wondered if it was when Apophis suddenly gasped violently.

Janet moved in to examine Apophis and reported the Goa'uld was dead, but that the host was still alive.

====

Daniel returned to the room with a small funerary statue that he put on the tray table before talking to the host.

"I told him this funerary statue will take his last breath and carry his soul back to Egypt," Daniel told those who were watching nearby.

Minutes passed in silence and then Daniel said, "I think he's dead."

Janet reviewed the monitors and examined the body before replying, "Yes, he's dead," and pulling the cover up over the deceased's head in respect.

"Well, I guess it's over," Jack said calmly.

Right then, Teal'c joined the group and announced, "CaptainCarter has succeeded in creating an outgoing wormhole. Sokar cannot attack during this time."

"That's good," Jack responded.

The Jaffa noticed the sheet over the body and pulled it back for a moment as he took in that the System Lord was finally dead.

"Okay, nothing else to do here. Teal'c, bring the body," Jack instructed as the group headed for the gate room where a few minutes later, the Jaffa released the dead body of Apophis into the wormhole. The Gate shut down. ~Done.~

"What now?" Daniel asked.

"We wait," Jack returned.

Sam put forth, "If Sokar wanted him alive, he'll just start up the attack again."

Martouf refuted, "No. I don't believe he will. Sokar has a sarcophagus in his possession. With it, he can revive Apophis even through death and torture him as long as he pleases." He saw the solemn looks exchanged by SG-1 and added, "Surely, a fate he justly deserves."

After that, Martouf and the other Tok'ra prepared to depart Stargate Command, but before doing so, he gave the Tau'ri a device they could use to contact the Tok'ra.

"That's Tollan. They used it to contact the Nox," Daniel observed.

"Yes, we are friends of the Tollan, and we are friends of the Tau'ri," Martouf professed.

Jack then gave Martouf a GDO to use when the Tok'ra wanted to contact the Tau'ri.

With the Tok'ra gone and the temperature back to normal, SG-1 finished out their day and went home for the night.

====

By the time Jack and Daniel returned to the suburban home they both loved, it was after one in the morning. While they would have preferred to spend some time recouping from the previous day's events on the roof deck, it was too cold to be outside, especially with a growing wind from north. As a result, the two settled in on the sofa. Jack sat on the far left of the comfortable item at a diagonal with Daniel nestled in next to him so that his back was mostly against his Love. This allowed Jack's arms to wrap around Daniel, keeping him both safe and warm.

"Crazy day," Jack said. "How are you doing?"

"It's funny, but I'm okay. It's like I had that one moment, a moment I don't really want to even think about, but now I'm ... I'm calm."

"We had a lot of distractions; they might have influenced you there."

"Yeah: Sokar, the host."

"You didn't get his name?"

"There was no time," Daniel replied. "But we know something now, Jack, that we didn't know before."

"Which is?"

"There's time and there's hope for all the people who are forced into slavery as hosts. I mean, Apophis has used this host for ... hundreds or thousands of years, and the host was still there. We've, we've known for a while that something of the host remained. Sha're showed us that when I was with her and delivered her baby, but now we know that the host can survive, well, until the body dies. Don't you see, Jack? That's incredible knowledge."

"Yeah, I have to agree. I'm not sure how much it will change things, at least in fighting the Goa'uld."

"I know," Daniel sighed. "We can't really consider the host in battle, but we can when battles end."

"Yeah, maybe." There were a few minutes of silence before Jack uttered, "So, Carter and Martouf? Definite sparks flew around those two."

Daniel chuckled, "She's intrigued by him, and he obviously likes her."

"Do you think a long distance relationship, planet to planet, could ever work?"

"I have no idea."

"I just wish the Tok'ra were a little more forthcoming, and don't talk to me about being primitive or young. The Tok'ra just love being secretive."

"I won't argue, but they're operating how they believe it's best." Daniel smiled. "You gave Martouf a GDO."

"Yeah, well, if we are going to work with them, we need to make sure they don't go splat against the iris."

"Progress," Daniel remarked.

"Maybe Carter can dig up some helpful tech with that Tollan communication thing the Tok'ra left with us."

"There's a possibility, but, uh, I think we should be grateful the Tok'ra gave it to us. It will make future contact easier and prevent fake messages like we received from Apophis."

"There's that."

"What about your, uh ... feelings?" Daniel probed.

"My anger?" the older man queried. "What you saw was pretty much how I felt at the time. Call it venting. I let it all hang loose."

"So, you were mad the entire time?"

"No," Jack admitted. "There was a short time after I told Apophis we were sending him back."

"When the host emerged," Daniel surmised.

"I looked into his eyes, Danny, and saw a man out of his time, who didn't have a clue what was happening. I saw fear and I saw someone stolen from their family. In that moment, he was only a man and I felt his pain. Then Apophis took over, puffed out some nonsense about getting him a new host, and died."

Silence overtook the two men for a while, which was perfectly fine. Their emotional recuperation from missions gone bad often tended to be moments like this one, where they simply held onto each other and let seconds tick on by.

Finally, though, Jack asked, "Want a sandwich or something to eat?"

"No, I'm not hungry."

"How about a beer?"

"No," Daniel replied. Thirty seconds went by when the archaeologist asked a question of his own. "Jack, you know what I'd like to do right now?"

"What?"

"You know."

Jack looked at his life partner and asked with hope, "You know, you know?"

"You know," a grinning Daniel affirmed.

"Good thinking."

"Thank you," Daniel said.

With that, the lovers left behind any thoughts of Apophis, Sokar, and the Tok'ra, focusing instead on making love and rejuvenating their positive emotions. They wouldn't get much sleep before needing to report to Cheyenne Mountain in the morning, but neither cared. What they did care about was their nation of two, something that couldn't be touched by another human being or any alien. For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, life wasn't always easy and, in fact, was often filled with conflict and anguish, but no matter what, they had each other and that was all they needed.

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

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