Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Claudia!
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C, Action/Adventure, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Spoilers: The Nox; Torment of Tantalus, The Fifth Race, A Hundred Days (minor)
Written: April 29-30, May 1,5-8,15-16, June 18-19, July 5-6, 2004 Revised for consistency: February 3, 2007
Summary: A strange power burst sends Jack and Daniel to an unknown world where they become stranded. Can they find their way home to Earth?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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: QuinGem, Laryssa, Kalimyre, Drdjlover!
by Orrymain and Claudia
“Well, this has been a lot of fun,” Jack complained as he tapped on his
P-90 and glanced upwards at the setting suns of PS8-753.
“It wasn't a total loss, Sir,” Sam spoke up bravely. “We were able to confirm sizeable deposits of naquadah.”
Jack nodded, but was anxious to get back to Earth and ordered, “Let's head home, Kids.”
SG-1 had been on the planet in the hopes of securing a new energy source they had heard rumors about from various allies. The MALP readings had indicated a high reading of something unidentifiable, but after three days of endless scientific testing during which Jack began to wish he had a phone book to read just to have something to do, the results of the tests had been a bust, apparently a false reading Sam attributed to a combination of the planet's strange electrical storms and the natural elements in the soil.
Still, they had been able to find naquadah deep below the surface. It would have to be mined, but that was often the case. They were pleased to have found it, but they had been hoping the new source would be easier to refine and store than naquadah was.
As SG-1 finished packing up their equipment, a new storm began.
“Another storm has begun, O'Neill.”
“You don't say, Teal'c. I couldn't tell,” Jack said sarcastically as he jumped to avoid a bolt of energy that landed where he had just been standing. “Too close. Let's get out of here.”
As best as Sam had been able to determine, the strange electrical storms of the planet didn't produce lightening exactly as on Earth, but some other burst of power that was more painful than deadly. She had wondered if the power burst could be harnessed and channeled into some kind of energy, but didn't have the right equipment to study it more closely. She planned on submitting a request for a return to the planet with the proper equipment at a later date.
Each member of SG-1 had been zapped by it at least once, but unlike the electrifying tingles and burning that Earth lightning produced (assuming a person survived a run-in with lightning in the first place), they felt a stab of pain, as if the burst had literally walked through their bodies. It never lasted longer than a few seconds, and afterwards, they all seemed fine.
At the Stargate, Sam walked towards the DHD.
“Whoa, there, Major.”
“Sir?” Sam stopped two feet short of the dial home device and turned to face her CO.
“Since when did you become the dialer?”
“Sir?” Sam was confused.
“How come Daniel dialed the Gate for three plus years and now all of a sudden you are doing it all the time?”
Sam and Daniel exchanged a look and a shrug of their shoulders.
“I, uh, don't know, Colonel. One day we were here and Daniel was loaded down with relics and ... well, I dialed home. We laughed about it, and, uh, come to think of it, the next time out he goaded me into doing it again, and the next time you ordered me to, Sir.”
“I did? Why?”
“That's a good question, Jack.” Daniel moved in front of his lover. “Why did you?”
“I DON'T know,” Jack answered defensively. “What were you doing at the time?”
Daniel suddenly found the grass fascinating, also deciding it was a marvelous time to fold his arms. Jack smiled. ~A ha! It wasn't my idea, was it? Caught you, Dannyboy.~
“I ... I don't remember.”
Daniel looked off to the left, wishing he had kept his mouth shut.
“I believe DanielJackson had tripped over his bootlaces.”
“I did NOT trip. I ... had a bootlace malfunction, that's all.”
Jack burst into laughter and then ordered, “Daniel, dial us out of here.”
Daniel lit up and headed for the DHD. It was a silly thing to miss doing, but he liked dialing the Gate. It felt magical to him somehow.
“Carter, if you're hooked on the dialing thing, and I know how women are with the telephone, than you and Daniel can ... alternate.”
“How ... fair of you, Sir.” ~I wonder if I could get away with shooting him and saying it was an accident?~
The Stargate engaged, Sam used the GDO to send through their code, and then she accompanied the MALP back through, along with their equipment. Teal'c followed just as the storm suddenly worsened.
“Good timing, Jack. Look at the sky. It's never been like this, has it?”
The sky had turned dark, something it hadn't done before, and the power bursts were larger, exploding in a different pattern, and they were more frequent.
“Let's get out of here, Daniel,” Jack ordered after he saw a burst land and cause a three-foot circle of ground to disappear. “I don't think this is the same stuff.”
“Jack, move it!” Daniel called out, seeing a massive power burst heading for the Stargate just as they approached the event horizon.
They dove in at the precise time that the burst hit the Gate. Both men were glad when they emerged on the other side of the Stargate seemingly unharmed, although they had hit the ground hard, rolling for several feet.
~Ouch, that ground is hard. Ground?~ Daniel blinked as he struggled to focus. “JACK?” He looked around and closed his eyes in relief when he saw his lover just a few feet away.
~Oh, for crying out loud. Who moved the ramp?~ Jack looked around. “Where's the ramp?”
“Where's the SGC?” Daniel asked the bigger question.
The two stood up, dusted off their uniforms, and made a three-hundred sixty degree turn around their surroundings. They were definitely not in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.
~...and we aren't in Kansas, either,~ Jack thought as he surveyed the area.
“Danny, where are we?”
“I have no idea.”
“Well, why don't we ... dial home again.”
“I'd, uh, love to except for one thing.”
Daniel looked at the DHD, now a sizzling heap of granite.
“Not good. Did that power burst hit it?” Jack asked.
Daniel nodded his affirmation as he answered, “I think so.”
“I don't know how it didn't hit us, unless it just ... spiked, and we got amazingly lucky.”
“That's us ... two happy go lucky guys.”
“Jack, we have a problem here.”
“I've noticed, Daniel,” Jack said dryly as he knelt down at the rubble that was once the DHD, one hand sifting through the debris.
“So what do we do? Jack, this isn't broken, it's ... fried,” the younger man said, kneeling down to join his lover in taking a closer look at the much-needed device.
Jack looked around. It was getting colder, even in the few minutes they had stood in this place, wherever it was.
“We find shelter. Looks like it's night here, too.”
“At least we have our packs,” Daniel commented as both he and Jack stood up again.
“And we have trees. What would we do without those?” Jack mocked, although he was actually glad to see the tall giants. They looked like a cross between oaks and redwoods, though they had purplish rings that looked to be about two-inches wide every foot or so on the trunks. It reminded Jack of Saturn and the rings that surrounded the planet. ~There must be water around here somewhere.~
They walked for several minutes hoping to find some kind of structure they could use for shelter, but they found none, nor had they come across a water source. Night had fallen quickly, though, and it was getting difficult to see without the use of flashlights.
“Okay. Daniel, let's stop here.”
“Maybe we should keep going.”
“We can't see more than a foot in front of us. We have no clue where we are. Let's wait for morning.”
Daniel nodded, sliding down against a tree. He raised his knees and rested his head on his hands against them.
“Danny, are you okay?”
“Tired. Really, tired, Jack. Are you okay?”
“Yeah, but ... now that you mention it, I'm feeling a bit tired myself.” Jack looked around, hoping to see something that would be a food source. “Maybe we just need to eat something.”
Jack gathered some twigs and earth and made a fire. He was glad that part of the standard equipment all SG team members carried were metal matches. It only took a little practice to become adept at creating a spark with the match and a knife, and provided a never ending means of starting a fire. Then, they each pulled out an MRE from their packs and enjoyed a quiet dinner.
“I just figured out what is so ... odd about this place.”
“Are you going to share?”
“Stars. Look up, Jack.”
“I see stars.” As he observed the sky, Jack began to frown. “Not very many, though, are there? And ... I don't recognize a single formation, not that that would be unusual, depending on where we are.”
“Wherever that is,” Daniel said.
“And we haven't a clue about that.”
“That's what I thought.”
“Exactly,” Daniel responded.
The two looked at each other and finished their dinner in silence.
Jack lay down on the ground and looked at Daniel, once again leaning against the tree.
“Danny, come snuggle. That's an order.”
“Yeah, it's too cold over there by yourself.”
“Shouldn't one of us stand guard?”
“I haven't even seen a bug, Danny. Have you?”
“Besides, to be honest, I think I'm going to fall asleep in about thirty seconds.”
“Me, too. So tired, Jack.”
“Angel, come here,” Jack requested softly, the order dissipating to a desire.
Daniel did as requested, and within one minute of settling in against his lover, both men were sound asleep.
“Major, where are Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson?” General Hammond asked when the Stargate finally shut down, shortly after Sam and Teal'c had returned from PS8-753.
“Sir, they were right behind us.”
“Were you under attack?”
“No, GeneralHammond, but there was another storm while we were leaving the planet.”
“But it was just like all the other storms we'd lived through, Sir,” Sam noted right away.
General Hammond turned and looked upward at Sergeant Davis, calling out his order to “Dial PS8-753 immediately, and call SG teams two and three to the gate room.”
“Right away, General,” Davis acknowledged over the microphone.
“Are you sure, Major, that they were behind you?”
“Yes, absolutely. Teal'c?”
“MajorCarter is correct. She escorted the MALP through, and I followed. O'Neill and DanielJackson were standing by the DHD and had started to walk toward the Stargate when I went through.”
“And you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary, or hear anything strange?”
“No, I did not.”
The kawoosh of the Stargate drew their attention at the same time as the two SG teams hurried into the room. Hammond quickly briefed his personnel, and watched as Sam and Teal'c returned to the planet with SG-2 and SG-3 to see if they could determine what had happened to Jack and Daniel.
The bright light of dawn woke Jack, and he rolled his eyes as he remembered the previous days events.
~Stuck on a planet again. Been there, done that. It's getting boring now.~ He looked down at the man in his arms. ~Then again, the last time I wasn't stuck on the planet with Danny. This time, I have all I need.~
He tightened his arms a little around his lover and gazed out at the horizon. He knew he should probably wake Daniel, but he couldn't bring himself to do so yet. Instead, he kissed the top of Daniel's head and was rewarded by Daniel snuggling further into him.
~Wonder how the SGC is going to find us this time. Crap, I hope they do find us this time.~
Jack had heard about how Daniel had found him and Sam in Antarctica. Sam had also told him of Daniel's contributions towards getting Jack back from Edora. Sam may be brilliant, but she wasn't in Daniel's league.
~I wonder if you can pull off another miracle, Angel. My money is on you somehow managing to find a way out of here.~
“J'ck.” Daniel burrowed his nose further into Jack's chest. “Coffee?”
It was almost a wail, and Jack couldn't help but laugh. Daniel was not going to be a happy camper without his morning coffee. Given Daniel's penchant for the caffeinated beverage, Jack always took the MREs that included packets of coffee. However, for this mission they'd only had a limited number of those MREs left.
The SGC had been expecting a new shipment while SG-1 had been off-world, but until that shipment arrived, the teams used what was available -- MRE rations with tea rather than coffee.
“Sorry, Love, no coffee for you this morning.”
A sleepy-looking Daniel gazed pathetically up at him, and Jack couldn't resist kissing his adorable lover. ~Wonder if I should surprise him now or later.~ He looked at the head that had flopped back onto his chest and couldn't resist. ~He'd better ration himself though.~
Trying to dislodge his lover, Jack turned and burrowed in his pack. Right down at the bottom, his fingers came in contact with the packet they'd been searching for. He pulled it out and waved it in front of Daniel.
Daniel had felt Jack fidget in his pack for something, but ignored it. He knew he had to wake up, but hoped to put it off, not knowing if he could function without his usual caffeine fix. Gradually, he realized that Jack was waving something in front of his nose. He caught sight of the wording on the packet and grinned, his whole face lighting up.
The look of delight on Daniel's face more than rewarded Jack for carting the packet around on all those missions where it hadn't been needed.
~Note to self: get more of these for emergencies when we get home.~
“Chocolate covered coffee beans!” Daniel exclaimed, his tongue actually licking his lips as he sat up. He gave his partner a look of absolute love that completely took Jack's breath away. “How did you know?”
Jack grinned. Daniel had already opened the packet and was chewing on a coffee bean before he'd finished talking.
“I didn't. You remember PS6-902?”
Daniel nodded, recalling the mission from 1998. It had been awful. A sandstorm had prevented SG-1 from getting to the Stargate, and they'd had to wait several days before it had let up. The kicker, though, was that two days before returning to Earth, their coffee supply had run out, leaving them with only the dreaded tea bag MREs.
“Nightmare,” Daniel recalled, visibly shuddering from the memory as he helped himself to another chocolate covered coffee bean.
“Since then, I've been carrying a packet of these beans around in case of emergencies like that. No one wants a coffee deprived archaeologist on the loose.”
Daniel tried to glare at Jack but was too happy with his coffee beans for it to have any affect.
“Love you, Jack.”
“Me or the coffee beans?”
“You.” Daniel gave his lover a deep passionate kiss. “No one else would have done this for me. Love you so much.”
“I love you, too. In fact, I love you so much that I'll remind you that we have some water in our packs, and we can heat those beans into actual coffee. You'll have to grind the beans, of course, and it might be gritty given that we haven't got any filters, but it might work.”
“Oh, gawd. My brain is still asleep.”
“It'll wake up soon.”
As they pulled out the necessary items, Jack grew a bit more serious.
“Danny, we need to ration, so ...”
Jack nodded, then added, “We need to find a water source. There has to be a lake or something around here.”
“Jack, how are we going to get home? We don't even know where we are.”
~I have no friggin' clue, but I see his eyes. He's looking for strength right now, not reality.~ “There must be life here somewhere. We haven't gone far from the Stargate. Don't worry. We'll find someone who can help us soon.”
“Should we mark our trail?”
Jack shook his head as he looked around the area.
“No. If there are people here, we don't know if they're friendly; and if the Goa'uld come here, we don't want to leave them a map as to how to find us.”
“It happens,” Jack said, a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
A short time later, they continued their exploration of the planet. While there were trees, they still hadn't seen any wildlife on the ground, but after walking slightly over an hour, they finally saw some birds flying in the skies above.
“Water must be near, Danny,” Jack spoke encouragingly.
Thirty minutes later, they found a small stream. It was clear and clean to the eye.
“Well, it's something. It must lead to a bigger body of water.”
“I guess so.” Daniel leaned down to the stream to splash water on his face. ~Cool. Feels good.~
“Okay. What do we know about this place?” Jack asked as they sat by the stream.
“Flat. Lots of trees. No wildlife, not even a bug. No food. No flowers. One sun, two moons. It has air.”
“Good one,” Jack smirked.
Daniel just smiled. Jack's “what do we have and what do we need” technique sometimes seemed silly, but it was amazing how often saying the obvious had led to the solution in a nasty situation, thereby saving SG-1 from perilous doom.
“It's actually nice. We have water, but we'll need food. I don't really want to dine on bark when we run out of MREs.”
“Me, either.” Jack paused, clasping his hands together over his knees. “I think this planet is ... some place we haven't gone before. I mean another ... galaxy or something.”
“Because of the stars?”
“I always pay attention to the formations, and there's always something I can recognize. It's a commonality, like finding trees and English-speaking inhabitants, but this place ... Daniel, there weren't even that many stars in the sky.”
“Maybe they were obstructed.”
“Maybe, but it certainly looked like a clear sky to me.” Jack looked up and down the stream. “I think we should follow the stream, and see where it takes us.”
“Any idea how we got here?”
“Must have been that weird storm. It was different, Jack. The type and force of the power bursts weren't anything like had happened before, and even the sky was different.”
“Did you notice the shape of those last bursts? They appeared to be triangular.”
“Yeah, I saw that. The others were narrow and straight, similar to lightning. Jack, I think that last power burst went through the Gate.”
The two looked at each other, not really sure they wanted to think about what the consequences could be if a power burst had made it through the Stargate to the SGC.
“There's no sign of them, Sir. There are charred patches of earth here that we didn't see before. I think something must have hit the wormhole and sent them to another Stargate. A little like the time when the colonel and I were sent to the Gate in Antarctica. I don't think they're anywhere on this planet.”
Sam's voice seemed to echo in the control room as she spoke through the MALP to report in.
“Very well, Major. Return when ready.” General Hammond wondered where in the galaxy the two primary members of SG-1 were. ~Like searching for a needle in a haystack -- again.~
Ten minutes later, Sam and Teal'c, followed by SG-2 and SG-3, returned through the wormhole.
“I don't get it, Jack. How could the power burst or whatever it was redirect the wormhole? When you and Sam were sent to Antarctica, we hypothesized that you'd been sent somewhere between P4A-771 and ... How ... oh gawd.” Daniel didn't look thrilled with the thought that had just occurred to him.
“Um, I ... I, uh, just thought of something. I think we might have skipped Earth. What if the power burst gave so much energy to the Gate that the wormhole skipped right over Earth and into another galaxy? We know from when you went to Othala, the Asgard planet, that with enough energy the Stargate can go that far. If that's the case, there's no way the SGC can rescue us.”
Jack sighed, once again reviewing their surroundings. He looked at Daniel and spoke calmly. “I guess we're on our own here, Danny. If we're going to get back to Earth, we're going to have to manage it ourselves. Carter and Teal'c won't give up, neither will Hammond, but they can't do the impossible.”
Jack looked at Daniel with concern. His lover's face had just drained of all color.
“Danny? What's wrong?” he asked as he pulled the young man into his arms and rubbed his back reassuringly.
“Just ... gawd, Jack. What if we hadn't gone through together? I couldn't deal with ... with something like Edora again.”
Jack closed his eyes, remembering the loneliness of that time. He could feel the pain of being apart from Daniel even now. He hugged his lover more tightly and felt Daniel's grip tighten in response.
“Neither can I, Danny. As long as I'm with you, I'm home. I don't care where we are, as long as we're together.”
Daniel looked into the chocolate brown eyes of the man who was his heart. He saw love, safety, and home in those eyes. As long as he had those to gaze into, he'd be just fine.
“Same here. I'm just so glad we're both here.”
For several minutes, they tried to excavate each other's tonsils, only breaking apart when they needed to breathe.
“We'd ... ” Jack really didn't want to let Daniel go, but he knew that they still had a lot to do before nightfall.
“I know ... before we get sidetracked.”
Reluctantly, Daniel moved from Jack's warm embrace, grinning when his lover held out his hand. Taking hold of it, the two continued in their search for food, shelter, and some clue as to where they were.
Still holding hands, the couple traveled along the edge of the stream for another ninety minutes when they finally began to see more signs of wildlife -- different varieties of birds, a creature that looked like a squirrel, even a deer-like animal. Thirty minutes more, and they came across trees that bore some kind of fruit.
“I wish we had something to test this with,” Jack said as he plucked a few of the small, red fruits off one of the trees. “Interesting shape, too.”
Daniel took hold of a couple of the triangular shaped fruits.
“We do it together, Jack.”
“Danny, no ...”
“Yes, Jack. Whatever happens to us, happens together. You said so.”
“Have I ever told you how annoying it is when you throw my own words in my face?”
Daniel smiled as he chuckled his response, “Constantly.”
“Okay, we'll lick it first.”
They broke one of the fruits in half, and each licked at it.
“Doesn't sting, burn, taste bitter, or leave me feeling numb. What about you?” Daniel asked Jack.
“Nada. Lets try a small bite on the count of three. One ... two ... three.”
Both men took a small bite out of the food.
“Taste like ... like strawberries,” Jack said.
“Juicy, too. Gawd, real food.”
Jack saw Daniel was about to take another bite. He pulled on his lover's arm to stop him. “Let's wait a few minutes,” he suggested.
The two found another spot by the stream, each sitting on one of the larger rocks that were along the bed of the water.
“It's beautiful here.”
“Can't argue with that, Danny. Not quite like the cabin, but ... similar enough.”
“These trees are different than the ones by the Stargate, Jack.”
“Those were bigger, and did you see the rings? Purple rings, Danny.”
Daniel nodded as he studied the tall objects. While the first group of trees had resembled an oak and redwood cross, these were more like maple trees in that their leaves had three to five lobes as in a hand, and they were also reminiscent of white cedar trees, the leaves a dark, blue-green color. Still, they were bigger and broader than those trees were on Earth.
“Jack, do you think there's any life here? I mean ... human or ... otherwise?”
“No idea. By the Stargate, there wasn't sign of anything but trees, and yet, we've found food, water, and wildlife here.”
“What do we do next?”
“We'll camp here tonight, and keep exploring tomorrow.”
“I don't think we can get home.”
“We are home, remember?”
The lovers exchanged a smile. Then, Jack reached out and took Daniel's hand.
“We'll get back to Earth. They'll be someone here to help us, or the SGC will figure out where we are, or you, my little genius, will think of something.”
“I'm not little.”
“That's for sure,” Jack said with a lustful grin.
“Geez, Jack! Get your mind out of the gutter.”
“Yeah, too early for the gutter. Let's eat a bit more of this and see how we're doing, and then we should gather some wood and see if we can find anything to use for a shelter tonight.”
“Don't worry, Danny. We'll be okay.”
General Hammond looked at the group sitting around the briefing table. The two remaining members of SG-1 sat next to each other, and the members of SG-2 were giving them and Major Ferretti sympathetic looks. They knew that their CO and Colonel O'Neill were close. He turned his gaze to Major Carter. He suspected that if anyone was going to solve this mystery it would be the brilliant scientist. He just wished they had the brain power of Daniel Jackson here as well. ~For an archaeologist, he's incredibly good at solving scientific problems.~
“Perhaps our more advanced allies might be of some help,” Teal'c suggested.
The Jaffa remained calm and would appear to most people as being unfazed by the unknown fate of his team members. Those who knew him, however, could see his concern in the set of his shoulders and the tension of his body.
“It's worth a try, Sir. The Asgard and the Tok'ra have a much better understanding of the Stargate than we do.”
Sam looked at the general for approval, and was please when he nodded his agreement.
Ferretti jumped in, “In the meantime, General, I think we should start searching the planets between Earth and PS8-753, like we did when the major and Colonel O'Neill were missing that time.”
Lou Ferretti was anxious to take some form of action. Jack O'Neill was one of his best friends, and he was becoming quite fond of Daniel Jackson as well. And like Jack, Lou was a doer. Sitting around wasn't something he did easily.
Sam spoke again, “Sir, I'd like to analyze the Gate readings. Maybe there's something there that can help us narrow the search a little.”
“Very well. Assign any personnel you need to assist you.” The general looked at Teal'c next. Somehow, he didn't see the Jaffa being inclined to pore over scientific data. “Teal'c, would you like some downtime to visit your family, or would you rather join the search on one of the SG teams?”
Teal'c inclined his head in silent thanks at the offer of downtime.
“I would prefer to join the search for O'Neill and DanielJackson.”
“You're welcome to join our team, Teal'c,” Ferretti offered.
Teal'c gratefully nodded his acceptance. He deemed Lou a fine leader and warrior, and he also knew Lou would do whatever it took to save Jack and Daniel.
“Very well. Let's find our people, and bring them home. Dismissed.”
“Feeling like Robinson Crusoe yet, Jack?” Daniel grinned at his lover as they rigged up a shelter out of tree branches and bark.
“Forget Robinson Crusoe. We're the castaways on Gilligan's Island.”
Jack shook his head at the ignorance of his lover where basic TV was concerned.
“Danny, Danny, Danny. Yet another popular culture icon I have to educate you on.”
The next ten minutes was spent with Jack describing the once popular television show from the 1960's and merrily singing the theme song for Daniel, making his lover join in.
“I always liked Mary Ann more than Ginger. She was just as beautiful as Ginger, but cute and feisty, too.”
“So which one of the castaways are you, Jack?”
“The skipper, younger and more handsome, of course; and we know who you are.”
Daniel rolled his eyes, always done in by his education.
Jack looked smug, trying not to laugh.
Daniel gazed suspiciously at his lover. “No?” he asked, an edge to his one-word inquiry.
Jack shook his head as he answered, “You're cute and feisty. You're Mary Ann.”
With his revelation revealed, Jack took off in a sprint, Daniel in hot pursuit.
“You're dead, O'Neill.”
Daniel tackled Jack and held him down as Jack pleaded for mercy.
“But, Danny, you're so gorgeous, you have to be Mary-Ann.”
“If I'm Mary-Ann, Jack, you're Ginger.”
“I am not!”
Daniel laughed at the horrified expression on Jack's face. He stood up and held out his hand to help Jack up.
“Come along, Ginger. We have work to do.”
As he stood, Jack brushed himself off. He glanced over at Daniel, a happy lilt in his voice as he asked, “Have I mentioned lately that I love you?”
“About an hour ago I think.”
“Too long. I love you,” Jack said as they closed the gap between their faces, and then just as their lips touched, he added, “Mary Ann.”
“Jaammmmph ... ohhhh mmmmph.”
Jack's version of work turned out to be different from Daniel's, but the younger man didn't mind. Totally spent and satiated some sixty-five minutes later, Daniel was grinning.
“Mmm? What, Love?”
“You work good, Jack.”
“Thank you, Love. You, too.”
They slept for a little while, and then continued to work on their shelter.
The two had been stranded on the planet for ten days when they had finally decided to make their shelter.
“Jack, I feel like we've walked this entire planet.”
“Feels like it, doesn't it?”
“And nothing changes.”
“Danny, I think we need to pick a spot and set up a camp, build a shelter. We don't know anything about the weather pattern of this planet, either, so we need some place to call ... home.”
“I liked that first spot we came to. If we go back there, we'll be close enough to reach the Stargate within a couple of hours, and yet, we can continue to explore.”
“Lots of water there, vegetation, wildlife ...”
“Jack, you are not killing the wildlife.” Daniel saw the look of reality on Jack's face. “Please. I can't do that.”
“Daniel, what do you think you're doing when we eat steak back home?”
“I try not to think about it, but here, it would be too real. Please, Jack.”
“What the heck did you do on Abydos?”
“Like at home, I tried not to think about it, and I taught the kids so I never had to hunt. I only ever saw the end result. Maybe it's a bit of a cop out, Jack, but ...”
Daniel looked away, getting a bit misty-eyed. He knew the harsh realities of life, and he was as guilty as anyone else was. Still, if they didn't have to kill, he didn't want to.
“Please, Jack,” he pleaded again.
Jack knew his lover had a heart of gold, so he decided that as long as their survival didn't depend on it, he'd go along.
“Okay. One day at a time.”
Daniel looked down, shuffling a little as he moved a few steps.
“You couldn't kill that sweet little deer we saw ... could you?”
~What am I going to do with him? I know -- ravish him until he's senseless!~ “No, Danny. Your deer is safe.” Daniel's smile was big and bright. ~Oh, geez. Okay ... we're vegetarians on this planet.~
Jack suddenly looked deep in thought.
“What are you thinking about?”
“We need a name.”
“For this planet. I'm tired of calling it 'this planet' so we need a name. Any ideas?”
“Xanadu?” Jack questioned.
“It means 'beautiful place', and that's about all we really know ... that's it beautiful.”
Jack chuckled, then nodded as he chimed, “Welcome to Xanadu.”
//End of Flashback//
The two had hiked back towards the Stargate, selected their spot, and begun work on the shelter. With their “Gilligan's Island” sing-a-long and lovemaking done for the moment, they focused again on what they were sure was a temporary home.
Temporary or not, they made a study of their environment and were amazed at how constant everything was, from the weather to the length of the days and nights. The daylight was always seventeen hours and twenty-five minutes while the night was exactly nine hours and sixteen minutes. The days and nights were linked together by an amazing period of twilight as the sun set or rose.
This time of the day was an incredible show of colors and even sounds which Jack and Daniel had not been able to explain. The sound was like a soft, soothing hum circulating in the air. It made for a calming transition from the work of the day to the relaxation of the night.
During the twilight period, there was always a calm breeze, and no matter where they were at the hours of twilight, the skies were a beautiful hue of oranges, blues, and purples. It was extremely picturesque, and no matter what, this part of the day lasted precisely forty-six minutes.
“It's like a clock. It doesn't vary even one minute, Jack.”
“Almost like a computer.”
“Exactly. Doesn't look like a computer, though.”
“Not a doohickey in sight, Love.”
General Hammond looked at the two people sitting opposite him. He was about to perform an unpleasant task, one he wished he didn't have to do.
“I'm sorry, Major Carter, Teal'c, we just can't spare the resources to keep looking for them.”
“We can't give up on them, Sir. They're out there somewhere.”
Sam pleaded with the general for more time. She knew that the general was under pressure from above and had committed as much time as possible to the search for her friends, but she just couldn't bear the thought of giving up.
“Every time we step through the Gate, we still have a chance of finding them or hearing news of them, but I cannot justify continuing the search. I'm sorry, Major, but you heard the Asgard. There's nothing more I can do.”
Thor looked at the six hopeful faces gazing at him. General Hammond, Sam, Jacob Carter, Ferretti, Teal'c and Janet were all seated around the briefing table hoping the little gray alien would be able to help them locate their missing friends. They'd been disappointed when the Tok'ra were unable to identify what had happened and had been unwilling to actively search for Jack and Daniel with the exception of allowing Jacob to assist.
Sam wondered if Thor was intimidated. He blinked twice and then spoke.
“I am sorry the Asgard cannot be of more help. We have seen these particular energy signatures only a few times before. O'Neill and DanielJackson are no longer in this galaxy.”
Silence greeted this statement. Jacob was the first to recover.
“Can you identify the galaxy they traveled to?”
There seemed little to say in response to this. Only Thor's rapid blinking indicated his awareness of the devastation he had just brought to the humans in the room.
“Thor, there are so many planets. We have thousands of potential addresses between the Abydos Cartouche and ...” Sam stopped for a moment. “They have to be somewhere where there is a Stargate, but ... on which planet? Don't you have any idea where the signature trail leads?”
“I am sorry. The Asgard will pass on any news we may hear of them. I regret we cannot help you in your search, but the war with the Replicators continues. I must go.”
With a flash of light, Thor was gone leaving behind him a room full of stunned people.
//End of Flashback//
“General, I was talking to my father before he returned to the Tok'ra base. There may be a way that we can increase our power supply, allowing us to travel further. I'd like to withdraw from active duty to continue to work on that possibility.”
To her relief, the general gave his agreement, though he couldn't promise her how long he could allow her to pursue her idea.
“Nothing personal, Jack, but I'm so tired of these clothes.”
“They're a bit boring ... and stinky.” Jack wished the stream was deeper. “We'll do laundry today.” Daniel sighed. “What?”
“I think doing laundry might be the highlight of our day.”
Jack reached out to touch Daniel's cheek with his hand. He spoke with an air of surprise and mischief in his tone, “I don't think so. I have plans for tonight.”
“You, me, and the stars.”
“It'd be paradise if ...” his voice was soft, tentative.
“Yeah, I know, but ... hey, Danny, look?”
Jack pointed at a small animal that had walked to a nearby tree.
Daniel smiled looking at the animal. The critter stood about fourteen inches high, had gray fur with a few patches of white. Its face was similar to the koala bear on Earth, but its appendages were longer. The critter tilted its head to look at the new visitors to the planet -- Jack and Daniel.
Daniel took a couple of steps forward, eager to get closer to the animal.
“Well, hello there.”
Jack extended his right arm to stop his lover's motion, but Daniel gently pushed Jack's hand away as he walked a few more steps and then knelt down.
“I'm ... I'm Daniel, and this is Jack. Who are you?”
“Like he's going to talk back, Danny.”
“Well, you never know, Jack. We aren't on Earth anymore.”
“I figured that out.”
Daniel glared at his partner, then returned his attention to the furry creature.
“We're peaceful explorers from the planet Earth, only we ... well, we've taken a little detour, by accident, and we don't know how to get home so ... now we're here. I sure wish you could talk and tell us about this place.”
The creature made a small chirp-like sound, then turned and quickly walked away.
“Okay, Love. Playtime is over.”
“Playtime?” Daniel's tone was sharp as he stood.
“Come on, Danny. We need to do the laundry and go exploring. Our shelter needs to be stronger. Have you noticed the winds picking up a little at night?”
“Yeah, you're right. I'm sorry, Babe. I'm getting a little ... marooned happy.”
An hour later, after an impromptu bout of lovemaking, the two were standing naked in the stream as they washed their clothes. The stream was three or four feet deep at its deepest and just inches in some areas. At the moment, the lovers were in one of the deeper sections. Fortunately for them, the temperature was pleasant, although looking at his soulmate, Jack almost wished it weren't so warm; then he and Daniel would have to snuggle for body heat.
Jack tried to look innocent and failed miserably.
“Keep looking at me like that, and we are going to have half-washed clothes by the end of the day.”
“Sorry, Love,” Jack apologized, a bit too cheerfully in Daniel's opinion.
Daniel laughed and shook his head as they went back to their washing, Jack singing loudly in a silly voice, “What's the time? - Half past nine, Hang your knickers on the line. When they're dry, bring them in, and iron them with the rolling pin.”
Daniel laughed at his lover and couldn't keep his thoughts to himself.
“Jack, that is such a ridiculous rhyme.”
“I know, but we have to sing as we wash. Sing with me, Danny, pleeeease?”
Shaking his head, Daniel joined in, thinking they sounded more like Porky Pig and Donald Duck than anything else as they hammed it up while harmonizing ... without much harmony.
The lovers exited the stream, hanging their clothes over some branches. Jack moved behind Daniel and put his arms around him.
“Danny, are you scared?”
“Scared? Of what?”
“Being here for the rest of our lives?”
“We'll find a way home, Jack.” Daniel turned around in Jack's tender hold, and the two kissed. “Don't worry, Love. Somehow, we'll get out of here.”
They spent the rest of the day scouting for food supplies. They'd discovered ample fruit-bearing trees, but Jack had hoped to find some other alternative sources of food, too.
“Nothing against fruit, Danny, but too much of anything ...”
“Yes, I know.”
“With one exception, of course.” Jack grinned seductively at his lover. “No such thing as too much of you.”
“Jack,” Daniel responded shyly.
“Danny, maybe there's another water source. We haven't checked out much of whatever is to the south of us.”
“We have everything we need here.”
“I'm thinking fish.” Jack smiled. “This stream is fishless, and whatever it springs from is too far away. How about a little recon tomorrow?”
After a round of early morning lovemaking, the two ate their now usual breakfast of fruit and water before setting off to explore more of their Xanadu. After walking alongside the stream for about half an hour, they found themselves walking through a forest. There were a variety of trees, some wide, others thin and rangy, some short and others tall. A couple of times they were forced to beat their way through the solid vegetation. It was the strangest mixture of trees and vegetation they'd ever come across, on this or any other planet.
“Jack, are we going downhill?”
“A little ... whoa!”
Jack stopped short, causing Daniel to bump into the back of him. Peering over the top of his lover's shoulder, Daniel gasped in surprise.
“That's incredible,” he breathed, wrapping his arms around Jack as they took in the sight before them. The ground had suddenly dropped away, leaving them standing on the edge of a cliff. The stream ended in a waterfall, and below them was a huge river. On the other side of the river was another cliff face.
“Wonder if there are fish down there?” Jack peered down at the water as if hoping to spot a bass or two.
“Do you think there's a way down?”
“Hope so. I wouldn't mind a swim.” Jack grinned at Daniel and took his hand. “Let's follow the edge of the cliff, see if it leads to a way down. Left or Right?”
“Because it's right, therefore it has to be right ... right?” Daniel asked as he grinned broadly.
“Daniel, now I've got a headache. You're trying to confuse me, aren't you?” Jack scowled.
“Never.” Daniel leaned in and kissed his lover, their tongues dueling as they savored the taste of each other. “If, uh, we want to explore ...”
“Right.” Jack heard Daniel's snigger at his ill chosen word choice and rolled his eyes. “Everyone's a comedian.”
The two headed off toward the right and found the path easier to take as the amount of vegetation lessened by the side of the cliff. After what felt like hours, they found the ground began to slope unevenly downwards, making them clamber and climb rather than walk.
“Careful, Danny. Some of these rocks are loose.” Jack kept an eye on his lover as they descended. If they lost their footing and fell, it wouldn't kill them, but they'd be awfully sore for a while. ~And we really don't need any broken bones out here.~
“I'm fine, Jack. I've done quite a bit of rock climbing on various digs, not to mention the other places we've been to over the years.”
Even so, Jack was relieved when they'd both made it down safely. Taking hold of Daniel's hand again, Jack walked over to the river and ran his hand though the clear water.
“Let's go for a swim!” the older man suggested.
“Last one in gathers our fruit for tonight and gets the wood for the fire!” Daniel challenged.
The young man stripped in record time and waded into the river before Jack even processed his comment. Sinking back into the refreshing water, Daniel grinned at his lover.
“Guess you're getting dinner tonight and making the fire. I think I'll just ... nap while you do.”
Daniel's smile was wicked as he enjoyed both his victory and the feel of the water against his skin.
Jack scrambled in and swam strongly towards Daniel, dunking him under. When Daniel came up spluttering, Jack reprimanded him: “That wasn't fair, Dannyboy, and you know it.”
Daniel had frozen and was looking in the water, trying to see into the murky depths.
“For crying out loud, what?”
“I saw a fish.”
“Fish?” Jack's eyes widened in delight. “Let me at him!”
Daniel laughed as Jack dove under the water to investigate. He waited until his lover finally resurfaced.
“Danny, we have fish! Lots of 'em!”
“Um, Jack, do you think maybe you could actually, uh ... well, catch one?”
“Daniel, are you attacking my fishing capabilities?”
“No.” Daniel knew the truth about his soft-hearted lover. On the famous 'lake with no fish' in Minnesota, and even its companion in Colorado, Jack never caught a fish ... except he had. Daniel had seen it ... followed by Jack's quickly returning the catch to the safety of the water. The only times he could remember Jack actually bringing a catch for them to eat were those when they truly had nothing else ... emergency situations, like this one. ~You old softie. I love you.~
“Danny, why are you looking at me like that?”
Jack wondered why Daniel's eyes seemed to be wanting to ravish him right after teasing him about his fishing ability.
“Because I ... I love you, that's all.”
Jack didn't understand, but that was okay. “I love you, too, Angel.” He looked off to the side of the levee. “I need to make a fishing pole or something to act as a spear.”
“Jack,” Daniel was looking up the river. “Why didn't we see this? I mean, this wasn't really off the path we followed originally.”
“I don't know. We should have.”
“Let's go up the ... is this a river?”
Jack studied the area, then shrugged. “Not sure what it is yet,” he answered, adding, “Rivers usually have currents, and there doesn't seem to be one here.”
“Well, whatever it is. Let's explore back towards our camp. Maybe this turns or something.”
“Good idea. Then we'll come back and fish.”
Daniel smiled at Jack's grin. They left their clothes and swam up the river. After a while, the cliff had morphed into a smaller ridge.
Daniel pointed to a spot where the river seemed to branch off, the right hand branch entering a three-foot slit in the ridge that was roughly seven inches high. The flow was steady.
“Where's it going?” Daniel asked.
Jack looked around. He had no clue as to the answer to his lover's question.
“Let's keep going. I'd say another half hour and we should be equal to where our camp is, wouldn't you?”
Daniel agreed, so they swam on. Forty minutes later, they stopped. The ridge was even smaller than before, and they had seen three other slit like openings as they had continued their journey. Daniel followed Jack as he got out of the river and climbed the ridge. There was a large accumulation of bamboo-like growth.
“Jack, I remember this. I mean, isn't there an area like this just a few minutes from our camp?”
“This is crazy.” Jack walked through the bamboo, Daniel on his six, each having difficulty brushing the tall growth back. “What on Earth possessed us to try this naked?”
“So it's a challenge. As long as we don't come across the alien equivalent of poison ivy.”
Jack stopped and glared at his lover.
“Did you have to mention that, Danny?”
“Sorry,” Daniel said not looking the least bit sorry. So Jack did the only thing he could, he kissed him senseless.
“Gawd, I love it when you do that.”
Jack smiled and kissed his compliant soulmate again.
“And I love doing it.”
After yet another kiss, they continued onward. Finally, they broke through.
“Danny, this is the place. If we're right, our camp is just over there.”
Five minutes later, they were at their camp. “Gawd, how'd we miss that?”
“Bamboo. We had no way of knowing it ended. It looked deep and there's quite a bit of it. We'll cut it down.”
“Jack, we have fish!”
Daniel was smiling. Life had just gotten easier and more bearable.
The lovers retraced their steps southward to gather their clothes and supplies they had taken with them, and then developed a plan to make the access to the river, and the fish, easier to get to.
Daniel put some more wood on the fire and grinned. Despite the fact that they had been trapped on a planet a long way from Earth for over three weeks now, he was enjoying himself. Much of that was due to Jack who was reveling in the outdoor environment. And, okay, so far, it was like an ideal vacation -- just Jack, Daniel, and the elements.
Still, Jack was a true outdoorsman, and Daniel loved seeing his soulmate having fun with nature, trying to make a shelter and tools from only the things nature provides. He laughed inside.
~Kinda like that MacGyver on TV, but Jack is much sexier!~
At the moment, Jack was using his knife to fashion the end of a long piece of bamboo into a point so that it could be used as a spear. Even though the bamboo was hollow, he'd sliced the end off obliquely and then sharpened the sides so that it formed a point. He looked up and saw Daniel looking at him; actually, grinning was more to the point.
“What are you grinning at, Doctor Jackson?”
Daniel looked at Jack a little sheepishly as he answered, “Just thinking that I'm actually enjoying myself. We can be ourselves here, and it's like camping. I always wanted to go camping as a kid. Besides, it's kinda romantic. We're like Robinson Crusoe ... or Gilligan and his friends.”
Jack grinned as well. He had to admit, he was having a good time, and seeing Daniel happy was really all that Jack needed to be happy himself.
“I always thought being stuck on Gilligan's Island looked like fun, and I was right.” He laid down his makeshift spear and turned to Daniel, putting his arms around his lover's neck. “As long as you have the right company, and I do, anywhere is fun.” He leaned in to kiss Daniel.
“Make love to me, Jack.”
“You realize that we don't have any more lube?”
Daniel grinned as he suggested, “That's what saliva is for, Jack! It's not perfect, but it sure does work. Now, make love to me.”
Never one to turn down a request from his lover, Jack did as asked, to the satisfaction of both men.
After breakfast the next morning, Jack put the finishing touches on his spear.
“Okay, I think I'm ready to test this baby.” He noticed Daniel staring into space. “Danny? Whatcha' thinking?”
Daniel gave Jack a rueful grin. “I noticed this morning that my jacket had a tear in it. Jack, if we keep wearing our clothes every day, they're going to fall apart in a couple of months, if not sooner.”
“So ... you think we should look for something we can use as makeshift clothing?” It wasn't really a question to be answered, the older man not even looking at his lover as he considered the idea. “I think you're right. We don't know anything about this planet's seasonal patterns, or even if it has any.”
“Exactly, Babe. It might be warm at the moment, but we don't know how long it's going to last. It could get cold eventually, or stormy.”
Daniel smiled and made a suggest -- “How about you fish, and I'll scout around for anything that we might be able to use?”
Jack hesitated. He didn't like the idea of Daniel being on his own. He also knew that Daniel wouldn't appreciate hearing that sentiment.
“Okay, but take your Beretta.”
Daniel shook his head in mock despair at Jack's overprotectiveness. Even though Jack went overboard at times, his 'mother hen' mentality always made Daniel feel loved and cared for.
Daniel had emptied his backpack for his scavenger hunt through the woods. He didn't have much to choose from, or at least, it didn't seem like it at first, but eventually, he began to look at things differently. He found some strong vines of varying sizes to use as a rope or twine, depending upon their need. They could also use the vines as supports or bindings. He tried stripping the bark from saplings, but it didn't seem to be like the bark on Earth. This bark just crumbled as soon as it was removed from the tree.
~Well, that won't help us any.~
With his knife, he cut away some roots of what looked like spruce trees he came upon. He hoped they'd be able to make baskets and bowls or other items not yet thought of with the long strips of root.
A while later, he found some unusual looking plants. ~Looks like ... a tiny bit like eggplants? Strange. I've never seen anything with leaves like this.~ Daniel studied the plants. The plant leaves were thick and smooth, and were anywhere from five to ten inches long. ~Giant eggplant?~
Some of the plants leaves were orange in color, others shades of blue, purple, gray, and ... ~Pink? Did I say this was strange?~
He didn't have a clue how long the sturdy pads of what he called eggplant would last, but he gathered several of them to take back with him. Daniel figured they could bind them together with the vine twine or tree sap, and maybe they'd make temporary clothing of some kind.
The eggplant patch was large so Daniel knew they could easily come back to replenish the supply as necessary.
Finally, the young man headed back for camp, knowing Jack would be worried if he didn't return soon.
~Gawd, I love him. Worrywart. I bet he's driving himself crazy because I've been gone so long.~
As Daniel approached his Xanadu home, he didn't know whether to smile or be angry. Instead of Jack grumbling and ready to charge out with his P-90, the older man was laughing as he stood over a fire.
“Fish! I'm so tired of berries. Danny is going to love this. I think I'll make another spear so he can help me.”
“Thanks for thinking of me!”
“Hey, Love. I found fish!”
“So I see, and smell; and I thought you'd be worried.”
Daniel hated himself, but he was actually disappointed.
Jack studied his lover.
“Danny,” he stood and walked over to the young man, taking the backpack and putting it on the ground. “Truth?”
“I saw you coming. I had hiked out about a mile when I spotted you, so I high-tailed it back here and put on the fish. I didn't want you to think I was ...”
Daniel felt moisture in his eyes from the unexpected emotion of the moment. He kissed his lover, his hands pressing Jack to him tightly. He looked into Jack's eyes with intensity, and then he spoke with a tender vulnerability, “Don't ever stop, Jack.”
“I love you, Angel.”
“I love you, too.”
“Are you okay?” Jack asked, seeing the build up of unshed tears and aware of the softness with which Daniel had just spoken.
“Yeah, I just ... Gawd, as much as I whine about it, I ... I just ...”
Jack kissed his lover again, and then held him close. He whispered in his ear, “Don't worry, Danny. I'll always drive you crazy with my paranoia because I can't live without you.”
Jack placed a kiss at the base of Daniel's ear, then his cheek, and then pulled back for another deep kiss. They stood gazing at each other for a moment, then Jack took a deep breath, a reminder that Daniel had been gone for a reason.
“So how'd it go?”
“Found some things we can use ... I hope. Vines, a few feathers ...”
“Birds? I haven't seen that many.”
“Me, either, and there weren't very many, but here ...”
Daniel pulled out the collection of feathers he had discovered on the way back.
The two settled in to discuss the uses of Daniel's finds as well as the things they had in their backpacks upon arrival on Xanadu. It was far from perfect, but they figured they had more options now. They also enjoyed this fish meal, the first meat of any kind they had eaten in weeks.
“Hmm, almost as good as sex.”
“Gee, thanks, Jack.”
“I said almost.”
“Well, you can almost keep yourself warm tonight.”
Jack wondered what had happened. They had been so close just minutes earlier, and now, Daniel was sounding angry.
“It's warm all night,” Jack said.
“Good, then you'll enjoy it.”
Daniel stood up and walked to the other side of the camp.
“Daniel, don't be ridiculous.”
“Yes, you are.”
“I am NOT.”
“You are, too!”
“Jack, I am not going to banter this back and forth. Just ... eat your fish.”
“I said ... Stub-born with a capitol 'S'!”
Daniel threw down his plate and got up, walking over to the stream, his arms folded.
“Oh for crying out loud.” Jack looked at his fish and then at Daniel. “Danny, your fish is getting cold.”
“I'm not hungry. I'll eat it later.”
Jack sighed. ~Geez, Danny. Sometimes you are such an insecure, stubborn S.O.B. This is our first good meal in weeks, and I'm not going to let it get cold just because you're getting in a huff over nothing.~
Determined not to let his lover spoil his dinner, Jack ate another mouthful of fish. Unfortunately, the exquisite taste seemed to have disappeared along with Daniel's good humor. He took another bite.
~Yep, definitely lost its flavor.~
He put down his plate and walked over to Daniel who was standing stiffly, gazing into the stream. He slipped his arms around Daniel's waist disconcerted to feel the fine tremors running through his lover's body.
“Go and eat your fish, Jack.”
Daniel's voice was flat, almost resigned. His arms were still crossed tightly in front of him.
“I don't want it any more. It doesn't taste the same with you standing over here, all upset.”
“You've lucked out twice then -- no sex and no fish.”
Jack turned Daniel around, horrified to see that the young man was fighting back tears, only these tears were different than the earlier ones that hadn't been shed.
“Daniel, what's wrong? This isn't about the fish.”
“No, it's about you caring more for your fish than for me.”
Jack tried again. No way was this about fish ... or sex.
“Danny, what's it really about?”
Jack saw Daniel's arms tighten around himself as he looked up. The hurt, fear, and vulnerability in his lover's deep blue eyes cut through Jack, and he almost missed Daniel's whispered words.
“Don't I satisfy you, Jack?”
“What?” ~This IS about sex?~
Jack was stunned. Although he had his own doubts at times over whether he was satisfying Daniel, he had never imagined that Daniel might have had those similar doubts, not seriously, not once they had began their eternal love affair. He drew Daniel into his arms and buried his face in his neck.
“Of course, you satisfy me, Danny. Sex with you has been better than it has been with anyone, even Sara.”
“It can't be if you can compare it to a fish.”
Jack really wished he could take back those ill chosen words.
“Angel, it was a dumb thing to say. You know me, sometimes I don't think before I open my mouth.”
“That's just it, Jack. It must be how you really feel if it just came out.”
Jack shook his head vehemently as he spoke, “Doesn't work that way. It came out because I needed something to compare the fish to and sex with you, Danny, is the best thing in the universe. That's why I made the comparison with it, but I exaggerated the taste of the fish. Trust me, it comes nowhere near being as good as making love with you, and Danny, what we have, what we do, is making love which goes way beyond the sexual act. I think you know that.”
Jack caressed the side of Daniel's face lovingly.
“I love you, Danny.” He frowned and moved his hand up to feel Daniel's forehead, and suddenly, Jack finally understood what the entire argument had really been about. “Daniel ...”
“Make love to me, Jack. Please.”
“You're sick, Angel. You have a fever.”
“You don't want to, do you?”
“Daniel, you're sick. You need to rest.”
Shoulders slumped, Daniel walked over to their makeshift lodging.
Jack sighed. ~Geez, Danny, of course I want you, but you're sick. You just see that as rejection though, don't you? Silly geek.~
Jack joined Daniel who was still standing, staring at their bed of leaves and straw framed by bamboo. He again put his arms around his feverish lover.
“Danny, think for a minute, okay. Please.”
“We're on Xanadu. The only medication we have is what is in the first-aid kits. We can't afford to ignore sickness when we see the warning signs. Janet's not here. There's no Nox or Tok'ra to work their magic. Now, you know I love you, and I want you, Danny. Geez, I want you.” Jack paused for a moment, just long enough to kiss the side of Daniel's neck. “If making love is what you want, then I'm all for it. But, if any of what I've just said makes any sense, then I think we need to give you an aspirin and spend the rest of the night snuggling. You need to stay warm, and rest. I'll do whatever you want, whatever you need. I love you.”
For a moment, there wasn't a response, then Jack felt the muscles of his lover's abdomen began to relax. Finally, Daniel sighed.
“Gawd, I feel horrible. Everything was fine and then ... I don't know. I'm sorry, Jack.” Daniel turned around. “I'm so sorry.”
“Angel, it's okay. I'm a bear when I'm sick.”
“You're a bear anyway,” Daniel teased.
“Come on. Let's take care of you.”
Jack gave his lover a Tylenol and made him wear his jacket, even though he was hot, hoping the fever would burn itself out quickly. They settled down together on their bed, Daniel snuggling into Jack's tight hold.
“Jack. I know you didn't mean it. I mean it was just a silly joke. I don't know why I overreacted.”
“You're sick, that's all.”
“It's like chocolate. It's almost as good as ... you know, too.”
Jack rubbed Daniel's back, a smile on his face. Soon, the smile vanished.
~Don't get any worse, Danny. Geez, we're not prepared for that. I need you.~
Night fell, and the stars, such as they were, came out. Jack looked up, studying them.
“I thought you were asleep.”
“Not yet. Talk to me. Tell me about the stars.”
Daniel shifted slightly so that he could still lay with his head on Jack's chest, but at the same time see the stars. Jack gazed at the twinkling objects, seeking a familiar constellation. Unfortunately, he couldn't recognize any of the various formations, so he decided to be creative. He pointed to one group of stars that looked a little familiar.
“Okay, well, we have the Smiley Face constellation over to our left here.” Jack felt Daniel grin and smiled. He pointed to another group of stars. “Slightly to the left of Smiley Face, we have Thor's constellation.”
“They don't look anything like Thor.”
“They do, too. Use that imagination of yours, Dannyboy, and you'll see our little gray friend appear.” Ignoring the snort that came from Daniel, Jack continued on with his naming ceremony. “Now below Thor, we have Sylvester and ...” Jack shrugged, “Flipper.”
“Sylvester and Flipper?” Daniel questioned, his tone skeptical.
“It's simple name is Cat With Fish.”
“Do you need to borrow my glasses, Jack?”
“Are you disparaging my constellation-naming abilities, Daniel?”
Jack laughed, glad to hear Daniel wasn't so sick that he couldn't enjoy some good humor moments.
“Don't try that innocent tone with me, Love. You are no innocent. I've made sure of that.”
Daniel grinned in submission, but asked, “Want to try sounding a little less smug as you say that, Jack?”
“No. Now, to the right of Cat With Fish we have ...” Jack paused for dramatic effect, “Space Monkey!” He swallowed nervously as Daniel turned to glare at him. “No, really, Danny, look. It's a monkey, and it's in space so it is Space Monkey.”
“I hope that doesn't mean you think I look like a monkey.”
“Best looking monkey I know.”
“Right. You can snuggle on your own.” Daniel started to move away, but Jack snagged him back and wrapped his arms firmly around the young man. “You know I'm kidding, Angel. Now get back here. You're sick, and I need my Danny blanket.”
Kissing the top of Daniel's head, Jack continued to name various constellations.
“And over there we have ...” He paused and heard Daniel's rhythmic breathing, signaling his lover had finally fallen asleep. He sent up a silent prayer that Daniel would be feeling better in the morning.
Stroking Daniel's hair, he whispered, “Please be okay, Danny. I can't live without you. You have to be okay.”
Jack looked up at the sky, staring intently at the monkey star.
“No, you're not Space Monkey. You're ... J. Fred Muggs, but you're not Space Monkey. There's only one of those, and he's right here, and ... I love him with all that I am. My Space Monkey.”
He tried to sleep, but Daniel was restless and that meant Jack worried. The young man felt so warm to Jack's touch, and he sweated profusely for quite a while. Jack held him close, willing his lover to recover quickly. It was hours before Jack finally succumbed to sleep himself.
“Jack.” Daniel nudged his lover slightly with his hand. “Jack.” He tried to wiggle away, but he couldn't. Jack had indeed gone to sleep, but he had a death grip on Daniel. At first, Daniel was frustrated, but then he smiled, knowing that it was Jack's love holding him so tightly. “Not going anywhere, but ... oh gawd. JACK! WAKE UP!”
“What? Where are the Goa'uld?”
“Nowhere, but I have to go.”
“You're not going anywhere.”
“I'll be going all over you if you don't let me up.”
Jack smiled as he released Daniel, shaking his hands and arms a little. ~Geez, that hurts. I didn't realize I was holding on so strongly.~
A few minutes later, the two stood by the stream, stretching and waking up their bodies.
“Danny, how are you feeling this morning?”
“I've never hated two words so much in my life,” Jack said as he walked to his lover and touched the ... Jack smiled ... the normal feeling skin. “Much better.”
“Jack, I'm sorry. I was ... a little irrational last night.”
“No. You were ...” Jack chuckled, “fine.”
Daniel rolled his eyes as the two leaned in for a kiss.
“I had a twenty-four hour bug. You probably gave it to me.”
Daniel laughed at the outraged expression on Jack's face.
“Oh, Angel, I renamed one of the stars.”
“Which one? Why?”
“The monkey one. It's now J. Fred Muggs.”
“The chimp on the old 'Today Show'.”
“I read about him in history books,” Daniel teased.
“Very funny.” Jack kissed his partner before continuing. “Anyway, it's now J. Fred Muggs because there's only one Space Monkey, and he's right here, and I love him.”
“I love you, too.”
As they began to prepare breakfast, Daniel made a request. “Jack, tonight before we go to sleep, tell me stories about each of those stars, okay? I want to know their history.”
“Okay.” Jack's mind began to work on the tales of the strange stars in the sky.
“Especially Sylvester and Flipper.”
“One Cat With Fish story coming up,” Jack laughed.
“So, what's on the list of things to do today?”
“Catch more fish.”
“I'm sorry I ruined your dinner, Jack.”
Jack didn't want to spend the day counting “sorries” and Daniel had already said it at least ten times. He walked over to his lover and drew him into his arms.
“Our dinner, and you weren't feeling well. You are infinitely more important than a couple of fish.”
Daniel wrinkled his nose. “Thanks, I think.” He grinned at Jack. “You owe me.”
Jack looked suspiciously at his soulmate.
“What do I owe you?”
Inwardly, Jack grinned, knowing exactly what Daniel was talking about, but on the outside, he kept his expression blank as he responded, “No, I don't. Don't have a clue!”
Daniel scowled at his lover and pulled him in close to kiss him. He knew what his partner was doing. It was almost routine for the very much in love couple.
“Yes, Jack, you do know. Stop playing dumb and trying to wind me up.”
Jack wound his arms around Daniel's waist and grinned.
“But it's so much fun, Angel.”
Daniel was torn between the desire to hit Jack and wanting to kiss him until night fell. He decided to go with the kissing. After all, it was much more fun, even if they really couldn't do it all day. Several minutes later, they parted reluctantly, knowing that if they were to get anything done they'd better not let themselves get distracted.
“I thought I might head back to the eggplant patch today. I figured we could cover our ...” Daniel chuckled, “homestead with them. They'll help keep out the wind and rain if the weather does change.”
“Homestead. Makes us sound like pioneers.”
“We are .. in a way.”
“You're right, and that's a good idea about the eggplant stuff. We should probably cut some of the bamboo and try and make a door, too.”
“Home, sweet, home. It really will be a homestead when we're done.”
“Only if you have a lot of imagination.”
The two finished up their breakfast and headed towards the river. Jack went all the way so that he could catch some more fish, and Daniel stopped short of the river so he could cut some pieces of bamboo.
By lunchtime, Daniel had a nice stack of bamboo piled up ready to take back to their camp. He decided to head to the river for a swim, and a much-needed Jack check. He paused as he made his way down to the river to watch his lover in action.
~Gawd, he is so sexy when he concentrates. Actually, he's sexy all the time.~
Daniel admired his lover's naked body glistening in the sunlight. He saw Jack pounce and grinned at the yell of triumph from the older man as he secured their dinner for the night.
Down in the river, Jack caught sight of Daniel coming towards him. ~You are so beautiful, Danny.~ As soon as Daniel set foot in the cool water, Jack swept the younger man up in a tight embrace, burying his head in Daniel's neck as he inhaled the musky scent of his lover. ~Love the way you smell, the way you feel, love you.~
“Love you, all hot and sweaty, Danny.”
He sought out Daniel's lips and kissed him, their tongues beginning a heated duel that matched the heat of their bodies.
Half an hour later, they lay sweaty, but sated in each other's arms. Jack stroked his lover's bare back and grinned.
“Much better than fish.”
Giving Jack a thump, Daniel shot up and ran into the river, closely followed by his laughing soulmate. As they stood in the water kissing once more, a movement high on the opposite cliff face caught Daniel's attention.
Daniel pointed towards a small gray-looking creature. It was too far away to see clearly, but looked like the same type of animal they'd seen by their camp site.
~Looks a little like a cross between a monkey and a koala.~
Jack clearly had the same thought, stating with a bit of a humorous that, “Its a Konkey!”
Fighting back laughter, Daniel said, “Jack, that's the first real sign of any unusual kind of animal we've seen on Xanadu.”
“Yeah. We've been too relaxed, Danny. We need to remember we're on a strange planet.”
“Jack, don't get paranoid. It's just a ... konkey.”
The two broke out in laughter, and burst into a round of playfulness in the water, splashing and laughing, forgetting all about the creature watching them.
That afternoon, as Daniel went to the eggplant patch, Jack made his lover a spear of his own.
~I'll teach you to fish tomorrow. Of course, I'll let you catch me.~
Jack laughed as he worked on sharpening the piece of wood he had selected to act as a spear.
At the patch, Daniel gathered more of the colorful leaf pads.
“I sure wish I could find more feathers, too. That bed of ours is so hard.”
Daniel sighed, and continued his task. On the way back, he stopped to gather some fruit from the trees.
“Jack, help me.”
Jack began to panic hearing his lover's call, until he saw Daniel with his arms full of supplies. He laughed as he went to his lover's rescue.
“You didn't need to bring back the whole patch.”
“I didn't. There's lots more there.”
“Missed you, Danny.”
“I missed you, too.”
That night they enjoyed their fish and fruit dinner, and then Jack shared some stories of the stars with his lover.
The following day, they worked on creating some inventive clothing and shoring up their homestead.
“Daniel, I am not wearing this.”
“It's not like I'm not wearing the same thing.” Daniel responded, looking down at his orange eggplant skirt.
“I guess, but Dannnnnny,” Jack whined, not liking his pink skirt. “Couldn't you have let me use some of the orange?”
“Payback for the ... well, I don't know for what, but I'm sure there's something.”
Jack growled as he took Daniel into his arms.
“Sometimes, Love, I just don't know what to do with you.”
“I just bet you do,” Jack said as he moved to ravish his soulmate.
As they lay recovering from their spontaneous lovemaking session, Daniel wondered about the creatures they'd seen.
~They looked furry. Their coats would make nice warm jackets.~
“I heard that, Jack, and NO! No way are you going to kill one of those creatures. We have the fish, and we are not killing anything else.”
“What if they're vicious?”
“They didn't look vicious. They looked soft and cuddly, like teddy bears.”
Jack tensed a little.
“Danny, I meant what I said earlier. Just because we haven't found anything here that seems threatening doesn't mean we can let our guard down, and we can't let appearances deceive us. If we've learned anything from the last few years, it's that we can't afford to judge an alien by its cover, appearance ... whatever.”
“I know,” Daniel paused to kiss his worried lover, “but we also have to trust our instincts. We can't afford to attack first and ask questions later.”
“So we'll practice caution, but not paranoia.”
“Are you calling me paranoid?”
Daniel looked innocently at Jack.
“Me? Never.” Reluctantly, he got up and held out his hand to help Jack up. “Come on, we still have work to do on the door to our house, but first, I made you something else.”
Daniel ducked into their homestead and came out holding something behind his back. He was looking way too mischievous for Jack's liking.
“What are you up to, Danny?”
“I made you a hat, Jack.”
Daniel placed the bright pink hat on Jack's head and ran.
“You're so dead, Jackson.” Jack pulled off the offending hat and raced after his lover, tackling him to the ground. “Right, that does it. Payback time, Love.”
Jack began tickling Daniel, keeping up his raging attack until Daniel had tears of laughter streaming down his face and was begging for mercy.
As they lay beside each other on the ground, Daniel asked Jack in a tentative voice, “Don't you like the skirt I made for you, Jack? And I made the hat because I love you.”
“Of course I like them. You made them for me.” ~Geez, I'm serious, too. Anything he does for me is golden.~
“So you'll wear the skirt?”
“I'll wear the skirt. It really is good, Danny.”
“And the hat?” Jack hesitated. “I knew you didn't like it.”
“But I do. I do! Really, I do. I'll wear it, Angel.”
“Even to bed.”
Daniel started laughing wickedly, and Jack knew he'd been had but good.
“Why you little ...” Jack recommenced his tickling attack.
A few days later, they were sitting by the stream, their bare feet enjoying the feel of the running water trickling over them. Jack nudged Daniel's left foot with his right, beginning a round of intimate footsies in the stream ... until they laughed.
Daniel rested his head against Jack's shoulder. He was amazed that he didn't miss Earth as much as he had thought he would.
“Gawd, this is nice.”
“Very,” Jack agreed, his arm around Daniel's waist, holding him close.
“Should we be doing more to try and get home?”
“I ... I don't know. Just ... wondering.”
“Actually, what we need to be doing is laundry, and maybe when it's drying, we can make some new eggplant outfits.”
“You're right. At least those patches of clothing last a few days before falling apart.”
Their skirts and other makeshift clothing had fallen apart the night before. With all their movements and activities, the clothing seemed to last no more than four or five days before needing repair or replacement.
“We could try using tree sap as a glue. That might hold them together longer.”
“Good idea. Why don't we try that when we're done with the wash?”
“Sounds like a plan, Doctor Jackson.”
The two stripped off their clothes and entered the stream to do their wash, even singing more silly songs in cartoon voices as they joked their way through the chore. When they were done, the two exited the stream.
They'd just finished hanging their washing over some branches to dry when Daniel felt like he was being watched. He glanced at Jack who had obviously sensed the same thing because his right hand was reaching out for his P-90. Slowly, Daniel turned around.
“Um ... Jack. It's ... them again.”
Informed by Daniel's tone that there didn't seem to be any real threat, Jack relaxed slightly. He turned around to see a group of animals like the ones they had seen before. They were huddled together staring at the two humans.
“Jack, I think they're intelligent life forms.”
“Don't say it, Jack.”
Wishing he had his clothes on, Daniel slowly moved closer to the creatures, and then squatted down to wait.
~At least, they don't have clothes either.~
Jack watched the scene in front of him. Part of him was convinced that this was a complete waste of their time, but Daniel obviously felt there was more to these creatures than met the eye, and Jack knew that Daniel was usually right. As he watched, one of the creatures broke away from the group and inched forward. When it was about eight feet from Daniel, it stopped.
Slowly, Daniel stretched out his hand, his palm facing upwards. Jack could hardly believe it when a couple of minutes later, the creature moved forward again until it was within reach of Daniel's hand. Slowly, it placed its paw on Daniel's palm.
Daniel smiled as he made contact. He glanced briefly at Jack, and then faced the creature again.
“I'm Daniel, and this is Jack. We're from a planet called Earth. We were returning from a mission, going through the Stargate when some ... something zapped the Gate and ... here we are, wherever here is.” Daniel stared at the creatures, a closed, resigned smile on his face now. “And you don't have a clue what I'm saying, do you?”
Jack felt his lover's disappointment.
“Daniel, I know you want to make friends with the ... little guys here, but we're not really in a situation to be having pets. It's a little thing called food. I am not catching fish for them!”
“Jack, they aren't just animals. I ...” Daniel stopped. He smiled again, and decided to ignore Jack and talk to his new friends instead. “You have to understand Jack. It's just his way. He's military, and sometimes that means a lack of common sense.”
“Oh for crying out loud, Daniel!”
The creature stared at Jack, its head tilted as he watched the older man's animated antics.
“His bark is much worse than his bite.”
“I'll bite you if ...”
“Not now, Jack.” Daniel was still focused on the creature standing before him. “So, do you have a name? Right. You can't tell me. Well, we're liable to be neighbors for a while. I'm afraid we're sort of ... stuck here. No way to get home.”
Daniel's face became serious and sad, his eyes drooping a little. He looked off into the distance towards the direction of the Stargate. He sighed, realizing their potential fate of never seeing their friends again.
The creature reached out and touched Daniel's face.
Jack moved forward, afraid the animal would hurt Daniel. The creature pulled back in fear.
“Jack, stop behaving like a fool. It's okay.” Looking towards the creature, “This may be hard to understand but ... you see, he just worries about me. He loves me. For some strange reason,” Daniel glanced at Jack, “I love him, too. He just doesn't want me to get hurt. I'm a little too trusting sometimes. Jack's more cautious, so ... we balance each other out. It's okay, really.” Daniel looked at Jack. “Apologize, Jack.”
“Oh for ...”
“Jack!” **Don't argue with me.**
He grumbled, but looking at the furry little gray life form, Jack did a little bow, “I am so sorry.”
“I may kill him one day. No. Please. Don't let Jack scare you. He won't hurt you. He's ... worried about us, that's all. He's trying to be ... strong ... for me. He's just ... scared. He protects me, like I protect him. Gawd, why am I talking so much about our personal life. We never do that with people we don't know.”
As Jack watched, the furry creature moved back to Daniel. Daniel seemed sad again. As he had done before, the animal reached out and touched Daniel's face. For a brief moment, he closed his eyes and let out a sound Daniel couldn't understand.
“Oh gawd. Wow!” Daniel blinked. “Wow!”
Daniel stood up, smiling. He went to Jack and kissed him.
“Whoa! Danny, it's not that I'm complaining but ...”
“I just ...” Daniel looked back at the creature. “Wow. That was ... wow.”
Jack began to get worried.
“Daniel, talk to me, and make it something other than 'wow'; in fact, a full sentence would be nice.”
“Jack, when he touched me. It's like the sadness I was feeling disappeared, and in its place was something ... gawd, something wonderful. It's hard to explain, but ... one second I was filled with this worry and fear we wouldn't get home, and then all I could focus on was how much I love you, and how glad I am that we're both here together, and not separated or hurt. It felt ... great.”
“And you think your emotional flip flop was because the little guy touched you.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Maybe it's just that you suddenly remembered our cup is always half full, never half empty ... like we've talked about.”
“No, Jack. I mean ... it was him,” Daniel looked over at the animal again. “I'm sure of it.”
Daniel took Jack's hand and pulled him to within a few feet of the creatures. He noticed they were looking warily at the older man.
“Squat down and hold out your hand, like I did. We need for them to trust you.”
“I really think they can help us, but they need to trust us first -- both of us.”
Jack considered Daniel's request and sighed in resignation, “Okay.”
Jack followed Daniel's directions and sat down holding out one hand towards the creatures. After enduring the scrutiny of the critters who kept looking back at Daniel as if for reassurance, Jack was getting frustrated.
“For crying out loud, Daniel, this is ridiculous.”
“No, it's not, Jack, and stop behaving like a grizzly bear, or they're never going to trust you.” Daniel turned his gaze back to the creatures, and Jack rolled his eyes. “And I saw that.”
Daniel grinned at him.
“Okay, I didn't see it but I know you, and you were bound to do something.”
Jack shook his head. Sometimes, Daniel was just annoyingly clever. ~And I love him. Wouldn't have him any other way.~ He didn't realize that as he gazed at his lover, his expression had softened. It seemed to be enough to persuade the creatures, though, because gradually the bolder one inched forward to rest its paw on Jack's outstretched hand.
**Talk to it, Jack.**
Jack sighed as he thought, ~What I do for that man.~ “Hello. Like Daniel said, I'm Jack O'Neill, and it's very nice to meet you. I don't suppose you can tell us anything useful, like how to get home, or where we are?”
To Jack's astonishment, the creature tilted its head to one side, as if it was considering his question. It removed its paw and moved back to stand with its friends. “Guess not.”
Daniel pointed at the critters. They were beginning to move back into the forest, and the creature that had been making contact with them was making an unmistakable 'follow us' gesture.
Daniel was already moving after them, and stopping to grab his P-90, Jack had to run to catch up to his overexcited, over-trusting lover.
“Daniel, forgetting that we're traipsing through the woods naked, do you really think this is a good idea?”
“Oh ... I ... I forgot,” he smiled shyly, but not stopping. “Yes, I do think we need to follow them. They've shown absolutely no sign of being hostile, Jack, and if we are ever going to get home, we need help. Maybe they can help us.” Jack's raised eyebrow showed he didn't think that was likely. “Never judge a book by its cover, Jack. Or in this case, never judge an alien by its appearance.”
“Can't we at least go back and get dressed? If these guys are intelligent, I don't want to be naked around them.”
“Jack, they aren't wearing clothes. It's all relative, and I don't know how to ask them to wait or if they'd want to. We can't afford to pass up this chance. They may be our only way home.”
Jack had to admit that Daniel had a point.
“Okay, let's see what they have to show us.”
Daniel looked at his lover for a second, scanning him from top to bottom and laughed.
Jack gave him a funny look.
Self-consciously, Jack looked down at his bare body.
“It's just ... naked ... except for that P-90. Jack, you just look ... funny, dressed only with your ... weapon,” Daniel said, fighting off a laugh. “You should have left it.”
“No, I don't think so, Dannyboy.”
“Anything you say, Jack.”
He snickered as they continued to follow the bunch of critters through the woods.
“There is nothing funny about how I look.”
“Of course not.”
“Jack, all I said was ...”
“You looked at my body and laughed. LAUGHED, Daniel.”
“It's just. Gawd, Jack. I wish I could take a picture.”
“A picture? What kind of man do you think I am? I'm not about to pose for ... Cosmopolitan.”
“Don't worry, Love. They won't ask.”
“Now, I'm hurt.”
“No, you're not.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Daniel, it's my emotion, and I am, TOO, hurt. You've left me ... deeply and emotionally ... scarred. I may never recover.”
Daniel shook his head in disbelief.
“I swear, Jack, sometimes you really do have the mind of a five-year-old.”
“My age has nothing to do with my being hurt.”
“You don't like my body anymore.”
“I do, too.”
“Not,” Jack bantered, sighing in regret.
Daniel heard the despair. ~When did the joke become serious?~ He shouted out to the creatures, “Hey ... um, excuse me?”
The animals stopped and turned to face Daniel who had moved in front of Jack a few steps.
“Thanks. Um, could you give us just one minute. The grizzly bear needs some reassurance.” Turning to Jack, Daniel said, “Put that down.”
“Put down the gun.”
Jack sighed, but let the P-90 rest on the ground.
Daniel smiled, walked to his lover, and devoured him as the creatures watched. It was a long, deep kiss that had their arms wrapped around each other as their tongues danced ... and their bodies reacting a little more than they had time for.
“The message here, Babe, is that I love your body. I want your body. I live for your body, and later, when we're alone again, I'm going to show you just how much I need your beautiful, sexy, strong ...”
Jack smiled as he smirked, “Apology accepted.”
“Apology?” Daniel stood stunned. “I was NOT apologizing.”
“Sure, you were,” Jack said as he bent over to retrieve the gun, “and I accept your apology with all the love and sincerity with which I know it was given.”
“Love, yes, apology, no.”
“Anything you say, Daniel.”
Daniel looked like he was about to scream, but then Jack smiled a big Irish grin, leaned over and brushed their lips together, and said, “I love you so much, Danny.”
The combination of the smile, the tender kiss, and the magical words melted Daniel's exasperation over the apology line. He smiled.
“I love you, too.”
“We should go wherever it is we're going so that we can get back to camp and ...”
“Oh yeah ... definitely,” Daniel said with anticipation in his voice. He turned to the creatures. “Thank you. We can go now.”
The creatures looked at each other and seemed to laugh, but then turned and continued on their way, with Jack and Daniel following once again.
As they moved on, Daniel reached over, prodding Jack's left hand. Jack smiled in response, removing his left hand from the P-90. The next time the creatures turned around, they saw Jack and Daniel holding hands as they continued their journey.
“Is it just me or are these critters getting noisier?” Jack asked as they followed the furry creatures over a slight rise.
“It's not you.” Daniel grinned at his lover. “I think we must be getting closer.”
Six or seven minutes later, they saw something appear on the horizon. After another ten minutes, it was identifiable. Jack sighed, shaking his head.
~Can't escape it -- not ever. Well, Danny will be in Heaven.~
“Ruins! They've dragged us all this way to look at ruins.” He looked at Daniel whose eyes were alight with excitement and anticipation. ~Love you, Danny. I'm glad you've got some fallen down rubble to play in.~
“This is fantastic, Jack. Look, there are hieroglyphs on the walls.” Daniel increased his pace, racing after the creatures, who also had sped up their movements.
“Whoa, Danny,” Jack spoke as he tugged on his lover's arm to halt Daniel's movement. “The ruins aren't going anywhere, and even though these fur balls seem friendly, it's smart to be cautious.”
Daniel rolled his eyes. He moved forward, but more slowly, talking a mile a minute about what this find might mean.
“If I can work out their language, we might be able to communicate with them, find out who they are, where we are. Jack, maybe they can help us get home.”
While he listened to Daniel, Jack checked out the surrounding area. He didn't really think there would be anything to worry about, but there was no way he was taking chances with Daniel's life.
Finally, they reached the ruins. The boldest of the creatures took Daniel's hand and led him over to one of the walls. His friends made chattering noises and pointed to various symbols.
“Danny? Anything look familiar?”
“No.” Daniel glanced at Jack, positively radiating excitement. “I've never seen this language before. There's nothing I recognize, no links or commonalities to anything else I've ever seen.”
He turned his attention back to the wall, examining the images and writings.
“They look like chicken scratches to me.”
Jack grinned. Frustrating Daniel was always fun. Daniel hadn't taken his eyes from the writings. ~That's the end of sensible conversation with you for a while isn't it, Danny? That's okay. I love seeing you like this, so passionate about ... a wall.~ Still grinning, Jack felt his body beginning to react. ~No, not good. Not here.~
He decided it might be safer to critter watch. Being naked didn't allow much scope for hiding bodily reactions. He noticed that the critters were watching Daniel hopefully. ~They look like they want you to figure out their language, Danny. Should I be insulted that they didn't even try to show me their chicken scribbles? Just how much do these guys know about us anyway?~
As time passed, Jack could hear Daniel mumbling, trying to decipher the strange language. Finally, Daniel sat down on the ground Indian-style and stared at the bottom center block.
“I need help here -- a frame of reference. Something to provide a link.” He looked at the creature who had led him to the wall. “I don't suppose you could tell me what any of these mean?” Daniel asked, pointing at the center block and the symbols etched on to it.
The creature looked at the symbols. Then he looked at Daniel, pointing to him, and then to Jack.
“What? I ... I don't understand.”
The creature walked to Jack, and though Jack instinctively pulled back a little, he allowed the animal to take his hand and lead him over to Daniel. He then took Daniel's hand and placed it in Jack's. The creature surprised the linguist when it spoke, “Cresha.”
The creature pointed at Jack and Daniel and said, “Cresha.” He then pointed to another creature in the group of animals and waved it over. Taking its hand, he repeated, “Cresha.”
“Family? Cresha is family?”
“Cresha,” the critter repeated. He moved towards the other animal and nibbled the furry tip of her ear. She seemed to giggle.
Daniel smiled, and said a bit shyly, “Jack does that, too.”
“I do not!”
“I've never giggled when you've nibbled.”
“You have so.”
“Daniel ... we'll take this up later.”
“Okay, so this symbol must mean family. Well, it's not much, but it's a start.” Daniel looked over at the animals. “Um, if you can speak, then maybe there is something we can call you. Remember, I'm Daniel,” he pointed at himself, and then up to his lover, “Jack.” Daniel pointed to the creature, “And you ...?”
“Korsha,” the creature pointed to himself, and then at his mate, “Swarsha.”
To make sure they understood, they did a round circle, each saying their names. Still, the other creatures stayed back. They weren't threatening in any way, but seemed content to let Korsha and Swarsha be their representatives.
“Daniel, this has been fun, but ...”
“Yeah. Korsha, can we come back and study the walls here? Um ...” Daniel pointed to himself and Jack, his fingers walking through the air, returning to the wall. “Can we come back?”
The animal nodded.
“Thank you. We have to go now. Goodbye.”
Jack and Daniel walked away, Daniel glancing over his shoulder at the animals.
“Jack, they're very intelligent. I think maybe they know more than they're letting on.”
Jack looked at Daniel in surprise.
“I thought you were buying their friendly act?”
Daniel shrugged, admitting, “I am, but I think they know more than what they've said.”
“I don't know. It just seems ...” Daniel shrugged again as he spoke.
“They learn fast.”
“Jack, I think I'm becoming too skeptical, and I don't like it.”
“Being skeptical can save your life, and mine.”
“But I don't think they're dangerous, or trying to hurt us.”
“I'm not saying that either, but we both agree, they aren't just cute little guys, right?”
“Come on, Beautiful,” Jack said, taking Daniel's hand again. “We need to gather some food and firewood for the camp.”
The following morning, Jack found himself dragged back to the temple. There was no sign of Korsha, Swarsha, or their friends yet, but Daniel was confident that sooner or later they'd show up.
“They led us to this place for a reason, Jack. They'll be here.”
Daniel returned to his place in front of the wall, sitting cross legged and staring at the pictographs.
“I wonder where they sleep?”
Jack looked around. There was no sign of any habitation, just trees, trees and more trees. He glanced at Daniel and grinned. They were back in their clothes again today.
~Clothing is good if the critters show up, but I miss seeing you in your birthday suit, Danny.~
They'd been at the temple for about an hour when the animals returned.
“Heads up, Danny. Your furry flea-bag friends are here.”
Daniel glared at his lover and stood to meet their new found friends. This time Korsha, Swarsha, and their cohort of followers were accompanied by an older looking animal. It moved more stiffly than the others, and it's fur was white around its nose and eyes.
“Korsha. Swarsha.” Daniel squatted so that he was at eye level with the creatures and smiled. Korsha gestured to the older looking animal. “Gelsha.”
Daniel pointed to himself and then extended his hand towards the older looking animal. He smiled as a paw was extended to rest on his palm. After glancing at Jack, Gelsha looked into Daniel's eyes for what seemed like hours, but was in fact only a few minutes. Then slowly, Gelsha's paw moved up to caress Daniel's cheek.
**Jack, it's okay. Stay put.** Daniel had felt the tension emanating from Jack and knew that his lover really hated it when he got 'up close and personal' with aliens. **These creatures aren't a threat to us. I don't know how I know it, I just do.**
Jack watched as Gelsha threw his or her, he really wished he could tell which, head back as its paw rubbed Daniel's cheek.
**I don't have to like this though, Danny, and don't forget, you're mine.**
**Gawd, Jack. I think you need to find a Jealousy Anonymous group badly.**
**Don't give me a hard time. Look at that ... whatever it is.**
**Jack, be quiet.**
**I am quiet.**
Jack heard Daniel counting to ten in Abydonian and figured he'd better change his thinking fast as whenever Daniel did the counting thing, it too often ended up with Jack on the sofa, or in this case, on his side of the stream.
Gelsha looked over at Jack, studying him. The little black eyes of the creature were steady and focused.
“What?” Jack asked a bit defensively.
Gelsha looked at Daniel and said “Cresha?” It seemed to be a question, one directed at Daniel but referring to Jack.
Daniel smiled. He looked over at Jack and pointed, and then grinned.
“Don't ask me why, but yes. Cresha ... forever.”
Gelsha waved towards Jack, beckoning him to join Daniel.
“Jack, he wants you to come over here.”
“Yeahsureyabetcha,” Jack hesitantly agreed as he sat down next to his lover.
Gelsha reached out and touched Jack's cheek. Automatically, Jack started to pull back, but Daniel reached out to touch Jack's forearm as he spoke, “No, Jack. Let him. It's okay.”
“The things I do for love.”
“Love has nothing to do with it.”
“Oh, yes it does, or I would have let those Marines bounce you around on Abydos on the first mission.”
“Jack, you weren't in love with me then.”
“Technicality. You were a witch.”
“A witch? Geez, Jack, you've lost your mind.”
“You put a spell on me.”
It was a whine, Jack's expression one of the helpless victim.
“If I could do that, I would have found one to control your mouth.”
“My mouth? Daniel, you're the one who can't stop talking! Sometimes I think you even forget to breathe.”
“I do not.”
“You're so full of it.”
Daniel shook his head, confident Jack's brain had gone to lunch or otherwise stopped functioning.
“Just for you, Love.”
Now, Daniel laughed, his heart full of love.
Gelsha removed its hand. “Cresha.” This time it was a statement, a fact. The creature pointed at the two and asked, “Shumas?”
“I'm sorry,” Daniel said confused, “but I don't know that word. What is ... shumas?”
Daniel's face was full of question.
Gelsha motioned to one of the creatures. A minute later, the creature walked out holding a tiny furry baby.
“Oh, I don't think so,” Jack stated, not needing Daniel to translate this one at all. “No shumas.”
“Um, not possible. Long story, not that you can understand what I'm saying,” Daniel stated. “Shumas ... no.” He shook his head. “But lots of love.”
“Lots and lots of that,” Jack said as he took Daniel's hand and kissed it.
Daniel exchanged a look with the creature.
“Jack, I think Gelsha is a female.”
“How can you tell?”
“I don't know. I just think she is. Maybe her interest in family.”
“Okay. He is a she.”
Gelsha looked at them and tilted her head to the side. It almost looked like she was smiling. She turned around and began chatting with Swarsha and Korsha. Jack looked at Daniel, his raised eyebrows asking if his lover had any idea of what was going on. Daniel just shrugged and shook his head.
It seemed the critters had reached a decision. Korsha came forward and raised his paw, his eyes asking permission to place it on Daniel's head. Daniel nodded.
**Don't say it, Jack. It's okay.**
Swarsha went up to Jack and patted him on the shoulder reassuringly as Korsha placed both his paws over Daniel's temples and closed his eyes. His brows furrowed, and after a couple of minutes, he stepped back and fainted. At once, the creatures surrounded him.
“Daniel, what just happened?”
“I ... I don't know. I didn't feel anything.”
Daniel looked at the unconscious Korsha with concern. He was growing quite attached to these little critters. He took his canteen and held it out to Gelsha, pouring a little water out of it so she could see what it was. Curiously, she took it and practiced tipping small amounts of water out of it.
“I'm not sure that was a brilliant idea, Daniel. We need that, what if they don't give it back?”
“We'll manage. We have to let them know that we're prepared to share what we have with them.”
**No way am I sharing you with them, Danny.**
**You know what I meant, Jack. By the way, Love, same here. You're mine, all mine.**
**That's nice to know, but they aren't interested in me. None of these cultures ever are.**
**Are you complaining, Jack?**
**Daniel, just watch the fur balls, will ya?**
The two grinned at each other and watched as Gelsha carefully dripped some water onto Korsha. With what sounded like a moan, he began to stir, and a minute later, he opened his eyes. He gave what looked like a smile and spoke excitedly to the other critters. Jack and Daniel exchanged confused glances. With Swarsha's help, Korsha got to his paws and looked at the two bewildered men.
“I need rest. We will return tomorrow.”
Before Jack and Daniel had recovered from their shock, the critters had moved away.
“Danny? When did Korsha learn English?”
“Um, just now, I guess. Jack, maybe that's how they learn -- the paws on our faces.”
“Touching? That doesn't make sense.”
“Sure it does,” Daniel spoke excitedly. “Like an empath. The touch is a link. Jack, remember how they were when we learned about cresha. They touched me, and then you. That's how they knew. They ... they tapped into our minds, learning. And now ...”
“They've learned English?”
“Maybe not just English. Perhaps that's why Korsha fainted. It was a lot to learn.”
Jack tilted his head in a shrugging-type action.
“We should get back to camp.”
“No, Jack. It's still early. We haven't been here that long, and I need to work on the ruins. It might be our way home.”
Daniel returned to a temple wall and quickly became engrossed.
Jack, meanwhile, watched from a few yards away. He spoke softly. “Danny, would it be so bad? You and me? Here ... just us?”
There was a silent pause, and then suddenly, Daniel turned, “Jack, did you say something?”
“No,” Jack said, regret in his voice. “Nothing important.”
The tone of Jack's voice filtered through Daniel's study of the wall. He turned and walked up to his lover.
“What wasn't important?”
Jack scuffed his feet on the ground.
“It was nothing, Danny. Go back to your temple wall.” He could see that Daniel wasn't buying it. “Really, it wasn't anything. Go, study, get us home.” Seeing that Daniel was still not totally convinced, Jack guided him back to the wall and pushed on his shoulders to make him sit. “I promise, I'm okay.”
After giving Jack one more assessing look, Daniel nodded and went back to his examination of the wall. Jack wandered a couple of steps away to sit on some rubble and look out over their paradise.
~Paradise for me, anyway. I wish I was enough for you.~
Daniel stared at the wall ignoring the pictographs in front of him. ~It wasn't nothing, Jack. Gawd, what did I miss?~ He turned and looked at his lover's slumped shoulders. ~Okay, Daniel, think. We were talking, Jack wanted to head back for camp, you wanted to stay and look for a way home. Oh for ... geez, Jack.~
He stood and headed over to stand in front of his soulmate. Jack was so wrapped up in his thoughts he didn't even notice Daniel had approached until he saw two boots standing in front of him.
“Ready to go now,” Jack spoke dryly as he stood and gave a weak smile that didn't quite reach his eyes.
He assumed Daniel was done and ready to return to their camp. Jack had been so deep into his feeling of loss that when Daniel walked up to him, it felt like hours had passed, and not just the one or two minutes that had actually elapsed while Daniel had been at the wall. He saw his lover shake his head in exasperation.
“What?” Jack asked, clueless.
“You lied to me, Jack.”
Jack opened his mouth to protest, but Daniel cut him off by kissing him passionately and forcefully. They were panting a little when they finally broke apart.
“Now listen to me. I love you, Jack O'Neill. I don't care if we ever get off this planet as long as I have you, but I do think we owe it to everyone on Earth to at least try and get back. I remember what it was like when you were trapped on Edora. The general, Sam, Teal'c, Janet, Cassie. They're family, and they'll want to know we're okay. But, Jack, I don't need them to be happy. I just need you for that.”
Jack was looking a little sheepish.
“I'm sorry, Danny. Sometimes, I still don't know what you see in this old bag of bones.”
“Hey, no disparaging the body I love, thank you. Or the man inside. I love you, Jack. Let's head back to camp. I think I need to show you just how much you mean to me.”
Jack grinned. It was positively huge.
“You mean that, Danny? You could really stay here forever and still be ...”
Daniel didn't let Jack finish the question. He kissed him so hard that Jack's knees buckled.
“It's nice here, Jack, but even it wasn't, I'd be with you, and in the end, that is all that matters to me -- being with you.”
Jack was grinning again.
“I feel the same way. I hope you know that.”
Daniel chuckled, then said, “I think so. Come on.”
Taking Jack's hand, he led them back to their homestead where they made love.
“Hey, Jack, look at Cat With Fish.”
The two were on their backs, Daniel's head resting on Jack's left shoulder. Jack paused a moment to kiss Daniel's temple and then looked up. He frowned.
“It looks like Cat With Fish found another fish. It's ... Cat With Fishes now,” Daniel teased.
“Danny, every night that we've been here, it's been clear out, just like now. There was nothing to hide that group of stars, so why all of a sudden are there more stars? It just doesn't make sense.”
“Maybe it's just the rotation of the planet.”
“Maybe, but ...” Jack removed his arm from his lover's shoulders and stood. He walked around for a minute, his head arched upwards to study the constellations of Xanadu. “Danny, they look closer, too. Look at J. Fred Muggs. He was never that bright before.”
Daniel stood up slowly as he thought about what Jack had said. “You're right. They are closer. But ... maybe that's normal. Rotation and ...”
“But nothing else has changed. The weather here, the food ... it's ... all the same, except for the stars.”
“Jack, could that be normal here?”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Jack looked over at his lover and smiled. “I guess the stars for me are like those writings on the temple for you.”
“And it feels wrong, doesn't it?”
Jack nodded, admitting, “Yeah, it does.”
“So, what do we do?” Daniel asked as he folded his arms across his chest.
Jack walked to him and kissed him tenderly.
“We go back to what we were doing. Unless something else happens, there's nothing we can do.”
“You have a point. I mean, we ...”
Jack decided they had talked too much. He devoured his lover's mouth, and carefully took them both back down to the ground to engage in a further fusion of their bodies.
The next morning was fine and sunny, as every day on the planet had been so far. Jack woke up first and gazed in awe at the sight of his sleeping lover in his arms. The sun was striking Daniel's hair, showing its highlights.
He wondered about the changes in the stars the previous night. Maybe they could ask Korsha about them. ~And that was weird, too. I don't like the idea of anyone but me getting that close to MY Danny.~ Unconciously, his arms tightened around Daniel.
After about a half an hour, Jack decided he really ought to get up. Besides, his back was starting to ache. ~Some feathers under our sleeping bags wouldn't go astray.~ He unknowingly echoed Daniel's thoughts from a few days earlier.
Carefully, he slid out from under Daniel and began gathering fruit for breakfast. Then, as he began to make coffee for his lover, he noticed that they were getting low on chocolate covered coffee beans, the moderately-sized bag down to a handful of beans now.
~Another thing to ask Korsha about. Poor Danny. Can't have him all caffeine deprived. They must have ... something.~
“Good morning.” A very sleepy looking Daniel emerged from their homestead and blindly made his way towards the scent of coffee, only stopping for a kiss from Jack along the way. “Mmmm, love you.”
Jack laughed and asked, “Are you talking to me or the coffee, Daniel?”
Daniel pretended to consider the question carefully before breaking into a wide grin. He sidled up to Jack and nudged him with his shoulder.
“You, of course.” His eyes twinkled as he looked at his lover. “After all, you make me my coffee.”
Jack gave him an evil grin back. “I'm afraid it won't be long until we find out which you love more.” Jack held up their dwindling supply. “We're running out of coffee.”
Daniel groaned, then gave Jack a leer.
“Well, you'll just have to find another way of waking me up.”
He gave Jack a coffee-flavored kiss just to drive his point home.
“Good idea. Maybe I should tip out the rest of the coffee, and we'll start our new wake up regime tomorrow.”
Jack laughed at the outraged expression on Daniel's face.
“You do that, Jack, and you'll be sleeping on your own for the rest of your natural life!” Daniel curled his fingers protectively around his cup and eyed his lover warily. He was about to say something else when he caught sight of something beside their homestead that hadn't been there before.
Finishing his coffee, he went over to investigate, Jack by his side. It looked like a Hessian sack except that it was dark blue.
“This is incredible. I wonder what its made from,” Daniel commented as he examined the material.
“Yeah, yeah. It's great. Open it up already.”
“You're so impatient, Jack.”
“Hey, its not every day we get mysterious gifts.”
Slowly, Daniel opened the sack. He sneezed ... and sneezed again.
“Danny, are you all right?”
“What 'ut oh'?”
Daniel gave Jack a closed smile.
“No more allergy pills either.”
“Oh.” Jack looked around. “Well, not many flowers here anyway, but ... what's in the bag?”
“Feathers. Lots and lots of ... feathers.”
“Yeah? Let me see.”
Jack grabbed the bag out of Daniel's hands, leaving Daniel with two hands holding nothing but air.
“This is great! Danny, we can make a ...”
“...bed,” they both said in unison.
“You know, it's funny, Jack, but a while back at the eggplant patch, I wished for more feathers.”
“I wished for some last night.”
“I guess the ... feather fairies like you best.”
“Right,” Jack said with a chuckle. “Let's make the bed!”
For the next hour, they worked at taking some of the latest eggplant pads they had brought back and attaching the feathers to it. By the time they were done, they finally had what they thought was a terrific bed.
“Not exactly what we have at home, Love, but it sure beats the hard ground.”
Daniel tilted his head slightly.
“That was a lot of feathers. Where'd they come from?”
“Korsha and his pals?”
“Okay, but how did they know? And ... is it just a coincidence that it was right after you wished for it?”
“Daniel, you're giving me a headache.”
“But you're right. Lots of questions. No answers.”
“Not this second. Maybe they'll be at the temple today and we can ask them.”
“Danny, why don't we go to the temple this morning so you can work on it, and then this afternoon, we can fish?”
“I could go alone.”
“Over my dead body.” ~Not letting that critter get that close to you without me around.~
Daniel grinned and shook his head as he turned to go back outside.
“What's so funny?”
“You're jealous of a konkey!” Daniel continued to laugh as he exited.
“Got me there,” Jack mumbled to himself as he looked at the bed. “Hey, if you're listening. Danny loves coffee. You know, that stuff he drinks 24/7. Have any of that to spare?” Jack laughed at himself, and then turned to join his lover outside.
“They aren't here yet.”
Daniel looked around as they approached the temple, hoping to see the koala-like animals.
“Give them time. They don't seem to be early risers.” He laughed. “Then again, neither are you without your morning wake up calls.”
“Jack.” Daniel shot his lover a warning glance, but as he spoke, there was also another voice.
“On the contrary, Jack, we simply have much to do before we are able to spare the time to come and see you.”
Daniel smiled broadly at the furry creature who was accompanied by his usual companions. The archaeologist was starting to recognize subtle differences between them now. Gelsha was easy to identify because of the white fur around her eyes and mouth signaling her age. He also found he could recognize Swarsha with little difficulty. She had tiny black circle of fur above her right eye, not unlike a mole on a human. It made her distinct from the others.
Korsha gave them a slight bow, and then gestured towards the temple ruins. As they all sat down, he began speaking again.
“I apologize for leaving so abruptly yesterday, but as you could see, empath-reading can be quite exhausting. It is why Gelsha was unable to do the reading. Her system would have been unable to withstand such a strain upon it.”
“So ... what are you ... exactly?” Jack asked curiously.
Daniel glared at him.
“He means who are you? What is your race called? Your ... group. For example, those like us are called humans.”
“We are Filgruns.” Korsha gestured to the Filgruns behind him. “These are my cresha, family. Gelsha is my mother and the head of our cresha. She is also the leader of our magna-cresha, our larger family ... similar to your General Hammond and the ... SGC.”
Jack froze. Learning the language was one thing, but mindreading was something else entirely. His tone accusing, he pointedly asked, “Just how much did you learn from Daniel? How much do you know about the SGC?”
“I only accessed that which I needed to understand your language. Do not worry. We do not invade minds; we only seek to learn. In the process, scattered names, places, and memories may be passed on.”
Jack looked skeptical, but he had no choice but to believe the creatures. Then, Korsha spoke again.
“I promise you. You have no need to be concerned.”
Jack nodded as he looked at his lover and shrugged lightly.
“Do the other Filgruns speak English now, too?” Daniel asked.
Daniel wondered if they all learned through the empath process of just one of their species. It seemed unlikely given that it was such a strain on their bodies. Or maybe that was just empath reading between different species. It seemed that Korsha had guessed what he was thinking.
“No. Empath-reading is too exhausting even within our own species. It is only allowed in exceptional circumstances. Other Filgruns will be taught English, but I must teach them.”
“Why? And why did you suddenly decide to read Daniel?” Jack questioned. **Why not me?**
**Jack, you wouldn't have wanted them to read you. They probably sensed that.**
“Daniel wanted it. He wished for us to be able to communicate, as did you, Jack, but the desire within him was strongest.”
“Okay,” Jack was on guard, “but if it's so taxing for you. You did ... faint ... why do it at all?”
“We believe you may be able to help us.”
“How?” Daniel asked.
“Our world is shifting, and we do not understand why.”
“Shifting? How do you mean?” Daniel asked.
“The stars,” Jack volunteered, causing Daniel to look up at him.
“That is correct, Jack.” Korsha sounded impressed by Jack's observation. “Our world has been constant from the beginning, but now, we have moved closer to the lights in the sky, and there are more of them. We do not understand this change, and we fear it might be dangerous to us.”
Jack and Daniel looked at each other, and in unison, both said, “We need Sam.” Then, they smiled.
“Sam? Samantha Carter. She helps you with your ... game, as you call it.”
Daniel nodded a sad affirmation and explained, “She's a good friend, and she's an astrophysicist. She'd be able to understand what was happening, or what it could mean.”
“But she is lost to you.”
“Unless we can get the Stargate to work.”
“You ... wouldn't know how to fix the Stargate, would ya?” Jack asked with a smirk.
“The device you call the Stargate is foreign to us. Filgruns do not venture that far north.”
“That makes sense, Jack. There wasn't any sign of life there, or fruit, remember?” Jack nodded. “Korsha, have you had other visitors to Xanadu?”
The creature laughed. “We like that name. We call our world Filgra, but I think we might change it. Xanadu sounds exciting. Gelsha agrees. She is going to bring it up with the Grand Council.”
“The leaders of each magna-cresha meet. It happens only once or twice a season. They discuss important matters and concerns among all the creshas.”
“Congress,” Jack smirked.
Korsha laughed, his fur whipping about from the movement.
“No. Our Grand Council actually works together. We do not have ... politicians.”
“No Kinseys? Lucky devils.”
Jack was beginning to like Korsha. Of course, he hadn't touched Daniel yet today.
“Korsha,” Daniel asked, “Do you know what the wall says?”
“In part, yes, but what it means, no. I can tell you symbols that are significant to the Filgruns, but there are things I do not recognize.”
“Maybe it has to do with the Stargate. Korsha, will you help me? It may be our only way to get home.”
“Home is important.”
Daniel looked at Jack.
“He's my home, but we have friends ... family, and we're in the middle of something that ... well, it's important. The truth is, if Jack and I end up here forever, we'll be together and ... we'll be okay. Better than okay actually, but if we can, we'd like to go home, finish our responsibilities there.”
“Korsha,” Jack walked forward and knelt down. “Look, Daniel can translate that wall, and maybe, if we're lucky, we can figure out how to work the Stargate from here, but neither one of us has the knowledge to help you little guys, but I promise you, if we get home, we'll set Carter on your problem. We'll come back; help you, however we can, if needed.”
“Honor and respect is important to you, Jack.”
“Yes, it is.”
“We would help you anyway.”
“That's good to know,” Jack said, “but we'll try and help you, too.”
“See,” Daniel said with a smile. “He's not so bad.”
“Just as long as we don't touch you, Daniel. Jack doesn't like that.”
“What? I didn't say anything!”
“Well, you must have thought it.”
“Definitely cresha,” Korsha said as he laughed.
“Definitely,” Jack said as he leaned over for a kiss. “He's all mine, and I'm all his.”
“Definitely,” Daniel echoed.
“By the way, have you heard of the Goa'uld?” Jack managed to tear his eyes from the delightfully flushed face of his lover to look at Korsha.
“No. I am pleased to say we have never met a snakehead,” the Filgrun replied.
“Glad to see you've got the terminology right.”
“Don't look at me. They ... mind-melded with you, not me.”
“Oh gawd. That's right.”
Jack smiled at his retort.
“Don't worry, Love. It just means that somewhere inside you is ... me!” Jack said smugly.
“Someone help me.”
The two laughed for a moment before continuing their discussion with their new friends.
“Is there anyone else, any other species on this planet that you interact with?”
Korsha shook his head.
“Come, Daniel. Let us begin our translation of the wall.”
“Um, sure. Jack, if you want, you could go and do some fishing while Korsha and I work.”
“Yes Jack, I promise I will keep my paws to myself.”
“JACK!” Daniel glared at Jack who looked taken aback.
“It's not fair, Danny. He read my thoughts.”
“We read emotions rather than thoughts, Jack. Your emotions regarding Daniel are very easy to read, and as you just reminded us, I linked with Daniel, not with you. For you, we need only ... to look.”
Jack could have sworn Korsha was smirking at him. He glared at the critter who broke into delighted laughter.
“You're enjoying this, aren't you?” Jack challenged the happy-looking animal.
“You are very enjoyable, Jack. Tell me. What is a Konkey?”
Jack glared at the Filgrun as he tried to figure out if Korsha was teasing him. All that fur made it very hard to read facial expressions.
“I think I'll go fishing.”
Jack turned to Daniel who kissed him soundly.
“I promise, Jack. I won't forget we're on an alien planet, and I will be careful. I won't touch anything strange or weird. I won't run off trying to save any alien princesses.” He saw Jack bristle a bit at the tease, but then Daniel caressed Jack's cheek. “And remember that I love you.”
“Love you, too, Danny.” Jack turned to Korsha. “Goodbye, little Konkey.”
Jack left the temple sniggering at Daniel's attempts to explain to Korsha why he had just been called a Konkey.
Daniel stared at the wall that was slowly beginning to make sense. He turned to Korsha.
“Korsha, have you heard of a race called the Furlings?”
The Filgrun shook his head.
“Are they mentioned?”
“I'm not sure. There are a couple of obscure references here that ... I'm not sure.” Daniel considered the representations on the wall. “What do you know of your people's, ah, species' history, Korsha?”
“Very little. Others know more than I.”
“Gelsha? Would she know?”
“She might. The Grand Council would know. Why? Is this important?”
“It's just ... the Furlings are one of four great races that are, well, sort of linked together. Good people, but we've never met them.”
“Um, yes. There's the Asgard. They are friends of ours, especially one of their leaders named Thor. Then there are the Ancients. They're actually the ones that built the Stargate.”
“The one here on ... Xanadu?”
Daniel smiled at the use of the name he and Jack had given to the planet.
“All the Stargates. There are thousands of them, all over the galaxy, maybe thousands of galaxies. I don't know how far it extends.”
“I see. And the fourth race?”
“The Nox. They are friends, too.”
“The Nox?” Korsha tilted his head. “I have a memory of that name in our history.”
“Well, then ... if you know the Nox, you might know the Furlings.”
“It is possible, but the Grand Council would have to be consulted.”
“Korsha, do you have any kind of ... power source?”
“Power? Like your electricity?” Daniel nodded. “No, there is nothing like that here. It is not needed.”
“Oh.” Daniel sighed.
“You are disappointed?”
“It's just. The Stargate. To dial out, to go home, there is a device that ... well, it turns it on. The device on Xanadu was destroyed, but if we had another power source, we might be able to turn it on.”
“I am sorry. We have nothing like that.”
“That's okay. Maybe there's another way.” Daniel traced his fingers along the etchings on the wall. “I don't understand this. What is this symbol?”
Korsha looked at it.
“I do not know. The one next to it means fight. Not as in a war, but a smaller ... battle, perhaps, would be the word. The one before it means fear.”
“So ... they were afraid of something, and then there was a battle?”
“Or maybe the battle was fear?”
Daniel looked at the small creature.
“You mean, not a literal battle, but maybe an internal one?”
“We all have battles to win within ourselves. These symbols together at the front of this block mean a Filgrun's honor and way of life.”
“So ... if this is about the Filgrun, and what's important, it could be their ... path ... path to what?”
“To happiness, to being a good Filgrun.”
“I wonder what the purpose of this would be then? If this wall isn't a history ... exactly ... maybe it's a ... a tool for ...”
Daniel sighed. There were still too many unanswered questions.
“You are unable to decipher the meanings?” Korsha asked sadly.
“No. I ... I don't know. I think I can, but it's going to take a while. Do you think that Gelsha and the rest of the Grand Council would agree to meet with me? It would really help if I could learn more about your history.”
“I will ask. I am unsure if the Grand Council will agree to meet, but they do want your help so ...” The Filgrun looked thoughtful. “I will ask.” He stood and patted Daniel on the shoulder. “I shall go and speak to Gelsha immediately. If the Council can meet this afternoon, perhaps tomorrow they may come with me.”
Just as Korsha turned to leave, Daniel remembered the gift of feathers they'd discovered that morning. Before he could ask about it the Filgrun spoke.
“It was nothing, Daniel. We hope they do not trigger your allergies.”
“I'll be fine, Korsha. It was very thoughtful, thank you.” Korsha grinned and with a wave scurried away. Daniel watched him leave. ~They sure do move fast.~ Shaking his head he returned to his study of the wall.
Down at the river, Jack eyed his catch triumphantly. He'd caught two lovely looking fish and was looking forward to sharing them with Daniel. He made his way back to their camp to drop off the fish and then continued on to the temple.
~Wonder how Danny and Korsha are getting on? That critter better be keeping his paws to himself. Crap, I hope he didn't hear that. How much distance does this empath thing work over, anyway?~
In the distance, Jack could see Daniel sitting in front of the temple wall, concentrating on the images before him. There was no sign of Korsha so Jack decided to surprise his lover, to see just how alert Daniel was to his surroundings.
**Very, Jack, so don't even try it.**
**You weren't supposed to hear that, Danny.**
**Well you shouldn't think so loud then.**
Daniel turned and grinned at his lover as Jack entered the ruins. Jack leaned over and after a long kiss, he sat down beside the younger man and glanced at the wall.
“So, where's the little Konkey, and whatcha' found out here?”
“Don't call them konkeys, Jack. It's rude. They're Filgruns, and Korsha has gone to see if the Grand Council will meet with me tomorrow.” Jack noticed the gleam of excitement in Daniel's eyes. “Jack, I think the Filgruns might have some connection to the Furlings or maybe one of the other four races.”
“That's nice, but how does it help us?”
Daniel sighed. He was enthusiastic about the discovery, but in the end, there hadn't been anything that he could deem as being helpful in their quest to get back to Earth.
“It doesn't, but it is exciting.”
He leaned his head over against Jack's shoulder, and immediately, Jack put his arm around his waist.
“A little. Jack, they don't have any kind of power source. I just ... the wall might tell us all about the Filgruns, and ... we might learn a lot, but without a power source to start the Stargate, we won't get home. My fish are probably dead.”
“Our fish, and I have faith in Carter. I'm sure she's feeding them. Speaking of fish, I caught us dinner. Let's go eat it.”
Daniel nodded, and the two lovers returned to their camp.
“Major Carter, come in.”
“You wanted to see me, Sir.”
“Yes, Major. It's been over a month. The Pentagon thinks it's time we proceeded in clearing out Colonel O'Neill's house and Doctor Jackson's apartment.”
“But, Sir, I'm still working on ideas.”
Sam nodded. The general had given her permission to carry on with a private investigation. She and Teal'c had been allowed to explore any ideas and possibilities they could come up with, but they had to take a back seat to other duties.
“I know, General, but this feels like they've really given up.”
“They are being listed officially as missing in action. I thought under the circumstances that you and Teal'c might wish to be the ones to clear the residences.”
“Sir ... um, actually, both the colonel and Daniel have, uh, well ... Sir, I've been to their homes. You know, feeding Daniel's fish, mowing the lawn ...”
The general smiled, not the least bit surprised. His flagship team was very close.
“I'd like to keep it up, Sir. I truly believe we can get them home. They ... both Colonel O'Neill and Daniel love their home...sss, and ... well, General, can't we ...”
“Very well, Major. I'll make a notation that the residences have been properly cleared and are being supervised by you personally. Until there is a change in the status of Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson, the security of the premises are your responsibility. Is that understood?”
“Thank you, General.” Sam started to leave, but then she turned around. “Sir, my father indicated last week that a Tok'ra operative would be returning soon from a mission. He mentioned that this particular operative had once experienced something unusual during a wormhole event. Request permission for Teal'c and I to go to PX9-221 to meet with the operative.”
“You're sure he'll be there?”
“I'm not sure. My father said the operative had to go to PX9-221 to meet with some other Tok'ra before heading out on his next assignment. We only have a twenty-four hour window to make contact with him, General.”
“Very well. I'll excuse you and Teal'c from other obligations for one day. Dismissed.”
As they lay in their homestead on Xanadu that evening, looking out at the stars, Daniel looked up at Jack.
“These feathers are so much more comfortable than the ground.”
“I'll say. Not quite as good as a mattress, but they'll do.”
They lay looking up at the stars for a while. Then Daniel spoke softly, “I miss them, Jack. Sam, Teal'c, Janet, Cassie, General Hammond; but I'd still rather be here with you than back on Earth with them.”
“Same here,” Jack smiled at his lover, “I want to get back to Earth, Danny, and somehow I think we will, but as long as you're here, I'm happy.”
Gentle kisses turned into gentle lovemaking, then fully sated and at peace, they slipped into a restful sleep.
Jack woke the next morning to see a furry face peeking at them as they lay curled up together.
“Korsha, don't do that!”
Jack bolted to an upright position, disconcerted that the little Filgrun had been able to sneak up on them without waking him.
“There is nothing to fear here, Jack.”
The Special Ops colonel glared at the small animal, barking, “And stop reading my mind. It's very annoying!”
**Don't be rude, Jack.**
“It is all right, Daniel. I understand Jack is really a ... marshmallow.”
Speechless, Jack stared at the Filgrun. He heard a snort of laughter coming from beside him.
“This is your fault, Daniel. You told them that.”
“What is a marshmallow?” Korsha asked as he looked at Jack innocently.
Jack glared at the furry critter, certain he was being mocked. Irritated, he stated, “I don't think these guys are related to the Furlings, Daniel. They seem much more likely to be relatives of Teal'c.”
Still laughing, Daniel sat up, and after kissing Jack good morning, leaned his head on the older man's shoulder. He yawned, and then rubbed the sleep from his eyes. Finally, he asked, “Do you have news about the Grand Council, Korsha?”
“They have agreed to meet with you by the temple at midday. They request that you leave your weapons,” Korsha gestured to the P-90, “here.”
**I don't know, Danny.**
**We haven't seen anything to indicate a threat might exist here. I think we should do it.**
**I guess. Okay, let's do it.**
Korsha spoke up, speaking confidently, “I promise you will be safe.”
“Okay, we'll be there.”
“Thank you, Korsha,” Daniel said sincerely.
Seconds later, the critter was gone.
“You know, Danny, it seems like they can read our minds.”
“No, Korsha explained it.”
“Well, he certainly got a lot of information from his contact with you.”
“Marshmallow,” Daniel said softly as he paced their camp.
Jack noticed the back and forth pacing of his lover with a bit of concern. Daniel's arms were crossed as he walked, and his head was down. His face was crinkled, deep in thought. Usually, when his lover paced in this manner, it meant something was bothering him, or he was trying to work out a puzzle that often meant things weren't going well.
“Danny, what are you thinking?”
“I don't know. Nothing.”
Jack snorted, “Danny, you never think about nothing. It's impossible to think about nothing, so what nothing are you thinking about?”
Daniel had to chuckle at Jack's words.
“I don't know, Jack. It's just ... a feeling.”
“About what?” Jack was becoming worried. He approached Daniel. “You think the Filgruns aren't what they seem?”
“No. Yes. No. I just ... I like them.”
“Me, too, but ...?”
Jack's facial expression urged Daniel on. The young man sighed in response.
“Didn't Korsha say the Grand Council only met once a season?”
Jack thought back.
“Once or twice. You're right.”
“And yet in less than a day they've agreed to meet with us.”
“Okay. I'm starting not to like this thing about leaving the P-90.”
“We don't have a choice, Jack. They're our only hope of getting back to Earth.”
“Jack, I'm just ... being paranoid. Too many alien planets.”
“Daniel, this is an alien planet.”
Daniel smiled. He moved two steps to be in Jack's personal space. He sighed contently as he placed a kiss on his lover's right cheek, then another on his chin, and one more on his lips.
“No, Love. This is Xanadu. Home.”
“Love you, Angel.”
“Love you, too, my Silver Fox.”
Jack kissed Daniel once more then reluctantly moved away from his lover.
“We'd better go. At least we can try and get there early, scope the place out a little.”
Daniel nodded and then saw Jack pick up his knife.
“Jack, I think they meant we shouldn't bring any weapons with us.”
Jack shook his head.
“They said not to bring the P-90 or your Beretta, and we're not, but no way in Netu am I heading out there without something to protect us. Don't ask me to, Danny.”
“I won't. They didn't mention knives. I wish we had a zat.”
“Tell me about it.” Jack grinned and beckoned Daniel over. “Come on, Toto. Lets go face our furry flea-bag friends slash enemies.”
“Jack, I think they probably are our friends. We just don't know if they're Tok'ra-type friends who have their own agenda and don't much care about anyone else or whether they're Nox/Asgard-type friends who actually care and want to help us if they can without endangering us.”
Daniel sighed from the confusion, as did Jack.
“Okay, but I'm hoping for the Nox/Asgard option, myself.”
“Me too. Come on, once more into the breach, dear friends, once more!”
Jack laughed at the zaniness of his lover who was always full of surprises, and he liked it that way. Hand in hand, they headed off for the temple.
When the meeting place came within sight, Jack and Daniel stayed concealed for a moment.
**Jack, how do we stay hidden if they're empaths? They'll pick us up.**
**Crap.** Jack was really beginning to hate this ability of the Filgruns.
“Okay, there's no sign of them anyway, so we might as well move in.” **Wait, Danny, being an empath doesn't mean they know our minds. Even Korsha said that. They can sense ... feelings, but that doesn't mean they know our actions or thoughts. They have to touch us for that.**
**You're right, Jack. Everything they know, they got from that one mind-meld with me, and then they've just ... extrapolated.**
**Let's keep that in mind. Pay closer attention to what they say.**
**And make sure we're not injecting ourselves into their knowledge. I mean, maybe we're making assumptions on just how much they know.**
Jack nodded as they moved forward. By the time they reached the temple, the Filgruns had arrived. The lovers noted the creatures were all older looking animals with similar white fur around their eyes and noses that Gelsha had.
Daniel counted over thirty Filgruns before Korsha greeted him.
“This is the Grand Council,” Korsha said before moving away.
Daniel looked out at the Filgrun. Eight of them had walked to within six feet of Jack and Daniel, and then had sat down. In exact columns, three others had sat behind each of the eight. To the side, stood Korsha and Swarsha. Four others stood several feet behind the group.
“Um, hello,” Daniel said with a small smile.
“The Grand Council has agreed to meet with you. I am Gelsha,” the creature said with a formality in her voice, standing to face the alien visitors. “I invite you to meet the others.”
**Danny, she's speaking English.**
**I guess Korsha taught her.**
**That was quick.**
**He learned it quick, Jack.**
“There sits Milsha. There sits Yilso. There sits Lostia.” Gelsha had pointed to the three Filgrun that were on her left. Then she turned towards the those on her right. “This is Jessia. And there sits Yzadro. There sits Daysha. And our eldest, there sits Lya.”
“Lya?” Jack and Daniel said at the same time, causing everyone to look at them.
“Her name is Lya, and she is the eldest of the Filgrun?” Daniel asked excitedly. Gelsha nodded. “Um, that's a great name. Where'd it come from?”
“It is the name given to her by her cresha.”
“Yes, but ... I mean, when?”
“Many times past.”
Daniel wasn't getting anywhere, and he was beginning to feel frustrated.
Lya began chattering away in the Filgrun's native language, and Korsha made his way over to her. He listened to her speak for a moment and then looked up at Jack and Daniel.
“Lya senses your frustration, Daniel. She says you are a very young race and have not yet learned the patience of the Filgruns.”
“Oh, please! Not another round of 'you're too young',” Jack muttered under his breath.
Lya spoke to Korsha again.
“Lya apologizes, Jack. She did not mean to offend you.”
“We're not offended, Lya.” Daniel spoke quickly. “We just get tired of hearing how young a race we are, especially when we have been managing to hold our own against the Goa'uld and even the Replicators when necessary.”
Daniel sensed Jack was about to make another sarcastic comment and nudged him with his elbow.
**Try and be nice, Jack.**
**Fine. But I really hate that condescending, patronizing, holier ...**
Lya spoke again.
“To answer your original question, Daniel,” Korsha interpreted, “Lya is unsure of the origins of her name. All she knows is that it has been passed down through her family for generations. She does not know when it was first used. It may have been as far back as the ... vastus peregrinatus.”
Jack noticed the astonishment on Daniel's face.
“What?” he asked his lover.
“I'm not sure. Korsha, is 'vastus peregrinatus' an interpretation using language you learned from me or is it in its original form?”
Korsha looked at Daniel with excitement.
“You know what it means? Sorry, that is its original form.”
Daniel noticed that all the Filgruns seemed to be looking at him with excitement. So did Jack, and he moved a little closer to his soulmate. The almost indulgent looks the Filgruns gave him as he did made him all the more annoyed. He could just see them saying 'Oh, how cute.'
“So, Daniel, what does it mean?”
“Don't you recognize the words, Jack? They're a variation of Latin.”
Jack struggled to recall the words that did sound vaguely familiar, but couldn't put a meaning to them.
“I think it means vast or great journey. Jack, the Filgruns might have some connection to the Nox. After all, where did the Latin come from if not from one of those races?”
Daniel's eyes were alight with excitement, and Jack couldn't help but be happy that his lover was feeling good about the new-found knowledge, even if he himself was still clueless. Nevertheless, he loved seeing Daniel like this, passionate and full of zest.
“And this means what exactly?”
“Jack, it means the Filgruns could be some kind of ... relatives or something to the Nox, or the Furlings.”
“That's nice, Danny, but how does that help us?”
Daniel stopped smiling. He felt guilty for being so involved in something that didn't appear to be helping them. Almost apologetically, he answered, “It doesn't, but it is exciting, isn't it?”
“Very exciting, Love,” Jack agreed compassionately.
Daniel turned back to face the Filgruns.
“We're hoping you can help us. We're from a planet called Earth, and we came through the Stargate. It's a ...”
As Daniel talked, Korsha translated. Daniel told the creatures about the Stargate, and the SGC on Earth. He explained the mission they had been on, the strange power burst, and how they had ended up on Xanadu. He added, “We need a power source to try and get home. Korsha said you didn't have any kind of electrical power, but I'm hoping you might ... have something.”
Daniel looked out on the sea of furry faces, waiting for Korsha to finish. Then he listened as discussion went back and forth among the eight members of the Grand Council. Minutes later, Lya posed a question, again translated by Korsha: “And if you don't get this Stargate to turn on, what will you do then?”
Daniel looked at his lover, then answered casually, “Then, I guess we stay here on Xanadu.”
More discussion, and finally another translation -- “We do not have this energy you seek. It is not our way.”
“I understand. Um, do you have any contact outside of yourselves? I mean, is there anyone, anything else you communicate with?”
There was more discussion before the answer came. “No.”
“No? That's it? No?” Jack challenged as he barged forward.
“No, I have a question. Daniel asked a very simple question that took Korsha only seconds to translate, but then we watched all of you discuss it for three minutes, and when you respond, it's just a one word 'no'? I want to know what's going on ... now!”
The Filgruns sat staring at Jack, looking stunned. Korsha was shifting nervously from one leg to the other and hadn't yet translated Jack's words.
“Korsha, could you please translate Jack's question.”
Despite not wanting to be rude to the small animals, Daniel was curious to know the answer to Jack's question.
There was silence for a couple of seconds, then Lya spoke up.
“There is no need to translate your words, Jack. We lied to you before about the way we learn. Adult Filgrun's learn by mindreading as Korsha did with Daniel. It is only with different species that mindreading is hard on the body, and even then, it depends on the species being probed. Daniel had much information so for Korsha it was exhausting.”
“Why did you lie to us?”
Daniel's words were soft but clear, and his disappointment in the Filgruns was tangible. Jack placed his arm around Daniel's waist and glared at the furry creatures in front of them. Lya and Korsha had the grace to look ashamed.
“We apologize, Daniel. We were unaware of the dangers that lie beyond our world. When Korsha told us of all he had learned from you, we decided that we should conceal from you the true extent of our abilities for our own protection. That is also why we will not help you to open the Stargate.”
Lya spoke primarily to the archaeologist although she kept shooting nervous glances at Jack, who glared at her in return.
“Try again, Konkey. You aren't reading our minds. If Korsha had read Daniel's mind, then he would know that we are no threat to you. He would also know that Daniel is an extraordinary human being who you have just hurt, and that is unforgivable. Come on, Daniel, we don't need their help. We'll figure out how to open the Stargate on our own.”
**Jack, they didn't mean to hurt our feelings.**
**Perhaps not. But they have, haven't they?** Daniel nodded. “Let's go, Danny.”
Sadly, Daniel looked at the Filgruns.
“I understand why you have chosen to take this path, but I think you are making a mistake. The changes you have noticed in your planets' alignment might well lead to the destruction of your race; and even if the Stargate is never opened from here, you know that the Goa'uld or the Replicators could still fly themselves here. Isolation is no defense.”
**Nice speech, Danny.**
**It's just the truth, Jack.**
Holding hands, the two men walked back to their camp. It was a quiet walk, and when they returned, they didn't talk much. Jack was willing to give his lover time to process the discouraging event they'd just experienced.
As the sun set, Daniel stood by the stream. He was barefoot, kicking his feet into the water lightly. His arms were folded tightly across his chest.
~Okay, enough time.~ Jack made his way to Daniel and put his arms around the young man's waist. “I'm sorry, Danny.”
“Not your fault.”
“I know, but I'm still sorry.”
“They're just scared.”
“Maybe, but they lied to us. They still lied, right up until the end.”
“The mindreading thing?”
“Yeah. You know that wasn't the truth.”
Daniel put his hands atop Jack's and leaned his head back on his lover's shoulder.
“Jack, you know why I'm so sad?”
“It's just ... they were fun, you know? I love being here with you, but ...”
“A distraction? Something to spice it up just a little more?”
Jack gave Daniel's shoulder an affectionate nudge as he spoke.
“You do understand?”
Daniel smiled, happy his lover didn't misinterpret his feelings.
“Sure, I do. It's like fishing for me. You can still work on translating that wall, if you want.”
“Why? Not much of a point there.”
Jack turned his lover around.
“Hey, since when do you ever give up on something?”
“Since now. Jack, let's just be us for a while again, and not worry about ... the changing sky, or Goa'uld threats, or ... or ...”
“Konkeys?” Daniel nodded. “Okay. Let's go on vacation,” Jack suggested.
“Sure. Let's explore some more of the planet. Maybe there are others here, or other types of food. Or ... just something else to look at for a while. What do you say?”
“Okay. Tomorrow. I have plans for tonight.”
“Hmm-mmm,” Daniel hand slid down Jack's front.
“Those are my kind of plans,” Jack said before succumbing to the whims of his lover.
They next day they left their camp early and headed off down the river. They were hoping that if they followed it far enough it would lead them to an ocean. By lunchtime, the scenery had changed from forest to shrubbery, allowing them to see further into the distance. They hadn't seen any signs of civilization, but they had noticed the appearance of birds that looked a little like seagulls, except that they were blue.
As they sat down to eat their lunch of fruit, Daniel pointed to the circling birds.
“Do you think that means we're getting close to an ocean?”
Jack gave him a wry grin.
“Yes and no. I think if we keep following the river, we'll reach the ocean, but I'm not sure how close to it we are. I don't know how far from it these birds fly.”
Hoisting his backpack onto his shoulders, Daniel held out his hand to help his lover up.
“Then let's go. I want to swim in the ocean.”
They headed off again just enjoying being with each other in the peace and quiet.
“Jack, am I imagining things or is that a patch of blue ahead?”
Jack squinted into the sunlight, and then grinned as he answered, “Danny, my boy, I think we have found our prize.”
Half an hour later, they were standing on soft yellow sand. Jack grinned at the expression on Daniel's face. The archaeologist had taken off his shoes and socks and was relishing the feel of the soft grains beneath his feet.
“Almost as good as coffee, Danny?”
Daniel laughed. “Almost, Jack, almost.” He leered at his lover. “How about that swim?”
In no time at all, they had stripped and were racing down to the waters edge, stopping just before they stepped into it. The water was clear as crystal and a lovely deep blue.
“Looks like Paradise,” Daniel said as he drank in the beauty of it.
“Looks safe enough, too,” Jack decided.
He knew that it was impossible to detect all potential hazards just by looking at the water, but he and Daniel were both strong swimmers, and going by Earth standards, most sea creatures were more likely to flee than attack. All in all, the enjoyment they'd get from frolicking in the water offset the risks.
Grinning at each other, the two men plunged in. They were pleased to discover that it was pleasantly warm, and for an hour they chased each other through the salty water.
Grabbing Daniel around his waist, Jack let out a triumphant whoop, “I've caught a Danny fish.”
Daniel wriggled around in Jack's grasp, and as their bodies brushed together, their play turned into passion. After making love in the shallows of the water, they emerged and flopped down onto the warm sand, their hands entwined.
“I suppose we should work out where we're going to sleep tonight,” Daniel muttered as he closed his eyes to bask in the sun.
“Mmm-mmm. How about right here?”
Jack was feeling content and didn't really see a reason for them to move. The sand was soft, and they had brought along some eggplant pads to use as a blanket. Basically, they had everything they needed. They'd realized early on that the sun on this planet didn't seem to burn or give them a tan. They'd never run across anything like it before, but it was nice not to have to worry sunburns or skin cancers.
Daniel shifted over so that his head was on Jack's shoulder, the older man's arms wrapped around him.
“Here works for me. We'll have a great view of the stars.”
“Danny, what do you miss most ... and I don't mean Carter and all that mush, but ... what crazy delicacy do you miss?”
“Hmm. Chinese, no, chocolate. Wait, Arabian Mocha Starbuck's or ... all of it,” Daniel said with a laugh. “You don't have to tell me what you miss.”
“Froot Loops,” both said at the same time.
“Pizza with all the works,” Jack added.
“Beer,” they again spoke in unison.
“Okay, Jack. Forget food, sports, and The Simpsons. Seriously, what do you miss?”
Jack thought as his right hand caressed back and forth with Daniel's. His mind raced through the things of daily life so often taken for granted. He considered everything from flowers to his telescope to flying a jet. Then he felt Daniel kissing his cheek.
“Jack, what do you miss?” Daniel asked again.
The older man smiled, brushed his lips against those of his lover's, and answered truthfully, “Nothing. Everything I care about is right here, and I just don't miss anything because I have you.”
“It's the truth.”
“You know something?”
“You feel the same way.”
“Actually, I miss my computer, the artifact I brought back from PR2-883, the photo of me on the camel in Egypt, the ...”
“Why you ...”
Daniel scooted from Jack's embrace, and the older man gave chase, the two laughing their way all along the sandy shore until Daniel decided to let Jack tackle him, igniting yet another round of passion.
“Good spot for a vacation.”
“Very good spot,” Daniel agreed as they kissed.
“We did great!” Jack said, admiring their handiwork.
“It's first class, that's for sure,” Daniel said, also appreciating their creation.
“Daniel, this is the best sand castle ever built.”
“I'm not sure about that.”
“Okay, best sand castle ever built on Xanadu,” Jack said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Okay, that I buy.”
The two had taken a nap, enjoyed a seaside dinner, and then made a huge sand castle. After a quick walk, they settled under their patch blanket and stared up at the stars.
“They're closer, Jack, and there's more of them, even since last night.”
“Maybe it's because of our location.”
“You're the expert.”
“Not on Xanadu,” Jack responded, and then decided to steer clear of anything serious. “Time to name some more constellations.”
“I think that one is Piglet.”
Jack looked at Daniel incredulously.
“Piglet, as in Winnie the Pooh?”
“Look at the little ears. It looks like Piglet.”
Jack laughed and then agreed, “You're right. Beneath Piglet is Air Force One.”
“It does look like a plane.”
The lovers spent the night stargazing, enjoying the feel of being together, in each other's arms.
They rose early, starting the new day with a morning swim, followed by a round of lovemaking, after which another swim was deemed necessary.
“Here you go, Love.” Jack handed his lover some fruit for breakfast. “So what are our plans for the day?”
“Hmmm. Let's explore the beach.”
“I thought we did that last night ... and this morning.”
“Jaaaack.” Daniel blushed. “I meant follow the shoreline, see if it changes at all.” Daniel gave Jack a grin. “If you're good, we can go fishing later, too.”
“If I'm good ... IF? I didn't hear any complaints last ...”
“You're good, Babe,” Daniel said leaning over their food to give his lover a peck on the lips. “The best, even.”
“Anyway, there must be something we can use as a fishing rod.”
Jack looked around as he offered, “Maybe some vine or driftwood, but I'm not sure what we could use as bait.”
“There might be worms on this planet. Even though we haven't seen any, we haven't looked for them either.”
Jack leaned over to kiss his lover, the words “My genius” escaping from his throat in whisper as their lips met.
After finishing breakfast, they refilled their canteens with river water that they'd boiled the previous night and headed off along the beach. At some points, the strip of sand was quite narrow, and there was only enough room between the ocean and the forest or cliff faces to walk single file. Then they came across some enormous sand dunes.
At the sight of the massive mounds of sand, Daniel's face lit up.
“Race you to the top.”
He shot off for the pile of sand closest to them, closely followed by Jack. They were evenly matched running along the flat sand, but when it came to climbing up the dune, Daniel set off at an angle. Jack tried to go almost directly up.
Daniel reached the top and walked victoriously along the ridge of the dune to meet Jack.
“Whoopee? Daniel, I've never in my life heard you say anything close to 'whoopee' before.”
Daniel laughed, “Well, I've never been stranded on a planet before with my lover, either, and then once on that planet, taken a vacation, found some sand dunes, and raced said lover up them, beating him handily, I might add. Whoopee just seemed the thing to say.”
Jack's soul was soaring as he watched the younger man. There was something different about Daniel on Xanadu. He laughed, then asked, “Having fun, Angel?”
Daniel's eyes shined as he leaned forward to kiss his partner.
“With you, life is always fun. It's weird, Jack, but ... here on Xanadu, there's no one to judge us. There's no past to haunt us. There's just ... us.”
“I love you, Angel.”
“I love you, too, Jack, so freakin' much.”
Daniel took Jack's hand and walked a foot or two towards the middle of the sand dune. They sat down facing the ocean and for a moment, they just took in the beauty of their surroundings, their fingers laced in each others, gently palming the other with soft touches and caresses. Then Daniel looked at Jack from under his eyelashes.
“Ever ... you know ... on top of a sand dune, Jack?”
“I'm always ... up ... for new experiences.”
They didn't have many clothes on, and in seconds, they were kissing, thrusting against each other in the throes of passion.
After making love on top of the sand dune, they found themselves in need of a swim, each covered in the essence of the other with sand beginning to stick to them. After a quick dip that almost turned into another love fest, they made their way into the forest. Ahead of them there were some rocks jutting out into the ocean, and Jack thought it might be a good spot to try some fishing.
“I'll look for something to use as a fishing line. You can look for the worms, Jack.”
“Thanks, Danny,” Jack said dryly.
Daniel just grinned as Jack bent down to dig for worms. The older man watched his lover as he started to walk away.
“Don't go too far,” Jack warned.
“I won't, Mom.” Daniel laughed as he headed further into the forest, Jack shaking his head in frustration.
“All these gray hairs, Danny, are all because of you, every last one.” ~And I wouldn't change you.~
Several minutes later, Daniel returned with a long stick.
“Jack, I found this thin branch. It looks sturdy enough for a pole.”
Jack stood and examined it carefully.
“I'll make a fisherman out of you, yet, Dannyboy.”
“Don't count on it, Jack. I'm fine just being the bait.” Daniel's smile was broad, causing Jack to chuckle. “Any luck with the worms?”
Jack pointed to a deep hole he had dug into the sand.
“I don't know what these are exactly, but they look kinda like worms.”
Daniel looked down at the red and green striped life forms. They were thin and slimy like worms.
“Close enough, I guess.”
“Let's test it out. There's some string in my pack. Would you get it for me, Love?”
“Sure,” Daniel said, as he moved towards the pack.
Minutes later, Jack had his pole rigged and the bait on the line. He settled down into a spot, Daniel at his side. Not long after that, Jack had caught their dinner.
“That was a tasty fish,” Daniel said after their meal.
“Best fish I ever ate,” Jack added
“Feels colder tonight.”
“Maybe the weather is finally changing.”
“Could be,” Daniel said as he snuggled next to his lover.
Jack started to respond except he felt his lover's breathing change.
~I guess you're tired. That's okay. I am, too.~
The lovers fell asleep under the increasing volume of stars filling the Xanadu night sky.
“What would you like to do today, Love?” Jack asked as he threw the pips from his breakfast fruit away. Daniel grinned wickedly and leered at Jack. The older man laughed. He was enjoying seeing this happy, carefree side of Daniel. “I'm always up for that.”
Daniel looked pointedly at his lover's groin, his grin growing.
“So I see, but you have to catch me first, Fly Boy!”
Daniel was off and running, Jack chasing after him. After leading Jack on a merry chase for about five minutes, Daniel allowed himself to be tackled to the ground.
“This never gets old. I could chase you forever.”
“Hmmm ... and I'll always be caught,” Daniel's hands actively caressed both sides of Jack's head, his fingers running through the fine strands of Jack's silver-gray hair, “... as long as you're the one doing the chasing.”
As they made love under the clear blue sky, neither man could bring themselves to be worried about being stranded on their Xanadu. In fact, they were both beginning to wonder if being stranded was really that bad after all.
“Ow,” Daniel yelped as he rolled over to lie on his back.
“Danny? What is it? Did something bite you?”
Jack was well aware how dangerous insect bites could be for Daniel with all his allergies.
Daniel frowned and sat up so that he could brush away the sand from the spot where he'd tried to lie down.
Within minutes, he had uncovered a large stone slab. It was covered with intricate carvings. It was slightly elevated in one corner, the corner that had dug into Daniel when he tried to lie on it.
“Can you translate this?”
“I'm not sure. Maybe. It looks like a derivative of ...” Daniel brushed more of the sand away. “Jack, this is Goa'uld.”
“Goa'uld? Are you sure?”
“Oh yeah, I'm sure.”
“Well, what does it say?”
“I have no idea, but I remember seeing this when Teal'c and I were talking about the beginnings of the Goa'uld, at least as far back as their history goes that we know of. It's not straight Goa'uld, but these symbols are definitely Goa'uld in origin.”
Jack looked around, a bit concerned. For the first time on the planet, a chill ran down his spine, and Xanadu looked a little less like a paradise to him.
“I don't like this.”
“Jack, we haven't seen a trace of anything Goa'uld until this, and the Filgruns said ...”
“Daniel, I'm not sure the Filgruns should be quoted as gospel.”
Daniel shrugged, and issued a rebuttal, “I still don't think they're a bad race, Jack. They just ...”
“Some of these are familiar, but I would need my notes back at the SGC -- points of reference. So ... I guess it's pretty much just a stone.”
“Not really, and that almost scares me. I'm getting used to it here. Is that wrong?”
“It's our home now, unless we find a power source.”
Daniel nodded as he cleared away more sand. Jack looked around and then back at his lover. He believed Daniel's words, but he also saw the curiosity in his lover's face.
“Danny, why don't you play with this for awhile. Study it. I'm going to scout around, make sure there aren't any other ... surprises around here.”
Daniel smiled knowingly as she said softly, “I know what you're doing.”
“I'm checking the perimeter.”
“You're letting me ... play.”
He couldn't stop himself from laughing.
“Study. I'll be back.”
Daniel watched his soulmate go off to check the area.
**I love you, Jack O'Neill.**
From some distance away, Jack turned around and smiled.
**Love you, too, Angel.**
“So, Danny, any startling revelations on that rock?”
Jack returned from his uneventful check of the surrounding area, not that he had been expecting to find anything.
The two grinned at each other, enjoying their familiar banter. Daniel stood up and brushed the sand on his knees.
“Nope. I've used some of my precious paper supply to make some notes, but without my references back at the SGC, this is pretty useless.”
“Except you enjoyed playing with it, didn't you?”
“I wasn't playing,” but then he laughed out loud in acquiescence, “Yes, I did. Thank you, Jack.”
Jack shrugged, not believing he had done much, but Daniel knew he had. They exchanged a silent look that went deep inside their souls, to that place where words weren't needed, their love speaking for them. Finally, Daniel broke the spell.
“How about a swim?”
For the rest of the day, the two swam, built a sand pyramid, and then Jack pulled out two long sticks and something that looked like a miniature coconut. Daniel watched in amusement as his lover paced out a rectangle in the sand.
“Jack, what are you doing?”
Jack grinned and tossed one of the sticks to Daniel.
“Dannyboy, I am about to introduce you to the long lost sport of sand hockey!”
“Gawd. Jack, you know I'm hopeless at sports.”
Jack grinned, his eyes sparkling as he gazed at his soulmate.
“Excellent. The winner gets to ravish the loser.”
“I can live with that.”
Daniel laughed at the silliness. In this case, losing meant winning.
They worked out some ground rules and began to play. Daniel grinned when he realized that Jack was finding it just as difficult as he was because the sticks they were using had such a narrow point they both kept missing the coconut. Eventually, Daniel hit a lucky shot, and his stick connected with the coconut, miraculously sending it between the goal posts that were substituting for the hockey net.
“Woo hoo!” Daniel exclaimed, a large grin on his face as he tried hard not to laugh at Jack's crestfallen expression. “Don't worry, Love. I'm sure you'll get a goal soon.”
Jack looked at his lover with mock sarcasm.
“Woo hoo? First, it's 'whoopee' and now 'woo hoo'? Who are you, and what have you done with my lover?”
“He's right here,” Daniel said as he leaned over for a kiss. “Recognize that?”
“Oh, yeah. Definitely my Danny.”
~You're free here, Angel. I wonder if you realize that. This place ... somehow, it's given you something you don't have on Earth. I'm not sure I ... I don't know that I want to leave here.~
Five minutes later, Daniel was proven right, and Jack did a little victory dance, as he managed not just one, but two back-to-back goals. The game wasn't over, but Jack felt confident now.
“Prepare to be ravished, Danny.”
Jack went to retrieve the coconut, but when he turned around he dropped it, his mouth falling open. Daniel was stretching, and he was naked.
“Ah, Danny, whatcha' doing?”
“You told me to prepare for a ravishing. So, I'm ... preparing!”
Daniel laughed as Jack stood gaping at the body he desired. Daniel decided to push his lover a little further and did some more stretches, turning around so that Jack had a nice view of his rear.
“Want to be ravished now?”
Daniel smiled at the husky tone of Jack's voice.
“Well, technically, I forfeited the game, so it is your right, and you know how I feel about doing what's right.”
He turned around and before he could utter another word, Jack's mouth was covering his as their passion took over.
Later that night, as they lay looking up at the stars, Daniel snuggled further into Jack.
“This has been the best vacation, Jack.”
“That it has, Danny. I wish it could last forever.”
“But it can't, can it? There are more stars again tonight.”
“I know. I think we really need to find a way off this planet.”
The words cut through Jack. A few hours ago, he had no desire to leave. His Daniel had found a peace on Xanadu that existed nowhere else in the universe, and leaving the planet meant leaving that peace. Still, the strange occurrences in the sky gave Jack cause for concern. He remembered that even the Filgruns were worried. In the end, his gut told him they needed to leave Xanadu.
“I agree. Maybe we should take another look at the Stargate,” Daniel suggested.
“Probably a good idea. We didn't recon much to the east of it because of time, either.”
“But it was a wonderful vacation. Tell me about Gunfighter.”
Gunfighter was a collection of stars that had appeared the night before. Jack smiled and told his lover a story, modified from an old Zane Grey novel he had once read, and then the lovers fell asleep.
The next day they headed back for their camp, but they decided to try a different route over different terrain.
“Let's try one,” Jack said, taking one off the tree. “Good.”
“Gawd, I've missed apples.”
They picked a few of the red delights and continued on their way.
“Jack, could this planet, or I really mean, the planet, its sun and moons, be moving ... together?”
“The weather pattern hasn't changed very much. It's like we're constant with the sun. The only thing that's different is the number of stars and the fact that we seem to be closer to them, so ... could we be ... moving?”
“I don't know. That's Carter's gig.”
Daniel stopped, standing totally still. He looked unsure.
“Nothing. I'm just thinking too much.”
He smiled and continued walking.
~Go ahead, Angel. Think it out some more. I'm guessing there's an idea in your brain that's going to toss me for a loop. Watch it be right.~
Jack shook his head and hurried to catch up to Daniel.
They'd been back at their camp for two days, getting back into their routine of fishing and patch-collecting. They strengthened their shelter, made new clothes, and discussed trying to set up some kind of food storage system. The stranded lovers had been on Xanadu for six weeks and, while they both felt they should try and find a way off the planet, they also knew they needed to continue to plan for an unknown future there.
On their third day back from their vacation, after doing laundry, Jack and Daniel returned to the temple to try and learn more from the ruins.
Daniel was hoping Korsha and other Filgrun would appear, but looking up from his spot in front of the writings, he could see Jack, P-90 at the ready, with a scowl on his face.
“Jack, if you look like you're going to kill them, the Filgruns will never come back.”
“I am going to kill them. I'm going to pluck ...”
“I'm only kidding.”
“Right. Relax. I can't concentrate with you standing there looking like a Goa'uld is going to show up any minute.”
“Fine.” Jack briefly relaxed his stance ... until Daniel had refocused on the ruins. ~Sorry, Danny. I don't trust them anymore.~
Their days continued like this for a week, Daniel struggling to make sense out of ruins, essentially trying to teach himself with the limited knowledge he had gathered earlier, and Jack standing watch. Then, they decided to head back to the Stargate to get a fresh look at the damage.
They approached the Stargate cautiously. Even if the DHD was damaged, that didn't mean travelers couldn't still gate in.
“Geez, it's worse that I remember.”
Jack cringed as he looked at the burnt looking Stargate and DHD. He shook his head as his studied the device. Daniel walked up to the Stargate to get a closer look.
“I think the Stargate itself is fine, Jack. It should be; after all, if it can withstand a black hole, it should be able to take just about anything.”
Jack glared at the DHD.
“The Stargate might be fine, but this pile of crap isn't.” He gave it a swift kick and immediately regretted it. “Ow, ow, ow, ow.”
Daniel rolled his eyes and shook his head at his lover's antics.
“Well, really, Jack ...” He walked over to the DHD and poked at a bit of charred and broken crystal. “It is definitely kaput.”
“Okay, so we need a power source. Too bad we haven't had any lightning. That might do it. It did work before,” Jack said a bit cockily, pleased at the memory of his “saving-the-day” idea from when they were on Ernest's Planet.
Daniel ignored the smug expression, saying, “Only if we could direct it properly.”
Jack gave the destroyed DHD a final glare. He'd seen enough for now.
“Come on. Let's check out the area east of here.”
Jack held out his hand, and Daniel took it with a grin. They loved the freedom they had here.
“We're getting spoiled, Jack.”
Jack squeezed his lover's hand and shook his head.
“This is how it should always be, and someday, Danny, it's how it will be.”
“I can't even imagine it. I mean, when we're on vacations or sometimes on alien planets, it's like someone says 'okay, be yourselves. No one will hurt you. It's okay to love him, for everyone to know it'. Then, we go home, and the game starts again.”
“Someday, Danny ... someday.”
They walked quietly for a while, cherishing the opportunity to love openly. It was something so many took for granted, but not Jack and Daniel, because these times were the exception, not the norm, in their lives together.
After a while, Jack noticed that Daniel was deep in thought again, and he knew it wasn't about their relationship.
“Ready to tell me your latest theory yet, Danny?”
Daniel scrunched his nose and Jack couldn't resist kissing it. Daniel chuckled.
“You're so silly, Jack.”
“And you love it. Now tell me about your theory.”
“I haven't really got a theory, just odd thoughts. You know, like the planet might be moving.”
Conversation was limited for a while as they climbed up a rather steep hill. Jack was first to reach the top.
“Danny, you have got to see this.”
“Mountain goat,” Daniel grumbled, envious of Jack's seemingly effortless ability to climb up rocky mountain faces. “Oh, wow.”
Ahead of them lay a field of brightly colored flowers. No two flowers seemed to be the same type or color. They stood for several minutes just drinking in the spectacular sight.
“It's like 'The Wizard of Oz' just before they reach Emerald City; that same awesome feeling at seeing something so breathtaking,” Jack said almost reverently. He studied the terrain, plotting a path, then suggested, “Let's go have a closer look.”
When Daniel failed to respond, Jack turned around and felt his heart stop. Daniel was pale, and he seemed to be having trouble breathing.
“Danny?” Jack caressed his lover's cheek. “What is it? What's wrong?”
Daniel waved at the flowers and started backing away.
“Think ... allergies ... pollen ... asthma ...”
Jack immediately began helping Daniel down the hill. The younger man's breathing seemed to be getting even more labored, despite the distance that they were putting between themselves and the flower field.
Eventually, they reached the bottom, and it was clear that Daniel's breathing was becoming steadily worse.
“Danny, do you have any allergy medication left? Or any asthma meds here?”
“No. All gone. Never ... carry much now ... Janet gives me shots for the all...ergies ... now. Asthma ... Gawd. Been so ... long, Jack.”
Daniel sank to the ground, his body folding in two as he lowered his head as close to the ground as he could.
“Angel,” Jack said desperately, his hand combing through the hair at the back of his lover's head. “Any better.”
Daniel shook his head.
“No. Can't ... breathe.”
For the last few years, Daniel's allergies and occasional severe asthma attacks had been all but forgotten thanks to Janet Fraiser who had finally come up with a combination of medications that worked extremely well at curbing Daniel's reactions. He received powerful doses of shots every month that would carry him through most any situation. As a backup, he always carried the usual pills and inhalers that he had once relied on for at least a partial relief, but they had been on this planet for almost two months, and those were gone now.
“Danny ...” Jack didn't know what to do. “Daniel,” he forced his lover to look up at him, “look at me. Think about me. You and me. The ocean. Remember our sand castle?”
“Yeah. Playing in the sand. Making love. Concentrate on it. I love you. Get lost in that.”
Daniel's breaths seemed to even out a bit.
“Yes. Think about our camp, those silly eggplant patches.”
“You ... in a skirt.”
Daniel's smile was back. He closed his eyes as he realized he was better. Once again, he found himself awed at the power of his connection with Jack. He would never have believed an asthma attack could be alleviated without medication. Then he decided to place this in the same category as the telepathic communication he shared with his lover. It was simply better not to question some things.
“I'm so sorry, Angel. I forgot. You're right. We've been spoiled, in more ways than one.”
“Not your fault.”
“Won't argue. I want you to stay calm, very calm, for a while. Okay?”
Daniel nodded as he squeezed Jack just a bit tighter. He hadn't been that physically panicked in a long time.
Jack was through exploring for a while.
“Let's go back to camp.”
“No. Back to camp.”
Jack helped Daniel up, but he held him close as they walked, his arm snug around the young man's waist. Daniel's attack had weakened him slightly, and scared them both.
~I'd love to see what's beyond those flowers, but no way am I leaving Danny to find out, and there's no way we can go back there. I won't chance losing him. Too close. That was just too close.~
As soon as they got back to camp, Jack insisted that Daniel lie down for a while.
“Lay with me, Jack. Please. I need you,” Daniel said as his lover fussed over him.
Jack didn't take too much persuading; in fact, he didn't take any. What Daniel asked for, Daniel got. The archaeologist never asked for much, and Jack considered it a victory any time his lover said the words “I want” or “I need” about something personal.
Soon the two were lying in their usual positions, Daniel's head atop Jack's chest, his left leg hooked over Jack's, his left arm snaking under Jack's T shirt so that he could play with the gray chest hairs he loved so much.
Daniel felt safe, and he knew he was. He was in Jack's hold, and the older man's heart was beating steadily. Daniel got lost in the rhythm as he rested. The beat reminded him of their first dance together. It was a little awkward, but it didn't take the new lovers long to learn how to fit their bodies together in a perfect harmony on any dance floor they might be on.
The beat. Music of their hearts. The security of Jack's arms. The absolute devotion in Jack's eyes. Daniel was lost in that moment. He smiled, closing his eyes.
~My Jack. Gawd, I love him.~
A few minutes later, Daniel drifted from the beat of the dance to the beauty of the flower field.
“You should go back there, see what's behind that field. Might be something important.”
Jack sighed. He'd expected Daniel to suggest this, but he really didn't want to discuss it now. Daniel was exhausted, the asthma attack still bothering him. Jack wanted his lover to sleep and regain his strength. If they began this discussion, however, that wouldn't happen because the older man had no intention of leaving Daniel alone, especially now. His problem was that he also knew just how tenacious Daniel could be, and that meant they'd argue.
“We'll talk about it tomorrow, Danny. Try and get some sleep now. I know how exhausting those allergy and asthma attacks are for you.”
Daniel's quick agreement proved to Jack that his decision was correct. Stroking Daniel's arm and back, Jack listened as Daniel's breathing evened out, sleep finally overtaking him.
~Geez, Danny. I didn't know what I was going to do. No medicine. No doctors. It's the evil side of paradise.~
Savoring the sound of Daniel's rhythmic breathing, Jack drifted off himself.
Jack's eyelids fluttered open in confusion. He breathed deeply and a frown on his face. He wasn't sure what woke him at first. Daniel was safe and warm in his arms, and he couldn't hear any sounds from outside that suggested they were in danger. Still, Jack's internal Daniel alarm was blaring.
“Danny?” he whispered. “Are you awake?”
It was while he listened for a response that he noticed Daniel was wheezing slightly.
~Probably the after-effects of the asthma attack. I didn't notice it before though.~
He carded his fingers through Daniel's hair and let them come to rest on his carotid pulse. It felt slow, far too slow. A little concerned, Jack slid out from under Daniel and looked down at his lover. Daniel's face was pale and his breathing seemed shallow. Not wanting to wake Daniel, but needing to know that he was okay, Jack caressed the younger man's cheek.
“Danny?” There was no response so Jack tried again, louder this time. “Danny!” Trying to quash the panic that was now threatening to consume him, Jack shook Daniel's shoulder. “DANIEL!”
Little waking up noises begin to flow from Daniel's throat, his eyelids slowly flickering open. He coughed.
“Oh geez,” Jack said in gratitude.
He closed his eyes, his head collapsing onto Daniel's chest.
“Jack? What's wrong?”
“Hold me, Angel.”
Daniel put his arms around his lover, coughing again.
“You wouldn't wake up. You scared me, Danny.”
“I'm sorry,” Daniel responded softly. “You're not going back to the field, are you?”
“No. I can't leave you. I can't, Danny. Please don't ask me to.”
Daniel wanted to ask Jack to reconsider, but he could feel Jack's panic, and he knew if their situation were reversed, he wouldn't budge either. He decided not to push the issue until this asthma episode was fully behind them.
“I won't, Love.”
The lovers comforted each other, but Jack didn't sleep that night. In fact, he watched his lover like a hawk, not giving in to the sandman for another thirty-six hours when Daniel finally took Jack into his arms again and insisted he close his eyes. The young man talked reassuringly, slowly, and softly, lulling his lover into the short, but much-needed slumber.
Slowly, over the next few days, the effects of the asthma attack disappeared, and Jack and Daniel returned to their normal routine -- almost.
Daniel still believed that the answer to getting off Xanadu might be near the colorful meadow of flowers, but he knew it was too early to ask Jack to return to the field and check it out; and the reason he knew that was that every time he woke up in the middle of the night, Jack was awake, watching him, making sure he was still breathing.
~Yeah, definitely too soon. You worry about me so much. I love you for that.~
Instead, they continued to work on their shelter, play in the sun, and they made regular trips to the temple.
One day, as Daniel worked on deciphering the writings at the ruins, he made a discovery.
“Jack, look at this.”
“What is it?”
Daniel rubbed his thumb a few times against his chin as he began to speak.
“Well, this section talks about the magna-cresha, the families of Filgruns, and how the elders protect the younger. This section over here, I still can't translate much of. Korsha didn't know very many of these symbols, but I think this means 'double' or 'two'.”
“I have no idea, but whatever it is, these two things represented by these symbols are how the Filgruns came to Xanadu.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because this means first, or beginning. This is the start of their history here.”
“Maybe they came on two ships?”
“Maybe, but whatever it is, there's ...”
“Two,” both Jack and Daniel said at the same time.
For the next few days, Daniel desperately tried to work out what the 'two' referred to. He loved being on Xanadu with Jack, but he was beginning to think that getting back to Earth might be a really good idea. He hadn't said anything verbally because he didn't want to worry the older man, but his allergies seemed to be acting up again.
While he hadn't suffered any more severe attacks, Daniel felt a constant tightness in his chest and often found himself wheezing at the slightest bit of exertion.
Jack, however, was aware of Daniel's difficulties. It was why he hadn't tried to persuade Daniel to stay at their camp and rest, content instead to let the archaeologist sit in front of the temple walls for hours. The easier Daniel took things, the happier Jack was, and if he found the way home in the process, it was a double bonus in Jack's opinion.
~I wish we could stay on Xanadu, be free, enjoy the beauty, but you're pale, Danny, and yes, I hear the wheezing. We need to get away from here, or ... I don't want to think about that or.~
As he studied his lover, taking in the absolute concentration on Daniel's face as the younger man examined the writings, Jack felt such a surge of love for his soulmate that he thought he might just explode. He could so easily get lost in the paradise Xanadu had to offer, and Daniel was happy, free of the usual constraints, but then Jack saw the whiteness of Daniel's complexion and heard him wheeze. Daniel needed to get off their planet paradise soon.
“Danny, I'm just going to do a perimeter check,” he called out, grinning at the distracted wave he got in return. ~Love you, Danny.~
He set off around the temple, extending the circumference of his check. He was sure that there was no danger, but he felt like stretching his legs and with Daniel ensconced in the temple, he felt safe in doing so.
It was when he reached the area on the far side of the temple that all his tranquility left him. He was walking on the outskirts of the forest and had caught sight of bright colors lining the forest floor. He didn't need to take a closer look to see what they were.
~Friggin' flowers! These weren't here before.~
Overwhelmed with the need to check on Daniel, Jack raced back to the ruins. He didn't think he'd ever been happier to see Daniel sitting contentedly staring at hieroglyphs than he was at that moment.
“Jack?” Daniel looked up as Jack hurried to the temple and flopped down at his side, visibly out of breath from his long run. “Jack, what's wrong?”
Daniel immediately began running his eyes over Jack's lean frame, searching for possible injuries. His right hand smoothed Jack's hair from his forehead. Jack sighed, the contact soothing.
“I think I've found out why your asthma has been acting up.”
He rolled his eyes at the surprised expression on Daniel's face and reached up to caress the younger man's cheek.
“Oh, Danny, of course I noticed. I can hear the difference in your breathing.”
“I'm sorry. I know I should have told you, but there's nothing you could do, and I didn't want to worry you.”
“It's okay, but there's another lot of those friggin' flowers in the forest over there,” Jack gestured with his hand. “I'm guessing that they are far enough away to only have a mild effect.” Jack's brow was burrowed, a frown on his face. “They weren't there before, Danny. Hopefully, the blasted things won't spread beyond where I saw them.”
Daniel looked down. He sighed and decided they needed to talk.
“Jack, this planet seems to be constant in weather, but it looks like they have a flower season. If they get closer, I don't think I ... I mean ...”
“Daniel, have you learned anything else from this ruin?”
Jack wasn't ready for this discussion. Both knew the eventual outcome if they didn't find their way off of Xanadu and the flowers continued to blossom, so why talk about it?
“This history is ... old. I think it tells the story of how the Filgruns got here, and I keep seeing this symbol now.”
“The 'two' thing?”
Daniel nodded as he spoke, “Yes. It's important, whatever it ...”
Suddenly, Daniel sneezed.
“Okay, pack it up. We're out of here for today.”
“But, Jack ...”
“Daniel, let's go.”
A sneeze cut off Daniel's agreement.
Jack gathered Daniel's things for him, and then grabbed him by the hand and led him away from the area. As he looked behind him, he shuddered. Flowers had begun to grow at the edge of the temple ruins. They couldn't risk coming back.
The Air Force colonel was relieved to see their camp was still unaffected by the flowers, but he could smell the aroma of their existence surrounding them.
Daniel looked at Jack, realizing the same thing. His eyes requested one thing -- his lover's body against his.
They made love and then snuggled together, both knowing they were quickly running out of time. They didn't speak many words during the night, finding them cumbersome to the touching and caressing that each was doing to the other.
The next day, they tried to go about their normal routine, but the pollen grew stronger, and Daniel grew weaker. At the end of the day, the two decided they would go back to the beach they had visited on their vacation. It was days away, and they worried about the potential of flowers having blossomed between their camp and the beach, but they didn't have a choice. The next day, they'd pack up what they could and go.
~Friggin' flowers~ Jack thought as he lay in bed, Daniel snuggled into his side. ~It's not normal for flowers to grow so fast. Geez, Danny, I hope we make it to the beach okay.~
Eventually, Jack fell into a restless sleep, his concern for his lover giving way to the needs of his own body.
It was near dawn when Daniel woke. As he opened his eyes, he knew immediately what had woken him. He was finding it increasingly difficult to draw breath; in fact, within moments, he was gasping for air. Trying not to panic, he sat up, hoping that would help clear his lungs a little.
The movement woke Jack.
Seeing Daniel gasping for breath had the effect of a bucket of cold water being thrown over the older man. He sat up, trying to soothe and calm Daniel.
“J'ck ...” Daniel gasped, “can't ... breathe.”
“It'll be okay, Angel. We'll just leave everything and head for the beach. I can come back and get everything later.”
Daniel nodded, and Jack helped him up. Both could feel how weak the younger man was, and they soon discovered Jack needed to support most of Daniel's weight. They stepped outside their makeshift house and came to a dead stop.
**Yep. That pretty much says it,** Daniel thought, no longer having the strength to speak out loud.
During the night, patches of the flowers had sprouted throughout their campsite. The two looked at each other. This was going to be touch and go.
“I think our best chance is if we just go, don't stop for any breaks unless we find a clear patch. We have to make it to that beach.”
Not wasting any more time, they set off for the sandy haven, their last chance to survive this current nightmare. By the time they reached the river, Jack could see that it was only Daniel's grim determination that was keeping him going. He kept talking to his lover, encouraging him.
“You're doing great. I love you so much, Angel. Can't live without you.”
Daniel stumbled, and Jack caught him. Daniel's breathing was getting worse, his wheezing nearly constant. His eyes were watery and becoming swollen. Jack felt so helpless.
“You can do this, Danny. No one is as strong as you are.”
Daniel wished he had the strength to reply to Jack's words of encouragement, but it was all he could do to put one foot in front of the other. His chest felt like it was being squeezed in a vice, and he was fairly certain that he wasn't going to make it. He couldn't give up though. The love he had for the man at his side was enough to keep him going until he collapsed which judging from the spots in front of his eyes was going to be at any moment. He was proven right when he stumbled once more, this time slipping from Jack's grasp to tumble on the ground. Then everything went black.
“Danny? NO, DANIEL! Danny!”
Anxiously, fear consuming him, Jack tried to get Daniel to wake up. For a quick moment, Daniel seemed to respond, but his eyes didn't open. Jack thought he heard something, so he leaned low, putting his left ear over Daniel's mouth.
“Love you ... Silver Fox ... for...ev...'r.”
Jack's eyes closed, tears falling. He looked back on Daniel, unconscious.
“No, Daniel. No way am I letting you die because of ... asthma! No friggin' way!”
Jack picked up his lover. He knew Daniel would be dead by the time they arrived at the beach, so he turned, heading for the temple.
Daniel was a dead weight over Jack's shoulder, and it wasn't an easy walk through the forest, but for the older man, there was no other option. He forged onward, finally arriving at the temple. He gently put Daniel on the stone slab in front of the ruins. He rubbed his hand against the stubbly cheek of the man he loved.
Tears still rolling down his face, Jack spoke softly, “I love you, Angel. I need you, so much.”
He stood up and shouted, his voice not demanding, but pleading. It cracked and trembled as he called out for the only ones he thought might be able to save Daniel's life, and his own.
“KORSHA! SWARSHA! GELSHA! LYA! ANYONE! PLEASE. HELP US! I ... I,” he thought, and oh yes, he'd do anything, even this. “I BEG YOU. PLEASE! PLEASE HELP US! I'LL DO ANYTHING. PLEASE!”
“Jack, what is wrong?” Korsha said, materializing in front of Jack. Then he saw Daniel. “What has happened to Daniel?”
“He has allergies ... asthma. The flowers. Korsha, the flowers are killing him. I don't have any way of saving him. Please, you have to help me. There must be something you can do.”
“I do not understand about the flowers. I did not pick up this information from his mind.”
“Can you get it from me?”
Korsha looked at Jack, stunned. He knew Jack was skeptical, and from his empath reading of Daniel, knew Jack was private and guarding of anything personal.
“Yes, but if Daniel is as sick as you say, we have not the time to do a total read. Kneel down, Jack.”
Jack did as he was told. Korsha walked to him, holding up his paw.
“This is most important. You must push aside all else, but that which you know about this ... asthma you mention. If you have too much for me to wade through, I will need rest and will be unable to help Daniel.”
“I understand. Just ... focus on what I know, right?”
“Exactly. It will only take a moment if you are successful.”
“Give me a moment.”
Jack was breathing hard. He closed his eyes, commanding the colonel to come to the front of his being. His colonel persona could be cold and detached, shoving away everything but the facts, the bits and pieces he had learned from Daniel and Janet over the years. He became focused on his memories of sessions in the infirmary, bringing back conversations about Daniel's condition.
“Okay. I'm ready.”
The tears were gone. Jack's eyes were cold. His expression was resolute. Korsha saw the change and found it interesting, but he knew he didn't have time to study or critique it. Korsha raised his paw, and joined with Jack.
Seconds later, he pulled back.
“This is not good. Our planet will become covered with flowers in a matter of days. The beach will be the only place of shelter, but the floral aroma and pollen so harmful to Daniel will be too near for him to survive.”
“There must be something you can do.”
The colonel had gone, and Jack was back, his eyes moist once again.
“Please, be with Daniel. I must get Lya.”
Jack watched the little critter disappear in front of his eyes and quickly turned to be with Daniel.
“Hang on, Danny. Hang on.”
As he waited for Korsha to return, Jack continually stroked Daniel's cheek murmuring soft words of love and reassurance.
“Can't live without you. Remember our pact. If you leave me, Angel, I'm following you.” Jack wiped away the tears that were falling from his eyes onto Daniel's cheek. “Love you so much, Danny. Can't live without you. Won't.”
He was repeating a fact that Daniel knew full well, but sometimes, Daniel would fight harder to survive, not wanting Jack to die. It was Jack's faint hope now, that Daniel would hang on for Jack, if not for himself.
Jack noticed that Daniel was barely breathing now.
~Hurry, Korsha. Please hurry. He's dying, and I can't help him. Please, somebody help us.~
Korsha reappeared, Lya at his side. The older Filgrun rushed to Daniel. Jack opened his mouth to speak, but Korsha placed a paw on his arm and shook his head. He beckoned Jack to move away a little.
Hating to move from his soulmate, but having no choice except to trust in the furry creatures, Jack followed Korsha to stand several feet away, but still making sure that he could still see Daniel clearly.
Jack didn't take his eyes off Daniel, trusting that the Filgrun would understand. Korsha, too, was watching Lya and Daniel.
“I have told Lya what I learned from you. She is our most talented healer. If anyone can save Daniel, it will be her. I just hope she has the strength. She is getting too old for such healing and may not have the energy needed to bring Daniel back. He is very close to ...”
Korsha trailed off, clearly not wanting to voice the rest of his sentence. They stood watching Lya place her paws over Daniel's temples. As a soft glow began to surround them, Korsha slipped a paw into Jack's hand. Jack didn't even notice, all his attention focused on Daniel.
For five minutes, they watched with bated breath, then without warning, Lya collapsed. Both Jack and Korsha ran forward, Jack immediately checking on Daniel, while Korsha placed his paws on either side of Lya's head and bathed her in the same type of glow that she had enveloped Daniel in earlier.
To Jack's relief, Daniel seemed to be breathing more easily, but it was clearly still a strain.
“Danny?” He shook Daniel's shoulders a little, but got no response. “Danny, please wake up.”
“It was not enough yet, Jack.” Lya was now awake, and Korsha helped her to stand. “I must try again.”
Immediately, Korsha began chattering away in their own language. Jack didn't need to understand the words to know he was trying to dissuade Lya from trying again.
“Please, Korsha, Dan...”
“Jack,” Korsha interrupted, his voice gentle but firm, “if Lya attempts to heal Daniel again, the strain may kill her. Is that what Daniel would want?”
Jack looked away. The answer killed him.
The word was a soft whisper as he admitted the hated truth. He turned back to his lover and made no attempt to wipe away his tears. He ignored the two Filgruns. Nothing mattered anymore except Daniel, and if Daniel was going to die, it was going to be in Jack's arms. He lifted the younger man into his embrace and cradled him against his chest.
Rocking him slightly, his cracked voice whispered, “Love you, Danny, my sweet Angel. I love you.”
“Jack?” Lya touched the older man to get his attention. “You may be able to help. Can I use some of your energy? If I use your energy rather than my own I may be able to help him. I don't have enough strength of my own.”
“Lya, it is still too much of a risk to your health.”
The older Filgrun ignored Korsha's words and continued to look at Jack.
“Are you sure, Lya? Korsha is right. Daniel,” Jack gulped as he looked down at his heart, “... he ... he wouldn't want you to die to save him.”
“I am sure, Jack. If you help, I can do it, and I will survive.”
“Then take all that I have. Take as much as you need. If he dies, I will, too. I don't want to live without him, and ... I won't.”
The truthfulness in Jack's eyes pierced through the two Filgruns. They were both deeply touched by such devotion, and Lya knew that a love that strong would only help them to save the younger man. She nodded.
“It will not threaten your life, but you will be tired for a while. Now close your eyes and concentrate on Daniel.”
Jack did as told and felt a paw rest gently on his temple.
“You must focus on healing. See his life. All that is good. You must let him flow through you, gather your energy, your strength, your need and want to survive. Let him be one with you. I will guide and make it possible. You will both flow through me.”
“Lya, please ...”
“Korsha, gather the others. We need their prayers.”
Lya closed her eyes, and didn't speak another word. Jack did as she said, remembering all the wonderful things about the man he loved. He thought of the physical attributes -- the shaggy hair he loved, though it was now short, but he loved the short hair, too; the soulful blue eyes that were the mirror to Daniel's feelings; the soft skin he loved to caress; the now built up muscular form with the tight abdomen and bulging muscles.
He thought of the true essence of his lover -- the compassion, even for enemies; the love and devotion for himself; the love of their family of friends; the honor and code Daniel lived by; his kindness, unparalleled by anyone in Jack's opinion; his intelligence, the genius that went beyond books; and the list went on and on.
Jack remembered only the good, event after event of goodness. He stayed as focused as he could so that Lya could succeed.
Soon, Korsha was back with Gelsha and several other of the Filgrun. They stood together, their paws in front of them. For a moment, Jack opened his eyes to see the creatures.
“It's like the Nox,” he said out loud.
“Jack, you must concentrate,” Korsha instructed as the Filgrun went back to their position of a moment before, but Jack had seen that type of stance before, on the Nox home world when Lya and later Nafrayu had been injured. It was what they did to save their friends.
Jack returned to his thoughts of Daniel, focusing on their love and need for each other. He remembered wishing upon a star, their night on the roof deck when Daniel uttered words that would change their lives forever.
“I'm cold, Jack.”
It was an invitation and a request, and from that moment on, Jack and Daniel were lovers for eternity. It was that love that had already gotten the two through nightmare after nightmare. Jack prayed it would get them through at least one more.
He imagined his own strength flowing into Daniel, silently urging his lover to draw it from him. He focused on their unity. They were one, and he would not let Daniel go. He was determined to have enough strength for both of them.
Jack was concentrating so deeply on Daniel and their nation of two that he didn't even notice when Lya removed her paw. He didn't hear the murmurs of the Filgruns as they silently surrounded Lya, giving her strength from themselves.
What he did notice was that Daniel seemed to be breathing easily now with no sign of wheezing. Slowly, hardly daring to believe that it had worked, Jack opened his eyes and looked at the beloved features of his soulmate. There was color in Daniel's cheeks now.
Jack looked over to where Lya sat, surrounded by her family. She smiled at him, and he began to breathe more easily himself.
“We were successful, Jack. We brought him back although he is still tired, and will be weaker than usual for a while. We have also managed to increase his cortisone levels. We do not understand how your bronchiodilators works, so we have used our own ways to relax Daniel's bronchial passages. These should help to give him some temporary protection.”
“How long will it last?” Jack asked softly, not wanting to disturb the man in his arms.
Lya's smile faded.
“I cannot be certain. Perhaps a couple of days. Now you must both rest. So must I, and then, somehow, you must find your way home.”
She turned to leave, but Jack reached out and grabbed her paw.
“Lya, thank you.” Jack tried to blink away the tears that were threatening to fall. “Thank you.”
“You are very welcome, Jack.” She patted him gently on the arm. “But you were largely responsible for this too. You and Daniel share an unusually deep bond. It saved his life.”
Jack nodded and watched her go.
“Korsha?” The young Filgrun had been about to follow Lya, but stopped and came back over to Jack.
“It is all right, Jack. I know. Lya, like Daniel, always follows her heart, no matter what the risk to herself. It is why they are so special, is it not?”
“Yes. It is.”
Jack smiled, and for the first time, he was grateful for the Filgrun's empath abilities. It saved him from trying to articulate his feelings. Korsha patted his arm.
“Rest now. You need to regain your strength as well.” He smiled and left the temple ruins.
Jack looked at the precious life in his arms. “Love you, Danny. That was too close, and the battle is still on. We need to get the Stargate to work.”
Jack's words had been drawn. Suddenly, he felt weary. ~I guess Lya was right.~ Seconds later, Jack fell back against the wall of the temple, falling asleep, Daniel hugged close to him, his head on Jack's lap.
A few hours later, Jack awoke. It took him a moment to recall where he was and what had happened earlier. He looked down at the still slumbering Daniel and ran his fingers through his hair. He leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on his lips.
Jack smiled, saying softly, “Sleeping Beauty?”
“Nothing,” Jack said softly. “How do you feel?”
“I'm ... did I die?”
“No, Angel, not this time.”
“I thought ... I mean ...”
“Shhhh. You're just fine, Love.”
Slowly, Daniel sat up. He looked around, the day's events slowly coming back to him, at least to the point where he blacked out.
“Jack, what happened?”
“Remember the Nox?”
Daniel gave his lover a funny look, just as Jack tugged the younger man to him. Resting his head on Jack's right shoulder, Daniel asked again, “What happened?”
Jack told him everything, including the fact they needed to find a way off of Xanadu.
“Lya said we only have a couple of ...”
Daniel shot up like a stick. His head spun for a moment, but then he began pacing.
“Couple. Two. Two ... Gawd, Jack, there's another Stargate.”
Jack stood and walked to Daniel. He was glad to see his lover so animated, but part of him was afraid the young man might fall over at any moment.
“What makes you think that?”
“The symbol on the wall. It means travel of great distance. I know it.”
“I don't know. I just do. It makes sense now.” Daniel hurried over to the wall, stumbling over some kicked up dirt for a moment, to review the writings. “See, in the beginning, the beginning of the Filgrun, they traveled a great distance, some coming from one place, and ... and others from another.” Daniel's fingers ran across the etchings on the wall. “Yes, Jack, there ARE two Stargates. We have to find the second Gate.”
“Danny, this planet is full of flowers. We can't risk you walking through those allergy paths.”
“Lya said ....”
“I know Lya said, but ...”
“Daniel. You are better?”
Korsha had returned.
“Yes, thank you. I'd like to thank Lya. She shouldn't have risked herself that way.”
Korsha smiled. He saw Lya in Daniel. They were much the same.
“Lya has sent me. She is strangely ill. You must come.”
Jack and Daniel followed Korsha, for the first time being invited to the small village where their magna-cresha resided.
As they looked around the surrounding area of the ruins, the two men were struck by the beauty of the flowers that had blossomed around them. Everywhere they looked, there were flowers of all colors and sizes, including some strange rainbow colored ones that looked a bit like tulips. For the first time Daniel was able to truly appreciate their beauty.
“Jack, they're gorgeous.”
“I'd like to blast every single one of them to Netu,” Jack growled glaring at the innocent looking flora.
He had not forgiven them for nearly taking away the life of his lover, and he couldn't enjoy their beauty while Daniel was still at risk.
“We can't ...”
“I don't want to hear it, Daniel. I hate the blasted things, and if I never see a flower again, it'll be too soon.”
Jack loved flowers. He frequently surprised Daniel with them for romantic occasions, so with the harshness of that statement, the young man finally realized the toll that his allergy attack had had on Jack. He reached out for the older man's hand, squeezing it gently. Jack looked at him and felt a jolt of calm shoot through him.
“How are you feeling now, Danny? Any sign of the allergies returning?”
“No, I feel fine. I haven't even thanked you for saving my life yet, Jack.”
“Your life is my life, Danny. You know that. It was a relief to be able to do something.”
Daniel smiled sweetly, his eyes moistening, not from allergies, but from love.
“You really did, too. I could feel your strength flowing into me. You saved me.” Daniel's smile faded. “I just hope I haven't cost Lya her life.”
Jack squeezed Daniel's hand reassuringly, his thumb caressing the center of his soulmate's palm.
“Whatever happens, Danny, it was her choice to help us. Remember that. She made it freely and willingly.”
“I know, but I hope she'll be okay. I ... wow!”
They had reached the Filgrun village, and it had rendered both men temporarily speechless. It was very reminiscent of the Nox home world, simple wooden houses that blended in with the environment situated along smooth dirt paths. Some Filgrun children were tossing what looked like a ball of light around while the adults went about their business giving the youngsters fond, indulgent glances.
“It's this way.”
Korsha guided them into one of the slightly larger houses. They entered the house and found it was surprisingly light. They looked around for a window or skylight but there was no sign of either.
“Korsha?” Jack asked as he looked around, “Where does the light come from?”
If the Filgrun hadn't looked so puzzled, Jack would have been convinced Korsha was pulling his leg.
“But there are no windows.”
The look of puzzlement faded and as he led them over to a soft looking bed where Lya lay. He waved his paw. As he did so, the walls and roof of the house disappeared.
“Ah ... what just happened?”
Daniel looked at Korsha and smiled as he knelt down beside Lya.
“An optical illusion?”
Korsha nodded as he explained, “It makes us feel more comfortable, but we have no real need for shelter. We adjust to our environment.” He looked down at Lya. “She does not respond to us, and we cannot read her.”
Daniel touched the small creature.
“She's very warm. I wish we knew what to do to help her.”
“The last thing Lya said to us was that it was important to bring you here. She said we should perform the healing rite with the two of you as part of our circle. She said your strength would be needed. She said one more thing that was confusing to us.”
“What was that?” Jack asked curiously.
“She said we must turn the flowers off.”
“Off?” Jack and Daniel said at the same time.
“Yes. You can understand our confusion. She said it was vital to ensure your life, Daniel.”
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, and then participated in the healing rite. This time, Daniel saw for himself how the Filgrun lined up, just like the Nox had done for their own. The human couple were asked to each hold one of Lya's paws and to focus on Lya's goodness during the ritual.
Minutes later, Daniel noticed the flickering of the Filgruns as they worked to save Lya.
**Jack, are they invisible? I mean, is this place ... invisible?**
**No idea, but they are just like the Nox.**
Another minute of concentration, and Lya awoke. While others tried to calm her, she insisted on one thing.
“We must turn off the flowers.”
“Lya, what do you mean?” Korsha asked.
“The temple. The key is there. Korsha, you must convene the Grand Council. Go, tell them I wish it. They should meet here in one cycle of the moon. Korsha, tell them just the eight. They must leave their court at home. Only the eight. It is ... important.”
The eldest of the Filgrun looked at Jack and Daniel and spoke firmly, “You must help me to go back to the temple. We must hurry.”
They did as requested, and soon found themselves back at the wall. Lya stared at the writings. She had never understood them before, but they were making more sense now.
“Daniel, help me.”
“Somewhere ... here in the ruins, there is a button. It is the symbol of forever combined with the symbol of life. I do not see it.”
Daniel thought about all the symbols he had seen on the wall, but there was nothing he could think of that matched it. He began to pace, looking over the area.
He muttered, “Forever and life. Symbols. Cresha. Two Stargates. Symbols. For...” He stopped in his tracks, his mind racing. “Everything comes from the family. Family is forever.”
“Family is life,” Lya smiled in response.
Daniel ran over to the wall as he searched the bottom panel.
“Here, Lya, the cresha.”
“Yes, the cresha.”
The Filgrun reached out and touched it, as Daniel had done earlier, but when she made contact, suddenly a noise began to thunder through the area.
Jack felt the ground beneath him beginning to give way. He quickly jumped out of the way as a small console popped up out of the ground.
“Okay, this is something,” Jack said, staring at it. “Daniel, any idea what this is?”
“I have no idea. Lya?”
“I know only that we must turn off the flowers to protect life. Life is the most important thing. The flowers must be turned off.”
Lya walked over to the console. She closed her eyes and held up her paws, palm facing the sky.
Jack and Daniel watched as Lya became engulfed in light. She looked again at the console, hitting three buttons. Stepping back, the console moved back to the ground. A minute later, the dirt of the ground covered the area as if nothing had ever sprouted out it.
“I was able to delay the continuation, but that is all. We must go to the beach.”
“The beach?” Daniel asked, exchanging a glance with his lover.
“Lya, Korsha said the pollen would still ...” he hesitated. “It wouldn't matter.”
“I've been directed to the beach. The answer is there. Quickly, my strength is fading. We must hurry.”
Again, Jack and Daniel guided Lya to the beach, though it took two days to get there. They wondered how long a cycle of the moon was, when the Filgrun would meet again.
“Yes, here, but I am too weak. I cannot remember. Daniel, it is in you. The knowledge. You have it.”
“Knowledge? Lya, it's just a beach. The only thing we saw here that ... JACK!” Daniel's voiced raised, “the Goa'uld stone. I understand. I think I ...”
“Yes, Daniel. Hurry.”
Daniel quickly made his way to where they had found the Goa'uld stone and examined it more closely. He ran his fingers over the carvings, searching his memory for the meanings of the words. Like the flash of a camera, inspiration struck in a split second.
“Jack, help me turn this over.”
Together, they heaved the stone over to reveal more writing on the underside of the stone. Daniel smiled.
“The writing on this side isn't Goa'uld, Jack. It's the language of the Stargates, the Ancients' language ... well, a derivative of it anyway.”
Jack could hear the excitement in his lover's voice and headed him off before he forgot about their situation and launched into a lecture on the evolution of languages.
“Can you read it?”
Daniel studied the writings for a moment, then nodded.
“Yes, I think so. Seek ... no, that's not it ... need ... communicate ... center. Ah, that's it. This isn't really a stone, Jack.”
Jack raised an eyebrow. It certainly looked like a stone to him, but if Daniel said it wasn't then that was what he would go with. He watched Daniel run his fingers over the surface of the stone.
“There we go.”
Daniel found the indentation he was looking for and pressed it. The top of the stone slid sideways to reveal a multi-colored crystal that spiked at its top.
Daniel looked hopelessly at Jack.
“I'm ... I'm not sure.” He turned to where Lya was resting, gazing out at the ocean, and called out, “Lya? Do you know how this works?”
The Filgrun rose slowly and walked over to examine the crystal. She smiled.
“I'm not sure how I know this, but just hold it, Daniel, and it will do the rest.”
“Are you sure? I mean, if we press the wrong thing ...”
“It is what my aurelia tells me to do.”
“Aurelia ... what's that?”
Lya thought for a moment.
“Heart. You would call it heart. My heart tells me this is right.”
Daniel looked at Jack who nodded.
**I like Lya, Danny. She kinda reminds me of Thor. She won't steer us wrong. Let's go with her ... au...roar...awhatever.**
Daniel lifted the crystal from its stone nest.
**You're an old softie, Jack.**
Jack was about to respond, but was distracted by the glow that began to emerge from the crystal. It surrounded the crystal and then shot out a little to hover a short distance from them, expanding as it went.
“Wow. Widescreen TV.”
“Jack!” Daniel had to admit though that the glowing energy had spread out to look a little like a television screen, and right now it was showing a familiar face. “Lya!”
“Holy Hannah!” Jack exclaimed as the face of Lya of the Nox appeared.
“Friends. You are well?”
“Um ... for the moment.”
“It is good to see you, Daniel. How have you come across this device?”
“Ah, that's a long story.”
Daniel proceeded to explain to Lya about the events on PS8-753 and the final storm they had witnessed. He told her about the strange power burst that had sent them to Xanadu, and then he mentioned the Filgrun.
“The Filgrun are there?”
Lya seemed surprised and also concerned. Daniel answered a bit hesitantly, not sure what her expression and tone meant.
“Yes, they are. There's one named Lya. She saved my life.”
“Daniel, are the Filgrun with you now?”
“Please. May I speak with her.”
The small creature approached the screen, and then she and her counterpart began a conversation that lasted several minutes in the Filgrun language. When they were done, the Filgrun nodded and backed away, motioning for Daniel to return to the screen.
“Daniel, Lya has explained more about their situation. We are too far away to help. We will try to get within range of our powers as soon as possible, but until then, can you try and help them? If not, they risk danger of their home world.”
“Lya, it's me. Jack O'Neill.” Jack piped in. He liked the Nox, but he was well aware of their affinity for Daniel. “Did Lya tell you about Daniel and the allergies.”
“Jack, she doesn't need to know ...”
The older man cut off his lover, “Yes, she does. Lya, he almost died. The flowers on this place, they ...”
“Yes, Jack. Lya explained that to me first. She told me what she did. Daniel, you must stay at the beach. The mechanism that turned off the flowers will restart soon, but while we get within range, we need your help.”
“Just tell me what you want me to do.”
“Jack, you must help as well. Are you willing?”
“Yeahsureyabetcha. You take care of Daniel, and I'll be happy to help out.”
“Jack!” Daniel glared at his lover.
Lya smiled reassuringly.
“Don't worry, Jack. Keep Daniel there. Do not let him move off the beach. It is important.”
“He won't budge if I have to sit on himself.”
“Has Lya gone as I requested?”
Both Jack and Daniel turned around, surprised the Filgrun was nowhere in sight.
“Yes, I guess so, but Lya she wasn't feeling well.”
“She will be fine. Daniel, about one of your Earth miles to the north of this device, there will be another. You will have to dig. It is hidden. You must activate it so that it takes over the operation of the planetoid.”
“Planetoid?” Jack asked curiously.
“Filgria is not a real planet. Long, long ago, the Filgria home world began to self-destruct. Their planet went through violent eruptions. Many were killed before we were able to create Filgria. Daniel, they do not know they are on a ship. They believe it to be a new home world.”
“And you don't want them to know?” Jack asked.
“If you must tell them, then you must, but they were happy in their new world. However, Filgria disappeared. We searched, but could not find them. It has been ... a long time.”
“Was Lya able to tell you what happened? I mean, how they disappeared, or why?”
“No, but the device you activate may have the knowledge there.”
“Lya, how do you know the Filgruns?”
“It is, as you would say, a long story, and right now there is no time. I must go and meet with the other Nox. Daniel, take the crystal with you. You must place the crystal in the center of the stand and wait for it to activate. When it does, you must pick it up and hold it up to the sky. Do not move until the crystal becomes totally clear. When it does, put it back on the stand again. That is all you must do.”
“Will I be able to work it as well, Lya?” Jack asked, concerned about Daniel's health. If the young man did have another allergy attack, Jack wanted to make sure he'd be able to work the crystal, too.
“I am sorry, Jack, but no. It only works for Daniel because he has many ... advanced race tendencies.”
Jack didn't know whether to appreciate this as a compliment given to Daniel or see it as an insult to himself and the rest of humanity. It still irked him every time the people of Earth were referred to as a 'very young' race.
“I must go now. Please, Daniel, Jack, help the Filgruns.”
The energy screen dissipated, and the two men looked at each other.
“We ... I ... owe it to the Filgruns, to Lya,” Daniel shook his head in confusion, “both Lya's to help them.”
“You were right the first time, Danny. WE owe it to the Filgruns. They saved our lives.” Jack grinned. “Besides, if we help the Filgruns, the Nox might be able to get our butts back to Earth.”
They began walking north as Nox Lya had instructed.
“I thought you liked Xanadu, Jack?”
“I did. Loved it ... until you nearly died.”
Hearing the vulnerability in Jack's voice, Daniel stopped and pulled Jack close. He kissed the side of his lover's neck as he held him.
“I'm okay now, Jack.”
To prove his point, Daniel kissed his lover deeply.
“Hmmm, better than okay,” Jack declared dreamily.
“Come on,” Daniel urged, a spot of laughter in his voice.
Soon, they arrived at the mile marker, only they had a problem -- there was no sign of the stone Lya had said would be here.
“Now what?” Daniel looked at Jack. “We only found the other one by accident.”
Jack thought for a moment, and then held up a finger.
“Stay here, Danny. I mean it, if you move one foot off this beach, I will never speak to you again.”
Daniel sighed and rolled his eyes at Jack's overprotectiveness. It wasn't like he had a death wish. He wasn't going to stupidly endanger his life.
**Glad to hear it, Danny.**
**Hey, where did the term eavesdropper come from anyway?**
**You really want to know, Jack?**
“Ah, perhaps not.”
Two minutes later, Jack emerged from the forest with two long sticks and handed one to Daniel.
“We'll walk along the beach sticking these into the sand, and hopefully, we'll hit the stone.”
“I feel like someone in one of those forensics shows,” Daniel said as they walked along the beach poking their sticks into the sand.
Five minutes later, Jack heard a thunk as his stick probed the sand.
Immediately, they began uncovering what they hoped was the second stone Lya had spoken off. To their delight, it was.
Daniel pulled out the crystal and did as Lya instructed. It took almost two minutes before the stand began to make noises of life. Several parts of the console began to glow.
“I guess it's on,” Daniel said, taking the crystal, turning to face the ocean and holding the crystal up towards the sky.
Jack chuckled, as he teased, “Daniel Kinte. Behold, the one thing greater than yourself.”
“I actually saw 'Roots' on TV, Jack. There is a lot of history in that. In fact, in ancient times, the people of ...”
“Daniel, not now.”
The two waited. Ten minutes later, the crystal had drained of all color.
“Looks clear, Love.”
“Yeah, I agree.”
Daniel placed the crystal in its holder on the device. Just then, the stand shut itself off, making a swooshing noise as it did so.
“Was it supposed to do that?” Jack asked.
“I don't know. She said it would work on its ... own. Look.”
The device began to restart itself, section by section.
“Jack, it's ... rebooting, like a computer.”
“Yeah, that's ... that's ... oh gawd ...” Daniel sneezed.
Jack grabbed Daniel and pulled him as far back from the edge of the forest as possible. He could actually smell the blossoming flowers.
“It'll be okay. Lya will be here.”
The pollen began to circulate through the air that covered the beach. Jack cursed the winds on the planet for refusing to follow Earth patterns.
~The wind should be friggin blowing inland!~
Consumed with fear, he held Daniel to him, the wheezing coming back much quicker than the first time.
Suddenly, the device activated the same type of energy screen that had begun before. Lya again appeared.
“Friends, have you succeeded?”
“Daniel, stay here.”
Jack ran up to the screen.
“Lya, the flowers are killing Daniel. You have to help us.”
“Jack, on the console in front of you, there are four white buttons. Do you see them?”
“Press the third button three times, waiting precisely five seconds between each touch. Do it now.”
Jack did as Lya had told him.
“Now, listen carefully. You must go to the Stargate.”
“Lya, it doesn't work ...”
“No, Jack, the second Stargate. It is at the edge of the Great Meadow.”
“The flowers, Lya ...” Jack's voice was full of desperation.
Jack looked back at Daniel. He wasn't wheezing now, but he was pale again. Whatever Lya had had Jack do was apparently just a stopgap measure. Daniel would never make it through the field of colored flowers.
“Jack,” Lya returned again. “You must believe.”
“Yes. The Filgruns can help. I have communicated with them. Lya and her magna-cresha will be with you soon. You must trust them, Jack. It is the only way. Do as they say, believe with every part of you, Jack. If you doubt, they will fail, and Daniel will die. Do you understand?”
“What are they going to do?”
“They will get you to the Stargate.”
“He can't survive the trip through ...”
“No, Jack, you do not understand, and there isn't time to explain. You must trust them, completely.”
“Okay. Lya, we don't have the point of origin for this planet. If we're ...”
“Lya will help you. She will dial the Stargate.” The Nox saw Jack's skepticism. “Trust the Filgrun, as you trust the Nox.”
“Okay.” Jack nodded as he looked over at Daniel. “I'll do anything for him.”
Lya smiled through the energy screen.
“All will be well as long as you believe in the Filgrun.”
Lya nodded a farewell, and then the screen disappeared again, as it done before.
~Crap! Believe in the aliens, yeah, right! This is Daniel's life we're talking about, and she says to trust the friggin' fur ball aliens.~
Jack was brought out of his frustrated ramblings by the gentle touch of his lover. As they communicated with their eyes, Jack felt a kind of peace settle over him. He could trust the Filgruns. Daniel trusted the furry little critters, and that was good enough for Jack.
~Besides ... together we're unbeatable.~ “I love you, Danny.”
“Love you, too, Jack.”
“How are you feeling, Angel?”
“My chest is tight. Whatever Lya did is keeping the allergies at bay for a little while, but it's like ... I can still feel it. It's just not ... causing too many problems right now.”
Lya of the Filgrun came running onto the beach, the magna-cresha behind her.
~Geez, that was a quick recovery, Lya!~ Jack wondered just what the extent of the Filgrun's powers were. ~Do they have teleportation devices? It doesn't matter.~
Jack was relieved to see Lya looking better. He now trusted the older Filgrun more than the others and felt a lot more inclined to trust the Filgruns with his lover's life if Lya was among them.
“Come, we must hurry.”
Lya reached out and placed Daniel's hand in Jack's.
“Jack, whatever happens, you must not let go of Daniel's hand. And no matter what happens, what it looks like, you must have faith. Now you need to concentrate on your love for Daniel. Surround him with it. Daniel, just breathe. Anchor yourself to Jack, and just concentrate on breathing.”
“It's going to take days to reach the field ...” Jack began, unable to see how this would work.
“You must trust us, Jack,” Lya pleaded. “If you do not have faith in us, we cannot help you.”
Daniel gave Jack's hand a reassuring squeeze, and the older man smiled at his lover.
“I believe in you , Lya.” He looked around at the Filgruns, all standing there willing to help them. “I believe in all of you.”
As soon as Jack spoke the words, the Filgruns expressions brightened, and Jack felt as though the world just got lighter.
“You must both close your eyes now, and do not open them until I say. Jack, concentrate on surrounding Daniel with your love. Daniel, anchor yourself to Jack.”
The two men looked at each other communicating their love silently, then closed their eyes as Lya had instructed. They could hear the voices of the Filgruns surrounding them, almost chanting and then as their faith in the little creatures solidified, their focus on each other heightened. Within seconds, all they were aware of was the other and the love they shared.
For the two lovers, it was as if they were alone in the paradise of Xanadu, happy, peaceful, without a care in the world. They felt each other's touches, kisses, caresses. They silently heard each other's words of devotion, moans of pleasure, and pledges of forever. Their memories replayed special moments -- when they met, their first kiss, Jack asking Daniel to move his fish into the house, and so many others.
Time seemed to stand still as their love engulfed them, so much so that when Lya told them they could open their eyes, neither of them had any idea whether seconds or hours had passed. They blinked rapidly in the bright sunlight, their first instinct to check on each other.
Jack was relieved to see that although Daniel was a little pale and beginning to wheeze slightly, he was otherwise all right.
“Jack ... Lll...Look!”
Daniel gestured in front of them, and turning, Jack saw a very welcome sight. Not only was a Stargate standing before them, there was also a completely intact DHD.
“How?” Both Jack and Daniel asked simultaneously.
“It is our way. We do not question it.”
Lya beckoned Jack and Daniel to kneel down in front of her, which they did. She smiled, one paw touching a cheek of both men. She closed her eyes, engaging in a final mind-meld.
“Wow!” the two exclaimed at the same time.
“I have been given the knowledge and have shared it with you. There is no time to discuss it, but it is here,” she said, her paws patting their cheeks.
“Lya, will you be okay?”
“Yes, our planet has been restored.”
“Are you sure?” Daniel asked.
“Yes, Daniel. The Nox will be here soon to make sure all is as it should be. Now, you must go.”
“Now that sounds familiar,” Jack said with a smile. He remembered how often the Nox had used that line.
“Thank you, Lya ... for everything.”
“And you, too, Korsha,” Jack pointed at the critter. “I know we had our ... misunderstandings, but thank you.”
“Travel well through your Stargate. We will honor you tonight with a Wageta.”
“Wageta?” Daniel asked.
“A celebration of family,” Korsha explained. “You will always be welcome as part of our magna-cresha.”
Jack and Daniel nodded, and after another sneeze, Daniel hurried to the DHD. He paused, remembering the coordinates Lya had just placed in his mind. In moments, the kawoosh of the Stargate had the Filgruns in awe.
“It's a piece of cake,” Jack said to them.
“Jack, we don't have our GDO ...”
“It is here,” Korsha said, extending out the device.
In fact, both their packs and accumulated belongings suddenly appeared at the steps of the Stargate.
Daniel accepted the GDO, amazed at what he'd just witnessed. Still, he had reason to be concerned. Jack and Daniel had been stranded on Xanadu for two months. Normal procedure would mean the iris would remain closed.
“Jack, we've been gone so long. They might have locked out our codes.”
Jack knew Daniel was right, but they didn't have any other options, either.
“We don't have a choice. We have to take the chance.”
“Do not worry,” Lya stepped forward, speaking authoritatively.
She closed her eyes and seemed to emit a force of energy that whipped past Jack and Daniel and went through the Stargate.
“Go now. You will be safe.”
Stopping in front of the Stargate, Jack and Daniel turned and took a last look at their Xanadu. They waved to their friends.
“You are welcome to come back to ... Xanadu any time,” Lya said as she waved.
“Goodbye!” Daniel said softly.
Jack nodded, and with a final look at his lover, the two picked up their possessions and stepped through the Stargate, side by side.
Teal'c walked through the corridors of the SGC and entered Sam's lab just in time to see her sweep a sheaf of notes onto the floor.
“Stupid alien technology.”
“MajorCarter,” Teal'c said as he began collecting the fallen notes, “you require rest and sustenance. We shall find them, but we must not lose ourselves in the process.”
“I miss them, Teal'c.”
“As do I, but I am certain we will find them.”
“I ...” Sam's sentence was cut off by the sound of the klaxon's going off. She looked at her teammate. “Are any teams due back?”
“There are none that I am aware of.”
The two looked at each other and then moving simultaneously ran for the gate room. General Hammond was already there and smiled at Sam as she slid into the chair next to Sergeant Davis.
“Is there an IDC code yet, Sergeant?”
General Hammond prayed that this time the unscheduled gate activation would provide them with some information about Jack and Daniel. The Tok'ra had contacted them a few days ago with news of a possible lead as to what had happened to the pair. If their information was correct, it meant that the two SGC personnel were prisoners of a Goa'uld, so everyone at the SGC was hoping this particular lead didn't pan out.
“Is it the Tok'ra?” Ferretti called out as he ran into the control room.
“Receiving ...” Sergeant Davis looked at his computer console in disbelief, “IDC code for SG-1, Sir.”
Exchanging looks of surprise, the group stood still for a moment.
“Sir, we have to take the chance,” Sam pleaded.
Seeing Hammond's nod, Sam stood and, with Teal'c and Ferretti close behind, ran towards the gate room. As they did, they heard the general's orders.
Before he was done, however, the iris began to open. Hammond glared at the Sergeant.
“I didn't do that, General.”
Hammond reached over for the microphone, ordering, “Stay alert people. Medical team to the gate room.”
After covering all his bases, he hurried down after his junior officers. Anxiously, they all stared at the water-like event horizon, each saying their own set of prayers.
Moments later, Jack and Daniel walked through the Stargate.
Jack grinned, holding out his hands, “Lucy, we're home!”
Daniel laughed and shook his head as he explained, “He may have gone a little stir crazy while we were gone.”
“I did not.”
“I was pleasant.”
“Only when you were fishing.”
“You had your artifacts to play with.”
“I was not playing.”
Hammond and the others had huge smiles on their faces. If there were any doubts in their minds that the life forms in front of them were Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, the banter had just sent those doubts running.
“Colonel O'Neill. Doctor Jackson. Welcome home.”
“Daniel!” Sam spoke softly, her eyes moist from emotion. “Colonel, it's good to see you both.”
“Indeed,” Teal'c said, trying to be the tough Jaffa he was believed to be.
“Jack, old buddy, I knew you'd make it back. You, too, Doc.”
Lou moved to slap Jack's back as a show of support, just as Sam moved forward to hug Daniel.
“What's going on?” Janet asked as she and her medical team entered the gate room. Seeing the two men, she paused, a huge smile on her face. “Well, you two are a sight.”
The two men looked pretty ragged, but before Janet could even begin her exam, Jack stated forcefully, “Doc, Daniel almost died. We ended up someplace with a planet full of flowers. He ran out of pills, and ...”
“Jack, I'm fine.”
“I'll decide that, Daniel. Infirmary, both of you.”
“We'll debrief just as soon as Doctor Fraiser has finished her examinations.”
Hammond was still smiling. In fact, so was everyone in the gate room.
**I think they're happy to see us, Danny.**
**Ya think? Yeah.**
**Hey! Quit stealing my lines!**
Daniel grinned. How he loved the man at his side!
Jack pulled on his black T-shirt as he walked over to where Daniel sat on the cot.
She saw the concern in Jack's eyes, and quickly smiled reassuringly.
“Daniel's fine. I've given him a shot and a booster, and a new supply of pills. You were lucky, Daniel. I can hear the strain on your lungs.”
“Yeah, I know. It was ... close, Janet. We got out just in time.”
“Listen, Doc, if we're done here, Daniel and I could use a shower and shave before the debriefing.”
“Go ahead, and ... welcome home again!”
“So we still don't know anything about the power burst, Colonel,” Sam explained. “It appears to happen periodically on PS8-753, but the reason why is a mystery, and unfortunately, we opened the Stargate at the wrong time.”
“Was the trip to the planet worth it?”
“Yes, Sir. The naquadah deposits will be a great asset for us.”
“I guess that's something,” Hammond said. After a moment, he leaned forward against the long conference table, his hands clasped together tightly. “Tell us what happened when you and Doctor Jackson went through the Stargate, Colonel.”
“Long story, Sir.”
“That's why we're here, Colonel.”
For the next couple of hours, the two newly returned men told their friends about their adventures on Xanadu. Sam was sorry she didn't get a chance to meet the Filgruns.
~They sound so ... cute.~
“Sir,” Daniel spoke up when they got to the end of their story, “apparently, the Nox saved the Filgruns when their planet was being destroyed. They created a new home world for them. I'm still not clear on the connection. I ... I get the feeling they are actually related somehow, but neither Lya wanted to talk about that in detail.”
“They were very similar, General, both in the powers Daniel and I witnessed, some of their history, and ... of course, their names,” Jack mentioned.
“Right. General, during the final mind-meld, Lya of the Filgrun passed on more information. She originally didn't know any of this, but with the crisis facing them, she must have tapped into a subconscious memory, and the knowledge came back to her. The planetoid was safely in orbit in some distant part of the galaxy when the Goa'uld found it. About the same time, the Furlings came across the planetoid. They saw what the Nox had done, were able to read the records or ... actually, I'm not sure how they knew it was the Nox, but they did, and to protect the Filgruns, they actually moved Xanadu, um, Filgria to another location in a ...” Daniel tilted his head in amusement, “galaxy far, far away. For some reason, they weren't able to notify the Nox.”
“Someone isn't reading their memos,” Jack said with a bit of smirk.
Daniel stared at him in disbelief, but then tilted his head as if to agree.
“Actually, that's not all that unlikely. The Filgrun got ... lost, forgotten about in whatever else was happening at the time. Then, Jack and I showed up, and the power burst that burnt out the DHD at the first Stargate also damaged the planetoid.”
“You're confident the Filgrun's planet is functioning properly again?”
“Yes, Sir,” Daniel answered. “The second console on the beach controlled the planet. We ... rebooted the system, and that put it back on course.”
“To where the Nox had it ... or the Furlings?”
“I'm not sure, Sir. Lya didn't tell us. I'm ... afraid we're never going to see them again. We don't have their coordinates or anything.”
“Colonel, the iris opened prior to my command to do so.”
“Yes, Sir. That was Lya. She sent some ... energy beam through the Gate after we talked about the possibility of our code being locked out of the system.”
General Hammond thought for a minute, and then asked, “Is there anything else, gentlemen?”
“We should send a thank you to the Nox, Sir,” Daniel spoke up. “Lya, um, the Nox's Lya, did tell us what to do.”
“The Nox may be out of contact for a while, General,” Jack mentioned. “They were headed to visit with the Filgrun, to make sure everything was okay.”
“And probably to tell them more of their history that's been forgotten,” Daniel said excitedly. “I'd love to hear that.”
They'd reviewed all the important highlights of their time on Xanadu, and at this point, General Hammond noticed exhaustion setting in amongst all members of his premier team. He knew that Sam and Teal'c had barely gotten a decent night's sleep while their teammates were missing.
“Okay, people. Take some time to readjust and get some rest. I'll see you back here in three days. Colonel, Doctor Jackson, get someone to drive you home. You both look exhausted.”
He was about to leave then added, “That goes for you, too, Major. I know you haven't been sleeping much recently.”
The major general wondered if they would follow his suggestion.
~I doubt it.~
“Ah, speaking of homes,” Jack said, leaning forward, his face clearly showing concern. He was all too aware of normal procedure.
General Hammond smiled, extremely grateful he had listened to the pleadings of Sam weeks ago.
“Your house, Colonel, and Doctor Jackson's apartment are just as they were, thanks to Major Carter. Now, get some rest. When you return, I'll want a detailed written report from both of you. Dismissed.”
The newly reunited SG-1 walked Teal'c back to his room, arranging to meet at Jack's house in two nights for a team night.
“Thanks for looking after our places, guys,” Daniel said, looking at his two teammates.
“It was primarily MajorCarter who persuaded GeneralHammond to refrain from following normal protocol.”
Jack smiled at his 2IC, impressed she'd been able to get Hammond to go against regulations. He knew it couldn't have been easy, especially as time passed.
“It was nothing.”
“No, Sam,” Daniel squeezed her shoulder, “It was a lot. Thank you.”
“You're welcome, guys. I am just so glad to have you back.”
“As am I.”
Teal'c inclined his head and quirked an eyebrow when Daniel didn't quite manage to smother a yawn.
“Sorry. It's been a long ... however long it's been.”
“Two and a half months,” Sam shook her head as she answered. “Two and a half very long months.”
“It's not so much that,” Jack interrupted, “but the toll those flowers took on your system. You almost died. Don't forget that.”
Jack wanted Daniel to remember that he needed to rest and relax, give his body a chance to regroup.
“You must go home and rest now, DanielJackson.”
Daniel nodded, and the three said quick good-byes to Teal'c before heading for the parking level.
Sam smiled as they entered the elevator.
“Guys, I did my best. I fed the fish, mowed the lawn, even dusted ... and I hope you'll forgive me, Sir, but I ... got in the truck.”
Everyone knew how particular Jack was about his pride and joy, his Ford F-250 truck. He smiled at 2IC.
“Carter, we owe you. You didn't actually drive it, did you?”
Sam gulped, until she saw her CO crook his mouth in a smile.
“Just around the parking level, Sir. Daniel, your car is at ... the colonel's home. I hope you don't mind, but it was ... easier.”
Though Daniel's sporty car was several times the value of Jack's truck, he had often let Sam race, er, drive it. They just rarely told Jack about their noon-time visits to a local race track, usually when they knew Jack would be tied up with meetings all day.
“Good night,” Sam waved when they finally reached the parking level, pointing to where Jack's truck was currently parked.
“See you in two days,” Daniel shouted.
**Come on, Love. Let's go home.**
“Jack, do you realize we just went against orders?” Daniel asked as Jack drove for their home.
“He told us to get a driver.”
Jack coughed, and decided to change the subject.
“Daniel, I could have sworn we were only there for a little over two months.”
“Well ... maybe it was ... I don't know, Jack. I think you're right, though.”
“Then how do we explain the time loss?”
“Well ... I'm not sure how long we were ... connected. Do you have any idea?”
“No, but I know the Stargate was days away.” Jack pulled over to the side and stared at Daniel. “Do you think we could have been in that ... trance for a week?” Daniel shrugged. Jack let out a little smirk. “Geez.”
“Home, sweet, home,” Jack said as he opened the door.
They looked around their house. Both had been relieved and grateful that Sam and Teal'c had kept their properties for them, and Daniel was especially happy to see that his fish were alive and well. He had missed them more than he had ever let on to Jack.
“Hey guys.” His voice was soft, and he discovered a tear or two falling as the fish seemed to come over to the edge of the tank to greet him. “Yeah, I missed you, too,” he said as he gently touched the side of the tank.
He felt a pair of arms snake around him and caress his abdomen. He leaned back into the touch.
“I'm so tired, Jack.”
Daniel nodded, and arm in arm, they walked upstairs.
“Gawd ... pajamas. So soft. I think I've died and gone to Heaven.”
Jack laughed as he looked down at his bare feet, wiggling his toes against the carpet.
“Never thought I'd miss carpet.”
“Lights. Being able to do this ...” Daniel flipped the light switch to off as the two lovers went to get into their bed.
“Bed,” both said at the same time.
They were lying on their backs, looking up at the ceiling, laughing.
“We're actually ... home,” Daniel said softly as the laughter subsided.
“We will be ... when you get over here where you belong.”
Daniel grinned as he moved into his usual position on his Jack pillow.
“It may sound crazy, but I miss them, Jack.”
“I ... miss them, too,” the older man reluctantly agreed. “We had our differences, but in the end, they were cute little konkeys!”
The two laughed and soon fell asleep on the softness of their king-size bed.
At 2 a.m., Jack woke and felt a strong need. He shook his sleeping lover, knowing how Daniel hated to wake up alone.
“Hmm. J'ck? Something wrong?”
“No, Angel, but I'm ... going to go look at the stars for a while. I just wanted you to know. I love you.”
Jack smiled at his so-not-awake lover, placing a tender kiss on his forehead as he got out of bed. He put on his robe and for the first time in over two months, stood on his roof deck and gazed up at the very familiar stars of his world. He stood at the railing, his hands clasping the rails as he looked upward. After a few minutes, he felt Daniel's hands around his waist, the younger man's head leaning against Jack's back.
“It was a good place, Danny, except for those friggin' flowers.”
“The best place. I loved Xanadu.”
“We ... were free there.”
“You laughed, Danny. Do you have any idea how much you laughed and ... played while we were there?”
Things were going to revert back to an Earthly-normal for the two, and already had in some ways, primarily the reminder of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” and their having to not touch at the SGC.
“We were free there,” Daniel echoed Jack's words of moments before.
Jack shifted to put his left arm around Daniel's waist so that they were now arm in arm, looking towards the sky. Silently, they mourned the loss of that freedom, of that happy place, of their Xanadu.
“I miss Cat With Fish,” Daniel said with a smile.
“And J. Fred Muggs,” Jack added, looking instead at the classic dippers that graced the sky.
“Jack, maybe some day, Lya will let us go back, just for a visit. Do you think she might?”
“Anything's possible, Love.”
They stargazed for a while longer and then returned to their bed and the peacefulness of sleep.
“Are you certain it was O'Neill that caught these fish, DanielJackson?” Teal'c asked skeptically.
“Hey! I'll have you know, T, that I caught lots of fish on Xanadu, and I didn't even have a decent fishing rod.”
“Indeed, O'Neill. Perhaps your equipment has been the problem here on Earth.”
“Or the fact that the lake has no fish,” Daniel piped up.
“It does, too, have fish!” Jack protested.
“Not from what I've heard, Sir.”
Sam laughed, glad she had always managed to escape the offers of trips to the cabin for the express purposes of fishing.
After consuming the large steaks Jack had barbecued outside, the four teammates were sharing their experiences and re-establishing the team bonds.
“I can't believe the Asgard couldn't help. I thought the little gray guys knew everything.”
Jack was touched at the efforts that their Earth and alien friends had gone to try and find them.
“Obviously not, Jack. After all, they named a ship after you.”
Daniel grinned at his lover. It felt good to laugh and tease about silly things with their friends again. Ignoring the snort of laughter that came from Sam, Jack glared at his soulmate.
“Just you wait, Dannyboy. We haven't told them yet about your skills as a seamstress.”
Daniel's grin widened. His look became mischievous. The young man hadn't planned on bringing it up, but since Jack so graciously opened the door, he jumped right in.
“So, shall you tell them about your pink skirt or shall I?”
Jack blushed as Sam laughed, and Teal'c's lips twitched in what was effectively a smile for the Jaffa.
“I would very much like to hear about this pink skirt, O'Neill.”
Jack focused on his lover. In his mock-threatening tone, he spoke, “Just you wait, Daniel. You'll get yours.”
**I hope so, Love.**
**Count on it, Angel.**
As they watched the antics and listened to the bickering of their teammates, Sam and Teal'c exchanged a happy look. Everything was back to normal now. SG-1 was about to get back into the saddle once again.
SG-1 had been back in action for a week when the klaxons began to blare, interrupting the pre-mission briefing to a new as yet unexplored planet. The four teammates followed General Hammond to the control room.
Before poor frazzled Sargeant Davis could respond, the iris began to open, and two small figures stepped through the Stargate.
“It's the Nox!”
Jack and Daniel smiled at each other, and then hurried to the gate room to meet Lya ... and Lya.
“And Lya,” Jack added.
“Greetings, Friends,” Lya of the Nox said as she and her namesake walked down the ramp.
“This is your world?” Lya of the Filgrun asked as they reached the Earthlings.
“Well, it's ... it's a cold, gray facility, but outside, it's not a bad place.”
“It is not Xanadu.”
Daniel smiled and looked at Lya of the Nox who remarked, “The Filgrun have renamed their planet. It is now officially known as Xanadu ...”
“In honor of our friends, Jack and Daniel, who saved our world.”
“You saved us,” Daniel had knelt down to be eye level with the furry creature. “Thank you, Lya.”
“You, too,” Jack said to the Nox.
Jack watched as his lover hugged the critter.
“We miss you,” Daniel said softly.
Lya looked around at the others, and then held out her paw.
“Daniel, may I? I need to ... ask?”
He nodded, and Lya went into a quick mind-meld, long enough for Daniel to tell her of the inane policies of their world, explaining what she had already picked up from their demeanor, that in their world, they had to hide their love, but short enough that it didn't overwhelm the small Filgrun.
As Daniel shared his thoughts, Lya shared that her world was safe. They were returning to the place where the Furlings had sent them, but before going back, she had asked her friends, the Nox, to let her see Jack and Daniel one more time.
The entire exchange lasted only moments.
“Hey, what about me?” Jack asked, feigning hurt.
“Yes, Jack, you, too.” Lya motioned to him to kneel down, which he did. “We would never forget you, Jack.”
Lya entered into a mind-meld. She shared the same information she had given to Daniel, adding her gratitude which would never end. She assured Jack they would be safe. They knew now about the Goa'uld, and the Nox had enhanced their warning devices. They would be safe back in their distant galaxy.
She smiled, answering Jack's question in his mind, that yes, they were welcome to return. Lya of the Nox would help them anytime they wanted to visit.
Jack had repeated his thanks, adding that Daniel meant more to him than life. He apologized for his attitude, his anger, his skepticism, but explained that's just who he was. In his thoughts, he told Lya, “He loves me anyway. I don't know why, but he sees beyond all that's in me. You gave him back to me. I owe you and will forever.”
“You are always welcome on Xanadu, and we would be honored to have you return, even if only for a short time,” she spoke out loud at the end of the mind-meld, adding one more thought, “We of the Filgrun are not all surprised at the remarkable ... friendship of our two Tau'ri friends.”
Lya of the Nox spoke, “We must go now. Thank you, Friends.”
She waved her arm and the Stargate engaged. With a last smile, the two females walked back through the event horizon, leaving Jack and Daniel staring at the active Gate. Then, they looked at each other.
**We'll go back, Danny. Someday, we'll go back.**
**I'd like that.**
**I love you.**
Daniel wanted to smile, but there were so many Marines and airmen around, not to mention the general and others in the control room staring down at them as they stood.
**I love you, too.**
Jack sighed, and said a bit regretfully, “Well, back to work.”
Daniel nodded as they started to walk out of the gate room and back to the briefing that had been interrupted.
**We'll never go back, will we?**
**I don't know. I'd like to. It was a great place, and ... Danny, you were free there. It felt so good to see you so uninhibited.**
**I was, wasn't I?**
**Whoopee and woo hoo? Yeah, Love. You were.**
**I would like to go back someday for a visit, but it might threaten their welfare if we led the Goa'uld to them. With the NID always sniffing around, the coordinates could get out, and that could happen.**
**Daniel, the Nox wouldn't let that happen. I'm sure they've built in more safeguards.**
**Exactly. We'll never get back. The Nox like us, Jack, but they aren't easy to get a hold of.**
**Well, we have the memories.**
Suddenly, half way up the stairs, Daniel stopped. He grinned as he made a realization.
**Jack, search your mind. Think about the Filgrun and ... Xanadu, and visiting. Hurry.**
Jack wondered if Daniel had lost his mind until suddenly, he made the connection. He smiled, nodding towards his lover.
**They gave us the coordinates, and the only two worlds where we could Gate to Xanadu.**
**They trust us.**
Daniel looked at Jack and the question he wouldn't even think. Jack nodded. By silent agreement, they wouldn't share this news with anyone. Lya of the Nox had given her namesake permission to pass on the coordinates for Xanadu, which would be accessible from only two Stargates within the Tau'ri reach. Should Jack and Daniel want to visit, they'd have to get to one of those two Gates, but using them, they'd make it through safely.
**We're going back, Danny. Someday, we're going back.**
At peace once again, Jack and Daniel returned to the briefing room. They passed on some of the information the two aliens had shared, but not all. They felt a calm come over them, and as Hammond refocused the conversation to the new mission for SG-1, the two lovers exchanged one more look.
In simultaneous thought, each said, **I love you,** and then returned to the “normal” existence of life at the SGC, content in the knowledge that Xanadu was safe, and they would one day see their Fligrun friends again.
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