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Author: Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, H/C of the mental kind, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  2
Spoilers:  The Fifth Race, Children of the Gods (minor)
Size:  163kb
Written:  June 24-30,July 1,5,15, 2004  Revised for consistency:  January 18-20, 2007
Summary:  When Jack has the knowledge of the Ancients downloaded into his brain, his 'forever' with Daniel is threatened.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “Silver Linings” and “Beach Blanket Blond”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, QuinGem, Drdjlover!

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by Orrymain

Jack entered his lover's apartment, expecting to find Daniel dressed in a 'stuffy' business suit and ready to go to a lecture about ~boring rocks and life before the Simpsons.~  The archaeologist had been talking about the event all week, and had coerced ~okay, so I buckled when he kissed me.  The man knows how to kiss!~ Jack into going to the lecture in Denver with him.

“Daniel?”

The apartment was empty.  He checked the answering machine, but there were no messages.  There was no sign Daniel had been in the apartment all day.

The lovers had spent the previous night at Jack's home, and in the morning had each driven to work in their own vehicles.  They'd had a briefing early in the day, but then Jack had been busy with work the rest of the day.  At 2:30 p.m., he had stuck his head in Daniel's office, just to confirm the plans for the evening.

“Meet you at your place at 1800 hours, right?”

“Mmmm.”

Daniel's nose had been buried in papers, but that was normal for the young man, and Jack assumed the “Mmmm” had been all the acknowledgement he'd need.  Now he wondered if Daniel had even registered his presence.

Jack dialed Daniel's office number, but there wasn't an answer.  Then he tried his lover's cell phone, and still, there was no answer.  He didn't know whether or not to be worried.

~Maybe he's on his way, but why not answer his cell phone?  He's the one always harping on and on about carrying the blasted thing.~

After waiting for an hour, Jack got into his truck and headed to Cheyenne Mountain.  Daniel's car was still parked in it the same space it had been that morning.

~Okay, Danny.  Where are you?~

Jack checked Daniel's office, but it was empty.  He stood impatiently, trying to decide his next move when he caught sight of an envelope on Daniel's desk.  He recognized it as he'd just received one, too.  It was the latest team photograph.

~The science twins!  Carter!~  Jack hurried to Sam's lab, but it was locked.  ~Great time for Carter to get a life.~

Jack stood there, frustrated, as he considered his next move.  At that point, two airmen appeared, walking down the colorless corridor.  One smiled, only it wasn't a greeting expression, but a bit of a teasing smirk.  He saw the airmen eye him suspiciously.

“Something wrong, Airman?” the colonel questioned the military man on the right.

“No, Sir.  Are you looking for Captain Carter, Sir?” the airman asked, his eyes wide.

“Actually, I was looking for Doctor Jackson.  Have you seen him?”

The second airman responded, “I saw him an hour or so ago, Sir, on Level 24.”

“24?” Jack snapped, then saw the surprised looks.  He sighed.  “Thank you.”

Jack headed towards the elevator.  As he turned the corner, he heard the voices of the airman carrying through the air.

“You think Carter stood him up?” the first airman asked.

“Probably.  Smell the cologne?  He's not looking for Doctor Jackson, that's for sure,” the second airman spoke sarcastically.

“Especially not dressed like that.”

Jack suddenly remembered he was dressed in a green silk shirt and black pants, not exactly how the SGC personnel were used to seeing him.  He decided not to think about it, and headed for Level 24.

~Archives.  He's lost in some old mission report or book.~

Sure enough, Jack found Daniel sitting on the floor between two aisles.  There were books and papers all around him.  He had one pen placed behind his right ear, and another in his right hand.

“Oh, Daniel!”

“In a minute, Jack,” Daniel replied, lost in his work to the point that his lover's arrival barely got his attention.

“At least you still know my name.”

“Of course, I know your name,” the intrigued archaeologist replied, having not yet even looked up to acknowledge his soulmate's presence.

“Daniel?”

“Jack, I need to concentrate on this.  Go ... play with an artifact.”

The colonel walked forward, knelt down onto his knees, and whispered, “I'd rather play with you.”

Suddenly, Daniel caught a whiff of his lover.  He looked up, about to reply a bit curtly, when he took in the sight of the man he loved.

~Oh gawd.  Look at him.  Sexy.  Oh, I want.  I want.~

Jack smiled, seeing the look on Daniel's face, and asked, “You approve?”

“Gawd, yes.”

“Good.”  Jack bobbed his head a few times and looked at the scattered materials that were on the floor.  “Danny?  What's all this?”

“Oh!  Jack, it's so exciting.  I think I'm on to something really big.  I mean, it could change everything.”

“Big?”

“Very,” the scholar spoke.

“Bigger than a lecture in Denver?” Jack questioned with raised eyebrows.

Daniel's smile turned into a blank stare, and then his face grew long as he opened his mouth as he admitted, “I forgot.  What time is it?”

Jack held out his watch so his lover could see.

With a sigh, the younger man stated, “I'm sorry, but ... but this is really important.”

“No Denver?” Jack queried, not that disappointed when Daniel shook his head.  “No ... dinner?” he asked, definitely disappointed at his lover's head shake in response.  ~The lecture I can leave, but no Danny for dinner?  That's a different story.~

“Jack, I really need to focus on this.”

Jack sighed, then asked, “When's the last time you ate?”

“Jack, this ...”

His hands clasped together as he continued to kneel, the older man insisted, “No, Daniel.  Look.  Come with me to the commissary.  Eat something.  Then I'll leave you to your ... whatever.”

Daniel sensed the disappointment in his lover, but couldn't quite bring himself to abandon his research.

“This is crucial.  I have to have this ready for the general in the morning.  We have to ...”

“Daniel.  You can't make a decent presentation if you fall over from lack of food, not to mention sleep.  I won't even try for that one, but you are going to eat while I'm here.”

Daniel smiled as he spoke, “Dictator.”

“That's me.  Let's go,” Jack instructed.  He stood and extended his hand to his lover, helping him up.  ~I wonder what the pay is for archaeologist sitting?~  He smiled as he got the butt-end view of his lover picking up his materials.  ~Excellent pay; the best~  As he helped to collect a few of the books, he asked, “Daniel, wouldn't it be more comfortable in your office?”

The young man smiled, looking around at the scattered mess, and replied, “I guess I got so excited that I couldn't wait to ...”

Jack shook his head as he took charge of his workaholic soulmate, “Let's drop these off, and then get something to eat, and we are NOT talking about ... whatever this is.”

Jack knew given the slightest opportunity Daniel would launch into full lecture mode about whatever was being researched.  It's not that he wasn't curious.  He was.  Daniel had been looking forward to the lecture big time, and this whatever it was would have to be extremely important to get the scientist's mind away from the Denver event.

However, Jack wanted Daniel to relax, just for thirty minutes or so.  He knew it would help to clear his mind and then sharpen it for the all-nighter to come.  So, the two lovers talked about other things as they ate, and then Jack walked the younger man to his office.

After securing the room for privacy, Jack engulfed his partner with love, his hands pressing Daniel to him, his lips meshed against the younger man.

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too, and ... gawd, you look so sexy and ... I wish ... I mean, I'm sorry because I ... I really do ... I want you.”

Jack smiled, then slipped his tongue inside Daniel's mouth, exploring fully.  His hands slid down to rub his lover's rear.  After another long, deep kiss, Jack rested his forehead against Daniel's.  They said nothing, just sharing the moment in silence.

“I'd better go,” Jack spoke with regret.  “Danny, please sleep, just for a little bit.”

“I will, for a little bit ... later.  Jack, I need you to support me on this,” the younger man requested.

The colonel nodded, and after another kiss, headed for the door.  As he unlocked it, Daniel spoke again.

“Uh, Jack, you know that concert we're going to on Saturday?”

Jack was afraid Daniel wanted to cancel their plans.  Just like the lecture, this was something he had been looking forward to for quite a while.

“Yeah?”

“Wear that, only ... unbutton the ...” Daniel pointed at Jack's neck “... the ... there.”

Daniel smiled shyly, looking down.  As for Jack, he suddenly felt like he'd found the fountain of youth.

“You have a deal.”

“Three ...”

“Three?” the colonel questioned, not having a clue what his lover was trying to communicate.

“Buttons.  I like it ... when, uh ...” Daniel motioned again towards Jack's shirt, “three aren't ...”

Jack positively beamed.  In fact, he moved forward and devoured Daniel again.

“I love you.  I'll see you tomorrow morning.”

“Too long.  Jack, could you ... never mind.  I'll see you tomorrow,” Daniel said, not wanting to bother his lover with selfish needs and desires.

Jack finally left, and it wasn't until he was headed home, that he figured out what Daniel was going to ask.  His shy lover was horrible at stating his wants.  He had barely been able to make the button request, something that excited Jack as he thought about it.  Just knowing Daniel wanted him, really wanted him, set him on fire.

~I know what you want, Love.  Your wish is my command.  Corny, but true.~

Jack began to whistle as he continued his drive home.

====

Daniel yawned as he glanced at his watch.  He blinked a few times, having to focus to make out the time -- 2:18 a.m.  He stood up to stretch, realizing as he did that he hadn't moved from his desk since Jack had left several hours earlier.

The thought of Jack brought a wicked, seductive grin to Daniel as he visualized his lover.  He closed his eyes, imagining Jack's touch.  He felt the strong hands snake under his black tee-shirt and caress.  Daniel moaned and moved his neck to give Jack more access as he felt the string of tender kisses placed there.

Suddenly, Daniel's head straightened, his eyes opening wide as he acknowledged, “I'm losing my mind.”

“No, you're not.”

Daniel turned and stared at Jack as if he were a prized Christmas present.

“Jack?”

“I'm here as requested, Doctor Jackson,” a smug and happy Jack O'Neill responded.

“Requested?”

“Yup,” Jack said, grinning as he approached his Love.  “You remember our discussion earlier.  I believe you said you'd get some sleep.”

Jack didn't need to say the rest.  Daniel knew and happily slid into his lover's arms.

“Tired, but so much to do.  Jack?”

“I promise, Love.”

Jack led Daniel over to the cot in his office, having already turned off the recording devices and locked the door, something Daniel never noticed being done as he was so lost in his lust for the older man.  They lay on the cot in their favorite position, Jack on his back, Daniel resting on his chest, his left leg hooked in between Jack's.  The older man held his lover's left hand, massaging gently.

In less than a minute, Daniel was asleep, trusting Jack in so many ways.

~My Danny.  This beats some ole lecture by miles.~

====

Two hours later, Jack knew it was time to honor that trust.  Part of him wanted to let Daniel sleep.  He had already thought of at least twenty excuses he could give the younger man, but it always came back to the issue of trust.

Reluctantly, Jack woke his lover, beginning with a kiss to his head.  Then, he ran his fingers through Daniel's shaggy hair which was still a blond from their recent trip, and let the tips of his fingers trace the young man's earlobe.

Daniel giggled, making Jack laugh.  Daniel was beginning to laugh more, and now, sometimes, he even giggled, something the young man always denied.  It still wasn't as much as Jack would like, but it was more than before which was virtually nothing.

“Daniel?”

“Sleep'ng,” the archaeologist mumbled, barely conscious of the mild shaking of his body by his partner.

Jack responded, “And I'd love to let you sleep, but you made me promise.  Some alien something or another.”

“Oh ... yeah,” Daniel said, yawning as he shifted just a tad.  He looked up at Jack with a tad bit of surprise in his eyes.  “You didn't let me sleep.”

“Couldn't.”

Daniel asked, “Why not?  I mean, I didn't want you to, but ... you, being you ...”

“Because you trusted me, Angel,” Jack answered truthfully.  “I'll never let you down.”

“Jack?”

“I love you.”

“Gawd, I love you, too ... so freakin' much.”

Daniel placed a huge kiss on Jack that threatened both of their resolves, but Jack knew this research was something special to Daniel, so he did his best to quell their growing passion.

“Listen, Love, if you want me, you've got me, but if you want to go back to work, you still get me ... just later.”

“Thank you.”

Daniel leaned in to kiss Jack once more before drawing back.  The two got up and, together, they freshened up, after which they spoke a long goodbye at the door of Daniel's office.

“Jack, I mean it.  You didn't have to do this.”

“Yes, I did.  Without me here to force the issue, you might have slept for thirty minutes, and it wouldn't have been peaceful.  I'm here to make your life better.”

“You do,” Daniel said as his fingers walked from Jack's jaw line down to the his shirt.  “Three buttons,” he said softly, leaning in to kiss the bare chest that shone through.

“I'd better get out of here ... Blondie!” Jack teased, needing the humorous assist to help shift the mood.

“Yeah, you'd better or ...” Daniel had agreed, his desire for Jack growing by the second, until the 'Blondie' comment sank in.  “Blondie?”

“Well,” Jack pulled on sections of Daniel's long hair, “looks blond to me, Love.”

“I hate my hair,” Daniel pouted.

Jack laughed as he pulled his lover in for an embrace.  Daniel's hair had bleached blond from spending an incredibly long amount of time on the beach.  He had originally blamed Jack until his lover pointed out that the trip was never intended as a vacation and was, in fact, a business one that Daniel managed to finagle permission from Hammond to go on.  While Jack was inside all day, the young man had been lounging, and whenever they were together, they were inside, in the dark, making love.  Jack hadn't become aware of the hair change until it was too late.

Realizing his brown locks were suddenly blond had been traumatic for Daniel, but Jack had used hair dye and that had helped a little.  Now it was just waiting for the normal color to return.  In the meantime, Jack had been busy fending off Casey Hemmings, the male nurse who had a big desire to get closer to Jack's archaeologist.  Daniel was clueless about Casey's intense interest, but Jack knew, and Casey knew about Jack ... the glares and looks of 'murder' in Jack's eyes whenever Casey was around had made it obvious from the beginning.

“It'll be back to normal soon.  I promise.”

“And you always keep your promises,” Daniel intoned softly, enjoying Jack's caress against his back.

It didn't make sense.  Jack couldn't control things like Daniel's hair color, and yet, the young man believed his soulmate.  If Jack said it would be okay, then Daniel knew it would be.

“Yes, I do,” Jack stated with certainty and then placed a kiss on Daniel's neck.  Then he walked to the door, unlocked it, and turned to look at Daniel one more time.  “By the way, before I came in here earlier, I checked the calendar.  Briefing is set for 1030 hours.  Is that too early?”

“You ... you set ... you set up a time?”

“Isn't that what you wanted?”

“Yes, but I thought I'd have to talk to General Hammond first and ...”

“1030.  It'll give everyone a chance to review your pre-mission report.  I love you.”

“Love you.”

Jack exited while he could.  Another ten seconds, and his best intentions would have been lost.  Daniel, meanwhile, stood with a smile glued to his face.  He rubbed his arms for a second, thinking about his luck in finding someone like Jack who actually seemed to love him, and understand all his quirks.  No matter what, Jack seemed to always know what to do or say, or how to right something that had gone wrong.

~My Jack.  He's better than a lecture; he's better than ... everything.~

Daniel sighed contentedly and then returned to his project.  He needed to verify his conclusions one more time.

====

“Hey!” Daniel greeted as he unexpectedly entered his soulmate's office.

“Daniel!”

Jack's tone was upbeat.  He hadn't expected to see his lover until the briefing.  Normally, when Daniel was working on something like this, he often had his nose buried in his research until the briefing started, often times arriving a minute or two late.

Daniel smiled, seeing Jack's delight at his presence, and expressed, “I, uh, thought we'd have some breakfast ... if you haven't eaten yet.”

Jack's smile grew as he questioned, “All done and ready for your presentation?”

“Yeah.  I think that ... nap in the middle of the night helped a lot.”

“Breakfast it is,” Jack quipped happily.

The two headed for the commissary to enjoy their meal.  Actually, they just wanted to enjoy each other, but that would have to wait until the opportunity presented itself; hopefully, later that day.

Daniel decided not to tell Jack that he had rushed through his preliminary report, wanting to surprise him with their breakfast.  In the end, he had written just an outline of the relevant events and attached summarized copies of the mission report done after their experience on Ernest's Planet, suggesting they review it to refresh their memories on the subject matter at hand.

The archaeologist knew how pleased Jack would be with the breakfast surprise, and as they walked to the mess and gathered their food, he knew he'd made the right decision.  Jack's facial expression, the jovial quality of his tone of voice, and the light spring in his step all proved to the archaeologist that sacrificing a detailed report for breakfast with Jack had definitely been the right choice to make.

Jack, on the other hand, happily filled up his plate for his second morning meal of the day, deciding that his lover didn't need to know that he had stopped by McDonald's on the way to work.  Something told Jack that Daniel had planned this, and no way was he going to ruin it.  Besides, he was always hungry.  He was going to enjoy every bite of this meal, and Daniel would be none the wiser.

They sat across from each other in the almost-full commissary, choosing one of the corner tables for two, neither wanting company.  Their eyes locked.  Jack looked around the room at all the potential gossipers.  Still, he wanted a touch, and he knew Daniel did, too.

Jack eyed the salt, and, on cue, both reached for it at the same time, covering their covert finger and hand fondling with babble about clumsiness and condiments.  Not nearly satisfied, but knowing that's all they could afford, the two began to chat about whatever came to mind.

“Hey, your hair is better this morning,” Jack teased.

“Don't start, Jack,” Daniel scolded lightly.  “It's horrible.  It looks like I streaked it or something.”

“I like it,” Jack smirked.

“You don't count,” Daniel retorted.

“Oh, I don't?  I am your CO.”

“I'm not military.”

“I'm still your CO.”

“Only because I ...” Daniel made the sweeping look around the room this time, lowering his voice when he continued.  “... chose you.”

“Chose?  You did?”

“Remember?  During the briefing when we came back from Abydos.  I insisted on being on SG-1.  I could have gone with Kawalsky.”  When Jack laughed, he insisted, “I could have.”  Hearing his disbelieving lover snorted while eating a bite of oatmeal, Daniel whined, “Jaaack!”

**I love you, Danny.**

**You just love this ridiculous blond hair.**

**It's only blond ... sometimes.**

Daniel gave his lover a warning look, but then he smiled, and they went on to another conversation.

“Thanks for the invitation,” Jack said when their morning meal was done.

“You can thank me later,” Daniel whispered, his tongue slipping out to wet his lips just slightly.

“Count on it,” Jack promised as the lovers parted  to get their things together for the upcoming briefing.

====

“Colonel, a moment, please,” Hammond beckoned, calling Jack into his office.  It was still a few minutes before the briefing was scheduled to begin.  “Sit down, Jack.”

As Jack sat, he asked, “Is something wrong, General?”

Still standing, the leader of the SGC answered without directly answering the question, saying, “I noticed this briefing was added to the schedule very late.”

“Yes, Sir,” the colonel acknowledged.  “I added it before I left,” he explained, conveniently leaving out any reference to the thought of 'yesterday' or 'last night'.

“I was here late, Jack.”

Jack rubbed his clasped hands together and cleared his throat as he looked off to the side, then back at the general, giving him a small smile.

--

“I wonder what that's about?” Sam asked, looking through the window into the general's office.

“I have no idea,“ Daniel responded.

“O'Neill appears to be uncomfortable,” Teal'c opined.

“Hand caught in the cookie jar?” Sam chuckled.

“Apparently,” Daniel responded.  ~I hope whatever it is doesn't interfere with this mission, or the concert on Saturday.~

--

“I had to come back to the base, and I added it then,” Jack stated, sensing his teammates' eyes were subtly focused towards the office.

“Last night?” Hammond questioned.  With a consummate look of being all-knowing, the major general informed his second-in-command, “I was here until after midnight, Colonel.”  He moved to the front of his desk and leaned back against it slightly.  “Look, Jack, I don't have any objections to your adding this to the schedule.  My concern is the abundance of hours that SG-1 is putting in.  I know Doctor Jackson was still here when I left, and Captain Carter was here until at least 2200 last night.  Jack, I want your team to get adequate rest.  You're all too valuable to this organization to start making mistakes or risk losing you because you're tired.”

“I understand, Sir.”

“Good,” Hammond said as he stood up.  “Let's see what Doctor Jackson has for us.”

Jack nodded, and the two joined the rest of SG-1 in the briefing room.

**Is everything okay?** Daniel asked via their special communication link.

**He doesn't want you working so hard.**

**What?**

**SG-1 -- too many hours.  You and Carter,** Jack spoke in abbreviated sentences, knowing the general was about to get things started.

**Oh.**

“Let's begin, people,” Hammond ordered, getting the team's attention and nodding in Daniel's direction.

“Of course.”  Daniel walked over and took a position next to the computer.  He spoke quickly, his enthusiasm barely contained.  “When we found Ernest Littlefield on PB2-908, we also discovered a repository of information.”

“Meaning of life sort of stuff,” Jack acknowledged, trying to help Daniel steer the conversation by clarifying the importance of Daniel's opening statement.

As a projection screen displayed pictures of the four languages from Ernest's planet, Daniel responded, “Yes.  Based on the four distinct alien languages inscribed in the wall, we concluded it was some sort of meeting place where these four races would ...”

The general didn't want a rehash of reports that they all should have read before the briefing had begun.  He could tell from Daniel's behavior, the rapid speech, the look of anticipation in eyes, and the nervous twirling of his pen, that this was important to the young man.  He decided to hurry things along.

“We all reread the mission reports, Doctor Jackson.”

“Okay, right.  Well, two days ago the probe sent back this image from P3R-272.”  Pointing to a group of symbols that appeared in a circle on his computer monitor, Daniel continued, “Now if you look closely, you'll see that the symbols match one of the inscriptions from the meeting place on Ernest's planet.”  He paused, hoping his teammates and the general would catch on.  He looked around the room, full of hope, but only blank stares were returned.  “So you realize what this means?”

“You know what the circle of symbols says?” the general asked.

~They don't get it.~  Daniel was a little disappointed, but he carried on.  His voice echoed his feelings, a bit of both disbelief and disappointment that no one realized the value of the writings evident in his tone.  “No, I don't.  I don't even know what it sounds like, but based on the Norse rune at the bottom of this inscription, I'm positive that one of the four races in the alliance is Thor's race, the Asgard.  Obviously, that would make the aliens that belong to this language their allies.”

The others began to realize the potential impact of Daniel's discovery.

Teal'c commented, “I do believe this world is worth exploring DanielJackson.”

“That it is,” Jack concurred.  ~So this is why you were so excited.  Okay, I guess it was worth one cancelled date, but just one.  I have ... needs.~  Jack smiled at his lover.  ~And that need is you.~

“Very well.  SG-1, you have a go to P3R-272.  Gear up and report to the gate room in forty-five minutes.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Daniel said, slightly bowing his head.  As the others filed out, Daniel looked at Jack, “And thank you, too.”

“You did all the work, and I do agree.  This could be important stuff ... as long as there's really something there.”

“Give it a chance, Jack.”

“I am.  Meet you in the locker room,” the older man stated as he headed for the exit.

====

Not quite an hour later, SG-1 walked into a small, empty, dark room with small amounts of light filtering through the ceiling above them.  There was no apparent exit except for the Stargate.  A circular ring made up of symbols was embedded on the floor.  They walked around the room, looking for anything that might be a clue that something, anything, was there.

“Very strange.  Breathable air, moderate temperature, but where's the life support coming from?” Sam asked.

No one had the answer.

~Booooooring!~  Finally, Jack decided they'd been there long enough.  There just wasn't even anything to investigate.  He whined, “Well, this was an intergalactic waste of time.”

Sam disagreed, immediately speaking up with, “Well, wait a minute, Sir.  Where's the power for the lights coming from?  What's the point of this place?”

Suddenly, Daniel called out in a raised voice, “Hello!  Hello!  I'm Daniel Jackson.  We're peaceful explorers from the planet Earth.”

The archaeologist was looking upwards, hoping someone would respond.

Jack looked at his lover, full of doubt at the greeting, and questioned silently, **Danny, come on.  Don't you think that's a little much?**

Daniel chose to respond verbally, seeing that Jack wasn't the only one looking at him strangely, and explained calmly, “It was worth a try.”

A bit perturbed, Jack asked, “Daniel, how long you figure we oughta hang out here and scratch our cosmic heads?”

“Well, we can't just give up.”

“Why not?  Let's go home,” the colonel ordered.  He walked towards the Stargate, stepping over the circle of symbols of the floor.  Suddenly, a shrill noise was heard, and a large device materialized on the wall.  It was eye-level with ridge-like, circular sections.  “Okay, that's something.”

Teal'c approached the object and stared into some kind of the viewer that was at the center of it.

“What do you see?” Daniel inquired.

“Blackness, filled with colored lights.”

Jack moved forward, taking Teal'c's place.  He placed his hands on both sides of the alien device and stared into the viewer.  All of a sudden, an array of blue, orange, and white lights began to flicker.  The device morphed, the circular sections expanding outward, like a zoom lens on a camera.  Jack startled, backing up slightly.

Then, without warning, the device morphed again, two hand-like extensions reaching out to grip Jack's head, forcing him to remain in place within the object's grasp.  He raised his hands to try and remove the mechanical hands, but had no luck in breaking free.

As the team stood by helplessly, Jack remained locked in place.  The colors inside the device's viewer gave way to a growing, bright whiteness until Jack cried out.  He slumped to the floor at the same time that the device returned to its original form.

Daniel and Sam rushed to his side.

“Jack?” Daniel called out.  **Jack, talk to me!**

A few moments later, Daniel dialed the Stargate.

====

As Teal'c carried SG-1's leader through the Stargate, Sam called out, “We need a med team here *stat*!”

Within moments, the standby team entered, and Janet immediately began to examine the unconscious colonel.

“Doctor Jackson, what happened?” Hammond asked after hurrying into the gate room.  “You just left a few minutes ago.”

Janet called out, “He has a steady heartbeat and pulse, but he's not responding to other stimuli.  Let's get him to the infirmary.”

As he watched the medical team begin to wheel his lover out of the gate room, he longed to go with them.  It was his right as Jack's significant other.

~I hate the military and their ... stupid rules.~

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond called out more strongly.

“Uh, Sir, there was a ...” Daniel looked over again at Janet and her team as they exited the room.

Hammond saw the way the archaeologist was clutching his boonie, and it was obvious, his mind was on Jack.  The general knew the friendship between Jack and Daniel was a close one.

“That's all right, Son.  Go check on Colonel O'Neill.  I'll get a report from Captain Carter.”

“Thank you, General,” Daniel spoke, hurrying out of the room before Hammond had he even got his sentence out.

“Captain!” Hammond called out to Sam, motioning to her.

Sam had been standing with Teal'c, talking about what they'd just scene.  Hearing her rank, she walked over to the general and began to fill him in on the strange device that had attacked her CO.

====

“Janet?” Daniel called out as he entered the infirmary.  “How is he?”

“I don't know, Daniel.  His vitals are stable, but he's withdrawn, virtually catatonic.”

“Catatonic?  But ... he'll be okay ... right?”

“I'm going to run some tests.”  Janet walked up to Daniel and placed her hand on his left forearm.  “I won't know anything for a little while.  Why don't you relax for a bit?”  Daniel just stared at Jack, lying on one of the hospital beds.  “Daniel, give me time.”

The anxious man nodded and slowly backed out of the infirmary to put away his gear and change.

====

When Daniel returned to the medical area of the Mountain just fifteen minutes later, Janet just shook her head, sighing, ~That's your definition of giving me time?  You couldn't have been gone more than twenty minutes max.  You and the colonel are enough to drive me insane.  Good thing I like you both.~

The archaeologist stood near the wall, his arms folded tightly across his chest, and watched silently as Janet continue her testing.

**Jack?  Please, Jack.**

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

“He's ...” Daniel looked over at his lover and shrugged.

At that moment, Janet walked over to the two teammates and stated, “Well, I can't find anything unusual except that he's catatonic.  The problem is that there is no way of knowing how long he might remain in this condition.”

“So, what do we do?” Daniel asked.

“We wait.  For now, it's all we can do,” the physician opined.

“Okay.”  Daniel nodded, walked over to Jack's bed, and sat down on the stool that was next to it.  **I'll wait forever, but please, Jack, don't let it be forever.**

====

Twenty minutes later, Daniel heard a groan.  He leaned forward, hope filling his heart.

“Jack?”

“Daniel?  What ... what happened?” Jack queried, raising his left hand to his head and then rubbing his forehead.

“I'm not sure.  I need to get Janet,” Daniel said as he stood.  “Jack ...”

“I'm okay, Danny.”

Daniel went to Janet's office, where she was reviewing possibilities with Sam.

“Janet, he's awake.  He seems fine.”

In an instant, Janet rose and sprinted to Jack's bedside, Daniel and Sam following her.

“Hey, stop poking me,” Jack complained as the SGC's Chief of Medicine began her examination.

Daniel smiled, thinking, ~He's okay!~

Just then, an airman entered with a request from a member of Daniel's staff for him to come and help them with a problem they were having identifying the origin of a relic recently recovered from a dig SG-11 had been on.

**Jack?**

**Go on, Danny.  I'm fine.  I'll come by your office when the Doc gives me my walking papers.**

He was still a little hesitant, not wanting Jack to be alone, but Sam was there, so Daniel figured it would be okay, and excused himself.

“Now, Colonel, let's get on with this examination.”

“You just want to get back at me for winning that bet last week,” Jack accused the smirking physician.

“Okay.  See you later, Jack.”  **And I'll be waiting.**

Janet grinned, and, as he stood by the doorway, so did Daniel, who hadn't quite been able to walk out the door.  He needed one more look, one more sign that Jack was okay, and now that he had it, he headed off to help his staff member.

====

“Jack, what are you doing?” Daniel asked, surprised at where he'd discovered the leader of SG-1.

“I don't know.  Just doodling,” Jack responded as he continued to draw.

Daniel had found his lover sitting by their lockers.  He was drawing something on a small piece of paper.  Normally, the behavior and response wouldn't have caused him to be alarmed, but when they had gone home last night, Jack had been distracted, not distant, but just off somehow.  The scientist really couldn't put a finger on what was disturbing him, but even as they snuggled next to the fire during a make-out session, he'd gotten an uneasy feeling.

“Looks like a machine of some kind.”

“It's not right,” Jack said, tearing up the paper and throwing it away.

Daniel sat down on the bench next to Jack and inquired, “Are you okay?”

“Daniel, I'm fine.”

“Okay, well ... then ... why didn't you come to my office?” the younger man asked.  “We were going to decide on ... you know,” he reminded about a private matter between the two, something he didn't want to be overheard.

“Oops.  Forgot,” Jack said casually, causing his lover's concern to escalate.

**Jack, are you mad at me?**

The older man had started a new scribble, but Daniel's words surprised him.  He looked up and shook his head.

“Of course not.”

Confused, Daniel stood, saying, “Okay.  Well, the general wants to do the debriefing now.”

Jack nodded, replying, “Be right there.”

“Actually, he wanted to do it fifteen minutes ago.  I've been looking for you.”

“No patience,” Jack mumbled, though the message was loud and clear.  He tore up the latest drawing, mumbling, “Not right, either,” and then followed Daniel to the briefing room.

====

Once there, Jack immediately took the large notepad and began to draw again.

~Yeah, it was the size.  This'll work.  Work for what?~  Jack had no idea what he was sketching, but he also knew he had to draw it.  He was only half paying attention to the meeting, wanting to leave and concentrate on the ~whatever this is.~

“So what caused this device to appear?” Hammond asked about the device from the planet.

“We're not sure,” Daniel answered quickly.

Teal'c added, “ColonelO'Neill passed through the circle on the floor just before the device appeared.  I was the first to look into it.”

“What did you see?” the general asked.

~Let's get this over with already,~ Jack thought anxiously.  “Lights.  He saw lights.”  His tone was a robotic sing-song, prompting the others to stare at  him.  Defensively, he added, “That's what he said he saw -- lights.  We done?”

Everyone was surprised by Jack's attitude, and they all looked at him a bit strangely.

Hammond was a bit perturbed as well as he answered, “Not exactly.  Why didn't the device react to Teal'c the same way as it did to you?”

“I don't know,” Jack answered.

“Perhaps because I am a Jaffa,” Teal'c proposed.

Sam concurred, saying, “We've seen alien technologies that have been sensitive to the presence of a Goa'uld before, like Thor's Hammer.”

Impatiently, Jack commented, “Teal'c looked.  I looked.  It grabbed my head.  I passed out.  I came to.  We're here.  We're home.  Can we go?”

The words were spoken sarcastically, in a rhythmic pattern, Jack's irritation at being in the meeting obvious to all.  They inquired about his health, but he assured them he was fine.

~Jack's impatient, but not like this.~  Hammond, however, still wasn't convinced.  He had to ask again.  “Colonel, are you sure you're okay?”

“I am absolutely fine.  There is nothing cruvus with me.”  There was an uncomfortable pause as Jack realized he was being stared at by his teammates and the general.  “What?”

~Okay.~  Daniel rubbed the thumb of his right hand behind his ear as he processed Jack's words.  Then, he explained, “You just said there's nothing 'cruvus' with you.”

“I did not,” Jack argued.

“Yes, you did.”

“No, I didn't.”

“Yes, you did.”

“Didn't.”

“Did.”

“Didn't.”

“Did.”

“Cruvus, what is that?” Jack asked incredulously.

“I don't know,” Daniel answered.  “Um ... well, I'm guessing in the context of what you're saying you were trying to say that there's nothing wrong with you.”

~Maybe I should have been worried about Jack putting in too many hours.~  The general had watched the banter between the two men as if it had been a verbal tennis match.  Now that the volleys had subsided, he suggested, “Why don't you take some time to relax, Colonel.  You're dismissed, but do me a favor and stay on the base.”

Jack methodically tore his drawing from the pad as he prepared to leave.

**Jack, I'm worried about you.**

**I'm ... fine.**

Jack stared at Daniel before finally rising and exiting the room.  The people he left behind were worried, no one having a clue what was causing the strange behavior and speech of SG-1's leader.

“Keep an eye on him,” Hammond ordered the team.  Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c stared at one another, and then Hammond continued.  “Is there anything else we need to discuss right now?”

“No, Sir, I don't think so,” Sam responded.

“I'm gonna go find Jack,” Daniel said to his friends as they walked out.

“Maybe we should take turns watching him,” Sam suggested.

“He's not under arrest, Sam,” Daniel interjected protectively.

“All I meant was ...”

Sighing, the archaeologist spoke, “I know.  I'm sorry, Sam.”

“I agree with CaptainCarter.  O'Neill is behaving strangely,” Teal'c opined.

Seeing Daniel nod, Sam jumped in, “Okay, well, I need to run a check of a new computer program.

“And I have some research to do,” Daniel admitted.  ~After I check on Jack.~

“Then I shall take the first watch,” Teal'c volunteered.

~Me, first.~  Daniel nodded, but said, “Okay, but I need to talk to Jack for a few minutes, so how about I find him and then I'll let you know where he is when I'm done?”

“As you wish, DanielJackson.”

====

“Jack.  What's going on with you?”  Daniel had gone to Jack's office, finding his lover staring at the drawing he had made during the briefing.  When Jack didn't respond, Daniel looked over his shoulder to see the picture.  “What's that?”

“Daniel?” Jack responded, as if just now noticing the younger man had entered the room.  Quickly, though, he processed the previous minute and answered, “It's nothing.  Actually, I don't know what it is.  Maybe I saw it in a movie.”

“Jack.”

Insistently, Jack said, “Daniel, I'm fine, and I wish everyone would stop watching me like I have warts on my nose or something.”

“You're acting ... strangely.”

“Normal, then,” Jack said with a sarcastic edge to his voice.

“Jack!”

“Daniel, I told you.  There's nothing ...” Jack began.

“Cruvus?  Nothing cruvus with you!” Daniel challenged forcefully.

“I probably heard that on some sci-fi show.  Come on, Daniel.  Don't make out like I'm suddenly ...”

“Suddenly what?  An alien?  Jack, you're not acting like yourself, and you haven't been since that thing grabbed your head and ... and ... I don't know, did whatever it did to you.  I'm ...” Daniel stopped, hugging himself even tighter with his crossed arms.  He looked away from Jack, and then turned and walked a few steps in the opposite direction.  ~Something's wrong.~

“Daniel, I promise.  I'm fine.”

Daniel turned, saying softly, “Don't make promises you can't keep.  Look, the general is concerned, and so are we, so ...”

“Oh, I'm about to be babysat.”

“If you want to call it that, you can,” Daniel replied, his stance steady as he answered.

“Who's first?”

“Teal'c.”

“Good,” Jack said lightheartedly.  “I'll teach him how to box; been wanting to do that for a while anyway.  Tell him to meet me in the exercise room.”

Jack brushed by Daniel, leaving him alone in the office.  Daniel sighed.  The conversation hadn't been even close to what he had intended.  Instead of both comforting and being comforted, he was left with a feeling of discord and discontent.  He hoped Jack was right; that his lover was okay.  Still, he was uncomfortable about recent events.

With a sigh, Daniel contacted Teal'c with Jack's message and then left to return to his own tasks.

====

In the exercise room, Jack attempted to teach Teal'c how to box.  The colonel wore protective padding over his face, while the Jaffa wore only the regulation boxing gloves.  Jack began to move around the area, sparring.  Teal'c, however, stood straight, not moving.

“Come on, Teal'c, you've gotta move around a little bit.  You've gotta dance.”

“I do not understand, O'Neill.  Are we preparing to dance or to do battle?”

“Teal'c, if you don't move around, you're a sittin' duck.  You're a target.”

Jack connected with a hit, but his teammate barely reacted, until he made an easy, smooth motion, decking Jack with a right punch.  Jack got back up to his feet, talking the entire time.

“Keep your hands up.  You gotta keep moving your ... your feet moving and, uh, bend your cozars.  Keep your cozars bent there.”

“I am unfamiliar with that word.”

“What?  Cozars?”  Seeing Teal'c's stare, Jack repeated,  “Cozars.  You gotta bend your cozars.”

Observing Jack's actions, Teal'c surmised, “I believe you are referring to your legs, O'Neill.”

~Legs?~  Jack took in Teal'c's words.  Something was wrong, very wrong.  ~No, that can't be right.  I didn't say that.  There's nothing cruvus with ... oh crap.~  Realizing the seriousness of the situation, Jack barked, “Let's get out of here,” and headed for the showers.

====

After showering and changing back into BDUs, Jack stared at his locker, lost in his thoughts.  He was angry at whatever was happening to him.  He didn't know how to fight it, and that was the cause of his fear.  A physical fight he could handle, but something messing with his mind was beyond his control.

“O'Neill, should we not see DoctorFraiser?”

“No, *we* should not,” Jack answered antagonistically.  He sighed with regret at his tone before explaining, “It's Daniel we need to see.”  He slammed his locker door and strode purposefully for Daniel's office.  ~Daniel can fix this.  It's right up his alley -- words!  No one knows more about words than My Danny.~

The colonel set a quick pace through the SGC corridors, his growing irritation at what was happening fueling his speed.  By the time he reached Daniel's office, he had become even more upset at the strange turn of events.

Daniel had just sat back down at his desk, preparing to review some images and readouts for his research, when Jack walked in, demanding his lover's attention.  Without even saying 'hello' first, Jack anxiously strode over to Daniel's desk, demanding, not asking, for answers, as if the linguist could solve the problem in two minutes' time.  It wasn't really the way he intended his words to come out, but Jack did believe Daniel could solve the mystery, and he was already annoyed at himself for being a victim to the alien device.

Daniel glanced at Teal'c, who had followed Jack inside the office and now stood near Daniel's work table and inquired as to what was happening.

“Well, apparently, I have lost the falatus to speak properly.”  As he looked at Teal'c, Jack realized he had spoken yet another unfamiliar word.  With a bit of desperation in his voice, he added, “That wasn't a joke; I didn't do that on purpose.”

Teal'c explained, “Several times now ColonelO'Neill has used strange words in place of common terms.”

Daniel looked at Jack, asking, “Okay, wh...what was that word you just used?”

Jack was feeling lost, having never battled anything quite like this before.  He looked to Teal'c to answer, and he did.

“I believe it was falatus.”

“Okay, sounds kinda close to Medieval Latin,” Daniel interpreted as he retrieved his Latin dictionary from another nearby table.  “So, possibly a derivation, maybe even a root.  'Faculatus' is Latin for ability.  You said you've 'lost the falatus to speak properly'.”

~This is crazy; I must be dreaming,~ Jack thought.  As his lover researched the word, Jack stared at the monitor near Daniel's desk.  It displayed the circular pattern of symbols that the linguist had mentioned in the briefing.  He heard himself say, “Noo ani anqueetas.”

Daniel looked up, stunned at what he had heard, and asked, “What?”

~Why is he asking me?~  Jack looked over at the younger man.  A bit hesitantly, he repeated, “Noo ani anqueetas.”  Then, looking over at the screen again, added, “Hic qua videeum.”

~That's incredible!  It can't be ... can it?~  Daniel walked behind his lover, over to the monitor.  Pointing at the writing, he asked, “Jack, are you reading this?”

~How can I be?~  Jack was staring at the floor.  He felt very uncomfortable.  Irritated at something he didn't understand, he answered, “I don't know.  You tell me.”  His voice was almost a desperate cry for Daniel to explain what was going on inside his mind.  ~Crap!~

“Well, I ... I don't know.  I haven't even been able to associate sounds to the symbols.  Do you know what this means?”

Daniel saw how frustrated Jack suddenly was.  The colonel rubbed his eyes, and his voice was cracked and distressed.  Daniel was trying to understand the strangeness of it all as Jack spoke.

“No!  I'm just looking at it, and the words just pop right into my fron,” Jack expressed in a near frantic tone.

As Daniel just stared in amazement in that guppy look that normally filled him with amusement, Jack looked over at Teal'c for a second and then asked pleadingly, “Does anybody think this is odd?”

There was a vulnerability there.  Jack was scared, feeling totally out of control at what was happening to him.

Daniel realized this and suggested, “Okay, well, Teal'c, maybe you should go inform General Hammond about Jack's ... situation, and, um, I'll take him to the infirmary.  Maybe Janet can find out something.”

“Hello!  I'm still here, you know.”

“Believe me, Jack, I know.  How could I forget your charming personality?” Daniel asked, going for their sarcastic wit in an effort to try to bring some normalcy into the picture.  He also didn't want to let on to Teal'c that he was just as scared as Jack.  ~I have to stay strong here.~

After Teal'c left, Daniel secured his office, locking it and turning off the cameras.

“Daniel, what are you doing?” Jack asked as he still stood by the desk.

“Dumb question, O'Neill,” the younger man answered, moving forward, raising his hands to caress his lover's neck, and then slowly leaning into Jack for a kiss.

“You're right.  It was a dumb question,” Jack acknowledged, kissing Daniel again.

Then Daniel wrapped his arms around Jack, his fingers caressing the back of Jack's head and neck.

“Jack, whatever this is, we'll figure it out.  It'll be okay,” Daniel reassured.  Jack was tense, though, the most tense that he could remember.  “I promise, Love.  Maybe ... maybe that thing just gave you another language, and you need time to adjust to it.”  He felt his soulmate's chin nestle against his neck, seeking warmth and protection, something very unusual for the older man.  It made Daniel feel extra special that Jack would be so vulnerable with him, but then, Jack always was, with Daniel.  “Just try and go with it for a while, okay?  Give yourself, and us, a chance to figure this out.”

Jack finally relaxed in his lover's hold, letting Daniel be the protector.  He trusted the younger man more than anyone else in the universe.  He believed in that trust, so he calmed as he took in the reassuring words and the steady tone of Daniel's voice.

“I love you, Danny.”

“And I love you, so much.”  Daniel pulled back, his hands moving again to rub gently against Jack's neck and cheek.  “Better?”

“Yeah.  Thanks.”  Jack gave his lover a soft smile before they kissed again.  “You really think the Doc is going to have any answers?”

“We have to cover all the bases.  Ready?”  Jack took a large breath, and then nodded.  “Okay.  Let's go.”

The couple started for the door when, all of a sudden, Jack turned and faced the blackboard, staring at it.

“Jack?  What is it?”  Daniel looked in the direction where his partner was facing, but saw nothing unusual.  Then, he watched as Jack walked to the board, picked up a piece of chalk, and quickly began writing an extensive equation.  “What are you doing?”

“I have no idea; none.  I don't ... I don't know,” Jack responded as he continued to write.

When he was done, Jack stood, as if paralyzed, staring at the mathematical rambling he'd just created.

Slowly, Daniel took the chalk from the older man and put it in its place on the aluminum tray.  He turned Jack towards him, pulling him into another hug.

“It'll be all right, Jack.  It will be all right,” Daniel promised.  He wasn't sure now who he was trying to comfort, Jack or himself, but both men needed reassurance they could only get from the other.  “We'll figure this out, Love.”

“I love you, Danny.  Don't forget that.”

“I won't because you'll be reminding me of it for the rest of our lives.  Come on,” Daniel urged as he pulled back to look into Jack's eyes.  “Let's not overreact.  So, you know math.  Sam will know what this is.”

“Danny, I don't.  I don't know those words,” Jack bemoaned.  “Geez, I wish we could just go domus.”  As Daniel blinked a few times, Jack closed his eyes and sighed, “I want this to stop, Daniel.  It's driving me crazy.”

“I know.  We'll go to the infirmary and start there.  Soon, we'll be able to go ... *home*,” Daniel spoke with a reassuring smile, not needing to look up 'domus' to know its meaning.

Restoring his office to how it was before Jack's entrance, Daniel then began to escort his lover to the infirmary.

====

As Jack and Daniel walked to the elevator, Teal'c approached.

“Teal'c, back to babysit?” Jack asked sarcastically.

**Jack, stop.  He's trying to help,** Daniel admonished.

**I know.  I'm just ...**  Jack paused, before continuing, **I'm going out of my mind here.**

**It'll be okay,** Daniel promised again.  “Teal'c, I'm taking Jack to the infirmary.”

“I will accompany you, DanielJackson.”

====

“I'll run some tests.  It'll take a few hours,” Janet advised after being informed of the recent events.

“Okay,” Daniel acknowledged softly, glancing over at his lover, who sat quietly on a hospital bed, Teal'c standing by silently a few feet away.  ~He looks so alone.~  **Love, you're not alone.  I'm here.**

Janet saw Daniel's concern, evident in the frown on his face, but as she looked at the archaeologist, she missed Jack's soft smile that he gave to his lover, an acknowledgement of the silent support.

“Don't worry, Daniel.  I'm sure we'll get to the bottom of this,” Janet assured.

Daniel nodded and watched as Janet gathered some things together.  He didn't want to go, but standing there wasn't helping his lover.

**I'll be back, Jack.**

**Counting on it, Danny.**

Reluctantly, Daniel left the infirmary.  Janet was doing her part, and now he needed to do his.  He headed for the archives on Level 24 to retrieve some old volumes of Medieval Latin reference material.

====

“Sam.”

“Hey, Daniel.  How's the colonel?”

“Uh, actually, that's why I'm here,” Daniel disclosed.  “I need to show you something.”

Sam stood from the computer she was working on in her lab and followed Daniel out into the corridor.

“He's speaking an ancient language without his knowledge.  I mean, the words just seem to come out,” the linguist revealed.

“I'll bet he's not happy about that.  The colonel likes to be in control,” Sam said, stating the obvious.

“You're right ... on both counts.  I'm hoping Janet will find something that might explain it.”

After a pause, Sam asked, “How are you doing?”

“Me?” Daniel questioned, looking at his friend in surprise, the question totally unexpected.

“Yes, Daniel, you.  This can't be easy, seeing him so upset.  You are his ...” Sam paused as they passed a couple of airmen, “best friend.”

“I'm fine.  We need to figure this out,” Daniel stated as they approached his office, the two large volumes he'd taken from the archives in his left hand.  “The language he's speaking has similar sounds to Medieval Latin, but it's still quite different.”

“So he's in the infirmary now?” the captain asked as they entered his office, Daniel leading her to the blackboard.

Daniel confirmed, “Yes, but before we took him there, he just picked up a chalk and did this in about thirty seconds flat.  Do you have any idea what this means?”

Sam reviewed the equations and answered, “No.  I mean, even the simple equations don't make any sense.  No, this is like no math I've ever seen.”

The two studied the board a bit longer, but had continued not to have a clue about its meaning.

“Whatever this is, is way beyond ... I mean, the colonel ... well ...”

“I know,” Daniel agreed, adding, “So does Jack.  I'm going to do some research on the language he's speaking.”

“I need to get back to what I was doing,” Sam replied.  “I'll check in with Janet later.”

“She said it would be a few hours,” the archaeologist pointed out.

“Okay.”  Sam put her hand on Daniel's arm.  “He'll be okay.”

The other scientist smiled shyly, turning his head slightly to watch his friend exit the room.  Then Daniel faced the blackboard and its mysterious writings again.

~You'll be okay.  You'll be okay.  You'll ... be okay.~

====

A few hours later, Daniel's concentration was interrupted by a phone call.  Five minutes after that, he and Sam had joined Janet for the results of her tests.  Jack was in the infirmary, and Teal'c had been meeting with General Hammond.

“It'll be easier if I show you what I've found,” Janet said, moving to sit down in front of her computer.

Sam and Daniel stood behind her, staring at the monitor.

As she punched up images to highlight her remarks, Janet explained, “A normal human brain operates at five to ten percent of its functional capacity at any given time.  Colonel O'Neill's brain is working at over ninety percent capacity.”

“How is that possible?” Sam asked.

“I don't know,” Janet admitted.

At that point, Teal'c entered, looking for Jack.  When Janet said he should be in the infirmary, Teal'c answered that he wasn't there.  Quickly, the three other members of SG-1 began searching for the colonel.  It was Sam who finally found him in the armory.

“Colonel.  What are you doing?”

“I need this,” Jack answered, holding up a glowing bulb full of green liquid naquadah that had apparently been removed from a staff weapon.  ~Wonder why I need it.~

“What for?”

“I have no idea,” Jack responded.  ~What's happening to my mind?~

Confused, Sam replied, “Uh, well, Sir, how about we take that back to the infirmary?”

Jack stared at his 2IC, then back at the object.  Finally, he nodded and headed out of the room.  Sam walked a bit nervously by his side.

“Sorry,” Jack said.

“For what?”

“Being a disobedient child,” Jack spoke.  “I disappeared.  Couldn't help it.”

Sam wasn't sure what to say.  The words seemed strange coming from Jack O'Neill.  She was grateful when Daniel came hurrying down the hall.

“Jack?  Are you okay?” Daniel asked, taking deep breaths as he caught up to the two.

“Wanna spank me?” the older man quipped.

Caught off guard, Daniel stammered, “Wh...what?”

Sam blushed, shaking her head and then saying, “Daniel, he's all yours.  I'm going to let the general know that ...”

“Naughty Jack has been found?” Jack interrupted, only half jesting.

“Sorry, Sir.  Excuse me.”

“Sam?” Daniel called out, not having missed the mistiness in her eyes that she tried to hide as she left.  He shook his head as she continued on, not responding.  He faced his partner and asked, “What are you talking about?”

“You guys were babysitting, and I went AWOL,” Jack intoned.

“We were ...” Daniel began, wanting to explain it differently.

“I know what you were,” Jack spoke, an edginess in his voice.

“Do you?”  Daniel glared at his lover.  This wasn't Jack using humor to cover his fears, this was Jack being snarky, lashing out at those around him.  ~No, you don't.~

Daniel looked around, searching for an appropriate place to do what he needed to do.  The only place close that could work was a spare research lab.  He reached over and tugged on Jack's arm, pulling him into the room.  He shut off the camera, locked the door, and then folded his arms.  He stood a bit nervously, a slight bounce in his stillness.  He blinked, took a deep breath, and then decided to let his lover in on a few things.

“Okay, Jack, you think you have it tough.  You're right.  You do.  Right now you're scared.  You're used to fighting men and Goa'uld, people you can see, things that are tangible, but you can't see or touch this, and that has you reeling. You're saying things you don't understand, doing things for reasons you don't comprehend, and in the end, it has you more afraid then you've ever been in your life.”

Daniel paused, shaking his head.  He looked down at the floor for a second, and then continued.

“It's okay, Jack.  It really is ... to be scared, but the thing is, you're not the only one who is afraid here.  General Hammond relies on you, and right now he can't.  Teal'c looks at you as a mentor, a guide for human behavior.  Heaven help him.”

“I don't think I'm being *that* bad,” Jack said defensively.

“Be quiet, Jack,” Daniel demanded.  “Right now, I have the floor.”

Jack's head motioned back in surprise.  Daniel could be an ardent fighter, but usually, in personal situations at intense emotional moments like now, his natural inclination was to run rather than fight. The older man was proud.  His lover was learning to fight for himself, which is exactly what Jack wanted.  He nodded his head, and waited for the lecture to continue.

“And Sam.  You're her commanding officer.  She respects you, and, more than that, Jack, she cares about you.  She's a good friend, a darn good friend, and you owe her, all of us, respect.  She doesn't have to be knocking herself out trying to help Janet or working on the computers hoping that there'll be an answer in there, even if that's just a remote possibility.  Don't forget Janet.  She cleared her schedule for the next couple of days, including that medical association dinner she was supposed to be honored at tonight.”

Daniel swallowed, his eyes growing misty.

“And me, Jack?  Gawd, I'm scared to death.  I'm finally ... I mean, with you, things are ... You're not the only one at risk here.  I know this is hard on you, but it's no ... piece of cake for me, either.  You think I don't know how much you're counting on me to find the answer?  From the moment you walked into my office with Teal'c, you've expected me to figure out what was wrong and how to fix it.  Good ole Doctor Jackson, the genius linguist.”

“Danny ...”

“No, you let me finish.  I love you, you idiot, and that's ... you know what that ... what just saying it ... what it means to me.  I'm trying.  Gawd, I'm doing everything I can, but even if I do understand what is happening, I don't know how to get that stuff out of your brain, Jack, and what if we can't?  What if Janet's right, and everything just ... just ...”

Jack started to walk towards his lover, but Daniel moved backward several steps, flinging his arms in front of him.  Unable to stand still at the moment, he paced the aisle a few times as his anger and frustration rose.

“Danny, please, I ...” Jack spoke as he moved forward again, but Daniel shook his head vehemently.

In a raised voiced, Daniel shouted, “NO!  DON'T!  I'M NOT DONE.”  Still shaking his head, he continued, “You think you know what it feels like to be on this side of this nightmare?  You don't, not if you can treat us, your teammates, your friends, your ... lover, like you'd treat a babysitter.  We're not babysitting you, Jack.  We're worried something will happen, and we won't be there to help you.  GAWD, DO YOU REALLY THINK WE WERE RUNNING AROUND HERE BECAUSE WE THOUGHT YOU'D BLOW UP THE PLACE OR SOMETHING?  WE WERE CONCERNED ... ABOUT YOU!”

Daniel's voice cracked, the turmoil getting the better of him.

“It's okay to be scared, Jack, but we're scared too.  We need to work together here and,” Daniel took a couple of deep breaths trying control his emotions, “you have no right to disregard our concern, to belittle our worries.  You have no ...”

Jack felt like a heel, a big time heel.  He wanted to comfort Daniel, but he was afraid to move forward again, until he heard the next word, soft, gentle, loving, and full of need.

“Jack?”

In a split second, Jack had Daniel in his arms, holding on for all life was worth, and for Jack, all life was Daniel.

“I'm so sorry, Danny.  Geez, I'm sorry,” Jack apologized, his voice full of regret and sorrow.  “This mess has me so ... messed up.  You're right.  I know that.  I love you.”  This time, it was Daniel who buried his face in the safety of Jack's shoulder and neck, and the older man held on tight.  “I was wrong. You know me, Love.  I get wrapped up in myself sometimes.  I can be a real pain.”

Jack pulled away to look in Daniel's eyes.  He smiled as he wiped away a tear with his thumb.

“A real pain.  Daniel, listen to me.  You're right about all of it, not the least of which is that I know you'll find a way out of this disaster.  I don't know how, but I have all the fidacia in the world in you.”

“Oh.”  Daniel blinked as he reacted to Jack's words.  Softly, he repeated, “Fidacia?”

Jack shook his head, admitting, “I don't know when I say this stuff.  I trust you.”

Daniel thought about the word as he translated it, analyzing the structure and the context.  He smiled.

“Confidence,” the linguist translated.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack said as he pulled Daniel even closer.  “I am totally confident that you'll save the day, if not the world.”

“Jack.  We're not talking about the world.  I mean, not the global world, but we are talking about my world.”

“Our world.  I love you, Danny.  Forgive me for being a jerk?” the colonel requested, hope beating in his heart.

“I love you, too, and just ... remember from now on that everyone is working as hard as they can to ... to ...”

Jack decided they'd had too many words.  He silenced his heart with a deep, lingering kiss, one that didn't end until both were gasping for breath ... and then they looked into each other's eyes and knew they needed more.

“This is a really bad idea right now.”

“The worst.  We shouldn't,” Daniel agreed.

“They might be looking for us now.”

“Bad idea ... very ... bad ... idea,” Daniel said as he leaned into his lover for another kiss, this time slipping his hands inside Jack's shirt, and then slowing moving downwards.

“Quick.  Has to be ...”

“Jack.  You're always wanting me to tell you what I want and what I need.  Right or wrong, and it's probably wrong, and maybe we'll pay for it somehow, but I want you ... I need you ... now ... right now, Jack.”

That was all Jack had to hear.  The two began to tear off their clothes, and then sank quickly to the floor.  It was a fiery union as Jack unleashed his passion on his more-than-willing lover.  Their eyes remained locked on each other's as Jack made his barrage inside Daniel, and when it was Daniel's turn to take Jack to a passionate high, again, their focus remained steady.

They had to be as silent as possible, but their eyes screamed their ecstasy.

“Oh, gawd,” Daniel panted.

“Mirasa,” Jack said.  He realized he'd said another word he didn't know, but his soulmate was beyond hearing it, so Jack ignored it.  “Well, at least we know not everything has ... changed,” he said, holding his lover to him closely.  “You okay? That was pretty intense and quick.”

“Language ... not hurt ... Intense, mmmm,” Daniel spoke in broken English.

“Geez, Danny.”

Jack had a moment of feeling pretty darn good.  He was glad he could still decipher the language of Daniel.  The young man often lost his own ability to speak normal English in the aftermath of their lovemaking.

~I know what you mean.  Intense can be great, like now, and this ridiculous download hasn't hurt us.  We'll get through it.~

Jack hated to say it.  They'd been “missing” for quite a while now.

“Danny ...”

“I know, but I like it ... here,” Daniel confided.

“Me, too,” Jack chuckled lightly.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

The two sighed at the same time as they slowly got up and did their best to clean up themselves and the lab they had borrowed for their joining.  With a last kiss, they exited and headed for the showers to see if the room was clear.  Since it was, both took extremely fast showers and changed into fresh clothes.

====

As they headed for the infirmary, Jack asked, “Daniel, what does mirasa mean?”

“Mirasa?” the linguist repeated.  He thought about it, but responded, “I don't know.”

“Let's go find out,” Jack requested.

The two went to Daniel's office, where Daniel immediately searched for the word in his dictionary.

“Hmmm, well, 'mirus' means wonderful, astonishing, extraordinary.  Why?  When did you use that?” Daniel asked.

Jack grinned as he answered, “About fifteen minutes ago after the most wonderfully astonishing and extraordinary event in ... a ... well, since ...” he trailed off, nodding at his lover with a happy smug look on his face.

Daniel began to turn crimson red, as he softly responded, “Oh.”  He felt warm inside, loved and secure, and he hoped his soulmate felt the same way, that their exchange had been mutual.  As he stood, his thoughts were focused on that, on wanting Jack to know how much Daniel loved him, and would do anything and everything in the world to help Jack.

“I know, Daniel.  I know,” Jack verbalized tenderly.

Daniel's head jolted up, and he nervously began, “I ... ”

**I heard, Love.**

**It was ... mirasa.**

Jack nodded.  Neither knew that would be their last silent exchange for quite a while.

“Jack,” Daniel pulled out an image.  “I've been wondering.  Can you ... read this?”

Jack took the image, stared at Daniel for a moment, and then said the words that suddenly came to him.

“Where's this from?”

“Ernest's Planet.”  Jack sighed, aware that he was reading the strange text.  “We should get you back to the infirmary.”

Before they could leave, though, Daniel's phone rang.

“Yes, General, he's with me.  We've been ... reviewing some of the ... oh ... okay, ten minutes,” Daniel replied, hanging up the black phone.

“Hammond?” Jack asked.

“Is there more than one general here?” Daniel smiled shyly.  It was supposed to be a crack, a snap, a sarcastic wit, but their emotions were still a little raw; nonetheless, Jack appreciated the effort.  “Um, he wants a report from Sam, Janet, and I, so ...”

“Teal'c gets the lucky straw?” Jack asked, smiling so that Daniel knew he was only teasing.

“Maybe,” Daniel replied quietly.

Without saying anything further, the two men finally headed for the infirmary where Teal'c was waiting.

====

“Have a seat, Colonel,” Janet said, then looking at the archaeologist she said, “Daniel, I just got off the phone with the general.  I told him I wanted to do a couple more tests before we meet, so he wants you, Sam, and I to be in the briefing room in one hour.”

“Okay.  Thanks, Janet.  I'm going to get back to my office,” Daniel stated.  He looked over at his lover and intoned, “I'll ... see you later, Jack.”

“Daniel?” Jack called out, then just smiled.

The young man nodded, then Daniel turned and exited.

====

Hammond wasn't thrilled with the recent events.  First, Jack had disappeared and then both Jack and Daniel had been unaccounted for over an hour.  He was admittedly a bit skeptical at Daniel's evasive and cryptic explanation that they'd been reviewing “important data, crucial to Jack's well being.”

“Where is he now?” Hammond asked about his 2IC.

Sam answered, “He's with Teal'c.”

“Do you think his current condition poses any threat?” Hammond asked, knowing his first loyalty was to the welfare of the base.

Janet responded, “Sir, I don't even know what's wrong with him.  All I can tell you is that his brain function has increased tenfold.”

Daniel gave the general an example of Janet's statement, something that he personally found both awesome and incredible.  If it weren't for the danger his lover was in, the young man would have been elated beyond description at the revelations.

“Jack was able to read the alien language, both the inscription from the wall of the meeting place on Ernest's planet AND the circle of symbols from '272 where this happened to him,” Daniel stated informatively.

“What does it mean?” Hammond asked.

Daniel had been grateful for the past hour.  He'd made what he was certain was a major breakthrough, though he still wasn't positive of its meaning.  Actually, he was, but he doubted his conclusions because he wanted them to be right so very much.  It was a strange dichotomy for the young man.

“Uh, well, my translation's a little bit vague.  Um, I think the circle means 'the place of our legacy'.  Um ... or it could be 'a piece of our leg', but the first seems to make more sense.”

Sam was amazed at Daniel's insecurity.  He was a genius, and everyone knew it, and yet, at the moment, he lacked confidence in his translation.  There was nothing she could do about that now.

The captain looked at the general and interjected, “The point is, Colonel O'Neill is unwillingly speaking an alien language.”

Daniel added, “We know the Asgard oppose the Goa'uld so it's possible all the members of this four-race alliance felt the same.”

“Which might explain why the viewer locked out Teal'c,” Sam said.

 Hammond asked, “What are you saying?”

Daniel finally revealed his theory:  “What if this device somehow downloaded an alien language into Jack's brain?”

At that point, Teal'c entered, addressing the general as he spoke, “Your presence is required in the control room.”

As they made their way to the room, Daniel asked Teal'c what had happened.

“O'Neill was telling me the story of a large fish when he stood up and walked away.  He said he was not certain where he was going, only that he had to go.  I followed him to the control room,” the Jaffa answered.

“Story of a large fish?”

Daniel wanted to smile.  His lover had been thinking about happier times.

“He said it got away,” Teal'c answered.

~He let it go,~ Daniel surmised.  ~He can't kill a fish just to kill a fish.~

As they entered the control room, Jack was typing furiously at the keyboard, inputting data to the computer system.  Immediately, Sam took a seat in front of a different computer and checked the current status, reporting, “Main system's down, Sir.  I'm locked out.”

When asked what he was doing, Jack replied, “I don't know, Sir.  You know me and computers.”

Hammond ordered the colonel to stop.

~Wish I could.~  Jack was frustrated at his inability to comply, and his tone was evident of that.  Still focused on his typing, he answered, “I'd love to, Sir, but I can't.”

Putting base security before friendship, Hammond rightly ordered Teal'c to stop Jack, so the Jaffa reached down and pulled Jack up out of the seat.  Jack called out in complaint, but could not escape Teal'c's hold.

Sam checked the system again, telling those present that she couldn't reboot the system.  Then, numbers began to appear on the monitor.  Sam recognized it as machine code, indicating Jack had been inputting some type of program.

Jack managed to lean downward, just for a moment, and enter a few more keys that seemed to complete the program input.

 “What did you do?” Sam asked, but Jack could only hold his hands out and shake his head in response.

As the program played out, a star field, that Sam called the destination map, appeared, showing all the Stargates Earth had visited.  No one knew what to do.  They were helpless as they stared at the computer display.  Then, Daniel noticed new Gate symbols appearing, the new Gates a different color from the others.  Eventually, they realized the new locations had been inputted by Jack.

Daniel looked at his lover and stated, “Well, I guess that thing must've put more than just a language into your brain. That circular inscription read 'the place of our legacy'.  What if that thing you looked into was some sort of alien database, like the one we found on Ernest's planet, all the knowledge that these particular aliens possessed?”

Hammond was perplexed.  He ordered Jack not to touch anything without permission.

Jack stared almost mindlessly ahead at the Stargate and acknowledged the order.

The general sighed again, looked around at his flagship team, and ordered, “Okay, people.  It's late.  I'd like you all to try and get a few hours sleep, or at least rest.  I don't think this is going to be any easier tomorrow.”

Hammond exited the control room, heading for his office.

“I'm going to stay on base,” Sam told her teammates.  “I'll be in my lab if you guys needs me.”

“Get some rest, Carter,” Jack ordered in an all-too-familiar tone.

“DanielJackson, I do not require sleep.  May I be of assistance while you rest?” Teal'c inquired, ready and willing to do anything to help his friends and teammates.

“No, but thank you, Teal'c.”

“Then I shall be in my quarters,” Teal'c responded, nodding and exiting the area.

With a nod of her own, Sam smiled and exited to get the previously ordered rest.

“Jack, let's go to my office and see if we can make more progress with the circle of symbols,” Daniel suggested.  “Maybe we can learn something about these new Gates.”

As they walked, Jack said, “You're supposed to rest.”

“We both are.”

“Then we will,” the older man stated firmly.

Securing Daniel's office appropriately, Jack and Daniel settled onto the cot and went to sleep, Jack holding his lover in his arms.

Still, both men were restless.  Jack's head was erupting with an unwanted knowledge that gave him a headache, and Daniel's mind was racing, desperate to find the solution.

Regardless, the couple remained nestled together, lost in a not-so-peaceful sleep that lasted but a few hours before they rose and began a new day.

====

“Morning, guys.  Any change?”

“Carter, isn't it a little early?” Jack asked in command mode.

“It's not that early, and you're up, Sir.”

Jack tilted his head in submission.  She had him there.  He and Daniel had eaten a breakfast that consisted of coffee and a power bar, and then begun to work together on the translation.  Three hours had passed, which was more than he had realized until glancing at his watch a moment ago.

“Hi, Sam,” Daniel greeted.  “No, no change ... except he's speaking more words of the language.”

“Well, I'll be in the control room working on that stuff you inputted last night, Colonel.  That should keep us busy for days just logging it properly.”

“Glad I could help keep you out of uatori,” Jack replied with a smile.

Sam's expression told Jack he had done it again.  She looked to Daniel, who went to the dictionary.

“I think he meant keeping you out of trouble, doing something you enjoy,” the younger man translated.

“Oh.  Thank you, Sir.”

Jack looked a little forlorn about saying yet another word foreign to him, but, sadly, he was getting used to hearing funny words coming from his own voice.

Sam left, and Jack and Daniel returned to their task.  They made progress over the next two hours, but as the morning hours passed, Jack became quieter, until finally he said, “Danny ...”

Daniel had been looking down, trying to decipher a section of the symbols.  Hearing his name, he looked up at his lover.

“What?”

Jack seemed to struggle for his words.  He shook his head and barely managed to whisper, “Love ... love.”

“Jack?” Daniel responded, putting down the images and walking to the table where Jack sat.  He stared into his lover's eyes and saw the lost expression.  He knew Jack was saying he loved him, so Daniel responded softly, “Me, too.”

The two were still as they simply looked at each other for a few minutes and then Daniel suggested, “I guess we should try and make some more progress with the writings.”  He sighed as he paused, mumbling, “I have to get this done.”

Daniel looked down, suddenly feeling the weight of the world, his world, on his shoulders.

Jack glanced at the cameras which were still on, but he just didn't care.  He reached over the table and took Daniel's hand, caressing it with gentle, loving strokes.

~Geez, how I love him.~  Daniel smiled, then nodded.  “We have work to do, O'Neill,” he spoke with an upbeat tone, hoping it would help both to refocus and ease the tension of their nightmare.

Jack smiled, and the two struggled to continue their translation.

====

“Jack, I think these are the Ancients.  Gawd, Jack.  Think about it.  I don't have proof.  It's just a theory, but 'the place of our legacy,' the builders of roads.  We're so close.  I can feel it.”

Daniel rambled on excitedly about his theory as they worked.  For the last five minutes, though, Jack had listened quietly, even smiling at various moments.  Suddenly, Daniel's enthusiasm quieted.

“I'm sorry.  I'm getting so ... wrapped up in this.  I mean it's ...”

Daniel's words were almost gasped as he realized he had gotten lost in the discovery.  He turned from Jack and walked to the other side of the office, tossing his notes and the images onto another table.

Jack stood, moved to his lover, and wrapped his arms around him for just a moment.  Automatically, Daniel leaned into the hold, getting lost in another discovery, one he loved more than any other.  He closed his eyes, and almost let himself be swept away by Jack's touch when he remembered his office wasn't secure.

Daniel turned quickly, but Jack shook his head.  Somehow, the colonel knew their forever wasn't so sure anymore.  He smiled at Daniel and kissed him.  Then, he retrieved his lover's notepad and the pictures, handing them to his soulmate.  Jack nodded in expectation.

“Invencio,” Jack said as he motioned towards the items in Daniel's hand.  “Gaudaio,” he spoke next, pointing at his lover.  “Amaio.”

Daniel moved to the dictionary to look up the message; then he looked at Jack and translated, “Discover.  Happy.  Love.”

Jack smiled and repeated the words -- “Invencio.  Gaudaio.  Amaio.”  Then, he added the one other word that those three applied to.  “Daniel.”

Daniel took a breath to regain his focus, and, once again, they returned to their work. Although it would be more difficult now that Jack could no longer speak English, he still understood it, and so, they continued to make a bit of progress.

====

Sometime later, Sam entered Daniel's office.  Jack was leaning forward on a table, writing something on a small notepad.  He hadn't realized earlier that though he couldn't speak English any longer, he could still write it.  Once they had made that discovery, their work on the translation became easier.

“You can only stare at a computer screen for so long,” the captain stated as she moved to stand next to Jack.  “Colonel, that program you entered rewrote massive amounts of the machine code.”

Jack motioned with his hand, but said nothing, prompting Daniel to say, “Jack seems to have completely lost the ability to speak anything but the alien language.”

“Really?  Wow.”

Daniel stood on the other side of the table opposite Jack.  As he spoke, he turned around and retrieved his notepad and a copy of the circular image that Jack had read earlier.

“But the good news is we seem to have more of the alien inscription translated.  'Noo ani anqueetus' ... 'We are the Ancients'.”

“Who are the Ancients?” Sam questioned.

“Well, I think they could be the teachers of roads,” Daniel answered.  “See, the Romans were the first real road builders. They spoke Latin, and they learned to build roads from the gods, known as the Ancient ones.”

“I'm still not following you,” Sam admitted.

Daniel was excited.  He hated himself for being the least bit enthused, but this information was exciting, to say the least.

Enthusiastically, the explorer explained, “Roads.  Stargates. The Gate builders.  What if these Ancients were the alien race who invented the Stargate?”

Skeptically, Sam asked, “You're still just speculating, right?”

“Well, that would certainly explain why Jack knew about Stargates that the Goa'uld haven't even discovered yet.”

“I don't know, Daniel,” a doubting Sam replied.  “Why would they invent a device that would do this?”

“'The place of our legacy', to pass on their knowledge.  Jack may have the knowledge of the original Gate builders downloaded into his brain,” Daniel explained.

Jack spoke, “Ego indeo navo locas.”

Eagerly, Daniel moved forward, ready to work with his lover in understanding his words.

“Okay, ego means 'I'.”

The two went word by word until Daniel was able to translate Jack's sentence.

“You need a new location?”

“Where do you wanna go?” Sam asked her CO, but again, Jack didn't know how to answer.  “Okay, good luck you guys.  I have to get back to the computer.”  She motioned towards the blackboard.  “Sir, I really wish you could explain this.”

Jack surprised his 2IC by handing her the notepad he'd been writing on.

Sam read it -- “Ten equals eight” -- and then went to the board and made a few strokes.  The answer came to her.  “Sir, this is base eight math!” she exclaimed as she turned and looked at her CO in amazement at what he had done.

Jack reacted nonchalantly.  He had no clue what he had written, or why, nor did he understand the complicated math -- base eight or otherwise.

Daniel looked at his soulmate, his enthusiasm gone as he saw the pain on the older man's face.  Fear began to consume any excitement that he had held moments earlier.

“This is exciting, but I need to get back.  Wow, Sir,” Sam said as she started to leave.

“Uh, Sam,” Daniel began as he walked towards her.  “Um, I was wondering.”  He looked up at the security camera.  “Could you ...”

Sam was a bit confused.  She looked at Jack who shrugged with a smug look on his face, and then at Daniel who smiled shyly.

“What?”  Then, it dawned at her.  “Um, you two ...?”

“Well, it's just ... the camera was important the time so we didn't worry about it, but if someone sees it during a routine review ...” Daniel intimated, a hopeful expression on his face.

“When, uh, did you two ...?”

Sam flicked her wrist, embarrassed, as she asked the question.

A bit shyly, Daniel answered, “Well, sort of the last couple of hours.  He's just ... I mean I'm ...”

“Okay, Daniel.  Don't worry.  I'll take care of it,” the blonde promised.

“Thanks.”

Daniel felt guilty about asking Sam to essentially violate regulations by seeing to it that the footage from his office met with an untimely accident, but he didn't see any other options to protect Jack.

Sam left, and when Daniel moved back to face Jack, he saw his lover shaking his head.

“We're going to get out of this jam, Jack.  I don't know how, but we are, and when we do, we don't need ... well, you know.”

Jack smiled and then wrote, “I love you.”

Daniel took it as if to throw it away, but Jack watched as the young man folded it carefully and placed it in his wallet.

“I'm such a sap.”

====

“Okay, so this group of symbols probably have something to do with knowledge, or the obtaining of knowledge.  Maybe it's a ... direction or something,” Daniel offered.

Jack just shrugged at Daniel's idea.

Undaunted, the younger man rationalized, “It would make sense that something might indicate what that device was and what it's for.  It may not even be the only one.  Maybe there are ...” Daniel suddenly stopped.  He looked down at the images and back up at Jack.  “Maybe ...”

Jack realized his lover was in the middle of some epiphany.  The colonel shook his head to indicate he didn't know what Daniel was thinking.

“Jack, I need to talk to Sam,” Daniel stated.  “Um, do you want to stay here?”

Standing, Jack gave his lover a look, one that seemed to say, “Why don't you want me to go?”

Daniel smiled, his eyes alight with love that comforted Jack, and said, “Let's go.  She should be in the control room.”

====

“How's it going?” Daniel asked, entering the control room along with Jack.

The archaeologist looked around to see who was present.  Sergeant Davis was on the other side of the room in front of a computer, and two technicians were involved in a discussion, but no one else was in the area at the moment.

“It's amazing how many new Gates the colonel entered into the system.  We're still logging them all.”

“Sam, we need to send probes through to all these planets.  Well, not all, just until we find one that has one of those devices,” Daniel put forth.

“Daniel, that could take years,” Sam responded.  “Besides, we didn't know the device was there until the colonel triggered ... whatever it was on the floor.”

“We have to try.  Maybe there will be something by the Stargate, or another room like the one on P3R-272.”

“I don't know.”

Holding his ground, Daniel explained, “Sam, it makes sense that there's more than one of those devices out there, and our only hope of helping Jack may be to find it.”

Sam sighed, looking at the plethora of new Gates on her computer screen, not yet convinced.

“We have to try, Sam,” Daniel spoke.

Daniel's tone had changed from a soft tone to a bit of a plea and finally to a forceful order.

Sam looked at her friend and nodded as she agreed, “Okay, I'll start preparing the probes, but, Daniel, this is a long shot.  I still don't even know how many new Gates the colonel inputted into the system.”

“Thanks.”

Sam looked at her CO and said, “I'll do my best, Sir.”

====

Two hours later, Jack sat with his head resting on his crossed arms on the table in the infirmary, while Daniel stood next to him.  Janet displayed various scans on her computer monitor.  She had more information after the last batch of tests she had run.

“The problem may only be affecting the verbal language center of your brain.  It's a different function than writing, but it looks like the problem is advancing.  Since he lost the ability to speak gradually, I think whatever is affecting him may be taking over incrementally,” the doctor surmised.

Daniel asked, “Well, what's the worst-case scenario?“

“Well, your computer analogy is pretty good,” Janet agreed.  “Colonel, your hard drive has been filled with information that is written in a language your computer doesn't understand.  If it continues to progress the way it has thus far, you may eventually lose the ability to write or even comprehend us.  Or, worse, the computer could shut down all together.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged a glance.

“Janet, what happens if ...”

“Excuse me,” Janet spoke when a ringing phone interrupted Daniel's question.  She answered it and handed it to Daniel, saying, “It's Sam.”

“Sam?”

“Daniel, I think I've found something.  Can you come take a look?” the captain requested.

“Be right there.”  Daniel handed the phone back to Janet who hung it up.  He looked towards the door for a second, and then at the petite doctor.  “We need to go.  Sam may have found something that might help.”  He looked at his soulmate, saying, “Jack ...” as he reached out to touch his partner's arm.

“Keep me updated, Daniel,” Janet urged.

Looking at Janet, Daniel nodded an acknowledgement, and then the lovers headed for Level 27.

====

“What do you think?” Sam asked.

“I think it's something,” Daniel affirmed as he tried make out the pictures.

“Daniel, the images are a little murky.  I think there was a problem with one of the sensors,” Sam supposed.

“Can you clear it up?”

“Not any better than this,” Sam responded.  “I want to make some modifications on the probe.  Then we can send another probe through and, hopefully, get a better result.”

Daniel nodded as he agreed, “We need confirmation.”  He looked at Jack and asked, “Does it mean anything to you?”

Jack just shook his head, pointing at the obscured photographs.

Sam looked at her watch and suggested, “It's late, Daniel.  General Hammond's still on base, but he's sleeping in one of the VIP rooms.  You two might want to get some rest, too.”

“This day's gone by so fast; there's so much we don't know that we need to know, Sam,” Daniel sighed, letting a hint of his vulnerability out.  Then he looked at Jack, regained his strength, and said, “But we will learn what we need to.  We're close, Jack.”

“Daniel's right, Sir.”

Jack pointed at Sam and stared, his eyes clearly commanding her.  As she looked back at him, he put the palms of his hands together and then leaned his head against them.

“I don't ...” Sam began her argument, then stopped, seeing the all-too-familiar glare from his CO.

“Okay, okay,” Daniel agreed, albeit hesitantly.  “Okay, so ... let's all get some rest, for a few hours, anyway.”

====

“I agree, CaptainCarter,” Teal'c opined early the next morning as the SG-1 teammates stood off to the side in the control room, where Sam had been working on her special project.

“I'll get General Hammond and meet you in the briefing room,” Daniel said.

Sam's adjustments to the probe had proved successful, and the members of SG-1 were in agreement that their discovery was definitely worth checking out.

--

Daniel knocked on the general's door that was partially ajar.  He saw Hammond wave him in.

“How's Colonel O'Neill?” the bald-headed man asked as he closed the lid on his laptop computer.

“Nothing new in the last couple of hours.  He's in the briefing room with Sam and Teal'c,” Daniel answered.  Approaching the man's desk, he asked, “Do you have a few minutes, General?  We think we've found something.”

“Certainly, Son,” Hammond agreed, rising and following the archaeologist to the briefing room, where the members of SG-1 were standing while they waited for the major general.

--

After everyone had settled into their places, the general asked, “What do you have?”

“Sir, we've been sending probes to the addresses Colonel O'Neill entered into the computer, hoping that one would lead us to the race that affected his mind.  We think we may have found something,” Sam answered.

Daniel quickly added, “P9Q-281 has a pedestal near the Gate with symbols on it that match the alien language that Jack is speaking.”

Hammond liked the sound of that.  It was the first positive thing that had happened in over a day.

“Then I suggest we check it out.  You're authorized to go, Captain.  Major Castleman will be joining SG-1 on this mission.”

Daniel realized that meant Jack wouldn't be going on the mission.  He quickly spoke up, informing Hammond, “Well, if Jack's not going, then I have to stay.”

“Why is that, Doctor?”

Daniel looked across at his lover, sitting quietly on the other side of the table.  There was no way he was going on this mission without Jack.

With conviction, the archaeologist elaborated,  “Well, if ... if Sam and Teal'c make contact with the Ancients, and they can report back, and ... and then Jack and I will go, but until then, I mean, translating this language may be the most important thing we've done since we opened the Stargate.  You see, I'm pretty sure that Jack is speaking the language of the original Gate builders.  At the very least, I'm positive that it's one of the races that created the repository of information on Ernest's planet ... the, uh, meaning of life stuff.”

Sam spoke up, “And, Sir, I believe that the equation Colonel O'Neill wrote on the blackboard is a revolutionary formula for calculating the distance between planetary bodies.”

Daniel continued, “And bottom line, Sir, what about Jack?  I mean, right now, I'm possibly his only hope for communicating on any kind of serious level.  I can't leave him like this, and I won't.”  ~No way on Earth, General.  Don't force it, because I won't leave him alone.  I can't.~

The general didn't need to hear Daniel's silent thoughts to know that he couldn't blast Daniel through the Stargate, so he didn't try.  Instead, he assigned someone to go in Daniel's place, allowing the archaeologist to continue to work with Jack while Sam, Teal'c, and two other substitutes went on the mission.

====

“Stay here, Jack.  I'll be back in about fifteen minutes,” Daniel stated.  “Promise me you'll stay here.”

Jack nodded, sitting down behind his desk in his office.  He had no idea what Daniel was up to.  He stared at the inbox, seeing a pile of memos to be read.  Ignoring them, he reached into a drawer and pulled out an old issue of National Geographic, hoping he could stop thinking about his increased brain power for a little while.

--

The colonel was happy when Daniel returned a few minutes later and realized he had actually been enjoying an article on the culture of Tahiti.

“Come on,” Daniel said.

Jack was curious.  His lover was acting a bit suspiciously as if he were doing something that perhaps he shouldn't be.  Daniel was checking the corridors and was unusually quiet, as if not wanting to draw attention to them.

“Okay.  Go ... on,” Daniel said as he opened the panel to one of the access shafts and then stepped aside.  Jack tilted his head.  “Don't argue, O'Neill.  Move.”

Jack grinned and entered the shaft, beginning the climb that would take them to the top of the Mountain.  It was never an easy trip, but if you wanted out of Cheyenne Mountain without being noticed, this was the way to do it, and, occasionally, Jack and Daniel did just that.

Daniel followed, excited about his surprise.  As Daniel climbed out of the shaft onto the grass, Jack looked at him with wide eyes and outstretched hands.

“You know where!” Daniel stated.

Jack smiled in anticipation.  He and Daniel had a few hidden retreats both in and out of the Mountain, but one of the outside places was well hidden.  They'd never spotted anyone else in the vicinity whenever they had gone there, so that's where Jack headed.

When he reached the spot, hidden amongst some trees, Jack stopped, not believing the picnic Daniel had previously set up for them.  As he stared at the blanket and oval-shaped basket, he felt Daniel take his hand.  He squeezed it and turned to face the younger man, and then they kissed.  They wouldn't have time for a repeat of their lovemaking earlier, but still, they had time to enjoy their love.

The lovers sat on the blanket, facing each other.  Jack pointed to the unusual basket.

“Oh, it's from P29-431.  It was the closest thing I could find to a picnic basket,” Daniel explained with a dimpled smile

Jack grinned, leaning over to squeeze his lover's hand again.  His expression was his approval, and that made Daniel smile.  The younger man pulled out his supply of food items.

“Uh, it's not exactly steak, but it's the best I could come up with,” Daniel said, handing Jack a roast beef sandwich, a bag of chips, and a can of coke.

Jack started to eat until he noticed Daniel just staring at him.  He lowered his sandwich and stared at his lover, eventually pointing at the basket and drawing an imaginary line from it to Daniel.

“Oh, well, I'm not very hungry.”

Jack put his food down and crossed his arms, shaking his head.  Daniel laughed at the image.

“Really, Jack, I don't have much of an appetite.”

Jack got up, causing Daniel to open his mouth in that guppy expression of his.  He stared, afraid Jack was leaving, but then he saw his lover move to his side, food and all.  The older man reached into the basket and saw Daniel hadn't even prepared a meal for himself.  He glared at his soulmate.  Daniel tried to avoid the gaze.

Sighing, Jack took his sandwich, tearing off a bite.  He held the piece in his hand and moved it towards Daniel's mouth.

“Jack, honestly, I ...”

Daniel's next words were garbled as he found himself chewing a piece of the roast beef sandwich that had been shoved into his mouth.  Jack laughed, and then ate a bite.  Then, he held the sandwich to Daniel, nodding.

“You're not going to eat unless I ...”

Again, Daniel's words were cut off, only this time he had to bite down to break off a piece of the sandwich.  He started to laugh, working hard not to spit out his food in the process.  Jack smiled, taking another bite, and finally with the program, Daniel let Jack feed him another bite, but then before Jack could eat another piece, Daniel grabbed the sandwich from him.

“If you get to feed me, I get to feed you.”

The two took turns feeding each other, both the sandwich and the chips, and they drank their soft drinks (Daniel had brought a Pepsi for himself) as if it were champagne, arm in arm.  The only communication was that of their hearts as they shared this precious time.

Then, Daniel held up a finger, his face with a smile of promise on it.  Reaching into his jacket, he pulled out a Pay Day candy bar.  Jack's eyes grew wide, his entire face lit up.  He loved Pay Days.

“I know.  Nuts for the nutty,” Daniel jested, as he handed Jack the candy bar.  “And I want you to eat it all.  It's your favorite, Babe.  Please.”

Jack leaned over for a kiss and then devoured his treat.  He had no idea how Daniel had gotten it since they weren't available in the commissary, but he wasn't going to argue.  When he was done, he sighed a happy sigh.

It was a perfectly serene moment, but then Jack's head seemed to explode.  He grimaced.

“Jack, are you okay?”  When his lover gave him an odd look, Daniel repeated, “Are you okay?  Jack?”

With a heavy breath, Jack nodded.  For a moment, the words had been garbled.  He had seen his lover's lips moving, but hadn't understood the words.  Jack was scared again.

“We'd better get back,” Daniel sighed as he stood, folding up the blanket and putting the supplies by the trees.  He had told the general that they were taking a dinner break, but worried that if they stayed gone too long, Hammond might get worried.  “I'll get this stuff later.”

Daniel started to head back towards the access shaft, but Jack grabbed his arm, spinning him around.  The older man's eyes spoke of an undying love, of a cherished treasure that meant more to him than anything, and of a forever that somehow they'd make happen.  His chocolate brown eyes pierced into Daniel's soul, begging to be understood.

The archaeologist nodded, moving into Jack's embrace.

Jack had said it as best he could, so Daniel responded, “I love you, too ... so much, Jack.”

When they separated, Jack placed the palm of his left hand on Daniel's cheek and smiled.  They kissed, and then returned to the SGC and Daniel's office to continue their work.

====

At his desk, Daniel said, “Okay.”  He paused to sip a cup of coffee and then continued, “I think we're getting hung up on the grammar.”

The two had been working all afternoon.  They'd made some headway, but in the last thirty minutes, they'd suddenly gotten stuck.

Jack paced rapidly behind his lover, near another computer monitor.  Back and forth he walked in the confined area, both hands gripping his head.  He was often hunched over in an ache he didn't comprehend.  It was a hurt he had never felt before, not a physical pain exactly, but his mind was slipping away, and that was impossible to handle.

The always-in-control colonel was now totally at the mercy of the knowledge embedded in his brain.  When Daniel finished speaking, Jack stopped his pacing.  He took his fists and placed them on his forehead as if he could press the knowledge out of his mind.  He stared helplessly at his soulmate, and just as helplessly, Daniel stared back, his eyes communicating his desire to do whatever he could, but like Jack, Daniel didn't know what to do.

Jack wondered if their life together, the forever he had promised the young man, was ending.  He grunted, wanting to scream.  Finally, he looked at the computer and typed, “I have to go through the Stargate!”

“Okay, you have to go through the Stargate.  Where?  Where to?”

Jack was sure he'd explode at any second.  Not only did he not know, but he didn't know how to say that he didn't know.

“Back to the planet where this happened?  You have to go back there?” Daniel questioned.

Jack could only shake his head.

“Well,” Daniel said as he turned back to his desk.  “Let's try reviewing this top section again.”

Daniel heard a crashing sound, and turned to see Jack had shoved books off the table in a sweeping motion of total irritation.  He looked at Daniel, eyes full of apology.  He hadn't planned to take out his anger; it had just happened.

“It's okay,” Daniel said, moving to pick up the books.  Jack kneeled down and helped.  As Daniel started to move upwards, the older man reached out and touched his shoulder.  “Jack, I understand.  It's okay.  Just ... don't do that to the artifacts.”

Just as the two stood up, Janet entered.

“Colonel, it's time to run the next set of tests.”

Jack looked at his lover, not wanting to leave him, and Daniel himself was torn between wanting to be with Jack and the need to keep working on the material that might save him.

“Um, I need to keep working on this.  I'll meet you in the infirmary in a little while.”

Reluctantly, Jack left with Janet.

====

Later on, when things took a disastrous turn, Daniel was called to the control room.  They listened with alarm to Sam's message through the Stargate.

“We're in a little trouble here,” Sam stated in her desert BDUs, a scarf covering her head from the sun.  “We can't dial out.  The DHD seized up when we tried to send the probe back.  Temperature here is increasing rapidly which probably explains why we haven't found indigenous life forms. The probe's data did not reveal a second sun, which rose about half an hour ago.  General, we're gonna get a heckuva sunburn if we stay here much longer.”

When the transmission ended, Daniel and Hammond shared a nervous look.

“I think Jack can help,” Daniel opined.

“Doctor Jackson, I know you're excited by much of what we've learned, but Colonel O'Neill is in no shape to help anyone.  We ...”

“Excuse me, General.  The President is calling,” Hammond's assistant called out.

“We'll continue this later,” the major general noted.  “Son, Captain Carter will find a way for them to get home.”

“Yes, Sir,” Daniel responded.

====

“Colonel, what are you doing?”

After the exam had finished, Jack had sat quietly, knowing he should stay with Janet until Daniel came to get him, but suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped in his brain, he knew he had something to do.  He bolted off the table and began looking around for pieces of equipment.

Janet followed him as he went to Daniel's office to retrieve the bulb from the staff weapon, then to a storage room where he grabbed pieces of equipment.  Not sure what to do, the petite doctor decided it was best just to keep up with the colonel, so wherever he went, she kept pace with him.

Finally, with an arm full of supplies, Jack suddenly stopped and looked at her expectantly.

“What?”

Jack motioned, as if he would follow her.

“You want to know where you can go to work on ... this?” Janet asked.  When Jack nodded, she responded, “You can work in one of the infirmary labs.  How's that sound?”

Again, Jack nodded, following Janet to one of the available labs.

====

A while later, Daniel returned to the infirmary to check on Jack and give Janet an update.  As he entered, he saw that his lover was building something with the green naquadah bulb.  Neither he nor Janet had a clue what the device was.

Daniel loved watching Jack work with his hands, and he wished they were home, Jack building a model plane, instead of here in the middle of yet another nightmare.  After watching for a minute, Daniel led Janet away from Jack's work area, not wanting him to overhear.

“I have to go downstairs.  Sam and Teal'c are in trouble,” Daniel confided quietly.

“What?” Janet asked.

“Just don't tell Jack.  I think he's got enough on his mind.”

====

A while after Hammond had concluded his call, he and Daniel listened to what the scientists and technicians gathered in the briefing room had to say in their efforts to try and get SG-1 home.

One of the experts remarked, “Sir, this Mylar material added to a standard issue field tent should provide ten to twenty degrees worth of protection.”

Sergeant Siler added, “We've augmented some air coolers to work with portable generators.”

Daniel was glad they weren't in his department.  For the first time, he wanted to fire someone.  Enhanced tents and coolers were a stop-gap, not a solution.  He asked a bit sarcastically, “But how are they gonna get home?”

The expert responded, “Well, based on Captain Carter's description of the problem, we've been running probability tests using the function data we correlated so far from the DHD found in Antarctica.”

Hammond looked at Daniel and asked, “Do you understand what he said?”

Daniel stared downward and answered irritably, “It sounds like they have no idea.”

The expert spoke up in his defense, “Well, actually, it's not 'no idea', Sir, just not much of one yet.”

Siler added, “... but we're working on it.”

Daniel stared at them, as did Hammond, making the two men at the other end of the room nervous.  Daniel found the whole discussion incredulous.

~I don't believe this.~

“Look, I realize physics isn't my area of expertise, but the problem is getting them home, not helping them to be ... more comfortable.  How is spending your time working on improvements to equipment going to help them?”

“We're working on it, Doctor Jackson” the expert reiterated.

“Well, work harder.”  Daniel blinked and sighed.  His tone had been condescending and harsh.  Looking down at the general, he apologized.  “I'm sorry, Sir.”

“No need, Doctor.  It's been a long two days, and we're all a little punchy.  However,” Hammond stood and looked at the table of experts, centering on Siler, “Sergeant Siler, Doctor Jackson is right.  Your focus should be on the equipment failure of the DHD.”

“Yes, General,” Siler acknowledged, glancing at the very nervous expert.

====

“Hey, Jack,” Daniel greeted, entering the lab where Jack worked.

Jack looked up briefly, but then returned to his project.

“He's very focused, Daniel,” the redheaded doctor spoke unnecessarily.

“Yeah,” Daniel agreed from his few seconds of observation.  “Um, Janet, I'll stay with him for a little bit.”

“Okay,” Janet acknowledged.  “I haven't had anything to eat.  I'll be back in thirty minutes.”

“Thanks.”

Daniel sat across from Jack and watched.  Every now and then his lover would look up and they'd share a glance.  The younger man wondered if he could be more useful elsewhere, but each time Jack looked at him, he had the feeling that he was comforting him, so he stayed.

====

When twenty-five minutes had passed, Daniel knew Janet would be returning soon.  He stood and walked to his soulmate.

“Jack, Janet will be back in a minute, and then I have to go back to work.  It's ... important, or I'd stay here.  If you need me, tell Janet, and I'll be come right back.”

Jack hadn't acknowledged Daniel, being so engrossed in the object he was building.

“Well, if you need me ...” Daniel said with a sigh, starting to turn away.  He felt fingers on his arm and turned to see Jack looking at him.  “What?”

Jack looked down, finding a paper, and wrote, “Always need you.”

Daniel smiled, and like he had done before, he put the paper in his wallet.  He shrugged when he saw Jack watching him.

“I told you -- major sap.”

“Anything new?” Janet asked as she walked back into the room.

“No, not really.  He's pretty focused on this ... whatever it is,” Daniel replied.  “I'll be in my office or the control room.”

Janet acknowledged the statement and then sat down on a stool, curious as to what Jack was trying to build.

====

A while later, Daniel took in Sam's latest report, the downward spiral continuing.

“By my calculations we could be facing a temperature of over two-hundred degrees Fahrenheit in less than four hours,” the captain relayed through the MALP.

Taking a copy of the videotape, Daniel returned to the infirmary.  Jack was putting the final touches on the device he was building.  It was the same machine he had drawn on his notepad during the first briefing after SG-1 had first returned from P3R-272.

Daniel asked what the device was so Jack turned it on.  It made a noise and lit up.  The archaeologist stared at it, having no idea what it could be, but neither did he have time to think about it now.

Daniel indicated for Jack to follow him, saying, “Believe it or not, I have something a little more important to discuss.”  When the three arrived in his office, he put a tape on the VCR.  “I didn't want to tell you this before because I thought you had enough on your mind.  Sam, Teal'c, and the rest of SG-1 are in trouble.  The DHD on P9Q-281 isn't working, and they can't get home.  To make matters worse, there's a very hot sun rising.  They don't have much time.”

Daniel pressed 'play' and let Jack listen to part of Sam's last report.  Her words clearly relayed the problem.

“... The rest of the symbols won't engage.  The DHD is locking the Gate in place, so we can't dial out manually.  I've tried everything I know about these things.”

Daniel stopped the tape there.  Something inside the young man said Jack would be able to fix the problem.  He wasn't sure why, but he was sure Jack knew much more than just an ancient language.  That had already been proven by the machine code that added all the new Stargate addresses to the destination map.  Daniel knew there could be no limit to the knowledge downloaded into Jack's brain.

Speaking frankly to his lover, Daniel said, “Look, no one else believes that you have the knowledge of the original Gate builders in your head right now except me.”

Jack heard the trust and the expectation.  Daniel believed Jack could solve the puzzle and bring their friends and co-workers back home safely.  He wished he could say something to Daniel, but all he could do was show the young man that his faith was not misplaced.  He went around the room, gathering supplies from tabletops and drawers, then returned to the center work table.  Spreading out a large sheet of paper, he began to draw.

Daniel and Janet approached, trying to understand the colonel's actions.

“What ... What's he doing?” Janet asked.

“I don't know.”

“Do you think this is going to help?” the doctor asked.

“I ... I don't ... I really don't ... know.”

Jack loved Daniel, but he needed to concentrate on his work.  He wrote a note on a piece of paper and tossed it to his lover.

Daniel looked at it and read it out loud:  “Shut up and go away.”  He gave his lover a tiny salute as he moved away.  ~That's My Jack.~

Janet also backed off, motioning to Daniel that she'd be back later as she left the room.

~That may be the only time I ever salute you, Babe.  Now, just make sure you bring Sam and Teal'c home ... and ... and then figure out how to come back to me,~ Daniel pleaded mentally.

Jack looked over at his lover and smiled.

**Did you hear that?**

Jack continued to smile, though there was no acknowledgement in words, verbal or mental.

**Well, if you can hear me, then ... you know I'm not good at this.  It's a huge shortcoming, but ... I ... I ... love you.**

Jack continued to smile before returning to his task.  Daniel wasn't sure if Jack had understood or not.

~I need you, Jack.  Gawd, I need you.~

====

Several minutes later, Janet returned, whispering, “Any progress?”

Daniel responded, “I don't know.  He's been drawing, but I can't tell what it is.”

~Curious.~  Janet moved to the table for a closer look.  When she moved back near Daniel, she said, “It's certainly complex.”

Seeing a glare from Jack, the two ceased their conversation and watched quietly.

====

One hour later, Daniel stood and walked over to Jack's side.  The drawing was almost done.

“Jack, it's the ...” Daniel began.

“Resaurca,” Jack said, interrupting his lover and pointing to the detailed writings he had made next to the design.

“Gawd, Jack,” Daniel expressed in surprise, staring at the drawing, realizing that Jack was pointing out the step-by-step instructions on how to solve the problem and repair the DHD.  “We need to get this to the general.”

====

Jack, Daniel, and Janet hurriedly entered the briefing room where Hammond, Siler, and others were still working on the problem.

“We have to dial in right now,” Daniel stated forcefully as he held the object Jack had built.

The general asked, “What is it?”

“The colonel has a solution,” Janet explained.

Totally shocked, the expert asked, “He does?”

Jack unrolled the large diagram he had drawn onto the table in front of Siler as Daniel explained, “We weren't sure what he was drawing at first, but ...”

“That's the dial home device,” the expert stated.

Daniel added, “And the instructions on how to fix it.  There isn't much time.”  Just before walking out, Daniel put the device Jack built onto the table, saying, “Here, you guys can, uh, work on this for a while.”

“What is it?” the expert asked.

Daniel had waited for this.  Snarkily, replied, “No idea, well not 'no idea', just not much of one yet, but work on it.”

Hammond ordered Jack's plans for the DHD repairs to be sent through  the Stargate, and then, everyone waited.

The clock was ticking as the heat rose on the planet, but finally, almost another hour later, the klaxons blared, and SG-1 returned without major injury.  As she walked down the ramp, Sam was stunned when she learned Jack was responsible for saving them.  Teal'c was grateful as well, but he was more sorry that they hadn't learned anything that would be of help to Jack's current situation.

====

“Did you guys make any progress on this?” Daniel asked the scientists in the briefing room.

“No, Doctor Jackson,” the expert admitted.

“We can't figure out what it does,” Siler added.

Jack shook his head, grabbed the object, and turned and looked at Daniel.  His eyes spoke loudly.  Daniel didn't need words to recognize the “let's get out of here” stare.

====

Some time later, Sam joined her friends in the infirmary and was shown the machine Jack built.

“Colonel, you have no idea what it is or why you built it?”

The leader of SG-1 shook his head, the heel of his hand buried in his left eye.  Daniel couldn't stand not being able to hold Jack.  He looked so alone, so desperate.

All of a sudden, the klaxons began to sound, and Sam was paged to control room because the Stargate wouldn't dial out.

As she checked the readings, Sam informed the general, “The Stargate's trying to draw more power than usual from the system.”

====

Without any indication of his intentions, Jack dramatically picked up the device and exited the room.

“I'm guessing we should follow him,” Daniel told Teal'c.

They followed Jack to the power vault and watched as Jack studied the main breaker.  He opened the box and prepared to hook his device up to the system as Daniel and Teal'c stood by nervously.

“Should we not attempt to stop him, DanielJackson?” the Jaffa questioned.

“Wait a minute,” Daniel requested, having enormous faith in his lover.  “Jack, what are you doing?”

“Euge,” Jack answered as he affixed the device to the door of the breaker box, lights beginning to flicker inside the device.

“I think that means 'good'.”  Daniel was still concerned as he watched Jack hook up cables to the machine.  “Jack, I really don't know if this is a good thing.”

Jack said as reassuringly as he could, “Euge.  Euge.”

Daniel suddenly felt a coldness he hadn't before.  Even though the two lovers had lost the ability to speak the same language earlier, they'd still had a connection.  Suddenly, though, Daniel felt like a wire had been cut.

Sadly, Daniel commented, “I don't think he understands us anymore.”

Jack finished his task, flipped on a switch, and then observed the device as it began to hum and glow.

====

Unaware of what was happening in the power vault at that moment, Sam noted unusual readings as she continued to work on the problem in the control room.

“Sir, somehow the Stargate just got a huge power boost.  It's drawing ten times more power than normal.”  She informed the general the Stargate had begun to dial out, chevron by chevron locking into place.  “We've completely lost control, Sir,” she said.

A minute later, Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c entered the room and took in what was happening.

Daniel informed Hammond, “The device that Jack built is some sort of energy source.  He just hooked it up in the power vault.”

Hammond scowled at his Head of Archaeology, not at all pleased that he had allowed Jack to access the power vault and to attach some strange mechanical object to it.

As Sam made some suggestions on how they might shut the Gate down, Daniel interrupted, “Wait.  Jack has been saying that this is a good thing.  Now, so far he's done nothing bad.”

“So far,” Hammond echoed back in an annoyed tone.

The debate ceased when Lieutenant Graham Simmons, while doing the usual announcement of the locking chevrons, said, “Chevron seven ... is encoded?”

The entire room was shocked.  He should have said locked, and the Stargate kawoosh should have been visible.  Encoded meant there was more to come. There was an unspoken excitement of the new discovery, though it was tempered by the severity of their situation and Jack's current state of mind.

Sam noted, “And it's not the point of origin.”

“What?” Hammond asked.

“General, what if all these anomalies that have been happening to Jack are part of some big plan?” Daniel asked.

“What plan?”

The archaeologist answered, “Well, earlier Jack was telling me he had to go through the Gate.  Maybe everything up until now has been leading to this.”

Simmons announced, “Chevron *eight* is locked.”

Sam checked the equipment and stated that the wormhole had a destination far outside of their galaxy.

“That's why the Gate needed all the extra power,” Daniel deduced.

A confused Hammond wanted clarification and spoke, “Hold on.  I thought Stargate addresses were six points in space with the seventh being the point of origin.”

Sam surmised, “The extra chevron must add a new distance calculation to the existing points.  It's kind of like dialing a different area code.”

“Now what?” Hammond queried, looking at his second-in-command.

Jack's response was to turn and start to exit the room.

“Colonel,” Hammond called out as a Marine blocked Jack's path.

The general was hesitant to let the man go, still having far more questions than answers.

Daniel, however, knew they didn't have a choice and said, “He's already gone, General.  I don't think we have much of a choice.”

The Marine stepped aside, and Jack walked briskly to the gate room, stopping at the foot of the ramp to stare at the shimmering circle of water.  Daniel, Hammond, and Teal'c followed.

When Teal'c offered to accompany Jack, Daniel told him that Jack needed to go alone.

~Besides, if anyone goes with him, it's me.  I don't care what I'd have to do ... but ... I know he has to go alone.  Gawd, it's a nightmare.~

Jack walked up the ramp slowly, stopping to watch some more before going through.

At that point, Sam entered the gate room, urgency in her voice as she reminded, “Wait, without the remote code device he won't be able to get back.”

Jack was already several feet up on the ramp leading to the Stargate.

The major general spoke hopefully, “I really hope this is the right thing to do.”

~Right?  I have no idea.~  Daniel's expression was pained.  He felt his own body aching.  **Jack?  Gawd, you can't hear me.  Jack, I hope this is the right thing.  I just ... I want you to live.**

Hammond wished he could give Jack the remote code device, but he refused, saying, “Without knowing where he's going and why, that could put us in further jeopardy.  I'm sorry, I can't authorize it.”

Reality hit Daniel like a ton of bricks.  He might never see his lover again.  His heart beating faster than ever, he ran up the ramp, calling out to his soulmate.

“Jack.  You understand that if you do this, if you go, you might not be able to come back.”

Jack looked at Daniel, still wishing he could say what he needed to, but he didn't understand Daniel's words.  He did, however, understand the message in his eyes.  Their exchange was long and sad.  Neither knew if their forever was about to end in the next five seconds.

Finally, Jack walked through the Stargate, leaving Daniel alone.

**Come back to me, Jack.  Find a way.  Please find a way.**

For several minutes after the Stargate shutdown, Daniel simply stared at it.  No one bothered him, all knowing that Jack and Daniel were best friends.  The young man was in a bit of a daze, wanting what had just happened to have been some kind of crazy daydream.  He had an incredible need to hold Jack in his arms, to feel the strength of Jack's body against his.  It was an urgent need that reached down into Daniel's soul, and not being able to act on it, stilled his heart in an awful loneliness that he thought might just destroy him.

Meanwhile, Sam worked in the control room, trying to get the computers back online.  Still, she was aware of Daniel's presence near the ramp in the gate room. While he had finally moved off the ramp and to the right side of it, he was still there, as if holding a silent vigil.

Finally, Sam looked at the general and requested, “Sir, would you mind if I took just a minute to ...” she wasn't really sure what to say, so just looked out the window at the archaeologist standing still as a statue, arms folded.  ~How do I ask?  What do I say?~

Sam didn't need to say anything as Hammond completely understood and replied, “Go ahead, Captain, but make it quick.  We need you working on this.”

“Yes, Sir.  Thank you, Sir.”

Sam scooted instantly out of her chair and jogged into the gate room, slowing as she approached her friend.  She looked around at the scattered Marines and technicians working in the area.  She needed to watch her words carefully.

“Daniel, why don't you come in the control room?  I'm working on the computers, and I could use your help,” the blonde requested.

 Daniel blinked a couple of times and turned, staring at her.

Gently touching his arm, Sam encouraged, “Come on.  I need you in there with me.”

“Why?  I don't know anything about computer programming.  I mean, not that stuff,” Daniel questioned.

With a smile, Sam answered, “You're the best thinker we have on base, probably on the planet.  Please?  Besides, it's better than just standing here and waiting.”

“Oh.”

Daniel knew he was being too open with his emotions, but he couldn't help it.  His body language and expression reeked of sorrow, and staring at the Stargate like a lovesick puppy wasn't helping.  Still, he felt like his world had just ended.

“Let's go.”

“Thanks, Sam.”

====

Jack practically flew through the Stargate, emerging in mid-air, rolling down several steps, until he finally came to a stop.  On his belly, he cautiously looked around.  He wasn't alone.

Stunned, the colonel watched as two small, gray alien beings moved to his side. Shifting to rest on his bent legs, he spoke to them in the alien language, asking for help.  The aliens studied Jack carefully and discussed his plea for assistance.  After a moment, one extended his hand, revealing a small, circular device embedded in the palm.  It flickered as he pointed it at Jack.  Within seconds, Jack collapsed to the floor and lost consciousness as he lay on his back.

--

Not long thereafter, Jack awakened, again seeing the two alien beings, only now, he realized he was free of the downloaded language.

Still lying down, Jack greeted, “Hello,” and then slowly moved to his knees and said, “Um. Thank you.”

The first alien responded, “You are welcome.”

“You understand me?” a surprised Jack asked.

“We speak many languages,” the second alien explained.

“You're the Asgard -- Thor's race, right?”

“You have heard of us?” the first Asgard asked.

“Nothing but good things.”

As they talked, the Asgard informed Jack that the archive device that stored the knowledge of the Ancients was not meant for human beings.

Tthe first alien explained, “Human physiology has not advanced to the point where your brain could handle that technology.”

The Asgard told Jack he had come to them on Othala in the Ida galaxy, his subconscious mind leading him to the planet, knowing he could get help there.  They were impressed that he had been able to draw on that knowledge.  They explained that they had studied the human race closely.

The second Asgard concluded, “Your species has great potential.”

“Great potential.  That's good,” Jack responded.  ~But I really want to go home.~

The first Asgard then gave Jack some important information, saying, “Understand this.  There was once an alliance of four great races in the galaxy: the Asgard, the Nox ...”

“Met them,” the colonel acknowledged.  ~Love them actually.  Great folks.~

“... the Furlings ...”

“Don't know them,” Jack responded.  ~Cute name, though.~

“... and the Ancients, the builders of the Stargates,” the Asgard continued.

Jack noted, “That's a pretty heady group.”  ~And Danny was right!  Not surprised.  He always is.~

The little alien elaborated, “The alliance was built over many millennia.  Your race has much to prove before we may interact on that level.”

~At least you didn't say we're too young; okay, maybe it's the same thing.~  Jack stood up and approached the two, thin beings.  “Look, you all seem to be quite wonderful ... people.”  He knelt down to be on eye level again.  “And I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I really, really appreciate you getting all that stuff out of my head, but you folks should understand that we're out there, now, and we might not be ready for a lot of this stuff, but we're doing the best we can.  We are a very curious race.”

The Asgard exchanged glances, and then the first one extended out his hand.  Jack took it.  Gently, the two lifeforms shook hands.  Jack stood up again as other Asgard looked on and walked forward to join them.

The second Asgard spoke, “You have already taken the first steps towards becoming the fifth race.”

====

Sam was having a difficult time as she worked on the computers in the control room.  While she continued her efforts, Siler reported that the device attached to the breaker box had burned itself out.  Hammond grew more frustrated and barked at Sam to get control of the system back immediately.

Daniel stood by silently until a familiar sound caused him to come to alert.  The sound was that of the Stargate as it began to activate, the chevrons engaging, one by one.

“We have an incoming wormhole,” Sam announced.

In what seemed like an eternity to Daniel, everyone waited to see who or what would come through.  Daniel's arms were folded, his fingers pressing tightly to the point of pain against his skin.  His breathing was labored, and he blinked a few times as he stared at the large circular ring that was the source of so much pain and joy in his life.

**Jack.  Please be Jack,** Daniel communicated.  He was afraid to move, his heart longed to see his lover, to know he was safe.  It had seemed like an eternity since Jack had walked through the Stargate, not the mere hour it had been in reality.  **I need you, Jack.**

Finally, Jack O'Neill walked calmly through the event horizon.  Hammond breathed a sigh of relief, a smile appearing on his face.  Daniel and Teal'c quickly left for the gate room, arriving at the foot of the ramp before Jack's slow walk took him there.

At that point, Sam checked the computers, reporting, “Everything seems to be back online again, Sir, including the iris.”

“Good work, Captain,” Hammond praised, unaware the Captain hadn't done a thing.

Jack had purposely ambled slowly down the ramp.  He took it all in, the cold, gray room he had often taken for granted, but which, right now,  looked like a luxurious suite.  The room suddenly took a back seat, though, to the man waiting for him just another foot or so away.

Staring at his lover, Jack had a difficult time looking at anyone else besides Daniel.  He almost gave the entire room something to ask and tell about on the spot.

~Be strong, Jack Boy.~  Jack saved himself by giving Teal'c a quick look.  It was a tiny diversion that helped him maintain his strength.  Then he looked into Daniel's eyes.  “I'm back.”

“What happened?” Daniel asked, full of curiosity which he focused on in an attempt to control his urgent need to take his lover into his arms.

Jack had the same need, so much so that he couldn't even answer the question.  He was locked onto Daniel's face, the only image he wanted to see at the moment.

**Geez, I love you,** Jack communicated.

Before they could do or say anything else, Teal'c questioned, “Do you still possess the knowledge of the Ancients?”

“Nope,” Jack answered happily.  “Don't remember a thing.”  Again, he gazed at his soulmate.  He just couldn't look anywhere else.  “But you know that meaning of life stuff?”  After Daniel nodded slightly, he opined, “I think we're gonna be all right.”  **Earth, and us, Danny.  We have a lot to talk about.  Did I tell you I love you?**

~He's real; he's here; he ... came back.~  Daniel nodded.  He didn't even trust his mind to talk.  He wanted to hold Jack, needed to, desperately.  Looking up towards the general, Daniel called out, “I'll ... make sure Jack gets to the infirmary.”

“Very well, Doctor.  We'll debrief in one hour,” Hammond acknowledged from the control room.

“Excuse us, Teal'c,” Daniel said, starting to exit, Jack following, knowing what was happening.

“I will accompany you ...” Teal'c began to offer.

“No!” came two quick, instantaneous responses.

Jack and Daniel looked at each other as Teal'c stood, an eyebrow raised.

“Teal'c, I think Daniel just has a thousand questions.  I'm gonna satisfy his curiosity before he ... explodes,” Jack stated.  “:I'm fine.  We'll see you at the debriefing.”

“As you wish,” Teal'c replied, watching as his teammates hurried off.  ~I will kelno'reem,~ he decided and headed towards his quarters.  As he did so, the Jaffa caught sight of Jack and Daniel ducking into a storage room.  As he passed, he heard the sound of the door locking.  He stood for a moment, raised his eyebrows, and thought, ~The Tau'ri have strange rituals.~

====

The lovers said nothing for five minutes as they kissed, long, deep, wet kisses, their hands roaming the other freely, yet possessively.  They needed tactile reassurance, much more than what they were able to do now, but this was better than nothing, and they knew they could only afford to take a few minutes to indulge themselves.

“Jack.  Gawd, I was so scared.”

“Me, too, Danny.  I thought I'd never see you again.  It's why I went through the Gate,” the older man explained.

“I don't understand.”

Jack explained, “The answer had to be there.  Any risk was worth it ... for this,” he said, kissing his lover again.

“Jack,” Daniel sighed, resting his head on the older man's shoulder.  “I love you.”

“Love you, too.  Hey, we'd better go let Fraiser play with my brain, or they'll come looking for us.”

“Yeah, I know, and then the briefing.  It's going to be long,” Daniel theorized in a depressed tone.

Jack couldn't stand for his lover being sad, so he began to formulate a plan as he said, “Let's go, Love.”

Daniel nodded as he reluctantly pulled out of Jack's hold, and the two went to the infirmary.

====

Quietly, Daniel waited in the corner of the room while Janet conducted her tests and reviewed the results on the monitor.

“Well, Colonel, it looks like you're back to normal,” Janet said as she made a few notes in Jack's medical file.

“Well, that's good ... I guess,” Daniel quipped.

“You guess?” Jack asked, giving his lover a funny look.  “What could be better than this?” he asked, hopping off the hospital bed he had been sitting on and spreading his arms out to indicate himself.

“Hmm.  Let me see,” Daniel thought.  “That MacGyver guy, Patrick Swayze ...” Daniel almost beamed, “... Harrison Ford ...”

“Okay, okay, geez.  Maybe I'll go back.  I was appreciated there,” Jack remarked.

Daniel teased, “They just don't know you yet.”

“They knew me, and they *liked* me!” the colonel exclaimed.

“No accounting for taste,” Daniel replied, shaking his head.

Janet smiled at the two as they continued their little game.  She knew perfectly well Daniel was ecstatic about Jack's return, and they were simply having fun in their own unique way.

“You're excused, Colonel.  I'll send my official report to General Hammond tomorrow after I have a chance to review all the data ... and get some sleep.”

“Doc, I know you gave up a lot of your time when you didn't have to.  Thanks,” Jack intoned gratefully.

“It's my job, Colonel,” Janet replied, dismissing the praise.

Jack smiled.  It was more than that, and they all knew it.  Janet was part of their extended family.  If she had wanted to, she could easily have handed over the night shift to Doctor Warner, or another physician on staff, but she didn't.

“Well, thanks anyway,” Jack said before walking out, Daniel at his side.  “Admit it, Daniel,” he urged said as they walked down the halls of the SGC.  “What could be better than me?”

Without hesitating, Daniel responded, “Hmm.  Coffee.  Chocolate.  The beach.  Arti...”

“Don't you *dare* say a rock is better than me!” Jack complained vehemently at the first sign of the word.

“Artifacts,” Daniel stated, his smile broad.

“Rocks,” Jack groaned.

“Artifacts,” the archaeologist repeated, sounding out the word slowly and distinctly.

“Sedimentary gravel,” Jack countered.

“Treasured relics.”

“Pebbles and stones,” the colonel accused.

Not missing a beat, Daniel offered, “Ancient indicators of who we are and how we got here.”

“Rocks.”

“Artifacts.”

Several SGC personnel had passed the two, all exchanging looks.  Jack and Daniel were known for their private banter and sometime arguments.  Mostly, people simply cleared the path and let them pass, and that's what happened now, and all the while, the two lovers were completely oblivious to the fact they were the topic of many discussions as they made their way to the briefing room.

“Daniel, they are nothing but simple rocks,” the colonel claimed.

“There's nothing simple about an artifact, Jack,” Daniel pointed out as he went to his chair.

“It's a *rock*, Daniel.”

“Jack, you need glasses.”

“To see a rock?  If I wanted to see rocks, I'd turn on 'The Flintstones' and watch Fred and Barney at the quarry,” Jack stated.

“Oh, I'm sorry.  I understand now.  We're interfering with your play time!” Daniel retaliated.

“Colonel.  Doctor.  If you don't mind ...” General Hammond requested, his eyes boring into both men.

Jack and Daniel were stunned into silence as they faced each other from across the table.

**Oh gawd.**

“Sorry, Sir,” Jack said contritely as he sat down.

“I apologize, General, but Jack was having difficulties realizing the difference between an artifact and a rock.”

“Same thing,” Jack mumbled.

“Colonel,” the general called out.

“Yes, Sir?” Jack responded innocently.

“I take it you're feeling better?” Hammond questioned.

“Good as new, Sir.  Ready to go.  Uh, home, that is.  I'd really like to get some sleep, General,” Jack requested.

Hammond nodded and replied, “I realize it's been a very long couple of days, and you're all tired, but I think we need to get the basics down before ...”

“Uh, excuse me, Sir, I don't mean to interrupt ... exactly, but don't we already know the basics?” Jack challenged.

Hammond reared his head back a bit, and Jack knew he'd better say what he had to say carefully.

“General, all I'm saying is that I'm tired,” Jack admitted.  “The Doc says I'm fine, and I feel fine, but I also know that no one in this room has had much sleep, if at all.  I don't remember the knowledge that was put into my brain, but I do remember how my team functioned, and you, and Doctor Fraiser ... and others; and I think we could all use some time to catch up on our personal affairs and get some sleep.”

**Well done, Love,** Daniel communicated.  Verbally, he added, “And, General, I think, uh, we shouldn't take what happened to Jack lightly.  It's been a long few days for him.”

**Thank you, Danny.**

“To be honest, Sir,” Sam interjected.  “I think the colonel and Daniel are right.  I'd like to study the data some more, too, before we get into too much detail.”

Sam slipped her friends a covert smile, and received a subtle nod of thanks from both Jack and Daniel.

Hammond sighed, then nodded his head as he spoke, “Very well.  SG-1, take twenty-four hours, and we'll meet back here Tuesday at 1100 hours for a complete review of this situation.”

“Thank you, General,” Jack said, practically grinning at Daniel as they stood up and waited for the major general to leave the room.

“Dismissed,” Hammond ordered, trying not to think about the grin he'd just seen on Jack's face.

====

“Home, sweet, home,” Jack chimed as he walked into his house.  He turned to his lover and took him into his arms.  “You've been very quiet.”

“No, I'm just ... listening to you talk.  I missed hearing your voice.”

Jack placed a tender kiss on Daniel's lips, then nibbled a bit on the lower lip before slipping his tongue inside the young man's mouth.  Daniel lunged forward, leaning into Jack.  A moaning sound came from his throat, and they had to separate for air.  When they did, Daniel leaned his forehead against Jack's, his right hand stroking across Jack's heart.  His head shook slightly as they stood in the living room.

“Hey, what's wrong?” Jack asked.

“Nothing.  We just came so close to ... losing everything.”  Daniel slid his arms under Jack's, resting his head on his shoulder.  “I didn't know if I'd ever be able to do this again.”

“I know,” Jack acknowledged.  He rubbed his cheek against Daniel's shaggy hair and gently caressed his lover's back.  “Tired?”

“Yes,” Daniel admitted.  “When's the last time we slept?”

“Well, I've passed out a few times, remember?” Jack chuckled.

“Oh, yeah.”

After a moment, Jack urged, “Let's go to bed.”

“Actually, Jack, let's go up on the roof for a while first,” Daniel requested, still wanting to process the events a bit more in his mind.

“It's a little chilly outside,” Jack reminded.

“That's okay.”

The two detoured to the kitchen to see if there was something to snack on.

Jack let out a grunt and observed, “Uh, Danny, the apples aren't ... apples anymore.”

“And your bread isn't exactly anything I'd want to go near, even on a dig.”

Jack opened another shelf, pulled out a box, and asked, “Froot Loops?”

Daniel chuckled his agreement, and then they went up to the roof deck.

Jack started to sit down against the wall, but Daniel stopped him, saying, “No.”

“What, Love?” Jack asked.

“I ...” Daniel moved to sit down, leaning up against the wall, letting his legs stretch out.  He reached up for his lover, who smiled.  ~My turn.~

Normally, it was Daniel who would position himself in front of the older man.  He'd lean his head back to rest against Jack's left shoulder, and while he did that, Jack would wrap his arms around him, holding Daniel both tenderly and securely.  Now, it was Jack who, for the first time since their eternal love affair had begun, took the position in front.

As he leaned back, Jack turned his head towards Daniel, popping a quick kiss on his cheek, and then he settled into his lover's hold.

Daniel sighed contently.  He closed his eyes as he held Jack to him.

“Danny, are you okay?”

“I was afraid I'd never get to do this again,” Daniel admitted.

“We've never ...”

“No, I mean hold you.  Gawd, Jack, so many times during the last forty-eight hours I just wanted to hold you close, and I couldn't.  I couldn't feel your skin next to mine, couldn't touch your fingers, couldn't ... do anything.  I want this.  I ... need this.”

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

Then Jack suggested, “You know, this is nice.  I think we should flip flop like this more often, maybe all the time.”

“Let's not go overboard, Jack,” Daniel replied quickly.

Jack smiled.  He knew Daniel needed to be held, a lot, and it was his special honor and treat to be the one Daniel let do just that.  His lover's issues of abandonment ran deep, and being held helped him feel loved and wanted.

Daniel unbuttoned Jack's shirt as they sat.  Jack said nothing, just let his lover do whatever he wanted.  He loved being Daniel's “toy” of choice.  Soon, he felt Daniel's hands caressing his abdomen, sometimes moving up to stroke his pectorals, and then he'd feel a finger twisting around his chest hair, something else Daniel seemed to love to do.

“Jack, where'd you go ... when you went through the Stargate?” the archaeologist asked.

“Some Asgard planet ... Othunkit or something.”

“Jack!”

“Othala is what they called it,” Jack clarified as he became serious.  “Danny, I'm telling you it was like watching the last scene from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'.  All these little gray guys that are about the size of toothpicks ... all over the place.”  He heard his lover chuckle, but then grow quiet.  He shifted slightly so that he could look at his lover's face.  “I wish you could have seen it.”

Daniel turned to looked at Jack, surprised at the comment.  He brought his left hand up to run through the fine strands of Jack's silver-gray hair.  He smiled in acceptance at just how well Jack O'Neill knew him.

“It's horrible to be jealous of something like that, but ... the knowledge, Jack ... all that knowledge about things that would answer so many questions.  I can't stop thinking about it,” the younger man admitted.

“Daniel, if it had been you, I'd have lost you, and I can't stand the thought of that.”

Chocolate brown eyes met blue eyes that were darkened at the moment.  Their gaze was steady as Daniel's fingers continued their massaging stroll through his partner's hair.

“You would have found a way,” Daniel spoke with conviction.

“Danny, no one ... NO ONE ... at the SGC or anywhere else on this planet has the ability to solve a linguistic puzzle the way you did with the speed you did it in.  You realized what was happening.  You fought for me, to let me do what I needed to ... to find Othala.  I couldn't have done that.  Geez, I'd be so alone now.”

“Jack ... gawd, how you make me feel.”

“Good, I hope.”

Daniel nodded and leaned over to share a kiss before they looked back up at the stars.

“Danny, we missed the concert,” Jack suddenly remembered about the concert they'd planned on attending.

“That's okay, Jack.  I, uh, like it when we just stay here and you, well, you wear ... no buttons,” the archaeologist chuckled a bit lustily.

“Me, too,” Jack agreed, though he knew by tomorrow night his Love would probably change his mind.  Either way was fine with him.  ~I'll do anything to make him happy.~

“Tell me more,” the curious archaeologist requested, adding, “I mean, about the Asgard.”

“You'll like this,” Jack opined.  “They said we had the potential to become the fifth great race.”

“Great race?  Fifth?”

“Yeah, Danny, the Nox are one of them.”

“Asgard?” Daniel questioned with a tiny, confused scowl.

“No, one of the four races that had this alliance thing.  It was them, the Asgard, the Ancients ...”

“Jack, did they say anything about the Ancients?” Daniel interrupted, eager to know if his theories had any real substance to them.

Jack smiled.  He brought up his left hand as he turned his body a bit to get a better look at Daniel.  His palm caressed the cheek.

“You were right,” Jack stated proudly.  “They said it -- the Ancients built the Stargates.”

Daniel broke into a hesitant smile.  It started and stopped, then started again.  His breathing deepened as he took it in.

Jack moved forward to kiss his soulmate, and then he repeated, “Love, you were so right.”

“The builders of roads, all roads,” Daniel said softly.  “I knew it, Jack.”

Jack returned to his previous position.  Daniel's hand moved down to wrap around his abdomen once again, and he felt his lover's cheek resting on his head.  He felt alive, happy and alive.

“Who's the fourth race?” Daniel asked after a couple of minutes.

“Uh ... some group called the Furlings.”

“Furlings?  I've never heard of them,” Daniel noted, his brain searching for the name through thousands of references he'd read in his lifetime.

“That's what I told them, but they didn't elaborate on who they were.  Danny, what does that mean?” the older man wondered.  “Four great races and some mystic alliance.”

Daniel answered, “It means we're going in the right direction.  It means you need to keep asking questions, Jack, and not just looking at the obvious.  It means you need to be the man I know you are.”

“I'm just a run-down colonel.  I follow orders.”

“No, you're not, and you know it,” Daniel spoke forcefully.  “Jack, you've been bucking the system from the moment you joined the Air Force, and you are changing.  I've seen it.  I know it's not easy, but please remember what the Asgard said when we went through the Gate.  It's so important, and I know you.  I know who you are, and you aren't a military robot.  Trust it, Babe.  Please trust it.”

“Trust what?” Jack asked.

“Your heart -- your very big, compassionate, tender heart,” Daniel answered.

Dismissing the comment somewhat, Jack replied, “You have too much faith in me.”

Shaking his head, Daniel argued, “No, I don't.  You're a good man, Jack O'Neill.  I trust you, and I know you're capable of doing whatever you have to ... to help us reach our potential.”

Jack was silent.  Daniel believed in him so much, but he himself was full of doubt.

“I'll try.”

“And you'll succeed,” the archaeologist insisted.

“I'm not that good,” Jack refuted.

“Yes, you are, or we wouldn't be here ... like this.  I couldn't feel this way about someone who really was that image you like to portray -- the dense, trigger-happy colonel.  So bad ... so tough.”  Daniel smiled and squeezed Jack to him.  “Right ... my teddy bear.”

“Teddy bear?  Daniel, I think we need to talk.”

“Yes, Teddy?” the younger man chuckled.

“Daniel!” Jack chastised.  Daniel had laughed, though, and that was a sound Jack treasured.  “We're gonna be all right, Danny.”

“Yeah. With the Asgard and ...”

“No, I mean us,” Jack clarified.  “You and me.  Geez, this is so right.  I love you so friggin' much.”

“I love you, too, so much, Jack.”

The couple sat quietly for several minutes.  Jack enjoyed his lover's touches, the pressing of the fingertips against his skin.  He realized that he liked being held, too.  He closed his eyes and enjoyed the sensations associated with being near Daniel.

A few more minutes passed, and Jack whispered, “Maybe we should go to bed.”  Silence was his only answer.  “Danny?”

Jack looked over.  The young man was asleep, and yet his hold on Jack remained firm, and his hands still caressed the older man.  He nestled his head against Daniel's neck and immediately felt Daniel shift just a tad so that his cheek rested against Jack's forehead.  He heard a contented sound, a happy sigh, came from his lover.

“I love you, Danny,” Jack whispered.  “You sleep.  We have forever.  Forever.”

Jack smiled and then joined his soulmate in slumber.

For now, the knowledge of the Ancients, their curiosity about the Furlings, and working towards being the fifth race took a back seat to Jack and Daniel, loving and being in love, on a roof deck, somewhere in Colorado Springs.

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