Escape from Plantacia

Author:  Orrymain and special guest co-author, Mama Bear!
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - October/November 2011
Spoilers:  Bane, Learning Curve
Size:  91kb
Written:  August 6,12, 2006
Summary:  The NID want to get their hands on the two aliens living on Plantacia.  Will Tony and Terri become caged specimens, or can Jack and Daniel stop the government from proceeding with their plans?
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 past fic(s), “Unexpected Miracle”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Jodi, QuinGem, Claudia!

Escape from Plantacia
by Orrymain and Mama Bear

“Are we all agreed on this schedule then?” General George Hammond asked wearily of everyone in the room.  He felt like he'd spent the past month fighting continuously with the President and the Pentagon, and, as a result, was reaching the end of his tether.  ~I have better things to do than argue over a schedule for the return of refugees that should have been resolved fairly quickly.~

It was 0830, and the lieutenant general was currently in the briefing room with SG-1, Major Paul Davis, and Major Niles Pendergast, discussing the schedule for the return of the Plantacians to Earth.  He shook his head as Pendergast brought up yet another objection.  He inwardly sighed, thinking back over the last few weeks.

Earlier this month, a miracle had happened, and Jack O'Neill had been reunited with his older brother, Billy.  Billy, who had been thought to have been killed in action during the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, had been discovered alive and well, living on a terraformed asteroid called Plantacia.

The race of aliens that had rendered the asteroid habitable were from a planet called Axlyxtomox, or Alto for short, and had apparently saved forty-eight Earthlings from the brink of death in an attempt to discover whether the aliens and Earthings could cohabit peacefully together.
 
To conduct the experiment, the aliens had implanted the Earthlings with a nanite that altered part of their memory.  Thus, each of the residents had been 'programmed' to believe that they had voluntarily come to Plantacia, had no desire to leave, and had no family.  They had also believed Plantacia was simply a small island near New Zealand.

Living amongst the forty-eight Earthlings had been two aliens from Alto, Niktor and Nomolyx, who had used the names of Tony and Terri Calken to successfully masquerade as two humans for decades.

When the truth had been discovered, Tony had explained why his race had taken the action they had, saying, “We meant no harm to anyone.  Our planet was overcrowded, and we needed to expand.  We found some possible worlds to inhabit, but they were actually bigger than what we needed.  We decided we would like to share our new world with another people that might also be in need.”

The two had also admitted that their race was intrigued about the emotion of love, something that was foreign to them.

“We were curious,” Terri had confessed about their people.  “We set up an experiment.  We took only those who were dead, but we took them before their death was permanent.”

In short, the aliens had transported 'dead' Earthlings to their ship, placed them in a sarcophagus that healed their wounds, and then implanted them with the nanite.  Eventually, while still 'asleep', the Earthlings were transported through a Stargate to Plantacia, where they would wake up, believing they had just come by boat to live in a place they thought of as some sort of a Shangri-La.

According to Tony, the alien experiment had only been supposed to last for ten years, after which people from Axlyxtomox were to come and return the humans to Earth.  Terri and Tony would then return to their home planet with their report and a decision would be made by the Axlyxtomoxan government on whether or not to contact Earth and make the offer of co-inhabiting a planet together.

“We took forty-eight people from all parts of the planet Earth,” Tony had explained.  “We needed to see how they interacted together, in a new place, and with us.  Terri and I agreed to stay, to mix in.  The only way the experiment could be pure was to have us live among the Earthlings, and we hoped that we could learn about this love, too.”

Unfortunately for Tony and Terri, their planet had met with destruction, which is why the experiment hadn't ended.  They hadn't had any knowledge of their race's fate until Thor had investigated the situation at the request of SG-1.  The Asgard discovered that about thirty years ago, all life on Axlyxtomox had become extinct due to a virulent airborne plague that had been brought to their world by another race.  As there were still traces of the plague in the atmosphere, the planet remained uninhabitable.

After much arguing and veiled threats, President Hayes, on the twenty-second of October, had finally agreed that despite the security risk to the Stargate Program, all the residents of Plantacia would be permitted to return to Earth and their ancestral homelands.  Since many marriages and births had taken place over the decades, the number of people returning to Earth now numbered well over two hundred, making the process an enormous exercise.  SG-3 and other SGC personnel were currently on Plantacia, helping the people to prepare for a return to their home world and a new way of life.

Still undecided on this fall morning, however, was the fate of Tony and Terri.  The twosome had pretended to be married on Plantacia, and, as the experiment had played out, they'd done more than learn about love -- they had indeed fallen in love with each other.

Distressfully for the alien couple, the NID's philosophy on the treatment of aliens hadn't varied since Teal'c's first months on Earth when Harry Maybourne had led the Jaffa, in chains, out of the SGC to be studied.  The government group was pressuring the President to allow them to study the aliens, arguing that they had, after all, essentially caged an unsuspecting group of Earth citizens, lied to them, and forced them to live life believing they had no families to go home to.  The NID had little sympathy for Tony and Terri.  In addition, they wanted to learn as much as they could about the alien's technological capabilities.

Jack and Daniel were disgusted at the prospect and had already made their feelings known to the President and the Pentagon even before Hayes had ultimately reached his decision to allow the Plantacians to return to Earth.

“... now that we're all agreed on the Plantacians schedule to return to Earth,” Major Pendergast spoke, his words shaking Hammond from his reverie, “we have to discuss the aliens.”

“Yes, I have been working on finding them a suitable place to live,” Major Davis stated, closing the folder in front of him.

Pendergast sternly replied, “Major, we've discussed this before.  The NID ...”

“... is not going to get their hands on them,” Jack interrupted, glancing over at Hammond for a moment.

“General Jackson-O'Neill, how many times do we have to review this?” Pendergast asked, intending to continue, but not given the chance when Jack spoke again.

“Until you get it through your thick skull that Tony and Terri aren't going to be bugs on the NID's windshield,” Jack harshly answered.  Just then he caught an odd look coming his way from Paul.  He thought it was a bit strange, but he had the feeling that the major was trying to convey a message to him.  Casually, Jack looked over at Davis again, getting a tiny, covert nod when he did so.  ~What's going on, Davis?~

“We'll see about that, General,” Pendergast said, getting up quickly and leaving the room before Jack could say anything more.

“Paul, does the NID have a chance of getting their hands on Tony and Terri?” Daniel asked after Pendergast had gone.

“Daniel, I'm working on it, but, yes, they do,” Paul answered, giving Jack another covert look.

~Okay, Davis I get it.  Something's up that you can't talk about here.  Noted,~ Jack thought as he very subtly returned the nod.

“What about President Hayes?  I can't believe he'd support the NID using Tony and Terri as lab rats,” Daniel opined.

Paul replied, “No, he doesn't, but, he's in a tough position ...”

“Which means the NID is going to win, and they will get their lab rats,” Jack stated a bit harshly.

“There is that possibility, but, like I said, I'm working on it,” Paul said.

“Work harder, Major,” Jack stated angrily.

“Jack, I think we're done for the day.  Dismissed,” General Hammond ordered, trying to put a stop to the argument between Jack and Major Davis before it started.

After the lieutenant general stood up and returned to his office, the others got up as well.  Sam and Teal'c quickly left the room, but Jack and Davis paused, which meant Daniel did, too, as he was waiting for his husband.

“Stay here,” Jack quietly said to Daniel before approaching Paul.  “Davis?”

“I'm doing my best, General,” Paul spoke sharply then whispered, “Not here, Sir,” as he handed Jack a folder, glancing over at the technician who was still finishing up his duties at the table at the other end of the briefing room.

“Doesn't say much about your best,” Jack sniped, keeping the game playing.

“Here's a copy of the schedule for the return of the Plantacians,” the major stated in a normal tone, though his eyes spoke more.

“Davis, use those D.C. connections of yours to make sure those two people don't end up as the NID's guinea pigs,” Jack commanded harshly.  Turning around, he stated, “Let’s go, Daniel.”

As they headed for the elevator, Daniel was a bit confused by his lover's tone towards Paul.  He didn't understand it.

~He's told me he knows Paul is doing all he can for Tony and Terri,~ Daniel thought.

It wasn't an easy task for the major, either.  Paul was now stationed at the SGC and helped only occasionally with communication between the Pentagon and the Mountain.  His Pentagon replacement was Major Pendergast, who had far less sympathy for the needs of the SGC or uncooperative aliens.

“Jack ...”

“In my office, Daniel,” the major general spoke in a tone Daniel knew very well.  **Trust me, Angel.**

**Always,** Daniel replied, knowing he'd obviously missed something.  ~Bet Jonny wouldn't have missed it,~ he thought with wry amusement.

====

“Jack, does ...” Daniel began when the two walked inside the older man's office.

“Wait a minute,” Jack requested, turning and locking his office door.  Handing Daniel the folder that Davis had given him, he instructed, “Open it.”

Doing as Jack requested, Daniel opened it and flipped through the papers, each containing a list of names and what day the people on that list would be coming back to Earth.  One of the lists, however, had a note attached.

“What's this?” Daniel wondered aloud as he pulled out the note for a closer look.  “Jack, there's a note that says 'Zoo, Penguins, 1430 this afternoon'.  Do you know what this is about?” he questioned curiously.

“Davis indicated he wanted to meet,” Jack answered.  “This must be the where and when,” he surmised, sitting down on the corner of his desk.

“So, uh, that’s what those covert looks and nods between you two were about,” Daniel deduced, glancing down at the note again.

Jack smiled, asking, “You noticed?”

“I tried not to think about it, but ... yes, I guess, I did,” Daniel acknowledged.  “Why do you think he wants to meet with us?”

“I'm not sure, but Davis has something that he wants us to know,” Jack spoke.  He added, “My attitude towards Davis was for show.  Whatever it is, I got the feeling he doesn't want Pendergast or Hammond to know about it.”

“Then we meet Paul this afternoon?” Daniel asked, even though he already knew the answer.

“Yup,” Jack confirmed, standing up and stepping towards his husband.  “We'll have to shift the brood's study schedule a bit.”

“We have time to go over the next part of gun safety before meeting Paul,” Daniel observed as he looked at his watch.

Nodding, Jack agreed, “Then we'll finish up after dinner.  It's important not to interrupt their studies about this.”

“Jack, they're learning.  I can see it on their faces,” Daniel commented about their children.

The Jackson-O'Neill children were undergoing two days of intensive homeschooling on the subject of gun usage and gun safety, something prompted by Jonny's attempt to get up close and personal with a P-90 while on Plantacia earlier in the month.

“I hope so,” Jack spoke softly, a bit lost in the memory.  Refocusing on their upcoming meeting, Jack took the file from Daniel and removed the note, putting it in his pocket so he could destroy it later.  He turned and tossed the file onto his desk, after which he took his lover into his arms and kissed him.  “Busy month.”

“Very,” Daniel acknowledged with a smile.

====

“Jack, maybe we should take a couple of the children,” Daniel put forth as the lovers prepared to leave for the meeting with Paul Davis.

“I don't know,” Jack groaned.  “We don't really know what's happening.”

“Look, I'm not saying we should put them in danger, but we're going to a zoo.  We might raise more questions if we're alone than if we have the children there.”

“We can't take all of them, Daniel; that's not practical.”

“No,” Daniel agreed.  He smiled as he continued, “But we do have two very, uh, covert-oriented sons.”

“Daniel,” Jack began in surprise.  “Are you suggesting we take them on another mission?  They're on restriction.  If we do this, it'll be like rewarding them instead of punishing them.”

“I know, but I just think their presence would help; be a diversion.  They can help distract anyone who is nearby.  We make it clear to them that they are still on punishment for the incident on Plantacia, but .... taking the little devils would show them that messing up doesn't mean they don't get second chances.”  Daniel paused, making sure he, himself, was okay with the idea. “Jack, if you think there is really any danger, then forget I said anything, but if all we're doing is meeting Paul to discuss ... whatever we're discussing ...”

Jack nodded, pressed the intercom to the boys' room, and called out, “Jonny, Little Danny, Daddy and I need to see you in the study right now.  Scoot!  Pronto!  As in move those little feet of yours, and, no, you're not in trouble!”

“Jack, you could have just asked them to come downstairs,” Daniel responded.

“What fun is that?” Jack mused.

--

“Here we are!” Jonny announced as he and his brother sprinted into the study.

“Boys, no running in the house,” Jack chastised.

The two looked a bit sheepish, but before they could say anything, Daniel closed the door and motioned for them to sit down on the sofa.  Then he kneeled down in front of them and smiled.

“Ut oh,” Little Danny responded.

“Yeah, we're in trouble,” Jonny agreed.

Daniel laughed, “No, you're not.  Listen, Dad and I have a very important meeting to attend.”

“Yeah, you told us,” Jonny commented, knowing that their neighbor, Mrs. Sophia Valissi, was due over at any minute to watch them.

“Now, I know we said it would be a long time before we'd let you go on another mission,” Daniel spoke seriously.

The boys bowed their heads, recalling their one and only off-world mission.  They'd behaved badly, and both felt horrible about it.

“Well,” Daniel continued.  “We need your help for a short mission to the zoo.”

“The zoo?” Jonny asked in surprise.

Jack stood behind his husband and explained, “We're meeting Major Davis, and what we need to talk to him about is top secret.  We'll be watching, but we need ...”

“We get to be covert!” Jonny exclaimed.  He slapped his brother lovingly on the arm and said, “We're distractions.”  Looking back at their fathers, he asked, “Huh, Dad, Daddy?”

“I don't like to call it that,” Daniel admitted.  ~I can't believe this was my idea!  Gawd, I've been corrupted by silver-gray hair and delicious brown eyes, not to mention his ... gawd, shut up, Jackson.~

“Yes, you would be,” Jack affirmed.  “If anyone gets around us, we want you to help reinforce that we're just talking about the penguins.”

“Penguins?” Little Danny asked.

Jack and Daniel filled their children in on where they'd be, also explaining that it would be a quick trip, but the two boys couldn't discuss anything except having spent a fun hour or two at the zoo.

“We'll make it up to your brothers and sisters later, but we just can't take everyone right now, and we don't have time for monkey business,” Jack stated firmly.

“We aren't visiting the monkeys, Dad, so you should say we don't have time for penguin business,” Jonny quipped.  He gulped at the looks on his parents faces and a thump from Little Danny let him know the humor wasn't really very funny to anyone but him.  ~I think it's funny.~

“Right,” Daniel responded.  “Okay, best behavior, and no eavesdropping on what Dad and Daddy are talking to Paul about.  I want your word of honor, from both of you.”

Jonny and Little Danny raised their hands, promising to behave exactly as their fathers requested.

“Time to go,” Jack announced, glancing at the clock.

“Right on time,” Daniel commented, standing upon hearing the door knocker banging gently against the front door.

====

With the rest of their studious children being watched by Mrs. Valissi, the lovers, plus Jonny and Little Danny, headed for the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, arriving there at roughly 1400 hours.  They had wanted to get there a bit early in order to check things out and make sure they hadn't been followed.

For several minutes, Jack and Daniel simply followed their sons around, enjoying the zoo and its animal residents.  They stopped at one of the eateries and bought a round of drinks before continuing on their way.  The lovers were enjoying their freedom, holding hands as they walked, while the boys were having fun mimicking some of the animals they watched.

Daniel glanced at his watch and quietly informed his lover that, “It's almost two-thirty.”

Jack squeezed Daniel's hand in acknowledgment and called out, “Boys!”

The family headed towards the African Penguin exhibit, which Jonny and Little Danny knew was when they had to do a good job on their special mission.  As the four approached the area, they could see Paul watching the black and white aquatic birds.

“Hey, Davis, never thought of you as the zoo type,” Jack remarked as he and Daniel ambled casually towards the major with their sons in front of them, excitedly pointing at the penguins.

“Marc has a thing for penguins; we come here a lot,” Davis explained, quickly adding, “as best friends.”

The major looked down at Jack and Daniel's joined hands, something the couple noticed.  Paul and Colonel Marc Reynolds were lovers, something few people knew.  Jack and Daniel were two of those people.

Jack and Daniel knew how hard it was to hide in plain sight, so, exchanging a brief look first, they let go of each other’s hands.

Paul smiled at the silent gesture of support and understanding, then greeted the boys, saying, “Jonny, Little Danny, how are you today?”

“We're fine,” Little Danny answered.

“We're going over here, Dad,” Jonny said, grabbing his brother by the elbow and walking a bit to the right.

Jack took a position standing to the left of Davis with Daniel standing on Jack’s left.  All three leaned on the rail that surrounded the penguin enclosure, each laughing when one of the smaller penguins slid and knocked a larger penguin into the water.

The children laughed, too, and made sure they stayed within sight of their parents without overhearing the conversation.

Finally, while still watching the playful birds, Davis stated, “My sources at the Pentagon say that the NID will be given official approval by the end of the week to do whatever they want with Tony and Terri.”  Ignoring the swear word Jack uttered, the major continued, “The paperwork is being processed.  I've done all that I can do at this point.”

“What about the President?” Daniel asked.  “Did he approve this?  I mean, uh, he must have, right?” he asked, a bit surprised that Hayes would go along with the NID's plan.

“Apparently, on a personal level, he agrees with us, but there are pressures being applied,” Davis answered.

“Kinsey clones?” Jack inquired, looking over as the children began to romp around a bit, mimicking the penguins, and distracting a young couple who had been about to take a stance near their parents and Paul.  ~Nice move, Kids,~ he thought as the couple decided to go to the other side of the exhibit.

“General, I know you've had a lot of dealings with The Trust ...” Davis began.

“The dark side of the NID,” Jack quipped.  Then he let out a snort, saying, “Maybe the NID wants the title back.”

“They've been able to secure the support of a lot of higher ups, General.  President Hayes was having a hard time going against them.  He finally had to give in, except ...” Davis became quiet as a couple with their son came up to watch the penguins.

Jonny and Little Danny approached them and started chatting non-stop with the boy.  Then, Little Danny began an oration on penguins, barely bothering to breathe in between paragraphs.

“Thank you for the lesson,” the mother stated when Little Danny paused to take a much-needed breath.  She motioned for her husband and son to follow her to another part of the zoo, saying, “Let's keep going.”

Daniel looked at his namesake and smiled.

Little Danny simply shrugged, and as he and Jonny returned to their chosen spot, he said, “Was I boring enough, Jonny?”

“Very!  You're the bestest at being boring, Little Danny,” Jonny responded.

“Thanks, Jonny ... I think,” Little Danny replied.

Jack, Daniel, and Paul had talked about inconsequential things while the family had been nearby, and now all three chuckled at the exchange between Jonny and Little Danny.

With the coast clear again, Jack cut to the point, saying, “I assume from your actions at the briefing that you have something in mind.”

Nodding, Paul stated, “As I said this morning, I’ve been working on relocating the Calkens.”  He paused, glancing to the right when he heard some children laughing.  “Like you, I know full well what the NID will do to them if they get the chance.  Officially, I have been working to relocate them to a place where they would be accessible to the NID, but where they'd still have some freedom.  Unfortunately, the NID are pushing hard for Area 51.”

“They'd be in prison,” Daniel commented.

“So, Davis, *un*officially?” Jack asked, wanting to get to the point.

“Unofficially, I've been devising a plan to get Tony and Terri to another planet secretly,” Paul revealed quietly.  “It's dangerous, but I think there's a way.”

~Didn't know you had it in you, Davis.~ Jack thought, his respect for the major growing.  “Let’s hear it,” he requested of the plan.

“Admittedly, General, I don't have a plan per se, but it seems to me that there must be a way,” Paul stated.

“Agreed,” Jack stated.

The major continued, “The first consideration is to decide on where to send them.  It has to be somewhere that could provide safety for the Calkens, but it also has to be a place we don't often go.”

“That eliminates the Land of Light,” Daniel noted.  “Nyan goes there all the time, as do other SGC personnel.”

“That's what I thought,” Davis replied.  “I was certain Tuplo would accept them, but there's too much Gate traffic.  I considered the Nox,” he stated, looking to his right again when he heard a mother yelling to her child to stop running ahead.

“They could hide them, but they aren't much on covert,” Jack interrupted.

“That occurred to me as well.  As much as I want to help the Calkens, we can't risk losing the Nox as allies,” Davis pointed out, smiling as Jonny and Little Danny had a pretend fight to ward off the latest visitors to the area.

“Hey!” Jack spoke to the boys as he walked over to them.  “Fighting is something we won't tolerate.”  He leaned down and whispered, “Keep it up, but not the fighting.  Try ... throwing up on someone.”

“Ewwwww!” Jonny responded.

“Ick,” Little Danny said at the same time.

“Ick?” Jack asked, shaking his head at the child prodigy's chosen expression.

“You and the general are very lucky,” Paul spoke as he watched Jack with the children.

“Yes, we are,” Daniel affirmed, a smile on his face.

“They make good cover.”

“We almost didn't bring them,” the archaeologist commented.

“It was a good idea, Daniel,” Paul opined.  “There's no real danger.  I would have walked away the moment I saw you had brought them if I thought there was.”

“Thanks,” Daniel intoned, giving the man an appreciative nod.

“So ...?” Jack prompted, having returned from his tete-a-tete with the children.  He was still a bit frustrated that it was taking so long to get to the point, especially since the major sounded like he had already come up with a potential answer.  ~Stop telling me the 'no ways', and tell me the 'way'.~

“I started thinking about your connection with Thor.  If he's agreeable, he could transport the Calkens to any planet without the SGC being able to trace it.  There wouldn't be a trail,” Paul explained.

“Thor might be able to help us find a place, too,” Daniel intoned a little excitedly.

“It could work,” Jack agreed.  “Okay, Davis, we'll talk to Thor.”

“General, a lot of things have to go right in order for us to get the Calkens off the asteroid before the NID can go there and bring them back to Earth.  Marc is still on Plantacia; his team will be the last ones to return to Earth after all the Plantacians have come back to Earth,” Davis said informatively.  Looking around cautiously, he quietly added, “He said that if you can make sure SG-3 is in charge of guarding Tony and Terri, he'll see to it that they're secluded whenever Thor gives the word.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged another look, one of concern for the two officers.

“That's taking a big risk, Major,” Jack replied.  “If they even think that Reynolds let Tony and Terri escape on purpose, his career would be over.”

“So would yours, Paul, if they put two and two together,” Daniel added.

“We both know that, Sir, Daniel.  We've talked it over, and we're both willing to take that chance,” Davis replied.

“Why?” Jack couldn't help but ask.  “What's your stake in this?”

“Sleeping at night,” Davis answered.  “Look, I know you think I've been the bad guy, General, but while assigned to the Pentagon, my loyalty and interests had to be with my superiors.  Please don't take that to mean I wasn't in agreement with or sympathetic to the points of view expressed by General Hammond and SG-1.”

“We understand, Davis, duty and all that,” Jack acknowledged with an understanding nod.

“My hands aren't tied anymore.  I'm freer to voice my own opinion without worrying about repercussions,” Davis stated.

“Paul, you barely know Tony and Terri.  Why are you willing to give up everything for them?” Daniel asked seriously.

“Why are you?” the major challenged.  “You don't know them much better than me.”

“We don't have anything at risk,” Jack refuted.

“With all due respect, General, you and Daniel both enjoy your continued relationship with the SGC.  Call it what you will, but if that were to end, I don't think either of you would be happy,” Davis opined.  After a moment, he added, “Sometimes, Sir, a person has to take a stand simply because it's the right thing to do.”

Daniel smiled as he glanced over at Jack, who nodded.

“Okay, but whatever you do, cover your tracks, Major, and tell Reynolds to do the same thing.”  Jack paused, almost grunting as he said, “The SGC needs people like you and Reynolds.  Don't burn your bridges, and *don't* get caught.”  He widened his eyes in surprise when he saw his lover suddenly grinning at him.  Shaking it off, he concluded, “We'll handle the details, Davis.  If you and Reynolds are needed, we'll let you know.”

“Yes, Sir,” Davis replied.  “I have another meeting with Pendergast in an hour to discuss when Tony and Terri will be brought back to Earth.  Right now, they want them to return with one of the groups of inhabitants.  The plan is to separate them on arrival and take them directly to Area 51.”

Jack acknowledged the information and said, “It'll never happen.”  He signaled for Paul to leave, and as the major began to walk away, he spoke in a louder, more jovial tone, “See you later.”

“Bye,” Davis replied.  He looked over at the children and called out, “Bye, Kids!” as he quickly headed for the exit.

“See ya!” Jonny called out.

“Bye, Major Davis,” Little Danny said at the same time.

“What?” Jack asked a bit loudly when Daniel kept grinning at him.

“I think that's probably the closest you've come to admitting how valuable Paul is to the Program,” Daniel spoke.

Jack groaned and finally replied, “Danny, we're on the way out, and this time, we're staying out.  I'd like to think that when we leave, there will be, at the very least, a few people around who can carry on without alienating our allies and getting us into a bunch of intergalactic wars.”

Still smiling, Daniel intoned, “And ... Paul is one of those people.”

“What do you want from me, Daniel?”

“Your sexy six, but, uh, not right this second,” the younger man smirked, glancing over at their children.

Jack shook his head, letting out a tiny laugh.  The lovers called over the children and refocused on the penguins, wanting to give Davis more time to leave ahead of them.

Silently, Jack mused over Daniel's comments.  He supposed it was ironic that he used to hate Paul Davis.  Of course, that was back when he thought Paul was after Daniel.  Now, he knew the truth -- that Paul Davis and Marc Reynolds were in love and had been together almost as long as Jack and Daniel had.

~Okay, Davis isn't an ogre.  Okay, he's ... valuable,~ Jack reluctantly admitted to himself.  He meant what he had just told his soulmate.  He cared about the SGC and wanted its future to be bright.  He knew for that to happen, there had to be a supply of good and able personnel, willing to fight for what was right.  Hammond's replacement would have to be top drawer, and so would his second-in-command.  Beneath them, it would be important to have people willing to get a reprimand in their jackets.  Jack certainly had enough of them in his.  ~You just proved you have what it takes, Davis.  Don't let us down.~

“How'd we do?” Jonny asked.

“Very good,” Daniel answered.

“Except you never ask about a mission until it's over,” Jack corrected.  “It's not over until we leave the zoo.”

The children didn't say another word about their covert actions.  Instead, they concentrated on the creatures in front of them.

“Okay, let's waddle,” Jack quipped, beginning to walk away, mimicking a penguin.

Laughing, the two boys did the same thing.

“Oh, well,” Daniel sighed.  “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.”

All four Jackson-O'Neills waddled their way away from the tuxedo clad birds and headed for another exhibit.  They spent another half-hour walking around, looking at some other animals before leaving.

--

In the truck, Jack praised, “You both did great!  We want you to remember not to talk about this, and don't tell anyone that we met Major Davis, not even your brothers and sisters.  It's a secret.”

“A very important secret,” Daniel added.

“But we can say we went to the zoo?” Little Danny questioned.

“Yes,” Daniel confirmed.  “You can talk about everything that happened, that you two played while Dad and I talked.  Okay?”

Jonny's grin was huge.  To him, not telling their siblings was just another part of the covert game.  He could play that forever.

Little Danny was happy to have been trusted again.  He'd felt bad about letting his parents down on Plantacia.  He didn't want to lie to his brothers and sisters, and hoped none of them asked if they ran into anyone they knew there.  Still, it was a mission, and he knew he had to keep quiet about why they were allowed to go and that they had seen Major Davis there.

Jack and Daniel shared a smile, both proud of their children.  They had some lingering doubts about their decision to bring the male Munchkins with them, but, in the end, agreed it had been a good thing.  Now, they were headed home to prepare an early dinner for their children and then conduct a special evening homeschooling session.

====

Later that night, with the youngest children already in their beds, Jack and Daniel checked with their oldest children who were still up.  Jennifer was in her room, chatting on the phone with her best friend, Sheila, while Jeff was curled up on one of the sofa sectionals in the rec room, reading a book Alex Dennison had given him on architecture.  Meanwhile, David was watching 'Flipper' on TV in the living room.

“Lights out when the movie ends,” Daniel reminded.

“Okay, Daddy,” David acknowledged as he reached in for a handful of snack mix.  ~I bet Bri is having a great time with Flipper,~ he thought about his sister who was on a 'swim with the dolphins' vacation with Megan Williams.

“Jeff, Daddy and I are going to be occupied with important business for a while.  We're counting on you to make sure your siblings go to bed on time,” Jack spoke.

“Are you leaving the house?” the teen asked as he glanced up over the top of his thick book.

“No, but it's important, so we don't want to be disturbed unless it's an emergency,” the silver-gray haired man responded.

“Okay, Dad.”

====

Jack locked the sliding doors of the den and turned to face his soulmate.

“Jack, I'm not sure we should involve Thor.  I mean, do we have the right to ask him to do this?” the younger man wondered.

“Ask?  Yes.  There's never any harm in asking.  It's his choice if he wants to help or not,” Jack answered.

“Okay,” Daniel agreed, though he still had some doubts.

“THOR,” both called out in unison.

Moments later, the lovers saw the familiar flash of light and then their alien friend appeared before them.

“Thor, thanks for coming,” Jack said, nodding to the Asgard commander.

“Is there a problem, O'Neill?” Thor asked.

“Yes,” Jack answered as he and Daniel began to explain the situation and what they would like to do in order to prevent Tony and Terri from becoming lab rats.

“Thor, this isn't really your business, and I know we're asking a lot and really don't have a right to,” Daniel opined.  “Our planet still has so many problems.  Not everyone ... I mean ...”

“We have rats pretending to be human beings,” Jack interjected.  “Will you help us?”

“If I can,” Thor stated, feeling sympathetic towards the orphaned couple, knowing they no longer had a place to call home.  “I will return to my ship and search for a suitable planet.”

“We knew ...” Jack began.

“Wait!  Jack, I've got it!” Daniel suddenly exclaimed, so excited that he did a mini-version of the Danny Dance.

“Ants in your pants, Daniel?” Jack smirked.

Ignoring Jack's crack, Daniel orated, “Orban.  Terri told me that both she and Tony love children, and Orban is children-centered.  SGC personnel rarely go there.  It would be perfect.”

“That's a thought,” Jack agreed.

“We'd have to go there first and make sure they are willing to take Tony and Terri in, but ...” Daniel spoke.

“It's a good choice,” Jack spoke thoughtfully.  “We only do routine diplomatic contacts with them once or twice a year.”

“Mostly because you want to check up on Merrin,” Daniel noted with a smile.

Not arguing, Jack looked at Thor and continued, “I don't think the Orbanians are ready to meet the Asgard.  We can't afford to leave any kind of trail for the NID to follow.  Once they realize Tony and Terri are missing, they're going to start reviewing where SG-1 has gone in recent times.”  He shrugged and said, “I think it's our history.  We're famous, you know.”

Thor simply blinked once, without saying anything in return.

“Okay, so we need to beam somewhere else, and then use the Gate,” Daniel summarized.

“The Nox!” both Jack and Daniel said at the same time.

While hesitant to bring the Nox in on the covert operation, the couple was fairly certain that they wouldn't object to this use of their Stargate.

“Thor, we don't have time to go to the Nox world,” the archaeologist pointed out.  “Is there any way of doing that, uh, hologram thing?”

“As you wish,” Thor said, pressing a few buttons on his personal control device.

“Thor, this is Lya.  How may the Nox help you today?” Lya asked.

“It is not the Asgard seeking your assistance,” Thor replied.

“Hey, Lya, can you see me?” Jack asked, moving next to Thor and waving his arms excitedly.

“General, it is good to see you,” Lya responded, nodding her head slightly.

“You, too,” Jack said with a smile.  “Lya, we need a little help from our friends.”

After hearing what was happening, Lya gave the approval for the use of the Stargate on condition that no details of the Nox or their home world be revealed to the aliens being transported to Orban.

“Not a problem.  Tell Nafrayu it's football season; we'll be by to teach him some new plays soon,” Jack intoned.

Thor ended the transmission and asked, “Do you need my assistance with the Orbanians?”

“Yes, Thor,” Daniel answered.  “We don't have any way to contact them without you.  How long would it take to get to Orban and back by ship?”

“What are the Stargate coordinates of Orban?” the Asgard inquired, needing the information to chart the planet and determine the length of the journey.

After Daniel supplied Thor with the information, Thor calculated that a round trip voyage to the planet could be made in about six hours, thanks to the latest hyperspace enhancements recently installed on his vessel.

“Jack, you go with Thor.  One of us needs to stay with the children,” Daniel stated.

“I think we should both go,” Jack responded.

“It's too late to call anyone to babysit,” the younger man observed.

“I guess you're right,” Jack relented, giving Daniel a quick kiss.  “I'll be back soon, Love.  Wish me luck!”

“Jack, just be ... uh, never mind.  Good luck, Babe,” Daniel spoke.

Looking at the alien, Jack quipped, “Beam me up, Thor.”

--

“Welcome aboard, General ... Kirk,” Thor mused when they arrived on his ship.

“Thor, are you a Trekker?” Jack asked.  “Do they have TV in outer space?”

Thor completely ignored Jack's questions about the 'Star Trek' character he had made reference to and instead proceeded to set his vessel on course to Orban.

~A little gray butt of mystery,~ Jack pondered curiously.

====

In orbit over Orban, Jack had Thor transport him down to the planet's surface, just outside the building that housed the Stargate.  Once there, he made contact with Kalan, who had been their primary contact on the very first mission to the planet.  At that time, Daniel had conducted an archaeological dig while Jack had become attached to one of the Orbanian children, Merrin.

“Jack, hello!” Kalan greeted as he stood and walked towards the general.  “How did you arrive?  The Stargate did not engage.”

“Uh, yeah, I came in the back door,” Jack answered evasively.  He waved to some of the children who were playing nearby.  Jack, being like a kid himself, was very popular with the children on Orban.  Actually, he was a hit with kids everywhere.  “Kalan, we need to talk,” he spoke, but then he paused, looking over at one of the play area supervisors, and asked, “Hey, is that Tomin?”

“Yes, that is Tomin, my son.  He is to be married soon,” Kalan spoke with pride.

“Congratulations,” Jack replied, smiling.

“Thank you.  We are very excited,” Kalan spoke.  “You said we need to talk?”

“In private,” Jack added, looking back at the children, some of who could potentially overhear their conversation.

“We can go inside,” Kalan suggested, motioning towards the door of the building.

====

After hearing the facts, Kalan immediately extended an invitation for the Calkens to live on Orban.  He understood the secrecy that would be involved. The SGC would still be making occasional visits to Orban, but they would always be announced.

“Jack, we owe you and Daniel our children.  This is the least we can do.  The Calkens are welcome here,” Kalan intoned at the end of the session.

“Great, thanks!  How's Merrin?” the general asked, standing up as he prepared to leave.  “I'd love to go see her, but I have to get back to Earth as soon as possible.”

“She is a great teacher.  She and her husband are very happy,” Kalan answered.

“Tell her 'hello', and we'll try to visit soon,” Jack requested.  “Bye, Kalan, and thanks again.  We'll keep you posted on the details.”

“We shall be waiting to welcome them,” Kalan assured his Earthling friend.  “Will you be leaving through the Stargate?”

“Ah, no.  I'll use the back door,” Jack said, exiting the building and heading for a secluded area to make his exit.  ~They still aren't ready for beam technology,~ he thought.

====

“Hey, Love,” Jack greeted upon his return home.  It was three in the morning, and he wasn't at all surprised to find his lover sitting up in bed, writing in his journal as he waited for Jack's return.  He quickly shed his clothes, putting on more comfortable pajamas instead.  “You didn't need to wait up,” he said as he scooted onto the bed and shared a tender kiss with his husband.  ~But I'm so glad you did, My Angel.~

“I missed you,” Daniel confessed softly as he caressed Jack's cheek, having put his journal aside on the night stand.  “How'd it go?”

“Great.  Kalan agreed to take in Tony and Terri, and Thor and I devised a plan,” Jack stated as he leaned over to rest his head in Daniel's lap.

Daniel ran his fingers gently through his lover's hair and asked, “Okay, so what's the plan?”

“After we tend to Bean Sprout in the morning, we'll ...”

“Jack, I forgot.  Sam called,” Daniel interrupted.

“Which is important at this moment ... why?” the older man prompted.

“Because she told me that Lou is coming back to give the general a progress report at eleven.  If you remember, we were going to go back to Plantacia but ...”

“Beanie's meal,” Jack sighed, rolling over onto to his back to look up at Daniel.  “It's going to be another long day.”

“We're used to them,” Daniel replied as his thumb gently rubbed against his lover's forehead.

“Plan B,” Jack stated.  “After we take care of Bean Sprout and meet Lou at the SGC, we'll take a little drive to Pike's Peak.  We'll need to take Thor's communication device with us.”

Long ago, the Asgard had given the couple a device to keep at their home, something no one else on Earth knew about, which they could use to get in touch with Thor whenever and wherever the need arose.

Jack continued, “Thor will beam us to his ship, and we'll head for Plantacia.  Once we make contact with the Calkens, we'll signal Thor, he'll beam us all aboard, and we'll head for the Nox home world.”

“Then we gate to Orban, make sure Tony and Terri are settled, and return to the Nox planet,” Daniel completed.

Jack nodded, saying, “Yeah, and then Thor brings us home.  It's a long trip, Angel, and we need to make sure the kids are covered.”

“Wait, Jack,” Daniel interjected.  “What about Bean Sprout?  We can't leave him alone.”

“What plans did you make for the rest of the brood?” Jack asked.

“Sara is taking the Munchkins and the Spitfires, Noa and Lulu are going to spend the day with Janet; she's off for a few days.  David will be on a field trip during the day with some of the co-op,” Daniel spoke about one of the  homeschooling groups they participated in.

“Jen and Jeff will be at school,” Jack added, knowing that accounted for the entire brood, except for Brianna who was having the time of her life on vacation.

“Yes, but, Jack, it sounds like we'll need to be gone well into the evening.  What are we going to do?”

“Plan C,” Jack said.  “We postpone until Wednesday.  We'll have to see if everyone can babysit then instead of tomorrow, and we'll have to make sure David is covered.”

“Actually, Babe, he has plans with the homeschoolers through Thursday,” Daniel reminded.

“I for...<yawn>...got,” Jack said as the lack of sleep began to catch up with him. “Waiting another day is probably a good thing.  We'd better make sure Thor is available.”

“Jack, one of us still needs to stay home with Toto and Bean Sprout,” Daniel spoke about their unborn child and the womis that protected it.

“We can keep Jen or Jeff home,” Jack suggested.

“And tell them what?” Daniel inquired.  Shaking his head, he added, “They don't need to know what's going on.”

“They can't know,” the older man spoke definitively.  He sighed, “Okay, you stay home, and I'll take care of the mission.  Let's contact Thor.”

After verifying with the Asgard that he would still be able to help them one day later than planned, the lovers finally settled into a peaceful slumber.

====

Two days after the meeting at the zoo with Paul Davis, as the couple dressed early in the morning, Daniel lamented, “I guess I don't have a choice, but I would rather be going with you.”

“I wish you were, too,” Jack said, taking Daniel's hand for a quick moment before letting go to take hold of his shirt.

====

Downstairs a bit later, the couple was busy making breakfast, although it was taking longer than normal due to their off-and-on fondling, something precipitated in part by their regret that they wouldn't be able to participate in the rescue mission together.  In fact, when Jennifer walked into the kitchen, she caught her parents in the middle of a passionate kiss.

“Geez, you two have a room upstairs,” the teenager stated.  Then she teased, “I'm impressionable, you know.”

“Very funny, Jennifer,” Jack replied, releasing his husband and flipping over the pancakes.

“Dad, Daddy, there's no school today,” Jennifer spoke informatively.  Seeing their inquisitive looks, she expounded, “It just came on the news; there's been some weird power outage.”

“Jack, watch the sausage while I check this out,” Daniel requested eagerly, following their oldest daughter to the living room.

As Jack checked the sausage, he smiled and began to whistle a happy tune.

====

“Jen's right, Love,” Daniel stated as he reentered the kitchen a few minutes later.  “I called the school; they have no power.”

“Why?” Jack inquired, focusing on the eggs he was preparing at the moment.

“I have no idea,” Daniel answered, adding, “but that means Jen and Jeff can watch Bean Sprout and ...”

“... And you can join me for the ...” Jack paused, not wanting to be overheard.  He switched to their special communication, saying, **You can join me on the rescue mission.**

**Yeah.  You need me to cover your six.**

**I need you to ...**

“Jack, don't go there,” Daniel warned with a smile as he picked up the plate of sausage.

“Breakfast is ready; let's serve the troops,” Jack chuckled, putting the last pancake on top of the huge stack on the serving plate.

====

An hour later, all of the children had been picked up by their caregivers of the day, leaving only the teenagers at home with Jack and Daniel.  The couple walked into the living room, where the teens were watching an episode of “MacGyver”.

“Jen, Jeff, since you two are home and can watch Bean Sprout, we're going on a little outing to Pike's Peak,” Jack stated, nodding over at Daniel, who stood next to him.

“We’re not sure how long we'll be gone,” Daniel stated, quickly adding, “But it will probably be close to dinnertime before we get home.”

Jack quickly added, “You know the rules.  Set the alarm as soon as we leave.”

“David will be home before the rest of your brothers and sisters.  No exceptions to any of the rules,” Daniel reiterated.

“Why are you going to Pike's Peak?” Jeff asked a bit suspiciously, curious about the length of the outing.

Jack just smiled and winked.

“I don't think we want to know, Jeff,” Jennifer observed, nudging her brother gently.

“Have fun,” Jeff encouraged.

“We will,” Jack replied over his shoulder as he and Daniel headed for the door.

“Jen?” Jeff questioned.

“Not the best weather for a trip to the Peak,” Jennifer commented.

“And all dressed in black?” Jeff stated in question, also observing, “And gone all day?”

“I don't think we want to know,” Jennifer spoke.  “Oh, wow, look what 'MacGyver' is doing!”

Jeff returned his attention to the screen, but couldn't shake the feeling that something odd was happening.

====

“I know it's safer for the children not to know what we're about to do, but I hate lying to them,” Daniel lamented as Jack parked the truck at a very secluded part of Pike's Peak about an hour later.

“I know, Danny,” Jack replied, reaching out and caressing his husband's cheek.  “We really didn't lie, though,” he said, pointing at their surroundings.

“Technicality,” Daniel stated.  “We led them to believe we were going to ...”

“Make out?” Jack smirked lovingly.

“I wish that is why we did come up here, to ... 'you know'.”

“Me, too, and we will when this is all over,” Jack promised.  He leaned over, giving Daniel a kiss, and then he whispered in his husband's ear what he would do to Daniel when they returned to Pike's Peak.  His words caused Daniel's cheeks to turn a pale shade of pink.  “I love it when you blush, Angel.”

“Now isn't a good time for that, Babe,” Daniel responded, deciding they'd better get out of the truck before they forgot why they'd come.

“Good idea,” Jack sighed when he saw Daniel opening the door.  “But I think my idea is better.”

“Business before pleasure, My Love,” Daniel reminded, standing and looking around to see if anyone was nearby.

“There's that,” Jack agreed.  “We'd better get a move on.”

====

The lovers walked to their chosen location, enjoying their visit, even though it was fall, and the temperature was only in the high sixties.  They checked out the area, making sure no one was around.  Then they contacted Thor on the communication device.  Moments later, they were aboard Thor's ship, The Daniel Jackson, and headed for Plantacia.

“We got lucky that the power went out at the high school,” Daniel remarked innocently as he looked out one of the windows, watching as the ship sailed through space.

“Did you not tell him, O'Neill?” Thor inquired, blinking one time, his look one of accusation.

Daniel blinked as well as he twisted his body around to look at his husband, who, at the moment, was trying to avoid his lover's gaze.

“Jack?”  After a moment, Daniel looked at Thor and inquired, “What did he do?”

“I do not ... tattle,” Thor responded, realizing Jack hadn't informed his husband of their covert operation.

“Tattle?” the Jackson-O'Neills spoke in unison.

“Jonny Jackson-O'Neill has informed me that tattling is not appropriate behavior,” Thor explained.

“I'm afraid to ask,” Daniel remarked.

“Well, I'm not,” Jack spoke a bit harshly.  “When did Jonny tell you that?”

Holding his head up high, the alien responded, “I am not at liberty to reveal that information.  It would be tattling.”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack exclaimed.  “Thor, when ...”

“Jack, forget that ... for now, anyway,” Daniel instructed.  “I want to know what Thor isn't ... tattling about ... now!”

Jack coughed, then confessed, “I need you on this mission, Daniel.  I asked Thor to poof out the power at the school for a day.”

“Poof out?”

“He'll fix it when we get back.  Kids love unexpected holidays,” Jack spoke.

“Jack ...”

“Daniel?”

The younger man's glare turned into a smile as he replied, “Good thinking.”

“It happens,” Jack responded happily.

====

Halfway through their journey, Jack began another review of their plan, saying, “Let's go over it again.”

Daniel responded, “When we reach Plantacia, Thor scans the planet to locate Tony and Terri and also pinpoint where everyone else is.  Of course, we'll have no way of knowing where the SGC personnel are.”

“Unless we have beamed them up before, I will not be able to isolate anyone but Tony and Terri,” Thor confirmed.

“Because they're aliens,” Jack surmised.

“And, to know who's who among Earthlings, you would need to have us in your ... computer banks,” the archaeologist deduced a bit lightheartedly.

“That is correct.  If a human is transported by an Asgard beam, their pattern and identity is recorded,” the Asgard commander confirmed.  “It will take close examination to separate the alien life forms, but I will be able to locate them,” the alien spoke with confidence.

“Thor finds them,” Jack continued.  “Then we beam down, make sure we have them in a secure location, and Thor beams us back aboard.”

Daniel blinked several times, then noted, “Jack, we both know the NID are going to have the Calkens guarded.  We've been avoiding that issue.”

“You're right and ...”  Jack paused when Thor disappeared.  “I guess he had something to do.”

“I guess,” Daniel said softly.

“Daniel, if they are guarded, we have to do whatever is necessary,” Jack intoned.  “I promise no one will be killed, but we'll have to take out the guards covertly.  We can't afford to be seen.  That means stealth,” the older man explained.  “If you want us to go back, now is the time to say so.”

“We can't do this without violence, can we?” Daniel asked.

“No,” Jack answered truthfully.  He pulled his soulmate into an embrace, knowing how Daniel felt about having to hurt their own people.  They didn't know who would be watching the Calkens, but logic dictated that someone from the SGC would be.  “We don't have to do this.”

“If we don't, Tony and Terri become subjects in a cage,” Daniel replied.  “We don't have a choice.  Just ...”

“We'll be careful,” Jack promised, continuing to hold his worried lover.  ~I hope I can keep that promise, Angel, but we can't risk being spotted.  You're my first obligation.~

====

Having arrived at Plantacia and with The Daniel Jackson cloaked in its orbit, Thor used the ship's sensors to scan the planet.  He located the inhabitants and the military personnel present.  Afterwards, Jack and Daniel made their plan about where they would beam down and how best to get Tony and Terri isolated.

“O’Neill, the Calkens are in their house, but there is also a human with them,” Thor stated.

“We were expecting that,” Jack stated.  “Beam us down about one hundred yards to the west of the house,” he requested, checking to make sure the communication device was in his pocket.

====

Jack and Daniel quietly walked to Tony and Terri’s house, surveying the area as they moved.  When they reached the humble home, they ducked down behind a bush to avoid being seen if someone looked out the window.

**Danny, wait here while I see who is in the house with Tony and Terri.**

**Be careful, Jack.**

With a nod, Jack remained in a crouched position and carefully went to the closest window, peering inside.  Luckily it was the window to the kitchen, and he could see Tony and Terri sitting down, eating lunch.  Their guard was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.  Jack grimaced when he saw who the guard was.

~Crap!~ Jack exclaimed, knowing his job had increased a bit in difficulty for a number of reasons.

Daniel saw the look on Jack’s face as Jack returned to his side.

“Jack?” Daniel quietly inquired.

“It's Reynolds,” Jack regretfully informed Daniel.

Daniel sighed, “He's good, Jack.  He's come a long way since Area 51.”

“Yeah, from geeky gawker to the leader of SG-3.  He's earned that spot,” Jack opined.

“Plan D?” Daniel asked hopefully.  ~Gawd, we've never gone that far into the alphabet before.~

Jack nodded and thought carefully for several, long seconds before stating, “I got nothing.”  Looking over at the house, he added, “Reynolds is going to have to take one for the team.”

“Jack, don't ... I mean, if he does see us ...” Daniel began.

“We can't let that happen, Daniel,” Jack said sternly.  He reached out and caressed his lover's left cheek for a moment as he pointed out, “Angel, it's the only way.  We both know that.”

Daniel nodded.  He knew Jack wouldn't kill the lieutenant colonel, but he was afraid of the man being seriously injured.

Jack hated the look in his lover's eyes, but he knew he had no choice.  His family came first.

“Last chance for us to head out of here,” Jack stated, giving his lover one last opportunity to avoid any unpleasantness.

“No, Jack.  We're here.  I'll be okay,” Daniel assured.  “Marc will understand.”

Jack gave Daniel a quick kiss, then went towards the house looking for the best way to get inside undetected.

====

A few minutes later, Jack sneaked inside the house and observed Reynolds from a back room.  He waited patiently for his moment to strike, needing to get to the lieutenant colonel when his back was to him.  When that moment came, Jack rendered the leader of SG-3 unconscious with a well-aimed, double-fisted hit to the back of the head.  Instantly, Reynolds collapsed to the wood floor, his body hitting solidly as he landed.  Jack bent over, verifying the man was both knocked out and alive.  Then he pulled out a syringe and injected Reynolds with a tranquilizer.

~Just covering our bases, Colonel,~ Jack thought, wanting to make sure the man stayed 'asleep' for quite some time.

Once Reynolds' status was confirmed, Jack went to the window and motioned for Daniel to come inside.  He then walked to the front door and unlocked it.

The first thing Daniel saw when he entered the house was Reynolds, lying on the floor.

“He's ...?” Daniel prompted.

“Out cold,” Jack confirmed, giving his lover a brief but comforting squeeze on the shoulder.

“Colonel, is ...” Tony began upon entering the living room.  “General, Doctor, what are you two doing here, and what's wrong with Colonel Reynolds?”

“We're rescuing you,” Jack answered a bit brightly.

“And, uh, we have to hurry,” Daniel added hurriedly.  “Where's Terri?”

“She's in the kitchen,” Tony answered.  “I heard a noise and came out to investigate.”

Jack nodded and herded the alien into the kitchen.  Time was precious, and the one thing they couldn't know for sure is when Reynolds might be scheduled to do a check-in, either with his team or the NID.

After saying 'hello' to Terri, Jack and Daniel quickly explained the situation to the surprised alien couple, telling them about the NID organization and their plans for the Calkens.

“Experiment?” Terri asked, not sure what that meant.

“Essentially, you'd be prisoners,” Daniel stated.  “They'd never let you be free.”

“He's being polite,” Jack added, continuing, “But I want you to know exactly what we're talking about.  The NID have no or little regard for alien life.  We're talking medical tests, invasive procedures, messing with your minds ...”

“You'd be specimens, caged lab rats,” Daniel sighed.  “Please, you must come with us.”

Tony and Terri exchanged a look, then communicated in their own language for a minute or so.

“We understand what you're saying, but would we be correct to assume that if you help us to escape, you would be at risk?” Tony asked.

“We'll be fine,” Daniel promised.

“But we've got to go,” Jack said, taking a peek out at the living room to see if Reynolds was showing any sign of coming to.

“We wouldn't want you to be hurt because of us,” Terri intoned sympathetically.

“We have it covered,” Jack replied.  **Danny, we don't have time for this to turn into a debate.**

“If there's anything you want to take with you, you need to get it now,” Daniel told the Calkens.  **They're concerned about us, Jack.**

“What of the people on this Orban?  Would they be in jeopardy?” Tony asked.

Jack patted Tony on the upper arm, saying, “Your questions are exactly why we're doing this.  The NID wouldn't hesitate to dissect you into little pieces if they thought they had something to gain.  It's time to go.  Now!”

Tony and Terri clearly understood Jack's message and agreed to relocate to Orban.

“We need to go as soon as possible; a friend is standing by to transport us,” Jack informed the aliens.

“May we have fifteen minutes, General?” Tony requested.

“Starting now, but be prepared to move in a hurry if I call you,” Jack responded. As Tony and Terri headed for their bedroom, the woman gasped when she saw Reynolds on the floor.

“He’ll have a headache when he wakes up, but he'll be fine,” the major general assured everyone.  “Danny, take that window, and I'll take this one,” he said, carefully stepping over Reynolds' body.  “Sorry,” he whispered.

====

In the bedroom, Tony grabbed their suitcases from the shelf in the closet. Their suitcases had been part of their cover when they had first arrived in Plantacia.  In fact, everyone had been given one suitcase with some clothes and a few 'personal' items when they were taken to terraformed asteroid.  This was the result of the aliens having observed that when the people of Earth went on a trip, they brought a suitcase filled with clothes and other items.

Terri began gathering some of their clothes and a few sentimental items.

When Tony looked over and saw his wife was crying, he went to her and held her, whispering reassurances into her ear.  Neither realized until now just how attached they were to their home on Plantacia.  The experiment had ceased being an experiment many years ago.

====

When Tony and Terri came out of the bedroom several minutes later, luggage in hand, Jack inquired, “Are you expecting anyone to visit today?”

“No one,” Tony answered, moving to get a few things from their living room to add to their luggage.

“Good.  The longer your disappearance goes unnoticed, the better,” Jack responded.

“What about Colonel Reynolds?” Terri questioned.  “Won’t he tell as soon as he wakes up?”

“We won't have to worry about that for several hours.  By the time he does his report, you'll be on Orban, safe and sound.”

Terri walked into the kitchen, picking up a few things there that she wanted to take with them on their journey.  Then the Calkens took one more look around the house that had been their home for four decades.

“We learned a lot here,” Terri confessed.

Tony smiled, kissing his wife, and then agreed, “We learned love.”  After a moment, he turned to Jack and Daniel, proclaiming, “We’re ready.”

Jack took the communication device out of his pocket and said, “We’re ready Thor.  Four to beam up.”

“Gawd.  This isn't 'Star Trek',” Daniel remarked.

“Isn't it?” Jack challenged as the four were enveloped by a beam of light and transported to The Daniel Jackson.

“Uh, well, maybe it is,” Daniel agreed after they arrived safely aboard the ship that was named after him.

====

“Kalan knows how to get in touch with us, if necessary,” Daniel commented as the five stood near the Stargate on Orban.

“We're grateful for all you've done,” Terri told the Jackson-O'Neills.  “Please, know in your hearts that our people were good.  We realize now how wrong we were to take your loved ones away.”

“No,” Jack refuted.  “Billy would have died without your help.  Thank you.”

After sharing some warm and friendly looks between the two couples, Jack looked at Kalan and said, “Remember, you'll be contacted before any visits from the SGC.”

“The Calkens will be fine.  Merrin has asked them to stay with her family until they have adjusted to our world.  Do you like children?” Kalan asked Tony and Terri.

“Oh, yes, very much,” Terri answered.

“We need teachers; perhaps you could help with that,” Kalan suggested.

“Do you think we have anything to offer your children?  We don't know your culture,” Tony spoke.

“Our culture.  You are now one of us,” Kalan intoned.

“Take care,” Daniel spoke, waving at the couple as they walked away with Kalan.  “Jack, we may not always know when the SGC comes, and if the Calkens are teachers, they'll be more visible.”

“They'll be okay,” Jack opined.

“Jack?” Daniel asked suspiciously, unsure of his lover's confident tone.

“Danny, we've done all we can.  We might as well think positive,” Jack explained.

“My genius!” Daniel spoke with a tiny smile.

====

“Thanks, Thor, ole buddy,” Jack said just before the alien beamed the lovers down to Pike's Peak.

“Just another day at the office,” Daniel mused.

Jack smiled and, taking his husband's hand, began the trek back to their vehicle.

“What?” Jack asked several minutes later when he noticed that his lover was lost deep in thought.

“What?” Daniel echoed.

“What are you thinking about, Love?” Jack asked.  “You haven't said anything since we beamed down.”

“I was just thinking about Tony and Terri,” Daniel answered.  With a sigh, he expounded, “I almost feel sorry for them.”

“Danny, they're safe on Orban.”

“I know, but first they lost their planet, their home, and now they've lost their second home.  I think they loved their friends and neighbors,” Daniel opined.  “It's just ... well, it's a lot to lose.”

Jack let out a tiny snort and replied, “They wanted to know love.”

“They do, Jack,” Daniel quickly asserted.  “They didn't have to tell us the truth.  You know, they've been very helpful to the SGC with the transition.  I wish all of the inhabitants would ... well ...”

“Give them a break?” Jack completed for his spouse.

“Some of them are still very angry,” Daniel remarked.

“It'll pass,” Jack assured.

“But Tony and Terri will never know.  I ... I guess we've done all we can do for them, but ... still,” Daniel commented, sighing and shrugging at the same time.

“They're alive and free, Danny; that's not a bad deal,” Jack pointed out.

“I know, Babe; I know.”

====

Once they reached Jack's truck, the couple checked their voicemail.  They had left their phones behind in the vehicle, just in case either Jennifer or Jeff needed to reach them.  If they had called, the signal would get through, and the two teens would just think that their parents were 'busy'.  The men knew that if there had been a serious emergency, their children would have contacted one of their extended family members.

Finding no messages, Jack and Daniel headed home.

====

“We're home,” Jack announced as he and Daniel walked through their front door.

All things considered, the couple had made remarkable time, returning to their home at five o'clock, beating home most of the youngest children.

“Hey, Dad,” Jennifer called out from the living room sofa where she was playing cards with Jeff.  “David is upstairs.”

“Did you have a good time?” Jeff asked as their parents walked into the living room.

“Oh, yeah,” Jack answered with a wink.  “Didn't we, Danny?”  **Danny, they have to believe that we were 'you knowing'.**

**I know,** Daniel replied via the couple's special non-verbal communication, while at the same time blushing slightly.

Of course, Daniel's blush was really the only confirmation he needed to give for the children to believe their cover story.

“Geez, Jeff, you just had to ask.  I don't want to know,” Jennifer commented as she set her drink back on the coffee table.

“How’s Bean Sprout?” Jack inquired, glancing at the stairs that led upstairs.

“Just peachy,” Jeff answered with a smug smile at having copied his father’s trademark phrase.

“You’ve corrupted them, Jack,” Daniel accused with mock frustration.

“I’ve corrupted you, too,” Jack stated, kissing Daniel's temple.

“Don’t you two ever stop?” Jen asked with a sigh, though her smile let them know she was teasing, as always.

“I’m going to check on Bean Sprout,” Daniel responded.  “Uh, I'm starving, too.  Jack, how about starting dinner?  I'll come down and help in a minute.”  He headed for the stairs, commenting, “The rest of the brood should be home soon.”

“Sure, Angel,” Jack replied, adding, “Then we can smooch some more.”

“Daaaad!” Jennifer whined, causing everyone to laugh.

====

Bright and early the next morning, the four members of SG-1, along with Major Paul Davis and Colonel Marc Reynolds, were seated in the briefing room.  Reynolds had been called back to the SGC for this debriefing and would be going back to the asteroid once it was completed to finish overseeing the return of the Plantacians to Earth.

General Hammond, Doctor Carolyn Lam, and Major Niles Pendergast of the Pentagon entered the room, Hammond and Carolyn taking their seats immediately.

Before sitting down, Pendergast spat in a raised voice, “COLONEL, WHAT HAPPENED!?”

“I really don't know,” Reynolds replied.  “Tony and Terri were in the kitchen eating lunch.  I was in the living room.  One minute I was standing there, and then the next thing I remember is waking up on the floor.  I did a search and discovered the Calkens were gone.”

“What did you do then, Colonel?” Hammond inquired.

“I radioed Myers and ordered him to do a head count of the Plantacians.  Then I went straight to the Stargate and reported the Calkens were missing,” Reynolds answered.

“Then what?” Pendergast asked harshly.

“General Hammond told me to report back to the SGC so Doctor Lam could check me out.”

Pendergast looked over at the black-haired doctor, who reported, “Other than a nasty contusion to the back of the head and a severe headache, the colonel is fine.”

“General O’Neill …” Pendergast began.

“Jackson-O’Neill,” Jack corrected.

Pendergast glared, but restated, “General Jackson-O’Neill, where were you and Doctor Jackson yesterday?”

“Doctor Jackson-O'Neill,” Jack corrected.

“Jack,” Hammond warned.  He understood Jack's resistance since he wasn't any fonder of Pendergast himself, but he also didn't want the briefing to last any longer than was necessary.  “Let's try to stick to the point.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack answered.  “Not that it's any of your business,” he said, staring at the Pentagon liaison, “but we were at Pike's Peak.”

“What were you doing there?” Pendergast questioned.

“Trust me, Pendergast, you don't want to know,” Jack smirked.
 
“General, under the circumstances it is my business, and I do want to know,” Pendergast smugly stated.

“Fine,” Daniel interjected.  “How graphic would you like us to be?  Uh, you might need a book.”

“Maybe he knows, Danny, and *that's* why he wants us to tell him,” Jack suggested lasciviously.

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Pendergast responded.

“No, I'm sure you don't,” Daniel quipped.

“I want a straight answer,” Pendergast barked.

“Oh, for crying out loud!” Jack exclaimed.  “Would you like us to draw you a picture, Major,” he asked, adding, “Ah, there's nothing *straight* about it, either.”

Reynolds and Davis both glanced at each other, trying their best not to laugh at the entire exchange and each picturing the image that Jack would have to draw.

“Can anyone verify your whereabouts?” Pendergast asked.

“Is he for real?” Daniel asked Hammond.  Looking at the accusing officer, he asked, “Or is it that you want to see a demonstration?”

“We were alone,” Jack snarkily pointed out.

“How convenient,” Pendergast stated accusingly, letting the innuendo go without a response.

“Major Pendergast, have you considered that maybe the NID secretly took them?” Davis asked in an attempt to divert the other major's attention.

“Why would they do that, Major Davis?  They've already been given the official authority to take the aliens and do with them whatever they want,” Pendergast argued.

“Exactly.  If the Calkens are brought to Earth and then disappear, the other inhabitants from Plantacia are going to ask where they are, but if they are taken secretly from the asteroid before they even get here, the Plantacians could be led to believe that Tony and Terri knocked Colonel Reynolds out and left on their own,” Paul theorized.

**He's smarter than I thought,** Jack communicated to his lover.

**Jack, he's trying to divert attention away from us and Marc by planting a seed of doubt,** Daniel deduced.

**It seems to be working,** Jack responded, noting that Pendergast seemed to be focusing on Davis' theory at the moment.

After a few moments, Pendergast rose and announced, “I have to go make a few calls.”

“Paul, do you really think the NID would kidnap the Calkens like that?” Daniel asked, continuing the little charade for Hammond’s benefit as well as Pendergast, who had just reached the doorway.

“The NID would do anything that took the attention off of themselves and put it onto anyone else,” Reynolds knowingly interjected, having worked for the NID at Area 51 before being assigned to the SGC.

“Colonel Reynolds, you are free to go back to Plantacia.  I know that you have a lot of work to do there,” General Hammond stated.  He stood, ending the meeting by saying, “Dismissed.”

As they hit the corridors, everyone heading to different destinations, Jack quietly asked, “Reynolds, I read the report.  It took you a long time to contact Myers and get back to the Gate.”

“Doctor Lam believes I was given some kind of alien tranquilizer, General,” Reynolds explained.  “She found traces of an alien substance in my blood, but not enough to identify it.”

“Yes, I read that,” Jack spoke, looking around just to verify no one was lurking.  Daniel and Davis were a few feet ahead of them, while Sam and Teal'c had already veered off in other directions.  “It just seemed that it took longer than one would have expected.  Hypothetically, one would have thought you'd have come round within four or five hours, not the six-and-a-half that it took you.”

“Hypothetically, General, it's possible it may have taken a while for me to get a hold of my faculties when I did come to.  It was an alien drug, Sir,” Reynolds responded.

“Hypothetically,” Jack said, glancing at Reynolds.

“Hypothetically,” Reynolds agreed.

“How’s the head?” the major general asked as they stopped at the elevator, now standing with Daniel and Davis.

“It hurts, Sir,” the colonel answered truthfully, his eyes focused on the closed doors as he spoke.

After a moment, all four exchanged a knowing look, one that spoke of both sacrifice and regret.  As the elevator doors opened, Jack and Reynolds exchanged a nod, after which they entered the elevator.

“So, good thing your head is as hard as mine,” Jack remarked as the doors closed.

Now it was Daniel and Paul who shared a knowing look, each well aware of just how hard-headed their soulmates could be.

====

Shortly after noon, Jack was out running some errands in anticipation of his brother and sister-in-law's return to Earth.  As he was searching through a stack of jeans, his cell phone rang.

“O'Neill,” Jack answered.

“General, this is Paul Davis,” the major said.  “I'm on a pay phone.”

Jack put down the jeans he'd been examining and headed towards another aisle where there were less people and asked, “What's up?”

“Major Pendergast and an agent from the NID are on the way to the high school to question Jennifer and Jeff about where you were when Tony and Terri disappeared,” Paul expressed with disapproval.

“THEY'RE WHAT?” Jack yelled, causing someone from an adjacent aisle to look around the corner and stare at him.  Heading for the store exit, Jack softened his tone, saying, “I'm sorry, Davis.  Thank you for letting me know.”

As soon as he walked out of the mall, Jack called Daniel to let him know what was happening.

“I'll go to the school and ...” Daniel offered.

“No, Daniel, I'm already on my way,” Jack spoke tersely.  ~I may kill those NID idiots yet.~

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, I won't make a scene in front of the kids, okay?” Jack promised.

“Good.  Jack, I love you,” Daniel stated.

“You're trying to soften me up,” Jack lovingly accused.

“Uh, Babe, that would be harden, but not until you're home so I can, uh .... you know,” Daniel sensually smirked.

“Danny ...”

“Yes, Babe?”

“I love you, too,” Jack said, disconnecting the call.  ~Sneaky geek,~ he thought, realizing that his blood pressure had calmed slightly, which is exactly what his husband had intended.  ~Okay, murder on hold.  I'll keep it to a light rage.~

====

Having secured two of the administrators' offices, Pendergast and a man in a dark suit were separately questioning the Jackson-O'Neill teenagers.

“Are you sure your fathers went to Pike's Peak?” one of the NID agents asked Jennifer.

Before the teenager could answer, the door slammed open.

~That's my dad, and, boy, are you gonna get it now,~ Jennifer thought, unable to stop from smiling.

“Jen, go back to class,” Jack instructed as he walked into the first office, surprising the agent.

On his heels was the school vice-principal, who had been hesitant to allow the questioning, but when faced with government credentials felt he had to go along with Pendergast and the other man.

“Stay right were you are.  We're not finished,” the NID agent ordered.

“Oh, yes, you are,” Jack stated.  “I'm *Major General* Jackson-O’Neill,” he introduced, probably unnecessarily but making sure the agent was fully aware of his rank.  ~These stars are going to be good for something.~

“Captain Ryman,” the agent greeted obligatorily, flipping open his identification and then quickly putting it away.

Jack walked over to his daughter, kissed her head, and again instructed, “Go back to class.”

The agent blocked the teen's path, saying, “I said stay right here.”

“General, would you like me to ...” the vice principal began.

“What I would have liked was for you to have not allowed this in the first place.  We'll be talking about that later.  I can handle this,” Jack groused, his intimidating look causing the vice principal to nod and leave the area.  Refocusing on Jennifer's attempted departure, Jack used his best general glare to order, “*Captain* Ryman, move out of my daughter's way before I turn you into an airman, and I can do it, too.”

Reluctantly, the captain stepped out of the way, allowing Jennifer to return to her class.

“General, you're interfering with an official NID investigation,” Ryman spoke.

“Captain ...” Jack began, only his attention was distracted by a shout coming from the adjacent office.  ~Paper thin walls; they need a better budget.~

Jack's thoughts were again diverted when he realized the shout was coming from his son.  In a flash, he sprinted to the next office, barging in just as Jeff angrily lashed out at the agent asking him questions.

“GET OFF ME!  I TOLD YOU, MY PARENTS WERE AT PIKE'S PEAK,” Jeff yelled.

“GET YOUR HANDS OFF MY SON, PENDERGAST,” Jack ordered, rushing in and becoming livid at what he saw.

Pendergast had Jeff pinned to a wall, releasing him only upon hearing Jack's voice.  Glaring at Jeff, he backed away, allowing Jack access to the boy.

“Jeff, are you okay?” Jack asked, putting his hand on the teenager’s shoulder.

“I’m fine, Dad,” Jeff answered.  “He's been asking questions,” he said, glaring at Pendergast.

“I know all about it,” Jack replied.

“I tried to leave, and that's when he grabbed me,” Jeff added.

“I didn't grab you,” Pendergast denied.

The tension in the air was palpable, the room full of anger, and all for different reasons.

“Jeff, I want you to go out in the hall, and wait for me,” Jack instructed, giving Jeff’s shoulder a reassuring squeeze before releasing it.

“Okay.”

As Pendergast started to object, Ryman interjected, “I wouldn't do that, Sir.”

After seeing the murderous look on Jack's face, Pendergast decided it would be in his best interest to back off and let Jeff leave the room until he could make Jack understand that the questioning would be going forward, or so he thought.

With Jeff now out of the room, Jack shocked his adversary as he pinned Pendergast to the wall by his throat and warned, “I am only going to say this once, so listen up.  My children know nothing about the Calkens disappearance, and with the exception of my two five-year-old sons, none of them have been to Plantacia.  I *strongly* suggest you spend your time investigating people who actually had access to the Calkens, and stop trying to intimidate kids.”

“General, you had access to the aliens, and everyone knows that you and Doctor Jackson ... O'Neill are against the NID looking after them,” Pendergast stated, taking a moment to look down at Jack's hands that were still gripping his throat.

Releasing the man, Jack responded, “Looking after them -- is that the euphemism that the NID is using these days for turning people into lab rats? Check the logs, Major.  My husband and I weren't even at the SGC the day the Calkens disappeared.”

“You may not have done it yourself, but I would bet my career that you had some role in their disappearance,” Pendergast stated confidently, momentarily rubbing his sore neck.

“Then I guess you better start looking for another job, Major, because not only do you lose your bet, but I don't need to wear the stars to have them.  You're toast -- burned to a crisp.  Enjoy your new *civilian* life,” Jack said, heading for the door.  As he reached the door, he turned to look back at Ryman, warning, “My kids are off-limits.  If the NID wants to go after Daniel and me, go ahead and try it, but you stay away from our children.  IS THAT CLEAR?”

Not waiting for a response, Jack stormed out of the office, slamming the door behind him.

~He's lucky I don't make a specimen out of him right here and now,~ Jack angrily spat within his mind.

====

In the hall, Jeff was leaning against the wall, waiting for his father.

“Jeff, are you sure you're okay?” Jack asked when he joined his son.

“Yeah, I just lost my temper, that's all.  I'm sorry,” the teen said.

“You have nothing to apologize for,” Jack refuted as he led Jeff away from the offices.  “They won't bother you again.”

Jeff smirked, “I'm not worried.”

“We did go to Pike's Peak,” Jack stated upon seeing a certain look in the teenager's eyes.

“I know you did, Dad,” Jeff replied.  “Black's a great color, by the way.”

Jack grimaced, somehow not realizing that the 'coincidence' of the black outfits on the day of an unusual disappearance wouldn't slip by their very observant children.

“It has it uses,” Jack stated quietly, which was the closest he would come to confirming the truth.

“I'll bet the Calkens are having a good time, wherever they are,” Jeff stated with a tiny smile, which was the closest he would come to admitting that he knew the unspoken truth as well.

“Anytime someone is free, they should be happy,” Jack agreed.  “What class is Jen in right now?”

Jeff glanced at his watch, then answered, “History.”

“First, we'll get your things, and then we'll get Jen.  Second, we'll ....”

“Ice cream?” Jeff asked in anticipation.

Chuckling, Jack said, “Triple scoops,” putting his arm around his son’s shoulders.

====

“Danny, we're home,” Jack announced as the three entered the house later that day.

“He's upstairs, Dad,” David stated, saying 'hi' to his siblings and giving his father a hug.  “I have to study; big test tomorrow, and you know my science teacher; he's a stickler on detail,” he jested about Daniel.

Jack laughed as he headed upstairs, while Jennifer and Jeff went to the rec room, where the Munchkins and the Spitfires were playing with their Legos and Lincoln Logs.

Entering the bedroom, Jack gave Daniel a hello kiss.

“What happened, Jack?” the younger man asked.

“Pendergast and some idiot named Ryman were questioning Jen and Jeff. Pendergast actually pinned Jeff to the wall when he tried to leave.  Believe me, Daniel, it took all my will power not to kill him right there in front of our son.”

Daniel went to his soulmate and embraced him, sensing Jack was still fighting an internal battle.  At the moment, he wasn't sure who was winning -- the general or Dad.  On the other hand, it didn't really matter as both the general and the dad felt the same way.  They both wanted to murder Pendergast.  After several minutes of tactile reassurance and comforting, he released his Love.

“Are Jen and Jeff okay?” Daniel inquired.

“They're downstairs, and they're fine.  I took them for ice cream, and we talked.  Ah, Danny, FYI, I'm certain Jeff knows,” Jack stated.

“How do you know?” Daniel inquired.

“I didn't tell, and he didn't ask, but he knows,” Jack opined with certainty.

“Okay, well, how about you?  Are you okay?” Daniel asked, still hearing the tension in his husband’s voice.

“I will be, after I do this,” Jack replied, diving in for a long, deep, passionate kiss.

“Dad ... geez, don't you two ever come up for air?  At least you're in your bedroom this time,” Jennifer teased with a giggle.  Deciding her question could wait till later, she closed her parent’s bedroom door and went back downstairs.  ~Dad's a little angry, Daddy, but a little alone time with you, and he'll be fine.~

====

The next day promised to be a big one for the family, as Billy and Jilly O'Neill would be coming home from spending decades on Plantacia.  Everyone was anxious and excited.

First, though, there was still some unpleasantness to be dealt with, which is why at 0900, Jack and Daniel were in the briefing room for another meeting.  Also present were General Hammond and Major Pendergast.

“General Hammond, I must insist that I be allowed to question ...” Pendergast arrogantly began.

“Major, these orders were delivered about thirty minutes ago,” Hammond interrupted with the hint of a smile on his face as he pushed a file across the table to Pendergast.

“What is this?” the major asked as he opened the file.

“That is an order, direct from President Hayes, banning you from questioning the Jackson-O’Neill children.  It also states that you are not to be within fifty feet of them,” General Hammond stated with a full smile.

“We'll see what my superiors say about that,” Pendergast angrily replied as he got up from his chair.

Jack quickly got up and blocked his path, saying, “I suggest that you let it go.”

Hammond stood and quickly pointed out, “Major, you'd be smart to follow your orders, while you're still a major.”

“I might point out that you're only still a major because of one of those 'pictures' you wanted to see so much,” Daniel began, referring back to their previous briefing and the grilling Pendergast had given the lovers about their activities during the time when the Calkens had gone missing.  “You know, those graphic images; the things Jack and I were doing at Pike's Peak.”  Seeing Pendergast just stare, he clarified, “I convinced Jack to give you a second chance, but, uh, go after our children in any way again, and you'll have to deal with me.”

“You wouldn't like that, Major,” Hammond intoned seriously.

“No, you wouldn't,” Jack stated.  He stared at the major, but remained calm as he threatened, “You only get one reprieve, Pendergast.  If you even say our children's names, it'll only take one phone call, and you'll be an airman stationed on the most remote planet in the universe.”

In a huff, Pendergast left the room, realizing he'd lost not just the battle, but the war.
 
**Danny, did you contact Hayes?** Jack inquired.

**No, I was just going to ask you that.**

**Grandpa,** both lovers silently spoke at the same time.

“Well, Jack, I'm sure you're anxious to see your brother again,” Hammond intoned, smiling and leaving all the problems with the NID behind.

“Yeah,” Jack replied, suddenly feeling very giddy inside from the anticipation.

“I'm eager to meet him myself,” Hammond commented.

“You are?” Jack responded.

Hammond just grinned, not saying another word except to excuse himself.

“Danny?”

“He wants to find out if Billy is a pain in the mikta and a hard head like you,” Daniel smirked and then turned to walk out of the briefing room.

Jack stood, wondering just who had done the insulting.  Then he shook his head and hurried after his lover.

“Just one minute ...” the major general began in mocking complaint as Daniel continued to laugh his way down the corridor.

====

Two days after the O'Neill's return to Earth, on the thirtieth of October, the investigation into Tony and Terri’s disappearance was closed.  Ostensibly, it was decided that there wasn't enough evidence, none in fact, to use to find out where or how the couple left Plantacia.  Under the surface, however, President Hayes, while not in on the plan, suspected that Jack and Daniel had found a way to give the aliens their freedom.  Grateful he'd now be able to sleep at night, it was his turn to apply some subtle pressure, and thus, the case was permanently closed.

For late October, the day was fairly warm in the Springs.  Billy and Jilly had requested some time alone together.  Being on Earth was turning out to be overwhelming, so they were spending Sunday afternoon and evening at the Shanahans, who were on a weekend escape of their own in Aspen.  Since Sam and Pete lived right behind the Jackson-O'Neills, if the couple needed anything, they didn't have to go far.

Jack had just made sure the O'Neills were acquainted with the Shanahan home and now was standing in his own backyard, smiling at how good life was.  He enjoyed the wisp of the wind as it fluttered against his clothing.  Even with the strong breeze, it was quite pleasant out, so he decided this would be a good day to surprise his husband.  On the sly, he went into his study and called Janet.

====

A half-hour later, Jack and Daniel were sitting on the couch cuddling when the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it,” Jeff called out.  “Hey, Aunt Janet!”

“Hi, Jeff,” Janet greeted, smiling as she walked by the teenager and entered the living room.

Seeing their friend and comrade, Jack smiled and spoke, “Thanks, Doc.  Let's go, Danny.”

“Go?”  Daniel found himself being pulled up off the couch by his husband.  “Ah, Jack, where are we going?”

“To keep my promise,” Jack replied with a seductive smile.

“Oh,” Daniel intoned softly.  “Which one?”

Jack gave his husband a tiny glare, then answered, “The one I whispered in your ear last week.”

“Ooooh, that promise,” Daniel acknowledged, blushing at the twinkle in his Love's eye.  “Thanks, Janet.”

====

The lovers returned to Pike's Peak, this time going to their favorite, very secluded spot, where Jack kept his promise.  He fulfilled every aspect of his vow, not having forgotten anything that he had whispered into Daniel's ear.  It proved to be a wonderful, lustful, tender, and passionate afternoon and evening for the lovers and their nation of two.

Faraway on Orban, another couple, deeply in love, were also enjoying their own private paradise.  They were free and developing new friendships with a race that had welcomed them with open arms.

As the day came to an end on both planets, freedom, sacrifice, and love were all cherished as some of the greatest gifts that could ever be received.

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