Fade Out

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Angst, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  4 - November 5-7, 2000
Spoilers:  Small Victories (minor), Tangent
Size:  101kb
Written:  December 25-31, 2007, January 1,3-6,26,29-30, March 7-8, 2008
Summary:  Jack and Teal'c are dying in space.  Can Daniel and Sam get to them in time with a little help from their friends?
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.”  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Used with permission for her concept, credit goes to Denise and her fun ficlet, “Maktel Schree Lotak Meta Setak Oz?” which was the inspiration for the final mention of Anise in this fic.  Read the ficlet at: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/197326/1/Maktel_Schree_Lotak_Meta_Setak_Oz
2) 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.”**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
4) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s), “They Don't Understand,” “Waiting,” and “Murphy's Law”
5) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Ali, Melissa, Irina, Lissa, Linda, Keri!

Fade Out
by Orrymain

Daniel - Present Time

This is taking too long; way too long.  Jack, hear me.  You have to live for me.  I need you.  I need you so much.  Hang on, Babe.  Please hang on.  I'm coming.  Do you hear me, Jack?  I'm on my way.  Breathe, and think of me: think of us.  Don't die on me, Jack.  Gawd, don't die on me, not now, not when I finally have something more to live for other than ancient civilizations.  I knew this was going to happen.  Why does everyone I care about die?  Jack, can you hear me?

====
--Two Days Ago
====

“It's gonna be awesome!” Jack exclaimed enthusiastically, gesturing with his hands to emphasize his emotion.

“Okay,” Daniel replied dispassionately from his place on the sofa as he turned the page of the book he was reading.

Behind him, Jack was walking back and forth, talking excitedly about the topic at hand.

“I can't wait to fly it.  I shouldn't have agreed to let Teal'c do the flybys,” Jack sighed, glancing over at his lover as he changed the direction of his pacing.

“Learn to play better Ping Pong,” Daniel replied droned, his eyes never leaving the pages of the book in his hands.

“I think he cheats,” the colonel whined, stopping to sit on the back of the sofa and looking over at the younger man.

“Cheats?”

“Spitballs,” Jack said.  “I think he's doing something on his serves.”

Daniel rolled his eyes and suggested, “Maybe you should work on your eye and hand coordination.”

“There's nothing wrong with my eye and hand coordination,” Jack claimed.  “Maybe he has little rocket boosters in the balls.”

“What?” Daniel asked incredulously.  “Jack, does the word 'paranoid' mean anything to you?”

With a shrug, the older man returned to the main topic, remarking, “At least I get to fly her in the second part of the show.”

“Co-pilot,” the younger man corrected, his attention now back on his novel.

“Daniel, I get the sense you aren't exactly thrilled about this,” Jack observed.

“Jack, you've been talking about this for a week now.  I'm sorry, but I'm tired of hearing about it,” Daniel responded, tossing down his book, getting up, and heading into the kitchen.

Jack twisted around, still seated, but now facing the kitchen, and asked, “Why?”

“Because I just don't want to hear about it anymore, that's all,” the archaeologist answered as he opened the refrigerator and pulled out a beer.

“Beer?” Jack questioned, surprised by the choice.

“We drink it all the time,” Daniel responded, staring defiantly at his lover.

“Yeah, but ...”

“Jack, what's your problem?”

“What's yours?” Jack retaliated, rising from the couch and going to stand by the counter, his hands gripping the end of the countertop.

“I don't have a problem,” Daniel muttered, his eyes now looking down at the unopened beer.

“Daniel, you've been ornery all day.”

“Because all you're talking about is that ... plane.”

“The X-301?” Jack questioned curiously.

“I'm just tired of hearing about the glider; that's all.  I'd rather listen to you prattle on about ... about ... Mary Steenburgen.”

~Hot: she's definitely hot.~  After his momentary one man admiration party for the actress, Jack blinked and focused in harder on the other man.  Then he grinned as a pleasant thought occurred to him.  He straightened from his slightly hunched position of a moment earlier and queried playfully, “Danny, are you jealous of an airplane?”

“Jealous?  Jack, we've covered this.  I do not get jealous.”

Laughing, Jack responded, “Yes, we have covered this, and we agreed that you do get jealous.  You just cover it better.”

“I'm not jealous of an airplane,” the younger man whined as he walked over to the drawer, pulled out the bottle opener, and opened his beer.  “I just wish the test flight was over with already, so we could get back to ... to ... gawd, I don't know,” dropping his head down in a despair he wasn't quite comprehending.

Jack entered the kitchen and put his arms around his lover's waist.  He kissed his nape as he squeezed the younger man to him.  He smiled, hearing the accepting sigh and feeling Daniel leaning into his hold.

“Gawd, I'm jealous of a freakin' airplane,” Daniel admitted.  ~That must be it.~

“No need, Love.  It doesn't have your assets,” Jack said, his right hand slipping down to squeeze the other man's private parts, eliciting a sudden gasp and moan from his lover.

“Don't tease.”

“Who's teasing?”

Within minutes, the men were disrobed and entangled in each other's bodies, books, planes, and jealousy of said planes forgotten.

Daniel - Present Time

Soon, Babe, very soon.  Picture us, together; hold on, for me.  I know: I'm not good at asking for things, but I'm asking for this.  You're always bugging me to tell you what I want and what I need.  Well, Jack, I want and need you to live.  I want you to make this aching feeling in my heart go away.  I want you to fill my soul with warmth, like you do every time you hold me and look at me with your beautiful, brown eyes.  I have a lot of wants, Jack, and they all involve you.  Okay, I've told you.  Now don't let me down.  You've promised me you'd never let me down, that you'd always be there.  Well, I'm ... I'm trying to believe, but you're going to have to prove it to me, Jack.  You're going to have to be alive when this is all said and done.  Do you hear me, Jack?  *Jack!*

====
--One Day Ago
====

“Rise and shine, Dannyboy.  Time to fly,” Jack chirped happily as he rose from the bed.

“It's still dark out,” Daniel complained.

Jack laughed, “Daniel, we have to be at Peterson by 0600.  That means dressed and ready to leave the Mountain by 0530.”  He saw his lover put a pillow over his head and laughed.  “Angel, that's why we stayed here at your apartment, so we wouldn't have to get up early.”

“Jack!”  With venom, Daniel sat up and tossed the pillow forward, hitting Jack head on.  His eyes stern and amazingly focused, he argued, “It's four freakin' thirty in the morning.  This *is* early.”

“We should have been up a half-hour ago,” Jack said, tossing the pillow back onto the bed.  With bright eyes, he declared, “It's gonna be a great day.  I can't wait to get up there and really test the X-301.  Did you know ...”

Daniel tuned out his lover's words.  Instead, he got up and walked by the older man, yawning as he did so, and made his way into the bathroom, slamming the door shut.

Jack frowned, but just shrugged as he called out, “I'll put on the coffee and scramble us some eggs.”

“Scrambled is the right word for you, Jack,” Daniel yelled back a bit angrily.

“My Danny is so not a morning person,” Jack mused, slipping on his sweats.

The Air Force colonel began to hum and then sing the Air Force theme song:

“Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun ...”

“Yes, Jack, you go into the wild blue yonder.  Me?  I'll stay here,” Daniel spoke with a bit of melancholy.  ~I wish he wasn't so excited.  Gawd, I'm tired of thinking about this.  Jealous?  I *hate* being jealous.~

====

On this cloudy day which had been threatening rain before any of them had roused, Jack, Daniel, Sam, and Major Paul Davis stood on runway 18 of Peterson Air Force Base, waiting for Teal'c to return in the aircraft that he was piloting.  The Jaffa had gone up early, at civil twilight, to put the plane through some quick paces, ensuring things went smoothly during the actual testing.

~This is not the way I want to spend a morning.  We could be in bed, snuggling or making love, but, no.  Here we are at Peterson at this ridiculous hour,~ Daniel bewailed internally as he waited among the others.  ~Gawd, look at him: he's practically drooling, and the plane isn't even in sight.  He's only supposed to look at *me* that way.~

Teal'c had remained visible for quite a while, but then disappeared, presumably flying the craft around the world, much to Jack's envy.

“So, Paul, any plans *for lunch*?” Daniel asked, making sure to emphasize the key words and speaking them loudly enough that anyone could hear.

“General Vidrine is planning on having lunch with General Hammond.  If they don't need me, I should be clear.”

“Great,” Daniel acknowledged as brightly as he could.  “Then it's a *date*.”

Davis nodded, not thinking much about the lunch invitation.  He and Daniel were friends, and they'd had lunch or dinner several times since he'd become the liaison between the Pentagon and the SGC.

“Carter, the acceleration in that bird is really something.  Geez, I can't wait to get in her again,” Jack spoke excitedly.

From his position a few feet behind his lover, Daniel bowed his head.  He really had had enough of this new half-alien, half-Tau'ri aircraft.  Not even a lunch 'date' with Paul Davis had distracted the colonel from his adoration for the creation flying around in the sky.

~What did he say when we got up this morning?  Was it 'hello', 'good morning', or even ... 'I love you'?  No, it was, 'Danny, maybe I can wrangle a way to take you up in the 301 for a while', and that was followed by a thirty minute dissertation on the joy of flying high ... in airplanes.~

The archaeologist bemoaned his supposed jealousy as he looked up into the sky, searching for the temporarily missing aircraft.

Soon, the group was joined by General Hammond and Lieutenant General Vidrine, who had flown in from Washington to view the demonstration.  After the introductions, Teal'c appeared from the southwest and swooped down over them at high speed, causing everyone to duck.

~I just don't like that thing,~ Daniel sighed inwardly as he recovered from the low pass.  He followed the path of the glider and sighed, ~It's just ... this feeling.  I've had it once before.  When was that?  When did I feel so ... odd like this?~

Jack was running on adrenaline, his 'woo-hoo' at the low pass was about as exhilarated as Daniel had ever seen him.  He sighed, remembering back to when seeing that aircraft hadn't been such a thrilling event.

“Lookin' good, Teal'c.  Give us another flyby, low and slow,” Jack requested over the radio.  **Danny, isn't she beautiful?**

“As you wish,” Teal'c acknowledged.

**Yeah, beautiful,** Daniel acknowledged insincerely, not that Jack noticed.

Although the archaeologist knew he should be happy that his colonel wanted to share something this important with him, he couldn't help his feelings of jealousy and general unease.

Major Davis explained the new X-301 interceptor to Vidrine, saying, “It's a hybrid craft, Sir, made with a combination of good ol' American know-how and two Goa'uld death gliders that SG-1 recovered a couple of years ago.”

“It may be the most impressive aircraft I've ever seen,” Vidrine remarked.

“Oh, it's more than that, Sir,” Sam spoke.  “Up till now, we haven't had a platform from which we could launch an attack against a Goa'uld ship; now we do.”

~Okay, I'm all for defeating the Goa'uld, but couldn't we have at least altered the look of the death glider?~  Daniel closed his eyes for a brief moment, knowing how crazy he was sounding in his mind.  ~I'm irrational.  Listen to me: I'm freakin' irrational.  You're a scientist, Jackson.  Get over it.~

Next, Teal'c skimmed over the runway, tilting the glider to its right in a smooth turn that amazed everyone.

~That's really something.~  Curious, Vidrine questioned, “What makes it fly?”

“Well, that's difficult to explain, Sir.  The power plant doesn't exert force against gravity so much as take inertia out of the equation.  Even pilots are immune to ordinary G-forces.  We don't completely understand the physics ...”

“Major, I'll just accept the fact that it flies,” Vidrine said, cutting of Sam's prolonged answer to his question.

“Yes, Sir.”

After another flyby and watching Teal'c roll the aircraft over a few times, Jack exclaimed, “Oh, it flies, yes, Sir!”  With a look that expressed his exuberance, he thought, ~This is gonna be a good day.  Oh, yeah!~

~Gawd, you'd think the plane was ... I don't know, but ... oh, for crying out loud,~ Daniel bemoaned about his own whining.

“Have him bring her in, Colonel,” Hammond ordered.

~Finally,~ Daniel thought, glad the show was over.  He was eager to move forward and get the day over with.  ~I can't wait until it's tomorrow.  I should have called in sick.~

With a nod of acknowledgement to Vidrine, Jack communicated, “Set her down, Teal'c.”

“Acknowledged,” Teal'c responded.

“That baby is one powerful bird,” Jack ranted, beginning a conversation that continued until Teal'c approached the group, helmet in hand, a few minutes later, having just landed the X-301 nearby.

“I always like to get the view of the man in the cockpit,” Vidrine explained to Hammond and Jack as they walked forward a few feet, stopping when Teal'c was almost to them.  As soon as the Jaffa was within a yard or so, the visiting general inquired, “How does she fly, Son?”

“The vehicle preformed within expected parameters,” Teal'c answered without much excitement.

In response, Jack snarked, “Woo-hoo!”  Seeing the stares from everyone, especially Vidrine whom he was standing next to, he explained, “Sorry, Sir.  I couldn't help but get caught up in Teal'c's enthusiasm.”

Standing behind General Hammond, Paul Davis couldn't help but chuckle, though he tried to hide it.  He knew Jack O'Neill wasn't a by the book officer, which sometimes put them in conflict, but he had to admit that the colonel was a colorful character.

To cover up his amusement, Davis looked toward Vidrine and spoke, “Upon completion of a fight-test program, we hope to deploy the X-301 as an orbital defense craft under your command, Sir.”

“In all seriousness,” Vidrine looked over at Jack, “if that's all right with you, Colonel, how effective can a single fighter be against a potential fleet of Goa'uld warships?”

“That is what these tests endeavor to determine,” the Jaffa answered.

“Let's find out.  What's next?” Vidrine asked.

“I take second seat for an air-to-air live fire test, Sir,” Jack spoke.  ~Gotta pick up my ping-pong game.  I'm sure Teal'c is cheating, though.~

~No!  Gawd, that feeling is stronger.  I don't want Jack near that glider.  Geez, am I *that* jealous of an ... airplane?  I'm pitiful,~ the archaeologist sighed inwardly, his facial expression a bit pained though a person would have to know him well to notice that fact.

“Our SGC control room will serve as Mission Control, Sir,” Hammond advised.

“Light that candle, boys,” Vidrine ordered eagerly and then turned around to head back to his vehicle.

“Yes, Sir,” Jack responded as the group dispersed and he and Teal'c headed for the glider.

Sam almost backed into Daniel as she stepped aside for Vidrine to pass.  As she began to walk away, she looked back at the archaeologist, sensing that he was distracted.

“Daniel, are you okay?”

“Fine,” Daniel replied quietly, looking forward and seeing Jack and Teal'c walk away.

Sam wasn't really convinced, but she couldn't think about it now, not with Vidrine nearby, so she walked on.

Daniel stood in place, his eyes glued on the back of his lover as he thought, ~Yes, go, don't look back.  It's okay.  I don't need you to say goodbye or anything.  I'm just your lover.~  He let out a sigh and knew he needed to get to one of the waiting vehicles or risk attracting unwanted attention.  ~Have a good flight,~ he scowled inwardly as he turned and headed for the vehicles.

====

On the short drive back to Cheyenne Mountain, Daniel remained silent.  Most of the conversation was on the science of flight, something he was mostly ignorant about, and, right now, he was grateful for that.  He just wanted to sit and stare out the window, looking up at the black and white clouds in the sky.

~A thunderstorm: that's what we needed.  If it had rained hard enough, they would have canceled these tests.~  Daniel grimaced and wondered, ~Why am I so upset about Jack and the glider?  I know.  It's how he smiles when he talks about it.  Okay, maybe I'm not being fair.  I mean, I guess that's how I get when I'm talking about Egypt, but ... no, this different.  It's deep inside me, a ... a ... I don't know what it is, but I don't like thinking about Jack and the glider.~

The archaeologist smiled at a comment when the others looked at him.  He had no clue what the remark had been.  He was too lost in his own world at the moment.

~His smile is so sexy.  His voice: when he's excited about something, it just makes me weak at the knees.  We've been to air shows, museums; I've seen him ranting about airplanes.  I've heard him prattle, a lot, but, somehow, this is different.  I love his smile.  My Jack: he's so handsome and strong.  I don't want to lose him.~

Daniel straightened in his seat and frowned as he pondered, ~Why am I thinking about losing him?~  After an inaudible sigh, he again asked himself, ~Why?~

Just then, the archaeologist felt a small tug on his arm.  He looked over and saw a concerned expression on Sam's face.

With the others engaged in conversation, Sam asked quietly, “Daniel, are you sure you're okay?”

Daniel just smiled and gave his friend a little nod.  He then looked back out the window of the military vehicle he was riding in.

~Losing him?  But we're fine.  Aren't we fine?~

====

Everything was happening quickly with the testing for the X-301.  By 7:10 a.m., Daniel, Sam, Major Davis, and General Hammond were in the control room.  Both Sam and Paul Davis were seated at the central computer controls, while Daniel, Vidrine, and Hammond stood behind them.  Jack had already requested and been granted permission to proceed with the test, so Teal'c was heading the craft towards the target area.

~Coffee: I definitely need coffee,~ Daniel had told himself upon entering SGC.  As a result, he'd been the last one to walk into the control room since he'd detoured to pick up a cup of the hot brew.  Now, seeing a blip on the radar, he asked, “That's them?”

“The X-301 is equipped with stealth technology.  It normally wouldn't even show up on radar, so we've installed a special transmitter for the test,” Paul Davis answered.

“These blips represent the target drones; 301 is carrying two Aim120A air-to-air missiles,” Sam added.

“Major, are you suggesting a slammer missile would be capable of taking out a Goa'uld mother ship?” Vidrine inquired.

“If it's armed with a naquadah-enhanced warhead and modified with a shield frequency modulator, yes, Sir!”

Facing Vidrine, Hammond beamed with pride at the inventiveness of the major on his staff.  Vidrine, himself, was surprised and impressed.

“Beginning attack run now,” Teal'c stated over the radio, the aircraft making a steep rise.

“Woo-hoo-hoo!” Jack exclaimed, not realizing yet that things had just gone awry. ~Danny, wish you could feel what this is like; man, it's incredible.~

~Alright, Jack, we know you love your toy.  Get over it,~ Daniel whined inwardly.  ~It's just an airplane; actually, it's not even that.  It's a glider, made up of alien parts.  It's one of those things that have almost gotten us killed on several occasions.~

“Digger One, you're going to overshoot,” Sam suddenly called out with alarm, luring Daniel from his private lament.

~What?  Wait.  What's happening?  Why does she sound so nervous?  Overshoot?  What does that mean exactly?~ Daniel wondered anxiously.

Unfortunately, Jack and Teal'c quickly learned that they weren't in control of the glider any longer; in addition, their ejection system was malfunctioning, resulting in them being unable to eject from the craft.

At the SGC, Sam reported to a questioning Vidrine that, “The glider was setting up to attack the target drones when it accelerated into a steep vertical climb.  It's off our radar; we're attempting to reacquire tracking.”

“Are you saying they've gone into orbit?” Daniel asked.

“I'm saying they're heading straight out into space,” Sam answered.

Though the X-301 was capable of space flight, that wasn't part of this test.

“Teal'c wouldn't do this intentionally.  There has to be something wrong,” the archaeologist opined as he continued to look at the radar screen.  ~I knew something was going to happen.  I just ... gawd, I knew it.~

“A malfunction?” Hammond asked.

“Must be, Sir,” Sam agreed.

Hammond's first thought was to send a shuttle after his men, but Sam said they wouldn't be able to reach them unless they were able to turn the 301 around.  Meanwhile, Davis was working on restoring communication.

====

~This is so not how this flight was supposed to go,~ Jack thought while he checked his controls in the rear seat.  Suddenly, the glider shut down.  ~Okay.  Is that good or bad?  Hmmm, sitting here isn't going to help us.~

When Teal'c attempted to restart the engine, a very unpleasantly familiar voice thundered through the aircraft, saying, “Shol'va!  To all those who would turn against their god, know this.  For your insolence, you will die in the cold of space.  What was rightfully mine will now return to me.”

~He's dead.  Oh, please, tell me he's dead,~ Jack begged as the message played out.  ~Crap.~  To Teal'c, he asked, “Was that who I think it was, and did he just say what I think he said?”

“If you think it was Apophis and that he said the gliders from which this craft was constructed contain a device designed to return this glider to his home world ... then, yes,” Teal'c answered.

“He also mentioned something about ... dying ...”

“In the cold of space,” the Jaffa completed.

“Right.  Well, the ol' boy hasn't lost his touch, has he?” Jack questioned rhetorically.  ~Okay, think.  You're stuck in space, and Danny is in the control room going nuts, but trying not to show it.  O'Neill, how are you going to get out of this one?~

Jack looked out into the darkness of space.  Two minutes earlier, it had been the clear daylight he'd seen, and that was what he'd rather be seeing now, too. He'd enjoyed the test flight, and he was eager to do more, but not while floating uncontrollably through outer space.

~Space: the final frontier,~ Jack quipped silently.  ~Danny.  Okay, Angel.  Don't panic.  There's always a Plan B, and I'm about to find it.~  He took a breath and mumbled to himself, “I hope.”

“Did you say something, O'Neill?” Teal'c asked, still facing straight ahead.

“Got any ideas?”

“No.”

“Well, work on it,” Jack suggested.  ~There's always an 'or'.  Okay, we can sit here in space and do nothing, *or* we can ... crap, I don't know, yet.~

====

“Sam, where are you going?” the worried archaeologist asked.

“To check on a few calculations; maybe run a simulation or two,” the major answered.  She smiled and said reassuringly, “We'll get them down, Daniel.  If you need me, I'll be in my lab.”

~We'll get them down.  I'm counting on that, Sam,~ Daniel thought as he walked forward, eventually sitting down in the chair where'd she been a few minutes earlier.

With the phone cradled next to his right ear as he remained on 'hold' with NASA, Paul Davis looked over at the archaeologist.  He knew this was difficult for Daniel. He thought back to just four months ago when Jack and Teal'c had been on a submarine being run over by Replicators.  Jack had given the order to blow up the sub, an act that would result in both his and Teal'c's death.  The Pentagon liaison had declined to follow that order until Daniel gave his assent.  It had been a moment full of tension and emotion.

~You cried, Daniel.  I saw the tears,~ Paul thought as he reflected back.  ~Ironic that we're here, trying to rescue Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c yet again.~  He acknowledged the speaker at the other end of the call, telling him to continue to hold, that they were working on the situation.  Glancing back at his friend, he opined, ~This reminds me of then.  SG-1 sure is close.  I'm surprised they've let you remain a team.  It goes against the book.~

After escorting Vidrine to his office so that the visiting general could make a phone call, Hammond returned to the control room from his office and suggested, “Doctor, why don't you try and reach Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c again.”

Immediately, Daniel pressed the button and spoke, “Digger One, come in.”  He paused just briefly and then requested, “Jack or Teal'c, please respond.”  He looked back at Hammond and stated the obvious.  “Nothing.”

“NASA Deep-Space tracking is trying to boost the signal,” Davis reported.

“General, maybe we should contact our allies capable of space flight, tell 'em our situation,” Daniel suggested.  ~It's better than just sitting here, calling out to them over and over again, without a response.~

Hammond gave the go-ahead, noting that SG-2 would stand by to assist the archaeologist.

Quickly, Daniel left the room, thinking, ~If we can just get a hold of the Asgard, I know Thor will help.  The problem is, they aren't always accessible.  We need a better way of contacting them than that communication device.~

--

After Daniel left the control room, Vidrine decided it would be best if he returned to the Pentagon and see if anyone there could help.

The minute Vidrine left, Sam returned with several papers in her hand and informed Hammond, “Sir, I have an idea, but a whole lot of things have gotta go right in order for it to work.”

Just as Sam sat down in the chair, a message Jack had sent minutes earlier came through:  “Cheyenne, we have a problem!”

Excitedly, Sam replied, “Digger One, this is Flight!  Reading you five by,” indicating in abbreviated form that transmission was excellent in strength and perfect in clarity by using a one-to-five scale where five meant the best.

Even so, the communication was hampered by the natural lag in time that it took messages to go from Earth to the 301 and back again.

--

Meanwhile, up in space, Teal'c was feeling guilty for the predicament that he and Jack were in.  After all, had he not betrayed Apophis, then the gliders would never have been altered.  Therefore, in the Jaffa's mind, he was indirectly responsible for them being stranded in space.

Jack dismissed the guilt, assuring Teal'c, “We'll be fine.”

A few seconds later, the 301 aircraft received Daniel's earlier message: “Digger One, come in.”

“There, see?” Jack spoke.  ~That's my Danny.  Angel, I miss you.  I know you're worried down there.  I also know you're trying to figure out a way to bring me home.  I'm working on it, too.~

“Jack or Teal'c, please respond,” Daniel's message concluded, having had no response at the time.

Jack replied, “Yeah, Flight.  Digger One, we read you.  We have lost control of the craft to some sort of hidden recall device.”  He then informed the SGC about the device Apophis had installed on the glider.  Not having any response to his words, he concluded, “Uh, Flight, I don't know whether or not you can hear me, but ... uh, controls are not responding: no thrusters and no reaction control system.  We are ... purely ballistic.  Over.”

====

At the SGC, Sam sent another message, stating, “Colonel, you're so far out, there's already a time lag of a few minutes, so conversation is gonna be a problem.  We've received some preliminary tracking data from the deep space network.  The glider is going to pass relatively close to Jupiter.  We're hoping if we can somehow nudge your trajectory just a bit, you can perform a slingshot maneuver back toward Earth.  Message ends 1430 Zulu.”

“A time hack.  Good thinking, Major,” Davis praised about the use of the Zulu time reference.

Zulu time was used by the military as a base reference.  Also known as Greenwich Mean Time, Zulu time is the time in Greenwich, England.  With the world divided into twenty-four time zones, a standard was needed to make sure operations were carried out at the appropriate time or in proper synchronization, and Greenwich was designated as the base time.  Other time zones were given a letter designation, such as 'T' for Tango, which covered the Denver area.

“It will take at least three minutes for our radio signals to get that far out, even at the speed of light,” Sam responded.

Then the last message from Jack came in, reporting that the controls were not responding.  Sam was frustrated as she was counting on Jack and Teal'c having some ability to maneuver.

“I don't know how to swing them around Jupiter without reaction control systems,” the major bemoaned.

Having gotten Sam's message about the slingshot maneuver, Jack suggested using their missiles to give them the needed nudge, though he'd need to know where and when to do the burn and how long to allow the burn to last.

Sam believed the plan could work, but she needed a half-hour to work out the burn calculations.  Even though they didn't have a lot of time, she needed to plan carefully because if they thrust in the wrong direction, Jack and Teal'c could end up hitting Jupiter.

====

Thirty minutes later, Sam and Davis were rattling off the instructions for the burn, talking so fast that Jack was getting a little frustrated and exclaimed, “Slow down, for cryin' out loud.”  Full of frustration, he groused, ~I'm not a friggin' computers.~

Finally, Sam's last message concluded, “You can commence at any point from 1622 Zulu.  This is Flight.  1618 Zulu.”

“That's right about now,” Jack stated.  To Teal'c, he instructed, “Whenever you're ready.”

The two men stuck in space ignited their missiles, hopeful for a positive outcome.  Unfortunately, during the burn, after the two missiles disengaged from the hybrid craft, one of them lost its burn and began tumbling back towards the glider.

“Look out!” Jack exclaimed, even though he knew he and Teal'c were sitting ducks and could do nothing to avoid the imminent collision.  ~That wasn't encouraging, Danny,~ he thought upon feeling the impact of the missile to the glider.  ~At least we didn't crash into the planet; that's something as Danny would say.~

====

When the burn was completed, it took a while to properly analyze the results of the attempt.  Sadly, it hadn't gone as hoped.

Glad her CO couldn't see her expression at the moment, Sam reported over the radio, “Digger One, this is Flight.  We have no joy on the burn.  I'm sorry, Colonel, but the missiles just didn't have enough thrust.  Your current trajectory takes you out of the solar system and towards the Oort cloud, which you should reach in a ... in a few months.  We're all still thinking down here so ... don't give up.  1813 Zulu.”

Jack and Teal'c heard the message a few minutes later.

“Our situation has indeed worsened,” the Jaffa spoke.

“Ya think?”

“Indeed.  Impact with the missile has damaged both power and life support.”

“I've always wanted to see the Oort cloud, so there's that,” Jack replied.  “Flight, this is Digger One.  The failed burn caused damage to our power systems and life support.”  He sighed.  ~Danny, my Plan B fizzled.  We need a Plan C.~

====

“This is Doctor Daniel Jackson of the planet Earth,” Daniel spoke over the radio.  A connection had been established between Earth and Tollana, and the archaeologist was speaking with a representative of the Curia, which was the Tollans' highest governing body.

“Yes, Doctor Jackson.”

“Uh, is High Chancellor Travell or Narim available?”

“I'm afraid not.  Is there something we may help you with?” the Tollan inquired.

“Yes, there is,” Daniel confirmed, after which he proceeded to explain the situation and ask for assistance.  Unfortunately, the response was in the negative.  No matter what Daniel said, the Tollan man remained firm.  Perturbed, the archaeologist spoke curtly, “You know, we saved your expedition from suffocating in a mound of volcanic ash, and we didn't ask for anything in return.  In fact, SG-1 risked their entire careers to protect you from becoming exhibits in cages.”

“I am aware of that, Doctor Jackson.  I was one of those you rescued, and I do thank you; but, as I have already explained, there isn't a way we can help you.  Our ships aren't anywhere close to Earth, and they aren't fast enough to get there in order to be of any help.”

“I'd like to speak with High Chancellor Travell,” the archaeologist demanded, deciding to go to the top of the totem pole at this point.

“She is unavailable.”

“Look,” Daniel began agitatedly.  “We're allies, and you have technologies that are far beyond our ... primitive minds.  We need your help.”

“If we could, we would.  I truly regret that we cannot help at this time.”

“You could at least do me the courtesy of letting me speak with Travell directly,” Daniel implored.

Tollana out,” the representative said, ending the transmission.

“Or not,” Daniel sighed in frustration.  He thought for a moment about his next move and then looked over at Major Lou Ferretti, leader of SG-2.  “Lou, we're not doing this by ... phone next time.”

“We're ready, Daniel,” Lou said on behalf of his teammates, who were standing behind him, all geared up and ready to embark to whatever destination the archaeologist chose.  “Where to?”

“Vorash,” Daniel answered.  “That's where the Tok'ra home base is located.  If Jacob's there, we shouldn't have a problem.”

“If he's not?”

“Freya has a crush on Jack; she'll help,” Daniel replied as confidently as he could.

Lou chuckled, “Jack told me about that.  He said the snake likes you.”

“I'd rather not think about that,” the archaeologist replied before turning and heading for the gear-up room to prepare for his trek off-world.

====

“Do you think they'll help?” Lou asked as he walked by Daniel's side on Vorash, the two of them walking swiftly, wanting to make quick time to the ring transporter location.

The other three members of SG-2 were behind them, slightly fanned out as a precaution.

“They'd better,” Daniel spoke, reminding the other man of Jack.  ~The Asgard still haven't responded.  They must be out of the galaxy, or something,~ he lamented.

Suddenly, the Tok'ra guard appeared, seemingly out of nowhere.

“Hello,” Daniel greeted.  “Is Garshaw available?”

“You are Daniel Jackson of the Tau'ri,” a Tok'ra Daniel hadn't seen before spoke.

“Uh, yes, and this is important.”

“Garshaw is away.”

“Selmak?”

“He, too, is away.”

Daniel sighed, “Anise?”

“She is here.”

“Well,” Daniel began, stepping into the spot where he knew the rings were and motioning for Lou to follow, “Ring away.”

“Wait here,” Lou ordered his team, the three men waiting on the surface with two of the Tok'ra guard, while the rings sprang up from the ground and transported the others to the tunnels below.

“Doctor Jackson,” Anise, the symbiote, greeted as the rings settled into the ground.

“Anise, we need to talk, and it's urgent.”

“This way,” Anise stated, leading Daniel and Lou to the meeting room.

Once there, Daniel introduced, “This is Major Ferretti.  Lou, this is Anise.”

“Pleasure,” Lou responded politely as he studied the area.  ~Wow,~ he thought about the crystal tunnels, since this was his first time on Vorash.

Over the next couple of minutes, Daniel explained how Jack and Teal'c were stranded in space.

“Daniel, we have no desire to see harm come to Colonel O'Neill or Teal'c,” Anise spoke.

“Then *help* us,” Daniel pleaded.

“Our operatives are too far away,” Anise answered regretfully.  She paused and then added, “There is a scout ship, *a day* out from Earth, but he is on a covert mission to a *Goa'uld* occupied planet.  However, with luck, he should complete his task within *a day*.  Perhaps, then, he could assist you.”

“That'll be too late,” the archaeologist responded, dropping his head and shaking it as a feeling of total failure swept through him.

“Doctor Jackson, it is our hope that our operative will complete *his* mission in time to assist you.  I realize you are concerned, but I trust that you would also not want to risk our operative that is *close* to both of us.”

“All we're asking for is one freakin' ship, Anise.”

“I've already told you too much.”

“Excuse me?  You've told me *too* much?” Daniel questioned incredulously with a disbelieving expression on his face.  “You haven't told me anything.  You want to tell me something?  Tell me you're sending a ship!  Jack and Teal'c don't have a lot of time here.”

“I've done all I can do.”

“Let me talk to Freya,” the archaeologist demanded, watching as the host's head dropped down for a brief moment.

“Anise is not lying, Doctor Jackson,” the host spoke with a softer voice about her symbiote.  “Please, if we could do more, we could.”

“Oh, yeah, right!  How many times do we ask you for anything?” Daniel asked in a near shout.  “Come on; tell me.  You couldn't count them on one hand, because we've *never* asked you for anything because you *never* help us, but, whoa, if you need something, you just walk on in and tell us the galaxy is in danger and ask for our help, which, I might point out, we always do, give our help.”

Anise took control again and replied, “Our operative is your best chance.  If he contacts us in time, he will be at your disposal.”

“What's more important here?  Postpone the freakin' mission!”

“To do so would risk the operative's life, and I do not believe that *any* of us would be happy about that.  I am sorry we cannot do more right now.”

“Right,” Daniel replied sarcastically.  “What's so important about this mission that you're willing to sacrifice Jack and Teal'c?”

Five minutes later, the archaeologist was still frustrated.  Anise was giving him a bunch of double talk and refusing to provide any useful information on the location of the operative or why their mission was so critical.

Believing his task was fruitless and wanting to get home and try something else, Daniel cut off Anise mid-sentence, saying, “Thank you, for nothing.”  Turning around, he said, “Lou, let's go.”

“You may not believe this, Daniel, but I was doing you a favor by telling you what I have.”

“That's a favor?” Daniel challenged, shaking his head and continuing to walk away, without even glancing back at the Tok'ra.

Lou nodded at Anise, his eyes involuntarily noticing the scantily clad wardrobe of the shapely female.

~She gives leather a good name,~ the Marine thought as he turned and sprinted after the fleeing archaeologist.

====

“Sam?” Daniel called out hopefully, seeing the major waiting for him at the foot of the ramp in the gate room.

“The burn didn't work, Daniel,” the sympathetic woman advised.

Hearing the words, Daniel sighed and began to walk slowly towards the exit, handing his weapon to an airman to return to the armory.  Sam nodded at Lou Ferretti and his team and then followed her friend out, while SG-2 used the opposite exit.

“Daniel, I'm sorry, but we'll think of something.”  Sam sighed, catching up with the archaeologist and seeing his distress.  “No luck with the Tok'ra?”

“I'm beginning to understand why Jack doesn't like them very much,” Daniel sighed.

As they arrived at the elevator, Sam advised, “General Hammond wants us to meet in the briefing room to review the situation.  Are you ready, or do you need more time?”

“Uh, yeah, I'm ready,” the archaeologist answered.  “I'll be there as soon as I change,” he said, entering the elevator and heading for the locker room.  After the doors closed, he sighed, ~Not that there's much to report.  Allies; what a joke.~  Angry, he spat inwardly, ~Why do I fight so hard to protect their interests when they just ... ignore us when we really need?~

Daniel took a breath to try and regroup; still, he couldn't deny the anger he was feeling inside.

====

In the briefing room a few minutes later, the principles reviewed the current status of the crisis while various reports and paperwork were distributed among them.

From his seat next to Daniel, Paul Davis stated, “No propulsion of any kind and limited consumables.  The attempt to change their course has damaged both life support and power systems.  Now, for the moment, we're recommending a complete shutdown of all nonessential systems.”

“Maybe there's a way they can disconnect or ... or override whatever it is that locked them out in the first place,” Daniel suggested while fidgeting with his pen.

“It's worth considering,” Hammond agreed.

“No, Sir, I don't think it is,” Sam refuted.

“Why not?” Daniel asked.

“Well, it's logical to assume that there's also a failsafe mechanism to prevent the pilot from attempting exactly that,” Sam answered.

“We don't know that for a fact,” Davis responded.

“Yeah, but it makes sense,” Sam maintained.  “At this point, I recommend we concentrate on ways to maximize life support.”

“The engineers who designed the X-301 are running scenarios now.  Now, they can scrub the CO2, but oxygen and power are going to be a problem now; and it is going to get cold up there,” Davis pointed out.

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond called out, looking for happier news than he'd just been given.

“The Tollan regret they don't have a spacecraft either fast enough or close enough to get there within a year,” the archaeologist answered.

“And the Tok'ra?” the major general inquired.

Looking down at the table as he began, Daniel replied, “Uh ... yeah!  Um, I spoke with Anise personally.  She said they have a scout ship within a ... a day or so of Earth, barely; uh, but it's on a covert mission to a Goa'uld-occupied world, and the High Council doesn't wanna expose their operative by ...  making ... contact.”

“Then, why would they bother to tell you that much?” Davis asked curiously.

“They hope that the operative will complete the mission and report back to the High Council in time to help Jack and Teal'c.”

“I assume Anise refused to say where or what this covert mission was,” Hammond stated.

“And to understand not wanting to jeopardize the life of a Tok'ra important to both of us.  I mean, I sort of ... lost my temper, but she said she was doing us a favor by telling us as much as she did,” Daniel explained.

“Maybe she was,” Sam stated, a thought having occurred to her.  “I mean, we know a scout ship's maximum speed from our mission to Netu.  We also know it's a Goa'uld-occupied world relatively close to Earth, so ...”

“So ... that narrows it down,” Davis stated.

“Yes, it does,” Sam confirmed.  “Sir, with your permission ...”

“Granted!” Hammond responded.

~Where's my brain?~ Daniel wondered.  ~Gawd, she practically laid it out on a plate for me, and I missed it.  The words she used; the emphasis on some of them.  Jackson, you're a freakin' idiot sometimes, and this is one of those times.~

====

As Sam and Daniel worked on the major's idea to track down the location of the Tok'ra operative, the archaeologist suddenly paused.

“Uh, Sam, I was thinking that Jack and Teal'c aren't the most patient people in the world.”

“I wouldn't bet against that,” Sam agreed.

“Well, what if they decide to start ... I don't know, messing around with the glider.  I mean, uh, Jack's going to look for a Plan ...”

“... C,” both Daniel and Sam spoke, knowing that Plan B had been the unsuccessful missile burn.

Sam nodded and thought for a moment, putting herself in their situation.

“Sam?”

“If I were up there, I'd try to disconnect the recall device.  It would seem the logical thing to do: just pull the plug and end of problem.”

“Would it work?”

“I'm not sure, and I'd be afraid that Apophis might have rigged a backup,” Sam answered.

“So, it's not a good idea.”

“No.”

“I'll be back,” Daniel spoke, turning and heading for the control room to relay to Jack and Teal'c the information he'd just learn.

====

“Daniel, have you ...” Davis began, seeing the archaeologist enter the control room.

“No, we're still working on it, but we need to send them a message,” Daniel said as he sat down.

“Instructions?”

“No; maybe.  Uh, Jack doesn't give up, and neither does Teal'c.”  Daniel let out a very small smile as he continued, “He's big on finding alternative plans.  He won't just sit there.”

“The recall device?”

“That's what Sam and I were thinking,” the archaeologist confirmed as he opened the channel.  “This is Flight.  Hold tight, Guys.  We've got a new plan to try to reach you with a Tok'ra scout ship.  Um, message ends at ... what ... what time is it?” He glanced down at his watch and then at the paper that had the Zulu time conversation table on it.  “Uh ... 1947 Zulu.”

“I know it gets confusing,” Davis stated after the archaeologist had struggled to convert mountain time to Zulu time, trying to make Daniel feel more comfortable.  ~He's a little nervous right now.~

“A little,” Daniel confirmed.  He knew he had one more item to relay to Jack and Teal'c, something which was actually the most important part of the message he was sending.  ~Make this casual, but stern,~ he told himself.  “Oh.  If you're thinking of trying to disconnect the recall device, Sam thinks that would just make things worse.”

Daniel let out a tiny whiff of air that was audible.

“Are you okay, Daniel?”

The scientist looked over at the major and replied, “Deja vu, sort of.”

“I was thinking about that earlier,” the other man said.  “The colonel and Teal'c survived that one okay.”

“Two miracles in just a few months?”

“I don't know if they're miracles, Daniel, but maybe a lot of people doing a lot of hard work equals ... luck.”

“The Asgard haven't responded to any of our communication attempts.  I don't think they're going to be able to pull this one off.”

“One of the first things I learned from General Hammond was that SG-1 was pretty amazing.  He has a tremendous amount of faith that all of you will survive just about anything.”

“I hope he's right,” Daniel replied quietly.

“So much for lunch,” the major tried to quip.

“Lunch?” Daniel asked, having forgotten about his juvenile attempt to make his lover jealous.  ~Sometimes, Jackson, you're so dang needy and stupid,~ he sighed, blaming himself for absolutely everything that had gone wrong during the last several hours, though, in actuality, none of it was his fault.  “Oh, yeah.  I'm not exactly hungry.”

Paul Davis nodded in agreement and watched as the somewhat subdued archaeologist got up and headed back to continue his research with Sam.  Though it was almost 2 p.m., he hadn't eaten anything, either.  Somehow, when a member of the military family was in jeopardy, the need and desire for sleep and food just went out the window.  Still, he knew the troops needed nourishment.

Getting up, Paul headed for General Hammond's office.  Then, after having gotten permission, he called the mess hall and ordered sandwiches, chips, and coffee to be brought to all personnel working on rescuing Jack and Teal'c.  It wasn't much, but the hope was that everyone would at least grab a bite or two while they worked.

====

Not long thereafter, Jack and Teal'c were turning off all the systems they could in order to save power.  Just after Jack notified Flight that they'd check in every hour, the first part of Daniel's message came through.

~He's worried.  I hear the edge in his voice.  Sorry, Love.  I don't know how to win this one for us.  No, don't give up.  The recall device?~  At what he thought was the end of Daniel's message, Jack spoke over the radio, “Ah ... Flight, Digger One.  We would prefer to do *something*.  Tell us how to fix this thing; we'll fly ourselves home.”  He paused, thinking, ~Come on, Carter.  Agree with me.~

At that point, the second half of Daniel's message played, causing Jack to groan.

“Is something wrong, O'Neill?” the Jaffa asked.

“No, no, I'm just stranded in space and every idea I think of to get us out of here seems to go poof.”

“What is 'poof'?”

“Disappear, go away, blow up.  Never mind.  Teal'c, what about the recall device?”

“MajorCarter advised against tampering with the device, O'Neill.  Are your ears adversely affected by being in space?” Teal'c asked.

“No, I was just ... bad idea,” Jack sighed.  ~Tok'ra scout ship?  Now that seems like a long shot, but I'll take that for Plan C.  I'm not sure I can come up with a D plan, Love.~

====

“Daniel, I think I've got it,” Sam stated, putting down her sandwich.

“Show me,” Daniel requested.

“Look,” the major said, showing him her chart.

“That must be it,” the archaeologist agreed.  He paused, licking his lips, and then asked, “Sam, do you really think it's Jacob that Anise was talking about?”

Sam smiled as she replied confidently, “You confirmed it for me when you told me about how she spoke.”

“She was trying to tell me,” Daniel sighed.  “I wasn't listening.”

Putting her hand on Daniel's shoulder and pressing against it gently in support, Sam stated, “You're a little distracted, but that's okay.  We're on track now.”

“I should have thought of it,” the archaeologist lamented.

“You convinced her to tell us what she did, and that was pretty amazing,” Sam praised.  “We need to tell the general about this.”

“I have a suggestion.”

“What?”

“Sam, one way or another, getting to that planet is our only chance of saving Jack and Teal'c, right?”

“Probably,” the major affirmed, though hating that she'd just done so.

“No matter what, we have to get there, so ... let's not waste time.  Let's ... gear up; show General Hammond that we believe in this.”

Nodding, Sam picked up her papers and headed for the locker room.  A moment later, Daniel followed, his heart still hanging heavy with fear for the life of his lover.  Remaining in the room where they'd been working were two half-eaten sandwiches and two completely unopened bags of potato chips.  Their coffee mugs, however, had been refilled three times and were virtually empty.

====

As soon as they were ready, Daniel and Sam requested that Hammond meet them in the briefing room.  Major Davis accompanied the general to the room, standing just behind and to the side of him.

“Major,” Hammond spoke.

While Daniel remained to Hammond's right, Sam walked forward to the star map and, pointing to a spot high and to the right on the map, stated, “This is P2C-257.”  She began to draw a line with her finger from the planet to the center of the map, which designated Earth.  “It is the *only* Goa'uld-occupied world that's even *remotely* within a scout ship's range of Earth at maximum speed.  The Tok'ra operative must be there.”

“What are the risks?” the general asked.

“Well, Sir, as you know, SG-14 spent several days there observing a Goa'uld mining operation.  Now, they managed to get in and out without being detected. So can we,” Sam replied with confidence.

“There's still the matter of identifying the Tok'ra operative,” Hammond stated.

“Anise said it was someone important to both of us.”

“Someone we know,” Daniel reminded, nodding his head just slightly to emphasize how that limited the choices.

“At least that's what we're hoping,” Sam spoke.

“We know what the risks are, Sir, and we're ready,” Daniel stated.

Daniel's and Sam's readiness had been obvious to everyone from the moment they'd stepped into the briefing room and headed towards the star map to make their pitch to the major general.  Both were dressed in their black, covert BDUs.  Sam had her P-90 affixed to her chest, and Daniel had his Beretta at his side.  They'd already anticipated a 'go'; in fact, they were demanding it in the subtlest but most visible way possible.

“I can see that,” Hammond spoke a bit emotionally as he faced Daniel.  His flagship team was unusually dedicated.  Even if he said 'no', he knew that, somehow, the two teammates would find their way to that Tok'ra ship.  “You have a go.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Sam replied as she began to walk away.  She stopped and turned back around to face Hammond.  “Tell them to hang on, Sir.  We'll get there.”

====

Standing in the gate room, Daniel and Sam waited for the kawoosh of the Stargate to explode in front of them.  The archaeologist looked up, seeing Paul Davis looking down at him.  The major nodded encouragingly.

Daniel acknowledged the nod with a slight bob of his head and then faced the Stargate, thinking, ~Jack would've gotten jealous eventually, if we'd had that lunch.  He always does.  The glider: I knew it was trouble.  I just didn't understand why, but I do now.  Okay, Jack, I'm doing the best I can to stay away from Paul.  No transfers to Russia or somewhere he wouldn't like, okay?  See, I'm going with Sam, and we're ... oh,  yeah, sometimes we're both jealous of her, aren't we?~

“Daniel?” Sam asked, looking back at the archaeologist, who hadn't moved, even though the wormhole was now established.

“Sorry, I was just thinking,” Daniel said as he walked up to Sam, by her, and through the Stargate.

Once through, seeing it was clear and no one was around, Sam inquired, “What were you thinking about?”

“Um, well, you know Jack can be a little jeal...jealous, sometimes.”

“Oh, please.  He's not going to have a reaction to us being together on this mission?”

“No.”  Daniel looked back at the Stargate and thought, ~But I'd like to make sure he doesn't get anyone transferred when they don't deserve to be, either.~

“The mine is that direction,” Sam stated.  “It's going to take us a few hours to get there, and we need to stay out of sight.”

“Copy that,” Daniel said as the two moved out, looking out for the Goa'uld as they made their way across the planet.

====

Once the Stargate shut down, Hammond sent a message to Jack and Teal'c, saying, “Digger One, this is Hammond.  Doctor Jackson and Major Carter are procuring a craft fast enough to rescue you, but you're going to have to hang on for another twenty-four hours.  I know that sounds like a long time, and I know you want to do something to get yourselves out of this, but the best thing you can do is conserve your energy.  Hammond out at 2100.”

“Twenty-four hours,” Jack echoed mournfully.  ~That's a long time in our situation, Danny.~

“Our current power and life support will not last twelve hours,” Teal'c replied.

“Let me do the math,” Jack spoke, looking out into space.  ~Okay, Danny.  I hope your Plan C works because we just don't have any options here, and you know what it takes for me to say that.  Stay safe, Angel.~

====

Having finally taken a dinner break, a weary Paul Davis dropped by the general's office and inquired, “Sir, will you be leaving the base?”

“Major, you're a good officer, and I'm glad you're here to assist us with our efforts, but you have a lot to learn about our family.  No one is leaving until this is over, *especially* me,” Hammond answered.

“Yes, Sir,” Davis acknowledged.  “If they've avoided capture, we should be hearing from Major Carter and Doctor Jackson within the next couple of hours.”

“Keep me apprised,” Hammond requested as he returned to his work.

====

Under the night sky of the planet, Daniel and Sam watched the Goa'uld from the distance, trying to decide how best to try and find the Tok'ra operative.  All of a sudden, they heard a noise behind them and looked back, afraid they'd been discovered.  Then there was a light, and the two found themselves aboard a Goa'uld ship.

Not sure who had 'abducted' them, the teammates sat up.  Facing the cargo bay door and hearing it about to open, Sam got into a ready position on one knee, her weapon pointed and ready to fire.  Both were relieved when the door open, revealing Jacob's presence.  As the angry man lambasted the two for interrupting his mission, Sam and Daniel stood up, listening to Jacob's fury.

Jacob's ire was great since he'd been just minutes away from detonating a weapon's grade shipment of naquadah that would have blown up a good part of the planet.  He was also upset because in order to beam them up, he'd had to deactivate the cloaking device, which meant they were now visible to the Goa'uld.

The Tok'ra's anger dissipated, however, when the teammates explained why they'd come.

“Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c need your help,” Sam told her father.

“What happened?” Jacob asked.

“They're stranded in a disabled glider headed into deep space,” Daniel answered.

“This was the only ship within range,” Sam added.

“Good enough,” Jacob spoke without hesitation.  “Let's go.”

~He's helping?  He's going to help.  I hoped, but I didn't really believe it would happen,~ Daniel thought as he exchanged a look with Sam before following Jacob to the front of the scout ship.

The scout ship, also known as a teltac, was a mid-sized Goa'uld cargo vessel, the interior of which could be partially modified, depending upon the need.  Typically, the ship was divided into two main parts: the cockpit, or flight deck, at the front and the cargo bay at the rear of the ship.  The two sections were divided by a bulkhead.

This particular teltac included a stealth device, allowing it to become cloaked, or invisible to others.  There was a bathroom and a few escape pods as well.  There were no sleeping quarters, just hard, metallic bunks that pushed out from the walls at selected locations.

====

Later, Davis informed Hammond that Daniel and Sam had successfully made contact with the scout ship, which had been designated Digger Two and that, based on his calculations, Jack and Teal'c would be dead by the time the scout ship reached them.

“They'll find a way, Major.”

“I hope so, Sir, but my calculations are ...”

“Numbers,” Hammond said.  “SG-1 doesn't know the limitations of numbers, Major,” he added, turning and walking away.

Hoping the major general was right, Davis nodded and returned to his position at the console.  Having read all of SG-1's reports and knowing their history, he knew they were capable of some miraculous things and prayed things would once again turn out all right in the end.

====

~Danny, I'm sorry.  There's no time, and it's cold.  Forgive me, Angel, but there's no miracles out there for us this time.~  Jack sighed and decided it was time to admit defeat.  It had been several hours, and the clock was running out.  “Whatta say we turn up the heat?”

“We must conserve as much power as possible,” Teal'c responded.

“By the way, I've done the math.”

“As have I.”

“So what do you say we turn up the heat?  It's cold in here,” Jack reiterated.  ~If we're going to die, it doesn't have to be worse than it's going to be.~

“I am aware.”

“You know, I've already done that ... freezing to death thing, and it's just not as enjoyable as it sounds, so, if we just consider there's no chance ...”

“There is a chance, O'Neill,” the Jaffa stated.

“Twenty-four minus twelve,” Jack reminded skeptically.

“If I place myself in an extremely deep state of kelno'reem, my heart rate will decrease, and our oxygen requirement will be lowered considerably.”

“Who will I talk to?” Jack asked in a somewhat childlike manner.

“There is little to say, O'Neill,” Teal'c spoke.  With all seriousness, he added, “We have fought and won many battles together.  It has been an honor to serve the Tau'ri by your side.  We are brothers.”

“Wow, that's uh ...” Jack paused.  ~Crap, I hate this.  Who thought a Jaffa would get emotional.  I'm not good at this.  I just wanted to heat the place up and maybe run through some 'Simpsons' dialogue.~

“Is there anything you wish to say, O'Neill?”

“What could I possibly say after that?  Backatcha!”

“If we are to die, we die well,” Teal'c stated and then leaned his head back against his seat, promptly going into his meditative state.

Jack looked out the window, feeling very alone.

“We could do better,” the colonel opined.  ~I could do better.  How am I gonna tell Danny that I just gave up on him, on us?  How will I explain that?~  He let out a disbelieving chuckle and said, “You won't make it in time, Danny.  I *have* done the math.  It's impossible.”

The lonely man sat back in his rear seat and began to reflect on his life.

====

Aboard the Tok'ra vessel, the ship began to vibrate, a result of them traveling at a higher rate of maximum speed than was safe.  Daniel was grateful for Jacob's aggressiveness, even if it was a bit disconcerting to feel the ship shaking.

After a bit of a debate over the usual lack of information sharing between the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra regarding the recall devices and the X-301, Jacob inquired, “So, how do you intend to get 'em out the glider once we get there?  I mean, there's no chance it'll fit into the cargo bay.”

From his spot standing between Jacob and Sam, who was sitting in the co-pilot's seat, Daniel looked down and answered, “Well, we were kinda hopin' that you could ... um, like ... beam them out, or ...”

“Beam them out?” Jacob laughed loudly.  “What am I, Scotty?”

“I have an idea, Dad, but Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c are gonna have to take a leap of faith.”

“I'm game.”

“You're in here,” Daniel responded.

“I have faith in my daughter,” Jacob asserted.  “What's your idea?”

“Well, we'll have them blow the canopy of the glider and drift into space.  Dad, you'll need to ring them aboard with the transporter,” Sam spoke.

“That's risky, Sam,” Jacob pointed out.

“They'll die if we don't try, Dad.”

Hearing the vibration get a little louder, Jacob glanced back toward the rear of the vessel where the engine was and spoke, “We have to get there first.”

====

“How much longer?” Daniel asked anxiously.

“We're going as fast as we can, Daniel,” Jacob answered, adding a concerned, “Faster even.”

“I know that, but they're ... running out of time.”

“Two-and-a-half, maybe three hours,” Jacob reported.

Daniel sighed and stood up straight.  He began to pace the small area between the pilot and co-pilot seats.  He felt so lost.  He glanced at his watch, realizing that his lover's life was ebbing away.  He took a breath and wondered if Jack had just taken a breath, too, or were they already too late.

~Too late?  Oh, gawd, that was it.  I remember now,~ Daniel thought, closing his eyes and leaning back against the wall as he now realized when it was that he'd last had such a sense of foreboding.  ~No, Jack.  This won't be like that.  We're coming as fast as we can.~ He looked over towards where the engines were, having just felt the vibration increase.  ~Of course, we may just break apart first.~

====

As the noise from the engines began to get louder and more grating, Sam questioned, “What's wrong?”

“Nothing's wrong, not yet,” the Tok'ra answered.

“But there will be something wrong?” Daniel asked.  ~Please, no.  We can't lose time.~

“Well, let's just say I'd like to stop for a second and make some repairs, but this isn't a particularly safe part of town to pull over,” Jacob responded.

“Oh,” Daniel let out with an unhappy sigh.

“And, what were you thinking, anyway -- retrofitting a death glider?” Jacob challenged.

Daniel drowned out the slight argument that commenced between Jacob and Sam over the arrogance of the Tau'ri to use technology the Tok'ra didn't think they were ready for.  He was beginning to get lost in thoughts of his lover, but then he heard something about Jacob calling the Tau'ri very young, and that was something he noticed only because the Nox had told both he and Jack that during their first year of exploration through the Stargate.

Now that he was pulled out of his thoughts, Daniel joined in the fray by pointing out that both the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra had gotten where they were by stealing the technology from other races.

While Jacob confirmed the archaeologist's assertion, he argued that the Tok'ra had been “flying around in ships like this when most of the people on Earth still thought it was flat.”

Just then, there was an explosion, the engine drives having given out.

~This can't get any worse,~ Daniel thought.  Only just a minute later, he looked out the front of the scout ship and realized he was wrong.  “Excuse me?  Is that what I think it is?” he said, seeing two Goa'uld mother ships nearby.

With the drives offline and needing a few minutes to complete repairs, Jacob had no choice.  Since Daniel spoke the Goa'uld dialect, he left him in the cockpit, instructing him how to use the communication system to reply to the ship, if contacted, which he suspected they would be momentarily.

~Oh, gawd,~ Daniel thought as he watched Jacob and Sam run out of the piloting area to work on the engines.  He sat down and lamented, ~Who am I going to say we are?  Jack?  What would you say?~

Just a minute later, Daniel's fears came to light, and a Goa'uld inquired who was aboard the scout ship.

~Jack?  Well, okay, I guess,~ the linguist sighed inwardly as he raised his eyebrows with what had just popped into his brain.  Speaking as strongly as he could, he answered, “Mak tal shree!  Lok tak.  Mekta satak Oz!”  When the Goa'uld questioned the identification, he retaliated with a indignant sounding, “Mok tal Oz kree!”

The decree wasn't easily accepted by the Goa'uld, and Daniel was relieved when Jacob returned, sprinting over to the pilot's seat.

“All right, we're almost finished.  Sam's just finishing up.”

“Uh, that's good 'cause I don't think they bought my act,” Daniel responded as he stood up, freeing the pilot's chair for the Tok'ra.

“Why?  Who'd you say you were?” Jacob questioned as he sat back down.

“The uh ... Great and Powerful Oz,” Daniel answered.

~Oh, brother,~ Jacob bemoaned, closing his eyes.  He called out urgently, “Sam!”

A few seconds later, the engine drives were back online, and the scout ship successfully made its way to where the hybrid spacecraft was drifting in space.

Daniel - Present Time

Are you still alive, Jack?  Are you breathing?  We're here.  Feel me, Babe.  I need you to be alive.  I can see you.  I'm right here.  Sam is yelling at you, and Jacob is going to nudge the glider.  I hate that thing, but I want you to be alive.  I *need* you to be alive.  Move, Jack -- please.  You're talking now, but you're not hearing Sam.  You're not hearing me, either.  Anoxia: oxygen deprivation is what Sam says it is. Good, Teal'c is awake now.  We're going to get you home.  Sam is explaining how.  Listen to her, Jack.  Listen very carefully.

Oh, geez, Jack.  Forget about whose ship is bigger.

“Colonel, we need you to concentrate,” Sam urged forcefully as she looked out the teltac's window into the glider.

**Jack, for crying out loud, *listen to Sam*!** Daniel ordered via their special non-verbal communication.  ~I hope it works out here.~  **Jack, did you hear me?**

**Space Monkey?**

~Gawd,~ Daniel responded to the use of the nickname, but nevertheless pleased that their link was working through the vacuum of space.  Taking a breath, he encouraged strongly, **Do what Sam says.  *Now*!**

“Blow the canopy,” Jack stated aloud, focusing as much as he could on what the major was saying after having been ordered to do so by his lover.

“On my mark, not before,” Sam reminded.

“Right!” Jack stated.  **Danny, is that you?  Geez, I've missed you.**

Daniel sighed, realizing his soulmate had just regressed.  He could feel Jack's lack of strength, a result of more than a full day in space and a lack of oxygen.

**Babe, listen to Sam's instructions.  She's talking.  I need you to hear her.**

**Prattling, Danny.  I hear prattling,** Jack replied.

~Okay, run through it for him.  What did Sam say?  Okay, okay.  Focus, Jackson.  He's only listening to you so make sure you get it right,~ Daniel urged himself.  **Unhook your restraints, Jack, and make sure your helmet is secure.  Set your oxygen at one-hundred percent.  Got that?**

**Helmet.  Oxygen at one-hundred,** Jack responded.  **You're beautiful, Angel.**

**And you're so sexy I can't stand it, but pay attention.  Did you release your restraints?**

**Restraints?  Ah, yeah.**

**Good.  You need to pre-breathe the last of your oxygen in deep breaths, holding each one in.**  Daniel paused.  **We don't have a lot of time here, Jack.  Tell me.**

**Love you.**

**Not that.**

**But I do.**

**And I love you.  Do what I'm asking you to do, and you can tell me face-to-face soon.  The pre-breaths ...**

**Deep breaths.  Hold it in,** Jack repeated correctly.

**Okay, then you need to power the system before you blow the canopy.  Um, maybe Teal'c does that, but just make sure it gets done.  Then remove the umbilical and exhale as much as possible.  Jack, they're in position now.  You need to push off.  You have to be clear of the glider and at least five meters from the scout ship, and you need to be as close to Teal'c as possible.**

**Wanna be close to you, Danny.**

**Soon.  Are you?** Daniel questioned.  **Please stay focused, Jack.**

**Ready.**

**Jack, I love you with all my heart.  You have to do this just right, or I'll die.  Our pact: remember our pact, My Love.  Concentrate.**

**Helmet secure.  Oxygen max.  Deep breaths.  Power system.  Disconnect.  Exhale.  Kiss you.**

Daniel smiled inside as he acknowledged, **Yes, Jack.  Kiss me.**

“We're in position,” Jacob announced.  Looking at the archaeologist, he instructed, “Stand by in the hold.”

“Colonel, Teal'c, are you ready?” Sam asked.

**Jack, I'm in the cargo bay.  I'm waiting for you.  Are you ready?** Daniel asked just a moment after Sam asked her question.

“Ready!” Jack responded to both Sam and his lover.

**Three ... two ... one ... now, Jack.  Do it now!** Daniel ordered, communicating the countdown in synch with Sam's spoken words.

After Sam had counted down, the plan was put into place, and the canopy of the glider was blown.

~Floating.  Hey, I'm floating,~ Jack thought, his eyes closed as his body began to move up into space.  ~I think I'm dying, too.  No air.~  **Angel, lov...**

**Hang on, Jack.  Just another second or two.**

The few seconds required for the ring transporters to activate seemed like an eternity.  Daniel held his breath, his eyes focused at the center of the cargo bay, willing the crazy plan to succeed and anxiously waiting for the sound of the rings as they worked their magic.

Finally, the rings appeared and fell to their enclosure.  The archaeologist stared straight ahead and let out a relieved breath, seeing that Jack and Teal'c were there.  He moved forward, briefly glancing down at Teal'c, who was moving and obviously breathing.

Daniel hurried to his lover and kneeled down, quickly removing Jack's mask and feeling happy for the first time in over a day when he saw his soulmate open his eyes and take a big breath.

“They're all right!” Daniel called out excitedly.

As Jacob stood and headed back to check on the new passengers, Sam happily dispatched a message to the SGC, reporting, “Flight, this is Digger Two.  We have Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c aboard.  They're both alive.”

The major walked back to the cargo bay, stopping by Teal'c, who was standing and giving his thanks to Jacob.

Looking down at Jack, Sam greeted, “Welcome aboard!”

Daniel had looked back at Sam, Teal'c, and Jacob for a moment, but then he refocused on his lover, who had just pulled off his helmet.

“Hi,” a still weakened Jack whispered as he reached out for his lover.  “Hey,” he said again, his voice barely audible.  **Geez, I love you.**  Just then, Jacob knelt down, temporarily distracting the colonel from his loving declaration to his archaeologist.  “Jacob.  Thanks for stopping by.”

“What the heck?  I was in the neighborhood.  Ya need a lift home?”

His voice stronger now, Jack answered, “Yes, Sir.  Thank you.”  As Jacob headed back for the flight deck, Jack smiled over at his beautiful soulmate and restated his emotional declaration.  **I love you, Danny.**  He reached out, enjoying the touch of the younger man's hand as Daniel helped him up.  It was the only physical comfort either man could allow at the moment.  For a second, they just stood there, staring into each other's eyes, their hands still joined.  ~Now, this is good.~

“Teal'c, you sure you're okay?” Sam asked, wanting to distract the Jaffa from the prolonged gaze of their teammates.

Reluctantly, Daniel let go of his lover's hand, but the loss of contact made him shiver, something Jack immediately noticed.

“Teal'c, why don't you make sure Jacob doesn't detour us anywhere.  I wanna get home as soon as possible.”

“As you wish, O'Neill,” Teal'c responded, turning and heading into the flight deck.

“Carter ...”

“I'll do my best, Sir,” Sam answered, glancing at Daniel before turning and following the Jaffa out of the cargo bay.  She knew the lovers needed time together.  ~This ship isn't that big, and I'm not sure it's soundproof, either.~

“Jack ...”

Jack raised his hands to his lips and then reached out to take Daniel's hand.  With a smile, he tugged lightly, pulling his lover with him to a corner of the bay that was definitely out of sight of any onlookers.

“I'm here, Danny,” Jack said before kissing his lover.

Daniel crumbled into the older man's arms, needing to be held and reassured.  He'd been so strong over the last two days, and he'd been on a roller coaster of emotions.  He wasn't even sure what was real, except for Jack.  He knew Jack was the most real thing in the universe.

“It's been a long couple of days,” Daniel finally whispered as he felt the protection of his lover's arms around him.

Jack pulled back to look into his Love's eyes as he declared, “The longest, but we survived another one.  Geez, you're beautiful.”  He kissed the younger man and heard the soft moan that escaped from his throat.  “I love that you do that for me, just for me.”

“Plan C worked,” Daniel said with a smile.

“You know you saved me,” Jack stated.

“It was a joint effort,” the younger man claimed.

“Angel, Carter's voice was like a roaring river to me.  I heard ... rapids; nothing made sense.  If you hadn't told me what to do, I'd be dead.”

Suddenly, Daniel noticed a hesitation in his lover, a look in his eyes that was a little disturbing.

“What?”

“I need to tell you something, Danny, and I think you're going to be a little unhappy with me.”

“You're alive,” Daniel replied.  “I don't know how I could be unhappy with you.”

Jack chuckled, “Once the relief wears off, you'll find a way.”  After indulging in one more reassuring kiss with his lover, he suggested, “Why don't we go talk with the troops for a few minutes and then find a nice, quiet spot to talk.  It's gonna take hours to get home, right?”

“Right,” Daniel confirmed.

====

While the people aboard the scout ship caught up a bit, back at the SGC a welcome message had just been received.

“Yes!” Paul Davis exclaimed, pumping his fists into the air as he shouted joyfully towards the microphone.

Hammond let out a huge grin and extended out his hand out to shake the major's. The exhilaration was high as other personnel cheered and tossed papers into the air from their relief.

Sliding his chair back into place, Davis clicked on the microphone and communicated happily, “Well done, Digger Two, well done!  Congratulations!  Now come on home!”

Davis pulled back his chair and looked up at the general, still reeling from the good news.

Hammond smiled, placed a hand on Davis' shoulder, and spoke, “Major, that's SG-1.  They always find a way.”

Davis smiled as he nodded and acknowledged, “Yes, Sir.”

====

“... Now come on home!” Davis' message concluded.

“Daniel,” Jack called out.  “Was that Major Davis' voice?”

“Yes, it was,” Daniel affirmed.

“He was a big help to us, Sir,” Sam interjected.

“I see.”

“Jack, you do remember that Paul was at Peterson with us for the test flight, don't you?” Daniel inquired as he gave the man a prodding look.

Jack made a face and then answered, “Of course, I do.”  He frowned as he thought, ~All I remember was getting ready to fly the 301.  Oh, wait, yeah, I do remember him introducing us to Vidrine, and ... wait a minute.~  “Hey, is Vidrine still at the SGC?”

“No, Sir, he left not long after the crisis began,” Sam answered.

“That's a way to support the troops,” Jack said snarkily.

“Apparently, he felt there might be something his people could do in Washington,” Sam stated.

“At the Pentagon?” Jack asked incredulously, getting a shrug from the blonde major in response.

“Vidrine?” Jacob asked.  “Don't think I've heard of him.  What's he look like?” he asked his daughter.

“Well,” Sam began.  “Late forties probably.  He's tall, about six-two, African-American; I'd say he weighs about two-twenty-five.  He's pretty good looking; has a mustache.”

With a frown, Jack questioned, “I'm not sure that was a regulation mustache, either.”  Everyone stared at Jack in disbelief that he'd make such a comment.  “Carter, isn't there a rule?”

Sam giggled as she bowed her head, responding, “Yes, Sir.  Air Force Instruction 36-2903 - Dress and Personal Appearance of Air Force Personnel.”  Her smile faded as she hesitated.  “Actually, I'm not sure of the exact code, Sir.”

Jacob laughed, both relieved and amused his daughter couldn't quote the regulations on male grooming, and then stated, “The regulation states that mustaches will not extend downward beyond the lip line of the upper lip or extend sideways beyond a vertical line drawn upward from the corner of the mouth.”

“See!” Jack chimed.  “His was too bushy and too long.  Non-regulation.”

“Are you going to report him, Sir?” Sam asked, almost in hysterics.

Jack stared at the blonde, let out a groan, and then said, “I'm gonna ...” as he pointed in the direction of the ship's version of a restroom, causing everyone to laugh for a second.

“We should have brought spare clothing,” Sam said with a chuckle once Jack was out of sight.

“Maybe I can find something,” Daniel spoke.

“Daniel, these vessels aren't designed as motels,” Jacob interjected.

For a moment, Daniel panicked.  Why would Jacob mention a motel?  Did he know the truth about Jack and himself?  His mouth opened, feeling like he was trapped, air being forced from his body, squishing his insides together to the point of explosion.

“What do you mean, Dad?” Sam asked.

“There's a restroom, and that's it.  No spare clothing; no clean, fluffy sets of towels; no free soap,” Jacob quipped.

“Oh,” Daniel expressed with relief.  “It'll be okay,” he said, turning and walking away.  Even if there was nothing to be found, he needed space.  ~That was too close for me.~

====

“Look what I found,” Jack spoke as he returned from the alien restroom.

“Jack, Tok'ra clothing is not your best style,” Daniel quipped.

“It beats damp clothing that smells,” Jack responded.

“There's that,” Daniel chuckled, mimicking one of his lover's favorite lines.  “Mmmm.”

“What?” the older man questioned.

“Jacob said he didn't think there was any extra clothing on the ship,” Daniel answered.

“Maybe someone was a bad, bad little Tok'ra,” Jack chuckled.  “It was in the corner in a box with some stuff.  Probably just forgot it after their last mission or something.”

“Or something,” Daniel agreed, not really caring and wondering why he'd even brought it up.

“Where's Teal'c?”

“He's on the flight deck, kelno'reeming some more,” Daniel stated.  “I think it had something to do with the odor.”

Jack walked over to the doorway, peering onto the flight deck and noticing that Sam and Jacob were engaged in some sort of animated discussion.  Both were seated, but their voices were raised, and the intensity of their conversation carried through the air.

“What's that about?”

“Tau'ri arrogance, paternal superiority, and Sam challenging Jacob on both,” Daniel answered.

“I'm guessing I don't want to know.”

“Probably not,” Daniel replied.  “I believe the word 'primitive' has been used more than once.”

“I guessed right: I don't want to know,” Jack stated with certainty.  He smiled and walked to his soulmate and then gently pushed him back to the furthest wall. He maneuvered them into a tiny cranny that was in the corner, near the engines and just out of sight of anyone who might peek inside the cargo bay without going deep enough into the room to look around and see who, or what, was in that nook area.  “Danny.”

The lovers leaned their foreheads together, their hands on the other's waist.  It was a symbol of their unity, of the bond that would always make them a couple.  There was a peace that flowed through both men as they felt each other's energy. It was like their souls momentarily jumped into the body of the other, allowing them to feel the essence of the other one, to know the pure pleasure that was brought to them by the simple act of their foreheads touching.

“Hold me, Jack.”

The couple's pose changed, with Jack taking the younger man into his arms for a tender embrace.  They were as close as they could get without undressing and physically allowing their skin to touch.

“I was so scared.”

“Me, too, Danny,” Jack spoke softly as he held his lover to him.  “Everything's okay now.  I'm here.”

“I was afraid you wouldn't be,” Daniel admitted.

“Never leaving you, not ever,” Jack vowed.

The lover's embrace lasted a couple of minutes before their hold on each other lightened.  Then, gently, they sat down in the tiny corner, resting side by side.  It was daring, but Jack took Daniel's hand in his, while they continued to gaze at each other, so happy that they were alive.

“How was your flight?” Jack asked.

Daniel chuckled at the question, but answered, “There's a new Goa'uld on the loose.”

“Who now?”

“The Great and Powerful Oz,” the younger man mused.

“What?”

“We came upon a couple of mother ships, and I was at the controls.”

“You?” Jack questioned.

“The engines were offline, and Jacob and Sam were fixing them,” Daniel explained.  “Anyway, the Goa'uld wanted to know who we were, and I sat there and asked myself who would you say we were.”

Jack laughed, “The Great and Powerful Oz.”  He rested his head against the wall and then looked at his lover while asking, “Wouldn't it be funny if they believed that.”

Daniel nodded and then laughed, “Oh, even better, Jack.  Maybe the Tok'ra picked up the signal and will send in an operative to try and dethrone this new, nasty Goa'uld.”

“Oz: the Great and Powerful System Lord,” Jack laughed and then sighed, facing straight ahead.

“Maybe Anise could go chasing after Oz, and we'd be rid of her forever,” Daniel spoke, his humor subsiding into a serious and somber tone.

“Who would the leather clothing maker sell his Tok'ra outfits to?” Jack teased.

“I can't imagine he'd be out too much money; I mean, she doesn't wear ... much.”

Jack couldn't ignore the now obvious change of inflection by his lover.  The jovial teasing had switched to something more serious, and he needed to find out why.

“Danny?” Jack called out, squeezing the younger man's hand.

“I don't mean what I just said, Jack.  Actually, Anise did help us, but she did it with ... hidden messages, and I'm angry with myself because I didn't pick up on it right away.  Jack, the time she spent telling me in code that Jacob was out there and might be able to help us, could have cost you your life.  We just did get to you in time.  Had she just ... told me, it would have saved us hours.”

Jack turned his body around a bit to more fully face his soulmate and replied, “Danny, are you telling me that you went to the Tok'ra and that Anise covertly gave you information?”

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Jack smiled, saying, “You did good.  You're probably the only one who could have gotten *any* information from her.”

“But I missed it, Jack.  I didn't focus on her words, just on what she wasn't doing, or saying.”

“But you got it eventually, and that was good enough.”

“Actually, Sam got it.”

“Okay, give Carter credit, but you're the one who got Anise to talk, and that's something.  Sometimes I think her outfits are so tight on her body that she can't even think straight.”

“Jack!”

The older man smiled and leaned forward to share a kiss, though it was much too short to really make either one of the lovers feel good.  They needed more contact, but it was simply too risky at the moment.  Still, the one kiss ignited something in Daniel, pulling out all of his fears and anxieties about the X-301 and the test flight-gone-bad.  He leaned forward and connected with his lover's lips, bringing his right hand up to Jack's cheek.

The kiss grew in passion as Daniel tried to jump into the older man's skin, to practically meld with him.  He moaned during the kiss and gasped when it ended.

“Danny, we can't, not here, not right now.”

“I know,” Daniel said, his heavy breathing audible.

Despite knowing they couldn't do much, the archaeologist again moved in closer, his tongue slipping inside Jack's mouth and his body shifting so that he had actually moved up to his knees and was pushing against Jack as the other man leaned against the wall.  His need was so strong, but he had to pull back, looking away and swearing in Abydonian as he did so.

Jack sighed, “Sorry.  Our motor is revved up, and the car has to stop for the red light.” After Daniel glared at him, the colonel cocked his head playfully and said, “Bad analogy.”  More quietly, he promised, “We'll have our time, Angel.”

“Jack,” Daniel said softly, returning his right hand to his lover's cheek and then lowering it a bit to caress the side of his neck.  “I wasn't jealous of the plane.  I figured it out when Sam and I went looking for Jacob.”

“Figured what out?”

“Do you remember that day when everything went crazy: the washer, the oven, your foot?”

“Yeah.”

“You fixed it all and then we went to the cabin.  I had a weird feeling, something that just ... screamed at me that something bad was going to happen soon.”

“Sha're,” Jack acknowledged, clearly remembering that it was right after their days at the cabin that the Abydonian woman, Daniel's wife, had been killed.

“That's the same kind of feeling I've had every time you've talked about the 301,” Daniel revealed.  “Only I didn't understand it.  All I knew was that I hated that glider and that I didn't want you in it.  I thought I was jealous, just like you assumed I was, but I wasn't.  How could I be jealous of you talking about planes when I talk just as excitedly ...”

“More,” Jack interjected, knowing where the younger man was headed in the conversation.

“Okay, more, when I talk about Egypt or artifacts,” Daniel acknowledged.  “It was that foreboding that I was feeling.”

“My psychic,” Jack teased.

“Jack, I'm not a psychic.  It was a ... a ... a ...”

“Gut feeling,” Jack completed, getting a nod from the other man.  “We all get those sometimes.”  He scowled lightly as he asked, “Not even a little bit jealous?”

“Jack, I don't get ...” Daniel paused and then sighed.  “Well, maybe just a little bit.”

The couple shared a laugh and a light kiss, careful not to tempt themselves again.

“I have a confession to make,” Jack spoke.

“What?”

“I heard you.”

“Heard me?”

“Making that hideous lunch date with Davis,” the colonel revealed.

“You did?” Daniel asked, suddenly smiling for a reason he couldn't understand.

“If Apophis hadn't sent Teal'c and me on that joyride into outer space, your little *date* never would have happened.”

Grinning, Daniel couldn't help himself as he once again captured his Heart's lips. He felt Jack's left hand on his waist and then warming the small of his back.  It felt so good and right.  He wanted more; was desperate for more.  Once again, though, he had to stop, mumbling something that sounded to Jack like teltacs *should* be motels.

“Am I going to have to do any ... housecleaning when I get back?” Jack teased.

“Colonel O'Neill, you will *not* transfer anyone, anywhere.  Is that understood?”

“Giving me orders, Doctor Jackson?”

“Yes,” Daniel answered pointedly.

“Okay,” Jack agreed, putting his arm around his lover as the two leaned back against the wall.

After a moment of calm, Daniel confided, “Jack, I'm worried about the Asgard.”

“Thor?”

“They never responded to any of our attempts to contact them; that's unusual.”

“Maybe they're just outside of communication range,” Jack suggested.  “Or maybe they're just busy.  You know how finicky they can be sometimes.”

“Maybe,” Daniel half-heartedly agreed.  He just couldn't conceive of the alien race totally ignoring their hails.  “We still don't know very much about that device they left with us.”

“We'll have Carter send a message to Hammond and ask him to try again,” Jack spoke, feeling the nod of his lover's head against his shoulder.  He wasn't worried about anyone seeing them like this.  He'd held Daniel in this manner many times when their relationship had been on a friendship level.  ~This is safe,~ he reasserted inwardly.

====

“Thor expressed his apologies and assures us that had they been in the galaxy at the time we'd sent the message, they would have responded.  Unfortunately, they were out of contact range for the communication device,” the major general informed over the radio.  “Doctor Fraiser asked me to send along her regards and says she's 'eager' to do your post-mission examinations.  We look forward to your return, SG-1.  Hammond out.”

“I think he misses us,” Jack quipped upon hearing the message conclude.

“At least we know why he didn't answer our messages,” Daniel sighed.

“Indeed,” Teal'c concurred.

“Teal'c, you're alive,” Jack teased, since those had been the Jaffa's first words in the hour that the team and Jacob had been talking on the flight deck.

“As are you, O'Neill.  I am sure Doctor Fraiser will appreciate being advised of the time of your observation.”

“I thought we were brothers,” Jack quipped lightly as Teal'c simply continued to stare at him.  “Tough love?” he quipped, finally clearing his voice at the impassive expression being tossed his way.

“Sam, how about helping me do some enhancements on the weapons?” Jacob requested.

“I thought most scout ships didn't have weapons,” Daniel spoke.

“You're right, but this one does, minimally.  I'm going to have to go back to complete my mission.  They'll be expecting me now, so I'd like to be extra prepared, just in case,” Jacob explained.  “Teal'c,” he stated as he stood up.

With a nod, Teal'c took the pilot's seat, while Sam and Jacob headed into the cargo bay and over towards the area where the engines and makeshift weaponry were located.

Jack and Daniel headed to one of the spots where the bunks were.  They wouldn't be secluded, but it was about as out of the way as they could be from where the others were at the moment.

“I wish we had cards,” Jack opined.

“Oh!” Daniel exclaimed.  He reached into his backpack that he had brought in with him from the flight deck and pulled out an object. Smiling, he tossed it over to his lover, saying, “Catch.”

“You think of everything,” Jack mused, throwing the ball back to his lover.

For a few minutes, the lovers played catch with the small, green tennis ball.  It kept them occupied and let them work off just a little of their excess energy that was being created from the unfulfilled 'need' for each other's bodies.

“Jack, you said I wouldn't be happy with you.  What did you mean by that?” Daniel asked as he caught the ball.

Jack groaned, admitting, “I was hoping you'd forgotten that comment.”

With a smile, Daniel responded, “Yeah, but whatever it is, or was, you'd tell me eventually.”

“Ya think?”

“I think,” Daniel answered, throwing the ball back to the other man.

Sighing as he caught the ball, the colonel motioned to the lower bunk.  Both men walked over and sat down, their shoulders touching at first as they sat next to each other.  Then Jack leaned forward, spinning the ball around over and over again between his two hands.

“Jack?”

“I gave up, Danny.  It had been hours, and the only message we'd gotten was that you and Carter had boarded the ship.  No details; no time estimates; nothing. Hammond had said we needed to hold on for a day, but we only had twelve hours worth of oxygen.”  Jack sighed as he looked at the far wall, which was only a blur to him since he wasn't focusing on anything.  “It was so cold; reminded me of Antarctica, and I didn't want to live through that again.”

Daniel said nothing, but he reached out and lightly caressed his lover's arm for a few seconds.

“I ... asked Teal'c to turn up the heat.”

“Sounds like he refused.”

“That's when he decided to kelno'reem,” the colonel sighed.  He squeezed the ball and said, “I don't know why I gave up; I was just so cold.”

“You were at your limit,” Daniel surmised in a comforting tone.

“No, I wasn't,” Jack refuted, shaking his head.  “I've gone through a lot worst than ice in space.”

“I'm not disagreeing with you, exactly, but we all have things that challenge us more than others do.  Antarctica was more than an unpleasant experience for you, it was an unpleasant time in your life.  There were a lot of ... well, your divorce from Sara ... there were just ... bad things associated with almost freezing to death there.”

“Danny, what are you saying?” Jack asked as he looked at his life partner.

“I know you put a lot of stock in your special training, and I'm glad you have it, but you were stuck in a small glider, with no heat, and dwindling oxygen.  You had virtually no reason to believe you were going to be rescued.  The colder it got, the more you thought about Antarctica, and I just think the negative connotation that place has for you, combined with the actual physical attributes of the spacecraft, meant that you weren't thinking clearly.”

“You're letting me off the hook,” Jack whispered a bit emotionally.

“I'm saying that when we're facing death, depending on the circumstances, things oftentimes seem worse than they are.”

“You don't think that badly about what happened up there?” Jack asked, referring to Antarctica.

“Jack,” Daniel said with a smile.  “Don't you remember?  That's when I found you ...” He paused and then looked around the area, making sure no one had wandered closer than he realized.  “When you were in the infirmary, that's when I found out you were in love with me.  I know you almost died, but that moment changed my life forever.”

“I thought that was when we got back from saving the world the first time,” Jack spoke quietly.

“Babe, that night wouldn't have happened if I didn't know how you felt.  I would have kept lying to myself, hiding what was obvious.  So, no, I don't think badly about Antarctica.  Without it, I'm not sure we'd be here right now.”

“You're an amazing man, Daniel,” Jack opined sincerely.

“You can make it up to me.”

“You're gonna make me sweat, aren't you?” Jack asked, seeing himself as the younger man's slave for who knew how long.

“You can count on it, Jack.  Sweat: lots and lots of sweat,” Daniel affirmed, his voice lower and huskier than before.

“Watch those eyes, Daniel,” Jack warned.  “We so can't do anything here.”

Daniel sighed, “Don't remind me.”

“I have to, or we'd have nothing to hide anymore.  Everyone would know,” Jack responded, getting a nod from his lover.  “Thanks, Danny.  I was feeling like a  heel there, for a while.”

“You're welcome.  Uh, Jack?”

“Hmmm?”

“If you ever give up on me like that again, you'll be very sorry,” Daniel warned, getting up and walking away.

Jack laughed, “Now that's my Danny.”

====

The lovers were home and had finally allowed their bodies to verify the other was alive and healthy in their own way.  In fact, it had been an act repeated three times thus far, each better than the one before.  Now, though, Daniel was resting atop his lover's chest, one finger making little circles around and with Jack's chest hairs.  His left leg was hooked in between his lover's legs, and Jack had his hands caressing the smooth, damp skin of the younger man's back.

“This is the kind of smelly I like to be,” Jack joked.

“Me, too,” Daniel agreed.  After letting out a contented sigh, he asked curiously, “Jack, what did you think about out there?”

“You mean besides you?”

Smiling, the younger man said, “Yeah, besides me.”

After releasing a tiny groan as he reflected back on his mostly unpleasant adventure, Jack sighed, “Mostly you, but Carter mentioned the Oort cloud, so I wondered about it a bit.”

“Yeah, I remember she said that, but, uh, honestly, I don't really know what that is.”

“Whoa?  You mean there's something you don't know?” Jack joked, one hand reaching down a bit to sharply pat his lover's right buttock.

Daniel looked up at his life partner and replied dryly, “Very funny.”

“Cutely clever?” the older man suggested positively with a bit of a smirk in his expression.

“Bravely bold,” Daniel countered, settling back down onto his Love's chest.

“Daringly dramatic,” Jack put forth, his hands moving slowly up and down the other man's back.

“Perturbingly plucky,” the younger man corrected as he playfully twirled a section of his soulmate's chest hairs in his fingers.

“Amazingly adroit,” Jack maintained.  With a grin, he went in for the double kill and added, “Incredibly ingenious.”

“Valiantly vexing,” Daniel insisted without missing a beat, but then quickly adding, “And no extra points for a two-fer.”

“Okay, I give up,” the older man chuckled in amusement.

“Jack!” Daniel chastised, again looking up into his Love's eyes.

“Kidding.  I'll never give up again,” the older man said as the two shared a kiss.

Contentedly, Daniel settled back atop his lover's chest and requested, “Jack, tell me about the Oort cloud.”

Looking up at the ceiling to collect his thoughts, Jack imitated Teal'c and said, “As you wish, DanielJackson.”

“Oh, gawd, and here I thought I was in this bed with my lover, Jack O'Neill, not Teal'c,” Daniel laughed, as did the older man.

Calming down, Jack began, “It's an immensely huge spherical cloud, about three light years long, which surrounds our solar system.  It's not too far, just thirty trillion kilometers or so.”

“Oh, just thirty,” Daniel acknowledged teasingly.

“Oort is where the comets are born.”

Daniel laughed, “Papa Sun and Mama Moon?”

Jack laughed at his lover's joke and continued on, “Seriously, Love, Oort has a lot to do with the birth of comets.”

Hearing the humor in Jack's voice, Daniel replied, “You mean it answers the 'Dad, where do little comets come from' question.”

Still laughing, Jack spoke in a highly amused tone, “Yes, Son, it does.”

“Cut it out ... Dad.  Be serious.”

“You started it.”

“I did nnn...yes, I did,” Daniel acknowledged  “Okay, being serious now.  Tell me.”

“Okay, from the book,” Jack began.  “A Dutch astronomer, Jan H. Oort, inferred the existence of the Oort cloud from the physical evidence of long-period comets entering the planetary system.  He interpreted comet orbital distribution with nineteen precise orbits to study.  It was 1950 or thereabouts when he put it all together to say where comets came from.  We've come a long way since then, but everything we've learned has confirmed Oort's position and even expanded our knowledge.”  He smiled, “So, you like me when I'm serious?”  He waited for an answer.  “Danny?”  Jack looked closer at his lover.  “Oh, for crying out loud, Daniel.”

Suddenly, Daniel laughed, raising his head to kiss his lover.

“Just kidding.  I heard every word.”

“I wish we had downtime tomorrow,” Jack said softly.

“Well, it should be a light day.  No missions, just briefings, reports, research,” Daniel stated.

“And Fraiser wants me in early for all those tests I got out of so we could come home early,” Jack reminded.  “Danny, I'm not gonna wake you up when I leave.  You need your sleep.”

“Maybe we should have stayed and let her do them earlier.”

“I needed this,” Jack sighed contentedly as he warmed his lover's back with his caressing hands.  “She did the basics; now she just wants to make sure my brain still works,” he mused.

“I could go in early with you,” Daniel offered.

“No.  Just be there in time for the morning briefing,” Jack stated, feeling the nod on his chest.  “I love you, Angel.”

“I love you, Jack.”

The lovers stared into each other's eyes, knowing that a fourth bout of lovemaking wasn't too far into the future.  Both men shared similar smiles as they realized they were safe and exactly where they belonged,  home, together, holding the other close.  Life just couldn't get any better than this.

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