Frienenemies

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action, Angst, Drama, H/C, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - February 8-11, 2017
Spoilers:  Shades of Grey, It's Good to be King
Size:  59kb
Written:  January 9-10, February 1-2, April 30, May 1,3,10-11,13, September 5, 2010
Summary:  Jack and Daniel disappear while on a project for J-O Enterprises and end up having to fight for their lives.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  “Transitions: The Next Nine Months”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Navi, Classic, Irina, Tammy!

Frienenemies
by Orrymain

Sitting at the small circular table by the kitchen window which overlooked the backyard, Colonel Samantha Carter-Shanahan sighed as she listened to the ringing on the cell phone.  That's all she'd heard for the last half-hour.  Hearing the patter of tiny feet, she quickly hung up and pasted a smile on her face.

Just then, Police Detective Pete Shanahan followed two Jackson-O'Neill Munchkins, Jonny and Little Danny, as well as his own son, Kevin, inside the kitchen and stood behind them as they approached the table.  Running in behind the group was an excited fourteen-week-old puppy, who quickly took her position in front of Kevin.

~That's a look I don't like,~ the detective acknowledged silently, recognizing the insincere smile on his wife's face.

“Aunt Sam, we built a mud fort; it was *huge*,” ten-year-old Jonny boasted proudly, splaying mud drops everywhere as he flung his hands wide.

“I can tell,” Sam remarked, seeing the muddy faces and hands of the three boys, not to mention her husband's.  “Maybe you'd better wash up and then you can tell me all about it.”

“Okay,” Little Danny agreed as he headed for the bathroom.

“And Gili needs a bath now, too,” Sam called out.

Jonny and Kevin, who was now eight-and-half-years old, followed the child prodigy.  All of a sudden, Kevin stopped and walked back to his mother.

“Mommy, can we have tacos for dinner?  I love tacos.”

“Y...you want tacos?”

Kevin smiled and nodded, reiterating his desires by elaborating, “Big tacos with lots of meat and tomatoes.”

“Sure,” Sam agreed, her eyes watering even as her pasted smiled turned into one of great genuineness and happiness.  “We'll have tacos tonight.”

“Thanks, Mommy,” Kevin said brightly, kissing Sam on the cheek before catching up with the male Munchkins.

“Well, what do you know,” Pete stated in happy amazement as he sat down, watching their son disappear from view.

“Pete, he's never asked for anything like that before.  He sounded ...”

“Just like any other kid his age,” Pete completed.  “That trip to Egypt last year, all the time Jack and Daniel and the kids spent in the pyramids, it reached something inside of him.”  He smiled as he added, “And Gili.”

“He loves that dog,” Sam sighed about the Bernese Mountain dog who had been rescued a few months ago by Bijou and Katie and was now Kevin's near-constant companion.

“Last night, he kissed me sweet dreams,” Sam stated, caressing the cheek that had just received another kiss.  “That's what he said.  'This is a sweet dreams kiss, Mommy.'”

“You didn't tell me.”

“You were already asleep.  We can't let him relapse, Pete.  He's made so much progress.”

“He's doing great, Sam,” Pete paused as he took his wife's hand, “but now I want you to tell me why you had that pasty face when we walked in.”

“Three days, Pete.”  Seeing her husband's questioning face, Sam explained, “No one's heard from Jack and Daniel in three days.”

“They're in the real estate jungle; they're probably exhausted,” the detective joked.

“Pete, they would never not check in, not now.  You know how they are about the brood.  I checked with General Hammond, Sara, Janet, and Cassie.  No one's heard anything.  I even called Karissa.  She told me they were expecting a preliminary report of the front runners yesterday.  They never got it, and ...”

When Sam let out a sigh, Pete prodded, “And what?”

“And Sara said that a couple of days ago she glanced over at a picture of the family, you know, Jack, Daniel, the brood, and the girls, and she got a funny feeling.  She said it's been gnawing at her.”

Rearing his head back a tad mockingly, Pete questioned, “What's that supposed to mean?”

“Pete, she used to be married to the general.  She still gets ... hunches and feelings sometimes when things are off.  You know what I mean.”

“Okay, so ... what are you going to do?”

“I don't want to chance any of the kids hearing, so I'm going to the Mountain to talk to General Landry.  He might be able to do something.”

Pete nodded, smiling as his wife leaned over and kissed him.  She headed for the bedroom to retrieve her purse.

“Hey, Gorgeous,” Pete called out.  “Better get some tomatoes while you're out.  Our son requested lots of those and I think we only have a couple left.”

“Good idea.”

Pete sighed as his smile ebbed.  Sam was right.  Jack and Daniel were big on check ins, no matter where they were in the world, or universe.  Something was definitely wrong.

====

“Ouch!”  Jack blinked as he came to and tried to get his bearings.  He rubbed the back of his neck as he slowly sat up, his faculties still not functioning at full power.  ~What happened?  We were in that realtor's ... we ...~  With alarm, the general looked around the room. “Daniel!”

Lying unconscious on the floor a few feet away from Jack was his husband.  Quickly, Jack moved to his Love's side and began to check for injuries.  Fortunately, he couldn't find anything injurious except for a couple of bruises.  From the aches of his own muscles, he figured that he might have a bruise or two of himself.

~How?  How'd that happen?~  Hearing a noise over by the far door on the right, Jack jerked around, warily looking for an adversary.  He dismissed the sound, since he couldn't see a reason for it.  ~Where the heck are we?~

The room was large and empty.

~A warehouse?  A hangar?  Are we at the airport?  A military base?~ Jack's mind raced as it tried to access what was happening.

Moans escaped from Daniel's body, but he hadn't roused yet.  The general considered trying to force the issue, but he opted to see if Daniel would wake on his own.  After all, there were a lot of questions to be answered.

Jack's memory was fuzzy, and try as he might, he couldn't hone in on exactly what had happened in recent times.  The last thing he recalled was being in a realtor's office where he and Daniel were in the process of closing the deal on some new office space.

Over a year ago, the couple had decided to open up a new office in the eastern portion of the United States.  Megan Williams Awad would be in charge.  For a number of reasons, the actual opening of the office had been delayed, but hopes were high that the satellite office of J-O Enterprises would finally be ready to go by spring of this year, if not before.

The business owners had narrowed down the location of the office to three possibilities.  It was upon visiting the second site, located in Trenton, New Jersey, that things had turned ugly.

//Flashback//
“Do you think we even need to check out the third location?” Daniel asked his husband.

“Why waste the fuel?” Jack returned, referring to the cost it would take to fly their plane, Jo, to the third location.

Jack and Daniel had flown from Colorado Springs to Battle Creek, a town in Michigan that was perhaps best known for its cereal manufacturers.  They'd met with a realtor there and had spent the bulk of a very long day visiting several available sites, some with office space in current buildings and some that were vacant lots where J-O Enterprises could build, should the company decide to go that direction.

However, the couple hadn't been impressed and finally decided to forego Battle Creek and check out the recommendations by another realtor in Trenton.  They'd intended to check in with their brood, but they'd gone out for dinner and had been distracted.  By the time they were free, it was so late that they assumed their children were already asleep.  Since both were quite tipsy when they finally had returned to their hotel, they went straight to bed, wanting to ensure they had plenty of sleep so they'd be alert and okay to fly the next morning.

Once in Trenton, the lovers connected with the real estate agent and spent the day touring locations.  Towards the end of the day, they'd found a building both liked a great deal.  It met just about all of their standards.  Eager to get home, Jack and Daniel had decided this location would do.

“You're right,” Daniel agreed.  “Let's go tell him.”

“We need to call the kids,” Jack reminded.

“Or we could surprise them by being there when they wake up in the morning,” the younger man suggested, a happy smile on his face.

“I love the way you think.”

The business owners entered the realtors' office, which was quite small but smartly and richly decorated.  There were just two rooms, one for the realtor they were dealing with and the other for his partner, so they were told.  A quaintly made up space at the front was for a secretary, who had already gone home for the day.

Nothing was alarming about the realtor's space, though as Jack and Daniel were reviewing the terms of the potential deal, they soon had reason to become alarmed.  Moving swiftly, four men dressed in black barged inside the office and aimed their AK-47s at the surprised couple.

Immediately, Jack and Daniel charged the men.  One of them hit Daniel on the side of his head with the butt of the assault rifle.  As Daniel went down, two of the men fought the Special Ops trained general.  As the fight waged on, the attackers were able to get the best of Jack, thanks mostly to the karate skills of one of the men.

With a nod from the leader, the fourth man pulled out a syringe, injecting the unconscious lovers with a high power drug that would keep Jack and Daniel out for an extended period of time.
//End of Flashback//

~How long have we been out?~ Jack wondered, having absolutely no sense of what day or time it was.  After checking his spouse one more time, he stood up and took a walk around the empty building.  There just two doors, one each on the west and east side.  Both were locked.  Worse, the doors were made of steel.  ~No way to get through these.~

Jack looked up, seeing the windows high up on the second story of the hangar.  The problem was that the stairs that should lead up that second level weren't anywhere to be found.

~No one gets up there.~  There was no apparent way out of the hangar-like building.  ~I'm sure we've been in worse situations, but I have no idea when or where.~

====

Suspicion began to circulate through the brood.  They were used to their parents checking in with them when away from home.  Still, it did happen from time to time that Jack and Daniel weren't able to contact them in a timely manner, so the siblings hadn't expressed too much concern.  Of course, it helped that they were actually in the care of a few different family members and couldn't feed off of one another's doubts.

As often happened, when Jack and Daniel were both away, the brood was divvied up among various caregivers.  They considered it a holiday of sorts.  In fact, in Sam's mind, that's probably what helped to defray their concern.  At the end of the day, the children were all calling each other to see how the others were doing.  By the time their phone visits were done, it was time for bed.

~Their goodnights last longer than The Waltons,~ Sam thought, amused despite her concern.

Jennifer and Jeff were both staying at the house.  Both were busy with college, especially Jeff who was actually working for Archonics Ltd. full time as part of his curriculum.

Sam had the Munchkins, Cassandra had JD, the Ferrettis had the Spitfires, Hammond had Brianna and David, and Sara had Chenoa and Lulu.  

JD had been having a wonderful time with his best friend, Tommaso Luca.  The two were separated in age by just two weeks.  Even though he was enjoying himself, the five-year-old felt odd.

“Cassie,” the youngster spoke quietly.  He'd come downstairs after his friend had fallen asleep.  ~Not a happy camper.~

“JD, you're supposed to be in bed,” the young woman responded as she put the top down on her laptop to give the boy her full attention.  Twisting around on the sofa where she'd been working, she patted the spot next to her and asked, “Did you have a bad dream?”

“Na-huh,” the boy responded as he climbed up and settled in against the trusted adult.  “Dad and Daddy are in trouble.”

The perky redhead stiffened, fear lancing through her heart as she questioned, “Trouble?  What makes you say that?”

The boy shrugged and answered, “Don't know; just know.”

“Okay, well, tell me everything you're feeling,” Cassandra requested.  ~Please let my uncles be all right.~

====

Once her husband had returned from a late business meeting, Cassandra walked over to the Shanahans.  Living next door, divided by a small stable, was very convenient.

“Cass,” Sam greeted with a smile, opening the door a little wider.

“Ah ... the Munchkins?”

“Asleep,” Sam answered.  “Is something wrong?” the blonde asked as she welcomed the woman she thought of as a daughter inside her home.

“Sam, JD says something is wrong with Uncle Jack and Uncle Daniel,” Cassandra replied, trying to keep her anxiety out of her voice.

“Wrong?”

Nodding as she walked into the living room, reflexively looking around for signs of spying children, Cassandra elaborated, “He senses it.  He told me that yesterday he felt his heart sink and that it was still way down in his feet.  Sam, isn't that what he told you when Uncle Jack was paralyzed in that accident a couple of years ago?”

Sam let out a sigh as she affirmed, “Pretty much.  Did he say anything else?”

“He said it was like they were in a dark box, but that's all he could tell me.”

“What did you tell him?”

“That they were okay and would be home soon,” Cassandra returned.  “Sam, you're not surprised.  What's going on?”  Suddenly, she remembered Sam's phone call to her earlier that day.  With urgency, she surmised, “That's why you asked me this morning if I'd heard from Uncle Jack or Uncle Daniel.  Sam ...”

“Cassie, no one's heard from them in three days,” Sam revealed.  “All we know at this point is that their aircraft is at the airport in Trenton.  Where they went from there, no one knows.”

“What about their phones?”

“Rolling over to voice mail,” Sam responded, after which she let Cassandra in on all she knew.

“What about the hospitals?” Cassandra queried.  “Maybe they were in an accident.”

Shaking her head, Sam negated, “Checked: nothing.”

“So what do we do to find them?”

“The Air Force is on it.  The general and Daniel are considered high priorities because of their knowledge, so even though they're retired, they're pulling out all the stops.”

Running her hand through her long hair, Cassandra sighed, “What does that mean?”

Putting her arm around the younger woman, Sam assured, “It means we're going to find them.  Teal'c and Jeff Cornell are leading the search teams.  I'd go, and so would Lou Ferretti except ...”

“The brood would definitely know something was wrong,” Cassandra concluded, well aware of how bright the Jackson-O'Neill kids were.

“Yeah.  I think the general would prefer us to make sure the kids are as unaware as possible.  Uh, maybe we shouldn't have that play date tomorrow,” Sam suggested.

The kids didn't know about it, but there had been a tentative plan to get most of the brood together for a picnic lunch at the park.

“I agree.”

“It's just if they're all together ...”

“They'll start asking questions,” Cassandra agreed.

“About JD ...” Sam began.

“He's worried and I think he's scared, but he's covering it up.  I don't think he wants to worry his brothers and sisters.”  Cassandra let out a groan and then said, “I'd better get home.  Let me know if you hear anything.”

“Of course.”

The two women hugged and then each continued to worry in the silence of their own hearts and homes.

====

“J'ck?” the archaeologist called out as he came to.  It was a familiar call whenever Daniel awakened from a situation like this one.  He looked up into his lover's eyes and realized his head was in the older man's lap.  “Uh, where are we?”

“No friggin' clue,” Jack answered as his right hand ran gently across his Heart's forehead.  He was happy his husband was alert and responsive, all healthy signs that he was okay.  ~Love it when he calls for me like that.~

“That helps,” Daniel replied, sitting up and looking around.  “An airport hangar?”

“Looks like it,” the general grumbled from his new spot beside his husband.  He glared at the far wall, hoping answers would pop up.  ~We're supposed to be out of this business.~

“I don't suppose those doors are unlocked?”

“Nope,” Jack responded sharply.

“Any way out?” Daniel asked hopefully, knowing it was futile.  ~Or we'd already be out the door.~

“Do you happen to have a chain saw or P-90 on you?”

“Uh, no.”

Jack nodded, his expression answering Daniel's question.  It didn't take much longer to bring Daniel up to speed on the situation.  They were trapped inside this large facility with no apparent way out.  Neither did they have anything on them, except for their clothes.

“I gotta tell ya, Daniel, right about now I miss the days when we carried those knives in our boots,” Jack sighed, a hand unconsciously ghosting over the spot where said knives would be hidden.

“They came in handy every now and then.  Uh, I hate to mention this, but ...”

“No food, no water, no motor cars,” Jack droned.

Daniel checked his pockets and dejectedly added, “No power bars, either.”

“We're on our fuel, Danny.”

Jack was on alert.  The situation was dire, and he had no clue who was responsible for the current situation.

As for Daniel, he could sense Jack's concern.  He shared it as well, but he also knew that stewing about it wouldn't help.  This was going to be a waiting game.  He was just happy that they'd eaten a huge dinner the night before.  Food wasn't going to be a problem.  The lack of water, however, was the one thing Daniel fretted about, especially the longer that time passed.

====

The lovers had chosen to sit together against one of the long walls where they could see both the west and east doors easily.  Their knees were drawn up a bit as they kept watch.

“I've had more fun in Pentagon briefings,” Jack snarked.

“I don't think we're supposed to be having fun.”

“I like having fun.”

“Me, too,” Daniel agreed.  “So, what do you think?”

“I'd rather not think.”

Daniel let out a tiny chortle and then elaborated, “Is this military related?  Goa'uld?  Random?”

“Random?” Jack echoed, a sarcastic laugh following his mock query.  “It's not random.  Probably some idiot from my past.”

“Could be my past,” Daniel suggested.  ~You never know these days.~

“Yeah, of course,” Jack agreed mockingly.  “Some professor wants revenge for you digging a hole faster than he can.”

Daniel leaned his head back against the wall.  He had his answer now.  Jack was scared.  As an emotion, scared was actually a healthy thing, something the general would readily admit to.  It often saved lives.  However, when those scared moments occurred, Jack often resorted to his old habits, ingrained in him from years of soldiering; hence, his snarkiness about archaeology, which was actually his current occupation.

~Ants in a big box: that's what we are,~ Daniel thought, realizing they were very probably going to be stepped on.  “Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

The simple expression of love coaxed the general back to a gentler place.  He smiled and kissed his soulmate.

“I didn't mean to sound so snarky,” Jack apologized.

“We'll get out of this,” Daniel asserted confidently.  “We always manage to.”

“Wouldn't want to destroy our record at this late date,” Jack retorted.

“Uh, no, sure don't want to do that.”

The lovers naturally gravitated towards each other, until their shoulders were touching.  It was something they'd done hundreds of times while SG-1 had been an active SGC team.

“Who'll do the laundry if we don't get home to do it?” the silver-haired man questioned lightly.

Daniel laughed out loud, causing his lover to look at him questioningly.

“Jack, Brianna and the brood do most of the laundry now.  You know that,” Daniel put forth.

“Okay, so ...”  Jack paused.  With so many kids in their brood, most of the chores were taken.  “Who'll be around to antagonize Polly?”

Daniel chortled at the reference to Ptolemy, the family's magnificent hyacinth macaw bird.  Jack's verbal sparring with her that kept everyone in stitches; that is, everyone except for Little Danny, who often fumed at his dad for teasing so much about Ptolemy's regal stature.

Time passed in silence until Daniel finally commented, “Shouldn't we be making light of this, playing a game or ... something?”

“Too old for this crap?”

“No, that's not it.”

“The kids.”

“That's it,” Daniel affirmed for their lack of non-consequential banter.  “I've been thinking about Jennifer.  It'll be soon, Jack.”

“No ring.”

“He's too afraid to give it to her,” the younger man opined, referring to Peter Hamilton, the wealthy man to whom Jennifer had given her heart.

“I'm the one who pushed them back together,” Jack argued.

“I know.”

“She'll be a great mother,” Jack sighed.  “We'll be grandparents within a year of their marriage.”

“That's the calmest I've ever heard you say that.”

“She's graduating from college in a couple of months, Danny.  She's a woman now.  Our baby's a woman.”

Jack's anxiety over Jennifer's romance with Peter Hamilton bubbled with that last comment.  He may have promoted Peter, for the good of Jennifer, but Jack still had that 'over my dead body will a man touch my daughter' feeling flowing through his veins.

Daniel reached over and took his husband's hand, squeezing it gently as he replied, “A lot of years have passed, Jack.  You do know she and Peter have waited, just for us.  I mean, uh, he graduated last year.  He's doing grad work to keep himself busy.”

“I know that, too,” Jack acknowledged.  “Where are they going to live?”

“I don't know, but we can't pressure them.  Jen's stayed here for us.  She's given us this time to ... learn how to let go.  When Peter does give her that ring, we have to be there, one-hundred percent there for her.”

“We will be.”

The conversation had been more emotional than either man had anticipated.  Jack couldn't afford that kind of distraction, considering the two were being held captive.

To break the spell, Jack snarked boisterously, “Ash isn't going out until she's thirty.”

Daniel laughed, “She already has about eight boyfriends.”

“She has boys who are friends.  They aren't going to date her,” the older man insisted.

“Right,” Daniel replied dubiously.  “Jack ...”

“I love you, Danny.  We have a heck of a lot more living to do, and I'm dang tired of sitting around here waiting for death to walk in those doors.”

The archaeologist watched his general stand up and stride towards the center of the room.

“Okay, you dirty rats,” Jack blasted as if were James Cagney, “you want a piece of me.  You come get it.”  He turned around and shouted, “Cowards!  What?  You have to do everything in hiding?  No guts?”

Daniel stood, carefully looking around the room for signs of movement.  Maybe there were unseen stairs on the second level.  Someone had to be in the hangar besides him and his husband.

“Be mute!  I'm not playing.  Do you hear that?  Daniel and I aren't playing.”  Jack looked over at his lover and said, “Let's get out of here.”

“Uh, okay, but,” Daniel rubbed his chin thoughtfully, “how?”

Walking briskly by his soulmate, Jack questioned, “Do you *always* have to have the answers?”

With a cock of his head, Daniel turned around and followed Jack towards the door on the right.  All of a sudden, the sound of the door unlocking alerted the couple to sprint to the door, each taking a position on opposite sides.  It was their only chance to escape, to knock out their attackers as they came through.

When two men entered, they were pounced on separately by Jack and Daniel.  Both of the fights were intense and pretty evenly matched.

Having heard the sounds of a disturbance, a third man hurried inside the room and quickly observed that his comrades were involved in fist fights with their captives.

Apparently with orders not to kill Jack and Daniel, the third man used his rifle to hit Daniel on the side of the head.  The blow landed at almost the exact same spot as where he'd been hit him while in the realtor's office.  This time, though, blood began to seep through a gash caused from the second blow.

Jack's heart fell when he saw his Love drop listlessly to the floor.  He laid hard into his attacker, even though his rational mind said it was useless.  Still, he couldn't give up.  Daniel wasn't moving; he needed help.

“*Take cover!*”

Jack heard the warning blare from opposite side of the room.  In an instant, he dropped to the floor, covering his head.  This was standard practice in a combat situation.  He had to trust it, so he'd responded without hesitation.  His eyes focused only on Daniel as he heard the rapid fire of a P-90 fly through the air and make contact with its targets.  Two more men entered the room to help their comrades, returning the attack with rapid fire of their own.

When the firing was done, the kidnappers were all lying on the floor.  Seeing it was clear, Jack hurried to his soulmate, who was conscious, but not saying anything.

“Crap!” Jack exclaimed as he pressed his handkerchief against the gash on his soulmate's head.  “Can you hold it?”

Daniel's head plopped back against the hard floor, his left hand raised to be ear level as he pressed the white cloth close against his wound.  Unfortunately, there wasn't anything for him to rest his head against.  Neither man had any gear with them; not even a jacket.

“Just relax, Danny,” Jack instructed quietly.

“I'm fine, Jack,” Daniel claimed, though he was a bit too pale in the older man's opinion.

“Fine?” the older man questioned pointedly.  ~Fine means he's about to die.~

“It's ... just a ... a ...”

“Word?  Is that what you're trying to say?”

“Yeah, that.”

“Right,” an unconvinced Jack responded.  “Let me make sure these guys are out for the count and then we'll get out of here.”

“Sure.  Time for dinner.”

~He might be awake, but he's so not here right now,~ Jack surmised, intending to get up and follow through on his actions.  ~Okay, new player.  Who's that?~

Jack looked over at the single man several yards away.  He squinted as the man slowly made his way forward.  The stranger was wearing camo BDUs.  His P-90 was still in his hands, ready to fire if necessary.  A stunned look of recognition crossed Jack's face as he stood and stared in complete and utter disbelief.
 
“You look surprised, Jack,” the man chuckled lightly.

“Actually, I thought you were dead; fried, even,” Jack admitted with a far off look.  ~I think I'm hallucinating.  Quick, someone pinch me.~

“Didn't you wonder why no one ever called you to testify against me?”

“I thought I wasn't needed.  We had you dead to rights,” Jack stated warily.  ~Crap, another cliché.~

“I did a long stretch in a cell, but we're on the same side, Jack.”

“Stealing from our allies is being on the same side?” the general questioned skeptically as he looked down at Daniel and noticed the bleeding had lessened greatly, thanks to the handkerchief providing the necessary clotting.  ~And before that, you were just an arrogant Marine pain in the mikta.~

“I admit I made some bad choices.  So did Harry,” the man volleyed, referring to Harry Maybourne, a man who had played both sides of the fence and whom Jack liked in spite of Maybourne's scruples.  As his one time co-worker stood up, he pointed out, “Jack, I just saved your life, and Jackson's.”

“I know,” Jack acknowledged, bowing his head briefly as he considered the situation.  ~Who'd believe it?~ he asked as he did a visual check of his lover and realized Daniel wasn't even aware that someone else was in the large space with them.

The man was none other than Robert Makepeace, one time colonel and team leader of SG-3.  For the first couple of years that Stargate Command existed, he had been a valuable, if annoying, part of the personnel.  Then he'd joined up with the rogue faction of the NID and had been arrested as part of an undercover sting run by General Hammond and Jack.  After the man's arrest, Jack had completed his written report and then Makepeace became a 'never was' and was seldom mentioned by anyone stationed at Cheyenne Mountain.  Most assumed he had been convicted of treason and executed, or at the very least was locked away in some maximum security cell somewhere.

“You don't sound so happy about it.”

“I'm happy,” Jack insisted, keeping one eye on Makepeace as he followed through and made sure the downed men weren't faking it.

“Toast?” Makepeace asked casually.

“They're done,” Jack affirmed as he walked around the last man.  “Just how did you know to be here?”

“Looking for angles, aren't you?  You're thinking I set this up?”

“Hey!  You're the one who is trying to come off like G.I. Joe's dad coming to the rescue.  I just want to know why you're here.”

“Twelve reasons,” Makepeace stated simply, shrugging a little at the same time.

Jack couldn't make sense of the answer, although his mind immediately went to the fact that he and Daniel were parents to a brood of twelve.

“Look, I have sources.  This little plot against you and Jackson has been making its way through the sewer for months,” Makepeace claimed.  “They tried to recruit me. I turned them down and then kept tabs.”

“Who are they?” Jack asked coldly, glancing over at the five dead bodies strewn out across the cold floor.

“I don't know,” the man sighed, looking over towards the door on the right, seemingly sensing enemy activity might be closing in.  “I never saw faces.  I heard a word, though.”

“Yeah?” Jack questioned with an arch of his head.

“Strudel.  Mean anything to you?”

“Pastry,” Jack replied innocently.  ~If that was only what it was.~

“Well, that's all I know.  Like I said, I kept tabs.  I have a thing for kids, and intel says what they had planned for you involved the number twelve.”

“And that's supposed to mean what?” Jack snarled, really not in the mood for word play.

“You figure it out,” Makepeace responded cryptically.  Seeing coldness in the general's eyes, the ex-colonel challenged, “I wasn't behind this.  I saved your hide on my own time.”

“You're a traitor,” Jack returned, though not quite with the conviction of his earlier accusations.

“All I did was steal a few things,” Makepeace contradicted.  “Harry was the one running the show.”  He saw Jack looking over at Daniel again and couldn't help but remark, “You know, Jack, I never thought you were his type.”

The general glared at Makepeace who held out one hand and shook his head.

“Jack, it was just a comment.  I'm just saying I didn't think you were the type.  If it mattered to me, I wouldn't be here saving your sixes.”

Jack was confused and didn't know what to make of Robert Makepeace at the moment. One second he wanted to shoot him and the next, he felt a certain sympathy for the man, who he had to admit had been one heck of a soldier before turning rogue.

“He's a better man than both of us,” Jack put forth.  **Danny, you okay?**

**Head hurts.**

**So, everything's status quo.**

**Apparently.**

Jack wanted to chuckle at his lover's response, but it wasn't a time to be amused. He felt better, though, since Daniel had responded appropriately to his non-verbal inquiry.  Still, he wondered just how 'with it' Daniel really was, considering he hadn't moved from his spot nor had he asked about Makepeace.

“He was an annoying S.O.B., but he did his job, and he took the guff,” Makepeace responded about the archaeologist.  “I give him credit for that.”

~Yeah, yeah, okay.  Enough about my personal life,~ Jack decided.  “About Harry, does he know ...” he questioned, waving his hand towards his rescuer.

“Does he know I'm alive?  Not to my knowledge.  No one does except for ...”

“Here we go,” Jack groaned.  “Another NID incarnation?”

“The President.  After I sat in that cell for a few years, they pulled me out and asked me if I wanted to go back to work for Uncle Sam.  I took them up on it.”

“And I'm supposed to believe you're on the level now.”

“I was a darn good officer, O'Neill,” Makepeace asserted as he stood up for himself.  “I'd only been involved with the shady stuff a few months.  I'm not making excuses.  They recruited me, and I joined up eagerly.  The Goa'uld were gonna slaughter us.”

“Didn't quite turn out that way, did it?” Jack poised snarkily.  ~We kicked their glowing eye butts.~

“No, but it's water under the bridge now,” the other man argued.  “I've paid my debt to the government, and now I'm retiring, just like you did a few years ago.”

“What does that mean exactly -- retiring?”

“The average citizen doesn't know who I am.  The military's forgotten me, except for this little elite force of the President's.”

“Black Ops then.”

“You could say that, but it's all good; it's as 'by the book' as Black Ops can be,” Makepeace put forth.  With a longing and solemn tone, he added, “I'm going home to my family.  It's been hard on them.  They had to relocate, but now it's gonna be all sunshine.”

“Florida?” Jack inquired.

“Miami's a great place to get lost in.”

“I heard that on a TV show once,” Jack commented.

“Maybe that's where I heard it,” Makepeace replied with a smile.  He walked over to Jack with his weapon now turned to his back.  He extended out his hand as he said, “Good luck, Jack.”

Jack stared the man in the eyes and then slowly extended his own hand out.  They shook hands as their eyes remained locked on each other's.

“You can verify everything with Hayes,” Makekpeace put forth with a shrug, knowing his trust with the general was about as far as Jack could throw him.

“He's not the President anymore; for that matter, he wasn't the President when you were locked up.”

“He's the one who took a few of us off the block.  He called it a question of semantics,” Makepeace stated as the handshake ended.

“Treason's a word game?”  Jack cocked his head while thinking, ~Funny what the government turns a blind eye to.  Oh wait, ‘treason’ fits into clue number 39 of this week's crossword puzzle.~

“You aren't gonna give me a break, are ya?”

“Hard to say,” Jack replied curtly.  ~I can't trust him, but I have to give him two points for saving our skins.~

“I've done one ... rogue mission since they let me out,” Makepeace revealed suddenly, a bit of a 'I know something you don't' tone in his words.

The revelation was a surprise to Jack, not that the Marine had done something against the tide, but that he was admitting to it.

“Everything I've told you today is the truth.  My time in Harry's outfit was short, and I never hurt anyone.  I stole; I set things up, but nothing that involved harm to another living being, except for the Goa'uld.”

“You know I have places to be,” Jack snarked as he motioned to the open door behind them.

“One rogue mission, Jack.  I ... heard about some difficulties you were having.  It coincided with some things that Uncle Sam wasn't happy about, either.  He was a thorn in the administration's side.  He wasn't just making your life hell, but he was also about to plant a bad seed about Hayes.  Hayes didn't know anything about it, and it was all lies anyway, with one little kernel of truth.  Mostly just a 'being in the wrong place at the wrong time' type of thing when someone had a camera.”

“What are you talking about, Makepeace?”

“I'm talking about a man who no one misses.  He was a little Goa'uldish for a while.”

Jack stared long and hard at Makepeace, trying to make sense out of what he was hearing.

“You thought it was Harry.  I couldn't exactly let you think it was me, now could I?  To the world, I was a traitor, locked up in prison or already executed.  I knew what he was going to do, Jack.  He didn't care about your kids.  He hated you, you know,” Makepeace stated a bit softly as he thought back.  “He wanted to pay you back.  He wasn't just going to block you and Jackson from adopting them.  What is it you call them -- the Mouseketeers?”

Jack's lips parted slightly, but that was the extent of his reaction, even though he wasn't thrilled with the news that Makepeace knew even that much about the kids. He wondered just how the traitorous Marine knew that Jennifer, David, and Chenoa were referred to as the Mouseketeers.

Makepeace elaborated, “He was gonna get those kids separated and see to it that they lived a miserable existence, and he was going to make sure you knew about it every step of the way.  It wasn't going to be pretty for them.  I'm not lying to you.  I have proof.”  He sighed as he thought back and actually looked away for a second to regroup.  “But that's when I knew I had to act.  He brought kids into it, Jack.  You don't settle a score by hurting kids; I don't care who you are,” he declared resolutely.

Jack was breathing a bit more heavily, surprised and even shocked by the revelation.  He didn't know how to respond; that's how incredible it seemed to him.

“I take it you never mentioned it to Harry.”

“I haven't seen Harry in years; I don't know where he is.”

“That's two of us.  Those kids of yours have grown up nice, haven't they?”

“Yeah,” Jack acknowledged a little weakly, still overwhelmed.  ~I really thought it was Harry.~

“So I made a good choice,” Makepeace pointed out in a leading manner.  “I saved the President and those kids from a monster.”  He smiled ruefully and added, “And now I'm done, and I'm going home.  I'm ready to get a tan on the beach.”

“I hear ya,” Jack returned.

“Goodbye, Jack,” Makepeace stated, backing away a few steps and then turning around and heading for the door.

“Makepeace!” the general called out.  When the man turned around, Jack nodded and said, “Thanks.”

Makepeace smiled, a sense of relief flowing through him.  He'd been an honorable Marine and had made one serious lapse of judgment, but he loved his country and while Jack hadn't ever been a friend per se, they both shared a common belief of doing what was best for the country.  Thus, it was perhaps inexplicable to others but nevertheless important for Makepeace to have some small sense of approval from Jack O'Neill.

With Jack's one word of appreciation, Robert Makepeace had at last what he'd wanted for years.  He'd saved Jack's and Daniel's lives and he'd gotten an acknowledgment, which was all he needed now.

“You'd better get out of here fast.  I count five,” Makepeace observed about the dead.  “Intel says there are eight.  Don't ask.  If I knew specifics, I'd tell you.”  Reaching to his side, he drew out an M-9 pistol and tossed it along with two magazines over to the general.  “It might come in handy.”

With that, the Marine turned around and disappeared into the life of Miami retirement.

~Danny's not gonna believe this,~ Jack sighed, surmising that his husband had been too out of it to have heard the conversation.  Quickly examining the weapon, Jack checked to ensure it was loaded and then tucked it into his pants while putting the magazines into his pocket.  Then he hurried back to his husband.  “Danny, you with me?”

“J'ck?”  Daniel swallowed hard.  “That you?”

“Yeah.  How's your head?” Jack asked, gently touching the blood that had finally clotted over Daniel's temple.  “Still hurt?”

“Uh, it's that ... run over by a truck thing.  I'm, uh, a little ... fuzzy.  I thought I heard ... voices.”

“Concussion.”

“Gawd, not again,” Daniel groaned as his vision sharpened, thanks to Jack having repositioned the scientist's glasses a bit.  “Oh, there you are.”

Jack smiled for a moment, but then advised, “We have to get out of here.”

“Do we even know where 'here' is?” Daniel asked as he tried to sit up.  “Uhhh! Room swaying.”

Jack motioned to the men on the ground and stated, “Makepeace said there might be others.”  At the same time, he took hold of his husband as he tried to make Daniel's world stop spinning.  ~Now's not the time for Danny to be on a merry-go-round.~

Pausing, Daniel blinked before responding, “Makepeace?”

“Yeah.”

“Not dead?”

“Not unless Loki is doing his cloning thing again,” Jack replied, his voice straining as he helped Daniel up.

“Wow, that was ... unexpected.  You sure?”

“Same arrogant voice, a bit grayer.  He's put on a few pounds, but it was him,” Jack insisted.  “Let's go.”

The two men headed for the left exit, the same one that Makepeace had used to leave.  However, before they'd gone even five feet, the door on the right opened wider, the sound of the movement immediately getting Jack's attention.

Operating on his instinctive skills, Jack released his lover and drew out the weapon he'd been given.  Praying the bullets within it were real, he turned and fired, nailing the first of three men who had entered.

“Ah!” the general grunted when he felt a bullet whiz by his upper arm, though he couldn't tell how bad the impact was.

Jack leaped across the cold, barren floor, rolling over three times before settling on his abdomen.  His weapon aimed, he fired rapidly four times.  He saw that he'd hit a second attacker and could see the blood oozing from the man's neck.  A bullet from the third man's gun ricocheted off the floor.

The general scrambled, trying to dodge the swift fire of the shooter.  There was no place to hide.  The room, whatever it was, was huge, and there was nothing inside of it but living and dead human beings.

~Knees, don't let me down.~

Jack had one chance, and that was to get up in a hurry and go straight on.  There wasn't an evasive maneuver that would work, not with the absence of any kind of shield.  There was something else, too.  The shooter was focused on him and not on Daniel.  He knew his archaeologist was in no condition to fend off the attacker.  If the man even turned and fired, Daniel would be an easy target.

~Can't let that happen.~

Rolling to avoid the latest shots from the third man, Jack reversed direction, jumped up, and fired with deadly accuracy.  He charged forward, firing again, and again, and again.  He kept his weapon stretched out in front of him until he reached the fallen man.  His face was unrecognizable, Jack's bullets exploding to the point that there wasn't a face left.

The general checked the other two men, ensuring that they, like the five before them, were actually dead.

“Jack?”

Jack rushed to his husband, kneeling down at his side.

“Are you okay?” Daniel asked just as his lover knelt down by his side.

“Peachy.”  Jack smiled and helped his husband to stand up once again.  “Let's get out of here.”

With Jack's bleeding arm around his waist in support, Daniel inquired, “Did you say Makepeace?”

“The one and only,” the older man confirmed.

Once outside, Jack realized that he and Daniel had indeed been inside an abandoned hangar.

“Any idea where we are?” the archaeologist asked as he looked around and saw nothing but fields.

Glancing at their surroundings, Jack replied, “If I had to guess, I'd say Wisconsin.  Actually, this reminds me of Aero, only they tore that down a decade or more ago.”

“It doesn't exactly look built up, Jack.”

“No phones,” the general expressed with regret.  “We're gonna have to walk for a while.”

“I'm fine,” Daniel promised.  “Besides, you're the one who's bleeding.”

“You forgot about your head.”

“Yeah, well, it's been through worse,” Daniel maintained with a nervous laugh.  “We need to wrap your arm.”

“Danny, we don't have anything but what we have on our backs.  Like your head, my arm's been through worse.  Let's go.”

====

Holding onto the other, each acting as a crutch of some sort, Jack and Daniel, both weakened and getting more dehydrated by the minute, walked through endless fields until they couldn't walk any longer.

“Are you sure we're still on Earth?” Daniel chuckled nervously as the lovers collapsed down into a field.

“It's definitely Wisconsin.”

“You know, Jack, this may be the only time I regret having those locator chips removed,” Daniel sighed, licking his lips and cringing at how dry they were.

“We have to keep going,” Jack urged.  ~At least it's not summertime,~ he thought, not wanting to deal with the problems that excessive heat would have brought on.

Daniel nodded and, drawing from their inner reserves, the lovers continued on their way.

As they walked, Jack told Daniel about his chat with Makepeace and how he'd saved them.

“I don't remember anything after I went down,” Daniel admitted.

“That's a nasty gash you've got, Angel,” Jack pointed out in response.

“Jack, Makepeace shot them all?”

“He was good, Daniel,” Jack answered, referring to the man's military skills more than what had occurred inside the hangar.  “Maybe he did just turn left when he should have continued straight.”

“What are you thinking?”

“Maybourne,” Jack groaned.  Shaking his head, he admitted, “I let him off the hook for everything he's done.  Geez, Danny, we thought it was Harry who killed Kinsey.  Turns out it was Makepeace.”

“Makes more sense.  I know Maybourne's capable of killing, but ...”

“He's capable,” Jack grumbled.

“So what are you saying?” Daniel queried, looking down and cursing in Abydonian when he stepped on a rock and almost fell.

“That they're interchangeable.  They're both miserable,” Jack stated as he steadied his husband.

“But?” the younger man prodded.

“But at the time, they weren't doing it for self-gain.  That came later, for Harry, anyway.”

“I wonder if he's still king of the guangos ,” Daniel mused.

“With his harem of wives.”

“You didn't like that.”

“Hey, more power to him, but Maybourne?” Jack questioned, making a face.  “I just don't see it.”

“You're not the king.”  Daniel laughed at the look of consternation on his husband's face and then soothed, “It's okay, Babe.  You may not be king, but you're my hero.”

Jack grinned, pausing to kiss his husband, though both of them had such dry lips that the kiss caused them to groan a little, and it wasn't a sound of passion.

“We'll ... pick that up later,” Jack suggested, getting a supportive nod from his Love.

====

“No one knows anything, Janet,” Sam sighed as she looked out into her backyard where the children were playing.  “The general and Daniel just disappeared.”

“Someone had to have seen something, Sam,” the redhead suggested strongly.

“We know they were in Trenton, but we can't find anyone who saw them, and there's no paper trail.”

“That doesn't make sense.  What about the realtor?” Janet probed anxiously.

“According to Karissa, the realtor's name was Chuck Reardon, only we can't find anyone anywhere in New Jersey by that name.  There's no office, no real estate license -- nothing.”

“So it was ...”

The ringing phone interrupted the conversation.  Sam reached into her pocket and pulled out her Blackberry.

~Strange number, but it's ...~  Looking at her friend, Sam reported, “I don't recognize the area code.”  Quickly, Sam answered the phone with a simple and cautious, “Hello.”

“Carter, it's us.”

Sam felt herself taking a huge breath of relief, her entire body feeling a calming rush flowing through it.  She instantly reached out to Janet, grabbing her forearm.

“Sir, are you all right?  What about Daniel?” Sam asked in a rush.  ~Boy, am I glad to hear his voice.  Where the heck are they?~

“Long story, but we'll live,” Jack advised.  “Where are the Munchkins?”

“They're outside,” Sam stated, nodding at Janet as she released her grasp.  She walked over to actually block the door to make sure none of the kids walked in at the wrong time and heard something they shouldn't.  “Where are you?”

“Southern Wisconsin, but we're about to get on a plane home.  Uh, we're gonna head to the Mountain first.  Can you call the Doc for us and ...”

“Janet's right here, Sir,” Sam interrupted, nodding to her close friend as she handed the physician the phone.

“General, what's your condition?” Janet inquired in full doctor mode.

“Oh, a nice red vine down my arm and probably a sprained ankle,” Jack answered, referring to the dried blood that felt glued to his arm and his wobbly ankle.

“What about Daniel?”

“Concussion; cuts and bruises,” Jack stated.  “Doc, can you meet us at the Mountain?  We don't really want to walk in the door like this.”

“What's your ETA?”

Sam smiled as she listened.  She'd been fearing the worse, and now her fears had been sent packing.  Her friends were safe, and her family was intact.

====

“Both of you should stay here overnight,” Janet advised her patients that evening.

“Doc,” Jack began, jumping off the table, “it's a minor scratch.”

“I removed a bullet, General,” Janet corrected.

Jack smiled and did something he'd never done at Stargate Command before.  He leaned over and kissed Janet on the cheek.

“Thank that husband of yours for finding us in the middle of nowhere,” the general requested, still smiling at the petite physician.  “If he hadn't acted on that hunch of his, we'd still be walking around in those fields.”

In New Jersey, Teal'c had unearthed only one possible lead.  A witness had reported seeing a plane take off from an abandoned airstrip.  The man was an airport aficionado and often took trips to explore once-active airports.  It had been a fluke that he'd seen the plane at all.  He had been surprised since the runway was half decayed and was as much grass as any paved material.

Being an aviation buff, the man had noted the plane's markings and call letters which had ultimately allowed Teal'c to track down the plane in Wisconsin.  The Jaffa had deduced that if the plane took off from an abandoned airport that it might land at one as well.

The use of precision satellite imagery allowed the Air Force to find the plane.  That led Teal'c and his rescue team to the old hangar where they found eight dead bodies.  While a team worked on the cleanup, Teal'c led a search team for Jack and Daniel.  Fortunately, the two wounded men weren't trying to hide, so they had been relatively easy to track.

“I'll do that,” Janet assured, responding to Jack's request to thank her husband. “Daniel, that's a nasty gash.  I know you won't listen to me and stay here, but please take it easy for a few days, and if you notice any abnormalities at all ...”

“I'll call, Janet,” Daniel interrupted.  “I promise.”

“What are you going to tell the brood?” the physician asked.

Jack and Daniel shared a look and then Daniel responded, “The truth.  Whether they've said it or not, they know something's wrong.”

“We might go a day, two maybe without calling them, but four?  We weren't even supposed to be gone this long,” Jack noted.

“Try to stay off that ankle for a day or two,” Janet told Jack.

Jack looked at his lover and smirked, “Not a problem, Doc.”

As Daniel grinned, Janet rolled her eyes and gave the two a last nod before heading towards her office to complete her paperwork.  Then she'd meet up with Teal'c, and the two would head home.

Heading home is exactly what Jack and Daniel were doing themselves.

====

“JD's the happiest camper of them all,” Sam observed as she and Cassandra watched the brood playing in the game room of the Jackson-O'Neill home.

Sam had made the calls to the Jackson-O'Neill family of friends, and all of the children had been reunited to await their parents return to their home.

“This afternoon, he and Tommaso were building something with some blocks and all of a sudden, JD gasped.  I looked over at him and he had a big grin on his face.  When I asked him why he was he grinning, he told me, 'My heart's not in my feet anymore.  Dad and Daddy will be home soon'.”  Cassandra shrugged in amazement.  “That's what he said, Sam.”

“I'm just glad he's right.”

Just then the front door began to jiggle.  Bijou and Katie barked joyfully, running around the game room and then making a beeline for the entranceway.  Mittens and Calico followed, apparently sensing something had gone on and deciding not to be so finicky on this night.

“Hey!” Jack greeted.

Seizing the moment, the parents welcomed their zoo, and then they saw the happy faces of their brood.

“Uh oh,” Jennifer expressed cautiously, observing the physical signs that her parents had been through some kind of bad experience.  “Brood, whoa!”

Jeff noticed the bandaged around his younger father's head right away and also sought to calm the brood before they accidentally made an injury worse.  Though his older father didn't have any outward sign of wear, he feared Jack might have an injury or two himself.  When he saw Jack wobble a second as he took a couple of steps, he knew his concern was justified.

“It's okay.  Just ... handle with care for a couple of days,” Daniel told the brood  with a little smile.

“Daddy, what happened?” Aislinn asked, her eyes starting to water as she carefully hugged her daddy.

“Princess, I'm okay.  So's Dad,” Daniel hugged back, cupping Aislinn's face in his hands, he gently wiped away her tears.

“Come on, kids.  Have we got a story to tell you,” Jack stated, leading the children into the recreation room where they had more room to spread out and be comfortable.

====

“... but then my heart rose again,” JD told his daddy, who was holding him securely in his lap.

“JD, why didn't you tell us?” Jonny questioned demandingly.

“I was sad.  Didn't want you to be sad, too,” JD confessed as his lower lip quivered and he snuggled into his daddy's chest.

“We're the brood, JD.  We're sad together,” Jonny reprimanded lightly.  “Remember what I taught you.”

“Okay.  Next time my heart falls, I'll tell you.”

“Let's hope there's not a next time,” Jack stated, reaching over and poking JD in the abdomen, which resulted in a big laugh.

“Jonny, we knew something was wrong.  Don't yell at JD,” Little Danny chastised.

“I didn't yell.  It's Aunt Sam's fault.”

“Mine?” Sam questioned curiously as she sat on the arm of the sofa.

“You divided and conquered,” Jonny claimed.

“Sue me.  I'm Air Force, just like you want to be someday,” Sam retaliated smugly.

“You did good then, Aunt Sam,” Jonny praised, accepting her response.

“Thank you, Jonny,” Sam responded.  Standing, she told the family, “I have to get home.  Sir, Daniel, I'm glad you're okay.”

“Carter, thanks,” Jack acknowledged.

Sam smiled and then sighed.  She looked at the even dozen and felt such love.

“Kids, I didn't lie to you.  If any of you had asked, I would have answered honestly because that's how your parents want it.  I just figured that if you didn't need to worry, why worry?  I hope you understand that.”

Jonny was the first one to go to Sam and hug her.

“We love you, Aunt Sam.”

Jonny's proclamation was repeated eleven more times and she was 'forced' to stay for ice cream.  As they talked, most of the children admitted that they'd had a funny feeling, but because they were mostly separated, none of them had verbalized their concerns.  Much as Sam hadn't wanted to worry them, the individual grouping of kids hadn't wanted to worry their siblings over a hunch.

“Dad and Daddy would always call someone,” Chenoa pointed out.

With the air cleared, Jack and Daniel left their brood to walk Sam to the back gate where she could cross into her own yard.

“You wouldn't have wanted me to lie, right?” Sam asked the couple, knowing in her heart what their answer would be.

“We don't lie to our kids, Carter,” Jack affirmed.

“But ... we're glad you got a little creative,” Daniel interjected.  “I have a feeling had they all been together, they would have fueled one another's fire.  They would have been miserable.”

“Any idea about who's responsible for abducting you?”

“No,” Jack answered, shaking his head.  “Well, it could be related to a little run in I had with some guys from the middle east a whole bunch of years ago.”

“Apparently, they have long memories,” Daniel sighed.

“Uh, you might want to be a little extra cautious until we get this sorted out a bit more,” Jack suggested.

Sam nodded.

“Pass that on to Cass as well,” the general requested about Cassandra, who had left shortly after the couple's safe arrival home since she needed to tend to her own family.

“Oh, Sir, Daniel, Kevin requested tacos for dinner yesterday.”

“Tacos?” Jack echoed.

“With lots of extra meat and tomatoes,” Sam announced happily.

“Wow,” Daniel responded softly.

“Yeah,” Sam acknowledged with a huge smile.

Two hugs later, Sam disappeared into her backyard, after which the lovers strolled leisurely towards their house.

“We beat the odds again, Angel.”

“It wasn't looking good,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I think it was your crazy man talk. That was insane.  You do know that.”

“It worked,” Jack refuted in happy relief.

“Only because Makepeace surfaced,” Daniel replied.  “You ... kept him out of it.”

“I told the feds it was a man dressed in camo who seemed to have a score to settle,” Jack corrected.

“You didn't tell them who.”

“Brain freeze.  It could have been Loki.”

Daniel chuckled, “Yeah, it could have been.  Jack, if it was Makepeace who ... you know, Kinsey.  How'd he know to text you using the Starsky and Hutch code names?”

“I suspect he and Harry had something going.  I don't even know how Harry knows what he does.”

“Intel?”

“Their own kind.”

“Dad, Daddy, can we have more ice cream?” Jenny requested as her parents entered the house.

“We already had ice cream,” Jack reminded.

“But we're celebrating that you're home and we're all together again.”

Jack and Daniel both smiled and replied in unison, “Okay.”

As Jenny relayed the permission to her siblings, Jack and Daniel turned to face each other.

“Forever and always, Danny.  I love you so friggin' much.”

“I love you, Jack, forever and always.”

The lovers kissed, a long and passionate union of their lips, and then joined their children for more ice cream fun.  They didn't have all the answers as to what had happened with their abduction, but what they did know was that they were home, and that was all that mattered on this night.

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