Gemini Minus One

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  8 - July 6, 2005
Spoilers:  Gemini, The First Commandment (minor), Unnatural Selection, Tin Man (minor)
Size:  34kb, short story
Written:  December 25-26,28,31, 2007, January 2,5,8,10,16-17, 2008
Summary:  While Sam and Teal'c are battling the Replicator image of Sam, Jack and Daniel debate how things should proceed, whether or not Sam should be held accountable for her decisions made at the Alpha Site, and the upcoming mission to Atlantis.
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) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Ali, Lissa, Melissa, Irina, Tonya, Carol, Claudia, Linda!

Gemini Minus One
by Orrymain

“You worked over the holiday?” Daniel asked as he and Sam walked down the corridors of the SGC.

“It was the perfect time to conduct some tests; I'm really excited about this,” the blonde replied.  “Besides, Pete had to work, so I would have just watched the  fireworks on the TV.”

“Not the best way to spend Independence Day.”

“I can think of better,” Sam mused with a not-so-shy smile.

“So, what's the word?” Daniel asked.

“Well, the test flights were successful.  The new Asgard hyperdrive is ready to go,” Sam answered.

“And when are they leaving?”

“They're stocking the ship and picking the crew right now,” Sam revealed.

Evasively Daniel cleared his throat, causing Sam to smile knowingly and query, “You really want to go, don't you?”

“It's Atlantis.  It's ... everything we've been working for, for seven-and-a-half years,” the eager archaeologist responded.

“I know what you mean,” Sam empathized vocally as they reached the elevator.  As Daniel swiped his card through the scanner, she added, “Unfortunately, I think General O'Neill has other ideas.”

“Let me guess, he says he needs you here,” Daniel stated, knowing his supposition was true even as he posed it to his friend.

“His exact words were, 'Over my dead body', but I was actually talking about the three of us, you, me, and Teal'c.  He might be persuaded to let one of us go,” Sam put forth.

“And you'd be okay if that was me?” the archaeologist asked cautiously as the metal doors slid open, and he walked inside the elevator.

“Of course, Daniel.  You are the expert on the Ancients,” the blonde replied, waiting for the doors to close before she moved away.

Daniel nodded as the doors closed and thought, ~I hope you mean that, because I really want to go.  Of course, that would mean convincing Jack, and that won't be easy.  I wouldn't go for long; just go there, spend a few weeks, and come home, like ... going on a dig.~  He looked up at the sight and sound of flashing alarms and heard the announcement regarding an unscheduled off-world activation.  He debated heading for the control room, but decided against it.  ~If they need me, they'll find me.  I've got a ton of research to catch up on.~

====

“What's going on?” Daniel asked, looking up from his research and seeing the uneasy expression on his lover's face.

Jack sighed and picked up a black, triangular shaped object and began bouncing it lightly in his hands.  He looked down, just out of habit, and saw tiny black marks on his palms and fingers from where the points of the triangle had touched his hands.

“Hey!”

“That's what you get for touching,” Daniel smirked.  “It's not dangerous.”

“That's good to know!  I'd hope you wouldn't keep things just lying around that *were* dangerous.”

“Uh, Jack, no one comes into my office and just picks up an artifact without checking with me -- no one, but you, of course,” the younger man said, arching his eyebrows when the other man looked over at him innocently.

“Point taken,” Jack conceded, continuing to fidget with the object since his hands were already polka dotted.

“What's up?” Daniel asked again, his internal Jack sensors telling him that there was a problem.

“That unscheduled off-world activation from earlier?  It was one of Carter's IDC's, expired, from four months ago.”

“Oh, well, how?”

Jack answered, “It sent us a message requesting that the MALP be sent through to some address on the outer edge of the galaxy.”

“That's far.  Did you?”

“Oh, yeah,” Jack answered, hunched over his lover's desk, his elbows resting against its edge.  Putting down the artifact, he continued, “Daniel, it was Carter.”

“We already have a ... Carter.”

“Yes, and one is enough, but this other one looks and sounds just like ours,” Jack reported.

“Alternate reality?” Daniel inquired.

After all, it wouldn't be the first time SG-1 had run into different but similar versions of themselves.

Jack kept his gaze locked on the wall, with his brow furrowed, and simply shook his head in response.

“Okay, well, there has to be more to this,” the younger man prodded.

“Our old friend, Fifth,” Jack revealed.  “He made a Replicator Carter.”

“That's a first, and that could be, uh, dangerous, if Replicators start making themselves look like ... us.”

“And this one says she wants us to kill her.”

“Why?” Daniel asked skeptically.

“Apparently, Fifth is hung up on Carter.”

“Well, she was able to convince him to help us escape the time dilation effect a couple of years ago.”

“I guess his crush has advanced since then.  I said we should give her what she wants, but ...”

“But Sam wants to talk to her...self,” Daniel interjected with a tiny smile.

“She thinks we could learn something; Teal'c thinks it's a con,” Jack reported.

“So, what did you do?”

“Carter suggested we use the Alpha Site, skeleton crew and security personnel only,” Jack sighed, straightening up.  “I'm not happy that I caved, Daniel.  This could be one big whopper of a mistake.”

“Maybe, but Sam isn't wrong to try and see if she can learn something from the Replicator, especially if the Replicator is sincere about wanting to be killed.”

“This feels like one of those days when I wish I'd never gotten out of bed.”

“I'll second that,” the younger man agreed with an alluring and anything but innocent smile.

“Oh, I'd so like to be able to think about it,” the older man responded, wishing he could just sit back and envision he and his soulmate in bed, snuggling and making love.

“But?”

“But ... the first round Carter times two should be over.  I wanna stay on top of this one,” Jack stated.  ~Gives me a headache just thinking about the prattling possibilities -- two Carters?  I'd retire first!~

“Need any help?”

“Maybe later; don't go anywhere,” Jack ordered.  “And put a sign on this thing,” he whined, putting down the artifact and looking at his spotted hands, causing his lover to chuckle.

As the general reached the doorway, Daniel called out, “Jack, Sam said the hyperdrive is working well.”

“No, Daniel.”

“But ...”

“No, n-o, noooooo, you are *not*, n-o-t, *not* going to Atlantis.  I need you here,” Jack stated definitively, shaking his head and then walking out of the office.

**It's just for a little while.**

**NO!** Jack shouted in his mind.

**You don't have to yell,** Daniel responded.  After a moment, he called out, **Jack?**  He waited a few more seconds and repeated, **Jack?**

With a groan, the young man shook his head and returned to his work.

====

“Report,” Jack ordered as he sat in the control room, looking at the monitor that showed Sam on the Alpha Site.  ~And please don't ruin my appetite with bad news.~

“Fifth tried to isolate aspects of my personality, certain memories and feelings that he thought he could control and give them to the Replicator.  He taught ... her to be like me, but it's a bit of a contradiction for her, Sir.  She feels like she's at odds with herself.”

“Is she willing to jump ship?”

“Well, there's a problem.”

“Isn't there always?” the general asked.

“She says Fifth is going to come here and take over the galaxy.  She claims he's already made adjustments to himself and the other Replicators that make them impervious to the disrupter.”

“Then how could ...”

“Uh, except for her, Sir.  She hasn't been adapted,” Sam pointed out.

“Is there a chance she's bluffing?” Jack asked.  ~Dumb question; of course, there is.  Never met a  Replicator I could trust.~

“Anything's possible at this point, but I don't see what she has to gain by it.  She doesn't want Fifth to succeed any more than we do,” the blonde colonel answered.

“Yeah, so she says.”

“If she's lying, we don't have a problem,” Sam stated.

“Why would he make all the other bugs immune to the disrupter, but not her?” Jack asked, not really buying the story being told.  ~Sounds too pat for my taste.~

“Maybe he wanted her to feel inferior, or he wanted her to be afraid of us.  Maybe he ... he anticipated that she would come to me for help,” Sam offered.

“Carter, if that weapon doesn't work ...” Jack began.

“Yes, Sir, I know.  We need to contact Thor and apprise him of the situation,” Sam responded.  “If the disrupter needs to be re-engineered, we're going to need his help.  In the meantime, I think we should continue the interrogation.  She could still provide us with valuable information.”

“Alright,” Jack agreed.  “Just keep in mind how this has to end.”

“Don't worry, Sir.  We will complete the mission.”

“Just make sure we all end up in one piece,” Jack said, signing off.  ~Should have stayed in bed.~

====

“Jack, what is it that has you so worried?” Daniel asked.

The archaeologist was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the general's desk in his office.  The door was closed, but not locked, and Jack had his laptop open, since he'd been typing a letter when his lover had entered to check up on both him and the situation with the Carters.

Grimacing from his thoughts, Jack confided, “Danny, she's curious, maybe too curious.  Remember back with Jonas?”

“Jonas?” Daniel questioned, surprised that Jack would bring up Jonas Quinn, since the Kelownan was not one of his favorite people in the universe.

“Not Mister Smiley Face, that god-wannabe -- Hanson,” Jack clarified.

“I remember.  He was the leader of SG-9 and ...”

“And Carter's ex-fiancé.”

“That was hard on Sam,” a sympathetic Daniel replied, remembering how the man had believed himself to be a god on P3X-513 and almost ended up getting SG-1 killed as a result.

“Carter's report was unusually detailed, from the personal side.  One of the things he told her when he was holding her captive was that he'd knew she'd come after him, to try and save him.”

“What's your point?”

“Carter's going to want to save herself,” Jack answered pointedly.

“Maybe,” Daniel conceded.  “But she won't risk Earth to do it, Jack.”

“She'll believe in herself.”

“You're really worried about this,” Daniel observed.

“Daniel, wouldn't you want to see the best in a double of yourself?  Hey, I lied to me; that synthetic that Harlan made of me knew it, and so did I; but that's because I'm used to looking for the worst in people, myself included.  You and Carter are different.  You both want to believe in people, even if that other person is yourself.  Carter's going to look real hard for a way to redeem herself.”

“Teal'c's with her, right?” Daniel asked as more of a statement.  “He'll make sure she doesn't take any chances that she shouldn't.”

“I hope so,” Jack sighed.

“What?” the younger man asked, seeing the thoughtful expression on the other man's face.

“I'm thinkin' I should contact Thor and take a little preventative action,” the general replied.

“Huh?”

“They may not be able to be destroyed with a basic disrupter, but what about one of Thor's satellites?  Doesn't that increase our odds?”

“You mean, bigger is better?”

Jack shrugged, as did Daniel, who said, “Couldn't hurt.”

“Let's go make a Gate call,” Jack suggested, standing up.

“I sure am glad I'm not the one having to pay the Gate bill,” Daniel mused getting a chuckle from his lover.

====

Sometime later, Jack was again in the control room, learning the latest from his colleagues at the Alpha Site.

“For quite a while she insisted that she couldn't betray the Replicators, but couldn't be like them, either.  I think we convinced her when I told her that we could deploy a disrupter beam into space with Asgard enhanced satellites.”

“She was not convinced at that point, ColonelCarter,” Teal'c corrected.  “She insisted that we destroy her.”

“Yes, but then she showed me what they were doing to her.”

“A risk that you should not have taken,” the Jaffa insisted.

“I had to, Teal'c.  We had to get her to trust us, and I was in her mind, not the other way around.”

“Whoa!” Jack called out, not liking the sound of what he was hearing, apparently since it was clear the two teammates weren't in agreement.  “Details.”

“The Replicator linked with ColonelCarter to relay information,” Teal'c spoke.

“She was showing me how Fifth tried to train her to kill us, Sir, in simulations of the SGC.”

“It was not safe.”

“Teal'c, I'm fine.”

“Boys and girls, please,” Jack said, regaining control of the conversation.

“Sorry, Sir.  She was convinced, though.  She told us that Fifth has some knowledge of Ancient technology acquired from the data banks of assimilated Asgard ships.  He introduced a cipher into the kiron pathways that control the molecular cohesion of all Replicators.  Apparently, that's when he decided to attack our galaxy.”

“It is unlikely he would have taken such a risk unless he were confident that he would be immune to the effects of the disrupters, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated, repeating a comment he'd made to the two Carters earlier.

“Carter, I have no idea what you just said,” Jack admitted.

“There is a code, a cipher, we need to destroy the Replicators,” Teal'c stated informatively.

Sam expounded, “There's a sub-space link between all Replicators like a ... a wireless internet connection.  If she taps in to it, she should be able to access the cipher.”

“She'll also be giving away her position,” Jack surmised.

“It'll take some time for Fifth to detect her presence on the link.  If she can isolate the correct program first ...”

“That's a big 'if',” Jack asserted.

“It's risky, Sir; I realize that, but I think it's the only way.  While we're waiting for her to find the cipher, we can run a few tests on the unmodified disrupter.  We need to analyze the energy output so we can create a modulation program, and we need the Asgard to send us a disrupter satellite as soon as possible,” Sam stated.

“I've already talked to 'em.  It'll be there in thirty minutes or it's free,” Jack quipped.

“I will use a F-302 to place the satellite in orbit,” Teal'c noted.

“All right.  I hope you guys know what you're doing,” Jack stated, signing off.  Leaving the control room, he stood and walked immediately to his husband's office and said, “Daniel, she's doing it.”

“Doing what?”

“Attempting to save herself.  Teal'c said she linked up with that thing; kinda like a ... mind meld or something,” Jack reported.

“If you're that worried, why let them keep working with the Replicator?” Daniel challenged.

“Because if there is the least bit of a chance we can gain some ground against the Replicators, we have to take it; at least, to a point.”

“So, right now the risk is acceptable.”

“Sometimes I hate being a general.”

“Speaking of decisions, you could send Sam with me to Atlantis,” Daniel began.  “Just think, Jack, no prattling ... for weeks.”

“Goodbye, Daniel,” Jack said, turning around and walking out.

“Does that mean ...”

“No!”

~It was a worth a shot,~ the archaeologist sighed.

====

Just an hour or so later, Sam and Teal'c contacted the SGC again with urgent news.

“We're making progress, but she hasn't found the cipher yet, and Fifth is on his way.”

“How long?”

“Two hours,” Sam answered hesitantly.

Without hesitation, Jack ordered, “I'm pulling the plug.  Finish off the Replicator, and evacuate the base,” Jack ordered sternly.

“It's too late for that, Sir,” Sam replied.

“Carter?”

“If he comes here and finds nothing, he's not just going to turn around and leave the galaxy,” Sam explained.

“He's tracking her, zeroing in on her position,” Jack guessed.

“It's only part of why he's coming,” Sam responded.  “Think about it.  What do Replicators do?  They seek out high level civilizations and consume their technology.”

“Goa'uld,” Teal'c stated.

“Exactly,” the colonel confirmed.  “A race that uses all kinds of advanced technology culled from multiple sources, including the Ancients.  It's like a banquet for the Replicators.  Once they're in this galaxy, they're not goin' anywhere.  Now, if she can isolate the cipher soon, we may still have time to remodulate the disrupter.”

“I'll give you one hour: one,” Jack stated strongly.  ~And I hope I don't regret it.~

“Thank you, Sir,” Sam acknowledged.  To Teal'c, she stated, “I'd better get back to the lab,” after which she got up and left.

“I will deploy the satellite,” Teal'c stated, starting to get up.

“T, hold on a second.”

====

“So what did he say?” Daniel asked curiously as he and Jack sat opposite each other in the commissary, each with nothing but coffee in front of them.

Jack had just filled his lover in on the latest communication with the other members of SG-1 and was just to the part about his private conversation with the Jaffa.

“That they share thoughts and memories, and have a sympathy between them, and that is what bothers me, Daniel.”

“She's trying to save herself, just like you thought.”

“Teal'c doesn't think she'd let it interfere, but I think he's a little worried about it, too.”

“How much time do we have?” Daniel asked.

“Just enough to finish this coffee,” Jack answered.

“No refills?” the archaeologist questioned.

“Afraid not,” the older man replied.

“By the way, I decided on the movie we could watch tonight.”

“Which one?”

“'The Transformers: The Movie',” the young man said, almost breaking into laughter before getting the title out.

“Funny, Daniel.”

“Bad humor,” Daniel acknowledged.  “I think I know what the problem is.”

“What's that?”

“I've been hanging around you too much,” Daniel answered with a sweet smile.

**Geez, Danny, you're the best thing about this day, or any day.**

**Don't make me blush, Babe.**

**I love you.**

**I love you, too,** Daniel replied.  “Sam will make the right call.”

Jack nodded and finished his coffee.

====

“Jack, what's going on?” Daniel asked some time later, a bit out of breath from sprinting to the control room in response to the unexpected sound of the klaxons.

“Carter couldn't save herself,” Jack lamented with a bit of an edgy tone.

“What?”

Jack nodded towards the incoming wormhole, watching as Sam and Teal'c walked through, holding a container full of Replicator arm pieces.

“Care to join the debriefing?” Jack asked, staring at his lover for a few seconds.  Then he leaned down and called out over the speaker, “SG-1, we'll debrief in five minutes.”

“She looks ...”

“Yeah,” Jack agreed as he hurried out of the control room, having seen the defeated expression on Sam's face.

====

Sam had reached the end of her review, saying, “She fired the weapon and destroyed Fifth and his ship, but it was all a ruse.  She was playing both sides.  She wanted the power for herself, so she lured Fifth here by going along with his plan to destroy the SGC.  At the same time, she was promising us the cipher; only there wasn't a cipher until she created one, using the information she accessed in our computers.”  With a sigh she added, “She was just giving us enough information to keep us, me, hooked.”

“We were unable to prevent the Replicator from escaping through the Stargate, but we did get this,” Teal'c said, holding up the container full of Replicator arm pieces.

“Ouch!” Jack responded.

“I don't think she felt any pain,” Sam spoke.  “Teal'c tried to keep her from going through the Gate, but she'd locked out the controls.  She finally deactivated her arm, and it just crumbled into tiny pieces right there in front of the Stargate,” Sam explained.

“So her reason for coming here was to make herself immune to the Asgard disrupter weapons?” Daniel queried.

“That's right, and she'd already passed on the code she'd created before leaving the Alpha Site.”

“Well, I'll contact Thor and let him know what happened,” Jack stated.  “Carter, go home.  Dismissed.”

Jack got up and headed for the control room to contact the Asgard and advise them of the current situation and threat to the Milky Way galaxy.

“Sam, are you okay?”

“Outside of feeling like an idiot?” Sam responded.

“You did what you thought was right,” Daniel asserted.

“DanielJackson is correct.”

“Teal'c, you wanted to destroy her from the beginning; so did the general.  I'm the one who fought for her.  I was going to bring her here,” Sam bemoaned, lowering her head.

“Sam?”

“Excuse me,” Sam said, picking up the container of Replicator pieces.  “I'm going to start analyzing these.”

As Sam exited, Daniel and Teal'c exchanged worried expressions before leaving the briefing room.

====

“Well, that's done,” Jack said, walking into his office, aware of his lover's presence.  “How about we call it a day?”

“Sam's in her lab.”

“Tattling, Daniel?” Jack quipped.

“You should talk to her, Jack.  She's blaming herself,” Daniel informed.  Seeing his lover staring down at his closed laptop, he stated, “You want her to blame herself?”

“No, Daniel, I don't, but I want her to start acting like the soldier I know she is, and not a heroine trying to rescue some supposed downtrodden damsel.”

“Isn't that being a little harsh?” Daniel questioned.

“Daniel, I'll talk to her, like I always do.  I'll make her feel better and convince her that she did nothing wrong, like I always do; and I'll do it because she is one fine officer, the greatest scientific thinker we have, aside from you, of course, and because she's my friend.  One day, though, her luck is going to run out, and I don't want to look back and kick myself because I was too easy on her.”

“Easy?  Jack, don't lie to her.  I mean, uh, if you think she deserves a reprimand or ...”

“I think she needs to think more,” Jack said.  “I can't believe I just said that,” he sighed.  He looked at his lover and said, “She trusted the Replicator, so much that she was willing to risk the SGC.”

“You think she would have brought her through without your okay?”

“That's what Teal'c was fighting against.  Carter practically stood between them, giving some impassioned plea.  She's good; she's darn good, but she's also her own worst enemy.”

“Jack ...”

“I'll be back.  I'm going to go give Carter the usual 'rah-rah, it's okay' chat,” Jack said, heading out of his office, leaving a disgruntled Daniel behind.

====

Sam was seated at her worktable, studying a piece of the Replicator under the large microscope.  Jack was standing across from her, his hands resting on the tabletop, and Teal'c was at the end of the table, centered between the two.

“You know, I'm still of a strong belief that it's a *bad* idea to have that stuff on the base,” Jack opined.

“She deactivated these cells when she separated them from her arm,” Sam asserted a bit curtly.

“Can we be certain they will not become active again?” Teal'c asked.

“She deliberately shut down the cohesive energy between them so it would be more difficult for me to figure out how she made herself immune to the disrupter,” Sam answered.

“Now, how do you know that?” Jack asked.

Sam looked up, glanced over at Teal'c for a second, and then looked at Jack as she responded remorsefully, “Because that's what I would have done.”

“Carter ...” Jack began.

“Sir, if you don't mind, I've got a lot of work to do.  We've never had the opportunity to study human-form Replicator cells before.  If we can learn something from them, this won't be a total loss.”

“This isn't your fault,” the general stated.

“I'm not so sure about that,” Sam stated.  “Fifth came here because of me.  She rejected him because she was made like me.  Now we've got Replicators in our galaxy, and they're immune to the only technology we have that could have stopped them.”

“None of us correctly anticipated the actions of the Replicator,” Teal'c refuted.

“I thought she was afraid of him, but really she just wanted to get rid of him so she could lead the Replicators herself.  She killed him because she thought he was weak,” Sam stated.

“Carter, she isn't you,” Jack claimed.

“O'Neill is correct.  Though she shared your memories, her personality was altered,” the Jaffa pointed out.

“But the fact is, she learned betrayal from Fifth, and he learned it from me,” Sam stated.

~Crap,~ Jack thought inwardly, unable to deny that Sam had a point.  He looked at her and then at Teal'c, finally giving a reluctant sigh and saying, “See you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Sir.”

====

“Well?” Daniel asked when his lover returned to his office.  “How is she?”

“I'm not comfy with having Replicator jigsaw pieces on my base,” Jack whined.

“Jack, we have all kinds of alien technology and artifacts on this base,” Daniel reminded.  “Get over it.  How is she?”

“I don't need to set her straight; she actually gets it,” Jack replied.

“You mean you tried to make her feel better, but you couldn't,” Daniel surmised.

“She understands the consequences of her actions.”  Jack paused, and let out a sigh.  “She knows, and she doesn't want to be placated.”  The two men exchanged a look, and then the older man suggested, “Danny, let's check out.”

“I'll meet you; I wanna talk to Sam for a minute,” Daniel stated and then headed out the door.

~I have an errand to run, anyway,~ the older man thought.  Then, though, he called out, “Daniel?”

The archaeologist returned to the office and asked, “What?”

“I think this is all my fault.”

“Yours?” Daniel questioned in surprise, walking back inside and shutting the door this time.

“Carter said something,” Jack began.  “She said the Replicator learned betrayal from Fifth, and he learned it from her.”  He sighed, “The thing is that I ordered her to betray him.”

Daniel began to speak, but stopped.  What his lover had just spoken was the truth, and they had, in actuality, argued over that fact when it'd happened.  He walked forward a few more steps, his head bowed as he thought.

Looking up again, Daniel spoke, “You wanted Sam to learn, to not make the same mistake again.  We all make mistakes, Jack.  I ... still believe that was a mistake, but you did what you thought was best, to save us, all of us, from being stuck in time, or killed, by those human Replicators.  I ... I wish we'd found another way.”

“Like I said, my fault.”

“No, Jack, it's not.  Too much has happened, and, if we're going to play the blame game, we'd be here all night, going back to Abydos and my decision to unbury the Stargate.”  Daniel raised his hand to forestall Jack's immediate protest, a smile appearing on his face.  “See, you were about to make me feel better, by trying to convince me that nothing that's happened since then, especially Sha're's abduction and death, was my fault.”  He licked his lips and then continued, “I had a choice to make, and it's one you helped me to make: blame myself forever for everything, or accept my mistake, forget about blame, and learn, live, and move forward.  That's what you want Sam to do, and that's what you need to do.  You made a call; maybe it wasn't your best call, but we got out of there, and we've done a lot of good since then.  Let it go, Jack; follow your own advice.”

Jack gave out a smile that grew after another second.

Daniel walked closer, until they were just inches apart, and said, “I thought we were going to check out of here for the night.”

“We were,” Jack affirmed.  “But then some geek decided to prattle for a couple of minutes.”

“Prattle,” Daniel acknowledged with a bob of his head.  “I'm gonna go check on Sam before leaving.”

As Daniel reached the doorway, Jack called out, “Danny?”  When his lover turned, he said, “Good prattle. Thanks.”

“You're welcome,” Daniel acknowledged with a grin and then headed down the corridor.

~I do love that prattling geek of mine,~ Jack thought happily.

====

“Daniel, I've already heard the pep talk,” Sam said the moment she saw the archaeologist enter her office.

“Actually, I was just going to say goodnight,” Daniel answered.

“Goodnight,” Sam spoke politely.

Daniel let out a tiny groan and then walked around the worktable so that he was standing next to his friend.

“Daniel ...”

“Sam, I just want you to know we're all on your side.  Look, I'm not trying to take anything away from the decisions you made on the Alpha Site, or the choices you were going to make, or the blame you want to put on yourself.  I know how that is.  I just want you to remember that we've all been there, at one time or another. Maybe things didn't go exactly as you'd hoped, but you have that,” he nodded in the direction of the Replicator cells lying on the table, “and we'll learn from it; and Fifth is gone.”

“You're saying it wasn't a total loss then?”

Daniel smiled supportively and then added, “This program is dangerous, Sam.  Every time we walk through the Stargate, we don't know what we'll find, or how we'll react to it.  All we can do is our best, and learn.”

Sam stared up at her friend and gave him a tiny nod.  She was surprised when he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Goodnight, Sam.”

“Goodnight, Daniel,” the blonde replied, her voice warmer now than it had been just a minute before.

As the archaeologist reached the door, he turned and called out, “Oh, about Atlantis.”  When he saw Sam look up, he continued, “I don't think we have a prayer, but I think we should keep trying, just to keep Jack on his toes.”

Sam smiled, albeit a tiny curvature of her lips, and replied, “I can do that.”

Nodding slightly, Daniel smiled as he responded, “Good,” after which he left the blonde's lab and headed for the locker room to change into his civvies.

====

“Bij!  Katie!” Daniel greeted, kneeling down and patting the two beagles.  He laughed joyfully at their lick-like kisses and, in return, kissed their noses with glee.  “Where's Jack?”

Obediently, the canines sprinted towards the kitchen.

“Hey, Babe,” Daniel called out.

“Love,” Jack greeted, walking over and meeting his husband in the dining nook.  The two kissed, and then he asked, “Carter any better?”

“A little, I think,” Daniel responded.  “What's for dinner?”  When the older man just grinned, he asked, “What?”

“Dinner is in fifteen minutes; then you'll see,” Jack quipped, causing the younger man to become extremely curious and even a little suspicious.

====

“What's this?” Daniel asked, having taken a quick shower and then returned downstairs.

“Atlantis, Daniel.  Enjoy it, because it's as close as you're going to get,” Jack smirked.  “We have Atlantis smoked salmon, garnished with oceanic lemon capers and out-of-this-world chopped onions, Pegasus Vegetable Ribbon, Lost City bagels, and mythological coffee.  Oh, and for dessert, delicious chocolate cloud pie.”

“Pegasus Vegetable Ribbon?” Daniel asked, walking over to take a closer look.

“Zucchini, carrots, a little olive oil, some black pepper, finely chopped parsley, and just the right amount of lemon rind.”

“Oh.”

Jack took his husband in his arms and said, “Danny, I know you want to go to Atlantis, and I'm not trying to make light of that, but I love you, and I'm just not comfortable with you going; at least now right now.  It's just to risky.”

“We know they're out there; we need to find the expedition,” Daniel argued lightly as the couple parted slightly.

“We will, just not with you on board,” Jack insisted, kissing his lover.  He sat down at the table and said, “Let's eat Atlantis.”

“This subject isn't closed, Jack.”

“I'm sure it's not,” Jack groaned.  “But any chance we could forget about it for tonight?  It's been a long day, and I'd really love to eat dinner, play with the girls, and just snuggle up with you and listen to some jazz or opera.  What do you say?”

~I still have plenty of time to change his mind; slow and steady, like the hare,~ Daniel thought.  He smiled and sat down in his chair, answering, “Give me some of that Pegasus food.”

Before handing his husband the dish, Jack took hold of Daniel's hand and declared, “I love you, Angel.  Thanks for being around so much today.  I have a hunch you didn't catch up on that research backlog of yours.”

“I love you, too, and, well, no, I didn't, but aside from being married, we're partners, and we're a team.  We're not always involved with every facet of every issue facing us, but we still need to be there for each other.  That was definitely more important,” Daniel said, gently squeezing his husband's hand supportively.

For several seconds, the lovers locked their eyes onto each other's.

Finally, Daniel called out, “Jack?”

“Yes?”

“Pegasus.”

“Daniel, I thought we agreed,” the older man groaned.

“The vegetables, Jack.  Remember?”

Jack let out a huge sigh and then smiled, shaking his head.  Within another couple of seconds, both men were laughing.  It had been quite a day, and the implication for the future was definitely dangerous and unknown, both concerning the Replicators and the upcoming trip to Atlantis.  Tonight, though, all that mattered were two men, Jack and Daniel, happy, together, and living life as only they could do.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


Free Web Counters
HP Shopping Computer Coupons