Holding Our Breaths

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  6
Spoilers:  Revelations, Descent
Size:  87kb
Written:  April 28-30, May 3,7, 2008, April 20-28, May 3,20, June 6, 2009
Summary:  While Jack is eager to add a new toy to the Air Force arsenal, Daniel displays another hidden talent.  Only there's more to the story than he first lets on.
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:  Tammy, Ali, Irina, Becky, Navi!

Holding Our Breaths
by Orrymain

“This had better be good,” Jack griped to his lover as he brought his Ford truck to a sudden stop.  ~This is *not* the way I wanted to spend Thursday morning.~

“It won't do you any good to kill your truck, or us,” Daniel retorted, still recovering from the forward momentum that resulted from the quick stop.

“This baby will last forever,” the older man responded confidently as he unbuckled his seatbelt and got out.

“As long as you don't run it into the wall,” the younger man mumbled under his breath before reaching for the door.

“I heard that!” Jack exclaimed as he headed for the entrance.  “Today, Daniel!”

“They picked a *bad* time to interrupt us,” Daniel muttered as he got out of the vehicle and then sprinted to catch up to his Love.  ~Then again, I can't say I was too thrilled with being interrupted, either.~  With Jack within a couple of feet, he remarked, “I'm sure it's important.”

“It's *always* important,” Jack groused.  Resigned to the urgent call to come to the Mountain, he added, “All I know is that it has something to do with the Tok'ra, and you know what that means.”

“What?”

“Trouble.  They never show up just to say 'hi'.  It's always something with them.”  Approaching the corridor where the base personnel checked in, he quipped sarcastically, “They've never even bought us a fruit basket.”

Rolling his eyes, the archaeologist remained silent as he continued towards the sign-in area.

====
 
“General,” Jack greeted when he and Daniel walked into Hammond's office a few minutes later.  “What's going on?”

“Sir,” Sam called out to General Hammond.  Seeing Jack, she added, “Colonel, I didn't know you'd come in yet.”

“Sam,” Daniel greeted, getting a smile from the blonde.

“What's going on?” Jack repeated curiously.

“There's a mother ship in Earth's orbit, but,” Sam changed her focus from Jack to General Hammond, “I think it's just drifting.  There's been no response to hails and no sign of any aggression.”

“A docile Goa'uld?” Jack quipped in disbelief.

“That's what we're going to find out, Colonel.  Jacob Carter is en route with a cargo ship.  Once he arrives, SG-1 will leave to scout the situation.  We don't know what that ship is doing out there.”

“Maybe they're bringing us a fruit basket,” Jack responded sarcastically.  Seeing the disapproving looks from everyone in the general’s office, he added, “Or something.”

Ignoring his 2IC, Hammond advised, “Teal'c and Doctor Friesen will be waiting for you at the transport area.”

“Friesen?” the colonel asked, grimacing at the man's name.  “Sir ...”

“Colonel, if that ship is dead in space, we need to get as much information about it and its systems as possible,” Hammond stated sternly.  “Friesen's one of our best.”

“We have Carter, Sir,” Jack countered.

Sam smiled shyly, bowing her head.

“I'm sure Sam would appreciate some help, Jack,” Daniel opined, trying not to laugh at his lover.

“Keep me informed, Major,” Hammond requested, his words indicating the  discussion over the mission attendees was over.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged as she and her teammates went on their way.

“No signs of life, eh?” Jack questioned as the team headed down the corridor.

“Someone must be on board,” Daniel put forth.

“I don't know, Daniel,” Sam responded.  “It's just ... out there, drifting.”

“Cool!” Jack exclaimed jovially.  “A scavenger hunt, and the scavenged goes to the victors --us.”

“Victors implies having beaten someone at something,” Daniel pointed out.

“Don't be technical,” Jack replied, dismissing the comment.  “How about this,” he continued, deciding to compromise.  “Finders keepers, losers weepers, and we're about to be the finders.”

Slyly, Sam glanced over at Daniel, who was walking beside her at this point.

“Lack of sleep,” Daniel stated, as if to explain his lover's remarks.

“Hey, it's a ship.  It's drifting.  We've already found it, so why can't we keep it?” Jack questioned in his defense as the group reached the elevator.

“I'll send a message to the Goa'uld and ask,” Daniel answered in amusement, earning him a snarky glare from his Love.  “It was just a thought,” he added, smiling sweetly as he and the team awaited the elevator doors to open.

====

“How long until we reach this ship?” Jack questioned once everyone had settled in aboard the cargo ship.

“It'll be a while, Sir,” Sam responded, heading towards the cockpit area to join her father.

“I'm gonna take a nap,” Jack stated.

“A nap?” Daniel asked, surprised.

“Yes, Daniel, a nap.  I'm tired,” the colonel responded.  He looked around and then reminded quietly, “It's not like we got any sleep last night.”

“That's true,” Daniel admitted, a small smile forming on his face as Jack looked around for a decent spot to lie down.  Bringing his thumb up to his mouth, he turned and called out, “Uh, Jack!”

“Yeah?”

“We need to, uh ... talk.”

“Talk?”  Jack stared at his lover in disbelief and then caught the gleam in the younger man's eyes.  “Talk.  Right.  Of course, we do.”

Happily, Jack followed his soulmate to a little corner of the cargo ship, one they'd discovered years before.  There were few private areas aboard a Goa'uld tel'tak, otherwise known as a cargo ship.  They couldn't do much, but if they kept focus, there was a certain amount of hanky panky the couple could enjoy without being caught.  Having been interrupted by the call to come to the Mountain, both were eager now to take advantage of the lull while they traveled.

~I *love* the way he thinks,~ Jack opined, a pleased and anticipatory smile on his face while he walked.

====

“Daniel, where'd you disappear to?” Sam questioned from her co-pilot's seat on the flight deck.

The archaeologist grinned momentarily and answered, “I was exploring the architecture of the tel'tak.  It's, uh, amazing how ... exciting that can be.”

Sam stared at her friend for a moment before refocusing on space.  She pondered the strange answer.  If she didn't know better, she'd suspect that Daniel and her CO had had a rendezvous.  Suddenly, she realized that she did know better.  She glanced back at Daniel, who was blushing.  Afraid she'd being to blush herself, she returned to what she was doing.

~Holy Hannah!  They've got guts.  Doctor Friesen's been walking all over the ship.~  Feeling her own heart race from the panic, Sam quickly calmed herself.  It wasn't her problem.  If her friends had been caught, it would have been a disaster.  ~Focus, Samantha.  They know what they're doing.~  Then she smiled as she thought, ~Maybe the colonel won't be so cranky now.~

====

A few minutes later, acting as though he'd just awakened from a nice long nap, Jack joined his team and Jacob on the flight deck.

~He looks happy enough,~ Jack observed about Friesen, who was sitting on the floor, reviewing some schematics.  Glancing at his lover, who was standing behind Sam's seat, he noted, ~I *know* Danny's happy enough, for now.~

The colonel had picked the right time to appear since the cargo ship had just come within sensor range of the alien space vessel.  The ship was believed to have been Anubis'.  It looked to be intact, although it was dead in space.

“Are we there yet?” Jack asked, stretching as he took his place beside his soulmate.

“Not yet, Sir.  Just close enough to do some scans,” Sam answered.

“Scanned anything yet?”

“Nothing, Sir,” Sam responded, grinning at the archaeologist's quiet chuckle.

“Nothing?” Jack asked, a bit surprised.

“It's in a stable planetary orbit.  Shields and weapons are down, and it's emitting no EM of any kind,” Sam explained.

“Still just kind of, sitting there,” Jack said, stating the obvious.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Well, if they were gonna attack Earth, they would have done it by now,” Jacob pointed out.

“The ship should be just a few hundred kilometers dead ahead.  There,” Sam said, spying the ship.

“Ship ahoy-hoy,” Jack sing-songed, his words causing Friesen to get up and take notice of the large vessel as it came closer into view.

“Isn't that the Navy?” Daniel queried playfully, giving his Love a deadpan stare when Jack glared at him.  He decided it was best to forget the humor and move forward with the mission.  “So, this is one of Anubis' ships?” he asked while focusing on Sam.

With a cautious nod, Sam speculated, “I'm not a hundred percent, but ... this could be the same ship Anubis used to kidnap Thor.”

“Now we know why they haven't attacked,” Jacob interjected as he studied the computer scanner.  “There's no discernible life signs.”

“All the escape pods have been jettisoned,” Sam pointed out.

“This ship does not appear to have been damaged in battle,” Teal'c observed.

“Power and life supports are functioning normally.  There's just nobody on board,” Jacob expounded.

“Why would they abandon a perfectly good ship?” Daniel asked curiously.

“Maybe the rent was too high,” Jack joked.

“Bad landlord?” Daniel jested.

“Noisy neighbors maybe.”

“Or no neighbors.  You know how the Goa'uld are.  They need an audience to be happy,” the archaeologist put forth dryly.

Jacob made a gesture as if to look back at the two men.  He knew that when Jack and Daniel started 'playing', it could go on for several minutes.  He didn't think they had time for that, especially since he doubted Anubis would have fled the vessel without it being absolutely necessary.  He was highly skeptical of the drifting ship.

Hoping to get the subject back on track, Jacob interrupted the rent-and-landlord discussion by suggesting, “Jack, rather than fly into a cargo bay, I recommend we use the transport rings to get us there until we get a better idea of what's goin' on.”

Jack stared at the Tok'ra for a second, feeling like he'd just had his command heels stepped on again, though he didn't mind.  It was time to focus more on the task at hand.

“Yeah,” the colonel agreed.  “Teal'c, radio Hammond.  Let him know we'll have something in a couple of hours.”

“Very well,” Teal'c affirmed with a slight bow of his head as the others began to head for the transporter rings.

~I can't help myself,~ Jack thought as he glanced at his soulmate for a second. He looked back at the Jaffa, who would be staying aboard the tel'tak, and jested, “Teal'c, enjoy the sounds of silence.  You're so lucky.”

Daniel stared at Jack and stated with mental confidence, **Teal'c might be lucky, but you sure won't be when we get back**

**Just teasing, Love.**

**Right.**

Jack stood back a moment, considering the threat he'd just heard.  He smiled, though, knowing that his Danny needed him as much as he needed Daniel.

~I hope.  The couch just isn't as comfy as the bed.~

====

“I want frequent ring miles,” Jack quipped just as soon as the group had finished transporting over to the Goa'uld mother ship.

For the most part, the barb was ignored, the group all focusing on a garbled sound that could be heard over the intercom.

“What is that?” Daniel asked, trying to pinpoint the source while also making out what the noise could be.

“I can't make it out,” Jacob responded.

“Shoulda brought earmuffs,” the often-witty colonel remarked as the group continued their search of the abandoned spaceship.

“You're right,” Daniel agreed, his response having a double meaning.

“Yes,” Jack stated, rearing back slightly as he wondered about his lover's statement.  “Silence is golden.”

“Actually, to be fully correct, it's speech is silver; silence is golden.”

“Huh?”

“The phrase goes back to Ancient Egypt.”

“What doesn't?” the colonel snarked as he looked around the corner before continuing.

The discussion about silence continued on for a few minutes, with Daniel happily using his linguistic studies to drive his soulmate batty.  It was just a game, and they both loved it, though neither would admit to it, at least not very often.

“Check it out,” Jack ordered the scientific members of the group, referring to the equipment when the group entered the throne room.  Meanwhile, he and Daniel automatically continued to search the room, ensuring that they were alone.  ~Clear.~

“Well, this is strange,” Jacob commented about one of the control panels.  “The ship is operational, but before they left, they initiated a self-destruct sequence.”

“It looks like the countdown's stuck,” Sam noted.

“Stuck?” Daniel asked with dry nervousness.

Sam just nodded, causing the archaeologist to just shrug.  It's not like it was a new experience to be in a position where he might blown to bits by the end of the day, if not before.

“It just doesn't make any sense.  The only way to stop a self-destruct is with a command override, but that would completely erase the sequence, not suspend it halfway,” Jacob stated.

“So, is the ship gonna explode or not?” Friesen asked.

“Well, until we know why the countdown was suspended, we can't be sure it won't start up again.  We need to get to the computer core and do a diagnostic,” Jacob responded, glancing over at his daughter.

“Carter, see if you can disable that self-destruct altogether,” Jack requested as he sat down in the command chair.  “Daniel, go with her.”

“The silence thing?” Daniel questioned, giving Jack a somewhat amused look.

**I love to hear you talk,** Jack communicated privately.  Audibly, he responded simply, “Go.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged, walking away with Daniel right behind her.

“Jack, are you seriously considering salvaging this ship?” Jacob questioned, turning to face the colonel just after the others disappeared from view.

“Why, yes, I am, Jacob,” Jack responded.  ~I should get one of these thrones for the house.~  Smirking silently, he thought, ~Yep.  I'm king of my castle.~

“This ship belonged to Anubis.”

“Excellent!” Jack exclaimed.  ~He owes us.  We spent a bundle a while back to get the Russians to *rent* us their Gate.  This should make us ... almost even.~

“What if it's some sort of Trojan Horse?” Jacob put forth in warning.

Jack considered the possibility for about a second and retorted, “Well, then, apparently, they did it wrong.”

“Look, Jack.  None of this makes any sense, so before you go slapping a US Air Force sticker on the side of this ship ...”

“Oh, will you stop?  Obviously, we gotta check things out around here, to see what happened before we do anything,” Jack interrupted.  ~I'm not an idiot.  I swear, he's becoming more Tok'ra-ish every day.~

“And find out what it's doing in Earth orbit.”

“But our standing orders are to recover technology that can help us defend against the Goa'uld.  I'd say this ship falls under that heading, wouldn't you?”

“Okay,” Jacob agreed.

“Thank you,” Jack replied indulgently.  ~Sometimes I really do think he's dark sided on us.~

“You know, sometimes I get a little concerned that you're gonna get my favorite planet wiped out.”

“Yes,” the colonel responded dryly.  “What planet is that?”

Jacob wasn't pleased with Jack's snarkiness and failure to appear apologetic for his snide question, but this wasn't the time or place to argue, either.

“So listen, if they wanted to scuttle this ship and the self-destruct didn't work, their next logical option would be to sabotage the hyperdrive,” Jacob stated.

“Friesen, let's go,” Jack ordered, standing and heading out of the room.

“I'll do a system's check from here,” Jacob advised, turning his attention to the controls while Jack and Friesen began to leave the flight deck.

As Jack and the scientist were walking away from the flight deck, the garbled computerized voice was heard again.

“Find out what that sound is,” Jack requested of Jacob.  ~I'm beginning to think there are gremlins in the ventilation.~

====

“Everything okay?” Sam asked as she and Daniel walked the ship's corridors. ~Maybe I was wrong about what they were up to, I mean, doing earlier.~

“Yeah.  Why?”

“Well, the colonel seems to be ...”  Sam smiled shyly as she looked away from her friend.  ~Why did I ask the question?~ she wondered.

“Oh, you mean Jack?”  Daniel looked back in the direction the two had just traversed.  “He's just having fun.”

Sam simply nodded as she cautiously turned down another corridor.

“Lack of sleep,” Daniel expounded on his answer.

“Didn't he just take a nap while we were ...”  Sam paused, seeing Daniel's smile and blushing face.  Her friends hadn't been napping, and she knew that.  It's just her CO's verbal sparring didn't match up with what she assumed he and Daniel had been doing.  “Never mind.”

“It's not opening,” Daniel noted about the door he'd just tried to open, the one that would allow the two to reach the computer core.

Unable to get a response herself, Sam contacted her father and told him about the sealed corridor.  Upon checking the ship's schematics, Jacob realized that not only had the entire section had been sealed off, but the life support had been shut down as well.

“Why would they do that?” the major asked her father over her radio.

“I have no idea,” Jacob responded.  “I'll see if I can open it up and get the ventilation going again.”

“Ventilation is good,” Daniel muttered quietly while he and Sam waited.  ~Oh,~ he thought as they waited.  He'd been wanting to ask his friend about her recent vacation and hadn't yet had a chance.  Now seemed like as good of a time as any other.  “How was your trip?”

Having just returned from a short visit with her brother and his family, Sam grinned as she answered, “It was good.  I don't get to see Mark that often, and I love being an auntie.”  A bit more seriously, she added, “They're probably the closest I'll get to having kids.”

Daniel considered the comment for a second before asking, “Do you want children, Sam?”

“Sure.  Maybe.  Well, I ...”  With a sigh, the blonde clarified, “I'm married to the Air Force, Daniel.”

“That doesn't mean you can't have a family,” Daniel put forth assertively.

“It's too complicated,” Sam insisted.  “Besides, I could never explain what we do.  Too many secrets, and ...”

“Sam, I think I've got it,” Jacob's voice sounded over the radio.

Just then, the door opened, ending the personal conversation.

“It's opening, Dad,” Sam replied, waiting for the way to be totally clear.

The two teammates continued down the hallway.  They slowed their pace as they observed another closed door, only this one was beaten and battered.

“Whoa!” Daniel exclaimed in a dry tone.  He walked closer and put his hand on the door, gently examining the damage that had been done to it.  He looked at Sam and stated, “This isn't good.”  After attempting to open the door, he opined, “Definitely not good.”

Immediately, Sam contacted her father over the radio, telling him that the door looked as if it had been hit by multiple staff blasts.  Quickly checking the system, Jacob responded that the circuits were fused in a seemingly deliberate attempt to create an overload.

“It's starting to look more and more like a saboteur on board,” Sam replied over the radio to her father.  “Someone damaged the computer and then sealed it off so they couldn't effect repairs.”

“Whatever happened, I can't get you inside,” Jacob advised, confused by what had been happened on the mother ship.

“Colonel, have you been monitoring?” Sam queried.

“Affirmative.  On my way,” Jack responded.  He looked at Friesen and stated, “I have to go blow somethin' up.  Head on back to the pel'tac; see if Jacob needs any help.”

====

“Need the ole colonel, eh?” Jack greeted playfully when he reached Daniel and Sam.

“We know how much you like to blow stuff up,” Daniel replied, working desperately to hide his suggestive smirk.

Jack paused, staring at his lover for a moment before letting out a husky, “Oh, yeah!” He took a deep breath and then walked by his archaeologist.  He attached the C-4 to the door and then asked, “Shall we?”.

Quickly, the teammates went around the corner to give them adequate cover, after which Jack detonated the explosive.

“Gotta love it,” Jack said with a smile as he headed back towards the door.

Daniel and Sam shared a smile, after which Daniel commented, “He lives for these moments.”

Chuckling, the major rounded the corner, with Daniel on her tail.  Joining their team leader, they entered the computer core, where Sam immediately hooked up her laptop and began to study the readouts.

“Where's Doctor Friesen?” Daniel questioned curiously.

“He wanted to go sightseeing, but I sent him back to the flight deck,” Jack answered a bit cryptically.

“What about the engines?” the archaeologist inquired.

“They checked out A-okay.”

“The computer log confirms that this *is* the same ship that Thor was aboard,” Sam reported.

“And?” Jack prompted.

“Well, it could explain a lot, Sir.  Thor's brain was directly linked to this computer.  Anubis may have grossly underestimated the power of an Asgard's mind,” Sam explained.

“And?” the colonel prompted again.

“It's possible that when his mind was linked, Thor was able to rewrite some of the ship's programming, maybe even leave something behind.”

“Like a virus?” Daniel speculated.

“Exactly,” Sam affirmed.  “By interfering with everything from navigation to life support, a complex virus could have driven Anubis to abandon ship.”

“Might explain why the self-destruct got stuck,” Jack added.

“He could have generated a whole new subroutine that sent the ship to our solar system after it was abandoned, like a ... a gift!  I know it sounds a little wacky, Sir, but the more I think about it, the more it seems like the most reasonable explanation.”

“Uh, that seems a little like ...” Daniel began, cocking his head in disbelief without verbalizing the rest of his sentence.

“Wishful thinking?” Jack suggested to his soulmate.

“Or something,” the younger man concurred, raising his eyebrows in supposition.

“Well, if this ship wasn't ultimately intended for us to find, why did it travel halfway across the galaxy all by itself?  For that matter, why didn't the self-destruct just go off?” Sam queried curiously.

“Even if you're right, I mean, I really doubt that a virus is gonna know the difference between us and the Goa'uld,” Daniel replied with a semi-shrug.

“There has to be a way to disable it somehow or Thor wouldn't have sent the ship here,” Sam stated.  Triggering her radio, she called out, “Doctor Friesen, this is Major Carter.  We could use your assistance in the computer core.”

Rolling his eyes when there wasn't a response to the radio call, Jack called out, “Friesen, come in.”

When her CO didn't get any response, either, Sam again clicked her radio, asking, “Dad, have you seen Doctor Friesen?”

“Negative.”

With a grimace, Jack snarked, “You scientists.”

“What does that mean?” Daniel challenged sharply.

“It means you can't keep your curiosity under control,” Jack griped.  “Stay here, I'll find him.”

While Daniel rolled his eyes, arching his head back in disbelief at the remark, and then turned around, Sam looked at her fleeing CO and reminded, “It's a big ship, Sir.”

“I think I know where he went.  He was babbling on about the shield generators.  He wanted to *see* them,” Jack sighed, shaking his head as he walked out through the exit.

“Sightseeing,” Daniel sighed with a nod, now understanding his lover's barb from a minute before.  Then he heard a noise and turned toward the sound. “There it is again.”  Listening more closely, he noted, “It's coming out of the ship's intercom.”

“What is?”

“The sound we keep hearing.  You hear that?  It's a ... there's a pattern to it, almost like distorted words,” the linguist pointed out.

“Let's check it out,” Sam suggested.  A moment later, while continuing to work, she questioned, “Daniel, does it really bother you when the colonel makes digs like that?”

Daniel looked up from what he was doing and shrugged as he answered, “It's just Jack.  It's frustrating, but he's an action guy, Sam.  You know, blowing stuff up, like that door.”

“I know, but still ...”

“Sometimes,” Daniel admitted with a sigh.  “But it's ...”

“... who he is,” Sam completed with a knowing smile.

“How about you?” the archaeologist inquired.

“Me?”

“Jack doesn't always have tact.  You know how much he respects you,” Daniel put forth on behalf of his life partner.

With a smile, Sam nodded and replied, “I know.  It's like you said, Daniel; it's just who he is.”  She chuckled, “Now Doctor Friesen ...”

“Trouble,” Daniel mused.

“He's never been on a Goa'uld mother ship before,” Sam pointed out.  “I can understand why he wanted to see the shields.”

“Apparently Jack didn't.”

Sam bobbed her head a moment and then re-focused on her work.

====

~Blasted scientists,~ Jack cursed silently as he walked.  ~They can't follow orders.  Shields!  He'll need a shield when I get done with ...~  He paused, sensing something was off.  He wasn't sure what exactly, but he had that strange feeling in his gut, and his gut was rarely wrong.  Cautiously, he rounded the corner that went to the room that housed the shield generators.  ~Crap.~

Seeing Friesen's still body on the floor, Jack knelt down and felt for a pulse.  There was none.  The man was dead.

“Daniel, Carter,” Jack whispered into his radio.  “We've got company.  Friesen's dead.”

Instantly, the major went into alert mode, stopping what she was doing and putting her weapon into the ready position.

Daniel looked around cautiously, his hand on his Beretta, though he hadn't yet drawn it out of its holster.

“Jack, who could be on the ship?” the archaeologist inquired.

“No idea.  Head back to the pel'tac.  I'll meet you there.”

Jack next attempted to contact Jacob, but there was no response to his hails.  Purposefully, he headed towards the flight deck, uncertain of what he'd find there.

====

Having met up with Daniel and Sam on the way to the flight deck, Jack and his team cautiously walked forward onto the flight deck where they caught sight of Jacob lying unconscious on the floor.

“Dad!” Sam exclaimed, hurrying over to her father.

~That's not right,~ Daniel thought to himself as he looked out the view screen.  ~We're going down,~ he surmised as Earth became bigger in the window.  “Uh, Jack.”

With Jacob awake now, Sam joined Daniel at the control console and checked the instruments.

“We're decelerating out of orbit, and they've disabled the drive controls.  Sir, we've got no way of altering course.  We're going to crash,” Sam advised.

“Teal'c, come in,” Jack requested as he clicked his radio to communicate.

“O'Neill, you are approaching Earth's atmosphere,” the Jaffa reported from his spot on the bridge of the cargo ship.

“Yeah, you know, we noticed that.  You're gonna have to ring us outta here.”

“Standing by,” Teal'c acknowledged, getting up from his pilot seat and heading for the ring transporter to await word from his teammates that they were ready to come aboard.

“Carter?”

Shaking her head, Sam replied, “I don't think there's anything we can do, Sir.”

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, both watching as the astrophysicist continued in desperation to stop the ship's descent toward Earth.

“We've got time.  No pressure.”

Daniel glanced at his lover, who just shrugged in response.  Jack was always so poised in the face of imminent doom.  Part of it was just his defense mechanism, finding it easier to deal with potential death by laughing at it instead of worrying about it.

Regretfully, Sam advised, “It's no use.  I estimate impact between five-hundred and a thousand miles west-southwest of Alaska.”

“Sam?” Daniel called out in concern.

Nodding, Sam affirmed, “The impact will be massive.”

“Tidal wave?” the archaeologist surmised.

“Probably.”

“Raise the shields; set inertial dampening to maximum.  That way the ship should survive in one piece,” Jacob instructed.

“Done.  That's all I can do,” Sam advised the others.

“Teal'c, we're heading to the ring room,” Jack informed the Jaffa.  Not getting an answer, he hesitated, sensing something was wrong.  “Wait.”  Stopping and clicking on his radio, he called out, “Teal'c.”

“O'Neill, I have been attacked by Jaffa from the mother ship.”

The colonel grimaced and then questioned, “What's your situation?”

“They are no longer a threat,” Teal'c glanced over at the three dead Ninja Jaffa lying on the cold floor of the cargo ship, “but the ship has been damaged.  The crystals that allow us to receive ring transmissions have been destroyed, and there is insufficient time to dock aboard the mother ship.”

Staring out at the view screen as the Goa'uld vessel continued downward, Jack responded dryly, “Well, I guess we're goin' in.”  He looked over at his lover and smiled.  **Love you, Angel.**

**I love you, too.**

**We'll be okay.**

**I know.**

“Brace for impact,” Jack ordered somewhat lightly.  Seeing the stares in his direction, he quipped, “I always wanted to say that.”

“It's not a bad idea, Sir,” Sam responded.

“Everyone find a nice, cozy place to settle in,” Jack suggested, looking back at the command chair.

“That's not the ideal spot,” Daniel stated upon seeing his soulmate walking towards the chair.

“I was thinking how the captain always goes down with his ship,” Jack replied.

“You're a colonel, not a captain,” Daniel reminded.  He looked over and saw Sam heading for the sleeping area.  There were a couple of corners there would make it a good spot to wait for the impact.  “There!” he suggested, pointing to a spot on the other side of the vessel, one that was conveniently out of sight of the other two people on board.

Jack followed his lover over to the spot and sat down.  Before he could settle in, though, he found himself to be the recipient of a rather long and delightfully deep kiss of passion.

“Just in case,” Daniel said when the kiss ended.  His lips were still within an inch of his Love's.  They were so close.  How he wanted to make love right now, but they couldn't.  If they were alone, that's what they'd do.  He was sure of it.  “Jack ...”

“We're going to be okay.  We'll splash down, and then we wait for the rescue.”

“They'll be able track us.”

“Hammond's on it,” Jack spoke confidently.  He brought his right hand to caress his soulmate's cheek.  “This time tomorrow morning, we'll be home.”

“I hope so.”

“I know so,” Jack spoke with a smile.  The lovers leaned their foreheads together in a sign of their eternal love.  It was a physical manifestation of their nation of two.  “I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, Jack.”

“Carter, how long?” Jack shouted out after he and Daniel pulled apart slightly.

“Four minutes, Sir,” Sam replied loudly.

“So, about that scientist remark,” Daniel began as he settled down next to his lover and prepared to wait for the impact.

“Tell me I'm wrong,” Jack challenged, though his tone was light.  “Friesen just *had* to see those shields, and he couldn't wait until we made sure the ship was secured.”

“Maybe,” Daniel replied.  “But maybe he thought they could have been damaged.”

“Maybe,” Jack agreed.  “But that wasn't his reason.  If it had been, we would have checked them out.  He was just curious.”

“And if you knew there was an arsenal of big, huge, honkin' weapons on the ship, wouldn't you have wanted to seem them?”

“The weapons we need.”

“We need shields.”

“You're not going to let this go, are you?”

“Sure, I am.  In about three minutes,” Daniel responded, smiling shyly afterwards.

Jack reached out and took Daniel's hand, squeezing it gently one time.  The two gazed into each other's eyes.  Eyes of Godiva-like chocolate assured Daniel that their nation of two was strong and would never end.  At the same, eyes that lit up like a blue sky told Jack just how much he was loved and needed.  They spoke words that Daniel often had a hard time expressing verbally.  Words were sometimes difficult, but his eyes were his soul and said all that needed to be said.

The minutes passed and then Sam called out, “Thirty seconds to impact.”

Jack put his arm around Daniel, tugging him close to him.  There really wasn't that much danger from the impact itself, unless the ship sprung a leak.  Still, any chance to hold his lover was worth taking.

“Always and forever, Angel.”

“Forever and always, My Silver Fox,” Daniel replied as he twisted around slightly so that he could both nestle into Jack and shield him, just as Jack was trying to do the same in his own way.

With a thunderous sound, the mother ship slammed into the Pacific Ocean and headed downwards.  Daniel slipped out of Jack's hold and rolled a few feet, while Jack was tossed to the right.

Quickly, Jack scrambled over to his lover, who nodded that he was okay.  The lights went out, darkening the interior of the vessel except for some dim emergency lighting.

“Do you think we'll hit the bottom?”

“Unless rocks stop us,” Jack answered.

The two crawled back to the corner to wait for the ship to settle.

“Sam, you guys okay?” Daniel shouted.

“We're okay,” Sam answered.  “You?”

“We're fine.”

“Carter, how long until this thing hits bottom?” Jack shouted, rearranging his P-90 for comfort.

“Not long, Sir.”

In a hushed tone, Jack commented to his lover, “We've gone through worse.”

Looking around, Daniel agreed, “A lot worse.”

Feeling the spaceship coming to a halt, Jack stood up and said, “Now we wait.  Piece of cake.”

Daniel reached up, taking the older man's hand and allowing himself to be helped up.  He didn't need it, but he loved any excuse to touch, or be touched by, his Love.

“So now what?” the archaeologist asked he and Jack met up with Sam and Jacob on the flight deck.

“I need to check the ship's systems,” Sam responded.  Seeing her CO's questioning look, she elaborated, “We need to make sure the ventilation system continues to work.”

“Ah, air,” Jack replied with understanding.

“And it could get very cold in here.”

“Get on it,” Jack ordered.  Looking around, he commented, “Where's the galley?  I'm starved.”

“That's nothing new,” Daniel teased, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a power bar.  He tossed it over to his colonel and said, “Have to make sure you keep up your strength.”

“Thanks.”  Jack let out a smile as he unwrapped the bar.  Then he seemed to remember that he and Daniel weren't alone.  “Jacob?”

“I'm fine,” the Tok'ra replied, having sat down to wait for his symbiote to repair his battered body.

Daniel pulled out another power bar and began to munch on it.  Now that Jack had mentioned it, he could feel the hunger of an empty stomach.  In truth, he wished Jack hadn't said anything.  He realized now that it had been almost twenty-four hours since they'd eaten anything.

“Jack, I'm going to go see if Sam needs any help,” Daniel stated, seeing a nod of acknowledgement from his lover.

====

“Hey,” Daniel greeted.

“Hey,” Sam replied, though she didn't look up.

“Anything I can do?”

“Maybe,” the blonde acknowledged.

As he waited, Daniel began to thumb through a vast volume of engineering information and schematics.  It was foreign to him, but he decided it might not be a bad idea to refresh his brain on some of the basics of how a Goa'uld mother ship ran.  From time to time, he'd studied it before, though nothing this technical; just the basics.

After some time had passed, Sam called out, “Daniel, I could use your help now.”

“Sure,” Daniel responded, getting up from the floor, papers and maps still in his right hand.  “What do you want me to do?”

“Well, we need to get the life support online.  We have enough air to last us for a day or so, but we don't know how long we'll be down here.”

“NASA tracked us, right?” Daniel queried.

“I'm sure they did.”

“I wish you sounded more confident,” the archaeologist commented.

“They tracked us,” the major stated strongly.

“Thanks.”

The two friends shared a chuckle, but then it was time to get down to business.

“Okay, open that panel ...” Sam began, glad to have her friend there to help out.

====

After a while, Jack joined Daniel and Sam, insisting that they take a break.  He didn't often have to make sure his second-in-command ate, but he did this time.

“Sir, I really should finish this,” Sam stated.

“Carter, we're not going to die in the next half-hour are we?”

“No, Sir.”

“Then take fifteen and eat.  We have time,” the colonel insisted.

Sam nodded and asked, “How's my dad doing?”

“He's resting,” Jack answered.

--

“What's the movie?” Jack asked a few minutes later as he and his team ate their MREs, cold as they were.

“Movie?” Daniel echoed curiously.

“There should be a movie,” the older man remarked casually.

“'Titanic'?” the archaeologist questioned.

“Too mushy,” Jack responded, staring at the food he was eating and wondering how it could be even remotely described as food.  “Carter would have to dye her hair, but she's busty enough to ...”

Sam almost choked on what she was eating, causing Jack to move over and pat her on the back while asking, “You okay?”

“Fine, Sir,” the blonde responded nervously, coughing even as she answered.

Seeing Daniel staring agape at him, Jack shrugged and returned to his spot.  He took another bite of his food and, while still munching, continued his thought.

“Daniel tells me that all the time, don't you, Daniel?”

“Tell you *what*?” Daniel asked in a drawn out and cautious tone.

“That Carter's a woman.”

“Thanks for noticing, Sir,” Sam stated dryly.

“You're welcome,” Jack responded nonchalantly.

“How about 'The Poseidon Adventure'?” Sam suggested, wanting to move the conversation on as fast as possible.

“There you go!” Jack exclaimed excitedly.  “Who knows? Maybe we're upside down and don't know it.”

Sam chuckled at the thought, knowing it was an improbability.  She didn't really care.  It was just nice to take a break from the seriousness of their situation.  That's one of the things she respected most about her commanding officer.  It was his unusual way of dealing with a crisis.  They could all be dead in forty-eight hours, but here they were, having a conversation about movies, just as if they were on break at the SGC.

Suddenly, Jack began making a noise.  It was somewhat musical, but deep and throaty.

“Jack, what are you doing?” Daniel asked.

“Ah, c'mon, Daniel.  It's Jaws!”

“If Jaws shows up, I'll make sure you're in front of me,” the younger man quipped.

“You'd let a man-eating shark have me for dinner?” Jack questioned, as if offended.

“You're more Jaws' type.”

Jack considered the statement and then replied, “Okay, I'll bite.  Why am I more Jaws' type than you?”

“You're noisy and all bite,” Daniel teased, causing Sam to snicker.

Hearing the snicker, Jack quipped, “Careful, Carter.  I'm sure there's a woman-eating shark around here somewhere.”

====

As evening came and the ship had been on the ocean bottom for almost twelve hours, Jack was sitting on the steps leading to the throne chair.  Jacob was nearby, cradling his left arm close to his body.  He'd rested for most of the day, prompting Jack to suspect that his injuries were more severe than the Tok'ra had let on.  If it had been minor, Jacob would have been assisting Sam.  He certainly wouldn't be this quiet or sitting so gingerly.

“How ya doing?” the colonel asked.

“Aside from the burns, I got a broken collarbone.  Selmak's working on it,” Jacob answered without looking over at Jack.

“You know, for guys with no life signs, those Jaffa did a bit of damage,” Jack stated.

“They must have been trapped in the section of the ship that was sealed off.  To stay alive as long as possible, they would have gone into a deep state of kelno'reem, slowing down their heart rate to one or two beats per minute.  In that condition, the cargo ship's sensors weren't sensitive enough to pick them up.”

“Could there be more of them?” Jack inquired hesitantly.

“I doubt it.  My guess is the three that attacked me were on the computer core level.  I let 'em out when I opened the door to allow Sam inside.”

“Well, we've got life support operating at fifty percent,” Sam reported as she and Daniel walked onto the pel'tac.  “It won't be too comfortable in here, but at least we won't freeze to death ... right away,” the major informed her CO and her father.

“Can we fix the engines?” Jack asked hopefully.

“Not a chance, and that's not our only problem,” Sam began.  “I found evidence of structural damage on the lower levels, probably a result of the impact.”

“How bad?” Jacob questioned.

“I'm not sure.  The exterior pressure's pretty severe, especially on the lower levels of this ship.  It wouldn't take much to compromise the hull,” Sam replied.

“Well, help'll be on the way,” Jack said with conviction.

“There's also the matter of the self-destruct sequence frozen halfway through its countdown,” Sam informed her CO.

“You haven't turned that off yet?” Jack asked.

“No, Sir, and I'm not sure we should even try.”

“Why not?” Daniel questioned dryly.

“Well, first the door to the computer core was locked, and then when the Jaffa tried to blast their way in, the entire section was sealed off, and life support was shut down,” Sam answered.

“By who?” Jacob asked.

“It's whom,” Jack corrected.

“Actually, Sir, it's more like what,” Sam interjected.

“What?” Daniel queried, confused as to where this conversation was going.

“The virus Thor left behind,” Sam stated.  “What if it was trying to defend itself?

“So, Thor leaves behind a virus that forces Anubis to abandon his ship and then this virus defends itself against the Jaffa Anubis left behind to blow this ship?” Daniel surmised.

“Or maybe it was left here so we could find it.”  Looking at her CO, Sam stated, “Sir, with your permission, I'd like to return to the computer core.”

“I'll go with you,” Jack stated.  As he passed his lover, he covertly patted his lover's rear while communicating, **Don't let any sharks in while I'm gone.**

**Don't worry, Babe.  I'm the only one who gets to take a bite out of you.**

Jack paused, looking back and staring at his Love.  His brown eyes asked a question that was filled with hope and anticipation.  They shone brightly when the blue eyes he adored so much responded with a seductive longing that was a promise of what would happen once the couple got home.

~Oh, yeah!  I hope they rescue us soon,~ the colonel thought with longing.

====

Walking down one of the corridors that led to the computer core, Jack and Sam were surprised to see water seeping through one of the doors.  After contacting Jacob, a hull breach was discovered on the engineering level, but the two teammates weren't anywhere near that area.

“If the water isn't from the hull breach, where's it coming from?” a concerned Daniel asked somewhat hesitantly.

“It looks like seawater penetrated into the central access shaft, and now the pressure's pushing it up through the core of the ship.  We're flooding from the inside,” Jacob deduced.

“So, what do we do?” the archaeologist asked, looking around the room for some magical solution to the problem.

Before Jacob could answer, Sam relayed some distressing news.  The door behind her and Jack had closed, locking the two of them in the compartment.  The move was automatic, a protective action incorporated into the ship's design to prevent the flood water from spreading.

“Can't you open the doors?” Daniel asked Jacob anxiously.

“I'm trying,” the still-weakened Tok'ra replied as he worked the ship's controls.

At the same, Sam was trying to bypass the controls locally, but she wasn't having any luck.

As panic spread within him, Daniel told Jacob, “I'm going down there.”

“To do what, Daniel?  The local controls are locked out,” Jacob replied.

“I have to do something,” the archaeologist insisted adamantly.

“Like what?  Standing on the other side of the door while Jack and Sam die?” Jacob questioned pointedly, causing Daniel to take a deep breath and reconsider his action for the moment.  Over the radio, Jacob advised, “Jack, I'm going try to find a back door to the program.”

With the room waist-high in water, Jack responded, “How long's that gonna take?  I'm looking at some major shrinkage here.”

“I don't know.  This is kind of a unique situation.  Give me a few minutes.”

Looking at Sam, Jack asked, “How long do you figure it'll take for this thing to fill up?”

“A few more minutes,” Sam answered.

“Yep.”  Jack looked around, hoping to find some kind of escape, but there was none.  “He'll figure out something.”

“I don't know, Sir.  The ...”  Sam saw Jack's stern expression and nodded, saying, “Yes, Sir.”

--

“Jacob ...”

“Daniel, I'm trying,” Jacob responded anxiously.  Try as he might, he couldn't get the doors to open.  “I can't get it.”

“You have to!” the archaeologist ordered in a firm tone that surprised the Tok'ra, though he didn't respond and simply kept trying to get the ship's controls to respond.

--

**Danny?  Can you hear me?** Jack called out in his mind.  The couple had a rare, unexplainable ability to communicate.  It was a gift that continued to grow in scope, but they never knew for sure when it would work, unless they were in the same room.  **Danny?**

Jack walked around in the water, saying nothing verbally.  To Sam, who was now having to move her arms and legs to stay afloat, he just looked like he was searching for a miracle.  Silently, though, he continued to call out, but he didn't get a response.

~Crap.~

--

**Jack?  Please answer me, Jack!** Daniel requested.  He was pacing the flight deck, trying to give Jacob some space.  The archaeologist felt like his skin was crawling with bugs.  He wanted to run and pull open the doors that sealed his Love into a drowning pool, but he knew he couldn't open the doors on his own.  ~We need Teal'c,~ he thought in despair.  **Jack?  I ... Jack, please hear me.**

Frustrated, Daniel returned to Jacob's side, hoping to find a way to save the one person he needed more than anyone in this world.

====

With the water now deep enough that he, too, had to tread water, Jack quipped, “Next time we crash our brand new mother ship, what do you say we do it in the tropics, huh?”

“Actually, Sir, it wouldn't make a difference.  At this depth, all water is ice cold,” Sam reported.

“Shallower water, then -- shallower.”

“Yes, Sir.  I'll keep that in mind.”

“Or we could just not crash at all.  It would be nice to keep our nice new mother ship for more than a couple of hours,” Jack stated while removing some of his gear to allow him to move better.

“Yes, Sir.”

~Come on, Jacob, do something!~ the colonel urged in his mind.  He sighed and then looked at his 2IC.  “Carter, what's the likelihood that there are other breaches?”

“Dad would see them.”

“Okay, so this is the only one now.  What about later?”

Sam was working hard at her paddling now, the water in the sealed corridor being at such a high level that she was in danger of going under at any moment.  She looked at Jack and knew what he was really asking.

“The odds are that this is the only breach.  If another one occurs, the ship will seal it off, like it's doing here, so ...”

“Carter!”

“Unless there's a breach in the immediate area of the flight deck, Daniel should be safe until help arrives,” Sam assured.

“And Jacob, too,” Jack added, wanting Sam to have some comfort, too.

Sam nodded, grateful for the addition to her statement, and stated confidently, “Help should be here soon.”

“But not before I'm all wrinkly like a prune, right?”

Silence was Jack's answer, and he'd know it without asking.  He knew the score.  Hammond would be working with the Navy to get a Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle.  That would be the only chance, but he also knew it would take some time to get the DSRV in the area.  However, that presented a problem.  He needed to know there was a solution to that problem.  He needed Daniel to be safe.

“Carter, how do they hook up?”

“Sir?”

“The DSRV and this ship: how do they hook up?”

~A DSRV makes sense,~ Sam thought about what her CO had asked.  For a moment, she reviewed what she knew about the mother ship's design and then answered, “The escape pods, Sir.  They're jettisoned through pressurized tubes, so the DSRV should be able to gain access through one of them.”

Jack nodded.  His Daniel would survive, even if he died.  He thought about their pact, a pledge made long ago that the two would always stay together, no matter what.  He'd never blame Daniel if he chose to honor that promise, but he wanted life for his Love.  That was the natural way to feel, to want his better half to continue to breathe and feel.

~Stop the crap, Jack.  You couldn't do it.  If Danny died, you'd be right behind him.  He'll do it.  Jacob, get us out of here!~

Jack's ire was stirring.  For Daniel to live, he had to live.  He knew it with every fiber of his being.

~Dang Tok'ra!  Now is not the time to slack off.  Ya gotta get me out of this fish tank.~

With the water rising more rapidly, Jack was beginning to work as hard as Sam had been at staying afloat and not going under.  There wasn't much room left between the surface of the water and the ceiling.  He wanted to curse, to scream at Jacob's inability to save them, and Daniel, but he couldn't do that to Sam.  She didn't need to hear his rage.

~Now would be a good time, Jacob!~

--

On the flight deck, Daniel was desperately searching for an answer, for something that would rescue Jack and Sam.  He was pacing at that rear of the flight deck.  He looked back at Jacob and then all around the ship.

“Thor?  Thor, if you're there, Jack and Sam need you.  They're going to die, Thor.”  Daniel's plea drained him for a moment.  He looked over and saw Jacob, still working on the controls and yet standing like a doomed man.  ~He can't do it.~  Though momentarily feeling defeated, Daniel suddenly sprung forward, needing to keep trying.  He couldn't just stand around.  Anxiously, he approached Jacob and began to speak, though his idea was scattered and disjointed at first.  “What ... we could ... we could blow the door.”

“No,” Jacob refuted.  “In such a confined space, the concussion would kill them.”

“They'll be dead if we don't!  We can't leave them in there to drown, Jacob!  We have to do some...”

“What do you think I'm trying to do, Daniel?” Jacob retaliated angrily.

“I know, but we need to do something ... *now*!”

--

“Your dad's cutting it a little clooose,” the colonel complained, drawing out the last word as he sank under the water.

At that moment, the water swept over both Jack's and Sam's heads, causing the colonel's last word to be gulped.  Their lives would be over just as soon as they could no longer hold their breaths.

--

With the water in the room now above Jack's and Sam's heads, Jacob emotionally apologized over the radio that he was sorry.

~Sorry?  He's sorry?~ Daniel cried within his soul.  ~I should have gone down there.  I could have done something,~ he bewailed as his heart began to break.

Daniel's anguish was interrupted by a pinging noise that sounded over the intercom.  About this time, Jacob noticed that the security protocol's had been erased.  Miraculously, the door opened, allowing water to begin seeping out of corridor and leaving Jack and Sam both gasping for air and coughing, but very much alive.  With the water receding, SG-1's team leader took hold of his 2IC's jacket, making sure she had a chance to regain control of her body.

At that moment, Teal'c dropped down from the DSRV access hatch, followed by a seaman.

“Jack, Sam, come in,” Jacob called out.

“Jacob, this is Teal'c.  We are on board the ship.”

“Teal'c, it's Daniel.  Jack and Sam are in trouble,” the semi-relieved archaeologist reported.

“They're on the main computer level,” Jacob added.

Immediately, Teal'c ordered the seaman to stay where he was and headed towards his teammates' location.

“Jacob, I'm going down,” Daniel advised, turning and refusing to be stopped this time; that is, until he heard a voice that made him walk back to where the Tok'ra was standing.

“Dad, this is Sam,” the major began as both she and Jack regained their composure from the near drowning.

Daniel was on pins and needles.  He needed to hear the words.

“We're okay!” Sam exclaimed, though she was still trying to catch her breath after the near drowning.

“Yes!” Daniel exclaimed, so excited that he patted Jacob on the back.  “Oh, sorry,” he said, realizing he'd hit the Tok'ra, who was still suffering from the broken collarbone.

“Sam, you really had me worried,” Jacob told his daughter.

“Tell him I'm sorry for everything I was thinking when I was under water,” Jack said as he retrieved his gear.

Sam smiled and reported, “Colonel O'Neill says he's sorry.”

“For what?” a clueless Jacob asked.

“I'll tell you later,” Jack stated, gently slapping Sam on the shoulder for actually relaying the message.

More seriously, Sam clicked her radio again and appreciatively spoke, “Whatever you did, it worked.”

Jacob stared at Daniel in confusion and then replied, “I didn't do anything.  The security protocol erased itself.”

“Wait a minute.  How is that possible?” Sam asked, both curious and concerned.

“I don't know,” Jacob answered.

“Who cares?  Let's go!” Jack stated, happy to be free as he walked away from the area.

--

“They're okay, Daniel,” Jacob stated, a huge smile on his face.

“Yeah,” Daniel sighed contentedly.  “Uh, Jacob, about earlier ...”

“Daniel, we were both worried.  They're safe, and that's the important thing.”

Grateful for the understanding, the archaeologist nodded and waited for his one true love and his friend to get to the flight deck.

====

Jack and Sam hadn't gotten far when they came upon Teal'c.

“O'Neill, MajorCarter.  Are you well?”

“Ah, a little wet, a little chilly.  Knee gets a little stiff in cold water, you know?” Jack quipped.

“We have a rescue submarine docked with the ship.”

“We can't leave yet,” Sam asserted.

“Yes, we can,” Jack insisted.

“No, Sir.  Something else is definitely going on here.”

“Carter, why is it you always say stuff like that?” Jack questioned.  “Can't it ever be simple?”

“Sorry, Sir, but we need to find out what's happening,” Sam maintained assertively.

“Of course, we do,” Jack sighed.  “Teal'c, get back to the DSRV and give our status to Hammond.  We'll be on the bridge when you're done.”

====

“Hey!” Daniel greeted when Jack and Sam walked onto the flight deck.  He smiled at Sam, who headed over to her father for a warm hug.  “You guys okay?”

“Just a little damp,” Jack answered.  **You okay?**

**I am now,** Daniel answered.  **Jack, this is going to sound crazy, but I think Thor is on this ship.**

**Thor?**

**Yeah.**

**What makes you think that?**

**I ... I asked him to save you,** Daniel admitted, staring at his lover with great sincerity.

**I'm glad he listened to you, but let's see what Carter comes up with,** Jack suggested.  **She's positive something weird is going on here.**

**Weird or ...**

**... or something,** both men communicated, smiling at each other until Sam made a comment about finding her laptop so they could investigate the strange sounds that had been heard over the intercom throughout their stay on the Goa'uld vessel.

====

By the time Sam had retrieved her laptop and then began to study the intercom transmission, Teal'c had joined his teammates and Jacob on the bridge.

“The ole meteor chestnut, eh,” Jack remarked after Teal'c had told the group about the cover story that had gone out about the mother ship's entrance into Earth's orbit and subsequent crash into the Pacific Ocean.

“General Hammond was communicating with various governments about the meteor.”

“I'll bet Chekov loved that,” Jack mused.

“He had not as yet spoken with ColonelChekov.  He was scheduled to do so a few minutes after I left,” Teal'c responded.

“I'm *so* glad I don't have Hammond's job,” the colonel said with a mock shiver.

“It's definitely a voice,” Sam called out, getting everyone's attention.  “Give me a second; I'll see if I can clean it up.”

“Why would it be so distorted?” Daniel asked.  ~I know he heard me.  This isn't a program.~

“Anubis probably tried to shut it off,” Jacob theorized.

“Carter?” Jack called out expectantly.

“Well, the security program that locked us in that corridor didn't just shut down by itself.”

“You think this virus Thor left in the ship's computer is acting intelligently?” Jacob questioned skeptically.

“If that door hadn't have opened, Colonel O'Neill and I would have drowned,” Sam reminded.

“It knows who you are,” Daniel stated, certain he was right.

“I've got it,” Sam announced.

Over the laptop, the voice of the Asgard leader spoke, “I am using the internal communication system to synthesize my voice.”

“Jack, those are the same words Thor spoke when we were being held on the ship,” Daniel recalled.  After a moment, he added, “Jack, it *is* Thor.”

It wasn't that Jack didn't want to believe it, it was just that it didn't make sense to him, at least not yet.

“I think Daniel's right, Sir,” Sam opined.

“I'm getting a headache,” Jack whined.

“Jack, maybe what we've been calling a virus isn't a virus at all,” the archaeologist supposed.  “It's Thor.”

“We got him off the ship months ago,” Jack rebutted.

“Not before Anubis was able to download his mind into the computer core,” Sam noted, totally on board with Daniel's theory.  “Now if his consciousness remained intact, he would be an independent entity operating within the system.”

“His mind took control of the vessel,” Jacob affirmed.

“Way to go, Thor!” Jack exclaimed, now in agreement with his teammates.

“Sir, the Asgard said that Thor was on life support, but there was little chance that he'd come out of it,” the major stated.

“So?”

“We can download him,” Daniel interjected somewhat excitedly.

“Exactly,” Sam concurred.  “If we can download Thor's consciousness from the computer, the Asgard can transfer it into a new cloned body.”

The team had to move fast.  Though the computer core wasn't yet flooded, it was only a matter of time before it was.  An additional complication was that Thor was the only thing keeping the self-destruct on hold.  Removing the Asgard's consciousness would cause the countdown to begin again.  By Teal'c's calculations, the group would have seventeen minutes to escape before the self-destruct detonated.

Jack was slightly hesitant, considering he'd been looking forward to adding the mother ship to the Air Force fleet.

“O'Neill, there will be nothing left to salvage,” Teal'c pointed out about the plan.

“Jack, this ship is never going to fly again.  I'd say having the supreme commander of the Asgard fleet owe you one is more valuable,” Jacob asserted.

“Jack, it's Thor,” Daniel stated, his simple argument all that really needed to be said.

“Yeah.  All right!  Next mother ship, we keep, okay?  Daniel, take Jacob back to the sub; wait for us there.”

“Jack ...”

“Daniel!”

With a glare of objection, Daniel and Jacob headed back to the sub, while Jack, Sam, and Teal'c headed for the computer core to retrieve Thor.

====

“Here he is,” Sam said, having removed a drive from the computer.

Jack looked inside the section where Sam had just removed the briefcase-sized item and asked, “You sure you got all of him in there?  He's a smart guy, you know?”

“The self-destruct has been reactivated,” Teal'c stated, hearing a Goa'uld voice over the intercom.

“Let's go,” the colonel ordered, serious and in charge.

The team's exit was complicated by a closed door in the corridor.  The flooding was spreading more rapidly now and all of the other passageways into that section were already flooded.  There wasn't any other way out.

“Jack, I'm going back to the pel'tac and see if I can figure something out,” Jacob stated over his radio.

“Negative.  Get that sub to a safe distance; we'll think of something,” Jack stated confidently.

“Understood,” Jacob acknowledged.

“Jack, I'm going to ...”

“... get off this ship.  *Now*, Daniel,” Jack ordered.  He took a calming breath and said, “We'll find a way.  There's always an 'or'.  Now, *please*, go with Jacob and make sure that sub gets clear.”

“Okay,” Daniel replied.  “Jack, I'll see you soon.”

Daniel gave Jacob a look and then the two ran down the corridor towards the DSRV.

Jack paused, knowing what his lover was saying, but he didn't have time to think about it.  Instead, he needed to focus on finding a way to safety, thereby assuring that Daniel remained safe.

“I got nothing,” Jack sighed after a moment of hard thinking.

Fortunately, Sam did have an idea, one that Teal'c immediately picked up on.  The only other way off the computer core level was via the death gliders, though they really didn't know if that would work or not since the gliders weren't designed to operate under water.

“Like I said, there's always an 'or',” the colonel chirped happily.  Wanting to ensure his lover followed orders, he decided to relay the plans.  “Jacob, Daniel, what's your status?” he questioned over the radio.

“We're at the sub,” Daniel replied.

“Good.  Get it clear.”

“Jack, I can still ...”

“Daniel, we have a plan.  We're going to take a couple of gliders,” Jack spoke both casually and confidently.

“Do they work under water?”

“No,” Jacob interjected, getting on his own radio to voice his concerns.

“They're our only shot, Dad,” Sam responded.

Reluctantly, Jacob acquiesced and advised, “Um, you'll have to activate the compartment's force field to stop the flooding.  Now those systems went offline after the crash.”

“I know.  I'm trying to reroute the power from here,” Sam answered.

“What's going on?” Daniel asked Jacob, not quite understanding what had just been discussed.

“Glider bays have force fields that allow ships to go in and out without having to depressurize the compartment.  If she can't get it online, she won't be able to open the doors without flooding the hanger.”

“Right,” Daniel acknowledged.

“Jacob, I want you to get that sub to a minimum safe distance,” Jack ordered for the third time.  ~Doesn't anyone know I'm in command here?~

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, we'll be home before you.  Go!”

--

Jacob was about to embark the DSRV when Daniel stopped him.

“Wait, isn't there another way?” Daniel asked rhetorically.  “I ... when I was looking at the schematics earlier, I saw an auxiliary control panel on this deck.  I could reroute the power from there.”

“Daniel, since when do you know how to reroute power?” Jacob asked in disbelief.

“Since you left me on the pel'tac that time and told me to fly the cargo ship.  I didn't know what I was doing then anymore than ...”

“... than you know what you're doing now?” Jacob questioned.

“Look.  I read a lot.  I may not understand the science of it like Sam does, or how you do, but we have to try something to help them,” Daniel argued.  “There was definitely a control panel on this deck.”

“Where?”

“Get the sub clear,” Daniel ordered as he began to hurry away, hoping and praying that he was remembering correctly.  ~Jack isn't going to be happy about me doing this, but at least he'll be alive to yell at me.~

“Daniel!  *Daniel!*” Jacob shouted to no avail.  “Let's go,” he instructed the seaman.  ~Jack isn't going to like this.  I can hear him now: 'Jacob!'  Like I can stop Daniel from doing anything.~

====

Sam continued to rearrange the crystal modules as Jack and Teal'c looked on.  Jack was as calm as could be expected until Jacob contacted him over the radio.

“Jacob, will you please get out of here?”

“We are, but Daniel went off to try to get the force field online from a relay panel on this deck.”

“What?” Jack spouted angrily.

“I couldn't stop him,” Jacob reported.  “Listen ... good luck!”

~Oh, for crying out loud.  Why does he keep doing things like that?~ Jack groaned inwardly.

====

Daniel headed for the auxiliary control panel.  As expected, the door leading to its position was sealed.  Quickly, he removed his vest and jacket.

~It's just water.  You're going for a swim; you love swimming.~

Then Daniel entered a code on the panel that closed the door he'd just entered through.  Hurrying over to the already-shut door, he inputted all but the last digit of the code that would open the shut door.

~It'll be a piece of cake.  Just focus.  You've done this before.  No!  Don't think about that.  Focus on your job.~

The archaeologist hopped a bit as he took off his shoes and socks and took hold of the side column to help get himself in place.  He took another moment to prepare, and then he pressed the last code that would open the door.

Instantly, water began to pour into the closed-off corridor.

Daniel waited, his chest heaving in and out.

~Control.  Be controlled.  Deep breaths; blow out the air,~ Daniel told himself.  When the water was chest high, he knew it was time.  “Okay.  I can do this.  Stay in the now.”

Blowing out more air, Daniel slid into the water and under the door.  He was now inside the auxiliary control room.  He'd heard the warning before entering the water.  There was now less than seven minutes before the countdown.  Everything hinged on his success in doing something that was alien to him.

Even as he swam over to the power unit, Daniel wondered what the heck he thought he was doing.  Yes, he'd looked at the schematics and he'd studied the operation of Goa'uld ships, but it was always just in passing.  He'd never studied it like he had his college courses.

~I have to remember.~

Reaching the unit, Daniel visualized images he'd seen and conversations he'd had with Sam about how the power unit worked.  Immediately, he began altering the placements of crystals.  He put one in his mouth as he worked, and then he held another in his hand.

~Think, Jackson.  Where do these two go?~

After a momentary panic attack, Daniel regained his calm.  He swam to the other side of the unit and finished the job, moving around even more crystal modules in addition to the two he'd brought over from the other side.

~That's it!  I hope.~

Making sure the entire power unit was steady and that the modules were secure, Daniel initiated his changes.  His heart was beating so fast as he pressed the buttons.  When they lit up, he felt relief.

~It worked.  I think.~

--

Suddenly, the panel Sam was working on lit up and she reported, “force field just came online.”

“Nice!” Jack praised.

“It wasn't me,” Sam responded.

“DanielJackson,” Teal'c surmised.

“Way to go, Daniel!” the colonel praised.  ~How'd he know what to do?~

====

Still underwater, Daniel swam through the corridors to the ring transporter.  He activated the rings and hurriedly swam over to be in position to be taken to his desired location.  Within seconds, the device engaged.  A few seconds later, he was on the computer core level of the ship with the water that was transported with him knocking him to the floor.  Gasping for air, he struggled for a moment before getting up and running towards the glider bay.

“He should be here in a second,” Jack stated confidently about his lover, though his heart was pounding from the anxiety he felt.  ~You'd better be here, Danny.  We don't have time to waste.~

Just as Sam was able to open the glider bay doors, Daniel called out, “Wait!  Wait!”

“You almost missed the flight,” Jack teased.

“Oh,” Daniel responded.  “It was the weather  -- heavy showers.”

Jack smiled as he patted his lover on the arm and said, “I knew you'd make it.”

Daniel actually smiled.  The feel of his soulmate's hand on his body had just sent a shock-like wave through him.  It was magnetic and energizing.  He was alive.  As long as Jack was with him, he could feel things unimaginable to him otherwise.  The jolt zapped his heart with love and his soul with the promise of forever.

“Daniel, let's go,” Jack beckoned when his Heart hadn't budged from his spot.

“Oh, yeah, sorry,” the soaking wet archaeologist replied as he sprinted to catch up with the others.

“How'd you do that?” Jack asked as they hurried toward the gliders.

“Do what?”

“That -- what you just did,” the older man responded without really clarifying his question.  Realizing he needed to say more, he added, “Jacob said it was flooded.”

“I held my breath,” Daniel answered succinctly.

“You don't look blue,” Jack quipped, taking another moment to simply enjoy his lover's presence.

“You weren't there when I ringed out,” the younger man spoke wryly.  “I never realized how heavy water can be,” he stated, referring to how the transported water knocked him down after the rings' action.

“Wet.”

“Uh, yes, very,” the younger man agreed.  “Do you think we're going to get out of here?”

“We're about to find out,” Jack answered, stopping in front of one of the gliders.  “Daniel, you're with me,” he ordered with a tiny smile.

“We're, uh ... getting in ... those?” Daniel asked.

“Unless you want to stay here,” Jack responded.

“Uh ... no,” the younger man replied, jumping into the co-pilot's seat in one of the gliders while his lover assumed the pilot's position.

At the same time, Teal'c prepared to pilot the second glider, with Sam climbing into the co-pilot's seat of that craft.

“Opening glider bay doors,” Sam reported, watching as the doors opened.

“Daniel,” Jack began.

“What?”

“You never fail to amaze me with your talents.  Thanks.”

Daniel smiled and quipped, “I just don't want to train a new colonel, that's all.”

Jack shook his head and prepared to launch the craft.  With the force field in place, the two gliders took off successfully, though the ride was a little bumpy at first.

“Hang on!” Jack yelled.

Behind the gliders, an explosion occurred.  Just as they flew out of the water and into the air, a large explosion erupted from the ocean as the mother ship burst into nothingness.

“Everybody all right?” Jack asked over the radio.

“Yes, Sir, we're fine,” Sam answered.

“This is Jacob.  We're a little seasick down here, but we're in one piece, too,” the Tok'ra reported from DSRV.

“Glad to hear it,” Jack replied.

“What about Daniel?” Jacob asked.

“All members of SG-1 present and accounted for,” Jack responded with pride. “Teal'c, take the lead.”

“So, Daniel.  In all the years we've been saving the world, you've never been in a glider, right?” Jack asked his lover.

“Uh, yes, I think so.  I mean, no, I haven't.”

“So, first time in a death glider,” Jack mused mischievously.

“That would be right,” Daniel acknowledged, suspicious of the comment.

“You know you didn't follow my orders.”

“Never do,” Daniel teased.

“Oh!  Well ...”  Jack initiated a roll, startling Daniel, who grabbed at the glider hatch.  With a smirk, the colonel called out, “Maybe next time you'll reconsider.”

“Jack, if I had, you'd be dead.”

Jack thought for a moment and then shrugged as he put the glider back on a regular path.

“Good point.”

====

“How's that for a landing?” Jack asked his lover as he brought the death glider to a halt at Peterson Air Force Base.

“Good,” Daniel replied.  “I just hope no one saw us.”

“What?  This old weather balloon?” the colonel replied lightheartedly.  “It's too early.”  He studied his Love's face and noticed something he hadn't had a chance to see before.  “Danny, what happened back there?”

“I already told you, Jack.”

“You went for a swim.  I didn't know you could hold your breath like that.”

“I got lucky,” Daniel stated tersely, walking past his soulmate and going over to meet up with Teal'c and Sam.

~No.  It's more than that, Daniel, a lot more,~ Jack told himself thoughtfully before joining his team and heading for the Mountain to debrief.

====

“I love you,” Jack spoke softly into his life partner's ear as they enjoyed a brief dance around the floor.

The lovers had been home for hours.  The two had made love almost before making it inside the home.  They'd taken a bath together and then slept for a while.  While Daniel regrouped by reading one of his archaeology publications, Jack took care of some business.  It looked like tomorrow he'd have a nice surprise for his Love, but that was secondary to getting through this day.

After eating a casual dinner, Jack and Daniel now had all of Friday night to just rejoice in being together.

“You saved the day ... again.”

“I didn't do that much,” Daniel refuted, pulling away from his lover and walking over to the fire, kneeling down on his haunches to get a close up feel of its roaring warmth.

Jack was looking at pure beauty in his opinion.  Daniel was wearing a maroon shirt, one that fit his body perfectly.  The top three buttons were undone, showing of his neck which Jack craved to see and kiss with regularity.  The color worked well with the khaki pants he was wearing.  They were tight fitting, showing off the archaeologist's assets to Jack's delight.  Daniel didn't wear them often.  Tonight was a special occasion.

Clouding the beauty, though, was a secret.  Jack didn't know what it was, but he was intent on finding out.  He wasn't butting in.  Something about the events on the mother ship had triggered a nasty memory for his Love.  Jack was sure of it.  He knew Daniel like a book.  His demeanor and his eyes were working hard to cover it up, but there was pain surrounding them.

Jack walked over, kneeling down just behind his Love.  He ran his right hand along Daniel's arm, gently caressing it.  He placed a kiss, and then another, at the back of the younger man's neck.  Then he twisted around, sitting down in such a way that he was facing the archaeologist's profile.  His hand was still making contact, having rubbed Daniel's back for a moment and now was settled upon the other man's left forearm.

“Daniel, talk to me.”

Daniel blinked.  He started to say something, but nothing came out of his mouth.

“I'm here when you're ready,” Jack assured, his hand sliding down until he took hold of Daniel's hand.  He brought it to his mouth, kissing it as if it were the most priceless thing Jack had ever held.  “No rush.”

Daniel's head dropped, and his eyes closed.  He felt the hand holding his strengthening its hold in support.  Maybe it would be easier if he vocalized the pain.  He sat down on one leg, his other leg stretched out to its side.  He looked at his soulmate and saw patience in his eyes.

“We have all the time in the world, Danny.  Whenever you're ready, I'm here to listen.”

“How about some wine?” the archaeologist suggested.

“Stay,” Jack responded, leaning over for a brief kiss.  “I love you,” he added before getting up to retrieve a bottle of Daniel's favorite wine from St. Julien's.

With the soft sounds of John Tesh instrumentals playing in the background, Jack returned in short time, handing his lover a glass.  He'd also brought out some cheese and crackers, along with some chocolate pretzels, which unfortunately was the only chocolate in the house at the moment.  After taking a few sips, Daniel's eyes closed again, prompting Jack to think the story might not ever get out.

“I was a teenager, thirteen, fourteen maybe, in ... gawd, I don't know, one of those homes.  I'd lost count by then, or at least that's how it felt.  It wasn't anything new.  I was the nerd who loved books, and that didn't go over too well.”

Daniel looked down, the memory very present in his mind.  He wanted not to feel it, but it was there, laughing at him for being so afraid of it, even now.  He finished the rest of his wine in one gulp and held out the glass, hoping that Jack wouldn't argue and would just pour more wine into his glass.  Jack did.  The archaeologist stared at the full glass and started to take another sip, but he stopped.  He needed to tell the story.  It was time to face those demons once and for all.

“The Wallaces had a pool, a big one, like an Olympic-sized one.  I'm not sure why.  They never used it, but their sons did.  They had three -- Kyle, Ben, and Mort.”

“Mort?” Jack asked, thinking it was an odd name and just didn't fit with the other two boys' names.

Daniel just shrugged, not understanding why the youngest child had been given that name.

“Kyle and Ben were seniors.”

“Twins?”

Shaking his head, Daniel explained, “No.  They'd both been held back in school, one or two years each.  I think this was their last shot before being kicked out without diplomas.”

“And Mort?”

“He was younger than me, but he was bigger than me.  It seems odd now that I think about it.  Maybe I missed something back then,” Daniel speculated, getting lost in the potential mystery.

“Danny,” Jack prompted, giving his lover an encouraging nod.

“Kyle and Ben had a ... game they liked to play.  I guess you could say I was their toy.”

Jack didn't like the sound of that, but then he knew that he wouldn't like anything that would be revealed during this conversation.

“Do you know what freediving is?” Daniel questioned.

Jack pursed his lips while he searched his mind for the phrase, but it wasn't anything he'd heard of, at least not by that term.  He shook his head in reply.

“It's, uh, more involved, but when you break down it's just a holding your breath game.  How long can you do it without passing out?  Kyle was manic about it.  He didn't like it that I didn't want to play, but I was ...”

Hearing the silence, Jack interjected, “Choiceless?”

“Yeah,” Daniel affirmed.  “I couldn't fight them.  When I tried, I just ended up with a black eye and some bruises.  Surprise -- the Wallaces didn't care.  Their delinquent sons weren't responsible for my weakness.  I got what I deserved.  Apparently, what I deserved was a corner of the basement and three meals a day.  That was it.  Oh, except for when the social workers were around.  Then I shared Mort's room.”

The archaeologist took a small sip of his wine.  He reached down and took one of the crackers.  He put a piece of cheese on it and stared at the creation.

“This was breakfast.  I actually ate a lot of crackers for breakfast with the Wallaces.  She worked for a cracker distributor and got boxes for free.”

“Free?  Not at a discount?” Jack questioned curiously.

“For all I know she may have stolen them,” Daniel responded in a monotone voice, taking a bit of the cheese and cracker combination and chewing it very slowly.  He was barely able to finish it, putting down the other half and then drinking a bigger taste of the red wine he loved so much.  “It doesn't matter how she got them.”

“What happened with this freediving business?”

“Kyle always challenged Ben to see who could stay under water the longest.  After a while, he decided it would be *radspaz* if ...”

“Radspaz?”

Daniel laughed hauntingly as he explained, “Kyle always got so excited.  He didn't like to go along with anything normal.  He was always creating his own slang, so ...”

“I get it,” Jack interrupted.  “Rad and spaz -- freaking out over this warped game that he thought was cool.”

“Something like that,” Daniel confirmed.  He sighed and continued, “They were so much bigger than me.  They'd throw me in the pool.  I'd try to get out, but they wouldn't let me.  If I did climb out, they'd just push me back in.  It started with Kyle on the deck, holding my head under water.  Sometimes he'd make me swim the width of the pool.  If I came up for air, he'd get in and hit me and hold me down.  I passed out a couple of times.  You'd think that would scare them, but it didn't.  They'd just pull me out and leave me on the side of the pool.  I guess they didn't care whether I woke up or not.  The truth is that they thought brain damage was a real possibility and that sort of excited them.”

Jack bristled at the statement.  He knew full well that there was a common misconception about holding one's breath and suffering brain damage if you passed out.  He'd seen some college students try it out with something they called the choking game.  To him, they were idiots, and he didn't socialize with them, but thinking about that now was helping him to understand freediving and what his lover was talking about.

“One day, Kyle decided to have Ben time how long I could stay under.  I didn't have a choice, except to die, and I was too stubborn to do that.”

“So, you learned how to hold your breath under water.”

“The more they did it, the easier it got.  I did some reading, knowing they'd do it again, and I learned about breathing exercises.”

Almost excitedly, Jack interjected, “You outfoxed the devils.”

Daniel actually smiled.  That's exactly what he'd done, even though he'd never allowed himself to be cocky about it.

“I learned how to take some breaths before going under and then purging the carbon dioxide out of my body.  Kyle and Ben just thought I was scared, which I was; but I'd take these big breaths and exhale, and right before I figured Kyle was about to dunk me, I'd focus on something I'd read, maybe an article about Egypt or ancient history.  I'd try to pretend I was there, in the place I'd read about, and I'd hold my breath.”  Daniel sighed as he reflected back on those days.  “Sometimes when they weren't home, I'd practice swimming laps, and I'd try to swim under water without coming up for air.  I even practiced in the bathtub.  Every now and then, I just splashed my face with cold water and then held my breath standing in front of the mirror.  They never knew.”

“Danny, how long did that go on?”

“I don't know; a few months, I guess,” Daniel answered.  “Then I was placed somewhere else.  I had stopped questioning the moves, and besides, it meant no more forced swims.”

“You said they timed it,” Jack commented.  “How long did you stay down?”

“The longest was two-and-a-half minutes.  Kyle wasn't happy about that.  He'd only managed to stay down for two minutes.  He, uh, beat me up that day, and that was the last time he made me do it.”

“No more spaz in his rad?”

Daniel looked down, swirling the wine that remained in his glass.  He let out a nervous smile and sighed.

“Apparently not.  From then on, it was more fun to beat the crap out of me as often as he could.  Maybe that's why I was moved.  They had to take me to the emergency room twice in one week.”

“That would be a reason,” Jack agreed, his voice soft and tender as he reached out and caressed his lover's cheek.  His fingers ran through the short, silky strands of the archaeologist's hair, the tips settling behind Daniel's ear.  “Angel, it's over.  You don't need to think about it anymore.”

“Actually, as bad it was, I learned to swim because of Kyle Wallace.  I like swimming, Jack.  I prefer the desert, but I ... I don't mind the water; and, it, it just came in handy.  If Kyle hadn't done what he'd done,” Daniel looked into Jack's eyes, “I wouldn't have been able to realign the power unit, and we'd probably be dead.”  He smiled, a bit timidly in truth.  “How can I be angry knowing that something I learned through that nightmare saved your life?”

“Our lives,” Jack corrected.  With his hand, he brought Daniel closer and shared a short, sweet kiss.  “You're my life, Danny.  Maybe you can teach me some of those breathing exercises.  They might come in handy again someday.”  He reared his head back just a tad and carefully questioned, “Just how long were you under water doing your thing?”

Daniel lowered his eyes, almost embarrassed to answer.

“Daniel?”

“I guess it took a little over a minute to get to auxiliary power control and reroute the power, but then I had to get to the transporter rings and activate them.  That was another thirty seconds or so.  It was probably lucky that the rings were so close to the panel.”

“Piece of cake then,” Jack commented lightly.

Daniel stared for a second and then laughed.  He could see the mischief in his Love's eyes.  It made everything so real, and this was real.  Being here with Jack was what mattered, much more so than living in the past with a couple of juvenile delinquents.

“Chocolate fudge cake,” Daniel replied with a smile.

“You okay?”

“I am now.  You make me okay, Jack.  I don't know how you do it, but when I look into your eyes, all that matters is the here and now.”

“I love you, Angel, so friggin' much.”

“I count on that, Jack, more than you know,” the younger man replied.  He leaned closer and just before his lips touched his soulmate's, he declared his feelings from the depths of his soul.  “I love you, too.”

The lovers kissed, the intensity growing as the kiss deepened.  The wine glass still in his hand, Daniel's arms wrapped around his lover's neck for a kiss that would draw their two bodies together even more.

“Daniel?”

“Yes, Babe?”

“Next time, follow orders.”

With a smile, Daniel responded, “Next time, don't tell me to leave you behind.”

The lovers' eyes bore into each other's, brown and blue pupils smiling with the fullness of tenderness.

“It seems we're at an impasse,” Jack surmised, knowing that in similar circumstances he'd do the same thing again, as would his archaeologist.

“I have an idea.”

“What's that?”

Daniel finished the final remnants of his wine and put his glass down next to the one Jack had been using earlier.

“It's time for your first breathing lesson,” Daniel advised.  “Now it takes practice, so we may have to do this ... over ... and over ... and ... over again.”

“Whoooooa!” Jack exclaimed, gasping for breath just seconds later.  This wasn't the breathing lesson he'd envisioned, but he wouldn't trade Daniel's body on his in this way for anything.  ~I'm holding it, but it's not my breath that I'm ... whooooooa!~ he thought just before the passion of love dissipated any rational thoughts he had.

Things were heating up in front of Jack and Daniel's fireplace and that meant their nation of two was blazing with the continued promise of their own special forever.

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