Jackson Vs McKay

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: Beyond the Series - August 18-27, 2008
Spoilers: 48 Hours (minor) Stargate Atlantis episodes: First Contact, The Lost Tribe
Written: January 15,22, February 1, 2018, February 13-15, March 2, 2021
Summary: Daniel goes to Atlantis. Can Rodney McKay deal with his presence?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically. Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic does alter some from the actual episodes it is based on, primarily as respects the Asgard who are alive and well in my universe.

Jackson Vs McKay
by Orrymain

“I could stay.”

“You should.” Jack smiled, supporting his lover's decision. “Danny, we've talked about this since you agreed to help SGC out with this research. We made a deal. I agreed to this a while ago, when you first brought it up.”

“I know, but I don't really like the idea of leaving you alone with the children.”

"You mean you aren't sure about leaving me with the kids for a few days," Jack challenged lovingly.

"You're right, but I did promise to do this research, and the answer is on Atlantis. I'm sure of it."

Jack raised his hands and gently rubbed his Love's shoulders and neck. A part of him wanted to take the opening his lover just gave him, but he couldn't. At stake was a trip to Atlantis and to Daniel, Atlantis was all the mystery of the universe wrapped up in one very large city in the Pegasus Galaxy.

“You have to go. It's Atlantis. Hey, it's only for a few days, right?”

“Right.” As he smiled at the joy that was his soulmate, Daniel replied, “I love you, Jack. Thank you.”

“Are you sure you want to spend time with Rodney McKay? Heck, Carter practically went out of her mind when she was in command there.”

“Actually, Sam said he wasn't so bad once you got to know him a little better."

"She lied," Jack half-teased. He kissed his lover and then, with a smirk, went, "buzzzzz," sounding like a bee.

"What was that?"

"You and McKay," Jack answered. "I'm glad I won't be there to have to try and understand the two of you. You'll be going at it for the proverbial mile per minute, and I'd bet donuts to dollars, it'll be a race to see who can outtalk who and at the fastest rate."

"You're exaggerating." Daniel saw the pointed stare and acquiesced, "Okay, so maybe we both talk too fast sometimes."

"Just make sure you take time to listen in between all that buzzing," the silver-haired man advised.

"I promise."

====

On Atlantis, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard accompanied Rodney McKay to their gate room. As they traversed the corridors, McKay complained, "I don't know what all the fuss is about. If we do this every time someone comes for a visit, we'll never get any work done."

"We're just meeting him at the Gate."

"We're not just meeting him at the Gate. I've been pulled from my regular duties to help him with his database research." After making a noise of disgust, the scientist whined, "I've got stuff on the go, you know: important, vital projects for the ... the betterment of the human race."

"Apparently, there are other people doing equally important work, Rodney, as hard as that is to believe."

Immediately upon entering the gate room, the two were greeted by Richard Woolsey, the current base commander, who exclaimed, "An exciting day!"

"Absolutely," Sheppard agreed.

Technician Chuck called out, "He's ready to beam."

"Very well," Woolsey acknowledged.

--

"Have a good trip, Doctor Jackson."

"Thank you," Daniel replied to the crewman in charge of the Asgard transporter beam on the Daedalus. ~Smile, Jackson. You're returning to Atlantis. What's a few days with Rodney? He's changed. Sam said so.~

Wearing his best smile as the beam took hold, Daniel was transported to Atlantis, beaming in right in front of its Stargate. He had a backpack over his shoulder and carried a small luggage bag in his right hand.

"Doctor Jackson, welcome to Atlantis."

"Thank you, Mister Woolsey. It's great to be back." Daniel grinned at Sheppard and McKay. "Colonel Sheppard. Rodney."

All Rodney could do was grimace. He already hated the notion of Daniel being on Atlantis and having to work with him made his skin crawl. He was being forced into it, and he wasn't the least bit happy about it.

"This way, Doctor Jackson," Woolsey said, slowly leaving the area.

"Of course," the archaeologist replied, joining the colonel and the other scientist as they walked with Woolsey.

"I'll have Rodney here show you to your quarters," Woolsey stated.

Daniel negated, "Actually, I'd like to get started right away, if that's okay with you, Rodney."

"Oh, sure, sure," the sarcastic scientist replied. "What've you got planned? An exciting exploration of insignificant Ancient historical events?"

"No, not quite. I'm sure you're both familiar with the Ancient named Janus?" Daniel asked.

"The inventor?" Rodney responded.

"Yes. He was a lead scientist and, apparently, a bit of a renegade."

"Yeah, and I've been over all of his logs. Look, this is work we've done already."

"Well, I'm pretty sure I have information that could lead us to his secret lab."

Skeptical, Rodney stopped walking and faced Daniel, who naturally ceased his forward momentum as well.

"Secret lab?"

"Yes, a place where he conducted and subsequently hid a significant portion of his unauthorized research, and, if I'm correct, it's right here, on Atlantis."

Daniel simply grinned. He knew Rodney McKay wasn't thrilled by his presence, and while he fully intended to keep things as peaceable as possible, Rodney's tone clearly indicated his annoyance at Daniel interfering with his life. Human nature being what it was, the archaeologist couldn't help but have a bit of "what do you think about that?" attitude in his demeanor.

"You two can start working right away," Woolsey interjected. "Rodney, you will make sure Doctor Jackson knows where his quarters are."

"Don't worry," Sheppard spoke. "I'll take care of it."

"Oh, I'll do it," Rodney said in annoyance.

"After we start working on this," Daniel stated.

"Sure thing. Let's go to my lab."

"Have fun you two," Sheppard called out, sounding a little bit like Jack.

"So, how are things?" Daniel asked as he trailed Rodney to the lab.

"How do you think? I was in the middle of some very important work," Rodney claimed.

"I'm sure you were, Rodney. Look, I don't want to stay here any longer than I have to. If we work together ..."

"You'll be able to go home quicker."

"Exactly."

Sporting his first smile of the day, Rodney hastened his pace and urged, "Let's get going then."

Daniel bowed his head, laughing inwardly at his easy manipulation of the other man. He didn't really believe Rodney was a bad guy, but there was some bad blood between them, mostly because Rodney was jealous of Daniel's success and was also still very sensitive to his personal failure at Stargate Command on Earth. The Atlantis mission was a second chance for McKay, and he was taking full advantage of it, something Daniel was well aware of and had no desire to interfere with, not now and not ever.

"In here," Rodney announced.

"Great. Uh, laptop."

====

Time passed as Daniel inputted information onto a laptop. To his right, a bored Rodney sat with his head propped up on his hand.

Drolly, Rodney spoke, "I've been over Janus' database entries with a fine-tooth comb. I never saw any mention of a secret lab."

"Janus was doing a lot of work that wasn't exactly approved by the Ancient Council, so it's not hard to imagine he wouldn't include a full accounting in this very public database. I mean, do you include all of your research in your official reports?" Daniel asked, giving Rodney a direct challenging look.

"Just get to the point."

"Okay, he never talked about it in his entries, but several of Janus' peers suspected he had a 'bastion of unfettered thought and experimentation' or, as one of his lovers put it ..."

"He had lovers?"

Daniel hit a button to pull up a record as he completed, "an isle of solitude within the city walls."

"Well, that could just mean he's hard to talk to. People say things like that about me all the time."

"Now, none of these writers had any idea where the lab could be, but one of his young assistants recalls a day where Janus turned a corner down a hallway."

"'Today: saw Janus in the hallway'. There's a real page turner," Rodney said mockingly. ~I have work to do.~

Undeterred, Daniel continued, "He chased after him with a question about his work, but when he rounded the corner, Janus was gone. The hallway was a dead end. He had seemingly disappeared, and, I think, into his secret lab."

"Well, did this assistant happen to mention ..." Rodney began, showing a small amount of interest at last.

"... which hallway? Yes, he does."

"Oh. Well ..." Rodney acknowledged as he pulled the laptop to him.

"Yeah." Daniel sat back, willing to allow Rodney to take control for the moment. Inside, he laughed. ~Geez, we do sound like a couple of bees, buzzing around each other. I guess I can't blame Jack for some of those headaches he gets when I talk a lot.~

====

Elsewhere on Atlantis, Woolsey left Sheppard in charge when he departed to go on what he termed a negotiating mission with the Wraith, who were essentially the Goa'uld to the Atlantis base. Also going on the mission were Doctor Jennifer Keller and Ronon Dex, much to Rodney's chagrin since he felt some affection for Jennifer.

====

Having accessed where the secret lab could be, Daniel and Rodney made their way to the edge of the city where they walked through dark and abandoned corridors. They used torches to light the way and were quietly happy when some lights went on automatically due to sensors that detected their presence.

"Is that a water line up there?" the archaeologist inquired.

"Yeah. That's when the city flooded the first year we were here. Anything salvageable got moved to the main tower."

"Well, it's remote. That's promising. He wouldn't want anyone around when he came in and out of his lab."

"Oooh, like the Batcave," Rodney put forth wistfully.

Staring at the other scientist, Daniel replied somewhat dryly, "Yes, just like the Batcave."

"Well, I'm not picking up anything unusual," Rodney informed as he glanced at his scanner.

Stopping, Daniel walked closer to the wall on his left and observed, "Something used to be attached here."

Rodney, who was a few feet ahead of Daniel, noticed something similar where he was, to, and responded, "Hmm. And here."

"And another one," Daniel noted as he moved closer to Rodney's location. "Any idea what they are?"

Looking annoyed and bored, Rodney answered, "Looks like a run of the mill sconce interface."

"Right! Well ... where are the sconces?"

Full of snark, Rodney answered, "I don't know! Maybe the decorator changed his mind."

"You said after the flood anything worth salvaging was moved to the main tower. Now, please tell me you kept detailed records of what was found and where."

"Did we keep detailed records? Who are you talking to here?" Rodney spat. ~He questions everything I do. I'm a capable guy, you know.~

"No offense intended, Rodney," Daniel replied. "Not everyone follows the rules or do what is common sense."

"Sure," Rodney responded. "My lab."

The scientist breezed by Daniel, who sighed and bemoaned, ~This is going well ... not.~ He rolled his eyes as he told himself, ~Stop echoing Jack. Geez.~

Daniel grunted and then turned around, hurrying to catch up with Rodney who was already far out of his sight.

====

Once again in Rodney's lab in the main tower of Atlantis, Daniel and Rodney reviewed photographs taken of the corridors after they were flooded. They observed the light fixtures, which Daniel assumed were knocked loose during the flood.

"Possibly," Rodney tentatively agreed.

"But you salvaged them, right?"

"They're lights! They fell to the ground during the flood ..."

Interrupting, Daniel pleaded, "Just ... humor me, okay? I think we're on to something."

"Right," Rodney reluctantly agreed.

The two went to a room used as a storage archive. The room was far from the main tower and was full of cases that the scientists searched through.

"Here they are," Rodney advised. "We got ‘em."

Daniel joined Rodney as they opened a case and saw three lights inside.

"We need to take these back to the secret lab."

"You mean the lab that's so secret we don't know where it is."

"We know where it is, in essence."

"That's not going to help us."

"Maybe not, but these will," Daniel stated with a closed smile as he took control of the case, securing it and then lifting it up. "Coming?" he asked as he left the area.

~I really do have important work to do,~ Rodney whined to himself. ~Not that anyone seems to care.~

====

In the corridor on the edge of the city, Rodney leaned against a wall, eagerly hoping for the end of the day, while Daniel pushed the three lights into place. When the last one was in place, the light lit up and chimed, as the others had done as well. There was one difference, though.

"That's odd," Daniel opined. "Each of these three lights made a different tone when I plugged them in. Does that usually happen around here?"

"Not usually, no."

Daniel began experimenting by tapping on the lights, but nothing happened other than they each chimed a different note. Rodney suggested the light were broken.

"No, it's a puzzle," Daniel surmised. "I think we need to activate these in a specific order."

Rodney was doubtful and replied with sarcasm to Daniel's comments, but the archaeologist reminded, "Well, Janus' assistant said he disappeared pretty quickly down the hallway, so it can't be a long code. Maybe it's just as simple as three tones in a row."

"Go for it," Rodney okayed. ~I'm hungry.~

Again, Daniel experimented with the chiming lights until Rodney suddenly had an idea almost in spite of himself.

"Hold on for a second," Rodney requested.

"What is it?"

"Come here and push against this wall."

"Why?"

It was a moment Rodney cherished when he responded, utilizing Daniel's own words from earlier: "Please, just humor me. I think I'm on to something."

~Snarky,~ Daniel opined within himself as he changed positions with Rodney.

"Okay. On the count of three, I want you to push against the wall as hard as you can, okay?"

Daniel agreed and Rodney gave the three count. As the archaeologist pressed against the wall with all his might, the other scientist tapped the three lights from left to right in quick succession. Suddenly, Daniel plunged forward and literally fell through the wall.

Rodney realized he'd successfully discovered the pattern, so he again tapped the three lights and simply walked through the wall.

"Ow," Daniel groaned as he was face down on the floor.

~This makes my day.~ Rodney kneeled down and explained, "Controlled magnetic harmonic resonance."

Sitting up, Daniel asked, "What?"

"Apparently, Tessla was close to something like this before Edison trashed his lab," Rodney elaborated.

~Now I really do know how Jack feels,~ Daniel groaned inwardly. Confused, he asked, "What are you talking about?"

"That wall was specially designed to destabilize when bombarded with a very specific harmonic resonance. That's what the tones were, and the strong magnetic property of the particles is what keeps the door from just crumbling into dust. It's a great way to hide a door because, you know, if you're looking for a door to open, it's never gonna be found. It's like a ... a ... a hologram, only better, because it's solid mass until the tones are played."

~He freakin' did this on purpose.~ Daniel responded, "Right, so you could've just told me to walk through the door when you did."

Smirking, Rodney admitted, "I could've, yes."

"Yes, yes," Daniel sighed as he stood up. "Where the heck are we?"

As Daniel and Rodney began to walk around the room, the lights were triggered. Various consoles and other units were activated.

"Wow."

"Janus' secret lab," McKay acknowledged. ~Okay, he was right, but that doesn't mean anything. Does it?~

The scientists continued to explore the room, though neither noticed a red light flashing on a device on a table behind them.

====

Later, Colonel Sheppard entered the lab and was instantly impressed with what he saw. He was pleased when told that Rodney arranged it so that the wall was permanently open and wouldn't accidentally trap anyone inside it.

"That's good. So, what've we got?" the colonel inquired.

Daniel answered, "Well, the good news is: it's definitely Janus' secret lab. The bad news is: getting in was the easy part."

"There are levels of encryption on all the data here that even the most paranoid NSA agent wouldn't use. I mean, it is deep," Rodney added.

"Some of them are straight-up math ciphers while others are Ancient knowledge puzzles," Daniel said as he sat down on a chair next to Rodney in preparation to continue their research.

"And until we start deciphering, there's no way to tell what any of this stuff does."

Confidently, Sheppard stated, "Sounds like you guys make a good team, though."

Both Daniel and Rodney had involuntarily bodily reactions to the words, startling them. Rodney let out an awkward, "Mmm," while almost simultaneously, Daniel uttered an equally unimpressed, "Yeah."

"Well, I guess I'll go back to being the boss."

Daniel couldn't help but think, ~He sounds a lot like Jack. I don't think being the boss is his idea of fun, except for the obvious power it brings in getting your own way.~

"How's that going?" Rodney inquired.

"Pretty boring, actually."

~Yep: like Jack,~ Daniel concluded.

"Well, you're more than welcome to help us crack this first stream cipher." Rodney looked at the archaeologist and teased about Sheppard, "You know, he could have been in Mensa."

~You never know: never assume,~ Daniel thought as he grinned at the comment.

While Rodney laughed, Sheppard simply glared and retorted, "Why don't you contact me when you two geniuses have a breakthrough?"

"Will do," Daniel promised.

====

Daniel leaned back and sighed, feeling somewhat frustrated at his lack of progress over the past hour.

"Problem?" Rodney asked.

"No, not unless you consider that I'm having no luck with this cipher. How about you?"

"I would have told you if I'd discovered anything."

"Of course, you would." Daniel stood up and stretched. "I'm going to take a walk; clear my head. Maybe it will make more sense when I get back."

"Sure, leave me here to do the work."

"Rodney, you're welcome to come with me."

"No," the other scientist sighed. "I might be on to something."

Daniel nodded and left the room, inwardly happy Rodney opted to stay behind. He could usually endure Rodney's presence, but sometimes, he needed a clean breath of air, one that didn't include the other scientist's presence.

====

The archaeologist meandered around the corridors until he found himself at the mess hall near the base of the tower. He made his way over to the balcony that overlooked the ocean. It was an impressive view.

"Daniel? Daniel Jackson, is that you?"

Daniel turned around and recognized the man, acknowledging, "Yes. Hello, John. What are you doing on Atlantis?"

The man was John Carpenter, an archaeologist in Daniel's department at Stargate Command.

"Temporary assignment. It's been fascinating, but I'll be back at the Mountain in a few months."

"So, you're enjoying it here?"

"There's a lot to learn about other cultures here, Daniel. I'm surprised you haven't been here until now."

"Actually, I have been here before, but ... my work's on Earth."

"Tempting, though, isn't it?"

"Very. I've never forgotten that feeling I first had when Atlantis came into view. It was ... exhilarating." Daniel smiled as he recalled the moment. "So, how are you, aside from work, I mean."

"I'm doing well. I have a good man now."

"I'm glad to hear it."

"So will the general," Carpenter mused. "I was never his favorite person, but at least I understand why now."

Daniel lowered his head and chuckled, "He, uh ... he is the jealous type, but he's much better now."

"I'm not sure I believe that," Carpenter replied. "He might hide it better, but I'm guessing he's still ready to take down anyone who looks at you sideways."

"An exaggeration," Daniel claimed, though he didn't quite believe his own words. "Listen, I'm working on something. I just took a break to stretch my legs. I need to get back."

"It's good to see you again, Daniel. Maybe we can talk again when this assignment ends."

"I look forward to it," Daniel said. As he passed by the man, he added, "Take care, John, and good luck with your man."

"Thanks."

As he returned to the lab, Daniel chuckled inwardly. It was all so true that Jack's Mr. Jealousy often reared its ugly head whenever John Carpenter was around or even mentioned in conversation. Jack knew from the get go that Carpenter was interested in Daniel, even if Daniel himself couldn't see it. The archaeologist sighed lightheartedly as he prepared to return to his project. He was glad he decided to take the walk. Perhaps the distraction of seeing a former colleague would free up his brain cells to see more clearly the possible ciphers created by Janus.

====

Shortly before midnight, both Daniel and Rodney stood up to stretch and walked around the room. They passed each other a few times and then Rodney stopped and grimaced.

"What's wrong?"

"Did you grow?"

"What?" the confused archaeologist questioned.

"You seem taller," Rodney said. "I don't remember you being taller than me."

Daniel just shook his head, finding the conversation incredulous.

"Lifts?"

"What?"

"Are you wearing lifts in your shoes?"

"No, Rodney, I'm not, and I haven't grown an inch. I've been six-feet tall for my entire adult life."

"I'm five-nine," Rodney sighed.

"Congratulations," Daniel said snarkily. ~This is an insane conversation.~

That ended the discussion and the two returned to their work.

====

Very early in the morning when the night sky was still in place, Daniel and Rodney were still working hard on the puzzle they faced, each positioned at a different console. The archaeologist heard the yawn of the other man.

"You know, it's almost dawn. If you wanna call it a night, it's, uh ..." Daniel said as he removed his glasses and rubbed his weary eyes.

"What? No, no, no, I'm fine, fine, but, you know, if you need to rest, I completely understand."

Tired, Daniel lost his patience. He faced the other scientist so he could challenge, "Seriously," <he put his glasses back on> "is, is everything a competition with you?"

"I'm not sure what you're talkin' about."

"I just found you a secret lab full of really cool Ancient stuff. I kind of think that should score me some points here."

"Okay, I will admit that I may have been little brusque with you up until now."

"Just a little."

Rodney confided, "But the truth is, I really didn't think you were gonna find anything."

"Well, that much I actually understand."

"You do?" Rodney asked in surprise.

"Yeah. I've spent the majority of my professional life being ridiculed for my theories, most of which turned out to be correct, by the way. I'm kind of used to it, Rodney."

Rodney leaned back in his chair, let out a sigh, and responded, "Doesn't that bother you? I mean, there's no vindication, no recognition, no credit."

"Well, I could say the same thing about you. The discoveries you've made: you probably could have won the Nobel Prize five times over by now."

"It's too true," Rodney agreed cockily. "So, I guess none of us signed up to get famous, huh?"

"No, we did it for the money."

Rodney laughed, "Good one!"

This was a breakthrough moment for the two scientists as they continued to chuckle and grin. It actually felt good to have some of the anxiety disappear with the humor of the moment. Then, Rodney's expression changed as he turned to the archaeologist.

"Wait a minute. You don't get paid more than I do, do you?" Rodney noticed the roll of Daniel's eyes and repeated, "Do you?"

"Of course I do, Rodney. I opened the Stargate and got the ball rolling, as Jack would say. I'm also the one who found Atlantis. Now, I don't normally toot my own horn here, but sometimes petty gets turned on its nose."

Rodney let out a few undecipherable guttural sounds before responding with the non sequitur: "How is your ... how's O'Neill?"

Daniel smiled as he responded, "He's good."

"I'm a little surprised he didn't come with you."

"He thought about it, but we have children."

"Yeah, I know." Rodney sat up straighter. "So, it's going well for you two?"

"Very. I heard you and Doctor Keller have something going," Daniel put forward.

"Maybe. It's hard to tell." Rodney sighed and then repeated his query. "Do you really get paid more than me? I mean, uh, you, you were just pulling my leg a minute ago."

"For crying out loud, Rodney, does it really matter?"

"Yes."

"Okay, well, yes, I do. Live with it." Daniel stood up and said, "I need a Twinkie."

"A Twinkie?"

"Yes, Rodney, you know those golden sponge-like cakes with a yummy cream filling? They're on most store shelves in America."

Rodney made a funny face as he watched Daniel open his duffel bag and pull out a package of Twinkies. He also retrieved a bottle of water.

"You're really going to eat that?"

"Want one?" Daniel offered. "There's two in a pack."

"Huh, well, yeah, sure, okay," Rodney agreed as he took possession of a Twinkie and took a bite. "You really eat these things?"

"All the time, Twinkies and power bars go on most missions with me. It drives Jack crazy."

"And that's why you take them with you?"

"Sometimes," Daniel confessed. "But usually it's because I know I'll want something to eat besides MREs."

The mere thought of the compact meals ready to eat caused Daniel to grimace. He shook it off and got lost in the yummyness of the Twinkie, sighing in delight after taking his first bite.

~Yes, he must love these things,~ Rodney opined. ~I like MREs myself; nothing wrong with them.~

====

Daniel and Rodney were back at work, neither willing to call it a night, or even a morning, and get any sleep. Without warning, their work was disturbed, via the radio.

"Rodney, this is Sheppard. Come in." The voice was urgent sounding and was quickly heard again. "Rodney!"

"What's up?" Rodney asked.

"Get out of there right now," Sheppard ordered.

Rodney stood and asked, "Why?"

There was no need of a response when two aliens appeared through the wall and immediately shot both Daniel and Rodney. One of the aliens then went to the device with the red flashing and picked it up.

Outside the lab, a third alien guarded the entrance, using a force field to hold off the firepower coming from Sheppard and his men as they attempted to rescue the scientists. Through the force field, the colonel saw the other aliens drag out Daniel and Rodney as well as a device he hadn't seen before. He watched as they transported off Atlantis, the third alien ceasing the force field and allowing himself to be sacrificed for the others.

The aliens, the device, Daniel, and Rodney returned to the ship that brought the aliens to Atlantis, and, after penetrating Atlantis' protective shield, fled the area.

====

Aboard the alien ship, Daniel awoke and noticed Rodney was still unconscious. He slowly stood up, pleased that apparently the two were simply stunned and nothing worse. He looked around the dark room and saw numerous laser beams designed to prevent the two from leaving.

**Babe, I don't know if this things works from one galaxy to another one. I mean, uh, this is pretty far, but maybe you'll sense something. I'm in a bit of a pickle at the moment. Trapped in a room, somewhere. I really don't know where I am for sure or why we've been taken, but I'll figure it out. Don't worry. I love you.**

Taking another moment for himself, Daniel took a closer look at his current environment. Curious, he touched one of the laser beams and instantly felt pain in his hand from doing so.

~Mmm, like falling through a wall unnecessarily.~ Daniel smirked, ~Remember this.~

Then Daniel kneeled over Rodney and patted his cheek several times to rouse him. Almost immediately, Rodney awoke and was helped up by the archaeologist. Neither had any answers for their current predicament, though they were almost certain it had to be related to the secret lab.

====

On Atlantis, Sheppard and his colleagues entered the secret lab to review the situation. It wasn't long before they realized something in the lab had to be transmitting a signal to the aliens.

At the same time, Daniel and Rodney were coming to the same conclusion.

"A sub-space signal," Rodney put forth. "It's the only possible answer."

"What are you talking about?"

Rodney explained, "We've come across them before. They're a real-time, practically instantaneous, link between two Ancient devices. They can be separated by, like, half a galaxy."

"And?" Daniel prompted.

"I don't know. Aliens are out there and they find one of the Ancient labs. So, they're standing around; they're scratching their heads; they have no idea what's going on. Then they discover the sub-space link."

"So, they weren't after us. We were just ... collateral damage."
"Yes," the other scientist affirmed confidently.

"All right, good theory. So, what do we do?"

"Well, we've gotta get out of here."

"We're probably on a ship traveling through hyperspace. Where are we gonna go?"

"I'll think of something."

"Really?"

"Yeah. Always do."

Not reassured, Daniel opined, ~Right. I thought Sam said he changed ... a little.~

Rodney touched one of the laser beams which sparked and caused a burning sensation in his hand.

"Ow!"

"Oh, yeah, I tried that. They zap you when you touch them."

Frustrated and miffed, Rodney stated, "You could have told me that before I touched it!"

"I could have, yes," Daniel acknowledged. ~Revenge is sweet. Jack taught me that.~

~Okay, I guess I deserved that after the door thing,~ Rodney conceded to himself.

"Okay, they stripped us of everything but the clothing on our backs and surrounded us with laser walls. I'm not sure how much play we have here."

"We've got one thing going for us at least."

"What's that?"

"We're not dead yet."

"Good point," Daniel acknowledged. ~He can be a funny guy sometimes.~

====

Eventually, the spaceship landed on a planet that appeared to be white from ice and enduring blizzard-like conditions with loud sounding winds and snow falling in a steady rhythm. Some buildings were on the surface, with the alien vessel landing atop one of them.

The aliens took the device and the scientists, who were being forcibly moved forward by aliens holding them along the neck of their jackets, into the corridors of the building. Clearly, they had a destination in mind, but neither Daniel nor Rodney had a clue where that was.

"Can we talk to somebody in charge? I think there's been a bit of a misunderstanding. There's no need to treat us this way," Daniel complained as he continued to be manhandled while walking. He could hear Rodney letting out tiny noises of pain. ~Don't whine, Rodney. This is annoying, but it's nothing compared to a ribbon device.~

The aliens brought the scientists to a room and placed the device with the blinking red light on a table.

"Get the device operational," one of the aliens ordered.

"We don't even know what it is," Rodney replied, watching with irritation as the aliens left the room. "Oh, great! Sealed shut and they've removed the door controls from this side."

"Where the heck are we?"

Rodney responded, "I'd say judging by the Lantean architecture, I'd guess, you know, a secret Janus facility, which is, you know, probably bad for us because it probably means it's hard to find."

"So, I guess that means no rescue any time soon."

Rodney approached the device and asked, "Does that look familiar to you?"

"Yeah, it's the device from the Atlantis lab," Daniel replied. ~I noticed it; saw the blinking light, but everything lit up once we walked around the lab, so I didn't think any more about it. Maybe this is the signal Rodney was talking about.~

"At least we know why they brought us with them."

"Yeah, they need us to get the device operational. I got that."

"Right, and I don't think we're gonna get any more info from Talky McSays-A-Lot out there, so fire up these consoles; see what we're dealing with."

Daniel began to do just that, only Rodney kept telling him it wasn't the right thing, essentially acting as if the archaeologist was a poorly positioned column he had to work around.

~This is annoying,~ Daniel thought. ~Sam, how could you think this man has changed? I'm not seeing it. I understand him, though. He didn't want me here. He didn't want to be pulled away from his own work. I'd guess he probably thinks I'm here to review his work, to evaluate him, none of which is true, of course; but he thinks it. I'm an enemy, a threat. I get that.~

Daniel steeled himself and left Rodney to work the controls of the console. He figured Rodney needed to do this on his own and, for now anyway, that was okay.

The archaeologist walked around the room and stopped across the way from Rodney. He studied the console in front of him. Time passed, both scientists focused on their own particular area of interest at the moment.

Finally, Daniel turned to face Rodney and observed, "This facility's tapped into some pretty serious power generation. I've never seen anything like it before.

"You'd need a lot of power," Rodney replied as things crystallized in his mind. He told Daniel he knew what the device was, which was frightening to both men. If Rodney were correct, it would be the end of the Wraith. He explained that the device, "creates a very specific sub-space static, uh, turbulence is probably a better way of looking at it."

"Which ...?"

"Okay, okay. Um, although they're all based on a fairly similar technological premise, each race has a slightly different type of hyperdrive. Ours are based on the Asgard drive with our own little twist. The Ancients had their own particular system; and the Wraith, again, have their own separate hyperdrive technology." He elaborated that the device could disrupt "very specific sub-space frequencies the Wraith use."

"So, they wouldn't be able to engage their hyperdrive," Daniel surmised.

"Well, that's the genius. They would be able to engage their hyperdrives. It's just that their particular channel of sub-space would be destabilized and their ship would be ripped into a million pieces."

"When this device is turned on, every time a Wraith ship enters hyperspace, it self-destructs?"

"Yeah!"

"It's a pretty effective idea."

The two knew that if the device worked and the Wraith ships ended up stuck wherever they were, they could only travel via sub-light engines and that meant the Ancients could easily eliminate them, one ship at a time.

"Yeah, or you just leave ‘em to die in the vastness of space," Rodney put forth.

"So, what's the catch?"

"Ah, well, the catch is that Janus ran a three-day test about ten-thousand years ago and then shut the whole project down because of unforeseen side effects."

"Right, which were?"

"Well, it's not clear." Rodney pointed at the device and suggested, " That's the key to the whole shebang. I mean, Janus brought that back with him to Atlantis, but kept it connected to the main system here. One won't work without the other."

Both Daniel and Rodney weren't eager to get the device operational, though they believed they could do so since they had everything they needed to make it work, but Rodney was concerned about doing it due to a past bad experience and Daniel was concerned about those unknown side effects. The answer, per the archaeologist, was to reason with their abductors.

Regretfully, when the opportunity presented itself, the idea proved to be a bust. Daniel insisted the device wouldn't work safely and put forward that, "We share the same goal. Perhaps we have many things in common."

Daniel continued talking, but the alien grew impatient, interrupting his words and ordering Rodney, "Get the device operational within one hour, or I will kill him." To the Atlantis scientist, he asked pointedly, "Do you understand?"

Nervously, the answer was, "I understand, yes." After the alien exited, Rodney spoke mockingly, "Great plan, Danny! Great plan!"

"Why the suits?" Daniel asked in reference to the aliens, who wore some type of battle armor that covered up their actual appearance.

"Huh?"

"Well, they're not in battle any more. Originally, I thought it was just their version of SWAT gear, but they still have it on. Maybe they're more than just armor; maybe they're some sort of protective suit. Maybe they can't function on our livable atmosphere."

Annoyed, Rodney refuted, "Maybe we should just add it to the list of things that have nothing to do with the task at hand."

"Those suits might be the key to figuring out who these guys really are."

"Well, you work on understanding them; I'll work on trying not to get us killed."

~You do that,~ Daniel thought. ~It doesn't make sense for them to still be in battle gear. They're hiding themselves. Why? Who would do that? Why would it be necessary? What are they afraid of?" Daniel blinked as he recalled something. ~Did he call me 'Danny'?~ He let out a breath and shook his head. ~Let it go. He's just Rodney and he can't help himself.~

====

The two colleagues looked through the window into another room, studying it. They realized it housed the sub-space antenna that harnessed the static into sub-space once the device was activated. Rodney advised he was ready to do so. He told Daniel that Janus simply turned the unit off so all they now need is "a basic understanding of Janus' coding style and, here's where I come in again, the Ancient gene."

Daniel knew what Rodney was talking about when he brought up the Ancient gene. The archaeologist always regretted that he himself didn't have the Ancient gene, though his husband and others did. John Sheppard was one of those who possessed the gene, but Rodney McKay was not. However, an experimental therapy known as Ancient technology activation was tested on Terran Atlanteans, the result of which was forty-eight percent successful. This meant people not born with the gene could still activate Ancient technology. Hence, Rodney's ability to use himself to turn off the unit.

"Rodney, you don't have to do this," Daniel told the other man, not wanting Rodney to duplicate his previous negative experience.

"They're gonna kill you! We don't have a choice," Rodney maintained.

"Yes, we do."

"Okay, so I do nothing, they come in here, they kill you. Who gets killed next, huh? Me! And to tell you the truth here, I'm quite fond of me, so we might as well do it, you know, now, while you're still alive, as opposed to ... you know, then."

"All right," Daniel acquiesced. ~It's not that I have any desire to die. I want to go home, be with Jack and our children; get some cuddles with the girls,~ he thought in reference to the beagles, Bijou and Katie. ~Hmm. I wonder if Rodney really cares, or if he's just protecting himself? Hard to tell.~

Rodney activated the device. The sound of the unit turning on was loud and almost thunderous, especially with lightning-like strikes occurring with great frequency. Both he and Daniel were pleased to discover they were still alive. Nothing unusual was detected and, so far, there were no unforeseen side effects.

"Okay, so what now?" Daniel inquired.

"Uh, maybe, uh, a nice pat on the back and an all-expense paid trip back to Atlantis?"

Daniel gave Rodney a 'you're dreaming' type of expression in reply, causing Rodney's brief smile to evaporate. Silently, the two considered their situation further and continued to wait. Rodney, though, decided to investigate and see if he could discover anything more about the side effects. Ten minutes later, he did just that.

"It's not harmful radiation, is it?" Daniel asked. ~I'm a little sensitive about anything to do with radiation.~

"No. No, no, no, you and I are safe. It's just the rest of the galaxy that's gonna have problems, including Atlantis. I've gotta shut this thing down."

At that moment, an alien entered and instructed, "Step away from the device."

Rodney, however, kept working the controls, prompting the alien to shoot him. The scientist fell to floor while Daniel raised his hands.

"Okay, wait, wait, wait. There's a very dangerous, very serious problem with the device and we need to talk to your boss ..."

Once again, the archaeologist's words were silenced when he, too, was shot and collapsed onto the cold, hard floor.

====

On Atlantis, the personnel discovered the planet that they believed Daniel and Rodney were being held. Just as Sheppard was about to lead a team there in one of the jumpers, a bump occurred. Engaging the Stargate resulted in its own unexpected side effect. It blew up, taking out much of the control room with it. Shortly thereafter, a communication was received by the Daedalus on which the negotiation between Woolsey and the Wraith was supposedly taking place. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned and Woolsey and the Daedalus crew were taken hostage. Todd, the leader of the Wraith, believed he was being tricked.

"You've activated the Attero device. I need you to shut it down and give me its location immediately," Todd told Sheppard in a visual transmission. He later spoke, "I have to admit: in a way I'm impressed. I was there ten-thousand years ago when the Ancients first tried to use it, but they didn't have the stomach to leave it on once they realized how many of their precious Stargates it would destroy; how many humans it would kill."

Piecing together everything he knew, Sheppard asked his colleague, Radek Zelenga, an expert on Ancient technology who was from the Czech Republic "What are the odds that this thing was at the other end of the sub-space link that Rodney opened when he went to that lab?"

"M6H-987?" the scientific doctor inquired. That was the planet designation where the doctor believed the sub-space transmission of the device that had been in Janus' lab and Atlantis met. He'd arrived at that conclusion after an intricate extrapolation of "the single thread that [would take them] to the area of space associated with the device." He affirmed, "I'd say it's very likely. It's also very likely that's where he and Doctor Jackson were taken."

Sheppard and his team surmised the Attero device was a weapon developed by Janus during the Wraith war. Blowing up Stargates was probably a side effect of the device's operation. The colonel had a decision to make: give Todd the planetary designation to locate it, in which case the Wraith would most likely destroy the world, or hand over the actual coordinates. One thing they knew for sure, while the Atlantis shield was able to take the brunt of the explosion when its Stargate blew up, the odds were that other worlds would end up with millions of people dying.

Though he attempted to negotiate with the Wraith, even asking to board the ship and lead them to the planet himself, Todd was insistent. With Woolsey's life within seconds of being taken, Sheppard ordered the coordinates be transmitted. Just after that, Sheppard received unwelcome news in that it was verified that many Stargates in the Pegasus Network had blown up upon being activated.

====

On M6H-987, Rodney essentially came to the same conclusion as his friend, John Sheppard, did on Atlantis.

Daniel, tired, irked, and frustrated by the entire experience, sat down and leaned back against the wall. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes before putting the spectacles back in place.

The scientists discussed the exploding Stargates, which left both of them aggravated and irritated. The device needed to be deactivated, but they didn't know how to make that happen right now.

The visiting scientist was standing now as he and Rodney strove to find a solution to their dilemma.

At that moment, an alien entered, pointed at Daniel, and ordered, "You, come with me."

Pointing at himself, Daniel asked, "Me? Why?"

With a pistol pointed at the archaeologist, Daniel let out a "whoa!" while Rodney uttered an objectionable, "Hey!" at the same time. He moved towards Daniel, his arms outstretched as if to stop any potential firing of the weapon.

~I don't want to stay here alone.~ To his credit, Rodney wanted to go with Daniel, but the alien refused. He tried to use humor, chiming, "Well, I guess it must be your turn to use the fitness room."

"Right," Daniel replied. ~He can be funny. Still, he's not the last voice I want to hear before I die.~

"Good luck," Rodney said. ~Okay, okay, he's not my favorite person in the world, but he does good stuff. He's not a bad person. I ... don't want him to die.~

"You, too!"

Rodney was truly frightened as he saw Daniel walk out of the room and the doors seal once again. He wanted to do something, but what could he do?

====

Accompanied by the alien, Daniel was shoved forward into a room and was quickly addressed by another alien whose back he was staring at.

"You wished to speak to me," the alien spoke.

"You're the leader?" There was no reply, so Daniel advised, "You need to shut this device down immediately."

The alien faced the human and negated, "No. I do not."

"Okay, look, I understand wanting to destroy the Wraith, I do, but this isn't the way."

"I disagree."

Daniel felt his anger growing. Everything inside him said he was facing one of he nastiest protagonists he'd ever met. His ire caused his blood pressure to rise. It had been quite a while since he actually felt this way.

"I don't know if you're aware of this or not, but this device has a serious side effect. It makes Stargates explode when they're activated."

"We do not use the Stargates."

"Okay, but lots of other people do," Daniel stated. ~No humanity here at all? Not one ounce of compassion. He's like a computer.~

"They are of no concern to us."

"So, you're just gonna let them die, millions of people across the galaxy." Getting nothing but a look in response, Daniel accused, "You're no better than the Wraith."

"Perhaps, but we have little choice," the leader of the aliens opined.

"Why?"

"Our planet is dying. It can no longer sustain us. For the first time in countless generations, we must venture out into this galaxy again, a galaxy controlled by the Wraith. If we do not destroy them, they will destroy us. This is the way it must be."

"We're talking about the deaths of millions of people. How can you be so callous, and what is it you're so afraid of? Why, why are you still in your battle armor? I can't hurt you." Again, there was no comment. "I know you're not human, and you're definitely not Wraith; and if you were an Ancient, you wouldn't have needed our help to activate the device, so ... what are you?"

Bothered by being ignored, Daniel watched the alien turn his back on him and walk away a few feet. Suddenly, the back of the battle armor opened up, revealing a surprisingly familiar looking creature. It was a small gray being and it walked over to a console and then turned to face Daniel.

~It can't be,~ Daniel told himself. "You're Asgard!"

The only difference between Earth's ally and this Asgard was that this one had a small electronic device attached to its temple as well as a bar that was attached to its chest. Daniel assumed the electronics were either some kind of control mechanisms or perhaps a communications device. He even considered the small probe-like electronics could be used for monitoring, though he wasn't sure whether they would be monitoring the clone body or the mind of the alien. Maybe it was even a type of designation as with military wings. He noticed four colorful lights on the bar across the leader's left chest. Could that be a rank? Was this alien a fleet commander like Thor? There were lots of questions, and so far, no answers.

"You've encountered our kind before," the Asgard surmised.

"No, not just encountered. I've worked with them, even called a few of them my friends."

"Indeed?"

"Of course, the Asgard I know are a noble race who actually help the human population of my galaxy."

"And where are they now?"

"In our galaxy, doing some good somewhere, I'm sure," Daniel answered. "You know, they protect the underdog; they don't dismiss them as not mattering."

"Perhaps they have figured out a way out of our problem."

"No, they're clones, copies of copies of copies going back generations, and they've suffered irreversible genetic degradation as a result. You probably already know that."

"Of course, because we are clones as well, subject to the same law of diminishing returns."

"Have you solved the problem?" Daniel inquired. ~Maybe they could help Thor.~

"Not entirely, but once we were able to conduct our research without interference, we made significant progress."

"Research on humans because our physiology is similar to what yours used to be," Daniel assumed.

"Precisely."

"I take that back. I have met an Asgard like you before. His name was Loki; and he was experimenting on humans too, until he was caught and brought to justice by the Asgard High Council."

"Because they did not believe the ends justify the means," the Asgard leader put forth.

"That's right."

"And look where it got them: nowhere, still dying."

"That's not the point," Daniel responded. "The Asgard I know are good people. They're one of the leaders of the galaxy. I don't understand why you don't share their beliefs, their way of, of helping others."

"We came to this galaxy during the war. With both the Wraith and the Ancients occupied, we were free to conduct our experiments. Unfortunately, the hostilities came to an end sooner than we'd thought and with an unexpected result."

"You were betting on the Ancients. They may have tried to shut you down, but at least they wouldn't exterminate you."

"The Wraith do not tolerate the presence of advanced technologies other than their own. Before we knew what was happening, we were under attack. We lost our intergalactic ships in the first battle and we did not have the resources to build more."

"So, how did you survive?"

"We had no choice but to abandon our settlements and retreat to a place where the Wraith could not look for us: a planet with a toxic atmosphere."

With raised eyebrows, Daniel retorted, "Oh. That sounds nice."

"It was tolerable at first. We were able to survive using simple breathing apparatus, but over the eons the environment has grown so harsh that not even our armored exoskeletons can protect us now."

"So, you ventured back into the galaxy and that's where you came across this place."

"We knew it was built by the Ancients and why, but we were unable to activate it until you came along."

"Look, I'm, I'm sorry that you were ... trapped on a poisonous planet for the last ten-thousand years, I really am. I'm sure it was awful," Daniel's intonation became more forceful and harsh, "but that doesn't justify what you're doing."

"My people are dying. The fact that, as you tell us, our brothers are also dying, only reinforces the need. If we do not do this, our whole civilization, a hundred-thousand years of history, will be wiped out forever. I cannot allow that to happen."

"And I can't allow you to cause the irresponsible, self-indulgent deaths of millions of innocent people."

"You have no choice. As you said, you can't fight me."

The Asgard leader motioned to the other alien, who quickly grabbed Daniel by the neck of his jacket again and forced him out of the room.

====

Daniel was returned him to where Rodney was, an alien pushing the archaeologist inside which caused him to fall face down onto the floor.

~I'm really getting tired of all this pushing and shoving; reminds me of having to bow down to the Goa'uld all the time.~

"Are you okay? I thought you were a goner," Rodney admitted.

"I'm all right."

"I mean, they need me. You're kind of expendable. I just figured they'd ..." Rodney said.

Daniel stood and replied, "Yeah, I got what you meant by 'goner', thank you."

The archaeologist told Rodney about the Asgard and that they refused to turn off the device.

"Then I don't care," Rodney stated. "I mean, as long as that thing is on, then millions of people could die. Besides, I think I figured a way out of here."

"Really?"

Leading Daniel to a panel on one of the walls, Rodney explained, "This is an Ancient facility, and Rodney McKay knows a thing or two about Ancient facilities."

"You know, it has been clinically proven that referring to yourself in the third person is a sign of mental instability, right?"

Smugly, Rodney replied, "Mentally unstable like a fox!" while he removed the panel cover, revealing a mass of cabling inside. "Okay, so here's the plan. I blow the fire monitoring fuse. The system suddenly goes dead. It assumes there could be a fire. It detects life signs inside the room. It unlocks the doors for safety." Still smiling with extreme pleasure, Rodney put two of the cables together and saw them spark. "And, ow!"

Seeing the doors open, Daniel praised, "Good job!"

"It's a good thing they brought you back when they did because, you know, I just assumed you were dead and I was gonna leave," Rodney professed.

"Lucky me!"

The two realized they needed to shut down the device, so they left the room to accomplish their goal, though Daniel was slightly uncertain about the whole thing. They headed forward with Rodney suggesting they needed to get to the device control room. Daniel wasn't necessarily in favor of that since he was certain it was "crawling with soldiers."

Daniel and Rodney began debating how to cause a diversion. Rodney advocated an explosion would work, but Daniel disagreed.

The archaeologist argued, "So, why would you assume if there was a massive explosion, people would go running towards it?"

"Well, I would."

Walking forward, Daniel asserted, "I rest my case."

Sarcastically, Rodney hurried after the other man and responded, "Oh, I'm sorry! You know, I'm a good person. I would wanna save people from the fire, maybe figure out what was going on."

"I, au contraire, would order more guards to protect the one room I thought whoever's blowing things up probably wants to get to." Daniel looked extremely confident. ~You should remember who I'm married to, Mister Special Ops Strategy.~

"Explosion diversion is the very cornerstone of diversions," Rodney maintained.

"You don't have any better ideas."

"I don't have any better ideas, yes," Rodney conceded.

The scientists entered a room where they saw two battle suits. Rodney immediately assumed Asgards were inside each of them. He began to ramble on, trying to convince the suits not to kill him, which he corrected to include Daniel after the archaeologist indicated his displeasure of being left out of the pleading.

The man continued to ramble until Daniel told him, "Rodney, they're just suits." In fact, Daniel had to repeat the fact. "They're empty suits."

Finally, Rodney stopped talking long enough to listen to Daniel and noted that there was no reaction when Daniel ran his hand in front of the battle armor.

"You know, from what I could tell, the inside of the suits form around whoever's in them."

"One size fits all."

"In we go," Daniel spoke with a bit of a smirk.

====

Minutes later, Daniel and Rodney entered the device control room wearing battle armor. They immediately opened fire on the three aliens who were operating consoles in the room. When that was done, Daniel and Rodney removed their helmets.

"Okay, how long to get the device shut down?"

Rodney informed, "Five minutes."

The colleagues immediately went to the console with the intent of shutting down the unit, but it took Rodney only a second or two to realize they were the missing the control key, which was the original device stolen from Janus' lab on Atlantis.

"Can't we just power down the entire facility?" Daniel asked.

"We can't do much more than turn the lights off and on without the component thing."

"Well, we have to do something," Daniel spoke emphatically.

"Wait a second!" Rodney exclaimed. "These suits were designed to protect the wearer from harsh environments, right?"

"Technically, yes."

"Then I have a really terrible idea."

Daniel saw Rodney looking into the other room that was still full of sparking and bemoaned, "Oh no, no, you're not thinking what I think you're thinking."

At the window, Rodney stated, "Radiation in there would be pretty extreme, not to mention those electrical discharges look pretty unfriendly, but the antenna has a control crystal. If we can pull it manually ..."

"I'd say fifty/fifty we can get that far," Daniel speculated.

"I'd go thirty/seventy, but I don't have a better idea and the suits: they should protect us."

Daniel sighed while thinking, ~Jack's gonna kill me, if I live through this.~

The scientists walked over to retrieve their helmets. Daniel was the first to return to the door separating the two rooms.

Rodney looked over and sensed the archaeologist was in deep thought, prompting him to inquire, "What are you thinking about?"

"The Stargate and the incredible journey it's been," Daniel answered. "I never thought there would be anything more exciting than to prove my theories and go through the Gate every week."

"Try working on Atlantis," Rodney heard himself say. "Uh, but don't. I mean ... the job ..."

"Don't worry, Rodney. I'm not after your job, but you asked me what I was thinking."

"The Stargate."

"Yes, and no," Daniel corrected. He glanced over at the other man and asked, "Do you want children?"

"Sure, one day."

"Trust me, Rodney, all of the awe and inspiration you get from Atlantis will pale the day you give your newborn little girl a bath and you count her toes and fingers and know they're all there."

"O'Neill's gonna kill me, isn't he?"

"You've never been his favorite person," Daniel admitted. "It might have to do with stranding Teal'c in the DHD."

"Okay, I made a little mistake. I was wr... wr..."

"Wrong: the word is wrong."

"Yeah, that. So, he's going to kill me," Rodney repeated.

"Only if I die ... and you don't," Daniel spoke whimsically. "So, just make sure we both come out of that room in one piece, or ..."

"I get the picture," Rodney replied while picking up his helmet. He returned to stand alongside Daniel. "You ready?"

"Let's just get this over with," Daniel suggested as both men finally put on their helmets.

"You know, we both don't have to go in there."

"Well, when you get killed by one of those discharges, someone's going to have to finish the job, so ..." the archaeologist said with a shrug.

"Oh, great pep talk. Thanks!" Daniel and Rodney went inside the other room. "I'm pretty sure we wanna avoid those touching us," Rodney said about the discharges.

"Thanks, Coach!"

Rodney kneeled at the base of the device control and removed the panel cover, while Daniel walked around a bit.

"What are you waiting for?"

"I have to pull the right one or the antennae explodes," Rodney answered.

"Hurry up," Daniel urged as he took a few paces away from Rodney, but then turned back to face him. "But get it right."

"Okay. Here goes nothing," Rodney stated upon choosing the crystal he believed would turn off the device. Only before he could do so, multiple arcs discharged, striking Daniel, throwing him across the room, and landing him on the floor. "Daniel!" Rodney quickly returned his focus to the console and removed the crystal, shutting down the unit. Then he hurried to Daniel's side and kneeled down, removing his helmet at the same time the archaeologist also took off his helmet amid grimacing from the pain he felt. "Okay, you're okay; you're okay," he tried to assure.

"Ow!" Daniel gritted his teeth and spat, "Wrong again." He let out a groan before inquiring, "Did you turn it off?"

"I did; we did; you did. Look, where does it hurt?"

After considering the query, Daniel responded, "Everywhere." He gasped from the pain. "I don't suppose there's a hospital nearby?"

"I'm, I'm ... pretty sure we're on our own."

"Good."

"Look, I mean, on, on the bright side, I mean, we're both gonna be dead of dehydration in, like, five days, so you won't have to put up with me for much longer."

Daniel actually smiled at the comment and the relief it was intended to provide. His smile faded, though, as the pain flowed through his body.

"I'm ... I'm, uh, pretty busted up, Rodney. I don't ... I don't think I'm gonna make it that long."

"Okay, um, I know it may not seem like it, but ... I want you to know, I, I, I really respe..." At that precise moment, an Asgard transporter beam whisked the two men to the infirmary of the Daedalus' infirmary where Doctor Keller and other crew members were waiting. "Oh, thank God!"

"I sure am glad to see you two," the physician said as she kneeled down to check on the archaeologist.

Rodney stood and, gesturing down at Daniel, advised, "He's badly hurt."

"Doctor Jackson, can you hear me?" the doctor asked.

"Oh, uh, my hearing is prob...probably the one part of me that isn't hurting," Daniel eked out.

"Don't worry," Keller put forth with a tender smile.

Fortunately for the kidnapped scientists, Colonel Sheppard managed to use a ship belonging to allies to track down the Daedalus, while at the same time, Ronon Dex was able to free the captive crew after he had evaded capture by the Wraith. The bad side was that three Asgard ships were attempting to destroy the Wraith, which they knew were on the Daedalus. Eventually, the Atlantis crew regained control of the Earth vessel and both it and the ally ship returned to safety, after which the Wraith departed in their own smaller ship In the end, two of the three Asgard ships were destroyed with the third one escaping through hyperspace.

====

The next day, Rodney entered the infirmary. Daniel was lying on one of the beds, not quite cognizant of his surroundings as yet after having been sedated as part of his recovery.

"Hey," Rodney called out.

"Hey. Look, we're both alive," Daniel pointed out.

"That's obvious."

"I just meant you don't have to worry about Jack now."

"Are you sure? I mean, um, you did almost die," the nervous scientist stated.
"He'll get over it." Daniel added with a dry sigh. "He always does."

"I just wanted to see how you're doing."

"Still here. Thanks."

"Okay, well, I, I have work to do."

"Okay."

Rodney nodded and left the room, leaving Daniel somewhat amused by the visit. There were two more visits before the day was out, each one brief and about as exciting as watching a fly buzzing around a room. Still, the archaeologist was touched. Rodney seemed to care about his well-being.

====

The next day, Rodney returned yet again. This time, Daniel was sitting up while eating a fruit cup.

"Hey!"

"Mmm."

"How are ya?"

"Well, it hurts to eat this fruit cup," Daniel replied. ~My mouth hurts.~

"Well, don't eat the fruit cup then," Rodney chimed.

"Thank you, Groucho," Daniel spoke as he put down the item. "Listen, not that I don't appreciate the visits, but shouldn't you be trying to figure out a way to try to keep the Asgards out of the shield again?"

"One step ahead of you. It's not gonna happen again."

"Oh! Good."

"You don't think they'd make a run at us again?"

"Well, I'm not sure, but we did ruin the one plan they had to feel free in this galaxy. They might hold a grudge."

Frowning, Rodney responded, "Well, let's hope not."

"I don't think I'll be around to find out, though."

"Yeah, I heard. They're sending you back to Earth," Rodney noted eagerly.

"Yeah, I guess I need some major patching up and recovery, and General Hammond prefers I do that there instead of here, so ..."

"Well, the Daedalus has already picked up a Gate left over from the old Gate Bridge and my team is installing it as we speak, so we should have you home in no time at all," Rodney advised. ~It can't be soon enough.~

"That's good! That is ... good."

"Yes, so ..." Rodney spoke, looking around awkwardly, not really knowing what to say next except maybe for a final 'goodbye'. "Well, it's been, um ... unique."

"Yes! Yes, it has. It sure has, but I do wanna say thank you ... for, uh, saying that you respected me when you thought I was about to die back there."

Once again sporting a frown and shaking his head, Rodney refuted, "Excuse me? I said no such thing."

"Yeah, you did. You were, like, uh, 'I know it may not seem like it but I really respect you', and that means a great deal to me."

"I don't believe I ever finished that sentence," Rodney squirmed.

"How else would you have finished that sentence?" the linguist challenged.

"I would have said 'regret'. I would have said, 'I really regret you being here because none of this would have happened ... otherwise'."

~Liar.~ Daniel stared at Rodney, who failed at his attempt to look nonchalant. "So, you can only give compliments to the dying?"

Confessing the truth of the matter, Rodney replied, "It's something I'm working on."

Looking down at his tray, Daniel asked, "Do you wanna try any of this?"

"Oooh, fries!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no, dive right in, take it," Daniel urged. He saw Rodney helping himself and then reached across to pick up something. "Ow!"

"Daniel, what you said ..."

"About you respecting me?"

"No, but, uh, I guess I do, a little, but, no ... what I mean is what you said about kids."

Daniel smiled as he responded, "Children will change your life, Rodney. All your dreams about being famous, getting paid lots of money, making new discoveries: those are treasured, always, but when you have a child, your perspective shifts and changing a diaper or chasing around a toddler becomes much more fun and fascinating."

Rodney nodded, simply taking in the comment, and then he asked again, "You're sure O'Neill won't kill me."

"I'm sure." Daniel grinned. "You did say you respected me."

Rodney heard the threat and looked around nervously, not wanting anyone to be to close to hear him, and then said, "I respect you, Daniel."

"Thank you, Rodney, and I'm not even dying."

"Good," Rodney responded. "I'm going back to work now. The, uh, the Stargate should be ready for you in an hour or so."

"I can't wait.

Rodney headed for the infirmary exit, but he paused and looked back. He stood there for several seconds.

"Did you forget something?" Daniel called out.

"No, I was just going to say maybe we could work together again some time."

"I'd like that," Daniel replied. "I really would."

Rodney smiled and walked away, leaving Daniel again feeling amused, but hopeful. Perhaps Sam was right after all and Rodney was changing.

====

Daniel spent that night in the infirmary of Stargate Command at Cheyenne Mountain, where Janet Fraiser did a complete physical and review of the man's body. It was in the afternoon when the physician went to her office to evaluate the various test results along with her personal observations.

As Janet focused on her work, a visitor approached Daniel's bedside.

"Thor! Hey!" Daniel greeted.

"I was told you wished to see me," the Asgard responded.

"Yes, uh, did they tell you about what happened when I was in Atlantis?"

"The Asgard have been advised."

"Okay, well, I just wanted to speak with you personally about this. Uh, you see, these ... these Asgard aren't like you. They, uh, well ..."

"They believe the ends justify the means, regardless of the cost to other lifeforms," Thor asserted.

"Something like that. I mean, I don't know the details. I wasn't there, but my understanding is that they attacked the Daedalus, willing to kill its crew because some Wraith were aboard."

"This is who they are and it is why they left this galaxy," Thor stated.

"Well, I don't know how many of them there are, or were. I was told two Asgard ships were destroyed, but one did escape."

"They will not come here."

"Okay, I just wanted you to know what I saw," Daniel spoke.

"Thank you, Doctor Jackson. We will ... keep our eyes open," the small gray alien responded.

Thor nodded and began to walk away. He needed to speak with General Hammond before returning to his ship. He paused, though, and looked over at the archaeologist.

"You do not appear to be ill."

"The verdict isn't in yet, but I'm feeling a lot better today than I did yesterday."

"The Asgard are pleased."

"Thanks, Thor, and thanks for coming."

The Asgard commander nodded and disappeared from Daniel's view.

====

Shortly after Thor's visit, Jack arrived at the Mountain to visit his husband and get the physician's report.

"I thought you were dying," Janet teased as she approached Daniel, a tablet in her hand. "General," she greeted upon seeing Jack.

"I thought I was. I felt like I was."

"Well, you need rest, but other than that ..."

"Home?" both Jack and Daniel spoke at the same time.

"It's the best place for you, Daniel. I learned that a long time ago." Janet smiled and patted the man's hand. She then ran down the official health report, which surprised both men in that the injuries were all minor. "I'm glad you're back. Now get out of here. I need this bed for sick people."

"Yes!" Jack exclaimed with a fist pump. He leaned over and kissed his husband, still not something he did as a rule when at the Mountain, but sometimes, a kiss couldn't be postponed. "I'll get your clothes."

====

Two days later, the Atlantis Stargate activated. The staff knew only that a VIP was coming through for a short visit.

"General O'Neill," Richard Woolsey nervously greeted in surprise.

"Relax, Woolsey. I'm not here for you," Jack replied. "Where's the worm?"

"Worm?" Woolsey repeated. "Oh, you mean Rodney."

"There you go."

"This way," Woolsey replied, leading Jack to Rodney's lab. "If you don't need me ..."

"No, I don't," Jack acknowledged with a small smile. He walked into the lab and observed Rodney McKay seated at a desk, staring at his laptop. "Hello, McKay."

"Oh, no, no, no. He said you wouldn't kill me," Rodney uttered anxiously, recognizing the voice without turning around.

"McKay, I outrank you."

"Oh, uh, yes, of course, you do," Rodney stuttered, standing up and turning to face the general. "Uh, but you know, I'm a civilian."

"Yes, you are."

"He's alive. He's in one piece."

"No thanks to you and your ideas," Jack asserted.

"I, uh, we, uh, I mean us, the both us, solved the problem."

Jack walked three steps closer to the man before stopping. His glare was unmistakable.

"You're a lucky man, McKay. Daniel credits you for actually coming up with the idea to pull the plug on that device."

"Yes, well, I ..." Rodney gloated, his smile evidence of his momentary arrogance.

"He also said you tried to weasel out of going into that room with him."

"We...well...well, I just, I mean, I, I, I only said we both didn't need to go."

"That's my point. You risked Daniel's life for no reason. You're the one who knew how to unplug that thing. Daniel was just standing around, keeping you company. Isn't that right, McKay?"

Leaning back against the wall as if wishing the wall would swallow him up, Rodney gulped, "You are going to kill me."

"I have something for you," Jack stated. He walked forward and took out a lemon from his pocket. He entered Rodney's personal space. "This is for you, McKay. I want you to remember that I gave this to you. I want it to be a reminder that you're alive only because Daniel insisted I don't kill you. Enjoy!"

Taking the lemon, Jack squeezed it, allowing some of the juice to land on the floor, causing Rodney to automatically retreat backwards. The problem was that he was already one with the structure. His head hit the wall, and his hands were trying to latch onto it, his nails scraping anxiously against it.

"Never again, McKay. Do you understand what I'm saying?"

"Yes, General."

"Good. Now I have to get home. My husband is recovering from near death ... again." Jack walked to the door, turned back briefly, and asked while sporting a menacing grin, "How'd you like your time in Russia?"

Rodney gulped and didn't reply verbally. He saw the general's pointed stare and completely understood the threat. Russia was where he was exiled to after the incident when Teal'c was essentially locked inside a DHD and he insisted that after forty-eight hours, any rescue attempt would be futile. So annoyed were Hammond and Jack that when everything was over and done with, Rodney was assigned to Russia, where he remained much too long in his eyes. He had no desire to return there and while he was a civilian, his paycheck came from the United States Air Force. The threat trickled through his body, causing all kinds of unpleasant bodily responses.

"Never again, McKay."

With those final haunting words, Jack left an anxiety-ridden Rodney alone in his lab. He smiled all the way to his next destination while Rodney hurried for the nearest bathroom.

====

"Did you speak with Rodney?" Woolsey asked when Jack returned to the auxiliary control room that was being used until the main control room could be put together after the explosion of the original Stargate.

"I did. Thank you, Mister Woolsey."

"You threatened him, didn't you?"

"I made him a promise. I think I might have made one to you, too, somewhere along the line. If I didn't, I guarantee I thought about it."

"Yes, well, times change."

Jack softened a little and agreed, "They do. You made a mistake firing Carter and one day I may just dig into that some more, but for now ... good luck."

"Thank you, General."

Jack stepped through the new Stargate and returned to Earth.

"How'd it go?" General Hammond inquired as he stood at the foot of the ramp.

"Well. It went well, Sir," Jack smirked. "If you don't need me, General, I'd like to get back to Daniel."

"Tell him he's in my thoughts," Hammond requested.

"Why don't you come over for dinner? The kids would love to see their grandpa."

"I'll do that. Thanks."

"Sevenish?"

"I'll be there."

====

Dinner was calm with the brood happy not only to have their daddy home, but to enjoy a fun evening with their grandfather. Hammond was long gone and the kids were in bed now, fast asleep in their youthful innocence while the lovers were in the living room, slow dancing the rest of the night away. Of course, Janet ordered Daniel to get plenty of rest, but all the archaeologist needed was to be in his soulmate's arms and be at home with their family.

"I tried to communicate with you when Rodney and I were captured, but I didn't think it would work."

"Was that ..." Jack began, becoming lost in thought for a moment. "Danny, was that Friday morning?"

"It was Friday, but I'm not sure of the time. They'd knocked us out and I'm not sure when I woke up, so I don't really know what time it was, but it was Friday."

"A funny thing happened when I was in the game room with the wee ones," Jack spoke. "I felt an odd sensation; it wasn't bad; it was just ... oddly reassuringly."

Daniel smiled and suggested, "Maybe you heard me then; not my thoughts, but my heart. I told you about being abducted, but I promised I was okay and I'd be home soon."

"Yeah, I felt that. No words," Jack conceded, "but there was definitely a feeling."

"Maybe it was me."

"Maybe."

Minutes passed with only the couple's hearts speaking with beats of devotion and need. The two were one as they moved gently across the living room in timing with the romantic music on the stereo.

"Oh, did I tell you I saw John Carpenter on Atlantis?"

"Carpenter? That ..."

"Jack, he's with someone now and that never mattered to me anyway, and you know that," Daniel reminded somewhat sternly.

"Yeah, I know. He's on Atlantis now, is he?"

"Temporary assignment. He'll back in a few months."

"Will he now?"

"Jack, don't you interfere with his career. I know he's supposed to be back in a few months, and if he doesn't show up ..."

"Yeah: doghouse for me."

"Behave, Jack."

"Okay."

More awesome sounds with vocals by Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, and The Letterman played, allowing the soulmates to continue their happy embrace. Nights like this were special and, due to the presence of their children, fewer than Jack and Daniel would like. Thus, they were taking full advantage of the evening.

"Any word from the Asgard," Daniel asked, not moving his head from Jack's shoulder.

"Nope. I don't think they're going to do anything, but Thor seems to be grateful for the warning you gave him."

"I don't think the ... rogue Asgard want to come back to the Milky Way."

"That's what the High Council thinks," Jack replied. "They're going to be one of the headaches for Pegasus."

"Apparently."

Songs passed before the next conversation began.

"Babe, did you really scare Rodney?"

"Let's just say he'll think twice about putting you in danger again."

"It wasn't his fault that I was injured."

"No, it was yours," Jack opined.

Surprised, Daniel did pull back, stopping the dance, but not losing the physical contact.

"Was it?"

"Danny, you told me that it only took one of you to go inside that room and turn that thing off. McKay was the natural choice. He knew how to do it. He's *that* kind of scientist. You didn't have to risk anything and had there been a commanding officer around, you never would have stepped foot into that room. Now, you know that as well as I do."

"I guess so," Daniel sighed, returning into his husband's dancing embrace. "You do know his phobia about lemons is all in his head."

"Yep, but, geez, that was fun," Jack confessed with a chuckle. He reminded, "Sheppard carries a lemon in his pocket all the time to control McKay when he gets all weird."

Daniel simply closed his eyes at the thought and then left it behind.

More music, more sweet songs, and more tender words, kisses, and touches were made as the night ticked onward.

"Angel, who won the war?"

"The war?"

"Jackson versus McKay? Who was the victor?"

"Gawd, you're incorrigible."

"That doesn't answer my question."

"I, uh ... I guess it was a tie. I mean, I was injured and he turned off the device, but I was right about the lab and," he grinned with satisfaction, "Rodney respects me."

"I can't believe you got him to say that."

"He thought I was dying. Of course, I may have led him to believe that."

"A few bruised bones, the usual light concussion, some contusions, but nothing that serious in the end," Jack spoke with relief.

"It felt a lot worse than it was," Daniel admitted. "I mean everything did hurt. I thought every part of me was ... broken."

"That's why you're a doctor of archaeology, anthropology, and philology, and not one of science. Bad diagnosis, Doctor Jackson," the silver-haired man teased.

"I guess it's a good thing Rodney didn't realize that."

"If it had been McKay, he'd still be whining about his scratches."

Daniel was amused and more than that, he was happy, happy to be alive, happy to be home, and happy to be in his Love's arms.

"Jack?"

"Hmm?"

"I love you."

"I love you, too, Angel, to the moon and the stars and beyond."

For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, life was full of love and spice. In recent days, Daniel's trip to Atlantis provided the spice and now Jack was providing the love. Their nation of two strong, the couple adjourned to their bedroom where they reunited their bodies in their own unique way, which also added their own special spice to the night. Who knew what might happen next.

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

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