More Than I'm Supposed To

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Angst, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  S4 - July 30 - August 2, 2000
Spoilers:  Divide and Conquer, Upgrades, Crystal Skull (minor), The Serpent's Lair (minor)
Size:  85kb
Written:  December 30-31, 2017, January 1-5, 2018
Summary:  A machine brands Jack and Sam as potential assassins and feelings are to blame.  So, what's the big deal?
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?~

More Than I'm Supposed To
by Orrymain

“Danny, how long do you think this is gonna take?” Jack asked his lover as they changed into their BDUs in the locker room at Cheyenne Mountain.

“I have no idea.”

“None?”

“Jack, we have to settle on a date for the signing and go over the entire verbiage of the treaty and make sure both sides agree.”

“Sounds tedious.”

“It is, but it's necessary.”

“You know, I'm not sure I trust them much ... anymore,” the colonel confided.

“They're our allies,” Daniel put forth about the Tok'ra.

“Tell that to Tok'ra Spice,” Jack challenged about Freya, the host, and Anise, her symbiote, who earlier in the month made the SGC's naughty list by withholding information that almost led to the deaths of Jack, Daniel, and Sam.

“You can tell her yourself.  She's one of the representatives.”

“Great, just great,” Jack lamented sarcastically.  He finished tying his shoelaces and watched as Daniel put on his jacket.  “Danny, it feels like every time we deal with those people, something wonky happens.”

“We're being tedious today, remember?”

“Yeah, okay, but I don't know.  My gut's really ...”  Jack grimaced as he symbolically patted his vest.

“That's gas.”

“Ya sure?”

Daniel chuckled, amused by his lover's response.

“Choiceless?” the colonel queried needlessly.

“Pretty much,” the linguist agreed.

“Yeah, okay, let's get going.”

Jack followed Daniel towards the door, but once there called out, “Daniel” and reached forward with his left arm and pressed against the door to prevent his life partner from opening it.

“Jack?” Daniel questioned as he turned around.

“I have to do this.  I want to do this, and something tells me we both need to do this.”

“Uh, do what?”

“This.”  Jack reached out with his right hand to caress his Angel's left cheek and then moved in for a not-so-quick kiss.  “I love you.”

“I love you, too, but I think you're worrying for nothing.  The Tok'ra are our allies, Jack.”

“Yeah, so I've heard.”

Daniel raised the palm of his right hand to press against his Love's lower abdomen which was about all he could reach considering Jack was in full gear that included his MP-5 weapon.

“We have a job to do, but tonight, there's ... tonight,” the archaeologist promised with an alluring smile.

“You're on.”

Jack and Daniel made their way to the gate room where they met up with Sam, Teal'c, and SG-14.  The team gated to Vorash, the current Tok'ra base, where the meeting was being held.  Once the greetings were over, the Tau'ri and Tok'ra representatives settled in to finalize the treaty.  The summit was truly to be a momentous event as Per'sus, the Supreme High Councilor of the Tok'ra, was making his first visit to Earth where he and the President would sign the treaty uniting the two universal powers in the fight against the Goa'uld.

====

As the day wore on, a date for the treaty signing, Wednesday, was agreed to by the representatives.  Per'sus, who wanted to be part of the planning and review of the treatise, arrived late, but once there, was gracious and courteous to the earthlings.

Unfortunately, it was at that point when Jack's foreboding about something wonky happening did.  No sooner did Daniel greet the High Councilor than Jack spotted Major Graham, one of SG-14's members, aiming a strange weapon at Per'sus.  The weapon was small, worn by Graham as a ring that expanded when activated.

“*Look out!*” the colonel shouted in warning, having seen Graham's outstretched arm with the device pointed at Per'sus.

Graham began firing, wounding Per'sus and killing his teammate, Captain Blasdale, and two Tok'ra.  He aimed the small weapon at Anise, but Jack actually bounded across the table and pushed her aside.

With the weapon now aimed at him, Jack shouted, “Graham!”

The yell reached something inside the major.  Shaking as he raised his hand towards the device, Graham begged to be stopped.  He then pressed a button on the device that set off some type of self-destruct.  In seconds, an explosion occurred and Graham was blown to bits.

“What the ...” Jack began as he sat back and took in the scene for a moment.  He, and everyone else, needed a few seconds to process the last two minutes.  “Daniel?”

“Here,” the archaeologist called out from another part of the room as he stood up.

“What just happened?”

“Apparently, Major Graham tried to kill the Supreme High Concilor of the Tok'ra.”

Now standing, Jack inquired of no particular Tok'ra, “Is he okay?”

“We don't know yet.  The symbiote has work to do,” Martouf answered from nearby.

With Daniel at his side, Jack looked at his soulmate and gave him a once over, along with a hushed, “I told ya something was going to happen.”

“This doesn't make any sense.  I mean, ah, why would Major Graham want to kill Per'sus?”

“Now that's a question, isn't it?” Jack responded.  “I know his file.  He's clean.  Why would he go south?”

The lovers watched as the Tok'ra tended to their people and took Per'sus to a quieter location where he could hopefully recover.  By this time, it was determined that his symbiote would be able to heel him, news that Martouf quickly delivered to Jack and Daniel.

About that time, Sam joined her teammates and Martouf in the meeting room.  She'd been with other Tok'ra scientists and missed the attempted assassination.  Not long after she was filled in, Anise joined the conversation.  Martouf mentioned that he recognized the device Graham used as being of Goa'uld origin.  Anise put forth that she believed Graham was a zatarc, a victim of mind-control technology that conditioned him to perform an action after a triggering event, which in this case was the arrival of Per'sus.  This was most likely done on a recent mission when Graham, either alone or with teammates, was captured and conditioned in just seconds.  To cover up the mind control, a false memory was placed in his mind before he was released.  He was oblivious to having ever been captured by the enemy.

Though the Tau'ri were off the hook in the blame department since the attack was obviously arranged by the Goa'uld who didn't want the treaty signed, the reality was there could be more zatarcs, or as Daniel called them, “preprogrammed time bombs,” around.

As soon as they could, SG-1 returned to Earth accompanied by Martouf and Anise and the zatarc detector that hopefully would reveal any other conditioned SGC members.  As the Tok'ra were led to where the test would take place, Jack hung back with Teal'c.  For a moment, Jack just stared at the others as they walked away.

Unable to contain himself, the colonel groused, “They're at it again,” before walking away.

====

The obvious place to start the testing was with the other members of SG-14, beginning with Lieutenant Astor, who was questioned and determined to be a zatarc.  Hammond, SG-1, and Martouf all observed the examination and how the detector worked.

An attempt was then made to damage the portion of the brain affected by the zatarc technology.  It was risky.  Anise was not certain what affect the procedure might have on Astor's mind.  Astor chose to go ahead with it, but once it started, the pain was too much for her.  Martouf ordered Anise to shut down the machine, after which Astor went berserk.  She was able to get a gun from one of the Special Forces guards and began shooting.  When Jack called out to her, she used the gun to commit suicide.

Shortly thereafter, Jack and Anise met with Hammond in his office to discuss the situation.  At this point, there were a lot of questions and no answers about the possible danger awaiting Per'sus and the President on Wednesday.  Regretfully, just like Graham's autopsy couldn't help, neither could Astor's.  There was simply not enough brain matter left to allow for suitable testing.  Anise insisted that being able to analyze the brain would be helpful in understanding the mind-control and finding a solution for it.

Hammond advised, “There will be no summit unless we can be sure there's no threat to the President.”

Anise assured, “We can complete the zatarc testing in time.”

“And if we find more?” Jack inquired about potential zatarcs.

“Greater things than the summit will be in jeopardy, Colonel.  Proceed. Dismissed,” Hammond replied.

Standing, Jack quipped, “Well, this is fun!  Who's next?”

“SG-1,” Anise answered as she exited the general's office.

“Do'h!”

As they walked, Anise heard Jack yawn and commented, “Colonel, the zatarc detector catches everything.  It is best if the subjects are fully alert.  You must be able to relax, yet remember everything.”

“Your point?”

“I realize that humans tire more easily.  Perhaps we should begin the testing after you get some rest.”

“Ah, yeah, sure.”  Jack cocked his head slightly and suggested, “Tomorrow morning?”

With a confirming nod, the Tok'ra instructed, “Tell your team it is important to be rested and alert.”

“Okay, I'll do that.  Ah, you'd better tell Hammond.  He'll think I'm trying to get out of something,” Jack mused.

“Goodnight.”

“Yeah, goodnight.”

It didn't take Jack long to pass the word to his team.  Though he thought of leaving without talking to Hammond, he decided to make sure Anise did speak to him about delaying the testing.  With the general's permission, SG-1 went home for the night with orders to return at 0800 hours.

====

After dinner that night, Jack grabbed a beer and settled into his favorite chair.  He shook his head as he thought about the day's incidents.

“Jack, you look you're about ready to ...”

“Explode?”

“Let out gas,” Daniel chuckled.  “Thinking about today?”

“Danny, I don't know about this zatarc business.  See, something else the Tok'ra haven't told us about.”

“They're cautious, that's all.”

“Tell me you aren't the least bit suspicious.”  Jack waited for a response.  “C'mon, Love ... just a wee bit,” he asked, his thumb and finger showing a small distance.

“Okay, maybe a little, but they're doing what they believe they have to do.”

“I don't like being lied to,” Jack whined.  “And did you see that outfit on the Spice girl?”

“Form fitting,” Daniel recalled.

“How does she get that thing on?”

“Carefully?”  After a chuckle, Daniel answered, “The back has those, you know, like shoelaces.”

“Like a snake, slithery in and out, up and down, around and around.”

“Gawd,” Daniel snickered in spite of himself, especially at the sensual way in which his lover was speaking.

“She's a walking advertisement for sexual harassment:  'Lookie here!  I have big ...'”

“Jack!”

“Daniel, we're men.  We're supposed to notice these things.”

“So you remind me.”

“Daniel!  But haven't you noticed she's the only Tok'ra female to wear ... form fitting, bare-midriff clothing?”

“Maybe that's because both the host and the symbiote are female,” Daniel offered.

“That's not a first.”

“No, just saying it's a possibility,” Daniel responded.  “Or it could have something to do with the host's origins.”

“Maybe.  Sorry if I got too out there.  I'll blame it on the beer.”

Jack fidgeted with his bottle and his expression became faraway as he left behind his observations about Freya's anatomy.  He looked down, though he was staring at nothing.

“Jack, we couldn't have prevented anything that happened today.  None of it was predictable.”

“Graham was a good man, and so was Astor; not a man, but you know what I mean.”  Jack sighed, “It's the beer.”

“I know what you mean,” Daniel assured quietly.  He gave his soulmate another few seconds to grief and mourn those lost.  He knew Jack needed that, a moment of acknowledgment and reflection.  ~There's nothing we could have changed.~

Jack let out an audible breath and then bemoaned, “I'm tellin' ya, Danny, those people have more secrets than I have gray hairs.”

“Ah, Babe, do you really want to sit there with your beer, mulling over the good and potentially bad points about how the Tok'ra do business, or would you rather, ah .... you know?”

“You did promise me a ... tonight.”

“I did,” Daniel confirmed as he raised his eyebrows up and down a couple of times and grinned.

The Tok'ra and zatarcs remained forgotten for the rest of the night as the lovers focused on each other for the rest of the evening.

====

First thing the next morning, SG-1 was tested by Anise using the zatarc detector.  No one expected any negative results.  Daniel went first and was quickly declared not to be a zatarc.  Teal'c was next and easily passed.  Sam was next to be tested. Shockingly, she failed and was sent to a holding room under guard.  Jack finished his test last and was stunned to find out that he, too, was branded a zatarc.  He was taken to a holding cell as well, but he was allowed to stop and talk to his 2IC for a minute.

Sitting on her bed, Sam shook her head when Jack entered and stated, “Sir, this has to be a mistake.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Can you talk to General Hammond about getting me retested?  I mean, I'm ...”

“Us,” Jack corrected.

“What?”

“Us retested.  Apparently, I'm one of those zarc-things too.  I'm across the hall.”

“That can't be,” Sam refuted.

“I know.”

“Although, we were both unconscious at the same time,” Sam recalled about the event that resulted in the zatarc labeling.

At issue was SG-1's recent experience while wearing armbands Anise was testing for the Tok'ra. The armbands increased the user's strength and abilities, but they also interfered with their judgement and decision making skills.  Without permission, Jack, Daniel, and Sam went through the Stargate to blow up a new ship being built for Apophis.  In a case of horrible timing, while in the ship, Daniel's armband fell off, weakening him severely.

Under orders from Hammond, Teal'c, who because of his symbiote could not test the armbands, went through the Gate and came upon his teammates while still in the ship.  Jack ordered him to help Daniel out of the ship while he and Sam made sure the C-4 that would destroy the craft before it could be launched was in place.

According to Sam, she was knocked unconscious when she ran into a force field and when she awoke, she saw Jack, lying unconscious on the floor on the other side of the shield.  Similarly, Jack ran into the shield after he first realized Sam wasn't behind him while leaving the ship.  He was going back for her when he, too, went head on into the force field and collapsed.  It was during these collisions that both of their armbands stopped functionally and fell off, as Daniel's did earlier.

With time running out before the blast would go off, Jack tried unsuccessfully to penetrate the force field.  Sam told him to leave her, but he refused, shouting an angst-ridden, “*No!*” at her.

The blast occurred, took out the generator controlling the shield, and Jack and Sam ran to their escape, joining Daniel and Teal'c near the ship's entrance.

“Apparently,” Jack agreed to Sam's unconscious comment.  ~I guess that's when we became zarc-things.~

“Sir, are you worried that it's at least possible?”

“A little.”  After a few seconds, Jack continued.  “They'll figure this out.  Daniel's on it.”

“I don't know that there's anything he can do.”

“Well, I'm not putting my hopes in the Tok'ra.  I'd rather believe in Daniel.”

~No surprise there.~  Sam smiled and replied, “I understand, Sir.”

“Well, my escorts are waiting,” Jack teased as he motioned towards the SFs in the hallway.  “Be seein' ya.”

“Soon, I hope ... Sir.”

Jack nodded and left the room.  He walked across the hallway and settled into his own room.  He plopped onto the bed, bouncing on it to see how soft it was.  Then he reclined, placing his arms beneath his neck and on the pillow.

~Carter's right, Danny, but you're all I have, and I know you'll do everything you can, but how do we fight that dang machine?  I told the truth, the truth I know, anyway, and it is the truth.  Isn't it?~

====

Near the end of the day in the briefing room, Hammond sat at the head of the table as usual, with Teal'c, Daniel, and Janet on one side, and Martouf and Anise on the other.

“I do not believe that ColonelO'Neill and MajorCarter are zatarcs,” Teal'c stated.

“We can't prove they aren't,” Daniel responded, instantly regretting his remark.  ~Sometimes, I need to shut up.  Gawd, it's like 1969: nyet.  Jack's right: I talk too much.~

Martouf advised, “We must continue to keep them isolated in order to prevent them from being exposed to their programming triggers.”

“We don't know for sure it's the President,” the general returned.

“No,” Anise agreed.

“Then we're talking about keeping them confined indefinitely,” Hammond surmised.

“At least until we can come up with another course of action,” Janet confirmed.

Anise noted, “The good news is that we have found no more zatarcs among SGC personnel.  The High Councilor and his advisers have also been tested back on Vorash.  There should be no danger to the summit meeting.”

Standing, Hammond ordered, “I want good news regarding Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter.”

“We'll keep working on it, Sir,” Janet promised as she stood.  ~But at this point, I'm afraid it's going to take a miracle.~

As he, and Anise, also stood, Martouf inquired, “What shall I tell the High Councilor regarding the meeting with the President?”

“It's on,” Hammond answered and then returned to his office.

“Doctor Jackson, we must complete the treaty,” Martouf stated calmly.

“Yes, we must.  We can, ah, go over it again in the morning,” Daniel replied.  When the room was clear of people, the archaeologist stood and walked over to the window.  He stared out at the Stargate for which he still held so much awe. He sighed and wondered, ~How could this have happened?  I know you aren't lying, Jack.  Neither is Sam, but ... it's not about lying.  They said it could only take moments, seconds, for the mind-control to be applied: moments.  You and Sam were unconscious for a little bit of time when you were aboard Apophis' new ship, so it could have happened.  It must have happened.  How do I fix this, Jack?  I can't let you be triggered.  Gawd, what a nightmare.~

“Doctor Jackson?” Hammond called out.

“General?”

“Are you all right, Son?”

~No.~  Daniel nodded and answered, “I'm fine, Sir.  Thank you.  I was ... just thinking ... about the treaty.”

Hammond sensed that wasn't the archaeologist's worry and replied, “I'm confident Doctor Fraiser and the Tok'ra will come up with something to help Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter.”

Daniel nodded and managed to eke out a small, “Me, too.”  He motioned towards the door and said, “Goodnight, General.”

“Goodnight.”

Daniel walked out of the briefing room and headed for the elevator.  He wasn't going home, though.  There was no way he could that.  Instead, he headed for the holding room to be with Jack, at least for a while.

====

“Daniel!” Jack called out happily when he saw the door open to his holding cell.

“Hi, Jack,” Daniel returned with a smile.  “No yo-yo?”

“There's only so many around the world's I can do,” Jack answered about one of his favorite yo-yo tricks.  “To be honest, I'm going out of my mind.”

“I'm sorry.  Can I bring you something?  A book?  Opera music?”

“No,” Jack sighed.  “I couldn't enjoy it right now, but thanks for the thought.”

“Jack, you can't just sit here.”

“Sure, I can.  Besides, I'm building a plane.”

“A plane?”

“Yeah, in my head.  It's a nifty new jet fighter, with state-of-the-art alien technology,” the colonel mused.  “Anything happening out there?”

“With ...”

“The Stargate?”

“General Hammond's canceled all missions until after the summit and any team off-world has been ordered to stay put until notified.”

“Smart move,” Jack responded.  “I can't believe they got us.  I know we were unconscious for a bit, but I don't feel any different, Danny.  You'd think I feel something.”

“Lieutenant Astor didn't, and I'm sure Major Graham didn't, either.  We were with Graham, Jack.  He didn't give off any danger signs.”

“I'm not trying to say I'm some ... super colonel, but I've trained for situations like this.”

“Not exactly, Jack.  Your Special Ops training was directed at techniques and methods used on Earth, not ... out there.”

“Here's the thing,” Jack returned.  “The mission with SG-14 was a planned meet and greet.  It was on the schedule for a while.  Danny, no one knew we were going to Apophis' ship, no one, unless there's a spy among the Tok'ra who was working on that armband thing.”

“Okay, so ...”

“... so the Jaffa have been walking around with these finger weapons and mind-control whatevers, just waiting for us to walk in?  Does that sound logical to you?”

“Not really.”

“I know I didn't lie.  I told the truth, so how is it I'm a zatarc, and Carter, too?”  Jack made a sound and then grimaced.  “Danny, if I'm a zatarc, where's the weapon?  It's a ring, right?  Where the heck is it?”

“I have no idea.”

“Dang machine says we're those zarc-things, but where's the evidence?”

“I don't know,” the scientist replied as he bowed his head.  ~But you've made some very good points.  I just don't know how to use that, or prove that they mean you aren't a zatarc.  The machine says you are.  Gawd, I hate this.~

“Daniel?”

“Yes?”

“I need aspirin.  I'm not used to thinking so much.”

After a second, Daniel smiled.  For a while, he and Jack chitchatted about insignificant subjects as they passed the time together.  Then Daniel looked at his watch.

“You have somewhere to be?” Jack asked.

“I ... Jack, I have to work on the treaty.”

“It's late, Daniel.  You should go home and get some sleep.”

“I have to get this done.  I'll get some sleep.”

“In your office?”

“Probably.”

The couple stood and faced each other.  All Jack knew they could do was hug, as friends hug, so he pulled Daniel in and the two embraced, careful not to let their hands wander or their bodies pull them together in such as a manner as to attract attention.

“Tomorrow,” Jack stated quietly.  **I love you, Angel.**

**I love you, too, Jack,** Daniel replied and turned quickly to leave the room.

Jack looked around his now-empty accommodation and felt lost.  He didn't want to think.  He'd already put too much brain power for the day.  He searched and discovered his yo-yo beneath his pillow, so he put his chair against the wall near the head of the bed and got as comfortable as he could; then he began to play with the yo-yo, his mind focused only on the tricks he tried to accomplish them.  Little did he know he would have another visitor before bedtime and this one wasn't wanted.

====

The next morning, Daniel exited the shower in the locker room and began to dry off.  His hands moved slowly, however, as he kept thinking about the points his lover made the evening before.  He'd spent most of the night working on the treaty, but now he was honed in on one key point Jack made and he wanted a sounding board with whom to mull it over.  Once dressed, he went to the infirmary, drew Janet's attention, and spoke with her in her office.

“I mean, where *is* the weapon?  Is, is it in their skin?”

“No, I don't see any indication of anything implanted,” Janet responded.

“And if it were, why was Lieutenant Astor wearing the ring when she was tested?  Wouldn't it ... not be visible at times when she wasn't in the trigger range?  I mean, Per'sus wasn't here on Earth and the President wasn't here.  *Why* was she still wearing the ring?”

“Daniel, anything I'd say would be purely speculative.  Beyond that, I don't have any answers for you except that I'm positive nothing was implanted in Major Graham or Lieutenant Astor.”

“And Jack and Sam?”

“They've both undergone thorough examinations.  There's nothing at all unusual, no variances, no anything from their last exams.”

“And neither of them have rings.  Jack doesn't even wear rings.  It would stand out.  Sam, too,” Daniel put forward.

“They must have the rings hidden.”

“Where?  They've been searched.  I've looked in Jack's office and Sam's lab,”  Daniel admitted.  “It would have to be nearby.”  He shook his head and repeated something he'd said many times over the past twenty-four hours.  “It doesn't make sense.”

“Daniel, we're all upset.”

“Where are the rings, Janet?”

“I wish I knew.”  Janet reached out and touched her friend's forearm.  “Look, I have to check on some patients.  We'll keep working on this.  I'll let you know if we figure anything out.”

~But this is important.~

Daniel nodded as the physician picked up a chart and left her office.  He stood, pensively, for a minute, wishing answers would come to him.  He bemoaned not being able to focus on it longer, but he was due to meet with Martouf and the other representatives in ten minutes.  Having no choice, he exited the infirmary, his mind still turning over possibilities as he walked.

~How many mind-control devices do the Goa'uld have, or, or intend to use on this?  How could they know we'd be the ones trying to take out Apophis' ship?  The Gate was heavily guarded, but that's normal protocol.  Okay, okay, so ... so maybe they had it ready in case we showed up.  They surmised the Tok'ra might tell us about it.  Tell us about it?  The Tok'ra?~

Daniel was walking swiftly, so caught up in his pondering that he ran into an airman.

“I'm sorry,” Daniel spoke.  “I wasn't looking where I was going.”

“No problem, Sir,” the airman replied and kept on moving.

Still standing in place, the archaeologist heard voices, unkind voices, gossiping voices.  The words were about Jack and Sam, speculation and implications about the two being in a relationship that was against regulations.  Daniel didn't look at the men belonging to the voices.  He didn't want to right now.  He sighed.  He hated gossip, but he couldn't complain about this particular rumor.  It was the one that was essential to the game that was keeping his relationship with Jack safe.

Specifically, the game had Sam pretending to have feelings for her commanding officer, and vice versa.  With base personnel believing Jack and Sam had the hots for each other, it protected Jack and Daniel from being outed.  It was actually Sam's idea, begun not long after she realized her teammates were in love.

~The game: a necessary evil.  Evil: the Goa'uld.  Geez, I'm going to be late.~

His mind refocusing on the treaty, Daniel hurried to the briefing room.

====

An hour later, Daniel and others were in the briefing room working out the final treaty.  They were interrupted when Anise entered with a new concern.

“Excuse me.  I have been reviewing my notes on prior incidents with zatarcs and I'm concerned that we are endangering Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill by keeping them confined.”

“Why?” Daniel inquired.

“In at least one case, I think the zatarc lost control when it became evident they could no longer achieve their objective.”

“So, by keeping them confined ...”

Martouf interjected, “They won't be able to fulfill their programming and they will become self-destructive.”

The group continued to discuss the situation and the dangers of keeping Jack and Sam confined.  There didn't seem to be any answers.

“So, what do we do?” a helpless Daniel finally asked.  When he heard the answer, his heart broke.  ~I should have listened to Jack when he said it was ... wonky.  We should have gone to the cabin, or anywhere that wasn't here.  If we weren't here ... no, it would have happened.  Jack couldn't have stayed away.  The programming is too strong.~

“I will talk to Samantha,” Martouf stated.

“I will tell Colonel O'Neill,” Anise advised.

“No,” Daniel negated.  “I'll talk to Jack.”

“If you think that would be better,” the female Tok'ra responded.

“Better?  Ah, yes, I think so.”

“Keep me apprised,” Hammond instructed as he ended the briefing.

Daniel and Martouf quickly exited the room, leaving the others behind.

====

Daniel entered Jack's quarters.  He wanted to do more than a verbal greeting, but the SF standing right outside the door, a door with a window in it, made that impossible.  Still, with Jack lying down, Daniel was tempted to fling himself atop his partner.  He had to refrain, much to his despair.

“Hey,” the linguist greeted simply, putting his hands in his pockets to maintain control and distance.

“Hey,” Jack said, his left hand atop his chest and his right hand resting above his forehead and holding a blue yo-yo.  “You okay?”

“What do you think?”

“Had to ask.”

“I know.”

“Anything new?” the colonel questioned.  ~He would have told me the second he walked through that door if there were anything good to be said.~

“Actually, you have a choice,” Daniel answered.  “You can undergo the procedure that Lieutenant Astor began.”

“Daniel, she shot her brains out!”

“Anise believes the procedure would work if we gave it a chance.”

“Didn't we do that already?”

“Remember the crystal skull?” Daniel put forth.  “Teal'c interrupted the process and that's what put me in a different phase.  It's like that.  We needed to give the skull time to work, and it's the same with the zatarc device.  Interrupting it was possibly what caused Lieutenant Astor to ...”

“Go bonkers?”

“Lose control.”  Daniel drew a breath as he looked down for a second.  “Bottom line is you could come out completely intact.”

“Or not!” Jack exclaimed as he sat up.

“Or not,” the younger man admitted as he bowed his head.

“What's Carter say?” Jack asked.

“I don't know.  Martouf is explaining it to her now.”

More quietly, Jack inquired, “What would you do?”

“I honestly don't know.”

There were seconds of silence as the clouds of doom hung over the lovers.  Daniel shifted, removing his hands from his pockets and then closing his arms across his chest.  He needed the protection, the shield from the pain that neither man could afford to express in the moment.

Jack was feeling the same.  He feared moving off the bed and starting something that the two men couldn't finish.  Besides, he needed to tell Daniel about the unexpected visit he had from Tok'ra the night before.

“She made a pass at me.”

“Sam?” Daniel asked incredulously.  ~She wouldn't do that.~

“Anise, Freya, one of 'em.”

“Really?”

“The host half.”

“Uh ... that's odd.”

“You're telling me,” Jack agreed.  “Odd timing, too, don't ya think?”

“Yes.”

“Apparently, the snake likes you,” Jack advised as he continued to play with his yo-yo.

“Really?”  Daniel watched as Jack attempted to play with the toy, the string bunching up and not cooperating.  “You know, I think these are the Jack O'Neill moments I'll probably miss the most.”

“What?”

“What?”

“Danny, I don't want to lose my mind.  My mind's already half gone.  I can't afford to lose any more of it.”

“I, uh, I'll support you, Jack, with whatever you decide.”

The lovers stared long and hard at each other.  It was all they could do.  It wasn't just the SF, but these holding rooms were monitored.  They couldn't hide in a corner.  They couldn't touch.  All they could do was look.

“Danny, you know my answer.”

“Yes, I know,” was the vulnerable reply.  After several seconds, he lamented, “I have to get back.”

“How's the treaty coming?”

“We should have it done in time.”

“Can't sign a treaty if it's not written,” Jack teased.

“Jack, do you remember having a ring?  Any ring, after we destroyed Apophis' ship?”

“I told you, I don't have one of those rings,” the colonel insisted.  “Check my office,” he challenged.

“I did, and Sam's lab, too.  There's nothing there.”

“Because we don't have one of those blasted things,” Jack spat.  “Did the Tok'ra do a diagnostic on their zarc monster?”

“Yes, I asked Anise to make sure it was functioning correctly.  She insists there's nothing wrong with it.”

“Then where would the ring be?”

“I'm not sure.”  As he thought, Daniel realized there was one place he hadn't yet searched.  “I didn't check your locker.”

“Check away, and Carter's, too.”

“I'll ask her.”

“Daniel, this is an order.  Check both our lockers, and for once, listen to me!”

“I always listen to you, Jack.”  Daniel smiled and sighed at the lack of time he had to spend with his partner.  “I have to get back.  General Hammond wants a report ... ten minutes ago,” he lightly mused.  “I'll see you later.”

Daniel turned and knocked on the door for it to be opened.

“Daniel,” Jack called out as he stood up.

Daniel turned and faced his soulmate just as the SF unlocked the door.

“Good luck, with the treaty,” Jack stated.

The archaeologist couldn't risk speaking.  He didn't think he had a voice.  He nodded and hurried away, but as he walked, he heard the declaration.

**I love you, Danny.**

**I love you, too, Jack.  We'll figure this out.**

**Can we make that sooner rather than later?**

**I'll try.**

With that, the communication ended.  Daniel knew he should return to the briefing room, but upon exiting Jack's holding cell, he noticed Martouf was still speaking with Sam.  He decided to detour to the locker room where he carefully inspected the personal lockers belonging to his soulmate and to Sam.  He didn't see anything of suspect and there were definitely no rings present.  After that, he headed down to Level 27.

====

With Daniel and Martouf once again present, the briefing continued, only the subject now was to review the decisions of Jack and Sam.

“I am sorry, General Hammond, but Sam has chosen to forego the procedure,” Martouf reported.

“So has Jack,” Daniel added.

“O'Neill and MajorCarter do not trust the zatarc machine,” Teal'c put forward with an underlying suggestion that it was the Tok'ra the two didn't trust.

“I understand why they wouldn't trust me,” Anise stated.

“I think it's more they would rather risk dying than lose who they are,” Daniel suggested strongly.

“We can be sure they won't threaten the President, but how do we keep them from harming themselves during the summit?” Hammond queried with great concern.

Janet answered, “We plan to sedate them and put them in restraints.”

“Until when?” Daniel asked.  ~This can't be indefinite.  It can't be.~

“Daniel, we can't risk their lives until we learn more,” Janet responded.

“Yes, I understand, but there has to be more we can do.”

“What would you suggest?” Anise questioned.

“I don't know, but ... something.”  Daniel paused and with an upbeat offered, “Maybe Sam can help.”

“Doctor Jackson ...” Hammond began, only to be cut off.

“Major Carter could certainly be of assistance, but if we are right about the zatarcs killing themselves when they cannot perform their programming, she would be at risk every second.”

“We, we could watch her, them.”

“Daniel, it's for them that we're doing this.  Both Colonel O'Neill and Sam are well trained.  You know they are capable of taking out several SFs on their own at any time,” Janet reminded gently.  “We have to do this.”

“It is the best course of action,” Anise seconded.

Daniel nodded, saying nothing as Hammond ended the session.  He felt cold inside and so afraid.  He wanted to run to Jack, but once again, he couldn't.

“Doctor Jackson, we must still complete the treaty.  I have reread it in its current form and there are changes I think we should make,” Martouf advised.

“Yes, Yes, I, uh, I have changes, too.  Excuse me,” the linguist stated as he stood up and left the room to get his notes and take a moment in private to steel himself to what was scheduled to happen the next day.

====

“Hey,” Daniel greeted that evening upon entering Jack's room.

“Hey,” Jack called out softly from his place on the bed where he was seated and fidgeting with his hands.

“Have you had dinner?”

“Why?  Do I look fat?”

“I take it that means you've eaten.”

“Twice,” Jack conceded.  “There's nothing to do in here but eat and play with my yo-yo.”

“Uh, you may have done enough of that,” Daniel mused.

“You eat?”

“I'm not really very hungry.”

“Daniel, when you leave here, eat.  That's an order.”  Jack saw the 'I don't take orders' look and added, “Okay, it's a request, from me, your ... friend.”

“Okay,” Daniel agreed.  “Uh, we finished the treaty.”

“Great.  So, everything's set for tomorrow.”

“Yes.”

“Danny, sit down.  You're making me nervous, standing there, hovering.”

“Me?  Hovering?”  As Daniel walked over to the chair and sat down, he argued, “That's your thing.”  After a minute, he informed Jack that, “I checked the lockers.”

“Nothing, right?”

“Nothing.”

The lovers sat and stared in silence, needing what they couldn't have until Jack whined, “For crying out loud,” and stood up.  He retrieved a dark sock and walked over to the side of the room was the security camera was.

To Daniel's amazement, Jack put the sock over the camera and then turned to face him, giving him a wicked grin.

Then Jack looked through the window in the door and smiled at the SF standing guard before calmly walking over to Daniel, pulling him up from the chair, and leading him over to the wall next to the door.

“I've been waiting for this since they plugged me into that dang machine,” the colonel said before kissing his soulmate, something that unleashed a strong urge and desire for both men.

“Jack, they could open the door at any time.”

“I don't friggin' care, Daniel.  What are they going to do to me?”  Jack laughed, “I'm about to be a drugged-out zombie for who knows how long.”

“I guess you have a point,” Daniel responded as his fingers anxiously stroked and pawed his Love's body.

“I need you.”

So many times, Daniel said those words to Jack.  Their love and need for each other was huge and so often they took risks.  In times past, they'd made love in storage closets and offices.  This was nothing different, except it came with a higher level of danger.  If someone was monitoring the camera and realized it was covered, they could come to the room to check on the activity.  The real risk was with the SF who was outside, feet away.  If he looked inside and wondered where the two men were, he could unlock the door and catch them in the act.  It wouldn't hurt Daniel, a civilian, but Jack's career would be over.  Then again, Jack had a point.  Their future was facing an indeterminate pause.  As much as Jack needed this time together, Daniel wanted it.

Within seconds, the two exploded with their love.  They held nothing back, disrobing completely and putting all of their combined energies into producing orgasms that sent them both to their heights of euphoric pleasure.  They yearned for more, but didn't press their luck.  They cleaned up and dressed.  Jack made another appearance in front of the door window and Daniel walked by, pretending to lecture Jack on something.  It was a deceit of necessity that neither man regretted.

The lovers sat down on the floor and leaned against the wall, again out of sight from the looming SF.  Jack put his arm around Daniel and pulled him close.

“Remember, I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“Danny, I know this is going to be hard on you, but we'll get through it.”

“We'll find a way.”

“I'm afraid you'll have to find it.  I'll be a little ... unavailable,” Jack groaned.

“Anise promised they'd keep working on it, as a priority.”

“Right.”

“Jack!”

“Daniel, I'm sorry.  I don't trust her.  I don't trust them, not much.  I know they're allies, but their allies with secrets.”

“We have secrets.”

After staring into his Heart's eyes, Jack acquiesced, “Good point.”  After a minute, he asked, “How are the fish?”

“The fish?”

“Our fish.”

Daniel chuckled, “Fine, I guess.  I need to put more food in the feeder tonight.”

“Tell them hello.”

“I'll do that.”

For a time, the lovers sat in the serenity of their presence.  They held hands and were simply grateful for the time together.  However, both knew the longer they sat, the greater the odds were of being discovered.  Finally, Jack gazed into Daniel's eyes and Daniel gazed into Jack's, and they knew.  It was time to say goodbye.

“No matter what happens, I love you,” Jack declared.

“It won't be long,” Daniel promised.  “I love you, Jack, so freakin' much.”

After a few more kisses, Daniel stood, put on his green jacket, and tapped on the door to get the SFs attention.

With the door open, Daniel called out, “Thanks for the help, Jack.”

“Anytime.”  Jack smiled.  “Goodnight, Daniel.”

“Goodnight, Jack.”

With the passage of a prolonged moment, Daniel left the holding room and headed for the locker room to change and go home.

====

Wednesday morning, Daniel dressed at home, putting on one of his better suits.  After all, the President was coming to Stargate Command to sign the treaty.  Even as he drove to Cheyenne Mountain in his Silver Fox, the sporty car Jack bought for him, Daniel's mind was running over the zatarc situation.  He felt frustrated and helpless to do anything to save his lover.  He believed Jack, that he wasn't lying about not lying.  There was no ring.  Unless there was a Tok'ra spy, the Goa'uld could not have known that SG-1 would be aboard Apophis ship, and in spite of what he said to the colonel about it previously, he did think that Jack's Special Ops training should have helped him to fight the mind control.

In his heart, Daniel was certain Jack was not a zatarc, and yet, the detector said he was.  It was a machine making the accusation.  The problem for the archaeologist was that he had no way of fighting that machine and of challenging the results.  He saw the test results himself and how the color changed and showed deception.

“It makes no sense,” Daniel spoke aloud as he turned onto the winding road that led up to the base.  ~And there's nothing I can do.~

Daniel parked and checked in as required.  He spoke with General Hammond briefly and also with Anise and Janet, hoping there was a break.  There was not.

His heart heavy, Daniel made his way to Jack's room.  Within minutes, Jack would be sedated for an indefinite period of time.  It burdened Daniel's soul.  His joy in life came from Jack and his passion for archaeology, and now Jack was being taken from him.

“Hi,” Daniel greeted as he entered the room.  He noted Jack was on the bed, leaning against the wall.  “Are you okay?”

“Peachy,” Jack sighed as he set up and stood.  “You know, this makes a great prison.  They could have given us VIP rooms.”

“Not as much security.”

“Yeah.”  Jack sighed, “No reprieves?”

“It's going to take time.”

“Time doesn't seem to be on our side right now.”  Scratching the side of his head for a moment, Jack turned around.  “Where'd I put that yo-yo?”

“Are you sure Teal'c didn't take it?”

With a sneer, the colonel shook his head and responded, “He was having trouble with walking the dog.”

“What?”

“Never mind.”

Daniel sat down on the chair that was now near the foot of the bed and on the other side from where it was originally.  He leaned forward slightly as a myriad of thoughts ran through his head.  Yet, none of his thoughts seemed to matter.

“I told the fish hello for you.”

“Cool.  Any response?”

“Gurgles.”

“Nice of 'em.”  After both men released tiny chuckles, Jack sat down at the end of the bed and clasped his hands together.  Then he asked about the Denver-based baseball team that he followed.  “Hey, how'd the Rockies do?”

“Ah, they won, two to one, but they lost the night before.”  It wasn't that Daniel followed baseball, but he made a point of checking up on his lover's favorites, just in case.  ~At least I could that for him.  I've been useless otherwise.~

“Match game tonight then.”  Jack sat up straighter for a minute and said, “We need to go to another game.”

“Yeah.”

“Home or away?”

“What?”

“Danny, should we travel, maybe catch 'em when they're playing the Mets in New York, or wait for the Cubs to come back?”

“Won't you, ah, have divided loyalties?” Daniel asked in consideration of Jack's hometown loyalty to Chicago in addition to his residential favorite, Denver.

“Nah, I can handle it.”  Jack smiled.  His energy level lowered quite a bit as he came down from the brief fun of the conversation.  “Maybe we'll go again sometime.”

“I'd like that, Jack.”

Just then, the door opened and this time it was Freya, who was surprised to see Daniel present.

“I am sorry to interrupt.”

“No, you're not,” Jack snarked from his sitting position.  “Must be time for the big show if you're here, though,” Jack opined.

“Colonel O'Neill, I am sorry for whatever part Anise and I played in your being in this situation.”

“Yeah, whatever.  Look, if you don't mind ...”

Once again, the door opened.  The SF pushed it back which indicated that the lovers were out of private time.  All they could do now was pray that somehow their forever wasn't over.

Jack and Daniel watched as a nurse wheeled in the IV equipment with Janet on her heels with the defibrillator atop a cart.

“It's the only way to be absolutely sure you won't hurt yourself,” Janet told the colonel as the cart came to a stop.

As the SF closed the door, Jack asked, “No choice?”

“No,” the doctor responded.  “You won't feel anything.  It'll be like falling asleep.”

“For how long?”

“As long as it takes to find a treatment with better odds than the one we have available.”

In a hushed tone, Daniel interjected, “The President is due to arrive in less than an hour.”

Seeing Teal'c enter, Jack questioned, “Come to say your goodbyes?”

“If there's anything that you require, O'Neill?”

“Another option.”

Anise reminded, “There is still time to try the procedure.”

Soberly, Jack stated, “You said if you could have done a proper autopsy on Astor, you might have been able to solve this thing.”

“It would have provided much more information,” the Tok'ra affirmed.

“I'll do it.”

Daniel's heart stopped beating, causing him to startle as he called out, “What?”

“Hey, I've done the drugged-out, strapped-to-the-bed thing.”

“And if what happened to Lieutenant Astor happens to you?” Daniel asked anxiously.  ~Jack, don't, or maybe do.  I don't know what's best.~

Looking at his true love, Jack suggested, “Maybe it'll help Carter.  Her brain's worth a lot more than mine.”  He looked at his soulmate's concerned face while communicating, **Don't be angry, Danny.**

Daniel looked away, uncertain how to react other than to remain in place until he was sure he wouldn't collapse upon standing.

**Danny?**

**No, Jack, I'm not angry.  I'm not sure what I am.**

“Colonel, are you sure?” Janet inquired.

With a bob of his head, Jack asked, “The odds are fifty-fifty, right?”

“Sir, I'm not sure what the odds are.  We just don't know enough one way or the other,” Janet answered.

“It can work,” Anise added confidently, which really didn't do much to soothe Jack or Daniel.

After a moment, Jack's eyes converged on his Love and he stated strongly, “I have to do this, Daniel.”

Daniel looked around, seeing all eyes on him.  In a split second, Jack made it clear that the archaeologist was his focus and that he needed him to understand.  He looked down, trying to find his voice, but there were too many people present.  He could barely process Jack's announcement, let alone respond to it.

“Would you give us a moment before we do this,” Jack asked the physician after sensing Daniel's dilemma.

Understanding the close friendship that existed between Jack and Daniel, Janet motioned for the nurse to leave and then said, “We'll be outside when you're ready.”  As she reached the Tok'ra, she called out expectantly, “Anise,” and waited for her to exit before she left the room as well.

Now alone with his everything, Jack glanced up at the camera, wishing he hadn't removed the sock.

“Daniel, I need you to understand why I'm doing this.”

“It's your choice and I told you I'd support whatever decision you made.”

“If I let Doc put me out, it could be for the rest of my life.  I'd be a drugged-out zombie.  I'd never get back to you.”

“I know.”

“If I try the procedure, there's a chance it will work.”

“You don't believe that, Jack.”

“I'm hoping it will.  I *want* it to work.  Boy, do I want it to work.  If it does, the treaty gets signed and we go home tonight.”

“And if it doesn't?”

“Then maybe Anise can learn something that will help Carter.  Maybe that would make it worth it.”

“Maybe,” Daniel agreed half-heartedly.

“Danny ...”

“I know, Jack.  I know.”

Standing with his back to the camera and with a sweet smile and soft voice, Jack whispered, “To the moon and back and beyond, La Mio Bello Stella Cadente.”

Jack's beautiful falling star replied, “Caro mio.” He worked hard not to let the moisture in his eyes develop into tears.  ~I have to believe the procedure will work.  I have to believe.~

For a moment, the lovers rested their heads together, their foreheads touching.  It was the only way they could touch right now, but it gave them some closeness and neither cared if someone saw them on the security camera or from the corridor.

“I'd better go tell Sam,” Daniel said, breaking the spell and backing a few steps.

“Uh, ask them to let me have another minute.”

“Okay.”

Jack saw the guard looking in, stopping him from saying aloud more words that he deeply wanted to say.  He chose to use the couple's unique communication ability instead.

**Danny, you gave me a reason to live again.  I've been really happy these last couple of years; it's all because of you.  I love you.**

**And I love you and ...**

A knock on the door preceded it being opened by the guard.

Forcefully, Jack grizzled, “I said give us a minute.”

“Yes, Sir,” the guard responded quickly, closing the door again.  ~I don't know what's going on, but I'm not going to get on O'Neill's bad side.~

“Danny ...”

**I love you, too.**

After a few more seconds of silent declaration of their enduring love, Daniel left to speak with Sam, while Jack regrouped and readied himself for what he felt would probably be his last living minutes.

====

Janet and the nurse went with Daniel to Sam's room.  The nurse began to prepare the IV solution while Daniel and Janet filled Sam in on Jack's sudden decision.  Naturally, she was upset.  She didn't want him sacrificing himself for her.  She tried to leave the room, but the guards stopped her.  Seeing Jack, Teal'c, Anise, and two SFs walking down the corridor, she called out to Jack, who looked back, but kept walking towards the room where the procedure would take place in a few minutes.

“You have to stop him!” the blonde exclaimed.

“It's his choice,” Daniel responded.

“Sam, please, I have to do this,” Janet advised, now that she was ready to sedate the major.

Sam closed her eyes in frustration, but did as Janet requested.

Daniel didn't know what more to say and started to walk out, but then Sam surprised everyone by standing up again and brushing by the doctor to get to the archaeologist.

“Daniel, how can you let him do this?”

Daniel turned around and answered, “I can't stop him.  If I were in his position, I might do the same thing.”

“But you're his ... his best friend.  He'll listen to you.”

“I'm sorry, Sam.”

“Sam, it's time.  Please,” Janet beckoned, nodding at the bed.

Feeling anxious and anything but relaxed, Sam reluctantly gave in and returned to the bed.

Daniel watched for a minute, maintaining eye contact with the unhappy blonde.  He let out a sigh, gave her nod, and then left the room.

=====

Daniel's heart was about to jump out of his chest.  He'd just arrived in the gate room and advised General Hammond about Jack's choice and Sam being sedated.  As part of the welcoming committee for the Tok'ra, he needed to focus and yet, he couldn't concentrate, not even when Per'sus praised him for having written “an inspiring document.”  His mind was on Jack and what was happening.  He wanted to be by his lover's side and considered going to him.  The treaty was done.  It was only the formalities that needed to be concluded.  Still, he stayed, knowing he had an obligation to fulfill.

--

Jack, meanwhile, sat in the chair, staring at the zatarc device.  He already had on the headband that the machine utilized in its readings.  He saw Teal'c approach and pull out his zat, aiming it in his direction.

“Right.”

The colonel drew a larger than normal breath.  He was glad his lover wasn't present.  He didn't want Daniel to see his life end, if that was to be the case, in the minutes to come.

~Let's get this show on the road.~

--

When Hammond was advised of the President's arrival at Peterson Air Force Base, he told Per'sus, “It will take fifteen minutes for the President's motorcade to arrive.  If you'll excuse me, I'll meet him at the surface and then be back soon.”

--

As the sedative began to take effect on Sam, it dawned on her what the problem was and why she and her commanding officer were labeled zatarcs.  She managed to get Janet's attention and convinced her to stop the sedation process.

Trusting Sam, Janet hurriedly headed for the testing room.

“If you are ready, we will begin,” Anise told Jack, who said nothing in reply.

Just as the machine was about to be started, Janet ran in to the observation area and called out over the microphone, “Stop!”

~Huh?~ Jack thought.

“Has something happened, Doctor Fraiser?” Anise questioned as she looked back at the physician.

“Yes.  Don't do anything.  Major Carter believes she knows why she and Colonel O'Neill failed the test.”

“What?” Jack called out.

“Wait here, Sir.  I'll be back in a minute with Major Carter,” Janet requested.

====

With the SFs following, Sam and Janet walked to the testing room.  Sam requested to speak with Jack alone, so the others backed out of the room to give them some privacy.  She removed the headband, per the colonel's request, and leaned in to explain her realization to him.

“What's going on?” Jack asked.

“We're not zatarcs.”

“How do you know?”

“The machine thinks that we have false memories, but we don't.  We were lying.”

“I wasn't lying,” Jack quickly refuted.

“Okay.  You left something out,” Sam countered.

“No, I didn't.”

“Sir, when you wouldn't leave me,” Sam paused and gave Jack a pointed look to prod him to the truth, “are you sure there wasn't something else that you're not admitting?”

“What are you talking about?” Jack asked, feeling as confused as ever.

Speaking very quietly, Sam answered, “Something neither one of us can admit given our working relationship, our military ranks?”

“Oh!”  After a pause, Jack responded, “Oh that.”

“Sir, we weren't telling the whole truth and that's why the machine thinks the memories are false.”

“Really?” Jack returned.  ~This could be bad.~

Sam told Anise to test the colonel again and as she did so, Jack prepared his mind.  He knew now what Sam was talking about and he needed to be careful that discussing this difficult reality didn't spill over to his soulmate.  He was trained in Special Ops, his mind having gone through meticulous training scenarios in order to protect important intel from the enemy.  The zatarc detector was a tough enemy.

~Stay focused on Carter,~ Jack told himself just before Anise turned on the machine and began a second test.

Anise again questioned Jack about the mission during which he and Sam were believed to have been made zatarcs.  

“What were you feeling?” the Tok'ra queried when Jack told the part about the force field separating the two teammates aboard the under-construction Goa'uld vessel.

“Like someone who was about to die.”

“Sir,” Sam prompted, urging him to be as truthful as he could, as she looked at the detector and saw it was still showing deception.

“I didn't leave ... because I'd have rather died myself than lose Carter.”

“Why?”

“Because I care about her ... a lot more than I'm supposed to.”

At last, the Tok'ra declared, “You are not a zatarc.”

Satisfied, Sam instructed, “Now, retest me.”

When the test was done and Sam was cleared as well, Jack unstrapped her from  the machine and began, “Carter ...”

Standing, Sam returned, “Sir, none of this has to leave this room.”

“We're okay with that?”

“Yes, Sir.”

~Whew!~ Jack thought as he nodded.  ~Daniel will be happy to hear that.  What a nightmare.~  His mind turned quickly as he opined, ~T and Janet both heard that; good for the game, I guess, but maybe not so good for Carter.~

Before Jack and Sam could say anything further about the situation, Teal'c, Janet, and Freya approached and began to speculate about the possibility of other zatarcs being present at the meeting between the Supreme High Councilor and the President.  When asked, Freya stated she was never in a position to be put under the mind control technology, but Sam's heart shattered when she realized that was not the case for Martouf, for whom she had deep feelings.  Jack made a quick call to the control room and then the group headed for the embarkation room.

====

In the gate room, Daniel was given Jack's message by one of the control room staffers that Martouf might be a zatarc.  Immediately, he walked over to the Tok'ra.

“Martouf, can I talk to you outside for a second?”

At that moment, Hammond returned and made an introduction of the President to Per'sus.  The trigger event having occurred, Martouf pushed Daniel to the ground.

“*Look out!*” Daniel shouted from the floor.

Martouf opened fire, prompting the Secret Service to surround the President and take him out of the gate room.  By then, Jack and Teal'c reached the area and started to return fire.  Shots rang out, as did zat blasts.  Finally, Teal'c was able to get off a solid zat blast at the attacker.  Martouf prevented a second blast by letting go of another shot from his weapon.

Just then, with her zat aimed at Martouf, Sam entered and ordered, “Hold your fire.”

Kneeling on one knee, his hand shaking, and his eyes on the woman he loved, Martouf raised his hand to activate the self-destruct that would blow him to pieces.

Vulnerably, Martouf pleaded, “Samantha?”

Sam knew what she had to do.  Two zat shots close enough in time killed.  Her hand steady, she fired and ran to the Tok'ra, reaching Martouf before death took him fully.  She helped him fall gently to her knee, his body now devoid of life.

As Hammond explained to Per'sus, who was not hit in the attack, that the man he'd introduced as the President was not and that the real President was still on the plane, Freya told Sam, “I promise you, his death will ultimately prove to be a noble sacrifice.”

Tears streaming down her face, Sam nodded before taking another look at Martouf.  She was grateful for Freya's words, but at the moment, the words meant little, especially coming from the host of a symbiote who had not proven itself as trustworthy to the Tau'ri as yet.  More to the point, Martouf was dead, killed by her own hand, and it was about as much as she good take.

For a minute, the entire room - Jack, Teal'c, Janet, General Hammond, and others - simply stared in disbelief at Martouf as he lie dead in Sam's hold.

Finally, Daniel called out quietly, “Sam.”

“Please leave me alone, Daniel.”

Daniel nodded and walked over to his lover.

“I know this isn't the time, Daniel, but I told you the other day this wasn't going to end well.”

“You're right, Jack.  It's not the time.”  Daniel sighed.  “Can't we clear the gate room?”

“Yeah,” Jack agreed, leaving his Love's side to talk to General Hammond before emptying the room.

====

After the gate room was cleared, the treaty was signed without incident.  Not long thereafter, Per'sus and his staff left, as did Anise.  Four Tok'ra arrived  to retrieve Martouf's body and take him back to Vorash.

Sam stood at the Stargate, watching as the event horizon shut down.  Behind her, Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c stood silently.  General Hammond watched it all from the control room, until he decided to join his flagship team.

“Major Carter,” Hammond called out.

“Yes, Sir?”

“If you'd like to take a few days and ...”

“No, Sir.  I'd rather be here, General.  I need to keep busy.”

“Are you sure?  I know you and Martouf were close.”

“I ...”  Sam swallowed and looked down.  Even in his death, she was confused about their relationship.  There was love there, but she couldn't be certain where that love came from or what it truly meant.  “General, please.  I have a lot of work to do before our mission briefing tomorrow morning.  I'd rather stay busy.”

“If you like.”  Hammond looked back at the rest of SG-1 and announced, “We'll have our next briefing as scheduled at 0930 hours.  Go home, gentlemen.  Dismissed.”

Sam glanced at her teammates and hurried out of the room.

“Should we ...” Jack began.

“No.  She needs to be left alone,” Daniel answered.  “She'll be okay tomorrow.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“She's military and in spite of what we just saw, she thinks being military means not being able to cry.”

“So, she'll be fine?” Jack queried.

“She'll say she'll be fine and she'll act like she's fine.”

“So, she'll be fine?”

“She'll be fine,” Daniel stated, even though he was fully aware his friend would not be fine for a long while.

====

That night, Jack and Daniel made love and then relaxed on the roof deck.  They were in their usual spots, with Jack leaning against the wall of the house and Daniel resting in front of him with his head back against Jack's shoulder.  It gave him strength and comfort, even though the position might not be recommended for two tall and strapping men.  For the soulmates, though, it was natural and comfortable.

“We made it through,” Jack remarked as his hands caressed Daniel's abdomen.

“No thanks to me.”

“Daniel, you did everything you could, but this wasn't something we could figure out.”

“Sam did.”

“She wasn't thinking.  She was in la la land when it came to her.”

“So, tell me what happened,” Daniel requested.

“You were there,” Jack replied nonchalantly.

“Jack, one second you were about to sacrifice yourself while Sam went to sleep, and then I get a message from you that Martouf might be a zatarc.  All I know is that Sam found the solution.  So, tell me, what happened?”

“Right.  Carter figured out why we flunked the machine.”

“I already know that, and I know you weren't lying.”

“Neither of us lied.”

“Jack!”

“Crap, it's that feelings thing.”

“Feelings?”

“Remember what Martouf and Anise said about that blasted machine, that it reads the subconscious mind?  You have to tell it the facts *and* your feelings, and you know how I am about that, Danny.”

“Yes, I know, but what feelings are we talking about?”

“SG-1, and in this case, Carter.”

“More words, Babe.”

“Carter thought we left out the feelings part out of our story for that machine.  We told it the facts, but neither of us were up front about the feelings part.”

“Oh.  You mean how we all feel about one another?”

“Yeah.  Danny, you know how I hate talking about that stuff.”

“I know.”

“I thought she was gonna die on that ship, and I didn't want to leave her there alone.  It's 'never leave anyone behind', and I'm fanatical about that.”

“Most of the time,” Daniel agreed as he thought back to the first year of SG-1 when he almost died aboard a Goa'uld vessel.

“Oh, please, you told me to go,” Jack recalled, still feeling guilty and trying his best to never think about his decision to leave Daniel, dying or not.

“I know, and it was the right thing.”  Daniel looked at his lover and repeated, “It was, Jack.  I don't know why I brought it up.”

“Because we both know I shouldn't have left you.”

“Jack ...”

“It's behind us, right?”

“Yes,” Daniel answered resolutely.  “I'm sorry,” he spoke tenderly and then shared a kiss with his soulmate.

Getting back to the present, Jack spoke, “Love, had that been you on the other side of the force field, I'd be retired or in Leavenworth right now.  You realize that, don't you?”

Daniel shifted and leaned in for a powerfully passionate kiss, and then he teased his lover by crooning, “Feelings, nothing more than feelings.”

“Shut up, Daniel,” Jack growled before the two men kissed again.  “Seriously, when I was slugging away at that force field, I kept thinking this wasn't happening.  I wasn't going to lose a member of my team on an unauthorized mission.  I should have ordered her out of the ship with you and T.  Heck, we already had the C-4 in place.  I was being overcautious.  I guess the truth is when I was hitting that force field, I was hitting myself.  It was my fault Carter was in that situation, and I couldn't leave her.  Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do, and I know that Sam cares about everyone more than she thinks she should, too.  She doesn't like to talk about that.”

“Military training,” Jack explained.  “This 'keep your feelings in check' thing is easier to do when you have a rotating team and aren't saving the world every other mission.  People get close and that's not a good idea because you start to care and caring impairs judgment, so they say.  We've talked about this before, you and I.  I'm dang good at my job and I keep my ... feelings contained.”  

“Most of the time,” Daniel lightly refuted again.

“Danny, I'll say it again, if it had been you on the other side of that shield, I'd be submitting my retirement papers, lucky to do so if I wasn't court-martialed on the spot.  That machine wanted feelings and it took everything I had to keep it focused on Carter and not you.”

“Your Special Ops training comes in handy sometimes.”  Daniel sighed as he reflected, “Babe, I thought about it a lot, and with your training, even though we're talking alien technology, I don't believe the mind-control would have worked on you so easily.”

“I'd like to think you're right about that.”  Jack paused and noted, “Carter said we don't have to talk about it.”

“About?”

“Feelings.”

“Oh,” Daniel chuckled.  “I'm sure that made you very happy.”

“Oh, yeah!”  Jack gladly admitted the truth.  “Let it stay in the room.”

“Feelings,” Daniel sighed thoughtfully.  “You do care, Jack, about Sam, Teal'c ... General Hammond.”

“Okay, I care; I care more than I'm supposed to, but who gives a crap.  We're more than a team, Danny, we're a family, and that includes Hammond.  I don't know how we got that way, but we did.  I love T like a brother and Carter like a sister.  If that's against the regs and they want me out, I'll go.”

“Jack, you don't want that.”

“Maybe not yet, but SG-1 is different from any team I've ever been a part of, and I can't deny that we all have ... feelings.”  Jack paused and then his voice became smaller, quieter, and more tender.  “And you, Danny, you're my ... my soulmate, my Angel, my everything, and if that machine needed to hear my feelings for you, it would have exploded from the totality of what I feel for you and how much I love you.”

“We were lucky then,” an emotional Daniel replied.  ~He always says he's bad with words, but he's not.  He's my poet.~

“You'd better believe it.  There's no doubt in my mind.”

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“I'm tired of talking.  Let's ...”

“Yeah, let's!”

The lovers left talk behind for another round of lovemaking, something they never got too much of in this world.  Their physical relationship was strong and very satisfying.  They reveled in it, gaining strength that helped them survive the not-so-good days and the nasty nightmares, so now the lovers took advantage of the night to join their bodies until sensually satiated.

====

It was getting close to 11 p.m. as the lovers shared a snack of crackers and cheese accompanied by wine.  They needed the nutrients; plus, it gave them more time to fill in the pieces of the zatarc experience.

“I don't want to say there was something good to come out of this,” Jack began.

“I'm not sure anything good came out of this,” Daniel interjected.  “The treaty, I suppose.”

“I'm thinking about Carter and the let it stay in the room thing.”

“Do you think that's possible?”

“That's the thing.  Teal'c and the Doc heard every word of the tests, Carter's and mine.  The guards were hanging around.  You know how rumors fly at SGC.”

“I guess that will help us with the game, won't it?”

“That's what I was thinking, but it's probably gonna drive Carter nuts.”

“I'm worried about her, Jack.  I think she's going to keep her feelings for Martouf inside.  I'm not sure she's going to let herself grieve.”

“It's not like they were really involved,” Jack opined.  He saw Daniel's adversarial stare and queried, “Were they?”

“I don't know.  I'm not sure she does, either, but whether they were or not, I don't think she's going to talk about it.”

“You're thinking we're going to show up at the base in the morning and she'll be all smiles and acting hunky-dory?”

“Hunky-dory?” the linguist questioned.

“Yeah, like everything's okay, fine, copacetic,” Jack explained.  “Daniel, you're a linguist.  You know what hunky-dory is.”

“Okay, fine, copacetic,” Daniel teased with a smile.  He took a deep breath and continued, “Ah, anyway, yeah.  I think that's how Sam will be, on the outside anyway.  I don't know about the inside.”

“Anything we can do?”

Shaking his head, Daniel answered, “Follow her lead, I guess.  Jack, I'm pretty sure Sam said that about keeping it in the room because she has a hard time with that rule herself.  She cares; it's her nature, but admitting it is something else.  We just need to be here if she ever does want to talk.”

“I can do that.”

“Me, too.”

As they enjoyed more of their snack and some gentle fondling, the couple chatted more about the last few days until the subject of Anise and her host came up.

“I tell ya, Danny, I hope we never see her again.”

“Anise is a scientist, Jack.  She's just ... experimenting.”

“Yeah, on us, and I've had it.”

“She is the one who invented the zatarc detector and even though there were problems, if we didn't have that, there's a good chance that Per'sus would be dead and who knows what would have happened to the treaty.”

“All I'm saying is that I'm done.  You want to talk with her, fine, but keep her away from me, Daniel.  Two kisses were enough.”

“Two?  You kissed her?  *Twice*?” the jealous archaeologist asked with incredulity.

“I told you.”

“You said she made a pass at you, *not* that you kissed her!”

“I didn't do anything.  She was on me before I could move.”

“Twice?”

“Daniel, I was sitting in my chair and she pounced like Tigger.  I was helpless.”

“Helpless?  You're bigger than she is and stronger.  Don't tell me you couldn't move, and wha...what about the second kiss?”

“Same thing.  Apparently, Freya's planet is very liberal and open about their PDA.”

“So, you just went along with this ... private display of affection ... in your room?”

Jack chuckled and chose to defend himself, not with words, but with a surprise.  He quickly whipped out a prime piece of Godiva chocolate.  He waved it in front of his lover's face, up close where the aroma of the fine chocolate filled up Daniel's senses.

“Are you trying to buy me with chocolate, O'Neill?”

“Yeahsureyabetcha!” Jack exclaimed with a seductive grin.  “Danny, I love you.  I couldn't care less about that snake and her host.  She's Tok'ra Spice, remember?  She jumped on me and I sent her away.  I promise.  That's what happened.  Do you trust me, or not?”

“I, uh ... gawd, I hate it when I'm jealous.”

“I love it, especially since most of the time you're so good at covering it up.”

Daniel sighed, took the Godiva delight, and enjoyed it to the maximum.  He tasted every succulent milligram of the chocolate and let it settle within him like a warm fire.  Then he looked down, saddened and disheartened.

“Danny?”

“I couldn't save you.”

“Angel, even if you had figured out the problem, you couldn't have said anything.  It would have raised questions, questions we can't afford to have asked.  If it was going to be anyone, it had to be Carter.”

“I felt so helpless, Jack.  There wasn't a ring.  I told Janet, but it was like she didn't hear me.”

“No one could hear, Danny.  Ring or no ring, with the President's life on the line, the thing that had to be convinced was that mechanical monster.”

“Maybe if I'd talked to General Hammond ...”

“He couldn't have heard you, either,” Jack assured.  “He would have wanted to, but he couldn't take a chance.  He made the calls he had to make, and so did the Doc.”

“You're being very understanding of all the people who were about to put you to sleep indefinitely.”

“Crap, I am,” Jack mused.  “It's that military thing again.  They made the right calls.  Nothing could be proven.  We had to convince that machine we weren't zarc-things.”

“I guess so.”

“Danny.”  Jack caressed his lover's cheek and slowly moved his finger to rest beneath his chin.  “Listen to me.  If I could only have one person to fight for me, to trust to rescue me, to be there, no matter what, it would be you.  You did all you could, given the circumstances.  You have to know that and believe it because it's the truth.”

“Is that an order, Colonel?”

“It's the truth.”

Daniel smiled and enjoyed a loving kiss from his life partner.

“Jack?”

“Yeah?”

“I'm ... cold.”

With a huge grin, Jack responded, “I ... may have a way to fix that.”

“I was hoping you might ... think of ... something.”

“Aw, Space Monkey!  Geez, I love you.”

“And I love you, so much, Jack.”

With the words from two years before when they first admitted their desire for the other, the couple let go of the last few days and centered in solely on the present.  Zatarcs were now in the past; their bodies and their love for each other the current nucleus of their existence.  It would be the same on the morrow when they faced whatever that day held.  For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, there was nothing that could divide them, for their love conquered all.

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

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