Pressures

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Holiday, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  3 - October 11-12, 1999
Spoilers:  Demons
Size:  53kb
Written:  November 11-16,27, December 27-29, 2009
Summary:  When Teal'c dies on a medieval planet, his agonizing teammates struggle to decide on their next move, a decision that has Jack and Daniel on opposite sides.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Ali, Navi, Mama Bear, Irina!

Pressures
by Orrymain

“This schedule sucks,” an annoyed Jack stated, stomping his foot.

“If you're looking for an argument, you're looking in the wrong direction,” Daniel replied as he put the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher.

“We could call in sick,” the Silver Fox suggested wryly.

“Jack, we have a mission scheduled for nine,” the archaeologist reminded.

“SG-2 can take it,” the colonel argued, cozying up behind his lover and placing a kiss on the back of his neck.  “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too, so much that I didn't finish translating those images that SG-6 took last week,” Daniel sighed.  “When we get back from our mission, I need to spend a few hours on that before I can come here ... to you.”

Jack smiled.  It was taking Daniel a while to believe in their forever, but every now and then he would say little things that would make Jack's soul soar.

“You're missing my point,” Jack sighed, his arms happily wrapped around the younger man.  “I love you.”

Daniel leaned back into his Heart, enjoying the safety and warmth he was feeling.

“Let's play hooky,” Jack suggested, nuzzling Daniel's neck.

Jack had been out of town for the last couple of days and had only returned from his secret Air Force mission in the wee hours of the morning.  He'd immediately headed for Daniel's apartment and spooned into him.  While Daniel had subconsciously twisted his upper body around to share a tender 'welcome home' kiss, he'd then fallen right back to sleep.  Jack couldn't blame him; he was zonked himself and had fallen asleep less than a minute later.

When morning came, the teammates only had time to shower, dress, and eat a quick breakfast before it was time to leave for Cheyenne Mountain.

Daniel turned around and stared at his partner.  His eyes spoke volumes, and Jack knew it.

“This schedule sucks,” Jack reiterated.

SG-1 was in the midst of a hectic schedule, with an increased number of scheduled missions in addition to their other obligations at the Mountain. Calling in sick would only postpone the inevitable. Besides, Daniel knew that SG-2 had their own mission later in the day.

“I wish we could play hooky,” Daniel professed softly as he turned in the loving embrace and put his hands around his lover's neck.  “I want to.  It's just ...”

“I know,” Jack lamented.  “Duty calls.”

“Um ...”

“But not yet,” the older man returned playfully before kissing Daniel tenderly.  “Did I say I love you and that I missed you?”

“A few times.  Did I happen to mention that I love you, too, and that I missed you ... a lot?”

“A few times,” Jack answered with a smile.

For five minutes, the lovers indulged in some tender kisses, cozy cuddles, and seductive fondles.  Their passion was never a question, but right now it was the strength of their souls that was uniting.  These seconds were about their hearts and souls and how much they were a part of the other.  Jack and Daniel were cherishing this time together, expressing their feelings in a sweet dispensation of lips and touch.

Way too soon, the couple walked out the front door and then stepped through the Stargate to an unknown world.

====

“Ah, trees, trees, and more trees.  What a wonderfully green universe we live in, eh?  Where's that village?” Jack inquired of his 2IC as the Stargate closed behind his team.

“The UAV found it eleven clicks southwest of here,” Sam reported.

“Eleven?  Oy,” Jack groaned.  ~Gonna be a long day.~

Observing a muddied track, Teal'c called out, “Here.  This path is well traveled.”

“Which means the Stargate is still in use by someone,” Daniel surmised.

“Or ... something,” Jack returned whimsically before taking off down the road.

The team followed the path towards the distant village.  Teal'c took the point, with Sam taking up the rear, leaving Jack and Daniel to walk together as they strode through the countryside.

“This place has possibilities,” Jack opined, with one hand casually draped over his MP-5.

“It's nice,” Daniel agreed nonchalantly.

“It's a great camping planet.”

“Jack, let me ask you something,” Daniel began.  “Why do you always make fun of the trees?”

“I love trees, but every now and then, wouldn't you like to walk into a bustling metropolis?”

Daniel stared at the other man and replied, “You've been watching Superman again.”

“I was bored,” Jack acknowledged about a portion of his Special Ops mission.  “Hey,” he called out, reaching out and giving his Love an encouraging nudge.  “Who's your favorite comic book hero?”

“My favorite comic book hero?” Daniel echoed, blinking blankly at his lover.

“Daniel, I'll buy that you didn't watch a lot of TV, but you were a ner...” Jack coughed, looking away for a moment as he thought how to rephrase his comment, “... kid who loved to read.  You read comic books.  You may not want to admit it, but kids are kids, even ones who grew up with IQs triple that of the average human and who liked to dig up trinkets.”

“Artifacts.”

“Whatever,” Jack conceded with a shrug.  “Fess up, Daniel.  Which one -- Captain America?  Flash Gordon?”  He chuckled, “Wonder Woman?”

“Gawd,” Daniel responded while rolling his eyes.  “I didn't read a lot of comic books, but I did sometimes see them at the library.”

Jack looked at his life partner with a smug expression as he surmised, “You hid it inside some huge tome on Egypt.”

“Actually, the encyclopedia was about the right size,” the studious man admitted.

“So?”

“So?” Daniel repeated.

“Blast it, Daniel, which one?”

“Oh, uh, Peter Benjamin Parker -- Spiderman,” the younger man revealed.

“Shoulda known,” Jack mused.  “A geek loves a geek.”  While automatically checking the perimeter as he walked, he smiled widely at the image of his soulmate secretly reading a Spiderman magazine, hidden within the pages of the 'E' encyclopedia, at the library.  Several seconds passed before he realized Daniel hadn't responded to his tease.  “It's a joke.”

“No, it's the truth,” Daniel sighed.  “I guess I was a little envious.  There were a lot of similarities, so I could identify with him.  I always wished I had his strength and skills, though.”

“You do,” Jack averred in all seriousness.  “Daniel, look at you.  Look where we are.  Think about all we've done.  Spiderman has nothing on Daniel Jackson.”

Daniel let out a little happy sound of amazement and smiled in appreciation of the remark.

“Of course, Spidey is no match for Superman,” Jack put forth humorously.

Chuckling lightly, both men continued to chat off and on as they walked the miles that it would take to arrive at their destination.

====

“O'Neill, what is a Columbus?” Teal'c asked as the teammates walked side-by-side towards their destination.

“Columbus?” Jack repeated, feeling a bit confused by the question.

“According to your calendar, this is Columbus Day.  I wish to know what a Columbus is.”

“Oh, it, he's a who,” Jack advised.  “Christopher Columbus.  He discovered the America's.”

“He is a great man then,” the Jaffa replied solemnly.

Looking around with a routine glance as he walked, the colonel shrugged and returned, “Yeah, well, that's up for debate.”

“How so?”

“Well, he found us, so that's something.”

“You do not sound like you like this Columbus,” Teal'c put forth, looking to his right in his own natural check of the surroundings.

Jack hemmed and hawed for a few seconds and then called out, “Daniel.”

Finishing his thought with Sam, the archaeologist stopped moving forward and stepped backwards a few yards to find out what his lover wanted.

“Teal'c here wants to know about Christopher Columbus,” Jack stated as he jerked his thumb in Teal'c's direction.

“Excuse me?”

“You're better at this stuff,” Jack asserted.

“So, what you're saying is that you don't know American history,” Daniel challenged.

“Of course, I do.  I'm just a man of few words,” the 'I love to play dumb' colonel claimed.

“Well, use a few of them to tell Teal'c what he wants to know,” Daniel returned with a smug look.  “Or is it that you don't know?”

“Hey, I know,” Jack insisted.

“Know what?” Daniel asked pointedly.

“I know that ... ole Chris landed and may not have been the pal to the natives that most people like to think.”

“Explain,” Teal'c requested.

“Yes, explain,” Daniel seconded rapidly.

The colonel groaned.  He knew; he just didn't want to talk that long, so his internal challenge became how to communicate succinctly the historical debate.

~Oh, the pressures of teaching an alien about Earth history,~ Jack bemoaned.  “Big Guy, it's like this.  The popular story is that Columbus landed, made friendly with the locals, and business boomed.  The unpopular and often hidden truth is that he landed, took part in a massive genocide of the natives, and a myth was born.”

“Your world celebrates the slaughter of its ancestors?” Teal'c questioned, sounding as surprised as he ever had about anything he'd learned since arriving on Earth from Abydos.

“It's changing ... slowly,” Daniel expounded.  “A lot of countries have changed the focus of the celebration and even altered the name of the day to honor indigenous people and cultures.”  He paused briefly before continuing.  “Actually, Teal'c, historians and anthropologists have known the truth about Columbus for over a century, but it's only been recently that people have started to pay attention.”

“Your world is strange, DanielJackson.”

“So's yours,” Daniel replied with a tiny smile, recalling a similar exchange with the Jaffa during their first year of exploration together.  More seriously, he agreed, “But, uh, yes, you're right, especially since Columbus never even set foot in North America.”

“And what do we teach our kids?” Jack asked in frustration, shaking his head as he moved forward to take the point for a while.  ~Strange world we live in.  I never could get Charlie to understand, either.  That's one problem that Sara and I had.  How could we let our son celebrate a day of lies?~

Jack was lost in his own world for a while, an innocent conversation about a holiday suddenly turning into an internal conflict that brought back memories he really didn't want to think about.  As he led his team, the colonel blocked the memories from his mind and focused on traveling safely onward.

In the rear, Teal'c questioned, “O'Neill seemed disturbed.”

“We should all be disturbed, Teal'c.  In our country, Columbus Day is a federal holiday, but it's the myths we honor, and that's all they are -- myths,” Daniel opined.

Teal'c nodded and fell back temporarily to make sure the perimeter was clear and they weren't being tracked.  He had no reason to question the team's safety, but it was standard procedure.

**Jack, are you okay?** Daniel communicated, hoping his lover could hear his silent question.

**Yeah.  Just flooded with thoughts about Charlie for a minute.  It's good,** Jack assured.

**Okay.**

**Hey, Danny?**

**Yeah?**

**Love ya, Space Monkey.**

**Gawd, not here.  Space Monkey?  Jack!** Daniel whined and then grimaced at the sound of his Heart's laugher in his mind.  ~He's incorrigible, totally and completely incorrigible.~

====

Just beyond the ten-mile mark, SG-1 approached the valley that was their desired destination.  Stopping atop a hill to evaluate the sight, they made out a church with smoke billowing from it into the air.  From that they extrapolated that the residents were probably Christians.  This was significant because it was the first time in hundreds of missions that a Christian society had been found.

“Which means they probably had to have been taken from somewhere in medieval Europe through the Antarctic Gate,” Daniel surmised.

“By which Goa'uld?” Teal'c queried.

“That's a good question,” Daniel responded.

As they traveled, the team pondered if it was possible that the Goa'uld responsible for the residents of this planet was essentially playing the role of the Christian deity.

“I know of no Goa'uld capable of showing the necessary compassion or benevolence that I have read of in your Bible,” Teal'c told his teammates.

“You read the Bible, Teal'c?” Jack questioned curiously.

“It is a significant part of your Western culture.  Have you not read the Bible, O'Neill?”

“Oh, yeah, yeah, not all of it,” Jack stammered evasively.  “Actually, I'm listening to it on tape.  Don't tell me how it ends.”

“You're listening to the Bible on tape, Sir?” Sam sought to verify.  ~I didn't think he was the type.~

“Didn't I just say that?” Jack defended, wanting to get off this topic pronto.

“Me, too,” Sam admitted.  “I've read it, of course, but I figured it couldn't hurt.  What book are you on?”

“I'm on ... Genesis,” Jack answered hesitantly.  ~She always has to ask that one question too many.~

“Oh,” Sam acknowledged, smirking as she caught the bluff.  “You just started.”

“Yeah, yeah, that's it.”  The colonel let out a groan and ultimately confessed, “I started it last year.”  Seeing Daniel's stare, he shrugged in defeat.  “Okay, so I listen to Pavarotti more than I do Alexander Scourby.”  Hearing the snicker from Sam, he retorted, “Hey, I watch 'The Ten Commandments' every Christmas and 'The Robe' every Easter.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam chuckled.  ~That was way too easy.~

====

When SG-1 entered the medieval-looking village, the residents scurried hastily into their homes, slamming their doors after them.

Noticing a woman and her two children peering out through their doorway, Daniel approached the home and called out, “Hello?  We're not gonna hurt you.”  Not waiting to hear anything more, the woman closed the door.  Daniel stared in dejection as he uttered in monotone, “We're peaceful travelers.”

“They're not buying it, Danny,” Jack remarked, turning his attention away from his archaeologist to a stone pedestal that was on his left.

~Yeah, he's right on that one.  That did not go well,~ Daniel bemoaned, still staring at the closed door.

“Is this English?” Jack asked about the writing on the monument-like stone that was currently holding his curiosity.

Daniel approached, studied the pedestal for a second, and answered, “Middle English, pre-Chaucer.”

As Daniel read the tablet, mumbling a tad, Jack groaned inwardly, ~I only asked what it was, not for you to read the whole thing.~

“It's a, a derivative of the Catholic prayer for Suffering Souls,” Daniel advised after reviewing the writing.

About that time, Jack caught sight of something that made him ill inside.  Several yards in front of him, chained to a post, was a young woman.  It was barbaric.

“Jack?” Daniel called out, approaching his Love with concern at Jack's change in demeanor.

“What kind of place is this?” Jack questioned before walking over to the woman.

The colonel's presence roused the young woman who had long, black hair.  She reared back slightly, clearly unsure of the strangers, though she didn't cry out.

“It's all right,” Jack assured as he examined the chained villager.  “It's all right,” he echoed softly.  “We'll get you out of this in a minute,” he promised, standing and moving behind her in order to get to a better position so he could remove the chains.

It was then that a man dressed in a brown robe appeared.  He held out a cross in front of him as if he were warding off a vampire while begging for the woman's life to be spared.

As it turned out, the man's name was Simon, and when he realized the visitors had come through the Stargate, which he called the Circle of Darkness, he surmised, “Then you must be of his brethren.  I beg of you, Mary is so young.  She did nothing to warrant sacrifice.”

“Whoa,” Jack responded.  Standing, he asked, “What sacrifice?”

“If you leave her body, the village Canon may choose another possessed soul,” Simon explained.

At that point, Daniel realized that Simon thought SG-1 were demons.  While he and Jack both tried to get the villager to understand that they were human beings from Earth and not demons, Teal'c used his staff weapon to free Mary.  With the chains broken, she ran towards Simon, who told her to go inside the house.  Getting down onto his knees, the villager again begged for Mary's life to be saved.

Annoyed, Jack pulled Simon up and explained, “Listen to me.  We're not demons, and Mary is not possessed.  From the looks of it, she's a little sick.  Now if you let us, we might be able to help her.”

With a nod, Simon led the Tau'ri inside the home.

====

While Sam tended to Mary, taking her temperature, Jack sat on a chair towards the foot of the bed  while a worried Simon sat on a chair opposite of Sam.  Confident Mary had a simple case of the chickenpox, Jack insisted Mary would recover in a couple of days.

“That will not be soon enough,” an anxious Simon returned.  “The time of Sacrifice is at hand.  The elders will have to perform the trepanning ritual tonight to cleanse her.”

“Oh, geez,” Daniel sighed in horror, walking closer to his teammates who were still at Mary's bed.

“What?” Jack questioned.

“It was a ... procedure often done in the Middle Ages.  They ... well, they, they drill a hole in the person's head.  By drilling a hole, the ... evil spirits are released, thus saving the person from eternal damnation.”

“Thus ... saving the person?” Jack asked incredulously as he looked at Daniel.

“Well, they didn't call them the Dark Ages because it was dark,” Daniel quipped.

The team's attention shifted when a horn blasted outside and a villager twice shouted, “The demon comes.”

“The demon comes?” Jack repeated, standing up and heading over to one of the windows where Teal'c was already standing.  ~All that is missing here is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.~

At the other window, Daniel made sure the wood shutters were completely pulled back, giving Sam, who already had her weapon aimed, a clear shot if necessary.

~Okay, that's not what I think it is,~ Jack decried in his mind.

Entering the village was a creature which looked very much like an Unas.  The Unas had been the first host of the Goa'uld and had once been trapped with Jack and Teal'c on Cimmeria.

~Crap, it is one of those ... things.~  Confused, especially since the Unas on Cimmeria had been killed, Jack stated, “I thought there only was one: Unas: uno, one.”

“They are, in fact, a species,” Teal'c revealed.

Still in the confines of Simon's home, SG-1 listened as the Unas announced that he was there for five souls that Satan wanted to reclaim as his.  Satan, in this case, was Sokar, who was obviously seeking bodies to use as hosts.  The Unas announced that he would return at sunrise for the sacrifices.

“I think we were wrong about this Goa'uld,” Daniel began as he peered out at the Unas.  “He isn't playing God.  He's playing the devil.”

Panicked, Simon began to prepare to go through with the trepanning ritual, even though Mary was shouting “No.”

~This is archaic!~  As ardently as he could, Jack tried to get Simon to understand the truth about the Unas.  “Look, we've run into this kind of thing before.  Now, it's not a demon.  It ... It's demonesque I'll grant you, but it's just a big, ugly creature.”

“Who's inhabited by a Goa'uld that gives it great strength, intelligence, and the ability to regenerate,” Daniel added quietly as he stood next to his lover.

“Yes,” Jack agreed reluctantly.  “It's a very smart, resilient creature.”

Still essentially mumbling to his colonel, Daniel expounded, “In the service of Sokar, who, for all intents and purposes, is Satan to these people.”

“But it's *not* a demon,” the colonel maintained forcefully.

Looking over at Simon, Daniel acknowledged, “No, it's not a demon.”

Inwardly, Jack groaned, ~Where's an exterminator when you need one?  There should be some kind of intergalactic Unas pesticide we can buy.~

“My friends speak the truth, Simon,” Teal'c interjected.  “This demon is nothing more than a parasite that inhabits another creature.  Your fear is its greatest power over you.”

“You do not fear it?” Simon questioned with wide eyes as he stared at the Jaffa.

“We do not,” Teal'c answered firmly.

Simon wanted to believe, but he was still wary, which meant everything was pretty much on hold until a plan could be agreed upon.  They couldn't even agree that the Unas could be killed.

“Couple of shots with a staff, we own him,” Jack put forth confidently.

“We hope.  It took Thor's Hammer to kill the last one,” Sam reminded.

“All right, a whole bunch of shots with a staff.”  Looking at his archaeologist, Jack questioned pointedly, “Daniel, how long have these people been living like this?”

“Well, I can't be sure without proper reference ...”

“A thousand years?” Jack guessed.

“At least,” the cultural expert confirmed.

“Yeah, that's long enough.  These people are being terrorized.  We have the power to stop it,” the colonel asserted.

There had been some concern that Sokar might seek revenge, but Sam pointed out that it would take the Goa'uld years to reach the planet by ship, so if the villagers buried the Stargate, there was little chance the Goa'uld would realistically be able to extract revenge.

The debate was silenced when a bell rang in the village square and Simon announced, “The Canon has returned.”

~Gotta meet this guy,~ Jack determined silently.

The team walked outside just in time to see a robust man dressed in robes walking by.  He was surrounded by an entourage of guards armed with pitchforks and other officials.  Instantly, he was greeted by the residents, who quickly pointed out the visitors.

~Looks like we're famous ... again,~ the colonel told himself upon seeing the villagers pointing at SG-1.

The Canon approached and asked, “You have come down the path, through the Circle of Darkness?”

“Something like that.  My name's Jack O'Neill ...”

Angrily, the Canon confronted Simon about having let the strangers inside his home and accused him of being weak in faith.

~That's heavy handed,~ Jack opined as he listened.

Daniel tried to assure the Canon that the team came as friends, but the Canon quickly walked over to Teal'c and pointed out that he “bears the mark of the devil.”

Nothing the team said influenced the Canon, who maintained they were evil simply because they'd come to their world via the Stargate.

~Enough of this crap,~ Jack thought, deciding it was time to leave the villagers to their doom and gloom.  “Have a nice day,” he said sarcastically to the Canon, giving him a wave and then starting to walk away, his teammates following him.

“You shall be struck down,” the Canon decreed.

~Yeah, yeah,~ Jack griped, though he did and turn back, as did his teammates.

In seconds, the Canon touched his ring and pressed against the center stone, which caused a bolt of lightning to strike down from the sky.

Before they could react, all four teammates fell into unconsciousness.

====

Jack groaned as he roused.  It took him a second to get his wits back, and once he did, he reached for his weapon, which wasn't there.

~Crap!  I hate it when that happens.~

After checking on Daniel and Sam, who were still unconscious, and noting that Teal'c was gone, the colonel crawled over to the wall, near the window.  He made himself comfortable and reached down, grabbing a grass stalk and beginning to munch on it.

~Okay, it's on to Plan B, whatever Plan B is.~

Within a couple of minutes, Sam woke up, sitting up on her knees and also noticing that she had been disarmed.

Within seconds, Daniel also roused, but he remained lying down as he questioned in disbelief, “Did we just get struck by a big bolt of ... lightning?”

“That's what it looked like,” Sam replied.  “Felt more like a zat blast to me.  He ... touched his ring just before the lightning started.”

“Carter, if I ever get the urge to help anybody again, feel free to give me a swift kick,” Jack encouraged with a subtle flair.  ~We should just mind our own business.  So what if a world wants to destroy themselves?  No sweat of my back if they have a death wish.~

Daniel hadn't moved.  It was surprisingly comfortable on the straw bed.  Plus, he just wanted to do a silent inventory of his body parts and make sure that everything was still working properly.

Hearing a noise outside, Jack turned his head and saw Simon approaching.  The villager spoke with the guards for a moment and then went to the window.

~Well, let's see what he has to say,~ Jack thought as he twisted around to face Simon through the window.

Simon told Jack that he didn't believe SG-1 were demons and that he'd tried to convince the Canon of the same thing to no avail.  He also informed them that Teal'c was going to have to endure “the tests.”

At that moment, the teammates heard the villagers taunting the Jaffa.  What happened next was unimaginable to SG-1.

Teal'c had been beaten and was about to be tested by a blacksmith in what Daniel called the “mark of the devil.”

“What?” Jack asked, wanting nothing more than out of his confinements to help protect his friend.

“Uh, in the Middle Ages one of the proofs of witchcraft was a ... a mark on the body supposedly made by the devil himself that was insensitive to pain,” the archaeologist explained.

The blacksmith gave the red hot metal poker to the Canon, who then placed it against the tattoo on Teal'c's forehead and held it there for about twenty seconds.

“The first proof is given,” the Canon called out when the Jaffa didn't react to the poker.

“Daniel?” Jack questioned urgently, getting a bad feeling about this.

“It's not good.”

The Canon motioned for the people to follow as the guards led Teal'c to the nearby lake.


====

“This place is insane,” Jack opined quietly as the team was allowed out of their prison cell.  “Where are we going?”

The guards didn't respond and only pushed and shoved the still-chained teammates  into the square.

“I think we're supposed to follow them,” Daniel stated, looking at a group of villagers who seemed to be waiting for them.

“Where'd they take Teal'c?” the colonel questioned.

“Up there,” Sam responded, motioning in the distance where Teal'c was being escorted away.

“I guess we'll find out,” Jack sighed as they began to walk.  “You know, medieval times always sounded more fun than this.”

“It's the fighting that you've been drawn to, Jack, but the truth is what we're dealing with here and now -- people's ideas clouded in fear, ignorance, and misconception,” Daniel remarked.  “That fighting you like so much was, is, often barbaric.”

“I didn't say I was drawn to it.”

“I'm just saying,” Daniel returned with a pointed look and then getting a feeling of dread when he realized where they were headed.  “It's a lake.”

“Ya think?” Jack snarked.  He looked over and saw the Canon reciting what he assumed were prayers.  ~Hypocrite.~

====

“Daniel, what's happening?” Jack asked as the travelers on both sides of the lake continued to walk.  ~Are we ever gonna get there, wherever there is?~

“I'm not sure, but it's definitely not good.”

“That I can figure out on my own,” Jack barked.

“It's probably another test,” Daniel guessed.  He could feel Jack's glare as he walked.  “Jack, I'm not a mind reader.  There are a lot of possibilities here, so why not wait until we get there and see ...”

“... how they're going to torture Teal'c next?” Jack completed.

The rest of the walk was done in silence.  Jack wasn't mad at Daniel, and the archaeologist knew that.  His lover always became angry and upset when one of the team was at risk.  He often covered it up in front of others, but this threat was a huge unknown, and the truth was, the three teammates were scared.  Their weapons had been taken from them, and they were being guarded.  They were as helpless as just-hatched baby ducks right now, and they knew it.

Finally, the people on both sides of the lake stopped.  SG-1 observed as one of the guards affixed a large rock to the chain that was attached to Teal'c's leg.  It was an unsettling sight.

It became obvious to Daniel that the villagers were about to give the Jaffa the water test.  He would be tossed into the water.  If he floated, he would be deemed guilty and burned at the stake.  If he sank, it meant he was innocent.  Unfortunately, that also meant he'd be dead.  In other words, it was a no-win scenario.

After a hood was placed over Teal'c's head, the Canon spoke some words and then nodded to the guards.

~This is crazy!~  Shouting with urgency, Daniel called out, “We'll go back where we came from.”  ~He'll die, all due to their ignorance.~

“He's innocent!” Sam yelled adamantly, her plea across the lake ignored.

Jack hollered with profanity and also started forward, prompting one of the guards to strike him, causing him to fall to his knees.

The team's anguish was huge as Teal'c was pushed into the water, the large rock causing him to sink to the bottom of the lake.  Right in front of their eyes, their teammate and friend was being murdered and there was absolutely nothing they could do but scream out their anger and cry within their hearts.

Daniel looked away, a tear falling for his dying friend.  He had always been emotional.  It was true that losing his wife, Sha're, to the Goa'uld as a host and being a member of SG-1 had hardened him somewhat, but his compassion could never be squashed or diminished.

Sam closed her eyes, grimacing at what she knew was happening.  It was so quiet all of a sudden.  She hated that.  She wanted noise to drown out the burbling of the water, water she detested at the moment.  A part of the blonde wanted to cry, but she was military and a woman.  For her, that meant holding up and being strong, no matter what.

Jack was breathing heavily, even as he stood back up.  He never took his eyes off the Canon.  Unless he was killed, he'd get revenge, maybe not today or tomorrow, but someday.  He had one rule that he held above all others: never leave a man behind.  When SG-1 made their escape, they'd be leaving their fourth behind.  This left Jack's heart cold.

The walk back to the village was quiet for the team.  They were each mourning Teal'c in their own individual ways and for now, silence was golden.

====

That evening, Teal'c's body, having been retrieved from the lake, was placed on an altar in the village square.  It was visible from the prison cell where SG-1 was being kept.

“I should have done something,” Jack spoke quietly to his lover.  He was still in disbelief over the events that led to the death of their friend.  ~I should have seen this coming.~

The two were staring out the window, just watching the villagers as they prayed over the Jaffa's still body.

Daniel glanced over at Sam, who was seated on the floor, her knees drawn up and her head bowed as she remained in quiet mourning.

“There was nothing you could do,” Daniel told Jack in a near whisper when he turned back towards the front.

“I'm the team leader.”

“And Teal'c was my friend,” Daniel argued, his voice still low but very forceful.  “Jack, we all wanted to do something, and if there had been anything we could have done, we would have done it.  We didn't have any weapons; they weren't listening to us; and we weren't even close to Teal'c.  The only thing we could have done is jumped into the water and been killed ourselves.  Teal'c wouldn't have wanted that.”

Jack let out a groan and leaned down a bit, bowing his head and trying to believe what his soulmate was saying.  Still, he was the leader and losing a man, especially a member of his team, was unthinkable.

“He's dead, Danny,” Jack whispered emotionally.  **This is a hard one to get over.**

“It's not your fault,” Daniel maintained strongly as he stared at the older man.

“He was a member of my team and that makes his loss my responsibility.”

 “Jack, this is why it was called the Dark Ages.  In spite of the cultural growth, the way they ordered their lives and held Christianity at the center of everything they did made it difficult for law to function fairly.  It's ...”

“Barbaric?  Isn't that the word you used earlier?”

“Yes.”

“I think I'd rather fight the Goa'uld,” Jack responded as he straightened and took a cleansing breath.  ~Get it together, O'Neill.~  He looked at his lover, giving him a tiny smile as he spoke a reverent, “Thanks.”

“I only spoke the truth, Jack,” Daniel assured.  He looked over at the major and said, “I'm gonna check on Sam.”

Jack nodded, his eyes following Daniel as he walked over and sat down next to the major.  His team was deflated, but they weren't out of the battle yet.  They might be a man down, but he still had two to make sure he got home alive.

~I have to keep you safe, Danny.  You're my heart.  Without you, there is nothing left for me.~

====

Later that night, the Canon approached the prison cell where Jack, Daniel, and Sam were all gathered, watching the prayers being spoken by the altar on which their friend lay in rest.  The Canon informed them that Teal'c's soul was clean and he would be given a Christian burial.  That confused Jack, especially when the village leader added that they were free to go.

The discussion turned to the Canon's ring and how he used it to make sure the sacrifices were made.  His words became fanciful as he explained how unclean souls had to be separated from the clean ones and taken through the Circle of Darkness.

~Buy some Tide,~ Jack snarked inwardly, after which he silently cursed the Canon for his medieval attitude.

“I am sorry,” Simon stated after the Canon had walked away.

“You know Simon, your village Canon has an awfully interesting way of tending the flock,” Jack snapped.

“Speak no more of this,” the villager replied.

“He maintains power by controlling who gets sacrificed and who doesn't,” Daniel argued.

“No more!” Simon exclaimed.  “I have asked for this dispensation and he has granted it.”

The teammates were released, though they still had chains on their wrists.  They walked forward, staring at their fallen comrade atop the altar.

In disgust and anger, Jack turned around and asked Simon where their gear was.  He was astonished when Simon again asked for SG-1's help.  Even so, Simon refused to bury the Gate, explaining that the villagers were forbidden to go near it.  Then Simon was called away for the trepanning ritual, which was about to take place on Mary.

“Jack,” Daniel implored.

“No,” Jack denied sharply, fully aware that his soulmate wanted to interfere with the ritual.

“We can't condemn a young girl just because one man has made a pact with the devil.”  From his heart, Daniel added, “Teal'c will have died for nothing if nothing good comes from this.”

Jack remained motionless, saying nothing in reply.  Neither did Sam, who simply stood by the colonel's side.

~Why is he just standing there?~ Daniel wondered as he grew annoyed with his colonel.  He had no time to try and compel Jack to action, so he stated pointedly, “Okay, I'll tell you what.  You guys start back without me.  I'm just gonna go see if I can stop these people from a drilling a hole in the head of a young girl.”

Daniel's saddened eyes were like daggers inside of Jack's angry eyes.  There was a moment when the two just stood, staring into the ovals of the other.  So much emotion passed between them in that moment until Daniel finally walked away and broke the spell.

Feeling colder with each step he took away from his lover, Daniel lamented, ~Stubborn colonel.  Why can't you look past your anger, Jack?  Don't let Teal'c die in vein.  You know this is the right thing to do.~

~Stubborn archaeologist,~ Jack bemoaned at the same time.  ~Why does he always do this?~  Glancing at Sam, he shook his head before finally following his archaeologist.  ~Why?  Because he's right ... again.~

====

Daniel entered Simon's house just as the villager's shaky hand was about to impel a hand drill into Mary's forehead as part of the cruel cleansing ritual.
 
“Wait!” Daniel called out urgently, walking further inside.  He knew he had Simon's attention, so he took a second to decide on the right thing to say.  Then his heart began to beat again because he felt Jack's presence.  He didn't need to look back.  He knew that his partner was at the door and would support whatever he said.  Now, Daniel did indeed know the right thing to say.  “We'll take you back with us,” he told Simon.  “Mary, too.  Where we come from, there are no demons.”

Grateful, Simon lowered the drill and, when Jack approached, he handed the object over to the colonel.

“Good choice.”

“Yes, it is,” Daniel concurred, though he had a different meaning than how others perceived his comment.  **Very good choice.**

Jack looked over at his lover, understanding exactly what was being said.  This, however, wasn't the time or place to talk about it further.  What counted was that Jack had followed his passionate lover.  It was a slight case of better late, than never.

====

A while later, with Mary's fever down and Jack anxious to have the chains removed, the atmosphere inside Simon's house was as upbeat as it had been since SG-1's arrival.  Shouts and cries from the square, however, drew the team outside.  There they were stunned to see Teal'c walking towards them, putting on his BDU jacket.

“Teal'c.  You're ... alive,” Daniel stated in complete and utter surprise.

“It is so,” the Jaffa confirmed, staring steadily at his shocked teammates.

Apparently, Teal'c's symbiote had healed his body, the larval Goa'uld having filtered oxygen from the water and feeding it to Teal'c.  It also helped that Teal'c had put himself into a deep state of kelno'reem.

While SG-1 was joyous at the recent turn of events, the Canon declared the team to be evil, ordering them to be sacrificed.

“Major, next time Daniel gets the urge to help someone, shoot him,” Jack instructed in a slight variation to his earlier comment when he'd instructed his 2IC to kick him.  ~Why do we get mixed up in these situations?  We need to mind our own friggin' business.~

====

Within minutes, SG-1 and Mary were chained in the village square, all to be sacrificed and taken by the Unas when it returned at sunrise.  As ordered by the Canon, the villagers were in their houses.

“So, what's the plan?” Daniel inquired as he looked upward at his hands.  ~I've been more comfortable than this,~ he thought, not enjoying his hands being suspended up above his head or the angle in which his body was situated.

“The plan?” Jack echoed.  He was across from Daniel in a much more comfortable position, seated with his hands chained in front of him.  “I thought maybe we'd wiggle our noses and make these chains disappear.  Then we'd hop on a magic carpet to the Stargate and get home in time to have breakfast at Ihop.  How's that sound?”

“I like that plan,” Daniel responded, looking as if he were in deep contemplation.  “Sam, seen any magic carpets lately?”

“Like Aladdin's?”  Sam chuckled, amazed totally loving the frivolous banter.  No matter how dire their situation, somehow SG-1 always found some humor to get them through.  “Not lately, Daniel,” the blonde answered.

“Oh, well, we need another plan then,” Daniel replied, gazing back to his lover expectantly.

“It's Columbus' fault,” Jack stated in an apparent non sequitur.

“It is?” Daniel queried, trying to make sense of the comment.  “Why?  And, for that matter, what is?”

“Simple,” Jack responded.  “If he'd never discovered the Americas, we wouldn't be here.  We'd be in India or somewhere ... with lots of spices.”

As Sam snickered, Daniel let out a huge sigh and shook his head.  His lover's statement made no sense to him, but considering they were in an archaic and ridiculous situation anyway, that was okay.

“Bug,” Jack called out, flicking away a tiny insect that was crawling on his arm.

“Thanks for sharing,” Daniel returned, watching the flicked bug crawling up his shirt.

“Oops,” Jack mused without much remorse, seeing his Love jump slightly to try to get the tiny critter off his chest.

“I can see how sorry you are,” Daniel groaned, relieved when the little life finally fled his body.

“Trees and bugs, Daniel, trees and bugs.”

“Right,” the archaeologist acknowledged dryly.

====

At sunrise, while Simon and others looked on from their homes, the Unas arrived and approached the sacrifices.

“Mornin',” Jack greeted, though he was ignored by the creature.

With a single-minded determination, the Unas went one by one, pulling out the chains that were attached to poles and had linked the five sacrifices together in a circle.  Jack, of course, decided to challenge the creature, which didn't go over so well.  After pulling him up into the air, the Unas tossed the colonel onto the ground.

~Okay, he's not a happy camper,~ Jack groaned as he took inventory of his body.

“You are not of this world,” the Unas noted.

“No, no, we're not,” Jack confirmed, still lying on the ground.  “Unas?  What does Sokar have on you that makes you so dang cranky?”

Without responding, the Unas yanked on the chain, pulling Jack up and forcing the others to follow.

~He's an Unas with a bad attitude,~ Jack sighed.

With Simon watching from his house, the group walked single file out of the village square.  The Unas was in the lead, followed by Jack, Teal'c, Sam, Daniel, and Mary, all of whom were chained together.

Daniel sighed as he was pulled away.  He'd been frightened the Unas might have killed Jack during their brief confrontation.  He considered giving his lover a hard time about it later, but then again, he knew Jack often felt the same thing about Daniel's snarkiness with their enemies.

~Sometimes, I guess we aren't so different,~ the archaeologist mused silently, letting himself smile for just a brief moment before his mind returned to the seriousness of the current situation.

====

As the group walked near the edge of a hill, Jack signaled his team and a minute later, they surprised the Unas by tumbling down the hillside.  The sudden movement had caused the Unas to lose his hold on the linking chain.  He roared his dissatisfaction as the sacrifices looked up at him.

“Go!  Go!” Jack ordered.

Mary led the team through the woods.  Hampered by their chains, though, they couldn't travel very fast and that allowed the Unas to catch up to them.  He stepped on the dragging link chain to stop their movement.

~Not good,~ Jack thought.  ~We could use a little help here.~

Help did arrive in the surprising person of Simon.  He had brought with him Teal'c's staff weapon and some of SG-1's gear, including Jack's sidearm.

~He grew some guts; that'll do,~ the colonel acknowledged.  Then more bad news hit.  ~Oh, crap,~ was his reaction when the Unas attached the linking chain to a tree, preventing them from going forward.  Seeing the Unas take off after Simon, Jack knew there was just one way out of this mess.  “Shoot it!” he yelled encouragingly at the villager.

In all, Simon fired three times, including one close-range shot, but it wasn't enough to fell the strong creature.  The Unas hit Simon's arm, causing the staff weapon to drop to the ground.  Then he flung Simon several yards into the air.

When he got up, Simon took off running, with the Unas following.  While that was happening, Mary was able to grab hold of the staff weapon, allowing Teal'c to sever the link chain from the tree, freeing everyone.

“Carter, Daniel, head toward the Gate.  Take Mary with you.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged, already on the move.

~I knew that was coming,~ Daniel sighed, not really wanting to be separated from Jack at the moment.  He wasn't worried about himself, but he was concerned Jack would become too aggressive with the Unas and get himself killed in the process.  **Jack, be careful.**

**Not a problem,** Jack assured.  **Just get to the Gate.**  He looked at the Jaffa and asked, “Shall we?”

====

While Daniel, Sam, and Mary hurried towards the Stargate, Jack and Teal'c took off after the Unas and Simon.  By the time they reached them, the Unas was dead, Simon was lying on the ground unconscious, and the Canon, who had appeared almost out of nowhere, was talking like a changed man who had seen the light.  He praised Simon, giving him credit for having killed the Unas, which Jack pointed out meant that the Unas was just a creature and not a demon.

“As you said,” the Canon responded.  “You've opened my eyes.  Bless you.”

“Yeah, well, let's have the ring,” Jack requested, wanting to take possession of the powerful device that had caused his team so much trouble.  With the ring in his hand, he admitted, ~I feel better now.~

With haste, the group headed for the Stargate.

====

“They'll be here soon,” Sam told Daniel as they waited at the Stargate for the others.

“Jack and Teal'c going up against an Unas is old hat,” Daniel quipped.  He looked over at Mary who was the mirror of his concern.  “Don't worry, Mary.  Jack and Teal'c will bring Simon back.”

The woman nodded, her fear too great to allow her to speak.  Daniel understood.  He felt the same way inside.  Then he heard noise and looked up.  His heart beat faster as he saw the calm and safe return of his lover and the others.

**Jack?**

**I'm in one piece, Danny.  You okay?**

**Yes, now that I know you are,** the younger man answered in relief.  Curious why the Canon was there, he asked, “What happened?”

Sounding reborn, the Canon answered, “The beast ... is dead.  Had I not witnessed it myself, I would not have believed it.  Thank you ... all for showing me the way.”

As she began to dial Earth, Sam felt the presence of the Goa'uld and announced that it had gone into the Canon.

“Are you sure?” Jack questioned, even as he covertly removed the safety from his pistol.

“Positive, Sir,” Sam affirmed as she joined her commanding officer.  “I can sense it.  The Unas host was dying; it had nowhere else to go.  It went into him.”

As the Canon lunged forward, Jack fired three times, mortally wounding him.

Simon ran over to the village's spiritual leader, who asked for forgiveness before dying.  A moment later, Simon recited the prayer for the suffering souls.

“You know what to do?” Jack asked Simon and Mary, who acknowledged that they would bury the Gate as soon as SG-1 departed and then promised there would be no more sacrifices.

With the wormhole open, SG-1 stepped through the Gate and returned to Earth, leaving Simon and Mary to lead their people to a more peaceful existence.

====

The long debriefing was over and SG-1 had completed their post-mission medicals.  General Hammond had given them a few days to complete their reports, so they were free to go about their business until their next duty shifts began.

“Daniel,” Jack called out, entering his lover's office.

“What?”

“Nothing; just ... Daniel,” Jack teased.  “It's been a long couple of days.”  He walked closer and asked, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, Jack, I'm okay.”

“You don't sound okay.”

“I'm okay,” Daniel maintained.

“You sure?”

“Jack ...”  Daniel took a deep breath.  “I'm just tired.”

“Danny, I know I didn't respond to Mary's situation as fast as you would have liked, but the truth is that I was dang frustrated by their attitudes.”

“I know that, but they were living according to their customs.”  With a bit more vigor in his voice, the archaeologist continued, “Look, we'd all been through a nightmare.  We thought Teal'c was dead, but as long as we're out there, we can't sit back and do nothing when we still have options.”

“Might I point out that doing something almost got us all killed -- again,” Jack stated.  “Okay, let's just agree on this one thing.  We've been at this for a few years now, and the one constant that I can depend on is that you're our moral compass.”

Daniel looked up, surprised by the comment.

“I'm the military bad guy in your eyes because I have to follow orders, and I have to protect my team.  When we don't do anything wrong, my first priority is us.  If we screw up, then we sacrifice ourselves if we have to, but I don't like being struck by lightning and locked up just because I arrived by Stargate.  That colors my thinking, so I rely on you to make sure we're on the right path.”

“I don't understand.”

“I count on you to do exactly what you did on that planet, to point out when we have a moral obligation to keep things from turning sour.  I think by the book; you think from the heart.”

“Oh,” Daniel replied softly.

Casually, Jack walked around the corner office his lover utilized, closing the doors and locking them.  Then he turned off the recording equipment.

“Geez, Daniel, something's wrong with the camera again,” Jack remarked innocently.

Smiling, Daniel responded, “I'll have to mention it to maintenance.”

“Maybe they should get you a new camera,” the colonel teased.

“They have.”  Seeing Jack turn, Daniel nodded and informed him, “This is the third one.”

“Do tell,” a proud Jack responded, grinning as he approached his soulmate and gently pulled him off his seat and into his arms.  When he spoke next, it was in a whisper.  “I love you, Daniel Jackson.  You're not just my heart, but also the heart of my team.  I'd like to think that I'd make the right calls, right in terms of human rights and compassion, but I am who I am and sometimes, I don't see the right thing as clearly as you do.  Don't change, but ...”

“Don't be so quick to judge you for not acting as quickly as I wish you would,” Daniel interrupted, completing the request on his own.  “You thought we'd lost Teal'c and you went to that dark place.  I understand that.”

The lovers kissed, their arms slowly embracing the other.  They had a major need for a union that went beyond their lips.

“Did I say that I love you?” Jack asked, wiggling his eyebrows as a prompt.

Daniel chuckled, “I think so, and I do love you, too.”

“Even when you think I move like a snail?”

“Even if you don't move at all,” Daniel corrected seriously.  “All I ask is that you listen.  You did; that's what counts to me.”

“I have to thank you.”

“Thank me?” a confused Daniel questioned as his hands warmed Jack's back.

“When you hit me over the head on that planet, you did it without using a rock,” Jack chuckled.  “Your words, Danny.  They hit home.  You're good at words.”

“So are you.”

“I'd rather be good with lips,” Jack opined and then leaned in for another kiss.

“Didn't General Hammond dismiss us for the day?” the archaeologist asked hopefully.

“What about those translations?” Jack inquired, motioning over at the images Daniel was working on.

“They'll be here tomorrow,” the linguist spoke without remorse.

“Oh, yeah.”  Jack was happy, as evidenced by his eager and anticipatory grin.  “I'm thinking Chinese, wine, and a cozy fire.”

“In that order?”

“What's your 'or'?” Jack asked curiously.

“I was thinking bed, bed, wine, bed, Chinese.”

“No fire?”

“Oh, trust me, Jack, there's going to be a fire, a big, big ... biiiigggg roaring fire,” Daniel promised seductively, his eyes strong as he licked his lips in promise.

“I love how you think, Doctor Jackson.”

“I love how you love me, Colonel O'Neill.”

Joining together for one more kiss, the couple prepared to go home where they hoped to spend the perfect evening together, united in their nation of two and enjoying being in love. After all, having returned from a trip to the Dark Ages, it was time for romance and that was one thing that Jack and Daniel knew how to do very well.

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