Shakedown

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  6 - June 21-23, 2003
Spoilers:  Memento (Danielized), Bloodlines
Size:  60kb
Written:  April 4-7,9,14,19,24, 2008  Revised for Consistency: May 8, 2017
Summary:  SG-1 board the Prometheus for its shakedown cruise, only things don't exactly go as planned.
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, Tonya, Keri, Linda, Lil Bear!

Shakedown
by Orrymain

“What's the verdict?” Jack asked Janet Fraiser, eager for a positive answer.

Janet remained stone-faced as she put her penlight into her upper coat pocket.

“Janet?” Daniel asked hopefully.

“What are you still doing here?” the doctor responded.  “I thought SG-1 had a shakedown cruise scheduled today.”

Daniel grinned as he hopped off the hospital bed and said, “Thanks, Janet!”

Smiling, the petite woman assured, “You're fine.  Temp is normal.  Just try and take it easy, if you can.”

With a smile of his own, Jack nodded as he followed his lover out of the infirmary.  After working hard to turn in his dissertation to the University of Chicago, Daniel had gotten sick, actually collapsing in their hotel room.  He'd made an amazing recovery, however, the proof of which was Janet's clearing him for the shakedown cruise of the Air Force's new spaceship, the Prometheus, technically known as the X-303.

“Told you that you worry too much,” Daniel spoke as the couple headed for the general's office where they'd get any last minute instructions from General Hammond before heading for Peterson Air Force Base.  From there, they'd take a plane to Area 51, where the craft was currently preparing for its impending departure.

“Me?” Jack echoed, grimacing in surprise.  “Daniel, you're the one who was worried about getting the Doc's seal of approval.”

“Okay, well, maybe I was,” the archaeologist acknowledged, relieved that he could join his teammates on the mission.  “Sometimes, I'm not so smart.”

“What's that supposed to mean?” Jack asked as the two men entered the elevator.

With his hands on his hips as he watched the doors begin to close, Daniel answered, “If I'd flunked the physical, I could have stayed here while you went and did your drills.  Why didn't I think of that sooner?”

“Because you'd miss out on the action,” Jack answered as the doors closed.

“Oh.”  Feeling the elevator in motion, Daniel looked at his lover and questioned, “What action?”

Jack stared at the younger man for several seconds before facing forward and answering, “Never mind.”

====

“T, how ya feeling?” Jack asked when he and Daniel saw the Jaffa standing in the area outside of Hammond's office.

“I am well, O'Neill,” Teal'c stated.

“Janet said she'd cleared you for the mission,” Daniel interjected.

“My injuries have healed and the Tretonin is working effectively,” the Jaffa answered with confidence referring to his new existence, one without a symbiote, a consequence of a massive attack against the Jaffa less than two weeks prior.

“I just meant ... I'm glad you'll be going with us,” the archaeologist spoke softly.

“As am I,” Teal'c responded.

====

“Really.  We should bury it,” Jack suggested.

“Jack,” Daniel chastised, shaking his head at his lover, who was seated on the opposite side of the cargo plane that the team was on for its trip to the secret Nevada air base.

“He was part of the big guy here for a long time,” Jack stated, patting the tall, dark-skinned man on the back.

“Longer than you were born, O'Neill,” Teal'c pointed out.

“Actually, Teal'c, this was Junior the Second,” Sam clarified with a smile as she looked across at her CO and the Jaffa.

“You are correct, MajorCarter.  The original Junior now lives within Rya'c,” Teal'c reminded.

The Jaffa was referring to the time several years ago when he saved his son's life by giving the boy his symbiote.  Fortunately, Daniel and Sam discovered a larval Goa'uld and were bringing it back for study.  That was the 'snake' that subsequently died in the recent ambush that prompted both Teal'c and Bra'tac to begin living on the drug called Tretonin.

“I don't care what generation he is, he did a good job,” the colonel insisted.  “We should have a wake and pay our respects.”

Daniel stared at his lover, his nose scrunching up as he observed the other man.

“What?” Jack asked.

“We're not buying it,” the archaeologist claimed.

“What?” Jack repeated innocently.

“You don't want a wake for Junior, Jack; you just want to have a party,” Daniel surmised.

“You can bring the beer,” Jack responded with a smile, causing Sam to let out a giggle.

====

“Now that's a ship,” Jack observed as the team approached the huge vessel in its underground flight bay at Area 51.

“I just hope this flight is better than the last one,” Daniel stated, thinking back to a few months before when the ship was commandeered during a private press tour, trapping Sam, Daniel, and a few others on board, much to Jack's chagrin.

“I'm trying to forget about that,” Jack said.

“Me, too,” Daniel responded, looking around at all the personnel who were buzzing around as they performed their various duties.

“She has a full crew, all well trained, not to mention a top-rate commander,” Sam pointed.

Looking back at his second-in-command, Jack replied, “Yes, there's that.”

Daniel chuckled, watching his lover and Teal'c walk on ahead.

“He's a little ... uh,” Sam began quietly.

“Jealous,” Daniel completed for his friend.  “It's not that he wants to change jobs or anything, but I think he wishes he were in full command for the trip.”

“From what I know about Ronson, the colonel will have a challenge on his hands.”

“Which colonel?” Daniel teased as the two caught up to Jack and Teal'c and boarded the ship.

===

“Jack, he's just doing his job,” Daniel spoke, defending Colonel William Ronson, who was the commander of the Prometheus.

The crew just concluded a battle drill, one of several already conducted since SG-1 boarded the vessel.  Jack felt it was overkill and that Ronson was being overly dramatic in his drills.  Jack and Teal'c had been assigned to damage control, which meant staying off the bridge, something else that was also annoying to the Special Ops colonel.

After the latest confrontation, Jack sought out his lover for comfort.  Having Daniel defend the other colonel was not, however, what he had in mind when he decided to seek solace from the archaeologist.

“Do you have any idea how many drills he's done since we got here this morning?  We're just flying around in orbit.  If he drills anymore, I'll have holes in my head.”

“Would you like me to get some plugs?”

“Very funny,” Jack whined.

“I don't want you leaking all over the place,” Daniel retorted.  When his lover glared in response, he smiled and opined, “Jack, he only wants to make sure everyone is prepared.  This is a pretty big moment for the crew.  Besides, you're only complaining because you aren't the one giving the orders.”

“Am not.”

“Are so,” Daniel insisted.

“Why would I want to fly some big, huge honkin' ...”  Jack sighed as he admitted the truth to the statement.  “I still think he's overdoing it.”  He turned and said, “I'm going to talk to Hammond.  Maybe they can just drop us off before they run out of gas.”

As Jack disappeared from his sight, Daniel muttered lightheartedly, “The little boy complaining to his teacher.”

====

Sitting down in front of one of the consoles in the communication center, Jack waited for his fearless leader to appear on the screen while silently pleading, ~Help me out here, George.~

“Go ahead, Sir,” one of the technicians stated, stepping aside to give the colonel privacy.

“How goes the cruise, Jack?” Hammond asked over the video link that connected the spaceship and Stargate Command.

“To be honest with you, Sir, I feel like we're getting in the way here,” Jack answered.  ~He won't let me stay on the bridge.~

“SG-1 has valuable experience with both hyperspace travel and the Prometheus itself.  Besides, your mission to P7X-009 shouldn't take more than a few hours.  General Greer and I just want you there for the shakedown cruise,” Hammond answered.  ~Sorry, Jack.  I know Ronson is as stubborn as you are, but you're just going to have to deal with it until the mission is over.~

“In the unlikely event of an emergency,” the colonel surmised.

“Something like that.  Enjoy the ride, Colonel.  Hammond out,” the major general stated, shutting down the link.

~Great,~ Jack thought sarcastically.  ~Some shakedown cruise.  I'd rather shakedown ...~  Not completing his thought, but with a happy smirk on his face, the man stood up and went after his prey.  ~Shakedown time, Dannyboy!~

====

“That was freakin' crazy,” Daniel responded as he zipped up his pants.

The archaeologist was unsuspectingly lured to Jack's quarters and then immediately 'attacked' for a 'shakedown cruise for two', as the older man termed it.

“Just shakin' it, like the man said,” Jack asserted, shaking his midsection dramatically.

“Gawd,” Daniel replied, rolling his eyes.  “You're crazy, O'Neill.”

“Crazy and in love,” Jack chuckled as he finished dressing and was now prepared to deal with more of Ronson's drills.  ~If he drives me crazy again, I'll just do another shakedown with My Danny.~

====

With the Prometheus finally underway, having gone into hyperspace, Ronson found a determined Jack waiting for him in the elevator.

“Jack,” the ship's colonel acknowledged as he got into the elevator, its doors closing immediately afterwards.

“Got yourself a fine crew here, Ronson,” Jack praised, his arms folded as he faced his fellow officer.

“Mmmm, you've got a pretty solid team yourself.”

“Yeah, speaking of that ...” Jack began as the elevator doors opened.

“Jack,” Ronson began as they stepped out, “I know that in the event of a real situation with the Goa'uld, you feel that your place would be on the bridge.”

“Well, if not me, you'd be a fool not to take advantage of Teal'c's expertise, and Carter's a genius ...”

“You're absolutely right, but you're just along for the shakedown cruise.  My crew needs to be able to count on me and on each other after you're gone,” Ronson explained logically.

Sighing and looking away for a moment, Jack responded, “I guess I can respect that.”

“Besides, I highly doubt we'll run into the Goa'uld on this mission.”

Suddenly, a jolt was felt, causing Jack and Ronson to look at each other in surprise.

“We just dropped out of hyperspace,” Ronson observed as he walked off to investigate.

Into his radio, Jack instructed, “Daniel, Carter, Teal'c, meet me on the bridge.”

====

On the bridge, Major Erin Gant, the helmsman, reported to the captain that she didn't know what caused the ship to drop out of hyperspace.  When Ronson questioned the navigator, the man advised that they were 40.62 light years from their target.

Reading the computer displays, Sam surmised, “Something must have caused the hyperdrive to shut down automatically.”

“Something like ...” Jack prodded.

“The naquadria?” Daniel guessed about the substance the Tau'ri acquired from the Kelownans.

Sam nodded, saying, “The only way that would happen is if the computer detected some instability in the naquadria powering the engines.”

“She's right, Sir,” Gant stated.  “Diagnostics show a massive power surge in the hyperdrive.  The fail safes kicked in to shut it down.”

“Have you begun restart procedures?” Ronson questioned.

“I've tried but the computer wouldn't allow start up,” Gant answered.

“Carter?” Jack called out, waiting for his second-in-command to look up at him.  “You promised me it would work.”

“It did work.”

“No, it didn't,” Jack maintained.

“The hyperdrive was fitted with a buffer, like a surge protector.  It was designed to modulate extreme fluctuations in the energy coming from the naquadria.  This shouldn't be happening.”

“But it is ... happening,” Daniel interjected.

“But it is,” Jack said at the same time as his lover, glancing over at him for a quick moment.

“Something must have damaged the buffer,” Gant put forth.

“Sir, with your permission I'd like to take a look,” Sam requested of Ronson.

“Take Major Gant with you.  Report back to me as soon as possible,” Ronson ordered.

“Yes, Sir,” Sam acknowledged as she and Gant left the bridge.

====

“Sir,” Sam called out a bit later over the radio.

“What did you find out?” Jack questioned, looking over at Ronson.

“While in hyperspace, we passed through an intense gravity wave from a collapsing star, and that caused the buffer to overload.”

“And ...” Jack prompted.

“The good news is that the hyperspace engine is still intact, and we still have the naquadria.”

“But ...”

“But the bad news is that we have no way of regulating it or of determining how far we've traveled because of naquadria's inherent instability,” Sam stated informatively.

“We could end up anywhere,” Daniel interjected from his place next to his soulmate.

“Should have set the VCR to tape 'The Simpsons',” Jack bemoaned dryly.

“So, what do we do?” Daniel asked, seeing nothing but stares in his direction.  “Just a question.”

====

Entering the briefing room with his lover and Teal'c, Jack spoke, “Well, if he was gonna help out, he'd have shown by now.”

“Who?” Ronson asked curiously.

“Thor -- little guy, gray.”

“I know who Thor is,” the commander of the Prometheus responded.

“The Asgard have proven valuable in similar situations,” Teal'c interjected.

“Carter?” Jack called out expectantly.

“I'm afraid it doesn't look good, Sir.  Even if we were able to write a subroutine into the computer to bypass the buffer, we'd still risk the reactor going critical.”

“Well, use whatever you need to repair the buffer.  Cannibalize whatever systems you deem necessary,” Ronson ordered as he looked at the major, who stood next to him.

“With all due respect, Colonel, I can't,” Sam responded.

~Can't?~ Jack thought in disbelief.  “Carter?” he called out, his eyebrows arched.  ~I'm not gonna like this.~

“Sir, I helped design the buffer module.  I can tell you right now there is no *possible* way I can make it operational, not with what we have on this ship.  It's like a, a light bulb that's burned out.  You can't just fix it.”

“Do we have any extra bulbs?” Jack asked hopefully.

“There's no redundancy for that particular system,” Ronson pointed out.

“So, you're saying there's no redundancy,” Jack responded, causing Teal'c to look at him quizzically.

“Even if we were to plot a course for Earth, using maximum sub-light thrust, it would take years.  We *don't* have the supplies,” Ronson stated.

“Not to mention the relativistic effects,” Sam added.

“That buffer has to be repaired,” Ronson reiterated.

“Actually, there may be another solution,” Daniel stated, causing everyone to look at him in surprise.  He headed for the exit and then turned back, saying, “Uh, meet me on the bridge.”

Ronson stared at Jack, who shrugged and said, “It's the Tok'ra's fault.  They let him fly one of their ships once.  Now he gets command happy whenever he's in space.”

Jack left the room, followed by Teal'c, leaving Ronson staring at Sam.

“He's joking,” Sam asserted.

“I hope so, Major.  This is my ship, not Jack O'Neill's, or anyone else's on his team.”

“He knows that, Sir,” Sam assured.

“I wonder,” Ronson sighed as he headed for the bridge.

====

On the bridge near the ship's star map, Daniel set up his laptop and then began to explain his idea, saying, “We just need to get to a planet with a Stargate, and I think I've found one.  According to the Cartouche, there's a planet point-three-eight light years from our present position.”  He circled a spot on the map.  “P3X-744.  Now, we've tried dialing it unsuccessfully in the past, but if it's on the Cartouche, then there had to be a Gate there at some point.”

“Perhaps it may be buried,” Teal'c suggested.

“Well, if we can make it there and gate home, we can get what we need to repair the ship,” Daniel pointed out.

“We're still talking about a four-month journey using sub-light engines,” Gant put forth.  “We'd never make it.”

“We use the hyperdrive,” Sam suggested.

“I thought we couldn't do that,” Jack stated.

“For a protracted period of time, no,” the blonde agreed.

“744 would be a pretty short hop,” Gant acknowledged as she began to come round to the idea and walked over to a console to input the coordinates.

“The shorter the burst of energy required, the less chance of instability,” Sam explained.

“That's what I was hoping,” Daniel stated.  He looked at everyone and then offered, “Look, we won't know unless we try.  Are there any other ideas?”

~He's right,~ Jack opined.  To the ship's captain, he vociferated, “It's your call.”  When Ronson looked at him, he added, “But I don't see how we have much choice.”  His eyes darted over briefly to his archaeologist.  ~Danny's usually right about this stuff.~

“Major Gant, plot a course for 744,” Ronson ordered with a bit of a choiceless sigh.

====

“You sure about this, Daniel?” Jack asked quietly as the two stared at the star map.

“It's our best option,” the archaeologist replied.

Jack stared at his lover and repeated, “You sure about this, Daniel?”

Daniel just shrugged and gave his soulmate a tiny smile.

“That's what I thought.”

====

Their short hyperspace trip begun and concluded, the travelers were pleased to be orbiting P3X-744.  As they awaited the next move, Jack and Daniel stood behind the navigator's seat, while Sam leaned in by Major Gant at the helm to study the readings more closely.

When a rapid energy build up, caused by a power surge due to the hyper jump,  occurred in the naquadria cells, Ronson had no choice but to order the reactor module jettisoned.

“Wait a minute,” Daniel called out.  “If I'm wrong about there being a Stargate on this planet, we're losing our only means of getting home.”

“It would appear there is little choice,” Teal'c responded.

With the reactor jettisoned, the Prometheus moved away, hoping to escape the worse of the shock blast when the reactor exploded.  Once the shockwave subsided, the crew realized the computer systems had been damaged.  Luckily, there weren't any casualties.

Before Sam could assist the technicians in repairing the systems, a report of incoming bogeys from the planet surface was made.  The Prometheus was under attack.

“Evasive action,” Ronson called out.  “Take us out of orbit.”

“We can't maneuver, Sir,” the navigator called out.

“All right, arm weapons,” Ronson ordered.  “We'll try to take them out.”

“Weapons control is down, Sir,” Gant reported.

“How long before they hit?” Jack questioned.

“Three minutes,” the navigator answered.

“That's not enough time to get the systems back online, Sir,” Sam pointed out.

“Colonel, they only launched their missiles after we exploded our hyperdrive above their atmosphere.  It could have very well looked like an attack from their point of view,” Daniel interjected.

“I agree, Sir,” Sam stated.  “Based on the weapons they fired, they're obviously a fairly sophisticated race.  The EM pulse that knocked out most of our computer systems could have had the same impact on their planet.”

“Then how were they able to launch missiles?” Ronson inquired.

“Ballistic missile sites on Earth are shielded from EMP,” Sam answered.

“What do we have to lose by being honest with them?” Daniel asked pointedly.

Looking at his lover, Jack nodded and then said to Ronson, “Let's talk to 'em.”

“Two minutes to missile impact,” the navigator and weapons officer reported.

“Sir, I can broadcast on multiple frequencies.  If they're listening, they'll pick it up,” Gant stated.

“Do it,” Ronson ordered.

Jack put on a headset with earphones and a microphone and waited for the okay to begin his plea to their attackers.

“This is Colonel Jack O'Neill of the United States Air Force vessel Prometheus.  Can anyone hear me down there?”  Jack paused, hearing static over the speaker.  “The explosion that just happened in orbit over your planet was an *accident*.  The resulting EM pulse damaged our ship, and we're defenseless against your attack.”

“They're listening, Jack,” Daniel opined, urging his lover on with a nod, though only static continued to be heard over the speakers.

~Okay, let's keep it light,~ Jack thought.  “We've come a long way to meet you folks, so if there's anything you can do to, y'know, to stop those missiles.”

“One minute to impact,” the navigator reported.

Over the intercom, Ronson ordered, “Lock down all compartments, and brace for impact.”

As an alarm sounded, Jack implored over the radio, “We'd very much like the opportunity to land and introduce ourselves, but ... if you destroy our ship, that's going to be ... very difficult.”  With an inward sigh, he communicated to his lover, **Danny, I don't think they're listening.**

**Yes, they are.**

**Okay, you know I like to be Mister Positive, but, just in case, I love you.**

**I love you, too, but they are listening,** Daniel insisted.

Suddenly, the missiles exploded.  The Prometheus shook from the resulting shockwave, but the ship and the crew were safe.

**I love it when you're right,** Jack commented.

**I'll make sure you remember saying that,** Daniel replied.

Over the radio, a man spoke, “This is Commander Kalfas of the Tagrean Security Force.  We will transmit landing coordinates.  Kalfas out.”

“Not exactly an engraved invitation, but ...” Jack responded.

“I would prefer not landing until we have our shields and weapons back online,” Ronson stated.

“We should have systems back up within a few minutes, Sir,” Gant reported.

**That was close,** Jack communicated.

**Too close,** Daniel acknowledged.

====

“Ready for the ole meet and greet?” Jack asked his lover as they headed for the ring transporter, the team in full gear and with their weapons.

“It wasn't on the agenda, but, uh, I'm always prepared,” Daniel responded.

“Like a boy scout,” Jack mused.

“Just remember, we aren't going in under normal circumstances.  We released the reactor, and they may not be so anxious to be friends,” Daniel reminded sternly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Jack responded, knowing the archaeologist was right.  “What's this guy's name again?”  He searched his mind to no avail.  ~Better get it right.~

“The man you talked to is called Commander Kalfas.  The planet is called Tagrea,” Daniel answered.

“Kalfas.  Tagrea.  Got it.”

“Sir, I've been scanning for naquadah traces with the ship's sensors in an effort to determine the location of the Stargate.  So far, I've got nothing,” Sam reported.

“Could the information on the Cartouche be incorrect?”

“Hasn't been wrong yet,” Sam answered.

“If they don't accept our apology, finding the Stargate is going to be the least of our problems,” Daniel interjected.

With his team in place, Jack signaled a crewman, who then activated the rings, transporting SG-1 to the planet's surface.

Looking around the planet, Jack noticed several flying weapon platforms hovering around the ship.  Nearby was a battalion of Tagrean soldiers, weapons raised in their direction.  Several huge tanks were visible.

“Oh, yeah.  We're not in their good graces,” Jack groaned quietly.

“If the situation were reversed ...” Daniel began.

“Yeah, I know,” Jack acknowledged.  “Okay, let's go.”

The team walked away from the Prometheus and were met by Kalfas, who ordered, “Drop your weapons immediately.”

“Howdy, fellas!  Colonel Jack O'Neill, United State...”

“Several powerful weapons are aimed at both you and your ship,” Kalfas warned without a compassionate sounding tone in his voice.

“...s Air Force,” Jack completed.

“Disarm yourselves, or you will be fired upon.  This is not negotiable.”

“I believe he is being sincere in his threat, O'Neill,” Teal'c put forth.

“We're going to have to start trusting them at some point,” Daniel stated quietly as he stepped forward a bit to stand between Jack and Teal'c.  **Jack, I don't think we have a choice,** he communicated mentally.

Looking around at the surrounding soldiers, Jack replied out loud to both Daniel's spoken and silent words, agreeing, “Yeah,” as he began to un-clip his P-90, ultimately placing it on the ground.

“Follow me,” Kalfas ordered.

“You don't like us, do you?” Jack questioned.

Kalfas said nothing in response.

“I didn't think so,” Jack sighed as he led his team onward.

====

“Okay, so they're a little more advanced than us,” Daniel acknowledged quietly as he looked around the city the team just arrived at.

“I agree,” Sam stated.  “Their architecture isn't anything like ours, and this transport system is clearly more evolved.”

“I don't see any ships,” Jack interjected, wanting to cling to something that said they had something over the Tagreans.

The team was led to a chamber where other Tagreans were waiting for them by a table.

**I think he's the leader.  He has that look,** Jack communicated to his lover about a tall, older man who they saw Kalfas whisper something to.

**He probably ordered Kalfas to call off the attack.**

**Something that didn't go over well with Kalfas, I'm sure,** Jack replied.

“This is Chairman Ashwan,” Kalfas stated.

“Hello,” Daniel began eagerly, stepping forward to the edge of the table, as did his teammates.  “I'm Daniel Jackson, this is Jack O'Neill, Samantha Carter, and ... Teal'c,” he introduced, pointing at each of his teammates.

“You are in charge?”

“Uh ...”

“No, that would be me,” Jack interrupted with a small smile as he raised his hand briefly.

“Welcome.  Please, sit down,” the chairman requested, smiling inwardly, having recognized Jack's voice from the radio communication earlier.

“I take it we have you to thank for destroying the missiles before they hit our ship, thus saving our lives.”

“There was something in your voice that I trusted,” the man stated.

“Oh.  Did I mention we're sorry?”

“Knowing that the EM pulse caused damage to your ship, I'm willing to accept that it was unintentional,” the man spoke.

“I'm not so willing,” Kalfas stated stubbornly from his seat on Ashwan's left.

**Big surprise,** Jack stated mentally.

“Power has been restored to the cities affected, Kalfas,” Ashwan replied to his associate.

“There was considerable impact in our economic systems,” Kalfas argued.

“They will recover,” the chairman insisted.

“But we still don't know the extent of the damage,” Kalfas argued.

Raising his voice, the man began, “Nothing,” turning to SG-1, “compared to the event of meeting a race of people from another world for the very first time.  It is a profound moment for us.  You have said that Tagrea holds the key to returning to your home planet.  Could you be more specific?”

Sam answered, “Chairman Ashwan, we believe that you possess a piece of alien technology that is capable of transporting living matter across the galaxy.”

Seeing looks of confusion on both Ashwan's and Kalfas' faces, Jack clarified, “We'd like to borrow your Stargate.”

“I'm sorry, our ... Stargate?” Ashwan questioned blankly.

“Kind of a ring thing, comes with a dialer; you hit the symbols, it spins around, and lights come on; it kind of flushes sideways?” Jack explained.

Seeing Ashwan shake his head, Daniel opened his notebook and stated, “It looks like,” finding the right page, “this.”  He held up the picture of the Stargate that was drawn in the notebook and then handed it to Kalfas.  “Once it's activated, it is able to transport you from one planet to another instantaneously.  In this case, from Tagrea to our planet, Earth.”

As the notebook was examined by each of the Tagreans present at the meeting, Kalfas spoke, “They seek the Ring of the Gods.”

“If that's what you wanna call it; Ring of the Gods is good,” Jack stated, seeing Kalfas return the notebook to Daniel.

“Please, understand, this device you seek, the Stargate, I regret to tell you ...” Ashwan began.

“It's a myth,” Kalfas interrupted.

“There has never been a shred of evidence to prove its existence,” Ashwan added.

“Have you looked around, just ...” Jack began.

“If you could grant us access to some of your historical data, we might be able to shed some light on the situation,” Sam suggested.

“No, no, no, your freedom of movement is not negotiable,” Kalfas stated sternly.  “Once this meeting is over, you're to return to your vessel and stay there unless further instructed.”

“In the meantime, I will have some basic historical data delivered to your ship,” Ashwan told SG-1 to the dismay of Kalfas.

“Mister Chairman!” Kalfas exclaimed unhappily.

“If you do somehow succeed in proving the existence of this Stargate, we will be glad to help you locate it as an act of good faith between our two worlds,” Ashwan promised.

“Thank you, Ashwan,” Jack stated, after which the team was escorted back to the Prometheus.

====

“Basic historical data,” Daniel stated as the team ringed back up to the Prometheus.

“What?” Jack asked.

“That's what Ashwan said he'd have delivered.  I was just wondering what he meant by 'basic'.”

“Do you doubt his intentions, DanielJackson?” Teal'c asked.

“No, but I'm just curious at that distinction.  I mean, uh, it implies there is more out there, somewhere.”

“Well, there probably is, Daniel,” Sam interjected.  “He's probably just referring to books that are easily accessible.”

“Probably,” Daniel acknowledged.

“But ...” Jack prodded.

“Nothing.  Just thinking out loud.”

“Well, stop it.  You're worrying Teal'c.”

Teal'c glared at Jack, wondering why the man always used him in situations like this.

Jack simply shrugged lightly and headed for the bridge to check on the ship's status.

====

“How goes the homework?” Jack asked as he walked into the briefing room where his team was hard at work examining the data that had been delivered to the ship earlier.

“Well, besides the language, there's almost nothing to indicate how these people got here.  There's no archaeological data, no ancient writing, no documentation of any artifacts,” Daniel replied in a combination of amazement and disappointment.

“And I have found no mention of the Chappa'ai nor any other technology used by the Goa'uld,” Teal'c added.

“Well, that's a little weird.  The Goa'uld are friggin' litter bugs; they usually leave a lot of crap behind,” Jack responded, sitting down in one of the chairs.

“That is most often the case,” Teal'c agreed.

“If this is a comprehensive history of Tagrea, it's a joke,” Daniel opined sarcastically.

“I know,” Sam agreed.  “There's nothing here dating back further than three-hundred years.”

“Maybe a year is longer on this planet,” Jack suggested.

“Maybe, Sir, but even so, without an idea about where the Tagreans came from, we have no way of finding the Stargate,” Sam responded.

“So, either they're hiding something from us, or, uh ...” Daniel began.

“Or their entire past has been erased,” Teal'c completed.

“We need to see what else is out there,” Daniel stated, looking over at his lover.

“Okay.  How?” Jack questioned.  “Kalfas isn't about to let us off the ship.”

“Well, we need to give them something he wants in exchange,” the archaeologist suggested.

“Steak?” Jack teased, shaking his head at his own humor.

“Sir, you've done it again,” Sam stated.

Jack looked over at the woman, his smile fading as he mockingly agreed, “Right.  It's obvious.”  As Sam just smiled, the colonel asked a bit forcefully, “Okay, Carter, just how did I ... do it?”

**If you don't remember, Babe, I'll be sure and remind you later,** Daniel smirked in their minds.

**Dang it, Daniel, not now.**

Daniel hid his laughter at his Love's frustration and focused on Sam.

“We invite them to dinner,” Sam explained.

Leaning forward, the archaeologist added, “Right; in exchange for letting us get a look at their archives.”

“Ronson won't like it,” Jack replied.

“Jack, we need to find out more.  This information isn't helping us,” Daniel said, motioning toward the volumes of information in front of them.

“Look at it this way, Sir.  If we don't find the Stargate, we're not going anywhere,” Sam asserted firmly.

“Which means that, sooner or later, they'll see the inside of the Prometheus anyway,” Daniel pointed out with a nod of his head for emphasis.

“Okay, I'll make the pitch to Ashwan,” Jack said, getting up and heading for the communications center.  “But I don't think we should all go.  Daniel, you and Teal'c do the book thing, and ...”

“The book thing,” Daniel whispered, shaking his head at the phrase.

“... Carter and I will stay here for the tour,” Jack instructed, staring at his lover, having heard the tone in his quiet remark.  “Ashwan may have questions about how this thing flies, and I don't think Ronson is gonna want to be the teacher.”

“So, you're going to tell them all about how the ship is run,” Daniel teased.

“You don't think I can answer their questions?”

Daniel just smiled in response, not saying anything verbally.

Jack looked around at his teammates, seeing the unapologetic smiles.  With a growl, he left the room.

“Details, Sam,” Daniel chuckled, certain there would be a moment when the blonde would have to take over the tour.

“Maybe they'll just ask about the weapons,” Sam replied.

“O'Neill knows much about bighugehonkin' weapons,” Teal'c stated with a stoic expression, thought obviously trying to make a joke as he blended the three adjectives into a single word.

“He knows a lot about anything that's big, huge, and ...”  Suddenly, Daniel became a bit nervous and stopped his words before he regretted them.  “I think we'd better get these ready to return,” he suggested about the books on the table.

“Right,” Sam agreed with a light chuckle.

====

As predicted, Ronson was distressed to learn that Jack and SG-1 invited Ashwan and his associates to dinner.  More than just a simple gesture of friendship, the invitation was given in exchange for access to the Tagreans' central archives.

“A library pass for a tour of the ship,” Jack told Ronson as he, Daniel, and the commander walked down one of the ship's corridors.

The ship's commander was displeased not to have been included in the decision and to have been informed so late.  In fact, he wasn't told of the exchange until just before it was to occur, something else that bothered him greatly.

“You know I can appreciate that you wanna get home, but my first priority is the security of this ship and crew,” Ronson told Jack.

“Ronson, your ship and crew are going *nowhere* unless we find that Gate,” Jack stated pointedly.

“I just don't like the idea of giving a guided tour of Prometheus to the same people who've got gun batteries aimed at us.”

“We'd do the same thing,” Jack argued.

“Colonel Ronson, we need these people to get home, and we didn't exactly make a good first impression,” Daniel put forth as he stood next to his lover.

Unhappy with the course of events, Ronson forcefully told Jack, “We'll do this little barbecue of yours, but that's as far as I go.”

Jack watched the man walk away and then mused, “Do we have a barbecue?”

Smiling, Daniel replied, “Thankfully, no.”

“Thankfully?”

“What we don't need, Jack, is for you to burn the steaks.  Talk about putting an end to peaceful negotiations,” the younger man smirked as he began to walk away.

“Burn?  I do *not* burn steaks.  Daniel!  Daniel!” Jack exclaimed as he hurried after his teasing soulmate.  ~I hope he's teasing.~

====

Jack and Sam gave Ashwan a tour of the Prometheus, with Sam taking over when, as predicted, the chairman began asking more in depth questions about the operation of the new craft.

~Crap,~ the colonel thought, stepping aside and hanging back a second, thereby allowing his second-in-command to walk in front of him and alongside Ashwan as she responded to the technical queries.

Among other things, the astrophysicist explained in more detail about naquadria, how it powers the hyperdrive engine, and why its instability led to the jettisoning of the reactor.

“Why use such a dangerous substance to power your ship?” Ashwan asked.

“I've asked the same question,” Jack admitted.  ~Not that I've ever understood the answer.  Danny does, somehow.  Okay, Danny's a genius, but ...~

“For the time being, naquadria is our shortcut to interstellar travel,” Sam answered.  “More stable forms of energy simply don't provide enough power to run the hyperdrive.”

“Several of my advisors have expressed concern that this is a military vessel. What would you have me say to them?”

“That they're right,” Jack replied, having bonded a bit with Ashwan, both men understanding the other a bit better as they continued to talk.

====

Meanwhile, Daniel and Teal'c were in the city library, searching through the archives.  They continued to be amazed at the lack of historical record in the books.

“SGC teams have been to hundreds of worlds, and on each of them, the ones inhabited by humans at least, there's been some indication of their origins: a temple, some ruins ...” Daniel began.

“It is indeed a mystery, DanielJackson.  A Goa'uld would not bring this many Tau'ri to a new world and not force them to build monuments in his honor,” Teal'c replied.

“Well, I don't care how hard you try, you can't erase history.  Something has to remain.  We just need to find it,” Daniel said, determined to dig further to find the needed answers to their questions.

“We are being watched.”

“The guy half-hiding behind the bookshelf.  He's been casing us since we got here,” Daniel acknowledged.  Hearing the man cause some scrolls on the shelves to fall, he sneered, “And not very well, either.”

“Indeed.”

“How about we ...” Daniel suggested, the plan going unstated as the two men stood up and walked away from the table.

Having lost sight of Daniel and Teal'c, the man began to move forward, unaware the teammates doubled around, surprising the watcher by sneaking up behind him.  The man's name was Tarek Solamon, and he was a Professor of Mathematics at the university where the central archive was located.  He was fascinated by the Ring of the Gods and told the two that he thought he could help them find it.

====

On board the Prometheus, the dinner was taking place.  Jack, Sam, Ronson, Ashwan, Kalfas, and two other Tagreans were seated at a table.

“Mister Chairman, we couldn't help but notice in our research that your history seems limited to the last three-hundred years,” Sam stated as they enjoyed their meal.

“Prior to our ... recorded history, our people endured a ... a long and terrible dark age, one they desperately wished to forget.  Thus, only after Tagrea emerged from this black era, did historians begin again to record events,” Ashwan explained.

“But that means that you're missing thousands of years of your past,” Sam replied.

“Yes,” Kalfas confirmed.

“Aren't you curious?” Jack asked before taking a drink of his beverage.

“Well, it's hardly a question of choice, Colonel,” Ashwan answered.  “Even if we wish to know our ancient history, there's none to study.  All evidence of it was destroyed centuries ago.”

“We believe that what came before year zero has no intrinsic value to our society. The society of the new era has no need to know how they suffered,” Kalfas stated.

“On Earth, we study our past, to learn from it,” Ronson countered challengingly.

“Whereas we believe that nostalgia is a sign of weakness,” Kalfas asserted.

“I'm sure both points of view have merit,” Sam interjected diplomatically after a tense moment of silence.

“Well said, Major,” Ashwan agreed.  “A drink, to history,” he proposed, raising his glass, as did the others.  “And to the future.”

====

Before leaving the ship and after having a small confrontation with Kalfas, who had gone on ahead, Ashwan spoke with Jack for a minute before heading to the transporter rings.

“I apologize for Commander Kalfas' behavior.  Diplomacy is not his strength,” Ashwan spoke.

“Yes, we share that quality in common,” Jack responded.  ~Danny would say that was an understatement,~ he thought.  ~I'd tell him he was a wise guy.  Then the snarky geek would thank me for calling him wise.~  Inwardly, he grimaced.  ~Crap, I'm bantering with Danny and he's not even here.~

Unaware of the silent, imagined banter taking place in Jack's mind, the chairman elaborated, “Since I took office, I have been perceived publicly as being weak in matters of civic defense.  As a result, Kalfas has growing political support.”

“Our arrival hasn't helped things much, has it?”

Shaking his head, Ashwan admitted, “No.  I only hope his mistrust does not interfere with your quest for the Stargate.  I believe finding it would be ... a great discovery for our people.”

====

On the planet, Tarek took Daniel and Teal'c to his office, which was somewhat cluttered with artifacts.  He proceeded to open a chest and remove several stone items, relics he'd collected during his lifetime.  He revealed their creator was Horus and that only a few Tagreans still believed, including himself.  Pulling out a medallion from beneath his jersey, he showed it to the two teammates.  The necklace was gold and had an eagle.

“The symbol of Heru'ur,” Teal'c observed.

“You know him?” a surprised Tarek asked as he put back his necklace.

“Heru'ur is not a god.  He is a Goa'uld,” the Jaffa informed the man.

“He's the one who made us.  The relics speak of him as the creator of all life; the one who spoke us into existence.”

“More likely, he's the one who enslaved your ancestors and brought them here from Earth,” Daniel supposed.  “He probably abandoned your people many years ago, when the resources he sought were depleted.  Then the Tagreans must have tried to destroy all evidence of their former god as an act of defiance, including everything to do with the Stargate.”

“Ah, they did not destroy everything,” Tarek revealed, taking out a small package, covered in a piece of linen.  “This remains.”

Daniel studied the small papyrus scroll, covered in reddish hieroglyphs, that Tarek handed him.  He noted that among the glyphs, in the middle of the papyrus, was a pictograph of the Stargate.

“My understanding of this language is extremely limited, but it appears to be an etching of something called a 'shap-eye',” Tarek stated.

“Chappa'ai,” Teal'c clarified.

“This text is a slight variation of pre-dynastic Egyptian; it's beautiful,” Daniel observed.  “This section right here says Heru'ur's Stargate can be found, uh, in a great desert to the north.”

“Oh, it must mean the wastelands of Annur.  They lie far beyond the city.  I found many of my artifacts there.”

“Really?” Daniel answered, intrigued as he looked over at Teal'c for a moment.  Looking over at the security personnel that had accompanied them, he called out, “Guys?  We'd like to take a little field trip.”

====

While waiting for the okay to travel to the wastelands, Daniel contacted his lover over the radio.

“How did the big dinner go?”

“Oh, you know.  We ate, talked, discussed,” Jack answered.

“So, you had fun.”

“No,” Jack answered.  “Ashwan's an okay guy, but that Kalfas isn't great with the diplomacy thing.”

“Neither are you,” Daniel responded.

“Funny thing, I told Ashwan that.”

“Oh, well, that's still a little understated,” Daniel opined.

“I knew you'd say that,” Jack responded.  “You're always such a wise guy about stuff like this.”

“Thank you, Jack.  I'm glad you can admit I'm wise.”

Jack just smiled.  His imagined banter from earlier had played out just about as he'd thought it would.

“Any luck?” the colonel asked his archaeologist, growing more serious as he got their conversation back on track.

“Maybe.  We think the Stargate might be in some wastelands.  We're waiting for permission to check it out.”

“Keep me advised.”

“I always do,” Daniel replied.

“*Before* the fact, Daniel, not after,” Jack growled slightly.

Daniel chuckled and asked, “About the tour ...”

“*Don't go there,*” the older man replied.

The younger man chuckled again and then responded simply, “Daniel out.”

====

Kalfas lost his argument to deny SG-1's request and reluctantly followed his orders to take Daniel and Teal'c to the wastelands of Annur.

Standing beneath a hot sun beating down on the desert, Daniel closely examined the papyrus containing the pictograph of the Stargate.

“The Stargate should be located directly in the middle of the second and third monument,” Daniel stated, pointing over to two stone pillars, one behind the group and the other in front of them.

“Are you certain, DanielJackson?”

“Well, it's what it says,” Daniel answered.  “Let's find out.”

Hours passed before Teal'c finally made contact, his spade hitting something hard in the ground.  Daniel climbed into the hole and began digging with his hands.  Then he used a special brush to finally unearth a coverstone with hieroglyphs on it.

Reading the glyphs, Daniel translated, “Here lies ... Chappa'ai of Heru'ur ... false god to the people of Tagrea.  May they never know daylight again.”

“The ring exists,” Tarek surmised, smiling broadly at the affirmation of his beliefs.

“Yeah,” Daniel responded excitedly, looking up at the man.  “I'll tell Jack,” he told Teal'c, climbing out of the hole and going over to his gear.  Clicking on his radio, he called out, “Jack?  Jack, come in please.”

“What's up?” Jack responded.

“I think we found it, the Stargate,” Daniel answered, speaking rapidly from the thrill he was feeling.

“Well, that's good news.”

“Uh, we're gonna need some help to move it,” Daniel advised, looking around the area.

“We'll talk to Ashwan.  Nice job!” Jack praised.

Smiling, Daniel responded, “Thanks.”

====

Sometime later, a full-scale crew worked to uncover the Stargate and unearth the DHD.  After a time, Sam arrived, checking out the DHD to make sure he was functional, after which she returned to the ship.  Finally, the circular ring was raised.

“Okay, well, let's, uh, give it a shot,” Daniel said as he began to dial the address.

The workers and locals watched in stunned amazement as the chevrons lit and the Stargate engaged, the vortex thundering out as the wormhole opened.

Daniel and Teal'c smiled at each other, and then Daniel reached for his radio, reporting, “Jack, we ...”  Suddenly, a line of bullets exploded in the sand just inches from the team's feet.  “Uh, problem.”

“Daniel, what's going on?” Jack asked anxiously, having heard the all-too-familiar sound of weaponry.

“Well, the Stargate works.”

“And?  What was that sound?  Sounded like shots.”

“Yeah, well, that would be Kalfas.  He's pulling up in a ... a tank.  I think he thinks he's Patton or something.”

“Patton?”

“He's definitely not looking friendly,” Daniel noted, leaving his link open so that Jack could hear the upcoming exchange.  “The tank just stopped.”

Standing in the tank's turret, Kalfas announced he was taking back what belonged to his people.

Immediately, Jack contacted Ashwan, who promised to check into it and suggested Jack join him in the city.

====

A while later, inside the Tagrean council chamber, Jack and Sam met with Ashwan to discuss the situation.  Ashwan was angry with Kalfas and ordered him to stand down.  Not surprisingly, the man refused, claiming to be protecting Tagrea's security.  Unfortunately, Ashwan feared that challenging the soldier would lead to a civil war.

“Sir, we could use the Prometheus.  Her weapons would be more than a match for Kalfas' troops,” Sam suggested to her CO.

“There is still that nagging problem of all the guns pointed at it,” Jack responded, his eyes daring Ashwan to have some backbone and help them.

“I chose the commander of those gun batteries myself.  He is loyal to me.  Colonel, I give you my word.  He will not fire upon your ship,” the chairman promised.

After a moment, Jack replied, “We're banking on that.”  He walked forward a step and added, “But understand this.  Kalfas thinks we can't, and won't, fight back.  He's wrong, on both counts.  You seem like a nice guy, a good man, but we're gonna do what we have to, to get our people back.  You have *my* word on that.”  He paused a moment and then looked at Sam expectantly, saying, “Carter,” before heading back to the space vessel.

Sam nodded at the chairman and then hurried after her CO.

“Bluffing, Sir?  I mean, uh, we can't fight back; at least, not yet, and if Kalfas gains control, he might be able to get to us before we could do anything.”

“Don't be such a wet blanket, Carter,” Jack responded.  “Besides, the Asgard have been bluffing the Goa'uld for decades.  If it can work for them, it can work for us.”

“Yes, Sir.”

====

Daniel, Teal'c, and those who had helped them uncover the Stargate were now kneeling on the ground, their hands tied behind them as Kalfas and his guards watched over them.

“Kalfas, you've no idea what you're dealing with here,” Daniel stated.

“I know our ancestors buried this device for a reason.”

“Maybe they were wrong.  Maybe it's time for you to stop being afraid of the past,” Daniel challenged.

“No, it's not the past I'm concerned about, it's the future.  Having assessed our strength, you would undoubtedly return with greater numbers.”

“You have nothing to fear from the Tau'ri,” Teal'c assured.

“We just want to fix our ship,” Daniel affirmed calmly.  “Our people can become friends.  They ... they can exchange knowledge, even trade.  We'll even teach you how to use the Stargate.”

Stepping forward menacingly, Kalfas spoke, “Yes, you will teach me how to use it.”

“Okay, that's not the way I meant it.”

“It does not matter what you meant.”

“Look, our people can be friends.  We're not a threat to you.  I know you think that, but we're only here because our ship needs to be repaired.  If you don't want us to stay, we'll just get what we need to get back home, fix the ship, and leave. You'll never see us again.”

“I do not believe your lies.  You'll bring back more of your people, and you will try to take control of Tagrea.”

“No, we won't,” Daniel insisted.  “We don't conquer worlds.”

With a sneer, Kalfas turned around, walking away from the group.

“He will not listen, DanielJackson,” Teal'c opined.

“No, no, he won't,” Daniel sighed in agreement.

====

On board the Prometheus, walking onto the bridge with Ronson, Jack brought the man up to date, but the ship's captain was far from eager to put the new craft in danger.

“They're holding two of my men prisoner.  We *need* this ship,” Jack argued as he followed Ronson onto the bridge.  ~And we're going to use it.~

Sitting in his chair, Ronson replied, “Our shields are still down, Jack.  If we take off and they open fire with those guns ...”

“Ashwan promised they wouldn't,” Jack pointed out.  ~I believe him, and we *are* using this ship.~

“He just lost control of his government, and I'm going to trust the safety of my crew to his word?” Ronson challenged incredulously.

~Oh, yeah.~  Firmly, Jack confirmed verbally, “Yes.  That's what you're going to do.”  ~Believe me, William, that *is* what you are going to do.  My Danny is out there and this is the only way to get him back.~

“Jack, you're asking me to risk everyone on this ship.”

At that moment, Sam escorted Ashwan onto the bridge and the chairman declared, “If that is so, Colonel Ronson, then I will be taking the same risk.  You may launch your vessel when ready.  You'll not be fired upon.”

~There you go!~ Jack thought.  ~Now get this blasted ship off the ground before I do it myself.~

Ronson thought for a moment and then gave the order to start the engines, arm the weapons, and prepare to fire on his command.

“That will not be necessary, Colonel,” Ashwan asserted, turning and leaving the bridge, with Sam following.

Looking at Jack, Ronson stated, “Let's hope the old man is right, or this is gonna be a short ride.”

~He's right.  Thank your lucky stars he showed up, Ronson, or you and I were gonna go at it, and I guarantee you, I wouldn't be the loser.~

Slowly, the Prometheus lifted off, without a weapon being fired, and headed towards the wastelands.

====

Now in position over the Stargate, Jack, Sam, and Ashwan ringed down to the surface, where the chairman prepared himself to challenge Kalfas in front of his supporters.

“Prometheus, hold your fire until my signal,” Jack spoke quietly into his radio.

“Prometheus has your six, SG-1,” Ronson replied over the radio.

**Danny, are you okay?**

**We're all fine.  Are we going to get out of this?**

**One way or the other,** Jack replied confidently.

When Kalfas refused to release the hostages, the chairman began to address the soldiers, talking about the aliens being their long lost brethren and not their conquerors as Kalfas claimed.

Passionately, Ashwan pointed to the Stargate, saying, “Look at it.”  He paused for a moment as he took a few steps towards the object.  “This is where we came from.  This is who we are.  Our ancestors erased our history out of fear.”  Walking back to Kalfas, he continued, “And yet without our history, we cannot know who we are, or what we may someday become.  I will not make that same mistake.”  Approaching Kalfas, he stated, “I'm relieving you of your command.  You and your men will stand down.”  When the men hesitated, he raised his voice and reiterated strongly, “I said, lower your weapons!”

Finally, the men complied.

As he watched Kalfas being led away, Jack walked a few steps forward until he stood just behind and to the right of Ashwan and commented, “Didn't know you had that in ya.”

“Neither did I.”

Jack turned around and headed over to where the hostages were being released.

“Hurt?”

“It's kinda like the ribbon device,” Daniel responded, letting out a tiny grunt when the last of the binding was removed.  “Thank you,” he said to the Tagrean who freed him and was moving over to untie Teal'c's hands.  Facing his lover again, he added, “You get used to it after awhile.”

Jack smiled at the slight humor and nodded, his brown eyes focused on Daniel's blue ones.

“I'm okay.”

**I'll give you a physical later.**

**Make sure you do,** Daniel responded, bobbing his head up and down a few times.

“T, got yourself in trouble again, did ya?” the older man asked cheerfully as he walked over a couple steps to take on his teammate.

====

A short while later, SG-1 was ready to depart through the Stargate for Earth.

Addressing Ashwan, Sam spoke, “We'll be back in a few days with some equipment to repair our ship.”

“Until then, Colonel Ronson and his crew will be our honored guests.  I hope you'll join us at a state dinner upon your return.”

Sam smiled and headed for the DHD, where Daniel was talking with Tarek.

“Hey, thanks, Tarek.”

“No, thank you.  I hope you will soon return; there's much to learn about our history,” Tarek responded.

“Yeah, we can definitely help you out here, but I think you know more than most people on your planet.”  Looking at Sam, he said, “I have a feeling this guy's gonna be getting a bigger office soon.”

“Maybe we can see it at the state dinner, which I hope is better than the one we gave.”

“Better?” Daniel questioned curiously.

“Well, the ship's mess wasn't exactly stocked with state dinner cuisine,” Sam responded.

“Frozen dinners?” Daniel asked, seeing Sam nod.  ~I guess we forgot about that when we came up with the dinner idea.~  He looked over towards his lover, who was talking with Ashwan.  “Did Jack tell them?”

“What do you think?” Sam responded, still smiling, even as Daniel shook his head and let out a small groan.

--

Several yards away, Jack said, “It's been a pleasure, Sir.”

“I think our peoples can be friends,” Ashwan responded.

“Yeah, I think so, too,” Jack replied.

“Thank you, Colonel.”

Jack was about to ask 'for what', but he knew.  He'd given the man a small nudge, via a quick challenge.  He didn't need to verbalize the details to acknowledge it, and neither did Jack now.

“You're welcome.  Ah, next time, I'll bring the steaks,” Jack stated with a smile. He looked over at where his teammates were standing and called out, “Daniel, dial her up.”

With a final nod of acknowledgement to their hosts, SG-1 headed for home.

“You didn't?” Daniel asked as the team emerged through the event horizon.

“He likes steaks,” Jack said in defense of his promise.

“Colonel, welcome home, but didn't you leave here on a ship?” Hammond called out from the foot of the ramp.

“Yes, Sir,” Jack replied.  “May I suggest we debrief in the conference room?  We have some new friends to tell you about.”

====

“So much for a quick little shakedown,” Jack jested as he and Daniel walked inside the house.

“I like the Tagreans,” Daniel opined.

“Ashwan was an okay guy.  He'd lost his mojo for a while, but he's got it back now.”

Daniel chuckled, “You bonded with him.”

“Leaders have this trust thing sometimes.  He heard it in my voice; I saw it in his eyes.  We understood each other.  That doesn't always mean anything, but it did today,” Jack sighed, sitting down on his sofa and leaning back, happy to be in the comfort of his own home.  “Hey, come here.”

Daniel smiled and walked over, settling down next to his lover.

“Mmmm.  This feels so good, Jack,” the younger man said as he placed his head on Jack's shoulder and felt his lover's arm go around his shoulder.

“Yeah.  This is the life,” Jack agreed, placing a kiss on his Love's forehead and then leaning his head next to him.  “I could have lost you out there with that lunatic strutting around like a peacock.”

“He was just doing what he thought he had to,” Daniel replied.

“Please don't defend him.  He wasn't even trying to listen,” Jack responded.

“I know, but he was the only one, Jack.”

“He was the one who counted,” the colonel sighed, his left hand rubbing possessively against Daniel's upper arm.

“I wish we could go back.”

“We can, just not to repair the ship.  You have that seminar you need to focus on, and I get to go and try not to gag at Kinsey's politicking,” Jack groaned with a grimace about his upcoming trip.  “Carter and Teal'c will have to handle it without us.”

“SG-9 is going back with them.”

“How 'bout we go back on a follow-up in a few months?”

“Sounds good,” Daniel agreed.  Looking up at his life partner, he expounded on his desire to return to Tagrea.  “I just want to see how they're coming along once they start embracing their past.  I mean, uh, acknowledging one's history is the true path to a better future.”

Jack grinned at the hidden meaning in that statement, one that talked of Daniel's sad childhood and adolescence, but also of the present and future the two men shared together.

“I love you, Angel.”

“I love you, Jack, so darn much.  Um, I was thinking ...”

“Yeah?” Jack asked with hopeful eyes.

“Time for another shakedown and my ... physical!”

“Lead the way,” Jack responded, sharing a quick kiss and then following his lover upstairs to their bedroom.  The evening was young.  The soulmates had time for their intimate shakedown before enjoying a decent meal.  Jack also needed to run a couple of errands, including refueling his truck.  For now, though, he was simply loving his Love.  ~Oh, yeah.  This is definitely the life!~

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

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