Stuck in the Middle

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: 5 - April 11-13, 2002
Spoilers: Between Two Fires, Enigma (minor), Exodus (minor)
Written: February 27-28, March 12-13, 2021
Summary: Jack and Daniel negotiate with the Tollan for several ion cannons in exchange for Trinium, only when they find out what the Trinium is being used for, the world changes for everyone.
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?~

Stuck in the Middle
by Orrymain

"Ready to go?" Jack asked as he entered the living room shortly after seven in the morning.

Daniel turned around and couldn't help himself. He gave his lover a big kiss and then let out a sigh.

"Gawd, I wish I could rip these blues right off you now."

"Me, too," a lustful Jack replied. "What were you thinking about?"

"Omoc," Daniel answered. "We never knew him well, and I know how frustrating it's been to have the Tollan refuse to share their technology with us, but there was this moment, back when we first met them."

"Lots of ashes," Jack recalled about the original Tollan home world that succumbed to volcanic activity.

"Well, anyway, remember when Omoc and I sent the message to the Nox?"

"Yeah."

"There was one moment, when Omoc tried to get me to understand how the message could reach the Nox quickly and I thought I, I had it. I mean, I remembered learning about folding space in a physics class in college. I was so excited, but then his eyes lost that little spark of potential that he thought I might have possessed. Apparently, I was far off with my guess. He was disappointed. I guess that added to their belief that we're primitive."

"He never really gave us a chance."

"Maybe. Hey, we need to get going. Separate cars, remember!"

Daniel chuckled.

"No mocking the colonel."

"Who's mocking?"

Jack groaned, "If I'm lucky I'll be out of there by midnight."

"That's your deadline."

"I hate paperwork."

"General Hammond is well aware of that."

"I think I'm allergic to paper," Jack said as he drew his keys from his pocket.

"You're not allergic to paper. You have no problem reading a newspaper," Daniel said as he headed for the front door, "or the National Geographic ... or holding hockey tickets in your hands ... or airline tickets ... or ..."

"Okay, okay ... geez!" Jack groaned as he followed his Love outside and headed for Cheyenne Mountain.

====

Two hours later, SG-1 were on Tollana attending a funeral service for Omoc, a leader of the Tollan people who recently passed away. While Jack and Sam wore their Air Force uniforms, Daniel and Teal'c were attired in suits. Of notice to them was the small contingency of locals present. A quick count showed less than thirty people at the service, and that included SG-1 and some security people. Someone of Omoc's stature would logically have more people in attendance at their funeral.

"Though we should not mourn the passing of our friend Omoc, as much as we should celebrate his existence. He helped us through one of the greatest challenges in our people's recent history. His efforts contributed to the rebirth of our great nation as it stands today. He'll always be remembered," Narim spoke about his good friend.

After that, Chancellor Travell walked to a podium and ignited a flame.

"Very intimate," Jack remarked to Narim.

"Counselor Omoc was well aware that he had very few true friends. He was not concerned with trivial relationships. In his testament, he asked that his memorial be attended only by those whom he respected."

Daniel responded, "Uh, no offense, but what are we doing here?"

"He may not have shown you much warmth or affection, but I can tell you, Omoc had a great deal of reverence for all of you."

Travell interjected, "As do we all. Colonel O'Neill, please know that we have not dismissed what you have done over the past few years for the Tollan people."

"Don't mention it." With a great deal on insincerity, he added, "We appreciate everything you've done for us, too."

"If you are referring to our policy of not sharing our technology, I think renewing such a discussion would be better suited for another time and place."

"Really?"

Travell explained, "The Tollan Curia has recessed for a day of mourning out of respect for Omoc. Would you consider returning tomorrow to meet with me?"

The flagship team was stunned by Travell's invitation, and Narim was equally shocked, as he admitted while walking the team to the Stargate.

"The Chancellor seems to suggest the Tollan Curia may now be willing to share its technology," Teal'c remarked.

"I would seriously doubt that. She merely said they wish to discuss it with you," Narim responded.

"You think she'd invite us back here if things were status quo?" Daniel asked.

"I am not on the Curia. I really have no idea what she wishes to see you about." When the Stargate engaged, he expressed, "Have a safe trip home." When Sam walked by, he took her hand. "I hope I will have a chance to see you upon your return."

Narim motioned with a warning look in his eyes as he covertly put something in Sam's hand.

Understanding, Sam simply smiled and walked through the Stargate.

Once back at the SGC, the major called out to Jack and told him what just happened. It turned out that the object was a hologram that contained a warning.

"Samantha, I'm sorry I was unable to tell you this in person. I do not know who I can trust. Before his death, Omoc gave me a warning, and I believe it to be true. Earth is in grave danger."

Jack turned and saw Hammond in the control room.

"General," Jack called out. "We may have a situation."

"Thirty minutes," Hammond called out over the tannoy.

"Carter, keep that thing handy."

"Yes, Sir."

SG-1 left the gate room and headed for the locker room where they changed into their green BDUs. They grabbed a quick snack in the commissary before meeting with Hammond in the conference room at the designated time.

====

Hammond and the team discussed the funeral and Narim's message.

"Whatever he meant, I'd be willing to bet that Omoc's warning has something to do with what Travell wants to meet with us about," Sam stated.

"Agreed. Let's see what they have to say."

"Travell's meeting with the Curia is in the morning, so I recommend we go through at eleven-hundred hours," Jack stated.

"Why so early, Colonel?" the major general asked.

"Just ... look around, see if anything stands out as being ... more strange than Omoc's funeral was."

"They might not like that," Sam commented.

"Then we wait in Travell's office," Jack replied. "It can't hurt to see if we can learn anything before the meeting."

"Very well," Hammond agreed. "Dismissed."

====

With his daily tasks completed, Daniel returned to his apartment, while Jack stayed late at the Mountain to complete some paperwork that Hammond demanded be processed by midnight. The archaeologist changed into more leisurely clothing, made himself some coffee, and selected a book from his library to read. He leaned back on his sofa and simply relaxed.

Two hours later, the archaeologist had fallen asleep when he heard a loud, disruptive noise.

"Paperwork! I hate paperwork," Jack exclaimed loudly as he shoved open the front door and slammed it behind it. He walked over to his waking lover and sat down next to him. "Paperwork should be banned."

"Nothing would get done."

"Sure, it would. Word of mouth works."

"And allows for miscommunication, vagueness, ambiguity, differences in interpretation ..."

"Okay, okay," Jack sighed. He looked at Daniel. "Have I told you today that I love you?"

"No, you haven't."

"I love you, Danny."

"I love you, too, Jack."

The two men shared a few kisses before Jack remembered something.

"Daniel, you're door was unlocked."

"I knew you'd be coming."

"But I could have been someone else."

"But you weren't."

"Coulda' been."

"Jack, you don't even lock your own door half the time."

The other man sighed and admitted, "It was growing up in small town Minnesota, out in the middle of nowhere. It was a different era; safer." In reflection, he noted, "I always made Sara lock the door."

"Because you loved her."

"I love you."

"And that's probably why you go all door lock crazy."

"Probably, but I guess when it's just me, it's just ... four walls."

"Jack?"

"Huh?"

"Thank you for caring," Daniel spoke softly.

The lovers kissed which led to more exotic movements until they ended up in Daniel's bedroom where they loved the night away.

====

As scheduled, SG-1 returned to Tollana. They did look around a bit, but guards trailed them the entire way, so ultimately, they pretended to be curious about the architecture and people. A bit later, Sam and Teal'c separated from Jack and Daniel, who finally went to Travell's office where she was waiting for them at her elongated desk that featured a sophisticated computer and view screen system.

Standing, Travell greeted, "Colonel O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, thank you so much for returning."

"Well, thanks for having us," Jack responded.

"Are Major Carter and Teal'c not with you?"

Daniel answered, "They wanted to spend some time catching up with Narim."

"Of course. Shall we get down to business. The Curia met this morning as I indicated, and the topic was our policy of sharing technology with Earth. In an odd way, Colonel O'Neill, the unfortunate death of Omoc has proven to be advantageous for you."

"Well, then I guess I'm both sad and happy."

"You've often expressed a strong interest in obtaining some of our technology."

"You could say."

"In the past, the prevailing beliefs of the Curia have made any such arrangements impossible."

Daniel interjected, "I'm sorry. What does this have to do with Omoc's death?"

"Some members of the Curia have been slowly changing their point of view about our isolationist ways. Recently, the balance of the votes on these issues have been split. Omoc strongly supported the old ways."

"So, with his passing, those in favor now control the vote?" Daniel surmised.

"We would like to propose an exchange."

"Ah, the sound of the other shoe," Jack quipped as he lowered his head briefly.

"Please, Colonel. Have you ever known any political body to act solely without concern for its own needs?"

Jack became thoughtful, knew the answer, but didn't want to reply to it, so he simply questioned, "What do you want?"

"We originally chose this planet for our new home because of its natural supply of Trinium. However, our nation has grown much quicker than anyone anticipated, and the resources are becoming depleted."

Daniel responded, "Always a good reason to reassess your isolationist ways."

"As I said, Doctor Jackson, politics have common threads wherever you go."

"Okay, so you need Trinium. Why not go get some?" Jack questioned. He watched as Travell turned her back on him and walked away. To his lover, he asked, "What'd I say?"

"I don't know," the archaeologist returned, turning around, as did Jack, to see the woman up on the desk podium, lowering the lights.

"I have temporarily deactivated security in this room. Normally, everything is recorded, and I wish to speak confidentially without repercussions," Travell announced.

"Off the record?" Jack sought to verify.

"Yes. The truth is, Colonel, those counselors that oppose this arrangement still have strong voices among our people."

"So, the whole Trinium thing is just an excuse to save face publicly?" Jack put forward.

"We do need it, but as you suggested, we can get it elsewhere, if necessary."

"How much do you need?" Daniel questioned.

Travell requested, "Would you repeat that?" as she reactivated the system.

Daniel mouthed, "Now?" and saw the affirmative nod. Speaking loudly, he repeated, "How much do you need?"

Travell replied, "Our scientists will work out the specifics, but given that you now have an off-world Trinium mine, I am sure it's within your capabilities."

"Okay, uh, in exchange, we get ...?" Jack prodded.

"A Tollan ion cannon."

Amazed, Jack asked, "One of those big, honkin' space guns that shoots Goa'uld ships out of the sky?"

"Yes."

"Cool," Jack acknowledged. "Listen, I can't make that final decision. We need to get back to Earth and discuss it with my boss."

"Of course. Will you return today?" Travell asked with urgency.

"Ah, yeah, sure. Give us a couple of hours."

"Thank you."

Jack and Daniel left Travell's chambers and headed out of the building. On the way out, the colonel couldn't help but tease his archaeologist.

"You need help with your acting."

"Vocal coaching maybe."

"I'll check Variety," Jack teased.

Out of the building, Daniel asked, "Don't you think Travell is acting ..."

"... odd?" Jack suggested. "Yep, but Hammond's gonna want that cannon."

"You want that cannon," Daniel asserted. "I mean, uh, you haven't been that ... that ... well, *that* in a while."

"That's a huge honkin' gun, Danny, and, yes, I want to play with it." Jack continued walking alongside his soulmate. "But I'd rather play with you."

Daniel lowered his head in embarrassment and also smiled as he responded, "Maybe tonight."

"Now that's something to look forward to."

"And having one of those ion cannons at your disposal."

"There's that, too!"

====

While Jack and Daniel met with Travell, Sam and Teal'c met up Narim and began to stroll the area as they discussed the situation with Omoc and pondered the reason for the leader's apparent heart attack. They met up with Jack and Daniel who informed them about the deal with Travell that involved trading Trinium for an ion cannon.

"That's impossible! The Curia would never agree to that," Narim insisted, totally taken aback by the news.

"Well, apparently, Omoc was the swing vote," Daniel stated.

"But it goes against everything we've stood for!" the upset Tollan advised.

"Do you think this is what Omoc was so worried about?" Sam asked.

"Of course, it must have been. As you know, another world once destroyed themselves because we shared our technology with them. That's why we have so strongly resisted sharing what we know with more primitive societies."

"You know, we prefer 'less advanced', if you don't mind," Jack replied.

"My apologies. You know what I meant. If used the wrong way, this ion cannon could lead you to disaster."

"Well, we're headed back to SGC to seal the deal with General Hammond."

"I will see you here later then."

The team gated back to Earth to inform Hammond of the deal and get their next orders.

====

"Sir, I need to check something out," Sam stated as she walked down the ramp. "How long do I have before we meet with the general?"

"How's an hour?"

"I'll make it work."

Sam quickly walked away, while Jack headed to Hammond's office to finalize the briefing time.

====

Roughly seventy minutes later, SG-1 met with Hammond in the briefing room where Sam gave a presentation, announcing that she doubted they had the technology to backward engineer the ion cannons. In order to protect the entire planet, they'd need more than just one unit.

"How many do we need to set up a proper protective net around the entire planet?" Hammond inquired.

"Thirty-eight ... minimum," Sam answered.

In unison, Jack and Daniel echoed, "Thirty-eight?"

"To provide total global coverage? Yes, Sir, and that's not including back-ups," Sam verified.

Though everyone had doubts about moving forward, the decision was made to do just that. After the briefing ended, Hammond approached his 2IC before he could exit the room.

"Colonel, under the circumstances ..." the general began.

"If you are going to recommend, Sir, that I continue to be suspicious and skeptical ..."

"I wouldn't waste my time."

"Good thinking, Sir."

"Just remember this deal could change the course of our history," the base commander pointed out.

"So, don't blow it?"

"What you're sensing as trouble could be simple internal political wrangling."

Jack acknowledged, "I understand that."

"Or we could be walking into a minefield."

"Thank you, Sir. These little chats of ours always bring me great joy and serve to ease my mind," Jack said, walking away and exiting the conference room.

====

Not long thereafter, SG-1 again arrived on Tollana and met up with Narim, who was uneasy about the proposed trade. Jack and Daniel both tried to assure Narim that Earth wouldn't misuse the ion cannons, but he remained extremely concerned and hesitant.

Narim explained more of his worry, showing the team a device that monitors the Tollan people for health issues, thanks to a small implant they all have. He explained that he has the data about Omoc's device and despite the stress the man was under, Omoc was in perfect health. He also told them that health officers are immediately dispatched if something goes wrong and that the maximum arrival time to a person in need is five minutes; only in Omoc's case, it took the health officers ten minutes to reach him.

Nervously, anxiously, not wanting to believe it, Narim confided, "I believe Omoc may have been murdered."

====

Jack and Daniel left the others for their meeting with Travell and gave her a case of Trinium as a sample.

The Tollan leader explained the reason for wanting the mineral as, "Trinium is combined with a number of elements to create a compound that is used in various Tollan technologies."

"Do you people practice being vague?" Jack challenged.

"I will have this sample analyzed for purity. Then I will be able to give you the amounts we require for our exchange."

"Yeah, about that."

"Have you reconsidered?"

"No. No, no, no. We just don't feel one cannon is going to work," the colonel admitted.

Daniel expounded, "You see, one just doesn't go so far in protecting the entire planet."

"Yes, that was discussed by the Curia."

~It was?~ Daniel thought curiously. ~Why would the Curia be discussing how many of these ion cannons we need on Earth?~

"Well, we've come up with a solution you may not have considered," Jack said.

"Yes?"

"Give us more than ..." Jack began.

At the same time, Jack and Daniel completed, "... one."

Undaunted, Travell asked, "How many would you require?"

Daniel hesitantly began, "Mmm. Thirty ..."

"... eight," Jack spoke for his soulmate.

"Thirty-eight. Total," Daniel concluded.

"I see. Well, I understand your dilemma. Please, give me some time to present your request to the Curia."

When Travell walked away, Jack said, "That went ... well."

"Yeah. Thirty-eight ion cannons."

"We'll be in good shape."

"There's a catch, Jack. I don't know what it is, but ..."

"Yeah, I know," the older man agreed. "My gut is swirling all over the place." He looked around and suggested, "Let's take a walk."

====

The lovers walked around the area for several minutes when Jack looked back and sighed, "Still there."

"I guess they want to make sure we don't go anywhere they don't want us to," Daniel said about the two security personnel who were following them.

"Jack, something's not right here."

"Nothing new."

"I mean ..."

"I know what you mean, Danny. I heard what Travell said."

"About the Curia already discussing how many cannons we needed?" Daniel asked to ensure they were talking about the same thing.

"Yeah," Jack affirmed. "They stick themselves in a bubble, keeping their precious tech to themselves and one man dies and bam, they're willing to deal?" He shook his head. "Something's off, but Earth needs those cannons."

For a few minutes, the two strolled quietly side-by-side, occasionally discussing something about the planet's weather and the architectural design which actually reminded the archaeologist of a university outside of Vancouver, Canada that he'd once visited while attending an archaeology seminar during his college years.

"Maybe they stole their blueprints," Jack joked. Then he changed the subject. "Daniel, does Carter really like this guy?"

"Narim?" the scientist asked. "She doesn't really talk about it."

"She gives him goo-goo eyes."

Daniel lowered his head for a moment in contemplation and replied, "I wouldn't tell her that, if I were you."

"I have no intentions of telling her anything." Jack and his lover continued walking. "Who has the inside track, Narim or Martouf?"

"I think they're about the same. I mean, uh, she only sees either of them one, two, maybe three times a year, if that. It's hard to, uh, build anything on that."

"But she likes them both," Jack sighed. "My big brother comes out when those guys are around."

With a chuckle, Daniel returned, "Your ... big brother goes a little overboard most of the time, too."

"Yeah, well, she needs to be protected."

"I wouldn't tell her that, either."

"Don't plan to."

"I understand it," Daniel said. "I mean, she shuts herself off, acts stronger than she is ... when it comes to romance."

"My money's on Martouf," Jack stated.

"Yeah, mine, too," Daniel agreed.

Jack frowned as he found himself looking all around at the people.

"What's wrong?" Daniel inquired.

The colonel bemoaned, "Don't these people have a color palette?"

"Color palette?"

"Look around, ole observant one," Jack requested. "Everyone is wearing gray, black, or white. There's no blue or purple or orange or ... pink. It's all ... gray, gray, and more gray."

"Or gray, black, and white," Daniel mused. "It's just their way."

"Well, it's no wonder they're isolationist. Everyone else would think they're boring."

Daniel saw the colonel grimace and recognized the source of the expression.

"Are your knees hurting?"

"It's all this back and forth; haven't had a chance to rest 'em. I'm fine, Danny."

"That's my line," the archaeologist mused. "Let's go back and sit down while we wait for Chancellor Travell."

Jack nodded and turned around, coming face to face with the security guards who were still trailing them.

"About face, fellas. We're going back thataway," Jack told the Tollans. "Excuse me, 'cuse, 'cuse," he said as he brushed the two aside and walked right in between them, while Daniel tried to hide a smile as he followed.

The two chose a spot and sat adjacent to each other against a column.

"You think Narim's right about Omoc?" Daniel inquired.

"I think this thing smells worse and worse by the minute."

"Are you still willing to proceed?"

Jack answered, "Well, I think it's the only way we're going to find out what's really going on."

"The question is, how far do we go?"

"Well, all we know is that these people might be willing to part with some very powerful weapons. I have no problem with that."

"Oh, no surprise there," Daniel mused.

"At worse, some people disagree on some philosophical level that I don't even care to understand."

"Actually, worst, they killed someone to make sure this would happen."

"Now, see? That makes no sense to me," Jack returned.

"Exactly. So, we push on blindly then," Daniel surmised.

"Blindly, yes, but we still have our slightly heightened sense of smell."

At that moment, a guard approached the two, announcing that Travell was ready to see them again.

====

At Narim's home, Teal'c reviewed records of Curia meetings, while Sam and Narim began a search for information about ion cannons going back six months. Before they could get too far into that, Jack and Daniel arrived on Narim's doorstep.

"Hello?" Jack called out. To his Love, he asked, "You sure this is the right spot?"

Daniel affirmed, "The directions he gave said here."

"How do know this is Narim's house? They all look the same here."

A bit smugly, Daniel answered just after the door opened, "'Cause that's Narim."

"You're good," Jack complimented.

After Jack and Daniel mentioned the Curia agreed to their terms, Teal'c noticed something unusual in the records.

"Narim, Colonel O'Neill," the Jaffa called out. "This says that two months ago, there was an unscheduled test of Tollan ion cannons and that Omoc filed an official protest."

"Yes. I remember it well. We were supposed to have an evening meal together. Omoc was late. He was very angry when he arrived. He spent the entire time ranting about the unfairness of random testing on the Tollan people," Narim told the others.

"I don't understand. Why is this important?" Daniel queried.

"Well, we're looking for indications of Omoc's difference of opinion with the Curia," Sam said.

Narim discovered a disturbing discrepancy in the records. The official information indicated the meeting ended in the late afternoon, but Omoc came straight to Narim's after the meeting concluded. It was definitely in the evening when he arrived. This meant the records were altered, though Sam was skeptical.

"You don't understand our laws." Narim said. "For the highest members of our government to deceive the people, as strange as it may sound, it's an even more heinous crime than murder. It's unthinkable. At the time, I thought it was strange that Omoc would be so upset over an ion cannon test."

"So, there's slightly more to it than that, eh?" Jack surmised.

"If the Curia wanted to cover up details of this incident, why leave Omoc's protests on record?" Daniel pondered.

"Because an official protest of Tollan policy is filed with every level of every branch of the government. It would be impossible to erase it without a conspiracy of massive proportions reaching far outside the Curia."

"So, whatever happened in the time missing from these records, it could be why Omoc was killed."

"Okay, kids, it's getting late and we need to update Hammond," Jack announced. "We'll be back tomorrow," he told Narim.

====

That night, well after dinner, Jack found his soulmate on the roof deck of his country-style home.

"Whatcha' doin' out here?"

"Thinking," Daniel responded, quickly adding, "and don't say it, Jack. I know it's dangerous."

"And often invigorating," Jack noted, earning him a pleased expression from the archaeologist. "What's going on in that brain of yours?"

"Thirty-eight ion cannons for some Trinium," Daniel responded. "What do they want the Trinium for?"

"Who cares, as long as we get the big gun."

"I care, and so do you."

"I do?"

"Yes, you do."

"Thanks for telling me," Jack quipped.

"Look, Jack, we do have a responsibility to make sure the Trinium isn't used inappropriately."

"Who says?"

"I do," Daniel replied. "It's no different than the United States providing weapons, and who knows what else, to governments we shouldn't be, and we both know it happens because we want something that for some reason that country can provide. This isn't any different, except it's planetary."

"That doesn't mean we can stick our noses into their business."

"What happened to your sense of smell?"

"Yeah, my nose is smelling something rotten, but it can't hone in on it."

"Well, keep ... smelling." A moment passed and Daniel queried, "Who was on the phone?"

"Oh, crap, I almost forgot," Jack returned. "It was Mitzi Miller. She heard something outside; thinks it's a cat, but John's away ..."

Daniel smiled as he interjected, "So, you're going to play hero."

"I don't want her worrying, especially with kids in the house," Jack admitted. "Hey, why don't we say goodnight to the stars, go check out the cat in the bushes, and then relax the rest of the night away with a fire? We can talk about less serious stuff, like 'The Simpsons' and how I'm going to beat you in our next game of chess."

"You wish," Daniel retorted. "Maybe we could avoid all of the talk and just ... communicate in another way."

"I told you your thoughts could be invigorating," Jack said, kissing his love tenderly.

The couple checked out the Miller's homestead and found not one, but two stray felines making a home out of a bush in the front yard. Jack suggested Mitzi take the cats to a vet to see if they were chipped or not and perhaps turn them over to a no-kill shelter. When the lovers left the woman, the cats were happily lapping up a bowl of milk in the Miller kitchen.

====

As the day began, Jack and Sam wore their blue BDUs, while their teammates again wore green. As soon as the group checked in, a briefing was called. None of what was happening made sense to anyone, and not knowing how the Trinium was going to be used was disconcerting, so when Sam suggested tagging the first shipment with a barely detectable radioactive isotope, Hammond was all for it.

As the Trinium was being tracked, Narim's guilt for betraying his people grew.

"Warning you that your world is in danger is not the same as committing treason against my own government," the Tollan admitted.

"If your leaders are involved in something untoward and they committed murder to cover it up, what you're doing is not treason," Daniel put forth.

Sam then convinced Narim to help them get inside Travell's office and gain access to her computer.

"If there is a conspiracy, she's in on it," Daniel asserted.

Narim still didn't want to believe it, but Jack pushed him into realizing he'd started this whole mess by telling them anything.

"Your government is deceiving its people. You said yourself, that's the most heinous crime you can think of," Daniel argued.

Narim conceded his obligation and advised, "There is one chance. Only the highest ranking members of the Curia would have access codes to the security system in the building where Travell's office is located. Omoc was among them."

"Okay," Jack acknowledged after a bit more conversation occurred. "Daniel, Carter, go with Narim; check out Travell's office; see what you come up with. Teal'c and I'll track the Trinium." He looked at the Tollan. "Um, that's the thing that lets you go through walls, right?"

"Yes."

"Got a couple extra layin' around?"

"That would be a violation of ..."

"Good!" Jack interrupted as he continued to reel Narim into the fight. "How about weapons?"

"Colonel O'Neill ..."

"Just in case," Jack responded lightly.

====

Omoc's code worked, enabling Daniel, Sam, and Narim to secretly enter Travell's office where Narim quickly raised the view screens and began to probe for the desired information.

It didn't take long for the three to discover that the ion cannons recently fired in defense upon the Goa'uld, but were ineffective. Sam supposed the Goa'uld had improved shields to deflect the cannons. As the group considered what they were reading, they also found that the ship left the area peacefully, which defied logic.

Since there were no other communications about the event, Daniel concluded, "It must have been discussed off the record after that."

"Well, we know the ion cannons are useless if they won't defend against Goa'uld mother ships anymore," Sam stated.

"Which explains why Travell was willing to give us as many as we wanted," the archaeologist noted. ~Now it makes sense.~

The group turned their attention to the use of the Trinium. It didn't take long for Narim to find the disastrous answer.

"It's a weapon of mass destruction." He later advised, "Trinium is required to house any device that generates our phase-shift technology."

"Are you saying this bomb is being made so it can go through anything?" Daniel questioned.

"Theoretically, yes. Of course, that must be it. This weapon is intended to replace the ion cannon in defense of our planet."

"Sorry, Narim, that just doesn't add up," Sam refuted. "A Goa'uld would never drop by just so you could check out his new shield technology and then go away to give your people time to build a weapon to penetrate it."

"What else could have possibly happened?"

Just then, Travell and several security officers entered the room, stopping the trio from investigating further.

"What do you think you're doing, Narim?" Travell asked strongly.

Narim countered with equal force, "What do you think you are doing, Chancellor?"

"She is doing what she must to preserve your world."

~I didn't see that coming,~ Daniel thought as he stared at the new arrival, a familiar face to SG-1.

The comment came from Tanith, who was possibly Teal'c's most hated adversary, even more so than Apophis. The Goa'uld was thought to have died almost a year ago when the team created a supernova near Vorash which was once a home base of the Tok'ra. The blast caused the destruction of Apophis' fleet.

Narim accused, "You are in league with a Goa'uld!"

"His name is Tanith," Sam stated.

"Yeah, aren't you supposed to be dead?" Daniel asked. ~Not that that always means anything.~

"If you must know ..." Tanith began.

"I must."

"I had left Apophis's ship in an escape pod long before the sun exploded." He looked at Sam and continued, "Thank you, by the way. In destroying his fleet, you did me a great favor."

"It was nothing," Sam replied.

"How lovely it is to see you both here. I assume Teal'c must be around here somewhere."

"The others are being apprehended as we speak," Travell stated, though Jack and Teal'c were still free at the moment as they discovered several machines they knew nothing about.

"I am so looking forward to seeing him and Colonel O'Neill again," Tanith stated.

Narim asked Travell in disbelief, "How could you do this?"

"I have done nothing alone, Narim. The Curia is acting in the interest of Tollana," Travell claimed.

"You murdered Omoc!"

"Had we not done what we did, there would be no Tollana to speak of."

Tanith interjected, "And there won't be if you do not fulfill your promise, Chancellor."

"Rest assured, we will deliver as promised."

Narim argued, "You and the Curia are not in power to make such deals on behalf of the Tollan people. We would rather fight and die than trade our technology to the Goa'uld."

"I wonder if you would you be so quick to make that decision were you in my position."

At that point, Narim used the device on his arm to escape, while Tanith used the ribbon device on Sam and Daniel, causing them to fly backwards several feet and land on the hard floor.

~Gawd, this is tiring,~ Daniel sighed as his head throbbed.

====

On the run, Narim was suddenly pulled off the sidewalk by Jack and Teal'c. The Tollan told them about Tanith, which definitely aroused negative emotions in the Jaffa. He also told them about the destructive weapons the Trinium was being used for.

"They are explosives of great power that utilize the Tollan phase-shift technology. They will be able to penetrate any solid matter prior to detonation."

"Like an iris?" Jack asked.

"As you've witnessed before, I've used our technology to walk right through the barrier that protects your planet's Stargate," Narim answered.

~Crap! Dang it, Danny was right again.~

Eventually, Jack, Teal'c, and Narim came up with a plan, but it was a tough decision for Narim to make.

"Travell is right. It's not so easy when the fate of your planet is in your own hands."

"Narim ..."

"Look, the Goa'uld will attack Tollana if the delivery is not made. You are asking me to destroy my own world," Narim stated with some desperation in his voice.

"I am asking you not to sacrifice Earth and God knows how many other planets to save your own butt. I'm asking you to do the right thing, and you know it."

Narim did, and the plan was etched out.

====

In Travell's office, Sam and Daniel learned that Tanith was working for a new, unnamed master, but they had no idea who that was. The Goa'uld left, but it wasn't long before he contacted Travell again.

Though Travell was prepared to make the first shipment, a kink was thrown into the mix when Tanith advised, "Very well. However, before accepting, we will first require a demonstration of the technology to ensure that it works as expected."

"I assure you, it has been tested and each weapon is fully ..."

"You will activate one of these weapons and send it through your Stargate to the Tau'ri. You have thirty minutes."

"Now that's unexpected ... not," Daniel stated, seeing the surprised look on Travell's face. "You know exactly why you were building these devices and what they would be used for."

"You just didn't expect them to make you pull the trigger," Sam asserted.

"The Goa'uld have no choice. Earth is a protected planet. They can't do it themselves without having to deal with the Asgard," Daniel put forward.

"I had no choice, either."

"Yes, you did," Sam insisted.

The doors flung open, causing Sam and Daniel to turn and look back.

"Hi, kids!" Jack called out.

Daniel simply stared and mentally asked, ~You did get caught? I thought Travell was stalling.~

Jack walked forward a couple more steps to stand behind his seated archaeologist and responded with a shrug, **All part of a plan, Danny. Just wait for it."

A guard reported, "They were captured attempting to sabotage one of the weapons. They had this on them."

"Narim's heath implant. What have you done to him?" Travell questioned.

"Nothing. However, while these guys were chasing us ..."

"Narim was able to move freely," Teal'c said.

Suddenly, an ion cannon blasted one of the buildings and Travell ordered the guards to accompany her, leaving the team locked inside her office.

~There she goes, to protect her world and her own butt,~ Jack thought.

Seconds later, Narim walked through a wall and stated, "If they haven't already, the Goa'uld will soon realize that we no longer intend to honor our end of the bargain."

"Ah, hey, we should go!" Jack exclaimed as another explosion occurred nearby, causing the building he was in to shake.

The group went outside where Tollan citizens were either scrambling for cover or hoping to board ships in which to escape the apparent destruction of their world.

"You must hurry straight to the Stargate," Narim instructed.

"Aren't you coming with us?" Sam asked.

"My actions have forced my people to fight a battle we may very well lose. The least I can do is stay and fight with them."

"Thank you," Jack said in full sincerity while shaking Narim's hand. "Good luck."

Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c sprinted up the steps on their way to the Stargate, while Sam stayed behind for a moment.

"I hope this isn't goodbye," the blonde said.

"Go!" Narim ordered. ~Goodbye, Samantha.~

Sam hurried up the steps, took a look back at Narim, who gave her a final smile, and then joined her teammates for the hastened return to Earth.

====

Once down the ramp of the Stargate, Jack immediately headed for the major general's office while Teal'c headed for his quarters.

Daniel looked back at Sam and asked, "Are you okay?"

"Why wouldn't I be?"

"Sam."

"I don't know, Daniel. Do you think the Tollan can escape?"

"They might."

"Yeah, that's what I think,, too," Sam replied as she headed for her lab on Level 19.

Daniel sighed. He was hoping for the best, but without ion cannons, the Tollan had nothing to fight with against the powerful Goa'uld. Their only chance was to flee, and the odds weren't with them on doing so successfully.

====

Later in the day, the team met with Hammond in the briefing room where SG-1 brought the base commander up to speed on what occurred on Tollana during their last visit.

"So, we can reasonably assume the Goa'uld did not get any of these weapons," Hammond stated.

"We can only hope," Jack responded.

"What about these new shields?"

"The Goa'uld do not share technology," Teal'c reminded.

"Well, whoever Tanith is now working for, these new shields give him a decided advantage," Sam remarked.

"Teal'c? Any guesses who it might be?" the general asked.

"None, GeneralHammond."

"I suppose we have to rest assured that whoever it is, they are still afraid of confronting the Asgard or they would have attacked Earth themselves."

"For now," Daniel said.

The meeting was interrupted by the reception of a message via a long range communication device. It was from the Tollan.

Full of static, the message was from Narim and was missing its opening statement.

"... to get some people out. The Stargate was destroyed. All defenses failing. Our ships attempting to escape are being shot down. I just want you to know that ..."

"I'm sorry, Sir," Sergeant Davis said. " That's it. The transmission just died."

Sam looked away, fearing what the incomplete message said.

"Sam, why don't you go home?" Jack suggested.

"Yes, Sir. I think I will."

Sam left the control room, leaving Hammond to look at his 2IC with a question in his eyes.

The colonel looked at Hammond and explained, "They, Carter and Narim, were close, Sir."

"I see," Hammond replied. "Why don't you all go home? We can finish this tomorrow."

"Thank you, General," Daniel responded, walking out of the room.

====

A few minutes later, Daniel stopped by Sam's office and noticed his friend was inside, sitting perfectly still on a chair. He entered and closed the door behind him. Quietly, he approached the woman and sat down in a chair next to her.

"Sam? I thought you were going home."

"I am. I just ... I, um, I just needed to sit here for a minute," Sam stammered. "Daniel, what's wrong with me? Why can't I commit to anyone?"

"I think you're, uh, thinking more about Narim. The thing is, Sam, if you did get involved with Narim, or, uh ... someone else in a similar situation, you're talking one gigantic long distance relationship, and the truth is, Narim would never want to live on Earth, so you would have had to go to him."

"I know, and I can't do that, but I never told him how I felt, either."

Sam's head slowly moved to rest on the shoulder of the archaeologist. She let a few tears fall without trying to stop them.

"I'm really sorry, Sam, but you never know. I mean, we don't know he's dead."

"How could he have gotten way, especially when his message just cut off like that?"

"I don't know, but look at me," Daniel stated. "I've been known to ... die ... and come back."

Sam actually smiled as she replied, "You're one of a kind, Daniel."

"Thank you," Daniel acknowledged. "So are you."

The blonde drew a big breath and pulled away. She smiled in appreciation of the archaeologist.

"I'll be okay, Daniel."

"You sure?"

"Yes."

"Well, General Hammond gave all of us the rest of the day off, so we're going home in a few minutes. If you need us, Sam, you know where we are."

"Thanks, but I think I'm going to go home, take a long bubble bath, drink a lot of wine, and go to bed early, but ... if I need you, I'll call."

"Okay. Okay," Daniel said softly. He stood up and went to his door. "Remember, Sam, death isn't always ... death. We don't know for sure what happened to Narim."

"We know," Sam sighed. "Thanks, Daniel."

Daniel nodded and left the woman to her private grief.

====

Jack turned off the late-night news and looked outside, where he knew his lover was engaged in some sort of think fest. He went outside and sat down across from Daniel, who, per usual, was seated Indian-style while facing the house. He reached out and took his Love's hands in his, gently warming them.

"An entire race, Jack. A whole civilization gone, wiped out in, what, an hour or less?"

"We don't know for sure," Jack said. "I talked with Hammond earlier. Our allies have all been informed of what we know. The Asgard are sending a couple of ships to check for survivors."

"They won't find any. We both know that." Daniel smiled weakly as he confided, "Before we left the Mountain, I talked to Sam and I told her what you just said: we don't know. Maybe Narim escaped."

"And?"

"She didn't believe it, and, uh, to be honest, neither did I."

"We don't know, Danny. Yeah, they're most likely gone. The Goa'uld aren't kind in battle and they lost out on destroying us. I'm pretty confident they took their disappointment out on the Tollan."

"Think about it, Jack. Thousands of people, just going about their business. I mean, only a few people had any idea what was happening, so if you weren't on the Curia or weren't involved in their government, you were just doing what you did every day. Then, life is gone."

"Unfortunately, we've seen it before."

"What is it?" Daniel asked, sensing something in his soulmate.

"I'm the one who convinced Narim to help us," Jack pointed out.

"Narim." Daniel thought about the Tollan citizen they all knew the best and who had a clear affection for Sam. "I saw how you thanked him, Jack. It was, uh ... sincere, from your heart."

"It takes a lot to earn my respect, Danny, and I have to admit, Narim came through. I did the only thing I could do in seconds to communicate that to him." Jack let out a grunt-like sound. "He went against his government and lost his world, not to mention his life, and we're alive." With a sigh, he admitted, "I convinced him."

"And if you hadn't, we'd be dead," Daniel put forward. "Tanith would have found a way to send one of those devices through the Stargate to Earth. We wouldn't be here talking right now."

"And Earth would be nothing but debris floating around the solar system. I still wish they would have shared."

"I know how annoying it's been. Tollana had all kinds of advanced technology that could have helped us."

"Yeah, so share."

"Jack, they did, once, to Sarita, remember? They gave them a device with which they could have produced unlimited energy, but the Saritans used it as a weapon, destroyed themselves and the original Tollan home world. Are you going to tell me you can't understand why the Tollans would become isolationists as a result?"

"Maybe not, but we aren't the Saritans."

"Jack!" Daniel spoke sharply.

"Okay, maybe you're right."

"You know I'm right. You know what our government would do with any advanced technology. They'd use it as directed and then someone, probably rogue NID or someone like Kinsey, would take that technology and try to turn it into a weapon or something forceful to acquire whatever they wanted. It's essentially why the Stargate remains a secret."

"The evil will make the most good evil, if given the opportunity."

"Yes," Daniel agreed.

"I just can't stand being called primitive."

"To them, that's what we were," Daniel reminded. "Remember, too, that the very young do not always do as told."

"Did you have to bring that up?" Jack asked about the phrase that stuck with both men since meeting the Nox in an early mission through the Stargate.

"It's the same thing, Jack: primitive; young. The point is we aren't ready for the advanced technology or even to understand other ways of living. Jack, what's wrong with being young and having a lot to learn?"

"Nothing, I guess. Speaking of learning, sitting out in the cold can bring on a cold or flu. How about we go inside?"

"Okay. Let's make some hot chocolate before we go to bed and warm up a little."

"I can think of another way to warm up ... a lot."

"I'd like that, after the hot chocolate."

"You are so demanding, Doctor Jackson."

"Thank you."

Laughing, the lovers stood up and walked slowly inside the house and followed through with some steaming hot chocolate and an intense round of lovemaking before falling asleep.

Daniel would continue to mourn the Tollan, more than Jack, but the older man did have a heightened respect for the race after the recent events and discussing the situation with his life partner. Ultimately, there were no apparent survivors of the attack on Tollana and the universe would go on without them. Earth, however, was still present and though young and needing maturity, the human race did have the potential to grow. Time would tell how that would play out.

As for Jack and Daniel, they did their jobs and always tried their best. They didn't always succeed with alien worlds, but they sure did personally as their nation of two continued to grow on a daily basis. For Jack and Daniel of Colorado Springs, all either needed was the other and both had that.

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

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