The Man from Outer Space

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  4 - November 1-4, 2000
Spoilers:  Point of No Return
Size:  61kb
Written:  November 8-13,15,19,23, December 29-31, 2009
Summary:  SG-1 encounters Marty, the man from outer space.  He has his problems, but so does Jack, who is dealing with an angered Daniel.
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:  Claudia, Ali, Navi, Mama Bear, Irina!

The Man from Outer Space
by Orrymain

“Aren't you going to do something?” Daniel challenged his lover as they rode down the elevator.

“What can I do?” Jack asked with a shrug.

With his arms folded across his chest, a defensive pose which seemed as natural to him as breathing, the archaeologist asserted, “Well, you can try.”

“Daniel, I am trying.  I try every day, but I'm just another guy around here,” the colonel argued, looking to his right at the sound of the doors opening.

The couple walked swiftly toward the locker room, needing to change from their civvies to the uniform of the day.  Most of the time, the team was in complete synchronization on what colored attire to wear.  They rarely checked to see what was assigned; that's how in tune with one another they were.  It was rare to have any member of the team show up in an odd color, after which, they'd quietly disappear and quickly switch into the color of the day.

As Jack and Daniel walked, personnel gave way like the Red Sea.  It was obvious the two teammates were involved in another one of their famous disputes and no one wanted to become collateral damage by bumping into either man or even drawing the colonel's eye at the wrong time.  Some had already learned their lesson from previous experience.

“Try harder,” the younger man returned strongly.

“I'm doing all that I can,” Jack insisted.

“When?  In between conversations about the X-301?” the archaeologist chastised.  “That's all you can talk about these days.”

“What are you talking about?” Jack questioned, his own ire growing by the second.

“You don't really care, do you?” Daniel accused pointedly.

“About the X-301?  Of course, I do.”

“I'm not talking about that freakin' toy plane,” an annoyed Daniel returned.  “This is wrong, Jack, and you know it.”

Jack reached out to touch his lover's arm, but Daniel withdrew it and pulled away. Three oncoming airman made an about face, sensing danger was straight ahead.  They didn't care that by using an alternate route they would probably be late to their detail and could end up on report.  Report was a preferred option over being caught on Colonel Jack O'Neill's bad side.

“Look, Doctor Jackson, I can't control the political climate.  I can barely control my friggin' team,” Jack responded through clenched teeth.

“Fine.  Don't do anything, Colonel,” Daniel stated in feigned agreement, his tone as snarky and sarcastic as that other man's had been.  “But you watch.  This program is about to turn into nothing but a quest for weapons of mass destruction.  Now, I realize that's your thing, but I had thought by now that you also had an appreciation for other aspects of exploration.  Apparently, I was wrong.”

Daniel continued walking, leaving Jack groaning in the corridor with an increasing urge to pull his hair out.  Finally, he hurried to catch up, reaching his lover just as Daniel opened the door to the locker room.

“Daniel, you're blowing this out of proportion,” Jack complained.

“Maybe,” Daniel acknowledged as he extended out his hand to open his locker door.

“So, give a guy a break,” Jack requested while opening his own locker.

Then the two stared at each other.  For the first time in months, and maybe even longer than that, they'd pulled out different colored uniforms.  It felt symbolic of the distance which was currently separating them.

Seeing Daniel wasn't going to give in, Jack put back his blue jacket and pulled out the green to match his lover.

“Look, Daniel, you know I'm basically on your side with this,” the colonel claimed quietly as he changed into his BDUs.

“Basically?” Daniel questioned in disbelief.  “Jack, you saw the schedule.  All of our missions for the next six months are military in scope.  There's not a single cultural mission, nor is there one to a planet that is suspected to be full of ancient ruins.  It's all about technology and how much we can get and how fast.”

“I can't control that,” Jack contended.

“You're second in command here, Jack.  Like it or not, you have power.”

“Oh, come on,” the colonel argued, slamming his locker door.  “I don't set the mission schedule.”

Daniel blinked a couple of times and then replied, “No, no, I guess you don't.”

Closing his own locker, the unhappy archaeologist walked past his annoyed lover, leaving him in the quiet changing room.

Jack felt the chill.  It was icy, and he feared the ice wasn't going to thaw anytime soon.  What bothered him the most was that he was on Daniel's side, to a point.  Still, Earth was at war with the Goa'uld, and they needed the firepower and alien weapons just to stay even.  It was a nasty fact that right now the majority of missions for all SG teams were military in origin.  Except for SG-11 and SG-9, cultural and/or exploration missions were almost non-existent on the newly released schedule.

====

Later that morning, SG-1 was summoned to the briefing room for a reason that was unknown to them.

Jack and Daniel approached the room from opposite directions and the chill between them was obvious.

“Teal'c,” Jack greeted, following the Jaffa inside the room and sitting down at the long, rectangular table.

When Daniel entered, he walked over to stare through the glass at the Stargate, an object which continued to astound and amaze him.  He loved the Stargate and the possibilities that it held.  He hated that it was, in his mind, being abused by the changes that were occurring politically, changes that placed military interests at the forefront in determining how the Gate was used.

“Does anyone know what this meeting's all about?” Sam queried curiously as she walked to the table, a glass of freshly poured water in her hand.

“No, but I hope it's important.  I was right in the middle of translating that cuneiform tablet we found on P30-255,” Daniel responded as he went to the chair to the right of Sam and sat down, having retrieved a hot cup of coffee for himself.  ~Might be the last one I have a chance to work on for a while.~

“I still have to finish re-calibrating MALP 3K's sensors for long term reconnaissance on P5X-3D7,” Sam explained, also hoping to get back to her work soon.

“I was unable to complete my kelno'reem,” Teal'c added.

Looking up from his relaxed position on the table, Jack interjected, “I was just about to do something important.”

**Planning military strategy, right?** Daniel imputed via the couple's non-verbal communication, something that they didn't understand and which was growing more powerful by the month.

Jack didn't have time to respond since at that moment, General George Hammond entered the room from his office, carrying a tape player.

“All right, people, as you were,” Hammond stated as he sat down and started the meeting.  “We have ourselves a situation.  Early this morning at approximately 0400 hours the base switchboard received the following call.”

As the tape began playing, the caller's greeting of, “Hello, this is a message for Colonel Jack O’Neill,” immediately caught their attention.

Daniel saw Jack's rather pleased-looking smirk at being singled out by the caller and felt like throttling his lover.  The fact that the caller knew Jack highlighted the archaeologist's point that he had made earlier that morning.  The colonel did indeed have power and a reputation at the SGC that he could use to try to sway the political powers that be, if he wanted to.

The archaeologist returned his full attention to the caller, who was clearly a believer in government conspiracies like Roswell, Kennedy cover-ups, and government surveillance.  When he started talking about the Stargate by name, however, it was clear that the man was not the usual paranoid conspiracy theorist, but was potentially a serious threat to the SGC.

Half an hour later, with orders to find out who the caller was and who he had been talking to, SG-1 was en route to Billings, Montana, where the man had said he wanted to meet.  Leaving immediately gave them almost a full day to set up and prepare for the meet.

====

Most of the short plane flight to Billings was spent discussing the setup of the meet.

“We'll need to see the layout of the restaurant tonight,” Sam opined.  “I'm sure it won't take much to place a couple of long-range microphones so we can pick up the conversation.”

“We need someone on the inside,” Jack stated.  “T, you like to cook?”

“There are many Chulakian delicacies which my family does not complain about,” the Jaffa responded flatly.

“Close enough,” Jack replied.  “Daniel ...”

“Oh, I'll go with Sam, of course.  After all, that's where an archaeologist belongs, on a stakeout, eavesdropping on people.”

~Ooooookay.  Trouble.~  Sam's eyes slowly left her friend and went straight to Teal'c, who was staring straight ahead, avoiding both Jack's and Daniel's gazes. “Thank you, Daniel.  I can use the help.”

“Right.  Just tell me what button to press,” Daniel snarked.

“Now that that's settled,” Jack sighed, looking off to the left and shaking his head.

~Settled?~ Sam queried dubiously.  ~I have a hunch it's only just begun.~

====

Leaving the airport, an airman drove an Air Force vehicle towards the Sleep-Rite Motel where SG-1 had their reservations.  Following close behind, Jack, with Teal'c as his passenger, drove an unmarked sedan.  Behind them, an airman drove Sam and Daniel in the surveillance van that was full of all kinds of technical sound and video equipment.  Both were in the back of the vehicle.  Sam was doing a quick check of the equipment with Daniel simply sitting and watching her.

“Daniel is everything okay?” the blonde asked quietly.

“Yeah, fine.  This should be lots of fun,” the archaeologist opined, never averting his eyes from his clasped hands.

“Lots of fun,” Sam agreed.  ~I hate it when they fight for real.~

====

“Thank you, Airmen.  Be back here at 0900 hours tomorrow,” Jack ordered.

“Uh, keys,” Sam requested, nodding as she took possession of the van's keys.

“Stay here,” Jack ordered his team after the two airmen had departed the area.  “I'll check us in.”

The team remained outside as their commanding officer entered the office of the rather mediocre roadside motel.  It wasn't unusual for Jack to check in the team and since he wasn't even looking at his life partner, Daniel missed the calculating look that entered Jack's eyes.

“Yes, Colonel, we've been expecting you,” the clerk stated, handing over the keys to the four rooms.

“Thank you,” Jack replied as he handed over the Air Force purchase order that would pay for the teams' rooms and meals.  He turned around and headed for the door, stopping short to observe his team for a moment.  Covertly, he slipped one key into his pocket and then exited the office.  Rejoining the others, he sighed dramatically, “Bad news.  They only have three rooms.”

Sam looked around at the vacant area and thought that was odd.

When the major looked back at Jack, he shrugged and claimed, “Convention, or something.”  Holding out one key, he said expectantly, “Carter.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Jack reached out to hand Teal'c the other room key, intending for Daniel to room with him.

Daniel, however, realized Jack's plan and snatched the key right out of his lover's hand while stating, “Thank you.  I think I'll get settled in.  Sam, what time do you want to go by the restaurant?”

“Hey!” Jack objected, angered at having Daniel overstepping his boundaries.  Aware he couldn't fight the issue, however, he answered on behalf of his 2IC.  “We'll go in an hour.”

“Fine.”

“I guess you're with me, T,” Jack responded, trying to be as upbeat as he could, considering that his plans to make up with his Heart had just plummeted to a depth lower than the deepest ocean.  ~Dang it!  Can this get any worse?~

====

That afternoon SG-1 cased the New Clover Leaf restaurant where Jack was to meet the mystery caller the next morning.  Sam knew she wouldn't have any problems bugging the place.  The restaurant was moderate size and in a fairly basic design.  She determined where Jack should sit.  They also met with the owner, who had already been contacted by the Air Force and was more than happy to do what he could for his country.  As such, Teal'c was given appropriate chef attire and a brief lesson on how to behave as a counter cook.

The team decided not to place the bugs until the next morning.  Since the listening devices were small and unobtrusive, they could be put in place in a mere second and the less time they were there, the less chance there was of discovery. Thus it was agreed that Teal'c would place the bugs in position when he began his shift.

Though hungry, the teammates decided it would be best not to eat at the restaurant in case the man they were to meet observed them, so they found a pizza place to dine at before returning to the motel.

====

“O'Neill, what are these?”

“Vibrators,” Jack answered.  Reaching inside his pocket, he pulled out a quarter and said, “Here.  Knock yourself out.”  As Teal'c prepared to test out the bed vibrators, the colonel took a breath and said, “I think I'll take a walk.”

Teal'c was too busy enjoying the shaking bed to reply, so Jack walked outside and headed for Daniel's room.  He began to plot out what he would say, but a sign on the door threw a big time wrench in his plans.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack whined, seeing the 'Do Not Disturb' sign.  He tapped on the door and whispered, “Daniel?  Daniel, don't be a ...”

“Sir, is everything okay?” Sam asked, happening upon her CO and regretting that she had decided to get a breath of fresh air herself.

“Just peachy, Carter.  Just peachy,” Jack snapped as he headed away from the motel.  ~Gonna take a nice, long walk, and then a nice, long and very cold shower.~

~Bad timing, Samantha,~ Sam told herself as she took refuge inside her motel room and decided not to venture outside again until the next morning.

====

The next morning, the man who had made the phone call to Cheyenne Mountain appeared at the New Clover Leaf Restaurant.  He was an average size man with brown hair and hazel eyes.  He wore glasses and although he appeared and sounded meek, he was actually very assertive.

~Okay, he's paranoid,~ Jack observed from the man's constant looking around and remarks about having been followed.

“You can call me Martin,” the man announced, just before he requested that Jack stand up so that he could be scanned for transmitters.

~*Very* paranoid,~ Jack thought as he stood up and made a slow three-sixty turn.  ~I could be doing other things, like getting that geek of mine to listen to common sense.~

--

“Good thing we didn't put a bug on the colonel,” Sam stated from inside the surveillance van as she watched her CO being scanned.  She looked over at Daniel, who seemed indifferent to the situation.  ~Okay, I'll talk to myself,~ she decided as she worked on acquiring a good image of Martin to submit to the database.  Once set, she announced, “Okay, here we go.  If he's got a driver's license, we should be able to find him.”

Holding a cup of coffee as he stood on Sam's right, Daniel off-handedly remarked, “You know, I've never been on a, a stakeout before.  Shouldn't we have like, like ... donuts or something?”

Sam looked up at her friend, surprised.  His somewhat flippant, though a bit lighthearted, comment reminded her that things were not well between Jack and Daniel.  She was aware of their romance, but was also a little jealous of them since in the deep recesses of her mind, she had at one time or the other imagined herself romantically involved with each of her teammates, Teal'c included.  Those thoughts were always quickly dispensed with and essentially ordered back inside the blonde's well-trained mind.

At the same time, Sam knew that Jack and Daniel had found some comfort with each other, and as a result, her world was much more peaceful, except for times like this when they were arguing and obviously unhappy.

~I hope the colonel and Daniel resolve whatever issue they have at the moment because I will not be held accountable for locking these two in a closet until they play nice.~  Sam sighed.  ~If I didn't think I'd end up freezing my bum off in Antarctica, I might just do that.  A day locked in a closet might just do the trick.~  She sighed again.  ~No guts, Samantha:  no guts.~

--

Inside the restaurant, Jack decided to admit that there was a Stargate program.

“I knew it,” Martin replied, excited until Jack spoke again.

“But it has nothing to do with space travel.”

“What does it have to do with?” Martin asked, not believing his theory could be wrong.

Jack leaned forward to convey an impression of secrecy and said seriously, “Magnets!”

Martin’s confusion swiftly turned to realization that Jack wasn't taking him seriously and he started to panic.

“I have to go through the Stargate!”

Jack resisted the temptation to roll his eyes and responded, “Marty I told ...”

“No, I mean it,” Martin interrupted anxiously.  “I've come to realize that I don't belong here.  For the longest time I was obsessed with all those alien conspiracies: crop circles, cow mutilations, the Apollo cover-up.”

“I thought the lunar landings were a hoax,” Jack returned facetiously.

“No!  That was a story created by the government to direct attention from the real cover-up.  Everybody knows that,” Martin stated with conviction.

Jack nodded and, as he pretended to listen to Martin, began to plot ways of getting his archaeologist back on side.  In his opinion, this was one of the most boring meetings he had this year.

“Anyway, one day I'm online and I find this conspiracy chat room, and they're talking about something called the Stargate.  Most of it was disinformation, but the word 'Stargate' stuck in my head.  It triggered what I later realized was a suppressed memory.  You see, Colonel O'Neill, the truth is I'm not just interested in outer space.  I'm from outer space.”

~Okay, he's not boring.  He's just a nut.~  Jack stared incredulously at Martin for a moment; then turned his head back to look behind him where the waitress was standing.  “Check, please.”

--

Inside the van, Sam was having more luck as the database located a potential match for the image that had been fed into it.

“We've got something.  That's him: Martin Lloyd, brown hair, hazel eyes.  Looks like he's got a criminal record.  He was arrested for protesting outside a TV station.  He claims subliminal advertising was controlling his thoughts.”

Daniel simply took in what Sam had just reported, but his mind wandered off in another direction as he thought, ~Subliminal advertising is proven.  Maybe that's what the government is using on Jack to make him act like a donkey's butt.~

--

“I can give you proof.  I can show you my ship,” Martin claimed as he continued to try to get Jack on his side.

Having had about all he could take of Martin's rambling, which was in fact a eerily accurate account of Stargate use, Jack prepared to pay the bill.

“Look, Marty, I'm a busy man, and you don't strike me as any great threat to national security ...”  The colonel read the bill and groaned inwardly at the instruction written on it for him to stall the delusional man since his address had been discovered.  Reluctantly, he acquiesced, “But, as you know, it never hurts to be thorough, so, show me.”

Martin was thrilled.  Now all he had to do was actually find the ship.  Excitedly, he got up out of the booth and headed for the door.

Rolling his eyes as he stood, Jack groused, ~This is gonna be a friggin' waste of daylight.~

====

As the three teammates reached Martin's house, Daniel thought, ~Oh, good.  Time to be a detective, or is it a spy?~

“This is it,” Sam stated.

“Nice place,” Daniel observed.  ~Maybe I should enroll in a private detective course.  I'm sure they have those online.~

For the next few minutes, the team explored the inside of Martin Lloyd's home, discovering some interesting items, including a rubber alien who looked a lot like Thor.  Daniel also located a cupboard full of drugs, including tranquilizers, antidepressants, and anti-psychotics.  Then he picked up Martin's diary, which revealed just how paranoid Martin Lloyd really was.

====

After a wasted afternoon fruitlessly searching the woods for a spaceship that Jack was sure existed only in Martin's mind, SG-1's leader was relieved to finally rejoin his teammates.

“It was a total waste of effort; this guy is bonko, berserk ...”

“We get the idea, Jack,” Daniel interrupted.

“There was no ship out there,” Jack stated.

“Don't you think you're being a little closed minded about all of this?” Daniel challenged, looking pointedly at his lover.

Jack returned the stare and returned, “No, Daniel, I don't.  Some drugged out nut calls the Mountain and claims he's a little man from outer space.  I call that crazy.”

“I'll tell Thor you said that,” Daniel retaliated.

Sam backed away from the not-so-friendly banter, pursing her lips as she walked over towards Teal'c.  She wished she could leave the room, but they were waiting on the report from a local lab about the drugs they'd found in Martin's home.

“Good one,” Jack snarked.  “We're wasting our time.”

“Like we do on archaeological and cultural missions?”

“I never said that,” Jack quickly refuted while wondering how this conversation had gone downhill so fast.

“O'Neill, DanielJackson,” Teal'c interrupted commandingly.  “Would it not be prudent to forego this discussion and focus on Martin Lloyd?”

“Focusing on Marty doesn't take a lot of brain power,” Jack replied sarcastically. “But you are right about this discussion being tabled.  Let's eat.”

“That's your answer for everything, isn't it?” Daniel charged in frustration.

“Daniel ...”

“Never mind.  You guys go on without me,” the archaeologist snapped.  “I'm not hungry.”

As Daniel closed the door behind him, Jack sighed, “Dang scientists.”  He looked at Sam and added, “Present company excluded, for the moment.”

Sam smiled in response and then reminded, “Sir, I'm waiting for the lab results.”

“Call them; tell them to call the Mountain with the results.  Let's go,” the colonel insisted as he led his two team members to the car.

====

After dinner, Jack knocked on Daniel's door, ignoring the 'Do Not Disturb' sign which was once again hanging on the doorknob.

“Doctor Jackson, this is Colonel O'Neill, *your* commanding officer, and I'm ordering you to open this door.”

A second later, Daniel opened the door and snarked, “I don't do orders, especially yours.”

Shoving a bag of Chinese takeout into his archaeologist's chest, Jack spat, “You'll take this one -- eat!”

Without preamble, Jack turned on his heels and walked back down the open hallway.

Stunned and gaping, Daniel took a firmer hold of the large bag and watched as his estranged soulmate returned to his room just two doors down.  He stared at the bag, getting a whiff of the food aromas, recognizing them as being several of his favorite Chinese foods.

Still angry, but touched by the gesture nevertheless, Daniel sighed and strode slowly to Jack's room, where he tapped lightly on the door three times.

Jack opened the door, surprised yet hopeful to see Daniel standing there.

“Thank you,” Daniel stated politely.

Briefly, cerulean blue eyes gazed into chocolate brown ones in longing, but before Jack could utter a word in response, Daniel turned and sped back to his room.

====

Though Daniel had appreciated the food delivery of the night before, the next morning, he still couldn't let go of his ire about the new mission schedule.  While part of him knew Jack wasn't responsible, it was Jack who was here and close by. It was Jack with whom Daniel could vent, and that's what he was doing, though he didn't fully recognize that yet.

As the lovers were involved in yet another spat over the pros and cons of a military mandate taking precedent over all else with the Stargate, Jack's cell phone rang.  Sam and Teal'c were relieved for the interruption, neither one of them wanting to be caught up in the crossfire between their teammates and yet not knowing how to avoid it while essentially confined in the small motel room.

“I hate these things,” the colonel whined as he flipped open the phone, almost dropping the small contraption.  “O'Neill.”

The caller was General Hammond, who informed his 2IC that the preliminary analysis of the drugs taken from Martin's home had shown some anomalies in that several unidentifiable chemicals were present in them.  In Janet's opinion the drugs had been tampered with.

“So, we need to check out Marty's shrink, this Tanner guy,” Jack advised his team.

“Sam and I can do that,” Daniel volunteered.  “It's right up my alley.”

“Your alley?” Jack questioned sarcastically.

“Daniel Jackson, Private Eye,” Daniel retorted.  “Keys?”  When Jack just stared, he stated, “You want us to show up at a psychiatrist's office driving a surveillance van?”

Jack groaned, but reached into his pocket to hand Daniel the keys.

“I'm sure if you need transportation, you can have the base bring you a car.  Tell them you need it to secure firearms.  They'll understand that,” the archaeologist quipped with plenty of his own sarcasm.

Sam made an 'oh' expression.  She'd never really heard Daniel be this snarky and sarcastic on an ongoing basis.  However, she was beginning to understand the crux of the argument.  She'd seen the mission schedule, too.  It was huge on weapons and technology acquisition and low, as in nil, on scientific missions.  Things were in focus for her now.

~No wonder these guys have been going at it like cats and dogs.~

As quietly as possible, the major followed Daniel outside, ignoring the slam of the door behind them.

“O'Neill, you are upset.”

“I liked that car,” Jack whined in explanation, heading for the phone to order another vehicle from the Air Force.

====

After calling to make an appointment with the psychiatrist, Doctor Peter Tanner, Daniel and Sam headed for the man's office.

“Sam, I'm sorry,” Daniel sighed after a few minutes of driving in silence.

“You're upset about the mission schedule.”

“I shouldn't be, and I shouldn't blame Jack, either,” Daniel admitted.  “When did things change?  I mean, uh, one minute we were exploring the galaxy and now we're just trying to raid it for guns.”

“The Pentagon is afraid of the Goa'uld, and they have a point, Daniel.  We have to be able to defend ourselves,” Sam put forth strongly.  “Look, I'm a scientist, too.  You know I understand how you feel.  I'm as frustrated as you are, but we have to keep Earth secure.”

“But trying to find bigger and better guns won't accomplish that; at least, not for long.  There will always be someone else with bigger and better technology.  The Pentagon is overreacting,” Daniel opined, turning the corner as he continued onward towards their destination.

“I'm not sure,” the blonde replied warily.

“The Replicators,” the archaeologist mumbled.

“What?”

“That's when our direction changed.  The Replicators made it to Earth,” Daniel pointed out.  He glanced at Sam and theorized, “That's what they're afraid of Sam, the unknown, and the Replicators are the unknown.  We've been fighting the Goa'uld for years.  They're used to that.”  He sighed and reiterated, “It was the Replicators.”

Sam stared out the passenger window and pondered the situation, not really sure what to think.  She was split, her desires as a scientist versus her military rationale.  At this point in time, she wasn't sure where she should draw the line.

====

“Of course, you understand that doctor/patient privilege prohibits me from discussing the case history of my clients,” Doctor Tanner told Daniel and Sam as they sat in his office.

“This is a matter of national security, Doctor Tanner.  That privilege doesn't exist in this case,” Sam returned strongly.

Doctor Tanner looked bemused at the major's statement and replied, “National security involving Martin?  I find that hard to believe.”

~I wonder how involved the good doctor really is in all this.  Whatever ‘this’ is.~ Daniel thought.  “Why do you say that?”

“Let's put it this way,” Tanner began.  “People like Martin sometimes compensate for their feelings of insignificance by creating elaborate fantasies in which they are the center and focus of all attention.  These people are usually harmless, although often they try and draw others into their delusions.  That's what's happened here.”

~Sounds good, but I'm thinking there's more to it,~ Daniel thought silently.  “Doctor Tanner, it may be true that Martin is delusional, but there are still some unanswered questions here.”

“Such as?”

“Well, he seems to be taking a lot of medication,” Daniel answered.

“Not more than necessary,” Tanner claimed.

The comment prompted Sam to look at the paper she had in her possession.  She began to read a long list of prescription drugs that had been found in Martin's apartment.

“Major, please,” Tanner interrupted after hearing several drugs from Sam's list.  “I don't have time to discuss the benefits of psycho-pharmacology.  This interview is over.”

Though Tanner stood up, Sam stopped him short by stating, “Doctor Tanner, we obtained samples of Martin's medication and ran an analysis; apparently, the drugs have been laced with some indeterminate chemicals.”

“Well, that's absurd!” Tanner objected.  “There must be some kind of mistake,” he insisted with a stunned and shocked look.

~Either he's a very good actor or he really doesn't know what is going on.~

While Daniel wondered which it was, Sam calmed the doctor and eventually managed to get him to hand over Martin's work address, which he claimed was the best he could do to help them.

“Are you buying that?” Daniel queried as he and Sam walked to the car.

“No,” Sam answered.  “I think he knows more than he's telling us, but at least this is a start.”

====

Meanwhile, at the motel, Jack had taken possession of another unmarked Air Force vehicle and had also cashed in some dollar bills for quarters.  Apparently, Teal'c had a real affection for the bed vibrators.  Jack chose not to question it and just to dole out the quarters whenever he was asked for them.

With Teal'c occupied on the shake and bake bed, Jack enjoyed one of his favorite science fiction films on TV, “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”  That  is, he did until he heard a nervous sounding Martin Lloyd knocking on his door.

~Not in the middle of my movie,~ the colonel groaned to himself.  Turning it off, he went to the door, though he didn't open it.  “Martin?”

“Please, I have to see you,” Martin called out frantically through the door.

Before opening the door, Jack threw the Jaffa a hat to cover his forehead tattoo.

“Oh, it's so good you're here.  You have no idea what's ... Who's he?” Martin asked about the stranger on the vibrating bed.

“Um ... my friend ... Murray,” Jack answered.  ~Murray's a good name.  There's Murray Slaughter, Bill Murray, Anne Murray, Murray Povich.  No, wait, that's Maury.~

“You trust him?” Martin asked, interrupting Jack's mental list of famous Murrays, real and fictional.

“Oh, yeah!” Jack exclaimed.  ~Good thing you didn't ask if I trust you.~

Apparently, Martin was paranoid enough to have rigged things like toothpicks against doors and hairs on window sills so that he would know if anyone had ever been inside his home.  He was panicked as he showed Jack the fallen toothpick which proved his home had been invaded.

Jack couldn't share the man's anxiety as he knew perfectly well who had been inside the home.  Of course, he couldn't tell Martin that.

Desperate to use the Stargate to get home, Martin's agitation kept rising until eventually he pulled out his pills, intending to take some in order to settle down.

“Let me see those,” Jack stated, taking the pills from Martin's hands.  He glanced at the label and advised, “You should go easy on this.”

“But ...”

“Just for a while,” Jack stated.  “Trust me.”

“What about the symbols?” Martin inquired, holding out a piece of paper that he'd taken out of his pocket at the same time that he'd retrieved the bottle of pills.

“What symbols?” Jack queried.  ~Geez, what is he talking about now?~

“It's one of the things I see in the flashes; there's seven of them.  I wrote them down,” Martin revealed, handing the paper over to Jack.

A bit alarmed, Jack showed the paper to Teal'c as he thought, ~Holy spaceman, it's a Gate address.  Maybe Marty does know something of interest after all.~

====

“I have a bad feeling about this,” Daniel commented as he parked the car.

Sam looked around and agreed, “Not many cars around for a warehouse.”

The teammates exited the vehicle and headed inside, immediately noticing how empty the building was.  It certainly didn't look like anyone worked there, now or in the recent past.  Then gunmen entered, and the teammates realized they'd been set up.

“Shoulda followed my hunch,” Daniel lamented as the armed men motioned for him to take a seat in a chair.

Sam just nodded, her hands still held high into the air as the unknown gunmen continued to point their weapons at the two teammates.

====

~Answer the dang phone, will ya?~  Back at the motel, Jack slammed the flip phone harder than he should have.  “Daniel's not answering his phone.”

“Perhaps he and MajorCarter are preoccupied with their spying,” Teal'c stated mockingly.

“They aren't spying ... Murray,” Jack refuted, glancing over at Martin who was pacing the floor anxiously.  “I'll try Carter.”

“This is totally unfair,” Martin began ranting.  “Just cause I'm from another planet, I don't have rights?  I mean, doesn't the Geneva Convention cover extraterrestrials?  I have to remember to go online and look that up.”

Closing his phone, Jack reported, “Carter's not answering her phone.”

“Should they not have contacted us by now?” Teal'c questioned, no longer playing a game with his commanding officer.

Glancing at his watch, Jack acknowledged, “Yep.”  He couldn't help but think about his unresponsive teammates.  ~I have a bad feeling about this.~

The next couple of minutes were extremely frustrating for Jack.  Trying to get information out of Martin was hopeless, especially when he started talking about a secret government that had put an implant in his head.  It would have been an irritating conversation at the best of times, but given that Jack was worried about his lover, his patience was at an all time low.  He knew that angry or not, Daniel would never miss a check-in.

“All right.  This is goin' no where,” Jack quietly told Teal'c.  “I'm gonna go look for Carter and Daniel.”  Handing over the bottle of pills he'd taken from Martin to the Jaffa, Jack directed, “Keep an eye on him.”

====

At the warehouse, Daniel and Sam were tied to chairs and in the middle of being questioned about who they were and what they were doing at Martin's house.  While the two had given their names and admitted to being part of the Air Force, they'd responded to all the other questions by playing dumb and claiming the answers were ‘classified.’

Both teammates had wondered whether their interrogators were NID, CIA, or part of some other government branch, but when the questions turned to Teal’c that seemed unlikely.  Anyone working with any part of the government associated with Stargate Command, even a rogue part, would know about Teal'c.  Instead, these men appeared baffled by the thermal scan they had which showed the Jaffa's symbiote.

“Oh ... that's very good,” Daniel praised mockingly.  “Did you draw that yourself?” he asked while looking at the image.  ~This would be kind of fun if it weren't for the fact that they have guns and we're tied to chairs.  Of course, if I were tied to Jack ...~

Unaware of her friend's sudden launch into more primal areas, Sam peered at the image blankly and queried, “What is it?”

“That's a ... that's a duck, isn't it?” Daniel suggested sarcastically.

At that moment another man came in, whispered to the man with the laptop, who then slammed it shut.  After that, all of the gunmen walked out of the room.

“We'll just wait here,” Daniel stated dryly at the men's departure.

====

Nearly a half-hour passed as the friends pondered their situation in silence.

“I don't get this,” a confused Sam finally admitted.  “These guys know what a symbiote is, but if they were really NID, they'd know that Teal'c isn't a security threat.”

“I don't know,” Daniel sighed uncertainly.  “That's why I hate working for the government.  Every department has its own agenda, its own little ...secrets.”

“Very true, Doctor Jackson,” a familiar voice called out.

The teammates twisted around and saw Doctor Tanner entering the warehouse. From the reactions of the others, Tanner was clearly the leader.

“Oh!  Yeah; yep; didn't see that one coming,” Daniel quipped as Tanner approached and placed a leather bag onto the table.

Tanner quickly made it clear that he wanted information and he wanted it now.  To make his point, he displayed various items of torture on the table in front of Daniel and Sam.

~That's original, not,~ Daniel thought.  “You're not a real doctor, are you?”

Fortunately for Daniel and Sam, before Tanner could start torturing them, one of his men informed him that their ‘experiment’, whatever that was, had been discovered.  Changing his original plan, Tanner injected the two teammates with some kind of drug.

“I'm a ... a little tired anyway,” Sam spoke groggily as she felt herself slowly sliding towards unconsciousness.  She really hoped that they had just been given a sedative of some kind.  ~I still haven't found Mister Right.~

“I just hope we wake up,” an uncertain Daniel replied as his head dropped.  He didn't think it would work, but just in case, he tried to communicate with his Heart in the hope the colonel could find the teammates in time.  **Please.  Jack, help ...**

====

While Daniel and Sam were being interrogated, Jack made his way to Tanner's office only to discover it empty and devoid of any furniture or contents.  Other than the man's name painted on the glass window, there were no signs that the room had been occupied recently.

~Crap.  We've been set up, but by whom?~  Having made a call to Hammond and ensuring that a team would follow up on the missing Tanner, Jack returned to the motel and filled Teal'c in on what he'd found.  Then, looking around, he asked, “Where's Marty?”

“He became *insistent* in his demands for medication,” Teal'c answered.

A second later, Martin tapped on the bathroom door and spoke, “Uh ... Murray? Listen, uh ... I'm really sorry I tried to bite you, and I realize it was totally out of line, but ... uh ... I was wondering if ... ah, maybe ... I could come out now?  Or I could just stay in here.  That's good, too.  It's just, I'm getting a little dizzy.”

Jack looked at Teal'c and raised his eyebrows, but he wasn't in any great hurry to let a biting Martin out of the bathroom, not until they had a plan, anyway.  Then they heard a thump and opened the door to find Martin slumped on the floor.

Just as Jack was wondering whether they needed to call a doctor, Martin began to come around and called out excitedly, “Colonel, I remember where my ship is.”

Jack sighed and wondered if he could knock Martin out again.  The thought of rummaging around in the woods again looking for a nonexistent spaceship didn't thrill him, especially when he just wanted to look for Daniel and Sam.  Still, Martin was their only lead as to where they might find their missing friends.

With a look to Teal'c, Jack stated, “I guess we're going to the woods again.”  ~But so help me, if this is another waste of time, Martin's gonna need pills for the huge headache he's going to have after I deck him.~

====

Much to Jack's surprise, Martin did actually find his spaceship.

~Lucky for him,~ Jack sighed.  ~But Daniel and Carter aren't here,~ he lamented.

It didn't take long for General Hammond to dispatch a team to the area and just as Tanner was arriving at the warehouse, Jack and Teal’c were listening to the report of the Air Force technician.

“The material the object is made from is definitely not terrestrial.  I used sonar to get the general size and shape, and I've enhanced the image by extrapolating from the exposed portion.  It should look something like this.  It's approximately sixteen-feet long by ten-feet wide.”

“That's not right,” Martin objected.  “It's too small.  That can't be my ship.”

“There's another ship out there?” Jack asked in disbelief.  ~I can't believe we found this one, not to mention I'm just waiting for the flying pig to smack me in the face.~

“Could it be an escape pod?” Teal'c queried.

“That's it!” Martin exclaimed.  “There must have been some kind of malfunction.  We abandoned the ship and came down in the pod.”

“We?  There's more of you?” an astonished Jack questioned.  “How many more?”  Inwardly, he bemoaned, ~Geez, one is more than enough.~

According to the technician, the ship couldn't hold more than four or five people.  Hearing that, Martin wondered if it was his own people, rather than the government, who had been watching him.

As the minutes ticked away, Martin's memory continued to return to him.

“Our home world was under attack.  We were sent out to find allies, but when got here, we realized you weren't advanced enough to help up.”

“Well, we have our moments,” Jack replied.  ~We are always too young or too primitive to do anything,~ he thought with a mental roll of his eyes.

“The enemy was too powerful.  They wanted to make us slaves.  They wanted us to worship them like gods,” Martin told the teammates.

Teal'c looked at Jack, who nodded his approval, and then stated, “The Goa'uld.”

“Yes, that's it,” Martin confirmed.

With Jack's permission, Teal'c showed Martin his tattoo and explained how the Goa'uld had enslaved the Jaffa.

At that point, the technician advised Jack that they had concluded the radiation sweep and were ready to open the hatch.  However, Martin recalled that the ship had sensors on it that would alert his fellow aliens if it were to be opened.

“Perhaps this can be used to our advantage, O'Neill,” Teal'c suggested.

Jack stared at his friend for a minute and then smiled.  He was totally onboard with the idea.

“Open the hatch,” Jack ordered.

“But ...” Martin objected, concerned about the others finding him.

“Martin, trust me,” Jack requested, putting his arm around the apparent man from outer space.  “Airman, we'll need a wire.”

“A wire?”

“All you have to do is stand here, Marty,” Jack assured.  ~I hope.~

Once Martin was wired and about to be left on his own, his anxiety increased.

“Colonel, I don't think ...”

“That's fine,” Jack interrupted.  “Martin, two of my people are missing, and you're going to help us find them.”

“But ...”

“Marty, shut up,” Jack ordered.  “Positions,” he shouted out to the personnel, motioning for Teal'c to follow as he headed for the surveillance truck.

====

In the distance, Jack and Teal'c waited inside the surveillance van, monitoring Martin Lloyd as the man stood near the space vessel.  The ship's hatch was now clearly opened.  A tiny microphone had been placed in Martin's lapel that allowed Jack to hear everything that was spoken in Martin's vicinity.

~Come on,~ the colonel urged impatiently as he silently stared at the tracking computer in front of him.  His internal 'Daniel alarm' was going off, though it wasn't blaring, but rather was emitting a small cry. ~My gut says Tanner's the answer.~

“We got company,” Martin advised into his lapel.

~Finally!~  Relieved when Tanner and his men arrived on the scene and took the bait, better known as Martin, with them, Jack pleaded, ~Hang on, Danny.  The calvary is coming.~

Tanner's group ushered Martin into a van and headed away from the woods.  Covertly, the surveillance van, marked as a plumbing truck, followed, using GPS to mark the other vehicle's movement.  Listening in, Jack wasn't sure whether to be relieved by Martin's returning memories or not.  According to Martin's recollection, Tanner was not a violent man; however, the memories didn't compute with the man's current behavior.

~Stop already,~ Jack implored impatiently.  While keeping a cool exterior, his interior was in knots.  He couldn't rely on Tanner being non-violent, not until he saw that his life partner was safe and unharmed.  ~If you've touched a hair on his head, you'll have to deal with me, and I'm a lot tougher to manhandle than Marty.~

After what seemed like an eternity to the colonel, the GPS tracker remained steady for longer than it would take for a stop sign or traffic signal.  Martin was moving, but not with the speed of a vehicle, which meant one thing.

“They stopped.  Get to them,” Jack ordered and then reached for his weapon.

It took a few agonizing minutes for the surveillance van and the unmarked Air Force car carrying a team that was traveling with them to reach the GPS location -- the warehouse.

Jack quickly jumped out of the van and was followed by Teal'c.  The driver, who was a sergeant, immediately looked to Jack for direction.

“Seal off the area.  No one in or out,” Jack ordered and then quickly climbed up the stairs that led to the warehouse's front dock.

Cautiously, Jack and Teal'c went inside the building, expecting to find Tanner and his men.

Jack went to his left, mentally calling out, **Daniel?** but not getting a response of any kind.  Then he saw his lover tied up and his head bobbed downward.  ~He'd better be okay.~  His heart sank as he begged, ~Please be all right, Danny; I can't live without you.~  He was also angry and ready to kill if need be.  ~Watch your six, Tanner.  If Daniel is hurt, you'll be dead.~

The colonel's hopes for Daniel's safety rose when he saw Sam beginning to stir.  If she was okay, then hopefully Daniel was as well.  Forcing himself to act as the CO of SG-1, Jack resisted the urge to move past his 2IC to check on Daniel first.

Still keeping an eye out for the gunmen, Jack tried to coax a response and called out in a hushed shout, “Carter?”

Groggily, the blonde acknowledged, “Sir?”

Jack untied his second-in-command and when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Daniel begin to show signs of rousing, he began to thank every god in the universe.

“You all right?” Jack asked the major, though he wanted nothing more than to go to his Heart, put his arms around him, and never let go.  Unfortunately, they all still had work to do.  ~Daniel's okay,~ he told himself confidently even though the archaeologist hadn't yet said a word.

“Yeah,” Sam answered weakly, wincing at the pounding headache that she currently had.

**Jack?** the archaeologist called out via the couple's special link.  It was an automatic thought.  He wasn't even fully conscious yet, but his mind was just beginning to stir, and like always, his lover's name was the first thing to come to his mind.  ~Is he here?~

**I'm here, Danny; I've got you,** Jack promised, hoping his soulmate would hear the reassurances.

As Teal'c checked out the van that Tanner's man had abducted Martin in, Jack realized no one else was in the warehouse other than his team and Martin.  He moved to his left, untied his lover, and stood up, taking a couple of steps back to his right.  He really didn't trust himself to stay by Daniel without blowing their cover as just best friends and teammates and not also as a happy, very much in love same-sex couple.  If there weren't the chance of one of the Air Force personnel guarding the warehouse seeing them, he might have risked it anyway.

~You're a lucky man, Tanner.~  Covertly focused on Daniel and relieved to see all the signs that indicated to him that the archaeologist was unharmed, Jack picked up his radio.  With no sign of Tanner or his men inside, he asked, “Sergeant, any sign of the targets?”

“Negative, Sir,” the sergeant responded, having observed absolutely no movement outside the warehouse.

“They just disappeared?” a stunned Jack dubiously asked Martin.

“They're aliens, right?  I have more evidence.  Look,” Martin beckoned as he pulled a remote device out of his pocket.

“What's that?”

“A mobile computing device,” Martin answered.  “I snuck it out of Tanner's bag.  It has multiple functions, see?  Uh-Oh.”

“What?”  Although Jack felt sorry for Martin, he still found the man extremely annoying.  ~Better not be another spaceship.~

“Guys, we'd better get out of here.  This thing is counting down,” Martin explained anxiously as he stared at the beeping object.

**Daniel, move!** Jack ordered, feeling his Love follow his urgent command.

Turning around quickly, Jack tapped on Sam's shoulder and waved to Teal'c.  With great speed, SG-1 and Martin ran out of the warehouse.

As he ran across the dock, Jack shouted, “Clear the area,” to the Air Force personnel protecting the perimeter.  The group leaped off the dock, expecting the building to blow up at any second.  They were all surprised when nothing happened.  “Well?” a frustrated Jack questioned.  ~My knees are very upset.  When you tell me a building is going to blow up, it had better blow.~

Confused, Martin remarked, “That's weird.  I'm sure this is a countdown for some sort of detonation.”

“Great,” Jack snarked as he stood up.

“Colonel,” the sergeant called out.  “We just got a report that the spaceship in the woods exploded.”

“See!” Martin exclaimed.  “I knew it was a countdown for something.”

Jack rolled his eyes and nodded; then ordered the teams to do a detailed search of the area.  The contents of the building and van were to be tagged and confiscated, pending an Air Force investigation.

“Let's get out of here,” the colonel suggested.  As the team began to walk, Jack asked again, “You two okay?”

“I'm okay, Sir,” Sam responded appreciatively.

“Fine,” Daniel answered succinctly though not convincingly.

“What's going to happen to me?” Martin questioned.

Compassionately, Jack answered, “We'll see if we can get you home, Marty.”  He sighed inwardly, ~It's hard enough to be a man without a country, but to be a man without a planet, well ... that's tough.~

====

At the Sleep-Rite Motel, Jack had already packed his duffel bag when he tapped lightly on Daniel's door.

“Come in,” Daniel invited.  He was holding a V-neck gray shirt in his hand, about to pack it inside his duffel bag.  It was the shirt he'd worn on the first day in Billings when they'd staked out the restaurant and then searched Martin's home.  “Hey,” he spoke softly when he saw his lover.

Closing the door behind him, Jack questioned, “Uh, isn't that mine?”

Daniel smiled nervously and nodded, stuffing the shirt in his duffel bag and closing it.

“Jack, I'm sorry,” Daniel apologized.  “I was wrong.”

“Now that doesn't happen often,” Jack replied, walking closer to his soulmate, having sensed the ice was thawing at last.

“I know you can't control the missions.”

“I have tried, Daniel.  I talked to Hammond before he released it, but he's fighting his own battles right now,” Jack relayed.  “No one's happy right now.”

“I guess not,” the archaeologist agreed quietly.

“There's something else,” Jack prodded, feeling that though things were more cozy now, his lover still had something else going on within him.

“No,” Daniel refuted, unwilling to look at his soulmate.

“Danny, talk to me,” Jack urged as he took a couple of steps closer to his Heart.

“It's silly,” the younger man claimed, not wanting to reveal his internal torment, especially over something that felt so petty.

“It was chilly at that warehouse,” Jack asserted, believing that whatever was wrong must have happened there.

“It's just ... Sam ... we were both ... I mean, I guess she was closest ...”

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack responded, now able to fill in the blanks of the problem.  “Daniel, I didn't know if the warehouse was clear.  Carter was the closest to me and she was coming round; you weren't.”

“But even when we were running for our lives, I saw you grab her and ...”

“Daniel, did you need help?” Jack challenged pointedly.  He walked a few steps closer to what would be considered a casual talking distance between friends.  “If you were in danger, nothing in the universe would keep me from being at your side.  Carter may have wakened first, but she wasn't on her feet yet.  I saw you.  You were already focused and thinking again.  I *knew* you were thinking and moving.  I protect my team, Daniel, *all* of my team.  I wasn't confident that Carter would get out of there without a little nudge, and that's all it was -- a nudge, a tap on her shoulder, and then I made sure Teal'c was on the move.”

“Oh, well, I ... I told you it was silly.”

“No, Angel, it's not,” the colonel refuted as he closed the gap between them.  His hands began to caress the arms of his soulmate.  “I love you, even when you drive me up the wall.  Daniel, your past isn't silly; wanting and needing to know you count isn't silly, either.”  He paused a second, hoping and prayer the other man would understand.  “Danny, I don't have to look at you to know what you're doing.  I can sense your movements.  You were safe; you responded.  I knew that.  If I didn't, I wouldn't have led the way out of that warehouse.”

“Do I ... count?” Daniel asked timidly, hating himself for asking the question and yet not being able to stop himself for uttering the query.

“First and foremost,” Jack asserted, leaning in for a tender kiss.  Though he was anxious for more, now wasn't the time.  They only had a couple of minutes left before they'd have to join the others outside and head for home.  “You're all that really matters to me, and one of these days, Daniel Jackson, you're going to know that with every breath you take.  You'll never doubt it.”

“I don't really ... I mean ...”

“Shhh,” Jack interrupted, silencing his soulmate with another kiss.  “Don't say what you aren't ready to say.  I love you, and you love me.  We're forever, but I know you're still trying to believe, so while you learn to believe, I'll believe enough for both of us.”

“It's a little funny.”

“What is?” Jack questioned softly.

“I knew we'd get through this because the only reason I was arguing with you is because, well, I ... Jack, I knew I could.  I've been so frustrated about what this schedule could mean for the future, and I couldn't tell anyone else, not like I needed to.”

“Venting,” Jack surmised with a bob of his head.

“No one can understand what this means to me, to the program.”

“I do get it, Daniel,” Jack stated with great sincerity.  “And I wish I could change it, but right now, we have to make the best of what we have.”

“I know, but it scares me.”

“Me, too.”

The lovers kissed again and then Daniel began a soft, but incomplete declaration, saying, “Jack, I ...”

“I love you,” Jack interrupted his hesitant partner, who still had a difficult time proclaiming his love unless Jack had said it first.

“I love you, too, and I really am sorry.”

“I'll talk to Hammond again,” Jack promised, taking his Heart into his arms.

“No, don't,” Daniel sighed.  “There's nothing we can do, not right now.”

Just then, a knock was heard at the door, along with a pleasant call out.

“Daniel, you ready?”

Jack reluctantly backed away from Daniel and made sure his shirt was straightened.

“Ah, yeah, Sam.  I'll be right out.”

“We're okay?” Jack asked, needing his own verification that life was good once again.

“Yeah, we're okay,” Daniel affirmed, giving his Love a sweet and warm smile.

“I have plans for us tonight,” Jack revealed with a grin, pointing back at the archaeologist as he walked to the door.

“Strategy is one of your specialties,” Daniel responded, still smiling as Jack opened the door and then went to retrieve his duffel bag.  Taking a final look around to make sure he'd packed everything, Daniel carried his bag outside and walked over to Sam.  “Hey.”

Sam looked back at Jack, who was just disappearing inside his motel room.

“Everything okay?”

“It's good,” Daniel responded.

Sam nodded, still confused by the love that Jack and Daniel shared, but happy that they were apparently back on track.  If nothing else, it would make the plane trip home smoother and more pleasant.

~The tension between those two was getting a little too thick.  Thank goodness they kissed and made up,~ Sam thought, having no idea how accurate her last statement was.

====

“Hey,” Jack called out as he entered Daniel's office.  He immediately picked up a circular artifact and began playing with it, even as he sat down on a stool.  “Hmmm.”

“That's from PR9-132,” Daniel stated, hiding a grin.  “It's used by the natives in sterility rituals.”

“Whoa!” Jack exclaimed, hastily putting the item on a nearby shelf and then focusing on his lover.  “So,” he sighed.

“So,” the younger man echoed in a leading manner, having a hunch his lover had come to his office for a reason, other than to play with the aforementioned sterility object.

“So I was wondering about something,” Jack began.  “I didn't think to ask you about it before.”

“Alzheimer's?” the archaeologist teased.

“Funny,” Jack snarked sarcastically.  “Back at the warehouse, I called out to you several times.  I have a hunch you didn't hear me.”

“Called out to me?”

“You know,” Jack responded cautiously.  “Our ... thing.”

“Oh,” Daniel replied.  **This thing?**

**Yeah, this thing.  Did you hear me?**

“No, I didn't.”

“I swear I did, Daniel, after Marty told us about the countdown.”

“That I heard,” Daniel stated assertively.  **And it's okay, Jack.  You didn't know if the warehouse was clear yet.**

“I just wanted to make sure you knew,” Jack explained quietly.

“Thanks.”

The lovers shared a loving look of commitment.  All was well and whatever misunderstanding had occurred was now just a page out of their endless chapter together.

“So.”

“So, how's Martin?” Daniel asked.

“He's an alien without a planet,” Jack responded.  “The paper mongers have him signing confidentiality agreements up the wazoo.”

“That must have been hard, going back to his world and finding nothing left,” Daniel sighed, thinking back to a couple of hours earlier when Jack and Teal'c had taken Martin through the Stargate to see what was left of his planet.  “I mean, we all just want to have a home.”

“The right home,” Jack corrected.  “The forever kind.”

“Yeah,” Daniel affirmed with a smile.  Looking down at his desk, he opined, “Martin will be okay.”

“Sure, he will,” Jack concurred confidently.

“They left a world that was destroying itself,” Daniel stated sadly.

“They deserted,” Jack corrected, his military side taking over.

“Jack, I'm not condoning the fact that they left their planet behind, but I'm not ready to accuse them of cowardice, either.”

“Hey, Martin's the one who said it,” Jack returned.  “He said they were losing the war and wanted out.”

“We don't know what it was like for them,” Daniel replied.  “Besides, it's over; it's history, and now, Tanner and his men, Jack, they won't ever have that forever home again.  They're on the run and maybe they always will be.”

“I'm not condemning them, Daniel.  That planet was nothing but rubble.  Maybe I would have done the same thing in their position,” the colonel supposed.

“No, you wouldn't, Jack,” the archaeologist replied with certainty.

“No, I wouldn't,” the older man agreed with equal certainty.

“But I appreciate the attempt to understand those who don't think like you.”

“I'm hungry,” Jack announced lightly in one of his famous non sequiturs.

Daniel laughed, shaking his head at his always-hungry soulmate, and agreed, “Me, too.”

The couple stood and headed for the mess hall.

“I gotta tell ya, Daniel, I'm glad to be out of the spy game and back into the fly game.  The X-301 is gonna fly like a dream.”

Daniel rolled his eyes.  His lover was so excited about the upcoming test of the new plane, a hybrid of Earth and alien technology.  Still, he'd been hearing about it for quite a while, and it was beginning to get on his nerves.

“This baby has power,” Jack continued, his face energetic and bright.

The younger man smiled at his Love's happy excitement.  The X-301 test was in two days.  He could endure Jack's exuberant attitude for a while longer.  After all, Jack was his home, and a happy, excited home was just what he'd always wanted.

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