The Trouble with Listening

Author: Orrymain
Category: Pre-Slash, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating: PG-13
Season: 1 - May 23, 1997
Spoilers: The Nox
Written: October 26,30-31, 2020, February 8-11,13, March 2, 2021
Summary: SG-1 meets some very special and unusual aliens who have them questioning their listening abilities.
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "The Truth Within"

The Trouble with Listening
by Orrymain

"What do you think?" Daniel asked as he and Jack were changing clothes in the locker room.

"I think if he were smart, he'd see the possibilities and know we're just getting starting."

"But?" the younger man prompted.

"But we're talking Washington politics, and I wouldn't trust Swift as far as I could throw him," Jack admitted, referring to visiting Secretary of Defense David Swift, who was responsible for funding the classified operations at Cheyenne Mountain.

"We've already done so much. He wouldn't shut us down."

"He could and he will, if we don't convince him."

"Jack ..."

"Don't worry, Daniel. I've pressed my diplomatic shirt and will wear it and my happy face hat when we meet with the guy. Okay?"

"Okay."

====

Several hours later, SG-1, wearing their green battle dress uniforms, entered the gate room.

"We're being watched, kids," Jack noted without looking up at the observation window where General Hammond and Secretary Swift stood in anticipation of the Stargate engaging.

"We have to find this creature," Daniel stated strongly.

"Teal'c, you're sure about this planet?"

"I am. We attempted to capture the creature and failed," the Jaffa replied.

"But it's there?" Seeing the Jaffa's intense stare, Jack sighed, "Nothing personal, Teal'c, but if we don't find this creature fast, capture it, and bring it home quickly, this could be our last trip through the Stargate."

"They wouldn't shut us down," Daniel interjected quietly.

"Wanna bet?" Jack returned sharply. "Okay, this planet is uninhabited. Our soul focus is to locate that creature. If we can figure out how it shields itself and becomes invisible, there's hope we can keep the lights on here."

"Perhaps I could have been more diplomatic," Sam put forth. "I was a little aggressive earlier."

"No," Jack negated humorously as his head reared back slightly. "You, Carter: aggressive? Never."

Daniel opined, "She's right, though. We became defensive pretty quickly."

"He wasn't buying it, Daniel."

"You didn't have to say, 'that would be *why* we're going' with the tone you did."

"You're right," Jack conceded. "Of course, I thought we were explorers."

Daniel's head lowered. That was one of his comebacks during a somewhat heated discussion with the Secretary.

"Let's not dwell," the colonel suggested. "It didn't go our way earlier, but now we make it work for us."

"Chevron one encoded," came the announcement over the tannoy.

In spite of Jack's hopeful promise to Daniel in the locker room, it was not a pleasant morning at Stargate Command. The heated discussion from earlier ended up with a virtual threat: find some kind of defense or weapons advantage for Earth to use against the Goa'uld or the cost of the Stargate Program would be too high to continue its operation.

In its third month of operation, SGC was still in its infancy. Slowly, new worlds were being approached in the hope for the acquisition of allies, technology, medical knowledge, and supreme weaponry. The nine SG teams were used based on necessity. SG-1, being the flagship team, had on average explored planets new to Earth once per week. SG-2’s missions totaled a bit less, while the other teams were still getting their boots wet.

At this time, SG-9’s usage was in question. This was due to a disastrous first mission where the team leader became deranged and tried to overtake the world the team visited. Meanwhile, the Marine units of SG-3 and SG-5 were called in to assist with more aggressive worlds while both SG-4 and SG-7 tended to do second visits to planets with natural elements that could be beneficial to Earth. Sam usually determined what planets were appropriate for these studies. SG-4’s duties were not as defined as SG-7’s and the other teams, but for now, they were science oriented.

Then there were the teams designated as SG-6 and SG-8. SG-6 was essentially a catchall group, used however they were most needed. The team included a medic, an archaeologist, and two others, both trained to some degree in medical aid. This team was called to worlds with ongoing conflicts and to assist with archaeological investigations. Daniel hoped to have the team convert to a full blown archaeology team, but it was a battle he had yet to win.

"Chevron three encoded."

As the flagship team double-checked their gear and made sure their hats, gloves, and other uniform pieces were in place and comfortable, they each silently reviewed the disastrous exchange with the Secretary.

Sam had valiantly tried to push the success their exploration already achieved,, hoping to convince Swift the Program was worthwhile.

In total, nineteen new worlds were visited by SG teams in these first two-plus months of exploration with several return visits to solidify the new friendships made or to attempt to make the way to a peaceful alliance with races still unsure about the Tau'ri.

Swift had appeared unimpressed with the data being spewed from SGC personnel which angered the entire team, not to mention General George Hammond, the base commander.

"Chevron seven locked."

Finally, the key question had been posed by the Secretary: “Colonel, if one of those Goa'uld ships were coming here right now, have you brought back one thing that we can fight them off with?”

That was a stunning question and Jack hadn't known how to answer it. Rather, it was the normally quiet Teal'c who had saved the day, revealing that there were technologies in the universe that even the Goa’uld still sought, including one of invisibility.

With a wave of his hand as he twisted around slightly towards the control room and looked upward, Jack ordered, “Send it through.”

The colonel was referring to the Field Remote Expeditionary Device, better known as FRED. The remote-controlled unit carried supplies for the team and most always went through the Stargate before the first contact teams.

Watching the FRED as it went through the Stargate, the team focused on Teal'c's encouraging statement. All they needed to do was go to the planet and bring back the creature. The scientists would then figure out how the creature flew in stealth. That technology could greatly give the Tau'ri a huge advantage in any fight with their enemies.

With Hammond and Swift now in the major general's office after the heated debate ended, a slight celebration had occurred.

“Way to go, Teal’c,” Jack had complimented as patted the alien member of the team on the back. “You may have just saved our bacon.”

“Your bacon?”

“Our butts.”

“I do not understand, O’Neill.”

Daniel had translated, “He means if we succeed on this mission, Teal’c, the President won’t shut us down, for now anyway.”

“Indeed,” the tall bald Jaffa had responded with a nod of his head.

With the mission a go to the planet designated as P3X-774, SG-1 awaited their orders.

"SG-1, you have a go," Hammond called out over the speaker. "Good luck."

“Let’s go, kids,” Jack ordered his team as he stepped up onto the ramp and headed for the water-like substance. “Shoot.”

“Sir?” Sam questioned when her commanding officer stopped and turned back around.

“Go on through, Captain.”

“Yes, Sir,” a confused Sam acknowledged. ~I wonder what he forgot.~

Jack motioned for Teal’c and Daniel to follow Sam, which they did.

====

"I wonder what's keeping the colonel?" Sam pondered as she and the rest of the team began to look around.

"Maybe he had to tie his shoelaces," the archaeologist teased, causing Sam to chuckle. ~Gee, he has the sweetest smile.~

"Hey, what was that?" Sam queried in alarm. "I thought I saw I something move, over there and to the right."

"As did I, CaptainCarter," Teal'c advised.

"Let's go check it out."

====

“Something wrong, Colonel?” Hammond asked over the tannoy in the control room when he saw his second-in-command's hesitation.

“No, Sir,” was the response. Jack hurried over to the doorway to the left of the Stargate where his friend and SG-2 team leader was standing. He whispered something to Lou Ferretti and then returned to the ramp and headed through the Stargate while thinking, ~Close call.~

Jack entered the event horizon, essentially traveling through a wormhole to the planet in question. The Gate closed shortly afterwards. He looked around P3X-774 and noted a haze hanging over the mountains in the distance and an abundance of greenery all around. Birds chirped, though he never actually saw one.

~Nice,~ Jack opined, thinking the planet would be perfect for an isolationist, at least based on his first impression. He looked around for his team. "Carter?" He headed slowly down the cement steps. "Daniel?" Jack cocked his MP-5 weapon in anticipation of a negative conflict. "Teal'c?"

From the rear and left side of the Stargate, Sam approached and called out, "Here, Sir."

Relieved, Jack took a moment to settle himself before joining the captain. She filled him in and the two met up with Daniel and Teal'c to discuss the quick sighting of the creature they were seeking.

Pulling the tranquilizer gun to his primary position and moving his MP-5 to his side, Jack walked forward, searching for whatever caused the movement witnessed by his teammates upon stepping through the Stargate. At the moment, though, everything appeared to be still.

Seeing nothing of interest, Jack spoke, "All right, well there's nothing out here. Let's get back to the gear and …" He turned to face the others and was shocked at what he saw, or rather, what he didn't see. "Where's the Stargate?"

Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c all turned back, equally shocked at the Gate's disappearance. Even FRED was gone. All there was to see was an open meadow.

"That, uh, that doesn't make sense," Daniel uttered nervously.

"Where'd it go?" a confused Sam inquired as she did a complete 360-degree turn.

The four walked back to where the Stargate was supposed to be located, not knowing what to think.

"I don't like this," the colonel expressed with dissatisfaction. suddenly sprinting forward, passing his team in his personal search for the Stargate.

Looking at the Jaffa as they walked, Daniel questioned, "Did anything like this ever happen to you before?"

"It has not. If we became misdirected and needed to locate the Stargate, we had a Goa'uld homing device to find it."

Urgently moving towards Jack, the archaeologist queried in a raised voice, "Do we have a homing device?"

"Of course we do; it's with the gear," Jack groused.

"Which is ... by the Stargate," Daniel sighed unhappily.

Jack ordered a box search, sending his 2IC and Teal'c in one direction. "Stay in radio contact." He reached over, lightly touching the arm of the archaeologist. "Daniel, you're with me."

Rather quickly, Daniel heard a fluttering noise and stopped walking. He uttered a "Psst" as he tried to get the colonel's attention.

Jack returned to his archaeologist's side as the noise grew louder.

"There!" Daniel whispered, pointing outward at an odd rippling in the air. He and Jack moved several feet closer to the warping and then crouched down. As Jack raised his tranquilizer gun, Daniel remarked, "I just hope it becomes visible once we tranq it; otherwise, we'll never be able to find it."

Without warning, the creature flew off and the flash of a staff weapon became visible. As the flying entity escaped, it could be seen to an extent, confirming it could apparently make itself invisible.

~What is he thinking?~ Jack thought angrily upon seeing the weapon's flash. He nearly dropped his weapon completely in aggravation. He clicked his radio. "Teal'c, what are you doing?"

"It did not come from me," the Jaffa responded.

~Ut oh,~ Daniel thought when he and Jack heard a familiar yet unwelcome voice.

Raising up a bit, Jack watched in surprise. He and Daniel both moved forward a few steps before crouching down again.

"Oh," Jack groaned as he saw a Goa'uld leader in full golden body armor ordering the Jaffa to lead the way before he followed after them. ~This is so not good.~

"Jack, that's ..."

"Yeah, good old Poppy baby, a giant in his own mind," Jack snarked. "Let's get out of here."

====

"Crap, now it's raining," Jack noted as he and Daniel headed to meet up with their teammates.

"Where there is a lot of greenery, there is a lot of rain," Daniel replied, though he was distracted by thoughts of his missing wife.

"Yeah, well, it won't help us in a gunfight."

"Gunfight?"

"Just thinking ahead, Daniel. Rain equals mud equals potential for debris kick-up and loose footing. Nothing new: just thinking out loud."

At that point, Jack and Daniel joined up with Sam and Teal'c and informed them about the presence of Apophis.

Eager for a course of action, Daniel asked, "Okay, what are we going to do? We have to do something."

"That's not our mission," Jack reminded.

"Uh, just ... forget our mission," Daniel refuted. Intensely, he pointed out, "Now, he's the only one who knows where Sha're and Skaara are. We may not get another chance like this."

~He's not going to let this go. It won't matter what I say, he's here to find Sha're,~ Jack told himself as he stared at the younger man. He looked at Teal'c and inquired, "What kind of entourage is he going to have with him?"

"Two, perhaps three Jaffa personal guard."

Sam challenged, "Are we seriously entertaining the idea of going after Apophis?" She saw Jack's nod and pointed out, "Sir, we're not prepared for an attack! Half the ordinance we're carrying is tranquilizer guns."

Daniel interjected, "So, we use one of them to knock him out. He will wake up in a holding cell without his guards, without his technology. He will have no choice but to tell us everything we want to know about Goa'uld technology, about were Sha're is."

~Dumb of me to ask,~ Jack realized. "Can I remind you that we don't know where the Stargate is?"

Teal'c advised about Apophis, "He will have the Goa'uld homing device I spoke of."

"There you are," Daniel stated insistently.

Jack knew they would have to do as Daniel wanted. He had no way of forcibly removing the archaeologist, not with the Stargate missing. Teal'c believed the team had surprise on their side and if they moved swiftly to dispose of the personal guard, he believed they could win the battle.

Sam was still reluctant, but she wasn't the team leader. She simply felt they needed to have a good plan in place before they made a move.

Ignoring the falling rain that could impede their plans if it worsened, SG-1 spent time preparing and discussing their plan. Once they were sure of it, they moved out with purpose.

====

The team spread out, doing a brief recon of the area in order to plan their attack. As often happened, Jack and Daniel were walking in close proximity of each other.

"Okay, uh, well, it's none of my business, but, uh ... why were you so late coming through the Stargate?"

Jack let out an amused chortle as he admitted, "I haven't watched the final ep of 'The Simpsons' yet."

"Um ..."

"It's in my VCR and I have something else set to record tonight."

"So, it would erase the episode?"

"You got it!" Jack affirmed. "Gotta see that last ep. Bart is shipped off to a military school."

"Oh, now I understand."

"But what did you do? I mean, you didn't go home ... obviously."

"I saw Ferretti hanging out in the corridor. I just took a minute to ask him to drop by the house on his way home and take out the tape."

"You should be home on time anyway."

"Yeah, if all goes as planned, but you always need a Plan B because things don't always go as planned. Doesn't this mission prove that?"

"You have a point," Daniel conceded. After a couple minutes of silence, the archaeologist spoke again. "Jack, we have to find her."

"I told you we will."

"I know, but ..."

"Daniel, we don't have time for doubts," Jack put forward. "Sha're's been kidnapped and forced into slavery by that snakehead. He's not going to get away with it, and we are going to bring Sha're home. Now, focus, please. We don't have a lot of time here."

"Sorry."

"Daniel!"

"Sorry."

Jack let out a groan, but he wasn't or frustrated. What he did feel was enormous pressure to follow through on the promise he'd made Daniel in the beginning: to find Sha're and bring her home. If he were honest with himself, the colonel would admit that a big part of the reason why he agreed to alter the mission was his need to honor his vow to his friend and teammate. He was doing it as much for him, as he was for Daniel.

"Jack, what about here? Look at the rocks," Daniel pointed out.

The team leader took a thorough look around and nodded. He clicked on his radio.

"Carter, we've located a good spot." Jack relayed his current location. "Nice job," he praised to the archaeologist.

Daniel simply nodded while silently thinking, ~I had to contribute something to this. I know he's doing this for me because of his promise.~

====

Within a half-hour, Teal'c was in position and Daniel was headed for his place in the rocks from which he would participate in the upcoming ambush of the Goa'uld.

Before heading to her assigned position, Sam said, "Sir, are you sure about this?"

"Sure about what?"

"What we're doing?" Sam replied. "With all due respect, Sir, aren't we doing this more because of Daniel and Sha're than our mission?"

"Well, Carter, we don't have a lot of options right now; it just seemed the right thing to do."

"The right thing to do?" Sam asked in some disbelief.

"Forget I said that."

"We're doing this because of Daniel."

"We're doing this, Captain, because I'm ordering us to do it. Do you need anything further?"

"No, Sir."

Sam stopped walking and turned to her right to get into her hiding space.

"Carter," Jack called out hesitantly. "Wouldn't you have done the same thing?"

Sam released a tiny smile and responded, "Fortunately, Sir, I'm not the colonel."

Jack groaned and returned, "Not yet. Just wait, Carter. You'll have all kinds of fun in my spot."

"I wouldn't dream of it, Sir."

"Move!" Jack ordered, sensing the Goa'uld would arrive soon. As he found his hiding spot, he sighed. ~Okay, we're doing it for Daniel. Go ahead and shoot me.~ He sighed while confessing to himself, ~And to find Sha're. I promised him.~

====

Soon thereafter, the assault began when Teal'c revealed himself and fired in the direction of one of the Jaffa. Unfortunately, his blast hit rocks instead.

Sam and Daniel both fired at their opposition, though neither hit their targets.

From his position in the woods, Jack emerged and took aim at Apophis, but the System Lord was able to raise his personal shield before Jack's shot could reach him. The snakehead, as Jack referred to all Goa'ulds, smirked and then took possession of a staff weapon belonging to one of his Jaffa.

~Not good,~ Jack thought when he saw Apophis start to aim the weapon in his direction. ~And, dang it, it's raining again.~

Jack desperately tried to get out of the way of the blast, diving for cover, but he wasn't fast enough. He was struck in the back mid-dive and died instantly.

Daniel saw his friend go down and felt guilty. Why didn't he let Jack lead the team he wanted to?

~Gawd, it's totally my fault. He's dead because I insisted we capture Apophis. Jack!~

"Colonel!" Sam exclaimed with worry as her focus was drawn to her commanding officer's body.

Seeing the woman jump out from the cover of the rock she was behind, Apophis shot her in the chest, causing her to fall.

~Sam! No!~ Daniel cried internally. He attempted to leave his position, to go to Jack or Sam. He really wasn't sure where he was going, only that he couldn't stay where he was. In a split second, though, he was shot in the chest by Apophis, causing him the fall down a short slope. ~Dead. I'm ...~

The firefight did result in severely injuring one of the personal guard, but the other two managed to hide and escape injury. It was then that Teal'c jumped up and blasted his weapon in the direction of Apophis, but as it did with Jack's blast, the personal shield absorbed the weapon's intensity.

"Teal'c. Jaffa: Shol'va!" Apophis spat at the accused traitor.

The Jaffa reviewed the status of his teammates, all fallen, all not moving, and all apparently dead. He lowered his weapon, ready to join the three in death.

"Dal Shakka Mel! I die free," Teal'c proclaimed defiantly.

Prepared to fire and destroy his adversary, Apophis was stunned when SG-1 suddenly disappeared.

====

A few hours later, Daniel, lying down on a cot, awoke inside a hut. He was startled to realize he was apparently alive and, in fact, not even injured, even though his uniform had a hole in the chest area where he was certain he was shot.

~This isn't right. Uh, I mean, what's happening?~

The archaeologist stood up and walked around for a few seconds in an attempt to get his bearings and gain some clarity in his mind. Finally, he kneeled down at Sam's side. The captain was also lying down on a cot and still not awake, though when he put his hand over her nose, he felt a breath. He saw the hole in her uniform where she was shot and reached in gently, touching her skin and becoming aware that she also didn't have any physical indication of having been shot.

Just then, the captain awoke, feeling Daniel's hand on her and called out, "Hey! What are you looking at?" Within her mind, though, she thought, ~Another time and another place, and I wouldn't say anything, but we're on a mission.~

Ignoring the query, Daniel stammered, "I felt that blast kill me. I mean ... I thought I ... I thought we were dead. Weren't we dead?"

Raising up, Sam affirmed, "Yeah."

"Okay. Well, I thought Heaven would be a little more upscale."

"Oh, I don't think this is Heaven."

The two teammates located Jack, lying prone and unconscious on a cot. Sam went to his right side and noted the hole in his uniform and yet no sign of harm to his body.

Daniel kneeled in front of Jack and began to gently rub the colonel's brown hair as he called out calmly, "Jack?" There was a pause. ~Be okay, Jack.~ Again and more fully this time, Daniel's hand touched his friend's head. "Jack."

With a start, Jack jumped up and anxiously called out, "What the ...?"

"It's okay," Daniel said soothingly.

"What the heck was that?" the colonel questioned in confusion.

"It's okay," Daniel repeated reassuringly.

"Wasn't I just ..." Jack began.

"Killed," Sam stated.

"Killed as in ..." the colonel responded.

"Dead," Sam spoke.

"Dead," Jack echoed.

The three acknowledged they all had the same experience. They also realized that Teal'c wasn't with them and that their sidearms were gone.

At that point, a stranger appeared.

~He looks like a tree,~ Jack opined about the short man with greenish straggly hair who wore homespun clothing. ~Looks like pajamas to me.~

"Uh ... hello," Daniel greeted. He smiled at the strange woman who joined the small man. She was taller and with longer hair, though it was similar to the man's in that it was equally bushy. Her hair featured some reddish brown tinting to it, but overall, it was lighter in color. Her clothing appeared to be the same homespun material. In an upbeat tone, he spoke, "Hi. I'm Daniel ... uh, Jackson. This is Captain Carter and this is, uh ..."

"Colonel Jack O'Neill, SG-1," Jack piped up. "Um ... Sorry to drop in on you like this, but we were ... dead."

The two strangers said nothing, but when Sam asked about Teal'c, the woman used her hands and bade the team to follow. The man and woman exited the hut.

With the strangers outside, the team began to stand.

"Did you notice anything odd about their hair?" Jack questioned curiously.

"Not particularly," Sam lied, not wanting to think about her true opinion.

"Weren't those ... leaves and twigs sticking out of their hair in the back? Ah, that was hair?"

"I think they might have some type of symbiotic relationship with nature, just judging from first looks, which is actually never a good idea. I mean you can't ..." Daniel saw the two stares and sighed. "All I was saying is we shouldn't judge them; we don't even know them."

"Right," an unconvinced Jack replied before he led the team outside the hut. Once outdoors, he and his teammates noticed other people like the two strangers sitting nearby. They also saw baskets full of bright fruit. "Ah ... fruit," Jack observed. "Nothing like coming back from the dead to build up an appetite."

After the team sat down on stumps, various fruits were given to them by the strangers. Though Daniel continued to ask questions in an attempt to communicate, no answers were given. From his observations, though, he believed the strangers were a family.

Jack was eager to learn where their weapons were. He was surprised when the young boy among the four strangers suddenly walked up to him. He tried to ask about the guns, but his quest was interrupted when Teal'c suddenly approached and the boy went to the Jaffa to bring him to SG-1.

Teal'c knew nothing about what was happening or where Apophis and the other Jaffa were. Inwardly, he was wondering how it was that his teammates were alive and well, but outwardly, he remained a strong Jaffa and simply answered Jack's queries.

That is, until the youngest of the strangers suddenly went over to Sam, pointed to himself, and said, "Nafrayu."

Sam pointed at the boy and repeated his name. Next, she introduced herself.

"Carter."

The youth put his right hand on Sam's shoulder and somewhat alluringly repeated, "Carter."

This caused the captain to grin somewhat sheepishly, which then prompted Jack to interject, ""No, you can't keep him."

"Where do we go from here?" Daniel wondered.

"For a walk," Jack answered as he led the way out of the hut's perimeter.

====

"How is it you are alive, O'Neill?" Teal'c finally asked.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Jack responded.

"We woke up in that hut with torn uniforms, but no injuries," Sam marveled.

"Could it be these people?" the Jaffa wondered.

"I doubt it," Jack replied. "They don't look like they can take care of themselves, let alone bring us back from the dead. We were dead?"

"Very ... dead," Daniel affirmed.

"Carter, Teal'c, do a little recon to the south and we'll meet up with you later," Jack ordered.

"What are we looking for?" Sam inquired.

"If I knew Carter, I'd tell you. Go!"

"Yes, Sir."

Jack and Daniel continued walking, until the scientist asked, "Jack, where are we going?"

"To find my cap."

"Your cap?"

"Daniel, if you haven't noticed, it keeps raining on this planet. Start, stop, start again. I want my cap."

Daniel tried not to laugh, but he didn't succeed, earning him an aggravated stare from the team leader.

It was several minutes later when the pair arrived at the scene of the firefight.

"Well, this is ... not a choice vacation spot."

"There's your cap," Daniel observed, pointing at the place where Jack's life ended earlier in the day. "Jack, I ... I mean, I ... well, I'm sorry."

"What about?"

"You were dead."

"So were you."

"But you were dead because of me."

"No, I died because that pompous snakehead got off a blast before I reached the rocks."

"Because we went after Apophis, for me, because of Sha're."

"What makes you think I'd order us into this situation just because of you?"

"You made me a promise, and we haven't had any real chance to, uh, well ..."

"Daniel, listen close to what I'm about to say," Jack instructed as he put his cap onto his head. He moved into his friend's personal space and stared into his eyes. "No one but no one gets me to do anything I don't want to do. Our mission was a bust and our only hope of getting anything out of it and maybe preventing the Secretary from shutting us down was to capture the golden calf. That was a bust, too, but that's on me. I didn't plan it out right. None of this, not one morsel of it, is your fault. Do you get me?"

"Yes, I get you, Jack."

"Good. Let's get back to that arbish or whatever you called it," the colonel spoke about the small village-like area where the hut was located.

"Aresh." Daniel sighed, his guilt still present, but he also knew his friend wouldn't ever assign him any blame. It was kind of Jack, but the archaeologist felt he knew the truth. ~We wouldn't have died if it weren't for me. I'm sorry, Jack.~

====

Back in the small village, Jack continued to be confused and frustrated, while Sam enjoyed the attention of Nafrayu and tried to communicate with him. Teal'c stood by in silence, contemplating the planet and the presence of the Goa'uld. Meanwhile, Daniel attempted to get the adults to understand him, but none of queries were responded to in any way other than with stares.

Eventually, the team gathered together and were offered food, which they accepted. Jack was on the far right, with Daniel at his side. Sam sat next to the archaeologist with Teal'c on the extreme left.

Suddenly, one of the strangers stated, "I will take you to your doorway."

"Whoa," a stunned Jack responded.

"You understand what I'm saying?" Daniel inquired.

The inhabitant affirmed, "It took time to learn your speech."

"Not much time," Sam noted.

"Your weapons are gone," the male inhabitant advised.

"Gone where?" an unhappy Jack questioned, though he didn't get an answer.

Jack and Sam tried to explain the Goa'uld to the people, but the woman accused, "You attacked them."

Again, the team attempted to tell the inhabitants that they only meant to capture their enemies. They tried in vain to explain about Apophis.

"He's just ... bad. He's very ..." Jack began, looking over at Daniel.

"... bad," Daniel completed for the team leader.

"... bad," Jack repeated within seconds of Daniel's word. "We just wanted to take him back to our world and have a little chat with him about all the nasty ..."

"... bad ..." Jack and Daniel said in unison.

"... things he's been doing," Jack concluded.

The conversation wasn't going anywhere and finally, the man repeated, "We will take you to your doorway. You will go."

SG-1 was pleased to learn the doorway meant the Stargate, but it wasn't that simple for them.

"By rescuing us, you have put yourselves in great danger. Apophis will try to locate us," Teal'c informed the strangers.

"Rest now. You will leave soon. Take your ways with you," the man insisted.

"No, wait, wait, wait. Um ... you helped us. You saved us," Jack stated.

"Yes."

"How?"

"Our ways."

Daniel replied, "We're from a race of people that want to learn about your ways and your medicine."

The conversation deadlocked again, although the team learned there were other people besides the four they saw. They also learned about the injured member of Apophis' personal guard, who who resisted the efforts of the inhabitants to help him and was recovering on his own from his injuries. The woman took SG-1 to a part of the large hut that was curtained off. When she drew back the curtain, the harmed warrior was unconscious atop a table.

Jack and Teal'c remained for a moment, while Sam left the hut, followed by Daniel, who walked back outside with the woman. The two stood near the entrance, waiting for Jack and Teal'c to exit.

"Uh, I, uh, I was wondering," Daniel said. "We've told you our names. I'd really love to know yours."

The woman smiled subtly and responded, "I am Lya. My son is Nafrayu." She looked over at the man who did most of the speaking and advised, "He is my husband, Anteaus."

"The other man?"

"That is Opher."

"Lya," Daniel repeated softly with a smile of his own. "It's good to meet you, Lya. I really hope we can become friends."

"We are very different," Lya pointed out.

"Differences can be a blessing," Daniel responded. "We believe in respecting the differences among cultures."

"Then why did you try to harm him?" the woman asked in reference to the injured Jaffa.

"He's a Goa'uld, Lya," Daniel replied. "They are ... bad."

"So you have said."

The short discussion stopped when Jack and Teal'c exited the hut.

SG-1 continued to try and convince the inhabitants that they were in danger due to the team's presence.

"The Goa'ulds are a ... parasitic race. They take life and use it for their own purposes," Daniel explained.

"And their ways are not like your ways, believe me," Jack added.

"They do not know the Nox," Anteaus refuted.

"That's you? The Nox?" Daniel asked, getting a nod in reply.

"The ones you speak of come to hunt the Fenri," Lya advised.

"Fenri. What?" Jack questioned.

"That's probably that disappearing, invisible, flying thing we were after," Daniel suggested.

The Nox insisted they didn't need help and would not accept that they were in danger.

"There will be no more death," Anteaus maintained, at which point Lya reached out to her husband, putting her hand on his arm in support.

Jack argued, "Look, obviously your medicine is very, well, it's very effective, but how do you defend yourselves?"

"We don't," Anteaus admitted.

"But at least let us help you in exchange for what you did for us," Sam pleaded.

"You must go."

"Right," Jack responded. "Well, for now, we'll just go over here." He pointed to another area.

As SG-1 walked away, Lya opined, "I do not think they intend to do harm willingly, Anteaus. They believe what they believe."

"If we allow them to interfere, Lya, there will be more death. We cannot allow that to happen."

"Yes, I know.

--

On the opposite side of the clearing, SG-1 gathered. Jack was curious about Teal's relationship to the other Jaffa, since Teal'c recognized him and mentioned his name, Shak'l.

"All right, do you know this ... Shak'l?" Jack asked Teal'c.

"He served in my command when I was first prime of Apophis."

The team was at a loss, but they were certain they had to stay and protect the Nox. Their problem was that Shak'l would not accompany them freely and even if he would, Apophis would stop at nothing to prevent SG-1 from leaving the planet.

"Okay, we'll try and find out as much as we can about the Nox; it's part of why we came here right?" Jack suggested. To Teal'c, he put forward, "In the meantime, I think you better check on your friend. Whatever we end up doing, I don't think he is going to wake up in a very good mood. Know what I mean?"

====

"Listen," Jack said to Daniel and Sam. "We need to make ourselves some weapons."

"Why?" Daniel inquired.

"Well, forget our immortal souls, but we have to protect these people whether or not they want us to. Their lives are at risk because we're here. See what you can find."

The three began to look around until Sam's innocent remark that, "There are a lot of sticks, Sir."

Jack slowly began to smile and chimed, "Sticks and stones."

"Sir?"

"Back to the basics, Carter: bows and arrows. I'll work on the bow and you and Daniel start conjuring up some arrows."

Having an idea of what the weapons plan was, the three searched for appropriate sticks to turn into arrows.

Meanwhile, Teal'c was with Shak'l, who awoke and entered into a verbal sparring round with his fellow Jaffa. Naturally, Shak'l didn't buy into anything Teal'c attempted to tell him.

====

"Jack," Daniel called out as he continued to look for an appropriate stick or small branch that could be fashioned into an arrow.

"Yeah?"

"I've been thinking."

"Are you sure I want to know?"

"This planet was supposed to be unpopulated, but the Nox are here."

"They moved in."

"Apparently, but we had no idea they were here."

"So?"

"So ... why didn't we know they were here?"

Jack turned and faced Daniel, staring at him for several seconds before ignoring the entire issue and ordering, "Start sharpening that thing. It looks like a good one."

Daniel nodded and returned to the Nox camp.

====

As he sharpened the end of a stick into an edge, Daniel commented, "I really don't get the point of this."

Approaching with a handmade bow in his hand, Jack answered, "Well, if we run into Apophis again, we'll be prepared."

"But what good are bows and arrows going to be against that kind of fire power?"

"Exactly how I want him to think."

"Yeah?"

"Any weapon is better then no weapon when it comes to survival," Sam put forth.

"You guys just don't want to give up, do you?" Daniel asked.

"No," Jack responded succinctly.

"That's what happens when you spend half your life in Special Forces," Sam opined.

"Somehow, I don't think we'd make very good Nox," Daniel sighed.

"I think you're right," the colonel agreed.

When Jack left to test out the weapon with a young Nafrayu on his tail, Daniel said, "He never does give up."

"You didn't really expect him to, did you?"

"No, I ... I guess not, but there's something about the Nox, Sam. I'm not sure yet what it is, but there's ... something."

"They are different, Daniel, but they obviously need our help."

"Do they?" the archaeologist wondered. "Earlier, Anteaus said there would be no more killing. How does he know that? He sounded so positive."

"Don't ask me."

"Well, I'm done with this, at least for now," Daniel said as he put down the sharpened stick. "I saw Opher over there. Maybe he can explain the Nox to me."

"Good luck," Sam wished as she continued her task.

====

In a clearing, Jack tested his weapon while Nafrayu challenged what the humans were doing.

"Why do you want to fight them?" the Nox boy asked.

"I don't want to."

"Then don't."

~Look at him: innocence written all over him. I doubt he's even had a runny nose.~ Hesitantly, Jack refuted, "It's not that simple. Look, I believe in peace, just like you. I do."

"Then why do you fight?"

"Because our enemy gives us no option. Sometimes turning the other cheek just doesn't work."

"I'll learn to understand them better," Nafrayu told the colonel.

"No! I wouldn't do that if I were you." Jack's words were cut off when a Fenri appeared, looking down on the colonel as if it were going to attack. He pushed Nafrayu away and ordered, "Go on, run. Run!"

Jack used his bow and shot an arrow up at the Fenri, which moved off to the right, unharmed.

====

"Opher, I'd really love to learn more about the Nox and your world."

"Come," the elder statesman acknowledged, leading the way deeper into the forest. He stopped and rubbed his fingers down a tree trunk where he gathered up some sap. He licked his fingers and then offered some sap to Daniel. "Mmm. You?"

"Uh, no. Thank you. I'm ... I'm trying to quit. Is that where you get your medicine? From the forest?"

"We get life from the forest; from everything."

"But you must have medicine ... or you must have some knowledge that we don't have," Daniel spoke, only Opher simply moved away, focused on something else. Following, Daniel continued, "I guess what I'm saying is, we could learn a lot from you. I really wish that we could be friends with the Nox. Friends share knowledge with each other."

"Yes, you have much to learn," Opher stated frankly as he motioned for the archaeologist to follow him.

"Well, why ... why don't you teach me now? For example, you seem to have an almost psychic ability. Are you born with it?"

"Knowledge takes time. Over the years we teach the young to be wise."

"Um ..."

"How old am I? How do you mark time?"

The linguist answered, "Um ... years, days? Uh, a day is one revolution of our planet; a year is one revolution around our sun. There are three-hundred and sixty-five days in one year, so ..."

"Then, I am four hundred and thirty-two years old," the Nox elder advised, surprising Daniel.

"Well, uh ... you look great."

"Thank you," Opher said and then walked away.

Daniel followed, noticing the rain was falling again. He considered pulling out his boonie that was stuffed into one of his pockets, but he was too involved in asking questions and trying to understand the answers to distract himself by pulling out the head covering.

"How long have the Goa'uld been coming here to hunt?"

"Oh, as long as I can remember," Opher answered.

"Why did you not bury the Stargate? Do you know that that would stop them?"

With a nod, Opher pointed out, "Then they would know someone had buried it."

"Right. Of course."

As if sensing something, Opher told the scientist, "You must go back to your people now."

Daniel started to say something and glanced away for a second. When he turned back, Opher was gone.

"Well, I guess I'll go back to my people now."

====

At the clearing where Jack was still processing recent events, Anteaus showed out of the blue and firmly stated, "You will not teach Nafrayu your ways."

"How'd you do that?" an astonished Jack asked. ~He just appeared out of nowhere. Oh crap.~

"It is not the Fenri that have the ability to hide. It is the Nox."

~Yeah, I just figured that out," the colonel acknowledged in his mind. "So, you hid the Stargate?"

"The Fenri was nearby when you came through, attracted by your arrival. We conceal them from the hunters who come," the Nox conceded.

"We're not hunters," Jack argued.

"You tried to kill the Fenri just a moment ago."

"I was trying to protect the boy," Jack claimed.

"You protect his body after poisoning his mind?" Anteaus argued.

"Will you listen to me? The reason the Goa'uld hunt those flying things is because they want to know how it's able to disappear. If they find out it's you ..."

"Our ways have served us for as long as our people have lived," Anteaus interrupted.

"But they didn't know you existed before. Once they know, they'll enslave you. It's what they do!" Jack insisted passionately.

"We are slaves to no one," the Nox maintained calmly.

"Anteaus ..."

"You must go."

"We can't!"

"You must go."

====

When Jack walked up to his teammates, Daniel announced, "Opher is four-hundred and thirty-two years old."

"Well, guess what? They're not human."

"No," Daniel agreed. "Uh ... humanoid, but definitely more advanced than anything that has evolved on Earth."

"That creature that we came here for? It has no power at all. None. Zip."

Jack told Daniel and Sam that the Nox caused the invisibility to protect the Fenri. They all realized that if Apophis learned the truth, he would try to capture the Fenri, and if he failed to do so, he would destroy the planet. Time was running out.

"So, we have to get Shak'l out of here," Jack stated.

Suddenly, Anteaus became visible and advised, "We will not allow you."

"Ah, geez! Will you stop doing that!" Jack whined.

"You cannot be trusted with your enemy."

"Look, if we don't take him away from here, he'll tell the Goa'uld -- the bad guys -- all about you."

"We are not afraid."

"Well, get afraid!" Jack ordered loudly, his impatience showing.

"Colonel," Daniel warned as he held out his hand toward Jack. Looking at the Nox, he said, "Look, this is our fault that this has happened. We know that and we want to correct that."

Anteaus remained firm, only allowing Shak'l to leave with SG-1 if he agreed to do so voluntarily. Unfortunately, when Teal'c entered the hut to give Shak'l one last chance to return with SG-1 through the Stargate, the injured Jaffa had no such desire. Worse, Shak'l revealed a hidden knife, stabbed Teal'c, injured Lya, and ran away from the Nox camp. The only good news was that Teal'c's wound was minor and would soon heal itself, thanks to his symbiote.

Anteaus went to Lya immediately. As he picked her up, he glared at Jack intently.

"This wasn't our fault," Jack reiterated. "The Goa'uld are ..."

Not wanting to listen, Anteaus disappeared and when the team exited the hut, Opher and Nafrayu were also gone.

Surprising the team, the Nox suddenly appeared. Lya was lying unconscious on a cot with Anteaus and the other Nox on the right side of the cot. Their arms were outstretched with one hand over the other.

Off in the distance, Shak'l also observed the Nox, including when they suddenly became invisible again before reappearing seconds later.

With relief, the team saw Lya sit up. She took a deep breath and smiled when she felt her husband's hands on her back.

--

From a distance, Jack commented, "Okay, you don't see that everyday."

"That must be how they ... cured? ... saved us," Daniel suggested.

"But what is it they actually did?" Sam inquired.

"I have no idea," Daniel answered dryly.

--

"You must rest," Anteaus told his wife.

Saying nothing, Lya let Opher and Nafrayu lead her inside the hut, while Anteaus approached a stunned Jack and confirmed that what SG-1 just witnessed was also how the Nox saved the team.

"You become visible during the ceremony," Teal'c noted.

"When we are performing the Ritual of Life, we are unable to shield ourselves," Anteaus admitted.

"A weakness."

"We are hidden again," the Nox advised.

"You have to let us help you," Jack maintained with added verve.

"You must go to your doorway."

"We've been through this."

"You must go."

"Well, first, we're going to try and find Shak'l."

"There will be no more killing," Anteaus reminded sternly.

"Fine. We won't kill him, but we need to find him."

"If you insist."

"Oh, we do insist," Jack put forth strongly.

"Sir, I think one of us should stay," Carter suggested, giving a slight nod towards the hut where Lya was recovering.

The colonel considered the opinion and ordered, "Teal'c, we'll try to find your protege. Carter, Daniel, stay here and see if you can convince these people we're on their side."

Anteaus was unmoved and simply watched as the colonel and the Jaffa walked away, while Sam immediately headed for the hut to check on the Nox woman.

"He just means ..." Daniel began.

"I know what he means; he is the one who will not listen."

"Anteaus, if you could explain more about your ways. You said you don't fight."

"We don't."

"Then the Goa'uld will kill you, enslave you, or make you hosts. It's not something you want," Daniel pointed out. "How can you stop that?"

"Our ways," Anteaus responded as he walked away to be with his wife for a while.

====

Jack and Teal'c tried to locate Shak'l, but were unsuccessful. They were still searching when Nafrayu appeared and announced that wanted to see a Goa'uld, something Jack argued against. When the youngster vanished, Jack hoped he'd gone to wherever the other Nox were.

It wasn't long after that when Shak'l met up with Apophis and told him what he'd seen, including that it was the Nox who controlled being invisible. The only good part of this event was that at least Jack and Teal'c witnessed the reunion from afar and knew time was more pressing than ever. The teammates returned to the village and continued to do verbal battle with the Nox over SG-1 leaving the planet. The argument ceased when Opher became aware that Nafrayu was missing.

Together, the Nox, including a fully recovered Lya, and SG-1 went in search of the boy, walking through the forest. Anteaus led the way for Jack and Daniel, while Lya and Opher led Sam and Teal'c on a parallel course on the left. They would meet up at a clearing about a mile ahead.

"I told him to go home," Jack reminded.

"I told you the same. The very young do not always do what they are told," Anteaus put forward.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a stare.

~We're not young," Jack argued.

~Yes, we are,~ Daniel replied in his mind.

The two men stared at each other with great uncertainty. Did they each just read the other's mind? That would be insane. This wasn't the first time it happened, though. Daniel was startled to sense an almost telepathic conversation with Jack on their first official mission as SG-1. It was brief, but he knew it happened then, just as it did just now.

Jack just looked away, leaving Daniel to wonder if the colonel experienced the same thing he just did or not.

"Why would they say we're young?" Jack quietly asked as the search continued.

"Because we didn't do what we were told."

"Sure, and leave them here to be destroyed," Jack spoke in frustration. "We're not too young."

"You already said that."

Jack stopped and stared at Daniel again, but then he walked on in the attempt to find the Nox youth.

Where the two paths met, Nafrayu, a victim of the ribbon device, was found by Lya's group. He was crumpled up and lying partially on a log. Lya approached her son to tend to him just as her husband's group arrived on the scene.

Both Jack and Sam sensed there was something not right with how Nafrayu was found, but for the moment, they had no time to analyze the situation. They watched as Anteaus picked up his son, gave them yet another glaring look, and headed back to the village. SG-1 followed.

At the camp, Nafrayu was placed on the same cot Lya was on earlier. The Nox insisted on doing their Ritual of Life to bring the boy back to life. SG-1 pleaded for the return of their weapons, but Anteaus refused.

"The minute you start that ritual, they'll attack," Jack argued.

"Give us our weapons," Sam pleaded. "We can defend you."

"There will be no killing," Anteaus stated.

Angrily, Jack replied, "All right, fine. We'll find our own way back to the Stargate; we're certainly not going to sit around here and watch a slaughter." After a moment, he ordered, "Let's go."

"Jack!" Daniel refuted.

"That's an order."

"Please, we were just ... We were trying to help," the cultural expert begged the Nox.

"Goodbye, Daniel," Anteaus spoke.

Outside of the Nox camp, Daniel caught up with his teammates.

"Think they bought it?" Jack queried.

"Almost believed it myself," Sam said as she sped forward to catch up with her commanding officer.

From the rear, Daniel stammered, "I thought ... gawd, I thought you were ..."

"Serious?" Jack stated. "No way. We're not leaving the Nox here to be killed by those snakeheads. You knew that, didn't you?"

"I ... I thought so, but for a minute there, I ... I guess I wasn't so sure."

"We'll talk about that later."

"We will?"

"Roof deck, beer, pizza, and the stars."

"Oh, well, okay."

Sam looked back at Teal'c, who gave her a slight uplift of his head. Neither had any idea their teammates spent time on Jack's roof eating pizza and drinking beer.

~Daniel said he hates beer,~ Sam thought as she faced forward once again. ~Okay, well, I guess they are getting close.~

====

As SG-1 readied for a fight, Jack wrapped a string around an object, creating a type of blow dart.

"Where did that come from?" Daniel inquired.

"Well, the wee folks missed one. So, Shak'l thinks we're unarmed; Apophis thinks he's invulnerable."

"And ... they're right? I think I found the flaw in your plan."

"Their weapons aren't as effective in close. We'll be better off with hand-to-hand."

Teal'c interjected, "What of Apophis? He is protected by an energy field. We both fired our weapons directly at it."

"Did you see what happened when one of his guards tossed him a staff weapon?"

Sam responded, "Passed right through. So, you're guessing that the shield's deflection capability is directly proportional to the amount of kinetic energy being directed at it?"

"Yeah." Jack stared at his 2IC. ~I wish I could understand her when she talks like that.~

"So, you're saying that an arrow or a dart being much slower in velocity than, say, a bullet ..." Daniel suggested.

"Just might make it through," Sam opined. "It's a big gamble, Sir."

"Yeah. You ready?" the colonel asked of his team. He looked at the archaeologist. ~He understood her, the friggin' genius.~

"As ready as we'll ever be," Daniel answered with raised eyebrows.

"I'll take that."

The team moved into position. Daniel helped cover up Sam with leaves, sticks, and other debris from the forest, while Jack took a position near a rock several yards away. Teal'c was nearby, using a tree for cover while holding a large, heavy piece of wood as a weapon. Daniel, too, hid behind a tree, his breathing heavier than normal from the anticipation of the battle.

"They're coming," the archaeologist warned Teal'c quietly. ~I hope this works.~

~So do I.~

Jack didn't dare move, but his thought startled him greatly. He was responding to his archaeologist, only that didn't make sense. Daniel wasn't nearby. There's no way he could hear anything that wasn't shouted. The colonel shook it off, dismissing it as an oddity before battle.

Teal'c began the assault, attacking one of the personal guard with the wood. Sam attacked another of the guards, using her feet to kick him in the groan before she got up and began hand-to-hand combat with him.

Then Teal'c took possession of the other Jaffa's staff weapon and tossed it to Daniel, who promptly took out another member of the guard. Next, he took out the Jaffa who was fighting with Sam after he got her into a vulnerable position.

Apophis backed slowly away from the action, willing to leave his personal guard behind for safety. Just as he turned around to walk forward, Jack appeared, ready to fire his bow and arrow that was now equipped with the blow dart.

"Fool. I will kill you," the System Lord threatened.

"Again?" Jack released the arrow and grimaced when Apophis vanished just before the arrow struck. "No!" He shouted, "They'll be back!" He stared at the emptiness of the forest. "They won't spare you!"

====

Jack returned to the team and told them what happened.

"They're all gone, Sir," Sam noted about the Jaffa.

"Figures," Jack groaned. "They won't let us help them, and I'm tired of trying. Let's get back to the Gate."

"I hope it's there," Daniel responded.

"Oh, it'll be there. They've been trying to kick us out of here all day. Trust me, Daniel. It'll be there."

SG-1 made their way through the woods and to the open area where the Stargate should be located.

"What the ..." Jack began as the team walked up the hill and got their first sight of the still open meadow.

"Maybe they changed their minds?" Daniel offered.

"Changed their minds? Daniel ..."

"This is where the Stargate should be," Teal'c advised, cutting off the argument as the team walked amid the open field.

All of a sudden, Anteaus appeared and explained, "We sent your enemy through the doorway."

"They'll be back."

"When you are gone, we will bury it," Anteaus professed.

"They'll come in ships next time; they'll bring an army," Jack claimed.

"Perhaps." Just then, Nafrayu appeared next to his father, resulting in smiles all around, especially from Sam. Anteaus also smiled as he explained, "He wanted to wish you farewell."

Jack responded to the youth, saying, "I'm glad you're okay."

"And you. We sent your weapons back through the doorway."

"Yeah, speaking of the Stargate ..."

"You fear for us, yes?" Anteaus questioned.

"Yes," Jack answered simply.

"Why?"

Teal'c answered, "It is our way that the strong defend the weak."

"We're afraid for you," Jack elaborated.

"Before you go, O'Neill, there is something we would have you see," Anteaus said.

The Nox waved his hand, a broad wave as in an arc of a rainbow. Just as suddenly as the Nox disappeared and reappeared, a floating city was seen in the sky. The team turned around in awe, just in time to see a Fenri fly by the city.

"Oh my ..." Jack began.

"Fear not," Anteaus asserted.

SG-1 watched in wonder as more Fenri circled the city. It was beautiful to them.

A kawoosh drew the team's attention and they saw the Stargate was visible again and a wormhole already established.

"Maybe one day you will learn, that your way is not the only way," Anteaus stated before he and Nafrayu disappeared.

Looking back up at the city, Jack asked, "Why didn't he tell us about this before?"

"I think in their way they did," Daniel replied seconds before the city vanished again into safety.

"It appears they possess a form of technology far greater than that of the Goa'uld," Teal'c surmised.

"They looked so helpless," Sam stated.

"And now they're going to bury the Stargate, and we can never come back. We should've listened," Daniel spoke with regret.

"'The very young do not always do as they're told'," Jack repeated. Seeing Sam and Teal'c looking at him curiously, he remarked, "Just a little something the Nox told me one time." He paused, still taking it all in. "Something worth taking home."

One by one, SG-1 walked up the steps and then entered the event horizon to return to Earth, having experienced one very unusual day.

====

It was still nice out when Jack and Daniel took their places on the roof deck that evening. There was a bit of wind coming from the northwest, but the temperature was still in the fifties. The clouds were hanging around, but they still had a clear view of the stars.

As they sat back, side-by-side, against the wall of the house, Jack and Daniel each drew a few sips of beer. Nearby was a tray with crackers, cheese, chips, and cookies on it, which served as dessert after the supreme pizza they'd enjoyed earlier while watching 'The Simpsons' final episode of their eighth season.

"The very young do not always do what they're told," Jack echoed from the visit to the planet.

"I remember," Daniel acknowledged. "I was there."

"What do you think they meant by that?"

"Well, I think they showed us. Jack, we saw a new race that to us seemed very ... innocent."

"They looked like trees."

"They're close to nature," Daniel explained.

"Yeah, but how were we supposed to know they didn't need our help?"

"We could have listened to their words, or just learned from what we saw," Daniel suggested. "I mean, they saved our lives, and we saw them save Lya. That should have told us something."

"Yeah, that they have great medical."

"They learned our language in mere hours, and we found out the invisibility came from the Nox and not the Fenri."

"Okay, they're smart and know how to do magic," Jack rationalized.

"They took our weapons and we never found them, not to mention FRED, and I understand it's very, uh, expensive."

"So what?" Jack returned. "They're good at hiding things, and they did return our equipment, including good ole FRED. I verified that with Hammond before leaving."

"Anteaus said there wouldn't be any killing."

"Wishful thinking."

"Jack, they tried to tell us, but we didn't listen."

"Daniel, what if we had listened? What if we just accepted the Nox at their word? What if we said, "Yeahsureyabetcha! Open the Gate and we'll go home." Jack sighed. "What if we went home and then found out Apophis blew up the entire dang planet? What would you say then?"

"I don't know, but there has to be something in between their words and our complete refusal to believe them."

"Maybe," Jack agreed. "Let me know when you figure out what that is because the trouble with listening, Doctor Jackson, is that sometimes people die."

Daniel focused on his beer heavily, not speaking again until it was finished and he'd opened up another.

"Jack, did anything ... odd happen on the planet?"

"Odd? Haven't we just been talking about odd?"

"No, I mean, did you ever ... hear me?"

"Daniel, I listen to you as much as I can until my brain is about to explode."

"That's not what I meant," Daniel sighed in frustration. "Never mind."

Jack took a few more swigs of his brew and then sighed, "I heard you once when I shouldn't have heard you."

"Yes! Yes, exactly," Daniel replied energetically, his body turning more towards his friend instead of extending outward. "I heard you once, too. Isn't that weird?"

"Strange, but I figure it was the Nox. Maybe being on the planet made us like them a little, sort of in a mind reading via proxy way."

Daniel chuckled at the suggestion, but stranger things happened in his view, so he replied, "It could be that, but it was ..."

"... odd," both men said at the same time.

The night air overtook the conversation that lapsed into peaceful silence for a while. Then Jack decided to clear up an unresolved moment from the mission.

"Daniel, I hope you know I'd never pull us out of situation where innocent people could be harmed if we left."

"Your talking about when you told Anteaus we were leaving."

"Yes," Jack affirmed. "I had to tell him that so we could breathe; maneuver. He would have stopped us if he'd thought we were going to try to take out Apophis."

"You're right," Daniel replied. "I just ... I didn't know ... for sure."

"Well, now you know. It's not my style, or training, to leave folks behind in a vulnerable situation."

"Lesson learned," the archaeologist replied, giving the colonel a sloppy salute in acknowledgment of his words.

Jack laughed and shook his head at the salute and then focused on what snack he wanted to enjoy next.

Minutes passed before Daniel spoke again.

"Lya's special."

"What makes you say that?"

"I don't know. I feel it."

"Oh, have a crush on her, do ya, Dannyboy?" Jack teased.

"Jack, don't be ridiculous," Daniel chastised. "The Nox are special. I'm not sure what else we don't know about them, but I think they have a big story to tell us one day."

"We're never going to see them again," Jack put forth.

"I know they buried the Gate, but I just have this feeling ..."

"Gas," Jack joked.

"Gawd, you're incorrigible," Daniel mused. "I hope you're wrong."

"So do I," Jack admitted. "Nafrayu's a good kid; too curious for his own good, but a good kid."

"Sam liked him a lot."

"She would have brought him home in her hip pocket, if she thought she'd get away with it."

There was a pause, and then Daniel lamented, "We should have listened."

Jack nodded his head and uttered, "Maybe," before opening up a new can of Budweiser beer.

The Nox became a silent thought to the friends as the stars grew more present in the sky. For the next hour, there were no words, just sips of beer and the sound of munching on snacks. There was a bond forming with every second between the two men, one neither understood as yet. They didn't care, either. Rather, they simply enjoyed having another person to share thoughts and experiences with, as they did on this night.

For Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson, there was much more to experience, on other planets and on their own world. The journey would take decades, and it promised to be one they'd never forget, too.

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

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