Welcome to My World

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Drama, Romance, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  8 - June 14-17, 2005
Spoilers:  Covenant
Size:  89kb
Written:  June 3-6, 2017
Summary:  When businessman Alec Colson shows off what appears to be an Asgard, SG-1 has to convince him not to go public with his beliefs.  Meanwhile, Jack and Daniel go about their business, at home and at the Mountain.
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?~

Welcome to My World
by Orrymain

Two hours into his shift at Stargate Command, Daniel was ready for a break.  He wondered if his lover were free to join him in the commissary for a coffee and pastry, so he headed for the general's office.

Jack was three months to the day into his duties as base commander and appeared to be acclimating well to his new role.  He loved being a brigadier general, especially since his paycheck was upped and his parking space was the prized spot of the lot, right near the elevator.

Daniel saw the door was open and entered with a smile that quickly faded once he realized the office was empty.  He looked towards the briefing room, but no one was in there, either.

Just then, Sergeant Walter Davis entered to put a few files on Jack's desk and said, “Gate room.”

“Huh?”

“He's in the gate room,” Davis clarified.

“Oh, uh, is a ... team coming back?” Daniel asked, though he didn't recall a team scheduled for return until later in the day when SG-10 was due back.

“No,” Davis answered with a pointed expression.

“Hmm,” Daniel expressed curiously before exiting the office and walking down the steps to Level 28.  The large doors were open and the archaeologist walked in with his hands in his pockets.  He looked around and found what he was looking for, his husband.  He walked over and leaned backed casually against the wall that was beneath the large window where the control room was located.  “Hey.”

“Hey,” Jack responded as he sat on a crate, his body leaning forward as his hands were clasped together.

“Whatcha' doing?”

“Sitting.”

“I can see that.”  Daniel stared at the Stargate and he knew what was wrong.  “Jack, you can go through anytime you want.”

“Yeah, we said that, didn't we, before I took this gig.  When am I supposed to do that, Daniel?”  Jack sighed and then let out an unhappy grunt.  “I'm too busy choosing toilet paper, keeping that wacky Lee from destroying my base, and dealing with those <big growl> politicians.  Hammond deserves a medal for dealing with the Pentagon and those Kinsey types for all these years.  So you tell me just when I have time to go off-world?”

“Come on,” Daniel urged as he began to walk away.  He looked back and nodded toward the exit with his head as he repeated, “Come on.”

With a sigh, Jack reluctantly stood and followed his lover to the control room.

“Walter, pull up SG-1's mission schedule for the next few weeks.”

Davis did as instructed by the archaeologist and, with Jack at his side, Daniel stood behind the technician and reviewed the list.

“There you go,” Daniel stated, his tone upbeat and a smile on his face.  “PX6-134: basic recon, like in the old days.”

“The old days?”

“Well, until recently, you have to admit we've been more fighting the bad guys then exploring new worlds.  Sam suggested this one a while ago.  It's an address from the Abydos Cartouche.  We don't know what, or who is there.  Like the old days, Jack.  We send the MALP through, make sure there's oxygen ...”

“And trees.  I need trees, Daniel, lots and lots of trees.”
 
Amused, Daniel replied, “I'm sure they'll be trees, Jack.”  He paused and encouraged, “Do it.”

Jack stared into the blue eyes that understood him more completely than any others in existence.

“Walter, pen me in on this one.  I'll be accompanying SG-1 on a recon to 134.”

“You have a meeting scheduled wi...”

“Cancel it.  Postpone.  You take the meeting,” Jack spouted somewhat playfully.  “Friday, June 24, 2005, Brigadier General Jack O'Neill is going off-world.  Make it happen, Walter.  I'm counting on you.”  He smiled and began to back away while saying, “That's an order.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Were you looking for me for a reason, or ...” Jack began as he and Daniel began to walk out.

“Food.  I was thinking coffee and donuts.”

“I'm yours.”

**I know that,** Daniel communicated via the couple's very special private method of talking.

**Love you, Danny.**

**Love you, too.**

====

Later that morning, Daniel was in his office, sitting at his worktable as he worked on some translations.  At the end of the table, his computer was on, set to one of his favorite news sites.  He noticed a press conference was set to air live in a few minutes.  He recognized the name of the company, Colson Aviation, holding the session.  Curious, he turned up the volume and waited for the live feed.

Two minutes later, the conference began when the company's CEO, Alec Colson, arrived at the podium and began speaking.

“Thank you all for coming.  As you all know, about five months ago our planet suffered a horrible tragedy.  Over two-thousand American servicemen and women were killed when a meteor shower disrupted global communications and hit a United States Naval Carrier Group on maneuvers in the Pacific Ocean.  I'm here today to challenge the facts of that incident as they've been conveyed to the general public.  On the day in question, none of our satellites detected a meteor shower.”

~Oh, this isn't good,~ Daniel opined as he watched.

“Hey, what's going on?” Sam asked upon entering the lab.

“Shhh!  Shhh, shhh,” the archaeologist responded.

Seeing Colson on the monitor, Sam leaned in and joined her friend in watching the remainder of the event

“Now, I don't know how many governments around the world are in on this, but I do know we are being lied to and the truth is being covered up,” Colson announced to the media.

“Oh, oh,” Sam sighed as she looked at Daniel, who grimaced.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is life beyond our world.  There are aliens out there and they have a technology far beyond ours and they have been intervening in our existence for quite some time.  I have proof, and I am giving the governments of all the nations that are aware of this, twenty-four hours to reveal the truth, or I'm gonna do it for them.  Thank you.”

“Well.  There you go,” Daniel stated with a smile that indicated he really wasn't amused at all.

“This isn't good.”

“You know him, don't you?”

“Yes, but not that well.”  Sam stood up straight and said, “I'll get Teal'c.  You get the general.”

“I'm betting that if he wasn't watching, he's already hearing about it,” Daniel commented.

“That's why he gets paid the big bucks,” Sam chuckled while backing out of the office.

“Yeah, joy,” Daniel sighed before getting up and heading for Jack's office.

====

“Jack...”

“Don't say it,” Jack interrupted, raising up his hand to stop his lover's words.  “I already have a headache.”  He stood up and walked around his desk.  “I've got to handle something before the Pentagon blows a fuse.”  As he passed Daniel and reached the door, he turned back and said, “That Donovan woman is yakking it up on TV.  Make sure Carter reminds her about the nondisclosure agreement she signed and the repercussions of going against it.  I'll be back in a couple of minutes.”

Daniel looked at his watch and realized that Julia Donovan's show, “Inside Access” was about to start.  He left Jack's office and entered the briefing room where he pulled out the cart that had a large television on the top shelf.  He turned on the TV just as Sam and Teal'c appeared.

“What's on?”

“Look,” Daniel responded.

Julia Donovan was a newswoman SG-1 first encountered in March 2003 when she got wind of the Prometheus.  In exchange for revealing the source of the leak who fed her the information, she was given access to Earth's new spaceship.  However, her news crew was comprised of rogue NID agents who ultimately stole the vessel and launched it, holding Donovan and Daniel hostage.  The day was saved, of course, and the Prometheus returned safely to Earth.

As her TV show aired live, Donovan reported, “For those of you living on another planet for the past twenty years, Alec Colson, age forty-two, net worth over sixty-billion dollars, runs a global empire of companies, including communications, biotechnology, aerospace, and aviation.  He's number eight on the Fortune 500.  He personally holds over two-hundred proprietary patents in both the military and domestic industries.”

Hearing the woman as he walked up the steps, Jack ordered, “Shut it off,” which Sam immediately did.  We know who he is.”  Staring at Sam, he added “Some of us better than others.”

Walking forward, Sam responded, “We worked together briefly, Sir.  Colson Aviation developed the multi-engine control systems for the F-302s.  Colson didn't know what they were for, of course, but he is a brilliant engineer.”

A file in his hand, Jack returned, “He's also a little nuts, isn't he?”

“You've test-flown experimental aircraft,” Sam noted.

“We all go through the Gate,” Daniel added as he walked forward.

“This isn't about us,” Jack refuted, though he tended to agree that they were all a little nuts after all these years.

“Well, in a way, it is,” Daniel asserted.

“The point is, Sir, he's not some looney cult leader.  People are taking him seriously.”

“So, what do we think he knows?” Jack asked has he opened the folder and reviewed a photograph of Colson in flight gear.

“He owns several Earth observer and weather satellites.  Maybe it's possible they picked something up -- pictures of Anubis' fleet in orbit, or the battle over Antarctica,” Sam put forth.

“What I don't understand is how it could have come this far,” Daniel spoke.

Jack remarked, “He's gotten the National Security speech from the Pentagon, several times. Apparently, the President has called him personally.”

“Why not merely tell him the truth?” Teal'c suggested.

Sam answered, “His personality was profiled and he was deemed a security risk.”

“For obvious reasons,” Jack responded.

“Apparently, his father was a newspaper reporter who was jailed during the McCarthy era.  He believes pretty strongly in the freedom of speech and the rights of the people to know what the government is doing at all times,” Daniel stated.

“Leaking classified information could be considered treason,” Sam spoke.

Jack tapped his fingers against the folder several times, ordered, “Alright, see if he can be convinced *not* to go public,” and turned to go to his office.

“Without actually *telling* him anything?” Daniel called out.

“Right!” Jack affirmed as he raised his right hand that held the file in his hand.

“He doesn't ask for much, does he?” Daniel sighed.

“No more than General Hammond asked of him,” Sam put forth, getting a nod from Daniel in response.  “I'll check on transportation.”

“Okay.  I'll be in my office.”

Sitting on a table in the corner of the briefing room, where he'd been the entire time, Teal'c contemplated for a moment and said to no one, since no one was nearby, “True warriors ...”  He paused briefly.  “... and voluble.”

====

Sam went to the control room to make contact with personnel at Peterson Air Force Base to see if there was transportation available to take her and Daniel to Seattle.  Hitching a ride was often speedier than using commercial sources.  She felt uneasy about the trip, though, so, as she awaited a reply, Sam decided to discuss her misgivings with the base commander.

Entering Jack's office through the briefing room, Sam addressed, “Sir.”

Jack was standing behind his desk, looking at a file.  He didn't look up.

Standing opposite the general with the desk between them, Sam began, “Colson and I worked together briefly.”

Looking up, Jack acknowledged, “I know,” and sat down.

“It was strictly professional.”

~Geez, Carter, I really don't care about your love life.  I just want you to have a life, and Shanahan already has my vote,~ Jack cogitated.  Focusing on his work, he replied, “I'm sure it was.”

“I just don't understand what we could say to him that the President hasn't already said.”

~She's gonna push it; wouldn't want her to change.~  Jack pondered for a moment and opted to be honest with the blonde.  “Well, it's not so much what we can say as ... what we can do.”

“Sir?”

“There may come a time when we  need to discredit any information he may or may not have.”

~I knew it,~ Sam complained inwardly as she looked down and made an unhappy face.  “By 'we', you mean me.”

“I want him to know what he's up against.”  Jack leaned back and continued, “Look, Carter, if you like this Colson guy, then get him to go along.  The President and the Pentagon want this to go away, pronto.  They're gonna keep pressuring him any way they can.”  After a couple of seconds, he leaned inward slightly and urged, “Come on, Carter.  We've been here before.  Colson's just the latest who needs to get in line.”

“Get in line ... Sir?”

“Yeah, I know.  Ironic, isn't it?  I never liked getting in line, but now I'm the man, Colonel, and that means sometimes I have to go along in getting you to go along.  Capiche?”

With regret, Sam answered, “Yes, Sir.”

“Colonel Carter?” Sergeant Davis called out from the doorway.  “You have a call from the transportation chief at Peterson.”

“Thank you, Sergeant Davis.  I'll be right there,” Sam responded.  She looked across the desk at the general.  “Thank you for listening.”

“Anytime.”

Jack watched Sam leave and veer to the left to go to the control room.

~Sometimes, I hate this job,~ Jack lamented before returning to his work.

====

“Daniel, we need to go.  Peterson doesn't have anything we can use right now, so ...”

“Commercial?”

“Yeah, and if we leave now, we have just enough time to get to the airport in Denver.  I'll have to call Alec from the plane.”

“What if he's not there?”

“I'm pretty sure he's sticking close to his office.”

“That would make sense since he's promised to tell the world ... something.”

“Okay, well, do you have everything you need here?”

“Oh, yeah.  There's always a standby suit,” Daniel mused.

“Meet me at the elevator on Level 11 in fifteen.”

“Okie dokie,” Daniel agreed.  **Jack, gotta go.**

**Come say goodbye.**

**No time, Babe.  Uh, don't forget to take out the trash.**

**You're leaving town and the one thing you say is to remind me to take out the trash.**

**Okay, how about this ...**

A minute later, the general dropped the papers he was holding.  It was suddenly very hot and the promise of what would happen at nightfall threatened to disrupt the rest of his workday.

====

“Looking good, Sam,” Daniel complimented when he saw his friend outfitted in a white jacket and skirt with a black scoop-neck blouse and matching black high heel shoes.

“You're looking good yourself, Daniel,” Sam observed as she reached out and tugged lightly on the lapel of his charcoal gray suit jacket.  “Love the tie.”

Daniel looked down at his decorative paisley tie and asked, “Too much?”

“No,” Sam said as she shook her head.  “It goes great with the shirt,” she extolled about his white and light blue striped shirt.  ~He always looks so yummy dressed up.~  The blonde flashed back to her first meeting with Daniel.  She'd quickly developed a crush on him and every now and then she'd reflected on the what if's of life.  That was always easy for her to do when he wore a suit.  ~BDUs are not exactly the most attractive outfits,~ she mused while thinking about how she most often saw Daniel attired.

“It reminds Jack of symbiotes,” Daniel revealed.

“I'm surprised you wear it then,” Sam said as the two entered the elevator that just arrived on the transfer level where personnel either went down to the lower classified levels or up to the parking lot and/or levels maintained by NORAD.

“I don't, not when he's around, usually,” Daniel responded.  “It was a gift, so ...”

“Yeah, I can't throw out presents, either.”  Sam studied the tie and shook her head a few times.  “I don't see it.”

“Neither do I, but Jack has a more vivid imagination than he wants anyone to know.”

“I'll buy that.”

====

On the plane, Sam called Colson Aviation and explained there was an urgent need for a meeting with the CEO this afternoon.  There was no hesitancy in setting the appointment.  Both Colson and his business partner, Brian Vogler, would be present.

“Why the frown?” Daniel asked when Sam disconnected the call.

“It was too easy, Daniel.  They want us to come.”

“Why?”

“I don't know, but I would have thought that after all the pressure from the Pentagon and the President that they would have at least tried to postpone the meeting.”

“Maybe he just wants to see you again,” Daniel postulated with a bright smile.

“Pete wouldn't like that very much,” Sam opined about her fiance of mere days.

“I forgot,” Daniel chuckled.  “No ring.”

“We're working on it.  Our schedules make it tough sometimes.”

“I hear that.”

There was a minute of silence before Sam sighed and explained, “I met Alec because the government hired his company to work on the multi-engine control systems.  We had lunch a couple of times, but that's it.  I don't know anything about him except that he's a brilliant engineer.”

“You said that earlier.”

“Well, it's the truth, Daniel.  I admire his brain, and Colson Aviation really came through for us.”

“I'm just giving you a hard time, Sam.”

“I know, but the general seemed ... something.”

“He likes Pete,” Daniel put forth.

“You think he's afraid I'll hook up with Alec?”

“I wouldn't say afraid, but he really wants you to get a life and now that you've found Pete ...”

“Oh, he's afraid I'll lose it before I've got?”

“Something like that.”

“Talk about us being nuts,” Sam chuckled as she thought back to one of Jack's statements in their meeting.

“Touché.”

====

Three hours later, Daniel and Sam stood at the counter of a rental car company.

“We'd like a car, please, just for today,” Daniel requested of the female agent.

Looking at her computer, the agent advised, “We have a 2005 Nissan Versa, a 2004 Chevrolet Impala, and a 2004 Land Rover available.”

“We'll take ...”

Sam interrupted, “Do you have anything more sporty?”

“Sporty?” Daniel asked with a lilt in his voice.

“The Air Force is paying.  We might as well make use of it, right?”

“Right.”

“How about a 2004 Ford Mustang Convertible?” the agent asked.  “It's hot red,” she added enticingly.

“We'll take it,” Sam stated with a happy grin.

Once the paperwork was done, the teammates walked out into the parking area to pick up the rental vehicle.

“Uh, Daniel,” Sam called out once they reached the good-looking car.

The archaeologist had the keys in his hands and was about to get in the driver's seat when he heard his name and reacted by saying, “Ah, come on, Sam, not that again.”

“I'm driving,” the woman asserted as she yanked the keys out of Daniel's hand.

“There are no sand dunes anywhere.”

“Good,” Sam responded as she ignored Daniel's lament and settled into the driver's seat.

“You're never going to let me live down Egypt, are you?” Daniel asked as he referred back to the jeep ride in the desert during which Sam claimed he drove like a maniac and then vowed never to let him drive her anywhere again.

As Daniel opened the passenger door, Sam mused, “Actually, Daniel, I just want to drive this one.  Besides, I let you drive last year.”

“That was an SUV,” Daniel pointed out.

“So?  You drove.”

“Drive,” Daniel instructed as he reached out with his right hand and wiggled his fingers to indicate forward momentum.  “I get to drive on the way back.”

“Next time,” Sam countered with a broad smile.

“Sometimes, Sam, you're worse than Jack.”

Laughing, the two friends set off for the Colson Industries Building and their meeting with Alec Colson.

====

On the top floor of the building, Daniel and Sam entered the CEO's office.

“Lieutenant Colonel,” a smiling Colson greeted as he shook hands with Sam.

“Alec.”

“Radiant as ever.”

Extending his hand, Daniel introduced, “Daniel Jackson”

Excitedly, Colson responded, “Oh, Doc!  I'm a big fan.”

“Really?”

“*Yes*, I've been following you since your early career.  Pyramids as landing pads for alien ships?  Fascinating.”

“Uh, yeah, that was a long time ago.”

“Yeah, what have you been up to since?  It's like you just dropped off the map.”

“I've been around.”

After more niceties and introducing Vogler, Colson led the teammates to the another part of his office where he had a television and other monitors set up.  He showed them images of Anubis' fleet while in orbit over Earth.  Slowly, he continued to zoom the footage until finally a crystal clear picture of the Prometheus was visible.

Vogler explained, “We lost contact with twelve communications and weather mapping satellites for over six hours on the day in question.  When we got them back online, they were able to transmit images stored in the buffers.”

“Images like these can be faked,” Sam asserted.

“Or made to seem fake,” Colson countered.  “I know why you're here, Sam.  The Pentagon wants me to know that people like you are going to be trying to make me look like a fraud.”

“People like me?”

“Very smart people.”

The back and forth continued, but nothing said changed Colson's mind.  Even his business partner claimed he'd tried to stop Colson from his current path without success.

“That went well ... not,” Daniel spoke as he and Sam headed downstairs.

“Those images were pretty clear.  We're going to have a hard time disproving them.”

As the two arrived at the doors, Sam's cell phone rang.  It was Julia Donovan.

“How did you get this number?” the lieutenant colonel asked as she and Daniel continued walking to their rental car.

“I have my sources.  Our camera track just caught you and that nice looking Daniel Jackson going into Colson Industries' head office in Seattle an hour ago.  I just saw the feed.”

“And?” Sam prompted.

“Just wondering if you had an official comment.”

Sam sparred with the investigative reporter and, in the process, reminded Donovan of the nondisclosure agreement she signed, which didn't seem to faze the reporter much.

“We had an agreement,” Donovan stated.  “You said that if something big was going to break you would call me first.”

“I will, okay?” Sam, now seated in the car, responded and then disconnected the call as she spoke a disingenuous, “Bye, bye.”

In the passenger seat, Daniel held his smartphone and advised, “I've got thirteen messages from Emmett Bregman.”

Sam sighed before starting the car.

“Are you going to call him back?” Sam asked about the journalist who made a documentary of sorts on Stargate Command a year earlier.

“I don't think so,” Daniel replied.  He looked at his watch and noted, “We might not make the return flight.”

“Yes, we will,” the blonde asserted with confidence.

====

As Sam drove the Mustang with the top down towards the airport, Daniel reflected, “He knew who I was.”

“That's not surprising, Daniel, considering his views on extraterrestrial life being out there.”

 “I'm just wondering if he thought it was ironic that someone's whose theories made him a laughingstock in Academia was trying to convince him not to go public with something that could support his position.”

“I don't think so, Daniel.  He had the goods, and he knew it.”  Sam honed in on the archaeologist's thoughtful silence.  “What are you thinking?”

“Well, the photographs don't mean much.  Photoshopping is too commonplace.  It would be a 'he said, they said' kind of thing and probably would become part of the UFO debate.”

“Like Area 51.”

“Exactly.”  Daniel drew a breath and continued, “He said he had more.”

“What could he have?”

“I don't know, a, a, a piece of debris maybe?  I mean, how can we be sure the cleanup got it all.”

“We can't,” Sam acknowledged.

“I guess we'll find out tomorrow.”  Daniel checked his watch and then glanced over at the speedometer.  “We're not going to make it.”

“Oh, yes we will,” a confident Sam expressed as she put the pedal to the metal.

Time was of the essence.  If the two arrived in time, they could catch a flight directly to Colorado Springs instead of having to land in Denver and drive to the Springs.  Both were eager to see their significant others who were waiting for them.  That was extra motivation for Sam to make good time in the drive to the airport.

====

Running through the airport, Daniel and Sam managed to make the flight to Colorado Springs just in the nick of time.  As they boarded, Daniel worked hard not to laugh.

“Daniel, you can't tell him,” Sam insisted as she sought out their seats.  “Come on.”

The archaeologist had a sweet yet sly smile of innocence on his face, something Sam noticed when she glanced behind her to see why Daniel hadn't responded verbally.

“What do you want?” Sam sighed.

“Next time, *I* pick the car and *I* drive and you don't say a word, not one word, Sam.”

Sam groaned as she settled into her seat by the window.

“Or not,” Daniel stated as he sat and looked forward at a flight attendant who was having trouble storing luggage in one of the overhead storage bins.

“You wouldn't really tell him,” Sam cajoled.  “Oh, all right.”

“Deal?” Daniel offered as he stuck out his hand.

“Deal,” Sam agreed as she shook the man's hand to seal the deal.

“I told you were speeding.”

With a pleased expression and a happy shrug, Sam asked, “What's a girl to do when she's about to miss her plane *and* a hot date with her boyfriend.”

“Fiance,” Daniel corrected.

“Oh, yeah.  I forgot,” Sam chuckled.

“You're lucky that policeman got a call or you would have gotten two speeding tickets.”

“I didn't want to miss the flight.”

Sam let her head fall back against the headrest and let out a painful groan.

“You okay?”

“No,” came the quick response.  “When was the last time you ran through an airport like that in high heels?”

'Uh, never.”

“Talk about nuts,” Sam commented, again referring back to the general's remark earlier that day.  “The inventor of high heels should be forced to wear them and run like that, all day.”

“No one says you have to wear them.  They're not healthy for your feet.”

“Tradition, Daniel.”

Sam and Daniel both chuckled and were glad when the plane took off as scheduled.  The teammates would be home late, but Sam already called Pete and he said they'd have a stay-at-home date, which pleased her, and Daniel was just as eager to get home to husband and their own at-home date.

====

“Hey, Babe,” Daniel greeted when he arrived home and found his husband lying on the sofa while reading the latest edition of the National Geographic.  He sat down on the sofa cushion's rim and leaned over for a welcome home kiss.  “Thank you for remembering to put out the trash.”

“A general's work is never done,” Jack teased as he tossed the magazine over to the coffee table.  “Any problems?”

“Only if you consider the fact that Alec Colson isn't going to change his mind a problem.”

“What's his problem?”

“A belief that the people have a right to complete access to any and all information held by their government.”

“Treasonous,” Jack returned.  “Okay, that's the official end of the workday.  The case of should the world know about the Stargate is hereby postponed until tomorrow morning.  Any objections?”

“None here.”  Daniel looked around and asked, “Where are the girls?”

“When last seen, they were happily chasing two squirrels. They were losing and the squirrels were perched on a branch, taunting them.”

“At this hour?”

“A squirrel's quest for nuts is never done,” Jack joked.

“I'm going to check on them,” Daniel advised as he stood.  “Uh, food?  I assume you ate dinner.”

“Nah, I waited for you.  Chinese delivery?” Jack asked.

Daniel smiled and asked, “Missed me, huh?”

“Always, My Love,” the general assured as he sat up.  “Do you want anything specific?”

“Surprise me!”

Jack rose and started for the phone when he stopped and called out, “Danny, we got a notice about the cable bill going up next month.”

“What else is new?”

“Utilities are going up in September.”

“Thrilling,” the archaeologist replied sarcastically.  “Any other good news?”

“The dog ate today's newspaper.”

“Not Bijou and Katie.  I don't believe that, Jack.”

“Not our girls, but some dog did somewhere.  Take a look,” Jack suggested as he pointed at the still-rolled up newspaper.

Daniel walked over and reviewed the multiple rips that seemed to support the theory that a dog's teeth cut into the paper repeatedly.  Miscellaneous tears also indicated the paper was the victim of some abuse.

“There's always the TV,” Daniel replied.

“News at ten.”

“It's after ten already.”

“News ... in the morning,” the silver-haired man chimed.

As Daniel opened the patio door, Jack called out, “Oh, turn off the hose, will ya?”

“The ... Jack, why did you leave the water running?”

“Brown, Daniel, brown, as in a brown patch along the fence.”

“Yeah, I noticed that the other day, but I don't think it's from a lack of water,” Daniel responded.

“From what then?”

“Chinch bugs,” Daniel answered.  “Uh, I saw Mitzi Miller at the store the other day and she mentioned they were having brown patch problems.  They called in pest control to handle it.”

“We just need to water more over there.”

“You sure?”

“The sprinkler head that sprays there was broken.”

“Okay then.  More water,” Daniel agreed.  “Be right back.”

A couple of minutes later, the archaeologist returned with the two beagles in tow.

“Still staring at the squirrels?” Jack asked as he stood by the bookshelf.

“They weren't there when I went out, but the girls were both looking up.”

“You'll get them next time,” Jack encouraged the dogs.

“Woof!” Bijou confirmed.

“No getting the squirrels,” Daniel refuted.  “You may bark at them for a few minutes and you can chase them all over the place, if you like, but you will *not* get them.  Okay?  I mean, uh, they have a right to live, too, you know.”

Bijou and Katie exchanged a look and then Bijou let out an unexcited but amiable, “Woof.”

Jack chuckled as the dogs headed over for the beanbag to relax from their squirrel watching adventure.  He refocused on the shelves.

“What do you think, 'Texas Vendetta' or 'Fireshadow'?”

“I have no idea.”

“Western or military?”

“Western,” Daniel answered.

“By what logic?”

“Jack, you're a general.  All we do all day long are military-related tasks.  Don't you want to take a little break from it when reading for leisure?”

Jack examined another part of the shelf and asked, “'Snow Music' or 'Cliff Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe'?”

Daniel stared at his smirking husband and sighed, “Military.”

Jack laughed.  His lover most always chose to read some type of archaeology book, be a source book or fictional piece, when seeking to relax.  Thus, he'd just made his point.  Even so, the book Jack chose was the western novel, which Daniel noticed and rolled his eyes upon seeing.

“Danny, Lou called earlier.  He wants some help with the MonsterMobile on Saturday.  I thought I'd help him out in the morning.”

“No plans?”

“Me?”  With a smile, Daniel answered, “Sleep.  I'm going to sleep in.”

“Mickey D's for me then,” Jack replied, figuring he'd go to McDonald's for breakfast on the way to Lou Ferretti's house.

Once their late night dinner was consumed and the dishes cleared, Daniel admitted, “Babe, I'm exhausted.”

“Bed?”

“Yeah.”

“Sleep?”

“Tonight, yes.”

“It's probably the smart choice.  We need to be sharp while we deal with this Colson mess.”

With that, Jack and Daniel locked up the house, made sure the girls took care of business, and then headed upstairs to get a good night's sleep.

====

The following day, Jack and SG-1 were back at work, mostly doing their regularly scheduled duties, except for Daniel who decided to research Colson Industries.  That is, until “Inside Access” aired mid-morning.

“Anything yet?” Daniel asked as he entered the briefing room where Jack was standing near the TV on the cart.

“Apparently, there's trouble in paradise for George and Lisa.”

Blinking several times as he waved the papers and folders in his hands, Daniel replied, “What?”

“Clooney and Snowden: history.”

“Oh, okay,” the archaeologist acknowledged, still not having a clue what his lover was talking about.  “I think these ...”

“Has it started it?” Sam asked when she and Teal'c walked into the room.  “Sorry, Daniel,” she said as an aside, realizing she'd interrupted him.

“It's okay.”

“Not yet,” Jack answered while monitoring the “Inside Access” program as they awaited Colson's promised news conference.

“Well, he's gotta have something more significant than pictures,” Sam asserted.

“I'm going over government contracts assigned to Colson's companies over the last few years.  I haven't got through them all yet, but there's quite a few loosely related to R and D of alien technologies that we procured off-world.”

At that point, Jack turned up the volume, seeing the Colson Industries logo appear on the screen.

“We'll now head to Colson Industries,” Donovan announced.

“Welcome, and thank you for coming,” Colson began as he stood at the podium.

“Twenty-four hours to the minute,” Sam observed after checking her watch.

“Yesterday, I told you of our belief in the existence of intelligent life beyond our planet.  I also told you that we believe several governments, including our own, have known about this and have been concealing the information for quite some time now.  Yesterday, I challenged those governments to come clean; reveal the truth.  We got only silence, which gives me no choice but to present to you what evidence I have.  How do I know for sure that alien life really does exist?  Ladies and gentlemen, seeing is believing.”

A door opened and an Asgard-like creature entered the room where the press conference was occurring.

“Well, I'd call that something,” Jack stated.

“That's impossible,” Sam opined.

“But we just saw it, an Asgard,” Daniel negated.

“I have to talk to the President,” Jack interjected.  “Daniel, contact the little gray butt and see if he knows anything about a missing Asgard.”

“Sure,” Daniel acknowledged as he watched Jack return to his office and shut the door.  To his teammates, he inquired, “How are we going counter this one?”

Sam's eyes widened and her shoulders raised up as she shook her head while feeling bewildered and uncertain about what to do next.

“I'm ... going back to my office to finish reviewing these files.”

“Teal'c, how about a workout?”

“As you wish, ColonelCarter.”

====

A while later, Daniel went to the control room just in time to see the Stargate's final chevron engage and the kawoosh thunder in the gate room below.  He stood behind Sergeant Davis' chair, his arms folded across his chest, and smiled.  He could see Jack speaking with SG-10 and though he couldn't hear the words being said, he knew what they were.  They were the same ones so often spoken by General Hammond to SG-1.

“SG-10, you have a go to PX9-552.  God speed,” Jack told the leader who nodded and led his team through the Stargate on a standard recon mission.  With the team away and the Stargate again at the ready, the general glanced up and saw his husband smiling downward.  **What are you grinning at?**

**You.  You just wished them God speed, right?**

**Yeah.  I learned from the best,** Jack replied, referring to General Hammond.

**See ya later, Babe.  I have work to do.**

**Me, too.  It's time to order new linens for the VIP rooms.  What do you think, Danny, tan or magenta?**

Amused, Daniel just waved at his Love and went about his business.

====

Two hours later, Daniel was at his desk in his office when Jack entered, looking like a schoolboy carrying notebooks full of homework.  The general plopped the eight folders down in front of Daniel, covering up the reference book the linguist was using while researching an artifact found on a world known as Catina.

“What are those?”

“Personnel files, complete with performance reviews, all of which need to be done by the end of the day.”

“Why are they on my desk?”  Daniel saw the smirk and found it alarming.  “Jack, I'm not doing these for you.”

“Why not?  You're a department head.”

“That's the point.  I did the appraisals and made recommendations for promotions, advancements, and pay raises.  The rest is up to you.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Then why are they on my desk?”

“Because each one of your recommendations has to be reviewed again before they can be approved and each approval has to have comments about why they are approved.”

“Who said that?”

“Walter.”

“Are you sure he's not pulling your leg?  I mean, all General Hammond did was sign off on them, didn't he?”

“After reviewing them, yes.”

“I'm lost.”

“Daniel, review the files.  Make a cheat sheet.  I'll copy and sign.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel, I hate paperwork.  Are any of your recommendations out of line?”

“Of course not.”

“And you want them approved.”

“Of course I do.”

“Then help me out.”

“Jack.”

“Ah, there is one more reason to give me a hand with this.”

“What's that?”

“This,” Jack said as he held up the one file he'd kept for himself.  “It's a performance appraisal that *I* have to do.”

“Whose?” Daniel inquired hesitantly.

“The Head of Archaeology's.”

Jack's smile was huge and menacing, in a sly way.

“You're incorrigible.”

“Your point?”

“Gawd,” Daniel responded, laughing in spite of himself as he took the first file and opened it.  He tossed it to Jack and instructed, “I'll give you the bullet point summaries.  You write what you want.”  He paused and began, “Megan Williams.  She's the best civilian on my staff.  We were up and running after the fight with Anubis in half the time we would have been without her.  When I'm not available, she's in charge and she does her job well.  Recommendation: advancement to GS-13, middle tier pay.”

Daniel waited until Jack was done writing and signed his name in the appropriate spot.  He picked up the next file to see the name before tossing it across the desk to his lover.

“Joanie Campbell.  Reliable, diligent, always willing to stay until the job is done.  She broke the code that allowed us to translate the Whizado language on P92-790.”

“A whiz kid,” Jack quipped.

“Recommendation: advancement to GS-11, middle tier pay.”

On it went for the next twenty minutes until all eight approvals were properly noted and signed.

“Thanks, Daniel,” Jack stated as he stood.

“Jack.”

“Yeah?”

“Why did you really bring those appraisals here?  We both know whatever you just did, you didn't really have to do.”

“I learned more about your staff this way without all the minutia that clouds up the reports.”

“You mean you got to the point without having to read the recs in full?” Daniel suggested with raised eyebrows.

“It worked, didn't it?”  Jack smiled and added, “Danny, you think you write a lot in these things.  Have you ever read one of Carter's performance reviews?  There's so much technobabble in it that I'm asleep before I get to the end of the second sentence.”

“Did you get Sam to do this, too?”

“You were my test run.  It sets the precedent.  Carter's next.”

Daniel laughed and repeated, “You're incorrigible.”

“Just the way you like me.”

“Yeah, you got me there.”

With a grin, Jack picked up the files and left his lover's office.

====

“General, you wanted to see me?”

Jack rose from his seat and answered, “Yes, I did,” as he walked to the door and closed it.  “Colonel Sloan, you're new here and I appreciate how you've jumped in and taken over for Major Harper while he's on temporary assignment elsewhere.” As he returned to his desk, Jack saw the man was standing in a formal at ease position and waved it off, saying, “At ease, Colonel.  Relax.”

The brigadier sat down and waited for the man to settle into a more comfortable stance before continuing.

“We do things a little differently here at SGC.  We never know what we're going to find when we're out there.  Of course, I'd love it if every mission resulted in a find of some new weapon to add to our arsenal.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sloan responded, not hiding his smile since he felt the same way.

“Sometimes, Colonel, what we find on a mission are a different kind of weapon and even if we don't understand them personally, we have to appreciate how they might play a part in other areas of service.”

“I'm not sure I understand, General.”

Jack opened the file on his desk in which he scribbled one word during the debriefing with Sloan's SG-4 unit earlier in the day.

“Major Travis reported in the debrief that your team ran across some relics -- pots and pans, tools, and some tablets in a language he didn't understand.”

“Yes, Sir.  They weren't anything important; junk, General.  None of it was in good condition.  The tablet just had scribbles on it.”

“I didn't know you had a degree in languages, especially ancient languages.”

“I ... don't.”

“Then you've studied archaeology, anthropology, or maybe ancient cultures.”

“No, General, I haven't.  Sir, what's this about?”

“Respect, Colonel,” Jack answered, pointing at the word he'd written during the debriefing.  “You don't have a friggin' idea what those relics were, Colonel, or what they might tell us about 314,” he said, referring to the last three digits of the planet's designation.

“It was junk.”

“You don't know that.  As important as finding weaponry and medical advances to help Earth, is learning about planets, their history, their culture, their civilization.  We've learned a lot from scribbles on tablets.  Those relics should have been preserved, marked, and logged.  Your report should have included their presence and a recommendation for an archaeology team or representative to follow up.  Colonel, Major Travis did you a favor.”

“In what way?”

“His report included what yours did not, the find of these relics.”

“General, there wasn't anything there.”

“That's not for your decide,” Jack countered.  “Your job is to explore and report back *all* finds, Colonel, not just the weapons.  From now on, I expect you to do just that and in the meantime, SG-4 will return to 314 at 0830 hours on Monday.  Doctor Jackson will be accompanying you.  You will listen to every word he says and learn, Colonel.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Dismissed.”

Sloan came to attention and saluted, which prompted Jack to sigh and simply order, “Go,” accompanied by a wave of his right hand towards the door.  When the man reached the door, Jack called out, “Sloan.  If you don't make changes in how you deal with similar situations in the future, you won't last here very long.  You may want to keep that in mind.”

Jack's stare was pointed, causing the man to feel the emotional heat.  He nodded and left the office.

The general reached for the phone and dialed his lover's office.

“Hello,” Daniel greeted.

“Daniel, I have an assignment for you, and I think you're going to like it,” Jack announced with a smile.

The archaeologist was instantly curious, and a smile grew on his face as he heard all about Colonel Sloan and Jack's idea for handling the man's lack of respect for things not related to weaponry.

“I've sent you a copy of Travis' report.  Have fun.”

“I will,” Daniel promised.  He looked at his watch and queried, “Forty minutes?”

“Barring a calamity or another call from President,” Jack agreed about when the two would leave the Mountain for the evening.

“You've had more than one?”

“This Colson matter is getting prime treatment, but let's not dwell.  Ah, and there he is now.  Later.”

The call disconnected, so Daniel checked his email on the computer and found Jack's attachment.  Putting aside his ongoing study of Colson Industries, the archaeologist centered in on Travis' report and made plans for the Monday morning recon and unofficial retraining of Sloan's attitude.

====

Not wanting to cook, Jack and Daniel ordered pizza for delivery and ate their fill with soda as their beverage of choice.  Afterward, Jack relaxed on the sofa in his study, reading more chapters of “Texas Vendetta” while Daniel watched a documentary on PBS.

When the show ended, Daniel got up and stretched and found himself wandering into the small plant room near the front of the house.  It was loaded with various plants of different sizes.

“Oops.”  The archaeologist left the room and went to the study, though he didn't enter.  “Babe, we forgot to water the plants this week.  Wanna help?”

“I can handle that,” Jack agreed as he closed his book and joined his lover in ensuring the plants were well watered for another week.

The couple enjoyed their time watering the plants and they both talked to the greenery.  It wasn't that Jack believed in the power of communicating with plants, but Daniel did.  They'd once had a big fight over the issue, but since then, Jack was sure to speak politely to the plants, if only to make his soulmate happy.  Nowadays, it was a chance to totally relax.  Sometimes, as they did tonight, they'd sit down against the wall at the front of the house and snuggle.  It was peaceful and the space felt extra clear and refreshing to them.

“Listen to that,” Jack said as he heard the thunder.

“It won't last long.”

“What makes you so sure?”

“I watched the news.”

A game of chess, which Daniel won, and a romantic dance later, the lovers went to bed, cuddling until they fell asleep.

====

Early the next morning, Sam was in Daniel's office.  The science twins were again attempting to figure out a solution to the current situation plaguing the United States government.  Daniel was still reviewing the reports about Colson Industries when his phone rang.

“Would you get that, Sam?”

“Sure.”  After taking the call and learning the reason for it, Sam hung up and advised, “Well, we just got a message back from Thor.  As far as he knows, there are no Asgard currently on Earth.”

“Though Loki was here for years conducting experiments without the High Council knowing about it.”

“Okay, here's a possibility,” Sam began as she stood and walked over to the table where the archaeologist was working.  “What if ...” Sam leaned forward, her hands resting on some of Daniel's books, “... it wasn't really an Asgard?”

Looking at Sam, Daniel responded, “Looked like one.”

“Didn't sound like one.”

“Didn't say anything.”

“That's my point,” Sam stated.  “Colson wrapped things up pretty quickly without taking any questions.”

“It was a perfect likeness.”

“Imagery of little gray aliens has been commonplace on Earth for years.  For that matter, Colson could have a picture.”

“So, not a real Asgard?” the archaeologist surmised.

“No Asgard we know would allow himself to be used that way.”

“It did look a little vacant.”

“Still, as much as he wants the whole truth, I don't think Colson would perpetrate a hoax to get it,” Sam opined.

“Then what was it?”

“I don't know.”

“Sam, when Colson Aviation was working on the F-302s engine systems, could they have gotten their hands on anything they shouldn't have?”

“That's a very good question.  I'll see what I can find out,” Sam said as she straightened.  “Can you ...”

“Yeah, I'll update Jack.”

With a nod, Sam left the room.

====

A few minutes later, Daniel entered Jack's office and brought him up to speed.

“Okay,” Jack groaned.

“Headache?”

“Every time I have to call the Pentagon, I get one.”

“You're exaggerating.”

“Technicality,” Jack whined.  He checked his watch.  “Briefing in one hour.  I need answers, Daniel.”

“Workin' on it,” the archaeologist replied before leaving his Love's office.

====

Meanwhile, Colson, Vogler, and their assistant were discussing their perception on how things were going.  They were fully aware that the creature they had in their midst was mobile, but couldn't say a word, even though his larynx was similar to humans.

“Look, we're trying to build a circumstantial case here,” Colson put forth.  “The more questions we can raise, the more the burden of proof is gonna shift to Washington.  Sooner or later, they're gonna have to respond to the public pressure.  Meanwhile, we stay quiet.  The media's going nuts over this whole thing.  So, let's just sit tight and see what happens.”

====

“Walter,” Jack called out as he walked swiftly out of his office and nearly ran into the man as he was entering, apparently anticipating Jack's needs.

“Yes, Sir?”

“I wish you wouldn't do that.”

“Do what, General?”

“Never mind.  Get Thor on the line.”

Davis nodded and began to walk away.

“And no leaving a message,” the general ordered loudly.  “I need to talk to him.”

A few minutes later, Davis called Jack and advised that communication with the Asgard was established.  Jack immediately went to the device that linked the two races.

“Thor, how ya doin', buddy?”

“What is it you need, O'Neill?”

“You.”

“Is this regarding the Asgard Doctor Jackson inquired about?”

“It is.  Thor, we have a situation, and we need your help.”

“Again?”

“Hey, we've saved your butt a few times, remember?”

“We are grateful.”

“Good because this can't wait.  You can call us even ... again when this is wrapped up.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“You.  Here, in the briefing room in,” Jack checked his watch, “twenty minutes.  Is it a date?”

“Should I bring you a corsage, O'Neill?”

“Thor, you used humor.  Way to go, buddy!”

“Twenty minutes,” Thor stated before ending the transmission.

“There may be hope for the Asgard, yet,” Jack teased as he looked at Davis before returning to his office.

====

Eager to get things underway, Jack walked into the briefing room and looked around.

~They're late.  So is Thor.  Maybe I can have some fun.~

Jack sat down and waited until SG-1 finally arrived.

“Well, Sam was right,” Daniel stated while walking to his seat.  Before he sat, he opened a folder and put it down on the table in front of Jack.  “There's something different about Colson's Asgard.  Seems that a Colson biotech research company was given a copy of Asgard DNA for sequencing.”

Now seated next to Daniel, Sam expounded, “We were trying to help with their cloning problem.”

“Colson grew a clone?” Jack questioned.

“They weren't told it was alien DNA,” Daniel answered.  “It was meant to be a blind study, but they obviously took their research a little further than the contract specified.”

Sam added, “Asgard DNA is programmed to grow a clone to maturity in just three months, but they're essentially an empty shell until an existing consciousness can be transferred into them.”

Then Teal'c stated, “It did not speak because it was not capable.”

“Exactly,” Sam affirmed.  “They probably spent what time they had with it teaching it how to walk.”

Closing the folder, Jack stated, “Well, the Pentagon has lost all patience.”

“What are they gonna do?” Daniel asked.  ~Besides giving you more headaches?~

“They want us to put a stop to it,” Jack answered.

“How?” Sam asked.

“We're calling in a marker,” Jack responded.  He waited a few seconds and then checked his watch.  “Yep, calling in a marker.”

Just then, Thor beamed in, standing towards the end of the table, and spoke, “Greetings.”

“Ah!”

“Thor,” Sam acknowledged.

“O'Neill, how can the Asgard be of service?”

Jack nodded to Sam, who explained the events from the last two days.

“We need you to discredit Colson,” Jack admitted, adding, “And do a bit of retrieving.”

“Retrieving?” the Asgard leader questioned.

“We can't let them keep the clone or the data they used to create him,” Jack explained.

“Do you have the coordinates, Colonel Carter?”

Sam looked at Jack, who nodded and ordered, “Go with Thor and make sure he gets their research and not their kitchen appliances.”

“Yes, Sir,” Sam responded, standing up.

With a groan, Jack stated, “And, Carter, I know how you feel about this kind of thing, but you're the one who can pull this off.”

“What, Sir?”

“The Pentagon has arranged for a special afternoon edition of 'Inside Access'.”

“Why?” Daniel question.

“We have to discredit Colson, Daniel, by showing his alien doesn't mean anything.”  Jack looked at the authentic alien in the room.  “Thor, how's your acting?”

“Acting?”

“We need you to give an Emmy-worthy performance.”

“What is an Emmy?”

“Never mind,” Jack sighed.  “Carter, you do your technobabble bit and Thor, you play a hologram.”

“I see,” Sam stated.  “You want me to tell Julia Donovan that Alec's clone is a play thing and we can top that with a speaking hologram.  Is that it, Sir?”

“The Pentagon wants that, and it's what we have to do.”  Jack saw the blonde's hesitation.  She never liked lying, especially to or about someone she cared for in any way.  “Carter, that's an order.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Thor, be a rock star,” Jack encouraged, punching his clinched right fist into the air for emphasis.  The response was nothing more than a vacant star, so Jack shrugged and stood up.  “You know what to do,” he told his team and then returned to his office.

“Acting coaches,” Daniel quipped.

“What is acting?” Thor asked.

“It's ... pretending to be something you're not,” the linguist explained.  He looked at Sam and inquired, “Do you need time to figure out a story?”

“No, it's easy,” Sam responded.  “I'll tell her about advanced methods for creating realistic 3D images and suggest we can virtually create anything imaginable.”  She looked at the alien and continued, “And that's when you'll pop in, Thor, and speak a few words; maybe even state that you are a projection created by advanced holographic technology.”

“Stay tuned for the next theme park attraction,” Daniel quipped.

“Yeah.  I may use that,” Sam replied.

“Thor, don't take this the wrong way,” Daniel began, “but to be believable, you can't have an, uh, you, well ...”

“I understand, Doctor Jackson.  I am a puppet of good will and Earth technology.  I shall ... win my Emmy.”

A few seconds of amusement later, Sam left to change into her formal Air Force attire, after which she returned to Daniel Jackson, Thor's ship, to help the alien locate the appropriate room where the Colson computers and the clone were kept.  With that done, Thor beamed her back to Earth, near the television station.

====

“That's just incredible,” Julia Donovan responded during her exclusive interview with Sam when she saw the hologram standing just feet away from her.

Indeed, it was not Thor himself in the room, but a hologram of the leader.  He frequently used his hologram to speak with other races, including the Tau'ri, especially if he was too far away for a physical beaming.  The hologram's appearance allowed Sam to move her hand through the projection, causing the image to become static-like and flicker.

“It's just a projection.  You'll probably be seeing technology like this in theme park rides in a few years,” Sam concluded.

An unexpected turn occurred just after the special edition ended.  Colson and Vogler were in the CEO's private plane when it suffered a failure and had to make an emergency landing.

Sam's cell phone rang just after the news was reported over the wire.  It was Colson, who suspected it was the U.S. government trying to silence him permanently that caused the plane's problem.

“How did you get this number?” Sam inquired.

“Oh, I have my sources.”

~I really need to change my phone number,~ Sam sighed as she continued the conversation.

====

Elsewhere, Jack was in the locker room, staring in the mirror as he adjusted his tie.

“Oh, gawd.”

Jack grinned upon hearing his husband's voice.

“What are you doing?” Daniel asked as he salivated at his husband.  ~Dress blues.  He knows what that does to me.~

Turning to face the younger man, Jack answered, “I have an important meeting in about a half-hour.”

“Must be with some of your favorite people.”

“Hayes has turned out to be a pretty decent guy,” Jack presented positively.  “What are you doing in here?”

“Spill,” Daniel explained, using his finger to motion towards the food stain on his black shirt.

“Sloppy, sloppy,” Jack singsonged with a smile.

“I was looking for you, though.  I found out something interesting about Colson Industries.”

“What?”

“Later.”

Business could wait.  Daniel walked to his locker, putting down a folder he'd brought with him on the bench, and removed his uniform top.  He could sense his general's eyes on him.  With an upturn of his mouth, he stretched, making a moaning sound as he did so.

“Daniel!”

The archaeologist turned, intentionally flexing his pectoral muscles as he did so.

“I only have,” Jack checked his watch, “twenty-eight minutes.”

“That's enough.”

The married couple maneuvered into a shower stall and had their way with each other for the next twenty minutes.  It was risky; they hadn't taken the few seconds required to secure the locker room door.  Then again, the couple's adrenaline always rose with the risk of discovery.  They'd made love in all kinds of places within Stargate Command.  Right now, their passion allowed Daniel to relieve himself of anxiety due to not being able to relieve his soulmate of his dress blues, and it gave Jack a chance to flex another muscle in harmony with his Love's pectoral motions.

That gave the two eight minutes to shower and redress before Daniel walked with Jack to his office.

“Do you want me to ...” Daniel motioned with his hand toward the door.

“Nah, stick around.  It's just Thor.”

“You're in your dress blues for Thor?” a confused Daniel inquired as he sat down in one of the chairs in front of the general's desk, making himself relaxed and comfortable.

“Of course not.  Actually ...”

Jack's words were cut off when the Asgard beamed into the office.

“Welcome,” Jack called out.  “Have a seat.”

“Thank you, O'Neill.”

“Any problems?”

“Where is my Emmy?” came the self-explanatory response.

“Nice job,” Jack praised.  “Now, Thor, good buddy, how about a little assist?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know, after all that Antarctic mess, the President's feeling a bit queasy about our defenses.  Ya gotta admit, having that evil, good-for-nothing, Darth Vader wannabe ....”

“You mean Anubis,” Thor clarified.

“Yeah, him,” Jack replied.  “He showed up in the White House.”

“It was a hologram, Jack,” Daniel pointed out.

“Just keep working,” Jack retorted as Daniel was making notes as he reviewed the file he had with him.

“The Asgard would like to thank President Hayes for Earth's continued friendship.”

“It's a two-way street,” Jack put forth jovially.  Um, how about a hyperdrive for the Prometheus?”

“That is something I must discuss with the High Council.”

“Thor, come on!  You said you wanted to get something nice for the President.”  Just then, Sam entered.  “Carter?”

“Sir, anything on who might have tried to kill Colson?”

“It wasn't us.”

“We think that Colson may have fragments of downed Goa'uld ships recovered from the Antarctic.  A subsidiary of his was involved in the salvage and the clean up,” Daniel told his teammate while twirling his pen in his right hand.  **Uh, that's the news I mentioned before we ... you know.**

“Are we just going to keep trying to discredit the man?  I mean, aren't we the ones a little delusional to think that we could cover up an attack of this scale?” Sam put forward.

“What's the alternative?” the general questioned.

“How about tell the truth?”

~Did I not suggest that at the beginning?~ Teal'c thought as he felt somewhat invisible lately.

~Okay, Sam's flipped.~  Daniel looked over at Sam and then shifted his focus to Jack.  **I thought we all agreed the world isn't ready to know about all of this yet.**

**We did,** Jack communicated.  **That time of month?**

**Jack!**

**It's having to lie about the man.  Carter hates that stuff, but we didn't have a choice there.**

Seeing the skeptical and concerned reactions, Sam clarified, “I mean, to Colson.  Look, I know he's been profiled and deemed a security risk and obviously that's an accurate assessment, but what have we got to lose at this point?  He's already trying to go public.  Let's show him why it's so important to keep the secret.  Besides, think of the benefits of having a man with his resources on our side.”

As he reached for his cap on the desk, Jack returned, “Well, Thor and I are meeting with the President in five minutes.  I'll bring it up.”

“Five minutes?” Sam asked.

“Oh yeah.”

Jack grinned at the alien while buttoning his jacket as a beam of light transported them out of the office.

“Right,” Sam acknowledged as she looked at Daniel.

The archaeologist simply shrugged and returned his focus to the information in his hand.

Sam cocked her head and then walked over to get a better view of her friend.

Looking up, Daniel asked, “What?”

“You look ... unstressed.”

“Uh, okay.”

“Peaceful, even,” Sam suggested.  “Almost ... radiant.”

“Wha...what?”

Sam laughed and, as she headed for the door, she mused, “If I didn't know better, I'd say you and the general ...”  Suddenly, she stopped and twisted around to look at Daniel, who was suddenly slipping down further in his chair, as if wanting to disappear.  ~I am *so* getting out of here now,~ Sam told herself.  ~They wouldn't?  They couldn't have?  At the SGC?  During a crisis?  Sam, you're losing it.~

In a embarrassed flash, Daniel quickly got up out of the chair and breezed by the blonde, saying, “Gotta go.”

~Oh, geez, they did.  TMI, even if it's all in my mind,~ Sam thought as she headed for her lab to escape her thoughts via anything of a scientific origin that would distract her from things she never wanted to think about.

====

“Hello,” Daniel greeted as he answered his phone in his office.

“Daniel.”

“Hey, Jack.  How's the President?”

“He's doing well.  Listen, I only have a minute.  Tell Carter she has a go.”

“For?”

“Colson.  He's cleared for the SGC and a trip to the Alpha Site.”

“The Alpha Site?” Daniel questioned.  “Are you sure about that?”

“Hayes thinks maybe if Colson saw the F-302s, he might feel a connection.”

“A sort of 'I helped build them so I want to protect them' thing?”

“Something like that.  This is our last shot.  There's nothing else we can do, so tell her to make it good.  He'll be arriving with Thor in about fifteen minutes; briefing room.”

“Okay.  Uh, what about you?”

“Hayes wants to chat some more.  Hey, I gotta go.”

“Bye, Jack.  Ah, you do know.”

“Backatcha!”

A second later, the call was ended and Daniel hurried to Sam's lab to relay the orders.

====

Colson was preparing to go live with all the information he'd gathered when he was beamed out of his office and into the briefing room at Stargate Command.  Waiting for him were Daniel and Sam and at his side was Thor, who beamed down with the CEO.

“Okay.  What just happened?”

“Well, in layman's terms, we beamed you up and then down again,” Daniel answered as he and Sam walked forward.

Sam introduced Colson to Thor.

“Greetings,” the alien spoke.

“Ah, so this is a real one,” Colson surmised.

“Yep,” Sam confirmed.

“What happened to the clone?” Colson asked.

“It will become a host to an Asgard consciousness whose physical body is failing,” Thor answered.

“Okay.”

“Now, I must take my leave.  General O'Neill said he will see you all tomorrow,” Thor told Daniel and Sam before departing Stargate Command.

After that, Sam opened the blast door that protected the briefing room from danger.  There, in front of Colson, was the Stargate.

Daniel excused himself, leaving Sam to give Colson a brief tour of the facility before taking him through the Gate to the Alpha Site located on P4X-650 that was six-hundred forty light years from Earth.  After showing Colson around the underground base, she concluded the tour at the hangar bay.

“Now that, that's more like it,” Colson stated happily.

“It's called the F-302, alien-human hybrid,” Sam told the man.

“So this is what the MECs were for?”

“Yeah, thanks to you it's capable of leaving the atmosphere and returning.  We used a number of these to defend Earth five months ago.  This is just one of the many advancements we've made as a result of technology procured through the Stargate.  You wanna take a ride?”

The ride in the F-302 was a bit more precarious than Sam intended when Colson was allowed to take control and dove the plane sharply to the ground, prompting various warning systems to engage.  Sam was forced to retake control and was barely able to pull the fighter up over the treetops to safety.

“Well, that was reckless,” Sam told Colson when they were back in the hangar.  She didn't appreciate how he'd put her life at risk, nor could she comprehend his refusal to cooperate and keep what he knew a secret.

Before exiting the hangar, Colson firmly contended, “If you think that, or any of this, is gonna prevent me from telling the world what they have a right to know, you're dead wrong.”

====

Just before it was time to head back to Earth, Sam approached Colson and told him about The Trust that was comprised of businessmen who were told about the Stargate by rogue NID agents several years ago.  She pointed out that the former vice president, Robert Kinsey, was linked to the dangerous group.

“Now, instead of going public like you, they've been funding various secret endeavors, all aimed at controlling alien technology for their own purposes.”

“Which are?”

“You'd have to ask them.  Personal profit.  Maybe they think they can do a better job of defending the planet than we can.”

“Why are you telling me all this?” Colson asked.

“Because I'm guessing that's who tried to kill you. They'll never get control of the Gate if the world finds out.”

Sitting down on the Stargate platform, Colson explained, “When I was young, all I ever dreamed about was flying. I had every make of airplane ever built hanging from my ceiling, and then, well, I take it you know about my wife and daughter.” The two were killed in a plane crash when Colson was just twenty-four.  “One of the down sides of celebrity, we really do have no secrets.  Anyway, after the crash, I vowed to make flying as safe as it possibly could be.  I really thought that I could do it better than anyone else.”

“But you have made a difference.”

“But nothing's perfect, is it?”

“No,” Sam agreed.

“Intergalactic travel, advanced alien civilizations, humans living on other worlds? I do realize that there may be bad guys out there, too.”

“You have no idea how bad,” Sam put forth.

“But in the end, we have to believe in humanity.  I mean, who knows, this might bring us all together as a planet.”

Colson maintained his position, regardless of Sam's compelling arguments to the contrary, and then returned to Earth with Sam.

Upon his return, Colson received some bad news when he walked into the briefing room with Sam.  Daniel was already there, once again watching “Inside Access” as it aired a special report.

“Investigators now believe that Alec Colson created the alien hoax in order to divert attention from his real corporate financial problems,” Donovan reported.  “Colson, who has still made no public statement ...”

Daniel turned off the TV and informed Colson that, “The story broke about an hour ago.  The President's halted trading on the markets. Your company's stock had fallen eighty percent, the Dow was down over five-hundred points on the whole.”

“What's going on?” Sam questioned.

“The SEC is investigating you for securities fraud,” Daniel told Colson.

“That's ridiculous!”

“They're saying there were irregularities in your company's last two financial statements.”

“Well, it's not true!  Come on!  The timing of this ... I'm being set up.”  Colson was stunned and furious both.  “I need to get back to Seattle.”

“Let me check with Peterson.  Maybe there's something available now,” Sam offered.

“Forget it.  I'll get a charter,” Colson stated.  He repeated, “This is nonsense.  There's nothing wrong with our financials.”

“We don't have anything to do with this,” Sam responded.

“Just like you don't with attempted assassinations.”

“Alec, we didn't have anything to do with that, or this.”  Sam sighed.  “Look, maybe I can help.”

“How?”

“I don't know.  I'll go to Seattle with you.”  Not hearing any complaints from Colson, she looked over at the archaeologist.  “Daniel, tell the general I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I'll be in touch.”

“Right.”

====

Since Jack wasn't in his office, Daniel decided to get back to his own work.  There was nothing more he could do at this point in regards to Colson's continued insistence on going public or the company's problems.  As he reached the elevator, the doors were opening.

“Daniel,” Jack greeted pleasantly as he walked into the corridor.

“I was looking for you,” Daniel told his lover as the two walked towards the general's office.

“Here I am.  What's up?”

“Sam's leaving with Colson to see if she can help him.”

~Ay, caramba.~  Jack groaned, “It's security fraud.  The man lied.  The government has this pesky dislike for CEOs who do that.”

“Well, we don't know the full story.”

“You're defending him?”

“I'm not sure he's guilty.  He claims not to know anything about it,” Daniel said as the two turned the corner.

“Let me guess.  He thinks we're responsible.”

“More or less.”

“We're not.”

“That we know of,” Daniel returned.

Jack simply cocked his head.  He was fully aware that there could be things happening that were outside of his scope of knowledge.

~Need to know,~ Jack contemplated.  ~I have no need nor do I want to know,~ he admitted.

“Jack,” Daniel stated as he reached out and stopped his general from walking.  “We didn't do this, did we?”

“Daniel, I don't know.  I know *I* didn't do anything and I swear to you that I have no inclination or inkling of anyone else other than Colson, or his people, being responsible for the fraud.  Okay?”

“Okay,” Daniel replied.

Jack checked his watch and said, “SG-9 is due back in ten.  They're bringing back that Omelet guy.”

Amused, Daniel lowered his head and shook it for a brief moment before correcting, “Om Lupet.”

“Huh?”

“That's his name, Jack, Om Lupet.  He's the head chief of their cadre, the biggest cadre in their civilization.”

“Whatever.  Hey,” Jack reached out and placed his right hand on Daniel's right upper arm.  “Join the party.”

“Actually, I have some work to do.”

“Daniel, the head chief of their largest cadre.  Chief Omelet ...”

“Lupet, Om Lupet.”

“... he needs you, to translate.”

“They know English, Jack.”

“But you misunderstand.  He needs you to translate for me.  How about it?”

“Okay, Jack, I'll try to make sure you aren't too bored.”

“I knew I could count on you.  Meet and Greet at the Stargate in five!”

Daniel nodded and watched his husband walk swiftly towards his office.  He let out a small chuckle.

~Someday he's going to slip up and call one of these leaders by the crazy nickname he's created for them.~  Daniel grinned.  ~And when does, I hope I'm there to see it.~

====

When Sam and Colson returned to the office building in Seattle, they found Vogler, drinking.  Eventually, Vogler admitted to doctoring the books and being the one who tipped off the SEC.  The company was overextended and he couldn't get Colson to listen.  The reason for his actions was something Colson learned about on the Alpha Site.

“They call themselves the Trust,” Vogler said.  “Look, all I know is they're very powerful and they think that Washington abdicated its duty to protect the planet, maybe even caused the problem in the first place.  They see it as their responsibility to step in.”

“We can fix this,” Colson asserted.

“It's too late,” Vogler negated.  “It's done.  It can't be undone.”

Colson feared both he and his partner would go to jail, but that's when Vogler mentioned his family, an indication that threats were made.

“What about the rest of the people that work for this company?  What about their families?”

“Why weren't you thinking about them three days ago?” Vogler challenged.

Vogler told Colson and Sam that six months ago he was contacted by the Trust.  Somehow the organization knew exactly what Colson had in his possession and they didn't want the information released.

Softly, Vogler concluded by telling Colson, “You were wrong, Alec.”  He went on and opined, “This shouldn't come out.  The world's not ready.”

Colson didn't have many options.  He'd signed false financial statements and those behind the Trust operated above the law, though they were known to have made threats before.

“Then we have to bring them down,” Colson argued.

“We've tried, believe me,” Sam replied.

“Well, we have to try again.”

====

Bright and early at Cheyenne Mountain, Daniel was just settling into his chair to start his day when the phone rang.  He fumbled a bit as he attempted to put down his full mug of coffee without spilling it, as well as the three books he was holding.

~Deja vu,~ the scientist contemplated when several drops of coffee dripped over his papers and the books fell onto the desktop, opening and curling up some of the pages.  He reached for the phone.  “Hello.”

“Daniel, it's Sam.”

“Hey.  Are you still in Seattle?”

“Actually, I'm on a plane to Washington.  I want to talk with Agent Barrett face-to-face about Alec and Vogler.  If everything goes well, I should be back at the Mountain late this afternoon.”

“I'll let Jack know.”

“Oh, and Daniel, write this down.”

Daniel grabbed a pen and wrote down a number, after which he asked, “What is it?”

“My new mobile number.  Do you know who called me at five o'clock this morning?”

“Let me guess ... Emmett ...”

“Bregmane,” both of the science twins stated.

Sam added, “I never gave him my number.  That makes three people in four days, Daniel.”

“Uh, do you want me to give it to Jack?”

“There's static on the line.  Daniel?  I can't hear you.  Daniel?  I'll see you later.”

Daniel chuckled as he hung up the phone, knowing Sam was only teasing, and then organized his desk to officially begin his workday.

====

Late in the afternoon, Jack and Daniel were exiting the commissary after taking a Jell-O break when Sam and Teal'c approached.

“Carter, you're back.”

“Yes, Sir.”  As Jack and SG-1 headed for Jack's office, she updated everyone on the situation between Colson, Vogler, and the government.  “So, Colson's convinced Vogler to arrange a meeting with his contact and wear a wire.  Hopefully, we'll get enough to connect him to the rogue NID and then flip him for someone bigger.  We're coordinating with Agent Barrett.”

“At the very least, it may restore Colson's public image,” Daniel added as the four entered the general's office.

“Well, yeah, especially if it turns out that someone in direct corporate competition with Colson Industries was pulling the strings.”

Jack sat down in his deluxe chair while Daniel and Sam sat in the two chairs that were in front of the desk.  Teal'c leaned against the credenza near the door and listened with his arms folded.

“Unfortunately, without further evidence, Brian Vogler's word alone isn't going to be enough to undo all the damage already done to the company,” Sam noted.

“What of Brian Vogler's safety?” the Jaffa asked.

Sam answered, “He's under close surveillance.  His family's been taken into protective custody.”

“Well, I guess the secret is safe ... again,” the general put forward, essentially closing the matter from his point of view.

“For now,” Daniel stated.

Jack's phone rang and as he took the call, Sam told Daniel, “You know, I wouldn't count Colson out just yet.  He still feels really strongly that the world should know the truth.”

When Jack's call finished, he informed the team that, “Surveillance just found Brian Vogler, dead, in his bathroom.”

“What?  How?” Sam queried.

“He hanged himself.”

After a moment to let the news settle, Sam called out, “Sir?”

“Go,” Jack agreed, giving a nod for emphasis.

“Thank you, Sir,” Sam said as she left the office with plans to fly immediately to Seattle.

“Jack,” Daniel began as he leaned forward in his chair.

“You have one of those looks, Daniel,” Jack observed.

“Uh, which one?”

“That one.”

“Okay.  Anyway, Alec Colson's not responsible for the fraud.  We all know Brian Vogler was blackmailed into it by the Trust in order to save his family.”

“Didn't we already talk about this?”

“Just a refresher,” Daniel claimed with a smile.

“And why the refresher?”

“Sam says he's brilliant and we know he is anyway.  I mean, uh, the F-302 multi-engine control systems make a great statement for an SGC resume.”

“What are you suggesting?”

“The Alpha Site,” Daniel stated.  “Let's ... give him ... asylum, sort of.  He can be useful to us, Jack.  You know he can.”

Jack stared at Daniel for a few seconds and then over at Teal'c.  He leaned back and used all eight fingers and both thumbs to tap on his desk.

“Okay.  Don't let Carter leave.  I'll call the President.”  As he picked up the phone, he suggested, “T, why don't you see if Thor is still hovering up there somewhere.  Maybe he get Carter to Seattle before he speeds off to do whatever it is the Asgard do.”

“As you wish, O'Neill,” Teal'c responded.

Daniel and Teal'c left the office while Jack picked up the phone.

“Daniel!”

The archaeologist made an about face and returned to stand at the door to his lover's office.

“Make sure Carter calls Shanahan.”

“Jack, don't mother hen her.  She's got a life now.”

“Does she?  Shanahan's a decent catch.  Carter works too much.”

“This isn't really work.”

“Like I said, make sure she calls Shanahan.”

“Got it,” Daniel responded and then walked away.

Meanwhile, Jack made the call to ask for permission to allow Colson to unofficially enlist with Stargate Command with the understanding that he would remain at the Alpha Site indefinitely.

====

That night, Sam found Colson in his office, sitting on the sofa and holding a firearm.

“I killed him.  I might as well have put the gun against his head and pulled the trigger myself.”

“You couldn't have known.”

“You saw how scared he was.  I know what his family meant to him.  He was never going to do anything to put them in any danger.”

Sam attempted to soothe Colson, even saying that Vogler betrayed him, but Colson insisted it was the other way around.

“My life's over, Sam.  Everything I worked for, everything I believed in, held to be true ...”

“Still exists,” Sam interrupted.  “Apparently, Congress is looking into providing relief.  The companies, the employees will survive.”

“While I go to jail for something I didn't do?” Colson questioned.

At that point, Sam made Colson the offer to “disappear.”  She explained she was making the offer with the permission of her superiors.

“The President wasn't responsible for what happened to you, but he's also not sorry that you were publicly discredited.  Please, Alec, come with me.  You can still make a difference.  He who fights and runs away ...”

Colson put the gun aside and completed, “... Lives to fight another day, and no one will ever know.”

“Welcome to my world.”

“Okay, Sam, I'm in.  What happens now?”

Pleased Colson accepted the offer, Sam explained the specifics and the logistics of his disappearance from Earth.

====

Back in Colorado Springs, Jack was seated in his favorite chair in the living room while Daniel was vacuuming the carpet.

“Daniel, we can clean over the weekend,” Jack called out in a raised voice so as to be heard.

“Suicide is never an answer,” Daniel responded.

Jack nodded, though he was confused by the non sequitur.

“Danny,” Jack shouted.  “Turn it off!”

“What?”

“Off!” Jack called out, pointing at the noisy cleaning device.

“Oh, uh, sorry,” Daniel spoke.  “What did you say?”

“We can clean tomorrow when I get back from Lou's,” Jack put forth.

“It needs to be done, Babe.  We have month-old potato chip crumbs here and over there are bread crumbs.”

“Tomorrow,” Jack insisted.  He stood up and physically removed Daniel's hand from the vacuum's handle.  “Danny, none of us wanted it to end this way, but we weren't involved in any of that.”

“The Trust is responsible, Jack, and we haven't caught them.  We don't even know who they are, except for Kinsey.”

“We'll find them and blast them out of their limos.”

“When?”

“I don't know, but if we can defeat the Goa'uld, we can find these guys.  In fact, with the System Lords on the run, we have more time to devote to the Trust, but ...”

“But?”

“Stargate Command's directive ...”

“... needs to be changed,” Daniel interrupted.  “I remember very clearly what the standing orders are.  You once had Sam repeat them for me, if you recall.”

“We're not going there, are we?  That was years ago,” Jack pointed out.

“No, we're not going there, and I shouldn't have brought it up.  We dealt with that when it happened, but the point remains that the standing orders of seeking new allies and procuring technologies to aid in the defense against the Goa'uld are, well, out of date.  I mean, uh, the Goa'uld aren't totally gone, but it's ...“

“... looking good,” Jack completed for his husband.  “And you're right, but until all the System Lords are out of hair completely, I don't think the Pentagon is going to change that.”  After a pause, he put forth, “However, unofficially, we can alter our standing orders to seeking out new allies and procuring technologies to help us achieve advancements in medicine, aid in universal planetary understanding, and protecting Earth from any potential menace.”

“I like that.”

“Good, and let me point out that our new unofficial mandate, that you just agreed to, is essentially to see what's out there, spread some good will, and share a mutual exchange with allies, not track down domestic traitors.  We can only do so much and the rest is up to the Feds in the know.”

“Like Agent Barrett.”

“He seems to have a handle on things.  We need to let him do his job, while we do ours.  Sometimes, our roles are going to overlap, and when that happens, we'll do our bit.”  Jack smiled.  “Agreed?”

“Agreed,” Daniel sighed.  He looked at his lover and let out a contented small laugh.  “Okay, Jack, leaving the office at the office.  Chess?”

“Gin,” Jack countered.  “I have a shot at winning there.”

“Maybe,” Daniel responded with a sly smile.  ~Okay, you can win.  Then I'll win, in a much preferred game.  You know ... when we you know.~

Cards in hand, Jack mentioned, “I talked to Andy earlier.”

“How is he?” Daniel asked about Jack's friend, the sheriff.

“Good.  He told me about Ripper.”

“Who's Ripper?” Daniel asked as he sat down across from Jack at the table in the kitchen nook where their game of gin was about to begin.

“German shepherd in the K-9 division.  He was shot saving an officer during that robbery standoff the other day.”

“Is he okay?”

“He'll be fine, but Andy said he wouldn't have been injured at all if they'd had a bigger budget and could get vests for them.  They've only been able to get a couple for the dogs.”

“Vests like ...”

“Protective gear just like the cops wear, bullet and stab proof.”

“How much are they?”

“I'm not sure, but at least a few hundred dollars each, probably more.”

“How many dogs do they have?”

As Jack dealt the cards, he answered, “Five, and they're hoping to add a few more within the next couple of years.”

“For sake of argument, let's say the vests are five-hundred a piece.  That's fifteen-hundred for three dogs.”

“You got it.”

“How about a thousand each?” Daniel suggested.  “That covers the dogs they have now and lets them start a fund so they are better prepared when they add more units.”

“I like your thinking, Danny,” Jack said with a smile as he ended the deal.

--

“Thanks, Sam.  I'll let him know,” Daniel said before hanging up the phone and returning to the gin game.

“Problems?” Jack asked.

“No.  Alec Colson agreed to the deal.”

“That's good news.”

“Yeah.  Sam's staying in Seattle tonight.”

“Oh,” Jack responded in a disapproving tone.

“But she said to tell you she has a triple-hot date with Pete on Saturday night.”

“Good to know,” Jack spoke casually.  ~Can't get Colson outta here quick enough for me.~

“You're smirking, Jack.”

“No, I'm not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“Not.”

“Are.”

“Not, no way.”

“Are, for sure.”

The lovers broke out into laughter at their silly banter and even the reason for it.  Jack was happy Alec Colson would be less accessible.

“Babe, what are you really worried about?”

With a sigh, Jack confided, “Carter's always been a little wishy washy in the romance department.  She has ... big time commitment issues that hold her back.”

“Wow.  You sound sure of that.”

“Danny, how many relationships has she had a shot at where she held back; never fully sank her teeth into it?”

“Sank her teeth into?”

“You know what I mean.  She lures them in, but she stays on the outside.  She's scared stiff, Danny, and if she can find an excuse to stay at the doorway and not go inside, she'll use it.  She never really goes all in.”

“Well, she said yes to Pete.”

“Where's the ring?”

“They're working on it.”

“He is.  She's finding excuses.”

“You're really worried about her.”

“Aren't you,” Jack said, putting down his cards for the moment.  “Can you look me in the eye and tell me you think Carter is one-hundred percent into becoming a married woman?”

“No, I guess not, but I want her to be happy.”

“So do I,” Jack said as he picked up his cards again.

“Jack, how about we let Sam worry about her love life, and we just worry about ours.”

“We're solid, aren't we?” the general asked before drawing a card from the pile and then smiling subtly when it allowed him to make a meld.

Daniel nodded and affirmed, “Yes, we are.”

--

“The hardware store is having a sale on wood pellets this weekend,” Jack pointed out.

“You're the grill master, Babe.”

“I was thinking mesquite and maybe maple.”

“Anything is fine,” Daniel responded.

“Or maybe apple or oak.”

“Whatever you want.”

--

“Hollywood can't come up with anything new.  They're running out of ideas,” Jack asserted.

“There are plenty of ideas out there.”

“Then why aren't they making movies with unique themes instead of remaking classics?” Jack asked.  “Jackie Gleason is Ralph Kramden, not Cedric the Entertainer.  I appreciate adaptations, but some things are not meant to be.”

“You don't have to go see it,” Daniel referred to the just-released theatrical film, “The Honeymooners.”

“And I won't.  I'm sticking to the real Ralph on classic TV.”  Discarding a card, the older man griped, “And look what they're doing with Herbie.”

“Herbie?”

“Come on, Danny.  You know Herbie the Love Bug.”

“Oh, the talking Volkswagen.”

“Gordon has a cameo,” Jack noted about NASCAR racer, Jeff Gordon.  With a grimace, he added, “But I don't know.  Lindsay Lohan as a stock car driver, in Herbie?”

“It's a Disney film, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Gotta stretch the imagination, Jack, and go with the magic,” Daniel said as he looked at his cards.  ~Oops, gin, but I don't think I'll tell him that.~  As he placed a card in the discard pile, he said, “You know, sometimes we need to let loose and go with the silliness.”

“Wait a minute!” Jack exclaimed.  He looked all around and questioned rhetorically, “Where's my tape recorder?”

“Huh?”

“Daniel, you just said we should be silly.”

“You taught me that, Jack.  I mean, we're married.”

“Connect the dots.”

“Play,” Daniel countered with a smile.  “My Silly Silver Fox.”

“Let's go silly all the way then and check it out tomorrow night,” Jack suggested.

“It's a date.”

“How bad can it be?  It's Herbie,” Jack pointed out.  “Gin!”

Daniel looked at his cards and sighed, “You beat me to it, Babe.  I was almost there.”

“Jack's my name and Gin's my game.”

Jack began to tally the points, but Daniel reached out and took hold of his hand while questioning, “Jack, My Silly Love, would you rather score the points of the game or ... score with me, now, right now?”

The Silver Fox literally threw the cards up into the air, leaving the tally to the card gods and went upstairs to celebrate the rest of the night with his husband doing what came naturally to two people who were so passionately in love.

With the Colson crisis over with, it was another casual evening for the soulmates, one full of routine and ordinary chitchat, but there was nothing standard about their love.  Their world was their happy place, a welcoming environment that centered on their togetherness.  For Jack and Daniel, life was always better when they were home in Colorado Springs, enveloped in their special nation of two.

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

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