Part V


Disclaimer: Kali & Muses do not own Stargate; we just borrowed it for this fanfiction.
Warnings: slash in the form of Jack/Daniel

I forgot to add this the last two parts: big thanks to Cryysis for the betas!  You rock for putting up with me!  And beta kudos for this part go to Chickigirl, my main beta, and a couple others who looked it over but didn’t want credit.  Tough! You’re getting it! LOL  Thanks again!

~ Part V ~

Chapter I

          Surprisingly, Daniel found only one of his team members waiting in the briefing room.  Teal’c sat at the table – a large glass of water at his elbow – flipping through an open file folder full of papers.

          “DanielJackson.”  The Jaffa greeted him warmly, looking up as Daniel and his colleagues entered.  Teal’c pushed his chair back and rose, offering a regal half-bow to Sarah and Steven.  “Dr. Gardner, Dr. Rayner.  It is my pleasure to greet you.”

          “This is Teal’c.”  Daniel introduced his friend.  “He is an old friend and member of my team.”

          “Hello, again, Teal’c.”  Sarah shook his hand lightly.

          “Teal’c?  I thought his name was…Mark?  No, Murray.”  Steven frowned, looking from the large man to Daniel.  “And what sort of name is that anyway?”

          “Uh…yes.  ‘Murray’ is his public name – for outside the programme.”  Daniel explained hastily, though Teal’c didn’t seem to be taking offence at Steven’s rudeness.  “I’ll explain soon, Steven.  Just…go ahead and help yourselves to the coffee and snacks, and have a seat there.”  He gestured at the opposite end of the table where two envelopes lay waiting.  “The others will be here soon and we can get started.”

          Sarah pulled Steven in the direction of the coffee, and Daniel sighed in relief at the respite.

          “Are you well, DanielJackson?”

          “I’m fine.  This is very nerve-wracking for me, that’s all.”  Daniel nodded absently.  He looked toward Landry’s office and spotted the General talking to Sam and Mitchell at his desk.  “Where’s Vala, and what’s that all about?”

          “I do not know where ValaMalDoran may be, but I do not believe she will forget this briefing as she knows how important it is to you.”  Teal’c responded with a small smile.  “And I believe ColonelMitchell and ColonelCarter are discussing the upcoming annual evaluations with GeneralLandry.”

          “Ah.  Oh!”  Daniel made a face.  “Is it time for those already?  Great.”  He hated them – not their purpose, but the amount of extra time that the evaluations required out of his already exhausting schedule.

          “Is O’Neill joining us?”  Teal’c inquired.

          “I don’t know.”  The linguist shrugged, taking off his glasses and using one corner of his BDU shirt to clean them.  “Probably.  Whenever he gets the chance to leave his office.”

          “Indeed.”

          Landry, Carter, and Mitchell came out of the General’s office just then, and Daniel greeted them cheerfully before introducing them all formally to Steven and Sarah.  As the initial greetings ended, Vala finally came hustling up the stairs from the control room below.

          “Hello, everyone!”  She smiled at the room, using her charm unabashedly.  “I hope I’m not late.”

          “You’re just in time.”  General Landry drawled, pointing at the empty seats.  “Have a seat people, and let’s get started.  Dr. Jackson, I won’t be remaining for the entire briefing.  After all, I’m quite sure you and SG1 can handle it.”

          “Yes, sir.”  Daniel agreed, amused. “And Jack will show up eventually.  We’ll be fine.”  He left the seat at the General’s right open (for Jack) and took up the next chair.  Vala plopped down next to him, while Mitchell, Sam, and Teal’c took up their seats on Landry’s left.

          “Now,” Landry began, folding his hands on the table before him and looking down it to Sarah and Steven.  “You both are here for a very specific new team that Dr. Jackson has wisely proposed to create.  However, unlike most SG teams, you won’t be made to go through any of the military field training that we normally require of new civilian recruits.  This is due to the fact that you will not be going on off-world missions, and should your team be in any hostile areas on our own planet, you will be provided a contingent of Marines from the programme as bodyguards.  Don’t worry, though!”  Landry smiled genially.  “It isn’t likely that you’ll be dealing with that anytime soon.”

          Sarah nodded, looking rather relieved.  Steven appeared relieved, also, but at the same time he looked incredulous and confused.

          “General, sir, I regret to inform you that Woolsey neglected to give them a basic debriefing on…well, everything.  I’m afraid I have to start at the very beginning.”  Daniel’s eyebrows furrowed deeply and he gave Landry an apologetic grimace.

          The General blinked, stunned.  “That man’s incompetence never ceases to drive me crazy.”

          “Daniel, can’t your Jack fire that little weasel of a man?  He is very vexing.”  Vala growled, well-manicured fingernails tapping out an angry beat on the table.

          “Unfortunately, no.  Woolsey is appointed to the IOA by the President.  We can complain, though.”  Landry sighed.  “Very well.  I guess I’ll leave the rest up to you, SG1.  I have a meeting in twenty minutes to prepare for.”  He glanced at Mitchell and Sam as he stood.  “Watch the shop while I’m gone.  I’ll be on board Odyssey if there’s an emergency.”

          “Yes, sir!”  Both rose and saluted, then sat again when Landry walked out.

          Daniel picked up the remote control for the projection system.  “Vala, would you get the lights please?”  Happy to help, the dark-haired woman bounced over to the panel and flicked the lights off while Daniel brought the projector online and lowered the screen.

          “Okay, so…I guess I get to start off with the history of the programme.  The more detailed stuff – like the new facts and results we’ve discovered so far over the course of the last decade or so – will come later when you start your basic training courses this week.”  Daniel brought up the first screen, then looked down the table at Sarah and Steven.

          “As I mentioned before, in 1928 there was a dig on the Giza Plateau.  It was led by an archaeologist named Dr. Langford.”  Daniel gestured at the screen, where a picture of that dig and one of Dr. Langford sat side-by-side in black and white.  Standing beside the man was a pretty young girl – Catherine.  “It was actually a lucrative dig – not including the artefacts that would later be the most important ones ever found.  Ah…there were three major finds there, and they were incredible and mysterious enough to make everything else pale in comparison.

          “One of these was what appeared to be fossilized remains of completely unknown origin.”  Daniel went to the next screen, where a picture of the fossilized Jaffa that was found with the Gate was featured.

          “Horus Guard.”  Mitchell guessed.  “Huh.”  He couldn’t remember seeing the picture before.

          “Yeah.  We know that now, but then no one had a clue.”  Sam said.

          “It intrigued them enough to keep digging, anyway.”  Daniel nodded, going to the next screen, this time the cover stones Catherine had recruited him to translate.  “If they hadn’t, Dr. Langford would not have found these cover stones nor what lay beneath.”  He zoomed in on the picture.  “These stones and what they hid were even more mysterious and incredible.  For a few years, Dr. Langford and his colleagues studied the artefacts but were unable to decipher much of the writings and symbols.  But when Hitler started making moves on Czechoslovakia and Austria, and finally Poland, Dr. Langford packed his discoveries up and shipped them to the USA for safety and further study.  1939, I believe it was.

          “Despite the fact that they couldn’t really understand what the cover stones said or what the strange symbols were, they did manage something – completely out of pure luck.”  Daniel paused, sharing a look with Sam and Teal’c, wishing Jack were there, too, as he remembered finding out about the 1940s experiments – the ones that eventually sent Ernest Littlefield to another planet where he was trapped for 50-odd years.  Alone.  “You see, under the cover stones, they found a giant ring made of some unknown material.  It was a device of some kind, and on it were symbols that were the same as the ones on the stones.”

          “What do you mean ‘a device?’”  Steven asked.  “That describes a lot of things.  The Egyptians didn’t use much mechanical technology, not on the scale that those stones suggest.”

          “You’d be surprised.”  Sam shook her head.

          Daniel quirked a tiny smile.  “To be fair, you’re right.  This device was not something the Egyptians – or any other human civilization on Earth at the time – could ever have created.  But I’ll get back to it in a moment.  Dr. Langford and his people finally made the device work, as I said, on a complete fluke.  A man on Dr. Langford’s team, Dr. Ernest Littlefield…used the device.  However, because they had no idea what it really was or what it did, when Dr. Littlefield disappeared, the project was shut down and research halted immediately.  They deemed the device too dangerous and unknown to continue to risk lives to study it.”

          Daniel moved to the next slide, where a picture of Catherine was featured.  “In the late 1960s,” he coughed at the memory of their trip back in time, while Sam and Teal’c were sharing amused looks and Mitchell was grinning (he’d finally gotten the tale out of his team one night), “Dr. Langford’s daughter, Catherine, took up where her father left off when he died.  For many years, she worked to try and decipher the symbols, and fought with several federal administrations to revive the project and to continue the funding for it.  It wasn’t until the…early ‘90s, Sam?”  She nodded.  “Yes, early ‘90s that enough progress was made that they nearly reached the same point that her father had reached decades earlier.  Sam, here, was part of that project team, though most of her work was done in Washington.”  Daniel paused thoughtfully.  “Oh, and I should mention all the work her father’s team had done was classified and buried away for years.  Catherine didn’t know about the successful use of the device, as her father never told her.”  Daniel frowned, almost to himself, and his arms came up in his unconscious self-hug.  He glanced at Sam for help, as he’d reached the parts he’d been dreading.

          He really wished Jack were there for so many different reasons.

          Sam rose and moved around the table, placing a hand on her little brother’s shoulder and squeezing before plucking the remote for the projector from his hand.  “Sit.  I’ve got it.”  Daniel sank into his chair gratefully.

          “Catherine,” Sam started, “had two teams working on the device; one was here in the Mountain, the other was in D.C.  Most of us who were on the hard science-end of things were in D.C.  The rest – archaeologists, linguists, etc. – were here working on the cover stones.”  She shot Daniel a fond grin.  “All together we were able to get quite far, actually – which is a miracle considering the translations we had were apparently incredibly off.”

          “Budge.”  Daniel cursed the name with a scowl.  Vala patted his hand soothingly, by now having learned the evils of the famous Egyptian translator’s work.  He missed the startled blinks on Sarah’s and Steven’s faces at his disdain of an accepted source.

          “Yes, well, we didn’t know better.”  Sam’s grin widened.  “Now we do.  Anyway…Catherine got frustrated with the lack of progress at one point.  We’d hit a wall that couldn’t seem to be overcome no matter what any of us tried to do.”  Sam let her gaze meet everyone at the table, ending with and holding Daniel’s as her expression softened.  She was about to take her first step into making up for all her perceived competition with him over the years, and to erasing the hostility and jealousy she’d harboured because of it.  She only hoped he would understand and forgive her.  “We had been working on the problem for two years, and during that time, Catherine had – of course – been keeping an eye on whatever was going on in the academic community.  She’d followed the promising career of a young scholar.  He hadn’t even hit thirty yet, and already he had three doctoral degrees.  He spoke and understood a rather phenomenal amount of languages.  And he was coming up with some theories and ideas all on his own that fell in line with our research – without any knowledge of the project on his part.  Catherine watched him closely, and when academia finally turned its back on him, she scooped him up.  She recognized his brilliance and the unique way of thinking that formulated his wild ideas.

          “Daniel was recruited to the programme not half an hour after that last lecture he gave.”  Sam clicked the remote and brought up Daniel’s old ID picture and stats.  “Catherine welcomed him with open arms…and he didn’t disappoint.”  She drew herself up to attention, catching Daniel’s blue, blue eyes with her own lighter version.  “Daniel did what we could not in two years.  Daniel did it in two weeks.  And to make it more impressive, all he saw were the cover stones.  Not the fossil remains, nor the device.  He re-translated the script on the stones we’d already attempted to translate, then proceeded to figure out what the strange, indecipherable symbols actually were and what the whole thing meant.”

          “Aww, now, Sam…Catherine and/or you would have done the same thing eventually.”  Daniel protested, blushing wildly even after all these years.  “She was no fool, and you…you’re the ‘National treasure’, remember?”  He threw out the descriptor Jack had once pinned her with.

          Sam smiled briefly, but it was a hard smile, and one that held a wealth of self-depreciation.  “And you know, Daniel Jackson, that it would have been too late.  You’ve seen such probabilities.”

          “The quantum mirror from P3R-233.”  Teal’c threw his two cents in with a sage expression.  Daniel’s face flew through a myriad of emotions, but finally he sighed in defeat.  There was no arguing with the stoic Jaffa, after all.  Unless you were Jack O’Neill…

          “Okay, so…Daniel does some translating and the result is that you get your device to work.”  Steven summarized.  Sam nodded.  “Well, that’s all well and good, but what the hell is it?  What was so damn special about it that the Air Force and the government make it as top secret as can possibly exist?”

          Daniel studied his lap for a brief moment then got up, taking the remote from Sam.  He wasn’t surprised at the lack of reaction from his old peers.  They both knew and respected his skill with languages, and they were used to his intuitive, correct leaps of translation.  Sarah’s problem with him had always been his lack of ambition, while Steven’s hadn’t been Daniel’s talents but the way he used them by coming up with his outrageous theories and insisting on their truth to the detriment of his career and those around him.  And of course, Steven hadn’t liked being second best to Daniel, always in his shadow.  But he’d never once denied Daniel’s skill – he just insisted his own were as worthy.

          “You’ll recall my theories.” Daniel began, in answer to the other man’s question.  Sarah, he could see, was already putting pieces of the puzzle together for herself, thanks to the few scattered memories she held from her time as Osiris’ host.  “I believed that the Pyramids were far older than was currently accepted, and I believed I could prove it because I had found evidence through several old dialects that the scripts the Egyptians and other ancient cultures used were actually attributed to what had to be a much older language…”

          “Yes, yes, get to the point.”  Steven waved that aside impatiently.  Frowning, Daniel leaned forward, hands bracing his weight on the table.

          “I have never actually attributed the Pyramids or any other of my theories to aliens, Steven.  That was actually some malicious additions by some of my worst critics, additions that I could never shake no matter what I tried to say.  I eventually stopped trying.”  Daniel walked slowly around the table toward the wall where the switch was located that would raise the blast shield over the window to the Gate room below.  “Irony of all ironies, even without the aliens, I was right.  With the aliens, I was even more right.”

          “What?!”  Now Steven was looking at him like he was insane.

          “The fossil remains that were found are the remains of a man from a race of humans that were taken from our world…a really long time ago.”  Mitchell decided it was time to help out, not liking how this guy was treating Daniel.  “They were genetically altered to serve both as elite armies and…uh, incubators for the young of the race who came here.”  He shot an apologetic glance at Teal’c.  “No offence, Teal’c.”

          “None taken, ColonelMitchell, as that is essentially what we once were.”

          Steven stared at Teal’c.  “What?” he said again, faintly.

          “They’re called Jaffa.  Teal’c here, is one of them.  He doesn’t serve those aliens anymore, though.”  Mitchell added, clapping the warrior on the shoulder.

          “Indeed.  Not in any capacity.”

          “The race of beings that did this are called Goa’uld.  They’re a parasitical creature that use humans as hosts to survive.  They are highly intelligent, and egomaniacal, arrogant, selfish, greedy little snakes.”  Cam made a face.  “They’re also scavengers; none of the technology or knowledge they have was originally their own.  They take what is useful to them from other races – usually those they take as hosts – and they may or may not modify it to their own ends.”

          “The Goa’uld, you see,” Daniel interjected, “came here to Earth several millennia ago.  They found primitive man here, found us to be easily controlled and easily maintained and so took hundreds of thousands away with them.  Some were made hosts, others were changed to become Jaffa, and the rest were used as slaves.  Humans are all over this galaxy, Steven, brought to other planets by the Goa’uld who set themselves up as gods.”  Daniel brought up another screen that showed the original script and his own translations of it from the cover stones.  Sam pulled out the little device her father and Selmac had left with her (the one that projected a holographic ‘family tree’ of the System Lords) and pushed it toward the middle of the table after turning it on.  Daniel gestured at it.  “Sam’s father became a liaison between us and a race called the Tok’ra.  He gave us this handy little thing.”  He smiled inwardly at the fascination on both scholars’ faces (though Sarah looked a little pale).  “It’s the known Pantheon of the Goa’uld System Lords.  You may notice that they’re also the Egyptian Pantheon.  The Goa’uld are, indeed, the basis for many Earth-based pantheons – or at least they usurped those deities and took on their identities for themselves.  We might never know for sure which is true.”

          “Which ones?”  Sarah asked, looking away from the hologram with a pinched expression.  Her memories were haunting her, but she was bravely moving past them.

          “That we’ve encountered…Egyptian, Babylonian or Sumerian, Greek, Celtic, Hindu, Chinese, Japanese, Mayan or Aztec…” Daniel shrugged.  “I doubt that every deity from these cultures was actually a Goa’uld.  Some may have been Tok’ra.  Others could well have been just as we know them to be – myths and legends and religious figures.  We do know that the Norse gods are of another race, but…that’s another story.”  Daniel smiled, albeit sadly.

          “The Goa’uld transported humans from Earth in two ways – by ship and by means of the device found in Giza under the cover stones.”  Sam said, turning off the hologram.  “The device is capable of utilizing massive amounts of energy to create and maintain a stable wormhole with another device on the other end.  Matter enters the wormhole, is de-materialized, transported, and re-materialized by the receiving device.  In less than four seconds, people and objects can be transported light years away to other planets – even other galaxies.”

          There was a short pause, where Daniel and Sam let all the information sink in.

          “So…what happened to me…” Sarah wondered quietly, “That was one of these Goa’uld?”

          “Yes.”  Daniel gave her a sympathetic, understanding head bob.  “It was Osiris in that canopic jar.  The other jar contained Isis, but the seal had broken long, long ago and that symbiote died.”

          “Okay, whoa, whoa, whoa!  Hold it, Jackson.”  Steven glared at him, pushing back in his chair from the table.  “You’re not seriously expecting us to believe such a crazy, ridiculous tale!  Aliens?  Parasites that are actually the ancient gods of mythology?  Wormholes and travel to other planets?”  His voice raised with each incredulous statement.  “Come on!”

          “Steven…” Sarah turned, trying to placate him.

          “It’s all true, Steven.  I know how it sounds.  Believe me…I get that it’s pretty fantastic sci-fi show material.”  Daniel sighed, pushing his glasses up his nose and pinching at the bridge to attempt to get rid of the on-coming headache he felt.  “But it’s true, nonetheless.  I’ve been living it for over eleven years.  Teal’c and Vala…have lived it their entire lives.”

          “And really, man, do you think the governments of several nations, as well as the US military, would ever run something like this at such a huge expense if it wasn’t completely the truth?”  Mitchell pointed out obligingly.

          “Look, you’ll get the full, in-depth coverage of everything over the next month or so, Steven.”  Daniel crossed his arms over his chest.  “It’s a lot to take in, and you will have to start looking at a lot of things differently, but I know you can do that, and I know you’ll see how important it is.”

          “I don’t believe this.  It’s insane!”  Steven reiterated, desperately.

          “They’re not lying or making it up.”  Sarah reached out, attempting to settle him, but he turned on her next.

          “You believe this…this…fairytale?  No.  Of course, you do.”  Steven scoffed with disdain.  “You always took his side, his view.  Always believed in how brilliant and innovative his ideas were.  The only smart thing you did was dropping him before he ruined your career the way he has his own!”

          Sarah recoiled as if she’d been slapped, turning pale as porcelain.

          “And yet you’re allowing him to create this elaborate farce and spin this insane fantasy world without question!”  Steven whirled on Daniel once again, not noticing the dark, foreboding expression currently hardening the face of the SGC’s premiere linguist.  “You had talent, Daniel.  Skill.  You threw it all away on those asinine notions of yours.  That’s what this is really about, isn’t it?  You’re trying to get back what you threw away.  Well, I won’t help you!  And I won’t let you do this to Sarah, either!”

           Furious in a way Daniel hadn’t felt since the last time he’d been in the presence of the Others as they sat back and let Oma Desala take on Anubis alone for all eternity, he leaned over the table with both hands flat on the table top, bracing his weight, as he gave Steven the full, blue-fired glare that he normally reserved for the Goa’uld and Priors.  Rather than yelling back, however, his voice was low and precise.

          “This has never been about me or my career, nor about you, or Sarah, or any of your past issues with me.  That you would accuse me of using Sarah or yourself to ‘gain back’ my career is both laughable and insulting.”

          “Besides which, our work is classified and Daniel can’t use any of what he’s learned outside of the programme.”  Sam added in a tight voice.  “He can’t get any recognition for his achievements from his peers!”

          Daniel held up a hand, demanding silence.  Sam sat back, clearly wishing to say more, but obliged.  “I thought better of you Steven.  I thought you were capable of handling the truth, and that once you knew you would be a valuable asset to the programme.  I also thought your scholarly curiosity was stronger than your jealous animosity toward me, but I see I was wrong on all counts.  Then again, you don’t know me any better, so I suppose I can’t say much.  You need to grow up, Steven Rayner, and stop being an ass.  Personally, it’s embarrassing and professionally it’s very unattractive.

          “There is a war on, Steven.  A dire one.  We are barely staying ahead of the bad guys this time.  I’m needed to fight that war, and I don’t have time to waste babysitting your ego and coddling your temper tantrums.  The world as you knew it is gone, Steven.”  Daniel stood straight, his expression hard and unforgiving.  “You’re in my world now.  And here, attitude like yours doesn’t survive a week.”

          With that, Daniel strode from the room in long, angry steps that didn’t bode well for anyone who got in his way.

          Vala turned her own blue glare of death on the sputtering Steven as she hopped up from her seat.  “I suggest you stay away from my Daniel for a very long time.  He does not deserve to be hurt like this, and if you’re too stupid to understand the gifts he was trying to give you, then you had better stay away from me, also.”  To her team, Vala said, “I’ll go after him,” before hurrying out the door at Mitchell’s wave and nod.

          Teal’c, ever silent, simply rose from his chair, gave Steven a good long stare of disapproval, then walked calmly out without a word.  Sam and Mitchell exchanged glances and looked down the table at Steven and Sarah – who looked near to tears with distress and uncertainty.

          “Well, this will be a good time for a break.”  Mitchell drawled in a deceptively lazy way.  “I think you two could use a moment.  Some time to think things through and see if you can’t gain a little perspective on the situation.”

          Before anyone could speak up, an aggravated, “What the hell?  For cryin’ out loud!” came from the open door of the briefing room.  Both officers got to their feet as Jack stalked into the room with an expression of equal parts annoyance, concern, anger, and confusion.

          “Sir.”  Carter greeted him, at the same moment as Cam’s, “General!”

          “Carter.  Mitchell.”  Jack swept the room at a glance, raising an eyebrow at the two scholars sitting at the far end of the table.  He then looked back at his officers.  “So, kids…someone want to tell me why I was very nearly mowed down in the hall just now by one very pissed off Dr. Jackson?  And then again by Ms. MalDoran?  Neither of whom would stop to give me the time of day?”

          Sam sighed.  “There was…an altercation, sir, between Daniel and Dr. Rayner.”

          “We’ve called an indefinite break to the briefing until cooler heads prevail.”  Cam added.  “I was just about to call for someone to escort the Doctors, here, to their quarters so they can rest and…think upon the error of their ways.”

          Steven opened his mouth to say something that would no doubt be caustic in reply but Sarah hissed his name angrily and her hand clamped down on his forearm.  Hard.  She then spoke for them both.

          “Thank you, Colonel.  I appreciate it.”

          Jack eyed the exchange then nodded when Mitchell looked to him for permission and dismissal.  “Carter…walk and talk.”

          “Yes, sir.”  Relieved, she followed him out the door and through the halls toward his office.  In short form, she told him what happened.

~*~*~*~*~

          Jack rubbed a hand over his face in consternation and dropped down into his chair at his desk, gesturing for Cater to take one of the visitor seats.  “Well joy.  Why does shit like this always hit the fan and land on Daniel’s head?  I don’t understand how this Rayman guy can hold such a stupid grudge.”

          “It’s…” Sam hesitated, trying to explain, “It’s professional jealousy that turned personal, sir.  For scholars of any kind, professional rivalries – and jealousies – come with the territory.  Most, however, are never taken to a personal level as Steven Rayner obviously has done with Daniel.”  She sighed deeply, worrying about Daniel.  “And I suspect that what makes it worse is – and I’m just speculating – that Rayner is jealous more because of Sarah than of Daniel’s career and talents.”

          Jack frowned.  “Huh?”

          “Sarah is an attractive, intelligent woman.  But to Steven, she’s always looked at Daniel instead of him – in both professional and personal areas.  He is probably seeing all this as just another way he’s going to lose out to Daniel, and he’s snapping at him because of it.”

          “Ah.”  Jack scowled, unhappy.  “Well he can just chill for a while, because he won’t get away with that load of crap around here.  Besides which, Daniel’s spoken for.  He has no interest in that Sarah woman outside of work stuff.”

          Sam had to smile at the growled possessiveness.  “We know that, sir, but Steven doesn’t.  And you can’t tell him why.”  She felt obliged to remind him.

          “Right.  I knew that.”  Jack clamped down on the urge to run to Rayner’s quarters and declare his ownership of Daniel – which was both juvenile and caveman all at once.  “So you think Rayman thinks he’s fighting Daniel for Sarah, and he’s using this new job as a forum for it?  Or at least as an excuse?”

          “Yep.”  Carter nodded.

          “What is this place coming to?  I’m back one day and already it’s turning into a soap opera!”  It sounded like a complaint, but Jack’s pleased, smug smile said otherwise.

          “Glad to be back, sir?”  Carter snickered lightly.

          “Hell, yes!  Though I should go find my angry archaeologist and calm him down.”  Jack rose from his desk, giving a Sam a questioning eye.  “You’re house-sitting for Landry?”

          “If you mean watching over the SGC while he’s aboard Odyssey for his meeting…yes, sir.”  Carter followed the General out of his office.

          “Good.  Keeley!”  Jack bellowed.  The Lieutenant popped her head out the small office she occupied.

          “Sir?”

          “I’ve got my pager if you need me.”  He pulled it out and waggled it at her.  “I’ll be somewhere around the mountain – but try not to need me.”

          Nodding her understanding, Keeley saluted.  “Yes, sir.”  She watched him trot off down the hall in puzzlement, then suddenly exclaimed, “Oh!  I don’t have your pager number!”

          Sam smiled ruefully and took pity on the young woman.  “I do, Lieutenant.  Do you have a pen and a post-it note?”

~*~*~*~*~

          Jack made short work of checking all Daniel’s usual hiding places (his lab, Carter’s lab, all the labs, the base library and archives, the commissary, his on-base quarters, Vala’s quarters, Teal’c’s quarters, Mitchell’s quarters, the gym & training room, and even the firing range) but still couldn’t pin the man down.  Until a helpful Dr. Lee bumped into him on the way back to Daniel’s lab.

          “Oh!  I’m so very sorry, General O’Neill.”  The flustered Lee apologized quickly.  “I didn’t see you.  Oh, and hey!  Welcome back, sir.”

          “Dr. Lee.”  Jack patted the scientist on the shoulder.  “Thanks.  It’s good to be back.  Have you seen Daniel?”

          “Dr. Jackson?  Why yes, as a matter of fact…about twenty minutes ago in the elevator.  He seemed very annoyed and angry, and Ms. MalDoran wasn’t looking very pleased either.”  Lee looked at Jack in concern.  “I thought there was a briefing today for the new Earth-side team leaders?”

          “Yes.”  Was all Jack said.  “Did he say where he was going?”

          Bill scratched his head thoughtfully, juggling his files and coffee mug.  “Well, no, not specifically.  Daniel muttered something about needing fresh air and sunshine, but…”

          “Ah.”  Jack nodded, already heading for the elevator.  “Thanks!”

          “Sure…” Bill answered, bemusedly.

          The guards at both checkpoints on the way up to the surface confirmed that Daniel and Vala had passed through (but not checked out).  Satisfied, Jack made the short hike a little farther up the mountain on a little-used footpath until he reached a small clearing in the trees.  There he found the two in an area that looked out over the Springs way down below at the base of the Mountain.

          Vala was seated on a fallen, moss-covered log, posture perfect, while she silently watched Daniel pace back and forth next to her.  He was in full rant, with arms and hands waving about expressively.  He was not, however, speaking English – instead spewing his wrath in a jumble of Abydonian, Ancient, and (oddly) Gaelic.  Amusement overshadowed concern for a moment as Jack ambled his way over to the log and plunked himself down next to the dark-haired woman.

          “So!” he said, loudly, smiling with the full O’Neill charm and with his impression of an Irish accent, “A mite vexed, is he?”

          Daniel heard, spared him a glare, and went back to venting.

          “A tad, yes.  Though I can’t blame him.  That man was not only rude and insulting but extremely ungrateful and…mean!”  Vala crossed her arms over her chest.  “If I’d had a Zat at the time I would have shot him.”

          “You and me both, sister – had I been there.”  Jack had to agree.  “Only I wouldn’t have had a Zat.  I’d use my side-arm.”

          “No, you wouldn’t.”  Daniel spat out knowingly between breaths.

          “No, I wouldn’t.”  Jack agreed smoothly, keeping one eye on the irate linguist.  “But only because a) Daniel would shoot me, and b) too much paperwork.  I’ve got enough paperwork as is.”

          “I will never understand your people’s dependence on bureaucracy and all that paper.  All those forms and reports, and reports about the reports…”

          “Ha!  You think it’s bad now?  Should have seen it before computers!”  Jack shuddered dramatically and Vala put on a suitably horrified expression.

          “I don’t even want to imagine it!”

          A moment of silence fell, and they watched Daniel a bit longer before Jack leaned in and asked, “How long has he been at it?”

          “A good half an hour, I believe.  Nothing I say or do seems to help, I’m afraid.”  Vala admitted, looking rather put out about it.  It pained her to admit it, but she didn’t think anyone but the silver-haired General sitting beside her could have any hope of calming Daniel down.

          “He’ll run out of steam soon.  I’ll take care of him.”  Jack gave her knee a pat and pushed himself up from the log.  Vala stood and sighed.

          “I will leave him to you, then, O’Neill, while I track down Mitchell and see if he has any plans for tonight.”  She rubbed her hands together gleefully.  Jack blinked and shook his head.

          “You want to date Mitchell?”

          “Well, you’ve gone and taken away all of Daniel’s affection, and I rather doubt Teal’c would succumb to my considerable charms.  And quite frankly, how is a girl supposed to hook up with potential…suitors if one can’t leave the base on her own?”  Vala planted her hands on her hips, one foot tapping.

          “Right.  Good point.”  Jack scratched his temple at the picture of Vala and Cameron together, then shook his head.  “Well…good luck with that.”

          “Thank you.”  Vala smiled and headed for the path.

          Jack watched her go, briefly wondering where she would fit in a relationship with anyone on base within the context of the regs for fraternization.  Then he decided it didn’t matter since – hello – he was dating his archaeologist who was subordinate to him.  Technically.  And male, just to add another bit of spice to the violation of regs.

          He turned back to said male, subordinate social-scientist and waited until Daniel paced close by him to reach out and snag the man by an arm and pull him to a stop.

          “Whoa, there, Dannyboy.  You’re making me dizzy watching you.”  Jack soothed, rubbing his hands up and down Daniel’s BDU-covered arms.  “You know the guy is a jealous asshole, and worse, he’s spouting off without knowing what he’s even talking about.  Don’t let him do this to you, Daniel.”

          “I can’t help it, Jack!  I just can’t understand why he refuses to put the past behind him and grab on to something important like this!”  Daniel looked like he was going to explode, his face quite red and his eyes glittering with ire.  “I’ve made a huge mistake bringing him here.  I never should have…”

          “Okay, hold it right there, Daniel.”  Jack interrupted firmly, wagging a finger in emphasis.  “You only did as you thought best.  You believed in the jerk, and you’re trying to do something great for him.  It isn’t your fault he’s too insecure to see that and accept it for what it is.  As for the rest of the problem…Carter had a thought.”

          Scowling, Daniel crossed his arms like a petulant child.  “Did she.”  It wasn’t a question.

          “Yes.”  Jack responded mildly, giving him a scolding glance at his uncharitable tone.  “She did.  She said it seemed very much as if Rayman…”

          “Rayner!”  Daniel rolled his eyes in exasperation at Jack’s usual way of screwing up people’s names purposely.

          “…whatever…was maybe more jealous about Sarah than anything.”  Jack sat back down on the log and gave it pat beside him in invitation.  Daniel sighed and sat down.  “She said it seemed like he was very jealous that Sarah believed you, accepted your theories and all that, and that she was so focused on you that she barely paid attention to him.”

          Daniel blinked.  “That’s ridiculous, Jack.”

          “Is it?”  The older man wondered with a raised eyebrow.  “Look at it from his viewpoint and think.  The woman’s not ugly, for sure, and she’s intelligent – something I imagine the kid appreciates as much as you would.  He falls for her, but like Dr. Jordan and most of the others among your peers, she is very intrigued and attracted to you.  She doesn’t see Rayner, ya know?”

          “Okay, maybe back then, but Sarah and I broke up a couple of months before that disaster of a presentation of mine, and we’d had problems for weeks before that.  Sarah wasn’t really that fond of me anymore.”  Daniel protested.  “And after I got into the programme, I had no contact with either of them until Dr. Jordan died.”

          “So?  Time isn’t a part of it when you’re so stuck on someone like that.”  Jack argued.  “If it was Sha’re who was between you…if she’d been looking only at him and not you, as much as you tried, would you feel any different?”

          “Yes, because I’m not Steven.”  Daniel waved the argument aside.  “You know I would do anything for someone I love, Jack, as long as they’re happy – including step aside and never say anything, denying myself.”  He gave his lover a very pointed stare, thinking of Sam.

          “…Right.  But you get my point!”  Jack continued, holding up a hand, “Aht!  I’m not done.  You’re out of the picture, and he thinks he has all the time in the world to get her attention, except that it’s years of time wasted when weird things start happening, your old mentor dies mysteriously, and suddenly you are back in the picture.  You breeze in like a superhero, saving the day – not to mention you seem to know what the hell’s going on when no one else does – further rubbing salt in the wounds.  And then a couple years later and you, again, apparently save Sarah.  Again.”

          Daniel groaned, feeling the bulk of the tension suddenly dissipate from his body.  It left him with a headache.  He slumped dejectedly.  “I see.  And now…I come busting in, tearing apart his exhibition, and dragging both of them into what seems like a bad science fiction novel just when he’s finally making his own way outside my shadow.”

          “Yeah.”  Jack dropped a hand on Daniel’s thigh and rubbed up and down slowly in sympathy.  “He’s being so resistant because of his jealousy, Daniel.  A part of him, I suspect, is afraid of all this, too.  Because if it is real, then he has to accept that you’ve ‘won’ yet again, and worse, he has to admit it.  Plus, he’ll once again have to work in your ‘shadow,’ whether he likes it or not.”

          Daniel closed his eyes and dropped his head on Jack’s shoulder, thinking it all through in silence.  He almost didn’t notice when Jack slipped his arm around Daniel and kneaded at the knotted muscles in his neck and shoulders.

          “So what do I do?”  he finally asked quietly.  “I can’t tell him I’m not after Sarah because I’m with you.  It’s too late to send him on his way; he’s going to have to learn the rest of it because I have no doubt he’ll use what he already knows somehow, non-disclosure forms or not.”

          “Is he a security risk?”  Jack frowned, hating to ask.

          “No.  I think if you, or Landry, impress upon him the fact that he could be up on treason charges if he leaks anything…”

          “Ah.  How far did you get in the briefing, anyway?”

          “Actually, not that far.”  Daniel laughed at the ridiculousness of the whole thing.  “Weasel Woolsey told them nothing, Jack.  Not even the basics.  I had to start at the very beginning.”

          “I think Dick needs a new career.”  Jack muttered, annoyed.  “So you had to tell them about the Gate, Giza, Catherine, the programme…all of it?” he queried with a sigh when Daniel nodded unhappily.

          “Except I didn’t get as far as actually talking about the Stargate and ‘Gate travel 101’ as the recruits have dubbed it.  The minute I started talking about aliens was when Steven decided to rain on my parade.”

          Jack sighed again and gestured at the ground in front of himself, between his feet.  “Here, Danny.  Sit down here, facing away.”  At the odd look he got from his mate, he rolled his eyes.  “For cryin’ out loud, Danny, just do it.  Please.”  Daniel warily obeyed, then let out a tiny moan as Jack’s strong hands began to massage the tension out of his back, shoulders, and neck more thoroughly than he’d been doing before.  “There, see?  Better all ‘round.  Now,” Jack continued the massage as he spoke, “I have to agree with you that we’ll just have to tell them all of the rest of it, since they’re this far in anyway.  But maybe if we did it less formally?  Like, instead of a full-briefing that we’re all used to, maybe take them on a tour of the SGC, explaining things as you go.  And once he’s seen the whole show, I think…the one way to prove it all to him, finally…”

          Daniel caught on pretty quickly for someone completely distracted by a most excellent massage.  “Take him through the Gate.”

          “Yeah.  In fact, take him on a tour of the galaxy.  Let him see exactly what it is we’re really doing here and out there.”  Jack waved a hand up at the afternoon sky that was ever so slightly beginning to fall to dusk.  “I’m sure Carter can come up with a list of five or six planets that are still relatively safe that you could drop by.”

          Relaxing back into the comfort and warmth of Jack’s stomach and groin, his head resting just below Jack’s heart with the older man’s legs stretched out along either side of him, Daniel smiled and reached for Jack’s hands.  “I think you may be on to something, General O’Neill.”

          “Ya think?  These stars aren’t entirely for decoration, Dr. Jackson.”

          “Putz.”

          “Yours.”

          “Very.”  Daniel half-turned, tilting his head up to meet his lover’s mouth in a sweet, lazy, and long kiss full of affection and humour.  After a few moments, though, his brain interfered and he broke away abruptly.  “We’re safe up here, right?”

          “Huh?  Oh.  Yeah, Danny.  No need for surveillance cameras.  You can’t get this far up the mountain without someone knowing about it, and short of flying in – which our radar would pick up long before any chopper or plane got close – there’s no reason for security up here.”  Jack reassured him, then whined playfully, “Can we get back to the kissing now?”

          Grinning, Daniel pulled him back in.

~*~*~*~*~

          Daniel steeled himself and raised a hand to rap his knuckles on the door to Steven’s quarters.  It was a little after 1700 hours, and though this was the official time he was supposed to go off-duty, the linguist wanted to get most of the rest of the briefing out of the way.  He’d decided Jack’s idea was a good one, and intended to take both Steven and Sarah on the penny tour of the SGC.

          The metal door clanged open and Daniel did his best to look neutral, but pleasant.  He could do this.  Really.  “Steven.” He greeted the man politely.

          “Daniel.”  Steven returned warily.  Daniel blinked, hiding his surprise at the man’s weary face.  He looked tired and emotionally wrung out.  “Come in.”  Steven stepped back and left Daniel to follow.

          Doing so, he closed the door and was more surprised that Steven wasn’t alone.  Sarah was sitting at the little table in one corner of the room, teacup in hand.  She gave him a tiny, pinched smile, but said nothing.

          “I’m sorry.”  Daniel apologized.  “I didn’t know you were here, too, Sarah.  I can come back later…”

          “It’s fine, Daniel.”  Sarah shook her head.  “You weren’t interrupting anything.”

          “Just the strips that Sarah’s been tearing off me.”  Steven dropped down on the end of the bed looking very embarrassed and chagrined.  He also appeared very uncomfortable.  “She’s been explaining exactly what happened to her when Dr. Jordan died, and she’s doing her best to impress upon me how much of an asshole I’ve been to both of you – especially you, Daniel.”

          Okay.  So that wasn’t what Daniel had expected.  Grabbing the second chair, he sat down hard, shooting glances between the two.  He said nothing, as there really wasn’t anything to be said.

          “I want to apologize for my unprofessional behaviour, earlier.  There was no excuse for it, no matter what personal issues I apparently still harbour.”  Steven continued, straightening and making eye contact with Daniel.

          Rubbing a hand over his face, Daniel adjusted his glasses.  “Apology accepted.”  He gave the consideration merited its due, recognizing the sincerity behind it for what it was.  It was a step in the right direction, anyway.

          Sarah put her teacup down and stood.  “I should leave you to talk.”

          “No.”  Daniel shook his head and held up a hand, standing also.  “It’s fine, Sarah.  I was actually going to come for you next.  Instead of continuing the briefing in the usual way, I had it suggested to me that I should take you both on a tour of the SGC and fill you in as I go.  Then you can see what we do around here.”  He offered a small smile of his own.  “I thought we’d start with the commissary.  Are you hungry?”

          Steven got to his feet, shoving his hands in his pants’ pockets.  “Dinner sounds good.”

          Sarah nodded in agreement.  “It does.”

          “Let’s go, then.”

~*~*~*~*~

          After a quick meal in the commissary (joined by Nyan, Bill Lee, and Sam), Daniel led his new recruits through the halls of the SGC, level by level.  He started on 18, where his lab was, as well as the rest of the archaeological, anthropological, and linguistics labs were located.  Sarah and Steven very carefully poked around his lab as he explained the Goa’uld in more detail, occasionally answering questions when they asked.  Daniel also explained about the Asgard and the Nox, and about the Great Alliance of the Four Great Races.

          Next he took them down one more level, to 19, and gave them a brief tour of the science labs.  They left Dr. Lee and Sam arguing physics and math about their current projects-in-progress (none of which Daniel had any real idea of what it was about).

          Level 20 and all its medical glory was a quick trip.  Dr. Lam was already off-duty and gone by the time they got there, so Daniel didn’t get the chance to introduce her.

          Rather than showing them the next few levels – where it was all mostly military toys and equipment that neither archaeologist would be interested in anyway – Daniel simply skipped them and told them what was on each level.  Instead, he took them directly to Level 28.

          “So this is the heart of the SGC.”  He said as they stepped off the elevator.  “We’re at the bottom of the converted silo, the very lowest level in the Mountain.  All the action usually starts here.”  He paused just below the stairs that led up into the control room.  “Up there is the main computer and the nerve-centre for SGC operations.”  Daniel motioned for them to follow him a little farther, where he turned and entered the Gate room beyond the blast doors after swiping his security card.  “And that is the reason we’re all here.”

          Steven stared up at the huge ring, curious and surprised.  “What is it?”

          Daniel walked up to the edge of the ramp, folding his arms as he gazed up at the object that was his destiny.  For all the pain and suffering, tragedy and death, it still awed him, still filled him with wonder.

          “A million years into the sky, the Sun God Ra sealed and buried for all time the Stargate.”  He recited quietly, the memory suddenly crystal clear in his mind.  Steven and Sarah looked at him curiously.  “Those were the words inscribed on the cover stones from Giza.  This device, the Stargate, was what lay beneath the heavy stones for nearly 5,000 years.”

          They looked back up at the Gate.  “That’s the device you were talking about?  The one that creates wormholes so you can travel to other planets?”  Steven sounded a little incredulous.

          “Yep.  Just don’t ask me how it works.  That’s Sam’s department.”  Daniel chuckled, thinking of Jack and how Sam’s techno-babble never ceased to drive the man crazy.  “Tomorrow you might just get to experience it firsthand.”

          Sarah dragged her gaze from the Gate to look at him apprehensively.  “What do you mean?”

          “You don’t have to, Sarah, if you’re not ready yet.  But Jack – General O’Neill – suggested a whirlwind tour of the galaxy.  My team and I would take you to…oh, five or six different planets.  Friendly ones, of course.   As safe as possible, with things as they are.”  Daniel didn’t want to think about the possibilities of running into rogue Jaffa, more Baal clones, Ori soldiers and/or Priors, or worse – Adria coming back as a fully Ascended being.

          “Seriously?”  Steven asked, sounding excited and just a touch afraid.

          “I don’t know, Daniel…” Sarah frowned, glancing sideways at the Gate.

          “You don’t have to.  No one will make you go, Sarah.  Just…think about it over night.”  Daniel reassured her, taking her hand and squeezing.

          Before she could say anything, the Gate came to life.  Klaxons blaring all around, Daniel pulled Steven and Sarah from the room as Walter declared, “Incoming! Unscheduled off-world activation!” and the iris swirled shut.

          “Come.”  Daniel took them up to the control room.  “Who’s calling, Walter?”

          “I’m not…ah.”  Walter frowned at one of his screens.  “Hey, it’s the Kelownan’s IDC!”

          “Jonas?”  Daniel’s eyes went wide.

          “I have a signal coming through…video.”  Walter brought it up on the overhead monitors.

          It was Jonas Quinn, and Daniel gave a startled gasp of concern at the younger man’s appearance.  “Oh my god.  He looks horrible!”  Daniel leaned over the mic, ready to speak to their friend just as Mitchell came clanking down the metal stairs from the briefing room.

          “Hello?  Stargate Command, this is Jonas Quinn from Kelowna…does anyone read me?”  Jonas’ voice came out over the speakers, sounding exhausted, anxious, and hoarse.  “Please, if you can hear me…I’m requesting asylum, and I don’t have much time before I’m discovered or the bomb goes off!”

          “Quinn?”  Mitchell glanced at Daniel.  “Isn’t he the one with the Naqahdriah…”

          “Yes.  Get a med team to the Gate room, Cam.”  Daniel cued the mic and nodded at Walter, who slapped a palm to the scanner and opened the iris.  “Jonas!  It’s Daniel!  Come through!”

          “Dr. Jackson?  Thank god.”  Jonas gave a relieved wave at the camera.  “I’m coming through.  Quinn out.”   The video feed died, and a moment later Jonas stumbled through the shimmering blue of the event horizon.

          “Close it down!”  He called up to the control room.  “Close the iris!”  It swirled shut behind him, and a moment later there was a huge BANG! before the Gate shut down and the iris retracted.  Jonas flinched violently at the sound, then collapsed at the foot of the ramp, heedless of the SFs still in the room with their weapons trained on him.

          Stunned and worried, Daniel turned to rush down the stairs, nearly bumping into Steven.  “Oh, sorry.  Look, why don’t you go back to your quarters for now.  I have to…” he gestured at the Gate room distractedly before simply hurrying past the man.  Mitchell was right behind him.

          “Jackson, wait up!”  Cam watched Daniel hurry to he obviously injured and ill man’s side.  “Stand down, boys.”  He waved off the SFs as the medics rushed in.  He pulled Daniel back, out of their way, and watched the medics go to work.  “So what’s going on?”

          “I’m not sure.  We’ve had no communication from Kelowna – or anyone on Langara for that matter – since a few months before Priors started showing up in our galaxy.”  Daniel’s eyebrows knit in concern, and his arms came up in his self-hug.  “There were reports of Ori ships in the area, but no one knew if they’d landed on Langara or destroyed everyone or what.”

          “What bomb was he talking about?”

          Daniel closed his eyes, paling considerably.  “It was probably a Naqahdriah bomb.  The Kelownans developed them…about six years ago.  They were embroiled in a never-ending cold war with the other two nations of their planet.”

          “Shit.  We’re talking what?”  Mitchell shuddered, remembering reading reports from SG1’s encounters with the people of that planet.  “Nuclear war?”

          “Essentially.”

          “God.  And this guy, Jonas Quinn, he was with SG1 for a year, right?  While you were off…doing the glowy thing?”

          “Yeah.  When they found me on Vis Uban, and after the encounter with Anubis on Jonas’ planet, he went home again to act as a mediator between the three Langaran countries.  We only saw him once after that.”  Daniel watched the medics load Jonas on a stretcher and cart him away to the infirmary.  “We should let Sam, Teal’c, and Jack know.  They’ll want to be here when he wakes up.”

          Mitchell dropped a hand on Daniel’s shoulder and squeezed.  “You go tell the General.  I’ll round up the rest of the team and meet you in the infirmary.”

          They split up, Cam to the elevator and Daniel back to the control room and up the stairs.  Cutting though the briefing room, he made his way to Jack’s office.

          He didn’t bother to knock; barging in unannounced was his privilege anyway.

          “Daniel?”  Jack looked up from his mound of paperwork, startled.  “Why, come right in like you own the joint!” He snarked, glowering.  “Have you tried knocking?”

          “Jonas just arrived.  He’s in the infirmary, Jack, and he looks awful.”  Daniel cut across their usual banter without pre-empt, ignoring his partner’s glower.

          “What?!  When did this happen?”  Jack tossed his pen aside and pushed out of his chair, moving around the desk to Daniel.

          “Just now.  Didn’t you hear the klaxons?”

          Jack made a face.  “They go off all the time, Daniel.  And I imagined if they needed me, they’d yell.  Besides…it’s Landry’s party, not mine.”  Still, he didn’t like being out of the loop, resolving to get Siler to set up some monitors for him so he’d at least know what was going on.  “Did you tell Carter and T?”

          Daniel shook his head, leading the way out.  “Mitchell went to get them.”

          “Good.”  Jack paused at his assistant’s door.  “Lieutenant, pack it in for the day.  Looks like I’ll be here indefinitely, anyway.”

          Keeley looked up and managed to nod before Jack was gone again.  She sighed, starting to get used to the way the General seemed to just come and go unexpectedly.

~*~*~*~*~

          It was a familiar sight to many SGC personnel passing through the infirmary level.  SG1, the flagship team, sitting in the hallway on uncomfortable plastic chairs while they waited for news of one of their own.  The only strange thing was that all of SG1 was sitting out there.  They were all accounted for.  And since few knew of Jonas Quinn, and/or knew that he was currently in the mountain and receiving treatment, those who walked by often stopped to inquire – followed by well-wishes to the people who represented everything the programme was about.

          Dr. Carolyn Lam, recalled to duty, finally appeared looking tired but calm and unconcerned.  Seeing the tightly knit group loitering about the hall made her smile.

          “Doc!”  Mitchell was the first to spot her.  “How is he?”

          Thrusting her hands into the pockets of her lab coat, Carolyn smiled as she reassured them.  “Mr. Quinn will be fine.  Eventually.  He’s in pretty rough shape, and I think he’s got a solid month of recovery time facing him – at least.  But he will get back to full health.”

          There was a collective sigh of relief, but it quickly faded into deep concern.  Not surprisingly, it was the General who started asking questions.

          “What’s his condition, then?  Is he awake?  Did he say anything about what happened?”

          “Can we see him?”  Daniel added quietly.

          Carolyn shook her head.  “No, he’s asleep, and I’d prefer to keep him that way.  He didn’t say much the few moments he was lucid, except to ask for you, Dr. Jackson, or you, General.  He also kept calling me ‘Janet’…”  She hesitated, seeing the flinches and winces on Jack, Sam, Teal’c, and especially Daniel’s faces.  Mitchell and Vala looked sad and a little grim.  “I didn’t want to press him.  He’s too weak right now.”

          “It’s alright.”  Jack said gruffly, shaking his head.  He stepped close to Daniel, allowing their shoulders to brush – the only comfort he could offer at the moment.  “When he’s better, he can tell us all about it.”

          “And his condition?”  Sam inquired anxiously, repeating Jack’s question.  Of them all, she had formed the closest relationship to Jonas – considering him almost as she had Daniel, as a brother or cousin similar in age to herself.

          Carolyn sighed and leaned against the wall at her shoulder tiredly.  “He had multiple contusions, and bruising that varies in age.  He has a bruised lung, two broken ribs, and I’d guess he’s suffered from a nasty concussion for some time.”

          “Beaten.”  Mitchell guessed, looking more grim as the doctor recited Jonas’ injuries.

          “Most probably.  However, while that’s all bad enough on its own, he’s also malnourished, dehydrated, and a little anaemic.  He has a pretty bad lump on the back of his head – which would explain the concussion – and I’d say he lost a lot of blood at some point.  Because he hasn’t eaten or consumed enough water – if any at all – lately, he hasn’t been able to heal, repair himself, or gain back the blood he lost.”

          Daniel was looking pretty pale, but managed to sound cool and collected when he spoke.  “Whatever happened, he’s safe now.”

          Jack laid a hand on his shoulder now, squeezing lightly.  “I gotta ask, Dr. Lam…torture?”

          She nodded, then shook her head.  “I know, and…it depends on your definition of the word, General O’Neill.  My opinion would be ‘yes,’ as I view the deprivation of a person’s basic needs for life to be torture – if it’s deliberate.  If he simply could not find food or water for some time, and could not be treated for his injuries for some reason, then no, not torture.”

          Jack frowned, elaborating, “But no obvious signs of it otherwise?  Burns, cuts, whatever?”

          Daniel flinched and leaned in closer to Jack.  Thankfully nobody noticed (or if they did, they didn’t care).

          “No, sir.  There is one last thing, of which you should be aware.”  Carolyn straightened from the wall, meeting each of their gazes momentarily.  “I’ve had him set up in one of the ISO rooms.  He was infected with the Prior’s virus, though for some reason it has yet to…manifest itself as we’ve come to expect.”

          “What?!”  Came the shocked chorus (minus Teal’c).

          “I don’t know why, so don’t ask.  We started him on treatments for it anyway, and likely it will leave his system in the next 48-72 hours just as with anyone else.”  Carolyn explained the treatments, then looked to Jack.  “Luckily, General, everyone in the SGC has been inoculated for the virus, so there hasn’t been a reason to worry about it spreading or needing a quarantine.”

          Jack nodded.  “Good.”

          “May I ask why, then, JonasQuinn is isolated?”  Teal’c asked, looking curious.

          “Both as a precaution for everyone else, and because his immune system has been practically decimated.  He’s extremely susceptible to any viruses we might carry, and to bacterial infections.”  The doctor explained, nodding at the question.  She eyed them all sternly.  “Which is why you will be gowned and masked when you go visit him tomorrow, and until I say otherwise.”

          “Of course.”  Sam looked around at her team.  “So we can see him before we leave?”

          “From the viewing room only, tonight.  He’s in ISO room two.  I don’t want him disturbed.”  Carolyn warned, watching them all hurry down the hall past her.

          Once there, they looked down at their friend in sad, worried silence.  After some time passed, Mitchell spoke up quietly.

          “Listen, there’s no point in all of us staying up all night watching him sleep.  I suggest we take shifts, so that at least we aren’t run down ourselves when he does wake up.”

          “ColonelMitchell is correct.”  Teal’c agreed, his voice a low rumble.  “I would agree to shifts.”

          Jack clapped the young officer on the back in approval.  “Good thinking, Mitchell.”

          “I shall take the first.”  Vala volunteered.  They all looked at her in surprise.  “What?  I may not know him, but he’s obviously important to you, and when he does wake up, he should see people he knows rather than some stranger watching him from up here.”

          Daniel gave her a look that said quite plainly that he was proud of her for that bit of humanity.  “Thank you, Vala.”  He said simply with a smile.

          She tossed her hair over a shoulder and huffed, the faint tinge of red to her cream complexion giving away how pleased she was with that praise from him.  “Mitchell can take the next shift, then…”

          “I shall take the third.”  Teal’c claimed.

          Sam took the fourth, while Jack and Daniel were left to share the fifth.

          “That puts us into the afternoon.  If he hasn’t woken by then, we’ll start over with the shifts.”  Mitchell calculated.  “Change every five hours, okay?”

          Everyone agreed, and so left Vala to the first watch.  Sam offered to bring her some magazines and a laptop to keep her occupied for the duration.

          They split up to go their separate ways.  Teal’c and Sam headed for their quarters, Mitchell went back to his office to finish up his work (still on duty until Landry returned), and Jack followed Daniel to his lab.

          “I don’t want to go home tonight, Jack.”  Daniel told him as they settled down in the back corner of the lab at Daniel’s desk.  “It wouldn’t feel right, you know?”

          “Yeah, Danny.  It’s fine.  I sort of expected that, and feel the same.”  Jack confessed.  He picked up a paperweight and fiddled with it absently.  “We can stay in your quarters here.”

          Daniel blinked, his face running through several emotions.  “Way to be discreet, O’Neill.”  He drawled with a raised eyebrow and deep sarcasm.

          Jack grinned, all innocence.  “What?  There’s no open quarters available on-base, Daniel.  I’d have to double up with someone, anyway.  You’re the obviously the best choice.”

          Daniel shook his head ruefully, not about to argue or look a gift-Jack in the mouth.  “Fine, fine.”

~*~*~*~*~ 

Chapter II

          Jack made a concentrated effort to actually accomplish some work that evening – much to his own amusement.  Then again, he decided, it was more practical to make as big a dent as possible so that when he was mostly distracted by this new situation with Jonas’ arrival over the next couple of days, he’d not have to worry about mountains of paperwork, too.

          When Landry returned and was informed by Mitchell what happened in his absence, he made his way to Jack’s office and the two Generals had a discussion about it.  Hank asked a few questions about Jonas, Kelowna, past missions with the Kelownan scientist on SG1, and about the SGC’s past dealings with the people of Langara.  Jack didn’t mind, considering he was probably the best person to ask anyway, and because Jack had been involved in pretty much every one of those missions – except of course, his stint masquerading as a Tok’ra and Baal’s favourite torture victim.  Thankfully, Hank seemed to know not to bring those subjects up.

          It was nearly 2300 hours when he tiredly made his way to Daniel’s – their – quarters.  And if his lover wasn’t there, and he had to go drag his linguist out from under whatever translations he was buried under…  Well.  Jack grinned to himself.  Life would be back to normal and almost perfect.

          Unlocking the door and going inside, he found the room empty.  With a sigh, Jack pondered his options for a moment before picking up the phone on the bedside table and calling Daniel’s office.

          “Dr. Jackson.”

          “Danny…put it away for the night, big guy.”

          “Jack, it’s important and I want to get as much finished tonight as I can so I’m not worried about it tomorrow.”  Daniel’s voice replied on a sigh tinged with amusement, exasperation, and regret.

          “You also need your sleep.  Let’s start a new precedent and have you actually stop working at a sort-of-reasonable hour instead of 0300.”

          “I’m nearly done…”

          “Daniel, don’t make me come up there and get you.”  Jack threatened, then paused, grinning mischievously.  Even if the phones were monitored by security, he knew how to get around it.  A bit rusty, but still fluent, he continued in the Ancient dialect he’d learned during the infamous Loop incident.  “If I have to get out of bed, put on all my clothes again, and kill this rather impressive erection I’ve gotten all ready for you, I’m not gonna be a happy General.”

          He could almost hear Daniel’s mind run through that, switching rapidly from whatever language he’d been translating, and imagined the expression that must be playing over that animated face.  Jack’s grin widened when he heard the startled gasp and the breathy little moan of his name.

          “Ja~ck!  You crazy bastard!”  Daniel laughed.  “You really like playing with matches, don’t you?”  He said, replying in the same Ancient dialect.

          “Come to bed, lover.”  Jack repeated, his voice just short of husky.  “I’ve got this little fantasy I want to tell you all about – then make it reality.”

          A hastily sucked in breath told Jack that Daniel was fast forgetting anything that had to do with translations.

          “I’ll email this report, put stuff away, and be down in ten minutes.”  Daniel declared, a hint of a growl in his voice that made pleasant little tingles run down Jack’s spine and gather in his groin.  He’d switched back to English, too, so Jack followed suit.

          “Good.  I’ll keep a light on for you.”  The older man hung up with a satisfied smirk.  Ten minutes was perfect.

          He stripped down to the buff, neatly folded his clothes (since he’d need them tomorrow to wear), did a quick wash-up in the small adjoining washroom, and pulled back the covers on the bed.  He’d only just gotten himself comfortable when the love of his life practically busted the door down with his entry.

          Jack smiled invitingly and gave the bed a pat beside himself, unabashedly sprawling with total hedonism at the lustful blue gaze fastened on his very nude self.  “Excellent timing, Danny.  I was almost going to start without you.”

          Daniel answered his smirk with one of his own – all teeth and glittering eyes behind his glasses – and leaned back against the closed (and locked) door.  He swept his gaze appraisingly and appreciatively over Jack, laid out so tantalizingly on the bed.  “Don’t let me stop you, Jack.”

          Jack couldn’t help the chuckle that escaped, even though he was a little surprised.  He didn’t think Daniel would be so…so…voyeuristic this soon in the relationship.  But hey!  He could go with the flow.  Jack wrapped a hand loosely around his erection, stroking very lightly.  “You gonna keep those clothes on, or what?”

          A pink tongue darted out to lick Daniel’s lips as he pushed away from the door.  “No.  You said something about a fantasy you wanted to make real?”  Hands lifted up to begin unbuttoning his BDU shirt, eyes glued to Jack’s all the while.

          “Hmm…yeah.”  There was an obvious darkening to Jack’s eyes as they followed every movement of Daniel’s hands as he slowly undressed.  “Just something I’ve thought about many, many times.”

          “Tell me.”

          “You make love to me here.  On base.  It varied where, exactly.”  Jack licked his own lips as Daniel dropped his pants and underwear in one smooth movement, leaving himself naked to Jack’s view.  “God you’re sexy…”

          “Keep going, Jack.”  Daniel took off his glasses and set them carefully on top the dresser as he passed on his way to the bed.  “I want to know exactly how you imagine it.”

          Swallowing hard at the predatory gleam in his lover’s eyes, Jack held Daniel’s gaze as the man crawled up to him from the foot of the bed with all the lithe grace of a big cat.  Voice roughened by desire, Jack continued describing the image he always saw.  “Sometimes it was a quickie in one of the supply closets, but mostly it was on a bed.  Either yours or mine.”  He winked saucily, looking up into Daniel’s face when he came to a halt, hovering above Jack but not touching yet.  “Depending on which we were closest to in the fantasy, I guess.”

          “Funny.  I’ve had a few of those myself.”  Daniel grinned.  It was a lot to do with the risk of being on base and getting caught, or simply that it was on base and thereby sticking it to the military and its homophobic rules.  To Daniel, it was a little alpha-male in nature, too – taking Jack or being taken right under the military’s nose, showing who really commanded their hearts, minds, bodies, and even souls.  “So you’re telling me you want me to fuck you, Jack?  Here on base, where we could be found out?”

          Jack nodded shortly, letting go of himself and raising his hand to stroke Daniel’s cheek tenderly.  “I figure…you haven’t done it this way yet, Danny, and this is the perfect time and place.”  The glint in his darkened whiskey eyes hid the small bit of surprise at Daniel’s turn of phrase.  It seemed unlike the quiet, gentle personality his mate was.  Then again…there is that cliché about linguists and words and how much they liked them.

          In this case, Jack decided it was a cliché he could live with.  After all, Daniel made it sexy as hell.

          An eyebrow rose and Daniel’s mouth twitched as he fought not to smirk.  “Really, now.”  Jack watched a not-so-pleasant thought chase away the delight off the younger man’s expressive face.  Cupping Daniel’s cheeks, he turned serious.

          “What’s the matter, Danny?”

          Daniel sighed and nuzzled Jack’s palm like an affectionate kitten.  “Sorry.  I was just wondering if it really is safe for us here.  If…if it was a risk that was reasonably safe.  And,” his gaze slid off to the side for a moment when he hesitated, “I wasn’t…well…I don’t know if you…I mean, PTSD…stuff…Iraq…”

          Jack blinked, connecting the dots from the babbling, and heaved a relieved sigh of his own.  “Ah.  Come here.”  He held open his arms and Daniel obligingly settled down over him, against his chest with his dusky blonde head resting on Jack’s shoulder.

          “Listen, Daniel.  I’m not going to lie and tell you what you think probably happened in that…place, didn’t.”  Jack began in a quiet voice, his fingers rubbing soothing circles on Daniel’s bicep as he spoke – more to ground himself than Daniel.  He hated the talking thing, especially about certain subjects, and he stank at it.  This was a big one of those topics.  But this was Daniel, and this was important, not something he would hide from the man who was his soul mate.  “And you – more than anyone – know that I still occasionally wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night from nightmares.”

          Frowning, Daniel turned over and lifted himself up a bit so he could look Jack in the eyes again.  “Jack…you don’t have to…”

          “Hey.  I said listen, alright?”  Jack pleaded gruffly, pushing Daniel back down.  “This once, just listen to me.  It happened.  I was a POW.  And they were out to get a little of their own back for the damage we – the USA – had caused.  They had no other whipping boy, no other figure to place their blame, hatred, anger, and pure fanaticism on, because of course they wouldn’t look at themselves that way.  But they had me.”

          Daniel went tense in his arms, and Jack could feel Daniel’s heartbeat pounding an unhappy tattoo in his chest.  But he didn’t interrupt this time, so Jack continued.

          “I understood it when it happened.  You know…up here,” he tapped his temple, “in that logical way.  But of course, as a victim, I could have cared less.  I’d happily have killed them all bare-handed had I been able.  The only bright side to the drug addiction was that it made it all hazy and surreal.  I only really remember things in my nightmares.

          “I lived the law of a POW, Daniel.  I did whatever it took to survive, to get away, to get home…and then dealt with the fallout on my own time.  And I promise you,” Jack drew Daniel up so they were eye-to-eye, “I promise you I did deal with it.  I refused to take that shit home to Sara and Charlie, and I did whatever it took to keep that from touching them.”

          A single, silvery tear slipped down Daniel’s cheek and he nodded slightly, offering a shaky smile.  “No issues, then?”  He needed to be sure.

          “No issues.”  Jack asserted, smiling back.  “I mean, of course I don’t like thinking about it, but it isn’t gonna rear up and bite us when we least expect.  And if it helps, ya think they’d have re-activated me ever if I hadn’t dealt?”

          “Okay.”  Daniel nodded, almost frantically.  “Okay.”  He dipped his head and laid the sweetest, most loving and tender kiss on Jack that he could.  They were both breathless when he let up, panting lightly.  It brought back the lust, which had predictably (and understandably) died with the trip down the back alleys of memory lane.  When Daniel finally let him breathe, the scholar smiled down at him.

          “What?”

          “Just grateful that you’ve survived all the crap life’s dealt you, that you’ve stayed sane, and that we’re here to enjoy that fact now.”  Daniel’s smile widened, his truly happy one that was rarely seen, while his fingers idly carded through the silvery strands of Jack’s hair.

          “Good reasons.”  Jack couldn’t really refute that, so he just smiled back.  “So…Danny…” he waggled his eyebrows suggestively.  It made the younger man snicker.

          “Stop that.  You just look ridiculous.”  Daniel shimmied down a bit, making sure his front rubbed along Jack’s in as many places as possible.  Jack gasped a little, kneading Daniel’s shoulders encouragingly and letting his legs splay open to allow his lover to settle more comfortably against him.  His package rubbed against Daniel’s stomach and he let out a pleasure-soaked sigh at the stimulation.

          “Come on, Daniel…” Jack panted as the man licked, nipped, and generally made a full meal out of him on his way down Jack’s aroused body.  He was going to be liberally marked by bruises and teeth impressions at this rate – not that he was complaining.  Oh no.  He loved it.  “Oh god, so good…”

          “Mmm…” Daniel hummed and rimmed Jack’s navel with his tongue, shivering at the low growl he got from his lover at the treatment.  Following the fine line of hair south, he nuzzled his face into Jack’s cock and snuffled, enjoying the strong, masculine musk that was pure Jack before giving him one long, broad lick to taste.

          Jack’s hips twitched like he wanted to thrust up but held back.  “God, Danny!  Quit teasing…” Daniel’s hot breath fanning the wet stripe on his cock was driving him nuts.

          Daniel raised his head fractionally.  “Can you come twice?”  He suddenly wanted that more than anything tonight; he wanted Jack in his mouth, wanted to take him over the edge and taste all of him that way first, then take the older man and make him come again, past bliss and into ecstasy – just to feel Jack around him when he did explode.  To make Jack O’Neill his.

          The look in Daniel’s eyes was predatory enough that Jack had to swallow hard before responding.  “Uh…I don’t know.”  He cursed inwardly at his age and the tell-tale flush he could feel in his face and neck.  “Haven’t…you know…had the inspiration to try for a long time.  And I’m…not so young anymore.”  He hated admitting that and hated that he had to look away from his younger, more virile mate to say it.

          Frowning, Daniel laid an affectionate kiss to the inside of Jack’s thigh.  “Hey, don’t.”  He said firmly, stroking Jack’s leg in distraction.  “Jack, look at me.”  Jack’s eyes reluctantly returned to Daniel’s when he lightly patted the side of his knee.  “It doesn’t matter.  Don’t start questioning things between us just because of something like that.”

          “I’m not.”  Jack protested.  The raised eyebrow didn’t believe him.  “I can’t help it, Daniel.  Just wait a couple of years…you’ll get what I feel.”

          “Eventually, yes, but that day’s not here for either of us, Jack.”  Jack’s eyes widened at the challenged determination glittering in those blue, blue eyes.  “I predict many years of wild monkey sex ahead of us, so don’t you dare whine about your age around me.  Understood, General?”

          Okay.  His rank coming out of Daniel’s mouth, in that commanding tone, in this situation, should not sound so damned hot.  Jack squirmed, nodding quickly and resisting the urge to salute.  Well, with his hand.  He was already saluting Daniel with another part of himself.

          “Sir, yes sir!”

          Daniel’s grin flashed, and it was feral.  “Besides, we get to have lots of fun trying.”  With that, he stopped talking and wrapped long, agile fingers around Jack’s hard length.  He gave it a few strong pulls, and he watched ever nuance of reaction flash across Jack’s face and body.  Jack bit his lip and dug his fingers into the bed, trying to keep the noises to a minimum (as the door wasn’t exactly sound-proof), and to hang on and keep from coming too soon.

          When Daniel swallowed him with hot, wet suction, the mewling groan that slipped out couldn’t be helped.  Nor could the gasped whine of his name as those dexterous, talented fingers joined in, stroking and playing with his balls while Daniel’s head bobbed industriously.  It wasn’t long before Jack couldn’t take much more and he patted Daniel’s head in warning, his fingers gliding through the short strands of his hair.  He could feel the explosion building at the base of his spine.

          “Da…Danny!  Gonna…”

          Daniel didn’t stop, though.  If anything he went a little faster, stroked a little harder.  He pulled his mouth off Jack long enough to command, “Come!” before taking him in again.  Jack, unable to resist, let go completely and gave a full-body jerk as the pressure expanded out from his groin, rushing up to his head and down to his toes as waves of release crashed through him.  His vision blurred then went white for a moment, his toes curled, and a deep keening noise erupted from his mouth when he came in long, pulsing spurts.

          Just when he thought it couldn’t get better, Daniel swallowed around him and hummed in pleased approval.  Jack gasped out his name and writhed at the over-stimulation.

          Feeling quite smug, Daniel eased away, licking his lips to catch the lingering taste of his lover.  Crawling back up Jack’s sprawled, incoherent body, he hovered overhead and watched the dazed, sated, post-coital bliss on Jack’s face for a few moments.  Stroking Jack’s chest-hair and idly playing with a peaked nipple, he slowly eased the older man back from euphoria with lazy, appreciative kisses to wherever he could conveniently reach, smiling as Jack’s arms came around him finally and clutched him close.

          “Hmm…damn!” Jack declared in a deep, rumble of a voice.  His hands couldn’t seem to stop touching Daniel.  “I think you blew off the top of my head, Daniel.”

          Chuckling, Daniel kissed him deeply, wetly.  “I’ve got mad skills, Jack.  And I’m not quite done demonstrating just yet.”

          Jack grinned (and sure, it was a stupid, hopelessly horny one), and he couldn’t do anything more than lie there replete and satiated.  “I look forward to the next part of your demonstration, Dr. Jackson.”

          Content to have a totally pliant Jack on his hands, Daniel slipped away to go dig around in the spare shaving kit he kept on base – finding a small tube of lube, which he palmed – then returning to the bed and Jack.  He dug out a bottle of massage lotion from his nightstand drawer, too, and when he turned back to Jack, he had to stop and admire the picture the man made lying there in his bed looking pleased and decadent.  Jack had his hands tucked under this head, and he had one knee bent up in the air, while his other leg was splayed lazily out on the bed.  Daniel sighed lustfully, studying the long, lean form, the musculature, and even the gorgeously grey-silver hair everywhere, admiring it all.  Even though Jack’s cock lay soft and spent at his groin, it still made Daniel’s mouth water with want.

          Raising his eyes back to Jack’s, he smiled into soulful whiskey brown that were as content and eager as Daniel could ever remember seeing them.  Despite the fact that he was still hard and aching for release, the anthropologist ignored his own erection in favour of winding Jack up for round two.

          “On your stomach, General.”  He ordered, the sparkle in his eyes detracting from the gruffness of his tone.  Jack flashed a grin and rolled over obediently, using a pillow to prop up his head and get comfortable with a sigh.

          “What’cha doin’?”  Jack inquired, interested in the sounds of a bottle opening, the slick sound of skin on skin, and the movements somewhere behind him he couldn’t see but felt as Daniel knelt on the bed and moved to straddle Jack’s body at the hips.  Then he let out a groan as strong, agile hands grasped his shoulders and began to knead, massage, and generally unknot the little bundles of stress-tension he tended to hoard in his neck, back, and shoulders.  “Daniel…oh my god, I think I just ascended.”

          Those sinful hands paused then continued on, a disbelieving snort of laughter answering him.  “I’m not that good, Jack.  And don’t even joke.”  Daniel gave a mock shudder of horror.  “The Others couldn’t keep me on a leash, so I can’t imagine what they’d do with you.”

          Jack buried his face in his pillow, scowling into it.  “Whatever.”  He grumbled, voice muffled a bit.  “The fact remains that you ought to have those hands licensed or something.”

          Daniel grinned and dug his thumbs into a particularly tight knot near the top of Jack’s spine.  “You like this then?”  A deep, guttural groan answered before a muffled whimper.

          “Nirvana, Danny…goddamn that’s so good!”

          Chuckling a little, Daniel kept at it until he reached the mounds of Jack’s firm, tight ass, which Jack wiggled in a hint that his lover ignored.  Instead, he moved to the side and began working at the muscles of Jack’s thigh, slowly moving all the way down to his feet.

          Jack melted into the mattress, a boneless mass of humming nerves.  He didn’t know how Daniel knew, but the sneaky bastard had figured out one of his major hotspots and he was thoroughly wasting Jack with a few well-determined pressured thumb kneads.  A full body shudder ran through him and he moaned into the pillows, eyes dropping half-shut as the beginnings of arousal flooded his senses and pooled in his groin once again.

          Daniel caught the reaction to what he’d thought was a simple foot rub and filed the new data away for future reference.  After a moment, he let Jack’s foot drop back to the bed and picked up the other, giving it the same treatment.  By the time he’d worked his way back up Jack’s leg, the older man was actually squirming with pleasure.

          He had no idea when the massage – fabulous as it was – turned into more, but Jack was really quite surprised that he did get so hard so quickly at such little foreplay.  It must be Daniel, Jack thought as the linguist rolled him over like a boneless lump, because it’s never been like this before.  Jack rolled his head to the side to look up at his mate with lethargic fondness.  “He~llo.” He drawled, grinning goofily at Daniel.

          Amused Daniel slid up until he could look him in the eyes, snickering and very lightly undulating his hips against Jack’s, letting their erections rub together.  “Hello.”  He answered.  “I gotta say it, Jack.”

          “Hmm?”  Jack was distracted, happily lifting his hips to meet Daniel’s in little thrusts.

          Daniel reached down between their damp, slick bodies and wrapped possessive fingers around Jack’s reawakened cock, stroking once – up, then down; long and slow.  “I told you so.”

          “Dan~ny…” Jack whined, unable to hide the sparkle of amusement in his eyes nonetheless.  “Yeah sure you betcha.”  He admitted when Daniel gave him a small nudge to the ribs.  “Gonna do something with it now that you’ve gone to all the trouble of waking it up again?”

          “I’m sure some idea will come to me…say…fucking you?”  the linguist reached for the lube he’d dropped on the mattress next to them.  Making sure Jack was watching, he sat up on his knees and slicked up a finger, then nudged Jack’s legs apart so he could settle between them and reach the puckered orifice just waiting for him.  The older man didn’t stop him, letting Daniel manipulate his yet humming body however he wished.

          “I can get behind that idea…” Jack panted out as Daniel’s skilful, agile fingers slicked and opened him up quickly.  Relaxing as much as he could, Jack watched the intense, lustful expressions play themselves out on Daniel’s face, captivated utterly by the movement of his fingers and what he was doing to his lover.  The older man knew he’d never forget that look on his mate’s face, never forget any part of this moment.  Daniel simply took his breath and sanity away.  “Damn good…view…from down…here, Danny.”  He stuttered with each increasingly hard thrust of fingers – three now – shoving into him.

          Daniel’s gaze snapped up to Jack’s, almost startled.  “Oh?  ‘Cause I quite like the view from where I’m at, lover.”  He winked at Jack and grinned a downright filthy grin.  Jack moaned and found his hips shoving back at Daniel’s fingers uncontrollably.  “You should see it, Jack…the way your ass is devouring my fingers so greedily.  And yet you’re so-oo tight.”  Jack’s eyes closed and his head flopped back against the pillows, pushing it deep into them.  “It’s gonna feel so good to be in there, Jack.”

          “Shit, Danny!”  He laughed breathlessly.  “Who knew there was such a dirty mouth on you…”

          Daniel shrugged, crooking a finger just so – and grinning triumphantly as Jack yelped and arched up instantly with a strangled cry.  “What can I say?”  He withdrew his fingers and slicked lube onto his throbbing, dripping cock before sliding up Jack’s body so he could capture the man’s mouth for a quick, wet and messy kiss.  “You bring out the best in me.  Don’t like it?”

          “Hell, yes, I like it!”  Jack pulled him back down for more kissing, enjoying the way their groins were rubbing together minutely but really wanting more.  “I especially like that I’m the only one who gets to hear it.”  He growled, dipping his head to suck at Daniel’s clavicle possessively.  “So mine…”

          Biting his lip to hold back the moan, Daniel carded his fingers through Jack’s damp, silvered hair and fisted, pulling his head away from his neck to look directly into Jack’s eyes fiercely – pupils blown wide to hide all but a sliver of blue.  “I am.”  He agreed, his own voice a low growl, “And you are just as much mine, Jack O’Neill.”  Daniel let go of Jack’s head to guide himself to the entrance of Jack’s body.  Rubbing the bared head of his uncut cock teasingly against the winking hole, Daniel pushed forward until he’d passed the first ring of muscle then paused.  He could feel every pulse of Jack’s blood beating through his veins, and oh god the heat was so incredible.  Straining against his instinct to just slam in, Daniel hissed in a startled breath when Jack seemed to just go lax and Daniel slid in all the way.  Fully seated.  Balls deep.  “Mine.” He repeated harshly, pulling out slowly then pressing back in a couple of times.

          Jack would have liked to say something, but he was too awash in sensation at the moment to be able to fire enough brain cells together for such an endeavour.  Instead, he reached up to pet and stroke Daniel’s chest, to pinch and roll a nipple between his fingers, and generally do things that encouraged Daniel to hurry up and fuck him, already!

          Daniel started the real fucking then, as if he’d understood – though Jack would have figured he would always know what Jack was thinking anyway.  It started off as a mind-bending rocking motion and occasional roll of the hips that nudged Jack’s prostate in just the right way.  But Daniel had held out for quite a while now, and it soon became deliberate thrusts, just shy of rough.

          And when the linguist shifted until he was angled slightly different, the thrusts became shorter, harder jabs that battered at Jack’s prostate dead on target.

          “Ah!  Ah!  Holy shit!”  Jack tried not to cry out, even though he wanted to yell the mountain down with how supremely fantastic it was to be thoroughly fucked into the mattress by Dr. Daniel Jackson.  “Danny…Daniel!  G-gonna…”

          Daniel grunted in acknowledgment, picking up the pace and ferocity of his thrusts in response.  Each one was punctuating the one-sided dialogue he was having with the room in general and no one in particular.  Sweat was dripping off him and trickling down his back with exertion, and he could feel the familiar tension building at the base of his spine and in his balls.

          “Mine, Jack…body…mind…soul…fuck!  Only mine!  No one else’s!  Not the government’s…not the Air Force’s…mine!”  It was the most sexy, toe-curling, possessive rant Jack had ever heard (and wondered how long Daniel had held all that in) and there was no way he could not answer.

          “Fuck yes, Danny…yours…only yours!”  Jack croaked out, grappling desperately at Daniel’s sweat-slick shoulders and biceps as he felt the world tip on its axis and spin out of control.  There was no holding back the “Fuck me, yes!  Daniel!” when that ride crashed and he shattered into a billion pieces, imploding under the ecstasy and creaming their stomachs and chests with his release.

          Jack’s orgasm triggered Daniel’s like a switch.  The almost frenzied snap of Daniel’s hips abruptly stuttered and as reality blurred white, his ears rang and bliss poured through him in sharp, pseudo-painful waves, and out through his sputtering cock into Jack, Daniel’s own hoarse yell was muffled by Jack’s shoulder where he’d latched on with his teeth.  He was so overwhelmed that he didn’t notice his collapse over Jack, nor the uncontrolled thrusts he was still making into Jack, even as he softened.

          Jack, too, was mostly incoherent and in a blessed out daze.  He did, however, manage to raise an arm and curl it around Daniel, holding him close and in place, and cradling Daniel between his legs with his thighs.  He took a deep, shaky breath and let it out on a contented, happy sigh, stroking fingers through Daniel’s hair.

          And then he let out a bark of laughter, grinning to himself goofily with smug pleasure.  Daniel had spectacularly lost it, and Jack – practically purring – was going to be feeling it for a good long while, what with the bruises, the wonderfully sore ass, and a truly gorgeous imprint left by Daniel’s teeth on his shoulder where he’d been claimed.

          He felt well and truly owned, now, thank you very much.

          “’So funny?”  A groggy, post-coital Daniel wanted to know, voice slurred and sated.

          “My, my, Daniel…you were so alpha.”  Jack couldn’t resist teasing, stretching his arm so he could get his hand on Daniel’s butt, squeezing a handful and patting it fondly.  “I may not be able to walk for a while – at least not without limping and definitely not straight.”

          Daniel snorted, gathering the strength to push himself off Jack and to the side so he wasn’t squashing the man so much.  Then he just lay there, an arm thrown across Jack’s chest and a leg hooked possessively around Jack’s.  He pinched a nipple until it peaked from amongst Jack’s silver-haired chest curls.  “You loved it, too.”  He was totally unrepentant about it.

          “Yep.”  Jack smiled lazily, kneading at the back of Daniel’s neck and enjoying the afterglow immensely.  He glanced down at the top of Daniel’s head when his mate started pressing tiny, soft kisses to his shoulder and nuzzling with his nose at the mark he’d left.  “Proud of that are ya?”

          Blue eyes – still dark and blown from desire – flicked up and crinkled.  “Yes.  Not every day I can claim a General.”

          “As said General, I thoroughly approve.”  Jack sighed deeply, snuggling Daniel closer and closing his eyes.

          “Hey.”  The linguist protested, poking Jack in the ribs.  “Don’t fall asleep yet.  We should shower and change the sheets first, because I doubt we’ll have the time in the morning.”

          Jack huffed and reluctantly let go of Daniel.  Together they stripped off the dirty sheets and remade the bed, then made use of the shower very quickly, going through the motions with an efficiency born of both military ‘training’ and practicality in the field.  After shaving and brushing their teeth, they collapsed into bed and fell asleep snuggled together under the covers.

          That night, Daniel dreamed once again…

~*~*~*~*~

          A firm, insistent banging on the door roused Jack from a perfectly deep sleep.  Cracking an eye, he sought the time from his wristwatch then groaned.  An unintelligible grumble from behind him let him know Daniel was coming to, also, and he rolled over to greet him.

          “Danny…it’s 0713.  Answer the door and tell whoever it is to go away and come again at a more decent hour.”  Okay, so he’d whine about the rude awakening instead.

          “’K off, Jack.”  Daniel batted with total lack of coordination at the hand half-heartedly pushing at his back shoulder.  He swiped Jack’s head instead, narrowly missing his nose.

          More banging, followed by an amused sounding Teal’c.  Obviously the big guy knew them way too well.

          “O’Neill, DanielJackson…ColonelCarter requested I wake you for your shift in the infirmary to watch over JonasQuinn.  Have you yet awakened?”

          “Shit.”  Jack sighed and shook Daniel a little harder.  “Get up, love of my life.  Duty calls…” He sat up and rubbed his hands over his face sleepily, replying to Teal’c loudly, “Yeah, thanks, T.  Hold up a moment.”

          “Very well, O’Neill.  I shall remain here.”

          Daniel literally rolled out of bed and made his stumbling way to the bathroom without a word.  Jack watched him fondly, thinking he was just too adorable in the mornings with his bad case of bed-head, his auto-pilot ablutions, and the owlish ‘I haven’t had my requisite five cups of coffee yet’ expression.

          Quickly scavenging a pair of boxers from Daniel’s wardrobe to borrow, and slipping into his BDUs, Jack went to the door and opened it.  “Come on in, Teal’c.  Fill me in, buddy, while I tidy up.”

          “JonasQuinn has yet to awaken, O’Neill.”  The Jaffa entered and took a seat at the table, observing as Jack hastily made the bed and gathered up clean clothes for Daniel.  “DoctorLam does not believe it is cause for concern, however, and after her first check on him this morning upon her return to duty, she believes that the Prior virus is indeed responding to her treatments.”

          “Ah.  That’s good news.”  Jack went to the bathroom and rapped his knuckles on the door.  “Daniel!  Clothes.”

          The door opened a crack and Daniel peered out, eyes heavy and a little red.  “Coffee.”  He demanded, taking the clothes and unceremoniously shutting the door in Jack’s face.

          Jack blinked, wondering why Daniel appeared to have gotten little sleep, and turned back to Teal’c.  “Thus spake the SGC’s caffeine monster.”  He shrugged, grinning.  “I think we’ll swing by the commissary before we go relieve Carter.  Anything else I should know about?”

          “Of that I am unaware.”  Teal’c replied, rising to his feet.  “I do not believe so, however, as someone would have surely notified you already of anything urgent.”

          “True.  At least I’m not officially on duty until 0900.”

          Daniel walked out of the bathroom, appearing a bit more alert and fully dressed.  He gave Teal’c a small smile as Jack slipped by him to take his turn.

          “Good morning, Teal’c.  Was it a quiet night?”

          “Good morning, DanielJackson.  It was, indeed.  As I told O’Neill, JonasQuinn has not yet woken, and DoctorLam believes her treatments are working with success.”

          “That’s good.  Did you – and the others – manage to get some rest?”  Daniel certainly hoped he was the only one who didn’t sleep so well last night.

          “I cannot speak for our team members, but I did rest sufficiently.”  Teal’c raised an eyebrow at Daniel.  “You do not seem to have been as fortunate, DanielJackson.  Has sharing your bed with O’Neill proved to be difficult?”

          Blinking in surprise, Daniel shook his head and waved his hands about expressively.  “Oh no, Teal’c!  It’s not Jack’s fault.  I just had a very strange dream, that’s all.”

          Jack emerged from the bathroom, interrupting whatever Teal’c was about to say.

          “Okay, campers!  Breakfast!”

          Daniel hurried after him, already tasting the coffee, grabbing his glasses to put on as he left the room.  Teal’c accompanied them, closing the door to their quarters behind himself.

          “I shall join you for breakfast, DanielJackson.  I am most curious to hear more of this dream that disrupts your sleep.”  The big warrior declared as they piled into the elevator.

          “I don’t really know much myself, Teal’c.”  Daniel cautioned, shrugging.  “Very little is sticking to my memory right now.”

          “Dream, Daniel?”  Jack inquired, pushing the button for Level 22.  “Same as that one you had a couple of nights ago?”

          “Was it perhaps another memory trying to resurface from your time as an Ascended being?”  Teal’c suggested, stepping off the elevator and leading the way to the commissary.  “Such as the time we were able to rescue Bra’tac and Rya’c from Anubis’ work camp on Erebus?”

          “Maybe.”  Daniel made a frustrated noise.  “I just don’t remember enough of the dream to be able to say.”

          “Well don’t spend all your energy worrying about it, Daniel.”  Jack clasped his shoulder in sympathy and advised his younger friend.  “It’ll only give you a migraine.  You’ve got enough to think about right now.”  They got into line and grabbed trays.  It was still fairly empty in the commissary, however, since it was so early.

          “But what if it’s important, Jack?”  Daniel argued.  “And if I continue losing sleep over it…”

          “Whatever it is, you’ll figure it out.”  Jack responded firmly.  “You always do.  I’m just saying not to dwell or you’ll drive yourself crazy.  Sometimes you just have to let the answers come to you rather than searching for them.”

          Amazed, Daniel shook his head.  “If I didn’t know better, I’d be searching for a pod.”

          “What?”  Jack huffed with a glare.  “I do know some stuff, Dr. Jackson.”

          “O’Neill is correct, DanielJackson.  I believe the answers to your dreams will soon come to you.  Do not…stress out over it.”  Teal’c put in, ignoring their glaring match.

          “I’ll try not to.”  Daniel said, turning away to fill a large mug with coffee.

~*~*~*~*~

          For the entirety of the morning, Jack and Daniel both sat in the observation room overlooking Jonas’ ISO-room.  They ended up sitting side-by-side, laptops in front of themselves, with a pile of paperwork (and in Daniel’s case, books by the stack) each.  Though Jack grumbled and complained a lot, he couldn’t say much about not having the time to do it all, since he was gradually making a significant dent in the accumulated paperwork from their two-week leave.  Daniel, on the other hand, decided he would never, ever be caught up.

          “What, did every other SG team find artefacts, ruins, whatever and decide I was the only one who could translate all this stuff?”  He’d bitched after Nyan had brought him a few of the urgent items from his ‘to do’ table and box.  Daniel hadn’t felt much better when Nyan had sympathetically informed him that he – and the others in Daniel’s linguistics department – had already done a stack equal to that of Daniel’s in the two weeks he’d been away.

          Jack was a little amazed at the amount of work, too, though he didn’t say so aloud.  He didn’t think he could remember a time when there’d been such a pile up of stuff for Daniel and his geek squad to play with.  Instead of the sarcastic, back-handed comment he’d normally make at Daniel’s annoyed complaint, he opted for the nice, complimentary one.

          “They only do it because you’re the best, Daniel.  They all know you can do it more accurately and in half the time it would take anyone else to do it.”

          It was worth the surprised and self-consciously pleased flush on Daniel’s face.

          Jack blamed his new, sappy attitude on the fantastic sex.

          Sometime around noon, Jack volunteered to hit the commissary and bring back sandwiches and more coffee – what with Daniel’s growling stomach that the man himself was either ignoring or truly hadn’t noticed.

          Whistling a tune as he strode the halls of the SGC, Jack reflected on how at home he felt, how normal and much more real his world seemed now.  And when he got into line in the commissary and Colonel Reynolds and SG3 welcomed him back with grins and salutes, it hit Jack that, in his efforts to give Daniel a home, he’d inadvertently found home himself.

          Amazed and suddenly emotional, Jack managed to keep from getting all choked up until he got back to the observation room – where he sank back into his seat, put down the tray of their lunches and coffee, and gave Daniel the most fond, happy smile ever while sniffling and looking suspiciously teary-eyed.

          Daniel looked up at him and blinked in concerned surprise.  “Jack?”

          “Danny.”

          “You okay?”  Daniel raised a hand to wipe at the wet tracks that ran down Jack’s cheeks.  “Hey…”

          “I’m good.”  Jack turned his face into the hand and kissed Daniel’s palm.  “Epiphany.”  He added by way of explanation.

          Daniel gave him a strange look, puzzling it out, but gripped Jack’s hand in his, tangling their fingers together.  “Good or bad?”

          “Definitely good.”  Jack sighed happily and reached for a sandwich with his free hand.  It was probably a good thing there were no cameras in the observation room, though in his current mood Jack didn’t think he could care any less even if there were.

          Shaking his head, Daniel gave Jack’s fingers a tight squeeze then released him, turning to pour them both a fresh mug of coffee from the pot Jack had wrangled from the kitchen staff.  “Okay.  Going to tell me what it was?”

          Jack watched the man he loved take a healthy drink of the steaming liquid, heedless of its temperature, utterly content.  “I’m home.”  He said simply, offering a shrug when Daniel paused mid-sip to stare at him over his mug.  Then impossibly blue-eyes went wide momentarily as the linguist finally understood.  Jack was treated to the eye-crinkling, truly brilliant smile that was rarest of all from his mate.

          “No place like it, O’Neill.”  Daniel grinned, laughing when Jack rolled his eyes at the cliché.

          They ate lunch in companionable silence, fighting over the last of the sandwiches until Jack gave in and let Daniel have it.

          Just as they were going back to work, Jack brought up the subject of Steven and Sarah.

          “Oh, hey…I think I forgot to ask how the tour and all went with your new recruits.”

          Daniel made a face.  “Oh, it went okay, I suppose…crap!”  He exclaimed, smacking his forehead.  “I nearly forget about them!”  He got up and went to the phone to call Nyan.

          “They’re fine, Daniel.  Not like they can get into much trouble in their quarters or the commissary.”  Jack pointed out.

          “No, but they’re probably really bored and wondering if we’ve all forgotten them in the excitement.”  Daniel responded, his attention on the phone at his ear.  “Nyan, it’s me.  Do you have some free time?  Oh.  Um…pass that on to someone else, because I have a new task for you.  Yeah.  Come up here, and I’ll give you the details.  Thanks, Nyan.”

          “What’cha planning?”  Jack inquired when Daniel hung up.

          “I’m going to ask Nyan to handle the beginner’s training courses in history, the Goa’uld, the Asgard, and the Nox.  And to get them started on learning Goa’uld.”

          Jack raised an eyebrow.  “What about Ancient?”

          “I want to handle that myself.”  Daniel replied.  “But the beginner stuff should keep them busy for a long while until I can get around to it.”

          “And the Great Galactic tour?”

          “Postponed.”  Daniel glanced down at Jonas.  “Besides, I gave them 24 hours to decide if they wanted to do that, and I haven’t talked to them about it yet, let alone come up with a list of safe planets to visit.”

          “Get Vala to do that.  I imagine she doesn’t have much to do around here when not on missions.”  Jack suggested.

          “Yeah.  I feel bad about it.  She’s much more adaptable than Teal’c was – is – and she’s already spent considerable time out in public.”

          Grabbing another file off the stack, Jack flicked it open and glanced over its contents.  “If you think she’s not a security risk, Daniel, then talk to Landry and get her permission to leave base on occasion.  Or even move off-base.”

          “Really?  Jack?”  Daniel’s jaw dropped, blue eyes incredulous.

          “Yes, really, Danny.  Look, we all know why Teal’c didn’t last long out there on his own.  He’s a great guy, honourable, just, and all that, but for all he’s learned of us, for all his understanding of ‘Tau’ri culture’…he still doesn’t get us.  And he’s still Jaffa.  In some ways, it’s sad to say, Vala fits right in with us Tau’ri folk better than our good buddy Teal’c ever will.”  Jack fiddled with a pen as he spoke, foot tapping restlessly.

          Daniel frowned, nodding, and sighed.  “I’ll talk to Vala and Landry, see what they think.”

          They worked for a bit longer, until Dr. Lam – gloved, gowned, and masked – entered Jonas’ room for her next check of his progress.  She glanced up and waved at them, reaching to pull back the sheets from Jonas so she could examine him.

          “Hey, Doc.”  Jack nodded, waving back.  “How’s the kid doing?”

          “His last blood work came back clean of the virus, General.  He’ll be just fine.  I’m actually a little shocked at the speed of his recovery.”  Carolyn replied, continuing the exam while she spoke.

          “Janet said his physiology was more efficient than our own.  He heals a bit faster, and he also learns vast amounts of information more quickly than our average rate, not to mention retains what he learns better than we do.”  Daniel said with a slight smile.  Janet Fraiser had taken to Jonas much as she had the rest of SG1.

          “I know.  I saw her notes in his medical files.  I just hadn’t anticipated the speed myself, despite that.”  Carolyn replaced her stethoscope around her neck and began checking the various monitors.  As she was removing the leads from one that had become unnecessary, she glanced down and saw Jonas stirring into wakefulness.

          “General, Daniel…he’s coming around.”  She called up to the observation booth.  “Jonas?  Can you hear me?  I’m Dr. Lam, and you’re safe in the SGC…”

          “S…G…C…” Jonas croaked, voice hoarse, struggling to open his eyes.  “Earth?”

          “Yes.  You’re safe on Earth, Mr. Quinn.  You’re in one of the ISO rooms at the SGC.  You were hurt and ill when you came through the Gate.  Do you remember that?”  Dr. Lam bustled around for a couple of minutes and began getting rid of the unnecessary equipment Jonas had been monitored by.  She also sat the bed up enough that he was able to take a couple of ice-chips to soothe his dry mouth and sore throat.  She smiled when he finally pried open his eyes and looked at her directly, focusing easily on her.  “There you are!”

          “Hello.”  He rasped, blinking away the heaviness from his eyes as best he could.  “Dr. Lam?”

          “That’s me.  I’m CMO, now, around here.  You’ve had a lot of people worried, Mr. Quinn.”  Carolyn picked up his wrist and began courting the beats of his pulse after pointing up at the observation room.  “Your friends have been keeping watch over you all night long.”

          Jonas squinted owlishly at the glass enclosed room.  “No one there now..” he stated dryly.  Carolyn glanced over in surprise, then looked to the ISO room door as it slid open.

          “Ah.  That’s because we wanted to get gloved and such so we could come down here, personally.”  Jack declared, strolling over to the bed with Daniel right behind him.  “It’s about time you woke up!  If you didn’t, I was gonna eat all your Jell-o when dinner came around.”

          Jonas cracked a smile, looking relieved to see their familiar faces.  “Daniel!  Col. O’Neill!  It’s really good to see you.”

          “Ah!”  Jack held up a finger and tapped his shoulders, pointing out the stars.  “General, here, now.”

          “Twice over.”  Daniel agreed with a mock shudder.  “I still don’t know what they were thinking…”

          Jack scowled and glared.  “Hey!”

          Still smiling slightly, Jonas chuckled.  “Congratulations, sir.  I’m fairly sure…you’ve earned them.”

          “Why thank you, Jonas.”  Jack said with exaggerated gratitude – and his trademark sarcasm.

          “You can stay for fifteen minutes, gentlemen, but that’s it.  Mr. Quinn needs his rest.”  Dr. Lam warned, her commanding tone and expression worthy of her predecessor.  “I’ll let the others know he’s awake.”  She added, patting Jonas on the arm before leaving them.

          Jonas looked up at his former team anxiously.  “She said she’s the CMO.  Where’s Dr. Fraiser?”

          Jack sighed and pulled up a stool, plunking himself down.  “She’s dead, Jonas.  It was a couple of years ago.  She died off-world on a rescue mission, saving an Airman’s life.”

          The Kelownan’s face became stricken and tears gathered in his eyes.  “God, I had no idea.  I’m so sorry…”

          Daniel turned away, hiding his own sorrow and the memory of Janet’s blood on his hands.  Jack noticed, but pretended not to.

          “It’s alright.  You couldn’t have known.”  Daniel said, turning back, composed again.  “There’s been a lot of changes around here since we last had contact with you.  But there’s a lot of time to catch up.”

          Jonas nodded slightly, wincing.  “Yeah.  Thanks for letting me through, by the way.  I wasn’t sure my IDC wouldn’t be locked out or even if…Earth was still here when I dialled the Gate.”

          “It was locked out.”  Jack informed him, shrugging apologetically.  “If you hadn’t made visual and audio contact before you came through, you’d have gone splat.”  Daniel looked pained at the imagery, but nodded in agreement.  “Nothing against you, Kid,” Jack explained, “It’s just that when we had reports coming in about Ori ships in the vicinity of Langara, it was decided – after we found we couldn’t contact you or anyone on your planet – that we would lock out all your codes in case you’d been compromised.”

          “No, I understand.  I figured that would be the case when I came up with my plan.”  Jonas closed his eyes tiredly, sinking into the pillow behind his head.  “But I had to try, and I had nowhere else to go.”

          Daniel came up next to Jack, dropping a hand on Jonas shoulder.  “What happened, Jonas?”

          “Before that, is there any immediate threats you need to tell us about?”  Jack interrupted.  “Anything we need to be prepared for?”

          Jonas shook his head, opening his eyes.  “No.  If my plan went off the way it was supposed to, then no.”

          “Okay.”  Jack accepted that easily.  Jonas had earned his respect and trusted his word, just as he did any of his kids’ word on anything.  “Go ahead.”

          “After that nearly disastrous incident with the Naqahdriah deposits that almost destroyed my planet, peace talks between our three nations fell through for good.  It was decided that if no compromise could be reached, then it was either leave or go back to war.”  Jonas grimaced.  “I tried, but it was impossible.  Finally the Andari declared they’d had enough and demanded access to the Gate be allowed for them to relocate to an uninhabited planet.  It seems their people were willing to leave and start over completely rather than go to war again.  The Terranians were thrilled, since they intended to claim whatever the Andari left behind for themselves.  As for us, the Kelownans…we were happy enough for the conflict to stop.  We didn’t care what the others did so long as we could stay out of it.”

          Jack and Daniel exchanged exasperated, stunned expressions, remembering the troubles they’d always encountered in dealing with Jonas’ world.

          “I know.”  Jonas laughed ruefully.  “That’s better progress than we’d ever had before.  My people just wanted peace.  Peace to rebuild and raise their families without the constant fear of war.  I was happy to help the others to make that happen in any way I could.”

          “So the Andari left?”  Daniel asked, amazed.

          “No.  They never had the chance.”  Jonas frowned, remembering.  “I provided a list of planets I thought would be suitable.  The Andari government sent a group of scouts to inspect each of the planets I suggested for themselves, to see if they really could make a go of it elsewhere.  They were on one planet when they came across a very strange man who came through the Gate when they were about to return to Langara.”

          “Prior.”  Jack scowled.

          “Yes.  He introduced himself as such, as a priest of Origin, and the Andari invited him to come back with them since they weren’t of that planet.”  Jonas’ hands tightened into fists.  “I wasn’t happy with them for bringing a stranger back without consulting us first, but there was nothing we could do after the fact, so we treated him as a guest.

          “At first, he was very polite, charismatic, even kind.  He was also curious, asking a lot of questions about our people, our world, our history…our experience with the Gate.  Having learned our lesson with Anubis and Baal, we told him just enough of our history to satisfy his questions, but never spoke of the Naqahdriah, or that we’d had contact with many worlds other than a few primitive ones.  We played that we were new to Gate travel.”

          “So you didn’t mention us?”  Daniel asked.  Jonas made a negative motion with his hand.  “That was brave, and very intelligent of you.”  Daniel ran a hand through his hair, restless.  “If you had told him about having contact and dealings with us, he might have just killed you and everyone on your planet immediately.”

          “We’ve made a nuisance of ourselves.”  Jack drawled, baring his teeth in a savage grin.  “It’s become our goal in life.”  He looked up at Daniel.  “Wouldn’t they want to keep all those people alive and worshipping the Ori, though?”

          Daniel shrugged and looked thoughtful.  “Maybe.  Maybe not.  If it seemed at all likely that the Langarans could be as…troublesome as we are, then no.  They wouldn’t need or want them for worshippers.  That and I think Adria would obliterate them happily as a message not only to us but to any other planets that stood with us against her.”

          “Right.”  Jack frowned.  “Makes sense.”

          “Adria?”  Jonas queried.

          “Long story.  The Priors and their people would refer to her as the Orici.”  Daniel explained.  “I’ll tell you all about it, later, Jonas.”

          The young man nodded a little, and Daniel fed him a few ice chips before Jonas continued to relate his version of events.

          “He gave us that book…the Book of Origin, I guess.  He asked that our leaders and anyone literate read the book and when he returned, he expected to be given our decision to follow his religion.  Some tried to refuse flat out – none of the people of Langara are particularly religious – and others were willing to read it for curiosity’s sake, but I don’t think very many people took it seriously.  The Prior gave us a month or so to read and decide, anyway, and then he left.

          “The Andari became quite enamoured of the stories in the book.  They eventually held a referendum to decide if they would adopt Origin as their national system of belief – seeing as they were starting over on a new planet.  They thought if these Ori were truly so powerful and benevolent that perhaps they’d be willing to help them rebuild and get established.  The Terranians were less enthusiastic but left the decision up to whomever of their people wanted to adopt Origin.  As long as it didn’t interfere with anyone else, they didn’t much care.

          “My people…flat out dismissed it.  I think we’re far to cerebral to blindly accept mystical beings with god-like powers.”  Jonas looked a little sheepish.  “Though it probably had just as much to do with me pointing out our experiences with other supposed gods and adding what I knew of the Ancients – because these Ori sounded a lot like Ascended beings to me – more than simple disbelief.”

          Daniel nodded grimly, and Jack made a face.

          “They are.”  Jack affirmed.

          “Long story.”  Daniel reiterated.

          “Uh…okay.  Wow.”  Jonas looked stunned and confused, but put it aside for the moment.  “Anyway, the Prior that came back was a different one.  This guy wasn’t so nice about things.  He gave us an ultimatum…”

          “Convert or suffer the consequences.  All or nothing.”  Daniel’s hands tightened into fists.

          “Yeah.  He gave us one last week to make up our collective minds.  When he returned, we said thanks but no thanks.”  Jonas shuddered, face haunted.  “He had the most…dark look in his eyes – and he was creepy enough! He got very angry, as if we’d insulted him on the most personal level, and declared that we’d fallen to evil, and the Ori would cleanse us of it.  Then he struck is staff into the ground and there was this incandescent flash of light.  When it was over, we were a little blind for a moment, then all was fine again.  We were confused and asked what he’d done, but all he would say was that punishment would befall us as was the will of the Ori.”  Jonas paused, looking like he really didn’t want to relive the next parts.  “He just…left.  We didn’t know what to think.

          “Until a few days later, when we received reports from the Andari and the Terranians that many people were falling ill, and no one could determine a cause – nor a treatment.  Kelowna sent aid – medicines and doctors – but not long after we started falling sick.”

          Jack couldn’t sit still for this, so he got up and began to pace at the foot of Jonas’ bed.  Daniel, having seen the Prior Plague too many times up close and personal, paled considerably and sank into Jack’s abandoned seat.  “Say no more, Jonas.  We know the plague you’re talking about.”

          Jonas swallowed back the painful memories with difficulty.  “It was pandemic, and it was horrible.  I’d never seen anything like it.  The scary part was that there was nothing we could do to help the infected.  Hundreds of thousands died.”

          “But not all?”  Daniel looked up in surprise, catching the part Jonas hadn’t said directly.  Jack stopped pacing, too, staring with surprised interest.

          “No.  I’d say in all, a few thousand in each country managed to survive somehow.”  Jonas gave them puzzled expressions.  “Why?”

          “Yours is the only planet to have that happen that we know of.”  Daniel said softly.  “Every other one we’ve encountered suffering the Plague has been wiped out completely – at least until we developed an antivirus after it spread here, to Earth.”

          Jonas’ eyes widened.  “It spread?  How?  And you have an antivirus?”

          Jack crossed his arms over his chest.  “An SG team undercover on one of the more primitive planets unknowingly brought it back with them.  Earth had a bit of a pandemic situation, too, only we managed to develop an antivirus in time.  We lost several thousand of our own people around the planet, but it could have been much, much worse.”

          “We…had some help.  If we hadn’t, we’d all be dead by now.”  Daniel glanced at Jack, blue eyes full of infinite sadness over the mask covering his nose and mouth.  “It wasn’t without its cost, though.”

          Jack nodded grimly in agreement and looked to the injured man for continuation of the story.  “You’re obviously a survivor.”

          “Yes.  I never even got so much as a sniffle.”  Jonas didn’t look very happy about it.  “As far as I know…I’m the only one who didn’t get even a little sick.”

          “So what happened?  Why didn’t you try to contact us?”  Daniel asked.

          “I didn’t want to risk passing it to Earth.  And more…when the plague was at its worse, as the only remaining Council member left who wasn’t dead or dying, and the only one still capable of being concerned about our Gate…I had it covered with a cover stone and sealed up in that underground bunker we were using that time Anubis dropped by to visit.  I made sure no one but myself could unseal it, as an added precaution.

          “The only bright side was that our three nations finally found peace.  We began working together to attempt to rebuild and basically do as the Andari were going to – start over.  We set up a provisional government with members from all three countries, pooled what resources we had, and we hammered out a peace agreement.”  Jonas smiled a little.  “I never thought I’d see it happen in my lifetime.”

          “That’s really good.”  Daniel reached out to pat the man on the arm.  “Fantastic, even.”

          “Yeah, but obviously something went wrong.”  Jack pointed out, moving to stand next to Daniel.

          “A ship came.  I’d never seen anything like it, though it gave me the impression of being Ancient in design or something similar.”  Jonas clenched his fists and closed his eyes.  “The soldiers that spilled out of that ship were brutal, cruel, and unforgiving – when we again told them there was no chance of accepting Origin.  On that note, finally, Langara was of one mind.

          “We fought them off as best we could, but it never seemed to be enough.  We even tried to use our last Naqahdriah bomb to blow the ship up.  I don’t know how or why, but it failed.  We failed.

          “Food and clean water were in short supply.  Every day there were more casualties than survivors.  By the time we’d retreated back to what had been the Kelownan capital, there were only a couple hundred of us left.  I thought our only chance was to uncover the Gate and escape off-world – plague or not.”

          Jonas stopped speaking, voice raw and full of pain as he was overcome with emotion.

          “It’s alright, Jonas.  We should let you rest now.”  Daniel shot Jack a worried look and shook his head to quell the frustrated scowl on the General’s face.

          “No…” Jonas shook his head fitfully, ignoring the silent tears slipping down his cheeks and grabbing for Daniel’s wrist.  “I just want to get it out.  Please…”

          “There’s lots of time…” Daniel tried, but gave up at the stubborn plea on Jonas’ face.  “Okay.  Okay, keep going.”

          “We had to do it over several weeks, undercover and at night, sneaking back and forth from our hide-away to the bunker.  By the time we got everything back up and running it was almost too late.  The Commander of the soldiers put out the word that if we didn’t surrender, then they would simply destroy the planet from orbit.  I never did figure out why they didn’t do that to begin with, but when I found out about that new threat, I hatched a plan.

          “I had everything in place.  There was only one last thing I needed to do – replace the dialling crystal in the DHD.  I left the shelter, alone, and made my way to the bunker, avoiding soldiers patrolling everywhere.  Just when I got there, about to go downstairs, I heard a massive explosion from the direction I’d just come.”  Jonas shook visibly, the monitors keeping track of his vitals responding to his distress.  “There was fire, and I could hear screaming.”  He looked away for a moment, eyes squeezed closed tightly.  “I…I didn’t go back to look.  I just…went into the bunker and sealed myself in.”

          “Hey.”  Jack dropped a hand on Daniel’s shoulder and grimly waited until Jonas looked at him.  “Don’t beat yourself up.  There’s nothing you could have done, not for them, against those soldiers, Jonas.”

          “Maybe not.”  Jonas was sure he’d never forgive himself, despite knowing that.  “I did the only thing I could do.  I replaced the crystal and dialled Earth after setting the self-destruct for the bunker.  I thought, at least, I could deny Gate travel to my world from then on.  Langara could remain empty and peaceful if I destroyed – or at least buried – the Stargate.”

          Daniel nodded.  He got the idea, and understood the sentiment.  If there had been an Abydos left, he would have done the same for his second home world.

          “And the rest of your injuries?” Jack asked quietly.

          “I did have a minor run-in with a couple of soldiers.  And then I fell partway down the last set of stairs leading down into our Gate room.  I hit my head pretty badly.”  Jonas rolled his head to the side, seeming to lose any energy he may have had left abruptly and all at once.  “General…I hope you’ll allow…me to stay…”

          Jack blinked, and reached out to awkwardly pat Jonas reassuringly.  “Don’t worry about that, now.”  He said gruffly.  “You’re always welcome here, Jonas Quinn, and all you need to do now is rest and get better.  Ya hear?”

          “We’ll take care of it.”  Daniel agreed firmly, squeezing Jonas’ hand before getting up.  “Go to sleep, and we’ll be back to check in on you.”

          “…Thank you…” Jonas managed to get out before he succumbed to his exhaustion and was out cold once more.

          Daniel led the way out, and once they’d shed their medical gear, they went back up to the observation room to pack up their work.

          “You okay?”  Jack asked, eyes flicking up to Daniel’s as he watched the linguist finish tidying his area.

          “Yeah, I’m fine.”  Daniel closed up the laptop bag and hefted it up to hang off one shoulder.  “Sad.  Angry.  Relieved, in a strange way.”  He straightened and nodded, indicating that he had everything and was ready to go.

          Jack led the way out and through the halls to the elevator.  “I know.  Not your fault.  No one but the Ori can be blamed, Daniel.”

          Daniel punched the button for the Level of his lab.  “If I hadn’t…”

          “No.”  Jack said firmly.  “Not your fault.  If the Ancients never wanted us – or anyone – to run into their evil twins someday then they shouldn’t have left their toys lying around where curious folk like us would find them.  Besides, do you really think the Ori truly didn’t know about our galaxy?  Or that we were here?  Please.”

          Daniel hung his head, trying not to smile at Jack’s obvious disdain for the beings of that higher plain – both sides.  “Jack…I know they haven’t been particularly helpful, but…”

          “No!  Daniel!”  Jack gave him his stubborn face.  “I’m telling you, I’m honestly beginning to understand that the Ancients left their toys lying around on purpose, in the hopes that eventually us lowly humans would evolve enough, be curious and gullible enough to go out and explore, find their stuff, and thus come along behind them and clean up all their unfinished messes that they left behind as a legacy.  Think about it; they didn’t get rid of the Goa’uld, though they clearly had the tech to do it.  They couldn’t defeat the Wraith over in Pegasus – which may have been another of their failed experiments come back to haunt them.  They’re responsible for the Replicators.  They didn’t do anything about the Ori, either.  And where are they now?  Floating on a cloud contemplating their own asses at the expense of all other life.

          “And,” Jack continued when the elevator opened on Daniel’s Level, following him out and to his lab, “if that’s not enough for you, then think on this: whether or not everything that’s happened was due to them or not in some way, we are only doing the best we can with what we have.  We’re going to make mistakes, sure, but unlike those high-and-mighty glowy octopi, we clean up our messes.”

          Daniel sighed and set his stuff down on his worktable.  “I know, Jack.  I do.  I can’t help feeling badly for Jonas, though, or for being a bit guilty.  I can’t even begin to imagine what he must feel right now, as the last of his people.”

          Jack stepped up to him and dropped his hands on Daniel’s shoulders, forcing the younger man to meet his gaze.  “Not.  Your.  Fault.  I’ll keep saying it until you believe it – or at least let it go.”

          “I’m trying.”

~*~*~*~*~

          Every other night for a week, Daniel continued to have strange dreams.  He didn’t understand all that was happening in them, but he recognized the people he saw in them as Ancients, that the others they often spoke of were Ori, and that where they left to go was his galaxy.  He didn’t know what the strange device that looked like a simple chest of some sort actually was or what it did, but he understood from what the Ancients of his dream said that it somehow could be the very key to defeating the Ori.

          At first it had all been very vague but every time he dreamt of the chest, more clear details became apparent, until he began to wonder if maybe this was another of his Ascended memories trying to surface.  Whatever it was, wherever the source, he made a point of paying closer attention, and when he woke up, he quickly wrote all he’d seen down in a journal he started keeping by the bed.

          Jack noticed his restless slumber, knew about the journal and the dreams (because he’d read the thing out of concern for Daniel), but there was nothing he could do to help – which of course frustrated the hell out of him.  Inaction was not Jack’s strong suit, especially when it came to Daniel.

          And then one night Jack was yanked out of his deep, happily satiated sleep when Daniel began muttering, tossing and turning, and finally snapping bolt-upright with a gasp of “Dakara!”

          “For cryin’ out…” Jack roused himself enough to sit up, too, and stared hard at his lover, eyeing him with considerable ire.  “Daniel, this has got to stop.”  He grumbled, then frowned when Daniel ignored him in favour of the journal, which he fumbled for in the dark and flipped open even as he turned the lamp on so he could see what he wrote before.  “Daniel…”

          “It can’t be…but it makes sense…oh my god!  How could I be so stupid?!”  Daniel exclaimed, slapping the book closed with one hand and his forehead with the other.  “Of course it would be there…”

          “Earth to Dr. Jackson!”  Jack growled, grabbing the journal and throwing it over his shoulder, not caring where it went.  Daniel squawked out a “HEY!” of protest but suddenly found himself wrestled down to the bed on his back, a very put out, naked General poised above him and glowering.

          “Jack!”

          “Daniel!”

          “What’s gotten into you?”

          “This has to stop.  You’re not sleeping, and you’re obsessing over a dream.  A dream, Danny.”  Jack gave him a shake to emphasize his point.  “I’m losing sleep and I’m not the one dreaming.”

          “I’m sorry!  I can’t control my dreams, Jack.”  Daniel scowled back.  He’d have crossed his arms indignantly if Jack didn’t have them pinned to the bed on either side of Daniel’s head.  “And it’s not ‘just a dream’, nor am I ‘obsessing’ about it.”

          Jack sighed.  “Daniel…it is and you are.  It’s your mind trying to deal with the whole situation, making things up to keep you…I don’t know…in some sort of hope that there’s really a solution to be found out there.”

          “Exactly!”  Daniel snapped, then pulled a quick manoeuvre of his own that had their positions reversed.  Blue eyes glittered down at Jack fiercely.  “It looks like an ark or a chest.  It’s some kind of device that may be capable of stopping the Priors and the Ori – if they’re still around – and Adria.  And now I think I know where to start looking!”

          Jack blinked a few times, his sleepy mind muddling through that slowly.

          “Really?”

          “Yes!”

          “Where?”

          “Dakara!”

          “Seriously?”

          “Yes!

          “But…that place is toast.  Adria blew it to hell.”

          “Yeah but it’s possible that something survived and was just buried under the rubble.”

          “So, what?  You want to excavate the entire planet?  Danny…”

          “No, no…”  Daniel shook his head emphatically and rolled off his partner, right off their bed to his feet, and looked around for a pair of boxer shorts.  “I think I have an idea where it could be.  I have to talk to Teal’c…see if the Jaffa found any artefacts when they were rebuilding…” he began stuffing his legs into his jeans, off-balance.

          Jack sighed to himself, realizing his archaeologist wasn’t even speaking to him – just aloud to himself while his all-too-busy brain whirled like crazy.  “Daniel.”

          Glancing at him, Daniel paused in rooting out a pair of socks from his drawer.  “What?”

          “It’s 0240.  You’re not going anywhere.  Come back to bed.”

          Daniel stared at him, squinting, as he wasn’t wearing his glasses.  “What?”

          “It’s the middle of the night, Danny.”  Jack repeated slowly, giving him a lop-sided smile – ruined by the huge yawn.  “Teal’c will still be there in the morning.  Much later in the morning.”  He couldn’t help grinning at how utterly adorable Daniel looked, all confused, as he looked from Jack to the curtained window to the alarm clock on Jack’s side of the bed, then finally down at himself.

          “Oh.”

          Stripping down again, Daniel crawled back into bed, turned off the lamp, and snuggled up to Jack – who wisely refrained from commenting on his partner’s flakiness.

~*~*~*~*~

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