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Out and About

Summary: They are free to be themselves now, no more hiding. Must be more fun, eh? But Mom's still around *mwahaha!* Read Coming Out first or you won't have a clue as to what's going on.

"Oh God, Danny!"

Daniel's removed my shirt and now I'm on my back over the kitchen table.


That was cold cream squirted on my chest. It goes with the melted chocolate, apparently. God, that's fucking freezing.

"Did you put that can in the fridge, Danny?"

I know that look, the bastard did.

"M.m.more, please, ohmygod, yes, there."

Love that, love Daniel's tongue licking me clean, pausing at my nipples to gently bite them and blow cool air on the wet skin. I'm gonna burst out of my pants, but I'm not allowed to undo them... yet.

"You like?" Daniel's asking, looking through his eyelashes. I don't know how he does it, but a combination of innocence and downright dirty slutiness is peering up at me.

"Yeahsureyoubetcha! Don't stop, babe, please."

Daniel's undoing my belt, ooh baby, trailing his tongue down, oh yeah, stopping to clean the chocolate and cream that's gathered near my navel. Damn, I'm thrashing around.

"More, Danny, now, please. God I love you!"


He's stopped. I don't believe it, he's stopped. Come on Danny, you can take that old revenge thing for the M'losan episode too far, you know.

"Shut up, Jack! Door!" he's yelling.

Fucking hell, that's the front door closing. Only one other person has a front door key. Mom.

"Shit! Shit! Shit! Fuck! Fuck! Shit!" Daniel's barking out as he tries to find his T-shirt.

He's got it on, just. Where's mine? "Cream, Jack!" he's hissing. Oh shit, cloth, quick, gotta get it off. We're dancing round the fucking kitchen, crashing into each other and looking like something out of a slapstick movie. Shirt on, quickly.

Oh, no! Mom just walked into the kitchen, followed by General Hammond.

"Hi boys," she says cheerfully.

"Hi Mom," she's gotten back in stereo - both our voices a little higher than normal.

Shit, she's seen the squirty cream can and the bowl of chocolate on the table and the frustrated and oh-so-trying-to-look-innocent faces of her boys and she's had to smother a laugh. Hammond's trying to ignore everything. Just as well they hadn't walked in a few minutes later.

Daniel's recovered, sort of, and offered a coffee. Mom and George have accepted, I think they're grateful that the conversation - which hadn't really started yet - is turning out normal.

They're heading back into the living room while the coffee brews. Daniel's looking at me and my belt. Oh! Better get it done up and try to saunter across the floor as if we haven't just been interrupted from potentially the most mind-blowing sex we've ever had. Yet another perfectly good fantasy fucked up by Mom's timing. Not gonna tell Danny about me, Sara and the honey on the kitchen floor. Uh, uh, that's between me and her. Better call her soon, haven't spoken to her in ages.

"So," I say. "Where've you been?"

Mom and George have been 'keeping company' ever since she had moved into Daniel's old apartment. Neither of us mind in principle. He's a good man, very good in fact. I don't think I could have picked a better man for Mom if I'd personally scoured the known universe. Trouble is, George is the boss. Now, I couldn't have picked a better one of those either and I know it. But, he's still the boss. Okay, our relationship is now legal, and George had always been great about it anyway, but you don't make out with your boyfriend, husband, whatever - in front of your boss - not even if you're a girl for crying out loud! On her own Mom doesn't mind if we snuggle up on the sofa together while the three of us chat. In fact, if we don't she questions us, asking if we've fought or something. But, no, just N.O., you don't even look lovingly at each other when the boss is there. And he's just walked in on what was obviously a hot and steamy make out session.

"Shopping," Mom replies. "George took me to this darling little antique shop and then we went on to have lunch over at the 'Homestead'."

"Damn good steak you get there," adds George, rubbing his stomach as he says so.

I make all the usual 'ooh nice' responses and then steal a glance at my S.O. Who is trying, very hard, not to laugh. Daniel's funny bone has been well and truly thumped. I don't know why, I guess it's something to do with nearly being caught and hysteria setting in, but I do know I have to get Daniel out of here, and now.

"You think the coffee will be ready, Daniel?" I ask, pointedly meaning 'get in the kitchen NOW!'.

"P.p.probably," he stammers out. We make our way into the kitchen and I quickly steer him outside to the backyard where he promptly explodes.

"Ooh, *wheeze* Jack, *pant* that was a close one," he manages to get out, gasping for air as he does. He's slumped to the deck, tugging me down with him. It's no good, I can't keep a straight face either.

"Oh God, Danny, I thought I was going to die. Come on, we've got to get over this. Tell you what though, I'm revoking Mom's door key privilege."

He laughs some more and then crawls back into the kitchen to be confronted with the legs of doom.

"Hi Mom," he's saying as he so totally loses it. He's rolling around the floor, laughing his ass off. So am I.

"I'm glad that you two are so happy," she says, "but this isn't getting the coffee made, is it?"

"S.s.sorry, Mom," I stammer. "On it now." Somehow I get up and pull him with me. Even though we can now be together, stuff recently at work - the usual, bad alien stuff - has meant we haven't had much to laugh at. We've been coming home and crashing through the door and into bed. To sleep. Too fucking tired to do anything else. That's why we were trying to make the most of a coupl'a days' downtime. Daniel doesn't laugh out loud too much, except when we're making out for some reason. Go figure. Think it's because it's the only time he lets his guard down completely. It's so good to hear this that I don't want it to stop.

"By the way, Mom," I say, the drawl warning her that trouble's coming. "That key I gave you was for when we're away so you can feed Daniel's fish. Please don't use it when we're here." I'll beg if you want me to, honest, and it won't be pretty.

"Aw Jack, and I thought you wanted me to move to the Springs because you love me," she's teasing. "But if all you want me for is a fish feeder..."

"Mom," I growl back, "you know that's not what I mean."

She squirts a little bit of cream onto her finger, licks it off, grins and walks back into the living room.

I never thought I'd think this, but I'm glad to be back at work. Mom's been a real terror this last couple of days. I don't know how Jack survived being a teenager with her. He must have had no luck whatsoever taking girlfriends or whatever home. I can just see her sneaking into his bedroom given half a chance.

We've got a briefing. Going off-world tomorrow. I'm glad we can talk to Mom about it. The General got her clearance. Clever really. After being taken up into Thor's ship there was no way she couldn't get it. Also, he knows I'll never talk to Mac the Quack, so she's gotten permission to be counsellor here to those that want to speak to her. Her clientele is growing. So much for being retired, she's as busy now as she ever was. Child psychologist or not, she's much better at handling some of the people here. Especially the civilians. Don't know why, she just is. Even I talk. Mind, try to keep a secret from an O'Neill - oy! It's impossible. They have ways of making you talk.

In the end, what it all means is that the SGC is as well-balanced as any other organisation which contains a multinational, multiethnic, male, female, straight, gay, and alien workforce. Oh, and one that regularly travels to distant parts of the galaxy, saves the world, saves other worlds, fights parasitic life-forms and discovers previously unknown science, all before breakfast. On a quiet day. Other days you just wish you hadn't got out of bed.

I'm on time! Woo hoo! The General and Jack aren't even in here yet. That makes a change. I'm usually the last one in.

"Hi, Sam, Teal'c," I say.

"Daniel," calls Sam, "have a nice downtime?" I know that look. It says 'did you and Jack manage to have lots of hot and steamy sex?'

"Grrr," is all she's getting from me.

"Daniel Jackson, you do not seem to be too happy."

Er, no, Teal'c, that's what happens when your partner's mom keeps interrupting said hot and steamy sex.

"I'm fine," I say. "Just a tad frustrated. Can't wait to get through the gate. You know how it is after stand down." Doctor Daniel O'Neill-Jackson does his famous rug impression - flat-out lying.

Ah ha, here comes Colonel Jonathan Jackson-O'Neill. We weren't going to do that, the name change thing, but we were so fed up of people asking us when we were 'getting married' that we did it to shut them up (along with all the necessary 'next-of-kin'-type paperwork a single marriage certificate would have covered if it were allowed. Dammit.). We are married - technically. Though I never know what to call him. My husband just doesn't sound right. I mean, I said from the word go that if there was something like a marriage ceremony I'd go through with it. Mainly because I wanted to tell the world that he's mine and paws off. And because I'd just been scared shitless that I was going to lose him. But, and here's the clincher, neither of us is particularly sappy. If it hadn't been for me being a twit and blubbing on Babylon and Hassim not liking the fact that we weren't officially together, we'd never have actually gone through with it. We're not doing some sort of affirmation ceremony on Earth - that would be really gross.

"Hi," he says, ruffling my hair. I wish he wouldn't do that. I'm not a kid. But he seems to like it, and it makes him happy, so I'm stupid enough to let him. And Mom, of course, but then I can't say 'no' to her either. His eyes go really soft when he looks at me. God, I love that man.

"Hi, dealt with the paperwork?" I ask.

"Hmm, most of it. You couldn't stop by later, could you? There's some references to the last mission I need. I know you'll remember everything."

"Sure, I'll come down after the briefing. Perhaps you can come and help me too. I've got a couple of translations to do. One of them is in Latin."

"Ouch. You just have to remind me of that, dontcha?"

I just smile, take a sip of my coffee and... spit it out over the table when I see what Hammond's just carried in. Hot chocolate with squirty cream on top. I try to cover up my indiscretion with a sneezing fit. I have so many of those I can fake them. Jack's gone red. Cherry-red. Oh God, I can't look at him. Just wipe the mess up, Daniel, don't look at either of them or you're gonna blush. Too late. FUCK! I hate it when I do that. Hammond's grinning from ear to ear. I'm going to kill Mom. I've been an orphan before, I can do it again. Easily. I've had practise, Mom. And these days I carry a gun.

Sam and Teal'c are looking at us as if we've both lost the plot. We haven't, honest, just Mom managed to completely annihilate Jack's sex drive for the last two days. I've gone three weeks with no relief and if I don't get some soon I really am going to go nuts. And I don't mean a quick fumble first thing in the morning. Morning quickies are great, don't get me wrong, but I'm not really awake for them. I need a long, drawn-out, fantasy-inducing session of hard, dirty and downright pornographic sex. Now. But no, I have to go through a briefing. Huh!

I'm not even sure why I'm here for this one. No archaeological or anthropological sites of interest appeared on the UAV film. Sam's looking bored too. This is going to be a standard in and out recon mission by the looks of it. Even Teal'c looks bored by the whole idea.

Finally! We're being dismissed. Back to the office, finish the paperwork and then head off home.

"Daniel? Coming? I need that info, remember."

"Sure Jack," I sigh. Sometimes, just sometimes, working with him is hard. He looks so sexy in his uniform that all I want to do occasionally is get it off him. Pah! It's not fair.

He shuts the door behind us as we enter and pulls me into a hug. No nookie on base, number one rule. Doesn't mean we can't cuddle though. Love this.

"I'm gonna kill Mom," he snarls.

"Get in line, I've already mapped out the assassination. Got everything organised in my head," I answer, making him giggle. Got my head on his shoulder, his is on mine, holding each other close. Wonderful. Aw hell, who's that? Oh, hi Sam.

"What's up, guys? You've been acting funny all morning. Is something wrong?" We're still holding on to each other like a pair of those cuddly clinging monkeys you can get.

"Nothing really Sam," I say. "Just Mom and bad timing."

"Oh!" she says, her eyes twinkling. She gets it. "That must be very frustrating for you."

"You have no idea," Jack growls. "It's been like being back on Babylon."

"Stop laughing, Sam, it's been weeks," I whine.

"Aw, you poor things," she's teasing.

"Come on Jack, got work to do," I say, trying to steer the conversation to something which will take my mind off bed.

We've been at this for ever, it seems. I need a coffee. "Mess hall, now," I order. Jack's looking cross-eyed, oh yeah, time for a break.

The room is full and buzzing with news. They've just heard that the ANZACs are turning up in the next couple of days. Life's been fun with the Russians, Canadians and Brits, but with the Aussies and New Zealanders coming too, the place is never going to be quiet again. The Brits are particularly looking forward to it. Rumours of various sporting events are abounding.

"Okay, I can't stand this anymore," says Jack to one of them. "I know what cricket is. It's an excuse to sit in the sun for a couple of days and sleep." He didn't really say that, did he? They think it's baseball for those that know what to do with a bat.

"But, what the hell is this rugby?" Now he's only gone and done it. Not the rugby v. American football debate. Oh yeah, it is.

"Simple," says one of the guys, "it's like this. You know you've got your football, the guys with all the padding and stuff."

"Yep!" says Jack, bristling proudly at the mention of our game.

"Well, it's like that, but real men play it. No pads or stuff. The guys in the pack sometimes wear a headband to stop their ears being ripped off, maybe a gum shield to keep their teeth intact, but that's optional."

Jack's fuming, I'm laughing. Three years over there will do that to you. All the teasing washes over me, I know they don't mean it. One of my pals explained it to me once; they only pick on those they like. Don't waste their breath on those they don't. It's why the Irish get it in the neck so much. They actually like them a lot. Go figure. Most of the world is playing catch up with their sense of humour. By the time we've figured it out they've gone on to something even more surreal. Jack still doesn't get some of Monty Python. Sheesh.

"So," he says, "why weren't you playing this with the Canadians? They're part of your, what was it? Commonwealth?"

"Yeah, they're part of the family, but there's been too much Yankee influence," replies the Brit with a wink. "Not so many of them play. Now, the Aussies and Kiwis, they're good, real good. Looking forward to it."

The atmosphere could have gotten frosty, but somehow it never does. The teasing and leg pulling that's been going on for the last year or so hasn't diminished. If anything, it's gotten worse as they've found their feet. Everything's a bit lighter around here. I think our guys like the fact that the fate of the world doesn't rest purely on our shoulders anymore.

"Jack, coffee, now," I say before he starts something else, and drag him off to the counter.

"Hello boys," says Mrs. Isaacs. "I've got something special for you. By request of the General."

Why do I get a very bad feeling about this? She pulls out two mugs of steaming hot chocolate and squirts some cream on top. I look at Jack. He looks at me.

"Mo-om!" we both yell, get funny looks from everyone there, and leg it out of the mess hall to the room she's been given as an office.

Good, she's not seeing anyone.

"Mom, I'm gonna kill you," says Jack.

"Me too," I say. "Hot chocolate? Squirty cream? I know it was you, so fess up, Mom."

She's trying to look innocent and failing as badly as Jack does.

"Mom," he says, "is it not enough that you have single-handedly managed to destroy my sex life? Do you have to keep reminding me of the fact? Not to mention the fact that you're involving the General in it."

Well said, Jack, nice and calm too. I'm not saying anything more, I doubt I'd be as diplomatic. There's a first time for everything, I guess, Jack more diplomatic than me.

"I'm sorry, boys, it was just a bit of fun."

"So was what we were doing till you walked in," I mutter under my breath. Ow, no need to elbow me in the ribs, Jack. I'll have a bruise there now.

"Yeah, well, joke's over now, Mom, please. I'm second in command of this base. It's hard enough to do that as it is, let alone now. If you keep doing stuff like this I'll have to retire for good."

"Jack? Are you getting any problems over us?" I ask.

"Nothing I can't handle. A couple of people, just a couple, don't like the fact that George's right-hand man is gay. That's all. They can be a bit reluctant to take orders from me. It's their problem, not mine. If they don't obey me, I can punish them. That's the rules."

"I know that," I say through gritted teeth. "I thought it had all been settled three months ago. Damn them. And why in hell didn't you say anything?"

"It's a command problem, Daniel. You don't tell me about every little niggle you have with your staff, do you?"

"No, but this isn't a niggle Jack, especially not after what happened to me. You need to be careful."

"I am careful, I promise."

"I won't say anything more," says Mom, "I'm really sorry. I know you can take a joke but I did go too far."

Sometimes, just sometimes, I hate the O'Neills. You want to be cross with them, then they go all cute on you and you're toast.

Yay! Home time! Trouble is we've gotta take Mom to the mall. It's Bridie's birthday next week and we've got to get her a present. Why couldn't we have gone on one of our days off? I wonder. Oh, yeah, had other things on my mind.

How many shops does Mom want to go through? Daniel and I bought her a box set of CDs of her favourite bands from the 60s and 70s. She'll love that. Her kids won't know where to put themselves when they see her listening to heavy rock. Led Zep, Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, they're all there.

"Mom?" It's a female voice I know very well. This could be interesting.

"Sara! How are you?" Mom cries out, falling into her embrace. They still get on very well, I'm glad. I still love her.

"Jack," she says softly, still smiling at me, I'm happy to say.

"Hello babe," I say, giving her a big hug. "You're looking great," I say. She does. She's positively glowing.

"Could say the same about you, I don't think I've ever seen you look so relaxed."

"If only," I reply, looking at Mom who still looks a bit guilty. Daniel's just joined us. Oh, oh.

"Sara, you met Daniel before, didn't you?" I ask, trying to keep things neutral. I can see the worry on his face. He's wondering if he should leave.

"Yes, of course. Hello," she says, putting her hand out to him. He greets her, shaking her hand gently. He's still worried though.

"Let's grab a coffee," Mom says, "I could do with a rest. Daniel, come with me," she orders. He picks up her bags and meekly goes with her.

"Look, Sara, before we go in, there's something you should know, and it's not going to be easy to tell you. Daniel and me... we're together, okay?"

I can see the stunned look on her face. This wasn't how or where I wanted to tell her. I tell her that. She's not kicking up a fuss; that's something, I guess.

"I didn't know you liked men, Jack," she whispers.

"Well, it wasn't an issue when I was with you, Sara. As far as I was concerned, at the time, you know, when we were together, there was never going to be a time when I'd look at another man - or woman of course. He's not my first, I knew I was bi when I was a teenager. Actually, to be honest, I was pretty sure I was gay. I only ever fooled around with women to hide the fact. You were the only woman I ever got serious about, and I wasn't using you as a cover, I promise. I'd never have done that to you. Meeting you made me think I was bisexual rather than gay. I don't think you have any idea what effect you had on me." Well, that stunned her.

"I was your first?"

"No, I said you were the only serious one. Of course I'd had girlfriends, but they were dates, that's all. Since you, too, a couple of dates, nothing heavy. The only long-term relationships I'd had were with guys. Till you. You knocked me off my feet, you know."

"Oh!" There's not really much she can say to that. "And Daniel?"

"Him too. Two women in his life. One of those was his late wife. I'm sorry, Sara, really sorry. I wanted to be able to tell you this at home, but there was never the right time. This isn't either, but I want you to know something. I love Daniel, I'm crazy about him. But, and this is important, I'll never, ever, stop loving you. If you ever need my help, call, I'll come running. You got that?"

She nods, still trying to process.

We head into the coffee shop. Daniel's gotten them in, chocolate fudge cake slices too. Sara grins.

"Well, I see you've got good taste, Daniel. My favourite."

"Mine too," he says. I think they were talking about the cake, but I'm not sure.

"How long have you two been together?"

"Just over a year," I say. See, babe, I didn't rush into his arms after you left me.

"We've been friends for years, though," Daniel adds.

Sara looks at Mom. I can see questions being asked, even if they're not talking.

"I'm more than fine with it," Mom says, "and I knew when he was a teenager. I thought he'd have told you," she adds, kicking me under the table. Oh yeah, like I was going to tell my wife, 'by the way dear, I happen to like having wild and wanton sex with guys.' Duh!

"It wasn't important to me, Mom," I say, not a little bitterly. "It's not as if I ever cheated. I'm not like that."

"No, you weren't," Sara backs me up. I never did cheat, I wouldn't have.

"Still aren't." Don't worry Daniel, I'm never going to cheat on you.

"Sara," oh hell, he's speaking, "I'm sorry you found out like this. If you want to come over and visit, anytime, please, feel free. That's if you're okay with this. I wouldn't blame you if you weren't. If you want to see Jack, but you don't want me there, just say. I can go out. I won't be upset or anything."

She's forcing a smile, but she reaches a hand out to him and puts it on his arm. "Daniel, you're right, it is a shock for me. However, I'm married again, it's only right that Jack gets on with his life. I want him to be happy. I still love him, always will. Okay, his choice of partner is not someone I would have expected, but if you make him happy, then I'm okay with it."

She's getting a huge smile from him for that. I can see that she's as captivated by it as I always get. Seeing him smile like that never gets old.

"Thanks," he replies. "That means a lot. I know he still loves you too, and don't worry, I'm not jealous. It's not like that. I still miss my wife, I'll never stop loving her. I meant what I said - please don't be a stranger. When I took him on, I took on everything; his friends, his past and most of all his family. That means you too. I'm happy that you both get on, it makes life a lot easier. It would have been awful if things had been bitter between you."

I can see them both relaxing. Their body language is softening towards each other. Mom's watching, getting ready to intervene if necessary, but I don't think it will be. I'm glad. There was no way I was going to stop being her friend, not that Danny would ever have asked me to.

"You two must be relieved that they've changed the law for the military," she says. She has no idea that it was us that got it changed.

"Oh yeah," I say, "life's a lot more fun now. Especially at work."

"Of course, you're on the same team, aren't you?"

We chat like this for a while, but she has to go before we know it.

"Look, Sara, we're going to be away from tomorrow, but hopefully we'll be back in a couple of days. And no, I can't say where we're going, as you well know. If you're free, why don't you come to the house? I'm still there, not gonna move."

"Okay, Jack. Martin's going to be away on business for a week, it would be nice to have some company. I'll try."

I give her a hug and a kiss, she gets one from Mom too. Daniel stands up and puts his hand out to her, but she opens her arms to him. He falls into her hug and gets a kiss on the cheek. "You're family," I can hear her whisper. He gives her a kiss back. "So are you, never forget it," he says. I've got tears in my eyes. I was so afraid of them meeting and I'm really relieved that it's all over.

"Are you all right, Jack?" Mom's asking as she leaves.

"Fine, never better," I reply. I mean it too.

My feet are freakin' killing me. I didn't know there were that many shops in the mall. We must have gone to every single one of them. Mom finally found something for Bridie, a silk blouse. It'll look good on her. We took Mom home and at last we're alone.

"Daniel? Are you okay?"

"Of course, Jack, why wouldn't I be?" He looks as tired as I feel.

"Oh, just meeting Sara, having the shit teased out of us, all that sort of thing."

"I'm fine hun. Just tired. Do you want something to eat?"


"Oh yeah, I'm too tired to cook."

"Fine, yeah, whatever. You choose." I'm too tired to think.

He picks up the phone. Ah, Chinese. Sounds good. Shoes off and I'm stretched out over the couch.

"Hey, don't take it all up," he's complaining.

"C'mere then."

I get 'the grin' from him. He kicks off his own shoes, takes his shirt off, just leaving his T on. I love that, I can see his muscles quietly rippling underneath it. Woof! He lays down next to me and we decide that the next half hour or so is going to be quiet make out time. I love this. Just kissing, touching, holding. I know we keep getting wound up about the sex thing, but it's not important. This is. Without times like this, we'd never be able to face the things we do.

The doorbell goes. He's getting up and padding over to the door. Ah good, takeout's here. I find a game on the TV, not that I'll pay too much attention to it and go and get some wine. Daniel hates my beer. I don't particularly like wine, but he drinks beer to make me happy, it's the least I can do for him.

Love this, eating, drinking, watching the game, just being ourselves. I think I should have a soak in the bath before I go to bed or I'm going to be as stiff as a plank tomorrow. Oh dear, Daniel wants one too. Mwahaha! We'll have to share, what a pity.

Just as well he made me get a new bath, a really big corner tub. We can sit in it together. I locked the doors, put the chain on the front one just in case Mom comes over unannounced and we can settle in. I love washing his hair and scrubbing his back. There's something so sensual about it. It's just as good when he returns the favour.

He's leaning over, kissing me, ooh, yeah, love that.

"Bed," he's ordering. I love that tone of voice, at once so seductive and masterful. I'm out of the bath faster than he can blink.

A quick rub down with the towel and I'm lying on the bed and waiting for him. He follows me in, a towel wrapped around his waist, rubbing his hair dry while he walks. Does he have any idea what he does to me? I guess so, he's getting a very visual clue.

"Hurry it up, will ya?" I call. That look comes back at me.

"Oh, do you want me for something?" He drops the towel that was drying his hair and slinks over to me. Yeah, slinks is the right word. Whoo, momma. Come to daddy, baby.

"What?" he asks, all innocent like. I lunge for his towel and rip it from his waist.


"What, this?" he's saying as he pushes me onto my back. Oh my, he's launching an all-out attack on me.

"Mmmfffll," is all I can say as he fills my mouth with his tongue. What does he want? To know what I ate two weeks ago? If he goes down any further he's going to find out!

It's like being set upon by a pack of hungry lion cubs. I'm being licked and slurped and nibbled - and I LOVE IT! Whoo-ee, yeah, baby, just there. He's moving so quickly over me I can't tell where he is. I'd tell him to slow down but my tongue hasn't regained any feeling yet and besides, it's good.

His experienced mouth is being put to good use. Eek! God, that never fails to make me scream. Just how far up can his tongue go? It's battling with his fingers. It's no good, I can't go on.

"Daniel, please, do something!" Oh yes, he's doing something all right. I have never known a throat that can open as wide as his. His fingers are doing their thing, his tongue is doing something fucking obscene, ooh YES!

"Jesus, Daniel! Wow!"

He's not stopping, slipping in, up to the hilt. Oh boy, he's so good at this. There's no way in hell I'm getting the second coming tonight though, my dick has headed south for the winter. It's freakin' exhausted. Still, worth a try.

"C'mon, Danny, harder, please, oh yeah, just there."

"JACK!" Oof, he's flopped onto my chest and knocked the fucking wind out of me. We're panting harder than a couple of dogs in a desert.


"Yeah, babe?"

"You wouldn't leave me for Sara, would you?"

"No, Danny, oh babe I'd never leave you, you've gotta know that by now."

"'Spose I do," he's sounding oh so sleepy. "Just her though, you know?"

"I know, Danny. Let you into a secret, okay? I love her, always have, always will. Love you more."

I can feel his smile against my chest. "Same here. Shau're, she'll always be special to me, never forget her. Love you so much though."

"I know, Daniel, I know. Come on, under the covers before we freeze."

"Who the hell do they fucking think we are? The fucking A Team?" Jack is pissed, well and truly pissed.

We're stuck on a god-forsaken dump of a boring freakin' planet, out in the boondocks of the galaxy, locked in a barn-type building full of crap. Oh, and there's a fucking Jaffa ARMY outside the door - obviously. Just how in God's name are we going to get out of this one?

"What is this A Team of which you speak, O'Neill?" He would, he fucking would mention that, wouldn't he? Now we'll be spending all damned afternoon explaining it, or at least until the Jaffa come in here and kill us - which can't be too soon for my liking. God, I detested that programme when it was on first time round, let alone the five thousandth time on some TV channels.

Sam snorts, "Well, at least we've got the grey-haired leader and the big, strong black guy. Where does that leave us, Daniel?"

Shi-it, "It's obvious, seeing as one of them was a cool, suave, sophisticated blue-eyed blond, and the other one was a crazy pilot - Sam - you get to be Murdoch." Ha!

"Don't you think the Gamekeeper looked like him," she says.

"Hell yeah! I wondered who he reminded me of."

"Are you saying I'm old, Carter?" Oh, Jack's just picked up on the grey-haired leader thing.

"No, Sir, it's just you're our leader..." she's trying to weasel out of it.

"And your hair is grey," I smile at him, trying my innocent face out.

"What's wrong with my hair being grey?" Great, pissy colonel because he's stuck in a barn on a god-forsaken yadda, yadda, has turned into pissy Jack 'cause of the grey hair thing.

"Nothing, Sir, it looks distinguished," Sam's trying not to laugh.

"Hot," I say, "very hot." Let's do the biting the bottom lip and the fluttering eyelash trick. Ooh, look there, he's positively preening.

"Hot? Are you sure?" Flirting Mon Colonel?

"Oh yeah, why do you think I worked so hard for so long at turning you grey, Jack?"

He does a double take - "W.w.what?"

I shrug and go and explain the freakin' A Team to Teal'c.

"You know, Sir, you may have had a good idea," Sam says a bit later.

"I have? Of course I have. I do get them you know."

"Sometimes," I say. He got so well laid last night I'm getting away with murder. "Falling for me was your best one yet." If I keep the flirting up, Sam may get a chance to figure out what's going on in her head. I know the feeling. Sometimes, you get so much in there it takes a while for you to order your thoughts. I can tell by the look on her face that she's got that problem.

"Yeah, not wrong there, Daniel." He's coming closer, hmm, I can feel the electricity between us. Janet was right that first day, it's almost visible. We've still got it after fifteen months. Still at the fucking like bunnies stage - when we're not too shagged out from work or harassed by Mom, of course.

"Teal'c, why don't you keep an eye out front," I say. "Make sure they haven't decided to kill us yet."

"It would be a pleasure," he replies as sarcastically as he gets. I think he's ticked with us for some reason. In the meantime, Sam's sorting through the junk to see what she can make.

"So," I say, "do you come here often?"

Jack cracks up. "You are fucking priceless, you know? What am I going to do with you?"

"Come here, I can give you a few pointers." Come any closer and you'll feel one of them.

"Daniel, no nookie off-world, remember the rule? And definitely not in front of the others."

"Aw, Jack. The place is full of Jaffa, we might never get out alive. Surely the condemned man can have one last kiss?"

"Only if the condemned woman gets one too." Shit, where the fuck did she come from? We're on the wrong side of the barn to the crap, er, junk.

"Okay," I say, pull her close and treat her to a great big kiss on the lips.

"Wow! Janet wasn't kidding when she said you were the best kisser."

"Hey! What about me?" complains Jack

"Oh, okay, I'll kiss you too." I do.

"I meant Carter. You think he kisses better than me?"

"How would I know, Sir, I've never kissed you."

"Oops." Oops? We turn and look at him. His eyes are wide open, he's smiling and he looks shit scared.

"Oops?" she says.

"Ah, Carter, you see, it was like this. You know when I was being really stupid and unfair and chasing after you instead of making out with Daniel and we were stuck in the time loop well I resigned my commission and kissed you in the control room in front of everyone and it was really very innocent and then the loop restarted and you forgot it."

Wow, some sentence that was, and in one breath too.

"And you didn't kiss me? Are you STUPID or what? You could have come in to my office, told me how you felt and found out that I felt the same and you'd have saved us all that fucking hassle!" I'm livid! Fucking furious. Don't care that he kissed Sam, but not kiss me? How could he?

I stomp over to Teal'c.

"Daniel Jackson, I have something of my own to confess to you about the time loop."

"Don't tell me, you kissed Sam? Janet? Not Hammond?"

"No, I kissed you."

"Oh! You did? Why?"

"I was curious. You gave your permission. I would not have done it otherwise."

"And was your curiosity assuaged?"

"It was."

"Are you going to tell me what made you curious?"

"I am not."

Damn Jaffa. He can take that inscrutable thing too far.

"Teal'c, if you're not going to tell me why you did it, why did you tell me you did it? I had no idea."

"I did not want you to feel unwanted."

"Thanks, I think."

Heh, heh, Jack's getting it in the neck from Sam. He's sloping over to me.

"Daniel, I'm sorry."

"Not as sorry as you're going to be, Bubba." Oh yeah, I can see him wince from here. Got no idea what I'm going to do to punish him. Not cutting him off, that would only punish me too. No, I'll think of something.

This is a laugh. Sam's pissed with him, I'm pissed with him but I now have his arms around my waist and he's kissing my neck - and Teal'c doesn't look impressed. Why did he kiss me? Oh God, he's not interested in me, is he?

"Got it!" Sam exclaims.

"Is it catching?" I ask. Ouch, she just shot me a filthy look.

"I know how to get us out." And I think she does. There's tons of sheet metal here. She's talking about fashioning some of it to make shields. It's light but strong. There's also some wheels and a couple of axles. If we join the axles with a pole, cover the sides with the metal and stay inside the sides, we should be covered as we push the 'cart' and leg it to the gate. All we'll have to do is get the locked barn door open.

Worth a try. Now all we have to find is metal cutters, a welder, masks, gloves, welding rods, hammer etc. And a fourth wheel. It always worked for the A Team, so why the fuck can't we find any of it?

Plan B. We wait till nightfall, prize open one of the planks in the back of the barn and creep out.

Well what do you know? Plan B worked. At least we are now out of the barn, away from the crap, but still a tad too close to the Jaffa for my liking. And I'm not talking about Teal'c. Oh fuck. Flowers. With pollen. And guess who hasn't taken his antihistamines? I'm creeping through the undergrowth, trying not to make a sound and I have to keep one hand firmly clamped to my nose. My mouth's gone really dry because it's the only way I can breathe. I hate flowers.

The DHD!  Yay!   Four Jaffa!  Boo!

I want to go home. Now. Jack, Sam and Teal'c have crept off. I know what they're going to do. Silent killing. Did it twice myself on the planet of Fort Knox. I don't know how Jack does it. Well, obviously I know the technique, but it's the without remorse thing. Can't do that. I tried. I can justify it, so can he, but I can't do it without remorse.

Where in hell's name did he come from? A fifth Jaffa is creeping up on them. They've got their backs turned. He's right by me. Sam's in front of him. Aw fuck, I've got to do it. He's not as tall as me, I can get him. Fingers like so, lift, twist and feel the crack. I hate doing that. Quietly drop him to the ground. No, the snake. Knife, where's my knife? It's sticking its head out, it's coming out. Don't want to get snaked. Need my knife now. Got it! Got you, you bastard. You won't be taking any hosts - ever.

"Daniel? You okay? You can stop stabbing that now, it's dead," Jack's whispering, trying to take the knife out of my shaking hands. "You did good, Daniel, you saved us."

"Sir, we have to go now," Sam's hissing. She's right, we can hear the clanking footsteps coming up behind us.

"Dial it up, Daniel," I get the order. Pull yourself together, Jackson, you've got to get this done quickly. Seventh chevron engaged, Sam shouts we've got the green light and we run to the gate and dive through.

"I love it when a plan comes together," I say as we emerge from the gate. The joke's fallen flat. The iris shuts, the gate disengages and we all breathe a sigh of relief. Daniel's shaking like mad. He hates killing, but even more so when it's with his bare hands. I sit on the ramp, pull him down and into my arms. Anyone doesn't like it, they can go fuck 'emselves.

"You did what you had to do, Daniel," I tell him. He nods, of course he knows. His hands are covered in the blue blood of the freakin' snake. Just how close did he come to being a host?

"Anyone hurt, Colonel?" Hammond's asking.

"No, Sir, just a little shock. Daniel just saved our lives again. A Jaffa was creeping up on us while we were disposing of some others. Had to take him out with his bare hands. The snake came out." Nuff said. He understands. He pats Daniel's shoulder and takes the blanket that's appeared from one of the medics. He hands it to me and I wrap it round his shoulders.

"I'll be okay," he says. "Just give me a minute. You'd think I'd be used to this by now. It was just that snake, sticking its head out. I though it was coming for me."

He's gone green, he's up on his feet and I know he's gonna throw up. The rest of us go a bit green when the blur that is Daniel scoots out of the gate room. Gangway! I'm going with him.

He's just crashed through the toilet door, the ladies' room unfortunately, but I don't think he had time to stop and look. I get in there in time to hear him retching his guts up in the nearest bowl. Sam's come in and she's clearing out the indignant women in here. Mind, the sound of him hurling is enough to put most people off. Poor guy. He should never be in this position. He won't let me go through the gate without him though. I'm glad. I'm convinced that the day I do is the day I don't come back.

He's finished upchucking. I don't think he's got anything left. Carter gives me the blanket that he dropped on his way in and I put it back around him.

"C'mere, Daniel. That's better." Don't know what else to say. What is there to say?

Mom's coming in. Hammond must have paged her.

"Daniel? Are you all right, love?"

"F.f.fine," he's stammering. "I'll be fine in a minute. Just hate having to kill like that. Not nice. How do you do it, Jack? Do you get used to it?"

"Not really, babe, not really. It's just it's them or us. I couldn't let them hurt you, so it made it easier."

"Tha's why I did it. He was going for Sam. Couldn't let him hurt her."

Great, she's sniffing. He's really good at getting people all emotional, even us robot military-types.

"Oh, Daniel," she says and takes him off me. There, a little sibling bonding and they'll be back to normal.

We make our way back to the infirmary. He's cleaned the blood off his hands, but it's still splattered on his uniform.

"Jeez, better not piss you off, eh Dr. J?" says a grunt. Daniel's just given him one of his filthiest looks. So have I. Not the right thing to say, moron. He physically shrinks and hides as quickly as he can. He's right, don't piss Dr. J off. Not today.

Janet, Sam and Mom are fussing over him, I can't even get anywhere near him. He's okay, he has to be. I know he's not physically hurt but with Daniel, the mental scars cut even deeper. Hammond's come in.

"Can I have a word, Colonel?"

"Of course, Sir."

"How's our boy?" He always calls him that. He's also the only one, apart from Mom, that Daniel doesn't mind it from.

I look over to him, he looks back and gives me a shy grin.

"Hey Jack. One, just one 'hail Dorothy' and I'm cutting you off for a month," he calls out.

"He's fine, Sir," I say, laughing my head off. "He's just fine."

I point to the door, telling him I'm leaving. He nods. I'll catch up with him later.

"So, Jack, what happened?"

I give him a rundown as we walk away. Got there, found the barn, nothing else, had a look in there, Jaffa come from nowhere catch us and lock us in the barn, skip the A Team bit and the revelations, don't think we need to go there. Then the escape. And the deaths. No matter what Daniel thinks, I hate killing too. I'm just inured to it, even if I don't want to be. Even if I don't admit it. I can kill without remorse, especially when it's them or my kids. I could wipe out a planet for them.

"Daniel was amazing, he hid out in the bushes, we took out the four Jaffa at the gate. The T man got two, Carter and I got one each. Then the next thing I know there's a Jaffa on the ground, dead, neck broken I'm guessing as his head shouldn't have been at that angle. Daniel's stabbing the hell out of a Goa'uld that's come out of him. We didn't even hear him do it. You know, if he'd joined up, been one of the kids I'd trained way back when, I'd have chosen him for special ops without hesitation. Ferretti, Teal'c and me, we've been teaching him how to kill, just in case. That's the third guy he's killed like that, with his bare hands."

"How does he cope?"

"Nightmares. Screaming, howling, shit-scaring nightmares. Then he gets over it. I'm not looking forward to tonight, I can tell you. Don't be surprised if I come in with a black eye tomorrow. He can get quite violent. Doesn't mean to, then of course he gets upset 'cause he's hit me. The amount of bruises I've given him and he worries when he catches me with one," I finish with a shrug.

"He'll be okay? I can take him off your team if you'd rather not expose him to this."

"Do that, Sir, and he'll make my life hell. No, we won't be separated. I don't want to step through that gate without him. Last time I did that I screwed our friendship up. Not gonna happen again. I can cope, so can he. Don't worry, we won't let you down."

"I know that, Jack. You never have. I just worry about him, he's not meant for this sort of life."

"Don't you believe it. Daniel's been fighting and defending himself since he was eight years-old. He's more cut out for it than I ever was. Just because he prefers not to fight, doesn't mean he can't or won't if he has to. And he'll happily kill anyone that tried to harm us. He's tougher than anyone I've ever served with before, and I've served with some hard, hard men."

He tells me that we'll debrief tomorrow. I'll go get Daniel, we'll shower, get changed, then we're going home. I feel a few strong drinks coming on.

There's one good thing about a fraught day. As long as we're not too tired, the sex is fantastic. We use it as a way to calm down. Woo, I'm shagged. He's out cold. Not surprised, it's been a long, hard day. Fortunately, we don't have to go in till lunchtime. That'll give us a chance to have a lie-in. And maybe, if I'm a lucky guy, a morning of slow, gentle making out. Love that.

We're back in work, no surprise there. Both of us are looking pretty dopey though. We spent the entire morning in bed. Three times, I don't believe it, but we both managed three times. In one morning. Even I can't manage that normally, twice is usually my limit in a three hour period. There was a time... ah, it's not worth thinking about then. I was much younger. Late thirties now, I'm not a kid, no matter how much people call me one.

"See ya," Jack says as he heads off to his office. The debriefing's in half an hour, but I've got to pick up some stuff to take up there. Time for a coffee, methinks.

"Hey Daniel," it's Sam.

"Hey yourself. You okay?"

"I'm fine. You?"

"Yeah, great."

She's pushing me into the office. "You look well and truly fucked, Daniel."

"I have been," I say, giggling back at her.

"Is he that good?"

"Oh, yeah, he is."

"How many times?" Hell, she's getting nosey in her old age. What is this, jealousy?

"Twice last night and three times this morning."

"Holy Hannah, Daniel, no wonder you look like you've been hitting the pot again. How can you walk?"

"It's not all full-on, or should I say full-in, it's other stuff too." Can't help it. Five times in fourteen hours (HELL YEAH!), I'm boasting.

"I'm jealous. You ever want to ditch the old man, I'm there for you."

"I thought you were interested in that British guy."

"Edward? Hmm, delicious. Royal Engineer. Smart, good with his hands," she says with a grin.

"I want to meet him, see if he's good enough for my big sister."

"Not letting you anywhere near him, he's far too good-looking. You'll take one look and be on him in no time."

"Hey, married man here. Nobody's gonna take the place of my Jack," I say. Especially not my five times in fourteen hours Jack. Who needs a young guy when you've got exuberance and experience in one hot, sexy package?

Got to go soon. After the debrief I'm briefing some of the new intake on the Goa'uld. Not my favourite topic. Somehow, though, I don't think a talk on the mating habits of Air Force colonels would be acceptable. That's my favourite topic. Dammit Daniel, get your mind out of that sewer now.

We walk up to the briefing room together, chatting away and completely oblivious to our surroundings. That's probably why I've just ended up flat on my backside with all my papers and slides strewn across the floor.

"Daniel, are you all right?" Sam's asking, trying not to laugh.

"Don't you dare laugh, wench," I say, getting a filthy look from the guy that sent me sprawling.

I get up, Sam and this guy help me pick my stuff up. It took me ages to get this in order. Grrr.

"Daniel, this is Major Edward Wilson. Ed, this is Dr. Daniel O'Neill-Jackson." Whoo, she remembered.

"Oh, hi," I say. "Can't shake, sorry, hands full."

"Hello, I've heard a lot about you," he says. Oh shit, what? "Good things," he adds hurriedly. I glare at Sam.

"Honest!" she says.

Yeah, believe you too, Sis.

"You'll have to come over to our place for a meal one evening," I say. "Got to go, got a debrief in a couple of minutes."

"Thanks, we'll take you up on that," he says, still not sure about me and her. Tough. Jack doesn't come between us, he certainly isn't going to.

The debrief was, well, brief. Turns out Jack had said pretty much everything yesterday. We all gave our points of view, keeping it clean, of course. Sorted. Now got to face the new guys. Talk about Daniel in the lions' den.

"Well, hel-lo," comes a female voice.

"Hello," I say, making my way to the front of the room. "I'm Dr. Daniel O'Neill-Jackson, that's a bit of a mouthful so call me Daniel or if you don't feel you can, most of the grunts call me Dr. J. Whatever. I answer to most things as long as they're clean."

A little snigger, so things aren't going to be too bad, I hope.

"I take it you've been told about the gate?"

Uh, huh, definitely. Playing to a room of American soldiers is one thing, playing to a room full of ANZAC soldiers and scientists is another - obviously. This is going to be a tough crowd.

"The Brits are of the opinion that you lot are going to field some cricket and rugby teams. Please remember, we're all on the same side here. Don't go around breaking noses, ripping ears off or knocking people for six, please." The cricketing reference gets their attention. "Yes, I lived in Oxford for three years, I even played the game. Don't try to call me on the rules, I actually understand them. Though if any of you can explain the offside rule in football, come and see me later." Ha, that'll get them. No bugger understands that.

I give them a quick history and rundown of the Goa'uld and their societal structure. Boring, but necessary. Then I tell them about the Jaffa and bring in my secret weapon.

"Ah Teal'c, thanks for coming. Teal'c here is a Jaffa. Under no circumstances are you permitted to shoot, zat, or otherwise mutilate him. You'll have to check with him about fondling. Attacking him without weapons is also not recommended, but that's basically because Dr. Frasier and the nurses are very fond of him and they won't be nice when they patch you up afterwards. Teal'c could you?"

He lifts up his T-shirt and Junior sticks his ugly head out. I have to fight back my involuntary shudder. After yesterday it's going to take me a while to see it without freaking. Fortunately my reaction is hidden by the chorus of 'euws' from the room.

"If you kill a Jaffa, bear this in mind. The symbiote will probably still be alive. Do not - under any circumstances - get too close to the Jaffa's body. The symbiote's instinct will be to look for a host. It will not stop and ask. It will just bury itself in your skull. I lost my wife to one of these creatures. They are evil, pure and simple. Never trust a Goa'uld. Thank you Teal'c. I'll see you later for lunch?"

"I look forward to it my friend," he says, inclining his head and walking out.

"I cannot reiterate this enough. I know that among soldiers there can be an element of bravado which can overtake common sense. Get too close and you will either die or be taken over. Trust me, death is preferable. It is the most unpleasant way to live. The Goa'uld use sarcophagi to sustain their life. The Tok'ra, who are genetically the same but work with us in resistance, do not use it because they believe it takes away their soul. They are not wrong. Incautious use of a sarcophagus leads to inability to tell right from wrong, it removes all sense of morality from its user. I should know, I became addicted after an accident on another planet. Long story, not going to go into it, so don't ask. Coming down from that addiction is horrific. It is painful, physically and mentally, not to mention you lose all sense of who are your friends and who are your enemies. I nearly killed my best friends." They're very quiet, I don't think I've ever had such an attentive audience.

"Not everything we do is mad, bad or even dangerous, you know? We do have a lot of fun here. Things have gotten even better with the arrival of the other nationalities. I know there's going to be a lot of teasing on base. That's fine. We've had over a year of the Brits being here, trust me, we're used to having the piss taken. But out there, you need to remember we're all on the same side. If we can work side by side with the Russians, you lot can do it too. Does anyone have any questions?"

"Er, yeah mate," a female voice comes from the back of the room. "Do you fancy coming out with me sometime?" We're all laughing at that.

"Well," I say, "thanks for the offer, but there are two problems with that. One, you're the wrong gender, and two, a 6' 2" colonel who'll be a bit pissed if I don't go home with him tonight."

"Aw shoot," she replies, "typical. All the best guys are either married or gay. Hey, you said you were married!"

"I was. Please, I don't like to talk about that."

"Hey, sorry mate, didn't mean..."

"It's okay. You're new here, you don't know what's happened over the last six years. We've met some amazing species, done some incredible things. Stuff has gone right and stuff has gone wrong. You have no idea how many times this planet has come close to being wiped out. I've been here since the first mission. You will find that some of us old hands will clam up when some things get mentioned. Don't take it personally. Even my best friends don't know everything that happened back then. Some of the stuff is too painful to talk about, that's all. Ask anybody anything. Just don't expect everything to be answered."

I hear a couple of 'fair enough's and leave it at that. There's a knock at the door. It opens and Jack stands there, leaning on the doorpost as if he's trying to hold it up. I grin and introduce him.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is Colonel Jonathan Jackson-O'Neill, second in command of this base. If General Hammond's not around, he's the one that shouts the loudest."

The woman that asked me out earlier has a coughing fit. It's just dawned on her who else, or rather what else he is. Mine. All mine.

"Just wondering if you've finished, Daniel. Got a UAV report needs looking at. Looks herpetological." I grin. "What? Can't I use big words now and then?"

"Sure, Jack, but do you know what it means?" A snigger erupts from the crowd.

"I do, as a matter of fact. Anyway, get your academic butt down there, we need you to look at it asap."

"Okay, just finished here. If anyone has any further questions come see me in my office. I should be there for a couple of days, but around here..." I shrug and sigh. Anything goes, and frequently does.

I grab my stuff and head out.

"So, what's up?"

"Not sure, Daniel, I got a bad feeling about it, that's all. Loads of unmoving death gliders. Want to see what you think. Your gut is usually better at figuring out if something's wrong."

"Okay," I singsong, getting a very sweet look from him. "Are you cooking tonight?"

"Hum, no. I'll take you out instead."

"Huh! Why? I thought you'd prefer staying in," I whisper. His eyes twinkle. "Takeout?"


"You cook then."

"Stuff it, you can take me out."

More sniggering. The Antipodean contingent is following us down the stairs.

"Hey Dr. J, I take it this is 'right gender and six foot two'," says the woman with a giggle.

"Oh yeah," I say. Okay, I've got a dopey look on my face. So sue me. "Why don't you lot come with us, take a look at a UAV rep."

They follow us in to the control room.

"This is it," I say. "This is where the gate is operated from. And here, on this monitor is the UA fuuuck!"

"Daniel? What's up?"

"Freakin' Ra! Look! Hawks!" The death gliders, they're all in the shape of hawks. Ra was the hawk-head god. There are countless numbers there.

"Daniel, we killed Ra. You were there. He didn't survive that, no way. Nobody survives a nuclear bomb going up in his face, not even a snake."

"We've only assumed he was on the ship, Jack. Besides, if it's not him, then it's someone who's got his Jaffa and there's thousands of them."

"Can't actually see any Jaffa, Daniel. Can't actually see any people at all. Davis, what's the infrared saying?"

"Nada, Sir. It's as quiet as the grave down there."

"General!" We both shout at the same time.

"Permission granted, gentlemen." Damn, he's good. Jack hits the phone and gets Sam. The new guys are treated to a view of the famed Jackson speed as I leg it down to the mess.

"Teal'c, come on, need you," I pant as I crash through the door. "Control room, now, hawk gliders on UAV."

Teal'c's up and following me back to look at the film.

"You are correct, Daniel Jackson, these are indeed hawk gliders. I have not seen one for a number of years. Last time it was in battle with some of Ra's Jaffa."

"Gear up, guys, we have got to go and look," Jack's calling. If this is an abandoned air field, for want of a better word, Earth has just struck pay dirt. None of these will have homing devices in them.

Whoo momma, Daniel was right. Hundreds of Ra's death gliders just sittin' here and waitin' to be taken away. Teal'c's gone all glassy-eyed.

"What's up, big fella?"

"These are death gliders as they should be made," he says, sounding like an old guy going all nostalgic for his '56 Chevvy.

"They don't make them like this anymore, eh?" I ask, getting grins from Daniel and Carter.

"Indeed not, O'Neill. Nobody could make a hawk glider, they belonged to the false-god Ra."

"Dead false-god," the three of us chorus. Teal'c raises an eyebrow, inclines his head, and damn, his lips twitched. Full-blown hysteria then.

"We should call on the Tok'ra," Daniel says thoughtfully.

"Why? Are they ill?" I ask.

Stuff 'em. They don't call on us when they find things. Although, maybe we should let them look at one, just in case. I still get nightmares about being stuck in space. Brrr, it makes my blood run cold.

No sign of any inhabitants, yet. So that's good. The Jaffa must have gone and left everything when they heard about Ra.

"Teal'c. Why were these gliders left here?" Daniel's asking.

Good question. I'd like to know that myself.

"I am unsure. It was more common to store the gliders on the mother ships. Perhaps these were new ones waiting for the ship's arrival. They do not look like they have seen any action."

He's not wrong. Apart from having dirt on them from being stuck on the planet and not tended, they don't have a scratch on them.

"Perhaps they were waiting for the ship we blew up, Jack? I don't remember seeing hundreds of death gliders on Abydos." Daniel's staring into the distance. He's remembering. Aw hell, what is it with wives? Love them to bits but they have an awkward habit of turning up when you least expect them. I go over to him, watching him as he casts his mind back to when he started the resistance on Abydos. When Shau're took the lead and encouraged the men to revolt.

"She was really brave," I say to him. "Very special indeed." He just leans against me, resting his head on my shoulder for a minute while he composes his thoughts.

"The question now is, how in hell's name are we going to get these back to Earth and how do we hide them?" I say.

"We don't," Carter shouts out. She's been tapping away on her laptop. I didn't see her bring that. "We're only a couple of light-years away from the Alpha site, Sir. How long will that take to reach from here in one of these, Teal'c?"

"It would take too long, Major Carter. These are only short range vessels. There would not be enough oxygen in them to reach the Alpha system."

"Damn!" she says, "freaking typical. Okay, plan B. How about we call the Tok'ra, get them to help us shift them and check them out in return for giving them some of them."

"That's an idea," I say. Daniel's got a glazed look on his face. Not one of his memory ones either. He's heading for the hill. He wants us to go up it?

"Daniel? What's wrong?"

"Not sure Jack, something's wrong - or rather something's missing. Just humour me, please?" Okay. I'll go with his hunch, they're usually spot on.

"Carter. You and Teal'c head back to the gate. Tell Hammond what you've told me, but ask him not to act on it till I call him. I'm going to go with Daniel, he wants to go up the hill. I think he wants to check out the lie of the land. You know what he gets like when he's had an idea. He'll fill me in when he's ready."

"Will do, Sir. Do you want us to come back when we've given the report?"

"Yeahsureyoubetcha." Got a feeling I'm gonna need them.

I grab all the supplies out of their packs. They can get Hammond to send them some more. I have no idea how long we're going to be gone. With Daniel, nothing's simple. It's going to be a good few hours, that's for sure.

"So," I say to him. "Care to fill me in on what's going on up there?" I knock on his head with my finger and get scowled at.

"Not sure. I just want to get a clear view of the area. I think we'll know more if we go up there, that's all. It's not a problem, is it?"

"Nah, just wondering. C'mere," I grab him and pull him close. "We're on our own, you don't have to keep away from me, you know."

"I know, habit I guess. Have you had any more problems today?"

"Nope! One of the corporals that got a little mouthy the other day was as quiet as a lamb this morning. Ferretti said that he'd been reminded of what had happened to those guys that attacked you. I don't think he fancied getting transferred much. Don't know if I told you this, but I was damned proud of you, the way you handled yourself with them. You fought back when you had to and you taught them a lesson they'll never forget. You did real good, Dr. J."

He grins at me. "Dr. O J, these days," he says shyly. God, he's so cute when he does that. I look around, just in case and then grab him closer to me and land a great big kiss on him.

"You are so fucking gorgeous, you know, I have a real hard time keeping my hands off you at work."

"Could say the same about you, Jack. It's not easy. Come on, we have to get a move on. I want to get up there before nightfall, and we haven't a clue how long that will be."

He's right, and because we don't know anything about this place we'll have to keep watch. No off-world nookie. Damn!

"Jack, tell me about flying. I think I can guess why you do it, the feeling of freedom and all that. What rules do you apply up there? I mean, when I'm digging, I have certain things I must and must not do, but there's a feeling for it too. What about you? I don't mean how, technically, do you fly a plane. It's more the unwritten stuff."

"I get you, it's quite simple. There's one basic tenet of flying; try to stay in the middle of the air, do not go near the edges of it. The edges of the air can be recognised by the appearance of ground, buildings, sea, trees and interstellar space. It is much more difficult to fly at the edges. Remember that and you've cracked it."

He's cracked. "Now I remember why I hate flying. Pilots are nuts."

"Comes with the territory. What was it that guy said in the funny book you like, you know about missing the ground?"

"Flying is aiming for the ground and missing. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy series, Douglas Adams. Brilliant books. Pity that author died, such a freakin' waste of great talent."

"Yeah, he was right, by the way. A good pilot is measured by how many take-offs and landings he's got. If you've got the same number of each, you're a great pilot."

"How many times have you crashed?"

"Only once, but I was shot down. Wasn't my fault, honest."

"I'll believe you. So why planes? Why not helicopters?"

"Another easy one. If a something's not broken on a chopper, it soon will be. Not to mention, have you even thought about how they take off? Aerodynamics state than when I fire up the jets on a plane, head off down a runway, when I reach a certain speed, I'll take off. I will, no two ways about it. The book says so, so I'll take off. A helicopter should just screw itself into the ground. You've got to waggle the stick around to keep it in one place. Duh! You have to be completely nuts to want to pilot one of them."

I love our chats like this, talking about nothing in particular. They pass the time and remind me of why I chose him. And it's got nothing to do with the fact that he's known as 'sex on legs' at the SGC - among other things.

Time for a break, we drink some water, eat some ration bars. Spend a little bit of the time necking. We really shouldn't do that. Back on our feet and we carry on.

"Daniel? Why are you afraid of heights?"

"Gee, Jack, great time to remind me," he says. Ah! Perhaps I shouldn't have said anything. We're about a thousand feet up now, and it's getting cold and dark. Near the top though.

"Sorry," I say, holding onto his hand to make him feel better.

"It's okay, I'll tell you later. Let's just get up there, huh?"

Finally. We're there. I radio Carter, she's just about in range. Hammond's sent a decent size group of soldiers and engineers to take a look at the gliders.

"That's great, just make sure that you keep out of sight for tonight though, just in case. We're going to set up camp now. Can't see anything. We'll check in in the morning. Night, Carter."

"Yeah, sweet dreams, Sir."

Sweet dreams. Probably not gonna get any sleep, it's too fucking cold. We've gotten the tent up, zipped up our bags together. The tent's in front of an overhang so we can keep watch out of the flap without missing anything. No fire, so we've got to snuggle to keep warm.

"Figured out what we'll see in the morning?"

"No, not yet, Jack. I don't know if we'll see anything. Just have to wait for the light. If we don't, I'm sorry for dragging you up here."

"That's okay, Daniel, I don't mind. I know you wouldn't have brought us here if you didn't have a good reason. You going to tell me about your fear of heights?"

He takes a deep breath and tells me.

One of the foster families that he was with was quite nice, except for the older boy. He'd pick on him, constantly.

"I was only nine, pretty skinny, small for my age. I didn't shoot up till I was fifteen. Anyway, as you can imagine, I was still quiet, still stunned by my parents' death. The adults, they were nice, but the older boy, Macey, was a pig. One day, they took us out to the beach. We lived near the coast. We went for a walk up a cliff. He managed to get me on his own and basically ended up hanging me over the edge. He was fourteen, much bigger than me, there was nothing I could do. He threatened to drop me off. His parents caught us, he pretended that he's stopped me from falling. I knew they wouldn't believe me if I told them the truth. He was treated like a hero, and I was treated like a jerk for tripping up. I was pretty relieved when they didn't want to keep me."

What can I say to that? I'd be pretty scared of heights after that too. All I can do is hug him. "Hey, I know you're not clumsy. But if you fall, I'll catch you, I promise."

I get one of his special smiles for that, the one that makes my life worth living. "I know." Wow. I don't think I've ever been paid a bigger compliment in my life.

Damn. When the boy's right, he's right. The sun's come up and we can see for miles. More importantly, we can see a honkin' great mother ship right on the other side of the hill. And even better, no sign of life. This needs investigating. I call Carter. She's having an orgasm over the news by the sound of it. A team is being set up and sent to check it out right now.

"Daniel, you never cease to amaze me."

"Good, don't want to stop."

"You knew, didn't you?"

"I guessed. Sam said this system was a couple of light-years from the Alpha site. I looked at her chart and it's the nearest planet with a gate. They had to get here somehow. And I just had a feeling that the ship would be here. Don't know why. Just hope it's not full of snakes."

We grab something to eat and head off down that side of the hill towards the ship. I'm praying that for once, just once, things are going to go right for us.

"Sir, come in." It's Carter.

"What's up, Carter?"

"We're almost around the side of the hill and we can see the mother ship. You weren't kidding, were you? It's one of those really big ones."

"Hey, Sam," Daniel cuts in. "Don't let anyone touch anything until I get there, please. I want to make sure it's not booby-trapped, okay?"

"Sure thing, Daniel. Do you think it's likely to be?"

"I don't know. But if I were Ra and leaving my newest and best ship and its gliders on a planet, I doubt I'd make it easy for another snake to take it. Would you?"

"Probably not. I'll pass the order on then. Carter out."

Daniel looks a little confused. "Danny?"

"Sam said she'd pass the order on," he says. "I don't give orders."

Ah! "Um, Daniel, Carter and the others at the base know you. If you say something like 'don't touch', they'll listen. She calls it an order because it's the way she's been trained to react. You make a request, we obey the order. Simple. Just a matter of interpretation. You do know you're respected by the military staff, don't you? They'd react to a tactical decision by you without question."

"They would?"

"Sure. They'd know you wouldn't give them an order, or make a request, or whatever, unless you had good reason. You've more than proved that your reasons are worth listening to. I've worked with loads of civilian advisors over the years, Daniel, and I've never met one who's had the same authority granted him by the rank and file as you."

"Oh! Wow. Never knew that," he says, looking stunned. For a genius he can be completely oblivious to his surroundings sometimes.

Thank God for that, we're down.

"I need a coffee," he says. Fortunately, Carter and her geeks are there so there's a fire lit and a pot already brewing.

She's rabbiting on about the find, happy as a pig in shit. Even Teal'c is perilously close to smiling.

"So, now we've got it, what are we going to do with it?" I ask.

"Teal'c and I should go in first," Daniel replies. "We need to check out the ship and especially the peltac, just in case. That okay with you, Teal'c?"

"It is indeed. A wise decision, Daniel Jackson. This could be booby-trapped as was the glider that O'Neill and I were stuck in."

"I doubt it'll have a homing device, that was only put there after you left Apophis. I'm more worried about an engine overload or force fields being activated. If I were a Goa'uld, I think it would be force fields, myself, with a distress signal to be sent to his own ship. Think about it. You'd want to know who it was that was trying to steal your ship so you could extract revenge by taking over their territory. Not to mention the whole torture, revival thing. They seem to like that. I'm guessing a code will need to be entered into the control panel on the peltac."

Does he ever stop thinking? Oh yeah, but not off-world. Snigger.

Teal'c, Sam, Jack and I are carefully making our way to the command centre, the other two insisted on coming with us. Please let this be okay. So far so good, we haven't tripped any alarms as far as we can tell. Perhaps I'm being overcautious. Better to be safe, as they say. I wonder who 'they' are? I wonder at lots of things though.

"Why don't sheep shrink when it rains?" I ask. The others are looking at me as if I've gone mad. Perhaps I have. Sam's giggling.

"Why is the word 'abbreviation' so long?" she asks.

"Is it possible to be totally partial?" asks Teal'c. See, it's not just me. They're barmy too.

"What was the best thing before sliced bread?" Jack's joining in. It's lightening the mood.

"Is a shell-less turtle naked or homeless?"

"If you choke a Smurf, what colour does it turn?"

"Mimes - I mean, just 'why'?"

So, here we are, creeping along the long corridors and giggling like a bunch of school-kids.

"How does the man that drives the snowplough get to work?"

"Have you ever imagined a world in which there were no hypothetical situations?"

We're here, at last. Just as well, we were getting very silly.

Teal'c very carefully calls up the control panel. Now what? I haven't gotten the foggiest what I'm doing, I'm just making this up as I go along. Jack said that people listen to me because I know what I'm doing. HA! They have no idea. Neither have I half the time. If my instinct wasn't so good I'd have been permanently dead long ago. I haven't got a clue. Not telling them though.

"Sam, how do we get into the core of this? I mean, I can read the words, maybe figure out any code, but the gizmos and widgets are way out of my area of expertise."

"Gizmos and widgets?" asks Jack.

"Technical terms," I say, trying to look serious. Stop giggling Sam, it's not helping.

"I can pull this out and have a look if there's anything obvious mechanically, but unless we trigger a warning, I doubt we'll find any subtle booby trap."

"We should be okay then," says Jack smugly. "Since when do the Goa'uld do subtle? I mean, just look at the décor. Tacky, tasteless, over-the-top." He waves his hand around him. He's got a point. This place makes Caesar's Palace look like the ultimate in understated elegance. Yuck.

"Ah ha!" Sam's cried out. "Look!"

We look. And look. It looks like a lot of crystals to me. To Jack too, by the looks of it. We 'ooh' and 'ah' and she hits us.

"This, it shouldn't be here. Look, Sir, I really think we should call my dad. I know that this isn't right, but I really don't want to pull it out. As far as I know it could trigger a chain reaction."

"Fair enough. Come on, let's get out of here. At least we know we shouldn't do anything until it's been checked out. And it's still ours!"

You can hear the punctuation. Sheesh. He was bad enough last time, sulked for weeks when Cronus' ship got blown up. Worth it to take Apophis out though. No price was high enough for that.

"Go call the team at the gate and get them to MALP in, Carter. Teal'c, go with her. I don't want anyone on their own at any time. Pass that order on outside too. We're not losing people for silly mistakes."

"Got it, Sir. We'll be back before you know it."

"No rush, Major, take your time and do everything safely."

She turns and goes, Teal'c watching her every move.

"You okay, Daniel? This is one hell of a trip down memory lane."

"For both of us," I say. "And I'm fine. What about you?"

"Coping. The last couple of days, seeing Sara, being reminded of Ra, it's been a bit heavy."

I pull him into my arms. He's such a hard man on the face of it, but I know that underneath he's so scarred. "I know, believe me, I know, Jack. We'll manage, we'll get over it, together, like we usually do."

"Yeah," he's burrowing his head in my neck and I hold him even tighter. We're not kissing or doing anything we shouldn't do, I just don't want to let him go. Last time I was on Ra's ship I was putting Shau're in the sarcophagus. Part of me, a small part, wishes I hadn't. I would have missed out on the year we had, but, and this is why, she wouldn't have had to suffer at the hands of Apophis. But then, we may not have met Teal'c. I don't know, I really don't know what to think.


"Jack?" Both our voices are a little broken.

"Aw Daniel, I know, I remember too. This isn't easy on either of us is it?"

"No. But we'll be fine, we just need time."

"Oh God, sorry guys." We turn around. It's Ferretti. The one person left who'll understand. He's got a shadow, as per Jack's orders, but he's keeping out of the way. "Bit much for you guys, huh?"

"Yeah, just a bit... Too many memories," I say, releasing Jack so he can go back into full colonel mode. "What's up, Lou?"

"You're wanted on the horn, Daniel. Hammond's asking for you to return to the gate."

"Thanks, let's get going."

We walk out of there, not saying a word. Lou reaches out and puts his hand on first Jack's then my shoulder. He gets a nod in acknowledgement. The shadow stays quiet.

I'm not in the best of moods. I should be, but I'm not. I have to traipse over to the gate and the MALP. And it's raining - of course. Can't just do this by radio, oh no. It takes three hours to walk around the side of the hill (loads more to go over it, so I'm not doing that again). We dial it up, and I call in.

"Ah, Dr. Jackson. I understand you're to be congratulated on your discovery."

"Um, thanks, General. Don't tell me you called me here to say that?" Please don't tell me that. Jack's eyes are widening. "Behave, Daniel," he mouths at me. "Who me?" I mouth back.

"No, of course not. You are required back on base, I'm afraid. Senator Kinsey has turned up and requires all department heads for a budget meeting."

I go cold. Jack goes white. Sam's going red. Teal'c's eyebrow's going up. Kinsey's going down.


Okay, so I'm a tad upset. Jack's lost it. He's rolling around on the floor, completely helpless. Sam doesn't know where to put herself. Even Teal'c is sniggering. Oops.

"Dr. Jackson. It would appear that you have spent too many years among the debilitating academic standards found in such military bases as the SGC. Your linguistic standard is dropping. How about I try to be nicer if you try to be smarter?" Oh, so Kinsey's there then. Good.

"Ah Senator, I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public."

"Dr. Jackson. You will come back here this instant. I insist that you come here and account for all the taxpayers' money that is wasted on your department."

"That almost sounded convincing, Senator. I have a lot to do here, trying to get something in return for all the taxpayers' money. If I don't do my job, people could die. Of course, that sort of thing doesn't seem to bother someone who has his head so far up his ass that he can't see anything past his own colon. But, and here's the thing, it matters to me. My job matters to me. People's lives matter to me. You on the other hand are worth less than nothing to me. Oh, and I'm not sorry to step all over your over-inflated and completely delusional ego."

"If I wanted your opinion of me, Dr. Jackson, I'd ask for it."

"Senator, I would engage in a battle of wits with you, but I refuse to fight an unarmed person. Go away, leave us alone. Let us do what we are paid to do which is save our FUCKING PLANET! You go back to Washington where you belong, among the other fawning, dim-witted penny counters. Jeez, you're so fucking narrow-minded I'm sure you can see through a keyhole with both eyes!"

"A sharp tongue does not necessarily reflect a keen mind, Doctor!"

"You don't get it, do you, Kinsey? You're clueless. You couldn't get a clue if you were in a hall packed with clues, covered in clue glue and sent to dance with the clue dancing team from Cluesville! My God! 100,000 sperm and you were the fastest?"

"Danny! Stop!" Jack's fighting for breath. Sam's joined him on the floor. Teal'c's smiling?! I can't stop. I haven't had so much fun in a long time.


"I'm not deaf, I'm ignoring you. Go away, I'm busy. Jesus! How many times do I have to flush before you go away?"

"Do you want to lose your job?"

"Do you want to lose your life? Stop pissing me off, I'm running out of places to put the bodies."

"This is what you get when you allow a bunch of faggots and women loose in the armed forces. Such insubordination."

He said WHAT??! Jack looks scared. Sam looks scared. Teal'c's eyebrow has just gone postal.

"Senator," I spit. "Let me remind you that this team - SG-1 - has saved the EARTH on a number of occasions, whether as a complete team or just a few members of it. Let me also remind you, if it has escaped that vacuum between your ears, that half of this team is gay on a full-time basis, a quarter is on a part-time basis and the other quarter is a woman. If it wasn't for this bunch of faggots and women, you'd be sitting there with a snake in your head. Assuming you could find a Goa'uld who would stoop so low as to want you as a host. Somehow, I doubt even they would get that desperate."

"That's it. Don't bother to come back to this planet, Jackson, you've just gone too far. Your job is over."

"I don't think so, Kinsey. You neither have the brains nor the power to do that."

"Just watch me."

"Try it and see how quickly Earth is on its own in the Galaxy. Bear this in mind, Senator. Dissembling, inbreeding wankers such as yourself are two a penny in DC. Apart from Teal'c, I'm the only person on Earth who speaks Goa'uld. Now, kindly do the gene pool a favour and drop dead. I've got work to do."

I disengage the gate and crack up.

Oh my God. Daniel's just signed his own death warrant. On the upside, I haven't laughed so much in ages. This is funnier than when he tried to get dressed while he was stoned out of his mind and pissed to boot. And that was funny.

"Daniel, why?"

"Jack. This morning, after precious little sleep last night because we were a) on top of a high hill b) in a tent on the edge of said hill and c) fucking freezing; I had to 1) descend said hill, 2) tiptoe through a ship which reminded me of Shau're and reminded you of that god-awful freaking time and 3) try to figure out if the ship was likely to blow up, taking every one I love with it; then I had to walk for three hours, in the drizzle and confront a dickhead like Kinsey. All on top of only ONE cup of very bad coffee. Why the fuck do you think?"

"Fair enough. Shall we go back to the ship?"

"Sounds good."

So we do.

As we are walking back, we get a radio call from the guys at the gate. Well two. One is a redirected one from Hammond, who was trying to disguise the fact that he had been wetting himself laughing while asking how long we were likely to be. I told him it could be days as we really thought it would be a good idea to load up the gliders and shift the ship. He agreed and told us to carry on. Love that man. The second call was to say that Jacob had just come through the gate and was heading towards us. We're gonna wait for him by the gliders.

Carter left some of her geeks here, so there's coffee on.

"Do you think Hammond's going to smooth things over?" Daniel asks.

"Don't worry, Daniel. When I explained that you hadn't had a decent cup of coffee, he understood. He said he was going straight to the President anyway. Hammond can't stand Kinsey anymore than we can."

"Perhaps I went a bit over-the-top," he suggests. A bit? What the fuck, it was about time Kinsey got taken down a peg or two. He wasn't the only senator there either.

"Josh was in the control room, as was that other senator I saw. Can't remember his name. Hammond hinted that they were peeing themselves laughing. If I know Josh, he was. Paul's there too. When we get back, and if they're still there, we'll have to go out for a drink with them."

"Sounds good to me. I'm glad they were there. Kinsey's a dork."

"An ass," Carter says.

"Idiot," adds Teal'c.

"Fuckwad," I say. Getting complaints from Carter about that one. "What? After what Daniel called him? You didn't complain about that one."

"No, but that was funny," she says with a shrug.

"Huh. Women!" I say. "Just remembered why I gave 'em up."

"Aren't we glad about that," she snorts.

"Oh yeah," Daniel grins. Damn, he's looking really wicked. I wish there was somewhere private we could go. Looking into his eyes I know he's thinking the same. Aw hell, Jacob's arrived. Knocked that on the head.

"You've really gone and done it this time, haven't you?" he says.

"What? What's wrong now?"

"Wrong? Nothing, but how in hell's name are you going to hide this?"

"Alpha site," Sam replies looking smug. "Astronomically, it's around the corner. All we have to do is get this lot loaded into the ship, which is around the hill, and we can fly there in no time. Of course, we can always find a gateless planet and move this gate there. That would be another option."

Jacob nods and grins. He's coming round to the idea.

"So, what do you want me for?"

"Sam thinks she's found a booby trap on the peltac," Daniel says.

"Daniel said we should look for one. I can't identify a particular crystal, I want you to look at it. In return, we'll help you out with transporting stuff, finding a safe planet, that sort of thing. What do you say, Dad?"

"Better have a look at it then."

Boring. We've been in here for hours. The engineers are still swarming over the gliders like wasps over a honey pot. Teal'c and the Carters are umming and ahhing over the control crystals. That's it, I'm sitting down and someone's coming with me.

"Jack, put me down!"

Uh uh, Danny Boy. You're sitting on my lap. There's no one around except that lot over there and they're not paying us any mind. I try to nuzzle his neck but he's not having any of it.

"Jack, I was busy. There's plenty of information on these data pads you know. Now, let me up or I'm withholding bedroom privileges for a week," he whispers that last bit.

I let go. Fast. Daniel stands up and bounces back onto my knees as quick as you like.

"See, knew you liked it."

"Ow, Jack, there's a fucking force field there."

Oh yeah, we found the trap all right. "Um fellas? I think we know what this is all about now." The Carters and Teal'c turn around and laugh. Daniel's not happy. "Sorry Daniel, honest, didn't mean for this to happen." He's snarling. Oh dear.

One of the shiny ball TV things has just appeared. I know that face. This is a recorded message.

"Shut up, Jack!" Daniel hisses. I can't understand a word of it, but Jake, Daniel and the T man do. It's not good, whatever it is. The ball disappears and Daniel hits his head on my shoulder.

"Well, that, for those of you that never met him up close and personal, was Ra," he announces. "And, according to that, we have to wait for him to turn up to release us. Then he's going to kill us. Which could be amusing as he's dead. This was a trap. All of it. Set up to catch a Goa'uld. Who, I don't know. I'd guess at someone big, like Apophis or Sokar. Judging by what he's saying, my guess about a distress signal being sent is correct. We are now sitting ducks for any passing snakehead to come and find us. You just had to sit down here, didn't you, Jack? And now I can't do a damn thing to help either because you had to treat me like a kid - again - and have me sit on your knee. I'm not six years old!"

"Oh, I know that, Daniel, trust me, I had noticed. OW! You don't have to hit me. I'm sorry. I'll keep apologising if I have to."

"Oh shut up," he's sounding defeated. Aw fuck, I didn't think this would happen. I pull him close and give him a squeeze. "Don't worry, that lot will sort something, I'm sure."

"Jacob, how long before the message gets heard?"

"How long's a piece of string, Jack? If there's a Goa'uld passing, we're in it up to our necks. It could be that no one will hear it. Ra may have encrypted it, or sent it on a very specific frequency that only he would use. Who knows? The best thing we can do is try to isolate it and stop it. Then get the hell out of here as quickly as possible."

"Okay, organisation I can do. Carter, radio Ferretti and get him in here. Without his shadow, please."

"On it."

"Teal'c, when Ferretti gets here, I want you and him to go check out the glider bays and make sure it's okay to load them."

"Very well, O'Neill." He carries on helping Jacob while he waits.

"Aw, ain't that cute." Damn, he's quick.

"Shut up, Ferretti, we're stuck here and sitting ducks. Go with Teal'c, he'll explain on the way."

"Sure thing, Colonel. Coming, big guy?" Good, that's that organised.

"How far into decoding this are you?" I ask the Carters.

"Not as far as we need to be. Damn, we could do with Daniel out here."

"Daniel could do with being out there, Jack's knees are uncomfortable and Daniel's backside is going numb," he says glaring at me.

"Jack's knees are hurting like hell. Dammit, Daniel, you're going on a diet when we get back."

"If you hadn't grabbed me you wouldn't be hurting now. Perhaps that'll teach you a lesson. And I'm not fat!" He's not, but he's built - oy, is he built.

"I'm hungry," he complains. So what, I'm aching. There's barely enough room for one of us to stand, so we're taking it in turns. He doesn't want to sit on my lap and to be honest, my knee doesn't want that anymore, either.

"I think we've got it!" calls Carter. She pulls out a crystal and - what the fuck?

"Carter, what's this gas?"

"Oh shit," Jake's calling, he's sounding far away. "It's anaesth..."

Owww, my head hurts. My knees hurt. Why is Daniel lying across my legs? Ow, ow, ow, ow. What's happening?

"Colonel, Sir, are you all right?"


"That gas, it was an anaesthetic, strong enough to knock a Goa'uld out. We've finally gotten the force field down. Here, let me get Daniel off you. On second thoughts," she says as she tries to lift him, "Dad, help me with Daniel, please." Told you he was heavy.

They take him off me and lay him on the floor.

"Is he all right?" I ask. I'm worried. Not all anaesthetics react well with Daniel. He has been known to upchuck violently if he gets the wrong one.

"He's breathing and his heart is steady," she replies. That's a relief.

"Got any Tylenol?" My head is splitting. She dives into her pack and gets out a med kit and a canteen. Great.

"Sit rep?"

"Half the gliders have been loaded. Teal'c gave quick lessons to all the pilots out there. The General sent every available pilot from every air force out here. They only needed to learn how to park them. So far, so good. We should have them all loaded in the next hour. We think we found the signal. If our guess is right, it stopped transmitting the second we deactivated the force field."

"Good work, both of you. Now all we have to do is finish loading up and take off to the Alpha site. Jake, can you fly us there?"

"Of course, Jack, no problem."

"Thanks. Just have to wait for Daniel now." I sit by his side and stroke his hair. I love to watch him sleep, he looks so peaceful. Carter touches my shoulder. I can see her watching him too.

"He looks so young," she says. I know what she means. When his sleep is nightmare free, he seems to regress to being a little boy. There's a look of innocence written over a face which has been through more than your average hundred year-old. How he isn't physically scarred as much as he is mentally scarred, I don't know. A quiet moan and he's coming round.

"Carter, see if you can find a bucket or something, quick as you like." She scoots off, coming back with some sort of container within a couple of minutes. More moans and he's almost awake.

"Wake up, Daniel, time to get up."

"Ugh, my head," he complains as I sit him up. "Aw crap!" I grab the container and stick his head over it. Yup! I was right. He's hurling as hard as if he'd been on a forty-eight-hour bender with the marines. He's done that, I know what it looks like. Not one of his prettier moments.

"Anything left?" I ask. He shakes his head. I give him some painkillers and water, which he sips carefully. I keep the bucket just in case. So far, so good.

"That's the second time in a few days," he groans. He hates being sick. Poor baby. All I can do is hold him close and stroke his back until he stops shaking.

"How are you feeling?" Carter asks.

"Fucking awful," he says with a little laugh. He's getting better.

"Daniel, I have to go and help," I say. "They need all the pilots they can get so we can load the gliders. Shouldn't be too long, most of them are in." He nods, his eyes glassy.

"Sam? Are you going too?" he pleads in his own way, 'don't leave me'. I shake my head, 'stay'.

"I'm needed here," she says. She is too. Daniel hates being seen as weak in front of me, but he puts up with it. He doesn't mind it if she sees him like it though. As I leave I can hear her talking about the technical stuff. Daniel puts a brave face on. He understands about as much as I do, gets bored as quickly, but he hides it better.

I don't believe it. We actually did it. We got the gliders loaded, and within a couple of hours we were parking Our Mother Ship (Yay, that never gets old) on Alpha, about two klicks from the gate. The base there found us a great site. The engineers came with us and they're as happy as anything playing with their new toy. Jacob is going back to the Tok'ra with a promise of bringing what's left of their engineers to come and help us understand it. They'll get to use it in return, just like with the other one. Hopefully, we'll get it back in one piece, unlike the other one. Sam, Teal'c, Jack and I are going home. I just hope that Kinsey's not there.

We step through the gate and get a warm welcome from the General. He's pleased as punch with our find.

"Major, Gentlemen, well done. Good job people, very good job. The President is a happy man." He walks with us to the infirmary. Mom's there waiting for us.

"Boys, it's good to see you." She gives us both a big hug. "Daniel, you are in big trouble, my lad. Such language!" Oops. The twinkle in her eye is giving her true feelings away. I take my punishment like a man; that is I whine, moan and (pretend to) cry on Jack's shoulder when she clips me across the ear.

We endure our check-ups. The anaesthetic has more or less left our systems. Janet's moaning because we didn't get a sample for her.

"Jan, it was a little difficult," I say, "seeing as we were unconscious and all. Tell you what, I'll carry a sample bottle in my jacket at all times, so next time I'm stuck on a mother ship behind a force field and about to be rendered insensible by a creeping gas, I'll get you some. Okay?"

"Great. Thanks," she says. Damn, sarcasm is wasted on her.

"Turn over and drop 'em," she orders.

"Why? Why not our arms not our asses for a change? My butt's had so many needles jabbed in it it's starting to look like a full-time pin cushion."

"Drop them, Daniel," she snarls.

"Jeez, Doc, what's wrong with you?" Jack asks.

"Ow! Hell, Jan, that hurt. Damn, Jack, she's been like this ever since that house dropped on her sister."

"Ow, Daniel! Not while she's attacking me with that freakin' needle, ow-w-w."

"Do you want me to check out your prostate too, Daniel?" she threatens. My pants are now back up and the belt's done up. She's not getting near my backside again anytime soon.

"Hey, I'm not that kind of boy," I say.

"You are," a stage whisper from Jack.

"Don't tell everyone, Jack, it's a secret," I whisper back. Jan's softening, I'm getting around her.

"What's wrong Jan? C'mere," I say, pulling her into a hug.

"Nothing. Just that stupid Kinsey came in and started having a go at how much money was being spent on medical equipment. I don't have the freedom to yell that you do. Nice job, by the way. He'd just been in here and I'd followed him to the control room. I had to sedate Sergeant Davis after, he couldn't stop laughing. The General was going red in the face, Paul and Josh were holding on to each other to stop themselves collapsing."

"That's a novel description," Jack says, emerging from behind the curtain.

"Come to our place tomorrow night, Jan. I'm cooking dinner."

"I'll be there. 8 o'clock?"

"That will do nicely. Come on Jack, got some invites to give out."

"Daniel," he says as I pick up the potato peeler, "just how are you going to cook for so many people?"

"Simple Jack, it comes with practise. We used to take it in turns on some of the digs, I'm used to catering for large numbers. I've done the shopping. Leave me alone in the kitchen and you figure out where everyone's going to sit."

It's only dinner for twelve, that's not many. I'm doing chicken, with all the roast trimmings and a very special dessert. The ice cream maker's been going full tilt since I got home. Got a few more flavours to make before tonight. Just as well I have one of those big expensive machines that mixes and freezes at the same time. I've bought chicken portions, it'll make life a lot easier when it comes to serve. I don't think I've ever peeled so many potatoes in my life. Just hope I have enough roasting trays.

Seven forty-five, they'll be here soon. Dinner will be ready in about half an hour or so, enough time to get everyone in and settled with a drink. Jack's opening the wines, putting the glasses out and generally futzing about.

Time's passing, everything that can be done has been. He's coming into the kitchen with a glass of wine for me. Lovely. Hmm, even better, I can put up with him kissing me like this all day. He's so good at it. I'm pinned against the fridge, don't care. If I hook my leg around him, I wonder if he can get any closer? It'll be hard. I can hear the door open and Mom's calling to us. Not stopping this time though, I need this.

"Hello boys," she says as she walks in, getting a wave from us in return. She laughs. "I'll get myself a drink, then, shall I?" She gets a thumbs-up sign.

"So, shall I get one too?" It's George and he's laughing. Another thumbs-up. Jack made to pull back, but I'm not letting him go. In a minute, maybe.

"Put him down, Daniel, you don't know where he's been," from Sam. She gets flipped the bird.

It's only the sound of a cough from behind Jack that stops us. Sara. Oh fuck.

We break apart. She's smiling. Phew.

"Sara, I'm glad you came," Jack says, disentangling himself from me. He kisses her on the cheek.

"Sorry, Sara," I say.

"Don't worry, Daniel, you two looked like you were enjoying yourselves."

"I'll say," says Janet from around the corner. Shi-it, Cassie saw us. She knows about us and she's really cool about it, but we've never been like this in front of her. She's a bit young for that. Or so we thought, she's laughing herself sick.

Jack and I blush a bit. I hate it when that happens. Paul and Josh have turned up, they stayed over after Kinsey left. Sam's boyfriend Ed and Teal'c are here too. Ah well, it's not as if we have to keep this a secret anymore.

Everyone has a drink, we're all at the table and dinner's going well. We're keeping the conversation to non-job stuff. Sara's being very accepting of me, for which I am very grateful. In fact, she and I are picking on Jack a bit, teasing him about his domestic habits. The clean ones, of course. I think she's enjoying having someone with whom to share her stories of him. He's hating every moment of it. Time for dessert - and a little revenge. I stand up, go into the kitchen and dish everything out.

"Jack, Sara, Sam, Jan, would you come and give me a hand bringing dessert in, please?" I want everyone to get them at the same time.

They come in, the ladies a little confused by the fact that Jack looks like he's going to explode any minute. "Daniel," he hisses, "you are a prize bastard."

"I know," I say sweetly.

Our hands are full of dishes and we head into the other room. I present Mom and George with theirs. Jack's trying not to laugh. They both go red. Mom cracks first and nearly ends up in her four flavours of ice cream. With hot chocolate sauce and whipped cream on top.