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Out and About 3

say 'cheese'

Summary: Fund raising at the SGC and a Goa'uld plot. What more do you want?

"Hi Lou, what's up?" I ask Ferretti as he walks into the commissary looking thoughtful.

"Oh, hi Daniel. Nothing, it's okay," he replies. As if. I know that face all too well.

"Lou!" I call. "Sit, spill, now! Or I tell Jack that it was you that put the hair dye in his locker in place of the shampoo, and you know how long it took him to get that out. Red hair indeed."

"Gee, thanks Daniel. Especially as I know it was you that did it. It's my niece," he says with a sigh. I know which one he's talking about. She got hit by a car months ago, ended up in a coma, poor kid. Her physical injuries have healed but she hasn't spoken since she woke up.

"What's up?" I ask, praying that she hasn't had anything else go wrong.

"Nothing as such, it's just that my sister has taken it into her head that if Gina gets a chance to go to Florida to swim with dolphins it will make her feel better, maybe even encourage her to talk. She's heard that those things can work miracles like that." I nod, I've heard similar stories.

"If nothing else she's sure to enjoy herself," I say. "Dolphins are fun creatures. So, why the long face?"

"My sister can't afford to take her, she has four other kids. She'd either have to go there as a family or split the others among us. My wife would happily take two of them, but the four are a real handful."

"So? Since when has there been a problem that the SGC can't solve? If we can figure out how to divert an oncoming asteroid, blow up a sun, stop ourselves from being sucked into a black hole not to mention travel across the galaxy in a matter of minutes, this is a small puzzle, nothing more. Leave it to us, Lou, they'll get to go." He's grinning, I think he's finally believing that we can do it.

I head off to see Jack. He is second in command here, he's got to have some sort of organisational ability.

I knock on the door and hear a bored, "Come in," so in I go.

"Hey, you okay?" I ask. Poor thing, he's been stuck at his desk for a week and his trigger finger is getting itchy.

"Paperwork, I hate paperwork," he's mumbling. I shut the door, look up to make sure his camera's off and go over to stand behind him. A neck rub gets quiet moans of pleasure from him. A kiss on his neck makes him catch his breath.

"Danny, not here," he groans.

"I know," I say, sighing as I do. It's not fair. Wanna make out. Huh.

"How do you feel like organising a big fund-raiser?" I ask before filling him in on the details. He grins, gets on the phone, talks to the General, then again ordering someone to round up all the team COs and department heads that are on the base to meet him in the mess. I tag along, this could be interesting. Lou's there, looking a little worried. Jack's having a word with him, making sure that whatever he's got in mind is going to meet with his approval, I think.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," he announces when they all sit down. I do a quick head-count. Twenty COs and a few others, that means only six COs are missing. They can be filled in later. Twenty-six SG teams now, and growing.

"I am here to announce a little competition." A groan goes up, he raises his hands and says the immortal, "Ah, ah, ah!"

"This is going to be fun. Fun with a capital F."

An even larger groan goes up. He shakes his head, but his face is still grinning. "Some of you will know about Major Ferretti's niece. For those of you that don't, the poor kid ended up in a coma a few months back. The thing is, even though she's awake and okay now, she's not talking. What we're going to do is to raise the money to send her swimming with dolphins. Now, this is the competition. I want each one of you, and the leaders of the missing SG teams too, when they get back, to go to your teams or departments and think of different ways of earning some cash. Straight collections will not be allowed. Honours will be granted to the teams that win the following categories. Number one. The most money raised. Pretty straightforward that one. You will have to account for every cent though, so we know you are not cheating. Number two. The wackiest or bravest method of raising money. General Hammond will be the judge, all decisions are final 'cause no one can argue with him."

"Doesn't stop you," I mutter, getting myself a clip across the ear for that one. He'll get his when we get home.

"C'mon guys, if nothing else this will be good for morale." I wasn't under the impression that morale was bad. It's never really been better. Things have been quiet on the snake front for ages. Perhaps that's what he means. Us civvies and military scientists are as happy as bunnies in springtime. I haven't been injured in months, Sam's been playing with her reactor - life is good. Teal'c and Jack, however, are bored, bored, bored. Okay, this will be good for morale.

"You have until the end of the week to come to me with your written suggestion as to what you are going to do. I can make sure that we don't have duplicate ideas then. After all, three bake sales would be a coupl'a cakes too far. So, what are you waiting for folks? Up and at 'em."

To be fair, the various majors and colonels in the room are taking this with good grace. Lou's getting lots of slaps on the back. Choruses of "the poor kid's goin' swimming whether she wants to or not," are reverberating around the room. Before they leave, Jack says loud enough for everyone to hear, "Thanks for letting us do this, Lou, it'll be good for us. Appreciate you having the idea." He winks at me, and I nod almost imperceptibly. Lou grins. Jack didn't want anyone to know that Lou's family couldn't afford to do this so he's turned it on its head. Lou's family are doing us the favour.

"Ah come on, guys, you've got to think of something," I beg. Half of the teams have already submitted their ideas. Carter and Daniel have delegated responsibility to their deputy heads. They can't be expected to raise funds for opposing groups after all. Some are good. Lou's team is having a party in the mess, pay to enter. John's team are organising a sports day - SAS style. That should be fun. There are other, more normal things, like the dreaded bake sale (the commissary staff wanted in on the fun), a garden party, fancy dress party - seeing a theme running here? Food and booze. We'll have to do something real different.

"You could always pimp Daniel, Sir," Carter laughs. "You'd make a fortune."

Ya know, it's quite funny watching an Air Force Major run squealing down a corridor with an enraged archaeologist on her tail.

"Major Carter may have had the beginnings of an idea," Teal'c suddenly says, making me jump.

"Sheesh, T, give me some warning, will ya? You stay so quiet I forget you are there!"

"I know," he says. Smug bastard.


"So what, O'Neill?"

"So, what's this big idea?"

And he tells me. Oh boy. I'd never live it down. However, with the other three on the team, no one is going to notice me. It might work. It just might work. The nurses would buy it, I'm sure of that. It will probably end my career, but hey, so might loads of things I do.

I hear cries of "PUT ME DOWN DANIEL!" and look out into the corridor. He's gotten her slung over his shoulder and he's heading this way. Oh boy, the siblings are at it again.

"Daniel, put her down. Samantha, behave yourself. Honestly children, your behaviour is leaving a lot to be desired." I put on my best 'dad' voice and they both stand in front of me, looking at the floor, shuffling their feet.

"Sorry Sir." "Sorry Jack." Two very contrite voices come back at me. I like this.

"STOP IT!" Carter nudged him, he nudged her back. "What's gotten into you two? You're acting like a pair of five year-olds."

They start laughing, and I realise that I've been had. They do this sometimes, just to wind me up. Well, I've got news for them.

"Teal'c has had a great idea and we're doing it."

That got their attention. I tell them what it is and their eyes open wide, followed by their mouths. Anyone would think I'd asked them to strip at the Pentagon. Hey, that's an idea. I wonder how much we'd get if I got them to do that?

Unfortunately, Daniel's just come up with a reasonable objection.

"Jack, who would we get to help us? We couldn't use anyone from outside the SGC because of Teal'c. Not to mention the fact that we'd have to hide his pouch. And we can't ask anyone on any of the teams because then they'd know what we were doing."

Fortunately, I have just the perfect candidate.

"Ooh, no, not Mom." Daniel's objecting strongly. I get around him the way I usually do. I sidle up to him and kiss his neck in just one particular spot. "Oh, okay, Mom will do."

"Daniel, you are so easy," Carter's complaining. I'd kiss her too, but after what happened when I told her about the time loop kiss I don't think I'd get away with it.

I don't believe I let him talk me into this. We're in a photographic studio in town, Mom hired it. That's the last time I persuade her to take evening classes. Photography indeed. SG-1 calendar indeed! Who the fuck is going to buy it? He says he and Mom have sorted out what we are going to...

"I am NOT going to wear THIS!" I say, in my best ex-TA voice. He can go screw himself. No way, absolutely no way hay! Damn, I wish he wouldn't kiss me there.

"January," says Mom. White bathing trunks - very brief. Sam's in a stringy bikini. She's going to stand in front of Teal'c to hide his pouch. Jack and I will be either side of her. I wonder, will the black and white film show me blushing?

"Come on, stop looking so coy, you lot," Mom orders. It's all right for her, she's the one taking the photos. Jack and Teal'c don't mind strutting about the shower rooms in the altogether, but they're looking uncomfortable now. Only Sam is okay with this.

"Sam? Why aren't you blushing?"

"I've got more on than you have," she answers with a smirk. Not much more I can tell her. So I do.

Mom's telling jokes to get us to relax. They are bad. And I don't mean good, bad, or whatever the meaning is these days. I just mean groaners. Jack has a go.

", the actress says to the bishop, 'I don't mind getting on my knees but you 'mitre' least warned me'." Why does he even bother?

It's up to me and my odd brain again, I can tell.

"When an agnostic dies," I ponder, "does he go to the great perhaps?" The light goes on. THAT game again.

"Can atheists get insurance for acts of God?"

"How do you know when it's time to tune your bagpipes?"

"Is it possible to have déja vu and amnesia at the same time, and would you forget to remember if you did?"

Giggles now so I change track.

There was a fine gal from Darjeeling
Who danced with exquisite feeling
Not a murmur was heard,
Not a sound, not a word -
Save for fly-buttons hitting the ceiling.

Ah, limericks, always good for a laugh.

A horny young woman, Victoria,
Once bedded the mayor of Pretoria;
Sir Peter, Sir Ben,
Sir Peter again
And the band of the Waldorf Astoria.

I didn't think Sam would know any. Oh, oh, Jack's turn.

The Duchess of Gloucester, at tea
Once asked, "Do you fart when you pee?"
I replied, with some wit,
"Do you burp when you shit?"
I think that was one up to me.

Okay, he wins the dirtiest limerick competition. Mom's laughing, she's got the photos. A costume change. Red this time with horns to put on our heads. Oh, I see, October, devils at Hallowe'en. Can't see what the colour change will do to a black and white film. Similar pose, but this time it's the three of us holding a very sexy Sam. She's in our arms, Jack's got her feet, Teal'c's got her waist, her arms are stretched out and my hands are under her shoulders - desperately trying to keep my hands off her tits. I wouldn't mind, but I'm not exclusively gay, even if I am exclusively Jack's. God, she's gorgeous and my mind is wandering and I have to start thinking non-sexy things or I'm in deep, deep, shit. Okay, an Unas - pretty disgusting to look at. Anise. Also foul. Unfortunately, not so Freya - oh FUCK shouldn't have thought of her. Tok'ra Barbie has tits by Goodyear. Got to think horrible stuff, not looking at Sam. I do look - STRAIGHT DOWN HER CLEAVAGE! This is torture. Finished, thank God. A quick run to the toilets. I can lock myself in here till things have, er, calmed down.

School uniform (British style) for September, with Teal'c as a teacher, mortar board and cane as props. Jack and I have short pants, shirt, tie and a blazer and Sam's in a short skirt, tight blouse, stripy tie and stockings. This is like something out of a fetishist's nightmare.

Yellow swimming trunks? Pumpkins? What is Mom on? November, of course. I'm just glad she hasn't got us dressed up as Native Americans and Pilgrims. I shudder at the thought.

December - the last but one with the four of us. Oh no. I am NOT doing this nude. Don't worry, Mom says, nobody is going to be exposed. Huh! That's all right for her to say, it's not her stripping off. Oh, they're not going along with this, are they? I knew it would be a bad idea to bring alcohol along.

Fine, fine, so I'm talked into doing something I really don't want to do yet again. This pose is dangerous.

We're all in bathrobes, naked underneath. I have never been more nervous in my life. It's not the nude thing, it's the position I'm in. Jack and Teal'c are sitting on the floor. Jack's legs are straight out. Teal'c's are currently pulled up. I now have to lie down on the floor, sideways. I'm propping my head up, my elbow is on the floor and my head is resting on my hand. I am lying across Jack's lap. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem, in fact, I wouldn't usually mind. But I wouldn't be facing away from him and we wouldn't have an audience. Sam's in a worse position than me. She's lying in the same pose but in front of me, covering up my embarrassment. My arm is over her chest - and I'm trying NOT to touch it, and Teal'c has now draped his legs over her other, um, strategic bits. I know his calves are big, but I can only hope that Sam gets decent coverage. We'll have to trust Mom on this one - but she's an O'Neill. Can we really trust her? One, two, three and we whip off our robes. Mom's lying on the floor and trying to make sure she gets a 'modest' picture. I hope she does or I'll never be able to face my staff ever again. Oh God, the marines are going to see this. In fact, everyone's going to see my tattoo! Arrgghh!

It's over. We get our robes on as quickly as possible. The showers? What NOW?

April showers, I get it. I'm gonna get a cold too if I'm not careful. At least we get to put some clothes on for this. T-shirts and swimming costumes. Mom's got the four of us in a shower, together, she's switched it on and we're getting very wet. And the T's are getting very see-through.

A break - thank God. Need to get dry. Mom says that the rest are either going to be done individually or as couples. Jack and I are down for February together. Aw, how romantic - bleuch! T and Sam for March. God knows what she's got in store for them. Then it's Sam, Jack, me and Teal'c from March to August and that will wrap it up.

We're dry now, almost, my hair is still damp. Mom says it will be perfect for February. Huh?

She's keeping Sam and Teal'c out of this, they can see it when it's done.

"Okay boys, when you're in position, whip your robes off. This is going to be done nude."

"Mom!" I complain, "put us two together nude and it's going to look like we're posing for a gay porno mag."

"I wouldn't know anything about those, dear," she says. As if.

"Neither do I, Mom, never felt the need. But I can imagine."

"Trust me Daniel. I wouldn't do anything to embarrass my boys."

"Yes you would, Mom, you do, frequently. Hot chocolate and whipped cream ring any bells for you?" Jack's as bitter as me about that one.

"Please, I promise. It will be beautiful."

We mutter and moan and complain but sit in the position she wants for us. I'm on the floor. Sitting up, my legs straight ahead. Jack's doing the same, but he's facing me, right by my side. Our hips are about six inches away from each other, lengthways. We're rubbing skin side to side. Mom tells us to draw up the leg that's nearest her. She's lying on the floor again, promising us that she won't see anything. Like I believe her.

"Jack, you don't have anything I haven't seen before," she's scolding.

"THAT WAS FORTY YEARS AGO MOM!" It makes me laugh, anyway.

He's a bit down at the moment. I know why. It would have been Charlie's birthday in a couple of days. We comply with Mom's order to strip, not really paying a great deal of attention to her.

I reach out to him, putting my hands over his shoulders, he does the same to me.

"I know, Jack, I know when it is. I know what the day after tomorrow is. You can take the day off. Hammond won't mind. I can go with you if you want. It's about time you introduced me to him, if you want to that is. I won't mind if you'd rather keep me away. Will Sara be there?"

"Prob'ly," he's almost whispering. He lowers his head, I'm doing the same. The tops of our heads touch, a few tears are falling down both our cheeks. "I want you there, but I don't know if it would upset Sara."

"It's okay, Jack, I can wait in the car for you if you want. I'll be happy to do what ever is best, you know that."

We hardly hear Mom when she says she's gotten the perfect picture. I look at her, she's been crying. Oh fuck, losing Charlie hit her as hard as anyone. I grab my robe and go and hug her.

"Will you go with him, Mom? I don't want to upset Sara," I whisper. She nods, sniffing all the while. Jack has put his robe on and has paced off to the rest area. All I can do is go and hug him.

We finally get out of there, our solo sessions having been a bit more light-hearted. All we have to do is wait until the photos are processed and then we can choose which ones are going to press. We thought we'd get fifty printed. We should be able to strongarm the sales of them.

I'm glad to be back at work. Yesterday was hard, on Daniel as much as on me. I met Mom and Sara at the cemetery. Charlie's birthday is a no-miss day there. I took some flowers, he's too old for teddy bears now. Or rather he would have been if I hadn't been so STUPID! Damn, I have to stop that. I gave Daniel some crap yesterday. I wanted to fight with him. We've hardly fought since we got together and I needed to vent. So I did. And he took it, afraid to yell back in case it upset me more. Then I cried like a baby and he held me so tight I thought I'd stop breathing. At the time I didn't care if I did. I don't usually get so upset these days, but sometimes it hits me and I can't cope. Daniel understands and he lets me do what I need. He gets the same about Shau're. Usually okay, then one day it'll smack him in the guts. In a way it's not so bad when it's a day we expect it to happen, like yesterday, but sometimes it catches us unawares, like it did with him on Babylon. Those days are the hardest of all. Even so, I still get really down on anniversaries, like Charlie's birthday or the anniversary of his death. So when I get like that, he gets me rip roaring drunk. Good man, my Danny. He was even quiet when I woke up with a hangover from hell. Just made me some toast, gave me coffee and Tylenol and let me get on with it.

So, I'm on my way to his office before we have to go to the briefing. We're going out this afternoon, a standard recon, I hope. I've got to talk to him before we go.

"Hey, anyone there?" I call as I go in. Daniel's in there, talking to Nyan.

"Hey Ny, how's it goin'?"

"Colonel, fine, thank you." Why does he remind me of a koala bear? I have no idea.

"I'd like to speak to Daniel for a moment, please, I won't keep him long, promise."

"That's okay, Sir, we're about done anyway." He grabs his papers and runs. I think he's nervous of me.

"Jack, how's your head? Sorry for getting you so drunk, by the way."

I pull him into my arms. "It's fine, and thank you for yesterday. I was a bastard to you. You were wonderful, as usual, and I'm sorry."

"It's okay, Jack, I understand. I need to vent sometimes and you're almost always on the receiving end. You can shout at me when you like, hun, I won't take it personally."

"Daniel, I was rough with you last night. I was drunk, I didn't control myself as I should. I saw that bruise that I left on your arm."

"Sh, babe, it's okay. You know I don't mind that, not at all. It's not as if you hit me or anything." He's holding me close, pulling me as tightly as he can. "Forget it, okay? Remember that if you tried to hurt me, I'd fight back. You'd have been covered in bruises and probably sporting a few casts by now. I know you could kill me with your bare hands if you wanted, but remember, I could do the same to you. Equal playing field and all that. So, forget it. I still love you. I still want you, and I sure as hell still need you like I've never needed anyone. Still love me?"

"God, Danny, I could never stop." He's good at putting me in my place. He's right about being able to rip me a new one, he could - literally.

Standard recon, standard briefing. We'll get there, sniff around, come back and tonight we're going to pick the pics for the calendar. Mom says she has some smashing ones. I can't wait to see the one of Daniel on his own. She says it's a thing of beauty. Of course it is, it's of Daniel.

It's hot here on this planet, not like the Springs. Freezing there and it's only November. I like the cold. Danny hates it. He'd much rather emigrate during the winter, go hide out in the desert or something.

Why is it when we think there's nothing around we find a strange building in the middle of nowhere. And of course, we have to go and look. And of course it's a freaking LABORATORY??! What is it with these mad-scientist-types? Can't they build labs in sensible places? Like twenty-eight floors underneath the base of a mountain?

The gruesome twosome are like kids in a toy shop. Warnings not to touch anything are being met with "but Colonel... whine, whinge, moan," and "Jack, I'm not a kid." Huh, could'a fooled me sometimes.

"Look!" Oh God, what has Junior Miss Einstein found now?

"It's a quantum mirror!" Oh, Mr. Da Vinci is in on the act. Of course it's a fucking quantum mirror. What else would it be?


Too late. He has. Of course he has. Since when has Daniel ever left anything alone? DAMN!

And look who's on the other side. It's us. All of us. The two Daniels are waving at each other. We should easily tell them apart. The other one has short hair, mine's is still long. And sexy, and tied back in a bandana. Whoo momma.

"Come on, Jack, let's go say hello," he says. No, not the pouting, please. Combined with the fluttering eyelashes and the tongue I'm toast and he knows it. So why isn't the other Daniel doing the same?

"Fine, but we're not leaving the mirror. We go, say hello, come back. Capiche?"

"Of course, Jack," he says in the voice I have come to dread. Why do I feel like I've just signed my own death warrant? It can't be that bad, can it?

We all touch the mirror and appear on the other side. The two Teal'cs are in some sort of Mexican standoff, facing each other and saying nothing. The two Carters are not sure about each other. The Wonder-boys of course are chatting like long-lost friends. And O'Neill and I aren't sure.

Standard procedure for meeting yourself, find out where things changed. We did the same on Abydos. Danny got married. Shau're got taken. And killed. Oh fuck. I can see that Danny's just found that out. I think he was hoping that there was a version of him out there that got her back. Perhaps there is. The attack on Earth was thwarted, obviously they got Teal'c. I can't find anything major differences. We try world politics. Nada. Sounds pretty much the same. So, what's different?

The Carters say their science is the same. The Teal'cs agree on galactic stuff. So, it's the Daniels we turn to. Shrugs all round.

"How about we take a break?" I suggest. We go outside and light a fire, the Daniels sort the coffee out and the Carters do the MREs. They even fall into the same routine as us.

"You don't look happy," I say to my counterpart.

"Happy? I'm okay. You know what time of year it is, don't you? Or didn't you lose Charlie?"

"I did. And yes, I know. I was there yesterday with Sara and Mom."

"You're still with Sara?"

"No, she left me when I went to Abydos." Huh. Same there then too.

"You said Mom," he says.

"Sure, she lives in the Springs. In Danny's old place."

"Daniel's place?" His eyes are bugging out and I notice he doesn't call him Danny. I wonder?

I can see that their Daniel isn't too happy. I've a pretty good idea why too, I saw that look on my own face for far too long. I also know the difference between the two realities too. Jack and me getting together changed things for a hell of a lot of people; ours is probably one of the most significant relationships in our country's history. Oh wow, that's one hell of a concept. As we're making coffee we chat quietly.

"I take it you two aren't together then," I start. He looks at me, knowing exactly what or rather with whom I mean.

"Of course not," he hisses. "Jack's straight. Besides, he can't even stand being close to me. I have no idea what I've done. One day we were great friends, the best. Then all of a sudden he's chasing after Sam and treating me like shit. He's better now, the last couple of years he's been gentler, but it's not the same. I'm clueless as to why."

"It's nothing you've done. He's in love with you, he just doesn't think that you will feel the same."

"Come off it, he's been like this for years. Sometimes he's okay, like I matter, just sometimes I think he cares."

Aw crap, I can feel his heart breaking from here.

"Jack and I have been together for a couple of months shy of two years. Remember the exploding Jaffa?" He nods. "Jack invited me over, I said yes, he told me. He's bi, Daniel, trust me."

"I said no, I was afraid I'd throw myself at him that night, I was so shaken."

"I know." I tell him about us, some of the stuff that has happened and how we got the law changed. He's looking a lot happier now. "Look, I have an idea. How do you want to see if your Jack is interested without you having to touch him?" He nods, grinning. I think he feels he has nothing left to lose, but he's still too nervous of his Jack to act directly.

"Come with me." We go into the lab, find his bandana and we put them on identically to hide our hair, remove our glasses because the frames are different, and go back out. My tattoo is covered so they won't be able to tell from that. I know my Jack, I'm pretty certain he knows me. Time to put our plan to work.

"Hey Jack," Daniel says, going to take coffee to them both. He hands them over, I give a little nod to my Jack and he pats the floor next to him. Daniel sits next to him and rests his head on Jack's thigh. Jack strokes his hair and his cheek, looking really lovingly at him. Daniel's kissing his hand. Aw, it's so sweet. Do we look like that? I guess we do. Hey, you can cut down on the nuzzling. Ah, what the heck, I'd be doing that if I were him. Which I am. Sort of. Hell. I go over to his Jack.

"Jack, does the name Rick mean anything to you?" my Jack asks as Jack 2 sits bug-eyed looking at his Daniel and my Jack. He's not sure if it is his Daniel or me. Heh heh.

"Jack?" I put my hand out to him, he takes it warily and soon feels that my grip is a lot stronger than he realised. I pull him up and sweep him into my arms and kiss him like he has never been kissed before. Daniel is watching, I can feel his eyes boring into me. He can also see that Jack is getting a bit enthusiastic about this. The Sams are laughing their heads off by the fire.

I stand back, pull off my bandana so he can see it's me and deck him. He's laying on the floor, rubbing his chin.

"If you can do that with me, why the fuck don't you do that with him? Oh, and by the way, he can hit you just as hard - and he's a damn sight more motivated than I am. So, do yourself a favour, get up off your fucking ass and take him home because you'll both be a hell of a lot happier than you are now, I can tell you."

My Jack stands up, taking Daniel with him. He leans over, kisses him gently on the lips. Jack 2 is furious, I can tell. Well, tough shit, O'Neill, you deserve this.

"Why didn't you tell me?" he demands of him.

I answer because I know Daniel won't. "Because he was afraid that you would hate him more than you seem to now. He had no idea, Jack, none at all. All he thought was that you despised him and he didn't know why."

"Aw crap. Danny, I am so fucking sorry. You have no idea how sorry I am."

"You will be," Daniel spits back and hits him too. "Daniel was right," he says, "I am a damn sight more motivated. You ever even think of giving me as much shit as you have and you'll get another one, harder than that. Now get up and let's go home."

Jack 2 meekly gets up and follows him home. Daniel turns, winks and leads the way, his Sam and Teal'c giving each other a high five behind their backs.

"I think my work here is done," I say to Jack. He responds by wrapping his arms around my waist and hugging the shit out of me.

"Danny, you never told me how afraid you were."

"No Jack, I wouldn't have either. Doesn't matter anymore. I've got you now. Oh, and by the way, I'm more than capable of doing that to you too, so watch it buster," I wink as I say it and he grins.

We come back through the mirror, decide to take a few of the smaller items with us, the bigger stuff can come later when we send more people through for it. I'm trying to understand how there can be more than one quantum mirror in our reality. Perhaps the people who made it made a new one when they had to abandon the first one. It's a possibility. It's also as good an explanation as any Carter is currently throwing at me. Hang on, didn't they all get wiped out? Hell, I don't know, and frankly, I don't care anyway. So, we're heading to the gate and h.o.m.e. - at last.

Daniel has just stopped dead. We have long learned to trust his 'radar'. It is now screaming 'Danger, Danger Will Robinson,' very, very loudly.

"Up the tree," he hisses. The tree in question is obviously old, very old. The trunk is huge, it has loads of thick branches and copious foliage. Good thinking Daniel. We all climb up there as quickly and quietly as we can. Not easy with heavy packs on our backs. Teal'c has deposited himself on a really thick branch about halfway up. He can see through the leaves, I doubt he can be seen. Carter's on a branch on a different side. More good thinking. We cover the four compass points like this, 360 degree vision. And what do we see? Well, we hear Jaffa, loads of Jaffa. We can just about make them out through the leaves. Danny comes over, grabs my scope and scoots further up the tree. He comes back down and tells me what he's seen. It seems they have the same idea as us, they would appear to be heading to the lab. Hmm, what to do? We can't spend all night up a tree, we might fall out when we doze - and we're likely to. I can just about see the gate from where I am, using my scope. I can count at least ten Jaffa. Too damned many to take out.

Daniel swings back over to my branch from his own. For someone who hates heights, he's very at home in trees. Told me about it years ago, he used to hide out from the bullies in them. His fear never comes when he's up in them, and he's very agile, almost monkey-like when he swings from one branch to another. Where did he think I got his nickname from?

"Jack, there are some thick bushes about 500 yards over there," he points east of the gate. It may be possible to reach them without being seen, but it won't be easy. Best done at night, I think. Let's hope for a dark night. There's a stream running close to the bushes. Good, it will give us a chance to refill our water bottles.

"Go tell the others," I whisper. "Tonight, when it's dark. I doubt the Jaffa will move stuff then." He nods and quietly slides off my branch and tells Carter and then goes to Teal'c.

We have been up here hours, it's dark and quiet. There's no moon and precious little starlight, the cloud cover is reasonably thick. We are pretty certain the Jaffa think they're on their own, we haven't heard any patrols for a while. It's time to go. I give the signal, one at a time we get down from the tree and scoot into the tall grass. We take it in small bursts, about fifty yards each, dropping and waiting for the others to catch up. Me first, then Carter, Danny, then Teal'c bringing up the rear. After many goes of crouched running and dropping we finally reach the bushes. We find some dense cover near the stream and hide underneath it. Carter and Daniel are shivering, I think they were sweating and it's now cooling off on them. I'm still too hyper for it to hit me. I always get like this when my kids are in danger. Teal'c's doing his calm act, but I know his ears are as peeled as mine, listening out for any danger.

"Should we all stay up or do watches, Jack?" Daniel whispers.

"Watches, we all need to rest. You and Carter, rest now. Teal'c, see if you can meditate for a bit. I'll do this one. I'll wake Carter first, then Teal'c, then Daniel. Sorry Danny, you get to do the morning shift." I'm sure he's pulling a face even if I can't see it. I know the T man will stay up with him. And I know Danny's more than capable of taking a watch on his own, but when there's no need he shouldn't. In theory he shouldn't take any anyway, he's a civilian. But I'd never hear the end of it if I told him that. He has an idea, grabs two sleeping bags and zips them up together and then insists that Carter gets in with him. It's getting pretty cold now, he's doing the right thing. You often get that in hot climates, the nights can be very cold - or you notice it more, whatever.

I insist that Teal'c wraps another bag around him while he meditates. I'm always afraid he won't notice if his temperature drops. He says Junior regulates his internal temp, but I don't trust the snake. I should by now, but I don't. Teal'c looks at me and indulges me. I think he thinks I'm a fussy old mother hen. I probably am.

The kids are wrapped up in each others arms and out cold. Teal'c whispers, "They always look so at home together, O'Neill. I must admit that I was surprised when he told me how he felt about you. I had assumed that he would fall in love with Major Carter."

"Surprised the hell out of me, buddy. Not that I'm complaining."

"Indeed. Tell me, are you as happy with him now as you thought you would be?"

That's a good question, it could so easily have become boring between us the minute we were allowed to be together. The answer is a very definite and emphatic, "Absolutely, Teal'c. Happier even than I could've imagined. Can't explain it, it's just like he was meant to be there, part of my life. Ya know?"

"I do." And he drops the subject.

Ugh. I hate mornings at the best of times - and this isn't one of them. Jaffa by the gate so I don't get a fire and therefore no coffee. This isn't going to do much for my mood. And I HATE morning wake ups. Mind, this is an unusual position to find myself in. I'm in the sleeping bag, Jack squashed on one side of me and Sam on the other, still snuggled up in my arms. She must have gotten back in after her watch. Aw, isn't that cute. I worm myself out of the bag. I think Teal'c's going to stay up with me. Once he's done his kel'no'reem he doesn't need to sleep. We're trying not to giggle as Jack and Sam find each other in the bag and are snuggling up to each other. Neither of them is used to sleeping alone these days. Sam and Ed seem to be getting pretty serious. I'm happy for her, he seems like a nice guy.

I whisper to Teal'c, asking him if he's noticed anything odd with the Jaffa. He hasn't. So, we're hoping that our assumption that they'll go when they've got their stuff will hold out. Brrr, it's chilly at the moment, and quite damp under this cover, it's holding the newly-formed dew. As long as it doesn't form on me I'll be happy - well, just not as pissed off as I am at the moment.

"Can you see which Goa'uld they belong to?" I ask. Teal'c shakes his head. I sneak Jack's scope out of his pocket and have a look. I see a very familiar tattoo on the head of one of the few Jaffa currently walking about. I hand it to Teal'c. His face falls, this is one snake neither of us wants to get up close and personal with - again.

Time's passing, the light's getting brighter, time to wake the others. We shake them quietly, they open their eyes and nearly yell when they see just how up close and personal they have got. And if I know Jack - and I think I do by now - he'll have a certain, um, 'gift' just waiting for her. Oh, he has, his face is as red as a beetroot. This would be really funny back on Earth, but none of us can afford to laugh right now. It would be the last laugh - literally.

Sam's trying to say that it's okay, he's trying to apologise.

"Hush, you two," I say. "It happens, no point in blushing."

They both nod and mutter things like 'you're right' and 'of course'. Of course I'm right.

"Bad news, guys, we know which Goa'uld it is."



"Me?" Aw hell, we've done this before - twice.

"Yu, you awkward bastard. The snake, Yu; the one that neither Teal'c nor I had better come face-to-face with ever again."

"Ah." Jack gives a nod of understanding. "What's he doing here?"

"He isn't, his Jaffa are, and they are doing what we thought, Jack, there's stuff from the lab by the gate. They brought the mirror about half an hour ago."

"Oh fuck, that's all we need. An interdimensional snake."

"It's not a problem, Jack."

"Oh yes it is, he may use it to get tech and weapons and God knows what."

"No he won't," I say emphatically, or at least as emphatically as I can in a whisper.

"How do you know?" Jack asks, his 'Daniel, you can be so naïve at times' look firmly plastered to his face.

"Because I have this," I say, my 'I'm not as innocent as you think' look on mine as I show him the mirror dial that I brought with me.

Sam and Teal'c are smothering sniggers and Jack ruffles my hair. Prick.

I hope this is going to be over soon, I'm getting stiff. We're sitting as close as we can, trying not to make any noise. Not easy. We can't eat the MREs. It's possible to eat them cold, but none of us wants to - the normal sounds of retching after we've eaten cold MREs may catch the Jaffa's attention. We have a couple of protein bars, so they get passed out. That should stop us passing out, for now.

Finally! They've gone! Woo hoo! I'd shout out loud but we can't be sure, absolutely positively sure we're alone. We're sneaking out of the bushes. Jack has gone ahead - needs to check out the lie of the land first - and we're following, Teal'c bringing up the rear as usual. It's funny, we have our positions and fall into them without question. Mine is the favoured position, I suppose it's as it should be. I used to get miffed about it, but not anymore. It means that Jack can concentrate on his job better, so that keeps him safe.

We've arrived at the gate and we're taking the chance. Sam's getting ready to send the signal, she's programmed it to send as soon as the gate opens. I dial as quickly as I can and we go.

Home at last. We're sweaty - it got very humid this afternoon - smelly, tired and very, very, hungry. A quick greeting from the General. We're a couple of hours late. He held off from sending a MALP through, he was going to do it fairly soon, in fact there was one on the ramp waiting to go when we dialled back. Just as well he didn't, the Jaffa may have realised we were there.

Quickly through the infirmary routine and straight to the showers. Sam's gonna share with us today. She does that when we're this tired. It's amazing how tired you get when you have to hide. We've all seen each other naked, there's no surprises. The General's leaving the debrief till tomorrow, thank God. Can't face it now. Ah, this hot water is so good.

"Danny, shall we eat here or wait till we get home?" Jack's asking.

"Eat here, Jack. I'm starving, suffering from caffeine withdrawal and I'm too damn tired to cook. Actually, forget the coffee, just give me the goddamn beans. I'll take it straight."

Really home now. Straight to bed. Much as the commissary food isn't that good, it filled a gap. I just know I'm going to be out cold the second my head hits the pill...

"Hmm, Carter," Jack's mumbling. Bastard. I've just woken up, he's got a five alarm hard-on prodding my thigh and making out that he's dreaming of Sam. Two can play at that game, honey.

"Oh God, Paul, yeah babe, just there. Oh God, LOVE you."

Jack's dissolved in a fit of giggles. "Okay Danny, you win," he moans. Of course I do, I always win. He's gonna get his though.

"Ooh, goody, what do I win?"


"That'll do, get over here flyboy."

Well, that was interesting. The debrief went as normal, Hammond was miffed that we'd lost so much stuff but relieved that Yu wasn't going to get to use the mirror. He also said that he'd heard from the Tok'ra. They've finished the refit of the Rascal (the name Jack gave Ra's ha'tak). Not only do we have our very own MOTHER SHIP (that never gets old), we have a convertible. We can sneak up on System Lords, decloak and watch them crap themselves. It's going to be so satisfying. Jacob's coming over later to hand the keys back (or whatever).

There's a schedule up on the mess hall wall with all the fund-raising events going on. I'm definitely getting tickets for Lou's party, the Marine's sponsored bender (I am so going on that one), going to watch the SAS sports event, maybe enter the chess competition. There's a debate competition organised by SG-9 - oh yeah, got to enter that one. Maybe the karaoke night? Not going to let Jack sing though, he needs to hold on to some shred of dignity. He won't have a great deal when that calendar goes on sale. Talking of which...

"Daniel, darling, are you going to come over to my office later and help choose the photos?" Mom's voice comes ringing across the commissary.

"Shh, Mom, it's a secret," I say as I get really close to her.

"Photographs, Daniel?" Svetlana has wandered over to us, she's almost purring in the sexy Russian way. Mustn't let on to Jack but I've always had a thing for Russians.

"Wait and see, Svetlana," I reply. "By the way dorogaya, what are you doing for the fund-raiser?"

"The Russian scientists have got together as a group. We are going to organise a treasure hunt."

"That sounds great fun," it does too. "What's the treasure?"

"That would be telling," she says, scrunching her nose up in a way that makes me want to kiss it. Now that she's not having to deal with the harsh Siberian climate, her skin positively glows and she is really very, very sexy. Down boy.

In Russian (and in the sexiest voice I can muster - I am so sad), I say, "If you are the treasure, sign me up." I leave her laughing anyway. Hey ho.

I walk with Mom. "Choosing the photos will all depend on what happens when Jacob comes," I say. "He's due soon. I guess what I'm saying is that we might have to leave it to you to choose the best ones. Mom, please, don't pick any that could embarrass Jack more than necessary. His position has to be taken into account. You can do what you like to me, I don't care, but please, look after Jack's reputation."

"I promise, darling, I won't hurt anyone. I'm telling you now, some of the photos are funny, but some are very, very beautiful. I won't let you down."

"I know, Mom, I know."

I don't fucking believe this. Jacob has just told us that we have a chance to go and take a pot shot at Anubis. This cloaking device on the Rascal is giving us the opportunity. Of course, now that they've put it there we have to go and do what they say. So much for an alliance - mutually beneficial my ass. And even more 'of course' it's gonna take us away from all the fund-raising goings-on here back at the base. I know I was itching to see some action, but it could've waited a week or two. But no, they know where he is and we can get there in forty-eight hours in the ship. Of course we can. And Danny's got an idea which he isn't sharing yet, I can tell. He's got that look on his face, the one that says he's planning something but he's not going to tell me, just yet. Huh.

So, we're now packing up and getting ready to ship out. I'm not bothered by going into action, what's scaring me is that MOM is going to be the one to pick the photos for the calendar. It's got to go to print tomorrow if we're going to stand any chance of selling any during the fund-raising week - which starts next Monday. Scared? I'm crapping myself.

Daniel's packed sufficient coffee rations for all of us for a month, I think. Carter's brought the chocolate - similar amounts. It's up to me and Teal'c to bring the real food, sleeping bags, spare clothes, weapons, that sort of thing.

"But Jack, that's your area of expertise," Daniel said when I called him on it. Damn, if it wasn't for the blinking eyelashes and the tongue I'd have yelled at him. Double huh.

So, the FRED is packed and we're on the ramp raring (?) to go. Daniel's still planning something. I can see some strategic tickling coming his way if he doesn't spill. Said goodbye to Mom in her office. I am not allowing her to ever see us off in the gate room. All that straightening our collars and checking to see if we have enough clean underwear - it would be way too embarrassing. Poor Danny. He went years without having that sort of tyrannical mothering - my attempts not withstanding - and now he's got it in spades. I don't think his mother or his good foster mother ever went in for public displays of affection - and I'm not talking the gay pride thing here either. From what I can gather, Daniel's hugs as a child were from his nannies. Neither of his parents were particularly hands-on. They'd do stuff with him, stuff that other kids never get to do in a million years. They took their time teaching him about hieroglyphs and history, but as far as I can work out, neither of his parents had ever been hugged much as kids themselves. You only have to look at the way Nick treated him to work that one out. Of course, now he's got a hands-on Irish mother who couldn't give a fuck whether loving her boys in public is appropriate, and heaven help anyone who tried to stop her. Giving credit where it's due, he copes manfully. Oy, is he manful.

A goodbye from the General and we step through to the planet where the Rascal is parked. We're not taking troops. It's gonna be an SG-1/Tok'ra show all the way. Jacob's coming with us. Some other Tok'ra are meeting us there. A short walk and we're at the ship. God, it's gorgeous - and fucking scary to be on the wrong end of. Glad it's ours.

Daniel's quiet. Not upset or sad, just thinking. I'm letting him think. If I interrupt him now I'll get the scowl, he'll lose his train of thought and I won't get any sex for two weeks. Not that he'd be so mercenary to use it as a tool to get what he wants, he just won't be 'in the mood'. So, I'll just be the supportive SO and let him think. I'm being so supportive that I'm heading anyone else off before they get anywhere near him.

"Leave him, Carter, he's thinking," I say as she goes over to him. A quick suspicious look from Danny, then a tight smile tells me that he appreciates what I'm doing.

In the ship, everything's loaded and we head for the bridge. I am not going to use Goa'uld terms for this baby. She's a Tauri ship now. We fucking earned her. And the irony of using the term 'Tauri' isn't lost on me either. It just sounds lots better than 'Earthlings' or 'Terrans.'

Jake's powering her up and away we go. Daniel's sitting on the floor, lost in thought.

"Is he all right, Sir?" Carter's asking.

"Fine, he's just planning something. You know how he gets. When he's figured it out, he'll let us know. He always does. And he's never let us down yet, has he?" She shakes her head, agreeing with me.

Aw fuck. It never rains, does it? Guess who one of the other Tok'ra is? Madame Zeppelin - the hostess with the mostest. Damn, those tits should be registered as a lethal weapon. She nearly had my eye out when she turned around.

"Colonel O'Neill, it is good to see you again," she's purring. Yeah babe, wish I could say the same about you. Fuck, she's coming on to me again, I can tell. So can Danny.

"Anise, Freya, glad you could make it," I lie.

Daniel's over to me in a shot. However, his first words aren't ones I'd expect.

"Anise. Have you made any more of the Goa'uld-killing toxin that I was supposed to use against the System Lords?"

She looks nervous. As well she should. I know he gets jealous, but that's a bit extreme. Besides, it's Freya that likes me. A quick glance at Jake and she says, "We have some on our home planet. What are you planning, Dr. Jackson?"

"I think I know of a way to take out Anubis and Osiris once and for all." That gets their attention.

He explains the basics of his plan. And it's a very good plan. Except for one minor snag. Danny's the bait.

Before I start yelling that this isn't a good idea and getting it in the neck for being over protective, I let him go through all the pre-thought objections. He's not going to go to Anubis' ship. He's not going to be alone at any time. In fact, he's going to remain on the Rascal and Osiris is going to come over to us. Oh boy, if this works, it's gonna be a good one. I give the nod to Jacob and he says that it's worth the risks. Anise isn't so sure, but Selmac agrees with us so we are taking a short detour to pick up the stuff.

Time for bed. Anise, or rather Freya has spent the entire evening making goo-goo eyes at me and flirting. I've let her, it's been amusing. I stand up and yawn. Daniel stands, puts his hand out to me and says in a hot and needy voice, "Ready for bed, babe?"

Anise's mouth (or Freya's - whatever) is so far open I could use her for trawling the lake in Minnesota. The Carters, Teal'c and the other Tok'ra are desperately trying not to wet themselves. I smile, say goodnight, take Daniel's hand and we go off to the room we've chosen as ours for our stay. Nobody could face sleeping on the luxurious beds made for the king of snakes. Not to mention the fact that we're all a bit wary after the force field episode of even sitting down on something of Ra's even though the Tok'ra have gone through it with a fine-toothed comb. We're gonna have to make some changes around here. Get the Goa'uld décor out of here and fit stuff more appropriate for the Tauri - all tasteful and suchlike. But for now, it's bed rolls and sleeping bags - joined up together for Danny and me. There's a door which is now shut. Our people know to stay away. We like our privacy whether we're indulging in red-hot, animalistic, mind-blowing, toe-curling, brain-melting, pornographic sex or just plain cuddling. Sam and Teal'c know this. I'm guessing Jake has a pretty good idea about this too. I just hope that pain-in-the-asp features and Miss Michelin have got it.

Typical 'safe' off-world dress for us. Our boots and socks are off, as are our jackets and shirts, leaving pants and Ts. That'll do for now. Although...

"Oh God Danny, I have been wanting this all day," I moan into his mouth as we lay on the bedding. Both of us are hard, both of us desperate to get off. He grins, pulls back so I can see his face, twirls his finger and WOO HOO! I know what he's got in mind. Pants hit the deck faster than an Olympic sprinter out of the blocks. He turns around and we indulge in a favourite pastime. And my favourite number. Hmm, I love the number 69.

Damn, Daniel's not so much hot as on fire tonight. We often get well worked up after a mission, but this time, I dunno, it's as if it's going to be the last time we do this.

Of course, the advantage of the 69 is that it's difficult to howl out loud with someone's dick in your mouth. Which makes it ideal for rule-breaking, red-hot, animalistic, yadda yadda. He crawls back up to me, panting and grinning like an idiot.

"So, what was that about," I ask - okay, so I'm panting and grinning like said idiot.

"Ritual," he said, "I changed the mission parameters. Needed to redo the ritual or it wouldn't work." Ah, of course. Since the word go we've made out before a mission. It's kept us safe - well, that's our excuse and we're sticking to it.

"Come on, sleep. I think we're going to be busy over the next few days."

I love waking up wrapped up in Jack's arms. I love it even more when he's horny. I've got both at the moment so I'm a happy bunny. And this bunny wants to do something about the morning predicament we always seem to have. It's not as if we're off-world - well, we are, off every world, but we're not in a tent and we're not expecting Jaffa to come crashing through the door. So let's start with kissing, hmm, I like kissing. Who am I kidding? I LOVE it. Oh yeah, can't make a mess so he's going down. Ooh Momma. Love that.

"Dr. Jackson?" There's a knock at the door and it's Tok'ra Bitch. Fuck!

My dick has deflated quicker than a popped balloon and Jack's fuming. I think she has the same effect on him. At least I hope so. He's always been an ass man, not a boobs man.

"Huh, um, yes?" I call.

"Can I talk to you?" Obviously you can, wench, or you wouldn't have just spoiled my wake-up call.

"I'll come out in a minute."

"You came out years ago," Jack mutters. Ha! Huh. No fair.

We scramble up and get dressed quickly. I am so not in a good mood now. I storm out of the room.

"What do you want?" It takes all my diplomatic skills not to yell at her. Sam's in the corridor and I think she's guessed why I'm not in a good mood because she's trying not to laugh.

"I wouldn't try getting Daniel to be nice yet," she says, "he hasn't had any coffee. Come on, Daniel, I've got some made for you." She puts her hand out and leads me away, Freya dogging my heels.

"Just what do you have in mind?" she's asking. Apart from killing you?

"What do you mean?"

"How are you going to get Osiris over to this ship?" God, she's as persistent as one of those super-viruses and as hard to get rid of.

"I have something in mind," I say cryptically and stomp off in the direction of the caffeine.

"You really should share your thoughts," says Madame Bacterium, her voice is getting harder by the minute.

"And I will," I reply. She's getting nothing off me just now. I am NOT in the mood to talk.

One of the other Tok'ra hands me a mug and gets a smile off me. See, it's only you I detest, witch. I quite like some of the other Tok'ra. Quite. He introduces himself.

"My name is Qabil," he says.

"Arabic origin, means 'able'," I reply, "and given that this is good coffee, I'd say you are." He smiles at me and we talk. He's been around a long time, on Earth during Ra's reign. He was one of the resistance movement that helped get rid of him; not that Ra found out because he stayed with him until we killed the bastard. I like him, he's not bad for a snake. We compare notes on ancient Egypt, his descriptions of the time mostly coincide with what I have learned, though he fills me in on the smells and the colour and the tastes of the time. Things you can't really learn from a dig.

We have talked for hours. And we have succeeded in completely pissing Anise off. It was worse for her because we reverted to speaking in ancient Egyptian as it is spoken on Abydos. She speaks Goa'uld and a few other languages, the native ones of her previous hosts, but she obviously never had an Abydonian or Ancient Egyptian host. Qabil's host is Abydonian. It turns out that he, Qabil, had been working undercover for the Tok'ra in Ra's court. About fifty years ago he needed a new host and his current one volunteered. The host, Kadim, was not a fan of Ra and when Qabil took the chance and explained who he was, Kadim jumped at the chance of working against the Goa'uld. Fortunately, they weren't on Abydos when we turned up. Kadim knows Kasuf, so we had a good long chat about life there and the people we know. He seems to have taken a shine to me.

I introduce him to Jack and I can see that Jack has taken to him. Jack loves the Abydonians as much as I do. I also feel we have another supporter among the diminishing Tok'ra ranks.

Another night of frustration. Neither of us is really in the mood to make out, though some kissing and touching snuck its way in to our bedtime routine.

And here we are. Jacob's called out that we are approaching the system where Anubis' fleet is. He's brought us out of hyperspace and we're cloaked. He says that just drifting quietly in through the fleet and heading close to Anubis' flagship will be our best bet. I've briefed Qabil/Kadim on my plan and they've promised to help me go through with it. They are going to pretend to be Ra himself. I'm glad about that because I had no idea how I was going to pull this off before.

Without decloaking, we switch on the communicator, audio only. Don't want to give ourselves away, just yet. I brought along one of those voice things, the ones we use when we're pretending to be snakes for the training exercises.

"Lord Anubis!" I call out in Goa'uld, my voice is making Jack go a bit pale. The thought of either one of us being snaked gives us nightmares.

"Who dares call my name?" the demanding, disembodied voice rings through the peltac.

"Arif, servant of my Lord. He wishes to see Lord Osiris. He demands that Lord Osiris be brought to his ship now."

"Who is your Lord?" Curiosity now. Well, as they say, it killed the cat, I wonder if it will be the downfall of the jackal?

"Ra netjer-aa neb-pet." Ra, the Great Lord, God of the Heaven. Whoo boy, fan-hitting-shit time. Or something.

"Ra is dead." The coldness in Anubis voice was tempered by a distinct waver.

"This says otherwise," Qabil says and we decloak and pull up the visual. The rest of us are hiding out of the way, we don't want to be spotted yet. Only the other couple of minor Tok'ra, their hosts unknown to the Goa'uld stay either side of Qabil. We dressed them as servants of Ra, giving one a painted-on gold tattoo on his forehead. All the stuff left on this ship by His Royal Snakeness came in handy.

Anubis' face is a picture as we decloak. No ordinary System Lord has a ship this big. Qabil is on a roll.

"Send Osiris to my ship or I will order my fleet to destroy yours."

"You have no fleet," Anubis replies, the bravado in his voice betraying the fact that he has probably just wet himself.

"I was dead and had no ship a moment ago," Qabil replies quietly. He knew Ra, knew all his mannerisms. Anubis asks him a few things that only Ra should know. Qabil had spent thousands of years with him. He knew as well. Fortunately, he always managed to stay away from Anubis, at least with this host so he isn't recognised. For once, something is going right.

"Do as I say, Anubis, or I will."

The screen goes blank, it's crunch time.

"Do you have the gas ready?" I ask Anise. She nods, not saying anything. "Teal'c, Jack, you're on," I say. They nod and go. Inside the cargo deck is Jacob's teltac. They are going to fly it out, cloaked, to Anubis' ship and when they get the word they'll transport the vials down. Along with a small explosive which, we are hoping, will release the gases and kill every Goa'uld on board. I no longer have any qualms about this, I was surprised when I had them at the conference. To kill the host, especially one that has been virtually tortured for millennia, can only be seen as a comfort. And if the host likes being a Goa'uld, then tough titties, it deserves to die.

I call Anubis again, without the visual. "Anubis!" I drop the polite 'Lord' now. "My Lord becomes impatient. If you do not wish to incur the wrath of the Greatest One you should comply now. Or die."

I hear Osiris' voice in return.

"Why should I? What right do you have to demand my presence?" My, my, we are haughty, aren't we? I nod to Qabil and we show them the bait. The visual goes on and Osiris sees me, the Tok'ra who's playing the first prime has his arm across my throat. I'm pretending to struggle, got to look convincing.

I see Sarah's face soften as Qabil says, "I have a present for the offspring of my offspring. Join me, child. I wish to see you again."

"What guarantees do I have of safety?"

"You have the word of Ra. That always used to be enough for you." He/she nods and says she'll be right over. Osiris is either trusting, stupid or has a plan. I'm going for option three at the moment - just in case.

I'm nervous now, this is either going to work as planned or we're all dead. Jack and Teal'c have to deliver the gas and, remaining cloaked, get the fuck out of there and meet us at prearranged co-ordinates. As soon as we get Sarah on board, we're going to cloak and disappear. It's anybody's guess as to whether this will work out. The Tok'ra head down to the cargo deck. Qabil and I have armed ourselves with zats. Everybody is under strict instructions to only kill Sarah if lives are in danger. It would be pointless to have done all this and come back with a body. Or without, depending on how many times she gets zatted.

As expected, she has some Jaffa, six of them. We, however, have the element of surprise. Anise, Mahari and Shubha (the two pretending to be Jaffa) are escorting them all to the peltac. I'm kneeling on the floor, my zat behind me. I'm trying to look defeated. Qabil is standing behind me and Sam and Jacob are hiding behind the door.

"Daniel Jackson, we meet again," Osiris says. Qabil makes some noise about me being a gift for his favourite relative and then we pounce. We all draw our zats and fire once at the seven visitors. Sarah gives me a look of surprise as I fire at her. We agreed it would be me because we didn't want her getting multiple strikes.

As soon as everyone is down Jacob pounces on the controls, sends the message to Teal'c, cloaks us and floors it.

There's a mad rush to tie up the Jaffa and Sarah before they recover. Some are out for the count, others were just nicked with it and are twitching. We disarm them and drag the Jaffa off to the cells as quickly as we can. Our quarrel isn't with them. Teal'c can have a good long chat with them when we meet up. We did discover some explosive devices attached to one of them. Damn. They were going to use him as a 'human' bomb. My hatred for the Goa'uld just increased. We'll have to ditch the explosives asap.

I gave a full dose of the zat to Sarah/Osiris so they're unconscious. I tie them to a chair and sit on the floor to wait.

Osiris has woken up to find a device attached to him. Her. Whatever. It's an inhibitor, just like the Tollen used on Skarra/Klorel at his Triad.

"Ah, you've woken up," I say, trying not to yawn. "Oh, we found the bomb, by the way." I check out Sarah's face looking to see if there's anything else she's hiding. I don't think there is.

"Release me at once," the order comes back. I just give an 'as if' look.

"I wish to speak to Sarah," I say. Osiris argues with me. Tough. I press the button and stop him from talking.


"Daniel! Oh my God, it's really you. It's me, honestly."

"I know Sarah, how are you coping?"

"I'm not, this is like a nightmare. Can you help me? Can you get this thing out of me?"

"We're going to, Sarah, it will take a little while longer, we can't do anything on the ship. You'll have to be patient."

"Okay, you have no idea how good it is to see you."

"I can guess. Look, I'm not going to tell you what we've done, just in case Osiris gets out of this. I just wanted you to know that we're going to have to do whatever it takes to stop him."

"Even if it means killing me?"

"I'm sorry. Yes. Even if it means killing you. I don't want that, none of us do. We have two options for getting it out of your head, neither is without risk."

She takes a deep breath. "Daniel. It's all right. I'm not sure I can live with the knowledge of what I've done. If I have to die, then I want you to know that I'm okay with that. It's going to be easier than living."

"Thanks. It may not come to that. I just wanted to warn you, it's going to hurt, no matter what we do. The risks are high."

"The stakes are high, Daniel. Anubis has plans."

"Do you know them?"

"I do." I tell her to wait and call Jacob in. He gets out a device and we record what she says. It's chilling. Anubis wants to take out the Tauri and the Tok'ra once and for all. He's already had a good go at the Tok'ra. I just hope that Jack and Teal'c are successful in their mission.

Sarah and I spend some time catching up - talking of inconsequential things. I haven't told her about Jack, I don't want Osiris knowing just yet. Sarah's actually quite pleased for me that I was right. I told her about the Presidential Medal - or rather seeing Steven there and how he reacted. She says I should try to persuade him to join us. I'm not sure about that.

"Steven won't come there for me, Sarah, however, if we can extract Osiris you know you'll have to remain with the project so maybe he'll join us both."

"I suppose so," she sighs. "I can't imagine going back to ordinary life now. Despite the pain, I've learned so much. We know so little about the universe and its history it's not funny." She's not wrong.

We've reached the rendezvous point. All we have to do is wait for Jack and Teal'c now. I've left Sarah, she's resting. Jacob's with her, as is Mahari, just in case Osiris somehow regains control.

"How long before the teltac catches up?" I ask. Anise tries to look down her nose at me. Nice try babe, but I'm way taller than you. Shubha tells me that we'll have to wait a couple of hours, it can't go as fast as the ha'tak. I can see some serious pacing happening between now and their arrival. We can't call them, we can't do anything that might alert a pursuing fleet. If there is one. I think I know how Hammond feels when he has teams off-world - especially us as he's particularly close to us. I got a pretty good idea of it when they were stuck off-world for nine days when I had my appendix out and we had to get the beta gate running. That was a nightmare. Not to mention it was the beginning of all the real trouble between me and Jack. Not a fun time.

Yep, I was right. I've been pacing for hours. I've been drinking coffee, eating chocolate and generally driving everybody nuts. I think I'm a bit wired. Shubha tells me that they should be here by now. Where in fuck's name are they? They'd better be alive, this was my plan. If my plan has gotten them killed...

Damn, they're half an hour late. Teal'c wouldn't have gotten lost, he's too good a pilot for that.

An hour... Two hours... Three... I'm going nuts, whacko, one can short of a six-pack, loopy, crazy, mad, a sandwich short of a picnic, one peck short of a bushel, abso-friggin-lutely insane!

"They didn't make it, did they?" I ask, praying that I'm wrong. Sam's looking worried, she's cuddling me like crazy, clinging on hard.

The communicator crackles into life. "Oh Lucy, I'm ho-ome." YAHOO!

They've landed right next to us, we chose an uninhabited planet in the wrong direction from the Tok'ra home and the Alpha site, just in case we were followed. We're still cloaked though, so we should be okay. I hope.

I storm outside, he emerges from the cargo ship and I run towards him and...


"Pleased to see you too, Daniel," he says. Bastard.

We had a problem with the engine en route back. Apart from that everything went like a dream. We delivered the package, the little audio transmitter that we sent with it told us that it went 'bang' and we heard some moans, so there's hope that it worked. We'll leave it to the Tok'ra to find out. They can let us know when they do.

Jacob's pleased. They've been getting some serious intel from Sarah. Daniel's quiet. I'm not sure why yet. After his little rant at me he withdrew into a fugue and he's stayed there. Gonna have to do some serious sucking up, I can tell.

As soon as we tell them we are sure we weren't followed we load the cargo ship up and head out to Alpha site. When we get there, the Tok'ra will take Sarah and extract Osiris. She's decided to stay with them for now and pass on every scrap of knowledge she has - which Jacob has promised faithfully to share. To be fair, ever since the attack on their home world they've been better at sharing intel. Still don't trust them too much.

"Danny? Are you all right?"

"Sure Jack, why wouldn't I be?"

"Oh, I dunno, I'm guessing that the fact that you haven't spoken a word for the last few hours might make me think that you aren't happy."

"Sorry. I guess that everything has just caught up with me."

I lay him down on our bed, remove his jacket and shirt and start to rub his bare back.

"Spill," I order. He's not going to keep this to himself; not no way, no how.

"It was my idea, Jack, and it could have gotten you killed. I got you killed before, on the Nox world because I wanted to go after Apophis. I wanted to rescue Sarah, it was important to me. I guess it's because I fucked up getting Shau're back, I really wanted to get Sarah back, ya know?"

"I do." I'd refute his arguments, but I think he needs to say more.

"And then I condemned all those Jaffa to a painful death. I'm not sorry about the Goa'uld, none of them, either the ones possessing the hosts or the baby ones. I am sorry about the Jaffa. There could have been hundreds there, maybe thousands. You've seen what it's like for Teal'c when the symbiote is taken from him. All I could think about was revenge."

"I know."

"Is that it? Aren't you going to offer a palliative?"

"Do you want me to?"

"I, I'm not really sure. This is so screwed, Jack. I know they're the enemy, but the Jaffa are as much victims in this as the hosts are."

"True. Do ya want to know what I think about today?"

He pulls away from me and turns around, blinking at me as he tries to focus on my face.

"Always." That's true, he always listens to me.

"I think that you're feeling unnecessarily guilty. Yeah, your plan could have gotten me killed. I wouldn't worry about that. The decision to go was mine and mine alone. You did your job. You came up with a plan. In fact, you did my job. It was a tactical, military plan. And it was a very good one. Well thought out, and in the end, perfectly executed. But, and here's the thing, I am in command. Any tactical decision is mine to make. You must remember this, Daniel, whether the plan is yours or not, we don't do it unless I say so. And I won't say so unless I think it's a good plan. Don't worry about the Nox thing, I wanted to get him too, we're even on that score. And as for the Jaffa, well, I could lecture you on casualties of war, I could try to tell you they're better off this way, but I won't. We did the right thing, Daniel. From what Jacob's been telling me Anubis was building his forces to attack Earth. But I know that won't make you feel any better. I guess all I can say is rather them than us. You'll have to live with it. It's hard, but there you are. And don't forget that I'm here for you. And as Teal'c would say, they died free; free from the snakes that enslaved them. You can't do more for them than that."

He puts his arms out to me and we hold each other close. "Thanks Jack. For understanding and not patronising me. It would have been easier for you to do that."

"Yes, it would. But I promised you I'd tell you the truth in everything when we got together, I won't sugar-coat things or lie now. I respect you far too much for that."

I'm rewarded with a huge smile and one enormous kiss.

We're home. It's taken us a week. Five days to complete the mission and two with the Tok'ra. I think that Daniel wanted to make sure that Sarah was okay. They got Osiris out and killed it. We even saw them kill it. I guess they wanted to prove to us that they would do as we asked. Sarah's telling them every little thing she knows. As and when she's ready, they'll bring her home. Danny's happier now. Teal'c has told him that he's happy about the Jaffa deaths - well, happy may be a bit strong a word, but we got his meaning. The captured Jaffa have been sent home. They were given the choice to go home or join the resistance. I think that some of them will join, but they wanted to see their families first. It's up to them what they do, we can't force them to start fighting against what they believe in, though I think that our actions and Teal'c's words will go a long way to persuading them.

The place is quiet as we walk through, we're getting funny looks. Not all of us, just Daniel and me. Nothing hostile, if anything the looks are warm, but it's still odd.

Janet's waiting for us in the infirmary and gives us all a big hug as we come in. Nothing too unusual in that. But the hugs that Daniel and I get are accompanied by wet eyes, as if she wants to cry. Oh my God, Mom.

"Jan? What's wrong? Is Mom all right?"

"She's fine, Jack," she replies with a smile. Thank God for that. So what's with the weird behaviour? Daniel's picked up on it too and by the looks of him he's as confused as me.

"BOYS!" Mom, thank heavens. Perhaps we'll get a straight answer now.

"What's going on, Mom? Everyone's treating us as if we need handling with kid gloves."

"Ah, of course, you didn't see them."

"Mom?" she gets in stereo. What the fuck did she do with the calendar?

"Come to see me as soon as you can, I'll show you in my office."

We scoot up to the briefing room, let Hammond know what went on as quickly as we can and then the four of us run to her office.

She's beaming at us as we come in.

"I've got news for you," she starts. "I've had to ask the printers to do a second run of the calendars, they flew out as soon as we got them in. Not bad at twenty bucks a time."

The four of us are in shock. We'd hoped to sell fifty at five bucks a piece, but twenty? Who's she kidding?

"I've got orders for another 150," she says with a grin.

"I want to see it now, Mom," I say, highly suspicious of what's there. She pulls one out and turns the cover over.

January, and we're laughing our heads off in the photo. Okay, we're looking a bit silly in white swimming costumes but we all have pretty good bodies, so we've nothing to be ashamed of. She turns the page and it goes onto March. Oh, they must be double printed. We're treated to an eyeful of Teal'c with a cardboard white dickey, black bow tie and black bathing trunks - brief ones, and Sam in a very revealing Bunny Girl outfit. She looks stunning. We tease them a bit, but to be fair it's a great photo. May - WHOO MOMMA! Sam, nude and on her own. Her laptop in front of her, sitting sideways, scrunched up so you don't see anything you shouldn't and holding a notebook and pen. Looking very studious I must say.

"Wow Sam, you look gorgeous," Daniel says, and she gets "what he said," from me and Teal'c. She does. Wow, she really does.

Another turn of the page and I'm treated to a nude Daniel in July. His bandana on, his boonie placed strategically. He's sitting on the floor, his legs out a little further than Sam's were, but the hat covers everything. His body is slightly twisted at the top so you can see both his tattoos. Fortunately, no jewellery. WOOF! I sneak my arms around his waist and nibble his ear.

"You think you can pose like that for me at home?" I murmur. He turns to face me, his eyes are twinkling and he says, "Oh, I think it can be arranged." HOWL! Down boy, wait till we get home.

Sam and Teal'c also think he looks edible. I'm getting worried about Teal'c.

September, another funny one with the school uniforms. November, as daft as January avec le pumpkin. Oy! Mom flips the calendar and we get to see December. Damn! We look hot as a team. You can't see anything but you can easily tell we're naked. Oh yeah, I can see why these are selling. What with a naked Daniel and Sam lying down. Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

She flips the page back, October. The devils not so keenly disguised. Sam in the photo is laughing her head off as we hold her across us. Another good one. Oh my, August and a naked Jaffa. Mom got him to sit cross-legged and placed candles, large candles around him. He's holding one of those massive church candles in front of him. She says that she airbrushed any vestiges of his pouch out before sending the pictures to the printer's. Looks good, very regal. Sam's saying he looks dangerous. He does.

Oh no, June. My solo naked effort. Mom got me with the cammo paint, my baseball cap sat back to front, an ammo belt over my shoulders and my P-90 across my lap, hiding my embarrassment. Still not sure how she persuaded George to let me take that off base.

"How about posing like that for me?" Daniel asks with a wicked leer. Oh yeah, I think I can do that for him.

April - I remember getting that wet - yeuch. We're all in the shower, our hands pointing up, laughing at some god-awful joke that Teal'c cracked and I can't remember (I think it's incipient amnesia out of self-defence). Mom's looking a bit shy now as she flips to February.


"I told you it would be beautiful," she says.


My mind has gone blank. I can't find the words.

Sam's almost weeping, hell, so am I. Teal'c puts his hands on our shoulders. "This image captures your true feelings for each other," he says in that serious way he has. "It is truly a work of great wonder." He's right, ya know? He's really not wrong at all.

Daniel hugs me and all I can do is hug him back.

Mom sat side on for this one. The way she got us to sit, facing each other would have been nice in itself, but the way our knees come up it makes our legs look like a ribbon with a bow in it. I remember what we were talking about - Charlie. You can see Daniel's hair is still damp, it flows down the back of his neck, clinging to him. Our backs are bowed, the tops of our heads are touching and our bodies are almost forming a heart shape. But what makes it so good, so touching, is our hands. Both of his are on my shoulders, his arms bent at the elbows forming a V. Mine are draped over his shoulders, my hands touching his back. And the tears. On the cheeks facing the camera, on both of us, a solitary tear.


There's nothing smutty about this, not at all. It captures, as Teal'c said, our feelings for each other. How through the pain of our pasts we found each other - and how we cling onto each other, never letting go. I give in to my tears, they're falling freely now. Only Teal'c has remained dry-eyed, but I think that even he's close. Daniel and I just hold each other as close as we can. Mom and Sam are joining in the hug now, I think they need it as much as we do.

"Thanks Mom," I say, my voice cracking. "You were right."

She's trying to lighten the atmosphere. "200 copies, guys, at twenty bucks a piece. I'm pretty certain SG-1 is going to win the most money raised. Assuming we sell them all, and given that I've been taking orders I think we will, that's $4,000. You should be proud." We take out the cost of developing, printing and hiring the studio and costumes and we still have over $3,000 to hand to Ferretti. Yeah, we're proud all right.

"What's going on today?" Sam asks.

"There's the karaoke night in the rec room," Mom says. I think we should all go to that one. It could be a laugh and we could do with one. The last few days have been a bit of a strain.

Daniel kisses my cheek and heads off to his office, Carter and Teal'c book and leave me with Mom.

"I have the negatives," she says. "Do you want an enlarged picture of Daniel?"

I just raise my eyebrows - duh?

"Could you do us a copy of December too, it's a work of art Mom, it would be nice to have that framed. You know I love all my kids."

"I'll do it for Christmas as a gift, how about that?"

"Couldn't think of anything better," I reply. She mutters something about Bridie getting February and Patrick getting September. I let it ride. "What about you, Mom?" She 'hum's and 'hah's. "Definitely February, darling, I don't think I could ask for something that describes my two boys more accurately. I'm thinking a copy of December and maybe the individual ones too. You were right about Sam and Teal'c being family. I've already started to think of them as such."

"Don't laugh, Mom, but Teal'c's old enough to be your father." Her eyes pop out of her head. "He's 104 years old. In the prime of Jaffa life."

"But you call him one of your kids."

"Annoys the hell out of him."


Karaoke. Japanese for 'torture'. SG-3 have just sat down after a raucous rendition of 'Fight For Your Right To Party' by some band with a stupid name. I forget. It was fun though. I didn't know we had so many good singers here. The female nurses got together and did 'It's Raining Men' - they were really good. They'll probably be the best of the lot I'm thinking. Paul Davis has come down. Apparently some of the calendar orders were from the Pentagon. Huh, I wonder who put them up to that? Daniel's whispering something to him and they're laughing. They grin at me as they head off towards Tiny. A few words to him and he's laughing too and following them to Jason, the male nurse that Daniel gets on with.

Oh no, the four of them on stage. A couple of words to the compère and the music starts up to screams of laughter from the audience. Abba. 'Gimme, Gimme, Gimme A Man After Midnight.' He's gonna get one, that's for sure. Damn, he's good. I knew he could sing but he's fronting those guys like a pro. I wonder if he's done this before? Something else I obviously didn't know about the love of my life.

Massive applause when they finish. Very popular indeed. Daniel comes straight to me, I stand up and pull him into a hug. Oh fucking great - lots of 'aw' and 'isn't that sweet'. Fuck it. I lay one of my prize-winning kisses on him. We're off duty and he's in those pants. I think we're getting away with it because of the calendar. So many people that I know on the base came to me this afternoon and said pretty much the same thing to me. "I always knew that you two loved each other, that you were close, but that picture - wow - I don't think I've ever met any two people more in love." You could see the magnetism between us in it. I think it affects everyone that sees it. One thing's for sure, no one now thinks that I'm using Daniel as a buddy-fuck or some sort of 'wife'. It was very much a picture of equals.

"And the honour for most money raised goes to SG-1," Hammond announces. Not surprising. We had to do a third print run. After expenses were taken into account we raised $3,945.53. A cheer goes up and Jack is being presented with a certificate. He comes back and sits at the mess hall table that we're all at.

"This second honour was a difficult one; the bravest or wackiest method of raising money," the General says as the noise dies down. "It was between a few groups. For obvious reasons, SG-1 were in the running, but as saving the world, killing System Lords and dealing with the unknown is a day-to-day thing for them, posing nude should have been a piece of cake." He gets some laughs. Huh. I'd rather deal with an army of Jaffa rather than pose nude - that was scary. "The Royal Marines - I must admit that seeing them in French maid outfits along with fishnet stockings as they did a sponsored house cleaning was distinctly disturbing. So, the prize, for sponsored nude skydiving, goes to the Australian Paratroopers." Oh yeah, posing nude is nothing compared to that. They win, I'm not arguing with that. I'll bet their assets were frozen - surprised they didn't drop off.

Their leader collects their certificate to more cheers and claps. Jack was right, the morale at the SGC is sky high now. Ferretti's been called up and is being handed a cheque for over $20,000. Wow. That is really impressive.

"I want to say a huge thank you, guys," he says, "Gina's gonna have a great time with the dolphins. There is way too much money just to send her and her family to Florida, so, when they come back, all of the money that's left is going to go to a charity that organises these trips. You're not just helping her, you're gonna help other kids too. You should be proud." Lou's voice is cracking up a bit. I don't think he had any idea just how much help he was going to get.

"So, what have we learned over the last few weeks?" Jack asks as the four of us sit at the table our house, slowly getting drunk.

"That you can't make anyone love you, but if you stalk them for long enough they may panic and give in," I say. He snorts his JD and reaches out to my shoulder.

"You shouldn't compare yourself to others," says Sam. "They're usually more screwed up than you are."

"Charm lasts about fifteen minutes," says Teal'c. "After that, you need big boobs or a big dick." Ha ha ha ha! Howl! Oh boy, Teal'c knows how to floor people. It's his straight man delivery that does it. Sam's lost it, she's fallen under the table. I join her.

"Angel, we've been here before," I say, "and you didn't run away with me. How about now?"

"Oh darling, I would, but my heart belongs to another now." Her voice is melodramatic, hamming it up like mad.

"But Samantha, my one true love, how will I ever live without you?" It's no good, we can't keep it up and we crack completely.

"I think you two have had enough," Jack says, his head peering under the table.

"I can see right up your nose," I say as he drags me out. He's trying not to laugh and failing.

"You two, are you going to stay?" he asks.

"I will take Samantha home," Teal'c says. He's getting better at calling us by our names away from the base, not often but he does do it. He takes her car keys, thanks us for the night and bundles the protesting minx out of the door.

"My one true love?" Jack asks. He's looking almost caveman like. WOO HOO! Gonna have some fun.

"Well, I haven't been swept off my feet in a while," I reply, licking my lips at him. Oh boy, I'm gonna get it.

He's picked me up and thrown me over his shoulder. NeanderJack strikes again! YEE HA! I LOVE this. Flat on my back, he's ripping my clothes off. Come to poppa, baby. Hoo boy, his eyes are black. I am going to get SO well laid tonight. I want this, no foreplay, no mucking about, just straight to the main event. He's got just enough control to prepare me before -OH YES! I don't think I'm gonna need to do the usual harder, faster malarkey. Actually, thinking is low on my list of priorities. Oh. My. God. I didn't know you could do THAT! Oh boy, I'm gonna... J.J.JA-ACK!

"Oh God Danny, Danny, did I hurt you?"

I manage to shake my head. It's gonna be a while before my synapses get a chance to rewire my speech centre. Shit - best ever. I'm seeing stars. It's as much as I can do to put my hands out to him. We're sweating, feel like I've been in a sauna.


"You okay, Danny?"

"Y.y.yes. Wow. That was, um, wow."

He's giggling - git - thinks it's funny to reduce a linguist to a babbling monosyllabic wreck. I'll get him. I can turn an assassin into a marshmallow when I want to.

"Love, love you," I finally get out. He's nuzzling me now, yeah, he loves me too.

"Answer me this, Daniel," John McWilliams is talking as we sit drinking coffee in the commissary. "Any idiot can see that you and Jack are nuts about each other. I have no idea why you'd saddle yourself with an old crock like him, but there's no accounting for taste."

"True," I say as Jack clips us both up the head muttering 'frigging cheek' as he does.

"What I want to know is what's so good about living with a guy. I mean, you two, you were both married. I'm married. I love my missus. You have to make some compromises, but having someone there to do the feminine stuff, you know, it's nice."

"That's what moms are for," Jack laughs.

"I know what you're getting at. There are advantages to both, John. When I get home late, I don't have to explain myself. He doesn't automatically think I'm seeing someone else if I've been drinking with the marines. If I want to roll over and go straight to sleep I can. I can leave the toilet seat up. Don't have to apologise when I fart. Stuff like that. It's not perfect, but it's easier. No explanations are necessary. Guy stuff."

"I get it, I think. Do you fight?" We crack up. We had a doozy not so long back over something so stupid neither of us can remember what it was. Making up was fun.

"Yes! All the time. We disagree on tons of stuff. The thing is we don't have to hold back. When Shau're and I argued she could turn on the tears so easily - I was toast - absolutely fucked. Didn't stand a chance."

"Sara was the same. There was always that point in the argument that no matter how right I was, I knew I was going to have to give in. She'd turn on the waterworks and I'd crumble. If Daniel does that I think he's sickening for something."

"Me? What about you?"

He's muttering some more, 'don't get no respect' or something.

These last couple of days people have been happier for us than ever before. It must be the picture. I think Mom could win an award with that. Being in black and white made it even better. Jack and I have laughed a lot. So why am I feeling disturbed today?

Oh fuck, we've been called to the briefing room. Jacob's there. This is going to be bad, I just know it.

"Thank you for coming," the General starts, "Jacob has some disturbing news." See? I knew it. He hands the floor to Jacob, we're all quiet, waiting for the bad news.

"The good news is our attack worked. Anubis is dead. Unfortunately, Zipnaca has lost the plot. He was on a different ship. He still thinks that Ra did this, so there's hope that he won't come directly to Earth. The Tok'ra have scattered. We don't have a home world at the moment, it's too dangerous. He's taken over Anubis' fleet. As he isn't bound by the agreement made at the conference he's been attacking the other System Lords, gaining territory and troops. We have to stop him and stop him fast."

"Can't we do what we did before? Blow up a sun and take out the fleet?" Jack asks.

"It wouldn't work, not this time Jack. He's splitting up his fleet between various systems. We could take out a part of it, but the rest would still be there."

"How about more of the toxin?"

"We don't have the facilities anymore," Jacob says with a sigh. "We had to abandon a lot of stuff in the diaspora."

"How about an alliance?" I suggest and they all look at me. "Look, I know that Yu is gonna be pissed with me, but he has always been the most reasonable of the Goa'uld. If I could get to him, talk to him, I might be able to persuade him to enter into a temporary alliance with us to take out Zippy. I'll give credit where it's due, he treated me well when he thought I was Jarren. He was quite respectful. He was also the easiest Goa'uld when they came here. And, despite what he did to Teal'c and the Jaffa resistance, he did send him back, he didn't brainwash him or turn him into a living bomb or anything. He could be our best hope."

Well, that went down well - not. Mutters and mumbles. Okay, not one of my better ideas. Hammond says, "I must admit to having reservations about that, Dr. Jackson, but if we can't come up with a better idea, we may have to go for it."

More ideas are bandied around, but unfortunately nobody has a better one than mine. Shit. I don't really want to do this.

Why? I mean just why do I let myself do these things? I must be nuts. Somehow, Selmac arranged a meeting between me and Yu under a flag of truce. On HIS home world. Just how stupid am I? And it's me - solo - on my ownsome - alone. Oh fuck. I'm scared, shit scared, but it had to be this way. There was no way any Tok'ra could come. Sam for the same reason. If she got taken - brrr, it doesn't bear thinking about. Teal'c - no way. Taking the most famous shol'va there would have been the proverbial red rag. And Jack. Just 'no'. No way was I taking him. I'm bad enough at snake-baiting, but him? Oy. We'd have been at war by nightfall. So it's just me and I'm trying to act calm as I head off into the lion's den, yet again. I told Jack that I wanted him on standby to get me out if necessary. He's currently in the cloaked Rascal in orbit. They dropped me off on the nearest planet and I had to wait for the signal that they'd arrived in orbit before I dialled up and went through. So far, so good, I haven't been roughed up or anything.

We sent Teal'c and Sam to talk to Thor. We have sufficient evidence that Zippy is going to hit Earth. Hopefully that'll help get the Asgard to pull their fingers out and come and reduce the fleet somewhat.

"Daniel Jackson. I didn't expect to see you again so soon."

"Hello Yu. I must admit, I didn't particularly want to see you either. However, circumstances have brought me here. Will you hear me out?"

"I will." Say what you like about Yu, he's curious and can be reasonable. He doesn't go in for all the posturing that some of the others do. Let's strike home and see what happens.

"Zipnaca has taken over Anubis' fleet. He is the one responsible for attacking yours." He says nothing, waiting for me to say more.

"He will continue until he is dealt with. He is much better armed than you are. I am suggesting that you and the other System Lords get together in the alliance that was originally suggested, but this time working with the Tauri against him. What do you say?"

He says nothing for a moment then asks, "What could the Tauri possibly offer an alliance of System Lords?"

"We have our resources," I say, not wanting to play my hand yet. "Bear in mind we are the ones responsible for the deaths of Apophis, Cronus, Hathor, etc.," I wave my hand in a dismissive manner.

"Ra is alive, apparently," he says, waiting to see my reaction.

"Oh? Is he?" I try not to show any emotion. "That would be clever," I say, "especially as we blew him up. Ah well, have to add another one to our 'to kill' list I suppose."

"I understand that he had you captive as he took Osiris from Anubis' protection."

"Did he? That would be difficult, as I'm standing here now, I doubt he'd have let me go - what with killing him before and all. I heard about Anubis' demise but I wasn't there."

"I have someone here that would dispute this." Oh FUCK! A curtain is drawn and Zippy steps out. Shi-it! Don't like this, don't like this at all.

"You were the bait," Zippy says. "You were seen on screen. My Lord Anubis allowed the transmission to be relayed to my ship."

"Must have been someone who looked like me," I say. "Ever heard of plastic surgery?"

"You were there!" he insists. "Have you nothing to say?"

"You'll have to excuse me, I'm having a blond moment." Think Daniel, think.

"We have ways of extracting information."

I sigh, "No, no, no, it's 've haf vays ov making you talk!' Put it any other way and it just doesn't have the same effect." I look at my fingernails. Oops, I really shouldn't bite them.


"Shouting at me won't help, you know. I can't tell you what I don't know. Now, I'm busy. Would you mind awfully if I ignored you at a later date?"

Hee hee, he's stamping his feet. I'm half-expecting him to call for his mummy.

"My, my, the worm has turned. Yu, please tell me you have got him here so that you can put him out of my misery? Huh? Pretty please?" I think that Yu is slightly amused, I also think that I've figured out what's going on and if I am right, Earth is in deep, deep, shit.

"Not yet," he says calmly. "He amuses me."

"I can tell. However, depriving his village of its idiot is a touch cruel, don't you think?"

Zippy speaks, "You are not like other Tauri, Jackson, I was going to kill you but I think I have changed my mind."

"You had one to start with?"

That's it. When I get home I'm telling Jack it's over. I have spent FAR too much time with him. His sarcasm is infectious and it gets me into trouble. Ouch. Put me down you great oaf.

"Yu, I came here under a flag of truce. If you ignore it and allow me to be taken captive, all bets are off and you will end up a dead snake."

"Only if your friends find out," he says carefully.

"Oh, they will. And they will know you are behind it, even if you allow Zippy here to take me away."

"What will they do?"

"That, my dear cobra, would be telling. You don't honestly expect me to talk, do you?"

He calls over one of his Jaffa and pulls out a mature symbiote. "I do, Daniel Jackson, I do."

"That won't help," I say as calmly as I can. "I have the means to kill myself if you were to do that. Besides, even if I couldn't, my friends are under strict instructions to do the job for me. And before you think otherwise, I am not afraid to die. I haven't been bothered before when it has happened."

He considers this for a moment and puts the snake back - for now.

"I doubt you would make a good wife anyway," he jokes. Phew, I am not telling him I'm gay. No way.

"So? Where does this leave us? Are you going to attach yourself to Zippy? Or are you going to be sensible and join us, call an alliance and take the moron out?"

Zippy's spitting feathers. He's yelling at me, trying to insult me. He's awful at it. I am SO much better.

"Zippy, sit down before you strain your brain. And don't open your mouth until you have something intelligent to say. I can wait all day for it, you know."

"You will not speak to your Lord like this." It's all I can do not to laugh. I look at Yu, he's looking anywhere but at me.

"I wouldn't speak to my Lord like this, but as I'm a card carrying agnostic I think you'll find I'm not. You are nothing but a parasitical life-form which doesn't even have self-awareness unless it takes over the body of another being which is self-aware. So go away. I'm not being rude, you are just insignificant."

More insults, he's screaming at me now. I've had enough. This stops and it stops now.

"Listen to me you self-serving, flea-bitten, brain-dead, dog-breathed, pizza-faced, ill-bred, rug-headed hamster - I have had about as much of you as I am going to take. Try to get this through your thick skull. You are being used. As soon as you have done his dirty work, Yu is going to have you for breakfast. You cannot even begin to comprehend the magnitude of your ineptitude. I'm obviously getting nowhere here, I think now would be a good time for me to leave." Got it guys? I know you are listening in. You'd better be, it took ages to wire me unobtrusively. Now? Please? Pretty please? I'll beg if I have to.

Ok-ay, I think I'm on my own here. Thanks Jack. So much for always being there for me. I turn and start to walk to the door.

"I do not think it is time for you to leave, just yet, Daniel," Yu says quietly. Too fucking quietly.

"Why not? You are obviously in it up to your neck with the Zipper over there, Yu. You do know he'll betray you as soon as look at you, don't you?"

"I do." Oh. Didn't really expect that. Zippy's gone very quiet. I think he knows the game's up. This might work to our advantage yet.

"So, if you are not interested in an alliance, I may as well just go."

"But if I let you go, you will pass on the knowledge you have learned."

"How about I promise not to?" I try the fluttering eyelashes on him. Nah, it didn't work on Aris Boch either.

"You do not expect me to answer that one, do you?"

"Not really," I sigh. Oh fuck, ohfuckohfuckohFUCK! What am I going to do now? "You don't really want to join up with the worm, do you? You do know that you could form more advantageous alliances." If I keep him talking he can't be killing me, can he?

"I do, but he has the fleet that I want."

"True, but it won't be much use without the Jaffa to man the ships. We can remove all of them before you use them. Remember the conference? I was meant to kill you all. I changed my plans when Osiris turned up, I had far too much to learn first. It was most informative," I say.

"And just how were you meant to kill the System Lords?" Yu laughs as he asks, though I think he believes me.

"You don't expect me to answer that one do you?" I throw his question back at him and he laughs out loud. "Suffice it to say I considered it to my advantage to keep you alive. I could have killed you all, I didn't. Remember that. I don't however, have any qualms about killing maggot boy here. Give me a zat and I'll prove it." And finish the job I started while I'm at it.

I know he's not going to give me a zat, but I think that he's warming to me.

I really, really want to go n...

...ow. Damn, that always catches me unawares.

"Hi Thor, and thanks pal. Can you beam me over to the Rascal, please? I've got important news." Another flash of light and we're both on the ship and before I know what's hit me I'm wrapped up in Jack's arms and being kissed senseless.

"Sorry we're late, buddy, Thor was caught up in something. You had me scared there. MUST you bait the snakes?"

"It kept me alive," I say with a shrug.

"Thor, have you learned enough?" I ask after telling him what I've learned.

"I have," he says and disappears. Given that Yu now knows that we have the Asgard on board, one of two things is going to happen. He's either going to distance himself from Zippy or he's going to kill him and attack Earth now. He's smart, I'm going for the distance thing myself. Thor's ship disappears from our screens. We have no idea what he's up to, but no doubt he's going to help. He's probably going back to the home world to round up support. He knows how important this is, I don't think he's going to let us down. All we can do is go home and wait.

We're hardly the conquering heroes as we walk through the gate this time. Straight to the debrief, and we pass on the news. All leave is cancelled for the time being. We don't know, we just don't know what's going to happen. Hammond's happy that the Asgard seem to be on our side and willing to help. We're going to send some troops out to the Rascal to meet up with a Tok'ra that can fly it. They're going to go and hide the ship on the far side of Mars. If it comes to a firefight in our Solar System, at least we'll have a fighting chance. Teal'c has spent his spare time in the last few months training the pilots here to fly the gliders. All pilots are going. Me included. Daniel's insisting on coming with us. He can fly the Rascal too, so he has a reason to be there. I'm not arguing with him. It would be pointless.

We get sent home for the night, to rest, eat and recover before shipping out tomorrow morning. As the news is circulating the carefully built up morale at the SGC is plummeting to rock bottom. The one bit of good news is that Ferretti's sister has already taken her kids, all of them, to Florida and they got a giggle out of Gina. It's the first time she's laughed since the accident. That news is spreading faster than a virus. It's helping. It really is.

Daniel and I go out to dinner, neither of us wants to cook. It's nice, we can talk, share a candlelit dinner, not have to worry about appearances. Then straight home to bed. I don't think we're going to sleep much tonight. We both know that things may happen, that we may not come home. We take it in turns to do what we want, making love to each other gently, passionately. I'll admit to a few tears. I'm scared. I think that this one could be it.