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Alpha Males

Summary: The team have a lot of organising to do for the new site. This is the first of the new series, set after Coming Out, Out and About and Settled Down in that order. Don't read till you've read them, it won't make sense. Usual sex and language warnings apply.

I have no idea how we are going to pull this off. Six months. Six fucking months is all they've given us. Not to get the satellites built and up, thank God, but to get the accommodations sorted at the new site. Accommodations for us, the military, the civilians, the labs, the storerooms, the offices - every-freaking-thing. I know that SG-1 was renowned for pulling rabbits out of hats - even when the hats didn't exist - but this is ridiculous. It was decided after extensive geological surveys that a range of mountains about fifty miles from the original gate site would be a better place to hide out. Okay, I can live with this (though I am a tad concerned with this mountain obsession the powers that be seem to have), but we have to get a chamber built, excavated - whatever - first so that we can move the gate there so we can take stuff there so we can excavate more holes so we can store more stuff... *gasp*... and so on, and so on, and so on. We've got five months left.

Daniel's been pulling his hair out. His is the biggest department in that it covers a greater range of disciplines and has more staff, especially civilians. He doesn't get paid enough. Carter's got physics (in all its many guises), maths and engineering. Doc Frasier's got biochem, which covers medicine, biology (human and otherwise), botany, microbiology, chemistry and God only knows what else. I know exactly what Daniel's got - I hear about it endlessly. Anthropology which covers anything to do with humans; so archaeology, history (it is not the same apparently), linguistics, musicology, palaeontology in all its guises (with the palaeogeography, palaeobiology, palaeobotany, yadda, yadda), and for some reason the geographical department which covers the cartographical and the geological departments and then every other department which doesn't fit nicely into Carter's or Frasier's neat and tidy worlds.

We have had many, many, many hours of planning discussions with the Tok'ra. Let's see what we've come up with. They don't want to live with us. Which is fine by us. They also don't understand the human obsession with DOORS for cryin' out loud. Jacob's gone even balder trying to mediate and Daniel's starting to go grey. It had to happen one day. We've come to the conclusion that installing transport rings is much more sensible than elevators. They're also quicker. However, that means we have to come up with a way for those of us who are not Tok'ra or Jaffa (which is most of us) to find the fucking things.

"How about we paint a circle on the floor?" I ask.

Dumb looks from the others. Then slow nods. Okay - finally! That's sorted.

We've decided on the design of the place. The mountain that we're basing ourselves in is as wide as it's high (and it's HIGH, sorta like Everest on steroids), so space is not a problem. We're not even going too far under 'ground-level' - which, for convenience, is what we call the level of the ground outside the mountain - apart from one or two labs which Carter has just said she wants about a mile down, for safety's sake. Oh my God. Just what in hell's name is she planning now? I don't want to know. I really don't want to know. I know that if I ask I'm gonna regret it. Oh yeah, I'm gonna regret it.

"Safety's sake?" Why the fuck doesn't my mouth listen to my head?

"Yes, Sir, like the ones we have underneath Cheyenne, Sir. Just in case."

"Just in case." No, I am not going any further with that.

"Colonel Carter," I bark in my best general's voice (tee hee, I love being a general). "Please, whatever you do, don't blow up the mountain. I know you have an obsession with reactors but I really don't want to have to explain to the JCS why their pet project went up in smoke."

"No, Sir," she's grinning at me. Witch. I'll get her later.

Anyway, the design. The gate room is going to be central. From there the four sections will spread out along the main cardinal compass points. Military personnel and anything to do with controlling the place lives north. Anthropology is south - we figured that keeping the department with the most civilians in it furthest away from the military would be sensible. Biochem gets east and physics gets west. This way, anyone who gets lost just needs a compass. We're going with the planet's magnetic field and not paying any attention to visual clues because this is an alien world and shit like that doesn't work the same way there. Besides, visual clues just don't work underground.

We're not going to have miles of corridors either. Just about forty or so rooms per section on each floor. That way we can get from one place to another much quicker. It's starting to make sense. Not sure how we're going to choose which floor you come out of in the transport rings but I'm sure it will be explained. I hope. I'm insisting on stairways between each floor in each section too; a safety measure as well as an excuse not to use the rings all the time. Daniel's had blueprints drawn up by some architectural guy in his department (oh yeah, that's another subdepartment, I'm always forgetting some of them) and we're poring over them, trying to figure out who's going where.

Living quarters and eating, showering, gymnasium and rec. rooms will all be above the work areas. Just in case some snake decides to take out the mountain from the top we'll have the gate and other stuff protected for longer. We can sleep on the floor if necessary. It's coming together. Please God, let it come together.

"Jack, the Tok'ra are ready to start using the crystals to make the first shafts," Jacob says, bringing me back to the discussion with a jolt.

We're going to need air shafts and air conditioning systems, not to mention power, water and sewerage systems. It has taken a month of intense negotiations to get the budgetary approval from all the countries involved in the project. Fortunately, as we won't have any digging or mining costs like they had when they built this place, the costs aren't as bad as they could have been. I hate budget meetings with a vengeance. The good news is that Josh is now the main man where finances are concerned. If he says 'no' I set Daniel on him. And if that doesn't work, I set Daniel on Paul and Danny sets Paul on him. Sorted. After all just the computer upgrade at NORAD came in eight years late and nearly $800,000,000 over budget (on top of the eye-popping figures that they thought it would cost to start with), so how they can complain about a couple of million I don't know. And that's really all the building is going to cost because there's going to be no outside contractors. A measly freaking handful of millions. I'm just glad it's not coming out of my pay packet. Running costs shouldn't be too bad either. The Tok'ra are going to provide us with a permanent power supply which won't cost us a bean in electricity bills.

Of course, we won't have the outside phone lines either so no phone bills. (You really don't want to pay the ones at Cheyenne - especially when Carter and Daniel have been trawling the Internet for days on end. I've seen the phone bill.)

I think it's time to get to the site. I feel an official visit coming on. I LOVE being the general.

I'm not sure if Jack's thanking me for my idea or counting the ways that he knows how to kill me. He doesn't even need to find somewhere to hide my body. I've been twitching every time I see him with a zat. We are shattered, physically and mentally. The last month has been a blur of meetings upon meetings. Some in Washington, some here in Colorado and others on Alpha itself. Finally - FINALLY - we're heading through the gate to start the excavating. Jacob's already gone through and put his cargo ship by the gate, ready to take us to the mountain where we're going to build, um, dig, er, mine - whatever. First ground is about to be broken. Josh is coming with, as is the liaison from each nation, all of them going through the gate for the first time.

Jack, Sam, Teal'c and I are back in our SG-1 uniforms. It was decided that we'd keep the designation, keep the team together. We won't be doing any more exploring but our talents, both individually and as a finely-tuned team make it impossible for us to completely retire. Undoubtedly there will be times when we're needed, even if it's for diplomatic negotiations. We're okay with this. Relieved to tell the truth. None of us really wanted to stop for good. It's good to be back like this, great to see Sam in her lieutenant colonel's kit, and wonderful to see Jack in his general's uniform. He looks good. Then again, he always does.

Jan's coming too. Mom's staying with Cassie till she gets back. Paul's coming as well, despite his protests. All of the liaisons are waiting for us in the gate room and the four of us walk in together. It's the first time the four of us have been through together since we 'retired' from the field. It's strange but good.

Hammond's here to see us off.

"SG-1," he says, his best paternal face on as the wormhole engages. He speaks softly. "You have a go."

Sam and Jack exchange salutes with him. It's right, it feels so right now. We look to Josh and the others.

"Are you ready?" Jack asks. Nervous nods are given in return. Only Jan looks completely calm, though Paul's doing a pretty good impression of cool. Not as cool as you're going to be when we get to the other side, dear heart.

The four of us head up the ramp first and together we walk through, not missing a beat.

We wait for the others to come through. Paul's first. Though he's been through a number of times he still gets that 'I'm a popsicle' look. He warms up quicker now though.

Josh is next. Even though he's a fighter pilot by training, he's looking pretty green.

"You okay, Josh?" Jack asks, getting a waved hand in return. He will be.

General Grechko, the Russian liaison comes through with General Le Fevre of Canada, followed by Air Commodore Osborne and Generals McLaughlin and Dewer from the UK, New Zealand and Australia respectively. Ten out of ten Daniel, you remembered them all. Each and every one looks frozen solid.

"Don't worry, Sirs," Sam says, "you'll warm up pretty quickly. It takes about a dozen trips through before your molecules adapt to the dematerialization and rematerialization processes."

Ya know, I'll bet anything they didn't want the molecule speech.

"How many times have you done this?" Osborne asks her.

"Oh, um, over 300, Sir, we sort of lost count after that. Of course, what with the return trip that would be over 600, though not every trip was a double given that sometimes we came back by ship and..."

"Thank you Carter," Jack growls. Don't want the dignitaries feeling worse than they were. "Jake, is the teltac ready?"

"At your service, Jack," Jacob grins.

"If you'll follow me then, please?" Jack asks the others and we all get on board. You can feel the excitement from the gate virgins, their minds are screaming 'I'm on an alien world, in an alien spaceship - WITH ALIENS!'. Or something like that.

Daniel, how are you adjusting to life back at the base?

"I'm fine, Selmac, thanks. Mind, I haven't had time to sit, let alone think about it. I thought I was busy when we were in the field. It's nothing compared to organising this."

I notice that the visitors have gone quiet. Ah. Even though they know about Selmac they've never 'met'. It was felt that Jacob would stand a better chance of putting the Tok'ra's position than she would. Okay, well, they'll have to get used to it. Qabil/Kadim's driving. He yells in Abydonian, Daniel, do you want to fly us there?

"No thanks," I reply, also in Abydonian. What the fuck, I've had it up to here with being diplomatic. "You can have the pleasure. How's things with you both?"

We exchange pleasantries for a while and then Kadim cuts in with a particularly ribald joke, making me glad we're not speaking in English. The looks I'm getting as I laugh my ass off are to die for. I probably will; Jack looks like he wants to kill me.

We're there. I like alien ships, it's not like flying. And it's quick.

Everyone follows us out of the ship, and we head to where it has been decided that we'll stick the first crystal. The idea is that we do the same as at Cheyenne and create a tunnel which goes in one side and out the other, allowing a continuous flow of air through. It will be at ground level and then we'll work up and down from there.

"Daniel, would you like to do the honours, seeing as this is your idea?" Josh is asking.

"I'd be honoured," I say.

Jacob gives me a crystal, tells me where to put it - so I do.

No matter how many times I see this I'm always awed by the beauty of Tok'ra tunnels. The engineering of these crystals is amazing. Judging by the gasps of shock from the guests, ranging from a 'wow' to a 'bugger me!' (no, it wasn't the Aussie either. It was the Brit), I'd say that the awe isn't limited to me.

The crystal can't complete the tunnel, we'll need quite a few to do that, but it's gone a fair way in. Kadim's handing crystals out, and we're walking further and further down, watching as each liaison gets to stick an alien crystal in the rock and create their own bit of tunnel.

"Nice touch, Jake," Jack says as he looks at the stunned and happy faces.

"It was Selmac's idea," Jake replies.

Jack laughs and tips his hat to her. She's very fond of him for some reason - I have no idea why.

"How does it feel to see your idea coming to life in front of you, Daniel?" Paul's asking.

"Exciting. It seems so much more real now."

He smiles at me and squeezes my arm. I still can't believe that this is actually happening. We've decided that this site, because of the Alpha designation, will be known as the SGA (Stargate Alpha, of course). It's happening. It's really, really happening.

Daniel's looking like a kid at Christmas. I'd go and kiss him but I don't think I'd get away with that, somehow. While the liaisons are twittering about the place I'm arranging with Teal'c to get the Rascal moved over. This site is perfect. We're in a mountain range, but on one side of the mountain is a flat area which doesn't even undulate by one degree for miles. It's a perfect parking place for the ships. On the other side of the mountain is a river with pure water, giving us a source for our drinking and washing water. We've decided on an 'organic' waste disposal system - didn't know it could be otherwise - which is going to turn all waste into fertiliser for the crops that are going to be grown not too far from the gate's current position.

Hopefully in a year or two, we'll be almost self-sufficient, cutting down running costs significantly. This was one of Daniel's other ideas. As soon as we can we're going to supply everything ourselves here so we're not going to be dependent on Earth. This was one of the reasons we got the funding so quickly. It wasn't going to cost too much and it wouldn't be an ongoing burden. Daniel's quiet reasoning was that if the worst happened and we got cut off from Earth for whatever reason... well, we need to be self-sufficient or we'll fail too. There's no real reason it shouldn't work. The upshot of his idea is that we're going to become Earth's first independent colony.

Obviously, we're still going to work hand in glove with the SGC, no question. We all have a vested interest in protecting Earth. In a few generations' time though, it could become an interesting debate.

Teal'c and Kadim have already disappeared to get the Rascal. This is gonna be fun. When the liaisons see the mother ship for the first time it will help them put into perspective the threat to Earth from alien species. And Ra's ship is a big bastard - none of the other Goa'uld had one as big. The Scamp (the name we finally settled on, after many drunken hours of debate, for the other ship we have from Anubis) is only about three quarters the size. They didn't see them when they first arrived because they're parked a couple of miles away from the gate and on the other side of a hill. We put them there just in case we get a snake attack through the gate before we're settled. Jaffa arrive, we book and get them and... SURPRISE!

We're all making our way back out now, it will take a while. We've tunnelled about a mile into the mountain in a matter or minutes. Given that this rock is more solid than granite I have no idea how long it would have taken us to do this the conventional way. Months, I'm sure.

"General O'Neill," one of the liaisons is calling. "You must be very pleased that this is working. The alliance seems to be coming together nicely."

"Yes, it is. When the Tok'ra and Tauri work together, we're pretty hot."

"I was under the impression that you didn't much like the Tok'ra, General," he says warily.

"That was the case. Look, when we first met I didn't trust them and they didn't trust us. It's taken us years to get to this state. Selmac and I get on very well, I like Qabil too. Some of the others leave a lot to be desired. Pretty much like humans. I don't like everyone I work with, but I try to get on with them, the same way that I try to get on with the Tok'ra. Relations have improved a lot between the two camps, especially since Selmac has taken over as the head. She's okay - got a wicked sense of humour, and she understands the Tauri much better than the others."

"Why do you call us the Tauri? I understand that is a Goa'uld expression."

"Simplicity. When we need to tell other aliens where we're from, the name 'Earth' means nothing. The Tauri are a legend among the dispersed humans and to meet us in person can go a long way to getting them on our side. Besides, Earthling is a pretty dumb name and Terran, well, I just don't like it. We've gotten used to it now."

"Fair enough, I suppose. What's going on now?"

"Well, General, if you'll come with me, we've got a little something to show you all."

The whole troupe are following me out of the tunnel. Daniel and the girls are laughing about something or other with Jacob, or rather Selmac. It's at times like this that I realise just how weird our job really is. Oh yes, talk about timing. I couldn't have arranged this better if I'd set my watch for it all. As we emerge from the tunnel, the Rascal is coming in to land. Open mouths abound.

"Is that one of ours?" the Russian General calls hopefully.

"Oh yes. She's the Rascal, our first baby. Do you want to go inside her?"

Dumb nods and we stroll over to her. The liaisons are silent. Josh and Paul are too. Then, as they're getting used to the idea of a spaceship the size of a city block, they start chattering among themselves.

"Jack?" It's Josh.


"How do you get used to this sort of thing? I mean, here we are, alien planet, alien friends, spaceships, general weird shit and you don't blink."

"I've been at it a long time, Josh. When I first came across all of this I was still numb from Charlie's death. I guess it didn't make the same impact on me that it would have done now. And the more strange things we meet, the more we get used to it. You'd be surprised how many times we got back from missions and complained they were boring. Not because we hadn't been shot at, we always appreciated that, but because we hadn't discovered anything odd. Believe me, this can become commonplace."

He shakes his head, pats me on the shoulder and then I lead them all into the ship.

We head up to the bridge and meet Kadim and Teal'c there. Daniel's got a glint in his eye.

"Danny? What are you thinking now?"

"I was wondering if our guests would like to go..." he points up and grins.

"Might be a good idea. Gentlemen, would you like to see what the planet looks like from space?"

More dumb nods and Daniel takes over the controls. I don't care how much he complains about piloting these things, ('I'm a freaking archaeologist, not a freaking pilot') he loves it. One of the liaisons is a little surprised.

"Dr. Jackson? You can pilot one of these?"

"Um, yes, Sir. It's easy. You just have to know how to read Goa'uld. Simple really."

The liaisons look at the control panel and the display that Daniel has pulled up on the screen. In Goa'uld. Simple, huh? He looks back at me and I catch a glimpse of his wicked eyes. Love that man.

We're in orbit in a matter of minutes and Daniel points out a few things to them. I'm guessing this trip is going to help us in the future. They're having the time of their lives here. He's trying to explain some stuff, pointing out what we're doing and why. They've heard it all in meetings on Earth, but they're getting a much better idea of the sheer scale of our final plans.

"We haven't had time to do an extensive survey of the entire planet yet, but when we start getting things in hand we're planning to come up here with scientific equipment and scan the place so we can check out the climates, etc. If we can get our hands on some more teltacs, um, cargo ships like the one you first went in, we can then transport people around much quicker. The idea is that we set up settlements all over the planet, partially to do scientific work and partially to farm."

"That sounds interesting, Dr. Jackson, but why?"

"The point of Alpha site is that it's a home away from home, basically mirroring life on Earth, so if the worst happens and either Earth is attacked by aliens or some natural or man-made disaster strikes, Tauri life will go on. Hedging our bets so to speak. Alpha was in Ra's territory, but as it has no resources like naquada, the other Goa'uld have left it alone. Maybe they'll come, maybe they won't. Hopefully we'll have our planetary defence system up and running by then."

"Will you not have this ship?"

"It maybe out of the system fighting somewhere else at the time. We just don't know what's going to happen. So, we need to be prepared. You have no idea just how close Earth has come to disaster over the years, General. When they make jokes about us saving the planet, they're really not kidding."

They've gone a little quiet at that, comprehension building at just what one of these ships can do. Daniel's gotten a look on his face.

"Danny? What's up?"

"We've got company."

I had to talk about defending this system, didn't I? Me and my big fucking mouth. There's a ha'tak coming and it's not one of the Tok'ra's unless they've got a new one without telling us. I look to Jacob and he shakes his head. It's not one of theirs then. Fortunately, I habitually cloak the Rascal the second I power up. I have no idea why I do that, I just do.

"Selmac, what do you think?" I ask.

I'd say it's a Goa'uld ship on a survey mission, testing boundaries, that sort of thing.

"How about we go and tell them to go away?" Jack suggests.

"Okay, but I think we should find out who it is first," I reply. It would be good to know just who's out and about.

Jack asks the liaisons if they want to come with us, they say they will. They were all active servicemen at one time and are aware of the dangers we face. So, we're going to play this carefully, because no matter how much these guys accept the risks, and I have no doubts regarding their bravery or sincerity about the matter, we've really got to get them home in one piece. I take the Rascal to just in front of where the other ship has stopped. Jacob takes over the control and speaks in Goa'uld.

Who are you?

Silence at first but then we get the reply.

I am Epimetheus. Who are you?

Oh boy - the one who in some legends opened Pandora's box. We owe this one big time. I look to Jacob, he doesn't know the association so I quickly tell him.

"Revenge?" he asks with a grin.

What the fuck? It's only a snake.

Nemesis, Selmac replies. I wonder if there is a snake called Nemesis? Who cares?

I've just decloaked and we've opened fire. We're taking a couple of hits but nothing's getting through our shields. The ha'tak in front of us is small and pretty insignificant compared to ours. Oops. It's gone.

"Well, that's the end of that one," I say and take us back to Alpha.

The liaisons are pretty stunned. Jack turns and says,

"Gentlemen, you've seen the power of this ship against another alien craft which has shields and similar weapons. Perhaps you now see why we've been stressing the importance of this project, in fact the whole SGC. Earth weapons would have failed against us even quicker. Even if we hadn't dug up and opened the gate there was no guarantee that they wouldn't come and take over Earth. At least now that we're out here, doing what we do, we stand a far better chance of stopping it ever happening."

We're back on Alpha, strolling to the gate. The liaisons are buzzing with talk about what just happened. Coming to think of it, I'm glad it happened, it's given them a face-to-face encounter with what's out there, even if it was over in a matter of minutes.

"So, General O'Neill, just who was that we fought?" one of them is asking.

"Epimetheus," he replies.

I'm about to add some information about him when he says, "Epimetheus was a Titan, like Cronus, but he was thought to be the stupid one. His name actually means 'afterthought'. He was the son of Iapetus, who was also the father of Prometheus, Atlas and Meneotius. In some versions of the story he is commanded by Zeus, along with Prometheus, to create mankind. Zeus, who was the chief Olympian, and one of Cronus' kids, made Pandora and created the box with which she was made famous. This was in retaliation for Prometheus tricking Zeus by only putting bones out for sacrifice and eating the meat and getting the humans to do the same. Zeus punished the people of Earth by removing the gift of fire but Prometheus, who was really a friend of the humans, stole fire and gave it back. So Zeus got Hephaestus, the smith to the gods, to create a woman from clay. This turns out to be Pandora. Anyway, to punish the humans for accepting the fire he sends her to Epimetheus with a jar, also known as the box, and despite his brother's warnings he opens it, releasing all the nasties like disease and war on the planet. She managed to shut it in time to keep hope."

I'm going to fucking kill him. Myths and fucking fairy tales. That's what I hear, day and night.

"That's right, isn't it, Daniel?" he's asking, trying to look all innocent. I'm really going to kill him.

The look on Daniel's face is to die for. Teal'c, Carter and the Doc are laughing their asses off. Danny's opening and closing his mouth but nothing's coming out. I am so going to get it in the neck when we get home. He forces out a 'yes', but it's pretty squeaky. I am so dead.

Thank God, we're nearly at the gate.

"Jack," he hisses. "You bastard. Myths and fairy tales, eh? You always shut me up when I tell you stuff like that."

"I read the classics at school, Daniel. I already knew about that. Besides, when Kinsey was prattling on about Pandora's box that time, I looked it up and reread it."

"That was years ago."

"So it was."

I'm trying my own version of the sweet and innocent look, but the look I'm getting back says it's not working. It's also saying that if I carry on playing him like this I am going to either die or get so well laid I'm not going to be able to walk for a week. WOO HOO! Bring it on, book boy. This ass might be old but it's not too saggy. And it's willing; very, very, willing. I don't think I've seen his eyes this dark in ages, possibly ever. Whoo momma, I want to go home.

He's stomped off and he's dialling up and sending the code, he's not even looking back to see if I'm following him as he goes through the gate.

"Jack? You took a bit longer than expected. Is everything all right?"

George is looking a tad concerned as we emerge from the gate, the liaisons frozen and still chattering about what happened.

"Oh, you know, we went, we saw, we took out a snake. Same old same old," I wave my hand as nonchalantly as I can. By the look on George's face now though I can feel a debrief coming on.

"I thought you lot had given that sort of thing up, Jack," he says with a laugh.

"So did I George, so did I."

One good thing that has come from all this toing and froing with Alpha is that unless someone gets hurt there's no need for a check-up. My ass is safe. I think that Napoleon decided that she didn't like getting a needle in the butt every day. Suits me fine.

Daniel's still cross with me though.

Home at last. George wanted all the details about the threat to Alpha and the liaisons were singing Daniel's praises. I'm a bit concerned. Even though he's used to it he hates going into battle.

"Danny? Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm okay. It had to be done, Jack. If word got out that the system was inhabited it might encourage other snakes to come."

"Doesn't mean you have to like it though, does it?" I go to him and pull him into a hug. I think he needs this. I do, that's for sure.

"No, it doesn't. At least Alpha is okay for now. While you were with George, Teal'c said that he's going to work with Qabil and get one of those Tok'ra early warning systems up in orbit as soon as possible. Sam's going to get her engineers to help out so hopefully it should be up soon. It's for the Tok'ra's benefit as well as our own. That's if it's okay with you."

"That's a great idea, Daniel. The liaisons are pretty keen on funding the planetary defence system too. I think that they had a little bit of a shake up there. Not so much by the opposition but by what the Rascal can do. I think they're scared that a couple of ships like her could come. You did the right thing, Daniel, you did really well. Even if Epimetheus wasn't coming to take over Alpha today, he'd have come back later, I'm sure of it. You saved a planet again today. You should be proud."

"Are you?" he asks shyly.

"What, proud of you? Daniel, I'm always proud of you. Always. I might not always remember to tell you but I am. Don't forget it. Come on, we've already eaten, let's go to bed."

We're in bed now, haven't bothered getting any night clothes on, it's usually pointless. I love the feeling of skin on skin whether we make love or not. Danny does too. It took me a hell of a long time to figure this out, but I got there in the end. Daniel loved me to touch him. Only me, but he craved it. When we're together nothing means more to him than when I hold him against me. Abso-fucking-lutely nothing. And why? Because nobody ever touched him when he was a kid. Apart from his one nanny, who would carry him and dote on him and he loved her dearly for it. The only other people that have held him like this are the ones that he's lost. Faisal, Shau're... I'm guessing that Gareth guy did too given by what little Daniel's said about him. I don't think that Paul held him as much as he wanted, and being Daniel he never expects someone to want to hold him, so he never asks. He lives for this for chrissake. I pull him close for a kiss but his finger goes up and onto my mouth in a 'hush' motion. I get it, Danny, you want to be in the driver's seat, do you? Well, okay, not a problem. Old Jack here can let you do that.

He's kissing my face gently, tracing the outline of my jaw with his lips on one side, with his fingers on the other. He's sliding down my neck now, suckling on the pulse point and turning me on beyond belief. Never using more than butterfly kisses, he's pressing his lips down my shoulder, over my biceps, hmm, lingering on the inside of my elbow, licking and kissing and touching and quietly driving me out of my mind. Down to my wrist, the inside, more suckling and licking until he decides to move to my hand. He's taking each finger in turn in his mouth and softly sucking it, running his tongue over my hard skin. He must be able to see what this is doing to me, because I sure as hell can see what it's doing to him.

Don't stop, Danny, please. Oh, the other side, again starting at my throat and working his way down. He's straddling my legs now, our dicks gently rubbing against each other as he moves down to my hand, taking his time as he reaches each point that makes my cock jump with excitement. Oh God, please Danny, please. Only Daniel could turn what could be a hot and heavy - and lots of fun - make out session into an all night cartographical study of my scars. And only Daniel could make that seem like the most sensual thing I've ever had in my life. Each and every time he does it.

He pushes me back to lie down as I try to sit up and then shuffles backwards so that he can play with my chest. I'm not going to stop him, though I can't guarantee that I'm not going to come any minute now. My nipples are hard as nails as he rasps his teeth over them, but they're nothing like as hard as Little Jack. He's standing so far up that he's looking me in the eye.

W.w.what? Where's he gone? Oh, my feet. My feet? Thank God I had a shower. He really wouldn't want to be down there if I hadn't. He's doing the same thing to my legs that he did to my arms. He's practically going down on my toes. Fucking hell, that's good. I have got to do this to him one day, he's going to love it. If he loves it half as much as I do he's going to be screaming from the rafters. It is taking every single ounce of self-control that I have to not scream and shout and beg him to fuck me here, because that is what I want him to do.

Daniel has taught me countless things over the years, but patience is probably the greatest thing. I always thought I was patient. I was able to do silent stake-outs for days on end. Charlie was on the receiving end of endless patience when he had broken yet another vase by playing football indoors. But it was nothing compared to the patience I've needed with Danny. Patience when he's launching into yet another long-winded description about something that I really don't want to know, but I'll listen because it makes him happy. Patience for when he would lose himself in his digs, ignoring my calls for him to take a break. But the patience that I need to draw on now is the best and the hardest. The patience to let him do this without me begging him to get me off. This exploration of me gives him so much pleasure it's unbelievable. His eyes are closed, he's got a wondrous look on his face, as if this is the most important thing in his life at the moment, more important even than breathing.

"Jack," he's murmuring, pleading as he does. "I want you, can I? Please?"

Always asking, never assuming, even when we mess around I know I can stop him with a word, as he can stop me. I'm not going to stop him tonight, I'm his, he's mine, we own each other body and soul and I don't know of any better way than this to tell him that.

"I'm all yours, Daniel," I tell him and his eyes light up like a kid at Christmas.

He's gotten the lube from the bedside table, kissing me as he greases his fingers and then he takes me whole. This is heaven, pure and simple, feeling that talented tongue working me, sucking hard, licking, teasing, his fingers opening me for him one at a time until...


Flashes of white cover my sight, I can hardly breathe, I'm so far out of it I hardly notice him as he enters me. He's leaning down to me, kissing me again, I can taste myself on his tongue, feel him in me as he starts to move. He's gone now, I've lost him to the moment.

"Oh Jack, loveyou, love you, love you, babe, you're mine, mineallmine, need you so much, oh God I'm gonna-a-a... ohgodohgodohgodloveyousomuchyes!"

He's lying flat out on my stomach, panting, my stomach is getting wet from sweat and... tears?

"Danny? Are you all right?"

Tear-streaked eyelashes appear as he looks up at me, his beautiful blue eyes glistening.

"Never better Jack, never better. Love you so much, so much."

His eyes are drifting shut and he's asleep in moments. That's my baby. Love you too.

Ugh. Back at the mountain and yet more organising. Why the fuck can't I ever learn to keep my stupid ideas to myself?

"Dr. Jackson?"

"WHAT?! Oh God, sorry, sorry, I didn't mean to yell." Fuck, that poor airman has only come to give me a message. Don't shoot the messenger, Danny Boy, it's not his fault.

"That's okay, Sir, we're all a bit on edge at the moment. There's someone here to see you."

Oh? Okay then. It's got to be a break from paperwork. I'm getting to hate that almost as much as Jack does. At least he's got an aide these days. Huh.

As I follow the airman it dawns on me that I don't know who wants to see me.

"I don't know, Sir, I was just sent to get you."

Hey ho, guess I'm going in blind then. We're going to the... commissary? Ah well, it'll give me the chance to get a coffee.

The airman opens the door for me, I thank him and go in. I wonder who wants to meet me here? I scan the room. Ah, the gang. I can see Millie, Andy and...

"GAZ! Whoa, I didn't think you'd come!"

I'm across the room in a matter of moments and find myself swept up in his arms. This is so good. The gang - all of us - we're back together.

"DJ," he's murmuring into my neck. We don't seem to be able to let each other go. I've missed him so much, really missed him.

We pull apart, grinning like a pair of idiots as we clasp each other's shoulders tightly.

"Gaz, I really didn't think you'd want to come. Sit down, let me get a coffee and then we can talk."

I rush over and get myself a coffee and I'm back at the table with the gang as soon as I can make it.

"So, talk, now. What have you been doing that would make you want to come into exile?"

"Do you remember Angie Dixon?"

"In your department? Sure."

"Well, about two years after you left for Chicago we got married."

Hell, okay, I'll mop up the coffee.

"Sorry about that, Gaz, I never saw you as the marrying kind. Always the bachelor."

"You're not wrong. My divorce came through a year ago and I've been at a bit of a loose end since then. So, when I got the cryptic offer of a job and your name was mentioned I thought 'what the hell'?"

That makes me smile.

"You were married for quite a while then," I state fairly obviously.

"We gave it a good go, but it wasn't for either of us in the end. We only worked for so long because we worked apart from each other about eight months of the year. It wasn't a nasty split, we're still talking, thank God, I wouldn't have wanted to fight."

"I'm glad about that and I'm sorry it didn't work out. It'll surprise the hell out of you but I was married too." I wait till he swallows his coffee before I impart that bit of information. I continue, "I'm sort of married now."

"Details, Deej, come on, I want details."

So, I tell him about Shau're, even the bit about the alternate version going home. He's quiet, stunned I think. He's also genuinely sorry about her and he puts his hand out to hold and squeeze mine. The others have remained silent throughout, knowing that for some reason I need to tell Gaz all of this.

"So, who are you sort of married to now?"

"Me." Jack's voice from behind me makes me jump a mile.

"Jack! You stupid fucking bastard you're doing it again! How many times have I told you to NOT creep up on me. Are you trying to kill me? You know many more efficient ways of doing that if you are. Dammit Jack, if you don't want me around just say!"

"Hey Danny, you okay?" he asks with a smile.

"Prick. Gaz, this is General Jack O'Neill, the CO of the Alpha site, my supposed best friend and quite possibly my ex if he doesn't start to behave soon. Jack, this is Dr. Gareth John."

"I guessed from Daniel's description of you," Jack says quietly with a smile. "Pleased to meet you. Sorry about this Danny, you're needed for another meeting."

"You're kidding me, another fucking meeting? Come on Jack, how many of these things do I have to go to?"

"Not as many as me. Look, if you want Carter and the Doc to organise the layout of your department for you then stay here. If not..."

"Okay, I'm coming, it's just..."

"I know, look, just do your thing, Daniel, baffle them... ah, ah, ah, you can do that. You'll figure..."

"Something out. I know."

I realise that Gaz is looking at us with an open mouth. Millie's laughing.

"This is nothing, Gaz, just wait till they get in full swing. The other day they were talking, must have said a hell of a lot I'm sure, but we only heard the first word or two before the other one butted in. It lasted at least ten minutes, they went away happy and none of us had the foggiest idea what they were saying."

"Yep, I'd say that sounds like us," Jack says with a grin.

"You would."

"It stopped you saying something."

"Not for long."

"Perish the thought."

I walk into the commissary and see him. Tall, handsome, built - drop-dead freaking gorgeous. And he's got his hand on Daniel's. I do not like this. So, I'm creeping up behind Daniel - just for information's sake you understand. The babe on the other side of the table is asking who Daniel's with, so I say 'me', make Danny jump and get the expected tirade. Phew. Daniel wouldn't yell at me like that if he didn't still love me. So, this is Gaz, eh? Just as well I've got Daniel now, I wouldn't stand a chance in competition against him. To be fair, if I met those two in a bar for the first time, I'd be pretty thrilled to go home with either of them. He's, well, attractive doesn't begin to cover it. Not my Danny though. Note that I said my Danny.

A bit of banter and we're heading out to the next meeting.


"So that's Gareth, eh?"

"Yes Jack. What do you think?"

"Good-looking guy."

"Hmm. You know I'm not..."

"Absolutely, and I'm not at all..."

"Of course not. You and me, we're...?"

"When are we anything else?"

Meetings are over for the day so we're all heading to the bar. I like the sound of that. Daniel and I are sneaking up, trying to stay out of everyone's way because neither of us fancies getting collared for yet another planning meeting.

Yay! We made it. Daniel's gang's already in there; Carter, Ed, the Doc and Teal'c too. Woo hoo. Drinks, good company and a sweet-natured honey right by my side. What more can a crotchety old general want?

I'm going to be nice to Gareth, basically because Daniel will give me hell if I'm not - and not hell in the way that usually gets us hot and sweaty later; more like the hell where I don't get any for two weeks. Daniel's sitting next to me, hell, he's virtually sitting on me. Okay. I'm guessing this is his way of telling me I've got nothing to worry about. I know I haven't, I'm just naturally possessive, obsessive, protective - aw fuck it, I get as jealous as hell and I know it.

"Gaz, how do you fancy going with a team I've got scheduled to head off to Alpha?"

"What's the plan, DJ?"

"I need a physical map of the area. We've looked around, mainly from above, but you don't get the same feeling for a place unless you know the contents of the land. We're looking for minerals, water table levels, that sort of thing. Mapping the planet will have to be done from space, I'm guessing. I think the Tok'ra will have sufficient scanning capability to do that, but, I don't know..."

"You like to have a map, a real paper map in front of you?" I suggest quietly.

"You know me too well, babe," he smiles back. "I think it could be useful in the long run. Besides, there are no off-world surveys going on at the moment and the whole department is getting antsy. I think it will do them good. It'll give you a chance to get to know the geographers and cartographers too, Gaz. What do you think?"

"Will there be a military presence?" he asks.

"Oh yes. Um, Jack, do you think we could ask for volunteers?"

"Why's that?"

"It's going to take as long as it takes. I can't ask the guys to put a timeframe to this job because you never know from one day to the next how long an area will take to chart. It depends on weather, terrain, that sort of thing. I'm hoping that we'll be able to map at least a ten mile radius to start with. We're not talking a day or two here, more like weeks. The whole thing will be voluntary. Most civilians that work here are single or have partners that work here too. That allows us the freedom to be away. The military personnel have to go where they're sent. I hate the idea of keeping married soldiers away from their families for longer than is necessary. So, if we ask for volunteers then we're not intentionally depriving a family of a mom or dad. Not to mention the fact that not all soldiers like working with the scientists. If we get those that don't mind, the whole trip will be better-natured all round."

I can't argue with his logic, so I agree.

"Why do we need baby-sitting, Daniel?" Gaz is asking, obviously not too keen on the idea.

"Trust me on this one, Gareth. This is an alien world. Okay, we picked it as our Alpha site because we found it to be a lot like Earth, but it isn't Earth and Earth rules don't always apply. The company that will go with you will be used to this. They'll have survival skills, field medical training and if we do get attacked by a Goa'uld, you'll be glad of their weapons. Oh, um, you'll have to learn how to fire a gun too. I know how much you'll hate that, I still hate it even after all these years and I've been signed off on a P90, but it's necessary. You won't be allowed through the gate without it. You really have to trust me that this is for the best, Gaz. You know I wouldn't steer you wrong, don't you?"

"Of course. I'll do it, but I'm not happy at the idea of carrying a gun."

"We don't expect you to be, Gareth," I tell him. "Just accept that we've been doing this for long enough to know that it's necessary. Even if you don't feel you could kill someone to protect yourself," I glare at Daniel as I say that, "you'd be surprised what you can do to save other people's lives. Daniel's had to do it on far too many occasions, even before he was trained to. And I for one am very glad he found the courage to do it."

Daniel's looking at me, his shy look. I can't help myself. I reach out and stroke his hair.

"Jack, have you given any more thought as to the iris?" Sam's asking. I'm glad she's still calling me by my first name off duty, it wouldn't be right to get roaring drunk together and have her call me 'Sir'.

"Um, we shouldn't," Daniel's saying.

"Why? We'll need the protection," I point out.

"True. However, I've come up with an alternative. You know we've always used Alpha as an escape route, just in case we lose our GDO."

Mutters of agreement.

"Well, unless we have another permanently-manned site, putting an iris up on the Alpha gate could lead to teams being stranded off-world."

Good point.

"So, do you remember the anaesthetic gas that was strong enough to knock out a Goa'uld, the one we encountered..."

"On the Rascal behind the force field. Yes I do Daniel. How can I ever forget?"

"It wasn't my fault Jack, you can't pin the blame on me for any of that," he says sounding quite put out. I'm not blaming him. It wasn't his fault. It was Carter's. Both of the Carters.

"I'm not blaming you Daniel. Go on."

"Well, if we can get the Tok'ra to either supply us with a similar gas or give us the chemical 'recipe' for it, how about we set up a system whereby if we have an incursion into the gate room the air vents shut off and the gas is pumped in. When everyone is unconscious, we either go in there with gas masks and take them prisoner or send them off-world before they wake up. I'm sure we can think of a suitably horrible planet for them to arrive at."

It's a great idea. We've already decided that the only way out of the gate room is going to be via transport rings and it's going to be watched 24/7 by cameras from a control room. It could work. I look at Jan and Sam and they nod. They think it could work too.

"How do you come up with these ideas, Daniel?" Jan's asking.

"Ah. Things trigger them."

"What things?" I'm curious now. "You came up with the whole Alpha idea in the shower."

"Okay, um, the time that we'd last been to Alpha before the shower it had been raining. I was using the bar of soap and thinking that I needed to find somewhere better to put it because it was getting smaller whenever the shower was on, smaller than it would be if it was just getting wet for washing if you see what I mean, and that sort of triggered the fact that the Tok'ra needed a new home. So Alpha, Tok'ra, new home - with me so far?"

Dumb nods.

"Then I realised that we had two of loads of things in the bathroom. Not just two toothbrushes, but two lots of shampoo, two lots of soap, etc., etc. So now it's Alpha, Tok'ra, new home, duplicates. It all fell into place."

"Daniel, it only took you a couple of minutes to shower that night."

"It took me about thirty seconds to come up with the idea," he replies smugly.

"So, how did you get the idea for the gas?" Millie asks.

He's blushing again. Oh dear.

"LastnightwhenIwassittingonJack'slap," he mutters.

"Didn't hear that, Daniel," Andy yells over the noise of the bar.

He sighs. "Last night, I was, er, sitting on Jack's lap and it reminded me of when we were on the Rascal, that's all."

The bastards are laughing. I hiss at him, "Did you have to tell them that?"

He comes close and whispers, "Don't worry Jack, I'm not going to tell them what it was that I was looking at that gave me the idea for the sewage disposal system."

"Hey Danny, how's it going?"

Jack's come into the office while I'm poring over the blueprints and trying to assign departments to the various rooms that are being created. I have to keep certain departments close together, and some apart from each other because they wind each other up the wrong way.


"Head hurts?"


That's so good. Jack's got magic fingers when I've got a headache. Better than pills any day.

"You know, it was much easier in my dream."

"What dream was that?"

"You know, the Goa'uld genetic memory thing."

"Dr. Evil Jackson?"

"That's the one. I had this bunker thing sorted in no time. Within a year I had the weaponry up and the world at my feet. And you trying to shoot me."

"Now, that's what proves that was a load of hokum. I could never have done that for real."

"You would have, Jack, if it was the right thing to do," I sigh, snuggling up a bit closer to him. "It's okay, though, I'd expect you to do something like that."

"You never told me that, you know. Not once. Is that why you pulled back from me?"

"No. I did that to give you room. You didn't want to be with me. I didn't want you to feel bad."

"I did though, I felt like crap. It's okay, I was a piece of shit then."

"You saved my life - twice - not long after. You weren't so bad. It doesn't matter anymore. None of that does."

"What happened, I mean when I shot you?"

"Oh, I had a Goa'uld personal shield. You didn't succeed and I nuked Moscow. Funny, it all seemed so reasonable at the time."

He laughs at that and takes me over to the cot, pulling me under his arm as he sits. Love this, it's way more intimate than rampant sex. Though of course I never object to that either.

"You'd make a great evil dictator," he says with a giggle. "You'd never fall into the 'obvious plot flaw' trap you see in the movies. You're way too smart."

"Have you ever read the 'The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord'? You haven't? It's a classic. It's on the Internet - there's over 200 things now, people keep sending stuff in. It's all the things that evil overlords do in fiction and how to not make the same mistakes. Come on, I'll show you."

I take him back to the desk and log on to the web. It's in my favourites folder. I have a huge humour folder - I need it to keep me sane. So, when I'm not playing 'pop the virtual bubble wrap' or downloading twisted tunes, I'm reading stuff like this. It's good.

Jack's cracking up as I carry on trying to organise my own secret bunker.

"Here, Danny, this one's redundant for you."

"Which one?"

"I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am."

He carries on, laughing his ass off and in the end prints the whole lot off.

"I'm gonna learn this lot off by heart," he says. "No way am I going to fall into any of these traps. There's one for the next budget meeting here: 'Before spending available funds on giant gargoyles, gothic arches, or other cosmetically intimidating pieces of architecture, I will see if there are any valid military expenditures that could use the extra budget.' I'm gonna definitely use that one."

It's done. We've finally got the logistics sorted. The gate room is 'ground' floor and central. Each major department has its own 'wing'. Ground floor wings will contain the labs for the science sections and armoury, firing range and anything else dangerous for the military, along with the control room. The control room, on the ground floor, will contain the computers and stuff that will monitor the life-support systems and the addresses for the various mission trips that will be run from Alpha - i.e., the primarily scientific ones. The purely military missions will still be run from the SGC. 'Upstairs' from the control room will be the security station, where all the cameras on the base will be monitored, especially the gate room. Also, the Tok'ra early warning system will be monitored from there, but controlled from the main control room. There will be no access to these rooms by rings, only by more defensible stairs, just in case the security measures don't work. Yeah, think that makes sense. Watching upstairs, doing downstairs.

As far as the other departments are concerned; floors 1 and 2 above the ground will contain offices and any labs we don't have room for on the ground floor will go in floor 1. Floor 3 isn't going to be restricted to individual wings but will be all-encompassing and will contain all the mess halls (we'll need at least two), rec. rooms, gyms etc. The top floor will contain all the quarters. We're going to make sure that the quarters are comfortable. The majority of people here will be civilians and they (um, we) hate the militaristic style of the ones at the SGC. These people are going to be living off-world, the least we can do is make the accommodations as nice as possible.

All the storerooms will be in a 'basement' under the relevant wings, and Sam's building some lead-lined/concrete-lined/steel-reinforced/God-only-knows-what-else-lined rooms about a mile under the physics wing. We've insisted that they're there, 'cause none of us feel like having Madam Big Bang under us. Shit, that sounds disgusting, doesn't it? Better not tell Ed that one.

He's asking to be transferred to Alpha. He doesn't want her to go without him. That's so sweet. There was some debate as to whether they should even be together, now that she's been promoted and all, but the general and Generals' consensus of opinion is 'to hell with it'. She may be in charge of the department that he's in, but it's not in the field, lives won't depend on it and she should be happy. To be honest, if the decision hadn't gone their way I think she'd quit. Ed would too. They hate to be separated these days. I'm happy for them. Ed's a nice guy and I love seeing my big sister happy.

Ah, coffee, the second greatest love of my life. I'm sitting at a table in the mess with Sam, Gaz and Millie. We're all enjoying the reviving qualities of the sacred juice while I'm waiting for Jack. There's a bit of a rumpus, some new military guys have come in. They're sitting on the table next to us.

"I hear that Jack O'Neill's in charge of that project. Can you believe that he's going to be running a science base?"

We've all gone quiet, wondering what else these guys are going to say about Jack.

"He must have done something to piss someone high up off. You know what Jack's like for civilians. Can't stand them."

"That's true. Remember that time in," his voice lowers so that we don't get to hear where or even what happened. Raucous laughter comes from them. They obviously know Jack from his early days - at least before the SGC. They must be special ops guys. What the fuck are they doing here?

"He was a wild one, completely nuts. Never anyone more lethal than him. Not a good guy to piss off. Went a bit quiet when he got married though. Perhaps that's what this is. The missus doesn't want him doing anything dangerous."

The guys laugh at that. My guys that is. Missus indeed. I'm guessing that they don't know about Jack and me then. This could get interesting. More laughter from the next table.

"The scientists won't want to get him mad. He's psycho. Remember that guy in that bar? The one that was hitting on Petrowski?"

"Yeah, I wonder if that limp he gave him was permanent?"

"Dunno, but I'll bet his face is scarred for life. What a mess."

"Yeah, Jack can't stand queers."

Now the four of us are laughing out loud. Sorry, can't help it. I'm guessing that the guy that was hitting on the other guy just wouldn't take no for an answer. Jack was probably stopping something from getting out of hand. I wouldn't mind betting that this 'Petrowski' was gay and Jack was covering for him too. Knowing him as I do I can't really believe that it was for any other reason.

This could get even more interesting. Jack's just walked in with Ferretti at his side. Jack's seen me, and I nod towards to other table. His eyebrows have gone up and he's nudged Lou. A different raised eyebrow pattern asks my permission for him to go and see these guys before coming to me. Permission granted with a smile.

"Jack!" one of them's yelling.

"General," Lou's correcting.

At least these guys are doing the right thing now. They're standing up and saluting him. Good.

"So, General, how the hell did you manage that promotion?" the biggest one asks.

"Been keeping my nose pretty clean," Jack replies carefully. "What are you guys doing here?"

"Just got transferred. This is one weird place, um, Sir. Aliens, different planets, spaceships, wormholes - jeez. How do you stand working with all those scientists?"

"Oh, it has its perks," Jack says laconically.

Lou sniggers and calls out, "Hey, Daniel, have you got the move organised yet?"

"Yes, thanks Lou, we're almost there. As soon as the Tok'ra get the tunnels built we'll be in there putting up doors and shifting the lab stuff in. Are you coming with?"

"Nah, they need me here. Besides, who's gonna come to the rescue when you guys fuck up?"

"True, true. Us science-types are always getting into trouble. Jack, have you arranged that trip to Alpha yet?"

One of the new guys turns and shoots me a glare.

"That's General to you. Damned civilians, can't see the chain of command at all."

"All done, Daniel," Jack says and then turns to the other guy. "That's Dr. Jackson to you, or you can address him as 'Colonel', Fredericks. Kindly treat him with the respect with which you expect him to treat me. That goes for everyone else on this base too. I will not have anyone treating anyone with disrespect. Do I make myself clear?"

"Sir, yes Sir."

"Good. That's got that cleared up. Daniel? Coming home?"

"On my way, Jack. Can we stop by the coffee shop on the way? We're nearly out."

"Sure, no problem. Are you cooking tonight?"

"Hmm, if I have to. I was kinda hoping you'd take me out to dinner."

"Oh, I think that can be arranged." He turns to see his old colleagues. They're open-mouthed. Winking at the gang he says, "Goodnight, gentlemen," to the new guys and we leave the commissary, his hand on the small of my back.

I'm waiting for the interrogation. He didn't mention the incident in the mess at all when we were out to dinner. We're in bed now and he's snuggling up. I know he's going to ask me. So, why isn't he?

"Daniel, I know you're desperate to know about those guys so why aren't you nagging me?"

"Moi? I never nag."

I snort at that and he shoots me a filthy look.

"Besides, I've pretty much figured them out, I think."

I have got to hear this.

"Go on then, what have you figured out?"

"Okay, you were with them before you got married. I'm guessing special ops, seriously classified stuff that even Hammond probably doesn't know about. They mentioned a guy called Petrowski and the fact that you beat some guy up for hitting on him. Petrowski was gay, wasn't he?"

"How did you guess?"

"You were covering for him, protecting his rep. The other guy wouldn't let up, wouldn't take no for an answer."

"Got it. He was a nasty piece of work, really bad. Even if things had been like they are now I wouldn't have allowed Pete to go with him."

"Pete Petrowski? You have got to be kidding me."

"Albert. Pete was his nickname."

"Ah. Anyway, when you got married you left that team not long after. They said you went much quieter when you got married. I know you stayed in special ops for a while, but I'm guessing you were on a different team. They didn't know you were divorced, by the way, and had you down as a homophobe."

Okay, I snort at that one too. He's got me pegged completely on this one.

"You never cease to amaze me with your deductive powers, Sherlock. What do you want to know?"

"Nothing about the jobs you did, if that's what you're wondering. I know you can't tell me about them and I know from your nightmares that you'd rather not think about them. Why don't you tell me what you want to tell me and we'll leave it at that?"

That's one of the things I love about Daniel. His empathy. He wants to know stuff, but he also knows that some of it would hurt me so he's prepared to forget that and not push. He also knows when he has to push, has to get something from me.

"Pete. He was a great guy, one of the best. He didn't know about me, I kept that very quiet as you can imagine. One day he got ratted and told me. He was considering chucking the whole thing in. Anyway, I persuaded him to stay, promised I'd take care of him. I did my best. It wasn't good enough."

"What happened?" Daniel's concerned now.

"He was our explosives expert. And he was an expert, absolutely brilliant. Once, behind enemy lines he managed to blow a chemical weapons factory using only what we could carry in our hands. Anyway, he was killed on a mission. We'd set up explosives but we couldn't get away quickly enough. One of the timers must have been faulty. He was blown up by one of his own devices."

"Bummer. I'm sorry about that Jack. It couldn't have been easy losing him."

"It's never easy losing a comrade in arms, Daniel, but it's a damned sight harder when he's one of your best pals. You'd have liked him. He was insane, but that comes with the explosives territory - you have to be nuts to do that - but he was loyal."

"Yeah, you're right. I would have liked him. You're a very good judge of character, Jack. If you say he was nice, I'd have liked him a lot. Anyway, are we going to lie here chatting or do you have something else in mind?"

"Danny, darling," heh, heh, he hisses at that, "I always have something else in mind around you."

We decided that we'd come in early and spend some time in the gym this morning. We've spent far too much time behind desks recently so we could do with this. I've persuaded Teal'c to come in too, though of course, he doesn't need it at all.

Crap. The gym is practically full. You can smell the testosterone as you walk through the door. Ah good, the weights are free. Teal'c spots me for some bench presses. Where the fuck is Daniel? He said he'd be right behind me.

"General. Didn't expect to see you in here this morning."

*puff* "Fredericks. You either." *gasp* I really am getting too old for this.

"Where's your, er, friend then? Doesn't he like coming in the gym? I suppose that this is a bit too energetic for civilians."

*grunt* "Oh no, you'd be surprised." *groan*

Oh. My. God.

Daniel's just walked in here with Gaz. Woo hoo. I didn't think I would be so glad to see Danny with one of his exes, but I'm glad he had the company in the locker room. The interest in here has just risen, along with a lot of other things. I'm relieved that I'm used to seeing Danny like this now. The place has gone pretty quiet. They look like gods. Daniel's face lights up as he sees me.

"Ah, there you are, Jack. Gaz said he'd like to join us. That's okay with you, isn't it?"

Thank heavens. Teal'c's removed the weights from me and I can sit up.

"Of course, Daniel. Morning Gareth. How are you settling in?"

"Fine thanks, Jack. I was glad to be able to come and work out though, I could do with it. I'm getting a bit soft."

As if. They're both in short shorts and wearing sleeveless T-shirts. You can see the muscles rippling before they even work out. I doubt they're going to get any trouble from any of the new guys in the gym. Propositioned, maybe, but no trouble.

I guess the best way of describing Gaz is Daniel with four inches, redder hair and green eyes. Both of them could model for any magazine. Daniel's tattoos are causing a bit of a stir.

"Marine Corps? The geek, um, um, Doc's in the Marine Corps?"

"Johannsen," I bark, Teal'c's growling, but Marine Sergeant Abea is also not a happy man.

"Sergeant Johannsen," he says with a sneer honed with years of practise, "Dr. J may be a geek, but he's our geek. You will treat him as such, or you'll have the Corps to answer to. Not to mention the flyboys. They're pretty fond of him too. The civvies on this base are pretty cool. They work their butts off to keep us safe. Some of them, like the Doc here, go into battle to save us too. Don't you ever be disrespectful."

I'm doing my best not to laugh my ass off. Johannsen was always a big mouth. No wonder he's never got past sergeant. Danny's said nothing through this, but he's grinning. Gaz was interested in the exchange. His back went up to start with, but as soon as Abea spoke up he relaxed. Good. I like this. I look over at Abea and catch his eye. A quiet smile and nod is exchanged between us. I won't forget that, my friend. Johannsen has picked up on this and he's excused himself and booked. We have to keep the civvies safe from people like him. It doesn't hurt to stop things before they start.

The others from his group are still here though, watching open-mouthed as Danny lies down on the bench and start lifting leg weights. Heavy leg weights. I'm having difficulty taking my eyes off him. I take over from Gaz and spot for him. Teal'c's helping Gaz out now and he's pretty strong too. Not as strong as Daniel, but then he hasn't had eight years of fighting the Goa'uld. He's not far off though. Turns out he plays rugby, so he's been collared by one of the British teams for a game. He's a winger (whatever that is) which means he's a fast runner. Daniel says he never played that game himself but would watch them so he understands the rules. Why doesn't he understand football then? We still have the sport versus documentary debates, but he hasn't beaten me to the remote control yet. Though he does have a few interesting techniques for getting it off me. Hmm. Better not think like that now, not while Danny's lying there red in the face, sweat pouring over his biceps and leg muscles. Aargh. I need a cold shower.

We escaped from the gym. Sam, Janet, Millie and some of the other ladies came in. Followed by a mass male exodus. You've never seen a bunch of men move so quickly... it looked like Happy Hour had been announced in the bar or something. I wouldn't have minded staying and working out with them - I do, frequently - but Sam and Janet were in a silly mood and being egged on by Millie. Loud comments were being thrown around about panting males, sweaty bodies, hot flushes, God knows what else. I did get the last laugh on Jack's old colleagues though. They were fumbling about as the girls were teasing them. I just went up to them and gave them all a kiss, teased them back and promised to meet them later.

In the showers I could hear a lot of hisses as the cold water hit the various men. My water was hot. So was my general. I love to see him when he's been working out in the gym. Oh God, don't think of that now, Daniel, you've got a briefing with the mapping team. Can't go in there too hard to walk and squeaking like Minnie Mouse.

That's sorted. I'm going out there tomorrow with them but I won't stay. More paperwork now. No, not more.

"Dr. Jackson?" An airman has turned up at my door. Last time this happened Gaz turned up.

"Yes, can I help you?"

"General Hammond would like you to go to the briefing room, Sir. I think that something has come up."

"Thank you, I'll, er, go now."

Damn and blast. What now? If this is another meeting... deep breaths, Jackson, calm down. Think nice thoughts. No, not that sort of nice. Leave Jack out of this. Hmm, flowers. *achoo!*

Crap, I'm even allergic to them in my daydreams. This is getting silly.

Ok-ay, I'm here. Jack's here. As are Sam and Teal'c. What is going on? Jack's old colleagues are here too.

"Thank you for coming, Dr. Jackson, we have a situation and we need your advice."

"Oh, yes, of course. What can I do?"

"Look at this."

A UAV film appears on the screen. Oh crap. Pyramids. Lots of them. The place looks like Abydos - sand everywhere. Jaffa - bugger. Oops. The UAV has been shot down. We didn't get a good look at the Jaffa unfortunately.

"Do we have anything else, Sir?"

"Nothing as of yet. We wanted your opinion as to the viability of a visit. We can see that the place is full of Jaffa, but we have no idea whose they are. There was no sign of a mother ship, but that's not to say that one wouldn't turn up."

"Hmm. I can see what you are saying. We should send a team in, but they'll be expecting a visit through the gate now. Sending anyone through there would be dangerous to say the least. How far is the planet from Alpha?"

"A day's journey, Daniel," Sam replies.

"Jack? Do you think we should go in there in the Rascal?"

"We've retired, Daniel."

"Jack. Nobody else speaks Ancient Egyptian apart from Teal'c. If that place is the same as Abydos then I have to go."

Silence from Jack - he's thinking. I look at Teal'c, he nods, agreeing with me.

"Sam? Can you digitally enhance the film. There was one point when we saw a Jaffa's face. If we can get a look at the tattoo, Teal'c may be able to tell us who's there. With the elimination of the System Lords we have to know who the new kids on the block are."

She says she can give it a go, Hammond gives us permission to leave, but Jack stays behind. What is going on with his old team? He wasn't thinking of going through the gate without us, was he?

My head hurts again. We've been studying the film closely. Nada.

Sam's on the phone to the General.

"Sir, they know we're coming now, so why don't we send a MALP through? - hopefully we'll get a look at the Jaffa before they take it out... yes, Sir... thank you Sir. I'll organise it straight away."

"Thanks, Sam, my eyes couldn't take any more strain."

We're in the control room now, a MALP is on the ramp and ready to go. None of us can take our eyes off the screen, we may not get the chance to see too closely. Pictures are coming through.

"Um, wow," I say - not too coherently.

"Daniel? Who is it?" Jack's asking quietly.


"And you can tell this how?"

"Daniel Jackson is correct, O'Neill. The Jaffa is wearing the Ibis helmet. A symbol of Thoth. It was believed that he had long since died. His Jaffa have not been seen in many generations and are in fact no more than a legend among other Jaffa."

"Who is Thoth, Dr. Jackson?" Oh, um, the General is talking.

"Thoth. Well, he was one of the good gods - yeah, yeah, don't laugh Jack, some of them have a great reputation."

"What, like Hathor?" Ouch. He would mention her, wouldn't he? I glare at him and he backs off a bit.

"Yes," I say carefully, "like Hathor. Which is why I wouldn't go in there unless I was armed to the teeth. Thoth was supposed to have introduced hieroglyphs to Egypt. He's the god of wisdom and learning. This suggests that he's smarter than your average snake."

"They're all bluster, Daniel, you know that."

"No, Jack, they're not. Yu was smart. Okay, he went a touch power hungry and mad after Zippy's little display on his home world, but he was pretty intelligent. He certainly was no fool. I'd be very, very wary about Thoth. General, Sir, you cannot send a strike team in here. It would be suicide. The Jaffa know we're coming now. Sending a team through the gate would be just sending them to their deaths. I'm sure that SG-1 can go in from the cloaked Rascal."

"Daniel? What are you thinking now?"

"If there's a mother ship there, we can take it out. If we can take out the gate at the same time we'll strand him there... Jack?"


"Do you think we could...?"

"Probably, it would all depend..."

"Yeah, I know, but if you're..."

"I'm fine. How dangerous...?"

"If things are as I think they are, we need to. He could become worse than you know who..."

"We did kill him, ya know."

"Eventually. We think."

The guys are looking at us hard and then they nod. The special ops team looks confused.

Daniel's suspicious about my reasons for having the special ops guys around. I'm not getting involved with them again, but they are good at their jobs. In fact they're great at their jobs. They're here as a strike team - infiltration, behind enemy lines, assassination if necessary. We're keeping that quiet though, Daniel would complain loudly if he knew that and it could turn all the civilians against us. He's well aware of the necessity to kill, will do it himself when he has to. He's even helping us now in a pre-emptive strike, but I know he hates the thought of it. If he knew what we feel to be needed now it could cause a lot of problems. There will be a time when he finds out, but hopefully by then it will be too late.

His assessment of this current situation is spot on, as usual. I wouldn't send a single team through the gate. When we sent the MALP through we counted at least twenty Jaffa.

So, I'm back in the briefing room with George.

"We have a choice, George. We can either lock this planet out of the computer - but then that leaves us with no intel and a potentially dangerous snake. Or, we can go in and do what Daniel suggests. He's right, by the way, it's got to be us. If we go down to the planet, there's no one else that can deal with the people like he can. Not to mention speak the language or read the stuff - whatever."

"Are you convinced by his reading of the situation?"

"George, how long have you known him? When was he ever wrong? His radar's gone off. He's thinking dangerous Goa'uld. If Daniel tells me someone has to be killed, I kill them. He never kills without reason. You know that."

"You're right," he says with a sigh. "Okay. We should involve the Tok'ra, though, just in case they have someone there. We don't want to cross them now."

"I'll go and call Jake then," I reply, standing up. At least my knee is okay.

"Jack? Are you up to this? SG-1 hasn't been in action for a while, you mentally stood down. In the past when you've been waiting for someone to recover from something to go out, your minds were always on the active list."

"I can see what you are saying. I think we'll be fine. We haven't lost our team spirit or anything. You saw us in the control room. We can still read each other, know what's going on without words. I doubt we'll ever lose that. We've been keeping fit too. We'll do okay. If the Tok'ra come in too, we should get in and out without trouble. How about sending in a couple of crack teams to take out the gate? We can bring them back with the ship when it's over."

"I'll think about it, Jack."

Jake came through, saw the footage and agreed with our plan. We're going to head out tomorrow. Daniel will set his geeks off to do the mapping and then we'll head out in the Rascal. The special ops guys along with a team of Royal Marines (who for some reason have desert training, go figure), Canadian Commandos and the Russian Spetznaz guys will go with us, and depending on the outcome of the visit will go to the gate and take it out. Carter's going to enhance some explosives with naquada to do the job.

This Thoth guy could become dangerous if we don't do this. He's been quiet for a long time, but if he gets to hear about the demise of the System Lords he may just want to take over. He's probably the most 'senior' snake left, apart from Nirrti who's disappeared. We have no idea where she is.

"I didn't think we'd need to complete our ritual anymore Jack," Danny's saying with a smirk as we get into bed.

"Oh dear, what a pity, never mind," I reply. Okay, so I'm smirking too.

My turn to play tonight, I think. He's cottoned on and he's lying there, waiting to see what I've got in mind. To be honest, I'm too tired to go on for long, so I think it's going to be fast and furious. Though there's going to be lots of kissing. Obviously. And hugging, and stroking and cuddling and WOO HOO. Eh hem, I always do that when he touches me there. It's a Pavlovian response I think.

"Have you any idea just how fucking sexy you looked this morning in the gym?" I ask him. He's giving me his 'who, me?' look.

"Yes, Daniel, you. And Gaz. Jeez, I had visions of beating the other guys there off with a very big stick. And when I saw you lying on the bench, your face red, sweat pouring off you, all I could think of was how you are when we've been making love. You get so hot and bothered, just like you were this morning. It took all my powers of self-control to not rip your shorts off and go down on you there and then. I wanted to, I wanted to lift those gorgeous legs of yours and wrap them around my shoulders so that I could enter you. I wanted to move slowly at first, just like this, watching your face as I hit the spot. I love the way your eyes screw themselves shut, how your mouth opens when you start to pant. I wanted to lick the sweat from your neck, biting your shoulders and making you howl. I wanted to start to move harder and faster, your back would arch and you'd start calling my name, over and over as you got hard again and got closer and closer. *oh God* I wanted to make you scream in lots of languages *ooh* you were going to howl, Danny, absolutely howl *jeez* I'd grab you like this and work you hard and fast, just the way you *shit* like it *oh-Dani-el*."

I think that worked.

Here we go again. I'm shattered. I'm not exactly sure how many times Daniel woke me last night, but it was quite a few. Neither of us can sit down in a hurry, that's for sure.

I've discussed the plan with Jake and the team leaders and we're all pretty sure of what we're doing, so hopefully things will work out. Jake's arranged for some Tok'ra to work with us on this one.

Daniel's fussing with his geeks, giving them last minute instructions because we've decided to go straight there. We think we're expected now and we don't want to disappoint. Jacob has arranged that one of the Tok'ra scientists will have the teltac and will transport the mapping team to the site, he'll even work with them. Jacob and Qabil are coming with us, mainly because Qabil knew Thoth way back when, and his host Kadim looks like the people of the planet so he can slip in and go undercover if necessary. Not sure who else is coming though.

"Time's up, Daniel, the gate's open."

We get the call from Hammond and we all step through.