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Alpha Males 2

desert rats

Summary: SG-1 have to go back into action for the first time in ages. Desert action. We have it all - including Sam in a dress and Daniel in a skirt? What is going on?

So, we're on the way. Everyone and everything's loaded up on the Rascal. Coffee's packed, chocolate's stored and hidden from anyone without a PhD after their name, she's cloaked and one of the Tok'ra, Hasana, is flying her. We met her when we were taking out the System Lords, she was flying one of the ships. Nice girl. Her snake, Talnet, is okay too. Not pushy, hardly ever comes out, in fact. A shy snake? I guess it's possible. We've gotten to know them really well over the last couple of years - to tell the truth we're all really fond of them. Helps that Hasana is a babe, and in no way a slut, unlike some we could mention. Daniel's pacing up and down, his mind is elsewhere, I can tell.

What now? A light bulb has just gone on, I think, 'cause he's off like a whippet.

"Carter, T, come on, let's find out what he's up to."

We take off after him, leaving the others in our wake. He's gone where? The stores? When we took over the Rascal we found loads of stuff on the ship, just as if it had been left for Ra and his entourage. So there's clothes and jewellery and stuff. We were going to take it off, but Daniel persuaded us to keep it on board. It worked well when we had to fool Anubis that Qabil was Ra so we kept the things here.

He's going through the wardrobe. And he's found? A dress? Definitely a dress. He's holding it in front of him. It's a bit short for him, it would stop a couple of inches above his ankles and show off his hairy legs (there is one other place he's hairy, but that's my secret.)

"Um, Daniel, I really don't think it will suit you," I tell him. "Besides, I'm not really into the transvestite thing. Not my scene. I prefer you as you are. The leathers are a much better look on you."

Sniggers from behind me make me realise that the other teams followed us too.

He scowls at me. "Jack, don't be an ass. This is for Sam."

"Oh no, no way Daniel. I've done the dressing up thing before. One stupid dress is enough."

"Sam, don't be silly. That was years ago. C'mon, you'd look gorgeous in it. For me? Please?"

He's doing his cute thing, the fluttering eyelashes, the shy smile. She's nearly caving.

"No. Absolutely-y-y-- oh fuck it, give it here."

He kissed her neck again.

"Carter," I howl, "you are just too easy."

She flips me the bird and disappears, stomping off to another room, the dress tucked under her arm.

"So, are you going to let me in on your idea?" I ask him.

"Oh, of course. Um, Qabil is going to check out the lie of the land as soon as we get there, isn't he? If it is as I think it's likely to be, then Thoth is going to get a visit."

"How can you be sure he'd let you in?"

"What have Sam and I got that you and Teal'c don't?" he replies with a grin.

"PhDs? A death wish? Annoying whines?"

A scowl - yep, she has one of those too.

"Jack? What are you - and God only knows who else - always wittering on about?"

"Ah. Blue eyes. I get it. Nobody on the planet will have fair hair, fair skin, blue eyes. You'll look different from them. Thoth will know you're not from around there and may be interested enough to let you into the inner sanctum."

"Give the man a medal! You've got it, Jack. If we can look rich and powerful too it will help. What do you think?"

I just stopped thinking. Carter's just stepped back into the room. Whoo momma. Wolf whistles abound. She looks devastatingly beautiful.

"This is a tad revealing, Daniel," she's whining.

"You look more beautiful than anyone I have ever seen in my life, Sam. Absolutely breathtaking."

Old smoothy. She's melting, I can tell. He's slipped his arms around her waist and they're snuggling up together.

"So, you two going to pretend to be, what, married?" I ask.

"Yeah, I think it would be the best idea," he replies, not letting go of her. I think she feels more secure with him there 'cause she's holding on tightly to him.

"Trouble is, you two look alike. You've passed for siblings on more than one occasion. Do you think they'd believe you?"

"That's why it has to be us, Jack. It was very common to marry your sibling in Ancient Egypt. One of the reasons the pharaohs started looking weird. Long fingers, extra digits, that sort of thing. Inbreeding. The fact that Sam and I look alike will strengthen our claim."

"So? What are you going to wear?" I ask. If she's wearing that I can't wait to see what he's going to put on.

"I'll have a look, haven't found anything yet. If we keep to the Ra look it should confuse Thoth and hopefully pique his interest. Two non-Egyptians in the costume of the time would be strange to say the least. I'll find something suitable."

I give him the okay. I need to work on the tactical plan now. He's done the first part of my job for me, the infiltration. T and I can figure out the assassination. So, time to go and think.

"General." It's Fredericks.

"What's up?"

"Look, I'm confused as hell. I know your personal life has nothing to do with me, but we were friends once. What the hell is going on?"

"You mean with Daniel?"

"Yeah. What's with him and her? And you for that matter."

"Daniel's my partner, Abe, we've been together for just over three years, friends for years longer. Sam's like his big sister. They're close - closer than any siblings or married couple that I've met. Nothing between them though. Just the best of friends. She's my friend too, as is Teal'c. We're family, the four of us."

"I always thought you hated gays, Jack. What, did he seduce you or something?"

"Hell no," (I have to stop myself from laughing my ass off) "I never said I was homophobic, Abe, not once. I'd have been lying if I did. That time with Pete, I was just protecting him from a shark, nothing more. That bastard was bad news. Pete was gay, by the way. I knew it - he told me - and I promised to protect him as best I could. And before you think it, no, there was never anything between us. I'm bi, like Daniel, always have been. Do you have a problem with this? 'Cause if you do we need to sort this out now."

"Nah, no problem. I trusted you in the field before - I'll do it again. That's a promise. Fuck, Jack, there was a time you could tell me anything. I guess I understand why you never said though. It couldn't have been easy for you."

"Just the way it was, Abe. I had to hide it. Daniel's luckier, he's an academic - no such worries, at least till he joined us. Then he had to hide out too, to keep his ribs intact. Wasn't easy for him. Don't think he's some kind of wuss, Abe. Too many people have made that mistake in the past. He's the toughest man I have ever met. Underestimating him has a tendency to be fatal. I've seen it happening."

"He looks comfortable around women," he observes. "They look comfortable around him too."

"Oh yes. That's Danny. He never expects anyone to act in a particular way because of their gender. So, women tend to love him because he treats them as individuals in accordance with their own personalities. He loves women, his wife was stunning. When he lost her he swore that he'd never remarry. When Sara and I divorced I decided the same thing. So, we're pretty much stuck with each other." I add that last part with a grin.

No way in hell do I mind.

Carter's back in her uniform. One of the other guys was teasing her gently about it being a shame, but she soon had him on his back - physically. Nobody's going to mess with her, that's for sure. Not to mention they'd get the three of us in their faces, along with Jacob and the rest of the Tok'ra. I sort of feel sorry for her. She's a tough woman, can handle more than a load of men can, but like Daniel, she brings out the protective nature of those that know and love her. I do love her - more than life itself. Funny the way things turn out. She has slowly learned to accept the protection too. She now knows it has nothing to do with her being a woman and everything to do with the fact that she's part of our family. Daniel helped her with that. She's had to fight to be accepted all her life. At school she was the brightest and the best. It didn't help her one bit that she was also among the most beautiful.

She was railing against us once, telling us how she didn't need our protection. Daniel gently pointed out that he didn't need hers either. She sat down with a bump, her mouth opened and shut, and then she figured it out. We protect each other out of love, not out of some misplaced idea that the others are weak. As soon as she got that she was able to accept a lot more than just our protection. Her more feminine side came out, her sense of fun (which is every bit as equal to Janet's) exploded out of her. I don't think I have ever seen her happier than she has been over the last couple of years. Ed has helped too. He accepted her expertise at work without a blink, treating her exactly the way she wanted to be treated. But off duty, he treats her like she's the most precious thing in the world and she's starting to really enjoy that. This is probably why she's caved over the dress thing so easily. She can see that Daniel's idea is likely to get us in to the Goa'uld that much quicker, and probably with a lot less bloodshed too. It's a typical Danny plan.

"Jack?" Talk of the devil and he shall appear.

"Hey, what's up?"

"Nothing. Wondering why you're staring out into hyperspace I guess."

I slip my arms around his waist and he does the same to me, resting his head on my shoulder.

"Oh, just thinking."

"Of what?"

"Everything and nothing. I'm a bit concerned about you and Carter going in without protection."

"A bit?" he teases.

"Okay - a lot," I admit.

"We won't be. You don't think we'd go in without you guys? You and Teal'c are coming too. It won't hurt to have a Jaffa by our side, it'll add to the confusion. You can act as some sort of advisor, if you like. You'll have to find a costume too. Teal'c's going to wear robes like the ones he wears on Chulak - nondescript, all-purpose clothing. With the staff weapon and his tattoo it should confuse the hell out of the opposition. Are we Goa'uld or not? And when they find out we're not they'll be wondering why we act like them and have a Jaffa guide."

"Keeping them on their toes, eh Danny?"

"Exactly. You always taught me that keeping the opposition off balance would give me an advantage. We're going in blind, Jack, no matter how much intel Qabil comes back with. We need some sort of edge over Thoth before we start. Hey - I do pay attention to you, ya know."

"I know. In which case, how would it sound if Qabil and Talnet come with us too, acting as more servants? It would be one thing a non-Goa'uld having a Jaffa, but to have two Goa'uld as servants? Ah, ah, ah, I know the Tok'ra aren't the same, but I don't think that Thoth would be able to tell the difference, would he?"

"Good thinking. I'll ask them if they'd mind later. You have such good ideas, Jack," he says, nuzzling my neck.

"I've got another one. Want to hear it?"


"Come on then, not here."

We head off to our quarters, watched by some of my old team. I don't give a flying fuck as to what they think to tell the truth. We have eighteen hours before we arrive. I'm not spending all my time just hanging around. Not when I've got me a babe.

"So, would you mind playing the roles?" I ask Qabil and Talnet.

They look at each other and grin. Qabil answers.

Not at all, Daniel. We understand the necessity. I can see your reasoning, it may work. As soon as I get back from checking things out we'll put suitable clothing on. I like your plan, by the way, it has merit. Short of attacking from space and taking out the planet, there was little else we could do. Infiltration is our best hope.

"How long have you two been together, Talnet?" I ask. I've never asked them that before.

About 150 of your years, she says. We have been together with different hosts too. It is unusual. Sometimes the hosts do not get on, even though they can feel the way that we feel about each other. Then the symbiote will withdraw from the relationship.

"That must be hard," I say, knowing how hard it would be for me to withdraw from Jack.

It is. But, the host is giving us life, giving us friendship - a home too, so we defer to the feelings of the host. When, as now, the hosts learn to love each other as we do, it is wonderful. Our feelings are magnified. Because I not only love Qabil, I love Kadim. And Hasana loves Qabil as much as Kadim. And the other way around too. As you know, the host and symbiote love as one.

"I'm happy for you," I tell her earnestly. Then tease her, "What if, for example, your next host was a man? How would you view such a relationship?"

Kadim speaks out. "The symbiotes have no preference for the gender of their host's lover, Daniel, it all depends on the preference of the host themselves. For example, some of the hosts come from rigid societies where same-sex relationships would not be tolerated. They, then, would never entertain the idea. However, if the host is like myself, from a society where it is accepted as normal, then it would be irrelevant to the symbiote. I'm happy with Hasana, I love her dearly, but I would not have minded if Talnet's current host was male, and neither would Qabil."

I'm not surprised that Kadim fell for Hasana. She's nearly ebony in colour. Tall, slender, her features fine. Her jet-black hair cascades down her back, all the way to her waist. She's absolutely stunning. Not to mention really sweet-natured.

I lean over and kiss her cheek. "I can so easily see why he fell for you," I tell her, getting a joking telling off from Kadim. She's delightful, laughing like a bird. She hugs me and kisses my cheek.

"How about we swap, eh? Kadim and Qabil can have Jack, and you, Talnet and I..." her eyes glisten. Then they darken and her head drops.

"Oh, Daniel, I am so sorry. I know that must have hurt you. Can you forgive me?" She sounds terribly distressed.

"Hey," I wrap my arms around her and raise her face to look at mine with my finger. "It's okay. You didn't hurt me, not at all. If Shau're had been Tok'ra, I could have lived with that. Don't you ever even remotely compare Talnet to Amaunet. They are nothing alike, absolutely nothing. I like Talnet, I like her a lot. And I know she could never have done something like that. It's okay. We're still friends, I promise."

Her eyes have brightened again. They're so dark, they shine like onyx. Kadim is one lucky, lucky guy.

I kiss her cheek again and excuse myself. I've got a costume to find.

"I am not wearing that, Daniel," Jack's complaining.

"Ja-ack," I whine, "it's perfect. Look, it covers everything."

"It's a dress, dammit."

"It's a robe, Jack. It even goes down to the floor. What's the difference between this and what I wear on Abydos?"

"Apart from the fact that your robes itch and smell funny?"

"Yes, Jack. Come on, these are cotton, they'll be cool. If it's as hot there as on Abydos you'll be grateful, I promise. Teal'c, what do you think?"

"The robes will suffice, Daniel. O'Neill will look most distinguished in them."

Jack is not impressed. Then I show him what I'm going to wear and he caves. As soon as he stops laughing.

"Oh boy, if you have the guts to wear this, then I am going to wear the robes. No problem. Are you sure that enough of you will be covered up?"

"I'll be fine, Jack. I'm not going to wear a wig, though. The whole point is to make me look different. It's been winter at home, so my skin has reverted to its pathetic lily-white state. When I step out there I'm going to stick out like a sore thumb."

"It's not the only thing that's going to get sore if you stay in the sun, Daniel. You're going to go bright red."

I know it.

"I've got some industrial-strength sunblock. I'll rely on you to keep me covered with it. Sam too. Neither of us can afford to even go pink."

"So, what role am I going to play?" Jack asks.

"Body servant would be the best one," I reply. "It'll give us cover if we slip up. It will also give you the reason to be at my side all the time. Teal'c, you'll need to be Sam's personal guard. I won't want her on her own at any time."

"I will not leave her, Daniel," he replies quietly.

"I know you won't. We'll have to persuade her that it's necessary. You know how she is."

They both mutter agreements and we hear,

"So? How am I?"

Oh crap.

"Independent," I say.

"Determined," Teal'c says.

"A pain in the mik'ta," says Jack.

He's only getting away with that because of the rank thing. She does, however, shoot him a 'die a thousand times over' look.

"How long before we arrive?" she asks, still sulking though.

"Another ten hours. Come on, we'd better get some sleep."

Jack's sounding a bit bossy, so we all give in. We do need to be rested. He's gone and given the same order to the other teams. If they're going to go into battle, they're going to need to be rested as much as us.

Jack and I have the same private room that we had before, but this time there is a bed in it. At least we've kept Ra's bed but got rid of the trappings and finery. It's just like a normal king-size now. Suits me fine.

Hmm, naked and hairy general. Perfect.

"What's with the burrowing, Daniel?"


"Sure, if you get any closer you're going to be wearing me."

"Got a problem with that, flyboy?"

"Oh no, I can live with it. You're not normally quite so, um, clingy, even when you are plastered to me."

"Nervous, I guess. Besides, as of tomorrow, Sam and I are going to have to play at being married. I guess I just want to make the most of you now."

"So, do you wanna dmmffl..."

He can't talk, not with my tongue in his mouth. 'Do I want to', indeed. I'm a guy. Of course I want to. When don't I?

I love this, waking up with my six foot teddy bear. For someone as pissy as Daniel he can't half get all sappy and snugly. Especially when we both got so well laid last night. I can't call him on it though, he's no better than I am. Jeez, you wouldn't think that I was ex-special ops, trained killer, fighter pilot and all round bad guy - not when I'm with Daniel. He brings out the best in me, always. Gives me something to live up to. His expectation of me is that I will always, no matter what, do the 'right thing'. Whatever the 'right thing' turns out to be. I try, I really try. I couldn't bear to disappoint him.

"J'ck? You 'wake?"

"Yeah, babe, I'm awake. Was just thinking of getting some coffee. In fact, if you unwrap yourself from me, I'll get you one. Okay?"


My baby is not a morning person. Hell, there's a knock on the door.

"Who's there?"


"Me who?"

"Me who's got the archaeologist-getter-upper. You guys decent?"

"No. But come in anyway."

"Woo hoo, my luck's in."

Ya know, Carter spends far too much time with the Doc.

"Daniel, coffee," I tease as I wave the mug under his nose.

"God, gimme, good." He's sitting up, I'd better make sure the sheet stays covering us. I know Carter's seen us nude before but I don't want to get her too excited. She's bad enough without encouragement.

"Thanks Sam," he smiles as soon as he finishes. Ah, his vocabulary list has downloaded into his brain again. I've got this theory that half his languages store themselves on floppy disc or something when he sleeps, only to be put back into that vast database that is his brain when he's rebooted - i.e. got sufficient caffeine in him. Sorta like switching on the power on a PC.

"So, Daniel, you and I are going to be married today, eh?" she teases.

"Um, yeah. It should keep us both safe from unwanted attention. You okay with this?"

"'Course I am, I trust you. Just glad it's not Jack."

"That's General Jack to you, Colonel."

"Sir, yes Sir," she snaps back. "Sheesh, I'm really glad of those regs, sometimes."

"Why? It never stopped Jack coming after me," he replies with a twinkle in his eye and she giggles.

Oh, it's like that is it? I send Carter out because I've got a bone to pick with Daniel.

"Me coming after you? I didn't. I was the model of propriety. Bear in mind that night we got together? I never said a word. I just showed you a picture. You kissed me. Then sort of flung yourself all over me and later blew my brains out."

"So I did. Don't remember you beating me off with a large stick or anything."


"I could answer that, Daniel, but I'd be falling into an obvious trap. Anyway, talking of beating off large sticks?"

"Uh huh, flyboy, time to get up. We're arriving soon."

"Not even a quickie?"

"When are they ever? You have to wake me up an hour before we need to get up for a 'scheduled' quickie at home. Anything less than an hour isn't worth it."

Oh boy, throw down the gauntlet, why don't you? I pin him to the bed, his glistening eyes tell me that this is what he wanted all along as I lay myself on top of him.

"How come I always end up where you want me?"

"I refuse to answer that on the grounds it might incriminate me."

Damn Fifth has a lot to answer for. Ah, what the heck? I've got a naked linguist underneath me, I am not letting this go to waste. This beats a hundred sit ups in the morning any day.

We've arrived, we've landed in the desert- still cloaked - and Qabil has sneaked out to check things out. He could be gone for some time. So, we're in the unenviable position of having to wait. The various crack squads we've got are exercising, running up and down the corridors, working out, wrestling, what have you. And SG-1?

"Jack, I'm too freaking old to do that sort of thing," Daniel complains as he rests against a wall. "So are you. That's why we retired, remember?"

Carter's got her laptop out, at least she's doing something useful.

"Carter? What scientific wonder are you working on now?"

"Um, er..."

"Tomb Raider 4," Daniel howls.


Teal'c's meditating - making the most of the rest, I think. And me? I'm bored. Pacing up and down like an idiot.

"Daniel!" It's Jacob. "What on earth have you been getting Qabil to read?"

"Oh. Um, Ancient Evenings," he says quietly.

"Norman Mailer?" I hoot. "Is that suitable reading for someone as young as him?"

Young? He's thousands of years old.

"Yeah, well, we were talking about literature and I mentioned it and he said he'd like to read it. Of course, I had to teach him how to read English first, but as he already spoke the language he picked it up very quickly. Why, Jacob, has it caused any trouble?"

"No, but he occasionally asks me what a particular word means. Most of them are words I wouldn't even have used in the barracks. Trouble is, he asks me when there are women around. I'm no prude but still, you can't explain things like that, not in public."

Daniel's sniggering. It's a work of erotic fiction based in Ancient Egypt. Not heterosexual fiction either - at least not all of it. Git.

I'm not sure if I'm enjoying this or bored stiff. We're sitting on the floor and Daniel has decided that snuggling up and using my shoulder as a head rest is a 'good thing'. The teasing we're getting from the others might be taking the edge off my enjoyment of this.

"General, I never thought I'd see the day," Johannsen calls out. Loudmouth.

"Sergeant, I never thought you'd live this long. Keep up the smart remarks and you won't live much longer."

I'm just glad Ferretti's not here. Oy. I'd never live it down.

There's a noise - oh, it's Qabil. He's back. Hasana rushes up to him and hugs him.

"How did it go? What did you find?" Daniel's up on his feet and questioning him closely.

It is Thoth all right, Daniel - they call the planet Eshmunen.

That figures, it was one of the cult centres of Thoth. What? I do listen to Daniel. Sometimes.

He is not as popular as you would expect. He has the population in real slavery here, they mine and build all the time. A few well-placed words and we could fairly easily incite a rebellion. The Jaffa here are few in number, less than fifty as far as I can tell, but the ones I have seen are brutal. They act as overseers and are free with the whip. The people are miserable. We have to help them.

"Daniel, how are they getting baby Goa'uld for the Jaffa?" Sam asks. Good question.

"Ma'at?" he asks the Tok'ra, getting a nod in return.

"Another of the better Egyptian gods. How these parasites dare to name themselves after them is beyond me."

Oh fuck, he's off on one of his academic rants, stomping around the place and yelling invectives at the whole Goa'uld societal structure. The other teams are open-mouthed at what's coming out and they're giving him a wide berth. Qabil is laughing his ass off. I'd better get him out of this. I go up to him and put my hand on his shoulder. He snaps around and is just about to yell at me when he stops, grins and says,

"Come on, we've got a rebellion to start."

The other teams now know what we want them to do. We do not want the snakes escaping. As far as we can tell, from scans that we did in orbit, there are no ships here, so the gate is the only way off the planet. I'm sending the special ops guys with the Royal Marines to take it - only destroying it if necessary. Jacob's going to lead them. I want the others to stick around for the moment, reserve troops as it were. I've briefed them as to what I want them all to do and they're all ready. So, now it's time to get dressed.

Daniel and Sam have disappeared off together to get ready, leaving Teal'c and me to get our robes on. I'm going in armed, we've found places in the copious robes to stash zats and knives. I'm not taking guns, a P90 or MP5 would be too big to conceal and the pistols aren't much use against armour-covered Jaffa.

Ugh. I have to put sandals on. Haven't worn sandals since I was a kid - not willingly anyway.

Kadim and Hasana have just come into the room, all dressed up in Goa'uld finery. Hasana is - wow - um, sheesh, a goddess would be the only way to describe her. White robes (all of our clothes are white, a symbol of high status in Ancient Egypt according to Daniel), but with coloured threads running through it. Purples, silver, blues, greens - it shimmers as she moves.

"Kadim, you are one lucky guy," I tell him, not taking my eyes off his mate.

"That's what Daniel told me too. I think I'd better keep an eye on you two," he laughs back.

Hell, neither of us would stand a chance with her, she's nuts about Kadim.

We've gone out into the main room, waiting with the other teams before we leave the Rascal together. We're trying to open the door as few times as possible, because even though we're away from the town we can't take any chances on being seen.

"Laugh and I'll kill you where you stand, O'Neill," Daniel growls as he steps out.

I'm not laughing - honest. And I am so glad these robes are roomy.

Sam's wearing the white robe of earlier. It does up on one shoulder with a very decorative clasp. It barely covers her chest and then ties around the waist with a royal-blue silk band, gold threads are embroidered throughout it. The skirt of it doesn't join at all up the sides, allowing us to see her long legs as she moves. Around her neck is one of those solid necklaces - hell, Daniel did tell me what it was called and I can't remember. It'll come. It's gold and filled with precious and semiprecious stones. Amethyst, lapis lazuli, onyx, more stones than I can imagine. She has gold, ivory and onyx bracelets all the way up her arms to her elbows, her fingers are full of rings and she's wearing dangly earrings. Her face has very precise make-up on, Daniel must have done it for her. Where did he learn to put make-up on? Is there something he hasn't told me? I'm gonna have words with him later. The upshot of the make-up is that she looks paler than before, quite delicate, and her eyes are looking bluer than I've ever seen them.

"Sam. You look, er, shi-it I'm lost for words here. Princess, that's the best I can come up with."

She flashes me a nervous smile.

"Thanks, I think. I've never felt more vulnerable, I can tell you. I can't even carry a knife."

Always the soldier.

Daniel, on the other hand, looks born to this. He's wearing the 'dress'. It's not really a dress. It's a skirt with a top built in. At least his Corps tattoo is hidden. It's white too, but he has a leather belt. No clasp on his shoulder, the material just drapes over and comes down one side. Most of his chest is exposed, showing up his hard-won muscles. His arm tattoo is in evidence, something that will add to the question of 'what the fuck is he?' I think. He has make-up on too (no glasses of course). A smoky-grey eyeshadow for want of a better description and a jet-black kohl eyeliner make his blue eyes shine. Azure, I think would describe them. I'm glad he hasn't cut his hair since the knifing incident three months back, his quick-growing hair is already covering his nape. Just as well. I doubt I could have taken that as well. He's got jewellery too, the earrings aren't bothering him at all, but he's fussing with the necklace thing and the bracelets. Can't blame him. His navel is exposed. I notice he's got his own stud in there.

He hands me a parasol - saying that I'm going to have to keep him covered.

"Jack, it's a practical thing as well as for show," he nags. "You know what will happen if I step into the sun like this. I can't turn up at the palace bright pink. Hasana will have to do the same for Sam."

"Why Hasana?" Hasana asks.

"Because Teal'c will need his hands free for the staff weapon, and you are going to have to pretend to attend Sam. It has to be you."

One of the spec ops guys is sniggering at us and how we look. Daniel's got a mean look on his face.

"Jack? How would you consider releasing your old team from their duties so they can carry Sam and me there? We have some of those costumes, you know, the leather thongs with the skirt flaps. No tops of course. The leather sandals with the straps that do up along the calf, too. There's a sedan chair in the stores, just like the one Apophis used to use. Perhaps that would be more fitting to our status. What do you think?"

The spec ops guys are quiet now. Daniel's an evil bastard.

Ok-ay, I am officially scared. How the fuck am I going to pull this off? You'd think I'd learn about opening my mouth and telling people about my stupid ideas. We're approaching the town, our chatter has ceased. People are lining the streets. Nobody is looking us in the eye - they think we're gods or I'm a pharaoh or something. Some of them are kneeling, their heads touching the floor as we pass by them. Kadim took the parasol from Jack and sent him up front with Teal'c. They're clearing the way in front of us. It was decided that Jack should have a staff weapon too. Nice touch, he's back in warrior mode.

There's a river running down the side of the town, reed beds populating the edges. It looks for all the world like an Ancient Egyptian city along the Nile. Thebes maybe. There's a necropolis on the opposite edge of the bank. I'm guessing it's the West Bank. Can't tell here though. It shines in the sun, the white marble is so bright that you can't look at it in direct sunlight. It's like going back in time. Barques litter the water, some are carrying marble and stone, some are merchantmen, their captains plying their trade as they call out to passing boats.

Feluccas dart between them, the passengers buying the goods from the water market. I wish I could spend more time here. I ask Qabil what he thinks.

It takes me back, Daniel, it is just as I remember. Including the smell.

Ah yes, the smell. Didn't say it was perfect, did I?

Sam and I are smiling at the people. It doesn't hurt to have them think we're nice after all. She's talking to me through gritted teeth and a plastered-on smile,

"I hate this, Daniel. It's all wrong. These people are starving."

"I know, I know. Play your role, Sam, and we'll free them as we have done elsewhere. I hate this too."

I turn to her and put my hand on her arm and she relaxes a little. I think she'd rather be in battle. Somehow, so would I.

Ah ha, we have reached our goal. The gates of the palace. The Jaffa on guard duty stop us. I don't speak, I let Teal'c do the talking for now.

"Open the gates!" he commands.

"Who are you?"

"My lord Dan-yel demands an audience with your pharaoh."

The Jaffa looks us over. Sam's looking bored, impatient and regal. I put my best pissy face on. This guy better let us in or else.

He calls back and sends a runner - to get permission I guess.

"This is unacceptable!" Teal'c calls out. "My lord and my lady should not be kept waiting by the likes of you. Open this gate immediately."

Jack's looking menacing and the Jaffa is starting to look very nervous. They have no idea how we have suddenly appeared. I doubt they've ever seen a ship, let alone know about cloaked ones. And they're bound to know we haven't come through the gate. I'm sure that Thoth will think that we've ringed down or something. Guess they don't get many visitors around here, they don't seem to know what to do with us. Good. This will help us a lot.

The runner has come back and the gate has opened. Sam and I don't even look at the Jaffa as we walk through.

We've been led to a big room. There are cushions on the cool marble floor (which is great considering the temperature outside is in the 100s) and a large low table. I'd say this is the dining room.

A fanfare of horns heralds the entry of the host - in both senses of the word. He's, well, ugly. His face is mean-spirited, pointy - nothing like the images of him. Ma'at on the other hand isn't so far off. She's delicate - slender, looks fragile. Ma'at was supposed to be a feather in Ancient Egypt so I can see why she chose this host. Very pretty.

Thoth speaks in a human voice. Have we got this wrong?

"I am Thoth. Who are you?" He's looking at Sam, has he sensed Jolinar? Teal'c's standing right next to her, so hopefully that's covering for her.

The others leave it to me to speak.

"I am Dan-yel," I use Teal'c's pronunciation, giving the emphasis on the second syllable. El - Elohim - God. Not that I'm getting delusions of grandeur I hasten to add, far from it. I wonder if Thoth understands Hebrew? It'll be wasted on him otherwise.

"This is my lady, Samantha," I point to Sam and she just inclines her head. None of us have bowed to him - we decided we wouldn't before we got here. A nod, an incline, no more. Thoth repeats the action to her.

"My personal guard," I point to Teal'c and Jack, "and our personal attendants."

Kadim and Hasana step out from behind me and also acknowledge Thoth. They're now close enough to him for Thoth to sense their symbiotes. His eyes open wide.

"You!" he points to them. "You serve this human?" He spits the last word. Oh dear. Jack and Teal'c automatically come closer, the warning being that nobody gets through them to us. I look at Kadim and nod. Qabil speaks.

I willingly serve my Lord Dan-yel, Good God. He is most kind to us.

Thoth can't believe it.

"You are human, you are not Goa'uld. How then do you have these... servants?" His voice is full of disdain for them.

"The time of the System Lords is over," I tell him calmly. "They are gone. These," I wave my hand, "wished to live. I allowed it."

My Lord Dan-yel is most merciful, Talnet says, but Hasana winks at me as she turns my way. It's as much as I can do not to laugh.

Thoth is interested in what we know now. He's inviting us to eat with him. He means Sam and me, but I wave the others to sit down either side of us. Sam sits at my right hand. Then Hasana, then Teal'c. Jack's on my left, then Kadim. Thoth's eyes are bugging out now, but I'm ignoring it.

Ma'at has said nothing, she's observing us. Food is put in front of us. Neither Sam nor myself are touching it. Teal'c and the Tok'ra eat first, testing the food. They can deal with any poisons much better. I doubt we could come up with a greater insult. We get the nod. Hasana passes food to Sam, Jack does to me. I also doubt we're following any traditional method of behaviour, but we're trying to get a point across. We're important. We also know things that this isolated Goa'uld doesn't.

"You said that all the System Lords are dead, is this the truth?"

"You call me a liar?"

I stand up, acting as insulted as I can. Jack and Teal'c spring to their feet, their body language telling Thoth to back down - NOW. What's most interesting is that his Jaffa were slow to react. They've never had to deal with outsiders, I'm sure. Good, this could be to our advantage. Jack and Teal'c haven't missed that either. Small looks between us acknowledge this.

"No, no, I apologise. I was just curious as to how this had happened. And as to how you got the First Prime of Apophis as your guard. You trust him?"

"I trust him with my lady's life. He knows what is right. The Goa'uld are parasites, no more. You may live as a pharaoh and fool your people, Thoth, but you and I both know, you are no god." I try to sound dismissive, as if the statement means little.

He splutters, ready to rebut this but I cut him down before he can interrupt.

"As for the System Lords? They are dead. I killed them," I tell him.

Okay. It wasn't me. This is something else we discussed. I was all for saying 'we' but the others said that I should take the 'glory' because that is what a snake would do and would understand.

"Which ones?" He's not so sure about me.

"Ra, Apophis, Yu, Seth, Hathor, Cronus," I look at Teal'c and grin, "Osiris, all of them." I wave my hand impatiently, "Oh, and Anubis."

His face goes white now. Anubis wasn't supposed to be around. I shouldn't even know about him.

"How did you get here?" he demands.

"We have transport," I answer carefully. We'll reveal the ship's existence only as a last resort.

"Why are you here?" still abrupt.

"I wish to determine the extent of our boundaries." I try to keep my voice calm, uninterested. It's not easy. I try to find my fingernails interesting.

"And what will you do with your neighbours?"

"That would all depend on our neighbours." I smile and raise my goblet at him. The wine's not too bad I guess.

He laughs at that, understanding my answer.

"Who are you?" he asks again.

"We are Tauri."

Whoo boy. That got a reaction. He's just getting one shock after another.

It's getting late now, the suns have set. After a lot more questioning, Thoth invites us to stay. We agree, though none of us want to, but we can't allow them to know that we have a ship nearby and that, short of going through the gate, would be the only way we would have somewhere 'suitable' to sleep tonight without staying here. He leads us to a suite of rooms.

"Your servants can sleep..."

"With us," I say. "I may have need of them later. Which is my wife's room?"

His face twitches in amusement and points one out. I kiss Sam as tenderly as I can before she 'retires' with Hasana and Teal'c.

"Goodnight, Lord Dan-yel," Thoth says. "We will discuss 'boundaries' in the morning."

"Goodnight, Lord Thoth. And thank you for your hospitality."

May as well keep him guessing.

He's gone. Not sure if we can talk though. Kadim flips up a cover on one of his rings and waves his hand around the room.

"There are no listening devices in here. I'll go and do the same to the other rooms."

Danny and I sit on the bed, then he pulls me to lie with him.

"You okay?" I ask.

"Tired, that's all. Keeping up appearances isn't easy, you know."

"You've done wonderfully, Lord Dan-yel."

He kicks my shin and then kisses me to make up for it. And kisses me some more. Hmm, he can kick me as much as he likes if he's going to make up for it like that.

"Cut it out you two."

Bugger, Carter's in here. "I've got nothing to wear to bed," she's complaining.

"Ah, that's such a good look on you darling," Daniel replies. She pokes him on the arm as he pulls her to lie on the bed too. There's room for the other three if they want to join us. It's huge.

"Why did you ask Thoth for the other room?" she asks.

"Because if he sends any servants in here in the morning, he won't be surprised when the news gets back that Jack's in bed with me. Okay? By the way, are there beds for you lot, or are we all sharing?"

"There is another bedroom to the side, Daniel," Teal'c says. "I am in no need of one."

"You can come in my room, Teal'c, you won't want to be in here with those two at night," Sam laughs.

"Hey! You shared enough tents with the two of us," Daniel points out.

"For warmth," she says smugly. "Besides, when the watches were over and the three of us were actually in the tent, you two would be plastered to each other."

"That is so not true. Daniel was usually plastered to you," I say.

"Yeah, what a way to wake up!" Daniel hoots. "I had a babe in my arms and a horn dog stuck to my back."

"Horn dog?" Kadim asks.

"Yeah," snickers Daniel.

"Don't ask. And I wasn't."

This time Carter and Teal'c laugh.

"Teal'c, don't tell me you had to put up with the early morning orgy?" Kadim all but howls.

"Indeed not. I was safe in the sanctuary of my own tent or on watch. I was most fortunate."

Enough of this.

"So, what do you lot think of our host?" I ask.

"Curious," Carter says. "He wants to see how much influence he can have over us."

"He is dangerous," says Teal'c. "I believe he wishes to retake his place among the System Lords."

"He's not the most dangerous one," Daniel adds.

"He's not?" What now? Has he figured something else out?

"Uh, huh, it's Ma'at. Don't take your eyes off her, Jack. She looks fragile, but I'd say she's more dangerous than Hathor."

"Radar?" I ask. He nods. Okay, I'll bite.

I order everyone to bed. Teal'c is actually going to go to meditate by the nearest door to the corridor, to make sure that no one comes in while we sleep. We arrange it so that the Tok'ra's bedroom is the nearest one to that door too, so we have a second line of defence. Apparently they don't need much sleep. They're going to take it in turns to stay up overnight.

Daniel escorts Sam back to her room, I don't know why, she's perfectly safe. Giggles come from there - his not hers. Huh. More giggles. Hers this time. Don't know what's worse. That or the silence that's following it.

"What were you two giggling about Daniel?" I ask as he comes back.

"Oh, make-up remover. It tickles. We were helping each other remove it. Just as well we brought the bag with all the stuff in."

Ah. Oops. Green-eyed monster threatened to rear its ugly head again there.

He's taken his clothes off, me too. Like Sam we're going to have to sleep naked.

"Daniel? You weren't wearing any underwear?"

"No, neither is Sam. It has to be reasonable Jack. Much as I will probably want to die of embarrassment if the kilt blows up, it's going to be less awkward than if they see my CK boxers. And Sam's robe is a touch see-through. Her underwear would be obvious too. So, commando."

"That is so not an image I needed, Daniel."

Bastard laughs. No nookie tonight though, not with our nearest neighbours awake and alert. Cuddles though, kisses too. Hmm. Wonder if he can be silent?

"Morning guys."

Ah crap - she's at it again. Coffee? Where did she get that?

"Sorry, Daniel, it's freeze-dried. It's either that or the local tea. Figured you'd prefer this."

"God, great, thanks Sam," he's groaning.

"Carter? Where did you get the coffee?"

"Oh, I brought it in a thermos, Sir. In the bag Hasana was carrying. You know what it's like. When we go through the gate, you bring the antihistamines and tissues, I bring the coffee."

"If you brought chocolate I'll love you forever."

"It's on the ship. Thought it would melt out here."

"Look, if you sibs have finished your mutual caffeine love fest, perhaps we can get dressed? Thank you Carter."

"Oh, yeah, of course, I'll just be..." she points her finger at the door.

"You do that."

Daniel calls that he'll be in to put their make-up on as soon as he's dressed: an image I find oddly and disturbingly arousing for some reason.

Breakfast - most important meal of the day - and a great time to plan things. Nice food too, lots of sweet fruits. It does stick in our throats a bit though, what with all the starving faces we saw in the town. However, they won't be helped if their potential liberators pass out through low blood sugar, so we eat.

"The way I see it, Jack, we have two choices. We can either launch an attack as soon as, or we can hang around, find out more. I'd like to know why they kept to themselves. Are they hiding something?" Daniel turns to the two Tok'ra.

"Do you guys know any more about them?"

"Nothing Daniel," Hasana replies. "As Teal'c said, they are thought to have disappeared hundreds of years ago. Neither of them had a good reputation, even among the Goa'uld. I don't think they were well-liked." She adds that with a laugh.

"Is it just me, or are the rest of you feeling sleepy?" I ask.

"Me too," says Daniel yawning.

"Oh crap - did you guys test the food?" I ask Teal'c and the Tok'ra.

"No, we thought we'd made our point yesterday."

"They called our bluff, didn't they?" asks Sam as she starts to drop off.

Fuck it - we've been drugged.

"Welcome back to the land of the living, Lord Dan-yel."

We're in some sort of hall or meeting room. I squeeze my eyes as I wake up and look around. SG-1 are here, but no Tok'ra. Daniel's picked up on that too. So much for our plans.

"Where are my people?" he demands. "Why did you drug us?"

"Your people are elsewhere at the moment, talking to my Queen. We did not drug you. Certain foods have a narcotic effect on those not used to them. We brought you out here to recover where we could watch over you - for your safety's sake. I should have warned you about the fruit. I apologise."

I'll bet. And as for the Tok'ra, they're in trouble. I can feel it in my gut. As surreptitiously as I can I check out my robes. They've got my zat. Dammit. Ah, didn't find my knife though. That's fortunate. Thoth's posturing as he stands in front of us. The four of us have remained on the floor. I look at them, my eyes telling them to play this as calmly as possible.

"I'd like to see them," Daniel says quietly but firmly. "Now."

"All in good time, you will be joining them soon. In the meantime I would like to see how you deal with criminals on your world."

He obviously wants to test us - though why? I don't know. Perhaps he wants to determine how we react to certain situations? Maybe it's something to do with Thoth's (the actual god's) status as judge of the souls of the dead? Who knows? All I do know is that Daniel's going to have to get this back under his control - and soon. I have faith in him.

Thoth snaps his fingers and a man is brought in. His head is held high - giving off an air of defiance, but in reality he's crapping himself. He reminds me of Skaara for some reason.

"This man was caught stealing. How would you punish him?"

Daniel stands up and signals for the man to be brought before him.

"What did you steal?"

The man looks at Daniel, stares into his eyes and catches his breath. Daniel was right. Blue eyes aren't seen here. It's affecting the wretch. Daniel once told me that some of the pharaohs were said to have had blue eyes, especially the ones that became gods. I wonder if the man thinks that Daniel's some sort of god. I do - but that's hardly surprising.

"Bread, Great One," he says, hitting his head on the floor in front of him. That sort of thing normally gets Daniel picking people up and insisting that he isn't a god, but he's playing a careful role here. He has to, lives depend on it.

"Look at me," he commands. "Why did you steal bread? Tell me the truth - the whole truth."

"My child, she starves, oh Lord." She's not the only one, he's thinner than Danny was when we first met. A lot thinner.

"Do you work?"

"I do. I work as a mason, my God."

"Do you not get paid? Get rations? Do you waste your money on women? On drink?" Daniel sounds harsh, accusing even.

"NO! No, Wondrous Lord, I do not. I take all my wages and rations home."

"So, why did you steal the bread? You may speak freely." Daniel's tone has gentled. The man is starting to believe in him I think.

"The overseer, Great One, he takes part of our rations."

"Does he do this a lot?" More gentle questioning, the thief is enchanted by him.

"Yes, every day. He takes part of our wages and feasts while his workers starve."

I can see Daniel's back is up. This could be interesting.

"Bring the overseer," he instructs a Jaffa. The Jaffa looks to Thoth, who gives a cautious nod.

"Do you believe the word of this slave?" he asks Daniel.

"I will make up my mind when I see the overseer. If he is guilty as charged, do you give me permission to punish him as I see fit?"

A sickly grin spreads over Thoth's face and he nods. He thinks he's got Daniel where he wants him. He's assuming that Daniel's going to be a pushover when it comes to justice. He doesn't know Danny, does he? Daniel steps down and lifts the face of the slave. Looking closely you can see scars on his face, his neck, in fact wherever there is bare skin.

"Does he whip you frequently?" Daniel asks quietly.

"Oh yes, My Lord, every day. If he thinks that we do not work hard enough."

"Do you work hard?" Daniel's smiling softly at him. Damn - the master is at work again. I think he's getting another follower.

"All day, Great One."

"I believe you," Daniel whispers. "If you have told me the whole truth, you have nothing to fear."

The poor man strikes his head on the floor again and stays there. He has complete respect for Daniel now, I can feel it. I look to Teal'c. He's picked up on the mood too. He's patted himself down and found no weapon apart from his own knife. I wonder how they missed them? Perhaps they didn't think them a threat against their own weapons. Carter is furious. She's unarmed.

There's a commotion as the overseer is brought in. That's the first fat Jaffa I have ever seen. He must eat all day to get like that given that a symbiote is supposed to regulate their weight. He's everything you could expect to hate in a man. Arrogant, slimy, smelly - just gross. I've got nothing against the overweight, but this guy has been feeding himself at the expense of the starving. Kids for fuck's sake. How many have starved to death while this pig gorges himself?

The overseer sees Thoth and prostrates himself and then gets up with difficulty. Then he looks at Daniel and sneers.

"YOU!" Daniel calls out, his voice ringing throughout the hall. He's good at this, the guy's eyes have widened. "You steal!"

"I do not!" He's lying. You can tell he's lying.

"You lie. You steal. You get fat while your honest workers starve. What do you have to say for yourself?"

"Does this scum accuse me? I will kill him!"

"I think you've missed the point," Daniel says quietly.

I know that stance. He's never more dangerous than when he's like this.

"I am going to kill you. You steal, you lie, you mistreat your workers, you cheat your god." That last bit is added for dramatic effect I think, but Daniel's called him right. He does cheat Thoth. Woo hoo, got the slob.

The rat bastard is whining, smacking his head on the floor, begging for forgiveness, but we can't do that.

Daniel speaks to the worker.

"Go. Tell your people that the overseer will bother you no more. Share the rations equally and fairly. Feed your children."

Then he whispers something to him and the man's eyes open wide. He smiles a little and runs for it.

Thoth's mouth is open. He's gonna see justice, Danny style, and not the lenience that he expected, I think. Daniel strides over to a Jaffa and demands his zat. Thoth hasn't quite cottoned on to what's going on in Daniel's mind yet. He can only see the initial event, which is going to be our signal to move. I flip the cover on the ring I have - similar to the one Kadim has, but mine's a Tok'ra communicator.

Daniel takes the zat and turns to the overseer. I give the signal. He zats him twice and then quickly turns on his heel and zats the Jaffa he disarmed before he can react. Teal'c takes out the next nearest one with his knife and I throw my knife at Thoth. Straight through the throat. Daniel dives to avoid a staff blast and fires at the last Jaffa in the room. Then he lets me get my knife out of Thoth and zats him till he disappears.

"We have to find Kadim and Hasana!" Daniel yells.

"Carter, Teal'c, you go that way, Daniel with me - we'll head that way. Communicators open." We grab as many zats and staff weapons as we can and head off.

Explosions go off around the town. Good, part two of my plan is in action. The Commandos and Spetznaz guys are blowing every Jaffa stronghold, including the Goa'uld incubator - I hope. They should have been setting explosives all around the town overnight. It should cause confusion and help us. The RMs and the spec ops teams are taking the gate with Jake in command. So far, so good.

People are running through the palace, Daniel grabs one, jabbering to them in Abydonian - a very similar dialect to what's spoken here apparently - and getting directions.

"Ma'at's in the cells!" he calls and takes off down the corridor. I'm hot on his heels.

We have to fight our way through the crowd, having the advantage over the oncoming Jaffa in that we're expecting them and we know what's going on when they don't. We have to kill eight before we reach a corner where we grind to a halt. There are two Jaffa on guard outside a door. This has to be it. I look to Daniel, count down from three and we burst into the corridor and take out the Jaffa before they even know what's hit them.

I kick open the door. Oh fucking hell no. Ma'at's there, looking evil. Kadim and Hasana are chained to a wall, very badly injured. They've both lost lots of blood. Daniel zats Ma'at, three times to make sure and then helps me get them off the wall.

"Qabil, Talnet, can you help them?" he begs.

Qabil answers, he sounds weak.

No. We have been tortured, Daniel, beyond our capabilities to repair our friends.

"How about a sarcophagus?" I ask. "I know you won't use them, but surely once won't hurt - to fix you all."

We cannot, Talnet answers, it is the start of a downward spiral. A symbiote can become addicted after just one use. We would rather die. As would our most loyal of hosts.

"Daniel?" it's Kadim. "My friend. Please. You know what must be done. You know I wouldn't ask this of you unless it was necessary."


We've met up with Sam and Teal'c again and explained about the Tok'ra. There are no more Jaffa in the palace. Jack's been in communication with the other teams. Jacob says they've taken the gate and it's intact. Good. The other teams are rounding up the stray Jaffa in the town. The people are motivated and they're helping us. They've had enough. Kadim's reading of their mood was spot on. They were ripe for rebellion. The four of us head out.

A crowd is gathering outside the palace. I'm going to have to speak to them in their language.

I find a rock and stand on it, raise my hand and they fall silent. I wish I could get Jack to be quiet this easily.

*Thoth and Ma'at are dead.* I say. Murmurs run through the crowd so I raise my hand again. Hee hee, I could get used to this.

*Where are your elders?*

An old man steps forward.

*I am Nibal, the oldest one, Great God. What would you of me?*

I speak directly to him, I'm too tired to shout now.

*I am no god. I am a man, as you. I come from a different place, a different planet. My people and I fight the Goa'uld. They are parasites, not gods. We are winning our war. But, we need allies, friends to accomplish this. Will your people be our friends?*

He's a touch stunned by this.

*What would you require of us? Men for an army? We are not soldiers.*

*No. Just be our friends,* I tell him. *Having friends is a lot better than having enemies. If we have people we can call friend, we have no need to war. May we visit you? In peace?*

*You and your friends will be welcomed here, Sire. You call yourself friend of our people? Then, we are friends of yours. You have freed us from slavery. No more could you have done to prove your friendship. Our homes are your homes.*

*Then that is good. I have friends, family, on another planet called Abydos. Years ago we helped them rebel against Ra. They have had freedom for nine years now. I would ask some of them to visit you? To assist you in rebuilding your home?*

*They will be most welcome. Abydos you say? They are of us?*

*They are. I am speaking in their tongue.*

*Then they too are our friends, our families. Tell them please to visit us.*

*I will. I promise. I must take our dead home now. As soon as we can we will send emissaries through the Chappa'ai from our world. They will also help. Maybe to improve your medicine, farming and water supplies? Would you like that?*

He smiles, a huge smile that takes over his face. Then he turns and relays what I have just said to his people. They cry out, cheering and yelling their approval.

*Then they will come soon. What would you do with the Jaffa that remain?*

*We do not know, Lord.*

*Please, call me Daniel. I am no lord.*

*But your eyes...*

*My ancestors come from a place where blue eyes are commonplace. To see dark eyes as your own once would have been as rare as for you to see mine. It is a colour. No more.*

*You are not a commonplace man, I feel.*

*Thank you. You pay me a great compliment. We must go now and take our friends to their final resting place. We will take the Jaffa with us.*

*I understand. I would thank you for freeing us, but I feel that thanks would be insufficient.*

*Just be our friends and let us go in peace. That is all the thanks we need.*

He lets us go back into the palace. The servants are coming out of the woodwork now. I send some off to fetch some sheets. We wrap Kadim and Hasana in them. We fulfilled their last requests of us. All of them. They died together, in each other's arms. We bind the sheets around them, holding them together. A litter is found and we gently place the bodies on it. The four of us each take a corner and carry our friends out of their hellhole and back to the ship.

The people line the route. The ship is decloaked now. Whispers of 'magic' ripple through the crowd. The crowd parts in front of us. Cries and ululations rend the air as they pay their respects to the strangers that died to free them.


It's Nibal.


*The names of your friends. What were they?*

*Kadim and Hasana. Kadim came from Abydos. He was a good man, brave and true. Hasana came from a different planet. A woman of great beauty, bravery, humour and intelligence. I shall miss them both.*

*Their names will be revered among the people of Eshmunen. They shall never be forgotten. You have my word.*

*Then they will live forever. I thank you.*

Daniel is not a happy camper. We've brought the bodies on board and we're waiting for the other teams to come back before we decide on our next move.

"Fuck!" he yells and storms around. "Why? Why, Jack? Why did they have to die such a pointless fucking death? They were tortured! Have you any idea how badly they had to have been tortured for Qabil and Talnet not to be able to heal them?"

Some of the soldiers are coming in now - wisely staying out of the way. Some of them lead the Jaffa to the cells. We'll decide what to do with them later. I know what this is with Daniel. He's devastated by the loss of his friends again - and our feelings for them are, er, magnified at the moment; but he had to kill - in cold blood. Killing in battle is one thing, but to kill a defenceless man - no matter how much the slimy bastard had it coming - well, he doesn't deal with it very well.

"Danny, please, there was nothing we could do. We freed a people, Daniel. The only people that died were those that deserved it - apart from Kadim and Hasana, of course. You know I'd give anything to get those two back but I can't. You can't. Please Daniel, calm down."

Crap, I shouldn't have said that.

"WHAT??? Calm down? I've just lost two more friends to those bastards. How many more am I going to lose, Jack? How many more people will die because of those creatures?"

His face is red now, he looks like he's going to burst a blood vessel. I grab him, hold him tightly in my arms. He's so strong that it's taking all of my strength to keep him close. He's fighting me with every breath. I catch one of the soldiers looking at us, his eyes offering help while his face shows his sadness. Daniel's losses are well known throughout the SGC. He feels for him, I can tell. I just give him a small shake of my head. I can deal. I've done it before.

"Danny, come on, let's go to our room, huh? I know what you've gone through, I'm going through the same thing too, aren't I? This is strange for us both. Hard for us both. Please Daniel."

He stops fighting me and looks into my eyes. His are full of tears. Mine are going that way. We can deal with this together. He accepts that now. Neither of us expected things to turn out the way they did - neither of us wanted to carry out the last requests - but we had to so we did. We'll live with the consequences.

I lead him to our room. He rips off his clothes, hating them and what they stand for. The jewellery gets thrown into a box and he washes the make-up off his face. Slowly, I undress too. He was right about the robes, I really did appreciate them. It was hot there.

"Bed, now. We both need to rest, Daniel."

"Rest? I don't want to rest."

"What do you want to do?"


O-kay. I think I can manage that. He grabs some lube from his bag and throws it at me. Ah. No foreplay fun, eh Danny? Hard and fast, bruising even. To what? Give you another pain to help take away the one in your heart? Shit. I understand this but I hate it. However, he needs it. He's lying face down, his head buried in the pillow. I prepare him as quickly as I can, he relaxes to my touch, forcing his muscles to give. I'd ask him if he was sure he wanted this but I doubt I'd survive the tirade.

"Please Jack," he begs.

Sure thing baby. You want this, you've got this. Jeez, I get so used to him, so used to the sensations, then sometimes - usually after something traumatic - it's like the first time. So hot, so fucking tight. I'm in. Don't hang around, O'Neill, he doesn't want that. Give him what he wants. You want harder baby? You got it. You want faster. Couldn't go any faster if I wanted to. I grab his dick, working him furiously as I slam into him. He's surprisingly quiet, though his breathing tells me that he's getting what he needs from this. I feel him stiffen in my hand and he comes hard, moaning at his relief. It pushes me over the edge and I collapse onto his back, exhausted by my efforts.


"Uh, huh?"

"Gerroff, you're heavy."


I roll off him and he turns over. I can see that his face is streaked with tears. Mine too. We pull a cover over us and hold on to each other tightly. I need a nap.

I've left Daniel sleeping. This whole episode has taken a lot out of him. Jacob is back, I think that Carter has filled him in with the news. He puts his hand on my shoulder and squeezes it.

"Are you all right, Jack? Is Daniel?"

"We're okay. He's sleeping now, he needs the rest. I'm so sorry about Hasana and Kadim, they didn't deserve that."

"Sam told me what you did. Thank you. We'll help you out as soon as we can, Jack, I promise."

"It's okay - we're dealing with it, honestly. But we will need you to help. First we need to find out what to do with the Jaffa and then we need to take Kadim and Hasana to Abydos. I think we should send the teams back through the gate. They can go back to the SGC and let Hammond know what went down here. We need to get food aid here quickly. The children are severely malnourished. I want to see doctors here as soon as possible. We can send some engineers out here to build sewage systems and build wells and stuff. It's going to have to be done quickly, Jake."

"Good idea. Okay, I'll organise it. We could send the Jaffa through with them too. George can hold them there until we return. It will help the people here to see the Jaffa leave I think."

He goes off, in general mode, and organises that. I'm glad. I don't want to think.

"Hey, Jack, are you coping?" Sam's come up to me and she's giving me a hug.

"Yeah, I'm coping. You were fantastic today. I know how hard it is for you to play the 'little woman' role, but if you hadn't we'd have been stuffed. It was very brave of you to go in unarmed. I'm proud of you."

She looks up at me, tears in her eyes.

"Shit, Sam. I don't tell you that often enough, I know. But I've always been proud of you. You're a brilliant scientist but I've never had a better second."

"O'Neill," it's Teal'c. "Today is a great day. My deepest sympathies for the loss of Hasana and Kadim. They were exceedingly brave. However, their loss was for a noble cause. The galaxy is a safer place now and the people of this planet will sleep tonight as free men. There is no greater calling."

"Thanks Teal'c. However, they died as a result of a snake's perverted pleasure in torture. They told us what happened before they died. It made us sick."

"General, General O'Neill, Dr. Jackson is screaming!" One of the soldiers has come running to me. Shit. Nightmare.

"Thanks," I yell as I take off.

I crash through the door and dive on the bed. Daniel's thrashing about, screaming in Arabic. Fuck, it's a bad one. I know some of those words, I've heard them before. He's reliving the torture of Kadim. I have got to get him out of this now.

"Daniel. Danny come on, wake up! Now dammit. Come on babe, it's time to snap out of this."

I resort to shaking him. His eyes snap open, he's shaking like a leaf. I grab him and hold him tight. He holds me equally hard. I'm not sure I can breathe. Crap, this is bad.

"Jack? I saw what she did to him. They didn't say anything, they kept the secret. They should have said, they may have lived. It wouldn't have mattered, we would have won anyway. They didn't have to die, Jack, they didn't have to die."

Oh God. It's going to make it harder to get over this, isn't it?

"Daniel. Listen to me! They didn't know. They had no idea whether we were alive or dead. All they knew was that they woke up and were being tortured. They couldn't tell. If she had found out that they were Tok'ra and we had all been dead or captured she may have found out about the Alpha Site. They couldn't let her know. They had no way of knowing that we would get there for them."

He studies my face for a minute and decides that I'm telling him the truth as I know it. Then he relaxes his grip and I get to breathe properly.

We've arrived on Abydos. Jacob went with the teams and the Jaffa in the end. He's going to help organise the aid. He's not going to tell George everything that happened on the planet, but he's going to do the military debriefing and explain where we are. We were going to land the ship, but we didn't want to scare the people. So, we ring down and scare the guys in the gate room instead.

"DAN'YEL!" It's Skaara, obviously his day to be on duty in here.

"Hey Skaara, you okay?"

"Good, good. Shau're will be pleased to see you. Father has found her a husband. He's a good man, Dan'yel, you will be happy for her, ne?"

"Is she happy, Skaara?"

"Most happy, my brother. He has good rank and status. He will one day be head of his clan."

"Then I am happy for her. We have sad news. Kadim, you remember him from the Tok'ra?"

"I do. He is a good man."

"Was, Skaara. He died to free a planet from the slavery of the Goa'uld. A planet just like this one. I'm hoping that Abydos and Eshmunen will become friends. We have brought Kadim and his mate here to be buried with the ancestors."

"Then come and see our father, Dan'yel. We will give them a service fit for the gods."

I'm glad to be back at the SGC. The last few days have been traumatic to say the least. I know that the trauma isn't going to be over anytime soon. The little voice in the back of my mind keeps pointing this out.

"Welcome home, SG-1. Well done. An excellent job. You'll be pleased to know that a medical team along with a Tok'ra interpreter have already left for Eshmunen. We had a report back earlier today and food aid is being prepared as we speak. I'm sorry for the loss of your friends. I know that of the Tok'ra, Kadim and Hasana and their symbiotes were among the closest to you."

"Ah, yes, Sir. We need to speak to you about that," says Jack.

"Oh? Well, go to the infirmary and then we'll meet in the briefing room."

"Um, General, we should speak first. It's important. We wouldn't ask this of you unless it was," I add.

"If you think it's necessary. Come on then, let's get started."

The four of us traipse off to the briefing room, saying nothing. George is worried about us, I can tell. Mom's here, in the corridor as we leave the gate room. Jack gives her a hug. Hell, we all do.

"Come with us, Mom," Jack says quietly.

She gives him a hard look and then nods without a word.

"So, Jack, what's this all about?" George asks.

Jack gets up, turns off the cameras, dismisses the airman and then sits back down.

"Sorry George, we, er..."

His head bows.

General Hammond. I am Talnet. Jack kindly offered himself as a temporary host when Hasana was dying. There was no option, I can assure you. The only alternative was my death. Hasana made this her last request and Jack agreed. It is only a temporary arrangement, until a more suitable host can be found. Given our current circumstances, it would not do for him to be my permanent host. No matter how fond I already am of him.

Stunned looks on the other side of the table. I put my hand of Jack's arm and he puts his hand over it, giving me a squeeze. Jack was known as the man least likely to agree to this, but over the last couple of years we've got to know Talnet very well, and Jack adored Hasana. He couldn't turn her down.

George looks at me. I know what's coming. I think he may do too.

"Daniel, are you all right with this?" he asks gently.

Daniel is fine with this, General. I'm Qabil, by the way, though I'm sure you guessed that. Again, this is only temporary, much as Daniel and I are friends.

He lets me speak. Encourages me to, in fact.

"It's okay, George, I'm okay with it, honestly. I know you wouldn't expect either of us to agree to this, but we couldn't leave them. We're getting used to this now, both of us. Qabil and Talnet are going to be pretty quiet for a while. They were so close to their last hosts, they loved them so much. And to lose them to torture, well, it's more traumatic than old age, for example. They were both damaged too, so it's going to be a little while before they recover enough to leave us. Not too long, but it will be a while before they get enough strength to transfer to another host. Not to mention the fact that we have to find willing hosts for them. They would prefer a married couple, or at least two who are connected, as Jack and I are."

"You sound like you are the perfect hosts for them, Daniel. Are you sure they won't try to persuade you to let them stay?"

Jack speaks.

"No, Sir, they won't. Talnet and Qabil are field operatives. Daniel and I have responsibilities to the Alpha Site. It's our baby now, we want to get the place up and running. We have conflicting jobs with the symbiotes. They are happy for us to stay and do our jobs while they recover, but they will have to get out to do their own jobs before too long. They are both infiltration experts and their knowledge is needed. Think of them being with us as giving them a holiday. And don't worry about them knowing things. They and Kadim and Hasana were prepared to allow themselves to be tortured to death rather than to give away our true purpose on Eshmunen. They are not security risks. You have my guarantee."

George thinks for a while and then nods.

"Go and get yourselves checked over, though I suppose you are fine. Try not to tell too many people about this, I think it would be best kept quiet. Mary, it may be a good idea if you were to talk to them under doctor's privilege?"

"Of course, George. Boys, I'll be over tonight. You will talk to me."

"Yes Mom," we chorus.

"Sam, Teal'c, are you all right, darlings?" she asks.

"We're fine," Sam replies. "Tired but fine. We didn't see what they saw."

"If you need me, you know where I am," she insists.

We head down to the infirmary, but insist that Jan is the one to deal with us, and in a room without cameras. She's shocked by the revelation, but she promises to keep it quiet.

Qabil is chatting to me in my head. It's crazy, but I'm getting used to it. The first day or so was hard, so he stayed quiet. He needed to sleep anyway, he was in a lot of pain. But now, he's better - not completely, but he's getting there. So, he's returning to the Qabil that I know and, well...

//Say it Daniel, you love me really//

{Huh, as if. I was thinking 'tolerate' would be more accurate.}

The bastard laughs.

I dive into the freezer and find some meals for us, nuke them and we sit across the table from each other, Jack with a beer, me with a glass of wine, the four of us talking. We've had to make Qabil and Talnet aware that they really can't come out and talk whenever they want. They have to check with us if it's okay, first. There are only a few people who can be trusted completely to keep the secret. Sam and Teal'c, goes without saying. George, Mom and Janet - ditto. Ferretti, Paul, Josh and my gang too. They'd never give us away. I dare say that most of the base would be fine, but with all the trouble we've had in the past, we're keeping this one quiet. We don't want to end up kidnapped by the NID or anything. So, rather than them using their voices, they're using ours, but making our eyes flash so that the other one knows who's speaking.

Mom's over now.

"Kadim and Hasana were tortured, weren't they? How bad was it?"

"They died Mom, how bad do you think it was?" Jack's angry. Not with her and she knows it. She's got her professional hat on at the moment. "What do you want me to say? Do you want the details? How they were beaten? How they were shocked? I've been attacked with one of those sticks in the past - the pain is like nothing else. You WANT to die. They were hit with them repeatedly. They were cut; long drawn out incisions down their stomachs while they were chained to a wall."

He sits down with a bump. I'd go and hug him but I know he doesn't want to be touched, just yet.

"Talnet's not coping very well with it," he says quietly. "She's still in shock, really. That little speech in the briefing room was the most she's said since we joined. Her heart has broken. I'm not sure she wants to live."

"Tally?" Qabil is using my voice. "Hey, it's me. Come on, my heart, don't give up. Please, for me."

"Qabil?" Jack's facial expressions have been taken over by hers. "What am I going to do?"

Now, now is the time to hold each other. Our symbiotes are crying. Fuck it, we're crying too. Can't keep it in. I'm feeling what Qabil is. He misses Kadim desperately, but he loved Hasana as much as Kadim did. I'm guessing it's the same for Talnet. On top of this, Jack and I are missing our friends. Kadim and I grew quite close. Jack liked him a lot. Hasana wormed her way into his affections really quickly. Hell, she did that to everyone that met her.

Mom pours us a drink each.

"Here. Medicinal purposes. My professional opinion is that you lot should get blasted, end up in bed, and make yourselves forget for tonight. Tomorrow, things will start to look a little better. I'll tell George you need a few days off. I'll see myself out."

She gets a hug from us both and then leaves. We take her up on the suggestion.

"I didn't think that snakes could get drunk," Jack says.

"Um, they probably can if they want to," I reply. Hic. More? More. Okay. Lots more.

{Qabil? Can you get drunk?}

//Sure can, Daniel. Pour it in. We can get, um, what's a good expression?//

{Out of our skull?}

//Perfect. I'll cure your hangover in the morning. In the meantime - I want to get out of my skull.//

{It's my skull - you haven't got one}

//Picky, picky, picky.//

Whoo-ee. Who's moving the room? It's spinnin'! Babe? Where's the bed? That's it? You sure? You are? Oh, okay. Shi-it. Missed.

Got to get my clothes off. Why won't this shirt undo, Jack? Isssa sweater? Ah. Could 'splain things. Oh crap. Floor. I hate tasting carpet. Think I've eaten most of the carpets in this house at one time or other. Ne-ver mind. Can get my shoes off. Oops. No shoes. Ok-sy doksy, socks then. No socks? Could 'splain why I got cold tootsies. Wonder if Jackie's tooties are cold?

"Daniel - gerroff!"

"Spoilsport. Juss seein' if your tootsies are cold."

"You're plastered, aren't you?"

"Yasureyoubetcha. You?"

"Pretty much. What'ya doin' on the floor?"

"Dunno. Help me up?"

"'Kay, gimme your hands buddy, I'll lift. Big pull. One, two, three, woooo didn't know I was tha' strong now. Kinda like this. You're a big boy, Danny, get off me, will ya?"

"'Kay. Gonna get bigger in a minute. Look - see - bigger."

"'Snot bigger than mine."

"'Tis. Measure. See."

"Same. Same size. Made for each other." Snigger.

"Well, I got somewhere you can stick that. You interested, flyboy?"

"Whoo ya. Um, where?"

"Right about... here... hmm."


Yeah, he loves sticking it there. Heh, heh, heh.

Okay. Benefit number one of having my own snake. No hangover.

[I am not a snake.]

(Lizard then)


(Sure. I like lizards. Specially iguanas. You like iguanas?)

[Never met one]

(Woo hoo! I feel a trip to the zoo coming on!)

Benefit number two. She's fixed my knee. Knew I liked her.

Benefit number three - Daniel got up without having a coffee rammed under his nose. Admittedly he headed straight for the pot and put it on, but I didn't have to get him one. I'm wondering about keeping these two.

To tell the truth, out of all the Tok'ra, these two, maybe Selmac too, were the only ones I could have entertained having in my head. Don't tell them that though, it'll make them more insufferably smug than they are now.

[I heard that]

Oh boy. I've got me a wife.