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Settled Down 8

young at heart

Summary: Jack's feeling his age. His knee's feeling the strain and Daniel's just feeling... well, Jack. The end of the Settled Down series, I'm afraid. There's going to be a major change in their status. Hmm, I wonder what's going to happen? Contains excessive sap and uncontrollable mushiness. Tough, it's my story I can write what the fuck I like.
Thanks to Joanna, my evil henchwoman for encouragement and laughs throughout - and info from her side of the pond. You get whomever you choose to wash the dishes, darling.


Well, thank you Jack, for that eloquent foray into the world of conversation.

"What's up, Jack?"

"Oh, nothing, not really," he replies as he plants his sweet backside on my desk.

"Uh, huh?" Okay, so my eloquence quotient isn't up there with Wilde at the moment either. My stomach is just about all right now, in fact I'm going to be returning to active duty in a couple of days, but my brain is congealing, despite being allowed back to my office.

"I think I'm getting a bit old for this game, Daniel," he sighs. "I'm forty-eight years old. Most soldiers retire from the field a lot younger than this."


"Jack? Are you saying you want to retire?"

"I dunno Danny. I mean, my mind is still wanting to go out there, but my body is starting to argue the toss on a regular basis. I think I'm going to listen to it, at least retire from the field."


"Oh? Is that all you can say?"

"Sorry, I'm a little surprised. I figured you'd stick it out a while longer. I hadn't planned on giving up fieldwork just yet, that's all. But if it's what you want, then of course we'll do that."

"Crap. I forgot. Sorry Daniel, I didn't think. You don't have to give up anything for me."

"Jack, you know I won't go out there without you. The odd dig here and there is one thing but I'm not going into action without you. Don't feel bad, Jack. If you've had enough then that's it. Sam's been talking about packing it in before too long too. I guess after eight years we're all a bit tired."

Sighs all round then. He's right, we are getting too old to be running around the galaxy being chased by natives. At least these days the snake problem is pretty small, though there are rumours that parts of the internecine war are coming to a close. We really have to get out there and find out just who's taken over what. We haven't seen Jacob for a while so we're getting a bit worried about the Tok'ra. And talking of snakes I need to talk to Teal'c. I'm sure that Junior is growing up.

A knock on his door and I get the call to come in.

"Hey Teal'c, I'm not disturbing you, am I?"

"Of course not Daniel, you are always welcome here. Tell me, what is troubling you?"

"You, actually. I'm worried about you."

"May I ask why?"

"Two things, Teal'c. One, the, um, incident. Look, I want you to forget it. We did our jobs back there, and as much as I'd have done that to save you off-world, I had to do it there to keep the secret. Can we please just put it in the back of our minds."

A deep breath from him and silence before he speaks.

"Is this your wish?"

"It is."

"Then I will speak of it no more."

"Teal'c, that's not what I meant and you know it. I want you to forgive yourself or whatever it's going to take to cheer you up. You've been positively withdrawn since the event and it's upsetting me. I want you to be happy. That would make me happy. Can you do that?"

"I will try," he intones seriously.

"Do, or do not, there is no try," I scold. I get a grin from him, well it's more of a twitch but close enough. Good. That's on the way to being forgotten. Now for the next bit.

"Teal'c, how long before we have to find you a new symbiote?"

"It will be a matter of months."

"And you haven't mentioned it why?"

"You were not well enough to accompany us. SG-1 needs to be whole to function properly, as you know."

"Thank you Teal'c. I appreciate your motives, but I do not want you putting yourself at risk for my sake."

"I was not. I feel safer when the team is as one."

Wow. Big admission from the big guy. One hell of a compliment there. We chat for a while about more inconsequential things and then we head for lunch.

"Daniel! Are you fit for tonight?" Voices pierce the noise of the commissary and we both turn to face...

The Harpies. Sam and Janet are at a table, beckoning Teal'c and myself over to them. We've grabbed our food and we go and sit.

"Oh yeah, can't wait. We haven't had a party in a long time. I hope that the bar is well-stocked tonight, especially after last time, and the time before that. And, um, coming to think of it, every other time before that."

A couple of years back they gave us our own bar a few floors up, on the grounds that loads of foreign troops getting drunk in town was just asking for trouble. They even brought a bus to transport those that live off-base home. Good thinking. All the profits go to a benevolent fund for the families of the troops and civilians that die in the service of the SGC and for those that are permanently injured to take care of expenses. And we, the civilians and troops, do our damnedest to help out and make sure the profits are high. It's only right, after all. Unfortunately, every time we have a party we drink the place dry. It's happened every single time and it's becoming a point of principle now. The first one was just after I'd got my medal - I don't remember much about that night but it was bad. Good bad, but bad. Every time we think of an excuse these days we have another party. That night it was to celebrate the medal (they gave us the bar then because we'd drunk one of the town's bars dry the night before I got my medal). Tonight, it's me returning to work. Like I said, any excuse.

"So, are you going to sing?" Janet's asking.

Oh yeah, we have a sort of stage and musical instruments there too. Loads of us can play various things and sing so we take it in turns to provide the entertainment.

"Oh, I think I might be persuaded. How about you?"

"Not a chance, sugar. What are you going to sing?"

"Hmm, it's a secret. Just think on this Sam, I never did rewrite a song for you, did I?"

"You never rewrote one for Jack, either, did you?"

"No. Every time I try I just get very sappy. He'd kill me if I did that to him."

"So will I," she's growling.

"I don't get sappy over you, angel," I tell her, smiling as I do. I get a grimace in return.

I am so looking forward to tonight. We haven't had a chance to let our hair down in ages. The usual gangs are going to be there, SG-1 and the infirmary staff of course (the two always go hand-in-hand for some reason I can't quite fathom), the SAS and Marines, which should be a laugh because they're always winding each other up, and virtually the entire anthropology department. Undoubtedly the Russians will come, and quite probably some of the other nations too, they're all very fond of Daniel. SG-2 will come with Ferretti of course, can't imagine a party with Daniel where Lou doesn't turn up. He's very protective of him. So all in all it's going to be great. Daniel says he's got a little something to wind Sam up with. I can't wait. Daniel, meanwhile, is in the shower. Oh good, he's coming out.

"So, do we need to complete our ritual before going into battle, Colonel?" he's asking. Stark naked. Hnng.

"I think so," I croak.

"Standing orders?"

Meep. "Standing would be good," I squeak. Oh God - against the wall.

"Undress of the day, Sir?"

"Absolutely." Oh my, my pants have just hit the deck and so has he. He's not going to do that, is he? He is. Oh heck.

"I see that you're still at attention, Colonel. I think I'd better do something to put you at ease."

Oh. My. God.

"Are we ready for the test firing yet, Sir?"

He knows exactly what this 'Sir' thing does to me, doesn't he? Of course he does.

"I think I've got your range," he's smirking. "Fire?"

So I do.

Hmm, he's wearing my faves; the black leathers, hmm. Mine all mine all mine all mine. I don't get jealous really. Much.

"Oh God, you look gorgeous Jack," he's murmuring into my neck. Me? Ah well, I try.

Oh fuck, it's the General, he's intercepting us as we head into the bar. No.

"Dr. Jackson, Colonel O'Neill, I'm sorry to hold you up, I know how much you want to get to the party, but could you come with me a moment please?"

"Of course, General. Nothing wrong, I hope?" Better hadn't be, I want to get to the party. NOW!

"Nothing wrong, Colonel, just a little something I need Dr. Jackson for, that's all. I shan't keep you long."

Phew. I wonder what he wants with Daniel? Oh, and Janet and Sam. They're here too. What's this? A Heads of Department meeting?

"Ladies, Gentlemen, sorry about the timing of this impromptu meeting but this is quite important," he says as he motions for us to sit around the briefing room table. "It's about your 'wish lists'."

I must admit to looking a little blank about this so Daniel explains.

"We got together and wrote up wish lists of civilian scholars and scientists, Jack. People we'd want to come and work here."

Ah. Got it.

"Well," Hammond continues, "we've managed to secure the services of some of them. Not all wanted to, er, effectively disappear."

He gets mutters of 'fair enough' from the others.

"Some have agreed however, and some of those have arrived. If you'd wait a moment, we'll introduce you."

He waves to one of the airmen outside and the door opens. Some people come in and the three of them are pretty excited as they are introduced. Daniel's gone stock still. His face is a picture - he's broken out into a huge smile. He's swept a small woman up into his arms and he's swinging her around.

"Millie! Oh my God, this is wonderful!"

She seems to be as happy to see him too, but she's pointing to the doorway. Two men are standing there, Carter's mouth is open wide. What the fuck is going on?

"Mike! Andy! Wow! This is incredible." He drops 'Millie' and he's hugging the crap out of the two guys.

"Jack, c'mere. These are friends of mine from Oxford. Dr. Millie Lockwood, a microbiologist, Dr. Andy Roberts, he's a linguist too, and..."

"Dr. Mike Porter," Sam interrupts. "Um, you were on my wish list," she's explaining, blushing a little as she does.

Daniel introduces everyone and then invites all the new scientists upstairs to the party. Some are very tired and decline, but his friends agree. He's often talked about his 'gang' from Oxford and I'm guessing that these are they.

Hammond dismisses us, but he's not really heard by Daniel. I haven't seen him so excited in ages. His friends seem just as pleased to see him though.

"Jack, remember I said I was in a band - well, we're all together again," he says with a grin.

"Oh God, this doesn't mean that I have to put up with band practise in the garage, does it?"

He just grins, wrinkling his nose at me. I always want to kiss it when he does. I know he had a boyfriend back at Oxford, I wonder if one of these guys is it? Daniel can read my face, I think. He lets the girls lead the way and pulls me back to say,

"Don't worry, I wasn't ever involved with any of them. They were friends, Jack, good friends, but just good friends, okay?"

Okay. I can deal with this a lot better now.

"So, I want details," I demand as we sit at one of the tables, nursing our drinks as we do. "He won't tell me what he was like at Oxford. I've had details about Harvard and Chicago, but apart from the fact that he loved it and he was in a band he won't spill."

I'm questioning Daniel's pals, not really sure what I'm going to get out of them. They look pretty loyal to me. First thing they're doing is getting permission from Daniel. A glance to him, a slight nod in return and away to go.

"Um, well," Millie is answering, "he was, er, how can I put this?"

"Wild," suggests Andy, laughing.

"Randy," says Mike definitely.

"Rampant," adds Millie with a sigh.

I look at Daniel and he shrugs. Oh, so no different then.

"Who were you chasing after, Daniel?" I ask him with a grin.

"Anyone and everyone," Mike says. "As long as it had a pulse he'd bed it."

"That is so not true," Daniel's complaining. "They had to be adults and human. I mean, I'm all for experimentation but even I draw the line at bestiality. And you know what I am for older men," he leers.

Oh boy, do I.

"Yeah, Harrison Ford, Sean Connery..." I tease. He does that thing with his nose again and this time I do kiss it. His friends don't even blink when they see that. Guess they know him well.

Millie's telling us about a concert they once did. A couple of groupies, two female students with long legs and huge boobs, were hanging around the stage. They weren't together when they came in, but they were when they went out, with Daniel in-between them. He's not saying a word, but that look on his face says it's true.

"So, how long did you see them for, Danny?" I ask him.

"That night," he says, his mouth twitching into that naughty grin that he has. Damn, and I used to think he was so innocent. I've got a feeling that he was born wicked.

"Daniel, you said you were going to sing for Sam tonight," Janet's calling out from Teal'c's lap. Well, there aren't many seats here. I wonder if I can get him to sit on mine? Perhaps not, not after that time on the Rascal. I can only get him on my lap at home and in private.

"Sing, Daniel? What have you got planned for her?"

"Oh, a little something. Guys, do you still play?"

Mutters in the affirmative and they all head up to the stage to accompanying cheers. Daniel's got himself quite a rep for singing these days.

"Okay, first one is for my big sister. With abject apologies to Hogey Carmichael."

He's striking up a tune on the piano. Stardust Melody - oh I love this, I wonder what he's done to those lovely words?

And now the hour has come for knock-off time,
Still we find her working in her lab,
Major Carter says 'I need more time, guys,
to finish what I started fourteen days ago.'
We wander down the halls and try to think,
just what will get her out and to the town?
Sam is anchored firmly to her desk,
and it's getting us right down.

Sometimes we wonder why we spend
The endless nights
Fig'ring out a way
to take her out and get her roaring drunk,
'Cause that's such fun for us to do
When our team was new
We would do that every fortnight
Ah, but that was long ago
Now our weekly highlight
Is in the cocoa from the mess

Besides she'd beat us up
without a sweat
forming on that sweet
and lovely brow, which wrinkles to a frown
every time we say 'come on'
So we dream in vain
And in her lab she does remain
our gorgeous Major Sam,
The sexy pilot with the brains.

Ah, but that was long ago
Now our weekly highlight
Is in the cocoa from the mess

On top of Cheyenne Mount
Where stars are bright
Sam will tell us all
Of astronomy, suns and gravity
and wormhole physics till we fall
to the ground with pain
'cause our minds can't take the strain
of our stardust Major C
The lovely pilot with the brains.

Sam is bright-red. Janet's hysterical, Ed's laughing his head off - in fact most of us are. Lots of cheers too. To be honest I didn't hear the band much, I was just stunned by Daniel's voice. I know he sings well, but I've never heard him sing something that old before. He sounded like one of those old crooners; beautiful, quite beautiful.

Oh dear, Sam's heading his way. He looks both amused and slightly worried. Aw, that's sweet, she's giving him a hug, a kiss on the cheek - and now she's smacking him up the head. Yep, I'd say everything's normal in evil-twinville.

Before he can get into any more trouble he hits the keyboards again and he's playing some rock'n'roll. People are up and dancing. Millie's on drums, I didn't think she'd be able to reach, she's only five foot in her heels. Andy's on lead guitar and Mike's on bass. Considering it's been fifteen years since they played together, they're falling back into it really well indeed.

I'm shattered. The guys and I have just done a half hour set, dredging up a lot of memories for us. Not too many mistakes were made, so I think we'll pass. We've passed the instruments over to another band. Some of the soldiers got together a year or so ago. They're really good. They can do the hard work now, I need a drink.

Oops. I didn't mean to do that. I just knocked a drink over a very large, hairy Russian. Ah. I'm apologising profusely in Russian, but he's wary of me, so I guess I've gotta do what a man's gotta do. Challenge him to a vodka drinking competition.

Oh yes, challenge accepted.

Okay - glasses in front of us, we're sitting facing each other across a two-man table on stools so we can't lean back for support. Drink one. No problems. Two, three, four, five. Okay. I think we'll have to slow down soon. Trouble is with vodka, you don't realise how drunk you are until you try to stand later and then it hits you. Six, seven, eight. Wooee, goin' for the record here. I'm just glad I hadn't been drinking before. Only one large glass of JD. Ah. On top of eight vodkas. I think I'm gonna be sick in the morning. Ah well. I think that Vladimir (yes, he really is called that), my opponent, has had much more to drink before because he's starting to look a little cross-eyed. Good. This should be over soon. Another row of drinks is poured. Nine, ten, I'm really gonna hurl in the morning. I'll be as sick as a dog. Oh God. Eleven. Thank the Lord he's passed out. The geek wins. The geek now has to stand up. Not an easy task.

Oh crap. How does he get himself into situations like this? Millie told me that he used to do this with regular monotony at Oxford. Seems I've got a lot to learn about him in his younger days. *Snigger* He's trying to stand up. I think he needs some help.

Whoa big fella, let me help you. Eating the floor isn't dignified for a man in your position. Let's get you back on that stool, shall we? That's it, now come to me. Yes, standing up is a good thing, Daniel. How about we walk now? Okay? Good. Um Danny? You need to move your feet. Yes, that's it. No, not like that. Oh shit. He's left his legs behind, I've gotten hold of his arms, he's holding on to me, but as I stepped back he started leaning forward. Everyone's getting a good idea of just how flexible he really is. I take a few steps forward and push him back to verticality. Okay, now what?

"Hello babe, what are you doing here?" he smiles at me, his nose virtually on mine.

It's going to be a long night.

"Teal'c, buddy, do ya want to give me a hand here? I think we'd better go to our quarters on the base. I can't see me getting him home tonight. Not without help."

"Hey! Are you calling me fat?"

"No, Daniel. You're just a big guy and I'm getting too old for this crap. And no, T man, you don't have to remind me, I know you're over twice my age."

"I was not going to mention it, O'Neill."

"Makes a change. So, will you help?"

"Of course."

"Thank you. Shall we take an arm each or will you be able to carry him on your own? What with your advanced years and all, I wouldn't want to impose."

"I can manage, O'Neill."

"I was joking, Teal'c."

"I know."

"It is customary to at least smile to acknowledge a joke, ya know?"

He's picked Daniel up and slung him over his shoulder, much to Daniel's chagrin and accompanied by very vocal complaints.

"I was laughing on the inside," Teal'c deadpans. He's good.

"Oh God, shoot me now," Daniel's complaining.

It's morning, I've just waved a coffee under his nose and he's turned green. There's a first time for everything I guess. Time to grab him, haul him to the bathroom and stick his head down the toilet. Yep. Just in time. Will he ever learn? Probably not.

Whoo ya, nothing's left. Better get something in him now or he'll really feel bad. I give him his coffee while he sits on the bathroom floor and then head out to the commissary to pick up something to eat.

"Good morning, Jack." Oh, it's Millie.

"Hey, how are you?"

"Fine. I can't wait to find somewhere to live off base though, those cot things are uncomfortable. Where are you headed?"

"Mess. Come on, you can get something to eat."

"Oh great, I'm starving."

"I'm just getting Daniel something too, I'll take it back to our quarters. Do you want to come and see him?"

"Sure, it wouldn't be the first time I've seen him green. He drank a lot last night, didn't he?"

"Oh yeah. Just thrown most of it up too."

We grab some bacon sandwiches and head back to my quarters.

"Wow, you guys get some nice digs. How come?" Millie seems duly impressed.

"I'm second-in-command of the base and Daniel's the anthro head, so I guess it's seen as suitable for us. Besides, it's the only place with a double bed."

Daniel mumbles a 'morning' to Millie as he crawls back to bed. Then throws out another 'I want to die' and 'please, if you loved me you'd shoot me,' and then disappears under the cover.

"Daniel, I've brought you something to eat. You should you know. You're on duty in an hour."


Thank you darling, I love you too.

Millie's sitting on the bed eating her sandwich and drinking coffee, teasing the crap out of Daniel.

"So, DJ, you haven't learned then?"

"Oh God, don't start Mill, my head hurts. Besides, the number of times I had to carry you home was unbelievable. Just as well you're so small. I wasn't as strong then," he says to me by way of explanation.

I remember how skinny he was when we first met so I believe it.

"You've certainly grown," Millie laughs.

At least he's eating and drinking now, I think he's coming round.

"Wasn't Gaz on your wish list then DJ?"

"Oh yes, I could really do with a decent geophysicist. I doubt he'd want to come though."

"Who's Gaz?" I ask him and Daniel grins.

"Dr. Gareth John. He and I, um," he blushes a bit.

"Were together?" I prompt.

"The hottest pairing on campus. DJ here, while as skinny as the proverbial rake was as cute as a kitten." She's just been smacked on the head with a pillow for that. Not surprised, Daniel hates being called 'cute'. "And Gaz," she continues. "Oh boy, six four, auburn hair, the greenest eyes you've ever seen, built like a god - also known as 'sex on legs'. He was straight and Daniel seduced him."

"I did not! Oh, okay, I did. Sort of. He was interested, just hadn't ever thought of being with a guy. Well, he'd thought of it, but hadn't met a guy he wanted to be with, that's all."

"And you persuaded him that it could be good?" I ask, already knowing the answer.

"He didn't take much persuading. And he wasn't drunk before you ask, I wouldn't have done that to him. We were chatting, I asked him back to my digs, he came. Quite a few times if I remember rightly," he adds with a filthy laugh.

"You're telling me you got a straight guy in bed with no hassle?" Even knowing how gorgeous Daniel is I find that hard to believe.

"I told him right out I fancied him and asked him if I could kiss him. He already knew that I was bi, it wasn't a secret or anything, everyone knew. Anyway, as I said he was curious, probably be called 'bi-curious' these days, so he said 'yes'. Then 'YES PLEASE!' among other things."

I'll bet he did.

"So, how long have you two been together?" Millie's asking as she snuggles up under Daniel's arm. What is it with him that women feel free to do this? It's not as if he's totally gay or anything. She's grinning and comfortable, it's obviously not the first time she's done that.

"Three years next week," Daniel replies. Aw, he's smiling at me, really shyly. I love it when he's like this.

"You look happy," she says earnestly, smiling back at him. I'm guessing she's one of Daniel's loyal followers, people who really do care a great deal about him.

"I've never been happier in my life," he replies, his voice defiant as he says it.

That was for her benefit, not mine. He wasn't just saying it because I was there, I can tell. Wow. Given what little I've heard of his time with the gang and how happy he was there, not to mention I know how much he loved Abydos, that's something special.

"Millie, I'm going to be off-world, maybe for a couple of days," he says seriously. He is? Why don't I know about this? He's looking at me, the 'tell you in a minute' look. Fine. "But when we get back," he continues, "I want you and the guys to come to our house. We've got so much to catch up on it's unbelievable. That's if it's okay with you, Jack?"

"Why wouldn't it be? Of course. You're welcome anytime, Millie. You and the guys."

I get a huge grin from Danny for that and a hug from Millie. I kinda like her a lot already.

Millie's gone and I'm getting dressed, waiting for the inevitable questioning.

"So, what happened with this Gaz fella?"

"Split when I went to Chicago. Don't worry, Jack, even if he does come here I'm not going to rush into his arms or anything. You trust me with Paul, don't you?"

"Of course. I wasn't thinking that, honest." Much.

"Gareth was a great guy, we had a wonderful time together. He was a laugh, a real hoot. That was why I loved being with him and why I wanted him in the first place. Until you and I got together that was the time that I laughed the most, Jack. I spent three years there, having a childhood, I guess. I didn't have a real one."

I sit him on the bed. We've got a little while before the briefing that I've arranged with Hammond. I don't normally like to talk about my childhood but I think this might help him understand why that time was so important to me.

"When I was little, I was expected to behave in a particular way. Sure, the first eight years were magical. I'd spend my time in the desert or with my ayah and her family. But it was taken from me and I spent the next four years virtually in hiding, trying not to be noticed by the families that fostered me, I didn't want to be sent away I guess. It was only when I got to my other mom's place did I start to live again. But of course, everyone saw what was up here," I point to my head, "and not what I wanted them to see. I was expected to perform, if you like. Not at school, most teachers found me very difficult. My language teachers couldn't teach me anything, I could already speak the languages on offer; my history teachers used to get fed up of having to look things up for me. Anyway, when my parents died - again - I was packed off to Harvard on a scholarship. The education board got together with the social services and decided it would be for the best. So, apart from the fact that I horrified them by eventually moving in with my boyfriend, I behaved. I was grateful for the effort they'd put in on my behalf. Not many people get the chance to be a PhD at twenty-one, you know. So, when I won the scholarship to Oxford, it was something I had done on my own. I'd applied for it and beaten off the competition. I felt that for the first time I was doing something for me, you know?"

He nods, he does know.

"So you let your hair down."

"You could say that. I worked like stink, I don't know any other way to work, and got my MA in that first year. I wasn't going to come back, Jack, I loved it there. I worked hard but I played hard too. I was offered a teaching position so I took it up. During the day I taught - at night I partied."

He's laughing. "So, when did you sleep?"

"Where do you think I got my odd sleeping habits from?"

"That explains a lot. Daniel, if you had two years there teaching, why didn't you do the PhD you wanted there?"

"I wanted a break from studying, that's all. If I'd stayed there I'd probably have done it."

"Why did you come back?"

"Professor Jordan. He virtually headhunted me. Made me an offer I couldn't really refuse. Besides, I had plans to do archaeology as well, so it fitted in. I returned to my more serious ways but I missed Oxford. If I hadn't been offered the job by Catherine I'd have headed back to the gang. They'd have taken care of me till I found my feet again. They're good friends Jack, trustworthy.

"Why didn't you tell me about them before? If they're such good friends that is."

Good question. "Um, I guess I was afraid."

"Why? What of?"

"Jack, all my life I've lost the people I loved the most. My parents, Nick I guess, my other parents, Fai... The guys accepted me, never once made me feel odd or like a freak like other people did. I loved them, they loved me. I think that by keeping them a secret I felt like I was keeping them safe. Silly, I guess."

"Not in the slightest, it's understandable. What about Gareth? Did you love him?"

"Oh yes, I did. Not like I love you, you have to believe me on that one Jack, but I did love him. Never stopped. Don't worry about Gareth if he comes. We stayed in touch for a while after I went to Chicago, we stayed friends, never any animosity or anything. You will love Gareth, everyone does. He's fun, smart, a prize lunatic really, but he's a damned fine friend, Jack. He's loyal."

I'm not sure he's convinced but he's letting it go. Time for the briefing.

"Dr. Jackson, could you tell us why you've asked for this meeting, please? And why it's off the record and we're outside and on the mountain?" the General's asking.

"Of course, Sir. Teal'c's symbiote is reaching maturity. We really need to get out there and find him a new one and soon. That's not really news, I know, but what struck me about it is this. What do we do with Junior?"

The expected cries of 'kill it' come up, especially from Jack. I can understand that and to be honest, that's my feeling too.

"I agree," I say. "However, here is a fully-grown Goa'uld. Would you not like it to experiment on, Janet?"

There was a time when experimentation on another being would have filled me with horror, but not now, at least with the Goa'uld. I don't even consider them anymore. I've lost too many friends to them.

Mutters from the others sitting on the grass, they can see what I'm saying. I add something though which explains why I wanted us to meet out here and away from eyes and ears.

"My biggest worry would be that the NID get hold of it. None of us need reminding of what happened last time."

Jack's hand instinctively goes to his shoulder and Sam's gone quiet. No, no reminders are necessary.

"What would you want to do with it, Teal'c?" Hammond's asking quietly.

"I think it should be killed. Preferably off-world where the NID cannot even get hold of the remains. They have consistently proven themselves to be without honour. I feel no obligation to help them."

I think we're all in agreement then.

"Teal'c, do you know of anywhere that we could find a larva for you?"

"Chulak may still have some, but I am not sure. I think our best hope would be to go somewhere that has had little to do with the rebellion."

Good point. If they're not expecting trouble there may not be much of a guard.

"Any ideas as to where?"

"I am afraid not. Perhaps the Tok'ra could help us? They would be more aware of the lesser Goa'uld's territory. Goa'uld queens are few and far between."

Sam agrees to call her dad. While we're on the subject of the Tok'ra, I've got another idea that I want to run past Hammond. He motions me to wait until the others leave and go back down, all except Jack whom I want to stay anyway. I'll tell the others later.

"Sir, Cheyenne Mountain is getting too small to deal with the expanded SGC. I've got an idea which might help, and it shouldn't cost us too much at all."

That got his attention.

"How about we invite the Tok'ra to come and live on Alpha? We've already turned it into a science station and our mother ships live there. My idea is that the Tok'ra build tunnels there. I've checked the geological reports. The rock is like granite, very strong. It's also in a seismologically stable area, so that should be safe. We can use them to store information, quarters for the scientists and soldiers, maybe even move the gate underground to protect it from attack, for example, by putting it in a closed room with transport rings the only way out. I think the biggest expense, but one that would be worth it, would be a ring of satellites, the Planetary Defence System as we have on Earth. It would also give us the opportunity to test the system in situ. I know we test-fired one within Earth's atmosphere, but we've never tried the system as a whole. Putting them in place would be easy with the ships we have, so no need for an expensive launching system or shuttle as we do on Earth.

"By giving the Tok'ra a safe haven, somewhere to hide out, set up laboratories, that sort of thing, knowing that their stuff would be protected, we could possibly persuade them to share more of their technology. The ability to cloak the Rascal and other mother ships, for example, was a huge advance for us. Jacob would understand that even if some of the technology got into the public sector eventually, it could only be things that are possible given the current state of technical knowledge. That should help protect against misuse of the tech and hopefully make them more inclined to share. Also, it would make exchange of information easier and we'd be less likely to cross each other. If they agree, we could shift a lot of our scientists out there, splitting our resources."

"Is splitting them a good idea, Doctor?"

"Less chance of losing everything if disaster strikes one planet, not to mention if there's stuff we want to hide from the NID, it would be easier off-world, though not foolproof," I reply.

"Good point. I think that this deserves some serious consideration. I'll discuss it with Jacob when he comes. I think it would make more sense to clear the idea with him first before going to the Pentagon, just in case the Tok'ra don't like it. By the way, the site, if it happened on the scale that you are talking about, would need a higher-ranking commander than it already has."

"I wouldn't know anything about that, Sir. Besides, they're only a phone call away from you."

He chuckles and we head back down.

Daniel's got his sneaky face on, I think he's planning something. That was one hell of an idea he had, he doesn't think small, does he? My baby never ceases to amaze me. (He'd also tear me a new one if I called him that out loud.) One of the reasons that Hammond put up with him in the early days before he grew to dote on him was that he could see just how brilliant he was. I think that something told him that Daniel would haul our butts out of trouble and his hunch has played off - time and time again. I wonder what he's thinking about now?

Never mind it will have to wait. We're in the control room waiting for an answer from Jacob. I hope he knows where there's a larva for Teal'c. Even better, bring one for him. I'm getting too old to go chasing around.

"Great idea, Daniel. When did you think of it?"

"Last night, when I was in the shower."


Just how does he do that? Ah well, I'm not arguing and I don't have the time to reply. The gate's opening.

"Receiving IDC Sir, it's the Tok'ra."

Right on time. We head down to the gate room and wait for the arrival of... Jacob. Thank goodness. Selmac is one of the few Tok'ra that I like. Great, Qabil/Kadim are with them and no Anise. This gets better and better.

"Jack, Daniel, how's things. We got a message that you needed us urgently."

"Yes, thanks for coming Jacob, Kadim, please, come with me," I show him out. If we're going to keep this from the NID we're keeping it quiet all round.

Carter's coming with, she's just come bouncing down the corridor, Teal'c and Hammond in tow. We're going to go up top again. Kadim and Jacob quickly throw on some BDUs to hide their alien robes and we go on up. We head past the guards again, who are looking at us as if we've gone completely nuts. Perhaps we have. However, they're good enough soldiers to shut their mouths. Back in the meeting place we discuss the possibility of finding a symbiote. Kadim tells us where we should be able to find one and Sam and Teal'c head back down the mountain with him to give them the co-ordinates, leaving Jacob, Hammond, Daniel and me to discuss Daniel's other idea. Selmac takes over.

This sounds like a well-thought-out and planned operation, Daniel. How long have you been working on it?

Oh dear. Daniel blushes and repeats what he told me about it dawning on him in the shower just before the party. He blushes even more when we all crack up.

"Selmac, don't be discouraged," I tell her. "He's always doing stuff like that. Do you remember when there was that diplomatic problem with the people from that ice planet and that Tok'ra was taken hostage?"

I do indeed. Daniel's solution was most inventive.

It was. He shoots me a 'don't you dare' look.

"Well," I say carefully, "let's just say his mind was, um, elsewhere when the," (oh God, should I say it? I have to now), "solution came."

Along with Daniel. And me. At the same moment. To which my entire neighbourhood block can attest. Well, he does get a touch vocal.

He is now beetroot-red. Contrary to popular belief, Daniel rarely blushes. However, he's doing a pretty fine impression of a fog lamp and I think I'm going to have to run like hell. I'm not even waiting to be dismissed, I'm off. Daniel's the fastest runner in the SGC, but I'm scared. That does wonders for my speed, I can tell you. Nope, no point in trying to climb a tree to get away from him. I'm done for, I know it. Jacob and George's laughter is fading into the distance as I head up the mountainside. I think he's holding back, there's no way I can outrun him this far. OUCH! I can't. Just found myself flat on my back with 180 pounds of archaeologist knocking my stuffing out.

I'm waiting for the yell, the telling off, the tickling even, but I'm not getting it. He's just staring in my eyes like he's just discovered something.


"Shh, just looking," he's murmuring.

Oh. Now he's kissing me, soft, gentle touches across my face. Loving and sweet. I want to respond but he's telling me 'no', so I let him do what he wants. He's a man of contradictions my Daniel. He's the gentlest soul it has ever been my great fortune to meet, let alone fall in love with. He's also got the fiercest temper of which I've ever had the misfortune to be on the receiving end. He's not at all sappy; hates trite romantic sayings and gestures and commercialised events like Valentine's day and can't bear endearments like 'darling' or 'sweetheart' or 'baby'. However, he'll do something like this, just touch me or kiss me so tenderly it breaks my heart with how romantic he actually is. I can call him 'babe' or 'hun' (never 'honey') or 'love'. He likes that. Don't ask why, I don't know. So, I do, whenever I can get away with it. If he calls me 'dear' I'm in trouble or we are as a team; it's a sort of codeword meaning 'heads up'. He also absolutely loves it if I recite poetry to him. Not read, but recite from memory. Go figure, I don't have a clue, but it can reduce him to tears of happiness. Again, people think that because he's an academic he's weak. He's about the strongest man I've ever met. But then he won't fight to defend himself. Others, yes, but not himself. One of these days I might just figure out what makes him tick.

"I love you Jack," he says, making it sound like the first time he's said it.

"Love you too, Daniel. What's up, hun?"

"Nothing, I just wanted to tell you. We're going to be heading out soon, I needed you to know, just in case. Tradition, remember?"

"How could I forget. Daniel, are you getting a bad feeling about this?" If his radar's picking anything up we're not going.

"No, nothing yet. It's just - oh hell, this is going to sound stupid."

"Daniel, go on, you can tell me anything."

I'm rewarded with a huge smile, the one that makes life worth living. "I know. I'm afraid I've been doing what I hoped I'd never do."

"What's that?"

"Taking you for granted. I got myself in a right state last night and you had to bail me out again. I'm sorry, Jack. I shouldn't do that."

"Hey, what are friends for? Daniel, I'd do that for you even if we weren't together. If it makes you feel better, I don't feel like you're taking me for granted. I just feel lucky to have you. Come on, we have to go."

Another smile and a quick kiss and we have to go back down.

"SG-1, you have a go," the General's voice rings through the air. We step through the gate and emerge to a planet with... er, trees. Oh boy, Jack is going to be pleased - not. And it's humid. Not too unbearably so just yet, but I just don't want to stay here any longer than is necessary. Apart from the fact that this place has a Goa'uld base on it, the humidity plays hell with my sinuses.

"Ah, trees," Jack says trying to sound happy, but ending up sounding like a frustrated lumberjack.

"At least we'll have shade, Jack, they're not all bad, you know," I try to cheer him up. It's not working.

He's leading us to the first batch of trees along the side of the pathway, not wanting us to be exposed I think.

"Heads up!" Sam calls. It would seem the opening of the gate has triggered a visit by the locals. Oh hell.

"Jack, what do you want to do?" I ask. I mean, do we meet and greet or hide and retreat?

"Qabil said that the snake that keeps the larvae here only visits at certain times of the year, right?"

"Right." I was going to launch into an explanation as to the whys and wherefores that Qabil explained, but I think that now is not a good time.

"So, they're not expecting him?"

"Her. And no, they're not."

"Is this a good thing?" All our voices are so quiet we're straining to hear each other.

"Don't know, Jack, to be honest." We're hiding out at the moment, not wanting to show ourselves until we can be sure of our reception.

"I think that they will look for the visitors," Teal'c adds. He's got a point.

However, so have the natives. Lots of them. They're armed with spears, the javelin types thrown by the ancient Greeks and Persians.

"Daniel, do you know anything about the snake?"

"Precious little, Jack. She's called herself Nesha, which is a character from Hittite mythology. The story goes that one year she gave birth to thirty sons and was a tad surprised so she hid them in reed baskets and set them adrift - a bit like the Moses story, except the gods find them and raise them. Then the next year she gives birth to thirty daughters but for some reason decides to keep them."

Sam snorts and says something about girl power.

"Anyway, what little is left of the story hints at the boys coming back and marrying their sisters, not knowing the relationship between them. Unfortunately the end of the story is missing so we don't know what is supposed to have happened. Given the numbers involved it could be a sign of Goa'uld involvement."

"Myths and fairy tales Daniel," Jack growls.

"Oh yes, Jack. Myths and fairy tales. Like those of the Asgard. I shall have to learn to ignore them then, shan't I?"

A snigger from Sam. She's on my side. In the meantime, this hasn't helped us one bit.

"Keep quiet," Jack's hissing. I'm guessing we're not going to talk, then.

Jack lets Teal'c lead the way and we head up to the nearest settlement. As quietly as we can we make our way to the temple. If we're going to get caught, it's going to be better if it happens after we've done the exchange.

As on Chulak the 'incubator' is unguarded. As quickly as he can, Teal'c grabs one of the baby Goa'uld. While Sam and Jack watch out for the natives, I take the larva so that Teal'c can remove Junior. My stomach churns as he pulls it out, it launches itself at me. FUCK! I've jumped and dropped the frigging larva. NO! It's heading for Jack. Get it! Now! Thank God for that, he's stamped on it. Damn, that means that I'm going to have to hold Junior while Teal'c gets another one out. Trust me to be so damned jumpy around these things. We can't kill Junior till the new one is in its place, just in case. He's got one. Phew. That's it, T, pop it in. I don't want to see one of these things again, they freak me out.

"You okay, T?" Jack's asking.

"I am fine, O'Neill. The new larva is settling in. It will do."

Sighs of relief all round then, especially as he's just taken Junior from me and wrung its neck. He's going to leave the carcass on the floor as a sign to the priests here that the symbiotes should be discarded. I'm not so sure that this is a good idea in that it will reinforce the fact that there are unwelcome visitors here.

"Sorry about that, guys," I say guiltily.

They're okay about it though, they all understand. Not one of us, apart from Teal'c of course, can keep calm in the presence of those things. Jack's face when Teal'c pulled Junior out spoke volumes. His hand automatically went to the back of his neck and he was back at Hathor's palace being implanted. That day was officially one of the worst in my life, let alone Jack's. Just watching him being made a Goa'uld host. I had nightmares for weeks. It didn't help that Jack had more or less stopped coming around my place at the time. Not a thing I ever want to repeat. And I had to, had to relive it when Jack lost his memory. I can't suppress the shudder that goes down my spine.

"Daniel? Are you all right? You're a bit quiet."

"That's the idea, isn't it?" I ask him, trying to smile. I'm not okay, not really. I will be though. "What about you?"

"I'll need a drink tonight, but other than that, I'm fine."

Hmm. Tonight could be fun if we're both 'fine'. Not.

We're nearly back at the gate. That's good. We haven't seen or heard the natives. That's bad apparently. Jack tells us to get down quickly.

"Ambush," Jack whispers

Excuse me? Where? Jack says nothing but points to certain places along the way between us and the gate. We're about three hundred yards from our destination. There are clumps of trees and bushes along the way. I can see what he's saying. I signal to him to give me his scope. As soon as he does I shin up a tree. There's a big branch reaching out virtually into the next tree along. As quietly as I can I go through the trees, one at a time until I get to the end. The nearest clump is too far for me to jump or swing. I get out the scope and look. It's hard to see, but there's a little movement in some of the bushes toward the front of the copse. I stare into it and finally confirm Jack's theory. Again, as quietly as I can, I go back through the trees and to the hiding place.

Back on terra firma I sign to tell the team what I've discovered. Jack signs back that we wait till nightfall.

"When you're right, you're right," I whisper in his ear, giving his shoulder a squeeze. He always puts himself down, underestimating his own importance, but even Teal'c hadn't thought of the ambush. Without Jack we'd have all died many times over.

Time to go. We're going to creep behind the trees, going around the back of the ambush. Then, when we get to the clearing we're going to run like crazy. I'll aim for the DHD, the others will provide cover if necessary.

Hate this creeping but it's got to be done. Nearly at the end now, the clearing is in sight.


The order is given. I don't look back, I just run like hell. The others are following me, oh no, and firing. We're under attack - again! Damn and blast, I can't look back, much as I want to, I have to run. Come on Jackson, you can do it. Faster dammit, faster. My lungs are burning, I don't know if I can keep this up. It's not far, I'm just running faster than I've ever run before. I'm too old for this shit. Okay, nearly there. I fling myself at the DHD and smack the address in. The wormhole engages; the code, come on fingers send the fucking code. Now dammit. Good, green light. I turn to look, yelling at the others to come. Shit. Sam's down, she's got a javelin wound in her thigh.

"Teal'c! Take her!" Jack's yelling.

Teal'c has grabbed her and he's running to the wormhole, the javelins nearly hitting him as he gets there. COME ON JACK! He's limping. Oh God no!

I run back to him.

"Daniel, get your butt out of here, now! That's an order!"

Uh, uh, hun, not without you. You know that. Got him. His arm goes over my shoulder - not fast enough. Crap. That was close. I stop, swing him over my shoulder, he's firing from behind me, covering my back as I run as fast as I can with a honking great man on my back.

"Heads up, Jack, we're nearly there!"

Finally, the wormhole. Jack's still firing as we emerge, a javelin comes winging its way through, just missing the General as the iris shuts and the wormhole collapses.

That's it. No more. What a fucking time for my knee to pack in on me. I couldn't put my foot down even though my life depended on it.

Sam's going to be okay - thank Christ, the javelin missed every major artery and vein, but her thigh muscle is going to hurt like hell for quite some time. Teal'c's looking serious - more than normal. I'm having to tell him that everything's okay, that this was nothing. I think that he's feeling guilty. Daniel, however, is looking furious.

"Daniel? What's up?"

"You ordered me to leave you," he says quietly. Crap, I've hurt him, I know I have.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done that, Daniel. Forgive me, please?"

I can see him consciously trying to loosen his body, he's so tense at the moment, so highly-strung that he's quivering.

I put my hands out to him and he steps closer, still rigid though. I grab him and pull him close, he's struggling to get out of my arms. Oh no, Daniel, not now. Not till you've either calmed down or let rip - I don't mind which at the moment, just as long as you let this go.

"I nearly lost you again today," he whispers.

"And you saved my ass again, for which I thank you - again." I say with a sigh. "Combine today with the times that I've nearly lost you and it's amazing that we're still together."

"I'm not sure I can do this anymore, Jack," he says quietly. I'm stroking his back; the nurses and doctors are keeping away, keeping everyone away.

"Me either, babe, me either. Come on, as soon as we're given the okay, we'll go tell Hammond the good news, okay?"

He pulls back, takes a deep breath and sighs while nodding. I look at Teal'c. No words are necessary from me, he just says, "I too am tired, O'Neill."

A look to Carter and we get a nod. "I need a break," she says, hobbling over to us. Daniel hugs her and then they start sniffing. Ah fuck, they're starting me off. We're getting into a group hug, even Teal'c is joining in. The infirmary staff are silent. I think they've figured out what is going on.

Finally, we pull away. Jan comes over, gives us all a hug and then gives me some stuff for my knee and a pair of elbow crutches. Sam's patched up already and she's getting a pair, too. The four of us then make our way silently to see Hammond.

"Colonel, Major, Doctor, Teal'c, you look serious," Hammond says as he welcomes us to his room. There's no debriefing for the mission as the mission was not officially sanctioned. Some creative record keeping will be done on this one, we don't want any comeback.

"Yes, Sir," I say, not really knowing what else to add. Daniel nudges me, he's not going to do the talking this time.

"General, SG-1, the whole team, we've had enough, Sir, we're tired. We've spent eight years give or take in the field. We need a change of pace. I'm too damn old for this, my body is telling me. I could have gotten them all killed today."

The three of them interrupt, not wanting me to take the blame for this one, but I shut them down. It's true.

"Major? Surely you're too young to be retiring?"

"Just from the field, Sir. It's not the age thing, anyway, it's the amount of times we've been out there. We've been lucky. How many times have we come close to losing one of us? I know you've indulged us, that we should never have been kept together. We were all probably too close to each other by the end of our first year together. But, our closeness has kept us all alive. We just want it to stay that way. I don't want to go through the gate without the guys. No matter how good another CO you could put me with, I'd never trust him or her the way I trust Colonel O'Neill. And no matter how loyal the rest of the team, I doubt I could ever trust them to watch out for me the way I trust Daniel and Teal'c."

Hammond sighs and nods.

"Colonel, you're not thinking of retiring, are you?"

"I'm not sure what else I could do, General. I'm a man of action, not paperwork."

"I understand. Doctor, you're the youngest one here. Do you really want to give this all up?"

"Do I have to answer that, General? I'll stay at the SGC no matter what, but apart from maybe going out on the odd dig now and then, I have no desire to be on an active team. You can't seriously want me to go through without the rest of the guys, can you?"

"No, of course not. Teal'c?"

"I too have no desire to be a part of another team. SG-1 are my family. I will, however, remain at the SGC to help train new recruits if you permit it."

"Teal'c, you can stay at the SGC and watch TV if you like. You've earned the right to decide what you want to do. However, your input in training new recruits would be invaluable."

He rubs his head in his hands before looking back up at us and then he says,

"Go home. Recover from your injuries. Teal'c, if you wish to visit your son, please feel free to do so. Just don't leave the programme, any of you. Let me work on this, please?"

I speak for the team again.

"Of course, Sir. None of us want to stop, we're just too damned tired to go on."

With that, we leave his office and go home.

Home, at last. Teal'c's coming over tomorrow morning, and he's going to bring the gang too. Sam and Ed said they'd come as well. A last SG-1 'do' but with added extras. I'm not sure about cooking, we'll get takeout delivered I think. There's plenty of booze here so I don't need to do any shopping, thank goodness.

Jack's already in bed. We grabbed some food in the mess before we came home. I've never seen him look so exhausted. I could do with going to bed as well.

"Hey, room for another one?"

"Where's the other?" he asks with a grin, shifting over for me.

"How's the knee?"

"Sore, it's been worse though. The doc gave me an anti-inflammatory injection so it's coming down. Thanks for doing the right thing today, and for being so damned fast. I was just scared that you'd get hurt, ya know?"

"I know. How do you think I felt about you? You know me, Jack, I'm not one for sappy romance but I can't freaking live without you. I tried but I was so miserable. If you'd died today I'd have let them kill me too. God, I know it makes me sound like some sort of Victorian heroine, but it's true. I've tried to picture my life without you and I can't."

"Same here, Daniel. Together forever, eh?"


"So, how about sticking it to your old man, then?"

When I stop laughing at that I kiss him. He starts to kiss me back but I tell him to stop. Uh huh, walking, or in his case, limping wounded here. I've got to take care of him. He's in his standard nightwear, so I gently remove his shorts, taking great care with his knee, laying kisses along his leg, lingering at the inside of his ankle. A bit firmer on his other leg, I hear him catch his breath as I reach his good knee and swipe behind it with my tongue. That puts a smile on both our faces. I leave his legs and help him sit up so I can pull his T-shirt off, lingering with my teeth gently nipping at his throat. He's growling at me, warning me that he's already as hard as nails and aching to get off.

Oh no, mon colonel, good things come to he who waits. I grate my teeth over his nipples, making them hard and stand proud.

"Daniel," the warning comes again. Okay, I won't make him wait too long. I'm guessing the painkillers are making him dozy and he needs a sleep. So, I'll help him then. I scoot down as quickly as I can and take him whole. No messing, he's pretty desperate. My hands work his thighs, my fingers tickle his ass and my tongue is speaking pure lust. I'm not going to make him hold out, I'm sucking as hard as I can. And I've got some pretty good suction working here.

"DANNY!" Whoo ya. Definitely. Sucked him dry I think.

Ah crap, he's out cold. He does that occasionally, especially after a hard day. I pull the covers over him and tuck him in. I'm still dressed though. A quick strip and I'm under the covers with him. Hmm, this is nice.

"Daniel, you're going to have to get up, dear heart."


"Sorry Danny, my knee's swollen and I need your help pretty desperately. Would ya be a sport?"


Oh God he wants me to get up without coffee? What time is it? 8 a.m? Triple ugh. We both had screaming nightmares last night so I'm exhausted. And sore - whoo boy, do we have great ways to forget bad dreams or what? Okay, he needs to go, I can do this for him. That's it Jackson, put your feet on the ground. He needs the bathroom so let's head there.

"Um, Daniel?"


"Aren't you forgetting something?"

"What now?"


Ah. Oops. Okay. Back to the bed and help him up. Damn, that knee looks awful. Fair enough, I can do this. Swing his arm over my shoulder and help him into the bathroom. As he's dealing with that I head downstairs. Just as well I can put coffee on in my sleep. Where did he put those crutches? Ah, there they are. While the coffee makes I'll take them up. He hates being dependent on me, only letting himself be that way when he has to. I take the crutches into the bathroom and leave them on the side. He's having a shower, so I take a leak and wash and make sure he's got a towel handy. Back downstairs, pour the coffee and take it up to bed. We can drink it there.

Aw, poor baby, he looks so sweet wrapped in a towel and on crutches.

"Come back to bed, Jack. The others won't be here for a couple of hours. Just as well today's a Sunday, eh? The gang isn't working. You okay?"

"Apart from my knee, I'm fine, thanks. Thanks for the coffee."

"That's okay. What are friends for?"

"I've got a better idea if you're up for it?"

"Aren't I always? Don't answer that. Anyway, you'll get a much better reaction if you wait till I finish this."

He allows me to finish my drink and then we settle for a long and serious smooching session. We haven't had one of these in days. I don't know how we manage, sometimes.

"Love this," I say.

"Hmm, love you," he murmurs into my neck.

He's a marshmallow. My marshmallow. Talking of which, Mr. Stay Puft is pretty puffed up already.

"You want me to do something about that?" he's asking.

"Only if you want to, babe, but don't do anything that will hurt your knee."

"What I have in mind won't hurt anything," he says with a filthy, filthy voice. God I LOVE this man.

Oh yes, Mr. Magic Fingers is setting to work.

Ah crap, who's that? There's someone knocking on the door. And voices. Voices? I've only had one coffee, I can't be expected to work anything out, can I? Ah well, my big protector is currently on the sick list so I grab my sweats and throw them on and head downstairs, trying to ignore the disappointment. I was having so much fun then too.

"Mom? Is that you?"

"Daniel darling, of course it's me. Who else would it be?"

Who else indeed?

"I've let your friends in, they're in the kitchen. I met them on the doorstep. Good timing on my part."

Good timing? No, Mom timing. Designed to kill off any chance I've got of getting laid.

"Guys? I thought you weren't coming over till later."

At least they have the decency to look a bit guilty. Then Mike says,

"It was either come here now or Teal'c was going to put us through our paces at the mountain. Sorry DJ, but it's Sunday morning and all..."

I understand - no choice really. At least they've put coffee on. More coffee; they've already finished the pot the moment they walked through the door. That's something that Jack will have to get used to. When I first came here, after I got back from Abydos, he was pretty stunned when I easily made myself at home. He wanted that but I think he thought that I'd be too shy. He has never spent time in the UK. Friends there, close friends, have a habit of being at home in each other's houses. I loved it that the gang were like that with me when I got my own place there. They'd walk in and put the kettle on without asking. SOP. As long as they made me one I didn't care. Also if I needed to ask them for help of any nature I never felt awkward about it. They'd ask me for help too. It was so relaxed that it did take me a little while to adjust but I found that I preferred it like that. When Sam and Janet first started coming to my place it took me a little while to encourage them in that direction but they got there. And took over my life into the bargain. But again, I was happy with that too because I knew then as I know now that they cared.

A coffee comes my way, just how I like it. Millie hasn't forgotten that.

"How could I, DJ? How many coffees did I make you?"

She's got a point. It's probably ingrained.

"Where's Teal'c? I thought he was bringing you?"

"He dropped us off then said he's got to pick up Janet and then he'll be over. Her daughter is staying with friends today, some sort of pyjama party tonight. So she's going over this morning I think."

Oh God, this means party. An all-day party. I wonder if Jack is going to need his painkillers?

A thud from upstairs reminds me that I should go up and get dressed and help Jack, so I ask the guys to get some food on. We're going to need it. Mom and Millie take over the kitchen and shoo the guys out.

"Daniel? Where did you get the tattoo?" Andy's asking as we leave. He also reads cuneiform, one of the reasons I wanted him.

"I'll tell you all when we sit, Andy, it's a long story."

The shame of it. Daniel carried me downstairs. He was dubious as to my skill with the crutches on the stairs, I think. We're in the kitchen demolishing a huge pile of bacon and eggs and toast that was put in the middle of the table (on a plate, of course). Basically, if you want it, you take it. Turns out the four of them shared digs for a few months in the early days and this was how they did food. Whatever, it seems to be working. We're all eating, including Mom, and laughing around the table. The third pot of coffee in an hour is currently brewing. These guys would seem to have the same caffeine requirements that Daniel has.

"Don't worry about missing stuff, we get loads imported for the troops. Just have a word with the quartermaster, he's really good." Daniel's been giving them hints on settling down.

"What stuff is that, Daniel?" Mom's asking.

"Tea - the good stuff," he winks at the others. "Marmite, Twiglets, Cadbury's chocolate," (that's aimed at Millie and she sighs in relief), "Jammy Dodgers," (a cry goes up from Mike. Jammy Dodgers? What the fuck are they?).

"Whatever you do though," he adds as a warning, "don't ask for the Jaffa cakes. Teal'c saw them, thought they were for him, tried them, got addicted, so now he hogs the lot."

Oh yes, I remember that day. Tried taking one from him. Not pretty.

Another knock on the door so Daniel goes to answer it. Teal'c, Janet, Sam and the ever-attached Ed. He hasn't met the gang so introductions are made. Turns out he and Mike are from the same town so some local jokes which go over our heads are thrown around for a minute.

Oh dear, Mom's cornering me.

"Jack, dear, I think we need to talk." We head into the living room, the others are still in the kitchen.

"George told me you've asked to pack in fieldwork, that you feel guilty about your knee going. Is that the only reason?"

I tell her about our decision, explaining why we've all had enough and she sighs, gives me a hug and kisses my head.

"Aw, isn't that sweet. A mother's love for her baby boy," Janet's teasing as they all come in.

"Not true," Daniel's complaining. "I'm her baby boy, aren't I Mom?"

Mom's just grinning, saying nothing. She puts her hands out to him and draws him into a hug.

"Are you all right, Daniel? Tell me about yesterday."

"Went out, got shot at, nearly lost Sam and Jack - again - came home and quit, Mom. We're tired, that's all. We've been going out there and getting shot at for eight years. Nine, for Jack and me if you include the first mission. I've died, how many times is it?"

"Lost count," I say with a sigh.

"It's that bad, Mom. Jack's 'only' died the once; Sam? We've lost you twice, or is it three times - haven't we? Teal'c - just don't go there; we've lost him or nearly lost him nearly as many times as me. Our luck will run out one day, we know it. We've been saving this planet all this time, we need a break. We'll stay at the SGC, I'm sure that George will find something to keep Jack there and the rest of us have things we can do. Don't feel that we're making this decision lightly, we're not. But it's the right thing to do now."

"Fair enough. I just wanted to make sure you weren't doing this as a knee-jerk reaction." Ouch, she could have chosen a better phrase than that considering the circumstances!

"Mom," I point out. "If it were a knee-jerk reaction I think I would definitely have retired for good eight years ago."

Mutters of agreement from the others underline that fact.

"So, are you going to tell us about the tattoo now, DJ?" Andy's asking, trying to lighten the mood I guess.

"Oh, okay. Um, Jack and I were on another planet, Babylon..."

He's recalling the event, Mom has never heard all of these details before so she's laughing it up with the rest of them. We're all sitting around the coffee table, the ever-present mugs of coffee being mysteriously refilled whenever they're emptied. I need a pee.

Back again. I've just caught Millie in the kitchen. It's 11 a.m. now. Mom's making noises about going to see George and Millie's heading for the fridge.

"Look what I've found!" she calls.

"Put that back Millicent," Daniel warns. Millicent? Poor kid. "That's for next week, a special occasion."

Ah, the champagne and our third anniversary. Daniel says he has something planned so I'm not going to arrange a thing this time. I see Mom out to a chorus of goodbyes and head back to sit down in my favourite chair. Daniel's coming in with a couple of bottles though and glasses. Oh God - party time. He heads back into the kitchen and rustles up snacks. We'll need them if we're starting to drink this early.

"So, I want more details about Daniel," I tell them. "All the freakin' dirt. I ask him and he shuts up tighter than a clam."

"Details?" Mike's saying. "Well, there was the time when he and Gaz, oh, um, perhaps I shouldn't..." his voice trails off.

"It's okay, Mike. Jack knows about him. You're not jealous, are you dear?" He glares at me, the 'dear' warning me to behave or else.

"No, no, not in the slightest." Liar, liar, pants so on fire.

"Well, okay then. They got drunk, very, very drunk." (Like that's news?) "We were all out together, with our various partners of the time, generally whooping it up in the town - it was New Year's Eve-cum-Day, probably about 1 a.m. Of course, those two were pretty wrapped up in each other and this copper came over to us. Bad enough that we were all drunk but those two were necking in public. The copper tried to get them to stop. This was the 1980s, after all. Enlightenment only went so far, if you know what I mean."

He pauses to take a breath and a drink and we're all waiting with baited breath for him to finish.

"Go on," I'm urging, I have got to know how he got out of this one.

"Daniel apologised profusely in about fifteen languages that we'd all been so loud. Of course, we backed him up."

"You fucking legged it, the lot of you," Daniel howls.

"Exactly. We were getting out of your way so you could do your thing. We heard what else happened from Gaz after. He kissed the copper."

"You're shitting me!" I yell.

"Uh huh, he did. After promising to go home and behave the policeman wishes him a happy new year. So DJ thanked him and landed a huge kiss on the lips."

*howl, snort*

"What happened?"

"Nothing," Daniel's saying with a grin. "I left him looking like he'd been stunned by a cattle prod and we ran."

This is so not like the Daniel I met before the first mission.

"So, when did you turn into the sweet and quiet darling I first met?" Sam's asking, wriggling away as she gets tickled for that.

"When I went to Chicago I pretty much had to start behaving myself again. To be fair, when I was at Oxford I never did anything to bring the college into disrepute or anything - at least, I never got caught for that. Students are well-known for being wild. I know I was lecturing then but I still looked young enough to be mistaken for a student. I got away with more than I should have I think."

"DJ, you were young enough to be a student," Andy's pointing out. Then for our benefit he adds, "We were all there doing our masters degrees. Daniel turns up, same age as us by the way, already with a freaking PhD. Anyway, he didn't rub our noses in it, he just had this amazing knack for flooring us. Besides, it was weirdest for me."

"Why?" I ask, even more curious now.

"Simple. He was my mentor for my PhD. As soon as I got my masters I stayed to do the doctorate in linguistics. Daniel's PhD was in that subject and in the specific area too, so the college said he could help. You expect your tutors to be older than you, not to be the lead singer of your band and your drinking buddy. Still, I did well, thanks to you pal," he raises his glass to him and Daniel smiles back.

"You did it yourself, you didn't need much help. Andy's a brilliant linguist, despite his self-deprecation. That's why I asked for him."

"It's weird all of you being here," I say. "Andy I can see, what with Daniel knowing his ability and all, but you two, why did Sam and Janet ask for you?"

"Reputation," Sam replies. "Mike's got a rep for thinking outside the box when it comes to theoretical quantum physics."

"Quantum physics? Like the mirror?" I ask. Ah, I don't think they've heard of the mirror. Mike's eyes are popping open as Sam describes it.

"You've been to different realities?"

"Oh yes, Daniel's got a souvenir from one. Go on, Danny, he'll never believe us otherwise, why don't you put it on?"

"On? Why don't I just bring it down?"

"Treat me, Danny," I leer.

"How can I resist you when you're being so obvious?" he replies with a snarl, but he does go upstairs.

While we wait Janet explains that Millie's paper on speculative exobiology had caught her eye, mainly because Janet could actually confirm some of Millie's theories. More wows as they exchange some scientific gobbledegook, followed by wows, ohmyGods, and a woof from me as Daniel comes down stairs in his blues.

"See, no way in hell would I join the Air Force in this reality, but if you look, this is mine. I borrowed it off another me for a mission," he says.

"Wow, DJ, you should have joined up. You look HOT!" And that was from Andy, who Daniel tells me is one hundred percent straight - and, it turns out, married to Millie. She keeps her maiden name to avoid confusion. Two 'Doctor Roberts' in the family would easily get complicated.

"Can I get changed now, please?" he's begging. He feels very uncomfortable in them.

"Okay, but leave your dog tags on," I wink. He's had to wear them for ages - hates them but they have interesting uses.

Leave the dog tags on. I dunno. Actually I do, I know exactly what he's got planned for later. That filthy, filthy man. Woo hoo! In the meantime, round two of drinking. I grab Janet and we head for the kitchen to prepare some food, we're going to need it.

"So, are you really okay about packing in SG-1?" she asks me as she snuggles into a hug.

"Yeah. It's not as if we're leaving work or each other. Sam and Teal'c won't stop being family, Jan, neither will you. You'll hopefully see less of me professionally, but outside work, if you don't come over I'll be banging on your door."

"You'd better. I wonder if the General will re-designate another team as SG-1 or if he'll find four people from other teams?"

"I don't know. I'll make a guess that he'll do something we won't expect. Ferretti should get it if anyone does. He's been there since day one and he's been fantastic."

"You're right, he should. But things rarely work the way they should."

All this snuggling is lovely but it's not getting sandwiches made. Tonight we can have takeout, definitely. I think I'll be far too drunk to cook safely.

I deposit myself between Jack's legs, one of my favourite places to be. I'm hugging his good leg, terrified of hurting his bad knee.

More alcohol. Things are starting to get a touch blurred around the edges. It would probably help if I put my glasses back on. Oh God, no, not that story Millie, please.

"Well, what with Daniel so pickled we were in a bit of a state. He was our driver, so how were we going to get home? None of us was in a fit state to drive and no way in hell a taxi would take us. So, he stands in the middle of the road and flags down this bus, sweet-talks the driver and she takes us! It wouldn't have been so amazing in itself except she had finished her last run and she actually detoured to take us back to the college before going to the depot. The only thing she got in return was a huge kiss on the cheek from DJ."

I'm never going to live today down, am I?

"Why do you keep calling him that?" Sam's demanding.

"It's how he used to sign notes at home. You know, the sort that was left on the fridge. Always said DJ, so, that's him."

The others look at me, I shrug. "Never bothered me. They didn't call me Danny, thank God." Jack's blushing.

"Yeah, we had noticed, Deej," Millie's teasing. Oh yes, the never to be forgotten variant. Deej.

"Only Jack," I say, my voice warning them. They won't anyway, it wouldn't be natural. DJ, Deej or Daniel, those are the only things they called me, apart from...

"Brains," says Mike.

"That's not surprising," Jack adds, laughing.

"No, not like that, Jack," I explain. I point to Andy, "Virgil," Mike, "Scott," and Millie, "Tintin."

He looks lost. Sam's got it, so has Ed.

"Thunderbirds, Jack," Ed says. He's none the wiser.

"Ed, do you reckon your supplies guy can get a video?"

"Sure, no prob Daniel."

"'Thunderbirds' was also the name of our band," Millie tells him. He still looks lost.

And old. I've got a Blur CD on, 'Song 2' - playing loud and proud. The gang are laughing, this is the sort of music we liked to do when let loose. Heavy rock, I even learned to play the guitar to help out in some pieces. Haven't played one in years though.

"Danny, turn it down, please," he's begging.

"Sure thing, you could always turn your hearing aid off," I call back, dodging the cushion that gets thrown at me as I head to the player.

Change of CD. Stick some Bowie on. The four of us join in to 'Rebel, Rebel', playing air guitars, bouncing around and generally making the others laugh.

"I'll bet you were all rebels in school," Janet hoots.

"Not a hope," Mike says. "Back then, the cane ruled. Too fucking painful."

"Did you ever get caned?" Millie asks him.

"Oh God yes. Head was a freaking sadist. His idea of six of the best was straight across the hand. Got them once and had to have my hand bandaged for a week because he cut the palm."

"I can relate," Jack says. We look at him oddly. Me especially because I know he was a pretty well-behaved teenager according to Mom.

"Nuns," he says. "I went to a Catholic school. Got caught smoking behind the bike sheds. They used a ruler across the knuckles. Bruised like hell."


"Daniel? What about you?"

"Nah, never," I tell them with a grin.

"What, never got caned or never smoked?" Jack teases.

"Never got caught," I reply.

"You don't smoke."

"Neither do you anymore. I did. Oh boy, did I. Not just tobacco, either."

The other three crack up. They know me far better than the others. Jack just shakes his head. I can see some serious discussions later.

In the kitchen, getting some plates for the takeout that's going to be here any moment. WHATTHEFUCK?!


"Do you feel better for that Daniel?"

"Eikel! Klootzak! CUS! Ja-hosh! Koproskilo! Connard! Opesdol! You senseless immature witless smegma-encrusted wart! What are you going to do for an encore? Give me a fucking heart attack? I should fucking kill you, you manky barrel of fetid haddock semen!"

Bastard just smiles sweetly, sticks his tongue down my throat, then says he loves me too.

The others have crashed. All over the place. Not sure who got the spare bed, it could be the girls. Whatever, don't care.

Got me a hairy colonel to cuddle with. But what he's doing with the dog tags, both sets, I don't know. Hell, I didn't know you could do that with them! Oh boy. I want. Oh yes Jack, definitely, I want. IwantIwantIwant. Now. Please. Don't make me hurt you. Come on. No, my leg doesn't bend that far. Fuck, Jack, it's not supposed to do that. I don't care what it says in the frigging Gay Kama Sutra. I know I'm flexible but I'm not that frigging flexible. Ow! Stop it. No, not that. Jack. Don't you fucking dare. Look, I know your knee's bad but that's no excuse. Do you want to get off or not? I do. Hmm, definitely. Oh yes, like that. Woo. Sorry, I'll try to keep the noise down, but that tickles you know. You do know. Huh. Stop doing it then. Where the fuck do you think you're putting that? Oh no, definitely not. Jack, banana pieces are one thing but I draw the line at kiwi fruit. They're hairy, sticky and they've got seeds that get everywhere. And that one's really soft and squidgy. Look, can we wait till you're fit before we aim for a gold medal in the synchronised sexual gymnastics display? I'll settle for a good old-fashioned... whatthefuckareyoudoingnow? Did I say you could stop? No, I didn't. Carry on. Please. Yes, I do love you. More than I've ever loved anyone. No, I'm not saying that just to get laid, you know that. Look, are you going to finish this or are you just winding me uUP! OHGODOHGODOHGOD THAT'SSOGOODMOREPLEASEILOVEYOU. YES!

Oh God, morning again. And he wants my help to get up again.

It's 7 a.m.

In the morning.



Coffee, need coffee now. Mill? 'Stha' you?

"Morning Deej, you okay? No, don't answer that. Stupid question pre-caffeine. Here, wrap your laughing gear around this."

"Thanks." Woo hoo, the linguist speaks.

"I'm confused, Daniel. You and Jack, you're not a normal couple. What's the story?"

"Not normal? Thanks. You mean he's a guy?"

"No I don't, pilchard, you know what I mean. Last night you screamed the place down at him and he didn't blink. You answer questions for each other, finish each other's sentences, you're wrapped up in each other tighter than I've ever seen any couple, you bicker constantly and apparently drive each other up the wall."

"Yep, I'd say that describes us. Look, we've been through a hell of a lot together. You know I told you about my wife yesterday, well Jack helped me look for her, even though he'd already fallen for me. We've saved each other's lives on countless occasions. Done that for Sam and Teal'c too, and they for us. We're a team, we'll always be a team, but Jack and I have been together as a team since the beginning. I opened the gate and Jack led us through it. We became close virtually straight away. He recognised something in me that was different from his initial perceptions; for example, I was a long-haired pacifist geek..."

"...But I saw the bravest, most compassionate man I'd ever met in my life."

He's doing it again, creeping up on me that is. Fortunately this time I heard him coming downstairs.

"You should be in bed resting that knee. I'd have brought you a coffee."

"Nah. It's okay."

"What, did you miss me already?"

"Like a hole in the head. Just gimme the coffee, will ya? And shut your yap, I'm hung over."

"Aren't we all?" Millie adds. The others aren't up yet, even though they're spread around the living room they haven't heard us.

"So," Millie continues. "What did you see in Jack?"

"Apart from the fact that he's hot in his blues?" She giggles and Jack blushes a bit. "I saw someone who was prepared to do the right thing, even if it went against everything that he stood for and everything that he had been in the past. He got my respect then and he's never lost it."

"Same here," Jack says. "The others we went with saw Daniel as an academic and pretty much wrote him off to start with. They changed their minds later, but I'd already realised that there was a lot more to him than at first appeared."

"Love at first sight?" she asks. Fair question.

"No," we both answer, laughing as we do. "Lust," we say together. I lean over and kiss his head.

"I got lucky," I tell her, not taking my eyes from his.

"Me too," Jack says.

"I think I'm gonna be sick," Sam's voice comes from behind us. "All this sap is making my stomach churn. See what I have to put up with?"

Finally got rid of everyone. We're not going into work today. Maybe tomorrow. Depends on how my knee is. Daniel's working on something emailed to him so he's not being idle. I, on the other hand, am stuffed for something to do.

"Jack, why don't you work on finding a subject for your PhD?"

Well, it's something to do, I guess. We're keeping this quiet though, don't want everyone to know about it. I've got a reputation to uphold. I go to my den and dig out my old books. Putting them down I notice something that Daniel bought me. A framed still of one of the Simpson cartoons; Homer, of course. Aaaah, beer. Hmm. My Chaucer has just landed next to it.


"Yes Jack? You okay?"

"Come here, would you? I think I've found it."


He trots in, a grin on his face.

"Go on, tell me."

"I'm gonna translate Chaucer into modern-day American English, complete with idiomatic speech so that kids will understand it."

He bursts out laughing, grabs me, kisses me soundly - no fucking complaints there - and says that it's perfect. We'll arrange to visit the Academy soon and get me signed up; they do higher degrees there as well as all the other, more military stuff. If I can get my idea accepted then I'm away. I can read Middle-English easily enough, it shouldn't be too hard - I hope. It will take time though, it's not a small book.

I pick up the book and start to reread it.

"When that Aprilis, with his showers swoot,
The drought of March hath pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such licour,
Of which virtue engender'd is the flower...

George has called us all in to see him, with the order to wear class A uniforms. I think he's got an idea for us all, but I have no idea what that is. Daniel's in one of his midnight-blue suits, along with his recently cropped hair it's making him look positively edible. Even Teal'c is in a suit, a black one that makes him look like a bouncer. Still, he's smart. The four of us make our way to the briefing room together, still a team no matter what, even if the two in blues are both on crutches.

We open the door and see Josh and Paul there. Jacob's there too, as is Janet, also in her blues, and that other senator and the Chief of Staff. Brass? What now? I flop into my chair having saluted the generals, and wait to hear the pronouncement.

"Thank you all for coming," Hammond says. "SG-1, we have a proposition for you. Following up Dr. Jackson's idea of expanding the Alpha site to incorporate more scientists and to give the Tok'ra a new, safer home world, we've come up with some suggestions that we'd like to run past you. Senator?"

He's handed the floor to Josh who looks over at us and grins like a madman.

"When we heard Dr. Jackson's plans we were at first surprised by the apparent magnitude of the undertaking. However, we've been in consultation with all of the interested parties all weekend (and I mean all weekend) and we've come up with a draft plan. The idea is that we move the scientists who are working on the database out there, leaving the SGC to be the military base. Of course, some scientists will need to remain here and there will be military personnel stationed there for security's sake. The move will be a huge effort, what with the setting up of laboratories, computer systems, medical facilities and the like, not to mention creating homes for those that will move out there. The two sites will have to work closely with one another. So, the plan is that you, Dr. Jackson, move out there and supervise the installation of the civilians and their work. Major Carter, you will be needed to oversee the scientific and engineering base and help with the set up of the computers. Dr. Frasier, we'll need your expertise to set up the medical and biochemical departments. Teal'c, we'd like you out there training our pilots to be the best damned glider pilots in the galaxy. And you, Colonel," he looks at me with a smile. "We'd like you to be the CO."

He pauses for us to take this all in. We look at each other, questions abound, I can tell. Janet's got the biggest one.

"Senator, if I may?" He nods, of course she may. "My daughter. I can't leave her."

"How old is she, Janet?" he asks softly.

"Nearly sixteen."

"Don't worry about it, Dr. Frasier," Hammond says. "The gate is going to be opened a lot between the two sites. There's nothing to stop you from commuting between planets. And if you're needed overnight there, I'm sure that Dr. O'Neill will continue to take care of her in the same way that she has been when you've been held at the base. We will be taking care of all of our children, I can assure you."

Janet's a lot more relieved now and she's starting to grin. I look at the others and get the team nod, i.e. the slightest of head movements. It's more in the eyes than anything else.

"In which case, Sirs, we'd be thrilled to bits," I say.

The Chief speaks. "Colonel O'Neill, I've heard that communication between your team is virtually telepathic but I must admit that I'd always taken that with a pinch of salt. However, observing you now and hearing you answer for your team I must say that it would appear to be true. Tell me, just how on earth do you know that what you just said is true?"

"General, Sir, we've been together a long time. I know that General Hammond has been criticised for keeping us together but I can assure you that he made the best decision. We are attuned to each other. We understand each other in a way I have never understood a team in the past, no matter how long I'd been attached to it. Major Carter is currently running through all the different variants of her new posting. She may be poker-faced, but I can guarantee that inside she's already choosing lists of people to transfer, drawing up draft timetables for moving and the like. Teal'c is excited on the inside. He likes nothing better than to be training raw recruits. Dr. Jackson is doing the same thing as the Major, probably getting ready to vent at me at some point when he's expected to move his entire department within a militarily-run operation when he'd much rather be doing it his own way. After all these years of knowing the Doc I can tell you that she's as excited as hell. Not only is she going to be given a great excuse to yell at people but with the Tok'ra there, she's going to be working with advanced medical technology."

The others nod, blush and grin in agreement and the General laughs.

"And you, Colonel?" he asks. "How do you feel?"

"Young again, Sir. Excited and grateful that I've been given this opportunity. I'm a hands-on person, Sir. I know I'm going to have a lot of paperwork and my first request is going to be an aide to help me with it," the others laugh at that, I'm always asking for one. "But this isn't going to be just a desk job. I'll need to be involved in the organising and moving too. Thank you, from all of us. We needed this, needed the change of pace. We didn't want to stop and this way we'll still be in the thick of things."

"But hopefully we won't be being shot at all day, which in my book is a plus," Daniel adds. That gets a laugh from the others around the table and then we discuss a few of the immediate practicalities. This is still a long way from being finalised.

There's a knock on the door. And airman comes in. "It's time, Sirs," he says, and the generals stand. We do too, still none the wiser as to what's going on.

We're asked to follow them out so we do. Unfortunately I have to get down the stairs. Getting up is pretty easy, but down on crutches is difficult. Teal'c's just picked Carter up and carried her down, much to her embarrassment.

"No, Daniel, you are not carrying me down."

"Jack, do you want to fall? Come on, put your arm over my shoulder, let me help, okay?"

"Hmm, okay, but no funny business," I warn.

"Would I?"

"Yes, you would."

"Jack, come on, that's it. One step at a time. Oh hell, this isn't working, is it? Will you please stop fighting me? That's it, Jan, grab his crutches, will you? Thanks."

"Daniel, put me down. NOW dammit."

"When we get downstairs. Stop making such a fuss Jack, we'll get down a lot quicker this way. There, the bottom. You didn't want to keep the generals waiting, did you?"

He's put me down on my feet, Doc has given me back my crutches and the others are laughing, including the Chief.

"Dr. Jackson, is he this awkward at home?" he's asking.

"Oh no, Sir," the bastard answers sweetly. "He's far, far worse."

Jack's going to kill me, but watching him struggling down the stairs was painful. Never mind, we're there now, I'll take the telling off later like a good boy. In the meantime, I want to know what the hell is going on.

We're following the generals into the gate room. It's full of people in their dress uniforms. Not the entire base, we'd never get them all in these days, but as I look around I can see representatives of every department and every nation. All the team leaders are there, we don't have any off-world by the looks of it. All of SG-2 are there, Ferretti's looking wicked as usual. Perhaps he knows what's going on. Maybe he's getting SG-1? I hope so. Smart salutes are given and returned and we're ushered to stand in a row on the ramp.

The Chief has made his way to a lectern in front of the gate.

"Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you all for coming, especially at such short notice. I'm sure you are all wondering just what all of this is about. Well, I'll put you out of your misery. A few days ago, Dr. Jackson came up with an exciting new idea for the direction of the SGC. After many long hours of debate at the weekend here at the SGC and back in Washington a proposal has been put forward. The Earth/Tok'ra alliance is taking a step forward. With the assistance of the Tok'ra, the Alpha site is going to be expanded. Most scientific operations will be relocated there, allowing the SGC itself to concentrate on the military aspects of our work. The two sites will work hand-in-hand. There will still be civilians here, it is felt that the balance created by your presence is both necessary and wanted. There will, of course, be a military presence on Alpha. We have a huge undertaking ahead of us, people, and we're going to be relying on you to help us pull this off. The current department heads here, Majors Carter and Frasier and Dr. Jackson, will be supervising and then running the departments there. Master Teal'c will be in charge of the training of the new glider pilots and the CO of the new site will be Colonel O'Neill."

Murmurs of approval go through the crowd, but the General indulges them for a moment before raising his hand.

"It has been decided that a major would not hold sufficient rank to independently run such an operation. So, Majors, would you come to me, please?"

Sam and Jan make their way to him, slowly in Sam's case.

"It gives me the most enormous pleasure, ladies, to hereby promote you both to Lieutenant Colonel, with all the rights, responsibilities and privileges that go along with your new rank."

They're standing there, open-mouthed at this news. It reminds me of the time that Sam had her other promotion granted her. I just hope that Thor doesn't beam any of us up this time. The Chief has stood back, General Hammond is pinning Jan's new insignia on her, and Jacob is doing the same for Sam. He's got a tear running down his face, I've never seen him look more proud. Salutes are exchanged and then Jacob gives in and hugs the shit out of Sam, knocking her crutches to the floor. They make their way back to us still dazed by the news. I'll hug them both in a minute, I think they need a while to process. The cheers and applause for them has died down. I look at Jack, he's got his proud father face on. He looks at me and grins. The Chief steps back to the lectern.

"Congratulations ladies. I know from your records and reputations that you have more than earned this. I also know it couldn't have gone to anyone more deserving. As for the CO of Alpha Site. I'm afraid that a 'mere' colonel isn't enough for us. Colonel O'Neill, please, if you would step up here?"


Jack's blushing. He's really blushing.

"Colonel Jonathan Jackson-O'Neill, your outstanding bravery is legendary, your incredible commitment to both your team and the SGC is unparalleled and your leadership is second-to-none. It was unanimously decided to promote you to the rank of Brigadier General, with all the rights, responsibilities and privileges in accordance with your new rank."

Jack is speechless. He's standing there like a fish, opening and closing his mouth but nothing is coming out. He always said that he had too many black marks on his record to get this. I guess that all of the good he has done has more than counted in his favour. We are so going to party tonight.

The room's erupted with a roar of cheers, whistles and applause. If there was any doubt in the Chief's mind that Jack was the man for the job, the sheer volume in here at the moment must have dispelled that. The Chief's putting his new insignia on him and Jack's actually shaking. Mom's in the crowd, aw, she's crying. Fuck, so am I. Allergies can be useful at times, I've always got a tissue handy.

He's making his way back to me, I'm sorry Jack, I've got to do this. Just a hug, but he's clinging on to me so tightly.

"I'm so proud of you," I tell him. He's clasped my face in his hands, looking at me the same way he did during the 'Spacemonkey' episode. So happy.

General Hammond's going to speak, so the place quietens down.

"In all of my years in the service of my country, I have worked with some damned fine people. Brave, good, honest, decent people. It is my pleasure to tell you that this posting has been the best. You are all good people, the best I have ever served with, no exceptions. But, SG-1, who are now retiring from the field, have been the best of the best. It is our loss that you will no longer be out there saving us from the Goa'uld and often from ourselves, but we have been all the richer and safer for your work and dedication over the years. SG-1 is officially the weirdest bunch of misfits I have ever met." He pauses while laughs run around the room. It wasn't that funny.

"We have a leader with bad knees and a worse temper, not to mention a little problem with scientists. A major, sorry, a lieutenant colonel with a reactor obsession, a chocolate addiction and an orbital IQ. An alien 'general' who says nothing but understands everything and has the driest wit I have ever been on the wrong side of. And a civilian - oh boy - the civilian." Oh God, what is he going to say? "Somehow he has always managed to tone down the military by never once conforming to our way of doing things unless it suits him. He has a caffeine-enhanced temper which scares the marines, and his IQ isn't so much orbital as out of the system. Not to mention that he's incredibly difficult to kill - at least permanently, thank heavens. This team has saved this planet so often we've lost count of the times they've done it. We owe you so much, and you Dr. Frasier, for continually patching them up so they can do it all over again. Thanks will never be enough, but I hope that you will accept mine. You have all given us more than we had any right to expect, but the thing I appreciate and value the most is your friendship. Thank you."

More cheers and applause. I don't know where to put myself.

Oh God my head hurts. Talk about party to end all parties. We drank the bar dry - again. I have no idea how much I drank but my new nickname is 'Free Willy' - apparently the amounts were not so much fish-like but had more in common with a whale. Ow, don't want to move. I can't move. I've got an unconscious Jack plastered to me. We celebrated as soon as we got back to our quarters. My ass hasn't been so sore in I don't know how long. Alcohol is supposed to have the opposite effect on men. Uh huh, not my warm and hairy co, er general. Must remember that. I don't think I have ever been more proud than I was yesterday. He deserved it; they all did.

"Ugh, Danny?"

"Yes babe?"

"Stop thinking, there's a good boy. It's waking me up."

Ah well, back to normal then. I wonder what our new life is going to hold in store for us?