Summary: It's the final stand for the final episode of Free Spirits. A major change is about to happen; but to whom and to what effect?
Thanks as ever to Joy for the beta.
Dedicated to Fabi.
It was too easy. The ship turned up, Daniel and DJ transported to Gimli as soon as they knew we were waiting for them, DJ said Hecate was dead and told us to get the hell out of there, so we did.
What I want to know is, what the fuck happened?
Daniel's sitting in the corner, half-dressed with a huge hole in the leg of his pants and hugging himself hard. Haven't seen him do that in a long time. I'd try to find out only he isn't speaking, he isn't allowing anyone into his head and he's just rocking back and forth. DJ's the only one he'll allow anywhere near to him and he isn't saying anything. Yet. DJ's half-dressed too. I wish I knew what happened back there.
I've pulled John to one side and now we're trying to work out what's happening.
"Will DJ speak to you?" I ask him, touching my head to indicate their radio contact.
He shakes his head.
"He just told me that something major happened and Daniel needs a little time to himself before they tell us what went on."
"Shit. I knew it."
"Jack, don't. I really don't think that getting mad at them is going to help."
"I know. But..."
"Yeah. I know."
We go silent again, but my stomach is churning. Why won't he let me speak to him or even connect telepathically? Even though I don't have his level of empathy, I can sense one thing and that is that he's exceedingly upset.
I want to hold him but it's like there is a huge brick wall between us.
Daniel's whispering something to DJ, who looks at him in confusion, then I see the light dawn on him. He stands up and walks over to us.
"Jack, head back to Annwn. Call the Tok'ra and ask Jacob to come over. Tell him to bring the zaytarc detector."
"Is he a zaytarc?" I demand.
DJ shakes his head.
"It's not that... Look, Jack, please. Do as we ask without questioning. You'll find out what's going on soon enough. Daniel just needs some time to come to terms with it."
"He hasn't been raped again, has he?" I whisper. Probably sounded more like a hiss.
He looks a little uncomfortable at that but he shakes his head.
"No. She didn't touch him."
"DJ?" John puts in. "Did she...?"
"John, please. You'll hear everything that happened. We're okay."
"You don't look okay."
"Well, we're a bit shaken up, but we'll be fine. We just hope you will be."
His final sentence is muttered under his breath, and it doesn't fill me with confidence. Somehow, I know he isn't going to elaborate just yet.
We're home. Jacob's on his way with the equipment. Daniel's curled up on the living room sofa, a large whisky in his hand. It's his second. He's hugging himself, his knees drawn up, his eyes... vacant.
I tried to sit next to him but he looked at me with such pain in his eyes, begging me not to get so close, that I had to move. He's even asked that Sam and Teal'c stay out of the living room for now. He won't even let them get close to him. Hasn't let anyone get within yards of him at all. At least it's not just me he doesn't want.
"DJ, go to him. He won't let me near him."
He nods and sits next to Daniel, putting his hand on Daniel's shoulder as if he can impart some of his strength to him that way.
The alarm goes off. It's Jacob. Maybe we'll find out what happened now.
"So, are you going to tell me why you need this?" Dad asks as he enters the house.
"Daniel requested it," I say, shrugging as I have no idea why.
"Oh. Okay. Well, let's get it set up."
We move to where the others are and Dad looks shocked by Daniel's appearance. I understand why now. I also understand why DJ insisted that Teal'c and I stayed away from Daniel. Oh my God.
"You are Goa'uld!" Selmac accuses.
Daniel looks up at him and shrugs.
"Not exactly," he says, the first loud words from him since he came back to us.
"What do you mean, not exactly?" Jack demands.
"Jack, please, let him explain in his own way," DJ pleads. "It's okay."
"Why am I having a hard time believing that?" Jack snipes.
"I knew it," Daniel whispers, hugging himself and starting up with the rocking again. "I knew he wouldn't want to listen. Knew it."
"Daniel, he'll listen," DJ assures him. "Just do what you need to do."
Daniel looks at him and nods.
"Jacob, use the device on me," he says quietly. "That way you'll know that what I say is the truth."
"As you know it," Dad replies.
"Do you know of a better way?"
Dad shakes his head. He reaches out and put the device into Daniel's temple. I wince, but Daniel doesn't move. I think he's feeling numb.
"Tell us what happened," Frankie says, looking into the iris scanner.
We sit back and listen to Daniel's words.
He's told us about the Furies. About being caught. About being tortured and put into the sarcophagus.
"You are not telling us something," Frankie states as he tries to move past that.
He looks up at DJ who drops his shoulders. Daniel can't speak.
"I promised..." he starts.
"It's okay, Daniel," DJ says. "Uh, to heal him, the price was that one of us, me specifically, had to... well... Hecate wanted to spawn. Let's just say that she seemed surprised that she didn't after I..."
He stops speaking. John looks at him curiously.
"I didn't enjoy it," he mutters.
They must be speaking in their minds as DJ suddenly shrugs and gives him a little smile. I guess they'll sort that out between themselves later.
"What happened next?" I push.
Daniel swallows hard and takes a deep breath before replying.
"Hecate took a mature symbiote from a Jaffa. She wanted DJ to get snaked, but of course, that wasn't possible. We tried to fight," I tell them, begging them to believe me. "I..."
"Daniel got stabbed by Hecate," DJ says. "I got attacked by three Jaffa. There wasn't anything we could do."
The room is silent. They know what's coming. Sort of. Guess they won't guess the twist in the tale, though.
"She put the snake to me," I continue. "It didn't seem to want to enter me. Hecate was going nuts. I was losing blood and getting weaker by the minute. In the end, the symbiote did it. He joined with me."
Even though they knew it was coming, they've all gone white as I say that. Guess I'd better let him speak. My head drops. It's a natural thing to do. I can feel my eyes flash, can see the world but now it's through his eyes. It's like when I look telepathically through one of the guys' eyes. The image isn't quite real. I listen to him speaking, even though I know what he's going to say.
"My name is Apollo," he states. "I am not a danger to you or to Daniel."
Jack snorts. I knew he'd do that. This is why I asked for the machine.
"You do not believe me, O'Neill. Ask Frankie. She will tell you that I speak the truth."
She nods. "He is telling the truth," she says. "Either that or he's one hell of an actor."
"I am afraid that I am not a good actor. I joined with Daniel because I had no option. He was bleeding badly, his injury was serious. Hecate would have killed him or left him to die. The only other option would be that she would have put him back into the sarcophagus. It would have healed him, but even for healing purposes, using it more than once in such a short time would have started him back on the road to addiction. I do not know how I knew, but I knew that he was afraid of that before I even blended with him."
"So you joined with him to save his life?" Jack asks disbelievingly.
"And to save my own," he admits. "She was suspicious of me because I had refused to join with DJ. I had not indicated to her that I had realised that he is not human. Somehow, she never suspected that he was not human." He sighs. "Despite her reputation, Hecate was never the most intelligent of beings."
Sam sniggers at that, earning herself a glare from Jack. I glare back at him and wink at her.
"Are you okay with this?"
"Not entirely, but then again, it could have been worse. It could have been a real Goa'uld. Apollo is Tok'ra. If not a part of the organisation, then in actuality. When we blended, Hecate tried to get him to go into the sarc. He refused. Blustered a bit about her not trusting him to heal me. What she didn't know is that he's as scared of the sarc as I am as he knows what it will do to him. The Goa'uld attitudes are anathema to him. He hates them."
"You think he's a spontaneously generated Tok'ra?" Jacob asks.
"I believe so. Nothing he has done so far would make me think otherwise. Everything he's done makes me feel more and more like he is telling the truth. I believe him."
Jack isn't happy. Neither am I, to be honest. But this is the situation in which we find ourselves.
"What happened then, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
"After he'd stopped the bleeding of my arm and we'd rested for a few minutes, he sent the Jaffa out. He told Hecate that he wanted to speak to her alone. He pretended to put DJ back into the manacles, but he didn't lock him up completely."
"That was when I knew something was up," DJ puts in. "I'd suspected before that because... Actually, I don't know the because, I just felt it. Apollo whispered to me to hold on, he'd get me out of there as soon as he could, then he let Daniel speak to me briefly to reassure me."
"Go on," John urges.
//Do you wish to speak to them Daniel? Or would you rather I did it?//
//Well, as it's your bit of the story, I guess you should. We need them to believe in you, don't we?//
//Very well. But speak to them whenever you need to or wish to.//
It's been like that all the way. He has no desire to suppress me at all.
"I fooled Hecate into thinking that I was on her side. She was surprised that I was not bowing to her and professing absolute loyalty, but I think she was secretly pleased that one of her offspring was prepared to stand up to her. I got close to her, was speaking absolute rubbish about wishing to go back to the Land of Light to take it back, to make them pay, that sort of thing.
"When she turned her back on me, I stabbed her in the neck and killed her. Then I used the zat'nik'atel on her and made sure that she would never hurt anyone again. I could have taken over the ship and the Jaffa..."
"Why didn't you?" Jack interrupts.
"I was just coming to that. There were other Goa'uld on that ship. If they had detected that I was not completely loyal to the Goa'uld, I would have been killed. Besides, that sort of action would have kept us on the ship longer than necessary and would have put both Daniel and DJ at risk. I would have thought that you would be glad that I chose to act in the way that I did."
All the time, we're staring at the machine. Frankie is convinced that we're telling the truth, I know it.
"You are not truly Tok'ra," Selmac accuses. "You took an unwilling host. I know Daniel. There is no way that he would have agreed to it."
"This is true. However, would you have accused Jolinar of not being truly Tok'ra when she took Sam as a host? This joining is, I hope, temporary. Much as I am already most fond of Daniel, it is not his wish to be blended with me, neither is it my wish to be blended with an unwilling host. I am hoping that a willing host will be found among the humans of the Tok'ra."
"And if there is not?" Jack asks.
//Let me speak, Apollo.//
I make sure Jack knows it's me by dipping my head before speaking. I look into the scanner and tell him what is on my mind.
Daniel speaks clearly. His words are aimed at O'Neill primarily, but we all hear him.
"Jack, it's me. Daniel. I know you find this hard to believe. I know you. You think it's Apollo tricking you, but it isn't. Ask Frankie."
"It's Daniel," she confirms.
O'Neill says nothing, but he nods slowly. He does not wish to believe him.
"Look, Apollo's right. I didn't want to be a host. I certainly do not wish to remain one. However, he has knowledge about a line of Goa'uld that the Tok'ra know little about. If he is removed from me forcibly, we will lose that knowledge. I will not allow that as there are still dangers out there, whether Hades is dead or not.
"Not only that, I believe him. I do not want him to die. He saved my life. He saved DJ's life. We fucking owe him." He turns to O'Neill, his face furious. "If you love me as much as you say you do, you owe him."
With that, he stands up, pulls the device from his head and storms into his bedroom.
"I think he's had enough for now," DJ sighs and follows him, signalling to O'Neill to stay where he is for now.
"Well," Samantha states. "What do you think of that?"
O'Neill doesn't seem to know what to think.
"I believe them," Frankie says. "There wasn't even a hint of a lie throughout. Daniel definitely was telling the truth as he believes it to be, and it was him speaking, I'm sure."
"Then why won't he speak to me?" O'Neill demands, pointing to his head.
"Perhaps there is a problem?" I suggest. "You should give them a few moments and then go and join them."
"Him," he insists. "I'm not having this 'we' crap with them... him dammit."
"Jack, whether Apollo is Goa'uld or Tok'ra, it is them to which you are referring," Selmac confirms. "At the moment, whether you like it or not, Daniel's body is being shared between two sentient beings."
"Do you believe him?" O'Neill asks.
"I would like to ask a few more questions, and would wish to take them to the Tok'ra for the opinions of the rest of the council, but at the moment, I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
"Of one thing you can be sure. What Daniel says about Apollo's knowledge is absolutely correct. He knows things that we do not know. We need that information. We found Hades by pure chance. Without Daniel's use of logical thinking tied in with his knowledge about Earth's mythology, we would not have found the ships, the plans of attack... Hades would have taken the Land of Light. He may have gone straight to Earth and taken it as he would not have lost his fleet.
"All of this underlines one important point. The Tok'ra have always concerned themselves with those that they knew. The old System Lords. We did not consider the even older Goa'uld as existing, let alone as a problem. Now we know better, we can spread our net more widely and hopefully, prevent further attacks."
O'Neill says nothing, but he nods. Then he stands up and walks to their bedroom.
"Do you think he's going to reject Daniel?" Samantha asks John as the door closes.
John shrugs. "Getting snaked is something that has always been one of his greatest fears, especially since Hathor did it to him. It may well affect him badly."
I fear that could be a problem, too. I hope not. Daniel needs his support now more than ever.
Shit. What the hell am I going to say to him? I've always been afraid of this happening and now it has... I just don't know what to do. Frankly, I want to run away and not come back until it's over and done with.
DJ looks at me as I enter the room. Daniel's lying on the bed and DJ's sitting next to him, holding his hand. He believes him. Why can't I?
I watch as DJ squeezes Daniel's hand and then he stands up.
"Is John pissed off with me?" he asks.
"Fucking Hecate," he shrugs.
"No. You didn't have a choice."
"I had a choice. Not a very good choice, but I had one."
"Daniel would have been left in pain if you hadn't. You did the only thing you could do at the time. Besides, you know how I, how we feel about that. It's not deliberate cheating. You didn't want to do it. He won't be considering it. All he'll be worried about is how you're coping with it."
He stares at me then nods sharply. He goes to step away but grabs my arm and holds me tightly, whispering fiercely into my ear.
"Hurt him, reject him, send him away... whatever, O'Neill. If you do, I'll fucking kill you myself. He didn't ask for this. We were expecting to be transported back. It didn't happen. Under the circumstances, this is the best outcome that could have happened. All others lead to the point where he and I would be dead. Now, it's your choice. Do you want him dead or carrying a Tok'ra symbiote for the present time? If you'd rather him dead, do it now."
He reaches down to the handgun that I still have on me, takes it from the holster, takes the safety off and puts it in my hand.
"Now," he hisses. "While he isn't looking at you so you don't have to see his face. Do it."
His words tighten around my heart like a fist. I actually raise the fucking gun! Do I want that? Do I want him dead rather than living like this?
I can't see him. Where's he gone? Oh, it's just me. Tears in my eyes. Can't see anything. Can feel my hand shaking. I shake my head. No, no, no.
DJ takes the gun off me, I hear the click of the safety and he puts it on the bedside table. Next thing I hear is the door closing.
I squeeze my eyes and get rid of the tears. Can't afford to cry right now. Daniel's curled up on the bed, hugging himself again. Somehow I know that it's not Apollo that is upsetting him but me. My reaction to him. My barriers have gone up again. I'm hurting so I'm cutting him off.
"Daniel. Why won't you connect with me? I can't hear you."
There's a long silence but finally he breaks it.
"I can't," he whispers. "Not that I don't want to, I can't. Apollo doesn't know why but his presence is damping down my abilities. They've gone."
Shit. That must make him feel even more afraid.
I move around the bed to his side. He pulls back.
"Dammit, Daniel, I'm not going to hurt you!"
He's hugging himself closer so I put my hands on his arms and try to pull them apart.
I hear that fucking snake voice.
"Don't speak to me like that! Just... Don't!"
"You would rather I used Daniel's voice?" he asks. "How then would you be able to distinguish between us?"
"I don't know. But don't use it."
He shuts his eyes. I guess they're speaking to each other. Soon I hear Daniel's voice again.
"It is I. Apollo. Daniel has given me permission to speak like this. Until he identifies himself, it will be me that speaks to you."
"Okay. Why's he doing the self-hugging thing? What are you doing to him?"
"I am doing nothing. This brings him comfort. He does not really know why he does it but I believe that it has something to do with a childhood... Ah. He does not wish me to speak of it, so I will not. Do not attempt to move him."
"I won't. Danny, I'm not going to hurt you, for crying out loud! Let me touch you, please?"
He freezes for a moment, then the hand which is uppermost opens in invitation. I take it, sitting next to him and entwining my fingers with his.
"Do you want me to go?"
I hear his whisper. I know it's Daniel, not Apollo. No snake could sound that lost or lonely.
"No, Daniel. I don't want you to go. I'm unsure as to what's going on here, but you have to stay, okay?"
Silence falls for a few minutes. I don't know what to say to him at all. How the hell do I reassure him? How the hell do I reassure myself?
I know it's Apollo when he calls me that. Daniel only does it when he's either teasing me or angry with me. I can tell from his emotions that he's neither.
"Yes. I was wondering, what will it take to convince you that I am telling the truth?"
"I don't know. We've seen snakes pretending before. Some are really good at it."
"You were more readily able to accept Athene than me."
"But she isn't inside Daniel."
I don't think there's any point in lying or holding back, is there?
"What would you have had me do? DJ will tell you, will confirm that if I had not joined with Daniel, he - they would most likely have died. I did not wish them to die, neither did I wish to die myself. The survival instinct is a strong one."
"I know." I take a deep breath and ask, "What will happen if the Tok'ra don't find a host for you?"
"I do not know. I promise you that I do not wish to stay with an unwilling host. However, I do not wish to die. I am more than willing to share my knowledge with you but I could not do that if I were dead or in an animal which could not communicate with you.
"I am prepared to do anything it takes to convince you and the Tok'ra that I am not naturally a Goa'uld. I have no desire to rule a planet, let alone many. I have no desire to torture or kill. I wish to have no slaves. If you think of any method by which I could demonstrate my honesty, then please, tell me."
I think about it for a few moments and then come up with an idea.
"The Tok'ra have a machine which they developed from the Tollen's one. It stops the s..." I'm about to say snake but I change my mind. "Symbiote from speaking. At least then there would be no doubt that it's Daniel we're listening to."
"I would be more than willing for you to use that machine. Also, Daniel knows of a drug, an anaesthetic which can knock out a symbiote. However, he does not know what effect it would have on him, so whereas I would be willing for you to use it on me, I am not willing for you to put Daniel at any risk. You could use that only if I could be convinced that Daniel would not be harmed by it."
"Because it would harm you?" I ask. Well, I've got to, haven't I?
"In this case, no. Because it would harm him. I would recover. And if he were badly damaged, and if I were truly a Goa'uld, I could just leave him to die and take another host. That would not be a good strategy on your part, O'Neill."
"No, I guess not. Though when it's been used, it hasn't shown any permanent side effects for host or symbiote."
"All drugs have the potential for permanent damage, O'Neill. Just because it has not shown the worst side of its nature before, does not mean it could not happen. The Tollen machine would be the safest for all concerned, I believe."
"Yeah. Guess you're right. I'll go ask Jake if he could bring it."
"Very well. In the meantime, Daniel and I should go to the tunnels, to his study. We can start to catalogue my knowledge."
He turns as he speaks and sees that I'm not happy with that idea. I hear him sigh.
"Jack." I look at him and see it's Daniel again. I know it's him. Don't really need a machine to prove it.
"Apollo already knows all that I know. He knows all of the security arrangements, our address, everything. There is no point whatsoever in keeping me from there."
"True. But I'll ask that someone is with you at all times. As much to protect you as us."
"I'm not going to do anything stupid, Jack."
"I still don't trust Apollo. What if he decides to take you somewhere?"
He shakes his head sadly.
Then he turns his back on me again. I reach down to touch him but find that somehow, this time, I can't.
Jack's asked that Dad arranges for the separation machine, or whatever it's called, to be brought here. I think he's reluctant to allow Daniel to go to the Tok'ra for some reason. Possibly because he's worried that Daniel will be somehow persuaded to stay there.
I'd say that I couldn't see that happening, that Daniel wouldn't voluntarily leave Jack like that, but at the moment, I'm not so sure. Not that Daniel would want to go, but that he would feel that he was being sent away. There's a difference between the two.
Over the years, I've watched the guys and how they interact, both as friends and as lovers. They've both been hurt by others - deliberately and unintentionally - so they expect others to leave them or to hurt them. Neither would leave the other, yet both expect the other to leave them. So they put up barriers whenever something goes wrong, to protect themselves. By doing that, they try to push the other one away, to prove that they were right, that they would be left.
It's a crazy situation, and not one which either of them even realises, I think. All I can hope is that for once, their stubborn streaks will kick in.
I've told Jack that I'll work with Daniel in the tunnels, but he insisted that at least one of the androids goes down there, too. He doesn't trust Apollo not to hurt me or to try to take Daniel away from him. It hasn't dawned on him that if Apollo wanted to do that, he could have killed DJ, or sent him away and taken Hecate's mother ship somewhere else to prevent himself being 'captured' by us.
I'm beginning to believe that Apollo is on our side. I don't trust him implicitly yet, but I'm getting to the stage that I'll trust him as much as I trust any Tok'ra. And I'm sure he's Tok'ra.
I was trying to figure out why I'm sure about that, and I think it's the telepathy thing kicking in. I can't read Daniel's mind, but I can sense some of his emotions. Not as many as Daniel probably could if it had been one of us with Apollo, but enough to know that even though he's upset, it's not because of Apollo per se. It's more Jack's reaction to him.
Hang on, why...?
"Daniel, why can we hear Dad's thoughts but not yours?"
"I don't know, Sam. I've been trying to figure that one out myself. It dawned on me that I haven't heard anything from Selmac, but had assumed that I had because I've known her as long as I've known your father, so I associate the one with the other.
"I couldn't get anything other than emotions from Hecate, but then she was a Goa'uld and not Tok'ra, so she would have been suppressing her host's thoughts. Apollo isn't suppressing mine. You should be able to at least hear some strong emotional responses from me."
He laughs hollowly as he says that. I know he's had a few since he came back to us, so he's right, I should have picked that up.
"Perhaps I can help?" Apollo asks.
"Oh? You have an idea?"
"A possibility, no more. I have done my best to not fully blend with Daniel so that leaving him will be easier on both of us. Perhaps that is blocking your ability to hear him as I need to put barriers between us to prevent the complete blending."
"That might explain it," I agree. "Unfortunately we don't understand our abilities fully so I couldn't confirm it. I wouldn't have a clue how to set up an experiment to find out, either."
"At least you should be reassured that when I leave Daniel, he should regain his abilities. I hope so, anyway. I am not positive."
He shrugs apologetically and it looks like Daniel's body language when he does it.
"Anyway," I sigh. "How about we start on this history of Hades' side of things?"
"I would be delighted to," he states.
DJ is with us, partly because of Jack's wish, but, I think, mainly because he doesn't want to leave Daniel's side. Neither do I.
We've been working for hours. It's been weird hearing Apollo's voice rather than Daniel's, but I'm getting used to it. DJ's been doing the typing, and we've discovered a lot about the Greek Goa'uld side of things. We were right about the trunks, they were carved as a propaganda history. Propaganda being the operative word.
Hera had been driven from the 'family', which is why she ended up with the Morrigan. Apollo has no idea how she got hold of Jack's DNA, though, as Hera had been banished over a thousand years ago.
Zeus may not be dead. Last he was seen, he was badly damaged. However, it was at the time that the Goa'uld as a whole were on Earth. Ra hadn't even taken over the planet at that time; that came a little later when most of the other Goa'uld had taken some humans and scattered over the galaxy. Given that, it is a possibility that Zeus was taken in by another Goa'uld and healed. Anubis had disappeared for millennia, so had Hades. Zeus being alive is not beyond the realms of possibility, however unlikely.
Daniel had been right in his supposition about the Furies and Medusa being related, but more from the fact that they were from a second wave of Goa'uld that arrived on Earth, in alien hosts. They all had the snake-hair at that time, but it wasn't snakes as we'd know them.
The alien species isn't something we've come across yet, and frankly, I don't want to. They sound horrible. It wasn't hair in our sense, but a head covering of tentacles. We were just 'lucky' that Medusa was a Goa'uld queen, because according to Apollo, her hair had nothing whatsoever to do with it.
There has been a lot more information from him, too. DJ's been building up a massive family tree, some of which we can disregard as time and enemies have killed them off, but others are well worth looking into, either by us, the SGC or the Tok'ra.
I'm hungry. I mention it to the others and DJ grins at me.
"I'm not," he teases.
"Oh shut up. Daniel? You hungry?"
"Uh... I guess so. Is there anything down here we could eat?"
"Well, the place is full of food. I guess I can find something."
Somehow, I don't think he wants to go back up to the house. He's afraid that Jack is going to reject him again.
As soon as Sam goes, Apollo moves closer to DJ.
"I guess you are wondering about Pan," he whispers.
DJ looks over our shoulder and nods. "Didn't want to mention it, because we weren't completely honest with the others about that."
"I understand. He was never a Goa'uld. There were many aliens on Earth at that time, some had arrived before the Goa'uld, others arrived with them. One species of alien discovered some writings, believed by the Goa'uld to be from the Ancients but which were kept by the aliens. With the Goa'uld dominating the planet, some of the other species decided it was time to leave.
"However, the stargate was in Goa'uld hands, so it was not available for them to use. There was a way for them to leave, and that would be to hand over the writings. That would have been a bad move and they knew it, so they disappeared and went into hiding.
"Given what I know now about Thoth and Pan, not to mention the spirits of the Salish that you met, I would think that the writings were about the ability to ascend or to transform into other physical structures, either different animals or other beings. The spirits of the Salish possibly changed form to get through the gate unseen, or they had ships, I do not know.
"But there is something about their abilities which makes me consider that they had some connection with the alliance on Earth."
"Yes. All of the alien species which were not Goa'uld, at least those that I know about, formed the alliance to demand access to the stargate."
"Ah, I see. I wonder if that was like the alliance of the big four? The Nox, the Furlings, the Ancients and the Asgard."
"Possibly. But, I feel, it was later than that and also, not as effective."
"Here you are, Daniel."
Sam walks in with some food and puts it down on the desk for me.
"Thanks, Sam. I'm starving actually."
"Yeah, me too. Wonder what time it is."
She looks at her watch and so do I. It's two in the morning. We've been up for nearly two days. Oops.
"Eat that and then go rest," DJ orders.
"I'm okay," I shrug.
//Daniel, DJ is correct. We should both rest.//
//You can rest if you want. I'll go over the family tree and see if I can...//
//No, Daniel. You will sleep. If you do not sleep, then neither will I. We both need to rest.//
//But you are afraid to return to your bedroom because you are afraid that Jack will send you away.//
He's right. I can't imagine that Jack would want to share a bed with me. But then he doesn't want me to be alone, either.
I look at DJ in the hope that he will have an idea.
"You could use your room down here, Daniel," he suggests. "I'll come and rest with you. Guess I could do with recharging my own batteries."
I see him speak to John. I can tell when he does it as he does the same thing that I do... used to do when speaking telepathically. I'm aware that I do it - cock my head slightly to one side - but can't really seem to stop myself from doing it. When he finishes, he gives me a small nod. One that says it'll be okay. I can only hope.
We've finished eating, I've made the most of the bathroom facilities down here - and, I can tell you, taking a leak when there's someone else looking through your eyes is just plain weird - and now I'm heading for bed. I don't want to sleep down here, I want my bed. But...
But Jack won't want me up there. He won't say no, but I know he doesn't want me up there.
Sam tried to persuade me to go upstairs but I managed to bluster my way through an explanation. Jack doesn't trust Apollo not to hurt anyone, so I don't want to be up where the humans are without an android to prevent anything happening. Much as I know that Apollo wouldn't hurt them, they don't. She sort of accepted that explanation, but I could see that she wasn't happy with the idea. Guess I'd better go to bed.
Jacob has returned to the Tok'ra. He said that he will return tomorrow with the Tollen machine. In the meantime, we have decided to retire. John, Frankie and Kar Shel have offered to stay here, to go to the tunnels so that they can both rest and watch over us. O'Neill is not happy.
I believe that he wishes Daniel's presence, yet he does not.
"O'Neill. You should stop pacing. It is doing you no good."
He stops and glares at me for a moment, then his face softens.
"What am I going to do, Teal'c?" he asks, most plaintively.
"You will do what is necessary, O'Neill. I believe that Daniel is not in any immediate danger. I do not really believe that he is in any danger. The more I learn of Apollo, the more I am convinced by his arguments."
"You think he's Tok'ra and not pretending?"
"I am almost certain. It would have been most difficult for him to have avoided detection. What do you think?"
"I don't know, Teal'c. When Daniel's talking, or at least when it is supposed to be him, I'm sure it's him. But when Apollo speaks, or when a bit of time has passed, the doubts creep in."
"Because you truly are worried or because you are upset that Daniel is a host?"
He looks at me and shrugs. "I don't know," he repeats. "It could be either. That's what's setting me on edge. If I knew it was just because I'm angry that Daniel's been snaked... Let's just say that it would explain a lot of my emotions and I could probably accept Apollo a bit easier. I guess I'm just naturally suspicious. Anything that seems too good to be true usually is."
"You think that Apollo joining with Daniel is too good to be true?"
He shakes his head. "I think that the chances of a spontaneously generated Tok'ra being the symbiote chosen to take Daniel as a host are slim. I think that given the situation the guys were in, and even allowing for Apollo being one of the genetic mutations, if that's what it is that causes a Tok'ra, then it's too good to be true that he ended up in Daniel, saving his life, killing our enemy, saving DJ..."
"I understand. Sometimes, however, a coincidence is simply a coincidence. Good fortune, if Daniel's current predicament could be viewed in that manner, sometimes occurs. Over the years, we have had our share of both good and bad fortune, of luck if you wish to call it that. We could just be 'lucky' that Daniel was forced to join with Apollo. I believe that we will discover Apollo's true nature when the time comes for him to take another host."
"You think he's going to change his mind?"
"I am saying that if he does not wish to change in the way he says that he does, then there would be more grounds for suspicion. Even though a Goa'uld spy could do much damage within the Tok'ra, it would be of more benefit to Apollo to remain joined with Daniel. We know more gate addresses. Apollo undoubtedly knows this."
"I see what you're saying, Teal'c," O'Neill sighs. "What will happen when, if Apollo does join with the Tok'ra? Will he tell them about our abilities? Will he tell them about the other gate addresses?"
"That remains to be seen, O'Neill. I am afraid that I cannot answer you."
He nods silently and then yawns.
"You should retire," I tell him. "Perhaps in the morning things will be a little clearer."
"Yeah, perhaps. 'Night, Teal'c."
I watch as he heads to his room. He looks extremely distressed.
Okay, this is not good. I've tried to settle in our bed but I can't. Daniel should be here. I hear some noise, the rings... Now someone's coming in. Got to see who it is. Could be Daniel.
I guess she hears my disappointment.
"Daniel's sleeping in the tunnel," she says without me asking where he is. "Says that he knows you're worried about having Apollo up here where you and I are. He's with the androids. Not even a Goa'uld could take four androids, Jack."
"True..." But is that the real reason he's down there? I guess she sees the conflict in my eyes.
"Jack, he's scared. He didn't say it but I know him now. He's afraid that if he comes up here, you're going to send him back down there, or you'll let him sleep in your bed and not sleep in it yourself. He can convince himself that he's doing this for you. He can't convince himself that you'd accept him."
Guess that put me in my place, eh?
"Okay. Thanks, Sam. Maybe I'll go down and see him."
"Jack, he's exhausted. Chances are, he's out cold already. Apollo was nagging him to go rest. Let him sleep."
She goes to bed herself and I return to my room. Our room. Our bed.
It's no good. Can't sleep. It's four o'clock in the fucking morning, I've been up for God knows how long, and I can't sleep. I should be out for the count, but I'm tossing and turning... fidgeting... I've even tried jerking off on the grounds that I'm usually asleep within minutes of coming. It didn't work. My usual plan to jerk off is to think of Daniel. Somehow, that's freaking me out. I tried it, I tried hard. I saw him lying there, mouth open, panting... Then his eyes opened and they were the flashing eyes of the snake. Fuck it.
I'll go down to the tunnel. See with my own eyes that he's sleeping. Yeah, I'll do that.
But if I use the rings, I might wake him. Doh, you are an idiot, O'Neill.
Gimli, send me to the tunnels, please.
Daniel started it with the 'please' thing to the ship. Seems we all do it.
Anyway, it's done, I'm down there silently. Hope he's gone to our room down here. Somehow it'll hurt if he hasn't. Good, he has.
I turn and see John standing behind me as I look inside the room. He taps me on the shoulder and nods so that we walk away.
"Can't sleep?" he asks.
"I'm used to him."
"I know. It's why I'm not even trying to rest. DJ's in there with him, just in case I guess."
"Probably because he knows that Daniel wouldn't sleep alone," I suggest.
"That, too. What do you want to do? He needs this sleep."
"I know. I do, too. I just can't."
"Go to him."
Should I? That would mean sleeping with Apollo, too. John sees my dilemma.
"Jack, you're going to sleep. You're not going to do anything else. Go hold him."
Guess he's right.
I tried not to disturb DJ but I guess he's not as asleep as he seemed to be.
He turns and looks at me, considers his next move and then gets up. He was lying next to Daniel but he wasn't touching him, so I don't think it'll wake Daniel.
"I'll just..." He points to the door.
"You don't have to."
He nods, but then walks out without looking over his shoulder.
I need to touch Daniel, it's the only way I'm going to sleep. As long as that snake doesn't wake up, it'll be okay. It has to be.
I feel someone moving. Oh, it's Daniel. I'm in the tunnel. What time is it? I look at my watch and see that it's ten in the morning. At least I got some sleep, so that's good.
"I am afraid that he is still asleep, O'Neill. He is exhausted."
Fuck, it's Apollo.
I must be taking too long to reply 'cause he's speaking again.
"I am glad to see that you came to him. Your behaviour toward him is disturbing us."
"If he is disturbed, so am I. He is more afraid of losing you than he is of sharing his life with me."
"You're sayin' he'd keep you if I..." I don't finish it. I can't.
He shakes his - Daniel's dammit - head.
"No. Not that."
Daniel's body moves a bit and somehow I know he's stirring.
"Yeah, it's me."
"Oh. Good. Um... If you don't mind me asking, why?"
"Why are you here? I mean, this bed isn't as comfortable."
He uses that as the excuse and I let it ride. I don't want to fight.
He blinks furiously and then I see a smile reach his eyes.
"Missed you too."
He moves until he's right next to me, his head on my chest, his arms wrapped around me. I hold him close but don't take it further. Somehow, I just can't. Not yet.
Dad's here, but we haven't gone down to the tunnels yet. We're waiting till we hear from Jack. I haven't long been awake, even Teal'c needed a long meditation. We've had longer missions, had more traumatic battles, but somehow, this hit us all hard.
"You really think this will convince Jack that it's Daniel speaking?" Dad asks.
"If you can convince him that it works, then maybe. I'm sure he believes that it's Daniel, but he just can't accept it. You have to know how much this has scared him."
"I do. I wish I could make him believe that hosting a Tok'ra isn't as bad as he thinks."
"Yeah, well, it's not the Tok'ra that bother him. He's just not certain that Apollo isn't a Goa'uld." I drink some more coffee. God knows I need it. "By the way, what's the opinion of the council?"
Dad shrugs. "They're not certain. I mean, they accept that a spontaneous birth of a Tok'ra can happen, after all, that's how we came into being. And they're reassured by the fact that DJ was able to confirm that Apollo didn't enter the sarcophagus and so on. But..."
"O'Neill feels that Apollo's status as Tok'ra would seem to be too good to be true," Teal'c says.
"Could be," Dad sighs. "Let's hope not."
We hear the rings from the tunnel and stop speaking, waiting to see if it's the guys or the androids. They haven't come up yet.
It's all of them. That's good.
I can't help laughing as Daniel heads straight for the coffee pot. Seems that having a symbiote or not, he needs the caffeine. It could just be habit, but I'm not convinced by that. As soon as it's poured, he sits at the table, drinks some of it and then looks at Dad, blinking as he tries to figure out what's happening.
"Oh, of course," he says. "The Tollen machine. Where do you want us?"
"Wherever you want to be," Selmac replies. "Why don't you finish your coffee first?"
Seems that Selmac knows Daniel all too well.
Daniel nods, drinks the coffee and then decides on moving to the sofa. Guess he wants to be comfortable. As he sits, however, I notice that his eyes search out Jack - who, by chance or design, I don't know, is still standing in the kitchen area.
Jack, I think Daniel wants you over there.
What? Oh. Of course. Sure.
He doesn't sound too happy but he makes the effort and heads to Daniel. I can feel that he's torn between wanting to comfort him and not wishing to be seen to encourage Apollo to stay.
Oblivious to this, Dad puts the machine around Daniel's neck and then we wait. Daniel rubs his forehead.
"Right, are you happy? It's me. Not Apollo. He's not a Goa'uld, I'm sure of it. And the best thing for all would be for the Tok'ra to search out a willing host for him. He doesn't want to stay with me. I won't allow him to die for no reason but I don't want to remain joined either.
"Staying with me like this is not good for either of us. He's doing his best not to blend with me completely to make the separation easier on both of us. However, he's fighting a strong genetic imperative which is urging him to join with me. We need a host as soon as possible or else he's going to have to give in to his urge."
I look at Dad, as do the rest of us. Dad nods.
"Daniel's right. It would be possible for them to separate, but it would take a lot out of both of them if they had been joined completely. The greater the blending, the greater the risk. If you are now convinced that Apollo is Tok'ra, we can go to the Tok'ra homeworld and ask the humans among us for volunteers."
"Don't you just need one?" Jack asks.
"Eventually, yes. But when there is no immediate medical crisis, such as when Selmac and I blended, it is better for the host and symbiote to make sure that they are suited to each other. Saves arguments," he adds with a shrug.
"Uh folks, could we remove this?" Daniel suddenly puts in. "I mean, are you now convinced I'm telling the truth?"
"I've only sensed the truth from you," I assure him. "Can't read your mind or anything, but I've still been picking up on your emotions. I believe you."
"I cannot sense emotions," Teal'c states, "but I have faith in the technologies and believe that you are telling the truth as you know it."
We all look at Jack and he nods slowly, as if considering his words.
"Jack, you can sense my emotions," Daniel pleads. "Open your mind. If there's any doubt in your mind that I'm telling the truth, that Apollo is Tok'ra, then..."
He stops speaking and drops his head in his hands. Finally he looks up and speaks, his voice quiet.
"Then shoot me. Please. I trust your instinct and I trust you. If you truly believe that Apollo is Goa'uld, then don't let me live like this. If there's something you can sense that no one else can, if your gut feeling is that he's fooling us and wants to take me away from here, or worse, to pass on information to other Goa'uld, to betray everyone, then I'm begging you, stop him. Kill us both."
He's staring into Jack's eyes, probably trying to flag every emotion he's feeling at the moment. I can feel them. He's afraid that Jack doesn't believe him, he's anxious to return to life with us all... He's deeply saddened that Jack hasn't automatically accepted his word. Though I'm sure that he - of all people - understands why Jack is so reluctant to believe in Apollo.
So he doesn't blame Jack. The sadness I'm feeling from him is different from the sadness he felt when they had that fight. Then I could sense the anger with Jack, the blame. This time, there's none of that. If there's any blame, it's of himself for either not convincing Jack well enough or for being fooled by Apollo.
"Let's go," Jack says. "We'll find another host."
All of a sudden, Daniel calls out, "Wait, take this off please."
Dad removes the device and we see Daniel curl up on the sofa, his head in his hands.
"Daniel? What the fuck is going on?" Jack demands.
"Headache," I hear. "Fucking migraine."
"What? That didn't happen to Skarra," I remind them.
"Klorel had completely blended with Skarra," Dad states. "Perhaps the fact that they have not completely blended means that there was a side effect to using the machine."
"Perhaps you had not copied the machine as well as you had thought," Teal'c adds.
Wish he hadn't. That won't do anything for Jack's peace of mind.
In the meantime, I fetch some industrial-strength painkillers (Daniel's prescription migraine pills for when he spends too long in front of the computer) and some water and kneel in front of him.
"Here, take these. Then go and lie down on the bed. I'm sure Apollo will help get rid of the headache soon."
"Can't, he has it too. This hurt him badly."
He downs the tablets and then practically runs for the bedroom. The door doesn't shut behind him and we all hear him heading directly for the bathroom and that is swiftly followed by the unmistakable sound of Daniel throwing up.
"Ouch, sounds like a bad one," DJ mutters.
Fuck, my head hurts. Apollo's head hurts. I'm moaning, he's moaning - we're a pair of moaners at the moment.
//Can't you cure yourself?// I ask him.
//I am attempting to cure us both, Daniel.//
//Just work on yourself. Then you can do me.//
//But you will be in pain.//
//I am in pain! Do it, Apollo. It'll be quicker, I'm sure. Besides, if you let them, the pills will help me.//
//I am not attempting to stop them. I am sorry, Daniel, but only by blending with you completely will I be able to cure this quickly. It is possible that the barriers I have tried to put up are preventing the medicine from working as rapidly as it would normally do. And of course, you have just been sick. You may well have lost the medicine before it could start to work.//
//We can't blend. Not if you're to get a new host. Changing hosts could damage you.//
//The risk is not that great.//
//But there is a risk, isn't there? A bigger one than normal.//
//That is true. I am willing to take it to cure your headache.//
//I'm not. Just cure yourself now.//
//It will take time. Shut your eyes, Daniel. Perhaps the darkness will aid us.//
We stop talking as I do as he suggests. I'm curled up on my bed, my head under a pillow. Dammit, I feel like I'm sitting in the middle of a percussion section and watching a psychedelic display.
The bed dips, someone's sitting on it. I go to move the pillow but hear, "Leave it, Danny. Just relax and try to get rid of the headache."
It's Jack. He's stroking my back, his voice is gentle. Somehow, it's blunting the pain.
Phew, that's better. It's gone. Didn't like that one bit.
//You feeling better, Apollo?//
//I am, thank you. And yourself?//
//Much better, thanks. I guess we'd better get up and go to the Tok'ra.//
Somehow, I know that he's nervous about that. Can't say I blame him really. I'd be nervous about it if it were me in his place.
I pull the pillow off my head and see that Jack's still there. Wonder how long he's been here?
He jumps a little. Guess he's been thinking or something.
"You better?" he asks.
"Much. Thanks. And, well, thanks for..." I wave my hand a little, then decide to take his in it instead. He stares at our fingers for a while, not saying anything. "Jack? Is something wrong?"
Again, his body reacts to my words as if he's afraid of me.
"Uh, no. Nothing's wrong. Just needed to make sure you were okay."
The silence falls between us again and I'm stuck for words. I know that something's wrong but I can't figure it out. Dammit, I'd gotten so used to the telepathy. Sure, I can read his body language, but it's like I've lost my sight or my hearing, I'd come to depend on it so much.
"Jack, I..." I don't know what to say. Instead, I kneel up so that I can look him eye to eye. "It's still me," I try. "I still love you."
Fuck, I think that was the wrong thing to say. He's standing up.
I'm afraid to ask it. Doesn't he...?
He turns away for a moment, then he looks at me, his eyes sad.
"Daniel. I... Look, I love you, okay? I'm not going to leave you. I just can't deal with this. I'm sorry, I really am. I want to be there for you but I'm freaking out here. Just give me time, will ya?"
"You won't need the time, Jack. We're ready to go."
"Sure. Why, don't you believe us?"
"Of course I do. It's just..." He shrugs and gives me his lopsided smile. "Come on, let's get it over with. Maybe we can return to normal after it's done."
"Normal?" I ask. "What the fuck is that?"
For the first time since I got back, he's giving me a genuine grin. Somehow, that means more than all the words we could say.
I'm so relieved to have had a shower and got changed into some nice, clean clothes. It's making me feel much more positive as we go to the Tok'ra. However, as we step closer to the gate, I can sense that Apollo is getting more and more anxious.
//I do not know, Daniel. I am feeling most nervous.//
//About going to the Tok'ra? Or finding another host?//
//I wish I knew. It is as if I can sense that something is not right - or will not be right. If I knew, I could tell you.//
//It's probably just going into the unknown. I'll bet all symbiotes feel it when they go to find a willing host. I mean, you've got to spend a couple of hundred years together. That's a long time, isn't it?//
//You are probably correct, Daniel. Once you and I have separated, I will not be in a position to change hosts for quite some time. It is different if we leave a dead or dying host. We can leave them with no worry about their condition. That way, we can join easily with another as we are intact in ourselves. But I will not be completely whole when I leave you. I will recover, but it will take time, so I must get on with my host immediately. That is not to say that I am changing my mind about this, I am not. The damage is not permanent to me, but it is, as you say, a nerve-wracking experience.//
//I'm sure you'll be okay. By the way, when Jolinar died, Sam was left with some of her memories. When the Goa'uld was frozen out of Jack, he wasn't left with anything. What will happen to me? Will I remember anything of you?//
//I would not think that you will remember much. Sam retained Jolinar's memories because Jolinar died inside her. Jack never blended with the Goa'uld in the first place, so he never had them. I have done everything I can to protect you from my memories, but you may well retain a few.//
//Why did you do that?//
The others stop and look at us as I stop dead. I guess I want to concentrate on his answer. It takes him a moment, then I hear him again.
//Daniel, my mother and the provider of my genetic memory was one of the most vile and violent Goa'uld that has ever lived. Believe me when I say to you that you would not want to remember what I can remember. Despite my insistence that I have refrained from blending with you completely purely to protect us both physically, I have also been afraid that you would pick up on my memories if I did it. I would not wish that on my worst enemy, so why I would wish it on my... best friend, if you will allow me to call you that...//
//Sure. I guess I must be at the moment. Go on.//
//As I was saying, I would not wish that on you. It would be different if we were to be together for the rest of your life. I could assist you when you discovered each memory. I could help you cope with the knowledge. But as I am leaving you, I cannot be there for you.//
//I understand. Thanks, Apollo. I appreciate it.//
//Be aware, I cannot promise that you will have no memories. A few may well have entered your mind, perhaps those that are most relevant to me personally. When you slept, I had to come to terms with who I am and why I am Tok'ra and not Goa'uld, when all logic says that I should be the latter. I did my best not to allow the knowledge to enter your mind, but I am very young. I am not experienced in this matter.//
"Daniel, why have you stopped?"
"Oh, sorry guys. Apollo and I were just discussing something. Guess I didn't want to trip up."
"You having second thoughts?"
"No, Jacob. Not that at all. Just passing some information between us, that's all. Come on, let's get through the gate. Apollo and I can finish the discussion while we wait for volunteers."
Daniel's body language is stating that he is more and more reluctant to step through the gate. It is only determination on his part that is pushing him toward it. I am concerned by this behaviour.
The wormhole has established and Daniel starts to walk toward it, then he stops.
"I am sorry," Apollo states. "Something is not right. I... I cannot do this yet."
"You cannot do what?" O'Neill demands. "Leave him? Step through the gate? WHAT?"
John holds O'Neill steady as he looks like he wishes to attack Apollo.
"I do not know. I wish I did. I am concerned that something is terribly wrong and I cannot tell you what it is. If I could, I would."
"Teal'c said you'd be reluctant to leave him," O'Neill growls. "That a Goa'uld would rather stay with us."
"It is not that! I... I am afraid. I believe it is for Daniel's sake, but I do not know!"
Apollo shouts that last phrase, frustration is evident in his voice. He turns and runs toward the house, O'Neill swiftly at his heels. It takes only a moment before O'Neill dives for him and tackles him to the ground.
"Oh no you don't. You said you'd leave him."
"And so I wish to. But something is wrong! Why will you not believe me? I do not wish to harm Daniel and I believe that stepping through that gate will bring great harm to him."
Apollo's voice is so passionate - a tone rare for a Goa'uld - that O'Neill rolls off him. We all gather around them.
Daniel's head drops and when we hear him speak next, we know that it is him and not his symbiote.
"Jack, he's scared. Really scared. I'm convinced he doesn't know why, either."
"Could there be a bomb inside you? Like there was inside Cassandra Frasier?" I suggest.
"I don't think so," Daniel shrugs. He looks to DJ. "She didn't have any time to do anything like that, did she?"
"I didn't notice anything," DJ replies. "I was watching you the whole time you were there. Except for when you were in the sarcophagus and she couldn't have done anything then as I was, well, keeping her occupied."
"Could it have been put inside the snake?" O'Neill asks.
"I do not think that it would be possible," Selmac answers.
"Apollo doesn't think it's that," Daniel adds. "He says it's more fundamental and to do with me, but he doesn't know what it is. He's really frustrated as he wants to change hosts."
"Could you bring some volunteers here?" Samantha asks. "That way they won't have to step through the gate."
At her words, we see Daniel's body relax a little.
"Apollo thinks that would be a good idea," he says. "In fact, he's begging that you do that."
"Why does he not speak himself?" I ask.
Daniel looks at me and shrugs. "He doesn't think that Jack will believe him."
We have returned to the house and we are waiting for Jacob to return with potential hosts. O'Neill has resorted to pacing up and down. Daniel has gone back down to the tunnel with DJ, Samantha and Frankie to work on more of Apollo's information. They have noted down the most important information already, but there is no harm in having more.
"O'Neill! You will cease walking up and down the room. It is most aggravating."
He stops dead and looks angrily at me. Then he considers his next move, decides that discretion is indeed the better part of valour and does not argue with me.
"Sorry, Teal'c. I'm just frustrated, that's all."
"I understand. However, wearing out the rugs will not assist your frame of mind."
Teal'c's right. I'm not helping myself or anyone else. But Apollo's actions have totally freaked me out. Why won't he go through the gate?
That's it, I'm going to see him. I've got to find out what's happening down there.
"O'Neill. Where are you going?"
"Uh, just down the tunnels, Teal'c."
"You will not upset Daniel any further."
His tone tells me that there's no option there, but it wasn't necessary.
"Don't worry, T. I don't have any intention of doing that. I just need to see him."
"Very well. But if you do hurt him, you will answer to me. You have acted badly towards him since his return, shutting him out even when you have been with him. Even I have detected the barrier that you have put up between you. Perhaps it is your barrier that is preventing you from hearing his emotional responses."
He could be right. I acknowledge him with a nod and then head to the tunnels.
"Jack? What are you doing down here. I didn't think you'd be interested in history."
Daniel's trying to keep it light but I can tell that he's surprised that I'm anywhere near him. Dammit. I promised that I wasn't going to shut him out again, that I'd try my best never to get jealous...
Jealous? I'm jealous! Fuck it. I'm jealous of a fucking snake! Thank God Daniel's lost his empathic abilities. He'd kill me if he could sense that. I've got to shut this down and fast.
"Can't I come see you?" I ask, going for the hurt tone of voice.
"You can see me anytime, you know that," he replies cautiously.
I guess I should go for the shock tactics, so I put my hand out and pull him to stand up. I'm still not sure that I can kiss him... Screw that, I can. Don't have to go for the full-on Frenchie, but I can kiss his lips, just to make sure he knows that I mean what I say, that I'm not going to leave him, no matter what.
When we break apart he looks stunned, but relieved.
"How are you coping with this?" I ask.
"Better than I'd expect to be," he answers honestly. "It would be totally different if he was a Goa'uld, Jack. Then I really would want you to kill me rather than make me live like that. But he lets me think, lets me speak, we talk a lot... In a way, it's like the telepathic connection we have. When you and I connected and you saw things through my eyes, you could see everything I saw, hear everything I heard and know what I was thinking, right?"
"But it was still kind of weird. You knew you were seeing everything through my eyes."
"Yeah. That about covers it."
"Well, that's what it's like for Apollo at the moment as I speak. And when he takes over, I see everything... telepathically through his eyes. If that makes sense."
"It does. I don't think it would if we hadn't had our mental connection, but I can imagine what it's like for you."
He takes me by the hand and leads me to our room down here. We sit on the bed and though he doesn't touch me, I can see that his body language is screaming at me to hold him, so swallowing the bit of disgust I feel because of Apollo's presence, I wrap my arm around him. It's a simple act, but Daniel needs it. I guess that I do, too.
"Has Apollo figured out what's up yet?"
"No. He really doesn't understand it, Jack. It's like a premonition, or something that he knows but that he hasn't grasped why he knows it just yet. You know what it's like; when your trouble radar goes off and you don't know why but you know you have to listen to it. The impression I get is that he wants to keep me away from the crowds on the new Tok'ra homeworld."
Of course, now that the humans are living on the surface there, they're living together in a community. There's a fair crowd near the gate now.
"Do you believe that he's Tok'ra?" he asks bluntly.
"I'm not sure, Daniel. I mean, I'm prepared to believe it because I need to believe it. I can't explain why I'm so reluctant to believe it, though."
I'm so not going to explain. That would get me into so much trouble.
"Jack? It's me, Jacob. I've found some volunteers."
Jacob's voice comes over the comms and I look at Daniel.
"You ready for this?"
"Not sure. Have to, though."
I nod. "Thanks, Jake. We'll be up at the house in a minute."
Before we leave I grab Daniel's arm and ask, "Daniel, can I speak to Apollo for a moment?"
He dips his head and when it raises again, I know it's Apollo speaking. He's using Daniel's voice out of respect for my feelings, though.
"O'Neill. You wished to speak to me directly?"
"Uh, yeah. Look, I'm sure that Daniel's probably explained things to you, but I've got to say it myself." He inclines his head to make me go on, so I do. "Our telepathy is a secret. The extra gates are secret. It's not that we don't trust the Tok'ra, it's just that there are some things best kept secret for a while."
"I understand. Daniel has already explained this to me. It would not be wise for some others to access the evolutionary slime as they may not be careful with its use. And should the Goa'uld ever infiltrate the Tok'ra in future and they were to get hold of the information... It does not bear thinking about. Neither does the thought of the knowledge of the free gates getting into their domain.
"I know that you do not trust me, O'Neill, but I swear that I shall die before I reveal this information. It is far too sensitive to become common knowledge."
"Good. I'm glad you see that. You'll have to keep it from your host, too. Or else make sure he can keep his mouth shut."
"I shall. I am sure that over time, you will come to trust me."
"Just do what you said you'd do and that'll help no end."
"Then we should go to the house. Let us hope that there is a willing host with whom I could join."
"Don't be too fussy, eh?"
He smiles broadly, stands still, draws his hands down the sides of Daniel's body and says, "I am afraid that I have been spoiled by the beauty of my friend here."
"Yeah, well, it may be downhill from here on, but I'm sure they'll find someone to suit you."
We start to walk to the rings and I ask as we walk, "By the way, do you associate yourself with male or female hosts?"
"I am not sure. Male, I believe. But not having had a female host, I do not know enough to form a true opinion."
"What about your choice of partner?"
"That would be the choice of the host, O'Neill. From Daniel, I have learned the pleasures of both relationships with males and females of your species. Both would seem to have their own particular benefits."
I can't help but laugh at that. In fact, I'm thinking that if I'd met him in another host, I might have liked him from the start. But I still can't shift this nagging feeling that something isn't right.
We've all gone up to the house to meet with the volunteers. There are six, surprisingly enough. Three male and three female, all pleasant enough to look at, though one of the men is rather sexy.
Hey, Jack, what do you think of Philipos? I ask, mentally nudging him to the extremely well-built guy who looks like an ancient Greek. In fact, he's not completely unlike the image I saw of Hades through Daniel's eyes that time. Different enough to not give anyone issues, but with the longer dark curly hair. He's covered up, wearing the Greek version of a toga I guess, but you can see his body outline and if things were different, and he and I were the only ones around... Hey, I can be a bit of a slut when I want to be.
Oh, he's okay. Looks like a bit of a gym queen to me.
I try not to laugh out loud.
Apollo is questioning them, but even now I can hear that he's nervous about leaving Daniel. Finally, he makes his choice, asking Philipos if he would wish to join with him. I think it's the Greek connection, personally. Still, it's a good choice.
Philipos answers that he'd be honoured, so it's time.
"How do you want to do this?" I ask.
"I will not enter through his neck," Apollo states. "However, I do not wish to cause any trouble between Jack and Daniel by entering through Philipos' mouth."
We all look at Jack and he shrugs, grabs Daniel by the arm and steers him to the bedroom, calling Philipos to join them.
They leave the door open, so we all take that as an invitation and go stand near it. Daniel is lying on the bed and Philipos lies next to him.
"Guess we'd better get it over with," Daniel states.
He's silent for a moment and we can see that a few tears are in his eyes. I understand that better than most. Even now, I miss Jolinar. Actually, it grows over time for some reason. Possibly because over time, I've remembered more and more of her memories. I wonder how it will affect Daniel later on?
They're doing the deed. Jack is doing his damnedest to not look jealous as Daniel's lips join with Philipos. Unlike with Dad's joining, this is truly being done with a kiss.
We see Daniel gagging as Apollo moves from one host to the other. Next thing we know, Philipos is lying on his back, his eyes closed but his mouth is slightly open as he gasps for breath.
Daniel, on the other hand, is now screaming his head off.
"DANIEL?! What the fuck is going on?" Jack demands.
"I do not know!" Apollo states.
We get a clue when Daniel starts banging his head against the bed and I get a flood of thoughts from him.
"GIMLI! Get Daniel off the planet and onto you!"
He disappears and Jack follows him moments later.
The other volunteers look shocked and confused, but I'm not going to explain.
"Apollo, are you going to hang around?" I ask.
"For a while," he replies. "I should like to see that he has recovered. I think that this is what I feared. We should discuss it in a moment."
He looks at Dad and nods.
"I'll take the others to the gate," Dad says. "You'll come over later?"
"I shall. If you would feel more comfortable, you could come to collect me or perhaps MIB could accompany me?"
"How about I come straight back here? I'd like to make sure Daniel's all right, too."
Apollo acknowledges him and then says, "I should like to rest for a while. The transfer took much from me."
Kar Shel states that he will stay with him and the rest of us make our retreats.
FUCK! The noise!
"DANIEL! Calm down. Listen to me, will ya?"
I look up and see that I'm on the ship and that Jack's next to me. Only him. So why the noise? It's mental noise, I realise. As soon as Apollo left me, all of the thoughts of the humans on the planet hit me hard. I wasn't ready for it.
Jack, it's back. I can hear everything.
What, from up here?
It's dampened down now that I'm up here, but I can still hear them.
That's ridiculous. We're hundreds of miles from them.
Perhaps it's residual. I don't know. I think this is why Apollo was afraid, though. He must have realised that I wouldn't be prepared for the telepathy to return. If I'd gone to the Tok'ra homeworld...
I don't continue that thought as it's too horrible for words. He was right not to let me go there. There are over a hundred people there. If seven humans, two Tok'ra and a Jaffa can do this to me then God only knows what that many minds would have done to me.
Why are you speaking like this? Jack asks.
I know the enormity of fear that's just hit me has hit him, so he's trying to distract me.
My throat's hurting.
"Open your mouth, Daniel. Let me look at it."
I do as I'm told, even though it's really painful. He nods, puts his finger on my chin and shuts my mouth. Then he speaks on his comms.
"Jake. What're you doing?"
"I'm just sending the others home."
"Good. By the way, do you have your healing device with you?"
"I do. Why?"
"Daniel's throat is real bad."
"Of course it is. I'll come up there, shall I?"
"You do that."
A moment later, Jacob appears on the bridge next to us.
"Sorry about that, Daniel. We don't usually leave live hosts and when we do, they don't usually freak out like that. We can heal the damage that the symbiote does on leaving quickly. Just stand still."
He raises his hand with the device on it and soon I feel the warmth on my throat and then over the back of my neck.
"Better?" he asks when he takes his hand away.
"Much, thanks. Uh... when you go back down, would you thank Apollo for me, please?"
"Sure, but if you don't mind me asking, what for?"
"He somehow knew without knowing he knew that I'd get overwhelmed by the minds around me as the telepathy suddenly came back. If we'd done this on the Tok'ra homeworld, I'd probably have fried my brain."
"Of course. I'll pass on your thanks. Are you going to come back down soon?"
"Shouldn't be too long. I need some time to rebuild my barriers. If you guys want to go home, then do so. We can visit later. I... I'd like to check up on Apollo to see how he's doing."
"Well, you'll know where he is, that's for sure. I know the council won't let him off the planet until they're completely convinced of his loyalty."
"I think they will be soon, Jacob. His hatred for the Goa'uld was almost overwhelming at times. I am convinced by his loyalty."
"I'm glad to hear it, Daniel. You must understand why we were so unsure, however."
"Of course I do."
He nods, then requests that he gets sent back to Annwn. Jack doesn't say anything so I guess I have to start.
"I do understand why you were so reluctant to believe me, Jack. We've been fooled before."
He looks a little guilty, but I let it ride. No way do I want to fight. Instead, I put my hand next to his and wait. He doesn't see it straight away but when he does, he grins, takes it in his and then pulls me into a hug.
"I'm sorry for being so distant," he whispers in my ear.
"It's okay, I don't blame you."
"I know. I blame me. It must have been terrifying for you and I wasn't exactly much help, was I?"
"You were better than I expected," I reply, hugging him hard. "A lot better, if I'm honest. And every time I really needed you with me, you were there. You were more help than you think."
I feel his tense body relax at that.
"Thank you," I hear quietly.
We don't move, we don't say anything more. Then I get an idea. I move away from him, catch his hand in mine and with a wicked grin, I lead him to our quarters.
Jacob, Apollo and the others have returned to the Tok'ra world and the rest of us are sitting in the kitchen.
"Dad took me to one side and told me what had happened with Daniel," Samantha states.
We listen as she explains about the return of the telepathy and then come to an understanding of why he had to move away. Samantha had already suspected it, which is why she asked the ship to transport him, but now her suspicions have been confirmed.
"It hit him bad, didn't it?" DJ asks.
"Apparently so," I agree.
All of a sudden, we realise that Frankie has thought of something.
"Frankie? What's up?" Samantha asks.
"I'm not sure. Something's nagging at me about this. The whole Apollo blocking his abilities, the big hit... Something isn't as it appears."
We do not know what she is thinking of.
"Perhaps we should ask Daniel if he knows?" I suggest.
As I do, Samantha blushes a little. I believe she just tried to contact them.
"Uh, I think we should wait till he comes back down," she squeaks. "I'm thinking the guys are making up for lost time."
Why am I not surprised?
Oh fuck, yeah. This is making everything worthwhile. All of the shit of the last few days; the battle, Pan... hell, almost worth him being snaked. Couldn't say how bad that was for me so how bad it was for him, I don't know. I'll worry about it later.
In the meantime, Daniel is doing one of his peaceful explorer things. I'm finally naked. It's only taken him about a half hour. I think it's a quickie peaceful explorer thing. His full-scale ones take all night. We can do those when we're not so stressed out.
I think I've been kissed from top to bottom, side to side, back to front and from here to eternity. I can't feel a thing. Not my arms, nor my legs... Hmm, it's fucking incredible. The only thing I can feel is my throbbing dick. Somehow, that doesn't seem to matter, either. Even though it's begging me to let it do what it wants to do, I'm not finding it difficult to hold back.
Besides, I don't think Daniel would pay any attention to me if I begged him to get me off. He's not in a 'listening' mood. He's more in an 'I'm going to do things my way' mood. Sometimes, that's a pain in the ass. Today, it probably means I'll have a pain in the ass later, but of the kind I like. Strike that, of the kind I love. If I'm lucky, that is.
Knowing him, he'll do something contrary. I'm so not telling him that SG-3 used to call him 'Mary, Mary', and not because they thought he was a girlie, either. More like 'Mary, Mary, quite contrary'. Thing was, he didn't have a garden. 'How does your cactus grow' doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? He didn't dare have anything less hardy than a cactus in his apartment.
He even managed to kill one of those off from lack of water. Yeah, I'm still trying to work that one out, too.
Hey ho, so he's no gardener. Why do you think I do all the planting and tending here? I want to eat. Speaking of eating...
"Oh fuck, yeah, Daniel. You do that."
He stops what he's doing, looks up at me, lets my cock drop out of his mouth and says, "Jack, you say the most stupid things sometimes. I was doing it."
Tell me about it. I might not be as dumb as I make out but sometimes my mouth just runs away with me.
"Stop yapping, start sucking," I demand. "Or I'm gonna..."
Nope, not that stupid. Not going to say it.
Dammit, he's not doing it. He's crawling up my body instead.
"You're gonna what?" he purrs.
I give it a moment's thought and then think 'to hell with it'. In one, swift turn, he's on his back, I have the lube in my hand and before he knows what's going on, I'm fucking him into the mattress. Well, what did he expect? Fucking prick-tease.
Although coming to think of it, that look on his face tells me he wanted this all along. Fuck, he's done it again, hasn't he? Who cares, though. Look at that face, that body... Apollo was right, he's getting second best after choosing Daniel first. Got to hand it to the snake, he has great taste.
Taste... Ooh, yeah.
"Don't come, Daniel."
"Hold out for me, please. I'll make it up to you."
He lets out a loud moan and then begs, "Hurry up then! Can't hold out much longer."
There's my cue... Oh fuck yeah. I needed to do that.
Sheesh, he's so damned demanding. Just as well I want to do this, ain't it? He tastes good, my baby. He'd castrate me if I called him that out loud, but I don't care. It's in my mind and if he's listening in, it's his fault for trawling.
I'm letting my tongue stroke that hot skin and try not to zone on the sensation. I know it's only been a couple of days, but it seems like it's been weeks since I did this. Months, even.
"God, Jack, please, finish me."
Finish you off?
You want me to kill you?
Jack, stop teasing!
Why spoil my fun? You know I love teasing you.
I love doing other things to him, too. Like fucking him, sucking him, jerking him off, watching him jerk off... Is there anything he does in bed that I don't like? Hmm... nope.
I hear him begging me now, he's gotten to the stage where he's just chanting my name. Time to make him come, I think.
I was right. He tastes great.
We just got a call that the guys will be back down with us soon. From the smug sound of Daniel's voice, I think I was right about them 'spending time together'. They needed to reconnect, so we won't tease them. Much.
"I hope Daniel's telepathy is back under control," DJ sighs. "I don't want to see him freaking out again."
"No, he's done more than enough of that over the last few days," John agrees.
We all nod. I think that he's going to need a few days off, probably with Jack, but I wouldn't be surprised if he went on his own to be honest.
There's a flash of light and we see that the guys are with us, looking as smug as Daniel sounded.
At least Daniel was looking smug. Now he's looking confused.
"Daniel? What's wrong?"
"I... I don't know. I thought I had my barriers up. I know I had them up to where they were before. But I can still hear you. Um... I can hear more than just you."
"But there isn't anyone else on the planet!"
He looks at me with panic in his eyes.
"I don't think it's humans, Sam."
"Goa'uld?" Jack asks.
Daniel shakes his head.
"I... I'm not sure what it is, Jack. I'm thinking that Apollo had some subconscious knowledge that this would happen. Why else would he have been so terrified about leaving me?"
"What has happened, Daniel?" Teal'c asks.
He doesn't answer that, but gets a look on his face which is both frightened and confused.
DJ stands up.
"I'll get Mia back down to the planet," he says. "I think we need to do a test on him."
Before we can question him, he disappears up to Gimli. I guess we wait until he's back down here.
Daniel's had a blood test and I can't believe what I'm seeing.
"More bionanocytes," I say, comparing it to the blood test we did after the first exposure.
"How?" Jack demands.
"Cell regeneration," DJ mutters. "The sarcophagus."
His words stop us dead. Of course. The nanocytes were first activated by the pulsing of the equipment on the planet. We haven't had the time to switch it back on since we brought it here, so it didn't happen before.
"Why didn't this show up when it happened?" Jack asks.
"It took a little while for the effect to show on us the first time," Daniel sighs. "And before it could happen after I'd been in the sarc, Apollo had joined with me. He must have prevented the effect from being apparent for a similar reason that a symbiote stops full telepathy, and which stopped Teal'c from succumbing to them in the first place. I guess," he adds with a shrug.
"How many more nanocytes does he have?" Frankie asks.
"There's at least fifty percent more," I tell them. "What that means in real terms, I don't know. It would increase his abilities beyond what Jack and I have, that's for sure."
"You'll have to test your abilities before you meet up with others," John warns. "Make sure you have them under control. Your empathy was already greater than anyone else's. Chances are it's even more pronounced. Maybe it'll be the same with your telepathy and all the other increases in your physical talents."
"Or maybe you'll have something else you can do," DJ adds.
"What would that be?" Jack asks.
We all shrug helplessly. I mean, how in hell can we know until Daniel tells us?
Oh boy. That's all I fucking needed. It's been hard enough to control the extra abilities that I already had. But what now?
I leave the others on the ship, needing to be on my own for a while. I could tell that Jack wanted to come with me but I told him 'no'. Not yet.
The weather isn't too bad - it's not raining. It's going to, though, I can smell it. Sense it. Soon. Maybe in the next hour.
I stand in the field and shut my eyes. That doesn't seem to matter. I can tell what's around me. It's not that my normal five senses have improved - I can't hear any better than I did when I got the first improvement. That, as we'd worked out, was about a ten percent improvement on normal human hearing, as was the clarity of my sight. Despite Jack's jokes to the contrary, I don't think I'm going to have massively enhanced senses. It's more connected with the telepathy, I think. More a sense of knowing what's around me.
There are forty-nine 'chickens' in the wood to my right. How I know that, I don't know. There's a hawk nearby and the chickens know it. They're hiding. I can tell that without even looking. I can't mentally connect with the animals - I don't think I'm going to be a Doctor Dolittle, which is just as well as I couldn't take the teasing from Jack - but somehow I know they're there. Guess that could be useful in future. If the ability extends to knowing where humans and aliens are, it could help keep us safe.
I think I'm going to need to practise the control over this. Going somewhere like the SGC could, as I said to Jacob, fry my brain. The noise is overwhelming. At least Annwn grants me some peace.
Jack's desperate to come to me.
It's okay, Jack. You can come now.
He doesn't answer but again, with my eyes closed, I know where he is and how he's feeling. He's worried, but it's for me, not about me.
"You okay?" he asks as he comes closer.
I put my hand out to beckon him to my side. Moments later, he's right with me and wrapping his arms around me. I let him hold me close. Finally, I open my eyes and drop a kiss on his neck.
"I am now," I reply. "If you're with me, I will always be okay."
He lets out a long breath and then says, "Then you'll be okay forever."
You know? That might be a tad on the sappy side but it sure sounds good to me.
Well it was... Loose Ends