Summary: Daniel seems to be the only one with no insecurity. Or is he?
Unbetaed due to the indisposition of my regular stalwarts. Hope it wasn't something I said *g*. Come back, gals, all is forgiven ;-)
Wow. This ship is fast. Put it next to Apophis' souped-up ha'tak in a drag race and it would leave it standing. Unfortunately, even though there is Asgard technology on board here, it's been mixed up with Goa'uld tech and that's slowed down the ship compared to Thor's, for example. So whereas it's not going to take us six months to reach home, it is going to take us a week. Which is too damned long.
"Can't you make it go faster, Sam?" Jack asks as he tries to will the ship to move.
"I'm afraid not."
"We will not have time to wait, Samantha."
I turn to look at Teal'c and shrug.
"I know, honey. Believe me I know. We're going to have to stop at a gated planet so we can send the larva through."
"We'd guessed that would happen." Daniel moves across and presses on a glyph. "Um... Jack and I plotted a course via planets with gates. The trouble is, this list of planets is exclusively those under Goa'uld control so we're going to have to check out a few I think before we can find a gate safe enough to use."
"How far are we away from the nearest one?"
John is with us on the peltac, as are the rest of MIB. I get the feeling that a little plan is being plotted and I'm not sure what that is.
"I'd say we can get there in ten minutes," I say as I look at the display.
"Go there, then," Jack orders. "Um, is this ship cloaked?"
"If it is, I haven't found the way to switch it on," I say.
"Right. Well, be careful. I want everyone on watch, ready to act at a moment's notice."
"There are many gliders in the bay, O'Neill," Teal'c reminds him.
I see both Jack and John look at each other and nod slowly.
"Just in case?" John says.
"Yeah. Just in case," Jack agrees.
Needless to say, DJ and Daniel both say, "No way in hell, O'Neill!" at the same time.
Daniel moves right next to Jack and his hand is on Jack's arm in a flash.
"Dammit, Jack. We are not going anywhere looking for trouble. We sneak in, scan, and if there's any hint that someone's there, we move on to the next one. Don't even think of arguing."
Teal'c is ready to argue, desperate as he is to get the larva to Draya'uc, but one look at Daniel's face warns him to back down. If this planet isn't clear, the next one will only take another twenty minutes to get to. I let him know that in my mind and he relaxes a little.
I think he's going to give Daniel a little latitude, but not much. He's checked up on the condition of the larva and has informed us that it won't live past tomorrow; another eighteen hours at most.
The atmosphere on the bridge is tense as we all are watching carefully. The scans, the displays and the view screens have eyes fixed on them and whereas the androids don't need to breathe, the humans on board are more or less copying them.
I have no idea how we're going to creep into a solar system undetected. If there's a sufficiently advanced population there, we're going to get seen.
"Is there any information on the computer about the destination?" I ask Daniel.
"Not that I've been able to access yet," he sighs. He hits a few more buttons, glyphs... whatever they are. "I'll shout if I find anything. Teal'c? Kar Shel? DJ? Could you help, please?"
He's suddenly surrounded and the Jacks and I, along with Frankie sit this one out. I can read technical information but not the added extras we sometimes get. It doesn't help that Daniel has said that this is a variant of ancient Greek and not the usual glyphs I'm used to.
The four of us watch all the other displays. We'll be there in a few minutes. Two, in fact. If they're going to find anything out about it, then we need to know soon.
"Prepare to come out of hyperdrive," I say, heading to the button to press to slow us down.
DJ yells and I stop what I'm about to do.
"It belongs to Yu. We can't take the chance."
No, he's right. It may not be populated, but we cannot go look.
"Any other information?"
"It's one of his strongholds, I think," Daniel adds, looking at the new display they've found.
Teal'c taps in some more glyphs and mutters to himself. Then he looks at our plotted course and taps in a few more.
"Here. In one hour we will reach this destination. It is marked as once belonging to Ra, but is now abandoned because it is worthless and there is no population of slaves."
He looks up and sees a whole bunch of annoyed faces at his words and he nods in apology.
"I was just reading the information as it is written," he says to placate us. "It is not my own personal opinion."
Teal'c nearly dropped himself in it then. Just for a moment, his tone of voice sounded like it did when he was Apophis' First Prime. His sheepish look straight after has softened our reactions though.
To stop there being any teasing from Jack, I pose a question.
"How are we going to play this, Jack? We want this ship, don't we?"
"Yes. Of course we do."
I notice his emphasis on the we bit here.
"So we don't want to leave it in space, or on a planet which could possibly, no matter how unlikely, become part of someone else's territory."
"No, we don't."
"So... the larva? What's the plan?"
There are so many different ideas being put forward that I've got a headache. Not one of us wants to leave the ship. However, Teal'c is desperate to get to the Tok'ra. If he goes on his own, though, would we wait for him or just carry on flying? Would we meet up a few gates down the line? Would someone go with him? Could Kar Shel go in his stead? Would he want to?
I need a coffee. Actually, I need a stiff brandy but I don't have any of that on board. Mental note: take brandy on missions, for medicinal purposes, of course.
"Did you find a sarcophagus on your journey around the ship?" Sam suddenly asks.
"No, why? Is your back hurting again?" I ask back.
"No, not that. Something just struck me. If there was one, then Hades would definitely, or more than likely, have this as his personal mother ship, wouldn't he?"
"Possibly. Okay, probably," I concede.
"Then if this isn't the mother ship..." She walks to the view screen and looks out at the colours flashing past us at speeds I can't even begin to comprehend and then turns to us and says, "How big is his biggest ship?"
I see what she's getting at. System Lords invariably have the largest ship in the fleet as their personal 'home'.
I didn't think it was possible, but even the androids have gone pale at the thought of one even bigger than this one. After all, we've got a ship here which is bigger than anything the other Goa'uld we've dealt with had.
I wish she hadn't thought of that as now we have two problems to contend with.
"Right. When we get to the planet, this is what we're going to do," Jack finally announces. "Carter, Teal'c, you take the snake to the Tok'ra. When you're there, you talk to Jacob and give him all the information we've gathered so far. Copies of it, by the way, I don't want to rely on the Tok'ra to fill in the gaps on anything we might have missed. The rest of us will stay on board and fly the ship to Annwn."
"Why Annwn?" I ask.
"It's not on the Goa'uld list of homeworlds and frankly, I don't trust the Tok'ra to not be spied on by Hades."
"But we tested the Tok'ra recently," I point out.
He shakes his head. "You asked if anyone was working for Anubis, or if they were spies."
"What if they didn't consider themselves spies? Or one of Anubis' spies? They could convince the machine that they weren't lying because they could think of themselves as... I don't know... agents of Hades, or something."
He's got a point and I concede it.
"But if that's the case, can we tell the Tok'ra anything about Hades? And wouldn't Hades have known we were coming if he did have a spy?"
"But he didn't stop us."
"Maybe he didn't want to stop us."
Jack sighs. "Look, I thought you were the history buff."
"Well, duh," I snap. I wish talking to him were less like getting blood out of a stone from time to time.
"Well," he echoes. "You should know that there are times when you know what the enemy's up to but you don't stop them because you don't want them to know you know. Ya know?"
I think for a moment about what he's said and say, "Okay, you've got a point. So why did he leave the ship there? If he knew we were coming..."
We're in trouble. Big trouble if that's the case. Unfortunately, we've arrived at the planet.
"Right. We'll stick to plan A. Teal'c, Sam, take the information... Uh, do we have copies yet?"
Frankie hands them some crystals, she's been working on them since Jack mentioned it and it doesn't take long.
"Good. Take the snake, too. John and I will take you down in the gliders," I knew he'd find a way to fly them, "and you do what you need to do with the Tok'ra. Then I want you to take Jacob home with you, tell him everything you've found out, show him the data, give it to him if he wants it. Tell him about the ship, too. Also tell him why you're telling him that in secret.
"If you can, get Hammond to come out to Annwn and pass on the info to him. The more people that know about Hades the better. We'll search this ship from top to bottom and hopefully, by the time we reach Annwn, it will be free of any homing devices or self-destruct mechanisms we don't know about.
"If we can't find anything but we aren't sure that there's nothing here, we'll leave the ship near a gated world which is on the Goa'uld list. We'll just have to suck that one up and forget about it. I'm sure that Frankie will be able to absorb all of the data we'd need to build something like it in future, if it's necessary."
"Why would I want to take Dad to Annwn?" Sam asks. "I mean, specifically. Won't it look like we're trying to keep something from the others?"
"Think of something!" Jack orders. "Tell him you want to get married or you're thinking about having kids or something else domestic. I'm sure that would work."
I'm not sure that had ever entered Sam's mind as a plan, but she's hiding her reactions really well. I get the feeling that she'll make him pay for it later on, though.
We have landed on the planet, next to the gate. Fortunately it has proved to be uninhabited as Hades thought. Unfortunately, it is what Daniel describes as a prehistoric world. Or is that a primordial one? I should ask him to clarify the definition for me.
Not that knowing what it is called will change matters. There is an extremely large beast staring at us, with teeth bared. The nearest picture I have seen to a beast like this is of an extinct Earth creature. I believe that is called tyrannosaurus rex.
"Uh, guys? You want to get a move on?" O'Neill calls out, pointing his gun at the monster.
I see it is starting to overcome any reservations it may have had about us and is now heading rapidly in our direction.
Discretion sometimes being the better part of valour, I dial up as quickly as possible.
"Now!" Samantha calls as the gate engages. "Guys! Get out of here. We'll see you at home!"
We do not wait to see them take off in the gliders but make good our escape through the wormhole.
Samantha is laughing as the gate shuts down.
"Reminds me of one or two missions when we were SG-1," she says.
I smile and nod in reply, remembering a few near misses from that time.
"We must go," I prompt and her face becomes more serious.
I fear I know what this is, that I have not yet convinced her of my love for her. As we walk to the rings, I ponder my position and wonder what O'Neill would do to comfort Daniel in this circumstance. By the time we reach the rings, I know what I should do.
We step inside, she reaches to her bracelet to operate the rings and I catch her hand. I hold it tightly as she uses her free hand to operate the rings from my bracelet. Just as the rings begin to function, I see her looking into my eyes and smiling.
"Where is Draya'uc?" I ask as we reappear.
The nearest Tok'ra looks a little surprised that we have returned but soon recovers and takes us to her. She is still in the room with the machine. I must assume that she has returned there for treatment.
Draya'uc stares at us as we enter the room, still holding hands. I need her to see my attachment to Samantha - more to the point, I need Samantha to see that she sees it. Despite my words to Rya'c that it is a disgrace to withhold words of love, sometimes it is necessary to illustrate them.
I have done this for Draya'uc by keeping my word. I have done this for Samantha by holding her hand. Neither woman speaks to the other so I must speak for them.
"Draya'uc. We have returned as promised. Here is a larval Goa'uld, taken from an incubating chamber, and not from a Jaffa."
I hold the flask out to her and she takes it silently, unsure as to what to do with it.
"The symbiote is inside. Turn the top and it will come off. I checked a short while ago and the symbiote was still healthy."
She nods, still saying nothing. Then she puts down the flask and turns the lid carefully, almost as if she is expecting it to explode. When the lid is off, she puts her fingers inside and takes out the squealing larva. For a moment, it looks like she will reject it, but Rya'c has just come into the room and he moves right next to her side.
She holds it in both her hands, as if it is a sacred offering. Next, she looks at Samantha, then at Rya'c. Finally she looks into my eyes and nods slowly, acknowledging her position in my life and thanking me for risking my life to save hers. Thanking Samantha, also.
She now understands that though I will never return to her, neither will I abandon her. We need no words for this, we know each other too well. Many years at each other's sides taught us to read each other's expressions. I nod back and she takes that as an order to put the larva inside her.
Much as I never wish to see another larva enter a Jaffa again, I must admit to being relieved. Now, I pray that her body has not been without a symbiote for too long, or that the healing machine has not changed her physiology so that she will physically reject it. We must wait to see if it will.
"You did it, Father," Rya'c says. "I knew you would."
I smile at him as I reply, "We did it. All of us. MIB joined us to make sure that we succeeded. This was important to us all."
A noise at the entrance makes us turn around and we see Garshaw standing there.
"Teal'c. Samantha. We are glad to see you again. I see that you found a symbiote for Draya'uc. Does that mean you found another queen? Was it as we thought?"
"Um, can we have something to eat and discuss this later, please?" Samantha asks. "I'm starving."
"Of course. Come and eat with us, we can talk as we sit together."
"Is Dad here?"
"No, I'm afraid Jacob and Selmac are somewhere they cannot be disturbed."
"How long will they be away?" I ask.
"We do not know. This sort of thing takes time," she answers apologetically. "I am sure you understand."
"Indeed. However, Samantha and I have something to discuss with him. It is... of a personal nature," I say.
I hope he comes soon.
So do I, my love.
What are we going to tell the Tok'ra?
As little as possible.
Teal'c, honey. You know I love you, right?
Well, don't take this the wrong way but you can be as bad as Jack to talk to from time to time.
I try not to laugh out loud or even show my amusement at the frustration that I hear in her voice. It is important that the Tok'ra do not find out about our telepathy.
We have spent hours turning this ship upside down to find a secret transmitter or anything else that could expose us to Hades. And dammit, we haven't found anything yet. The androids are working like crazy, not missing anything but moving as fast as they can through the ship.
We've given ourselves forty-eight hours to find something. If we haven't cleared the ship by then, we're abandoning it and wiping out the course we've plotted towards Annwn - by blowing up the console and related crystals. No way are we allowing information about our home to get to Hades.
Of course, we've realised that he could be getting a constant feed of our location and even of what's in the computer, so we're going the long way round. We haven't got close to putting in our final destination into the computer, yet, but we're system-hopping in the hope that we confuse him.
"Jack, it's time for bed."
I look at Daniel and see how tired he is. Only then do I realise how tired I am. We've been at this constantly since the others left. I'm beginning to wish that Daniel and I had gone to the Tok'ra because we need Sam and Teal'c here. Not that Frankie and Kar Shel can't do their job - they can. But having the two sets of them would be better.
On our travels around the ship, we discovered Hades' quarters - or at least the quarters of the most important snake on the ship if this isn't his. They're typically Goa'uld in that they're the grandest quarters on the ship, but unlike so many others, they are more simply decorated.
Whether they are his or not, we can pretty much guarantee that they will be similar in style to whatever he has on his own ship. Lesser Goa'uld always copy their 'master' when it comes to style; it's not safe to have your own opinion on style if you're not so important as a rule.
"You know, there's something about this Hades guy that has me worried," I tell Daniel as we retire to them.
We've bagged them as the 'droids don't need beds the way we do. They didn't seem to care one way or the other. Naturally, this room has been swept from top to bottom and we didn't find anything that shouldn't be in a bedroom, so we're feeling safe enough.
"What do you mean?"
He sits on the bed and kicks off his boots, taking his jacket off and then his pants, leaving his T and shorts on. It doesn't take him a moment before he's lying flat out on the bed and waiting for me to do the same.
"Well, it's hard to get a handle on him. I mean, look at this room. Doesn't it look odd to you?"
"Um... actually I was thinking that for a snake, it was tastefully decorated."
"Exactly. Think about it. How often do you see rooms this simply set out in a Goa'uld ship? They're overdone, overblown, over-decorated... this one's..." Damn, I'm going to have to say it, aren't I? "Nice."
"Well yeah. I could live with it."
He laughs sleepily and puts his hands out to encourage me to hurry up and get in with him.
"Perhaps he's got an interior decorator?" he teases.
"Perhaps he shops at Ikea," I answer.
He laughs louder. "Great, we've got a queer snake on our hands."
"Well, he can keep his hands off you if we meet up."
"Jack, why is it you always assume people are after my body?"
I look him up and down. He's tired, he's rumpled, he's half-dressed... and he's mine, all mine. Mwahahaha.
"Perhaps he'd be more interested in you? Or Teal'c?"
I shudder at the thought that he may be interested in me, but have to think that if he tried pulling Teal'c he'd have Sam in his face before he knew what had hit him.
As soon as I'm on the bed, he's doing his parasite act and trying to burrow into me. I have a private nickname for him; Exocet. My own personal heat-seeking missile. It couldn't be SAM as that would just throw up too many issues.
"Don't you see what I'm saying?" I push.
"Yeah," he yawns. "I do. Just teasing, that's all. If he's not going to act like a Goa'uld would normally we're going to have to be even more careful."
Glad it's not just me that sees that one. I'd say that to him but he's out cold already. I pull up the covers and shut my eyes. Time to get some rest. I've the feeling that we're going to be busy for the next couple of days.
Sharing as little information as possible with Garshaw was difficult. They knew we were heading to Hades' place so we confirmed that. They knew we were looking for a snake and found one, so we confirmed that. To offer them a bone, we told them about Alecto.
We'd figured there would be a queen and the Tok'ra have to know about Hades and Hecate. So we've told them about Hecate being the queen, and we've mentioned that we believed that they're moving out on ships. I haven't said anything about Daniel's thought about the new palace being Hades' yet - I'll tell Dad that and he can impart the information if he thinks fit.
We also haven't mentioned that the guys are on Hades' remaining ship but that they've gone home to take a few days off alone in the mountains. I hate this lying but it's necessary.
"I really need to talk to Dad," I insist, expecting to get the same response I've been getting for the last few hours. This time, however...
"Not a problem."
I turn around and see him standing behind me with a smile on his face.
"What have you been getting up to now?" he asks with a sigh.
"Oh, nothing much. Finding a larva for Draya'uc, finding a new Goa'uld..."
"Same old, same old?"
"I've heard you wish to speak to me about something personal. You're not, uh, pregnant or anything are you?"
I shake my head with a grin.
"Not that. But Teal'c and I do need to talk to you."
I flag urgency in my look and he picks up on it straight away.
"Sure. Why don't you guys go home and I'll come as soon as I've reported to the council."
I agree and go look for Teal'c. He's been spending time with his family, catching up on Rya'c's training I suppose.
When he held my hand in front of Draya'uc earlier I realised what he was saying to me and it made me relax. She saw it, realised it for what it was, too, and the nod I got from her was almost one of conceding defeat in the matter. She better had concede defeat. If she doesn't, she'll realise that while she may be the Jaffa, I am a warrior.
Teal'c came the moment I told him to. He's very well trained, so I guess I have to thank Draya'uc for something. However, before we left, she called me over to talk to her alone. Teal'c wasn't sure about that but I sent him up to the gate with Rya'c, giving him a few minutes alone with his son, so he went without arguing.
"You are his wife?" she demanded.
"We haven't been through any ceremony," I replied, "but in our eyes, we're married."
She didn't answer for a few minutes, making me sweat a bit but I hid my feelings, I think.
"Do you love him?"
"Very much. He means more to me than anything."
"I love him."
"I know. But things have worked out differently for you. I'm sorry your marriage didn't work out but he's mine now."
She smiled at that and then nodded.
"Do you take care of him?"
"Probably not like you did. I'm not at home waiting for him." She could have taken that the wrong way so I added, "I don't think that's a bad thing, by the way. I know that waiting is harder than being there sometimes. But I do what I can in the way that I can, just as you did what you could."
"It was not enough."
"He loves you. He won't stop. He was devastated to learn you'd divorced him and remarried."
When she heard that she thought again and then asked, "If he wanted to come back to me, if it was what would make him happy, would you let him?"
I wanted to say 'no', but Jack's words came back to haunt me so without hesitation, I said, "Yes."
That seemed to do it. She put out her hand and grasped my arm. I did the same back, acknowledging her.
"You do love him. So do I. It is Teal'c's choice."
It wasn't easy to walk steadily away from her. I wanted to run to him, but I didn't. I forced myself to be as dignified as possible and walked with my head held high. I've won this battle, but now it's up to Teal'c to win the war.
"Samantha, you are quiet," he says as we approach the house.
"I'm just thinking."
Do I tell him? Perhaps I should. I've learned from the guys that keeping things to myself is going to bite me on the ass in the long run, so I tell him what happened with Draya'uc.
He says nothing as we enter the house, but he holds out a chair for me to sit. I do and wait for him to speak.
"I see," he finally says. "I have made my choice."
My blood runs cold and I freeze, waiting for him to speak again. He doesn't. Anxiously, I look up and into his eyes.
"I choose you, kalash'me."
Hmm? Wassup? J'ck?
"Hey, sleepyhead. It's time to wake up."
I open my eyes and realise that they're still blurry. Hang on, is something wrong? Jack's gone grey again.
He shakes his head.
"Nope. Wrong O'Neill."
"Phew. Um, not that I don't think you're... oh hell. You know what I mean. Where's the coffee?"
He laughs and hands me a mug.
"Ya know, there're two really good things about DJ being an android," he says.
"No caffeine addiction and when he wakes, he's up easily."
"Yeah, well, Jack gets to put up with the bad things and enjoy the good," I reply.
"This is true. By the way, if the age reversal had been, uh, reversed," he says, "would it bother you?"
I must admit to being confused by that.
"You know. If Jack was really grey again..."
"Why would it? You know how I felt about him when he looked his age. The only worry would be that there may be side effects." I think for a moment and then my heart nearly stops. "Is he okay? Is something wrong? Dammit, John..."
"He's fine. Still young. I was just curious, that's all."
"Fuck you! You nearly gave me a heart attack!"
He laughs and apologises at the same time.
"Sorry, Daniel," he says. "Like I said, I was just curious."
"Uh, John, are you worried that DJ prefers Jack?"
He says nothing and I know that he's been thinking that.
"Has he been saying anything?"
"No. Nothing," he admits.
"John, you are an idiot. He loves you. Not Jack."
"But I am Jack."
"No, dammit, you're not. You were. But you're you now. You're different, and looks have nothing to do with it. Yes, I dare say that DJ finds Jack attractive because I do, and you have to know I find you attractive. Jack knows that. But I'm not going to run off with you just as DJ isn't going to run off with Jack."
"You're not?" He's teasing again and I hit him, remembering too late he's an android. Ouch.
"Yeah, well, super brains don't make me smart," he mutters.
I put down my mug and pull him close and hug him.
"Tell you what, John. If they do run off together, come to me, okay?"
He laughs quietly and puts his head on my shoulder. Even our android selves are as fragile emotionally as us. Pity Harlan didn't sort that particular weakness out.
He pulls to leave but I have to reassure him a little further. I know John. I also know Jack and DJ will not mind me doing this one bit. To his surprise, I kiss him. Not hard, nothing too passionate; just enough to let him know I really do think he's gorgeous.
"John, no matter that I will live and die beside Jack, I love you, too. You aren't him but you are a part of him. DJ feels the same way. He'll never leave you. Will never want to leave you."
"You reckon he's kissing Jack right now?"
"Oh for fuck's sake..."
He bursts out laughing.
"Sorry, Daniel, you're just too easy."
"Jack doesn't usually complain about that."
"I'll bet he doesn't. Anyway, come on, it's time to get up."
I'm already up! Just not standing yet. Wish Jack was in here. Giving John a kiss is one thing, getting him into bed is another. Though he is hot...
Daniel? What's up?
Like I said. And?
Really, really horny.
If you don't come to the bedroom now I'm starting without you.
John is guessing that I'm calling Jack, I think. He's just stood up and with a wink, he's heading to the door. I have to slam a door shut in my mind - the one that's just had him and Jack in the bed with me. These fantasies of mine are getting out of hand. Okay, it's normal and healthy to have fantasies, but ones which could happen are bad.
Needless to say, Jack's in the bedroom in minutes. I've stripped off quickly and I am so starting, whether he wants to or not.
"Daniel, we have work to do."
"I'm doing it."
"Jack, I need this. Either get over here and help me or fuck off and leave me alone."
"Perhaps I want to watch?"
Oh fuck, I know what this is going to be. Why not? It's been a while.
I say nothing more and continue to masturbate, running my spare hand over my body; pinching my nipples, stroking my abs and thighs... rolling my balls in my hand...
Jack has undone his pants and he's jerking off without taking his eyes off me. I see him through my half-open eyelids; it's enough to make me push this further.
I swap hands, stroking my cock with my left hand and putting a couple of my fingers in my mouth. He groans as I open my legs wide, pulling my feet closer to my body and lifting my ass off the bed. He groans louder as I push my fingers inside me and jerk harder. Any minute now...
Oh yeah, my baby is so predictable. He's over here, has knocked my hand off my cock and is taking over for me. Yes! God, I love this. His hand is working me hard, his mouth is spouting words which can only be described as filthy... I love him so much!
Oh yeah, I'm coming into his hand. If he's as predictable as I think he is, I'm not going to be able to sit for ages. And he is. He's using my come as lube, my legs are on his shoulders and I think I'm going to pass out from the pleasure.
Okay, I didn't pass out, but I was rendered speechless for about half an hour. Not quite a record but close. And I was right, I am so not looking for a chair at the moment. I guess that John told DJ about our conversation because DJ is looking both annoyed and concerned. I'm not worried if he told him about the kiss - that sort of thing doesn't even register a blip on the jealousy metre. If anyone else had done it, however, we'd be talking about a whole different other green-eyed monster.
I told Jack - who is the proverbial monster on a good day - and he just shrugged. I think he's actually getting off on the idea that DJ might be attracted to him, too.
I've had something to eat - standing up - and now I'm going through the engine room with DJ and Frankie. Kar Shel, Jack and John have headed to the glider bay. Surprise, surprise. As long as they don't decide to stop us and take one of the gliders out, I'll let them play in there.
"Found anything?" Frankie asks.
"Not a sausage."
"That would be more interesting than a homing beacon," DJ sniggers.
I don't have to answer that, or even turn my head for him to know I'm rolling my eyes at that.
"Are we sure that Hades would have used this ship for bait?" she pushes.
"Sure? Absolutely not. But if you knew that your enemy was coming for you and you could afford to lose something like this if your plan went wrong, wouldn't you do something?"
"Well, of course. But something's not right in that scenario," she replies.
Naturally, DJ and I stop dead and wait for her to work it out before she elaborates.
"It's not in the Goa'uld make-up to even consider the possibility that they're wrong," she finally says.
"True. However, everything we've learned about Hades so far indicates that he's not your average snake."
"Agreed. But I don't think that he thinks he's going to lose this ship. Even if he had a huge fleet and really could spare this one, he wouldn't have left us such a grand one. We saw different specs for different classes of ships. Even his teltacs would have been worth stealing because they all have the hybrid technology. It would make more sense for him to leave one of those, wouldn't it?
"So either this is the mother ship and he's confident he won't lose it, or this ship is one of many - so many that if by some remote possibility he does lose it, it won't matter."
We have to concede that point.
"And if that's the case, we're in deep, deep shit," DJ mutters.
We concede that one too.
DJ thinks and then says, "So what's his plan B?"
"Not sure there is a plan B, but more a case of whatever he's done here, it's going to be really tough for us to find it."
"Of course, we always have the possibility that there isn't anything on board, that this one really had taken longer to fix up and there are no spies in among the Tok'ra camp."
Well, I have to do the Pollyanna thing or else we're going to get too damned depressed.
"You want to take that chance?" she asks.
"Hell no. You think I'm dumb?"
They say nothing. I get no respect.
"Where's the last place on the ship you'd hide a homing beacon?"
"Checked that yesterday."
"Well it's the most obvious place, isn't it? It could be a double bluff - you know, most obvious place so you look there last."
"Ah. Anyway, checked that, too."
"All but the Jaffa quarters on C deck are done."
We've had to name each deck as there are so many of them. Deck H is the top and it has a wonderful observation dome.
"The obs deck?"
"Got to be worth a check. We're done here and come up empty, so let's go there."
We head out, looking forward to our visit. On our brief tour of the ship - was it yesterday? Yeah. I'm losing track - we named that as the favourite spot. Hades really does have a sense of the aesthetic other snakes just don't have.
Jack, we're heading up to the obs deck.
Want some company?
I thought you were playing with gliders.
Nah. It's kinda like being in a candy shop and not being able to eat any.
Poor you. Tell you what, if we don't get to keep the ship, maybe you can keep a glider?
I'm full of them.
You're full of something, that's for sure...
Jack! Aw hell, you can't have a glider anyway.
Remember the time you tried out Apophis' glider?
Ouch. Don't remind me.
Oh fuck oh fuck. I know where it is.
It's in one of the gliders!
But there are hundreds of them!
GET DOWN HERE NOW!
On my way. And Jack?
Don't shout, there's a good man.
Jacob has arrived on Annwn. I hope to keep this conversation short. He sent a message last night that he would not be here until this morning, so Samantha and I made the most of having the house to ourselves. I do believe that she will never be able to look at either the sofa or the kitchen table without blushing again. Or the floor in front of the fire. Or, for that matter, the...
"Teal'c? Are you with us?"
"I am. Let us discuss things."
"Yeah, about that," Jacob says. "What's so private you need to talk away from the others?"
Samantha sighs and starts to inform him of our discoveries. He is still not sure why the need for privacy, so I inform him of our thought that there may possibly be a spy in his ranks.
"Dammit, why do you always think the worst of the Tok'ra?" he shouts.
"Dad, it's not the Tok'ra we think the worst of. It's the Goa'uld. We like the Tok'ra. The trouble is, you've historically had so many infiltrators that it's difficult for us not to think of it.
"Look, the way we see it is this. If the guys find a homing device or other such bug on board the ship, then the chances are he was expecting someone to try to steal it. That would mean there's a very good chance that he has a spy in your ranks as the only people that knew we were looking into Hades' whereabouts were the Tok'ra. If they don't find anything, then we can hope that there isn't any spy there."
He lets out a deep breath and nods. Then we notice a change in his face and know that Selmac wishes to speak to us.
"Selmac," I say. "I am sorry to give you this news."
"Do not be sorry, Teal'c. It is better that we have some warning. But we need to find a way to discover whether we have a spy, irrespective of whether you find a homing device on the ship. The problem has always been that the Tok'ra can never be sure that whoever is interrogating is not a spy in the first place."
"I understand. However, MIA and MIB are both trusted, are we not?"
"By most of us. Of course, there are always some which doubt non-Tok'ra, but that is nothing personal against you. They feel like that about anyone that isn't them."
"I am not offended. And, I feel, neither will my friends be. May I offer our services? We can interrogate just as we did when looking for Anubis' spy. At that point, Daniel only questioned people as to their loyalty to the Tok'ra, or if they were working for Anubis. He had not had time to think of a more general question to catch all infiltrators.
"Given a little time, I am sure that between us all, we can come up with a set of questions which will be designed to catch out even the best-trained spy. If we use the zaytarc detector, we will succeed in clearing your entire organisation of undesirables."
"What about our field operatives? We cannot recall anyone."
"There would be no need. We are convinced that you are on our side. We have to be convinced of that. We will, however, test you first."
"Of course. Ask me any questions you deem fit."
"And this is why we trust you, Selmac. You have always been more open towards us - at least compared to the others. Once we have cleared you, you will need to be there to clear others as they return to you. Perhaps a few more on the ruling council will be trained in the interrogation technique, but I feel that you, because of Jacob's previous experience, would be better suited to questioning anyone."
"Thank you for your vote of confidence."
Jacob has returned and he has a wry grin.
"We get what you're saying, by the way. It's going to have to be organised secretly, though."
Samantha speaks. "We'll start the testing here. If we test you, then call - oh, I don't know - Garshaw? Maybe Antec. Some of the others, too. We can think of a reason for them to come here. If we test them one at a time, just as we did before, making sure that no one who has been tested speaks to anyone who has not, then we can pretty much guarantee this will work."
I think of an idea which may well help matters.
"You should return to your world. Speak to the council. Tell them that we have a suspicion that your home may have been compromised. However, we did not tell the others while we were there as we did not wish to cause a panic. Tell them that we know of a planet which is not on the Goa'uld list which is probably as safe as you will ever have been."
"We do. The planet that MIB visited the time before last."
Teal'c, that was one of the silver worlds!
I am aware of that. However, I am sure that the dialling address will be sufficiently similar to one which is recognised as either one of the Ancients' list or Goa'uld. We can say we dialled it by mistake.
Better that than saying the androids erred.
Okay. Fair enough. I'll look something up.
"A really safe world?" Jacob asks, unaware of our private conversation.
"Indeed. And from what I remember, it is possible for you to settle there and grow food almost immediately. The soil appeared to be very fertile and there were no apparent dangers. At least they spent a few days there and saw none. Given that you have built a significant human retinue, it may be a good idea to give them land to farm and a place for them to feel human. Humans rarely thrive underground for long periods."
"I get that," he replies. "Selmac's fine about it but I can't wait to get above ground. And if the Goa'uld don't know about it, a couple of early-warning satellites at the edge of the system will ensure our safety to the point where we could even venture to live above ground ourselves."
"That could work. But to keep it safe, each member of the Tok'ra - whether joined or just human - must be completely interrogated before being allowed to discover the address."
"Can you take me there now? I'd like to see it before recommending it to the council."
I look at Samantha and she nods, so we decide to go.
"I just have to go get the address," she says. "It's in the tunnels."
As soon as she has ringed down to the tunnels, I get a look from Jacob that tells me he is not happy with me.
"So, your wife? She seems to be okay."
"My first wife," I remind him. "And she is. Before I left I assured myself that the symbiote had not rejected her. She was preparing to return to the Land of Light."
"And you? You're staying here?"
I see that Samantha is not the only one who is insecure about my place in her life.
"I am remaining with my second - and last wife."
He slowly smiles and nods.
"I'm glad you said that, Teal'c. You know I'd have hated to have had to have killed you."
I nod back to him, unable to say more as Samantha has just ringed back to us.
"There would be no other answer," I finally assure him as she enters the house.
There are two hundred gliders. I know. I counted them. There are five of us because Kar Shel has returned to the bridge to keep an eye on things up there. He's the best there is to be piloting us if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, we only have two scanners capable of detecting anything that resembles an EM field that shouldn't be there. There's nothing in the bay, we know that much.
The way we're working this is that we've searched one glider and found it to be safe. We've all committed its layout to memory, including its engine and underneath the control panel. Anything that's odd will get checked out with a scanner. So we've split the gliders up into groups and each of us has a set amount to check through. Because DJ, Frankie and John are more likely to detect something weird than Daniel or me without the scanner, they've given them to us.
We've forty gliders each to check. It's going to be a long day.
I've checked ten gliders. One quarter of the amount I need to do. I wish I could say I've detected something but I haven't.
The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced there's something here. Hiding a small device in one of these things is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. If I wanted to hide a homing device, it would be here. And I wouldn't worry about the glider being taken out, either, as it can't go far from the ship - it's just a little fighter one, so interstellar travel is a no-no. Interplanetary travel within a solar system is about its limit. All Hades needs to know is which solar system it's in and he can easily find the ship.
Which also leads me to believe this ship is not cloaked. Even if he has the technology, he certainly wouldn't let that particular gem of technology to slip into enemy hands.
Nope. Not here, either. A quick check with the others gets the same response. Between us, we've checked forty-five gliders, which means they're working faster than me. Dammit.
I'm hungry. A quick look at my watch says that we've been at this for six hours. Yup, time to eat.
"Daniel! Food. Now."
"Just a minute, Jack. Let me finish this one."
That's not too much of a fight from him so he must be hungry. I mark the glider I've just finished with a piece of chalk (Don't ask. Daniel has supplies of it in one of his pockets. He's just an overgrown kid at heart, I think) and wander over to him. I've done twenty-two, so we're past halfway. I'd better check in with the 'droids.
"DJ? John? Frankie? How's it going?"
"Um, I've just finished number thirty..."
I hear DJ laugh but he carries on. "Still nothing, though."
"Well, it's going to be the last one we look at."
There's a pause then I hear, "Of course it is, Jack. There wouldn't be a great deal of point in looking further, would there?"
Hah. He thinks he's got me there but I've got him.
"Er, DJ, even if we find one now, we have to check out the rest of them."
"Because there may be more devices. He might not have trusted one to work."
"By the same token, we'll have to finish checking the rest of the ship."
"Why don't you guys join us when we eat. We need to brainstorm."
"I've got an idea."
We all turn to look at Daniel who's merrily tackling a large sandwich and mug of coffee.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Frankie, can you go up to the peltac and see if you can turn the scanners that are inbuilt into something more powerful?"
"In what way?"
"We need to be able to search out the whole ship with a really detailed EM scanner that will tell us where to look precisely for anything anomalous."
"I don't know if I can do that, but I'll try," she says. "I'll need help translating the data."
"Kar Shel is up there," John reminds her. "If you need help, call DJ or Daniel."
I cough and they all turn and look at me.
"You couldn't have thought of that earlier?" I ask, glaring at Daniel. We've been searching for hours for crying out loud.
"Not going to cut it, book boy."
"Jack, I don't know if I'm going to be able to do it," Frankie reminds me. "You'll need to return to the glider bay when I'm working anyway. It might take me days."
"It's going to take days to search the ship!"
Daniel reaches across the table and takes my hand.
"Poor baby," he says. "Are we making you work?"
"You'll be sorry," I warn him. "If I'm too tired, no matter how damned horny you are, you're on your own."
He looks at DJ and winks, which worries me slightly.
"Oh, that's okay, Jack. John's like the Energiser Bunny at the moment, what with all the light and all. I'm sure DJ won't mind if I borrow him for an hour or three?"
Before I can answer, DJ says, "As long as you return him in one piece, sure."
"John, help me out, buddy!"
He stands up, bends over right next to Daniel and says, "You're on your own, pal," and kisses his cheek before walking off.
They're just teasing. Right?
I wonder how the guys are getting on? They've got a lot of searching to do, that's for sure. Dad's happy with the planet we've suggested and I've given him the 'wrong address' spiel just in case anyone questions how we found this odd gate.
I've checked the actual location of this planet and it's nowhere near any System Lords' territories as far as we can tell. It doesn't appear to have ever had settled life, so we're guessing that the Ancients found it and put a gate on it because it's perfect as a copy of Earth. Kind of like Annwn, really. Maybe one day, if the Tok'ra become known to the rest of Earth, we'll be able to actually settle it together.
I wish I could know what's happening on the ship. I know why Jack sent me with Teal'c; all of the reasons. Yes, I could give the technical talk, yes I'd have the excuse to talk to Dad on my own... But he wanted me with Teal'c because he knew I needed to be with him. I appreciate that. But I need to be with the guys, too.
My mind is working overtime, imagining all sorts of trouble that they could be getting into. Because I just know that without me, they're going to get into trouble. Not that they don't get into trouble with me.
It's at times like this that I really and truly appreciate what Draya'uc used to go through, waiting for Teal'c to come home from battle. Or what the General goes through, day after day with team after team. Can't remember the quote exactly or where it's from, but nothing's truer than, 'They also serve who only stand and wait'.
"Samantha. Perhaps we should start to consider what questions could be asked?"
Hmm, he could be right. But it's a lovely day.
"How about we go for a walk?" I suggest. "We can discuss it then?"
"Of course. But we cannot go too far, in case we are contacted."
"Then let's walk around the lake."
"That is acceptable."
He takes my hand again - I love it when he does that - and we stroll quietly on the path that is slowly but surely being worn down by us. Sometimes the four of us come this way, taking a picnic perhaps, or just for a walk. Other times it's each couple.
We've found a particularly great making out spot, out of view of the house, on the edge of the lake. We've built a bridge over the top of the waterfall that drains any excess water out of the lake. It's flowing steadily now, but the geology tells us that it gets worse sometimes. Daniel thought that it could be in the spring when the melt-water from the glacier on the mountain is likely to be at its peak, or in winter storms.
Whatever and whenever, we needed a highish bridge to cross it for times like those, so we built one out of a single piece of granite - no way is that going anywhere. The make out spot is just beyond it. A small, but sufficiently large patch of grass with views to die for.
By the time we sit on the grass, we've discussed a few ways of questioning the Tok'ra, but we've also come to the conclusion that Daniel is going to be best-placed to do it. Somehow, he has a knack of knowing just what to ask.
How's it going?
Dammit, I've just lost count. You had to interrupt me now, didn't you?
Sorry I asked. Jack isn't in a very good mood with me. I should keep my bright ideas to myself. We've been back at this for a couple of hours and we've got... hang on...
Counting? What are you counting?
How many gliders I've done.
He's silent for a moment then I hear, Because I want to know.
Dammit, Jack, instead of counting, just do it. Then you'll be surprised when you've finished.
Yeah, well, it's going to take even longer to finish it now since we have to do Frankie's, too.
Jack, we only have to do a few more each, it's not a huge problem. Anyway, how many have you done?
Thirty in total.
Good, well Frankie had already done thirty, I've done, um... thirty-one. At a guess the others have done at least forty each. I'll ask.
Oh, you know.
No, I don't.
Again the silence.
Faster... stronger... better.
Oops. I think he's still smarting from my teasing.
Jack, don't be an ass. I'm not going off with John. Sheesh, between you, you've got insecurity complexes to rival mine at its worst.
Hey, I never said I was perfect, did I?
Neither did I, Jack.
But the other android did. Not John. Give him a break, will you? We're in this together.
Don't be sorry, Jack. Just cheer up. There's no competition.
Yet again, there's a pause. This time I know I'm in trouble.
So, what, you prefer me like this?
If I answer that, I'm never going to live it down, am I? Talk about a Catch-22 situation.
Fuck off, O'Neill.
Okay, it's not the last glider in the bay. It's the last but two. But there is definitely something here that isn't anywhere else.
"GUYS?! I think I've found something!"
They're all around me in moments and looking at the glider I'm pointing to. John pushes me out of the way and starts to pull the cover of the control panel off. Inside it, we see something pulsing with light.
"That's got to be it, hasn't it?" Jack says.
"I'd say so."
"Do we pull it out?"
I think for a moment and then call on my comms, "Frankie, how close are we to another Goa'uld system?"
"Just a moment... Right. About five minutes. Shall we detour?"
"Yes. Into it."
"Because we've found a very suspicious-looking glider and I think that by dropping the glider into someone else's system, it'll divert attention away from us."
The others nod, agreeing with my idea.
"How are we going to get it out of here?" Jack asks suddenly. "I mean, unless we fly it out, we can't get it out. But there are no rings in a glider and I don't want to be so close to the ship like last time."
I shudder as I remember that moment. It was really scary. I honestly thought we were too late for him.
"That won't be a problem," DJ says.
"You seem to forget something, Daniel. We don't breathe. If Kar Shel can hold the mother ship steady, one of us can fly it out, get it into position, blow the hatch and be transported aboard. Being out in space for a few moments, even a minute or so won't hurt us."
He shakes his head.
"We don't have anything inside us that will react badly to being in a vacuum for a short time. I don't want to try out being in one for a long time," he adds with a grin, "but we'd be fine. I'd be fine."
"Oh no, you're not going," John argues, rather unsurprisingly.
"John. I'm going. Don't argue."
I know why he's doing this. Even now, Jack has nightmares about that time, so I guess John does, too. It'll be different this time. We'll be right there, DJ won't get hurt and he knows what he's going into. I'm behind him.
Jack and John look at us and admit defeat, and nod.
"Let us know when we get there," John sighs into his comms. "However, if it looks like the system is full of ships, get the fuck out of there."
We have been waiting for the gate to dial up for quite some time and now it is. As expected, General Hammond steps through and we emerge from our hiding place to greet him.
"Welcome to Annwn, General," I say.
He smiles at us and waves slightly, walking straight to the path which will take us to our home.
"What's so important that you've called me here?" he asks as we near him.
"Why don't we go and sit down?" Samantha replies.
"That good, eh?"
We do not answer but our faces tell him all he needs to know and he sighs.
"So, do you think Hades is going to attack Earth?" he asks after we have explained everything.
"We do not know. However, we did think it worth informing you of the new threat."
"Of course. I'm glad you did." Then, like the military man he is, he asks, "What are you going to do with the ship?"
"That, we do not know, General," I reply. "A lot depends on whether the others find anything to be concerned about. However, if they do not and they deem it safe to bring here, then perhaps this would be the best place for it."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because we do not have to hide it from a large populace and neither do the Goa'uld know of our planet. Should the ship remain here, it will be available for any attack necessary. It only takes us four days in the teltac to reach Earth, so with the Asgard technology on the ship, it will take us only a fraction of that. Also, if the ship stays here, Samantha and Frankie can work on it and maybe improve it. If we could cloak it, it would give us a supreme advantage over the enemy."
"Agreed. And you would be prepared to use it on Earth's behalf if it came to it?"
"Do you even need to ask that, Sir?" Samantha asks, not a little hurt.
"Of course not," he replies contritely. "I'm sorry. Let's just say that I've been having a few problems with allies recently and it's left me a little jaded. It's nothing serious. I just guess I'm getting old."
"I am significantly older than you," I remind him.
He smiles at me and raises his coffee mug in salute.
We have agreed to call the General back when the others have returned. I believe he wishes to speak to O'Neill - either or both of them. Samantha has suggested that at that time, we call Thor to join us and ask Jacob to attend the meeting. With all of the allies in one place, we will be best suited to set out a plan of action. In the meantime, she and I are alternately thinking about strategies and designing the log cabin. It takes our minds off the predicament of our friends. I wish they would return soon.
For the record, I don't like this. John doesn't like this. Kar Shel isn't too impressed either and Frankie gave us hell for agreeing to it. However, when the Daniels make their minds up about something, even the four of us together have no chance whatsoever of changing their minds. Unfortunately, they have so many logical arguments against any that we put to them that we don't have any hope in hell of rebutting them.
For example, they won't let John or me fly the damned thing because of what happened to me. Of course, John remembers that too, so DJ's just as adamant as Daniel. I guess they don't want to have to deal with any more nightmares. Not that John sleeps as such, but we both get waking nightmares - daydreams that turn nasty. Frankie has to stay on board in case of any technical emergency and Kar Shel is the best suited to fly the ship.
And the worst thing is, we know they're right. Dammit.
I did ask Frankie if she could build a remote control device quickly, one to fly the glider without a pilot, but she said we'd have to hang around for too long. It'll be a lot quicker to go with plan A. Hell.
John and I are waiting in the ring room, both of us mentally connected to our other halves. Daniel's up on the peltac with Frankie and Kar Shel and DJ is in the glider. We're all waiting for us to reach the right place. The information on the system we've found is sparse at best, but it doesn't look like it's a Goa'uld stronghold. Something has to go right for us, I guess.
We're there. My stomach is churning, my heart is in my mouth and I feel sick. God only knows what John must be feeling. I put my hand on his shoulder and he looks at me and nods. He knows I'm feeling it, too. I feel as if Daniel is out there. In a way, he is.
The word has come that Daniel has left the ship. Make that DJ. Does it matter?
We're waiting for him to call that he's in position. What's making this worse is that we had to come up with a way of doing this on the edge of the solar system and then getting the glider nearer to the inner planets, or else Hades may be able to tell that the glider's in the wrong place. Not to mention the system is inhabited.
Kar Shel then pointed out we can punch the glider's engines to go for a set amount of time. It can't be done from inside the ship as it would go straight into a wall or something. Unfortunately, we have approximately half a second to get him out of there before it takes off. Which is why the androids are manning the controls. They have reaction times which are practically immeasurable.
The plan is that when DJ gets into position, he calls us, and when he gets the nod he blows the hatch, punches the engines, Frankie hits the rings at the same moment and hopefully he'll come to us in one piece. There is the very real risk he'll come up in pieces. Or just one piece of him. Neither of the latter options are acceptable.
"I'm out of the ship," comes the call.
John and I are totally silent; at a guess, the bridge is silent, too.
"Nearly there... Okay, hold the ship, I'm there."
I'm not breathing. My heart is the loudest thing on the ship, I think.
"I'm going to blow the hatch."
There's silence. Too much silence. I know why that is; he's taken to connecting to Frankie in his head so she can see what he's doing when he's doing it, so she can react much more quickly. I wish I had telepathic connection to them. I have no idea what's happening.
It's taking longer than we thought. Dammit! Why? What's going on?
I look at John and he's not looking at me, his face stony and totally unreadable.
Daniel? What the hell is going on?
Um, I'm not sure, Jack. They're not saying anything.
Is Frankie moving?
No. Her hand is poised on the transport controls but she hasn't twitched. Oh, hang on... NOW!
The rings activate and I watch them intently, frozen in place as they raise up, the light so bright that I can't see inside them.
Finally, they disappear and we see that DJ isn't there.
"WHERE THE HELL IS HE?!" I yell into my comms.
"We missed him!" comes the reply from the bridge. "The hatch took too long to clear and the glider reacted faster than expected."
"Is he in the glider?"
"We don't know. Wait!"
I look at John and see that he is petrified. I know without asking that he's trying to contact Daniel in his head but he's failing.
"He's got to be in the glider. Out of range or something. Right?"
He says nothing but takes off at a run. I am so following him.
I'll bet the guys have found what they're looking for and are currently lazing around on the ship, making out at every opportunity. Not that Teal'c and I haven't been doing the same. I've been trying to work, looking at the scans I've made of the cloaking device. I need to make one for the big ship.
I don't want to ask the Tok'ra to trade with Boch for one, and I'm not sure that he would have one that could cloak something that big. Our personal cloaks really wouldn't manage it, that's for sure, so I know I have to build something like the one on Mia, only bigger and better.
I've found that inside it is an element that I don't recognise. Not that that is a surprise. I'll have to ask Daniel when he gets back if it's mentioned in the universal language found on Ernest's world. If it is, it will at least give me a clue of what to look for. Maybe the Asgard will know of it. If that's the case, then maybe Thor would help us get some. I'm sure he'd help as it would only do the Asgard good in the long run.
Perhaps he'll even help us with the engines of the ship and make them more Asgard and faster than anything Hades has got.
Looking at the blueprints, I've discovered that the munitions are more impressive than anything Apophis had, even though he himself had the best missiles and shields of the System Lords. The shields are similarly impressive. I really wouldn't have any problem facing off against Yu or Svarog, or any other Goa'uld that wasn't Hades in this ship.
I need to think of a name for it. It's either that or Jack will and we'll end up with another pun.
"Samantha. You are thinking again?"
"Uh, yeah. I am."
"Perhaps I should help you stop thinking?"
Here I go again. Teal'c's been like the other guys this last day or so. Not that I'm complaining. But he's going to have to find somewhere else to stick that thing or else I'm going to be too sore to sit, stand or do anything but laze in the bath.
"DJ! Where the hell are you?!"
The call has been going out for the last few minutes with no response. John has arrived on the peltac with Jack on his heels and I daren't look at either of them. They're going to blame me if we don't find him. I'm going to blame me.
Kar Shel set off in hot pursuit of the glider - Goa'uld presence in this system be damned. We're not letting him get away. It took a minute or so to power up the engines as we'd ground to a complete halt and by then, the glider was many miles away. We can't use the hyperspace engines inside the system or else we'll be in another one before we can blink, so we're not really going that fast. Unfortunately, the gliders are the fastest ones we've ever seen.
Finally, we're catching up with it.
"DJ! Can you hear us?"
"...'me in... can... me?"
"DJ! Thank God. Hold on, we're on our way!"
"Yes! We're with you."
I hit the controls of the view screen and use them to zoom in on him. Oh fuck, he really had blown the hatch!
I point it out and the panic level rises.
"Get ready to transport," Frankie calls out, her voice shaking.
I'm not waiting for her to ring him up, I'm off to the transport room. I know that John, and more than likely Jack, is right behind me.
Even an android couldn't beat me to the rings. I'm so hyped up I reckon I'd have won an Olympic gold at any distance you care to mention. Just as I crash through the door, the rings activate. Whoa! Nearly crashed into them.
As they collapse, I see DJ.
"We've got him!" I call on the comms. "Get the hell out of here!"
I don't have to mention the fact that we saw ships and distinct activity not so far ahead of us. If we don't move now, we're going to have company we don't want.
DJ's still on the floor in a sitting position, just as he was in the glider. I'm on my knees next to him, John and Jack with us moments later.
"DJ? You okay?"
He looks at me and then at John, but says nothing. We see that his skin is a little contorted but it isn't broken.
"Is anything wrong?" I ask, dreading the answer.
"Some of his veins have burst," John says. I guess they call all the tubes and pipe work inside themselves the same biological terms we use for ours. Stop digressing, Daniel. This is serious.
"Can we do anything?"
"Get him home as quickly as possible."
Jack gets on his comms unit and calls to the others.
"Find a gate. Any damned gate. We need to get DJ home now."
Rather than take a chance, we keep him in the ring room. Hopefully, we'll be able to ring him down because there are usually rings near gates... Hang on, why didn't we ring Teal'c and Sam down before? Of course, Jack and John wanted to play with the gliders. It doesn't matter. I can remind them of that when DJ is better.
Nothing more is being said. I'm guessing that John is talking to DJ in their heads. Jack is mad - not sure who with. Me, possibly. DJ, undoubtedly, for daring to get hurt. Probably John and himself because DJ is hurt. Maybe Frankie for not getting him out fast enough. He's not talking to me, that's for sure.
"We'll be at the next system with a gate in two minutes," Frankie's still shaken voice announces a while later.
"I'll take him to the palace," John says, his voice brooking no argument.
"Should Frankie go with you? She knows more about fixing you guys than anyone."
"She's on her way. You three bring the ship straight home. We'll worry about any more devices later."
Jack still hasn't said anything so I agree for us.
Just before we get the message that we've arrived in place and that the rings will work, Frankie appears in the ring room. Jack and I step back. I can't take my eyes from DJ. I can't help wondering if he's not going to make it.
"It's not your fault," he mouths to me as the rings start to activate.
I wish him luck and then watch as my other self disappears.
We just received a surprise. The gate activated, but before we could get there, John came crashing through it and called to us to follow him. By the time we reached the DHD, he had re-dialled and we followed him through to the palace.
DJ is in trouble. Frankie has opened him up and is currently trying to repair a lot of damage. We see why John called for Samantha; she needs help.
"Tell me what happened," I order.
We hear the story as Samantha measures tubing and cuts it to length and Frankie does her best to replace all the damaged tubes inside him. As I digest the news, I know that Daniel is going to be suffering until he gets here and sees DJ for himself. That is, of course, if DJ survives.
He will survive. He must. Failure is not an option. There would be too much devastation.
I remember only too well how O'Neill reacted to the news of the death of the original android Daniel. He said nothing but he was most distressed. That was before he even really had had time to get to know him. He knows and loves DJ and to lose him would be devastating. I fear also for John's sanity.
Once we have heard the story, we all fall silent. John and I stand watch and will the women to succeed.
"How much does he hate me?"
I freeze as I hear Daniel's words.
"John. How much does he hate me?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Oh, come on, Jack. DJ may die because of this. I backed him up on his decision to go out there. I already know he hates me, but I want to know how much and if he's ever going to forgive me."
"He doesn't hate you. He'd never hate you."
He shakes his head and laughs hollowly before turning and walking away.
I start to walk after him but hear I want to be alone in my head.
Okay. For now, I agree. But you're wrong. He doesn't hate you, Daniel. He loves you.
There's a difference?
I don't know how to answer that so I go up to the bridge.
"How long before we reach Annwn?" I ask Kar Shel.
"It will take another two days," he says, staring at the view screen and not looking at me. I guess he's as upset as the rest of us.
"Not as long as going to the Tok'ra, then?"
Right. The big guy doesn't want to talk either. This ship suddenly feels very big and very lonely. Fuck it, I'm going to Daniel whether he wants me to or not.
I know why he's thinking this. I used to shut him out whenever he'd been hurt - or killed. In fact, the worse he got hurt, the worse I acted. Part of him knows that this was just because I was angry with myself because I'd let him get hurt. Even if that wasn't always the truth, it was how I felt. But part of him, I guess, still believes that at times I hated him.
In a way I did. I hated him for getting under my skin and making me hurt when he was hurt.
I hated him for reminding me of my son so damned often.
I hated him for making me love him.
He's in the bathroom. I can hear him retching. It's reached the dry stage now. Without saying anything, I get the water bottle from my pack and take it in there, handing it to him as I sit on the floor next to him.
He nods as he takes it off me, thanking me for following him in a way.
"He doesn't hate you," I say again. "Believe me, Daniel, he doesn't hate you. He hates himself for letting DJ go in his stead. He hates DJ for going. But he loves him so damned much that he's not going to let that get in the way of their relationship - or your friendship. He understands why you backed DJ up. I understand it. But at the moment, we're both reminded of a time that scared us both.
"Dying in that glider was a real possibility and I got so damned close to it. I really truly believed I was going to die."
He's stopped being sick and he's sipping on the water, sitting on the floor and leaning back against the wall, staring at me and saying nothing.
"You see, usually, when we go into battle, we never believe we won't return. Whenever I've been hit it's always been a shock, ya know?"
He nods slowly, in a 'go on' way.
"That time I had to face up to dying in a way I'd never done before, not even when I was in Antarctica. Then... then I wasn't in my right mind; but... in the glider, I knew what was happening. Whenever I had believed I was going to die in the past, I'd known it would be quick. This death was a lingering prospect and not something that I would even wish on a snakehead. It hurt.
"So you see, by letting DJ go, John thinks that he's allowed his cowardice to take over, that if he'd been a stronger man, he'd have insisted on going and not shown any fear. Your reaction - both your reactions - to not letting him go meant that DJ really knows how much that time frightened me... us. Still does."
"So he's going to hate us for making him face that?" he asks quietly.
I don't answer. I have no answer.
"I don't blame him. You're not a coward Jack O'Neill, and neither is John. That wasn't what we were thinking at all. We just didn't want you, either of you, to go through that again. And we didn't have the strength to wait. I don't think you have any idea how scared I was when I was on that damned teltac, racing to you and knowing that we weren't going to make it in time. I knew it. It was the only time I didn't believe we'd get you back."
"I get that, I really do."
I reach out for him and take his hand. He flinches for a moment, as if his confession is going to make any difference to how I feel about him.
"I let you down."
"You got there on time."
"I didn't think I would."
"But you tried. You kept on trying. You faced off a Goa'uld, faced off with the Tok'ra... You didn't let anyone give up. If you hadn't done that I would have died, and so would Teal'c. It was your persistence that saved us."
"But I didn't believe," he whispers. "I lost faith in me, and worse, I lost faith in you."
"I didn't believe you'd find me," I admit. "I lost faith in you. I didn't want to, but I did." I squeeze his hand and force a smile. "But you restored my faith in you, Daniel. You gave me hope for us, too."
"I went straight into Paul's arms," he smiles wryly.
"You needed someone to hold you and I had sent you away."
"I loved him but it was like living a lie. I never stopped loving you more."
"He knew that."
"I know. It's what makes that hurt even more."
The tears fall now. Mine as well as his.
"It's over, Daniel. And when we get home, you'll see that DJ is okay and that John still loves you. If you want, you can call up the SGC and ask Paul to come visit. Maybe it would help?"
He doesn't answer but pulls me into his arms. We hold each other tightly and say no more.
I have no idea if what we're doing is helping. Each time we find and replace damaged tubing and put fluid into him, we discover a new leak. It seems that the androids are not as tough as they think they are. But then he was in a vacuum longer than planned and had had to hold onto the controls as the glider shot through space.
DJ is going to be a wreck even if we fix him up.
Neither John nor Teal'c have moved for hours. I tried to get Teal'c to take John away but either he wouldn't or couldn't. He didn't respond but kept staring at us. I doubt John would move anyway.
I wonder if I would feel quite as distressed if it were one of the others? To be trying to save Kar Shel would be a nightmare, but being able to curl up with Teal'c would soothe my pain a bit. I'd feel for Frankie, of course I would, but in the end, I think I'd get over it. He isn't mine after all.
Similarly with John. The feelings I'd had for Jack had been... no, they hadn't been imaginary, that's not the word. But they hadn't been real. What I'd really felt had been admiration, respect and the love of a friend. Now, it's the love of a brother. John and I are not as close as Jack and I are, even if I do feel deeply for him.
But DJ... It's difficult for me to see him as different from Daniel. Of the four of us - both sets - the Daniels are the closest both in personality and in their relationship. Teal'c has a respectful relationship with Kar Shel, but they don't want to be brothers. Jack and I have brothers back home. We haven't looked for our android copies to be siblings.
Daniel, however, has no family really and he and DJ are close. For once in his life, Daniel has someone he can relate to. Someone who knows him better than even Jack does. He really does think of DJ as his brother. So I know that if we lose him, Daniel will be as devastated as John. Totally inconsolable.
We won't fail. We can't.
We've arrived in Annwn's system. For the last couple of days Jack and I have barely spoken but have clung to each other more than at any other time in the past. We haven't made out, we haven't even kissed. We daren't, I think.
Kar Shel has remained on the bridge at all times. Not letting us anywhere near him, so we stayed on different floors, continuing our search with the scanners just in case, and because we needed something to do.
Mercifully, we didn't find anything. Frankie hadn't finished working on the internal scanner so we couldn't use that. The reason we didn't try using it to begin with, without the adjustment, was because we knew that if Hades was as smart as we think he is, he would have designed the scanners so they wouldn't find what he'd hidden. It would have been a waste of time.
If DJ doesn't make it, I don't know what I'm going to do. Perhaps I shouldn't have let myself get so close to him but I love him like the brother I never had and always wanted. Jack knows that. I think that if we get home and discover that DJ has died, he's going to make sure that John doesn't come near me again.
Not that I wouldn't want to see him, but because I wouldn't be able to face him.
He's stopped the ship and ordered us to the rings. We've gone there without responding, knowing that he probably doesn't even care if we follow his orders or not. I suppose that some of the rings near the house or in the tunnels will pick us up.
One thing we know is that there are no rings near our gate - there couldn't be. The rings are Goa'uld technology, not of the Ancients. And we moved the gate there anyway.
Without a word, Jack presses the control on his bracelet and he and I appear outside our house. Our home. God, it's good to be back.
"Sam? Teal'c?" I call as we step away from the rings.
There is no answer so I call them in my head. Still no answer. Where the hell are they?
The noise of the rings alerts us and we watch as Kar Shel appears.
"They're not here," I say.
"Then they will be at our home."
It's as good a guess as any, so we go with him to the gate. I'm not sure if I want to go.
You want to stay here? I hear.
Yes. But I'm going.
Probably, but I don't care. I won't rest till I know he's safe. I haven't slept in two days and I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep. I've just lain there and pretended to sleep, as Jack has lain with me and pretended, too.
I've dialled up and for once, we haven't bothered to check if it's clear, we've just stepped through. Not sure if that's because we're too tired to think, or perhaps it's because we just don't care anymore.
There is no one there to meet us which doesn't exactly fill us with confidence.
Sam? Teal'c? You here?
We are here, Daniel.
God, it's good to hear Teal'c again.
In DJ's quarters.
Come to them, Daniel.
I don't like the sound of that. My steps quicken, as does my heart. I have to get there now!
We've reached the door but I don't want to open it. I look at Jack and he looks at me with pain in his eyes. It takes Kar Shel to open it.
As we step in, we look around and see everyone here. Sam, Teal'c, John and Frankie.
It's only when I look at the bed do I see DJ lying there. Is he...
His eyes open and he smiles at me. Thank God for that.
"You scared me, you bastard!" I hit out, rushing to his side.
I've never really been one to show how much I've been afraid, it's not something that is conducive to a long life as a rule. But this time I don't care. I'm among family. I'm safe. And so is my brother.
Daniel stayed awake for a while after meeting up with DJ but soon, tiredness overcame him. O'Neill was almost asleep on his feet as well but he insisted that Daniel lay with DJ on the bed and 'nap'. I feel he will do much more than that.
Then O'Neill ushered us out. DJ is still too weak to rise; he had more than twice his normal level of fluid replaced in him as it had kept leaking out every time he was refilled. It will take time for the fluid to pick up the energy levels it needs from his power source. Samantha explained that it was similar to when a battery almost dries out. You need to top up the liquid level and then recharge it. He is now recharging. Daniel is not affected by the fact the light remains on; he has not even noticed it.
"We've been worried," O'Neill says as we sit together.
"I'd guessed," Samantha replies.
He looks at John and says, "Daniel thinks you hate him. He doesn't blame you."
John says nothing but nods slowly. Then he looks at O'Neill with pain in his eyes.
"I told him you didn't, but he knows us too well. You're going to have to tell him yourself."
This time, John nods more quickly.
O'Neill is extremely tired, so Frankie insists that he goes and sleeps. Before he can argue, both she and Samantha take hold of an arm each and drag him off to one of the beds.
The rest of us speak quietly, hardly saying a word but feeling like we should say something. It is not easy. Only when the women return does the conversation pick up.
By the time Samantha claims tiredness, we have agreed on a number of things we should do. That includes watching Annwn's solar system in case anything was missed on the ship. With that, she and I return to Annwn and then ring up to the ship. We will remain here until the others have recovered. I will kel'no'reem on the peltac. Samantha has retired to one of the quarters. Tomorrow, things will look better.
I look in on Daniel and DJ and see that they're both still resting. DJ's eyes are open but nobody's home, I think. He hasn't acknowledged my presence. I don't think I've ever seen Daniel so tired, not even after past marathon study sessions. It's as much emotional exhaustion as anything, I guess.
I feel a presence at my shoulder and don't have to look to know it's John.
"I don't hate him," I hear.
"I love him."
"Yeah. He just needs reminding once in a while."
"He's right, though. I could have."
"Will he forgive me?"
"You know he will. The question is, will you forgive them?"
"I have to. But it scared me."
"What do we do?"
This time I turn to look at him and I smile. For once I know the answer.
"We love them."
He smiles and nods. With that, we move away and let them sleep.
We're back home. Daniel didn't really want to leave DJ but I needed to get him home and to some food. There isn't any at the palace and his stomach was rumbling hard. So was mine for that matter. John told us that the others would be on the ship so it was no surprise to find the house empty. I checked in with Teal'c and he told us that they would stay on the ship and wait for us all to join them. I told him we'd be up in a couple of hours and he was okay with that.
I need to get Daniel to forget the last few days. He's still too damned quiet. I've made some food and he's eating it without even noticing what it is. Finally, I get him to speak.
"John spoke to you?"
"Yeah. You spoke to him, didn't you?"
"Oh yeah. But he knew he had to speak to you anyway."
He thinks for a moment then nods, pushes his plate away and stands up. Then he takes me by the hand and pulls me into the bedroom. I'm not struggling. I know what he wants.
We don't speak. I hold him firmly and push him against the wall. Then I rip his charred, dirty T-shirt off him and do the same with his pants. He'd already kicked his shoes off so that aided matters. His boxers stood no chance whatsoever.
I put his hands on the wall and they go there and stay there as if they're stuck with glue. Then I grab the jar with the oil in it and trickle some down his back. When it reaches the crack in his ass, I run my fingers through it and thrust them inside him.
The only sound I've got so far comes when I ruthlessly start to fuck him with them, not letting up or giving him time to adjust. He knows I need this as much as he does. I need to possess him, to own him... to prove to myself that it wasn't him in that fucking glider. He needs to be punished, to hurt... to forget for a moment.
I grease up my cock and push it inside of him, fucking him hard from the start. He pushes back on me, fucking himself on my dick as much as I'm fucking him. We speed it up, do it harder. I grab his cock firmly, not bothering to jerk him off but let his own movement do the job.
It doesn't take long. How could it? We're both too damned desperate, too needy.
As I pull out of him, he drops to his knees and cries silently. All I can do is drop behind him and hold him.
He's not going to be alone again.