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Loose Ends

Summary: The start of the last ever series. Tying up some loose ends from Mission Impossible/Free Spirits. Questions answered and questions asked. A few thoughts strike the guys and gals, someone else strikes the guys and a few things are plotted. All in a good cause, of course. Or is it?
Dedicated to, and with mega thanks to Alph for hosting me (and the beta! Sorry for forgetting that!). You're the greatest, hun.

"We should make it hot and steamy?"

Ya know, I'm not sure I really wanted to hear those words coming out of Teal'c's mouth. Especially as I know he's talking to Daniel.

"Uh, yeah. At least that's what it says in the book."

Book? Which book? I mean, Daniel's got a lot of books... Not all of which are on any degree course's reading list if you get my drift. Unless it's a course on erotica, I suppose. Let's not go there shall we?

"So how do we get hot and steamy?" Teal'c's asking.

Nope, don't want to go there either.

"It says you need a container, some sort of water supply and fire."


I'm thinking that now might be a good time to do one of two things.

1 - retreat. Always a sensible option when faced with insurmountable odds.

2 - go and find out.

Given that I'm not a coward, unless it's convenient, of course, I really should go with option 2. Having said that...

"Perhaps the masons will have a suitable container?"

Okay, option 2 it is. I can't see either of those two getting hot and steamy with the neo-Roman builders.

"Hey guys, what's up?" Guess it's easier to ask, and probably less painful in the long run.

"Oh hi, Jack. Uh, Teal'c and I were trying to work out how best to put up a doorframe down here. You know, so we can have doors on the bedrooms and the storage room. The, uh, entrances aren't what you'd call square, are they?"

I look at the 'doorway' that he's pointing to and see his, er, point.

"No, they're not. So? What's the plan?"

"It says in this DIY manual that strips of wood can be bent into shape if they're steamed. We figured that if we could get some strips to fit the edge of the doorway exactly, it would give us..." He tails off a little then grins, shrugs and says, "Privacy. In case we need to come down here when, er, if the snow gets bad."

Ah, so I wasn't too far off the mark in the first place. He wants to get hot and steamy so we can get hot and steamy. I'm thinking that this is a good idea.

"Got you," I tell him. "You're right, there is such a thing. I used to go to a boat-builder's yard when I was a kid with my gramps. They'd use a steaming chest to shape the planks, along with a jig of the required shape, so that when they dried out, they'd keep the shape and keep their strength."

I see a little look of confusion in Teal'c's eye so I add, "It's something to do with the fibres. If you take a thick plank and whittle and plane it into a curve, you're removing some of the length of the fibres as you go. If you wet the wood and bend it, then let it dry out, even with a thinner plank to start with, you end up with more of the original grain going in the direction you want it in. Or something," I shrug. "I'm sure it's more complicated than that, but that's how it was explained to me."

"I see," he replies, in that tone that doesn't tell you whether he does see or is just humouring you. Hey ho. Ho hum... I have an idea.

"Ya know, getting a steaming chest would be a great idea. Though I'm sure we could build one ourselves. It's basically a long, hollow tube, blocked off at one end and with a 'door' on the other so's you can get the wood in and out. Then put some water in, light a fire underneath and away you go."

Daniel frowns. "Wouldn't it build up a lot of pressure?"

"Small fire, not much water. Just enough to make some steam. Though I dare say that Sam could figure out the physics and maybe put a safety valve of some sort on it, just in case? We've got enough metal here to make one, that's for sure."

"Jack? What are you planning?"

Damn, the boy's suspicious. I'm so proud.


"Yes, you."

I just shrug again, put my hands in my pockets and saunter off to the rings. I doubt very much whether I'm allaying any of Daniel's suspicions, especially as I'm whistling.

"Daniel, have you gotten any idea of what's on Jack's mind?"

He looks at me and shrugs, pours himself a coffee and sits at the kitchen table.

"Nope, 'fraid not, Sam. Teal'c and I were discussing putting up doors to some of the rooms down in the tunnels, he started on about building a sort of pressure cooker for wood and then got the look."

"The look?"

"Yeah, you know, the one that says he's up to something but isn't going to give."

"Oh, that look." I get myself a coffee and join him at the table. "Could explain why he asked me if I had a pressure gauge."

"And do you?"

"No. So he grabbed John and the two of them disappeared. Said they'd be back soon."

"Probably in time for dinner if I know Jack," he sighs. "It's my turn to cook again."

"Which means he doesn't have to cook and therefore he's looking forward to it."

He grins a little at me, but then there's his own 'look' in his eyes again. It's been there since he got zapped with the extra... well, the extra whatever it was. He says it's something to do with his telepathy but he's not really totally sure how to describe it.

It's been the best part of a month since that happened. In that time, we've finished electrifying our house, built MIB's house, electrified that, had them move over and just pootled around the place for some reason. We even had the 'film night', which was such a success that when we got the last al'kesh to be done up by Thor's engineers, John headed straight back to Earth via the SGC, went shopping with the General and came home with his own flat-screen TV with DVD player and a whole load of different films from the ones we have (on the grounds that we can share them).

In a way, I think Jack's relieved. Not that he didn't want MIB over here for such events, but he still has this guilty feeling when he can't share the pizza and beer. Yes, Daniel made the pizza and it was delicious!

Daniel seems to be reluctant to leave the planet at the moment, which is why we haven't gone on any missions. We haven't told anyone why, though, because it's hard to explain when we don't understand it ourselves. I'm not sure he understands it yet.

Apollo's been over a few times. That's cheered him up. I think that despite the circumstances of their, er, meeting, Daniel's actually quite fond of him. More than fond, really; they have a close bond that I would never have thought that Daniel would ever get with a snake, no matter what side of the fence it was on. But Daniel's got something on his mind. I suppose the easiest thing would be for one of us to ask what it was, but none of us have felt able to.

It's ridiculous, really. I've got to pluck up the courage, haven't I?

"So, er, Daniel..."

He looks at me with curiosity but doesn't say anything. It's hard to ask him. Why, I don't know, but it is. I can do this. I have to do this.

"What's on your mind?" There, that wasn't difficult, was it?

"What do you mean, Sam?" Damn. I suppose it was too much to expect a straight answer.

"Oh, I don't know. It's just you've not been you since Apollo went. It's like you're..."

I don't know what to say next.

"I'm what?"

I shrug, it seems to be the easiest thing to do. In the end I say, "You're always looking like you're thinking. And not the way you're normally always thinking. This is more like there's something niggling away at you."

That's it, isn't it? It takes a moment of my mouth running away with itself for me to realise what it is.

"Ah." He doesn't say any more for a moment, but sips thoughtfully on his coffee. "I wish I could explain," he finally adds with his own trademark shy shrug of his shoulders. "I don't really know what it is. It's just that since Apollo went, I get the feeling that I've missed something."


He shakes his head 'no'. "No, it's not that. We weren't together long enough for that. Sure, I like him a lot, don't get me wrong. He's becoming a good friend. And I wasn't kidding when I said I was positive he was on our side. I've had no doubts about that since; not even the sort of doubts that start when you don't have a positive thing to cling to, if you know what I mean."

Yeah, I guess I do. Doubts can surface about the oddest thing, like when you're a school-kid and you think you have a best friend, but when she talks to another girl, jokes with her... you wonder if she's really your best friend after all. I tell him I understand and he smiles back at me, probably thinking back to similar times for himself.

"It's not that," he reiterates. "It's something more fundamental. And possibly something extremely important. But I'm damned if I can work out what it is."

"Is it something to do with your new, um, talents?"

"If I knew how far they extended, maybe," he shrugs yet again.

"Haven't you tested them out?"

"No. To be honest, I'm not really sure if I want to know."

"What do you mean?"

He takes in a deep breath, lets it out slowly, drinks some more coffee before answering.

"My empathy level... style... whatever you want to call it has changed. I'm aware of things in a way I can't describe. I just don't have the words for it," he adds, probably in an effort to not sound like he's talking over my head. "I mean, you know that it's changed."

Sure, we all do. He's become a phenomenal weather forecaster. Can predict when we're going to get rain, if we're going to have to get all the fires lit because the temperature is going to drop and so on. He's not sure how he does it, but he senses it.

"So why haven't you tried anything else?"

"What's to try, Sam? I mean I don't have anything to compare myself with!"

He's sounding a little upset now, so I reach over the table and take his hand in mine. This is probably one of the reasons we haven't discussed it with him. We know it's bothering him no end.

"You're afraid," I blurt out. I can feel his emotions, too. Not as well as he can feel mine, I'm sure, but I can feel the fear.

"I am," he admits. "I don't know what I can do, I don't know if what I can do will hurt someone..." Meaning us. That would kill him and I know it.

"But if you don't try, you might miss out on a talent that could help us?" I push. He needs to be pushed, if only gently.

His shoulders get yet another workout and he silently returns to his coffee.

"Do you think that this uncertainty is what is bothering you?"

He frowns, then there's a little shake of his head.

"No," he says after about a minute's silence. "It's part of it, I'm sure, but I'm even more sure that I've missed something so vitally important that it's going to impact on our future."

"You're a fortune-teller, too?" I tease.

He kicks me - gently - under the table. "Yeah," he says wryly. "Jackson the Flaming Magnificent. Fortune-teller to the stars," he finishes, pointing upwards.

It's my turn to sigh. I wish I could help him. He knows that, too. In the end I tell him it's time for him to start dinner. Maybe that'll take his mind off whatever it is for a while.

"Ya know, we've really got to get all those gems sorted out," Jack states over dinner. "I mean, we've spent ages working on the one box, picking out the gems by hand and putting them in various containers, but let's be honest here, we haven't made much of an impact on it, have we?"

"Could be because we haven't been spending as much time on it as you think, Jack," I say.

Well, it does bore him rigid. It's usually something we do when we haven't anything better to do. Which isn't as often as he thinks. He just looks at me and frowns, then carries on eating his dinner.

"I could come up with some sort of separating machine..." Sam muses.

Separating... machine... DOH! Call myself an archaeologist and I didn't even think of the obvious. At least I can blame DJ for at least half of the brain-fade 'cause he should have thought of it too.

"I'll sort it out after dinner," I say, giving nothing else away for the moment. "Uh, Teal'c? Have you and Kar Shel made enough boxes to put them all in when it's all done?"

He's been making lots of wooden caskets of various sizes, partially for this purpose, partially because he enjoys the hell out of woodworking, and the rest of it is as a cover for making something special for Sam. Her birthday is soon and we've all been working on our presents; not just for her but for Frankie, too, naturally.

"Probably not enough to fit all of them in, Daniel," he replies, "but sufficient for smaller numbers, as was agreed."

Of course. One of the things we thought of was to make small 'presentation' boxes, into which we could put a mixture of gems, so that we can give them to friends, or to cement new friendships and so on.

"Hmm. Well, if I can do what I think I can do, then we're going to need about thirty containers, each a third of the size of each chest, for temporary storage so to speak. Any ideas, anyone?"

"How quickly will you need them, Daniel?" Jack asks.

"Pretty quickly. Next day or so if we want to get on with this."

Jack thinks about it and then his face lights up.

"We'll pop back to Earth. Go to a removals company. They do strong, large cardboard boxes for shifting bits and pieces. Usually come flat and then you have to stick them together. Failing that we can go to a home store and pick up a load of big, plastic boxes with lids on."

"Good thinking, I'll come with you." I say, then add to him, I need to get some things to finish off my presents for the Sams. We can go in the al'kesh tomorrow if you like?

Sure. What're you after?

Tell you later. Don't want Sam to realise we're communicating.

Dinner's finished, now all I have to do is go find my mechanical brother, some wood, rope and chicken wire and we should be able to sort things out pretty quickly.

Daniel has gone to find DJ. He has not informed us of his plans, but undoubtedly we shall see the results before too long. At least he is occupied. Now that he is not here, Samantha is explaining to us what is wrong with him. We have all noticed how he has not been himself recently, so her explanation is at least - in part - solving that mystery. However, his conundrum is giving us another one to solve.

"I wonder what it is that he feels he is missing," I say. "O'Neill, have you any ideas?"

He shakes his head almost sadly. "Wish I did, Teal'c. All I know is that he's as frustrated as I've ever seen him. To be honest, his suggestion that he comes with me to Earth tomorrow surprised the hell out of me. He hasn't gone anywhere since it all happened."

"I hope he doesn't get overwhelmed with all the minds around him," Samantha sighs. "I mean, here, he's only got the three of us to contend with. We know that he could still hear the others when he was up in space..." Her voice trails off as if she does not know what else to say.

"He thought that might have been residual," O'Neill states. "You know, because he'd heard them down here. I guess I'll find out when we get into Earth's orbit."

He does not add that at the first sign of Daniel becoming upset, he will turn around and come straight back, but he does not need to.

"Should we come with you, O'Neill?"

"Nah, no need. 'Sides, if you did, he might feel like you didn't trust him to cope on his own. I know I'll be with him, but as it was my idea to go there he can't pin that thought on me."

"I understand. You shall not be long?"

"Few hours at most. Might take DJ with. Just to keep him company. John can come too."

We agree. DJ brings Daniel great comfort, some of which is because he needs to explain nothing to him, but these days, at least a part of it is because he has no mental communication with him. He literally grants him peace.

"Hey," I say as I get into bed next to Daniel. He looks at me suspiciously and, of course, I look as innocent as a lamb.

"Hey," he replies cautiously. Then he rolls his eyes and grins wryly. "You want sex."

"Duh? I'm naked, in bed with you, why wouldn't I?"

He laughs a little, but there's no real humour there.

"No," he says. "You really want it..." He looks at me with a warning in his eyes not to say anything. "I mean, I can tell when you're wanting it and when you're wanting it."

"There's a difference?" Come on, let's be realistic here. I happen to be the luckiest SOB in the universe. I've got Daniel. When don't I?

"Yeah," he drawls. "Think about it. You're a guy, so wanting sex is pretty much a given at any time, right?"

"Ya think?"

He chuckles this time, with a touch more humour but not much.

"But," he goes on, "there are times and places where it's not possible, or at the very least impractical, right?"

"I'll grant you that," I agree as amiably as I can. I'm actually hoping he'll get on with it, so we can, er, get on with it.

"For example, if we were still based at the SGC, we're in a briefing with the General, someone says something which puts a sexual image in your mind, you might, no scrub that, you would think of sex; but the whole 'audience' thing, not to mention the threat of court martial et cetera would put it out of your mind reasonably quickly - at least as quickly as possible."

I have to agree with him there. After all, there were distinctly times like that. I can remember one in particular. Daniel went through a UAV report, talking about these pillars that he'd seen. Of course, being as juvenile as me, he saw what I was trying hard not to laugh at, but he's as good at keeping a straight face as I am when he wants to. Better sometimes. It's that baby face thing he's got going on, I think.

Anyway, Carter didn't see it, so she got up, pointed out some 'humped' features either side of the pillar, got pretty excited about it. She went on and on, blithely unaware of the fact that both Daniel and I were desperately trying not to laugh at her. The more excited she got - and we're talking practically bouncing on her feet here - the worse we got. I couldn't look at him, and he couldn't look at me. Neither of us dared look at George; not if we didn't want a carpeting anyway.

She was wittering on about 'wormholes', 'entry points', 'columns', 'uprights', 'shafts' and God only knows what else, and Daniel and I were attempting to stave of both a fit of hysterics and hernias, 'cause we damn near ruptured ourselves.

"There are also times when," he continues, "you'll want sex, but if, for whatever reason you can't have it, such as me not being available or in the mood, you'll be disappointed but can shrug it off."

Like that hasn't happened on any number of occasions.

"True," I say, not a little ruefully.

"Then there's now; or at least the moment you got into bed. It was the kind of 'I must have it'. That seems to have dissipated a bit, though," he adds thoughtfully.

Put two and two together, oh genius, and you'll work out why. Daniel + lecture = 1 × droopy dick. The minute he opens his mouth, unless it's either somewhere in the vicinity of my crotch or looks like he's about to start talking dirty (and he's good at that), Droopy drops off.

"So you think it's this empathy thing you've got going?" I ask, trying to be the supportive SO in the hope that he becomes my 'significant other' in all senses. "I mean the new thing."

I am so not going to call him Yoda again. If he hears one more 'Strong with the force are you', I think he's going to fix my desire for sex. Permanently.

"Yeah. Before, I could tell if you were in the mood, but unless your mood changed dramatically, I couldn't tell you how strongly you were feeling it."

Which could explain why I got a shedload more sex after we got slimed than I have since he got snaked.

"But now you can tell the difference?"

He nods thoughtfully, trying to find the words, I think. One thing I can tell is that it's frustrating him. Probably more than I'm frustrated at the moment, too, so I'm saying nothing for a while.

"How can I put this?" he says, more to himself than to me. "It's hard, Jack." No, it's not. It's currently soft and probably comatose. Oh! He means the description. "It's not like I don't think you can understand, it's just you have no frame of reference."

"How do you mean?"

He's silent again, then I see a light bulb go on. "Okay, let's turn this on its head. How do you feel when you're flying a plane?" Before I can answer that, he adds, "In words that I will truly understand. So that every emotion you get when you're up in the sky, in control of your favourite plane, on a joyride so to speak, becomes clear to me."

He's got me there. I'm not sure that I can. I could tell him of the sense of freedom, the feeling like I'm the only one in the world at that moment, almost that I feel like a bird... But none of it is exactly how I feel.

"There aren't the words," I finally answer with a shrug.

"Exactly! I have no experience of it, short of being a passenger, therefore I have very little frame of reference. You can tell me how it feels to fly a spaceship, because I've done it. You can tell me how it feels to drive a car, or ride a horse or anything that I've done," he emphasises, "and I'll get it; or at the very least I'll be damned close.

"But because I've never flown a plane, never had the desire or need to fly one, I just couldn't understand totally. I'd probably get it academically, could guess what it means to you, but I couldn't be sure that how I understood it was exactly the same way as you'd felt it. It's like describing the many shades of a colour to someone who can only see the entire range as one shade.

"It's the same with this empathy. You have a level of experience of it - in the same way that I have a little experience of flying via the spaceship thing or being a passenger; you could probably understand what I was feeling to a certain extent - could see that one colour, so to speak - but because humans are not naturally telepathic, or empathic, we have no language to describe the actual sensations. And because we don't have the language, understanding it truly is impossible. I don't truly understand it."

He lets out a sigh and says, "All I know is that I can sense the tiniest changes in the levels of someone's emotions, whichever emotions they are."

"Could become useful," I point out.

"In what way?" I've finally heard a positive tone from him. That's good. Really. It's been missing for ages.

"Well, say we were on a mission. We come up against an armed man. He's pointing his weapon at us, we're pointing ours at him.

"Before we got the telepathy, all we had to rely on was our ability at reading body language and gut instinct. We may or may not guess correctly whether he's going to shoot or not. 'Cause after all, you might want to shoot because you're nervous of the opposition, but there's a major difference between seriously considering it and actually doing it. I mean, the moral implications of killing someone are pretty huge."

He nods seriously at that, having run through those very same moral implications on any number of occasions.

"But with plain telepathy, we might just hear 'I want to shoot them'; with the empathy we'd maybe feel a little of his anxiety. In doing so we might miss the last bit of his reluctance to do it - the bit that if we'd put our weapons down would take over his sensibilities and make him drop his - put two and two together and make 'bang'."

He looks at me and considers my words before nodding abruptly.

"You think I'll be better able to tell you when it's safe to drop our weapons?"

"Or we need to shoot," I finish with a shrug. "At least if we have to do that, you can be sure in the knowledge that we just beat him to the trigger, so to speak."

He nods slowly, taking that in. I'm hoping he sees it as a positive, because I know that whenever we've played 'chicken' like that in the past, and lost (in the sense that we shot first), he's always gone home wondering if we could have dropped our weapons and made friends instead.

"Okay," he agrees. "That would be good."

I take a moment to think and then say, "Try me with the empathy thing. I don't promise to understand it, but if you can give me some sort of analogy, at least it'll give me something to go on."

He does the slow nod thing again then says, "Right. Okay..." Some of his favourite 'procrastination terms'... "Right!" Ah, that second 'right' means he has something for me.

"Imagine that your sense of empathy was like something touching your skin... uh, like clothing."

"Ok-ay, go on," I urge.

"Well, you know that when your barriers are up but you still feel someone's mood, it's like the lightest touch. It doesn't affect you but you're aware of it. Like you're wearing something very flimsy, uh, chiffon or lace or something."

"Not that I'm in the habit of wearing those, but I can guess what you mean," I interrupt. For the first time in ages, I see an honest-to-goodness grin on him. He's trying not to laugh at the imagery, I think.

"Right." This time that's drawled, which is good. He's starting to enjoy talking about this. It's only taken a month, but hey, I'm a patient man. "So you let down your barriers and you feel what that person's mood is. It's more real to you. Like, say, wearing cotton or linen. It's..." He scrunches up his face and then says, "Heavier. More physical."

"Yup, still with you."

"Good. Right then. For me, I can tell so much more now. I get everything from the lightest to the heaviest, and all points in-between. Remember when we were in the mine and I felt sick?"

I notice he's not mentioning the 'reception' he got from my family, but nod encouragingly.

"Well, that would have been the equivalent of wearing chain mail, I guess. Really heavy and solid. Pretty overpowering. Up till recently, those three levels were pretty much it for me."

"But now?"

"Now I can feel everything, Jack. The slightest difference. Before I couldn't have told you if it were cotton or denim, but now I could even tell you the difference in grade of cotton. It's like every tiny build-up of emotion is a new layer, one on top of the other."

"Sounds overwhelming."

"It is," he sighs. "It's why I've been trying hard to work on my barriers. I don't want to block you guys out, but only by knowing that I can allows me to face others."

"And now? Are you blocking me out?"

He shakes his head. "Too damned tired," he says, then yawns to underline it. Mr. Droopy is out for the count. "I'm sorry, Jack. I haven't been much fun recently, have I?"

I pull him into my arms and hug him tight.

"No one said you had to be. Love you, remember? Anything else is a bonus."

He snuggles into my arms, rests his head on my chest, kisses it and then shuts his eyes. Before he drops off I hear;

Love you more than I have ever loved anyone and ever will love anyone, Jack.

There's not a lot I can say to that, is there? Who needs sex?

Daniel's looking more positive this morning. He says he's definitely going to Earth because he needs something to finish off his 'gem separator', or whatever the hell it is. Don't care, as long as it does the job quickly and I don't have to think of something, then it works for me.

Teal'c is already out in the workshop. When Jack and John disappeared yesterday, they'd popped over to the masons and came home with a whole load of weathered timber and the steaming chest he was talking about. Apparently having the weathered stuff makes a difference, because it's less likely to warp than green timber would as it dried out over time.

Anyway, Teal'c said he'll give me a shout when the wood is ready and I'm to beam up to Gimli, then beam him and the wood straight down to the tunnel. Frankie and Kar Shel will join us and hopefully, between the four of us, we'll have the wood bent into the correct forms before it cools down too much.

Jack said we'd need to prop it up against the edges for a while, maybe even a few days. Our problem is that because of the nature of the tunnel walls, we can't screw the wood into the edge of the 'doorframe', so we have to rely on the stress of the pieces of wood as they push against each other. We can join them together, using wood glue and maybe big staples. Then we can make doors to fit. That would be good.

Much as I'm used to sleeping in a Tok'ra tunnel, doors really would make all the difference. We've hung blankets over them (and especially over the bathroom facility), but it's not the same. Doors not only keep people out, they keep sound in. Which is a 'good thing'.

I wonder what they're all doing for my birthday? I know they're up to something, but I can't begin to guess. Well, I have been guessing; so has Frankie. After all, it's sort of her birthday too. We've all decided that our birthdays are theirs and that's a good thing as well, because sharing a celebration with someone close makes it better for some reason. I'm actually looking forward to it.

I've made Frankie a present, but she hasn't got a clue what it is. At least I hope not. That's the trouble with making something for someone who is, effectively, oneself. It would be funny if she did the same thing for me, but cool. After all, it was easy enough for me to decide what she'd want because I'd want one. It'll be harder for the guys because they're not us.

Never mind, whatever comes will be welcome, because one thing I know for sure is that they've all spent a lot of time making things themselves, rather than buying something. I really don't care what they give me, either. They've given me their time and their thoughts. Nothing is more precious than that.

Samantha, are you ready to go to Gimli?

Sure thing, honey. I'll call you as soon as I'm there.

Time to go to work, I guess, so I stop staring out at the late autumn trees and ask Gimli to transport me to her bridge.

Okay, I know why I wanted to come to Earth, but I can't help being nervous. What if I'm wrong? What if my barriers aren't as strong as I hope them to be. I know I told Jack that I was having difficulties blocking just the three of them out, and I am, but - and it's a big 'but' - I have a theory that it has something to do with our link. I can't help feeling that that has grown somehow. I always know where they are; if they're within about ten miles of me, I know it. I can feel their presence, even know what direction they are away from me. This could be good on a mission.

I'm hoping, too, that Jack's idea that my new-found insight, as it were, is going to help us while we're out in that big, bad universe. The Goa'uld that we know of are now pretty insignificant, but the Replicators are still there, as are any number of unknown species. Our work in the last couple of years has proven that there are still new aliens to be met, and not just transplanted humans. Given that I can sense other animals' presences, I'm really hoping I'll be able to detect non-human aliens. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

Anyway, we're nearly there. The al'kesh is as fast as Gimli and about twice the size of Mia. I had wondered if we'd ever use Mia again, given the fact that we have gliders available to us if we want to 'take off' for a while, or the two, Asgard-powered ships at our disposal.

Funnily enough, we don't want to get rid of her, or even abandon her. If we're on the lookout for some specific item on Annwn, we tend to use her - probably because we're more used to her and the equipment on her. Even though Gimli, and now the al'kesh, have been attuned to our brains, we still have a connection to our little teltac. It could be that there will be times in the future that she'll be needed on a mission. Who knows? Despite Sam's teasing, I have no idea what's going to happen.

We're in Sol's system. I must be radiating tension because Jack's come over to me, where I've been staring out of the view screen since we left home, and is hugging me.

"You don't have to go down if you don't want to," he says quietly. "And if you do, and it's too much, you can come straight back."

I nod. I have no other answer for him except to wrap my arms around him and hug him back.

We have a plan. As soon as we're in orbit, Jack's going to contact Hammond. Then the fun should begin. His arms drop away from me and I hear him get onto the communicator. There are the initial greetings, then;

"Is Doc Frasier on duty?"

"I'm afraid not, Jack. Is something wrong?"

"No, actually. We were wondering if we could visit her at home. Ya know, see Cassie and all."

"Of course. I'll give her a call and see if she's there, if that would help?"

"That would be terrific, George. Thanks."

They disconnect and then we wait for George to call us back with the news. I hope she's there.


It only took a few minutes before we got the call. The answer was as we'd hoped for and so we're about to surprise her.

"There," DJ says.

He points to a readout on the scanner. We've programmed it to scan for naquada. Cassie still has a little in her blood. There's a big blip representing Cheyenne, and there, a few miles away on the suburbs of the Springs, is a tiny one. Ah, and Jan's dog tags. There's some neutronium there.

The SGC staff decided to have an alloy of their own, so that they could be detected anywhere by any of the ships. If a medical team is needed on board, for example, they can gather together quickly and be in orbit in seconds. Could save many lives like that.

"Time to go say 'hi'," Jack says.

"You go down first, then call us when you have the all-clear," John replies.

Jack agrees, puts his hand out to me and I shut my eyes (as I always do when I know I'm about to be transported) and hope that we end up inside Jan's house.

The doorframes appear to be working. The steamer most definitely made the wood more pliable, and as O'Neill explained when he showed me how to use the machine, it will dry into position more quickly than wood which would have had to have spent days, if not weeks, soaking in cold water.

We have used other pieces of wood to jam the frame against the doorway edge, but even though each frame seems to be a perfect fit, with the pieces of wood fitted tightly to each other, I am not convinced that they will not simply fall away from the wall when they dry, as they will shrink.

I pose this problem to the others and Frankie seems to have an idea.

"What if..." she starts, staring at the frame as she does. "What if we make a sort of bracket?"

"What do you mean?" Kar Shel asks.

"Well, if, when the wood has dried and settled, we get some other pieces of wood, each a few inches long, then we could attach them to both sides of the frame at the same place."

"I see where you're going with this," Samantha says, which is just as well as I do not. "If you have one, say, here - about halfway up on this side, it would screw to the frame and then rest against the wall at a 90 degree angle to the frame. Do the same on the other side in the same place, and then in a few other places around the frame, and it wouldn't matter whether the door was being opened or shut, it wouldn't put any pressure on the internal frame."

I must still look a little confused so she elaborates.

"If we were to push the door inwards to open it," she shows me, miming the action of opening the door, "it would put some strain on the frame in that direction. So, any 'struts' on this side, the corridor side, would take some of the strain away. Similarly, when the door was pushed shut, the struts on the other side would help."

"I do believe I understand now. How many would you require?"

The ladies look at the frame for a few moments, then Samantha gets out her measuring tape again. I fear it will be a long day. We have four bedrooms, my meditation room and the cold storeroom to put doors onto. I look at Kar Shel and see that he feels the same way about this as myself.

However, Daniel did make one good point about these doors. They will keep the noise down. Remembering our first few months on Remoc brings me to believe that these doors will be a good thing. I shall endeavour to remember that as I work on them.

"Daniel! Jack!"

Cassie's jumped into our arms and we're hugging her tightly. We've missed her, too. Anyway, after a few moments like that, and a hug from Jan, I say;

"Ladies, we're here for a few reasons. First, though, Cassie, do you remember we told you about MIB?"

"You mean the androids?" she answers, her eyes full of teenage curiosity.

"Yeah, them. Well, two of them are with us. DJ and John. Would you mind if they came down?"

We get the expected 'of course they can come' and so we call them down. We came first, in case we missed with the directions. It's one thing a couple of humans turning up somewhere out of the blue, but after what happened to them, we were wary about just beaming down with a couple of androids. I mean, what if we'd landed outside and the police were called? Nah, just doesn't bear thinking about.

The ladies jump a little when they suddenly appear, and Daniel and I can't help but grin as we see the guys' faces. They've missed them too. We hold our breaths, waiting to see how Cassie will react to them, but any fears are misplaced as she greets them in the same way as she greeted us. I'm glad. It's hard enough on MIB just knowing that they're not us. It makes it easier when people from our pasts - their pasts - welcome them into the fold.

Jan ushers us to sit down and offers us some food or drink, but we pass; John and DJ obviously can't, and Daniel and me - well, we still hate to eat and drink in front of them. It's the most ridiculous thing and one of the hardest things we have to cope with. I guess it's because it's the main reminder that they're not flesh and blood, even though we think of them as such.

"So, is this just a 'while we were in the neighbourhood' visit?" Jan asks as we settle down.

"Nope. We've come to see you for a couple of reasons," I tell them. "One is, well, it's Sam's birthday soon and we need to pick up a few things. And the other is connected to it."

"Oh? Do tell," she encourages. With a grin at the others, I do.


After some chat, Jan and Cassie are with us as we go into town. We needed a lift and Jan's still got my truck, so that should hold the shopping. The others have gone back up to the al'kesh for now. Probably asking for trouble if two lots of us were seen. Although if anyone from my past sees me in town, it's going to be hard explaining how I look the way I do. Which is why we're heading out of town instead. There's a great big home store with most of the things that we need in a big retail park.

Also there's a craft superstore, apparently, which Daniel wants to go to. Not to mention a mall... I'm beginning to regret this.

If it wasn't for the fact that Daniel isn't actually freaking out, and that we've arranged something special for the Sams, I would call this a waste of a day.

Cassie's bubbling with excitement. Just having us here is good for her, I think. It's weird, but most of the time, we try not to think of those we've left behind on Earth, but sometimes it hits us. Those days aren't good days. But now we have the ability to come and go as we please, we're making the most of it. I'm not as cheesed off with the idea of shopping as I'd thought, 'cause it's here. On Earth. Home.

Though as I look at Daniel, I realise that he's treating this as a visit to a familiar but alien landscape, like the Land of Light. Guess Annwn really is home to him. Which is cool; we've been trying to persuade him that it is after all, but I don't think that Sam and I - despite our assertions to the contrary - had ever given up on the possibility of returning here for retirement.

Whatever Sam decides to do, I now truly understand that if I were to do that, I'd be betraying Daniel. Not in the 'cheating' sense, but that I'd be going back on everything I promised him. That Annwn would be his last home. I can't do that.

All of the frames are now in place and drying. Teal'c can't use his room down here, neither can any of us use the bedrooms. Getting in and out of the storeroom is going to be fun. This is because each of the frames is being held against the 'wall' by cross-bracing.

In the meantime, there's not a lot I can do. The 'brackets' are ready to be screwed to the frames as and when it's time, Teal'c and Kar Shel are making the doors (they're getting planks of wood, gluing them together side-by-side and then will put diagonal braces over them, like you see on barn doors) and Frankie and I are waiting for the guys to come home. It's been hours since they went. Surely they should be here by now?

I look at my watch and realise that it's only lunchtime. Perhaps they're making a day of it? Perhaps they had to wait for a lift into town? Who knows? Who cares? Well me, obviously.

"Sam, did Daniel tell you how he was going to separate the gems?" Frankie asks.

"Nope. To be honest, I wasn't up to asking him anything last night."

"Oh? Tired?"

"No. Not as such. Just... Oh, I don't know. I think I'm fed up. I want to do something."

She nods. MIB could have gone on missions but I think that DJ was reluctant to leave Daniel while he's sorting out whatever's going on in his head.

"I've been thinking," she says. "You know we decided to include all of the known gate locations, excluding the Asgard territory, in our search for the Furlings?"

"Sure. We couldn't be certain that they hadn't expanded beyond what was initially seen as their territory. We were assuming that the Asgard didn't know where they were now, of course."

"Has anyone asked Thor if he knows where they are? I mean, Jack only told us that they'd been mentioned as one of the four races, didn't he?"

I hadn't thought of that. I realise I must be flagging that thought to her as I'm blinking madly. "Uh..."

"Why don't we call him on the subspace communicator?" she suggests. "If he doesn't know where they are, we're no worse off than we were before. But..."

"If he does know, it would save us a hell of a lot of work." As I go to call Gimli to beam us up, something strikes me. "Whatever you do, don't mention this to Jack or John."

"Why not?"

I just look at her and raise an eyebrow, then she nods. We'll only get it in the neck for not asking this sooner.

As we appear on the bridge, she continues with her original thought.

"If he doesn't know," she says as I reach out to the communicator, "I still think we should stick to the lilac worlds, at least as an initial starting point."


She shrugs. "Gut feeling. Okay, we haven't found traces of them on every lilac world, but only one has been inhabited by a species other than them and they were fairly primitive. Not sure how they got there or if they evolved there, but that's not the point. I'm just certain that at the very least, the first planet they went to would have been on that lilac list."

"First planet?"

"From the co-ordinates. Has to have been the first one they gated to."

I nod, getting her point. Now it's time to call Thor.


Unfortunately, he didn't know, but at least he confirmed that all lilac worlds were at one point in the Furling's domain. We've input the known co-ordinates into Mia's database and come up with thirty-seven different planets. At least that's a lot better than the nearly five hundred we had to do.

"I wonder which one we'll go to first?" Frankie muses.

"No idea. We can do the random selection thing again, or we can just work our way down the list. Don't suppose it'll make a great deal of difference one way or the other. The advantage now, though, is that we know it won't take us long to find out where they went after leaving their ship."

"Let's just hope they're still there," she sighs. "And if not, which of the other lilac planets they went to. How many of them are there in total?"

I look at the list and say, "One hundred and seventy-five."

She grins. "Between us we could get that done in a year."

"Barring accidents, captivities, Goa'uld intervention, Replicator battles..."

She rolls her eyes at me then pokes me on the shoulder. Ouch. That's the trouble with the androids, they keep forgetting that they're not human.

Okay, now I'm feeling pretty freaked. I'm trying to hide it, if only because I don't want to worry Jack, or, for that matter, let on to Jan or Cassie why I'm feeling this way. We did the 'big' shop, raising a few eyebrows when we bought, among other things, a whole heap of different boxes; some plastic and on wheels, some without wheels, some wooden ones and even a few basketweave and cane ones. All with lids.

Our explanation to the shop assistant who was helping us get the things out was that our home was undergoing major redecoration and we needed a load of containers to keep our things in and we didn't like the idea of cardboard boxes which could get nibbled on by rodents. It's ridiculous that everything we do has to have a 'safe' explanation. One raised eyebrow too many could have questions asked. Yes, I know we're free to move around now, but I'm still not convinced we're safe.

This doesn't explain why I'm feeling freaked out right now. We're in a shopping mall; I've picked up all the craft things I wanted from the superstore (well, parties need decorations, don't they?) and now I want to buy two gold chains. I've managed to make what I wanted for the Sams, but chain-making is beyond my capabilities. So, we're heading to a jewellers where I'll get two, smooth necklace chains. Then I can go home.

I need to go home.

I've blocked out the vast majority of emotions from me, so at least that theory held fast; a few people with strong emotions have made me a bit jumpy, but for the most part, I've kept that under control.

At least I've managed to block out thoughts completely. That's the biggest relief. Knowing that my mind isn't going to be fried whenever I'm near a load of people. I just need to be prepared for it, I think. So I'm making a mental note that whenever I step through the gate, whether the VCD says there are people around or not, I'm going to have my barriers up full. Similarly when I transport somewhere. I can always let them down if necessary.

Something's wrong, though, and I can feel it. I keep looking around to see if I can home in on whatever is causing my nervousness, but unless I let down my barriers, I can't do that. This is so frustrating!

"Daniel? What's wrong? You're as jumpy as a wallaby on acid," Jan says, putting her hand on my arm.

"Uh, sorry. Just not really used to being surrounded. Must've developed some sort of agoraphobia."

"Ain't that the fear of open spaces?" Jack asks, sounding confused.

"Sort of, but not in this context. Agoraphobia is literally a fear of market places, from the Greek 'agora' for 'market place' and, er, 'phobos' which means 'fear'. It's also applied to a fear of lots of people in any public place."

"And there was me thinking you'd gotten scared of shopping," he teases.

"No, that would be your phobia. Linked in with the fear of opening your wallet," I tease back.

He pokes his tongue out at me and then steers me into the nearest jewellery shop. While we wait, the girls look around. I watch their eyes and let down a little bit of my shielding so that I can see what makes them excited. Doesn't hurt to have hints as to what to get them for their own birthdays, does it?

Ah, Cassie loves the fire opals. Just as well we have some of those in our own opal box. And Janet? Blood-red rubies. Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. It's also just as well that we have those, and that in the craft shop I was able to buy rather large supplies of earring wires and other such stuff. I'll let the others know when we get back.

I finally get some attention from the shop assistant, tell her what I want and then hear;

So? Is it really lots of scary people? I know that made you jumpy at the SGC, but this seems different, Daniel.

I don't know, Jack. I just get the feeling that something is not right.

Can't you pin it down, you know, with your direction-finder thingy?

Trust him to speak of it like that. At least it means he's treating me normally, which is what I need right now.

Not without taking the chance on flooding my mind with everyone else's minds, no. I'm still not confident enough in my ability to deal with one thing at a time.

Okay. The assistant's coming back. Let's get the stuff and then get out of here, eh?


The sooner the better.


We're back at the truck but I'm still feeling it. It's like there's a pair of eyes on me. I keep looking around and all of a sudden, I get the sense that someone's following us.

"Uh, Jack? Don't look now... No, actually, do look now. I'm thinking that we're being followed."

He looks around and I mentally nudge him in the direction of the sensation. He acknowledges me silently, then urges us to get into the back of the truck.

"Jan," he says quietly as she starts to pull out, "drive home directly. Do not take any back roads. Stay on the main road wherever possible."

"Ok-ay," she says, aiming for the exit. "Any particular reason why?"

"We're not sure, but we think that we're being followed."

"By whom?"

"No idea," he replies. "Not sure how anyone could have found out that we were here."

"The SGC?" I suggest. "You called the General and asked him to contact Jan. We said we were going to visit, didn't we?"

"There could have to have been someone in the control room who could have called someone..." Jack starts thinking about the implications.

"NID?" I ask. "Jan? Have there been any hints that they were still around?"

"No," she says. "We thought they'd all gone."

"Or gone underground," Cassie mutters.


She looks surprised at Jack's retort. "I watch TV," she says. "It happens in films and such."

Jack shrugs. She's got a point.

"So, how do we find out?" Jan asks.

"Whatever happens," Jack states, "you two aren't getting involved." He opens his communicator. "John? You there?"

"Where the hell else would I be?"

Sometimes having two O'Neills around is a pain in the ass.

"Yeah, well, instead of being sarcastic, I want you to do something."


"First, contact George and then beam him up to the ship. When he's there, tell him he might have some sort of mole. We're not sure, but we think we're being followed."

Jack looks over Jan's shoulder and into the mirror. He nods slowly as she indicates to turn and the car that we think our pursuer is in does the same.

"Any ideas who?"

"Short of the NID, no."

"What're you going to do?"

"We'll stay with the ladies until we get to their house, then I want you to beam us and our stuff straight up. If nothing else it'll confuse the heck out of whoever it is when they realise that we're not in the truck after all. We should be there in the next, what, forty minutes?" Jan nods at him. "I'll call you as soon as we arrive. Get George to send a team straight to Jan's house. Hopefully they'll be there in time."

"We're not going to leave them on their own, Jack," I say.

"'Course not. Ladies, as soon as you get out of the truck, I want you to lock it, just as you would normally, then go directly into the house. We'll beam you up as soon as you're inside it."

He's left the comms open so that the others can hear this. We can hear John speaking to the General, then there's the sound of his voice as he arrives on the ship. John's asking him to send a team he trusts, preferably SG-1, directly to the house and to tell no one about what's going on. He agrees, then John's voice comes back to us.

"Anything else?" he asks.

"Yeah. Have we gotten any VCDs on the ship?"

DJ's voice comes back at us. "Uh, yeah. What do you want to do?"

"Send one down. Better still, send two down. We'll leave one in the truck and put the other one inside the house. If anyone tries to look inside, we'll catch them on 'video', so to speak. Set the receiver to record."

"Will do," we hear. Then they sign off.

I've been watching the car through the mirror on Cassie's side of the truck and it's still with us. We've made three turnings so far. Coincidences aren't something I usually believe in.

We were called on the subspace communicator by John and told that there may be trouble. Daniel feels that he is being followed, and O'Neill apparently agrees. We cannot take any chances. It is just as well that Samantha was bored and had returned to Gimli to further study the 'instruction manual' to improve her knowledge of Asgard technology or else we would not have received the call. The four of us are now at the gate and are awaiting the 'green light' to step through to the SGC.

As soon as we get it, we go there and General Hammond calls us directly to his office.

"Thank you for coming," he says when we step inside. "Have you been apprised as to Jack's suspicions?"

We do not correct him as it is more probable, in his eyes, that O'Neill would spot someone following him than would Daniel.

"We have," I reply. "What should we do?"

"We're waiting for Jack to call us when they get back to Doctor Frasier's house. SG-1 are on their way there, in the hope that they may catch whoever it is."

"John said you might have a spy of some sort here?" Samantha says.

"It is the only likelihood," he sighs. "Short of someone following Doctor Frasier out of habit." He finishes his sentence with a shrug. As unlikely as that is, we have to take into consideration that it is at least a possibility.

"The question would be why someone would wish to do that," Frankie states. "I can't see why she, of all people, would get some official, or even semi-official interest. If it were something as simple, but as creepy as a stalker, he would have gone the moment he saw the guys with them. Wouldn't he?"

We agree. That would seem to make sense.

"So how am I going to find out who is the mole?" Hammond asks.

"Who was in the control room when you were being contacted the first time?" Samantha replies. "It would have to be someone who heard your initial conversation. Unless you went to a phone in a 'public' area where you could be overheard?"

"I called from the nearest room to the control room with a phone which connects to the outside," he sighs. "No one was in that room but me."

"So it must have been someone in the control room," Kar Shel states.

"I've been trying to think who was there. Sergeant Davis was there, but I cannot believe that he would do such a thing."

"No, that's highly unlikely," Samantha agrees. "Walter Davis has always been someone we can trust. Who else was there?"

Hammond drops his head in his hands. "You know, I can't remember, I wasn't paying attention at the time. There were a few people; there always are a number of people there as you know. But who they were..." He lifts his head and then shakes it. "And without asking around, I can't begin to remember."

"If you do ask, you may alert the mole that you are aware of him. Or her, of course," I say.

Hammond nods without speaking.

I do believe that I have an idea of how to retrieve his memory; however, I would need to confer with the rest of my team before suggesting it. All I shall say for the moment is this;

"We should wait until we hear from O'Neill. Perhaps then what we can do will become clear."

Okay, Daniel's moving from the realms of the jumpy to the kingdom of the totally freaked out. I know that his face is a mask of calm, but my own empathy, combined with how damned well I know him, is telling me that underneath it all, he's in a state of complete panic. He's not scared for himself - the day he is scared for himself is probably the day that will freak me out - but he's afraid for all of us. The ladies at the moment, and then us and the SGC later on.

That car is still following us. I'm glad that I insisted on buying a covered truck. Don't want the neighbours seeing stuff suddenly disappearing from the back of it. And I know that thinking about the shopping at a time like this might seem a bit on the silly side, but frankly, we need the things and I don't want to have to come back again anytime soon, what if we're going to be followed and all that.

Cassie's playing it cool. She's a good kid. Hardly a kid anymore, O'Neill. No, she's a fine young lady and Jan should be proud. Any number of other people - no matter their ages - would be visibly panicking about now, but she isn't. Underneath it all, she's nervous but maybe a little excited. I'm going to have to rely on her to follow my instructions to the letter in a minute and I have no doubt whatsoever that she'll do it.

"Jan, just pull up onto the drive and stop. Don't go into the garage. Daniel and I can't be seen from this angle, so it'll be okay. We'll watch you go into the house. I want you both to get out, uh, Daniel, can you lean over the back of the seat and grab their bags please? Want to make this look like they've just been on a shopping trip of their own. Ya know, acting normally."

I watch his ass as he does as I ask. He was right, it's a constant thought but there are times and places you just can't go there. Although as he turns back around, he gives me the look that tells me that he knows precisely what I was thinking about. I give him a little shrug - ya know, the real innocent 'who me?' one - and he gives me back the first genuine grin I've seen since we left Annwn. In other words he's seen right through me. A little cough from Jan gets my mind out of the gutter and back to the job at hand.

I see in the mirror that the car has pulled up about five houses down, out on the road so it definitely doesn't belong there. The driver is still inside it; from his angle, he can't see what's going on in here. Daniel gives the bags to Cassie, then the ladies do as briefed. They get out, and while Daniel and I watch the mirrors like a pair of hawks, Janet presses the remote locking thing on her key ring and then they both head for the front door. Still no movement. This is good; that means they're not after the girls, I think.

"John, send the VCDs down; one to me, one to Jan."

"Done. Janet's put hers facing the front door."

"Terrific. I'll put this one on the back of the back seat; out of sight, but where it can see. Done. Time to beam us all up."

We reappear on the bridge of the al'kesh, Cassie's grinning from ear to ear. DJ announces that the shopping's in the cargo hold and we're in communication - in private - with George and the rest of our teams. That's good. I'm glad they're here.

"SG-1 are in place," we hear on the communicator from George.

"We'll go back to the house and give him a reception he wasn't expecting," I tell them. "John will send us back down, and he'll pick up Sam and Teal'c, too. Frankie and Kar Shel can stay with you for the moment, just in case word gets back to your mole and he spooks. They'll stand a better chance of taking him down than any human."

I get agreement from the others, then Daniel and I find ourselves inside Janet's house. Moments later, Sam and Teal'c are with us.

"See if he's heading to the truck," DJ's voice says over the comms.

We silently make our way to the front of the house and try to watch without being seen. He's obviously decided that now is a good time to come look because of the apparent lack of action here.

Anyone recognise him?

I get three 'noes' back at me, so I doubt there's any point in asking John or DJ. He's looking inside the truck now, and from the expression on his face I'd say he's a little surprised to find it empty. We have one of two choices. Either we can beam him up to the al'kesh or we can tackle him here. I ask the others what they think and hear from Daniel,

We don't know if he's armed, Jack. One thing we haven't got on the al'kesh is personal weapons. This wasn't exactly supposed to be a day of action, was it? Not to mention Cassie's up there. I'm not putting her in danger. No, we tackle him here and now.

And what if the neighbours see us coming out of the house and hadn't seen us going in?

He shrugs. Frankly I don't think he particularly cares. Note to self, though; from now on, carry zats on all ships at all times.

I tell Sam to stay put and watch from the front window to keep us up to date with his movements, 'cause when he moves from the truck he'll be out of the VCD's range. I put Teal'c in a room just off the hallway, in case he tries to break into the front of the house, then Daniel and I head out the back. He goes around the house one way, I go round the other and we do a pincer movement.

He's walking up to the house. Doesn't look like he's going to knock on the front door, but rather that he's going to have a mooch around.

Thanks Sam. If he gets anywhere near opening the front door, tell Teal'c and he can open it. If nothing else, it'll surprise the hell out of him.

I can see him, but he hasn't seen me yet. Nor Daniel. We're both at the corners of the house, Daniel's hidden better because of the truck. I give him a mental countdown.

On three.



Why three? Why not just say 'now'?

I'm thinking I really need to talk to him about having brainfarts away from dangerous situations and not during them.

Fine. NOW!

We both run towards him. He must have heard me - the ground's a bit noisier here - so he's turned to face me. I see him pull out a gun.

Fuck! He's armed! I call in warning.

Daniel yells at him, confusing him. I see him turn to fire at Daniel so I do a flying tackle and take him out at the knees.

I'm watching from the window as Jack wrestles with the man. Daniel's piling in on top of him, I think I can see SG-1 coming out of the van, but they're a little too far away to help at the moment. I'd go out there, but I think it would add to the confusion. Uh oh, Daniel's been pushed away. The man's gun has been knocked about six feet from him so at least he can't shoot them. He's trying to get it; Jack's stopping him.

Daniel's heading for it but the man's kicked out and sent him flying. He's on the grass, the gun is out of his reach. I see frustration in his face as he tries to get it. HUH?! He's got it. It's in his hand. I see his mouth moving, shouting at the man to stop. He sees the gun pointing at him and he freezes. Jack finally gets a decent grip on him and holds him tightly.

At last, Lou and the others are there. All of that action must have taken less than thirty seconds, possibly no more than ten. It seemed to last for ages, like I was watching it in slow motion or something.

What I want to know - apart from the obvious - is how the hell did Daniel get his hand on the gun? It was out of reach. I'm sure of it. Aren't I?

No time to think about that yet. I call Teal'c and we go out of the house.

"Typical," Lou says. "You send for the cavalry but can't be bothered to wait for us."

"You took your time," Jack replies with a snort. "What, your horses went lame or something?"

Lou laughs back at him, then sets his team on the stranger.

"Take him to the van and tie him up. Make sure he doesn't have any means of communication on him. I'll be with you in a moment."

They do as they're told; they are armed, so their prisoner doesn't attempt to escape. Daniel's still pointing the gun at him, his hands are shaking as if with the strain of holding back from firing. To be honest, I think the man's more afraid of Daniel than he is of the three with guns right next to him.

"Hey Danny, you can put it down now," Jack says quietly. "We've got him."

Daniel doesn't say anything, but he nods, gives Jack the gun and then goes inside the house.


"Don't ask me," he sighs. "I think he's a bit overwhelmed, that's all. He'll be okay." He turns to Lou and says, "Don't take that chuckle-head to the mountain yet. Wait till you've heard from Hammond. We need to find out if there's a mole up there first."

"Sure. We'll see if we can't get some info from him. Ya know, tied up in the back of a van... We'll take him for a drive in the country."

He grins broadly as Jack agrees. I know what he means. The guy will think that they're prepared to kill him and hide the body. They won't. I think.

"Now what?" I ask Jack as we head back into the house.

"Now we lock up again and go back to the ship."

"O'Neill. Before we do that, I have a suggestion to make."

"Oh? What's that, Teal'c?"

"I think I know of a way to find the mole."


Teal'c looks serious.

"By revealing our secret to Hammond."

Teal'c has just said that we have to tell George about our telepathy. That way we - meaning I - will be able to root about in his head to help him remember who was in the control room when he heard from us. What he says makes sense, but I'm pretty scared about it all the same. Given what's just been said, and what's just happened, however, I'm inclined to agree. But I'm making one condition.

"We tell Janet and Cassie, too."

I get stunned looks from the others so I stare at Jack and Teal'c and they seem to understand why I've said it.

"That's okay. They'll keep the secret," Jack says suddenly. "Cassie'll be cool about the whole thing, especially given what happened to her that time. Ya know, the whole brain fever thing."

"Mind fire," Sam corrects without missing a beat. "You're right, though, they'll be okay about it."

You sure? Jack asks me.

Given what we arranged with them, I'm thinking it mightn't be a bad idea, Jack. Besides, they're as much family as your mother or siblings or Sam's brother are, aren't they?

He nods slightly, then gets on the communicator and calls to John to beam us up.


"George. Can you come up to the al'kesh for a few minutes?" Jack asks over the communicator.

There's a slight pause then we hear, "Sure. Nobody can see me at the moment."

"Great. We'll bring you up in a minute."

He turns to Cassie and Janet. "We'll bring Frankie and Kar Shel, too, okay?" he says, nodding at John who's probably now mentally communicating with them. I think he's waiting for their clearance that it's safe to beam up, then a moment later, they appear, swiftly followed by George.

Frankie looks a little nervous, but Cassie does us all proud by giving her a big hug. Jan has met the androids before, of course, so we're really glad that Cassie's taking them all in her stride. Now Frankie is beaming, because she loves her as much as Sam does. Even Kar Shel is getting a hug and he doesn't seem fazed one bit. That's good.

"Uh, folks," I say, interrupting the sort of reunion, "we, uh, need to explain something to you all. About us. It's kinda weird, but..."

"Hey," Cassie breaks in. "You guys got copied, then made younger, and I'm an alien-human with crazy stuff that happens to me. Weird is normal. What's up, Daniel?"

I can't help but laugh. Most people would find us odd, or even freaky. She takes all the sting out of everything.

So I explain in the same way that I explained to Jacob. About the sliming, about our enhanced senses, how Teal'c can connect to us but not to anyone else, but how we, the three of us, are telepathic. Then I tell them about Apollo and what happened to me.

Not once do they break into my explanation, but I can feel their emotions. George and Janet are a little afraid, but not of us - me in particular - but for us. That helps. Cassie just shrugs and says it's way cool. I've never been one to get attached to kids, but she's something special, in more ways than the obvious.

"Anyway," I continue, "as I said, we're not listening into your thoughts. But, if you will give me permission, George, I might be able to help you remember who was in the control room by doing just that. I will only help you remember that moment, I promise. I would never delve into your mind and would certainly never enter it without your permission. We've long learned how to block out other people's thoughts, so that isn't difficult."

I try to say that without too much hesitation because since my abilities were enhanced, that's been pretty difficult to do.

"How would you do it, Daniel?" he asks, sounding a little nervous if I'm honest.

"I would just want you to think of the moment when you entered the room. Undoubtedly you looked around yourself, probably without even realising it. It's something everyone does. The moment we recognise that there is no one there that we don't know, we 'forget' that we've even looked. I just want to assist you in remembering that first second or so. Like a freeze-frame. I swear on everything that I hold sacred that I will not go any deeper."

"I trust you," he states. "I know of no people more honourable than those surrounding me at this moment. And believe me, that is not something that I say lightly."

I can feel that he means that, so can Jack and Sam. We're profoundly honoured. But that isn't getting us anywhere.

"Thank you," I say sincerely.

"What do you want me to do?" he asks, trying to get past the 'moment'.

"Just try to remember where you were and what you were doing just before you got the call that we were trying to communicate. If you were already in the control room, try to 'step back' to the moments before you entered it."

He shuts his eyes and then I get a small nod from him.

Can you hear me?

I can, Daniel. What now?

Enter the room and then stop.

I see what he saw. A quick flick of his eyes around the room, just as I said he would have done. Walter Davis is at the gate control computer, Sergeant Carey is near the door. Lieutenant Abbi Moorehouse is near the UAV monitor, looking at a recording. A few other people I recognise are doing things they should be doing. Then I see someone I don't know.

Who is that? I ask him, mentally pushing him towards a woman near the microphone used to speak to people in the gate room.

Captain Egelston. She hasn't been with the SGC long. She's an expert in engineering.

Any doubts about her loyalty?

She hasn't given me cause to doubt her. She is very efficient, writes good, legible reports... he teases me. Well, I never said my handwriting was any good.

Hang on, a legible engineer? I've never met an engineer at the SGC whose handwriting was legible. They're usually in too much of a hurry, too excited about their discoveries to get down what they know.

You think she's our mole?

I don't know, but that's certainly made me suspicious. I mean think of it this way; if all she is is an efficient engineer, then her interests will solely lie with giving you reports that will encourage you to let her get on with her work. Anything illegible or incomprehensible to you could easily be explained face-to-face. However, if she's passing information on to someone, or a group like the NID, then they'd require complete, but clear documentation. They wouldn't have so many opportunities to question her without being found out would they?

He nods silently as he considers my thoughts. There are no more people in his mind, so I break the link. "We need to get everyone that was in that room together, and before they leave the mountain," I tell him.

"Send me back down, then come to the briefing room in five minutes."

One of the others sends him down, then we say our goodbyes to the ladies before beaming them home. I tell the gang what I saw. Sam and Frankie get annoyed. Perhaps I shouldn't have told them about the handwriting thing...

We have been called down to the briefing room. I have accompanied my team, though I fear I can do little. Our plan, as such a plan it is, is that those who were in the room will be asked innocent questions by the General, myself, O'Neill or Samantha. While we are doing this, Daniel will remain silent. He is best-placed to judge whether someone is telling the truth or not.

There is confusion in the faces of all those concerned. O'Neill greets those that he knows well, smiles at those he does not know so well and, I believe, is attempting to charm Captain Egelston. She seems to be succumbing to his technique.

"I know this sounds weird," he says to them, "but can any of you remember if anyone entered the control room or the gate room who shouldn't have been there?"

"When?" Captain Egelston asks.

"Some time today. When you were there."

I see that they are all thinking, their faces frowning, but there is no look of recognition or understanding whatsoever.

It's her. I'm sure of it.

Daniel's thoughts come clearly through to us.

One hundred percent positive? O'Neill asks.

Ninety-nine, he replies. I want to get her on her own.

Okay. Hang on.

"Look, we're sure that something happened, and we're sure that one of you knows it," O'Neill states. "The thing is, you might not know that you know it."

"Excuse me, Sir," Sergeant Carey breaks in, "but if you were to tell us what was wrong, perhaps we would be able to tell you if we knew."

O'Neill smiles at him. "You'd think," he replies. "But we think it's one of those 'didn't know I knew it' scenarios. The sort best 'bumped' out of people, if you know what I mean."

"Yes, Sir," he says. "Ask any question you think will help."

And this is why it isn't him, we hear coming from Daniel in a very dry tone. Jack, let's not waste anyone's time. Get Egelston on her own.

"Perhaps if we were to question you one at a time?" Samantha suggests sweetly. "If you're not surrounded by others, it might help."

Captain Egelston looks at her watch.

"Have you got somewhere better to be, Captain?" Hammond asks.

She blushes slightly, then says, "I'm sorry, Sir. My duty shift is nearly over and I'm supposed to be meeting a friend straight after it. I'm not really sure what help I can be because I was not in the control room for very long."

I believe she has given us the excuse we were looking for.

"In which case," O'Neill says, "why don't we talk to you first? If that's okay with the rest of you?" he says, his voice still light but in the tone that used to say to junior officers that they had better agree with him. They all do.

"Come with us," Daniel suddenly says, then stands up and walks away.

We are unsure as to where he is going, but Hammond tells the others to stay where they are for the moment, and Captain Egelston, accompanied by the rest of MIA and the General, follow Daniel out of the briefing room.

Daniel's taken us to the interview room. He's asked that Hammond, Sam and Teal'c remain outside, but that I come with him. I think that he's going to do the questioning. But then again, he might not. Let's play this one by ear, shall we?

"So, Sir," Egelston practically spits. "What is it you want to know?"

"Me? I don't really know," I say. "Tell me what you did from the moment you entered the control room."

She looks a little suspiciously at me, then a lot suspiciously at Daniel. He's saying nothing. He's barely even breathing. I'm not looking at him, but I'm trying to get her to look at me. He's doing his thing, I think. Our link isn't up at the moment because he's trying to concentrate on what she really knows.

I listen to her as she tells me what she did. Even I can tell that it's not the whole truth. I let down my own barriers and 'feel' my way through this.

"Are you sure you didn't do anything else?" I ask her when she states that she has finished.

"Positive, Sir."

"What about when you left the room?"

As soon as I ask that, I can sense that Daniel's gotten everything he needs to know.

"I went to my lab, Sir," she says.

"Where you telephoned your contact at the NID," Daniel suddenly blurts out. "You told him that we were back on Earth and he put a tail on us, didn't he?"

She's trying to bluff her way out of it, but even a non-telepath could tell that she's lying.

"Hmm, now, who would your contact be?" Daniel all but purrs. "It wouldn't be Kinsey, would it? No, I suppose that's too high up for someone of your rank. Perhaps a relative? Maybe your father? He would be of the right sort of age group to be friends with Kinsey. Now, what does your father do? Is he in the forces? No? A politician then? Ah, that's it. One of Kinsey's cronies."

He goes on and on like this, telling her, without telling her so to speak, that he can read her mind. He's making it sound like he's guessing and guessing right on the button. I look up at the one-way mirror and give a small nod. It's time to bring in the man that was following us.

She's still trying to deny everything. Time to end this charade, methinks. And time to press a button or two of my own.

"Give it up, Captain. We're not stupid, neither are we blind. Your body language is so clear it's like a neon sign, right above your head. Fifty foot high in bright orange. It's all but flashing 'I'm a stinking liar'. Believe me, when you're handed over to the proper authorities, every single thing you've told the NID will come out. Because on one thing you can be clear. You will tell us every detail. In triplicate."

"I won't tell traitors like you anything!" she spits.

"You just did," Daniel says quietly. "And it's you who is the traitor. The NID want nothing but power and to take over the gate. Their sole intention is to undermine the Government and the Constitution. Not to mention the fact that should they have ever taken it over, Earth would be annihilated by now. People like you only want one sort of thing. Money. Power. Influence. And it's people like you that are least fit to have it."

He looks up at the mirror.

"Take her away and lock her up. Don't let her contact anyone until the relevant investigatory authorities have been notified."

He's speaking about the senator who's on the NID's trail. That guy is so tough he makes Danny look like a wimp.

A couple of large SFs come through the door, armed to the teeth and twice as ugly as an average marine after a weekend on the booze. She's going nowhere. I hear George giving orders to let the others go and then for her to be put in solitary confinement until further notice.

Who was she going to see? I ask Daniel as the door closes.

I think it was the man we're about to see, he replies.

I see that he's upset. Not surprising really. Thought we'd gotten rid of the slimeballs, but apparently there are still a few squirming about the place. This was supposed to be a shopping trip. I remind him of that and he rolls his eyes. Then I hear; Uh, Jack, whatever happens, don't let Sam or Frankie into the cargo hold until we've 'sanitised' it.

It takes me a moment to realise what he means and then I get it. The things we bought for the ladies' party are there with the rest of the things. No point in spoiling the surprise, is there?

Gotcha. I'll sort it.

I get up, go out of the room, tell the others to keep an eye on him while I go take a leak. I find the nearest rest room, then after making sure that I'm the only one there, call John and make sure that he's on his own. I pass on the info about what's just happened, what's about to happen, then ask him to get the 'secret' shopping out of the hold and put into another room - preferably one which the ladies won't go into. He gets my drift and we sign off.

By the time I'm back in the interview room, our 'attacker' is sitting in front of Daniel - another two hulking great SFs standing either side of him. I tell them they can go. Again, I'm not disturbing Daniel, but I'm not saying a word to whoever he is. This time, I'm going to be a touch more oblique.

Sam? Teal'c? What happened when I was out of the room? I hear Jack calling to us from inside the interview room. We're just watching and waiting for something to happen.

The man was brought in, handcuffed to the chair and Daniel has done nothing but stare at him, Teal'c answers for us.

Oh? Got any idea what Danny's up to?

None whatsoever, O'Neill. However, his behaviour towards the man is disturbing him greatly. He seems most agitated.

I'll say, I put in. Daniel's doing his unblinking stare thing at him. It's making my eyes water. Heaven only knows what it's doing to that man.

I'll try to find out, I hear from Jack. After a few moments, I get, His name is Christian Bates.

That would be a misnomer, Teal'c states. His actions would make him far from a real Christian.

Yeah, well, that's the case for any number of these right-wingers. And I'm getting that impression.

I wonder what impressions Daniel's getting? I ask.

Guess we'll find out soon enough, Jack replies.

The man has been sitting in front of Daniel for at least five minutes already. He was jumpy before he was brought in. Daniel just continues to stare at him and doesn't say a word. Neither do we.

Another five minutes passes and the guy is ready to crack, I think. All of a sudden, Daniel pushes his chair backwards with a loud scrape and stands up. Bates, whoever he is, has had about as much as he can take. Heaven only knows what SG-1 did to him, but he's a bundle of nerves. Even from out here I can sense that he's about to break.

Now Daniel is leaning over the table and staring deeply into his eyes.

"Talk," he says. It's all he says.

"They'll kill me!" It's the first thing to come from Bates.

Daniel looks evilly at him. In a quiet, but as strong a voice as I've ever heard from him he states, "We don't need to hide the bodies."

That does it. I'm glad the tape's running because stuff is spouting out of this guy's mouth like water from a pressurised fire hose.


We're on our way home. Daniel's not speaking at the moment, but I think he's trying to put everything into perspective. Just as before, there is a question that I want to ask him but I'm not sure if I can. I think I'll wait till we get home. Maybe when he's back on Annwn he'll feel more secure.

Frankie's happy. Meeting Cassie has helped, I think. She missed her very much, just as I did - and do whenever she isn't around. Being accepted as if she were a long-lost friend made Frankie feel a bit more human, I guess. I suppose it's the same for the rest of the androids. We're so used to them now, so accustomed to having them around, that sometimes we forget what they've missed out on.

They say they came to terms with not being 'us' pretty early on, but there must be times when it hits them hard. Now that our families - our whole, extended family as it were - have met and accepted them, it'll make it easier for them to truly accept that they are who they are, just as we are who we are. It'll also remind them that they're a part of us.


MIB have gone to their home, we're sitting around the kitchen table and eating. As soon as we entered our house, Daniel's stomach started rumbling loudly, giving Jack the excuse he wanted to fuss over him. Daniel complained, naturally, pointing out that he hadn't had time to eat and neither had Jack, so at least their bickering level is back to normal. Now, I think, is time to ask that question.

"Uh, Daniel," I say carefully. "Tell me something."

He looks a little suspiciously at me then replies, "Anything in particular?"

"Yeah. When you were trying to get the gun, and that guy was trying to stop you with his feet, you were too far away from it to be able to pick it up. Yet a moment later, it was in your hand. Now, I know you were scrambling over the grass to reach it, but I was watching you. Your hand was at least six inches too far away from it for even your fingertips to grab it. So, how did you get it?"

He seems a little bewildered by my question and for a moment, I wonder if he's going to obfuscate, but in the end he shakes his head.

"I don't know," he answers honestly. "I remember feeling incredibly frustrated. I needed the gun. It wasn't a desire, it was an absolute, unequivocal, desperate need. One moment it wasn't in my hand, the next moment it was. I guess I thought that I must have reached it.

"You know what it's like in the middle of a fight. Time plays tricks with you, your attention gets divided. You're not always aware of everything, of every single passing moment. By the time I realised the gun was there, I only knew that I had to point it at the guy to make him stop hurting Jack."

"Do you think that you've got some telekinetic ability?" I ask him as gently as I can. I know how much he's scared by his new abilities, so I don't want to frighten him further.

He shrugs. "Don't know," is all he says. Then I see him frowning and looking at a fork that's lying across my plate. He's concentrating on it. Maybe to see if he can pick it up? Nothing's happening, though.

"Perhaps you must have to desperately want something," Teal'c suggests, equally gently. It's not like we're treading on eggshells around him as such, we just don't want to alarm him or make him retreat back into his own, er, shell.

He shrugs again. "Perhaps." Then he looks at me apologetically. "Perhaps you just missed the moment between me reaching out for the gun and actually picking it up? Maybe you were distracted for a fraction of a second?"

"Maybe," I say, but I know that I was staring at him the whole time. "Maybe I blinked and missed it."

We're running with that for the moment. Possibly when he's not so tired or upset, he'll be more inclined to try again.

What Sam said to me has gotten me thinking. What if I can do stuff like that? We know it's possible. Cassie played chess using the power of her mind to move the pieces, after all. It's happened before so it can happen again. I'm not sure if that thought reassures me or scares me more.

"So," Jack says as he climbs into bed next to me. I notice that he's hopeful to have sex but not counting on it. I feel very guilty as I haven't exactly been forthcoming on that subject recently. I'll have to do something about it.


"Did you really pick up that gun with your hand or do you think you thought it to you?"

"I honestly do not know, Jack. If I did, I'd tell you. You know that, don't you?"

"Sure I do." He stops and thinks. "You think it's at least possible? That now your nanocytes got their power boosted that you're going to be able to do extra-special things?"

"I can already forecast the weather," I say with a grin.

He prods my arm then leans over and kisses me. I kiss him back, trying to tell him that I won't say 'no' tonight.

"So, not going to be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound?" he teases. "No X-ray vision? No Superman superpowers?"

I kiss him again, if only in an attempt to stop him fucking around and get him to start fucking around. I give it some gas and then find myself flat on my back as he lays across me and gets with the programme. By the time we break the kiss, I'm gasping for air.

"Wow," he drawls. "Can feel the electricity between us. It's practically sparking." Then he gets one of his weird-shit thoughts. "I wonder if the gals could measure the sparkage? Ya know, see if they can generate a different sort of power."

I start to laugh as he waggles his eyebrows in what he hopes is a suggestive manner. Then I surprise the hell out of him by sitting bolt upright.

"Daniel? What the hell did I say now?"

" d.d.did it," I stammer back at him.

"Did what?!"

"What I was trying to remember. What I'd missed. It was a different sort of power. Don't you see?"

He looks at me in total bewilderment.

"Uh, no? Give me a clue here, will ya buddy? I know I'm not dumb, but your brain goes places other mere mortals don't know exist."

I wave my hand at him to let him know that I need a moment to get my thoughts in order. When I think I've done it, I say, "Go through the events that happened to us when we were slimed. Power-wise, that is."

"Still not getting you, pal."

"Okay, okay... Um, the goo moved at a steady rate. About twenty yards every two hours. When it was doing its normal movement, the things that it had passed over evolved, right?"

"Yeah," he replies, obviously thinking that I'm going to knock sex on the head again tonight.

"Then, when it 'discovered' us, it changed its pattern. But, even when it came after us, it did not make the other things evolve each time it moved. So, there must have been something in the power source that the ladies found which generated the boost in the nanocytes once every two hours. It must have gone off after we got slimed."

"Okay, I'm with you. So what do you mean about a different source of power?"

"I'm getting there. Remember when Hecate attacked me and I ended up at the Tok'ra's place."

He scowls, remembering also the events surrounding that. I'll get him past that in a minute but this needs to be said.

"Nothing happened to me then. I got better, but there was no increase in ability."

All of a sudden the light has gone on.

"But it did when you went into the sarcophagus," he says thoughtfully.

"Exactly! They were different sources of power. This means that it takes a specific type of power - perhaps the sort of source that they use, whether it's naquada or whatever - to activate the nanocytes."

"So this means what, exactly?"

He's not going to like this. He really isn't going to like this.

We have all been summoned to the kitchen, MIB as well. None of us are happy about this, it would seem. It is my guess only, but most couples, excluding O'Neill and Daniel, were... disturbed at the time of the summons. However, Daniel is looking both excited, as if he has made a great discovery, and worried, as if the discovery has distressed him.

"So, what's so urgent that we've all been called back here?" John demands.

Daniel starts to explain about the power sources, and how the sarcophagus and not the Tok'ra's healing machine boosted the nanocytes.

"That's all fine," John breaks in, "but what's it mean?"

"Something profoundly disturbing," Daniel mutters. "Think about it. If only one type of power can do this..."

"Then they were both probably designed by the same people," Samantha interrupts.

He nods, not a little sadly.

"We don't know all the reasons behind the break-up of the Alliance," he states. "What if, and I know I'm just going on a whole heap of conjecture here, but what if the Furlings invented the sarcophagus?"

"Then they, too, may well have become evil," I say.

This time his nod is sharper, his face sadder.

"I don't think they'd have been aware of the implications," DJ says. "It doesn't seem to be in their nature to be evil. Okay, what little we've learned of them probably only gives us a tiny insight into their natures, but the whole 'ship without weapons' thing, and even the evolutionary slime would indicate peaceful but curious people."

"Remember that diary entry about the scientist that got slimed?" Daniel suddenly says.

"What entry was that, Daniel?" Kar Shel asks.

"Oh, of course, you guys weren't there when we read it out. It said that he was becoming arrogant, his apparently already bad manners were getting worse. If he got slimed and was near the source of the power, then he would have evolved to whatever the evolutionary maximum was ever going to be for a Furling, but he was also in regular contact with the power.

"We know that repeated exposure to a sarcophagus takes away any inherent goodness and leaves only the evil behind. Perhaps that's why the place was abandoned? They saw what it did to him and gave it up as a bad idea?"

"So why would they have gone on to use the power to create the sarcophagus?" Frankie asks.

"Scientific curiosity?" he shrugs. "Perhaps later on, maybe hundreds of years later, the 'blueprints' to the power source and some of the notes were found. Those that told of the generation of the nanocytes. Maybe someone thought that if the power could be used to regenerate cells, it could be turned into a good healing device, like the one that the Tok'ra have.

"There is an almost completely conceited belief that science or technology isn't bad, it's what you do with it that makes it good or bad. For example, take the gun. In and of itself, it's harmless. When it's sitting on a shelf, or locked away in a box..."

He stops, his face drops and we understand why. He does not wish to bring up painful memories for either O'Neill. Before he continues, he pushes the heels of his hands into his eyeballs as if trying to stave off a headache.

"But," he continues more quietly. "Let a maniac pick one up, let him loose in a shopping mall, for example..." He shakes his head sadly. "It happens," he finishes with a shrug. "The point is, the gun, the technology didn't do it."

Now he stands up and paces around.

"The Furlings may well have believed that in the right circumstances, the power source could do good. What they didn't understand that it wasn't the evolution that turned Bradnig, or whatever his name was, into the egotistical creature he seemed to be becoming, it was the power source itself.

"We noticed that the scientists' other entries, in further documents, were becoming more strained, as if making the notes was becoming tedious. That's the sort of reaction you get from someone who thinks he's better than others."

"But why didn't they notice that they were all acting like that?" Jack asks.

"Because they were all acting like that."

"What about when they went home?" DJ puts in. "Who's to say someone wouldn't have noticed then?"

"Who's to say they went home?" Daniel replies quickly. "For all we know, one of them could have turned on the others."

"That's speculation," Samantha states.

"Of course. It's all speculation. But we need to find out. We need a way to look at the power sources of both the machine from the Furling's planet and a sarcophagus."

"Trouble is, we're right out of sarcs," O'Neill says. "Can't see us popping back to Earth and finding one in Wal-Mart somehow."

I have an idea. "I know where there is one."

"Oh?" Daniel looks up at me, surprised and not a little afraid.

"Hades' old homeworld. There was one in one of the quarters. Perhaps it was there for Alecto, ready to be transported to her ship along with the larvae."

He nods thoughtfully.

"So how are we going to check without us getting hurt?"

"I think that's where we come in," John sighs.

"Tomorrow," O'Neill orders. "Go back to bed. Now we know, there's no rush." We all agree with him and return to our rooms.

"One of these days, you're gonna stop thinking," I say to Daniel as we get into bed. Again.

He looks at me and smirks.

"Hey, don't blame me this time. It was your chatting that set my thoughts off. I was quite happily having the shit kissed out of me. You were the one who was gloating about your own superpowers."

"Me? Gloating?"

"Yeah. You. Gloating."

"I don't gloat."

"You do. As often as possible." He looks at me, grins, wriggles out of his shorts and flips over onto his stomach. Then he turns his head and says, "Why don't you get down here and prove how good you are?"

Oh, decisions, decisions...

Okay, let's start here. Right at the back of his neck, let's kiss along from his spine, up to just under his ear... oh yeah, that's doing it. He's trying not to squirm, but he's smiling broadly. I think he's going to do his silent thing, though. No sound, apart from the odd gasp and near inaudible moan. I love it when he does this - he loves it, too. It means that he's desperately trying to only concentrate on what I'm doing. Nothing else is in his head. To be frank, he needs to do that.

So, let's up the ante a little. Trail some more kisses back to his spine, over to his other ear, and back to the middle once again. He's gonna think that I'll go straight down his spine, but I'm going to detour. Across to one shoulder blade, then back over to the other. For a little variety I break away from his back and kiss down his arms. He's gotten them twisted towards me so that the insides of his elbows and wrists (major hot spots) are accessible.

A little inward gasp of air through his teeth as I lick and kiss those places tells me I'm doing this just right.

I'm not laying on top of him. I'm holding myself up with my arms, kneeling across him lower down. From his vantage point he can see my biceps and I know that turns him on faster than the speed of light.

Because he's not making much in the way of noise, I'm not saying anything. I grab the cloth from the side table and see the filthiest leer on his face in an absolute age. I am so going to enjoy this.

I take a pillow, put the cloth on it, then kneel up. Without words, he raises his ass up and I slide it underneath him. Then he moves back down so that his now rock-hard cock rests on it and leaves me with a lovely view. This time I'm going to start down the bottom and work my way up - to his bottom - which is kind of odd if you think about it.

He's not thinking about anything, except, perhaps, fighting the urge to tell me to get on with it already. Nope, I'm not going to. I'm gonna kiss my way up his legs - the insides of his ankles and the backs of his knees are as much hot spots as are his wrists and elbows. I can see he's working hard on holding himself rigid so that he doesn't kick out at me.

I notice a few bruises that have developed from where he went flying earlier - without the aid of any wings - and take my time to very gently kiss them better. Finally, I get where he wanted me all along. Via the insides of his thighs, I kiss my way up, push his legs as far apart as I can get them and then lick a stripe from his balls to his ass.

Knew that would get him to make a sound. A loud gasp, followed by a filthy moan and completed by a sound of satisfaction 'cause he knows I'm not going to hang around anymore.

I - loudly - pick up the lube and flick open the cap. Then I cover myself up with it. Do I bother to do it to him? Normally I'd seriously consider not bothering, because he can take whatever I give him. But it's been a while, so I'll do it. And any additional pleasure he gets out of me fingering him, or that I get out of seeing his face take on a look of serene peace, is just a bonus we can both live with.

Time to stop procrastinating. He's never going to be more relaxed than he is now, at least not while he's still breathing, but let's not go there, shall we? Let's go here instead. Inside. Oh yeah. Definitely worth the wait. His face is the most peaceful I've ever seen it, I think. He's blissed out. Totally blissed out.

It takes all of my considerable self-control to build up my speed and pressure slowly. He's gritting his teeth, but not because of pain. It's to stop himself from crying out with the pleasure. I can live with that too.

Now we're getting there. I can sense that he's not going to hold out much longer, and frankly, neither am I. I finally get a more audible moan from him and it spurs me on. No need for the ubiquitous commands of 'harder' and 'faster', I'm going as hard and fast as I can and he knows it. Moments later, and I feel him tighten, his whole body spasms as he comes without me ever once touching his cock.

He takes me with him and I feel like I'm being sucked into a black hole. Don't want to escape from this one, that's for sure.





Damn, have to move so he can breathe. The upside is that if he's breathing, we can do this all over again.