Summary: What better after months away than to go home for a nice holiday?
Usual thanks to Joy for the beta - and now to Fabi for joining in the fray (voluntarily, honest) and making this readable. Thanks ladies!
Okay, that's it, we need a break. We've spoken to Jake and he's headed off to Earth to organise things. We're just waiting for the nod. Daniel's happy, Sam's smiling, even Teal'c grinned. Will wonders never cease?
Apparently they will.
I know that look. It's the look that tells me that whatever Daniel's suddenly got on his mind, I am (and probably everyone else is) not going to like it.
"Out with it, Daniel."
"Whatever the bad news is; spill, talk, lay it on the table..."
"Ack! Enough already. I knew giving you a thesaurus for Christmas was a bad idea."
"So, what's up?"
He cocks his head a little to one side - that means he's talking to the others. I doubt he knows that he's doing it, but it's a little habit he's developed. It's cute. Needless to say, I'm keeping that particular observation to myself. Verbal emasculation I can take; actual emasculation however...
"Okay, they're coming down. We'd better all be together for this."
"Why do I get the feeling that I'm not going to like this, Daniel?"
"Um, because you're not going to like it?"
He does that blinky thing, the one that says 'Don't hit me. I'm six years old, wear glasses and weigh nothing, so I'm no threat to anyone'. That's something he knows he does, I'm sure. He is, after all, a coupl'a years shy of forty, no longer wears glasses, is six foot tall and built like a brick shithouse.
He is a threat to my ass. I know that for a fact.
Here they come, Pinky and Perky, looking about as curious as I feel. In other words, we know we need to know but we also know we don't want to know - ya know?
"You going to tell us now?" I ask.
He sits down and sighs, then shrugs. "Sorry, guys. We can't go home."
"WHAT? Something come up?" I yell.
"Not really. We can't go home - ever."
"Why not?" Sam asks, horrified at the thought.
He pulls out the picture of the other SG-1, er, MIB.
"Yeah? What have the 'droids got to do with this, Daniel? I mean, R2D2 and C3PO look like us, but they're not us."
"Uh, Jack, they don't look like us," he points out, not even telling me off for using my nicknames for our counterparts. "I mean, they look like we used to look. The way Mark remembers Sam, the way your mother and family remember you. If they see you looking so young..."
"Yeah, well, we'll tell Mom I moved to California or something," I mutter.
"Mark already lives there," Sam grumps, then she drops her head in her hands.
"Sorry, guys," he sighs. "I know you were looking forward to meeting up with your families."
Aw shit. Something else has struck me. In all the talk of the last few days as we planned for this trip, Sam and I have been chattering non-stop about family. We both forgot that Daniel doesn't have one. It's not a problem for Teal'c. He has one and he sees Rya'c as often as he can, so I don't feel like we're leaving him out of anything. I was going to take Daniel home with me and finally introduce him to Mom. He was looking forward to it. Before we left, they'd spoken on the phone a lot and got on well.
I put my hand on his and squeeze it tightly.
"It's not your fault, Daniel," I tell him. "Just as well you thought of it, really. We've all grown so used to seeing each other like this that we forgot that we'd changed, I guess. After all, when we look at our doubles, we're seeing them as we were used to seeing ourselves. It probably didn't dawn on us that we're so different now."
"What is it you wish to do now, O'Neill?" Teal'c asks, his voice calm but a little sad.
"I still want to go back to Earth," I tell him.
"I guess we could always go anywhere we wanted to," Sam suggests. "All we need are some IDs."
"And access to our money," Daniel adds.
"Hang on," I tell them. "I have an idea."
I feel like shit. It's not Daniel's fault, not at all. We should have all realised the trip wasn't possible, but it was my idea to start with. Damn it. Now Daniel feels awful for pointing out what we all should have known. Only Teal'c hasn't got younger, but it's not him that's got to hide, so to speak.
Jack's wandered off, back up to the surface, I think. He has something on his mind but he's not letting us know what it is. Better let him do whatever it is, it'll make him happy.
Teal'c made sure I was okay, then he went off to our cabin. He needs to meditate. Poor guy doesn't do it as often as he should, I think, as he snuggles with me at night instead. He says he can enter kel'no'reem lying down, but I know he doesn't get as comfortable as he does when he sits. That leaves me and my bro.
"I'm sorry, Sam," he starts. "I know how much you wanted to see your family."
His voice is quiet and sad. I'm sure he's guessing how I feel. Being told you'll never see your family ever again is something that he's all too familiar with.
"Hey, it's okay sweetie, it's not your fault. Jack was right, it's better you pointed this out now than we make the mistake."
"I know, I just feel lousy, that's all."
"Feel like a walk up top? The weather's okay."
"Yeah, sure, why not?"
We get up and head silently to the rings, then when we appear on the surface, we do something we haven't done for a while. He takes hold of my hand and we walk together.
"Hmm," I say. "I've missed this."
"Me, too. We should make time to be together, you know."
"You're right. We should. We will."
He answers that by letting go of my hand and wrapping his arm around my back. I put mine around his and we stroll down to the beach, not talking, just enjoying the walk.
We arrive at a rock and he lets go of me and sits on it, patting it by his side to get me to sit down. As soon as I'm down, he puts his arm around me again so I snuggle up and rest my head on his shoulder. I've really missed this. I don't know why we don't do more of it. It's not as if either Teal'c or Jack would object. They both know how close Daniel and I are and they're happy for us to be like it.
"So, angel," he says. "Where should we go if we do go ho... er, back to Earth?"
I tactfully ignore him not saying 'home' and answer. "A lot depends on whether we get ID and what sort," I say. "I mean, if we just get ID for the US, then we'll have to stay there. But if there can be passports made..."
"The world's our oyster," he says with a grin. "Should we fly in Mia to whichever country we choose or more conventionally?"
"Hmm. Tough one. We couldn't land in a city," I point out. "Cloak or no cloak, people might bump into it. So, if we want to go somewhere like Paris or Rome or wherever, then we'd have to fly conventionally. Or land Mia outside the city and then get in on foot or bus or something?" I offer.
"Nah, not safe." He shakes his head as he speaks. "We'd have to know where we could land her safely - I mean, we could put her down in a meadow, only for a farmer to decide to plough it that day."
I nod, seeing his point. "I've got a horrible feeling that Jack's going to be a happy man," I groan.
"Yeah, the cabin," I sigh. We could safely land there and then head off into other parts if we can drag Jack from the pond.
It's winter at home. Winter + cabin = one frozen Daniel, one pissed off Jack (no fishing because the pond is covered in ice about a foot thick), one moaning Sam because we can't get out to get enough chocolate and one Teal'c who suddenly regresses to the age of eight and launches covert attacks with snowballs.
I'll never forgive Jack for introducing him to snowball fights. At first, Teal'c couldn't see the point, until Jack told him it was a covert ops military training exercise for kids. After that, the mountain used to go on alert at the first sign of a snowflake.
The SGC, home to many highly-trained and experienced soldiers, suddenly became a hunting ground full of nervy wimps. Whenever people would go up top for exercise, they'd be creeping around, watching their backs, only going out in groups and generally jumping out of their skins every time a rustle in the bushes could be heard.
One year, he took out an entire marine team with twenty snowballs, a 'rope' made from scarves and four carrots. Don't ask, you don't want to know. Suffice it to say, he won the 'Best Snowman' award that year. The four he made were very realistic.
Daniel? You there?
Where else would I be?
Ah, the joys of a Jack/Daniel conversation. Who needs to make sense when you can confuse the crap out of each other?
Yeah, well, get your butt back to the tunnel. Sam with you?
Bring her too. I've got something to tell you.
Just get your ass down here, Jackson, and you'll find out.
Ooh, temper, temper. I shouldn't complain, though, the poor guy's never going to see his family again, is he?
"Come on, Sam, he's back. Wants to meet up."
"Teal'c's meditating. I hope he hasn't disturbed him."
"Probably has, but then Teal'c would rather be woken up than miss out on anything."
She nods and we get up and head back to the tunnel. I wonder what's been going on in that twisted mind of his?
I have just had a most disturbing few minutes. Finally in deep kel'no'reem, my mind painted the pictures that it always does. I saw those that I love and have loved, at peace, happily going about their daily tasks or playing. I saw Rya'c on his first hunting trip; Bratac teaching me; my parents, when I was a small child, playing games with me.
Then I saw Draya'uc. Much as I love Samantha, Draya'uc was my first wife and as mother of my son she will always have a special place in my heart. Samantha knows and accepts this. I saw my wife as she was on our wedding night, dressed in a fine robe as befitted the wife of one of Apophis' high Jaffa. I was not his First Prime at that point, but I was right-hand-man, as O'Neill would say, to Bratac, who was the First Prime at that time.
She was veiled, her beautiful brown eyes the only feature of her pretty face that I could see. She moved slowly towards me, shyly as a virgin would, then she dropped her veil.
Seeing O'Neill's face at this point was most perturbing. It was apparently distressing to him to find himself dressed in Draya'uc's robes and seeing me naked and lying on my marital bed. It took us both a few moments to realise that he had tried to connect to my mind, not knowing that I was meditating.
I doubt very much that I shall be interrupted like that again. I also doubt very much that I will ever again take comfort in reliving the scene of my wedding night. Such is the stuff of nightmares.
I have arrived at the tunnel and O'Neill is in the meeting place, coffee in hand. His face is white and he is very jumpy. I do not feel bad about this, though. In fact, I feel most amused now. However, I shall keep that to myself.
"O'Neill. Why have you summoned us?"
"Ah, sit down, will ya? I want to run an idea past you all."
We all sit and wait. He looks a little nervous.
"Jack? What's up?" Daniel is encouraging him. Let us hope that he is successful. I would hate to have had my kel'no'reem disturbed for nothing.
"Right. I came up with a plan. I contacted the Tok'ra, who in turn contacted Jacob who's on Earth. He came here for a few minutes to discuss my idea, and now he's gone back to Earth to arrange things with George."
"And?" Samantha pushes.
"And, if all goes according to plan, we're still going back to Earth and visiting our families except we won't be seeing them."
"Huh?" Both Daniel and Samantha are confused. As am I. However, I would not admit to that.
"Uh, well, how about MIB come with?" O'Neill suggests. "They can go visit, make sure they take video cameras so they can get lots of pictures and stuff, so at least we can see them. I guess that as they've already had their lives taken away from them in one way, it goes a little way to making up to them. What do you think?"
"Where will we go?" Daniel asks.
"Minnesota?" Samantha suggests.
"You must admit, it's safe," O'Neill says.
"What will we do? Just wait for them?"
"Nothing says we can't rent a car and go places," O'Neill answers her.
"How? If we use our IDs, the NID will know where we are." Daniel has a good point.
"That's what Jake's organising now. You know that Janet and George have power of attorney over our money and stuff?"
"Well, George is setting up fake drivers' licences, bank accounts, you name it. Jake said something about 'someone George trusts in the Pentagon' arranging things."
Daniel is blushing and not looking at O'Neill.
"Daniel, it's okay. I know he's your friend, for cryin' out loud. I'm way past being jealous."
Daniel nods. I do not believe that he wishes to say any more.
"Have you asked MIB if they want to come?" Samantha asks.
"Yeah. First thing I did. They're cool with the idea. Said if George can pull off the ID thing, then they'll go with it. Oh, I nearly forgot. We're going to have to have photos taken of us as we are. George will use what he has of us for MIB, but we'll need new ones. Jake's going to come here soon with a camera and he'll take the pics, then he'll go back to Earth.
"The Tok'ra are planning some mission with the SGC, some attack on one of Morrigan's strongholdings, so that's covering for him going back there all the time. Seems the snake has been more than forthcoming with information. She's even spilling about Baal's territories and stuff. Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to be saying anything about Anubis, but that's okay. The more we interfere with the System Lords, the less help he's gonna get."
"I wonder what Yu is up to?" Daniel mutters.
"Yu. He's bound to know of Morrigan's capture. Knowing him he's enjoying the joke, so to speak."
"You like him, don't you?" O'Neill asks.
Daniel shrugs his shoulders. "Insofar as I'll ever like a snake. He's one of the few with a sense of humour, that's for sure. I can't hate him, Jack. I want to, but I can't. The others, they're too easy to either hate or not have any feelings for, but he's actually likeable."
"You think you can trust him?"
"It would all depend on the circumstances. He didn't have to let us go from his teltac after he rescued us from the space station, did he? I do believe he would keep his word if he gave it. If you asked him to promise to do something, I think he would do it. He won't baulk at killing us if it's to his advantage though. But while it isn't to his advantage, I genuinely believe he's going to try to keep us alive and get a kick out of what we're doing. He understands the big picture in a way that other System Lords don't."
The alarm to the gate has gone off. Samantha set up two VCDs to monitor it, so she switches them on and the one at the gate acts as a camera, the one here as the view screen. It is Jacob. O'Neill speaks into his communicator.
"Hey, Jake. Come on down."
I'll be there in a minute, Jack.
Daniel has moved to put some more coffee on and Samantha has run off to find a comb.
Jake's arrived with the camera and instructions.
"Once I get these pictures back to Earth, it will take a day or so to get the IDs ready. Uh, have you got a sheet or something down here?"
"Why?" I'm confused.
"Somehow I don't think that Tok'ra-tunnel-blue is a good backdrop for an official photo," he answers dryly.
Damn. I'm so used to seeing these tunnels that I didn't even think of that. I'm slipping. Daniel's run off to get one from the room we have down here and Teal'c's helping me figure out a way to stick it up against the wall.
"This is not going to be easy, O'Neill."
"Don't I know it. It's not as if we can use nails or anything. Jake? You got any ideas?"
"How about we move up to one of the cabins? Surely that would be better?" Sam suggests.
We all look at each other and groan. Daniel, who's returned with the sheet, goes back to put it where it came from, muttering under his breath.
All five of use traipse up to Sam and Teal'c's cabin. It's the nearest one to the rings and is probably tidier than ours.
"What are you going to do when you get home?" Jake asks.
"Shop!" Sam answers.
"Is that it?"
"Well, we're missing a lot of things from home, Jake," I tell him. "Daniel wants to stock up on new books, that much is certain. I want to get more tools and things to make our lives a little more comfortable. Just bits and pieces that you don't know you're going to miss until you miss them."
"Fair enough," Jake shrugs. "Teal'c, what will you get?"
"I shall purchase some more DVDs," he intones. "Do you know if the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is out yet?"
The pics are done, Jacob's gone back to Earth. He said that we should pick up MIB then start to fly. It's going to take us about four days to get there, so the IDs will be ready by then.
Sam and Daniel have been making shopping lists. It's ridiculous, but for the first time, we've had the chance to really plan this and so we've been making lists of items that will make things here a bit more comfortable. It's not that we're not happy with the way things are at the moment, it's just that we're human, creatures of habit and with a desire to make the best of things.
Clothes are high on the list of priority, especially underwear. It seems that in a lot of cultures we meet up with and trade with, underwear is a foreign concept. Teal'c habitually goes commando - always did back at the SGC, so it's not as much of a problem for him, but the rest of us tend to be more relaxed when our various bits and pieces are tucked away. Everything we trade for with the SGC via the Land of Light has to be carefully done, though. Too many Earth-specific items could look a little suspicious.
The T man has popped over to MIB's place to retrieve them. (DJ wanted to rename the pleasure palace, 'gedwolgod heall', or 'false god hall' in Old English. John responded by calling it 'domus et machina'. Kar Shel told them to shut up. It's still called the palace.) They should be back soon.
In the meantime, we've been stocking up on food and stuff for the trip. We've made the beds as comfortable as we can - did that a while back. I can't be bothered to sleep on the floor when I don't have to. So, the flight back should be okay.
"We ready, kids?" I call as I board Mia.
"Yeah, should be ready to go the minute they turn up, Jack," Daniel calls back.
"Great. I'll make some coffee. You can show me the shopping list when it's done."
I get out the mugs and coffee and start to make the drink. We have a pseudo galley on board. Basically we had to make it. Teltacs don't tend to come with many creature comforts. The snakes seem to eat dried rations or something. Anyway, on the basic principle that I live with two academics and I like my eardrums, I collared a passing Tok'ra and we managed to cobble together a simple cooking hob so that we could have hot food and a constant supply of coffee.
We have plenty of water on board, there's a really efficient recycling system. Quite what it's recycling I don't want to know, but the water tastes okay. There are times that ignorance is bliss.
There. All done. I call the others and they come in together, giggling. That used to worry me. Still does from time to time. Before Daniel and I got together, I'd wonder if they'd been interrupted while doing something they shouldn't have, if you get my drift. They always denied it, and since then Daniel's told me that no, nothing ever happened.
Since he and I got together I've discovered on too many occasions that their giggling together can mean that they're planning something, usually at my expense. But this time I can tell from the looks on their faces. They want to go home and that's making them a bit silly. I know that Sam's sad about never seeing Mark and his family again, though, just as I am about never seeing mine.
Mom's not getting any younger, and the thought that the hasty phone call I made before we left Earth would be the last time I'd speak to her, well it hurts, ya know? I'm just glad that John will be able to take my place. He's more than aware of the need to keep the robot side of things quiet. We had a word before I mentioned the possibility of the trip to anyone else and he understands why we should all do this.
Making that call to my mother was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I had to tell her that my life was in danger, as was Daniel's; that we had to go underground and maybe we'd never be able to come back out. I couldn't give her details, telling her that the less she knew the better. She was silent for a moment, then she told me that she loved me and that she wanted Daniel and me to stay safe - she knew about us and was happy that I had someone that could love me the way I love him.
I was glad Daniel was there for me when I made that call. I had to do it from a public phone. Somehow, he got me to the car before I broke down and cried. I'm not so sure he gets a close parent/child bond totally. He almost does, he certainly understands that the love can be overwhelming at times, but he can barely remember his own parents, even if he does just about remember the connection with them. The trauma of losing them messed with his head for a long time and I know that he took an aeon to learn how to connect with others again.
He's sitting at the table now and staring into my eyes. I don't need the telepathy to know that he's telegraphing every single ounce of love he feels for me right now. It's as clear as day.
"So, what are we going to get?" Jack asks, squeezing his eyes shut as if he's trying not to see something. He looks a little upset to tell the truth.
None of us are mentioning the fact that we're not going home home, we're just making the best of things. Instead we're pretending that everything is going to be just fine.
"Okay, Jack," Daniel says. "On a practical level, we're going to get some more stuff for the kitchen. Uh, some decent saucepans and the like. Um, mugs. Definitely mugs."
Yeah, we've broken a few of those, so that'll be a good thing.
"More bedding. Quilts, sheets, some new pillows and the like."
"Sounds good to me," Jack replies with a grin. I think that man was a cat in a previous life. He loves his comfort.
"What else?" he prompts.
"Well, I figured we could hit a toy shop, you know, get some games and things. I mean, we have a few games here but we could do with some new ones."
"Good idea. Even though the rainy season seems to be passing, it's still not always good enough weather to be up outside in," Jack agrees.
"Yeah. As you told Jacob, we'll get more tools and things, stuff that you're more comfortable with working with," Daniel offers us both. We nod at that. Tok'ra tools are great, but there are times you'd kill for a mallet. Jack's looking pleased at the chance to visit a home improvement shop. I think that 'Tool Time' has a double meaning in the O'Neill-Jackson home though.
"I was wondering if we could get you a foot-operated potter's wheel?" Daniel suggests to Jack.
"Well, we're bound to be able to find some sort of clay deposit on either of the Earth-like planets in our system. It'll save us having to try to replace mugs and plates so often," he adds with a shrug.
I know what this is. Jack has a few things to do when we're on the downtime between missions, but not as many as us. Daniel wants to get a lot of books, so he'll have months' worth of reading when he comes back. If Jack has a more productive hobby, maybe it will keep him occupied. Jack does do woodwork, but that's mainly outside. Seeing as we're likely to be on Remoc for the rest of our lives, there are a lot of winters ahead of us. The more hobbies we have, the more likely we are to stay sane.
"Okay," Jack answers. I'm guessing he sees the idea for what it is. "We could get some plant seeds as well, and some books on gardening. I'm sure that we could grow some of the Earth veg that we love."
"What about cross-contamination?" I say. "If pollen gets from an Earth plant to a Remoc plant, there's no telling what damage could occur. And wouldn't we need to bring insects with us to pollinate them?"
"I was thinking 'greenhouse'," he announces with hands open. "Think about it. We have plenty of wood to build a greenhouse with. If we bring back some rolls of clear, thick plastic, the sort you can make temporary greenhouses with, we could plant some things without that risk - do the pollination by hand, too.
"And seein' as we're on an island, if we do fuck up the ecosystem, it's only likely to be a very localised thing. Don't forget, the Mayans seem to have Earth plants. As best we can tell, they have chillies, cocoa plants, coffee plants, potatoes... their ecosystem seems to be okay."
"Their ecosystem may well have been totally different before they arrived," Daniel argues. Then he thinks for a moment. "I don't see why we can't build, though," he concedes. "Yeah, gardening would be good. If nothing else we could plant herbs and spices that we miss. Don't know about you but I'd kill for onions and garlic."
We agree with that, then as we're about to continue with the list, there's a noise at the door. It's Teal'c and MIB. It's time to go.
It's been three days since we left Remoc. As we get closer to Earth, we're both more excited and more nervous than before. Each passing light-year takes us closer to our goal, but me further away from home. I'm not really sure when I started to think of Remoc as home; unlike the others I think it was near the beginning. Jack and Sam are still very much Tauri. Teal'c considers that wherever Rya'c is to be home, I think, so he's not really settled on Remoc.
As for me, I guess living on Abydos primed me for the prospect of dying somewhere else other than Earth, at least in a 'retired' situation. With Shau're, it was easy to imagine living to a ripe old age with her at my side; she growing old gracefully and beautifully, me getting cranky and crotchety, with a long grey beard and long grey hair, rebuking the young ones for not having the same respect we'd had for our elders, all the while being indulged by my darling wife who would scold her 'Dan'yel' for being a grump and would laugh with delight at the antics of our many grandchildren.
That sort of image was denied me when Jack and I got together. Living in constant fear of discovery, we couldn't even begin to plan a future. It wasn't until we got to Remoc did I allow myself to think in terms of growing old at all, let alone with the man that I love.
My heart's breaking for him now though. I know how much he loves his family, how hard it was for him to leave in the first place. If it hadn't been necessary, if the missions we go on hadn't been so important, if the Pentagon had been more willing to listen to reason and the NID hadn't existed, we'd still be there, playing our game of 'no, we're only best friends'. Jack's sense of duty and loyalty is immense. He's one of the most honourable people I have ever met in my life. Two of the others are my other teammates.
I'm afraid, I think. Afraid that Jack's going to get upset when John is the one to meet 'their' mother. Afraid that Jack's going to say 'enough is enough' and want to hide out in Minnesota for the rest of his life. If that's what he wants, that's what we'll do. I won't leave him. But I am afraid that if that happens, all the purpose in our life - at least the purpose outside that of our partnership - will be gone.
Stop it, Daniel, you're doing it again. This is what happens when I stare out of the window at hyperspace. My mind wanders and takes me places I don't always want to go.
"Hey, DJ. You okay?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing. You've got the look."
"Yeah. The one that says your mind is elsewhere. What are you thinking about?"
"Nothing really," I tell him. He raises one eyebrow. Guess I can't lie to myself, can I? "Oh, just thinking that the others may have a hard time when we get home."
"Because we are the ones going visiting?"
"Yes and no," I agree. Sort of. "It's got nothing to do with you, per se, it's just it's not them. And never will be."
He looks at me directly, saying nothing but nodding.
"I guess I'm just sad for Jack and Sam, that's all. It's better that you guys are around. At least Mary will see her son again, she'll finally get to meet you in the flesh, so to speak. That's good. It'll be good for Mark and his family too. You must promise to give us as many details as you're asked for, though."
"Of course. Goes without saying," he answers with a shrug. He's also leaving the caveat unspoken. That they're not to mention anything that hasn't been asked for.
We let the silence pass for a while, then I say, "I hear that Frankie's done her magic."
His face breaks out into a wicked grin. "You could say that."
"Oh, they're good. They're very, very good."
"Glad to hear it. Uh, if you don't mind me asking a personal question?"
"After your previous personal involvement, I think you're entitled," he shrugs.
"Okay. What are you using as lube? I mean, we get the deliveries..."
"Ah, I see. Well, you know that liquid that we have inside us anyway, the stuff that Erlick synthesised?"
"That. It's perfect. The viscosity is like that of lube. It's watery, but not water, if you see what I mean. It works a treat."
"Do you get the same sensations?"
"Not quite. One thing that Harlan didn't supply us with is a prostate."
"Yeah, something like that. But Frankie opened us up and made a certain point inside us more, er, sensitive to touch."
"It works the same?"
"Very similar. Though the first time it was touched - and it was Frankie touching it while she was working on it - it was so sensitive I nearly shot through the roof of the palace."
I burst out laughing, remembering all too well the first time my happy button got touched. It took my boyfriend about half an hour to peel me off the ceiling. DJ's remembering that too. "Yeah, it was like that, but on acid."
I never thought that I'd get on so well with another me. I've never met another me in an alternate reality, so I can't compare human with human. I only met my original android counterpart for a short while, so then we had too short a time to get used to the idea, let alone get to know each other.
DJ and I have known each other for just a few weeks, but it doesn't matter. He's already like a brother to me. We never have to explain things, are comfortable with the silences that fall... it's cool. I'm wondering if it was because of the specific gap between him being created and us meeting. With the first androids, it was just a matter of hours between the two. It was a couple of months between DJ and me meeting. In that time, he and the others had grown used to the fact that they were, in fact, robots. That triggered a small personality shift in them all.
However, the time wasn't as great as that between our original counterparts being created and Jack and the others meeting them on Juna. They were similar, but distinctly different in some ways. Or, as Jack put it, Super SG-1. Everything that we were, only blown out of all proportion. MIB remember that time, remember the other androids. They seem to be making every effort to avoid being like them. That's helping a lot.
Jack and John get on really well. We all know that if push came to shove, each man would protect his own team first and the other team second. There is no question about that, and none of us mind. We accept and understand that.
Sam and Frankie are like DJ and me. We've grown accustomed to having a mechanical sibling around and we quite enjoy it.
Teal'c and Kar Shel are the ones that surprise me. Teal'c couldn't accept that an alternate reality of the universe had as much right to exist as his own. To him, only his reality was of any consequence. I half-expected him to dismiss Kar Shel offhand. It was only when Sam told me about Teal'c and his original counterpart and their fight against Cronus did I begin to understand.
Not being there for that 'battle', I had to get by on the small pieces of information coming my way. All three were upset, and none of them were initially forthcoming. In fact, it's only since MIB's come into existence have I found out any details beyond the most significant.
"Daniel? Time for bed." It's Jack calling. "Come on, we'll be there in the morning."
Okay, time to go. I look at DJ and he grins.
"Go on, we'll stay up and make sure we get there in one piece. You do trust us, don't you?"
I think for a moment before answering. "Funnily enough, DJ," I say, "the slightest thought of not trusting you hadn't even entered my head. Why shouldn't I trust you? You're me, after all."
He shrugs and grins again. "Go on. Keep the old man warm."
"Shall do. Night, DJ."
"Yeah, night, Daniel."
We have arrived in orbit around Earth. Even cloaked, entering the atmosphere without being seen will be difficult, but should be possible. I am descending over the Pacific ocean. We will first go to a rendezvous point near San Diego. There we shall meet up with Jacob. He will join Frankie and Kar Shel for a few days.
The peltac is full as we all observe the sight in front of us. O'Neill and Samantha are quite overwhelmed by the view. Daniel is quiet but I do not think that he feels as much of an affinity with his home planet as do the others. The androids are reflecting our emotions.
"Take her down, Teal'c," O'Neill orders. "It's time to go home."
Using navigational skills honed by years of single-seater piloting, O'Neill was able to direct us to the rendezvous point without much difficulty and with only one wrong turn. His excuse was that he wasn't a Navy pilot and tended to fly over land and not over the sea.
We have arrived at a remote location outside of the city. There is a car parked on the edge of a strip of dusty ground. We must hope that it is Jacob awaiting our arrival.
The ship has landed. Before we open the doors, O'Neill uses the Tok'ra communicator and confirms that Jacob is indeed in the vehicle.
The door is opened and Frankie and Kar Shel pick up their bags. We all accompany them to the doorway, waiting inside the ship for Jacob to come to us. There is someone with him.
O'Neill's voice rings out across the empty space. We had no idea that Hammond would meet with us. This is indeed good news.
"Back inside, guys," O'Neill instructs. "We want to chat with George first, eh?"
With smiles on everyone's faces, we retreat to the peltac and await them. As Hammond steps inside, he is greeted warmly by O'Neill, and then by the others. He looks at me and we both smile and nod.
"It sure is good to see you all," Hammond says. "Damn, Jake wasn't kidding when he said you were looking a lot younger. Those pictures don't really do you justice."
"How're things, George?" O'Neill asks, ushering him to a seat.
"Fine. Well, as good as they ever get at the SGC these days." He lets out a big sigh. "Look, my intention was to meet up with you all to discuss this, but Jacob is on a tight schedule. Why doesn't he accompany, er..."
"Frankie and Kar Shel," John informs him. "We're using nicknames."
Hammond nods. "Right. As I said, why don't you go and visit? I'm sure that the others will fill you in on all of the details when you meet up again?"
We agree that they will not miss out on anything, so they collect their fake IDs and credit cards from Hammond, say goodbye and leave with Jacob. We watch the car pull away, then I take the ship back up. We are flying to Chicago. O'Neill's mother returned there to live after his father died, settling near her other son and her daughter, who also live there. We will land the ship as near to the city as we can so that they can get transport to Mrs. O'Neill's home.
"So, George, what's going on?"
We are leaving O'Neill to do the talking. For some reason, it seems the right thing to do.
"The NID's not been as openly involved in the SGC as I feared they would be. There are still way too many visits for my liking, but they have only minimally interfered with the planning of the missions. The Pentagon is a pain in the ass, however. We are constantly being pushed to find offensive and defensive weaponry.
"Missions for trade - unless it's for elements we don't have - are more or less banned. Helping other planets rid themselves of the Goa'uld is not even on the agenda - we can barely get permission to launch humanitarian missions when we come upon the scene of a disaster! The only science they're interested in is military."
He looks at both Daniels and sighs in apology. They are looking angry.
"How is it working out?"
"As you'd think. We're losing our friends. The Land of Light has remained an ally, but mainly because of you and the need to trade. If it wasn't for the naquada on their planet, I doubt I'd be allowed to trade for anything with them. But the others, ones that have been friends in the past, they're drawing further and further away. If you wish to remain friends with some of them, I suggest you go visit and explain a few things to their head people."
He takes out a piece of paper. On it is a list of planetary co-ordinates.
"Here's a list of the ones that will need some diplomatic encouragement," he says with a shake of his head.
There is a muffled 'shit' from a number of us present. None of us is happy with this situation.
"I'm going to be retired before too long," Hammond announces when we settle again. "Not out of choice, I hasten to add. I am afraid that when it happens, you will no longer have the backup - however minimal it is - from the SGC. I have no idea who they'll want to replace me, but you can be sure that he won't have the choice but to take things further than I have. It's not good, people."
"This is going to be a disaster," O'Neill sighs. "What will you do when you retire?"
Hammond smiles. "I won't abandon you," he says. "I will continue to maintain my contact with Jacob. As old friends, he'll have the excuse to visit me at home. There, we'll continue to plan your missions, but you will have to work more closely with him in future. In fact, Jake and I came up with an idea which we've discussed with Thor. Basically, while the Tok'ra and Asgard will maintain diplomatic relations with the SGC, they will only plan missions with me. I can give them information from the SGC..."
"How?" Daniel puts in. "If you're retired..."
"Don't you worry about that, Daniel," he says with a smile. "I have contacts. I believe you have a friend at the Pentagon?"
"Paul," Daniel nods.
"Precisely. Shall we say that we have built up a public working relationship and friendship. To cover for a future friendship, he now stays with me and my family when he is at the SGC, instead of going to a motel. That way, he can visit with me when the time comes and not arouse suspicion. He detests the way the Pentagon is handling things and he wants in on the planning in a bigger way.
"He will continue to pass information to me and I will use that, sharing it with Thor and Jacob. Neither Thor nor Jacob will pass the information they get to their own ruling councils unless they feel it necessary. They both feel that their own people have agendas, not dissimilar to that of the Pentagon. It would seem that there's been a narrowing of opinions out there, especially after the inroads you've made. With the weakening of the System Lords lessening the grip of the Goa'uld on the galaxy, the bigger picture is being lost."
This is dire. Absolutely fucked up. What is the galaxy coming to?
"Don't these people recognise what is going on?" I say, knowing the answer before I even finish asking the question. Of course they don't.
George just shakes his head in exasperation, sympathising with me.
"Look, George, Anubis is getting stronger by the minute. If we don't finish taking out his power base, we're going to have a hard time taking him out. He is the biggest threat by far, making even Ra seem like a puppet."
"I know this," George agrees. "Trouble is, the Pentagon is taking the Kinsey line. They're even talking about shutting the SGC down as soon as they can get some sort of planetary defence system up and running. Burying the gate, just as he threatened to do back in the beginning."
"Oh for fuck's sake," Daniel mutters under his breath. "Is that prick still alive? Can't you get someone to bump the idiot off?"
I must admit, I never thought I'd hear that from Daniel. Not saying I don't agree with him...
George chuckles. "I'd pull the trigger myself," he says, "if I thought I'd stand a chance of actually getting him. It's just too damned tempting. There are days, though," he continues, "when burying the gate seems like a good idea."
"Anubis won't need the gate to launch an attack," John puts in, getting nods from the rest of us. "He can take out the planet from space without breaking a sweat. From what we've heard, his ships are even more powerful than the ones Apophis came in. Where do these people think they're going to get a miracle to save them? From God?"
"It'll have to be from God," George answers wryly. For a deeply religious man he hasn't got much faith in miracles.
Teal'c calls out that he is nearing the city so the subject changes.
"Here," George says. He hands the IDs and stuff to John and DJ. "Jake's giving the others the same info and pep talk," he says as he does. "Don't get caught! By the same token, don't get yourself injured either. If anyone were to see that you're not human..."
He doesn't need to finish that sentence - didn't even need to say the words at all, they already knew. He hands them something else. Cellphones.
"Speed dial #1 will get you through to me. #2 will get you through to Jake's. #3 will get you through to the phone I'm going to give this lot," he instructs, nodding his head at us. "First hint of trouble, call us and stay out of sight, okay? If the NID get wind of you existing, it could cause a lot of grief. As far as we know, there has been no indication that word of your existence has reached them.
"Having said that, I'm sure that some of the members of some of the SG teams are NID plants. There's nothing I can do about that. This means that there is no way of knowing for certain that you're going to be safe."
They grab their bags and stuff the phones into them, tucking their IDs in their jackets. Teal'c's put us down in a field about five miles from the edge of town. There's no one around. Good.
"We'll be careful," they agree.
"Keep us informed on anything you pick up," John tells me.
"You got it, pal," I reply. "No secrets, right?"
It's time for them to go. Don't want them suddenly appearing out of nowhere when a car comes past on this currently deserted road.
With a wave, they're gone. We watch them head to the road, arguing over which way to go or something. There's no sound on the ship, we're just looking. When they disappear around the corner, Teal'c takes us up. George is apparently coming to Minnesota with us, I think.
"George? You coming with or can we drop you off somewhere?"
"I'll come all the way if you don't mind."
"No problem. It'll be good to catch up."
It won't take us long to get to the cabin. What would an Earth government give for this sort of tech? First-born sons of the entire population would be cheap, I think. It's such an advance... and not one we can let anyone have. Especially not now. Should the day ever come that the SGC goes to UN control, then maybe each country can be given the same specs. But till that day, no country should be allowed this sort of technological jump.
When we started at the SGC, this was Daniel's line. I was the 'loyal' one, I thought. Anything for my country. Then I realised that Daniel was right. It's nothing to do with country and everything to do with planet and all of the people. Sure, I still have problems with some parts of the world. Even Daniel agrees about some extreme regimes needing taking down and so on. But it's not the politicos we're fighting for, it's the people. The children. Our future. The more the politicians got involved with the SGC the more I agreed that we should keep the tech away from them. Bunch of self-serving, egotistical, self-centred, hypocritical...
"Jack, we're there." Daniel breaks into my traitorous thoughts. Just as well no one outside of the four of us is telepathic.
We've landed a short way away from the cabin. The others are looking at me with a grin as I head directly for it. What's that? My truck? My baby?
"Figured you'd need some transport," he says. "Someone drove it all the way up here for you."
We take off at a run. There are two faces in the window of the cabin looking directly at us.
"CASSIE!" Sam screams as she hurtles towards the door with the rest of us right behind her.
We pile into the old building in time to see Sam hugging Cassandra tight, reaching out for Janet at the same time.
"Oh my GOD!" she pants. "It's so good to see you!"
It is good to see them, both of them. Daniel, Teal'c and I agree on that one. But I think that Sam's missed female company more than we have, so we're giving them a moment.
Finally, they break their hugs and it's our turn. Cuddles and kisses are exchanged freely along with comments about how good we're looking. Well, of course we look good.
"Did you drive all the way?" I ask her.
"Yup. The General gave me a couple of weeks' leave. Cassie and I took the scenic route up here, taking our time. In fact, we left within hours of you letting him know you were coming home. We've brought things for you, too."
"Why don't we settle down and have something to eat and drink first, eh Jack?" George says. "Then we can talk a bit more."
"No problems. I think that would be a good idea."
Janet's already got food ready; a buffet of cold things, things we haven't had in a long time. Sure, we can have meat on Remoc, but we don't have a smokehouse so there's no ham and stuff like that. She's even got a plate of smoked salmon out. Luxury!
We find as many chairs as we can and sit around the table. I'm in heaven when she hands me a cold one. Beer is available off-world, but it's not the same. And it's rarely cold. Daniel explained once that 'proper' beer shouldn't need to be served cold, that chilling a drink only serves to take the flavour away and that anything brewed with hops needs to be at room temperature or you'll lose the bitterness. Whatever. I like my beer to come directly from the fridge. Each to his own. Not all of us have cultivated taste buds.
We catch up with Cassie, finding out about school, boyfriends, life in general and so on. Janet's got a guilty look though, so I know there's something up.
"Jan?" I ask when there's an end to 'The Adventures of an Alien in Colorado'. "Spill."
She looks at Hammond and gets a nod. I guess we have some bad news coming.
"Okay. Well, you know as well as we do, that the chances of you coming home to live are slim," she starts.
"Slim to bupkis," I tell her. "Jan, we're never coming back to live and we know it."
I think that helps. Sam's gone quiet though. She hates that thought, even though she knows it. Teal'c shrugs and Daniel looks indifferent.
"Right. The General and I were discussing this - and what to do with your homes. They're just sitting there, you know?"
Again, we nod. I think I know what's coming.
"We took it upon ourselves to sell them," Hammond says. "We should have discussed this with you, but it wasn't really possible. Basically, the NID were snooping. They were wondering why we were looking after empty houses. They knew you'd gone off-world.
"So, we had you declared legally dead. It was the easiest way to get them off our backs and to keep them from snooping. Your families were contacted very unofficially. I told your mother, Jack, and Jake told Mark that reports of your demise had been exaggerated. They know you're alive, but they also know you're in hiding. As far as they know, there are fabricated charges against you and that you're in hiding until we can prove you innocent, that it's too damned dangerous for you to surface. They accept that, only wanting you to be safe.
"All of the money from the sales have gone into the bank accounts we set up with the fake identities. It will be there for you should you ever be able to come home to live, and if you can't, you can use it to stock up with things when you return for a holiday like this."
We're silent for a minute. Mom already had a similar story from me, so the General going to see her wouldn't have been too much of a surprise. I'm glad he did go though. It will have helped her to know that there were people on our side.
It's a bit of a shock, knowing that our homes have gone. Don't know why, I've hardly thought of it in all the time I was off-world.
"You did the right thing," Jack says. "There was no point in keeping two perfectly good houses empty when there are others wanting a roof over their heads."
Can't argue with that.
"We've brought all of your possessions up," Jan says. "Over the past few months, the General and Cassie and I have been taking it in turns to come up here for a break. Every time we did, we brought more and more. The pickup's full of the last boxes. The only things we didn't bring were the electrical goods and things we didn't think you'd have a use for."
The three of us shrug and nod.
"Cassie can have whatever she wants of what's left," I say and the guys agree. "If you two want anything, or your girls, George, please, feel free."
"Thank you," they all reply. I think they're glad that we're okay with it.
"All of your CDs are here," Jan adds, "but the vinyl's stayed. We didn't think you'd be able to play any of that."
"You're welcome to it," Daniel says. He was the one with the biggest record collection.
"So, what this means is that we can cross a lot of things off our shopping lists," Jack says with a grin. "Did you pack our kitchen stuff and so on?"
"Yeah. We didn't know how you managed for things like that, so we figured you'd want to have some spares. Basically, if it can be used off-world, we brought it. We left furniture behind, of course. It would have been impossible to store it all up here."
"Did you bring our linen?" I ask.
"Carter," Jack barks. He only calls me that when he wants my attention. "Why don't we wait till later? We can go through what's come up here as we transfer it to the ship, then we can check off the shopping list. But for now, let's catch up on the news, drink a few beers, eat some more of this great food and generally relax."
We agree to that, Daniel finds a bottle of wine that he'd put in one of the cabin's store cupboards when he'd last visited this place, and we settle down to chat.
Oh wow, the cabin is spinning. Okay, we shouldn't have started that third bottle. Jack, George and Teal'c have finished off the beer, Cassie's got Coke up to her eyeballs and Daniel, Janet and I have had way too much wine.
"It's gettin' late," Jack slurs. "I'm thinkin' we should go to bed. We can deal with everything else in the morning."
Sounds good to the rest of us. Jan and Cass are going to share the big bed, George is going to sleep on the sofa. The rest of us will go sleep on Mia.
We stagger out of the cabin with the others in tow for the moment, and head back to the ship. Which we can't see. Not because of snow, either. There's no snow yet. Probably come soon though. Meanwhile, back to the disappearing ship...
"Cassie!" Daniel yells.
"Yeah? What?" she shouts back.
We all giggle. Even Teal'c does.
"No," Daniel calls. "Look!"
Her mouth opens wide as the door to the ship pulls back and opens. "Cassie's our password. Our 'open sesame'."
"Cool!" she replies, but I think she wants to cry. Jan wraps her arm around her and hugs her.
"See, I told you that they wouldn't forget you," Jan tells her.
Oh hell, we didn't think of that.
"Forget you?" Jack says. "Not possible, honey. Not possible. You're a part of us."
We're in the ship. Just as well, really, don't think I could try to make up a shelter outside - or even a bed in the cabin. Think I might just pull up some floor...
"Samantha. Let me help you."
Tha's my baby. Just as well I have Teal'c. Ooh, I'm floating. Has he switched the artificial gravity off? Uh, how dumb am I? We're on Earth. So how?
I look down on the floor and see my feet aren't there. Where are they? HEY! I want my feet back!
"Samantha, I am carrying you."
Ah. So, where did you put my feet?
"You okay, Daniel?"
Hmm. Ok-ay. Er, yeah. Yeah, I think I'm okay. Why are the walls moving?
"Night Sam! Hey Sam!"
"Shut the fuck up!"
She's drunk. Sammy only says things like that when she's drunk.
"Jeez, Daniel, you're shnockered, aren't you?"
"Snick, er, snot, er, socked?"
"Shnockered. Oiled. Plastered. Inebriated. Pie-eyed. Stewed, tight... drunk!"
"Oh. Yeah. You've been at that thesaurus again, haven't you?"
Oh, oh, I know that look. 'Tis a withering gaze. Lucky for me, I'm imoo, mimoo, imu.. able to withstand it and I don't wither. I have an idea.
"Wanna make out?"
"You sure you're up for it?"
"Sure I'm sure. Why don't you come here and check for yourself, big guy?"
I'm waggling my eyebrows in what I hope is an inviting manner. So why is he giggling like a moron? Hmm, so I try lying on the mattress, in an attempt to look seductive. A crook of my finger makes him laugh out loud.
"Jeez, Jack, if you don't wanna, you can just say so. No need to make me feel inade... inaaa... unwanted."
"Oh, I want you, Daniel. No worries there, buddy. But you can get a bit noisy. The others are on the ship too, you know."
"Stick something in my mouth then."
With a grin, he lays down next to me and sticks his tongue down my throat. Hmm. Hands roaming, bodies grinding, lips clashing... yeah, this is what I call a good night kiss!
Oh yeah, he's kissing my neck, my body... he's going to - yeah! He is!
"Hey, flyboy." He looks up, wondering what I want. I wave my finger around and he gets the message.
"You move, you're younger than me. Then I can stick something else in your mouth."
I am so there!
You know, it's hard to concentrate on a 69 when you're sober, but when you're not, life sucks. Or not. I can either enjoy what he's doing or I can enjoy doing what I'm doing but both at the same time is tricky. Ah well, what the heck. Gimme.
Hmm, yeah, love this. Could suck on this for hours if he'd let me. That would make missions difficult though.
"Hey, Daniel, what'cha doing?"
"You don't know? I must be doing it wrong."
"No, you're humming or something. You talking to yourself?"
"Thinking out loud. Now, shut up and let me get back to my self-appointed mission."
A long hard suck... that got his attention. His hips are moving. That's okay, if I just twist myself like... so...
"Careful! You nearly knocked my ear off!"
"Quit whinin', O'Neill."
As I was thinking, getting into this position helps me to-o-o oh, yeah. All the way down, baby. A little swallow and...
For someone who has my dick in his mouth, Jack's ever so loud. Still, he can concentrate on me now. Well, as soon as he gets his breath back. Ooh, that tickled. It wouldn't be so bad if the puffs of air were warm. Ah, that's better. I'm just going to shut my brain down for a minute. Hold that thought...
"Daniel? Danny! You okay?"
The square root of four is pi and a half times the radius of a goat. The ancient Greeks spoke Swahili to their mummies. Ra was a big wuss. Oh yeah, he was one. Great, my brain's coming back on-line.
"I'm fine Jack. Just lost about three billion brain cells."
"Nothing new then."
I'd crawl up to meet him but I've lost all sensation in my body except for my tongue.
Breakfast. The most important meal of the day, so they say. Sam, Janet and I are a bit green, though, so we're sticking to dry toast. I think the wine was off. Probably the last bottle so we couldn't tell. The others are having a fried meal - with grease as the main component. I hate them like poison.
"So, what are we going to do today?" Jack asks cheerfully.
"Well," I say. "After Jan, Sam and I have killed you, chopped your bodies up into a thousand pieces and stamped on them, we're going to ditch the remains in the middle of the lake and then we can suffer in peace. What say you, ladies?"
They agree. Jack's trying not to look worried, but he's remembering my last revenge for him playing up when I had a hangover. It took him a week to remove the paint.
George is being his usual diplomatic self and trying not to laugh. "How about we sort out your belongings first?" he suggests.
I glare at him. "What, and spoil a perfectly good revenge fantasy?"
Common sense won the day, more's the pity. I kept trying to persuade Sam to join in, but she said that I'm not as comfortable to lie on at night as Teal'c is, so they got away with it. As a consequence, we've spent the last few hours shifting boxes and going through the contents.
I've got all my books, photo albums and what remained of my clothing. That's pretty much par for the course in the personal items line. Decorative items and artefacts aren't high on our list of priorities, really. Jan and George are keeping most of mine between them, though some of the rarer ones and the ones that need specialist care have been donated to the local museum in the Springs. It seems they have a Dr. Daniel Jackson Memorial Case, (quite apt considering how often I've died), containing some specific pieces that have considerable historical value.
Very few of my artefacts had huge monetary value - it's rare for something a couple of thousand years old to actually be worth much. They have to be significant to be valuable (I'm talking more than a couple of hundred bucks, here). Weird, but there you go. My furniture was either used to replace some in their houses or sold and the proceeds put into my new bank account.
I should be upset, but I'm not. As a man who travelled a lot when I was younger, I learned to never put too much emotional attachment onto 'things'. I tried to do that with people, too, but some of the lovers and friends I've had over the years haven't let me go there. For which I am truly grateful.
I'm looking at my most precious 'possession' now. Dirty, dusty, and grumpy.
He looks up from his own things and I see his eyes are glazed over. Looking down, I see that he's going through pictures of Charlie. Instead of talking, I just hug him tightly. All other items relating to Charlie have either gone to Sara or Jack's mother. George said that he'd tried to choose carefully between them.
Sara's been told that Jack's in hiding, but she knows to tell other people that he's dead. Without even checking with Jack, George had told Sara that Jack had sent a message, saying that he still loved her. Jack nodded when he was told that, agreeing that he'd done the right thing. It's true, he does still love her.
I'm not jealous of her, just as he's not jealous of Shau're. George also told me that he'd passed on a message to Kasuf, via Jacob. The Abydonians will keep the secret and will hide us if the need arises. We're staying away from there, though, because if someone looks for us, it will likely be the first place they go.
Yesterday was spent quietly, reacquainting ourselves with our friends and sorting out possessions. Many items were 'ticked off' the shopping list prepared by Samantha and Daniel, so when morning came, we were in a position to go shopping. As Samantha has missed the company of females, and as there was not enough space in the truck to take us all, the ladies left the cabin and went shopping on their own. They went to the nearest large town, which holds a university, rather than the nearest 'one horse town' that is at the bottom of this hill.
Daniel made a comment about there being more likelihood of the sort of shops that would stock some of her more 'difficult to get hold of' items in the larger one. I had no idea that electronic components were rare. Why would she need batteries for a manual toothbrush? And why should the suggestion make her blush? Perhaps I will find out later on.
We males shall go shopping tomorrow. When that chore is done, we shall spend the rest of the time relaxing, possibly sightseeing if the snow holds off. O'Neill says that he thinks that it will come soon, that there is a change in the air which is telling him this. As he has spent many winters here, I am inclined to listen to him.
While we wait for the women to return, we are talking and O'Neill is catching up with the sports news. He misses his hockey, apparently. I do not see why. Daniel and Hammond are discussing the political situation. I believe that O'Neill is listening in. He is able to look as if he is ignoring conversations of value, but when questioned later, it is always apparent that he missed nothing.
"So, how are you coping with the Pentagon's interference?" Daniel asks.
"I'm playing the game," Hammond replies with a sigh. "They think that I'm on board. It's the only way I can get away with what I do. I don't complain about the missions - I don't want to give them an excuse to retire me sooner rather than later - but when possible, I keep up the diplomacy. SG-9 are torn. They know the standing orders, but they also know how I really feel - how we all really feel.
"Morale at the SGC is at an all-time low. These people are good people. They want to make friends out there, not use them. Before long, the Pentagon is going to realise that they've shot themselves in the foot. If they put someone like Bauer in instead of me, I don't think the SGC will last a year."
"Idiots," Daniel spits. "I don't get it, George. Most of the people at the Pentagon are soldiers! They must know the value of intelligence, of allies... If the political element get their way, Earth is going to be in real danger."
"There's not a lot I can do. Having you out there helps, but even you can't fix everything. The work you're doing undermining the System Lords is holding off any attack, so you are making a huge difference."
Daniel lets out a huge sigh and says, "It makes me wonder if what we're doing is the right thing."
That has got O'Neill's attention.
"Why do you say that? Aren't you happy?"
"Happy? Sure. We are making a difference. It's just that I think it's going to take another scare for the Pentagon to get their heads out of their asses again. The more I think of it, the more I'm sure that Kinsey is behind the whole thing."
"Why do you say that, Daniel?" I ask him.
"Think about it. He wanted the SGC shut down back at the beginning. Now, we managed to show that it was needed and undermined him. So, he wanted to take back control, knowing it would give him power. We know he wants to be the President. How better then than to be in a position that when an attack does come, he can do one of two things, depending on the outcome.
"If it goes badly, he can keep his influence on the policy a secret. If it goes well - in other words, if there is some sort of negotiated outcome - he can claim the success as his. Thereby turning himself into a hero in the eyes of the public. They'll have just had a shock of awesome size and here will come the man that saved the day. He's not just thinking presidency, I'm thinking he's wanting even greater power."
"Megalomania on steroids?" O'Neill suggests.
"Precisely. He'll think that by negotiating with whichever snake who attacks, he'll be the one that gets put in charge of the planet. I really think he's sure that this is the way it will go down. The more his lackeys tell him that he's in this position, the more he's going to believe it. They don't realise how dumb that idea is and that man's ego is unfettered as it is, so he won't be wanting to believe it to be otherwise."
"How are we going to overcome it?" Hammond asks.
"That, I don't know."
O'Neill is grimacing. "He needs to be taken down. It's too dangerous for us to do it. You're going to need people you can trust on Earth. Killing him - while useful - isn't necessarily what you want. That would only give the NID a martyr to the cause. What you need to do is humiliate him."
"You mean make him look bad so that those in his camp will reconsider their position?"
"Exactly. George, you'll need to get dirty with this one. Make sure that whoever gets involved can't be traced to you. You'll need to go two ways. The first way is to get proof of his power-hungry tendencies. He's too clever to say anything obvious in public, so you'll need someone that can bug his office or something like that. The other way is to get compromising pictures, info, whatever. Find a reliable prostitute or something. One that doesn't mind the publicity, if you see what I mean."
"I do," Hammond answers. "Trouble is, Jack, that's more your line than mine."
Daniel is moaning. He is now banging his head against the back of the sofa.
"You know who can do this, Jack."
It is O'Neill's turn to groan.
I hate it when Daniel's right. And he is. Harry's the only one that can pull this off. As I'm the only one that knows how to contact him, it's up to me to find him.
"I need Internet connection," I say.
"Hold that thought." Daniel takes off and runs out of the cabin. He's back in a few minutes with a laptop in his hands.
"Oh, Daniel, you didn't," I moan.
"We're here on holiday. Doesn't that concept have any meaning to you?"
"Well, duh, Jack. But as you can see, it's now not only desirable but necessary. Besides, I wasn't going to be working on it as such..."
"No? Just what did you have in mind then?"
"Oh, a bit of this, a bit of that..." he mumbles.
His machine is powered up. He's now looking at the cellphone and grinning.
"Yeah. Just as I thought. Infrared connections and satellite communication. Nice one, George," he adds with a smile.
"I wanted to make sure you could be contacted anywhere on the planet," George says.
He's booted up the computer and now he's dialling up a number.
"Daniel? What are you doing?"
"Remember when we had that hassle with the NID before?" he says, his voice distant as if he was elsewhere.
"Well, I set up an ISP web account in a different name. It doesn't matter what number I phone from. You did keep up the standing order payments that I asked you to, didn't you?" he asks, cocking his head in the direction of George.
"Good. Good. One minute and we should... yeah. I'm in. What was that web site again, Jack?"
"Uh, oh yeah. Movieorbit dot com."
"That's it. We're in... on the notice board. What message?"
"Hutch, feel like ice fishing? Starsky."
George is looking at me as if I've gone mad, but what the heck.
Daniel's typed it in and now he's shutting it down.
"There. Done. A quick job so we couldn't be traced. Let's just hope he gets the message."
"Somehow, I didn't think that I'd ever want to see that scum-sucking bottom-feeding poor-excuse for a human being ever again."
Daniel looks up at me and grins.
"Go on," he says. "You like him really."
The women are back. God help us all. They're giggling.
"So? What did you get?"
"Oh, this and that," Carter says. "Clothes, make-up... girlie things," she adds with a grin.
"Got the batteries for your toothbrush?" Daniel asks innocently. Yep, she's blushing again. Now she's smacking him. Life's good.
They're separating out the bags into what's the Frasiers' and what's hers. We have bags of clothes, bags of books, bags of shampoos and other stuff... more bags of clothes, bags of tools and electronic components, CDs with music and computer programs, bags with sheets and blankets. She looks like she's stocking out a commune. Actually, I think she probably is.
"We'll get some food to take back with us too," she says. "If you guys go shopping tomorrow and get what you want, then the four of us can go up to the big supermarket on the edge of town and fill the rest of the cargo hold with cans and jars of stuff we don't get to trade for."
"How about we do this as soon as possible?" Daniel suggests. "If the snow comes in a couple of days, as Jack thinks it's going to, I doubt we're going to want to leave the cabin."
We're all in agreement. So, tomorrow, Daniel, Teal'c and I will get what we've been wanting (George says he'll sit it out) and the day after, we're going to go mad. One thing I'm going to get is soft toilet paper and lots of it.
The cargo hold is starting to fill up, but fortunately, it's got a lot of space anyway. All of the boxes are piled up against one wall, Sam's stuff is now in front of it. If we buy in similar quantities, we'll still have enough room for about six months' worth of groceries. It's not the things like meat and veg that we miss, it's the jars of stuff, the pickles, the jellies... all of the extras that make a meal a bit different and more Earth-like. Maybe I won't miss home quite so much if that's all there.
It's a lovely day. The sun's out, the air is cold and crisp, there's not a cloud in the sky. The guys have gone shopping and are promising to 'out-shop' even me. George is staying here, and he and I have been catching up quietly. It's been great seeing them again, especially Cassie and Janet. I didn't realise how much I missed the company of other women until I got here. Having Frankie around helps a bit, but as all of our past experiences are identical, it's not really the same.
We're sitting out on the pier, wrapped up warmly and drinking wine. We have a picnic lunch laid out on a blanket and the whole thing is perfect.
I knew something would spoil it.
"Maybourne," I say. "You made it then."
"It would appear so, Major. Or is that Samantha these days? I'm not sure if I'm gratified to see that you're on the run as well as me or not."
He's standing at the cabin end of the pier, reluctant to come close, I think. Perhaps he knows I'd throw him in the icy pond if he came within reach.
"Shopping," I say. Before he can reply, George speaks up.
"It's me you're here to see anyway."
"Are you going to arrest me?" Maybourne asks cautiously.
"If you give me another reason to," George shrugs. "In the meantime, I have a proposition for you."
George stands up and leaves us. I know what this is all about, but Janet and Cassie can't hear of it. Plausible deniability and all that.
"Sam?" Janet whispers.
"Don't ask, Jan. It's not good for you to know."
She lets out a sigh and says, "I hate this cloak and dagger stuff."
"Me too, honey, me too. Just forget you ever saw him."
She takes a long drink of her wine and grins, "I keep trying to do that, Sam. Trouble is, the little bastard keeps coming back."
George is still away from us, but now I can hear Jack's truck coming up the road. This could get interesting.
I've told Jan and Cass to stay on the pier and I'm creeping towards the cabin to listen in even though I know that they will fill me in later.
"Maybourne." Jack's voice is gruff, but he's not threatening to kill him. Yet.
"Jack, good to see you again."
"You sure about that?"
There's a short pause, then he says, "You're looking a lot younger. Been playing with alien tech again?"
"Nope. Just clean living," Jack replies.
"Yeah, well, Hammond's been filling me in on your little idea. Damn, Jack, you sure know how to get your hands dirty. You surprise me. You seemed squeamish before."
"No, not squeamish, Harry. You'd be surprised what I'd do for the right reasons."
"What if the reasons are wrong?"
"You're telling me that Kinsey's not behind this change of heart at the SGC?"
"No, I wouldn't say that. But sometimes it's a case of better the devil you know."
"Granted. This time, though, I think that the devil should be exposed for what he is. Can you do it?"
"Sure I can. For the right price."
Oh, oh. For a comment like that, I'm sure that Jack's gonna swipe him one. HUH? He didn't?
"Oh, I think we can do something for you. How about we take you somewhere the NID can't touch you?"
"They've got a long reach, Jack."
"Not as long as we've got."
There's silence for a minute. I can hear the sound of feet shuffling.
"You've got transport?"
"We have access to the means of getting you wherever you want to go. Do the job and you have my word you'll end up somewhere that you can live out the rest of your life without worry."
"Sounds tempting. What's the catch?"
"You're on your own. You keep General Hammond and the SGC out of it. If any blame gets pointed anywhere, it's at the NID itself. I want that fetid so-called organisation to implode and I want it to take Kinsey with it."
"Tough job, Jack. I'm not sure I have the contacts anymore."
"Oh now, come on, Harry," Jack's cajoling. "A man of your talents and experience? Surely there's someone you've managed to avoid pissing off?"
"You'd be surprised," Maybourne mutters.
"No, I wouldn't." That's Daniel. Surprise, surprise. He hates Maybourne.
"Daniel," Jack hisses. "Play nice."
"Why? Where's the fun in that?" I can tell by his tone of voice that Daniel's batting his eyelashes at Jack when he says that. He's so naughty sometimes.
"Daniel." Oh dear, the grinding teeth version. "Why don't you go find Carter?"
I hear footsteps coming. As he rounds the corner, I grab him and put my hand on his mouth. His eyes are twinkling as we listen in.
Sam and I are listening in. Jack's no fun anymore. I love playing 'diss the traitor', it's one of my favourite games. Not as much fun as spin the bottle, but still...
"I see Doctor Jackson hasn't learned how to be nice, Jack. Surely a man of your diplomatic skills could have taught him a thing or two?"
God, the dripping sarcasm in Maybourne's voice is too much to bear. Jack's sniggering.
"Oh, I've taught him a few things, Harry. Like how to cut a guy's throat without the victim even knowing you're there. And a quick FYI. That was Daniel being nice. When he decides to play dirty, he makes you and me look like rank amateurs."
Aw, my baby loves me.
Anyway, let's reinforce this, shall we? A silent step here, a silent step there...
"So, how do I get in contact with you when it's done?" Maybourne's asking.
"You don't. Give the General another one of those web site news board things and a code to use. When he sees the job's done, he'll contact us, then he'll contact you. It will take us a few days to get things organised, so don't expect it to happen immediately."
"How do I know you'll keep your word?"
"Harry, Harry, Harry," Jack's saying, his hands up in submission. "I'm hurt! Have I ever let you down?"
"There's always a first time, Jack."
"Maybe, but it's me that's got his head on the line."
"Look, the only way I can reassure you is this."
Daniel, you ready?
You knew I'd do this, didn't you?
How telepathic are we?
I'm trying not to laugh here. I'm standing right behind him now.
"This? This what?"
"You're not dead yet, are you?" Jack asks innocently.
"What's that got to do with it?" Maybourne growls.
"BOO!" I yell, and the little traitor jumps a mile.
"How the fuck?" he gasps when he hits the ground.
"Like I told you, Harry. I've taught him a thing or two. He's a quick study and top of his class. If Daniel had been in my spec ops team back in the old days, we'd never have been caught.
"Bear something in mind, Harry. You don't know where we live. You don't know how we get here. You'll never know who's standing behind you if you double-cross us. So, do what you've been asked and make the arrangements with George. Then you wait for his message. No contact with him in-between or the deal's off, no matter how well you do the job.
"When the job's done, you'll get instructions as to where to go to meet us. We'll get you off-world and somewhere safe. Or, if you'd rather, we'll get you out of the country. Though I guess that you could do that anytime you wanted, so off-world has to be an improvement."
"It's going to take time."
"We don't expect it to be done tomorrow, Harry," Jack placates. "Just don't leave it too long. Things are going to hell in a hand-basket. If you don't do this, there won't be a planet left for you to leave."
I think that Maybourne understands that we're not messing about now.
After Maybourne left, we unloaded the truck and put the items bought in the cargo hold. Daniel had disappeared when we were in town and came back to us, his arms full of unidentifiable plastic bags and his face smiling. I am not sure what he had in those bags, but he has put them into the bedroom he shares with O'Neill on the ship.
I bought some DVDs, new sneakers and boots and more Earth combat uniforms and other items that we found in an army surplus store. The truck was full of bags when we arrived, but even that was not as much as we bought the following day.
At the wholesalers, we filled the truck - and more or less filled the cargo hold with foods that will be easy to store on Remoc. O'Neill also insisted on buying a dozen can openers 'just in case' the one broke. I fear he does not wish to be kept from certain foodstuffs.
As soon as the food had been unloaded from the truck, he drove with Samantha into the nearest small town and to a home store with a garden centre. There they bought many items for building the greenhouse that he plans. We have small plants, seeds, rolls of clear plastic and various tools. He even bought a collapsible wheelbarrow.
There is no more room in the cargo hold. I am afraid that the weight of our purchases may be too much for the engines. However, I am not leaving my box sets of Deep Space 9 behind to lighten the load.
Our plan now is to relax. O'Neill says that the snow will be coming soon, if not tomorrow, then the day after. I am looking forward to it. It would be good to hone my ice-combat skills.
"Should we go?" Doctor Frasier... Janet asks.
"Why?" Samantha sounds shocked.
"Just in case we get snowed in. How difficult will it be to get down to the main road if we have a large snowfall overnight?"
"Pretty tricky," O'Neill admits. "Stay today. I don't think it's going to snow overnight. I'll let you know day by day, okay? If the worst comes to the worst, we can always fly you to just outside the Springs."
She is relaxing now, glad to be able to stay, at least for tonight. Samantha is also pleased.
We are all in the living room of the cabin. There is a small television here, though the reception is not wonderful. The news is about to come on. It is strange, but none of MIA have been interested in knowing what has been going on in the last six months. It is as if the planet is alien to us all and not just to myself.
"And in the news today, Senator Kinsey has made a speech condemning the actions of the Democrat Senator, Cynthia Albertson. He says that her fight to get the contributions of gay servicemen and women recognised is both divisive and amoral."
"Daniel! Switch that off!"
O'Neill is furious.
"Damn it, George, that bastard has to go DOWN!"
He is standing up and pacing around the room, as angry with Kinsey as I have ever seen him.
"It doesn't seem to matter that gay servicemen have died to protect that stupid prick! All he wants to do is suck up to the so-called moral majority. The immoral majority more like. He's a hypocritical, noxious, sick-minded, wart-infested, brainless lump of fungus-covered monkey puke!"
We are all surprised by this outburst. Except for Daniel.
"I knew that getting you a thesaurus was a bad idea," he says with a shrug. "What will you do for an encore?"
Samantha is upset. This morning O'Neill looked at the sky and advised the Frasiers that if they wished to drive out of Minnesota, then they had better go today. He did say that they could stay longer, but Janet wishes to have the use of the truck at home.
"When she passes her test, give the truck to Cassie," he says as they get close to it. "I'll feel better knowing that she has something solid around her."
Cassandra has now thrown herself into his arms. He is holding her closely.
"You be good, ya hear? You do as your mom says and make me proud, baby."
"I will. I promise. You come home again soon, please."
"We'll do what we can, I promise sweetheart. When you graduate from college, we'll all be here. Pity we won't be here for your school..."
He is interrupted before he can say any more.
"You take me with you," she says. "Every time you use the ship."
We all say goodbye to her and to Janet. Many tears are being shed. I fear that I will have to comfort Samantha greatly tonight.
Hammond is staying with us. We will drop him where we found him and he will return to Colorado by car with Jacob. In the meantime, we are watching as the Frasiers drive down the forest road, none of us leaving until they are out of sight.
"I'm sorry they couldn't stay longer, Sam," O'Neill says. "Next time we come home, we'll do it in the summer. That way we won't have to worry about snow."
"Nope," Daniel says brightly. "Just mosquitos."
Day six at the cabin. You'd think that being here would be like a busman's holiday, seein' as we live in cabins on Remoc. It's different though. It's snowing for a start.
Teal'c's a happy camper. I reckon that tomorrow there'll be enough for him to build snowmen. George is looking happy, too. He's glad we're home with him - somewhere he knows we're safe. Since we had that chat with Maybourne, he's relaxed more and more with each passing day.
Evenings are a bit weird. On the first night here, Daniel and I did what we always do and sat, snuggled together in front of the fire. It was only when Cassie made an 'aw, aren't they cute?' comment did we realise what we were doing. We've grown so used to being openly together that we forget how it was. We had to remind ourselves harshly when we were up in town that we had to tone it down.
George is way cool. He says that seeing two people happy together is a good thing in his book. I think that in a weird way he's happy that we're living on Remoc so that we can be like this all the time. We're in front of the fire now. I'm watching the TV, lying on the floor and propped up on some cushions.
Daniel's in front of me, taking the lion's share of the heat, but his body is touching mine all the way down. He's reading one of his new books and my arm is happily wrapped around his waist. Teal'c and Sam are curled up on an armchair together, Sam on Teal'c's lap. George is on the sofa. He's pretending to watch TV, but I think he's happy just to sit and be with us.
The game's over. Who was playing? I have no idea. My mind was wandering throughout.
"You think we've got enough stuff to take back to Remoc?" I ask.
"Hmm?" Daniel knows I've spoken, but I don't really think he knows what language I spoke in.
"I'd say so," Sam says. "If not, we'll just have to come back. Is there a time up here when it's not snowing and there aren't any mosquitos?"
Daniel lifts his head and grins. "Yeah. November the second."
Daniel and I are tucked up in bed. George took over the bed in the cabin when the ladies went. Only fair, I guess. We don't mind. Our beds here are close to the floor but they're well-padded.
"Are you ever going to tell me what you bought in town?"
"You know what I bought," Daniel says. "I bought clothes, books..."
"What was in the bags you brought in here?" I push.
"Ah. Well, there's this for a start," he says, getting something out of a bag and ripping the cover off of it.
"What the fuck do you need that for? Isn't the one I've got good enough?"
"Of course, Jack. But just think of the possibilities. I mean, you lie back and I'll show you."
I'm on my back, my shorts are off, he's leaning over me and kissing me - teasing me with his tongue. Hmm. Now he's working his way down my body, kissing, biting, licking - I think he was a dog in a previous life. Now he's just kneeling in-between my legs and looking dangerous.
"You going to do anything about that?" I ask, pointing at my dick - which in turn is pointing back at me.
"Oh, yes, Jack. I'm going to do a lot with it. Hang on."
He's broken open a tube of lube and he's covering his fingers with it. Looks good so far. Oh God, he's prepping himself. Looks even better! He's not going to stick that thing inside him, is he? What a waste. No? He's wiped his fingers, now he's putting more lube on them and he's sticking them... ooh they're in me. That's good. That's better than good. Oh yeah, baby, keep doing that. Aw heck, he stopped. I see why now. He's lubing that... that... that thing!
"Shh, Jack. Trust me. You're going to enjoy this."
He's not even answering. He's just sticking the dildo world's answer to King Dong up my ass. Admittedly it's going slowly, but still. Even bottom boy over there would take a while to get this inside him.
"Why did you buy a replica of Teal'c?" I ask, gasping for breath between each word.
"When did you ever see Teal'c erect?" he asks with a grin.
"You don't want to know," I tell him. Actually, as that thing gets further inside me, it's not feeling too bad. I'll be damned if I tell him that though.
"There, it's in," he says with an air of accomplishment. Don't know what he's got to be pleased with. It's in my ass. "And now, for my next trick," he adds with a chuckle. If he can beat that one, I'll be surprised. He's going to what? Oh YES!
Houston, the butt has landed. Right on my cock.
He's sitting on me, shifting up and down, riding me with a filthy smile plastered to his face. He's reaching back and he's... HOOOOLEEEEE SHIIIIIT.
He's just switched the fucking thing on!
I'm in him and it's in me and I don't know where I start and he finishes and it feels fucking incredible and my brain is about to melt.
This is something I miss on Remoc. A proper breakfast. Bacon, eggs, sausage... the works. Daniel's making comments about me needing to go to the Tok'ra to cure my cholesterol level when we get back, but I don't care. It's delicious. Coffee with milk just adds to the overall goodness. We've bought a load of long-life milk for when we go back. It's not the same, but hell, it's better than nothing.
I'm stuffed. Not as stuffed as I was last night, admittedly, but still pretty full. I'm surprised I could sit this morning. Daniel was looking very pleased with himself. Smug bastard.
Ah well, we've washed up and cleared everything away. Teal'c and Sam are dressed up warm and they're about to go play in the snow.
Hang on, what's that? The phone?
George is answering it.
"Hammond... Hello Jake... What?... Oh hell... We're on our way. Head to the rendezvous point. We'll be there as soon as we can make it!"
"George? What's wrong?"
"That was Jacob. He just had a call from your mother, Jack. John and DJ have disappeared."