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Mission Impossible

maybourne's independence

Summary: A spiritual journey for Maybourne and the end of the road for Daniel? Who knows?
With many thanks to Alph for Harry's voice and Joy and Fabi for their usual help and support. Take a bow, guys.


Get ready to act on my word.

We hear Jack's voice in our heads and prepare ourselves. Sam's in the ring room - I'm still in the throne room. Jack is in the anteroom, getting ready to start confusing the issue. Teal'c, on the other hand, has another job to do. One that's going to take some serious concentration.

"I must return to my ship."

I watch Osiris carefully and try to control my breathing. My heart is thumping rapidly and my nerves are on edge.

"Why? Does Anubis not trust us?" Baal asks, his voice implying that he doesn't believe that Anubis trusts anyone.

"Of course he trusts you," Osiris tries to soothe them, but fails.

"Then why do you not use the facilities that I have so generously offered you?"

Osiris' face is easy for me to read. Funnily enough, it's Sarah's expressions ruling the day. She's pretty straight-faced when she wants to be, but I know her. She's scared. This could mean that Osiris is also scared. Could be interesting. I pass this information to Jack and he nearly laughs.

Let me know the second they go out to the corridor.

Osiris is in a corner and he backs down.

"Very well. Anubis will not be pleased that you do not trust us to speak to him in private."

"That is as may be," Baal drawls. "But we are not pleased that he does not trust us."

They step into the corridor and I let Jack know.

Now!

Stay still!

Knowing better than to question Jack at this moment, I do as he orders. I see a staff weapon blast fly past the door and hear a yell.

Jack?

Get out of there as quickly as you can, Daniel. Go straight to the anteroom.

I don't need telling twice and slip out as everyone gathers around Baal who is dead on the floor. A Jaffa is picking him up, presumably to take him to the sarcophagus.

"You dare have weapons in this building?!"

It's Osiris yelling at a Jaffa, but Bastet and Kali are equally annoyed. I wonder if they knew beforehand or not and are just pretending to be shocked. In the meantime, I get into the anteroom.

I'm here, Jack.

Good. Pick up a staff weapon.

Why?

Watch.

I look and see that the ends of the weapon are seen, but not the bit in the vicinity of Jack. Well, I'm assuming it's Jack - there's a head of a staff weapon and the end of a staff weapon floating in mid-air, but no middle. This could be fun.

No P90?

Not yet. That's a definite Tauri weapon, Daniel. We need this to stay among the snakes in case the whole plan doesn't work.

Good point. What now?

Back out in the corridor.


The Jaffa in the transport room have disappeared into the corridor. This could be a help.

Jack? Daniel? What's going on?

It's spook time, Sam, Daniel replies. Jack's killed Baal. How long he'll stay dead is another matter.

If we get out of here and blow the place, it will be permanent.

True. But...

Daniel?

Sarah.

Shit. Of course. But how...?

We have a plan, Sam. Just wait for the word.

Okay, I can do that. I want to get up to the ship, though. I need Teal'c.

-

I hear more shouts from the corridor. Now the door's open I can look out. Huh? Oh! It must be the boys. I see two staff weapons floating in the air, pointing at Bastet and Kali. Osiris is in-between them.

Sam! Get ready to run.

Okay... Teal'c? Are you in position?

I am. You must hurry. Osiris' ship is also getting into position.

Are you in a lower orbit?

Of course.

Great. See you in a minute.

Bastet and Kali are staring at the staff weapon heads, Osiris is stunned. I'm not sure what that snake is going to do. Talk about a 'heart in the mouth' moment.


Only a matter of seconds has passed since I shot Baal, but it seems like five minutes - or an aeon. Not really sure. Anyway, it's time to blow.

Daniel. Fire.

We fire simultaneously and watch as the two snakes hit the deck. Osiris is on her toes and ready to run. This is what we wanted.

She isn't saying anything, just running to the transport rings. Jaffa are pouring into the corridors so Daniel and I take off at a run, dropping the staff weapons so we don't give away our position. They're firing at us - or rather they might be firing at Osiris. Whatever, it's getting hot!

Inside the transport room. Sam confirms she's in the rings. Osiris is entering them. I see her lifting her arm and getting ready to press the ring control.

Daniel?

I'm in!

Okay, let's g... FUCK!

JACK?

DO IT!

The familiar weird sensation of being turned into molecules and blasted through space is upon me in moments. I open my eyes and realise that Teal'c has pulled it off. We're on Mia, and not Osiris' ship as we could have been. Not that we're in the clear.

I see Osiris looking around in shock and she's just about to operate the rings again when my world goes blac...


We're on, Teal'c! GO!

I hear the order and, as O'Neill says, I floor it. Getting the ship in place to receive the others was most important, as Osiris' ship was in position for Osiris to transport up to it. They must be expecting him at any moment and will soon enquire as to his whereabouts.

A flash on the planet catches my attention via the view screen. It is a huge explosion, tearing a hole in the side of the planet.

Samantha?

I used the remote, she tells me, sounding like she is dealing with something else. I would go to assist her but I cannot leave the ship's controls. There are many ships in this solar system, all in our vicinity. Now they are starting to move and I must fly 'by the seat of my pants'. I am not totally sure about the meaning of that phrase, but it seems oddly appropriate.

What is happening, Samantha?

Jack's hurt. Daniel's battling with Osiris. Hang on... Right! Open the cargo bay door, Teal'c!

I do as she asks and see her, out of the corner of my eye, entering the peltac with Osiris in front of her, a gun at the Goa'uld's head. Daniel is also visible, he is carrying O'Neill who would appear to be unconscious.

"We need something to secure Osiris," Samantha announces.

I inform her that O'Neill acquired handcuffs when we were on Earth for just this purpose. After capturing Morrigan, he wished to have as many facilities for keeping potential future prisoners as 'safe' as possible.

"They are in the storeroom, Samantha. Daniel, put O'Neill on the floor and take over security."

I see that he is reluctant to do this, but it is necessary. He lays O'Neill on the floor and takes his gun and points it at Osiris' head. Samantha rushes off to get the handcuffs. Osiris is left with a smile.

"You would not kill my host," he says to Daniel. "You care too much for her."

I hear Daniel laugh. It is, for once, not a pleasant sound.

"Don't believe it, Osiris. You see, I'd happily kill her to release her from the torture of carrying you. I would have no regrets about it, either. No, the only reason we captured you was to get information."

"You think that I believe that you do not care for her?"

"I don't care what you believe, Osiris. And like I said, caring for someone can mean ending the suffering. I have no qualms about that. Ask Sarah. She'll tell you that I'm an advocate of voluntary euthanasia when there is no hope and only the prospect of a lingering, painful, undignified death. I see having a snake in your head as being no better than a terminal disease."

Osiris is quiet now. I do believe that Daniel has surprised him.

Samantha is back and has attached one cuff to Osiris' arm and is now attaching the other cuff to a part of the bulkhead. A second set of cuffs attaches the other hand to the same place.

"Get the first aid pack, Sam," Daniel orders as he drops to the floor.

I have to turn away and look at the screen as I hear more and more panic among the Jaffa on the various ships. Another ship has just entered the solar system.



There's something really strange about SG-1. We've been in the air - in space - for eight hours. I've eaten. I've taken a piss. They haven't. Oh, they say they've eaten, they sneak around and act as if they're doing what I'm doing, but they haven't eaten in front of me and they're most definitely hiding something. Trouble is, I can't find out what's up.

Every time I try to follow one of them, another one pops up and distracts me. It's as if they can hear me creeping up on them. I've tried questioning them, but they aren't letting on. It's as if... It's as if they are not SG-1. But they look like them. When they do speak, they sound like them. I've brought up some past details, little things that an impostor wouldn't know, and they have replied as I would expect SG-1 to reply. They know everything.

I know they're not those aliens we had in the foothold event, either. I brought the subject up - as part of my 'investigation', making it sound like I was making small talk. But I think they saw through it. At one point, Jack opened his shirt and showed me that he didn't have one of those devices on him. To be fair, he looked good for a guy his age.

They won't tell me where we're going, either. Doctor Jackson just says he has to check out some things before we land. I'm hoping it's going to be somewhere lush. Tropical beaches, plenty of fruit on the trees, maybe some tropical beauties... Either that or a bustling city. Plenty of nightlife, clubs, clubbing beauties...

"How long before we arrive?" I push.

Teal'c looks at me, his face totally unreadable. Then he says, "Approximately seven hours."

Seven hours, eh? Well, if they haven't eaten by then, I'll know for sure that something's happened to them to make them change physically (it's the only thing I can come up with at the moment, but it's a good theory.)

Another thing that's strange is the fact that they're not really speaking to each other. I guess that after so many years together, they don't need to say much. I know they're capable of exchanging a lot of information with just a glance. But they're unnaturally quiet.

"Maybourne. There's some food for you."

"Thank you, Doctor Jackson," I reply. "Are you going to be joining me?"

"I ate when I was preparing it," he says.

I wonder.



"Jack, wake up. Come on, Jack. Don't do this to me."

He's lying on the floor, a staff weapon burn in his side. It looks bad. Really bad.

"I could heal that for him if I had access to a healing device."

I look up at Osiris and shake my head.

"For one thing, we don't have one. For another, I wouldn't trust you to not kill him."

"He is dying anyway. What have you got to lose?"

I look at Sam, then Teal'c and actually let out a little laugh.

"A lot, Osiris. A lot."

"Daniel."

I turn and look at Teal'c.

"What is it?"

"The new ship. It is Yu."

"Um... okay. Sam, take over here with Jack, but keep your eye on Osiris. If he moves, shoot him."

We've taken all technology off him - I very nearly gave the order for Sam to strip him naked just to be sure. It may yet come to it. But what this means is that we can be sure that there is no personal shield. Osiris knows he's in danger, so he's staying still.

"Sure thing, Daniel."

She gets on her knees next to Jack. We've made him as comfortable as we can, considering it's the floor he's lying on, and now we have to get out of here so we can get him somewhere he can be treated.

"Teal'c, call up Yu on the comms. Make it audio only."

"Very well."

I wait for Teal'c to talk to Yu's Jaffa and then Yu's distinctive voice comes over the comms.

"Daniel Jackson?"

"It is. Listen up Yu, I've got news for you. See that really big ship?"

"I do."

"That belongs to Anubis. He sent Osiris to Baal's meeting and they were planning on uniting to take you out, then the Tauri. They seem to think that we are working together."

"They do? That is most unfortunate."

"Yeah, well... unless a miracle happened, Baal, Bastet and Kali are dead. I'm not sure where the other System Lords were, but they weren't at the meeting."

"How do you know they are dead?"

"We blew them up. Good enough for you?"

I hear a little laugh come over the comms.

"What of Osiris?"

"What of him?" I reply. My own voice sounds a little amused. "Let's just say you won't be bothered by him again, either. But in the meantime, that ship really needs taking out. If you can get the Jaffa on the other ships on your side, I don't see why you can't do that."

"How would I persuade them to do that?" he drawls. He knows how, I'm sure.

"Yu, why don't you tell them that Osiris ordered the killing of their lords? I'm sure that would get them on your side. Whatever - that's your problem. If you don't get them on your side, you're going to be on your own when Anubis comes after you. And you can guarantee that he will. Oh, and by the way, you have a traitor in your ranks. We heard Osiris say that they know you're up to something. He virtually admitted to having a spy there."

There is a silence, then he speaks. "Thank you for the information. I suggest that you leave here now."

"Oh, we're already gone, Yu. Been nice doing business with you."

"Until we meet again, Daniel Jackson."

"Um... yeah. Till then."

No way am I going to meet him again if I can help it. Next time, we'll be on opposite sides.

Teal'c makes the jump to hyperspace.

"Teal'c, take us to the nearest safe planet with a gate."

"Very well. Is there anything else I can do for O'Neill?"

"No. We just need to get him to help as soon as possible."


Jack's breathing is shallow. I'm glad he's unconscious, or else he would be in agony. The advantage, if you can say it like that, of a staff weapon blast is that it cauterises the wounds, so he's not bleeding badly, even if his skin is red raw. The less said about the hole in his side, the better.

Daniel has dropped back down to take care of him, so I pick up my gun and watch Osiris like a hawk.

It must have been killing Daniel to talk to Yu and not to be giving the order to run sooner, but it was the right thing to do. The Tok'ra will have to find out what happened after we left.

Even though I'm watching Osiris - who is staying silent and looking pretty vicious - I've positioned myself so I can see Daniel, too. He's fighting hard to keep control of his emotions.

Daniel? He'll be fine.

He'd better be.

Teal'c, how long before we get to the planet?

It should be about thirty minutes.

Good. I hear Daniel's planning mind start to take over. He needs to make plans, if only to take his mind off the possibility that he's going to lose Jack. When we get there, we have one of two options, the way I see it.

Oh? What are they?

I see Osiris watching us like a hawk, possibly confused because we're not talking.

One, we can put Mia down and all of us go through to the Tok'ra. We need to get Jack to the healing device - and that's the priority.

Agreed.

Two, you can put Jack and me down and we'll go through to the Tok'ra. You go back to Annwn and bring Osiris through to the Tok'ra after that.

I don't like the sound of that, Daniel.

I know, it doesn't sound good, but think of this. By doing it that way, you two only have to concentrate on watching Osiris, and it will give the Tok'ra time to prepare to hold him. They could even go to Annwn to meet you and help out.

I see what you are saying, Daniel, Teal'c says. But the longer we hold Osiris, the greater the risk that he will at least attempt an escape.

Good point. Um, it's likely to happen when we put down, anyway. Ideas? Suggestions?

I have one, I say, and proceed to explain it.


"GAH!"

"Jack? Oh fuck, you would choose now to wake up, wouldn't you? Lie still!"

Okay, okay, I am not going to move. That hurts like fuck.

"What's going on?" I gasp.

"Sam blew the palace," Daniel says gently. "We've got Osiris here and we're going to go get you healed up."

He looks at me with a wink and continues. We're going to the Tok'ra, Jack, but we're not saying that out loud. Let Osiris think that we're going back to Earth. I think that he'll feel more secure among the Tauri than the Tok'ra.

How will you do this?

We're going to a safe planet - an uninhabited one. We'll be there in a minute. Teal'c will put us down, then we'll gate out to the Tok'ra.

But Osiris will know the address.

Don't worry, Jack. It's all in hand. You just rest.

I feel like shit. I don't want to move. I'm not sure how I'm going to walk to the gate.

"We have arrived."

Teal'c's voice tells me that I'd better grit my teeth. This is going to hurt.

To take my mind off it, I look at the others. Sam's got her P90 pointing directly at Osiris' head. Teal'c's undoing one of the handcuffs from the bulkhead. That was such a good idea of mine. Buying the handcuffs, that is. And both Teal'c and Daniel thought I had a different reason for them...

"Teal'c, cuff her, er, him to you," I order. That should at least stop that snake from running.

"There will be no need for that, O'Neill."

"Huh?"

As soon as the other cuff is undone, Osiris - rather predictably if you ask me - tries to make a run for it. Damned snake gets all of two strides from Teal'c (who hasn't bothered moving) before Daniel zats her. Him. Whatever.

"Ah, I see. Good thinking."

"We did not want Osiris to see where we were going," he intones as he picks up the lifeless body and slings it over his shoulder. Sam quickly uses the cuffs again - this time to cuff the hands together and then the other pair to cuff Sarah's tiny ankles. Neat.

Daniel's looming.

"Daniel?"

"You can do this one of two ways, Jack. Either I carry you conscious, or..."

"Ya knock me out?"

"Yeah. Figured that would hurt less in the long run."

He's got a point. With a sigh, I stick my chin out and...


Daniel puts down the zat and lifts O'Neill over his shoulder, trying to avoid knocking O'Neill's injury as he does. Samantha acts as our 'hands', opening the doors, making sure that we are secure, and constantly watching Osiris as she does.

The ship is still cloaked and Samantha secures it before going directly to the DHD. To be sure of Tok'ra anonymity, I make certain that Osiris cannot possibly see the address as she dials it. Just in case Osiris is awake and just pretending to remain unconscious.

"Come on, we have to get Jack there," Daniel urges. "His breathing is getting shallower."

Without waiting for us, Daniel runs through the gate. Samantha urges me through next and then follows us, her gun pointing in my direction.

I hear her calling on the communicator for Tok'ra assistance as we swiftly make our way to the rings. We have visited their encampment here before, so we are aware of their location.

"Dad? Selmac? Come in!"

Samantha is sounding more and more anxious as we hear nothing. She calls some other Tok'ra names, but still we get no answer. Finally, the rings operate, just as we are about to enter them.

"Garshaw! Quickly, we need to get Jack to the healing device!"

"That may not be possible," she replies. "The scientists are running tests."

Without letting her step out of the rings, we all enter them and Samantha operates them. When we reappear in the tunnels, she speaks.

"Not good enough! We did your jobs for you, we've got information. And we've got Osiris hanging over Teal'c's shoulder. If you want the information and the snake, you heal him now!."

Garshaw looks at O'Neill, who is still, fortunately, unconscious, and nods.

"This way. But I cannot promise that the machine is available."

"Whatever," Daniel drawls. "You will heal him or we zat Osiris three times. You'll get no information from us then. And that will be the last time we ever do anything for the Tok'ra."

I do believe that Garshaw believes him.

We enter a room in which the healing device is residing. A Tok'ra is about to enter it, a gaping wound in his arm.

"Get out of the way!" Daniel insists.

"What is going on? We are in the middle of experimentation!"

"Irrelevant. You put Jack in this machine now, or else."

The scientist looks at Daniel as if he could crush him and sneers.

"Or else, what?"

"Or else I will personally blow the fucking thing up. Now MOVE!"

Garshaw nods and Daniel lays O'Neill on the table. The machine lies on its side, the table goes inside the hoop which then moves up and down it, lingering over any damage on the body. The other Tok'ra, the injured one, is angry that he must remain injured. I offer to end his suffering; an offer which is quickly declined when he realises that I am Jaffa and therefore unable to operate the Goa'uld hand-held healing device. Daniel's opinions on euthanasia in extremis are, it would seem, not widely-held views.

It will take some time to repair O'Neill. All we can do is wait. Osiris is moving, just a little.

"Garshaw. You must find somewhere to hold Osiris before you do as you wish with him. Do not release his hands and feet or else he will try to escape. Do not trust him."

"Are you able to carry him to our holding cell?"

"I am."

"Then please, follow me. Guards! Accompany us. When Osiris is secure, you must tell us what has happened."

"Dad."

I turn to Samantha and ask, "Samantha? What of him?"

"I want to talk to Dad. We don't talk unless he's here. Send someone to get him."

I hear a sigh from Garshaw.

"He is currently otherwise occupied."

"Then we'll wait."

Samantha's tone is final. Neither Daniel nor myself would dare argue with her, neither do we wish to. I fear we are in for a long wait.



They didn't eat. They haven't rested - and they don't look like they need to. What is this? Super SG-1?

Unfortunately, I'm not going to get a chance to find out as we've arrived at a planet. They're hunched over some readings or other. Which are, of course, in Goa'uld. Now, much as I have a basic working grasp of Goa'uld I can't read this dialect. Which is a pain in the ass.

"So? What's it say?"

"No Jaffa. No apparent dangers."

"Apparent?"

"You want a cast-iron guarantee?" Jack looks at me in astonishment. "It's a dangerous galaxy, Harry. We used to live on a beautiful tropical island until the whole fucking thing erupted."

"So, where do you live now?"

"Elsewhere," he mutters.

"What's with this place? There are a lot of trees here."

"It's endemic," Doctor Jackson drawls. "Wherever you go. Trees, trees and yet more trees. Unless you live in a desert. Of course, if you don't like the idea of a tree-lined planet with a ready-built house to live in, we can always take you to a desert."

"Uh, no. I think I'll pass. A ready-built house, eh?"

"Yup. With sculpted gardens. Really pretty."

"Sounds good. Want to put me down somewhere?"

"Oh, we will, we will. We're just doing some final checks to make sure it's safe."

Funnily enough, that doesn't fill me with great comfort.

"No Jaffa for sure," I hear Major Carter say. "I wonder what happened to them?"

"Either they killed themselves, were picked up by ship or..."

Their voices trail off at this point.

"HEY! This is going to be my home. What's going on? What aren't you telling me? I need to know!"

They look at each other and shrug.

"We, er, were being chased by some Jaffa and ended up here. Long story, not going to tell you the details. Anyway, we managed to strand them here. Not saying how, so don't ask. The 'or' is that their boss may have sent people to ensure their return, that's all."

"No big snarling beasts?" I prompt. Well, I've got to ask.

"Not as far as we are aware. It's why we chose this place. It's as safe as we can make it."

I'm looking into Jack's eyes and I know that he's telling me the truth. I know he can't guarantee the future, but he's going to make every effort to ensure I don't die because of something that he's done, or omitted to do.

"Okay. Let's go down, then."

Jack nods, turns to Teal'c and says, "Put her down as close as you can, Teal'c."

"It will still be about half an hour's walk, O'Neill. There are no large enough clearings closer."

"Whatever. Just do it."

-

So, we're down. It doesn't look any less tree-lined from the ground than from the air. Lots of trees. But it seems pleasant enough - clean air, quiet, birds are singing, and I don't hear any dangerous beasts... Of course, they could be nocturnal in these here parts.

"I could do with some help, here!" I complain as they all start to walk towards wherever it is we're going. They all have weapons. I get two heavy suitcases.

They all look at each other and it would appear that Doctor Jackson has just drawn the short straw. He takes one of my cases off me and carries it with considerable ease. At least, considerably more ease than I have. I know what's in that one, too - lots of books. Well, I figured that even a tropical paradise would get a bit boring, so I've brought all of those books that I promised myself I'd read one day. War and Peace; Lord of the Rings; Robinson Crusoe... Harry Potter and the Prisoner of wherever the fuck it was. Can't pronounce it, that's for sure.

We're walking in silence. I wonder if I can cheer them up a bit?

"HARRY! Stop whistling!"

Okay. How about...?

"For the love of God, don't sing!"

Miseries.



"Daniel?"

"Hey, Jack. How are you feeling?" I look down on him as he starts to try to get up off the table, putting my hand out to help him off.

He looks at his side and sees a huge, burnt hole in his clothes.

"Guess I won't get the nomination for the galaxy's best dressed man, this year, will I?"

"Probably not. Does it hurt?"

"Not anymore. How close?"

"Too fucking close. Your breathing nearly stopped when the machine started working. It's, er, taken a while to fix you."

"Still, it's a lot quicker than when the Doc is let loose on us," he shrugs.

I pull him into my arms and hold him close.

"I'm not arguing," I say quietly.

"Makes a change."

He must feel me chuckling against him as we hold each other tight. He knows I was scared earlier but I couldn't let it show.

"Wait till we get home," he whispers. "We'll have one of those 'oh God, you're still alive' life-reaffirming hot-and-steamy make-out sessions. Whatd'ya say?"

I pull my head back and look into his eyes. "You have the best ideas, Jack."

He drops a kiss on my nose and then he notices that there are others here.

They must be Tok'ra, from their sense of fashion. Nope, they won't be winning any prizes for sartorial elegance either.

I try not to laugh at his observation.

Two of them are looking at me as if I'm scum. What's up with that, Daniel?

Tell you later, Jack. Let's just say I didn't endear myself to them.

Like that's news?

He takes my hand and squeezes it, then I lead him out of the room.

"Where are the others? Osiris?"

"Um, Osiris was taken off to be interrogated, but I doubt very much whether they'll get anything out of him."

"What about Sarah?"

"I've done what I can, Jack. I've asked them to ensure that she gets out of this alive, maybe to go back to Earth..."

"But if she does, she might tell them that we were behind this."

"I know. But we can't insist on her staying here."

"True. Maybe we can come up with a different plan?"

I shrug again - I mean, what more can we do? I felt guilty that Sarah had been taken, even if it wasn't my fault. I've done what I can to get her out of this situation. After that, I don't feel like I have to do anything. Have I become heartless? I know I didn't love her, but still, I've felt responsible for people I hadn't known before. Not this time, though.


Dad came running as soon as he was called. Teal'c and I refused to impart any information to any Tok'ra other than him, and Daniel just stared at Jack, ignoring everyone. I still feel reluctant to talk until Daniel and Jack are with us. Dad's getting a bit frustrated, but I don't really care. I'm tired, I'm hungry and I'm fed up.

"Hey guys."

We turn around and see Jack and Daniel walking into the room. I don't wait, I just get up and hug them both. Teal'c stands up, too and nods at them.

"Good to see you're okay," I tell Jack.

"Like new," Jack answers with a grin. "I'm a whole, new Jack O'Neill."

"Thank God for that," Daniel drawls. "I was getting fed up with the old one."

Mercifully, before Jack can answer, Dad speaks.

"Can we get on with it now?"

We all sit around the Council's big table and tell them what we did on Baal's planet.

"So, they're suspicious?"

"Well, they were," Jack drawls. "Anubis certainly is. If Yu manages to take out his ship and word gets back to him of what happened there, he'll get it confirmed, too."

"Did Osiris mention the Tok'ra's involvement?" Garshaw asks.

"No, but they know that the Tok'ra and Tauri work closely," Daniel answers. "He'll probably put two and two together."

I mention something that makes them sit up. "Anubis has a spy in Yu's ranks. Yu has been told, so hopefully it won't be for long, but in the meantime, it could mean that any information that has passed between Yu and us will be relayed back to Anubis."

"This is not good," Selmac says with a sigh. "Do you think that we are safe here?"

"I don't know," I answer, and the rest of my team shrug. "It may be a good idea to have somewhere to run to if need be."

An uneasy silence descends, then Daniel picks up a data pad and plays with it in a manner that tells the rest of us that he's thinking about something that we won't necessarily like.

Daniel?

Uh... what if Anubis has a spy here?

I was right. I don't like it. Unfortunately, it could be true. Trouble is, how do we find out? I ask the guys and Jack drops his head in his hands. However, this has attracted the attention of the Tok'ra.

"Jack?" Dad says. "What's wrong?"

"Do you have that mind-sucking device handy?"

"Why? Do you think we have a zaytarc?"

"I'm not sure," he replies carefully, shooting Dad a glance to not question him further.

The other Tok'ra are blustering with indignation, but I don't really care, and neither do the rest of us. Dad orders that the zaytarc detector is retrieved. It comes soon, unfortunately with Anise in tow, but we can't have everything.

"Dammit, I wish you guys had doors," Jack mutters. "Look, to be safe and in case there is a zaytarc who goes nutso, I want us to go up to the surface. Anise, you show Sam how it works. Then I want each Tok'ra to come up, one at a time."

Dad opens his mouth to say something but I shake my head. He gives me a small nod, then tells the others that it will be in their own best interests to co-operate.

We go up to the surface and as the detector has its own power supply, we are quickly set up. Anise shows me how to use the device, what to watch out for and so on, and then, surprisingly, she takes the test first. This makes me wonder - is it because she has nothing to hide? Or is it because she's fixed the machine to not react to her? Or am I just getting too suspicious for my own good?

Daniel decides that he should do the questioning, and we're happy to let him.

"Um, Anise," he says. "And, er, Freya. I'm asking you both the same question, especially as we know that symbiote and host can act separately. Anise, are you a spy?"

Talk about directly to the point.

First Anise answers, then we hear Freya when Daniel asks her. At least I assume it's Freya. When Daniel asked her by name there was no reaction. Anyway, both say 'no' and both come up clean. Then I discover why Daniel is doing the questioning. He's now asking less direct questions, ones which could trap the person being questioned.

"Have you ever done something that you would know the Council would disagree with?"

She smiles a little. "Many things, I fear," she replies. "But all scientific. Such as my work on the zaytarc detector. However, they usually come round to seeing things my way in the end."

Daniel grins and nods, then tells her it's clear. Then he calls Dad over. I really don't like the idea of Dad being a spy, but he has to be tested, I guess.


Daniel's going through the same sorts of questions with Jacob and Selmac and fortunately, they both come up clear. We get through the rest of the Council pretty quickly and they're all clean. Then they call up the various Tok'ra from underground, one at a time.

None know why we're questioning them, it's better to keep them on edge. Not only are we doing the zaytarc thing, now that the Council are cleared, they're going back down and checking out the quarters of the various Tok'ra, just in case they beat the machine and have VCDs in their rooms. As the guards that are on Osiris' cell come up, others take their place. We've got four on the door this time. We're absolutely not going to lose this snake.

Jake's hanging around, to give us support as the various Tok'ra are put through the questioning. I think he's also very curious.

"You going to tell me what this is all about?" he asks.

"Pretty much as wrote, Jake. We know that the Tok'ra have been targeted by Anubis before, we also know that he has a spy in Yu's ranks. Surely checking your people out is a good thing? If only to help you sleep at night?"

He nods in understanding, then says wryly, "But until you mentioned it, I wasn't exactly an insomniac."

"Which is possibly why you guys get targeted so easily, Jake. Anyway, when this is done, I want to do the same thing to Osiris."

"Use the zaytarc device on him? Surely you don't think he's going to be a zaytarc?"

"For a start, I wouldn't put it past Anubis to use him like that," I reply. "But secondly, it seems to be a good way of telling whether someone's telling the truth or not. If we had something like that 'Blood of Sokar' around, we could question him as to Anubis' plans and he'd have difficulty in holding back. Use the projector thingy, see the first images that come to mind as you ask the questions."

I see Daniel jump a little as I say that.

Daniel?

You want to see Osiris' memories?

Sure. Why not?

Who's Osiris' host?

Uh, well, Sarah of course.

Don't you think that Osiris would use Sarah's own memories if possible?

Why?

To upset me?

I think for a moment, then realise what Daniel's talking about. No, I don't want more people than necessary to know what Daniel looks like when he comes, either. Knowing Osiris, that snaky bastard would try to embarrass Daniel by thinking of that only.

Uh, okay, Daniel. Sorry, I didn't think about that.

It's okay, he sighs. If it's necessary, then go for it. But it would probably be better if it were only you and I doing the questioning, or neither of us being there. If it's you and some Tok'ra, you can be sure that Osiris will try to rattle you that way.

I get that, Daniel. And don't worry. I can be just as nasty with people's memories as any snake can.

He nearly laughs out loud at that, which is strange as he's questioning an indignant guard about his loyalty.

-

The Tok'ra that looked at me with evil in his eyes is up. He is not happy at being taken from his experimentation again. Daniel told me that he had to fight him off to let the device treat me before the guy with a cut on his arm. Sounds fishy to me, but then I'm not a Tok'ra.

Daniel's staring into his eyes and I can see, even without the benefit of telepathy, that he has something in mind.

"Please," he says carefully, "look directly into this."

He points to the camera thing and I can see that the Tok'ra is reluctant. The Tok'ra opens his mouth as if to complain, but Daniel shuts him down.

"Do not say anything unless it is to answer a question."

He shuts his mouth quickly. My hand moves towards my trigger. I'm feeling jumpy.

"Right," Daniel drawls. "First of all, let me speak to your host, please."

I see a change in his face.

"Hello," says Daniel. "What is your name?"

"I, er, I am Olen."

"Hi Olen. Can you tell me... Did you become a host voluntarily?"

I see shock in the host's eyes. He wasn't expecting that.

"Um, I, er, yes."

Sam? Did he lie?

I hear Daniel's voice, he's transmitting to all of us.

Not sure. He's so nervous it's hard to tell.

Okay.

I know what Sam means. After all, we were able to confuse it, so perhaps the host's nervousness is innocent. Some people are naturally nervous. We know some Tok'ra hosts that are basically too shy to come out, yet they happily became hosts.

"When did you join with your symbiote?"

"I... I do not know your method of time calculation."

"That's okay, tell us it in yours."

"About three hundred rotations of my home planet."

Daniel turns to look at Jacob. "Selmac? Can you offer a translation for me?"

Jacob's head bows and we hear Selmac's gravelly tones.

"Approximately one hundred and seventy years."

"Thanks, Selmac." He turns to Olen and asks, "I take it you were young when you joined?"

He's late middle-aged now, so it would mean that he would have been pretty young, maybe a teen when they joined, as without the sarc, the host does age, even if at a very slow rate.

"I was."

"Good, good."

Daniel's voice is gentle, understanding, even comforting. Olen hasn't heard any of the other questioning, the true reason for us bringing this up here, so that those underground couldn't prepare themselves.

"So, can you tell me, is your symbiote a spy?"

Total shock registers as Olen blusters a 'no!' to that question.

"That's great," Daniel answers with a smile. "Thank you. May I speak to your symbiote now, please?"

Daniel, I don't think he was telling the whole truth, Sam says. There was something about his responses...

Tell me about it, Sam. You don't need a zaytarc machine to tell that. His body language is speaking volumes.

We see that the more arrogant snake is in control again, and this time Daniel's voice is different. Or rather, it's indifferent. Weird. But cool.


Daniel's interrogation technique is intriguing. He is unlike any other questioner I have ever seen in action. But as most of the interrogators I have seen have employed the use of violence, this is not a surprise.

"Tell me your name," he orders.

"You know who I am."

"Do I?"

Daniel's face is almost conveying amusement. I see that O'Neill is getting what he calls an 'itchy trigger finger'. My own hand moves to the P90 that Samantha gave me when she moved to operate the zaytarc detector.

"My name is Jaia."

"Who do you work for, Jaia?"

"I am Tok'ra."

"You didn't answer the question. Who do you work for?"

I see him gritting his teeth and his breathing is getting more rapid.

"I work for the Tok'ra as a scientist and you are interrupting my research."

"Ah yes, the research," Daniel spits. "Tell me, just why were you inflicting what looked like a painful wound on what I hope was a volunteer? I mean, surely you know that the machine works?"

"I need to find out why the machine works, so that I can make more."

"More. I see. Scanning the interior wouldn't do that? Opening the mechanics of it and looking at them wouldn't do that?"

"It is too valuable to even attempt to open it! Surely even you, with your limited intelligence can see that?"

Ouch! O'Neill teases Daniel, letting us hear him. That's gotta hit below the belt?

Daniel's voice is wry as he replies. Oh no. I've been taking a leaf out of your book, Jack. You know, me just archaeologist. Me dumb.

We do not hear O'Neill's reply to that.

"I can see why you wouldn't take it apart," Daniel replies. "However, just opening it wouldn't cause any harm. Neither would scanning it. And why don't you cut yourself? Surely it's unethical to damage someone else just for the purposes of research?"

"How could I make notes if I am being treated?"

The Tok'ra is becoming more anxious.

Daniel just gives him a cocked-head and a 'hmm' in reply. I see his face change to his 'sneaky' face, as Samantha describes it.

"Tell me," he purrs. "Just how long have you been betraying the Tok'ra to Anubis?"

That is all it takes. Jaia moves, I see him taking something out of his pocket and aiming it at Daniel. I lift the gun in my hand and aim, but O'Neill beats me to it. Before I am able to pull the trigger, the Goa'uld, for that is what he must surely have been, drops to the floor with a gaping wound in his head.

"How did you know?" Selmac asks of Daniel.

"Selmac, if you were in charge of the healing device, you had someone with a comparatively minor wound waiting to be treated and someone who was dying came in, who would you treat first?"

Selmac nods in reply. No words are needed. Scientists, even Tok'ra scientists may well be ruthless and single-minded, but only the evil ones would allow someone to die just to get their results quicker. Even if he had not been a spy, he would certainly have not been suitable to study among the Tok'ra.

"Now, we interrogate Osiris," O'Neill states. "Er, nobody mention this, okay?"

We get mute nods from the stunned Tok'ra and start to pack up the machine. Jaia had been the last one to be tested at Daniel's insistence. Now, we know why.



Wow. This is... very Zen. Hold on, what's that?

"Jack! What the fuck?"

He looks down at some charred bodies and just shrugs. "I see that Oma hasn't had the cleaners in since our first visit," he says.

"Ew! You can't expect me to live here?! What happened to them? Do I want to know what happened to them? Is it going to happen again? WHAT?"

"Don't get your panties in a bunch, Harry," he drawls. "We'll help you clean it up."

"HELP me?"

Doctor Jackson looks at me with a look that I'd rather not see.

"Maybourne. You have one of two choices. Either you accept our help, or you do it yourself. Either way, you're staying here. At least for the time being."

"Time being? And just how long is that supposed to be?"

"That all depends," he sighs.

"On what?"

"On you."

"WHAT?"

I need more information but they've all clammed up. SG-1 always were a pain in the ass but they're going for the record in non-co-operation. I don't want to stay somewhere there are charbroiled bodies, but at the same time I get the feeling that I have no choice. So I have to help out. Damned if I do...

-

Okay, for the record, that was disgusting. I've dealt with death on many occasions, but taking a whole load of burnt Jaffa to a huge pile of wood and finishing them off was distasteful. We had to make sure we had enough wood to start with to get the temperature up high enough to destroy the remains. I am now, officially, exhausted.

What's really pissing me off is SG-1. They're not saying a great deal and they are most certainly not as tired as me. Either there really is something to this 'clean outdoor living' or else they've been enhanced somehow.

"Maybourne, there's a bath in the building," Jack tells me.

I guess I could do with one. I've been sweating hard. They haven't. I will find out what's going on before too long. The curiosity's killing me.

-

This place is weird, but cool. Can't see why there would be a large sand pit in the middle of one of the rooms, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I seem to remember reading the reports of this place. It's got to be Kheb, even if they haven't told me the name of it. It fits in with the descriptions they gave. At least they said that the glowing beings had gone and only Apophis had dared come here. Now he's gone, I should be left alone. I guess Jack does care after all.

I think I can make the most of this place. It's quiet, I've got a roof over my head... A bit of adjustment and it's going to be comfortable. Shame about the lack of tropical beauties and margaritas, but I can't have everything.

"JACK?"

I hear him clomping towards the bathroom. That's what I call service.

"Whatd'ya want, Harry?" he yells as I get out of the bath, look around, and don't see a towel. I open my suitcase - which I was naturally smart enough to bring into the bathroom with me - and pull one out.

"What am I going to do for food?" I ask as I dry myself down. Jack's ignoring me, but what the hell. I know he's fucking Doctor Jackson, so he's probably immune to my charms.

"There's plenty of small wildlife. A lake just behind this building with fish in it. The monk that was here before had to eat something, and Daniel says that he would most likely have been vegetarian, maybe even Jain - whatever that is - so there will be fruit and berries and things for you to pick year-round."

I think about that as I dress, then remember something from the report. As soon as I am dressed, I head out of the bathroom and see that the others are in the next room.

"If I use some sort of weapon..." I say carefully, "is that... glowy being or whatever it was, going to come back and turn me into the local barbecue dish of the day?"

"I doubt it," Doctor Jackson shrugs. "Oma Desala has left the planet."

He announces that as if Oma is Elvis. Coming to think of it, there are those out there that would believe it. Do believe it. But let's be honest here, what would aliens want with post-Las Vegas Elvis? I mean, he wasn't exactly a fine human specimen at the end...

"Um, Daniel?" the delectable Major Carter calls out. "Are you entirely sure about that?"

What the fuck?



We're not taking any chances. Jack and I are in with Osiris. Can someone tell me why?

Daniel, you know that Osiris is more likely to talk to you than anyone else.

I know, I know...

Daniel, shut up and talk.

...?

The worst thing is, I actually do understand what Jack means. The man is a walking oxymoron. Or a walking moron the size of an ox. Haven't made my mind up about that one, yet.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes. In the cell with Jack and Osiris. Sam and Teal'c are on guard duty on the other side of the door with Jacob, and a couple of other Tok'ra are down the corridor. Each side of it. The transport rings are guarded top and bottom, the gate is guarded... Everyone has been given orders to shoot to kill if Osiris somehow manages to escape. Any other snake getting away would be bad enough - but Anubis' sidekick? Disastrous.

"Daniel Jackson. I take it you are here to question me?"

"Could be," I shrug. "Of course, it may not be me that asks the questions."

I get exactly the same look of exasperated bewilderment from both Jack and Osiris. Sweet.

I should mention that Osiris is also tied to a chair and can't move a muscle. I'm not stupid and neither is Jack. We can't use the zaytarc detector - no way will Osiris co-operate enough to use it, so I'm afraid we're going to have to use the projector thingy. Thingy. Listen to me. I've spent far too much time with Jack.

Osiris makes no sound as Jack puts the little device on his head, but I think that Jack took no small pleasure in seeing him wince.

"You will learn nothing from me," he says defiantly.

"Maybe. Maybe not."

I'm not going to allow him to rattle me.

"So, Osiris, just how did Seth manage to get you out of a host and into the canopic jar?"

Osiris freezes and for a moment, we see the face of an Egyptian looking directly at us and a device which looks like the pronged 'knife' that is used to extract symbiotes from a Jaffa's pouch as a punishment. The image we get is only brief, but it's enough to tell us just how painful it must have been for the host. I guess the Egyptian was an early host of Seth.

"Ouch," I say, but with no real feeling. Osiris looks at me as if he wants to kill me. Time to turn the heat up.

"You must have been stuck in the jar for a long time. I doubt you remember much, though."

Of course, the anaesthetic in it would have held Osiris in stasis, but he must have been aware of being placed inside the jar. On cue, we see the lid of the jar and then darkness.

"How did you wake up quickly enough to take Sarah as your host?" I push.

He lingers on this image and we see Sarah holding him in her hands, staring at him in shock. Then there's a flash. Nothing more for a moment, then he tries to upset me by showing the world from Sarah's eyes. Professor Jordan is entering the room. I hear him greet Sarah, then he notices that the jar is open and he starts to rebuke her.

The next thing I see is Sarah picking up the jar and smashing it over his head.

Daniel, don't let him see...

Hey, I know. Game face, right?

Right. You can freak later.

How much beer and wine have we got?

Barrels full.

Not for long.

Osiris does as predicted, trying to use Sarah's memories to rattle me. He shows us an image of Sarah and me in bed together, having sex, her on top and riding me.

"Hey Daniel! Look. Home-made porn. Usually much better than the shop-bought sort. Whatd'ya say?"

Thank you, Jack. Turning it into a bit of a joke has taken all of the sting out of it.

"It's a bit boring," I sigh. "Sarah wasn't exactly adventurous. Now, Osiris, if you really wanted to see someone hot in bed with me, you should have chosen Steven as a host. Not that he was much use as a boyfriend in other respects, but he was such a slut. Would do anything I suggested. And I suggested a lot."

Nice one, Daniel. That's the spirit.

Hey, it's the truth.

It's having the desired effect and the screen goes blank. I decide to crank it up a bit and move behind Osiris, dipping my head down until my lips are near Sarah's ear. A particular shiver point for Sarah and... Oh yeah, it works on Osiris, too.

"I remember," I whisper. "I know what drives you out of your mind."

Jack is treated to an image of a much younger me grabbing hold of Sarah and pushing her up against a door. Then he sees the ceiling, which isn't a surprise as she always used to arch her back and look up when I did that.

Jack - I know it's weird, but stare at the screen and get ready to remember something quickly. Get something to mark it down with.

There's no pen and paper, but when asked, Jacob provides a data pad with a stylus - kind of like a PDA.

Um, okay, I'm ready.

"I remember," I repeat. "I know what you look like when I was holding you at the brink of orgasm, not letting you get off, making you beg me."

We see me in front of her, I'm naked, lying over her, we can hear Sarah pleading with me.

"Tell me, where is Anubis?"

And there we get it. A look at a DHD with the symbols lit. I stare at it, so does Jack and hopefully, between ourselves, we've got the address. Jack scribbles something down, I look at it and add the final two glyphs. Between us, we know we've got Anubis' homeworld.

"Do not think that you will win!" Osiris yells. "I shall not remain here for long."

"No, you won't," I agree. "But don't think that Jaia will be coming to get you out."

Sarah's mouth drops open in shock. The reality dawns and now Osiris is afraid.

"I will not allow the host to survive," he says, and I see Sarah's face suddenly grimace. I hear her voice call out to me, "DANIEL! It's killing me!"

I cannot react. I want to, I want to plead with Osiris to stop, but I know I can't.

"I'm sorry, Sarah. But you're better off dead. Better that than living with that creature in your head."

The pained look goes and Sarah's voice is replaced with Osiris'. "I thought you cared about her."

"I told you before, Osiris. I do care. Kill her if you will; at least it will mean she'll be free of you."


I don't know how Daniel did it. I don't know how he kept his face so straight - his voice so cold. He was right to do so, but I know it must have been tearing him apart. Jack nods and we let down the force field. They leave the cell and the force field goes back up. Osiris is still tied up. Now we have what we want, I guess it's time to extract the Goa'uld from the host if at all possible.

None of us are mentioning the more erotic moments of the questioning. We know that Daniel was concerned by this, but it was the only way. No way could any of us have conned Osiris into answering the way he did.

I think that Daniel's gone up to the surface. He must want to be alone as Jack's still with us.

"Here, Jake. This is Anubis' homeworld. Do with the information as you will."

"We should tell Yu," Dad says. "Perhaps it could help him."

"Maybe, but we know that there's a spy in Yu's ranks, so possibly by telling him, we'll be alerting Anubis to what's been going on."

"Good point. I'm sure we can find a way, though."

Dad takes the information with him and leaves the three of us alone.

"Jack?"

"Leave him alone," Jack says, answering the unasked question. "He'll talk later."

We see a contingency of Tok'ra coming down the corridor. I guess Osiris' number is up.

"Garshaw," I catch hold of her and pull her to one side. "What are you going to do?"

"We shall extract the Goa'uld. It can be done with a relatively small risk to the host."

"What if the snake wants to kill her?"

"We will sedate them first. The chemical recipe for the sedative that your Doctor Frasier made and gave to us has proved most useful in cases such as this."

"That's good. What of Sarah, then?"

"It will be her choice. She will be questioned, naturally, as any information she can remember could help us. After that, if she wishes to remain with the Tok'ra, she may. Failing that, if she wishes, she may return to Earth. I dare say that the SGC will be willing to accommodate her."

Garshaw then turns to Jack. "Will Doctor Jackson wish to speak to the host? I am led to believe that they were once friends?"

Jack is silent for a moment, then he answers, "No. I think he feels guilty for what he sees as torturing Sarah. I don't think he can face her. Look, when you get her away from that snake, could you do me a favour?"

"Name it. After all of your hard work, I think we should do what we can."

"Thanks. Just take Sarah to one side and explain Daniel's position to her, would ya? I don't think he could bear it if she hated him. Then make sure she's safe and let us know where she is, please."

"Consider it done," Garshaw says gently. "I shall see to it personally. Now, what are you going to do?"

"Now, we go back and get our ship and then we go home. We'll be taking just over a day to get there, so don't be surprised if no one's home."

She smiles and nods and then Jack walks off.

Jack, let me say goodbye to Dad, please.

Sure. I'd like a couple of minutes alone with Daniel before we get on the ship anyway.

I grab Teal'c's hand and pull him after me. Without looking back, we walk away, deliberately ignoring the shouts of Osiris as they enter the cell to finish what we started.


I don't know what I'm going to say to Daniel. Oh, I know I usually bluster my way through things, but psychology really is outside of my experience. Doesn't stop me trying, though.

I appear on the surface and see him immediately. He's sitting on a rock, staring out into space. Without saying a word, I sit next to him and take his hand in mine. We sit in silence for a while, ignoring the guards up here as best we can. Eventually, he speaks.

"Nothing to say, Jack?"

"Nope."

He laughs a little. It's not a nice laugh.

"Do you think she hates me?"

"Possibly. But I've asked Garshaw to explain the reasons behind it. Sarah was smart, right?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Well, chances are, once she's gotten over the worst of the trauma, she'll understand."

"Will she forgive me?"

"Probably. I'm sure that when she remembers the horrors of being possessed she'll appreciate what you were trying to do for her. It's not as if it was your fault she got snaked in the first place, is it?"

"No, it's not. But then that probably wouldn't stop her from blaming me."

"PMT?" I tease.

"Permanent case. Or rather in her case, it was three weeks of PMT followed by one week of relative calm."

"I take it you weren't together long?"

"No, not very. I only went out with her to piss Steven off anyway. But still, we worked together well."

"I get it." Silence falls again for a while, then I say, "So, how long are you going to mope?"

He pokes me in the arm, but he doesn't answer.

I let go of his hand, then I wrap my arm around his back and hug him close to me. He responds by resting his head on my shoulder, reaching over with the hand furthest away from me and taking my free one. He entwines his fingers in mine and we just sit for a while, holding on to each other and waiting for the other two to come to the surface.

-

Time to go. We're at the gate. Word has come through that Sarah is free of Osiris but is currently sedated because she freaked out.

"Um, does anyone remember the co-ordinates of the planet we left the ship on?"


Using a stargate chart and calculating the position of the planet we left the ship on, as much by luck as by judgement, we actually managed to hit the right planet first time. As O'Neill says, miracles do happen.

Daniel is still quiet, wrapped up in his thoughts. O'Neill has reiterated his instructions for us to stay away from him - or rather he said, 'Don't nag the kid, right?'. However, both Samantha and I have informed Daniel that we are available for him if he wishes to speak.

It will take just over a day to fly home. It will seem like a lot longer.



"Shifu! Oma, hello."

Doctor Jackson seems pleased to meet the people... er, beings that have turned up. Oma is basically a human face surrounded by glowing white... stuff. Shifu, however, looks like a Buddhist monk. He's only a kid. Hang on, I seem to remember hearing about something that happened after my, er, Siberian exploit. Damn, I wish I could remember the details. Something about a kid and some teaching dream or other.

I shouldn't have known that but I had some insider information which SG-1 really don't want to know about. Well, they probably do, but I'm not going to tell them. Never know when I'll need that source again. Trouble was, he'd give me some info, but not enough. Dammit.

"Hello, Daniel," the kid says. "It is good to see you again."

"Same here. I wasn't aware that you had returned here."

The kid is silent for a few moments, then he says, "Oma says that she sensed that a troubled soul needed help."

"Ah, that would be Maybourne, here." He points to me and I smile in greeting. Hold on...

"Hey! What do you mean, troubled soul? I'm fine!"

"Right," Jack drawls. "Sure you are, Harry. You just keep on believing that, too."

Damned kid smiles as the so-called elite team laugh.

Now he looks confused. "Oma says that she senses that something is not well with you and your friends, Daniel. There is something missing."

They all look at each other in silence and then I get the shock of my life.

"Um, that's because we're not exactly who you think we are," Doctor Jackson says. If it is him.

"Oma feels that part of your soul is missing."

"Not missing," he replies. "We're not human."

-

It took me a while to recover from that. Not that I'd admit it.

"I knew something was wrong with you!"

"Harry, what are you talking about?"

"You don't eat, you don't sleep, you don't get tired, you are stronger than normal..."

"Took you a while, eh?"

"Jack, if you are Jack, shut up. I worked out that something wasn't right not long after we met. Remember I pointed out you looked old again? So, what are you? Jaffa? Aliens? What?"

"Androids," Major Carter says simply. "Um, the others met up with Harlan again," she adds with a shrug.

"The weird android?"

"Yeah. Anyway, he zapped them, made us and not long after, the place started falling apart and so did he. We've been working with MIA, um, SG-1 as you'd know them since then."

"So the ones I met in Minnesota?"

"Were them."

"But they looked a lot younger!"

"Ah. Accident with a fountain of youth. You know how it goes, Harry."

I do? Sure I do. This is SG-1. Weird shit happens to them on a daily basis. Why shouldn't being made younger and copied into androids be perfectly normal for them?

"So, they're okay with... um... you?" Well, I've got to ask.

"Sure. It's good to have someone to talk to," Jack shrugs.

A silence falls and then the kid speaks up again.

"Oma wishes to know what it is you wish to accomplish by bringing him here," he says, pointing at me. I really hate being talked about like that. But I might learn something by listening, so I'm keeping my mouth shut.

"He needs somewhere to stay for now," Doctor Jackson or whoever he is answers. "He has helped us protect the SGC from elements of our government that were trying to control it. Dangerous elements. We owed him one."

"And so you brought him here to aid in his quest for enlightenment?"

Enlightenment? About time too. If someone's going to tell me exactly what's going on I might actually end up on the planet of tropical beauties.

"Yes, well, we brought him here because it's supposed to be safe. We haven't found another planet where there was a ready-made building for him to live in, a food source and a lack of Goa'uld involvement."

"Why did you not take him to a planet where others live?"

"Because the only planets we could take him to are occupied by people we like." Jackson's answer is given so glibly that I really think he believes that.

"Hey! That's really not very nice! What have you got against me? Haven't I done what I said I'd do?"

"Maybourne, you did what you said you'd do because it suited you. You wanted revenge even more than we did. Besides, we've kept up our end of the bargain. We said we'd get you some safe place to stay and we have. We don't have to like you."

"I can just feel the love."

"I see your imagination's improved."

How very like the real Doctor Jackson. He seems like a harmless nerd, but underneath he's a real shrew. Guess the sex must be good. Why else would Jack put up with him?

-

They've decided it's time to go. Jackson went for a walk with the kid, the glowy thing disappeared and it gave me a chance to talk to the robot masquerading as Jack.

"So, are you really Jack?"

"I remember everything the human Jack does up to the point at which I was created. After that, I'm my own man."

"I seem to remember that the other Jack wasn't too pleased to have been, what, cloned? Copied? Anyway, whatever it is. The first time it happened the report stated that he wasn't happy."

"True, but this is different. And don't ask why."

Seeing as this Jack seems to be more stubborn than the other one (a feat I didn't think possible), I know I'm not going to get details. Normally I'd ask anyway, but a super-Jack could and probably would kill me easily.

"Who's the kid?"

Jack is silent for a moment, then he shrugs. "Daniel's wife's son."

"What, you mean the harcesis kid? Surely he's a bit old for that?"

"Alien influence. And don't try to get any information out of him, you'll fail. It's not worth your while, either, Harry. Oma's taken over the role of mother and believe me, you do not want to piss her off. She makes me look like a pussycat."

"She was responsible for the chargrilled Jaffa, huh?"

"Oh yeah. And if you go south of this place, you'll see the remnants of one of Apophis' mother ships and various gliders. None of which are usable, by the way. They were disintegrated."

"Wow. Okay, so no messing with the kid's head."

"Not if you want to keep yours. Trust me on this, Harry. If you want to live, you need to behave."

I pretend that I'll stay put and keep quiet. He doesn't have to know that I know there's a stargate on this planet and I know some other places I can go.

"It is time to go." The robot Teal'c announces and Jackson comes back to his team.

"Be good, Harry," Jack says.

"I will. And, um, thanks."

"Welcome. We'll come back when we think the time's right."

I watch them as they go, not looking back. You'd think they'd wave or something. Ah well, I can't have everything. I turn around and see the kid right in front of me.

"You know, they didn't tell me where there was a drinking-water supply," I say to him. "I'm kinda thirsty."

He nods, takes me inside and waves towards what looks like a faucet.

There's a cup next to it, so I pour some, drink it...

...And spit it out.

"That's foul! Surely there's some fresh water there?"

The kid looks me in the eye and says, "Oma says that when a cow drinks water, it becomes milk. When a snake drinks water, it becomes poison."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"As is one's thought, so is reality."

"Am I going to get a straight answer?"

The kid just smiles. I am in deep shit.

"JACK! JACK! Come back here now!"

He's not coming back! Where the hell is that stargate?



We're home. At last. The guys were great on the trip back, they just left me alone to think about what happened. I'm glad to know that Sarah's going to be okay, but I'm also glad I didn't have to face her. She can be very manipulative and I know that she would make me feel bad about what happened to her, even if it really wasn't my fault.

I'm tired, the others are tired... we've skipped the evening meal, none of us are up to cooking and one of the big downsides to living out here is no pizza delivery. We'll eat in the morning.

Jack's got into bed next to me and he's pulled me into his arms. We haven't said much, just wished each other goodnight. Tomorrow, we'll try to return to normal. Whatever that is.

-

"Good morning, Daniel."

Oh fuck, do I have to wake up? What's that? Coffee? Oh, okay, gimme.

That's better, I feel a little more awake now. Where's Jack?

"Jack?"

"I'm in the bathroom, Daniel."

Bathroom. Good idea. It takes a bit of effort but I do manage to get out of bed and into the bathroom. I feel as stiff as a board.

Jack's in the bath. Can't say I blame him.

"Room for another?" I ask as I take a leak.

"Room for a battalion," he shrugs. "Come on in, the water's fine."

I clean my teeth - it usually helps me to feel a little bit more awake when my mouth doesn't taste like I've been eating mud - and then drop down into the water next to him.

"Sit here, Daniel," he says quietly, indicating the space between his legs. I am so there.

Oh yes, this is the life. He's pushed me to lean forward a bit and I feel his warm, oily hands on my shoulders as he massages me.

"Hmm, that's lovely," I moan, rolling my neck around, surprised when it doesn't crack.

"It's been a tough couple of days, huh?"

"Yeah, it has. I'm glad it's all over. How do you think things are going to go with Yu and Anubis?"

"I don't know. Whatever happens, there will most likely be a space battle, so whoever wins will be lacking in Jaffa and ships later on. Can't be bad."

"No, not bad. Let's hope that Yu was able to persuade the other ships in Baal's system to aid him."

"I think they would. Placing the blame for the demise of their gods squarely in Anubis' lap would fire them up."

We stay silent for a while - well, as silent as 'hmm' and 'ooh' gets - and then I think...

"Jack, I wonder what happened to MIB and Maybourne?"

"Ah, ya had to mention him, didn't ya?"

"What?"

"Here I was, being the kind, supportive SO, trying to make your limbs loose, warming you up from the inside, so to speak, and you said the M word."

I turn around and face him, kneeling in front of him as I do.

"Huh?"

"If ever I need to lose an inconvenient erection, I think of Harry. Nothing guaranteed to work quicker. Especially if I imagine him naked."

"You imagine Maybourne naked?"

"To put me off!" he insists.

"Ah. I see. So, you didn't want to be put off now?"

"Um, no?" he says, his voice questioning in a manner that suggests he's being suggestive - but he's not sure how receptive I'll be.

"So... You need to be, um, encouraged again?"

"It might take some work, Daniel. That was a pretty nasty thing to say to me."

I try not to laugh. He's keeping a straight face but his eyes are twinkling.

"I apologise," I tell him seriously. "Let me make it up to you."

"Please dO!"

I have to stop myself laughing as his voice rises when I straddle his lap. With no dodgy knees, he can take my weight without too many problems. My dick brushes his and I feel them both twitch and start to grow. I think I'll take this slow.

My tongue darts out and I lick his lips. I feel his hot breath against it. His mouth is only open a short way, just enough for me to feel the tips of his teeth when my tongue pushes in a little. My hands are on the back of the bath, his are holding onto my hips. I feel his fingers digging into my skin as I move my face, dragging my lips over his cheeks, my bottom lip is pulling back, opening my mouth wider, though not all the way. He can feel my breath on his face, his own breathing is shallow.

He's hard now, me too. I push my hips closer to his and our cocks clash between our stomachs. I'm not going to do too much more in that vein yet. I don't want this to end.

Our faces twist until we kiss; slowly, languidly, we're taking our time and making the most of just being together. I feel his fingers leave my hips, they're travelling around my back and down to my ass. It's my turn to speed up my breathing when I feel the tips of one hand slide between the cheeks.

Our kissing gets more passionate, more desperate. I've let go of the bath and hold Jack's head firmly.

He pulls back.

"Jack?"

"Let's take this to the bedroom, Daniel," he whispers.

"Okay," I swallow hard. "Be quick."

He laughs a little and I get off him as rapidly as I can. He's taking it a bit easier, letting the water out, grabbing a towel and slowly rubbing his body dry. I'm not taking it as easily as him, rubbing the towel quicker, harsher, loving the fact that it makes my skin tingle. He's not taking his eyes from mine and now he's prowling towards me. My breathing is so shallow it's like I'm not breathing at all. He's getting closer.

I'm not moving. I can't move. We're nose to nose now but I still can't move.

"Face the wall, Daniel."

So much for the bedroom... I'm not going to complain.

I hear him reaching for something from the bathroom shelf nearby, then feel his body heat as he moves right next to me. He's stopped speaking, knowing that sometimes I just like it like this - rough, needy, almost anonymous.

I feel my feet being kicked apart and I put my hands on the wall and push my ass back a bit. There's no kissing, no relaxing me, it's not necessary. He's ready, pushing inside of me, I'm welcoming him, pushing back to greet him.

The only sound is our panting breaths, the slap of his skin on mine and the guttural grunts from us both. He reaches around to grab my cock but I smack his hand away. I don't want to come. Not yet.

He moves his hands onto my shoulders and grips hard as he speeds up, thrusting into me so forcefully he's lifting me onto my toes with every push. I know from the sound of his breathing and the rhythm that he's reached that he won't be long, so I push back again, trying to get him inside me all the way. He roars out loud and I feel him coming inside of me. So good. So fucking good.

He rests his head on my shoulder, his arms slide down and around my waist. As he notices that I haven't come yet, his fingers start to wrap around my dick.

"No," I gasp. "Not yet. Bed! Now!"

With a happy moan, he pulls out of me and somehow makes it to the bed on shaking legs.

I'm using every ounce of self-control that I have to not come. I feel like I'm on a hair trigger and need to calm down. Which is hard, when all I want to do is fuck his brains out.

He's laying on his back, watching every move that I make. I take my time, using every spare moment to calm myself. Deliberately, I go to the big pot of lube on the bedside table and put plenty on my hand, then I stroke myself carefully, covering my cock with it. I see Jack swallow as the anticipation grows in him. I put more lube on my fingers, then kneel on the bed.

His legs open, he draws his knees back and I slide my fingers inside him. He's more than relaxed, more than ready for me. As soon as he's lubed, I lift his feet onto my shoulders, shuffle closer to him on my knees and slide on in there. It feels good - better than good. Hot, welcoming... Home.


I'm lying flat on my back, shuddering and shivering from orgasm. I think it was my third. I lost count. Teal'c loves to make me come before he makes love to me. He uses his fingers, his tongue... anything that it takes to make me cry out with pleasure.

Now he's lying over me, getting ready to finally pleasure himself. I know I'll come again as he pushes inside of me. He takes it slow, as if he's moving to a metronome in his head. A steady beat designed to take me to the brink and pull me back again, time after time after time. I've never had another lover that was anything like as good as him. Never had one so caring, so thoughtful. Or so big. Oh yeah, baby... here I go agAIN!

-

Jack and Daniel are touching at every opportunity. Breakfast was a quiet, but happy affair. Teal'c was smiling. Jack says that Teal'c smiling is unnerving, but I'm used to it. At least when it's just the two of us, he smiles a lot. Especially when he's had sex. Typical guy, I guess. Have sex with them and then they turn into gibbering idiots, prepared to do whatever it takes to make you happy on the off chance it'll get them laid again. Like I'd say 'no' to him!

I know what it is with the guys, though. After Jack's life-threatening injury and Daniel's upset, they feel the need to connect. I understand. To be frank, I'm touching them whenever I can get away with it. They don't mind. I've been hugged more by them this morning than I have in months.

We were always close when we lived on Earth, but moving out here has caused a sea change in how we show our feelings for each other. We only have each other now - there is no realistic backup, no one waiting to send out a search and rescue team if we get into trouble. And we only have each other to turn to. Arguments would only cause deep unhappiness so we try to avoid them. Hiding our feelings is also no longer necessary.

Jack can say out loud that he loves me in a way that would have been inappropriate back at the SGC, even if there never was going to be anything more than friendship between us. At best, we'd have been put on different teams, at worst, we could have ended up court-martialled and maybe even fired. Here, he can be my 'big brother' and lover to Daniel without worrying or looking over his shoulder constantly.

Teal'c doesn't feel the need to prove himself the loyal warrior in a way that he did on Earth. SG-1 trusted him implicitly, as did General Hammond, but some of the other teams still saw him as an unreliable turncoat. Because we have that faith in him, he doesn't have to hide behind the mask of indifference. Like I said, he smiles a lot. Sometimes he even laughs out loud.

For me, it's been wonderful. I loved the Air Force, loved the opportunities it gave me. But underneath it all, I was having to prove myself constantly. Could a woman be a warrior? Could a scientist fight in the field? Could I lead? Could the warrior in me be taken seriously as a woman? Only my team really understood my own internal battles and only they have accepted me for just being me. I'm not Samantha Carter, warrior or scientist or woman. I'm just Sam - and all of the above.

As for Daniel, he's finally gotten himself a home. I think that he's happier here on Annwn than on Remoc. The more solid structure of our house adds to a sense of permanence. The fact that Teal'c and I live under the same roof brings his family closer to him. He needs to have us all around him. He was on his own too long at home and he hates being alone.

Oh, he says for us to leave him alone when he's working or reading or thinking something through, but he never relaxes totally unless he knows we're nearby. He's never backwards about telling of his feelings, either. Unlike most men, Daniel really does wear his heart on his sleeve when he feels safe enough to do it. Among strangers, he has the usual macho 'I'm not going to talk about it' mask. Between us, he'll smile and hug us, hold my hand, even snuggle up with me in front of the fire.

Teal'c doesn't mind that, in fact it gives him peace of mind. Should something happen to him, he knows that the guys will not let me be alone and will take care of me as well as he does.


The early warning system has gone off. It's not really surprising us as we're kind of expecting MIB to turn up at some point. But to be safe, we've gone to our hideout in the woods to watch out for whoever it is.

And who it is is a surprise.

"George! This is great. And..."

"PAUL!"

I hear the delight in Daniel's voice as he sees Paul Davis appear and soon we're all out of our hiding places, greeting our visitors. Daniel's hugging Paul like there's no tomorrow and grinning fit to burst.

"Uh, guys, how about we take them to our humble abode?" I suggest.

We all make our way towards the house, chattering but saying absolutely nothing of any value whatsoever. I see that Daniel's got his arm wrapped around Paul's shoulder, but I'm not jealous. He's just very happy to see his friend, that's all.

We're in the house in minutes and Daniel gets the kettle boiling to make some coffee.

"So, gentlemen, what brings you here?" I ask as we all settle down around the table.

"We thought we'd come and fill you in on what's been going down on Earth," George says. "And, well," he says a bit sheepishly, "we wanted to see where you live. I had an unofficial 'briefing' from Colonel Ferretti and let's just say I was intrigued."

We all laugh a little and encourage him to speak.

"I guess that Major Davis here would be best-placed to start the story?" he prompts, his voice rising to see if Paul really wants to speak.

"Well, I acted as a liaison with Maybourne, in an attempt to deflect attention from the SGC..."

We sit back and listen to the story of how Kinsey has been shamed, how the NID is crumbling and how the SGC and the Pentagon are back on negotiating terms with an eye to returning the whole premise of the organisation back to the way it was.

By the time we finish our coffees, we've heard the whole story and we're all smiling. Even Teal'c.

"There is some other news for you," George says as we calm down.

"Oh? What?"

"Well, yesterday, I went to visit the President," he says casually. "He's not a happy man in some ways. The revelations about the NID and one of his so-called 'trusted' senators haven't gone down well with the public. The TV news stations and the newspapers are up in arms. However, in private, he's actually relieved. He wanted the NID shut down because he was basically afraid of the power they held. And he couldn't stand Kinsey. So, he's amenable to listening to us. Of course, I've denied any involvement of the SGC in the exposť, but have said that it's serendipitous. He's prepared to believe that, even if he does have his suspicions."

We all grin at that, but remain silent.

"So, I suggested that those driven away from the SGC by the NID's involvement could be allowed to return. I pointed out that the exodus of talent from the SGC had left us in a precarious position. Not only have we lost you, but a number of other talented scientists have gone, experienced soldiers have requested transfers and so on. I want them back. If the Pentagon backs down and allows us to go back to our primary directive of..."

"Seeking out new life-forms? Boldly splitting infinitives, where no infinitives have been split before?" Daniel chuckles.

"Uh, yes," he laughs back. "Exactly that."

Before he can continue, we all start to laugh. Hammond doesn't know it but a private nickname for him at the SGC was 'Picard of Texas'.

"Well, where was I? Oh yes. If we can return to exploration as a primary part of our remit, we'll need the experience and the brains. So, he basically agreed to it. Unfortunately, he has had to put his foot down about you returning. If we could have got you back, we would have. However, all charges have been dropped, the 'wanted' posters with the Feds are no more and you can all come home."

He looks really pleased with this. So he's a bit surprised when his announcement is met with stunned silence.

"Uh, George," I say. "Would you mind if we, um, talked among ourselves for a minute?"

"Of course."

"Feel free to look around," Daniel says. "Make yourselves at home. There's more coffee in the pot, food in the cupboards, please, take what you want."

Numbly, the four of us leave the house and retreat to our favourite spot near the lake. It's where we made our first meal on this planet. Since then, we've cut seats into logs and have created a more permanent outdoor fireplace. Some nights, we just come out here and sit and look at the stars.

"So," Sam starts. But she grinds to a halt.

"I have no desire or need to return to Earth," Teal'c announces.

"I'd like to be able to visit Mark," she says thoughtfully, "but I won't be able to until I look a bit older, will I?"

They look at me and just shrug. "I can't visit my mom anymore. That'll have to be John's treat, I guess."

Daniel doesn't say anything and he's not looking at any of us. I wrap my arm around him and feel that he's really tense.

"I..." he says, but then shuts up.

"Daniel, this is our home," I say. "I know you've been afraid to have a home again, but this is it for all of us. You didn't think we'd go back, did you?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "I know how much you miss it."

"Daniel, it's my family I miss. And I can't see them again. I know this. I've accepted it. Hey, since it's okay for us to return, we can send MIB back via the gate to do some shopping, visit our families, come back with pictures and stories..."

"But if they use the gate, won't they be in danger? I mean, if we ever go through the gate..."

"Let's deal with that when we face it, Daniel. No point in looking for trouble. We'll still have the ship, we can still go back to the cabin."

"Yeah, Daniel," Sam encourages. "Besides, where else would we get wide open spaces, clean air, the chance to hop over to different planets to visit our friends and trade...? Come on; do you think we'd give that up?"

"Indeed, Daniel. I, too, would not have the freedoms that I have here. And irrespective of the outcome of the battle between Yu and Anubis, our task, I fear, is not over. How could we fight the Goa'uld from the cabin in Minnesota?"

We finally get a smile from Daniel. I think that he finally gets it. This is his home now. For good.


We have returned to the house. General Hammond and Major Davis have explored our facilities and have availed themselves of them. They seem to appreciate what we have accomplished here. O'Neill is informing Hammond of the previous few days' events and Daniel has taken Major Davis for a walk. I do believe they wish to speak in private.

We have heard the alarm go off, but we have been contacted immediately so that we do not need to hide. MIB have arrived, as has Jacob. Samantha and I are now preparing some cold food for lunch as we await everyone's return.

"You really don't have any regrets about staying here?" Samantha asks me.

I think for a moment, and then lean close to her and kiss her.

"None. What of you?"

She wraps her arms around my waist and holds me close.

"How could I?"

As we place the food on the table, the others join us. Soon the house is filled with the noise of chatter. It is, I believe, a happy sound. Even our large table will not support us all, so we take the food we desire, put it on plates and then go outside to sit on the grass. It is a fine day and most suitable for an impromptu picnic.

"Um, George," O'Neill says. "Thanks for the support back home, but we're staying here. This is our home now," he adds with a shrug. "Besides, we still look weird to those that know us. Maybe MIB can gate home once in a while?"

"Of course, Jack. You will all be welcome as and when you want to return. I take it you're going to continue your fight?"

"Yup. There's still a lot to do. Anyway, Jake, is there any news on the Yu front?" he asks. He has generously opened his beer stocks and those that drink it are now partaking gratefully.

"A little. We did hear that he managed to get the ships on his side and they did indeed destroy that ha'tak. So, as and when he takes on Anubis, he'll be a bit down on firepower. We contacted Yu directly and though he was reluctant to speak to us at first, he finally agreed to allow a Tok'ra representative to visit him under a flag of truce. We'll hear how that visit went in a day or so."

"Yu will honour that," Daniel says. "The Tok'ra should return unharmed."

"Yeah, well, fingers crossed. He's going to try to find out some things and he'll pass on the information about Anubis' whereabouts. Hopefully Yu will discover who the spy is before he makes plans to attack."

"Are all of the remaining System Lords on Yu's side?"

"As far as we know. Now that Yu is very strong, they are more inclined to side with him. I think that by leaving them alone for now, Olokun and Svarog will keep their heads down and their Jaffa either out of the fight or on Yu's side."

"So," O'Neill says loudly. "We have destroyed Kinsey, imploded the NID, gotten rid of three System Lords and set the others against Anubis. Not bad for a couple of days' work."

"Well, we didn't do much against Kinsey and the NID," Major Davis points out. "I'm afraid we have to thank Maybourne for that."

"Do we have to?" O'Neill whines.

"Talking of which, how did the drop off go?" Daniel asks of MIB.

They all start to laugh.

"Oh, it went well," Frankie says sweetly.

"Indeed it did," adds Kar Shel. "Very well."

John nods vigorously. "Oh, I think that we've found the right place for him."

"DJ?" Daniel prompts. "I want details."

"We took him to Kheb as you suggested," DJ replies. "Once we'd got rid of the burned bodies and he found that there was a bath tub inside the temple, he wasn't too unhappy. After he got out, though, Oma and Shifu turned up."

We are all quiet, waiting for more information.

"How are they?" Daniel asks quietly.

"Fine. I gave them our addresses, by the way. Said for them to visit when they wanted. Hope that was okay?"

We all nod, only Daniel answering in the affirmative.

"Anyway, I got a chance to speak to them alone, which was when I gave them the addresses - Maybourne doesn't know them - and explained about him. What he's like, but what he had done for us. Oma wasn't exactly talkative but Shifu seemed to be talking for her. The upshot is, Shifu's going to hang around for a while. Maybourne's going to get some lessons in a more Zen way of life."

"You're shitting me?" O'Neill bursts out.

"Nuh huh," DJ laughs. "When we left, Shifu was already being enigmatic."

"Poor Harry," Daniel also laughs.

"What of Shifu?" I ask. "Perhaps he should not come under such a bad influence?"

"Nah, I wouldn't worry," DJ replies. "He's a smart kid. Oh, by the way, Yu must have sent someone to collect those Jaffa we stranded. Not sure whether it was by gate or ship, but the DHD was repaired."

"Harry will try to escape then!"

"I wouldn't be so sure," Frankie says. Then she puts her hand into her jacket and pulls out a crystal.

We are all amused and O'Neill takes the crystal, holding it up to the light and smiling as he looks at it.

"Sweet."



I've had enough of this Zen talk. I can't get a straight answer out of the kid. I've found food of sorts, the water doesn't appear to be poisoning me but it still tastes weird, and I do have a roof over my head, but the kid is driving me nuts! I'm off. Where the heck is that stargate?

Think Harry, think. Path. Follow the path. The report said it was a long walk.

-

The report wasn't exaggerating, but my goal is in sight. Hours of dragging my heavy suitcases through the woods and fields and I'm ready to gate the hell out of here. Ha, Jack! You thought you had the better of me. You thought I wouldn't know where I was or remember that there was a gate here. You are so easy to beat!

Right. I remember a good location. My off-world group found it. Primitive people but friendly. Now, find the point of origin... got it. Okay and... WHAT? It's not working. Try again. It's still not working. Okay, Harry, think... inside the DHD. Perhaps a crystal is loose.

No crystal. There's a gap where there should be a crystal.

THAT BASTARD!

"YOU WAIT JACK! WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU, YOU ARE A DEAD MAN!"

"Maybourne."

I jump a mile as I hear the kid's voice behind me.

"WHAT?!"

"Why do you shout when you are not heard?"

"It makes me feel better, okay?"

He pauses for a moment and then shrugs.

"If that is what you need, then shout. Would your energies not be better spent in returning to the temple? Night will fall soon."

"Oma not going to light the way for you?"

He smiles. I've only been here a few hours and that smile is already beginning to get on my nerves!

"Oma lights my path in many ways. If you would open your mind, your path would become clear."

I hate you, Jack O'Neill. I really, really hate you sometimes - this being one of them...

"Lead the way, kid."

Guess I'll just have to come up with plan B.



It's been a long but fun day. We partied, talked, laughed...

Jacob told me that Sarah is going to stay with the Tok'ra for the time being, but will probably return to Earth in the long run. She's upset with me for frightening her but Jacob is sure that academically, she understands why I did what I did. Maybe one day she'll forgive me.

Jack's been wonderful about me spending time with Paul. Not that I'm doing anything I shouldn't - don't want to, either. Whenever I hold him close, Hammond's looking in the opposite direction. Paul doesn't seem to care if he's seen. I guess that George knows more than he should.

I can't seem to stop hugging him though. I've missed him, he was my rock when things were bad between Jack and me. His friendship kept me at the SGC and he was wonderful enough to take Jack's place when we'd split, stepping away from my bed gracefully when Jack came back to me, yet remaining my friend.

I doubt very much whether anyone else could have or would have done that. For that, I'll never stop loving him. Jack knows this, and despite his initial reaction to Paul's relationship with me, he's now very grateful to him.

George says that the underhanded threat of enforced retirement for him has been lifted and that he's going to stay as long as he is allowed. It all depends on a number of things, but hopefully, he'll have the backing to stay. He says he doesn't know what he'd do if he retired, anyway. Should he leave, Jacob's promised to keep us in touch. Jack has said that he can use the cabin to escape to any time he wants. We can meet him there, I guess.

He's also promised that we can have more visitors. Paul has promised to come whenever he can and George says that whenever he can spare Janet, she can come to see us. He won't officially put our address into the computer but for our friends, the information will be available. They'll keep it between themselves, not allowing the Pentagon to find us, just in case the hoped-for improvements back at the SGC don't materialise.

Who knows what will happen in future? We certainly don't. So, while there will be more freedoms for us, we're still going to keep our home secure.

Paul loves our home. He can't wait to come and stay and explore the area. I want him to come and stay, too. He's a lot of fun, filling us in with the juicier bits of DC gossip - things that even the more salacious gossip columnists don't hear about. Mrs. Kinsey is rumoured to be filing for divorce. Further rumours are circulating that he's paying her not to as it will help his 'fight'.

How he can fight it, though, I don't know. The players in the conspiracy have gone underground.

We're going to take some time off to catch our breath. We're all still tired. MIB said they'll bring over all of the goodies they brought from the cabin tomorrow - they dropped them through the gate into their home when they left Jacob's ship where they found it. We'll be able to make some improvements to our home and stock up on our weaponry. We'll make one final inventory of what we want from Earth and then, apart from picking up replacements and refills once in a while, we'll be completely set.

So this is it. Us. Together again. And more to the point, we're home.