Summary: Harry Maybourne returns and turns Jack's and Daniel's lives upside down. How will Jack and Daniel survive and can they regain their personal paradise?
Info: This story is Danielized!
Author Email: email@example.com (Feedback welcome)
Author Website: http://orrymain.com
Category: Slash, Drama, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Season: 6 - May 2003
Spoilers: Paradise Lost (Danielized) and minor ones for Enigma, Bane, Touchstone, Foothold, Shades of Grey, Watergate, Chain Reaction, Desperate Measures, and 48 Hours
Written: April 22,28-30, May 1-13, 2017
Summary: Harry Maybourne returns and turns Jack's and Daniel's lives upside down. How will Jack and Daniel survive and can they regain their personal paradise?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
It was a chilly late afternoon in Colorado Springs and Jack was doing one of his most favorite things in the world, grilling. His food of choice at that moment were hot dogs, three of which were just about ready to fill up his stomach. He was on his own until later in the evening when Daniel would return home. The archaeologist was helping Janet Fraiser and her adopted daughter, Cassandra, move furniture in their home as they wanted a fresh design for the home interior.
~Doc rearranges her furniture almost as much as she changes her hair style,~ Jack mused.
The colonel was inside the house to retrieve a beer and some catsup, but while inside, he also decided to put on a sweat jacket as he wanted to eat out on the deck and be more comfortable since the weather forecast called for higher winds to occur. He chose a gray one because he knew Daniel loved him in gray sweats and figured it might hasten the pace to get Daniel in the mood for some loving fun.
~I don't get the gray thing, but, mmm, my Danny in blue is worth a year's salary, maybe a lifetime's.~
As Jack stepped back out onto the deck, he went to the grill and instantly noticed one of his three hot dogs was missing.
~It didn't just walk away,~ Jack thought as he stared downward. He lifted his head as his military training came into play. ~Someone's behind me.~
Jack turned around and was surprised to see Harry Maybourne sitting on the railing at the back corner of the deck and eating the missing hot dog.
"I helped myself. I hope you don't mind," Harry stated.
"You're eating my dog."
"You want it back?"
"Would you like a beer to wash it down?" the colonel asked sarcastically.
"Already got one."
"What are you doing here?"
"I can't drop by an old friend's house for a little barbecue?"
"Well, there's that little treason thing," Jack mentioned, a reference to Maybourne having turned over classified SGC documents to the Russians, a transgression for which he was tried and convicted over two years ago.
"Have me arrested. That's why I'm here," Harry advised enticingly.
"This is gonna be good, isn't it?" Jack asked and then sat down on the railing of the deck closest to him.
Harry explained, "The current Administration is coming to the end of its second term. I was hoping the President might consider one of those special little pardons they often do when one doesn't care about re election any more."
"Really good," Jack snarked at the tale he'd just heard.
The two continued to talk until Harry reached his punch line, reminding Jack that Frank Simmons, who was responsible for hijacking the X-303 spaceship called the Prometheus two months previous, was intending to take the ship to a planet with a cache of advanced alien weaponry. He asserted the NID knew about it, but naturally, wasn't about to let SGC in on the knowledge. The kicker was that a Stargate was present on the planet and Harry claimed he had the Gate address.
"So, instead they're hoarding a secret that could save the planet," Jack stated.
"Oh, I'm sure they would have come clean if push came to shove, but the address can be yours right now for what's behind door number one."
"A Presidential pardon," Jack surmised.
"This is the full prize package, Jack. I wanna go with you on this one."
"You must have had a few before you came over."
"Look, I know you've questioned my methods in the past, but we've always been fighting for the same thing. I just want to help make the world safe from the Goa'uld."
"Nice delivery," Jack mocked.
"Well, thanks for the beer. Nothing I like more than a good wiener."
"Yes, you are what you eat."
"Guess I won't be needing this anymore," Harry stated as he dropped a folded paper atop the barbecue and walked down the deck steps to the grass.
"What is it?"
"The address to the planet with the Ancient weapons."
"For crying out loud," Jack groaned as he sprang up and quickly retrieved the paper, pouring his beer on it in order to put out the fire.
"Won't do you much good without me," Harry pointed out.
"Simmons also didn't know that there's an impenetrable doorway protecting the weapons storage facility, and I have the key."
"Terms are non-negotiable, Jack."
"Hey, Jack, I ..." Stunned, Daniel stopped in his tracks, having just walked outside and becoming aware of another's presence. "Colonel Maybourne."
"I don't think the title applies anymore. You have your own key?" Harry asked, surprised since the archaeologist appeared on the deck from the living room.
"Jack has a bad habit."
"Yeah, he knows," Jack interjected.
"You should lock your doors, Jack," Harry warned before looking at Daniel. "Hmm."
"Don't tell me you're a singer now," Jack retorted.
"I can sing plenty, Jack, if you'll *pardon* me," Harry smirked, walking away and disappearing around the side of the house and leaving.
Daniel drew a big breath and asked, "What was he doing here?"
"Angles," Jack sighed as he stared at the Gate address on the paper. "I thought you were helping the Doc?"
"I was, but they couldn't make up their minds about the sofa, so ..." Daniel trailed off. He was concerned about Maybourne's unexpected appearance. "Jack, what did he want?"
Jack motioned for his lover to follow him inside the house, only then he turned around, grabbed the hot dogs, buns, and condiments, before actually going inside.
"Prepare 'em for me, will ya?" Jack asked as his stomach growled. He picked up the phone in the living room and dialed. "General, we have a potential situation. ... No, I don't think we need to do anything tonight, but ... Yes. ... Right. ... 0800. ... You, too."
"Here," Daniel stated as he handed his soulmate the food. He'd understood the gist of his lover's conversation with General Hammond and that the situation, whatever it was, would be discussed at the start of the next day. ~Look at him eye that hot dog. That's how he looks at a pretty woman.~ After a mental pause, he mused, ~I'm not sure what that says about Jack.~
"That's a well-dressed dog, Danny. Thanks," Jack stated before he took a big bite.
"Yeah," Jack acknowledged as he swallowed, his eyes lighting up from the tasty grilled food. "Harry says Simmons was taking the Prometheus to a planet with a bundle of ancient weapons."
"Ancient as in ancient, old, or Ancient as in the Ancients?"
"He didn't clarify, but old is old and ... ancient," Jack responded, making a funny face from his old statement. "He wants a Presidential pardon for the address."
"Jack, you have the address," Daniel replied. "Why would he give it to you before you'd made the deal?"
"Maybe he's getting loopy from being on the run," Jack answered. "Nah, actually he says there's some key needed. Loopy," he repeated.
"We've got you and Carter. If it's related to the Ancients, and even if it's not, you can translate and Carter can use her doohickeys to pick the lock."
Daniel nodded in acceptance of the idea, but then he walked forward a few steps and said, "Jack."
"Don't worry about it, Danny. Everyone knows we're roomies."
"It's just ... he probably still has ties with the NID, or rogue NID, or whoever is out there."
"No doubt about it. Harry wouldn't be Harry without having friends in all the wrong places," the older man agreed. "He doesn't know, and even if he did, he wouldn't dare do anything about it."
"How can you be so sure?"
With a straight, serious face and foreboding tone, Jack answered, "Because he knows I'll kill him if he does." Putting aside the conversation, the colonel took another bite and smiled. "Nothing like a good dog. Want one? I can grill you a couple."
"No, thanks. Janet fed me."
"Did she now?"
"Jack, don't go there."
Jack's Mr. Jealousy still came out from time to time, and the green monster always paid close attention when Daniel and Janet spent time together.
"Jack!" Daniel warned.
"Yeah, yeah, I hear ya," Jack sighed as he forced himself to let the jealousy go and instead concentrate on the beautiful blue of Daniel's eyes. "I'm glad you're home."
"Me, too," the younger man agreed, smiling bashfully. Daniel gazed at his soulmate, his focus having changed. "Jack?"
"What?" came the mumbled query, the mumble barely understandable as Jack chomped down another relished portion of his hot dog.
"I am hungry."
"Not for food, Babe," the archaeologist put forth with lustful eyes.
Jack stared for a few seconds until he got the message. Seeing a wanton sparkle in his Heart's eyes, he was even happier now he'd chosen the gray sweat jacket. He physically flipped the remainder of his hot dog aside and nodded toward the stairs.
With happy smiles, Jack and Daniel headed for their bedroom to spend the night doing what they loved so passionately, leaving behind any thoughts of Harry Maybourne, Gate addresses, and potentially powerful and useful weaponry.
"So, that's about it," Jack concluded after reviewing Harry Maybourne's visit to his home.
SG-1 was seated around the head of the conference table in the briefing room at Stargate Command. Jack and Sam were on one side with Daniel and Teal'c on the other. Visibly noticeable was Daniel, who chose to wear his blue BDUs while the rest of the team opted for green uniforms.
The archaeologist was humoring his life partner, who at breakfast pleaded to see him in blue at the base. In return, Jack promised to thank him with a special full-body massage that evening. Said massage would focus on certain primal organs and include preferred non-oils such as chocolate and red wine.
"Did he say how he came across this key?" Sam asked.
"No," was Jack's response.
Hammond looked at his second-in-command and advised, "You were correct when you said it's doubtful the Pentagon would authorize Colonel Maybourne's presence on an off-world mission."
"Should we not at least explore the planet to which he has provided the address?" Teal'c queried.
Agreeing, Jack responded, "He did risk his butt just to make the proposition."
"Maybe we can get through the door without him? If Maybourne thinks it's worth a pardon, what's on the other side must be good," Sam opined.
Giving his approval, Hammond responded with a succinct, "Do it," and ended the briefing by leaving the room.
"Why are you smiling?" Sam asked Daniel as the team stood and began to walk out of the room.
"Jack was right, at least partially."
Sam raised her eyebrows as her eyes widened, her face one of astonishment.
"Don't look so surprised," Jack chastised. "I have my moments."
"What were you correct about, O'Neill?" Teal'c inquired.
"It was nothing," the colonel suggested in mock humility.
"He said we didn't need Maybourne because we had Sam to ... break in."
"And you," Jack quickly inserted into the conversation. "Daniel reads whatever language may be on this door and Carter opens it up. Piece of cake."
The four reached the elevator and Jack observed his lover's demeanor had changed, something that concerned him.
"Why the frown?"
"I wish you hadn't said that."
"The piece of cake thing. I mean, uh, it makes it sound too easy."
"It will be," Jack expressed with great confidence.
"Right," the suddenly doubtful archaeologist sighed.
"We can do this," Sam supposed confidently as the doors to the elevator opened and she walked inside.
"Of course, we can," Jack agreed while following the major.
"MajorCarter and O'Neill are correct," the Jaffa concurred and then joined the two inside the elevator.
"Okay, I'll go along."
"Nice of you to join us," Jack teased when Daniel finally walked into the elevator.
Daniel simply shrugged as the doors closed. Somehow, though, he felt uneasy about the mission. With the cajoling of his teammates, however, he quickly set aside his undefined feelings and began to wonder about the planet in a more positive vein. After all, they were SG-1 and after all these years, that meant success and survival.
A half-hour later, SG-1 was in the gate room watching the Stargate's mighty kawoosh splash outward and then ebb.
"Okay, kids, let's see what the magic rabbits can do," Jack mused while adjusting his green cap.
"Rabbits?" Sam asked.
"Magical rabbits, Carter. We're off to Wonderland."
As Jack walked up the ramp, the other three remained, each looking at one another.
"Not Oz?" Sam asked.
"It's the weapons armory. For Jack, that's Wonderland," Daniel, who was now in the usual green off-world mission attire, surmised as he followed the colonel up the ramp and through the Stargate.
Sam and Teal'c exchanged a glance of understanding as they followed the MALP through the event horizon.
"Wow," Daniel observed while standing next to his lover.
"That's a big, big moon," Jack agreed.
"What?" Daniel questioned. "Oh, uh, yes, but I was referring to that," he pointed outward at a large cliff on which a castle-like building was located.
"Long climb," Jack groaned, frowning as he considered the trek upward and his knees.
"Piece of cake, Jack," Daniel teased, his mouth upturned in a slight smile before he eddied to his right to acknowledge Sam and Teal'c.
"Let's find the path," Jack directed. "Teal'c, take point."
With a nod, the Jaffa walked forward and was soon followed by the rest of his teammates.
The journey from the Stargate to the ancient building was easier than Jack anticipated and was basically a moderate mountain hike. Cautiously, SG-1 ambled through the area.
"Not much of a castle," Jack opined.
"What do you think it was?" Sam inquired of the team's cultural expert.
"I ... have no idea," Daniel replied. "Maybe, maybe a meeting area or," he paused as he walked through an archway and saw an altar-type area, "maybe a place of worship, like a monastery ..."
"... or something," both Daniel and Jack spoke at the same time.
~I need a picture of this,~ the archaeologist thought as he pulled out his recorder and began filming the altar area.
"Daniel," Jack stated expectantly.
"What?" Daniel drew a gasp-like breath. "Oh, yeah, well ..." He focused on the design of the altar and the script around it. "It's not Ancient, but it's definitely a language belonging to one of the races of the Ancient alliance."
"Nox? Asgard?" the colonel prompted.
"Furlings," Daniel answered.
"Oh no, not those guys."
Jack responded, "Oh, I don't know, I just can't imagine cute little furry things making big powerful weapons, that's all."
"I don't even know what they look like."
"Furling," Jack stated. "Sounds cute and fuzzy to me."
Daniel walked over to where Sam was standing. An object was on the wall that captured his interest.
The linguist reached up and touched the object as he advised, "This section says something like 'only the righteous may pass'."
Sam also placed her hand over an area of the object while suggesting, "This looks like where Maybourne's key would go." She took out a device and walked while reporting, "I'm getting energy readings. There's a power source in this arch." She continued until she found the source. "Here." Sam removed a panel that revealed some type of unknown technology. "Sir? This is definitely something."
"I don't know. I don't recognize the technology."
"But can you make it work?" Jack asked. ~Come on, Carter. Don't let me down now.~
"I'll try, Sir," Sam sighed as she continued to eye the device. ~Sometimes I think the colonel thinks this is as easy as ... cake.~ She sighed at her lack of a better idiom and then gave herself an order. ~Concentrate on the device, Sam.~
"What about you?" Jack asked his soulmate.
"Are you going to be able to tell us what this says?"
"But it'll take a while."
"Longer than you'd like."
"Sir," Sam sighed.
"I think Maybourne's correct and this is some sort of transporter."
"But?" Jack asked hesitantly.
"We need the key, Sir."
"Can't you ... pick it? I was counting on that, Carter."
"I know, Sir, but this is pretty sophisticated, and I don't see a way to ... pick it. I mean, I could trigger a destruct command."
"We're on a planet, Carter, not the starship Enterprise."
"We need the key, Sir."
Jack groaned unhappily, but then ordered, "Keep it at it." He looked at Daniel, "And you, too. Teal'c, make sure the kiddies don't leave their sandbox. I'm going back to SGC to ..."
"... to get Maybourne," Daniel surmised.
"... to bring General Hammond up to date." Jack corrected. "And get Harry's key."
"Do you believe HarryMaybourne will give you the key, O'Neill?"
"Sure," came the uncertain response. ~If we can out-trick the trickster.~ He gave a sharp raise of his hand as he advised in a Terminatoresque voice, "I'll be back."
Back on Earth, Jack and General Hammond launched a plan to get the key from Maybourne. First on their agenda was to get word to Harry to turn himself in, something the wayward colonel said he wanted to do. Even though Harry didn't give Jack his current hiding place, Jack had a pretty good idea where he could find him.
~It pains me that I know this much about Harry,~ Jack lamented as he dialed the number of a sleazy motel located in one of the seedier areas of Colorado Springs. It was a place Harry hid out in before. "Mister Hutch, please," he asked the operator, using a code name from a past TV series for Maybourne.
"Jack, you found me," a chipper sounding voice greeted.
"It wasn't hard, Harry."
"What can I do for you?"
"Turn yourself in and bring me a present, the right one, Harry, or you'll be on a plane to somewhere not nice before nightfall."
"No need to make threats."
Smirking, Jack vowed, "It wasn't a threat, Harry, it was a promise."
"Your jokes don't always hit the mark."
"Harry, do you want to chitchat or maybe use a key to get some benefits?"
"On my way, Mister Starsky."
Hanging up the phone, Jack told Hammond, "He's en route, General. I'll make sure the SFs are around to give him a proper greeting.
"Instruct the guards that Colonel Maybourne is not allowed on this base unless he has an object him. We're not going to play games with him, Jack."
"Yes, Sir," Jack acknowledged and then left Hammond's office.
"Hi, Fellas," Harry greeted at the security entrance to Cheyenne Mountain. "Wow, I must really rate," he said in observance of the six Special Forces men who surrounded him. "Now that tickles," he mused as he was frisked by one of the guards.
"Is that the object?" the SF in charge asked the traitor.
"Eyes only, and that means O'Neill and Hammond," Harry stated sternly.
The SF nodded, but added, "We'll have to carry the case."
"Like I'd hit you over the head with it, or ..." Harry stopped his statement as he realized that was exactly the reason why he would not be allowed to carry the case himself. "Don't lose it."
The team leader took possession of the case briefly as he turned it over to another member of his detail.
"Sir," the SF stated, holding out handcuffs.
"That's taking things a bit far?" Harry saw the military stare. He wasn't going to be able to talk the guards out of it, so with a sigh, he held out his hands. "Cuff me."
Once inside the Mountain, three of the team were dismissed. The leader stayed by Harry's side, a second carried the case, and a third was well armed and prepared to fire if Harry tried anything to escape.
~Overboard, but thanks for the compliment,~ the prisoner thought with a pleased and smug expression. ~I really *do* rate.~
Jack met Harry and the team at the elevator and led the way to the briefing room. He immediately took his position just behind the major general, who ordered the cuffs on Maybourne removed.
"Despite your prior transgressions, you've shown a willingness to help us out of some serious situations recently, and that is why the President is willing to proceed in this matter," Hammond told the man.
"You're welcome," Harry remarked.
"Let's see what you brought," Jack requested.
The SF gave Harry the case and he put it on the table and opened it. He lifted up an item wrapped in cloth and placed it on the table. Removing the material, an object was revealed.
Curious, Jack picked the object up and examined it.
Feeling smug, Harry asked, "When do we leave?"
"I leave right now," Jack answered. "We'll let you know how it turns out."
"Jack," Harry called out to the colonel who was already headed towards the exit. "I thought I was pretty clear. I go with you or no deal."
"Harry, you're under arrest, I've got the stone, and I'm walking out that door. You're not in a strong bargaining position."
"The only way this mission will be successful is if I'm on it. That stone is useless without the combination," Harry insisted.
The ex-NID leader explained, "It was originally found over eighty years ago in a Pharaoh's tomb in Egypt. The stone was wrapped in a scroll with writing on it that no Earth linguist could decipher. I was recently able to get it translated, though."
"The scroll contained instructions for how to use the stone to access the power of the Gods. That information exists in one place. Right here," Harry stated as he pointed at his forehead. "A deal's a deal. You want to go through the door? I'm gonna be the one who opens it."
"Daniel could figure it out."
"Jack, you don't have the scroll. What you have is me. Take me, I'm yours," Harry sing-songed with a cocky smile that irked SG-1's leader greatly.
"General?" Jack prodded, half hoping the base commander would veto the mission.
"I don't see another option, Colonel," Hammond stated reluctantly.
~Choiceless.~ Jack sighed and blew out some air, air that was about to make him choke. In fact, he coughed before he ordered the Special Forces officers, "Get him geared up. *No* weapons and search him before you enter the gate room."
"Jack, don't you trust me?" Harry cajoled with a cock of his head.
"You're right up there with Kinsey and Simmons."
"Ouch!" Harry exclaimed. "That hurts, Jack."
"I'll buy you a band-aid," Jack retorted. "Get him out of here." As the SFs and Harry reached the door, the colonel called out, "Twenty minutes and *don't* be late."
"For this, you could set your watch by my presence."
Jack simply sneered as Harry and his escorts disappeared from view.
"I'll update the President," Hammond stated as began towards his office. He stopped and turned back. "Jack?"
"Keep an eye on him."
"You don't believe him, either."
Hammond raised his head a tad as he responded, "Son, that man has more twists than a pretzel. The only thing I'm certain of is what side he's on: his own."
Jack nodded and left to prepare for the return to the planet.
General Hammond entered the gate room shortly after Jack, who was standing at the foot of the ramp.
"Walter, dial 'er up," Jack shouted to the sergeant, who was seated at his normal post in the control room.
"Impatient, Colonel?" Hammond inquired with a partial smile.
"Maybourne said he was a clock. He has," Jack raised his hand to look at his watch, "fifteen seconds until she blows."
Hammond was amused and then asserted, "There's got to be something more going on here than he'll admit to."
"Of that I have no doubt, Sir, but if he's not willing to tell us, we can't force him." Jack paused as both the Stargate settled on its next to last chevron in the dialing sequence and Harry entered the room. "Much as I'd like to try," he added with force.
Moving to stand next to Jack, a bright-eyed Harry slapped Jack on his right arm and remarked, "Now this is more like it."
Just then, the event horizon formed and Jack invited, "Shall we?"
Harry led the way, but stopped about midway. Jack followed and stopped his forward momentum when he reached Harry's side. He didn't want to admit it, but he knew what that look was. He'd seen it, a look of wonder and amazement, many times. He wanted to shove the man forward, but he couldn't. For reasons he couldn't comprehend, he had a softness for Harry Maybourne. He just hoped he never lived to regret that odd feeling.
"You know the real reason I wanna do this?" Harry asked. "I've never actually been through this thing before."
"I ran the off-world operation from Earth using a Goa'uld communicator."
~Makes sense,~ Jack thought. "Nervous?"
"Me? No. I'm just taking a moment."
Jack waited several seconds. No one had been through the Gate more often than SG-1, but he still remembered seeing the Stargate for the first time. Even now, he could recall the first time he walked through the event horizon, back when the system was rough and icy, before stabilizers and other calming equipment were put in place. Daniel still had that look much of the time. It simply never got old. The colonel gave Harry his moment, as he had to admit he'd give to any lifeform, even a snake.
At last, the two men disappeared from Hammond's sight. The general signaled Davis to cut the connection and headed for his office, hoping SG-1 wouldn't have any problems with Harry Maybourne and yet sensing all would not go smoothly.
Jack's pace to the castle-like structure was faster than the first time. He had little desire to chitchat or otherwise be alone with Harry Maybourne.
"Jack," Daniel called out upon seeing his lover approach and then casually walk to his side.
"Colonels," Sam greeted when she saw Jack and Harry arrive.
"Where's Teal'c?" Jack inquired.
"I think he was bored," Sam opined. "He went to scout the surrounding area."
Harry looked at Daniel and innocently asked, "Have you translated the writings?"
"No, not yet, not completely." Daniel looked at Jack and expounded, "I need to get some references from the SGC. It could take a while. I mean, the Furlings language is something we haven't run across very often."
"I'm sure the little critters have more to do than write their life stories," Jack sighed.
"We don't know they're little," Daniel rebutted. "They could be giants."
"Furlings: cute, furry, little," Jack once again insisted. As if to prove his point, he asked, "Have you ever seen a tall Munchkin? They're little, like in Oz."
"Not if they're children and grow up," Daniel argued.
"A Munchkin is a Munchkin, regardless of age," Jack maintained, not having an inkling how that thought might someday resonate lovingly within his soul.
"Sir, Daniel, the key?" Sam interjected, wanting to return to the task at hand.
"Yeah, you're right," Jack told his 2IC. "Harry?" he stated while gesturing towards the arch with the alien device.
Harry walked over to the device and inserted the key. He moved the key to different positions in the lock, as if entering the combination to a safe. The device lit up, but nothing happened. He stared at the SG-1 leader.
"What?" Jack questioned.
"I'm sure I've got it right."
"It should have worked."
Sam walked over and stepped in front of where Harry stood to get a better look and then offered, "Let me take a look."
Jack looked through the arch, a routine action as he was about to survey the perimeter. It was an automatic reflex for him, to review his surroundings with great frequency. Of course, at the end, he could spy a glance at his soulmate, which was always a great way to end a visual check.
Since Jack was focused away from Sam and Harry, he didn't see Harry grab Sam's zat and fire, immediately causing the major to fall to the ground.
"Jack!" Daniel called out, having seen the occurrence.
It was too late for action. Before Jack and Daniel could respond, Harry zatted both of them. He withdrew the key from the device which opened the doorway.
Harry ran and jumped towards the doorway. Jack jumped to his feet, shouting out Harry's name as he jumped and managed to latch on to his nemesis. Likewise, Daniel's heart raced as he realized what his lover was doing. Without considering the consequences, the archaeologist also leapt to his feet and then jumped forward. He was barely able to grab Jack's left foot before the doorway closed. The result was that all three men suddenly found themselves in a green field with a myriad of yellow dandelions all around.
Jack fell atop Harry and, not realizing Daniel was with him, began to shake Harry while spouting, "You rotten, no good for nothing ..."
"You son of a ..."
"Jack!" Harry exclaimed.
Jack finally started to take in his surroundings.
"What the ..." Jack began when he observed the field. That's also when he saw Daniel, just sitting. "Daniel?"
"I'm fine," the archaeologist stated, taking Jack's extended hand and allowing himself to be helped up to his feet.
"Harry, where in Netu are we?" an angry Jack questioned.
"Dang it, Jack, why'd you have to do that?" Harry replied. "And what are *you* doing here?" he sharply challenged Daniel.
"The better question might be why are you here," the archaeologist countered calmly.
"Where's the zat?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. I don't have it," Harry claimed.
Raising his P-90 at Harry, Jack repeated, "Where is it?"
"It's not here," Harry reiterated.
"I'm going to kill you, you self-absorbed little ..."
"Jack," Daniel interrupted. "My zat is gone, too."
"My zat is gone, too."
"I guess they didn't come through with us," Harry put forth.
"Why not?" Jack asked.
"Well, how should I know?"
"Jack, the doorway probably filters out Goa'uld weapons," Daniel theorized. "That's why you still have your weapons and why I still have my Beretta."
Jack looked at his lover and began a scan downward. He saw Daniel's hand resting atop the Beretta in its holster.
"Right," Jack sighed. He refocused on Harry and strongly stated, "You listen to me. I want a straight answer from you."
"Well, since you're here, both of you, I might as well just show you," Harry suggested as he began to walk away.
"Hey!" Jack called out unhappily.
"Come on!" Harry urged.
Jack looked over at Daniel, who began to follow their questionable foe, and then reluctantly sprinted to catch up with his soulmate. As they walked, Jack gently nudged Daniel to get his attention. He pointed, getting a nod in reply. Within seconds, both activated the technology that allowed them to be easily tracked by Stargate Command. Both expected to be found soon.
Back at the ruins, Teal'c found Sam, who was still groggy from the zat blast. He helped her up as he asked about the others.
"I don't know where they are," the still-shaken major answered as she looked around. "They must have gone through the arch."
"I do not understand, MajorCarter."
"Maybourne claimed the key didn't work, but he lied, Teal'c." After the Jaffa helped her to her feet, Sam looked at the device and noted, "The key is gone. The key probably needed to be removed after the combination was entered. That activated the device. Colonel O'Neill and Daniel must have followed them through."
"Can you open the doorway again?" the Jaffa questioned.
"I'm going to try," Sam stated as she focused intently on the alien device once more.
Wherever they were, Jack, Daniel, and Harry were beginning to feel the effects of the sun on their surroundings. Jack put on his sunglasses almost immediately and not long thereafter. Harry stripped off his military jacket. Jack was next and then Daniel also removed his jacket. No one talked. Jack and Daniel were studying the area as they progressed while following Harry, who seemed to know exactly where he was going. Each stride he made was done with purpose and without hesitation.
Meanwhile, Sam was frustrated.
"May I be of assistance, MajorCarter?"
"No, Teal'c." Sam sighed, "Actually, I'm getting nowhere here. Teal'c, head back to the SGC and ask General Hammond to send up a UAV. If Daniel and Colonel O'Neill have activated their tracking devices, we should be able to pinpoint their location."
"As you wish," Teal'c acknowledged, bowing his head and then beginning the trip back to the Stargate.
Undaunted, Sam continued to try everything she could think of to engage the alien device.
As the trio approached their destination, Harry began to whine about Jack having followed him. Worse, he informed Jack that he wouldn't be able to return to Earth or anywhere.
"What are you talking about?" a confused Jack asked.
"I don't know, maybe they've got a way to send you back. I don't think anyone's supposed to leave; that's part of the deal."
"Who are you talking about? What deal?"
"The people at the place we're going."
"There aren't any people here," Daniel pointed out.
"Sure, there are," Harry maintained.
"Maybourne, have you completely lost your mind because if you're suffering, I'll gladly put you out of your misery."
"It's an alien Utopia. According to the scroll, it's supposed to be paradise."
"Scroll? What scroll?" Daniel inquired as his curiosity mounted. "No one has said anything about a scroll."
"When did I have time to bring you up to date?" Jack asked, his frustration growing.
"Oh, I don't know. How about when you first returned to the ruins?" the archaeologist challenged.
"It wasn't important," Jack countered.
"I disagree," the younger man returned. "I mean, uh, a Utopia? I'd say that's important for me to know."
"Daniel, Maybourne didn't tell us about the Utopia until a minute ago."
"Oh, okay, right, but I should have been told about the scroll."
"Hey!" the third part of the trio shouted. "You'll see what I'm talking about anytime now." Maybourne's face was wide with excitement and consternation. "Do you two know you act like an old married couple?"
"Wh...what?" Daniel asked.
"What?" Jack queried at the same time.
Harry laughed and turned around while espousing, "You sure argue like it."
"You're out of your gourd, Maybourne, in more ways than one," Jack spat.
"We weren't arguing," Daniel corrected.
"We were bickering," the couple said in unison, causing both to stare at each for a few seconds.
"I rest my case, Jack," Harry chuckled. "Major Carter must be jealous."
"Harry, shut your mouth before I shut it for you permanently."
"Testy, testy," Harry quipped with amusement.
With a sigh, Jack asked, "What's this Utopia about?"
His face happy and full of delight, Harry answered, "A long time ago, some people from an advanced alien society, well, they chucked it all and they formed this small, isolated Utopian community. They sent out representatives to meet and evaluate people from all over the galaxy and offer them a chance to join them. The scroll and the stone were the invitation."
"And this has nothing to do with the weapons Simmons was after?" an upset Jack questioned.
Harry laughed boisterously and responded, "I just figured it was my only way of getting through the Gate."
"You know, Harry, it's not that I can't believe you lied to me again, it's that you *lied* to me *again*!"
"Oh, come on, Jack, no one would have let me through the Gate for this. Would you have even believed me?"
"And you're sure this is all worth it?"
"Couldn't be much worse than where I've been forced to hide out lately. They're closing in on me. It's only a matter of time. Besides, I've got nothing left on Earth anymore. The money I was supposed to get from selling the Russian symbiote to Adrian Conrad was my last shot at making a life on Earth. Do something good and it turned into a disaster."
"Of massive proportions."
"I'm tired of running, Jack. Why should I when I could have a chance of retiring in paradise?"
"I see trees, Harry. You get that in Colorado."
"You'll see, Jack."
"I do see; I see trees."
Daniel, who now trailed the other two, saw an opportunity and took it, saying, "Sounds to me like you and Jack are the old married couple."
Jack's head whipped back as he blasted vocally, "Are you out of your ever-lovin' friggin' mind?"
Daniel gave his lover a grin, which Jack waved off with his left hand. At the same time, Harry simply laughed loudly without providing any other type of response.
"Maybourne, we've been walking for over two hours now," Jack groused. "Just where is this paradise of yours?"
"You are so lost," Jack accused.
"No, I'm sure this is the right way."
The trio continued to travel through the valley where Harry was certain his Utopia was located. He admitted to being surprised that no one had as yet greeted them, something he was certain would have happened because opening the doorway was also supposed to send a signal to the residents that someone new was arriving.
"This is in the scroll?" Daniel asked.
"Let it go," Jack urged in a higher pitch than he usually used to speak. To Harry, he asserted, "Maybe whoever translated your precious scroll didn't know what they were doing. You should have brought it with you, Harry, and let Daniel do his thing."
"The scroll was translated correctly, Jack," Harry claimed as the three men reached the destination, a village near a river, only the place was old, rotted, and abandoned, not to mention it was nowhere near being the Utopia Harry expected.
"Just how old was that invitation?" Jack quipped before the three walked through an arched structure to enter of the village.
Harry walked to the center of the camp and spoke in surprise, "There's no one here."
"I noticed that," Jack commented.
The village was actually rather small. There were a few scattered benches and seats, along with a table or two that still appeared functional. There were a few pit areas, probably for meal preparation. Several different huts in various degrees of decay were noticeable. There were some logs and miscellaneous eating instruments and tools scattered around the area.
Harry began to walk around, trying to found some indication of life. Daniel also walked the camp, but in a different direction than Harry. Jack stayed in place and looked down where he saw a red, circular object with a circumference similar to a basketball. He kicked it gently to see more of the object before bending over and picking it up. There were different slats to the object and each reminded Jack of artwork, which he quickly dismissed as having any importance at all.
"Jack!" Daniel called out urgently.
Hearing his soulmate's voice, Jack put the object down and hurried to Daniel at the edge of the village. He quickly noted the issue.
"Harry?" Jack called out, prompting the other man to walk over. "This in the brochure?" he retorted as the trio observed numerous skeletons on the ground.
"I don't understand," Harry remarked.
"It's simple, Harry. Your Utopia is a cemetery. The next time you want to find paradise, *don't* call us."
Jack walked away, leaving Harry standing a few feet away from Daniel. He had better things to do than look at human remains. He needed to find a way home so he began to look for anything that might connect to the doorway that got the trio to wherever it was they currently were.
"He's pissed," Harry sighed. "I guess I would be, too, in his position, but I didn't ask for him to come along, or you, either."
"You lied to him. He doesn't like being lied to," the archaeologist stated calmly before returning to the village center.
Harry looked around and found a green plant. Being hungry, he gave it a taste, quickly deciding the food was safe and then consuming a dinner-sized portion of the presumed-to-be vegetable.
With Daniel content to explore the village more in depth, Jack ambled over to the river and sat down on a stone stool of sorts. A smaller stone was in front of it, so he settled his feet atop it. It was sunset and pleasant. Were he on Earth in a favorite fishing spot, he could really enjoy the atmosphere.
As Jack sat, Harry approached. He was holding a twig in his hand, but he said nothing. He didn't really know what to say.
"I guess I can see why you'd want to retire here, given your choices," Jack conceded quietly. ~But I'd rather be home, with Danny, then trapped here.~
"Find anything that might be a doorway back?" Harry asked.
"You gonna kill me?"
There was a pause before Jack responded, "I'll sleep on it." He stood and left Harry on the dock. He saw Daniel on the far side of the village and joined him. "I wished you hadn't followed me, Danny."
"So, you'd rather you be here alone and me be at the ruins or on Earth, wondering where you were and if I'd ever see you again. Is that what you're saying?"
"You know better than that."
"Okay, so we're here, together. We'll get back home together, too."
"Agreed," Jack responded. "We don't have food."
"There's this," Daniel pointed out as he reached around and grabbed some of the green produce he'd picked. "It's not bad."
"I've had some," Jack replied, though he took some of what Daniel offered. "It's not what they'd call a varied diet."
"No, but it's something."
"Yeah, it's something," Jack affirmed with a small smile. "We need to get some sleep."
"Maybourne's just teasing, Daniel. He doesn't believe anything he's said, about us, that is."
"I know, but ..."
"Yeah, we need to be careful. I'll bunk over there," Jack spoke while pointing toward the spot he'd chosen.
"I'll be there," Daniel advised, nodding toward a spot he'd picked out while walking around the village.
Earlier, Harry also chose areas to reside in. Each area was the remnant of a hut or home, presumably used by one or more of the dead. Some of the deserted and now open-air huts still had cots and curtains that may have served as doors. It gave the three a small semblance of privacy, though neither Jack nor Daniel wanted it.
A bit reluctantly, both men headed for their sleep areas without touching or being touched by the other. They could hear Harry in the distance and couldn't risk his discovering the truth about them, especially with the jokes he'd made all day about their relationship. It wasn't the end to the day either wanted, but Jack and Daniel were both glad that they were at least together in this one-time paradise.
The next morning, Jack, Daniel, and Harry ate a breakfast of greens. It was all they had.
"Harry, we need wood for fires. Think you can handle that?"
"Daniel, see if you can find us something else to eat. This health food stuff is going to get old fast."
"What about you?" the archaeologist asked.
"I'm going to see what else is around here. Maybe there's another doorway out there or some better accommodations." Jack walked away, but as he reached the arched entrance, he stopped and called out, "Daniel!"
Daniel glanced at Harry and then slowly rose and made his way to the colonel.
"Danny, I don't trust Harry even when I have my eyes on him."
"Don't let your Beretta out of your sight."
"It's right here," Daniel assured, though he did not reach for it, not wanting Harry to see a gun check.
"Danny, I'm serious. Harry swiped Carter's zat with ease. Don't let him get your gun."
The lovers gazed upon each other for all of three seconds before they knew they had to separate.
Jack looked over at Harry for brief second and then walked through the archway.
The colonel turned and waited expectantly.
"You, too," Jack responded before finally leaving the village behind.
For hours, Jack searched the area surrounding the village. It really was a scenic paradise. The fields were beautiful spaces full of golden flowers, and the forest was as green as any on Earth. Jack came upon a waterfall and paused, allowing himself to fantasize making love with Daniel right beneath the falls. It was only a daydream, though, and while the lovers sometimes took risks when it came to their passion, it wasn't something they could afford to do with Harry around and possibly suspicious of their relationship.
Refilling his canteen and taking a minute to freshen his face, Jack headed back for the village.
Meanwhile, the UAV's initial search was unsuccessful in locating the missing men. Sam was concerned with the failure to find them while also blaming herself for the situation since Maybourne's flight was due to his grabbing her zat. General Hammond allowed her to call upon other scientists, including Doctor Bill Lee. Hopefully, the extra manpower would result in finding Jack, Daniel, and Harry quickly.
"Well, I don't think we're walking out of here," the colonel told Daniel and Harry upon his return to the camp.
Still breaking small pieces of wood for a fire, Harry responded, "No way of knowing how far we were transported. We could be on the other side of the planet."
"Which is why we survive here until we're rescued."
"Until we're rescued," Harry repeated skeptically. "Jack, this place is supposed to be a secret. The doorway was designed to keep it that way."
"Of course, we have the only key known to man," Jack retorted as he sat down and pulled out an energy bar, surprising both of the other men.
The colonel immediately broke off a large piece and handed it to his archaeologist, a small smile accompanying the gesture.
"Thanks," Daniel acknowledged.
"The least you could have done was eat that before you got here," Harry stated unhappily since he obviously wasn't getting a piece of the bar.
Staring at Harry, Jack purposely took a bite of the bar while his eyes stared at the reason for his current predicament.
"Did you find anything?" Jack asked Daniel regarding food and water.
"Jack, I couldn't find any other water source," Daniel answered.
"I've been drinking the river straight up," Harry pointed out.
"Well, that's smart," Jack replied with a degree of sarcasm.
"I'm not dead yet," Harry pointed out.
"Jack, they're never gonna find us," Harry submitted.
"Look, we only have what we have," Daniel interjected. "There's no other water, Jack, unless you found something."
Daniel reached over, surprising his lover, and tugged on Jack's canteen.
"That's full, Jack. You took the same risk," Daniel asserted.
"Yeah, well, like you said, we need water."
"No one has shown any signs of ill health, so I think we have to assume the water is okay," Daniel put forward.
"We still need food. Any luck with that?"
"Sorry. I spent all day searching, in and out of the village. This ... whatever it is," Daniel said, gesturing at a pile of the green food, "is all we have, aside from your energy bar."
"Nice of you to share," Harry whined, surprised and pleased when Jack tossed him a portion of the bar.
Daniel smiled internally. He knew Jack wouldn't be greedy with the bar, and he noted his lover had already put aside a piece for Harry.
~Gawd, he's incorrigible,~ Daniel opined. ~He just wanted to get a rise out of Maybourne, and he did, so I guess he accomplished his mission.~
"I see a river," Jack spoke brightly.
"So?" Harry asked.
"I think I'll go fishing tomorrow."
~For Jack, that's paradise,~ Daniel reflected.
After another breakfast of the green produce, Jack gathered up a few things to make a fishing pole, after which he searched for bait. He figured it shouldn't take too long to catch a few fish. Meanwhile, Daniel continued his research which today meant he was on a quest for artifacts. As for Harry, he was content to relax and simply enjoy not having to look over his shoulder.
A few hours passed when Daniel joined Jack at the dock and inquired, "Caught any yet?"
"Nah. It's this bait."
"What did you use?"
"A twig. Daniel, there's not a worm in sight. Where are the worms?"
"Why are you asking me?"
"Because you're here."
Daniel chuckled as he sat down and stared out over the river. He had one leg crooked and the other tucked under. He rested his right hand over his knee.
"How many have you thrown back?" Daniel queried, looking up at Jack's innocent face.
"Danny, if we were at the cabin, I'd answer that, but we're here, somewhere, and all we have is ... lettuce. With all the respect due to the little fishies of this planet, if I catch one, I'm not throwing it back."
"Jack, I haven't seen any other animal life. Have you seen any?"
"Birds, bugs, lots of bugs," Jack answered, slapping his arm to kill an insect that had been circling him for the last few minutes.
"No, I mean a fox, coyote, rabbits ... anything?"
"Lions, tigers, or bears?" the older man quipped. "No."
With some hesitancy, Daniel asked, "Have you seen a fish?"
"Have you heard them?"
"They're in there," Jack assured. He glanced at his Heart and asked, "Danny, did you find that book?"
"I saw it when we arrived. It's round, like plates bound together. It has pictures."
"Where is it?"
"I left it where I found it, by a table at the center of the village."
Shaking his head, the younger man responded, "Jack, I've walked all the village and I haven't seen anything."
"Maybourne," Jack spoke sourly.
"I'll ask him," Daniel replied, starting to get up.
"Whoa!" Jack called out, reaching over and stopping Daniel from moving. "You can ask him when we're both there."
Daniel sighed. He understood the intent behind his name. It was one that said there would be no discussion. Jack was full of distrust for Harry Maybourne, and that distrust made him leery of Daniel doing or saying anything that Harry might interpret as a challenge.
The archaeologist opted to go along, silently admitting, ~I don't think I trust Maybourne, either.~
"I don't have it, Jack. I never even noticed it," Harry claimed when confronted about the alien object.
"From what Jack told me, that artifact could have some answers about what happened here."
"I don't have it, and what does it matter what happened here. We're stranded."
"Where is it, Harry?" Jack asked forcefully, his weapon pointed at the disgraced former colonel.
"I don't have it," Harry said for the third time, his eyes big as he outstretched his arms in innocence.
"I'm gonna shoot you."
"I can't give you what I don't have."
"Jack," Daniel called out. "It's not worth it."
"Daniel, we're in our own little paradise here. In fact, I should have thought of this earlier. We make ourselves a court, convict him, and dole out punishment."
"Jack," a concerned Daniel called out while reaching over and gently tapping on his soulmate's arm. "Death for hiding an artifact is not justice. It's murder."
"Who'd know? You and me. Harry'd be dead."
"Jack!" Daniel chastised strongly, his sharpness cutting through the colonel.
Jack whipped his head toward Daniel, an action that seemed to snap him out of his anger.
"If you *find* the artifact, let us know," Jack told the outsider, which was how Jack thought of Harry.
"Yeah, sure," Harry agreed. "You going to stop pointing that at me now."
"Thinkin' about it," Jack responded, keeping the P-90 aimed at Harry for a few more seconds before dropping it to his side. "I'm hungry," he said and then turned and walked away.
"I'd like to see that book."
"Book?" Harry asked.
"It sounds like a book. Whatever it is, I'd like to see it," Daniel put forth before leaving Harry behind.
Harry was trying to sleep under the realm of dark when voices interfered. He honed in on the sounds and came to a realization. The sounds were voices, voices belonging to Jack and Daniel, and they didn't sound happy.
"You're freakin' Special Ops. What's so hard about getting an artifact?" Daniel challenged.
"You wouldn't let me shoot him!"
"So you're only choice was to kill Maybourne or do nothing?"
Jack thought for a moment and then affirmed, "Yes."
"Jack, you're smarter than that."
"Gawd!" the frustrated Daniel exclaimed. "You just don't want me to do my job."
"What are you talking about?"
"I'm an archaeologist, an anthropologist, a ..."
"Daniel, I know your credentials."
"All I'm saying is that if we had that artifact, I might learn something, but then that might show you up, and you wouldn't like that."
"Daniel, you're losing your mind."
"You'd like that."
"Oh, for crying out loud," Jack vocalized unhappily. "You want the friggin' artifact, I'll get it for you, but you gotta let me kill Maybourne."
"You're the one losing your mind," Daniel accused.
"You're always hungry."
"Yeah, and I'm gonna go eat."
"Not until we finish this," the younger man insisted. "I want to see that artifact."
"For Pete's sake, shut the heck up," Harry interjected, tossing the circular object onto the table. "I was messing with you two. When you'd get so loud and grumpy?"
"None of your business, Harry," Jack yelled.
"Stop yelling at me," Harry chided. "I gave you the thing back." He yawned and suggested, "Go eat some green, Jack; and you enjoy your book. Trust me, there's nothing there but drawings, like a kid's coloring book." As he walked away, he muttered, "You're worse than an old married couple. You're more like an angry divorced couple."
Harry returned to his airy hut and hoped Jack and Daniel would cease their arguing so he could get some sleep.
The lovers stood in silence, confused and uncertain about their argument.
"No, it was me."
"It was both of us."
"We must be tired."
"Probably," Daniel agreed. "I'm sorry. I don't know why I was so upset."
"Me, too. Maybe it was the idea of shooting Harry, the subconscious mind and all that."
Daniel allowed himself to smile a little and even released a short chuckle at Jack's words.
"Goodnight, Jack," Daniel stated, picking up the alien picture book and going to his hut.
"Yum," Jack praised mockingly as he ate more of the planet's produce on his next afternoon while Harry was napping. "Danny, I think I might turn green from eating enough of this stuff."
Daniel chuckled and nodded, even as he took another mouthful.
"There *has* to be something else here," Jack insisted.
"Seen any fish yet?"
"No, but we have birds and insects. There's gotta be fish in that river."
"You're the one to find it."
"From what?" Daniel questioned. "I don't have any of my reference materials with me, but then I'm not sure what I'd use anyway. The Furlings are still a huge mystery to us, Jack, and ..."
"What?" Jack asked, alarmed by his Love's tone.
"I'm not sure this is the Furling's doing."
"Not a Furling paradise?"
"I don't know. Maybe. The Furlings may have, or had, a place like this, to hide, just like the Nox can cloak themselves to hide from the Goa'uld."
"So it may have been a Furling hideout."
"Maybe, but why are they dead? Jack, look around. It's beautiful here. It is a paradise, except there aren't any land animals and no people. What could have happened?"
"That doorway didn't let a Goa'uld through. It's like one of Thor's hammers," Jack put forth. "That's why the zats didn't make it through."
"What are you thinking?"
"We don't know that a Goa'uld didn't come through the doorway. All we know is that Goa'uld weapons couldn't come through."
"You think a Goa'uld came here?"
"You're big on the maybe today."
"Maybe," Daniel mused.
"Daniel, can't you say something else?"
"Sure. Go fish. I'd like to have something besides plants for a change."
"I'll give it my best shot," Jack promised, taking another bite of the plant substance and walking towards the river.
Later on, Jack stood at the open doorway to Daniel's hut and asked sharply, "Any luck with the drawings yet?"
"Pictographs, and no," Daniel answered as he stared at his hands while sitting Indian style on his cot.
"Daniel, have you even looked at it?"
"Of course, I have. What kind of a question is that?"
"An important one. I haven't seen you look at it even once."
"Well, you haven't been here more than once or twice."
"Daniel!" Jack rebuked, cocking his head toward the middle of the village where Harry was lurking about.
"What, Jack? Who cares?"
"*You* do," Jack argued. He managed to lower his voice as he added, "You're the one who won't let me retire."
"You just don't want me to succeed."
"Now that's rich. That's crap, and you know it. You just want to stay here with Maybourne," Jack accused.
"Oh, gawd!" Daniel exclaimed in disbelief, seeing the green growing in Jack's normally brown eyes. Standing, he grabbed the artifact and challenged, "If you're so fascinated with this coloring book, *you* translate it."
Jack flew back as he caught the item, barely able to prevent it from falling to the dirt ground. Even so, the different leaves of the book opened up.
"Daniel, one day you're gonna regret this."
"I don't know, but you'll regret it, whatever it is."
"That makes no sense!"
"You make no sense!" Jack shouted.
"Why do you carry that around all the time?" Daniel asked about the P-90. "We're in paradise."
"We're on a friggin' planet. There might be monsters out there!" Jack exclaimed, his right arm raising up for emphasis.
"There could be monsters right here."
"Yeah, and I'm looking at one."
All of a sudden, Jack dropped the object, letting it slam against the ground, as he aimed his P-90 at Daniel, who pulled out his Beretta and aimed it at Jack.
The action stunned both of them like whiplash.
"What the ..." Jack began.
"What are we doing?" Daniel asked, his voice suddenly weak and vulnerable as he stared in fright at his weapon before putting it away.
Jack lowered his P-90 and walked to Daniel, letting any sense of separation disappear.
"I don't know what's happening, but we're all acting a little crazy, if you ask me," the colonel asserted.
"I need you, Jack."
"What are we supposed to do, Danny? Do you want to tell Harry? It's the only way we can be together."
"We can't tell him."
Daniel's eyes closed and then he felt Jack's head lean against his, their foreheads touching. It's what they did when they could do nothing more. Both men breathed heavily, both desperately needing a physical connection with the other. Still, they believed they would be rescued, so they had to be strong and that meant not revealing the truth about their relationship. For now, they had to forge ahead and get the most courage they could from this moment, mere seconds of unity before they pulled back and could only gaze into the other's eyes.
His mouth moved, but only silence came out when Jack communicated, "I love you, Angel."
With a smile, Daniel's lips moved as he silently returned, "I love you, too."
Full of regret, Jack backed and then turned around, leaving Daniel alone in his hut.
In the next period of daylight, Jack awoke from a nap and stretched. He considered heading for the river to sneak in a bath. He felt filthy, but he wasn't sure that was a good idea. It would leave him vulnerable and his mind was warning him to beware.
~What am I supposed to be worried about? Or is that who? Harry. It must Harry. It's not Daniel. I love Daniel.~ Jack groaned. ~Maybe I'm losing my mind. This place could might have been a paradise, but it sure isn't now. Too many skeletons.~
With the sun beating down on the village, Jack reached for his sunglasses. He'd taken them off before napping, lifting them off with his right hand and letting them rest just above his head. Now they were nowhere to be found.
Jack walked hurriedly out of his hut and searched the area with a determined focus. Then he saw them.
The colonel walked to the bench by the cooking area the trio were using most often and shouted, "I'm gonna get you for this, Harry!"
On the bench, Jack's sunglasses were covered with leafy green produce.
"Oy," Jack spoke sourly as he picked up his sunglasses and began to peel away the green stuff. "Not funny, Harry."
Harry appeared, coming into to view at the side of the cooking area, and declared, "Where's our fish, Jack?"
"In the river, Harry."
"I'd rather have some in my belly."
"I'm workin' on it," Jack claimed.
"Work harder, Jack," the ex-NID leader suggested, turning and walking away.
"How about you?" Jack called out to Harry's back. "Make a pole and try it yourself."
Not turning around, Harry raised his right hand to wave off the comment and countered, "You're the great fisherman, Jack."
"Yeah, right," Jack sighed as he sat down to give his full attention to cleaning his eyewear.
The skies darkened and the trio retired for the evening, each going to their separate huts. Harry made a detour, however, going to a woody spot where they'd set up a primitive latrine. The location was far away from the river. A hole about eight feet deep was dug and some logs were placed in helpful positions. Nearby greenery was easily accessible to substitute for toilet tissue. It was private and yet the sun easily shone down on it to help with more rapid waste decomposition.
Needing to relieve more than his bladder, Harry sat down on a log and yawned, only his yawn spontaneously developed into a yelping roar. That was followed by the screaming of Jack's name four times.
Inside his hut, Jack stretched out on his cot, snickering as he grew more comfortable.
"Jack, Harry's ..." Daniel stopped, his concern lessening as he saw his lover's pleased smirk that accompanied his laughter. "Jack, what did you do?"
"I left Harry a present," Jack answered. "Don't worry, he's okay."
"What was the present?"
"I don't want to get sappy, Danny, but I left him a whole lot of twiggy sap, right where he needs it."
Daniel rolled his eyes and sighed, "That's why you told me to hold it."
"I put a new log behind that tree to the left of the latrine."
The archaeologist simply shook his head and returned to his hut, vowing to make sure he carefully checked the latrine when the need existed.
Life moved forward for the trio, sometimes peacefully, at other times with animosity, and in some moments, amusingly. This latter condition was the one currently being exhibited under the guise of playing a game.
Jack frowned as he looked around the village, trying to think of an appropriate subject. He was standing away from the cooking area, but facing it. Daniel was seated on one bench and Harry on another. Jack reached over and scratched his left upper arm.
"Come on, Jack," Harry beckoned.
"In a hurry, Harry?" Jack returned.
"We've been waiting ten minutes already," Harry complained.
"You have an appointment somewhere?" SG-1's leader questioned pointedly.
"Come on, Jack," Harry pleaded.
"Jack, play the game, or you forfeit," Daniel warned with stern, calculating eyes. ~He won't want to lose. He hates losing."
"Yeah, yeah, ah, okay," Jack returned. He held up two fingers. ~Easy one.~
"Two words," Harry quickly responded, cutting off Daniel's quieter reply.
Jack tapped his finger, prompting Daniel to chime, "First word," to which Jack nodded that was correct. Then he walked over to where his green BDU jacket was, his P-90 atop it. He pointed and then mimed firing his weapon all over the village.
"Killing," Harry said.
"Destruction," Daniel called out.
"Gunfight at the OK Corral," Harry guessed eagerly.
"Two words, Harry, not five," Daniel reminded.
The silver-haired man was grumbling and lamenting his choice. Maybe he could change it. No one would know but him.
~Crap. I can't lie to Danny.~
The colonel moved on and held up two fingers again.
"Second word," Harry put forth, getting another nod from Jack.
Jack put two of his fingers close together as in a pinching motion.
"Contraction," Daniel offered, sighing at Jack's disgruntled face.
"Short word," Harry spoke, staring at Daniel with a look designed to make the linguist feel like a two-year-old.
Jack made a big swinging motion with his arm to his rear. Then he took both arms and dramatically pointed them forward, not unlike an airport worker guiding a plane backwards. Then he stood straight and gestured with his hands in a downward direction.
"I have no idea," Daniel admitted.
"A little help, Jack," Harry requested.
Jack thought for a moment and shook his head in a slow, deliberate motion.
"Why not?" Harry asked. "You're a lousy actor, Jack. Give us a break."
When Jack continued to move his head back and forth, Daniel lit up and shouted, "No!"
Excitedly, Jack nodded and then used his hands to indicate the word needed to be strung out. Then he made a peace sign and placed another finger next to it.
"W?" Harry mumbled.
"No and ..." Daniel lit up again. "Oh, now!"
Jack clapped, pleased that one word was revealed. He indicated he was going back to the first word, only then he simply stood.
~How'd I get myself into this? Boredom. What a man will do when there's nothing to do,~ Jack sighed inwardly. ~Syllable time.~
The first syllable was a piece of cake for Jack. He indicated it was one of the usual short words and both Daniel and Harry quickly tossed out several words like "a" and "the" and fairly rapidly realized that "a" was the first syllable.
For the second syllable, Jack patted his pants.
"Pocket," Harry shouted.
When Jack moved his hands together without touching to indicate the word needed to be shorten, it was Daniel who called out, "Pock," and got the affirmative nod.
"Show off," Harry sneered.
"You could have gotten it," Daniel refuted.
"You bet I could have if you hadn't spoken over me."
"I didn't do that."
Harry cackled and was about to say more when Jack literally hovered over him with his best intimidating stare.
"Do you want to play this game or not?" one colonel asked the former colonel.
"Calm down, Jack."
"Then play the game. *Third* syllable."
After a few more glaring seconds that ensured Harry backed down from his verbal assault of Jack's archaeologist, Jack gave the next clue. He stared at Harry and simply pointed in another direction.
"Go," Daniel correctly surmised, getting a point and nod from Jack that the word was correct. ~We'd both love Harry to go, but it appears we're stuck with him.~
Next, Jack made the players aware that he was about to give the clue for the last syllable. He licked his lips and then touched them with his fingers.
"Lips!" both Daniel and Harry exclaimed.
"Or tongue. It could be tongue," Harry called out.
Jack waited for one of the other men to put the syllables together. Harry looked stumped, still focusing on "tongue" for one reason or another.
Daniel softly and thoughtfully spoke, "A pock go lips ... Apocalypse?"
The mime enthusiastically motioned to Daniel, who just starred at him.
"I have no idea."
"Put it together, for crying out loud."
"I got it!" Harry exclaimed. "It's ..."
"Apocalypse Now," Daniel answered.
"That's it! Way to go. Yes!" a happy fist-pumping Jack exclaimed. "SG-1 wins again!"
"You told him," Harry accused.
"No, he didn't. He never had a chance to do that, Maybourne," Daniel reminded.
"You said you had no idea."
"I didn't, but it's a game where you put words and syllables together. We already had the second word, so I put it together. Is that movie, Jack?"
Jack sighed, "It won Best Picture for its year."
"Oh, okay," an unimpressed Daniel replied. "Fun game," he added, although his expression didn't match his words. "I'm going for a walk."
Harry stood and approached Jack, accusing, "You didn't want me to win."
"Of course, I didn't, Harry, but Daniel won fair and square, and he didn't even know it was a movie."
"I don't know how, Jack, but I know you rigged it."
"He's a linguist, Harry. Get over it," Jack urged as he turned, picking up his jacket and the P-90 before disappearing inside his hut.
"He's out to get me," Harry told the air before going to the supply of green plant and imbibing in another handful of the food.
The passage of time was a bit wonky for the men in the apparent paradise. They spent time together and apart, eating the only known food available to them, engaging in verbal sparring, and even relaxing by the river. Though the pranks done by Jack and Harry were playful for a while, the humor vanished as each became more upset, interpreting the acts as mean or spiteful. Daniel thought they were revenged based and opted to stay away from the fray which was also, in his mind, a way to protect himself from becoming a victim of the two jokesters.
The snippiness, some harsher in tone and other resembling petty bickering, was attributed to the men being trapped in a Utopia that was essentially a bust. Harry was still bummed that his planned forever in paradise was anything but that, and Jack and Daniel were irritated that they couldn't be close to each other. Harry was always around, too close for the lovers to do or say anything for fear of being seen or heard. Adding to their displeasure, their diet of green plants was tiring, especially since it was now their sole food option.
As the planet's sun shone over an a new morning, Daniel was still sleeping and Harry was gathering wood and sticks for fires. He'd become the wood gathering for the trio.
Meanwhile, a barefoot Jack was fishing, not on the dock but over where the land met the river almost evenly. He sat comfortably on a log, his pants rolled up so as not to get wet as he worked his homemade fishing pole in yet another quest to hook a fish.
Still eating his plant breakfast, Harry approached and asked, "Anything?"
"Couple of nibbles," Jack answered. "They're down there, though."
"When we first came here, I thought it was quiet. Now it's like I can't keep the noise out: insects, animals, I don't know. I keep hearing things."
"They're called birds."
"No, no, no, these are weird sounds," Harry clarified.
"We're on an alien planet."
"Yeah. Jack I can't live on this stuff," Harry stated as he held up the green plant. "It tastes like arugula. I hate arugula."
"Don't eat it."
"We have to eat."
"You know, if you keep standing there yakking away, I'm not gonna catch anything." All of a sudden, Jack saw Harry throw an object into the river. "What was that?" Jack's eyes widen when he saw the man pull out a detonator, and he sprung up in alarm. He watched as the water spiked upward from the explosion and stared in disbelief as dead fish surfaced. "That is just wrong on so many levels."
Not caring, Harry walked into the water and began tossing dead fish over to Jack.
~Danny's not going to approve, but we're hungry, so he'll eat.~
"Rise and shine," Jack called out as he gently nudged his lover's backside. "Daniel!"
The archaeologist rolled over and smiled. It was a grin Jack knew well, and one he couldn't afford his groggy lover to get lost in, not with a third party feet away.
"Harry killed the fish."
The succinct and rather blunt statement jolted Daniel to the unpleasant reality that he was marooned in some unknown location with a man he loved and another man who was an untrustworthy escaped prisoner.
"He blew up a bunch of helpless fish. I say we have a trial and hang his sorry hide."
Daniel reached for his glasses, put them on, and asked, "Before breakfast?"
Jack laughed and then advised, "The fish are cooking."
"Oh, yeah, okay," the still sleepy man acknowledged as he sat up and covered up a yawn.
Minutes later, the three men were seated around one of the village's cooking areas.
"Don't ever do that again," Jack warned Harry about the fish.
"You're saying you don't hear things?"
In a word, Jack answered, "No."
"What about you?" Harry asked Daniel.
"Uh, I'm a, a sound sleeper."
"Last night, I swear I heard someone running around out here; spent an hour wandering around trying to spot him."
"Animals," Jack suggested.
"Maybe you were sleepwalking," Daniel put forth.
"He's saying you're losing your mind, Harry, and I agree with him," Jack attested.
"You don't find things a little spooky around here?"
"Made so only by your presence," Jack responded.
"Yeah, well, I'm beginning to wonder if some of the Utopians might still be alive."
"There's no evidence of that," Jack negated.
"But he could be right," Daniel interjected. Seeing a look of consternation on his Love's face, he rationalized, "Look, I know we've explored and haven't seen any real signs of life other than the birds and a lot of insects ..."
"Don't forget the fish," a happy Harry put forth.
With a nod of agreement, Daniel continued, "And, well, we don't know anything about these ... Utopians. Maybe we can't see them, like the Nox. Maybe they are the Nox."
"I don't see a cloud city," Jack negated.
"And we never did until they decided to show it to us," the archaeologist reminded.
"Maybe they're here in another way," Harry agreed.
"All right, now you're both getting spooky," the colonel contended.
"Oh, come on, Jack, you've seen stranger things: other dimensions; planes of existence. You said it yourself, this is an alien planet," Harry reminded.
"So what do you want me to do?"
"Give me your nine mil," Harry requested.
"Oh, come on. You've got the P-90. You sleep with it beside you, for Pete's sake. Even the scientist has a Beretta. I just want to be able to protect myself."
"Jack, I want that gun," Harry insisted, standing up to hover over SG-1's leader.
"Forget it! You don't like it here, deal with it. It's your own friggin' fault," Jack maintained.
"You wouldn't care if I died, would you?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Some alien creature comes in and attacks me in the middle of the night, *hauls* me out while you're sleeping."
"The three of us are the only ones here, Harry. Trust me, the only thing you have to be afraid of around here is me."
"Yeah," Harry agreed, standing with his fish in his hands and remembering how Jack had already raised his gun to him on the planet. "You're both in this together. You don't want me here."
"Maybourne, there's no conspiracy here," Jack repudiated.
"He'll get you, too," Harry called out, pointing at Daniel before backing away cautiously and returning to his sleeping area.
"He's gotten loopy," Jack told Daniel.
"Jack, about the sounds," Daniel spoke quietly.
"Harry's getting loopy," Jack reiterated.
"You're missing your Froot Loops."
With a chuckle, Jack simply nodded his head and acknowledged, "Every darn day."
"You told Harry you didn't hear the sounds."
"No, I told Harry I wasn't saying I heard them."
"Try that again," Daniel requested.
"Harry asked if I was I didn't hear the sounds. I answered in the negative, that I wasn't saying that."
"So, you have heard them?"
Jack sighed. He didn't like the creepy, spooky stuff. Harry gave him an out with the wording of his query. Daniel wasn't giving him that out, so he had to respond honestly to his Heart.
"Yeah. Mumbles, mutters, hissing, swirling nonsense. I figure it's just the wind."
"What wind?" Daniel asked. "The wind has been minimal. This is a paradise, Jack. The weather has been almost perfect."
"I wish you hadn't said that." Jack waited a few seconds before asking, "You've heard them?"
Daniel nodded and added, "But I don't know what they are. Sometimes ... sometimes, Jack, I think it's just in my head, like a, a ... gawd, I don't know."
"Okay, let's try to hone in on those sounds if we here them again."
A minute passed and then another. The air seemed to change, both Jack and Daniel suddenly feeling like their muscles were constricting with tenseness.
"I think I'll go ... over there."
"You do that."
As Daniel walked away, Jack took a hearty bite of his fish as his ire grew for no obvious reason.
As time passed, Jack began to worry more about Harry and the sounds he heard. He feared the traitor might try to harm him or Daniel. As a preventative measure, he carefully chose a spot to hide the clips to the P-90, along with a few grenades he had. He glanced around and never saw Harry so assumed his hiding place was secure.
Back on Earth, Sam suggested using a Tok'ra ship to retrieve a satellite that could more easily locate the missing men. Due to the cost and complications involved, including dismantling the satellite to get it through the Stargate and then re-assembling it, Hammond argued against the idea. Immediately after that decision, Stargate Command was contacted by Jolen of the Tok'ra. Having received a message for assistance from the Tau'ri, Jolen flew his ship over the planet and did an extensive scan. Unfortunately, there were no signs of life.
"Then they are not on the planet," Teal'c stated with about as much surprise as he was capable of exhibiting in his vocalization.
"Where could they be?" Hammond inquired.
"I didn't think the doorway was that powerful," Sam admitted. "If it were able to transport them anywhere, like a Stargate, then they could be anywhere. We might not be able to find them."
Sam's guilt at having her zat taken from her was causing her to doubt herself. She already determined the doorway didn't have the power of a Stargate, and yet, now, she wondered if all of her calculations and testing were wrong.
"Major, is there anything else you can do on the planet that might assist us in locating Colonel O'Neill and the others?" Hammond asked.
"We searched as far as we could with the UAV and with Jolen's report, I don't know what else could be there, Sir. Doctor Lee's team found nothing unusual."
"It has not been much time, MajorCarter," the Jaffa pointed out.
"Doctor Lee believes the targeting data is inside the key, and Colonel Maybourne took the key with him."
Hammond considered the information they had and while logic dictated there was not much Stargate Command could do, he wasn't anywhere near ready to give up on finding Jack and Daniel.
"Return to the planet with Doctor Lee's team. Keep trying."
"Yes, Sir," Sam acknowledged.
Daniel looked up at the setting sun. Dinner was done and nothing to write home about as it was now the standard trays of greens, greens, and more greens, although Jack had managed to catch a couple of fish not killed by Harry's blast. The archaeologist was feeling a chill and was about to restock the dwindling wood pile so he could build a decent fire when Harry showed up with a new supply.
"It's about time," Jack snarked.
"Who put me in charge of this all the time?" Harry asked unhappily.
"It's your job, Harry. Just do it," came the colonel's cold response. Suddenly, Jack's face grew less tense. He stared at the accumulation of twigs, wood pieces, and small logs. Without saying anything, he reached down and grabbed one of the large pieces. ~This'll do.~
"Hey, where are you going with that?" Harry barked.
"To my hut. You have a problem with that, Harry?"
"Jack, we need that for the fire."
"Consider it my third of the heat."
As Jack disappeared, Harry looked at Daniel and asked, "What's he going to do with the wood?"
"I have no idea. Maybe he's going to hit his head on it."
Harry shook off Daniel's response and Jack's theft of the wood, although he made a mental note that he would not allow Jack to get away with it again.
Daniel's curiosity got the better of him, and he soon found himself at Jack's hut.
"Jack, what are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
"Staring at a piece of wood."
"Always the sharp one, Danny," Jack quipped as he felt an anxiousness he didn't quite understand.
Jack was sitting on his cot, his back against the wall. In his hands was the piece of wood.
Jack's focus remained on the wood in which he saw possibilities. He just wasn't sure he could remember all he needed to in order to achieve his potential goal.
The next breakfast was unremarkable and when the intake of the plant was done, the trio went on their way, each not-so-covertly eyeing the others before settling into their own private activities.
As the day went on, though, Daniel felt lonely for his soulmate and saw Jack sitting on the dock. He ambled forward, hoping to spend some positive time with his silver fox. Private time was so difficult with Harry always around. It made the paradise almost a prison.
"Hey, Danny. Have a sit," Jack invited.
With a smile, the archaeologist sat down on a log that was slightly lower than the wooden stump Jack was using.
"What are you doing?"
"That's what I thought," the confused scientist responded.
With a smile, Jack explained, "My grandfather used to whittle."
"Yeah. When he didn't fish, he whittled. I hadn't thought about that in years until last night." Jack reached over and surprised Daniel by tossing him a piece of wood. "Get out your knife." Seeing his Love retrieve his knife, Jack instructed, "Hold the wood in your left hand and pretend you're paring an apple. Hold the knife with the blade towards you."
"Are you sure about this?"
"Trust me, Danny. My grandfather said this was the true whittler's cut. Take your right thumb, brace it against the wood ... yeah, like that, and squeeze your fingers ..." With a chuckle, Jack clarified, "your *right* fingers, Daniel."
"Because that's how you'll get the blade to your thumb."
"You want me to cut off my thumb?"
Still chuckling, Jack demonstrated what he meant and continued, "Short strokes, but, you're right, you have to make sure your thumb isn't in the path of your stroke. Give it a go."
"I'm not sure this is part of my true function."
"It's a man's function; you're a man. Whittle!"
Daniel gave his soulmate a small smile and began to carefully follow Jack's instruction. He repeated the movement several times, actually feeling a bit of pride at his success.
"No blood yet," the archaeologist teased.
"I cut myself a lot the first time, when was I kid, but Grandpa didn't seem to mind I was bleeding, so I kept going. This is the pull stroke."
"Crazy how stuff you don't think you'd ever remember comes back after decades, but that's what this is, the pull stroke."
"Did you actually make anything, or, uh, do you just keep cutting slivers of wood?"
"The first thing I ever made was an egg."
"Yep. I whittled myself an egg, decorated it, and gave it to Mom for Easter. She thought it was the greatest thing since ice cream."
"Because you made it."
Jack grinned as he replied, "Danny, that egg was the most lopsided thing you could imagine. The only reason she knew it was an egg was because I told her it was." He sighed happily, "Every Easter for years, she put that egg at the center of the dining room table. It was embarrassing."
"But you loved it."
The older man sighed as he reflected back on his very happy childhood. He missed his parents, and right now, he was feeling even more sentimental. He wasn't sure of the exact date, but he figured Mother's Day was close or hand, or had just gone by.
Daniel could sense Jack's pleasure in thinking back to his youth. He knew the O'Neills were a happy family. His was a happy family, too, until his parents were killed, crushed to death by a large stone at a museum.
For a while, the lovers whittled in silence, both feeling pleasure from the experience.
"My grandfather told me once that he made the decision to propose to my grandmother while whittling."
"It's, uh, therapy, I think."
"You, a knife, a piece of wood, and your conscience. Yeah, I guess you're right, but don't call it therapy. It's a hobby."
Daniel's loneliness was gone. It never really mattered what the activity was, even if the activity was doing nothing. It was simply being with Jack that warmed his heart and filled his soul with pleasure.
"I'll bet you've dealt with a lot of bull at the SGC," Harry said to Daniel one day as they waited for the fish Jack caught earlier to cook.
"Maybe," the archaeologist replied, not really wanting to have this conversation with the controversial Maybourne.
"I've seen your type eaten up by jarheads and propeller heads in a week. Jack's been your protector," Harry asserted smugly and then reached for a mouthful of the arugula-like plant.
"I can take care of myself, Maybourne."
"There's something funny about you and Jack," Harry continued. "He's a tough guy; you're ... what are you, Daniel?"
"Whatever I am is none of your business."
"You two are trying to gang up on me," Harry claimed with an anxiety-laced voice.
"We're only trying to survive until we're rescued."
"No one knows where this place is. We're not going to be rescued."
"I believe otherwise, and so does Jack."
Jack reeled in a last fish while mumbling, "Dumb, Stupid, Insane." The words described Harry when he exploded a blast cap in the water, instantly killing a large number of fish. It went against Jack's grain, especially since the dead fish only lasted a couple of days before they were no longer safe to imbibe. "Waste of fish. What did they ever do to Harry?" Removing the fish from the line, he spoke, "Sorry, fish. Maybourne killed a lot of your brethren unnecessarily. I hate waste of life, any life."
Finished for the moment, Jack put his pole on the ground and turned to face the village. That's when he saw Daniel and Harry talking. It made his blood boil, the two men standing too close to each other for Mr. Jealousy to handle.
~He doesn't love me,~ Jack heard himself think. ~No, he does. Doesn't he?~
The colonel's mind was foggy as he struggled for clarity; yet, he couldn't get clear, nor did he comprehend why. He was thinking so hard that a headache began to gnaw at him. He stared at the fish he held in his left hand and he knew it was still alive.
Turning, Jack tossed the fish back into the river and called out, "Get out of here, fish! Go far away. Swim. Live!"
As his ire grew, Jack began to seethe even more. He looked back and could still see Harry standing near Daniel. It was too close.
~I'm going to break his f'ing neck.~
"Jack and Carter are all the rage in the gossip columns."
"You'd have to ask them about that," Daniel returned while wishing the fish would finish cooking.
"Look, Maybourne, what Jack and Sam do, or don't do, is none of my business, and it's none of yours, either."
"I know a cover story when I hear one," Harry maintained as he ate more of the green plant.
"Again, whatever Ja...Jack!"
Daniel's words were cut off by a leaping Jack who took Harry to the ground. The current and colonel-in-name-only wrestled, though Harry wasn't much of a match for Jack, who quickly pinned his arms to the ground.
"Stay away from ..."
"Jack, I'm sure Maybourne doesn't mean to, to gossip about you and Sam. He knows it would be against regulations."
"Carter?" Jack responded, glancing over his shoulder at Daniel, who gave him a pointed look. It was enough to rein in Mr. Jealousy. He looked down at the semi-frightened Harry and warned, "Stay out of my personal business, Maybourne."
Jack got up and walked to his hut.
Daniel looked down at the other man and advised, "He really doesn't like gossip." Then Daniel checked the fish, determined it was done, and walked over to Jack's current abode. "Where's your fish?"
"I threw it back."
The archaeologist smiled as he sat down next to Jack on the cot. He held out the wooden plate, quietly offering half of his fish to his lover.
"Ours," Daniel corrected. As Jack began to chew on a piece of the fish, Daniel quietly assured, "Harry's just playing games. He's trying to bait you and me. He's probably just bored, Jack."
"If he doesn't stay away from you, I'll ..."
"Jack," Daniel warned with his eyes and nodded toward the center of the village. "There's no reason to get upset. You *know* that."
The older man nodded. He couldn't say more, understanding from his soulmate that Harry was close by and probably eavesdropping on the conversation. His Mr. Jealousy was calmer now, but he wanted to hold Daniel, kiss him, hug him, snuggle with him, engage in foreplay, and the list went on, getting more intimate with each thought. The focus on his lover distracted his brain from any thoughts of Harry. Unfortunately, all he could do now was enjoy a simple chat with Daniel as they ate the fish.
~This paradise isn't much of a paradise,~ Jack groaned to himself, getting lost in considerations of displeasure, until his lover's voice drew him out.
"Jack, how many fish have you thrown back since we've been here?"
"What makes you think I've thrown any back, besides the one I just told you about?"
"Because it's your nature. We're not starving here. We may not like it, but we're surviving on the plant, whatever it is. So, how many have you thrown back?"
With a growing smile, Jack conceded, "Enough for Harry to want to shoot me on an hourly basis."
Daniel chuckled, and then Jack did, too, and just that quickly, there was no anger, jealousy, or ideas of harming Harry Maybourne. It was simply Jack and Daniel being together and enjoying each other's company.
The sun was setting, signaling the end of another bright day in the village. Jack was in his hut, while Daniel sat on the dock, his feet dangling over the edge. After a while, he felt a presence approach, but it wasn't the one he preferred to see.
Surprising the archaeologist, Harry sat down a couple of feet away and also let his legs rest over the edge of the dock.
"I really wanted this place to be a paradise," Harry sighed.
"It might have been one, once."
"That scroll was translated correctly," Harry insisted. "This was my shot."
"Can you be more convincing?" Harry asked with a chuckle in his voice. "I know you don't think much of me. That's fair. Jack: he understands. We're alike."
"No, you aren't," Daniel denied strongly.
"We both want the same thing; it's just how we go about getting it that divides us."
"That's a big divide, Maybourne. Wanting the same thing doesn't make you alike. We'd be proof of that."
"Touché," Harry retorted. "Okay, maybe I could have done it differently, but I did the best I could and all I want now is a little corner of a planet to call home without the Feds following me like I'm a monster." He looked at the scientist and stated, "I may have my crooked moments, but I'm not a monster."
"You have a, uh, unpleasant history."
"It's the Teal'c thing, isn't it? That's why you can't let me off the hook."
"You treated him like a guinea pig, and you'd had your way, you would have let him transform into an insect," Daniel responded sternly. "He's a Jaffa, an alien to us on Earth, but he's still a person, and he didn't deserve to be handcuffed and hauled away to become a test case for you, the NID, or anyone."
"You have a point."
"Good to know," Daniel returned sarcastically.
"You got him back," Harry reminded.
"No thanks to you."
"What do you want from me, Doctor Jackson?"
"Stop trying to hurt members of my team."
"What'd I do to Carter?"
"Well, off the top of my head, you betrayed her when she asked for your help."
"She sounded insane."
"She told you the SGC had been overtaken by unknown aliens. We were in a foothold situation, and you misled her."
"It ended up okay."
"Maybourne, it always ends up okay, but not because of you. It's Jack and Sam and Teal'c, and me, too. It's people who care about doing things the right way that make things okay again."
"We're going to be here forever. Maybe it's not the paradise I wanted, but I'm still free. No one's chasing me anymore. There's not a Goa'uld in sight." Standing up, Harry concluded, "All I want is peace and quiet. If I have to be completely alone to get that, okay. There's water, fish, and beautiful dandelions to enjoy. I'm going to like it here, eventually."
"Enjoy yourself, Harry."
Harry looked down at Daniel and stared for a few seconds. Then he bobbed his head a couple of times while looking out over the lake.
"Paradise," Harry sighed somewhat dejectedly before walking away.
As Daniel gazed over the river, his mind wandered for a moment before returning to the just-finished discussion.
~You may want this to be a paradise, Maybourne, but it's not one for you and you know it. You need people to mingle with. Jack and I only need each other.~ Daniel sighed. ~Maybe that's the point, alone, we'd be like you: scared and miserable.~
For a while, Daniel reflected on Harry Maybourne's association with Stargate Command and SG-1. He recalled their first meeting, when Harry strutted into the conference room and announced he was replacing Colonel Kennedy at the NID.
~Jack didn't get along with Colonel Kennedy. Maybourne tried to tell Jack to ... behave,~ the archaeologist mused. ~Nice try, but any chances of a smoother relationship ended when he told us the NID wanted to take control of the Tollan and force them to hand over technology. He certainly wasn't fond of me when Lya showed up and took the Tollan to their planet, and he didn't make any friends when he ordered the SFs to open fire. Bad move there.~
Taking a breath, the archaeologist recalled the next time Maybourne showed up to put a kink in things. That was when the Harry and the NID wanted to take Teal'c into their custody for study after the Jaffa was infected by a giant insect. Harry claimed it could have been a biological weapon. He was willing to sacrifice Teal'c, allowing him to transform into a giant bug, but SG-1 came to the rescue, with some help from a little girl who befriended Teal'c.
~I wonder what happened to her,~ Daniel pondered. ~Ally was her name.~
Next, Daniel recalled SG-1's visit to Madrona and the theft of their touchstone, an object capable of controlling the weather. The team made their first visit to Area 51 as they searched for the device and checked on the second Stargate, the one found in the Antarctic, wanting to ensure it was still deactivated. This was especially important since the new commander at the top secret base was none other than Harry Maybourne.
~He was lucky Teal'c didn't filet him like a fish.~ Daniel sighed, ~That was the start of the worse. Maybourne wasn't discouraged at all with what happened. He was rogue by then, opting to act as a thief rather than an ambassador of good will. We just didn't know how much he'd turned.~
The next time SG-1 and Harry tangled was the foothold situation Daniel brought up during their conversation. It was true Harry betrayed Sam, but in the end, he actually was helpful in taking out the enemy.
~Jack even gave Maybourne credit for helping. He hoped Maybourne wouldn't be such a ... well, a pain in the mik'ta, and worse, after that.~ Daniel's mind veered for a moment. ~We never did come up with a name for the invaders. In our reports, we simply referred to them as an alien species. Gawd, all that havoc, and we never knew what to call them.~
As Daniel went forward he time, he remembered how wrong he and Jack were to have any faith at all in the other man. It was a dark time for the lovers, a time when they both had roles to play, and it weighed heavily on both of them. Jack went undercover to bring down those responsible for stealing from varies Earth allies, including the Asgard and the Tollan. It wasn't long before a rogue element of the NID was discovered to be to blame. They wanted the alien technology to help protect Earth, so they claimed. Somehow, Maybourne was able to escape capture, though the rest of his miscreant team were not.
~I'm not sure Jack can forgive him for what he cost us during that time. If I'm honest, maybe I can't, either.~ Daniel tried to shake off his negativity by moving forward, thoughts of the next time SG-1 saw the man. ~It was in Russia.~
Harry sold the Russians classified information, including the 'how to' of Stargate operation and specifically how to avoid concurrent attempts to form a wormhole. This was because they'd recovered the Stargate from Giza they'd after Thor's ship crashed into the ocean a while back.
~That's treason, Maybourne, and you were caught, tried, and convicted. Your days were numbered and you had no way out, until we needed your help when the NID tried to oust General Hammond. Jack got you out of prison and as a thank you, you escaped to the Caribbean or somewhere exotic. Okay, you did help Jack coerce Senator Kinsey into backing down, so I guess that's something. Okay, it's a big something. You found his computer files that proved he was part of the rogue activity. He knew all about your illegal activities, too. Power was what he wanted, even if it made him out to be the hypocrite.~
Daniel's review jumped ahead in time to when Sam was kidnapped. Jack managed to get in contact with Harry, figuring the convicted traitor could help find those who took Sam. As it turned out, Harry sold a symbiote to Adrian Conrad for a whopping three-million dollars. He preferred to believe that a symbiote in the right hands could have lead to medical advances and breakthroughs. Of course, he didn't do any research to affirm that the person he turned the symbiote over to was someone with those right hands.
~We got Sam back, and you warned us about Frank Simmons, but someone shot Jack, and he was positive that was you, Maybourne. He trusted you, as much as was possible at the time, and then you shot him; at least, he thought you did. You disappeared again, so what were we supposed to think? Of course, the next time he saw you, you swore you didn't shoot him. I guess Jack believed you, or he would have shot you, after we got Teal'c back.~
Daniel's reflection about this time recalled how the Jaffa was trapped inside the Stargate's filter. He remembered his trip to Russia to convince them to turn over their DHD, something desperately needed to retrieve Teal'c. The negotiations were tense, but Daniel found a way.
~And Jack found a way to bring down Frank Simmons, thanks to Harry,~ Daniel sighed. ~And then Maybourne disappeared again. Okay, well, Jack let him go. He'd made a bargain and Jack doesn't backtrack on his promises, unless he's lied to or shot at. Well, Harry didn't shoot Jack. Simmons did that. Maybourne just took advantage of the situation and ran as fast as he could.~
Daniel focused on the river. The sun was completely out of view now. He stared, uncertain what was mystifying him all of a sudden. It wasn't Harry. It was something else, but he couldn't pinpoint it. He took a giant breath as he finally stood up and let go of whatever it was that confused him.
~Maybe you do want peace, Harry. I guess everyone has fought the Goa'uld in their own way, and we've all made plenty of mistakes. I don't know. It's not all methodology, though. You've been out for yourself more times than not. Is that a mistake or plain greed? Do we forgive treason or do we decide that was just a result of a bad decision? Is paradise what you're really after, or are you trying to regain some sense of morality or integrity? Or maybe you need a place to forget it all. Are you running from the government, Harry, or from yourself? And who really should decide if you've earned the right to disappear, again?~
With a load of questions and few, if any, answers, Daniel yawned and headed for his hut. He was tired and wanted to sleep. That was his way of running from his demons of unease on the planet. Sleep always went a long way in forgetting.
More days passed with much of the same back and forth emotions and activities for the three men. Jack fished, whittled, and frequently fought off Mr. Jealousy's desire to break Harry's neck, Daniel spent a lot of time alone in self-analysis trying to deal with his self-doubt while avoiding his passion of archaeology and anthropology almost completely, and Harry continued to be the wood gatherer and resenting it more every day which caused him to get angrier all the time. He'd had an abundant amount of run-ins with Jack and Daniel both, and the more Jack threatened him, the more Harry believed SG-1's leader would follow through.
Then as the sun began to shine upon a new period of daylight, Jack awoke and immediately became aware that his P-90 was gone. He knew instantly who was responsible.
Grabbing his 9mm, Jack searched the village. Though Daniel was still fast asleep, Harry was nowhere to be found. Suspicious, Jack checked his hiding place and let out a breath of irritation upon discovering the clips for the P-90 were gone, as were the grenades.
~I'll scalp his hairy hide.~
Hungry, Jack grabbed the arugula-like plant and began eating. For some reason he didn't understand, he retrieved the book he'd found the first day at the village. He remained surprised that Daniel wasn't too interested in it. To be honest, none of the three men exhibited much of an interest in anything, except for eating and arguing.
Hearing a sound, Jack turned his head. He got up and looked around.
~There's nothing there.~ A frown appeared on the colonel's face. ~Sounds: lots of sounds, but never an explanation for them. He sat back down with the book, hoping to learn something from it. ~Is it a map? Or what?~
As ideas filled his brain, Jack took some bark and burned it, creating a stick of charcoal. He pulled out the pages for easier toting. He had the notion that the pictures might have been some kind of census of the Utopians. He began a systematic search of the village, marking with charcoal on the page every time he located a skeleton. By doing so, he could determine if there were any unaccounted for members of the society.
When his tally was completed, Jack returned to the center of the village. Sitting down at a table, he began to munch on more of the greenery while studying the pictographs. Lifting a piece of plant to his mouth, he stopped and stared at it.
~It's not so bad. Nah,~ the colonel told himself, though he wasn't sure exactly why he was skeptical of the substance all of a sudden.
Then Jack heard another noise and again went in search of the source. It had to be Harry taunting him, or maybe stealing from him. He became frantic, desperate to locate his tormentor. He had to be in the village somewhere.
"Jack," Daniel called out, followed by a yawn. "Why are you running around the village like a madman?"
"Daniel, look at this," Jack urged, walking over to the table where he'd left the book.
"Coloring with charcoal?"
"Daniel, use that scientific brain of yours and *look* at this."
"I have looked at it."
"Danny, why aren't you interested? Why is it that all any of us does around here is eat and argue?"
"I don't understand."
"Neither do I, but *think*!" Jack encouraged. "We were normal for awhile, but lately, you're not researching, I'm not trying to find that dang door, and Harry's only concerned with protecting Harry." He blinked and admitted, "Okay, Harry's normal, but we're not. Why, Danny? The answer has to be here!"
"If we're not ourselves, why are you insisting I look at a book I've already looked at?"
"How the heck do I know, but the drawings ..."
"Pictographs," Daniel clarified.
"See! You can be a pain over a technicality, but you still won't do your friggin' job!"
"No, no, no. I know you, Colonel. You just want to distract me from the truth."
"Oh, and that would be what?"
"Maybe you're saying that military brain of yours can outthink my scared kid mind. Maybe you just want to prove you're better than me. Maybe ..."
"Maybe you'd better shut up before I ..."
"Kill me? Isn't that what you like to do, Jack, kill? You've threatened Maybourne at least thirty times that I know of, and you can't deny that."
"I don't want to kill you, Daniel, or that rat bas..."
"Jack, leave me alone, and keep your coloring book with you."
"Daniel, stop being a ... a brat and *listen* to me." Jack cocked his head. "Oh, I get it. You won't listen to me because you think I don't have a brain, like the Scarecrow."
"Oh, gawd. Not Oz again. Jack, there's more to life than Emerald City and a ridiculous cartoon character who utters d'oh every ten lines."
"Now you're pushing it, Daniel."
"And what are you going to do about it?"
Their tempers flaring, Jack didn't think about his response; instead, he lunged for Daniel, knocking them both to the ground. They rolled along the dirt as they wrestled for control. There was nothing lighthearted or playful in their combat. It was anger, aggravation, and paranoia where each believed the other was a physical threat.
"I won't let you kill me!" Daniel shouted before using the palm of his hand to push Jack's face upward, causing the older man's grip to loosen.
"Me kill you?"
Daniel kicked the ground as he scrambled to run away, but Jack leaped forward, latching on to the younger man's waist. Daniel's hands grabbed the dirt as he sought to crawl his way free, but Jack's hold was tight. He managed to turn the archaeologist onto his back and hover over him.
"You don't want me around. You'd rather go after that good-for-nothing traitor," Jack professed as his Mr. Jealousy surfaced out of the blue.
"You're just out of your mind because there aren't any woman for you to ogle."
"I don't ogle."
"Now you're lying to yourself. You ogle all the time."
The fight intensified, though neither man actually punched the other. It was a struggle for domination, each trying to pin the other down. Finally, feeling smothered, Daniel landed a right cross that propelled Jack backwards. The scientist quickly got up unto his feet and began to run, only Jack reached out and just managed to latch on to Daniel's left ankle, causing him to fall back down to the ground. The archaeologist tried to right himself, but the colonel pinned his arms down.
In the blink of an eye, the lovers gazed at each other. Their heavy breathing was nearly in sync, as were their bodies. Not thinking about the possibility of being seen or heard by Harry, Jack leaned down for a passionate kiss, one that excited both of them. For what seemed like the first time in weeks, their bodies were joined as one, each taking turns inside the other until they were completely satiated.
"Geez, that was good," a completely naked Jack praised as he laid on his back next to his soulmate, who was equally naked and sprawled out on the dirt.
"Not good," Daniel negated, causing Jack to look at him with disappointment. "It was, uh, great!"
Jack grinned and topped the younger man again, kissing him over and over again.
"Maybourne might see," Daniel stated.
"Too late," Jack returned as he began fondling his lover to initiate more lovemaking.
Much later, and as they finished dressing, Jack queried, "Daniel, what do you think happened to us?"
"I'm not sure, but I have an idea."
"I want to see the artifact," Daniel requested as he completed lacing his right boot. "Aren't you going to put your boots on?"
"I'm used to going barefoot now. It's nice, and it's on the table."
"Until you step on something, get poisoned by some unknown bush, or cut yourself, get infected, and ..."
"I'll put on my boots," Jack interrupted, getting up. "Ah, wait for me. I need to tell you something about the book."
"I'll be right back," Jack advised. He walked over to his hut which was where he'd left his boots, having taken them off so long ago he couldn't even recall when he'd last worn them. When he exited, he saw his lover at the table, his eyes focused on the pages. ~I'm in trouble,~ he sighed. Trying to ignore his peril, he asked as innocently as he could, "Anything stand out?"
"Jack, why are these pages ripped out of the book?"
"They fell out?"
"Danny, I didn't want to lug that big book around all the time. Come on, give me a break."
"You know better, Jack."
"Daniel, are we going to fight again?"
Blinking a few times, Daniel responded, "Only if we can ... you know again."
"Oh, we will, but ..."
"Yeah, okay, well, you're right. It's a count of some type, each one of these symbols representing a Utopian. We need to find the others."
"More skeletons," Jack stated, his tone indicating he didn't think there was more to find in the search.
"Maybe. You have the right idea, Jack, and I think I know what's happened here."
"Are you going to share?"
"Maybe," Daniel teased. "Come on, let's go," he urged as he stood, the pages in his hand, and headed for the village exit.
"Where are we going?"
"Jack, there are more Utopians represented in the pictographs."
"I know that."
"Well, if we've found all the Utopians at our camp, there must ..."
"... be another camp," Jack completed for his lover.
"Exactly. The pictographs also showed more than one living area."
"Yeah," Jack agreed as he realized what his lover surmised from the totality of the book. "And it makes sense that another village would be somewhere close to a river."
"Exactly," Daniel responded again.
Soon, the couple entered the river and waded through it until they came upon another village. There, they found more skeletons, marking each one off the pages. The two separated as they walked around, looking for even more of the dead.
"Daniel," Jack called out as he kneeled down by one skeleton. "Look at this," he stated and then pulled out a knife that was stuck near the neck of the skeleton.
"What do you make of that?"
"This man was murdered," Jack answered.
"There's something around his neck. Is that a ... rope or .."
Using the knife, Jack extracted the object and responded, "Nope, not a rope. It's a ..."
"Goa'uld," Jack and Daniel said together.
"Okay, so the Goa'uld could go through the doorway, but they couldn't bring their weapons," Daniel summarized from the findings.
"Why would a Goa'uld want to be in paradise when it couldn't do anything to kill the Utopians? One Goa'uld couldn't murder all these people. There were too many."
"That one," Daniel pointed at the other skeleton, "must have fought back. He killed the Goa'uld."
"The last one to live killed the assassin," Jack asserted.
"Yes, but ..." With a nod, Daniel stated, "You're right. Jack, when I examined the skeletons at the village, I didn't see any broken bones. The skeletons were in tact, and that still doesn't explain why the animal life here is limited to creatures of flight or ..."
"Fish," Jack completed for his partner. "Animals should have mangled these remains a long, long time ago."
"Exactly, so why aren't there any damaged bones, or animals?"
~Crap, I was right.~ After a moment, Jack alerted, "Daniel, I know what it is. Let's get back to the village."
"Why the rush?" Daniel called out as Jack's pace was double time.
"You said it yourself, Danny. I was right."
"Well, you were, I mean, your idea about the pictograph being a type of census, but what is it you are right about now?"
"You love me," Jack quipped lightheartedly, a smile on his face.
"Yeah, that's true," Daniel mused affably.
For the moment, Daniel forgot all about Jack's quick pace and simply trailed his soulmate contentedly while feeling freer than he had in a long while.
Bypassing the river, Jack and Daniel were making quick time walking through the bushy forest. At this point, the lovers had begun discussing their situation and Jack was explaining his position.
"Think about it, Danny. The Goa'uld couldn't show up with normal weapons, so they had to do something outside the box."
"They had to eat, just like we did, and the more they ate ..."
"The sooner they died, and no one knew, until it was too late."
"Yeah. I don't know what they did to that arugula crap," Jack spoke, pushing back a long plant stalk as he walked.
"Poison of some type, a hallucinogen."
"Whatever it was, it made us all paranoid, and the more the Utopians ate, the crazier they became."
Daniel sighed, "Everyone was affected, just like we were, and it didn't take long, Jack. We were affected the first day."
"That's one powerful veggie."
"It totally altered our minds. We began angry with one another. We didn't want to work. We kept thinking the other two were out to get us. Gawd, Jack, that plant poisoned our minds and bodies."
"The Goa'uld had to be patient."
"That's why they only sent one in," Daniel put forth. "They don't have the patience of the Tok'ra."
"Daniel, did you have to bring them into this."
Several minutes later, the couple continued a rapid speed back towards the village when they were forced to stop.
"Crap!" Jack exclaimed. He'd heard the reel spin and knew instantly what it meant. He'd just stepped on a tripwire. "Daniel, down!"
Jack leaped forward just as a grenade blast thundered. He felt the pain as a sharp piece of wood penetrated the inner thigh of his right leg. Before he could process the event, he heard the sound of an animal, a wild boar. It was the first land animal he'd seen, and it was charging right at him. He pulled out his P-90 and fired. He heard the pig squeal and watched it run off.
~Missed,~ the colonel thought. ~Or just a flesh wound, or the pig wouldn't have been able to run away.~
"Jack, you're hurt."
"It's nothing. You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Daniel answered.
"Did I get the pig?"
"No, I don't think so. Jack, I'm not sure, but I heard something."
"Yeah, so did I, and it wasn't a pig."
With Daniel's assistance, Jack stood up and, putting his pain on hold, followed the sounds of pain in the distance. He wasn't surprised when he saw Harry sitting down in a cave and holding the P-90.
Harry shifted his jacket and put his hand on his abdomen. He he released the hold, he saw blood on his hand and coming from his wound.
"You shot me!" Harry accused.
Lowering his pistol, Jack replied, "I didn't know you were there."
Aiming the P-90 at the colonel, Harry warned, "Stay back!"
"Put that down," Jack stated with force while at the same time raising his pistol and pointing in Harry's direction.
As he stood, hunched over from the short height of the cave, Harry nearly stumbled towards Jack as he accused, "You wanted to kill me from the start."
"Oh, screw you Maybourne! I was joking. Look what you did to my leg!"
"I set the trap for the pig."
"With a grenade?" Jack challenged.
Harry didn't want to debate and pulled back, disappearing into the forest.
"Where are you going? Harry? We found something. Stop eating that plant. It's messing with your head, Harry. Ah, screw you." He looked over at his soulmate and instructed, "Let's get out of here."
"Jack, your leg."
Daniel sighed, but he knew dealing with injuries and pain on missions was secondhand to SG-1, as it was for many who protected the universe, or a country. He had no choice but to follow Jack, though he vowed to keep an eye on the older man as they made their way back to the village that was their temporary home.
As the two walked as fast as they could with Jack's wounded leg, Jack eventually conceded that he needed some assistance which would allow them to cover more ground quickly if he took action. He looked at his life partner and finally put his arm around Daniel's shoulders. As he placed his arm firmly around Jack's waist, Daniel didn't feel a need to say anything. He simply enjoyed the fact that his Love was finally leaning on him and counting on him to help get them to their destination as soon as possible.
Jack and Daniel moved more swiftly when linked together with their arms. It was a synergy that energized them. For a while, they traveled in silence, concentrating on each step that led them to their camp. Finally, though, Jack's curiosity about something caused him to break the comfortable silence.
"Danny, where'd that boar come from? It's the first animal we've seen," Jack noted.
"Well, maybe it's because we were further away from the village."
"From our village, but there were skeletons at that other village, too."
"But not as much of the plant, Jack. Did you notice that? I didn't see fields of the ... arugula there."
"So the Utopians of that village had a trade agreement with the ones in our village?"
"Maybe, or maybe the Goa'uld was going one village at the time. We don't know if the villages communicated, Jack. If they didn't, the Goa'uld might have made sure everyone was dead at the first village before moving on to the second."
"And that's when his number came up. They were smarter."
"Or maybe someone survived. Jack, we gained control, so maybe one of the Utopians did, too. Maybe he survived the original carnage, or maybe he lived long enough to follow the Goa'uld to the second village."
"And he killed the snake before he died himself."
"Probably. We'll never know for sure when and how everyone died, but we can make a few guesses and when we get some forensics done, we'll know more."
Jack paused, causing Daniel to stumble forward slightly.
"Sorry, Love," Jack spoke with a smile.
"Okay, so why did you almost break my neck just now?" Daniel asked when he regained his full footing and returned to stand right in front of the older man.
With a smile, Jack answered, "Positive thinking, Doctor Jackson."
"We'll be rescued," Daniel put forth, though part of him wanted to get some revenge for Jack's sudden stop. "Sam and Teal'c would never abandon us."
"They don't know where we are. Heck, we don't know where we are."
"They'll find us."
"Hammond might not be able to let them."
"General Hammond will do everything he can, but ..."
Jack nodded and said, "We could live here for a long time with no regrets."
"Yeah, Harry. We have to do something about him."
"I'm open," Daniel agreed, wanting to find a way they could all live in peace.
With a nod of his head and feeling stronger in spite of his blood loss, Jack began his forward pace again and was trailed immediately by Daniel.
The lovers returned to the camp and their focus immediately went to the colonel's injury.
"Jack, it has to come out."
"I know," a sweaty Jack replied as he slunk down to the ground against one corner of his hut.
Though Daniel reached down to pull out the sharp item impaled in his lover's body, Jack waved him off. The colonel took a big breath and winced as he began to pull on the wood. He cried out in pain as he jolted the wood against his skin. Then he managed to pull it completely out and leaned his head back.
"Tourniquet," Jack gasped.
Daniel was already ready and quickly wrapped a cloth around Jack's thigh.
"Okay, now," the archaeologist warned as he pulled the tourniquet taut. "I'm sorry," he sighed after hearing the shout of pain.
"Not your fault."
"Rest for a while, Jack."
Jack's eyes were already closed. The injury made him weary, and sleep would help him get through the pain. Even so, Jack's bloody hands gripped his 9mm weapon.
Daniel considered trying to relieve his lover of the gun, but he was somewhat afraid Jack would shoot him by mistake. Instead, Daniel sat down on the cot and kept a close watch over his Love.
At Stargate Command, Sam and Teal'c were in Sam's lab, trying to ascertain where their teammates could be.
"Excuse me," a woman spoke as she tapped gently on the open door. "I'm Megan Williams, one of the civilians in Daniel's, uh, Doctor Jackson's department."
"Yes, Megan, I've heard about you. Come in," Sam beckoned. ~I've seen her somewhere, too. Oh, yes, that crazy mock trial we had a couple of years ago. She testified for Daniel against the colonel, I think.~
"Of course. Daniel's very impressed with your work," Sam responded. "How can I help you?"
"Actually, Major, I though I might be able to help you," Megan stated as she handed Sam a group of photographs.
"What are these?" Sam asked as she took hold of the pictures.
"You requested pictures of the artifact Colonel Maybourne had in his possession. I found those."
"Wait," Sam stated as she honed in on her thought. "Teal'c, the moon."
"Have you discovered something, MajorCarter?" the Jaffa asked.
"I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner." Sam looked at Megan and explained, "When we arrived on the planet, the moon was visible. It was hard to miss because of its size, but that's the only time it was visible when we were there."
"How is that significant?" Megan inquired.
"Megan, the doorway device doesn't use wormhole technology. For a while, I thought maybe it was more powerful, but it's not. It wasn't designed to send you across the galaxy. We thought Colonel O'Neill and Daniel had been sent somewhere else on the planet, but they haven't, they've been sent to that moon."
"How can you be sure?" the civilian asked.
"Look at this," Sam instructed as she used her finger to explain. "The big circle is the planet, the little circle is the moon, and the line between them is the path of transportation." She stood and smiled. "Megan, you just saved the colonels and Daniel."
"I did?" As Sam walked away, Megan emitted a bashful smile. She shrugged at the Jaffa and said, "I only found some pictures."
"Indeed," Teal'c spoke, his word a pleased compliment before he rose and trailed after the major.
A sound startled Daniel as he relaxed on the cot. He leaned forward and looked over at Jack, who was now wide-eyed. Ignoring the pain from his injury, the colonel crawled to an opening and looked out.
"Stay back, Daniel," Jack ordered, his gun at the ready. He could feel the presence of another. With a raised voice, he began to plead his case, hoping the other man would listen. "Harry? Harry? It was a Goa'uld. It couldn't bring a weapon through that door, so it brought a plant. It's some kind of drug or something. Maybe it was an experiment; maybe it was supposed to get the people to serve him, I don't know, but it backfired. These people, they all killed each other because of that plant. You're paranoid. It's messing with your head. I'm not trying to kill you."
From across the village, a black-faced Harry opened fire on Jack and Daniel and then threw a grenade.
Alarmed and fearful that his Heart might have been hurt, Jack's ire rose sharply. He looked over and was relieved when his lover bobbed his head to signal he was unharmed. The colonel immediately pointed in the direction he wanted Daniel to run and then he followed.
Feeling confident he'd injured Jack and Daniel, Harry headed for Jack's hut, but hearing a noise, he stopped cold.
The sound was Jack having cocked his pistol. No longer in his hut, Jack was behind some bushes, his gun pointed straight at Harry. A few yards behind him, Daniel was partially shielded by a structure, his gun also aimed at Harry.
Harry's head turned, though his arms still held the P-90 in the direction of Jack's hut. He saw the coldness of Jack's eyes.
"Drop it," Jack ordered with a treacherous calm. With a steely cold voice, he threatened, "Drop it now, or I will shoot you."
Harry turned and prepared to fire again, but Jack shot him instead. The traitor fell to the ground.
Jack waited a moment to be sure his nemesis was truly down, though he had no doubt that his bullet connected firmly. He motioned for Daniel to move in and check on Harry while he continued to provide cover.
"He's alive, but unconscious, Jack," Daniel called out as he retrieved Jack's P-90 weapon and put it on the table, safely out of Harry's reach should he come to soon.
Jack approached and leaned down to examine Harry.
"He's bad, Danny."
"You didn't have a choice."
"I know it. He should have known it, too."
"It's the poison or drug or ... whatever is in that plant."
"I know that, too." Jack pulled up Harry's shirt and shook his head. "The bullet needs to come out." He sighed, "You didn't give me a choice, Harry. You tried to kill Daniel. I couldn't take a chance after that."
Just then, Harry regained consciousness.
~But it's over now,~ Jack assured himself. He felt more normal than he had in days, the paranoia within him having ebbed greatly. As he looked down, he could see fear in Harry's eyes. "I'm not trying to kill you, Harry," he promised the wounded man. "You're losing a lot of blood. If we don't do something right now, you're gonna die."
"He's out again," Daniel observed. "I'll get a fire going and some water."
"Janet would be proud of you," Daniel asserted as he walked over to where his lover was monitoring Harry's condition.
"Taking out bullets is basic when you're in the military," Jack claimed.
"Well, you did a good job. If he lives, it's because you saved him."
"Daniel, I shot him."
"And he tried to kill both of us."
"Good point," Jack agreed with a slight chuckle.
"Here, I found this."
"You're giving me a stick," Jack questioned as he took hold of the piece of wood.
"It's sturdy and it'll help you avoid putting pressure on your leg."
"Another good point," Jack conferred, sharing another light laugh with his soulmate. "It's a little short."
"But it'll help."
With a nod, Jack smiled and said, "Thanks, Danny."
As night fell, Jack and Daniel were sitting next to each other, leaning back against the wall of the nearest hut. Harry was still out cold, but they'd moved him closer to one of the huts and built a fire to keep him warm.
"Jack, are we going to tell him? I mean, I'm sure Sam's working on it, but ..."
"It could be next week, or next month, or ..."
"It's that or I'm wondering about. We can't pretend if we're going to be here a long time," Daniel opined quietly.
"The problem is we don't know how long we'll be here, wherever here is."
Suddenly, Daniel inched forward. His mind was racing with activity until, without any warning, he launched himself off the ground. Excitedly, he walked several steps forward, his eyes focused upward.
"There's no moon, Jack."
"All this time I couldn't figure out what was different." Daniel looked over at his soulmate. "I knew there was something off, but I've been so distracted."
"None of us have been ourselves."
"Yeah," a calmer Daniel agreed.
"What's the big reveal?"
"There's no moon. It was huge. Don't you remember? When we first walked through the Stargate, we saw that, that ..."
"... big, huge honkin' moon. It was bigger than the planet and now that you mention it, I don't recall seeing it since we've been here, either."
"Jack, that's because we're *on* the moon. I should have realized that the first night."
"Danny, it's okay."
Somewhat remorsefully, the archaeologist pointed out, "Sam can't find us if she doesn't think to look here."
"She'll find us."
"You don't know that."
"Danny, come back here," Jack beckoned softly, smiling as his lover sat back down and leaned his head against his shoulder. "We'll be rescued, or we won't, but whatever happens, we'll be here, on a great big moon."
"You always said you loved me to the moon and back."
Tenderly, Jack expounded, "To the moon and back and beyond."
Daniel's heart was full. He felt happy and he knew why. He was on the moon and being loved on the moon by the one he loved so very much.
"So what do we do?" the younger man inquired.
"What do you want to do?"
"I want to do what we did earlier. I want to do what we're doing now. I want ... I want what you want."
"That makes two of us. Ah, I mean I want what you want," Jack clarified with a smile. "I love you, Danny."
"I love you."
With Harry unconscious just feet away, Jack and Daniel kissed and held each other close, ultimately falling asleep in each other's arms. Now they knew where they were. They were in each other's arms. They were home.
Jack and Daniel were seated on separate benches in one of the cooking areas. They were discussing the situation on the planet while also keeping an eye on the still unconscious Harry Maybourne.
"So, you're saying the animals fled."
"Like a migration," Daniel theorized. "Maybe they can sense something in the plant that humans can't. It could be instinct, too. Maybe there's an odor or scent we can't smell but they can."
"Which would explain why we haven't found animal bones anywhere."
"Exactly," the archaeologist agreed. "The further we get away from the villages, the more likely animal life exists, as evidenced by the spiky pig."
Jack mused, "Have you ever seen a pig with spikes sticking out of him."
"A ... porcupig."
With a loud laugh, Jack praised, "Good one. That thing had a porcupine head and a pig body." As he ate another piece of the fish he'd cooked for his and Daniel's meal, he noted, "And that's good news if we remain stranded here."
Both men were animal lovers and didn't like the concept of hunting, but the only food options on the planet appeared to be fish, insects, and whatever animals might be in other parts of the world.
Jack mentioned, "We'll need to go exploring."
"After your leg heals," Daniel insisted strongly, getting a nod from his soulmate.
"Danny, has it occurred to you that there might be more villages? We don't know that the book had logistics for the entire planet."
"Yes, but I don't think there are. The, uh, Goa'uld was killed at the next village over from this one, and if there were more camps, I doubt we'd be here like this. Then there are the skeletons."
"Yeah. They would have buried their dead."
"I would think so," the younger man agreed solemnly, his facial expression communicating clearly with the other man.
"We'll do it," Jack agreed.
Daniel put another piece of fish into his mouth as his eyes smiled at Jack. He felt peaceful again and in a strange way, he was happy, but then, Harry wasn't awake and when he did wake again, the lovers had a big decision to make.
Jack was stretching, tired of sitting down for most of the day.
"Jack, be careful. You really shouldn't be on that leg."
"I have to move, Daniel. I've been on my tush all day."
The younger man watched his lover with curiosity. He could sense there was something stirring.
"Jack, what are you thinking about?"
Grimacing at his own thoughts, Jack turned to face Daniel and answered, "When we're rescued, the government's going to want him back, and this time, they're going to stick him in a small box somewhere where he'll never see the light of day again. They might even pull the plug, regardless of the deal he made with Kinsey to have his death sentence commuted to life."
"He committed treason."
"There's that," Jack admitted.
"You can't forget what he tried to do to Teal'c."
"Or that he tried to kill us."
"Especially with the pain still rippling through my body," he spoke as he grimaced from a well-timed shooting pain up his leg.
"But he's helped us, too, I guess, recently anyway," Daniel asserted. "Well, if you don't count more recent events."
Jack caught Daniel's small smile and knew he was joking. No one could be responsible for their actions while in this Utopian non-paradise.
Daniel purported, "He helped us save Teal'c when he was stuck in the filter, and he did come through in the foothold situation and with finding Sam, too."
"Yeah, he came through, but he always puts himself first; and he lies, Daniel. He lies to protect his butt and get what he wants."
"Maybe, but you don't want him to go to prison," Daniel surmised.
"Agggg," Jack groaned as he closed his eyes and raised his hands over his head. He reached for his head and pulled on his hair in an aggravating release of pain and hostility. "Danny."
"I understand, Jack."
"Heck, I don't," the older man bemoaned. "I don't know." Jack walked around in a circle before continuing. "He wanted to live here in peace. Daniel, he went about things all wrong, but most of the time, he wanted what we did. I think."
"Maybe." Daniel thought for a moment and then suggested, "We could talk to Garshaw or Jacob."
"They, uh, owe us, well, you, but ..."
"Do you think you can convince General Hammond and the President to let Harry go?"
"I'll call in a marker," Jack responded. "We have saved the planet a time or two, or three ..."
"... or four," Daniel mused.
"Are you with me?" the older man asked, unwilling to follow through with the idea if his life partner wasn't fully on board. "He tried to kill you, too, Danny."
"I'm with you, Jack, always. Now sit down."
"Is that an order?" Jack challenged.
"Yes. Is that a problem?" Daniel asked with a straight face.
"Nope, not a problem," Jack replied, grimacing from the pain as he walked over to a bench and sat down. He felt surprisingly good about the decision to help Harry find a real paradise of sorts, but he wasn't quite sure why his lover went along so easily. "Danny?"
"Why are you agreeing with me about Harry?"
"Because he ... he's helped us and, well, he likes you, Jack. He thinks you're alike."
"Alike? Harry and me? Don't think so."
"That's what I said, but maybe in another time and place, in a world without the Goa'uld, maybe we all might have been friends, or maybe not, but he likes you and you like him."
"I don't know that I'd go that far."
Daniel chuckled, "Okay, let's just say you have compassion for him. I'm not sure why you do, but you do, so you're willing to fight for him."
"I don't even trust him," Jack stated.
"On everyday things, you don't, but somehow, Jack, I think when the chips are down, when our lives are at stake, when the moment of truth comes, I think part of you trusts him to have your back."
"That is one scary thought," Jack sighed. "Now I'm getting a headache."
"Sorry," Daniel spoke with a smile.
"Come make it better."
Daniel grinned and after convincing himself that Harry Maybourne was solidly unconscious, he made everything better for his soulmate, and for himself, too.
Later in the day, as Daniel sat at the table reviewing the pages from the book, Jack was seated low to the ground with his makeshift cane, spinning it playfully in his hands, as he continued to watch over Harry. A fire was on the opposite site of Jack.
The quiet of the air was suddenly disturbed by sounds of Harry awaking.
"Daniel," Jack called out.
Daniel walked over and stood behind Jack as they waited to see if Harry would completely regain consciousness.
Harry's eyes darted open. It took a minute for him to be able to focus and recall where he was. He could see Jack staring at him and then he noticed Daniel standing with his arms crossed in front of him.
"Some retirement this turned out to be," Harry sighed.
"How are you doing?" Jack inquired.
"My head's a little clearer. How long have I been out?"
"I don't know, day or so," Jack responded after checking his watch. ~This thing's been acting weirdly.~
"I really screwed up. didn't I?"
"Oh, I don't know, Harry. You just used up a clip and then tossed a grenade in our direction. Is that screwing up?" Jack nodded. "Yeah, you did, but ..."
"It's not your fault," Daniel interjected. "None of the people here could stop themselves from killing one another."
"Sorry, Jack, I never should have dragged you into this," Harry sighed.
"Yes, Harry, you've been a very bad boy."
All of a sudden, Harry struggled to breathe.
"Hey, don't you die on me now," Jack ordered.
"What difference would it make?"
"Jack!" Daniel called out, pointing upward.
"Yeah," Jack acknowledged as he saw a Tok'ra vessel flying low to ground and then over the village.
"Because we're about to be rescued," Jack answered.
"Oh, that's nice."
"I can't go back. I'd rather die here than spend the rest of my life in jail."
"Yeah, um, Daniel and I have been giving that some thought. We think you've suffered enough. Heck, I even got to shoot you."
"Twice," Harry pointed out.
"We think the Tok'ra should be able to find a nice planet for you."
"Sure, Harry, sure," the colonel acknowledged.
Hearing Jack's grumble and seeing a bit of a sideways nod, Harry looked up and added, "And you, too, Daniel."
"You're welcome." Daniel glanced over and visually followed the Tok'ra ship's flight path as it circled around and then hovered over the village. "Jack, I'm going to get my jacket and the pages to the artifact. Is there anything else you think we need to take back right now?"
"No. We'll send a team to do the scientific bit and bury the skeletons. They can get whatever else we might want them to bring back then."
"Okay," Daniel spoke as he headed for his hut.
"Danny, my jacket, cap, and sunglasses ... and the P-90!"
"No, that's it."
"Thank you," the older man said with a smile.
Daniel collected the requested items from Jack's hut and was about to walk out when his eyes went to a collection of wooden items on the side of one wall. Unable to resist, he reached down and picked up one piece. With a smile, he hurried back to rejoin Jack and the wounded Harry.
"I cannot speak for Garshaw or Jacob," Jolen of the Tok'ra replied to Jack's request to find some out of the way planet on which Harry could spend the rest of his days.
"We're not asking you to," Daniel responded.
"We *are* asking you to contact them to get permission," Jack stated strongly. "You owe me. The Tok'ra owe me and I'm cashing in my chips."
"Forget it," Jack groaned. "Just give one or both of them a buzz on your communication setup and tell them Jack, once head-napped by their buddy, Kanan, needs a favor."
Jolen gave a polite nod and left Jack and Daniel alone.
"Everything is a fight with those people," Jack repined.
"Well, we are asking them to harbor a fugitive from justice, and we're doing it before getting permission. General Hammond won't be happy we're bypassing him."
"It's not like we're going to keep him a secret."
"I know. You're using the possession is nine-tenths of the law scenario."
"By the time Hammond contacts the President and they cut through all the red tape, Harry will be lying on a hammock somewhere, sipping coconut juice again."
"You're counting on the President letting you, us, get away with this because we're, well, us."
Jack and Daniel were flown to Peterson Air Force base where a driver with a car was waiting to take them to Cheyenne Mountain. It was a short ride, since Peterson was only twelve miles from the Mountain. Once there, the two were ordered directly to the infirmary for the required post-mission exam.
"Sir, Daniel," Sam greeted enthusiastically as she and Teal'c stood near the entrance, eager to greet their returning friends.
"Carter! Good job," Jack praised, assuming she was responsible for the rescue, though he didn't have any details as yet.
The blonde was eager to hug both of her friends, but she felt it would be inappropriate. Jack was her commanding officer and any public affection would be out of line, although for a moment she considered that a hug in the presence of so many medical personnel would be good for the illusion that she and Jack were involved. The game, as Jack and Daniel called it, had gone on for years and was a cover for their romantic involvement. Ultimately, though, she chose to play it cool and hold back her emotions. She was afraid if she didn't, she might become overly mushy since she had truly been so worried about her friends' survival.
Told about Jack's and Daniel's arrival, Janet left her office to greet them. After giving them a friendly hello, she got down to business.
"Colonel, we need to get a good look at that leg."
"Just a scratch," Jack claimed.
"It's more than that," Daniel put forth.
"We'll let General Hammond know you're back," Sam advised. Looking at Jack, she stated, "He wants to debrief immediately after your exams." However, she was concerned about the injury and faced the doctor as she queried, "Janet, should we postpone the briefing?"
"Let's get it over with," Jack responded before the redhead could say a word. "She can ground me later."
Realizing her CO wasn't going to back down, Sam nodded in understanding and, followed by the Jaffa, left the infirmary.
"Marie, you can start on Daniel," Janet told one of her nurses. She saw the pleased smile on the face of Marie Hill RN. It was no secret the nurse had a years-long affection for the archaeologist. "You're all mine, Colonel."
"I'm always the lucky one," Jack quipped as he limped moving forward.
Janet pulled the curtain taut and began by cutting off the material that surrounded the wound.
"This is more than a scratch, Colonel."
"Okay, yeah, but it's not that big of a deal. Do your thing, Doc, and let me get out of here."
Janet was used to butting heads with Jack over medical treatments. She wasn't afraid of putting her foot down when necessary, but she also preferred to pick her battles. As she examined the colonel, she was pleased that there was no sign of infection.
"You're lucky, Colonel," the doctor stated.
"Yes," Jack droned.
Dismissing the dryly spoken response, Janet observed, "I don't see any muscle or bone damage."
"Yes," Janet affirmed strongly. "I think we can avoid surgery, too."
After numbing the area, Janet cleaned the wound and stitched up the laceration. She handed the colonel a couple of prescriptions, one an antibiotic and the other a pain killer. In the end, she opted to save her energy for more important battles. He would be placed on downtime for a couple of days and then on light duty. Of course, she knew he would insist on returning to full duty as soon as possible and would probably circumvent anything longer than taking it easy for a few days.
"I don't suppose you'd let me give you a pair of crutches."
"For this?" Jack asked, downplaying his injury. In fact, compared to past injuries, this was nothing but a bit of pain for the Special Ops colonel. He was already thinking about how he'd use his upcoming downtime, including taking care of overdo yard work and going grocery shopping. "Don't need 'em, Doc."
After a quick review of Daniel's chart, Janet gave the teammates the green light to head for the conference room.
"General Hammond wants me in the debrief. I need to check on Sergeant Dumbrowski, but I'll be there in a few minutes," Janet informed the colonel.
"Right-o," Jack acknowledged with a smile.
"It's good to have you two back," the physician expressed with joy in her voice.
"I gotta tell ya, Doc, that was a heckuva month. Let's go, Daniel."
"I wonder what we missed, besides Sam's birthday," the archaeologist said to his lover as they headed for the exit.
Janet smiled as she wrote on her chart, but then she looked up and repeated, "Month? Sam's birthday?" She looked around the infirmary and called out, "Marie!" and waved her over. Dumbrowski could wait a couple of minutes. First, the doctor needed to gather information that might not appear on Daniel's chart. ~Maybe they were teasing me. Colonel O'Neill has pulled some good ones over the years, but I need to be sure.~
"Colonel, Doctor Jackson, welcome home," General Hammond greeted as he entered the briefing home.
"Thank you, Sir," both men responded at the same time.
"Where is Colonel Maybourne?" the major general inquired.
"That's a long story," Daniel answered with some hesitation.
"He's with the Tok'ra, General," Jack admitted. "I know Harry's been a pain in the mik'ta, Sir, but he just wants a nice little planet on which to get it away from it all."
"Grammatically correct," Daniel mumbled under his breath.
As an aside, Jack replied in a low voice, "I figured it couldn't hurt."
"The preposition thing."
"Right on," Jack teased, all too aware that General Hammond wasn't smiling or appreciating the couple's banter.
"As I'm sure anyone convicted of treason would want, Colonel."
"Yeah," Jack agreed with a low tone. "I shot him twice. Maybe I'm feeling a little guilty about that."
Hammond stared at his 2IC as he questioned, "You *shot* him?"
"Twice," Daniel reiterated.
"Sit down, Colonel. We'll start at the top once Doctor Fraiser joins us, and it had better be a darn good story."
Hammond sat at the head of the table and glared at Jack as he stood closer to the door. Sam and Teal'c were already seated and both felt grateful they weren't part of Maybourne's current status. Jack and Daniel remained near the rear of the table, close to the door.
"Do you think he'd notice if I ducked out?" Daniel asked his lover in a near whisper.
"Yep," Jack answered, leaning forward slightly.
"He's not happy, Jack."
"I noticed that, Daniel. He'll get over it."
Daniel said nothing, choosing to sit down at the table without saying anything further. Jack decided to follow suit and took the seat opposite Daniel. His only regret was that as Hammond's second, protocol called for him to sit at the first chair nearest to the base commander.
The silence was deafening as a few minutes passed until Janet entered and spoke, "I'm sorry I'm late, Sir."
"Not a problem, Doctor," Hammond assured. "Let's get started."
"Um, General, I need to clear something up. Maybe it's nothing, but ..."
"Colonel, when you and Daniel left the infirmary, you said something about a month having passed."
"Yeah, we were stranded on that moon for almost four full weeks." Jack confirmed, instantly seeing the warning bells going off in Janet's eyes.
Daniel noticed Sam and Teal'c exchanging a glance and it made him feel uneasy.
"I spoke with Marie, who examined you, Daniel, and she said you made a reference to the end of the 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' TV series."
"You're kidding?" Jack nearly gasped in shock. "What do you know about that?"
"Nothing, but Marie likes it and she mentioned the series was ending in May. I was just being polite and making conversation." He looked at his lover and retorted, "Like I do with you and 'The Simpsons.'"
Jack smirked unhappily, but didn't speak, though his Mr. Jealousy was threatening to make an appearance.
Leaning forward with his hands clasped together, Hammond asked, "Are you telling me, Doctor, that Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson are under the belief that they were on the moon for a month?"
"We were," Jack spoke, his words overlapping Janet's.
"General, we were there, for weeks," Daniel spoke, his remark also stepping over those of both Janet's and Jack's.
Janet sighed, "We'll need you both back in the infirmary for tests."
"Whoa!" Jack snapped, raising both of his hands into the air. "What the heck is going on?"
"Sir," Sam interjected. "You, Daniel, and Colonel Maybourne were only missing for six days."
"Six?" Jack and Daniel echoed at the same time.
"No, it was weeks," Daniel insisted.
Jack spat, "It was that dang plant."
"Colonel?" Hammond queried.
"It tasted like arugula and other than fish, and they were rare, that's all we had to eat," Jack explained.
Daniel expounded, "The place we were was supposed to some type of utopia."
"Maybourne's chatter about Simmons, the planet having a Stargate, and there being a cache of ancient weapons was baloney," Jack advised. "He heard about this place, thought it was paradise ..."
"... and it might have been, for a while, for the, uh, Utopians," Daniel continued. "But a Goa'uld managed to get in. I don't know if he pretended to belong or if he went in and did what he did, but he did it."
"Did what, Daniel?" Sam inquired.
"He brought a plant with him. See, the doorway to the moon screened out Goa'uld weaponry, but not the Goa'uld."
"Apparently, they weren't buddies with the Asgard," Jack interjected.
"Janet," Daniel called out, "we don't know if the plant was just a hallucinogen or poisonous, or both, but it created a mass feeling of paranoia."
"They killed each other," Jack told the group. "They got the Goa'uld, too."
"He was discovered?" Teal'c asked.
"Apparently," Daniel answered.
Jack added, "The host skeleton was there with a knife struck through its neck, and the snake skeleton was wrapped around the neck, too."
"Jack, somehow that drug affected our perception of time. I mean, I saw the sun rise and the sun set, every day, for four weeks."
"I did, too. Doc, how can that be?"
"It could be some type of mass hypnosis or shared paranoia. We'll need to get samples of that plant," Janet responded. "We need to do full tox screens on both of you, and I want to do some other tests as well."
Jack groaned as he leaned back in his chair, but he didn't object. He suspected a more thorough examination would have to be done; he was just hoping to put it off for a couple of days.
"It seems so odd," Daniel opined. "All three of us experienced the same thing in terms of the passage of time, and Maybourne was as paranoid as Jack and I were."
"More," Jack put forth. "He thought he was Rambo, tried to kill us both."
"Colonel Maybourne tried to kill you?" Sam questioned.
"Well, Jack did shoot him, too."
"Twice," Jack announced as he nodded.
"As fascinating as this is, I think it's important to ensure the safety of this base. Doctor Fraiser, take Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson to the infirmary and conduct any tests you think are necessary. Should they give you any problems, you have my permission to order the SFs to take them to the brig."
"That's harsh, Sir," Jack returned somewhat playfully. He coughed at Hammond's stern expression and then added, "Don't worry, General. Daniel and I will behave."
"See that you do." As the major general rose, he ordered Janet, "Keep me apprised. We'll meet back here as soon as your tests are concluded."
As Jack, Sam, and Janet rose, Sam asked with incredulity, "You shot Maybourne twice?"
"It's a long story, Carter."
"He *is* alive?"
"And being as obnoxious as ever. The Tok'ra are finding him a safer paradise to live in," Jack responded.
"Preposition," Daniel interjected.
"It's Carter, Daniel, not Hammond." Jack saw Sam's look of displeasure and sighed, "Those prepositions can give a body a headache."
"So can people who care about them," Daniel teased, mostly on Sam's behalf because he knew she wouldn't be able to respond in a way she might like
"Colonel, Daniel," Janet beckoned.
As Jack prepared to walk away, he chimed, "Don't worry, Carter, these stories and more will be yours after the Doc finishes her mind probe."
Chuckling, Sam acknowledged, "Yes, Sir."
Having refused the crutches at SGC, Jack limped into his house that night. Of course, he did have a crutch now. It was the best crutch in the universe: his Daniel.
"I still can't believe we were only there for six days," Daniel commented as he helped his soulmate settle onto the sofa.
"And two of those were the day we arrived and the day we left, today," Jack returned. "That arugula thing must be loaded with whatever drug did this."
"We should have known from our faces," Daniel opined.
"Facial hair. Neither one of us have that much ..." Daniel used his right hand and rubbed against his cheeks and chin area that had some growth but nowhere near the more bearded status that a month without shaving would normally produce.
"Ya have something there, Danny. Why didn't you bring this up when we were on the moon?"
"Why didn't you?"
"Good point. That drug is dangerous."
Daniel nodded and asked, "Would you like a beer?"
"Silly question, My Love," Jack replied with a smile.
For a while, the couple sat contentedly on the sofa, each sipping a beer.
"Danny, we both said a lot of nasty things on that make-believe paradise," Jack put forth, breaking the silence.
"I think it was, uh, stuff from deep down, but twisted."
"I'm not trying to outdo you. Heck, Danny, I couldn't if I tried. I'm darn good at what I do, but I'm lousy at what you do. What you do, you do better than anyone. I hope you know that. You should know that."
"I'm glad you think so."
"I know so," Jack insisted. With a cough, he admitted, "And I guess I let my jealousy side come out again."
"Honestly, Jack, Maybourne?"
"He was there."
"So were you," Daniel reminded. After a beat, the archaeologist smiled. "Jack, we were all drugged and under its influence. Janet will have the details soon, but it's clear that it affected our minds in ways we couldn't even conceptualize at the time."
"It made us all friggin' paranoid." Jack chortled, "Harry thought he was Rambo or something. That black face ..."
"Yeah, it was pretty funny, after he stopped trying to kill us."
"Hey, what did you bring back?"
"Oh, the bag," Daniel acknowledged, getting up for a moment and getting the bag he'd brought home with him. "I thought maybe you might want this."
Jack opened the bag and grinned upon seeing the whittled object.
"An angel for my Angel," the colonel declared, holding both the whittled wooden object and his human love in his arms at the same time. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. You?"
"Happy as a clam," Jack spoke softly before leaning over and kissing his Heart.
"What would we have done, Jack? Would we have told Harry about us?"
"Sooner or later, probably sooner. I couldn't live in a paradise with you and not be with you."
"Me, either, with you, I mean. I, uh, think that was part of our problem."
"Oh, yeah!" Jack agreed. "Speaking of which ..."
"You have to be careful with your leg."
"Danny, this wound is nothing. Fraiser wants me on light duty for a couple of days once our downtime is up, but SG-1 has a couple of missions planned, and I don't plan on missing either of them."
"I figured as much."
"I thought you'd never ask," Daniel replied as a smile.
Full of love, and wanting nothing more than to express that love with a mingling of their bodies, Jack and Daniel made their upstairs to enjoy their own paradise, a nation of two that only they truly understood.
~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
Author's Note: Please feel free to email me with your comments or suggestions; constructive criticism, things you'd like to see, etc. A chronological listing of my universe is at http://orrymain.com