Area 52 HKH

An Unsteady Allegiance

by Orrymain

URL: http://area52hkh.net/aso/orrymain4/unsteady.php
Summary: After the Goa'uld destroy the Tok'ra base, the Rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra refugees have to co-exist on the Tau'ri's Alpha Site. Unpleasant memories and the need to be diplomatic wreak havoc on Jack's soul. With Daniel on an alternate mission, how will the lovers cope with the current events?
Info: This is a Danielized story for S6, meaning there is no Jonas and Daniel is with SG-1 per normal.

An Unsteady Allegiance
Author: Orrymain
Author Email: marciastudley1@comcast.net (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
Rating: PG-13
Season: 6 - January 1-3, 2003
Spoilers: Allegiance (Danielized), Children of the Gods (minor), In the Line of Duty (minor), Frozen (minor), Abyss (minor)
Size: 128kb
Written: April 15-26,28, 2017
Summary: After the Goa'uld destroy the Tok'ra base, the Rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra refugees have to co-exist on the Tau'ri's Alpha Site. Unpleasant memories and the need to be diplomatic wreak havoc on Jack's soul. With Daniel on an alternate mission, how will the lovers cope with the current events?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
Notes:
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s): "Jack's Abyss"

An Unsteady Allegiance
by Orrymain

"This is a heck of a way to start of a new year," a disenchanted Jack O'Neill spoke to his lover, Daniel Jackson, as they sat at the table in the kitchen nook of their home.

It was actually the afternoon on New Year's Day. The lovers were feeling serene after a romantic New Year's Eve celebration. Jack wanted more time to spend with Daniel, but the mission schedule for the beginning of 2003 was tight.

"It can't be helped," Daniel spoke in full awareness of the lovers' current reality.

Jack let out a unhappy breath. Daniel was right, and they both knew it. Still, he had a concern.

"Danny, why do you need SG-2 on this mission? If it's archaeological in nature, why the force?"

"That's what you get for missing a briefing," the younger man teased in an attempt to lighten the tenseness of the moment.

The couple were finishing up their breakfast, a larger meal than normal, one chosen to satisfy their food cravings since both would be off-world for a couple of days. The kink was that they wouldn't be together.

"Fill me in."

"The Goa'uld have been known to use the other side of P36-231 as some sort of dumping site."

"Dumping site? For what?"

"I'm not sure, but General Hammond is concerned they might show up while we're there."

"Why isn't SG-9 going to help out?" Jack queried, thinking that if more manpower were available to assist with the artifacts, Daniel would be back on Earth and therefore safe sooner.

"They're already off-world, P92-161."

"And this can't wait for them?"

"It's not necessary. We already know what's there from SG-2's first recon. Ferretti did a good job detailing the items they came across, so I have a good idea what we need to bring back, and SG-2 knows the territory."

Jack nodded. He was fully aware Ferretti's team made two previous visits to the planet. They were the ones who first discovered the Goa'uld outpost on the far side of the planet. Plans were in the making for a surprise attack during the enemy's next stop, but Intel had yet to provide enough detail for Stargate Command to know when that might be. A Tok'ra operative was in the process of determining that information. Jack simply hadn't connected SG-2's missions with Daniel's archaeology mission until now.

The colonel also knew his longtime military comrade would take good care of Daniel.

~Ferretti knows I'll break his neck if he doesn't look out for Danny,~ Jack told himself, even though he also knew the threat was just in his mind. He actually had great confidence in Lou Ferretti and his ability to ensure the safety of his team and the archaeologist. Jack moved on. The mission for Daniel was a go, and so was his to the Alpha Site, though part of him was eager to find a way out. "Hammond says there hasn't been any problems with the Rebel Jaffa at the Alpha Site."

"Jack, it's our turn in the rotation and General Hammond wants you to do a status report. Isn't that what you told me? There isn't another reason? I mean, you aren't expecting trouble?"

"No trouble, Danny. All reports indicate Teal'c's' buddies are behaving themselves and getting along just fine at the Alpha Site."

Several months earlier, the Rebel Jaffa were forced to abandon their previous location and accepted Earth's offer to hide at the Alpha Site. Teal'c, who often visited the site as a liaison between the Jaffa and Tau'ri, was already on the planet and had been there for the past two days.

"So, everything's normal."

"I know. I just don't like it when SG-1 is minus its geek."

"Sam can geek for both of us," Daniel mused with a tiny smile.

Jack let out a small chuckle and reached for his coffee mug to take another sip. His coffee completely gone within the next minute, Jack looked at his soulmate and smiled sweetly. He said nothing. All he did was reach over and put his hand atop Daniel's.

Daniel returned a sweet smile of his own as his eyes gazed into the ones that so often caused him to shiver from the loving emotion they bared. He closed his hand to grasp Jack's and let their touch communicate what their hearts' felt.

"I love you," Jack spoke when he knew the time arrived for the couple to head for Cheyenne Mountain.

"I love you, too, Jack, so much."

After clearing the table and ensuring Daniel's fish and their tank were good to go, the two left the house and prepared for their separate missions.

====

"You don't look very excited, Sir," Sam commented as she stood across from Jack.

The teammates were in the embarkation room, waiting for the Stargate to be engaged.

"Oh, I'm so happy," Jack responded mockingly.

Sam remained silent. She had a hunch that it wasn't the mission that was making her commanding officer snarky, but rather, it was the absence of Daniel. The archaeologist and SG-2 were already off-world, having left thirty minutes earlier.

The event horizon finally formed and Jack took a few steps up the ramp before giving his second-in-command a warning.

"Carter, hanging out with a bunch of Jaffa, who aren't Teal'c or Bra'tac, is not my idea of fun. There's too much testosterone. I apologize in advance for anything I might say or do that might be ... off-color."

"Don't worry about it, Sir," Sam assured with amusingly.

"Don't say I didn't warn ya," Jack stated before he finished the walk up the ramp and headed through the Gate.

Sam's grin was big as she lagged behind for a few seconds and then finally dashed through the Stargate to P3X-984, better known as the Alpha Site.

====

"What do you think, Daniel?" Ferretti asked while holding his weapon and automatically continuing to scan the area.

"I could use some help packing up these items here," Daniel answered, pointing to a collection of items he'd gathered.

"Are we gonna make it back home tonight?"

"Sorry," Daniel answered. "There are a couple of areas I want to check out in more detail."

"Don't stray or Jack will have my hide," the major cajoled.

"Right," Daniel responded dryly. "We'll be staying the night," he added. "I'm gonna ... set up a tent, over there."

Watching Daniel walk away, Ferretti shrugged lightly and then informed his team they'd be staying on the planet for at least one night.

====

"This is going surprisingly well," Jack opined to his team as they gathered that evening after conducting an initial review of the Alpha Site staff and observing their interaction with the Jaffa warriors.

"The Rebel Jaffa need only a place to hide from the Goa'uld."

"They've got it," Jack asserted. "No one has this address, right, Carter?"

"Only our most trusted allies, Sir," Sam confirmed.

"Teal'c," a familiar voice called out as he approached.

"Ah, Master Bra'tac," Jack responded, his voice a bit airy and far-sounding. "Everyone all comfy and cosy for the night?"

"You forget, O'Neill, we do not need sleep," the Jaffa leader stated.

"How could I forget?" Jack teased with a smile.

"However, I am about to kelno'reem. Teal'c, join me. I have something I wish to discuss with you."

Teal'c gave a nod and joined his mentor.

"Remember, kids, no secrets here on the Alpha Site. Remember your hosts." Jack's eyes wandered as he realized what he said, which wasn't at all what he meant. "I mean, your A-1 accommodations are courtesy of Earth."

"For which we are thankful," Bra'tac responded.

The two Jaffa walked away, leaving only Jack and Sam.

"Carter, you don't think Bra'tac is going to turn our little happy home into ..."

"Into what, Sir?"

"I don't know, but when they have these little private sessions, my stomach churns."

"I'm sure it's just gas."

Jack looked at the blonde with a surprised expression.

"I thought you might like to feel like Daniel was here ... Sir."

For a moment, Jack stared at the woman blankly, but then he cracked a smile and acknowledged, "Yep. That's exactly what he would have said."

"Seriously, Sir, from the moment of arrival, there have been no incidents at all."

"Yeah, I'm just being ... me," the colonel mused. "Okay, Carter, let's call it a night. Make sure the security detail is on duty and not dozing off."

"Yes, Sir."

"Oh, Carter," Jack called out. When she turned back to face him, he gave her a quirky smile and said, "Happy New Year."

Sam returned the smile as she returned, "Happy New Year to you, too, Sir."

Jack gave her a nod and headed for his quarters.

====

On P36-231, Daniel was stretched out in his sleeping bag, the object only zipped up partially. He wanted to be warm, but the possibility of the Goa'uld showing up meant he also wanted to be able to make a quick exit. His tent was small, but he didn't need much room. He could hear the wind blowing, slamming the tent with its mighty wings. The loudness didn't faze the scientist at all, though, for his mind was elsewhere.

The archaeologist stared upward at the bland dark green of his temporary shelter and wished he could see the stars. His Jack loved astronomy and he'd spent many nights on the wood deck watching his life partner peer through a telescope while relating legendary tales about constellations and the images they represented. Many times, Jack did his stargazing in silence, with Daniel content to read a book. The lovers didn't need to be talking all the time. They found glory in the silence of their togetherness as much as they did when words or touch were prevalent.

~What are you doing now, Jack? You griped about going, but you love the Alpha Site. You created it, you and General Hammond. It's your ... military playground. It's okay to love it, Babe. I wish we were together, but we're both in our elements right now, and it won't be long. I'll be back on Earth tomorrow and you're due back by Friday, so it won't be long. I'm guessing you're trying to keep up with Bra'tac. You always try to outdo him somehow, but it never works. There's strength in being a Jaffa, but I don't need all that muscle, Jack. I need a different kind of strength. I need your strength.~

Daniel smiled as he began to think about his lover in lustful ways. They were both physically strong and amazingly agile. Even with years behind them now as a couple, they frequently explored new ways to make love. It kept their unions fresh and full of surprise. There was the romantic side of it, too. He knew most people wouldn't understand the need and appreciation for basic things, like roses and candies, or sips of wine with their arms intertwined.

At home, Daniel loved to dance with Jack. He did as well at a couple of private establishments they frequented, usually in Denver, but occasionally in Colorado Springs. His eyes closed, Daniel imagined a slow dance with their arms around each other, gently moving in step with the music. He could feel Jack and smell his scent. He was safe and loved. He was Jack's world. He could sense it, way down to the deepest part of his soul.

In his tranquil state, Daniel spoke a barely audible, "I love you, Jack," and slipped into the serenity of sleep.

----

On P3X-984, Jack was as comfortable as one could be on a single bed located at an off-world secret facility. Still, he was in an enclosed space in a room that had all the basics, and it was all his, one of the perks of being the leader of SGC's number one team.

Teal'c was in one of the dorms with Bra'tac and the other Jaffa. Both could have had their own accommodations, but both declined. Sam was bunking with Janet in the medical crew quarters and was happy to do so.

Jack clasped his hands behind his head as he focused on the gray of the ceiling, only he wasn't seeing the top of his room, but rather, he was envisioning his archaeologist. He looked into the blue eyes that he could see even when not physically there. He saw endless oceans of peace, hope, love, and trust in Daniel's cerulean eyes. They spoke to him in such a way that he would do anything to see them again. They were a reason to live, to fight, and to believe.

After a while, Jack shifted his position, bringing his hands under the sheets to rest on his abdomen. He gazed upon his memory Daniel and focused on the lips, luscious features that Jack loved to touch. Then again, Daniel's flanged lips against his body made him tingle and palpitate in ways he'd never known possible until he'd fallen head over heels in love with the man.

The military man's eyelids began to flitter as he listened to Daniel speak. How he loved that voice, though maybe not so much when they were arguing, as they were known to do from time to time. In the twilight of his conscious breaths for this day, Jack became lost in his Heart's words and tender expressions of love and devotion. He knew his buddies from the Air Force wouldn't believe how he could turn to mush over the melody of speech, but he did with regularity when Daniel spoke. The timber and harmonies of every syllable filled him with joy and passion that on the simplest level he related to opera and on the most complex level could only be called nondescript. There were no words suitable to express the effect of that voice on his being. All Jack knew was that the soft, often prolonged tones of Daniel's voice flowed through him like a cool, soothing ocean wave. He heard it now, the declaration of forever. It was as if Daniel were snuggled next to him, vowing his love.

Happy, Jack's eyelids shut completely. His lips moved, though his speech was silent, the effect of intensive special operations training. Even so, Jack's mind shouted with joy. It was his last semi-conscious thought before slumber took him.

~I love you, Angel, to the moon and back and beyond.~

====

The winds were gone as a new day dawned for Daniel and SG-2. They had breakfast, such as it was when MREs were consumed, and then the archaeologist set out to finish his exploration. When that was done, it was time to box up some artifacts and head back to Earth.

"Uh, be careful with that," the archaeologist requested of Lieutenant Foster, a fairly new addition to Stargate Command.

"What could happen?" the newbie questioned.

"You don't want to know," Daniel answered with an ominous tone. "Just ... be careful."

Foster grew pale and, with great caution, took the box full of relics and placed it on the MALP.

"Daniel," Lou Ferretti began quietly. "I saw you pack that box earlier. There's nothing in there but a few pots, and you wrapped them carefully."

"Correct," the mischievous archaeologist confirmed.

With an approving laugh, Ferretti quipped, "Jack's really rubbed off on you," before walking away.

Daniel stood motionless for a moment as he considered the major's remark and then sighed, "Gawd, he's right."

====

An hour later, Daniel and SG-2 reached the Stargate. Several boxes were atop the MALP and a few were being carried by Foster and another SG-2 team member. Daniel also carried a couple of sacks with him. The archaeologist dialed Earth and then noticed the expression on Lieutenant Penhall's face.

"Oh, sorry, force of habit," Daniel apologized, realizing it was normally Penhall's duty to dial home for SG-2.

Penhall nodded and transmitted SG-2's IDC code. Quickly, Stargate Command sent the signal that the iris was open and it was clear to return through the Gate.

As Daniel stepped through the event horizon and traveled through the wormhole, he had no idea that on the Alpha Site, things had taken a chaotic turn.

====

Meanwhile, the peacefulness of P3X-984 was interrupted by a sudden kawoosh of the Stargate, shocking Jack and everyone at the Alpha Site.

"What the ..." Jack began as he readied his weapon. "Carter!"

"Only our most trusted allies," Sam reminded, referring to who had the Gate address to the private locale.

"You'd better be right," Jack responded. "No one fires unless I give the order!" he instructed loudly as Sam, Teal'c, and other security team members on the planet waited to see who would come through the Gate.

Within seconds, two strangers ran through the event horizon, which shut down immediately after their appearance. They stopped at once upon seeing the weapons pointed at them.

"We're Tok'ra!" the first man shouted. "Our base has been attacked. Please, our people will die if you do not let us come."

"Where are SG-12 and 15?" the colonel questioned, knowing the teams were currently assigned to assist the Tok'ra.

"Engaged in battle."

Jack sighed, not liking the sound of that and worrying about the Earth personnel.

"How'd you get the Gate address?" Jack questioned cautiously.

"Selmak of the Tok'ra sent us through first. He's waiting for your permission to send the others and equipment vital to our continuation."

Jack considered what he'd been told and then lowered his weapon. Sam's father Jacob was the host to one of the Tok'ra leaders, Selmak, and was given the Gate address to the Alpha Site shortly after the base was established.

"Stand down," the colonel called out. "Carter, dial the Tok'ra base. Tell Jacob he can send his people through and *only* their security equipment. No extras."

"Yes, Sir," Sam acknowledged before swiftly heading for the DHD.

Jack looked around and saw skepticism and uncertainty on the faces of the Jaffa.

"Bra'tac, are we going to have any problems?"

"There will be none on our part," the Jaffa leader assured.

"See to it."

Within a few minutes, the link between the Tok'ra base and the Alpha Site was established for the third time. With Alpha Site security holding weapons on the Stargate, an onslaught of Tok'ra walking wounded were the first to come through.

The Rebel Jaffa remained leery of the Tok'ra arrivals, especially of the things that might be inside the crates they brought with them. Most stood back, their staff weapons pointed towards the Stargate. Some, however, assisted when they realized several of the Tok'ra refugees were hurt.

"Carter, get the Doc."

"I'm here, Colonel," Janet announced, surprising Jack when he turned his head and noticed she was standing several yards behind SG-1 and holding a rifle alongside others from the security team. "I know how to use these things, remember?" she mused before shouting out orders to the on-site medical team as she quickly started a triage for the wounded. "Immobilise with a cervical collar and let the symbiote heal the damage. Pressure dressing, stat," she instructed after examining the first of the injured. She jumped up and kneeled down to assess another of the injured. "Airway's compromised. Corpsman, priority one. Let's move!"

The evacuation became full scale very fast. Jack and Sam stood by the Gate, watching and making sure there were no nasty surprises.

All of a sudden, things took a twist when a Tok'ra named Ocker and another arrived with a large crate. One of the Rebel Jaffa, Artok, wanted a closer look at the box, something Ocker objected to as evidenced by him shoving the Jaffa backwards. In an instant, Rebel Jaffa pointed their staff weapons at the Tok'ra.

Seeing the commotion, Jack hurried over and asked about the contents of the box.

"We were told we could bring equipment essential to our security," Ocker explained.

"That wasn't the question. Open it up."

Ocker did as instructed, allowing everyone to see what was inside.

"A zatarc detector," Teal'c noted.

"See, that's all you had to say. Move out," Jack told the Tok'ra. He refocused on the Stargate. ~Where are our teams?~ the worried commander wondered. Finally, Major Pierce, who was lightly injured with facial lacerations, arrived on the planet along with other members of his team. "Pierce?"

"Colonel. SG-12 was wiped out in the first wave, Sir. The Goa'uld knew exactly where to hit. They took us completely by surprise."

"Where's my father?" Sam interjected.

"He insisted on disabling the DHD at the Tok'ra base and ordered us to leave."

"See to your men," Jack ordered. "Jacob's tough. He'll be okay," he assured his 2IC. ~I hope.~

Sam only nodded in response. She was relieved when a couple of minutes later Jacob and the Tok'ra Malek both came through the Gate together. At the same time, a blast from a Goa'uld staff weapon shot through the wormhole and hit Jacob in the leg. Sam immediately hurried to her father and helped him down the steps that were in front of the Stargate.

"Is the Gate secure?" Jack inquired.

"If the Chaapa'ai is soon reactivated, we will have the answer," Bra'tac opined.

~I wasn't talking to you,~ Jack sighed inwardly at the response, which he disliked as being potentially provoking to the Tok'ra..

Jacob advised, "I set a charge equivalent to a tactical nuke to detonate ten seconds after we left. No one's following us. No one saw the address."

"You're sure about that?" Jack questioned.

"I'm positive."

Jack faced the site personnel and ordered, "Stand down. Help the wounded." He looked at Jacob and asked, "What happened?"

"Anubis's forces overran our position in the Risa system," Malek answered.

"We tried dialing the SGC Gate, but the Gate must have already been active."

"It must have been Daniel and SG-2 returning from P36-231 with the artifacts Daniel wanted," Sam put forward. "None of the other teams are due back until later this afternoon."

"Jack, I know you wanted to keep the location of the Alpha Site top secret, but we had no alternative. We couldn't wait," Jacob avouched.

As the conversation continued, Jacob introduced Jack to the Tok'ra base commander, Malek, and to their Chief of Security, Ocker.

"How many made it?" Jack inquired.

"Less than a quarter of our number," Ocker answered.

"I'm sorry," Jack responded sincerely.

"This is the base of the Tau'ri. Why are there Jaffa?" Malek asked.

Malek was surprised there were so many Rebel Jaffa. He was as leery of them as they were of him.

Jack could feel the disquiet in the ranks, both Tok'ra and Jaffa. Even though they were all fighting the Goa'uld, there was a huge lack of distrust among both races, and while both leaders promised there would be no problems, the colonel sensed that might not be the case.

At the point, Sam wanted to get her father tended to by medical personnel and helped him over to the medical team.

Jack looked at Teal'c and shook his head as he turned and looked over the forced mixture of Jaffa and Tok'ra.

"This is not going to be fun."

====

Once the injured were tended to and things settled, a funeral was held for three of the Tok'ra who died after being evacuated to the Alpha Site. Near the end, an argument broke out among Malek and Artok. Jack was stunned when he learned the fight began simply because Artok asked a question. Worse, the two reluctant allies refused to speak of anything tranquil.

"Look, it does not matter. Come on, a lot of people lost their lives. Show a little respect," Jack urged.

When Ocker turned to walk away, Artok spat, "They are no different than the Goa'uld."

Teal'c immediately chastised, "Jaffa," prompting the angry warrior to leave the area.

"All right, break it up! Go on home. There's nothin' to see here. Go on," Jack told those still gathered around the action.

"There's no need to apologize on their behalf, Colonel," Malek claimed.

"Apologize?" Jack echoed in complete disbelief. ~I don't recall apologizing to anyone, and I'm not about to, either.~

"We understand the Jaffa."

"Actually, I was gonna remind you that without Bra'tac and Teal'c and other Jaffa, all your little Tok'ra folks would be pushin' up daisies right now."

"And I need not remind you that the rebel Jaffa and the Tau'ri are equally indebted to us," Malek stated smugly.

~That's a good one,~ Jack thought sarcastically.

"How so?" Teal'c inquired.

"We have been fighting the Goa'uld for millennia," Malek returned.

"Yeah. Just when should we expect some progress on that?" Jack quipped, satisfied he'd appropriately dinged the Tok'ra when he saw the insulted expression on Malek's face. Then he heard the voice in his head, a voice pleading for calm and peace. He loved that voice, even when the voice's words aggravated him. ~Okay, Danny, I know, deep breath and count to ten.~ Realizing he needed to get things back to an even keel, he said, "It's been a bad day. Let's ... move on."

Jack's problems were far from over, providing him little opportunity to take a cleansing breath or even count to five. No sooner did Malek walk away than Sam approached and told him the Tok'ra were unhappy with their temporary quarters.

"Explain to them the meaning of the word 'temporary'. If they don't like it, they can leave."

"You really want me to tell them that?" Sam asked.

"Yes. No." With a deep sigh, Jack stated, "I'll do it." He walked away, thinking, ~Geez, I wish Danny were here. I'm about as good at this diplomatic stuff as Teal'c is at ballet.~

====

Thirty minutes later on Earth, the klaxon sounded as the Stargate engaged.

"Sir, SG-1's IDC has been identified," Sergeant Davis advised the major general, who was in his office.

"Get Doctor Jackson," Hammond instructed, knowing Daniel would want to hear from his teammates personally.

Hammond entered the control room and gave a nod to Davis, who established the link.

"Colonel O'Neill?" Hammond called out.

"General, we have a situation," Jack announced, his words just reaching Daniel's ears as the archaeologist hurriedly took the couple of steps up and into the control room.

"What kind of situation?"

"The inn is full up," Jack began.

"Colonel?"

"We have more guests, Sir -- the Tok'ra."

"The Tok'ra?" Daniel heard himself say.

"Daniel?"

"Hi, Jack."

Jack had plenty to say to his soulmate, but this wasn't the time or place. Even so, hearing Daniel's voice filled his heart with joy.

"General, the Goa'uld attacked the Tok'ra base in the Risa System. Jacob and a whole passel of Tok'ra are here."

Concerned, Hammond asked, "Colonel, why didn't they contact SGC? That should have been their response."

"The Gate was engaged, General."

"Uh, that would have been me, I mean us, SG-2 and me," Daniel interjected.

"That's what Carter figured."

"How are the Rebel Jaffa responding to your new guests?" a concerned Hammond inquired.

"It's a bit of a rocky road, General."

"How can we assist?"

~Danny,~ was Jack's first response. "No, we're good here."

"Very well. Report in at the scheduled time," Hammond ordered.

"Yes, Sir. O'Neill out."

Hammond glanced over at Daniel and gave him a supportive nod. Though it was not uncommon for Jack and Daniel to go on separate missions away from the flagship team, there was always a regret at the team not being together. He glanced at his watch and stated, "SG-2's mission debrief is in a half hour. Will you be attending?"

"Yes, Sir," Daniel answered.

"Good. I'd like to get your opinion on young Lieutenant Foster."

With a smile, the archaeologist nodded his agreement and then left the control room to prepare.

====

That night, Daniel went out onto the roof deck. It was freezing cold, only twenty-eight degrees out. Thus, he was wore sweatpants and a sweatshirt, along with a coat. He brought his gloved hands to his mouth and released a large breath. He could see the air leaving his mouth. He looked up at the faraway heavens, thankful for the clear skies that let him see the vastness of space. Regardless of the weather, he needed a few minutes outside, on this deck, to commune with his inner thoughts and feelings for his soulmate. He felt grateful he could have this time and that the winds were mild and not affecting his reflections on the roof.

Daniel viewed the front corner where Jack's telescope was often placed, though it wasn't there now. To protect it from the weather, his lover brought it inside the house before they left on New Year's Day. Still, he could see the item clear as day. He pictured Jack, sitting on a chair and leaning forward as he gazed through the lens. As if real, he saw Jack turn his head and grin before telling him a story about the stars.

Taking a deep breath, Daniel confessed his inner longing to himself and to the sounds of nature.

"I need to be with you. *I* need it, maybe more than you need to be with me. Gawd, how'd it get like this, where I feel so lost when we're apart? One more day, Jackson, and then he'll be home."

Not admitting the fears he had, an inner feeling that something might go wrong between the Tok'ra and the Jaffa that would put his lover right in the middle of staff weapon and zat blasts, Daniel instead concentrated on the impending reunion and then he closed his eyes and visualized his lover taking him into his arms and kissing him with great tenderness.

Daniel opened his eyes and smiled toward the night sky as he uttered, "Goodnight, Babe," and then returned to the warmth of the house where he went to bed and fell asleep within minutes.

----

Far away on Earth's Alpha Site, Jack retired for the night and yet, he felt restless. Unable to sleep, he dressed, grabbed his P-90, and went outside. The night air was crisp, but not overly so. He was comfortable in his uniform and he didn't feel the need to put on his gloves.

Automatically, the colonel's eyes went to the Stargate and the men assigned to watch over it. He next surveyed the perimeter, his need to make sure the location was properly guarded nearly physiological, an involuntary activity that was as natural to him as a reflexive knee.

Assured the base was secure, Jack ambled over to where some empty boxes were stacked. He placed his right leg up on one box and leaned forward. His head lowered, he stretched a bit as he tried to let his mind clear. He looked up, though his eyes didn't see anything in the real world. Rather, he was home. He was with Daniel. He let the vision linger until he felt it was no longer safe. Hearing a sound, he looked across the base and saw two Jaffa, apparently out for a walk. It seemed innocent enough, their pace natural and easy and without any animated gestures.

Jack blinked and moved back, away from the boxes. He walked to the back of the nearest building, leaned back while raising his left leg and pressing it against the wall, and stared out at the woods. He put aside his frustration in dealing with the Jaffa and the Tok'ra. He was already tired of thinking about their intolerance toward one another, not to mention his own issues with dealing with the Tok'ra. Letting the chill of the night refresh him, Jack concentrated on his lover.

~I wonder what you're doing. Did you eat? Are you asleep? Did you get gas? That sporty little car of yours was nearly on empty when we got to the Mountain. Maybe you fixed the leak in the sink. You said it was on your 'to do' list while I was gone.~ Jack grinned as he suggested with some certainty, ~Or maybe you're up, standing in our favorite spot on the deck, thinking about me. If I can't sleep, maybe you can't, either. Geez, Danny, I can't imagine a life without you. How'd I get like this? It sure makes these separate missions hard. I'm Special Ops, for crying out loud. I'm supposed to be planning secret missions, not feeling all giddy in the knees because I'm thinking about your lips on mine, and I won't go as far to think about what other part, or parts, of me your lips are on.~

The colonel let out a small sound, a verbal kick. He couldn't go to far with those thoughts, not while on the Alpha Site, surrounded by a myriad of personnel, not to mention the Jaffa and Tok'ra. In fact, just as he pushed himself off the wall with his foot, he noted a Tok'ra appear several yards away. The Tok'ra gave Jack a glance and then turned around and disappeared from view.

~Friend or foe?~ Jack pondered. ~Not going there, not right now. Wish you were here, Danny. Check that. I wish I were there, with you, on the deck, snuggling. It's not snowing in the Springs, is it? I didn't check the forecast.~

Jack decided to return to his room and settled back into bed. He closed his eyes and returned to the image of he and Daniel cozying up at the back of the roof deck. He felt the skin of Daniel's cheek and the smoothness of his hands. The image brought Jack peace he hadn't felt all day. It gave him an instant of serenity.

~Goodnight, Angel,~ Jack sighed contentedly just as serenity lured him to sleep.

====

Bright and early the next morning, Jack was headed for the mess hall when he was contacted over the radio by his second-in-command.

"Sir, are you up?"

"Carter, do you know what time it is?"

"Um, it's ..."

"Never mind," Jack stated, cutting off the major. "What is it?"

"There's something I need to show you."

"Can't it wait?" the hungry man asked.

"No. It's important, Colonel."

"Fine. I'm on my way." Jack began to walk and then looked around the base. "Carter?" he called out after clicking on his radio.

Trying to hide a giggle, Sam advised, "We're in the science lab."

"*We*?"

"Teal'c is here."

"Doesn't anyone sleep around here?" Jack retorted before heading to the room in question. He entered the lab and warily eyed an object on the table at the center of the room. "Carter, isn't that the naquadah reactor?"

"It is."

"And it's here ... why?"

Sam indicated that her day began by doing a routine check of the reactor and while testing it, she noticed what she thought was a power fluctuation. Upon closer examination, she realized the problem was not mechanical in nature.

"I discovered the absorption port and its redundancy had been tampered with," the major stated.

"Carter! I haven't had coffee," Jack whined, not understanding the specifics Sam used in her lengthy explanation of the situation.

The scientist clarified that the naquadah reactor had been set to overload, something that would take about an hour to occur, or a tad less. The blast would more than likely destroy the entire Alpha Site.

~Oy!~ Jack clicked his radio. "Pierce? O'Neill. No one goes within twenty yards of the Gate till I get there."

After Pierce acknowledged the order, Teal'c probed, "What are you considering, O'Neill?"

"Well, if you'd rigged a reactor to blow, wouldn't you want to be off-world before it ... blew?"

"Indeed."

====

The colonel's next course of action was to contact General Hammond and bring him up to date.

With the splash of the Stargate, Jack began his communication. He was happy to hear his soulmate's voice yet again. He wondered if Daniel was finding reasons to stay in the control room or if he was making a dash for the Stargate every time the circular object was engaged and the standard advisory alert within the Mountain sounded.

~Are you wearing the blues?~ Jack pondered in his mind. He loved Daniel in blue, including blue uniforms. Regretfully, he knew he didn't have time to dwell on the lushness of his soulmate, though in his heart he wanted to do just that. Instead, Jack informed Hammond about the tampering of the reactor. "We don't have a clue who's responsible."

His arms crossed as he stood, the general offered, "I could send reinforcements."

"Negative, Sir. We've got enough people here as it is."

"Jack, there shouldn't be any risk from an incoming wormhole from Earth. I'm going to join you," Daniel insisted as he stood to Hammond's right.

"No, Daniel. Look, I'm sorry. We could use you, but you're gonna have to sit this one out. In fact, until we know what's going on, General, I recommend no Gate travel either way."

"Jack ..."

"Daniel!"

The archaeologist was upset. He didn't really know if Jack and his team were in trouble, but he wanted to be there.

"Understood, Colonel. I'll have SG-3 standing by, just in case," Hammond advised.

"We'll report back in twenty-four hours. O'Neill out."

As the Stargate shut down, Daniel muttered to himself, "Twenty-four more hours."

Worried and shutout from joining his teammates, Daniel returned to his office and tried to focus on his research.

====

On the Alpha Site, once the Stargate shut down, Jack ordered, "Pierce, I want the guard doubled."

"Yes, Sir," the major acknowledged, saluting before walking away to follow the directive.

Seeing action by the Stargate, several of the Tok'ra, including Jacob and Malek, approached SG-1.

"What is happening?" Malek inquired.

"Ah, looks we're gonna be stuck here for a while," Jack admitted as he placed his right hand atop the MALP, his fingers and hand making frequent gestures as the conversation continued.

"It is imperative that we be allowed to seek another location for our base."

"Yeah, you might want to put that on hold. We have a situation," Jack explained.

Teal'c interjected, "There is a saboteur among us."

"Our naquadah reactor almost went critical. I discovered it just in time," Sam told the Tok'ra.

Concerned, Malek asked, "And if you hadn't?"

"Then we wouldn't be having this chat," Jack answered pointedly.

"I see."

Sam remarked, "This planet was chosen as our Alpha site because its address is unknown to the Goa'uld."

"And it is imperative that this base remain secret. We will be questioning everybody," Jack stated.

"Of course," Malek responded.

Spikily, Jack added, "Starting with the Tok'ra."

"For what reason?" a displeased Malek inquired.

"Everything was fine until you showed up." the colonel answered with complete sincerity.

"If what you say is true, we would have perished with you," Malek put forward.

"It'd only take one."

Malek was angered and looked to Jacob's symbiote, Selmak, for reason. He called out the symbiote's name with an air of controlled desperation.

Accepting the situation, Selmak replied, "We have no choice. The zatarc detector will reveal any lie or deception."

"Yeah, but a spy within either the Jaffa or Tok'ra ranks wouldn't necessarily have to be a zatarc to attempt this," Sam noted.

"Any deception will be detected, whether we are dealing with a zatarc or not," Selmak assured.

"Look, no one is happy about this situation. Believe me, I know all about the fallibility of the zatarc. No one is going to be accused solely because of it, but it will help us to eliminate the innocent. We'll start with the Tok'ra and move on from there." Proud of his calm but stern handling of the circumstance, Jack looked at Jacob and stated, "Set it up." He shifted his stare to Malek and added, "You pick the order of questioning, but everyone *will* be tested."

Malek was still annoyed, but Selmak was the Tok'ra leader. He walked away to gather his people for the testing.

====

General Hammond's door was open as he worked on his computer. He heard a gentle tap and looked up to see Daniel standing at the doorway.

"Doctor Jackson?"

As he walked inside the office a few feet, Daniel raised his right hand to allow his finger to scratch his cheek for a quick second and stated, "Sir, I request permission to go to P3X-984."

"Doctor, I know you want to be with your team, but under the circumstances, I cannot allow it."

"Sir, with all due respect, Sam said an overload would take close to an hour to occur. Jack has the Gate well guarded. It would only take a minute for me to go through, and coming from Earth, there's no risk," the archaeologist asserted as he crossed his arms in front of him.

"Doctor ..."

"Jack isn't the best peacemaker," Daniel put forth, not happy about saying it, though it was common knowledge that the colonel was not known for his diplomatic prowess. "He has his hands full."

"I have no doubt." Hammond studied the archaeologist very carefully. He wondered if Daniel would somehow try to get to the Alpha Site even without his permission. ~SG-1 has made my blood boil more than once in the past,~ he thought, recalling numerous times when they'd disobeyed his orders, including instances when they went through the Stargate without his approval. "Very well."

"Sir?" Daniel responded as he lowered his hands to his side and stood agape, shocked that he didn't have to debate the issue longer and that he'd actually won.

"Son, sometimes the smartest decision isn't really smart, but it is the most obvious. Go be with your team. We'll send you through when you're ready."

"Thank you, Sir," Daniel spoke appreciatively before turning and heading for the exit.

"Doctor Jackson," Hammond called out.

Turning around just as he reached the door, Daniel faced the major general to hear what he had to say.

"Good luck."

With a smile, Daniel replied, "Thank you," and left to prepare for his trek off-world.

====

The elapsed time between Hammond's okay and Daniel's arrival in the gate room was a mere ten minutes. During those minutes, Hammond considered sending SG-3 to the Alpha Site with Daniel, but he recalled Jack's comment about there being too many people on the planet. The major general feared that the presence of the elite Marine team might unintentionally inflame the tentative relationship between the Rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra refugees. Thus, he ultimately decided to keep the team at a ready stance and send them through only if Jack requested it.

As he stood behind Sergeant Davis' post in the control room, Hammond wondered if he'd made the right decision in allowing Daniel to go to the Alpha Site. There was a small percentage of risk involved and Jack already told Daniel to stay on Earth.

~He'd find a way,~ Hammond sighed as he watched Daniel, now in green BDUs, standing near the bottom of the ramp. ~And I know Jack could use his help in keeping the peace.~

"Sir?" Davis prompted, having not yet received the order to dial the Alpha Site.

"Dial 'er up, Sergeant." Hammond opened the microphone link and announced, "Doctor Jackson, you have a go. God speed."

Daniel looked up, smiling as he responded, "Thank you, General."

~And heaven help you when Colonel O'Neill sees you.~

====

The zatarc probes were in progress with a Tok'ra named Modry answering questions when Jack's radio went off.

"Sir, the Gate is engaging," Major Pierce advised.

"On my way," Jack replied. He gave Jacob a quick glance before he turned to leave the interrogation room. He sprinted to the Stargate, taking note that Sam and Teal'c were already there. "Listen up," he called out as he stood near the bottom of the steps that were in front of the ancient device. "No one fires until *I* give the signal, but *no one* gets one step down without my okay. Is that understood?"

The three SG-1 members, along with Pierce and two of his SG-15 teammates, and several personnel from the Alpha Site, surrounded the Stargate. Their weapons were pointed at the Stargate and were readied when the mighty kawoosh thundered outward.

Jack's heart raced as his adrenaline heightened. His senses were on full alert. He wouldn't hesitate to kill whoever appeared through the event horizon if he thought the visitor were a threat to the Tau'ri base. He drew a slight breath, his fingers poised on the trigger of his powerful P-90. Then his heart sank from shock. He dropped his weapon and shouted out, "Hold your fire."

"Thanks," Daniel called out with a bright smile as he watched the military force relax and put their weapons at rest. "Hi, Jack." He looked over at his friends and greeted, "Sam, Teal'c. I thought maybe you could use some help."

"Daniel, so help me, I might kill you anyway!"

Sam looked over at the colonel and could easily see his anger, though she knew it masked genuine concern for their teammate.

"Daniel! With me -- *now*!" the colonel snapped, turning and walking furiously away from the Gate.

The archaeologist shrugged at the curious manpower that still surrounded him and slowly made his way passed them. He glanced back at Sam and Teal'c for a couple of seconds and then took some quick steps to catch up with his lover. It was not an easy task as Jack's pace was swift until he finally disappeared inside a small storage room.

Daniel followed Jack inside and caught sight of the upset on the older man's face.

"Do you know how close you came to being shot the moment you walked through the Gate?" Jack questioned sternly, his weapon still in front of him as if ready to react to a crisis. "Didn't I order you, *order* you, Daniel, to *stay* at SGC? Was there something you didn't understand? You're a friggin' genius so I have a tough time believing you didn't comprehend my orders." The intensity of Jack's eyes were stronger than ever. "Why in Netu didn't you at least send a message through first?"

"You would have tried to stop me."

"Daniel," an exasperated Jack groused. "I could have shot you."

"I don't think so."

"Danny, for a smart man, sometimes you're not very smart."

"But I'm obvious."

"What?" the colonel snapped. ~What does that mean?~

"It's ... it's just something me and General Hammond."

"He knows you're here? He let you come?"

"I have a hunch he knew I'd find a way. I, uh, wasn't happy being on Earth while you were here. Something ... it, I don't know, Jack, I felt like I had to be here."

"Daniel," Jack chastised while taking a huge breath and finally relaxing a tad. He shifted his weapon to his side where it normally was positioned when situations were calm. "I should send you right back through the Gate," he spoke as he walked forward until he was immediately in front of the younger man.

"Why don't you?"

Jack's answer was daring and powerful. It was one of his riskiest moves since his eternal love affair began with Daniel. He pulled Daniel into his personal space and kissed him mightily. The P-90 was a minor inconvenience, but they'd dealt with that successfully in the past and did so now.

Daniel's arms went around his Love, his hands rubbing against Jack's back. Their kisses were long and deep. Their two-day separation felt like a lifetime, and that was too long. They had to react and fill a deep-seeded need as well as a passion that was so great it was often wild and explosive.

----

In front of the Stargate, Sam, Teal'c, Pierce, and others stood around, waiting for Jack's return. Minutes passed with no visual of the colonel or Daniel.

The Rebel Jaffa cared nothing of the verbal altercation and went back to their tasks, while the Tok'ra refugees awaited their turn to be questioned.

Sam looked at Teal'c and submitted, "They may be awhile, Teal'c."

"O'Neill did not seemed pleased to see DanielJackson."

"I wouldn't say that, exactly. I'm going to go see if Janet needs anything."

Teal'c nodded and remained in position at the Stargate. He was certain Jack and Daniel would return when their discussion was ended. In the meantime, he ran through ideas to defeat the Goa'uld. It was his life mission and he was determined to bring down his foe.

====

"Need any help?" Sam asked Janet when she entered the base's infirmary.

"No, we've got everything in control now. What was all that fuss about?"

"Daniel's here."

"I didn't think Colonel O'Neill was allowing anyone else on the planet."

"He wasn't."

"Where are there?"

"Well, I'm not sure, but I wouldn't want to be around them right now."

"The colonel's angry?"

"He's something," Sam responded with a nod and a nervous smile. ~And I really and truly don't want to be thinking about this. Come on, Janet. I need a distraction.~

"Oh, Sam, you can help me with something."

"Great!"

====

As Jack adjusted his belt, he remarked, "Danny, don't get me wrong. I love you. I missed you. I need you. Geez, I want you, all the time, but you shouldn't be here."

Slipping on his green jacket, Daniel replied, "Yes, I should. I'm right where I belong. So, anything new?"

Jack smiled. He was about to pick up his weapon, but instead he leaned in for one more kiss. Though it was quick, he'd just made love with the man who owned his heart and soul and how he wished they could do it again. They'd already taken enough of a risk, though. They'd been hidden from view for way too long and to stay away longer would be inappropriate. He kissed Daniel yet again, long, sweet, and tender.

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

With that, Jack picked up his P-90 and told Daniel about the zatarc tests.

"Come with," Jack suggested, getting a nod from his soulmate.

Together, the two made a final check of the room to ensure they hadn't left any signs of their powerful union. Then they left the storage area to check on the progress of the zatarc testing.

====

"Jack, I'm surprised you were gone so long," Jacob spoke when he saw the colonel enter the interrogation room.

"Something came up."

"That would be me," Daniel announced, his face straight and innocent looking.

"Daniel," the Tok'ra greeted in surprise. "I didn't think ..."

"He's here," Jack interrupted. "Anything?"

"So far all of the Tok'ra have shown no signs of deception. Malek is the last of us, except for the injured."

Right on cue, Malek approached and noticed the newcomer.

"Who is this?"

"I'm Daniel Jackson, Doctor Daniel Jackson, SG-1," Daniel advised, reaching out to shake the man's hand and receiving nothing but a stare in response.

Selmak instructed, "Malek, you must sit for the test."

The probe of Malek's mind began with a series of questions that led up to asking him if he had anything to do with the destruction in the Risa System or the sabotage of the naquadah reactor. He passed the test and left the room.

Jack walked over to the window and peered outside. To his chagrin, he observed a near fight between Ocker and Artok. Fortunately, Teal'c broke up the scuffle before it escalated.

Daniel joined his colonel and asked, "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking ... trust is a hard thing, especially when you don't like someone, and there's not a lot of like out there right now."

"Trust takes time," Daniel responded. "We're all fighting the same enemy."

"Tell them that," Jack said with a nod to the argumentative allies visible outside the window.

From a few feet away and unaware of what was being discussed by Jack and Daniel, Jacob advised, "I'll screen the wounded, but I doubt they could have made it from the infirmary undetected. After that, if we still have nothing, base personnel will have to be screened."

"Okay," Jack quickly agreed as he turned to face Jacob.

"And the Jaffa," the Tok'ra leader reminded.

Jack looked over at the Rebel Jaffa leader and sought his approval by calling out his name.

"I had hoped it would not come to that," Bra'tac responded.

"Look, if the Jaffa won't submit to the screening after the Tok'ra already have, we're just askin' for trouble."

"The very purpose of this device questions one's honor," the aged Jaffa argued.

"Or you could say it confirms one's honor," Jacob countered.

"It is also of Tok'ra design," Bra'tac spoke with trepidation.

"Oh, come on!" an unhappy Jack exclaimed. ~This is *exactly* what I'm talking about.~

"I have learned much in my hundred and thirty-seven years. Can you look me in the eye and tell me you trust the Tok'ra entirely?"

"No, not entirely," the colonel admitted. ~Not much, to be honest.~

"Jack," Daniel sighed in warning.

"But enough to allow myself to be screened along with everybody else," Jack added. ~And you don't know my history with that thing. If you did ... ah, forget it.~

Bowing his head in agreement, Bra'tac stated, "I will convince the Jaffa to submit. You have my word. Perhaps once the Tok'ra see how big Jaffa hearts can be, they will finally look upon us as equals."

Without warning, the group heard a shout from outside. It was Malek, yelling for Jack. He was standing near some barrels and at his feet was the dead body of Ocker.

"Get Doctor Fraiser," Jack ordered one of the base staff.

Malek accused Artok of the crime and it wasn't long before two Tok'ra found the Jaffa in question and forced him to the location where Ocker's body was found. Artok ardently denied he was responsible. Full of ire, Malek insisted Artok undergo zatarc screening right away. Everyone looked to Jack and after a moment, he agreed and motioned for the security team to take Artok to the interrogation room for testing.

"Carter, I want you in there," Jack told his 2IC. Then he kneeled down for a brief moment and told Janet, "I need to know the cause of death."

"I'll get right on it, Sir," Janet acknowledged.

As Jack turned away, Janet smiled at the archaeologist and stated, "I heard you were here."

"Yeah, I'm, uh, not sure I'm doing anything helpful at the moment, but ..."

"Oh, I'm sure you're needed. It's been a powder keg around here for the last couple of days."

"I've heard, pieces anyway." Daniel looked at the body and said, "I'll let you ..."

"Yeah, the colonel wants to know what happened as soon as possible." Janet looked over at some of the medical team and shouted, "I need some help over here."

"I'll talk to you later," Daniel said as he backed away and went to join Jack who was now speaking with Jacob and Bra'tac.

"You both know this, but I'm gonna say it out loud anyway. I need every bit of influence you two have, or this whole thing's gonna blow up," Jack stated, getting nods of agreement from the two men.

"Is there anything I can do?" Daniel asked when he joined the three.

"It is difficult to have one's honor questioned," Bra'tac conceded. "Artok is young and boastful, but he insists he did not do this thing."

"The zatarc screening should go a long way in proving that then," Daniel opined.

"The Tok'ra have already undergone screening. There was no deception," Jacob told the Jaffa master.

"Look, we don't have time a debate. Let's get inside and get this over with," Jack said with force.

The conversation finished, the group went to the interrogation room to conduct the screening on the accused Rebel Jaffa.

====

When Artok's test showed deception, Jack had him taken to a holding cell.

Malek was immediately convinced Artok was guilty of murder and said as much to those present at the questioning.

"All we know is that he is lying about something," Jack insisted.

"What more proof do you need?" Malek asked.

"The zatarc technology isn't infallible," Daniel interjected. "It's ... been wrong before."

"Daniel's right," Sam affirmed. "It can give false positives."

"A short while ago, you were all willing to stake the security of the base on it," Malek challenged.

"Okay, but from what I understand, there's been a lot of ... hostility between Artok and Ocker. We know from past experience that strong emotions can influence the results of the tests, so it could be Artok's hostility for Ocker that accounts for the readings," Daniel suggested.

"His hostility is the reason Ocker is dead," Malek returned sternly.

As the debate continued, Malek didn't back away from his belief and he let it be known that he would not accept any alibi Artok offered if it was only verifiable by one of the Rebel Jaffa.

"Of course you won't," Jack groaned. "So, why don't we see what the autopsy says?"

"Why?" Malek questioned, wanting justice to happen straightaway.

"Because we don't convict people just because some friggin' light turns red," Jack snapped in reference to the zatarc device for which a red hue was an indication of deception.

"Janet, Doctor Fraiser," Daniel began, "is doing the autopsy. She's very proficient. Not much gets by her."

"The report may offer tangible evidence proving or disproving his guilt," Jacob put forward.

"Look, he's not goin' anywhere. You've got my word," Jack promised.

"And mine as well," Bra'tac added.

"Many Tok'ra have died in recent days. To lose another of our number in a place we had thought was refuge, it is difficult," Malek responded in a more vulnerable tone.

"I'm sure it is," Jack agreed. ~Gee, he almost sounds human there, almost.~

"We all want the truth, Malek," Daniel stated. "We just need a little time to make sure we know what that truth is."

Malek nodded and left the room.

"Carter, check on the Doc and give her a hand," Jack ordered, watching as the blonde left the room.

"Jacob, keep testing, first with the wounded Tok'ra and then start on the Jaffa."

"And your people?"

"They aren't the cause of this and we all know it, *but* we'll do our bit, after you've finished with all our visitors first."

Saying nothing more, Jack left the room, followed immediately by Daniel.

====

"Hey," Daniel called out to his fast-paced partner. "Jack!"

"What is it, Daniel?"

"I don't know. You tell me," the younger man invited with some force as he reached out and briefly grabbed the colonel's arm, thereby stopping him from taking another step.

"Danny, you came late to show. I've been dealing with this pettiness for days now, and I'm sick of it. None of these people are in my book of favorites, but we're all supposed to be on the same team. What is *wrong* with these people?"

"I'm sorry I wasn't here earlier."

"You had your own mission to complete. I may tease, but I get it."

"Thank you, but, uh, the truth is that we're on a greater mission together."

Jack released a big breath and let out the tiniest of smiles before affirming, "We are, and I'm glad you're here now."

"There's something on your mind."

"Yeah, but this isn't the time. We need to find out what killed Ocker and I need to check in with Pierce. We're still at risk."

"Is it possible the murder and the sabotage aren't related?"

"Possible but doubtful."

"You think Artok's guilty."

Jack grimaced and looked away before answering, "I don't know. It seems almost too easy to blame him. Danny, the Rebel Jaffa haven't caused a single problem since they first arrived here months ago. Suddenly, the Tok'ra show up and all hell breaks loose."

"Are you thinking ... a rogue?" Daniel probed curiously.

"Jacob wouldn't approve, and I'm not sure Malek would, either. He ... he's just concerned about his people, and I understand that."

"But you still believe it's a Tok'ra."

"No. Yes. Maybe." Jack let out a groan. "I don't know what I think, my skin is crawling. Something's not right about any of this."

"We'll figure it out."

For a moment, Jack let himself get lost in the confident sound of his soulmate's voice, but he couldn't let it last more than mere seconds.

"I'm gonna check out the Stargate. Have you eaten?" Jack raised his hand and shook his head to stop Daniel from answering. "Silly question. I'll meet you in the mess in ten. We can eat something before getting the autopsy results.

"Okay," Daniel agreed, smiling sweetly at his lover turned and walked away.

====

Jack and Daniel ate a quick and quiet lunch together. As they walked out of the mess hall, Daniel decided he needed to say something as his senses told him that his soulmate was in some kind of distress.

"Jack, you haven't said much."

The older man sighed and with a slight cock of his head suggested, "Let's take a walk." He led his Love to an area just outside the base camp on the outskirts of the woods that was in the early stages of being cleared for the addition of another building that would be used for science experiments. They were close enough to respond in seconds should another crisis occur and yet far enough away to provide some small sense of privacy. "I didn't expect this mission to be so hard," he confided as he sat down on a tree stump.

"You've dealt with plenty of situations in the past that make this look ... simple," Daniel contended as he sat down on one of the other nearby tree. "Why is this one different?"

"Senseless violence," Jack returned. "Fighting for no reason except some inner hate for one another; an unsteady allegiance, marred by mistrust and accusations, with the hopes we'll one day win the war."

"Jack."

"I can't get Kanan and that whole nightmare out of my mind, Danny."

Daniel wished he could take his soulmate's hand, but he couldn't. From their position, they might be seen. His heart felt Jack's anguish.

"I've never trusted the Tok'ra, not really. I can count on one hand," the colonel raised up his right hand to demonstrate and then sighed as he limited the number of trusted Tok'ra to, "three fingers ..." only then he paused and corrected, "two, two fingers, two Tok'ra I trust, maybe. Crap, Danny, I don't trust any of them. They've screwed us over more times than they've helped us and ..."

"And what, Jack?"

"After Kanan head-napped me, whatever I had that resembled trust faded. I understand the Jaffa. They're fighters like me, unafraid to take on their enemies, but the Tok'ra, they're all talk. You know how they are, Danny. They never tell us the truth about missions. There's always some little twist that gets us in trouble. How many times have they held out important information until the last minute? I'll tell you how many, *too* many."

"They've been trying to defeat the Goa'uld longer than we have, Jack, and they've sacrificed thousands."

"Yeah, I know," Jack acknowledged as he looked away.

"Babe, what is it, really?"

Jack's head whipped back to face Daniel, the man who knew him so well.

"I had a little chat with Jacob yesterday, after the funeral for the dead Tok'ra. I asked him why the Tok'ra were so ..."

When Jack's voice trailed off, Daniel interjected, "Arrogant?"

"Yeah, but he actually said the word."

"But you were thinking it."

"Yeah," Jack admitted. "He talked about the host and symbiote having a complicated relationship, and then he started yakking about that blending stuff."

"It is a blending, a mixture of both personalities and knowledge," Daniel stated.

"He reminded me, not that he needed to, that we'd both be dead without those snakes ..."

"Symbiotes."

"Whatever," the older man remarked dismissively. "He started giving me all the sound bytes about Kanan having broken their most sacred laws and can't I forgive him for doing the wrong thing in the name of trying to do the right thing."

"Oh," Daniel said softly.

"I told him no, I can't forgive Kanan, and I can't. I don't forgive him and, blast it, I don't want to forgive him." Jack shook his head, unable to believe the concept he'd been told. "Jacob thinks I'd understand the Tok'ra better if Kanan had blended with me better," Jack said, using his fingers to emphasize the word 'blended' as he spoke. "I don't need a sn...symbiote in my body to understand the Tok'ra."

Daniel remained quiet, choosing to let his lover release his inner thoughts and pain. Jack always had a harder time admitting his deepest feelings, especially ones that were contrary to his true nature.

"Jacob knows how I feel, that I'm not fond of the Tok'ra these days. He shared his view; talked about the hosts coming from a world with a heritage that was nothing more than choosing forced labor or death. His point was that Tok'ra history equates death with the Jaffa. According to him, that accounts for the discord." Jack looked away and swallowed hard. "Danny, he thinks they're losing the battle."

"Jack?"

"That's the commonality between the Tok'ra and the Rebel Jaffa and maybe us, too, but we just don't know it."

"What is?"

"Losing the battles; losing the war; being exterminated from existence."

"Jack ..."

"I want to hate them, Danny," Jack spat as he stood and walked a few feet away, his back to his soulmate. "I want to rip that smugness right off their faces. I want ..."

"But you can't," Daniel spoke after Jack trailed off, not completing his sentence. He stood and closed the gap between them to where he stood just inches behind Jack. "You can't hate them because you know Jacob's right. We know their numbers are down. You know the Tok'ra, all of them, Jack, every one of them, have fought the Goa'uld for centuries. You can't hate them. You can disagree with them, be frustrated with them when they don't do things the way we'd like them to, and you can admit that they live a life that you want no part of, but you can't hate them because while they're different from your ideal, they are in many ways just like you, and me, and everyone here. They want to be free. The Rebel Jaffa want to free, and so do we."

"Malek is an arrogant S.O.B. He wants Jaffa blood, righteous or not."

"But you heard what he said in the interrogation room. Jack, he can't admit it, but he's scared, scared for his people. He got to you in that moment because what he said was valid and showed his love for those who came before him, those here now, and, with some luck, those who will come after. Cultural change takes years, decades, sometimes centuries. You can't expect the Tok'ra and the Rebel Jaffa to be best friends overnight. They need time to adjust, to ... forgive."

Jack's head turned at Daniel's words and he stared into the logical face that always challenged him to be his best self.

"I'm not asking you to forgive, Jack. I know how hard that is. Forgiving is harder than forgetting, but one ... symbiote's mistake can't tarnish an entire race. What Kanan did was inexcusable, but Jacob, Garshaw, even Malek, they're good, honest people who are trying to do the same thing we are: defeat the Goa'uld and live our lives freely. That's all."

"You make it all sound so simple."

"It's not. There's nothing simple about moving forward. You know I know that. Gawd, do we both know that. You had to forgive yourself for Charlie and you need to forgive Kanan or it will eat at you for the rest of your life. Jack, we can't be happy if we're both angry and hostile at memories and events that we can't change. It's who we are, and, Babe," Daniel closed what little space remained between the two, "I will always be grateful to Kanan, no matter what he did, because without him, you *would* be dead, and so would I. Okay, he went too far, for all the right reasons, but he went too far, but in the end, he did what thousands of Tok'ra have done. He sacrificed himself for you, to keep you alive. You came home to me, Jack, and Kanan didn't have to let you do that. Try, please try, just ... just a little. Don't call it forgiveness, call it ... tolerance, understanding, or compassion. If you can do that, maybe true forgiveness can come later."

"I don't know if I can, Danny, but I'd do anything for you, so I'll try."

"Thank you, but you have to do it for yourself, not for me." It was rare for Daniel to say the next words he was about to say. Normally, he needed to hear them from Jack. It was at the heart of the archaeologist's deepest fears and insecurities, but right now, Jack came first, and Daniel needed his soulmate to hear them. "I love you, Jack. I love you so much that sometimes I think I'll die from how good it makes me feel. I need you. I love you."

"Angel," Jack spoke emotionally. He looked out at the base and took another risk. He had to take it or his body would explode. He reached out and caressed Daniel's face and then he kissed him, though it was necessarily short. "Geez, what you do to me," he said as he leaned his forehead against Daniel's.

The lovers stood, their foreheads touching for almost a minute. Their hearts pounded, not just from the emotion they felt, but from the risk of discovery. They had to pull back and hope no one saw them in this extremely vulnerable moment.

"I love you," Jack declared, his voice warbled from emotion. He added, "I'll work on the forgiving thing."

"I'll help, if you let me."

"Oh, yeah," the older man agreed. "We'd better get back. The Doc should have something to report by now."

Daniel reached out and took Jack's hand. He squeezed it gently as the two gazed into each other's eyes.

"I believe in you, Jack. I don't always agree with you," Daniel teased, "but I believe in you."

Their hands parted and then Jack and Daniel returned to the populated base area and headed for the examination room where Janet was performing the autopsy on Ocker.

====

Janet's autopsy report indicated that Ocker's death was instantaneous. She elaborated that a blade with an exotic design severed the spinal columns of both the host and the symbiote.

Bra'tac promptly asserted the method of death eliminated any Jaffa as the killer since Jaffa always battled their enemies face-to-face. Malek, of course, disagreed, but the debate ended hastily when an alarm sounded.

Reaching the source of the buzzing alert, Jack and the others saw Artok motionless on the floor in his holding cell. He appeared to be dead.

"Great, just great," Jack sighed with an abundance of displeasure. "Open the cell," he ordered a nearby SF. "Doc?"

Janet and Sam entered the cell and kneeled down by the Jaffa's body, which was about a yard back from the cell doors. With his death confirmed, Janet pulled out medical gloves and handed a pair to her friend.

"You always carry those?" an amused Sam queried.

"Since everything went topsy-turvy here, yes," Janet responded. Doing an initial review of Artok's body, the physician observed, "This is different. This was a frontal attack. The only similar thing is that it was done by a bladed weapon."

The physician was unable to ascertain at the moment if the weapon was the same one used to kill Ocker, but she indicated she'd be able to do so after the autopsy.

Jack, Sam, Bra'tac, Teal'c, and Malek continued to speculate on how the murder occurred and who was responsible. Janet was absolutely certain the attack was from the front and could not understand why there were no defensive wounds.

"He'd have to be standing in front of the bars," Jack surmised.

"A Jaffa would never expose himself to such a vulnerable position," Teal'c claimed.

"Unless he knew his killer ... and did not fear him," Malek interjected with accusation in his tone.

"Okay, let's stop it there," Jack suggested strongly with his right hand cutting through the air like a knife. "Let's get this man to the infirmary."

====

After yet another confrontation between the Rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra refugees, Bra'tac discovered a set of footprints going away from the base into the woods. He could not tell if the prints belonged to the Jaffa or the Tok'ra.

"All right, let's do a head count," Jack ordered. "Carter, count the Jaffa. Teal'c, you do the Tok'ra tally. "And no fights; we've had enough of those in the last two days. Keep everyone contained."

"Yes, Sir," Sam responded while Teal'c bowed his head.

"And who will count the Tau'ri?" Malek challenged.

"You," the colonel responded, quickly adding, "And Rak'nor."

"Together?" Malek questioned uncertainly.

"Scared?" Jack challenged.

"I have no fear for any Jaffa," Malek insisted as he looked over at Rak'nor before walking over to him.

Alone with SG-1's leader, Daniel put forth, "Jack, there has to be someone else here, someone we don't know about."

"Then how is this mystery person walking all over the base without being seen? Artok was killed in his cell, Daniel, with the doors locked. Explain that."

"I can't, but if the Tok'ra didn't do this, and the Jaffa didn't do this, and none of us did it, who did?"

"That's the million-dollar question, isn't it?" Jack sighed.

"Jack?"

"Daniel?"

"Maybe it's not a who."

Staring incredulously at his lover's eyes, Jack returned, "You think it's a what?"

"In our years of Stargate travel, we've encountered quite a few ... whats."

"Why'd you put that in my head?"

The younger man shrugged and Jack turned and shook his head while whining, "Whats. All we need are whats. I have enough trouble with all the whos on this planet." Hearing a chuckle, he turned and asked, "What?"

"Maybe it's a hidden who."

"Daniel, now you're acting loopy."

With a smile, Daniel replied, "Just looking at all the possibilities, just like you are, whether or not you say it out loud."

"You know me so well."

"I hope so."

"Come on. Let's wait over there," Jack suggested as he headed for an area across the way from his current position.

====

"All the Jaffa are accounted for," Sam reported to her CO, who was seated on a barrel by one of the buildings with his P-90 at rest.

Less than a minute later, Teal'c joined up with his teammates and stated, "O'Neill, all Tok'ra are here."

Jack nodded, not saying anything until Malek and Rak'nor returned and advised that the complete roster of Tau'ri were present on the Alpha Site.

"Teal'c, find Bra'tac and Jacob and bring them here."

With a nod, Teal'c went in search of the two leaders.

"You have a plan, Sir?" Sam questioned.

"Workin' on it," Jack acknowledged.

====

After a discussion, Jack made his decision and ordered all security personnel except for a minimum complement to guard the Stargate to gather on a hill. The Tok'ra and Rebel Jaffa were also present. Bra'tac and Jacob stood at Jack's side, an intentional move designed to express a united front.

"All right, listen up, folks. The good news is, we can stop pointing fingers at each other. Everyone's been accounted for. However, that does mean that someone or, dare I say it, some thing is still floatin' around, tryin' to do us in."

"We will search in groups of three, a Tok'ra, Jaffa, and Tau'ri in each," Bra'tac told the group.

Jack continued, "This thing was trying to turn us against each other. The fact that we're onto him makes him more dangerous. Keep that in mind. Let's move out."

The group headed for the woods, forming their groups of three as they moved forward.

The colonel glanced over at his archaeologist, wishing they could be together for the dangerous search, but knowing that was impossible. Soon, Daniel was headed northwest while Jack went southwest with his group.

As the search progressed, Teal'c's group located three dead bodies, one from each race, each apparently killed separately and then dragged to the discovery point which was east of the creek, near the base of the north cliff.

Jack was shaken inside. He hated losing anyone under his watch, and this all seemed so senseless. He put his emotions in check and was about to head in that direction when he heard a twig snap and saw branches moving in the distance.

After ordering Sam over the radio to meet up with Teal'c and secure the site where the bodies were found, Jack signaled for Bra'tac and Malek to go around to the left of the moving bush while he went to the right, thus separating him from his two search mates.

Out of the colonel's sight, Bra'tac realized an attack was oncoming. He shoved Malek out of the way and began to take blows from an enemy he couldn't see. He fired his staff weapon several times in a futile attempt to kill the invisible foe.

Malek recovered from the shove that took him to the ground and pulled out his zat. He aimed his weapon towards Bra'tac, but with no enemy to see, he didn't know for sure where or when to fire. He watched as Bra'tac was beaten and ultimately pulled deeper into the forest and out of view. Frightened and confused, Malek ran back towards the base camp. He kept running until Jack, who circled around after hearing the staff weapon blast, stopped him.

"Where's Bra'tac?" the colonel questioned.

"He is dead," Malek answered, insisting he had no choice but to leave the master Jaffa and get help.

"Carter, you and Teal'c stay put. Daniel, bring your team to Teal'c's location. We have a situation."

====

"Jack, what's happening?" Daniel asked as he ran through the last few feet of forest to where his colonel was standing.

"Bra'tac's dead," Jack said solemnly. "Tell them," he ordered Malek.

As soon as Malek began to explain, Teal'c pounced on him and began to choke the Tok'ra. The Jaffa wanted swift revenge for the death of his mentor.

"Tell me why I should not kill you here, Tok'ra," the irate Teal'c asked.

It was difficult for Malek to speak, but he managed to reply, "He was swept away. There was nothing I could have done."

Unaccepting of that answer, Teal'c spat, "You could have pursued him! Master Bra'tac could have been saved."

Still struggling for air, Malek claimed, "I believed it more important to report what I saw."

Standing on Jack's left, Daniel quietly but firmly insisted, "Jack, you have to stop this."

"How can we ever trust the Tok'ra if they would abandon a Jaffa in the midst of a battle?" Rak'nor challenged.

"If I had not, I would be dead," Malek eked out.

"Jack, a little help," Jacob requested on behalf of his fellow Tok'ra.

Unconvinced, Jack ordered in a lackluster tone, "Teal'c. Stop."

Jacob stared at Jack with displeasure before he approached the former First Prime and pleaded, "Teal'c, don't do this. Bra'tac would want us to stick together."

More sternly, Daniel told his soulmate, "Jack, this is a wrong thing for all the wrong reasons."

Daniel's words reminded Jack of their earlier discussion which was exactly what the linguist intended. He needed to rein in his feelings about the Tok'ra, something he promised his Heart he'd try to do.

"He's right, Teal'c," Jack stated, his words now spoken with conviction. "Let him go."

Teal'c looked at Jack and after a few seconds released Malek from his death grip.

At that point, Malek revealed more details about what happened, admitting, "Bra'tac pushed me out of the way just before the attack. Somehow, he knew whoever it was had a personal cloaking device. He was invisible."

"Invisible?" Rak'nor queried, while at the same time Jacob helped Malek off the ground.

There was some discussion that Nirrti could be responsible for the deaths and mayhem since she possessed stealth technology, but Jacob doubted she would be in an alliance with Anubis. The group focused on the invisibility factor and then Malek asked Sam if she had a way to generate a high-frequency electromagnetic field.

"I could modify the wave output of the naquadah reactor," Sam answered, curious where the Tok'ra was headed with his train of thought.

"Within a range of four-hundred to seven-hundred nanometers?"

Suddenly aware of the potential of what was being discussed, Sam brightly put forth, "That might just excite the phase particles enough to bring them into our visible light spectrum."

Feeling an emotional headache coming on, Jack called out, "Carter?"

"Sir, the invisibility field must operate ..."

"Are you about to tell me that you can make the invisible guy vis...?"

"Yes, Sir."

Echoing what he'd said when the Tok'ra arrived with the zatarc device, Jack responded, "That's all I need."

"If you can see it, you can shoot it," Jacob suggested.

"Right," Jack affirmed.

Jack was a little surprised when Malek offered to assist Sam, which reminded him again of his promise to Daniel. Not trusting took a lot of effort, but trusting the Tok'ra took even more for Jack.

"Let's move out," the colonel ordered, leading the three teams towards the base camp. As he walked, he clicked on the radio. "This is O'Neill. All teams return to base. We have a new plan."

Jack glanced back at one point during the trek and noticed Teal'c glaring at Malek, still blaming him for Bra'tac's death. He decided not to let time idle by and to keep everyone moving. The last thing he wanted was for more friction to break out, and he feared Bra'tac's death would insight the Rebel Jaffa to seek revenge. He certainly knew Teal'c was capable of going after Malek at any point.

~It's that Jaffa revenge thing.~ Jack noted Daniel dropped back to walk alongside Teal'c. ~Good luck, Danny.~

The archaeologist approached his teammate, hoping to help ease the tension.

"Teal'c, I know how you feel about Bra'tac ..." Daniel began.

"You do not, DanielJackson. I *will* get revenge for Master Bra'tac, but I will make sure only he suffers."

Teal'c quickened his pace, leaving Daniel behind, except he wasn't really alone. Jack slipped back, too, and heard the entire exchange, brief as it was.

"That went well," Jack observed, his positive really a negative.

"It's that Jaffa revenge thing," Daniel sighed.

"Ya think?"

The lovers relaxed for the smallest of moments as they shared the humor of their words, though the memories of Teal'c seeking revenge were vivid in their minds. Too often, their teammate's need to get justice resulted in Jack's life being put in peril.

"Daniel, you were right, again."

"I was? About?"

"Who or what, it's invisible, and it's not one of us or our visitors," Jack responded.

"I was thinking."

"Always dangerous," Jack teased as the couple continued walking, actually passing Jacob and Malek along the way. ~I think I'm glad Teal'c has moved up behind Carter, ahead of the Tok'ra.~ He glanced at his lover to encourage him to share his ideas. "Tell me."

"Remember when Sam was the host to Jolinar?"

"Like I could forget."

"It was an Ashrak, the Goa'uld's highest ranking assassin."

"He used that ring thing to kill Jolinar. Doc said Ocker's and Artok's killer used an exotic knife."

"Harakash."

"Harry Who?"

"Harakash: that's what the ... ring thing is called."

Jack simply nodded a couple of times in acknowledgement.

"Anyway, we know Anubis was responsible for the destruction of the Tok'ra base, but Anubis himself wasn't there. We also know that someone had to come through the Stargate with the Tok'ra survivors. There's no other way for that to happen, Jack, not with the security we have in place for the Alpha Site."

"Danny, whoever, whatever this is, is invisible. We saw the Ashrak."

"I know."

"What do you think he did, buy a cloak?"

Daniel stopped walking for a second and reached out to grab Jack's arm, preventing him for taking another step.

"What if he did? If Nirrti can be invisible, why can't an Ashrak? Jack, we did it, too, once, in a way, remember?"

Jack thought for a moment and recalled how upgraded armbands given to the two men as well as Sam allowed them to go at such speeds that they appeared to be invisible, even though they really weren't.

As the men started forward again, Jack surmised, "So an Ashrak somehow cloaks himself. The Tok'ra never had a chance because they couldn't see him."

"And it's why no one saw him come through the Stargate. He could have walked right in front of you, and you never would have known," Daniel put forward.

"Maybe," Jack replied. "We need to pick up the pace," he said.

"Worried?"

"Ashrak or something else, he, she, it ... is out for blood, our blood."

Jack and Daniel increased the speed of their walking until they took over point from Sam. All the way, the considered Daniel's theory about an Ashrak being hired by Anubis to wipe out the Risa base.

"We'd be the icing on the cake."

"What?" a confused Daniel inquired.

"How much you wanna bet that if that Ashtray ..."

"Ashrak."

"... if he reported back to Anubis that in addition to wiping out the Tok'ra based, he'd eliminated our top secret base, too, that he'd be in for a heckuva bonus?"

"Probably," Daniel agreed. "Especially if ..."

"Yeah. SG-1 might fetch him a pretty penny."

"Personally, I'd rather he'd not get a bonus."

"I'd rather he not get us."

"Me, too," Daniel agreed.

====

With Jack in the lead, the group entered the center of the base.

Right away, Sam advised, "We need to bring the reactor out in the open."

Still walking, Jack permitted, "Do it. I want everybody else guarding the Gate." He continued onward a few steps before stopping. As he looked forward, he addressed Stargate personnel, the Rebel Jaffa, and the Tok'ra refugees. "All right, listen up! Our enemy has a device that can render himself, or herself, invisible. He or she may have come through the Gate with the wounded Tok'ra."

Jacob continued, "Whatever it is, it tried to play us against each other, and that's not gonna work anymore because now we know it is among us."

Jack looked over at Teal'c and gave him a nod, hoping his brother-in-arms would deliver an impactful remark to motivate the Rebel Jaffa to cooperate with the Tau'ri and Tok'ra alike.

After nodding his assent, Teal'c picked up the gauntlet and stated, "Bra'tac is gone. His death will have been in vain unless we trust each other and work together to defeat this enemy."

It was the first most of the Rebel Jaffa had heard of Bra'tac's death. Whispers and wary looks were visible among the group.

"All right. Be ready," Jack called out. "Everyone by the Stargate."

Purposefully, Rebel Jaffa took positions in front of the Gate, many holding their staff weapons. Tok'ra were interspersed, some with zats and others only with their hands as weapons. In front of the Gate were all of SG-15 and other Alpha Site security team members.

As Jack looked out over the assembled men and women, he saw for the very first time a united front. The unsteady allegiance between races was, for the moment, strong.

Forcefully, Jack concluded, "Do what you have to do, but that S.O.B. does not get through that Gate."

Major Pierce acknowledged the command and proceeded to assign individuals to take places at designated spots.

Meanwhile, Teal'c opined, "If this creature is allowed to leave, this base will have to be abandoned."

"Yeah, I know."

"We'll have to make sure that doesn't happen," Daniel stated. "I'm confident we can do that."

"Me, too," Jack added.

"As am I," Teal'c returned.

There was silence among the teammates until they heard the sound of a remote-controlled vehicle approaching. The naquadah reactor was atop it.

"Any idea what they're doing?" Jack asked as he referred to Sam, Malek, Jacob, and others, all of whom appeared to be working on the technology that would make the unseen enemy visible.

"Me?" Daniel asked. "I have no idea."

With an audible sigh, Jack suggested, "Let's check in with Fraiser. Maybe she can verify how Artok was killed."

Teal'c accompanied Jack and Daniel to the infirmary where they located Janet in what was now essentially a morgue.

"Doc? Let's have it," Jack requested.

"It checks out," Janet began. "The same bladed weapon killed both of them; probably the others, too: a single thrust, up through the symbiote, continuing up, piercing the Jaffa's heart. He was dead before he hit the ground."

"Nirrti's been working out," Jack commented, glancing at Daniel and giving him a bit of a blink.

"Not Nirrti, an Ashrak," Teal'c stated strongly.

Again, Jack glanced at Daniel. Though they'd discussed the possibility that it was an Ashrak behind the tragedies, part of him wanted it to be Nirtti, only so she could be captured and disposed of for once and for all.

"A highly trained Goa'uld assassin of great strength and power, most likely in the service of Anubis," Teal'c defined, unaware Jack's recall of the assassin was already brought to the forefront of his mind by Daniel.

Janet interjected, "Wasn't it an Ashrak who was able to penetrate SGC security and try to kill Major Carter?"

"Indeed. The Ashrak succeeded in killing Jolinar, to whom MajorCarter was host."

"Teal'c, the Ashrak who tried to kill Sam wasn't invisible, but ..." Daniel began.

Cutting off Daniel's words, Teal'c reported, "While in the service of Apophis, many Jaffa were killed in the manner DoctorFraiser has described while working in the naquadah mines of Kawawn. Apophis ordered the mines sealed, and when the tunnels were opened days later, only a single Ashrak was found. Only one had killed so many."

"Well, if he's that powerful, why didn't he just go on a killing spree?" Janet asked.

"Divide and conquer," Jack answered succinctly.

"We've made it easy for him, or her," Daniel noted.

"Someone very wise told me recently that cultural change can take centuries," Jack responded quietly. "That may be true, but right now, we're fighting as one, and that's what counts." He smiled at Janet and said, "Thanks, Doc. You might want to keep that rifle of yours handy, just in case."

====

Back outside, Jack surveyed the area where Tau'ri, Jaffa, and Tok'ra were all around, anxiously waiting for Sam to finish her work with the reactor. Even with the large numbers, it was quiet, disturbingly so. The colonel made a panoramic sweep of the entire area, searching for the unseen foe. He felt odd, but then he had from the moment the Tok'ra refugees stumbled through the Stargate. He worked to decipher his feelings, his specialized training helping him to interpret both what he saw and what he didn't see.

"He's here," Jack spoke in a whisper, sensing the presence of something evil. "Daniel, be careful."

"You, too," Daniel returned, pulling out his zat weapon.

There was little conversation. Those on the Alpha Site were close to battle and the warriors could sense the time was near. Minutes passed causing those outside to become even more anxious.

"I wish that Bra'tac were here," Rak'nor spoke, breaking the silence as he stood behind Jack and next to Teal'c.

"Yeah, I know," Jack replied. "Carter? Are you there yet?" he asked. ~We need to get this show moving.~

"Almost, Sir. The reactor wasn't designed for a sustained output at this frequency range."

~Whatever,~ Jack thought to himself. ~We don't have time. Where is he?~

All of a sudden, Jack's internal query was answered when Pierce fell to ground. Seconds later, a Tok'ra was pushed aside. Right after that, a couple of Rebel Jaffa were hit. From that point on, various personnel were shoved, hit, and tossed as the enemy progressed towards the Stargate. No one knew where to aim their weapons. One Jaffa dared to fire and accidentally hit one of the Tok'ra, injuring him severely.

The invisible enemy changed directions, hitting Teal'c as he fled. With no one in the line of fire, Jack, Sam, and Daniel all fired their weapons until the attack stopped.

Sensing the enemy was gone for the moment, Jack called out, "Medics, we've got wounded out here. Go to work!" Immediately after, he called out, "Daniel?"

"I'm fine," came the breathy response from Jack's left.

Turning in the other direction, Jack pointed at Teal'c and asked, "You okay?"

Teal'c nodded his response.

At that point, Pierce ran over to Jack and apologized because during the fight, the invisible foe took his GDO. Though Pierce wanted to give chase, Jack ordered him to reestablish a perimeter around the Gate and make sure those with weapons had a clear line of fire. Right after that, Malek strongly suggested everyone leave the base before another attack commenced.

"It took a GDO. No one's goin' anywhere," Jack insisted.

"Colonel, you saw what he was capable of," Malek argued.

"Yes, I did. That's why I want all available personnel guarding that Gate. That includes Tok'ra and Jaffa."

"Colonel ..."

Angrily, Jack ordered, "Go help Carter!"

"Jack," Daniel called out quietly.

"What?" Jack shouted at his lover. He let out a wisp of air and sighed. "I'm sorry, but, Daniel, now's not the time. I have a job to do and until it gets done, no one is leaving this planet."

"I don't have a problem with that."

"Malek does."

"Malek's wrong," Daniel opined.

"Look, he's just a guy with a snake. I get it. He associates the Jaffa with death. Okay, I understand that, too, but he has a streak in him, Daniel. He shouldn't be in the field and if we all survive this and if Jacob is smart, he'll see to it that Malek stays in a nice, safe Tok'ra tunnel somewhere. I might even contact Garshaw and make the recommendation in person. Care to come with?"

"No."

Jack stared at Daniel in silence until he finally turned and called out, "Carter, what's happening with this doohickey of yours?"

Daniel watched Jack walk away. He knew it was the situation that was making everything so difficult. He agreed Malek might be a little skittish, but he didn't like branding him with a label, especially the one he knew Jack had in mind. Even so, SG-1 tended to survive because no matter what, the four teammates had one another's back. There was never a question of that. It was their strength which was all the more reason why Jack had a hard time dealing with anyone who wasn't willing to fight for their team or for what was right.

====

Most of the Tau'ri, Rebel Jaffa, and Tok'ra refugees were still outside, either guarding the Gate or assisting Sam and Malek with their work on which their lives were essentially dependant upon.

"If we all perish, there'll be no one left to carry on the fight," Malek stated unexpectedly.

In response, Rak'nor pledged, "The Jaffa will fight side-by-side with the Tok'ra, and, if need be, die side-by-side."

Jack glanced at his lover for a moment, sharing a sense of satisfaction that, at least for the moment, the shared allegiance to defeating their enemy was firm.

"Sam and Malek are working well together," Daniel observed after Jack walked over to him.

"Yeah. She's always had a good relationship with the Tok'ra."

"You're thinking about Martouf."

"She was hot for him, even if she never admitted it out loud," Jack commented.

"She admitted it, Jack," Daniel replied, earning another look from the silver-haired man.

Jack nodded, not surprised to learn Daniel and Sam discussed her feelings at some point.

"So," Daniel said calmly. "The Ashrak isn't going to be happy when he realizes we're making him visible."

"That's affirm."

"You're agreeing it's an Ashrak now," Daniel asked with wide eyes.

"Danny, you know me. I just wanted to hear Teal'c's argument for that ... thing actually being an Ashcan."

"Ashrak, and I guess I knew, but you pushed it."

"Sorry."

"It's okay." After a few seconds elapsed, "Jack, I'm serious. The Ashrak is very powerful. He's an expert, and he's going to go after you hard."

"He'll go for anyone who's close."

"No, and we both know that. He's already angry because he couldn't get through the Stargate. He's been watching, so he knows you're the leader, and even if he only gets you, it'll add to his legend with the Goa'uld. He'll like that."

"You're worrying too much."

"Maybe, but you know why, so ... be careful."

"That's a promise, and you'd better do the same." Jack gave Daniel a confident smile and then began to walk around a bit. He wanted to make sure he was focused and ready for the fight. He'd made light of it with Daniel, but he was also certain that if it were possible, the Ashrak would come for him. ~So, I'll get you first,~ Jack determined, looking over at the machine gun he'd brought out from the armory and placed near the MALP a few minutes earlier.

A couple of minutes later, the equipment was at the proper levels and, with her CO's permission, Sam powered up the reactor halfway.

"Oooh! Anybody else feel that?" Jack asked lightly. ~This is good. Where's Daniel?~ he questioned with a covert look to his left.

Sam explained, "The tingling sensation is caused by the energy field. It's not causing any physical damage, so there's nothing to worry about, Sir."

"No, I like it. It's good," Jack responded. He caught a glimpse of Daniel as he stood a few yards away. ~I wonder if Carter can bottle that tingling. We could put it to get use.~ After a moment, he called out for his lover. Once Daniel approached, he inquired in a quiet voice, "What did you think of that?"

"It was ... good," Daniel opined with equal softness. "I'll talk to Sam later."

"Don't forget," Jack urged in a whisper.

It was back to business when Malek stated, "The power setting may not counteract the cloaking device, but increasing it will substantially reduce our ability to sustain the field."

"Crank it up," Jack ordered.

After Sam powered up the reactor to full, the Ashrak became visible. He was positioned at the MALP and immediately hit Sam, knocking her to the ground. Then, with a single, effortless blow, he repelled Jack backward, his cap flying off his head as his body flew through the air.

Daniel looked back at Jack to make sure he was unharmed. As he refocused on what was in front of him, he saw Malek tossed several yards into a stack of crates that fell and pulled out the wires that were being used to power the reactor. In a mere second, the reactor shut off and the Ashrak became invisible again. Daniel opened fire and was soon joined by Jack, who had returned to his feet and taken a position two feet to Daniel's left.

Firepower went silent as most everyone looked around for any sign of their common enemy. Then Jack verified with Sam that the equipment was still working.

Pierce called out to the guards at the Stargate, "Watch those gaps!"

Tension filled the air with the warriors from all three races keeping a sharp eye out. Weapons remained drawn and Jack reloaded his P-90. He became more determined to not allow anyone else to be harmed.

~Don't count on adding me or anyone else here to your tally,~ Jack warned silently.

A moment later, Teal'c sensed the evil presence and called out to Rak'nor, much as Bra'tac did with Malek while in the woods earlier in the day. The Ashrak caused both Jaffa to fall to the ground. Right away, Jack opened fire while Daniel waited, unsure where to release his shots.

~That's it.~ Jack decided it was time to up the ante. He put down his P-90 and picked up the large machine gun. "Everybody down!"

With everyone lying on the ground, Jack opened fire and kept firing. He made a full turn, shot after shot ramming into the air.

~Where is that thing?~ the colonel wondered, uncertain whether or not any of his shots reached their target.

With the silence, Sam reached over and powered up the reactor again, prompting everyone to rise up onto their feet. In seconds, the Ashrak was visible. Not a surprise to Jack or Daniel, the Ashrak quickly focused on the SG-1 leader.

~I don't think so,~ the colonel vowed. Daniel's warning of the Ashrak wanting to kill him was proved when the enemy charged after him. In an instant, Jack opted to reach for his knife. ~Maybe not my best decision,~ he thought as his foe headed right for him.

Jack became aware of someone else. It was Malek, suddenly unarmed, but nevertheless willing to fight at his side. It was going to be a brutal battle, except that just as the colonel expected the hand-to-hand combat to begin, a blast rang out, causing the Ashrak to pause. There was more firing and then the Ashrak fell to the ground. His personal cloak completely terminated with his death, revealing the Ashrak's lifeless body.

Another shocking reality was revealed after the enemy hit the ground.

~Bra'tac?~

The group was stunned to realize the Ashrak was killed by the very-much-alive Master Bra'tac. Rak'nor and Teal'c ran to him immediately.

Jack walked forward a few steps before he clicked his radio and advised, "Pierce, stand down. We got him."

"Yes, Sir."

Sam reached down and removed the GDO from the Ashrak's arm and handed it to Jack.

"Bra'tac, you're not dead," Jack remarked, still somewhat in shock at seeing the man standing before him.

The Master Jaffa gave one of his patented laughs of dismissal and returned, "You are one of keen observers, O'Neill."

Jack nodded and looked to his left, where he knew Daniel was standing. He did a once over just to ensure his archaeologist was free from injury, which he was.

Daniel's eyes met Jack's and both shared the unspoken agreement that Daniel was right again and the Ashrak wanted to take Jack out, even if the colonel would be his only kill. Their eyes softened as they shared another accord, one that said they were in love, save, and ready to go home.

"Get Fraiser," Jack shouted as he watched Teal'c and Rak'nor support Bra'tac, who was struggling not to collapse. He walked a few steps and looked around, noting that few of the combined forces had moved. "It's over," he called out. "Back to work, or whatever it is you all need to do. Go! Scat!"

"They aren't cats," Daniel mused.

"Is that a happy ending?" Jack wondered aloud.

"Bra'tac's alive, the Ashrak is dead, and we're all still able to fight for our freedom. Yeah, I'd call it a happy ending."

Jack drew a huge breath and remarked, "I agree, but ..."

"What?"

"Somehow, I'm not sure the dead Tok'ra would agree, or the dead Jaffa, or Captain Grier," referring to the man who was killed with his search team in the woods by the Ashrak.

The lovers stared at each other for a few seconds before Jack turned and surveyed the aftermath of the attack.

====

As things settled, Janet, her red portable medical bag hanging from her right shoulder, tended to Bra'tac.

"You're very lucky to be alive," Janet told the Jaffa.

"Indeed," Bra'tac agreed. "This Ashrak left me for dead. I was unable to move and do not know how long I was unconscious. My symbiote sustained me, and I returned as soon as I could."

"Not bad," Jack praised.

Several yards across from Janet and Bra'tac, Malek spoke, "I owe you my life, twice over. I only hope that one day I am given the chance to repay that debt. Forgive me."

Malek extended his arm and after a moment's thought, Bra'tac stood and took Malek's arm while giving him his. Malek returned to stand by Jacob, while Bra'tac walked forward, leaned down, and picked up the Ashrak's exotically shaped knife. He held it in his hand as he spoke inspirationally to the crowd.

"This single blade did what we could not. It has brought us together. This blade has spilled the blood of Jaffa, of the Tok'ra, and of the Tauri. By the hand of our common enemy, it has made us brothers. Together, we have ensured it will never spill our blood again."

Dramatically, Bra'tac threw the knife, tip first, into the sand.

Jack watched, hoping the peace would last, but fearing it wouldn't. He looked at Daniel. Daniel was his hope, his eternal hope for everything. The colonel took a deep breath. He was tired, emotionally spent. All he wanted now was to go home and rest in the arms of his beloved.

====

"The Ashrak is dead, General. Doctor Fraiser is still caring for the wounded in the infirmary. We suffered some casualties, Jaffa, Tok'ra, and us, including Captain Grier."

"Grier?"

"He was part of the team killed by the Ashrak during the search in the woods. He was slaughtered, General. He never had a chance."

"I'll notify his family," Hammond sighed, finding death notifications to be one of the hardest parts of the job.

"Otherwise, General, things are calm here now. We're just one big happy family," Jack sing-songed.

"I'm sure you are, Colonel." Hammond paused before continuing, "Jack, at 1900 hours SG-5 will relieve SG-1. I'm also sending SG-10 to assist in case the family sours."

"Good idea, General."

"I want your team, SG-15, and Doctor Fraiser to return to Earth at 1930. Doctor Warner will be assigned to the Alpha Site indefinitely, but we need Doctor Fraiser here."

"Understood."

"I realize it's been a trying couple of days."

"You can say that again," Jack sighed.

Jack and Hammond continued to talk for a few more minutes with Hammond providing his second with a tentative schedule that included the time of their debriefing and when he expected reports to be submitted. The general wanted to give the personnel the weekend off, but there were too many dead and injured for that luxury. The attack in the Risa System needed to promptly documented as did the tragedy at the Alpha Site.

"Well done, SG-1," Hammond concluded.

"Thank you, Sir. O'Neill out."

====

The sky was dark and the night chilly, not even forty degrees outside. Jack was the first to arrive home and pulled into the driveway. He got out of his Ford truck and opted to wait for his lover, who he was certain would arrive within a couple of minutes. He put his hands in his pockets and let out a 'brrr' from the night wind that whipped by at an eye-opening twenty-nine miles per hour. He was grateful when lights in the distance grew larger and he confirmed the headlights belonged to the sporty silver car his soulmate owned.

"Jack, why are you standing out here?" Daniel asked when he disembarked his car and hit the alarm to secure it for the night.

"Waiting for you," Jack answered, getting a quick kiss from Daniel before heading for the front door.

"Sometimes you worry me," Daniel teased, though he felt good that Jack loved him so much as to wait out in the windy gust for him. ~It's a little thing, but gawd, I love those little things.~

Inside the home, Jack asked, "Wanna beer?"

"No."

"Good. I'll get you one."

Daniel bowed his head, but smiled. His life partner loved beer, but he didn't. Still, he'd spent many a night getting drunk with Jack as they pushed whatever crisis was at their feet somewhere deep inside their minds to hopefully never be recalled again. He was sure that wasn't what tonight's beer, or beers, would be about. Still, he recognized that Jack was more affected by the events on the Alpha Site than normal. It was complicated and something deep within the older man. It was the murders, the memories of Kanan, the shaky alliance between three races with the same basic goal, and, perhaps Daniel thought, memories of Charlie, Jack's son who accidentally killed himself with Jack's gun. The death led to Jack's divorce from Sara. She forgave him, but couldn't forget, and he could sometimes forget, but could never forgive himself for the boy's death. It was a myriad of things which Daniel believed all tugged at the colonel's soul.

"Thanks," Daniel said, accepting the beer and immediately taking a couple of sips.

Jack did the same as the two stood in the living room, facing each other.

"Hey, you'd be proud of me."

"I'm always proud of you, but why, pray tell, am I extra proud of you?" Jack questioned.

"I, uh, well, I ... pranked Lieutenant Foster."

"Lou's new guy?" Jack turned his head slightly as his eyes lit up in curiosity. "How?"

"He was helping to place boxes on the MALP and he made a little comment about ..."

"... toys?" Jack put forth with delight as he easily understood how Foster might not be as respectful as he should be when it came to archaeological findings and equipment.

"Not exactly, but it was indicative that he didn't really believe the items needed to be handled with care."

"Ah!" Loving what he knew so far, Jack prompted, "What'd you do?"

"I suggested the boxes contained something he might not like."

"You scared him."

"Something like that."

"You're right, Angel. I'm proud of you."

"It was your influence."

"Ya missed me!"

Daniel smiled and then chuckled before leaning in for a kiss and affirming, "Gawd, I never thought I could be bored ... playing with my toys."

Jack laughed and pulled Daniel in for a deeper kiss. It was a lighthearted, fun couple of minutes as they discussed the youthful and inexperienced lieutenant.

"I should feel worse about misleading Lieutenant Foster, but he needs to respect other worlds and other cultures. Jack, we've talked about this. The more military SG teams usually don't take the care they should with relics and whatever are found at ruins or temples or anywhere we explore. What I do, what my department does is as important as protecting people and their worlds. Actually, we're all protecting people. We, my department, just protect the dead ones, too. It's their heritage and their culture and they deserve to be remembered. It's irritating when SG teams treat what they find like ..."

"... toys," the colonel completed, only this time his tone was more serious. "But not all teams are like that."

"No, not all, and SG-2 did a great job of preserving the items they saw and taking pictures for my department. Their documentation and preservation of some of the key items they recognized most likely shortened the length of time we needed to be on P36-231 by at least a day."

"I'll pass on your compliments."

"I already did," Daniel responded.

The humor and conversation subsided as both Jack and Daniel took more sips of their beer. Yet, neither moved. They were still standing in the same place. It was as if they knew they had important, more internal items to discuss, but they weren't quite ready. They had to steady themselves and just breathe, enjoying the air that filled the country-like home both loved so dearly. Calm flowed through their bodies until it was time to deal with subjects more pressing to their souls.

"Come here, Jack," Daniel bade, taking Jack's hand and leading him to the sofa.

The two sat down, their bodies inward as they took time to soak in the moment. Both had more sips of their bottled beers before Daniel put his down on the coffee table. He reached out with his hands and cupped Jack's face. Their eyes focused on each other. Nothing else existed. Daniel leaned in for a gentle touching of their lips and then he pulled back by mere inches.

His fingers dabbling lightly on Jack's somewhat stubbled face, Daniel spoke, "As someone I'm very close to often says to me, tell me."

Jack swallowed hard at the invitation to speak, not that he needed the invite. The lovers spoke hidden and secret truths to each other all the time.

"I don't know what it is, Danny. From the time the Tok'ra came through the Gate, I felt uneasy. The Jaffa began arguing with them almost instantly, and the blasted Tok'ra with their secrets never helped to make it better. Playing peacemaker all the time took everything I had, and that everything was you, thinking how you'd handle it or just hearing you in my mind, nudging me to behave."

Daniel's hands slid down to take Jack's, though he had to stumble over the beer, finally coaxing it out of his lover's hand and putting it on the table next to his own beer before reclaiming the strong hands that could make him quiver in an instant.

"I'm glad I could help, even when I'm not there."

"You are there, because you're always in my heart."

The conversation was almost derailed by three loving unions of their lips, lips that felt completed by the other's.

"Babe, this is important," Daniel insisted even before kissing Jack one more time. "What were you feeling at the Alpha Site?"

"I'm not sure," Jack sighed. "The Tok'ra funeral got to me. 'We do not surrender, even in death.'" Seeing his lover didn't understand, Jack explained, "Someone said that at the funeral. I don't even know why I remember that."

Daniel sensed there was confusion in Jack's mind over all that happened on the planet, and he suspected much of it was due to Kanan, a symbiote implanted in Jack a few months earlier in order to save Jack's life.

"Jack, it's only been a few months since you were blen..."

"Don't say it," Jack pleaded. "I don't want to think about that."

"He's part of you, Jack, just like Jolinar is part of Sam. It doesn't matter how much time passes, the experience ... happened and you can't act like it didn't."

"I can try."

With a sigh, Daniel replied, "Okay. I know that you don't like the whole host/symbiote relationship. You understand it happens, but it's something you can't deal with for yourself."

"I didn't have control. Geez, Danny, he stole my life. All that crap talk about sharing of minds," Jack visibly snarled, "it didn't happen for me."

"I know," Daniel responded, his grip on his Love's hands stronger and yet tender. He drew Jack close, releasing his hands and then holding him tight, his hands rubbing Jack's back. "I know," he repeated. "On the Alpha Site, the trouble started when the Tok'ra arrived and that probably triggered residual feelings about what Kanan did to you."

Jack turned, sliding down a bit on the sofa and letting his head rest against his lover's chest and Daniel responded by pressing his cheek against Jack's silver-gray hair as his arms wrapped around Jack's body, holding him in a secure, loving hold.

"Everywhere I looked, I saw conflict, and I blamed the Tok'ra. Jacob's right, I don't like them, except for Jacob, sometimes, and Garshaw. Now she's a straight shooter, but ..."

"You don't really trust her, either."

"Danny, there's a difference between covert because you're on a mission that somehow keeps your country safe and keeping secrets because you're just plain smug, and the Tok'ra are just plain smug. Under the guise of fighting the Goa'uld, they lord their ways over everyone they meet, and they wear the death of their fallen like an armor. There's something wrong with that."

Daniel listened as he placed a kiss atop Jack's head and caressed his abdomen.

"I guess they're just being themselves. That's what you're always saying about the races we meet in the universe, they are who they are and we shouldn't interfere."

"Most of the time," Daniel responded with a smile, knowing he had personally insisted SG-1 intervene in the activities of various civilizations over the years.

"Sorry," Jack said.

"Sorry? Why?"

"I got you mixed up with Starfleet's Prime Directive. Kirk and Picard dealt with non-interference thing. You, Angel, have always been a sucker for a damsel in distress."

"I believe we should help anyone who asks for it."

"Of course," Jack replied. He took a breath and said, "Danny, I don't know that I'll over get over this Kanan crap. I don't know why it all came back at the Alpha Site, but it did."

"Maybe it was being so close to the Tok'ra, so many of them, for the first time since you experienced what you did."

"Yeah," Jack agreed as he considered the option. "And ..."

"What?" Daniel prodded.

"That whole forgive/forget or forget/forgive thing; Easter: I've been thinking about Charlie a lot lately."

"I thought maybe you had."

"Easter was a big deal for us. Charlie never got too old for a good egg hunt, as long as we upped the challenge every year. I managed not to think about it much when we were involved in that whole Ginsu mess ..."

"Khonsu," Daniel corrected as he referred to the Tok'ra spy who was killed by a Jaffa loyal to Anubis during SG-1's last mission.

"Whatever. The last couple of days, I should have been able to shut it out, but I couldn't. I don't know why I got so messed up."

"Forgive and forget," Daniel sighed. "Jack, working so close with the Tok'ra stirred up the events with Kanan and I think they became mixed up with your memories of Charlie, the ..."

"... forgive and forget ..." both men spoke at the same time.

Daniel continued, "... thing causing you to remember and, well, you still need to process your feelings."

"I guess it all got jumbled up," Jack admitted. "Did I mention you helped me without being there?"

"Did I?"

"Daniel, I am *not* a diplomat and even with my brain working overtime, I managed not to kill any of the Tok'ra or the Jaffa, but ya gotta know, it wasn't easy."

Daniel let out a small laugh and replied, "I'm proud of you. Sam told me about a couple of those times."

"I reeled myself in, like a big fish. Every time I was about to blow, I could hear you. 'Jack.' It's the way you say my name when you're chastising me."

"I don't chastise you. Do I?"

"We both do it."

"You're right."

"Hey, it happens," Jack mused, gently breaking free of Daniel's hold and sitting up straighter. He understood more about his emotions now and he felt strengthened. "How'd you convince Hammond to let you go through the Gate?"

"I asked him."

"That's it?"

"I think we have a history and he knew I'd find a way, so he saved us both a lot of time and energy by letting me go."

"I'll have to try that some time," Jack mused, certain he would never get away with something so simple. ~Hammond has a soft spot for Danny. Smart man.~

"Good luck."

"Danny?"

"Yes."

"I was thinking ..."

"I already said yes."

"Oh, you meant that yes."

"Yes."

The lovers kissed and then retired to their bedroom where they joined their bodies into one for a much needed night of passion. They put aside any thoughts of the Rebel Jaffa and Tok'ra and left behind negative emotional experiences, replacing all with nothing but the deep love and eternal devotion they felt for each other. For Jack and Daniel, the night was on fire and tomorrow would be yet another day in the eternity of their hearts.

~~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

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