EX MACHINA, PART TWO BY PHOENIXE
||Jack and Daniel involved in a loving and committed
relationship, which usually involves sex.
||Established Relationship, Angst, Hurt/Comfort, Action/Adventure,
||Sometime after season 3. Spoilers for Legacy, Maternal
Instinct, Crystal Skull
||Is Daniel going insane...again?
||252 Kb Originally completed June 2003 for the JD Six
Pack #2 Zine. A slightly revisted version has also been featured in the
Six Pack Reprise since May 2004, and here it is, also tweaked a bit yet
again, finally making it's debut on JD Divas New Year's Day 2006. And
Happy New Year!
hovered nervously at the side of Daniel's
bed, shooting helpless, furious glances at
the man sitting up in it, wide-eyed and
sightless. Sound asleep. However, being asleep
apparently wasn't cramping his style
when it came to shooting his mouth
off. As Daniel
started rattling off another incomprehensible
stream of words Jack was hugely relieved
to see Janet come barrelling
around the corner, her heels tapping out
such an urgent, emphatic tattoo across the
concrete floor Jack was surprised sparks
weren't shooting out of them.
And she wasn't alone. She had a general
hasa ni rava," Daniel babbled as
Frasier and Hammond reached Jack's side.
see?" Jack blurted, jabbing a finger
at Daniel. "This exactly
what he was doing before."
with more clothes on.
long has Daniel been in a somnambulistic
state?" Frasier sharply demanded, her
dark eyes carefully assessing.
– what?" Jack blinked.
it hasn't been so much sleep-walking as
sleep-talking," Jack replied.
long, Jack?" Hammond gently pressed,
all too aware of the level of the
started about twenty minutes ago,"
Jack said after casting a quick look back
at Daniel, who'd had resumed speaking
again after he'd been silent for several
"He looked at me, but he
wasn't looking at me, you
Whatever, he's not awake.
I tried talking to him but I got
Then he started talking,
saying all this…stuff, and then he sat
up and he's been yapping a blue streak
ever since. I
didn't touch him this time," Jack hurriedly asserted
as Janet turned stern eyes upon him.
"Haven't gone anywhere near
him, I just called you and I've been
keeping an eye on him ever since."
good, Colonel," Janet nodded
"You've been keeping him under
constant observation and you haven't
interfered with him in any way."
to God, strictly hands off," Jack
averred, raising his hands.
you're positive he hasn't made any attempt
to get out of bed or perform any actions
you see has been the extent of the floor
show so far," Jack quickly confirmed. "Funny thing though,
if I didn't know better I'd swear he's
talking to someone.
Or he thinks he's talking
"I guess it doesn't help we
can't understand even one side of the
Daniel usually talk in his sleep?"
Janet asked without thinking.
Jack's eyes widened with alarm,
snapped quickly to the general who
was looking at him, awaiting his answer,
an inscrutable sparkle in his eyes.
you've noticed when you've been
off-world," Janet quickly added.
"When you've shared a tent – "
there have been one or two times,"
Jack admitted truthfully.
"That I've had occasion to
hear him do it.
When we've been…off-world. Or he's been sick. And yeah, sometimes it isn't English.
But usually," he continued, looking at Janet but keeping
an eye on Hammond's reaction, "When
he does switch to something else, it's
a language I recognise. Because I've heard
it before. Like
Arabic. He mumbles
in French a fair bit for some reason
too, don't ask me, couldn't tell ya
why. I might
not understand it, but I know what
it sounds like. But
this stuff he's been speaking since
getting back from P8-youknowwhere I've
never heard anything like it before.
I don't know what the hell it
there are precedents for some of his
current behaviour, then," Hammond
"You're sure he's never
sleep-walked in the past?"
swears he never has," Jack loyally
"He wouldn't lie about
something like that."
not suggesting he would or has,
Jack," the general told him with a
"I just wanted to confirm
Doctor Jackson is not, nor has ever been
prone to sleep-walking."
that I'm aware of, Sir," Jack meekly
"Yaza nir abandana." Daniel
suddenly emphatically announced,
immediately drawing the attention of
everyone in the room.
As three heads
at the determined sound of Daniel's voice
he closed his eyes, lay back down on
the bed and then opened his eyes once
the linguist cried, his blue eyes sparking
with urgency the instant they alighted on
the person they sought.
Meyno ir agadan."
think he's awake," Jack said
"Of course, these days it's
hard to tell."
ni tiramon!" Daniel huffed, sweeping
the covers away from his body and sitting
abada," he insisted, swinging his
legs over until he was perched on the side
of the bed.
"Iro agadan," he
entreated, his right arm describing a wide
arc encompassing the empty room.
peered expectantly at his audience,
becoming immediately perplexed as he
watched his friends' faces get longer and
Significant glances were briefly
exchanged before Jack jauntily observed.
this in new."
Daniel demanded and then turned to Cephus. "I'm sorry, can
you ask them," he waggled a hand at
the horde of eager Kathosians milling
all around the bed, their occasional
forays actually into it and through
it disturbing and distracting him from
being able to focus on the corporeal
people in the room he had to convince
he wasn't a head case
– "could they step back,
just a bit. I'm
feeling a little crowded here."
"Who's he talking to?"
he saying?" Hammond asked, turning to
are they saying what am I saying?"
Daniel demanded of Cephus.
can you understand us?" Janet gently
inquired, taking a careful step closer.
Daniel cautiously returned, still not
certain what was going on but definitely
certain when he figured it out he was
going to hate it.
"Dahn?" Jack glared at him. "What the hell does
Does that mean yes?
What does it mean?" he said
again, turning to Janet.
are you asking me?" she shrugged.
"How should I know?"
Daniel said again, hopefully, to be met by
another round of uncomprehending eyes. Once again he appealed
to the man only he could see standing
at the head of the bed. "Um, we have a problem here," he said, biting his
"They don't understand me.
Why don't they understand me and
how can I fix it?
this obviously isn't working," Jack
" Daniel, you want to stop
talking to your invisible friend there and
focus? I know!" he exclaimed,
brightening. "Try stomping once for
yes and twice for no!"
don't be an ass!" Daniel snarled,
crossing his arms and glaring hatefully at
I got that," Jack sniffed.
"Obviously there's nothing
wrong with his attitude," he
"Pissy as usual."
it would seem," Janet lowered her
head, smothering a smile.
"Also, I think he understands
us, at least."
Daniel blurted, shaking his head
Ah nore yasa," he exclaimed to
a patch of empty air by the head of the
crap, there he goes again!"
"Daniel, this is getting
right, Colonel, he does appear to be
talking to someone. Or,
at least thinks he is," Hammond mused. "Doctor,
could Doctor Jackson be hallucinating?
General Hammond's eyes were grave.
"Some delayed reaction to the
Obviously his mind has been
affected in some way."
"Now they think I'm
didn't see any evidence of it, General,
but it's possible we could be dealing with
a scenario similar to when Colonel O'Neill
had the knowledge of the Ancients
downloaded into his brain."
God, I hope not," Jack shuddered.
when that happened there were observable
physiological changes in the colonel's
brain functioning but as I said in
Daniel's case, there's been nothing."
but no cigar," Daniel sighed,
pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Cephus, please, what's going
Why can't they understand me?"
sorry, Daniel, I am unsure," the sombre
alien replied, his head lowered,
expression deeply contemplative.
"Unless the Mitron judged
the easiest way for us to be able to
communicate would be to teach you our language
in place of your own."
"Oh!" Daniel blinked. "So
you're saying all the while we've been
talking, even though I think I've
been speaking in English I've actually
been – "
would seem to be the case," Cephus
how do I switch back?"
I am unsure," Cephus replied, his
"I understand the Mitron's
function but I was not responsible for
Those who did so remained on Kathos
so as to be able to assist you when you
I am sorry," he finished,
not really helpful," Daniel snapped,
frustration and worry making him react
more sharply than he knew he should have. "Sorry," he immediately
your head off isn't going to do any good either.
Think Daniel, think," he
"I have to make them
understand me somehow.
How do I do that?"
keep saying nothing has actually happened
to Daniel's brain that you can see,"
"So to my mind what that says,
no matter what it looks like what he's
going through isn't the same thing as when
I lost the ability to speak English."
your point, Colonel," Hammond asked.
a thought," Jack offered, turning to
the man perched unhappily on the side of
the infirmary bed.
"Daniel, you're a linguist,
You speak, what – twenty three
Daniel replied cautiously, eyeing Jack
they still all in there?
In your head I mean?"
just stared at him, perplexed.
think about it for a minute," Jack
"Don't look at me like
that," he glared indignantly at
get ideas. Occasionally. From time to time. Anyway,
work with me here. What if – whatever
– rather than erasing his brain and
filling it with new stuff just sort
of confused him a bit? Added to without
taking away? He's still got the ability
to speak in all those different languages
he could before – including English
- but he's stuck on the wrong language
track right now. However
if he just tries to switch gears he
can get it back." Jack
paused and looked expectantly at the
dubious faces around him. "He's a linguist, right?"
Jack insisted. "So,
why doesn't he just – ling?"
"C'mon, Daniel," Jack
urged, placing an encouraging hand on his
"What have you got to lose?
Try switching to another language. See if you can."
God", Daniel gaped admiringly at
Is he right?" Daniel asked
Cephus without looking at him.
"I haven't actually lost
the ability to speak English, or any other
language, what the Mitron did
was make your language my 'default'
language – the one I automatically
think and speak in.
So we could communicate without
I still know how to speak English. I just have to try?"
Mitron will not harm you, nor are
its effects permanent," Cephus
"You have lost none of the
abilities or knowledge you previously
possessed. It has only added to what
it's all still in there somewhere.
Good," Daniel nodded. "That's good. I should be able
to do what Jack said, then, I just
have to give it a go.
Oh, okay, let me think; say
something else, something else, in another
can do this!" he announced, smiling
he started yet?" Janet muttered to
don't think so," Jack frowned.
"Sounds like the same
gibberish he was talking before. "Oh Daniel," Jack
sing-songed. "We're waiting."
sorry!" Daniel blurted, reddening.
What should I say?"
sounded different!" Janet said
did indeed," Hammond nodded.
"You've made a good start,
son," he said encouragingly to
Daniel bobbed his head in agreement, his
brow furrowing as he concentrated on
trying to sift through the confusing
tangle of exotic, varied phrases in dozens
of different languages tumbling around
in his head, in order to pick out the
ones he needed.
Jack shook his head.
me a minute, do you have any idea how hard
this is?" Daniel sniped at him.
sounded like German," Jack mused.
"Cool, a language actually
spoken on this planet. That's progress,
on Daniel, you're getting warmer!"
Daniel seethed, squeezing his eyes shut.
I understood that!" Jack beamed,
insufferably pleased with himself.
"You're getting warmer, buddy. Watch your language
though, there's a lady present."
nagging!" Daniel snapped.
"You're confusing me, I need
"Was that Russian?
Cold, Daniel, getting cold."
– I swear to God if you don't shut up
We have a winner!
Give the man a kewpie doll! Way to go, Daniel!"
it?" Daniel exclaimed.
"I'm – I'm – you can –
"Now you're making absolutely
no sense in a language we can all understand."
doesn't he just ling?" Daniel
lang, potayto, potawto, whatever,"
Jack shrugged. "Hey, it worked,
for – " Daniel's jaw abruptly
snapped shut, he closed his eyes and took
a deep breath.
"We haven't got time for
this," he muttered, then opened his
eyes again and aimed his attention and the
full force of his appeal directly at
I'm glad you're here, please, you have to
let me go back to P8X-807
immediately," he entreated, the words
erupting out of him in a rapid, urgent
"There are a lot of people
here who are going to die soon if we don't
get them back home and millions more on
807 – well, they're not going to die,
but they're trapped - they need our
help – "
abruptly stopped speaking, realising from
looks surrounding him he'd made a bad
maybe I should have put that another
way," he said with a strained smile.
people, son?" Hammond said softly and
carefully. Like he was talking to a
delusional five-year old.
don't have to back away from me slowly I'm
not nuts," Daniel sighed, his heart
but I think you'd better lie back and
rest, Daniel," Janet soothed,
stepping forward to place a gentle hand on
no," he unhappily insisted, shrugging
off her hand.
"Don't treat me like I'm –
please, just listen to me for a
listening, Daniel," Jack told him,
giving Janet a 'back off, let him talk'
"Calm down and tell us what's
Daniel nodded, flashing Jack a grateful
glance. "I realise
what I'm about to say, most of it is going to
sound pretty – out there – I know
that, and I can't help that, nor can I
prove any of it but I'm telling you –
you have to believe me.
No matter what it sounds like. Please?"
almost plaintive ending of Daniel's
entreaty made Jack's gut clench with
As did the obstinate but
unconvinced optimism flushing his
determinedly resigned face. Jesus, Daniel
was coming out swinging, knowing he had to
score a home run but not really believing
he was going to get a chance to even step
up to the plate.
In fact, he honestly didn't believe
anyone was going to take him seriously but
he wasn't about to let it keep him from
it had to break his frigging heart to have
to try so hard. All
the damned time. How
the hell had they all grown so careless of
Daniel to treat him this way, that no
matter what Daniel did, no matter how many
times he proved himself, got it right,
knew what to do, pulled their asses out of
the fire, saved the frigging day, none
of it counted for squat in the eyes
of those who knew him best and definitely
should know better.
Daniel was still right back
behind the eight ball the next time
out in spite of everything he'd already
done to earn not only their respect,
but their automatic trust without ever
getting it, and in order to get anything
done or be taken seriously he had to
fight every one of them tooth and nail.
because he was Daniel, and for no other
it wasn't fair.
And it sure wasn't right.
But there they all were, doing
it to him again.
took several deep breaths, visibly
collecting himself before launching into
know the Goa'uld attacked 807 at some time
in the past and we assumed they
removed the population.
But that isn't what happened. The people are still
hun," Jack grunted, trying to be
"And you know this
Daniel continued, his face full of 'oh
god, now we get to the part where they
really think I'm nuts'. "I can see them."
Jack asked slowly, trying so hard not to
slide into condescending it was painful to
sighed and wearily hung his head.
"Let's start again. The inhabitants
of 807 – which they call Kathos, by
the way - knew the Goa'uld were coming
and wanted to hide from them. That's what the
tower was for, and why it was the only
structure on the planet that was protected. It contains the
device that phased all of the planet's
inhabitants – like what Nick's giant
aliens did to us – so the Goa'uld couldn't
find them and hurt them. The device was supposed
to un-phase them and return them to
normal again when the Goa'uld left,
but something went wrong. It never happened and they've been trapped like that,
living like ghosts ever since. They need me to
help them fix the device, get it working
again, and that's why I got zapped. Not to hurt me,
but to enable me to see and hear them,
and to teach me how to fix the machine
so it can change them back."
did this machine select you, Doctor?"
General Hammond asked quietly.
"Why not the colonel? Wasn't he the first
one to enter the structure?"
isn't sure," Daniel weakly grinned. "Something about
my mind made me a better candidate
And the fact I was a temporary
‘ghost’ myself for a long time
courtesy of Nick’s aliens. Anyway, it looked us both over and I'm the one it
Lucky me, his bleak eyes
"Cephus?" Hammond asked again,
his expression conveying he was deeply
considering everything Daniel was saying
but betraying no clue as to his opinion
of the reliability of either the speaker
or the intelligence he was offering.
the – um
- their leader.
"He's standing right over
Daniel waved toward the spot near
the head of the bed where he'd been
directing his remarks earlier.
Hammond quirked a brow, his face devoid of
any other expression.
"You claim this alien is
standing over there – and you can see
"Not just him.
There are quite a few Kathosians in
this room with him.
They're sort of all over the place. They came through
the gate with us when we returned from
807. And I don't
'claim' anything, Sir," Daniel continued,
rallying, raising his head and meeting
Hammond's gaze head on. "They're there, and they're as real as you or I –
they're just in a slightly different
know the way this sounds," Daniel
continued, his voice becoming more
impassioned as his need to succeed for the
Kathosian's sakes overrode everything
really, what I'm telling you, it's not so
far-fetched, we know it's possible
and technology capable of doing this
We've experienced it – both Jack
" He broke off and cast an appealing
glance at Jack.
"If you don't believe me and
won't let me go back, fine, but these
people who are here need to return to
their planet or they're going to…well,
I'm not sure what's going to happen to
them, but they won't exist any more, in
If you won't let me go back
to the planet at least dial up 807
so they can go home.
Even if you don't believe me
and think I'm seeing things, humour
me on this point. Where's the harm in just
the planet and leaving the gate open for a
Can you at least do this for
not saying we don't believe you,
son," Hammond began in a placating
voice making Jack grimace as he
remembered, not proudly, uttering a very
similar statement to Daniel not so long
you don't believe me," Daniel
And there was the other shoe,
Right on his sorry head.
you have been affected by the alien
technology is not in question,"
"We know you currently believe
what you are saying, but given
the…mental confusion you experienced
directly after the attack, have you
stopped to consider what you believe you
are experiencing isn't real?
You were under an alien influence
causing you to hallucinate before,
and you were as convinced of the reality
of the phantom Linvris during that
incident as you appear to be about
– these people."
resulting sick smile spreading across
Daniel's face in reaction to Hammond's
comment found an answering echo in the pit
of Jack's stomach.
wondered how long it would take before we
got to that," Daniel said with a
bitter burst of laughter.
"Once a nut case, always a nut
This is completely different, but I
have no idea how I'm going to convince you
I'm not crazy or seeing aliens
that don't really exist – if I'm the
only one who can see…"
voice trailed away and he turned towards
the spot of empty air he'd named 'Cephus'.
Jackson, I don't wish to unduly distress
you," Hammond continued as he, like
both Janet and Jack looked automatically
to where Daniel was directing his
attention as if doing so would enable
them to see what he claimed to be seeing. "And I'm certainly
taking your request under advisement. However, before
I make a decision I think it would
be prudent for you to submit to Dr
Fraiser for some more testing, just
to confirm the alien device hasn't
had any further deleterious effects
on you and what you believe you are
experiencing isn't in fact being caused by
you listening to me, I keep telling you we
don't have time for that!"
Daniel angrily cut him off. "They – they don't
Dammit," he fumed, smashing
his balled fist into his thigh. "How can I make you understand? What
can I do to convince you? I'm really sorry," he
said to the empty air.
"I told you this would happen,
they – what?" he suddenly said and
then paused for several seconds.
"Do you think that would
Jackson?" Janet quietly addressed
him, trying to get his attention.
I'd like you to get started on those tests
immediately," Hammond murmured, his
eyes never leaving Daniel as he delivered
his instructions in a barely audible
"I'd also like Major Carter to
be in on this.
Her expertise could provide some
useful insights into the situation. Has she reported for duty yet this morning?"
checked with security when I arrived,
Sir," Janet replied in an equally
"According to them she's still
She didn't leave the base last
won't need Sam," Daniel suddenly
announced calmly, at last turning to face
them once more, his face strangely empty
for its seeming serenity.
"You need proof of what I'm
telling you before you'll trust me,
I think I can give it to you. We'll try, anyway. Jack,"
he said coldly, his voice louder, harsher. He extended his
hand to the man standing behind Janet,
" I need you to help me do
face shone with the serenity of the
It was a look of tired resignation,
weary acceptance of the continually
reaffirmed reality he was not enough, what
he was, knew, and had accomplished was
not in itself sufficient for anyone,
even the man he loved, for them to
be able to take him on trust. Jack had seen this
quiet but very personal disappointment
in Daniel's eyes before. He'd looked just
like this as he stood there in Oma's
garden and said those words. The same words
implicit in his silent, resigned eyes.
you're ever going to trust me, now's the
On Kheb he'd lowered his weapon,
but not for Daniel.
It was Bra'tac's word he'd trusted,
not Daniel's and yet, Daniel had forgiven
More than that, Daniel had even
found a way to forget about it, put it
away, not let it eat at him the way it
The way it would have him, if the
people he most loved and trusted treated
him the way they
way he was treating Daniel now.
time he'd failed the test and Daniel had
let him off the hook. And
here they were again, bellying up to the same yardstick
but this time – it was different.
Jack could feel it, see it in
an unaccustomed coolness in Daniel's
normally warm and accepting eyes. Nothing big, hardly
discernable at all, just the barely
there prescient gleam of fatalistic
was expecting him to let him down again. He'd asked for trust,
hadn't received it and was resigning
himself to having to prove himself,
once again. Sure,
Daniel had asked him for his help in
supplying this proof, but the disappointment
lurking in his eyes at being required
to – yet again – especially by him…
he did – if he made Daniel go through
with this, made him prove himself…
Daniel would never be fully his again. Jack could see that
plainly as well.
Daniel's spirit couldn't support
another denunciation of his integrity
or devaluation of his word. Especially by the
man who claimed to love him and above
all others should be the last one to
doubt him and make him do this. If he made
Daniel prove himself this time
– it would be the last time. Daniel would never
ask him for anything again. Look to him, expect
anything, he'd pull away, start to
close off, retreat and eventually…
ended here, one way or the other.
Which way – completely up to him.
Daniel asked again, the ghost of a tremor in his voice.
Jack grunted, crossing his arms and
planting his feet firmly, his body
language leaving no doubt he wasn't
budging from the spot he was currently
Daniel's voice sounded so small and
desolate that for a second, even though he
knew it was going to be okay, the
momentary shattering of Daniel's faith in
him devastated Jack to the core.
don't have to, and neither do you,"
Jack hurried to assure him.
"Prove what you've been
telling us, that is.
If you say there's a planet full of
people on 807 who need our help and
there's a bunch of them standing around
in this room whether I can see them
or not makes no difference - if you
say they're there -
that's good enough for me."
could feel Daniel's blinding smile of
gratitude bathing his back as he turned to
Hammond, a bright 'please see things my
way or else' grin on his face.
request permission to lead my team back to
807 for a rescue mission ASAP. Daniel says there
are people there who need our help. My responsibility,
sure, Jack," Hammond asked, the
gentle quirking of his lips softening the
severity of his expression.
Sir," Jack jauntily retorted.
Truthfully. And, as he abruptly
realised as soon as he'd said it to
the general it was true. He really did…believe. He spared a second
to glance back at Daniel and saw every
reward he'd ever want in life beaming
at him from the blue depths of a pair
of quietly shining eyes.
well, Colonel O'Neill, assemble your team. SG-1, you have a
much longer is this gonna take?" Jack
complained, eyeing the placid, shimmering
surface of the event horizon. Well, here they
were, back on 807.
All of them, that is, except
Daniel was still in the gateroom,
shepherding his invisible buds through the
It was taking freaking forever.
They'd been here for almost ten
minutes standing around listening to their
hair grow and still no Daniel. Or any evidence
of the intangible horde allegedly exiting
the wormhole all around them, but then
there wouldn't be, would there, seeing
as how they were invisible.
won't come until the last of the
Kathosians has safely made it back through
the gate," Sam said, making herself
more comfortable on the wide stone step
she was seated on.
"And as he's the only one who
can see them…"
I know, he has to stay to make sure they
all make it," Jack grumbled. As soon as they're
all safe and sound, then he'll come
bopping along and the folks back at
the SGC will know it's okay to shut
down the gate. Damn,
how many of those guys hitched a ride
with us the first time? They must have been moving
pretty damned quick to slip so many
on through, because we never leave
the gate open this long, not if everyone
gets back okay right off.
I mean, what for?"
I'd forgotten about that!" Sam
suddenly exclaimed, realisation rushing
across her face.
Now that you come to mention it,
Colonel," she began excitedly, rising
to her feet.
"You and Daniel don't know
this because you were gone as soon as you
hit the ramp getting him to the infirmary,
but there was a slight glitch
with the gate when we returned. That's why I was
called back to the control room, I
was checking it out, trying to figure
out why the gate wouldn't shut down."
I recall you were never able to determine
what caused the gate to remain open for
approximately fifteen minutes after we
Teal'c smoothly added.
minutes, forty three seconds," Sam
"It did what? Almost eighteen
frigging minutes? You're kidding!"
Sam shook her head.
"We ran a diagnostic but
couldn't find any reason why the wormhole
Everything was functioning normally
and there was absolutely no reason
we could determine why it wouldn't
shut down. The
gate was behaving as if someone was
deliberately keeping it open, but of
course that was impossible because…"
stopped speaking, shamefaced as she
realised the 'proof' of Daniel's
assertions had been there all along.
Only no one had made the
"And then of course the gate
shut down on its own and everything was
back to normal," she finished meekly.
glared at her, furious, images of Daniel's
desolate face splattering all over his
The whole ordeal they'd just put
him through needn't have happened. The proof they'd
expected Daniel to supply before they'd
believe him, Daniel already had it
and he hadn't known.
it occur to you to mention this, at
any time?" he demanded, only just
managing to restrain himself from
bellowing into her face.
was clearly embarrassed to have missed the
connection but she wasn't going to be
"With all due respect, Sir,"
she snapped back at him, meeting him
glare for glare. "I
didn't see any reason to. Sometimes the gate – well,
we still don't completely understand
how it works and if every once and
awhile it does something – odd – we
aren't always able to determine why.
We continue to study it and learn
more about its functioning all the time,
but occasionally it behaves in a way we
don't understand and can't explain. Without knowing
what Daniel told you later in the infirmary
– it was just another one of those
occurrences. That's all the incident
was to me at the time, another momentary
glitch that straightened itself out. I didn't think any
more of it, certainly didn't connect
it to Daniel and because I wasn't
in the infirmary the
second time, when Daniel was telling
you what had happened to him and I
didn't know about the Kathosians
there wasn't any reason to attach any more
significance to the event than it being
one of the anomalies in the daily
operation of the gate that sometimes
I forgot about it, okay?" she
finished with a steely glare at her CO,
daring him to dispute her.
glared right back at her, considering it. He was still inwardly
smarting from the shock of coming face
to face with Daniel's belief in their
disbelief, unable to deny his friend's
low opinion of all of them or evade
his own contribution to the undervaluing
of the confidence of the best man he'd
ever known. He
was angry and he wanted some payback, but
keeping to the theme of facing the music
the word 'displacement' suddenly came to
Yeah, sure he was pissed, but it
wasn't really at Carter, it was at his own
dumb-ass self, and dumping on his major in
an attempt to expiate his own guilt –
well it wasn't cool for starters. Never mind not being
exactly fair to Carter either.
it certainly didn't help she had his
number and there was no way she was going
to let him make her the bad guy.
Carter," he grudgingly growled at
"I know it's not your fault.
You didn't know.
It's just – it would have been a
lot easier to get from there to here
– if Daniel had only known about
this…glitch…it's too bad you weren't
there when Daniel told us about the
I'm sure between the two of you –
what you knew and what Daniel knew,
if you'd shared, you would have put
it together a lot sooner."
spared Daniel the humiliation of having to
beg us for our trust.
think so too, Sir," Sam managed a
"Maybe next time…"
Jack coughed uncomfortably, uncertain of
what to say next.
wonder how they did it," Sam said
unexpectedly, abruptly switching mental
tracks and absolving him of the agony of
any further awkwardness.
If they are in an incorporeal
state, out of phase with this reality, I
wonder how they were able to keep the
It's not like one of them could
have – I don't know - stuck his arm in
the event horizon to hold it open long
enough for the rest of them to pass
through, but they must have done something
to prevent the gate from shutting down. I wonder how they
Carter, I don't know, but I'm sure once
Daniel does whatever he needs to do to fix
these guys you'll be able to find someone
who'll be just dying to tell you."
be nice, Sir," Sam grinned.
– but that's neither here nor
there," Daniel said, bounding out of
the event horizon.
Jack beamed at the last member of his team
as he skidded to a stop and stared at
the three people staring at him. "Your buddies have
all made it through, then?"
Daniel had a chance to reply the gate
snapped off behind him.
take that as a yes," Jack said,
waving Daniel down the stone stairway. "Can you table your
no doubt fascinating conversation with
– whomever – until after we trot back
up yon hill and you do your business?"
good grief," Daniel snickered.
"You make it sound like I'm
about to – oh never mind!"
the rush, Sir," Sam teased.
"Do you have plans?"
might!" Jack said indignantly.
"What?" he demanded as
she made a face.
"Why not? Why is
that so hard to believe?"
he's always like this," Daniel
wearily told the air beside him as he
struck out briskly toward the hill and
their eventual destination. "I have no idea,"
he chuckled after a brief pause.
"Hey!" Jack yelled after
him. "I am not! Well, I'm not," he muttered at Sam and Teal'c. "Daniel, wait up!"
he hollered and then broke into a trot
in order to catch up to him.
is pouting because she still has to sit
this one out," Jack tossed back over
his shoulder to Daniel as he warily walked
through the arch.
No funny blue gas or weird noises
And up ahead, in the tower's
interior, the lights were still on. "I hope your pals
will let her come in here and poke
around after. That face she's wearing right now – ewww!" he shuddered.
"Not a happy face.
It's so not a good look for
barely had time to gape at the
surroundings once they'd arrived inside
the tower's huge inner chamber when Daniel
abruptly grabbed him by the arm, spinning
about Sam," he growled in a husky,
lust-laden voice, pulling a startled
colonel into a blistering, knee-melting,
exquisitely lingering kiss.
too soon and incredibly reluctantly Jack
finally peeled his lips off the luscious
ones searing deliciously straight into his
With his eyes still closed Jack
rested his forehead against Daniel's brow,
holding him close and savouring
the taste of his lover tickling his
that I'm complaining or anything,"
Jack murmured after letting loose an
"But what was that
you," Daniel fervently whispered, his
moist breath teasing Jack's still tingling
lips sending delightfully erotic thrills
through his body.
The hands tenderly roaming all
over his back were pretty darned exciting
"Thank you for what you did
back there. Just – thank
you. You don't
know how much it means – "
voice broke and he clutched Jack tighter
with shockingly emphatic gratitude, once
again making with the lips, their lovely,
soft ardent brushes all over his face
threatening to plunge his brains even
further into his shorts.
ordinarily would not be a bad thing but
this was neither the time, nor the place. He was still on
the SGC's time, not Mister Happy's,
unfortunately, but as soon as he got
– Daniel," he squeaked, then
cleared his throat. "Daniel, you're
welcome but we have to – can you thank
me later – WOW!" he yelped and then
reared back in shock at coming
unexpectedly face to face with a whole
bunch more faces he knew damned well
hadn't been there like half a second ago.
Dozens of pairs of bemused, phantom
eyes benignly blinked at him from over
Daniel's shoulder as he sputtered,
gasped and pointed.
fucking place was lousy with people! Sonofabitch! Wavering
and indistinct, an army of see-through
figures fanning out and filling the
entire interior space of the inner
chamber behind Daniel, flickering and
winking in and out but unmistakably
then, just as abruptly they weren't.
The instant he leapt backwards,
away from them and Daniel the transparent
throng utterly vanished as undeniably
as they'd been there. Jack blinked stupidly
at Daniel, so totally unhinged by the
unexpected in and outing he hadn't
even realised he'd sprung practically
clear across the room in his shock.
the fuck was that?" he
bleated, chest heaving and heart pounding,
feeling light-headed and almost sick with
the matter, Jack?"
humourlessly. "Seeing things?"
– " was as articulate as he could
manage for several more seconds until his
heart rate started returning to normal. "I almost had a
freaking stroke, there for a
second!" he snarled.
"Or maybe I am having
he cried, waving his hand around. "Tons of them all
over the freaking place. First they were
there – and then – zippo."
soon as you stopped touching me,"
Daniel offered, a knowing smile touching
stared at him again, the light starting to
"That's right," he
"I was – over there, and we
were – and then I – you know, and sort
Daniel's smile got wider.
wouldn't quite have put it that way
but now that you mention it, when I –
moved – they went poof."
it worked then," Daniel mused.
"Cephus wasn't sure if it
would or not, at least not at the SGC, but
obviously, it worked here."
up – what worked?"
the Kathosians concentrate on trying to
connect with you, even briefly, through me
and our connection, while I
was touching you. He
said there was a slim chance it could work, because
you'd also been momentarily exposed to the
Mitron's energy and because of the
fact we're – " Daniel paused and
suddenly flashed him an almost shy glance. " We're – "
it?" Jack finished for him with a
huge, leering grin.
"I'm not going to ask you how
these guys knew this, seeing as how
we haven't actually done anything
since they've been hanging around. Which I presume
they were – the whole time – back at
our place too. Even
though we couldn't see them.
Well, at least I couldn't
at least they didn't leave a mess.
Mind you, they could have, but
if we couldn't see it how will we ever
Daniel continued, deliberately turning his
back on Jack and starting to purposefully
stride across the large inner chamber. Jack immediately roused himself and followed expectantly
in his wake.
"That's what I was going to do
in the infirmary.
To try and prove to all of you,
through you, the Kathosians weren't
all in my head."
were going to kiss me in front of
Hammond?" Jack gaped.
of course not!" Daniel snorted.
I was just going to hold your
hand, or something.
I needed to touch you, have
physical contact in order
abruptly stopped walking and then lurched
drunkenly sideways for several steps,
looking very much as if he was about to
keel over and drop to the ground. Jack instantly leapt
to steady him, screwing his eyes shut
as he grabbed Daniel by the arms.
you all right?" he anxiously queried. "What's happening?"
yeah I'm fine," Daniel quickly
replied, his fingers fastening around
Jack's arms and briefly clutching.
"All of a sudden there was all
this – stuff – in my head. It's okay now, but having it just pop in there – it was
a bit disconcerting."
sure this – doohickey isn't going to
screw up your brain?" Jack anxiously
asked him, still holding tight and keeping
his eyes desperately closed as long
as he was touching Daniel.
know what Cephus told me and I trust
him," Daniel replied, reassuringly
rubbing Jack's arm.
"Oh, and Jack?"
can open your eyes.
You won't see anything, even if you
are touching me.
The Kathosians are no longer trying
to make you see them.
They – they've made their
sure," Jack warily cracked open one
eyelid, saw nothing except the two of them
and a big empty room and then opened both
his eyes and glanced around with a
"Okay, that's better," he
"No offence, uh, guys, but
that was just too creepy. Daniel!
They're really here.
Really, really, really for real –
here! All over the damned place.
Invisible," he finished with a
– but don't you think that's weird?"
Jack insisted, fanning his arm vigorously
through the empty air. "I mean, think about
it for a minute, they're everywhere.
We could be walking
through a whole bunch of them right
now. Right through
Now that's creepy!"
grow up," Daniel fondly scolded,
extricating himself from Jack's grasp and
continuing past what looked to Jack like a
huge piece of abstract sculpture sulking
in the middle of the room. He paused by it
giving it the once-over while Daniel
continued to make for a vast screen
embedded in the wall directly opposite
the entranceway to the room. The huge panel hung
there, serenely addressing the room,
gently illuminated by a shifting, pleasant
pattern of oozing and blending coloured
the doohickey?" Jack asked, making a
face at the butt-ugly monstrosity he was
The incoherent curves and bulges of
the dark, gleaming mass made Jack think of
an atrocious lawn ornament somebody
with more money than taste or sense
might buy and install on his property
out of the erroneous conviction it
would impress the
that's the Mitron," Daniel
absently responded as he started touching
the screen in various places, making the
light change patterns.
– we have to get a few things I'm going
to need in order to fix it.
This is going to take us
you sure we have to?"
Jack, I'm sure," Daniel grimaced,
rubbing the heel of his right hand into
his forehead and giving the screen one
that should do it.
Uwda," Daniel said in a low,
Jack echoed, blinked and was somewhere
Instantly, without experiencing any
disorientation or sensation of movement or
anything at all.
good, he hadn't been thrown – wherever,
on his own: Daniel had come with. Which was handy,
because not only did Jack have no idea
where they were now or how they'd gotten
there, it was pretty much a given he
also had no idea how to get back.
Jack gazed wide-eyed and slack
jawed at the new chamber he and Daniel
were now standing in.
Even though he knew from what
Daniel had said they were underground he
couldn't see any actual evidence of the
roof he presumed was overhead nor the
cavern walls he also assumed had to be out
there, somewhere across the vast void
of softly illuminated – space – yawning
all around them.
this place was big, all right, but it
They had arrived in front of a
large, featureless black cube with another
one of those screens floating over it. Jack couldn't see
anything holding the screen up, but
there it was just sort of hanging there
in mid air. Different,
but not too freaky.
And sprawling out from the locus of
the box and the screen were rows and rows
of neatly aligned, ten-foot utterly
seamless metal lozenges, completely
uniform in shape and size looking to Jack
like an army of gigantic cigar tubes.
he was pretty sure whatever was in them it
probably wasn't cigars.
soft mutter from Daniel immediately called
Jack back from his gaping contemplation of
His attention snapped immediately
to the man at his side in time to see
him grimace and squeeze his eyes shut
as if he was in pain as he forcefully
ground the heel of his hand into his
is it?" Jack grated, alarmed by the
distress Daniel was suddenly displaying. Dammit, he knew
this had been way too frigging easy. Daniel might trust
this Seepuss character, but how the
hell did he know he really could? These guys could
be stringing him along, telling him
it was safe to be doing this even if
it wasn't, so they could get what they
wanted from him no matter what it did
to him. Daniel
was a smart guy except when it came
to looking out for himself, and then
he tended to be pretty damned dumb.
Yeah, sure, Daniel – being Daniel
would assume the best and grant these
bozos the benefit of the doubt even though
all this time his phantom pals might have
been lying through their teeth, using
Daniel to save their see-through asses
and not giving a crap if their damned
machine melted his brain in the process,
just so long as he did what they needed
him to do.
Daniel grated between clenched teeth. "Don't - don't fuss
– I'm fine," he waved Jack away, still
massaging his forehead.
me?" Jack growled, pushing past
Daniel's warding off gesture to grab him
firmly by the arm.
"Call me crazy, but you're not
looking so 'fine' right now." He drew closer to Daniel, softening his grip, fingers
stroking soothingly, his voice firm
me one good reason why I shouldn't pull
you out of here and abort this deal right
opened his eyes and gazed fondly at his
"You can't." he smiled
wanly at Jack.
"For starters, how do you
intend hauling me back to the surface if I
don't want to go? Can you operate the
virthaz?" he challenged.
no," Jack snorted.
"I can't even pronounce it and
you damned well know it."
then there's no point in you getting all
puffed up and Alpha Male on me now is
there? You're just going to have to put
'it's for your own good, Daniel'
instincts on hold and trust me, no matter
how much you hate what you're seeing. Besides, even if
you could haul me out of here
against my will, which you can't, it
wouldn't do you any good – or me for
that matter - to pull me out with the
job undone. Now
that I've come back here I have to
finish what I've started.
I've got no choice.
Completing the task," he
paused and grimaced again. "It's the
only way to get this stuff in my head out
of my head."
could learn to hate you," Jack said
"You'd better be okay and stay
that way or I swear to you, if helping
these guys hurts you in any way I will find
a way to harm them.
love you too," Daniel said with a
small laugh, momentarily leaning against
the strong support of his friend. "I'll be – I just
have to get used to all this…" he paused,
breathing deeply for several seconds
as if struggling to master some inner
conflict, physical or mental, Jack
didn't know for sure, only from everything
he was seeing something was
causing Daniel pain.
No matter how much he claimed it
knowledge they've given me," Daniel
resumed after opening his eyes and looking
"It's a bit – overwhelming.
I'm still trying to sort it all
out and things are – confusing. Not painful
in the strictest sense, but….I can't
explain it," he finished with a helpless
shrug. "I know
the way it must look, but even though
it sort of hurts and yet it doesn't,
it isn't hurting me."
that makes no sense at all."
think?" Daniel grinned at him.
"Wait 'til you see what
hate it when you say crap like this,"
Jack complained, his resolve melting
before Daniel's entreating eyes.
me," Daniel whispered again, reaching
out to cup Jack's cheek.
He brushed his lips softly and
briefly against Jack's mouth and then
moved away, heading toward the cube
and the screen.
I trust," Jack called after him.
"It's the see-through guys and
their doohickey I'm not too sure of."
that's neither here nor there,"
Daniel murmured as he reached the black
box and the screen floating over it. He stretched out
a hand to touch the screen and blobs
of colour started bleeding all over
the formerly blank and inert surface
the instant his slender, sensitive
fingers connected with it.
As he continued speaking Daniel's
hands danced over the screen, caressing it
thoughtfully and manipulating the various
kinda got no choice now.
If I was right to trust them, we've
got no worries but if not…ooops."
"Ooops?" Jack glared at him.
I'm kinda hoping for the former
option," Daniel tossed an impudent
grin at him.
"Ah, there we go, got 'em,"
he announced, obviously pleased with the
results of his screen stroking as several
smaller cubes of varying sizes suddenly
atop the bigger black one.
"This is what we came
for," he informed Jack, scooping up
the boxes and handing them over to his
companion before turning his attention
back to the screen. "We can go back
to the surface now."
all this, then?" Jack asked, looking
down at what he was holding.
Failing to be at all impressed. They'd come all
this way here, wherever here was, to
pick up three black boxes. One about the size
of a thermos, except it was square. The second was larger and would have made a fine looking
attaché case if it had a handle. And a latch. Or
hinges. Or any
seams along the side where the lid
would have met the bottom if it was
indeed some kind of a case and it opened,
which it didn't seem to have so it
probably didn't, and wasn't.
Damn, this was fun.
third one wasn't so much like a box as it
was a credit card. It
was the right shape and size and like the other two,
completely black and blank and whatever it
was made of, it didn't feel like plastic. It was warm and
tingly, which was kinda weird.
other extremely strange thing about all
three of the objects nestled in his arms
was they seemed to weigh exactly the same,
which was practically nothing.
was back at the screen, doing his thing
all over it again.
"Here we go," he said
after several seconds of poking at it. "Umdar," he sang
out, smiling sweetly at Jack.
Once again, as effortlessly as
before, with no sense of motion,
displacement or transition one instant
Jack was glancing about the cavern and
then he was looking at the doohicky in the
room in the tower.
gotta get me one of these," Jack
said, shaking his head as Daniel turned on
his heel and moved quickly to his side.
I'll take those now," he said to
Jack, his head lowered, eyes averted, his
stoic face and body language practically
screaming 'please don't ask me'.
the head?" Jack tossed off,
deliberately making the question careless
darted a brief glance at him, his lips
quirking a wary smile. "Oh,
you know, it's weird, but I'll live."
cut his gaze away, obviously wishing he
hadn't just said what he had in quite that
Jack watched him carefully as
Daniel wordlessly took possession of the
boxes they'd brought back, plainly seeing
the inner battle Daniel was waging in
his stricken eyes, his heart sinking
as he realised from the way Daniel
was fighting with himself over whether
or not to clue him in…
was going to happen next, he was going to
no easy way to say this," Daniel
began, shuffling his feet and biting his
"What I have to do next –
you're gonna hate it."
do not want to hear that,
well, it doesn't make me any happier
saying it but there it is and there you
I'm sorry," Daniel smiled
wistfully at him and then turned his back
on him and walked up to the Mitron.
whachadoin'?" Jack asked with an edge
to his voice that could cut through
Jack, awfully busy," Daniel muttered,
slapping the small black card against one
of the Mitron's more bizarre
"Can't stop to chat right
kept his hand and the card pressed
to the machine and then… Jack wished he could say
he was seeing things, but he
knew he wasn't, the whole danged thing,
Daniel included, sort of
- shimmied – bent sidewise for a
second and rippled almost as if…
terror leapt up into Jack’s throat as
huge red-alert klaxons clanged crazily
in his head.
– don't!" he cried, leaping
forward, hand outstretched to grab him,
stop him –
to fail, as his hand went right through
enigmatic burdens clasped close to his
chest, Daniel looked back over his
burning eyes piercing Jack soul deep with
their implacable resolution.
I will come back to you.
I won't let anything stop me from
coming back to you."
he lowered his head, turned back to the
machine and walked into it, his
body swallowed up and melding with the
blackness like the huge, hulking thing
had literally absorbed him.
The damned machine ate him!
struggled to claw back the talons of
terror strangling his futile cries of
protest in his throat and threatening to
drive him to his knees.
Hate this? Hate
was such a little word, entirely too
inadequate to convey the magnitude of the
fear-driven rage rampaging through him. No doubt in his
mind if that goddamned, butt-ugly pile
of shit didn't give him Daniel back
he was taking the whole damned planet
out. And every wispy, Daniel-stealing
bastard floating around on it.
Bastards. Sneaky, double-dealing,
Yeah, he hated this, all
you, Daniel? What choice have
I got? All the times you've been right and I
haven't believed you, this is not the time
to fuck up and be wrong.
You'd better be right, you hear me?
hear me, Daniel?" he roared at the
To brooding, impersonal silence.
Stupid, he'd known it was stupid to
shout, just as it was equally stupid,
it would seem, to be bashing his fists
against the gismo like somehow he could
beat Daniel out of it, but it wasn't
stopping him from doing it either. He had to do something. He couldn't just
stand there and stare while the seconds
felt like he'd been pounding on the thing
forever when the mocking mass beneath his
hands pulsed, heaving like it was coming
alive and taking a breath. Repulsed by the
sensation Jack snatched his hands away
but killed his instinctive reaction
to spring back from it. He wasn't running,
wasn't going to let it knock him back. No matter what it
did, he wasn't giving ground; he'd
be here, for Daniel. Just in case.
winced as the shiver building in the
machine exploded outward, flinging itself
hungrily into the air.
Jack gasped, shaking his head
as something passed through
him like a herd of elephants tap dancing
on his grave. The
air all around him was electric, static
danced over his skin and spat at the
nape of his neck until it was all he
could do to not scream right out of
his skin. Jack
gritted his teeth, struggling to hold
his ground as the sensation of having
a billion angry ants crawling all over
his body escalated until he wanted to
bolt shrieking from the room, clawing his
God, if it was this bad out here what the
hell was happening to Daniel – in there?
took Jack a while to realise the buzzing
in his ears was actually outside his head. The high-pitched
whine clambered up several octaves,
loud and cacophonous in the confined
space and damned painful slamming against
his eardrums. Something
had to give soon, or he would, and
yet he couldn't do it – he couldn't
give in to this, somehow he knew he
had to hold on. Daniel
needed him to be there.
Sir, what's going on in there?
Are you and Daniel all right?" Carter's scratchy,
deeply worried voice oozed out of his
comm and battled with the buzzing for
his attention. She
babbled on some more, begging for acknowledgement
but he couldn’t answer her, attempting
to even think of a response would have
taken more effort than he could spare. She'd have to wait;
he was saving everything he had for
he couldn't understand but didn't question
drew him to move closer to the machine
slightly right of where he'd formerly
been standing and shivering. As he reached out
to touch a gleaming protuberance five
fingers poked through, almost jabbing
him in the eye, sheering eerily through
the blank, unreflective surface of
the machine as effortlessly as if they
were waving in empty air. A hand followed, tautly extended, straining, its long,
elegant fingers stretching out desperately
as if seeking…
Daniel needed him now.
urgency and reaction Jack lunged, seizing
Daniel's hand, growling with feral triumph
it was substantial enough to hold onto,
then hauling back on his precious purchase
with ferocious, desperate strength. He had him now and
he wasn't losing him. They'd have to pry
Daniel's hand out of his cold dead
one before he'd let go.
tugged and a forearm emerged, followed
swiftly by the rapid emergence of Daniel's
bowed, tousled head and slumping
Jack yanked again, hard, grimly
dragging Daniel's body the rest of the way
through and stepping in to catch the
beloved form pitching unresisting forward,
falling out of the machine boneless
and heavy, it's inevitable impact with
the ground beneath arrested by the
pair of strong and determined arms
waiting to receive it.
frantic tugging had given Daniel's inert
and not inconsiderable mass plenty of
momentum, throwing Jack off balance. Unconcerned about
himself, wanting only to protect the
man in his arms he let Daniel's weight
bowl him over, rolling both their bodies
so his was beneath them, thereby taking
the brunt of their tumble to the tower
slammed to the ground, not gently,
leaving Jack slightly gasping and winded
with Daniel's dead weight sprawled
all over him, pressing him into the floor.
lay where he’d fallen, momentarily
stunned, attempting to catch his breath,
clutching Daniel tight.
Daniel wasn't moving, even after
the shock of the impact he'd only
partially cushioned him from.
Jack urgently grunted, shaking off the
aftermath of their fall and quickly, but
gently rolling Daniel off him. As soon as he was
clear of him and able to spring up
to his knees Jack knelt over him, gathering
Daniel into his arms.
Daniel hung limply in his frantic
embrace, his slack, pale face innocent of
any indication he was aware of the
desperate entreaties of Jack O'Neill.
Jack continued to plead, gently slapping
the side of Daniel's face. "Come on, buddy,
don't do this to me.
You promised and I'm holding
you to it."
was so desperately focussed
on the man in his arms, his entire
universe contracted and hanging on the
hope of the faintest fluttering of a
shuttered pair of eyes Jack was completely
oblivious the new, reigning silence in the
room around them.
Didn't know, didn't care.
All he wanted, all that mattered…
– uh – I'm okay," Daniel mumbled,
his voice thick with confusion.
He took a deep breath and opened
his eyes, a lazy, doting smile blooming
across his face, crinkling and warming
the eyes focussed on the face hovering
he managed to whisper before Jack's fierce
embrace plastered his face to Jack's
you ever scare me like that again, you son
of a bitch," Jack choked into
Daniel's hair, his fingers clutching the
back of Daniel's head with almost cruel
"I should kick your ass around
the block for a month for pulling a
stunt like that!
What the hell were you thinking? What if something
had gone wrong – if you'd passed out
or something inside that thing and
you couldn't get out?"
I guess saying it almost did and I almost
didn't wouldn't be incredibly helpful
right now," Daniel said, reassuringly
rubbing Jack's back.
it wouldn't!" Jack scolded, drawing
back so he could look at Daniel, see
his eyes to know for sure he was really
okay. "I'd yell
at you some more, but you're lucky. I'm too glad to
see you and I don't want to spoil the
mood with a lot of depressing shouting
you," Daniel smiled.
sure you're all right?"
Jack's eyes were humourless, deeply
serious as he cupped Daniel's cheek
and gently caressed the skin with his
thumb. "In there
– it didn't – and you're not – you're
was a bit weird in there, yeah,"
Daniel nodded, not holding anything back
in his effort to reassure Jack.
"I wasn't expecting it, or I
would have told you.
It didn't hurt me, it just took
a lot out of me to have to be in there
when the machine was activated. And yeah," he grinned,
tapping the side of his head. "All the extra stuff in there – gone now. I'm me again. For whatever little that's worth."
up," Jack growled, quickly leaning
into to plaster his mouth on Daniel's.
kissed hungrily, greedily, hands roaming,
grabbing possessively as both men gave in
to their overwhelming need to expel
their former fears and find comfort
in each other.
Jack would have been more than
content to steal more time for the
incredible indulgence, but Daniel had
he gasped, after reluctantly, but
resolutely pushing the other man far
enough away to be able to speak. "Um, this is really
nice, but in case you hadn't noticed,
we have company."
a matter of fact, he hadn't.
Never taking his eyes off the
shining ones beneath him Jack paid enough
attention to his peripheral vision
to for the first time register they
were ringed all around by clearly visible
and definitely not wispy or insubstantial
A forest of feet and legs swathed
in brightly coloured robes and wacky shoes
danced on the edges of his awareness,
but he ignored them, still unwilling
to divert his attention from the only
one he cared about and wanted to see.
screw 'em, let them get their own
archaeologist," he purred, and bent
his head to kiss Daniel again.
Carter," Jack addressed his 2IC as
she emerged from the tower.
From the expression she was wearing
Jack figured his question was moot,
but it might be fun to ask. Besides, he wasn't
quite ready to begin attempting to
pry Daniel away from his new pals. He could spare Carter some venting time, giving Daniel
a few minutes more to visit.
the things he did for his kids.
you have fun in there?
Was it worth the wait?" he
asked the woman stomping disconsolately to
glared at him sourly before replying. "No Sir, as a matter
of fact it wasn’t.
Given their stated position on
not sharing their technology with races
using methods they don't approve of
us – " Jack interjected.
like us – I should have been known when
the Kathosians agreed quite readily to me
going in there to peek around.
shield had been turned off of course."
course," Jack nodded.
"So you're saying they only
let you go in there to see because
basically there was nothing there for you
Sam agreed with a rueful grin. "I mean the machines
are very – interesting looking, but
they're all featureless shapes."
butt-ugly lawn ornaments."
there's no exposed technology or
mechanisms to study.
No instrument panels, no readouts
– nothing. Just inert
blobs of – whatever.
And of course no clue as to how any
of it functions.
Not just by looking at it,
of course, they're not sharing." Jack
Sir, not a chance. As
long as we will insist on defending
ourselves by using methods that cause the
death of other living beings the
Kathosians will be keeping their secrets
Jack sighed sympathetically.
"But at least the reason we
don't make the grade this time – if
nothing else it's an original excuse. Kind of refreshing
for a change."
"Sir?" Sam glanced at him,
not getting it.
for variety we're being called too violent
instead of too primitive.
That's a step up in the insult
evolutionary ladder, don't you
Jack grinned at her.
"Are we making progress or
yeah, that's much better," Sam
big guy seems to be making a few new
friends over there," Jack commented,
inclining his head toward Teal'c. Their Jaffa team
mate, like Daniel, was several feet
away from them, conversing with a small
bunch of newly solidified Kathosians
who'd stuck around to schmooze with
the Tau'ri once most of the rest of
them – and damn, but there'd been a
bunch of them – had taken off to start
taking care of business.
A veritable horde of the recently
re-corporeal had trouped down the hill,
carrying a dizzying assortment of
containers Jack presumed they'd retrieved
from the underground caches, and had
headed for the nearest ruined city to do
– whatever it was they were currently
They had a hell of a job ahead of
them if they intended to rebuild what was
left of the place, but they didn't seem
the slightest bit perturbed by the
enormity of the task.
Naturally on behalf of the SGC
Daniel had offered them any aid and
assistance they might have needed,
but the head honcho had politely, almost
condescendingly declined. Kathos didn't need
any help from the SGC. Oh sure, they said that now, but they'd been singing a
different tune when their doohickey
had put the moves on his archaeologist.
anyway, there was Teal'c having a nice
chat with several new friends, all of
which were female, and not too hard on the
Friendly too, if Teal'c's reaction
was anything to go by.
The big guy evidently was having
such a good time he was almost smiling.
Interesting. Carter was grabbing
an eyeful of Teal'c's action, and what
was with 'the face' again? Her latest outward
indication of the 'I'm so not impressed'
mood she'd been in for most of this
lovely adventure was by far the scariest
to date. Jack
wondered what had set her off this
time. When you
added up all this mission's sour looks
Carter was by far the clear winner
in the pouting sweepstakes.
She had definitely left Daniel in
the dust for a change for pissiness, not
that that was a good thing.
Even if he wasn't madly in love
with her competition and therefore
admittedly biased he was nevertheless
still of the firm opinion extended lower
lippage didn't work nearly as well
for her as it did for his dearly beloved.
this particular face she was
presently presenting while scoping Teal'c
and his entourage was practically
guaranteed to spook a System Lord at
twenty paces. Yikes!
excuse me, Sir," Carter absently
tossed at him as she brushed past him and
stalked – yes stalked over to the group
watched uncomprehending as she elbowed her
way to his side and not-so -subtly joined
Well, whatever, none of his
business, he'd had more than enough fun
for one day.
The kids had had a chance to visit,
but it was time to go home. They could hang
around here and chew the fat 'til doomsday,
the Kathosians certainly didn't seem
to mind socialising with them, but
they weren't going to learn anything
the Pentagon would be interested in,
and the Earth wasn't going to get anything
out of this but smiles and pats on
the back for Team Tau'ri.
Schmoozing wasn't going to help
them defend the Earth and he'd rather be
using his mouth for something other than
Which also wasn't going to be
happening as long as they were standing
here, so it was time to pull the plug.
time to head back.
greeting smile told Jack he was not only
happy to see him but he wasn't going to
give him any grief about going.
Daniel," Jack began, reaching out to
pat him fondly on the shoulder.
"Are we having fun?"
Jack, Cephus has been telling me some
fascinating things about his people and
their culture," Daniel enthused,
pausing to flash a grateful glance at the
tall, serene man by his side.
regret we can offer you little else when
we owe you so much, but we are pleased to
satisfy Daniel's curiosity about us in
what ways we can," the Avantor of
Kathos announced with a graceful nod
of his head. "Ah,
my wife has returned."
brightened as a slender, dark-haired woman
wearing a shimmering emerald caftan and
a pleasant, rosy face emerged from
the tower and approached them, a black
oblong about the size and thickness
of a magazine tucked under her arm.
she reached his side Cephus put an
affectionate arm around her shoulders
smiling fondly while accepting the object
she passed to him.
is Aryna," he announced, proudly
presenting her to both Jack and Daniel. "She has prepared
a small token we of Kathos wish to
bestow upon our benefactor," he beamed
at Daniel extending the oblong to him. "It is a small thing,
but within our means to reward him
for his kindness and assistance in
a way we believe would be most pleasing
– you didn't have to do that,"
Daniel flushed with pleasure, hesitating
to extend a hand toward the offered
"I was happy to help."
we do not wish you to leave us completely
"Please?" he prompted
again, extending the thin black rectangle
closer to Daniel.
ahead," Jack nudged him in the ribs.
"I don't think it'll
shot him an assessing look and then
finally took the blank black slate. The instant he touched
it, columns of arcane figures and images
erupted on the formerly pristine surface.
gaped at it, his mouth hanging open, his
eyes dancing with delight as they devoured
the dense rows of alien script.
stories and culture and history,"
Cephus explained to Jack, as Daniel was
clearly momentarily incapable of speech.
"Much of what and who we are. Daniel expressed
a desire to know of us. This we can satisfy and wish to do so, as a way of expressing
our gratitude to our dear saviour."
is – this is – this is amazing!"
Daniel burbled, touching a spot on the
tablet and watching page after page of
squiggles scroll by.
There has to be an entire library
on this device!
It'll take me years to study all
is much," Cephus beamed.
"You are pleased?"
"Oh yes, very much!
Thank you, I don't know what to say
– I – oh wait a minute, I don't
understand," he looked down at the
tablet and then back up at Cephus and his
wife, his brow beetling with
can read this.
But that shouldn't be possible.
You said – and as far as I can
remember, the Mitron would only
leave the knowledge it gave me in my
mind long enough to complete the task
of repairing it.
And I've done it – so I shouldn't
be able – but I can."
basta vi agada ri tanrarho, Daniel,"
Aryna said to him, her kind, clear voice
one of the nicest things Jack had every
In fact, everything about these
people was just so damned nice he'd long
repented of every unkind thing he'd
previously thought about them and had
just about forgiven them everything
else to boot.
me," Daniel softly replied, his
cheeks crimson with pleasure.
Jack nudged him again, wanting into the
is a linguist," Cephus explained. "Words are his passion
and his pleasure. We
allowed him to keep the knowledge of our language, written
Another gift we could give him we
felt he would appreciate."
cool," Jack nodded approvingly.
"Good choice, too. Hey Daniel, that
makes twenty four!"
blue eyes swung his way.
You told me once you could speak
yeah," Daniel grinned.
I get it now."
He turned back to the Avantor and
his wife, their gift cradled close
to his chest, his face overflowing
with pleasure. "This
is – this is so amazing. I don't know what
to say. Thank
you doesn't seem to be nearly enough. But…"
looked down at the object in his arms, his
"But – I'm a little
I don't understand how I can have
this, or take it back with me in good
The scientists on my world will
want to study it, see what they can learn
from your technology.
Even if you didn't have a problem
with us doing that I doubt I'll be allowed
to keep this," he finished with a
scientists could try," Aryna and her
husband exchanged amused glances. "But I think it
will avail them little. Give the revpor to Jack," she kindly instructed.
go ahead, whatever," Jack shrugged
and held out his hand. After a dubious
glance at the Kathosian couple Daniel
passed the rectangle over to Jack.
instant Jack's fingers made contact with
the alien artefact all the writing
covering its surface disappeared, as if
the words had been sucked back into the
substance of the device, and it sat
inertly in Jack's grasp, blank,
unremarkable, nothing more now that a dead
sliver of who knew what.
knowingly at Cephus and Aryna, Jack handed
the rectangle back to Daniel.
look, there are the nifty words and
pictures back again," Jack nodded.
"Pretty slick. It'll only work
for him, right? Anyone
else touches it, it shuts off and plays
to see, no way to mess with it. No good to anyone
else but Daniel. Cool,"
he nodded approvingly.
gonna hate me for this," Daniel made
a show of pretending to be sorry of his
windfall but his eyes were brimming with
me, Daniel, enjoy it.
You earned it.
A little gloating might even be in
order for a change. Ah – never mind
making with the 'who me' look!" Jack
"I'm so not buying it.
Take my word for it," Jack
leaned toward the Kathosian couple
regarding them with unashamedly blatant
"Mr 'Big wide-eyed who me, I
never' over here loves a good gloat as
much as the next guy.
Which is usually me. He'll rub it in
all right and have a damned fine chuckle
while he's doing it."
cup of happiness was currently overflowing
which Jack knew, from past experience
meant Daniel would be busting to share
it all over him later. Which further meant
he was in for one hell of a pleasure-packed
evening, so what was he doing
still standing here talking to these
people? As nice
as they were, they had nothing on
Daniel when he was happy, horny and
then, who did?
folks, it's been swell, but you've got a
ton of stuff to do and we should let you
get to it, so if you don't mind I'll
be taking my kids home now."
don't suppose you're interested in the
whole – allies – thing," Daniel
asked, making the pitch as he knew he was
obligated to, but confident of its
in the way your government would
wish," Cephus replied, letting him
down kindly but firmly.
"We cannot supply you with the
means or aid you in any action or
circumstance requiring us to be party to
actions violating our principles and
But we can be your friends. Rest assured, we
will not forget you, or your world. You are a young
race, but one of much promise. We have high hopes
for you. We
will be watching."
sure you're going to be okay?" Daniel
asked, genuinely concerned.
"You have so much to do, an
entire world to rebuild – you're going
to be all right?"
will be now, Daniel," Cephus assured
him as he hugged his wife.
"Thanks to you."
took a little more coaxing and pulling but
it wasn't much longer before Jack
succeeded in extricating his team from the
personable and compelling Kathosians. SG-1 said their
good-byes, there was much hugging and
waving and more than a few moist eyes
– on both sides – and then the four
of them began their descent of the
hill, their departure saluted by the
Kathosians remaining atop the hill,
watching them go.
in all, it had been a damned fine day. One or two scary
bits, but Jack had to admit he felt
pretty good, even if he had had the
crap scared out of him there, several
times. It had
all worked out, that was the main thing,
and it was obvious to the tired, but
contented colonel the other members
of his team were similarly inclined
to be smugly satisfied with the way
this particular mission had gone down.
for a change, to have nothing more taxing
ahead of them than a gentle descent to the
gate and home.
Jack was feeling so mellow he felt
like sharing. As well as satisfying
a few lingering wisps of curiosity
he hadn't been able to follow up on,
what with the business formerly at
hand requiring him to table all non-relevant
stopping him from following up now,
Carter," he suddenly quipped as the
foursome reached the bottom of the hill. "You spent the night
in the mountain.
So you didn't take the slinky
black number you were wearing out on
the town after all?"
Sir," Sam answered.
sucked into another science trap, huh? Couldn't just let
it go and walk away?"
I don't know what I was thinking,
the dress went to waste," Jack said
consolingly. "You looked
pretty good. I
think I said that before, did I say
believe you did, O'Neill," Teal'c
observed from his position at the head of
"To which I must add, I
to think of it, so did you, big guy,"
Jack called ahead to him.
"Was that a new hat you were
are very observant, O'Neill.
It was indeed.
It was a present from a friend
who informed me it was most becoming."
definitely had a certain je ne sais
quoi," Daniel agreed with a grin.
am unfamiliar with that phrase,
"What does it mean?"
don't know what," Daniel absently
you are uncertain as to its meaning then
why do you use it?"
– that's not what I
- I mean, I know what it means. I don't know what,"
Daniel protested, trying to explain.
do not understand," Teal'c persisted.
yadda and who's on first," Jack
He wasn't finished with Carter yet.
if it would not seem to you to be too presumptuous,
I'd like to give you some advice, if
I may," Jack started to explain as
they approached the DHD. "No really," he
continued, ignoring the looks Daniel
was shooting him.
"I hope you don't think I'm
out of line, here, but if you don't
mind me saying so, don't you think
it's time you put down the crystals
and reactors, and – well, just gave
the whole – science thing – a miss
now and again? You
tried the other night, I'll give you
that, made a good start, but you gotta
follow through. Just
say no to the doohickey of the
day or whatever, your gizmo is going
to be there in the morning, or whenever
you get back to it, but that shot at
a good, hot time, well, it might not
me, I know, life is short, Carter, every
once and awhile, just put that puppy down
and walk away, you know you have to get
right out there and just grab –
fervent exhortation was abruptly
interrupted as Daniel started to giggle. He lowered his head
and increased his stride, pulling ahead
of both Sam and Teal'c, shooting them
a sidewise glance as he passed them,
which only seemed to make him giggle
Jack stopped walking for a moment,
watching Daniel reach the DHD and drape
himself over it, nearly splitting his
And if that wasn't weird enough,
Sam was starting to snort as well and
Teal'c was definitely looking tickled.
what's so funny?"
Jack sourly demanded, resuming his
former forward motion.
Daniel howled anew, by now so
incapacitated with laughter the DHD
beneath him propping him up was the
only reason he was still on his feet. Sam and Teal'c had
joined him and whatever the hell the
three of them were guffawing about
they were all in on it.
"What?" Jack snapped once
more, unable to shake the feeling whatever
was going on with his kids, that joke
they were so happily laughing their
asses off about was in fact, on him.
well, so what else was new?
to Part One
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