Kicking Up Dust

 

The

Anunnaki Unification

A Stargate SG-1 Fan Fiction Story

 

Book 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Michele Briere

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fan fiction. The Stargate universe and characters belong to the people and agencies listed in the Acknowledgments. All other characters belong to the author, Michele Briere.

 

 

 

Copyright © 2015 Michele Briere

All rights reserved.

ISBN-13: 978-1530145676

ISBN-10: 1530145678


Acknowledgements

 

All characters except those of the Stargate SG-1 universe belong to me. The characters and universe of Stargate SG-1 do not belong to me. All rightful credits can be found here at the IMDB on the Stargate SG-1 page which reads: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118480/companycredits?ref_=tt_dt_co

 

Production Companies

Double Secret Productions

Gekko Film Corp.

Kawoosh! Productions IX (season 9)

Kawoosh! Productions VII

MGM Worldwide Television Productions

Sony Pictures Television (2005-2006)

Stargate SG-1 Production (II) Inc.

Distributors

MGM Worldwide Television (1997-2006) (World-wide) (all media) (sales)

MGM Domestic Television Distribution (1997-2005) (USA) (TV)

Sony Pictures Television (2005-2006) (USA) (TV)

Showtime Networks (1997-2002) (USA) (TV) (original airing) (seasons 1-5)

Sci-Fi Channel, The (2002-2006) (USA) (TV) (original airing) (seasons 6-10)

MGM/UA Home Entertainment (2001-2006) (USA) (DVD)

CanWest Global Television Network (1997-2004) (Canada) (TV) (original airing)

Chum Television (2004-2006) (Canada) (TV) (original airing)

CITY-TV (Canada) (TV) (repeats)

Sky One (1998-2006) (UK) (TV) (original airing) (repeats)

Channel 4 Television Corporation (1999-) (UK) (TV)

AXN (2007-) (Hungary) (TV) (repeats)

Audio Visual Enterprises (1998) (Greece) (VHS)

Image Entertainment (USA) (DVD) (laserdisc)

MGM Home Entertainment (2003-2005) (Germany) (DVD)

OnTV / CH (all media)

RTL2 (1999-) (Germany) (TV)

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (2005-) (Germany) (DVD)

TV6 (2008-) (Estonia) (TV) (re-release)

TV6 (2011) (Hungary) (TV) (re-release)

Veronica (2004-2008) (Netherlands) (TV)

Special Effects

Atmosphere Visual Effects

Enigma Animation Productions Inc. (digital effects)

Gajdecki Visual Effects (GVFX) (digital effects)

Image Engine Design (special effects)

Northwest Imaging & FX (digital effects)

Northwestern Effects Group Ltd. (prosthetic and animatronic effects)

Pinnacle Post (digital effects)

Rainmaker Animation & Visual Effects (visual effects)

Rainmaker Digital Pictures (digital effects)

SPIN West VFX

Smoke and Mirrors

Solstice Imaging

Steve Johnson's XFX

Other Companies

Act One Script Clearance (script research)

David Cowan Enterprises Inc. (computer engineering)

Department of Defense (we gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of)

Department of the Air Force (we gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of)

Energy Film (stock footage)

Gastown Post and Transfer (post-production services)

Rainmaker Digital Pictures (post-production services)

Sharpe Sound Studios (re-recorded by)

Stargate SG-1 Productions Limited Partnership (production services provided by)

U.S. Space Command (we gratefully acknowledge the cooperation of)

 


 

Preface

 

These chapters were written during Seasons 7-10 of Stargate: SG-1. Because of this, some aspects of the story, such as same-sex marriage, are not yet legal. Please overlook these aspects; if I changed it now, a lot more would have to be changed.

This is fan-fiction. The characters of Stargate, and the alternate universe of Stargate do not belong to me, I’m only borrowing them. The Anunnaki belong to themselves, but I borrowed them, too; so far, they haven’t complained. The rest of the characters are mine. I also made up my own original First Flight astronauts, instead of using the real ones. This is not a slight against our heroes, only respect to not use them in a fictional situation.

This story follows our SG-1 team on continuing adventures of life, love, and their irritation of a certain Goa’uld. This story contains pairings of straight and gay partners, as well as our threesome of Jack/Sam/Daniel, so if you are easily offended, don’t read this. If you are under age, you’ve been warned: I don’t want to hear from your mama about this. The smut has been removed in this version, as well as a few other scenes changed and added. This was written when I was still making a lot of mistakes, so I’ve done my best to fix them.

There’s a lot of gay talk in this mainly because, at the time this was written, there was a lot of coverage in the news about gays in the military, as well as religion being forced onto military personnel, and problems at the Air Force Academy, so there’s a great deal of commentary on these subjects. I’m giving my own two-cents on those subjects.

No profit is intended on this story. I wanted to make it available to people in a portable format, and the prices of these books are the lowest I was allowed to set them with CreateSpace and Kindle.

Note: There are a few lyrics in this, so thanks to Shinedown and John Hiatt. Information was borrowed from the United Nations website. There are probably a few others I need to mention, but for the life of me, I can’t think of them.

Writers need love, too, so feel free to drop me an email at michele.briere@gmail.com!


 

Table of Contents

 

 

 

 

Acknowledgements. 3

Preface. 6

Chapter 1. 1

Chapter 2. 31

Chapter 3. 53

Chapter 4. 85

Chapter 5. 104

Chapter 6. 135

Chapter 7. 166

Chapter 8. 197

Chapter 9. 221

Chapter 10. 248

Chapter 11. 276

 

 



Chapter 1

 

The morning on Cheyenne Mountain, just outside of Colorado Springs, was rich with the smell of fertile soil and pine trees. A nearby elk was braying its own brand of wake-up call which echoed throughout the forest. The neighbors didn’t know it, yet, but they forgot to lock down their metal garbage bin and the raccoons were taking advantage of it. Soon, their yard would be strewn with cans, boxes, and food wrapping. The critters were cute, although they do make a mess.

Being a military town, more people than usual were up at such an early hour. Jack scowled at a piece of junk mail, wondering how it got through the military firewall that he had set up on his home computer. The subject line caught his attention, though; “Jackson” was all it said. He contemplated opening it, but he didn’t know the sender. What did Daniel do now?

“Sam!” he called. She came into his study, still barefoot, in her sleeping shorts and t-shirt. He took the cup from her hand and pointed at the screen as he took a sip. She frowned at it and pushed him out of his seat. She did several things to the computer, all of which Jack didn’t even try to understand.

“I don’t find any viruses, Trojans, or worms attached to it,” she finally said. “Want to open it?” He gave a nod and she opened the email. They stared at the image that was attached. They tilted their heads, trying to get the angles.

Jack cleared his throat. “Flexible,” he commented.

“And there is a Trojan attached,” Sam said, pointing. Jack scowled at her, his face slightly red. He picked up the phone and dialed.

“Good morning, Danny,” he sang sweetly.

Daniel was instantly awake and suspicious. “What’d I do?”

“Check your email.” Jack hung up and forwarded the email. He waited. The phone rang minutes later.

“I can explain!” Daniel insisted, panicking.

“Daniel, I don’t care who you sleep with; you may want to consider shutting the drapes, though. I know moonlight fun is nice, but think of the innocent peeping-toms. That picture looks like it was taken from outside your window. You boys play nice, I’ll see you later. Interesting position, though, you’ll need to tell me how you got into it. I feel something breaking just looking at it.” He hung up.

“After being terrorized by you first thing in the morning, playing is the last thing he’s going to be able to do,” Sam snickered after he hung up.

“Oh, I think he’ll ‘play’ just fine,” Jack said. “If nothing more than to throw a finger at me. What actually concerns me is who has my private email and what do they hope to gain from this? Granted Major Davis has a hell of a lot to lose, but no one is going to care what Daniel does, least of all us.”

“Already on it,” Sam said. “I sent a sniffer out to trace the email.”

“I love you for your brains, you know that, right?” Jack asked.

She grinned up at him. “You better. Wanna try that position?”

Later in the morning, Jack woke up with a start. The room came into focus and he groaned, burying his face in the pillow. A soft leg gave a rub to the backs of his hairy ones.

“What’s wrong?” Sam asked against his back. She planted her mouth between his shoulder blades for a moment.

“Nothing,” he said. “Don’t remember.”

Sam didn’t comment on his racing heart under her ear. He turned and she waited until he was settled before leaning on her elbow and looking at him as she toyed with the hair on his chest. She kissed him softly, tasting herself on his lips.

“Are you sure?” she asked. He nodded, bringing her down for a hug. “I want to ask you something.” She leaned up a few minutes later to look at him.

“Hmm?”

“Don’t get upset, just answer, okay?” He nodded, blinking away the sleep. “Do you ever think of Daniel…. like that?”

Jack stared at her. “What… why would you ask something like that?” His heart skipped a beat and started to race.

“Because you said his name and it wasn’t the first time,” she replied.

“I didn’t!” he protested, struggling to get up.

Sam held him down. “You did, Jack, and this was the third time,” she informed him. “Honey, it doesn’t bother me. If it were anyone else, I’d zat your balls off, but he doesn’t threaten me. You need to be aware that you’re doing it, though. If there is a part of you that sees him in a sexual light, tell me. He’s hot, I certainly wouldn’t blame you. Just talk to me.”

Jack pushed up and out of the bed. The shower came on a moment later. Sam sighed, knowing this was going to be a long, drawn out fight with one stubborn general. He was hiding something. It was the weekend, though, and they weren’t going anywhere.

Sam ignored the silence and worked on her motorcycle. Twice Jack came out, stopped, looked as though he was going to speak, then turned and went back to the deck at the back of the house. Sam waited. Admitting to something not completely straight was a difficult thing for someone like Jack. She had no doubt about his feelings for her, or for women in general for that matter, the old dog, but she had a feeling something about Daniel hit him upside the head in a surprise turn of events and Jack didn’t take to surprises very well.

Seeing Daniel in an intimate embrace with Major Davis certainly surprised her, yet the fact that they were together wasn’t completely unexpected after seeing them ‘spark’ during the wedding reception. She did wonder if the boys were serious or if they were just fooling around; it was hard to tell with Daniel.

“Sam, would you come inside?”

She looked up. It was time.

“Sure.” She wiped her hands on a filthy cloth and followed him in. He went into the study and opened the drawer he usually kept locked on his desk. Sam knew it contained personal files on various top-secret subjects. She even had the spare key in case something happened to him. He wasn’t supposed to have the files, but all the higher-ups had shadows for home use.

His face was white, his hand shaking slightly as he handed her a file, not looking at her eyes. She took it, looking at him, as he left the room. After a moment, she sat behind his desk and opened the folder.

An hour later she sat back, shocked. She didn’t realize she had been crying until a droplet hit the papers. Jack came in and put a sandwich in front of her before sitting.

“It doesn’t matter what I feel,” he said. He bit into his tuna fish, the fresh lettuce making a crunch in the quiet room. “I won’t be doing anything about it.”

Sam couldn’t look at her lunch as she sat, staring at the evidence photos, silently crying.

Wh…. what do you need from me?” she finally asked, barely able to speak. She swiped a hand across her cheeks and eyes.

“Nothing,” Jack said. “Just love me and let this go.” He had darkness around him, boxing the pain and memories inside. Most of the pain was gone, turned into something not much more than facts of the past, thanks to his time with his shrink. Between that experience, followed by the death of his son Charlie years later, Jack had been a mess when he first showed up, reluctantly, at the SGC. When General Hammond took over, he insisted that Jack get proper grief counseling. Jack could have told the general where to stick his counseling and walk out the door back to his retirement, but something compelled him to stay.

She nodded and gathered the papers, replacing them neatly into the folder. She threw it across the room; the file hit the bookcase, sending papers all over the hardwood floor.

“I’ve done that more times than I can count,” Jack said. Sam got up and left the room, returning to her motorcycle. It was his turn to give space and wait it out, so he finished his sandwich before getting up to tackle the loose hinge on a kitchen cabinet.

A short time later, the door opened. Jack sat on the ground behind Sam and pulled her into his arms. She turned in his legs, curling into a ball, and hid her face in his shoulder, letting go. He held her, said nothing, waiting for the storm to pass.

She sniffed into his t-shirt and lifted it, wiped her face on the edge, and lowered it back into place. Jack smiled slightly and pressed his mouth to the top of her head.

“I don’t want you to do anything different,” he said into her hair. “Don’t BE different. Alright?”

He lifted her head and looked at her. His brown eyes were haunted, fighting memories he wanted to forget.

“I’m fine,” he insisted. “I see the shrink once in a great while, usually after Baal beats the crap out of me or some alien invades me. Hammond knows, which is why he usually gave us a little extra time after we got back from a few of those missions. I was either on the phone with the shrink or at his office. I made Hammond a promise I would do that after bad scenes. Between Charlie’s death and my time in the Iraqi prison, I was a mess. Dr. Edmonds specializes in grief counseling for military personnel; he’s been cleared for our own special needs. He’s been trying to get me to discuss this with you; he wants us in for couples counseling, if you’re up for it.”

He stroked the tears from her cheeks and touched her lips.

“Daniel was a surprise,” he said softly. “I honestly don’t know what I would have done about it if I hadn’t fallen in love with you. I had never thought about another man before, but there was something about him. At first, I thought I was getting my paternal ya-ya’s out with him; I am old enough to be his father, as much as it pains me to admit it. After a while, though…. I’m sorry I spoke his name while we made love; I don’t remember consciously thinking about him. I’ll try not to do it again.

“I know who I’m with, Sam,” he promised her, holding her face between his hands as he stared into her eyes. “I love you. You turn me on in more ways than I have ever been turned on. It nearly killed me every time you kissed another man, and I had to restrain myself from zatting Pete into non-existence. We couldn’t be together and I wanted to see you happy, so…. I think I would have preferred you be with Martouf or Narim, if they had lived, rather than Pete, honey.”

Sam sniffed and ducked her face, holding a wrist to her nose as she laughed. He smiled and brushed the hair from her face.

“Actually, I would have walked you down the aisle myself, if Daniel was waiting for you.”

She stopped smiling and looked at him. He was serious. “I kissed him once,” she said. He leaned back to look at her, surprised. “It was an experiment. We tried fanning up a flame, but nothing happened. He kisses very well, and he knows how to hold a woman; we ended up watching a movie with Ben and Jerry.”

“Uh huh.” Jack studied her. “So. I guess we won’t be inviting him over for a threesome?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” she murmured, toying with a strand of hair peeking from Jack’s shirt. “We could have been nervous thinking of our mean old colonel looking over our shoulders. He’s comfortable, smells good, tastes good, certainly fills out his jeans nicely and now I know why after seeing that picture, which I’m making into a desk-top background, by the way….”

Sam screeched in laughter as Jack knocked her backwards onto the ground.

 

***

Next morning….

With the Stargate being active and not tuned to human sleep schedules, and aliens popping in without warning, the SGC at Cheyenne Mountain was a 24/7/365 business. Military and civilians roamed the halls at all hours, greeting co-workers with ‘good mornings’ or ‘good evenings’ as the case may be.

A good deal of Colorado Springs knew that something was happening at the Mountain, something other than Santa tracking at NORAD, which was housed at the top levels of the Mountain above the SGC. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, run on a joint command of the US and Canada, was decommissioned, so why were so many people still employed there? Towns in Nevada near Groom Lake, locals knew better than to ask such questions. The government could be counted on to waste money, but not on decommissioned military bases.

Things tended to be a little laid back in the evenings, until the general got in, which picked up the pace of everyone else still on duty. General O’Neill’s wife, Colonel Carter, was on the hunt for a certain nerd-boy they all knew and loved. Jack wished her good hunting, recognizing that look of determination on her face. Daniel had checked in with the guards at the gate up top, so he was in the mountain somewhere. Seeing him turn a corner in the hall, Sam hustled to catch up. She snuck up behind Daniel and slid her arm through his. Startled, he looked down and immediately flushed at the twinkling blue eyes.

“Oh God, don’t start,” he begged, throwing his head back and dragging his feet. He went into his office with her in tow. Someone looking through the shelves of artifacts saw Sam, and panicked, and made a move to escape.

“Down, Major,” Sam ordered, pointing at a chair as Daniel wilted onto his own chair. Davis sat, his face, too, reddening. Sam stood, looking at the two guilty boys.

“So.”

Daniel’s head fell to the desk with a thud and he whimpered under his breath. “Paul, there is nothing the Goa’uld can dish out that compares to interrogation à la Carter,” came the information from the desk top.

“Daniel, I’m hurt,” Sam pouted. “Touched by your confidence in me, but hurt. Now tell me –are you boys serious or just fooling around?”

Daniel cried out in pain and fell back in his chair. “I knew it!” he cried, his blue eyes scrunched closed. “She’s like a terrier with a cornered cat. If I tell you we’re just having a little fun, will you go away?” He opened one eye and peeked at her, his dimples deep as he winced, waiting for her reply.

She pursed her lips, thinking. “I like the terrier and cat thing,” she said thoughtfully. “You are pet-able.” She stroked his hair and gave his ear a scratch. “Does he purr, Major?”

Davis, not having a real reason to even be in Colorado, much less at the SGC and so expecting to be reprimanded, found himself unexpectedly entertained. “Actually, he does, Colonel,” he admitted.

Daniel sat up, indignant, glaring at Davis. “Traitor.”

“I said nothing about your purr spots. Like the one at the back of your neck. He stretches like a cat, too,” Davis offered. He wondered if he would get a spanking out of his cheekiness.

“That I do know,” Sam said, waving a finger in the air. “Off-world camp-outs. And he’s very funny until he’s had his first cup of coffee,” she continued. “Drops about 100 IQ points without caffeine.”

Daniel moaned and hung like dead weight off his chair. Sam snickered and kissed his forehead.

“Briefing room in ten,” she reminded him. “Oh, I traced the email. Jack is dealing with it.”

She lifted Daniel’s head and pushed his hair aside. He needed a haircut again. There was a small bruise on the back of his neck. “Uh huh,” she said and turned to leave.

“No, wait!” Daniel called out. “Who sent the email?”

“The general is dealing with it,” she said firmly. Daniel knew that tone; the colonel was on duty and he’d get nothing out of her.

“Are we in trouble?” Davis asked when she was gone. Working at the Pentagon for General Vidrine, the SGCs adviser on weapons and technology, he would get heat, if any fallout came their way. Daniel was a civilian; he could get away with more.

“No,” Daniel said. “We’ll be harassed for a while, but we're not in trouble.”

Ten minutes later, Daniel winced inwardly as he entered the conference room. Jack sat at the head of the table, smiling pleasantly. Jack wasn’t generally a smiley kind of person, so a smiling Jack signaled danger. He was dressed in BDUs and a black t-shirt instead of his usual office uniform.

“Good morning, Daniel. Major Davis,” he greeted them. Sam stopped a grin from forming. Jack crooked a finger at Daniel who reluctantly shuffled forward. Jack twirled the finger and Daniel turned. His hair was brushed aside.

“Big mouth,” Daniel informed Sam.

“That’s okay,” Jack said, shooing Daniel away. “You should see where she left one on me.”

Sam squeaked.

“And I think I sprained something when she finally got me into that position. Be that as it may, a glorious day has been planned for you kids,” he informed them, clasping his hands together and squeezing them. “And yes, Major Davis will be joining us with the blessings of General Vidrine.” Davis looked startled. “Major, welcome to SG-1; I know you’ve already received a warm welcome from one of our crew. I give you a warm welcome, also, but not that warm. Sorry.” Davis flushed.

“How afraid should we be?” Daniel asked, feeling the heat run across his own face. Jack was going to milk that photo for all its worth.

“Very,” Jack was pleased to inform him. “We are taking a few wanna-be’s out for a test-drive. It seems a few ranking officers in the Pentagon have made a bargain with the devil himself and I’m not talking about Sokar. I’m talking General Maynard. The general consensus, no pun intended, is that we’ve been padding our reports.” He allowed the eruption to continue for a moment before holding up his hand for silence.

“I’m tired of arguing with them,” he said. “Our trainees are: General Maynard himself, not that he doubts us, he just wants a little firsthand knowledge of what we go up against on a daily basis so that he can argue our case more effectively with the naysayers. Others are all tied to the Pentagon in one way or another and have been briefed on the SGC for years, waiting for the opportunity to take down alien baddies: General Robert Allegash, Colonel Edward Philips, Colonel Mike Crawford and don’t even think about Phantom jokes, a few specially chosen from the ranks, and just for fits and giggles, I sent a personal invitation to a couple of wrenches to toss into the works –Jonas and Nate.”

Sam and Daniel looked at him wide-eyed. “Oh, my,” they breathed. Of all the ‘wrenches’ Jack could have pulled from his pockets…

“Yes, my young clone is tickled pink,” Jack assured him. “I could hear the wheels grinding away when I told him about this. And not even Maynard knows about him other than I had a surprise appearance a couple years ago from an oops in my past, as my personnel file states. The particulars about Jonas and Nate will be kept secret unless one of the trainees figures it out. And best of all?” he looked expectantly at them.

“None of our trainees are allowed to pull rank on us. SGC holds the final decisions. Major, this is probably the only opportunity you will have to boss around your bosses and I have a guarantee that no retribution will visit you. They are all temporarily busted down to Sergeants. I think I’ll give the first KP detail to Allegash. Man’s been is a pain in my patoot since we went through basic together.”

“You coming with us?” Sam asked, grinning from ear to ear.

“Yes, Colonel Snookums, I am,” he said, thoroughly pleased with himself.

“Uh, sir?” Davis raised his hand.

“The Chair recognizes Major Davis,” Jack called out, giving him a wave to continue. Daniel and Sam looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

“Thank you, sir. Not to be the one to throw a wrench of my own, but…. Those people are all in key positions, as you say. Accidents happen, especially out there. We can’t afford to lose them.”

“Yes, accidents do happen,” Jack agreed. “I invited a few friends to help us out, not to worry. Colonel Reynolds will be assisting us, and Jonas is already here. Jonas will be attached to SG-3 as their resident geek with the blessings of his immediate supervisor, Dr. Jackson. So kind, Daniel, thank you.” Daniel waved a negligent hand at him, although this was the first he heard of it. “We’re going to let them figure Nate out for themselves. Our new recruits have been briefed and think we are taking them on a survival field-trip on a planet we’ve never been to, which should make things more interesting considering the fact that we really haven’t been there before. They don’t believe that we continually fall into things out there. I guess planet hopping is supposed to be cut and dried. Between Daniel and Jonas, we should be able to show them a good time. I have faith in you, Danny. They are getting dressed appropriately, so you kids skedaddle down to the locker room, be in the gate room in one hour.”

Colonel Reynolds, the leader of SG-3, greeted Daniel and Davis as they entered the locker room, and introduced them to their ‘trainees’. Crawford and Allegash had sat behind desks too long, as evidenced by the pull of their BDUs. Most of the military had no need for larger clothing, so Teal'c's locker was raided for t-shirts. The big guy was all muscle, there were a lot of muscles to fill the shirts, so they fit through the shoulders alright; the waist, on the other hand... The generals, except Maynard, had grumbled a little at having a civilian along, not understanding why Daniel couldn't do his job at his own desk. If something needed to be deciphered, pictures and video could be sent back to him. It didn't seem to occur to them that Daniel also knew how to fire a gun. Since they weren't off-world, yet, Reynolds held his tongue. Besides, Daniel didn't need anyone to speak up for him; he was quite capable of speaking for himself when he wanted to.

Just as Daniel was tying his bootlaces, the door burst open and a figure ran in, dodged several men, and hid in the showers. SG 1 and 3 were deaf and blind to the episode as their recruits craned their heads from two teams to the ghost in the shower and back again. A second later, the door slammed opened again and Jack stood in the doorway, scowling.

“Where is he?” he demanded, holding up the door frame. A zat was in his right hand. General Maynard knew what it was; the others didn’t. Not yet, anyway.

“Where is who, Jack?” Daniel replied calmly, fixing a stubborn lace. He stood, turned, and planted his booted foot on the bench, bending for a closer look.

“That little…..” Jack growled, hissed, and snarled.

“I speak twenty-three languages, Jack, pick one.”

Jack bit off a curse and shut the door. Reynolds and his team were silently snickering while the others looked around the room at Daniel for an explanation.

“You’ve been here, what? Five minutes?” Daniel called out. “What’d you do?”

The figure in the shower stuck his head out, looking around. Finding his pursuer gone, he came out.

“I didn’t do anything,” he insisted. Nate's voice had begun to lower itself into Jack's familiar baritone. “All I said was that he’d better bring me home in one piece or Cassie would skin him. He asked what I had to do with Cass and I reminded him that I moved in with her.”

Daniel paused in strapping his holster to his thighs and looked at the teenager. “You did what?”

Nate crossed his arms in a familiar stance and stared at Daniel. “Don’t give me that look,” he said. “You know damned well she and I have been dating.”

Nooo,” Daniel shook his head. There was something creepy about the thought of Jack's teenage clone dating the girl they rescued years earlier from another planet. “Last I heard, Cassandra said she was getting serious about someone named Jonathan. She said nothing about living with anyone. Since neither you –NATE- nor Jack ever use Jonathan for anything other than parking tickets, you can see why the information that you are sexually active with a young lady he adores as his own favorite niece may have thrown him for a loop.”

Nate stared at him. An odd look crossed his face, something Daniel had never seen before. “Alright, I’ll concede that one,” he reluctantly admitted and went to Jack’s locker for BDUs and a t-shirt; he could now wear Jack’s clothes even though they were a little baggy around his coltish long legs. Jack tended to wear his clothes loose, anyway, so Nate didn’t care. “He really needs to chill out, though; he’s going to give himself a heart attack.”

Daniel chuckled. “This isn’t his first surprise this weekend, give him a break.”

Nate striped the civvies off and started to dress. He grinned at Daniel. “What’d you do?”

“Tell you later. And you’ll need to tell Sam, since she’s been mothering Cassandra since Janet died.” Nate grimaced, preferring to duke it out with Jack.

“Dr. Jackson?”

He looked over at Maynard who nodded his head at Nate with an inquiring look.

“Oh, sorry, sir,” Daniel said. “Everyone, this is Nate O’Neill. Jack is bringing him along as a form of self-torture.” SG-3 snickered again.

“Ha-ha,” Nate dryly responded. He pulled his hair back and bound the dark blond strands together with a thin piece of leather lace. The others stared at the eighteen year old version of the general. With long hair and an earring. Knowing what this particular SG team was capable of, Davis had an idea of who Nate was going through his head as he stared at the general’s teenage replica.

“General O’Neill is taking his civilian son off-world?” Allegash questioned, his expression saying it all.

Daniel nodded. “It’s a long story,” he said. “Nate is cleared for it. And we need to get a move-on, people. Gate room in ten.”

The gate room was surrounded with extra guards to assist with their high-ranking guests. They had all seen videos of the gate in action, but only Maynard had been to see it in person prior to their current visit. The room had been pretty bare, the last time the gate was taped for the higher-ups, and now it was decorated with flags and a fresh coat of paint. The paint really was needed, since the room had been torn apart in a fire-fight a week earlier when a group of mercenaries followed SG-12 back through the gate.

“Wind 'er up, Walter!” Jack called out.

The gate began to dial out, the large wheel with the sigils locking in to their coordinates like a combination lock. Once the wormhole was established, SGC personnel took pride in the looks of awe on the faces of the newbies as the event horizon whooshed and settled into place.

Jonas, who had spent a year working with SG-1, repenting his actions after accidentally getting Daniel killed, was up in the control booth talking with Walter. He ran down to join the teams, grasping forearms with those he knew, his usual grin locked into place. Allegash, Crawford, and Colins were sure they were at the mercy of idiots. Maynard should have replaced the SGC personnel long ago with competent people. Soldiers. Military that knew how to behave like military.

Sam was glaring at Nate. “Oh, shit,” Nate muttered. Sam cocked her zat. Nate ran for the wormhole with Sam hot on his heels.

“Dead meat, O’Neill!” she yelled, running into the wormhole after him. Jack smiled evilly and ushered the troops after her.

“Ah, family reunions,” Daniel said, clasping Jonas on the shoulder. When they came out on the other side, Sam was chasing Nate across the open field in front of three highly amused Jaffa, all of them cheering Sam on.

“She’s a big girl, Sam!”

“She’s a baby!”

“She’s twenty!”

“You’re two-years-old and she’s still a baby!”

“I’m eighteen and she’s MY baby!”

The zat discharged and Nate fell. Sam stood over him, scratched her foot in the dirt, and snorted at his body before stomping back to the group. Teal’c, Bre’tac, and Rya’c, cheered and bowed to her.

“I shudder to think what would happen if she and Jack have kids and a boy comes to the door asking for their daughter,” Daniel commented. SGC people shuddered in sympathy.

“She’ll be in a nunnery before that happens,” Jack said, going to kick some life into Nate’s stunned body.

“Is this normal?” Maynard asked, leaning over toward Daniel. The first-timers were all shaking off the freezing frost that covered them from head to foot. The SG personnel looked perfectly fine, no frost at all. Jonas helpfully told them that it only happened the first few times. Once their bodies got used to gate-travel, they would adjust.

As they shook off the frost and tried to get heat back into their bodies, they looked around, blinking at the strange sky, swatting at alien insects, and looking at the grass that wasn’t quite as green as they were used to. A winged creature, somewhat bird-like, flew over-head, its eyes cast down at the strangers who didn’t smell right. The purple-ish trees in the distance waved gently in the slight breeze.

Daniel shrugged at Maynard's question. “Not really; but then we usually don’t have Nate with us. The very act of his breathing tends to provoke Jack. Don’t worry; Nate will be fine; it wears off in a few minutes. It’s the second shot directly after the first that kills. Jack and Sam will calm down. In a few days.”

Their trainees all looked dubious as they watched Jack planting a boot on the boy’s behind.

“Teal’c!” Reynolds called out. He clasped forearms with their combat master and introduced Teal’c to his new trainees. Teal’c glared at the men, daring them to twitch. No one twitched.

“I am Teal’c; I will be your combat master. This is Master Bre’tac,” Teal’c informed them, gesturing to the older man. “He is my mentor. He is the greatest of warriors. You will obey him or answer to me. This is Rya’c, my son; he has earned his place among warriors.” Teal’c marched up and down in front of the men, sneering at them. “Humans are weak,” he pronounced. “When you return home, if you return home, you will not be weak.”

The SGC personnel were proud of Teal’c performance and were prepared to shout out a semper fi in honor of it. The trainees were glaring at Teal’c; incredulous that he would call the best America had to offer weak.

Jack walked to Teal’c side as Nate staggered to the group, stretching out the kinks in his stunned muscles.

“You will notice that you have numbers on your jackets,” Jack pointed out to them. “That number is your team. SG-1 and SG-3. SG-1 is the first contact team; SG-3 is the first of our Marines, first in combat. That sigil is the symbol for Earth. You will find that sigil on all the DHDs on every planet that has a stargate. The DHD is the dial home device. We don’t get home without it. We may be made up of American military personnel at the moment, but we represent the entire planet. We are the Tau’ri; aliens don’t care about states, countries, or politics. That sigil is Tau’ri, and the Goa’uld, the bad-asses that we are fighting, recognizes it as such. There will be no American flags planted on alien soil, gentlemen, we are not out here to conquer, we are here to gain allies.

“We normally have only one squad on a playing field, one squad to walk into a new situation and meet new folks. Just one, people. Four highly specialized and trained people. Today we have five squads. You will remain in squads at all times and you will learn to work together in this unknown environment. You may be split up at various times into different squads, but you will always return to home base. When you are not in combat training, you will be given specific duties by your CO’s.” The men didn’t look happy with the lecture, and everyone except Maynard was biting their tongues to keep from snapping at him.

“A special request by our allies the Asgard has been made. It seems they’ve been missing a few friends for about a thousand years. Yes, one thousand years. The Asgard have a long lifespan. This planet used to be a post belonging to a bad-ass Goa’uld named Ra; although he is dead, we don’t know if any traps were left, so watch where you step. The Asgard have great faith in Dr. Jackson; if he can’t find where these people went, no one will. Not to put any pressure on you, Daniel. Everyone will be assisting Dr. Jackson.” Daniel squeezed his eyes shut for a moment and pinched the bridge of his nose.

“Main squads are: Allegash, Philips, Gaafar, Colins with SG-1,” Jack informed them. “Maynard, Crawford, Shan, Levin with SG-3. Colonel Carter is in charge of SG-1 with Major Davis as her second, Dr. Jackson as their specialist, and Nate as their vanguard. Colonel Reynolds is in charge of SG-3 with Major Bosco as his second, Dr. Quinn as their specialist, and Rya’c as their vanguard. Special Forces are already divided into three more groups to assist. Within the groups, you will be paired one SG team member and one trainee. I will oversee both groups.” The inclusion of the wiry, long-haired Nate as SG-1’s vanguard was earning the young man more than a few curious looks from the trainees and SF who didn’t know him.

“Do not disrespect our civilian specialists, Dr. Jackson and Dr. Quinn, they are not only smarter than you, they’re asses are worth more than yours; I respect them, therefore you will respect them. Do not disrespect your combat masters; I won’t stop them from beating the shit out of you for your insolence toward them. The SGC Marines look to Teal’c as their combat master, so will you. Even our archaeologists here have trained with Teal’c. A few SGC personnel, such as SG-1 and 2, have trained with Master Bre’tac himself. I have a case of Scotch for the first man to bring down Master Bre’tac, hand to hand. And I’ll tell you this –that case has been sitting around collecting dust for years waiting to be claimed.”

They looked at the old man leaning on his staff. Bre’tac grinned at them and gave an evil chuckle.

“Daniel!” Jack called out. “Please tell our recruits the first mistake they made which would have had you bitching at me non-stop our entire time here, had it been just SG-1 coming through that gate. Don’t think I haven’t noticed you twitching.”

Daniel went to the front of the group, pushed his glasses into place, crossed his arms, and started his lecture on the sanctity of first contact space. He was glad Jack picked up on that issue because it was itching at him.

“Although we have met a few peoples who are more advanced than we are, most worlds are not as industrialized as ours, for reasons I will get into at a later time,” he said. “They tend to view their Stargate and DHD as devices of the gods, so they create sacred ground around the devices. Standing stones, harvest offering altars, etc. Investigating anything around the stargate that is not naturally occurring, gives us a clue as to who lives or lived nearby. The act of trampling across artifacts before someone like myself or Jonas has had a chance to examine them has led us directly into very big messes which could have been avoided if you people with elephantitis of the feet had listened to us. The very act of picking a plant almost destroyed a race of very gentle beings because we didn’t first pay attention to the function of that plant in their society. Never assume, people. As the old saying goes, you cannot judge a book by its cover.”

“Sergeant Philips, are you sure that stalk of grass you are chewing on isn’t poisonous to our systems? It could be a narcotic. Ask the general about alien lettuce. Or maybe something big and ugly peed on it yesterday? I think Bre’tac’s been here a few days.” Bre’tac chuckled. “Maybe it’s a sacred plant for the indigenous peoples and they’ll get it into their heads to sacrifice you for profaning an article of their religion.” Granted the chances of any of that are very slim, but it was pretty stupid to stick something alien in one’s mouth without thinking about the consequences.

Philips took the grass from his mouth and threw it down, spitting after it. Daniel held his tongue on telling the man that the act of spitting could also be construed as an insult.

“If there are no advanced weapons or technologies to be gained, why are we bothering with primitive cultures?” Allegash asked, clearly impatient with the whole affair. “Not to mention a culture that is missing.”

“Primitive does not mean stupid,” Daniel informed him. “We are primitive compared to some other cultures we’ve met. Some won’t even talk to us because we are so primitive. By the time we get home, you need to be able to answer the rest of it for yourself.” Jack nodded in understanding at the look Daniel tossed him and barked the order to set up their site.

“Will we be setting up here, Jack?” Daniel looked at him. Jack nodded. “Before you spread out, take a good look at the ground. Don’t just toss rocks out of your way, look at them. Are there any fossils on them? Any hand-made marks? Are there any pieces of bone? If so, don’t move it, just call me or Jonas over. That’s it for now.”

Jack knew Daniel was being overly cautious; it pleased him, though, to watch the generals’ tip-toeing around. He got the feeling Daniel was getting a kick out of it, too. Which reminded him…. He stepped over to Daniel who was heads down with Sam, Reynolds, and Davis.

“Daniel, your peeping-tom is among this group,” Jack said under his breath after nodding for Reynolds to excuse himself. “I want you and Davis to be slightly obvious. Don’t go over-board, just make it speculative. I’m not going to tell you who it is; I want him to expose himself. So to speak. It’s one thing for us to accuse, it’s another if he does it himself. Are you guys alright with that? You’d be outing yourselves, so I won’t make you do it, if you’re not alright with it. Davis, you have much more to lose, and I’ll do my best to protect you. Vidrine is completely aware of this.”

Daniel looked at Davis who shrugged and nodded. “We can do it,” Daniel assured him. “I don’t suppose you’re going to let us share a tent.”

“Nice try. If I can’t share with Sam, you can’t share with your major,” he said. “No hanky-panky, boys. Davis shares with Sam, Daniel will share with Nate. It’ll keep me and Sam from killing him.”

As he set up his own space, something dropped on Jack’s head. He reached up to brush it off, hoping it wasn’t something’s poo. Something hard fell to the ground and he bent to pick it up. It was a nut or seed or something. He dropped it. Another one hit him. Jack looked up.

“Daniel, we have company,” he said quietly, looking into the branches a few feet above his head.

“I know,” Daniel said, spreading out his tent. “They’re just playing with you.” He was surprised Jack hadn't noticed the small, furry creatures playing in the trees and bushes. They were felinoid, walked on two feet, for the most part, and came in a variety of fur colors.

The others looked up, startled to see small furry faces peering at them from the canopy of leaves.

“What are they?” someone asked.

“Children, I think,” Daniel said.

“Not animals?” Maynard asked. Daniel shook his head.

“I don’t think so,” he said. “A couple are wearing tooled leather. From their actions, they seem like children, although I could be reading into it. They come in different sizes; a few of the larger ones have more of a mane than the littles do. Feline evolution, looks like, unlike our own primate branch.” He bent and picked up one of the fallen seeds and tossed it into the trees. The canopy erupted with hooting and a shower of leaves fell on them. Several people laughed.

“They are indeed children,” Teal’c said. “We saw their village earlier. I do not believe they are violent. The young play often and seem to be raised by the village.”

“That would make sense,” Daniel said. “Felines tend to be social creatures, with the females of the clan raising the young.” He paused, seeing fur hiding in a bush. He crouched low to the ground and held out a hand toward a little face peering out at him. After hesitating, a small furry being cautiously inched forward. It looked like a kitten with human form; fur, a tail, ears on top of its head, and whiskers on a short muzzle, a little foxy, standing on two legs. One being in the trees called out and the little one called back in a tone that the humans would have called scathing. The little sniffed at Daniel’s hand, looking closely at him. Daniel slowly turned his open hand over so that his young friend could examine it, poking cautiously at his finger nails.

“Does rabies exist out here?” Allegash asked, looking distastefully at the furry creatures.

“Let Dr. Doolittle play,” Jack said. “This is how we gain allies.”

The little poked bravely at Daniel’s glasses and then at the bandana on his head. Daniel slowly removed the cloth. The little touched Daniel’s hair and then gave it a stroke, cooing beneath its breath. Daniel gave a small grunt at a tug of his hair. The creature jumped, startled, and Daniel fell to his butt. He gave a playful tug at the creature’s fur. The creature hooted and darted forward to poke at Daniel. Daniel poked back.

Jack glanced back at the grown man giggling as he rolled on the ground, playing with a furry child.

“No, Daniel, you cannot keep it,” Jack called out to him. Daniel stood, wearing a furry shawl on his back.

“Aw, Dad, please can we keep him?” Daniel whined. Several other local children scrambled around them, poking playfully at legs and pouncing on boot laces and rope. The troops couldn’t help but smile at the creatures.

“I can’t even get you to walk the dog, you think I’m letting you have an alien cat?” Jack asked.

“They are like kittens,” Colins commented, squatting and wiggling a finger at one. The creature came close to investigate.

“These kittens have very sharp claws and fangs,” Daniel pointed out, having watched one of the 'children' bite into a pod. “More like panther cubs. They do have a definite language, Jack.” He watched as the creatures formed groups, chattered at each other, and split again.

“Daniel, if you learn to snarl and hiss and purr and call it a language, I will consent to drink a cup of that Egyptian mud you like to drink.”

Daniel ignored Sam as she grinned at him. “It’s Turkish coffee, you barbarian, and I may not be able to make my vocal cords do what these kids are doing, but I will learn to understand them.”

He took hold of the child’s paws and swung him around to the front, setting the child on a hip. Daniel said his name, pointing to himself, and repeated it as the child listened, tail twitching slowly against Daniel’s arm, one green eye and one blue eye watching intently. The child eventually made a careful D and L sound. Jack rolled his eyes.

“Told you so,” Daniel nagged at him. He continued the English 101 with the child as they set up. The creature climbed over Daniel's shoulder and clung to his back, watching from its privileged position. “I can’t pronounce what I think his name is but T’Keet seems to be close,” he said. The little clung to his t-shirt with sharp claws as he bent to find his allergy meds, muttering about cat dander.

“Are you sure it’s a he?” Sam asked, dropping her bags. Several children tried lifting them.

“No,” Daniel admitted. “Actually, I don’t see any genitalia, but that doesn’t mean much. Look at the Asgard. I get a He sense from him, though, so until someone tells me otherwise, this is a he.”

“Uh, oh.” They paused and looked up at Jonas’ warning. Across the field, several much larger furred creatures stood watching them. Daniel tapped the child and pointed. The child jumped down and all the children scrambled across the field to their elders, clamored over them, all trying to talk at once.

“Gives new meaning to talking your ear off,” Davis noted, seeing a child clinging to a shoulder and pulling on its elder’s ear as it pointed in their direction with its tail.

“Tails seem a little prehensile,” Daniel commented. “Jack, we should wait on setting up any further,” he said. “They may have a problem with us being here.” Jack nodded, motioning to the others. Daniel slowly walked forward until he was between the two groups and carefully sat on the ground, waiting.

One of the elders came forward. This one had a full mane of dappled brown fur and dark orange eyes. He sat on the ground a yard from Daniel. Remembering what Thor had said about them, Daniel tried a word.

“Friends,” he said slowly in Goa’uld. The creature’s ears twitched and its eyes widened slightly. “Tok Ra.” Against Ra….

The creature glanced at the sky, worried. Daniel shook his head. “Ra is dead,” he said. The ears went back.

“Ra dead?” came a rumble from the furred throat.

Daniel gave a nod. “Yes. We killed him long ago.” He indicated the group behind him. The local barked something back at his group and several more came cautiously forward. Daniel held up a hand to Jack, indicating that it was alright. As Daniel talked with the locals, the others continued setting up. After a while, Daniel paused in their talks and called Jack and Sam over.

“This is M’Net, which is as close as I can get. He doesn’t seem to mind, in fact he thinks it’s humorous,” Daniel said, indicating the main person he was talking with. “They understand most of the Goa’uld I’ve tried on them, I think they consider it a warrior’s language. They were slaves of the Goa’uld when Ra was here. Seems we’re actually on a fairly unexplored continent; this continent has been taboo for a long time because of Ra, but they’ve started branching out over the past couple hundred years. Most of the population is on the opposite side of the planet. M’Net here doesn’t know about any missing Asgard buddies, and says it may be something their teachers know about. I’m getting a translation close to ‘bard’, actually, which would make sense; the bards of Earth always knew things most others didn’t. M’Net seems to be your equivalent, Jack, their troop’s leader. He’d like to go back and speak to their tribal leaders about us and get input.

“He wanted to know if our Queen was with us, by the way. They’re matriarchal with a tribal council in out-lying villages like theirs, and a Queen with a main council on their home continent. I explained that we were not ruled that way. And he is a he; grown males have manes. That’s about the only outward signal, the rest are more geared toward pheromones and their own gender recognition. The children apparently are neuter until about six-years-old when gender begins to kick in at puberty. He had no problem with me asking. He found it interesting that we are born with our gender already established. And they refer to the cubs in a third gender which really isn’t translatable. Female comes closer than male, which would make sense in a matriarchal culture.”

Sam smiled. “Makes sense genetically, too; an embryo starts out female and stays that way unless something triggers it to become male. You covered a lot of ground in the first round of talks,” she commented. M’Net said something to Daniel who flushed slightly and shook his head, murmuring something back.

“What?” Jack asked.

“He, uh, wanted to know if this was a female and if she were nursing,” Daniel admitted. “Apparently, their females only have breasts when nursing. I told him this was normal for our adult females and that you weren’t nursing under the assumption that there isn’t anything you haven’t told me?”

Sam laughed and shook her head. “No, Daniel, I’m not pregnant,” she assured him. Jack looked disappointed. M’Net said something else and again, Daniel flushed and shook his head. Jack poked him.

“He wanted to know if…we…were your consorts,” Daniel said to Sam. “He said you have a female’s mane and eyes worthy of many consorts. Take it as a compliment; they have polyandry households and it sounds like they give all honors to their clan leader, their mate. I told him that only Jack was your consort.”

“Thank you,” she said to M’Net in careful Goa’uld. “Tell him you’re the language guy, I only know a few words.” Daniel repeated it to M’Net who flicked his whiskers forward.

“That’s a head nod,” Daniel said. M’Net said something else and Daniel turned around, looking, before turning back and answering, gesturing to Jack.

“He noticed Nate,” Daniel said. “He said Nate has a glorious mane and must bring you great pride. He sees the resemblance. He wanted to know if your mate had begun negotiations with a female so that he would make first consort, which would be worthy of his mane. I explained that we don’t do that, either.”

“I don’t know about great pride,” Jack mumbled. Daniel lied and thanked M’Net.

“I take it manes are a big thing?” Sam asked. Daniel nodded.

“Manes, tails, over-all fur color and texture, and eye color,” he said. “His name means ‘sunlight on the forest floor’.”

“Tell him that his mane is lovely and his mate must be proud of him,” Sam said. “And ask him if there is anything that they’d rather we not be doing while we are here.” Jack nodded his approval and Daniel repeated the conversation.

“He states quite proudly that he is First Consort, thanks you for the compliment, and says to please not set up any permanent structures. We can look around while he meets with their council to make sure there isn’t a problem with our being here. He says he doesn’t see any problem, but what does he know, he’s only the leader of their guard.”

Jack snorted. “Tell me,” he muttered, glancing back at their generals who were wearing sergeant stripes. “Daniel, what does he think this place is?” He jutted a thumb back at the gate. Daniel asked.

“He said they’ve always been told that this is the gate to the realm of the gods,” Daniel said. “This continent has been forbidden territory for a long time, which is why it isn’t developed. The gods haven’t come in a long time, longer than the oldest of the…. Sua, I think their race name is, so their priests have given permission for an expedition. Expeditions apparently include entire households. Everything seems to be a family affair.” Daniel repeated a word for clarification and M’Net arched his whiskers. Daniel nodded thoughtfully.

“What is it?” Jack asked, seeing something cross Daniel’s face.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing,” Daniel said, shaking his head. “It’s just…every once in a while he says something that sounds like a loan word. A word from another language. Well, there are only so many sounds vocal cords can make; it stands to reason that sounds would over-lap in different languages.” Daniel looked back and called for Teal’c on his radio. Teal’c strode over to them.

“T, do these words sound familiar to you?” Daniel asked and repeated several words. Teal’c thought about it and shook his head.

“They do not,” he said.

“Hmmm. Okay, thanks. Oh, their warriors speak some Goa’uld,” Daniel told him and introduced them. Teal’c gave a short bow and spoke a greeting to M’Net who returned it.

“You’ve been speaking Goa’uld,” Jack said. “Could those loan words be in their original language?”

Daniel shook his head. “I don’t think so,” he said. “Listen to the others talking amongst themselves; those loan words sound nothing like what they’re spitting out. They’re reminding me of something. I’ll get it eventually.”

Several of the Sua hooted softly in their amusement, gesturing with their tails. SG-1 looked behind them to see Nate turning cartwheels and trying to get the cubs to learn it. Sam, Daniel, and Teal’c looked at Jack.

“Don’t look at me,” he protested. “I never learned how to do that.”

Nate walked on his hands a few steps before tumbling down. He was instantly covered in cubs and laughing. Jack watched him. Sam looked from one to the other and bent down, pressing her mouth to the top of Jack’s head.

“He is learning to open his arms,” she whispered into his hair. “He is learning to embrace what the universe brings him.”

 


 

Chapter 2

 

During dinner, Daniel and Paul sat close, their legs touching, and shared a juice pouch. Paul plucked a piece of grass from Daniel’s hair and brushed his shoulder. In the morning, Daniel wiped a spot of shaving cream from Paul’s ear, and Paul helped Daniel straighten up his tent with the ease of long time familiarity. Daniel didn’t know what Jack hoped to accomplish, yet he did notice that several of the men were getting a little antsy. Reynolds and Bosco weren’t quite sure what they were up to, so they were putting it down to Jackson weirdness and ignoring it; if the general didn’t care, neither would they. Nate was highly amused, having figured out exactly what Daniel sprang on Jack over the weekend. It probably wasn’t helping that their new friends, the Sua, were approving of Daniel and Paul’s behavior as proper clan-mate behavior.

At one point, Daniel noticed Jack arguing with Allegash and Crawford who jutted a head in his direction once or twice. Jack cut them off and ordered them out onto the field for a little Jaffa training. Daniel wondered if one of them had anything to do with the email; they both certainly had access to Jack’s private email, but he didn’t see what either of them would gain by the little stunt.

M’Net, with T’Keet bouncing around his feet, brought one of their teachers in after breakfast. Daniel gave Jonas the assignment of teaching a third of their recruits how to make an initial search of the area with an archaeological eye, while Sam took another third to figure out how to scout alien terrain, and the rest were given over to the Jaffa for combat training, which many of the Sua warriors watched with great interest until a few stepped forward to follow the moves that were being taught.

With a gleam of insanity in his eyes, Bre’tac paired off Tau’ri and Sua, and let the humans deal with hands-on combat with an unknown species. Jack stood on the sidelines and chuckled softly as one human after another was tossed to the ground. He looked across the field and saw Daniel sitting with three Sua, listening as they talked. One of the cubs was curled up asleep on Daniel’s lap, another cub draped across M’Net’s shoulders, half hidden by the thick mane. Jack smiled quietly, thinking not for the first time that Daniel needed a child of his own to love.

A shout took Jack’s attention and he looked back at the training field. The action had stopped. A crowd gathered around two figures. Jack strode over to find Davis standing over Philips, one boot planted in Philips’ side and his right hand twisting an arm up and back.

“What’s going on?” Jack demanded. Davis released the man.

“It’s taken care of, sir,” Davis said.

“That wasn’t what I asked, Major,” Jack informed him. A couple of men tried to help Philips up, but he brushed them aside and got to his feet on his own, glaring at Davis.

“The airman seems to have an issue with my private life, General,” Davis said. “I corrected him.”

Jack looked from one to the other and gave a nod before walking away. Not a full day, and the pot was beginning to boil over; Daniel could push buttons without even trying. And for a small man, Davis had long since proved himself to be capable of guarding SG-1’s back.

“Jack.” He heard his name over the radio. He looked over at Daniel who waved for him to join them.

“Babysitting?” Jack asked as he came within speaking distance. Daniel smiled and stroked the cub.

“The males are the main caregivers,” he said. “This is why the cubs are with them instead of in the home. It’s a hands-on training from day one, post-nursing that is, no matter what the job is. With the warriors, the cubs are taught to hide in trees, mainly. I think T’Keet likes me. M’Net is one of his…her…parents. Seems that his mate has three consorts including him. Two to three is the norm for consorts. Their clan has four cubs, T’Keet is the youngest. Their mate doesn’t want anymore, so she will probably be the last.”

“Still think she’s a he?” Jack asked, giving the soft fur a stroke.

“Yes, I do,” Daniel nodded and gave his prediction to the Sua who hooted in amusement.

The teacher, T’Lan, watched them. “His scent is one of sadness, if I am reading him correctly,” T’Lan said to Daniel.

“He had a child once,” Daniel said. “His child died unexpectedly long ago.”

The Sua arched their whiskers and expressed their own sadness for Jack.

“What of the one with the mane of sunlight?” M’Net asked.

Daniel smiled slightly. “They are still getting to know each other,” was all he said. “Sometimes our past catches up with us in mysterious ways.”

“Truth,” T’Lan agreed, whiskers arched forward.

“Jack, T’Lan had a few interesting stories,” Daniel said, “as part of their myths and legends bardic cycle. One of them talks about a furless people who were at war with themselves and took the Sua as slaves. On one side, the slaves served willingly and were loved and cared for by their masters, and on the other side they were forcibly taken and usually killed in battle or tortured. Apparently, they take this as a morals story about surrendering one’s will to the Great Mother. Things are much better when we surrender.”

Jack snorted. “Surrender, my ass,” he informed Daniel.

“Not all forms of surrender are bad, Jack,” Daniel said. “This story ends with the two sides battling in the sky. The sun apparently disapproved of their fighting and sent a ray at them, making them disappear. About five kilometers east of here, the Sua say is a large depression in the ground. Their legends say that this is where the village of the furless used to be and that when the sun sent her rays at the ships in the sky, it also took the village, which was on the ground directly under the ships.”

Jack stroked one finger across the velvet, furred ear of the sleeping T’Keet. “Hmmm. The Asgard would have taken soil samples,” he commented. Daniel nodded.

“Do you have any stories about another race of beings?” Daniel asked T’Lan. “Also furless, and with large eyes? Smaller than us?”

T’Lan flicked his ears back. “There are demon stories with creatures such as you describe,” he admitted. “It is considered bad fortune to speak of them.”

“I understand,” Daniel said, doing his best to tread carefully. “Jack, I don’t think I’ll get anything out of them, they consider it bad luck. I’d say have Sam take another round of samples and examine the area. Sometimes the Asgard are so far advanced that they overlook minor details. And it was a thousand years ago; lots of growth has happened since then.”

Jack nodded and excused himself to go and find Sam. The Sua watched him leave.

“May I ask a question without intent to harm?” M’Net asked Daniel.

“Yes, certainly,” Daniel said.

“I am confused as to your pairings,” he said. “You said one male and one female. Usually. And yet, that one you call friend….when he is around you, his scent is one of a consort who has deep affection for his clan mate, both who are in service to their queen.”

Daniel ran over the commentary in his head, trying to find the translation.

“I’m not sure what you are trying to say,” he admitted. “Jack, Sam, and I have worked together for a long time, so yes, we have affection for each other.”

M’Net said something in Sua to T’Lan who thought about it and turned to Daniel.

“His scent is as though he wishes to mate with you but is afraid to approach you. The scent of another is on you, from the recent past; maybe… J’k… does not wish to intrude into another’s clan. It would be honorable of him to remain away. Maybe his mate will find a proper second consort for him to take to his pillows.”

Daniel struggled not to laugh hard enough to wake the cub. The idea of Jack having ‘affections’ for him….

“Not all of our males have that kind of affection for each other,” Daniel said. “Most don’t. I don’t believe Jack would ever look at another male as a sexual partner. I know he loves me, just not in a sexual way. And Sam wouldn’t allow a second consort in their home; most of our females don’t approve of it. Just one male, one female.”

The Sua thought about it, acknowledging Daniel’s words, yet, not quite believing him. After all, their noses told them different, and unless one is ill, noses are never wrong. These humans were confusing. They hooted softly.

“What’s so funny?” Daniel asked.

M’Net twitched his ears. “I believe my mate would become tired of my face alone every day,” he said. “And I do not know what I would do if I didn’t have my brothers in the evenings.”

Hearing a connotation in that, Daniel leaned forward and dove in.

Jack went to Sam who was showing her trainees how to process samples in her field lab.

“Sam, according to the locals, there is a battlefield spot about five kilometers east of here,” he said, pointing out over the tree line. “They have some sort of legend that talks about an air battle between two furless peoples and something about the sun taking out both the ships and the village on the ground. Daniel suggested deep samples.”

“Residual radiation?” she suggested, already throwing a kit together.

“Right.”

She frowned, thinking. “The Asgard would have picked up on that. They do sometimes overlook the obvious, though.”

Bre’tac and Rya’c, along with Reynolds, Bosco, and Colins were left at the main site while the rest trouped out on the hike. After a three hour walk, with local cubs and warriors to guide them, Sam stood on a ridge looking down on a field. The entire valley had a strange bowl shape to it. It was a little too perfect to be a natural depression in the earth.

“Looks like someone came along and scooped out some ice cream,” Jonas said, looking down at it. Sam nodded.

“That’s what I was thinking.”

“And the Asgard didn’t get anything?” he asked.

“No,” Sam said.  “Daniel, do you see any place in particular you’d like to start?”

“No,” he said, looked around. “I think I’d like everyone to spread out, take the rim first, and walk in toward the center with a top soil sample and a deep soil sample about every three yards. And be on the lookout for artifacts.”

She called out instructions to the troops, had them pair off, and sent them into the bowl.

“Is there anything we can do to assist?” M’Net asked Daniel who relayed it to Sam. She shook her head.

“Not really,” she said. “Unless they want to send someone with each team to watch out for any poisonous plants or animals.”

M’Net acknowledged and sent a warrior with each team. He then called to a couple of the older cubs, spoke briefly, and sent them scampering back to their homes.

“You’re sure this is the spot?” Daniel asked T’Lan. The Sua arched his whiskers and pulled a scroll from the pouch on his back. He carefully unrolled it and showed it to Daniel.

“This is one of the oldest renderings of that tale,” he said. “Here you can see the Mountain of Flame, the Forest of Journeys, and the River of Peace.”

Daniel looked at the crudely drawn map and compared it to the landscape in front of them. They looked like a match to him.

“Why is the mountain called the Mountain of Flame?” he asked, looking at it towering into the sky. Most of the mountain was green, and the higher it went, the browner it became, with the very top capped in snow.

T’Lan rolled the scroll back up and put it away. “That mountain is rich with deposits of gem stones and minerals. A couple times a year, the star’s rays reflect on them and the mountain lights up. It can be seen over two days’ journey from here.”

Daniel nodded thoughtfully as he watched the teams slowly make their way into the bowl, pausing to dig in their core samplers every few yards and scrape top soil into small tubes, labeling them and setting flags to mark the sites.

It was late afternoon by the time the teams were halfway through their task. Sam called the site and gave the watch a list of needs for them to pass on to the SGC. Cubs came bounding to the Scoop, as Jonas called it which Daniel then had to try and explain to the locals, and with the cubs came more locals, most of whom were carrying dishes and trays. They brought food and drink to the grateful humans, hospitality clearly an important part of their culture.

M’Net introduced the leader of their village, S’Tik, his own mate, N’Sa, and his brothers, R’Nik and K’Mar. Daniel explained that to the Sua, brothers also meant consorts of one’s mate. One wife, multiple husbands. Biological siblings were nest-mates.

He gave a polite greeting to the ladies and said, “We do not know your customs, so please forgive any mistakes we may make.” M’Net translated it into Sua.

“Most females are not warriors and therefore do not know that language,” he told Daniel.

“Well, I’m sorry we are not made to speak your language; the sounds are very pleasing,” Daniel said. “Our throats don’t work with the sounds of your language.”

The females understood and promised to make allowances. T’Keet climbed up Daniel’s back to his shoulders and chatted away with her mother and clan-fathers about her new friend. They listened indulgently and made appropriate noises.

Clllawww,” T’Keet said in English, pulling on Daniel’s hair. He held his hands out.

“No claws,” he said, flexing his fingers, much longer than the Sua’s but lacking a vital aspect. T’Keet went on, apparently informing the adults of the strange physical characteristics of their visitors. Daniel came to that conclusion when the cub pushed his hair aside and tugged at an ear. Whiskers arched in amusement.

Jack sat gratefully on a downed tree and tried the various food items on his dish. He knew if he didn’t, Daniel would give him a look that made him feel about the size of that cub that was always climbing on him. He had to admit that there wasn’t too much Daniel was wrong about; most of the foods he had tasted did agree with his taste buds. A few made him nauseous, and a couple had made him sick. Since they didn’t make the others sick, he put it down to a food allergy. When asked at home about food allergies, Jack could honestly say that he wasn’t allergic to anything on Earth.

Sam sat next to him and dug into her dish with the chop sticks she had been given, making happy tummy noises. She had a few things Jack didn’t so he shared her plate, too, as they commented on the various foods. He pouted when Sam stabbed him with a stick as he went after more of a warm, nutty flavored mash.

Teal’c and Nate came over and sat down with their dishes. Nate held out something to Sam.

“One of the locals showed me this,” he said as Sam took it. “Some of them have earrings? The stone in them is made from this. He said it’s from that mountain over there.”

Sam turned the piece of red something over in her hands, holding it up to the setting sun.

“Looks almost like melted sand,” she commented.

“Glass?” Jack questioned. She nodded.

“Yes, but something turned it red. Can I keep this?” she asked Nate. “Or at least take a small piece to examine?”

“Knew you’d ask that,” Nate said, pleased with himself. “The local, A’fal, I think his name is, said he’d be happy to trade the entire piece for one of your gardening forks. Seems his mate is quite the gardener and they don’t have anything like your nifty fork. That piece of glass is apparently worth a great deal as is a one-of-a-kind, genuine alien, gardening tool.”

Sam smiled. “It’s a deal,” she said. She reached for her bag and pulled the fork out. Teal’c called to A’fal who politely bowed to Sam and delicately took the fork from her.

“He thanks the lovely, generous mistress of our warrior leader,” Teal’c translated.

“You’re welcome,” Sam said in careful Goa’uld. A’fal went away happy, showing off his new toy to his brothers.

“How do you know he won’t use that as a weapon against us?” Allegash asked from nearby. Sam looked over at him.

“They have claws longer than those tines,” Sam said. “Have you seen their claws? If they wanted to attack us, they could have done so at any time.”

“O’Neill, this is ridiculous,” Allegash said impatiently. “All we have done is walk around and dig in the dirt and I….”

“KP.”

Allegash stopped in mid-sentence and stared at him.

“What?”

“KP,” Jack repeated. He held out his dish. “Bitch and moan, Bob, bitch and moan. Make yourself useful for a change. You get KP tonight. Move.”

Outraged, Allegash looked over to Maynard who was talking with Philips and playing with a cub, ignoring the incident. Allegash yanked the dish out of Jack’s hand and stalked off, pushing the oncoming Davis out of his way.

“Not enjoying the meal?” Davis asked, sitting down. He held out a plate filled with various lumps of things. “Desserts,” he said. They each took a lump, sniffing and examining before tasting.

“Mmmm, sort of like baklava,” Sam said, nibbling at hers.

“Really?” She held it out and Jack took a bite.

“What’s that?” Daniel asked, coming over and joining them.

“The local baklava,” Davis said. He held out a piece and popped it into Daniel’s mouth. Daniel moaned in pleasure and looked around for more.

“This one is a spice cake,” Teal’c stated, biting into his.

“Almond walnut cookie,” Nate said.

“Date bar,” Jack said.

Daniel took a plate, indicated to a cub each of the various types of desserts, and sent the child off. She quickly returned and handed the full plate to Daniel who horded his horde.

“You’re a pig, Daniel,” Jack informed him after getting his wrist smacked.

“Yes, and I’m sure I can work it off,” Daniel reminded him, nudging Davis’ knee.

“Not in front of the children,” Jack said, looking at the cub.

“Jack, you’re a big boy, I’m sure you can deal with it,” Daniel said, popping a cookie into his mouth. He was almost sure he saw something strange cross Jack’s face.

“Honey, you’re closer, you hit him,” Jack said to Sam. She leaned back against the log, kicking her long legs out.

“Well he’s right, Jack, you are a big boy,” she informed him, blinking innocently. Nate choked on a piece of cake as Teal’c deigned to smile. A little smile.

“Does your husband know what a brat you are?” Jack asked her.

Sam smiled and nodded. “Yes, and he loves me anyway,” she grinned up at him.

“You’ve got him conned and wrapped around your little finger, is what it is,” Jack sagely informed her.

Sam nodded again. “He tells me I have very talented fingers,” she said. Jack flushed and hung his head as the others laughed.

“Give it up, Jack,” Daniel said, laughing. “You know she’ll never let you have the last word.” Something in the darkening sky took his attention.

“Sam, did you see that?” he asked, taping her on the shoulder.

“No, what?” she asked. He pointed.

“Something…I don’t know… looked like a shimmer.” He turned, looking, and called out. M’Net and T’Lan came over.

“It is the sky gods,” T’Lan said. “We see them often in the night time sky.” The Sua didn’t give any indication of a malevolent presence, so SGC personnel didn’t take it as such.

A section of the sky shimmered again.

“Huh,” Sam commented under her breath.

“Hey, guys, they…” Jonas broke off his excitement as he followed Daniel’s pointing finger. “Weird,” he commented, seeing the shimmer. “Anyway, they’re breaking out the drums and building a bonfire. Seems meeting aliens is a special occasion for them. Come and dance!” Jonas ran back down into the Scoop where Sua were towing in large tree trunks and stacking them. Nate was up and quickly followed, pulling his t-shirt off and tucking it into the back of his BDU’s. The muscles on Jack’s clone were beginning to fill out his thin frame; he had adjusted his to teenage years differently than Jack’s, though, which was showing in the slightly different structure of his frame.

Davis tried pulling Daniel to his feet. “Too full,” Daniel said. “I’ll throw up if I get into tribal dancing now. Let my stomach settle and I’ll join you in a bit.”

Most of the younger humans followed, the others holding themselves proud and watching. Jack nodded permission to their trainees. Maynard and Crawford stayed behind as did Allegash and Philips. Shan, Levin, and Gaafar trotted down the hill.

Daniel continued to watch the shimmering.

“Jack, are you okay with me and Paul?” he asked, sliding to the ground and leaning back against the log.

“Why shouldn’t I be?” Jack asked.

“I don’t know, you seem a little… out of it, lately,” Daniel said. “If this bothers you, I want to hear it.”

“Daniel, it doesn’t bother me,” Jack assured him. “I’m a little surprised by it, but I’m not bothered. You could have told me that you… liked…. guys.” He waved his hand around as he tried to find a polite way of saying ‘gay’.

Daniel glanced at him and smiled. “At what point in the past eight years was there a conversation which would have been appropriate for me, smack in the middle of a mountain filled with jarheads and fly-boys, to announce that I’m bi? By the way, Jack, I’m bringing my boyfriend to dinner please pass the salt?”

“Point taken.”

“I like women as much as you do, Jack, just once in a while I find myself with a man in my bed. Paul is comfortable. He’s a good friend, and we don’t have to think about security clearances when we talk.”

“Just a friend?” Sam asked, looking back over her shoulder at him.

“Just a friend,” Daniel chuckled, giving her back a rub. “Friends who play together once in a while. It’s a release. We aren’t compatible enough to live together.”

“Why?” Sam asked. Daniel shrugged.

“Other than the fact that he’s even prissier than Jack, our needs are too different,” he said. Jack scowled and Sam smiled at him. “He wants things sometimes that I can’t do. I have nothing against them; I’m just not comfortable with them for myself. If he finds someone who is able to do those things for him, I don’t want to be standing in his way.”

Sam understood his double-talk; Teal’c and Jack looked at each other.

“I’m not prissy. What are you talking about?” Jack asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Anyone who makes hospital corners is prissy, Jack,” Daniel said, shaking his head. “The rest is Paul’s business; I’m not comfortable sharing his personal stuff. I probably said too much as it is.”

“It’s just us, Danny,” she said. “SG-1 business stays with SG-1.”

Daniel put his other hand to her back and gently squeezed her shoulder muscles. Sam moaned in appreciation. Jack glanced at them, twitching his mouth in amusement.

“Oh, hey, Sam,” Daniel poked her. “I found out why we see no private parts on the Sua who don’t wear much of anything.”

She lifted her head. “Really? Why?”

“Internal,” Daniel said. “M’Net said that under all that fur, which he pulled aside to show me they have no concept of modesty, is what looks almost like a woman’s vulva, yet, is actually skin covering cartilage which protects the inner organs. Just like when a woman is giving birth her cervix opens. So does this cartilage when they have sex. The male’s penis is actually retractable. He doesn’t move his hips during sex. Thing just goes in and out all by internal muscles.”

“Oh, that opens many possibilities,” she commented.

“Hey!” Jack protested.

“Shush, honey. So what about the females?” she asked Daniel.

“The females have almost the exact same set-up, but the canal that houses the penis in the males, is what sounds like a vagina for the females. And apparently they are one big G-spot.”

“Really? Oh, my,” Sam said, her eyes big.

“The females are mainly the leadership here. They spend all their time concentrating on that and deciding which male they want to get pregnant by, which sounds a little like genetic tinkering the way they choose their consorts. I’m thinking that’s why they have multi-consort households. The males are sexual with each other when they aren’t contributing to the gene pool. From what M’Net said, the area directly beneath their tails has a dual opening. One for excretory use that closes off and opens a secondary space during sex. Both their penis and this secondary canal have their own lube.”

“Oh, God,” Jack groaned. “I’m in gay paradise.”

Daniel reached around and back-handed him on the arm.

“Sounds like a healthy vagina,” Sam said, ignoring her husband.

“And inside the human penis, we also have a dual canal. One for urine, and the other for sperm and semen. And looking at the rest of their physical make-up, internal reproductive organs make sense; I watched a few of them sparing yesterday and they were heavy with the claws on all four paws. A lot of kick-boxing. Bellies took most of the hits. With claws like that, it would be easy to rip off some guy’s dick and balls if they were just hanging there in the open.”

Jack and Teal’c looked at him in horror.

“Don’t worry, boys,” Jack whispered, looking down. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Daniel shook his head as Teal’c looked down and contemplated his own ‘boys’.

“That shimmer is bugging the crap out of me,” Daniel muttered, reaching to find his spy-glass.

“Yeah,” Sam agreed. “Nothing on the ground seems to be reflecting, there aren’t any storm clouds, no added moisture in the air, either. I think I’d like to call for a UAV tomorrow and take a closer look, see if there are any electrical readings. Or anything else.” Jack agreed; he’d put in the call first thing in the morning.

“Nothing,” Daniel said, putting the optical back in his pocket. “Weird.”

Drumming shook the valley below them as the fire grew higher. Sam turned, settling herself against Jack’s leg. He slid to the ground and put an arm around her shoulder, pulling her in close as they watched the fire and everyone stomping and spinning around the blaze.

Jack was shaken on the shoulder. He jumped, was still for a moment, and groaned as he rubbed his eyes. It was quiet, the horizon beginning to pink as the sun came up.

“You fell asleep,” Daniel said quietly. “You started to thrash a bit; are you alright?”

“Yeah, fine,” Jack said, clearing his throat as he looked around. Piles of Sua were scattered around the area and sleeping humans were covered in blankets. The bonfire was a smoking ruin, drummers and a few humans asleep by the blackened pile. “Where’s Sam?”

Daniel pointed a few yards away. “Jack, you spoke my name. Was I in your dream?”

“I what? Don’t remember, sorry if I woke you,” Jack said, stretching out a kink in his back. “I need to find a tree, be back.”

Daniel nodded and lay back down, thinking.

Jack walked farther than he needed to, clearing his head with clean air. His bladder sent him a reminder and he stopped, watered a tree, and turned to make his way back toward the others.

“Hey.”

He stopped and looked up. Nate was sitting on a boulder, looking out over the valley.

“Morning,” Jack said and started to walk again.

“Jack.” He stopped. Nate slid down the large rock and brushed his butt off. “We really haven’t talked. We probably should, at some point. When we get back home. Just a reminder, though; I have all your memories up until two years ago. That includes all your feelings about everyone you have ever met. I know what you dream about, Jack, I have the same dreams once in a while.”

Jack frowned and turned to walk. “No, don’t do that,” Nate said, reaching out. “Come on, Jack. I’m going to say this and you’re going to hear it.”

He walked around Jack to stand in front of him. “No one else may have noticed the nuances crossing your face, but I have. If you don’t get a grip on these feelings, and I mean sit down with Daniel and TALK with him, you are going to explode and you will ruin more than one relationship.”

“No.” He stopped Jack from moving, releasing the taunt arms a moment after the warning look. “I’m not done. We can do this in private or we can do this in front of the others. I’d prefer private.” He waited and finally got a nod from the older man.

“If you haven’t talked with Sam, you need to. Tell her what happened.”

“I did,” Jack reluctantly growled.

“Good,” Nate nodded. “Looks to me like her heart is as big as those eyes of hers. Did you tell her how you feel about Daniel?”

Jack took a step and half turned away, setting his hands on his hips as he looked across the valley. “She knows. This is pointless, Nate, like I told her; I’m not going to be doing anything with it.”

“Maybe not,” Nate conceded. “But this thing between Daniel and the major is tweaking you big time, no matter how much of a smiley face you put on it. Daniel needs to know, Jack. It isn’t fair to him not to know. The day you finally blow up at him, he isn’t going to understand why and it will destroy him. He’s awake now; take him for a walk before the others are up.”

“And tell him what?” Jack turned on him, snarling under his breath. “That I’d like to kiss him but I’m married now and it’s too late?”

“Jack.”

The men turned, startled. Sam stood a few yards away. They didn’t hear her approach. She came forward, took Jack’s hands, and slid into his arms. Nate scrubbed his face and leaned back against the boulder.

“Nate is right,” she said. “You need to talk with Daniel. He’s part of us, Jack, and I know this is weird for you. It’s weird for me, too. I don’t share, Jack. I will never accept another woman in your bed. I will zat her out of existence and do some serious damage to you.” Jack reluctantly smiled and held her tight. He held her face between his hands and kissed her.

“I don’t want anyone else,” he promised.

“You want Daniel,” she whispered. Jack closed his eyes. “Honey, I told you, he doesn’t threaten me. Talk with him. Tell him what’s going on inside. Tell him what happened. If he feels the same, if he wants you, too, I will accept him in our bed. This isn’t a concession, Jack; I love him, too. He’s ours; we have shared him for years. We have spent so many years wiping blood and tears off each other, watching each other’s back, taking bullets for each other, that we can’t not love each other.”

“Look at me.” She waited until she had his dark eyes.

Jack took a shuddering breath. “I…I can’t….with Daniel…”

“You can’t what with me?”

They turned. Jack threw his arms into the air and stomped off to sit at a tree. “Is the entire camp up and listening?” he complained, wiping his face on his t-shirt.

“No,” Daniel said, answering literally. “Just us.” He walked slowly into their circle, looking from one to the other. “You can’t what with me, Jack?”

“Nothing, Daniel, just….”

“Jack, tell him,” Nate said. “It’s Danny, Jack; you know he won’t judge. I give you my word I won’t tell him once we get back; it’s yours to tell, so tell.”

Daniel crouched low near Jack.

“Whatever it is, you can say it to me,” Daniel promised softly. The hell of it was Jack knew what Daniel said was true.

“Daniel,” Sam called to him. He looked at her as she wiped her face. Concern was on his face at all the moisture in this small circle. “I’m going back to the others. So is Nate. Whatever needs to happen, you have my permission for it to happen.”

Before Daniel could ask her what she meant, Sam took Nate’s arm and pulled him away. Daniel watched them for a moment and then sat near Jack. He hadn’t seen Jack cry like this since a session of Charlie mourning after a case of beer and a couple of nasty missions that messed with his head. Daniel held his arms out. Jack shook his head, sniffing.

“I…I’ve been fighting this,” Jack choked out. “And this is such an inappropriate place and time.”

“Maybe so,” Daniel said with a nod. “Looks to me like you need to let it out.”

Jack gave a semi-hysterical laugh. “My shrink is going to graduate me from class for this one,” he commented to the sky. He began to haltingly tell Daniel a story.

Much later, Daniel’s head was spinning with shock. He scooted forward and pulled Jack into his arms. He resisted, at first, and then gave in when Daniel refused to let go. When Jack was calm, Daniel pulled away.

“You know none of it was your fault,” Daniel said, watching Jack’s face.

“I know,” he said. “I’ve never taken the fault for it. It’s been years since it’s really bothered me. I think what brought all this up was at our wedding reception.” Daniel cocked his head. “We noticed you and Davis. Sparking, Sam calls it.” Daniel quirked his lips and nodded. “I really don’t mind, Danny, and that may be the problem. I fought myself thinking about you like that for a long time. Even if I could have gotten up the nerve to…try…something, I was sure you’d not only reject me, but report me. I have never felt like such a coward.”

Daniel’s eyes opened wide. “Do you mean you….” he circled a hand. Jack nodded.

“You hit me hard, Daniel,” he admitted. “I thought falling in love with Sam would have kicked it out of me, but it hasn’t. She said I spoke your name a few times while we….”

Daniel felt like a ton of bricks just hit him. “Jack…I don’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to,” Jack said, shaking his head. “There’s nothing to say. She’s been trying to get me to talk to you about this, so I’m talking. I don’t see the point, but I’m telling you anyway. Daniel, even if I did try something with you, I couldn’t…. complete it.”

“Why?”

That wasn’t what Jack expected to hear, if Daniel was going to say anything.

“Why what?” Jack asked. Blink.

“Why wouldn’t you be able to have sex with me?” he asked bluntly.

Jack looked at him through a blurry eye. “You know, you’re taking this better than I thought you would.”

“And you’re deflecting,” Daniel said, touching Jack’s arm. “Are you going to answer the question?”

Jack knocked the back of his head against the tree as he looked at the sky. “Danny, anything thicker than a couple of Sam’s slim little…”

“I get the picture,” Daniel said. “Jack, a lot of men don’t like to be entered. And having a doctor’s finger shoved up our asses every time we come back from a trip, is not my idea of fun. Anal intercourse is not a necessary part of a relationship. I can be on top or bottom, I like both.” He was amused at the flush that spread across Jack’s face.

“Now tell me what Sam thinks about this. Is this what she meant by giving her permission?”

Jack nodded. “She said you’re the only person other than her that she would accept into our bed,” he confessed. “She told me about you and her making out.”

Daniel nodded. “Yes, we did,” he admitted with a lift of a shoulder. “A few years back. Didn’t work out too well.”

“Why?” Jack asked, honestly curious. Daniel shrugged.

“I think I was nervous,” he said. “I kept imagining you knocking at the door or calling.”

Jack chuckled. “That’s about what she said. Danny, if you had my permission, would you still be too nervous?”

Daniel frowned. “Okay, what’s running through my mind at the moment is an opening for a threesome, and I never figured either one of you for something like that.”

“Neither did we,” Jack said. “Sam said you’re part of us. I have to agree with her; I can’t picture our future without you in it, in one way or another. I don’t cheat, Daniel. I never cheated on Sara, and I’m certainly not about to cheat on Sam. I worked too long and hard to get her, and I love her more than I can ever express. At the same time, I do have feelings for you. For some reason, neither Sam nor I consider you to be cheating. I’m a little confused by it, I’ll admit that. I really don’t know what to do about this, if I should be doing anything about it.”

Daniel looked at him, carefully considering. “I think this entire speculation is a moot point if my presence is going to freak you out,” he said. “I’ll be honest, Jack; yes, I wouldn’t mind sleeping with you. And yes, with your approval, and if she wants to, I wouldn’t have any problem being with Sam. I think before we table this discussion until we get home, I’d like to kiss you, though. If we don’t have sparks, it’s all pointless. And I think we have sparks, Jack.”

Jack nodded and nervously sat up. Daniel slowly touched his face, keeping watch for any signs of traumatic distress. He touched Jack’s lips with his own, slowly, softly caressing. He knew Jack was alright when he felt arms go around him and a hand touch the back of his head, fingers threading through his hair. From the butterflies dancing in his stomach and getting lower, Daniel knew he and Sam were going to need to have a long talk. Jack tightened his arm around Daniel’s neck, opening his mouth to touch Daniel’s tongue.

“Does the no entry clause include not entering me?” Daniel asked against Jack’s mouth. “Because I do like it.”

Jack laughed, reddening, and pushed him.

 


 

Chapter 3

 

They walked back to the camp out on the rim of the valley, careful to keep a distance between them. Jack felt lighter than he had since the day his son was born. If the tingling in his groin was any indication, he’d have no problem making love with Daniel. Although how he was able to have feelings for Daniel and Sam at the same time, was a little confusing. He just hoped the entire thing wasn’t going to have an adverse effect with him and Sam. The three of them REALLY needed to sit down and talk.

“You’re glowing,” Daniel whispered. “Stop it.”

“Trying.” Jack whispered back. “Daniel, I’m worried about Sam. I don’t want to ruin anything. I love her. I can’t….”

“I know,” Daniel said. “I don’t want you to ruin anything, either. We’ll talk when we get back. The three of us. It will give us all time to think about this.”

Jack stopped, holding a hand out. “Danny, I’m not a slave to my gonads,” he said. “I just want you to know that. If I thought for one minute that I was only trying to get an itch scratched, I would have refused the entire conversation and let Sam be angry with me. My marriage to her isn’t worth a roll in the hay, no matter how terrific a kisser you are.”

Daniel smiled. “I know you’re worried, Jack,” Daniel assured him. “I’m a little worried myself. That’s why we need to think and talk it through. I need to be sure, also, because I don’t want to be the cause of you guys splitting up. If you change your mind, or if she changes hers, it’s okay. If you just want a few therapy sessions to get you over any residual trauma, we can talk about that, too. I don’t sleep around; I prefer to be in a relationship with someone, if I’m going to sleep with them. Paul and I may be casual, but neither of us is seeing anyone else. If I do get involved with you and Sam, I expect a full relationship; dates, holding hands, cuddling, arguing and making up, the whole nine yards. I can do without flowers, and a box of chocolate would be nice.”

Jack laughed and quickly looked around. “It can be arranged,” he promised. They continued walking. “What about Davis?”

Daniel shrugged and nodded. “If we are a go, I will break it off with him. I will still continue with our little flirting thing here, though, unless our General wants us to stop.”

“No,” Jack said, grateful for the segue to duty. “Stay with it. Your peeping-tom is about to blow into a million pieces.”

“Paul is a friend, Jack,” Daniel reminded him. “When he’s in town, I’d like to have dinner with him once in a while. Hang out. I’d rather you didn’t get an attack of the green monsters. Will you trust me not to cheat?”

Jack looked at him. “Daniel, I trust you with my life on a daily basis,” he said, hand and arm waving through the air. “Of course, I’ll trust you not to cheat. It is so surreal, having this conversation with you.”

Daniel smiled. “Too early to ask exactly what your feelings are?”

Jack flushed and ruffled his hair. “Give me a little time with that one.”

Daniel nodded. “I’ll say this, Jack; you’ve been my brother, father, best friend. I love those aspects of you and I can easily fall in love with you. Do you understand the difference?” Jack nodded. “Just be open with me. You’re shit at communicating, Jack, and I need the communication, okay?” Jack nodded again. “You and Sam aren’t the only ones that can be hurt by this.”

“I know, Danny,” Jack said. “I’m trying. Sam pushes me all the time to tell her what’s going on inside. It hurt to talk about all that this morning. I’m not used to being questioned.”

“Jack and the General are two different people,” Daniel said, putting a hand on Jack’s back. Jack was uncomfortably aware of how comfortable the hand felt. He wanted to lean into it, and that just wasn’t a Jack O’Neill thing to do. “Separate them. Jack needed to talk, not the general. The general can bitch about us questioning orders; Jack has to play nice in the sand box. Forget the macho bullshit; we respect you, Jack, and opening up only gives us a greater respect, it doesn’t diminish it. I’m learning to open up, too, so you aren’t alone in this.”

Jack paused, looked around, and kissed Daniel.

“What was that for?” Daniel asked, bemused, as Jack continued their walk.

“Just checking.”

“Checking on what?”

“I thought Sam was the only one that could make my mouth tingle like that.”

Daniel tripped over an exposed root and chuckled.

“Good communication, Jack.”

They got back to the valley rim to find cubs pouncing and climbing in their morning excitement. One pounce landed on Daniel’s shoulders. A soft, russet tail wrapped around his throat.

“Good morning, T’Keet,” he said, reaching up to scratch an ear. He was rewarded with a purr.

“She’s got a crush on you,” Jack informed him, pointing to the cub.

“Don’t worry,” Daniel said. “I have to draw a line somewhere.” He went to check on the soil samples.

Jack found Sam and took a cup from her.

“Okay?” she asked, hiding her worry.

He nodded. “You’re right,” he whispered. “He does kiss well.” He knew his face was slightly pink, he could feel the heat radiating.

Sam laughed and slid an arm around his waist.

“I take it you enjoyed it?” she whispered back. Jack ruffled his hair again.

“I keep thinking I shouldn’t, I did,” he admitted. Sam buzzed his cheek.

“It’s okay, honey,” she said. “It feels right from my side of things. Explore this as feels right for you and I will support you all the way, whatever your decision is. Take him on a date. You guys have been out together so many times, I don’t know why you don’t just call it what it is: a date. Men, I swear… Girls go out together and call it a date. Court him, if you want. If all it comes down to is dating and a few kisses, that’s fine. If you want to screw him into the mattress, that’s good, too. Let me and him handle me and him.”

Jack laughed in surprise, earning them a warning glance from Maynard before he headed down the hill. Jack took a step away from Sam. “Works for me, babe. We talked a bit,” he said. “We need to think about this, and we’ll get together when we get home and talk. We need to be sure about this because I am seriously confused.” Sam understood and agreed.

Most of the humans were down in the Scoop, continuing with the project when Reynolds and Colins from the main camp site came in carrying more scientific things for Sam.

“Good morning, sir. UAV is on the way,” Reynolds reported.

“Morning, Colonel. Sergeant.” Jack said. “Teal’c, let the locals know that a strange thing is going to come flying in and not to be alarmed.” Teal’c gave a nod and passed the word.

Daniel was standing on the rim, looking at the sky and frowning; with the bluish-green morning sky he couldn’t tell if the shimmer was still there.

“Dr. Jackson?” He turned and saw one of the trainees standing a few paces away. Gaafar. Daniel hadn’t worked with the young man, yet.

Sabaa al-khayr,” he said. “Khalid, is it?” The airman cast a startled, yet pleased eye at him.

“Yes, sir. Good morning to you, too, sir. Do you have a moment for a question?” He cast a nervous glance at the general who really didn’t look so intimidating up close, if one ignored the barking, frowning, and overall irritability. The rest of SG-1 were relaxed with him, so maybe there was something Gaafar wasn’t seeing.

“Sure, but could you drop the ‘sir’? The general is ‘sir’, I’m just Daniel.” The few clouds helped a little in spotting the shimmer.

“Yes, s…. Daniel. I’ve been learning that language you and the…Teal’c have been speaking and…”

Daniel quickly turned. “You what?”

“Uh, I was given a copy of your notes about six months ago and ordered to learn it,” Gaafar said apologetically. Daniel looked at Jack who winced.

“Sorry,” he said. “Forgot to tell you. The sergeant is an early birthday present. He speaks twelve languages.”

“Finally, a little help with the linguistics,” Daniel grumped. “Thank you, Jack. Go on, Khalid, what’s your question?”

“My question isn’t so much on the Goa’uld; I’ve been correcting my pronunciations and getting specifics with Teal’c, Bre’tac, and Rya’c. It’s hard to learn a language properly without someone who speaks it, but this one seems to have a little Arabic in it, so…. It’s the locals. Once in a while, I’d swear they’re speaking a word that’s familiar and I don’t mean Arabic, although it’s close.”

Daniel nodded. “Yes, I’ve caught that, too, but I’m not placing it. It's very irritating.”

Gaafar shuffled, seeming slightly embarrassed. “This may sound strange, but …. Well, okay, one of the adults was patting the paw of a cub. She hurt herself. And he said a word –sapu. There’s a Babylonian…” Daniel snapped his fingers, cutting off Gaafar.

Sapnu!” he crowed in delight. “Oh, my God, that’s what’s been irritating me! Taking into account for a shift in language…!”

Daniel gripped his head, giving a moan. Jack and Sam waited for brilliance to speak.

“No!” Daniel cried out. “How the hell did Babylonian words get into their language?! And…crap, I’ve been hearing Sumerian and Assyrian, too!”

“You can differentiate between the three languages?” Gaafar asked, astounded.

“Uh, Daniel?” Jack waved, trying to catch his attention. “Sap..what?”

Sapnu,” Daniel said. “It’s a Babylonian word. It means paw! The cub hurt her paw and her parent said sapu which with a little shift could have originated as sapnu. T’Keet,” he took the cub from around his neck and held her to his chest. “Sapu?” he questioned carefully. She held up a paw. “Yes!” he snuggled her and handed her off to a nearby adult. “That’s why some of the words had a familiar ring! You’re going to drink that coffee, Jack! Oh, God!” He danced around again, holding his head. The others waited.

“Their name. Sua. It means cat!” Not finding a notebook in his pockets, Daniel fell to the ground and started writing in the dirt, muttering to himself.

“Welcome to our world, sergeant,” Jack said, patting the confused airman on the shoulder. “You’ve made his year. He’ll love you forever. And I’m still not drinking that mud he calls coffee.”

“Daniel,” Sam called. He continued his scribbling. Sam planted a boot on his rear and shook him. “Hey. Watch the birds.” Daniel turned over and looked at the sky, frowning in irritation at the interruption.

The birds were actually more like flying lizards, Daniel thought, as he watched the flocks dancing in the sky, looking at the ground for their breakfast. Many were watching the activity below to see if the strange creatures on the ground turned up any grubs or insects for them. They reminded Daniel of seagulls and pelicans watching for dropped food from humans or looking for an edge in stealing a fish. He finally noticed that they were darting around the section of sky they were watching the evening before.

“Interesting,” Daniel said. “We’re not seeing things; there is something there.”

Sam nodded.

“Has anyone tried shooting anything up there?” Jonas asked, leaning on a nearby tree, watching and listening. Daniel got to his feet, brushing himself off. Jack took the gun from the back of his BDU’s and called out a warning. He stood at the edge of the rim, took aim, and shot. A static charge-like energy wave rippled in the sky. Everyone below watched the space above them.

“I want to know what the hell that is,” Sam said, standing with her hands on her hips and glaring at the sky for daring to pique her curiosity.

“Colonel Carter, this is base,” came over her radio.

“Carter here.”

“UAV is incoming, ma’am.”

“Finally,” she muttered. “Roger, base. UAV is incoming, folks!” she called out over the radio. Daniel opened his radio and called out in Goa’uld for the Sua to stay calm and watch the humans for instruction. The Sua were slightly suspicious of the talking things on the shoulders of the humans, but they would be calm.

They heard the buzzing of the UAV and Sam watched the hand-held read-out that Reynolds had handed her in the care package. Daniel and Jack watched over her shoulder.

“Jack, when the UAV is near the spot, would you mind taking another shot?”

“Sure.” He got into position, called out another warning, and waited. When the readings for the space came in on the computer, Sam nodded to Jack. He took his shot. Once again, there was a ripple of energy.

“What?” Sam squeaked, looking at the read-out. “It's saying there’s a solid mass up there! And loaded with naquadah. About the equivalent of a ship. No, two ships, if they’re mothership size.”

“General, that spot is registering as part energy and part matter,” Sam said, watching the read-outs. “I think something is caught between phases. Only the Asgard have the technology to re-phase something outside of a Stargate.”

“Major Bosco, send up an Asgard flare!” Jack called over the radio.

“Yes, sir!”

“Everyone out of the hole!” Jack called down to the Scoop. Everyone dropped whatever they were holding and scrambled up the rim. A burst of light shone in the sky further away and they watched the flare go up and up until it was no longer visible. Teal’c and Daniel reassured the Sua.

“Is there anything in those soil samples?” Jack asked.

“Not sure, sir,” she reported. “Some of the deeper samples have a trace of something that isn’t natural to the area. Very minute traces. Not radioactive and not naquadah. Almost like a meteor strike, but the mineral content isn’t consistent with meteors. I don’t know what the trace is, I haven’t seen it before, sorry, sir.”

“Daniel, you and Teal’c prepare our hosts for an unusual day,” Jack ordered. “Have Sancho here help you.” Daniel clued Gaafar in on Jack-speak.

“What’s going on?” Maynard asked, catching his breath from running up the rim. Allegash, Philips, and Crawford joined him a moment later. Jack nodded for Sam to fill them in.

“Bosco,” he called over the radio.

“Sir.”

“Hold the gate, Major, we may be calling for reinforcements and the problem isn’t local. Possible Goa’uld.”

“Yes, sir!”

“You’re sure these are motherships?” Maynard asked. Jack nodded.

“It isn’t too often Colonel Carter is wrong,” he said. “I’ll go with her first instincts.”

Jack abruptly disappeared in a beam of light, startling the Sua.

“Thor’s here,” Sam announced. He must have been waiting nearby for a response to his missing friends’ problem, she thought. “Daniel, get the locals back into the forest,” she ordered. “Major, get that cub out of the hole!” she shouted at Davis who was standing close to the rim. Davis jumped in and chased the cub who thought he was playing. One of the adults yelled down and the cub paused. Davis snatched her up and she clung to his t-shirt as he hustled back up the rim. She jumped to the nearest adult and scurried under his mane, peering out indignantly at Davis.

Up above, the Asgard ship became visible. Teal’c called to the Sua, reminding them of the conversation they had.

“Is this of the gods?” M’Net asked, ears pulled far back as he looked at the ship.

“No,” Daniel said. “This is a friend. We think that the sky gods are actually vessels lost in part of the sky. They aren’t gods. This friend can help. Jack is up there now.”

“The gods did not take him?”

“No, the light was a different way of travel. Our friend in that vessel used the light to bring Jack up to him. Jack will be back. He’s safe; I’ve traveled that way, too. We don’t know if these other vessels are friends or enemies, so we are being careful by sending the Sua to the safety of the forest. We don’t want you hurt.”

“You have the scent of J’k on you this morning,” M’Net noticed. Daniel smiled and nodded.

“Yes,” he said. “T’Lan was right, he was afraid to approach me. He isn’t afraid anymore.”

“He is…..expectant,” M’Net said. “No, maybe anxious is a better word. There is still a fear inside of him.”

“You can tell all that by smell?” Daniel asked. M’Net arched his whiskers. “I am aware of his fear and he trusts me to help him overcome it.”

“M’Net, can I ask the Sua to not talk about my relationship with Jack?” Daniel asked. “Not many of my people speak this language, but those that do don’t need to hear about it. My people consider this personal information. Part of the fear in Jack is because a lot of our people don’t approve of males having this kind of relationship with each other, and he could get into a great deal of trouble if others found out.”

“Strange customs. Yes, I will tell my people,” M’Net promised. “Is it permissible for us to speak of it?”

“Yes, I don’t mind.”

“Heads up!” Sam called out. She stood behind a tree and took aim at the sky which had begun to flicker from aqua to blacks and grays. SGC personnel all took a defensive position and watched. The shape of a Goa’uld mothership shown for a moment before flickering out again. Several muttered oaths could be heard.

“That was the bad guys,” Daniel whispered to the Sua. “They are of the race of Ra. Let us hope that the others will be good guys.”

Ears flattened as M’Net took a step backward at the mention of Ra.

“Listen up!” They heard Jack’s voice over the radios the moment he reappeared. “Thor is going to bring them out of this phase thing. Two ships. Looks as though they were caught in mid-battle with each other. He doesn’t know who the System Lord is, but the other ship belongs to his friends. Thor is going to join the fight as soon as they appear so…. watch out for falling Goa’uld. Out.”

“Back!” Sam yelled. “Now!” As humans hurried away from the Scoop, Sua followed, not understanding.

A moment later, two more ships were in the sky. Weapons were immediately reactivated on the ships and the battle resumed. Thor opened fire. Not expecting a second ship firing at it, the Goa’uld mothership retreated to re-organize. Death gliders continued to fly, firing at the unknown ship as the Asgard ship chased after the Goa’uld.

To the shock of everyone, the large valley was suddenly filled with land which overflowed the rim. Remnants of an ancient village dropped with it.

With a nod from Sam, Teal’c took aim with his staff and fired. The glider came down a few miles away in the forest. More staff weapons were fired from off in a distance; the main camp joining in the games. Two more gliders came down. As the air battle continued with help from ground forces, several gliders came in under the fire and landed. Jaffa headed out of the ships, firing into the forest.

“One squad, secure those gliders!” Jack ordered. Teal’c and Sam headed out with Nate and Jonas.

Cubs were rounded up and sent into nearby caves with the other non-combatants. A few of the older cubs, old enough to take direction, were given weapons. The humans didn’t agree; this wasn’t their world and no one had time to argue the point.

The landed gliders were snuck up on from the rear and occupied before their original pilots could take them back. The Jaffa were taken out by ground fighters when they turned back to the sound of their gliders starting up. The gliders were quickly in the air and engaged. Those belonging to the missing System Lord were scattered as two of their own suddenly fired on them. Between the unknown mothership, two rogue gliders, and ground to air fire, the remaining gliders lasted only another fourty-five minutes.

“You still bored, Bob?” Jack asked Allegash as he stood and waited for his pilots. His ‘trainees’ looked back at him. A crash nearby made them jump and instinctively cover their heads and duck. Jack leaned on his P-90 and watched the smoking ruins of gliders fall from the sky. Several forest fires were started; the ground was moist, though, so hopefully, the fires wouldn’t last long. The Sua were warned of the fires and a couple of runners headed toward their village; they knew how to deal with forest fires.

“Are the sky gods gone?” M’Net asked Daniel a bit sadly.

Daniel nodded. “Yes,” he said. “I’m sorry; those weren’t true sky gods. They were two tribes at war who were stuck for a long time. Those belonging to the race of Ra are dead. We don’t know who the others are, but they are friends of our friend, so I don’t think they will harm you. I am sorry for the mess, though,” he said, indicating all the smoldering scrap metal.

Although in shock, M’Net could see the humor in the situation and arched his whiskers.

“Daniel!” Jack called out. “Do not, I repeat, DO NOT, go play in the dirt. Not, yet. That hill needs to settle and I’d rather not have to dig you out.”

“Yes, Jack.”

Jack looked suspiciously at him.

“Promise?”

Daniel sighed and held up his hand. “I promise. Archaeologist here; I do understand about settling earth. Could someone at least do a fly-by and get me pictures?” He leaned over to M’Net. “Please tell your people that no one is to go on the hill,” he said. “The dirt may cave in and trap them. It needs to settle.”

M’Net passed the word.

“Hey!” Nate called out, coming in with the others. “Where’s my cigar?”

“He knows how to fly alien death gliders, too?” Maynard questioned with an arched eyebrow.

“He learns quickly,” was all Jack said. “Carter, you want to take the glider back up? Daniel wants pictures.”

She readily agreed, her face flushed from her adrenalin fix. She found the digital camera and started back to the glider with Davis.

“Heads up,” Jack warned, watching the sky. A smaller ship left the mothership and made a leisurely descent to the ground. Sam and Davis waited, hands on their weapons. The ship landed in a nearby field and several people came off and walked toward them. Two men and one woman, leather kilts. One of the men and the woman had swords strapped to their backs.

“Who is in charge here?” Man with sword stepped forward and asked.

Jack stepped forward. “Jack O’Neill, General, US Air Force.”

The man stepped up to Jack and held out his arm. “Friend Thor told us of you,” he said, giving a slight bow. “I am Ninurta, Commander of Queen Inanna’s armies. We wished to thank those who offered us rescue.”

Daniel felt his face pale at the mention of the names. Jack grasped forearms with the man.

“We are grateful,” Inanna said. She was loosening her long black hair which had been pinned neatly away from her light brown face. “Is there anything we can do to repay you?”

“We’re always on the lookout for new friends,” Jack said graciously. “Just out of curiosity, who was the System Lord you were fighting?”

“That was Enlil,” the second, older man, without a sword said. “We lived on your world for a time and we left shortly after he became so changed. He followed us here, where we were building a new home.”

“Enlil?” Daniel questioned, slightly hoarse. “The god of air Enlil? From Mesopotamia?”

“Yes,” the man said, inclining his head. “Kalam was our home for a thousand years. We do not understand what happened with my brother, except that he was suddenly changed, insisting that we worship him as our god. He’s always had an ego but this was beyond what we were willing to put up with. I am Enki, chief adviser to Queen Inanna.” Daniel thought he was going to hyperventilate.

“Friend Thor has told us, briefly, what happened with Enlil,” Inanna said. “We mourn for Enlil’s loss, but he was lost to us long ago.”

“Sam?” Jack looked at her.

“No snakes,” Sam said, not sensing any of the usual creepy-crawlies around the three.

“You’re speaking English,” Jack mentioned to them.

“Thor was kind enough to update our language,” Enki said. “It seems simple, traces of Persian.”

“Yes,” Daniel said, lighting up. “We call it proto-Indo-European. From the Indus Valley.”

Enki nodded thoughtfully. “Yes, I can see…”

“Uh, people?” Jack held up a hand to stop the geek love-fest. “How about we sit down and talk over a few things? Like what’s been happening up there?”

The newcomers insisted on first taking the hand of the one who solved the problem of their situation. Sam flushed as the men bowed over her hand. They then insisted on providing for their people still aboard the ship first, were then introduced to the locals, and sat down with the leadership for land negotiations. The Anunnaki were adamant that they wouldn’t stay anyplace they weren’t welcome. Even Daniel was biting at the bit to talk with them, but Anunnaki priorities were not necessarily Tau’ri priorities.

Negotiations with the Tau’ri were secondary, much to the irritation of the undercover generals, and a quick and cutting argument with Daniel convinced Jack to hold off until things are settled on the Sua home front. Many Sua from ancient times were aboard the Heaven’s Bow, the former unknown ship, having been in service to the Anunnaki. With their families long dead, their society and language having changed, they needed to be repatriated. If they wanted to be. Most seemed to be politely declining, preferring to remain with their Anunnaki families.

A shocked whisper from M’Net informed Daniel that scents were co-mingled. Daniel took it to mean a little cross-species mingling had been going on, which surprised him, given the extreme physical variations of the two species. Human strains frequently got together but it was unusual for human and non-human. The Serrakin were one of the few Daniel knew that did cross-species togetherness; Sam’s friend Warrick, reptilian, had a human wife and there were many who were of mixed species, which was driving the SGC biologists a little crazy since cross-breeding wasn’t supposed to be possible. Actually, thinking about M’Net’s mini-biology lesson, Daniel had to admit that there were a few Sua features that could be interesting to explore.

Davis came over and handed Daniel the camera. He and Sam had gone up for the fly-by while the others talked. Daniel eagerly switched it on and began to pour over the images with Davis leaning over his shoulder, softly talking as he pointed things out.

“We need to talk, Paul,” Daniel quietly said, slowly walking away from the main group as he looked at the images. “…what is that?..Oh, right. Anyway. Just to give you a heads-up, I may be starting a new relationship when we get home. Some serious negotiations need to be done, but it more than likely will happen.”

Davis looked at him with raised eyebrows. “Since you haven’t left this planet in the past four days, I can only assume it’s with someone present. I won’t ask?”

Daniel gave a soft smile and put a hand on Davis’ back. “You’ll probably find out, but no, don’t ask.” He stopped and half-sat on a rock. “It’s something I’ve wanted for years but I didn’t know there was a possibility for it so I didn’t pursue it. I recently found out the possibility is there. A lot of talking and a couple of kisses have passed. You need to know that.”

Davis wasn’t concerned. “Thank you for telling me,” he said. “Daniel, I want you to be happy. I am a little surprised that this is coming from this particular crowd. Since there are only two women here, one being married and the other a new airman, I’m assuming we’re talking about a man. If he makes you happy, I’ll step aside.”

“I don’t know, yet,” Daniel said. “He hasn’t done this before and he’s a little on the freaked side. He does want me; I think he’s afraid of himself. I’m not sure who was more surprised, him or me.”

“And you still want to give it a try? A relationship with him?” Davis asked with a concerned frown. “You know as well as I do that bi curious het men tend to go into deep denial. I don’t want to see you hurt.”

“I know and he’s the one who approached me,” Daniel said. “I know him, Paul, he would never have approached me if he wasn’t serious about this; he has too much to lose. You’re my friend and I want to keep you as my friend. I enjoy your company. Will you be alright with this if he and I do get together?”

Davis put his arms around Daniel and hugged him. “It’s fine,” he assured Daniel. “I’ll miss sleeping with you, but I’ll survive.”

“I see,” Daniel said, leaning back to peer at him. “I’m just a piece of ass?”

“Of course,” Davis said. “A very good looking piece of ass.”

Daniel laughed. “You’re a shit, Paul,” he informed the man. “Come on, let’s get back.”

They looked at the pictures as they walked, refocusing for close-ups and discussing the site. Daniel ignored the thud to his shoulders and stroked the tail around his neck as he and Paul talked about the images.

T”Keet looked at the strange thing in Daniel’s hands and poked at it, chirping a query.

“Camera,” Daniel said. “Pictures.” He handed the camera to Paul and posed with the Sua cub around his neck. “She wants to know what it is,” he explained to Davis. They got their picture taken and Daniel opened the image, showing T’Keet.

“See? T’Keet and Daniel,” he said to the cub. The child was practically quivering as she looked closely at it. She gave it a hesitant poke.

“Yes, that’s T’Keet.” He pointed at her and zoomed in on her furry little face, blue and green eyes wide, whiskers arched as she stared at Davis from Daniel’s shoulders. The image seemed to spook her a little, so Daniel turned it off. He brought her down to his chest and cuddled her. She calmed and purred in happy reassurance.

There was an argument going on when they got back; Philips and Nate. Before anyone could move, Philips was punched and on the ground, his face in the dirt. Jack pulled Nate off and sent him to cool down. Philips jumped to his feet and got in Jack’s face. Daniel looked at them; despite the fact that Philips was a sergeant for their outing, he was still a colonel and had no business yelling at a general. Jack saw them and crooked a finger at them.

“Uh, oh,” Davis breathed. Daniel handed T’Keet to M’Net and went over.

“What’s up?” he asked Jack. Maynard and Allegash were on their way to the scene.

“What were you two doing off by yourselves?” Jack asked bluntly. Daniel held up the camera and didn’t take it personally; he knew Jack was under pressure.

“Looking at the pics and talking.” He handed the camera to Jack. “Nothing else, ask T’Keet. I’m sorry for not taking a chaperone.”

“Teal’c!” Jack called out. “Please ask M’Net to ask T’Keet what Daniel and the major were doing.”

Teal’c raised an eyebrow and relayed the question. After a lengthy, piping dialogue with the cub, Daniel and Davis talked, gave a hug, and put her in the thing. She prompted Jack to look by pushing at the camera in his hand. Jack flicked through the images until he came to their portrait which he held up to Philips.

“Have you ever tried making out when there’s a rambunctious toddler in the room, airman?” he asked. “It doesn’t happen, take my word for it. I’ll give you my ex-wife’s number, you can ask her.”

“How do we know that’s what the cub said?” Philips belligerently insisted, dabbing at the blood on his lip.

“Because that’s what she said.”

They looked up at the advance of Enki. “I apologize for overhearing, but I’m afraid most of the camp overheard. Teal’c gave an accurate account of the conversation between M’Net and the cub. And the connotation underlying ‘hug’ was one of friendship. With a nose like hers, she’d smell the difference no matter what someone told her.”

“You speak Sua?” Maynard asked.

Enki shook his head. “No, my throat doesn’t work like that; I understand the language, though.” He looked at the gathered humans. “Even if the men were ‘making out’ as you say, why would that be a problem? Their presence wasn’t required anywhere, was it?”

Daniel held up a finger to the military, stopping the argument he saw coming. “The modern military theory of Earth does not support shield-mates any longer,” he carefully explained to Enki. “Same gender unions are frowned upon and are, in fact, a court marshal offense. I am not military, so I can’t be punished for it, but Major Davis is military and could face charges if we had been doing something, and there is no evidence that Major Davis disobeyed regulations.”

Enki frowned in contemplation. “I don’t see how you are able to keep your military strong without shield-mates, but as you will.”

“We are stronger without them,” Philips spewed. “And there is plenty of evidence against Major Davis for a court-marshal.” Davis paled and straightened his spine.

“What evidence would that be?” Daniel asked. “You’re going to hold a little camp-site flirting against him? We haven’t done anything.”

“Over-nights at your home count, Doctor, whether he’s on duty or not, and he will be held accountable.”

“How do you know where the major’s been sleeping?” Jack asked. There was silence from the humans. Everyone looked at Philips.

“I think Colonel…Sergeant…Philips and I need to talk,” Maynard said. He and Allegash escorted Philips away from the group. Jack gestured with his head for the rest of the group to disperse.

“Davis and Daniel stay,” he said quietly. The two remained. “Major, I’ll say it once again: I don’t give a crap. My personal opinion is that a person’s bedroom is no one’s business. My personal opinion doesn’t hold squat with the Pentagon, however. If this does come down to a court-marshal, I will do what I can to support you. As far as I’m concerned, you are a highly valued, if unofficial, member of SG-1 and we will all back you. You have done your best by us for years, and I will do my best by you. Are we clear?”

“Yes, sir, thank you, sir,” Davis said hoarsely. Jack nodded and looked from one to the other.

“If you two need to talk privately, that’s fine,” he said. “Take one of us with you. We will stay out of hearing distance but still within sight. Or just don’t leave sight of the group. Does that work?” They both nodded.

“Yes, sir.”

“Yes, Jack.”

“Daniel, I know that look,” Jack said. “Do not take any of this as your responsibility. You couldn’t have known someone would be outside your window taking pictures. Any charges against Major Davis can be countered by charges from you for trespassing and criminal negligence. Granted, it’s a minor charge, but Philips would get rapped for it. He’s getting an insubordination from me. Major, what’s Philips got against you? Personally, I mean.”

Davis thought about it. “I’m not sure, sir,” he said honestly. “He and I have never hit it off; I put it down to a personality conflict. I don’t know if I imagined it, but hostilities seemed to escalate when I was assigned to the SGC and Area 51. I could be wrong.”

Jack nodded. “I’ll check it out,” he said. “You two go play. Daniel, I know you’re dying to mingle and get some curiosity fixed. Davis, Carter is scavenging for odds and ends, if you’d like to assist.”

“Yes, sir, and thank you,” Davis said. Jack held out his hand. Startled, Davis hesitated a moment before taking it. He gave Jack a nod and excused himself.

“Thank you, Jack,” Daniel said softly. He got the side of his head patted.

“I said I trust you. He’s a good man and a good officer, Danny, he doesn’t deserve this bullshit. Go on, make new friends. I’ll deal with Philips.”

“What prompted Nate to punch him?”

Jack tried to hide the smirk. “Philips called him a long-haired faggot and then told him that he was probably giving his ass up to you and Davis in exchange for my good graces. Nate told him he’d rather be putting out to you guys than be Philips’ wife and have to try and enjoy his dickless self for another day. Philips called him a queer pussy and at least he had a dick. Wish I could get away with punching the bastard.”

Daniel smiled and nodded. His twitching nose led him to several Anunnaki, newly off their ship, who were heading toward the river. He caught up with them and they greeted him cheerfully.

“Would you mind if I came along and asked questions?” he asked in careful Sumerian.

“Only if we can ask questions, too,” one of the men said, an amused glint in his eyes. Daniel went for a swim with them, looking forward with glee to practicing his Sumerian. If only he could find a way to publish it once he got home…..

It was well into the day when Jack looked around and noted that his favorite annoyance wasn’t in sight. Davis was around but no Daniel. “Daniel,” he called over the radio. He got nothing back.

“Has anyone seen Dr. Jackson?” he called out.

“Yes, sir,” Colins piped up. “I saw him headed toward the river earlier.”

“He’s helping to water-proof some cubs,” Sam said. “I checked in on him half-hour ago.”

Jack nodded and headed toward the water. He turned back to Sam. “Did he bring trunks?”

“Nope,” she said with a grin. Jack shook his head and kept walking. The river was fairly crowded with naked bodies all swimming, chatting, or tossing hooting cubs from shoulders. Adult Sua watched from the shore, not sure of what to make of their cubs taking to the water. Jack looked around and noted that Daniel was the only one of his people who was in the water, the rest were Anunnaki warriors. Sergeant Gaafar sat on the shore, talking with a couple of warriors who seemed to feel no need to put clothes on after their swim. Gaafar carefully avoided gazing down.

“At least someone around here has sense,” Jack said, looking at him. The airman started to rise and Jack waved him down.

“Hey, Jack, come on in,” Daniel called out from the water. He was carefully guiding a cub through the water, tail spinning like a rudder.

“What are you doing?” Jack called out to him.

“What’s it look like? You said to go play. I’m playing.”

“How do you know the water is safe?” Jack tried to see below the surface for creatures.

“Because the Sua said it was safe.”

A yell came from above and Jack ducked his head. Someone came swinging down on a rope tied to a tree limb. He jumped back from the splash. The cubs hooted and smacked at the water with paws and tails.

Jack found a dry rock nearby and sat down. Daniel put the cub on his back and swam over. He got out of the water and sat on the grass. The cub, T’Keet from the looks of the russet tail, shook off, spraying water everywhere, and ran up the hill toward the adults.

“How are the peace-talks going?” Daniel asked, lying back to catch some sun, his hands locked under his head.

Jack tried to look every place else except at Daniel’s perfect, naked, gleaming body laying next to him.

“Well enough with the Sua that the old guy, Enki, is now talking with Maynard. Daniel, could you please get dressed?”

Daniel opened an eye. “Why? No one else is.”

“That isn’t the point. Think about skin cancer. Or modesty?”

“Jack, do you see a tan line on me? I’m not parading around the rest of the SGC, I’m with locals and this is how it’s done. If you don’t like it, don’t look.”

“I do like it, that’s why I’d rather you were dressed,” Jack hissed, looking around for ears.

Daniel smiled. “Just think cold showers.”

“They don’t work,” Jack muttered. He took a double-take to the other side of the river. “Daniel, what….?”

Daniel turned his head, holding a hand to his brow.

“Jack, chill,” he said gently. “It’s normal for this culture.”

“Daniel, those are not Sua having sex on the grass over there.”

“No, they’re Anunnaki, and it is normal for the warriors to take comfort with each other when their wives aren’t present, and since almost all of them lost their families a long time ago, they need a lot of comforting. The Sua don’t care, sex is part of life and they don’t hide it. Now, take a deep breath and just talk to me; what are Maynard and Enki up to? Watch out for Enki, he’s the Middle Eastern version of Coyote. He’s a good guy, just a little tricky.”

“Who?” Jack made an effort to be dispassionate about the scene across the river, and concentrated on Daniel.

“Loki? But a good guy.”

“Gotcha. So Maynard is asking him about weapons and ships, as I thought he would. Enki seems to be giving him a bit of a runaround, talking about children and scalpels. Maynard isn’t amused. I tried telling the Joint Chiefs about condescending older cultures, but they don’t listen. After the most recent fiasco in Palestine, I understand why no one wants to give us weapons.”

Daniel nodded. “Enki isn’t the one to be talking to about weapons, anyway,” he said. “He’s the equivalent of the village wise-man. Weapons fall under the purview of Inanna and Ninurta. Inanna is about the equivalent of the president and, yet, she actually goes into battle; her word is final even to kings. Ninurta is the equivalent of Maynard and Vidrine. Enki’s the one you sit with for the internal stuff; heart and spirit stuff. He’s probably getting into Maynard’s innards to find out what makes him tick before making a recommendation to Inanna. You want to be on Enki’s good side, or you won’t get anywhere. He’s Inanna’s mentor and Ninurta’s father, and Ninurta is Inanna’s consort. One of her consorts. There’s a bit of an information triangle there.” Daniel expounded a bit on the Earth mythology of the Anunnaki.

Jack thought about it. “Isn’t that Ninurta across the river?”

“Probably,” Daniel said. “He and Shara and Gibil were getting a little cozy earlier.”

“Who?”

“Shara and Gibil are his warrior partners. Ninurta is one of Inanna’s consorts, Shara and Gibil also serve her, but they are more Ninurta’s partners than hers. Shara is about your equivalent.”

Jack was thoroughly confused. “Okay, never mind the pairings. If these guys aren’t Goa’uld, how can they be the ones from ancient Earth?”

Daniel glanced up at him. “I spent some time talking with Shara, and he said it’s Enki’s doing. Apparently Enki likes to tinker around with DNA, which certainly fits with the mythology. He found a way to turn off our internal count-down clock. You’d have to ask Sam for the specifics, my biology isn’t that good. Seems Enki was judicious with his tinkering, though, and only made modifications to choice leadership and a few others. The rest of the Anunnaki are off-spring of so many generations that I don’t care to try and count it.”

“I wouldn’t tell Maynard about the DNA, if I were you,” Daniel warned.

Jack snorted. “Yeah, I can imagine the negotiations for THAT one,” he said.

“The NID would do anything to get their hands on Anunnaki DNA if it comes out in even one report,” Daniel said. Jack agreed; it wouldn’t be the first time he ‘accidentally’ left something out of a report.

“Did you warn Shara?” Jack asked. Daniel nodded.

“And he gave Enki a whisper. Seems the DNA tinkering did have a side-effect, though,” Daniel mentioned. “Made them sterile. No children for those tinkered with.”

“Makes sense,” Jack commented. “Talk about over-population.”

“Not to mention the inbreeding,” Daniel returned.

Jack noticed a few Sua across the way, mingling in the group orgy.

“Danny, I need to go back to the main group,” he said. Daniel looked.

“It’s okay, Jack, I’ll get dressed and go with you.”

Daniel rummaged for his clothes as Gaafar looked the other way. Anunnaki locked forearms with Daniel, making cheerful comments. Daniel laughed at something that was said and left with Jack.

“What did he say that made you look like that?” Jack asked.

Daniel chuckled, slightly pink. “He said they could appreciate why my partner wanted to be alone with me badly enough to get into trouble with his superiors earlier.”

Jack smiled. “The word spread, I see.”

“Oh, yeah,” Daniel nodded fervently. “They’re finding it amusing. Commenting on the whole star-crossed lovers theme which was old by the time Shakespeare got to it. There were a few jokes about whether or not my ass was made for riding or hanging on to. Kind of embarrassing, actually.”

Jack laughed. “Teach you to go native,” he chuckled.

They got back to the main group and found Sam, Jonas, Teal’c, and Davis staring at Jack.

“What?”

Sam crooked a finger and led him through the camp. A quarter of the way around the over-flowing rim, they found a couple of drummers. And Nate singing to a pile of hooting and spinning cubs. Very pleasantly singing to the cubs. Daniel joined in the staring at Jack contest.

“Hey, I don’t sing,” he protested. “Talk with Loki or Thor, they must have tweaked something.”

Nate heard him. “HA!” he called out. “Just because you dropped choir, doesn’t mean I had to.”

Esplain dees,” Daniel said with a look of contemplation. Nate grinned evilly at Jack who groaned, tossed his hands up and turned his back to them.

“His voice did some major cracking when he was fourteen, so he dropped choir,” Nate ‘splained. “Told himself that it was for sissies anyway, so he never learned how to use the new voice. I took the time to learn.”

“Uh huh,” Daniel and Sam looked from one to the other. “Anything else we should know?”

“NO!” Jack yelped.

“I think his old guitar is in his Mom’s attic,” Nate volunteered. Jack groaned and hung his head.

Reeeaaalllly…..” came a two-part chorus. Jonas and Davis bit back smiles. Teal’c’s eyebrows went higher.

Jack spun around and pointed at Daniel and Sam. “Don’t you two even think about it,” he warned. “I haven’t touched that thing in about thirty years, and I have no desire to. As soon as we get home, I’m calling Mom and telling her to burn it,” he threatened Nate.

“He can also tear up the floor at a hop,” Nate offered. Jack winced and walked away from them. He could hear giggles behind him.

“Jack, you’re taking me dancing,” Sam called after him. Jack began to make a mental list of ‘How to Kill One’s Clone.’

“Uh, Daniel?” Paul motioned him over. Davis looked from Jonas to Daniel. He put a hand on Daniel’s shoulder and steered him away with Jonas following. “Jonas and I have kinda pieced together what’s so special about Nate, that he’s the general’s clone, but no one has actually given us the low-down. Care to elaborate?”

Daniel stopped and looked at them. “Are you serious?” Daniel groaned, shutting his eyes for a moment. “Okay.”

After he gave them the summary version of Nate’s incarnation via a renegade Asgard scientist named Loki, Daniel went to find Jack and whispered a confession in his ear. Jack looked at him.

“Are you serious?”

“That’s what I said,” Daniel murmured, looking around. “I thought that particular report went directly to Paul’s office?”

“So did I.” Jack glowered. “I’d be interested in knowing where it DID go. Where’s Davis? Major Davis, report to me,” Jack called out over the radio. Davis came jogging into the camp a moment later and presented himself to Jack.

“Major, General Hammond sent an extremely Top Secret report regarding Nate directly to your office a couple years ago,” Jack said in a low voice. “Are you absolutely sure you didn’t get it? Could General Vidrine have not told you about it?”

Davis thought about it. “It’s a possibility, sir,” he acknowledged. “When it concerns the SGC, there isn’t much the general doesn’t tell me. I’m sort of his confidant, sir, he works my security clearance to its max and he trusts my advice.”

Jack rubbed his face, thinking. "I’ll contact him when we get home. Be prepared for a problem,” he advised. “Dismissed, Major, thank you.” Davis nodded, glancing at Daniel and heading off.

“Nate needs to know,” Daniel reminded him. Jack nodded

One of the Anunnaki was walking toward them, his face set in a frown.

“Ninurta,” Daniel whispered to Jack.

“General, may we speak for a moment?” the warrior asked politely.

“Of course,” Jack said. “Daniel can stay. How can I help you?”

Ninurta was pensive as he shifted slightly. “I’m unsure of how your military deals with internal issues, so please forgive me if I over-step my bounds. And I hope my language interpretation is correct, Thor was rather in a hurry when he downloaded your language into us.” Jack nodded for him to continue. “That one you are preparing to return to your home, Philips? Our Dark Queen is unhappy about him and wishes you to be aware of his darkness. Would you meet with her?”

Jack looked at Daniel and nodded.

“Sure, lead the way,” Jack said. Ninurta gave a short bow and turned. “Could you explain a little about this Dark Queen?” Jack asked.

“She is Ereshkigal,” Ninurta said as though that said it all. Daniel gave Jack a look and Jack paid more attention. “She sees into the heart and soul of a person, and speaks Truth to us.”

“Jack, her name literally translates as Queen of the Great Earth. It’s a reference to the Underworld. According to our myths, she is able to reach into a person and take their soul from them.” Daniel said. “I translate that as being able to cut the life cord. The cord within us that connects our soul to being alive. It’s a spiritual thing.” Ninurta nodded.

“Yes, she has that ability, though she does not often use it. It takes a great deal of her strength and requires days of rest after.”

They entered the Anunnaki camp and made their way to the center. Tents had been set up, the cloth having been exported from their ship which was in orbit. The tents were colorful, reminding Daniel of Bedouin tribes. Most of the Anunnaki were men, the women having died out long ago when their ship and the land below it were caught between phases. Most of the women and children had been on that piece of land. From the images on the camera, there were a lot of bones to recover. So far, Daniel had seen only five living women among the warriors, and that included Inanna and now Ereshkigal. The genetic line of the Anunnaki was going to die out.

Ninurta stopped them at the front of a tent and went in. He returned a moment later and led them inside.

“My Queen Inanna and my Lady Ereshkigal, may I present General Jack O’Neill and Dr. Daniel Jackson of Tau’ri.” Ninurta bowed to his queens and ushered the men in. Daniel made a polite bow over Inanna’s hand which Jack followed. As Daniel turned to Ereshkigal, he noticed with shock that her eyes were milk white. She was blind.

“May I take your hand, my Lady?” he asked politely. She smiled with a nod and raised her hand. He bowed over it and introduced himself. Jack did the same, giving Daniel a look when he saw her eyes.

“Please be comfortable,” Inanna invited them, gesturing to the throw pillows that were scattered on the floor. The men sat and took the drinks that were offered to them by a shaved servant wearing nothing more than a cloth around his waist. Ninurta stood a step behind Inanna, waiting in attendance. Daniel noticed with a start that a large, red-gold macaw sat on a perch, eying them as though they were his next meal.

“You are bound to each other,” the other lady unexpectedly spoke. “And to a queen,” she added. She nodded to herself. “That is proper. And no, Jack, you are not damned; your darkness is not of your doing. Your beloved next to you will show you how to free yourself, for none can damn you except yourself. The choice is always yours even to the last breath.”

Jack stiffened, his face whitening.

“Yes, your hearts are good,” she said. “Even in your errors, your intent is not one of malice. There is one in your camp, however, that you should be warned of.”

“Colonel Philips,” Jack said. Ereshkigal nodded in disapproval.

“He is not your friend, Jack,” she said. “I tell you this in payment for your services to us this day. That man holds secrets that could do great harm to you and your people. I cannot see the details, I can only see into his heart.”

The bird muttered.

Zu sees also, but differently than I,” she said. “He sees only the foremost image in a person’s mind but he is unable to interpret the image. Zu, show Jack and Daniel the image you presented to us.”

Before the men could react, they had a clear picture in their heads, almost like a photograph, of Philips opening what looked to be a false back in a filing cabinet.

“This image comes from your man,” Ereshkigal said. “This box seems to be of great importance to him. He yearns to return home and find something in it. Perhaps this will assist you in your dealings with him.”

“I’m very grateful to you,” Jack said. “Can we repay you in some way?”

“No,” she smiled. “You have done more for us than you can ever know just by your rescue of us. Daniel, you are the one who speaks our language?”

“Anna, Ningal,” Daniel responded politely. She smiled and said something which Daniel responded to by moving close and kneeling before her, putting his hand in the one she held out. She spoke to him in their ancient language. Daniel listened carefully, stopping her now and again to clarify a word. She was patient, making sure Daniel understood the intent if not the word itself. He gave her a final nod along with the verbal acknowledgement before standing. The men felt the dismissal and excused themselves.

“What was that all about?” Jack asked when they were clear of the tent.

“She sensed my Ascension and needed to speak about it,” Daniel said. “I confirmed that I was completely aware that I had ascended. Twice. She was astounded.”

“I’m astounded she knows about Ascension,” Jack said.

Daniel smiled. “If she can see into the hearts of men, it stands to reason she knows about Ascension. She knows about the Ancients, and knows that you carry their knowledge. Somehow, she can sense it. She’s a little concerned that it may harm you in the long run. Our immature brains and all. I assured her that we are taking good care of you.”

Jack smiled and gave Daniel’s back a brief caress.

“She knew about us. Is Earth the only planet in the universe that has a problem with this guy-guy stuff?” Jack whined.

Daniel chuckled. “Pretty much,” he said with a nod. “We’re a little backward in that regard. Hey, are we leaving today?”

Jack nodded. “I think so,” he said. “Maynard is a little miffed at the lack of humility aliens have toward us humans. I did warn him.”

“And he has yet to meet a Goa’uld. I’d like to get together with you and Sam in a couple days. Dinner. We really need to talk. Some serious talk. We need to see where each other is at, heart-wise, emotionally, mentally. Can we?”

“Sure, I’ll let her know. Daniel? Could you leave T’Keet here?”

 


 

Chapter 4

 

Getting home from the Sua home world with at least a promise of more talks with the Anunnaki settled Maynard and the others into minor grumbles rather than full-blown ranting. At least they got a clear picture of what the SGC was up against on a daily basis; they had the sore muscles and calluses to prove it. They were more concerned with the secret panel behind Philips’ filing cabinet. Not only was the file on Nate found there, but also eight other Top Secret files that really shouldn’t have been out of Vidrine’s office. Nate’s file was the only original, the others were copies. The Crypto department went to work on Philips’ computer, looking for more information that he shouldn’t have. Philips was promised early retirement in place of a court marshal if he quietly dropped his witch-hunt against Major Davis. According to Sam, Philips was an ass when she was at the Pentagon; a major at the time, Philips was under the impression that he’d be first in line for any military hardware development that came out of the newly formed SGC. He was shocked when Davis was jumped ahead of him and made General Vidrine’s right hand man. When he still wasn’t given the SGC upon becoming a colonel, he knew Davis had been putting bad bugs in the general’s ear. Faced with treason charges and a psych-eval, Philips agreed to the retirement.

Nate was warned that his file was compromised. He took it with only a few curses and agreed to carry a gun, which he had been refusing. He still wasn’t in Jack and Sam’s good graces on the Cassandra front.

Daniel printed out the image of him and T’Keet and framed it for his base quarters. Jack had been referring to the cub as Daniel’s adopted daughter who might be getting a sex change into a son. At least the name was unisex. Daniel flicked a Cheerio at him.

He found Sam in her quarters finishing up her report.

“Hi,” he said, coming in and sitting on the edge of her bed. She smiled and turned to face him.

“Hi, did you finish your report?” she asked.

“Yes, Colonel, I did, and it’s in your inbox,” he reported with a sloppy salute. “I’m a little disappointed that Dad won’t let me keep the kitten, but I’ll survive.”

“And you’re tickled at finding your favorite pantheon,” Sam guessed. Daniel had been practically bouncing on air since they got back. He grinned and nodded.

“I got so much information from that short time, it makes me nauseous that I can’t publish it,” he said.

“Why don’t you publish under a pseudonym?” she suggested. “Make it look like one of those crazy Grail books. You’ll get a cult following.”

Daniel grimaced. “You’re hysterical,” he dryly informed her. “I am thinking of holding an in-service for our people, though. For various topics, not just this one. Maybe once every couple of weeks. Instead of sending around Memos, get everyone together and we can get the information out and questions asked and answered.”

“Have you talked with Jack?” she asked.

“No, I’m still formulating a formal proposal. I know he’d let me, but he needs to answer to higher-ups and I’d like him to have as much information as I can get him.”

He reached out and pulled her chair closer.

“Did he remember to tell you that I’m coming over tomorrow for dinner and talking?” he asked

“No, but that’s alright, come over,” she said. Daniel took one of her hands, linking their fingers and lightly swinging their hands.

“How would you like the evening to end?” he asked.

Sam flushed and lowered her head for a moment. “I don’t know,” she confessed. “Jack’s response is my main concern; I know how he feels about you and I’m good with it, I think it’s beautiful.”

“No, Sam,” Daniel stopped her. “How do YOU feel? Do you want me, too? If you don’t I want you to tell me. I do want you, I have for a long time and I was very disappointed when we couldn’t get together before, but I’m a big boy and I can take a No from you.”

Sam leaned forward, resting her elbows on her knees as she picked at his fingers. “I do want you, Danny,” she said softly. “I’m married; I’m not supposed to be with another man. I know it’s just social conditioning and I’m working through it.”

They were aware of Jack coming into the room, leaving the door open due to the whole husband-wife thing. He saw the heavy talking and leaned quietly against the wall, watching and listening. There was nothing they would say behind his back that they wouldn’t say to his face; it was his right to stay.

“It feels different, what I feel for you compared to what I feel for Jack,” Sam continued. “What I feel for Jack is so deep and so strong that sometimes it hurts. I drown in him. He encompasses me and I feel reborn in his arms. I have never loved someone as much I love him. You’ve changed since being Ascended. To keep with the elements, you used to be scattered air; you are now fire. I can feel you blazing into me sometimes. You have this way of cutting through the crap and getting to the heart of the matter. Sometimes it scares me, but I feel the better for it afterward. I’m a little afraid of the changes that will happen and that’s the part that scares me about all this. So, yes, I do want you, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to allow the changes in me that I know are going to occur.”

Daniel leaned forward and put his forehead to hers. “You’re the bravest person I know, Sam,” he whispered. “I wish I could kiss you and hold you properly at this moment, so consider a rain-check given. We will talk tomorrow night. Don’t have any expectations for anything else, okay? Whatever happens, happens. No planning. One of the Anunnaki, Ereshkigal, referred to you as our queen, which I found appropriate; as our Queen, you have the final word. I wouldn’t mind the three of us ending up in bed, making love to each other. If you aren’t ready to go there, that’s fine, too, I will never pressure you. You just need to tell me.”

He stood and pulled her up into his arms, holding her close. He breathed in her hair as she breathed in his own scent off his chest, taking comfort with each other. To anyone walking by the open door, this was just SG-1 being their usual touchy-feely selves, and with Jack in the doorway watching, no one would think any differently.

Sam stepped away and smoothed out Daniel’s shirt.

“Okay?” Jack asked. Sam gave a nod. “Good. Actually I’m glad you’re both here, saves me repeating myself. Col. Philips has disappeared. I already called Nate and put him on alert. Cassandra has instructions that if anything happens, she is to call in and if she can, get here right away. I want them both off-world if it looks like something is going down. Daniel, I want your take on Nate.”

Daniel lifted an eyebrow and crossed his arms into his thinking position. “In what way?”

“Overall; emotionally, mentally, what do you see?”

“I see a mostly well-adjusted young man who happens to have your memories,” Daniel said. “I think that after the initial joy-ride, reality set in and he made the conscious decision to dig out your baggage and dump it, which probably kept him sane. I think he shocked himself when he discovered Cass really is an attractive and available young lady and I think that finding each other is a good thing. They’re both strangers in a strange land and holding onto each other gives them a sense of community and family. I think Nate needs his parents, your parents, having your love for them, and I think that there is a secret part in him that is hoping for acceptance from you so that he can have them in at least some semblance of family. He isn’t mentally a child, he’s you (which makes the mental child debatable), so he doesn’t look to you as a father-figure, but I think he could use a friend outside the teenagers he’s hanging around. I think he’s looking forward to college in the fall. He’s majoring in Primary Education, did you know that? He wants to teach, nine to fourteen-year olds, preferably. Knowing you, Jack, I think it’s a wonderful choice and he’ll be perfect for it. I already promised to tutor him in Spanish and child psych. I was going to ask Sam if she would volunteer for the science. He should breeze through the rest of it by himself.”

Jack blinked. “Think much, do you?” he asked. He grimaced. “No, I didn’t know about his major. Teaching was actually my secondary choice when I was figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went into the Air Force, telling myself that I’d be out after my first tour. I decided that I liked it. As for family, I understand his need for it and I will think about it. Promise. Am I really that irritating?”

The other two tried not to smile too much. “Sometimes,” Daniel said. “We love you anyway and you seem to be mellowing in your old age.”

Jack glared at him. “I’ll show you old,” he warned.

“I’m going to hold you to that, Jack,” Daniel immediately responded. Jack flushed, caught. Sam snickered.

“Yes, I’ll help him pass the science requirement,” she said. “I’ll let him know. He shouldn’t have any problem with the math; you’re good at that, Jack.”

“I’ll offer him history tutoring, too,” Daniel remembered. Sam looked at him and nodded. “Jack’s terrible at history.”

“Cassie passed with flying colors after our help,” she mentioned. “She said something about another language for next year.”

“Really?” Daniel brightened. “I’ll call her.”

“Do you two mind?” Jack butted in. “You sound like proud parents.”

“We are,” Sam said. “We all raised her, Jack; you can’t tell me you aren’t proud of her, too. Who got her through math and English?”

He gave a reluctant smile. “I did,” he admitted. “Okay, you’re right, we did good. If those two make us grandparents, I will not be a happy camper,” he grumped.

***

When Daniel got to their house the next evening, Jack was so obviously nervous Daniel was surprised the man didn’t fall over in a dead faint. It was sweet and amusing, on a certain level. Daniel kissed Sam and pointed a thumb at Jack who was jumping from room to room.

“Yeah, well, I’m a little nervous, too,” she admitted. Daniel put his arms around her.

“It’s just me, Sam,” he reminded her. “We don’t need to do anything, we’re having dinner and talking and being together. Nothing we haven’t done before.”

“Yes, but the intent is completely new,” she pointed out.

“Is it?” he asked, leaning back against the counter and settling her against him. “You and I have made out before, and I’ve showered with Jack so many times that being naked near him is second-nature. This is just one more step and if it doesn’t feel right, all you need to do is say so.”

Sam laid her forehead against his chest. “Actually, this feels better than I thought it would,” she said into his chest.

“Good.” Daniel lifted her face and kissed her, pouring himself into her, tasting her mouth slowly, thoroughly, as he wanted to do the previous day in her quarters. Sam took her mouth away and looked at his, millimeters from hers. She licked her lips, tasting him.

“How come we couldn’t do that before?” she asked.

“Because Jack wasn’t with us,” Daniel suggested. He held out a hand to Jack who had stopped to watch them. “Are you going to stop flitting long enough for me to get in a kiss?” he asked. Jack flushed, looked at Sam, and stepped forward. Daniel kept one arm around Sam and put the other arm around Jack’s waist, pulling him into their circle. Jack felt self-conscious about kissing Daniel in front of Sam, but after Daniel put his mouth to Jack’s, all reason escaped out the window. After a moment, Jack surrendered and gave into it. His arms went around both and he took his enjoyment of kissing Daniel.

Jack looked at Sam. Her eyes were glazed and she was smiling at him. Jack kissed her and went back to his puttering with the grill.

“I’ve never seen him shy before,” Sam whispered to Daniel.

“He’ll relax,” Daniel promised. “I think he isn’t sure how you are taking this. A lot of times, this is the stage where things either jump forward or stop dead in the water. We shouldn’t just jump into bed; we need to talk this through. I have a good idea of Jack’s needs, taking his past into consideration, but I don’t know about you. I don’t know what you want out of this. You don’t know my needs and desires. You may not like to do the things I like to do.”

Jack brought in a plate of grilled chicken and they moved to the table.

“Why wouldn’t I like the things you like to do?” Sam asked. They sat down and helped themselves. Jack was quiet, watching and listening to them.

“Well, I enjoy making love just as much as the next person, but sometimes I like to experiment. An unusual position, a different place. I like being together outdoors. I like to play games, nothing hard, just playful. I like the energy exchange that happens, and sometimes the energy is more important than an orgasm.”

“I know what you mean,” Sam nodded. “Just being together is sometimes better than the fireworks. What kind of games?”

Daniel smiled and swallowed his chicken. “The kind that will have you calling me names,” he said. “Like making you hold a scarf or tie and telling you not to let go no matter what because if you do, the game ends and I turn over and go to sleep. Head games. Sex really is all in your head because without the will and imagination, nothing happens below the waist. Sometimes I like to just get fucked, plain and simple.”

Sam choked and took a drink. She nodded, slightly red.

“Okay, I can appreciate that,” she said. “I have my moments, too. Which Jack is quite willing to assist me with.” He chuckled and took a sip of his water. “What do you mean by nothing hard?”

“Hard games refers to things like BDSM. I can get into a little fetish, like specific clothes and such, costumes, sometimes toys, but nothing like whips or anything that causes pain. After all the times I’ve had the crap beaten out of me, I don’t need it in the bedroom.”

Sam nodded. “What do you mean by clothes?”

“Skimpy, frilly things, silk, uniforms. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten off on the thought of blowing Jack in his full-dress blues.”

Jack choked on a piece of broccoli. Sam laughed.

“You can laugh, Sam, but you bent over the back of the couch in your blues does it for me, too,” Daniel warned her with a playful grin. She turned red.

“Does it for me, too,” Jack echoed. Sam tossed her fork down and covered her face with her hands.

“You two stop it!” she insisted after a moment. She cleared her throat and tried a couple times to speak. She wadded up her napkin and threw it at Daniel.

“Come on, Sam, are you going to tell me you’ve never thought about putting your uniform on for a little fun and games?” Daniel asked her. “Tell me what kind of things you’d like to try that you haven’t done before. Tell me a fantasy.”

Sam turned even redder. “I’m going to clean up,” she stated, standing and collecting plates.

“Samantha Carter, what are you hiding?” Daniel cooed as he stood to help. “Come on, tell Uncle Danny all about it.”

“Pick on Jack,” she told him.

“Later; you’ve piqued my curiosity. You’re a very bad liar, Sam, spill. Jack, do you know what she’s hiding?”

“Not a clue,” Jack said. “I’m kind of curious myself. Honey, what are you not telling us?”

Daniel cornered her against the counter, his arms locking her in. He trailed his mouth against the back of her neck, barely touching her skin. He flicked his tongue at her and she quivered. A flash came to him, showing him something that he hadn’t noticed before.

“I have an idea,” Daniel said in her ear. “I need you to trust me, though, and play my game.”

“What game?” she asked.

“Just more talking,” he said. “I talk, you respond. Only completely open, honest answers are allowed. Will you do this with me, Sam, will you trust me with you?”

She hesitated and then nodded.

“Good. Let’s go sit in the living room. Jack, can that coffee table be moved aside a bit?”

“Sure.”

Daniel sat on the floor, his back against the couch. He patted the space between his legs and Sam sat with her back to him. Daniel settled her against him.

“Jack, would you sit in the chair, please?” Jack sat. “Don’t say anything, okay? Just watch. Don’t say anything and don’t do anything. If you say anything, this particular game ends. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I do,” Jack confirmed with a nod.

“And do you trust me with Sam?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Thank you. Sam, do you trust me with you?”

“Yes,” she said, leaning her head back against him and he wrapped his arms around her middle.

“Good.” He held her for a moment, quiet, listening to the silence. When their energy synchronized, he slowly raised his knees along the sides of her. He placed her arms around his legs and put her hands on his knees. She resettled herself, lounging against him, into the comfort and warmth of his torso.

“Don’t remove your hands,” he said. “No matter what, unless I tell you otherwise, keep your hands where they are. If you remove your hands, the game ends. You have free will at all times, Sam, all you have to do to end this is to take your hands away. Do you understand?”

She nodded, slightly shaky.

“Good girl. We’re going to talk. This is you and me, this is about honesty and trust and love because I do love you and I trust you absolutely. Do you believe me?”

“Yes.”

“And do you believe that I would never ask you to do anything I thought might hurt you or be against who you are?”

“Yes.”

“Good. Our chat is going to be extremely personal. If we are going to be lovers, we are allowed this intimacy. You can ask me anything you want at another time and I will hold nothing back. This time is about you. Ready?”

[Sam] “Yes.”

[Daniel] “Good. First, I’m taking your shirt off. Lift your hands. I’ll take mine off, too. Feel my skin on yours. Bra off, too. Relax, this is just me and Jack with you and we love you. Now. How old were you the first time you had sex?”

[Sam] “Seventeen.”

[Daniel] “Was it good, okay, or completely forgettable?”

[Sam] “It was okay.”

[Daniel] “Elaborate.”

[Sam] “Teenage fumbling,” she said with a shrug. “It was his first time, too.”

[Daniel] “Have you ever been with a woman?”

[Sam] “No.”

[Daniel] “Do you want to?”

[Sam] “No, I have no interest.”

[Daniel] “Fair enough. Any STD’s?”

[Sam] “Never.”

[Daniel] …

[Sam] “No, I caught crabs from a public toilet when I was about twenty. Completely humiliating.”

[Daniel] Chuckles…. “Okay, we don’t need to go there, I understand. Tell me the top three most risqué places you’ve done something sexual.”

[Sam] “I …went down... on a guy in the back row of a movie, had sex on a beach which I don’t recommend, and had sex in a tree house.”

[Daniel] “A tree house? Did this guy have a kid or something?”

[Sam] “No, his neighbors were on vacation.”

[Daniel] Laughs…. “I see. I hadn’t thought about that one, that’s good. Maybe we can get Jack to build us a tree house. I don’t recommend combining sand and sex, either. Tell me what you thought the first time you saw Jack.”

[Sam] “Arrogant, chauvinist, beautiful eyes.”

[Daniel] “I agree with you about his eyes, and he can get arrogant at times. I’m getting the impression you’re holding back. What else?”

[Sam] “I was thinking that he smelled good, yet he wasn’t wearing cologne.”

[Daniel] Chuckles…. “Yes, he does have an addictive natural scent. What did you think about me? And don’t hold back, I can take it.”

[Sam] “Huggable, brilliant, absent-minded, great mouth, depressed to find out you were married.”

[Daniel] Smiles and nods…. “Was your first time with Jack soft and slow and romantic or explosive?”

[Sam] “We burned a hole in the sheets.”

[Daniel] Laughs…. “That’s what I thought. What irritates you about Jack in bed?”

[Sam] “He’s a blanket hog.”

[Daniel] “What irritates you about him out of bed?”

[Sam] “The seat goes DOWN.”

[Daniel] “Warning noted. What has Jack done, sexually, that surprised you?”

[Sam] Silence….

[Daniel] “Answer, please, be honest.”

[Sam] “He uh…. um… likes to…. play… oh, boy…. okay, he um.. licked me. My butt.”

[Daniel] “Specify. Cheeks or anus?”

[Sam] “You’re going to make me say it? Alright, anus.”

[Daniel] “Good girl, thank you. Did you like it?”

[Sam] “Yes.”

[Daniel] “Was that the first time anyone did that to you?”

[Sam] “Yes.”

[Daniel] “Do you like playing with him there?”

[Sam] “Yes. I like the reaction when I’m…um….sucking him.”

[Daniel] “I’ll bet. A man’s prostate is a major pleasure button. Do you masturbate?”

[Sam] Squeak…. “Uh…. yes.”

[Daniel] “In front of Jack or alone?”

[Sam] “Alone.”

[Daniel] “When was the last time you did?”

[Sam] “In the shower this morning.”

[Daniel] “Fingers or shower head?”

[Sam] “Shower head.”

[Daniel] “Why not in front of Jack?”

[Sam] “It’s a private thing.’

[Daniel] “Okay. Do you ever walk around the house naked?”

[Sam] “No.”

[Daniel] “Why not?”

[Sam] “What if someone comes to the door? Or looks in the window?”

[Daniel] “I understand. Jack, I’d like you to do something, please. Come over here and remove her shorts. Don’t touch her anyplace else, just get her undressed.”

Sam flushed as Jack undressed her. He was tightly controlled, something turning him on about the questioning. He pushed her clothes aside and sat back in his chair again.

[Daniel] “Thanks, Jack. Now, Sam, lift your hands for a minute. Put your legs over mine. It’s okay, just do it, please. Replace your hands. Good girl.”

Daniel lifted his knees again, gently resettling her. Sam rocked back against him, unable to look at Jack with her legs spread open before him.

[Daniel] “Tell me what you’re feeling.”

[Sam] “Embarrassment. Humiliation.”

[Daniel] “This is neither meant to humiliate or embarrass you, honey. I would never do that to you. I don’t want you to feel humiliated, I want you to feel your power. A woman’s power is in the fact that she has us men caught by our balls. We’re going to continue with the Q&A, and I want you to just relax. Take deep breaths and get used to your skin. Jack already knows every inch of you, honey, you’ve got nothing he hasn’t seen up close and personal before and I really can’t see much from back here. Remember the rules –if you want to stop, take your hands off my legs.”

Sam trembled and Daniel could feel her debating to take the action. She took a deep breath, shut her eyes, and slowly let the breath out. Daniel waited for her. She soon remembered the feel of his skin on hers and leaned back against him, taking comfort in his warmth. Daniel pressed his mouth to her temple.

[Daniel] “Good girl. Tell me a fantasy. What would you like to do with Jack that you haven’t done, yet? Sexually.”

[Sam] A little hoarse and shaky…. “Uh…. I um… I’d like to have sex in his office, at the base. In BDU’s and black t-shirts.”

[Daniel] Chuckles… “So would I, babe. He does look edible in those t-shirts, doesn’t he? What would you like to do with me? If anything.”

[Sam] “Paint you with chocolate syrup.”

[Daniel] Laughing…. “We can do that. Whipped cream, too. Chocolate whipped cream? What would you like to do with both of us?”

[Sam] “Uh… Something I remember reading. Both at the same time.”

[Daniel] “How so? Both of us in your vagina can get tricky; one of us would always be slipping out. Gets a little slippery in there. We can try, though. One vaginally and the other anally is doable if we’re careful and take it slow. Takes coordination. Has Jack used more than his mouth and fingers on you there?”

[Sam] “No.”

[Daniel] “He hasn’t has sex with you anally?”

[Sam] “No.”

[Daniel] “Is that something you’d like to try or have you already refused it?”

[Sam] “I’ve been thinking about it. I haven’t asked him. I like his fingers in me. It feels good.”

[Daniel] “Yes, it does feel good. We’ve been concentrating below the waist, how about we go above it? Are your breasts sensitive?”

[Sam] “Yes.”

[Daniel] “I want you to take a nipple and squeeze it. Show me how much is too much.”

Sam flushed as she took one of her nipples between two fingers and pinched. Daniel watched from over her shoulder.

[Daniel] “Good. Do the erotic sensations in your breasts remain there or does it travel down?”

[Sam] “Travels.”

[Daniel] “How erotic is the sensation? Pleasant or can you orgasm from it?”

[Sam] “Just pleasant. A comforting sensation.”

[Daniel] “How important is kissing?”

[Sam] “Very. I like kissing.”

[Daniel] “How about getting oral? Do you enjoy using your mouth or do you do it because you think it’s expected of you?”

[Sam] “I usually enjoy it. Sometimes I think it’s expected. Jack never pressures me; the expectations are all mine. I don’t like my head held.”

[Daniel] “I don’t like it either. And I don’t want you to ever feel you need to go down on me if you don’t feel like it. Just tell me, “Daniel, can we pass on that this time?” and it’s fine. Communicate. I want you to run your fingers over your torso and show me where the most sensitive spots are.”

Sam nervously ran her fingers up her sides, her soft gasps indicating to Daniel an erogenous zone.

[Daniel] “What about your back? Are you sensitive there?”

[Sam] “Around my kidneys and lower spine. And my neck.”

[Daniel] “Same exercise on your legs. Where are the sensitive spots?”

She touched the underside of her knees and the inside of her thighs. Daniel saw something on Jack’s face.

[Daniel] “Where else?”

[Sam] “Ankles.”

[Daniel] “That’s actually a common spot. Do you like someone going down on you?”

[Sam] Flushing…. “Yes.”

[Daniel] “Circles or strokes?”

[Sam] “Circles.”

[Daniel] “Hard or soft?”

[Sam] “Depends on my mood.”

[Daniel] “What are you in the mood for at this moment?”

[Sam] Reddening…. “Soft.”

[Daniel] “Would you rather be licked or sucked?”

[Sam] “At the moment or in general? At the moment, licked.”

[Daniel] “Tell me about the last time Jack did that for you.”

[Sam] “Um…. Last night. He uh… woke me up about midnight with his fingers between my legs and when I was awake, he, uh…. licked me.”

[Daniel] “You aren’t comfortable with saying things like that, are you?”

[Sam] “No.”

[Daniel] “Then how do you ask for something?”

[Sam] “Whatever happens, happens.”

[Daniel] “We can’t work like that, Sam; I need to hear from you. You may have noticed that I don’t hesitate to say these things. I want you to do something. I want you to say, “Jack, please suck on my clit.””

Sam panicked slightly; her hands gripped the denim at Daniel’s knees.

[Daniel] “You can say it, honey; trust him.”

[Sam] ….. “J….Jack, ppppplease sssuck on my clit.”

Daniel nodded for Jack to move and he got out of the chair and laid out on the floor before them. Daniel watched from over Sam’s shoulder as Jack put his mouth to her. Sam gasped and dug her fingers into Daniel’s legs. Her toes curled and her legs clenched around Daniel’s. Daniel whispered into her ear.

Pppput your fingers in me,” she said, sniffing. Daniel whispered to her again and she nodded.

“If you want it, say it, Sam,” he encouraged her. “He doesn’t read minds.”

“Harder.”

Sam rocked back against Daniel, her face wet. He held her tight as Jack brought her to orgasm. Having been on edge already, she came quick, crying out. She released one of Daniel’s knees and grabbed Jack’s hand. When she stopped convulsing, he sat up and took her in his arms, rocking her as she cried. Jack reached out one arm and pulled Daniel to them.

“You did good, baby,” he whispered huskily to her. “I love you so much; don’t ever be afraid to ask me for something.” He buried his face in her neck and rocked all three of them. They quieted after a while and shared kisses and nuzzles.

“I didn’t know that was in me,” Sam whispered.

“And I thought our communication was so good,” Jack said. “I missed all that. I’m sorry, honey.”

She half turned, curled into Daniel’s chest and shook her head. She brought Jack down to her and kissed him, using Daniel for a pillow. Daniel held them, silent, waiting as they whispered to each other, loved and caressed each other.

“I need to put water on my face,” Sam said, sniffing. Jack nodded and let her up. Sam didn’t seem to notice that she was still naked as she walked through the house. Jack let out a breath and leaned back against the couch next to Daniel.

“What was that, Danny?” Jack quietly asked, an arm over his eyes.

“I was following a feeling I had,” Daniel said. “Jack, haven’t you noticed that she doesn’t talk very much about what’s inside? She’ll give a surface answer if she’s asked, but she doesn’t volunteer much deeper than that. What she said to me in her quarters yesterday was a surprise; she’s never spoken like that before, not in my hearing, anyway. Seemed to me she had a lot in her that no one has asked her so she hasn’t said it. I also got the impression that she wanted it pulled out of her, which meant someone needed to Top her into it. So I Topped her.”

Jack lifted his arm and looked at Daniel.

“That isn’t a bad thing,” Daniel assured him. “Neither does it mean she’s weak. She’s very strong, which is why she needed someone to do that. Believe me, after she calms down she’ll be flying high from the weight lifted. I’ll bet you anything when she comes back in here, she’s still naked. We’ve seen a piece of her soul, Jack, what’s a little skin compared to that?”

Sam came back in a moment later, her eyes red and glazed. She was still naked. She returned to her position in Daniel’s legs and curled into his chest again. She reached out and pulled Jack over. He put an arm on the couch behind Daniel and spooned himself to them, both men holding Sam as she snuggled between them. Daniel pressed his mouth to the top of her hair. Jack stroked her back and turned his head to kiss Daniel. Daniel licked the taste of Sam from Jack’s lips and took it from inside with a slow, exploring tongue. Jack tightened his arms and welcomed Daniel. He held them as they breathed deeply of each other. He licked skin, not caring whose skin it was.

After loving each other, breathing became steady in the pile, turning into light snores. Daniel blinked sleepily at them and smiled, tired but happy. He carefully reached for his jeans and felt around until he found his cell phone. He opened and dialed with one hand.

“It’s me,” he said softly, gazing with affection at the two sleeping next to him. “I’m officially out of the dating pool.”

 


 

Chapter 5

 

Daniel frowned in irritation as he rummaged through his books, damning the elves for stealing his latest. Okay, it arrived in the mail at the base, was excitedly unwrapped, dragged from his hands when he was late for a meeting, stuffed into his backpack, tossed into his car, driven….to Jack and Sam’s. The light dawned. He grabbed his keys and headed out.

The three of them spent the weekend making love and talking, just being together. Jack got past some of his issues when Daniel woke up that first morning to the sound of the shower and to find Jack lying on his side, staring at him. Daniel gave a sleepy smile and took Jack’s hand, placing it on his chest.

“You’re allowed to touch,” he said softly. Jack didn’t say anything as he made hesitant, curious moves, trailing his fingers across Daniel’s chest, touching his neck and stubbly face. Daniel could smell Sam on Jack’s fingers. Jack wasn’t looking to arouse, so Daniel lay in a half doze as Jack explored. He readily responded when a mouth touched his and they spent time doing nothing more than softly kissing. Sam came out after a while, smiled at them and left for her morning run, not bothering to interrupt and invite them along.

Daniel found Jack’s quiet to be interesting; he seemed to go out of his way to keep in physical contact with Daniel, touching his hair, hands, arms, taking kisses when he felt like it. Daniel took it as a good sign.

Later in the week, Daniel drove to their cabin home to find his book, only fifteen minutes out of town, and pulled into the empty lot. Sam was at the base, her face buried in a microscope, and Jack was out of town, so Daniel didn’t expect anyone sitting on the dock.

“Hello?” he called out. “Can I help you?”

The teenage girl jumped to her feet. “I didn’t take anything!” she insisted.

Daniel smiled gently. “I didn’t say you did.”

The girl looked around, scared. “I….I thought….I must have the wrong house,” she whispered. “I was looking for Jack O’Neill’s house. You’re not him.”

“No, I’m not,” Daniel shook his head. “I’m Daniel; I’m a friend of Jack’s. This is his house, but he isn’t home. How long have you been sitting out here?”

“A while,” the girl shrugged and sniffed. “Do you know when he’ll be back?”

“Not for a few days, I’m afraid,” Daniel said, taking a few steps toward her. “What’s your name?”

“Katie,” she said, crestfallen. “I’m his niece.”

Daniel’s eyebrows went up. “I wasn’t aware he had siblings. Do your parents know where you are, Katie?”

She spooked. “I should go,” she said, taking a step.

“If you’d like,” Daniel said. “I can make you a sandwich or something before you go. You hungry?” She not only looked hungry, she also in need of a shower and a long nap, in Daniel’s opinion. She had the earmarks of a runaway.

Katie gave a reluctant nod. Daniel waved her over and he unlocked the door, letting them in.

“How come you have a key?” she asked, looking curiously around. She walked to the mantle and picked up a picture of Charlie.

“I work with him,” Daniel said, going into the kitchen. “He has a key to my place, too. It’s a security thing. I came over to get a book I left here the other day.”

“Oh,” she nodded. “Who’s this?” she picked up another picture. Daniel thought it odd….

“His wife, Sam.”

“Oh. I didn’t know he remarried.”

“Not too long ago.” Daniel looked in the fridge and pulled out a package of lunch meat.

“Where is she?” The picture was replaced and she looked at the framed metals. Sam put them up when she found them tossed into a drawer.

“At the base,” Daniel said. “She’s a colonel in the Air Force; she works there.”

“Are you a colonel or something, too?”

“No,” Daniel smiled at her deep sense of curiosity as he put a sandwich together. “I’m a linguist. I help them with translations of lots of different kinds of things.”

He tossed a handful of carrot sticks onto the plate, filled a glass with milk, and carried it out to the coffee table. Katie sat and gratefully bit into the sandwich.

“Thank you,” she remembered around a mouthful of turkey.

“You’re welcome. Katie, you know I need to call Jack.”

She nodded, her eyes cast down. Daniel noted that she had dark brown eyes and the hair that couldn’t make up its mind what color it wanted to be.

“He’s going to make me go home, isn’t he?” she asked, pensively nibbling on a carrot.

“I don’t know. How old are you?”

“Sixteen,” she reluctantly whispered.

“Well, he is a general; he has rules he needs to obey and uphold, just like the police do,” Daniel said gently. “You do have rights, though, even if you are underage. You want to tell me why you ran away? Was someone hurting you?”

She put her sandwich down and curled up on the couch, her face buried in her knees. He put a hand on her shoulder.

“Honey, it’s okay to tell me,” he said. “I need to be able to tell your uncle so that he is able to make the best decision he can. He’s fair; I know he’ll help if he can.”

She sniffed and mumbled into her knees. Daniel squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, touched her hair, and took his cell phone out as he walked outside.

“Hey, it’s me,” Daniel said when it was answered. “You got a minute? Do you have a niece named Katie?”

“What? Yes, what’s going on?” Jack asked, on the alert.

“Well, she was sitting on your dock when I came over to find a book I left here. Jack, she had an abortion and her father kicked her out.”

“Oh, fer the luv-a…..,” Jack groaned. “Okay, I’ll call and find out what’s happening. Can you stay with her until Sam gets home?”

“Yeah, sure,” Daniel agreed. “Jack, I didn’t know you had siblings.”

“Just one,” he said. Daniel knew the tone; it was usually reserved for a visit from a System Lord. “Older brother. It’s a long story. Katie is actually my great-niece. Her mother, Megan, is my brother’s daughter. How old is she now, fourteen?”

Daniel translated the Jack-speak. “No, sixteen, she says.”

“Let me talk to her.”

Daniel went back into the house. Katie was picking at her sandwich, her eyes red and swollen.

“Here, honey, it’s Jack,” he said, holding the phone out.

She took it with shaky hands. “Uncle Jack?”

Daniel went into the kitchen and made a sandwich for himself. He really needed sugar, but neither Jack nor Sam usually indulged in the house; treats were left for the base. He contemplated a beer, and then decided not with a minor in the house; a minor he was apparently babysitting until Sam got home.

“Daniel?” He looked up from the refrigerator. Katie held out his phone. “He said he’ll call back.”

“Okay, thanks,” he took the phone and pocketed it. “Feeling a little better?”

She nodded and put her plate in the sink.

“Better wash it,” he said. “Dishes in the sink bring in bugs out here.” She nodded and turned the water on.

“So, tell me, do you have brothers and sisters?” Daniel asked.

“Matthew is fourteen and David is ten.” She dried the plate and Daniel showed her where it went.

“Wish I had siblings,” he said. “My parents died with I was eight. I have foster siblings, but no one I’m close to. I would have loved a brother to play with.”

“Brothers are pests,” she said, wrinkling her nose. Daniel laughed.

“Yes, boys can be pests,” he agreed, “so get used to it because boys never grow up no matter how old we get.”

He got a reluctant smile from her, revealing the O’Neill dimples which Jack didn’t often show except in private.

“What does a linguist do?” she asked.

“A linguist studies languages,” he said. “How languages evolve and change and where they come from. For example, English comes from Persia, that’s near India. Ancient Persian went into Europe, where it went through lots of changes until it became what we speak today. Most of the European languages came from Persia; they just went through different changes depending on which tribe was speaking it. German, Italian, French, Greek, like that.”

“That’s why some words are the same in different languages?” she guessed.

Daniel nodded, pleased. “Exactly! That was very quick of you,” he complimented her.

“I like planes and stuff, but my parents say that isn’t proper girls’ things,” she said, waiting for him to agree. “Mom makes me take things like home-ec, and I’d rather take auto-shop. I hate home-ec.”

“Then you and Sam will get along great,” Daniel told her. “Sam’s a pilot and she’s terrible at cooking. Don’t tell her I told you that. Jack pretends to cook, but when they want a real dinner, they call me.”

“You can cook?”

Daniel steered her into the living room.

“Sure,” he said. “I’ve lived all over the world; when I taste something I like, I learn how to cook it so I can make it again when I get home. It gets expensive traveling all over the world just for a great lunch.”

She thought about it. “I guess that’s a good reason to learn to cook,” she admitted. She yawned and flushed in embarrassment.

“It’s okay,” Daniel said. “How about I show you the guest room and you can lie down for a while? I’ll find you something to wear, you can take a nice long shower, and sleep as long as you’d like.”

She agreed and followed him to the guest room as he took his cell phone out.

“Hi, did Jack call you?”

“Yeah, I’ll be home in a couple hours,” Sam said. “How is she?”

“Tired,” Daniel said. “Can I get her something of yours to wear? Shorts and t-shirt or something?”

Sam agreed and talked him through her dresser. Daniel took out sleep wear, found an unopened package of underwear, and shorts and shirts all of which he gave to Katie. He handed her the cell phone for an informal introduction. Katie made a few shy responses and handed it back to Daniel. She took the clothes, thanked him, and went to make herself more comfortable.

“Is she okay?” Sam asked him. Daniel walked out to the dock.

“I think she will be,” he said with a sigh. “She’s a lost kid, Sam. I don’t understand how her parents could do that. I would never have thought someone from Jack’s family would do that. Did you know he had a brother?”

“No,” she admitted. “Apparently they’ve been on non-speaking terms for years. I guess his brother, Michael, is seriously Catholic and Jack isn’t. I liked his parents. Jack said he’d explain it when he got home. He’s coming home early, by the way, he’ll be in first thing in the morning.”

“I figured,” Daniel commented. “Can I make you dinner?”

“Sure,” she said. Daniel could hear the smile in her voice. “How about that eggplant thing?”

Daniel had to think about it. “Which one?” he asked. “Italian, Greek, or Lebanese?”

“That dip stuff.”

Babaghanoush?”

“That’s it,” she said. “With veggies.”

“I think you’ve been around Jack too long, you’re starting to talk like him. That’s all you want? That’s a snack, not dinner.”

“Alright, you pick the rest,” she said agreeably.

He chuckled. “I’ll find something. Pick up a couple of eggplants on the way home, please, and a tub of plain yogurt.”

He could hear the shower running when he went back in. He opened the freezer and poked around. He pulled out lamb chops and set them on the counter to thaw before heading into the study to do a little work on Jack’s computer, accessing his own base work. He stared at the report until he remembered the reason he needed that book.

Sam came in around three and found him still hunched over the computer.

“Hi,” she greeted him. “Where is she?”

“Oh, hey, Sam. She’s still asleep, I think.” Daniel flexed his back, sighing with relief as several vertebrae popped.

Sam looked at the clock. “She’ll never get to sleep tonight,” she reprimanded him and gave him a quick kiss before heading off to find her new niece.

Daniel went into the kitchen and found the chops thawed. The babaghanoush was quickly made, veggies chopped, and he munched as the lamb was prepped. The phone rang and Daniel picked it up.

“Mosquito Coast,” he answered.

“Very funny,” Jack said.

“Jack, you’re missing out on a lamb dinner,” Daniel warned him.

“Make me a plate,” Jack said. “How’s Katie?”

“Sam went to wake her up.”

“I talked with Megan. She freaked out when the health office reported that Katie had the abortion. Fucking Republicans…. “

“You’re a Republican, Jack.”

“Doesn’t mean I vote for some of their idiotic ideas. Anyway, Megan and Andrew got into a major fight with her and Megan lost her temper and ordered Katie to Confession and an all-girls school for next year. I don’t know; if I were Katie, I’d be so humiliated and depressed I’d keep walking. Sara had a couple of miscarriages before she caught with Charlie; after each miscarriage, she went through a few months of hormonal hell before getting back on track.”

Daniel nodded in agreement. “And Katie has no one to help her through this,” he guessed.

“Right. I got Megan to agree to let us keep Katie for a month. Let things cool off. School’s out for the summer, so she won’t be missing anything there. I hope Sam doesn’t mind, I didn’t ask first.”

Daniel smiled. “Jack, you can pretend to be a tough guy all you want, but you’re really a teddy bear, you do know that, don’t you?”

Jack chuckled. “Don’t tell anyone. Put Sam on the phone.”

“Sam!” Daniel yelled. “Pick up a phone, it’s Jack!” He waited until he heard her voice before hanging up his line.

Katie was still a little shy during dinner so Daniel and Sam talked science shop, earning them “nerds!” looks from the teen. Sam called out for the next day, telling Daniel she was taking Katie shopping for proper clothes in the morning; willow slender Katie was swimming in Sam’s clothes.

Daniel and Sam cleaned up after dinner and Daniel excused himself to go home. He gave Sam a hug and held his hand out to Katie.

“It was nice to meet you, Katie,” he said. “I’m around a lot, so I’m sure I’ll see you again.”

She nodded and shook his hand.

“Daniel!” Sam called after him. He turned to look. She held out his book. He took it with a shake of his head and drove off.

“Arguably one of the most brilliant minds on the planet, and he’d forget his head if it wasn’t attached,” Sam commented.

In the morning, the girls showered and dressed and were out the door by 10am. Jack drove up soon after and let himself in. A note was hanging from the mantle.

“Us girls went shopping with your credit card. Be back sometime today. Love you.”

He smiled and shook his head, and went to unpack. At least they were hitting it off, which was what he was hoping for. Katie needed a positive female influence in her life at the moment, and Sam was capable of providing that. He found the plate Daniel left him and ate it cold for lunch.

The ladies were back a few hours later as Jack was reviewing reports. Katie saw him at the door and dropped her bags, running at him. He caught her with an “ooof!” as she jumped at him, wrapping her legs around his middle.

“I’m sorry,” she whimpered into his neck. Jack squeezed her and went into the house, carrying her, as Sam smiled at them and got the rest of the bags,

“What for, sweetheart?” he murmured. “As far as I’m concerned, you haven’t done anything wrong. Except maybe get so big. When did you get so big? And heavy.” He gave her a pat on the butt and she slid off. “And please tell me you didn’t max out my card.”

Katie giggled and wiped her eyes, nodding. “We did,” she confessed.

Jack groaned. “Ya know, a general’s pay isn’t what it used to be,” he whined.

“Oh, waaa,” Sam informed him, putting the bags on the couch. She pecked at his mouth. “It isn’t completely maxed; you have enough left to take us to dinner tonight.”

“That was generous of you,” Jack commented, eying the bags.

“Yes, it was,” she agreed. “We decided that you’re taking out for steaks.” She handed Katie her bags and sent her off.

“Steak?” Jack perked up. “We can do that. Has the owner forgiven us, yet?”

“Yes, he has,” Sam chuckled. “Especially after I re-organized his entire schedule from staff to grocery wholesalers and found him an extra couple thousand on his income tax.” Jack put his arms around her and held her. He bent and kissed her properly, taking his time.

“I lied,” she said against his mouth. “We used my card.”

Jack chuckled and held her close. “You could have used mine,” he said. “Is everything okay, so far?”

Sam nodded. “She’s a little scared and not sure how she should be feeling. She’s going through some major guilt trips. I gave her my opinion on the concept of bodily ownership and told her she needs to make her own decision.”

“Good,” Jack nodded. “She needed to hear it. Are you okay with her staying here for a little while? I know I should have asked you first.”

“No, I’m fine, Jack,” she insisted. “She needs a safe place to come back to herself.”

“You sound like Daniel.”

Sam smiled. “That’s funny; he said I was sounding like you.”

”Brat,” Jack informed her, giving her butt a squeeze. “Katie!” he called. “Would you come out for a minute?”

She came into the room, looking a little apprehensive.

“It’s alright, honey, come on,” Jack said, waving her to the couch. He sat down across from her with Sam standing behind him. “Okay, here’s what’s happening: you will stay here for the month. It will give your Mom and Dad time to chill out and think about things. Sam and I need to work, so you will be trusted with staying by yourself during the day. There are a few teenagers up the street, you can make friends. The pond is swim-able, but I’d rather you weren’t in it without an adult nearby. While you are here, you will need to clean up after yourself, do a few chores, just like we do. No going out after nine, not without one of us, and I will expect a hug every day. I can’t live without hugs. Clear?”

She smiled and nodded.

“Good,” he declared. “We do a lot of talking around here and no subject is forbidden. You can say what you want. I’m sure Sam won’t mind talking girl stuff with you, some of her conversations are enough to send a grown man running for the hills.” He got an ear pulled for it.

“Now, I don’t want you getting involved in my problems with your parents and your grandfather; it’s a lot of crap, but it’s our crap, not yours. There may be some of that going down in the near future. Just stay out of it, keep your ears closed. Adults can say some pretty stupid things to each other, but we all love you. Can you understand that?”

Katie nodded again. “I asked Mom why I couldn’t call you or anything, and she said you were a bad influence.”

Jack gave a nod. “I know about that,” he said. “The problem comes down to religion, honey; I don’t consider myself Catholic,” he admitted. “I don’t think I ever was, and to your parents and my brother, that’s a pretty major thing. They took it personally, which they didn’t need to. It was my choice; it had nothing to do with them. I’m sorry you got caught in the middle; I’ve missed spending time with you, watching you grow up. I’ve missed five of your birthdays and that hurts me as much as it does you. I miss your brothers, too, the rug-rats. Maybe we can make up for lost time while you’re here. Can we try?”

She nodded and jumped over to him, settling onto his lap for a hard hug. He rocked her back, looking at her, remembering the baby crawling around the kitchen and banging on pots and pans.

“Just tell me one thing, little Miss Katherine Anne,” he asked. “Does the word condom hold any meaning for you?”

She smacked his arm and buried her burning face in his chest.

After putting her clothes away, Katie went outside for a walk, promising to stay close. Jack threw himself on the couch, lying back with an arm over his face.

“What are her parents really saying?” Sam asked.

“They warned me about my heathen ways, once more, and said to send their daughter home with her faith intact.”

“Heathen?” Sam questioned with a raised brow. “I thought that was Daniel’s department.” She sat next to Jack, shoving his hip over. She gave Jack’s stomach a rub, playing with the line of hair at his belly. “I’m sorry you’re on such bad terms with your family.”

Jack sighed and removed his arm to look at her. “Megan wasn’t always like this,” he said. “She was a sweet kid, she really was, and I know she means well by Katie. but I think she’s going about things the wrong way. She’s going to chase Katie away, if she doesn’t loosen the strings a little. I can’t believe Megan’s behaving like this; I changed her diapers, for heaven’s sake, I helped with 2am feedings, I helped her learn to walk, even made up silly talking potty-chair stories so she wouldn’t be afraid of it. This isn’t a child I helped to raise.”

Sam took his hand. “People change, Jack. Why didn’t you ever mention a brother?”

“Because we don’t speak,” Jack said. “Michael went seriously Catholic on me when he was about thirty. His wife died, a car accident, when he was twenty-six. Meg was born a month premature, and Michael made this vow to God that if his daughter lived, he’d dedicate himself yadda yadda the same old story. Well, he followed through. My parents pretty much raised Megan because Michael became a priest. You can see where heads would butt. I was nineteen when Megan was born, so I helped as much as I could. It wasn’t fair of him to saddle Mom and Dad with a baby at their age; they were just getting rid of me. I paid for a nanny when I joined up. That was my first major fight with Michael; he couldn’t give even monetary attention to his own daughter’s welfare. Claimed clergy poverty. I told him what he could do with his poverty, and continued to do so since.”

“Now the kids are caught in the middle because Megan refuses to let me see them. She didn’t get this way until she married Andrew and now I can’t tell how much is him and how much she’s accepted for herself. I can send cards and presents for birthdays and holidays, that’s it.”

Sam shook her head, knowing how much children meant to him, and to be denied his own niece and nephews…..

“Jack, do you want another child?” she asked. Jack opened his eyes and looked at her.

“Are you trying to tell me something?”

“No, I’m not,” she smiled. “I’m on Janet’s little insert invention, remember? It’s good for another year unless I have it removed.”

“I know,” he smiled and stroked her legs. “And I wouldn’t mind another child, I loved being a father, but I don’t see how we could manage with our lifestyles. It would be hardest on you. You’d have to give up gate travel, and unless I’m speaking as your General, I won’t do that to you. So having a child will be your decision. Your body, your choice, honey, all the way.”

Sam sighed and laid her head on his chest. “Sometimes I feel like I should want that,” she said. “I’m married, I love kids, I know you love kids, and we’re both healthy. At the same time, I’m feeling selfish; I don’t want to give up gate travel, I’m not ready, yet, and by the time I may be ready, I’ll be too old.”

Jack smiled and stroked her hair. “Then we’ll adopt,” he promised. “Don’t dwell on this, Sam,” he said. “I love you, I’m happy with you, I will support whatever decision you make.”

She considered from his chest, sliding a finger into his shirt. “We can’t make out here, can we?” she asked with a pout.

Jack laughed. “Sorry. Having a child in the house sorta puts a damper on things. Until she’s asleep, anyway. You can go find Daniel, if you’d like.”

She flushed slightly. “Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?”

“Oh, believe me, I’d love to invite him over tonight, but I don’t think Katie would understand. And I’m not ready for that particular hell-fire and brimstone from her parents. Honey, really, if you’d like some time with him, call and ask him.”

“I’ll wait for tonight,” she said. “You’ve been gone a few days and I want you. Although, it would be nice if all three of us could be together.”

“Stop,” Jack said. “The thought of it is turning me on, and I’d rather not shock my niece into the awareness that I’m still young enough to have those kinds of feelings.”

“Why don’t we invite him to dinner tonight?” Sam suggested. “Get Katie used to the idea that he’s part of the family.”

Jack nodded. “Good idea,” he said. “Give him a call.”

Sam nodded and stood up. She bent down and kissed him, opening his mouth and caressing his tongue with hers. She took her mouth away and went to find the phone.

“Brat,” she heard him mutter from the couch. Sam grinned.

Daniel got to the house to find Jack pacing on the dock, the cell phone to his ear. He waved at Daniel.

“Dammit, Michael!” he heard Jack yell as he got out of his car. “Get your head out of your ass! I don’t care what doctrine says, she’s a child and she needed guidance, particularly guidance from the female she trusts most in her life, and she got back-slapped instead! No, I don’t mean literally. She’s your daughter, you do something or I will! Don’t try me, Michael.”

He slammed the phone shut and shoved it into his pocket.

“Hi?” Daniel tried.

“Hi,” Jack responded with a huff. “Daniel, sometimes having a brother isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when said brother is a Catholic priest.”

“Ouch,” Daniel winced. “And he has a child?”

Jack explained the circumstances. “I’m considering giving Baal his address. I’d LOVE to witness THAT exorcism.”

Daniel chuckled in appreciation.

“I’m starving,” Daniel announced, obviously wasting away as he patted his stomach. “Where are our dates?”

“Dressing,” Jack said, as though it were obvious.

“We’re here, we’re here,” Sam said hurriedly, rushing out the door. She locked it behind Katie. Sam took Jack’s hand, and Daniel held out his arm to Katie who wasn’t quite sure what to do. Daniel took her hand and slid it through his arm, resting her hand on his bicep. He gave her hand a pat, winked, and led her to his car.

A loud roar filled the air and they ducked, looking up. Two familiar motherships chased through the sky, firing at each other.

“Tell me I’m not seeing this,” Jack groaned. His cell phone rang and then Sam’s. They both swore and walked back toward the house as they answered the phones.

“Daniel?” Katie gazed at the sky, her jaw to the ground. He put a hand on her shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said with a sigh. “Your uncle knows what to do.”

As Daniel got the teen safely settled in the Mountain, Jack and Sam took a helicopter out to where the ships had both made emergency landings after taking out vital engine areas in their battle. Sam stayed on the ‘copter and headed out to Nevada. Jack took charge of the situation as more and more troops converged on Northern Colorado where the downed ships took up several miles.

It took all the powers of military persuasion to keep the media away from knocking on the ships’ front door and asking for an interview. Jack was sure that the American media had to be the stupidest vultures with cameras that he had ever seen. He ordered his teams to zat anyone who came within five miles of the ships. After the fiftieth complaint from a zatee, people began to heed the warning. A flurry of red came flying toward Jack out of the setting sun and landed on his shoulder startling not only him, but also the surrounding military, quite a few of whom were not SGC.

Zu?” he turned his neck to see the deadly beak so close to his eyes. “What the hell are you guys doing? Do you know what kind of havoc this is…?”

An image was presented to him and Jack stopped his snarling. “Did you get that?” he asked Reynolds. He nodded, now understanding what Daniel was talking about when he told him about the bird.

“I’d say we have allies to rescue,” Jack stated. Another figure came bounding toward them. People in the way jumped, startled, as the strange looking cat danced around feet on its way through. Zu hopped to the arm Reynolds held out as Jack held still for the coming jump. He held her shivering form to his chest as he had seen Daniel do numerous times.

D’nl,” she got out. Those around who heard her took a wide-eyed step back.

“Daniel isn’t here, T’Keet,” Jack said. “Zu, can she understand images from you?”

Annnnnaaaa,” Zu croaked.

“Let her know we’re going to help, but Daniel isn’t here.”

In a moment, the cub stopped shivering as she looked at Zu. Another image was presented to Jack.

“Yes, we know,” Jack said to the bird as the surrounding people looked at Jack talking to a bird and an alien cat. “We’ll do what we can to help; she needs to stay out of the way. Major!” Jack called out, waving Davis over having just spotted him in the crowd. T’Keet jumped to him when he was close enough. Startled to see her, Davis caught her.

“M’Net, Ninurta, and several others are being held on board,” Jack told him. “T’Keet is upset, she wants Daniel and he isn’t here. I can’t have her here during this. I want you to take her to the Mountain and hand her over to him; he’s already babysitting my niece, one more won’t kill him. While you are there, try and get hold of Thor and find out what happened. And start preparing a list of allies to call in. We are owed a lot of favors. Push a few buttons.”

“Yes, sir,” Davis said and wrapped his jacket around the cub.

“Davis!” Jack called after him. “Do we have 302s coming at us?”

“Yes, sir! Colonel Carter is scrambling them now! Russia is also sending a squad. A few petty arguments from upstairs about it, but it’s happening!”

Jack waved him on. He certainly wasn’t happy about it, but he had to admit that they could use all the help they could get.

“I knew we needed drill time,” Jack muttered.

Reynolds nodded. “Yes, but how do you drill with ships that aren’t supposed to exist?”

Jack once more had to yell over the comm for all troops to CEASE FIRE! The bullets weren’t going anywhere except ricochet off the defense systems. And besides, they were firing at both ships. Jack pulled in several other generals and colonels and gave them quick instructions. The generals resented it, having more seniority than Jack, but a quick phone conversation from Maynard and the president convinced them to shut up and pay attention.

“Your bullets will not penetrate those shields,” Jack said to the five-year olds. “Ours will once they get here. You are wasting ammo. The smaller ship is NOT the enemy, they are allies. The big ship with the pyramid thing in the middle is a very bad guy. Get that concept through to your men. If you would be so kind. And do NOT shoot just because they may not look like us. As I said, some of these people are ALLIES! This bird and that cub are ALLIES. One of the squads coming to help are Russian. Do NOT fire! They have permission to be in our airspace! I’m not happy about it, either. No firing without MY orders! Comprende?! Cheyenne is running this show because WE know what to DO!”

They didn’t appreciate the tone, but they sent out the orders.

Zu, can you carry something into your ship?” he asked the bird now housed on Reynolds’s arm. He was stroking the undersides of the wings and the bird was loving it, from the glazed look in the beady eyes.

Annnnaaaa,” he croaked with a nod. Jack took a radio and rigged a cord to it. Zu took the cord in his beak.

“Have them talk to me on this,” Jack said, showing Zu how to press the button and talk. Zu squawked and took off, flying over heads that quickly ducked. A few slower on the up-take got their heads knocked by the dangling radio. Hearing a chuckle, Jack was sure Zu did it on purpose.

“Get that craft out of the no-fly space!” Reynolds yelled into a radio. Jack quickly turned. Just as he identified the helicopter from one of the newsgroups, a beam came out of the mothership and destroyed it. Everyone ducked from flying debris, shocked by the explosion.

Goddammit to hell!” Jack yelled, kicking at a rock. “Is everyone deaf?! That’s it!” He yelled for a major news network to have one cameraman and one reporter brought to him. It took twenty minutes for them to arrive through the military crowd. The two arrived with the reporter calling out questions to everyone he could and then shoving a microphone into Jack’s face. Jack slapped it away.

“Now hear this!” he yelled into the camera. “There is a no-fly zone established for a reason not just because I think you people are fucking vultures! That pilot not only disobeyed an order, he obviously needed to be taken out of the gene-pool because he had no common sense! We know the beings in those ships. The people in the larger ship will make slaves of every single person they keep alive on this planet if we don’t find a way to get rid of them. Stay the fuck AWAY! Get them out of my sight because I swear if that System Lord starts asking for volunteers, I’m sending in the PRESS for his dessert! Fucking stupid morons!”

The two were taken away and driven back to the five-mile stop. Jack’s radio squawked.

“WHAT!” He stopped and gave his eyes a rub. “Yes, Major, what is it?”

“Teal’c and company are on their way to you, sir,” Davis reported, keeping his usual calm. “Thor was surprised to find out where Enlil went when I told him. Apparently Enlil lost Thor at some point during their chase. Enlil went back to the Sua planet, grabbed a select handful, and their battle resumed. sir, there is a strong possibility that Enlil came to Earth to grab you. As the leader of the Tau’ri who butted into his affairs.”

Jack stood looking at the rising moon for a moment.

“Major, I am giving serious consideration to retirement once again,” he said.

“Yes, sir.” Davis clicked off.

“General, you have a gift. I’m envious,” Reynolds said good-naturedly.

“What gift is that, Colonel?”

“For pissing off System Lords.”

“You’re a riot, Reynolds.”

The radio clicked once again. “General O’Neill?”

Jack touched his radio. “Here. Inanna?”

“Yes. Thank you for this device.”

“You’re welcome. What’s the situation on your ship?”

“A great many wounded, a few dead; we are doing what we can. I am more concerned with getting our people off Enlil’s ship; our readings indicate that his engines are critical.”

Jack looked at Reynolds. “Care to specify?” he asked her.

“His ship will blow up in approximately three hours if it isn’t shut down.”

“How much of a boom is that?” Jack turned and snapped his fingers at a couple of SF and sent them running for the other generals.

“With his ship taking ours in a chain reaction, a quarter of this continent will be destroyed.”

Jack grimaced. There was no way they could evacuate that many people in three hours.

“Do they have a gate?” Reynolds asked. Jack relayed the question.

“No, we don’t,” Inanna said. “But Enlil does. You can't use it, with your own gate so close, though.”

“Are we sure he’s still on the ship?” Jack asked. Oxford and Green came up to them with the SF and Reynolds quietly filled them in. The generals whitened but waited for Jack.

“No,” she admitted. “But with the engines in their current state, I do not believe he would still be in there; he probably gated out before engaging us here. The sun has set, another day is starting. Jaffa have bad night-vision. If we leave the ship, Enlil’s Jaffa will begin a ground campaign. Will your people be ready for it?”

“It isn’t so much the Jaffa that we can’t handle, it’s the ship’s shields,” he said. “We have our own gliders on the way. Should be here any minute. Wait for their cover. How many children are on board?”

“Eleven of our own plus five cubs. Zu said one cub is with you?”

“Yeah, T’Keet made it out. I don’t know how she knew I was here, that’s one hell of a nose on her. I sent her to Daniel, she’s safe at our base,” Jack assured her. “As soon as our gliders are here, I want you to send out the children and any wounded who are ambulatory. Send them to me. We will do our best to cover them.”

“Will do.”

“Reynolds, get SG teams over here,” Jack ordered. “I want them ready to receive children, cubs, and wounded. Have a ‘copter standing by, I want them taken directly to the Mountain.”

“Yes, sir!” Reynolds got on the radio and began issuing the orders.

“Children?” Green questioned. “They have actual children on board that ship?”

“They believe in family first, General,” Jack said. “And that means taking children with them wherever they go including into battle. I think we can all agree that they don’t belong on the field, though. Our main problem is that mothership; the only troops I want to see out here are SGC teams and first-line squads, all the rest need to get as far to the East Coast, Canada, or Mexico as quickly as possible within the next two hours because there is a high probability of the West Coast and Mountain Region falling into the Pacific. Get our kids out of here, gentlemen.”

The generals started calling out for the troops to fall back and not to fire, there were children coming out, when the roar of 302s came in overhead. Teal’c materialized at Jack’s side a moment later. The surrounding military wasn’t sure what they were more startled by, alien warriors appearing at their side or fighter planes they had never seen or heard of before. Coming from the direction of Nevada and a certain military base that wasn’t supposed to exist.

“T! There are children and wounded about to come off Heaven’s Bow,” Jack said, clasping him on the shoulder. “Enlil's ship engine is building to critical mass, and there's a gate on board; we need to be out of here. Two hours.” Those engines, plus the naquadah in the gate, did not bode well for the western half of the country.

Teal’c called out to his men and they hurried down onto the field as children appeared from the ship and began to run in their direction. Cubs bounded ahead of them and a few of the older children assisted the wounded. The appearance of Jaffa frightened the children, but the cubs called out to them and they continued to run toward the troops. The mothership opened and Jaffa poured out, firing staff weapons at the rebels. SGC troops caught the children and wounded and they were rushed through to the waiting helicopter. Gliders avoided the ship’s cannons and rained down fire on the Jaffa since the ship’s shields were still intact. The ground troops had the advantage of night-goggles, helping them to see in the dark where the Jaffa could not.

“Shara!” Reynolds called out, seeing a familiar face in the wounded. The warrior was headed their way. He clasped arms with Reynolds and Jack.

“My queen sent me out with the wounded,” he said in thick accented English. “She begs of you to try and save the prisoners. Our Ninurta is among them.”

“I know,” Jack said, touching Shara’s shoulder. “I’ve been trying to think of a way in, but I’m not coming up with anything.”

“There are dead Jaffa belonging to Enlil,” Shara told him. “If one of Teal’c’s Jaffa switch clothes, he can get onto the ship to remove the power crystals.”

“And once the shields are down…” Jack completed. Teal’c was on his way across the field before Jack opened his mouth.

“General, may I be armed with your weapons and fight for my brothers?” Shara asked. He hadn’t brought a weapon with him, since he came out under the pretense of being wounded.

“For this, you can have MY zat,” Jack said, taking it from the back of his belt and handing it to the warrior. “Two blasts only,” he whispered. “Not three.” Shara set his face and ran back into the fray as Jack was connected to the base. “Sergeant! Get me Davis!”

As soon as the major was in range, Jack gave him instructions. “If that ship blows, this entire side of the country goes into the ocean. Two hours, Major, and the ships take us all out when Enlil’s engines reach critical. There are children, cubs, and wounded coming your way via ‘copter.” Jack covered his ears as gliders blasted away at Jaffa.

“Yes, sir! Coordinates noted, and medical is on alert for incoming. sir, Nate is here and wanting in on the action.”

“No,” Jack shook his head. “Put him and my niece through the gate, Major; if these ships blow, the Mountain will go down. Start evac to the Alpha Site. I want only the bare minimum personnel left on base. If the wounded can make it, send them through, too.”

“Yes, sir, starting evac now.” Jack could hear the alarm in the background.

“And, Major, tell Daniel not to argue, get his ass through the gate with the others. If he doesn’t like it, remind him that he’s in temporary guardianship of my niece.”

Davis held back a smile. “I’ll let him know, sir. General? Good luck, sir.” He saluted and Jack returned it.

“Colonel, I want the mothership distracted,” Jack told Reynolds. The colonel smiled and gave a nod.

“We can do that, sir,” he assured Jack. He opened his radio and called to the gliders as he hurried to the field.

The surrounding was clearing out of people, lines of vehicle lights could be seen for miles as well as planes and helicopters landing and taking off. Another squad of 302s came in from the upper atmosphere and joined the battle as more and more Jaffa poured out of the mothership like angry ants from a disturbed nest. Troops without staffs or zats were instructed to fire dead center at the Jaffa belly, not the head or heart. Faint squeals could be heard from wounded symbiotes, which pleased Jack no end. Once the children were completely cleared, Anunnaki warriors came out of their ship, blasting their staves and zats, and shooting arrows into Jaffa bellies. Jack winced and hoped that the humans were getting a good lesson in the art of primitive warfare. The warriors were yelling taunts and battle cries as they stormed the field. Human troops were startled to see large felines on two legs fighting among them.

“Do we like the ones with tails?” Oxford asked.

“We like them very much,” Jack said.

“What’s that they’re yelling?” General Green asked, watching through night-vision goggles.

“Ninurta,” Jack said, watching the field.

“What does it mean?”

“Who, not what. Ninurta is their CO; he’s been taken prisoner on the mothership. They want him back.”

“Who was the woman you were talking to?”

Jack drew his gun and aimed at a Jaffa who had snuck up on them. He absently took note of the tattoo design for future reference. Some sort of horned, cone-shaped hat. One bullet went into the belly and the Jaffa went down.

“Their Queen,” Jack said. “Ninurta is her consort, so she’s a little perturbed by his absence. The father of that cub I was holding is also a prisoner.”

The mothership tried launching death gliders, and the 302s took each one out as it left its docking bay. The ship was already short on gliders, having lost many over the Sua home world. From the easy way they went down, Jack was beginning to guess that because of spending a couple thousand years in stasis, they didn’t have the upgrades that the current System Lords had, giving the humans an advantage.

“What on earth is that symbol on the wings?” someone nearby asked, watching the gliders. Jack looked up.

“Tau’ri,” he said, knocking his gun against his shoulder. The same pyramid shape on the SGC flight jackets had been painted on the 302s. Of both nations, Jack was surprised to see. Jack had given Chekhov his nastiest, and still the man was trying to play nice instead of political games with their governments.

“Wouldn’t an American flag have been more appropriate?” someone questioned disapprovingly.

“Why?” Jack snapped. “We’re defending our planet, not our country. There are four Russians up there fighting side-by-side with us, and they have Tau’ri on their ships, too. What’s inappropriate is getting petty over territorial rights at a time like this. You want to start trumpeting Old Glory, you get your ass down there and do it instead of standing up here and whining.”

The major who had been complaining got ordered into battle by his colonel.

“How many freakin’ times do we have to save this planet before snot-nosed children show a little respect?” Jack muttered to himself as he watched the battle. “Reynolds! That shield is flickering! See if you can get some people through!” The radio clicked an acknowledgment.

“What’s going on?” General Green asked, seeing the flickering.

“Someone got to the controls,” Jack said. “The shield power is trying to come down.”

“Jack, their power is fluctuating,” came in over his radio. He clicked it open.

“I see that,” Jack said. “I have men on board; hopefully someone can pull the main power crystals before it’s too late.”

“Most of my people are on the field,” she said. “I must get Enki and Ereshkigal to you. I will have Zu lead them.”

“No, it’s too far,” Jack said. “They’d never get through the battle. Wait for the shield to come down and send them on board the ship. Most of the guards are outside. Have them go straight to the gate at our base. The chaapa’i. My people will know where to send them for safety.”

“I will do that,” she acknowledged.

Jack called out to Reynolds and issued him new instructions to wait for the two from the other ship.

A second after the shields came down two figures were seen leaving the ship, following a patch of red. A third figure came out of the ship and joined the battle.

“General, we’re on board!” Jack heard from his radio.

“What’s it look like, Colonel?”

“Almost empty, sir. I’d say most of the guards are on the field. No sign of the Chief or his First Prime. SG-5 says the engine looks like it’s been rigged to explode on purpose. The panel has been welded shut; we don’t have the equipment to get through a naquadah shield. The prisoners have been released; there were no guards on them. There are injuries; nothing that isn’t repairable.”

“Gate out now, Colonel!” Jack ordered. “Colonel Carter, get your squad out of this airspace and take the R… our friends with you. Tell Colonel Chekhov he’s playing host for a while. Give him my thanks and I owe him one.” There was no click of acknowledgment. Jack waited, hearing the silent argument. “Sam, just do it. Daniel’s at the Alpha Site, find him.”

He received his clicks. The 302s flew low over the command area and rolled before heading west. Jack clenched his ticking jaw as he watched the ground battle, refusing to look at the retreating gliders.

“Inanna, get your people to our gate,” he called out. “Teal’c, take care of the ground forces. I will bring up the rest.”

“What’s this gate, General?” Oxford demanded as they saw people below begin to make their way to the fighters. Jaffa took note of it and attempted to guard the exposed entrances. Their dwindling numbers were taken out one by one from oncoming troops. A few seemed to switch sides once they realized that their god had abandoned them. The Sua slaves immediately gave themselves over to the Sua of Heaven’s Bow.

“Huh? Can’t hear ya, General,” Jack said, cupping an ear.

Oxford stared at him. “Alright, then, exactly how many alien species are here at the moment?”

Jack thought about it. “Three, as far as I’m aware,” he said. “No, four, if you count the symbiotes in the Jaffa.”

Two ships appeared overhead and the battle paused.

“Make that five.” Jack breathed a sigh of relief.

“O’Neill, please clear the field,” he heard on his radio.

Jack clicked it open. “Nice of you to join the party, Thor, Colonel Markham! Alright, you heard the … uh…. man, clear the field! If you are on the ship, get out now! Thor brought the Prometheus and is up to something! Move, people!”

Jack looked at Oxford and Green. “If I suddenly disappear in a beam of light, don’t worry about it, I’ll be back shortly.”

The dark field was alive with people running away from the ships. Enlil’s Jaffa didn’t understand the reason for the exodus, but they knew an enemy ship when they saw one and tried firing staves at it.

Jack waited five minutes and then tried calling the ship. “Reynolds, anyone still on board?” There was silence. He looked at the field. Most of the fighters had made it to the command radius. Jack opened the radio. “Count-down, folks! You have ten seconds. If anyone is still on board that ship, speak now or forever hold your peace. Thor, ten seconds and you do whatever it is you’re up to. Starting…. Ten-Mississippi, nine-M…..”

He began a verbal count-down into the radio. The Asgard ship covered the Goa’uld ship with a beam. He seemed to have a problem with the ship and pulled more power. The ship was slowly raised from the ground and Thor drew his own ship higher into the atmosphere, taking the others with him.

“Colonel Markham, what’s he doing?” Jack asked the CO of the Prometheus.

“Borrowing our power, sir,” came the response. “He said something about primitive weapons and taking lessons from humans.”

“That ship is a primitive weapon?” Green questioned with a raised eyebrow.

Jack shrugged. “You’d have to know Thor. Take it as a compliment. Colonel, while you’re out there sight-seeing, just an FYI: this ship belonged to a Goa’uld named Enlil. He’s gone walkabout.”

“Yes, sir, we’ll keep our eyes open.”

The generals looked at him, tearing their eyes away from the scene above.

“Think Enterprise,” Jack suggested.

“I think when we get home I’m going to hyperventilate for a while,” Oxford mused. Green agreed with him.

Jack’s portable bat-phone rang.

“O’Neill,” he answered. “Yes, sir, isn’t she a beauty? Don’t know, sir, our Asgard allies are up to something. Yes, sir, will do.” Jack clicked his radio open. “Thor, the president says drop by for lunch some time. He’d like to thank you.”

All three ships rose higher and higher until they were only thin lights in the night-time sky. The generals were looking at him again.

“Don’t look at me,” Jack protested. “Thor usually doesn’t consult me before he takes action. He’s a big boy, sort of, he makes his own decisions.”

There was a flash of night in the sky and they covered their eyes. Jack waited, hoping…..

“O’Neill, what time is lunch?”

Jack almost fell to his knees as the troops cheered. “Noon,” Jack said. “Just, please don’t bring those little green ball things; they taste really nasty.”

 


 

Chapter 6

 

The Alpha Site was contacted and assured that all was well. Those who were sent off-world began to come home. Katie was holding T’Keet, stroking the russet fur with wide-eyed wonder.

“Uncle Jack, she’s an alien,” Katie breathed. At least she wasn’t freaking out about it.

“Yes, she is, honey.” He gave the furred ears a scratch and got a loud, happy purr.

Nate stuck his head close to Jack’s. “I gave her the long-lost son story,” he whispered. “Told her I was her cousin.”

“Katie and I have been getting the kids settled,” Nate said out loud, putting an arm around her shoulders. “Kinda tough when we don’t speak each other’s languages, but it’s happening.”

Jack nodded and touched his niece’s hair. He knocked Daniel on the shoulder, wishing he could do more; they’d all have a nice, long love-fest when they got home.

“Sir, welcome back,” Davis said. “The 302 pilots have reported in and are on their way home. Colonel Markham said he’s going hunting and he’ll get back to you with a trophy.”

Jack held out his hand and Davis took it.

“You held the fort, Major, I won’t forget that. I don’t suppose you’d like to be stolen away from General Vidrine?”

Davis smiled and shook his head. “I’m honored, sir, but I’m a geek at heart and working on the ships makes me happy.” Jack understood, and made a few mental notes.

“Let me know if you change your mind; I’ll put you on SG-1, and you, Daniel, and Carter can geek-away at the entire SGC as much as you’d like.” Jack offered. He felt no threat from Davis having been Daniel’s lover; he could honestly admit he liked the man. He knew Davis was probably going to find out about them, ex-lovers tended to sense those kinds of things but upon examining himself, Jack found he was okay with it.

The base was in a state of celebration, and Jack did nothing to set things in proper order. This WAS proper order, as far as he was concerned.

“Jack, what’s happening with the Heaven’s Bow?” Daniel asked, arms crossing his chest.

“SGC has it under heavy guard,” Jack said. “We will offer help in repairs so that its owners can take it home. We’re already getting flack from above; certain people feel it’s ours and we should be studying it. I told them it belongs to a sovereign people, and its Queen should be treated as any visiting dignitary should be treated, including their property. Major, would you like to play with a sick ship?”

Davis held back the wide grin and practically danced in place. “Yes, sir, I would.”

Jack chuckled. “Go, son, report to Inanna and let her know how talented you are. I’ll let your general know which playground you’re at.” Davis saluted and almost ran down the hall. Daniel chuckled.

“He’ll be flying high for months,” he said. Jack agreed. “And maybe he’ll be taking notes to use on our own ships?”

Jack put a finger to his lips. “Shhhh.”

“Uncle Jack, can I keep her?” Katie nuzzled the ears and received more purrs and snuggles.

Jack groaned. “Not you, too,” he whined. “No, you may not, she has a family. Actually, she has three fathers and a mother and three siblings, if their home world is still alright.”

Daniel glanced at the teen before responding. “Their gate was destroyed, we think,” he said quietly. “We’ve been trying it for hours, but there’s been no connection. We called out and the Tok’ra responded. Said they’d check it out and get back to us.”

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “Where’s Cass?” he looked around, noticing that she wasn’t in the area.

“In the infirmary,” Nate said. “She’s helping with the wounded. Doing candy-stripper stuff.”

“I’ll pay a visit,” Jack said. He winced. “Ooooh.”

“What?” Daniel asked.

“I need to call Katie’s parents. And mine. I am not looking forward to this.” Katie wrinkled her nose.

Nate chuckled. “Yeah, I think the entire satellited world has been glued to their TV’s for the past twelve hours. You got some ‘splainin’ to do, Lucy.”

Jack smirked at him. “Yeah, Ricky? You got a family to meet, after Katie tells them about you.”

Nate stopped smiling. He hadn’t thought about that.

“Why is that a problem?” she asked, listening.

“Because Nate wasn’t sure he was ready for a family,” Jack said. “He’s only just met us, and now he gets to meet all the O’Neills. And Carmichaels. I’d be afraid, too, if I were him. Hmmm…” he turned and looked at Daniel.

“Whatever it is, the answer is no, Jack.”

“Danny, Danny, Danny, where’s the trust?” he gave Daniel a pat. “I was only going to ask you if you have your world-premier presentation ready. You know this changes everything and people are not going to fluff it away as a government conspiracy. No X-Files and Roswell. We can invite Thor to tell the real Roswell story. You can give the history lessons and Davis can give a who’s-who and what’s-what. He’s done it before, so he already has his presentation ready. I’m not doing interviews all by myself, Dr. I-Can-Translate-the-Cartouche-and-Let’s-Call-It-A-Stargate.”

Daniel threw his head back and groaned in pain as he shuffled down the hall to his office.

“You’re evil, Jack,” Nate informed him with a wicked grin.

“It’s good for him,” Jack chuckled. “Having a bored Daniel around is asking for trouble.” He took Katie’s hand and took her with him to the infirmary. He’ll make the calls later.

“Uncle Jack?”

“Yes, my love.”

“Some of the people around here were talking about Daniel and Major Davis.”

Jack sighed; he was going to have to do something about that. Maybe he should just dip Daniel at the top of the gate ramp; that should take care of things……

“I know,” he said. “And yes, they were together for a while, they aren’t anymore. They’re just friends now.”

“Oh, okay,” she nodded. “I know a couple of gay guys at school. Some girls, too. Mom and Dad don’t know, they’d never let me go back. You know, the military gossips more than teenage girls.”

Jack chuckled. “I know that, too, honey.”

“School?” Jack looked down to see her face. She was serious. Nate chuckled.

“It’s been a while since you were in high school,” he reminded his older self. “The one Cass and I went to holds a Gay Pride dance every spring. It’s better attended than the Spring Formal. Everyone is welcome, even those who are only there to show their support. Just about every classroom has a pink triangle on the door to inform those entering that intolerance will not be tolerated. Even the various religions are getting in on the act: Christmas is no longer Christmas, it’s the Winter Holidays, Easter is no longer Easter, it’s the Spring Holidays. Jews and Muslims were objecting to the Christian-only point of view. The Pagans were, too, so the student council declared a change in the holiday format. The Buddhists didn’t really care. Tolerance is in, Jack.”

“Tell that to the Joint Chief’s,” Jack muttered.

“That’s too bad about Daniel,” Katie whispered to Nate.

“What is?”

“That he’s gay,” she said. “He’s so cute. What a waste.”

Nate snickered. “Actually, he’s bi, not gay, and I have it on good authority that nothing is currently being wasted.”

Katie turned red when the meaning hit. “She is sixteen, do you mind?” Jack protested. “I’m already in trouble with her parents; I don’t need her going home with gossip from the Military Gay Times.”

Nate held an innocent hand to his chest. “Gossip? Moi? Jack, I’m hurt. I’m giving my new cousin facts, not gossip. I know exactly who he’s sleeping with, he confirmed it when I asked him so it isn’t gossip, it’s a fact. And Daniel isn’t military, remember? Besides, she knows what guys do together, so it isn’t like I’m introducing a whole new subject to her delicate ears.”

“Let me at least pretend for a while longer that she’s just a baby, would you please? It’s bad enough I’m probably going to live to see a great-great niece in my lifetime, I don’t need reminders that my great niece is a big girl.”

The two bickered all the way to the infirmary. Katie found it interesting how identical they looked, even their voices. Her brother Matthew looked a little like their father, but not as much as Uncle Jack and Nate looked alike.

The infirmary was crowded with wounded to the point where those who were not critical, were sent to quarters and checked in on regularly. Jack gave Cassandra a hug and sent her back to her duties; he was proud of her pitching in. He saw a couple of warriors sitting bedside at another and went over. Ninurta was covered in bruises and stitches, several broken bones had been set. An older woman stood nearby, frowning in disapproval at all the tubing that was attached to him.

“This is our healer, Gula,” Shara said to Jack. Shara kept a hand on Ninurta’s arm and another warrior was on the other side of the bed holding the other hand. “And this is Gibil,” he indicated the other warrior.

“She doesn’t understand all the equipment,” Enki said, coming up to them. “She hasn’t learned your language, yet, so it’s been difficult for your people to explain what everything is.” He gave Ninurta’s black hair a touch, and Jack remembered Daniel saying that they were father and son.

Jack understood. “Please tell her that our doctors, our healers, are among the best on the planet, and he’s being well taken care of.”

Enki relayed the message to the old lady. “Your man Khalid was been helpful,” Enki said, indicating a nearby Sergeant. Gaafar from their off-world excursion. “He knows a little of our language, so he has been translating what he can.”

“Good,” Jack nodded in approval. “As far as I am aware, he and Daniel are the only two in this area who do know some of your language. No one has spoken it for thousands of years here.” He crooked a finger at the Sergeant.

“Sergeant, our guests say you’ve been very helpful. Unless something else comes up, I’m putting you on Anunnaki patrol. Be my liaison, let me know, or let Daniel know, if they need something.”

“Yes, sir,” Gaafar acknowledged.

“Enki, where is Inanna?” Jack asked, not seeing her in the room.

“Checking in on our other people.”

“Okay. I’d like to schedule a meeting for later in the day so that we can discuss your future,” Jack said as gently as he could. He told Enki about the gate problem with the Sua world.

“I’d like to be part of that meeting,” Enki said.

“Yes, of course.”

Jack saw M’Net nearby; Katie had taken T’Keet to see him. The cub was cooing gently over her wounded parent, touching him worriedly on the face.

“The doctors say he’s been very hurt,” Katie told him, her eyes sparkling with tears as she watched the cub trying to communicate with her unresponsive father.

“I know, honey,” Jack said, rubbing her back. “You just think good thoughts for him and give T’Keet lots of love. She’s very confused, right now; she’s just a baby and she doesn’t understand.”

Jack needed to find the other Sua, those not in critical care; someone more proper than a human teenager needed to adopt the cub.

“Nate.” Jack told him what needed to be done. Nate looked at the cub and nodded.

“General,” someone called to him. Jack looked up and the phone was being held out. He went over and took it.

“O’Neill. Good morning, sir. Yes, sir, it’s barely breaking dawn here. A new dawn, yes, sir.” Jack rolled his eyes. “Sir, that isn’t a good idea, not today. Because we are wall-to-wall with wounded, sir. Sir, there’s nothing to delegate, no one else knows how to take care of these types of wounds and I’m not sending these kids to a civilian hospital only to have them dissected by undercover agent doctors who think they know more than my people do. No, sir. One week. We are closed for business for one week while my medical staff gets these kids on their feet.”

He looked around. Military and medical looked at him as he sent the president packing.

“You heard me,” Jack said. “You have one week to get these people on their feet and out of here before our government comes knocking.” He hit the intercom button on the wall.

“This is O’Neill. I want to see in my conference room: Dr. Jackson, Colonel Reynolds, Teal’c, Bre’tac, Major Davis, and Colonel Carter, if she’s checked in, yet. Immediately.”

The last person wasn’t quite seated when Jack strode into the conference room.

“People, we have one week to clear out this base of all alien peoples,” he informed them. “The snowball has begun rolling. Davis, get out to that ship directly after this meeting and start working on it. Do we know where Carter is?”

“She was having a problem getting to us, sir,” Reynolds said. “Apparently our front door is jammed with civilians. One side of the road wants to convert the aliens to the true religion and the other side wants to return to a galaxy far, far away. I sent SF up to escort her and the other pilots in.”

“Okay,” Jack rubbed his eyes. “Davis, I need ammo; how do I keep the higher-ups away from here for as long as possible?”

The major pursed his lips, thinking. “Well, sir, I would not recommend quarantine, if that’s what you’re thinking, it would cause more of a panic than is already beginning. General Vidrine is already working on the alien ship problem and there are teams heading out there now from Area 51. I would recommend calling General Maynard and see if he is able to stall the president and Joint Chiefs. Other than a full-out mutiny, I don’t see any other way. Sir.”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first time Thor threatened to shut down our gate.”

Everyone looked at Daniel. He shrugged. “Lie to the man,” he suggested. “If anyone comes barging in here trying to take over, the Asgard will put a permanent lock on our gate. Have a talk with Thor, if you need to.”

“Indeed,” Bre’tac agreed, nodding. “I cannot speak for all Jaffa rebels, but I do not wish to be allied with the Tau’ri if they are under the control of such as the NID and I certainly would not trust any who come from here under the control of such.”

“Agreed,” Teal’c quietly resonated. “They have no honor.”

“Jack, you can’t let them take over,” Daniel implored him. “And please don’t talk to me about military and chain of command; I really don’t give a crap at this moment. You know as well as I do that if they come in, it will be with the express purpose of not only dominating all the other countries on this planet, but also playing Rambo with other worlds. We’ve seen the havoc that one stolen artifact can do to an innocent world. Most of our leadership are nothing more than Goa’ulds without symbiotes and I’ll say this; if they get their hands on this Stargate, I want off this world because I don’t want to be here when the System Lords start fighting over us.”

Reynolds was nodding. “Having been on both sides of the coin, I can tell you, sir, one oversight committee is no better than the other. I understand the need for a military presence or I wouldn’t be here, General, but at the same time, the mission of this base should be one of a more altruistic motive. It is right for us to be making friends and allies, it is right for us to be looking for technology, it is right for us to be looking for weapons of defense and not to be used against our neighbors, but against threats from space. It is NOT right for anyone to come in here and TAKE what they want from other worlds. That makes us no better than the Goa’ulds, it makes us no better than the Europeans coming over here and taking from the locals.”

Sam came flying in the door, helmet still tucked under her arm.

“Sorry I’m late,” she said, trying to catch her breath. She found a seat at the table. Jack looked at her, stopping himself from jumping up and holding her. Daniel quickly updated her since Jack was temporarily unable to speak. After a few moments of silence, Jack cleared his throat.

“Suggestions, Colonel?” he asked, looking at Reynolds.

“Well, sir, we do have all that medical research that’s been going on at Area 51,” he said. “I’d say have a few reports press-ready and discuss anything except military applications.”

“I think he’s right, sir,” Sam jumped in. “Have you seen the crowd building outside the mountain? Not only the kooks, but also just regular people looking for miracles. A relative that needs a cure for something. If we can get the populace on our side, those in the government who want to use the gate for more nefarious purposes, will find themselves up against a human tidal wave.”

A small furry entered the room on silent paws and climbed up onto Daniel’s lap. He cuddled her close, comforting her. He got a strange look on his face. They could all hear the wheels grinding. Jack covered his ears and stood up, “La la la la la……” he hummed to himself as he left the room.

Sam grinned, knowing whatever Daniel was coming up with, it was good. He stood up, swung T’Keet to his back, and held his arms out.

“Get over here,” he ordered. Sam jumped up and went into his hug, holding him hard. “Good job, airman,” he whispered huskily to her. Sam hugged Teal’c, too, and even surprised Bre’tac.

“Ma’am,” Davis interrupted them. “I know you just got here, but the general wants us on ship repairs immediately. One week, he said.”

Sam stretched a kink out and groaned. “Can I eat first?”

Jack went to his office and looked at his phone. He picked it up with a wince, dialed and waited. At least Sam was back safely; he’d have to wait for a private moment to express his pleasure of her safe return.

“It’s Uncle Jack, Meg,” he said when it was answered. He held the phone away from his ear. “Megan…. Megan….. Meg…… Honey…… Megs…….” He waited some more. When her crying began to abate, he tried again. “She’s fine, Megan,” he quietly assured her. “She’s helping babysit some alien children. Megan, I’m serious, I wouldn’t kid you about this. Well, I didn’t exactly plan on two warring alien factions landing on our doorstep and dooking it out, believe me; we were heading out for dinner when they came buzzing in and I’m a little upset for missing my steak. She was safe here at the base. No, I don’t have time right now, things are a little busy. Well, you can call whomever you’d like about it, but after last night’s little display, I cannot leave the base just to bring her home. She’s safe here, she’s making friends, and she’s getting the experience of a lifetime. You told me I could have her for the month, so take the time to chill out and let the dust start to settle. I will have her call you.”

He hung up and redialed as he caught his breath, praying that neither of his eighty-something parents had a heart-attack or stroke.

“Hi, Dad, are you and Mom alright? Yeah, I gave ‘em hell, fightin’ in my airspace. No, Sam was there, she was in one of those small fighter jets. Yeah, those are ours, cool huh? Sam helped to create them. Yeah, she’s a smarty. Listen, Dad, Megs is wigging out. No, Dad, Katie’s fine. She was here on base, so she was safe. I had to leave her here, I wasn’t about to leave her home, and with alien ships flyin’ around, I certainly wasn’t going to put her on a plane. Try and calm Megan down, would you? No, she said I can have Katie for a month, so I’m keeping her for the month. She’s having fun, Dad, making friends, babysitting alien children. There were families on the smaller ship. Yes, it is incredible. The other guy was extremely bad; we would have been in a lot of trouble if he had lived. Lots of dead, lots of wounded. No, here at our base infirmary. We’re going to help them and then send them home. Sam is helping to fix their ship. Yeah, she knows how to do that. Well, Dad, I still can’t really talk about it, but there will probably be some sort of public announcement shortly. I promise, after everything is pubic, I will sit down with you guys and tell you everything. Okay. I love you. Kiss Mom for me.”

Jack rested for a moment after hanging up. He looked up at the knock on his door and waved Reynolds in.

“With your permission, I have a preliminary schedule for sending people off-world, sir,” he said, holding out a piece of paper. Jack took it and scanned it.

“Why Chulak instead of the Alpha Site?” he asked.

“Because the Alpha Site belongs to us and is technically under the president’s command,” Reynolds said. “Anyone there can be ordered back here. If people are sent to Chulak, they can’t be ordered back. Bre’tac has already said he’d make sure all guests are welcomed and made at home. He said that after seeing them fight, he’d build homes for anyone who will help defeat the Goa’uld. If all else fails for the Sua home world, Chulak has an unexplored continent.”

Jack nodded. “This is fine, Colonel,” he said, handing the paper back. “Start the evac.” Thankfully, it hadn’t occurred to anyone from higher-up to pass on an order to keep the aliens earth-bound, and Jack was going to take full advantage of that fact.

Reynolds acknowledged and turned to go. He paused.

“Sir, are you alright?”

“Fine, Colonel, thank you. Just tired.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jack found Daniel in the commissary digging into a pile of pasta. Daniel was straddling the chair instead of sitting properly. Jack picked a meatball from Daniel’s plate and tried to enjoy it. He had to admit it, he was exhausted. Many of their ambulatory guests were also sitting and exploring new foods. The jello was of extreme interest, and the cakes and pies were going fast. Jack noticed a furry lump on Daniel’s back; soft snores could be heard.

“I thought you left her with her own people?” Jack asked.

“I did,” Daniel said. “She keeps finding me. I asked someone and he said cubs are raised communally, so it doesn’t matter who is taking care of her, and that my scent reminds her of M’Net. Just coincidence.”

“Oh.” He took another meatball. Daniel took a clean fork from another table and handed it to Jack, pushing the plate toward the center of the table. “How is M’Net doing?”

“Starting to respond,” Daniel was pleased to inform him. “And Ninurta is sitting up and talking. They’re the worse of the wounded.”

“Are either of them up enough to get off-world?” Jack told him about the coming evacuation. Daniel thought about it.

“I don’t know, I’m not medical; Ninurta might, but I wouldn’t think so.”

Jack nodded and shoved a loaded fork into his mouth before standing.

“’ank u.”

“You’re welcome,” Daniel chuckled, taking his plate back.

Jack went to the control room just as Reynolds led in the first group, the children with adults to oversee them, and then the ambulatory wounded. The wormhole to Chulak was established and they were sent through. Group by group they came in from the hallway and were sent through. Jack made a head count as they went through, and came up with one hundred and twenty-seven by the time the last group was sent through. They were short eight from the initial head-count. He called down to Reynolds.

“M’Net and T’Keet are the only Sua left here, sir, the other six are Anunnaki. The leaders, sir. They’re in the infirmary.”

Jack acknowledged and shut the horizon down. The evacuation took an hour, which wasn’t bad considering over a hundred went through. He went to the infirmary to check up on things. The base was surprisingly quiet, now that all the extra people were gone. There was room to walk in the hallways.

Jack’s three kids were in the infirmary. He paused and picked up the wall phone.

“Sergeant, is the escape hatch clear?” he asked. “Thank you.” Good, none of the freaks at the gate had discovered the hatch.

“You two,” Jack pointed at Nate and Cassandra, technically two more aliens. “I want you out of here, too.” Jack motioned to two SF in the hall. “Get these two suited up for a hike and kick them out the hatch. Radios and a gun, nothing fancy.”

“Yes, sir,” they saluted. Cassandra smiled sweetly and pecked Jack’s cheek.

“I’m not kissing your cheek,” Nate warned him.

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” Jack said. “You two call in right away, if there are any problems,” he warned them. They agreed.

“You don’t want us to take Katie?” Nate asked. Katie watched them.

Jack shook his head. “No, I talked with Megan and already informed her that I was keeping her here. Besides, I want her in my sight.” He saw the question on Nate’s face and shook his head, No, Megan was NOT happy.

Nate gave Katie a light punch on the arm. “Later, kiddo,” he said. “And remember you promised me a date. I want to know all the family gossip before I get involved.”

Katie smiled and gave her new cousin a hug and then hugged Cassie. Jack was glad they were making friends; Katie needed someone as out-spoken as Cassie.

“At least you don’t have to deal with Uncle Jack going around telling people how he changed YOUR diapers,” Katie cheerfully complained to Nate. He shuddered and patted her shoulder in sympathy before going with the SF.

“Hey, I enjoyed patting your cute little tushie,” Jack told her. “Other things, though….” He waved a hand under his nose and made a face. Katie flushed and swiped a hand in his direction.

“Uncle Jack, really!” she protested.

“Don’t worry, Katie,” Daniel said, coming into the room. “I have dirt on your uncle.”

Katie grinned and took his arm, sticking her tongue out at Jack.

“Don’t you even think about it,” Jack warned him. Daniel started to sing about rowing a boat and Jack threw a paper cup at him. Their audience chuckled at them. Daniel handed the cub off to Katie and sent her to occupy the child.

The halls were crowded with SGC people rushing one way or another, preparing for embarkation through the gate and getting the SGC prepared for a presidential visit.

“How are you, Ninurta?” Jack asked as he approached the bed. There was a warrior present that he hadn’t met; shaggy black hair and light brown skin as the others. He held his hands at his lower back, relaxed, and, yet, with an air of being on guard. Jack got the sense of ‘don’t fuck with me’ from him.

“Much better, thank you,” Ninurta replied. “It is nice to see family play at such serious times.”

“Keeps us sane,” Jack responded. The others nodded. “Who’s this?” he asked, indicating the warrior on guard.

“This is Erra,” Inanna said, introducing them. “He is my sister Ereshkigal’s consort; he requested to remain with us while we are still in potential danger.”

“Did your sister get through the gate alright?” Jack asked, remembering that the lady was blind.

“Yes,” Inanna nodded. “Our people will look after her. She isn’t as defenseless as she seems, Jack, don’t let her physical blindness fool you.”

“If no one has told you, everyone else has been sent off-world to Chulak,” Jack said. “The home world of the Jaffa rebels. For safety purposes. I cannot guarantee safety if certain parties in my government take over this base. You and M’Net are the last of the wounded,” he told Ninurta.

“We do understand,” Inanna said. “What about our ship?”

“Except for the style of clothing, you do look human,” he pointed out. “I was thinking of putting you in modern clothing, sending you out the hatch and have a couple SF take you to your ship. Once the repairs are made, you can leave. No one will know you’re not from around here except a few of my people who are helping with repairs; Colonel Carter and Major Davis.”

“And Colonel Carter is Jack’s wife, so you’d have a direct line to him, if something comes up,” Daniel put in.

Menzen erish?” Shara asked him quietly with a small smile. Daniel just smiled back at him. Shara murmured something else, glancing at Jack. Daniel murmured something back at Shara, chuckling.

“Boys behave,” Inanna said to them. “That is agreeable,” she told Jack. The others echoed her.

“Alright, let me get a few arrangements made and we’ll get you out of here and to your ship,” Jack told them. “I’m going to assign Sergeant Gaafar to you for the time being. He can tutor you in our culture and hopefully keep the eyes of the public away from you.”

“I look forward to this,” Inanna said with a thoughtful nod. “I would very much like to see how our old home has progressed and being with the people as one of them would be a good way to see this.”

“What was he saying?” Jack asked, pulling Daniel aside in the hallway.

Daniel looked around and leaned in. “He asked if Sam was our queen and then commented that you have a great butt, a munchable mouth, incredible legs, and wanted to know if you were as good a lover as you looked because you certainly looked good enough to keep your queen and your consort happy. I told him you are and he can look but no touching. He called me selfish.” Jack flushed and sent Daniel on his way.

On his way to his office, Daniel thought of pulling together a Sumero-English dictionary for the group to take with them, maybe a copy of the Chicago dictionary, a true sacrifice since it was an extremely difficult thing to find. Daniel stopped and swore under his breath. He went back to the infirmary, caught Gaafar’s eye, and motioned him away.

“Khalid, I…. we forgot… what was said…” Daniel could feel the panic starting.

Gaafar stopped him, holding a hand in the air. “I admit to being completely stunned, but I see nothing, I hear nothing,” he promised. “It certainly explains a few things. I’m beginning to learn not to be surprised at anything that happens around here, though. Daniel? I thought you and the major…?” he leaned in to whisper.

In no time at all, the Anunnaki were dressed in modern clothing and looking like one of the crowd. Except for the long hair. The men refused to cut their hair, taking Nate as an example for men with long hair in their society. They did agree to a trim and style; nothing else.

Jack left his office to walk around and check on the sweeping of the base; before the president insisted on a tour, he wanted to make sure there were no surprises around the corner. What actually worried him more was the fact that there was an excellent possibility that the SGC was going to be handed over to someone else, someone who had weapons on their mind. And after last night’s little romp in Northern Colorado, someone was definitely going to be wanting weapons. He was hoping Davis had updated that particular file; it may not be as quick as people wanted them, but there were weapons that the SGC were using on a regular basis that the general military was not. Jack began to compose his argument starting with the fact that there wasn’t enough naquadah to build the amount of weapons they wanted and no, they couldn’t just melt down the alien ship for metals. Jack was feeling better, having listened to himself.

He considered tossing all alien weapons through the gate, and then reminded himself that the Pentagon had an inventory sheet on them. Jack was beginning to understand why rebels came to be. The gate alarm came on and Jack hustled to the command room.

“It’s the Tok’ra IDC, sir,” Walter informed him. Jack had him open the gate and went down to meet with whoever was coming through.

“Malek,” Jack greeted the man upon entering the gate room.

“O’Neill,” he was greeted. The autocratic attitude of the Tok’ra still grated on Jack’s nerves, but he knew this particular Tok’ra was at least trying. “The chaapa’i on the Sua home world is indeed destroyed,” he reported. “Their main continent was untouched. If they wish, we will return them to their home.”

“That’s good news, thank you,” Jack said. “Most of them from the ships are staying on Chulak. We have one still here that has been in critical condition. Can you try zapping him? I like him, but we really need him out.”

It took Malek a moment before understanding what Jack was asking. He agreed and Jack ushered him out of the room while telling Walter to page Daniel to the infirmary. Katie was still sitting with M’Net; she had been trying to get a comb through his thick russet mane. Jack noticed a red spot in the corner of the room. There was a large bird sitting on an IV pole, much to the displeasure of the staff.

Zu, where have you been?” Jack asked the bird. All he got was a chuckle that sounded suspiciously nefarious. It hadn’t occurred to him that the bird wasn’t around until he spotted it sitting there. Jack sent Katie from the room and let Malek do his thing with the do-hicky he took from a pocket and put on his hand. Those toys were thankfully something he could assure the military that they could NOT use. Unless they wanted to volunteer to become hosts. The thought made Jack shudder. Baby Goa’ulds in the making….

Daniel came in just as M’Net’s eyes were fluttering open.

“Daniel, as soon as he’s coherent, update him,” Jack said. “We need to get him out of here.” Daniel understood and sat by the Sua as he came to. The Anunnaki watched, impressed with the toy, and asked Malek questions after introducing themselves.

The Anunnaki were getting a feel for their new clothing and last minute instruction for moving around in the modern world. It had been about three thousand years since they were last on Earth. It was decided that Enki would accompany M’Net to Chulak and be in attendance to Ereshkigal until her consort was returned to her. Inanna assured Jack that the Sua were more in need of Enki’s leadership than the Anunnaki were.

“All praise, Aba,” she respectfully turned to the older man. Enki patted her face, not taking insult.

“Go, child,” he said, gesturing to the escape ladder in the wall.

Just before Enki and M’Net walked through the gate, the old man turned to Jack, his eyes thoughtful.

“When we have faith in those we love and trust, cliffs become a platform from which we soar to great heights; when we are able to fly, our soul is free from all earthly bonds. I wish you a joyous flight to your wings, Jack.”

The base was cleared of all aliens. Jack breathed a sigh of relief and went to find sugar in the commissary. He wasn’t quite sure what to think about Enki’s parting commentary, but it was creating a small anxiety attack. There were times when Jack wanted to put a translator on the old man’s English. He went to his quarters for a moment of quiet and found his bed occupied by an exhausted and sound asleep teenager. He smiled, wiggled her sneakers off, and pulled a light blanket over her. He put a light kiss on her hair and she mumbled in her sleep, snuggling into the blanket. Jack saw a five-year old and couldn’t believe she had gone and gotten herself pregnant. At least she had the common sense to make a mature decision. A sixteen year old child should not be having a child of her own.

Jack let her sleep and went to Sam’s quarters, collapsing on her bed after letting the watch know where he was. Sam’s scent on the pillow filled him and he closed his eyes. He couldn’t sleep. He got up, went to Daniel’s quarters and found Daniel also in the process of falling asleep. Daniel watched through one opened, blurry eye as Jack made a silent search. He dug out a black t-shirt from the laundry and tossed it over the camera. He knelt on the side of the bed and bent down, taking a long, satisfying kiss from the amused man, and stood up. He took the t-shirt off the camera and took it with him. Jack heard a quiet chuckle as he shut the door and went back down the hall to Sam’s quarters. He took his dress shirt off, dragged his t-shirt off, put Daniel’s on, and lay back down. Jack fell asleep.

***

The president wasn’t happy. There were no aliens for him to get his picture taken with. General Maynard pulled Jack aside and informed him, with barely concealed hostility (for others, not Jack) that a more cooperative general would be taking over the SGC. Jack handed in his resignation and went to pack up what few personal belongings he kept on the base. Daniel took one look and began to pack, also. Jack’s last order was to several SF to please take their stuff to his truck.

“Jack, please don’t be like this,” the president asked. Unfortunately, the president’s voice had a condescending tone that came naturally, and tended to grate on Jack’s nerves.

“When you get tired of the asshole in that chair fucking up, let me know,” Jack informed him.

Just before heading into the elevator, Jack took a detour and went into the gate room one last time. Katie did a quick about-face and followed. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but if Uncle Jack was mad at the president, then so was she. She didn’t know if it was legal to be mad at the President of the United States, but she’d follow Uncle Jack.

The control booth was crowded with Blues trying to figure out why the gate wasn’t turning on. Walter was pushed from his chair and someone who had never even seen the system before tried to make it work. Walter leaned against a wall, watching everyone with a look that dared them to succeed. They did ask Jack; he knew nothing about it and he was sorry, and the repair team wasn’t on base at the moment. To Daniel’s surprise, he found his hand grabbed and pulled. Jack dragged him up the ramp, turned to face him, took his face between his hands, and planted a long, wet one on Daniel’s mouth.

There was dead silence when Jack pulled his mouth away. Daniel had a flamboozeled look on his face and had to shake himself out of it. Jack was proud of himself: the last time Daniel looked like that was when he went back to Abydos to bring Daniel home. Sha’re kissed Daniel, marking her territory, and the man almost fell over when she was done.

“Colonel Reynolds!” Jack called out.

“Sir!”

“You owe General Hammond a refund, Colonel,” Jack informed him.

“Yes, sir!” Reynolds held in the grin as he saluted.

Arms were at full salute on their way to the elevator. Several of Daniel’s civilian geeks snuck in with them, all carrying duffle bags filled with personal affects. If SG-1 wasn’t SG-1, they weren’t staying, either.

“Do you have any idea what you just did?” Daniel asked when the elevator was on its way up.

“I kissed you,” Jack said. He thought about it and touched his mouth. “Yes, the mouth is tingling so I’m pretty sure that’s what it was.”

“Yeah, and about freakin’ time,” one of the geeks spouted. Jack glared at him.

Katie was staring at Jack and Daniel. Jack noticed and winced.

“Am I in trouble?” he asked her.

“Not with me,” she said, a grin starting to form. “But once Pope Grandpa figures out what’s going on, you are SOOOO in deep doo-doo.”

 

***

 

Jack called Sam after squeezing through the crowds at the gate and making their way to Daniel’s car. He confessed.

“Well, Jack, I guess the only thing you can do now is ask Daniel if he’ll move in. After you build an extension onto the house.” Sam wasn’t sure to feel anger at the military or if she should be jumping for joy at getting things ‘out of the closet.’

Jack held the phone away from his mouth and looked at Daniel. “If I build an extension onto the house, you wanna move in?”

Daniel looked at him, back at the road, and back at him. “My own room and office space?”

“Sure,” Jack shrugged and nodded. He certainly had nothing better to do with his near future.

“I get a workspace, too,” he heard Sam shout.

Jack put the phone back to his mouth. “Yes, dear, but only if you promise not to blow up the neighborhood.”

“No hogging the sheets, Jack,” Daniel warned him. “I won’t hesitate to kick your butt out of bed, if you do.”

“Ditto,” Jack heard on the phone.

“I’m being ganged up on, here,” he complained to both. Katie was in the back seat giggling.

They got to the cabin to find a couple of cars in the driveway and the name on the mailbox changed. The Webers from next door came over after spotting them.

“Carl, what’s this?” Jack asked, motioning a finger around his place.

“People started coming around wanting to know where you lived,” the man said. “We figured it was none of their business, so we changed the name on the mailbox and parked our cars here. It’s kept the lookie-loos from trampling through your stuff. General Solo, sir.”

They smiled at him and held out hands. Jack smiled and shook hands.

“I’m Luke, not Han,” he informed them. “Daniel is Han.”

“No, I’m not,” Han protested. “Sam is Han, she’s the one who’s flying everywhere.”

“What’s that make you –the Princess?”

“Don’t go there, Jack. No, Katie is the Princess, I’m going to be Chewie after my hair grows out,” Daniel informed him.

Jack wasn’t going there, either. “What’s the temperature out here, Carl?” he asked his neighbor. He gave the house key to Katie and sent her in, telling her to call her mother. The man shrugged.

“Locally, it’s pretty good,” he said. “We’re all damned proud of you, Jack. Overall, a few ripples are starting to cross the pond. Lots of religious talk on the TV and in the newspapers. Suicide is up, as are reports of stockpiling weapons and non-perishables. There’s been a raid on telescopes. Yours is in my garage, by the way. Things are good around here, we all know you and we know you’ve dealt with whatever you had to deal with. NASA is apparently pissed; seems they’re feeling a little humiliated at being strung along all these years, struggling for what they have, and here you are on a first-name basis with aliens. They’re wondering what else you guys haven’t told them. Speculations are rampant.”

“They can keep wondering,” Jack said. His cell phone rang and he looked at the ID before answering it. “Hi, honey,” he said, excusing himself and walking away. Daniel introduced himself and the Webers, Carl and Rhonda, who offered to help carry stuff into the house.

Jack came into the house a short time later. “Sam will be home soon,” he told Daniel and Katie. “The car is fixed and ready to go.”

“Great,” Daniel said. “Dinner?”

Jack thought about it. “We did miss those steaks, didn’t we?”

Carl offered to grill. “Can we take a rain-check?” Jack begged. “I have heard nothing except loud voices for the past…how long has it been? Almost ten days? I’d just like to sit in my house and sleep for a year.”

The Webers were good-natured in their understanding and wished him a peaceful sleep before leaving. Katie was on the house phone and Daniel was on his cell when Jack went in. Katie was trying to calm her mother down, holding the phone away from her ear as she searched through the refrigerator for anything that hadn’t gone bad in the ten days they were gone. The garbage basket was piling up. Jack called out for a pizza delivery. Daniel hung up his phone.

“Checking in with my own neighbors,” he told Jack. “My house is fine. Not that anyone knows what I do except work at the Mountain. Or I did.” Daniel leaned against the counter and looked at Jack over crossed arms.

“Jack, are you absolutely sure you know what you’re doing?”

“Yes, I do,” he said, letting out a deep breath. “It feels right, Danny. I know exactly what they’re going to do with that program, and I cannot hold my tongue while they do it. So it’s better that I leave. Sooner or later all this will come out, and then I will be free to speak my mind.”

Daniel slowly nodded. “I’m going to write,” he said. “Pulling together all the notes I’ve kept over the years into a book shouldn’t be a problem. I have the time to do it, so I’ll do it. I suggest you start writing, too. The moment the news of the gate hits the public airwaves, the world is going to come looking for us for answers. In the meantime, I have plenty of money saved up so I don’t have to think about working anytime soon….”

“What money?” Jack asked. “You’re always broke. You keep getting your utilities shut off, your house payments are always behind, and you still owe me fifty bucks.”

Daniel smiled. “That isn’t a lack of money, Jack, that’s absent-mindedness. Sam kept telling me to set up auto-payments with everyone, and I never got around to doing it. All my paychecks are automatically deposited, I usually don’t have to pay my own airfare, and I eat most of my meals on the base. The only things I spend money on are books and a few new clothes whenever Sam gets tired of looking at stuff that’s twenty-years-old. She’s a little nuts on the subject of my clothes, Jack. And once I move in here, I’ll rent my house out instead of selling it.”

He dug around in his backpack and pulled out a handful of mail he had stuffed in there before leaving his house a couple weeks prior. He handed the bank statement to Jack who sat down before he fell down after he looked at it.

“Daniel, there’s…..” his jaw dropped. “Danny, this is almost quarter of a million dollars.”

Daniel shrugged. “I’ve spent the past eight years collecting very large paychecks and spending less than a quarter of each check. They add up. And I figured that once the program is out in the open, the money market is going to get a little crazy for a while, so I have another quarter in precious gems, art, gold and silver. Things like that.”

Jack stared at him as though he’d grown a second head.

“Well, Jack, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean I don’t know what to do with it. I’m absent-minded, not dumb.” Daniel pushed his glasses up and returned the stare.

Jack looked at the statement again, swallowing hard.

“You’re paying for the pizza.”

Jack convinced Sam to stay in the military. She was all prepared to leave along with the men, but Jack knew one of them needed to be on the inside to keep an eye on things. She reluctantly agreed, but only if she could get transferred back to the Pentagon and to General Vidrine, one of the few SGC-friendly generals. Daniel called Davis for a little friendly chat and the word soon came down that Vidrine was requesting the transfer of Colonel Carter to his command. She was to be stationed in Nevada, overseeing their airport maintenance crew. Major Davis would be her 2IC. No gate travel for her, they didn’t trust her not to STAY off-world, but she could play with ships all she wanted. The higher-ups weren’t very happy with her at the moment, seeing as she fixed the alien ship and let it escape, but the main point was –she fixed an alien ship and it flew. Sam informed Jack of alien gratitude.

Daniel begged leave from spending the night with them; he was in the middle of a chapter and it was killing him to finish it. It concerned Sha’re. He really needed to finish the chapter. He got tempting kisses, but they dropped him off at his house anyway.

Jack opened his eyes and looked at the clock. 1:37 AM. He slid quietly out of bed, dressed, and left the house. He wasn’t aware of the time it took to Daniel’s house, he only knew he was there when he opened the door and let himself in. He locked the door behind him and made his way to Daniel’s room. He smiled quietly, noticing the much larger, new bed. He sat on the edge and began to take his shoes off.

Whass wrong?” Daniel mumbled, touching Jack’s back.

“Nothing,” Jack said. He took his shirt off and dropped it to a chair. The pants went next. He slid into the bed and looked at the sleepy man. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Daniel was waking up. He scrubbed his face and stretched.

“Why not?” he asked, yawning.

“Because I needed to talk to you and I couldn’t wait until morning.” Jack lay down on his stomach, shoving his arms under a pillow as he looked at Daniel. “I know I’m being a jerk, waking you up, I’m sorry.”

Daniel knew Jack wouldn’t have woken him up if it wasn’t serious, not after how tired they all were.

“Come here,” he said, patting his chest. Jack moved over and wrapped an arm around Daniel’s stomach. It worked well that Jack was a belly sleeper and Daniel a back sleeper. “What’s on your mind?”

“Us.”

Jack lay quietly for several minutes, trying to clarify his thoughts and feelings. Daniel waited patiently, simply being there for him. “I want this, Danny,” Jack said quietly. “I want you. I want to make love with you without flinching away from you. It doesn’t have to be now, I’m not expecting it now, I just needed to talk about it. I know it’ll be rough, I know I may flip out on you. It isn’t you I’m afraid of, it’s me. I didn’t realize that I had only been burying my past, not fixing it, until we started this and had it thrown in my face. I don’t like feeling fear in me, Danny, I want it out. I trust you, and I know you can handle me if anything happens. I’ll leave you my shrink’s phone number, if there’s a breakdown.”

Daniel turned onto his side to look Jack in the face. “Do you remember how upset you were when I Topped Sam? It’ll be a hundred times worse, Jack, because of your past haunting you. The only way we can do what you are asking, is if I Top you. That means taking you, Jack. I will hold you down if I have to, I won’t stop even if you are screaming out NO at the top of your lungs. I will insist on safe words; do you know what that is? Green means good, yellow means slow down we may need to talk, and red means stop. Red is the only word that will make me stop once we start, and if you call it, we stop, talk, we may need to call your doctor. Do you understand that?”

Jack swallowed hard as he listened and looked into Daniel’s face. “I need this, Danny.”

Daniel put his forehead against Jack’s, thinking. “Did you tell Sam you were doing this?”

“No.”

“Do you want to call her?”

“No.”

“Okay.”

Daniel rolled out of bed.

“Come on.”

Jack looked at him.

“Where are we going?”

“Shower.”

Jack was slow to follow Daniel into the bathroom. Daniel had started the shower, testing the temperature as he undressed. He got in and pulled Jack in. Jack started to speak and was shushed.

“You’re mine, Jack,” Daniel informed him. “I’m taking back what’s mine and that starts with the outside before working my way in.”

He dunked Jack under the water, soaking him, before starting with shampoo. Jack remained silent, letting Daniel bathe him. He heard soft muttering and realized Daniel was whispering something as he worked. Whatever it was, Jack realized that he wasn’t panicking. Until a soapy hand got to his ass. Daniel held him still.

“Whose ass is this?” he asked. Jack took a deep breath.

“Yours?”

“No,” Daniel said. “It’s yours. No one can claim what is yours, only you can choose to share it. So whose ass is it?”

“Mine,” Jack whispered. “To be shared with you. And Sam.”

The initial loving was no different than what they had already shared at Jack and Sam’s home, so Jack had no problems with it. Kissing Daniel, touching him, being touched, was soothing, it felt right. Daniel taught him different things that straight men didn’t typically know about their own bodies, things that women usually had no idea of simply because they hadn’t been taught by a man. Jack gasped in surprise a number of times, and was pleased at Daniel’s reactions when the movement was returned.

By the time Daniel reached his target, Jack wasn’t sure how he would respond. His initial response was one of fear, he knew that and, yet, Daniel continued to play, eventually causing the fear to mingle with the pleasure. He did have to hold Jack down for a moment until Jack got his fears under control. Once the ride started, however, Jack understood how pleasurable it could be. He understood the difference between what had happened to him in Iraq, and what Daniel was now doing, the love and pleasure, versus the degradation and pain.

When both the men were wiped out with exhaustion, Daniel slid the pillow out, tossed it to the floor, taking Jack’s hands and lacing their messy fingers together as he listened to Jack softly shuddering into the bedding. He held Jack, saying nothing, hoping Jack could sense his open heart sending all the loving energy inside him.

After a while, Jack stopped his shivering and wallowed in the cocoon Daniel had made of himself.

“Did you shut the curtains?” Jack finally asked, sniffling and husky voiced. Daniel smiled and buried his face in Jack’s neck.

 


 

Chapter 7

 

The second time Daniel took Jack, there was only a small amount of struggle before Jack relaxed into his Danny-mantra and began to participate. Jack did request to remain on his back; his knee was killing him. Daniel did his best to kiss the boo-boo all better. The third time, after a much needed shower, Jack initiated the contact and actually spent time exploring Daniel with fingers and mouth. Daniel was pleased with the progress. Jack declared a holiday for his butt and they took their third shower for the evening. Morning. The sun was up by the time the third shower came along.

The doorbell rang and Daniel gave the clock a mild look of disapproval. No one should be knocking at seven a.m. Sam wouldn’t have rung the bell, she would have walked in. Daniel slid a robe on and went to the door. He found Edward and Sylvia standing there, two of the computer people from the base.

“We have a problem,” they announced. Whatever it was, they weren’t very upset about it. They looked around Daniel as Jack came into the living room. He had only a towel wrapped around his waist, having just gotten out of the shower.

“Good morning, Jaaaack,” they crooned at their ex-general impudently. The general crossed his arms and glared at them. Behind them, a car parked and Sam came up the walk. Seven a.m. and it was Grand Central at Daniel’s house.

“Morning,” she called out. She went around the two at the door, who watched, expecting a jealous rage. Sam strode into the house, passing out kisses on her way past Daniel and Jack. Edward and Sylvia filed away the interesting information.

“So, what’s the problem?” Daniel got around to asking the two. They did their best to look repentant. Daniel was afraid.

“We were working on notes, finalizing a few Mountain things, and we accidentally pressed the wrong button,” Sylvia said.

“What does that mean?” Daniel asked.

“It means all our SGC files were accidentally uploaded,” Edward said.

“Uploaded to where?” Jack asked, stepping forward with a suspicious eye. Sam was a step behind him.

“To the World Wide Web. We’re really, really, really sorry ‘bout that,” they mournfully expressed. Edward handed Daniel a wrapped present, Sylvia gave Jack’s furry chest an amused, and interested, glance, and left the house.

Jack groaned and collapsed onto the couch, wincing slightly and adjusting his placement, and Sam fell next to him. Daniel opened the package. It was a DVD. The Core. Daniel pulled his lips in, trying not to smile, holding in the laughter as he tossed the movie onto the couch.

“Dumb movie, entertaining for a light afternoon; the very end will interest you,” he told the two on the couch. Jack wasn’t ready for it.

“How’d you know where I was?” Jack asked Sam, throwing an arm around the back of the couch. She looked him over and grinned as she touched a small purple spot next to a nipple. Jack looked down and flushed. No wonder the egg-heads were amused by the sight of his chest.

“Would you believe a bird told me?”

Jack groaned and held his head. “Zu is still around? Oh, no.”

Sam nodded, pleased with herself. “Oh, yes, he’s here. I asked him why he wasn’t with his own people and my mind was suddenly filled with some very interesting images.”

Jack flushed and fell sideways across her lap, pulling a cushion over his face. She kissed his shoulder and patted him, running her hand over his hip as she chuckled.

“There’s more,” she reluctantly said. Jack peeked at her. “The images were broadcast to the room. Katie got it. So did Sara. She was there picking up Katie. I think the image of you guys startled her more than the alien bird did.”

Jack yelled into the pillow. “Oh, I can see this isn’t going to be a good day,” he whimpered. “That bird is being plucked, skewered, and barbequed. What did Sara say? Dare I ask?” Anyone but his ex-wife, pleasepleasepleaseplease……

“She’s expecting lunch and full disclosure. About everything.”

“Okay.” Jack turned over onto his back and flopped his arms out, sacrificed on Sam’s lap. “And Katie?”

“Her exact words? “Uncle Jack, does the word condom hold any meaning for you?””

Jack yelled into the pillow again and Daniel burst out laughing, quickly putting the cups of coffee on the table before he spilled them. Sam laced her fingers with Jack’s and brought them to her mouth.

“Are you okay?” she asked him, stroking his hair with the other hand.

“I’m a lot better,” he assured her. He told her of his initial reaction and, “By the third time, I was almost jumping him,” he confessed. “He…..”

“Three times?” Sam squeaked in surprise. “Are you sure you’re in one piece?”

Jack grinned. “Well, he did split me right up the middle, honey. I’m a little sore, but I feel good. I had so much still left in me and I didn’t know it. It was like I had buried it, instead of getting rid of it. Daniel tore it right out of me.” Daniel sat on the side of the couch and leaned down to kiss him, taking his time with Jack’s lips before sitting up.

“What were you whispering at the beginning?” Jack asked him, linking his other hand with Daniel’s.

“I was saying an ancient incantation to exorcise demons.”

Startled, Jack laughed. “Well, whatever it was, something about it was relaxing.”

“Say it for me?” Sam asked. Daniel spoke the ancient words and she nodded thoughtfully. “Something about the tempo,” she said. “It sounds pretty.”

Daniel nodded. “It was a beautiful language,” he said. “Very sibilant. It flows. Listen to modern Arabic languages; they sound a lot alike. Many of the words have survived into present day Arabic and Assyrian languages. And there would be a tempo to the incantation, they were meant to be chanted or sung.” He repeated the incantation, this time chanting it. Energy swirled in the air around them and goose bumps were raised.

Something in another room pinged and Daniel stood up. “I started a search for whatever it was Edward and Sylvia did,” he said. Jack and Sam followed him. They took one look at the search results.

“Shit,” came three voices.

There were over five thousand hits all pertaining to SGC, aliens, and Battlefield Colorado. Their own names were frequently listed.

“What are we doing?” Sam asked.

“You will be doing what your general asks of you,” Jack said. “Daniel and I are private citizens, I don’t care what the goddammed Pentagon and Joint Chiefs tell me, and we will wait for the military to come to us. Whether or not I chose to submit to interrogation, is another matter.”

Sam nodded and went to call Vidrine and warn him of the upload.

“They can recall you again,” Daniel quietly reminded him. Jack didn’t want to be reminded.

“They may think otherwise when they get told you’re part of my package,” Jack informed him. “I’m not hiding this, Daniel; it's new territory, and I’m ready to tackle this particular cliff.”

“You saw what Paul went through, and he’s just a major. Are you ready for that?”

Jack bent down and kissed him. “Let ‘em take all the pictures they want,” he said against Daniel’s mouth. “I’m not afraid of this, Danny,” he said, stroking Daniel’s damp hair. “You and Sam are my family and if the military doesn’t like it, they can shove it because I didn’t request their blessings.”

Sam came back into the room. “General Vidrine said he’ll call when they make a decision. He’ll talk with Maynard. He doesn’t feel there’s going to be an immediate reaction; it’ll build as word gets around. He wants to see which way the public wind is blowing before deciding on a course of action.”

Jack went into the living room and turned on the TV, turning the channel to a news station. It took him a while to find it; Daniel had the satellite programmed to all the history channels.

“Hey,” Daniel said softly in the other room. He took Sam’s hand. “Make love to him today,” he requested. “You need to reclaim him. It’s part of the ritual. Just love him, Sam, let him know how beautiful you find him. Give him a little time; he came four times in four hours. I’d be surprised if he gets anything up at the moment. I don’t think I could get anything up at the moment. In fact, why don’t you take him home and have a quiet day to yourselves. Go hiking or something.”

“Daniel!”

Daniel sighed and stood, walking into the living room. Jack pointed.

“How is he doing that?” Jack was pointing to the large red bird that sat on the back of a dining room chair.

“You didn’t let him in?” Daniel asked.

“Of course not,” Jack insisted. “I was finding the news, I turned around, and there he was.”

Daniel looked at the bird. “Zu, how do you do that?” Zu snickered at him.

Jack glared at the bird. “We have rules in our house,” he informed the bird, ignoring the fact that it was Daniel’s house. “What’s done in our house, what’s said in our house, stays in our house. That means you do not go informing the entire world about our sex lives. Especially my ex-wife and my niece. You talk to us only. Got it?”

A splat hit the chair seat.

Sam got Jack to dress and he followed her home in his truck. He kissed Daniel long and sweet before leaving. Once more, Daniel refused to spend the day with them; he wanted to get some work done. He would be over for dinner, though. Zu stayed with Daniel, chattering away in Sumerian. Daniel couldn’t believe some of the outrageous stuff the bird came up with.

Not having had any sleep, Jack collapsed onto the bed when they got home. Sam tucked him in and kissed his head. She checked in with the Yard and was told that they were stepping up security. She wasn’t needed at the moment; take her days off. A while later, she heard the toilet flush and she went into the bedroom. Jack looked at her and fell onto the bed, pulling the pillow over his head. Sam grinned at him and sat on the side of the bed, leaning over to nuzzle the back of his neck.

“Are we a happy camper?” she asked teasingly.

“We are a sore camper,” came the muffled response. Sam gave his tush a caress.

“Poor baby,” she pouted. She pushed his t-shirt up and kissed his back. “Is it a good sore?”

Jack turned over and put the pillow where it belonged. He was slightly flushed as he smiled at her. “It’s a very good sore,” he said. He patted his chest and she lay on top of him. He liked the feel of her weight covering him; it gave him a strange sense of security, of being cocooned by her. Jack held her for a while, running his hands lightly up and down her back as her feet played with his. “I never thought it was possible to be in love with two people at the same time,” he said quietly. “I’ve heard people say it before, and I never believed them. Whether this is right or wrong, I don’t know, but I do know what I’m feeling.”

“I know,” she said, touching his mouth with a finger. “I love him, too. I keep looking around, expecting to see him here. He belongs here, with us. I keep getting the feeling that he’s deliberately keeping a slight distance, and I’m not sure why.”

Jack thought about it. He hadn’t noticed it before, but now that Sam mentioned it, he could see it. Daniel was going out of his way to give them space. That was going to end, if Jack had any say in the matter.

Sam slid her long legs to the side and straddled Jack’s middle. She kissed him, taking her time with his mouth, the raspy feel of his unshaven cheeks pleasing and tickling her face. He tried to move and participate, but she held him down, taking her time as she kissed and licked his skin. She placed her mouth over the love-bite Daniel had placed on Jack’s chest and reinforced it with her own. Jack hissed when she moved her mouth just to the left and covered his nipple with her lips. She suckled and teased one nipple and then made her way to the other, nuzzling fur on the way. She loved the musky, clean scent of his chest, the masculinity of him infusing her with energy. She moved down his torso, playing with the line of hair on his belly. The dark blond line was a major turn on for her; it was an arrow that called out to her, “Follow me, follow me.” She followed it.

“What are you smiling about?” he asked huskily, staring up at her. She touched the inside of his thigh with a caressing finger.

“Daniel left his mark all over you,” she grinned. Jack sat up on his elbows and looked down. She lifted his leg and he could see another purple bruise. He hadn’t even noticed it when he took his shower.

“Probably a good thing I don’t have to report in for a physical,” he said. Sam lifted his leg higher, looking below. She bit her lip, her blue eyes dancing with light. “What?” She turned him over onto his stomach and licked the sweet crease below his butt, at the top of his thigh.

“Another one right there,” she informed him. Jack groaned, silently swearing to kill their partner.

Sam straddled his butt and laughed lightly into his ear, licking and suckling at the lobe. “Now you know how I feel when he goes completely oral on me,” she teased him.

“After watching him eat his way through the commissary for eight years, we should have guessed that one,” Jack said in amusement. Sam nibbled his neck. She lifted his arms above his head and played with the pit hair as she licked down his back. He twitched slightly when she ran her hands down his sides. He heard a low snicker and was about to call foul on the tickling when he felt her rub against his butt.

“God, baby, that feels incredible,” he groaned. He’d swear she gave a low growl as she sank her teeth into his back. Something primal grew in him and he gripped the sheets in his fists, threatening to tear them as he held on. He already owed Daniel a sheet.

“Turn over,” she whispered. Jack turned carefully between her legs and she lowered herself onto him. He held her hips steady and let her take what she wanted, take him as she wanted. It occurred to him what she was doing –she was claiming her property. It wasn’t a Jack kind of thing to do, bottom to other people, but there he was, less than twenty-four hours and he was taken by both his partners. He had surrendered to them both and he had never felt so strong for it.

She lifted her head to kiss him, brushing her lips with hers as they caught their breath together. She held his face between her hands.

“Mine,” she stated in a husky whisper. “No one will ever again take what is mine.”

Jack shuddered and held her tight.

***

He counted five hickies by the time evening rolled around. It was a VERY good thing he had no physicals to go in for. The little internet issue was on the news and the phone began to ring. Jack turned it off. After talking with Sam, Jack decided to fly Katie home and out of the way of the immediate community. He was in enough trouble with her parents; he didn’t want her in the middle of what was coming up. He let Daniel in on the plans when he came over for dinner.

“And you’re coming with me, Danny,” Jack warned him.

“Me? Why?” Daniel stared blankly at him.

“Because you are part of this family,” Jack told him. “And I’d like you at my side. Unless you object, I want the entire world to know that the three of us are together, and we start with my family. You wanted hand-holding, you’re going to get hand-holding.”

Jack was getting dressed for going out to dinner as they talked. Daniel stopped him and looked at the bruises on Jack’s back and chest. He lifted an eyebrow.

“You started it,” Jack said, flushing. Sam had been thorough in her claiming of him. “You put a hicky on my ass, Danny.”

“It’s a cute ass, Jack,” he was informed. “It’s an ass worthy of a hicky.”

“You’re an ass.”

“And mine’s worthy of a hicky, too.” Daniel snuck in for a kiss, smiling at Jack.

“I’m exhausted, Daniel,” Jack whined. “I came six times since two a.m. I can’t remember the last time it was more than three in twenty-four hours. You two are wearing me out. I think my dick is broken.”

Daniel chuckled. “We’ll check the plumbing later,” he promised Jack, giving the front of Jack’s pants a light caress. Jack swatted him away and told him about Sam’s animal side emerging. Daniel nodded and smiled.

“Good,” he said. “I knew she had it in her.”

They found Sam on her cell phone talking to Major Davis. Seeing the men were ready, she exited from the call.

“Davis said things are heating up at the Pentagon,” she said. “He was told to prepare for a “Special Announcement from the White House. Sometime this week.”

“We’ll be ready,” Jack said. “I called the air field, there’s a transport heading out first thing in the morning and they do have room for four. I already called Sara and told her we’d be picking Katie up on our way.”

Zu, mind the house!” Jack called out as they left. The bird squawked something at them.

“He wants us to bring back a piece of chicken,” Daniel translated. “Preferably the leg.”

Walking into the restaurant, Daniel walked a few steps away from Jack and Sam. He took the seat further away from the other two at their table, practically sitting across from them instead of an even third. Jack didn’t say anything. They put up with high-fives from other patrons, and fielded someone in the parking lot with aluminum on his head.

“To keep the aliens from reading my mind,” the man informed them. The three agreed that it was a good idea.

Once they were home, and presented Zu with his chicken leg, Jack turned to Daniel.

“Danny, it’s game time,” he informed the younger man. Daniel looked blankly at him. “Q&A, twenty questions, truth or dare, whatever you want to call it, I have a few questions. You made Sam talk, I’m making you talk. Honey. Strip and have a seat.”

Jack pushed the coffee table out of the way and pointed to the floor.

“What? Jack, you know all you have to do is ask,” Daniel said, confused. Jack shook his head. Daniel noticed Sam standing by, her arms crossed and that no-nonsense look on her face. Something was up; Jack was in Big Daddy mode and Daniel didn’t remember doing anything to deserve it.

“Humor me,” Jack requested. Daniel’s eyebrows flew around, seeming to have a mind of their own, but he complied and dropped his clothes. Jack sat down and patted the floor between his legs as Sam sat on the chair. Daniel took the seat and leaned back into Jack’s chest. Jack carefully removed Daniel’s glasses and handed them to Sam. He raised his knees and Daniel placed his hands on them.

“Good,” Jack said, his breath tickling brown hair. His arms hung limp over Daniel’s shoulders.

“I’ll tell you what this is about,” Jack said. “We noticed something today. You’ve been deliberately keeping a distance from us. I thought about it, wondering if I was imagining it, but I don’t believe so. Looking back, you always seem to be on the outside looking in, and I’m curious as to why. No.” Daniel tried to get up and Jack clamped his arms around Daniel’s chest.

“Jack, you….”

“I’m not done,” Jack interrupted him. “Your game rules, Danny.” The hands never left Jack’s knees. Daniel hesitated and then sat back, again. “Thank you. Tell me what you’ve been doing.”

Daniel huffed for a moment. “Jack, I’ve had a lot of work lately, that’s all.”

“Bullshit,” Jack informed him. “You always manage to find an excuse to NOT spend quiet time with us. I’m a little confused; this is the Truth seat, Daniel, so do you want this togetherness or don’t you?”

“Yes, of course, I do,” Daniel said, shutting his eyes and leaning his head against Jack’s shoulder.

[Jack] “Then tell me why we’re not getting YOU.”

[Daniel] “This is me, Jack, I’m a bookworm, and I always have been.”

[Jack] “Why?”

[Daniel] “Why what?”

[Jack] “I like to read, too, Daniel, but I know when to put a book down and join the living….. Ah, I see. Books don’t betray us and history is already set in stone.”

Jack held on tight as Daniel struggled. The hands never left his knees, though. Jack gently shushed him. Eventually Daniel settled down.

[Jack] “Daniel, part of being in a formal relationship is that we are responsible to each other. I failed Sara in that, and I don’t intend on failing anyone else again. I should have opened up with her and I should have been open for her. Sam opened to you, as did I. You haven’t opened to us. If you aren’t ready, that’s fine, but we are here for you as much as you are here for us. The dark brown roots may grow out blond, or they used to, but don’t think the jokes go with it. Do you love us?”

[Daniel] Taking a hard swallow. “Yes.”

[Jack] “Do you trust us?”

[Daniel] …..”Yes.”

[Jack] “You hesitated. Why?”

[Daniel] “Jack, I trust you.”

[Jack] “No, you hesitated; what were you thinking about?”

[Daniel] “I…. I keep wondering…when the other shoe is going to drop.”

[Jack] “What other shoe?”

[Daniel] “The one that tells me to leave or to get out of the way or mind my own business.”

[Jack] “What….Daniel, I’m not understanding.”

[Daniel] “I….I don’t know how…to do this. I’m going to mess things up.”

[Jack] “Ignoring the fact that we all fuck up once in a while, what is it that you don’t know how to do?”

[Daniel] “Be in a formal relationship. I’ve never had one, so I don’t know what to do.”

[Jack] “What do you mean, you’ve never had one? You stayed on Abydos for Sha’re, you risked life and limb for her, what do you call that?”

[Daniel] “I was her teacher, Jack. I was her first lover. She was sixteen, according to our clock, did you know that? Half the time, I felt like her father. She had never even been kissed before I kissed her. She was an adult according to their rules, marriageable, but I was still almost twice her age. That’s a parent’s relationship with a child; I don’t know what to do with US.”

Jack thought about it, looking at Sam from behind Daniel.

[Jack] “You’ve never even been engaged before?”

[Daniel] “No.”

[Jack] “Dating?”

[Daniel] “Just dating. Casual.”

[Jack] “Lovers?”

[Daniel] “Just lovers.”

[Jack] “What about your Sarah?”

[Daniel] “I messed that one up, too. I cared for her, very much, but work came first.”

[Jack] “What about your foster parents? You must have learned something from them?”

[Daniel] “I learned how to keep quiet with books. Books kept me out of the way.”

Jack held him, pressing his mouth to Daniel’s neck as he thought.

[Jack] “Did they hurt you?”

[Daniel] “No, they did the best they could, I think, but they didn’t know what to do with an eight-year old who wanted to go on digs in North Africa to find his parents. My foster sibs went overboard in the Mummy jokes. They bought me books on ancient history and showed me where the library was. It kept me quiet and out of their hair.”

[Jack] “Daniel, listen to me. They did you a great disservice. By keeping you out of their hair, they didn’t teach you how to socialize with others. They didn’t teach you how to be in adult relationships. I don’t want you out of my hair. Even if Sam and I are arguing about something, your place is with us. If you want to close your ears to it and leave the room, that’s your prerogative, but don’t do it just because you think you may be in the way. There is no conversation that we can have, however loud, or affectionate, that you are not welcomed to hear or participate in. If I’m being an ass, tell me I’m being an ass. If we are sitting quietly and talking, or just holding each other, you are welcome to be with us. It is your right, as part of US, to get close and BE with us. You said you wanted the arguments and the hand-holding and the whole nine yards, but you’ve been holding yourself away from it. It confuses me because it makes me think that you don’t want this. I… we want this very much. I’m happy with us, Danny, I want you to be happy, too, but I don’t know how to make this real for you. Tell me how to get through to you.”

Daniel was silent, his eyes closed as his head lay on Jack’s shoulder, his deep, soft voice in Daniel’s ear.

[Daniel] “Do you know what I miss most about my parents?”

[Jack] “No, what?”

[Daniel] “Being held. My parents were always touching me, stroking my hair, kissing me. They loved me and I knew it. That father in you is what first got to me; you were physical with me, even if I did find it slightly annoying. I never realized how parent-starved I was before you started petting me. Don’t worry, I’m not confusing my father with my lover. Sam was never my mother, but she was my big sister. I love spending time with her, -with you, I mean, Sam. I like snuggling in for a movie and holding you on a camp-out. You even know when to show up with chocolate. And as much as I bitch about it, I even like it when you add and delete from my closet. Most of my wardrobe is updated because of you, and you have very good taste in clothes. The queen in me keeps trying to come out when I’m with you. I’m surprised you never noticed.”

[Jack] “As my shrink would say, you’re deflecting. Daniel, I don’t mean to bring up a bad memory, but I remember the Game Keeper. I remember you were put in the memory of your parents trying to send you away from them in the museum. Did they spend a lot of time pushing you away?”

[Daniel] “No, they didn’t. Those were very heavy rocks that were being positioned. They sent me away for the very reason they died; the rocks slipped. If they hadn’t sent me away, I would have been under the rocks with them. And I wasn’t deflecting, I was digressing. Jack, I need physical contact. Lots of it. How long are you going to put up with it before you push me away?”

[Jack] “That isn’t a fair question, Danny. We all need space just as much as we need contact. I’ll do my best not to be self-centered, more than usual, anyway, but at the same time, you need to learn when to give the space and not take it personally. Yes, I will snap sometimes. I’ll try not to, but it happens. When I was growing up, I had cousins running in and out of our house all the time. I may be on the outs with most of them at the moment, but this is an Irish Catholic family; there are lots of kids and we all lived in the same area. You don’t have that kind of experience to fall back on. I got used to having someone around all the time, and, yet, I also had my own space. I could hang a Go Away sign on my bedroom door, and people would go away without taking offense. When I did want to be around people, they were there. Why do you think I was always inviting you guys out here for fishing? Sounds to me like your fosters gave you only one option. Give this some time, Danny; don’t run and bury your head in a book at the first inkling of irritation. You’re not afraid to speak your mind with me, you never were, so don’t start now just because we’re sleeping together. If you feel I’m being distant, just tell me. I’ll tell you what I would like: I’d like it if you didn’t distance yourself when we go out. If you’re uncomfortable with public stuff, tell me, but I’d rather you didn’t sit halfway across the restaurant. I don’t give a flying fuck what people think, Daniel, I never have and I never will.”

[Daniel] “What if I do?”

[Jack] “Do what?”

[Daniel] “Give a flying fuck. Jack, like it or not, you have a reputation that you need to uphold. Sam is still held libel for not only her professional life, but also her private life. I’ve never been in the closet, you guys just never noticed. All my academic workmates know about me and no one cared mainly because we are all weird to begin with. This is out, Jack, I don’t doubt that, we haven’t exactly been secret, but I’d still like to avoid anything unsavory being said about you or Sam. Especially Sam; she has a hard enough time in this man’s military, the last thing she needs is to be seen as a slut and have her record questioned. Do you know how I see myself in this? Really think of myself?”

[Jack] “No, how?”

[Daniel] “I’m bringing this out of game.”

Daniel took his hands from Jack’s knees and half turned between his legs to look at Jack.

“I think of myself as your consort,” he told Jack. “I am second consort to Sam. Don’t argue with me about this, Jack, it’s a place I’m comfortable in. I’m not an alpha, not like you. I can lead, I can Top when I need to, and I quite often get off on it, but ultimately my heart is the heart of a consort. In my mind, your place is next to Sam, and mine is standing behind the both of you. If you want me to be more front and center, I need to hear it. I don’t know how to be an equal partner because it isn’t part of who I am.”

Sam slid off the chair and sat with them. She took Daniel’s hand, looking intently at him. “Are you saying you think you are less than us?”

“No,” Daniel said, shaking his head emphatically. “Sam, does everyone in the military have what it takes to be a general?”

Sam shook her head. “No, the higher the rank, the more of a certain type of character the person needs. Not everyone has that character, even though they are good people.”

“Right,” Daniel said. “I am not general material and admitting it doesn’t make me any less of a good person nor am I making less of myself; I am being honest with who I am. I will always place your marriage first. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my needs with you or with Jack, it doesn’t mean I won’t be disappointed if a date gets canceled. I have feelings, too. I would love to walk into a restaurant holding your hand or Jack’s hand, but that might place your marriage into a secondary position, and I won’t do that.”

Sam frowned as she listened and thought. “I almost feel as though we’re speaking two different languages,” she finally said. “So I’m going to spell this out as I see it. I want one big, king-sized bed. For all three of us 24/7/365. Daniel, I appreciate you caring about my career but at the moment, the only reason I’m still there is because you guys insisted. Jack, you offered to build an addition to the house, and if it can be done, I would like it. An office for me and one for Daniel. Large enough to hold our projects and a small seating area with a fold-out couch. That way, if one of us feels like being alone, we can.

“I would like for us to not end a day with things left unsaid. I don’t want someone not in bed just because of an argument. I do like this idea of being naked with the truth, so I’d like to keep it. I lived in a home for too long with people who didn’t talk to each other, and I don’t want it here, too.

“Since I’m going to be in Nevada quite a bit of the time, I’d like to know that you two are bonding well. Jack, you and I are fairly quiet people and we can go an entire day without feeling the need to chatter. Daniel likes to talk. If he needs to learn when to back off, you need to learn when to be receptive. His studies excite him and he needs to share. Our neighbors are going to know something is up when he officially moves in. They will really know something is up if he decides to jump you on the dock, which I wouldn’t put past him. So I would suggest being open with the neighbors right from the start. Daniel, how do you want to be introduced?”

The men were looking at her in surprise as she spelled out the facts.

“Uh, as your consort,” Daniel said. “We’re already the alien guys from the Mountain; I don’t think introducing me as your consort is going to cause any more eyes to blink faster than they already are.”

Jack looked at him, uncertainty dripping from him. “Mr. and Mrs. Neighbor, this is our consort, Daniel?”

“Would you rather introduce me as Daniel your lover, Daniel your boyfriend, or Daniel your husband? Daniel your partner works, too.”

Jack twitched. “Okay, I may be able to get used to consort and partner,” he acknowledged.

“You may not realize this, Jack, but Colorado is a kinky state, not just a conservative Christian state,” Daniel informed him with amusement. “Between the BDSM people and the poly crowd, not too many people will blink at a married couple who have a consort. Do a web search for BDSM Colorado or polyamory Colorado. You’ll be surprised.”

Jack smiled and pet Daniel’s hair. “Are we okay now?” he asked. “No more distancing yourself?”

Daniel leaned in and kissed him. “The next time I feel I may be getting in the way, I will try and remember to stop myself and make you aware and ask for clarification of the situation.”

Jack chuckled and took Daniel by the ears to shake his head. “There’s our Danny.”

After doing nothing more than sleeping in a pile, softly stroking and kissing each other in calming reassurance, they awoke in the morning and prepared for the coming events. Knowing Sara would be questioning him, Jack left early to pick up Katie. He and Sara took a long walk and he told her everything. He knew it had been rough on her, not knowing what he had been up to and that he couldn’t tell her during their marriage why he had been gone so much. All she could be told was that it was military and national security. Now that the cat was out of the bag, he told her about the aliens, about how Daniel became important to him, and about the scene Zu showed her. He wouldn’t acknowledge the Stargate, yet; the geeks had actually kept that secret to themselves. At least they had some sense of propriety. That was a can of worms Jack wasn’t ready to deal with. As far as the public was aware, Cheyenne Mountain was working with alien technology for weapons and aircraft, and had succeeded in gaining alien allies over the past eight years. It was purely by chance that two alien aircraft decided to slide into Colorado for their little tiff.

Later in the day, they landed in Minnesota. Upon boarding the transport, someone shouted and the men all jumped to their feet and offered salute. Jack paused, not expecting it, and returned their honors. He waved them down and was serenaded with the Air Force theme song. He passed out a lot of handshakes before the flight was over. The army transport had been loud, and their ears were ringing when they got off the plane. Jack rented a car and drove them out to his home town to find a hotel room before descending on the family. Daniel wasn’t sure about his being there, but he spoke up and Jack told him he could find something to do if he wanted to; as far as Jack was concerned, Daniel had every right to be there, just as much as Sam did.

Katie had impudently begun to call him Uncle Daniel and insisted that he meet the family. She was entertained by the notion of introducing Uncle Jack’s boyfriend to her parents. Daniel could see why Katie’s parents may have a small problem with the miniature, feminine version of Jack, especially after she had just spent a month playing with alien children, helping to nurse large, two-footed felines, and talking back to an alien bird that does nothing except talk back. The adults were thankful that Katie didn’t understand Sumerian, or they’d be answering for her new language problem, too. Not even Daniel was willing to translate some of Zu’s more colorful phrases. They left Zu home with orders to watch the house. Jack wasn’t angry enough with his family to subject them to Zu. Although the way Zu tended to simply disappear and reappear, he wasn’t too sure the bird would obey and stay home. Sam had stopped trying to work out the physics of Zu’s apparent abilities.

Jack called his parents to let them know he was in town and promised to play nice. He had already warned Sam and Daniel that all hell may be breaking loose by the end of the day. Sam double checked the luggage to make sure Jack hadn’t brought a zat.

The cities were strange lately. Extremes of all kinds of behaviors were rampant. Daniel gave them a long lecture on the psychological state of the typical person after discovering that the Earth wasn’t alone in the universe. All law enforcement officials were on heavy duty rotation with crime being up, as well as depression and the suicide rate. Spirituality was in an upheaval, which Daniel felt impatience over; he understood the politics behind religion, but the appearance of aliens shouldn’t negate the ethics and morals that were taught by the different religions.

They got to Katie’s house and once more made her promise to say nothing about Zu and his activities on the innocent minds of children. Katie zipped her lips and tossed the key, declaring it icky anyway. Her house was in a nice, suburban neighborhood, with perfectly manicured lawns, houses with two-car garages, children playing outside, and barking dogs. A front door opened and Katie was suddenly swept up in the arms of a crying woman. A man came out and Jack handed him Katie’s bags as he looked over Sam and Daniel. Dressed in his geeky best, Daniel was dismissed as a non-entity.

“She’s fine, Andrew,” Jack said. “She was never in danger.” Because she wasn’t even on the planet during the air battle, but they weren’t going to tell that to the parents….

“Jack, you want to tell us about what’s been on the news lately?” Andrew asked. “Besides your little light show?”

“Actually, no, Andrew, I don’t,” Jack said. “When the Pentagon tells me I can discuss it, I’ll let you know.”

Sam and Daniel didn’t like Andrew. It was contempt at first sight. Katie sniffled and turned to introduce her new Aunt Sam and Uncle Daniel.

“Are you telling us THAT rumor is true, too?” Andrew asked in disbelief.

“What rumor?” Jack asked, honestly not having heard a rumor.

“That you and your new wife are…consorting…with this man?”

Jack turned and looked at them. “Daniel, you hit that one dead on. Consorting –consort…very nice. Yes, Andrew, it’s true; Daniel is our partner. Get over it, it isn’t your business.”

“I like Daniel, Daddy,” Katie informed him. “He’s nice and he took good care of me when Uncle Jack and the aliens were fighting.”

“Go to your room, Katherine Anne,” her father pointed at the house. Katie burst into humiliated tears and ran into the house. Jack shook his head.

“You’ll never learn, will you, Andrew? Lay one finger on her, and I’ll have you up on charges,” Jack promised him.

“Uncle Jack!” Megan protested. She had the slim build and light hair that reminded them of Jack.

“Megan, we’re staying at the Piermont for a few days. We’ll be at Mom and Dad’s for dinner tonight. I would like to say hi to the boys before we leave.”

They got back into the car and left. Jack drove with one hand while dialing his cell phone.

“Wow, Jack,” Daniel muttered. Jack gave him a noise of agreement.

“Michael. Mom called you?” Jack said into the phone. “We’re staying at the Piermont. Don’t start with me. A better place for you to start would be at Megan’s. I don’t trust Andrew not to beat the shit out of his daughter. Michael, if there is one mark on her, I’ll have all three kids taken out of that house. The private number of President of the United States is on my speed dial, do you understand? Good.”

He hung up and let out a noisy breath.

“Jack,” Sam began.

“I know, baby,” he said. “I know he’s under a lot of stress, just like everyone else but, unfortunately, I’ve never trusted Andrew. He’s gotten worse, the older he gets.”

“Has he hit the kids before?” Sam asked quietly.

“Don’t know,” Jack said. “Neither Meg nor the kids have ever said anything. I bathed the kids when they were younger and didn’t notice any marks on them. Other than the usual kid scrapes. The mood he’s in, though, I wouldn’t put it past him.”

“Will Katie know to call if there’s a problem?” Daniel asked.

“She had the sense to cross the country to find me,” Jack reminded him. Daniel nodded. “Although I wish she would have called, instead. I take it I’m not imagining it? Andrew is hostile?”

They both nodded. “Looked explosive to me,” Sam said.

“Actually, his response seemed out of proportion to the situation,” Daniel said. “Granted, he was probably scared when she ran away, but he didn’t seem the least bit relieved at her return. He barely looked at Katie; he seemed more interested in expressing his disapproval over you. If my kid was returned to me, I’d be hugging her and promising to be a better Dad.”

Jack glanced at him and then back to the traffic. “Danny, you’re kid wouldn’t have run in the first place.”

They got to the hotel and checked into their suite, taking showers and naps before heading over to Jack’s parents' house for dinner. Daniel was a little worried about meeting the parents. He had met them briefly at Jack and Sam’s wedding, but that was as a friend, not their son’s male lover.

“Don’t worry about them,” Jack assured him on the drive over. “Believe me, my folks are a lot more down to earth than Michael’s tree branch. They’re both in their eighties and they act like teenagers.”

“Did you already tell them about us?” Daniel asked.

“Yes, I did,” Jack confirmed with a nod. “Dad asked me if I were a pod person and Mom wanted to know if you were a good kisser. I told her yes, but she needed to get her own boyfriend, no kissing on mine.”

Sam laughed and gave Daniel’s red face a stroke.

“Kiss him.” Not minutes after Daniel was introduced again, but in a different context, Jack’s mother looked them up and down, folded her arms, and snorted.

“What?” Jack looked at her.

“I won’t believe it until I see it,” Margaret O’Neill informed him. “Kiss him.”

“Mom, you have got to be kidding,” he protested, flushing. “Dad, can’t you do something about your wife?”

Tom O’Neill blew his cigarette smoke off the porch and away from the screen door. “When, in the past sixty-three years, have I ever had a say in what your mother does?”

“Jack, if you don’t want to kiss me in front of your parents, I understand,” Daniel said. “Maybe your Mom would settle for a description of that hicky I put on your….mphf…” He was silenced with Jack’s mouth. Jack was flushed when he stepped back. Sam wasn’t helping, sitting on the porch swing and snickering at them.

“Where did you say that hicky was?” Maggie asked Daniel.

“Which one?”

“Daniel!”

The new son was taken into the house and shown the cookie jar. Jack took the cigarette out of his father’s hand, took a long drag, and handed it back before heading into the house. His lungs protested the smoke, not having had any for almost nine years, but the chemical rush made him feel better prepared for this encounter.

“I’m not kissing you until you brush,” Sam informed him, following him into the house.

Daniel had been settled at the kitchen table with a plate of cookies and a large glass of milk. Sam took a cookie, dunked it in his milk, and sat in on the feast. The house smelled of the pot roast that was currently sizzling in the oven.

“You been kissin’ on that one, too?” Maggie asked her, wiping her hands on a towel and nodding toward Daniel.

“Yes, ma’am,” Sam said with a grin. She had gotten to like Jack’s parents while they were visiting for the wedding. His mother made Sam feel welcome, although she did make a few cradle-robbing comments.

“Don’t blame you there,” Maggie said. “Both of them so good looking, I don’t know that I’d be able to decide between them.”

“Mom!” Jack hung his head and fell into a chair. Sam laughed.

“Oh, believe me, there are nights I don’t bother with trying to decide,” Sam informed her.

“HA!” Maggie handed her a plate of her own cookies.

“I knew this was a mistake,” Jack informed the table under his nose.

“Well, Jonathan, I expected this during the late sixty’s, not thirty-five years later,” his mother said, giving his hair a stroke as she walked by. “Your mid-life crisis has taken an interesting turn, fighting aliens and having a three-some with another man.”

Jack’s head shot up. “This isn’t a mid-life crisis!” he protested.

“You know you won’t win, son, so let her have her way,” Tom told him as he walked into the kitchen and sat next to Jack.

“Men become strange when they hit forty-five to fifty,” Maggie advised Sam. “Tom’s mid-life crisis consisted of fox hunting. Still haven’t figured out where that one came from. Thankfully, it didn’t last long.”

Jack took an envelope out of his jacket pocket and held it up.

“What’s this?” Maggie asked.

“Something else for you to rag on me about,” he told her. “I figured we’d get it all out in one shot.”

Maggie looked at the pictures that fell out and she sat heavily into a chair.

“Oh, my,” she breathed. She passed them, one by one, to her husband. “Jack, when…?”

“He showed up a couple years ago, Mom,” Jack said gently. At least he had gotten her attention. “I didn’t know about him. He’s starting to come around to the idea of meeting relatives. He’s a big boy, so I left the decision to him. He’s also Jonathan, but he prefers Nate.” Sam and Daniel looked at Jack, not having expected this.

“Who’s his mother?” Maggie asked, tearing up.

“Doesn’t matter,” Jack said with a shrug. “Just a one-time thing. She isn’t in his life, hasn’t been for a long time. I think he’s a little skittish about all this, he’s been on his own for quite a while.”

“Where is he now?” Tom asked, his hands slightly shaking as he looked through the pictures.

“In Colorado Springs,” Jack said. “He lives with his girlfriend, a very nice young lady that we’ve known for a long time. Cassandra. There, that’s her,” he fingered one of the pictures.

“Why didn’t you tell us?” Maggie asked, wiping at her cheek. Jack reached out and took her hand.

“Because he wasn’t ready for a family,” Jack said. “I didn’t want to get your hopes up only to tell you that he didn’t want to meet anyone. He doesn’t look to me as his father; I’m just a guy who happens to share his DNA. He and I are still getting acquainted. He just got out of high school and will be starting college in the fall. He’s very independent, he lived on his own the entire time, took care of himself. I signed his emancipation papers, and not much else. You can ask Katie about him, she spent some time with him during our little situation a few weeks ago. I had them both stay on base. I gotta tell you, Mom, Dad, after what I witnessed at Megs this afternoon, I’m not sure I want to subject him to this family.”

Jack sat back and told them the situation from the moment Katie showed up at his house until they took her home earlier in the day. It got their minds off Jack’s love-life.

“What is going on over there?” Jack insisted on knowing, tossing a thumb in the general direction of outdoors. “I don’t usually deal in vibes, but I’m ready to pull those kids out of there based on nothing more than the creep factor I’m getting.”

His parents looked at each other. “We’re not sure what’s going on,” Tom admitted. “We know Katie’s been stressed, and the boys aren’t their usual sparky selves. Katie was caught with pot last year. Now, don’t go off, Jack, Megan made us swear not to tell you. Katie promised not to do it again, and as far as we know, she’s kept her promise. If it continued, we would have called you. Matthew’s been throwing his temper around, and Davy doesn’t talk much about anything.”

Jack scrubbed his face, taking a deep breath. “We were never able to get Davy to shut up,” he said. His parents nodded. “I want to talk to the boys. Alone. Sam, Katie didn’t say anything that would ring bells, did she?”

“No,” Sam shook her head. “She didn’t talk about her family much.” Daniel also denied hearing anything from the girl.

Jack nodded and took his cell phone out, walking out into the back yard. He dialed Sara first and then Nate and Cassie, asking them all if Katie had said anything.

“She said something about not being allowed to breathe,” Nate commented. “I tried to get her to elaborate, but she wouldn’t. Said Andrew was always yelling at them about one thing or another. Matty got a B on something, algebra, I think it was, and Andrew apparently told him to keep his mind out of his pants and on his school work. Said it in front of others and humiliated the kid.”

Jack frowned and thanked him. “I outted you,” Jack told him, changing the subject. “Mom and Dad would like to see you, if you want to.”

Nate sighed, puffing into the phone. “How do you feel about it?” he asked Jack.

“I wouldn’t have said anything to them, if I wasn’t alright with it. Family is important to us; I’d be missing the hell out of them, if I had gone for years not seeing or hearing from them.”

“They’re your parents, Jack,” Nate said. “I don’t have that right to them. I can settle into the grandson routine, but can you deal with that relationship? Everyone is going to be looking at you as my father, with those expectations.”

“They’ll get over those expectations. You take care of your relationship with the parents, and you and I can start spending time getting to know each other,” Jack said. “I know, we already know each other, but I’ve noticed a few things diverging and I’d be interested in hearing about them.”

Jack heard his own voice chuckle at the other end of the line. “Diverging? Jack, I’m not the one sleeping with a guy.”

Jack chuckled. “Mom’s decided he’s my mid-life crisis. She wanted some kind of proof, so she made me kiss him. Sneaky bastard threatened to tell her about the hickey he put on my ass, so I kissed him. She’s currently plying Daniel with milk and cookies.”

“You should have known,” Nate taunted him. “There’s horns under that halo. On your ass, huh? Are you alright?” Jack knew what Nate was asking.

“I am now,” he said. “It was rough, but I’m glad it happened. I’ll go into details with you later, if you’d like. This is probably something you and I should be talking about, anyway.”

“We can if you’d like,” Nate said. “I’m fine, though. It was one of the first things I labeled as Jack-crap and chucked out.”

Jack doubted it, but acknowledged it. He took a deep breath, and went back into the house, handing the phone to his mother.

“Say hi, Mom,” he said. She teared up and took the phone in trembling hands, walking into the living room with it. Tom followed her.

Jack sat back into a chair and breathed. Sam took his hand.

“It’s the right thing to do,” she told him.

“It’s weird, Sam.”

“Tell me,” she said. “How many times have I looked at myself standing in front of me?” Knowing there was a clone of her out in the universe still gave her the willies. And whereas Jack’s clone was a nice kid, her’s was an evil twin.

Jack put her hand to his mouth. “Point.” He told them what Nate had said of his own conversations with Katie.

“I’m smelling psychosis, here,” Daniel said, looking toward the cookie jar. “Why don’t you call your shrink and get some professional input?”

“I haven’t called him in about two months,” Jack admitted. “I’ll call him after I talk with the boys.”

It was a while before Jack’s parents returned his cell phone. Maggie made herself busy with dinner while her mind was filled with the sound of her new grandchild’s voice. Sam offered to help; Jack and Daniel stopped her.

“We let Sam fix the cars,” Jack told his mother. “Daniel is the kitchen elf. He’s better than any world class chef. Get him to cook before we leave Thursday morning.”

Sam smiled and leaned back sideways into Jack’s chest. He laced his fingers with hers over her shoulder and kissed her neck.

“I’ve seen father and son lookalikes, but this one takes the cake, Jack,” Tom said, his voice a little gruff. “If I didn’t know better, I would have said that was you on the phone.”

“I know,” Jack nodded. “He called the house and Daniel started talking dirty to him.” Daniel threw a towel at him.

“Maggie, any baby Jack pictures sitting around?” Daniel asked her. She twinkled at him and promised to dig them out for dessert.

“Not!” Jack protested.

“Yeah, I want to see the hair color,” Sam put in.

“Blond, honey,” Maggie said. “Very light. It started growing in darker the older he got. Brown when he was a child. We didn’t know the blond was still in there until he let it go a little long. Looked like one of those surfer boys until the Air Force made him cut it.”

“Blond. Explains a lot, Jack,” Daniel said.

“Watch who you’re calling a blond,” Jack warned him, tugging on Sam’s golden locks.

“Sam’s an honorary brunette.”

Jack started to swear at him and stopped. “I can’t even swear at you anymore,” he complained. “You’d take it as an invitation.”

“Swear at me tonight,” Daniel invited him. “You know what words do to me.”

Maggie pushed into Daniel. “Ooooh, kinky. Tell me,” she encouraged him.

“Mother! Daniel, don’t you dare. Dad, I thought you were monitoring her internet access.”

“She broke through the password encryption; sorry, son.”

 


 

Chapter 8

 

In the morning, light filtered through the curtains, dancing along the muscles that were rippling across Daniel’s back. Jack had never found another man beautiful before, but Daniel was. Sam held him, watching his face, caressing his shoulders and arms as he began to relax. She kept her long legs wrapped lightly around him, running them up and down the backs of Daniel’s thighs as they looked at each other, brushing lips together. Jack knew that position; he found it encompassing to be wrapped in Sam’s legs, to feel them caressing his backside as he relaxed against her.

Daniel fell to the side, putting his arms around her as she turned to lay her head on his chest. Jack curled into her back, putting an arm across them. The three fell into a doze for another hour. Jack looked at the clock and seriously debated calling in sick, but then he remembered his mother never believed him and she would more than likely come knocking at their door to roust them. He woke up Sam and Daniel. They needed showers and breakfast.

Jack’s cell phone rang before they were halfway to the O’Neill home. He answered, listened, looked at Sam next to him, and hung up.

“That was Dad,” Jack said. “The kids are there and they’re refusing to go home.” He stepped up the speed.

There was a priest sitting in the living room talking with Katie when they got there. The resemblance between the man and Jack was plain to see even though the priest was a little huskier than Jack’s thin frame. Katie’s face was wet and pale as she was held by Maggie.

“What happened?” Jack asked, keeping his voice to a gentle demand for the girl’s sake. Katie jumped up at his voice and ran to him, wrapping her arms around his middle.

“Jonathan, come up here,” Tom said from the top of the stairs. Jack passed Katie to Sam and went up the stairs with Daniel right behind him. Jack followed his father into his old room. Both the boys were in there. An older boy lay on Jack’s bed, sniffling into the covers. The younger boy sat in a chair, his knees drawn up, and his face white. Tom sat on the side of the bed and patted the boy’s back.

“Lift up, son,” he said gently. “Show Uncle Jack.”

The boy lifted his hips and Tom pulled the sweat pants down slightly. There were purple welts crossing the boy’s butt. Daniel shut his eyes for a moment as Jack squatted down next to the bed and gave the light brown hair a stroke. The skin didn’t look broken, just badly bruised.

“Where is Megan?” Jack asked, glancing up at his father.

“Home. I told her to stay there until we get this straightened out.”

“Was David….?”

His father shook his head. Jack went to the younger boy and lifted him. Katie said he was ten; Daniel thought he looked more like eight. A small eight.

“Hi, David, do you remember me?” Jack gently asked the boy. “You were only five the last time I saw you.” The boy was silent, but he held on to Jack. “We’re going to fix this, son. This is my friend Daniel. I want you to sit with him while I talk with Matty, alright?”

Daniel sat in the chair and took the child from Jack, cradling the boy to him. Davy weighted next to nothing, a far cry from Daniel’s own ten year old husky self. Jack noted the thumb going into the mouth as Davy rested against Daniel’s chest. Tom patted his great-grandsons and went back downstairs. Jack leaned back against the head-board and stroked his nephew’s hair.

“What happened, Matt?” Jack asked quietly. “Whatever it is, you can tell me. You used to tell me everything, remember?”

Matthew seemed to be more relaxed upon hearing Jack’s voice and turned his face from the wall toward his uncle. He rested quietly, feeling wiped out from crying and fighting the pain on his rear end. He missed being able to talk to his uncle, resented the absence, but understood that it was his parents’ fault. He knew Uncle Jack had remarried, Katie teased them, saying that Uncle Jack had a boyfriend, Daniel. Daniel actually existed.

“Did you really get married?” Matthew asked, his voice husky. The hand on his hair felt comforting.

“Yes, I did,” Jack said. “Her name is Sam. Samantha. She’s downstairs with Katie and Nanna. She’d like to meet you. I’m sorry you couldn’t be at our wedding, it would have meant a lot to me for you to be there.”

Uncle Jack used to smell like cigarette smoke, but he didn’t anymore. “Was that real? On TV?”

“Very real.”

“Katie said she played with aliens.” Matthew obviously didn’t believe her.

“Yes, she did,” he was surprised to hear. “I made her stay on the base for safety. Some of the aliens were hurt so my doctors fixed them up before sending them home. Not all the aliens were bad guys. The good guys had their children with them, so while the adults were with the doctors, Katie helped to baby-sit the children.”

Matthew thought about that. “She also said you have another son.”

Jack didn’t look at Daniel’s raised eyebrow. “Yes, his name is Nate. Actually, it’s Jonathan, but he doesn’t like it. I didn’t know he was born until a couple of years ago. He’s eighteen. He wants to meet you. Throw some balls.”

That would be nice…. “Katie said you have a boyfriend.”

He heard his uncle chuckle and got his head ruffled. “Your sister has a big mouth. Yes, I do. That would be Daniel, sitting here with Davy. Are you alright with that?”

Shrug. “I guess so. It’s kinda weird. Your….Sam doesn’t mind?”

“No, she doesn’t, he’s her boyfriend, too. We’re all together. And you can call her Aunt Sam, if you want; Katie does. I think she’d like it.”

“Uncle Jack, can I live with you?”

The hand on his hair stilled for a moment. “Tell me why you were hit, Matty.”

Matthew plucked at the bedding, his heart pounding. He didn’t want to tell anyone. He remembered, though, that his uncle was always patient with his mistakes.

“I… I messed… my bed,” he whispered, humiliated. “I didn’t mean to. Dad said I didn’t obey him, so he hit me.”

Jack frowned. “Messed your bed how? Peed?”

Matthew buried his face in his arms and shook his head. Jack looked at Daniel and back to his nephew.

“Are you talking about semen, Matty?” He got a nod. Jack’s mind was whirling around the concept. “Matthew…. You’re fourteen, son, wet dreams are normal. I don’t understand what it was you were disobeying.”

“Dad told me to control it, that it was bad and I shouldn’t think about things that make me do that.”

Jack wasn’t the only one confused as he looked once more at Daniel.

“I don’t know what your father was thinking about with that one, but I think he may have a few facts mixed up. Turn over, please, so I can see you.” He waited until Matthew was lying on his side, a pillow wrapped in his arms. Without further ado, Jack gave him the 101 on male physiology and growing up. Daniel interrupted now and again, correcting Jack’s pronunciations and changing slang to official verbiage. Jack glanced over once in a while and noted that David was at least listening and seemed to be coming out of his shock.

“Now, your grandfather will tell you different about a few things, so it’s something you’ll need to make up your own mind about,” Jack said. “You are being raised Catholic, so there are a few rules like not touching yourself. I happen to think it’s normal, the Church thinks it’s bad. The wet dreams, though, are a scientific fact that even the Church accepts, so I’m not sure where your Dad is getting his information. You listen to your own heart on that matter. And I don’t want you to ever be afraid to talk about this with me. We can talk anytime you’d like. We can talk about you, girls, or boys. I know you’re a little confused about me and Daniel, so I don’t mind answering your questions about that. I may be a little embarrassed about it, but we can talk and I’ll do my best to answer you. Anything you want to talk about, email me, call me, whatever. Daniel doesn’t mind talking, either. In fact, Daniel loves to talk about everything. Will you promise to come to me if you have questions or when you just want to talk?”

Matthew nodded, a little flushed at the subject matter.

“David, you were listening, too, and you’re growing up too; did you understand what we were talking about?” Jack asked, looking at his youngest nephew. The boy gave a small nod. “Good, boy. You can ask me things, too.”

Jack ruffled hair. “Okay. Think you can come downstairs and meet your Aunt Sam?”

Matthew nodded, and winced as he stood. Jack held his anger in check and took David from Daniel. He hugged the boy and laid him down on the bed.

“I want you to take a nap,” he told the boy. “A little sleep will help you feel better.” David nodded and huddled down into the pillow as Jack took his sneakers off, pulled a blanket over him, and kissed his cheek. Daniel enjoyed watching Jack with kids; he was so different, more relaxed and open. He was a little curious as to why Jack was treating the boy as though he were several years younger.

“Hey,” Jack said, poking at Matthew’s head. He couldn’t believe how tall the boy was getting. “I thought hugs were part of being in this family?” Matthew smiled shyly and gave his uncle a hug. They trooped downstairs and the adults were all visibly relieved that Matthew was up and about.

“Honey, did you bring a camera?” Jack asked Sam. She nodded and went out to the car, back a moment later.

Matty, come into the guest bath for a minute,” Jack said, gesturing toward the hallway. “Dad, would you come with us?”

Jack took the boy in, got a couple of pictures of the purple stripes, and let him go. He sent Katie and Matthew outside and sat down, burying his face in his hands for a moment before telling the others of the conversation. Even Michael looked stunned.

“Jack, I…. That is so medieval, I don’t know where to begin,” Michael said, confusion reigning on his face. “I know their parish priest, and he certainly doesn’t advocate that kind of belief any more than I do. Wet dreams are a natural occurrence. Now, before you go hunting Andrew down, let me talk to him. Now that we know what’s going on….”

“I don’t think that’s it,” Daniel interrupted. Parents and older son looked at him, not expecting it. Daniel had been fairly quiet over the past couple of days, looking like nothing more than the pretty, but geeky, boyfriend. Neither Jack nor Sam had elaborated on Daniel. Jack didn’t react, having expected Daniel to speak up sooner or later. “Who actually wigged out over Katie’s abortion, Megan or Andrew?”

“Mostly Andrew,” Michael acknowledged.

Daniel stood and paced, arms crossed in thought. “Let me see if I have all the facts: Megan works part-time, during the day, and is home by the time the kids get home from school. She is the primary keeper of home and hearth. Andrew is in charge of the main work load, bills, and is the main disciplinarian. Average household. I am going to guess that the kids are kept in strict obedience and any deviation is quickly dealt with. Andrew has the last word in all things, and his temper quickly comes up when he is questioned, or when he perceives he is being questioned. All household decisions are made by him, including where money is spent. Megan gets an allowance for the house and is responsible for keeping track of where the allowance is spent. Her paycheck gets handed over to Andrew. Andrew is never wrong; he was either not understood correctly or someone else messed up. His reasoning is clear when he attempts to explain how you messed up and not him. Do I have that correct?”

The others were silent for a moment as they looked at him.

“The husband in charge of the household is typical,” Michael said carefully. Daniel nodded.

“Yes, he is, for the most part,” Daniel agreed. “I personally don’t agree with the concept, but male or female head of household, there’s a difference between leadership and autocracy.”

“What are you saying, Danny?” Jack asked.

“I’m saying that if I were you, I’d insist on a psych eval on the parents before allowing those children back into that home. What kind of stress must be going on if a ten year old boy is sucking his thumb instead of running around outside, climbing trees and getting into mischief? It didn’t even occur to him not to trust a stranger. He wasn’t mentally present when we first walked into that room. Look at this another way; you’ve seen me wigged out several times from trauma; did you for one minute think that I was up for a real world adventure?”

Jack studied him, thinking. He knew Daniel in this frame of mind; there were bells ringing, and when Jack ignored Daniel’s bells, things tended to go terribly wrong.

“Alright,” he said slowly. Sam nodded along with him.

“Wait,” Michael said, holding a hand up. “Look, Andrew may have gone a little overboard in the spanking, but a psych eval? You can’t be seriously considering this, Jack.”

“Overboard?” Jack questioned with a raised eyebrow. “Did you see your grandson’s ass?” Jack brought up the picture on the camera and handed it to Michael. The man blanched and handed it back. Jack showed his mother and she put a hand to her chest, clutching Tom’s hand. Sam took one look and handed it back. “That isn’t overboard, that’s abuse,” Jack informed his brother. “Those children are not going home until there’s a professional evaluation. And I don’t want Catholic Family Services to do it, I want an outside source.”

Jack picked up the phone and dialed. “Officer Nolan, please. Joe. Joey, it’s Jack. I’m at… please, not the Star Wars theme…I’m at Mom and Dad’s. Listen, we have a situation.”

As they waited for a cousin with a badge to show up, Michael looked restlessly at Jack.

“Jack…. Most of my older parishioners know who the general’s older brother is,” Michael said, frowning as he looked at his hands. “They’re looking to me for answers and I don’t know what to tell them.”

“Have you searched the internet lately?” Jack asked.

“Are you saying what’s been popping up is true?” Michael asked.

“I’m not confirming nor denying,” Jack said. “I will tell you that the air battle was real, the aliens were real, and we really do have allies that live on other planets, and yes, Katie really did play with alien children while she was on my base during the battle. Those are facts, all of which have been on TV. Except the part about Katie. As for your spirituality, you may want to talk with Daniel; he’s the PhD, here, not me.”

“Really?” Maggie asked, looking at the man she mistook for just a pretty face. “PhD in what?”

“Anthropology and archaeology, minors in linguistics and psych,” Daniel responded.

“I think that linguistics minor should be a third doctorate by now,” Colonel Doctor Carter commented. Daniel shrugged and agreed. Michael sat back, a stunned look on his face.

“You’re the Dr. Jackson on the internet,” he pieced together. “The sites are saying that you’re responsible for the peace treaties we have with the alien allies. I can’t believe I just spoke that sentence.”

Daniel was a little embarrassed as he confirmed it. “We all helped, it wasn’t just me,” he said. “Jack’s our team leader.”

“Daniel, my idea of gaining treaties is to lock arguing parties in a room until they can play nice,” Jack reminded him. “Without you, we would never have gained even one ally.”

“Come on, Jack, the Asgard named a ship after you, and the Jaffa rebels call you brother,” Daniel protested.

“The Asgard named a ship after you, too,” Jack reminded him. “After Sam blew up mine. I haven’t forgiven her, by the way, it was a pretty ship.” He glared at Sam and she snickered at him.

“A retroactive payback for suggesting that you’d like two of me,” she informed him.

“Yeah, Jack, one is plenty,” Daniel agreed. “Come on, she exhausts us both all by herself.”

“No, I think that’s you, Danny,” Jack said. “Four times in six hours, Danny. I’m an old man, you can’t be jumping me like that. Especially if Sam is going to take me twice more before lunch.” Sam laughed.

“Wait a minute!” Michael held up his hands, stopping their playful bickering. “Ships? Are we talking space ships? How did you blow up a space ship?” he asked Sam. He was ignoring the commentary between the men.

“I can’t tell you because I can’t actually confirm that I did so,” she was sorry to inform him.

Mikey, I’m sorry about all this, I really am,” Jack said, turning serious. He knew this was going to be a problem for his brother the priest. “We’ve keep this all a secret for almost nine years, and we would have continued to keep it quiet if those ships hadn’t brought their fight to our backyard. You think things are rough on your parish now? Wait until the president and the Pentagon finish deciding what they’re going to tell the world. This was the last thing I wanted to have happen. And believe me, I take the blame for it; that mothership came gunning for me, and the other ship was trying to protect us.”

“You? Why you?” Maggie asked, offended that someone would have the nerve to come after her baby.

“Let’s just say I tend to piss people off, Mom. Even off-world people.”

Daniel put a hand on Jack’s shoulder and gave him a squeeze.

“Did you see stories on the internet about aliens called System Lords and how they enslaved millions of people?” Daniel asked. His geeks did a pretty good job at disseminating the information before releasing it. The others nodded. “Well, Jack’s been at the head of the line in helping to free those people. The System Lords aren’t happy with him. We knew sooner or later they’d get here, but we were hoping later. Much later. We really aren’t ready for them.”

Tom rubbed his face, whiskers rasping. “If it’s that bad, why did you retire, son?”

“Because the military thinks it knows better than us how to deal with this,” he said. “Ninety-nine percent of the military didn’t even know about this project and, yet, they suddenly know better than us. I wasn’t going to sit around and watch them as they got us blown up, or worse, enslaved by System Lords.”

“Is that a possibility?” Michael asked intently, leaning forward, hands clasped on his knees.

“At the moment, highly probable.”

“Then I’d say you need to be in there, Jack,” Michael told him. Jack shook his head.

“When the military figures out that they at least need an adviser, I’ll hear about it. I’m tired, Michael; I’ve lost a lot of good people in this battle, and all I want to do is go home and make love to my wife and Daniel. They’ve also lost people in this. Daniel lost his wife, Sam lost her father and several others close to her. I’m tired, they’re tired.”

“Father and wife?” Maggie questioned, frowning.

Jack nodded. “Sam’s father was in on this, I can’t go into details. He died just last year, a few months before we were married. Daniel….”

“My wife, Sha’re, was from a planet called Abydos,” Daniel said softly. “A System Lord took her as a slave. She died several years ago. Her world was destroyed by another System Lord.” He took his wallet out and showed them her picture. He remembered her being skeptical about his magic and startled when she saw herself.

“Beautiful. But she’s human,” Michael commented with a little confusion.

“Yes,” Daniel nodded. “Most of the people we’ve met out there are human. They came from here. Thousands of years ago, System Lords took them off-world as slaves. We’ve met a few non-human aliens, and I like most of them, but most of the aliens aren’t so alien. Earth is the home world. The others call us Tau’ri. That’s what the symbol on Sam’s fighters’ means. It’s our world symbol which the System Lords recognize. It’s a stylized pyramid and sun.”

“That symbol has been cropping up on the internet,” Michael said. “Small pockets of people seem to be adopting it as a world unification symbol.”

“Really?” the three said together, startled.

“You guys were right,” Jack said, giving Daniel’s leg a tap. “Just wait and trust the public.”

Michael watched them, looking from one to the other.

“You guys are really… together?” He finally noticed.

“Would you like a blow by blow description of this morning’s three-way activities?” Jack asked.

“No, thank you,” Michael shook his head.

“Yes!”

“Mother!”

“I’ll tell you later, Maggie,” Daniel promised with a wink. “It was wonderful. We considered staying in bed instead of coming over here.” Daniel got his leg pinched. “Your cookies won out.”

Michael was still skeptical.

“Would you like to know about the mole under his….?” Daniel gestured with his fingers.

“No, I have a vague memory of where Jack’s moles are,” Michael said dryly. “I was seven when he was born. I learned how to change diapers fairly early in life.”

Daniel hid his face on Jack’s shoulder, he and Sam laughing as Jack protested, his face red and hot. There was a knock at the door before it opened. A police officer walked in and ushered Megan in before him.

“Hey, Jack,” the man said. He was huskier than the O’Neills Daniel had already met; looking as though he came from Tom’s side of the tree instead of the tall, whip-thin Maggie’s side. “One very upset niece for your inspection. Hey, Mike, sorry about this.”

Megan stood, arms crossed, her face white and stained with tears.

“How could you, Jack?” she demanded.

“How could I? How could you,” Jack responded. He stood and held the camera up to her. “This is the current state of your son’s butt, Megan.”

She gasped, her hands going to her mouth, and turned away. Cousin Joey took the camera, looking at the pictures before handing it back to Jack.

“What are we doing?” Joey asked, resigned. Jack laid out the plans and Joe gave a grave nod.

“I’ll get Andrew,” he said. “Off the books for as long as possible, Jack, or CPS will take the kids instead of you. Megan, if custody comes into this, I would advise you giving them over to Jack voluntarily or this will go much harder on all of you, including an official record in the system. This doesn’t have to be permanent, Megs, just until the evaluations are done and a course of action decided upon. Aunt Maggie, Uncle Tom, are you witnessing this?” They sadly agreed.

“Who’s this?” Joey asked, looking at Sam and Daniel.

“My wife, Sam, and our boyfriend, Daniel,” Jack said with a straight face. Joey clearly felt that Jack was joking with him as he held out a hand to Daniel.

“And as such, Uncle Jack can’t take my children,” Megan protested.

Jack held up the camera again. “Tell me who is responsible for child abuse?” he questioned with a raised eyebrow. Megan kept silent. “Leave Daniel out of this, Megan Anne. You can thank him for the psych eval, because I’d rather have Andrew arrested.”

A childish giggle came from upstairs followed by a squawk. Everyone looked up at the ceiling as Jack groaned. Daniel sighed and went up. Zu was walking up and down the bed, marching and pretending to fall over dead whenever David peeked at him. David stopped at seeing Daniel in the doorway.

“It’s okay, David,” Daniel assured him. “This is Zu, he’s been visiting us. He’s a silly bird, isn’t he?” The boy shyly nodded.

“Daniel!” he heard bellowed from downstairs. Daniel rolled his eyes and went back down. There was a furry russet mound sitting on Jack’s lap.

“T’Keet?!” The cub jumped and Daniel caught her. “Oh, no,” he moaned as she chittered happily in his face. Jack was on his cell phone as his family looked on, wide-eyed and incredulous.

“Davis! We are in Minnesota, in my parents’ living room. We have unexpected guests in the form of one small, purring mound of fur currently attached to Daniel’s chest and one red-winged menace entertaining my youngest nephew. Is there something I should know about? Uh huh, you do that.” He hung up and threw his head back.

“I think I need a cigarette,” he informed the ceiling.

“Not if you expect to be kissed again,” Sam said. “What is the major going to do?”

“Major Davis will call back after he whispers into Vidrine’s ear and rechecks the radar,” Jack said. “Nothing has blipped on any of the screens, so he’s just as surprised as we are. Zu is easy to hide, but T’Keet is obviously not from around here so it may be a problem trying to hide her.”

They watched the cub chomp her sharp little teeth into an apple that Daniel found for her as she lay back, cradled in Daniel’s arms, tail twitching slowly as she hummed in contentment at the sweet fruit. A bird flew down the stairs and landed on Daniel’s shoulder, eying the cub imperiously. She held out the apple and the bird took a bite. David came down the stairs. He had a red feather in one hand. He went to Jack and took over his lap as Daniel spoke to the bird. Sam gave the boy a gentle stroke on his arm and he smiled shyly at her.

“Well?” Jack asked, seeing the strange look on Daniel’s face as he glanced at the bird. Daniel didn’t say anything as he went through the kitchen to the back door. Everyone trooped behind him. There were three strangers sitting on the lawn chairs. The two men were smoking stogies. Joey immediately drew his gun on the three leather kilted people and was stopped by Jack.

“Daniel!” they greeted him. “And Jack and Sam!”

“Please tell me you ran out of gas,” Jack begged, going into the yard.

Enki held up a fresh stogie. Jack considered accepting it, until he saw the frown on Sam’s face. He politely declined. Jack’s family looked at the warriors.

“Jonathan…..” Tom began.

“It’s alright, Dad,” Jack assured him. “They’re friends. Just relax and I’ll find out what’s going on. Guys?”

Ninurta stood and put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Let’s walk,” he said, steering Jack around and out the yard. Jack stopped him and pointed to the leather kilt. They went to a far corner of the yard for their talk.

Inanna looked at the family.

“You are the mother of Katie?” she asked the white-faced woman standing behind Joey. Megan gave a shaky nod. “Come. I would speak with you.”

“Inanna,” Daniel stopped her. He spoke a few sentences to her and her eyes narrowed.

“Come, woman,” she insisted, taking Megan’s arm and pulling her away. Sam halted the protests from the rest of the family. Enki reached out and took Sam’s hand, planting a kiss on the back of it.

“Flirt,” she informed him with a grin.

“Sam?” Michael gestured. Sam introduced everyone.

“We don’t know what’s going on, yet,” she said. “Let Jack and Ninurta talk.”

“Do you see this woman?” Enki asked the group, tugging on Sam’s hand. “She saved our lives. We were in stasis for over two thousand years, and she corrected that problem within a day of realizing what happened. Jack fought for us, and Daniel bridged our worlds. We owe these three and their warriors everything.”

Michael sat, his face white. “Two thousand years? How…?”

“Don’t quite know,” Enki said, puffing thoughtfully. “I was hoping Sam would be able to spend some time on that and help me figure it out. Who is this little man?” He looked around Sam at the back door. Zu flew out and landed on Enki’s shoulder.

“Come on out, David,” Daniel encouraged him. “These are friends. This is Enki. Aba, this is David, Jack’s youngest nephew. He hasn’t been feeling well, and Zu’s been cheering him up.”

“I see,” Enki nodded. “Zu is good at that, the crazy old bird. Zu must like you very much,” he mentioned, looking at David’s hand. “He gifted you with a very rich gift. He doesn’t give feathers to just anyone, you know, so you must be special.” Zu murmured into Enki’s ear and the old man nodded. David looked at the red and gold feather in his hand and sidled into Daniel, comfortable in Daniel’s calm.

“Sam,” Jack called to her, waving her over. He spoke quietly and they both took out cell phones and began making calls.

“Daniel,” Michael said, disturbed at the goings on. “Seminary training includes mythology. Their names are not unknown to me.”

“I’m sorry, Michael.”

“They can’t be the ones from Mesopotamia,” Michael insisted, not willing to accept the knowledge that was filtering through his mind. He felt a hyperventilation coming on as he looked at the woman speaking to Megan, every ounce of him refusing to accept that the Queen of Heaven was standing across the yard from him. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was the Queen of Heaven, not this…

“They are,” Daniel said, truly sorry to be the one to break it to him. “They’re just people, Michael, who happen to be very old. Sorry, Aba, no offense. They are not gods, Michael, so their existence does nothing to threaten you.”

“There is only one God,” Michael whispered.

“So say every Goa’uld,” Enki said. “Keep that up, and you’ll make a very nice slave for which-ever System Lord decides to take over this planet. Baal and Enlil are the two at the front of the line, and I don’t believe Enlil is capable of beating Baal. You may want to discuss with Jack exactly what Baal is capable of.”

“Aba, please,” Daniel quietly protested. “That isn’t helpful.”

“We don’t have time to pander to billions of individuals who happen to be in the throes of a spiritual crisis,” Enki said bluntly. “It’s time to grow up, and if this planet needs to be pulled kicking and screaming into adulthood, that’s what we’ll do.”

Daniel thought about it. “What are you saying?”

“Nothing, yet,” Enki said.

Daniel switched languages and he still got a shaking head.

“How about translating all this for us?” Tom asked, an arm around Maggie’s shoulders. Joey stood quietly in the back ground, watching, listening, having been put on hold by General Jack.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” Daniel told them. “The fact that they are here, instead of organizing their new home world, tells me something is about to go down.”

“Are we in for an invasion?” Joey asked, on alert. Daniel shrugged.

“I don’t know. The possibility is there, but since Sam hasn’t been called in, there aren’t any fleets within range of us.” And with the Gate still down, no one will be coming in that way, either…

“Do you know how insane this conversation is?” Joey asked. Daniel held the cub up.

“T’Keet, say Hi.”

Hhhhiiiieeeee!” She hooted and wiggled, wrapping her tail around Daniel’s forearm and swinging upside down. Joey and Megan took a step back.

“An alien child,” Michael noted with a raised eyebrow. “There’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye, isn’t there?” he asked Daniel. “An alien child… Dear Lord, I’m not doing well.”

“Just take deep breaths, son, you’ll get over it,” Enki sagely advised.

“Daniel!”

Daniel handed David over to his great-grandparents and went across the lawn. Jack put his phone away.

“We have a decision to make,” Jack said quietly. “The gate isn’t malfunctioning; it was shut down by the Asgard. Our feathered spy over there discovered that the head of the appropriations committee is a snake. He followed that lead and came across eight others, all in the higher ranks. General Wilmington, the new CO at SGC, is one of those taken. You think the world is reeling from seeing an alien air battle in our own backyard? Wait until they find out we have a foothold situation high in the American government.”

Daniel rubbed the back of his neck, grimacing. No, this wasn’t good. “What are the decision choices?”

“First, we need to contact other loyal SGC personnel and confirm they are clean. Ninurta has offered sanctuary on board the Heaven’s Bow, if we need it. If this planet becomes overrun, the leadership will need to be kept safe; us and whomever else we recommend. That’s one option. Another is to keep quiet and turn a blind eye to anything unusual in the near future.”

“My men can infiltrate and excise the infection,” Ninurta said. “If we do this, you all need to stay clear of the situation. Once the infection is dealt with, you will need your hands clean if you are to return to your place and command the chaapa’i. Only when your planet is on her feet will the Asgard release the gate. They do not trust the current command, and my queen has convinced them to take this action, so do not be angry with Thor.”

“And the decision we need to make is whether or not to take the sanctuary or wait out the storm in its eye?” Daniel pieced together. Ninurta nodded.

“Exactly so. You are in great danger, if you stay here,” he said. “The three of you are prime targets for assassination. Jack because of his access to the gate and his leadership, not to mention the knowledge of the Ancients, which is still buried inside of him, Sam because of her knowledge of weapons and science, and you, Daniel, because of your abilities at communication and being able to read Ancient. With the three of you under control of a Goa’uld, this world would easily be taken.”

“We are not the only ones who are viable targets,” Daniel said. “If Jack dies, most of the SGC who are loyal will accept Nate stepping into his place. SG-3 and quite a few of Sam’s pilots know who he is. In the absence of Jack, the loyal SGC personnel will follow Col. Reynolds, and Col. Reynolds knows Nate. And according to a possible future path that we accidentally stumbled into one time, Cassandra will be in control of the gate as easily as the Tollan were able to, and the Nox. If anyone needs to be secluded, I’d say those two do. For myself, I will follow Jack and Sam.”

“I didn’t even think about Cassie,” Sam said thoughtfully. Jack gave a slow nod.

“What is special about your Cassandra?” Ninurta asked, looking from one to the others. “She is not human?”

Eyebrows went up. “Zu didn’t spill the beans on her?” Jack asked. “Niriti decided to experiment on her people. The entire population was destroyed except Cassandra. We rescued Cassandra when she was twelve. Her adopted mother died a couple years ago, Sam’s been looking in on her, and Daniel and I are around when she needs a father. We had Thor take the planet out of the gate system because of the contamination.”

“There’s the possibility that whatever Niriti did to her will make itself known at some point in the future,” Sam said. “She isn’t showing any signs now, but she did a few years ago. Telekinetic abilities. We caught Niriti and managed to shut them off, but if that future path is any indication, they are dormant, not completely gone. She was about mid-fifties when we saw her in the future timeline and she had a device on her hand that brought the gate online when she touched it. No locking in each chevron, just a stroke and the event horizon was instantly established. The entire gate room was no longer in use, everything was shrouded, so I’m thinking that we no longer needed the gate for travel by that time. And Cass was in charge of it, I’d say about thirty-five years in the future. Not too long away.” The only thing Daniel wasn’t happy about with the story is that Cassie, the older Cassie, insinuated that Daniel no longer had hair in that time. He absently ran a hand through his thick hair in confirmation of its existence.

Ninurta grew quiet and thoughtful as she spoke. “And with Nate, Jack’s clone, that is indeed a powerful partnership. I recommend letting them both know of their status. We can keep an eye on them and pull them out, if we need to. Especially your Cassandra. If she is able to do as you say she is, or will be, she is indeed the future of this world. What of Niriti?”

“Dead,” Daniel assured him. Ninurta nodded.

“I think I’d rather stay home,” Jack said, looking at Sam and Daniel. “If something happens at the Mountain, I’d like to be close by if we need to jump in.”

Daniel and Sam agreed.

“Keep Cassandra and Nate on your radar,” Jack told Ninurta. “Nate won’t be amused; he wants to teach elementary school and play with the kids, but he has me in him, so he knows to take command when he needs to. If he needs to. And I’m going to decline on the recommendation to inform them; Cass is still too young to know how to play it cool. If she has foreknowledge, she may tip her hand. And I don’t want to risk Nate’s emotions and have him spill it to her.”

“Alright,” Ninurta conceded, nodding as he looked at them. “I will give the order to begin infection control. I recommend you spend another day or so with your family and then go back home and to your daily routines. Whatever you do, don’t go on a world tour when you are asked to make appearances in the near future regarding our battle with Enlil. Be stubborn, dig your feet in, and don’t stray too far. You can bring the world to you, give some seminars, on your terms, not your government’s terms, but stay on this continent.”

“Why can’t we stray?” Daniel asked, frowning at the leash.

“Because I don’t want to have to track you all over the world in our attempts to keep you safe,” Ninurta said, as blunt as his father. “The further you are from us, the more opportunity the enslaved will have to capture you. This is just temporary, Daniel, until we can contain this problem. I can’t stop you from going abroad; I can only ask that you help us to help you.”

They understood.

“I have asked Zu to stay with you,” Ninurta said. “He will be our eyes and ears to you. Don’t be concerned if he disappears for days on end, he’ll be back.”

“Yeah, about that,” Jack said, holding up a hand. “How does he do that?”

The warrior gave a rueful smile. “We stopped asking that question thousands of years ago.”

“And what are we doing with T’Keet?” Daniel asked, stroking the tail wrapped around his neck.

“M’Net is on our ship,” Ninurta said. “He chose to stay with us instead of returning home. His family was killed by Enlil, he had nothing left and staying with us would give him the chance to avenge their deaths. She got out when she saw from Zu that you were nearby. She will be returned.”

Plans were settled and they returned to the group.

“Dad, how about firing up the grill?” Jack suggested.

“You’re not going to tell us?” Joey demanded incredulously. The others also sounded their protests.

“Tell you what?” Jack asked blankly.

“Jack, you can’t do that! We…they….Jack, there are aliens in the backyard!” Joey croaked.

“I think you’ve had a few too many pints, Joe,” Jack informed him. “All I see is my family and a few friends that happened to drop by. Come on, let’s get some steaks and burgers; I’m hungry.”

Megan was quietly sniffling, arms hugging herself. Whatever Inanna had said to her, Megan returned to the family group much subdued and with an attitude adjustment.

“Uncle Jack?” she whispered. Jack took one look at her and pulled her into his arms. He stroked her hair as she sobbed into his chest. “I’m pregnant, Uncle Jack,” she whispered when she could. “I don’t want another of my babies hurt.”

“No more,” Jack told her, stroking the brown hair from her face and wiping away her tears. “File the report, honey,” he advised her. “How far along are you?”

“Three months,” she said. “I had it confirmed last week; I haven’t told anyone. Not even Andrew.”

“Okay. You’re only thirty-six, honey, and you’re healthy; this shouldn’t be a problem. We’re all here for you. Joe, Megs has a report to file,” Jack gently said, handing her over to their cousin. They took Sam’s camera with the evidence of Matthew’s back-end, and left for the station.

“Mommy?”

They looked at the small whisper, the first words from David all day. Jack knelt down and held him by the waist.

“Mommy will be back soon,” he said to the boy. “She and Joey need to do something, so you stay here with us until she gets back. How about you come to the store with me and we’ll get some hotdogs for Papa to grill?”

“And corn?” Davy asked, his eyes brightening.

“That is a great idea,” Jack said enthusiastically, shaking the boy. He flung the child over a shoulder and stood. “We are going shopping,” he announced. The child giggled from upside down. It was the best sound Jack had heard in a long time.

 


 

Chapter 9

 

T’Keet was taken back to the Anunnaki ship which was cloaked in a nearby field. By the time Jack and David returned with groceries, three more visitors had arrived, this time dressed in Earth clothing. They had brought proper clothing for Enki, Inanna, and Ninurta. Anyone looking in on the O’Neill cookout wouldn’t have spotted anything out of the ordinary, except maybe the macaw digging into a bowl of freshly cut fruit. Michael was in a closed conference with Enki, and not looking happy. There was nothing Jack could do about that, some truths needed to be told. Several more cousins showed up, the word having gotten around that Jack was in town with his new wife. No one was buying the boyfriend story, not when it involved Jack. Sam was making the rounds, meeting and greeting.

“Shara,” Jack greeted the warrior, clasping forearms.

“So, Jack, you finally caved in to your pretty over there,” Shara said with a twinkle. Jack smiled and shoved the man away. Jack gave the bag of corn ears to David and set the boy to shucking. Jack handed the meat to his father and joined the Anunnaki pow-wow which held Daniel. It was a slow journey, having to stop and greet family he hadn’t seen in many years. He refused alien stories, promising after dinner theater.

Daniel watched Davy with the corn, noting how out of breath the boy quickly became as he hauled what shouldn’t have been too heavy a load.

“Jack, what’s wrong with him?” Daniel asked once Jack made it to them.

“A lot,” Jack said quietly. His cousins were avoiding the strange group of men and one woman, and the air of military that they gave. “David almost died several times before he was a year old. He was eight weeks premature, weighed in at 3.2 pounds at birth. Soon after he got home, his entire body was one big blister. Head to foot, eczema so bad that his skin would crack and ooze plasma. Couldn’t even keep clothes on him, not even diapers. His crib was covered in cloth diapers which were changed instead of changing him, and when he started to crawl, his playpen was covered in diapers. The rugs had to be taken out and replaced with hardwood floors. He didn’t outgrow the rash until he was about two-years-old. By then, we discovered that he was allergic to just about everything. His baby food had to be organic and pulverized in a blender on a daily basis, none of the jar stuff. His food still needs to be completely organic, no additives, no preservatives, no artificial flavors or colors. Completely, one hundred percent natural. He’s allergic to berries, dairy products, certain types of wheat, eggs, and nuts including soy. His soaps, from body and hair to clothing, also come from the natural foods store. He still breaks out with a body rash if there is anything in the soaps that can’t be used on him. So, because of the nutrition problem, he’s very small and not as strong as he should be. He’s a little slow, which sometimes happens with preemies, but he’s very sweet and has a heart of pure gold.”

“God, Jack,” Daniel breathed. The warriors also expressed their sorrow for the child.

“His doctors said puberty may knock out some of the allergies,” Jack said, watching his nephew pull at the corn husks.

“That’s why you washed all our clothes in that new detergent before we packed,” Daniel said, not having thought about Jack’s reasons for the new organic detergent. Jack nodded.

“If I didn’t none of us would have been able to hold him. Not even a hug. Most of the cousins that have regular contact with him also use the same detergents and shop at the same food store, especially if they know he’s coming by.”

“How do you test new products?” Daniel asked.

“Small dab on his arm. If there’s an allergy, the spot turns red within minutes.”

“Uncle Jack!” He turned. Matthew was holding up a football. “Come on and play!”

Jack excused himself and threw himself into a rough and tumble game of touch with a handful of cousins and his older nephew. Matthew had recovered his wits over the beating and howled in amusement when he was knocked on his butt. He mooned his cousins when they asked, showing them the purple bruises.

After dinner, there was a demand for the Alien Story. Jack gave the John Wayne version and had the family eating out of his hands. He confirmed Katie’s tall tales of babysitting alien cubs. A couple of the older boys asked where they could sign up, and Jack happily directed them to the nearest recruitment station. He told the girls that they could also sign up; after all, it was Sam who led the air squadrons. That led into an excited round of girl-power, turning the center of attention over to Sam who used Gibil and Erra in a demonstration of hand-to-hand combat. To the family’s horror, the men didn’t hold back just because she was a girl. Sam gave a feral grin and sent Erra to the ground. He landed on his back with a heavy grunt.

Daniel held David on his lap as he watched in amusement, thankful that Jack had left him out of this particular show.

“Hey, Jack, what’s this story of you and a guy!” one of the Nolan’s called out. Everyone laughed. “Does your wife know?”

“Hell, yes, she knows,” Jack immediately responded. “After what he did with her this morning, she’d better know. The man is insatiable; he needs two partners because he’d kill just one of us.”

Daniel turned bright red and hid his face in a hand behind Davy’s thin back as the family roared. He felt the boy plucked off his lap and was pulled to his feet. Jack dipped him and planted one on him. His cousins howled in shocked surprise and Daniel pushed Jack back against the porch and shoved his tongue down Jack’s throat. Sam was no help, cheering Daniel on. Daniel pushed Jack away, grinning as he licked Jack’s taste from his lips. Jack knew that look and went to sit with Sam, resigned to whatever had suddenly entered Daniel’s brain. It was evening; anything could happen when Daniel’s imp came out to play. Daniel skipped over to Ninurta and swung an arm around the man’s shoulders.

“Can you drum?” he asked the warrior.

“I am Inanna’s High Priest, of course I can drum,” was the dry response. His warriors found several buckets and paint cans, and began an impromptu drumming circle. Daniel went to David who was sitting on his nana’s lap, watching the proceedings as he played with his feather.

“Davy, do you know why that feather is special?” he asked the boy, squatting down face to face. Maggie was flushed and Tom flustered from seeing the forbidden fruit of their younger son and Daniel. It was truly a surprise, having not quite believed that Jack’s initial kissing of Daniel wasn’t any more than pulling their legs. David shook his head at Daniel’s question.

“Because feathers are for flying,” Daniel said, giving the thin legs a shake. “Come on, I’ll teach you how to fly. Sneakers off, and give your shirt to nana. Good, boy. Come on.”

Daniel kicked his own sneakers off and tossed his t-shirt over Jack’s face, much to the further amusement of the family. There were a couple of feminine wolf-whistles directed at Daniel’s well-defined chest as he took David out to the yard and showed him how to hold the feather in out-stretched hands, and stomp his feet along with the drummers as he twirled. Several of the more ambitious cousins followed and soon the yard was filled with dancers. Davy kept his eyes solidly on Daniel, hesitant at first. Daniel took his small hands and slowly led him. The drummers kept the beat simple so that the child could learn, and picked it up as they watched the boy begin to notice the power rumbling from them to the bare feet upon the Mother.

It was a treat for Daniel to have true Middle Easterners drumming, instead of pseudo-Native American or bad belly-dancers; although the beat was slightly different, North Africa vs. ancient Iraq, the drumming brought up memories of Egypt when he would walk through the markets with his parents or one of his keepers, or during digs with locals when he was still small and easily enthralled by the evening fires in the chilly nighttime desert air. Music was always present and quite often men would break into spontaneous, joyous dancing in the streets. It was natural for Daniel to join in, to be taken by the hands of an older man and taught to dance with the drums that rang out to Allah. Daniel could do no less in taking the young boy by the hands and being equally patient in teaching the child how to fly.

“I found a way, To steal the sun from the sky, Long live that day, That I decided to fly from the inside,” Daniel sang to the child, remembering the chorus of a song that Nate had been recently growling out while listening to a Shinedown CD. He repeated it several times until he was sure the boy had the words. The rest of the words to the song really didn’t apply, which was fine because Daniel found that the chorus echoed with him. The song was hard rock, very un-Jack like, which Nate had been learning to appreciate.

When Daniel sensed that Davy had learned how to listen on the inside, he released the boy’s hands. The child moved clumsily as he moved, keeping his arms out as he twirled, hanging on to the fiery red-gold feather. David’s self-consciousness was making room for the universe to dance with him, something children learned to do more easily than adults. Daniel turned and found himself facing the Queen of Heaven. She took him as partner and danced for him, Daniel echoing her in an ancient dance that tuned out everyone except themselves. The air crackled with energy as the drumming changed beat and rhythm into something that woke up the surrounding earth with an expectant heaviness, the drummers drumming for their Queen. Daniel kept his hands to himself as he danced as close to her as he could without actually touching her, keeping only eye contact. It had been a long time since he had danced with someone who knew the art of non-physical seduction. Like courtly love, the seduction, would go no further than the dance with the drummers. And to be dancing with Inanna, the goddess of passion, Daniel was glad that the sun was going down because he’d probably have a bucket of ice thrown on him if the front of his jeans became noticeable.

Back at the tables, Jack and Sam looked at each other, knowing that they were in for an all-nighter once they got back to the hotel room. Michael, however, watched his nephew and young cousins with a plummeting heart as the pagan drums made their way into them. The neighbors soon came over and joined in the dancing. A party at the O’Neill’s was always an open invitation occasion. Michael didn’t know where to start in deciding upon a subject for Sunday’s sermon; aliens, pagan dancing, homosexuality, marriage vows….. Somewhere along the way, something had gone very wrong.

Michael got up and tapped Jack on the shoulder. They went around to the front and began down the sidewalk.

“I can see it on your face, Mikey,” Jack said. “If you start a sermon with me, I’m turning around. I’m enjoying myself, don’t ruin it.” He took a sip from the beer bottle that he had taken with him. Daniel had the car keys.

Michael sighed, staring at the evening sky. “Jack, I don’t want to ruin anything for you,” he said. “I haven’t seen you this happy in a long time; you’re my brother and I love you and I do want you to be happy. I was so afraid for you after Charlie died, and tonight I can see that you are once more alive. There are aspects of this that I cannot accept, though, and you know that. I have this urge inside of me to send you and your friends away, and hustle everyone else down to church.”

Although impatient with closed minds, Jack understood what his brother was saying. If life with Daniel had taught him anything, it was that sometimes one needed to think of others before acting or speaking, instead of immediately pulling a gun, so Jack waited until he could speak.

“Michael, few people know this, Mom and Dad don’t know about it, and I want to keep it that way --you were right to be afraid for me,” Jack told him in quiet seriousness. “I literally had a gun to my head when two Air Force officers came knocking at my door to tell me that I was being recalled to active duty almost eleven years ago.” Michael stopped, swaying slightly as he shut his eyes. “Do you know what saved me from killing myself during or after that initial mission for Cheyenne Mountain? Because that was my plan, to complete my intentions at the end of the mission. Daniel saved me. He didn’t know it at the time, that his love of life, his open heart, giving of himself to a people he didn’t know, even in the face of death itself, it got to me. Opened my eyes. It was another year before I met him again. Our team was formed at that second meeting for this new project with the aliens. For years, I told myself that my affection for him was paternal. I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to kill him because he’s so damned irritating, or if I wanted hug him every time he came home beaten to a pulp by an alien bully. It was a while before I admitted to myself that I just plain wanted to kiss him.

“Falling in love with Daniel was a surprise for me. I hadn’t thought about a man like that before and I had certainly never done anything with a man before. What was even more of a surprise was falling in love with Sam at the same time. She was military, though, and I was her CO, so I kept to the regs and didn’t go near her, either. Due to various circumstances last year, Sam and I finally got together. It didn’t even occur to me to approach Daniel before that, I didn’t know he had any interest in men. That knowledge came about four months ago, and it was accidental that we found out. He was seeing a major, a male major. Sam and I found out. We had only seen him with women before. He wasn’t hiding, we just hadn’t noticed. Things happened, some truths came out between me and Sam, and I approached Daniel. Don’t blame any of this on him, Michael; I did all the initiating and telling him how I felt to getting into his bed. Sam approved one hundred percent of the way, they sleep together, too.”

Jack stopped, putting a hand on his brother’s arm for a moment.

“You can’t begin to understand what we’ve gone through together over the years,” he said. “Take all the wars in Earth’s history, wrap them together, and you might have a small inkling of wars off-world. Yes, Michael, I’ve spent most of my time in Colorado actually on other worlds doing everything from fighting wars to falling asleep during Daniel’s excavations of old ruins. The three of us, really the four of us, our forth squad member is alien, have all taken hits for each other, and more than once. We have died for each other, Michael. Literally. Daniel was dead for a year, just a few years ago, and I can’t begin to tell you how it nearly killed me. I’m the one who ordered the plug pulled. No, I can’t tell you how he was returned. Extremely classified. I’m sorry to tell you that more than one resurrection has taken place; it’s a common occurrence for us. When Daniel was dead for that year, his spirit kept me alive when a System Lord was torturing me to death for no reason other than I had pissed him off and it amused him to torture me before killing me, and it was only Daniel’s spirit intervening with a member of our squad that help was sent to rescue me. No one knew where I was being held. Sam and I would be dead permanently, several times over, if it wasn’t for Daniel. And the same extremes have happened between me and Sam, and between Sam and Daniel. That’s how much we all love each other, Michael.”

Jack paused, thinking. “I don’t need your approval or blessings,” he said with a shrug. “My faith is in Sam and Daniel. I do insist that you be polite with them. Do not dismiss Daniel because I will take him over blood family without even thinking twice. He makes me happy, Michael, happier than I have ever been in my life. Him and Sam. I need them.

Michael wasn’t happy about it, and Jack could see the resignation on his face.

“As for the alien stuff, get used to it,” Jack informed him. “Thanks to Enlil, Earth’s participation in the universe is now officially out of the closet. There will be some sort of announcement on TV shortly by the president and the Joint Chiefs. It’s more than likely that I will be brought on board for damage control at some point. I’m fighting it at the moment. Temper tantrum. It’s Daniel, though, that will be the main man. He’s the one who figured things out. This wasn’t the first time Earth has been under attack, and it was Daniel’s talents that saved us. I may have led Earth’s forces, but I couldn’t have done it without him first breaking certain codes. He has a talent for falling into shit and emerging with diamonds. Don’t let his pretty face or geek attitude blind you; he may not be military, he’s had to become a warrior over the years, and he’s always among my first choices when gathering fighters to my side.”

“I understand he’s important to you,” Michael acknowledged. “He seems to be more important than your wife.”

“No,” Jack shook his head. “We are discussing Daniel because it’s killing you to give me a lecture on the topic of homosexuality. Sam is equally important to me; our blood, sweat, and tears have mingled together time and again. When I speak of times with Daniel, interpret that as including Sam, because she’s always with us. I am in awe of her and I freely worship at her feet.”

“And, yet, you don’t worship elsewhere,” Michael commented.

“Very few people involved in this are practicing a religion, Michael. The off-world contact quickly knocks it out of people. The base is filled with people who came on board as Christians, Jews, Muslims, and a few others. Most are no longer practicing. Anyone with a conflict either transfers out of the project or finds a way to deal with it. There are no chaplains on base. A couple have tried, but they transfer out soon after they get there because they can’t reconcile their beliefs with the fact that there are aliens and alien technology on the base. The Christian God is unknown out there. The alien humans are from here originally, but we’ve only met one small group that knew of the Christian God, and they were of a medieval sect, completely xenophobic. They almost sacrificed us as demons. Try telling off-worlders that the Christian God is the only god, and they won’t hear anything different than anyone else telling them that their god is the only god. It’s the calling card of the System Lords.

“Michael, I don’t mean to say all this to hurt you,” Jack said gently, taking his brother by the upper arms. He was stiff and his face deathly white. “My point is there is more to this universe than lies between the pages of a book. I deal in facts, Mike; if you want to discuss philosophy, it’s Daniel you’ll want to talk with. Email him, he’ll love it.”

Michael stood looking at the stars. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket, blew and wiped.

“He was dead for a year? Coma?” Michael asked huskily. Jack shook his head.

“He was accidentally poisoned on another planet when he ran into a lab to rescue a couple of scientists. Radioactivity. He died, Mike. We all watched him as the radioactivity overcame him. A video record of it does exist; I can probably get you a private viewing, if you’re interested. When he died, his body disappeared before our eyes, leaving only the gauze that wrapped his wounds. He reappeared a year later while we were on an off-world mission. He was sent back to us on the planet we were visiting so that we could bring him home. Same thing happened a couple years ago. He was killed in the battle that killed Anubis. He was returned to us again. We call it Ascending when someone dies like that. And Descending when he returns. It’s a higher state of being.”

Michael sighed, holding his arms to the sky for a brief moment as he unwillingly contemplated Jack’s words.

“Dear Lord, Jack, all these years I’ve been praying for the brother I thought was caged away becoming old and bitter, and all this time you’ve been playing Rambo with aliens.”

“Please, Michael, not Rambo,” Jack begged. “And all you had to do is drop your judgmental attitude and just talk to me.”

“Did I judge you, Jack?” Michael asked softly.

“I got divorced and the family stopped talking to me, going so far as to keep my own niece and nephews from me. You tell me who’s judging whom.”

Michael nodded, his head hung. “I’m ashamed of myself for that, Jack. Truly. I was angry at myself, looking into a more conservative form of Catholicism, and I took it all out on you. I cannot forgive myself for it, but I do beg your forgiveness.”

Jack slowly turned back toward the house and began to walk. Hearing the truth in Michael’s voice, something a part of his heart had needed to hear for too long, he paused and half turned his head.

“I do forgive you. In the morning, I’m calling the base and arranging for our ride home on a transport. If you want to visit us in Colorado, you are welcome to, just be aware that the three of us are truly together. This is me, Michael; if you’d like to get to know me, you will need to accept my life as it is.”

He knew his brother was about to descend into his own hell, and Jack was sorry for it. He had never intended for his family to find out what he had been up to, knew that the facts would disrupt the safety and comfort of their daily lives.

Jack breathed in the night time air of the neighborhood he grew up in, familiar homes, many with different families. There used to be a soda shop on the corner, a small grocery and meat market next to it. There was an empty lot there now, filled with litter. Some things change, others don’t. The crowd of cousins in the back yard was still the same. The TV wasn’t. Someone had brought out the TV and VCR, and put in a tape of the air battle. Sam was standing to the side, giving a running commentary on the action and who the ships belonged to, and turning up the sound to hear Jack’s image snarling at the idiot helicopter that got in the way. Bleeps had taken the place of certain words. The cousins cheered their General Jack.

“Due credit, honey,” he said over the rowdy noise. “Tell everyone where you are in all this.”

“I was fighting, too,” she said. Jack walked up to the TV and pointed to the small fighters in the dark sky.

“Sam is there,” he said, following one of the jets with a finger. “She was leading the air squads. Those pretty little fighters are her babies, she helped to design them.”

Sam got her cheers.

“And where was your boyo during this, Jack?” shouted a Ross.

“Back at the base,” Jack said. “Katie happened to be visiting when all this started, so I sent her to the base for safety and had Daniel guarding her.” He wasn’t prepared to tell them she was actually off-world during the battle.

“Who are they?” someone called out. Jack gestured to Sam to continue her monologue and went to sit next to his mother, putting an arm around her shoulder. Daniel had exhausted himself from dancing and was in a chair with a sleepy David on his lap.

“Those are Jaffa rebels,” Sam said, looking at the bad image of the command center. “They’re alien allies. They were our first allies. That’s Teal’c and his son, Rya’c. Teal’c is actually the fourth member of our squad, which consists of, or did before Jack was promoted, of Jack, me, Daniel, and Teal’c.”

“He was at your wedding!” Maggie interrupted with astonishment.

“Yes, he was,” Sam said with a smile. “Actually, there were a couple different ally groups represented at our wedding. Most of them are of human origin, remember?”

“Those look like big cats!” someone called out. Sam looked at the dark image of the ground battle.

“Those are called Sua,” she said. “They are our newest non-human allies. Very nice people. Some of them were slaves on board the enemy ship, others were part of the crew of the smaller ship. Those who were not killed during this battle were rescued and sent home.”

“Except a certain cub with a crush on Daniel,” Jack murmured to his Mom. She swatted at his leg.

“Did we lose a lot of people, Sam?” Tom asked her.

“A few,” she said sadly. “Jack, what was the count?”

He had to think for a moment. “One hundred and thirty-seven off-world humans, five Jaffa, eighteen Sua, and fifteen Anunnaki. One seventy five from our side. We picked up bodies of two hundred and fourty-three from the enemy ship, we don’t know if any were on board when it exploded,” he said, nodding to the screen which showed the fireworks from space.

“Who were those ships that showed up at the end?” a neighbor asked.

“The larger ship belongs to our greatest ally, the Asgard,” Sam said. They tried to get information on the other ship's identity, but Sam had learned to withstand interrogation from the best of them.

“What’s that triangle thing on your ship, Sam?”

“Daniel?” she offered.

“It’s the symbol for our planet,” he said gently over the half-asleep child he was cradling. “We are Tau’ri, not Earth. That’s what the symbol is called. We are the first planet, the home world of all the alien humans. They were originally taken from here thousands of years ago, mainly from the Middle East, as slaves for the Goa’uld, the bad guys. They were taken from mostly Egypt and North Africa. Some were later taken from Northern Europe. So the Tau’ri is a stylized pyramid and our single star. Or moon. There are arguments about it.”

“So this really is a freedom fight like the internet says?” someone asked. Sam confirmed it.

“These are really nasty bad guys,” she said. “They have no compassion and they cannot be reasoned with. They are complete sociopaths. No one in our history comes close to how bad these guys are. There are millions and millions of people out there, mostly of human origins, who are enslaved by the Goa’uld. The Jaffa are the main underlings for them, their officers and personal attendants. The Jaffa rebels, like our friend Teal’c, have overcome their slavery and are fighting to free their brethren. Jack was the first to show them the way; he freed Teal’c first. Teal’c used to be the second in command of a major System Lord. The System Lords aren’t happy with Jack. No, actually, they’re pissed at him. Seriously pissed.”

Cousins stood and stomped their feet, howling in Celtic pride for their General Jack. He was glad it was dark so that they couldn’t see his face clearly. He knew what Sam was doing; she was pushing the ball of public support. His chatty family would take the information and run with it, expounding on it with each telling in typical Irish fashion, until it was rolling so fast down the hill that no one would be able to stop it.

“What a minute, wait a minute!” someone called out. Jack looked over his shoulder to see Sean waving his hands for quiet. “How did you guys get to these other planets?” he asked suspiciously.

“Classified,” Sam said immediately, taking the heat. She got protests.

“That second ship,” Sean guessed with a finger snap. “It’s our own spaceship, isn’t it? So, what….is Jack Captain Kirk or something?”

Sam laughed. “Actually, he thinks he’s Luke Skywalker.” Everyone laughed.

“Does that make you Leia?” Sean asked with a twinkle.

“Please,” Sam huffed. “You saw my ship. I’m Han.”

“I see,” Sean nodded. “Daniel is Leia.” Even Jack had to laugh at the image of masculine Daniel in a filmy white dress.

“Don’t even think about it, Jack,” Daniel called out. “My love for you does NOT run that deep.” Jack held up a finger, laughing.

“No, Daniel is Chewbacca,” Sam said, smiling. “And Teal’c is Yoda. We don’t have a Leia. Actually, considering how many proposals Jack has received on other planets, proposals of all kinds, from women, men, and others, I’d say he’s more Lando, not Luke.”

“I know where you sleep, Colonel Baby,” he warned her over the laughter.

“Yes, you do, General Honey,” she confirmed, smiling, and took the few steps to him to plant a kiss on his mouth.

“Jack, come on, man, tell us what it’s like on other planets,” someone called out. He stood and turned to face them, pulling Sam in front of him and wrapping his arms around her waist.

“Not too different from here,” he said. “Remember, most of the people we meet are of human origin, so the planets they were seeded on are compatible for human physiology. Some planets have multiple suns, which make them extremely hot, and many have more than one moon. Sky coloring is slightly different planet to planet, local wildlife is different per planet.”

“What about languages?”

“That’s Daniel’s department,” Jack said. “He’s our linguist. Most of the languages have their root in an Earth language, so they aren’t too far off from what we already speak. Daniel speaks twenty-three Earth languages. How many non-human languages, Daniel?”

“About seven,” he said, thinking about it. “Most I can’t actually pronounce, but I can understand them. Or at least the general gist. And I’m counting twenty-four Earth languages, now that the Anunnaki have corrected my Sumerian.”

The family was impressed. Said Anunnaki were sitting quietly in the back, still known as nothing more than military friends of Jack’s. Michael was the only one who knew to connect Anunnaki with Inanna and Enki. Katie was obeying Jack and keeping her mouth shut about the Gate, being off-world, and her knowledge of exactly who Jack’s visitors were. Jack had noticed her obedience to orders. He had also noticed her taking careful note of Sam’s moves when she was playing with Erra and Gibil.

“Can you speak Gaelic?” someone asked in a dare. Daniel rattled off something completely throat twisting. He was cheered.

“Hey, what’s that?” someone asked, pointing at the TV which was still on. The tape had stopped and switched to a live feed. Jack looked at the screen to see the station break for an announcement from the White House. He turned the sound up and looked at Sam. She gave a small shake of her head. She didn’t know anything about it.

The moment General Maynard was introduced Daniel stood up carefully and took David into the house, and put the sleeping child to bed. When he came back down and out the back door, he stood near Jack and Sam as they all watched and listened. Sam’s cell phone rang and she moved to the side of the yard to answer it. She was back a moment later.

“I need to go,” she said quietly. “A car is on the way to pick me up. They want me at the Yard. It’s just a precaution,” she said in answer to Jack’s silent inquiry. The Anunnaki quietly left, unseen by the family, and gave a small nod to Jack on their way out.

The story Maynard was spinning was that Earth had its own spaceships, created from alien wreckage, and that we had been tooling through the universe for several years on exploration missions. The internet stories about System Lords was confirmed and Daniel was given the credit for discovering that the pyramids were the ancient landing sites and for translating the languages that were hidden among the hieroglyphs and on the alien wreckage. Part of Daniel’s pre-recorded presentation was played, making it look as though he were live from an undisclosed site as he discussed human slaves, false gods, and what Earth had to do with it all. Major Davis came on after, giving his who’s who speech, leaving out all mention of the Gate. Sam was given credit for the weapons and computer systems on board Earth’s ships, and Jack was finally brought in as the leader of Earth’s forces off-world. Ex-leader, since he had retired. Credit for treaties with allies was given to Jack and Daniel, and an explanation was given for the air battle over Colorado recently, calling it an unforeseen event that the ships chose that spot for their argument. It was likened to a fly-ball that went over the foul line. Jack had to hand it to them; he could see Maynard, Vidrine, and Davis’ hands all over the story and they were protecting the truth of the SGC.

If anything came out of it all, Jack was glad that Daniel was finally given public vindication among his peers. Daniel never said much about it, but Jack knew it hurt Daniel’s pride not to be able to jump up and shout, “I told you so!” Now he could. Daniel’s cell phone rang. He turned it off without looking at it. The president came on, praised everyone involved, and assured the public that Earth was safe thanks to the efforts of General O’Neill and the fine men and women under his command at Project Blue Skies. Unfortunately, the general wasn’t with them that evening. No explanation was given for where exactly the general was, what he was doing, or how an underground mountain base was building and flying spaceships. The president confirmed that four of the jets fighting for Earth were indeed Russian aircraft, and thanked the Russian government for their cooperation as an ally in the Project.

“Your major should be writing fiction,” Jack whispered to Daniel.

“He isn’t my major anymore.”

Two SF guards came around the side of the house and saluted Sam and the general. She kissed Jack and Daniel, and excused herself.

“She’s been called in,” Jack told everyone.

The main report went off and the rest of the evening was spent in newsrooms with various people discussing the information. A couple actually suggested that it was all a hoax. Religious leaders were brought in; they bemoaned the entire concept of aliens and gods, and called for their people to keep their faith. Scientists were brought on and argued about the physics of it all. Jack turned the TV off and turned to his family. They were silent as they looked at him. He could see the shock on their faces as the knowledge hit them that he really wasn’t telling tall tales.

“You don’t need to be afraid,” he quietly told them. “There is no reason why daily life should come to a halt. Nothing has changed except the fact that we are not alone. We haven’t been alone for thousands of years. We are on the outskirts of most of the inhabited worlds, sort of a backwater planet, and we are not technologically advanced enough to be much of a threat to anyone, so it is highly unlikely that we will be getting more visitors.”

“Why did those guards come and get Sam?” Michael asked.

“It was just a precaution,” Jack said. “They want her on base in case the public wigs out and the military is needed to control rioting.”

“Those weren’t just any guards,” Sean said. “Those were Special Forces.” Jack remembered that his cousin was a military buff who wasn’t able to get into the military because of an inner ear imbalance.

“Yes, they were,” Jack confirmed. “Sam is one of the few people on the planet that knows how the ships are built. She helped design them. All three of us get SF when we need an escort, because of our place in the Project.”

“Are you going to be recalled, son?” his father asked.

“I don’t know, Dad,” he said. “It’s a possibility. I don’t want to be recalled, and at the moment, there really isn’t a reason for them to bring me in. We aren’t at war with anyone, and there are no indications that someone is going to invade. The Joint Chiefs have it covered. You saw General Maynard speak, he oversees the project, General Vidrine is Sam’s CO, and Major Davis works with Sam. I trust them to keep things in line. If something happens, one of them will call me. And the major is Daniel’s ex-boyfriend, so if I DON’T hear about it, the major will.” He jerked a thumb at Daniel and got a relaxing chuckle from the group.

On the way back to the hotel room for the evening, Jack called home and talked with Nate. He convinced his clone to fly up the next day and make himself known to the family. What Nate would actually be doing was keeping an eye on Megan and the kids while Andrew was put through the system and evaluated. Jack was going to call the local base and arrange a transport back home, but Daniel requested that they drive home and get a little fresh air. Neither of them were in a rush, and it would keep the hounds from them for a while longer.

Daniel called the major for a private update and was assured that, although Daniel was wanted by the White House and the Pentagon for their own private Q&A, Paul could stall them for a few more weeks and use the recording that Daniel had made. They were still concerned about the gate not working. Jack took the phone and informed the major that the Asgard shut the gate down due to a lack of confidence in the current leadership. Yes, the Asgard had the right to shut down someone’s gate, especially when it involved children playing with adult weapons.

They got to their hotel room and Jack collapsed face down onto the bed with a groan. Daniel stripped and got into the shower, standing under the spray as it pounded on the back of his neck. He heard Jack come in and pee before getting into the shower.

“Share,” Jack said, moving Daniel away from the shower head. Jack quickly soaped his hair and rinsed while Daniel started to wash.

“Did I really tell my nephews the facts of life?” Jack asked in dismay.

“Yes, you did,” Daniel confirmed with a chuckle. “And you did a good job, too.”

Jack shook his head. “I remember telling Charlie where babies come from and I nearly had a coronary.”

“See? It gets easier each time.”

In the early morning, Daniel woke up to find Jack in the bathroom, shaving, a towel around his waist, and his skin wet from another shower. They were both sticky again from night time playing.

“Coffee is brewing,” Jack assured the zombie. He got a grunt from the direction of the toilet before the shower was turned on. He heard Daniel snarl to himself as the cold water hit him for a quick wake-up. Daniel emerged from the shower to find Jack still in front of the mirror, looking closely at himself. He poked unhappily at areas that were beginning to sag and tugged at the gray chest hair before opening the towel and looking down.

“Stop it,” Daniel told him, rubbing briskly at his wet skin.

“I’m old, Danny,” Jack informed him.

“Shit happens, Jack, knock it off.”

“I’m almost fifty-five. That makes sixty in five years.”

“And?” Daniel took Jack’s face and turned it to face him. “Stop. You have two people who love you just as you are. We happen to find you extremely sexy, even if you don’t. Sam is completely turned on by you to the point of making herself wet just by looking at you, and I happen to enjoy making love with you more than I ever have with anyone else.”

He kissed Jack, taking his time, playing with a nipple buried in a chest full of hair. “Are you going to shut up and use your mouth for something more constructive?” Daniel asked, taking a nibble out of Jack’s lips.

“You think I’m sexy?” Jack asked, looking into the blue eyes.

“If you break into Rod Stewart, I’m outta here.”

They made it down to the hotel’s dining room before the breakfast bar closed. Another romp in the shower used up more time.

“Daniel, you’re language goes a bit south when you’re on the bottom,” Jack informed him with an amused look. Daniel bit into a sausage link, snapping his teeth with a grin.

“So I’ve been told,” he said. “I’ve told you before, words do it to me. Try talking dirty to me sometime and see what happens. Words turn Sam on, too, you know.”

Jack lifted an eyebrow. “Sam? Our PG-rated Sam? Since when?”

“Since that first night together,” Daniel said. “Don’t you remember how turned on she was just from me talking to her? The nastier the words I use when I’m with her, the harder she comes.”

Jack put his fork down. “Are you serious?”

“I take it you don’t talk that way with her,” Daniel commented, amused.

“Well… no, I figured she’d smack the crap out of me,” Jack said, blown over.

“Next time she’s in a playful, do-me mood, try it,” Daniel suggested. “Hold her arms down and go sailor on her. It’s that secret part of her that she’s been hiding. I would have mentioned it before, but I thought you figured it out after our first night.”

“And that makes her…” Jack looked around.

“She turns into a cat in heat,” Daniel said bluntly.

Jack thought about it, unable to picture it. “I’m not sure I can do that,” he finally said. “I’ll be honest, Danny, I’ve never been the kind to talk like that. Especially not within the hearing of a woman.”

Daniel nodded. “It’s Okay,” he said. “Not everyone gets into it. Playing with words is one of my fetishes; it doesn’t have to be yours. Would it bother you to watch us in that type of scene?”

“I don’t know,” Jack said with a shrug. “I admit that it turned me on the first night, but you really weren’t talking sailor.”

“Maybe it was the control that turned you on,” Daniel suggested. Jack looked at him.

“Where do you get this stuff from?” he asked, waving his fork. “I know you aren’t one of those BDSM people, so where?”

Daniel smiled and wiped his mouth. “I know people who are,” he said. “It’s just another language. I agree with some of the concepts, not all, and it’s all a matter of putting them into action. You won’t find me coming home with a whip and paddle, so you don’t have to worry about that aspect. I do like some of the control games, though. The D/s, aspect, Dominance and submission. Sometimes it’s a turn on. There’s no pain involved, no humiliation, and it’s a onetime thing. Let’s take you, for example. You are an alpha, we all know that. Alpha’s need to be in control. Sometimes the weight of the world gets to them, and they request that someone Top them. It takes the weight from them, temporarily, and allows them to breathe and refocus. Last night, you requested to be Topped, so I did. I love you, that wasn’t a problem. Although you were technically on the bottom, you were in command by informing me of your needs, which placed you back on Top. I am not an alpha. I can take command when I need to, but it isn’t my natural place. I loved being with you this morning; I cannot begin to tell you how right it felt. Sam is not an alpha. She is completely turned on when one of us takes command of her, no matter how much of a rabbit mood she’s in, and that’s no disrespect towards her. We can’t all be alphas, Jack, or we wouldn’t be able to live together. You and Teal’c would not be able to live together.”

“But you gave me an order this morning by telling me to…” he looked around again.

“No,” Daniel shook his head. “I was instructing you on what to do in the situation of you coming before I did. The decision was yours. You could have used your hand; I could have done it myself. You needed to know my preferences in that sometimes I like it a little rough. I usually like my loving easy, sometimes the opposite. Biting into me was exactly what I needed this morning.”

“I’ve noticed that you usually go rough, or adventurous, in the evening and easy in the morning,” Jack commented.

Daniel laughed. “Something about the moon…. This morning I was feeling the need to be completely Topped and you biting me made me feel taken. I needed it.”

“I thought I was too rough,” Jack said thoughtfully. Daniel shook his head.

“I’ll let you know if you’re too rough,” he said. “Remember, I’ve been doing this longer than you have, I can take a lot.”

Jack was thoughtful, quiet, as they drove out to his parents’ house. Zu had disappeared again, and Jack was hoping he had returned to Colorado.

“Are we leaving today?” he asked.

“I’d like to,” Daniel said. “If everyone doesn’t know where we are, they soon will, and I don’t think it would be fair to your parents to inundate them with the world on their doorstep.”

Jack agreed. They reached his parents’ house and found Nate sitting on the couch. Maggie was happily fluttering over him.

“It’s nine a.m. and you’re being plied with milk and cookies?” Jack asked. “Mom, you have no shame.” He kissed her cheek. The cheek was held up for Daniel, and he kissed her, too.

“You got up here pretty quick,” Jack said to Nate.

“A thousand on your credit card goes a long way,” he was told. “All the way to Minnesota.”

“Great.

“Where are the kids?”

“Your father took Katie and Matthew home,” Maggie said. “Megan is home, Andrew is being arraigned for a psych eval. Nate got here about an hour ago; Megan will be over with the kids for lunch to meet him. Davy is upstairs taking his bath. I was about to check on him, if you’d like to do it.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jack agreed and went up. David was playing with ships and making battle noises. Water was everywhere.

“Hey, buddy,” Jack greeted him, crouching down next to the tub.

“Hi, Uncle Jack,” he was greeted. Jack almost lifted the wet body out for a hug, he was so glad to hear it. The little guy was normally chatty, and yesterday’s quiet was disturbing. Quiet time with Nana and Papa was all he needed.

“Did you meet your new cousin, Nate?”

“Uh huh,” David nodded. “He looks like you. He has a earring.”

“Yes, he does. He’s going to stay here for a while and play with you and get to know everyone. Daniel and I need to go home today. After lunch. Aunt Sam had to leave last night.”

“Can I go with you?”

Jack found the wash cloth and checked behind ears. “No, not this time,” he said. “I’d like it if you came for a visit, though. I’ll talk with your Mom and ask her.”

His cell phone rang and Jack dried his hands before answering it.

“O’Neill.” He listened for a moment and stopped himself from swearing near delicate ears. “We’ll be there.” He put his cell away and helped David wash his hair before getting the boy out and dried. It had been a long time since he had helped with bath time; more than once he and Charlie had gotten into trouble when Sara would walk in and find the room covered in water after Jack and his son got into a water splashing fight. He cleaned up the bathroom while David got himself dressed and then went downstairs.

“Mom, I’m sorry, but we need to go,” he said, giving her a hug. “I got a call a few minutes ago; Daniel and I need to fly out to Washington.”

Daniel and Nate looked at him, both knowing better than to ask at that moment.

“And you can’t tell me, can you?” Maggie asked, not liking all the secrets she knew were being kept from her.

“Sorry,” Jack shook his head. “We have a command performance with the president. I can’t say why.”

His mother hmpfed. “Alright, but while you have his ear, tell him I’m not happy with his Medicare package.”

 


 

Chapter 10

 

They checked out of their hotel room and made it to the airport with very little time to spare. Apparently General Wilmington, currently in charge of the SGC, was found dead. A preliminary autopsy brought out an equally dead symbiote. The public was going to be told that it was a heart attack. Jack had to hand it to Ninurta; the man worked fast. The president and the Joint Chiefs wanted to know how in hell the SGC was infiltrated, especially since the gate had been down.

Jack and Daniel had orders to stop at Bethesda Naval Hospital before going to the White House. They were to be MRI’d. At the airport in DC, they got off the private jet and found Major Davis waiting with a car. He had a suit waiting for Daniel and a uniform for Jack. Jack hadn’t been recalled, so he staged a quiet protest at donning the uniform, and made Davis stop at a men’s store to buy a suit of his own.

“How come we don’t have those little hand-held things like on Star Trek?” Daniel asked. “With one of those, we wouldn’t have to stop at a hospital for the MRI.”

“Suggest it to Sam,” Jack said. “Have we noticed if the Goa’uld have anything like that?”

Daniel thought about it. He and Davis shook their heads.

“No, they don’t,” Daniel said thoughtfully. “That’s interesting. Maybe they don’t want anyone peeking inside their bodies?”

A light bulb went on over Davis’ head and he pulled out a notepad and made a few notes.

They were hustled into the president’s conference room by mid-afternoon. The president wasn’t happy and not just because Jack wasn’t in uniform.

“Mr. President, due respect, sir, but I could have told you over the phone that we didn’t know anything about this,” Jack said. “I’ve been at my parents’ house for the past few days, in Minnesota, and I haven’t been on base since I retired. My wife is the only military person I’ve been speaking to, and she’s been stationed in Nevada, not at Cheyenne. I am a little miffed at not having her home every night. sir.”

“Give me leads, General,” the president demanded. “I need to know how those alien things could have gotten here when the gate has been down!”

“They could have been here for quite a while,” Jack said. “Thanks to the NID and its incompetent leadership, a lot of things were brought back that shouldn’t have been. Remember Senator Kinsey. And the Goa’uld do have ships, sir. It takes a little longer, but they can make it several million light-years in just a week. Less, if they’re in a hurry.”

“And why is the gate down? Do you know anything about that?” The president was almost purple in the face as he marched to and fro.

“The Asgard shut it down.”

“Why?!”

“Because of the inane….!”

“Jack!” Daniel stopped him. Jack slammed the chair back and stood at the window with his back to the room.

“Mr. President, please try and understand,” Daniel said quietly, reasonably. “The Asgard are one of the four races that started exploring by gate travel. The Ancients, another of the four, are the ones who built the gates and the entire gate network. The Asgard and the Nox are the only ones left who have power over the gates, now that the Ancients and the fourth race, the Furlongs, have gone. None of the other races in the universe have shown the cognizance to be even considered at a pre-evolutionary leap. Except us. The Asgard believe that we are destined to be the Fifth Race, and as such, they keep a close watch on our gate. If they believe that the gate is going to be used for malicious purposes, they promised years ago that they would shut it down. Well, sir, without someone like General O’Neill or General Hammond at the helm, the gate is in danger. The gate and Earth.

“Sir, the System Lords are upset enough, and all we’ve done is mostly exploration. With someone like the NID or a weapons happy general at the gate, the Goa’uld will have an even better reason to send a strike force and take over our planet, and make slaves of all of us. The Asgard have been generous in not shutting the gate down long ago, and with the infiltration of symbiotes, the Asgard were right in their hesitancy. We need to stay alive and well long enough to make that leap, and we can’t do that if some gung-ho general steps in and starts playing commando with other worlds. It would make us no better than the System Lords.”

The president had sat down, listening to Daniel as he plucked thoughtfully at his lower lip.

“Sir, if I may,” Maynard spoke up in his quiet, commanding voice. “You have my report of the time I spent off-world with SG-1. With General O’Neill and Dr. Jackson. Sir, if someone else had gone to that world, someone with nothing more on their agenda than to collect weapons and technology, we would not have two new allies. The methods that run the SGC are indeed contradictory to our usual policies, and we are dealing with unknowns. They deal with unknowns on a daily basis, and because their unknowns are alien, human standards cannot be held as inviolate. A good man was taken from the helm of the SGC, and replaced with someone who had no knowledge of what was required of the post. This is what happened. Infiltration. A foothold. I cannot believe this would have happened if General O’Neill’s advice had been listened to. It was a mistake to take him out of there.”

“So what do you suggest, Francis?” the president asked. “Put General O’Neill back in?”

“No, sir.”

They all turned to Jack. “I don’t want it,” he said, lifting his hands in emphasis. “My personal involvement with the personnel of the SGC makes my command decisions over them questionable.”

“Then whom would you suggest, Jack?” the president asked.

“I will think about it and make my recommendations,” he said.

“How about Homeworld Security?”

“Sir?”

“I had a note from General Hammond. He suggested I get you off your butt by offering you the Directorship,” the president told him. “You want it? You can relocate the home office to Colorado. Or Nevada. Wherever you’d like.”

Jack looked at Daniel. “I will think about it, sir. Sir, before I consider anything, you should know that my home life isn’t the norm.”

“What do you mean?”

“I may have married Colonel Carter, but we share our lives with Dr. Jackson.”

The president frowned. “He shares your home? Why would that be a problem?”

“No, sir, Daniel is….part of us,” Jack tried.

“It’s a threesome, sir,” Daniel stated. “The three of us are lovers.”

Major Davis at the door almost fell over. The president’s mouth dropped.

“What? I thought you and Major Davis….”

Daniel stopped a smile, glancing at Davis. “News travels fast around here,” Daniel commented. “We were, sir. I stopped it when I accepted Jack and Sam’s invitation.”

The president fished for a moment and found no help from General Maynard, who was equally astonished.

“The two of you…share…Colonel Carter?” the president tried to understand.

“Yes, sir,” Jack said. “Daniel and I also sleep together. It’s a threesome. We got together after we got back from the Sua home world. We call Daniel our boyfriend, he calls himself our consort. He’s kinda funny that way.”

“You and….. Oh, my.” The president stood and paced. “Okay, that’s different.”

“Sir, if it helps?” Daniel started as gently as he could. “This is fairly normal on other worlds. Earth is one of the few worlds that has a problem with same-gendered relationships as well as poly-relationships. Our off-world friends didn’t blink twice when we told them. Most of them were surprised it took us this long.”

“This is normal?” the president sat down.

“Yes, sir,” Daniel nodded and Jack nodded along with him.

“So, if you want me on board in any capacity, WE will need to be accepted as a package deal. Sir.” Jack stood behind Daniel’s chair, planting his feet. “And, sir? This had better not hinder Colonel Carter’s career. And one more thing, sir. My eighty-one year old mother isn’t happy with her Medicare package.”

While they were in Washington, they were flooded with requests for everything from private discussions to full seminars. Jack refused all, as did Daniel until he took it into his head to make a few of his own demands. He would agree to a seminar. Semi-public, he gets the first one hundred of the guest list, and it happens at the University of Chicago. Jack chuckled when he heard Daniel on the phone making his demands. It wasn’t too often Daniel went into ‘fuck-it’ mode, and he was planning a royal ‘told you so!’ to his old colleagues. Jack was looking forward to it.

In a minor news story, the president announced that in the light of universal togetherness, he was rescinding the no gays in the military order. The current numbers indicated that gays and lesbians were more numerous than originally thought, and the military was losing too many good people because of an out-dated thought. If a man could work side-by-side with attractive women who happened to know how to shoot a gun, there was no reason a man couldn’t work side-by-side with a man who also knew how to shoot a gun.

Never having been to the Pentagon before, Daniel was given the grand tour by Major Davis. They went into sections that were not normally open to the public, and Jack and Daniel found that they were welcomed. They touched the plaque commemorating the 9/11 attack and were asked by a general if they had any type of shield system that would stop another bomber. Jack wasn’t about to give up the Goa’uld cloaking system, so he denied having anything. He greeted people he knew from his Special Ops days, people who knew when Jack was lying. They didn’t say anything. Jack had his reasons, and that was good enough for them.

While in Davis’ office, Daniel was handed a briefcase with a laptop and copies of his own notes. He was also handed a gun. Daniel shook his head.

“No,” he refused.

“Yes,” Davis returned. “We’ve received a few threats on you. If you are going to insist on going through with this seminar, I’d feel better if you were armed. I already checked it out to you. Sir?”

Jack frowned. “I agree. Take it, Daniel.”

“Why would someone be threatening me?” Daniel squeaked in astonishment.

“Because a few people who don’t have their ducks in a row seem to feel that Earth is about to go to hell in a hand-basket, and they’re blaming it on you,” Davis said. Daniel took the gun and slid it into the back of his pants, under his jacket.

“I think I’d rather go help Teal’c,” Daniel muttered.

“Me first,” Jack informed him. “Major, how bad are the threats?”

Davis went to his filing cabinet and took out a folder, handing it to Jack. Daniel looked over Jack’s arm.

“Mostly the hell fire and brimstone stuff for bringing false gods to the godly, that kind of thing,” Davis said. “There are a few more specific. They’re on the top. Red covers. One is post-marked Colorado, so we’re giving it priority.”

“This is Daniel’s address,” Jack noted. He picked up the phone and dialed. “Zu,” he called out when the answering machine picked up. “Are you there? If you are, go to Daniel’s house and check things out.”

“Jack, there’s about a hundred thousand dollars worth of irreplaceable artifacts at my house,” Daniel reminded him in a slow panic.

“I know, Danny.” Jack gave the back of Daniel’s neck a rub and redialed. The general being touchy-feely with his SG-1 wasn’t unusual, and now Davis was seeing it in a different, more interesting light. Come to think of it, it was usually Daniel that the general was touchy-feely with. “Andy, it’s Jack…. I promise, beers and stories, yes. Hey, do me favor? We’ve had a few threats. Could you send a regular patrol by my house and Daniel’s? We won’t be home for another week. If you see a red macaw, ignore him, he belongs there. No, it’s a story. Weapons at my house, and personal, expensive art, some of it alien, at Daniel’s. If you can’t reach us, call Major Paul Davis at the Pentagon. Yeah, from TV last night. Thanks, Andy.” He gave the sheriff Davis’ number and hung up.

“Andy Richardson is the sheriff of Colorado Springs,” Jack told Davis. “He’s a friend, a good man, so give him whatever help he needs. Daniel, it’s being dealt with, so why don’t you concentrate on this little party you’re throwing? Who’s on your list?”

Daniel took a deep breath and refocused. All of his ex-professors, lab mates, favorite dig teams, and a few writers who had raked him six feet under.

“Think your parents and brother would like to come?” he asked Jack. “And maybe Sam’s brother and wife. Any family she wants. I’m also thinking of a private show and tell for her family, let them know about Jacob.”

“I think she’d like that,” Jack nodded. “And I’ll call the folks. Major, can you put together a presentation about Jacob? Let’s give them some closure.”

“Yes, sir, I’d be happy to,” Davis assured him. “Sir, about T’Keet?”

“Where?!” Daniel jumped, looking around.

“Down,” Jack said, patting his shoulders. “It’s been straightened out, Major. Forget I called you.”

“Yes, sir. And Zu, sir?”

“He has a mind of his own, he decided to stay.”

“Yes, sir.” At least the macaw wouldn’t look out of place.

Jack was thinking as he continued to look through the folder of Daniel’s threats. It was one thing for Jack to want to kill Daniel, there was no way he’d allow anyone else to kill Daniel.

“Major, I want an escort and guard for this seminar,” he said, knowing Daniel wasn’t going to like it. “Ask Gen. Vidrine if Col. Carter can meet us in Chicago; I’d like her on guard duty. Actually, I’d like her undercover in the crowd. So far, her face has been kept from all this. I’d like her to move around, use that naquadah sensing thing of hers.” Jack began to reel off a list of names and Davis hastily took notes, nodding. Daniel sat, not liking the direction this was taking.

“How about SG teams?” Daniel asked, picking at his pant legs. “Are they doing anything? They deserve some credit here, too.”

Jack looked at Davis with a raised brow.

“Most are on standby while Gen. Wilmington’s death is being investigated,” Davis conceded. “Everyone’s been through the MRI before they were released out of the Mountain, and with the gate down, there’s been talk of relocating everyone. Sir?”

Jack nodded. “Volunteer basis,” he said. “Start with Col. Reynolds.”

“My fun is being ruined here, Jack,” Daniel pouted. A hand threaded through his hair.

“No, it isn’t,” Jack said. “You’re about to show everyone that not only are you not a fool, you have all these people who back you up. Besides, you know Reynolds is a Jackson fan; he’d be hurt if he wasn’t invited to join the fun.”

Daniel continued his pouting. “Well, I suppose so,” he said. “And he is cuter than you, so at least I’ll have OW!” He chuckled and rubbed at the ear that was tweaked.

“Mary Reynolds doesn’t share, so you’re stuck with me.”

“I’m hungry,” Daniel announced, reaching blindly for the hand he knew was close by.

“Of course, you are,” Jack said. “Major, would you care to join us for dinner?”

Davis was surprised, but he accepted after glancing at Daniel for his reaction.

“Anyone you’d like to bring with?” Daniel asked Paul. The major flushed slightly and shrugged.

“Don’t know, yet,” he admitted. Daniel was a little surprised.

“Really? Who?”

They waited for Davis to close shop before heading out.

“I’m not telling,” Davis said. “Not, yet. I haven’t actually brought up the topic with him, yet, but he’s been giving me the eye, so…. maybe.”

“Is he here?” Daniel asked, indicating the passing offices.

“No,” Davis said. “Technically he doesn’t exist.”

Daniel didn’t get it, but Jack raised an eyebrow.

“A spook?” he asked. Davis nodded. “Don’t ask about him, Daniel,” he advised.

Daniel was a little surprised that Paul was considering a spy as a boyfriend, while Davis was a little surprised that the general didn’t mind his fingers being played with. At least Daniel looked happy, which made things worthwhile. Davis was having a hard time picturing O’Neill with a man even though his touches toward Daniel were light and caressing, and there was a hint of tenderness in the general’s gruff teasing. Daniel was obviously seeing something in the older man that Davis wasn’t. Of course, he had heard the now legendary rumor of the general kissing Daniel in the gate room, but Davis hadn’t believed it. He was now considering it.

Davis recommended several restaurants in the area, and they settled on Chinese. Once there, Jack excused himself and headed for the men’s room.

“Are you completely out of your mind?!” Davis hissed at Daniel, leaning in and looking around. Daniel looked over the top of his glasses.

“Specify.”

You and the general? And the colonel??”

Daniel smiled and looked through the menu. “He’s a good kisser,” Daniel said.

Davis poked agitatedly at the table with chop sticks. “The two of you actually….?”

“Believe me, Paul, I was more surprised than you are when he first wanted to talk about it. And quite often, it’s the three of us,” Daniel chuckled.

“He really did kiss you in the gate room?” Daniel was sure that a stiff breeze would have knocked Paul over.

“Yes, he did,” Daniel confirmed. “Col. Reynolds saw it, as did the entire command room staff.”

Davis was staring wide-eyed. “And you’ve done the family meet and greet?”

Daniel nodded. “His Mom likes me,” Daniel confessed. “She fed me milk and cookies. She’s currently plying Nate with milk and cookies. There happened to be a large family get-together the other night during the president’s announcement and Jack informed the entire family that you and I were once an item and one of his young cousins wanted to know why I turned you out for him. She said you’re cute.”

Davis flushed. “He told his family about us? God.” His cell phone rang and he picked it up. “Davis. Sir. Yes, sir.”

“That was Gen. Maynard,” Davis said. “It seems the president has decided that your seminar would be a good time to inform the world about the gate. A file is being emailed to you for you to incorporate into your speech.” Jack came back and sat down. Davis repeated himself. “There will be a closed circuit feed to as many nation heads as possible. All eleven country leaders who have been in the know have given their approval. China isn’t happy about it; they were bullied into it by the other ten. Sir, in regards to HomeWorld Security –the president is willing to allow the SGC to be the base. If you want it.”

Jack puffed as he thought. “It never rains but pours, Major,” he said. “That’s a big carrot. Daniel, you are getting a heavy guard whether you want it or not. Major, I want that university scoured as well as, if not better, than required for a presidential visit. If one person takes a shot at Daniel, heads will roll.”

“Yes, sir.”

As they ate, Davis found it interesting to watch the two. Daniel had sketched the theatre lay-out for a quick study guide to who will be where. He heard the general’s gruff, commanding voice and the usual sarcasm, and Daniel arguing with him every step of the way, all the while sharing each other’s plates. O’Neill’s cell phone rang at one point and there was an immediate personality change when he looked at the caller ID.

“Hi, honey,” he answered. He went on to tell Sam about the upcoming seminar and the new topic to be included. She had just received orders that she would be joining in on the fun and games. She would be in Chicago by tomorrow afternoon. Jack glanced at Davis who was frowning at his own cell phone.

“What?” Jack asked him after putting Sam on hold.

“Hmm? Oh, nothing, sir,” Davis said. “Apparently the Pope is requesting that this seminar NOT be conducted. In fact, the less said, the better.”

Both Jack and Daniel looked at him.

“For the sake of diplomatic relations, the president will consider his request and then politely decline,” Davis told them. Jack went back to his conversation with Sam. Davis leaned toward Daniel. “I think the Buddhists are the only religious leaders who are NOT having a problem with all this,” he admitted.

“The Buddhists wouldn’t presume to tell God what he did and did not create,” Daniel responded as Davis continued to scroll through his emails.

“The Dali Lama would like an audience with you. So would the pope, by the way. Personally, I’d accept the Dali Lama’s invite. He’s interesting. China wants some kind of guarantee that they will have full involvement; I’m sure the president will deny them their ‘request’ to approve every decision and move we make. All the Senators and Congressmen want a private discussion with you, as well as all the special interest groups.”

“Daniel,” Jack interrupted them after hanging up with Sam. He half turned toward Daniel. “If I take on the new command, and that’s a really big IF, you understand that because of the situation, you won’t be able to go on the daily away missions.”

Daniel tossed his chopsticks down and sat back in the booth corner.

“Why?” he demanded.

“Danny, come on; you are no longer our resident know-it-all, you are the planetary know-it-all,” Jack said, waving a fork through the air. “I can let you out on special assignments if a team brings back something of interest, but I need you home. You are the SGC’s number one ambassador, and now ambassador to the world. You are the only person who has certain knowledge, and we can’t afford to lose you in a stupid off-world accident. How many times have you died? And being on base will give you greater oversight of your department; you will have access to the best minds in the world, or off-world, for that matter, so you can do a clean-sweep of the department and get the people you want. Hell, bring Jonas back, if you want him here. Same for Sam; I want her overseeing the Yard. Her greatest strength is in alien technology and physics. You both need to be working your strengths, not making them secondary. Can you accept that?”

Daniel was pouting as he picked at his noodles with his fingers. If it wasn’t for the fact that they were in a restaurant, Jack was sure his ears would be ringing from the swearing in multiple languages. Jack went back to his dinner, knowing Daniel would think about it.

“Major, tell me something,” Jack said. “How do we wear him out?”

Davis almost choked on a shrimp. “Umm… I never actually found out, sir,” he admitted. “He always wore me out first.”

***

The week was hectic as they prepared for the seminar of the millennia. A hotel suite in Chicago was taken over as commend central with Jack running the show and Daniel locked away with his computer in the bedroom. He came up for air long enough to eat. He politely declined the Pope’s invitation for a private chat before the seminar and promised the Dali Lama a lunch date. A couple of Chicago O’Neill cop cousins presented themselves for guard duty, having gotten the lowdown from the Minnesota cousins. Jack put them to interceding with the rest of their badge brethren in securing the perimeter of the university. The Oriental University was a small building, its meeting rooms much too small for this particular presentation, so they were taking over the main university’s large hall.

According to the news updates from Major Davis, the Islamic terrorist organizations weren’t happy with this new threat to their spiritual supremacy, and they were demanding that no Islamic country or person participate. Since the Arab nations were part of the eleven nations that were already participating in the show, it was a little late for terrorist demands. Thankfully, the new Iraqi government was a little less hotheaded than previous leaders. Davis had spent time on the phone arguing in Arabic with someone until Daniel stormed out of the bedroom, took the phone, and made a few statements of his own before hanging the phone up and locking himself in again.

Davis swallowed hard at the look the general gave him. “It wasn’t pretty, sir,” he said.

That made Jack contemplate a possible terrorist attack on the university during the seminar. He called the head of Homeland Security for a private chat, letting them know that a couple of 302s would be in the upper atmosphere during the entire seminar so don’t take any potshots at the crafts.

A quiet trickle down the pipelines said that another general was found dead, also with a symbiote. Jack had a dozen people that could prove he was in Chicago when it happened. The Higher Ups were a little itchy about the deaths, but since this was two for two with a symbiote, they weren’t making too much of a ruckus about it. Yet. They still wanted to know how the snakes got in, and Jack could only shrug; damned if he knew. One of two ways was likely: either the NID fucked up. Again. Or the snakes came from the downed Jaffa during Battlefield Colorado. But Jack was fairly sure that all snakes and bodies were accounted for.

Daniel came out of the room at one point and absently leaned over Jack’s shoulder to place the laptop in front of him, showing Jack something the others couldn’t see. Daniel rested his chin on Jack’s shoulder as he quietly spoke and pointed something out. Jack murmured back and grabbed a fistful of brown hair to pull the face forward. He kissed Daniel, almost dragging him over the back of the couch and onto his lap.

“Hello! Coming up for air is a good thing,” Jack informed him.

Daniel took a quick taste of Jack’s neck. “It has its merits,” he commented with a glint in his eyes before going back to his scheduling. Jack chuckled and went back to making his own notes. Davis was officially a believer, as were the several other people in the room who were helping to schedule security.

Davis answered the house phone and gave permission for someone to come up. A few minutes later, he opened the door and brought a man in. Jack glanced up, noting the black leather, black hair, and glittering green eyes. The man oozed an odor that Jack hadn’t smelled in a long time –assassin. He narrowed his eyes as he looked at the major.

“General O’Neill, this is Nick,” Davis introduced them. “My office recommends him for undercover security detail. Gen. Vidrine will vouch for him.”

“Nick? Just Nick?” Jack questioned.

“Just Nick,” the man said in a low, soft growl.

“In my office, Major.”

Davis followed Jack into the bedroom. The moment the door closed, Jack turned, crossed his arms, and waited. Daniel barely glanced at them as he lay belly down across the bed, working on his computer. Papers were spread out everywhere in an order only Daniel knew.

“Sir, he’s worked with my office for years,” Davis said. “Technically, the NSA pays him, but you won’t find him on any books nor will you find anyone who will acknowledge knowing him, including the director. I trust him as does Gen. Vidrine. He’s been fully briefed on everything SGC for years. I trust Daniel’s life with him.”

Jack grudgingly acknowledged the statement. “Does he follow orders?”

“When it agrees with his own decisions,” Davis admitted. “Sir, I’ve never known him to be wrong. He doesn’t play well with others, but he gets the job done, usually in a neat and tidy manner. He considers himself a consultant on a job, not an employee.”

Jack thought about it.

“Sounds like Paul’s pet spook,” came a comment from the peanut gallery. The flush on Davis’ face told Jack all he needed to know.

“Alright, Major, but I’m making you responsible for him,” Jack warned. Davis accepted the responsibility.

“Welcome aboard, Nick,” Jack said upon exiting the room. “I’ll give you the same intro speech I’ve given everyone else –if Dr. Jackson is harmed, I start skinning people. Col. Holden is in charge of the undercover assignments; he’s at the university scouting sites. I’ll let him know you’re coming.”

“I work alone.”

Jack sighed, wincing at the lower back pain as he sat on the couch again.

“Major Davis.”

“Nick, please, just meet with Col. Holden and consult with him. He can call Vidrine, if he needs to,” Davis asked nicely.

Nick thought about it. “I know of Holden,” the low voice commented. “You could have chosen better.”

“He’s a highly decorated Marine, what’s your problem with him?” Jack asked. Holden was Special Ops with the Pentagon; Jack had met him numerous times before while on the job.

“He’s sloppy,” came the remark. Nick turned and left as silently as he entered.

“Sir, he’s worth the irritation,” Davis promised Jack the moment the door was closed.

“He’d better be, Major, because I gotta tell ya, I’m irritated.”

“Yes, sir.”

Dinner was delivered soon after Sam got in from recon at the university. Most of the security personnel had left the suite for their own dinners. Jack’s back was killing him and he was seriously contemplating the hot-tub. As the waiter set their table, Sam tapped Jack on the leg. He looked at her and then at the waiter. Jack needed more than the hot-tub, he needed something 180 proof. Davis was also a little white in the gills as he glanced at the two security guards at the door. Jack sent the two guards away, telling them to get dinner and then return.

As soon as they left, Jack tilted his head back against the couch, wincing.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” he asked the ceiling.

“Don’t be silly, Jack,” Ninurta said. “Just thought I’d pop in and see how things were progressing. Come on and eat before this gets cold. What’s wrong with you?”

“Back,” Jack said, getting to his feet and heading to the table. “That couch is murder on my spine.”

“Lay on the floor,” Ninurta said.

“What?”

“Down. Floor. Belly.”

Jack groaned as he found a piece of floor. Ninurta lifted his t-shirt and felt his way up Jack’s spine. After a moment, he pressed hard on two spots simultaneously. The popping was heard across the room. Jack saw stars and then a rush of energy which had been released from the blockage. He took the offered hand and hoisted himself up.

“Thanks.” He was slightly dizzy, so he paused for a moment until his balance returned.

Da nada,” the Sumerian warrior said with a grin.

The smell of steaks and baked potatoes brought Daniel out of the bedroom. He collapsed into a chair at the table and dug in. He noticed the warrior and waved a fork, mumbling through a mouthful. Ninurta pressed a hand into Daniel’s shoulder.

“We’re proud of you, little brother,” he told Daniel. “Know that we will be in attendance in case you need us.”

Davis plugged his ears and did a few la-la-la’s under his breath. The alien was most definitely NOT supposed to be on the planet. He had an inkling of who was killing the symbiotes. He could also tell that SG-1 wasn’t surprised to see Ninurta. Great. There was an alien ship cloaked somewhere nearby and at least six Sumerian warriors roaming around the East Coast, possibly hunting down symbiotes. He could only hope that the Sua stayed on board the ship and are keeping a close eye on that cub.

“Invitation,” Ninurta announced, rubbing his palms together. “We are having a small get-together on board the Heaven’s Bow. You are all invited.”

Before anyone could accept or refuse, Daniel looked up suspiciously and halted them.

“What kind of get-together?” he asked.

“Daniel, how else are we supposed to show our support if not by gathering up some energy and pledging it to you?” the warrior asked innocently.

Daniel waved his fork. “Not to sound ungracious, but in what manner are you gathering energy?”

“Just a little orgy. Blessed by Inanna, of course.”

Daniel laughed. “You are bound and determined to get into my pants, aren’t you? No, thank you.”

“Actually, it’s Shara and Erra that want in your pants, didila,” Ninurta said with a grin. “I’d prefer Jack’s pants.”

Jack took a careful sip of his wine.

“Mine,” Daniel and Sam both said.

Ninurta smiled and took Sam’s hand, placing a kiss on the back. “No disrespect, Ningal, you are of course welcome. Your beauty almost outshines that of my Queen. It isn’t usual for the head of household to join in a warrior’s orgy, but you are a warrior, so you would be welcome. I do get the feeling that your consorts don’t share, however.” Her consorts confirmed his observation.

“Paul, why don’t you go play?” Daniel said. Davis took a long gulp of his wine.

“You know? I’m tempted to,” he said. “I think I’m going to need it, if the fact that they are still here is any indication.”

“Major, if you wish to partake, you may be excused,” Jack told him. “You’ve been on duty for the past four days, take an evening off. Just be back first thing in the morning. In one piece. No drugs in your system.”

“Good!” Ninurta declared. “Gibil happens to like you, Paul, if you’d care for time with him. He is a wonderful lover. And we no longer use the breath of Ishtar, Jack; we discovered that the Sua are allergic to it, so we respect their needs. Also, Aba didn’t like the long-term effects on us. Come, Paul! And in a short while, I will mean that literally.” Davis stopped and flushed. Ninurta chuckled and took him by the shoulders, guiding him out.

Jack took another bite of his steak and cleared his throat.

“Breath of Ishtar?”

“Pot,” Daniel answered. Jack nodded.

Didiwhatsit?”

“Didila. Child. In a playful sense.”

“Ningal?”

“Great Lady.”

They were silent for a moment.

“Well, Jack, at least Ninurta has good taste in his choice of men,” Sam commented. She and Daniel burst out laughing.

“You’re outted, Jack!” Daniel declared between breaths, almost slipping out of his chair. “Be prepared to be hit on!”

Jack flung a crouton at him. “Only one man gets my ass, Daniel, so pass the word on whatever gay grapevine there is.”

They managed to get through dinner with only minor teasing of Jack’s status among the Anunnaki warriors. Sam was fine with the way security was shaping up, and only a little worried about some strange man in black leather that showed up. Jack told her he was the major’s favorite heart palpitation.

“How are you?” Jack whined, holding his hand out to her. She took it and smiled.

“Missing you guys,” she said. He tugged and she went to him, sitting across his lap as he held her, pressing his face into her chest.

“Sam, did he tell you he did me?” Daniel mentioned with a teasing grin. Jack hid his face between her breasts.

“What? Really?!” She took his ears and dragged his face up, pressing kisses to the heated skin. “Did you like it?”

“Yes, I did,” Jack admitted. “We’ll be doing that again.” Sam put her mouth to his and kissed him long and deep. Jack slid his hand up under her shirt and caressed her soft skin. He expertly unclasped her bra and took a breast in his hand. Sam moaned as he tore his mouth away and lifted her shirt up, reattaching himself to a nipple. Sam caught Jack by the hair as he tried to take the entire breast into his mouth.

Daniel smiled at them and cleared the table. He made sure the door was locked after putting out the Do Not Disturb sign. It wouldn’t do to have the guards enter at the moment the general was having sex his wife on the couch. He enjoyed the grunts and moans as he cleared off the beds. He didn’t want to admit it, but he was actually too tired to play with them. Four days and nights of nothing except creating the presentation to end all presentations, was mentally exhausting and physically draining. He figured out how to run the spa and settled in for a soak. He was too tired to even play with himself.

He was shaken awake what felt like only minutes later.

“What are you doing?” Jack asked, unplugging the drain. “I’m worrying about aliens and terrorist attacks, and here you are trying to drown yourself. Come to bed, you can sleep there.”

“I don’t suppose you can carry me?” Daniel croaked. He must have been in there a while; the water was cold.

“You’re about forty pounds heavier than I am. Get your pruned self outta there.”

“Did you call me fat?” Daniel opened one eye to gaze blurrily up. Jack was standing over him wearing only a towel.

“No, I said you have more muscles than I do and you’re frame is wider.”

“My frame is wider…. Jack, you’ve been hanging out with the girls.”

Jack threatened to drop the extra towel into the draining water. Daniel got out and dried himself off, made a halfhearted try at Jack’s mouth, and collapsed on the bed. He snuggled under the covers next to Sam and she turned into his chest and smiled happily when Jack cocooned her in from the back.

They awoke in the morning to a pounding at the door. Jack opened one eye and contemplated the clock which read 6:07. Sam was gone and he assumed she had left for the university.

“Daniel! General!” came the pounding. “I’m coming in!”

“Come in, dammit!” Jack growled. Davis burst into the room holding a gun in the ready. He quickly looked around and checked on the bath. Jack leaned up on one elbow and shook Daniel awake.

“What’s the problem?” Jack asked. Daniel grumbled and reached for his glasses.

“Sorry, sir,” Davis said, pulling the gun up. “Col. Philips was caught a couple of hours ago in the hotel across the street. He was armed, sir. I was getting a little worried when you didn’t answer the door.”

Jack groaned and fell back. “Where did the intel come from?” he asked through his hands. Jack quickly pulled at the sheet as Daniel got out of the bed to pull a robe on.

“Nick spotted him, sir.” Davis politely turned his back when Daniel tossed Jack’s robe to him before going to find coffee. Daniel’s body was familiar territory, he was still unsure about the general. “Philips has been the Number One target on Nick’s radar since he disappeared. Nick had a feeling Philips would show up for this event.”

“Where is Philips now?”

“On his way to Malstrom, sir. Gen. Maynard and Col. Crawford are on their way here to take him into custody.”

Jack lifted an eyebrow; Maynard was taking it personally. He walked past Davis and into the main room to find the mug of coffee he knew Daniel had poured for him.

“You’re here earlier than I expected, Major,” Jack commented. “I thought you’d be dragging in at the last minute.”

“I romped, sir,” Davis reported. “Not much sleep, but well romped.”

Daniel chuckled and pulled an apple from the bowl on the table.

“Good for you, Major,” Jack congratulated him. “I discovered how to exhaust Daniel -give him a presentation to spend a week preparing for. He tried to drown himself in the spa last night.”

Jack went to take his shower, taking the coffee with him.

“I didn’t try to drown myself,” Daniel told Davis. “I fell asleep.”

Davis waited. As soon as he heard the water, he collapsed into a chair.

“God, Daniel, I had sex with M’Net,” he confessed. Daniel stared at him.

“Are you just going to leave me hanging with that?” Daniel demanded.

Davis smiled at him. “Details? Alright.” The details were explicit, causing Daniel to drop the fruit he had begun nibbling on.

“Damn,” Daniel whispered, wide-eyed. “I think I need to get jumped, and now I’ll have to wait until tonight. How many people were there? All male?”

“A few female,” Davis said. “You know I can’t play with women, so I really wasn’t paying attention. No Sua females, there’s about six Anunnaki females, and only two are warriors. It was a warriors only party. I’d say, human and Sua combined, about thirty. I did make my way through Ninurta and his boys. Erra is rough. My kind of rough. We got a little kinky,” he confessed with a grin.

“Of course, you did,” Daniel laughed. “Are you alright, though?”

“I’m fine,” Davis assured him. He stopped as the bedroom door opened and Jack came out, showered, shaved, and dressed.

“You two look a little flushed,” Jack said.

“Paul was telling me about his evening,” Daniel said. “We missed one hell of a party, Jack. I think I need to get jumped.” He batted his baby blues at Jack.

Jack smiled. “You’ll need to wait,” he informed Daniel. “We have your entourage showing up any minute, and I’m not going to make them wait while you get your ya-ya’s out in the next room. The way you carry on, I’ll be red-faced all day.”

“You don’t love me, I knew it,” Daniel accused.

Jack raised an eyebrow. “I’m not that gullible. We can discuss my heartless nature later this evening after I’ve done my best to wear you out.” While the two bickered, Davis answered the phone.

“Sir, the front desk says there’s a woman asking to see you for just a few minutes,” he said, holding his hand over the phone. “Says her name is Helen Alberts. You used to buy your Little League uniforms from her grandfather’s shop.”

Jack thought for a moment. “I’ll go down.”

He could feel the eyes on him as he strode across the lobby. Guards were everywhere, so he wasn’t concerned. It had been getting crazier than usual, with the upcoming seminar being touted as the must-see of the century. Jack had long since begun ignoring the long-lost cousins turning up. He was almost positive that there were no Chen’s or Bolozky’s on his family tree. And the orphaned Dr. Jackson was getting it even worse. The young woman standing at the front desk didn’t look like one of the kooks, though, not in her shorts, t-shirt, and baseball cap.

“Ms. Alberts?”

She gave him a friendly smile and held out her hand. “General O’Neill. Thank you for meeting with me. My grandfather was Mauritz Meir. Do you remember him?”

Jack raised his eyebrows. “I do remember him,” he declared, shaking her hand. “That was a very long time ago. He had three kids when I knew him, which one do you belong to?”

“I’m Johanna’s,” she said with a smile. “And three was all he and my grandmother had. He died just a few years ago. Some of your family still frequents the shop for uniforms, and he was so proud when he heard you made general. He would have busted his seams, if he had lived to see all this,” she said, gesturing up and around. “He also lit a few candles in church when your son died. Your family reported that, too. My condolences, General.”

“Thank you,” Jack said. “And please call me Jack.”

She nodded and picked up a box off the desk. “We wanted to do a little something, to show our appreciation, and our pride. Grandpa thought of you, and your brother, all the Little Leaguers, actually, as his kids, and he would have wanted this.” She opened the box and pulled out a jacket. “I know the military could probably come up with better, but my family wants you to have this. There are ten in here; you can give them to whomever you’d like. We’ve already killed the template, so these are the only ones in existence.”

Jack held up the denim jacket, taking in the stitched Tau’ri sigil on the back and the small SGC sigil on the front left breast.

“This is beautiful, Helen, thank you,” he said in awe. People had been tossing gifts at them for a few weeks now, all of which were forwarded to charities and anyone who walked whatever it was, but this one he knew came from the heart. Old Maury was a rite of passage when they were kids; the uniform wasn’t special unless it came from Mr. Meir.

“They’re all mediums and larges,” she said. “We were counting on military fitness. Oh, and…” she reached into the box and dug around, coming up with a much smaller box. “Five hundred in here,” she said. “For special friends.”

Jack opened the small box. It was filled with pins decorated with the Tau’ri. Jack was blown over. He put the boxes down and insisted on a hug which he received.

“I hope we got the sigils right,” she said, stepping back. “We were going by internet chatter.”

“Perfect,” he assured her. “Would you like to attend the seminar?”

She laughed and waved a hand. “Love to, but it was filled within the first half hour of the announcement. The academics from all over the world are at each other’s throats. It’s been ugly.”

“Dr. Jackson has the first one hundred seats, and I know for a fact that he hasn’t filled them all. Four tickets will be in your name.” He handed the startled young lady one of the pins and made her promise to use the tickets in honor of her grandfather.

“And Helen? Make another template for the jackets, would you?” he asked. “I’ll get you a count and sizes later. Private commission. The military will be paying for them. Start with mediums and larges, fifty each for now. Actually, make a few 1X and 2Xs. Some of our boys take their weightlifting seriously. Someone will come in to the shop and sign paperwork.” He wrote his phone number on a scratch paper from the desk and handed it to her. “Keep this to yourself, please.”

He shook out the jacket he had taken and put it on. It felt good. When he got back to the room, he tossed jackets Daniel and Davis, and kept one out for Sam.

“Cool!” Daniel declared, giving it a look over. Jack showed them the pins, too.

“And I gave away four of your seats,” Jack confessed. He gave the name and Daniel was happy to fill in the seats. “Michael said he’d make it, but Mom and Dad don’t want to deal with the crowds. They send their love, though. And David has been asking about Uncle Danny.”

Daniel paused in his scribbling. “Uncle?”

“Welcome to family life.” He gave Daniel’s hair a ruffle. His cell phone rang and he looked at the ID. He didn’t recognize it, but answered it anyway, recognizing the country code, forty-four, as a UK number.

“O’Neill. Yes. Who? When?” He found paper and took Daniel’s pen. “Fax it to me, please.” He gave the caller his on-line fax number and hung up. He took Daniel’s hands off the computer and tilted his chin up.

“Danny, Sarah Gardner is dead,” he said gently. Daniel was blank for a moment and then whitened. “Suicide. I’m sorry.”

 


 

Chapter 11

 

Daniel insisted on flying to England immediately and attending Sarah’s funeral the next day. He didn’t have his passport with him, so the Pentagon was kind enough to arrange the passage. Jack and Sam went with him. The president wasn’t happy about all three out of the country, and neither was Ninurta, but Daniel shut his ears as he read, over and over again, the note that had been found with Sarah, and faxed to Jack’s account.

“Daniel, I can’t go through that again. I’m sorry. I love you. Sarah.”

They attended her funeral, and Daniel took her immediate family aside and explained the meaning of the note. They were horrified, having no idea why she had disappeared for those years, or what had changed her when she returned. Now that the genie had been loosed, Daniel could tell her story.

Come Monday morning, Daniel stood at the podium, silent, the Eye of Ra pendent around his neck clasped in one hand. The packed room watched him, sensing something, and finally settled.

“A few of you here today have had the pleasure of working with Dr. Sarah Gardner,” he quietly began when he had silence. “Two days ago, I attended her funeral.” There was a shocked rustle among the crowd. “What you also don’t know is that Dr. Gardner was a victim of the enemy I will be discussing with you this week. She had been enslaved by the Goa’uld for several years before we captured her. Allies used an experimental process in an attempt to free her. They succeeded. Sarah, however, didn’t fully recover. As strong as she was, she could not face the risk of being enslaved once again if the Goa’uld took over Earth. I would like to dedicate the truths spoken here this week to Dr. Sarah Gardner.”

There were a thousand people sitting wall to wall in the University of Chicago’s largest auditorium, one camera feeding directly onto the internet for a live feed, and several other cameras dedicated to private viewers such as heads of state from all around the world. Daniel himself chose the interpreters, not trusting the political machine. Egypt had received an in depth preview so that they wouldn’t be shocked upon learning what had happened to their mythology. The Egyptian leaders were preparing a statement for the following week. Daniel felt that it was a good sign when he was declared a son of Egypt. As a show of good faith, he reserved several seats for whomever the Egyptian government decided to send. His guards were not happy about that, speculating on Islamic terrorist infiltrators. Daniel wasn’t in a mood to care.

He spent the first day on human origins and the history of the Goa’uld on Earth. Over and over, he showed images of artifacts with symbols no one had ever been able to decipher. Daniel deciphered it, and it wasn’t made by humans. On the second day, he introduced the Goa’uld themselves, where they come from, and how the symbiote interacts with the host. He made it a point that the host was not responsible for any atrocities committed.

The third day was spent discussing the various allies and their fight for freedom. The Asgard got the greatest attention, being the legendary “little gray men” and the Roswell incident. A few UFO fans gave a rebel cheer at being vindicated for their beliefs. Technologies were also introduced, minus mention of weapons, and that yes, a few of those ships over Colorado did indeed belong to Earth. Many cheers went up at that. Daniel made it a point to use Earth or Tau’ri in his references, and not a specific country. He promised that there were alien drugs being tested and they looked promising for quite a few human conditions. They were no-where near Stage 4 of clinical trials, though, so everyone would need to be patient.

Day four introduced the Stargate. The subject was completely unexpected and brought the viewers to a shocked stand-still. Daniel showed footage of an experiment he had done of walking into the event horizon and coming out on the other side, all the while having the camera on. Someone called out, “Hollywood magic!” which Daniel didn’t bother to respond to. He also ignored the rustle of the audience as he was pointing out something on the screen. A soft weight run up his back and settled onto his shoulders. Daniel paused, sighed, and continued with his seminar.

“Who’s your little buddy, Daniel?” someone from his private seating called out when he took a breath. There were chuckles from the audience.

“This is T’Keet,” he said. “She is a Sua cub. I showed you footage of the Sua on their home world. She and her father were the only members of her family who were not killed in a recent attack on their world. Her family was killed by Enlil, the same Goa’uld who tried to attack us over Colorado. T’Keet and her father were on board the Anunnaki ship when Enlil attacked her world, which is the only reason she’s alive.”

He took her paws and swung her around to his hip. “She is NOT an animal,” he emphasized. “Her people are as sentient as you or I. She is a person. A toddler. Still a little person, but a person all the same. She likes me, so she keeps disobeying her father to find me. You try saying No to a two-year old.”

He received loud laughter from the shell-shocked audience. T’Keet spooked and hid her face in Daniel’s side. He pet her and scratched an ear.

“Say Hi,” he encouraged her. She poked her head up after a moment and looked out at the sea of aliens.

Hiiiieeeee!”

If nothing else won over the audience, the cub did. Several times Daniel took her backstage to Jack, and several times she escaped and draped herself around Daniel’s shoulders, much to the amusement of the audience. If he had a mane, she’d be happily ensconced under it. Daniel made her useful during the last few hours by handing her a microphone and sending her scurrying up the aisles to various people he pointed out. She received lots of strokes along the way. Thankfully, no one asked how or why she was still on the planet.

Someone did ask about weapons, a topic Daniel had been expecting.

“According to this morning’s local news, a man shot and killed his family, several stores were robbed at gun-point, a bank was held up, a police officer was shot, and a child accidentally shot his little sister. In the international news, the entire Middle East is trying to commit genocide, the Bosnians and Serbs are at it, the Irish are fighting again, Tibet is still not free, North Korea is making nice with nuclear bombs, the US feels that spending billions of dollars on our own weapons program is more important than the feeding and health of her people, and poachers killed a rare white elephant in Africa. Why on Earth would you want advanced weapons?”

The silence was broken by one person standing up and clapping. Others soon followed until the entire hall was standing. Daniel gathered up the cub and walked off the stage. He was steaming. Of all the questions someone could have asked, of all the topics that had been introduced that week, it was weapons. Jack stopped him and put a hand on the side of Daniel’s face, looking intently into his eyes.

“They heard you, Danny,” he said. “Listen to them. They heard you.” He could see the strain on Daniel, the exhaustion of the week, of the past several weeks. This was a Daniel that was about to collapse.

“There’s a file on the destruction weapons have caused,” Daniel said after a moment. “I’d like Sam to present it.”

Jack nodded and went out onto the stage. There were two hours left to the day, and no one had left. The audience quieted as Jack stepped up to the podium.

“I’m Jack O’Neill, Brigadier General in the United States Air Force. Retired. Those are my kids out there among you. Where is Col. Carter?” he asked calmly. “Would you come up here, please? Ladies and Gentlemen, while Dr. Jackson rests for a moment, I’m going to ask Col. Samantha Carter to tell you all about advanced weapons. She’s our expert.” Sam wasn’t expecting to be a presenter, but she made her way up to the stage, anyway. She had startled the people she was near, not being in uniform. Jack brought up the file and she made a quick scan before gathering her thoughts.

One by one, she presented images on the screen. Daniel had collected some of the most horrific images they had in SGC files. The audience gasped at the destruction she showed them, from a single staff shot to before and after images of destroyed cities. She apologized for not being able to show them the after images of Abydos –there was nothing left to show.

The audience was silent as the images came to a stop. Jack walked back out, a hand on Daniel’s shoulder. Sam took a step behind Jack, her hands at rest behind her back.

“Dr. Jackson has given us the keys to the universe,” Jack said. “Let’s not give him cause to be sorry he did so.”

Being filled with academics instead of military, the auditorium was still shaking from stomping feet and cheering when Jack hustled Daniel out under the security of several guards. He wanted Daniel fed and watered and put to bed and God help the first person who woke him up.

Once back at the hotel, Daniel didn’t make it to the bedroom; he collapsed onto the couch. Jack stripped Daniel down to a t-shirt and underwear, and tucked him in with the spread from the unused bed in their bedroom.

“How is he?” Sam asked as she walked in the door. Michael was behind her.

“Exhausted,” Jack said. “One more day, and we go home.”

Sam squatted down next to Daniel, stroked his hair, and planted a light kiss on his cheek. There were circled under his eyelids and his eyes fluttered restlessly beneath their lids. She stood as the door opened again. Col. Reynolds and SG-3 came quietly in, along with Major Davis.

“Davis, stay here and play guard dog,” Jack said. “We are going downstairs for something to eat. I want no one in here, understand? Absolutely no one. Take the phones off the hook, put your cell on vibrate. I want him sound asleep for the entire night.”

“Yes, sir.”

Shortly after they left the room, the door opened again. Enki came in and waved the guard dog down, shushing him. He sat gently next to Daniel and put a hand on Daniel’s chest. He shut his eyes and concentrated. He bent close and whispered something into Daniel’s ear and stood up, Davis could see that Daniel was more relaxed and breathing deeply. Enki patted Davis on the cheek and left as quietly as he entered.

“Jack, you know you’re not supposed to be giving orders,” Reynolds said on their way downstairs. Jack looked at him and Reynolds raised a hand in surrender.

“I’m just sayin’….”

After a moment, Michael turned and introduced himself. Jack reluctantly introduced everyone. Jack’s older brother with the clerical collar was given a careful look over by SG-3.

“Kevin, when it comes to Daniel, I will give orders to whomever I need to give orders to,” Jack said quietly as they entered the hotel’s restaurant. The manager came and fussed over them, offering them a private dining room which Jack gratefully accepted and requested that a buffet be set up. A few other teams were walking into the lobby and followed.

“You know as well as I do that Daniel would walk off a cliff if it whispered nicely enough. The major is under no obligation to obey those orders, and as long as they don’t conflict with his standing orders, he’s free to do as he feels is right.”

“I understand that, Jack; I’m suggesting that you may be too close to the situation to see clearly,” Reynolds said gently as they took seats around the table.

“What else are you suggesting?” Jack asked. Not thinking clearly when it concerned SG-1 wasn’t anything new to Jack; he knew where his weaknesses lay. Reynolds’ men took seats, listening to a conversation they wouldn’t have the nerve to say to the general. Their CO and the general ‘grew-up’ together in the SGC, though, so there was a closeness that made free speech permissible outside the office.

“I’m suggesting this entire week may not have been the wisest choice,” Reynolds said. “If Daniel had suggested it to me, I would have hog-tied him until he got it out of his head. What’s he going to do after all this? Is he going to go home this weekend and continue with his life as it was? Jump back into the Mountain and wait until the Asgard unlock the gate so he can go off-world with another team? He’s just made himself the most wanted man on the planet, Jack. He may need to go off-world just to hide. All the religious freaks are going to be after his blood, the scientists are going to want to pick his brain apart, and the militants are going to want to torture him for weapons secrets. And now Sam is in the spotlight.”

Jack drank half the glass of iced tea that was placed in front of him. “I’m aware that this could go down badly, Kevin,” he said. “We’ve talked about it. There are a few details that need to be worked out, but there is a possibility in the works that would fix it. I need to think more on it. Whatever happens, no matter how we did this, the SGC won’t be the same. It won’t be run the same way, nor for the same reasons. A lot of reshuffling is coming down the line. Daniel wants to do his research. He wants to teach. He’s just re-written every history book in the world. He needs linguists and archaeologists who are willing to learn the new history and who are willing to listen to him. He’s only one person, he can’t do it all on his own nor is he self-centered enough to want to try. The only way he will be able to get the people the SGC will need, is to bring all this into the open and wait for his geeks to come out of the woodwork. The cards have been flung; let’s see which ones end right-side up.”

“And Col. Carter?”

“She’s overseeing R&D, which is what she wanted to do from the beginning. If she wants to be someplace else, she has a general she can submit the request to. She knows I’ll back her up in whatever she wants to do.”

“I’m fine, Kevin,” Sam assured Reynolds. “There is more happening than you know about. I appreciate your concern.”

“Jack, the colonel is right,” Michael put in after listening to them. He leaned forward, frowning in concern. “Daniel isn’t safe. I’m not blind to my more zealous brethren or to the Church’s history. My own faith is in crisis, and in one stroke, you may have toppled Peter’s Rock. The ramifications of these past few weeks are far deeper than you realize. The Vatican wants a chat with him. I personally received a call from Rome when Daniel refused the pope’s request for an interview. Forget that the pope is in charge of a religious denomination; the Vatican is its own country, Jack, and Daniel is snubbing his nose at the king of the country. Even the pope needs reassurances about all this. I actually spoke to him over the phone. Me, Jack, speaking with the pope. I told him everything I knew, but I couldn’t answer his questions past that. I know you’re not happy with me, and I’ve given you cause, but trust me in this; allow me to set up a meeting. Please. If people see that Daniel is playing nice, it may make things easier.”

Jack wasn’t happy about it, thinking as he played with his ring on Sam’s finger. “Talk to Daniel about it,” he finally said. “It’s his decision. If he wants to do it, I won’t stop him. One of those closed-circuit cameras went to the Vatican, though.”

Michael sat back, nodding, relaxing a bit. “Good,” he said. “It will allow the pope to formulate his questions. And I will talk with Daniel after he’s rested.”

The door opened and a man stepped in. Seeing all the military, he turned.

“Mark, come in,” Sam called out, waving him forward.

“Come on in, Mark, Susan,” Jack also offered. “Have a seat. Eat.”

Sam’s brother and sister-in-law both came hesitantly forward.

“Everyone, this is my brother Mark and his wife, Susan,” Sam said to the tables. Michael cheerfully ushered them to the civilian side of the table and held his hand out, introducing himself to his new in-laws.

Jack stood up and clinked a fork against his glass, getting everyone’s attention.

“I’m declaring this evening’s conversations to be work-free, alien-free, and serious discussion free,” he announced. “Anyone talking shop gets cub-sitting duties, and I can tell you, a Sua cub is like a toddler on speed.” The door opened and another group walked in. Jack sighed. “Let me rephrase: the discussions are not to include good aliens verses bad aliens, but you can discuss things WITH aliens.”

Inanna made a playful curtsey at him and Ninurta politely handed her into a chair.

“Now,” Jack continued in regal mode. “No using ranks, everyone has a first name. I want to hear about families and lovers and lives and the latest bad movie. Kevin, how are Mary and the kids?” He sat and waited as the buffet was set up. Reynolds filled Jack in on the latest from his kids. Sam’s family seemed a little shell-shocked so she got them talking about her niece and nephew.

“Gen… Jack, what do you think about the rescinding of gays in the military order from the president?” one of the men asked as they ushered the civilians before them to the buffet.

“I think as long as people keep their noses out of my bedroom, it’s a good thing,” Jack said with a raised eyebrow. “I know a couple other bedrooms that will now be safe, too. You’ve worked with several men, and women, that aren’t exactly straight arrows, Dean, how do you feel about it?”

Harper filled his plate as he moved behind Jack. “If you had asked me a couple years ago, I would have said abnormals had no business among us. I know now that they’re no different from us, they work just as hard as us. I admit that I’m still a little leery about the shower, sir. Sorry. Jack.”

Jack chuckled and returned to his seat. “Believe me, Dean, you’re not the one who has to worry about shower attacks. Unless Kevin is hiding something, though, you’re safe.” Sam heard him and laughed while Reynolds said something earthy in Jaffa to which Jack smiled appreciatively. Like the boys they are, the first thing they got Teal’c to teach them were the swear words.

“Look at it this way,” she said to Jack. “Daniel is too tired to be attacking anyone in the shower or anywhere else.”

Jack gave her that one.

“Sir… Jack, may I ask you something? Personal?” Bosco asked hesitantly. He glanced at his CO and lowered his eyes before looking back to Jack.

“You can ask,” Jack said. Bosco nodded.

“My son found one of those websites that talked about you and Daniel and Col…Sam. He asked me if it was true, and I told him it was. Two days later he told me he was gay. I don’t know what to say to him. He’s fourteen, how can he know what he is?”

Jack frowned and cleaned off a spicy wing.

“I honestly can’t give you a personal response on the gay issue, Jerry,” he admitted. “Daniel is the only man I’ve ever been attracted to. From what he’s told me, though, and just to be clear, he’s bi, not gay, he put it like this: how did you know you like women?”

Bosco thought about it. “I….just do,” he finally said. Jack nodded.

“It’s something you’ve always known, it’s something you feel instinctively inside you,” Jack put in. Bosco nodded. “I had to learn the hard way that we are who we are. I can’t tell you how to deal with your son but my advice, for what it’s worth, is to love him. Love him enough to allow him to find out for himself who he is.”

Bosco nodded and glanced at his CO. Reynolds gave him a nod, as did Harper and Kaplan. All his teammates were behind him. Jack approved; it made their unit stronger.

“A lot of people are coming out of the closet because of you three, Jack,” Michael said. “I’ve had several of my own parishioners come forward. They say they feel as though something has freed them. If General O’Neill can save the planet from alien invasion and still live with a man, why can’t they? Or a woman, as the case may be. I could go round and round with the gay vs. scripture issue, but people are no longer hearing it.”

“And Daniel interprets it differently from the Church’s interpretation,” Jack said. “He’s read it in the original languages, remember, and he knows how the laws came to be enacted. Believe me, Daniel gave us a lecture on the subject and it lasted a couple of days.”

SGC personnel around the room chuckled, knowing Dr. Jackson’s penchant for breaking into lectures at the drop of a hat.

“Jack, just out of curiosity, what did he say?” Susan asked.

“Since when do I listen when he goes into lecture mode?” Jack asked with a pained, constipated look.

“I think we are qualified to respond.” They looked down the tables to Inanna. Even Michael forgot that they were in the presence of mythological figures.

“The law was: a man was to enter only women while planting his seed. He may take a male lover, usually one of a lower caste, but he was not allowed to enter him. He had to keep himself clean for his wives. It was the entire entering thing that was outlawed, not the fact that a man loved a man. A few men were given for entrance, such as the temple prostitutes or certain types of slaves, but a man who used an equal in such a way, was equally punishable under the law. This was about power. The power of the temples over the people, and eventually the power of the government over the people. It originally had nothing to do with the will of the gods, nor was it an evil thing. It became evil when it was turned into a power struggle.

“Personally, I thought the whole issue was silly; if I can have an evening of peace and quiet while the boys are playing together, I will take it with great thanks.” Ninurta smiled at her and kissed her neck.

There were chuckles as everyone listened politely, thinking. “Wasn’t it a little hypocritical for the temples to allow male prostitutes and then not allow any other men to do that?” Sam asked. Inanna quirked her mouth.

“Samantha, dear, we are talking about men and religion, not logic.”

Jack humpfed as the women chuckled.

“That’s interesting,” Michael murmured. “Weren’t some of those temple prostitutes out of your own temples?”

“Yes,” Inanna acknowledged. “I don’t know how they got it into their heads that I’d want them to do that, I certainly never asked them to.”

“You didn’t stop them, though,” Michael put in.

“We were no longer on Earth when that began; I would have stopped the entire ‘worship’ thing, if I had known about it. I never asked to be worshipped.”

“Are you really six thousand years old?” Susan asked, wide-eyed. She quickly covered her mouth in embarrassment. “Oh, I’m sorry, that was rude. Don’t answer it.”

Inanna laughed. “I’m a lot older, actually,” she admitted. “My species doesn’t register time as you do.”

“Aren’t you human?” Sam asked.

“No,” Inanna said. Her hint of a smile indicated that she wasn’t going to expound on the subject. Sam was confused; the autopsies on dead Anunnaki said they were human.

“All matter is bound to the laws of physics,” Mark said.

“Yes, it is,” Inanna said. “But time is not a physical thing therefore it doesn’t have to obey those laws.”

“Time isn’t physical? Tell that to my gray hairs,” Mark commented. There were chuckles from nearby.

“Your gray hairs are time’s reflection upon the physical, not time itself,” Inanna said.

The geeks in the room were off and running with theoretical physics. Jack tuned out.

“Jonathan.”

He looked at Michael.

“Megan told us she’s pregnant.”

“I know,” Jack nodded. “She told me. Do not talk her into allowing Andrew back into the house.”

Michael sighed as he fiddled with his silverware. “Jack, I understand that we don’t want another child being hurt, I really do. At the same time, I need to consider the lack of a father in the house. Andrew lost it at his evaluation. He’s been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Joey convinced Megan to put a restraining order on him.” He was keeping his voice low and the family business to themselves.

“Good,” Jack said, digging into a piece of pie and ice cream. “The kids have you, me, and Dad. Daniel is Dad material; he’s great with kids, and our kids like him. They have plenty of father figures. Make it work, Michael, don’t make me take them out of their home.”

“You’d do that, wouldn’t you?” Michael asked, looking at his younger brother. Jack nodded.

“They’re my family, too,” he said. “If bringing them home with us is the only way they will be safe, that’s what I’ll do.”

Michael slowly nodded.

Jack soon discovered that he missed half the conversations going on around him due to zoning out. He was tired. A few of the others had left already. He leaned over and whispered to Sam. She nodded and he stood up.

“Everyone, this has been a very pleasant evening, but I’m tired and I haven’t properly kissed my wife, yet, today,” he said to appreciative chuckles. “Don’t leave on our account, stay and enjoy yourselves. Good night.”

Sam stood with him, gave her brother and Susan hugs, and linked her hand with Jack’s as they left. There was a man wearing a path in the carpet outside the door of the dining room when they left. The SF had been watching him.

“General O’Neill?” the man stepped up. Jack politely stopped and a couple of nearby SF took a step forward, startling the man. Jack waved them off. “I’m sorry to be in waiting like this, I didn’t want to interrupt your dinner. Martin Applegate.” He put a hand out and Jack took it. “I actually wanted to speak with Dr. Jackson, but it looks like he’s surrounded 24/7. Could I ask you to give these papers to him?” He handed Jack a folder. “They’re genealogy reports of my family. It’s a hobby of mine. If Dr. Jackson is interested, he does have blood relatives. I won’t bother him; my contact information is inside. His choice, sir. Please feel free to have your own people check out the information, if you’d like.”

The man wished them good night and left them in the hall. Jack looked at Sam and then back at the envelope.

Hokay,” Sam breathed. “Maybe we should have this checked out before getting his hopes up.”

Jack agreed with her suggestion. They had all had strangers trying the missing relative act, but this was the first person who had documents that supposedly proved it. And he was a hell of a lot more polite about it than the others. Jack opened the envelope and pulled out a handful of papers. There was a summary in the letter of introduction, telling Daniel that, basically, he had cousins on his father’s side, a branch off his grandfather’s sister. Distant, but still blood. It was a little convoluted, and Jack could see why the children services would have had a problem finding them when Daniel needed them all those years ago.

“I have a good feeling about this, Jack,” Sam said, reading over his arm.

“Yeah, let’s get it checked out anyway,” he said. “Even I could have forged this.”

They found Daniel still asleep on the couch and Davis in a chair reading a book.

“Did you eat, Major?” Jack asked quietly. Davis nodded.

“Yes, sir.”

Sam knelt next to Daniel, straightened the blanket, gave his hair a stroke, and kissed his temple.

“He hasn’t woken up?” Jack asked, peeling off his tie.

“No, sir,” Davis said. “He was restless, but Enki came in just after you left. He touched Daniel and then left. Daniel seemed to fall into a good sleep, whatever it was. I know you said not to let anyone in….”

Jack nodded thoughtfully. “It’s okay, Major. Does your spooky boyfriend do ID checks?” he asked. Davis considered correcting the general on the relationship, and then nodded without the correction. Jack handed him the envelope. “I have a job for him. Report to me, not Daniel.”

Davis was dismissed for the evening. Jack checked on Daniel who remained asleep during the conversation. He hoped the ID check panned out; he could tell Daniel felt a little left out when Jack and Sam’s family were nearby.

In the morning, Jack opened the door to find Shara and Gibil standing there, dressed in civvies, wearing identical innocent smiles.

“Good morning,” they greeted him cheerfully. Jack wasn’t buying it.

“What’d you do?” Jack asked, looking from one to the other. They brushed past him.

“Not a thing,” Shara assured him. “We are only here to escort you to the theatre- auditorium.”

Jack wasn’t going to trust those innocent faces; they were either up to something, or had been up to something.

“Is Major Davis in one piece this morning?” Jack asked.

Shara chuckled. “We have not touched the pretty prince in a few days,” he said. Jack’s cell phone rang and he answered it. He sighed and acknowledged the caller.

“Colonel Rappaport is dead,” he said upon hanging up. “Four down and how many to go?”

The warriors blinked at him.

A noise came from the direction of the couch. An arm reached up in a stretch. Jack could hear joints popping from across the room. He went over and saw Daniel gazing blurrily up at him.

“Why am I on the couch?” Daniel asked.

“Because you didn’t make it to the bedroom,” Jack answered. “Feeling alright?”

“Mmmm. Yeah. I must have slept pretty hard.”

“Almost twelve hours,” Jack said. “I was a little worried, but you were snoring away so I figured you were alive. We need to be at the university in two hours, can you eat?”

Daniel slowly sat up, twisting his back and neck, letting out more pops. “Yes, something light, though.”

Jack called room service while Daniel got into the shower.

While the stage was being set up and a last minute sweep of the room being done, Davis was doing his best to fend off the playful advances of Erra. Daniel smiled indulgently at them. One person was not amused. Daniel put a foot on a chair and tied the lace.

“He’d settle down, if the right man asked him to,” he murmured. Nick glared at him, didn’t say anything. Daniel was getting used to Nick walking around glaring at everyone and everything. For some reason, Davis was one of the few who wasn’t intimidated by the man.

The last day of the seminar was a Q&A day. Daniel had the podium taken away and chairs placed on the stage. He insisted on Jack, Sam, and Paul joining him since not all the questions were going to be in his realm of knowledge. He refused to put a tie on, saying he wanted the last day to be comfortable and relaxed. Jack agreed to wear something that actually fit and wasn’t three sizes too big, Sam and Davis had their uniforms on.

It didn’t matter if Daniel was talking to one person or a thousand; he remained himself and paced free and easy as he spoke. Jack was always nervous talking to crowds, but hid it in a show of bravado. It never seemed to occur to Daniel to be nervous. It must be the teacher thing, because Sam could talk in front of crowds, too, and she sometimes guested at a class at the academy.

Someone asked about the Goa’uld language and Daniel was off and running. He dragged out a whiteboard and scribbled all over it in something only a portion of the audience could understand. Daniel barely acknowledged the thud to his shoulders. He took the tail, dangled her over someone, and let her drop. A moment later he could hear hoots of Sua laughter as she was tickled and entertained.

“Dr. Jackson, can we ask exactly how you became a father to an alien child?”

Daniel paused in his scribbles as people chuckled. He considered several answers.

“Alien sex, there’s a concept,” he murmured. Davis flushed and didn’t say anything. “She just likes me because I smell like her own father. Now, about this Linear B….”

He paused again, hearing a yelp. He looked over at his panel to see Jack holding his side. T’Keet was hanging upside down from his neck, her tiny, sharp teeth gnawing on his shirt at belly distance.

“What?” Jack lifted an innocent hand. “She has sharp teeth.” She popped Jack on his cheek with a furry foot which he caught and bit, pretending to growl. T’Keet howled and popped him on the nose with the other foot. Jack let the foot go and sputtered fur out of his mouth.

“As long as she doesn’t bite any lower,” Daniel said, shaking his head at their antics, much to the amusement of everyone else.

That led to a discussion on Sua family structure and biology, which they filled in as best they could, minus Davis’ personal knowledge which he was grateful for. The biologists in the audience were surprised to find out that there were mixed species. Daniel brought up a few images from Serrakin showing everyone Sam’s friend, Warrick, and several half-human, half-Serrakin off-spring. The arguments on that one were loud and long, which Sam did her best to answer while using the whiteboard for equations. Enki walked out onto the stage and politely held out a hand into which Sam placed the marker. He corrected a couple of her equations and added some of his own. He handed the marker back, tweaked her cheek, and left. Jack handed him the cub on his way past. So far, no one was taking responsibility for letting her out of the ship; Jack suspected sneaky warriors at play. Or a sneaky bird who hadn’t been around lately.

Noooo…. J’ck!” T’Keet wailed, holding her arms out pitifully over Enki’s shoulder. Jack tried to block out her cries, having just as hard a time of it as he did when his own kid did it, making him feel like a toad. Daniel ignored the requests for identification. He wasn’t ready for that particular riot.

“Dr. Jackson, did I hear you correctly? The males of the Sua raise the children? In a polyandry household?” someone asked. Daniel nodded. Polyandry was rare on Earth, with most of the instances lost in the past.

“The social structures out there are as varied as they are here,” he said, waving a hand at the roof. He went on with examples from one end of the spectrum to the other.

“And why does the cub keep coming to you? You said you smell like her father?”

“Her people say my scent reminds her of her father,” Daniel confirmed. “I was also the first human she met, and that makes an impression. She usually comes to me first, Gen. O’Neill second, and Major Davis third. She’ll go to Col. Carter once in a while, but it doesn’t occur to her to see Col. Carter as a caregiver because the males are the caregivers.”

“Alright, but why you three? There are lots of other men around.”

Daniel looked at his squad. Everyone shrugged and gave a nod.

“Okay, so much for no personal questions,” he said, rubbing his jaw. “It’s an imprinting thing. Me, because, as I said, my scent. At first she went to Maj. Davis because he and I were seeing each other and she could smell me on him. The Sua nose is better than any truth serum. We split up and she began going to Jack because I started seeing him and Sam. Again, my scent. This arrangement is also something she would consider normal because her mother had three consorts. The consorts raised the cubs, she goes to the consorts. I think she’s missing her other fathers who were killed in the attack on her home world. She is a baby, remember, she doesn’t understand. Her remaining parent finds it amusing that she comes to me.”

There was still some confusion out there.

“But how do they identify which is the biological father if there is more than one consort?” someone asked.

“They don’t,” Daniel said. “The cubs belong to the mother. Period. In fact, they don’t have a word for father in their language. There is an honorific which identifies the maternal parent’s consort, but nothing for paternal, not outside of a scientific need, the other of her DNA, should that need arise. Social structure dictates that mature children don’t mate within their immediate household; other than that, love rules the moment.”

He dove into the biological process of Sua males and went from there to the Jaffa family unit, and into other cultures that they had run across.

“Now, your little one there, who will she mate with if she isn’t home?”

“We don’t know she’s a she,” Daniel said. “We use the feminine to refer to her because we can’t pronounce the Sua word. The feminine is closer than the masculine, so we use it. Her gender won’t actually form until puberty, which is at about six Earth years of age. And no, her DNA isn’t telling us. It’s asexual, at the moment. We couldn’t bring ourselves to call her It. Too rude in our society. But she has a long time before she is ready for a mate, and there are others of her kind around, so she’ll be fine.”

Daniel read a few responses and questions from a monitor which was hooked up to the private video feeds. The audience couldn’t see the names taped to the front of the monitors and Daniel wouldn’t say who was sending the questions.

“General O’Neill, will the enemy ship return and how will we defend ourselves if it brings reinforcements?” he read.

“There is the possibility of a return,” Jack admitted. “But remember, we’ve had visitors for thousands of years, so this isn’t new. So far, we’ve won five battles for our planet. Colorado was only the latest. We have an excellent ground force and an excellent air force. This is not a completely American venture; we are joined by the Canadians, Russians, French, German, British. A few others. For the moment. More countries are in negotiations to hop on board. Our fighters are top notch. Now that the cat is out of the bag, and I don’t mean T’Keet, armed forces around the world are choosing their best fighters to receive special training in alien techniques. Those people will train their troops. No, we are not giving jets to everyone. Any country that harbors terrorists or does not have the good of the planet at heart, will not receive a jet. The material needed to make those jets does not exist on this planet and it’s in short supply. And no, we have not been able to replicate the material. The jets will not be used in planetary warfare; they are too valuable to waste on petty tribal complaints. And I can tell you that as we speak, there are several jets in a high altitude orbit. As of this morning, they have taken out three terrorist bombs that were launched at this building this week. A fourth was launched at Cheyenne Mountain.”

Even Sam and Daniel looked at him in surprise. Jack had been keeping secrets again. Davis didn’t blink. When the audience calmed down, “We know who lobbed them, and they are being dealt with,” Jack continued. “The bombs themselves were neutralized, not the cowards who pressed the buttons. Notice there has been no retaliation, so I don’t want to hear whiners complaining about big, bad Americans with their big, bad toys. We’re not the ones kicking up sand in the playpen.”

“As for the Goa’uld Enlil, we don’t know where he is. Licking his wounds, more than likely. When he left, though, he was being chased by an Asgard ship and one of ours, the Prometheus, so I’m not worried about it. Now that we’re not cloaked anymore, planetary security is being worked on and steps are being taken to establish routine sweeps of the solar system.”

“Sir, what about NASA?” someone called out.

“NASA’s job is to explore the solar system, not defend the planet. We’ll take care of the little gray guys, let NASA figure out how planets are formed. Unless Col. Carter has already done that?” He looked at her. Sam shook her head.

“I blow up solar systems, not dig in the dirt. No offense, Daniel.” The chuckling audience didn’t realize that she was serious. Astronomers were still trying to figure out why a distant solar system suddenly blew up.

“None taken,” he responded with a smile. He looked at one of the monitors. “Can you comment on the turmoil in the religious community?” he read. Daniel sighed and paced a little.

“I’m not going to advise anyone on what they should and shouldn’t believe,” he said. “My opinion is that religion should be a personal matter, not one for organizations to dish out. My own beliefs are not relevant to anyone else. The world’s religions all contain a beauty of their own, and I think that if you accept the moral and ethical teachings that work for you, you won’t have a conflict.”

A man immediately raised his hand. Jack held his tongue.

“Michael, I know what you’re going to say,” Daniel acknowledged the man with the white collar. “Father Mike is concerned about the definition of a Christian and the New Testament. I’m not going to tell you how I think you should fix it, Mike. I’m not going to tell anyone how to deal with their spiritual beliefs. I won’t do it on other planets, I’m certainly not going to start here. If your beliefs work for you, if your faith is true, nothing that happens will be able to shake that faith. You may need to do a little reinterpreting of definitions, but your faith will remain.”

“Father Mike is my brother,” Jack offered. “You can imagine the conversations around our dinner table.” He put an arm around Sam’s shoulders and patted Daniel on a nearby thigh.

There were a few chuckles from the audience.

“Everyone, I want to re-emphasize something,” Daniel said. “The System Lords, who call themselves gods, only took the names and myths from us; they are not actually those deities. The Goa’uld are sociopaths. You cannot allow their existence to shake you. You may continue with your daily lives and not fear that maybe you are being hypocritical in your faith. All you need to concern yourselves with IS yourself. Keep your heart open, love each other, be good neighbors. The rest will fall into place.”

He waited until the applause died down.

“There is nothing out there that threatens your faith unless you allow it to,” he said quietly. “My faith is in my family, and in myself.” He stood behind Jack and put a hand on Jack’s shoulder. “If you are feeling threatened, I suggest you look within.”

A question popped in on a monitor.

“Are these System Lords truly lost? Can they not be reasoned with at all? Are you sure you are not biased in your opinion of them?” Daniel read out loud. “I want to show you something.”

He showed them tapes of various System Lords in full lordly mode, identifying each of the creatures for the audience, he showed images of destroyed cities and worlds, and then a tape of Sarah’s transformation from Goa’uld back to her normal, soft-spoken self. Once more, people gasped. Those who knew Sarah couldn’t believe that the glowing eyed, snarling being was actually her. The Tok’ra surgeon deftly removed the Osiris symbiote from the young woman and tossed it to the floor where another operative zatted it.

“That is what we are up against, folks,” Daniel said. “That operation cannot be counted upon, it is still in trials stage and it doesn’t always work. The host is usually dead long before the symbiote is removed. The symbiote can kill the host from within. Sarah survived, but she was unable to deal with the mental horrors that she remembered. The Goa’uld don’t care what language you speak, what flag you wave, your gender, or your skin color. And the only religion they care about is you worshipping them. We need to be united in the fight against this threat, instead of concentrating on these petty wars against ourselves. They cannot be reasoned with, they cannot be trusted. They are sociopaths. We must not imitate them by insisting that your god is better than my god.”

Daniel declared a two hour break and walked off the stage. He collapsed on the couch in the sound room. Sam and Davis walked into the room behind him. Davis had the laptop which he put on the table before grabbing a bottle of juice and gulping it down. Sam hefted Daniel up, sat behind him, and he sank into her as she held him and stroked his hair. The Dean fluttered in to check on them and jumped aside as Enki and Ninurta came in. There was something about a few of these strangers that had been roaming around, but the man didn’t know what it was. Jack poured coffee and cut off a large chunk of coffee cake. He held it up to Daniel but got his hand pushed away.

Dumunita, you’re expending too much energy,” Enki gently told him.

“I’m fine, Aba, just tired. Come down here,” Daniel said, pulling on Jack’s shirt. He kissed Jack, hanging on with an arm around Jack’s neck, slowly drinking him in. Jack let him take what he needed and Daniel began to relax. He let Jack go, turned onto his side, and curled up into Sam’s chest, nesting his ear against her heart. He was asleep within minutes.

“He should have stretched this out, a couple days a week,” Davis commented. He politely ushered the Dean out, having only noticed the man hovering. Daniel was one of their own, and the university was going out of its way to welcome their son back into the fold. Especially since they didn’t do right by him years earlier. Jack bit into the coffee cake and nodded. Enki looked at him curiously.

“Jack, let me see your hand?” he asked. Jack looked at him and wiped his hand on his pants before holding it out. Enki held it for a moment, his eyes shut, and then released it.

“What?” Jack asked.

Enki shook his head in thought. “Nothing,” he said. “Just curious. Would you try an experiment for me? Sit next to them, on the floor. Put the cake down. Shut your eyes. I want you to imagine that the air around you is crackling with electricity. I want you to order it. Call it together just as you would a group of raw recruits. They all come together, forming an orderly line. Stretch out your right hand and place it on Daniel. I want you to order your recruits to march forward.”

Jack felt like an idiot as he did it. After a moment, Daniel moved slightly beneath his hand; he snuggled deeper against Sam and lightly snored.

“Good,” Enki said quietly. Ninurta quirked an eyebrow and gave a reluctant nod. Jack opened his eyes.

“What was that all about?” he asked.

“Jack, when the Ancients opened your mind, they did more than download information,” Enki told him. The talking didn’t seem to be disturbing Daniel. They had seen Daniel sleep through bombardments. “The average human mind uses about seven to ten percent of its capacity, depending on which study you read. The Ancients downloaded into almost ninety percent, which is why you were unable to deal with it. The Asgard fixed that, but those areas of your brain are still open, now that the connections have begun firing. That exercise was a simple one; I had you stretch out with your mind and gather the energy from the space around you, and then transfer it into Daniel. He was low on energy; he had been working with his reserves for days now. He needs to learn how to tap into the energy himself. He can, he just doesn’t know it. Anyone can, actually, it’s a simple thing any child can learn.”

“Are you saying he can do what the Ancients could?” Sam asked.

Enki shrugged. “No reason why he can’t,” he said. “He did Ascend. Twice. It’s all a question of mind over matter. Literally. I recommend you take up meditation, Jack. The Jaffa’s kel’no’reem is a good one. Daniel can teach you.”

“Enki, I can’t do that stuff,” Jack insisted. “Just listening to those two go on gives me a headache. Sorry, honey.” She shook her head.

“It gives you a headache because you are trying to process the information in too many places at once,” Enki said. “It isn’t what they are saying, it’s how you are listening. Actually, ask Daniel to teach you how to fly.”

“I’m a pilot, Enki, I know how to fly,” Jack reminded him. “Daniel doesn’t know one end of a jet from another.”

“This is a different type of flying. Daniel will know what it means.”

“If I’m interpreting this correctly, you’re talking about an obscure section of quantum theory,” Sam commented. “There’s no proof humans can manipulate matter in the manner you are suggesting.”

At the word ‘quantum’ Jack picked up his cake and coffee and tuned out.

“What is the body made of?” Enki asked.

“Particles of matter.”

“Is the body so dense that it is able to stop particles from floating through it?”

“No.”

“What are thoughts?”

“Particles hitting the neurons.”

“If the particles around us are able to speed through the body, why can they not hit a neuron or two on their way? What keeps the particles together that make up our bodies? Why can’t the particles of our mind decide to float on out and hit someone else’s neurons? If you can specify a neuron juncture to bring up a memory, why can’t you send the particle out and tell it to bring up someone else’s memory? If you can manipulate particles in your own mind toward specific memories or thoughts, why can’t you tell the particles of, say, that chair, to change their color?”

Sam stared wide-eyed at him, trying to find the words. Enki looked at the green chair and an instant later it was red. Jack almost dropped his coffee as he choked on a piece of coffee cake. Sam was glad she was lying down, or she would have fallen over. Davis abruptly stood and looked at the chair he was sitting on, making sure it was still the same puke green.

“Mind over matter,” Enki said kindly. He gave her a pat and took himself out of the room, Ninurta following behind him.

“Damn,” Sam whispered after a moment. “Daniel picks the damnedest times to be out of it.”

“What the hell was that?” Jack asked, looking accusingly at the now red chair. “Davis, they’re not human.”

“Sir, beggin’ your pardon, but they are,” Davis insisted. “Bodies have been autopsied, and Ninurta’s medical records are on file. They are completely human.”

“Last night, Inanna said she wasn’t,” Sam reminded Jack.

“Then what are they?” Jack demanded. Daniel continued his light snoring.

 

 

 

End Part 1