"So you know what this means, Captain?"
"Uh -- no, not exactly, Sir."
Colonel Cameron looked down his nose at his "expert" Captain Mulrooney.
"Not 'exactly'? What exactly does 'not exactly' mean, Captain?"
"It kind of means -- that I wish Doctor Jackson were here, Sir. This is really his area of expertise."
Cameron sighed; a long, tired sigh. He glanced back at the markings in the ground and his shoulders slumped. Doctor Jackson meant SG-1, which in turn, meant his good buddy, Jack O'Neill.
Cameron sighed again. "Lieutenant, call it in, request Doctor Jackson's presence."
Lieutenant Randolph nodded. "Yes, Sir."
Daniel didn't look up as Jack entered his office, choosing instead to keep his eyes on the computer screen and saying casually, "The usual. Nothing."
Jack grinned. "I knew it. All these years, fooling everyone into thinking you were such a busy bee. But no wool over my eyes, Daniel. No, sir."
"You're just too smart for me, Jack."
Doing a fine imitation of a peacock, Jack said, "Yep," then repeated his question. "So, whatcha doing?"
"Surfing the net for porn. I do this everyday from two to four -- if I'm not off world."
Jack moved quickly to stand behind his archaeologist, then peered over his shoulder. "Uh, Daniel? All I see are glyphs."
"Yeah, but their pornographic glyphs."
Jack shook his head, then lightly bopped Daniel on the back of his head as he said fondly, "Jerk."
Rubbing the spot just swatted by his friend, Daniel responded without looking up from the screen, "That's a given, Jack. And by the way, can I do anything for you?"
"I'm bored," Jack whined.
"Well, I'm not allowed to come out and play today, Jackie, I have homework to do."
Jack pulled something out of his pocket and dangled it in front of Daniel's face. "I'll give you my best yo-yo if you play with me, Danny," he tempted.
"Oooh, your best yo-yo?" Daniel still hadn't lifted his eyes from the screen and even as he talked, he scribbled urgently.
"You know it. And it's all," Jack let it swing enticingly, "yours, Danny-boy."
"Well, that'd be cool and all, but I don't know how to use a yo-yo, Jack, so shoo and don't let the door hit you on the way out."
"Wait, you don't know how to use a yo-yo? You never had one as a kid?"
Daniel pointed a finger at his glasses and said while wiggling said finger, "Science geek here, Jack. You know, nerdy, books, microscopes, fossils, pyramids made out of mashed potatoes, rock collections? But alas, no yo-yos."
"Daniel, I'm here to tell ya, you were a deprived kid. A boy has got to have a yo-yo."
Daniel just shrugged and kept right on writing.
"Buddy, pal, you gotta let me show you how to use this. You'll love it, trust me."
Daniel put his pen down carefully. He took off his glasses, pinched the bridge of his nose, put them back on, and finally swiveled around on his stool. "Jack, I don't really--"
That was as far as he got. Jack took his right hand and immediately slid the looped end of the yo-yo over Daniel's middle finger.
"Okay, we're talking simple here, Daniel. I know you can do this. Now, you flip it off your palm, then just as the yo-yo comes to the end of the string, snap your wrist and it will come back up."
Daniel looked down at the plastic, cherry red orb in his hand as if it were an alien. He looked up at Jack. He looked back at the yo-yo. "Um, Jack? I really need to--"
"Aw, come on, please? Try it for me?"
Daniel gazed into pleading chocolate brown eyes. God, he was a sucker for those particular brown eyes. "Jack," he finally said, "science geeks aren't known for their coordination, you know?"
Jack placed his hand beneath Daniel's warm one and gave a little push. "Go 'head. Try it."
Looking less than enthused and very skeptical, Daniel nevertheless let the yo-yo roll out of his palm. It unwound quickly and as Jack said,"Now, Daniel, now, snap your wrist!" Daniel snapped his wrist.
The yo-yo spun at the end of the string, then just sort of -- died. Daniel stared down at it, cocked his head, and said knowingly, "See? Told you so."
"Aw, Danny, don't worry, I'll teach you." Jack took Daniel's arm as he said, "Okay, now stand up here." He positioned Daniel so that his back was to Jack. "Good, yeah, just like that. Now I'm going to take your arm and give you a little help--"
Jack took Daniel's arm, moved close enough so that they were touching -- and Daniel took in a sharp breath.
"All right, let's rewind the yo-yo first."
Daniel gulped. "Rewind -- the yo-yo?"
"Well, duh. Just, here, let me," Jack pulled on the string until he had his yo-yo in hand. "There, you just wind the string back around the yo-yo, like this, see?"
"Uh-huh," Daniel managed to say. God, he could feel Jack's breath on his cheek. This was not good.
The phone rang. Daniel sighed in relief. Gee, saved by the bell. He started to move away, but Jack's hand was once again wrapped around his, the yo-yo nestled in his palm. He started to clear his throat when Jack simply reached over and picked up the receiver.
"Doctor Jackson's office, Colonel O'Neill speaking. Oh? Well, yes, of course, Sir. Understood, Sir. General? SG-1 could --oh, very good, Sir. Thank you, Sir." Jack hung up.
Jack was still chest-to-back with Daniel, Daniel's hand still in his. He gave no immediate sign of moving.
"That was General Hammond?"
"Oh. Yeah. Seems SG-5 needs you on P9U-069. I suggested we all go, since, well, since we aren't scheduled off-world for another couple of days--"
"Oh. I see. Then maybe -- we should -- move?"
Daniel noticed the distinct lack of movement. "Jack?"
Still no movement. And -- Jack seemed to be resting his cheek against--
The warm large hand holding his was gone. Daniel almost groaned. Jack stepped away, the yo-yo dropping into Daniel's open hand.
"Right. SG-5. I'll let Carter and Teal'c know. Meet you in the 'Gate room in thirty, Daniel."
Daniel was left alone -- holding Jack's yo-yo.
Damn, that had been strange. Unrequited love wasn't supposed to feel like this. The object of one's unrequited love wasn't supposed to spoon up behind you and--
Daniel gave up thinking and started packing his backpack.
Jack walked out into the hall, closing Daniel's door behind him. For a moment, he closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. As he exhaled, he shook his head hopelessly. That had been close. Too close. His lips poised over Daniel's jaw and it would have been so easy to follow that fine masculine line to those lips--
Jack straightened his shoulders and headed for Carter's office.
"Okay, this is different," Jack said as he and his team stepped out of the wormhole.
Different, Daniel thought, was a slight understatement. He felt as though he were in a cartoon. A really beautifully drawn cartoon.
"My God, Sir, the colors," Carter said in an awestruck voice.
P9U-069 was the most incredible planet any of them had ever seen. The colors were bright, almost as if a child had taken a box of the brightest crayons and just started coloring. The sky, was a sparkling teal blue, the sun a bright, rich, lemon yellow. But there, the similarities to Earth ended. The many trees had few branches and fewer leaves, but the colors were astounding. While the trunks and branches were indeed brown, the shades of brown blew SG-1 away. The few leaves dazzled the eye as they blew lightly in the breeze, their colors ranging from a magnificent violet, a burnt gold, a deep wine red, and a velvety royal purple. The grass was a rich burgundy in color and the few flowering plants that they could see were all shades of neon orange, red and green bordered by pastel shades of blue. The stems and leaves were lavendar.
"The trees -- they don't look real," Daniel observed, his tone almost reverent. "They look more like--"
"Jewels," Carter supplied.
Daniel nodded, an awestruck grin on his face.
"Well, let's connect with SG-5," Jack said.
As they started out, Jack looked over at Daniel and asked, "What's the scoop on P9U-069?"
"As I understand it, the UAV found a stone arch and a few miles behind it, the ruins of a village. We translated the arch and apparently this planet was home to four nations, each with a similar arch that welcomed visitors to their territory. The language on the arch found by the UAV was a version of Eteo-Cretan--"
"Wait, Daniel. If the writing was Eteo-Cretan, how did anyone decipher it?" Carter asked, stunned.
"Uh, Carter? Since when do you know languages?"
"Sir, you can't hang around Daniel for very long and not pick up something."
Jack's sunglasses bobbled on his nose as he said, "Oh. Sure. Naturally."
Hiding his grin, Daniel said, "Eteo-Cretan is very closely related, phonetically speaking, to Etruscan--"
"Yes, but still, the actual writings have never been--"
"---so once," Daniel continued as if Sam hadn't spoken, "I caught the similarities between what we found on the obelisk on P2R-291 and I was able to crack the code, so to speak."
Carter came to a standstill, then turned to stare at Daniel. She held out a hand and placed it on Daniel's chest. "Wait. Are you saying that you can now translate Eteo-Cretan writings? On Earth?"
Looking distinctly uncomfortable, Daniel kind of shuffled a bit, then said, "Well, yeah."
"Uh, Carter? Why so excited?" Jack asked, puzzled. "This is what Daniel does."
"Sir, don't you get it? Those writings have been, I mean, this is, this is just -- incredible. Why haven't we, I mean, there's been no mention of it, Daniel--"
"Sam? Who can I tell?"
Daniel had pushed his glasses to the top of his head and Sam was caught in the innocent blues staring back at her. For a moment she was speechless, then--
"Daniel, there must be some way--"
He shook his head, a small smile playing over his lips. " 'Fraid not, Sam. Besides, it's no biggie. Anyone could have done it with the information from P2R-291."
"Oh, really? If I recall, Doctor Leander was the linguist on that mission, did he figure it out?"
"Well, no, not exactly."
Tapping her military boot with great precision, Sam added, "And how 'bout Doctor Smythe? Or Higgins? Or maybe Carlson?"
"Well, they did make a stab at it--"
The tapping stopped. "Daniel, are you saying it went to all of them first?"
Daniel scrunched up his face, then looked down at the ground and kicked at a clod of magenta-colored grass. "Well, yes."
Jack was looking from Carter to Daniel and back again. He changed direction and looked over at Teal'c, who simply raised an eyebrow and said, "I believe that what Major Carter is alluding to, is the fact that the greatest linguists of the SGC--"
"And thus our world, Teal'c," Sam added without taking her eyes from Daniel.
"Oh, I wouldn't say that, Sam," Daniel said, his eyes still on the ground. "There's Doctor Hsiang Mang and Doctor Anya Vuoriskosky and--"
"Daniel, the point is, you were the one who was able to do it."
With a grunt of disgust, Carter put her glasses back on and turned away.
"Gee, Daniel, I think that means we can continue. Whatcha think?" Jack asked.
"I think you're right, Jack. Sam has definitely given permission to continue."
"Sweet. So, care to continue telling me about this planet and SG-5?"
"Oh, yeah. Anyway, from the writings on the arch, I was able to ascertain that there might be some very interesting agricultural finds on the planet, so General Hammond assigned it to SG-5."
Jack looked around him and nodded cagily. "Oh, yeah. I can see where reading some stone archway could tell you that, Daniel."
Daniel rolled his eyes.
"So what is it that SG-5 found, DanielJackson, that now requires your physical presence?"
"Well, Teal'c, apparently they found the village and a large building with something in the floor. Captain Mulrooney was unable to translate, so here I am. Or should I say, here we are."
Further conversation was stalled as Carter pointed to something several yards away. "There it is, the arch."
All four stopped again. Jack whistled. "Sure beats that thing in St. Louis."
Daniel took off on a run, the others soon following. When Daniel reached the base of the structure, he pushed his hat from his head as he gazed up in wonder.
"Wow," he said breathlessly.
The others came along side of him, also breathless.
"Wow," Jack said. "The UAV didn't really do it justice."
"No, Sir, it didn't."
Daniel touched the engraved words and symbols, elegant fingers tracing gently. "This really is amazing," he said, his voice holding all his wonder.
"How much farther to the village, Carter?"
"Less than thirty minutes walking time, Sir."
"Let's get cracking, gang."
Colonel Cameron spotted SG-1 first. He groaned. He'd known that once Jackson had been requested, he'd end up with the entire team. Damn O'Neill. Now he'd have to act as though eggshells surrounded Jackson.
Man, where were the good old days, the days when O'Neill thought Jackson was a useless geek, or better yet, when he wasn't talking to him at all?
"Heads up, people. SG-1 is about to join us."
A few moments later, he was shaking hands with O'Neill while Mulrooney led Jackson toward the structure in question.
"What's up, Mick?"
Cameron shrugged. "Wish I understood, Jack. We were doing pretty well, soil samples, etc., then Mulrooney went in there." He pointed to the large stone building their scientists had just entered. "The place was chock full of the kind of stuff that tends to make Mulrooney go all goo-goo eyed."
"I know that look," Jack said with a smirk.
Both men laughed, then Cameron added, "Mulrooney figures it was a library of sorts. While he was looking around, he found another room and what he discovered in there, well, that's why we sent for Jackson."
"A room? Just -- a room, Mick?"
"Maybe it would be better if I showed you?"
"Maybe it would."
Leaving Teal'c on guard and Carter with Doctor Linder, SG-5's agricultural expert, Jack followed Cameron into the "library."
Daniel walked into the huge cavernous space, pivoting around as he walked, trying to see everything at once. His mouth was slightly open as he gazed up at walls covered with inscriptions and shelves filled with books. Real books.
"Don't get too interested, Daniel. The books will turn to dust the moment you touch them."
"But books, Kev?"
With a smile, Kevin Mulrooney, a black Irishman in his early forties, said, "Yeah, amazingly enough. A few covers were even readable and from the looks of them, they didn't belong to the people of this planet. Totally inconsistent with the writings on the wall and the archway."
"I've got to see--"
Mulrooney held up a hand. "You will, but first, this." They'd come to a wall with several reliefs carved into it. Mulrooney pushed one of them and a door slid open. "You are not going to believe this."
Daniel followed Kevin through the door and into a large room. A room filled with a strange yellowish light. Gazing around, Daniel quickly noted the complete absence of any halogen lamps. Stunned, he asked, "How in the--"
"The walls. The stones used to carve out this room have a quality similar to phosphorous. A natural lighting."
"Kev, this is something Sam should be called in about, not me. Have you found any more of this rock?
"The material isn't why you're here. That is," Kevin said as he pointed to the ground.
Daniel moved up beside him, his gaze following Kevin's hand. Eyes going wide, Daniel slowly knelt down in the soft dirt. "Did anyone disturb anything? Touch anything?"
"Are you kidding, Daniel? I know better. Until it's discovered what that circle means, or is, or does, no one was allowed anywhere near it. We took pictures and that's it."
Daniel looked up, then gazed around the room. No other carvings on the walls, no decorations or symbols, nothing. Just this huge circle in the middle of the room. A circle with even stranger writings carved within what looked like a five inch, solid gold border.
"Do you know the writings? Look at all familiar?"
"You mean you could actually translate this?"
"I think so. Yeah." Daniel pointed to his right and said, "This grouping is very similar to the language of the Ancients, but over here, it's like they threw in some Leptonic for the heck of it. But over here, we have a variation of the writings of the Furlings, yet here," he pointed to the bottom, we have a combination of Eteo-Cypriot and Eteo-cretan, and over here, ancient cuneiform."
Daniel sat back on his heels, pushed his hat back off his head, then said, "Kev, this is -- unbelievable."
"Don't I know it."
Daniel immediately dug into his backpack and pulled out first his recorder, then his notebook and a pencil. As he held the camera up, a voice boomed out from somewhere behind him.
"There's nothing in here, Cameron."
Daniel chuckled, then waved an arm as he said, "Jack, the nothing is over here, on the floor." He continued filming as Jack and Colonel Cameron joined he and Kevin.
"What the hell?" Jack whispered.
"Major Carter, we appear to have company."
Sam glanced up from where she was gathering samples. "Company?"
Teal'c nodded. "For an uninhabited planet, it would appear to be rather crowded." As he spoke, he readied his staff weapon.
Sam got quickly to her feet, eyes scanning the group of men walking toward them. They wore little and carried -- spears. She pressed her mike. "Colonel, we have company out here. Armed company, if you count spears."
As she spoke, the rest of SG-5 began to take up defensive positions.
Sam's voice crackled over the mike in Jack's ear and he winced, then said, "Roger, Carter, we're on our way out." He turned to Cameron. "We've got problems outside. Let's go. Daniel, you stay here--"
Daniel scrambled to his feet. "Stay here? You want your linguist to stay here?"
"My linguist will be all that we need, Jackson," Cameron stated roughly.
Mulrooney ducked his head and waited for the explosion. It didn't come. Surprised, he looked up to find Daniel back on the ground, camera to his eye.
Waving a hand mindlessly, Daniel said, "Fine, fine, go. Have fun. Be nice."
As the three military men walked out, Daniel set the timer on his watch.
Colonel Cameron exited the structure first and nearly stumbled at the sight that greeted him. SG-5, Major Carter and the Jaffa were -- prisoners. He started backward, but as he did, his P-90 flew from his hand as it was torn from his shoulder.
A moment later, another P-90, Jack's, flew through the air.
"Oh, I really don't like this," Jack muttered even as strong arms were reaching for him.
Five minutes later, and not quite certain how, he, Carter, Teal'c, Cameron, and the rest of SG-5, were grouped together and surrounded by men in white loincloths, painted faces, feather headdresses and large, pointy and very sharp, spears.
"Mulrooney, say something to them," Cameron ordered.
Mulrooney frowned, nodded, then raised a hand slowly. "I'm Captain Kevin Mulrooney and we're peaceful explorers from a place called Earth."
Jack leaned his head back and whispered to Carter, "They have a script? They all say the same thing?"
Kevin slid his glance to O'Neill and said, "Actually, Sir, Daniel told me to always say that."
"Oh. Good call," then to Cameron, "My linguist, Mick."
Colonel Cameron shot Jack a disgusted look and hissed out, "This is no time--"
He never got to finish as one of the natives stepped forward.
"Istak mi tolam!"
"Mulrooney?" Cameron said.
"I don't -- it's not a language I know, Sir."
"Gee, Mick, maybe we should call my linguist?"
"Shut up, Jack."
"O'Neill, he says 'shut up, Jack' in much the same manner as DanielJackson."
"Thank you, Teal'c. And speaking of Daniel -- Carter, can you--"
"I'm trying, Sir. If Teal'c could move a bit to his right, he might block enough of me that I could contact him."
Daniel scribbled fast, figuring he was almost out of time. Sure enough, just as the timer on his watch went off, Sam's voice crackled in his ear.
Smiling, Daniel clicked down, grinned, then sing-songed, "Ye-es?"
"Sam, why are you whispering?"
"Daniel, get out here - now."
The "now" was hissed out and in the background, Daniel heard a sharp command in a vaguely familiar language. He rose quickly, brushed off his pants, closed his journal around his pencil, and headed out to his friends.
As he approached the exit, he could see SG-5 and his own team, all standing back to back in a tight circle, and around them, eight natives with spears. He paused, debated, did a quick inventory of weaponry, then sighed. Head up, he walked out slowly, hands in the air.
"Oh, swell, Jack. Your linguist shows up with his hands in the air? He's gonna be big help."
Jack bit back a caustic retort, mostly because at the moment, he was a tad upset with Daniel himself. But damn if he'd let Cameron see that.
"Uh, Daniel," he said, trying to sound completely harmless. "Get us out of this, okay?"
"Gee, Jack, I seem to have left my magic wand back at the SGC."
"Daniel, I'm being nice here," he said again, pouring all the charm he had available into his tone.
Before Daniel could respond, one of the natives walked over, stopped two feet from Daniel, pointed his spear at Daniel's chest, and said, "Istak mi tolam!"
Daniel cleared his throat, pointed at Jack, and said loudly, "Tolam ji!"
The native, spear pointing at Daniel, said, "Arkna tineer?"
Daniel frowned, searched his memory, tried to picture his journal, then as the answer dawned, said, "No tineer," and pointing at himself, added, "Poctno ji."
"Uh, Daniel? Care to enlighten us?" Jack said quietly.
"He wanted to know who the leader was and I told him you were. Then he wanted to know if I was the -- priest -- that's the closest translation I could come up with. I told him no, I was an explorer and learner, would be the nearest translation."
"Well, he's not killing you, or us. That's a good sign."
The spear-wielding native suddenly barked out an order and Daniel, thanks to the sharp spear-point which now rested just below his Adam's apple, was forced to walk backward and into the library. He was almost relieved to see the others herded toward the entrance as well.
He kept walking back, all the way to the room with the circle. Somehow, Daniel wasn't surprised. These guys were big on circles. It took a few minutes, but eventually, SG-5 and SG-1, sans Daniel, were lined up against the far wall, seven natives in front of them, spears leveled.
Daniel was stopped just before his heels would have touched the sold gold ring.
"Poctno e trunan, vesti cho!"
"Daniel, I really don't like it when you say, 'uh-oh.' Could you not do that?"
"Jack, when I say 'uh-oh', it's always for a good reason."
"And the reason this time, would be?"
"In spite of my explanations, he still thinks I'm your priest, and thus, should know the secret to this ring."
"Uh-oh," Jack said dispiritedly.
"Which of course, I do," Daniel added.
Jack's head snapped up at the same time as Cameron's and in perfect unison, they said, "You do?"
"Daniel, if you know the secret, then why the 'uh-oh'?"
"Because -- it involves -- you, O Fearless Leader."
"Uh-oh," Jack said again. Then he brightened. "Well, Cameron here is a mighty fine leader, Daniel."
Shooting daggers at O'Neill, Cameron spit out, "But he already said you were our leader, Colonel O'Neill."
"Mick, Mick, Mick. You were made a Colonel two full weeks prior to my promotion. Technically, that makes you the senior leader here. Daniel, tell 'em."
The native leader was watching and listening, and every time someone spoke, the spear dug a bit deeper into Daniel's neck. He could feel the blood trickling down and decided it might be time to take matters into his own hands.
"Jack, you need to step forward and stop with your toes at the edge of the gold ring. And do it now, don't question."
Jack huffed, muttered "Damn," then walked warily forward. The natives didn't stop him and he did as Daniel instructed.
"Okay, I'm here. Now what?"
Daniel closed his eyes and sent up a quick prayer of thanks that for once, Jack had done as asked. If he didn't already love the man, he would now.
"Okay, just stand there a moment, then do what I tell you to do, exactly as I tell you."
"I can do that."
Daniel rolled his eyes, then looked at the man a spear's length away from him. He took a deep breath. "Moy cho tutam, ijay gho."
The native narrowed his eyes, then nodded. Daniel noticed that the point of the spear continued to press into his neck. So much for trusting another shaman. The native waved the hand not holding the spear.
"Okay, Jack, you ready?"
"I'm ready. And do you think you could tell me what's going to happen here?"
"Jack, if you don't do exactly what I tell you to do, this man is going to punch through my neck with his spear. Is that motivation enough for you?"
"Okay, Jack, this how it goes. You need to think of the ring like a Stargate, okay? Only instead of pressing symbols with your hands, you're going to press them with your feet. You're about to become -- Lord of the Ring."
Daniel snorted at his own joke. Unfortunately Spearman didn't like the sound and the tip pressed even deeper into soft flesh. Daniel barely managed to bite back his gasp of pain.
"Lord of the Ring. Very funny, Daniel. Just tell me what to do."
The blood was flowing way more freely now and Daniel thought if the spear pushing kept up, he wouldn't be able to tell Jack what to do, let alone remember the necessary order. He closed his eyes and said, "Okay, look at the ring."
"Do you know what you're looking at, Jack?"
"Daniel, this is no time for a lesson in the fine art of cuneiform, okay?"
In spite of the pressure against his neck, Daniel smiled. Sometimes Jack let his intelligence slip out. The devil.
"Right, Jack, cuneiform. Okay, to your left as you look down, you'll see three pictographs. Step on them."
Jack said, "With both feet?"
"Yes, Jack, with both feet."
"Well, don't get snotty. Okay, here I go."
Jack stepped on the three pictographs. He was about to speak, but the gold ring made a soft chiming sound and the gold under his feet began to shine brightly.
"Oh. This is -- rather -- soothing."
"Gettin' a nice buzz there, are we, O'Neill?" Cameron said, smirking.
Ignoring the man, Jack said, "What next, Daniel?"
"Well, this next part isn't going to be so easy. See the lines to your far right? There are two sets of six lines and one set of--"
"Five lines. Got it."
"Okay, keep your left foot where it is, and step on the lines with your right foot. Do not lose your balance, do not step on anything else," Daniel warned.
"Daniel, so help me, if you're pulling my leg here--"
"Jack -- NOW!"
Jack balanced himself, then carefully stretched out his leg and stepped on the correct lines. The lines lit up and the chime sound turned to humming.
"Daniel, we're humming. Tell me we're supposed to hum."
"We're supposed to hum."
"Thank you. Now what?"
"Step back onto the cuneiform."
Jack did it and the humming grew in depth.
He got no further. Spearman barked out, "TOKI JAK!"
Two natives peeled themselves away from SG-5 and SG-1 to take up residence on either side of Daniel. A spear point was pressed against the right side of his neck, and -- the left.
"Daniel, what's going on? Did I do something wrong?"
"No, Jack," Daniel tried to gulp, but couldn't, "this is so I won't."
"Sir," Carter started to say.
"Carter, not now. Daniel what do I do next?"
"Left foot on the series of weird letters. Do you -- see -- them?" Daniel was having trouble talking and any movement at all caused pain and discomfort.
"There are several sets of weird letters, Daniel, which ones--"
"God," Daniel breathed out. He closed his eyes and tried to bring forth the ring--
"'Kay, a line of four letters, below that, a line with three letters."
"Got it. Left foot and," Jack had to catch his balance and behind him, the others let out a collective breath, "I'm down."
Spearman grunted out, "Cho jak!" and the spears on each side of Daniel's neck went in deeper. It took all of Daniel's willpower not to yell out. He took several shallow breaths, then said, "This is the last move, Jack. Bottom of the ring, writings that seem to be a combination--"
"Daniel, I see it, but there's bilinear script and trilinear. Which ones--"
"Forgetting for a moment that you appear to know the difference between bilinear script and trilinear--"
"Daniel? Get on with it."
"Right. Okay, step on both, Jack. BUT," Daniel said just as Jack lifted his foot, "step down with your right foot on the bilinear, hold it until the humming escalates, then bring your left foot over and down on the trilinear script."
Jack's arms windmilled a moment and breaths were held and spears dug into pale flesh. Jack caught himself and balancing on one foot, said, "Daniel, was that right foot on the bilinear and left foot on the trilinear, or was it left foot on--"
"Jack, a little less communication and a lot more action would be good about now, okay?"
Jack stepped down with his right foot -- on the bilinear script.
For a moment, nothing happened, but Daniel could actually feel Jack's breath on the back of his neck. He thought it might be prudent to mention a little something at this point.
"Jack, when you come down on your left foot? Don't fall -- forward, okay? And when the entire ring lights up, step into it."
Jack was just lifting his left foot up when Daniel spoke. For the first time, he really looked at the position of his friend and blanched. Even from his precarious position, he could see blood welling up on each side of Daniel's neck where the spears pressed unrelentingly.
"Fuck. Okay, Daniel--"
At that moment, the humming escalated and turned into a whine. Jack brought his foot down.
At the exact moment that Jack stepped down, he lost his balance. Feeling himself falling forward, he realized with a sick feeling that he was about to be the cause of Daniel's death. Instinctively, he grabbed at Daniel's jacket and yanked the younger man into him. It was enough. Both men fell back into the ring.
Jack, still unsteady on his feet, wrapped his arms around Daniel's waist, using Daniel as ballast. As they both steadied, they were immediately engulfed in a warm, bright, golden light. The humming took on a life of its own, becoming almost painful, and just when the sound did become painful -- it stopped.
Silence was definitely golden.
"Daniel? I can't see a thing other than you and this bright light. Tell me we're not dead. Just tell me that."
"We're," Daniel coughed roughly, "not dead."
"Care to explain what's going on?"
"Well, I suspect to everyone else, we've disappeared."
He coughed again and Jack frowned. He felt something warm on his hand and peered over Daniel's shoulder to glance down. Blood -- dripping on the back of his hand.
"Huh-uh. Throats a bit sore too."
"Ye-ah, I would guess so. Hang on, let me get--" He started to move his hands, but Daniel stopped him.
"No, don't move. With one person, there's mobility, but with two, well, we can't touch anything until this is over. Just -- stand still."
Looking warily behind and around him, Jack surreptitiously moved into Daniel and tightened his hold. "Okay, just what has to be over?"
Sam watched in horror as Jack's body started to fall forward and into Daniel. Dear God, he was going to kill Daniel. She started to move, but Teal'c's hand stopped her before a spear could. Then miraculously, Jack grabbed Daniel and before she could blink, both men disappeared.
"I do not know, Major Carter."
The two of them, and SG-5, watched, mesmerized, as a huge beacon of light shot from the ground to the ceiling. The humming escalated, then died an instant before Sam would have placed her hands over her ears.
The natives moved away from SG-5 and what was left of SG-1. They gathered around the ring, then knelt down on one knee and lowered their heads.
Colonel Cameron stepped away from the wall, the others quickly following. "Mulrooney? What the hell happened?"
"Sir, I'm pretty sure Doctor Jackson could tell you--" His voice trailed off uncertainly as he looked up at the beacon of light.
Cameron turned to Sam, but before he could speak, a voice, soft, but powerful, filled the room.
"Guardians, have no fear. These strangers are not our enemy. They are but peaceful explorers from another world and can learn much from this planet. As you may learn from them. Treat them as you would us, my friends."
The beacon disappeared.
"Well, I think whoever left this device, is currently speaking to our spear-toting friends. When they're done -- this will be -- um, over."
"I see. Are we talking, like, Thor, maybe?"
"Not Thor, exactly. Not even Freyr. Not the Asgard at all. But maybe they aren't the only ones to put worlds under protection." Suddenly, Daniel frowned. Something was jabbing him. "Um, Jack? Is that a zat gun, or are you just happy to see me?"
"I -- uh -- don't have -- a zat, Daniel."
"Ah." Daniel cocked his head to the right. "So. Where was I?"
"Protective races. And if this isn't the Asgard's doing, who are we looking at?"
"Maybe -- the Furlings?"
"And you're arriving at that conclusion -- how?" Jack asked, dropping his head so that his chin now rested on Daniel's shoulder. He figured if they were stuck here, he might as well be comfortable.
"Um, uh, well, the languages around the ring, for one thing. And -- just -- because, I want them to be."
Lifting his head in surprise, Jack said, "Did you just say because you want them to be the Furlings?"
Grinning sheepishly, Daniel nodded. "Hey, we've met the Nox and the Asgard, you've been touched by the Ancients knowledge, I just figured it was time for the Furlings, you know?"
Jack rested his chin back on Daniel's shoulder, then his head against Daniel's. He decided he could wait like this forever.
"Um -- Jack? Is there something you'd like to -- say?"
Smiling, Jack turned his head and whispered in Daniel's ear, "I am saying it, Daniel. You're the linguist, figure it out."
"So where are they, Major Carter?"
Sam walked to the ring, barely taking note that the natives were now moving away in a decidedly polite manner. She gazed up, then down. Slowly, she put out her hand--
Sam flew back hard, and into Teal'c's chest. He caught her easily and held her up. "Major Carter, are you injured?"
Gasping, Sam shook her head, unable to speak. As her breathing and heartrate returned to normal, she said, "There's something -- there. It felt like a force field of some kind."
"I would suggest then," Teal'c said equitably, his arms still around Sam, "that we do not touch it again, Major Carter."
"Thanks, Teal'c," Sam said as she rolled her eyes -- and made no move away from Teal'c, or his arms.
"So what the hell do we do now?" Cameron asked as he pushed his cap back.
Mulrooney sat down and crossed his legs Indian style. "Sir, I think we wait."
Scratching the back of his head, clearly not happy with the concept of "waiting," Cameron nevertheless sat down. The rest of his squad joined him and a moment later, Sam and Teal'c sat in the dirt. For some reason, no one was surprised when the natives also sat down. There were now two circles around the circle.
Daniel closed his eyes. He was supposed to figure this out? Newsflash: He had it figured out. He just didn't believe it. All the nonverbal clues (like a hard dick pressed against his ass) and all the body language (like the hard dick pressed against his ass) were pretty telling. But he was a scientist and confirmation was a good thing.
"So," he said conversationally, "you love me."
"I'm thinking -- ye-ah."
"You want me."
"I'm thinking -- oh, yeah."
"Dying to have me."
Daniel could feel Jack's grin against his cheek.
"That's a big yeah, Daniel, I am."
"You'd better hope that we're as invisible to Sam, Teal'c, and the others, as they are to us, Flyboy."
"Not to mention," Jack nuzzled behind Daniel's ear, "that this conversation isn't being broadcast over a loudspeaker."
"Mmm," was all Daniel could say as he dropped his back in an effort to give Jack more playspace with his neck and ear.
Eyes flew open and Daniel yanked forward. "Uh?"
"Daniel, who said that?" Jack asked in a hushed voice.
"I did," he said as he gazed frantically about them.
"You said, 'Doctor Jackson'?"
"No, I said, 'Uh?'."
"So who said 'Doctor Jackson'?"
"Tell me you did?"
"No, I said, 'Who said that?''
"Doctor Jackson, I am Tinoc, of the Furlings."
Daniel turned clumsily in Jack's arms. "The Furlings?" He plucked at Jack's jacket sleeve. "Did you hear that, Jack? The Furlings."
"Doctor Jackson, you and your friends are welcome to explore this planet. I believe you will find this room to be particularly rewarding."
"This room?" Daniel asked, staring upward.
"There is much contained within these walls, if one but takes the time to look. You might call this a -- repository -- of sorts. The history of many races lost to us are represented here. All were destroyed by the Goa'uld. But you may find answers to aid you in your world's battle with them. The Torochs are the guardians of this planet. They will leave you in peace."
Daniel turned in Jack's arms like a child trying to see everything at once. "What about you, Tinoc? And your people?"
"There will come a day when we will seek you out, Doctor Jackson. We believe that while you are, indeed, a young race, we also believe in protecting our children, while also allowing them the freedom to explore, and finally -- to fly free when the time is right."
Daniel was about to say something more when the humming returned. He slipped from Jack's embrace, coughed slightly, then said, "I think we're about to be--"
Sam's cry alerted both men to the fact that they were no longer invisible to their friends. Jack spun about to see everyone scrambling to their feet. He started to step over the gold ring when Sam put out a hand.
"No, wait, Sir! There appears to be an invis--"
Her voice trailed off as Daniel stepped to her side. She frowned. "Well, there was a force field of some sort."
Jack put his arms out and said, "Well, guess it's gone now." He turned to Cameron and said cheekily, "So, ya miss us?"
"...so there you have it. We can pretty much look around, take samples, do whatever we need to do. The Torochs will leave us alone--"
"They're gone, Danny," Jack said as he reentered the repository. "Disappeared into the woods. But they left these behind." He held up his P-90.
Sam and Mulrooney, who'd been listening avidly to Daniel, now rose to their feet. As Sam brushed off her pants, she said, "What did General Hammond have to say, Sir?"
"He's sending Ferretti and SG-2 in to help SG-5 gather samples, and Doctors Smythe and Carlson will be arriving in a couple of hours to help figure out how to reveal the secrets of this room. Then they'll stay and gather what they can, study it, the usual."
"I've already figured the room out, Jack," Daniel said.
"Daniel?" Jack queried, one arm resting on his weapon.
Daniel stepped on the ring, then moved lightly from one spot, then to another, reminding Jack of Tom Hanks in the movie "Big." After the fourth "dance step," Daniel jumped out the of the way. The ring lit up, then gradually rose out of the ground.
"Whoa," Jack said as he watched it travel up and finally come to a stop at the ceiling. "Sweet, Daniel."
Mulrooney walked toward what was now a circular set of shelves. "This is it, Daniel?"
"Yep, that's it."
His expression one of awe and delight, Mulrooney started touching each shelf, and each tablet, his fingers skimming over them, unsure of where to begin.
"How did you know?"
"The writings around the ring. They give several instructions. I'll write it all out for you."
Jack heard something in Daniel's voice and he stared hard at his friend. Sam touched Daniel's shoulder.
"Daniel? You okay?"
"I'm fine, Sam."
Neither Sam nor Jack were convinced.
The dull grayness of the SGC looked strange and unwelcoming after the bright primary colors of P3U-690. As Jack sat in the briefing room, a mug of coffee in front of him, he wondered how Daniel was feeling about once again having to relinquish a project he'd discovered.
They'd all been released following the usual physical, Daniel a bit later than his teammates, thanks to his neck injuries. Janet had rebandaged his neck, then told him to avoid talking for a while. She'd smiled at her own joke, knowing full well that Daniel wouldn't have a snowball's chance in hell of complying.
Now as they sat around the conference table with General Hammond, the debriefing about to begin, Jack gave serious thought to asking Hammond to reassigning them to P3U-690. Before he could get any further in his ruminations, Hammond cleared his throat in the familiar, "Time to get on with this" manner.
"We seem to have pleased our superiors this time, SG-1. The word so far is that the agricultural value of the planet alone is worth further exploration. In time, according to Doctor Clark, our best agriculturalist, we'll be able to speed up plant and vegetable growth here on Earth. The minerals contained in the soil, plant life, etc. are evidently phenomenal."
"What about the repository?" Jack asked, offhandedly.
Hammond avoided a glance at his archaeologist as he said, "That'll take more time, Colonel. In spite of Doctor Jackson's assistance with operating the information system, well, it could be months before we know if we have anything that will help in our fight with the Goa'uld."
Eyes downcast and pen doing flip-flops over his fingers, Jack said, "Might go a bit faster if Daniel were there, Sir."
"I think the men and women currently working on it will get the job done, Colonel. Now, fill me in on the Furlings."
Sam, Teal'c and Daniel filed out of the conference room, but Jack remained behind. As the door closed behind Daniel, Jack turned to the General.
"Sir, Daniel should be heading up the research on that planet. You know that. What's more, he deserves it. I'll even take it one step further; he'll get it done twice as fast."
"I suspect you're right, Colonel. Are you willing to let him go for the length of time required?"
Jack was ready for that question. He shoved his hands into his pockets. "General, SG-1 has been going nonstop for weeks. We're way past the need for a break. I think some down time on P3U-690 is both warranted and -- deserved. It's a beautiful planet, Sir." Jack suddenly took his hands from his pockets and leaned forward, palms on the table. "Sir, Daniel deserves this. Do you have any idea what it must be like for him? SG-1 finds the discoveries, and another team goes in and does the real research. And when Daniel does make a discovery, or a breakthrough, he can't even claim it. Hell, even Carter gets credit when, thanks to something discovered through the Stargate, she changes what we know about astrophysics.
"Mathematically speaking, she's in the clear. She's a legend at the Academy, Sir. Daniel's a -- footnote."
Jack started to pace. "Do you realize what he's accomplished here? The languages he's managed to break wide open? And yet, he can't tell a soul. And where would we be without his knowledge? But can he get the credit? No. I have medals, Carter has medals and a promotion, hell, even Teal'c has a medal and a presidential commendation. And Daniel?"
Jack paused to stare down at the 'Gate as he swiped a hand over his short hair. "Daniel -- Daniel is still a laughingstock in the world of archaeology. And here, it's almost, 'Okay, son, so you opened the 'Gate -- but what have you done for us lately?'. It's not right, Sir. It's just not right."
Hammond rose from his chair and joined Jack at the observation window. Hands clasped behind his back, he said, "I think you and the rest of your team deserve a vacation, Colonel. Got any ideas on where you might like to go?"
If Jack thought he could get away with it, he'd skip down to Daniel's office. Unfortunately, skipping and Air Force colonels weren't the best of pairings. He contented himself with walking. Fast.
His good news about returning to P9U-690 was only part of the reason for his rush. His real motive was purely selfish. He wanted to finish what he and Daniel had started on P9U-690. Jack still couldn't believe his good luck. Daniel actually returned his feelings, if not his love.
Jack slowed at that last thought. Love. Daniel loving him. Possible? Probable? Doubtful? Jack stopped. Turned. Started back for his own office. Maybe he should just -- call -- Daniel with the news.
Jack stopped again, then did an about face. He'd take whatever he could get and he'd take it gladly.
Daniel gazed at the screen in front of him. He grinned. The Furlings. And they wanted to help Earth. Okay, they weren't jumping in with both feet to run the Goa'uld off, but damn, at least they seemed to understand that you didn't abandon your children, you stuck around and you taught them. Guided them.
Daniel grinned again. The grin widened. It was like -- Christmas. The Furlings.
As he watched the ring rise from the ground on his tape, his smile died. God, what he wouldn't give to be in on the days and weeks of translating and reading the records stored in that very futuristic cabinet. All right, maybe not weeks, but certainly days.
Wonderful days of living within another culture, becoming one of them through their writings, giving himself over to them and their past.
Many of his fellow archaeologists didn't get it. Didn't understand what pouring over the writings of ancient civilizations, figuring it all out, really meant to him. How he was transported, eager to learn, to apply the past to the here, the now, and the future. How it wasn't about glory or recognition, but about survival. Hell, his own government didn't get it. He doubted that his own teammates got it. Well, maybe Sam. Sometimes.
As he watched the screen, Jack came into view, his cap at a jaunty angle, a patient, tolerant smile on his face. Daniel's breath hitched as he watched the tape, watched the man walk to his side and tap his shoulder. At that point, Mulrooney had turned the recorder off, and as a result, Daniel's screen went blank. He quickly rewound to Jack's entrance, hit pause, then just -- stared.
He'd never seen just that smile on Jack's face, at least not directed at him. Come to think of it, he'd never seen it. He'd seen a version of it directed at Sam, but this -- this was completely different. This was -- love. This was a man being tolerant of his love's little quirks. This was a man -- who loved those quirks.
"Gee, what a handsome guy, Daniel. Anyone I know?"
Daniel jumped two feet into the air and the remote flew from his hand.
"Sheesh, Jack, you and your one hundred ways to sneak up on a guy."
Daniel bent over and picked up the remote, shook it, then satisfied that it wasn't broken, turned to face his friend. "And I don't think he's so handsome. Kind of spooky if you want to know the truth."
Jack walked over to the screen, leaned in and peered closely at himself. "Spooky, eh? I think he's devilishly handsome, myself. Debonair, suave, sophisticated--"
Jack turned, one eyebrow arched. "Goofy? So you think I'm spooky and goofy? Tsk-tsk, Daniel, that does not sound like a guy in love to me."
Daniel smiled almost shyly. "I think it does. Considering we're on base and the alternative could get you kicked out of here on your good-looking ass. By the way," Daniel asked, a sparkle in his eyes, "how was that for a guy in love?"
Jack preened. "You like my ass?"
Daniel double checked that the door to his office was closed, something he should have done before, then satisfied, said, "Very much, Jack. Damn fine ass for a guy your age."
A dangerous glint to his eyes, Jack moved slowly toward Daniel. "A guy my age? And the door is locked, by the way. Just what do you mean 'a guy my age'?"
Refusing to be intimidated, Daniel stood his ground, and with narrowed eyes, said, "I mean, 'a guy your age,' Jack."
"You find something wrong with a guy my age, Daniel?"
Jack was two feet from him, so Daniel growled, bared his teeth, then grinned madly and said, "Nope."
Jack fisted Daniel's black tee shirt and pulled Daniel to him. "Good. 'Cause you got yourself a guy my age. In fact, you've got me."
"Do I, Jack?" Daniel asked, his voice low and sultry.
Their eyes were locked on each other, lips slightly parted. Jack nodded, then zeroed in on the inviting lips. Just as he was about to make goal, he paused and whispered so that his breath would be inhaled by Daniel, "You do. No losing me now, Danny-boy."
They kissed then, both feeling a charge from the fact that the kiss was happening within the deepest recesses of Cheyenne Mountain. Somehow Jack's hand was still fisted around Daniel's shirt, his other hand sliding under the shirt in the back. Daniel's arms wound around Jack, pulling him in closer. When they finally parted, Jack stayed close, nuzzling at Daniel's jaw. Finally, eyes dark with passion, he murmured, "Say it, Danny. I need to hear you say it."
Daniel's own eyes fluttered open, the blue eclipsed by his lust. But he understood. He brought his hands up and framed Jack's beloved face. He caressed Jack's lips with the thumb of his right hand as he whispered, "I love you, Jack O'Neill, and I promise you that you'll never regret loving me in return."
Jack shut his eyes tight against a sudden hot moisture. He dropped his head so that he and Daniel were forehead to forehead. "Thank you, Daniel. Thank you."
Daniel took Jack into his arms and for a few moments they remained in that position, gently swaying, not speaking, hands rubbing tenderly, breath mingling. Finally Jack pulled away a scant few inches. "I have our new assignment, Daniel," he said.
Daniel frowned. "New assignment? You want to talk about that now?"
Jack grinned again. "Hammond thinks you should finish up on P3U-690. He's sending us all back to cartoonsville."
"You're kidding, right?" Daniel asked, thunderstruck.
"No, I'm not. We go back tomorrow. It's all yours, Danny. All yours."
"You did this, didn't you?"
"You deserve it, Danny. You deserve the chance to finish something that you discovered. See it to the end. Especially something this important. After all you've contributed--it just seems you should get more than an ugly set of BDU's that do nothing for your ass."
Daniel tilted his head and grinned wickedly. "Jack, I hate to break it to you, but I get paid rather well for running around in a too-big set of BDU's. I get paid damn well. I could walk away right now and buy an island somewhere."
Jack feigned shock as he asked, "What, you're telling me that when I retire, I'll be a kept man?"
"Being kept will depend solely on your performance, Jack."
"Oh, you'll keep me all right, Danny-boy. You'll keep me. And I just realized what else your remarkable accomplishments within the Stargate program have netted you."
"What? Besides several trips to the infirmary?"
Jack held out his arms and said winningly, "Why, me of course."
This time it was Daniel who fisted a shirt and pulled a pliant body to his. "Jack, could we have a little less--"
"And a lot more--"
Two weeks later -
"They are still in there, Major Carter?"
Sam glanced back at the library on P3U-690 and nodded. She shrugged. "I don't know what they could be doing, Teal'c. There's nothing else to find, they've recorded all the tablets, and to be honest, it's much cooler out here."
Teal'c nodded. "It is indeed. I understand that there is a waterfall not far from here and that the water is pink. Perhaps we could--"
"Why, Teal'c, I'd love a swim right now, but maybe we should ask the Colonel and Daniel to join us?"
"I do not believe that would be wise. Whatever they are doing, it must be of the utmost -- importance."
"Oh. Well, then. Shall we?"
Teal'c nodded and the two of them headed toward a stand of trees and a pink river with a pink waterfall.
Inside the Library, Jack was shaking his head.
"No, no, Daniel. You have to let the yo-yo stay down or it's not 'walking the dog'. Here, let me have it. I'll show you again."
"No," Daniel said petulantly as he yanked the yo-yo from Jack's grasping fingers. "Besides, I'd rather try that 'around the world' move again. I mean, who wants to walk the dog anyway? Like the yo-yo is going to pee all over the place?"
Jack paused in the act of trying to take the yo-yo from his favorite bedwarmer. "Daniel, you are one seriously weird individual."
"Oh, come on. Nobody really likes to walk their dog, so why would anyone want to walk a yo-yo? I mean, just think about it, Jack--"
Jack's eyes glazed over.
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