A Good Man Is Hard To Find by Remma
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Category: Jack/Daniel
Genres: Action/Adventure, Crossover, Established Relationship
Rated: Mature
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: A crossover with The Sentinel : A Goa'uld is loose in Cascade, masquerading as someone close to Blair. SG-1 must move in to carry out damage control.

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Jack tossed restlessly, lost in that no-man's land between sleep and wakefulness. After a rough few days offworld, he was beyond tired, but something was keeping him from his rest, something was wrong, something was absent. Flinging out a hand, he encountered nothing but emptiness, and was instantly alert. Here was the cause of his unease...where was Daniel?

Rising, he shuffled groggily downstairs, feeling his way through the dark house. Opening the study door, he squinted against the too bright light that illuminated his missing friend. Daniel sat at his computer, so intent on the flickering screen that he barely registered Jack's presence.

"Daniel, have you *any* idea what time it is?"

"Oh, hi, Jack. Late I guess. Didn't you go up ages ago?"

"Yes."

"Oh. Can't you sleep?"

"I could if you would stop messing with that thing and come to bed. Dammit, Daniel, you *have* to be at least as tired as I am, can't that wait 'till morning?"

"I'm not sure, maybe not. I think we have a problem?"

"What kind of problem could we *possibly* have at three o'clock in the morning? What are you looking at anyway?"

"It's the 'stranger than fiction' website...it's very useful."

"That's a joke, right?"

"No. I get a lot of valuable information here...it's way better than the FBI database or the U.S. government classified.net."

"For what...tracking down potato chips that look like the Virgin Mary or dogs that can bark out the 'Stars and Stripes?"

"Very funny, Jack, see me laughing."

"Okay, okay, so what disaster is about to strike, then?"

"I can't be positive, but I *think* I've found a Goa'uld here on Earth."



General Hammond took his accustomed place at the head of the table, glancing around at his primary team. The recently completed mission had been far more taxing than anticipated, and the three days downtime he had given them had been necessity, not indulgence. Now, less than twelve hours later, he had been forced to recall them. It was not what he wished, but his options were limited. If Daniel Jackson's was correct, and he usually was, then they would be needed. A Goa'uld running loose on Earth was not to be tolerated.

"Doctor Jackson, what do you have for us?"

"I found a report from a small place called Amity in New Mexico. Two women staying at a spiritual retreat a few miles out of town went missing ten days ago. Search parties found nothing until the son of one of the women and his friend arrived. It seems this friend is expert at tracking, and was able to locate them almost immediately, led the rescuers right too them, in fact.

"Is that what you think is suspect, Daniel?"

"Well, it is a bit strange, but that's not my concern here Sam. It's the women themselves. They had fallen through a crevice onto some rocks. The younger of the two was dead when they were found, the other was critically injured." Daniel paused for a moment, consulting his notes before continuing. "Sam, do you remember when we infiltrated Seth's compound?"

She nodded, looking puzzled.

"You said during the debriefing that when you were alone with the women, that one in particular seemed to be in charge."

"That's right, Nora...no that's not right...maybe Nelly, something like that, anyway."

"Nerys?"

"Yes, that's it...why?"

"The woman who died was called Nerys Welch. She'd been at the retreat for some time, having gone there to recover after being liberated from the religious sect, 'The Children of Seth'."

"She was one of Seth's disciples?" The General was concerned, but still could not see how the death of one of those unfortunates, brainwashed by the exiled Goa'uld was of significance to the SGC.

"I think she was more than that, I think she was his consort...Nephthys."

If he had hoped to cause a stir with his pronouncement, he was not disappointed. Sam stared at him, horrified by the thought that they had allowed a Goa'uld to escape their grasp. "I don't see how that can be, Daniel. Surely if there had been a Goa'uld close by either Teal'c, my father or I would have sensed it?"

"Seth's followers were hustled away pretty quickly, so it's possible neither Jacob nor Teal'c even saw her, and the only time you were near enough to sense a Goa'uld presence was when you were under the influence of the nish'ta so you could easily have missed it."

"That's true, we *were* too focussed on locating Seth to worry about any of the others, but I still don't see how you can assume that she's a Goa'uld, and anyway, even if she was, you said she had died in the accident, so..."

"The *host* died. Possibly her injuries were too severe to be healed, I don't know, but for whatever reason, I think Nephthys took the other woman. There were some eyewitness reports of the rescue, and they talk about this survivor's injuries healing at a phenomenal rate."

"Even so..."

"There's more, Sam. The woman was unconscious for several days, during which either her son or one of her friends from the retreat was with her. At one point, she apparently opened her eyes...her golden glowing eyes."

"If that's true, then why wasn't this investigated more closely?"

"You really don't want to accept this, do you Sam?"

"I just think we should check all the facts before taking any action. I think my question was perfectly logical. If this woman saw what she said she did, why was there no further investigation, after all, glowing eyes are hardly the norm?"

"No, they're not, but the person who was sitting with her when the incident occurred and who reported the...uh...phenomenon, is known to be a little...flaky."

"Flaky?"

"Yes General. Apparently she's something of a 60's flower child who never grew up and has more than a passing acquaintance with mind altering substances, so I'm assuming they just thought she was...uh...delusional. But then, they wouldn't know the significance of golden glowing eyes, unlike us."

The room was silent as the ramifications of the situation began to sink in, the fact that a Goa'uld was alive and well on Earth now a very real possibility.

"Uh, there's more."

"Now why does that not surprise me?"

"Because you get your kicks from rehearsing worst case scenarios, Jack. As I was saying, I've been doing a little checking, and although there's no record of Nephthys ever having a child with Seth, it is widely believed that she was the mother of Anubis by Osiris."

"She's connected to Anubis, *and* Osiris? That could be some family reunion."

"Well yes, but that actually wasn't the more I was referring to, Jack."

"What, there's *more* more?"

"Yes. Her name, Nephthys, or, 'Nebt-het' means the 'lady of the house', but by the word 'house' we must understand that portion of the sky which was supposed to form the abode of the Sun-god Horus; in fact 'het' in the name of Nebt-het is used in exactly the same sense as 'het' in the name 'Het-Hert', or Hathor, i.e., the 'house of Horus'. In her birth-place in Upper Egypt, i.e., Het-Sekhem, or 'the house of the Sistrum', the goddess was identified with Hathor, the lady of the sistrum, but the popular name of the city, 'Het', i.e., the 'House', seems to apply to both goddesses. In the Serapeum which belonged to the city, or the House of the Bennu, Osiris was re-born under the form of Horus, and Nephthys was one of his 'nursing mothers'."

"Fascinating as all this is, Daniel, so what?"

"I was just *getting* to the *so*."

"Sometime this millennium would be good."

"Oh I'm sorry to put such a strain on your limited attention span Jack, next time I'll be sure to present the digest version. Anyway, Nephthys' historical association with Hathor, combined with the fact that she was thought of as the Goddess of midwives, means that unfortunately there's a strong possibility that she is, in fact, a queen. Which would mean..."

"Which would mean she's capable of producing more Goa'uld once she has the code of life."

"Right, Sam. She might well also be able to expel the same weird vapour as Hathor, the one that increases the...uh...libidinous instincts in men."

"How nice, a sex mad snake with a breeding program on make, that's all I needed for a perfect day."

"Jack. This isn't funny."

"It most certainly is not. Now son, why would you believe that this Nephthys is a Goa'uld queen? Surely if that were so, she would have utilised that ability before now?"

"Well, she and Seth were in hiding, from the other System Lords as well as the authorities here on Earth, so re-producing would have been a bad idea. The situation is different now that he's dead and she has a new, unknown host. She's alone, isolated from the rest of her kind and with no way to reach them; she may well feel that the time is right to begin producing offspring. Even if that's only an outside chance it's still one I don't feel we can discount."

"I agree. Is she still in New Mexico?"

"No Sir. She regained consciousness yesterday and was considered well enough to travel. She left with her son almost immediately. I believe they went to his home in...uh...Cascade, Washington State."

"Her name?"

"Sandburg, Naomi Sandburg. Her son is Blair Sandburg, but as yet we don't have an address for either of them."

"Very well, then. Colonel, I want you to take your team to Cascade, we should have an accurate location for you by the time you arrive. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a successful and covert retrieval. If this woman really is a Goa'uld host she *must* be brought here without alerting the public to her existence. Dismissed people."



Blair stepped back to allow Jim to create the perfect hospital corner, totally unnecessary in his opinion since bearing in mind the way he tossed and turned at night it was guaranteed to end up looking like the bottom of the laundry hamper by morning anyway. Still, if it made Jim happy, who was he to complain?

Faint rustlings from behind the closed door of his room brought back to him why he was sleeping on the couch in the first place. God, he had come so close to losing his mother. It still gave him cold chills to think of her lying injured and alone, her friend's dead body growing cold beside her for so many days. It was a miracle that she had survived, a miracle helped along considerably by his favourite Sentinel's incredible tracking skills. The Sentinel who, at that moment was totally focussed on dropping dimes onto the sheet to check for bounce; bless.

"Jim, have I thanked you for saving Naomi?"

"Repeatedly."

"Oh, well, I'm really grateful; if it wasn't for you she might never have been found in that crevice. God, the thought of..."

"Hey come on, Naomi's fine now, there's no point dwelling on it. I just wish those lame brains from the retreat had called you right away, then we could have been there sooner. No disrespect to your mother Chief, but she hangs out with some majorly useless airheads."

"Tell me about it. What about that Moonflower for god's sake...and what kind of dumb name is *that* for a fifty-two year old woman? Can you *believe* her ranting on about Mom waking up and staring at her with glowing eyes?"

"Nuts, totally nuts. My guess is too many happy pills...not enough surviving brain cells. Can't say I'm sorry to be away from that madhouse. I was a bit surprised with that doctor, though. He seemed to be a reasonably sane individual, but the way he was talking you'd think there was something wrong with your mother getting better so fast."

"I know, what was *that* all about? Maybe he was trying to cover himself, I mean, from the way he was going on when we first found my Mom, I thought she'd be recovering for months, not days. And he *had* to be wrong about the broken bones, no way could they have healed so fast."

"Well, actually, I thought they were broken too, but I guess not. Unless Naomi is some kind of mutant 'X' woman with amazing healing powers. But hey, she *is* your mother, so maybe the mutant part's not so far fetched after all...it would certainly explain you."

"Funny Jim, see me laugh." Blair emphasised his words by whacking Jim over the head with one down filled pillow, sniggering at the sneezing fit the escaping feathers caused. Retribution was swift, as Jim snatched up the other pillow and began pummelling him mercilessly.

Blair ran behind the couch, still batting away with his own weapon, the laughter bubbling up in his chest. Jim smiled back, glad that he was able to help his friend release the worries had been plaguing him since first hearing of his mother's disappearance. Jim proceeded to help even further with a right swipe, followed by a left swing to the curly head frantically ducking away from him.



Nephthys lay back on Blair Sandburg's bed stroking and caressing her hungry body as she listened to her host's son cavorting with his friend. Well, let them enjoy themselves; it would be the last chance they got before she claimed her new pharaoh.

She had done right to allow herself to be brought to this place. The available males at the retreat had been of poor quality, most being too old, too ineffectual or more likely both.

The advent of Blair Sandburg and Jim Ellison had been a godsend. Either one would be a suitable mate; however, her host's reaction at the possibility of intercourse with her own son was one of appalled disbelief. Nephthys found this strange, since incest was not only common to the Goa'uld, but also to be desired.

And yet, this host was altogether strange. Her reaction was unlike any Nephthys had ever encountered. Horror, loathing, defiance, all of this she was accustomed to, had even come to expect. But this one, this Naomi Sandburg felt none of these. Her primary emotion was one of curiosity. She seemed to regard the invasion of her mind and body as an adventure, a voyage to be explored and savoured.

Nephthys decided that she liked this unforeseen attitude, and so was prepared to humour her host's aversion to copulating with her offspring, in spite of said offspring's many desirable qualities.

In addition, the host had a strong attraction to the other male, one with which Nephthys readily acquiesced. He was indeed a fine specimen. Of good height with a well-proportioned body and firm but not overly developed muscles, combined with strong features and piercing blue eyes.

There was something else about him too, something special, a listening quality she had never before encountered. The fact that he had been able to find her when none other could was testament to this unique component to his genetic make-up. Moreover, there was the way he looked at her, as if he could sense her innate superiority.

There was no doubt in her mind that he was the one, the one destined to stand by her side through time, the one who would assist her in the advancement of the Goa'uld race, her one true pharaoh. And tomorrow, she would take him for her own.



Daniel held his nose tightly, blowing hard, hoping to clear pressure in his ears. When that didn't work, he tried shaking his head and waggling his jaw around, all the while making an astonishing variety of nasal, yet oddly guttural sounds. God, he hated flying by military transport. Regular flying was bad enough, but these draughty crates were hell on his sinuses.

Looking up he was astonished to find that his friends had moved to the far end of the cabin. The end furthest away from him. "Hey, you guys moved, what's up?"

"You were emitting a strange and startling honking, DanielJackson. I felt it best to relocate until you had concluded."

"I'm with the big guy. Sounded like you had a dying goose stuck down your throat. Scary."

"Thanks guys, appreciate the support. What's your excuse, Sam?"

"Oh, uhm, well, it *was* a little creepy Daniel."

"God, the joys of belonging to a team. You guys know how I hate having blocked ears, it feels like being underwater."

"So suck a mint."

"Thanks, Jack, very helpful. So, do we have a plan yet?"

"Sure, we get in, we get the Goa'uld, we get out. Piece of cake."

"Sir, I really don't think it will be that straightforward. Especially now that we know that Blair Sandburg lives with his friend, James Ellison."

"Hey, the more the merrier."

"Have you forgotten what the General said, Sir? That Ellison is a police officer and former ranger. I can't see a man like that just standing aside and letting us take his roommate's mother."

"If he's ex-military then he'll understand the meaning of classified information. Maybe we can even use him to convince Sandburg that it's in mommy dearest's best interests to come with us."

"I do not believe that I would be so easily induced to relinquish one for whom I cared, O'Neill."

"Well, Sandburg's not a jaffa."

"No. Is he not an anthropologist?"

"Yeah, let's hope he's nothing like Daniel."

"We are in a good mood today, aren't we Jack?"

"Hey, I'm not allowed to get aggravated when some Goa'uld ruins my downtime? I was really looking forward to a little R&R at my cabin."

"Looks like the Minnesota crappie will live to swim another day."

"O'Neill's pond has no crappie, DanielJackson, or in fact, fish of any description."

"Teal'c, I explained all this, fishing is not about the fish per se, it's..."

"Why then is it called fishing? Should it not, instead, be referred to as pole holding while becoming bored and bitten?"

"Couldn't have put it better myself, Teal'c."

"Carter, back me up here. Jacob *must* have taken you fishing when you were a kid."

"He did take my brother and me deep sea fishing once."

"There, I knew it, and I'll just bet you had a terrific time, right?"

"Oh yes, it was wonderful. The boat broke down and I got to take it apart and completely overhaul it."

"Soulless, the lot of you."



Nephthys woke to bright sunlight streaming through the curtain less windows. She stretched out luxuriantly, well, as luxuriantly as was possible on such a small, hard bed. Why was it that the Tau'ri had so little conception of comfort?

Rising, she began to prepare herself for her chosen one. Frowning, she searched through her host's possessions for suitable raiment. Frowning, she discarded garment after garment. Did this female own *nothing* ornate, flamboyant and revealing?

Finally, she selected a white muslin shift. She would have preferred something less...simple, something with more red and gold trim, and perhaps the occasional precious gemstone, but it would do. She had discovered that if she stood with the light behind her it would be virtually transparent, showing off her host's fine figure.

At last, she was prepared. With a final approving look in the mirror, she pulled open the door, walking slowly and seductively to the centre of the room to pose languidly against the back of the couch. Sadly, her mate was not there to see her magnificence.

Her host's progeny...Blair, sometimes-called sweetie, also sometimes baby, looked up from his breakfast preparations with a happy smile.

"Hey, you're awake, that's great."

"Is Jim still in bed...sweetie?" Nephthys turned to gaze up the stairs, hoping vainly for a glimpse of her future beloved.

"Are you kidding? Jim's been up for hours, he's already washed the floors, done the laundry, cleared out the fridge and re-organised the cutlery drawer."

"Oh."

"Yeah, he's funny like that. He worries that every time he goes away for any length of time the dust bunnies will run riot and take over the world, or that somehow the mugs and plates will migrate to the wrong cupboard."

"I see. Has he gone to work then?"

"Oh no, he's just popped out for some fresh bread and milk. He should be back any minute, and then we can eat. So, how are you feeling this morning Mom?"

"I'm..." About to declare herself well, Nephthys paused, realising that this could be the perfect opportunity to remove Blair from the abode, thus giving her sufficient occasion to acquire the code of life once her mate returned.

"I'm still a bit achey. Do you think you could go and get my prescription filled?"

"Your prescription? Mom, you *hate* taking medication .Why don't I make you some of this special tea I have, it's supposed to..."

"I'm in pain, boy! I really don't think *tea* is going to help much. I need drugs...get me my drugs."

"But you never take..."

"I thought you cared about me, but if you won't even do this one little thing..."

"Of course I'll go, if you really want me too. I'm just surprised. You're the one who's always telling me to use natural remedies for everything, so..."

Realising that her current behaviour was perhaps not in complete accord with the customary actions of her host, Nephthys decided to change tack, not wishing to arouse suspicion until her machinations were successful. Perhaps a smidgen of nish'ta was called for. Raising a hand to her brow as if faint, she leaned forlornly against the couch back.

"I'm sorry baby, I didn't mean to snap, I'm afraid I'm not myself just yet."

Her ploy worked, drawing the sympathetic Blair to her side, close enough to receive the divine breath of joy that was the legacy of all Goa'uld queens. Now he would be hers to control as she willed. And right now, she willed that he get the hell out of there and allow her to prepare for her mate. "So then, you'll do as I ask?"

"I...I guess...I...are you sure you'll be okay on your own?"

"Of course I will, and anyway, didn't you say Jim would be back soon?"

"I...yes, that's right, Jim will be back soon; you'll be safe with Jim. I'll just...go then."

Feeling strangely bewildered, Blair headed out the door, so disorientated that he didn't even realise that not only did he not have the necessary prescription, but he had also neglected to collect his wallet, his keys or his jacket.

As soon as the door had closed behind the befuddled young man, Nephthys roused herself, making a beeline for the stairs and Jim's bedroom. She was pleased to see that at least he had a bed of sufficient size for the exertions she intended.

Arranging herself amorously on top of the covers she lay back to await her future pharaoh. She proceeded to await him for a very long time, then she awaited some more, and a little bit more after that, but after over twenty minutes of fruitless anticipation, she rose, storming down the stairs to speed restlessly around the living room, out onto the balcony, and then back around the living room again.

When, ten minutes later, Jim finally returned, he was greeted with an irate demand for an explanation of his whereabouts over the last half hour, the completely unexpected situation reminding him worryingly of his final months with his ex-wife.



Jim shuffled the bags in his arms, looking around nervously for his roommate, swallowing anxiously as he realised that Blair was no longer in the loft, and he was alone with the incensed woman.

"Uh...hey Naomi, I...uh...where's Sand...Blair?

"He went to get my pills. He said you would be back any minute. You weren't."

"Oh...uhm...I went for bread, bagels, milk and some other stuff we needed." He had deliberately extended his shopping trip to give his friend time alone with his mother, but it appeared, judging from her reaction, that this had been a mistake. "Are you...unwell? I'm surprised Blair left you alone if you were sick."

"I asked him to go, and he didn't realise I was going to *be* alone. He was expecting you to be with me."

"Oh, sorry about that. If I'd known..."

"No, it's not your fault; you couldn't know that I would need you." This was not going as Nephthys had hoped. She had reacted instinctively, allowing her frustration to override her reason, patience not being a trait commonly found amongst the Goa'uld. "I'm sorry, I was getting worried. I spent so long all alone on that mountain..." She allowed her words to trail off, casting a sad pitiable look at the man still standing in the doorway, hoping to elicit his sympathy.

She was pleased to see that she had correctly judged his character, her appeal to his protective nature instantly bearing fruit. Dropping the groceries on the counter, he moved to her, laying an understanding hand on her shoulder. That was all she needed, as, turning her face up to his, she breathed out, enveloping him in a cloud of pink vapour.

He jerked away, shaking his head in an attempt to clear the fog that descended on his mind and senses. His eyes fixed on his friend's mother, standing passively before him, a gentle, expectant smile on her lips. He reached out to her in wonder. How was it possible that he had not noticed how lovely she was? Her eyes in particular, so like those of his friend, seemed to enchant him.

He moved closer, scenting her. But there was something wrong. He had thought at first that her scent was the one his heart desired, but it was close only, some indefinable yet necessary element lacking. And now that he looked more directly, her blue eyes were not the ones that he searched for, they were not the windows to that perfect soul that was so vital to his happiness. They, too, were only similar. He began to pull away, his superior senses focussed on finding that missing part of himself.

Nephthys was confused; this had never happened before. Always, after the nish'ta, those she chose to honour with her attentions became her willing slaves, blissfully contented to give her all she asked. Why was this man different? Why was he not grovelling at her feet, begging her to take the code of life? This was most unexpected and would have to be dealt with directly.

The door opened, postponing any action she had intended. Blair strode into the room, pausing as he took in the seeming intimacy between Jim and his mother. Confused, he looked from one to the other, his gaze finally coming to rest on his friend with a look of astonished awe.

Jim stared back, an identical expression on his face. He stared at this man; his friend; his roommate. He stared at him, standing in a shaft of bright sunlight, a nimbus of gold surrounding his auburn curls. He stared into the blue eyes, wide and shining with love. Breathing deeply, he drew in that special scent, revelling in the way it permeated every atom of his being. And all the while, he never once broke his captivated gaze, eyes steadfastly fixed on the man he had unconsciously loved for such a very long time.

Blair's lips parted, a single stunned word escaping... "Jim."

That was all it took to propel Jim forward, oblivious to the hand clutching at his sleeve, to catch his beloved in a tender embrace. Blair wrapped his arms around Jim's waist, hands caressing the broad back, as Jim held him tight, one hand tangled in the soft hair. Finally, they pulled apart to gaze raptly at one another, hands stroking faces, mouths darting in to taste and nuzzle.

"Chief...Blair, I had no idea..."

"I know, I feel the same. I always thought...but now..."

"Yeah, I know exactly what you mean. Exactly. This is..."

"It is, it really is. It's..."

"Yeah, it totally is. God, Chief, you're so...so..."

"No, I'm just...it's you, you're the one who's...I'm nowhere near as..."

"You are, you're more, way more than me. I want to...I..."

"I know, me too...I'd like to..."

"You would, really?"

"Oh yeah, I *really* would."

"Oh Blair."

"Oh Jim."

"Oh *please*." Nephthys flounced to the couch, dropping onto it in disgust. The nish'ta was supposed to make them adore *her*, not ogle each other like lovesick puppies; this was unacceptable. Tau'ri men were not what they used to be. Oh...mikta.



"Okay kids, this is it. 852 Prospect, apartment 307. Let's go."

"Jack, we need to be prepared for both Sandburg and Ellison being under the influence of the nish'ta. In fact, Nephthys may have already acquired the uh...code of life, and begun to...breed."

"So you're saying that we could get in there and find a couple of zombies and a tub full of snake babies? Well doesn't this just keep getting better and better."

"On the contrary O'Neill. The situation has not improved; it has, in actuality, worsened."

"I know that Teal'c, I was just...ah, never mind. Carter, do you have that Goa'uld sedative handy?"

"Yes Sir, there's enough here to keep her under until we get back to the SGC and the Tok'Ra remove the symbiote."

"Good. Now all we have to do is figure out a way to get it into her without arousing suspicion. Like I said, better and better."

"O'Neill..."

"I *know* Teal'c, give a guy a break for crying out loud. I was being *satirical*."

"I see; satirical. Most amusing."

"Sometimes I wonder why I even bother."

"We've been wondering that for years."

"Daniel, so help me..."

"Sir..."

"Right, yes, quit distracting me; got a Goa'uld to catch. Daniel, you're on."

"Why me?"

"You have that sweet innocent choirboy look going for you, they'll never suspect you're lying through you're teeth."

"Ja-ack."



A loud knocking filled the loft, startling the sulking Nephthys but totally failing to elicit any response from the enraptured couple still devouring each other with eyes and lips. Deciding that enough was enough, Nephthys resolved to end the distasteful spectacle. She aimed at their heads, pitching three cushions, some tootsies rolls and finally the television remote until she had their somewhat dreamy attention.

"Mom?"

"Door."

"Huh?"

"There's someone at the door...sweetie. Didn't you hear the knocking?"

"I guess I missed it. Jim precious, did you hear the knocking?"

"I thought it was my heart, angel."

"Oh Jim."

"Oh Blair."

Clearly off on another round of revolting adoration, Nephthys felt it best to admit the newcomer herself; if she were fortunate, it would be another possible candidate for future pharaoh.

She was not fortunate.

Reeling back in shock as she recognised the Tau'ri who had vanquished her consort, she attempted to flee, but instead found herself caught and tightly held by the shol'va jaffa. Her vociferous protest at being thus manhandled finally broke through the two lovebirds' introspection.

"Hey, what are you doing? Leave my mom alone."

"Don't worry beloved, I'll take care of this. Hey, leave his mom alone."

"I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson. We don't mean her any harm, I promise. Some illegal activities involving experimentation with prohibited substances have been brought to our attention. We believe that she may have been exposed to these...substances while injured on the mountain in New Mexico. You may have noticed her behaving strangely."

"Well, now that you mention it, she has been...but, how is this possible, how could such a thing happen?" Blair clutched at Jim, worry displacing the passion.

"I'm afraid that's...classified."

"But my mom..."

"We can help her, but we need to take her with us."

"No, they're lying, don't listen to them. Please Blair, Jim, don't let them take me."

"Mom, if you're sick..."

"I'm not sick...they're lying. He's not even a real doctor."

"I am a doctor."

"Really, a medical doctor?"

"Well, not a medical doctor, no. But I am a doctor."

"*Not* a medical doctor?"

"No."

"Then how can you help my mother?"

"I wasn't planning on treating her personally, that's why we need to take her with us...to a real medical doctor."

"No, I won't go with you, you can't make me. I am Nephthys, daughter of Geb and Nut; Maat goddess, Mert goddess; I am the plume, which ornamented the head of my father Ra; I am the personification of darkness and all that belongs to it; I am...

"Delusional."

"Thank-you for pointing that out, Jack."

"No problem."

"I'm afraid it's clear that you mother is infected, you *have* to let us help her."

"Yes but...she's my mom, I can't just let anyone take her away, and...hey, what are you doing? " Blair started forward as Sam plunged a needle into the Goa'uld masquerading as his mother, catching her and laying her on the couch as she collapsed, clearly out for the count.

"I thought it best to sedate her before she harmed herself or anyone else. It's for her own good."

"But you can't...I mean, I still don't even really know who any of you are. And you, what kind of a doctor *are* you if you're not a medical doctor?"

"I'm...uh...I'm an archaeologist."

"But what has an archaeologist got to do with, hey wait a minute...Daniel Jackson, I've heard of you, didn't you write that paper on the cross pollination of races?"

"You know about that?"

"Oh yeah, I read it years ago, it was fascinating. I'm not sure I completely agreed, but you made some valid points, and it certainly made me think. Oh and, didn't I hear some talk about you claiming that aliens built the pyramids?"

"I never said that, all I said was that *some* of the structures were older than we had ever suspected; it was some dick in the audience who brought up the aliens. Why does everyone always assume..."

"Daniel, getting a little sidetracked here."

"What? Oh, sorry Jack, I just get so mad when people..."

"Daniel."

"Right. Sorry. Where were we?"

"You were about to explain how an archaeologist could help my mom."

"And *I'd* like to know who these other people are. I'm assuming military."

"Oh, right, yes. This is Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter, and, uhm..."

"I am Spartacus."

Teal'c stood impassively in the silence surrounding his pronouncement, oblivious to the six astounded pairs of eyes fixed on him.

"You're...Spartacus?" Blair looked a little doubtful, beginning to suspect that he was being duped in some bizarre way.

"Do you not have more pressing concerns than my designation, BlairSandburg?"

"Well, but..."

"So what if he's Spartacus, you got a problem with that Sandburg?"

"Show a little respect, O'Neill. Blair has every right to ask any questions he wants, and I intend to see he gets some answers."

"Oh Jim, thank-you."

"No problem cup-cake."

"Eeew, are you guys always so..."

"Sir, I believe they may have been...infected."

"Huh, oh yeah, but shouldn't they be..."

"Sir."

"Shouldn't we be what? What have we been infected with?" Worriedly, Jim drew Blair to him, hugging him protectively.

"Nothing to worry about, just a little...uh...you may be...you could be experiencing...?" Finding that explaining the curious effects of nish'ta was beyond his explaining capabilities, Jack once more firmly passed the ball. "Daniel?"

"You may find you're behaving a little out of character. This virus affects the libido, so your...amorous instincts may be amplified."

"That's what I was going to say...out of character...libido out of whack...feeling frisky."

"We're not acting out of character, are we Jim?"

"Of course we're not, precious."

"Sandburg, he has his hand in your shirt, and you have your hand, well, I can't actually see where you're hand is, but wherever it is, and whatever you're doing with it, from the big dopey grin on his face he obviously likes it."

"Hey, leave him alone, this is *our* home, and if he wants to...well...Blair sweetpea, you go right ahead and do whatever it is you want to do."

"I fully intend to honeybuns, and Colonel, there is *nothing* dopey about my Jim, he is the best, the most wonderful, the absolute..."

"Oh my god, you're *usually* like this? That is plain disturbing."

"Jack, it's their lives, we really don't have the right to..."

"Well actually, we've only just realised how we feel about each other, but we're certainly not *sick*. We're in love, aren't we, Jim?"

"Love. Absolutely."

"Aah, sweet, a real Hallmark moment."

"Sir, this isn't helping."

"Indeed it is not, O'Neill. I do not believe that levity is an appropriate response in this situation."

"Thank-you...Spartacus, I'm glad *someone* realises how serious this is. My mother is infected with some weird bug, and now you're saying that Jim and I could catch it too."

"In point of fact, I was saying you already..."

"Jack." Daniel cast a quelling glance at his wayward team leader before returning his focus to the two men whose trust he sought. "Mr. Sandburg, it really would be in your mother's best interests if she came with us, and there's no reason you both can't come with her to ensure her well-being. Then you can be checked out yourselves too, just in case you *have* been affected in some minor, completely superficial way."

"Blair baby, that does sound like the best move."

"Do you really think so, Jim?"

"I do, and don't worry, I'll take care of you *and* your mother."

"Oh Jim."

"Oh Blair."

"Oh for crying out loud."

"Well, if you're ready, we should get going."

"Where exactly *are* we going, Doctor Jackson?"

"I'm sorry, that's...uh..."

"That would be classified, Ellison."

Jim snorted, not in the least surprised.

"Oh, wait, will we be flying in one of those military transports?"

Blair had already begun to bounce in anticipation, reminding Jack disturbingly of Daniel, but he didn't let it soften him.

"Classified."

"How can that be classified, Jack? I mean, if we were travelling by flying carpet I can see that you would want to keep it secret, but what's so secret about a military aircraft?"

"Daniel, surely you've been around the military long enough by now to know that *everything* is classified."

"It's just, if we are then I need to get something." Blair hurried into his room, rifling through his desk drawers, finally withdrawing a small box.

"What's that?"

"Nothing *classified* Colonel. They're some special earplugs for Jim; he has trouble with his ears when we fly."

"Hey, Daniel, maybe you could get some too."

"Don't start with me Jack."



Blair sat within the sheltering embrace of his loved one's arms, his eyes fixed on his unconscious mother. She seemed so peaceful, so content. How was it possible that once again he was in danger pf losing her? "Jim, she'll be alright, won't she?"

"Of course she will sweetheart. These people seem to know what their doing, and if they didn't think they could help her then they wouldn't be taking us...wherever."

Blair looked over to the four people who had so recently erupted into his life. "They're looking at us again."

"They're probably talking about us."

"Can you hear what they're saying?"

"Not with these white noise generators in my ears, but if you want to know I'll take them out. I'd do anything for you, sugar."

"I know you would, but I wouldn't want you to get a headache."

"You're so thoughtful baby."

"No, you are, I don't know what I'd do without you."

"You'll never have to know, 'cause I plan on always being here."

"Jim, what they said about us being infected, you don't think..."

"There's nothing wrong with either of us, we could have realised at any moment what we felt for each other. It's pure coincidence that it happened now."

"But what if it isn't, what if..."

"There is no 'what if'. This is real and forever."

"I feel the same, but it scares me that...what if what they do to us makes us forget?"

"Blair, there is *nothing* that they or anyone else can say or do that will make me forget that I love you."

Blair sighed, laying his head against the broad shoulder, Jim's arm holding his close, Jim's free hand grasped tightly in both of his.



"Would you look at those to? I swear, they can't have lost contact with each other for more than a nanosecond this whole time, and if Sandburg gets any closer he'll be right in Ellison's *lap* ."

"It's almost certainly the effects of the nish'ta, Colonel. I'm sure they're not normally so...tactile."

"Yeah, about that Carter. If they've been zapped by the happy juice, shouldn't they be mooning over Nephthys?"

"Not necessarily Sir. The vapour simply increases the libidinous instincts, like a very powerful aphrodisiac, so if there was an existing attraction between them, particularly if that attraction had been repressed, then the nish'ta could act as a catalyst, bringing those feelings to the fore."

"How nice for them."

"And for us too, Jack. I doubt convincing them to come with us would have been so easy if their minds hadn't been clouded with...uh..."

"Lust?"

"Essentially, yes."

"Sweet. So Teal'c what's with the 'I am Spartacus' thing?"

"I no longer wish to be known as Murray, that name holds no honour."

"And Spartacus does?"

"Indeed. Spartacus was a great warrior who strove to free his people from the tyranny of slavery. A noble undertaking and one to which I pay tribute by availing myself of his appellation."

"Hate to break it to you big guy, but that was Kirk Douglas."

"Actually Jack, Kirk Douglas just played him in the movie. Both the slave rebellion *and* the man who led it are historical fact."

"He was real? Well hell, who knew?"

"I did, as did DanielJackson. I am constantly astounded, O'Neill that you are so ill informed in regard to your Tau'ri heritage, particularly taking into consideration the quantity of time spent in DanielJackson's company."

"I have better things to do with Daniel than talk about ancient history." Catching sight of Daniel's scowling glare, Jack reviewed his sentence, realising that he could, perhaps, have phrased it more sensitively. "Okay, that didn't come out right. What I meant was..."

"Maybe you should stop before you get in any deeper, Jack."

"Ah, crap.



Hunched over in the observation booth, looking down on his sleeping mother, Blair thought back over how much his life had changed in such a short time. He and Jim had already been thoroughly poked, prodded, and for some unexplained reason, shocked, before being pronounced cured. He cringed as he remembered how he had fawned over Jim, forgetting in his mortification that the gushing had been mutual. He heard someone enter behind him, and was half-afraid and half hoping that it was Jim. Looking up he saw that the new arrival was Doctor Jackson, the *not* medical archaeologist.

"She's going to be fine. The...specialists have given her the antidote and the...virus is gone."

"She still looks so..."

"She's sleeping, that's all. She needs time to recover from the stress, but she *will* recover Mr. Sandburg."

"Thank-you, and please, it's Blair."

"And I'm Daniel. How are *you* feeling Blair?"

"You were right, we had been infected. It was the virus that was making us..."

"No, the virus just affected the expression of your emotions; it never created the actual emotions. That was all you."

"But Jim.."

"*Both* of you."

"You don't understand, Jim isn't...I mean...he's not...he's always been..."

"And you haven't been?"

"Well, yes, but...

"So why should he be different, why do assume you're the only one who would change his orientation because he fell in love?"

"But Jim's always been so...so..."

"Trust me; they're the ones who always fall the hardest."

"I still can't believe that Jim..."

"Look, the virus pumped up your libidos, who you directed those feelings at was optional. If it was random, then wouldn't Jim have been more interested in your mother? You say he's always been straight, and she *is* a very attractive woman."

"They were standing pretty close together when I got back."

"But I'll bet the moment he saw you he forgot there was even anyone else in the room, had eyes only for you, right?"

"Pretty much, yes."

"So you see, he made his choice; he chose you."

"He did, didn't he?" Feeling considerably more hope for the future, Blair beamed at Daniel, deciding he liked his new friend very much. "It still won't be easy, he's a cop, and cops aren't known for their tolerance."

"Tell me about it, I work at a military base, you think cops are bad, you should try dealing with the marines."

"I thought there were 'no gays in the military'?"

"Yeah, right. I think the top brass thought up 'don't ask, don't tell' just so they could go on believing that."

"You sound like you're speaking from experience."

"I might be."

"You and the Colonel, you're..."

"I never said that."

"No, but still."

"Still."

"Don't worry; I'm not in the habit of causing trouble, not deliberately, anyway. So were you...you know, before."

"No, this is a first, for both of us."

"Love's a funny thing, isn't it?"

"Funny, inconvenient, unexpected, strange, awkward, but ultimately the most amazing experience in the universe."

"Yeah. So was your Colonel...okay with stuff? Only, Jim has a tendency to...repress. He's really big on control."

"Oh I know all about control. Jack has this idea that I need to stay safe, and I have this idea that I need to do my job. I get the silent treatment for days every time I get hurt."

"I get yelled at. You know, you'd think Jim would have realised by now that there's no way I'm going to stay in the truck if he's in danger. He's always there though, anytime I'm hurt or sick, he's right there beside me."

"Jack too, he has his own special chair in the infirmary, with padding. All that sitting around was killing his back."

"Have you ever regretted..."

"Not for a single moment, not even when he's at his most obnoxious."

"What, he's not perfect?"

"Only in his own mind, but then, in *his* mind, his jokes are funny."

"I noticed that."

"He still believes I don't know that he uses humour to mask his emotions, I mean, *nobody* could be *that* much of an insensitive jerk without an ulterior motive."

"Jim goes all silent and stoic. He has this teeth grinding thing he does that drives me insane, and I swear he'd rather pickle his own liver in aspic than admit that he has a problem."

"Jack's the same. He's quite willing to share when he's pissed, endlessly and vociferously, but if anything serious goes wrong, he retreats and tries to deal with it himself."

"Yeah, that's it exactly, Jim *hates* to be dependant on anyone, trust is a *huge* hurdle for him."

"Trust. It always comes down to that in the end, doesn't it? I have to admit, I had a lot of problems with it myself at first, I just wasn't used to relying on anyone, but I got over it once I realised that Jack, that *all* my team really were on my side, that they would always back me up and support me; so now we're family."

"That's nice. I guess that's what the military *should* be."

"But so rarely is. I think they worry that if a team gets too close then they'll trash a mission to save each other."

"Wouldn't you?"

"Sometimes you don't have that option."

"But I don't get it, you're an archaeologist, what could you possibly be doing that is so dangerous?"

"I'm sorry, that's..."

"I know, classified, forget I asked man. Do you know where Jim is? He's probably obsessing about what happened between us, and I really should go and calm him down him before starts waxing floors or checking stationary."

"You're kidding, right?"

"Nu-huh. Last time he had a problem he'd laundered all the couch covers and re-grouted the bathroom before he told me what was bugging him."

"Oh my god, I thought Jack was bad."

"I'm telling you, the man has the weirdest house rules. He once mentioned getting plastic covers for the furniture, and I'm *still* not completely sure he was kidding. So, I should probably..."

"Oh, right, Jack went to find him when I came here, so by now they're either getting on like a house on fire, or one of them is looking for a place to hide the body."

"Well, if Jim sees him as a threat, then that's entirely possible."

"God, Alpha Males, what can you do?"

"Yeah, but you gotta love them. Speaking of which, I don't suppose you...uh..."

"Have any tips?"

"Right. *Practical* tips."

"First thing is not to panic; you just want to take things easy and not do anything that freaks either of you out."

"Easier said than done. Almost anything new will freak Jim out. Still, I suppose there are always blow jobs since they have the advantage of being familiar territory."

"Well, actually that's not as straightforward as you might think."

"Really, women seem to be born with the ability."

"I know, my respect for them is boundless, it's like the way they can take off a bra through a sleeve...there is *nothing* a guy can do that rivals that."

"Oh yeah, that is *so* cool. But getting back to uh...you know...what's the big deal?"

"Teeth, for a start, they really get in the way, and then there's breathing, but that could just be me and my sinuses. First time I tried it with Jack his...uh...my nose got...tickled and I sneezed at totally the wrong time and my chin whacked against his...uh, him. It took about an hour to get him down off the ceiling."

"Gross. But you did get better, didn't you?"

"Eventually, but I had to practice for a couple of weeks with a banana before he would let me near him again."

"God, I had no idea it would be so hard."

"Sorry, I didn't mean to give you that impression, the hardest part really is admitting you love each other, once that's done, the rest can be worked out."

"I guess, after all, we'll be real motivated."

"Absolutely, and the working out part is just as much fun as getting it right...more even. And you can always do some research before you try the complicated stuff."

"I could do that, I'm good at research."

"Me too. I can give you a reading list while we look for them if you like."

"I'm down with that, man; I have a pen right here. This is going to be fun."



"Hey, how you doing?"

"Better. Sandburg's checking on his mother."

"I know."

"Probably not a lot goes on around here that you don't know, huh?"

"You'd be surprised."

"Look, I'm sorry about earlier. I'm...we're usually not so..."

"Mushy."

"Uh, yeah. I guess it was the...uh...virus making us..."

"Mushy."

"Yeah. Your doctor says we're fine now."

"So that's good, right?"

"Sure, it's good, just...do you think maybe there's a little left in my system...somewhere...lurking?"

"Unlikely. The doc didn't seem to think this was a lurking kind of virus."

"Oh."

"You know, according to Carter and Daniel the...virus only brought out what was already there...a catalyst."

"Oh. And you buy that? "

"I find it's best to just nod and look thoughtful when they get their teeth into something, because believe me, between the two of them there's enough brainpower to run a small planet."

"So, you think maybe Sandburg might still want to...uh..."

"Do you?"

"Oh yeah."

"Then."

"Well okay...except.."

"What?"

"He'll make me talk it through."

"Damn. Daniel makes me do that too. Do you think it's something they teach them in school...geek 101?"

"Who knows, could be. 'How to be aggravating in any social setting'. God knows, it has to come from somewhere because nothing is naturally that irritating. You know, Sandburg *likes* museums and lectures and once he even volunteered us to go on some hinky policing the community seminar because he thought it sounded like *fun*, how weird is *that*?"

"I know. Daniel can spend hours checking footnotes and re-cataloguing his reference texts. And you can't take him anywhere, because he knows *everything*, and never fails to helpfully point out to people all the things they're getting wrong."

"Sandburg likes to watch movies and bitch about authenticity."

"Hey, Daniel does that too. He *loves* both the Mummies and all three Indiana Jones films because they give him so much scope for pissiness."

"Thing is, I'd miss it if he didn't bitch and moan now."

"That is the thing, isn't it? And I gotta say, no matter how high maintenance Daniel can be, ultimately he's more than worth the time and trouble."

"Yeah, Sandburg too."

"And it's not like I'm perfect...almost, but not quite."

"Well yeah, I guess I can be a *bit* difficult at times, although I really don't see what's so wrong in wanting to keep the loft neat and tidy...how can that be anal?"

"Sounds entirely reasonable to me. How hard is it to use a hanger, and put wet towels in the hamper and not in a heap in the corner?"

"Absolutely, that's what I'm always saying. I mean, how hard *is* that?"

"Not hard at all."

"And what's wrong with colour coded Tupperware?"

"What?"

"Colour coded Tupperware, to keep our food easily identifiable."

"No, actually, that is kind of anal."

"Oh. What about no flushing after 10?"

"That's just bizarre."

"Oh." Jim paused for a moment, taking in the possibility that Blair might not be the difficult one in their relationship, whatever that relationship might be. "So, you think Sandburg might...uh..."

"Almost certainly. Do you always call him Sandburg?"

"Sure, it's his name; what's wrong with calling him Sandburg?"

"Just, if you're going to...don't you think maybe you should at least be on first name terms?"

"Sometimes I call him Chief."

"What is he, a German Shepherd?"

"It's a pet name."

"It's a *pet's* name...what does he call you, Fido?"

"He calls me Jim."

"Well there you go."

"Maybe I could give calling him Blair a try."

"Whatever floats your boat."

"Trouble is, where Sandburg's concerned, I have no idea, what...uh...I mean, he always seem to have a stream of nubile women following him around, so what if when we...what if I can't...you know."

"I wouldn't worry about it; it's actually easier with a guy than with a girl."

"It is?"

"Sure. Well, think about it, you're a guy, he's a guy, so chances are if you like something he'll like it too."

"So you're saying I should do to him what I'd like done to me?"

"That's it, can't go wrong."

"I could do that. Will we be able to get out of here soon?"

"Not tonight, tomorrow maybe...sorry. But you know what, it's been a stressful day, so I guess I could arrange a V.I.P. suite for you, if you were, you know...fatigued."

"You know, now that you mention it, I *do* feel a little wiped. These suites, do they have...uh...beds?"

"Oh yeah, king size. Nothing but the best for *our* V.I.P.s."

"What about surveillance cameras?"

"Installed, but I can get them switched off."

"Sounds good. Why don't we go round up my anthropologist, then we can get down to some serious...resting."



Blair lingered by the closed door, still unsure of how to proceed. He looked over to where Jim fidgeted by the enormous bed, apparently equally as unnerved. Daniel had convinced him that Jim's feelings for him were as genuine as his own for Jim, but now that they were here, alone, he wasn't quite so confident.

What if this was just a big mistake, and all Jim really wanted was to forget all that had happened at the loft? Maybe it would be best if he himself pretended that the whole episode was meaningless, was just an aberration caused by the virus. But no, he didn't think his obfuscation skills could deal with a falsehood of that magnitude.

Ultimately, it was the belief that their relationship could not survive such fundamental deception that decided him, after all a little...actually a whole lot of humiliation and awkwardness was infinitely better than the loss of his friend. Of one thing he was certain, that even if Jim no longer returned his feelings, he would never reproach Blair for expressing his devotion. And if it turned out that Jim...straight-as-a-dye...Ellison couldn't handle knowing that his roommate was in love with him, well, he could always repress the knowledge, considering he was such an expert at denial. Whatever the outcome, he knew he had to at least try. "Jim."

"Blair. Your mom okay?"

"Much better, resting comfortably, no lasting effects."

"Good, glad to hear it. So...uh...here we are then."

"Yeah, here we are. Nice room."

"Yeah, not bad. O'Neill thought we might need to...rest."

"How thoughtful."

"Yeah."

"So, you got on well with him then?"

"Who, O'Neill? Sure, he's okay...for a flyboy."

"Okay, wow, that's high praise coming from you."

"Jackson seemed to be a decent guy."

"Oh yeah, Daniel's cool. We've traded e-mail addresses."

"Why?"

"To keep in touch."

"Well obviously to keep in touch, I meant, why would you want to keep in touch?"

"I like him, and we have a lot in common."

"Like what?"

"We work in similar fields, and we're both associated with...uh...somewhat regimented authoritarian...organizations."

"He works for the military and you just ride along with me...that's hardly comparable."

"Essentially it is, Jim, the concerns we both have are similar. Besides, there's...uh..."

"What?"

"Uhm, Jim, do you think...I mean...before, when we uh...you said...oh man this is hard."

"Yes."

"Huh?"

"What you were asking...yes."

"Jim, I didn't actually ask anything."

"Oh."

"I was thinking though..."

"Yes?"

"Uhm, Daniel was saying, about the virus...uh..."

"Yes?"

"Uhm, he was saying that it probably...uh...maybe only forced us to realise...uh, I mean, we wouldn't have felt so...if..."

"Right, yes."

"What?"

"O'Neill said much the same thing, you know, that we would have felt...you know, anyway, even if we hadn't ever...uh...."

"Oh."

"Except..."

"Except what?"

"Well, I mean, normally we would never be so..."

"Sappy."

"Mushy."

"Mushy, no we would never be so mushy. So you're saying that even without the virus we would still...uh..."

"Yeah, at least, would you...still...I mean, do you?"

"Oh yeah, what about you?"

"Absolutely."

"Jim, we are talking about the same thing, aren't we?"

"Sure."

"Do you think you could actually *say* it, just this once?"

"God, I *knew* you were going to make me talk."

"Look, I promise you, I'm not going to be asking for constant affirmations of undying love, but it's been a hell of a day, and *just this once* I need to *hear* how you feel and what you want from me. I have to know that this isn't just a...a hangover from the virus, that you won't change your mind as soon as we're back in Cascade. Please, Jim."

"I love you, I need you and I want us to be together for as long as you'll have me, okay?"

"Yeah, that's...okay."

"And?"

"And what?"

"What about you? I mean, I've said, so shouldn't you...you know...reciprocate."

"Oh, god, right, sorry man. I feel the same."

"That's it, you *feel the same*? That's the best you can do?"

"Well..."

"You get all bent out of shape, say you need to know how I feel, well what about me? Don't I deserve something too?"

"Jim, I..."

"I mean, it's not like I'm asking you to give up a kidney or anything, all I want is..."

"Jim, I love you, I do, I really really do, I just never...look, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so inconsiderate."

"No, it's okay, it's like you said, a rough day."

"It has, but, well, I guess it's harder to say than I thought, especially since I've never said it before."

"You're kidding."

"Nope, it's not the kind of thing I would say if I didn't mean it, and I never *have* meant it before."

"But...all those girls."

"Exactly, Jim...*all* those girls. There's not one of them I would be prepared to change my life for, not the way I have for you. The closest was Maya, and if I'd really been as much in love with her as I wanted to be, then no way would I have let her walk away from me. I know if *you* ever tried to leave I'd...I'd superglue myself to you so you'd have to take me with you."

"That's...sweet, warped, but sweet. You wanted to be in love with Maya?"

"I don't know. I wanted to be in love with *someone*. I was beginning to think I was incapable of falling deeply in love with *anyone*. Maybe I should have stopped chasing around after every pretty face I saw and considered that the reason I couldn't commit to any of them was that I was already committed to you, as completely and permanently as it's possible for one person to be to another."

"Oh, that's...uh...nice, I mean..."

"It's okay Jim, I meant what I said about not expecting you to *talk*. You can be the usual stoic, repressed, and inhibited you that I fell in love with. No need to change the habits of a lifetime just to please little old me."

"Gee, you're all heart, Sandburg. And it's too late, I've already changed because of you, I guess that's what happens when you love someone. Hey, see that, I brought up the love thing without any prompting at all, didn't even flinch."

"My hero."

"So, if we're done talking, maybe we could...uh...you know."

"Now?"

"Well, we have this whole big bed here; it would be a shame to waste it."

"Are you sure there's no-one watching, I mean, this *is* a military base, you know what they're like about surveillance."

"O'Neill promised me he'd get the cameras switched off."

"I'd say that makes him more than 'okay', right Jim?"

"He's not bad."

"Woohoo, an upgrade."

"Sandburg..."

"Talking done, no more talk from me, nu-huh, not one word, not one little..."

"Sandburg, get you ass bare and over here, pronto."

"Man, you weren't kidding about no sap."

"No, and you love me anyway."

"Yes Jim, I do."

"Right then, let's move this along."

"But, are you sure we're ready..."

"Sandburg, if I was any more ready it would be illegal."

"Yeah, but, ah hell, I guess we can always wing it if we...uh..."

"Right, we're both adaptable guys."

"Well, I'm adaptable...you're rigid and uncompromising, but hey, I can work with that."

"Oh god, I must be nuts, what the hell am I letting myself in for?"

"A lifetime of new and wonderful experiences, the freedom to express your deepest desires with the absolute knowledge that I will do my level best to fulfil them, stimulating conversation with a wise and witty companion, oh, and let's not forget the mind-blowing sex. Jim, I swear, I am going to be *so* good for you, you won't know what's hit you."

"Sandburg, you are so full of it."

"Doesn't change the fact that I mean every word. I love you Jim, and we *are* going to have a great life."

"You're right, we are, so how about demonstrating some of that mind-blowing sex, huh?"

"How did I know that was the one part that would register with you?"

"The rest registered too, just, you know, maybe for later."

"Yeah, about the mind-blowing sex, I'm confident that in time what we do together will be phenomenal, but for now, maybe not quite so...uh...miraculous."

"Chief, I never expected it to be perfect right off; all I care about is that you're right in there with me...practicing."

"Wow Jim, you're getting real good at this romantic stuff."

"It's even better if you're naked and horizontal."

"That's my Jim, always practical."



Daniel flicked through several pages, looking for that one elusive passage that would support his conclusions that the texts dumped on him by SG-8 were in fact, of no use whatsoever. So engrossed was he that he was completely oblivious to the man standing in the doorway, a soft smile lighting his tired face.

"Hey Daniel."

"Jack, are you done?"

"Done, finished, and *so* out of here. You about ready to make tracks?"

"I guess. Have the Tok'Ra left yet?"

"Yup, jumping with glee at the chance to interrogate a brand new Goa'uld, although I don't see what they'll get out of her, seeing as the bitch has been living in exile on earth for the last few centuries."

"I don't know, she is the mother of Anubis; maybe they're hoping she can give them some insights into how to fight him. You never know, they might even be able to supply us with some useful information once they're done with Nephthys."

"Ya think?"

"Probably not, but you never know."

"You never give up on anyone, do you Daniel?"

"Not if I can help it, no. What about Naomi Sandburg? Did Janet say how she was coming on; being a host is no picnic after all."

"Actually, it's looking pretty good there. According to the Doc, being a flake has saved her from any severe emotional and mental trauma."

"Flake? Funny, I never knew that that was a medical term."

"Okay, she may not have used quite those terms, but it's what she meant. As far as Ms. Sandburg is concerned, she's been through a strange and unique spiritual journey during which she was visited by the spirit of a goddess."

God, what a flake...unbelievable."

"Makes it easier for us."

"You'd never think a woman like that could produce someone like Blair."

"You really got on with him, didn't you?"

"Sure, he's bright, funny good sense of humour, what's not to like? You got on okay with Jim, didn't you?"

"Ellison? He's not so bad."

"Good, because I thought maybe we could invite them to the cabin sometime."

"What, why?"

"I just thought it would be nice, you know, being with people we don't have to pretend with, someone in the same boat kind of."

"Oh, well, I guess that wouldn't be so bad."

"Do you think they'll make it...together?"

"It hasn't been the easiest start, but they seem to really care for each other so I'm pretty sure they'll be able to sort out any problems. Yes, I think they'll make it."

"Good. You know, I'm almost jealous."

"Jealous, of who, which one...why would you be jealous?"

"Jack, calm down, I'm not jealous of either of them, it's more...they have it all ahead of them, the discovery, the getting to know each other, everything new and...and fresh."

"Well yeah, but we have the intimacy of what's known, what's comfortable. We have each other Daniel, that's not so bad, is it?"

"No, it's not so bad at all. It really does keep getting better, doesn't it?"

"It does for me. So, ready to go home?"

"Yeah, I want to pop in tomorrow though, see Jim and Blair before they leave."

"The General wants that too, then we can get started on that downtime. Alone, just the two of us in the cabin, miles from anywhere."

"Sounds good to me."

"Sweet, and this time I'm tossing out the phone and confiscating your computer."

"Ja-ack..."

"A-a-a-h." Waving a warning finger in his friend's face, Jack hauled him out of his chair and began dragging him out the door. "Not negotiable Daniel. This time, it's someone else's turn to save the world; *we* are on holiday."

***The End***
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