|Primary Characters:||Jack, Daniel, Sam|
|Warning:||m/m sex implied|
|Description:||Aphrodite shows up and gets two SG teams under her spell, including Jack and Daniel. The Gu’a’uld’s host is killed and makes Daniel her new host. Things get a little embarrassing for Jack, and a total nightmare for Daniel.|
Planet 5776547 didn’t appear to be in any way different from the dozens of planets that the SG teams had investigated during the time the Stargate project had been going on. No problems were expected. The telemetry from the probe didn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary. Just another routine mission for SG5.
Until they didn’t come back within the specified time frame. General Hammond still didn’t feel it was cause for concern. Technology isn’t infallible, especially not over the vast distances involved in wormhole travel. He dispatched SG2 to investigate. But by the time their signal failed to come in, the General decided to send SG1 to get to the bottom of the situation.
They still maintained video contact with the planet on the other side of the wormhole, but nothing appeared to be wrong with the idyllic scene on the screen. Technicians failed to uncover any tampering with the signal, so what could be wrong?
While Teal’c, Captain Carter and Daniel Jackson were all still at the base, Colonel O’Neill turned out to be in his house, getting re-acquainted with his wife. Though an Air Force plane was ready to take him back to the Cheyenne Mountains, there was still a delay of a few hours.
For the first time since they were newlyweds, O’Neill felt a reluctance to leave Sarah. The Stargate project was the greatest achievement Earth had made so far, but there are times when a man just wants some peace and quiet, with his wife. Sarah kissed her husband goodbye, fully expecting to see him again as usual, in two days’ time, when her own work shift began. After all, this was still a rather routine mission.
On arrival, Colonel O’Neill changed into his uniform, picked up his weapons and joined the rest of the SG1 team in the Stargate room. When he saw the looks Captain Carter and Daniel Jackson exchanged, O’Neill looked away. He was very happy with Sarah, but somehow it got to him, seeing Daniel with Samantha, and he couldn’t help wondering how things might have been.
Still, he was determined not to make an issue out of it. He and Daniel had in some ways worked out their differences, and the last thing O’Neill wanted was to jeopardize their working relationship. The SG1 team was very important to him. Maybe not quite as important as Sarah, but close enough.
The technicians began dialling the code for planet 5776547. As always, the countdown served to increase the adrenaline flow for all the SG1 members, with the possible exception of Teal’c. How Jaffa reacted to positive stress wasn’t known at present. Perhaps Janet Fraiser might make a study of the subject.
When the last chevron was encoded, O’Neill stepped into the wormhole, closely followed by Teal’c, and the other two. The wonder of stepping from Earth and arriving seconds later in a distant part of the galaxy never paled. This planet as most of the others seemed idyllic and peaceful to the Earthlings. No pollution, no traffic, no buildings even, at least not within sight of the Stargate. In the distance some dark silhouettes suggested there might be traces of a civilization long gone, but that was all.
Colonel O’Neill told Teal’c and Carter to investigate to the west, while he and Daniel Jackson walked to the south. They were to rendez-vous in an hour, by the Stargate to exchange information and to cover the remaining directions of the compass. This was a very cursory examination at best, but that was how the earlier SG teams had been instructed to proceed, so it seemed best to follow in their footsteps, figuratively speaking.
Samantha felt relieved not to be working with Daniel. She loved him now more than ever, when he had finally found the courage to tell her how he felt about her, but his naive and rather immature brand of love and admiration sometimes made for very slow going at work. How were they to keep their relationship if not a secret, then at least restricted to the knowledge of their closest friends?
Such things never seemed to worry Daniel. Sometimes, Sam suspected Daniel had never been truly in love before, and even, but she hardly dared to even think this, that he had never been in a real relationship before. He had appeared deliberately vague on the subject of former lovers and Sam hadn’t wanted to pressure him. If she was the first, for all intents and purposes, so much the better.
The search was uneventful. At the appointed hour Sam and Teal’c returned to the rendez-vous point. They were a few minutes early, and they sat down on the ground to have some water and rations. But when the hour came and passed, there was a worried frown on Sam’s forehead. What were the others doing? She decided to call them on the communicator. No reply.
“Shall I go and investigate, Captain Carter?”
Sam considered Teal’c’s offer. They shouldn’t be walking around on their own, but if some equipment malfunction was behind the breakdown in communications, then a quick look around might solve her problem without having to call back to base for backup.
On the other hand, there was no apparent reason why Jack and Daniel should have failed to report back at the Stargate. This might be exactly what the other teams had run into. Still hesitating, she finally made the decision to let Teal’c investigate.
“But be extremely cautious. Make sure your approach isn’t detected and report back to me any signs of unusual phenomena etc.”
The Jaffa bowed in acknowledgement and turned and left. Though Sam was trying very hard not to admit to herself that was beginning to feel the first stirrings of concern. She wasn’t used to giving herself over to panic attacks. If she had, she would never have made it through the Academy, let alone risen in rank as quickly as she had.
But Daniel was such a big baby at times. And come to think of it, so was Jack. Men always insisted on taking unnecessary risks, when there was nothing to gain. Daniel would try to communicate with hostile aliens no matter what, and Jack never could stop himself from interfering and aggravating a situation with his constant suspicions.
Sam took to pacing around nervously, staring at her watch, glancing in the direction where Teal’c had disappeared, and back towards the Stargate. She was beginning to question her decision to allow Teal’c to go off on his own. Perhaps it would have been more prudent to return to Earth right away and let General Hammond deal with any decision-making that had to be done. But she had made her decision and she had to accept that.
By the time she was rapidly getting convinced Teal’c had fallen victim to whatever the other SG teams had been exposed to, he showed up, as always with an unreadable serene expression on his face. At this time, it infuriated Sam not to be able to guess what he had to tell her before he got close enough to speak.
“Captain Carter, I believe I have an explanation for the disappearances.”
“Yes? Tell me about it.”
“Most of the men are accounted for.”
“Are they alright?”
“They do not appear to be injured in any way, but their behavior is irrational.”
“In what way?”
“When I approached, I saw them sitting on the ground, doing nothing, staring in the direction of a woman standing inside the ruins of a Gu’a’uld temple. She was standing by the altar and -“
“Yes, yes. What was she doing to the men?”
“She did not appear to be doing anything.”
“She was just standing there? Why?”
“I believe she is a Gu’a’uld. And I believe I know who she is.”
“Who is she?”
Sam was beginning to get a little fed up with this one-sided conversation. It felt as if there was an echo, or as if she was trying to communicate with a computer program.
“Oh. She’s like Hathor, isn’t she? So these men have been hypnotized or something?”
“I am not familiar with that expression.”
“She has them under some kind of mind control.”
“I believe so.”
“I see. Then we must return to Earth at once and ask for reinforcements. Preferably women. We seen to be immune to her charms. Come to think of it, so are you. You weren’t affected by Hathor the last time, were you?
If she didn’t know any better, Sam could have sworn the Jaffa was blushing, but she didn’t have time to marvel at that surprising fact. They were in trouble. Big trouble. General Hammond would have to sort this out, but Samantha hoped she would be among those chosen to fight the Gu’a’uld.
She knew from experience that Hathor’s influence was completely wasted on her and Janet. Fleetingly, she wondered what would happen if Apollon ever were to make an appearance. In that case, she and the other women might be just as susceptible to his charms.
“Did you see Daniel – Dr Jackson – and Colonel O’Neill?”
“And they were safe?”
“They appeared to be.”
“Good. Let’s dial home. The General needs to have this report as soon as possible.”
Less than an hour later, Captain Carter, Teal’c and General Hammond were sitting around the conference table, worried frowns on the human faces.
“Sir, may I suggest an all woman team?”
“I’m not sure, Captain. We don’t have enough women to call in at such short notice. A shame, but there it is.”
“What if we make this a small, mobile operation? Dr Fraiser, Teal’c and I could -“
“Negative, Captain. You will need more backup than that. Even if we send in Landry and Wilson, you will still be at a disadvantage. Remember that this Aphrodite commands the loyalties of SG5 and SG2, not to mention Colonel O’Neill and Dr Jackson. That’s ten men and one Gu’a’uld, against the five of you. Not enough. Teal’c, is there any way of making my men immune to this creature’s charms?”
“I am afraid not, General Hammond. It is only my symbiont that is protecting me from the effects.”
“I see. I was afraid of that. What if the men are deployed at a distance, far enough from Aphrodite not to see her clearly? They could cover them, while Captain Carter, Dr Fraiser and yourself confront the creature.”
“That is possible.”
“Very well. Then we will proceed. Captain Carter, will you brief Dr Fraiser? I will have the men gathered in the Stargate room.”
Two hours later, a very grim-looking group of men and women were standing in the Stargate room, awaiting the encoding of the dial up sequence. Even Dr Fraiser was heavily armed, in addition to carrying her med-kit. By now they knew better than to underestimate the enemy, even one appearing so deceptively harmless as a lovely woman.
In groups of twos and threes, the team passed through the Stargate, arriving on the other side to find the sun had gone down, and it was quite dark. Flashlights being part of their standard equipment, everyone just brought theirs out and continued, under Captain Carter’s command.
Teal’c guided them to the place where he had found the Gu’a’uld and her captive audience earlier in the day. Right now, no one was visible. Sam experienced a moment of panic. Aphrodite could have activated the Stargate and brought the SG teams with her to some distant planet.
But she fought down the panic and ordered the men into position. Teal’c, Dr Fraiser and Sam then moved on to search the ruins thoroughly. They didn’t have far to go. In a room, slightly less dilapidated than the rest of the temple ruins, Aphrodite was sitting, surrounded by her loyal subjects.
It was decided that Teal’c would tackle the Gu’a’uld, while Sam and Dr Fraiser were attempting to reach the men under Aphrodite’s spell. Sam noted that all the SG team members were still armed. This might turn ugly, if they didn’t handle the situation very carefully.
She located Jack and Daniel, but even when she moved right in front of them, there was no recognition on their faces. No signs of even acknowledging her presence. Their eyes appeared to be glazed over in some way, as if they were under the influence of some drug. Of course, Sam had seen this kind of thing before. But that knowledge did nothing to help the situation at hand. Still, she had to try.
“Daniel? Colonel O’Neill?”
It was a long time before they turned slowly and actually faced her. Sam felt cold. Daniel didn’t look as if he cared about her at all. But she knew that wasn’t his fault. She tried to reason with him and Jack, though she knew it was no use. They weren’t exactly hostile, merely indifferent.
At least to begin with. Once they realized that Aphrodite was under attack, they turned from Sam, to help defend their goddess. For a second, Sam lost control over the situation, and when the men posted around the site noticed that hostilites had ensued, one of them panicked and began shooting. Everyone in their normal senses took cover, but not the SG team members under the Gu’a’uld’s spell.
Sam winced when she saw two of their own men going down after being hit by friendly fire. Suddenly, Aphrodite wasn’t trying to defend herself anymore. Taking a bullet full in the chest, she crumpled up and fell. Within seconds, the body of her host was lying motionless on the ground.
Before anyone had time to react, the larvae scurried over the ground, lightning quick, and entered Daniel Jackson’s body. Sam was over by another SG team member who had been injured in the shoulder, and was too far away to reach the man she loved. Even if she had, she didn’t know what she could have done. She was forced to helplessly watch how Daniel ceased to be himself and turn into a Gu’a’uld slave.
By now she had pulled herself together enough to know that the situation was hopeless. They wouldn’t get their men back this way, so she called to the men under her command to cease fire and fall back. Teal’c managed to grab Colonel O’Neill, and though he struggled to free himself, Jack found himself being carried back through the Stargate.
As soon as they had arrived back on Earth, Aphrodite’s influence wore off, and a very sheepish looking O’Neill tried to explain his unusual conduct. Sam, too, felt very much a failure. The operation had gotten out of hand, and now the men who were still under the Gu’a’uld’s spell were further than ever from rescue.
Dr Fraiser and Sam had been able to bring back one of the wounded men, who was now recovering in the infirmary. But the other one – and for all they knew, more of their own had been hurt in the struggle – was still back on planet 5776547. They were still in enemy hands.
Sam, Colonel O’Neill, Teal’c and General Hammond met again in the conference room. They agreed to send one more team through the Stargate. This time to attempt to negotiate with Aphrodite. So far they hadn’t heard any of her demands. It was also decided that they would try to contact the Tok’ra, in case they could be of help.
But they knew far too well that any outside help would be long in coming, and perhaps by then it would be too late anyway. Not surprisingly, Colonel O’Neill insisted on being allowed to come along, and in fact lead the negotiations.
“Are you sure that’s such a good idea, Colonel?”
“Yes, sir. With all due respect, I should have handled this better, I’m the one who needs to straighten things out. No, thanks, Carter, I won’t listen to your input right now.”
“You must be aware of the dangers. One more look at this Aphrodite and you’ll be -“
“I’m aware of that, sir, but I’ll make sure I don’t look into her eyes, and I’ll keep my distance. If I remember correctly, that Hathor creature needed to be quite – uh – close to work her stuff on me.”
General Hammond appeared to consider Jack’s suggestion for a moment. Then he gave his consent. Sam wasn’t happy about it. She knew from experience how many missions that had been jeopardized by Jack’s volatile temper. This was Daniel’s life on the line.
Not until now had the full implications of the situation dawned on her. Daniel was imprisoned inside a body now fully controlled by Aphrodite. There was no way of knowing how she would use his body. And all the while Daniel would be somewhere inside, helpless. She would have to find a way of rescuing him. Somehow.
This time, a much smaller team went through the Stargate. While they had been gone, Aphrodite had wasted no time contacting her lover Ares, but fortunately for the SG teams, she hadn’t had time to get one of the Gu’a’uld mother ships. All she had at her command were the SG teams, until Ares arrived.
That was something the new team had no knowledge of when they travelled to Aphrodite’s planet. Teal’c, Sam and O’Neill approached the temple that seemed to be the Gu’a’uld’s main quarters. She awaited them quite calmly. The uninjured SG teams under her command held their weapons ready to fire at Aphrodite’s command, but so far she made no sign for them begin hostilities again.
Sam noted with irritation how the Gu’a’uld postured herself to display a pleasing image to them, forgetting perhaps that she was now inside a male host, and would not make such an impact on any impressionable men. It was unbearable to see Daniel used that way, and Sam promised herself she would find a way of killing that Gu’a’uld before she irrovocably damaged Daniel’s body and ruined his chances of ever returning to normal.
“Ok, Aphrodite. Let’s get down to business. You have our men, we want them back. How can we work this out?”
“Look at us.”
“I’ve had quite enough of looking at you, thank you very much. Are you going to deal or what?”
“Come closer. Jack?”
“Yeah, that’s my name. But I’m quite comfy right here.”
“You asked us what it is we want. I tell you what we would like, and you deny us. This isn’t a good way of doing – what was it you said? – business. You are a very handsome man, Jack O’Neill. It would be our pleasure to make you our First Prime.”
“Sorry, no can do.”
Colonel O’Neill felt his ears reaching a quite uncomfortable temperature. Of course, he knew that Daniel wasn’t really there, but looking at his body standing there, it was eerie to hear the flirtatious tone of voice issuing from those lips.
He was glad only Teal’c and Carter was here. In fact having Sam present was close to intolerable. But he knew her first concern would be for Daniel, not for any discomfort he himself might be suffering.
“Ok, now that we have established that, come up with another suggestion.”
“It is our wish to establish ourselves on this planet. These men -“
She indicated the armed SG team members hanging on her every word.
“These men will be our first Jaffa.”
“Look, we can’t really let you do that, ok. So if you just give us our men back, including the man, uh, who’s body you’re, uh, using right now, we’ll let you get going. No hostilities again, promise.”
The Gu’a’uld threw back Daniel’s head and laughed. Apparently Jack’s talents at negociation weren’t quite what was needed. But he had never expected it to be easy.
Sam was squirming uncomfortably. It was a torment, having to watch Daniel like this. A soulless automaton, controlled by an evil alien creature. But their hands were tied. Like this, Daniel, and all the other SG team members were hostages.
They could start firing at the enemy, but doing so would most certainly kill Daniel and who knew how many others. This Gu’a’uld didn’t appear to be in any way amenable to persuasion.
It seemed they had run into a dead end, and they weren’t sure how to defuse the situation. Sam caught O’Neill’s attention and they moved back a few paces, so they could confer without Aphrodite overhearing them.
“I don’t want Daniel to get hurt. We have to ask the Tok’ra for help. Or Thor’s people.”
“I know. I agree. But in the meantime -“
“In the meantime we have no choice but to go back and wait.”
“I suppose you’re right, Carter. Let’s fall back.”
It was frustrating not to be able to do anything. But by the time they returned, there had already been word from the Tok’ra. They appeared to have experimented with a drug that would force the Gu’a’uld symbiont out of a human host, without harming the host. Dr Fraiser was able to make the drug, using raw materials available on Earth.
But it took time, time during which the situation on Aphrodite’s world escalated rapidly. She wasted no time sleeping. By the time Ares arrived, she had already prepared to meet him in a manner to which he was accustomed.
Aphrodite had made a comfortable bed for herself behind the altar, and demanded that her human slaves turn over any materials that might make her more comfortable. Now that she had been assured her lover was coming, she arranged herself on the bed as she was used to, when her host was a female.
And now she could hear the heavy, yet lithe footsteps. Ares. She felt a surge of excitement. No one had ever made her feel quite like the forceful Ares. And Aphrodite had known many many men over the course of her lifetime.
The tall male towered above her, and for a second she felt the stirrings of fear. Ares could be – But she would make him forget any misunderstandings.
“Are you out of your mind? How dare you greet me, looking like this?”
Aphrodite pouted slightly and rearranged her limbs on the bed. But when she tried to pull her fingers through her hair she stopped herself. This short hair wasn’t quite as alluring, she was willing to admit that.
“But Ares, my love -“
“Don’t call me that.”
“But that’s your name.”
She got to her feet and moved closer, intent on working her magic on her lover, but he grabbed her hands and pinning them behind her back, held her away from him, a stern look on his face.
“Why did you choose a male host this time?”
“I didn’t choose it. The humans killed my host and this one was closest.”
Ares didn’t reply, merely appeared to be considering her words. Then he pulled her closer, emitting a booming laugh that seemed to make the ground shake under her feet.
“Oh, well, it’s not the first time, and I doubt it will be the last time either. Come on, show me how much you’ve missed me. Prove to me that you love me. And I’ll try to forgive you.”
Aphrodite dropped to her knees in front of Ares and prepared to use all her expertise to bring him round again. Always in the past she had managed it, no matter how many times she had plotted with other Gu’a’uld lords against him. It wasn’t long before she knew she was on safe ground. The sounds Ares was making reassured her of that. Once again, he was hers to subtly rule.
In the meantime, back on Earth, there was a discussion on how to administer the drug to Aphrodite. The problem, as always, was how to get close enough to manage to inject her. A Jaffa or a woman wouldn’t be accepted that close by, they were fairly sure of that.
Teal’c confirmed their suspicion as far as he was concerned. He was far too well known to all the system lords to allow him within a foot or so of one of them. And a woman was normally of no use to Aphrodite, unless of course she was looking for a new host. Then Teal’c offered an alternative.
“I believe I might have a solution to the problem. Aphrodite expressed a preference for Colonel O’Neill when we first approached her. Should she be under the impression that he has changed his mind about serving her as First Prime, she will allow him close to her.”
Jack stared at Teal’c in consternation. If it had been any other man, he would have been sure this was a tasteless joke, but no more so than many others that would be volleyed around the men’s quarters from time to time. But this was the Jaffa. A man totally without a sense of humor, at least one that Jack could understand. Teal’c had to be serious about it.
Jack could feel his face color, like a teenager in a class room. And worst of all, his wife was present at these deliberations. Sarah’s work shift had started, and since this was a problem of some magnitude, the CIA liasion officer needed to be included in any meeting concerning the matter.
He was about to say something, but was interrupted by an outburst from Sam.
“Sir, may I speak?”
Without waiting for an answer, she went on. There was an emotional note in her voice that was totally alien to anyone who knew her.
“This is Daniel we’re talking about. You can’t do this. Have you any idea of what it must be like for him, held captive by this creature, while she’s flirting with any man around.”
Jack’s facial color deepened to a vivid brick red.
“Thank you, Carter, no need to rub it in. I’m well aware of the problem.”
He was uncomfortably aware of Sarah watching him from across the table. What would she be thinking about him? That he walked around all day, trying to make himself attractive to other men?
“I think it’s an excellent idea, Colonel O’Neill. You might be only person able to get close enough to inject her.”
Now Sarah joined in the discussion. It appeared that she too approved of the suggestion. Since she returned she had been unusually cold and distant, and Jack had a suspicion that it had something to do with coming under Aphrodite’s influence.
Normally, he would have thought it typical of women and dismissed the thought from his mind. Now, however, seeing how his team mate, and – yes – friend – Daniel, was taken over by a female creature, he realized that things were never as easy as he tried to make them.
If Sarah had been hypnotized by some hot looking guy like this Apollo something creature, that he had seen as a statue once, maybe he would have felt the same way she apparently did. And didn’t it also mean she loved him more than he had ever dared to hope? If she was that jealous, surely she had to.
“Why is everyone looking at me like that? Ok, I’ll do it. The things I do for my friends… Carter, you don’t need to look so offended. What do you think I’ll do to Daniel? Kiss him? I don’t think so.”
“Good, then we’ll make the arrangements. Dr Fraiser?”
Janet produced the syringe, with a dose sufficient to expel the symbiont. Though Sam had wanted to kill Aphrodite, she realized that while the Gu’a’uld might consider it acceptable to kill when it wasn’t necessary to save lives, they as humans did not.
They were going to place the symbiont in a container filled with a fluid that would keep it alive until it could be turned over to some other Gu’a’uld. It might not be as satisfying as revenge, but it was far more civilized than anything the Gu’a’uld were capable of.
The new team met in the Stargate room, for what they hoped would be their last attempt to struggle with Aphrodite, one that they hoped would be successful. The group consisted of Colonel O’Neill, Captain Carter, Teal’c and agent Sarah O’Neill.
Sarah still hadn’t said a word to Jack, and all in all, he preferred it that way. Not that he thought she would actually give him a hard time about what he was about to do, in fact he knew that wasn’t her habit. But it still rankled, having her watch his every move on this very sensitive mission.
Jack thought he could see Sam studying him intently, with a mixture of reproach and pleading. He knew how worried she must be about Daniel, but why couldn’t she see that he was just as concerned? Not for his own sake, though this was probably the most embarrassing moment of his life, but for Daniel’s sake.
They stepped through on the other side to be greeted by dawn. The sun was rising, and the air was crisp. Normally, this sort of planet would be a pleasure to explore, though naturally they couldn’t afford to let down their guard for even a second. But this time, the reason for their arrival was far more grim than a routine exploration of a very ordinary planet.
Walking quietly, keeping watch at all times, they made their way to the temple, all the while expecting one of their own to attack. But no attack came. No one tried to stop their approach. O’Neill’s back tickled uncomfortably, and he had an itch above his right eye, a sure sign that he expected some kind of ambush or other treachery.
Over by the temple they had the first indications that something was wrong. They noticed the telltale signs of Jaffa’s weapons being fired, the flashing lights, the sounds they made. The only explanation they could think of was that another Gu’a’uld had arrived and was involved in an internal power struggle.
Sam picked up her pace. Daniel and the other SG teams would be caught in the middle. Was there any way any of them could get out of this alive? What had gone wrong? How would they be able to save their people with a full scale Gu’a’uld fight going on?
During the night, another activation of the Stargate had occurred. Though the human slaves had been ordered to keep watch, neither one of them had wanted to move too far from their goddess, and the Stargate activity had gone unnoticed. Aphrodite and Ares had been somewhat distracted and it wasn’t until another Gu’a’uld stood over them that they finally woke up to the realization that they were in trouble. They both recognized the male Gu’a’uld. How could they not?
“How sweet of you to remember my name, wife.”
“Naturally I remember.”
“And I remember your friend. Ares. How nice of you to drop by. Can I have a moment alone with my wife?”
“I – Naturally, Hephaistos. Please do not misunderstand -“
“You are lying naked in my wife’s bed. And she too is without clothes. How could I misunderstand? Oh, and I must say she has looked lovelier on other occasions.”
“Quite. I will be over there if you wish to -“
“Thank you. That is most considerate of you.”
Hephaistos watched Ares hurry off in the direction of the new human slaves. He waited until he and his wife were quite alone. Aphrodite rose from her bed, looking around to find any garment to cover herself, but was unsuccessful.
Last night she and Ares had recklessly abandoned their clothing all over the room. She never got to her feet. Her husband landed her a stinging blow across the face. He followed up with a few more well-aimed blows to the face and upper body.
“You never learn, do you? In all the years of our marriage, have you ever stayed faithful to me?”
“You know I love you, Hephaistos, but -“
“Do I? Do I? You have a fine way of showing it. And what is this about a new host? A male? Have you lost your senses? All this plotting and scheming must have turned your brain. Is this a way to greet your husband? Looking like that -“
To emphasize his point, Hephaistos pointed with his arm to the body Aphrodite was wearing.
“The humans killed my former host and I was forced to enter this one or die. As for what Ares and I did – surely you must know that he has a way of sweeping you off your feet, no matter what your intentions from the start.”
“How should I know? I have never seen that side of him. But then I have never felt the need to choose a body of the opposite sex. My own has always served me well.”
“Oh, Hephaistos, give me a chance to show you how much I love you. And by keeping Ares happy, I am securing his help for our struggle -“
“Our struggle? You mean your struggle.”
“Anything that is good for me, is also good for you, husband. With Ares’ help we can gain an advantage against the other system lords and -“
“Tell me more about this scheme of yours, wife. But first, what was it you said about proving how much you love me?”
Aphrodite inclined her head. Naturally, she would have to use some more direct means to convince Hephaistos. That had always been the way between them. She giving what was within her field of expertise, and he providing her with whatever power he might be able to master.
At times it wasn’t much, but on the other hand he was never as hard to take in as Ares was. Still on her knees, Aphrodite pulled her husband closer. He always loved this. With his eyes closed, he would never know the difference between this host and the last one.
Afterwards, they joined Ares outside. Aphrodite had had a great deal to tell her husband. But once they two Gu’a’uld males met face to face, there was no way of reconciling their differences. Despite Aphrodite’s frantic attempts to mediate between them, soon a full scale fight broke out between them.
She was forced to take cover and await the finish of the struggle, knowing that she would be able to turn the head of whoever was the victor. Telling her human slaves to likewise take cover, since she still needed them, and had no easy access to new recruits, she waited in the shadows surrounding the temple ruin.
Colonel O’Neill walked right into the same fight almost an hour later. Two Gu’a’ulds of almost similar strength fighting each other was a formidable sight to see. By now, both were bleeding from several wounds, and Hephaistos was limping badly.
Ares had a large gash on his forehead, and the blood flowing from it kept getting in his eyes. But he was far from defeated. This looked like it could drag on for hours yet, and the SG team’s business was with Aphrodite, not these two male Gu’a’ulds.
Some distance away, the SG team conferred quietly. O’Neill expressed his wish to get into the fray, while Sam and Sarah argued caution. Since he outranked both women, at least on this particular mission, Jack decided to order Sam to comply, when Teal’c spoke up.
“O’Neill, I believe I can be of help. I should be able to lure the two males away from here, while you approach Aphrodite.”
Considering the matter for a few seconds, Jack gave his approval. This plan of Teal’c’s might actually work more easily than his own original intention.
“I’ll go with him.”
“Sarah? Are you out of your mind? Do you have any idea how powerful these Gu’a’uld weapons are?”
“Yes, I do, actually. Sam has been filling me on some of their specs so -“
“I won’t allow it.”
“I hate to remind you, but you aren’t in a position to give me orders. My orders come more or less directly from Uncle Sam, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Sarah, please -“
“I see. You want to be alone with your friend Daniel -“
Her emphasis on the word friend made Jack wince. He knew she didn’t believe anything of the kind, but he still hated to look like a fool in front of his wife and Sam. To his surprise he found help where he least expected it.
“Sarah, I really think Jack’s right this time. Besides, I could use your help with the symbiont. Jack will have to get Daniel out of here. Janet said the drug will make him a bit disoriented and dizzy, so he won’t be able to walk on his own. And those symbionts are extremely quick. It won’t be able to enter any one of us, but we’d better not let it get away.”
“Ok. This should be interesting. I want to watch Jack in action. Will his technique be different when he’s trying to work his charm on a man?”
“Sarah, please, it wasn’t my fault I was hypnotized by that thing. When you see the real Aphrodite you won’t be so jealous.”
“Jealous? Don’t flatter yourself.”
“I hate to interrupt, but we’re wasting time here. Have you noticed that those two Gu’a’ulds are moving away from here? We have to go.”
The Colonel shot a grateful look in Sam’s direction, then he moved out, with the women following close behind. Aphrodite appeared to be nowhere to be found. Jack looked around, searching for any signs of the Gu’a’uld, or the SG teams.
“Hello? Aphrodite? It’s me, Jack O’Neill. I’ve got a proposition for you.”
He could have bit his tongue. Why hadn’t he thought how that would come out?But his words had had an effect. There was a sound from behind and Jack whirled around. Aphrodite. Or Daniel. Well, here she was, whatever she looked like.
“You know, I’ve been thinking. Being First Prime sounds kind of neat. Can I change my mind about your offer?”
Aphrodite smiled in a predatory fashion.
“Certainly. Why don’t you come closer?”
“Oh, ok. Here goes.”
Jack felt like a fool, trying to act, well, flirtatious wasn’t the word, but something like that. It wouldn’t do to alarm the Gu’a’uld before he had time to administer the drug.
“I’m coming, I’m coming. There.”
The Gu’a’uld inside Daniel’s body posed for him, then moved closer still, trying to catch his eye, but Jack stubbornly avoided eye contact. Now he felt hands on his shoulders and forced down a shudder. This was Daniel. No, it wasn’t. But this person sure looked like him.
Still trying to appear relaxed, he let his own arm slide up around Daniel’s neck, pulling him closer. It might have been a little easier if his wife and Daniel’s girlfriend weren’t watching from nearby. Or not, as the case might be. His other hand clutched the hypodermic. When he felt lips brush his neck, he stabbed at Daniel’s shoulder.
Dr Fraiser had assured him that that was all there was to it. Easy as that. He could feel Daniel’s body shake violently. Alarmed, Jack pulled back, and watched the drug take effect, hoping that Janet had been right about the drug having no harmful effect on the human host.
He was so close, he could see into Daniel’s eyes. There was no hypnotic quality in them now, in fact, they seemed alarmingly vacant. His whole body folded up and the way he was swaying on his feet, Jack knew that he would hit the ground, if no one did anything. So he reached out and eased his friend’s body onto the ground.
He then took a step back to survey the expelling of the symbiont. Daniel made a few retching sounds, then the symbiont shot out of his mouth. It scurried across the ground, erractically, as if that too, was severly affected by the drug.
Sam had no difficulty at all, catching it and depositing it safely inside the container.
“I’ve got it. If you could – Or do you want me to help Daniel out of here?”
“I doubt you could. Look. He’s out cold. I’ll have to carry him. Take that symbiont and go. You too, Sarah. Please.”
Sarah’s features softened for a second, when she heard him plead with her. Maybe he would be forgiven after all. The women moved out, leaving him to pick up his friend, and carry him back to the Stargate. The SG teams were now becoming themselves again, with Aphrodite gone. A few words from their Colonel had them running after Sarah and Sam towards the gate.
When Jack and Daniel were within sight of the Stargate, there was the sound of footsteps coming from behind. Jack cursed under his breath. How could he reach his guns when he had Daniel to worry about?
“O’Neill. I have successfully led the two Gu’a’ulds away. They are currently fighting each other some distance from here.”
“Teal’c. We’re going back to the Stargate.”
“I will follow you.”
The relief was immense. For a second, Jack had envisioned the two Gu’a’ulds hot on his trail, while he was unable to defend himself. All in all, this mission had ended quite well. Of course, they still had to make it through the Stargate. But when he reached it, he found that Sam had already begun the dialling sequence. Less than 30 seconds later, the gate opened, and they could all move through it.
At the other end, their signal was received and the iris was opened. Dr Fraiser was waiting for her patient in the Stargate room. She had a couple of orderlies standing by to transfer Daniel to the infirmary. It was a relief to be able to let go of him. Jack felt like a fool, standing around with his friend in his arms.
It was over. Mission accomplished. So why did he feel so weird? All he had done was what he was ordered to do. To save his friend’s life. But he knew that he would have a hard time facing Daniel after this. Not that he thought he would have to, any time soon. Sam had followed the stretcher into the infirmary, and would be sure to stay by Daniel’s side day and night from now on.
Jack and Sarah went to the locker room, but once they got there, they just sat down. He could tell she wanted to tell him something, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear it.
“I’m sorry I teased you about all this. You did well. I’m proud of you. The Jack I met 15 years ago wouldn’t have been able to do what you did.”
“I don’t know what to say. I’ve never felt like such a fool in my life.”
“Oh, really? What about on your stag party? Kev told me what they did to you.”
“He did what?”
“Kev told me how they stole your clothes, so you had the choice of staying locked into the bathroom the entire night, or sneak out to your bedroom. And of course they were all outside waiting for you.”
“Ok. So maybe it was almost as bad that time. But this -“
“I know. Just as bad as what Kev and Jon had planned for later.”
“I can’t believe they told you. They swore they wouldn’t -“
“What I can’t believe is you didn’t see that “she” was a he.”
“Look, she was doing her stuff, just like every other stripper I’d ever seen -“
“You mean he. And what other strippers have you seen?”
“I – It was just a figure of speech. Anyway, how was I to know that when the last shreds of clothing fell, there would be a -“
“Ok. I get the picture. In fact, Kev had taken an entire roll of photographs, so I actually saw the pictures.”
“Some friends I have. You didn’t -“
“Yes. I saw the one where you were dancing with Tootsie, and the one where -“
“Stop. Leave me some dignity, will you?”
“My point was simply that I understand how embarrassed you might feel, but you saved your friend’s life, and that’s what counts, right?”
“I guess so. So you think I did well, huh?”
“And you’re not mad at me anymore for being under that thing’s spell?”
“No. I’m not mad anymore. I forgive you. And Jack -?”
What could it be now? More humiliating memories from the past, or some dig about his technique when it came to hitting on other men?
“I love you, Jack.”
“Oh. Well, I, uh, love you too, Sarah.”
The door opened, and Teal’c entered, interrupting what had been about to happen. That kiss would have to wait until they were alone.
Over in the infirmary, Sam anxiously waited for Daniel to come to. Janet assured her that he would, before long, but it was an eternity or so it semed to Sam before Daniel’s eyes finally opened.
“Daniel. Are you ok?”
To Sam’s alarm, he didn’t reply. He didn’t even want to face her.
“What’s wrong, Daniel? Please, talk to me. Janet says you’re going to be ok. The symbiont is out, and didn’t leave any ganglia behind. There’s going to be a complete recovery.”
But Daniel still wouldn’t talk to her. He seemed far too caught up in some private misery which he was unable to confide in anyone, least of all Sam.
Dr Fraiser calmly stepped in, and felt Daniel’s pulse, looked at a few displays, and finally, appearing satisfied, she grabbed Sam by the arm, pulling her away from the patient.
“I think maybe it’s the emotional trauma. You must remember what it was like after Jolinar -“
“Yes, ok. But why isn’t he talking to me?”
“Take it easy, Sam. I swear he’s going to be ok. Physically, there’s nothing wrong with him, but I’d like to keep him here for observation. The best thing you can do is change out of these clothes and go to your quarters. I’ll have you paged if there’s any change, or if – when – Daniel wants to see you. Go on, doctor’s orders.”
“Are you sure? I’d much rather stay here and -“
“No. Go on. Get out of here.”
Reluctantly, Sam did as she was told. She was practically walking backwards, since she wanted to look at Daniel while she was leaving. With one last worried look, she turned and walked over to the locker room. Teal’c was just leaving when she arrived and the room was empty.
That suited her fine. Now that all the tension of not knowing if she would get Daniel back was over, she found herself worriying all over again, about this new silent Daniel. Why wasn’t he back to normal, as Janet had promised? But Sam was willing to let the doctor do her work, before giving in to hysteria.
Back in the infirmary, Janet was watching her patient, a frown on her face. Sam was right, Daniel wasn’t responding to the treatment as expected. Something appeared to be bothering him.
“Daniel, what’s wrong?”
“I can’t talk to Sam about it. She’ll -“
“Ok. Can you talk to me? Nothing you say can -“
“You don’t understand. I don’t think it’s anything medical, or – well, it could be – but I hope not.”
But Daniel was still struggling with whatever was bothering him, and it was a while until he looked up and faced Janet. This time with something like a determined look on his face.
“I think I need you to run some blood tests.”
“Aphrodite sent for her old lover Ares, and later her husband, Hephaistos showed up.”
“Are you saying -?”
She really didn’t need to hear an answer to that question. The pained look on Daniel’s face told her all she needed to know. This was an unexptected complication.
“I’m afraid so.”
Janet tried to cover his confusion, and her own too, by becoming business-like.
“Right. I’ll run those tests.”
Struck by a sudden thought, she turned back to her patient, and tried to make her voice sound lowkey. No need to alarm him more than necessary.
“I don’t think you need to worry about those tests. Gu’a’ulds probably don’t succumb to – Daniel, do I need to make a more thorough physical examination?”
“I don’t want – No.”
“Are you sure?”
“No. Yes. Yes, I’m sure. They’re both very much in love with her, so -“
“Alright. Tests coming up. Daniel, you’ll get through this, I promise. But you need to think about what you’ll tell Sam.”
“That’s what I’m dreading.”
“I understand. But doesn’t she deserve to know?”
“Wait a minute. How did you know about me and Sam? Did she tell you?”
“She didn’t have to. You’re so transparent.”
Daniel couldn’t help smiling, despite himself, when he remembered how he had felt even a few days ago. Nothing could go wrong, or so he had felt. How fragile happiness was. One day everything was fine, the next –
How could he tell Sam what had happened to him? It had been agony being caught inside his own body, not being able to do a thing to stop what was being done to him. Or what he was forced to do. How could he explain to Sam?
He felt his eyes burn with tears of humiliation and pain. Finally he had dared to tell Sam of his feelings for her, and now – what would happen to their relationship now?
Janet returned with the kit for running the tests. Gently, she put her hand on Daniel’s arm.
“It will be ok. Sam will understand, you know she will.”
“But I don’t want her to have to understand. Not something like this.”
Janet felt so helpless. This wasn’t an entirely new situation to her, but it was always so much more harder when it was someone you knew and cared about. She wished there was something she could do, but in this case she felt sure it would be best to let time have its healing effect on Daniel.
On an air force base this sort of thing just couldn’t be allowed to get around. Daniel wasn’t an officer, but the social ostracism would be the same. Janet knew all about life in the air force. She had seen male colleagues whose homosexuality had become known resign their commissions rather than facing the treatment from their former friends.
Once, a female friend who had been raped by an ex-boyfriend, found herself the target of an anonymous campaign, hinting that she was a slut, a tramp – The girl had tried to kill herself, and Janet had promised herself never to let anyone know if something similar ever happened to her. No one would learn about Daniel’s ordeal from her.
“I’ll let you get some sleep now. You could use it.”
“I don’t think I could. You wouldn’t give me something to help me sleep, I suppose?”
Giving in to the pleading in his voice, she consented. Half an hour later, Daniel was fast asleep.
After a few hours, Sam was back, standing uncertainly in the doorway, trying to catch Janet’s eye.
“Can I come in?”
“I’ll come out and talk to you instead. Griffin? You’ll watch over the patient?”
The younger doctor nodded in acknowledgement, and Janet followed Sam out into the corridor.
“Shall we go to your quarters?”
“Sure. Is anything wrong?”
“I just thought it would be nicer to talk in private.”
Janet tried to keep her voice even, so she wouldn’t alarm Sam unnecessarily. In a way she wasn’t lying. Nothing was wrong, from a purely physical point of view. And the emotions of a patient really weren’t her first concern.
“Ok. Daniel was very tired, so I let him sleep. You’ll be able to talk to him in the morning.”
Sam nodded. She understood. But she thought she could detect something evasive in Janet’s voice. What was she hiding? Had Daniel suffered some permanent injuries from his time as a Gu’a’uld host? She wouldn’t stand for any lies. If anything was wrong, she deserved to know.
“If there’s some permanent damage from the symbiont, you would let me know, wouldn’t you?”
“You know me, Sam. I’d never lie to you.”
Sam fixed Janet with a piercing stare, then apparently satisfied, she nodded.
“Ok. Sorry to be so suspicous. But when Daniel refused to talk to me, I kind of panicked.”
“I understand. Of course I do. Daniel -“
“He’s very special to you, isn’t he?”
Sam’s tense features relaxed into an almost smile.
“You guessed it, didn’t you? About Daniel and me.”
“He isn’t exactly subtle, when he’s happy.”
“I know. That’s so sweet and so infuriating. Can you imagine General Hammond getting wind of it? Not that we’re actually breaking any rules – But you know -“
“Yes, I know. Sam – I’m really happy for you.”
“Now, I really need to get back to work. You’ll be ok?”
“Of course I will. Get back to Daniel and make sure he’s ok.”
“Will do. See you later.”
Sam hoped everything would be ok. She hadn’t thought about the risks they were running every day on the job. For her, she had always thought it was acceptable. After all, she was an air force officer. Everyone knew the risks involved.
But Daniel – well – he wasn’t just her lover and best friend, but a civilian. She knew he wouldn’t appreciate the distinction. Could she deal with the risks he was facing every time he went through the Stargate? Before all this happened, she hadn’t had time to think these things through.
She spent a sleepless night, worrying, and at 0800 hours, she took a shower, changed her clothes and went back to the infirmary. What she didn’t know, was that Daniel had spent the past three hours agonizing over their meeting. By now, he was more or less reconciled to the necessity of discussing the matter with Sam.
Janet had spent the night watching over Daniel, even though her shift had ended at 11 pm the night before. Now she walked over to Sam.
“You know, I’m dying for a cup of coffee. I’ll be down in the mess hall.”
Sam forgot about Janet before she was even through the door. All her attention was on Daniel.
“How are you feeling this morning?”
“Ok. Sam -?”
“There’s something I need to tell you. Something that happened while -“
“I see. Go on.”
But Daniel couldn’t continue. Sam reached out and took his hand, squeezing it encouragingly. Her reassuring smile didn’t help much, but Daniel knew he had to tell her. And the sooner the better. Or else it would be worse. He would find himself trying to explain why he hadn’t told her the truth from the start. Looking away from her, he pushed on before he would lose his nerve.
“Aphrodite sent for Ares.”
“Isn’t that her -“
“Uh – yes. And when he was there, Hephaistos showed up.”
“Yes. He was jealous and Aphrodite had to prove to him how much she loved him.”
There. It was out. The whole truth. There was a long pause, during which Daniel was all too aware of Sam’s shallow breathing, her heartbeat, every little sound she made. How would she react?
“I – see.”
“I’m sorry. There was nothing I could do about it.”
“Of course not. You mustn’t think that I blame you. Where is it?”
Daniel was startled out of his brooding by her sudden apparent change of topic.
“Where’s that thing, that snake, who did this to you?”
“I’m not sure. I never saw it. Why do you want to know?”
“I want to kill it.”
“No, Sam. It’s no use. That won’t change anything.”
“But I n-need to do s-something -“
This was something Daniel thought he’d never see. Sam crying. The sobs were torn painfully out of her, and he could tell she was fighting it, for his sake, but she wasn’t succeeding. Awkwardly, he reached out to pull her down onto the bed and into his arms.
“It’s ok, Sam. I’ll live, I guess. Sam, please.”
“But I wasn’t there for you. I couldn’t protect you -“
“No one could have. You know how fast those things move. It wasn’t your fault. You mustn’t blame yourself.”
“I could have had General Hammond put you on desk duty.”
“No, Sam. You need me. None of you knows any classical languages or any of that -“
“We could bring things back to show you, take photos -“
“No. I’m aware of the risks. Why shouldn’t I be able to take it just as you and Jack and Teal’c – and Sarah? I guess I just didn’t take into account that something like this could happen.”
“Neither did I. But any risk is unacceptable -“
“For me? But not for the rest of you? Sam, I’m not a child. I can take my chances along with the rest of you.”
Sam opened her mouth to continue arguing, then shut it again. Life was too short to waste it like this. If Daniel felt this strongly about it, who was she to stand in his way? He was right, they couldn’t work like this, treating the civilian member of the team as a child or an invalid. So she merely nodded.
“Ok. You’re right. I’m not going to bring this up again. But I wish -“
“Yes, me too.”
“Oh, Daniel. For a while I thought I was never going to see you again.”
She was already lying on the bed next to him, so she just pulled him closer. Like this, when she could feel his body next to hers, and was holding on tight, at least there was an illusion of safety. Somehow, they would keep each other safe.
Daniel closed his eyes and breathed in the fragrance of her hair. If only life could be like this forever. But he had meant every word he said. His work meant as much to him as hers did to her. And he would never ask her to give up her career, just so he could know she was safe.
What safety was there anyway? People died of cancer, stepped out in front of cars, suffocated in fires. In other parts of the world people were killed in war. They would take what they could, and for the rest, just keep hoping. Janet had been right, if only he dared to talk to Sam, the rest came more easily than he had ever imagined.
They thought they heard the door open and close, but they weren’t sure. All they cared about was each other.
But the door had opened and closed and Janet had decided to give them some more time alone together. She knew they needed it. Maybe it was time she started looking for a man again. What Sam and Daniel had looked appealing from where she was standing. How could she ever have forgotten what love was like? There really was nothing that could compare to it. As long as your feelings were returned.
And she could see that Sam and Daniel belonged to the lucky ones, despite what had happened. Daniel would be ok now, there was no question about it. No matter how long it took. And the dedicated doctor smiled indulgently at the lovers in her infirmary. Then she returned to the mess hall. Lt Alex White was a very attractive young man. Maybe – Well, time would tell.