Like Touch, Like Love

by Kylie Lee and The Grrrl

Title: Like Touch, Like Love

Authors: Kylie Lee and The Grrrl

Authors email:,

Author's URL:,

Archive: Ask first.

Fandom: Stargate SG-1

Pairing: Jack/Daniel

Rating: NC-17

Summary: Jack and Daniel meet an alien who likes music.

Notes: Kylie beta'd The Grrrl, The Grrrl beta'd Kylie, and Sarah read it at the end and said to post it.

"You know I love my job," Jack O'Neill said conversationally.

"Yeah, me too," Daniel Jackson said, ducking his head as a shot zinged overhead. "Do you need me to—?" He helplessly shrugged his shoulders.

Jack spared a glance for his colleague. Daniel's hands were full. He had gathered a number of tablets and artifacts from the site they'd been studying and had managed to juggle them while running without dropping anything. Daniel was a good enough shot, but Jack figured Carter and Teal'c would show up soon enough. "No, I've got them covered. Why don't you pack up."

Daniel nodded and sat down, back against the stone wall they were using as cover. As Jack squeezed off shots at the Jaffa pursuing them, Daniel stowed the items in his pack. Jack checked on his progress every now and then. Even after all these months, it still surprised him that he could do that—could just glance over his shoulder and see Daniel there, futzing around with his artifacts, just like he always did, as if he'd never been gone.

When the staff blasts slowed, Jack took the opportunity to thumb on his radio. "Carter," he said.

"Carter," his radio sputtered a second later.

"You behind them yet?"

"Just about, sir."

"Kindly take them out so Daniel can dial us home."

"Yes, sir. Carter out."

The shots had ceased. Jack pulled out a pair of field binoculars. The Jaffa who had been chasing them had joined the Jaffa at the Gate, and now a whole slew of them were blocking the way. On their foreheads was the symbol for Baal, a system lord Jack knew all too well and despised heartily. He sighed. So near, and yet so far.

"I'm ready," Daniel announced, shrugging his backpack on.

"Good," Jack said absently, scanning the area by the Gate. Where were Carter and Teal'c?

"What's going on?" Daniel asked. He knelt by Jack and peered over the low stone wall. His shoulder brushed Jack's.

Jack shook his head. "Not a lot. They've stopped shooting at us, which I think is a good thing."

"Maybe they're going to dial out," Daniel theorized.

"Maybe." Jack adjusted the binoculars. "Wait. That's weird."

Daniel fumbled for his own binoculars as Jack grabbed his radio. Because Carter and Teal'c were near the Jaffa, he didn't hail her. Instead, he clicked it twice.

Carter's voice came through quietly. "Carter here. We're in place."

Jack shook his head, impatient. "Don't shoot. Something's up."

"Yes, sir."

"Stay where you are. O'Neill out."

"What are they doing?" Daniel asked.

The Jaffa were moving purposefully. They formed a pattern that looked random to Jack but that seemed to make sense to the Jaffa.

"I have no idea," Jack said, disturbed.

They both watched as the armored men, in eerie simultaneity, tilted their heads to the sky and began to scream.

"Oh, my god," Daniel breathed, shuffling forward on his knees, as if that would help him get a better look.

The hairs on the back of Jack's neck prickled. The screaming, a low roar, went on and on. One Jaffa would fall silent, only to take a deep breath and start in again. It sounded inhuman.

"Colonel?" Carter's voice said through the radio. The sound of the screaming came through the radio, oddly doubling it.

"I don't know either, Major," Jack told her. He didn't take his eyes off the Jaffa. "Stand by."

"Yes, sir."

"This is fascinating," Daniel said. "Can we get a little closer? I'd like to record this."

"You can record from here," Jack said sharply. Trust Daniel to want to move closer to insanity instead of away from it. "It's what zoom is for."

"The pattern they're making—" Daniel said. "I've seen that before. The mosaic in the ruins." He took his backpack off and unzipped it.

"What ruins?" Jack asked.

Daniel pulled out the hand-held video recorder. "These ruins. The ones we were just looking at." He fitted the recorder over his hand and knelt next to Jack again. "Okay, be quiet."

Jack bit his tongue so he wouldn't retort sharply. Instead, he trained his binoculars on the Jaffa, who showed no inclination to shut up. Daniel moved a little, presumably to frame the Jaffa in his view finder, and once again, his shoulder brushed Jack's. Jack forced himself to relax as Daniel scooted closer, his knee bumping against Jack's. Daniel was recording, so Jack couldn't say anything. It was like Daniel was doing it on purpose, except Daniel had that slightly distracted air he often had, like he was thinking deep thoughts and wasn't quite aware of the world around him. Jack was feeling perverse, so he didn't move aside.

"This is Dr. Daniel Jackson. It's October 15, 2003, and SG-1 is on P3X-0811." Jack couldn't believe it when Daniel pushed in even closer, so his large bulk was pressed warmly against Jack. The light brushes he'd noticed ever since Daniel had come back from his little ascension jaunt were escalating. It was as if Daniel were daring him—not with words, but with his body, reminding Jack he was back, and alive, and present in all kinds of disturbing ways. "These Jaffa, who bear the symbol of the system lord Baal, were shooting at us. They then formed this pattern and began to keen."

"Keen?" Jack asked Daniel silently. What kind of word was "keen"?

Daniel shrugged. They knelt next to each other, Jack watching through his binoculars and Daniel recording, for what seemed like forever. Instead of becoming used to Daniel's body pressed against his, Jack became more and more aware of it. He stared straight ahead, every inch the soldier, as his body betrayed him. He should have moved aside. He absolutely should have moved aside. He hadn't done it, not the first time, all those weeks ago, and not now, even as Daniel grew more brazen. But he knew, and he didn't know how he knew, that if he had tried to move aside, Daniel would have followed him. So he stared straight ahead and tried to focus on something other than the warm body next to him, tried to focus on something other than inappropriate thoughts about Daniel, his friend, a valued colleague and member of the team he, Jack, commanded.

He blinked when one of the Jaffa swayed and fell. He felt Daniel tighten next to him; he could actually sense Daniel grow more alert. One by one, the Jaffa gracefully fell over. Most fell backward, indicating they had fainted. As each fell, his voice was silenced, until there were gaps in the screaming. The remaining voices seemed thin and raw. Then no one was last standing, and as the last man toppled over, the screaming ceased altogether.

There was a long pause.

Daniel checked his watch. "Estimated duration of the keening: twelve minutes."

Jack clicked his radio on. "Carter. Check them out. Go."

Carter didn't bother to respond. Jack scanned the area, and a minute or so later, Carter and Teal'c appeared. Teal'c knelt by one of the Jaffa and tentatively touched the body. When it didn't move, he felt for a pulse and checked the eyes, then turned and said something to Carter, who knelt by a Jaffa and did what Teal'c had just done. They moved from body to body, bending over briefly before moving to another one. They both stood up and conferred. Then Teal'c moved to the DHD and began dialing as Carter keyed her radio on.

"Colonel, the Jaffa aren't dead, they're just unconscious," Carter reported. "They seem fine. They're breathing, their heartbeats are steady, and their pupils are the same size and reactive to light."

"Good. We'll be down in a second," Jack said.

"Sir, do you want us to take a Jaffa with us, have Dr. Fraiser check him out? Maybe do a brain scan?"

"Negative," Jack said. "Take a blood sample if you want. Daniel got their behavior on tape. I'm not in the mood for taking care of hostages today. O'Neill out." Jack turned to Daniel. "Turn that thing off, Daniel," he ordered.

"Oh, right," Daniel said. He rocked his weight back toward his heels, shut the machine off, and folded it up. "That was really interesting," he said. "It kind of reminds me of the sound that those subsonic people made—remember them?"

"Yes, the weird nude little guys," Jack said. He stowed his binoculars. He opened his mouth, fully intending to say, "Daniel, what is this crap you're pulling?" But instead, the words that came out were, "Teal'c and Carter are waiting for us. Let's go."

As he led the way down the rise to the shining Gate, Daniel trudging behind him, looking around and whistling to himself, Jack knew he wouldn't ever say anything. Because if he said something, Daniel would either have to stop, or they would have to talk about it. And he didn't want either of those things to happen.


The patterns were all wrong.

Since she'd come out into the sun again, not so long ago, she'd been trying to find the patterns, but they had gotten mixed up. She could see where the patterns had once been, swirls and arcs hidden under the green grass. The two-dimensional representations of the patterns she found were too small for her purposes, mere metaphors for the reality she desired.

She wanted to come forth again. She understood that it had been a long time, but to her, time meant little. She was good at waiting. When the last singer had died, she had closed her eyes—a blink, really—and when she opened them again, the patterns had become so old that they had fallen apart. She understood entropy. It was her job to stand against it.

She had stretched and looked around. Everyone had gone: the artisans who made the permanent patterns, the priests who sketched the patterns in space and time, the singers and dancers who made patterns that glowed and then faded. Then men had come, appearing suddenly where they hadn't been before. They were bits of malleable matter wearing metal. She had watched them for a little while, but they did not seem inclined to make patterns, or if they did, she did not understand them. She had just about dismissed them when then they had surprised her: they made inexplicable patterns with long tools they carried.

Excited, she had followed them as they moved away from the patterns buried under the earth, but the energy patterns they generated were random and temporary, and they had no arcs. They were straight lines that did not exist long enough to intersect into webs of beauty. The lines were created by traveling beads of energy, but the beads would hit something and then dissipate. She didn't see the use.

Impatient, she gathered them up. It had been a long, long time since she had touched matter so. The metal they wore interfered somewhat, but she arranged them into a summoning pattern. The sounds they made were wrong, low and harsh instead of the slow spiral up that she so loved. She could not adjust them as she had adjusted the singers before, so long ago. When they swayed and fell silent, she let them lie where they fell. It was no use. Everything had changed. Perhaps she should sleep again. Maybe when she woke up, the singers would be back. Maybe people would summon her again, to stand against entropy.

She was just about to return to the water when an explosion of coherence whited out her vision. When she could see again, a vortex of unbelievable power slowly cycled below her. Recognition surged through her. She knew this pattern. It had brought the last sequence of artisans, the priests, the singers to her. She sank closer and for the first time noticed four people. They weren't wearing metal, like the others, although one carried a bead-energy device. Two were very close to the vortex, and two others moved toward it. As she descended, she heard a scrap of song from one of the travelers. It arced up high. The intervals pleased her. Here was a singer. She caught the song and let it tug her along.

When the first one stepped to the vortex and disappeared in a red flash, she was taken aback. It seemed they were leaving. She would be alone, with the creeping entropy. Without artisans to dig for her, it would require almost insurmountable work to clarify the patterns, to amplify her existence. There was nothing here for her any more.

The singer was the last person through. She did it before she was aware she had made a choice: she followed him into the vortex.


"What is it?" Jack asked.

Carter didn't look up from the computer screen. "Some sort of energy spike when we came back through, sir."

"I know, that's what Davis told me," Jack said, impatient. "Let me ask you again: what is it?"

"See, it's right here." She pointed to a squiggle, which to Jack looked exactly like the many other squiggles moving across the screen. "We've never recorded anything like this before, but it's so minor—it may be nothing, unless—" She shrugged. "I have no idea."

"Solar flares?" Daniel asked, suddenly appearing next to Jack, standing ridiculously close. "There's been a lot of solar activity lately—could that have affected it?"

"Okay, has anyone looked at a calendar?" Jack asked. Last time a solar flare interfered with Gate travel, they had ended up forty-odd years in the past. "Davis, what year is it?"

"1944," the sergeant answered solemnly.

Carter grinned. Jack shook his head. "Oh, that's funny. Real funny," he said, crossing his arms. Daniel seemed to think it was, because Jack felt his huff of laughter, right on his neck, and it was very, very distracting.


Jack turned, nearly bumping into Daniel, who was bending over to get a closer look at the console, to see the general entering the control room. "On our way, sir. C'mon, kids, we have a briefing to debrief." He patted Daniel's shoulder, and when Daniel smiled at him for no reason at all, he felt a little ripple of pleasure.

Carter pushed herself away from her computer, nodding, although clearly reluctant to leave. "Sergeant, let me know as soon as you're done with the diagnostics, okay?"

"Is there a problem, Major Carter?" the general asked.

As they filed into the briefing room, Carter filled the general in, and they were off and running with the meeting, even before they settled into their usual seats. Once they had described for the general the odd behavior of Baal's Jaffa, he immediately asked, "Any chance this is something we can use as a weapon?"

"Exactly what I was thinking, sir," Jack stated.

But Daniel was already shaking his head. "I don't think so, Jack. I think it might be an example of some strange sort of mass hysteria. History is full of examples—like during the Middle Ages, for instance—dozens of outbreaks of hysterical fits and imitative behaviors have been recorded, people convinced they were possessed by animal spirits, or by the devil himself."

Jack watched as Daniel warmed up to his subject, his hands moving as he spoke, waving in the air, adjusting his glasses, rubbing his nose, then settling down, clasped in front of him. Jack liked that he could look across the table during a debriefing and once again see Daniel there. Jack had missed him while he was gone, but now that Daniel was back, Jack was missing him all over again. As if he hadn't done it correctly the first time. Missing Daniel while he was here was strange, too, of course, but it was one way to explain the little jolt that went through him every time he looked over casually and saw Daniel again, right where he was supposed to be. It was a muted version of that electric jolt of astonishment he'd felt when he'd first seen Daniel on Vis Uban, when he realized it was the real Daniel, the human one, not the apparition. His Daniel.

He watched, fascinated, as Daniel spoke faster and faster, his excitement mounting, making his final point with a slap of his palm against the table. He thought that in the last few years, before Daniel had died, he had rarely seen Daniel that excited. It was almost as if it were all new to him again. Maybe dying did that to you—made life seem new and exciting, full of possibilities. Seeing Daniel like this—excited, enthusiastic—made Jack see possibilities too.

"And do you agree, Colonel?" the general asked, turning to him.

Caught unaware, Jack looked at Hammond, then Daniel. "Absolutely, sir," he said with great conviction, although he had lost track of whatever it was Daniel had been saying.

Daniel beamed at Jack. Jack couldn't tell if it was because he was happy Jack agreed with him, or if he knew damn well that Jack was faking it, that Jack hadn't been listening at all.

"Well, the intelligence the Tok'ra gave us was good," the general said. "Baal definitely has troops there."

"The artifacts and ruins are very interesting," Daniel offered. "But honestly, I don't see what they have to do with Baal."

"Perhaps nothing," Teal'c said.

Daniel nodded. "I'm inclined to agree, but I'll know more once I do some translations."

The general stood up, implying that the meeting was over. "Baal is up to something, and it's clear he's using P3X-0811 as a base. I'm going to send SG-2 through for reconnaissance to the temporary camp you found." He gathered up his manila folders. "Doctor Jackson, keep me apprised. I may have SG-1 go back and take a look at the ruins if you find anything." He paused at the door. "Have a good weekend, everyone." He waved his manilla folders over his head in farewell as he exited.

"Oh, hey, my place tonight. Dinner. Don't forget," Daniel announced, pushing his chair away from the conference table.

"Wouldn't miss it," Carter said. "Janet wants me to bring cookies. Cassandra didn't object, and I don't think you will either. Am I right?"

"Your cookies are great," Daniel said.

"It's been a long time since I saw Cassandra," Jack offered, referring to Janet Fraiser's adopted daughter. Carter and Cassandra were close.

Carter smiled. "You'll have to come hiking with us this fall, sir," she said. "I think you're a good influence on her."

"You're kidding, right?" Daniel said, eyeing Jack.

Jack gave Daniel a look, then added, "She grew up when I wasn't looking, you know."

"Children do that," Teal'c said, sounding so disapproving that Jack had to smile.

"We'll see you at six, Daniel." Carter said, as they all filed out of the room.

Jack showered and changed. It was still early in the afternoon. He had plenty of time until dinner—too much time, maybe. He stopped by to check on Daniel on his way out, and sure enough, there was Daniel in his office, frowning absently over the carefully arranged tablets.

"Daniel," Jack said by way of greeting. "So, what's it all about?" He gestured toward the table. "Are we talking meaning of life stuff here or what?"

"I don't think so," Daniel said slowly. He picked up a tablet, studying it before setting it down in a different spot. "I think it's telling a story, a story about a god of some sort, but I don't think it's about Baal. Actually, some of the glyphs indicate that it's a goddess, not a god. Obviously, the artifacts predate Baal's recent occupation of the planet, but it's not as though he's returning there after a long absence. I don't know why he picked this planet, other than that it's not in anybody's records that I know of."

"Well, what we saw the Jaffa do was just plain creepy," Jack said. "Something is up with them. And it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Baal was behind it. Damn snakehead."

"I don't know what to think about that," Daniel said, frowning. "I'll review the tape. Maybe Sam can analyze it and find something out—weird radiation, I don't know. Something that would affect their behavior like that." He turned and pulled his coat off the back of his chair. "I have to get ready for dinner," he said, almost apologetically. "Clean up the place. What are you bringing?"

"I thought I'd bring my special Minnesota green bean casserole, with the cream of mushroom soup and the crunchy onions on top. How does that sound?"

Daniel slid his coat on. "It sounds good," he said. "Very, um, Minnesotan."

Jack nodded. "It is." He thought Daniel might be teasing, but he didn't care, because Daniel was watching him with an amused, affectionate expression, the one that set off a warm spot in his gut.

"Looking forward to it."

"And what are you making as the main course?" Jack asked pointedly. He followed Daniel out into the corridor, and they headed for the elevator.

With a frown, Daniel told him, "I can cook, you know." He hesitated. "Well, except for that, uh, stew," he continued. "It seemed like a really good recipe at the time."

Jack remembered. "The pizza we ordered was good," he said in a soothing voice.

Daniel pressed the elevator's call button. "I promise, this time it will be edible. No experiments. I'm making something simple. Chicken."

"You can't go wrong with chicken," Jack agreed. He adjusted the collar of his leather jacket. "You want me to come over early? You know, to help set up and stuff?" He wasn't sure why he was so eager to get there early, before everyone else. He'd probably just get in Daniel's way, but that certainly had its appeal.

"Sure, that would be great," Daniel told him. "You know you're always welcome to come over anytime."


Jack was about to knock for the second time when the door swung open. "Hi Jack—come in—I was just—" Daniel waved an oven-mitted hand in the general direction of the kitchen. He looked distracted, his hair slightly rumpled, glasses sliding down his nose.

"Hey, don't let me stop you," Jack said, slipping past him, carefully carrying his Minnesotan delight. He'd wrapped it in a towel to keep it warm, but he needed to remember to heat it up again before they ate. "Go, cook," he said, with a jerk of his chin. He followed Daniel into the kitchen, set the dish down out of the way, and peered into the refrigerator.

"Help yourself to a beer," Daniel called over his shoulder. "Do you want a glass? Because I have those. Glasses. All the amenities."

"No, thanks." Jack found the beer, twisted the lid off, and tossed it into the garbage. Daniel didn't drink beer. He must have stocked up for guests—for Jack, because it was a microbrew he favored. He leaned against the counter, watching Daniel check on a chicken casserole into the oven. "Smells good," Jack told him, because it did.

Daniel nodded in agreement, looking almost surprised. "It does, doesn't it? I think I've just about got everything under control." He looked around the room, sipping from his wineglass.

"This is a nice place, you know?" Jack said, not for the first time. They had all gone house-hunting together, as a team, with the same purpose as if it were one of their offworld missions. This one had been Jack's favorite. It was small yet spacious, oddly configured, with rooms jutting out where you least expected it. And the fact that it was a house, that Daniel owned it, lent a needed sense of permanence about Daniel's return for him.

Daniel nodded in agreement. "Especially with the furniture, now. It's home."

Something in the tone of his voice made Jack miss him all over again. Silly, to miss someone who was right here, and who was planning on staying. He lifted his beer. "To coming home," he said, his own voice rough.

Daniel's lips curved into a gentle smile. "Coming home." He drank to Jack's toast, then blinked at his wineglass, lost in thought.

The silence stretched out between them, and Jack felt uncomfortable. "So—you need me to get anything ready? I can, you know, chop things, or stir something," he said, a little too brightly. "I'm good at stirring."

"Why don't you light the candles," Daniel suggested. "Here." He turned and fumbled through the junk drawer, then handed Jack a small lighter.

Jack took another swig of beer and set the bottle down, feeling the heaviness in the air, the weight of something between them, something left unsaid. As he stepped into the dining room, Daniel right behind him, he saw that the table was already set, and a collection of small votive candles was scattered across the center. "Is this going to be dinner or a group Kel Noreem?" he joked, trying to lighten the mood.

"Huh." Daniel blinked. To Jack's consternation, Daniel looked as though he were seriously considering it. "I still do it, you know, trying to remember," he said at last. He stared at Jack, so intent that Jack began to wonder what he had said.

"Good for you." Jack picked up a candle and clicked the lighter on. The candle's brand-new wick took a second to catch. Jack stared at it as he lit it, the flame faintly shimmering because his fingers were trembling. "Do you remember anything else interesting?" He didn't like discussing it, the whole ascension thing.

"Yes, I do." Daniel said quietly, opening a cabinet.

Jack picked up another candle and sniffed it. It smelled vaguely spicy. "And?"

"Just…" Daniel shrugged, appearing to be absorbed in the task of selecting matching water glasses.

Jack continued lighting and arranging the candles. There were plenty of them, and the lighter was getting hot. He realized Daniel hadn't answered his question, but now Daniel was setting water glasses on the table. "Daniel?" he asked, turning around. He was startled to find Daniel right there, in his face, disconcertingly close. Again.

"What?" Daniel didn't move away.

Neither did Jack. "What?" he echoed. He wasn't sure what the hell they were talking about anymore, because Daniel was so damn close, his body just inches away, so close that Jack could see the slight flush of his cheeks. It was from the wine, of course.

"Jack," Daniel whispered, and Jack could feel Daniel's breath on his face. Daniel lifted his hand, as if to reach for Jack's cheek, but stopped short of touching him. Jack's heart squeezed, and he stopped breathing. "I think you know—I think—" Daniel started, then stopped. He was staring at Jack with an almost palpable intensity. Jack stared back, light-headed, frozen. He felt like a deer caught in headlights.

The doorbell sounded, startling both of them.

"Shit," Jack exclaimed, jerking away from Daniel.

The bell rang a second time, and someone began knocking. Daniel licked his lips. He was staring at Jack's mouth. "I should get that, huh?"

Jack nodded. "Good idea," he said, and his voice sounded breathless. A dinner party had been a terrible idea, just terrible. He really wished everyone at the door would go away. Damn it. Daniel had been about to say something, something that was obviously very important. Or maybe he wasn't going to say anything. Maybe he was about to do something.

Daniel started toward the door, then paused, looking at the table.

"What?" Jack asked. His body, no longer frozen, had started thrumming, as though he had just finished a quick sprint around the block. He leaned down and picked up the lighter. It was still warm to the touch.

"The candles," Daniel said. "The way you set them up—that pattern—" He shook his head as he tucked in his shirt. "Never mind. I'll get the door."


"Okay, everyone," Carter announced, sweeping into the dining room, Cassandra right behind her. Everyone was arranged around the table, nursing glasses of beer or wine. "Dessert."

Cassandra set two plates full of cookies down with a flourish. "They're still warm," she said. Carter hadn't been kidding when she said she'd bring cookies: she'd brought the dough and had baked the cookies fresh.

"Walnut?" Teal'c asked hopefully.

Cassandra pointed. "Walnut. Chocolate chip over here."

"Oooh," Jack said, seizing a chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate was the perfect texture: warm and liquid. He leaned back as Daniel leaned forward. Their knees bumped, as they had all night. Jack, not for the first time, felt Daniel's foot press against his for a long, intimate moment before it slid away. It made him feel warm and liquid, too.

"Perfect," Janet Fraiser said. She had gone for walnut. "Honey, I was just telling Colonel O'Neill about your solo in choir."

"Oh, god," Cassandra said, trying to sound dismissive but not entirely succeeding. She was a senior in high school now, no longer a little girl, but not exactly an adult, either. "It's no big."

"She had to audition," Carter put in, sitting down on the other side of Daniel, across from Jack.

"Can I have more wine?" Cassandra asked. She had been allowed a glass of watered red wine with dinner.

"No," Janet and Carter said simultaneously.

"Don't change the subject," Janet said.

"When's the performance?" Jack asked. "Because I will be there. With state-of-the-art video recording equipment."

"Oh, god," Cassandra said again, her face turning pink.

Daniel's leg drifted against Jack's, a light pressure against his shin, and stayed there. "Let's hear some," Daniel said. "A preview."

Cassandra shook her head. "It's in Latin."

Daniel was not fooled. "How lucky. I happen to understand Latin."

Jack said, "Humor us, Cassandra."

She didn't take much coaxing. She stood up and came behind Janet's chair. She put her hands lightly on her mother's shoulders. She closed her eyes and lowered her head for a few long seconds. Then she took a deep breath, lifted her face up, and started to sing.

Jack didn't know much about singing, but he knew she was good. Her voice was rich and full, and it was as unlike her speaking voice, which was low and had the halting cadence of a teenager's speech, full of "likes" and "umms," as it could be. Her diction was clear and precise, and her voice arced up high. She was a soprano. He stared at Cassandra, almost shocked at the transformation.

Something in the music moved him, and, without thinking, his hand reached for Daniel's. Their fingers intertwined, right there on top of the table, right in front of everybody, Daniel's large warm hand resting on his. It felt right, somehow soothing and comforting yet exciting at the same time. Their legs pressed together with new urgency, and Jack, staring at Cassandra, squeezed Daniel's hand with a force born from his sudden desire to press his entire body against Daniel's. The hands, the legs, the pressure—it wasn't enough. It could never be enough. All the things he had only permitted himself to think about when he was alone at night, when he was on the verge of sleep, had come to the fore. It had started with that thing with Daniel when he'd been lighting the candles. Now, he wanted to dissolve into Daniel's warmth and solidity, become one with Daniel's body. He understood, now, why Daniel had been touching him, pressing against him. Daniel did it because he needed to, because it hurt not to. He felt the same way, had always felt the same way, but out of self-defense, he'd pushed it away. Now that feeling had come to the fore, and denying it was almost physically painful. Cassandra's voice loosened something further inside of him, made him need to touch Daniel's skin right now, maybe even push him down on the table—

His eyes turned to Daniel, and Daniel's gaze met his. He saw his own need, right there, in Daniel's face. It was absolutely naked: desire, need—for him, for Jack. Jack exhaled, partly in shock and partly in knowledge, and then he smiled, because the song had loosened something in him. Daniel's hand clenched, and Jack clenched back, and only that pressure kept him from taking Daniel in his arms and touching him, body against body, flesh against flesh, giving into the desire for another man—for Daniel—that he'd been repressing for so long.

Cassandra's voice ceased for a long moment as she drew breath. Then she sang a long, steady note, climbed up a half step, then another half step, and another, walking up the scale with perfect control, and she started another song. This one wasn't in Latin. It wasn't in any language he recognized. Jack ripped his eyes from Daniel and turned toward Cassandra, curious. Her hands gripped Janet's shoulders. Janet and Carter were holding hands too, he realized, and as he watched, Carter's other hand came out and took Daniel's free hand. Jack's hand closed around Teal'c's before he was aware of it, and then all the adults were holding hands as Cassandra sang her new song.

When Teal'c joined her song, a low, dark rumble underpinning the bright thread of her voice, it didn't seem at all odd. Jack felt Daniel inhale, and Daniel's voice joined Teal'c's, higher and lighter. Carter had a soprano voice too, but Janet's was wonderfully low, almost like a tenor's, beautifully filling in the missing pieces. Jack's untrained voice layered above Teal'c's, anchoring the others. They laid their voices together as intimately as lovemaking. Cassandra's voice controlled them, but they seemed to predict rather than respond to the intervals she chose.

The song they sang wasn't wordless, but Jack didn't understand the words, couldn't understand how his mouth was forming them. The singing drew him even closer to Daniel, their voices harmonizing, and his body responded. He felt the warmth of his desire flow from his body to Daniel's, and he felt it flow back, warm waves that lapped against his body. The candles on the dining room table seemed to flicker in their little glass holders. The light solidified and swirled, reminding Jack of the shape of a spiral galaxy, cycling above the table in time to the music. A chord sounded, seeming to ring; it modulated to something dissonant and sad, and they cut off simultaneously. The light over the table faded slowly.

"Oh, god," Cassandra whispered into the silence, and this time, it wasn't a teenager's catch phrase. It was a prayer.

The adults, still holding hands, looked at each other. Janet's big, uncertain eyes turned to Carter. Carter shook her head, a silent answer to a silent query.

"What the hell was that?" Jack asked, because someone had to. He felt as though he had just awoke from a dream—or maybe not a dream, because his heart was pounding, he was sweating, and Daniel was almost crushing his hand.

"I think it was being," Cassandra answered cryptically. "Mom, can we go? Please?" Her voice was high and alarmed, but she was trying to be calm.

"I think—the light—the shape, did everyone see it?" Janet asked, releasing Teal'c's hand. "Did everyone feel—it was—" She shook her head, still looking stunned. "Warm. It felt nice. Connected somehow, to everyone." She smiled at Carter, who smiled back, and they squeezed each other's hands before letting go.

Her action broke the circle. Jack had to let go of Daniel's hand, his muscles so stiff that it was physically difficult to unclench his fingers. His hand hurt where Teal'c had almost crushed the small bones.

Jack sat up straight, his head clearing. "Kind of." Hell, "nice" was an understatement. He was glad he was sitting down, because he needed to get control of his body. Yeah, nice. "What the hell was that all about?"

Carter's face was white as she shook her head. "I don't know, sir." She sounded stunned.

Jack turned to Daniel, who merely shrugged as he flexed his hand. Teal'c was next. "Well, Teal'c?"

"I too felt strange. I have never seen or experienced such a thing before, O'Neill."

"Right," Jack said. "Warm and fuzzy or not, I think we may need to head back to base right now."

"Mom—" Cassandra started, sounding much younger all of a sudden.

Janet looked behind her, putting a hand atop one of Cassandra's. "We should all just go and get checked out, you know that."

"Is it me?" Cassandra asked. "Because I came through the Gate? Because I'm not from here? Is it me?"

Janet said, "I don't know" just as Daniel said, "No, it's not you."

"Daniel?" Jack asked warningly as everyone tried to talk at once.

Daniel made a calming gesture with his hands. "It's not you, Cassandra, and this is how I know." He pointed at the table. "Look."

"Okay," Jack said, because Daniel didn't go on.

"Don't you see it?" Daniel picked up the candle nearest him. "The pattern. The planet—the Jaffa—this is somehow related to what they were doing—the pattern. That is the pattern. Jack, you did this."

Daniel set the candle back down, and Jack felt his blood run cold. He had done that—he had set up the candles. Someone—something—had guided his hand. He hadn't even been aware of it. "Are you sure?" he asked. "How can you be sure?"

"I'm sure, Jack. Did you feel anything while, um, you set up the candles?"

"No, we were just talking about you remembering things."

"Huh. Okay. The singing. Maybe that's what the Jaffa were trying to do, what they felt compelled to do. Jack," Daniel said, eyes widening in excitement. "Maybe something is trying to communicate with us. It tried with the Jaffa, and now it tried with us. Couldn't you all feel it? This is—this is absolutely amazing."

"Great. Just great. Couldn't it just send an e-mail?" Jack complained. Carter looked thoughtful, and Cassandra's lips twitched, almost as if she was suddenly fighting a smile. It was much better than the pale, terrified expression moments earlier.

"We have to try again," Daniel said. "Try to call it back somehow. Communicate." After observing everyone's shocked expressions, Daniel added, "Or—maybe not."

"In any case, we are heading back to base. Pronto." Jack stood up, and after a moment, the rest of the group did the same. "Carter, you bring the cookies."

Whatever it was, friendly or not, he felt safer at the base—contained. He hated when mysterious shit like this happened, as it always seemed to. He liked to know what he was up against.

They cleaned up quickly. They put the leftovers away, but they left the dinner table as it was. Carter put the cookies in a Ziplok bag. Nobody was talking very much. Without really even talking about it, it was decided that Teal'c would drive with Janet, Carter, and Cassandra, leaving Daniel and Jack to follow.

"We'll be right behind you," Daniel called out as Janet herded everyone out. The door closed, and then Jack and Daniel were alone.

"Jack." Daniel's voice was soft. He was standing in the dining room, hand on the back of a chair, his expression expectant. The candles flickered.

"We should go," Jack said. The knowledge he'd felt as he sat next to Daniel during the alien visitation had somehow dissipated. It was hard to remember Daniel's leg pressed against his. He felt awkward now. "Here."

Jack leaned over and cupped a hand behind a candle. He blew it out and watched the wick trail smoke. He felt Daniel next to him, just standing there. Jack blew out all the candles he could reach, one by one. When he picked up a candle on the other side of the table, Daniel said, "Jack, stop it." Daniel took the candle from him and set it down, still lit.

"Daniel," Jack said, and he looked up, and whatever he was going to say died on his lips.

Daniel was waiting, Jack realized. Daniel was patiently waiting for him to either gather up whatever meager courage he had, or to turn away, and put an end to it all, leave everything unspoken. Even if they didn't say anything out loud, they had just felt everything that was between them—not simply physical desire, but something richer and more profound.

Jack looked into Daniel's face, and there wasn't anything he could think to say. There weren't any words he could find that could express how he had felt, holding Daniel's hand and singing. So he simply leaned forward and fit his mouth over Daniel's. He closed his eyes just before their lips met. For a split second he was afraid—no, terrified—that he'd pass right through Daniel, that this Daniel wasn't real, wasn't a living, breathing human being after all, but just a figment of his imagination, because he'd missed Daniel so much when Daniel had been gone that reality had bent.

Then they were kissing, and Daniel's lips were warm and solid and eager. This was really Daniel. This was the miracle of a second chance. It was all real. Jack opened his mouth and tasted Daniel—Daniel kissing him. Daniel's mouth felt as wonderful as Jack had imagined, when he would let himself imagine: hot and wet, his tongue sly and sweet. After the first electric, shocking moment, after his heart had resumed beating, Jack felt Daniel's arms encircle him. Daniel stepped closer, which made him taller, and Jack tilted his head back as Daniel's hands slid around so they stroked his back. Jack's own hands settled on Daniel's broad chest.

Daniel made a little noise, almost as if astonished, and Jack made a little noise back, and it was like it broke a dam: Daniel's body pressed impossibly close, and the intensity between them flared. Daniel tugged at Jack's shirt and snuck his hands onto Jack's skin, his big hands tracing warm arcs. Jack managed to slide a clumsy hand along Daniel's nicely muscled arm, onto his shoulders, up into Daniel's hair, bumping Daniel's glasses.

Daniel grunted, and he stopped kissing just long enough to pull his glasses off and fling them onto the table. Jack took the opportunity to grab Daniel's head in his hands and kiss him even more fiercely, and it was as if all that grief of losing him, all the pain and grief of a dark year without him, was being poured out into that one kiss. Daniel matched the fierceness, holding Jack tightly, as if he were afraid Jack might somehow escape him. Jack kissed his neck, his jaw, his cheek, aware of the tightness growing in this throat, his heart pounding, and he felt as though he were about to laugh or cry, or maybe both. He didn't know what the hell they were doing, or what the hell they'd do next. He didn't care. He never wanted to stop.

He didn't want Daniel to stop either. Daniel was grabbing fistfuls of his shirt, pulling on him, pressing his large, solid body against Jack's. With a shock, Jack realized that a hard cock was pushing into his thigh. Daniel's cock. Daniel grabbed his ass and pulled his hips close, so that their erections rubbed against each other. Clearly, Daniel knew what he was doing, and just the thought of what else he might do made Jack moan into his mouth. He rocked his hips forward, and the sensation was dizzying. He hadn't known it would be this good. Maybe Daniel had known, but he hadn't. He hadn't known he'd end up clinging to Daniel desperately, nuzzling Daniel's neck, breathing him in.

An odd sound distracted him. His cell phone.

"Damn it." He rested his forehead on Daniel's shoulder as he fumbled for the phone. Taking a deep breath, he flipped it open. "Yeah," he said, as steadily as he could.

"It's Carter, sir. We're sitting in Janet's car out front. Just checking to see if you're okay."

"Oh, Carter, sorry. I didn't know you were waiting," Jack said. "Yup, we're on our way out. We're just—we're just blowing out the candles." Daniel chuckled, and Jack could feel it against his chest. "We'll be right out." He flipped the phone shut and lifted his head, gazing at Daniel's face.

Daniel was breathing a little too hard, his lips parted. He looked, Jack realized with a little thrill, hungry. Jack rubbed his mouth. His lips felt bruised and swollen. Daniel's eyes followed the gesture, and the half-smile he gave Jack was almost predatory.

"We have to go," Jack said.

Daniel nodded, stepping back. Jack immediately missed the warmth, the sensation of Daniel's body touching his.


The other side of the vortex was much different from what she was used to. She found herself inside a very large pattern that used only geometry to order itself against entropy. There was no grass, and what little water she could find was either in very small pools inside cool basins or inside enclosed cylinders. When she decided to go through the vortex again, she discovered that it had gone away. She could sense the ring that had once held the vortex in place, but it was cold and inert now.

She would rather have gone home, but she didn't mind this new place. She could go back next time the people made it glow. The singer and his three companions met with others of their kind as she explored the building. She had little trouble understanding where she was in relation to the singer. The sheer simplicity of the building meant she could not possibly get lost. She followed the singer when he left the building, and then all thoughts of returning to her quiet world, where she had slept for so long, disappeared. She was excited to see a whole series of patterns, spangled below her like the stars above her. Her singer rode in a pattern that itself was part of a larger pattern of static ribbon and movement. It seemed random, but she thought she could detect an underlying order. When the singer stopped moving, she took note of where he was and resumed her mapping. She would need to spend a while on learning the order that underlay the direction and spacing of the transportation devices. When she went up high and looked down, to get a sense of perspective, the number of patterns was dizzying. Clearly, someone had ordered things here, well before her, for some of the patterns were old. But when she called out, no one seemed to hear her. There was no answering voice.

Discouraged, she continued mapping, using the stopping place of the singer as her center. During a brief stop in, she saw ritual candles being lit, and it pleased her to form them into a summoning pattern. She didn't stay, though—she felt the need to understand this place before she began to reorder it to suit herself. The patterns here were incredibly chaotic, but it pleased her that pattern and chaos and entropy could work so closely together. It seemed fitting. Occasionally, she would sense rather than see the flare of the vortex as it activated, but she didn't return to it. The new place was too much fun, too stimulating to abandon after such a short time.

When she checked on the singer again, she saw that he had a few new people with him, in addition to the people he had been with before. When one of the people, a girl, rose and began to sing, she stopped, stunned. The words were wrong and the tune was off, but the quality of the sound, the cadence, the pattern of the syllables—everything else was there. She called the one she followed a singer, but his song was weak compared with the full glory of sound that this girl could generate. This new one was a singer indeed.

The sound rose up and dissolved into her, making her strong. She let herself sink down, and just as she had nudged the men in metal who sang for her, she nudged the seated people, causing them to complete a simple ritual circle. The fact that they had affection for each other made it easier. She caused the girl's voice to slide up, up, up, reaching for the correct note, and when it had been reached, she sounded a low tone through the man on the end. It held her up as she built the tones on top of that, one over the other, the sounds meshing, sending a thrill through her. She sank into the tiny sparks arranged in front of the singers. It wasn't quite enough. She could feel herself get soft and heavy, could feel herself begin to coalesce. She could drive them to sing more, but she knew it would do no good, and she had no wish to hurt them. She needed a bigger choir if she were to stand against entropy.

When she stopped the song, which she ended on a note of sorrow to echo her state of mind, she released them. She knew she should follow the new singer, because that voice could be a powerful tool, but she didn't. She liked the first singer, whose song this time wasn't the high, piercing sound he had made before but instead a midrange rumble. She could sense his love for one of his companions, and she found the strength of it seemly and pleasing.

She wasn't sure what to do. But that was all right. There were patterns all around her. She could wait a while.


Daniel insisted on driving Jack to the compound. Jack was annoyed, because he knew it was because of the stupid candle thing.

"I'm me, damn it, Daniel," he growled as he buckled his seat belt. "Can't you tell?" It was a dumb question, Jack knew. But he had kissed Daniel, and he wanted Daniel to know it wasn't some sort of otherworldly force that had made him do it.

"I know, Jack," Daniel said. "You're being very you, you know."

"Thank you." Jack peered ahead, watching the tail lights of Janet's car ahead of them as she drove Carter, Cassandra, and Teal'c to the base. Daniel had called ahead. They were expected. "So what the hell happened in there, Daniel? An alien being trying to communicate, or are you going to try and tell me it was some sort of mass hysteria this time?"

"Hmm." Daniel didn't take his eyes off the road. "Mass hysteria. Might have been. You never know. If you want to blame kissing me on some sort of hysteria, go right ahead."


"I was feeling sort of delirious myself—"

"Damn it, Daniel, that's not what I'm talking about." Jack was pretty sure Daniel was kidding.

"Oh, do you mean the singing? And the swirly lights?" Daniel twirled a finger in the air.

"Yes, the singing and the swirly lights. The kissing, that was us. All us. You and me." He glanced over, and in the darkness, he could see a flash of white teeth, a smile. "It's crazy, but not hysteria," he added, hoping there was a difference.

"But it's not crazy. If you think about it, it's not crazy at all," Daniel said.

They stopped at a red light. Janet's car had just made the yellow, and a second later, she was out of sight. The road was otherwise deserted, so Jack took the opportunity to reach for Daniel and kiss him, sloppily, right on the lips. Daniel grabbed his shoulder and kissed him back.

"See? No swirly lights this time," Daniel said.

"Damn," Jack said, settling back in his seat as the light turned green. "Do we—should we—I guess we should talk."

"About what?" Daniel asked. "The alien presence? Mass hysteria? An alien presence making us hysterical?"

"About what we're going to do."


"Why what?"

Daniel took his eyes off the road for only a second. "Because we both know what we're going to do," he said quietly. "And talking about it will just make you uncomfortable."

Jack fiddled with his seat belt. "Right now, you're being very you," he said.

"Thank you."

Daniel kept his eyes on the road, and Jack alternated between staring out the window and watching Daniel drive. Even though it was dark, he could read Daniel's expression, knew exactly what Daniel looked like.

"It was me kissing you," Jack finally said. "Not some swirly alien."

"I know."

Daniel sounded certain, and Jack wondered how he could know. "I figure it came back with us," Jack said, changing the subject as Daniel slowed down, preparing to show his ID to security.

"Yeah, the energy spike. I'm sure Sam is all over it." Daniel stopped the car and hit a button to roll the window down. "Dr. Jackson and Colonel O'Neill," he told the soldier, who extended his hand for the IDs so he could scan them.

Jack handed Daniel his ID. Their fingers brushed, a casual touch, and suddenly, he was hyperaware of Daniel's big, solid body again. Their timing was terrible. He wanted nothing more than to have that body pressed against his again, Daniel's hands on his ass, pulling Jack into his heat.

"Thanks," Daniel told the guard, taking the badges back. "Here." He tossed the IDs to Jack, who fumbled with the clip of his own as Daniel parked the car. "We're reporting to the conference room. Did I tell you that?"

"Yes." Jack zipped up his leather jacket and slammed the car door behind him. He watched Daniel lock the car. "I've got your ID," he said, displaying it. "Hold still."

Daniel obediently stopped, and Jack attached it to one side of his half-open jacket, opening the clip wide to get it around the zipper teeth. It was an oddly domestic moment. When he stepped back, his eyes met Daniel's. The tall parking lot lights shone down on them. It was like they were in a spotlight.

"You okay?" Daniel asked.

"Oh, yeah," Jack said. He started for the entrance, and a second later Daniel followed. "I'm just—thinking about what we're going to do. Later. You and me."

"I'm giving that some thought too," Daniel said. "Some serious thought. I've thought about it a lot."


"A heck of a lot."

"And—what have you decided?"

Daniel punched the elevator call button. His eyes flickered up, and Jack knew what he was looking at: the ubiquitous security cameras, with their little red lights blinking. "That I like thinking about it," Daniel answered. He turned to look at Jack, to really look at him, from head to toe, and Jack began to grow warm. "I thought we'd work it out together," Daniel said at last.

"That…that sounds good."

"But I have some, you know, ideas."


"Just—ideas. What, you're telling me you don't have ideas?"

"Me? I'm full of ideas."

Daniel grinned as the elevator doors slid open. "That's what I like to hear," he said, stepping inside.

"Hold the elevator!" a breathless voice called.

Jack reached out an arm and held it as General Hammond puffed up. "I got a call," Hammond said briefly.

"Yes, sir. Sorry about that, sir." Jack followed Hammond in, and Daniel punched the floor.

"Give me a report," Hammond ordered, removing his hat to mop his forehead.

"We were all at dinner—me, Daniel, Carter, Teal'c, Doc Fraiser, and Cassandra—and Cassandra sang for us."

Hammond grunted to indicate he was listening.

"Except while we were listening, she suddenly started singing in some weird language, and we all held hands and sang along with her. Then this glowy, glittery thing kind of formed over the table. And we felt something. Something there with us."

"Candles," Daniel reminded Jack.

"Oh, yeah, right. Candles. The candles on the table were set in a pattern, like we saw on the planet." Jack turned to Daniel. "That's about it, right?"

"Pretty much," Daniel confirmed.

"So you see, sir, we thought that was very strange, so we figured we'd better head over here. We're thinking something followed us through the Gate. Carter's energy spike. I'm sure you remember."

"Is anyone possessed?" Hammond asked. "For example, you?"

"Does it ever strike you how odd these briefings are, sir?" Jack asked. "Singing. Hand-holding. Alien possession."

"Jack could be possessed, General," Daniel said.

Jack sighed. "Thank you, Daniel. Thank you very much."

"Well, I mean, you're the one who lit all the candles. You put them in that pattern."

Jack ignored him. "I'm not possessed," he said, irritated.

"They all say that," Daniel pointed out.

Jack shrugged. "You know what? If it gets to be me and not Cassandra, that's okay by me."

The doors slid open, and Jack and Daniel followed Hammond out. "It's all par for the course," Hammond said. "Conference room. Now."

The briefing went on forever. Cassandra was so tired and scared, she was almost in tears, and Janet snapped at Hammond as a result. Carter disappeared for about forty minutes to run through the data on the energy spike again, but she couldn't find anything conclusive, other than that it hadn't been associated with anybody, that it existed outside a person's body. Jack said over and over again that he hadn't been thinking about anything, really, when he lit the candles—he'd just lit them and set them down. He didn't mention that he could scarcely remember doing it, he had been so distracted by Daniel. He hadn't been aware they made a pattern until Daniel pointed it out later. Teal'c and Daniel both confirmed that they had never heard the strange language before, but Daniel refused to exclude the possibility that they knew about the language—it could be, he argued, that if he could see it written, he could read it, but he didn't know what it was supposed to sound like. He said he could study the artifacts they'd taken from the planet for some answers. The thing that puzzled everybody was the swirly whiteness that had formed over the candles.

"You said, 'I think it was being,'" Teal'c reminded Cassandra.

"Yes, honey, what does that mean?" Janet asked.

Cassandra shrugged. She had grown sullen. Her shoulders drooped with exhaustion. "Like it was pulling itself out," she said. "The music wasn't enough, though, so it stopped. It wasn't done. It didn't want to hurt us, because we love each other."

Jack carefully didn't look at Daniel.

"So how could it pull itself out all the way?" Daniel asked, as if he understood Cassandra. "How can we bring it all the way here?"

"I don't know." Cassandra shook her head. "Look, I know you think I understand something about it, because it made me sing, but really, I don't."

"If the music wasn't enough, maybe we need more of it," Carter said.

"You aren't proposing we try to make this happen again," Janet retorted.

"Sir," Carter said, turning to the general, "Like Daniel said, it didn't feel threatening, if that makes any sense. It's hard to explain."

"It could be related to the Ancients—an ascended being of some type," Daniel added. "Something that doesn't have as much control over its form."

"And somehow, singing helps?" Jack asked.

"I remember the Jaffa," Teal'c said. "They did not sing. They screamed. There were a great many of them."

"Jaffa, pffft," Jack said, waving them away. "Obviously they are not musical."

Teal'c drew himself up. "Many Jaffa are fine musicians," he said.

"Not these guys."

"Perhaps there is a reason why these Jaffa could not be made to sing," Teal'c said.

"The tape," Daniel said suddenly.

"Dr. Jackson?" Hammond said.

"I videotaped the singing—screaming. Whatever. Maybe we should analyze that. I have more than ten minutes on tape."

"Major Carter?" Hammond turned to her.

Carter nodded. "I'll get right on it."

"Cassandra." Daniel cocked his head, looking at her intently. Daniel had always had a gift with children. He seemed to understand them. Part of it was that he never talked down to them. Cassandra wasn't really a child any more, but the gift still worked.

"What." Cassandra's dull eyes turned to him.

"I'm just thinking about your name. The Cassandra of myth prophesied. What she said would come to pass always did, but her curse was that no one would ever believe her."

"I know that story," Cassandra said.

"So tell me what will come to pass."

Cassandra smiled. "You won't believe me," she said. "That's the rule, right?"

"Belief—it's overrated," Daniel said, glancing over at Jack. "What really matters is how we act."

Cassandra flattened her hands on the conference room table and hunched over, suddenly intense. "I prophesy that I will sing tomorrow. It will come into being. Then you can ask it the questions you want to ask."

"No," Janet said. "I forbid it. You will not sing again."

"Not just me, Mom," Cassandra said. "You. Sam. Dr. Jackson and Colonel O'Neill. General Hammond. All the soldiers on duty who can be spared. In the Gate room. Everyone will sing. Everyone."

"No," Janet said again. "No." She said it firmly, but her eyes, as she turned to look at General Hammond, were pleading.

"I'm not ready to make any decision yet. First we try and find out more about this—this being," General Hammond said. "We'll meet again at thirteen hundred hours. That will give Major Carter time to analyze the videotape." He shot Janet a quelling look, and she bit her lip, obviously struggling not to say something unforgivable.

"What can I say," Cassandra said ironically. She sat back down. "It's a gift."


Jack strode down the hallway, hands in his pockets. He had stayed behind for a short, private meeting with Hammond, although he didn't have anything to add to what they had discussed. Now he didn't know where to go. Carter was doing her thing, analyzing Daniel's recording. Daniel was busy with the translations. He knew he should probably grab a VIP room and get some rest, but he couldn't imagine sleeping, not now, with so much going on.

It all swirled through his mind—the alien presence, the possible threat, candles arranged in weird patterns, singing in a language he didn't even know. And then there was Daniel: Daniel kissing him, Daniel holding his hand, Daniel's cock pressing into his thigh. He stabbed the elevator call button and stood, waiting, bouncing on his heels. He couldn't stop thinking about it, and every time he remembered the hardness of Daniel's erection, he felt a little pang of desire, so strong that it felt almost like fear, in his stomach. The weirdness of the alien presence seemed small in comparison. He dealt with aliens practically every day. But he and Daniel had kissed like lovers, and that was new. They had done it, and he was pretty sure there was no going back. There was only going forward, into some place that Jack had barely allowed himself to think about. But Daniel had been thinking about it. Daniel had ideas.

He impatiently poked the button again just as the elevator door slid open. He nodded to the airmen as he brushed past them.

He knew where he was going.

A few minutes later, he stood in the doorway of Daniel's office, watching as Daniel, hunkered at his desk over the tablets, scribbled down notes, frowning fiercely. Daniel had changed into his BDUs. His green shirt hung open, unbuttoned, revealing a snug black T-shirt underneath. He looked like he always did, but somehow, he looked different. There was a whole other side to Daniel Jackson. Jack had only seen a hint of it. He couldn't look at Daniel now without remembering what it felt like to have Daniel's mouth on him, to have Daniel's arms around him.

"I know you're there, Jack," Daniel said without looking up.

"Oh yeah? How do you know that?" Jack asked.

Daniel pursed his lips as he looked up. "You should probably try and get some sleep," he said.

"So should you."

"I can't."

"Now that's funny. Me neither," Jack said. "What, with a strange alien presence and, uh, you know. The other thing. Me and you." He crossed the room to stand at Daniel's side, studying the tablets without really seeing them.

Daniel smiled up at Jack and swiveled in his chair. "Oh, that thing."

"So, how goes the translation?" Jack asked, deciding that maybe he just wasn't ready to talk about that thing just yet. Daniel's happy smile made his heart beat faster, and the warmth in his stomach had turned into knots.

Daniel shrugged, tossing down his notebook. "Just about finished, but I'm not sure it sheds any light on what's happening. The people who wrote this knew just about as much as we do. See, these glyphs here—" He pointed to a tablet, running his finger over a series of shapes chiseled into the stone. "This is all about worshipping a goddess, a goddess of light and goodness."

Jack moved closer to Daniel. He brushed his waist against Daniel's arm, and he remembered kneeling by the wall on the P3X-0811 while Daniel brushed against him. Daniel had been sending him messages for a while. Now the touch had another meaning: not interest, but anticipation.

"Better than a goddess of darkness and evil," he said, fascinated by the way Daniel's fingers swept over the stone surface. He imagined those hands making those same movements on his bare chest.

"True," Daniel said. "There's nothing here that implies that at all. She also seems to be associated with the arts, particularly music and dance. It says here that they make forms, by which I think they mean patterns. I think this set of tablets describes how they do it. And here." He pointed to another tablet. "I'm pretty sure that describes how they sing—calling to the heavens, it says. And then she comes to them."

Jack squinted down at a picture on the tablet. It showed a circle of people looking up, mouths open—singing, perhaps?—and a swirly cloud above their heads. "And then what?"

Daniel crossed his arms. "Well, I don't know."

"You don't know?"

"I don't have that tablet. This was all that was left of them. Most were destroyed when the wall collapsed—it must have been centuries ago."


"Jack, we should try to summon it again," Daniel insisted. "With this information, we can set up the patterns correctly. We need talk with it. With—her."

"Yes, Daniel, what a good idea. Summon an alien energy force being to Earth." Jack couldn't help the sarcasm. What Daniel was suggesting could put everyone in danger—Cassandra, for instance.

"Jack, she's already here." Daniel turned to Jack, face determined. "Do we want it wandering around out there," he waved up at the surface, "finding other people and making them sing? Summoning her? If you want to talk about mass hysteria, just imagine if—"

"Okay, okay, so you have a point," Jack conceded. It was true, he supposed. If it—no, make that "she"—could make them sing, she could do it with anyone else.

Daniel nodded, apparently satisfied. "Good."

"As long as it knows we only want to talk," Jack added.

Shrugging, Daniel said, "We'll just have to make ourselves clear."

"And I'm worried about Cassandra."

"Yeah," Daniel said, wrinkling his forehead. "Maybe we can sing without her." He didn't sound convinced.

"She prophesied, didn't she?" Jack pulled up a chair. "Listen, I'm just beginning to get a bad feeling about it all. We'll sing, summon an alien, and then settle down for a nice little 'hi, how ya doing'? Sure. That'll work. Talking."

He realized Daniel was watching him intently, but his eyes were different now, his face contemplative. The mood in the room had changed, and Daniel gaze was making him feel warm again.

"Daniel," Jack said softly.


"Speaking of talking, we really need to—we should just—"

"Wait," Daniel said, holding up his hand.

"But, Daniel—"

"Don't—please, Jack, just don't say anything until you hear what I have to say. I've thought about this a lot." Daniel rolled his chair back, took off his glasses, and tossed them onto his desk.

Jack nodded. "Okay." He could do that, he decided. He watched as Daniel looked around the room, then walked over to the door and shut it deliberately, even though it was so late that hardly anyone was around. They were going to have a private talk, after all.


Daniel held up a finger, stilling him. Daniel walked to the door to the storage closet and opened it. He flicked on the light. "Come on."

Jack tried again. "Daniel." Unwillingly, he got up and preceded Daniel into the room.

Daniel shut the door behind him. The room—small and narrow, lined with tall shelves containing the bounty from many an offworld trip, as well as a number of books—got even smaller. The room was barely wide enough for one person, much less two. Jack shouldn't have been surprised when Daniel grabbed him by the shoulders and shoved him against the back wall, but he was. Then Daniel's mouth was on his, his body pressing Jack's against the cold, hard concrete, and it was like coming home.

"Daniel," Jack managed, jerking his head to the side. "Not here—not—" But he held onto Daniel, his fingers winding in the fabric of Daniel's shirt. Daniel's body was solid against his, and Jack could feel his warmth seeping through, onto his skin, into his body. All Jack wanted to do was climb into Daniel's clothes, get closer to that heat, even as he protested, "Not now, damn it, Daniel. Not on base."

But Daniel's mouth found his again, hands holding Jack's head steady. His thigh slid between Jack's legs, his hip pushed against Jack's cock, and all the while, he kept Jack's mouth busy with searing kisses. "Yes, here," Daniel whispered, then kissed Jack again. "Now."

"Daniel," Jack panted, pressing his forehead to Daniel's, "this has to wait. Come on—you've got to know this is a bad time."

"There's never a good time."

Daniel rocked his hips against Jack's, and Jack held back a whimper, but it was good. It was very good. He hadn't dared to think this far ahead. Somehow, he thought they'd talk about it, prepare, even though Daniel had indicated in the car that he didn't think they should do that. Somehow, Jack thought that taking such a big step with Daniel should be something well thought out, not this sudden onslaught of sensation, not this inability to control himself while Daniel held him pinned against the wall and kissed him again and again.

Daniel continued, "There will always be something going on. There will always be a reason to wait, wait until tomorrow, wait until things calm down." He rubbed his mouth along Jack's neck, licking and nipping gently. "I don't want to wait anymore. It's another big alien threat. We have that every day. I could die tomorrow. You could die tomorrow. Hell, I already did die."

"Daniel," Jack didn't want to talk about that. It wasn't fair, bringing that up. "Daniel." He touched Daniel's cheek and looked into Daniel's hungry eyes, amazed at what he saw there: the same desperation he knew was in his face. Daniel was no more in control of himself than Jack was, and that was both comforting and scary. "If you died again, I think I might die too," he blurted out.

Daniel looked startled, which was crazy, because Daniel should have known that already. Couldn't Daniel tell?

"Oh, Jack," Daniel sighed. "I love you, too." He kissed Jack, gently this time, almost reverently. He held Jack even closer, shivering a little as their bodies pressed tightly together.

"Delirious," Jack said, cupping his hand around the back of Daniel's neck, then sliding it down Daniel's back to rest on his ass. "You're clearly delirious." But he was smiling.

Daniel's ass was firm and sweetly curved under his hand, and Daniel's cock was hard, just as his own cock was, and poking into his thigh. He rubbed against Daniel as they kissed, moving slowly, luxuriously against Daniel's body. When Daniel untangled himself and sank down to his knees, Jack decided they were both delirious. It was unbelievable enough that they were kissing, but now Daniel was unbuttoning his pants.

And nuzzling his cock.

And they were on base, in a closet, and he was on duty, and they shouldn't be doing this, and they were doing it anyway.

"Daniel," Jack moaned. He thought his heart would stop as Daniel sucked him into his mouth. It had been years, a lifetime almost, since anyone had touched him like this, and god, he had missed it. Daniel's hot mouth took him in, and the warmth he'd felt when he'd watched Daniel at work, the warmth that had started in his stomach and spread to his cock. Daniel's tongue curved against him, pushing hard. Jack leaned against the wall, glad for the cold, because he was on fire. "Oh, god," Jack whispered. "Just like that—keep going."

Daniel encouraged Jack to thrust into his mouth, and Jack jerked his hips forward, already shaky, already close, his cock unbearably stiff and hard. He gripped the edges of the shelves, hanging on desperately. His body was melting from the heat, from Daniel's mouth, wet and tight, surrounding him, sucking him down, and there was no way they could be doing this. Yet he had given in, and there they were, in Daniel's tiny, dusty little storeroom, with cinderblock walls, metal shelving, and a bright, harsh light casting sharply defined shadows. And Daniel's glorious, glorious mouth, making him feel so damn good.

"Daniel, I'm going to, I'm about to—" Jack gasped as the pleasure flared up inside of him, his balls tightening as it coalesced. His head hung down, and it was a truly astonishing sight—Daniel, holding onto his hips as his slick cock slid into that mouth. "Come. Right now." He moaned, trying not cry out as he came, as he lost himself in Daniel.

At last he stopped shaking. He grunted as Daniel gently released him, carefully pulling his pants back up, tucking him away. Jack released his death grip on the shelves and let his knees buckle, sliding down along the wall, letting his shirt get rucked up. All that mattered was Daniel grinning proudly at him, looking smug as he knelt next to Jack and swooped in for a kiss.

"You came," Daniel crooned. "I made you come. So incredible, Jack, to feel you in my mouth like that. You're—you're delicious."

Jack stared in surprise. "Daniel, you nasty thing you." Daniel had liked it—liked sucking Jack off. He had liked it a lot. A slow smile spread across his face. "It was—that was—" he whispered.

"Good," Daniel said, as if Jack had made sense.

Jack also liked that Daniel had unbuttoned his own pants and had slipped his hand inside, playing with himself. "Give me that, " Jack said, pushing Daniel's hand aside. He found Daniel's cock, and even as he wrapped his hand around its thick, heavy weight, Daniel moaned and pushed against his hand. Jack wanted to get his mouth on Daniel, to make it good for him, to suck him off because he was sure he could remember how to do it. But the space they were in was so damn cramped, and Daniel was so damn desperate, kissing Jack frantically, deliriously, that Jack didn't want to stop. They were half-sitting, half-kneeling, knees bumping together as Daniel tried to drag Jack in closer, kissing Jack so hard his lips hurt.

Jack pumped Daniel's cock firmly despite the awkward position, loving the feel of Daniel's heat on his hand, his solidness, his hardness. He felt the soft outer skin slide along the rod underneath, and he felt Daniel's cock grow harder and hotter as Daniel started to pant. "Oh god, oh god, oh god," Daniel whispered, low and desperate, and with a cry, almost as though he were in pain, Daniel came, his cock pulsing in Jack's hand, Daniel's breath wild and harsh against Jack's face.

Jack kept working Daniel's cock, slowing down, making it last, his hand growing wet and slick. He didn't want to stop. Daniel was melting against him, and he loved the soft moans of pleasure. He only stilled his hand when Daniel pressed a hand over his. Daniel gasped for breath, and Jack could feel Daniel's heart racing.

"Okay, okay." Jack slid his hand away, then wiped it on the inside of his own T-shirt. He could change later. Right now, he wanted the wetness touching his skin. Daniel shifted, his knee digging into Jack's thigh, his shoulder against Jack's chest as he tried to get comfortable up against Jack. "Wait, Daniel, here, turn around. Ow, damn, my foot's asleep." Jack stretched his legs out, foot tingling painfully. Daniel obediently let him rearrange his position, so he was sitting between Jack's legs, his back nestled up against Jack's chest.

"Hmm. That's good," Daniel murmured, leaning his head on Jack's shoulder. "I like this." He pulled Jack's arms around his waist. "I like you."

Jack could hear the smile in his voice. He let his fingers drift along the back of Daniel's hand, playing with the soft little hairs, examining each knuckle, enjoying the fact that he could touch Daniel so intimately. He was pretty sure he had never touched Daniel's hands like this before, and it felt nearly as intimate as touching Daniel's dick. "I'm glad we had this little talk," Jack told him.

"I knew you'd be interested in what I had to say." Daniel turned his hand over, and Jack's fingers investigated his palm, then slid up along a long, narrow finger. "I knew," Daniel continued, his voice sounding sleepy, "from when I was ascended. That's what else I remembered."

Jack stilled his hand. "Huh? Are you saying you got into my head?" The thought was both vaguely disturbing and comforting.

"No—more like your heart. It's hard to make sense of it now, but it was like if I looked a certain way, I could see your feelings. I could see that you loved me."

Jack touched a callus on the side of Daniel's index finger, rubbing it before feeling his way to Daniel's fingertip, to Daniel's nail, blunt and smooth. "I always did, you know. But I always pushed it away, because it scared the hell out of me."

"I knew that, too." Jack laughed, then nuzzled Daniel's hair. Daniel breathed in deeply, his body relaxing. "I felt the same way," he murmured. "Scared. Scared of losing another person that I loved."

"And now?" Jack asked, wondering where they were going to go from here. "How do you feel now?"

"Loved." Daniel's voice was soft. His hand tightened around Jack's.

Jack bent his head and nuzzled the crook of Daniel's neck, tasting the salt. He knew how Daniel felt.


"Ever wonder how many hours of our lives are spent sitting around this table?" Jack asked as Teal'c settled into a chair beside him.

"No, O'Neill, I have not."

"Anybody? Hasn't anyone wondered about that?" Jack looked around the room, but Daniel only rolled his eyes, and Cassie cast a sidelong glance at Janet. "Okay, so maybe not." He leaned back in his chair, rearranging his pad, then twirling his pencil around with his fingers. He was sure it was written on his face, that he and Daniel had done it, had had sex—and in Daniel's storage room, no less. He knew, without a doubt, that it was something they should not have done on base. Yet he couldn't summon any sense of shame or regret. He was too damn happy, because there was Daniel, sitting across the table, scribbling notes on his pad. What they'd done together had been necessary. Daniel had been right. And Daniel loved him.

As if sensing Jack's eyes on him, Daniel lips curved into a smile as he wrote, but he didn't look up. Jack felt that warmth again, deep in his gut.

Hammond bustled in. "Pardon me for being late, but I just got off the phone. Seems as though some folks are claiming a 'miracle' has occurred over at the Church of St. Ignatius during choir practice."

"Ah, don't tell me, sir," Jack said. This was not good—not good at all. He suspected a group sing-along was in his future. "A bright swirly light that descended while they were singing?"

Hammond nodded. "You got it. They began singing in a language they didn't understand. And all experienced a great feeling of warmth and love."

Daniel frowned. "Candles—I would assume there were a lot of candles lit?"

"They didn't say, but that would be a logical assumption, Dr. Jackson," Hammond said. "From the reports I've heard, their experience doesn't seem to be very different from the one you all had. They saw a swirling, transparent light that eventually faded. One eyewitness said it looked like a galaxy, although some did claim to have seen the face of the Virgin Mary in it."

"General, with all due respect," Jack said, "people have reported seeing the face of the Virgin Mary in a potato."

Daniel broke in. "Jack, it could just be a case of pareidolia, but—"

Jack cocked his head at Daniel. "Say again?"

"The phenomena of seeing a pattern or meaning in something random—you know, the face on Mars, that kind of stuff. But maybe not. Maybe this entity can take on a human form."

Hammond leaned forward, gazing around the table. "I'm sure I don't have to explain the urgency of contacting this being and showing it the way home. A few more outbreaks like this, and we'll have a religious riot on our hands. Major Carter, you have something for us?"

Carter nodded as she rose from the table. "Well, yes and no, sir. I analyzed the footage Daniel had of the Jaffa singing." She turned down the lights, and she pointed her remote. An image appeared on the projection screen of the Jaffa, standing in their pattern, mouths open, eyes closed. "When I used the far infrared filter, I got this." She hit a button, and a diffuse, transparent shadow appeared above their heads.

"That's it," Daniel said, sitting up. "That's her."

"That's all I've been able to get," Carter told him. "I've tried other wavelengths, analyzed for other types of energy, but nothing else is visible."

"'Her,' Doctor Jackson?" Hammond asked. "This entity is female?"

Daniel launched into his results of the translation. Jack noticed that as he did so, Cassie was staring at the screen, fascinated. She reached an arm out, as if unconsciously, but when the first Jaffa fell, she withdrew it abruptly.

"Cassie?" Jack said.

Cassie didn't take her eyes off the screen. "She was trying to be," she said quietly.

"Honey, it's okay." Janet placed a hand on Cassie's arm.

"I know." Cassie smiled, but it was tremulous.

"I also checked the tape from the Gate room. Watch," Carter said. "You'll see it, just the same time as the energy spike."

Jack watched the image of the shimmering wormhole. The surface rippled, and Carter stepped through, trotting gracefully down the ramp, her strides long and easy. A moment later Teal'c and Daniel stepped through together, but Daniel paused only a few steps down the ramp, turning his head to watch the Gate. Jack himself stepped through. Daniel nodded, and turned to continue down the ramp. Jack could see the quick smile on his own face—for Daniel, of course. Christ, they looked so obvious.

"There she is."

At the sound of Daniel voice Jack looked up again, and noticed the cloudlike object emerging through the Gate. In a flash, it was surrounding Daniel. It remained for a second, maybe two, then it flew upward and vanished.

"Daniel?" Jack couldn't imagine why she was next to Daniel.

"Huh." Daniel shook his head. "I have no idea why she would do that."

Out of the corner of his eye, Jack could see Teal'c leaning forward. "Whistling. Daniel Jackson was whistling when we entered the wormhole."

"I was? Really? Are you sure? I don't remember—"

"You were," Teal'c insisted. "I remember it clearly. I'm afraid you do not possess talent in that area. "

"Oh." Daniel looked down at his open folder. "Sorry."

"Great, Daniel. You lured it to Earth. Can't you be a little more careful next time?" Jack asked. He wasn't being facetious.

"Jack, how could expect me to know that—"

"People—let's stay on target here," Hammond interjected, frowning at Jack.

"Yes sir. I suggest we find a way to lure it back through the Gate. There must be some sort of sound that it would follow, right?"

Carter nodded briskly. "Right, Colonel. It's possible we can summon it—or her," she corrected herself with a glance toward Daniel, "and maybe have it follow a MALP through the Gate?"

Daniel shook his head. "I don't think it will be that simple. From what I can tell, this is an intelligent being. It's not going to follow some sound—like—like a dog with a dog whistle." His fingers drummed on the table top. "Not to mention that she is attracted to lights and patterns—it's the way she's been called into being. And that's something that has been missing from P3X-0811 for centuries."

"Dr. Jackson, do you have enough information for us to call this thing, get it to take substantive form?" asked Hammond.

"Yes, yes, I think I do."

"Then let's do it. As soon as possible. I'll have everyone that can be spared report to the Gate room. Cassie? Dr. Fraiser? A word, please."

Jack, the last one out, turned to look back. Now that it had spread, now that they knew the entity could probably not be contained, he knew the general had little choice.

"It'll be okay, kid," he told Cassie.

"Don't call me kid," she said automatically. "I know."

"Because you prophesy?"

"Because it's our actions that matter." She looked up at the general. "I'll sing," she said. "It has to be me."

Janet, looking serious, said, "Why?"

Cassie shrugged. "Because I love you all too much to let anyone else do it," she said simply.

"Colonel," General Hammond said, menace in his voice, and Jack took the hint.

He stood by the door for a long few seconds after it shut. He heard Janet's voice raised, but he knew who would prevail.


"Captain Bates?" Hammond said into the microphone.

Jack, looking over Hammond's shoulder, saw Bates lean down so she could see into the MALP. She was the communications liaison for SG-3 and SG-7, both of which were on P3X-0811, securing the other side of the Gate.

"General," she said. "Sweeps indicate no Jaffa troops. We think they've left, probably because of the whole passing-out thing."

"They may be back," Hammond said. "Keep the Gate secure. We'll contact you in three hours. If you don't hear from us, go to the Alpha Site and wait for further orders. Do not contact us here on Earth."

"Yes, sir."

"Hammond out." At Hammond's gesture, the Gate technician shut down the connection. "Colonel. We can begin."

Jack stepped back. Jack knew why Hammond had given the orders he did, but he didn't have to like it. The general was ready for it all to blow up—for the alien force to take over the SGC. But Jack remembered the feeling of love and peace that had emanated from the creature as they sat in Daniel's dining room. He thought they had nothing to fear. But it struck him then: maybe the alien simply made people trust her—maybe it was part of her mojo, and she really was a threat after all.

"It's not my show," Jack said. "It's Daniel's. Daniel's and Cassie's."

"Let's get started, then," Hammond said, and Jack followed him downstairs to the embarkation room.

It looked like everyone was there. Everyone who could be spared was crammed into the little room. There was no room to stretch out your arms. Daniel had sketched a pattern onto the floor with chalk, and people were more or less in the right place. Daniel, Cassie, and Janet were standing on the metal ramp leading to the Gate. Carter was in the front row of people, standing with Teal'c. Jack noticed, as he pushed through the crowd, that SG units were sticking together, as were the doctors and nurses. People were standing by their friends. As Jack joined Cassie, Daniel climbed a ladder that he'd set up at the foot of the ramp. He needed to get distance so he could see the pattern from above. He held a crumpled printout of the pattern.

"Okay, good," he said, and everyone shut up. "You—thanks—a little more to your left. And you three? Maybe a foot forward." It went on like that for a few more minutes as Daniel, consulting his printout, nudged everyone into position. "Okay, good. Don't move. Thanks for coming. This is a sing-along. This is what we're going to do." Jack listened as Daniel outlined the plan. He had arranged everybody into an evoking pattern, one he hoped would call the alien into being once Cassie began singing. "We don't know what will happen," he finished. "I doubt anyone will get hurt, but as General Hammond said, we can't promise that. We're hoping to summon the alien and convince her to leave, before she starts visiting choirs again. Sergeant Davis up there is watching us, and he's ready to dial out to the planet where she came from, so we can send her home." He looked down at Cassie. She nodded at him. Her face looked white. "I think we're ready."

A quiet murmuring arose as Daniel climbed down. He folded up the ladder and set it on its side next to the ramp. He seemed to see Jack for the first time.

"Hey, Jack," he said, but he turned immediately to Cassie. "You ready?" he asked, taking her hands.

"It's my big solo," she said. "I'm a pro. I'm ready." Jack exchanged a look with Janet, who did not look happy. Cassie extended one hand to Janet. "Mom, I love you," she said. "Daniel, Jack, I love you too. You know that's why I have to do this."

"Thanks, kid," Jack said, touched, even though it was like she was saying goodbye. She hardly ever called him "Jack." "Back at ya." Jack looked at Daniel. "Where do you want me to be?" he asked.

"Right here with me," he said, and he gave Jack his hand just as Janet took the other one.

So they all held hands and stood there in a circle, standing just off the ramp up to the Gate. From the floor, it just looked like a bunch of people were standing around. Cassie looked down at the ground for about a minute, and it got very quiet, until there was no more throat-clearing or foot-shuffling in the crowded room. And, just like in Daniel's dining room, she raised her head and sang.

Jack knew what to expect, because he'd heard it before, but now, with everyone here, he saw it through their eyes: a teenager with a voice like an angel, an ordinary person with an extraordinary talent, remarkable in someone so young. There was no hesitation, no uncertainty. Jack was sure she was nervous, but it didn't show in her voice. She was controlled, her voice absolutely pure. Jack felt warmth rush through him. He looked sideways at Daniel, who was looking down at the floor with his eyes shut. When Jack glanced at Janet, he was shocked to see tears running down her face. She had felt it before—the rush of love—and maybe that was what it was now, love mixed with terror and fear, because it was happening.

It was happening now.

The women were called first. They held a sustained tone as Cassie segued her Latin choir piece into a summoning song. It was a different song from last time. Last time, it had been graceful and slow. This time, it was fast, with lots of runs of notes, Cassie's solo voice shining against chords held by the women. Janet took a deep breath and joined in. Her low voice seemed to call the men to join in. Their lower voices layered in as Cassie's voice grew ecstatic. Jack could hear Teal'c, and Daniel, and Janet, and he thought he could hear Carter, all of them there because they loved Cassandra. Jack felt the low bass rumbling through his feet, and it was all there, like a tapestry of texture, the full spectrum emanating from one focal point: Cassie.

The air seemed to move. Janet's hand clutched Jack's. He looked up, and there she was: a swirling galaxy of sound and essence, forming above them. The chords strengthened, grew louder, and the highest women's voices ceased accompanying Cassie, instead joining her in a complex harmony. Other voices took up Cassie's melody, emphasizing and strengthening it. Jack was hyperaware of Daniel and Janet on either side of him, and through them, he could feel the steely strength of Cassie herself. Jack sang, his voice shifting from note to note. He wasn't aware of how he did it. He just knew what to do. But as he sang, he felt Daniel's hand squeeze his, hard, and his heart felt full. Jack felt as if he were wavering on the edge, like if someone said the wrong thing, he would laugh, or cry; or if Daniel took him into his bed, he would just dissolve into him, trembling and gasping as he came at the lightest touch of his lover.

Jack understood, then, what the alien needed to come into being. The song, the pattern—both were there to evoke love. That emotion was what was necessary. That was why the Jaffa hadn't been able to call her forth. In the choir, singing with Cassie, were friends and coworkers, husbands and wives, lovers, people who depended on each other for their lives. The unofficial motto of the SGC was that no one would be left behind, and they all believed it, because before they stepped through the Gate, they had to know that if something happened, someone loved them enough to come for them. Now, that emotion was being turned to another purpose.

The women's voices reached a crescendo, and Cassie looked up as the being drifted down. She held a note as opalescent smoke drifted around her, caressing her body, and she shut her eyes. The voices cut off simultaneously. Cassie dropped her hands, releasing Daniel and Janet, and opened her eyes, and it wasn't Cassie. Her eyes were white, as though she were blind. Jack saw that they hadn't physically turned white; rather, some kind of film covered them. He could see it roil and move like clouds. She looked the same: she was still wearing jeans, hiking boots, and a sweater. But she seemed taller somehow, more confident, older.

Cassie inhaled sharply and looked around slowly. Her eyes rested on Janet.

"I'm here," she said simply.


She looked around, feeling the heavy weight of hair, its brush against her shoulders, the feel of shoes on her feet. She could feel her tongue, too. She had forgotten what taste was, and her mouth watered. How could she have forgotten so much? But here it was, taste and pressure and sound. Here it was, the change in vision, in perspective. Her body was young and strong, the body of a singer. Her pulse beat in her. In her blood, she could sense a strangeness, a heaviness that she didn't remember from her previous bodies. This one had something different about it. Around her were people she loved: there was Jack O'Neill, mouth slightly open, looking his equivalent of startled, his hair sticking up. Daniel Jackson had stopped breathing and was staring at her. Daniel was still holding Jack's hand, their love palpable and obvious to her. And there was Janet. She had never seen Janet before, not properly. She turned and looked. Her heart filled. Janet was terrified for her. She didn't want to hurt Janet, or Daniel, or Jack, or Sam, or any of them. She just wanted to be. It had been so long.

"I'm here," she thought, and Cassie said it.

"I'm here," she said simply.

There was a shocked silence.

"Hello," Daniel said tentatively. "Um, my name is Daniel Jackson."

"Daniel, I know who you are already," Cassie said. "I've known you since I was what, eleven? Twelve?"

"Right," Daniel said. He let go of Jack's hand. "Who are you?"

"I'm Cassie," Cassie said, because she was.

"Who else?"

"Well, mostly Cassie," Cassie amended. She looked up at the empty Gate, then took a step. She remembered how to walk because Cassie knew how to walk. She ascended the ramp and stepped into the ring. The substance the Gate was made of called to her. It had never interested her before, but she had never traveled before. Even as she stood next to the Gate, she knew that they would not activate the Gate when it could destroy her. She ran her hands along it, feeling the slightly rough coolness of it. If she focused, she could sense the forces holding it together, the pattern of its structure. They held against entropy too, with their webs of power irising open and closed throughout the universe, blinking on and off. This pattern was one that interested her, one she wished to explore.

"We wanted to talk to you," Daniel said.

"Why?" Cassie asked, touching one of the chevrons. "You're not here to sing or dance, or to worship me. There isn't enough room in here to hold a barn dance." She remembered the days of dancing, the joy. She had waited for those days to return.

Daniel cleared his throat. "If you're Cassie, you must know why," he said. "We think you should go home."

"I just got here," Cassie said. "I'd rather not leave just yet." Even better than the dancing, there were patterns to explore, like this one. She shut her eyes and held her hand flat against the Gate. There. And there. She saw it now, the latent power, the spatiotemporal coordinates. It had been there the whole time on her world, and she hadn't noticed. She'd been a fool. It was here. It was all here—the answer to every question she had thought to ask.

"But you're scaring people. The people in the church? With the singing?"

"They weren't scared. They were happy," Cassie said. "They thought they saw God." She had felt the love they had for their god. It was strong and pure and beautiful.

Now Jack stepped up. "Are you God?" he asked. "I'm just asking," he added defensively.

"I don't know. I don't think so."

"My people have a story, a myth," Daniel said as Cassie leaned her forehead against the Gate. "We say that God created the world by speaking it into being."

"I know that story," Cassie said.

"We spoke you into being," Daniel pointed out. "So it's not just a story."

"I am not nothingness," Cassie pointed out. "You called me, that's all, and I came." It was this body, she realized. There was something inside this body that amplified the Gate. It wasn't that she had noticed or not noticed before; it was that this body was drawn to the Gate just as she, in her natural form, was drawn to water. Her mind seized on a pattern, and she twisted it just so, and suddenly, she understood the meaning of a one of the patterns inside the Gate. It was a four-dimensional map of all the Gates, whether they worked or not. They were lying out there like beads scattered on a velvet backdrop, some bright as they flickered on, others always dark. Some moved in patterns unrelated to gravity, although very, very slowly—they were probably on ships. Many were broken, crushed. Only a very, very few were in use. They kept track of each other as the universe shifted and moved, singing to each other in coherent patterns.

"It's beautiful," she said, extending her arms overhead and leaning as much of her body against the Gate as she could. The information was very, very complex. It would take a few minutes for her to understand it all. "Oh, Daniel, it's all here, and it's beautiful. The entropy can't prevail with the Gates in place."

"Entropy?" Daniel asked.

"I stand against it," she said. "It's my function."

Daniel tried to understand. "So you live on the planet you're from to keep entropy at bay?"

"Well, the planet doesn't matter so much. I'm just from there. I live in the water. The water keeps me coherent."

"Tell me about days past," Daniel encouraged. "Tell me about singing, and dancing."

"They would sing me into being, just like you did," Cassie said. "It was so long ago. I blinked and they were gone." She missed them. When she could no longer feel them, she been so empty. But now, this—this was even better. She could feel the information, the patterns, flooding her, a glut of information that made her wandering patterns seem unfocused, slow, pedantic. In addition to spatiotemporal information, there was also information about gravity, what constituted the atmosphere—everything that made a world livable, or not. "They made patterns for me, because I liked them. And it helped amplify me, made it easier for me to come into being. Oh, it was beautiful. They would call me so they could talk to me, and they'd ask me to do things. Like, they had me officiate at weddings and births. Or they'd sing a song someone had composed. Or they'd ask me to protect them against attack. It made a loop, my care for them and their care for me. I would protect them against harm, and they would rejoice in me, in my existence, as I did in theirs."

She heard Daniel shift his weight. "Who would harm you?" he asked.

"People came through the Gate," Cassie said. There. She had it. She pulled away, the information like a ball of light inside her, warming her, and turned to face Daniel. "I was made to protect. Refugees, I guess you'd say, came to my planet. They were running from the goa'uld. They were the ones who made patterns for me most recently. There were others before that, and others before that, and—you get the idea."

Daniel ran a hand through his hair. "So—you're a weapon against entropy?" he said.

Cassie smiled. He got it. "Yes, that's it exactly," she said.

"Entropy where?"

Cassie shrugged. "Entropy everywhere, I guess."

"Who made you?"

"I don't know," Cassie said. "God, maybe? Or the Ancients?" She touched the cold, dense metal of the Gate again. "I never knew," she said. "It's been forever, just—forever, and the Gates were there the whole time, working with me." She held a hand up and waved it in a long swoop. The Gate activated, quietly, with no explosion shooting out. She'd selected her first destination. "Time and space, all here."

"What—time?" Daniel asked, startled. The flickering blue light cast a watery glow on his face, and Cassie had to smile at the coincidence: she lived in water, and now she would travel through standing water.

Cassie nodded. They didn't seem to know, but their understanding of patterns was ridiculously simplistic. They'd probably learn, if they kept playing with the Gates, how to make it work through time in a controllable way, just as they would learn the underlying logic of the addresses. "I think I'd better go," she said, stepping forward. Now, suddenly, she had places to be. With the whole Gate system at her disposal, she could move from pattern to pattern, reinforcing them against degradation, keeping entropy at bay. It was, after all, her function, to keep things in harmony. And there would be planets full of people to sing to her—a universe full of them. They had the capacity for so much joy, so much love. She would find them all and bring that joy to them.


Cassie stepped back. "Mom, it's okay," she told Janet.

"It is not okay," Janet said. "You are not going anywhere."

"I understand the Gate," Cassie said patiently. "I won't get lost. I'll be fine."

"You have to leave Cassie." Janet took Cassie's hand. "You are not taking my daughter anywhere. Do you hear me? Take my body if you want. I don't care. Just let Cassie go."

Cassie hesitated. She could feel how upset Janet was. She half-turned back to the Gate, torn, barely noticing as Daniel stood aside to give her room. "If I leave this body, then I might lose it all." All that knowledge, so precious for being so new! She didn't know if she could bear the loss. She didn't know if she could bear being in the water again. She had spent so much time there already. And now, to lose this body so soon—

She could sense the strength in this woman, from the firm grip on Cassie's wrist, to the fierce light in her eyes.

"Do you need it? The body?" Daniel asked.

Cassie nodded. "I do," she said, not taking her eyes off Janet. "I really do. I need something to make me coherent, like the electric charges in this brain. Like the water I live in." She touched Janet's face. "I don't know," she said in an agony of indecision. "I have to do what I have to do."

"Can you stay in a body long term?" Janet asked. "Without harming the body?" There was a harsh edge to her voice.

Cassie nodded. "I've shared bodies with a few people for their lifetimes," she said. "But just a few. Love must be strong for us to coexist like that. Just like I—Cassie—love you. That's why I could stay here, with Cassie. If I leave, I have a few days, maybe, before I have to go to the water."

"But you can't go through the Gate," Janet said. "You can't take Cassie away from me."

"I think it's really important that I do," Cassie whispered. "I think it's what I'm supposed to do."

Janet blinked, and tears fell down her face. "Stay here with me," she whispered. "Please."

The was not working out as she had hoped. She looked up, and she saw love. She understood love, and although it was chaotic, it also smoothed chaos. She saw Janet's love for Cassie, her fear for Cassie's life, and her determination to have Cassie stay with her. She saw Daniel and his love for Jack. And Sam and her love for both Janet and Cassie. Everywhere she looked, she could sense it, the web of relationships and respect that sustained them all. She was asking them to break it. To destroy the pattern. She bowed her head in shame. There was really only one thing she could do.

"Come on, then," she said, wiping a tear away. Water. "You too, Daniel." She led the way down the ramp. She turned off the Gate. "Dial it up," she yelled at the man in the booth above. "Dial it your way." As the Gate started to circle, she turned to Daniel, ignoring the crush of people just behind her. "It's important," she said. "If you find someone who wants to partner with me, come and get me. You can sing again. I'll wait in the water."

"The Jaffa," Daniel said tentatively.

Cassie brushed them away. "They don't love," she said. "And I had trouble with the metal they wore. Anyway, I doubt they'll be back." Their anger and fear had been palpable, the result of their master's lack of care. Underneath it all, now that she thought about it, now that she had Cassie to help her understand what she had done, she realized that she had scared them to make them go away. She wasn't proud of that. "Just—just sing for me. Come by and visit, even if you don't find someone for me. I'll be around."

Daniel nodded. "I'm pretty sure we'll be back. There's so much we can learn from you."

The Gate activated with a roar. Cassie gave Janet a smile, then walked up the ramp. Knowing something had to be done didn't make the doing any easier. So she didn't look behind her. She sang a pattern as she walked, and she drew herself out along the pattern, pulling herself out, pulling herself into the matrix of the song. She knew she would forget, as she always did, the sensation of being human, but she hoped she would remember the breathtaking complexity of the Gates, because she knew now what her destiny was: to ride the Gates, to stand against entropy, to honor harmony, and thereby to honor love.

Cassie stumbled to her knees, fell, but she kept on going, leaving Cassie behind, right on through the Gate, and there it was: home, suddenly smaller, but with the sun bright and the call of the water beckoning her.


"Do you want to go home?" Daniel asked. "I mean, it's been a long day."

Jack opened the car door. "You have my casserole dish," he reminded Daniel. He kept remembering Cassandra stumbling and falling. He'd been terrified she wouldn't stop, that she would walk straight through, but she hadn't. She'd sung as she walked, and fallen, and then it was just Cassie, her eyes their usual color, saying, "Mom, I'm fine," as Janet fussed, and sounding exactly like her teenaged self.

"Oh, right." Daniel turned off the car. "Minnesotan delight."


Jack followed Daniel into the house. Jack's truck was parked out front, just where he had left it an eternity ago. He paused in the dining room as Daniel hung up his coat in the front hall and went into the kitchen. The dirty dishes they'd left on the table looked shabby and sad.

"It's transmuted into this squishy mess," Daniel called from the kitchen. "Those crunchy onion things are not sturdy. But there wasn't much left."

Jack found the lighter, tucked under his plate. "Just toss the leftovers," he said.

"Do you want me to run the dish through the dishwasher?"

"You'll forget to give it back. I know how you are. Absent-minded." Jack picked up a candle, cool and solid in its clear glass holder. He sighed. He didn't care about the dish.

"Yeah, that's true."

There was a thud, and Jack heard the water go on. How could everything be so normal? After what Cassie had been through, it seemed wrong to wash a casserole dish. He didn't know what would be right: ritually lighting candles, maybe? Or playing an opera or something on the stereo, loud enough for the alien to hear? Or going out dancing, to burn off all that panic and fear? The conversation he and Daniel had just had was like a thousand others they had had, but now, everything was different, and it wasn't just Cassie. He'd kissed Daniel right here. He'd changed everything.

He was exhausted, but he didn't want to go home. He wanted to stay here, with Daniel, because he felt like Janet did: terrified and protective and relieved, all at the same time. The alien had left Cassie and had returned to her planet, even though she wanted to stay, to do—something. Jack didn't understand what. But he understood that she had left because Cassie and Janet loved each other. And when Cassie had taken Daniel aside and talked to him, then kissed his cheek, he'd had a good idea what she'd said to him. She knew. He figured she could keep her mouth shut about the two of them, about Daniel and Jack, but Jack found he didn't care. He trusted her.

Maybe rituals weren't such a bad idea after all. Maybe it was time for a kind of Kel Noreem. As Daniel washed Jack's dish so he could take it home, Jack gathered up all the votives and the lighter. He put them in a large bowl he found in the buffet and carried them to Daniel's bedroom. It didn't take long to rearrange the votives. As he lit them, one by one, he wondered whether he was setting them into a pattern. He wanted to invoke the thing that he and Daniel had between them; he wanted to make it appear like a spiral galaxy over them. He imagined it sinking above their entwined bodies before settling over them like a cloud, like touch. Like love.

Jack turned the lights off and removed his leather jacket. The votives flickered merrily. They didn't throw a lot of light, so Jack turned on the bedside lamp. He hung his jacket on the doorknob to the bathroom and turned on the shower. He folded his clothes neatly when he undressed. He could tell by the increase in water pressure when Daniel was done in the kitchen. He made his shower quick. When he stepped back into the bedroom, towel around his waist, Daniel was sitting nude on the bed, cross-legged, waiting for him. The candlelight made his skin glow, and he was the most beautiful thing Jack had ever laid eyes on.

"Come to bed, Jack," Daniel said.

Jack dropped the towel and took Daniel's hand. It didn't feel strange to be naked with Daniel. It felt right. "I'm so glad you're back," he said. It had to be one of the biggest understatements ever.

Daniel lay back, tugging Jack beside him. "Mmm," he said, extending his long body. He smiled at Jack for a long moment before sliding a hand around Jack's waist. "Mmm," he said again as he kissed Jack. "Oh, stay. Stay the night. Stay the day. Stay here with me."

Jack touched Daniel's temple. "Yes," he said, remembering Janet's face as she watched Cassandra possessed. "Stay here with me," she'd said, and he felt as though he'd seen something of her that he rarely got to see: her heart. He understood that fierceness, that hedge against loss. He felt it himself. Yet circumstances often meant that things were out of their control. He'd stay with Daniel, and he would relish every second of it, because right now, circumstances were in their control. The calm between the storms. Another alien threat was gone, but this one had left something in its wake.

He traced Daniel's lips with a finger. He loved Daniel's lips. The bottom one was sensually full. The man could say anything he damn well pleased and Jack would hang onto his every word, because of that mouth. That mouth—and that body, dense and solid under his hands, throwing off a palpable heat that drew Jack in.

"Here," Daniel said. He sucked Jack's finger into his mouth. His tongue swirled, and Jack's erection became almost painful. "Let me see you."

He pushed Jack onto his back and straddled him. He clasped Jack's hands and spread Jack's arms wide, his eyes watching intently, as if he had never seen Jack before. He leaned his weight onto Jack as he bowed his head. Jack gasped at the sensation of Daniel's warm mouth tracing his collarbone. The warmth spread through his body. Daniel's mouth moved to one side, to nuzzle and kiss Jack's armpit, to lick along his biceps, to work his way back and bite gently on his neck, to trail down and lick his nipple. Jack felt his nipple tighten as Daniel turned the licking into sucking. It was as if a wire ran from his nipple straight to his groin. Jack moaned, because it felt good, and because it was Daniel. He suddenly needed to touch Daniel, to push against him, but when he tried to move his arms, Daniel wouldn't let him go.

"No," Daniel admonished, leaning into Jack. "I'm not done."

It had never occurred to Jack that Daniel could physically overpower him. The realization hit him in the balls. Jack was a trained, experienced soldier, but Daniel was bigger and heavier, and, geekiness aside, he was no slouch when it came to defending himself. He preferred to use words, but that didn't mean he didn't know when to use force. Like right now.

"Shit," Jack said, pushing up with all his strength. Daniel bore down and kept him in place easily.

"Stop trying to get away," Daniel said mildly.

Daniel kissed Jack, hard and deep, stealing his breath, stealing his mind. When Jack relaxed against the mattress, Daniel started in on his body again, rubbing his face against Jack's skin. Daniel's erection pressed against his stomach, burning hot. When Daniel moved, his soft balls dragged against Jack's skin. Daniel let up on Jack's arms so he could go lower, and Jack didn't try to get away. He simply let Daniel have his body. Daniel stroked his cheek against Jack's stomach, and a second later, Jack felt Daniel take him into his mouth. Jack moaned and thrust, because it was good, better than when Daniel had sucked him off in the storage closet, because they were taking it slow now, and they had the privacy to do it right.

Daniel's hands clenched as those lips, those incredible lips, tightened around his cock, and the thought that his, Jack's, body could make Daniel react like that made him faint with desire. Daniel released his hands, and as Daniel made himself comfortable between Jack's legs, Jack wound his fingers in Daniel's short hair and brought his knees up. Daniel took in nearly all of Jack's length, and he didn't hold Jack's cock steady with his hands but instead stroked Jack's waist, Jack's legs, Jack's ass as his mouth sucked, as if he couldn't get enough of touching Jack, as though he could get off just by touching Jack's body. Jack took in the beautiful sight of his slick, red cock disappearing into Daniel's mouth, then reappearing, harder than ever. He couldn't last, not with Daniel here with him, not with Daniel's harsh breathing telling him how excited he was.

"Stop," Jack gasped before it was too late. "Oh, Jesus. Stop."

Daniel released Jack's cock. "No."

Jack fought for control. "I'm going to come."

"Yes." Daniel pushed on Jack's knees. "You are."

Daniel lowered his head again, but this time, he didn't take Jack's cock into his mouth. Instead, his tongue licked the sensitive spot between asshole and balls. Jack leaned back, bringing his knees to his chest, as Daniel moved lower. Jack was distantly aware of Daniel's hands on his ass, pulling him open, and then he moaned because Daniel's tongue delicately pushed inside him. And then he was aware of nothing but the sensations of Daniel toying with his asshole, flicking his tongue just inside, withdrawing, then pushing in, harder and deeper. Jack panted as his hands wound in the bed's comforter, and the panting turned into moaning when Daniel sucked one of Jack's balls into his mouth as Daniel slid the tip of a finger barely inside.

"The way you taste," Daniel said. Jack felt Daniel's breath as a cool puff on his overheated balls and cock. "Oh, god. The way you open up to me." He pushed his finger in deeper, evoking an involuntary groan of pleasure from Jack. "You like it." It wasn't a question.

"More," Jack said. "Please. Deeper." He wanted to surround Daniel, to pull him inside him, but even that wasn't enough for how he felt. He wanted to be possessed, to be one, just as Cassie and the alien had become one. "Yes. Like that." Daniel pushed further in. It burned, just a bit. Jack felt his muscles flutter a little around Daniel's finger as Daniel rotated it. The sensation of Daniel's finger warred with the heaviness of his cock as Daniel worked him, occasionally rubbing his cheek against Jack's leg. "Damn it, don't stop," he begged when Daniel's finger withdrew, leaving behind gaping emptiness.

"God, Jack," Daniel said. He pushed on Jack's knees, sending him onto his side. "I need to touch you." He leaned over Jack and grabbed something off the night stand. "I want to be inside you. Can I do that? Or do you want my fingers?"

"Yes," Jack said incoherently. As if he could deny Daniel anything.

"Here." Daniel's hands fumbled with a bottle of lube. He had to peel off the little plastic sleeve around the lid. It seemed that Jack hadn't been the only one preparing a seduction. Daniel spread some of the thick, cool substance onto Jack's fingers. "Touch yourself."

Jack curled his hand around his cock as Daniel put an arm around Jack's waist and tugged him up so they were kneeling, Daniel behind Jack. Jack let him, enjoying the feeling of letting someone else be in charge. He didn't think he could say in words how much he wanted Daniel inside him. All he could say was, "Yes." As Daniel's slick finger pushed in a single, smooth movement, he said "Yes" again as he stroked his own cock. The cool lube soothed his hot flesh. He twitched his ass a little, to increase the sensation. He actually felt Daniel's fingernail as Daniel slowly withdrew. A moment later, the broad, blunt head of Daniel's dick poked at him. They fumbled for a few seconds before Daniel slid the tip in. Daniel's cock felt huge as it stretched him, but it didn't actually hurt. Daniel gasped and grabbed Jack's hips.

"Okay? Does that hurt? I don't want to hurt you." Daniel's words came out in a rush.

"Oh, yeah," Jack said as Daniel thrust forward. "It's good. Real good." He felt Daniel's balls brush against his ass. Daniel's cock, a heavy weight inside him, pushed against his balls from the back, and it was like heaven.

"That's it," Daniel said, breathless, urging Jack backward until Jack was sitting on his lap. He put one arm across Jack's chest and buried his face in the crook of Jack's neck. "Oh, god. Up a little. Now down."

"Making me do all the work," Jack gasped. Daniel's soft laughter was like music. Like a song. Using his legs, Jack slid himself up and down Daniel's length, fingers clutching at Daniel's arm. Daniel moaned and kissed and bit his neck, his chest broad and strong as it stroked against Jack's back. It didn't take them long to work out a rhythm, Daniel thrusting and Jack rocking. The heaviness inside, the gaping openness of his body as it stretched around Daniel's cock, Daniel's little gasps, the burst of pleasure that was almost pain whenever Daniel hit a spot deep inside—all of it was secondary to being in Daniel's arms, feeling Daniel's hand range up and down his body.

"Oh god," Daniel said, voice rough. He started to pant, his movements growing rough and jerky. "Oh, fuck, Jack, oh god, oh god—"

Jack's hand tightened on his cock as Daniel lost it. Daniel thrust in short, hard jabs, and Jack sat back, taking it, feeling his asshole stretch impossibly wide as Daniel pounded into him, out of control and coming deep inside of him. Jack stroked his cock as he let himself go, giving into the pressure, his come splashing onto his knuckles and stomach. He said, "Daniel," as his muscles fluttered around Daniel's cock. He shook with the force of his double orgasm, cock and asshole rhythmically squeezing, only Daniel's arm keeping him upright. "Daniel," he gasped, leaning forward to steady himself. He could barely hear over the pounding in his ears.

"Mmm," Daniel said, following him forward and kissing his back. Somehow they managed to topple onto their sides, Daniel still embedded in Jack. Daniel put one leg over Jack's and pulled him close. "Nice," he murmured in contentment.

"Very nice," Jack said, panting a little. He liked having Daniel hold him. He liked being in Daniel's bed, with candles flickering all around. He especially liked the thought that they were going to do this again. He hadn't tasted Daniel's cock, for instance. He had to remedy that. Soon.

When Daniel got too soft to stay inside, Jack turned to face Daniel, and they put their arms around each other. Jack's asshole burned, but whenever he remembered Daniel riding him, out of control, it would tighten, sending a burst of pleasure through him.

"Like touch," he said drowsily, drawing a finger down Daniel's chest. That was what it felt like, to be loved by Daniel: touched so deeply, so completely, that there was hardly room for himself. "Daniel?"


"Will you sing to me?"

Daniel laughed, a low rumble against Jack's ear. "Okay," he said, and he started to sing something in one of his languages, his voice light and pleasant. Jack sank into Daniel, because it was time to just be.

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