Fair Game? by Kiva Jones
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Category: General
Genres: Angst
Rated: All Ages
Warnings: None
Series: None
Summary: Did Daniel know more than he let on about what the Goa'uld's would want from the treaty?

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Slouching down one of the corridors that ran through the Cheyenne Mountain base, Jack O'Neill hastily stepped back as a group of SFs rushed past. A stern glare made some of them check their speed, but he couldn't really fault their haste. He had no doubt that they were still making preparations for their expected *guests.*

With a shake of his head, O'Neill continued on his way, stopping in front of his destination a few moments later.

"Daniel? You in here?" There was no answer, so Jack shrugged, turning away from the open doorway he was leaning into. He was about to try a new location, only to bump into the object of his search.

"Whoa!" Barely escaping an avalanche of falling books with his toes intact, Jack jumped back a step while at the same time reaching out a hand to steady his friend, who had been knocked off balance by the force of their sudden impact.

"Damn," the archaeologist cursed, immediately crouching down to re-stack the scattered volumes, before picking them up as best he could.

Jack, meanwhile, cast himself in a supervisory role. "You missed one," he offered, smirking inwardly as he was rewarded with a rather unamused look from Daniel.

"Thanks," Daniel muttered sarcastically, moving into his office to drop off the books he held before going back to retrieve the one he'd been unable to get. "Did you want something?"

Jack shrugged again, shoving his hands deep into his pants pockets and leaning back against the door frame. "Nope. Just....wondered what you were up to, is all."

Sitting heavily in his chair and reaching for a book, Daniel answered. "Well, right now I'm 'up to' my neck in research, so....."

"Really? Boning up on our three visiting snake heads, huh?"

"Something like that," Daniel replied, discarding one book and picking up another, stopping to read the title before opening it up and scanning the pages.

O'Neill watched him in silence for a few moments. "You know, they have computers for that stuff -- or so I've been told," he amended at Daniel's look, aware that his almost total inability with computers was somewhat well known around the base, especially after the entire 'Ancients-knowledge-wiping-what-smarts-he-had-and-replacing-them-with-complete-giberish' incident. Also privately referred to as completely FUBAR --it really hinged on his mood.

"Yes," Daniel said slowly, still peering at Jack over the top of his glasses, eyebrows raised. "But people were using books long before they were using computers, and besides.....it never hurts to check out *all* available sources. I like to be as thorough in my work as possible."

"I know," Jack murmured under his breath, remembering some of Daniel's more -- thorough -- briefings. Very long and *very* mind numbingly bor -- er, thorough.

"Of course, if we go by that example," Jack started, "then we'd still be using the trusty old abacus instead of a calculator.....now that's something I'd like to see when it comes time for those pencil pushers at the Pentagon to work out how much this project costs."

Daniel looked a little confused, wondering how he'd been drawn into this conversation -- if these wild tangents Jack sometimes went on could be called that. "I suppose you're right," he admitted reluctantly.

"Of course -- and still going by your example here -- before we had electricity you'd have been reading that book by candlelight. And let's not forget --"

"Okay Jack, I get your point," Daniel hastily cut in. Naturally Jack looked pleased at out-talking the linguist. "What did you want again?"

Giving up his slouch against the doorway, Jack moved into the room, taking up a new position perched on Daniel's desk.

"To tell you the truth......I'm kinda interested in how you're takin' all this."

Immediately averting his gaze, Daniel picked up the pace of his skimming, the pages obviously moving faster than he could actually focus on. "Why?" he asked, not even pretending to misunderstand the 'all this' of Jack's statement.

"Because we're about to meet the enemy in a big way. On our own turf, admittedly, but -- I need to know how everyone is going to react. I need to be sure that no one is going to --"

"Do something stupid?" Daniel put in.

Jack took a deep breath. "Ah - yeah. That about sums it up."

Daniel smiled, a little bitterly. "Well, you don't have to worry. I have no intention of charging in headfirst or baiting any Goa'uld. Nor do I have any intention of -- offering myself up as a host, or anything."

The last part was whispered, but O'Neill still grimaced as he thought back to the scene in the Goa'uld prison, just after Sha're had been revealed as the new host of Apophis' queen. But he was well aware that Daniel wouldn't do anything like that. Too many run-ins with various Goa'uld had definitely cured him of *that* impulsiveness.

"I know," he said quietly. "But I don't think there's one person on this base who wouldn't jump at the chance to give the snake heads a taste of their own medicine. It's my job to give Hammond my absolute assurance that won't happen."

"Well, you have my assurance," Daniel swore. "I won't do anything that will jeopardize the coming negotiations. I just hope we can live with the outcome of them."

"What do you mean?"

"C'mon, Jack. What's the one thing on this planet that keeps us out there, pissing off the Goa'uld?"

O'Neill inclined his head. "The Stargate."

"Exactly. Do you really think they'll allow us to keep using it?"

Jack didn't answer, but his dark eyes showed his understanding.

Daniel just nodded, turning back to his book. The silence stretched on until Jack finally broke it. "You know what that means," he said.

Daniel looked up, the low lighting that reflected off his glasses doing nothing to shield the misery in his eyes. "Yes. No 'gate travel means no need for the SGC. And no SGC means that I won't be able to continue searching for Sha're and Skaara."

The face of the young Abydonian who had shared his sister's unfortunate fate flashed into Jack's mind, and he cleared his throat. "You don't know for sure that the Goa'uld will want that." At Daniel's sceptical look he continued on. "However.... even I can see it's in their best interests, and knowing them as we do, an act that fits the snake heads M.O. But that doesn't mean that the government will agree."

Daniel shook his head, holding up a finger to emphasise his point. "Think about it.....do you honestly think they'll say no if it's the only way to ensure Earth's safety?"

The look on Jack's face said he wanted to disagree.....but he couldn't. "No," he said finally. "I don't."

Daniel nodded again, turning his gaze back to the book in his hand.

There was nothing more said for a moment. "You know what?" Jack suddenly burst out. "I think I might actually be regretting killing that snake-bitch Hathor." At Daniel's surprised look, he elaborated. "Well, it's what started this, right? From what Thor said, I gather they liked her about as much as we did, but they're still pissed that we offed one of their own."

The archaeologist looked thoughtful. "Ah, no, not really. I mean, they would've come after us eventually. Killing Hathor just.....upped their schedule, is all."

O'Neill didn't answer directly, instead sighing explosively. "I still don't know why Thor wanted me to do this. You love to talk....you would've been a better choice."

Daniel smiled slightly at his friend's nerves. "Jack, you'll be fine. From the impression I got of the Asgard, Thor wouldn't have chosen you if he didn't think you could handle it. Besides.....we're all here in case you need us.....okay?"

Jack straightened up, standing silently for a moment before nodding his head. "Okay," he agreed. Returning the look, Daniel read the unsaid message *we're here too.*

"Okay," Daniel repeated. Before anything else was said, there was a commotion at the doorway. They both looked around to see a young Airman standing there as several more scurried past.

"Colonel? The General would like to see you, sir. He said it has to do with the weapons on Base."

Jack sighed again, facing Daniel. "Well, no rest for the weary, or....something like that." He gave a one-shouldered shrug, and Daniel smiled slightly, inclining his head towards Jack in goodbye as the Air Force officer decided he had his reassurance, waving as he turned and left to deal with this latest crisis.

Which left Daniel alone with his research. As he focused on his reading again, a familiar face caught his eye, and he rested his gaze on the picture of Sha're that sat on his desk. 'I will find you, Sha're,' he thought. 'Even if we lose our 'gate, if I can try to some-how get off-world and start looking...... I don't know when or where or.....what will happen when I do, but.....I will find you.'

Feeling better now that he had put his whirling thoughts into word -- and admitting grudgingly that the talk with Jack had worked -- Daniel returned to his books. "Okay....Yu, Chronos and Nirti," he muttered. "Well, that last name is certainly familiar....."

Moving to his computer, he proceeded to pull up all of the relevant files of the SGC's previous run in with the Goa'uld who had taken on the persona of the ancient Hindu goddess, murmuring to himself all the while. And as he became lost in his work, Daniel knew he was going to do everything in his power to see these negotiations through -- the fate of the Earth rested on it. The rest.....he could deal with later.
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