Section 37: Getting Back to Business

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The next morning, after Dr. Frasier had checked over D'argo one last time, the three visitors were called to the briefing room to meet with General Hammond. John wasn't sure what to make of the summons but they didn't really surprise him. The General wouldn't let them just slip away, especially after yesterday's excitement.

When they arrived with Dr. Frasier, Jack and the General were already seated at the long table. The Colonel was even smiling which John took as a good sign as he politely nodded to the General's bright greeting.

"First, I'd like to apologize for yesterday," the General began. "I'm still at a standstill with the Pentagon on whether or not they wish to let you leave, but yesterday's situation has left them rattled enough that their previous orders are now strong suggestions." Hammond gave them a pointed look to let them know that he was going out on a limb for them. "In light of yesterday however, Dr. Rhodes and Dr. Dendron are willing to accept a compromise. Captain D'argo," he went on, "would you be willing to give Dr. Frasier a few blood samples so they may study its properties? I'm not asking you stay," he added hastily, "just to give blood. It will help in our fight against the Goa'uld."

D'argo glanced at John and back to the humans. "Yes," he said. "I'll do that for you. But if you even think about taking me prisoner, I vow I will rip out your throat." John couldn't help grinning; the Luxan always said that. And usually it didn't help.

"Thank you." Hammond turned to the rest of them. "Then as soon as you are ready, you're free to go." At his words, John felt a wave of relief wash through him. Gone was yesterday's hostility. Soon they'd be going home. He just hoped nothing else happened before now and then.

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The blood drive took less time than they expected - just three vials of quickly browning blood and they were on their way to the gateroom. Aeryn kept a wary eye on the halls they walked through, fearing that at any microt another problem would appear that would keep them buried in this mountain. But surprisingly, they made it to the stargate unhindered. However, SG-1 was waiting for them at the bottom of the ramp. She knew it had been too easy!

"Didn't think you could just sneak out of here, did you?" asked Jack when the three from Moya stopped short. "Relax, we're just here to send you off."

"We got you a few things, too," said Daniel lifting two green and red wrapped parcels, one in each hand. "Sort of a thank you for getting us back here." Sam and Teal'c were holding other parcels in the same gaudy paper. Aeryn looked at John who was speechless for once in his life.

"Don't open them now," Jack broke the silence. "It'd be all mushy and there'd be paper everywhere. The General hates that." But from his ghost of a smile, Aeryn saw a friend trying to soften the parting. She would miss them, too.

Joining them at the bottom of the ramp, John held out his hand which Jack shook heartily. "Thanks for helping us out," he said.

"Oh, I think we're even" Jack replied. "It's been fun."

"Fun?"

"Well, you know," Jack shrugged. "Aeryn," he shook her hand, too. "Keep that kid of yours safe."

"With my life," she replied. She shook the others' hands, pulled in unexpectedly by Sam for a brief hug and a knowing smile.

"Good luck," the other woman whispered in her ear.

And then the stargate groaned and alarms went off and finally the stargate burst to life. It truly was magnificent. Aeryn glanced around her at the stark gray room and the four people watching them go. They didn't know them well, but well enough.

"Ready?" asked John taking her hand and giving it a squeeze.

Aeryn smiled. "Let's go home." And they stepped through the wormhole.

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"Good people," murmured Daniel as the wormhole disengaged after the three travelers. "I wonder if we'll see them again."

"I doubt it," said Jack. "But they sure made life interesting."

On Jack's other side Sam snorted at the understatement. "I hope they'll be okay."

"They are most resourceful," said Teal'c. "I believe they will be just fine wherever they are."

And with that, the four friends left the gateroom for their long deserved time off.

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Somewhere far from Earth in both distance and reality, after one last fight to take back Lo'la and a jubilant homecoming, John was reading aloud to Aeryn in their room on Moya. "Ellen, English form of Helen, see Helen," he turned a few pages. "Helen, means light."

"No," said Aeryn from where she lounged comfortably against her mate's chest.

"Eleanor," John continued reading from one of the books SG-1 had given them. The book of 20 000 baby names and What to *Expect When Expecting* had been Sam's gift to them. On the other side of the bed lay the Star Wars Trilogy courtesy of Teal'c who had noticed John's tv, and a pile of Dr. Seuss books from Jack and Daniel. D'argo had received *Risk Management for Dummies*, much to John's amusement when he read his friend the title

For now, though, John and Aeryn were content to sit together and think about the future, at least the part they could control. D'argo was resting with Chiana who was still recovering from her injuries. Stark and Norianti were off with their own projects, and Rygel had stopped by to offer his name for consideration. Their ship sufficiently recovered, they were far from the Qujagan system in the emptiness of space. Moya was quiet. They were home. All was good.

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Finished! Finally! I hope you enjoyed it. Now here's my final request. If you would be so kind, tell me your favorite part, favorite line - or most hated of both. Disappointments? Crowning glory? It doesn't have to be long, just one line, it takes two seconds so please let me know what you think.

And did anyone catch the MacGyver, X-Men and random plant references?

Thank you so so much for reading.

Tassos