Title: Two of a Kind
Author: Josephine
Rating: M
Spoilers: After Season 4ish

"Hey Daniel, you ready?" Sam looked into Daniel's office, her eyes resting on the graceful curve of his spine, his shoulders bent over one of the many old books she had helped him lug back from the ruins of PR3-056.

"Huh?" His head popped up at the sound of her voice, and Daniel blinked a few times, his vision adjusting to the difference in depth. "Oh, yeah, I was just waiting for you guys…" he trailed off, sliding down from his stool and reaching for the stuffed pack leaning against a table leg.

Sam sighed good-naturedly, and smiled at him. "We were waiting for you," she chided, smiling again at the chagrined expression on Daniel's face as he saw she was dressed in BDUs and only lacked her pack and P-90. In companionable silence the pair made their way to the locker room where Jack and Teal'c waited, also set to go. Teal'c said nothing, but Jack gave Daniel a look of exasperation that Daniel patently ignored.

Swiftly he got into his BDUs and leaving the locker room, slipped on his pack, thanking Sam absently as she helped him with it, and then aiding her in return. Again they walked down the corridor together, this time behind Jack and Teal'c, until they reached the Gate room and were handed their P-90s by waiting Airmen.

"Fire 'er up, Walter!" Jack called out, clipping his gun to his harness and standing at the foot of the Gate ramp. One by one the chevrons were locked in, and Sam was tickled to see that under his breath, Daniel was chanting along with Walter. She wondered if he did it unconsciously, or maybe to be sure they were going to the right place.

The big kawoosh interrupted her thoughts, and Sam fell into her usual place beside Daniel as they clanged up the ramp. The trip through the Gate was uneventful, and she and Daniel popped out of the event horizon with a little jog. The sky of PX4-338 was a brilliant blue, with a few wisps of clouds that did nothing to shield the bright orange sun.

Daniel squinted and slid on his sunglasses as Jack and Teal'c waited for him and Sam to join them. The quartet walked down the well-worn, rather wide cobbled path that curved into the surrounding forest; only the few thin trickles of smoke in the distance gave any indication that the area was inhabited. Though a few hundred yards from the Gate the team was met by a mixed assemblage of even numbered humans, dressed plainly but well in embroidered tunics and loose pants.

"Probably the Bellotain Council," Daniel muttered to Jack as the small groups approached each other. "SG-6 indicated they were friendly but had some particular views on —"

"I actually listened at the briefing, Daniel," Jack muttered back between clenched teeth and smiling lips. Piqued, Daniel stepped back and stood by Sam.

"You must be the SG-1 we have heard so much about," said a tall, thin man with a shock of black hair, coming to stop before Jack. A slightly shorter woman with dark brunette hair and eyes the same brown stood with him; in unison the pair bowed slightly. "I am Danso Kentif Marind of the Costlal tribe, and this is Danso Kentif Pafir," he supplied, indicating the woman beside him. "Kentif Bennir and Kentif Kayebin, Kentif Krisno and Kentif Anteni. With a sweep of his hand Marind indicated a man and a woman, and two men standing behind him. They were part of the larger group but definitely paired together, Daniel noticed, reaffirming the intel SG-6 had gathered about this culture.

"We are pleased to welcome you," Danso Kentif Pafir added graciously, her voice low. "Your accommodations are this way. You must be tired from your journey."

"Naw, it was a quick trip." Jack strolled down the path, Marind and Pafir on one side of him, Teal'c on the other. "Blink of an eye. Like that," he said, snapping his fingers.

"Indeed." Marind seemed amazed. "Even over such great distances between the stars?"

"Indeed," Teal'c replied.

Further back, Kayebin turned to Daniel. "We do not use the Calmak," she said, apologetically. She looked past Daniel to Sam. "Indeed, we don't know how. We only have legends and stories about it. When your SG-6 came through we were quite startled. We had no idea what the strange sound was!" Laughing, Kayebin turned to Bennir on her left, who smiled back in agreement.

"There was much consternation about the Calmak coming to life," he chimed in. "It had sat silent for so long. We thought it was damaged, or that the legends were exaggerated."

"Major Nestruk says though that there is an entire network of 'Stargates' throughout the universe," Kristno asked from behind them, his gaze going from Daniel to Sam and back again.

Sam nodded. "Quite an extensive network, actually. We've discovered the addresses for hundreds of planets, and there are probably hundreds more out there that we haven't discovered."

"You and Doctor Jackson have done all that?" Anteni was suitably impressed, before Sam corrected him.

"Not just Daniel and I, there have been lots of people working on the Stargate program."

"I see," said Krisno. Anything else he was going to say was cut off by Marind stopping at a crossroads in the now rather wide road.

"Jack and Teal'c have indicated that they would like to continue to where our records are stored; is this agreeable, Daniel and Samantha?"

Daniel nodded, looking at Sam, who shrugged and nodded back. "That would be great," they said in unison. So instead of bearing left the group went straight, through the outskirts of the large town to a building made of varying shades of stone. Daniel realized that the graduating colors indicated additions, quite a number of them in fact, made to the building over time.

"Our Records Building was built at the entrance to a cavern where we found the earliest mention of the Calmak," Marind informed them as he pushed a pair of large, metal double doors open. "We have added to the right and left outside of the cavern; as each addition becomes full with the current year's records, we build another room and start filling it. Having to pass through previous records to get to current ones ensures we never forget our history."

Nodding again in agreement with Marind, Daniel was the one to follow close behind as the leader moved from the stone of the building to the stone of the cave. Sam was on their heels, with Jack, Teal'c, and the rest of the group trailing at a more sedate pace. They walked in silence for a few minutes, their footsteps thudding dully in the long passageway.

"The room was sealed off when our ancestors first discovered it." Marind pointed to where the rough stone turned smooth and polished. "They were able to break through, and found this." A wave of his hand over a senor panel caused the lights to come up, and Daniel's mouth dropped open at the sight of the small round room, Ancient writing carved in not only the walls, but the ceiling and floor also.

As Daniel trailed his hand over the near pristine carvings, trying to take everything in at once, Sam was drawn to a low, circular dais in the middle of the floor. It was roughly seven inches high and three feet across, made of metal, with Ancient writing in its border.

"We have no idea who created this place, but we call them the Kahrestin, a word that comes from one of our oldest dialects." Pausing, Marind looked at Daniel as he raised a hand.

"What does Kahrestin mean?"

A low chuckle came from Kayebin, and Marind gave her a mock glare, then turned back to Daniel. "It means 'Hell if I know'."

Nonplussed, Daniel blinked a few times before Marind took pity on him. "When this room was first discovered, the historians were deluged with questions asking what it was and who built it. Unable to say whom, and frustrated at not being able to, the Lead Historian said 'the Kahrestin' to make them stop. Apparently it was meant as a joke, but since none but a few historians spoke that dialect any more, it remained their name."

"Kinda like 'kangaroo', eh, Daniel?" Jack finally said into the silence.

"Actually, sir, that's an urban myth." Sam grinned at Daniel who gave her an amused smile back.

"Oh." While Jack made himself busy intently studying a phrase in Ancient that he had no idea what it said, Marind continued.

"We have never been able to decipher the writing, if in fact it is writing," Marind said ruefully. He sighed, looking around the room regretfully. "I sometimes doubt we will."

"Daniel can do it for ya." Jack wandered over to stand next to Daniel, missing the shocked look on the Kentifs' faces. "Wha'da think, Daniel?"

"Well, it might take me a few days to be sure, but from what I can tell so far it shouldn't be too hard. If it ends up taking too long I can leave some reference material with--" His voiced cut off as he caught sight of the Bellotains. "Unless… you don't want me to…" Nervously he glanced over at Jack.

Clearly flabbergasted, Marind opened and shut his mouth a few times, trying to find words. "No, we would be immensely appreciative. You know this language?"

"It's Ancient," Daniel answered. "You were right in that it's the language of the people that built the Stargate – the Calmak."

"Amazing," sighed Pafir, as she and Marind looked at the room with new eyes. Sam was surprised to see Kaebin wipe a tear away as Bennir hugged her tight, while Krisno and Anteni pounded each other on the back while grinning madly. Sam shrugged at Daniel, who shrugged back.

"We've suspected for so long," Bennir explained. "But of course we've never been able to confirm any theories. This will open up an entirely new area of study."

Jack turned around, assumed interest in the Ancient writing gone. "Peachy! Now that that's set, what's this thingy here?" Walking over to the dais in the middle of the floor, he nudged it with his foot.

"Perhaps you could also help us with this?" Anteni asked good humouredly. "It is made of some metal we are unfamiliar with, not at all like the Calmak's metal however. It is divided into sections, the lines which continue across the floor, up the walls, and over the ceiling to a similar disk. As one the group raised their heads to see a duplicate circular object on above them.

"It's like being inside a giant cut cake," Jack muttered. "Hey Daniel, d'you know if these guys have anything like cake?"

"I have no idea, Jack," Daniel grumbled back at him. Going to stand beside Sam, Daniel glanced at her. "Any ideas?"

"Not really," she admitted reluctantly. "Maybe some kind of control station? But for what?" Gingerly Sam reached out a foot as to step up onto it as Daniel reached out to stop her.

"You don't know what could happen."

"Nothing happens," Krisno replied, mounting it. "Nothing ever happens." He got back down and stood next to Anteni.

"Hmm." Sam got on it herself, turning around a few times, then back off and back on again. "Maybe two people?" Holding out her hand to Daniel, she gently helped him up next to her, the pair squished together somewhat.

"Not two," Daniel joked. Sam nodded and hopped down, then kneeled to peer at the raised border running around the dais, Daniel getting down after her.

"If I can find some kind of access panel I might be able to—Whoa!" Startled, Sam fell back as the dais hummed to life, a faint blue glow coming from the etched writing in the metal. "What on Earth –" She looked up to see Jack on the platform.

"Was that me?" He looked down at his feet, picking one up and then the other to look at the glowing metal under him. "Cool."

"We're never going to live this down," Daniel whispered in Sam's ear as he pulled her to her feet. Leaning against him for a moment, she chuckled.

"Not for as long as we live." Sam and Daniel stayed like that as the Bellotains exclaimed over the dais' activation, inspecting every inch. Jack threw a helpless look at Teal'c, who merely raised an eyebrow, at Sam, who shrugged, and Daniel, who fought a laugh.

"Sir, perhaps if you concentrated on a section of the wall," Sam offered up. A fleeting 'what the hell' expression crossed Jack's face to be replaced by a slight straining one.

"He going to burst a vein," Daniel muttered, hiding it behind a cough. Sam had to bite her lip not to laugh this time.

"I got nuthin'." Finally giving up, Jack stepped down, the lights fading.

"Still," Marind said, "we have received so much today. We cannot in truth ask for anything more."

"It would have been nice though," Daniel replied, gazing thoughtfully at the dais. Sighing, he got back on it, then jumped as it came to life. "Why didn't that happen before?" Automatically he looked to Sam.

She frowned, her head cocked to one side as she thought. "Maybe the Colonel turned it on, and now anyone can use it."

"Use it for what purpose, however?" Teal'c asked. "What is it that this device does?"

"Daniel," Sam said eagerly, "were you able to translate any of the Ancient writing at all?"

"A few words over by the door."

"Concentrate on them. Think the words."

As Daniel did so, a slight shift in the air pressure was felt, then suddenly writing in the air flared to life, keeping within the wedge inscribed into the rock closest to the door.

"What is it?" Marind almost shouted in his excitement.

Daniel peered at the words. "It's… a Gate address," he said, surprise evident in his voice. "The address, and information about the planet."

"One planet per section?" Jack asked.

"Umm, I don't think so." With a small shake of his head Daniel stopped concentrating and the writing disappeared. Leaping off the dais, he ran to the section he had originally read and continued to translate. "I think—" The room was silent as SG-1 and the Bellotains waited for him to finish.

"Think what?" Jack said impatiently. Daniel held up a hand to stop the questions, and Sam walked over to him.

"What is it, Daniel?" she asked softly.

"I need—I need more—" he muttered, quickly scanning the room; abandoning the writing on the stone, he fell upon the writing on the dais, nimble fingers flying over the words etched into the border as he translated. "Ok, it seems… ok, this is a map room, with all the Gates the Ancients created—though I wonder— and information on the planets." Circumferencing the border and back where he had started on the platform, Daniel looked up at Sam, incredulity clear on both their faces.

"Every Gate?" Sam whispered.

"It's possible they built more after this room," answered Daniel.


"Still," echoed Daniel as Marind came over, wanting to know exactly what Daniel had found.

"Ok." Jack raised his voice over the spinning of the Bellotains' Gate. "T and I'll go back and tell Hammond what going on, he'll probably want to put together a team to stay here long term to help these guys figure out what they've got. And no, Daniel," he said as Daniel opened his mouth, "you can't be on it. You'll probably have a few days before the other team comes back; it's the Government, for crying out loud, so make the most of it. Capisce?"

"Understood, sir," Sam said, nudging an irritated Daniel, who nodded.


"Check-ins every day. Don't get so wrapped up in that place you forget."

Pafir stepped forward. "We will take good care of them. It is the least we can do for all the help you are offering us."

"All righty then. Ready, Big Guy?"

"I am indeed."

Daniel watched Teal'c bow in farewell to the small crowd who had come to see them off. Soon the horizon closed after his two teammates, and Daniel heaved an almost silent sigh of relief. Exploring new worlds with that pair was all well and good, but when it came down to studying what they had found, especially in the field, they could be a serious pain in the… mikta. Smiling at his witticism, Daniel looked around to see Sam talking to Anteni and Krisno.

Sam, now— Daniel thought. Having her along was quite different than Jack or Teal'c. She'd never be able to shed the soldier totally, but give her a problem to figure out and the scientist would sink her teeth into it and never let go. Almost without thinking Daniel found himself walking over to where she stood.

"Ready to get back to work?" asked Sam with a smile, turning from Anteni and Kirsno who had stepped back slightly at Daniel's approach. "We have a few hours until dinner time."

"You will be dining with us," Anteni said, Krisno agreeing by his side. "Your kosk is close to ours. We can take you there first--?" He looked from Sam to Daniel and back again.

Laughing, Sam refused. "If I know Daniel, he'll want to get back. And we'll have to drag him away to eat and sleep."

"Lead the way, pot," muttered Daniel, also smiling. Sam only laughed harder, while Krisno and Anteni smiled politely in confusion.

"Well then, shall we commence?" Krisno asked.

The walk back to the Records Building and the cave seemed shorter this time; but when they reached the Records Building Daniel was surprised to see a small cluster of people milling about the entrance. They became rather agitated when they saw the foursome draw near, finally one older man detached from the group and planted himself in front of Anteni and Krisno.

"It is true? The writings have been translated and the dais has activated? It tells of where the Calmak goes?" The man thrust out his jaw belligerently as he accosted the pair.

"Grisbab, please." Krisno held up his hands, placating him. "What happened in the Kahrestin Cavern was totally unexpected. Once we have had the opportunity to process what we have learned, I'm sure Danso Kentif Marind and Danso Kentif Pafir will inform everyone," he said, emphasizing their title slightly.

Hmphing in derision, Grisbab glared at Krisno before turning his narrowed gaze to Daniel and Sam. Daniel wondered at his animosity, and the fact that his mate was nowhere to be seen, but after years of facing down Goa'ulds he wasn't going to let an irate native frighten him. Seeing Grisbab take breath to start another harangue, Daniel grabbed Sam by the hand and muttered platitudes to the crowd as he firmly pushed through the mass of people to the Record Building's entrance.

He ignored the questions thrown at him, somewhat surprised to find himself focusing instead on the warmth of Sam's hand in his, the slight rasp of his palm against hers. Daniel wondered for a brief second if her work caused calluses like he had, or if Sam's skin was smooth—

A firm squeeze of his hand brought Daniel back to the here and now and he found himself outside the cavern, still holding Sam's hand. He glanced down, then back up to see Sam's smiling face. Another squeeze and she let go as Krisno and Anteni came jogging up to them. The air of the cave felt cool against his skin, and Daniel flexed his hand, still feeling the pressure of Sam's fingers over his.

"We apologize," Anteni said, catching his breath. "We should have anticipated that news of this magnitude could not be contained."

"Who are they? Why was Grisbab so hostile?" asked Sam.

"Fellow historians, mainly, and a few others who have nothing better to do. Where would you like to get started?"

Daniel shared a look with Sam, both of them silently acknowledging to the other Anteni's sidestepping of the second question, but willing to let it go for now. Entering the cavern, Sam got started linking her laptop with the dais, while Daniel gave Anteni and Krisno a crash course in the Ancient's language.

A number of hours later Sam got to her feet, knees stiff from sitting hunched over the computer for so long. She grimaced slightly as she stretched, joints popping loudly in the quiet room, but the noise didn't even make the three men with their collective noses buried in books twitch. Humming to herself, Sam began to pack up the laptop, pleased with the progress she'd made. Pausing, she realized she hadn't heard anything from Daniel, which meant he was having luck with the translations. Usually there were at least sighs and mutterings if it wasn't going well, pacing and rambling monologues on Budge and his ilk if it really wasn't going well.

"Hey Daniel, ready to call it a night?" Coming over to Daniel's side, Sam gave him a nudge, with no response. Not surprised, she gave him another, which caused him to look over at her, visibly collecting himself as he brought himself back to where he was.

A funny little contented warmth spread through Sam as she watched Daniel make a few last notes and pack his books away. He was so passionate about all of this, even after all these years, after all that had happened to him.

"Discover much?" she asked, checking their location relative to the entrance where the trio had started to work. "You've gotten pretty far."

"Not really," Daniel admitted with a wry smile. "I decided to do a sampling of what was here instead of a detailed analysis. I figured the team General Hammond sends back can do that."

"Good idea." Seeing that Krisno and Anteni were ready to go too, Sam hefted her pack and walked along to the Records Building itself with Daniel beside her. When they emerged from the building, the crowd was gone and the sky was dark, though densely blanketed with stars like tiny pin prick lights.

"We're near the middle of the Milky Way, aren't we?"

Sam nodded at Daniel's question, looking up at the night sky, and breathed in deep. The air here was clean, with none of the pollution that Earth had. The slightly cool air made a little shiver go through her, and Sam was reminded of her younger days when the night held a sweet, romantic mysteriousness. Chiding herself for such thoughts on a mission, for goodness sake, Sam's eyes drifted to Daniel, surreptitiously watching him as he took in his surrounding, most likely comparing and contrasting this culture with the multitude of others he knew about.

Soon enough they reached Krisno and Anteni's kosk; entering the low thatched dwelling Sam could see and smell what looked to be a richly spiced stew simmering in a pot on the back of a simple stove.

"I asked Aleenie and Corrand if they would start dinner for us," Anteni said, taking a wide wooden ladle from a hook and stirring the pot. The smell intensified and Sam's stomach rumbled, making her blush and the men chuckle.

"Here then, Samantha." Krisno handed a bowel to Anteni who filled it and handed it back. "Eat, in good health."

Sam dropped her pack and eagerly took the bowl, moving to sit in a chair Daniel had pulled out for her at the table. Blowing on the spoonful she scooped up, she tested the temperature with her tongue before eating it all with a happy sigh.

As she slaked her hunger, Sam was dimly aware of Anteni puttering around the kitchen, placing a board of sliced bread on the table, pouring water into stoneware mugs. She was much more aware of Daniel when he sat next to her; as it was only Anteni and Krisno in the kosk the table was meant for two, not the four that were now pressed in around it.

Warm from the stove, full from dinner, pleased and a little tired from the long day they had put in, Sam slumped back in her chair, listening as Daniel and Krisno discussed what they had found in the cavern. She smiled as she watched Daniel talking, his face alight with discovery, his long fingers gesturing for emphasis.

Feeling eyes on her, Sam glanced over to see Anteni watching her, a knowing look in his eyes. She blushed, shifting in her seat before grabbing her empty bowl and jumping to her feet.

"Are we done?" Daniel asked, gathering up his bowl and mug.

"We'll clean up later," Krisno assured him. "You both must be wanting your bed."

Hefting her pack, mildly surprised at how heavy it had become in just the twenty minutes they had been at dinner, Sam followed Krisno and Anteni with Daniel by her side. The guest kosk was a few hundred years down the wide road; there were a number of couples out walking in the mild night, Krisno and Anteni greeted many but did not stop to introduce any of them to Sam and Daniel.

"Here is where you will be staying," Anteni said, indicating a neat little kosk close to the road with a small garden in front. "Please treat it as your own while you are here. It does not have much of a kitchen, but as you will be taking your meals with us—"

"There is a fireplace with a kettle to boil water, if you need," Krisno added. "We'll be back three hours after sunup, but if there is anything else you need, please come find us."

"Thank you," Daniel replied with a small bow of his head, very reminiscent of Teal'c Sam thought with an inward smile.

Bowing back, Kirsno and Anteni left them, and Sam and Daniel walked up the short path to enter the kosk. Inside was a cozy room-- the fireplace on one side with a small table for eating, and a group of chairs and a low table on the other side. There were two doors in the far wall, Daniel went to one and Sam the other. She stopped short however, as the room was a miniscule bathroom. Puzzled, she walked over to the room Daniel was in and stood in the doorway.

"What?" he asked, seeing her there.

"Is this the only bedroom?" Sam eyed the double bed. They weren't going to have to sleep together, were they? Holy Hannah… She felt giddy.

Daniel blinked, looking around the room, really seeing it for the first time. "Umm… oh boy." He grimaced slightly, running a hand through his hair.


"Remember the briefing on the Bellotains? Their social structure?"

"Yeah." Sam looked at him, puzzled. "They're always a part of a pair. Friendships when they're young, relationships when they're older."

"They must think we're paired," Daniel explained, a hot flush coming from nowhere and running through him before settling in his groin.

"You're kidding me," Sam blurted out. "Just because they are doesn't we would be. Can't we… I mean…"

Daniel shrugged. "When in Rome." Guilt over using the Bellotain culture to get Sam into his bed, however platonically, warred with the mind dizzying thrill of having her in his bed. He turned away, unable to face Sam as his blood pounded in is ears. Hearing her come into the room, Daniel busied himself with getting ready for bed, shying away from examining where the hell these feelings came from and why they were surfacing now, of all times. Time seemed to stretch on forever as they both readied for bed.

The mattress creaked slightly as Sam climbed in; in his mind's eye Daniel could see her long legs sliding between the sheets and he forcibly made himself begin to conjugate verbs in Aramaic, a language he never liked very much.

"Night Daniel." Sam's voice was soft with sleep, and Daniel bit back a groan, benign verbs such as read and write replaced by salacious ones like kiss and touch and lick and fuck-- Still in his T shirt and shorts he turned off the light and pulled the blanket over himself, lying rigid in the bed next to Sam.

Sam. Friend. Teammate. Scientist. Good friend. Very good friend. Daniel tried to compartmentalize her, tried to think of her as Sam, same old Sam, but the careful wall he had built around himself when Sha're was taken, and reinforced when she died was developing some serious cracks. That is…

Closing his eyes, Daniel figuratively smacked himself upside the head and admitted that Sam, so gradually he hadn't even noticed, without her even trying, had been wearing down his defenses. Admitting what he had been denying for years was a palpable relief, and he turned his head to look at her silhouette in the near dark, wondering if she was asleep. And what if she wasn't? What would he do? Blurt out a "Sam, I love you"?

Daniel looked back up at the ceiling. She'd laugh. No, she wouldn't laugh, but she wouldn't believe him. What reason had he ever given her for thinking she meant more to him than a friend, a fellow teammate? None.

But it was worth a shot, when they got back, to see if maybe she might possibly perhaps--

Resigning himself to a long mission, Daniel closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

Tapping away at her keyboard in the cavern, Sam pressed Enter to run the program and leaned back, watching the data stream by. Or pretending to watch the data stream by. Instead she took one of the few moments per day she allowed herself to watch Daniel while he was too absorbed in his work to notice.

It had been three days—and two nights—since they had to first share a bed. Every night Sam had lain there, listening to Daniel breathing, aware of near every movement he made through the dark hours. A few times she had woken during the night to find herself possessively draped across Daniel, one arm over his chest, a leg over one of his. Each time, Sam slowly, regretfully, eased herself off, gently rolling back to her side of the bed as not to wake him. Once, which she promised herself she would never forget, she woke to find Daniel holding her, nuzzling her shoulder in his sleep before settling down. With a little thrill of joy Sam realized there wasn't any way to get him back to his side without waking and embarrassing him, so she quite happily sank into his arms and went back to sleep. In the morning he was back on his side, and seemingly reluctant to meet her eyes. With a sigh Sam realized he had probably been dreaming of Sha're, and acted like she never knew what had happened.

The futility of loving Daniel made Sam restless, and a quick check on the test showed her it was only one quarter the way through, so she decided to stretch her legs.

"I'm going to take a walk," she announced; a hand wave from Daniel was enough to set her on her way. Walking though the cave and out large Records Building doors, Sam realized that she and Daniel hadn't seen much of the planet proper; most of their time was either in the cavern or at their kosk.

She wandered the streets, nodding in greeting to the Bellotains who nodded back, but with a definite uneasy look to their expression. Not worried enough about it to make her go back, Sam continued on her way until she reached the center of the large town where market stalls had been set up in the courtyard.

By now Sam was hot and thirsty; asking directions from one of the vendors she was directed to the nearest tavern. It was cool and quiet in the shop after the bustle of the market and Sam was glad for the reprieve.

"What can we get you?" a deep voice asked. A tall man walked up to Sam, his wife at his side. "You're one of the off worlders who came through the Calmak, aren't you?" she said. "Where is your other, Daniel Jackson?"

"He's working back at the cavern," Sam said. "I had some free time so I thought I would look around the town. It's a very nice place. I'd just like some water, thank you."

"Hmm," replied the woman, bringing a glass to Sam, her mouth set in a thin line. She glanced quickly over into a darkened corner of the tavern; following her eyes Sam saw a man sitting a small table. Sam wondered why he would cause the proprietress such distress, then realized he was alone.

Strange, Sam thought, making a note to ask Daniel about it. She sipped at her water, thinking to enjoy her time away from work, but after a while she began to feel slightly uneasy. It wasn't anything blatant; it was more the way people looked at her, the mood of the patrons in the tavern.

Leaving her half full glass, Sam found the thin man standing in the patio facing the courtyard. "I'm sorry, I don't have any money to pay you for the water. I can come back this evening though."

The man stared at her for a moment, then shrugged. "It was only water, but if you feel you must then you certainly can."

Sam smiled, slightly put off, and made her way back through the town to the cavern. She wasn't sure if it was the mood of the tavern still clinging to her, or what, but the Bellotains she met on the return trip seemed more… menacing than the those she saw earlier. With a small sense of relief Sam entered the Records Building and made her way to the cavern.

Daniel, Anteni, and Kirsno were in the same position she had left them in, and her test was eighty-nine percent completed. Sitting down, Sam wondered about her experience in town. Back in the familiar confines of the cavern her feelings of persecution seemed fanciful, and Sam was tempted to brush them off but the Air Force didn't raise a fool so she filed it away to talk it over with Daniel later.

Her laptop beeped and Sam got wrapped up in the results of her test, not looking up from the screen until Daniel tapped her on the shoulder.

"Time to wrap it up, Sam."

"Already?" She looked at her watch. "But we have—"

"Since it's our last night here, Krisno and Anteni want to take us out to dinner and show us around the town," Daniel said as he helped her unplug the laptop and pack it away.

Her misgivings about that afternoon came back to Sam, but she decided to hold her tongue and see if the situation repeated itself. After dropping their packs off at the kosk, Sam and Daniel joined Anteni and Krisno on the walk into town.

"I came this way earlier today," Sam said, recognizing some familiar buildings. "I made it to the market and stopped at a tavern with a tall man…"

"Docado," Anteni said, supplying the man's name. "He sets a good table, along with his mate Leena, we can stop there to eat if you'd like."

Hesitating, Sam then nodded, curious to see what kind of reception she would get when Daniel was with her. The looks she got from the general populace certainly were different, Sam decided, more open and friendly.

They foursome was greeted warmly by Docado, and placed at a table in a quiet part of the tavern. Leena came out of the kitchen beaming at them, and Sam had to fight not to roll her eyes at the about face she was getting from the couple. Glancing around the tavern so she wouldn't have to make eye contact with the woman, Sam saw the lone man from that afternoon over in the same corner. It was obvious he was being shunned; no one ever came near him though every so often he would go back into the kitchen and return with a full mug or a small plate of food. Sam was itching to ask about him, but from the way the man was being treated, and herself earlier in the day, being alone, she was reluctant to bring it up to Anteni and Krisno. Maybe Daniel would know, she thought.

Her chance came later in the meal when Anteni and Krisno excused themselves, needing to talk to a couple that just came in the tavern. Not sure how to bring up the subject, Sam fiddled with her spoon. "Daniel…"

"Hmm?" Looking up from the depths of his mug, Daniel focused on Sam. "What is it?"

"You see that guy sitting over in the corner?" To his credit, Sam thought approvingly, Daniel didn't openly stare but scanned the room like a seasoned spy, passing over the man with no apparent interest.

Picking up a stalk of a local vegetable, Daniel said "I saw him when we came in. He's alone, but everyone is supposed to have a partner," before he bit into it with a crunch.

"They're rather rude to him. And when I went out this afternoon they treated me much the same way. Like a—pariah." Sam hunched in on herself somewhat, missing the way Daniel stiffened at the news.

Daniel sighed. "He's different. As you were. Anyone outside the norm is shunned."

Anything else they were going to say was cut off as Anteni and Krisno returned. Leena came back to fill their mugs, and talk turned to different cultures SG-1 had encountered in their travels. Sam had just teased Daniel about how he thought they were all very special, when a huge yawn split her face.

"I'm so sorry", she mumbled around her hand, trying to close her mouth. As if on cue, Daniel yawned also.

"It's quite alright," Anteni reassured them, standing up with Krisno. "We've all worked very hard the past few days and I believe it's caught up with us."

Sam struggled to her feet, the chair scraping back against the stone floor. Something must have caught up with her as she was bone tired. Daniel looked exhausted too, together they slowly made their way back to their kosk, the walk punctuated by yawns.

Forgoing brushing her teeth, Sam dropped her BDUs in a trail to the bed, leaving them where they lay. Crawling into bed managed a "Night, Daniel," but a snore was her only answer.

"Daniel! Daniel!"

Waking with a start, Daniel blinked in the bright light, trying to get his muddled brain to work. He groped for his glasses, putting them on to see Anteni and Krisno standing over him, a concerned look on both their faces.

"What?" he croaked.

"When you and Samantha did not appear for breakfast, we grew anxious and came over to see what the matter was," Krisno answered. "There was no answer when we knocked, and we had a difficult time waking you. We were about to call the doctor. Are you all right?"

Daniel thought for a moment, taking inventory. Or he tried to think. It was hard to put two thoughts together, his head felt full of cotton wool, along with his mouth. Cleaving his tongue from his palate, Daniel managed to say "Water, please." He gratefully downed the mug Anteni brought him, along with the second. "Head's muzzy, mouth's dry."

Anteni gently reached out and felt Daniel's forehead and cheeks. "You're not running a fever, how does your stomach feel? Are you achy?"

Carefully Daniel shook his head no. "Stomach's fine. How's Sam?" He missed the glance Anteni and Krisno shared.

"She wasn't here when we arrived. Do you suppose she went on ahead?"

Sam wasn't here? Staying calm, Daniel gently shook his head. "She wouldn't leave without telling me. Even just to take a walk." Now his stomach did hurt, a sick hollow feeling. She wouldn't have left on her own. Which meant… Reaching out to grasp Krisno's arm, Daniel gingerly got to his feet. "What time will Jack be here?"

"In a few hours. Do you think something has happened to Samantha?"

"Since we were both here, she wouldn't have left without telling me. If she did, I'm going kick her ass," Daniel added peevishly, trying not to show his concern. "Let's check around and see if anyone has seen her." Getting dressed took longer than Daniel would have liked, with every movement his head throbbed. Finally though they were out the door, Anteni and Krisnos leading him to the municipal center.

"We need to tell Kentif Marind and Kentif Pafir about this," Krisno told him. "They will be able to form search parties that will find Samantha much quicker than we alone would."

"I just hope she's not in the cavern," Daniel said, pushing himself to keep up with the pair.

Not breaking stride, Anteni called out to two adolescent girls who were walking nearby. "Reolna, Cantan, go to the Kahrestin Cavern and see if Daniel's mate is there. Run back to the Municipal Center and tell us if she is or not." Catching the urgency in his words, the pair nodded solemnly, eyes wide, and took off toward the Records Building, feet flying.

Marind and Pafir were in a meeting, but Anteni and Krisno made their secretaries pull them out. "You say Samantha wouldn't have left without telling you where she was going?" Marind asked Daniel, worry creasing his forehead.

"No. That's one of the regulations."

Parfir moved over to Daniel's side. "And you are unwell, aren't you?" Easing Daniel back into a chair, she too felt his cheeks. "When did this come on?"

"Sam and I felt tired after dinner, went straight to bed—sleep, I mean," his guilty libido tried to backtrack. "Antnei and Krisno had to wake me up. Can't think straight." Except to know Sam's missing and that's why I can't think straight.

"Get him to Negry and Ferent," Marind said over Daniel's protests. "Find out what he was given." Pausing, Marind knelt down so they were eye to eye. "I understand your need to find her, Daniel," he said softly. "However you are no shape to search for Samantha. I believe you have been drugged, and someone has taken her."

Daniel struggled to his feet, not willing to sit around now that his fear was out in the open.

"Daniel!" Parfir called out to him. "You will injure yourself further. Go see Negry and Ferent, let them help you. We will keep you informed of our progress."

Listening to the meaning behind the words, Daniel narrowed his eyes as he looked from Marind to Parfir. "You know something. What?"

"I will tell you at Negry and Ferent's," Parfir assured him. "Marind will stay here to direct the search." Anteni and Krisno took a hissing breath in surprise, but Daniel didn't notice as Parfir turned back to Marind, the leaders conferring as Daniel grew more and more irritated. Past missions gone wrong magnified and combined in his mind to one horrific torture session with Sam in the middle of it.

Daniel closed his eyes, breathing deeply. Letting his imagination run wild was not going to help get Sam back in any way. A light touch on his arm made him opened his eyes to see Parfir before him, sympathy clear on her face. Daniel had to bite back a cutting remark, knowing that while these people may have concealed information that got Sam kidnapped, they also were the ones that had the best chance of finding her.

So feeling rather impotent, Daniel followed Parfir, Anteni, and Krisno to Negry and Ferent's office. Silently he sat, passively allowing himself to be poked and prodded and have blood drawn, answering each question put to him in monosyllabic words.

"Berberi poisoning," Ferent finally proclaimed. The bald doctor with a bushy red beard seemed almost pleased with the diagnosis, while Negry, a spectacled lady with long black hair tutted in the background.

"Why anyone would go and eat Berberi root is beyond me," she sighed, opening a cabinet and peering at bottles inside. She shot Parfit a worried glance, then looked quickly away.

"He didn't," Parfir sighed back, ignoring the implied question left hanging in the air, realizing she had said too much.

Shoulders slumped, eyes on the floor, Daniel noticed Parfir's foot was tapping on the floor. Not and gentle passing the time tap, but a near staccato, burning nervous energy tap. Then it came to him that while she was here, Marind was still at the Municipal Center. "Is it fatal?" he asked, thinking about Sam and wondering how soon they had to get to her.

"Not at your dose," Negry answered, pulling a bottle from the cabinet and pulling the stopper. She dipped a pipette in, drawing out a measure of clear green liquid which she filled a small cup with. "Drink this."

With a jaundiced eye Daniel contemplated the medicine, then tossed it down in one gulp. It hit the back of his throat, an icy tingly following the liquid until it reached his stomach in a short, cool blossom of pain.

"You'll feel better in a few hours," Ferent cheerfully exclaimed, and Daniel wondered if doctors the universe over were all cut from the same jovial cloth. God, he hoped not. "Umm…" Something Ferent said tugged at his memory. "A few hours? No, I can't wait that long. I need to look for Sam now."

"If you go haring about looking for her you'll take twice as long to heal while delaying the search parties twice as long too." Negry was insistent as she put the instruments away. "You can stay here in one of the rooms while you recover."

Realizing they were right didn't make it any easier for Daniel to capitulate, thoughts of how he should be out there, how much he wanted to be out there kept running through his head. But he did, and let himself be put to bed in an orderly room on the second floor of Ferent and Negry's little hospital. "Parfir," Daniel called out to her as she was about to leave him with Anteni and Krisno. "You were going to tell me something?"

Pausing, Parfir nodded and came back into the room, firmly closing the door behind her. "No civilization is perfect, Daniel, as I'm sure you're well aware of from your travels. Ours is no different. In general, we are a peaceful, moderate people."

Pressing her lips together, Parfir sat on a chair set by the window. Daniel wondered where this was going, not sure how much of Parfir's anxiety was from what she was about to share with him or from being so away from Marind for so long. Frankly, Daniel was beginning not to care, his normal sympathetic self being supplanted by a focused concern to get Sam back.

"As you know, our social structure is made up of pairs. From cradle to grave we are not far from another. We live, breath, and eat as one. However, there are some, a very few," she hastened to add, "that do not form this bond, either from choice or unhappy serendipity. Many consider them abnormal, and scorn them for being less a person."

Daniel nodded, understanding now why Sam was treated like she was, and also the behavior of the man in the tavern.

"We have tried to combat this way of thinking," Parfir continued," but it is so ingrained, we feel so incomplete without our mate that to see someone without one, especially choosing to be without one is incomprehensible to most Bellotains. These Loners have formed their own community, living separate from us, but there are some that feel they shouldn't have to live apart, and perhaps they are right, but they are vocal in their beliefs and have caused much civil unrest."

Daniel looked at a distressed Parfir. "And you think these people took Sam? Why? To make you accept them?"

Parfir shrugged, spreading her hands wide. "I do not know. In all likelihood, though, yes. To expose to others with shortcomings of our society."

The room was silent after her confession; Daniel leaned back against the pillows and thought over what she had said. "These 'singles' that want to be accepted… is one of them related to Docado or Leena?"

"Yes, Gerind is Leena's brother." Parfir leaned forward as she realized what Daniel was getting at. "You dined at Docado's tavern last night, right before you took ill. Gerind could have had something to do with it. I must inform Marind." Jumping up, she ran to the door. "We'll let you know anything that we find, Daniel." With that parting shot, she was gone.

Suddenly tired, Daniel could only watch her go.

Consciousness slowly returned to Sam, at first making her believe she was still in bed, then slightly more to make he wonder how the bed had become so hard, then enough to make her realize she wasn't in the bed in the kosk and her head felt ten pounds too heavy and her mouth feel like the Sahara.

Years of training kicked in and she gradually opened her eyes to find herself in a pile of what looked like hay, two hoofed legs near her head. Not wanting to get trampled, Sam slowly looked around and discovered the hay and the animal was in a narrow stall, which seemed to be in a small shed type building.

"Good, you're awake."

Sam froze as the animal shifted at the sound of the strange voice. She heard movement, then an outstretched hand appeared in her line of vision. Grabbing it, Sam was lifted to her feet to come face to face with her captor.

"You were at the tavern," she blurted out. "What'd you do with Daniel?"

Gerind smiled. "Observant, aren't you? This way. Hungry?" He turned to leave the stall and Sam lunged at him, arm up to strike him across the back of the neck, but instead she stumbled, her body not in tune with what her mind wanted it to do.

"Whoa, easy. No sudden movements for awhile. For a few reasons." Gerind looked Sam in the eye and she got his double meaning. Slowly they made their way outside the shed and to a moderate sized kosk nearby.

Sam stopped short in the doorway as the six people sitting around a large table turned to look at her. Gerind pulled out a chair and sat down, indicating another empty one for Sam to take. She cautiously did, evaluating everyone at the table in regards to a potential threat. With a frown she recognized one of them as Grisbab, from the crowd at the Records Building.

"Ok, let's get this over with," she said. "Who are you and why am I here?"

"We want you to arrange to take us to another planet through the Calmak," Gerind stated baldly. The other Bellotains around the table nodded in agreement.

Sam just stared at them, not sure with her muddled head that she had heard correctly. "You want to leave? Why?"

"The Joined have made it unbearable for us Loners," Grisbab said, slapping his palm down on the table with a sharp crack. Sam winced and closed her eyes, wondering about Daniel.

Opening her eyes, Sam looked steadily at Gerind. "Where's Daniel?"

He sighed. "He is most likely with Anteni and Krisno, looking for you."

"What did you do to us?"

"You'll live," one of the women told Sam. "Will you take us to another planet?"

Sam closed her eyes again, rubbing her temples. "I could really use something to drink." A large mug of water was placed before her, and she drank deeply, stalling for time, before speaking again. "I don't even know where to begin. One, we don't have a planet just waiting for someone to move in. Two, kidnapping me isn't going to make my government more receptive to your wants. We don't deal with terrorist, which is what you've made yourselves. Three, why didn't you just ask your government if you could go?" Sam cut Grisbab off as he was about to speak. "If they've made it unbearable for you, you've probably made it unbearable for them, and they'd probably jump at the chance to get rid of you. I know I would," she added in a mutter, trying to stay focused, but it was getting hard and why were there two mugs in front of her? And where was Daniel? Why hadn't he found her yet? Was he really still with Anteni and Krisno? What if these guys had him stashed away somewhere as a backup plan?

"You don't know them—" Grisbab began.

"Of course I don't!" Sam snapped back. "I just got here. But I do know that threats are never the way to get what you want. You want out of here, you go through the proper channels and you ask for help, you don't do something stupid like kidnap someone, especially an officer in another planet's military. Holy Hannah, my head hurts…" Stumbling to her feet, Sam lurched backward. "I need t'find Dan'l." She frowned, wondering why it was so hard to speak. "Wha'd you do withim?"

The ground came rushing up to meet her, and only one of the Loners jumping up to catch her prevented Sam from cracking her head on the stone floor.

"How much did you give her?" The voices were faint, as if they came from down a long tunnel.

"The same as her Daniel, and Trasta says he's recovering well enough." Hearing this, Sam felt a one of the knots in her stomach relax, but she still didn't know if these people had Daniel or if he was free.

"Well, either it was too much or she's having a strange reaction to it." Something poked and prodded at Sam and she tried to bat it away. All she wanted to do was get rid of this horrendous headache and go to sleep, preferably with Daniel wrapped around her, nuzzling her shoulder again, telling her how much he loved her

"What in Miecha's name is she saying?"

"I think she's just babbling." Hands lifted Sam and she groaned at the acceleration, her body moving one way but her head another.

"She's not going to be sick is she?" Grisbab derided, and Sam longed to smack him as he had the table.

"Go easy on her, it's not her fault she's having an adverse reaction to the Berberi root." More movement, some thumping, then Sam was laid in a bed, cool sheets surrounding and supporting her. She groaned again, but this time in relief.

"She's burning up. Give her an infusion of Drendro leaves. Grandma—"

"Sharti, did I eve mention how tired I'm getting of your Granma's wisdom? She's the one who said how much Berberi root to give them! Go tell your Granma to eat a hafai." A shocked gasp and a tattoo of fading footsteps followed this tirade, and Sam giggled at the absurdity of it all. She had been kidnapped by some of the best in her travels through the Gate, and these guys were by far some of the more inept.

However amusing they were, this was getting ridiculous and all Sam wanted to do was get home so Janet could fix her. She reached out blindly and managed to snag someone's sleeve. "Just take me back," Sam managed to get out. "If they have to come find me it'll go worse."

A hand disentangled Sam's fingers from the fabric. "We've come too far, Samantha," Gerind said gently. "There is no going back."

"Well Daniel this is another fine mess you've gotten yourself into," Jack said, looking around the room before sitting down on the bed next to Daniel. He bounced a few times, testing the springs as Teal'c came in, and suddenly the room seemed much smaller.

"Jack, please don't." Standing up, Daniel checked himself as he started to pace. For one thing he didn't want Jack or Teal'c to know exactly how worried he was for Sam, and the other was that there just wasn't enough space with both Jack and Teal'c in the room. "What exactly are we doing? Anything?"

Jack glanced over at Teal'c who raised an eyebrow. "I've talked with Marind, and gotten the intel on these 'Loner' people," Jack said, all business. "Hammond sent a few more SG teams through with us and they're scouting the area. As soon as they figure out what's up they'll radio us and we'll rendezvous."

Daniel rocked back on his heels before blurting "I just feel like I should be doing something", then bolted out of the room, his boots clattering on the steps, flying past a startled Janet.

The front door flew back on its hinges as Daniel erupted from the small hospital; pausing in the front yard he thrust his hands through his hair, pulling on the short strands painfully before releasing them and taking a few deep breaths.

"I feel so ineffectual," he said to Jack, who along with Teal'c had come up behind him. "Anteni and Krisno told me more about these Loners after Parfit had left; apparently they've stepped up the violence in recent years. We met one of them," he added almost offhandedly, talking seemed to calm him down, so he continued. "We were going back to the cavern after seeing you off. One of them demanded information about the Gate." He grew still, thinking over what little he knew of the Loners. "I wonder—"

Teal'c came to face him. "Have you discovered why the Loners have abducted Major Carter, Daniel Jackson?"

Blinking rapidly, Daniel focused to look at Teal'c. "If you were part of a society that didn't want you, and suddenly a way to remove yourself, totally remove yourself, from that society appeared, what would you do?"

"I'd take it right after giving them a goodbye they'd never forget," Jack said.

"What if they want to go through the Gate? What if they want to find a new place to live?" Daniel spun toward Jack, his face eager for him to understand.

"And they took Cater to make sure they were able to. Well, that ain't gonna happen."

"Jack, yes, what they did was wrong." Daniel couldn't believe the words that were coming out of his mouth. How could he be defending these terrorist who took Sam and drugged her? But even if they had part of him still wanted peace between the Loners and the rest of the Bellotains. "Let's go to Marind and Parfir and see what we can do. If we can negotiate maybe we can get Sam back without any bloodshed on either side."

Sighing, Jack stared at Daniel. "One chance at negations, Daniel. One." He held up a finger to emphasize the point.

Nodding, Daniel went to find Marind and Parfir.

"Impossible! Out of the question!" Bennir shouted, his face red. He and Kayebin had been with Marind and Parfir when Daniel ran them to ground and explained his theory. "Let those thugs off free and clear? Never!"

Daniel waited patiently, letting Bennir's rage spend itself before speaking to Marind and Parfir. "I know it's easier to want revenge than to let them go, but in all likelihood they don't want to be here. They see a chance to go somewhere and start anew."

Marind and Parfir sat silently a moment, then looked at each other before turning to Daniel. "You do not know this for certain though, do you?" Parfir asked him.

"No, I don't," Daniel admitted.

"It does, however, make the most sense," Kaybin said. "If they do want this, what do you propose doing about it?"

"If they truly want to go, we should reach out to the other towns and see if any of their Loners want to go." Marind paused as Parfir reached out to grasp his hand. "I have no argument with them going." He continued, ignoring Bennir's incredulous look. "However, as reparations for the acts of terror they have committed they must go with only what they can carry on their backs. If they want a new start it must be completely new."

Realizing that this was all the concession he was going to receive, Daniel nodded. "Do you have any idea where they could be holding Sam?"

"The SG teams are out looking, Daniel." Daniel felt Jack's hand on his shoulder, and he knew he had to be happy with that also. "We'll let you know if we hear anything," Jack said to Marind and Parfir, leading Daniel away to the office the SG teams had been given.

The hours passed, and at first Daniel had tried to absorb himself in the Ancient writing from the cavern while Jack and Teal'c went in and out, but even that intriguing puzzle couldn't keep his focus. He ended up pacing the room, then pacing the hallway, his imagination running wild with horrific things Sam could be suffering. Finding himself clenching the hand that Sam had held mere days ago, Daniel fell against the wall and slid to the floor, wondering what kind of person he had turned into that he could have such hatred toward her kidnappers that normally he only felt for the Goa'uld. A small part of him wondered how he couldn't; they kidnapped Sam, for God's sake.

Thankfully, before Daniel could tear himself apart with the dichotomy of his mindset, Teal'c came striding down the hallway.

"SG-8 believes they have found Major Carter, Daniel Jackson."

Daniel bounded to his feet, running past Teal'c to find Jack in the office, tightening his flak vest. "Get dressed," he said, tossing Daniel his own vest. Daniel scrambled into it and clipped on his P90.

"They're at a small farm owned by a guy named Welslo. He's the uncle of a guy named Docado—"

"--who's married to Leena who is the sister of Gerind, who's a Loner," Daniel finished.

"Apparently he's the leader for this area," Jack supplied. "It's just a few clicks southwest of town."

They couldn't get there fast enough for Daniel, who grew impatient at the steady pace and studiously ignored the searching glances Jack threw his way. Finally they reached the outskirts of the farm, meeting up with SG-8 who had taken position in a stand of hardwood trees. A small shed and a three story kosk were in clear view.

"Colonel, Teal'c, Doctor," Major Desmond greeted them quietly. "A sentry comes by every forty five minutes but we've evaded him so far. He should be by in another thirty. Infrared scans show a total of seven people milling about on the main floor, and one person lying down in a room on the second floor. Every so often one or two will go visit them, but the one lying down never moves."

"Sam?" Daniel whispered, wondering if it was her, why she never moved? Was she was injured or tied down?

Desmond shrugged. "Not sure, sir. It could be. We haven't heard anything from the kosk or the shed."

"Ok," Jack said, eyes flicking from the infrared readout to the kosk and back. Got a plan for going in?"

"Yessir," Desmond grinned. Daniel listened with half an ear as the major and Jack hashed out the plan. He stared at the prone figure on the infrared screen, praying that if it was Sam she was ok.

"Daniel." A nudge from Jack brought him back to the here and now. "Me, Teal'c, and 8 are going in. You stay here with 11 and don't get shot. Got it?

"Got it." Knowing Jack was right in having him stay back didn't temper Daniel's frustration any. He commandeered the screen, watching the red and orange SG soldiers steal toward the kosk and surround it.

Just as they prepared to enter the kosk Daniel saw the figure on the second floor get up. It was hard to tell, what with it being a heat signature, but it seemed to him it wasn't too steady on its feet.

Then all hell broke loose as the kosk was invaded, shouts and screams and gunfire ringing through the air. Daniel caught his breath as on the main floor one far figure broke away and ran up the stairs. Unable to hold back any longer he made a break for the kosk. He stopped briefly in the doorway as three P90s swung his way, then ran on through the kitchen as they SG members let him pass.

Time seemed to stretch on forever as Daniel searched for the stairs, his heart pounding in his ears and making it hard for him to listen for Sam. Spying the flight of steps he took them two at a time, but just as he reached the top a shot echoed in the hallway stopped him cold. Some part of his brain recognized it wasn't a P90, nor was it any of the other handguns the SG teams carried.

Bringing his gun up and tucking it against his shoulder Daniel slowly advanced down the hall, mentally adjusting the infrared screen to match the view point of where he was now. It should be the third door on the right…

From that doorway a grubby figure in boxer shorts and a black tank top staggered out backward, holding something in its hand which it threw back into the room. It thrust a stand of short blond hair behind its ear before turning into the hall.

"Sam?" Relief that she was alive flooded through Daniel, relaxing tense muscles so much he thought his knees would buckle.

Startled, Sam stopped and swayed slightly as she regained her balance. "Daniel?" She took a few unsteady steps toward him. "They got you too? We have to get out of here, it isn't safe, I bonked one guy on the head but there are others they want to leave the planet—"

"Whoa!" Letting his P90 hang from the harness, Daniel grabbed Sam by the arms. "Jack and Teal'c are here. It's ok."

"Ok? You're ok?"

Daniel nodded. "I'm ok."

"Thank God." Sam fell into his arms, holding him tight. "I was so worried."

Nonplussed, Daniel finally got a hold of himself to wrap his arms around her. He closed his eyes, letting himself enjoy having Sam in his arms like this. He could feel her body under the thin fabric, could feel her smooth skin over firm muscle and he hated himself for using her this way, but he couldn't stop himself, not when she had wound her arms around his neck and stretched up, pressing her body to his, laying her cheek to his.

"I was so worried," she repeated, her breath tickling his skin.

"Sam." Daniel opened his eyes to see a long, thin open wound on her shoulder and the fear was back in his gut. "You've been shot."

"Oh yeah. Ouch."

"She had an adverse reaction to the Berberi poison, but that's under control, we've cleaned her up and I've dressed the gunshot wound," Janet said, looking from Daniel to Jack to Teal'c then back to Daniel.

"I can hear you, you know!" Sam called out. She was in one of the rooms in the small Bellotain hospital where Negry and Ferent had assisted Janet in getting Sam back to health.

Obviously ignoring her, Janet continued. "I'm putting her on medical leave for a week, although there shouldn't be any problems. She knows what to look for with a relapse, which would be rare. I'm also putting you on leave," here she turned to Daniel, "for a few days. More of R&R, but you need take some personal time."

With this parting shot Janet left, and Sam wondered about that last comment. Why would Daniel need personal time? Did something happen during the rescue? She couldn't remember much, her head had been so fogged by the poison. Flashes of memory would come to her every so often, but nothing Sam could be sure of.

"Carter." Jack's voice made her glance up to see her team mates clustered around the bed. "Hammond's giving you and Daniel the option of staying here for your leave. Something about working on the cavern stuff as long as you didn't wear yourselves out. Seemed to think you'd like that better than hanging around Earth." Jack's opinion of that option was clear.

Sam's eyes had flown to Daniel when Jack said 'staying here for your leave'. Her heart may have been imagining it, but she thought he brighten somewhat at the option. Was it just the opportunity to keep studying the Ancient writing? She'd take that chance.

"That sounds like a good idea, sir."

"Yeah, sure," Daniel added. Sam noticed he quickly looked over at her before glancing away.

"All righty then. Same modus operendi. Check in one a day. If you start feeling off, call in sooner." Giving them a half salute, half wave, Jack sauntered off with Teal'c, back to the Gate and home.

Sam swung her legs over the side of the bed, slowly getting to her feet.

"Here." Daniel's arm slid across her waist, helping her up. "Can you walk ok?"

"Pretty much. I might need help getting down the stairs." Sam walked to the landing on her own, but took Daniel's arm as she descended. Once at the bottom though, she didn't relinquish it nor did he take it back. "I feel much better. Getting moving helped, I think."

"That's good," Daniel said mildly, and Sam wondered about the banal quality of his voice.

"Are you feeling ok?"

He nodded, and together they slowly walked through the town, more to be in each other's company than to take it easy on Sam.

"What's going to happen to the Loners?"

Sam listened as Daniel explained what Marind and Parfir had come up with, plus some specific punishment for those Loners who orchestrated the poisoning and kidnapping.

"I bet you'll be glad to get back to the cavern," she said, as they entered the kosk, trying to fill the strange silence that had grown between them.

"Tomorrow is soon enough."

Surprised, Sam let that comment go and sighed, looking at the bed through the doorway as Daniel moved into the bedroom. Chances are he wouldn't ask for another kosk as not to offend the natives. She didn't think she could sleep another night next to Daniel though. Working with him would be hard enough, but lying in bed every night for a week…

"Sam, kiss me."

Not sure she heard right, Sam raised her head to see Daniel standing there, staring at her. "I'm sorry, what?"

"Kiss me."

Sam looked around, wanting to be sure she wasn't having a relapse and imagining things. Everything seemed normal. One foot in front of the other Sam came to face to face with Daniel.

"Did you just ask me to kiss you?"

"I can't sleep with you another night, just lying next to each other. It's been a long time coming but I finally realized I love you. And if I didn't tell you I'd regret it for the rest of my life. If you don't feel the same I'll sleep on the floor if you want," he added with that crooked grin she adored.

Sam took a deep breath. "This isn't a Berberi induced haze?" A wide smile broke over her face. "You love me? And you want me to kiss you?"

"Yes, Sam." Daniel took her into his arms, and Sam melted into him, memory making her glad there wasn't a hard P90 between them. "How many times do I have to ask?"

"Once more," Sam whispered in his ear.

He stilled against her, then in a rough voice he pleaded, "Kiss me, Samantha." Turning her head Sam met his mouth with hers, warm and soft. She felt his tongue against her lips and opened to him, teasing with hers against his lower lip until with a groan Daniel crushed her to him, the kiss turning deeper and desire becoming tinged with lust.

Sam's hands clutched at Daniel's shirt, pulling it free of the waistband until she could get her hands up under the cotton. The feel of his skin against her hands made her moan and Sam wanted more. Fumbling around each other, Sam and Daniel managed to get both their shirts off and come back together in a sweet warm kiss of skin to skin.

"Sam," Daniel managed to get out, his hands skimming down over her back to cup her breasts, his thumbs brushing the hard tips.

She whimpered, her hands now tugging at his belt, and Sam tried to remember how these dammed things worked. About to find a knife and saw at the webbing, thankfully for Sam and her sanity the belt slipped free and she had Daniel's pants and boxers bunched down around his ankles.

"Holy Hannah." Sam reached out, delighting in the way his cock jumped against her hand. Lightly she pushed Daniel back toward the bed, where he fell back when he reached the edge. Slowly she teased him as she slipped off her shorts as he frantically tried to unlace his boots; she didn't let them drop to the floor until his boots, pants, and boxers were hurled against a far wall.

Sam ran her hands up his thighs, giving his cock a long swipe of her tongue and a quick kiss as she slid up his body, dropping kisses over his stomach and broad chest along the away.

Smirking slightly Sam was surprised when Daniel flipped them over, his lean body pinning hers to the bed. He kissed her then, not the light playful ones she had given him but strong nips that she was sure would leave bruises in her more tender areas. Over her shoulders and down her ribs Daniel explored her body, his fingers dancing over her skin like they had the Ancient carvings. They weren't delicate now though, his tough was firm, and Sam began to writhe under him, wanting more. "Daniel, please…"

The shock of his mouth closing over a nipple made her gasp and moan his name. His hand slid down her stomach to thread through the slick curls between her legs, teasing the nub hidden there.

Sam's nails raked across Daniel's back as she bit her lip, trying not to cry out as the waves of pleasure built up in her. A sob broke through though, and Daniel left her breast to lay his head against hers.

"Don't hold it in Sam," she heard him say through the roaring in her head. "I want to hear you." His fingers left their torment and Sam nearly did cry out in grief for their loss but in the same motion Daniel eased between her legs and slid into her, deep and strong.

"Oh God, Daniel!" Sam could do naught but clutch at him as Daniel moved within her, shifting his lean hips in long stroke. He called her name, love and longing in that one syllable, and Sam lost herself in his voice, her climax roiling through her as he soon followed, spilling deep within her with one last wrenching cry of her name.

Spent, Daniel lay on Sam, certain he was crushing her. But when he went o move off, she pulled him back, humming in what he could only assume was a delighted way. She ran the instep of her foot up his calf and curled one of her hands around the back of his head.

"Daniel," she whispered, and in that word held a future of promise.