Thanks to Jgroovydaisy!!

**********************

Conversation floated around the commissary in disjointed, half-absorbed phrases. Daniel absently slapped butter onto a hot, already dripping roll. The room seemed stuffy, that much he had noticed upon entering, but otherwise everything was as normal; the military fatigues and various uniforms of the SGC staff, the scuffed floor, even the table he frequented retained its slight wobble. The plates were plain, the food was fairly edible, and the napkins tore.

It was just another day here, just people going about doing their job. The lunch service people cooked the meals. The staff consumed it. They slept at night, woke in the day (or vice-versa), exercised, studied, showered, went through the gate. Oh yeah, they also decided the fate of other worlds. All in a day's work. As easy as brushing your teeth at night, knowing you had something to wake to in the morning.

The butter was running down Daniel's finger, but he continued to hold the roll without biting, ignoring the heat, examining the texture; the drips on the table, his oily fingers. He stared as though it were a meditation device, a way to find the answers to all of the problems in the universe so he wouldn't hold himself accountable for the actions of a command that was beyond his control. Hell, he hadn't even been to the planet yet and already the briefing had upset him. Maybe it was his expertise in cultural studies. Maybe he was extra-sensitive. Maybe he was simply a freak. Whatever the explanation, he was certain this assignment wasn't going to be easy, and he was even more certain the outcome wouldn't be in his favor.

"That roll's gonna melt before you eat it."

Daniel glanced up and met Sam's eyes. "Huh?" He blinked, and set the roll down onto his plate. "Oh." He wiped his hands on his pants absently before remembering his napkin.

Sam sat across from him and his untouched food. "I'm surprised to see you here. I thought you were holed up in your office preparing for the mission."

"Uh, yeah, I probably should be doing just that." Daniel leaned his chair back, delaying the inevitable. He thumped the legs back to the floor and pushed away from the table. "Oh, uh, are...are you hungry?" Hands gestured timidly at the mess on his plate.

Sam snorted. "I'll pass, thanks. I came down to check on you. You seemed . . . "she tossed her head slightly, unsure how to phrase her thought, "upset. At the briefing."

"Upset?"

"Okay. Pissed. Are you really that worried?" She winced as he gave her a pained look. "Right. Stupid question."

There were few people who could look into Sam's expressive eyes and not reveal their souls. Daniel liked to think himself immune to her charms, but he was in fact more susceptible than most. That, or he really, really needed someone to talk to. Before he realized it they were sitting in his office as he told her of his misgivings.

She listened with full attention, taking his words seriously. He hoped that years of working alongside him had shown that nine times out of ten his rants were worth hearing out, that he wasn't just some lunatic out to save the world and make himself a martyr. That tenth time, well, everyone was entitled to a bad day. She had seen his sacrifices first hand, she had seen him deny credit, or accept it then vanish into the woodwork. He knew it was natural curiosity and a sense of preservation that drove him, not tangible success, and he knew it drove his friends batshit crazy. He didn't set out to cause trouble, really. He just – had a nose for finding it. And his point of view was a good thing to have in cases where the team was perceived as nothing more than savages, or worse, gods. Right? Granted his morals had a tendency to get in the way at times, but he deserved to have them acknowledged.

And in this case, he was right. He knew he was. The statue they were supposed to steal, it meant too much to the people on Hian. The energy the material produced when it was broken down was immense, possibly more powerful than naquadah itself. Did their war mean so much that they had to go thieving for weapons? The material SG1 was asked to obtain had already started a civil war on that planet. After the truce, the material was melted down to create an immense statue; a warrior carrying a wounded man in his arms.

But the Goa'uld were coming. And the statue was the planet's only hope of defense.

"I don't know that I can explain it any better than that." Daniel's fingers were laced, and he studied each tip. "Something about this doesn't ring true. I can't believe there's not another alternative. I won't accept that. I won't. I haven't even seen these people. Hell, I may not like them and say screw their history, let's take the damn statue and go."

"And you've been known to do this, when?" Sam teased.

Daniel snorted. "Point taken. Still . . . I don't know. I'm not looking forward to this. We're talking about taking away their soul, essentially, if I read the report right. It would be like taking away the Statue of Liberty if Jesus had been crucified on it." He noted Sam's expression and held up his hand. "Yeah, I know, that's a strange example but it's legit. This is a symbol of their struggle, a symbol of where they are as a society, a religious icon. And we want it because the material is a rare and powerful source of energy. Great. Hooray for us." He picked up a folder and flipped through the pages it contained. "It's all in here. They have ceremonies to celebrate their status as enlightened beings, because they've learned to rise above the civil war which nearly destroyed them. To them, the statue is more than a symbol. It's like a god." He thumbed through the pages once more, then let the folder thump onto the table. "Of course if it came down to it I'm sure we'd give up the Statue of Liberty in a heartbeat if it meant saving the planet." He winced slightly, discomfited.

"Sounds tricky," Sam agreed.

"Tricky? Sam, this is impossible! How am I supposed to tell these people to give up their lives? I mean, we take this statue, and we steal their souls. They would be nothing. If we use that material to defend them against the Goa'uld, then what are we defending?" He shook his head. "What will be left?"

Sam took a deep breath, and asked, "What will be left if we allow the Goa'uld to find it?"

Daniel watched her then sighed. "I know. I know!" He banged his fist on the table. " I'm sorry. I shouldn't take this out on you. It's not like it's your fault or anything."

"No, it's not that. I just, I don't know, Daniel. You do have a way of making me question things sometimes."

"Is that good?" A slight smile tugged at his mouth.

Sam thought about it and laughed. "Yeah, I think it's good." She stood and walked over to him and touched his arm, all too aware of how he lowered his face to hers, listening to what she had to say. "Look, just try not to think too much, okay? We'll fix it. Get some rest."

Daniel smiled, his face inches from her own. Sam backed away, returning the smile, and made a hasty exit before she started to think too much herself.

******************

The team engaged in a short briefing before leaving through the Stargate. The briefing in itself was nothing spectacular, mainly a reaffirmation of the mission objective which left Jack cocky and Daniel tight-lipped. Sam was quiet. She noted an odd tension between the two men, and a glance at Teal'c showed he noticed the same. The chevrons locked in place, filling the room with a mechanical clang as the dial stopped then spun once again. She waited for the flush, as the ever-cracking Colonel liked to call it. It leapt out at her with an aggressive force then stabilized as she followed the others up the ramp, and onto another world.

"Well, this is a nice change." O'Neill's comment could be taken for sarcasm, or actual honesty. She wasn't sure. What she was sure about, was that she had rarely seen such a bleak landscape in all her travels. It definitely was a change from the green leafy environments they usually found themselves in. Rocks and boulders formed a tricky, foreboding terrain full of greys and dismal browns.

"How depressing." Sam squinted and pulled her sunglasses from her vest pocket, seeing the others do the same. The harsh glare of the sun was subdued, but the landscape didn't look any better. She felt Daniel's presence beside her and ventured a look at the young man, but his expression was hidden by the clip-ons he had fastened over his reading glasses. His jaw jutted, however, and she wondered if he was reassessing the situation in his head. Teal'c still held his weapon level although there was no visible threat. Of course, that meant nothing. O'Neill signaled for them to move out and they started the trek across the tilted ground.

She lost count of how many times she nearly wrenched her ankle. Several times Daniel was there to steady her, several times she caught herself, once she fell, and once she saw Daniel go down with a pitiful yelp as he landed hard on a jagged point. While she and Teal'c raised him to his feet, she noticed Jack looking on with an air of disinterest that bothered her, until she realized that he didn't walk away but waited until Daniel was able to start off again. This relieved her somewhat; whatever strife there was between the two either hadn't surfaced, or wasn't enough to worry about. She winced at the thought, wondering what it was that made her question his concern. He didn't walk away, but he didn't help either, and complained that they were running out of daylight. The sun was starting to sink when they managed to climb a high embankment and found a seemingly misplaced city.

The white stone buildings rose high above a zen-like rock garden. Fountains and pools lined the narrow paths, teasing the walkways before retreating to the borders that held back the short trees and shrubs, adding sparks of color where none was before. An azure lake surrounded the city like a moat. It was very tranquil, and very, very still.

Jack looked through his field glasses. He lowered them and jumped at the faint gasp at his shoulder. "What?" Sam heard the irritation in his voice.

"Oh, nothing really, just that really huge man looking at us. " Daniel pointed to the east corner of the city. Sam looked and gasped as well.

A large, four-story statue peered menacingly at them from over the rooftops of the easternmost building. It was bleached white like the structures around it, which allowed it to blend in at first, but woe be the visitor who suddenly found that he was being watched over the tops of the buildings by a silent, frowning giant. Its eyes were fixed accusingly over the distance, the mouth pulled into a tight grimace. All in all it was a startling, and frightening, sight.

"That's got to be the statue in the report," Daniel said absently.

Jack turned to him. "Did that report mention anywhere, anywhere, that we'd be kidnapping Godzilla?"

"Sir," Sam ventured, "exactly what was our plan?"

"At this point?" he asked. "Moot." He squared his shoulders. "All right. Let's go talk to these people, see what's got them so protective of this thing. Teal'c, I just want you to know that you'll be the one carrying this thing out. I'll be behind you all the way, offering verbal support."

Sam gave a half smile of amusement. Jack lowered his shades, and she followed him to the dwellings below.

***********************

The buildings towered around them as they cautiously entered the square. There was no one in sight. Sam fingered a piece of silk that hung from a rafter while Teal'c frowned and sniffed the air like a dog on a hunt. "I do not like this, O'Neill."

"What? You mean the total absence of anything living or dead? The fact that this place looks like life just suddenly stopped? Something along those lines, maybe?" Jack continued to circle round, trying to peer into high windows from ground level.

"No, not stopped, " Daniel said slowly, "just not here. Listen." He held up a hand, signaling for silence. In the distance a slight vibration was caught as it wavered in the air, then dipped to form low, melodious voices joined in song.

The team glanced at each other and followed the sound. It was coming from the east corner of the city. After nearly ten minutes of walking along deserted streets and hearing the voices rise and fall in volume, they rounded a corner and walked headlong into a large ceremony.

Jack quickly shoved Daniel behind a cart and pushed Sam into Teal'c. The Jaffa caught her and pulled her behind a fruit stand while Jack ducked down with Daniel. "My god," the young man breathed.

"I think you mean their god," Jack commented wryly as he watched the proceedings. He caught hold of the eager man as he leaned out to see the action. "Do you mind?"

"Sorry."

"I doubt that."

Daniel sent him a pained look then fixed his gaze firmly on the ceremony before him, studying the clothes, the people, the faces and chants, and most of all, the massive statue they had come to steal away. It loomed high over the people, staring out at the rocky landscape while the natives knelt at his enormous feet like colorful birds. Their clothing was extravagant, made of fine silks and linens and heavier cloths all dyed bright colors and woven in patterns that reminded Daniel of South America. Their hair was braided and piled high atop their heads. Gold bracelets dangled from tanned arms. Even the statue had long, stony braids roping down his shoulders. Daniel squinted upwards, trying to get a better look at his face but the sun blocked his view. He leaned out again, and was pulled back roughly. "What?" he asked in annoyance.

"Will you stop doing that?" Jack demanded.

"Stop what? We have to introduce ourselves some time."

"Oh, come on! Even I know not to interrupt a religious ceremony."

"I wasn't going to interrupt. I was going to get a better look."

"And what if a sacrifice is the order of the day, huh? Tell me, Daniel, do you really want to get that close?"

Daniel gritted his teeth, but of course Jack was right. Mentally he kicked himself for not thinking about the possibility and once again allowing his enthusiasm to take control of his senses. "Jack, look at these people. Do you think they're the sacrificing kind?"

"Oh, I don't know! Do you want to be the one to find out?" Jack hissed in response. He checked himself, going motionless as a young girl suddenly turned their way, then pulled Daniel further back into the shadows. "Look, I don't want to interrupt their little shindig until we know exactly who we are dealing with. Okay? Come on, you're acting like this is your first mission. You're not green."

"I just want this over with," Daniel muttered in distaste.

They had a long wait, crouched in their corners. The ceremony lasted until nightfall, filled with chants, prayer, offerings, more chants, then a flurry of activity as the inhabitants started to sway and dance. The air fattened with the sounds of jubilation, and the huge crowd pressed towards the water where they removed most of their clothing and doused themselves.

"Must be a ritual cleansing," Daniel mused, and shoved at the Colonel who had dozed off. He signaled at Sam and Teal'c, and they rose stiffly and crossed to join him. Jack was rubbing at his eyes and muttering something about the movie being over. Daniel gave him another shove, and this time his eyes flew open as he assessed the situation.

"Party's up?"

"Nah." Daniel nodded smugly towards the water. "It's just starting."

"You've gotta be kidding me." Jack rubbed at his eyes again and winced into the distance.

"Wouldn't mind jumping in there myself," Sam said as she watched the commotion at the water's edge. Daniel knew how she felt. His clothes had been sticking to him for the past two hours.

"I do believe now would be a good time to introduce ourselves," Teal'c added, looking as though he was about to launch towards the water himself.

"Right." O'Neill stood cautiously. "Maybe they'll be too drunk to slaughter us." He signaled for the others to follow.

"You enjoyed our ceremony then? Why did you not partake?" The huge voice echoed in the narrow passageway behind them.

"Jesus!" Jack spun around, his rifle aimed and ready, the others following suit.

Daniel, of course, stepped between them and the threat. "What are you doing?" he asked Jack incredulously. "Did you not just say we were going to meet these people?"

"Sure! Let me just find my heart my heart and put it back in my chest!" Jack lowered his weapon, but only a little, and addressed the newcomer. "I could have blown your head off! Is that the greeting you wanted?"

"You have the weapon. It is the greeting you wanted." The new arrival smiled and held his hands out graciously. "I am unarmed, as you see. You may set down your weapons, or hand them over, it is no matter to me." Jack turned, with Daniel following suit. Several large men with wooden staffs were poised behind them.

"Sounds like a matter." Jack raised his chin, and the team set their guns down on the ground. Daniel saw him tense as they were whisked away. "You know, I'd like to keep those, actually. . ."

"You will not need them here. They will be kept safe and returned to you upon your departure."

"That's great. Thanks." Jack gave a sarcastic smile. He gave Daniel a pointed look and gestured toward the man. "So. . .do your magic. Think we can get a meal around here?"

"A meal," Daniel muttered, "right." Leave it to Jack to think of his stomach. His own growled in response. He closed his eyes for a moment in embarrassment, then turned and smiled at the native before slowly approaching him. "I'm Daniel Jackson. This is Major Carter, Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c. You don't seem surprised to find us here, were you told we were coming?"

"Yes, but not when. I know your operatives have here on our planet. I know you have come for the statue."

"Operatives, uh. . ." Daniel looked at Jack, but the Colonel's face was closed. How many previous teams had been sent here? Jack's face was closed, sure, but that in itself spoke volumes. "Right." Daniel ventured a smile. "Sorry about that."

"Know now that your trip is wasted. We are not willing to part with it."

Of course not. He sent his team a perfectly silent told-you-so. "I'm – sorry to hear that." He paused. "I don't believe I caught your name."

"I never stated it."

Oh, boy. "Yes – that could be why I never caught it." Daniel ran his hand through his hair and tried again. "Look, do you mind if we went some place where we could talk about the statue? I realize this is a big decision for you. Do you have a council, or. . .or something? We could talk about this . . ."

"There is no decision to be made."

"Yeah, actually," Daniel lifted a finger as he felt his urgency climb, "do you know of the Goa'uld?"

"We do."

He blinked. "Really? Are you aware that they are coming here? Now?"

"That does not concern us."

"Oh. . .it should." He looked around. "It really should."

The man waved him down. "You are welcome to join us in our celebration of Hantanya."

Daniel floundered. It wasn't a time for celebration, not with a Goa'uld ship coming. But this was one man, they'd just arrived, and there was no way to reason with him. "Thank you," he said. "Hantanya. Is that what you call your ceremony? Your offerings to the statue?"

"Hantanya is the one responsible for our celebration," the man said proudly, waving his hand in the direction of the statue. "He is our savior, our reason for being. Without Hantanya there would be no Hian."

"Hian. . .your race? Your people?"

"Yes." The man looked at Daniel, then grinned and grabbed him by the arm. "Come. Eat. Swim."

"Yes!" Jack piped up. "Let's! Go! Enjoy!" He pointed to the water. Daniel glared at him.

But the man smiled. "Feel free to sample our wine. There is much to celebrate." He flashed a white grin, and he led the team to the water's edge, with all the enthusiasm of a delighted child.

***************************

The people welcomed them with open arms. Most were already intoxicated. Sam smiled uncertainly as a drink was shoved into her hand. "Colonel, there seem to be only adults here. The city is deserted, wonder where the children are?"

"Must have a hell of a baby sitter," Jack replied, sniffing his drink and wincing. He took a taste, then a huge swig. "Oh yeah," he remark with satisfaction, "this tastes much better than it smells."

"Really?" Sam took a swig herself. The flavor was subtle at first, and bitter, then sweet honey burst along her tongue, giving her a chill. She grinned. "Whoa. Better be careful with this, sir."

"Indeed." Teal'c was watching with mild displeasure, until a young lady provided him with a fruit cocktail, and he was immersed in citrus-induced bliss. The three of them watched in amusement as the man who had led them here coaxed Daniel into his shorts for a swim. Daniel was obviously uncomfortable with the idea, but the heat of the day and the cool water proved to be an irresistible combination. His clothing was discarded and he joined the others in the water, swimming with long, practiced strokes. Jack grinned foolishly and raised his eyebrow at Carter.

"Care to join him?"

Sam blushed, much to her chagrin. "Sir, I think I have more to lose than you do."

Jack's eyes trailed up and down her form, and he nodded. "Okay. Babysit Teal'c then. Make sure he doesn't wipe them clean of fruit."

Sam smiled and watched Teal'c go for another dish. "I'll try, sir."

The time passed quickly, then seemed to stop. Nothing mattered. Not the mission, the statue, the Goa'uld, nothing but pleasant company, and lots of drink. Teal'c lay on the ground, having eaten more than his fair share of fruit trays. Sam swayed in her seated position, trying to focus on the Colonel and Daniel, still splashing away in the water. Jack had taken up with a rather lovely woman, and the two spent a lot of time laughing and dunking each other. Daniel seemed rather lost, going from one person to the next before finally beaching himself some distance away from everyone. Their "guide" spotted him and pulled him back in, and suddenly he was in a flurry of female attention. She wasn't surprised, she was only stunned that it hadn't happened sooner. Really, the man had a nice body. Very. . .she winced and took another swig of her fifth drink.

"Do you not think you've had enough, Major Carter?" a deep voice rumbled at her ear. She turned and saw Teal'c sitting up beside her.

"I d-don't think they're sserving anything else," Sam replied slowly as she winced at him. "I'd love ssome water though."

"I can provide you with some. Will you be okay on your own for a minute?"

Sam was amused, and gave Teal'c a playful punch on the shoulder, causing a dark eyebrow to raise. "I'll – I'll be just fine, thank you, Teal'c." Wow, that was hard to say. The Jaffa gave a nod and stood.

Sam shifted and arranged the flowers and jewels that had been strewn about her neck and shoulders. They were becoming bothersome but she didn't want to offend anyone by removing them. A familiar shout rocketed through the air, and she laughed as Jack pounced on Daniel, barely lifting the younger man over his shoulders before throwing him a few feet away. Daniel surfaced, then launched towards Jack who was doing some major stroking, trying to steer clear of approaching revenge. Daniel ducked under, and suddenly Jack was under too. Sam watched, absently taking the cup of water that was handed to her, waited, then stood as neither resurfaced. Teal'c noticed her concern and was about to say something when both men burst though the surface, then started towards the shore. She sighed and sat once more.

Jack staggered with cautious steps and collapsed beside her. "Damn rocks."

"Good for you," Daniel gasped as he sat to Sam's left and rubbed his toe. "Builds much needed character."

"Much needed?"

Daniel just shrugged, still catching his breath. Sam wavered, feeling his wet arm brush hers. "Sir," she struggled to pull her attention away from Daniel, "I think. . . it's time to hit the sack. I mean, for me. Do, do you think. . ." she closed her eyes and struggled for a coherent thought.

Daniel stood, wiping away the clinging pebbles, and scanned the area until he found their guide. "I'll be right back." He walked off none too steadily himself, which made her wonder just how much drink the Colonel had forced on him. She was content to wait, and lay back on the rocks to watch the night sky. . . .

**************************

Oh.

My.

God.

I'm killing Jack.

Daniel couldn't even groan. He didn't want to breathe. His body belonged to someone else, he was certain of that. He could tell he had arms, he knew his legs were down there somewhere, but he couldn't claim rightful possession. He could, however, feel every breath that entered and exited his chest, feel the oxygen in his blood stream, and sense the cool breeze across his cheeks. That was about it, and it was all he was willing to do. A groan beside him made him wince, but he still couldn't muster the strength to reply with one of his own. After several moments he shifted, colliding with soft flesh. He managed to turn his head, then everything was shocked into working order.

Oh yeah. He could move now.

He sat up with a start and backed away from the very naked body of Samantha Carter, pulling a blanket around his own suddenly very, very naked frame. Vivid blue eyes opened and met his, taking in his expression then widening in shock as she mirrored his movements. "Oh god!"

"Yeah." Daniel stared, his face unbelieving. He felt dizzy. Breathing too fast. Okay, slow in. . .slow out. . .his hand clenched the blanket around him, and he noticed that Sam was doing the same with the sheet. His mouth worked as he tried to think of something to say, but for once he was speechless.

"How?" she asked.

Daniel just stared.

"Why? Not why, I mean yeah, why, but. . .how?" Sam adjusted her sheet, realizing that one corner had slipped, and she had a sneaky suspicion that was the reason why Daniel wasn't answering her. Embarrassed, she glanced around the room, looking for her clothes. She found them clean and folded on a lounge chair. . .beside Daniel's. "Uh. . .we should. . ." she pointed to the chair.

"Yeah! Yeah," was Daniel's intelligent reply, and neither moved. Then their words tumbled over each other.

"Maybe we just. . ."

"Sure. I mean, sure, we just. . ."

"Fell asleep. . ."

"Right. And my clothes were. . .wet?" He shot a puzzled glance at Sam, both knowing that his clothes had been removed before the swim. He swallowed.

"To clean. We took them off so they could be cleaned," Sam offered.

Daniel snapped his fingers and pointed at her, still trying to feel his way to the very edge of the bed. "Right! Right, that's it, I-I remember." He looked at the chair, then back at her. "I don't remember. Do you remember?"

Sam shook her head imperceptibly.

"Oh. Well, that's. . .we should get dressed." He started to remove his blanket then jerked it back up sheepishly. "Uh. . .could you, uh. . ." he made a twirling motion with his finger.

"What? Oh yeah, right." Sam turned away, hearing the faint movements of shuffling and pulling on clothes. She closed her eyes at the slight zip of his pants, then felt his presence beside her.

"Here," he said softly, and she took her clothes from him. He smiled slightly, maybe from

embarrassment, maybe finding humor in the situation, then walked out, leaving her to dress.

****************

"You are recovered?" The man who had greeted them the day before peered curiously into Daniel's face.

"Yes, thank you." Daniel nodded. He was looking out of a huge window at the statue. The room was actually a massive hall, flanked with foot soldiers. Above them the statue watched, his face grim. Daniel looked up at his face, still unable to make it out in the glare of the sun. The guide took his arm and led him away, deeper inside the hall. "You are the guardian of the statue, of Hantanya?" Daniel asked.

"I am his current guardian, yes." The guide made a fist and thumped his chest. "I am Nialou."

"Finally." Daniel smiled and reintroduced himself. "I thought there were going to be several others joining us?"

"They will arrive shortly. I wish to speak with you before the session commences." Daniel stuck his hands in his pockets and paid close attention. "You already know my opinion. The statue stays. I hope after last night you can see why it is imperative that you leave it, and us, in peace."

"I wish it were that easy," Daniel sighed. "There's a bit of explaining to do here, and I think I would be best if I did so before the entire council." He tilted his head and chewed his lip thoughtfully, then took a deep breath. "Look, to be honest, I don't like this any more than you do. I'm willing to find a compromise."

"A compromise? An exchange?"

"Uh, well. . ." Daniel rubbed the back of his head, "maybe. Just maybe. I'm not sure yet. I'd really rather wait and talk to the members of the council first."

"Of course. If you would sit here," he gestured to a seat in the center of the table, "I will return with your friends. The council will arrive shortly there after."

"Thank you."

Jack entered moments later, looking as though his head were caught in a vice. Sam managed to look at him and give a small smile. Teal'c looked like Teal'c. Jack took the seat next to him and stretched his legs with a loud moan. "Looks like you recovered well enough from last night," he groused.

"I. . .sobered up pretty quick," Daniel replied, barely glancing at Sam. She was hesitating, and took the chair one seat down from Daniel. He noticed and felt a little disappointment, which confused him. Teal'c sat solidly next to him.

"Are you indeed well, Danieljackson?"

"Yes, Teal'c, I'm fine. Thanks." He rubbed his fingers together nervously and sat back.

Jack leaned into him. "I don't have to remind you of our objective here, do I?"

"Jack, it's not going to be that easy."

"It doesn't have to be easy. It just has to be done. You understand?" His voice was sympathetic but firm. Daniel just nodded and rose as the council entered the room.

He really wasn't looking forward to this.

TBC...