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A Vacation of Sorts
The next morning they switched between lazily making love and dozing, enjoying the thought of having three whole days to themselves. Around midday Daniel roused himself enough to make coffee and he brought the cups back upstairs. He wafted Annika’s mug under her nose until the aroma woke her up.
"Mmmm, I love the smell of coffee in the afternoon," she grinned taking a sip. "Especially when it comes with a handsome man attached."
He slipped back into bed and she cuddled up to him, nursing her cup.
"Daniel, have you ever wanted to go to Australia?"
He frowned at the unexpectedness of the question. "Where did that come from?"
Annika’s shoulders lifted up and down, "I’ve been having strange dreams. So have you?"
"It’s on my to do list, but I don’t see it happening in the near future." Daniel took a sip. "I do so much traveling with work that in my down time I like to stay home." Gentle fingers tilted her chin up towards him. "Is this your way of saying you want to take a holiday?"
"No..." she said slowly.
"Because if you do, I can put in for some vacation time. I must have over six months worth up my sleeve by now…"
Annika stopped him with a kiss. "No, I’m not pushing. I just get the sense that we will be going to Australia pretty soon. Have you ever taken a vacation with Jack and Sam?"
"Well…ah…no." He looked a bit sheepish. "Technically none of us have taken a proper holiday since we joined the SGC."
Her mouth dropped open in shock. "None of you have had a break for seven years?"
"We’ve had extended down time, and I suppose you could count the year that I was Ascended as a very long break." Daniel grimaced, "We always had other things to do. Something always came up."
A deep chuckle reverberated through his chest and Annika raised an eyebrow.
"The last time Jack managed more than a few days off he was framed for murder. The time before that Thor beamed him up just as he got in the elevator. I think he’s given up on the whole concept." Now it was his turn to raise a questioning eyebrow. "So you see us taking a vacation Down Under, huh?"
"Yes. It’s a vacation, but at the same time it isn’t." She shook her head to clear the vision then sighed. "It’s doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes these premonitions can be damned annoying. I wish I had an instruction manual."
Daniel tightened his hold around her giving her a tender kiss on the forehead. "I’m sure it’ll become clearer when the time is right."
"Now you sound like Lya," she groused but he felt a spark of amusement through their bond.
They were interrupted by the ringing of both Annika’s home phone and Daniel’s cell phone.
Daniel grabbed his while Annika reached over for the landline.
Glancing at the screen he saw it was Jack. Before he could say ‘Hi’, Jack’s voice echoed through, "Daniel, turn on the TV."
"Okay." The wisecrack that had automatically jumped to his lips died at the colonel’s serious tone. "Which channel?"
Annika was already flicking the remote, her brow furrowed with concern. She gestured to the receiver mouthing that it was Sam.
"Any one with a news show," Jack clipped. "It doesn’t matter which, they’re all talking about it at some point."
"Talking about what?" Confusion battled with dread as Annika channel surfed until she found a news program.
Daniel found himself holding his breath when the anchorwoman began her next update.
"…And now for news from around the globe…A rather bizarre description of a serial killer who has so far abducted and killed seven women in the past month in Australia has been released by the federal police. Numerous eye witnesses have claimed that the women were seen with a man with glowing yellow eyes shortly before they disappeared…In China the riots…"
Annika hit the mute button. "Holy shit."
"Couldn’t have put it better myself." Jack had heard her shocked response.
"We have another Goa’uld on Earth." Daniel’s voice was stilted.
"Look’s that way," Jack confirmed.
"Don’t know. Don’t know anything right now."
He sounded furious, but Daniel knew it wasn’t directed at him.
"Both of you get to the base. Carter and Hammond are tracking down as much information as they can. My ride’s pulled up, I’ll see you there."
He hung up and for a moment sat stunned. Annika looked just as flabbergasted, then he felt a jolt of recognition through their bond.
"I guess we’re going to Australia." She started searching for some clothes.
Daniel did the same and despite the imminent circumstances he couldn’t help teasing, "See, I told you your vision would make sense when the time was right."
The drive to the base was mostly a silent one, the implications of a possible Goa’uld running around free on the planet tainting their earlier carefree mood. They hurried to the briefing room to find Sam and Jack already seated. General Hammond strode to the table as the couple were helping themselves to their usual cups of coffee.
The general handed around a stack of folders. "I trust you’ve all recovered from your previous mission? I need you all to have clear heads for this one."
"Oh, that news report was an instant cure, sir," Jack quipped but his body was taut.
"Okay, people, this is what we know." Hammond opened the report. "As of yesterday, seven women have been abducted, raped and murdered. They were abducted from five different clubs and bars in the coastal town of…" he glanced at the report, "Mooloolaba, in Queensland, Australia."
"Mooloolaba?" Annika opened her folder and quickly searched for a list of names.
Daniel felt her flutter of panic.
"I take it you’ve heard of it?" The general had noticed the psychic tense up.
Annika nodded. "It’s a tourist town. I lived there for about a year awhile back. I have friends there." Her shoulders slumped in relief when she didn’t recognize any of the victims.
The general continued, "Doctor Fraiser has viewed the autopsy photos and reports and confirmed that they were killed by a Goa’uld hand device. What the police haven’t released to the press is that there are seven other women who have been reported as missing."
"What makes them think the missing persons are connected?" Daniel asked.
Sam answered. "The victims were completely unrelated. Their ages ranged from late teens to mid thirties, all shapes and sizes, they mixed in different social and work circles. The only common factor between all the victims is that they all had red hair. The missing women also have red hair."
"He’s creating a harem," Daniel concluded. "For whatever reason the dead have been rejected and he’s keeping the others."
"That’s a pretty quick assessment, Doctor Jackson."
He shrugged, "What other use is there for a woman?" Sam and Annika were shooting him death stares and he quickly backtracked. "I meant to a Goa’uld, women serve no other purpose except as concubines. If he was creating an army he’d be taking men."
The women were somewhat mollified.
"Sir?" Jack cleared his throat. "I’ll ask the obvious question, why are we learning about this through a sideline news report? Didn’t we start monitoring reports worldwide for key words like glowing eyes since the whole Seth thing?"
"Yes, we did," Hammond confirmed. "But it seems that friends of the victims didn’t mention the glowing eyes because they doubted they would be believed. It wasn’t until the last abduction three days ago, that a sister not caring how crazy she sounded, said that she saw the man’s eyes flash yellow. The police re-interviewed the other witnesses and they admitted they also saw his eyes glow, but only for a few seconds. Most of them thought they’d imagined it or was a trick of the light."
"That’s very un-Goa’uld like," Daniel frowned.
" Ah…Daniel, glowing eyes are very Goa’uld like," Jack contradicted.
"But not in those circumstances," he denied. "The Goa’uld use the glowing eyes to incite fear, to cower their victims into thinking they are gods." He gestured to the report. "He’s managed to keep himself hidden for who knows how long, so he knows how to live in our society. All of these women went with him willingly, at least to begin with. He’s charmed them away from their friends. By letting his eyes glow he blew his cover."
"Maybe it wasn’t intentional," Sam suggested.
"You think the host managed to gain control?" Hammond asked.
"Well, we’ve seen it before, sir. Both Skaara and Sha’re had moments when they could manipulate the Goa’uld without their knowledge."
"General, do we have any idea which snakehead we’re dealing with?"
"Doctor Jackson, any thoughts?" the general asked.
They all turned to Daniel.
"No," he replied absently, concentrating on reading the report.
"Just ‘no’?" Jack demanded when it was clear the archaeologist wasn’t going to elaborate.
Daniel finished the last page and shut the folder. "Jack, there are over two thousand Egyptian gods. I can’t tell which one’s being impersonated based on this."
The colonel accepted Daniel’s explanation and moved on. "I know geography isn’t one of my strong suits, and correct me if I’m wrong, but Australia isn’t connected to Ancient Egypt in any way, right? So how’d he get there and what’s he doing besides screwing with the local tourist industry?"
"We’ve got people working on that now, Colonel, trying to backtrack his movements," the general assured him. "Hopefully if we discover where he came from it may tell us about his intentions. In the mean time I’m sending you all to investigate. Your plane leaves tomorrow morning."
"A…er…military plane?" Daniel asked, wincing at the thought of being on a utilitarian Air Force vessel for twenty plus hours.
"No, civilian." The general hid a smile at the sighs of relief from his flagship team. "This is an unofficial mission. The Australian government has not been informed of the Stargate program and the President would like to keep it that way for the moment if at all possible."
"So how did we get the police reports?" Daniel interrupted curiously.
"Officially, we don’t have them. I called in a couple of favors."
"You’re sending us on vacation." The statement came from Annika and the general looked surprised.
She flapped a hand at her forehead. "Premonition."
"Yes," he confirmed. "As far as anyone knows you’ll be two couples taking a relaxing holiday in tropical Queensland."
"Couples, sir?" Sam’s face turned a little pale.
Jack shifted uneasily in his seat. "Is that really necessary?"
"Yes, it’s the perfect cover." The general kept his face inscrutable. "That way you have the excuse to always have your partner nearby for backup."
"Sir, surely we could just be close friends?" Sam protested, just as Jack added, "What about protocol, sir?"
"It’s just a cover, Colonel, Major. You’ve both done under cover work before." Hammond stood his ground. "I’m not asking you two to sleep together."
The two officers cringed.
"Is this going to be a problem?" His tone said it had better not be.
Daniel felt Annika’s amusement at their friends’ miserable faces and had to stifle a grin of his own. This was going to be one interesting ‘vacation’. He quickly changed the subject. "What about Teal’c?"
"We’re trying to contact him now." The general snapped his report shut. "We’ll keep him here while we research the origin of the Goa’uld. If we find the point of origin, Teal’c will be able to identify any Goa’uld symbols and hopefully give us a history."
"What about weapons, sir?" Jack was trying to hide his discomfort by focusing on the tactical details.
"It’ll look suspicious if you’re on vacation with guns, Colonel. With airport security the way it is, both here and in Australia, we don’t want you drawing any undue attention."
"You want us to take down a Goa’uld with our bare hands?" Daniel asked incredulously.
"No. Once you’ve reached your destination we’ll have the Prometheus beam down some zats’. The base technicians have managed to miniaturize the homing beacons for the transport rings to fit into the back of a watch. They won’t set off the airport metal detectors."
"Zats’ sir?" Sam asked in surprise. "Not normal guns?"
Hammond shook his head. "The President would like to capture him alive if possible."
"Can’t the Prometheus just beam us down there as well?" Annika was confused. "Why waste time on the plane trip?"
The colonel answered before Hammond opened his mouth. "To keep things as simple as possible. For one, any NID spies keeping track of our movements outside the base, will see us going off on a well deserved holiday. They know we socialize outside of work so us taking a trip together won’t make them suspicious. I’m guessing that the tech guys have backdated our booking date so it looks like this vacation was organized months ago?" He looked to the general for confirmation.
He nodded and Jack continued, "Second, to check into an international hotel we’ll need to provide our passports that will be stamped at the airport. Faking the stamps is an unnecessary risk that could get us deported before we even begin."
"So it’s okay to smuggle in weapons, but not fake a passport stamp?" Sometimes Daniel didn’t understand the mindset of the military.
"There’s another reason, isn’t there?" Annika was studying the three military people and they all shifted uncomfortably.
The general answered reluctantly. "It also allows for plausible deniability should things…"
"Go to hell, sir?" the colonel supplied helpfully.
Hammond shot him a dirty look but nodded. "However I have the President’s word that should you run into…shall we say diplomatic issues, he’ll be able to get you out. He has quite a relationship with the current Prime Minister."
"Don’t you just love politics?" Jack rolled his eyes.
Daniel gave a bark of bitter laughter. "If things go to hell, diplomacy will be the least of our problems."
"I agree." The general rose, ending the meeting. "Let’s just hope that SG-1’s infamous luck holds out. You’re flight leaves at 0900." He gave them all a tight smile. "Good luck and Godspeed."
The colonel and major sprang to their feet, snapping to attention until their superior had left. They seemed to be clinging to the rigidity of the military as the four of them headed for the elevator.
Totally fascinated, Daniel watched his teammates march down the corridors making precision turns at the corners. They’re worse than Teal’c, he thought ruefully. He’d never seen them so formal even at the countless official ceremonies they’d attended over the years.
Siler was hurrying towards them but he slowed when he saw the usually relaxed officers walking like they were on parade. Although it wasn’t necessary he hesitantly saluted. "Colonel O’Neill?"
Jack halted and returned the salute. "Sergeant Siler."
"Sir, your plane tickets have just been delivered. There were no direct flights. You have a one hour stop over in Washington. I also have the watch with the homing beacon."
"Thank you, Sergeant." Jack took the package. "Dismissed." The colonel saluted again and he and the major continued marching.
Mouth agape Siler managed another salute before turning to Daniel. "Is everything okay, Doctor Jackson?" he asked in a concerned whisper.
Daniel chuckled. "Everything’s great." He slipped an arm around Annika’s shoulders. "They’re on vacation. Can’t you tell?"
Grinning they left the very bewildered sergeant in their wake.
The ride up to ground level was silent until Annika made the cautious observation, "You know no one is going to believe you’re a couple if you two keep acting this way."
If anything their already ram rod straight backs stiffened even more.
"The Major and I will follow our orders as instructed." Jack’s voice was clipped. "Major Carter, your car is the only one large enough to transport the team and our luggage. I’m making you the designated driver. I expect you at my house by 0600 and then we will proceed to collect Daniel and Annika."
"Yes, Colonel." Sam was every inch the obedient military officer.
The doors slid open and they marched through the final checkpoint.
They stopped and did an abrupt about face.
"Make sure you pack some clothes suitable for a party." Annika tapped her head indicating a premonition. "We’re gonna need them."
They gave curt nods then spun around continuing their retreat.
Daniel and Annika managed to hold their laughter in check until they drove out of the base.
"You know despite the Goa’uld hunting expedition, I think the next few days are going to be a real hoot," Annika gasped in between fits of giggles. "For us anyway."
"You’ve got to feel sorry for them though." Daniel had laughed so much his stomach hurt. "First the military says no personal relationships and they fall in love anyway but can’t act on it. Now they’re on a mission where they have to ‘pretend’ to be in love. It’s irony at its best."
He felt Annika’s mirth become thoughtful. "My Love, you are a genius!"
"I am?" She’d totally lost him.
"The military have practically given permission for Jack and Sam to hook up, at least for the duration of this mission." She shot him a triumphant smile. "You heard the General, he made it an order for them to pass as a couple. Jack and Sam can openly express their feelings and not worry about protocol problems."
Daniel mulled the idea over in his mind. "You’re right, I am a genius."
Parking the car Annika frowned. "The only problem is getting the Colonel and the Major to see it that way."
"I see what you mean." He caught her emphasis. "I’m sure I can come up with the right phrasing." Daniel was already thinking of ways to approach the sensitive subject with his friends. "After all I am a master at finding loopholes in supposed airtight contracts. Look how I finagled bringing you into the SGC."
Annika lifted an incredulous eyebrow. "You finagled?"
He pulled her into his arms with a low chuckle. "Yeah, my sneaky plan of getting captured, knowing you would panic and astral project yourself into the General’s office was really smooth."
Daniel felt a touch of desperation through their bond and was immediately contrite. "I’m sorry, that was crass of me. I’ve been hanging around Jack too long."
Annika clung to him and he knew she was remembering the sight of his tortured body and those long days standing vigil by his side. "I just don’t understand how you, or Jack for that matter, can joke about what’s been done to the two of you."
"Janet calls it a defense mechanism." He soothingly rubbed her back. "But I call it acceptance."
"Acceptance?" Her words were muffled against his chest.
"We risk our lives every time we step through the Stargate. Getting injured or captured is part and parcel of the job," he explained. "Jack and I, and to a degree Sam, joke about almost every aspect of our missions, the good and the bad. It’s how we acknowledge what’s happened. There are occasions when something will remind us of the bad times but the day we don’t have a smartass comment to counteract it is the day to worry," he paused. "It will also be the day I quit."
Annika studied his expression and he felt a gentle search of their bond. "You really don’t have an issue with all the horrible things you’ve been put through." It was a statement of wonder, not a question.
"No," he assured her, kissing her temple. "What concerns me is that you seem to have a problem with it."
"Sometimes I do," she admitted in a small voice.
Daniel searched for a way to help. "I know it sounds clichéd, but sometimes you need the bad to experience the good. For example, if I hadn’t been exposed to a lethal dose of radiation, I wouldn’t have Ascended. While I don’t recall much of that year, what I do remember is amazing. Plus it was only because I was a Higher Being that I was able to learn of Ry’ac’s and Bra’tac’s imprisonment. They’d be dead by now if I hadn’t ‘died’ first."
Her expression become thoughtful and he provided another example that was a little closer to home. "Take two months ago, if I hadn’t been captured and tortured…" She flinched but he continued. "The true potential of your gift wouldn’t have been forced to the surface, who knows if it would ever have emerged? Besides the fact that I’d probably still be in Ba’al’s hands, would you really want to go back to only having the occasional premonition and flashes of the past?" His voice was soft, removing the brutality of his words.
Annika was silent, considering all he’d said. Eventually she spoke, "You have a very ‘up’ way of looking at things."
The worry slowly disintegrated through their bond and Daniel breathed easier. "Well, I do try."
She poked him in the side, her previous good humor returning. "I never knew you were such a believer in fate."
He was startled at the idea. "Neither did I. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective." Daniel’s mouth descended on hers projecting all his love for her and she responded in kind.
"Now that we’ve had our deep and meaningful for the week," Annika grinned mischievously. "Let’s get back to more important matters, like getting Jack and Sam hooked up."
"You don’t want to leave that up to the powers that be?" Daniel teased.
"Nope, sometimes fate needs a little push."
While they set about packing for their trip, including organizing Joyce, Daniel’s elderly neighbor, to look after the puppies while they were gone, they discussed various approaches to the Jack/Sam dilemma. By the time they fell into bed that night the best they had come up with was to play it by ear. When the opportunity presented itself, (and since they were new believers in fate, they were sure that it would,) one of them would share their interpretation of their current orders.
Burrowing under the covers, Annika contentedly laid her head on Daniel’s chest. Her fingers absently traced one of his scars, a permanent reminder of the numerous battles he’d fought. Daniel sensed her hesitation. "What is it you want to ask me?"
She heaved a deep sigh. "When you’re face to face with a Goa’uld, are you scared?"
Daniel thought about his answer before speaking. "It depends on the Goa’uld. With Ra, I was too fascinated and too stupid to be scared. With Apophis I was so focused on getting Sha’re back, that every time we encountered him my rage at what he’d done to her took over."
"What about Anubis and Ba’al?"
"Yes, with them I am scared," he admitted. "But not of them. I’m frightened that we won’t be able to defeat them, especially Anubis." He paused. "You’re worried about the mission, aren’t you? Have you had a vision?"
"Sort of...well, maybe." Annika hesitated, trying to find the right words to describe what she’d seen. "It’s nothing specific, just the feeling that I’m going to screw up in some way."
"Are you sure that it’s not just nerves about your first official…er…unofficial mission?" He’d felt an underlying anxiety on the outskirts of their bond since the briefing, though she’d done her best to hide it from him.
"Possibly," she conceded. "It’ll be the first time I’ll see a Goa’uld in reality and not in my head. I don’t want to let you down."
His arms tightened around her. "My Angel, fear is nothing to be ashamed of. I think Jack wishes that I did feel more fear. I tend to jump head first into any situation without considering the danger. He’s been trying to break me out of the habit since we first stepped foot on Abydos."
"But what if I freeze up?"
He could sense the fear gnawing at her.
"I could be more of a liability than a help."
"You didn’t freeze up with that dwarf," Daniel pointed out. "From what I’ve been told, you were pretty much unstoppable."
"That was different. He was just a man."
"I have every faith in you, so does Jack, Sam and General Hammond," Daniel reassured her. "If they had any doubts they wouldn’t have recommended you for active duty."
"But my abilities have been uncontrollable lately…"
He interrupted her, "Correct me if I’m wrong, but the more emotion you feel, the stronger your abilities are, right?"
"Fear is one of the strongest emotions around."
Annika frowned. "You want me to be scared?"
"No. What I’m saying is, if you do feel fear when we meet up with the Goa’uld, use it. Change it from the liability you see it as, into something useful, like channeling it towards your abilities."
After a moment of consideration, she nodded. "That sounds like a plan."
Daniel felt most of her doubts shrink. "You have nothing to worry about. I don’t intend to let you out of my sight for a second. We’ll face this Goa’uld together."
Annika smiled, taking comfort in the conviction of his words.
Seeing her once again relaxed, he playfully added, "You’re part of the one and only SG-1, flagship team of the SGC! We’ve got a bit of a reputation for always coming out on top. How can you go wrong?"
She chuckled against his chest. "And all this time I thought I was with a modest man."
His laugh mixed with hers and they fell asleep with happy smiles on their faces.
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