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Sand in an Hourglass


"My love is a rock, an immovable force
Anywhere that you are, my love is right here
With any tick of the clock
Life can change it's course
But my love will not
My love is a rock..."
"Love Is A Rock" by REO Speedwagon


Chapter 1

Jack read the memo. Looked up at the man sitting behind the desk. "They're joking, right?"

"Apparently not," General Hammond replied. He crossed his arms on the desktop, leaned forward slightly. "The opportunity for us to stop this Goa'uld, or at least slow him down, is worth the...aggravation."

I'll reserve judgment on that, Jack thought grumpily. It seemed that in the past year the Tok'ra had been making some damned harsh demands of their 'allies', while offering damned little in return! One ship! One freaking ship was all they'd 'approve' when Tem had been set to announce himself as the god of the First World! Daniel had damned near lost Casey because of one of their missions. He, Sam, and Daniel had died helping to save Jacob Carter and Selmak, and their precious database when Zippy-whoever had attacked their outpost. So far, most of what Sam and her geeks had been able to pull off those data crystals was stuff they already knew, intel gathered from their own missions!

"Colonel, I know that right now the Tok'ra aren't your most favorite group," the general said quietly, ignoring the snort of disgust. If the truth were known, he wasn't particularly fond of the Tok'ra right now, either. But the President was adamant that the diplomatic relations with the rebel Goa'uld be kept as peaceful as possible. "However, they are allies, and we need to keep them...mollified."

"Yeah, so that if we need help again, they can toss us a few crumbs," the colonel couldn't help but spit back.

He'd known that telling SG-1 about the request would be opening wounds still too fresh to be poked at in this manner. The only way to make certain that the team cooperated, was to make certain that Jack saw the necessity of the mission. Oh, Major Carter would never disobey a direct order. However, Teal'c and the Jacksons would certainly balk. And without them, there really wasn't an SG-1. No, the entire team had to understand that as...distasteful...as it might be, this was one mission they couldn't refuse. "Jack, I need you to help me on this one."

Using his first name. And that quiet, 'I'm-your-friend' tone of voice. Jack shook his head. "If it was any other agent, it wouldn't be a problem. You know that Daniel will refuse point blank."

"I know," General Hammond said. "I'm counting on you to help me convince him."

"What about Casey?"

The Texan sat back in his chair and heaved a sigh. "I can only hope she'll understand," he admitted softly.

"No offense, sir, but this sucks," Jack declared.

"Yes, Colonel, it does. But we can't allow personal feelings to interfere with the protection of this planet. If this intelligence report is accurate, we need to move now, while Anubis is still gathering his forces."

"You think that the intel is...correct?"

"If Jacob Carter believes it is, I trust his judgment," Hammond replied.

He wasn't as confident in General Carter's observations. He was a Tok'ra host, for crying out loud! Selmak influenced every damned decision, probably every thought the man had! Selmak was convinced the intel was legit. Didn't mean that it was. The Tok'ra had been making some bad judgment calls of late. Hell, they hadn't even known about the double agents in their midst until Casey had pointed them out! "When would we...he...leave, sir?"

"Tomorrow. Oh-seven-hundred."

Great. One day to convince his team...to convince Daniel...that this was a mission they had to go on. "Briefing?"


Shit. Less than four hours to break the news. "Yes, sir."

"Colonel, if Doctor Jackson and his wife refuse to cooperate, I will send you, Major Carter, and Teal'c on the mission."

Jack started, tried to mask his surprise. "Sir?"

"This is too important, Jack. Anubis is on a path heading straight for Earth. Once he has all of his resources in place, he'll be unstoppable."

He nodded. If the report was true, then there was little time to put the damned snake out of their misery. "Yes, sir."

"I want you to talk to the Jacksons before the briefing," the general said.

"Sir, if Casey sees anything...bad...about this mission..."

"Then SG-1...the SGC...will remain neutral." Experience was often a cruel teacher. He'd learned the hard, painful way that if Casey Jackson saw danger, she wasn't wrong. And there was no way he'd risk any member of his premier team if he could avoid it. Especially for the Tok'ra.

"Good." For the first time ever Jack hoped that Radar would pick up a lot of bad vibes, and just put the kibosh on this damned mission before it ever got started.

"General Carter will arrive soon. Major Carter has already been made aware of her father's visit."

"But not the reason."

"No. She has no idea why," the general confirmed.

He hated this! Absolutely hated it with everything he was. "I guess I should go break the bad news," he sighed.

"Yes, Colonel, I believe you should."

Jack pushed himself to his feet. "With your permission, sir."

"Dismissed, Colonel."

With a nod, Jack moved toward the door.

"Jack, try to make them see the importance, and the urgency," General Hammond said quietly.

"I'll try, sir," Jack replied. "I doubt that Daniel will ever forget May, though. That's going to influence his decision."

General Hammond flinched. Casey Jackson had been so hurt, so broken-hearted over events that had happened during the last 'joint' Tau'ri/Tok'ra mission, she'd fled Silver Springs. Dr. Jackson had nearly lost her. The SGC had come too damned close to losing him as well. The president had not been pleased at the prospect of the program losing two of its most valued members. "None of us will," he replied.

With another nod, understanding that the general knew exactly what he was asking of Daniel and Casey, Jack headed for the elevator.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Sarah stared at Selmak's host, Jacob Carter. "He has agreed to this?"

"Not yet," Selmak replied. "However, we are confident that Doctor Jackson will grasp the seriousness of the situation, and will assent to work with us...with you."

Karinda moved forward when she felt her host beginning to panic. "This is quite...unexpected," she said.

"I sympathize with Sarah's...distress. From your own reports we know that Anubis knows the details of her life before becoming host to Osiris. And that Osiris seemed obsessed with capturing Doctor Jackson. For him to appear to have done so will only strengthen the Goa'uld's trust in you," Selmak said gently.

"I nearly destroyed his marriage once," Sarah managed to whisper. "This will make him...he'll hate me! He'll absolutely hate me!"

"I do not believe that to be true," Selmak replied. "Daniel Jackson is not a man who hates easily."

Sarah shook her head. "But when he does, it's with a deep, dark, burning hatred."

Karinda admitted to her host that she was concerned as well. Daniel Jackson already suspected that he and Sarah had been intimate during his time as Osiris' prisoner. If he were to discover that not only was it true, but that Osiris had allowed Sarah to be the one in bed with him...she shivered. He'd never be able to hide the truth from his wife, a very powerful seer. And Dr. Jackson's expertise had aided the Tok'ra on several occasions. Casey Jackson's 'gift' had exposed half a dozen spies among their ranks. To lose either would certainly hurt, perhaps even cripple the SGC. It would also be an...inconvenience...to the Tok'ra. For if such a thing was to happen, the Tau'ri would be less likely to assist the Tok'ra in the future.

"I believe you are worrying about things that will never occur," Selmak said soothingly.

"He'll be furious when he hears about this," Sarah said.

"He will do what needs to be done in order to protect Earth," Selmak predicted.

"We can only hope so," Karinda said softly, trying to comfort her host.

She couldn't do it. She just couldn't! Having Daniel near, pretending to be captured by Osiris, posing as her prisoner, her lover...oh, god she couldn't do it! He would know...he'd see it in her eyes. And he'd know. Daniel was a brilliant man, and he'd put the pieces together; he was an expert in taking a few sketchy clues, and deducting the truth. He'd hate her for what she'd done to him...what she'd allowed to be done to him. And his wife...she shivered mentally. He'd do whatever it took to protect his wife. If that meant walking away from the SGC, he'd do so without a backward glance.

Selmak frowned. It was true that Sarah Gardner knew Daniel Jackson better than anyone, or at least, any of the Tok'ra. If she had doubts about his cooperation...she forced such thoughts from her mind. Refused to listen when Jacob pointed out that it might be best to find another way to deal with Anubis. For nearly three weeks the Council had debated, discussed and examined the situation. This was the best, perhaps the only way to get close enough to take that Goa'uld out before he could become even more powerful than he already was.

"He'll hate me," Sarah whispered sadly. "More than he already does."


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack wandered into Daniel's office. Watched for a few moments as the archaeologist stared at one of the rocks on the table. Tablet of some sort. Then in a sudden burst of movement, the young man was scribbling furiously on the yellow legal pad beside him. He waited until the pencil stopped moving. "Hey, Daniel."

Daniel looked up, grinned at the sight of his best friend standing in the doorway. "Hey, Jack."

"Got a minute?"

Warning bells began to go off in his head. Jack never asked that! If he was in the mood to talk, he just walked in, and started talking. Regardless of what the person he was talking to might be trying to do. "Sure."

"I just had a little chat with the general," Jack said, trying to sound casual, even as he tossed about in his mind to find the right words to tell Daniel what he was not going to want to hear.

Something was wrong. Jack wouldn't look at him. Kept playing with the statuettes sitting on the end of the table. "And?"

"He got a message from the Tok'ra. Seems they have some intel, and there's a little mission-"

Daniel was on his feet. "Stop right there. The answer is no. No way in hell! I'm not helping them. Casey isn't helping them. No fucking way!"

Well, that protest was out of the way. He'd known as soon as the word 'Tok'ra' was out of his mouth that the archaeologist would start objecting. It was ironic that when they'd first sought out the Tok'ra, Daniel had been the one to insist that they could be powerful, much needed allies in the fight against the Goa'uld. The archaeologist had always been the one most willing to assist the aliens. He pushed that thought aside.

"Osiris...well, whoever the hell he...she is now," Jack mumbled, "has managed to get close to Anubis. As in second in command. Now, it seems that Anubis knows all about Sarah. And that you and Sarah had a thing before Osiris took her. And that Osiris would like nothing more than to have you in chains at his...er...her side."

"It would strengthen Sarah's...Osiris' position," Daniel said flatly, understanding in an instant what this 'intel', and the mission it was about to generate, was going to be.



"I understand how you feel Daniel..."

He shook his head. "No, Jack you don't. I didn't feel as lost when Sha're was taken as I did when I came home to find Casey missing! Twenty-four days. That's how long we were apart. Twenty-four of the longest days I've ever endured. Twenty-four days of hell. I was damned lucky to get her back. I won't do this to her. No way!"

He wasn't going to argue. Daniel had been...lost...hurt...angry, all of the usual, expected things when Sha're had been taken. He'd been heartbroken when Sha're has been killed. Jack had never seen the archaeologist as devastated as he'd been when he'd opened the apartment door, and announced that Casey was gone. Daniel would never understand that he'd suffered just as much, watching his best friend suffer. What he wanted to do was turn around and go give the general a message for the Tok'ra, which involved an action that was probably physically impossible. What he'd do...He took a deep breath. "Daniel, Anubis is on a path straight for Earth."

He sighed, tossed his pencil on the table. Fought for a few seconds with his conscience. "No. I don't give a damn which Goa'uld is doing what. Let someone else save the whole fucking planet for a change. I'm tired. And I will not put Casey through that. For anyone."

"You asked me once how I'd feel if I knew that Earth was about to be attacked, and I did nothing. I'm asking you the same question," Jack said softly.

Again he shook his head in disagreement. "Earth isn't in any immediate danger. Apophis was on his way. There's a big difference."

"Not much of one if we don't take this snake out now," Jack insisted.

"I am not the only man working at the SGC!" Daniel exploded. "I'm not the only man who speaks and understands Goa'uld! Find someone else, because I won't do it!"

"You have a contract," Jack reminded him.

"Yeah? So sue me." With a shake of his head, he pushed past the colonel and headed for the elevator. Casey was still in the gym. Right now, he needed to see her...to make certain she was really home and safe and still loved him.

Jack dropped down onto the stool beside the table. Well, that had gone well! He'd known that Daniel would refuse. What he didn't know was whether the young man would resign the SGC in order to avoid the mission. A frown tugged at his eyebrows as that worrisome thought began bouncing around in his head. He decided that it might be a wise move to warn the general that such a thing just might happen.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel shoved his hands into his pockets, stood with his head hanging down, his broad shoulders hunched forward slightly. There was no way he wanted be alone with Sarah. He was certain more had happened during his abduction by Osiris than what she'd admit to. Which was damned little. He had a feeling he knew exactly what had happened. He could deal with it, push it from his mind...remind himself that he'd been drugged, and had no clue what was happening. But it would be damned hard to pretend he didn't know...or at least suspect, if he was forced to be around Sarah for any length of time. And even though he wouldn't technically be alone on the mission, after all, she was a Tok'ra agent now, he'd still be without his teammates. Without his Wife. No. No way in hell.




Casey looked up when she heard the door to the gym squeak open. Siler hadn't had a chance to oil the hinges yet. The smile that tugged at her lips lit her face and her eyes. "Hey, handsome."

He sighed inwardly at the love that flooded her eyes, softened the delicate features of her face. "Hey, gorgeous."

She put down the pad of paper she'd been writing on, working out a new aerobic routine for the cadets, at Teal'c's request. Stood to her feet, wiped off the back of her sweats. "What's wrong?"

"Who says anything is wrong?"

"You didn't even know when I left your office this morning. Now here you stand. And I can see it in your eyes," she replied softly.

He glanced around the room. Two SF's were working out with the weights. This was a discussion that didn't need spectators. "Why don't you go take a shower. We're going to take the afternoon off."

"Daniel, have you checked your email? SG-1 has a briefing this afternoon," she said, frowning slightly. When he was working, caught up in translations and piecing together the past, nothing filtered through. His teammates made certain that he was aware of any briefings or meetings he was required to attend. But the moment he 'surfaced' from his work, he always...always...checked his email!

"We won't be going to it," he replied firmly.

She was too stunned to reply. Something was very wrong!

"Go shower, Casey. I'll be waiting by the elevator." He moved close enough to drop a kiss on her lips, then turned and left the room.

Not good...not good at all! She grabbed her bottle of water and hurried toward the women's locker room. A glance down the hallway confirmed that he was leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, staring at the floor, a frown on his face. What the hell was going on?


A  A  A  A  A  A


Jack knocked on the general's door. "Sir?"

"That was rather fast," General Hammond acknowledged.

He shook his head. "Just wanted to give you a heads up. You might be getting Daniel's resignation. Casey's as well. I haven't spoken to Casey, but Daniel was adamant that he is not going to go on this mission. I didn't even get to tell him about it, not really. Just that the Tok'ra were involved."

The general sat back in his chair. He'd been worried that this might happen. As far as he was concerned, keeping Dr. Jackson on the payroll was much more important than keeping the Tok'ra happy. "I'll let the president know," he said quietly.

He nodded. If the man in the White House was as smart as he thought, then he'd put Daniel and Casey above the Tok'ra. If not...hell, maybe he'd retire. He'd done that once, and it had worked out just fine. Until the night that Samuels had climbed up to the roof of his house. And then escorted him back here. Jack shook himself mentally. He and his kids had saved the damned planet a half a dozen times, at least! The government owed them, damn it! "Sir, I'm not trying to put more pressure on you, but if Daniel goes...well, I haven't been able to do any fishing in awhile."

George Hammond was a damned good CO. He knew his people. Understood them, for the most part. If Dr. Jackson walked out the door, there'd be no SG-1. It wasn't that he couldn't be replaced. It would be damned difficult, if not down right impossible to find anyone with as much talent as the man had with languages, coupled with his knowledge of nearly every ancient civilization that had existed. Be that as it may, another archaeologist could be found. But SG-1 was a team unlike any other SG team in the mountain. They functioned like a single entity. Remove any part of that entity, and the magic was gone. And none of the other parts would ever function the same, nor would they be content to remain in place, either. "I understand, Colonel. I'll pass that on to the president as well."

Another nod, and Jack slipped out of the office. Standing on the elevator, he tossed the information concerning the mission around in his mind. It was important to stop Anubis before he had all of his ducks in a row. Taking him out might possibly rattle the rest of the snakes enough to make it easier to get rid of them. That was a definite plus. And if Anubis was heading for Earth...well, it could get really ugly. He sure as hell wouldn't hold his breath on the Tok'ra racing to their aid. Even the Asgard would be hard pressed to enforce the Protected Planets Treaty. Shit! The whole fucking thing stunk to high heaven. He hated the fact that the damned mission made sense. That it was, for all intents and purposes, the only chance they'd have against Anubis. Crap! Why couldn't the Tok'ra have come up with something other than splitting up my team?

He decided that it might be easier to convince Daniel and Casey to go along with this mission, one that he was reluctantly beginning to see the importance of, if Carter and Teal'c were backing him. He knew that Teal'c was working with a group of cadets. He called him, asked the Jaffa to meet him in the large lab where Carter had spent the majority of the past five days. Jack shook his head. They'd barely seen each other for a week now. Sometimes, her obsession...her love...for her work could be a real pain. It must be karma biting him in the ass, he thought, payback for all the times he'd been away from his wife and son, his job so damned important to him. The thing of it was, even knowing what he knew now, he wouldn't change what he'd done. His absences had protected them, and the rest of the people in the country. "Hey," he said softly, when he walked in to find her working alone.

"Hey," she replied, flashing a smile at him. "What are you up to?"

He grimaced. "Sam, I need your help."

She nearly dropped the screwdriver she was holding. Thankfully the screws had already been replaced, or they'd have scattered when her other hand reached out for the table to steady herself. He never called her 'Sam' here. Never. "What's wrong?"

"I'd rather only have to go through this once," he said. "I called Teal'c, asked him to meet us here."

"And Daniel and Casey?"

"Probably not even on the base by now," he replied.

"Oh, god," she muttered. "What happened?"

"The friggin' Tok'ra," he said, the anger in his voice the only outward sign of his mental state.

Sam frowned. She'd been told that her father would be visiting the base this afternoon. Which was probably the reason for the briefing memo she'd found half an hour ago. The last time that her father had come to the base and there'd been a..."Oh, god, no," she murmured.

Jack nodded grimly. "Kick in the pants, isn't it? They nearly destroyed his marriage...nearly destroyed him, and yet they have the nerve to ask him to do the same goddamned thing all over again. Only this time he gets to play Osiris' prisoner."

"Oh, god," she repeated. "Have you told him?"


"What did he say?"

"What do you think he said?" Jack asked bitingly.

"There has to be a reason, a good reason, or they wouldn't ask," Sam said softly.

"Anubis. If he isn't stopped now...he's on a path straight for us," the colonel admitted.

"Surely Daniel understands the importance...he hates the Goa'uld, he'll do whatever he had to in order to protect Earth," Sam insisted.

"Earth's protection is secondary to him now," Jack corrected. "Casey comes first."

Teal'c entered the room. "What is it that you needed to discuss so urgently?"

Jack explained his meeting with the general. And Daniel's reaction to the news.

"Daniel Jackson lost one wife to the Goa'uld. In just one year he has nearly lost Casey Jackson twice because of Goa'uld. He will do nothing that will hurt her, or put her in danger. Regardless of what other consequences might result," the Jaffa said sagely.

"Once he gets over the shock, he'll see the importance of the mission," Sam said. "We just need to give him a little time."

"Don't know how much time we have," Jack replied. "The Tok'ra Council has been discussing this damned thing for weeks now. Of course, this is the first peep we've heard about it. He...we're supposed to leave at oh-seven hundred."

"What does Casey say about all of this?" Sam asked.

"I don't know. I haven't had a chance to talk to her," Jack conceded. He leaned against the work table, crossed his arms over his chest. "We aren't the only team in the mountain. Hell, we're one team of twenty-two. We've saved the planet a few times. Maybe it's time to let someone else take on the bad guys."

Sam's eyes went wide as the meaning of his words sank in. "Sir?"

"I was retired before they restarted the program."

"But, sir...Jack...we can't just walk away! None of us can. Daniel especially," the major protested. The time the team had spent in a subterranean cavern had changed them all...and had made what they did even more important.

Jack frowned. It was easy to go for days without remembering his Immortality. And the reason that he and the rest of his team had received the 'blessing'.

"Casey Jackson will remind Daniel Jackson of this fact," Teal'c said.

"General Hammond has already said that if she has one bad feeling, we don't go, and the SGC remains neutral in this thing," Jack said.

"We should hear what Dad has to say about all of this," Sam said.

"I doubt that there will be any surprises," Jack replied.

"At least we'll know more about what the Tok'ra want," she insisted.

"Oh, yah shure, you betcha. We'll know exactly what they want us to know. But we won't be a damned bit wiser about why they want it, or why they can't do the damned job themselves."

She let the comment go past. She knew that what had happened to the team, what Daniel and Casey had suffered because of the Tok'ra, had deepened Jack's distrust of them.

"There is little we can do until the briefing," Teal'c said.

"I guess not," Jack agreed.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Daniel said nothing as he drove toward the park. It was cold, but walking would keep them warm enough. How dare they think he'd jump through their hoops...that he'd just obediently come running when they called, and do their bidding? After what had happened the last time...how dare they?


Her voice was soft, a bit frightened. He reached over and wrapped his fingers around hers. "Let's take a walk," he said. "I thought Grant Park would be nice."

"We haven't been there since they put up the Christmas decorations," she allowed. She knew that something was wrong. But she had no clues, the little voice in the back of her head was annoyingly silent.

The parking lot was nearly deserted. Daniel parked near their favorite path. "Come on, babe."

The park was decorated with gaily colored bows and ribbons wrapped around the light poles, a display of Santa and his reindeer, a village of snow people, even a Christmas village, complete with a train that circled it every thirty minutes.

The troubled look in the blue eyes she loved so much had her heart hammering against her ribs. "So, we're not going to the briefing?"


She blew out a breath. "Okay, why not?"

"Because we won't be going on the mission that will be discussed," he replied firmly.

She stopped, turned to face him. "Mission?"

Daniel stared down the path for a few moments. "The Tok'ra have another mission they want me to go on. With Sarah. Basically the same as the last time...well, one minor difference," he snorted. "I wouldn't be her lo'taur. I'd be her...pet."

"Oh. I see." Casey shivered. She knew that Sarah still loved Daniel. And as much as she tried to forget, the look of love in his eyes when he reached for the strawberry blonde in the infirmary still haunted her. She understood that he'd been under the influence of Goa'uld drugs. It didn't make the memory hurt any less. Nor did it make it any easier to be near the woman who was now a willing Tok'ra host. Deep seated fears began to stir. If Daniel spent time with the woman he once loved, what would prevent him from falling in love with Sarah again...and abandoning her, leaving her broken-hearted and crushed?

The look of pain that flashed through her eyes tore at his heart. "Don't worry, Angel," he said softly, cupping her face with his hands. "I'm not going."

She shook her head. "Daniel, they wouldn't ask if it wasn't important."

"After what we've gone through, you can trust the Tok'ra?" His eyebrows went up in surprise.

"I trust General Carter. He's a good man. Selmak is a good...an honorable...Tok'ra. I could sense how much both of them suffered because of what happened, when I spoke to them at your birthday party," she said softly. "Daniel, you can't walk away from this. Even if you want to."

"Why not?"

"Because if anyone else could do the job, the Tok'ra never would have approached you. And because you're The One."

"Yeah, the Tok'ra are really concerned about my feelings. They really care about what happens to the Tau'ri. And I have no idea what it means to be The One. The...Beings...in that cavern neglected to give me an instruction manual," he spat.

"Because you'll know what to do when the time arrives," she replied. "And the Tok'ra are concerned about what happens to us, to the Tau'ri. Without us, they'd already be dead, and they know that! The reason they couldn't come racing to our aid with Tem was because it would have raised suspicions. Nearly one hundred agents could have been exposed."

He sucked in a breath. "Why didn't you say something then?"

"I didn't know then." She shook her head. Daniel still didn't understand that the 'information dumps' came at random, and often it could take her days to sort through what she'd learned in order to make sense of it. And sometimes what she learned was of no importance at the moment, or she learned something after the fact. She laced her fingers with his. Tugged slightly and led him further down the path. "I could talk to Miss Eloise," she suggested softly.

Daniel tightened his fingers around hers. Had the sinking feeling that the old seer would insist that he go. "I can't do it, Case. I can't leave you like that. I just can't take the chance that something will happen to you, and I'll be helpless to save you."

She smiled, put her head on his shoulder as they walked slowly. Listened as the little voice began to whisper to her. Finally. Took you long enough, she grumped silently. And what it said gave her hope. "You might not have to. In fact, the entire team should stay together."

Daniel stopped. "What?"

"We should go to that briefing, Stud Muffin. Sarah is going to need all of us to back her up if this is going to work. SG-1's reputation is going to keep her in place in Anubis' court."

He shook his head. "I don't like this. I hate it."

"So do I, truth be told. Because certain...things...behaviors...will be required..." she broke off, looked away. The voice continued to whisper. And what it said would not make Daniel happy.

His heart fell to his feet. "No way in hell," he ground out softly. "I'll leave the SGC before I'll ever do anything like that!"

She looked up into his eyes. He was serious...meant every word. "Daniel, you can't leave the SGC."

"Like hell I can't!"

"Your job there isn't finished."

"I don't care."

"Yes, you do. Right now, in this moment, you're angry. You're furious with the Tok'ra for even suggesting this. But deep down, in your heart, you know that the battle against the Goa'uld is more important than any individual. No matter who that individual might be."

Her voice was soft. Her eyes full of love and warmth...and determination. For the past hour he'd been able to silence the part of him that understood exactly what she was saying. He'd been able to ignore his conscience, because his love for her was stronger than his need to do the right thing. "I can't, Casey. I just can't!"

She smiled. "Yes, you can. It might..." she cocked her head to one side, closed her eyes. Listened carefully. "The Tok'ra have been so busy looking at the big picture that details have escaped them. We just have to point out a few of the details. They'll agree, I promise."

"I won't play the part of Osiris' lover!" Daniel declared vehemently.

"No, Stud Muffin, you won't. Osiris wouldn't want a male lover."

"Say what?" he rasped.

She began to giggle. "Trust me, Stud Muffin. Let's grab some lunch. Then we'll talk to General Hammond and Jack and Sam and Teal'c, before the Tok'ra get here. By the time they arrive, we'll have an alternate plan, one that the Tok'ra won't be able to refuse...and one that will work much better than their idea. I don't know why Sarah hasn't suggested it herself!"

He couldn't help but grin. "Want to clue me in?"

"Nope. What I do want is for you to take me to Sonic. I'm starving!"

Feeling slightly more confused than he had been when he'd arrived at the park, determined that there was no way he'd go on the mission for the Tok'ra - his conscience telling him that he really had no choice, Daniel led Casey back to the Jeep.

He continued to glance at her has he drove to Twenty-fourth Street. Her lips were curved into a smile, her eyes reflecting her amusement. He shook his head. Whatever she had up her sleeve had better be damned good. Because there was no way in hell that he'd ever consent to go on a mission for the Tok'ra, and play the part of someone else's lover!

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