"Well, that was three days of my life wasted," Jack complained.
"Just because we didn't find anything on this first search doesn't mean that there's nothing here, sir," Sam told him. "The archeological teams that are coming in will be doing a more thorough search, and each one will have scanning equipment. They might find something that we missed."
"Yes, maybe they will, but we will not be here if they do. I said we'd stay two more days, and those days are now up. We're heading back home in the morning." Jack turned to Daniel. "And I don't want to hear any complaints from you."
"I have no intention of complaining, Jack," the archeologist responded.
Jack frowned. "You don't?"
Jack's gaze narrowed suspiciously. "Why not?"
"I have my reasons."
"What re. . . ." All at once, Jack figured it out. He began to smile. "Ahhh. Yes. Those reasons."
"What are the reasons of which you speak?" Teal'c asked.
"Me thinks that Danny here has some plans for a hot date with a certain raven-haired beauty."
Neither confirming nor denying Jack's guess, Daniel resumed eating his dinner.
On the trip back the next morning, Daniel began to make his plans. He was going to take both tomorrow and the next day off. Then he could schedule the date for tomorrow night and not have to worry about how late they stayed out.
Daniel couldn't help but think about what might happen at the end of that date. This was not going to be like the usual first date. He and Egeria weren't two people who had just met. They already knew each other well, including in the biblical sense. Well . . . sort of. Egeria knew him in the biblical sense, and he sort of did her as well, except that it was a different body. So, did that count? Daniel mentally shook his head. Regardless, they weren't a couple of strangers just getting to know each other.
There was one thing about which Daniel was quite sure. If they kissed at the end of the date, he was going to find it very hard not to take things all the way. But then, should he even fight that? Egeria loved him, and he loved her, and they'd already had sex once. He had a feeling that he knew what Egeria would want – and it was most definitely what he wanted, too.
Once they were back at the SGC and the debriefing had been all taken care of, Daniel went in search of Egeria. He was surprised to find her in his office, reading a book. And then he saw what she was reading. It was one of his journals. After Daniel descended and got the journals back from Jack, who had been storing them at his house, the archeologist decided that it would be safer to keep them in his office instead of at his place.
As he quietly stepped into the room, still unnoticed by Egeria, Daniel was shocked to see tears on her face.
Startled, the former queen gasped and turned to him. "Daniel!" Wiping the tears from her face, she smiled and got to her feet. She came forward and embraced him.
"Egeria, why were you crying?" he asked. "What were you reading?"
The woman sighed and drew away from him. "I was reading one of your journals. I know that I should not have done so. They are private. I did not realize what it was when I first looked at it. I believed it to be a simple account of your missions. It was not until I reached one place that I realized it was more."
Daniel walked over to the desk and picked up the book, which Egeria had laid open. It took him only a second to recognize what she'd been reading. It was about Sha're's death. He'd poured his heart out in the book, writing down on its pages all the grief and guilt that he couldn't express to his friends.
Closing the journal, Daniel set it back on the desk. Egeria came up to him, her arm going around his waist, her head coming to rest on his shoulder.
"It grieves me that you had to suffer such pain, Daniel," she said. "If Apophis was still alive, I would do all in my power to make him suffer equally. The things you wrote there about your wife, how she spent her last moments of life thinking not of herself but of others, showed me that she was worthy of the love you gave her."
"Oh, she was so much more than worthy, Egeria," Daniel said in a voice full of emotion. "There were so many times when I wondered what I'd done to deserve having someone like her."
Egeria moved around to face him. "Tell me about her."
They both took a seat, then Daniel began to talk about Sha're, about her likes and dislikes, the things he loved the most about her and a few of the things that used to drive him up the wall. Through it all, Egeria watched his face closely, seeing the varying emotions play across it.
"You love her still," she said as he fell silent.
"I think a part of me will always love her, but it no longer hurts like it did when I knew you before. I'm okay now. My heart has finally moved on."
Hearing those words, real hope blossomed inside Egeria. Her heart began beating faster in her chest, a question hanging on her tongue. "Then you are ready to love again?"
Daniel knew why she was asking, what she wanted him to say. He lifted his eyes to hers and, staring into the green depths, spoke a single word.
Four breathless seconds passed as their eyes remained locked. And then they were suddenly on their feet and in each other's arms, lips locked together. Passion igniting inside him, Daniel claimed Egeria's mouth completely, hungrily delving into its depths as she did the same, neither of them having the power nor the desire to stop.
Taking two quick strides across the room, Daniel pressed Egeria up against the wall where the security camera could not see them. He slammed his hand against the button that would shut the door, assuring that no passerby would see them either.
Egeria felt like she was on fire, her whole body alight with the glorious pleasure of Daniel's mouth on hers, their bodies so close together. For so long she had wanted this again, for so very, very long. She wanted to feel him naked against her, his body deep inside hers.
That need taking control, Egeria lifted her right leg and wrapped it around his hip. She ground her pelvis into his, excitement quickening inside her at the feeling of him hardening against her.
Daniel gasped, tearing his lips from Egeria's. Every shred of common sense that he owned was telling him that this was a really bad idea, that someone could open that door and walk in on them at any second.
Those thoughts skittered away to a far corner of his brain when one of Egeria's hands went under his T-shirt and started playing with a nipple at the same time as her lips began traveling up his neck, her tongue teasing his skin. As that tongue slid around the shell of his ear, then delved inside, a convulsive shudder passed through Daniel's body.
Giving up the fight, he lowered his mouth to her neck as his right hand found its way under her blouse, the fingers dancing over her ribs. His touch wrenched a low moan from her throat. Wanting more, she reached under her top and guided his hand up to her breast, pushing his fingers under the bra. He cupped the softness, a thumb gliding over the hardened peak. His other hand was now under her skirt and curved over her bottom, holding her lower half tight against his.
It was at that precise moment that reality quite rudely interrupted them in the form of Daniel's ringing telephone. They both stilled. As the phone continued to ring, their eyes met. Then, very reluctantly, they separated.
Daniel picked up the phone, clearing his throat before answering the call, hoping that whomever was on the other end didn't ask why he sounded out of breath. That person proved to be General Hammond's aide with a request for Daniel to come to the general's office.
"I'll be there in a few minutes," the archeologist said. He replaced the receiver, then just stood there, trying to get his body to calm down, particularly a certain part of it. His efforts were thwarted by Egeria coming up to him and running her fingertips down the nape of his neck.
Daniel let out a tortured groan. "Egeria, I have to go to Hammond's office, and I can't do it in the condition I'm in right now . . . and you're not helping by doing that."
The black-haired woman's lips curved into a sultry smile. She leaned forward and murmured into his ear, her breath sensuously caressing it. "Would you like me to leave?"
"Yes . . . no. I-I mean. . . ." He groaned again. "God, Egeria. You're driving me crazy."
The former Tok'ra queen's tone dropped in pitch. "And is that a good thing, my Daniel?"
Unable to stop himself, Daniel turned around and crushed her against him, taking her mouth in a hard, hungry kiss. He broke it after just a few seconds and very purposefully put a few feet between them.
"You need to get out of here," he said, his voice roughed by restrained passion.
Seeing the desire blazing like blue fire in Daniel's eyes made a quiver pass through Egeria's body, heat flashing like lightning from her head to her toes. She wanted to drag him to her quarters, tear the clothes from their bodies, and make love with him her over and over again. But that would have to wait.
"As you wish," she said with a little smile playing around her lips. "I will be in my lab when you return."
After she was gone, it was easier for Daniel to regain control of his body and settle down. Once he was presentable enough for public viewing, he headed to the general's office.
"Sorry it took me so long, sir," he said. "I was . . . tied up with something."
"That's all right, Doctor Jackson. SG-21 just dialed in from P3L-997. They're ready to start moving the inhabitants through the Stargate to their new home, but there's a problem. The people are getting scared and don't want to leave. Major Smithson thought that you might be able to convince them to go since they came to trust you when you were there."
Daniel sighed silently, his plans for a date with Egeria tomorrow night going down in flames. Pushing that thought out of his mind, he concentrated on the situation on P3L-997. Its moon was in a decaying orbit and would very likely eventually crash into the planet. Long before then, the world would no longer be able to sustain human life. As it was, it was already being ravaged by severe weather, earthquakes and flooding. When SG-1 went there over a month ago, they'd come to the realization that the inhabitants needed to be moved. The SGC spent weeks trying to find a suitable planet for them.
"When do they want me?" he asked.
"Tomorrow. Because of the time difference, you'll have to leave before dawn." General Hammond gave him a sympathetic look. "I am sorry about this. I know that you must be tired from your previous mission, and I am aware that you were planning on taking the next two days off. Unfortunately, as you already know, it will take several days to get all the people through the gate."
"I guess my days off will just have to wait, sir. Right now, the important thing is getting those people off that planet."
Back in his office, Daniel sat down heavily in his chair.
'Crap,' he cursed voicelessly.
"Wow. Now that's a morose look if ever I saw one."
Daniel looked up at Sam, who was coming into the room. "Yeah, well, I'm entitled," he groused.
"Why? What happened?"
He told her about what was going on. "This, of course, means no date tomorrow and no days off. I know I shouldn't be whining. Getting those people off P3L-997 is important. I was just . . . really looking forward to this." 'Even more so now than I was before Egeria and I nearly had sex right here in this office,' he silently added.
"Daniel, it's perfectly understandable that you'd be disappointed. Does Egeria know yet?"
"No, I just got back from talking to Hammond. I know that she's going to be disappointed, too. I hadn't asked her about the date yet, but, well. . . ."
"She's going to hate that you'll be gone again for several days."
"Yeah." Daniel got to his feet. "But putting off telling her isn't going to accomplish anything, so I'd better go do it now."
When Daniel entered Egeria's lab, the smile she gave him wasn't like her previous happy-to-see-you smiles. No, it was a sensual, come-hither smile that would have any unmarried, heterosexual male over the age of twelve wanting to take her someplace extremely private and find out how quickly clothing could be removed.
'Oh, shit,' Daniel said in his mind, wanting very, very much to do that very thing. Swallowing to wet his parched throat, he said aloud, "Something's come up."
Daniel was right about Egeria being disappointed, but she was also worried.
"Conditions on the planet must be quite dangerous," she said.
"Yeah, but, if it doesn't take me long to talk them into leaving, there should be no problem with getting everyone off the planet before things get too bad. The biggest danger right now is flooding. The lower elevations are already underwater. We'd have gotten everyone moved long before now, but it took us a while to find a suitable planet to move them to."
Egeria took his hand. "You will be careful, will you not?"
Daniel gave her a smile, wanting so desperately to kiss her. "I'll be careful. I promise." He let go of her hand. "I should go. There are some things I need to get done before I leave in the morning. I'll be leaving before dawn, so I'll say goodbye to you tonight."
Daniel crammed in as much work as he could that afternoon, knowing that the pile would be even higher by the time he got back. Jack stopped by once to tell him to be careful and stay dry. Though the archeologist had every intention of doing the former, the latter would be quite impossible.
That evening, Daniel had dinner with Egeria in the commissary, mostly sharing small talk. Afterwards, they walked together to their quarters. Outside the door of hers, he wished her goodbye, telling her that he'd be going to bed early so that he could get enough sleep. He didn't think he was going to get much sleep regardless, but she didn't need to know that.
Daniel was turning to leave when Egeria caught his arm, causing him to turn back to her. And then, all at once, they were kissing. It was not a hungry, heated kiss like the others had been. This one was slow, and deep, and very thorough.
"Come to my bed," Egeria whispered after their lips had separated.
Daniel came oh so close to giving in, but he managed to hold firm. "I can't, Egeria, not tonight. You must know how much I want to, but, when that happens, I want to have the whole night with you, not just a couple of hours."
She stroked his cheek. "Yes, you are right. I must be patient."
They separated and entered their separate quarters, Daniel wondering if he would get any sleep tonight at all.
Daniel now knew what it felt like to be a drowned rat – well, except for the fact that he wasn't a rat and hadn't actually drowned. But, other than that, it probably felt just like this.
Things did not go well on P3L-997. In fact, the words "complete disaster" summed it up quite nicely. When he arrived, he found the human inhabitants all huddled in their houses and the leader of SG-21 trying to convince the city elders that things were not going to get better, and they couldn't stay there, no matter how scary the thought of uprooting their entire civilization to a strange planet might be. Daniel sat down with the elders and within around an hour had managed to reason with them. He had believed that everything would go well from then on . . . that was until the weather suddenly got a whole lot worse, the rain pouring down so hard that it felt like you were standing under a waterfall.
Realizing that the evacuation timetable had just been dramatically shortened, Daniel and SG-21 began hustling people through to their new homeworld, not an easy task because of the rain and almost perpetual darkness.
They'd managed to get most of the people evacuated when the Stargate abruptly stopped working, thanks to a virus created by Doctor Jay Felger as a weapon against the Goa'uld. The situation got progressively worse in the long hours that followed, the flood waters eventually forcing everyone to abandon the city and move to higher ground. By the time the problem had been fixed, the water level at the gate was a foot deep. By the time they got the last of the inhabitants through, it was three feet deep, and the seismic activity was creating deadly waves that almost resulted in several drownings and did result in quite a few injuries. Because of this, everyone was sent through to the Alpha Site instead of the new homeworld so that the injuries could be treated.
As Daniel sat on the bench in the locker room, a wave of exhaustion washed over him. He stared at the shoes that he'd been in the process of putting on, feeling too tired even to bend over to get them.
In the next moment, the archeologist found himself engulfed in a tight embrace. And then someone's lips were on his. He pulled Egeria tighter against him and returned the kiss.
"I was so very worried about you," she said after their mouths had separated. Her eyes passed over his body. "Are you injured?"
"Nothing more serious than a few bruises. I'm just really tired."
"You must get some rest, then."
"Yeah, I will after the debriefing." Daniel looked around, seeing that they were alone. "Um . . . you are aware that this is the men's locker room, aren't you?"
Egeria smiled. "Yes, I am aware of that." Her smile turned coquettish. "Imagine my disappointment to find you fully clothed."
Even as tired as he was, that made him laugh. He kissed her softly. "I think I hear a couple of showers running, so you'd better get out of here before someone who isn't fully dressed comes out."
Smiling again, Egeria gave him another kiss and told him that she'd see him in the morning.
All during the debriefing, Daniel was fighting to remain alert. He wasn't the only person in that condition. Every member of SG-21 was equally as tired, none of them having gotten more than a few hours of sleep over the last four days.
Seeing that the five men desperately needed some rest, Hammond called an end to the debriefing, telling them to go get some sleep.
Daniel recalled only a portion of his trip to his quarters, covering most of the distance in a mental fog. He took off his boots, pants and BDU shirt and crawled under the covers in his boxers and T-shirt. Two minutes after his head hit the pillow, he was asleep.
Daniel woke up the next morning famished, not having eaten since the previous afternoon. Once he was showered and dressed, he went across the hall and knocked on Egeria's door. She opened it and greeted him with a kiss that made him very tempted to forgo breakfast and satisfy another hunger. He quickly squashed that thought. He invited her to join him for breakfast, and she readily accepted.
They'd been eating for a few minutes when Sam joined them, followed ten minutes later by Jack and Teal'c. As everyone ate, Daniel learned all about the adventures his two male teammates had while they were stranded off-world, an adventure that ended with them acquiring an Al'Kesh, which they flew back to Earth, arriving late last night. Sam then filled Daniel in on the whole thing with the Avenger virus and why all the gates were affected.
"Enough about that," Jack finally said. "I don't want to talk about that idiot Felger anymore. So, I assume everyone's going to the Fourth of July picnic tomorrow."
"Fourth of July picnic?" Egeria repeated.
"Tomorrow is one of our national holidays," Daniel explained. He told her the purpose of the holiday.
"The SGC throws a big picnic every year," Sam told her. "This year, it's being hosted by General Hammond."
"There'll be hotdogs and hamburgers, kids running all over the place, and an all-around good time," Jack said.
"It sounds delightful," Egeria responded.
"Yes, and just wait until you see the fireworks."
After breakfast, Daniel went off to write his report. When he turned it into the general, the man gave him a smile.
"I trust that you got plenty of rest," Hammond said.
"Yeah, I slept straight through the night."
"That's good. While you're here, I have something to discuss with you. Egeria has requested that, once she finishes her present task of giving us information on the items on that list, she be assigned to a position on your staff."
Stunned, Daniel stammered, "S-she did?"
"Yes. She feels that her extensive knowledge of the Goa'uld language would be of great benefit to the Linguistics Department."
"Yes, she's right, it would, but I was just planning on having them go to her when there was a translation that no one else could handle. I mean, I should imagine that there will be times when Sam will be wanting her help, too."
The general nodded. "One of the reasons why I'm bring this up is that I am aware that your relationship with Egeria is perhaps more than that of just friends."
Daniel shifted his position in the chair, feeling a little embarrassed. "Oh. Um . . . yeah. You're . . . you're right about that."
"Though, as civilians, it is not against regulations for you to be involved, there would be some concerns if Egeria was a member of your staff since one of your duties is to write their evaluations."
"And there would be some question of my objectivity with Egeria."
"I understand, General. I'll have a talk with her. I do agree that it would be better for her not to be officially assigned to the Linguistics Department."
After leaving the general's office, Daniel went to Egeria's lab.
"Hi. Um, we need to talk," he said.
"Is there a problem?"
"General Hammond told me about your request to be put on my staff."
Egeria studied his expression. "You do not want me on your staff?"
"Uh . . . okay, how do I say this?" Daniel grabbed a chair and wheeled it over to her. "Egeria, I would love to work with you, and I can definitely foresee us doing that in the future, but I wouldn't want you to be on my staff. I wouldn't want that superior/subordinate relationship between us. I want us to be equals both in our personal lives and in our working relationship. Can you understand that?"
Egeria smiled. "Yes, I can."
"Then you're not upset?"
"No, Daniel. You are wise to want it that way. However, I still wish to have my workroom on the same level as yours."
"I should be able to arrange that. There is one unused office just a couple of doors down from mine."
"Excellent. May we go see it?"
They ascended to the next level up, and Daniel led Egeria to the empty office. She looked around, seeing that it appeared to be just about the same size as Daniel's.
"This will do quite well," she said.
"Okay, then I'll see about getting you moved here, that is unless you want to wait until after you're finished with your present project. This room is a lot smaller than your present lab."
"I do not need a great deal of space. I can work as well here as where I am now."
Egeria headed for the door, but, instead of going out, she closed it. Two seconds later, her lips were on Daniel's. Taken by surprise, it took him a brief moment to respond, but then he did so wholeheartedly. It was quite some time before they came up for air.
"I want to take you on a date," Daniel said.
Egeria smiled. "A date? Is that not a form of courtship?"
He returned the smile. "Yes, it is."
"And what manner of things are done on a date?"
"Oh, lots of different things are done on dates. As for our date, I plan on taking you to a romantic restaurant, perhaps go dancing."
"I do not know how to dance. There was never a reason to learn."
"Then I'll teach you. Slow dancing is easy. I'm sure you'll learn in no time."
"I would like that very much." Egeria began placing kisses on Daniel's neck, making his respiration quicken. "What happens after the date?" she asked in a silky tone.
"That's entirely up to the couple, anything from a good-night kiss on the cheek," he ran his hand down her body and pulled it tighter against his, "to a whole lot more."
"Mmm. I think, my Daniel, that our date will not end with merely a good-night kiss."
Daniel looked in her eyes, seeing desire burning in their depths. "Yeah, I think so, too." He took her mouth in a deep, passionate kiss that left no doubt in either of their minds how far things would progress at the end of their date.
"And when is it that we are going to go on this date?" Egeria asked as she ran her fingertips up and down Daniel's arm. "I would very much like it to be tonight."
Daniel's expression sobered. "I would like that as well, Egeria, but . . . there's something I need to do tonight."
Seeing a hint of sadness in his eyes, Egeria asked what it was that he had to do. What he told her made all thoughts of their date leave her mind. She was saddened by the story of yet another loss in his life.
"Do you wish me to be with you?" she asked.
"No, but thank you for offering." He gave her another kiss. "I need to get back to work. I have to earn all that money they pay me, you know." He smiled. "Actually, so do you, now."
They moved apart, and Daniel opened the door. He accompanied Egeria to the elevator.
"I'll talk to Hammond later about moving you to that office," he told her.
Egeria nodded. She searched his eyes. "You will be all right tonight?"
"I'll be fine, Egeria. Don't worry."
The elevator doors opened, and Egeria got on. After the doors had closed, Daniel returned to his office, his mind on what he would be doing tonight.
Daniel dialed the familiar number. The call was answered after the first ring.
"Ah, Daniel. I have been waiting for your call."
"How are you doing, Mrs. Rothman?"
"Oh, well enough, I suppose. The arthritis acts up more these days. I had to get hearing aids a couple of months ago. Take my advice, Daniel. Stay young as long as you possibly can. Getting old is such a bother."
Daniel smiled. "I'll try."
"So, how are you doing? Have you got a girlfriend yet?"
The archeologist's smile widened. "Are you aware that you ask me that question every time we talk?"
"Of course I do. I'm a Jewish grandmother. I want you to get married and have a house full of children who will call me Bubbe when I come to visit."
Daniel laughed outright. "Well, as it so happens, I do have a girlfriend now."
"Oh, how wonderful! What's her name? What is she like?"
"Her name is Egeria, and she's fantastic. She's smart, beautiful, compassionate. I could go on and on about her, but I'll stop right there."
"Do you love her?"
"I am so pleased, Daniel. You simply must come visit me and bring her with you."
"That would be great, maybe sometime during the holidays."
"I will look forward to it."
A moment of silence fell between them.
"It is hard to believe that it's been three years," Mrs. Rothman said, sorrow now in her voice.
"My daughter wanted me to go to her place today. She doesn't like it that I'm here alone on this day."
"You should have gone, then."
"No, I knew you'd be calling. You promised that you would this anniversary."
"I am really sorry that I didn't call last year. I would have if it had been possible."
"I know, Daniel. I understand why you couldn't explain everything to me when you called last April, but I know that whatever it was that you were doing, it was something important. You are a good boy, just like my Robert was."
Daniel felt his throat begin to tighten.
"He admired you a great deal, you know. Back when he was your research assistant, he used to talk about you. He said that you never talked down to him. You always treated him as an equal. He appreciated that."
"He wasn't just my research assistant, Mrs. Rothman. He was also my friend."
They talked about Robert, sharing memories of the man who had been Daniel's friend, yet another person he cared about who was lost because of the Goa'uld. His mother, of course, did not know the truth about her son's death. As far as she knew, he had died in an explosion at work that incinerated everything in the room, a necessary cover story to explain why there was no body for her to bury. Robert's body had, indeed, been incinerated, cremated to destroy both it and the Goa'uld that had been inside him when he died.
"Well, I suppose I should be going off to bed now," Mrs. Rothman said, "and you should, too. It's an hour later for you. Will you be doing something special for tomorrow?"
"Not really, just the usual picnic."
"And what about your birthday? Anything special planned for it?"
"That I don't know. Jack and the others have been suspiciously silent about what they're planning. It just better not be something excruciatingly embarrassing."
Mrs. Rothman laughed softly. "I've sent you a card, of course. You should get it soon."
"Take care, Daniel. And please do make plans to bring your sweetheart here for a visit."
"I will. I promise. Good night, and you take care, too."
Daniel hung up the phone. For a while, he remained where he was, thinking about Robert and what his friend might have had to say about Egeria. Daniel suspected that he would have liked her.
Getting up from the chair, Daniel began getting ready for bed, turning his thoughts away from the past and to the future.