The repository was gone, on its way to Area 51 under heavy guard, no one willing to take the chance that the people behind Daniel's kidnapping would try to steal it.
Daniel was now looking at all the things he did while under the influence of the Ancient knowledge. Since he'd have no hope of making head nor tales of the schematics, math equations, formulas and other such things, he was focusing on the text he'd written, translating everything into English.
Sam came walking in. "How's it going?"
"Good. How about you? Figure out anything yet?"
"Oh, I'm making headway on some of the math. We're considering building some of the things you drew schematics for. The guys at Area 51 are just about drooling over that and the programs you wrote on the computer. The formulas are trickier. It isn't exactly safe experimenting with a chemical formula when you have no idea what it does."
"Yeah, you wouldn't want to blow anything up or poison someone."
"We're going to have some chemists take a look at them." Sam shook her head. "It really amazes me how much you did in such a short time. I wouldn't have thought it was humanly possible."
"To be honest, there were times when I wasn't exactly feeling human. It was . . . pretty terrifying at times."
Sam looked at his monitor screen. "You getting all that stuff translated?"
"Yes, but some of it still doesn't make sense, like this here." He pointed at the screen.
Sam read it. "Praclaurus Taonas."
"According to my Medieval Latin dictionary, the best translation I can come up with is 'lost in fire'."
"What's lost in fire?"
"I have no idea."
Sam suddenly thought of something. "Wait a minute. Aren't you under medical orders not to work today?"
"Yeah. I, um, sort of begged Janet to rescind that order. I told her I'd go nuts if I just sat around and did nothing today, and Jack doesn't want to let me off the base until the repository is at Area 51. I think he's a little paranoid that the people behind the kidnapping might try again. I pointed out that, considering what happened, they would have to be idiots to try it again, but he insisted."
"I can understand that. We were all worried sick about you, especially after Thor told us that it was unlikely that you'd survive more than twenty-four hours." Not wanting to dwell on that, Sam smiled. "Well, I'll let you get back to what you were doing. Don't work too hard, okay?"
"I'll try not to."
It turned out that Egeria had no intention of letting Daniel work hard that day. After lunch, she insisted that he take a long break and dragged him back to his quarters. She gave his neck and shoulders a massage, which felt wonderful. She then headed off to the bathroom, telling him she'd be back in a moment.
She'd been in there a couple of minutes when Daniel called out, "I really should get back to work, Egeria. I want to finish translating that text from the warehouse. There might. . . ."
Daniel's voice trailed off in a little gasp as Egeria exited the bathroom. What she was wearing was not one of the items of lingerie that she modeled for Daniel, which made complete sense since the white fabric was quite sheer and left absolutely nothing to the imagination.
Daniel's respiration climbed as his eyes ran over Egeria's form, his body instantly starting to react to the sight. She slowly walked toward him, a little smile on her face. When she reached him, she climbed up onto the bed and straddled his lap.
"So, my Daniel," she purred as she ran a hand up and down his chest. "Do you still wish to return to work?"
"Not on your life," Daniel wholeheartedly answered as he yanked Egeria's mouth to his.
Quite some time later, the two lay satiated and intertwined amidst a tangle of sheets, their clothing scattered about the room. The sheen of perspiration on their bodies testified to the energy they'd expended during their intense love-making.
"You know, we really shouldn't be doing this here on base in the middle of the day," Daniel remarked. "It's kind of risky."
"Perhaps, but what is life if you do not take risks every now and then? Besides, if you had followed Doctor Fraiser's original edict, you would not be working today." Egeria's expression became serious. "I could not wait until tonight to feel your body within mine, to feel you alive and vital in my arms."
Daniel realized that this had to do with what happened to him.
"Egeria. . . ."
"I almost lost you, Daniel. As you lay dying on that floor, I wished that you had never saved my consciousness, for, if you had not, then those men could not have used me to force you into doing something that was taking your life."
"Shhh. Don't say that, Egeria. This was in no way your fault. Even if you hadn't been there, they would have figured out a way to get me to do what they wanted, maybe by kidnapping Sam or somebody else I care about." Daniel pulled her close, tucking her head under his chin. "I was scared, too. I kept thinking about what would happen if I died. Those people would have been responsible for my death, and they'd have known that Jack, Sam and Teal'c wouldn't have rested until they were caught. You would have been a witness, able to identify them. They couldn't have let you live."
"I love you so very much, Daniel," Egeria murmured. "You are my life."
"I feel the same way, Egeria. I want to spend my life with you. I want to marry you."
The instant the words were out if his mouth, Daniel froze. 'Oh, crap. Did I just say that aloud?' The look in Egeria's wide eyes as she lifted her head and looked at him confirmed that he had.
"I-I-I'm sorry, Egeria," he stammered. "I didn't mean that. I-I mean, I do mean it, but I didn't mean to say it. I know that—"
The rest of his sentence was quite effectively cut off by Egeria's mouth on his.
"Yes, I will marry you," she said after releasing his lips.
"But, Egeria, we've only been together for—" Another kiss silenced his words yet again.
"Yes, I will marry you," the former queen repeated after breaking the second lip lock.
"But—" When she dove in for a third kiss, Daniel managed to block her with his hand. "Let me say this. Please." He took her hands and held them between his as he gazed into her eyes. "I love you with all my heart. I want to spend the rest my life with you, and I know that will never change. But marriage is a big step. We shouldn't rush into it. When I married Sha're, I really didn't have a say in the matter. I didn't even know we were married until the next day." He brushed his fingers over her cheek. "I do want to marry you. That wasn't a lie. But I don't want it to be a hasty decision we make because we've just been through an emotional, traumatic experience. It's too important for that. Can you understand what I'm saying?"
"I understand your words, Daniel, but you must understand something as well. When I fell in love with you over two thousand years ago, I wanted you to be forever at my side. I wanted you to be my husband and my king, to rule Estrania with me. For me, the thought of marrying you is not something new. It is a part of the hopeless dream I had for all those years." She cupped his cheek. "I understand if you need time, Daniel, for, compared to me, you are new to these feelings, but I need no time. I would marry you tomorrow and never regret it for a single instant."
Daniel stared into her eyes. "You would, wouldn't you."
"Yes." She smiled at him. "I will wait for you to decide when the time is right for you, but know that, from this moment on, in my heart, we are already betrothed."
An hour later, Daniel was back in his office, but he wasn't working. He was restlessly moving about, never sitting for more than a few minutes. Shortly after making her declaration, Egeria had dozed off, and he just laid there, thinking about what she said. He could see things from her point of view. She'd loved him for centuries, so it didn't really matter to her that they'd been a couple for such a short while. He was the one with the issues.
So, what exactly were his issues? It's not that he thought that, if they got married, he'd regret it later on. He knew that he wouldn't. He wholeheartedly believed that their marriage would be a happy one. Oh, he had no illusions that it would always be smooth-sailing. Their little tiff last week proved that there would be arguments. That was inevitable when two strong-willed people were in a relationship. But he felt confident that they would always be able to work out their differences.
The real problem was the speed at which it was happening. When he and Sarah started dating, she pushed the relationship forward very quickly even though he had wanted to take things more slowly. She was also a little hung up on anniversaries, insisting that they should celebrate each monthly anniversary of their first date. When he forgot on the second one because he was busy working, she was furious and broke off the relationship. After that, he vowed that, the next time he got involved with a woman, things would be taken more slowly.
But then the events on Abydos happened, and he suddenly found himself married without having had the luxury of consenting to the marriage or even getting to know the woman first. He never regretted being married to Sha're and would happily have spent his life with her, but he sometimes wished that he'd had the opportunity to go through the courtship process first. And he would like to have had a ceremony of some kind rather than her just coming to his tent and starting to take off her clothes.
So, here he was now, having inadvertently proposed to a woman he'd been dating for only five weeks, a woman who had come back into his life not much more than two months ago. He didn't want everything to be rushed like it was with Sarah and Sha're, yet, at the same time, he already knew that marriage to Egeria was what he wanted, and she had made it clear that she was ready to marry him now. He really didn't know what he should do.
Daniel's gaze went to the telephone. He stared at it for several seconds before picking it up and dialing a certain number, not really expecting an answer. He was quite surprised when the phone was picked up.
"Jack?" he said, his surprise in his voice.
"Yes. Why do you sound so surprised? It is my office that you called."
"Yes, but you're rarely there."
"I had some paperwork to do, and it's a little crowded in the commissary right now."
"So, why are you calling my office?"
"I, um . . . I need some advice." When the announcement was greeted with utter silence, he thought that the call had been disconnected. "Are you still there?"
"Yeah. I just had to pick myself up off the floor."
Not appreciating the remark, Daniel said, "Never mind. I should have known this was a bad idea."
"No, go ahead and. . . . Daniel?" Realizing that the archeologist had hung up, Jack cursed and replaced the receiver. He shouldn't have said what he did. He'd heard the tension in Daniel's voice, but just couldn't resist getting in a little barb. For the first time in his memory, his best friend had freely come to him for advice, and he blew it. So, what was he going to do now?
Jack left his office and went straight to Daniel's. He found his friend typing on the computer furiously, a deep frown on his face.
Daniel started violently, turned to him, then looked away.
"I shouldn't have said that," Jack told him. "I was being an ass."
"So, what else is new?" Daniel muttered.
Jack came further into the room. "Okay, I guess I deserve that." He grabbed a chair and pulled it over to the desk. "You wanted my advice. Well, I'm here to give it, if you're still willing to talk to me."
Daniel was silent for a long moment. "I just proposed to Egeria."
Jack blinked. "You really don't believe in long courtships, do you."
"It wasn't intentional. It just came blurting out of my mouth. Proposing to her was most definitely not something I was planning on doing. After I said it, I tried to take it back."
"You . . . tried to take it back?"
"Well, no, not really. I didn't actually try to take it back. Of course I didn't. I told her that I meant it, but that it was too soon, that marriage wasn't something to be rushed into."
"This coming from the guy who married a girl three hours after he met her." The glare Daniel shot him told Jack that the archeologist was not amused. "Go on."
Daniel told Jack what Egeria said to him.
"So, now, you don't know what to do," Jack guessed. "Egeria's all rarin' to walk down the aisle with you, but your logical self is telling you that it's way too soon for that."
Daniel sighed. "Pretty much."
"And yet you were being sincere when you said that you wanted to marry her."
"Okay, so let me ask you this. Let's say that you flew off to Vegas tomorrow and got hitched. Would you regret it later on?"
"Yes," Daniel replied. "Not the marriage itself, but, yes, I'd regret doing it like that. I know that a lot of people do that, but, to me, it would . . . cheapen it somehow."
"You want the whole ball of wax, wedding dress and tux, a couple hundred guests, a reception where you mash cake into each other's faces."
"Not the cake mashing part, no."
"But all the rest."
"Yes, I guess I do."
Jack thought about that. "Interesting role reversal going on there. It's usually the woman who wants the big wedding and the guy who'd be happy to skip all that and elope."
"Is that the way it was for you and Sara?"
"Yep. At one point, I was certain that we were going to get hopelessly buried under all the things that needed doing for the wedding, and I almost got down on my knees and begged her to elope instead."
"But you didn't."
"No, because I knew how important the wedding was to her. As you can see, I survived the planning and preparation stage, though I may have lost some of my sanity in the process."
"Okay, so what do you think I should do? Listen to my common sense and wait or do what Egeria wants and not wait?"
"Well, let's look at the pros and cons for tossing out common sense and not waiting. Pro. Egeria can move into your house right away, and you guys won't have to be quiet anymore while having sex."
Jack's blunt comment made Daniel's cheeks color.
"Con. If you ran off to Vegas and eloped, Carter would string you up for cheating her out of being at the wedding, that is unless you invited me and her along."
Daniel stared at him. "Sam and you?"
"Hell, yes. You try getting married without me there, and I'll hurt you severely."
Daniel smiled slightly at the comment. "And Teal'c?"
"Oh, there's no question that he'd have to be there, too. He'd give you the frown of death if he wasn't."
"Okay, so the elopement has now turned into a service with a best man, a maid of honor and a groomsman."
"And a bridesmaid," Jack corrected. "If you didn't invite Fraiser, she'd do all kinds of horrid things to you after you got back."
"And you can't leave Cassie out."
"No, of course not. She's too old to be the flower girl, though."
"General Hammond would probably be quite hurt if he wasn't invited, and do I really have to go into what Catherine would say if you didn't invite her?"
"Catherine doesn't even know about Egeria yet, Jack," Daniel told him.
"Doesn't matter. She wouldn't speak to you for six months if you went off and got hitched without inviting her."
"All right. The count is now up to seven people there besides me, Egeria and the minister. It's sounding a lot less like an elopement and more like a regular wedding."
"No, with a regular wedding, there's the cake, the flower arrangements, the food, agonizing over who to invite and not invite, sending out invitations and waiting for all the RSVPs, the dresses, the tuxes . . . and going into debt for the next five years."
"I stand corrected," Daniel said. "You're making a great case for elopement, Jack. Or would it be semi-elopement?"
"Semi-elopement? Is there such a thing?"
"The elopement has seven other people so far. Sounds pretty semi to me."
"You do have a point," Jack conceded.
"Can we get back to the pros and cons now?"
"Sure thing. Now, where were we? Pro or con?"
"Okay, pro, then. No, wait. Let's go with a con. I think not having to deal with all that stuff I mentioned is definitely on the pro side. Con. You wouldn't have a big photo album of wedding pictures to show your kids and grandkids. I got particular enjoyment out of showing Charlie the photo of Sara's Uncle Ralph doing a face plant into the potato salad after tripping over her wedding gown."
"Egeria doesn't have an uncle, or at least not one who would be showing up at the wedding."
"God, Daniel. Don't get my brain started on thinking about a bunch of Goa'uld relatives dropping in unexpectedly for the free food and booze at the reception. That is just plain terrifying."
"And, no, all her kids can't come either," Jack stated firmly.
"Don't you think that some of them might be a little put out if we don't even invite them?"
"Okay, you can invite Jacob and maybe Aranae, but that's it."
Daniel's eyebrows went up a tad. "Jack?"
"Whose wedding is this?"
"Yours, of course. Have you forgotten already?"
Daniel just stared at him.
It occurred to Jack what the reason for the stare was. "Okay, fine. If you're determined to send invitations to all the Tok'ra, then be my guest, but don't come whining to me later on when the liquor bill reaches the five figure mark."
"The Tok'ra don't drink."
"They don't? Well, that explains a lot."
Daniel rolled his eyes. "Getting off track again."
"Yes. Right. Um, pro, then. If you two are thinking about having kids, you can just dive right into making that happen, and I can say from experience that the making it happen part is oodles of fun, which is a good thing because dealing with a pregnant woman for all those months is most definitely not oodles of fun a great deal of the time."
"You just took the pro back."
"If dealing with a pregnant woman is such a nightmare, why would I want to rush into it?"
"Uhhhh . . . good point," Jack admitted. "Okay, so that was both a pro and a con. I'm losing track now."
"And I'm losing my mind."
"No, you can't do that until you're in the third month of the wedding planning."
"I think that was a pro, Jack, maintaining my sanity."
The colonel smiled. "Hey, you're right. Back to the cons, then."
"Do we have to? I'm starting to think that I'd have gotten more succinct advice from the three stooges."
"Ha ha. You're a riot, Daniel. One more con, then we're done. You wouldn't get stacks of wedding gifts. But then, since half of them would likely be toasters, that might also be considered a pro."
Daniel heaved an impatient sigh.
"No! Wait, wait, wait! I thought of another con, a real one. I couldn't throw you a bachelor party."
"And would there be a skimpily-clad woman popping out of a cake at the party?"
Jack paused. "Maybe."
"Sorry, Jack. Then that's a pro, not a con."
"Oh, you're just no fun at all, Daniel."
"I'd be marrying a woman who used to be a Goa'uld, Jack, and you think that having a skimpily-clad woman at my bachelor party would be a good idea?"
The colonel opened his mouth to say something, then really thought about what the younger man had said. "Daniel, you are a wise, wise man."
"Yep. So, are we done with the advice now?"
"I suppose so."
"That's good, because I have absolutely no idea what your advice really was."
"Too subtle for you?"
Daniel toyed with the idea of wrapping his hands around Jack's throat, but decided that, if he was going to kill the man, it would have to be from a distance so that Jack couldn't fight back.
"Okay, you really want to know what I think?" Jack asked.
"You mean to say that you actually have some advice?"
Jack ignored the remark. "Split the difference."
"Make it a short engagement and plan a very small, simple wedding. If you don't get into all the bells and whistles and keep the guest list under fifty, you can have a real wedding without the tons of headaches and months of planning. Egeria will be happy because she doesn't have to wait six months to make you her hubby, but you'll feel that you aren't cheapening anything and a bit less like you're rushing headlong into the marriage."
Daniel just sat in silence for a while, stunned that Jack had actually given him some decent advice.
"Can I ask you something?" he finally asked.
"Why the hell didn't you say that in the first place?"
"What, and pass up the only opportunity I might ever have to totally confuse you? You've been confusing me for going on seven years, Daniel. It was my turn."
Daniel's blue gaze gained a few degrees in temperature. "You might want to take out that extra life insurance now, Jack," he said, referring to a comment of the colonel's about the way that Daniel was glaring at the Marine who'd made sexually insulting remarks about him and Egeria.
"No, you can't kill me yet. I have to be your best man, remember?"
"Teal'c can be my best man."
"Oh, come on, Daniel. Teal'c wouldn't even begin to know how to throw a bachelor party."
"Well, then at least I wouldn't have to worry about any skimpily-clad women jumping out of something. Sounds good to me."
The colonel decided that a quick retreat might be a wise course of action. He got up from the chair and took a step backwards toward the door.
"Think of Egeria, Daniel," he said. "You wouldn't want her to have a jailbird husband, would you?"
"I have a genius level I.Q., Jack. I bet I could plan a murder and get away with it."
'Yes, he probably could at that,' Jack silently agreed. "Was that my name I heard being called over the P.A.? Sorry. Gotta go."
Daniel watched the grey-haired man hurry out of the room.
"I suppose I shouldn't kill him," he murmured. "I'd have to go through all the hassle of training another colonel. On the other hand, they'd probably make Sam the team leader."
That night as he and Egeria got ready for bed, Daniel's mind was on what he was about to do. He slipped under the covers with Egeria, but instead of turning off the light, he propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at her.
"There's something I want to ask you," he said.
"Oh? What do you wish to ask?"
He took her hands in both of his and looked straight into her eyes. "Egeria, mother and former queen of the Tok'ra, will you marry me?"
Realizing what the formally spoken question meant, Egeria gave him a smile of purest joy.
"Yes," she replied, nearly laughing with happiness. "Yes, I will marry you, my beloved Daniel."
Daniel pulled her into his arms and brought his lips to hers in a very long kiss.
"Now, don't get it into your head that we're going to get married tomorrow," he said as their lips separated. "I want to do this properly, with a real wedding."
"Yes, my Daniel."
"I've been giving it some thought, and I figure that a couple of months should give us enough time to plan a small, simple service."
"Yes, my Daniel."
"I don't have many friends outside of the SGC and you don't have any, so there isn't going to be a big hassle with sending out invitations. As for relatives, I have none that I'd invite, and, except for some of the Tok'ra, I think that inviting any members of your family would be a very bad idea."
"Yes, my Daniel."
The archeologist paused and looked at the woman who was now his fiancee. "Is that all you plan on saying while I spout off all these things?"
"No, my Daniel." Egeria pulled him down to lie fully on the bed, then she slid on top of him and quite purposefully ground her hips against his. He gave a little moan and clutched at her. "I also wish to ask when you will stop speaking so that I can pleasure you until you are no longer even capable of speech."
"Shutting up now," Daniel responded before pulling her mouth down to his.