“Daniel! I know you’re in there, so get over here and open the door!”
Jack’s voice jerked Daniel back into wakefulness. For a while he had been drifting in a state of semi-sleep, trying to remember why it was so important to stay awake. He knew he was supposed to be doing something else, but his head felt too foggy to try and figure it out at that moment. It was much easier to slip back into the grayness.
“Daniel, I swear, if you don’t open it right now, I’m breaking it down!” Jack shouted, once again breaking through the fog. That’s not right, Daniel thought, Jack has a key. He meant to tell Jack that, but somehow the words got lost on the way and turned into a soft sigh. He knew he should be trying harder than this; Jack would be so disappointed if he just went back to sleep, but it really was difficult. Even the effort to open his eyes evaded him, and any other movement tended to send spasms of pain pounding in his head and shooting through his chest, so it was much easier to just lie there and let himself drift away.
“Daniel!” Jack shouted again in his ‘I’m getting impatient’ voice, usually reserved for off-world when Daniel wanted to stay longer to look over some archeological find and Jack wanted to leave. Daniel twitched his leg in response to the tone, sending another spasm of pain up his spine. What he really wanted was for Jack to finally come in or go away but to stop yelling and let him sleep. Even better, he could come in and give Daniel a blanket. It was cold in there.
“All right, that’s it!” Jack shouted, “You’re about to need a new lock!” His words didn’t sound so loud anymore, and Daniel wasn’t sure if that was because he was drifting back towards the grayness or because Jack had gone quieter. He waited for the inevitable boom that always came when Jack got into this mood. When in doubt, blow things up, Daniel thought, but there were no sounds of wreckage and he felt himself drifting again.
“Ok, so I won’t break it, I’ll just use my credit card. I’m letting myself in Daniel!” Good for you, Daniel thought, trying hard to stay awake. Wasn’t he supposed to go out with Jack tonight? He had a vague recollection of some new movie Jack had wanted to see, but the details evaded him and the fog returned.
“Daniel!” Jack called again, his voice sounding less muffled but still strange, as though coming from a long distance.
“Where are you? Hey, Dan…oh shit!” Jack’s voice had broken through the fog once more and Daniel tried to open his eyes and acknowledge his friend. Concentrating as hard as he could, he thought he could make out a large blur towering over him. There were low frantic sounds coming from the blur’s direction, but Daniel could no longer make out the words. He had let his eyes close again when he felt something warm touching his face, lending him strength.
“God, Danny!” the blur whispered, and he found he could hear clearer than before. He opened his eyes, wanting to see, but all he made out was the same indistinct shape as before.
“Jack,” he tried to say, his voice so weak he was practically mouthing the word. Jack seemed to understand anyway.
“I’m here,” he said, gently with only a hint of hysteria, “Everything will be all right. Help is coming.”
“Jack,” Daniel sighed, the name barely more than a puff of air, and Daniel’s eyes slid shut once more. He could feel the warmth of Jack’s hands, one on his face and one clutching his hand tightly. Jack’s voice whispered words into his ear, the tone soft and loving, though Daniel could no longer make out what was said. Finally he slipped away back into the gray and heard and felt nothing more.
Jack stood facing the doors through which Daniel had disappeared, hardly even registering the presence of the nurse trying in a kind but firm voice to get him to take a seat in the waiting room. Moments before, he had been caught up in the blur of activity surrounding his friend. Now he stood alone in relative peace, staring at where everyone had disappeared.
“Sir!” someone shouted and a moment later Sam was skidding to a halt beside him. “Sir!” she repeated when he didn’t turn to look at her, “I just heard. What happened?” He turned away from the doors at last, looking in her general direction.
“An accident,” he whispered, “A stupid, friggin’ accident.”
“He was up on a ladder. Trying to reach the top of his bookshelf I suppose. It broke.”
“But…the blood? You’re covered in…I thought…”
Jack swallowed hard. He knew he would never forget how he found Daniel. “He landed on his coffee table. Broke the glass top.”
“Oh, God sir. Did he cut himself bad?” For the first time Jack turned and really looked at her, straight in the eyes. Her eyes were bright, her voice anxious with her need to know exactly what had happened to Daniel.
“He was impaled on two of the legs,” Jack answered her at last, and then turned away again to look towards the doors. He didn’t see them. He kept seeing Daniel as he found him, lying broken on the floor surrounded by glass. Two of the tall, thin legs had fallen to the ground with the broken glass and the other two were still standing, held upright by Daniel’s body. One had gone through his stomach. The other went through his chest. Blood was everywhere.
Sam looked at Jack as he stared into space. The nurse was still hovering, trying to get him to sit down, or maybe to go and change his shirt and wash his hands. She kept mentioning filling out some forms. Jack didn’t seem to even know the nurse was there.
“Sir…I’m sure it will be all right. Daniel will be fine,” Sam tried, hoping to break through the distant stare. He turned towards her, still not really seeing.
“Have you ever tried to give CPR to someone with a friggin’ metal rod through their chest?” he asked. Sam swallowed and shook her head. Jack turned away and spoke towards the doors. “He was just lying there, pouring out blood and I couldn’t do a thing. I couldn’t move him, couldn’t…there was so much blood.”
“Sir,” the hovering nurse said, trying to gain his attention again, “I really think you should sit down now. Maybe I can get you a nice warm drink?”
“Sir…Jack,” Sam said, taking his arm, “I’m here. Please.”
“You know, I gave him that stupid coffee table?” Jack continued, as though no one had said anything, “Supposed to be some artistic crap. Tall thin legs glued to a glass top. No frame, nothing. Nothing to stop…and how is that art anyway?” Sam could feel him shaking beneath her hand.
“Excuse me sir, miss,” the same nurse from before tried to get their attention, waving hospital forms at them. Jack didn’t respond. Sam hesitated a moment, then turned to follow the nurse.
“I’ll handle this,” she said, “And I’ll be right back, sir.” He didn’t respond and she frowned but finally took the papers. Jack was staring at his hands now. They were covered in Daniel’s blood.
Sam and the nurse turned to see Janet and Teal’c running towards them. At least, Janet was running, Teal’c was striding with large, urgent steps. He seemed to have rushed off without even taking the time to grab a hat, only having a strip of cloth tied in place that looked suspiciously like it came from his ripped shirt.
“Samantha Carter,” Teal’c greeted Sam when they finally reached them and then turned all his attention towards Jack.
“Oh, Jack,” Janet said, seeing the blood and the lost look in his eyes. Quickly assessing the situation, she took action.
“T…Murray, you go with Jack and get him cleaned up,” she said, “I’ll handle the paperwork and see if I can’t find out what’s going on.” Teal’c nodded his head in response, then turned towards a passing nurse.
“You will give us a shirt,” he told her, indicating towards his bloodstained friend. The nurse glanced towards Jack and stopped abruptly.
“Sir, do you need help, I…” she began, raking him over with her eyes trying to find the wound.
“It’s not my blood,” Jack said, the first words he had spoken to anyone but Sam.
“He requires a change of clothing,” Teal’c repeated, and the nurse glanced back towards him, a small frown of confusion on her face.
“Of course,” she answered, “I think I can find something.” She led the way and Teal’c followed, still guiding Jack by his arm. Sam hadn’t let go of his other arm and started to follow as well.
“You must stay here, Samantha Carter,” Teal’c said, “One of us must wait. We will be back soon.” Sam obediently let go of Jack’s arm, a small frown on her face. Suddenly she was alone, Janet gone with one nurse with the forms and Jack and Teal’c disappearing into a bathroom to get Jack cleaned up. Not wanting to wait by herself for news on Daniel, she decided to go after Janet. If anyone could get news fast, Janet could. And perhaps she could help her fill out some of the paperwork.
“What are you doing?”
Sam jumped guiltily away from the computer, quickly closing pages she had opened. Janet watched her, a slight frown on her face.
“I…I was just…looking,” Sam stammered.
“Those pages are supposed to be confidential,” Janet pointed out, “And I’ve already forwarded all Daniel’s records to the hospital, so I don’t see why you would need them.
“I just…I wanted to do something,” Sam tried to explain, putting a touch of anguish in her voice. Janet’s expression finally softened.
“You can help just by being here,” she said, “Go, sit with Jack and Teal’c.” Sam turned quickly, noticing for the first time that Jack was out of the bathroom. He looked much better now that he wasn’t covered in blood. He had on a blue shirt with a smiley face and the words ‘Sunshine Squad’. Teal’c had also apparently replaced his torn shirt, or perhaps he simply wanted to show solidarity, because he was wearing an identical t-shirt in pink. Jack stood up as they approached and Sam smiled at him, but he was looking at Janet.
“Have you heard anything, what’s going on?” he asked quickly. He looked like he was expecting to hear the worst.
“Well, Daniel is still in surgery,” Janet explained, “I think it may be a while yet.”
“So he’s still…I thought…he stopped breathing Janet,” Jack said, still looking lost.
“Colonel,” Sam said, taking his hand, “Jack. I’m sure you did all you could.” Even at a moment like this, she felt warmth in his presence, and she hoped he could feel comfort in hers. Instead he jerked his hand away.
“It wasn’t enough,” he growled, “I should have got there sooner. He had his door chained shut; I should have thought to use a card sooner. I should have broken down that door when he didn’t answer me.”
“O’Neill,” said Teal’c, placing his hand on his shoulder, “I do not believe you could have done any differently. If you had not shown up when you did, Daniel Jackson would be dead.”
“He’s right, Jack,” Janet said, “You did all you could. It’s up to the doctors now, and Daniel.” Jack nodded, his expression bleak. Finally Teal’c, at Janet’s suggestion, went in search of coffee and Janet went back to her post waiting on news of Daniel. Jack watched her walk away and finally sat back down. Sam sat down next to him, patting his knee. After a moment of silence and knee patting, Jack finally acknowledged her presence.
“I know our jobs are dangerous,” he said, “If we were…at work, well, I know what we face and I could handle it. But for some stupid accident, here on…in Colorado, a stupid broken ladder…I wasn’t expecting it.” Even now, Sam noted, he managed to maintain the secrecy their job demanded.
“Sir, Jack,” Sam answered, “Accidents happen. You couldn’t have done anything. I’m sorry about Daniel too; he was my best friend…”
“He’s not dead yet!” Jack barked sharply, jerking away from her touch and she felt her face flush red.
“I didn’t mean that!” she exclaimed, reaching to grab his shoulder, “You’re right. Daniel’s strong.”
“I’m sorry, Carter,” Jack said softly, “I know you wouldn’t mean that. I’m just…”
“Scared?” Sam suggested gently.
“Terrified,” he corrected. Sam swallowed and nodded, unable to find any words in the face of the devastation she read there. They sat in silence and Sam resumed her patting, thinking that perhaps she got more out of it than he did. Soon Teal’c returned with the coffee and the three of them resumed their far too familiar positions for waiting to hear news on their missing teammate.
It was several hours before Janet finally got the news she was waiting for. Sam had finally fallen asleep leaning against Jack. Teal’c was meditating. Jack appeared to be exhausted but he refused to succumb to sleep. When he saw Janet approaching he jerked upright from his tired slouch, jolting Sam awake. Teal’c opened his eyes.
“Well, the good news is Daniel is still alive and, for the moment, he’s stable,” she said. None of them looked particularly reassured by this. Sam kept blinking her eyes, trying to wake up.
“And the bad news?” Jack asked, waiting tiredly.
“Let me first say that Daniel was very lucky,” Janet said, “Neither of the legs went through any major organs.” Jack stared at her in shock.
“How is that even possible?” he asked, “One was in his chest!”
“Believe me; it’s possible,” Janet answered, “They did, however, nick one of his kidneys and a lung, which can potentially cause complications. Added to that, his back was sliced to ribbons by the glass of the table. He also hit his head pretty hard, cracking it and giving himself a nasty concussion. And he lost a lot of blood.”
“But he’ll be all right?” Jack asked, and Janet sighed.
“The next twenty-four hours will be the most telling,” Janet answered, wishing she could give something more definite, “If he makes it that long, with no new complications, then his chances are good.” Jack stared hard at her, trying to figure out if there was anything she wasn’t telling them.
“Can we see him?” Jack asked at last.
“Not yet,” she answered, “I’d suggest you go get a few hours of sleep. When you wake up, we should know something more, but knowing you, you won’t do it.” Sam yawned in response and turned to see what Jack would do. Jack stared at Janet, still trying to read her mind to see if she had said all she knew.
“More coffee,” he proclaimed at last and he stood and headed for the nearest machine. Sam yawned again and glanced at the time.
“Have we been here all night?” she asked in surprise, noting for the first time that the activity around them seemed to have increased.
“Indeed,” Teal’c remarked, “I will go and procure us some breakfast.”
“Good idea,” Janet said, knowing that left on his own, Jack would probably live on nothing but coffee until Daniel was on the mend. Left alone, Sam studied Janet in much the same way Jack had.
“So, you really think Daniel will be all right?” she asked. Janet sighed, then smiled. Sometimes faith was more important than facts.
“Yes, Sam, I really do,” she answered. Then she turned away again, pulling out her cell phone to call Hammond and update him on the situation. She missed when Sam’s answering smile changed to a troubled frown.
Jack sat next to Daniel’s bed, holding his hand gently. Twenty-four hours had come and gone. There were a few close calls, the first with his kidney and then because of an allergic reaction to some medication. Janet had been livid, finally tracing the problem to an error in Daniel’s records. In the end, though, Daniel had survived and everything was looking hopeful. Jack had finally gotten some sleep after creating a makeshift bed of couch cushions. Teal’c had resumed his meditative pose while Sam curled up at Jack’s side. In fact, Sam had hardly left his side since the entire event occurred, seeming more concerned for him than for Daniel. Not that Jack was surprised; Sam always found it easier when she could do something. She couldn’t do anything for Daniel, so she turned this burning need to act onto Jack. He understood it, but that didn’t mean he liked it, and more and more he wished she could show just a tiny bit of concern towards her ‘best friend’.
“So, Danny,” Jack whispered to the man lying upon the bed. Except for his partially shaved head and the machines, Daniel could have been sleeping. “You know, we really should get some of these cushioned chairs for the infirmary. Much more comfortable than those torture chairs they have us sitting in. Windows are a nice touch, too. No windows underground.
“Not that it means much when its night. But this way, we have the entire room to ourselves. No Sam hovering with coffee and food, no Teal’c, no nurses. Hey, here you have a whole new set of nurses to charm. Of course, the downside is that at night we have to keep it quiet. You know, they actually wanted me to leave? Something about visiting hours. But you know I’m not gotten rid of so easily. Covert Ops, Danny.
“So you just keep it quiet there, Danny. A whisper would be ok, though. You just…you gotta wake up, Love.”
Jack sighed when Daniel didn’t react. He never stopped rubbing Daniel’s hand with his fingers, wishing he could give him more.
Two days later, Jack was finally kicked out of the hospital under the theory that he needed a shower, some real food, and rest, an order that had been backed up by Janet and enforced by Hammond. Instead of going home, though, he found himself outside of Daniel’s apartment. It had seemed a good idea at the time, a way to stay close to Daniel even if he couldn’t be with him, but now that he was there he found himself hesitating to go in.
He knew that a team had been by to clean up the scene of the accident, and to check it out and find out exactly what had happened. All that had been found was what Jack had already said; the ladder had broken and Daniel had fallen. Though the break in the ladder had been slightly suspicious, it wasn’t enough to prove any form of sabotage had taken place, and even Jack had to admit it unlikely someone would break Daniel’s ladder on the off chance the fall would kill him. If he hadn’t landed on the coffee table he’d probably have gotten away with nothing more than a few bruises. So, knowing that the room was clean again, and wanting to be close to Daniel, Jack had driven to his place. He was fine until he was right in front of it, and then suddenly the fear he had felt upon first finding Daniel flooded him, rooting him to the spot.
Taking a deep breath, he let it out in a long sigh. Not wanting to turn back, knowing he would have to return to this place one day, he forced himself to get out of his truck and enter the lobby. Once inside he felt much better. Everything looked so normal, exactly the way it always did when he went to visit Daniel, that it was easier to believe that the accident was truly over. Daniel might not have woken up yet, but most of the machines had finally been unhooked and everyone seemed very confident that he would recover. Jack wasn’t going to open a door to a bloody mess. Quickly he crossed the lobby to the elevator and, entering, he pushed the button for Daniel’s floor. A few seconds later, he stepped out into Daniel’s hall.
Standing before the door, his heart started to quicken again. He swiftly pulled out his keys and opened it before the panic could overtake him and stepped inside. With a slight sense of dread, he stepped around the corner to the very spot he had first seen Daniel lying impaled, soaked through with blood. There was no blood now, or glass. In fact, the coffee table had been replaced with a nice, sturdy wooden one that couldn’t possibly break if fallen upon. Jack felt himself breathing easier. Walking quickly away from that spot, he made his way to Daniel’s bedroom.
There, he was able to feel Daniel’s presence all around him. It was calming, much more calming than his own bedroom would have been. Taking the doctor’s advice for once, he fished out some of his own clothes left in one of Daniel’s drawers from the last time he spent the night and headed for the shower. Soon feeling much refreshed, he walked around the apartment taking care of all the little things that needed to be done. Finally stopping in the kitchen he raided the fridge, going for things that were likely to be spoiled by the time Daniel came back home. Then he checked his watch, saw the alarm he had set for when he was allowed back in the hospital wouldn’t be going off for another five hours, and, after setting Daniel’s coffee machine, he headed for Daniel’s bed. Surrounded by Daniel’s smell, feeling his presence close, Jack finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
Exactly five hours later, the beeping of his watch awoke him. Groggy for a moment, he suddenly remembered what the beeping meant and was out of bed in a flash. Grabbing his discarded clothes he dressed quickly and went to the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee. Drinking deep, he took a moment to walk out onto Daniel’s balcony, looking down at the almost silent streets below. The sun hadn’t yet come up. Sighing, he leaned forward over the railing, holding the coffee firmly in his hands.
Suddenly, he felt himself falling forward, pitched down towards the distant street and only just managed to hook his arm around the railing, jerking his fall to a halt. Looking down between his feet, he watched his coffee mug shatter. Looking up, his brain finally caught up with what had happened, and he realized that, somehow, the railing he had been leaning on had swung down as though on a hinge, leaving him dangling. There was an ominous creek, and the remains of the railing swayed under his weight. Several miles away in the Memorial Hospital, Daniel suddenly opened his eyes with a gasp.
Right, thought Jack, now is not the time to panic. He was only dangling several stories above the ground, held up by a railing that threatened to fall at any moment. All he had to do was a bit of gymnastics and climb back up. He started to swing his legs, meaning to try and get them up onto the railing, but that slight motion caused the entire railing to lurch.
“Right,” he said out loud, “Movement bad. Ok, I can do the waiting thing.” The sky was lighting up and soon the road beneath him would be filled with traffic. Someone was bound to see him hanging there and call for help. Maybe someone would even miss him at the hospital when he didn’t return at the crack of dawn like he said he would. If no one else, Teal’c was there, and he would notice Jack’s absence. Of course, he might also just put it down to Jack succumbing at last to his exhaustion and getting some well needed rest. Besides, Jack had left Teal’c to watch over Daniel in his absence, and he didn’t want him leaving Daniel alone to search for him.
Thinking of Daniel’s accident, Jack couldn’t help but cry out, “Is everything in this place falling apart?! First the ladder, now the railing…”
The thought sent a cold frisson of fear down his spine. One ladder could be called an accident, but the railing as well? Jack had leaned on it loads of times and it had never given any indication that it wasn’t a solid barrier. Then Jack shifted his weight and felt the railing shuddering, bringing his thoughts abruptly back to his own predicament. All right, he thought, maybe time for plan B. The first plan being to wait until being rescued didn’t seem to be the safest bet. But he also didn’t think the railing could stand for him to climb up it. Against his better judgment, he looked downwards. Trying not to focus on the drop, he searched for something he could aim for to stop his fall. There was, in fact, another balcony almost directly beneath him two floors down.
“Ok, I can do this,” he said, “Its not far. I just swing a bit, let go, and drop right in.” Despite his words, he made no move towards loosening his grip. Suddenly, with a terrifying lurch and the agonizing sound of tortured metal, the railing gave further, swinging partly away from the wall by the few remaining bits of metal still attached to the balcony.
“Well, that makes this harder,” Jack said, watching the balcony below. Before, all he had to do practically was drop. Now, if he was going to make it, he needed an angled swing. Not only that, but the tortured metal sounds continued. The railing was about to give out completely. Having no time think over his plan, Jack began to swing, trying to pick up enough momentum. Just as he was readying his leap, there was a final tremor in the railing and then he was falling.
He felt a momentary weightlessness, had barely enough time to realize he was in trouble, when something very strong and solid grasped his arm jerking his fall to a halt. The railing continued to fall, missing the other balconies by several feet and finally clattering to the pavement far below, close to the remains of the shattered mug. When Jack finally took his eyes off the mess of metal beneath him, he looked up to see what had saved him, into the solid presence of Teal’c. He was hanging practically out of the balcony, his legs wrapped firmly around the remaining side railings, which luckily gave no indication that they were about to break.
“Hey Teal’c,” Jack said, allowing himself a grin now that the crisis had been averted.
“Colonel O’Neill,” Teal’c answered, nodding his head as though in greeting. Jack glanced back down towards the balcony he had been aiming for.
“I would have made it,” he proclaimed assuredly.
“Indeed,” Teal’c answered, raising an eyebrow, “Then should I leave you to your gymnastics?”
“No, no, well, as long as you came to all this trouble,” Jack answered, “Why don’t you pull us up?” Teal’c nodded his understanding and, straining his muscles, he managed to get them both back up onto the balcony. They both took a moment just to breathe until Jack decided he had had enough of balconies and crawled back inside. After a moment Teal’c followed and they both sat on the couch.
“I have to tell you, T,” Jack said, once he had his breath back and his heart had settled back into a more or less calmer rhythm, “I was glad to see you. Though I could have made it.”
“I am sure,” Teal’c answered, and Jack stared at him hard, trying to decide if Teal’c was serious. He decided it didn’t really matter.
“Though…why were you here?” Jack asked, “I thought I left you with Daniel. Not that I’m complaining, but…you didn’t leave Daniel alone did you?” Now that he was safe, his fear returned that the incident with the ladder wasn’t the accident it appeared, and if someone had attempted to hurt Daniel once they might try it again.
“Indeed, O’Neill,” Teal’c answered, “I was watching Daniel Jackson. It is he who sent me here.” Jack blinked.
“Sent you here? Teal’c? Are you sure you aren’t…confused?”
“I am. Only half an hour ago he awoke suddenly, most disturbed. He insisted that I must depart at once, for you were in peril. The doctors were required to sedate him.”
Jack stared at Teal’c, opening his mouth and then closing it. Finally he settled upon the one part of that story that he understood.
“Daniel woke up?” he asked.
“Indeed,” Teal’c answered, nodding his head. Jack’s elation at that news was mixed with confusion around its circumstances, and intertwined with the now ever present fear that Daniel was in danger.
“Teal’c, did you leave anyone to guard Danny while you were…rescuing me?” Jack demanded.
“Samantha Carter,” he answered, nodding in affirmative, and Jack sighed in relief. Though not as intimidating as Teal’c, he knew that she was a formidable opponent and she would not let anything harm Daniel. Still, the sense of imminent danger would not leave.
“Do you believe there to be a threat against Daniel Jackson, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked. Jack stood, frowning with concern, and deciding it was high time they returned to the hospital. Turning back to face Teal’c, he answered, “Indeed.”
Though most of the machines used to keep Daniel alive had finally been disconnected, a few were left to monitor his condition and to take care of bodily functions while he was unconscious. The beeps that indicated his heartbeat were steady now, much slower than they had been half an hour before when the doctors had felt the need to sedate him. The machine continued to beep in a steady monotone until a figure came to turn it off.
Obviously familiar with the workings of the machine, the person managed to silence it without setting off any alarms. Cold, hatred filled eyes looked down upon the sleeping man a moment longer before they turned back towards the machine, messing with the wiring. Simply leaving the machine off would be far too obvious sabotage, but a defective machine was just another tragic accident. The machine was disabled quickly and effectively then turned back on, but this time it remained silent. Smiling cruelly, the person turned back to the sleeping figure and pulled a syringe from their pocket. The contents were quickly emptied into the bag dripping nutrients into the patient’s body. None of this took longer than five minutes. Pulling off white gloves and sticking them into a pocket, the person finally left striding confidently down the hall. Back in Daniel’s room, his body started showing the first signs of distress. Two minutes later, the guard Sam had requested to stand at the door returned after his sudden, desperate break for the restroom.
Sam had, in fact, told him to sit in the room, but the prospect of sitting and watching a comatose patient hadn’t appealed to him. In fact, though he would never admit it, hospitals had always creeped him out and being forced to sit in a closed room with an unconscious patient was his idea of hell. At least in the hallway he could concentrate on the clinical conformity around him and pretend he was back in a military facility. He didn’t have a chance to stand there long before Jack and Teal’c came running down the hall. Watching a large Jaffa and a reputably deadly colonel running at him, he began to rethink his strategy of standing outside. Jack skidded to a halt in front of him, Teal’c coming to a more composed stop, and the guard stood at attention.
Jack didn’t give him more than a glance, though it was a very calculating glance and the guard suspected that, if he needed to, he could now have easily identified him in a line up even if he never gave him another look. Though Sam had instructed to let no one come in without identification until she returned, he somehow didn’t think that applied to SG1 and he let them pass without a word. As soon as the door opened, Jack turned towards him again.
“Where’s Major Carter?” he asked, his voice cold.
“An emergency came up, sir,” the guard stated, still standing at attention. Jack accepted that with a frown and then Teal’c entered the room and closed the door on the guard’s face. The guard relaxed slightly, though he didn’t let up in his stance, as he resumed his watchful post.
Inside the room, Jack stood looking down at Daniel with an almost tender expression. It was a great relief to know that he had been awake, if only for a moment, even if in the end he had to be sedated again. He wished that he could have been there, but he had to acknowledge that the only reason he was here now was because of Daniel. Teal’c too, he had to say. Who else, upon hearing the ranting of a previously comatose patient, would have taken their word at face value and gone looking for him?
“Danny,” Jack whispered softly, reaching out a hand to touch his face, then he frowned. Though he had noted the silence in the room when he first entered, it was only just beginning to register that something was wrong.
“Danny?” he asked, turning his head towards the machines that had been noisily beeping since Daniel began his stay. The machine now appeared to be off. Alarmed now, he reached for Daniel’s throat to check his pulse.
“Is something wrong, O’Neill?” Teal’c asked, also having noted the silent machines, “Should I contact help?”
“Get someone in here now!” Jack ordered. Teal’c didn’t even take the time to nod his head but moved quickly out the door. Jack found a pulse but instinctively he knew that something was wrong. The pulse was far too fast and Daniel seemed to have difficulty breathing. Not knowing what to do, he took up Daniel’s hand, hoping that somehow he could lend Daniel strength. Gently stroking his cheek, he tried to fight back his growing fear.
“Come on, Danny, hang in there,” he whispered, “You saved me, let me save you. You’ll be all right.” Then the doctors Teal’c had sent for came, followed shortly by Janet.
“Janet?” Jack asked, surprised to find here there. Janet spared him a quick smile before turning all her attention to her patient. His breathing was growing more labored and Jack was alarmed to see his lips were turning blue. Then he gave a short, gasping sigh. No breath followed.
“Danny?!” Jack cried, alarmed, as Teal’c pulled him back out of the way. There was a flurry of activity around Daniel’s body, as machines seemed to materialize from the walls. The defective monitor was wheeled away, swiftly replaced by another. The doctors talked back and forth, led by Janet, trying to get air into Daniel. The activity around him seemed to triple when an alarmed voice declared they had lost his pulse. Jack began to shake, watching them prepare the paddles as another doctor started CPR. The heart monitor was finally hooked up and turned on only to play out a flat line. The doctor’s banter continued over it, controlled yet urgent, but Jack couldn’t seem to hear them. He heard nothing but the endless hum of the machine, lurching momentarily when Janet finally applied the paddles only to return to its flat line. Then the paddles were warmed up again and applied, and this time the lurch continued, sluggishly at first and erratic, but they had a pulse. Jack suddenly felt like he could breathe again.
Janet continued tirelessly to work on Daniel and at last the activity surrounding him seemed to calm. He was declared stable once more and soon only Janet and one nurse were left. Jack felt drained, having refused to leave for any of it. Teal’c stood at his side, a solid presence that anchored him. Daniel lay pale and silent, once again hooked up to several machines to keep him alive. Jack approached his side and reached out with a tentative hand, careful of the tubing. He looked up when he heard the door open. Sam stood there, frowning slightly when she saw them. Her eyes took in the new machines and the haggard expressions and her frown deepened.
“Sir? What happened?” she asked. He stared at her, his eyes cold with fury.
“What happened?” he asked, “He almost died. Again. Where the hell were you?”
Jack sighed, having once again returned to his vigil at Daniel’s side. This time he was determined that he wouldn’t leave no matter what well meaning doctors said. The hospital had bathroom facilities and a cafeteria and he was beginning to get used to sleeping in a chair. He would manage. Besides, Daniel would be moving just as soon as Janet felt it was safe to do so.
Daniel was now guarded at all times by at least two guards and at least one member of SG1. Sam, once she finally understood what had happened during her absence, seemed to be furious with herself for leaving, even if it was to stop a potential disaster involving unstable alien technology back in her lab. She had gone white when she learned of Jack’s near escape with the balcony followed by Daniel’s flat lining, and she rarely left their side watching both him and Daniel like a hawk. Jack began to feel bad for his original words towards her; it wasn’t her fault she had to leave, and it’s not like she left Daniel alone. He had just been so angry with everything, and Sam had been an easy target. The guard she posted, however, he wasn’t about to go easy on. He had been released of his guard duty, and if Jack had his way would be court-martialed, or failing that sent to a post in Antarctica. He could understand Sam leaving, but he wasn’t about to forgive that guard. The private had finally admitted to his bathroom break after a couple of nurses mentioned seeing him leave. Neither of the nurses had noticed anyone enter who shouldn’t have been there.
Jack sighed, running his hand through his hair as he shifted in the chair, trying to get comfortable while he waited for Daniel to wake up. For the moment, he was alone except for the two guards standing outside the door. Sam and Teal’c had wanted to stay as well, but unfortunately the world does not stop just because one of them was laid up, and Jack had finally convinced Sam it was ok to go and finish dealing with the same alien technology that had originally dragged her from Daniel’s side. Teal’c had gone with her, professing concern that Daniel was not the only target and feeling that none of them should be left alone. He pointed out that so far, the attacker seemed to have intimate knowledge concerning Daniel. Anyone that well informed had to know that Daniel was unlikely to lean against the balcony rail, hence the trap was not meant for him but for one of his friends. Sam was still looking pale as they talked and Jack had agreed.
Following the third incident surrounding Daniel, Hammond had ordered extensive investigations. The balcony and the ladder had been re-examined closely, but there was still no proof of tampering. The monitor, after being inspected, showed only that it had a malfunction. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, few people now doubted that someone was responsible for all of it. Janet investigated Daniel’s latest brush with death herself and, after muttering about many possibilities, from something about renal function to something about shock, none of which Jack understood, she finally pinpointed the problem when an analysis of his drip bag came back. Along with the usual nutrients, there was a medication included that Janet claimed Daniel was allergic to. How it got into the bag wasn’t clear. None of the nurses or doctors admitted to using it. Janet started grumbling something about incompetent hospitals and their records, having found no mention of his allergy listed there and in fact saw that particular medication had been prescribed, though by who was unclear.
“So for all intents and purposes, we have no proof of foul play here. Just incompetence,” she said, “Even Private Evens’s sudden trip to the bathroom shows no certainty that it was planned. He’d been feeling ill all day. Yes, he should have mentioned that to Major Carter, but he doesn’t seem to have been poisoned, unless the attacker somehow knew he was going to be posted as a guard in the first place, and that all three of you would be gone from Daniel’s side.”
“So…if this person did in fact set that up, they have to have ties to the SGC. Sabotage Carter’s alien doohickey, mess with the balcony…though how they could know that it would play out that way…you’re right, it doesn’t make sense.”
“Sir, I really don’t think the balcony was meant for you like that,” Sam said, her voice trembling slightly, “This person clearly has it in for Daniel. You were probably a mistake.”
“We can’t assume that, Carter,” Jack insisted, shaking his head, “Especially knowing how unlikely it would be that Daniel would actually lean against that balcony.”
“Yes he has, sir,” Sam insisted, “He…well you know how he is. He wanted to get over his fear of heights. He was using it as a sort of exercise.”
“He never told me about that,” Jack said with a frown. Any time he could remember seeing Daniel on the balcony, he had always stayed back from the edge.
“He wouldn’t, sir,” Sam answered, “He didn’t mean to tell me. I just saw him one day and…asked. He seemed a bit embarrassed really.”
“So it could indeed have been meant for Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c remarked.
“But then why the ladder?” Jack asked, “I mean, they couldn’t have known how he’d fall. If I had to choose between sabotaging a ten foot ladder or a balcony that was several stories high, I think I’d choose the balcony. Doing both is bound to draw attention to the other.”
“Perhaps this person wanted this job completed quickly, O’Neill,” Teal’c suggested, “One cannot know when Daniel Jackson would use either the balcony or the ladder. Damaging both would ensure less of a wait for one or the other to happen.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t be concentrating on their methods, and try and figure out who it is, sir,” Sam suggested.
“Right,” Jack said, “The usual Earth suspects? NID? Kinsey? Disgruntled archeologists?”
“It seems to be someone with access to the SGC,” Teal’c reminded them.
“Perhaps someone who isn’t happy with civilians?” Sam suggested, “Someone unhappy working with someone who is gay?” Jack and Janet turned and stared at her, Teal’c’s own expression remaining immobile except for a raised eyebrow.
“Gay, Carter?” Jack demanded, “You think he’s gay? He had a wife, for crying out loud!” Sam’s face flushed red.
“I didn’t mean…I mean I know that. I meant, just, there is talk, you know? We know he isn’t…but not everyone believes that.”
“Who talks?” Jack asked, his eyes narrowing dangerously.
“I have not heard this talk, Samantha Carter,” Teal’c said.
“Yeah, well you wouldn’t. Who would dare say anything near you?” she asked, “But I’m smaller. Sometimes people don’t notice I’m standing there.” Jack snorted.
“If they did, I’m sure they wouldn’t dare say anything near you either. I’ve seen you in scary mode,” he remarked, then his eyes narrowed again and he said, “I want names.”
“Yes sir,” Sam said, doubtfully. Janet cleared her throat. Jack had refused to look towards her since the discussion of Daniel being gay had begun, but now everyone turned.
“Sexuality aside, is there anyone else at the SGC who might have a grudge against Daniel?” she asked. They were silent as they considered this.
“Most everyone seems to like Danny,” Jack said at last, “There might be a few who resent civilians on base, but I don’t think any would go as far as to try and kill him.”
“Perhaps it is not Daniel Jackson this person is after,” Teal’c remarked, “Everyone knows of his closeness to Colonel O’Neill.”
“You think someone is hurting Daniel to get to me?” Jack asked, going pale.
“Well then, why just Daniel?” Sam asked abruptly, “He’s close to us too. If they wanted to hurt the Colonel, why not try to kill me? Or Teal’c?” Teal’c raised an eyebrow and Sam began to redden under his gaze.
“I don’t know, maybe they think I’d be hurt more by Daniel,” Jack answered, not noticing their expressions, only concerned with the thought that someone might have hurt Daniel because of him, “Or maybe they just thought he was the easier target. Who cares why they chose him, they did!”
But no matter how long they discussed it, they were no closer to figuring it out. The best they could do was worry about security to make sure it couldn’t happen again. As soon as Daniel was well enough, he would be moved to the SGC, and in the meantime he was being constantly watched, as was every piece of equipment and medication that entered the room.
“Now you just need to wake up,” Jack said wearily, stroking Daniel’s cheek. It had been twenty-four hours since the poisoning, even longer since Jack had a chance to be alone with Daniel. He missed this contact, contact that he never dared to do when anyone else was in the room, even if that person was Janet. He knew that once they arrived at the SGC with its ever present security cameras, he would lose all chance. In the past, he might have discreetly turned a camera off, but with all the threats to Daniel’s life he couldn’t risk that. What he really wanted to do was to hold Daniel in his arms, to feel his heart beating and his chest rising and to understand that he would be all right. Failing that he did the next best thing, leaning forward to brush his lips against him, entwining their fingers together with one hand and stroking his hair.
“God, Danny,” he whispered, “Don’t scare me like that, ever again. We’ll find this person, I will kill them, and then it will be all right again.” He was silent for a long moment, all the words he wanted to say failing him.
“Carter thinks you’re gay,” he said at last, not exactly the direction he meant to go, but it had been plaguing at his mind, “I couldn’t look towards Janet during that discussion. I know she knows, though she isn’t saying. But Carter…she can’t know about us, can she?” He sighed, struggling to contain his emotions. “I know, you wanted to tell her and Teal’c ages ago, and I said we couldn’t. And she was talking about others talking. You’d have told me if someone was giving you trouble, right? God Danny, I hate seeing you hurt, and then this on top of it…” He trailed off, no longer knowing where he was going. He knew it wasn’t safe to say all of this out loud, but he so wanted to get it all out, and the person he usually confided in was the one lying sleeping on the bed.
“I love you,” Jack whispered, kissing him again, gently, and squeezed his hand. Then he started when the hand squeezed back.
“Danny?” Jack whispered, starting. Blue, unfocused eyes turned towards him. For the first time in twenty-four hours, Jack smiled.
“Dr. Jackson,” Hammond greeted as he entered his room in the infirmary. Beyond him Daniel could see two uniformed men saluting before the door closed.
“General Hammond,” Daniel answered, finding a bookmark for his book.
“So the Colonel finally left you alone for a moment?” the general asked, noting a rare absence of Jack.
“He said something about needing to catch up on some work,” Daniel answered, grinning, “But considering he’s been doing most of his paperwork in here, I think he’s been doing some investigating with Teal’c.”
“He told you?” Hammond asked, surprised. He didn’t think Jack would want Daniel worrying about threats on his life. They already knew that Daniel remembered nothing of the accident. Nor did he remember anything of his first awakening when he sent Teal’c to save Jack.
“Told me what?” Daniel asked, innocently.
“About his investigation,” Hammond answered cautiously, no longer certain what they were talking about. This often happened when he listened to Dr. Jackson, but usually that pertained to archeology, not to conspiracies.
“Jack told me nothing,” Daniel finally admitted, knowing better than to play games with the general, even if the general did like him, “Teal’c told me. At least he seemed to think I should know when someone was trying to kill me.”
“What about Major Carter?” Hammond asked. Daniel’s expression faltered, and Hammond frowned.
“Is something the matter, son?” he asked, “Hasn’t Major Carter been to see you?”
“She has,” Daniel answered cautiously, “It’s just that…she seems mad at me.”
“Has she said something to you? Done something?” Hammond asked frowning.
“No, no,” Daniel answered quickly, suddenly worried that he would get Sam in trouble with the general, “I mean, she’s just…different.”
“Well, we were worried about you,” Hammond said, thinking he had figured it out, “People react in different ways. Maybe you should talk to her about it.”
“M…maybe,” Daniel stammered, not quite looking the general in the eye.
“Don’t worry about it,” Hammond said, patting Daniel on the shoulder, “You’ll work it out. Well, I just wanted to welcome you back to the SGC. I’m glad to see you awake; you were beginning to worry us, son.”
“Thanks for stopping by,” Daniel answered, watching him open the door, only to nearly run into the very person they had been talking about.
“Major Carter,” Hammond said, “At ease.” He turned his head to raise an eyebrow, as though to say ‘see, everything’s fine’. Daniel didn’t quite meet his eye again, but the general didn’t seem to notice.
“Sorry, sir,” Sam said, standing down from her salute, “Guess I was in a hurry to see Daniel. Hey Daniel, I brought you cookies!” Hammond smiled, glad to see his team seemed to be back on track, and left.
Leaving the infirmary, he decided to check up on Jack and Teal’c as well and to rein them in case they were planning Kinsey’s or Maybourn’s deaths again. Jack seemed firmly convinced that their attacker came from one of them, though Teal’c seemed less certain. He found them in, of all places, the archeology department. Apparently Jack was making threats against Daniel’s staff should they ever again try to sneak work in to Daniel, no matter how sad Daniel looked when he asked them. Teal’c stood impassively at his side.
Deciding there were worse things they could be doing than trying to keep Daniel relaxing, he left them to it. Shortly after the general had left, Jack and Teal’c left as well, having dumped off the latest projects they had found hidden in Daniel’s room and frightened Daniel’s staff into next week. Meeting up in Jack’s office, their conversation returned to the familiar topic of who would want to hurt Daniel, or use Daniel to hurt Jack.
Jack leaned back in his chair, thankful that he had finally caught up on his paperwork. This was in part due to needing something to do while he watched Daniel sleep and in part to their lack of missions in the last couple of weeks as they were on stand down until the Earth threat against a member of SG1 could be eliminated. Teal’c sat down as well, though not nearly as relaxed as Jack. Jack was in a great mood now that Daniel was awake for long periods of time and apparently on the mend.
“I have been evaluating what we know of Daniel Jackson’s attacker, O’Neill,” Teal’c announced. That was one topic that could destroy Jack’s good mood in a heart beat. Fear for Daniel, fury at anyone who would dare to harm him, and his own complete inability to figure out who it was and kill them all made for a rather wretched mood.
“And?” Jack prompted when Teal’c did not continue.
“We believe it must be someone in the SGC, who would have access and the ability to sabotage alien technology in Samantha Carter’s lab. This person would also need to have access to Daniel Jackson’s records, and an intimate knowledge of his personal life and apartment. This person would also need the ability to sabotage Daniel Jackson’s ladder and his balcony railing, without being seen.”
“Well that’s not hard, we aren’t home a lot, T,” Jack pointed out.
“On the contrary, O’Neill,” Teal’c responded, “Gaining access to all these quarters would require the stealth to evade not only security systems but recognition by people. No one in Daniel’s apartment complex or within the hospital noticed any person out of place. Either this person is extremely formidable in stealth, or they are a person people are very familiar with and would not find suspicious.”
“You mean like a friend?” Jack asked, frowning, already evaluating SGC personnel in his head.
“Having done a search through all possible candidates, only one person fits all these categories,” Teal’c announced.
“Oh?” Jack asked, “Who?”
Daniel accepted the bag of cookies dubiously from Sam’s hands and set them down, never taking his eyes off her. He watched warily as she paced around the room, finally stopping at the chair vacated by Jack an hour earlier. Daniel hoped he would return soon. A Sam that continuously flirted with Jack and vied for his attention was preferable to a Sam who wanted to talk.
Daniel wasn’t sure what he had done, but ever since he had awoken, Sam had seemed annoyed with him. She visited him often, especially if Jack was there, which was most of the time, but in that case she always seemed more interested in visiting Jack than Daniel. That wasn’t all that different from her most recent behavior before the accident, though, and it was those rare times she came when Jack wasn’t there that really bothered him. The first time it had happened, she had bounced cheerfully into the room, noticed she was alone with Daniel, and faltered. She hadn’t stayed longer than five minutes, and most of that time was centered around asking where Jack had gone. In the end, she suddenly became happy again and skipped out.
The next few visits were less cheerful. Far from missing Jack’s presence in the room, she now seemed to be flaunting the fact that he wasn’t there. She would say things that Daniel would never have thought it in her to say, one time demanding how much of a geek you would have to be to almost kill yourself by falling off a bookshelf ladder. She questioned his worth on SG1. It wasn’t that she acted deliberately nasty, trying to pass her comments off as teasing, but Daniel could see a hard glint in her eyes that spoke of sincerity. Each time, she would leave Daniel feeling confused, upset, and vaguely guilty that he must have done something to her to get this treatment. He had thought they were friends, a team, but she was beginning to give the impression she wanted him gone.
He had thought about bringing it up with Jack, but looking back it was hard to come up with something concrete to explain his feeling. All he knew was that Sam seemed different. Besides, he didn’t want to worry Jack about it; he hoped he could solve the problem himself. This time, he decided he would do as Hammond suggested, and confront her. If he had done something to upset her, he wanted to know, and if it really was just that she was feeling upset by his accident, he wanted to know that too. He didn’t want things to continue as they were. So when Sam launched into a story about her cookies, apparently not having realized that Daniel hated peanut butter raison, he just asked her straight out.
“Sam. What have I done?” She paused mid-speech, staring at him. “I mean,” Daniel continued, “You seem angry with me. What did I do to upset you?”
“You haven’t done anything, Daniel,” she answered with that false cheerfulness that was really starting to get on his nerves, “How could you? All you’ve done for the past few weeks is sleep.”
“Then answer me this,” Daniel said, “Why have you been so clingy to Jack lately?”
“Clingy?” she demanded, narrowing her eyes, “You call me clingy? You’ve been lying around demanding everyone’s attention, and you think I’m being clingy?”
“See!” Daniel cried, “You are angry about something!”
“Of course I’m angry! You’re calling me clingy! And I wouldn’t call spending time with Jack ‘clingy’. He likes spending time with me.”
“He thinks you’re displacing,” Daniel answered, “He thinks you were upset when I was hurt and you couldn’t do anything for me so you started taking care of him.” He didn’t add that Jack was beginning to find her very annoying.
“Oh?” Sam demanded, “You and Jack talk about me a lot when I’m gone? And what is Dr. Jackson’s great theory on my behavior? That I’m clingy?” Daniel sighed.
“We talk about all of our friends,” he answered, “And to be honest, I don’t agree with Jack. I think you’re jealous.” Sam opened her mouth and closed it, for once at a complete loss of words. Daniel lay back in his bed, his arms moving protectively around his waist. This had been why he hadn’t brought it up before. He didn’t know what Sam knew about him and Jack, or what she thought she knew, but it was obvious Sam had a thing for Jack and a problem with Daniel. It wasn’t hard for him to reach a conclusion, no matter how much he wanted to believe Sam was above that kind of thing.
“Jealous?” she finally spit out, getting control of herself once more, “Of what? You? A pathetic geek who can’t climb a ladder without falling? An archeologist so renowned he clears a room with his theories, so boring no one can stay awake during his lectures and so clueless he lets his own wife get snaked? Everyone around you gets hurt; your parents get crushed, Abydos gets attacked, you even got Jack snaked once. Apparently even your own grandfather didn’t want you, and anyone who does gets hurt. You’re a curse. Why should I be jealous?”
Daniel turned his head away, trying not to take her words to heart. What had happened to Sam, his once best friend, the person he used to bounce ideas off of and conspire with as a fellow scientist to get more time on a planet? Had this always been there? Trying not to show that he was hurt, he decided to continue on talking like an adult, to get to the root of the problem. Surely it wasn’t too late to fix this?
“I am also Jack’s friend,” he pointed out, turning his head again to once more look her in the eye, “He cares about me. Maybe you resent that.”
“He’s a guy,” she hissed at him, “There shouldn’t be competition. You turned him gay, you sick homo pervert.” Daniel reeled back from the words, cut by the venom behind them.
“S…sam,” he stuttered, uncertain what to say next, startled from the direction this was going. This seemed to go way beyond some petty jealousy. Was Sam homophobic, he wondered, was that what this was all about? She had found out about him and Jack and, unable to mold this new image with her dreams of Jack, she lashed out at Daniel?
“I saw you,” she continued, venom dripping from her voice, “You dirtied him. I saw you in that restaurant, flirting, flashing those blue eyes. I saw you kissing.” She had stood up by then, towering over him and he cringed away from the hatred she projected. For the first time ever, he found himself afraid to be in her presence.
“You were at his house, after that dinner, and I saw you with him. You seduced him!”
“I didn’t…Sam, please,” Daniel said, hugging himself tightly. He was beginning to feel drained fending off her verbal attack, sitting up in the bed. He wanted Jack and at the same time he was afraid to let anyone come in and see Sam acting like this.
“You’re a slut,” Sam continued, warming up to the topic, finally letting loose with all the words she had wanted to say for ages, “I’ve seen you, everywhere we go, all the girls and the guys too falling over you. Your wife was even alive and you already started drooling over the first girl you see. I know you did Hathor. Was she good? Do you enjoy sleeping with people, even when your wife was out there?”
Daniel turned pale at her words, no longer able to hold them separate from himself, to convince himself she didn’t really mean any of it, that it wasn’t true. Sam put her hand on his shoulders and he cringed away from the touch but her grip was too tight.
“And what about Shyla?” Sam continued, “We were all stuck sweating in the mines and you were getting laid? Was she worth it? How many women have you done it with while your wife was suffering? How many men have you seduced? Did you enjoy it?” Leaning over him, she moved one hand down and grabbed at his crotch through the sheets.
“This what you like?” she asked, grinning with a strange, feral glint to her eyes as she locked her hand around his cock and squeezed, “I’ve seen you in the showers. Drooling over Jack. He can’t get much from you. You’re pathetic.”
“Sam,” he gasped, half sobbing, half pleading, struggling to get away from her. The hand still latched to his shoulder was pulling on his wound, and her touch and words brought back his memories of Hathor and Shyla in living color, sending him into shudders of revulsion.
“He deserves better than you,” Sam continued, not removing her hand, squeezing harder. Daniel’s breathing became labored as he fought off a panic attack, tears streaming down his face. Abruptly she pulled away, leaving him gasping weakly, falling back onto his bed.
“I’m not jealous of a nobody, Daniel,” Sam finished as she walked towards the door, “Especially concerning the Colonel. He’ll choose me in the end; no one could choose a pathetic slut like you over me. Jack’s love is mine.” With that said, she left.
“You can’t be serious, T,” Jack said, “Carter wouldn’t try to kill Daniel!”
“She would not,” Teal’c answered, “However, my conclusions remain. Has there not been many occasions where we have found ourselves acting out of character, O’Neill? Daniel Jackson became quite violent under the effects of the sarcophagus.”
“You mean, you think Carter is under some sort of alien influence making her psycho?” Jack demanded. It seemed preposterous, but now that it had been said, he immediately began to review all her actions in his head over the last few days. Mostly he remembered her hovering around himself, offering to help him in any way she could, bringing him food and coffee. Once or twice she had brought Daniel cookies as an offering, but looking back even then she had seemed more interested in what he thought of them.
“But why would she want to kill Daniel?” Jack asked, “I mean, it makes no sense! And what alien influence? Janet never detected anything. We seem to be fine.”
“We do,” Teal’c answered, “Perhaps I need to continue my investigation. However, I believe it prudent to confine Samantha Carter in some way.” Jack considered this, then sighed, nodding his head in defeat. As much as he wanted to trust Sam, right now his first concern was Daniel’s safety, and if there was even the remotest chance that Sam was a threat he had to act on it.
Jack put in the call for Major Carter to be escorted to a holding cell while Teal’c left to review all the latest planets they had visited for signs of anything suspicious. Then Jack hurried back towards the infirmary, suddenly certain that he had been gone far too long. He rushed to Daniel’s door, nodding absently towards the guards and hurriedly stepped through, calling, “Daniel?”
Daniel was sitting up tensely in his bed, hugging himself tightly, his breathing labored and hitched with silent sobs. Jack rushed to his side, reaching out an arm to hold Daniel’s shoulder, only for Daniel to jerk away from his touch.
“No,” he gasped, and Jack’s heart sunk, recognizing the signs. Hurrying back to the door he quietly told the guards to get hold of Janet, then closed it again and went back to Daniel’s side. Looking into Daniel’s distant, unseeing eyes, he started to speak calmly and softly to him, patting his cheek and trying to draw him back from whatever dark place he had gone. With his other hand he started to gently rub Daniel’s back, careful not to touch his side or shoulder with his arm.
“Come on, Danny,” he said, “You’re safe. She isn’t here, Danny, no one but me, you’re safe.” He repeated this over and over again, throwing in whispered words of love and calm, until Daniel’s breathing slowly began to relax and the silent, harsh sobbing stilled. Jack could feel Daniel trembling beneath his hand and resisted the urge to pull Daniel into a hug, not wanting him to feel trapped. Finally, Daniel’s eyes were looking back into Jack’s, no longer seeing what wasn’t there.
“Jack?” he whispered, uncertainty filling his voice.
“I’m here, Danny,” Jack answered, “It’s ok.” Daniel pulled out of his self hug only to latch his hands firmly to Jack’s shirt, the most comfort he was willing to take for the moment. Hearing someone clear their throat, Jack turned his head to find Janet standing there, apparently having decided to stand back and watch until Jack was finished.
“Janet?” Daniel asked, his voice shaky.
“It’s all right, Daniel,” she answered, “I’m just here in case you or the Colonel need anything. Perhaps some water?” Jack breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn’t gone running straight for the sedatives and nodded his head. Daniel didn’t answer at all but he accepted his water when it was brought a moment later, even letting go of Jack with one of his hands, though the other kept its death hold on his shirt.
“I’ll be just outside, Jack,” Janet said, having brought the water, “And I’ll want to bring something in a little bit, to help Daniel sleep.” Her stern tone offered no argument but Jack didn’t think he was going to give one. He wanted some time to get Daniel settled back into reality, and then sleep would probably be a good idea. The fact that Daniel didn’t protest spoke volumes for his mental state. Jack continued to calm him down, speaking to him softly, until he thought Daniel had come out of it as much as he was going to. Not willing to leave Daniel, he called out loud for Janet, who brought in the sedative.
A few minutes later, alone again, Jack sat in Daniel’s bed leaning against the head rest with Daniel laying against his chest. Jack still wasn’t quite holding him, using his empty hands to stroke gently instead. One hand ran over Daniel’s hair, the other rubbed his chest, careful of the puncture wound and never going below his rib cage. Daniel had calmed down a good deal, though Jack could still feel minute tremors running through him, and his heart was beating fast beneath his palm.
“Want to tell me what that came from?” he asked softly. Daniel stiffened for a moment, before relaxing once more against Jack.
“Nothing,” he answered, “It was just…I’m fine now.” Jack sighed.
“We both know that wasn’t nothing, Love,” he answered softly, “What happened?” Daniel was silent for a long moment, but Janet’s pills were finally showing their effect and Jack could feel Daniel relaxing in their power.
“Daniel?” Jack prompted.
“Y’know what happen’d, Jack,” he answered sleepily, “She was touching me. Holding me down. Couldn’t fight her, Jack.” He had started to tense again, his hands grasping at the cloth to Jack’s pants. Jack continued to move his hands in gentle motions, resisting the urge to hold Daniel tight.
“Shhh, I know, I have you, Danny,” Jack soothed him. He wanted to remind Daniel that she was dead, but he wasn’t sure which of his molesters Daniel was referring too, and he had only had the pleasure of killing one of them. Feeling helpless and hating the feeling, he did the only thing he could, continue to reassure Daniel and bring him back to the present.
“You love me, Jack, not her,” Daniel whispered plaintively, as though seeking confirmation. Jack froze for a moment, not truly understanding those words or where they came from, but answered quickly none the less.
“I love you, Danny,” he whispered, “Only you.” Sparing a quick glance towards the security cameras, wondering if he would have to do a bit of sabotage at the end of this, he was relieved to see the light was off. Janet must have seen to that. Or, he realized, growing uneasy again, it was whoever had come in before him, who had set Daniel off.
“Tell me, Danny,” Jack whispered, “Did someone say something? Did you see something?” Daniel shook his head and Jack sighed, wondering why Daniel didn’t want to tell him. Blinking back tears that he hoped Daniel wouldn’t be able to notice, his eyes fell upon the table next to Daniel’s bed. He saw the untouched bag of cookies and suddenly he knew. Swallowing hard, he forced himself to relax and keep his voice calm.
“It’s ok, Danny,” he whispered, “Go to sleep.” Very soon, under the influence of Janet’s drugs, he did just that.
“What the hell did you say to him, Carter?” Jack demanded, storming into her cell. She had been there for several hours now, alternately demanding to be told why she had been restrained and wanting to see Jack. Now that Jack had finally come, however, her hopeful smile was crushed under the weight of his fury. A look of uncertainty flickered over her face, followed by anger but it quickly smoothed into simple confusion.
“Why am I here, sir?” she asked, “I have important work to be doing, but no one will answer my questions. Is SG1 being quarantined for some reason?”
“Not SG1,” Jack answered, “Just you. And so help me, if it turns out there’s no alien influences…” He trailed off, letting his threat die. Death threats couldn’t be made lightly, not when everything he said was being recorded, and especially not when he thought he just might carry those threats out. Sam, far from being intimidated in the face of Jack’s wrath, stood and faced him defiantly.
“What did you say to Danny,” Jack asked, his voice rough with frustration. He wanted to go back to Daniel right then; he hadn’t wanted to leave him in the first place but Hammond had finally ordered him to come and explain why he had had Sam locked up and why Teal’c was terrorizing the research assistant in the records department. Hammond had been troubled when Jack had explained. Finally, Jack had been allowed to leave, but with the order that Sam be told why she was being detained.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Sam answered him now, “I gave him cookies.”
“You gave him a panic attack,” Jack growled, “Teal’c thinks you tried to kill him.” Sam paled, but remained standing tall.
“And what do you think?” she asked, “You think that I would try to kill Daniel? That I could try and harm you?” Though her question had started off in anger, it dwindled in her last statement, her eyes momentarily haunted.
“Maybe you wouldn’t,” Jack admitted, “We suspect alien influences. You’ll have to take some tests.”
“I’m me, sir,” she insisted, then stepping closer, whispering too low for the recorder to pick up, she said, “I told him that you deserved better than him.” Jack resisted the urge to shove her back. Leaning in close, their bodies creating a momentary illusion of lovers about to kiss, he hissed vehemently in her ear, “There is no one better for me than him.” Turning abruptly on his heels, he left her there, gaping after him. As the door slammed shut behind him, her expression turned tragic, then thunderous.
Jack marched from her cell with quick strides towards the infirmary, finally returning to Daniel’s room. He was sleeping still, but it was a troubled sleep. Already, the sheets had been shoved about into a bunch at his feet as he thrashed about.
“Danny,” Jack whispered, hurrying to his side once the door was securely closed. He had already turned the now functional security camera before he left so that it now faced towards the door, recording anyone who entered but giving them privacy. The audio device was now covered by a small CD player, the speakers turned directly towards the recorder, so that unless they shouted the only words it was going to pick up clearly were the words to the song playing. It was the best Jack could manage in a secure facility, understanding the need for the devices, but wanting privacy. He was glad he had taken the time to do it now as he tried to resume his place at the head of Daniel’s bed, hoping he could pull Daniel from whatever nightmare had him in its grip. Before he could make it, Daniel suddenly sat up in bed gasping for breath, his eyes open wide.
Jack changed tactics, bending down so that he was eye level with Daniel, wanting him to see who it was before he tried to form any sort of contact.
“Danny?” Jack asked, sitting down cautiously on the edge of the bed, “You with me, Love?” Daniel’s eyes locked onto his, sending a shiver down his spine at their intensity. Immediately two hands reached out to latch onto Jack with a solid grip. Jack didn’t pull away even when the grip became painful, knowing Daniel needed this connection to keep himself firmly locked into this reality.
“I’m real, Danny,” Jack whispered, “I’m here.” Daniel nodded, slowly getting his breathing under control. Finally he relaxed his hold on Jack, then let go completely in favor of a glass of water. He sat up further when Jack made a move to climb into his bed, resuming their positions with Jack leaning against the head rest and Daniel against his chest. Sometimes Daniel found it easier to talk if he didn’t have to look at Jack, and like this Jack could offer support without forcing Daniel to face him.
“Please tell me, Danny,” Jack whispered and he felt more than heard Daniel’s sigh.
“I hate being weak, Jack,” he answered, his voice soft. Jack swallowed, working to keep his voice steady.
“You aren’t weak, Danny,” he said, “You’re one of the strongest men I know.”
“Stronger than Teal’c?” Daniel asked, making a strenuous effort to lighten the mood.
“Well sure,” Jack answered, “You could take him.” Daniel grinned for a brief moment before lapsing back into silence.
“Danny,” Jack began, hesitating. He knew he should tell him about Sam; he suspected that part of Daniel’s silence was from his desire to protect her, but he wasn’t sure how much he wanted to say.
“Jack?” Daniel asked, hearing the conflict in Jack’s voice.
“We think Carter is sick,” he finally said, “At least, Teal’c is looking through the old missions for anything that could have made her go…nuts, and Janet is running tests…” Daniel tensed in his arms, not expecting that.
“I think…I think there’s something wrong with Sam,” he finally acknowledged.
“Tell me,” Jack whispered, “Please, Love.”
“She was…well she wasn’t like herself,” Daniel finally answered, deciding to take an analytical viewpoint, “She seemed obsessed with you, Jack, I think she’s been…well stalking you. She knew about us…she said she saw us kissing. We never kiss where anyone can see us, Jack, she had to have been, well, really spying.”
“And she just…she mentioned…she talked about Shyla, Jack,” Daniel blurted out, his analytical fašade breaking for a bit, “I mean, that wasn’t in the reports, I didn’t tell anyone, no one but you and you had to drag it out of me. How could she know?”
Very carefully keeping his tone neutral, Jack answered, “I don’t know, Danny, that issue hasn’t come up in a while. Maybe…she guessed?”
“I didn’t want to sleep with her,” Daniel whispered, “She was going to give Sam to her fake Jaffas. I did it to protect her, Jack, I wasn’t…I didn’t mean to cheat on…”
“You never cheated on Sha’ure,” Jack assured him swiftly.
“It got all mixed up in the nightmare,” he continued, “Sam was calling me a…Shyla was there, only she was Hathor too…and then Sam turned into Sha’ure and wanted to know why I was cheating on her, and you wanted to know too…I wasn’t even with you then! I couldn’t have…and you kept saying Sam wouldn’t cheat on you, and you loved her, and…” Daniel was gasping again, and Jack could feel the shudders running through him.
“I love you,” Jack answered, “Only you.”
“I know…I know it was just the dream and…and Sam’s words,” Daniel stammered, “God, I’m pathetic, they’re just words!”
“Words from a friend,” Jack pointed out, “Words that brought up living nightmares. Anyone would have reacted the same way. I would have.” Jack took a deep breath, trying to keep the anger and hatred that was burning through him from coming out in his voice. “Just remember that they weren’t true,” he continued, “None of that was true, Danny. You are loyal, strong, and I love you, so much.” Daniel didn’t answer and Jack didn’t have to see his face to know that he was crying, silently. Jack let him cry, a few tears escaping down his own face, until Daniel finally began to relax again, leaning back heavily against his chest. Jack brought his arms around him in a tentative hold, and was relieved when Daniel allowed this. They remained like this for a long time, just reveling in their connection, until Daniel finally broke the silence.
“You think Sam was trying to kill me,” he whispered, his voice heavy but resigned.
“Teal’c thinks she’s a strong suspect,” Jack answered reluctantly, “We’re trying to figure this out.” Daniel nodded, then leaned his head back again, secure in Jack’s arms, surrounded by Jack’s love.
“You are looking at a picture of Major Carter’s brain,” Janet announced, pointing at a colorful picture in the traditional brain shape.
“This picture was taken about a year ago,” Janet continued, “And yesterday, we took this picture.” The slide changed to show another, very similar picture. Using a pointer, Janet indicated to a specific spot.
“And here is where I believe we can see what is causing Major Carter’s abnormal behavior.”
“So it is alien influence,” Jack said, staring blankly at what the doctor was trying to show them. In fact, between Jack, Hammond, and Teal’c, none of them showed any real comprehension to what she was showing them, though Teal’c hid it best.
“There is some sort of influence, I believe, yes,” Janet agreed, “I can’t say whether it is alien in origin, but based on the nature of your work…I’d say that is a distinct possibility.” The slides changed again, showing a series of brain snapshots.
“What is interesting is how long this has been showing up. Looking back through Major Carter’s records, we’ve found this abnormality present since the time that SG-1 was under the influence of the Tok’ra armbands.”
“So this is the Tok’ra’s fault?” Jack asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Ah, no,” Janet said, “That is when her brain showed noticeable change. However, there is an…anomaly present for much longer than that. It is my belief that Major Carter came into contact with something that then lay dormant in her brain until the virus introduced by the armbands caused it to activate.” More pictures were shown, all of which meant nothing to Jack.
“No one else in SG-1 or on any other teams have shown this anomaly, so whatever caused this, it only affected Sam,” Janet finished, turning off the slides.
“Doctor Frasier,” General Hammond said, “Why is it that this anomaly was not spotted before?”
“Well, General,” Janet answered, “It probably should have been, but when we are scanning the off-world teams, we usually are mostly concentrating around their neck, checking for Goa’uld. As you can see, Major Carter is parasite free, and the anomaly is small. It passed under the radar.”
“Can this anomaly be removed?” Teal’c asked, just beating Jack to it.
“It isn’t exactly that simple,” Janet answered, “It isn’t a physical device that might be cut out of her brain. From the way Major Carter has been acting, it appears to be along the lines of hypnosis, except that it is organic in nature. Without knowing how it was done, it would be difficult to undo it.”
“Can you tell us when it started?” Jack demanded, frowning. As glad as he was that Sam really wasn’t in her right mind, and he wouldn’t have to kill her, he was not happy learning how long it had gone on, or that no one knew it if was reversible.
“Yes I can,” Janet answered, “I believe its appearance coincided with SG-1’s return from P2X-669.” At the blank stares she received, she clarified with, “It was one of the few missions that were held when SG-1 was led by Colonel Makepeace.”
“You mean that time when I was working under cover?” Jack demanded, frowning, “So this has to do with the NID?”
“I can’t say that for sure; it could simply be a coincidence with the time frame and Major Carter came into contact with something on that planet. However, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility. This influence upon Major Carter’s brain does seem related to hypnosis. If the NID had gotten hold of some form of alien technology related to mind control, Major Carter would be a prime candidate for them to use to turn her into a spy.”
“A spy?” General Hammond asked, alarmed, “Don’t tell me we’ve had a NID spy standing in on our first contact team!”
“No, sir,” Janet answered, “The time scale of the activation of the anomaly would indicate that whatever might have been attempted, it couldn’t have worked. It lay dormant until Major Carter came in contact with a second influence.”
“The armbands,” Jack muttered, but he kept his Tok’ra comments to himself as Janet continued.
“Major Carter had no further contact with either the planet in question or the NID at this point, so I would say it is highly unlikely that the intended mind control was ever achieved.”
“No,” Jack answered, “Instead she goes psycho and tries to kill Daniel.”
“Do you know why Major Carter would target Dr Jackson?” Hammond asked. Janet glanced nervously towards Jack but finally answered, “No, sir, nothing definite.”
“Well, doctor, anything indefinite then?” Hammond asked, frowning. Janet sighed.
“I believe Sam…Major Carter may have somehow been imprinted with Colonel O’Neill. This led to a…to an obsession with him, something similar to the mentality of a stalker. She became insanely jealous with anyone the Colonel showed affection to, including…best friends.”
“So you’re saying that Major Carter tried to kill Dr Jackson because Colonel O’Neill was too friendly with him?”
“Sir,” Janet answered, “To her state of mind, any form of contact would be viewed in a negative light. Just eating together, hanging out, maybe a friendly pat on the back…Major Carter must have seen Dr Jackson as a rival just for that.”
“All right, Doctor,” Hammond answered, “Your priority at the moment is to find a way to destroy this influence on Major Carter. Colonel O’Neill, Teal’c, I want you to look into the cause of this anomaly. Just…” He was interrupted by a phone ringing, which he answered. After talking briefly to the person on the other end he hung up, looking grim.
“Major Carter has escaped from her cell.”
Samantha Carter seemed to have vanished without a trace. Now, nearly twenty-four hours later, Janet had called the remaining half of SG1 and the general together, claiming that she may have found a solution. Reluctantly, Jack left a very annoyed Daniel under the care of half a dozen guards to join them. Sometimes Jack thought that Daniel had no self preservation instincts; he had already suggested using himself as bait to lure Sam out and he had never stopped grumbling about the heightened security surrounding him. Now he was annoyed that he couldn’t join them in their meeting, recovering as he was or not, and he resented being left with half a dozen body guards.
“Look, Daniel,” Jack said in exasperation at Daniel’s pouting, “Like it or not, you’re a target. Now until Carter is caught, you’ll just have to accept that.” Jack finished his perfectly reasonable argument and then sighed. Daniel was huddled on his bed, wrapped in a self-hug and behind the pout there was definitely hurt. Jack knew that Daniel was feeling guilty; one of his best friends was trying to kill him so of course he thought it was somehow his fault. Added to that natural inclination of Daniel’s towards guilt, he was on medication that was heightening his emotions while he still recovered from his wounds. Altogether he made a rather pathetic and depressed figure.
“Come on, Danny, you’re still recovering,” Jack insisted, “I’ll come back and tell you everything after the meeting, ok?”
“All right, Jack,” Daniel answered, not really looking towards him. Jack hesitated a moment longer at the doorway before he finally tore himself away. Even without Daniel’s depressed pout he was already leery of leaving him while Sam was on the loose. Half a dozen guards or not, he didn’t feel comfortable unless he himself was watching over him.
“Good of you to finally join us, Colonel,” Hammond said as Jack walked swiftly into the meeting room.
“Sorry sir,” Jack answered as he took his seat and then he turned impatiently towards Janet, wanting this meeting to go as quickly as possible. Janet began at once, after receiving the go-ahead from Hammond, first recapping everything they knew so far. Finally, she got to the point.
“So, as you know, Major Carter seems to have developed her obsession with Colonel O’Neill. And if this phenomenon is based upon mind control technology as we all suspect, then it stands to reason that Colonel O’Neill should have some control over her.”
“You mean she has to do what I say?” Jack asked, raising an eyebrow. Janet hesitated.
“Not exactly, sir. Though that is entirely possible, but it seems that the technology did not work as planned, it may even have mutated with the introduction of the armbands. However, I believe that Major Carter would be likely to find it difficult to go against a direct order from you. And if that order was cloaked in…say…an admission to desire on your part…I don’t think she’d be as likely to question it as she would when in her normal, rational state of mind.”
“So what…you saying I call her up for a date or something?” Jack asked, “And she won’t suspect a trap?”
“I’m saying that even if she does suspect a trap, her irrational impulse will cause her to fall into this trap anyway.” The three men considered her words.
“How is it that Colonel O’Neill will contact the major?” Hammond asked, “She hasn’t exactly been answering her calls.”
“Again, based upon what we know of her…obsession, I find it very unlikely that she has gone far,” Janet answered, “Even if she gave up on going after Daniel, she wouldn’t be able to stay away from the Colonel. If she is on base, we can use the intercom to contact her. If not…I’d guess that she would be in the vicinity of the Colonel’s house.”
“So if she doesn’t respond here, send a search out there?” Jack asked, frowning.
“Exactly,” Janet agreed, “And in the mean time, I will get back to work on a way to reverse this.”
Once the meeting was over, Jack was tempted to head straight for the intercom, wanting to draw Sam out at once, but he considered how Daniel would react when he heard his message after being kept in the dark on their plans, and decided a quick trip to visit Daniel would be best.
“I don’t know, Jack,” Daniel said when he heard the plan, “What if she turns psycho on you when she learns you tricked her?”
“In the first place, I won’t exactly be unprotected,” Jack pointed out, “And in the second place, she likes me. It’s you she wants to off.”
“Yeah, now,” Daniel answered, “But how do you think she’ll react when she finally realizes she doesn’t have a chance? Maybe she’ll do the whole ‘if I can’t have you, no one can’ thing and blow you both up!”
“She won’t have a chance to, Daniel,” Jack answered, “We’re gonna knock her out the moment she shows.” Daniel was silent for a moment, not looking towards Jack as he considered this.
“Teal’c told me about the balcony,” he said finally, still not looking in Jack’s direction. Jack frowned.
“She wasn’t trying to kill me,” he said, “It was a trap for you.”
“But don’t you see, Sam is smart. If she was in her right mind but still wanted to kill me, she never would have set up a trap like that. She knew you visited me, she knew how you sometimes leaned against the rail; she had to know it was possible that someone besides me might fall. So if this thing has her so messed up that she would try to kill me with a trap that could potentially hurt you…who knows what else she might do.”
“Exactly!” Jack exclaimed, “That’s why it’s so important to catch her.” Daniel sighed, then finally nodded his head. Jack made a move as though to take hold of him but he drew back again, wary of all the extra surveillance put in place until Sam was caught. That was another reason to hurry up and catch her; they would have no privacy until they did.
An hour later, everything was ready. Jack made his announcement over the intercom.
“Carter…Sam,” he said, his voice echoing down the halls of the SGC, “Look, I think we really need to talk. I was wrong to spurn you. You mean everything to me. I think…I love you. I’ve decided to retire so we can be together. I know it wasn’t you trying to kill Daniel and I’m sorry I had you locked up. Please come meet with me. I’m in the VIP room 5.” That was his message. If she looked into the computer system, everything he had just said checked out. The search for her had been called off and Jack was retired. Now all they had to do was wait.
Jack made it through twenty-six games of solitaire before she made her move. Jack never saw her. She was tranquilized and captured before she made it into the room, having been spotted walking down the hall.
Jack avoided visiting her, though he felt he had to at least once to explain his ruse. The computer files had been straightened out, listing him as un-retired once again. The guard that once surrounded Daniel at all times now surrounded Sam, and they along with restraints ensured there wouldn’t be a repeat of her escape. They were still looking into how she had pulled it off in the first place, as well as how she had managed to stay hidden for so long. Jack’s visit did not go well. She alternatively cursed him for his duplicity and pleaded with him, professing her undying love.
Daniel, on the other hand, was doing much better. He was healing nicely and Janet spoke of sending him home soon, so long as someone stayed with him, which was her way of saying he could go home with Jack. Though Daniel was still upset about Sam, constantly asking if there had been any breakthroughs with a cure, he was at least happy with the reduce in security. Then, three days later, Janet and her team of doctors and scientists finally worked out Sam’s cure.
She explained fervently how it worked in two parts, to attack the organic matter and through it to rewrite parts of the brain. Jack finally held up his hand to stop her detailed explanations, only needing to know that it would work and that it wasn’t likely to harm Sam. A few hours later, the procedure was begun.
A few hours after that, everyone was waiting for her to wake up. It looked like it had been a complete success. The latest scans showed her brain to be back to normal, but Janet couldn’t be sure of any affects the procedure might have had until Sam woke up. Finally, she opened her eyes.
She looked around blankly for a moment a dazed, sleepy expression on her face. Jack knew the moment the memories hit her when her eyes opened wide and she sat up very quickly.
“Oh god, Daniel! I tried to kill Daniel!” she cried, her voice high in panic.
“Easy, Carter,” Jack said, happy to hear the sudden confession because it seemed to mean his 2IC was back to normal, though he knew it couldn’t be easy for her. He tried to imagine waking up one day and realizing that he had tried to kill Daniel and shuddered.
“You were under some sort of mind control,” Janet explained calmly, “It wasn’t you. But we do have a few questions, if you feel up to it.” Sam looked white as the sheet she clutched, her eyes wide as she tried to come to term with her memories.
“Oh god, sir! Daniel…I…”
“We understand,” Jack said shortly.
“No, sir, you don’t, it isn’t what I tried to do it’s what I did…while I was hiding from everyone…you have to go to him now, before it’s too late!” Jack listened to her rambling, trying to make sense of it as the first tendons of fear clutched his heart.
“Carter, what exactly are you trying to say?” he demanded. As he tried to get Sam to calm down enough to speak clearly, Teal’c made his way to a phone, demanding information on Daniel Jackson.
“Come on, Carter,” Jack said, “Spit it out.”
“O’Neill,” Teal’c interrupted, “Did you sign a form requesting that Daniel Jackson be removed from his location?”
“What?” Jack asked, spinning around to look at Teal’c, “Why would I want to move him?”
“In that case,” Teal’c said, “It seems that Daniel Jackson is missing.”
“Um…where are we going?” Daniel asked, beginning to grow confused. When a group of marines had come to his room announcing that Jack had ordered for Daniel to come with them, Daniel had been too concerned with what was happening with Sam to question them. He had been angry when Jack insisted Daniel stay in his room, still guarded though only by two men, when Daniel knew that Sam would be waking up soon. He wondered if the guard was there to keep him safe, on the off chance Sam escaped, or if it was there to keep him from sneaking out and finding Sam on his own. Knowing Jack, Daniel suspected it was both.
He understood why everyone thought it would be better if he stayed there, ranging from ‘Sam was just trying to kill you and we don’t know how she will react’ to ‘you’re still recovering’, but understanding and agreeing were two different things. He also felt that if Sam woke up and he wasn’t there, she might feel like he didn’t trust her, and he desperately wanted to help her know that they were still friends. It wasn’t that he hadn’t been affected by her attacks; he still had nightmares that featured her face and her words. He knew that they would have to work to overcome that and struggle to reach someplace anywhere close to the level of trust and friendship that they had shared before. But he was determined that they would reach that place, and he would be there for Sam, knowing what she would be going through. He more than anyone should know what it was like to be under an alien influence and to hurt people he loved. Unfortunately, no one else had seen it that way, though they all promised to update him on Sam as soon as possible.
In fact, when he had heard the voices at the door, he figured that’s what they were there for. Then, when a wheel chair was called for, he thought that just maybe Jack had relented, or Sam had been deemed safe, and he was now going to her side. He didn’t really pay attention to where they were wheeling him, being preoccupied with what Sam was going through. It filled him with an overwhelming mixture of hope and fear. There was hope that she was better but also his own trepidation at seeing her again, a sickening sort of fear that made him ashamed, because he was afraid of her, even knowing it hadn’t been her. It was only when his chair halted in front of an elevator that he started to pay attention to where they were. If they had been going to see Sam they should have reached her by now; after all they had both been in the infirmary, though in different parts. They definitely shouldn’t have to change levels. And if Jack hadn’t ordered for him to be brought there, where in the world were they going? Hence his question.
“Your services as a translator are required,” one of the men answered him, “Colonel O’Neill approved of your transfer.”
“He did,” Daniel stated, doubtfully. There was no way Jack would do something like that, at least not without telling Daniel first. He looked more closely at the marines. They all had blank expressions, the look of men who followed their orders without question or hesitation. They made him nervous.
“It’s urgent,” the man said.
“Right,” Daniel answered, as the elevator pinged. The door began to open. Before he could be wheeled inside, Daniel made sudden use of his legs, leaping out of the chair and past the startled marines.
“Knew I didn’t need the stupid wheelchair,” Daniel panted to himself as he sprinted down the hall. He knew he would feel silly later, escaping his escort if all of this turned out to be legitimate, but he couldn’t take the chance. Unfortunately, his short burst of adrenaline could only do so much with his weakened state, and the next thing he knew he was being thrown to the ground as someone tackled him from behind.
“Help!” he shouted, determined not to be taken without a fight, “I’m being atta…” but then a hand was shoved over his mouth. He thrashed wildly, ignoring the pain that had erupted sharply through his chest and the dizziness that came with it. Weakened though he was, he had almost managed to break free when he felt something sharp pricking him. Immediately, his limbs became like stone, his body going limp and finally the world slipped away completely.
No more than a minute later, Daniel was once more sitting in the wheelchair, now more or less draped into it. He was pushed into the elevator, and the doors closed. Back in the infirmary, Jack was storming through Daniel’s room, holding his temper shortly in check in favor of information. He could scream at the two men later; right now he needed to know where Daniel had gone.
The entire base was on alert, but so far nothing had turned up. The paperwork requesting Dr Jackson be moved was all very clear, complete with Jack’s own signature, though Jack knew he had signed nothing of the kind. The security cameras for the entire level had some kind of malfunction, and were showing nothing. Sam was hysterical enough that Janet had felt the need to sedate her. Jack didn’t trust himself in her presence, knowing that, alien influence or not, she had caused Daniel’s kidnapping. He left the interrogation to Teal’c while he led the search.
“You must tell us who has taken Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c insisted, once the sedative started to take effect.
“I sold him out,” Sam whispered, still in shock over everything she had done, “I was going to just hire someone, but I needed someone who could reach him; someone who knew how to erase the evidence. I knew I couldn’t get close enough, so I needed someone else. How sick am I?”
“You are not at fault,” Teal’c answered, his voice reassuringly confident in his statement, “You were not yourself.”
“I showed them a way in. I gave them the documents; I forged the colonel’s signature!”
“Who did you contact?” Teal’c asked.
“No one,” Sam said with a grim laugh, “They contacted me. I guess they had been keeping an eye on me. I don’t know. But a woman came to visit me. She called herself Myra Attison. Colonel Myra Attison. I wanted them to kill Daniel. I was going to give them some information in return, fake information, even then I didn’t intend to betray the SGC. Crazy isn’t it? I was going to kill Daniel, but I still didn’t want to give up our secrets. But they wanted him for something, so I agreed that they could take him for that.”
“Who?” Teal’c asked. There wasn’t a hint of impatience in his voice, but his body was tense.
“NID,” Sam answered at last, “I sold him out to the NID.” And with that she turned her head into her pillow and let the tears come.
When Daniel awoke, the first thing he noticed was that he was cold and his chest hurt. He shuddered, sure that he was back on his living room floor, pinned by metal spikes, and his eyes flew open with a half formed ‘Jack!’ on his lips. The stark white ceiling above him and the slow awareness of something binding his wrists awoke him from that old nightmare and into a new one.
“Not crazy,” he mumbled, pulling at the restraints while he tried to get the cloud that blanketed his thoughts to clear away. It was too close to the mental hospital for his peace of mind, and his breathing quickened at the thought that he had returned there. What if leaving had just been a dream? Perhaps he had never left. He turned his head when he recognized the sound of voices. A man and a woman in white lab coats approached him.
“The subject appears to be hyperventilating,” the man remarked, “Shouldn’t we do something about that?” Daniel didn’t recognize either of them and found it strangely difficult to understand their words. Trying to latch onto something familiar, he silently dubbed the woman Not-Janet and the man Not-Warner. He wished it were them. Belatedly, he realized that he had missed some of what they had said while he tried to figure them out. Concentrating hard, he managed to make out their words.
“…through the Stargate more times than any human but Colonel O’Neill and Ferretti,” Not-Warner was saying.
“Humans!” Not-Janet laughed, “There was a time we wouldn’t have to distinguish that fact. If they want something useful from us, they could at least get us the alien for a subject.”
“They could at least let us keep our subject,” Not-Warner said, frowning slightly, “What do they expect us to find from a few samples? We need more time. We need more subjects.”
“They want him for something else,” Not-Janet pointed out, “And like you said, he’s human. They’re more interested in aliens and alien technology.” Her tone had a slight pout in it that Daniel recognized well. He used it himself when complaining that he didn’t have enough time to study a culture. Somehow, in this case, he didn’t sympathize.
“Not…subject,” Daniel said, struggling to speak, “Daniel.” The woman smiled like one would towards a small child who had managed something particularly cute.
“I see the subject is fighting the sedative,” she said to her partner. The man frowned, tapping his chart nervously.
“Try upping the dose,” he suggested, “So long as he’s out of it, they can’t take him away for their project.” Daniel wasn’t sure if it counted as a victory that someone was finally referring to him as ‘he’ rather than ‘the subject’ when the speaker wanted to drug him.
“That won’t do, we need the drugs out of his system to get our samples. We don’t want them affecting our readings.”
“If we had our way, we’d have samples with as many variables as possible,” the man insisted. He started walking towards Daniel with a syringe in his hand. Daniel tried to pull away instinctively, desperately wishing he could do something more than blink at the man. If only he could wake up properly he thought he might be able to speak to them, to get them to see him as more than a ‘subject’, or at the very least figure out what was going on.
Just as the Not-Warner doctor was about to inject the dose into an IV, more people entered the room. Daniel shut his eyes against the strange, spinning sensation he got when he tried to watch everyone at once. There were too many people, too many voices, and now he couldn’t seem to stop shaking.
He didn’t want this to be real; he wanted to wake up and have Jack there to tell him it was all a nightmare. He hurt in his chest and he didn’t like being tied down and he was cold. Finally, when the voices around him stilled, he opened his eyes again, hoping that his wish would have come true and he’d see Jack standing there.
It was a struggle to focus his eyes, but when he did he found a woman was staring down at him. She was wearing a dark uniform and her stance was formal. Standing over him as she was she seemed enormous and her eyes were cold. Briskly, she turned away from him towards the two people in lab coats.
“You said he’d be awake by now,” she said, “We need him awake and aware.”
“We said that before you had your goons tackle him,” Not-Janet answered, “We’ve had to repair the damage.” The woman considered her coldly for a moment, finally turning back to the uniformed men who had followed her in.
“We’ll take him now anyway,” she decided, “If he’s awake now, he’ll be aware soon enough.” Then Daniel’s restraints were being undone and he was helped to a seated position. There was nothing of softness in the gestures of the men helping him up; they performed the needed task proficiently and that was all. The woman came before him again, addressing him directly for the first time.
“Dr. Jackson,” she said, her greeting formal while Daniel hunched over on his bed, gasping at the pain that movement brought. He was suddenly nauseous and he closed his eyes against it.
“I am Colonel Attison,” the woman announced, “You have been brought her on a matter of national security.” She looked as though she had much more planned to say, probably a very grand and important speech, but at that moment Daniel finally lost his fight against his stomach, and he threw up over the side of the bed. The colonel took a hasty step back, for a moment losing her cold formality as she stared at her now much more colorful uniform.
“Sorry,” Daniel mumbled automatically, still feeling ill. The colonel looked him up and down derisively before turning away.
“Get him cleaned up,” she ordered, “And take him to holding cell five. We’ll proceed from there.” Then she swiftly left the room. Even in his drugged up, ill state, Daniel couldn’t help but think that it was a very bad sign that none of her men had so much as a grin for their leader’s predicament. Either they were just that well trained, or Colonel Attison was definitely someone you didn’t want to antagonize.
“Well, according to this, Colonel Attison is dead,” Jack said, frowning in frustration. As soon as they got the full story from Sam they had tried to use her information to find something useful. Jack had Myra Attison’s file now. It revealed that she had indeed worked for the NID but she had died a couple of years ago in a car accident. Sam insisted, however, that the photo matched the person she spoke to.
“So either she is purposefully disguising herself as this Attison person to deceive us, or she suddenly decided to come out of hiding,” Jack continued while the file was passed around, “Why would she give her real name to Major Carter?”
“A warrior who is in a position of stealth would not reveal himself, unless stealth is to be abandoned,” Teal’c said, “Perhaps this person no longer feels the need to hide.”
“Sir, she did seem kind of full of herself,” Sam said, her voice holding just the slightest bit of hesitancy. She still felt awkward, knowing she had betrayed them and that she was the reason they were having this meeting. She wondered if this was how the men felt after coming off of Hathor’s drug. Trying hard to be like normal, Sam continued her explanation. “The Colonel Attison I saw seemed to enjoy power. She didn’t seem the type to not share her achievements. Frankly, I think she wanted you to know who she was. She must think that her name alone wouldn’t be enough to give you any leads.”
“Well so far, she’s been right,” Jack said, careful not to snap in Sam’s direction. He knew he had no reason to be angry with her for being brainwashed, no matter how much he wanted someone to be angry at. And she hadn’t succeeded in killing Daniel, like she had planned. Sam had said they needed Daniel for something, so they wouldn’t kill him.
The atmosphere around the table was strained. Sam was holding herself together for this meeting, determined to fix her mistakes, but it was a struggle. With her mind and her feelings back to normal, she found it hard to comprehend what she had tried to do. How she had plotted, how many people she had hurt and manipulated just to get at one person, a person who she loved like a brother.
Physically, there was nothing wrong with her now, but she was still being watched closely. People reacted to her differently now. Jack avoided her while Teal’c hardly left her side, his concern obvious. In fact, Jack wouldn’t stay in the same room as her until she had specifically requested an audience. That had been an awkward moment, too reminiscent of their meeting in the holding cell.
“I just wanted to say…I’m sorry, sir,” Sam started, trying to explain.
“I know,” Jack answered, his voice tight.
“And…about you and Daniel,” Sam continued nervously, “Just…I don’t have a problem really…with you being friends. Good friends. And I wanted to say…I do love you. And Daniel. Just not…in love with you. That was all the mind thing.”
“Oh,” Jack answered, blinking, “Well that’s good to know.” Sam nodded, and then Jack had fled to continue the search and she hadn’t seen him again until this meeting.
“Major Carter,” Teal’c said, “Did Colonel Attison say nothing of her intentions for Daniel Jackson?” He had asked her that same question many times before in different ways, as though he hoped that a change in his wording would suddenly awaken memories Sam had forgotten.
“Just what I told you,” Sam insisted, “I asked her to…kill him. She said she needed him for something else. I assumed she meant a translation.”
“I thought you said you never intended to give up Stargate secrets,” General Hammond said, frowning.
“No sir,” Sam answered, her eyes downcast.
“Then why would you give them a civilian with this same knowledge, knowing the NID intended to learn from him?” Hammond asked, “Isn’t that the same as giving away classified information?” His question sounded harsh but his voice was gentle; he truly wanted to understand how her mind was working when she was under the alien influence, and he did need to know how far his base had been compromised.
“Because…I may have hated him, but I knew Daniel,” Sam explained, still looking down at the table, “I knew he wouldn’t tell them anything. And…that he would suffer. That’s why I gave them Daniel. Because he would be gone and…because I wanted him to suffer.” Then her brave air force front shattered and she couldn’t hold back her pain. It was bad enough when Daniel got hurt, went missing or dead, but when she was the one who caused it, she didn’t think she could deal with it.
“It was not you Major Carter,” Teal’c insisted, concerned by her sudden tears. She had been like this ever since the alien influence had been removed, sometimes almost like her old self but at other times deeply distraught and unable to hold back her emotions. She had told him in private that it felt almost like she had been a Goa’uld, as though some disgusting creature had used her against her will.
Jack turned his head away. A part of him wanted nothing more than to comfort her, to remind her that it wasn’t her fault. But his heart was filled with a cold, desperate pain and he had no room left to worry for her. Somewhere out there, someone had Daniel, and for the moment there was nothing he could do.
Daniel couldn’t seem to get warm. He was sitting huddled in the corner of a small stone cell, pointedly ignoring the offered trey of food set near the door. Even if he hadn’t been too nauseous to eat, the bland gruel didn’t look very appetizing and, though he didn’t think they would bother to drug it, not when they could just as easily drug him without the subterfuge, he still felt wary of accepting anything from his captors. At least his head was finally clearing.
He jumped, startled, when the door swung open. He squinted towards the form of two large men, trying to see without his glasses. He didn’t like not knowing who he was facing. If he could get to know who someone was then they could get to know who he was and maybe they would be more reluctant to hurt him. As it was, he didn’t even know if it they were the same goons from before or if this was the first time they’d come. He tried not to cringe when they entered the room. There was still enough drugs left in his system to leave him disoriented, exaggerating his reactions.
“Dr. Jackson,” faceless goon number one said, “You are to come with us.” When Daniel made no move to leave his corner, the two men took him by the arms and lifted him effortlessly to his feet.
“Ah, yes,” Daniel said, unexpectedly happy because his tongue seemed to be working again, “Excuse me, but, can you tell me where I am?”
“We cannot,” the second goon answered.
“Ok…” Daniel said, and then gave all his attention over to walking. It seemed a lot harder than he remembered, even with a guy holding him up on either side. Perhaps it would go better if the motion wasn’t upsetting his stomach. Luckily, it was only a short walk from his small cell to the room he was being taken to. In fact, it looked like another small cell except that this one had a desk, a small bed, and a woman in it. The two men let him go at the door and he took the last few steps himself, right past the woman, to take a look at the object sitting on the desk. It was a small white box, lined in gold with symbols covering it. It looked like some sort of puzzle or toy and Daniel immediately reaching out a hand to touch it, fascinated, when a voice from behind him made him jump.
“Dr. Jackson!” the woman said, sharply, and he spun around half expecting to see Jack there, warning him not to touch anything. Finally, his eyes made contact with the real speaker, and inwardly he cringed away from her cold gaze.
“Colonel Attison,” he said, and she looked slightly startled. He guessed she didn’t expect him to remember her name. Considering how zoned out he was at their first meeting, he was somewhat surprised as well, but some things just stuck with him. Jack was always surprised from how much he remembered after their drunken nights and…whoa, still a little dazed, mind kind of wandering there. The colonel was speaking but he had stopped paying attention.
“We have a special project for you here,” she was saying, and he wondered vaguely what he had missed while he was thinking about Jack, “We have a translation we need you to do for us.” Daniel nodded carefully, looking thoughtfully at how her mouth moved. Her voice was sharp and her bearing proud. Jack was a colonel too, but he didn’t talk like that, all stiff and formal. Colonel Attison looked like she never smiled. Jack often smiled, especially that innocent, sarcastic sort of grin. Daniel frowned. How can a smile be both innocent and sarcastic? He was still puzzling over the mysteries of Jack’s grin when he noticed that Colonel Attison was decidedly frowning. He blinked, moving his gaze back up to her eyes.
“Do you understand?” she demanded, and she was definitely frowning.
“No,” Daniel answered, frowning slightly himself as he tried to rewind in his head and figure out what he had missed. Her frown deepened, and suddenly Daniel found himself laying over the table, his arm twisted back painfully.
“We need someone who can read Goa’uld. You know Goa’uld,” she hissed in his ear, “Translate this now, or I break your arm.” In response, Daniel whimpered. Just as suddenly, she released him and he crumpled to the floor, his arm still throbbing painfully. He looked up at her with a puzzled, hurt sort of expression. She spun around to face the two goons.
“Watch him,” she said, “Do not let him touch the artifact, if it needs to be moved or handled one of you will do it. And if he refuses to translate…persuade him.” That said, she left swiftly. There was a brief silence in the wake of her departure. Finally, one of the goons approached Daniel.
“Start translating,” he directed. Daniel blinked up at him, blankly. He had an idea that he should be moving, but the ground felt comfortable where he was. Then the man reached down and hauled him up by the same arm the colonel had been twisting. Daniel yelped and glared at the man. The man said nothing, simply turning him around and half dragging him to the chair at the desk. Daniel caught sight of the box again and immediately forgot about glaring at the goons as he studied it. Intrigued, he once again reached out a hand to touch.
“Hey!” the second goon said, and his hand was rapped sharply.
“No touching,” the first said, “Start translating.” Daniel glared at them, sulkily, but he couldn’t resist the puzzle before him. There was paper and pencils all ready for him and he began to work out the symbols. He mumbled happily as he studied the box, taking in the intricate design and how it overlaid itself. This was much more fun than huddling in a corner in a cell or being strapped to a table. He still felt a bit strange, a bit disconnected and floaty, but really, it wasn’t so bad now. He looked up at the two goons watching him, and smiled contentedly, but they didn’t look inclined to smile at all. In fact, they looked a bit bored. Really, Daniel thought, they were like Jack, getting bored when he was finding the most interesting things to do. Daniel wished that Jack were there. Jack would be more fun than these two, even if he was bored. Daniel needed to find Jack. He stood up and started towards the door.
“Hey,” goon one cried, “Where do you think you’re going?”
“To find Jack,” Daniel explained reasonably, but he was pushed roughly back into his seat. Daniel frowned at them in a way that Jack definitely would have called pouting if he was there, which was ridiculous because Daniel was a grown man and he most certainly didn’t pout. Daniel would tell him that if only he’d come there so that he could tell him. Jack needed to be there. Daniel’s frown deepened and suddenly he was blinking back tears. He wanted Jack to be there. He wanted to be where Jack was. Then he looked at the box again and looked at what he had written and remembered, he was doing translating, and it was fun. Forgetting his pouting and his tears, he started working again.
Colonel Attison was smiling when she returned. Daniel appeared to be hard at work, occasionally getting one of the men to turn the object so he could get a better angle on the minute writing. When the colonel entered, he had both men twisting about at odd angles at his instruction, but they both jumped to attention when she walked in, juggling the box between them before they managed to set it back on the table.
“Well?” she demanded, “Have you managed to translate the writing?” Daniel blinked at her.
“I think…maybe…” Daniel answered, his expression one of deep reflection, “well it was a bit hard without my books, but…it was fascinating, see, how it changes if you turn it in the light, and then, see, I wanted to see how many positions I could get them to turn it in, just because it was fun to see them twist their arms in knots, and then we were going to find Jack, because I wanted to show Jack, but they said I couldn’t…” he trailed off, frowning slightly. Colonel Attison marched past him then, grabbing up some of his notes triumphantly. Her triumph, however, was short lived when she started to try and read them.
“What is this!” she demanded, marching up to Daniel and waving the papers in his face, “What language is this written in?!”
“Ah, right, well it’s boring if you just use one language, you know, so I decided to use a bunch of different ones at once, just to make it more exciting. Do you know where Jack is?” Colonel Attison just stared at him for a moment, gaping at his wide-eyed, innocent look.
“We need this translation in English,” she exclaimed at last, causing Daniel to lean back slightly from the venom in her voice, “Translate this now!” He stared back at her, a puzzled look on his face.
“No, see, I can’t, because, because…because I’m not allowed to. Jack wouldn’t like it.” He watched in fascination as the Colonel’s face took on a peculiar red color. When she spoke, however, it wasn’t with anger but with a coaxing, almost condescending voice like one might use with an argumentative toddler.
“But Jack wants you to translate this. He told us he wanted you to translate it into English.” Daniel stared at her, almost blankly for a moment, and then he smiled.
“You don’t know Jack,” he answered, and then giggling slightly, he said, “Sorry, sorry, no really, you don’t know Jack. He said no translating for evil overlords, snakeheads, or forces of darkness. So…sorry.” Attison’s eyes narrowed, but Daniel seemed to have stopped paying attention and was now reciting something to himself in what sounded like Latin. Her eyes sparking with contained fury, she grabbed up all of Daniel’s notes and spun around towards the door where two uniformed men had followed her. She thrust the papers in their direction.
“Make copies of these. Then get all our linguists working on them. Tell them it’s likely a combination of the several languages known by Dr Jackson. Then bring the originals back here.” She turned back to face Daniel and his two guards as the others hurried off to do as she asked. Seeing that Daniel was now studying a spider web in a corner, she grabbed him, spinning him around to make him look at her. After giving him a long, hard look, she shoved him back towards the two towering guards. Before she could give any commands, another woman ran into the room.
“We’ve been contacted by our SGC agent,” she announced, and Colonel Attison nodded, turning as though to follow, but she stopped at the door. She turned back towards her prisoner and the two men guarding him.
“Persuade him,” she commanded, “I’ll join you shortly.” Then she left.
Miles away, Sam shifted nervously while she waited for her contact to show. She had finally been released to leave the SGC after three long, tedious days of tests and observation, but finally she had convinced everyone that her obsession of Jack had passed, and that she had nothing but concern for Daniel. Teal’c had been especially hard to shake, but in the end she had gotten her way, and now, free from the facility, she attempted to hook up with some old contacts. Now she was sitting in a booth in a diner, hoping for the agent to show. She didn’t have to wait long.
“Word is, you’ve been cured. That Hammond’s lost little lamb has returned to the fold.” Sam looked up at the words but didn’t turn around to face the voice. It was enough that she recognized it.
“You can’t be cured of a belief,” Sam answered, “It’s either there, or it isn’t.”
“And what is it that you believe?” the voice asked, sounding mildly curious.
“Daniel Jackson was a danger to the facility. His way of thinking undermined our efforts in the war. And he had the ear of Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond. He needed to be eliminated.”
“You desired revenge,” the voice said, abruptly, “We gave it to you. What is it you are asking for now?”
“It hasn’t worked,” Sam answered, “Colonel O’Neill thinks about nothing but Daniel. He is on your trail even now. Everything is for nothing if he gets Daniel back, for you and for me.”
“And so you want Dr Jackson…eliminated?”
“And left for Colonel O’Neill to find. He needs closure or he’ll never stop looking.” The voice chuckled softly.
“I don’t think Colonel Attison is ready to give up her new toy. He’s been quite…helpful.”
“I can pay you. I can provide you with alien technology.”
“We have our own sources. Besides, we aren’t convinced you haven’t changed. How do we know your team isn’t recording this conversation right now? This could be a ruse in your attempts to find Dr Jackson.” Sam laughed bitterly at this.
“You think Colonel O’Neill would take the risk of asking you to kill his precious Daniel? If this were a set up, you would already be caught.” No one spoke for a long moment.
“We will consider your offer,” the voice said at last. When Sam finally did turn around, the booth was empty.
Despite the way his thoughts kept floating away from him, Daniel was very sure he didn’t want to be there anymore. After Colonel Attison left, Daniel tried to pull away from the arms holding him. He was stopped by a sharp blow to the stomach, followed by a vicious jab to his side. The man holding him was whispering in his ear, though Daniel’s mind no longer seemed able to translate the words, and large hands clutched at him, holding him close while pain filled his very being. For a moment, everything seemed to be sliding further away; their words, the pain, the dark feeling of being trapped in someone’s arms, and then, suddenly, it was just too much.
Without thought, Daniel twisted himself in a classic move first taught to him by Sam and later perfected in training with Teal’c. It was meant to let someone physically smaller than their opponent escape their hold. Despite the fog in his head, Daniel’s muscles remembered what his brain could no longer quite grasp, sending the man holding him flying over his shoulder and, coincidently, straight into goon two. They both crashed to the floor with a look of utter astonishment while Daniel stood over them.
Daniel blinked for a moment, gasping slightly as he recovered from their attack, then walked around the men tangled together on the floor to finally take up the alien box for himself. While the two men were still struggling to get up, he twisted the top of the box, slid around some of the symbols, and watched, fascinated, as it started to hum.
“Hey!” one of the men shouted, his face contorted with rage as he stumbled to his feet. His partner was only just sitting up, rubbing the growing knot on his head. Frowning slightly, Daniel turned to face them, still fiddling with the box. Before either man could move further, they were both enveloped in a blue light. The humming increased.
“Let me out of here, I’m going to find Jack,” Daniel announced, and then the light and the humming ceased. Daniel waited. Now neither man was looking at him, as though they were no longer even aware he was there. They looked around puzzled for a moment before turning and opening the door. Daniel walked out, carefully shutting the door behind him, and walked down the hall.
He walked at random for a long way, alternately humming to himself a happy little song that was all about escaping the bad hands and finding Jack, and whimpering to himself because it hurt to move and he still hadn’t found Jack yet. Finally, he managed to piece together the idea that he should ask for directions. So far, everyone he had passed had either completely ignored him or he zapped them with the box, told them to go away, and he was left alone. Now he looked for someone to stop, finally spying a small man in some sort of lab coat.
“Excuse me,” Daniel said, getting his attention. The man stopped, then jumped a bit when he saw who he was talking to. When the man didn’t say anything, Daniel continued. “I have to find Jack,” he explained, “Where is the exit to this place?”
“You do know you’re bleeding?” the man finally asked, after pausing so long that it didn’t seem like he would answer at all.
“Am I?” Daniel asked, considering this.
“Just a bit,” the man answered nervously, “From your nose. And your shirt.” Daniel blinked at him.
“Shirts don’t bleed,” he finally said.
“Yes, well, yours is rather red now.”
“I think it’s reopened,” Daniel explained, after trying, unsuccessfully, to get a proper view of his own chest, “Can you take me to the exit now?”
“Do you want to go to the hospital?” the man asked, sounding concerned. Daniel considered this. While he was still considering, the man apparently decided that Daniel must be injured worse than he looked, because he took hold of his elbow and started to guide him down the hallway.
Daniel got even more stares this way, but as the small man in the lab coat apparently had him in hand, no one bothered them. As they walked, Daniel started to explain all about how he really wanted to see Jack, but he would go to a hospital if Jack was there, though really he didn’t like hospitals and he was tired of them. Finally, they arrived at what seemed to be some sort of military check point. The man in the lab coat showed his id badge, explaining how he thought Daniel must have hit his head.
“What’s his name,” the guard asked in a bored tone. The lab coat man looked a bit startled, as though only just realizing that he hadn’t thought to ask.
“Jack O’Neill,” Daniel announced suddenly, and the guard accepted that as his name, trying to do a search in the computer.
“Hey,” the second guard said, as Daniel attempted to move forward with the box, “You can’t take that out without the proper permits.” Daniel glared at him for a second, and when the guard made a move to take the box, he turned it on. Both guards and the man in the lab coat were enveloped in the light.
“Let me out!” Daniel shouted, getting impatient with everyone, and when the light vanished he was allowed to pass through the doors without being challenged. The man in the lab coat followed, seemingly not even aware that something strange had just taken place. When they reached a second check point, they had even less trouble as the guards assumed they had both already been searched and allowed them to leave almost immediately. They stepped outside.
Daniel looked around in sudden confusion as it occurred to him for the first time that he didn’t really know where he was, or how to get to Jack from there. The lab coat man tugged at his elbow, wanting to guide him to his car so that he could get him to a hospital and Daniel finally allowed himself to be led. They walked around the side of the building, towards the garage, but before they could get there a dark form suddenly arose from the shadows. The man in the lab coat shrieked, jumping back. Daniel squinted, frowning slightly.
“Daniel?” the form asked in a surprised tone, and then Daniel leapt happily into the figures arms with an excited cry. He had found Jack.
Jack approached the building cautiously, shadowed by Teal’c and Sam. Getting there had been almost ridiculously easy. Once Jack finally had a location, they had acted quickly. They had played the being lost routine, using a van full of their youngest looking recruits to play the part of a youth group on their way to church camp. The building’s claim to being a medical research facility and in no way military aided their deception; apparently the NID felt it was more important to remain unnoticed than to post the obvious guards to keep everyone out and security, at least on the outside of the building, was minimum. Jack was sure this was deceptive, and the real trouble would be to get into the building. For now, they were slinking about the garage while their ‘youth group’ checked things out, under the guise of a bathroom break.
Jack knew they had to be patient. So far, the reports weren’t favorable. Despite the open appearance of the building, the elevators would only open if you had the proper card to swipe, and it had quickly become obvious that anything interesting was going to be several stories down.
“So,” Jack whispered, “Any ideas on getting into the hidden underground lair and saving the scientist?” This earned a stare from each of his teammates. Just when he started to think they would actually call him on his inappropriate trivialization of the situation, Teal’c answered.
“I do not understand why in these stories the villains are referred to as evil ‘overlords’ if they dwell in underground lairs. Should they not be evil ‘underlords’?” Jack blinked.
“So what’s the plan, sir?” Sam asked.
“Right,” Jack said, running what they knew through his head like and playing out the various possible scenarios, weighing them against their likelihood of success.
“First, we need one of those card thingies to get to the lower levels. Even more important, I think we could do with a guide. I think we need to grab one of these medical geeks to take us down.”
“Someone approaches, O’Neill,” Teal’c announced, and instantly everyone was on alert, Jack already assessing shadows and angles in case this was the person they needed to grab. Then he heard the voice. It wasn’t possible. There was no way that he could be hearing right. Then the scientist was approaching their position, pulling at the elbow of another man, a man who appeared to be somewhat out of it but otherwise very familiar. Not quite able to believe his eyes, or his ears, Jack slipped out of the shadows.
“Daniel?” he whispered, hesitantly. With a happy cry of ‘Jack!’, Daniel leapt into his arms. The scientist who had been leading him along was now backing away, until he back right up into Teal’c.
“Daniel?” Jack asked again, frowning now that he got a good look at him. There were bruises forming on the side of his face, not to mention the blood that seemed to have splattered from his nose. His shirt, too was drenched in blood, and there was a strange look in his eyes that Jack didn’t like. It seemed he had been drugged.
“Are you Jack O’Neill?” the scientist Teal’c was holding asked, and Jack jerked his head away from Daniel to look at him with an almost accusing stare.
“He keeps asking for you,” the man explained, “I think he hit his head or something; he was just walking around the halls clutching that box. I was taking him to the hospital.” Jack continued to stare at the scientist. Either the man was a very quick liar, or he really had no idea what was going on. Normally in a case like this Jack would assume he was lying, but the situation of Daniel showing up in the garage of all places, practically unguarded, was just bizarre enough to make him think it might actually be the truth.
“Daniel,” Jack said, attracting the man’s attention with some small difficulty. Daniel wasn’t holding the box anymore, having let it drop to the ground in favor of Jack’s arms, and Sam had picked it up to look at it.
“Jack?” Daniel asked, when Jack finally got him to look him in the eyes.
“Daniel, listen to me,” Jack instructed, “How did you leave the building?” Daniel looked vaguely puzzled by the question, as though Jack had just asked him an enormously difficult word problem. Then he smiled.
“I found you!” he said, “I wanted to find you so I kept walking and told everyone to let me go, and they did!” Jack refused to be worried by the way Daniel was acting. They would get him to Janet, whatever drugs he had been given would get out of his system, and Daniel would be fine. He had to believe that, but for now, he had to get Daniel to work through whatever was muddling his mind and answer his questions.
“You told them to let you go, and they did?” he asked. Daniel was still smiling with that expression that was almost frightening in its open innocence.
“Yes,” Daniel answered, and then the smile changed to a wounded frown. “They wouldn’t let me see you,” he said, his eyes filling with tears, “I just wanted to go home, and it hurt, and you weren’t there…”
“Hey, hey it’s ok now,” Jack whispered, soothingly, “I’m here now; we’re all here.” Daniel blinked his eyes, and for a moment he looked almost normal.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry…I know I’m a bit…” he started and then gestured, letting go of Jack for a moment and then almost losing his balance, “I just…I was translating the box…only really it’s a toy, but I didn’t tell them…I didn’t tell them anything and she got angry…”
“Should we not leave, O’Neill, now that we have found Daniel Jackson?” Teal’c asked suddenly.
“Yes of course,” Jack answered, not quite able to get over the fact that Daniel was there, alive in his arms; that he had just walked right out of the building. It seemed too good to be true. He knew it was too good to be true, and so he almost felt relieved, in a horrified sort of way, when he heard the gunfire.
It took a second for Jack’s shocked mind to realize he was hearing it over his earpiece; the men in the building must have been found out. Then he was shouting orders, making calls, while he half dragged Daniel towards their van. They had almost made it when a woman appeared running towards them, though by the look on her face she was just as surprised to see them as they were to see her. Jack felt Daniel stiffen in his arms, and then her gun was drawn, pointed towards them.
“Do not move,” she ordered, and Jack recognized her from the photograph.
“Colonel Attison,” he said, “You’re looking…undead.” He tried to get Daniel to move behind him slowly, but Daniel seemed disinclined to move. He was still stiff in his arms, his eyes wide. Teal’c and Sam had their own weapons drawn, but otherwise made no move. Teal’c still held onto the scientist, not trusting him enough to let him go but at the same time shielding him behind a stone pillar. If Teal’c had been free to move on his own, he might have been able to subdue her, but as it is all he could do was aim his gun and watch.
“Colonel O’Neill,” the woman answered, her voice cold, and her gun aimed unwaveringly at Daniel, “I see you found your beloved.” Jack refused to rise to the bait, either to deny or confirm.
“You are outnumbered here,” Jack said, keeping his voice calm, “Don’t make it harder on yourself. Put down the gun.”
“Or what?” she demanded, “You’ll shoot me? Not before I get off a shot. I might be dead, but so will your beloved.”
“No one needs to kill anyone,” Jack answered, his voice deceptively calm.
“You are wrong,” Colonel Attison answered, “As I believe your major will agree.” She smiled, and suddenly Jack found a gun aimed at his head. Sam looked at him, almost apologetically. Daniel started to move at last, distressed.
“Sam?” he asked, staring into her eyes.
“Carter?” Jack repeated, when she didn’t answer Daniel.
“Sorry sir,” she answered, “But this abomination of love must end.” And she turned towards Daniel and fired. The sound was deafening in the garage, and the silence that followed was thundering. Daniel slumped back limply into Jack’s arms.
Jack grabbed Daniel as he fell, staring at Sam in horror. Suddenly, there didn’t seem to be enough air to breathe.
“Very good, Major Carter,” Colonel Attison said, smiling grimly, “Now why don’t you bring that artifact over here.”
“Right,” Sam answered, holding up that strange box Daniel had been carrying. Then she turned, facing Colonel Attison, and fired once more.
Everything happened very quickly. Jack was throwing himself over Daniel protectively, Teal’c throwing the scientist to the ground behind the pillar and Colonel Attison fired reflexively as a bullet entered her brain. Sam was thrown back into Jack and Daniel, Colonel Attison was crumbling to the ground, and then all was silent and still. Nobody moved for a long second afterwards, until the scientist Teal’c held behind the pillar fainted. Then, suddenly, Jack took a long, shuddering breath.
“Daniel?” he asked, “Carter?” Daniel was warm and real beneath him, and Sam was stirring on top of them, shaking her head with a slight groan.
“Ow,” she mumbled, then, “Sorry Daniel. Seems I broke your box.”
“No…” Jack disagreed, “that was Miss Attison over there. Good aim, Carter. Now think you can get off of us?” Sam mumbled something vaguely derogatory when Teal’c joined them, helping her up.
“Are you harmed?” he asked, concerned.
“No…like I said, that box took the bullet,” Sam answered, “I just got knocked off my feet. How is Daniel, sir?”
“Deaf,” Daniel murmured from Jack’s arms, not bothering to open his eyes, “Someone fired a gun in my ear.” Everyone turned to look at him, heartened by this apparently lucid moment, but he had slumped back again and didn’t seem likely to get up any time soon.
“Good aim, Carter,” Jack said, all the while looking over Daniel, trying to determine how badly he might be hurt. The bullet Sam had fired at him had actually gone over his shoulder, though with all the blood already covering his chest he still looked a gory mess. Pulling open he shirt, Jack winced. He was so glad Colonel Attison was dead.
“All right kids,” he said at last, willing to leave the clean up to the marines and anxious to get Daniel back into Janet’s waiting hands, “Let’s go home.”
“So all this was over some Ancient toy?” Jack asked, staring skeptically at the dozen or so photographs Daniel had scattered across the briefing room table. Some had been taken from the notes found in the NID’s secret base; others were of the fragments left over after Colonel Attison had shot it.
“Basically…yeah,” Daniel answered, sounding reassuringly lucid and Daniel-like if not up to his full strength. Janet sat next to him, a decidedly dark look on her face. While Daniel had finally been cleared to go home, or at least to Jack’s home, she had not approved of this debriefing. “It was sort of like hypnosis,” Daniel continued, “You play it on your friends and get them to do whatever you say. Within reason, of course, I mean, if you asked to do something completely against their nature, they wouldn’t do it. That’s how I got out of the base…once I got it working I just kept telling people to let me out, and they did.”
“Not against their nature?” Sam asked, looked decidedly unnerved. It didn’t help that Daniel still flinched every time she made any sudden moves.
“No, no, I mean…” Daniel started, flinching slightly again in spite of himself. If Sam was feeling guilty then Daniel felt equally so because he knew he was making her feel guilty and still he couldn’t help himself. Even knowing it wasn’t her, it was still her voice that had said those things and her touch and, really, he still felt jumpy when anyone startled him.
“It really wasn’t quite the same with you, Major,” Janet interjected, bringing up her own charts, “They were using similar technology without understanding it. As near as I can tell, this box was meant to instantly put people into a suggestive state, allowing Daniel to manipulate them. The brain scans on everyone he turned the box onto came out clean. What was used on you was completely different; they tried to combine the box’s power, which they didn’t really understand, with another technology.”
“Exactly,” Jack agreed heartily, as though he had done the research himself, “You’re debugged, Daniel’s detoxified, and Teal’c’s…Teal’c.”
“Right,” Daniel answered, doubtfully, “So once I translated it, I was able to turn it on, and walked out just in time to meet up with everyone.”
“Thanks to one of Carter’s little bugs,” Jack added, feeling a little guilty himself about how coldly he had been treating Sam. It was her tracking bug, deftly maneuvered by way of miniature camera onto her contact by Jack, that had led them to Daniel in the first place.
“I do not understand why they would allow you access to this artifact, Daniel Jackson,” Teal’c announced, “Would it not have been safer to show you pictures of the symbols?”
“Yes…yes it would but look at these pictures,” Daniel explained, shoving a picture towards him, “The artifact wasn’t very photogenic. Some of the finer symbols don’t show up at all and, well, you really had to see them in place to make much sense of them”
“I see,” Teal’c answered.
“And really, they didn’t have much reason to think I’d be a threat. I mean, they weren’t letting me touch it myself, I was still hurt, and drugged.”
“I’ll say,” Jack mumbled to himself, earning a glare from Daniel. The first day or so back while the drugs were still working there way out of his system had been interesting, to say the least. Jack had considered making a few recordings for blackmail purposes. Luckily, they had found detailed notes of everything Daniel had been given, and once the drugs were out of his system he was basically back to normal, with no ill effects.
“So basically, sir,” Jack said, after everyone had a chance to explain things and go over their charts, “Makepeace zapped Sam, those armbands made her crazy, Daniel almost died, again, Sam got better, Daniel got kidnapped, Sam played with her doohickeys, we stormed the fortress, Daniel walked out, Sam shot Colonel Attison, she shot the alien toy, and we all came home.”
After a moment of silence, Janet started to respond, stumbling slightly, saying, “Well that’s…”
“Concise?” Daniel supplied.
“Indeed,” Teal’c said. Then Sam actually giggled, causing everyone to turn worriedly towards her.
“Sorry,” she said, coming swiftly back under control, and on that note, Hammond ended the debriefing.
|Genres:||Angst, Established Relationship, Hurt/Comfort, Romance|
|Warnings:||Adult Themes, Non-Consensual Sex Acts|
|Summary:||Someone is trying to hurt Daniel. Will SG1 figure it out in time?|
Author's Chapter Notes:
Warning: This story contains mention of past rape (canon and slightly non-canon) On-screen there is nothing more explicit than non-con groping and some very consensual kissing between two males. Other than that, the occasional violence, and a single swear word in the first chapter this fic is fairly clean