Backlash

Author: Orrymain
Category:  Pre-Slash, Angst, H/C of the mental kind, Missing Scene/Epilogue
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  1
Spoilers:  Hathor, Brief Candle, and Cold Lazarus (minor)
Size:  54kb
Written:  October 3-7,16-17,24, 2004  Revised:  November 25,27,29-30, December 2,4, 2007
Summary:  As Jack and Daniel commiserate over Hathor's visit to the SGC, Jack reveals a shocking truth about his past.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
2) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Drdjlover, QuinGem, Kat, Sue, Linda, Brandy, Claudia, Melissa, Carol!

Backlash
by Orrymain

“Daniel, why don't we go check on Fraiser and Carter's progress before we leave?” Jack asked as he picked up his jacket.

Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c had just finished dressing in one of the SGC locker rooms.  The base had several locker rooms of varying sizes and layouts to accommodate all the personnel.

The young man nodded as he rose to his feet and started to walk out.

“Daniel,” Jack called out.  When the younger man just stared at him blankly, the colonel said, “Your jacket,” nodding over to the bench where Daniel's jacket was.

Daniel took a deep breath and then walked to the bench.  He picked up the jacket and stared at it for moment.

~What's wrong, Danny?~

Finally, almost moving in slow motion, the archaeologist slipped his jacket on and again headed for the exit.

Jack watched his friend carefully, making allowances for his dazed behavior by thinking, ~Maybe you're just tired.  I know I am.~  Seeing the Jaffa dressed in his civvies, he asked, “Teal'c, coming for dinner?”

“I have other plans, O'Neill.”

“Plans?  Care to share?” Jack asked inquisitively.

“I do not.”

Jack was about to inquire about what the plans were, but the Jaffa's intense glare seemed to warn him against it, so instead, he responded, “Oooookay,” and turned his attention back towards his best friend.  “Daniel, how about Chinese tonight?”  He noted the shrug of indifference Daniel gave him at the suggestion as they exited the locker room.  Given Chinese was Daniel's favorite take out food, the reaction was a little odd.  Something was amiss; he just didn't know what.  “There's a documentary on historic Egyptian fig...”  He paused, shaking his head, and then stated, “Forget that.  We'll watch hockey.”

The older man waited for his friend to put up some kind of token argument at that but, Daniel said nothing.  In fact, he hadn't said anything since the briefing, and even during it, he'd been unusually quiet.

~Odd,~ Jack thought as he processed some information.  The absence of Daniel's normal detailed report had made the meeting uncharacteristically short, especially since Sam's review of the latest Goa'uld incident to embroil the SGC had been a bit skimpy on facts as well; and, now that he thought about it, even Janet Fraiser's report seemed a bit thin on the surface.  ~What have I missed?  Something, that's for sure.  Daniel is never this quiet.~

Walking into another, larger locker room that included a whirlpool in the shower area, the trio saw Janet and Sam taking samples of the Goa'uld remains.  

Hathor had used the whirlpool as a kind of incubator for her Goa'uld larva, and Jack shuddered as he remembered the close call he'd had.  If Sam had been any later in leading the uprising to overpower the false goddess, he would now be impregnated with Hathor's Goa'uld larva.  Setting fire to the whirlpool had destroyed the 'children', whose charred remains now floated in the murky looking water.  The two women were taking samples of these remains.

“Did you find anything?” the colonel inquired.

Janet answered, “Probably nothing we can use.  Maybe we'll at least get a cellular-level analysis on the Goa'ulds, maybe even find some DNA information.”

Daniel stared down in the direction where the two females were working.  He felt nervous and uncomfortable and wished he could simply shrivel up and hide inside the oversized jacket he was wearing.  He really didn't have to say it; Janet would find out soon enough, anyway.

The archaeologist spoke up, revealing, “A lot of that will probably be mine.”

Seated on the bench by the tiled ceramic wall, Jack looked up at Daniel, making a face as he expressed a sympathetic, “Eww.”  ~There is definitely a story here, and it's not pleasant.~

“Yeah.”

Before Jack could say anything more substantial, General Hammond entered, prompting Jack to rise.  He watched as the major general moved forward, taking a position directly in front of the two working women.

At the sight of the SGC commander, Sam started explaining and apologizing once again for hitting Hammond, something she had been forced to do while she had led the women in her plan to retake control of the SGC from Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of “sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll” as Jack called her.

Hathor had been imprisoned in stasis for almost two-thousand years in a sarcophagus in the Mayan Temple of the Inscriptions in Palenque, Mexico until two archaeologists accidentally released her.  With her new-found freedom, she'd immediately gone to Cheyenne Mountain, claiming she'd been drawn to the Stargate.  Once there, she had taken control of the SGC, having exhibited some kind of strange allure over the male personnel, leaving it up to the women to save the day.

//Flashback//
Sitting in front of a computer, Sam called up the information and read it to Janet who stood nearby.

“According to the stories, this woman had magical powers over men. She was supposed to be able to seduce them into doing anything for her.  In almost every case, it describes them as 'drunk with her presence'.”

Janet responded, “Well, that would be how I'd describe our boys.”

“Yeah.  Now I figure she's using some form of Goa'uld technology.  Any ideas?”

Thoughtfully, the physician answered, “My guess would be some sort of chemical we've never seen, a sort of super pheromone combined with something like Sodium Pentothal; probably airborne delivery.”
//End of Flashback//

Once they'd worked out how the drug worked, Sam and Janet had led the female personnel in an effort to retake the base.  With the help of Teal'c, whose symbiote protected him from being affected by Hathor’s ‘poison’, they were able to drive Hathor from the SGC.  Her control over the men ended with her departure through the Stargate, all of them returning to their own senses almost immediately.

Hammond interrupted Sam's explanation, saying, “Captain, I'm putting you and Doctor Fraiser up for a commendation medal.”  He saw the shock on both women's faces and continued, “If you hadn't kept your wits about you and done whatever was necessary, we could have put this entire planet at risk.  Good job, ladies.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Sam replied proudly, smiling.

After Hammond walked out, Jack smiled and acknowledged the accomplishment of Sam and Janet by praising, “Nice job.”

“Yeah,” Daniel added.

~You just can't stop talking, can you, Danny?  Your DNA?  I'm so not liking the sound of this,~ Jack thought.  “Well, ladies, we're off.  Good luck with the tests.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Janet responded.

“Goodnight,” Sam added.

“Teal'c, need a ride?”

“I do not.”

“Well ... have fun.  Tell me all about it later,” Jack requested, his curiosity definitely piqued since the Jaffa just didn't have that many nights out of the SGC.

“I will not, O'Neill.”

“Why not?”

“Would you like to tell me about your experiences with Kynthia on ...?”

“Have a good time, Teal'c,” Jack said with a nervous smile.  ~I'd just as soon as not even think about Kynthia.  Seven unblissful days on Argos was more than enough for me.~  Looking at the younger man, he said, “Daniel, let's go.”

“Night, Sam.  Night, Janet,” Daniel spoke before turning and following Jack out the door.  “Goodnight, Teal'c.”

As the two friends headed for the elevator, Jack noted, “You know I think that's the most you've said all night.”

“What?”

“Nothing.  Danny, I forgot something in my office.  I'll meet you upstairs.”

The elevator doors opened, and Daniel got in, leaving Jack behind.  Jack didn't really like the thought of leaving the younger man alone; something told him that was the last thing he should do; yet, he had a strong suspicion that his 2IC knew more than she had let on in the briefing.  He realized that if he wanted to help Daniel, he needed as much information as he could get because he was pretty sure that Daniel wasn't going to tell him anything if he could help it.  The colonel returned to the locker room, hoping to get to the bottom of things.

====

“Carter, do you have a minute?” Jack asked, motioning towards the corridor with his head.

“I thought you left, Sir,” Sam commented.

“I came back.”

Sam nodded, excused herself, and followed Jack into the hallway.

Jack looked around to make sure they were alone and that they were far enough away from the doorway so that Janet couldn't overhear their conversation.  Of course, if he couldn't get the answers he needed from Sam, he might well be turning to Janet next.

“Carter, in the briefing, Daniel's report was not exactly his normal, unending 'when will this ever end' essay.”

“I ... noticed that.”

“Yours seemed to be a bit vague in places, too.”  Seeing Sam look away, Jack knew his suspicions were correct.  “Carter?” he prompted sternly.

“Sir, everything that needed to be said was.”

~She's covering.~  Jack looked down, fidgeting slightly, and then he looked back at his 2IC, requesting, “Tell me what didn't need to be said.”  He saw the hesitation in the blonde's eyes.  She looked down, then off to the side, and then she bounced for a second on the balls of her feet, something she often did when she was especially nervous about something.  “I’ll make it an order if I have to, Carter.”

Jack didn't want to force Sam to break a confidence, but he was willing do to whatever was necessary to help Daniel.

Sam took a breath and then began, “Sir, when we were searching the base for Hathor, we found ...”

When the blonde paused, Jack prodded, “Found what?”

“Not what, who.”

~I know I'm not going to like this,~ the colonel bemoaned.  “Okay, who?”

“Daniel.”

“Daniel?” Jack questioned.

“On a ... bed in one of the rooms,” Sam stated quietly, looking around herself to make sure no one was in listening range.

“Bed?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Doing what?” Jack asked more sharply.

“Just ... sitting, staring at nothing.”

“Carter!” Jack warned.

“He was catatonic.  There was no response from him to anything I said.  He just stared.  He ... Sir, the bed was messed up, sheets crumpled; a lamp turned over on the side table.  Daniel's clothes and appearance were, um, like he had just gotten dressed ... and, uh, well, there was a scent of ...”

Jack actually stepped back.  He knew his own experience with Hathor had been bad, but all he had been forced to do was kiss the femme fatale.  It sounded now like Daniel had been forced to do much more than that.  He closed his eyes as the reality of the events set in.

“I felt guilty that we couldn't stay and help him, but there wasn't any time.  The next time I saw him, he was fine.”

“You mean he seemed fine,” the SG-1 team leader clarified.

“Yes, Sir.”

“Colonel, Janet and I talked about it before we went into the briefing.  We felt it was Daniel's place to bring it up.  He didn't, so we didn't either.  Maybe we should have,” Sam spoke in retrospect.

Jack took a deeper breath.  He had mixed emotions about how to proceed.  Not knowing how their battle with the Goa'uld would play out in the future, part of him thought they needed to include all the facts in the report, no matter how painful; the other part of him was concerned for the emotional wellbeing of his best friend, especially considering that his feelings for Daniel went beyond that of friendship, something he was still coming to terms with on some levels.

“Listen, Carter, for now, status quo.  We might amend the reports later, but not unless you hear from me.  Understood?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“No.  Carter, I am *ordering* you and Doctor Fraiser not to include what you saw in your reports, or discuss it with anyone, even off the record,” Jack said, intending to take the full brunt of any fallout from the omission of the Hathor's rape of the archaeologist and Daniel's subsequent emotional state.

“Understood, Sir,” Sam spoke appreciatively.  ~Covering our sixes after the fact?  Nice, but not necessary.~

“See you in a few days,” Jack stated, since SG-1 had a few days of downtime to allow them to recover from the traumatic events they'd all endured.

Jack headed for the parking level, expecting to find Daniel waiting for him.  Instead, he found a small note on the windshield of his truck that read, “Went home.  Have a good downtime.”

~Crap!  You're running, Danny?  I don't know what's best to do here.  Maybe you do need some time alone.  I know how that is, except I also know it's not the answer.~

Jack folded the note, put it in his pocket, and then opened the door to his Ford truck.  He got inside and started to turn on the ignition, but his right hand slipped down slowly, releasing the truck's starter.  At the same time, his left hand slid off the steering wheel.  He leaned his head back and suddenly felt like he might throw up.

~Geez, Danny, I know what you're feeling.  I wish I could have protected you from it.  You don't deserve that nightmare.  No one does; no one.~

Jack regrouped, started the truck, and headed home.

====

Jack had eaten dinner, but hadn't enjoyed a single bite of his supreme pizza.  He tried to watch a video of a baseball game he'd missed, but he couldn't stay focused on it.

~Forget the being alone crap.~

His decision made, the colonel turned everything off and headed for Daniel's apartment.  When he got there, he knocked on the door, but there wasn't an answer.

“Daniel?”  Jack knocked harder.  “Daniel, open the door.”

Jack heard the sound of the latch being moved.  Slowly, the door opened.  The archaeologist stood there, just staring.  His shaggy hair was mussed, his shirt open, and his eyes conveyed the weariness and despondency he was feeling.

“Danny?”

“Go home, Jack,” Daniel stated flatly as he started to close the door.

Before Daniel could get the door closed, Jack barged in, walking by the younger man as he spoke, “Sorry.  No can do.”

Daniel sighed and closed the door.  He turned around and walked a few feet towards the other man, who had taken a seat on the sofa.  Self-hugging from his emotional distress, the archaeologist stood rigidly, tension emanating from his body.

“Why are you here?”

“Why shouldn't I be here?” Jack asked lightly in response.

“It's late.  I'm tired.  I'd like to go to bed.”

“Go,” the older man said, extending his hand towards the hallway that led to the bedroom.

“Jack, what do you want?” Daniel asked, a hint of exasperation in his voice.

“I was thinking we could get a pizza and ...” Jack began.

“It's late,” the archaeologist repeated.

“Daniel, it's only eight o'clock; that's not late.”

“It is when you've just been ...”

“Been what?”

Daniel hesitated, buttoned up his shirt, and walked towards the kitchen area.  He looked down and again went into a self-hug, only, this time, his hold on his arms was even tighter than before.

“Through what we've been through,” the scientist answered softly.

“Sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll,” Jack stated.

Daniel looked at his friend and smiled, though Jack noticed the smile didn't reach his tired, blue eyes.

“Something like that,” Daniel responded quietly.

~I'm going to get you through this, Danny.  Trust me; I know what I'm talking about.  We start with a diversion; get you thinking about something else for ten minutes.  Later, we'll deal with the part that no one wants to remember.~  Jack stood and walked to the younger man, placing the palms of his hands on the young man's shoulders.  He smiled as he asserted lightheartedly, “That's history.  Right now, Dannyboy, it's time to party.”

“Party?  Jack, I ...”

“Let's go, Daniel,” Jack ordered, going into Daniel's bedroom and returning with a jacket he'd pulled from the closet.

“Not ... not that one,” Daniel said shyly, taking the jacket back to his bedroom and emerging a minute later wearing Jack's old brown coat, the one he'd given Daniel on his first night back from Abydos.

“Well, it's warm,” Jack commented, not knowing what else to say about the ratty old coat that had definitely seen better days.

“Yeah, it's, uh, warmer than the other one,” Daniel claimed.  ~Okay, it ... it makes me feel ... never mind,~ he thought, shutting his mind off on why he wanted to wear the older man's clothing reject.

~Is it?  I don't see how, but whatever you say,~ Jack agreed inwardly.  “Okay, let's go.”

====

Reluctantly, Daniel succumbed to the wishes of his friend and followed Jack to his house.  He'd insisted on driving his own car, though, which caused the older man to be a bit wary that the archaeologist might take a detour and disappear from his sight, going off on his own somewhere where Jack couldn't find him.

Still, Jack didn't have much of a choice and instructed, “Stay on my six.”

“I'll be right behind you,” Daniel promised as he walked to his car.

The friends stopped at a pizza joint close to Jack's home to pick up a large supreme pizza and some cheese sticks.

“Back again, Colonel?” the clerk asked when Jack and Daniel walked in.

Jack coughed as Daniel gave him a funny look; then shrugged innocently and answered awkwardly, “You know me; can't get enough of good pizza.”

“Right,” Daniel responded disbelievingly.  As they walked back to their vehicles, he remarked, “I thought we were having Chinese.”

“That was before you bolted from the SGC.  Costly error, Doctor Jackson.”

“Oh.”

For the first time since the whole Hathor chain of events started, Daniel felt a flash of warmth and comfort run through him.  He still couldn't believe that Jack had actually come to see how he was, and their little exchange over food had brought a tinge of normalcy back into his life.

====

“Jack?” Daniel stared at the cold pizza that still sat on Jack's counter.  ~The clerk was right; Jack had been in earlier, but he hasn't even touched this pizza.  We could have warmed it up.~

Jack shrugged, walked by his friend with the new pizza, and said, “Wonder how that got here.”

“Yeah, I wonder.  That, uh, clerk said you'd been there already.”

“I have ... lots of times.”

“Of course.  That explains it,” Daniel responded.  ~It explains that you're ... special, Jack.  That's what it explains,~ he determined as he smiled and took a seat at the counter, feeling another whiff of warmth from what had obviously occurred.  “Think you got enough beer?” he asked, seeing several six-packs of the brown bottles.

“Didn't want to run out,” Jack smirked.

“Having a party?”

“Maybe.  Why don't you take off your coat,” Jack said as more of a statement than a question.

“No, I ... I'm a little cold,” Daniel replied.  ~Please, I need it on.  It ... makes me feel better.  Don't make me tell you that.  Gawd, please don't, Jack.~

“So, quite an image, the Doc running around the SGC with all that firepower,” Jack commented, apparently understanding Daniel's need to wear the old coat at the moment.

“Yeah, I guess so.  Sam said she ... well, she kinda thought Janet got a kick out of it; I mean, not the why, but ...”

“Flexing her muscles,” Jack suggested.

“Something like that.”

“Who would have guessed it, Danny: Janet Fraiser: the SGC's secret little Rambo, the female version.”

“It would have been something to see.”

~Gotcha!  Not that I was trying to, but it's necessary, Danny,~ Jack expressed to himself.  “I thought you did see her.”

“What?  I, uh ... I don't remember,” Daniel admitted, looking away.

~No, you don't remember, because you were doing an imitation of a vegetable at the time.  And where was I?  Not where I should have been, that's for sure.  I let you down, again, but I won't let you down tonight.  It won't be easy, but we'll get through this, together.~

For the next hour, Jack and Daniel ate pizza and sipped on a couple of beers.  They chatted about inconsequential things, subjects mostly unrelated to the SGC.  Jack, however, was concentrating on his friend.  He hadn't missed the fidgeting, the almost constant self-hugging, the fact that Daniel still hadn't removed his coat, and, the most crucial thing, Daniel's eyes: distant, sad, full of regret, guilt, and even hopelessness.

~Your eyes give you away, Daniel.  I learned that about you almost from the day we met.  You're hiding, keeping it all in.  I can't let you do that tonight.  For the good of the team; and ... who am I kidding?  Forget the team.  I have to do this for you,~ Jack opined.  He stretched and walked into the living room, while chitchatting, “Good pizza.”

“Yes, it was.  I should go now.”

“Nah.  Let's go look at the stars,” Jack suggested.  ~Truth under the moonlight.  It's hard to deny what's real when you're up there.~

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, the roof.”

Daniel considered arguing, but why bother?  Jack would just follow and pester him to death, so he went along.  He'd do his time on the roof deck and then go home, home to his private nightmare and his solitude.

~Jack will be sick of me by then, anyway.  Gawd, I'm sick of me.  What kind of man am I, anyway?~

====

“So then Kawalsky dropped his pants, handed her his boxers, and said, 'Will these do?'  I was sure she'd report us, but she didn't.”

Daniel laughed softly and supposed, “It was probably your charm that kept her from turning you two in.”

“Charm, eh?  Sara said I was charming, but that was a long time ago,” Jack said, taking another swig.  ~A very long time ago.  Don't start, O'Neill.  He's your best friend.  Don't friggin' blow it by letting him know you ... care more than you should.  Geez, do not think about that now.~

“Jack, are you okay?  You looked a little ... I don't know ... sad.”

“I'm fine.”

Daniel took another sip of his beer.  He wondered if Jack's melancholic mood was because he missed his wife, or was she his ex-wife now?  Jack didn't talk about Sara very much, but Daniel believed he was still in love with her.  He also believed Sara returned Jack's feelings, based on what he had seen at the hospital after the situation with the unity crystal.

“Maybe you should call Sara.  I think she still loves you,” Daniel opined.

“Call Sara?  Oh, ah, no,” the older man spoke.  He shrugged and informed, “That's over, Danny.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Me, too,” Jack quickly agreed.  ~In some ways, but not in others.~  “Danny, we need to talk, but I need to go to the bathroom.  Beer,” he laughed, adding, “I'll be back.”

====

When Jack returned, he kicked himself for not anticipating his friend's actions.  Daniel was gone, but had left a note, written on the back side of one of his business cards, beneath an empty beer bottle that said simply, “Tired.  Need sleep.  I'll call you tomorrow.”

“Crap, Daniel.”

Jack sat down in one of the two chairs that sat on the roof deck and began going through an internal debate, trying to decide whether to chase Daniel down again or just let it go.  Maybe Daniel did need to be alone.  Maybe.  He briefly tried to remember if solitude had helped him in the past, but a stabbing feeling in his gut stopped his efforts.  He couldn't think about it, not yet.

As the clock approached eleven, Jack was still sitting on the roof, holding the same beer he'd picked up when Daniel had left.  He was still debating when he suddenly and violently tossed the bottle against the rail.

As he did so, Jack stood up and cried out loudly, “No!  For crying out loud, Daniel, you do *not* need to be alone right now.”  He sighed, ~Being alone does not work; that I *do* remember clearly.~  He turned, prepared to chase down the archaeologist once again, but stopped cold when he came face to face with the younger man.  His heart almost stopped beating from the shock.  He hadn't been caught that off-guard in a very long time.  “Daniel?”

“You're right,” Daniel spoke, his breathing visibly labored.  He'd been sitting outside the front of the colonel's front door, unable to make himself go any further.  He was so used to doing things alone, to being alone, but over the last year, Jack had always been there for him, and he was hoping that this time wouldn't be any different.  Tears began to run down his face as he cried, “She ... help me, Jack.  Please, help me.”

In a flash, Jack crossed the deck and took his friend into his arms, assuring, “It'll be okay.”

“She ... gawd,” Daniel said, trembling at the nightmare he was reliving now.  He pulled away from Jack and ran to the railing.  His hands held on to it with a death grip as he proclaimed, “I should have fought her.  I tried, but not enough.”

“Danny, you couldn't fight her.  None of us could.  We were drugged.”

“Don't you understand?”  Daniel turned around quickly to face Jack.  “She didn't just tell me what to do.  *She raped me!*”

The younger man was full of rage and guilt, anger and fear, and so much more.  He thought his words would shock the older man.

Instead, Jack responded with a quiet, “I know.”

“Wha...what?” Daniel asked, feeling as if he'd just been hit with cold water.

Suddenly, Daniel felt completely drained of energy.  He assumed that everyone would think the same that had happened to Jack was what had happened to him, or something similar at the very least.  He was shocked that the man standing in front of him not only knew it was rape, but thoroughly believed the act of violation had occurred.  After all, he'd only admitted to the DNA in the locker room being his because he knew Janet's test would reveal that fact anyway.

Jack's words cut through him like a sword cutting his legs off at the knees, and Daniel collapsed to the wood of the deck floor.

Jack hurried to him, kneeling down and placing his hands on Daniel's shaking shoulders.  He saw the falling tears, heard the heartbroken cries, and the sound broke his own heart.

“Carter said she and the Doc found you in the room.  It was pretty obvious to them what had gone on.”

“Jack,” Daniel cried, his entire body shaking, tears increasing, and shaking his head, wanting to deny it all, but not being able to.  “Ja...Jack,” he stuttered as he fell into his friend's embrace.

The older man closed his eyes, hating the torment the young man was feeling.  He rubbed Daniel's back and just held on as tightly as he could.

“Why?  Why did she do that?” Daniel cried.

“Because she's a witch.  I won't let her hurt you again, Danny,” Jack heard himself promise.  ~Careful, O'Neill.  Help him; don't confuse him.~

“Sha're.  How do I tell her that I cheated on her?”

“Cheated?”  Jack pushed Daniel back to look into his eyes and stated, “Daniel, listen to me.  You're a genius.  I know you know the difference between consensual sex and rape.”

“I should have fought her.”

“You tried,” Jack insisted.

“I did, but not hard enough, or she ... I must not have tried that hard.”

“Daniel, you were drugged.  You couldn't fight her,” Jack said, squeezing Daniel's shoulders to try and support his message.

“Sha're's my wife.  I ...”

“Danny, look,” Jack began, searching for words that might help.  “Sha're is being forced to do things she doesn't want to do.  We've talked about that before.  Are you going to hold that against her when we get her back?”

“No, of course not,” Daniel answered without hesitation.  “Apophis is forcing her to ... to ... she'd never ... not of her own free will.”

“You're right.  She loves you, and she'd never betray you.  I don't really know Sha're that well, but I do know she's a good woman; a strong woman.  She'll understand, Danny, just as you understand.  What's happening to her, and what happened to you, is the same thing.”

“I wanted to fight.  I wanted her off of me.  I couldn't get her to stop,” Daniel sobbed.

Jack hugged Daniel to his chest, keeping him close as he urged, “Let it out, Danny.  Go ahead.  Let it all out.”

“It's so easy for you,” Daniel accused, suddenly letting his anger take hold of his emotions.  He pulled back and stood up, moving so that his back was against the railing.  “She violated me!  You can't just make that go away.”

“I know, but it will get better.  You'll go on.  Maybe you'll never forget it, but it'll become a ... footnote in your life.  You have to let that happen.  Forgive yourself, Danny, because it wasn't your fault.”

“YOU'RE FULL OF IT, O'NEILL.  YOU DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!  YOU STAND THERE AND TELL ME SHA'RE WILL UNDERSTAND.  YOU ACT SO CALM.  GAWD, IT WON'T EVER BE ALL RIGHT.  FORGIVE MYSELF?  SHE FREAKIN' RAPED ME, AND I LET IT HAPPEN.  WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?  NOTHING, JACK.  NOTHING.  JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Daniel darted around the colonel and headed for the ladder, determined to return home.

“I know what you know, Daniel.  I know *exactly* how you feel ... and then some.”

With his hands on the ladder, Daniel froze.  He'd heard the tone, rather than the words.  He turned slowly to look at Jack, who hadn't moved.  As they stood now, Jack's back was to Daniel.  The younger man was sure he was over-dramatizing the other man's remarks.

“You're talking about Kynthia,” the anguished archaeologist surmised, suddenly feeling guilty and selfish.

~Listen to his tone,~ Jack thought.  ~He still thinks Argos was his fault.~

~How could I be so cruel?~ the shaggy-haired man wondered as he recalled Jack's experience on Argos and what he felt was his own culpability in it.  ~Maybe this is my punishment for being such a failure back then,~ he thought, trembling slightly at the idea.

~Why does he do this: blame himself for things that aren't even close to being his fault?~ Jack wondered.

~An eye for an eye, a rape ...~ the tormented archaeologist couldn't even finish his thought and had to struggle to control the nausea he suddenly felt.  If this was how Jack had felt after Argos, then he could understand; but that didn't seem right.  Jack had been pretty clear that he didn't view sleeping with Kynthia as rape.  To him, it was as if he'd gone to a party gone awry, got drunk, and then had sex with a strange woman.  It was nothing less, and nothing more.

~Yep, that's guilt on his face,~ Jack observed as he turned around to face the other man.  ~His eyes always tell the story,~ he sighed inwardly.

~Were you lying to me?~  Now, as the two men faced each other, Daniel wondered if Jack's reassurances about what had happened on Argos with Kynthia had just been a platitude, spouted at him in an attempt to make him feel better.  “You said that was nothing.”

“It was, and I'm not talking about that,” Jack responded without hesitation.  “Danny, Kynthia was a party.  I had too much to drink; okay, eat, and we partied.  It was like sleeping with a bottle: cold, empty, and just there because of the drug.”  He paused and then said lightly, “It happens,” while shrugging, dismissing the Argos event entirely.

Daniel was relieved that he hadn't completely misread Jack on that score, but if that was the case, then what was the colonel referring to now?

“I ... I don't un...understand,” Daniel stammered.  “You ... know?”  After seeing his friend swallow hard and nod, the archaeologist slowly walked a few steps forward.  “If you're not talking about Kynthia, then wh...what do you mean ... you know?”

Jack took a breath and turned around, needing to look away, but then he turned again and stared into Daniel's eyes, stating very matter-of-factly, “Because in another lifetime, *I* was raped.”

Daniel was in total shock as he stuttered, “Yyyyou?”

“That's why I know Kynthia was nothing.  I've been there, for real, and it's not the same thing,” Jack stated.

“Yes, it is,” Daniel spoke, still standing by his conviction that what had occurred on Argos was rape.

“Danny, will you forget about Argos,” Jack stated in frustration, refusing to equate his bad decision making on the planet with outright rape.  “The point is, rape can happen to anyone, and it did happen to me.  Details aren't important, and it wasn't a Goa'uld, and it wasn't Kynthia.”  He paused; then confided, “I was drugged, choiceless, and I couldn't fight them, either.  It was ... violation beyond what anyone should have to endure.”

“Tttth...them?”  To Daniel's horror, he saw Jack's nervous blink.  He knew his friend was about to say something, but when Jack opened his mouth, nothing came out.  “More than one?”

As Daniel watched, Jack regrouped, straightening his shoulders, taking a deep breath, and clearing his throat before he spoke next.

“It wasn't pretty, Daniel.  I'm just saying that I do know what you're feeling.  It's not going to disappear over night, but the pain will lessen, and you do have to forgive yourself, because, if you don't, it'll fester until it destroys you.  You were raped, violated in the most intimate way possible.  You didn't give that ... lowlife anything, Danny.  She took, and that's meaningless.  You did nothing wrong, and you have nothing ... *nothing*to feel guilty about.”

“Gawd, Jack, I'm so sorry,” Daniel responded, his compassion for his friend coming from the depths of his soul.

“Me, too.  Uh,” Jack had lost more composure than he intended.  “How about a beer?”

Daniel nodded, and the two sat down in the chairs Jack had on his deck. They moved them closer together, narrowing the distance between them to practically nil.

“Hathor's a real witch,” Jack spat.

“The worst kind,” Daniel agreed.

Both men took a swig of beer to seal their agreement.

Daniel added, “It was probably the only way she could get any.”

Jack chuckled, “You're right.  Not even the Goa'uld want her.  No one missed her apparently.”

“Nope, no one,” Daniel said as both took several swigs of beer.  “I guess she didn't get the hint that she wasn't wanted.”

“Not much of a kisser,” Jack opined, shaking his head and making a sour face.

“Not much good at *it*, either,” Daniel said, his attempted joke turning serious.  ~Not that I have a lot to compare it with, but ...~

Daniel couldn't sit any longer and stood, looking over the edge of the roof deck towards the rear of the backyard.  Uncharacteristically, he threw his empty beer bottle against the side of the railing, causing it to break.  His hands again gripped the rail.

Jack hurried to Daniel, putting his left hand on his friend's back, trying to comfort him in any way that he could.  His heart ached.  He loved Daniel Jackson, much more than as a best friend, but that was his secret, and it was one he needed to keep to himself, especially right now.

The older man glanced down at the broken bottle Daniel had thrown.  It was now intermingled with the remnants of the empty bottle he'd broken just a bit earlier.  He sighed, wondering if the shattered pieces of glass meant their lives were doomed to be full of heartache.

~No, I don't believe that,~ Jack resolved.  ~They're just two broken bottles, and they don't mean anything.~

“Is this what Sha're feels like all the time, Jack?  For me, it's over, and we can sit here and ... and drink beer and ... gawd, laugh, but she's still out there, and he's ... you know he's ... something of the host survives.  She knows, Jack.  I know she knows.”

“I wish that wasn't true,” Jack stated, but knowing it could be.

Daniel looked at Jack in surprise and asked, “You're not going to tell me she doesn't feel it?”

“I'll never lie to you, Danny.  I don't know what Sha're feels or doesn't feel, but from what we've seen and heard, on some level, she might.  I just don't know.”

“It hurts, Jack.  I want to save her.”

“We will,” the colonel asserted.

“Jack ...”

Jack pulled Daniel into his arms.  The young man was again full of tears.  As his right hand clinched Jack's shirt, the two sank down gently to the deck and leaned against the railing.

Daniel's sobs bore into Jack's soul.  He wanted so desperately to make it better, but he didn't know how, so he simply held on.  He didn't offer platitudes, but he did get some reassurance from knowing that he'd always be there for the younger man and that, someday, they'd bring Sha're home and end her nightmare.

“Ha...Hathor ... I tried so hard to get away.  I couldn't move.  I wanted to,” Daniel choked out.

“I know.”

“It was like ... I don't know, being under a spell.  Why couldn't I fight her, Jack? I let her get on top of me, and ...”

“No, Danny, that's wrong.  You didn't let her do anything.  You were as incapable of stopping her as I was when she tried to make me mom to the, geez, baby snakes.”

“Gawd, Jack, I'm sorry.  We haven't talked at all about that.  I'm being so,” Daniel swallowed hard, “sel...selfish.”

“Daniel, all she made me do was kiss her.  What she forced you to do is in an entirely different league.  No apologies.  I won't let you do that.  Go on.  Tell me what you're feeling.”

“Hate.  I hate her, Jack.  I want ... I ... I want her to suffer.  I've never felt that way about anyone before, except maybe Apophis, but I ... I do.  I wish ...”

“What do you wish, Danny?”

Daniel's hand pulled on Jack's shirt.  He hated himself right now as much as he hated Hathor.  Daniel Jackson was a sensitive man; he wasn't used to the bitter hatred he now felt deep inside of his soul.

“I wish you could have killed her,” the usually peaceful explorer admitted amid his cries.

“Someday,” Jack said softly.  ~I'll kill her; someday, I will.~

Daniel heard, but didn't react.  He couldn't.  He knew he should object, but right now, he wanted the witch dead, and he wanted his friend to protect him, regardless of how some might perceive it.  Slowly, he settled a little in Jack's arms, which were wrapped around him tightly.

“She won't hurt you anymore, Danny.  I won't let her,” Jack promised, his hold tight and protective.

“Can't ... promise that.”

“I can sure as heck try, and you know me when I make my mind up about something.”

“Stu...stubbbbbborn,” the archaeologist sniffled.  ~Is this how it feels to be protected?  Is this ... being safe?~

“Like a mule.”

After several minutes, Daniel calmed, and Jack hoped he would fall asleep and maybe find a few minutes of peace.  Suddenly, though, Daniel's thoughts raced with the remembered trauma again.

“Jack, it wasn't even just ... calm.  I mean, she ... it was almost ... violent.  She's ... aggressive.  Gawd,” he cried, literally burying his face in Jack's shoulder.

Jack held on even tighter, soothing, “Not your fault, Daniel.  If you hear nothing else I say tonight, hear this.  It was *not* your fault.  She took your free will away.  She raped you.  You had no freedom of choice.  She violated you, Danny.  You are *not* to blame, and you have absolutely *nothing* ... do you hear me?  ... *nothing* to feel guilty about.  That witch will die, Daniel.  Someday, I am going to make her pay for this.  You can take that to the bank.”

“Not ... my fault,” Daniel spoke, his voice still hesitant, as if expecting Jack to suddenly disagree with him.

“Not one second of it.  You're the victim,” Jack affirmed, his voice the opposite of Daniel's, strong, confident, assured, and conveying nothing but total belief in the younger man.

“I want it out of my mind.  I can't get her out of my head.  Jaaaaack,” Daniel cried as the sobs began again.

Like before, Jack held on, rocking the man back and forth, making promises that Hathor would die, and that Daniel would be okay.

Finally, the archaeologist fell asleep, though his hold on Jack's shirt was still taut.  Jack attempted to move Daniel's hand, but his hold was like a death grip.

“Okay, you hang on.  That's fine with me because ... I don't plan to let go.  Sleep, Danny.  You ... sleep.”

Jack's chin rested on the top of Daniel's head, and he continued to hold Daniel as tight as he could.  The younger man needed lots of assurance that he wasn't alone, and Jack aimed to give it to him.

“Sleep, Danny.  I'm here, and ... I'll take care of you.  I'll always take care of you, Danny.  I ... I promise.”

====

A little after 5 a.m., Daniel awoke, slowly realizing Jack was still holding him.  He felt remarkably safe with his friend's arms around him, and there was a warmth there that he couldn't identify.  After the recent trauma, however, he didn't care; he just let the good feeling flow through him.

“Jack?”

“Right here.”

“You're, uh, holding me,” Daniel pointed out unnecessarily.

“Just keeping you safe.”

Daniel sighed contently, his body relaxing into Jack's hold as he asked, “You know something?”

“What?” Jack responded.

“I ... feel safe.”

“You are.”

“I want a beer,” Daniel stated, though the truth was that he hated the liquid.

Jack chuckled, “Now?”

“Yes, now, but I don't want to move either,” Daniel admitted.

Jack reached over and grabbed his telescope.

“Jack!”

“You said you didn't want to move!” Jack exclaimed.  He took the scope off its pod and then used the pod to pull the cooler over.  He reached in, pulled out a beer, and, with the finesse of a champion beer drinker, opened the bottle with one hand.  He handed the beer to his best friend, saying, “One beer.”

“Gawd, you're crazy.”

“Probably,” Jack admitted wryly.

The two laughed, and Daniel drank his beer as if he were drinking coffee, downing it in just a few minutes.

“More!”

“Now who's crazy?” Jack asked.  When Daniel suddenly chuckled, the older man thought, ~Sounds nice.~  “What's so funny?”

“You almost had my baby,” Daniel said with a snort.

“Ewww,” Jack reacted teasingly.

“I'd demand visitation rights,” Daniel joked.

“Only if you pay child support.”

Daniel sighed, amazed they'd been able to joke and laugh over anything.  He shifted out of Jack's hold and got another beer.  He couldn't seem to get enough of this drink he had never liked.

After a few quick swigs, the younger man spoke, “Thank you, Jack.  No nightmares.”

~Not tonight anyway,~ Jack thought.

Jack drank a beer with his friend, and over the next two hours, they drank beer after beer, sharing more of their miseries.  Daniel cursed the Goa'uld who had left him with this new torment ripping through his soul, and he mourned for his wife whom he knew was suffering through a continual torment of her own.

“Rape after rape, that's what she's living with,” Daniel said with regret. “It's just not fair for her to suffer like this because of me.”

“Daniel ...”

“No, Jack.  Look, you can say a lot of things, and I ... I heard what you said about Hathor, but ... if I hadn't unburied the Stargate, none of this would have happened.  Sha're would be safe.  You can't change that truth.”

“No, I can't.”  Jack stood and stretched, taking another drink of beer.  He looked down at Daniel and said, “But, Daniel, we can't live with 'if's'.  You have no way of knowing what life would have been like on Abydos if you had left the Gate buried.  Apophis could easily have used a ship to come to Abydos, and the same thing might have happened to Sha're.”

“The old ... hit by a car or falling over dead thing?”

“Yeah.  You turn right instead of left; the world changes.  Don't do that to yourself.  Trust me, I've dabbled in that one myself,” Jack stated sadly.

“Charlie,” Daniel said quietly.

“There are a thousand what if's for my son.  I hate them all,” Jack said, bitterness creeping into his voice.

“I'm sorry, Jack.”

“Daniel, so help me, you have to stop being sorry for everything.  The burdens of the world are not on your shoulders.  Charlie: that's my burden, my what if, my nightmare, and I live with it twenty-four/seven.  It's not a good way to live, Daniel.”

“Then ... stop.  I mean ... you know what I mean.”

“Easier said than done.  I can't forgive myself.”  Jack sighed, “I guess maybe I understand how you feel about Sha're, but we're both wrong, Danny.  We're both dead wrong.”

Jack sat down on one of the chairs and finished off another beer, as did Daniel. The clock ticked past 6:22 a.m., the time the sun rose in the skies of Colorado Springs on this day.  They watched the event in silence, the only sound being the swig of the liquid in their beer bottles and the occasional sound of one or both of them swallowing their brews.  Both were definitely close to being completely intoxicated, if they weren't actually there already.

“Dannnniel?” Jack finally called out.

“Hmmm?”

“Bed?”

“Oh.  Home.  Must go ... uh, home,” Daniel responded with a bit of a giddy smile.

“Can't drive.  Sleep here.”

“No, I ... Jack, I want to be alone for a while.”

“Can't let you drive,” Jack stated, realizing they were both definitely over the limit, alcohol-wise.

“I'll call a cab.”

“Danny, stay here.”

“I'll come back tomorrow,” Daniel stated.

“It is tomorrow.”

“Oh yeah.  I forgot,” Daniel replied, smiling.  “I'll come back later today.  I ... I promise, okay?  I ... Jack, I really need to ... sort this out a little ... by myself.”

“Danny, I think you should stay.  Not a good idea to be alone right now.”

“I can't.  Jack, I ... I couldn't have gotten through the night without you, but now I ... I need to just be with me, myself, and I for a while.  Please understand.”

“I'm not sure I trust the three of you alone,” Jack tried to tease, the younger man smiling slightly at the quip.  He groaned, “I don't like this, Daniel.”

“You worry too much.  I'm a grown man, Jack.”

“I know that; it's just ... I ... worry,” the older man said, giving his friend a soft smile, admitting his emotions through his expression, if nothing else.

“Thank you, Jack.  I've never had a friend like you.  I'm going to go call a taxi.”

“Danny ...”

“Jack, please.  I know you're thinking about locking me in that room or something, but, please, I need some space, just for a little while,” Daniel said, pleading for understanding.

Reluctantly, Jack nodded, watching as Daniel left the roof deck and headed for the phone.

~I should lock you up.  Being alone; it's not good.  The nightmares that masquerade in daydreams are just as chilling.~

====

“Taxi's here,” Daniel announced, having heard the horn and looked through the front window to see the cab in the driveway.  “I'll ... call you tomorrow, uh, I mean later today.”

“Don't forget, Danny.  Lunch?” Jack suggested.

“Jack, I think we'll both be asleep.  I mean, lunch is what ... three hours from now,” the younger man reminded, glancing at his watch.

“Will we be asleep?”

“I ... I don't know.”

“Danny, don't go,” Jack pleaded, reaching out his hand as if to pull the young man back to the living room.  “You shouldn't be alone.”

“I'm not,” Daniel replied, giving his friend a sweet smile.  “I have friends, like you.  Thank you, Jack, for making me talk about ... what happened.  I ... about you, I ...”

“Long time ago.  Someday, this'll be a long time ago, too.”

As the clock struck eight, Daniel nodded and walked out the door.

Jack watched from the open doorway as the younger man reached the cab, opening the door and looking back.  He smiled weakly, as did Jack.  Seconds later, the taxi, with Daniel inside, was gone.

Jack locked the front door and returned to the roof deck.  He replayed the torment Daniel had just lived through, and their conversation -- all the aches and struggles the younger man was feeling.  During the course of the night, Daniel had told him everything about the rape, every sordid little detail.  He ached inside, his soul crying now, just as it had when Charlie had died.

“I love you, Danny.  I'll kill her.  I swear, if I ever get the chance, I will break her neck, and I won't even look back.”

Jack broke down, releasing a volume of tears he had been holding in, wanting and needing to be the proverbial pillar of strength for his friend, his friend who was so much more:  he was the man Jack O'Neill had fallen in love with.

Needing to protect his friend, Jack hadn't cried when Daniel was there.  Instead, he'd focused on being strong, and on comforting, but now that he was alone, all of his anger and sadness had erupted into a waterfall of tears that he couldn't stop.  He didn't even try.  He stayed on the deck, letting the emotion out, a non-stop release of tears, until two hours later, when the call of nature was too hard to resist, and he literally forced himself to stop.

====

After showering and putting on fresh clothing, Jack was now sitting quietly on the sofa, not knowing what to do with himself.  He had cried for hours, surprising himself.

~Didn't know I could cry like that anymore, but ... I won't let her hurt you ever again.~  Jack relaxed back against the cushion, looking up at the ceiling as he confessed, ~I love you, Daniel, but I can't let you know that.  It's the last thing you need, but that snake had better not come near you again.~  “What?”

Hearing the knocker bang against his wooden door, Jack's head jerked forward.  He looked at the clock: 10:58 a.m.

“GO AWAY!”

The brown-haired man was tired and drained, and the only person he wanted to see he knew wouldn't be knocking on the door, at least not yet.  Daniel wouldn't be back for hours.  In fact, he was positive that Daniel would lock himself away until forced out for dinner, even if they had talked about having lunch together.  He was sure of it.

Suddenly, Jack heard the sound of movement.  He got up and saw the doorknob moving on the front door.  He considered getting his gun to shoot whomever it was, but then decided he'd just as soon die.  Life was sometimes way too painful.

“I was hoping you didn't really mean 'go away' like you said,” a hesitant voice spoke softly.

“Daniel!” Jack said, a smile appearing on his face as he walked forward, meeting the archaeologist in the entranceway.  “I ... what are you doing here?”

“I brought breakfast,” Daniel answered, holding up a large box of Krispy Kreme donuts.

“KK's?” Jack asked, perking up dramatically.

“All your favorites!” Daniel acknowledged, happy to feel the warmth of Jack's friendship, even though he still wasn't all that comfortable with physical touch.

Jack took the box and smelled the hot, fresh donuts.

“A man after my own heart; uh, I mean ... I love these,” Jack stumbled as he struggled to cover his comment.

“Sometimes, Jack, you make no sense.”

“I'm old,” the colonel rationalized.

“No, you're not.”

Jack smiled and then stated, “You haven't been gone very long.  How ya doing, Danny?”

“I ... you were right.  I don't want to be alone anymore, but ... thank you for letting me leave this morning.  I wasn't sure you would.”

“I almost didn't,” Jack admitted.

“I know, but I did need to be by myself, just for a little while.”

“And now?”

“And now ...” Daniel walked over to stand next to Jack.  He opened the box of donuts to show off the selections, which were indeed all of Jack's favorites. “Now, I need to be with my ... best friend.  I need to talk about the nightmare some more.  I may even need to ...”

“Cry?”

“Maybe,” Daniel sighed.  Softly, while looking down, he confessed, “I can only do that with you.  I realized when I went home that while it helped to sort things out a little, it helped more to be here, talking about it, no matter how painful that was.  I guess that's why therapy works for people.”

“I don't know about that,” Jack said.  “You know me and words; not my thing.”

Looking at the older man, Daniel lashed out strongly, “Jack, that's bull.  You're great with words, with me, anyway.”

“So, breakfast ... lunch ... dinner ...”

“And ... breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if ... I mean ...” Daniel began, still unsure of himself and terrified of wearing out his welcome.

“We'll get drunk.  Full out drunk,” Jack announced.

“After we talk.”

“So we *can* talk,” Jack clarified.

“I want you to tell me what happened to you,” Daniel said firmly.

“Danny, it was a very long time ago, and ...”

“Jack, I don't need details, but just ... feelings.  Can you do that?  For ... for me?” Daniel asked tentatively in a rare request.

~I'd do anything for you,~ Jack thought.  “Okay, one time, after we get drunk.”

“After,” Daniel agreed.

“So, my twisties in there?”

“Right here,” the younger man stated, pointing at the donuts in question.

“Mmm, these are great.  Real food.”

“Jack, donuts are not real food,” Daniel claimed.

“Sure, they are; they're the best, except for Froot Loops, of course.  Nothing beats Loops!”

“Froot Loops?  You're a Froot Loops addict.”

“You're a coffee fiend,” Jack retaliated.

“Pretzel binger!”

“Chocaholic!”

“Beer belly-to-be, if you keep drinking so much,” Daniel accused.

“Danny?”

“What?”

“I'm glad you came back,” Jack spoke from his heart.

“You just want the donuts,” Daniel quipped, a sweet smile forming on his face from the shyness his felt inside.

~No, I want you,~ Jack professed inwardly.  “No, I like the company.”

Daniel smiled more broadly, and then the two settled into forty-eight hours of togetherness that only best friends could share.  There were ups and downs, tears and laughter, hugs, and even a few fights.  It was their norm, but at the end of the day, they were Jack and Daniel, survivors of one more nightmare.  More importantly, they were best friends, helping each other through one of their toughest times ever.  After all, isn't that what best friends are for?

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~
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