Calming Influences

Author: Orrymain
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C of the Mental Kind, Missing Scene/Epilogue, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel  .... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  3
Spoilers:  Legacy, The Fifth Race (minor)
Size:  129kb
Written:  April 7-8,19-21,24-27, May 12, 2004
Summary:  Daniel is incorrectly diagnosed with schizophrenia.  What will happen when the truth is revealed, and everyone has to come to terms with their willingness to lock Daniel away in a padded cell so quickly?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Claudia, Kalimyre, QuinGem, Drdjlover, Jackette!

Calming Influences
by Orrymain

“That's a nice movie,” Daniel said as “Topper” ended.  He was lying on the sofa, on his right side to face the TV, his head on Jack's lap as the feature ended.  As he spoke, his left hand rubbed gently up and down his lover's leg.

“More romantic fluff, but not much of a ghost movie,” Jack spoke as he ran his fingers through Daniel's hair.

“It's ghostly enough.”

“Yeah, but for a real ghost story, we need to watch 'Scrooge' or 'Thirteen Ghosts' or something like that.  Maybe even something like 'The Sixth Sense' for a ghooooostly chill.”  Jack laughed and then stood up.  “Be right back.”

Daniel sat up to see where his lover was going.  He watched Jack rifle through their DVD collection, and then having chosen one, return and insert a disc.

“This one is great.”

“Oh, gawd, not again.”

“Who ya gonna call?” Jack chirped along with the music as the couple settled in to watch “Ghostbusters” for what Daniel figured must be the fiftieth time.

“You're insane, Jack.”

“Maybe.  But you love me, so what does that say about you?”

“That I'm nuttier than you are,” Daniel said as he chuckled.

====

SG-1 was investigating an area on PY3-948, a planet showing no signs of life according to readings from the MALP.  As they walked a darkened corridor, Teal'c recognized the architecture as being of “an ancient Goa'uld design.”  He ran the palm of his hand over a large red button on the wall, causing a door to open.  A foul smell came from the small room.  Daniel walked in and almost immediately tripped over something.  As he turned, he realized it was a dead body.

Jack ordered his team to put on their Haz Mat attire.  After that, they discovered several other dead bodies.  After seeing the scar on the back of the neck of one of the dead bodies, Sam realized the dead were Goa'uld.

Teal'c examined the seal that was the lock on the inside of the room,  informing his teammates that, “This mechanism appears to have been damaged by a ribbon device.”

They continued to search the dark room using their flashlights.  Seeing a design etched on an altar-like table, Daniel asked, “Teal'c, do you recognize this symbol?”

“It is the crest of the Linvris.”

“Which is what?  Or who?” Jack asked.

Teal'c explained, “A rival league of lesser Goa'uld who challenge the System Lords.”

“A minor league?”

Teal'c explained there were nine Linvris.  Sam counted out dead bodies, and counting nine, she said, “Found 'em.”

Daniel, meanwhile, picked up a tablet device like one of those they had previously discovered on Argos.  He figured out that it contained a battle plan, but to know more, he needed one of the page turning devices.  Jack thought he saw one of the floor, and Daniel quickly picked it up.  However, when he ran the page turner over the tablet, it didn't respond.

Suddenly, Daniel reacted to something, turning quickly.

“What?” Jack asked with concern.

“I felt something brush by me.”  ~Gawd, that was weird.  There's nothing here, but I sure felt it.~

~We are SO getting out of here.~  “All right, let's pack it outta here. Leave this to the medical containment unit.  It's getting creepy,” Jack ordered.

====

Daniel took off his vest in the locker room.  “Jack, I'm serious.  I felt ... something.  I just don't know what it was.”

“Daniel, there was no one else there.  Just us and a bunch of dead Goa'uld.”  Jack already had his clothes off and was moving to wrap a towel around himself.

“I'm not insane, Jack.  I know what I felt.”

“Ghooooooosts,” Jack teased, his voice vibrating for effect while at the same time he walked up behind his lover, reaching out to tickle him for a second.

“Jack, stop it.”  Daniel didn't want to laugh, but he couldn't help himself.  There was something about having a lover with the mind of a child that tickled his funny bone.

“Meet you in the shower,” Jack winked as he headed for the stalls.

**Like we could do anything here.**

**There's always a first time, Love.**

**Not today, Colonel.  We have a briefing, and Sam's going to want in here soon.**

“Sometimes, you're no fun, Daniel,” Jack shouted from the shower stall he had entered.

Daniel shook his head as he continued to undress.  ~I think maybe I'll wait for Jack to finish.  He's a tad too ... frisky.~  Daniel chuckled softly as he went about his business.

A few minutes later, Jack strolled nonchalantly out of the shower area and smiled at his lover who was wearing a blue robe.  ~Thank Heaven there aren't cameras in here.~  Within seconds, Jack scooped his unsuspecting lover into his arms and kissed him.  “Geez, what you do to me, Doctor Jackson.”

“Jack, we can't do this now, but ...”

Slowly, their heads inched towards each other's again for one more kiss.  “I know,” Jack said in frustration.  “I'll get out of here before ...”

“Yes, you do that.”

“I love you, Danny.”

“I love you, too.”

Jack moved towards the door.  “Boooooooooo.  Who ya gonna call?”  The older man jumped back, barely escaping the thrown towel headed in his direction.

Daniel chuckled and walked to the shower.  ~But I did it feel it, Jack.  I did.  Gawd, sometimes I want to strangle you for not listening to me, but then ... then you smile and I get all ... gooey.~  Daniel shook his head, chuckled some more at his inability to be angry at Jack, and turned on the shower.  ~Darn Irish charm!~

====

“Where's Doctor Jackson?” the General asked when he walked into the briefing room.

“He was taking a shower, Sir,” Jack answered, a smile on his face, suddenly becoming aware that it was a bit too ... perky, judging from the looks he was getting.

“I'll ... go see what's keeping him, General.”

“No, Colonel, you sit down.  Major Carter, go see if you can hurry Doctor Jackson along.”

“Yes, Sir.”

Hammond looked at Jack and shook his head.  ~Sorry, Colonel.  I know that look.  It's your devious look, that one you get when I'm about to wonder how you ever got your wings.  So, no, I think I'll keep you right where I can see you for the time being.~

====

“He was on his way when I found him, Sir,” Sam said, taking her seat.

Shoulders slightly hunched, Daniel walked in a few seconds later, his eyes wandering around the room as if looking for something that wasn't there.  He was hesitant in his step as he walked to his seat, and immediately Jack's internal “Daniel Alarm” began to go off.

**Danny, what's wrong?**

**Nothing.**

**Danny, don't lie to me.**

**We're in a briefing, Jack.  Later.**

The Colonel decided to acquiesce for the time being and turned half of his attention to the discussion on the table.  Along with SG-1, General Hammond and Janet Fraiser were present.  The other half of Jack's focus remained fixed on his lover.

“The Goa'uld died before their hosts.  We know this due to a unique protein marker left in Goa'uld bodies, or host bodies, after a Goa'uld dies,” Janet explained.

Sam asked, “The same protein marker that was left in my body after Jolinar was killed?”

Janet answered in the affirmative and then went on to explain that she didn't know for sure how the Linvris died, and might never be able to.  “... When these Goa'uld symbiotes died, they rapidly decayed and were absorbed by the host. There's no Goa'uld corpse for me to study.”

As they continued, Janet added that the human hosts probably died of starvation, since the lock on the chamber door had been disabled.  After the Goa'uld died, the hosts had no way of leaving and thus, no way of obtaining food or water.

The topic changed to who might have killed the Linvris.  Teal'c suspected the System Lords, and Jack wondered if the Reetou were involved after Sam had suggested the possibility that the killers were invisible and perhaps SG-1 had freed them when they opened the door.

Teal'c argued against Jack's idea.  “Reetou would not spare the host. Reetou weaponry does much damage to the human body.”

Just as the Stargate began to activate on the floor below, the General asked Daniel about the tablet.  The young man seemed very distracted, his response delayed, something Jack noticed immediately.

“Um ... It's a Goa'uld dialect akin to Latin.  From what Teal'c and I have made out so far, it's some sort of attack plan.  Um ... I'm still trying to figure out how to scroll to the next page, if there is a next page.”

Hammond ordered Daniel to make translating the tablet his top priority and then adjourned the meeting.  Daniel stood and walked to the large glass window that looked down on the gate.  He seemed strangely drawn to it, as if being called.

Jack followed, taking the position to Daniel's left, just a step behind.

~Okay, what's going on here?  It's just SG-7 returning from their mission.  Why does Danny look so ... odd?~  “Daniel, what's wrong?”

Daniel stood silently.  ~Gawd, you wouldn't believe me.~

Jack noticed his lover was transfixed on one of the SG-7 team members.  “Daniel?  Why are you are staring at Kilpatrick?”

“Jack, I saw ... it wasn't him.”

Jack looked down at the returning men.  He viewed the entire gate room, taking note of each face.

“Okay, who was it?”

Daniel was certain Jack wouldn't believe him, but more than that, his body was tightening.  He felt himself becoming tense.  He needed to be alone.  “Forget it.  I have work to do.”  Daniel exited quickly.

Jack looked again at the SGC personnel on the floor below.  ~You had an awfully strange look on your face, Danny.  I need to know why.~

====

“Daniel,” Jack walked into his lover's office, shutting the door.  “What's going on?  And don't say nothing because you walked into the briefing feeling ... I don't know, but you weren't yourself.”

“I'm fine.”

“No, you're not.  It was written all over your body language and your face.  Come on, Daniel.  This is me.”

Daniel sighed.  He had known Jack would detect his uneasiness.  He had just hoped to either understand what was happening more or have it all figured out before having to talk about it.

“Something ... weird happened when I was in the locker room.”

“What?”

“I heard ... a voice, someone ... calling me.”  Daniel's arms were folded tightly across his chest.  His eyes were staring down at the dull floor.  “I thought it was Sam, but she said it wasn't her.”

“Maybe it was someone else.”

“There wasn't anyone else there.”

“It could have been a lot of things, Daniel.  Voices carry around here sometimes, or maybe it was someone being paged over the PA system.”

“No.  They said my name.”

“I hate to break it to you, but there's more than one 'Daniel' on the base, although there's only one I want to ...” Jack whispered into Daniel's ear something that had the young man turning red quickly.

“Gawd, Jack, not now.”  Daniel smiled nervously, walking away from his flirting lover.

Jack decided to get serious again.  “Okay, let's forget about the voice for a minute.  What was wrong in the briefing room?”

“Nothing, Jack,” Daniel said defensively, turning around and walking to the other side of the room.

“Danny ...” Jack approached.  “Tell me what's wrong.”

“I'm just tired.  We ... stayed up too late last night watching those ... movies.”

“They're classics.”

“Right, Jack.  Now, will you let me to get to work, please?”  Daniel moved to his desk.  “The General wants this translation done yesterday.”

“Okay.  Listen, I have some memos to ignore and trainees to scare.  I'll be back up here at 1830, and we'll grab a bite to eat.”

“Jack ...”

“Daniel, you ARE going to eat, if I have to drag you out of here, and you know I will.”

Daniel smiled, acknowledging the truthfulness of the statement.  “Okay.  6:30.”

Jack left, but he knew there was something Daniel hadn't told him.  ~Or maybe you are just tired.  We've had a couple of long weeks here.~ He decided to let it go, at least for now.

Daniel began to work, but just as he was getting into the translation, his phone rang.  He reached over to pick it up, then suddenly dropped it and backed away in shock.  The earpiece of the phone banged and clanged loudly, bouncing off the cradle and finally landing on the desk.

“Daniel?”  The voice was muffled as it came over the phone.

Daniel was transfixed.  ~It can't be.  That's a telephone.  It's not a ... symbiote.~  When Daniel had picked up the phone, he had seen a Goa'uld symbiote, thrashing about in his hands.  Shocked, he had dropped it, and watched now as it slid around his desk.

“DANIEL?  ANSWER THE PHONE, OR I'M COMING BACK UP THERE NOW!”

Jack's harsh tone snapped Daniel from his vision.  The symbiote was gone, and now he saw nothing but the phone, which he cautiously picked up.

“Jack?”

“Danny, what the heck is wrong?”

“I, uh, dropped something.”

“You dropped the friggin' phone, Daniel.  I'm coming up.”

“No.  Jack, I have work to do, and ... you were just here.”

Jack sighed.  He'd let this go, too, even though he detected a bit of anxiety in Daniel's voice.  His soulmate was just tired, and stressed.  This deadline wasn't the first he'd had in the last couple of weeks, and their ghostly movie night had been their first calm night in days. “Okay. Slight change in plans.  Pushing dinner back to 1900, okay?”

“Fine.  I'll see you then.”  Daniel hung up.  After a moment of staring at the phone, he returned to the translation.

Jack hung up his phone a second later.  ~Something's wrong, but I can't put my finger on it.  Maybe we shouldn't have watched those ghost movies after all.  It's got us ... spooked.~  Jack returned to his work.

====

~Gawd, my head hurts.~  Daniel turned off the light for a moment to rest his eyes.  Then he remembered his translation needed to be done as soon as possible and sighed as he turned the light back on.  He stood and grabbed the bottle of aspirin he had in a drawer and got a drink of water.  Sitting back down, he swallowed the pills with the water and focused again on the writings on the tablet.

Several hours later Daniel had refined his original translation.  “To enter by infiltration.  Infiltration.”  ~That's interesting.~

He heard his name being called, over and over again, and then his attention was drawn towards his storage closet.  He heard sounds -- the unmistakable sounds of the Stargate chevrons locking into place.

~I am so losing my mind here.~  He stood and walked tentatively to closed closet, staring at it as the sounds continued.  He reached out cautiously and opened the doors, revealing the watery wormhole.  ~Definitely losing my mind.  A Stargate in my closet?  Good one, Jackson.~

He heard the voice again as it he called out, luring him forward.  “Join with us, Daniel. Step through the Gate, Daniel.”

“This isn't real,” Daniel said aloud.

He extended his hand to touch the event horizon when suddenly a man grabbed him at the collar.  Daniel tried unsuccessfully to pull back.  “Help! Somebody help!” he yelled.

Suddenly, one of the dead Linvris appeared.  He was a gruesome, ghoulish-looking thing, like a grotesque mummy.  Daniel was horrified at the site, but within moments, he was pulled through the event horizon.

====

“Sergeant, make sure the trainees get a copy of the revised schedule for next week.”  Jack handed the information to the Airman and then headed for Daniel's office.

~Time to pull your nose out of that grindstone, Love.  I'll probably have to force you.  You'll want to come up with some excuse, but no way.  I'm even a little early.~

Jack smiled as he entered the elevator, pressing the button for Level 18.

~Steak.  I wonder if the commissary steak will actually resemble steak tonight or like ...~ Jack stopped his thoughts.  Something began to disturb him, but he wasn't sure what.  He just felt like something was wrong.

When the elevator doors opened, he hurried out and headed for his lover's office.   As he approached, he heard Daniel's voice, “Help! Somebody help!”

Jack ran in and found Daniel unconscious on the floor near the closet.  He knelt down, not seeing any blood or immediate signs of injury.  Carefully, he turned his lover over.  “Daniel?”  Getting no response to his attempts to revive the young man, Jack picked up the phone and called Janet.

“Doc, something's happened to Daniel ... I DON'T KNOW ... He's unconscious.   GET UP HERE NOW!”  Jack flung down the phone and returned to Daniel's side, looking for injuries.

When Janet entered, he reluctantly stepped back.

“What happened, Colonel?”

“Doc, I heard him scream for help, and when I came in, he was on the floor.  He must have fallen or something.”

“Let's get him to the infirmary,” Janet ordered her staff.  “Don't worry, Colonel.  I think he'll be fine.  I don't see any injuries, but we need to do some X-rays and make sure there aren't any internal injuries.”

Jack nodded and followed the medical team to the infirmary.

====

Jack was tired of waiting.  Actually, he was more nervous than tired.  An unconscious Daniel had been put through a battery of tests the night before.  It was morning now, but he hadn't yet awakened.

Fortunately, Janet had found nothing wrong with the archaeologist. Jack was happy about that, but was still concerned.  Something must have happened.  He had reviewed Daniel's office.  Nothing was out of place.

Sam had pulled the Security Tape which was confusing in and of itself.  It showed Daniel working relentlessly on the translation for hours, and then suddenly, he stood up and walked over to his storage closet.  He had jerked open the doors as if bracing for what would be inside.

Daniel was heard saying, “This isn't real.”  His tone was calm, but with an edge to it.  The tape revealed Daniel had reached into his closet, a closet that had a spare jacket hanging in it, a blanket, and a load of supplies, but nothing unusual from Jack's recent assessment of it.

Then, Daniel had seemed to jerk back and forth, for no visible reason.  His call for help had been screamed, and then he had slumped to the ground unconscious, without further explanation.

~What could have made you fall, and ... why were you calling for help?  What did you see in your closet, Danny?~

Jack paced the area for several minutes and finally ended up standing by an IV rack.  He began to play with a bag of IV solution, removing it from its stand.  As he did so, he looked and saw the eyes of his lover open.

**Jack?**

**That would be me.**  Jack put the IV bag back on the stand.  He said, “Hello,” and walked over to his lover.

“Hello,” Daniel responded a bit tentatively.

Standing by a stool, Jack asked, “What happened?”

“Do you believe in ghosts?”  

“Uh ... No. Uh-uh.”

“Neither do I, which means there has to be a logical explanation.”

“For what?” Jack asked as he sat down.

“When we were in the Linvris chamber, I felt something brush by me. And I've heard voices.  And I keep seeing the dead Goa'uld from the massacre.”

Jack knew about the whatever that had brushed by Daniel, and his lover had mentioned the voices before, but this was the first time he had heard anything about seeing the Linvris.  ~Maybe that's what you weren't telling me in the briefing room.~  “Where?”

“Well, last night, they were in my closet in like a ... Stargate event horizon without the Gate.”  **Jack, am I losing my mind?**

“In your closet?”  **And no, you aren't.  Don't be ridiculous.  If anything, you're just tired.  Too much work and not enough play.**

“Yes.  I don't think they're really dead.”

“Who? The stiffs in the morgue?”

“No, the nine Goa'uld that were using them as hosts.  I translated a phrase in the tablet that I thought meant 'attack,' but when I refined the translation, I realized it means 'to enter by infiltration'.”

“And you think that's what they're doing?”

“Yes.”

“Through your closet?”  **Danny, I'm trying here, but you aren't serious, are you?**

**Just listen to me.**  “Teal'c said the Linvris were being hunted by the System Lords, right?  Now what if they used some sort of technology that transformed their bodies into ... I don't know, energy or something?”

“Energy?”

“Or something.  I don't know exactly how.  Sam can figure that part out. The point is, they're here.  They've entered by infiltration, and now they want me as a host.”

“All nine of 'em?”  **Angel, it's a stretch.**

“That sounds crazy, huh?”  **Gawd, Jack.  What's happening to me?**

“Mmm ... Yeah.  I ... it ... You gotta admit, there are some holes in you theory here.”  **But we'll figure it out, Danny.**

“Well, it's a theory, not a proof.”

“Why are you the only one who can see them?  Why didn't they come through my closet, aside from the fact that yours is cleaner?”

“I don't know.  The only other theory I can come up with is I'm having
some sort of nervous breakdown.”

“Or something.  Yeah.”  **No, you're not.  Maybe we should take some time off.  We've had some tough missions lately.**

“Or something.”  **Not any more than usual.**

“Daniel, maybe you're just tired.  I've seen guys have hallucinations in the field just ...”

“It wasn't a hallucination, Jack.  I know what I saw.”

“A Stargate in your closet?”

Daniel sighed.  ~Maybe I am losing my mind.~

Daniel sat up, making a motion to get off the bed, just as Janet entered.

“Where do you think you're going, Daniel?”

“Home.”

“No, I'm sorry.  I can't let you do that.”

“But, Janet ...”

“He's just tired,” Jack spoke at the same time as Daniel had.

Janet shook her head fiercely.  “No, I'm sorry.  Lay down, Daniel.  I'm afraid we're going to have to watch you for a while.”

“Watch me?”

“Doc, have YOU lost your mind?” Jack challenged.

“Colonel, this is serious.  Now, if you'll excuse us.  We have some more tests to run and Doctor MacKenzie ...”

“The shrink?” Jack asked sharply.

Janet bristled at Jack's tone.  “Out, Colonel ... NOW!”

**Go on, Jack.  The sooner she's done, the sooner we can go home.**

**I'll be close.  I love you, Danny.**

Janet saw the young man smile suddenly.  She looked at Jack expecting to see him doing something strange or funny, but he was just standing there, perfectly still with his hands in his pocket.

**Love you, too.**

====

Jack had been pacing his office for two hours.  He had tried to work, but all he could think about was Daniel.  ~It's just stress.  We need a vacation.~

“Sir,” an Airman appeared at Jack's door.  “General Hammond requests your presence in the briefing room.”

Jack nodded.  ~What now?~  He walked down the hall of Level 27 and entered the briefing room, immediately sensing trouble when he saw Doctor MacKenzie and Janet sitting at the table.  He noticed Sam was also in the room.  “I'm not going to enjoy this, am I?”  He didn't need an answer.  He knew he was right.

General Hammond explained, “Part of Doctor MacKenzie's work involves analyzing psychological data from SG units, specifically looking for side effects to Gate travel.  Doctor Jackson's episode yesterday may have uncovered a serious one.”

~Episode?  He was just tired.~  Jack tried to remain calm.  ~I SO am NOT going to like this.~

“Doctor Fraiser's been treating you for headaches lately, hasn't she?” the psychiatrist asked Jack.

Jack looked at Janet.  ~Okay, Doc?  What happened to loyalty and confidentiality?  And why are you looking so guilty?~  He watched as Janet lowered her head.  She didn't want to look at Jack at the moment, and he knew it.  “Yes.  What's that got to do with Daniel?”

“Well, you're not the only one.  Fifty-three percent of SG field personnel also have a history of them.”

“A lot of people get headaches.  What's your point?”  ~I don't like where this is going.~

“Doctor Jackson has experienced what I'd characterize as a first break psychotic episode, which may be manifesting full blown hebephrenic
schizophrenia.”

Janet chimed in, “Migraines are often one of the first signs.”

Jack bristled.  ~What do you think you're doing, Doc?  Whose side are you on, anyway?~  His tone sharp, Jack spoke, “Wait a minute.  Daniel's a schizophrenic, and it's caused by the Gate travel?”  ~I DON'T THINK SO!~

Janet answered, “It's the only logical explanation we have right now, Colonel.”  ~And I have to go on facts.  Okay, so MacKenzie is pushing the idea, but he really believes he's right, and this is his area of expertise.~

“Well, it sounds fairly theoretical to me.  Does anybody think it could be stress?”  ~Come on, Janet.  Back me up here.  This is Daniel we're talking about.~

“As much as I'd like to think that's all it is, the evidence just doesn't point that way.  Daniel has paranoid delusions, auditory and visual
hallucinations.”

~That is NOT backing me up, Doctor Fraiser.~  Jack's anger at Janet was quickly reaching a boiling point.  How could she sit there and write Daniel off like that?

MacKenzie added, “Doctor Jackson's dopamine levels have increased in the left hemisphere of his brain.  All these symptoms are textbook schizophrenia.”

Sam finally spoke up, having a difficult time believing what she was hearing as well.  “I don't understand how this could happen without us noticing signs.”

Janet answered her friend's question.  “Nobody knows the exact cause of schizophrenia.  Some cases are genetic, but there's no history of it in Daniel's family.  When it's not genetic, it's environmental, and the Stargate is a plausible environmental cause.”

~That's crazy.  Daniel's family history?  Give me a break.  You're reaching, Doctor Fraiser.~  Jack was afraid to speak or move.  He thought he might just strangle the SGC's Chief Medical Officer.

“I've been through the Gate as many times as Daniel,” Sam argued.  “I don't have headaches.”

“Your body may have some kind of immunity, possibly due to Jolinar.”

Jack glared at Janet.  ~Aren't you supposed to be a friend?~  “All right. Let's say for the sake of argument that it is the Stargate, a theory to which I do not ascribe, then why don't we put a little sign at the base of the ramp that says, 'Gate travel may be hazardous to your health'?  I can live with that.”

“So can I, Sir,” Sam quickly agreed.

The General spoke next.  “The Air Force can't.  I can't risk any SG officer having delusions in the middle of a crisis. Therefore, as we speak, all outstanding SG teams are being recalled for evaluation.”

“You're shutting down the whole program?” Sam asked.

“Only until Doctor MacKenzie and their teams submit their report.  If his theory is proven correct, limits will be placed on the number of missions. Till then the Stargate is closed.”

“General ...” Jack was just beginning his arguments.

“There is no debate, Colonel.”

Looking at his 2IC, “Of course not.”  ~Limits.  Give me a break.  We'll all be grounded.  SG-1 will be history with a capitol 'H'.~

“What about Daniel, Sir?” Sam inquired, concerned for her friend's welfare.

It was MacKenzie who answered as Janet tried to disappear into the background.  She knew Jack would seethe at the answer to his question.  “For now, we're going to medicate him and let him rest in one of the VIP rooms.”

~I am going to kill someone very soon.~  It took all of Jack's restraint not to react as he listened to the supposed experts with all the degrees and initials after their names simply write Daniel off.

But then Janet felt like she needed to speak up.  She was, after all, the Chief Medical Officer at the Mountain.  It was her responsibility to know her patients.  Ultimately, Daniel's care was in her hands.  She didn't want it to look like MacKenzie was running the show, even if that was the reality.

The psychiatrist was applying pressure, and Janet herself couldn't explain Daniel's symptoms.  ~It must mental.  He checks out fine physically.~  “But if his symptoms persist, or if he becomes a threat to himself or anyone else, we'll have to commit him to Mental Health.”

Sam looked at Janet in disbelief as Jack stewed, his anger just about at the breaking point.

“Okay.  Keep me posted on Doctor Jackson's condition.  You're dismissed,” Hammond said as he stood and walked out.

“Janet,” Sam asked, “you called this hebe...”

“Hebephrenic schizophrenia.”

“What is that exactly?”

Doctor MacKenzie answered, “It's a form of schizophrenia characterized by severe personality disintegration.  Erratic speech, childish mannerisms, bizarre behavior -- these are all signs of this type of mental abnormality.”

Janet added, “It's easier to think about in simplistic terms, such as rambling or incoherent speech, fleeting hallucinations, unpredictable behavior that is irresponsible in nature, and delusions that make no sense.  Except for the speech symptoms, Daniel is a classic case.”

“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FRIGGIN' MIND?”  With the General gone, Jack couldn't hide his feelings any longer.

“Colonel ...”

“Don't, DOCTOR FRAISER.  You KNOW Daniel.  He's the sanest man I know, that any of us know.”  ~Geez, Janet.  What is going on with you?~  “Has it occurred to EITHER of you two DOCTORS that maybe it has something to do with some alien doohickey we've come across out there?”

“Jack,” Janet stood up but remained by her chair.  “I know this is hard on you, but the evidence doesn't support anything else but a genuine psychotic break down.”

MacKenzie chimed in.  “Colonel O'Neill, Daniel's mental state is fragile.  You don't know how dangerous this can be.”

“You're both wrong.”  Jack then walked up into MacKenzie's personal space.  His eyes stared into the man's with an intimidating aura.  “Listen to me, MacKenzie, Daniel Jackson is not schizophrenic.  I know it as sure as I know my name.  And I also know that if you cause him pain, I will make you pay.”

Jack started to walk out.

“Where are you going, Colonel?” Janet asked.

“Not that it's any of your concern, DOCTOR, but I'm going to check on Daniel, and I would advise you not to try and stop me.”  Jack looked at Sam.  ~At least she's on our side.~

====

Jack tapped on the door and opened it.  His heart sank when he saw his lover.

Daniel was seated on the bed, his knees drawn up.  He was slumped forward so that his head rested atop the kneecaps.

**Danny, I love you.**

Daniel looked up, sadness enveloping him.  “Jack?  Am I going crazy?”

“No.”  Jack walked over to the bed.  “You're fine, Daniel.  Those quacks just need to do something to make folks think they've actually earned those degrees they hang on the wall.”

“Janet's not a quack.”

“Maybe not, but right now, I'm questioning her common sense.  I tried to suggest it was something we've come across.  It wouldn't be the first time one of us was infected with some alien disease.  But they wouldn't listen to me, just kept insisting that it was ... mental.”

“Jack.”

**Geez, I wish I could hold you.**

**Security camera, and you can't turn this one off.  Gawd, I wish you could.**

**Soon, this will just be a nasty memory.**

**Gawd, don't we already have enough of those?**

**Yeah, we do. In fact ...**  Jack switched to verbal communication.  “How about a game of chess?  I'm going to get revenge for that game last week.”

“In your dreams, O'Neill.”

“Oh, confident, are we?”

“No, I, me, singular, am confident.”

Jack smiled as he stood up, followed by Daniel.  They began to play.  Chess had always been Daniel's specialty.  Jack rarely won.  When he did, there was always an explanation, usually revolving around Daniel being sick or having had no sleep, and even more rare, just being distracted.  Still, they loved to play the game.  Jack always managed to make it challenging.

The hours passed.  They stopped for a dinner break and then resumed the game.  After several minutes, Daniel checked.  Jack moved another piece on the game board, and then he heard Daniel say, “Oh.”

“What?  Didn't see that?”

“Actually, uh, I was oh-ing about something else.”  Daniel moved another chess piece.  “Checkmate.  I should have done that two moves ago.  I don't know what I was thinking.”

“Yeah, well.  You're a little off.”

“I don't feel off.  I feel ... I feel fine.  No headaches, no tension.  I
mean, I feel ... normal.”

“That's because it was just stress, and I have a very calming effect on stressed out people.  How about a game of gin?”

“I'm not very good at gin.”

“Good!  Get the cards.”

Unlike chess, gin was Jack's game, or so he thought.  He usually won their matches, but what he didn't know was that Daniel was a lot better at the card game than he let on.

~That's my little secret, Colonel.~

Daniel began to move towards the storage cabinet to get the cards when he again heard those familiar sounds, the sounds of chevrons locking into place.  He looked at Jack who was putting away the chess pieces.

~You don't hear it, do you?  Gawd.  No, stop.  It's not real.  It's just stress, like Jack said.~

As Daniel's mind heard the Stargate engaging, he flung open the doors, expecting to see the event horizon.  Instead, he saw the cabinet.  ~Okay, good.  It's not real.  Jack is real.  Concentrate on Jack.~

Taking the cards as well as a pad and pen to keep score with, Daniel returned to the table and sat down.  Suddenly, he heard a screeching noise and looked up.  Jack was shuffling the deck of cards, but as he was doing so, Daniel saw a fully matured symbiote snaking up his lover's right arm.  Panic hit the younger man.

~It's not real.~  Daniel's anxiety grew.  He couldn't say nothing, so finally he called his lover's name, “Jack?”   ~It's not real.  The symbiote isn't there.~

“Yeah?  What?”

Jack sounded fine.  He sat calmly, across from Daniel, acting perfectly normal.

“It's nothing.”

“You all right?”   Jack continued to shuffle the cards.  ~I'm gonna beat your behind good in this game.  My turn to win.   Wait.  What's wrong?~

“I'm fine.  How are you feeling?”  Daniel nervously watched the Goa'uld climb up Jack's arm, hovering at the older man's neck, as if taunting Daniel.  Jack remained surprisingly calm.

“Good.  Real good,” Jack spoke just as the imaginary symbiote lunged into his neck.

~No, Gawd.  What if it's real?  What if ... no, I can't take the chance.~  Instinctively, Daniel jumped, lunging towards his lover in an attempt to get the phantom symbiote out of him.  He yelled, “There's a Goa'uld in you!  I've got to get it out!”

Instinctively, Jack stood, Daniel still trying to remove the unseen attacker.  Afraid of hurting Daniel, the older man backed a few steps.

“Get off.  There's no Goa'uld in me!”

Jack tried to be calm as he moved a few feet away.  He needed Daniel to snap back to reality, and was relieved when the younger man seemed to return to his senses.

“I'm sorry.  I saw it.  I saw it.”

Daniel began to sway slightly, his body giving in to ordeal.

Jack moved toward the young man, gently grabbing hold of him as he asked, “You all right?  Come on.”

Jack helped Daniel settle on the floor, trying to reassure him.  He headed for the phone to call for help, returning to his unconscious lover seconds later.

“Daniel ... Daniel, I promise.  We'll find out what this is.  It's going to be okay.  Hang in there, Daniel.”  ~Friggin' security cameras.  Oh, to heck with it.~

Gently pulling Daniel's head onto his lap, Jack tenderly caressed Daniel's head, his hand going back and forth in soft, caring motions.  

~Go ahead, make something of it,~ he silently challenged whomever might be watching the security tape in the future.

Jack waited impatiently for Janet to arrive, only she didn't come alone. MacKenzie was on her heals.

Jack bellowed, “What are YOU doing here?”

“Move aside, Colonel.”

“Jack, what happened?”

For a second, Jack considered lying, but he couldn't.  Daniel was sick.  He had to be honest to help him get better.

“He ... he thought he saw a symbiote jump inside me, and he tried to get it out.”

“Jack?”  Daniel began to come around, but he was restless and frightened.

“Daniel, I'm here.  So are the doctors.”  **I'm sorry, Love.  It'll be okay.**

Daniel looked up at Jack.  “The Goa'uld!  Jack, get it out!”

“No, Daniel.  There's nothing here.”

Daniel heard the mechanical sounding voice of the Goa'uld and saw Jack's eyes glowing.  He became more agitated, struggling to pull away from Jack.

“Daniel, what's wrong?”

“Goa'uld.  Get it out!  Goa'uld inside Jack!”

“Daniel, there's no Goa'uld in me.”  **Danny, Love, I'm fine.  I swear.**

Daniel shook his head as he struggled to move away from his lover until finally, Janet sedated him as Jack stood by helplessly, his heart shattering from the fear he had seen in his lover's eyes.

“We're going to have to commit him,” MacKenzie said.

“Over my dead body,” Jack insisted.

“Colonel,” Janet said, standing and turning to stare Jack down.  “Daniel's sick.  You may not like it, but he is.”

“He is NOT crazy.  You KNOW him, Janet.  How can you do this?  You're supposed to be his friend”

“I'm a doctor, Colonel.  I have a sworn oath to do what is best for my patients.  There is nothing physically wrong with Daniel.”

“What about his dopamine whatever levels?”

“That's the only thing, and it's a symptom of the schizophrenia.”

“HE'S NOT CRAZY!”

“Colonel ...”

“You're giving up on him.  How can you just write him off, Doctor Fraiser?”

“There is nothing else I can do, Colonel.  He's beyond my help.”

“I've seen you do more for ... for computer viruses.  Are you really going to stand here, after less than twenty-four hours, and tell me you've done everything?  That you are out of ideas and options?”

“Colonel O'Neill,” MacKenzie interjected.  “Gate travel is a dangerous thing.  Doctor Jackson also has a history of emotional problems and ...”

“Shut up.”

“Excuse me?”

Jack said coldly, “Shut ... up.  You know NOTHING about Daniel Jackson or his history.  NOTHING!”  He turned back to Janet.  “You're betraying him, Janet.  We both know you haven't done all you could.  Afraid the quack here is after your job?”

“That's enough, Colonel,” MacKenzie ordered.

Jack was breathing hard, his veins bulging at his neck as he faced the psychiatrist.  “I haven't even begun.  You hurt him, and I WILL kill you.”

“Jack.”  Janet tried to calm him.  “This really is the best thing for Daniel.  They can do more for him at the hospital.  I just don't know enough ...”

“You're selling him out, DOCTOR.”  Jack emphasized the title as Janet distanced herself from the unity of the team and their friendship.  “Lie to yourself, if you want, but I won't let you lie to me.  I'm going to talk to Hammond.  Don't take him anywhere until I do.  Understand?”

“Colonel, I'm afraid you aren't listening to us,” Janet tried to explain.

“Don't move him until I'm back.  Okay?”  Jack's voice was strained and controlled.

“All right, Colonel.”

Jack knelt down next to his sedated lover.  “Don't worry, Daniel.  This won't last long.” He stood back up and walked out, heading for General Hammond's office.

====

“Jack, my hands are tied.”

“He's a friggin' genius, Sir.  He's not some lunatic.”

“Jack, you know that history has shown that being a genius sometimes comes hand in hand with eccentricity, if not insanity itself.”

“Do you really believe that, General?”

The General sighed.  “Jack, I'm not a doctor.  These situations are beyond me.  I have to trust my people.  Doctor MacKenzie is ...”

“... is a quack.”

“Colonel!”

Jack sighed.  “General, this is wrong.  Daniel's just ... tired.  We've had some tough missions lately.  He just needs some ... time away, that's all.”

“Jack, we have the best medical people in the country.  They'll see to it that Doctor Jackson gets the best possible care.”

“I won't let him stay there, Sir.”

“Colonel, let Doctors Fraiser and MacKenzie do their jobs.”  The General moved back to his desk from the door where he'd been standing and sat down.  “Jack, he may not be the only one affected.  We can't afford to take chances with him, or anyone else.  I'm sorry.  I know he's your friend, but I don't have a choice here.”

“Yes, you do, Sir.  So does Doctor Fraiser.  And so do I.”

Jack turned and exited.

====

“Where is he?  JANET?”  Jack ran down the hallway.  Daniel wasn't supposed to be transported for another hour, but he was gone, and Jack wasn't happy.  He barged into Janet's office.  “WHERE IS DANIEL?”

“Calm down ...”

“DONT' TELL ME TO CALM DOWN.  WHERE IS HE?”

“He's on his way to the Air Force hospital.”

“YOU LIED TO ME!”

“Doctor MacKenzie felt it would be best if Daniel went quietly.”

“You mean without me?”

“Colonel, he wanted to do a closer evaluation of Daniel under more controlled circumstances.  With his other obligations, it was easier for him to do that at the hospital than here at the SGC.”

Jack shook his head defiantly, turning his back on Janet in anger.  He closed his eyes for a moment at the same time that he ran his right hand through his hair in frustration.

“Daniel needs calm and quiet surroundings.  I'm afraid his visitors will be restricted ...”

Jack turned and faced Janet.  She backed two steps.  He looked at her with a rage she had never seen before.

“You listen to me.  Daniel is not going to spend the rest of his life in the looney bin.  He's not crazy.  He's ... stressed.  He'll be fine.”

“I know you want to believe that.  Doctor MacKenzie feels ...”

“Who's in charge of this department anyway?”  Jack closed the gap between himself and the petite red-headed doctor.  “If you're going to run this place, then run it.  Otherwise, get the heck out, and let the quack take over.”

Jack was halfway out the door when he turned.  “No one is keeping me from seeing Daniel.  No one.”

====

“I'm sorry, Colonel O'Neill, but it's for the patient's own good.  We need to keep him under strict observation for at least twenty-four hours.  Maybe you can see him then.”

“I'm going to see him now.”  Jack's eyes spoke of murder, and even MacKenzie saw that.

“Very well.  I'll give you ten minutes with the patient.”

“His name is Daniel Jackson.”

“I advise you to keep your distance and don't do anything to feed his neurosis.”

~I may feed you to the sharks if you don't hurry up and take me to him.~

They walked down a long hallway.  Daniel was in a narrow room.  It was just ten feet by six feet.

“I thought this was a hospital, not a prison,” Jack barked when he saw the room.

“He's under observation.  He'll be here for a few days and then ...”

“NO!”  Jack squared off against MacKenzie.  “I may not be able to get Daniel out of here ... YET ... but he will NOT, repeat NOT, be penned up like an animal.   Get him a larger room ... NOW!”

“I can't ...”

“Oh, yes you can, and you will, or ...” Jack moved closer, “I'll break your neck.”

MacKenzie coughed, unlocked the door, and said as a reminder.  “Ten minutes, Colonel”

“And when I'm done, I will personally escort Daniel to his new room.”  Jack looked at MacKenzie as if he were Apophis, Heru'ur, and Hathor all rolled into one.  Then, he turned and walked into the room.  He knew they were watching Daniel, so he couldn't comfort his lover like he wanted to.

Daniel was seated in a far corner of the padded room.  He was rocking himself back and forth, mumbling something.

Jack walked to within a few feet and knelt down.  “Daniel?  I'm going to get you out of here.”

“J'ck?”  Red, swollen eyes bore into Jack's soul as Daniel looked up at him.  The young man shook his head.  “Not Jack.  Jack wouldn't let me stay here.  Not Jack.  Just ... imagination.”

Jack cringed, his heart already shattered, it was now dissolving into nothingness.  He felt like he had failed Daniel, and his lover's words simply reinforced that feeling.  He sighed.  “The doctors think you're ... sick, but I know better.  I just need some time to figure out what to do. You're just tired, Danny.”

“Not Jack.”

“Do you need anything?  Carter, Teal'c, and I are going to come back later.”

“Jack wouldn't leave me here.”

“I'm sorry, Daniel.  Be patient, okay.  I'll take care of it.  But the doctors ...”

“Screw the doctors, and screw you,” Daniel suddenly charged at Jack, knocking him over.  He ran to the other wall, pounding on it.  “Goa'uld.  Goa'uld everywhere.  Have to get them out.  Help me get them out.”

Jack's heart cried as he watched Daniel attempt to tear imaginary symbiotes out of the padding, his hands pulling the unseen creatures down and then throwing them.

Daniel turned.  “Jack would help me.  Not Jack.”  He turned back and continued with his actions.

Jack stood, walked over to his lover, and struggled not to break down.

“Goa'uld.  Everywhere.   Want me.  Want me as a host.  Have to get them away.”

Jack took a breath.  He needed to reach Daniel, and nothing else had worked.  This may not be the smartest thing to do, but he and Daniel had always done everything together.  Now, they would do this together, too.

So, Jack began to help his lover fight the Goa'uld symbiotes that weren't there.  He tore them out of the wall, tossed them to ground, and ripped them up.  He stepped on them, crushed them, and tore off their necks.  He put all he had into saving Daniel from the threat that only Daniel perceived, so much so, that it became his sole focus.

“Jack?”  Daniel had stopped.  He turned towards his lover, a tear falling from his eye.  Exhaustion overtaking him, Daniel slumped towards the older man.

Breathing hard, the older man turned, catching his lover and then embraced him.  ~Make something of this, too, you morons.~  Jack held Daniel close, not caring if their watchers saw it as more than friendship or not.  He'd held Daniel like this before, and just about all of the SGC knew about it.

Jack whispered firmly, “I'm going to get you out of here.  I need you to believe that, and ... I need you to do what the doctor's say ... just for now.  Okay?”

“Okay, Jack.”  Daniel had sniffled as he pulled back.

Jack rubbed his upper arms in support.  “Hang in there.  You aren't alone, Danny.  It won't be long.”

The door opened, and Doctor MacKenzie walked in, three attendants accompanying him.  Jack held up his hands, moving in front of his lover.  The attendants stopped and looked at the psychiatrist who nodded.

“You have his room ready?”

“It's against my better judgment, but ...”

“Good.”  Jack turned to face Daniel.  “Daniel, we're going to a bigger room now, where you can be more comfortable.  It's not the Hilton, but it'll have to do for now.”

“No Goa'uld?”

Barely able to speak, Jack answered, “None.  I checked myself.  They're all gone.”

Not caring what MacKenzie or anyone else thought, Jack moved to Daniel's side.  He knew MacKenzie was planning on having the three strongmen maneuver the archaeologist to the new room, but Jack wasn't going to allow it.  He reached out with is left arm and put it protectively around Daniel's waist.  Daniel blinked as Jack then took hold of Daniel's right hand with his left.

“We're going to go to your new room now.  Come with me, okay?”

“Okay, Jack.”

Jack motioned for the psychiatrist to lead the way, following him to a much bigger room, one that had crevices and corners so Daniel could at least have some variation in his life. Still, it was just a white room, completely padded.  No beds.  No furniture of any kind.  Jack felt sick, but remained strong for the man he was bracing up.

They walked in, and Daniel whispered.  “Are you sure?”

“Yes, Daniel.  I'm sure.”  Jack rubbed Daniel's back briefly in support as Daniel walked away, studying the new room.

“No Goa'uld.  Jack says no Goa'uld.  If Jack says there's no Goa'uld, then there's no Goa'uld.”

MacKenzie looked at the Air Force Colonel who only glared back at him.

~Go ahead.  Make something of it.  He believes me.  He trusts me.  And I won't lie to him.  I'm getting him out of here.  Come on, Danny.  It's just stress.  You have to get better.~

“Daniel,” Jack spoke softly.  “I have to go for a while.  I'll be back later with the team.”

“I wouldn't recommend that, Colonel.”

“We'll be back.”  Jack walked to Daniel, reaching out to touch his shoulder.

Daniel startled.  True to Jack's words, there no Goa'ulds, but what he saw now were more Linvris, taunting him.  There were four of them, hovering over Jack, their hands pawing him.

“Daniel.  We will kill him.  Join us.”

“No.”

“Daniel, what's wrong?”  Jack saw his lover beginning to back away for a second.

Then, one of the Linvris held out his hands, placing them around Jack's neck.  “We will kill him.”

“NOOOO!  LINVRIS ARE TRYING TO KILL YOU.  HAVE TO GET THEM AWAY!”

Just like earlier with the Goa'uld, the young man lunged at his lover.  The attendants rushed forward, sedating him before Jack could respond by doing anything more than holding Daniel at bay.

“YOU QUACK!  WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?”

“I told you, Colonel.  He's ill.  He's going to be here for a very long time.”

“You sedated him.  He doesn't need your drugs.”  Jack was distraught as he charged the psychiatrist.

“Colonel, calm down.”

“I WILL NOT CALM DOWN.  YOU'RE TREATING HIM LIKE HE DOESN'T KNOW HIS NAME.  HOW IS DRUGGING HIM HELPING HIM, DOCTOR?  ... and I use that term lightly.”

“I won't stand here and be insulted.  I've done by best to explain about the patient.  He's delusional, and I will continue to sedate him as I see fit.  Now, the patient ...”

Jack charged MacKenzie, pinning him to the wall.  “HIS NAME IS DANIEL, AND HE DESERVES RESPECT ...”

Jack's words were cut off by the attendants who pulled him back, away from the doctor.  He struggled, but he wasn't thinking straight himself, and the attendants were big guys.

“LET ME GO!”

MacKenzie nodded, and the attendants released Jack.  The psychiatrist stared Jack down.

“I will do my job, Colonel, and I expect YOU to respect that.  I'll forget about what just happened -- this time.”  The man took a breath and moved a few steps to stare down at Daniel.  “Doctor Jackson is ill, severely ill.  I wouldn't be expecting any improvement in the near future.  In fact, he may never be the man you know again.”

Jack backed away, saying nothing.  ~Geez, Danny.  I don't know how to fight this.  I don't know how to help you.~  Jack turned and hurried out, fighting to keep back the tears.

====

Jack sat alone in his office, the door locked, the lights off.  He sat back in his chair, staring into nothingness.  He had gone through yet another battle with Janet Fraiser, who continued to insist Daniel was mentally ill.  She pummeled Jack with medical terms and rhetoric that had his head spinning.

“If you want him to ever get well,” she'd said.

“If you truly care about him, Colonel,” she'd taunt.

“If he's ever to have a chance at a normal life again,” she'd stated.

All of Janet's “ifs” left Jack cold and empty.  He began to wonder if she was right.  Who was he to maintain his belief that it was only stress?  Janet was the doctor and a friend.  She'd never abandon Daniel to an asylum of quacks if there was any other option.  ~Would she?~

Since meeting Daniel, Jack had a history of rescuing the younger man from all kinds of threats, be it princesses with fatal attraction crushes or Goa'ulds wanting Daniel for lunch.  No matter what the danger, Jack was Daniel's protector.  No one, nothing would hurt Daniel as long as Jack was around.

~But ... how do I fight this?  I don't have an enemy to kill. There aren't any princesses to expose as witches.  What am I supposed to do, Danny?  I don't know how to fix this.  I might only hurt you more.  That's what MacKenzie says.  Janet backs him up.  Geez, Danny.  What am I supposed to do?~

Jack placed his arms on his desk, and leaned over, cradling his head in them.  He closed his eyes as the tears fell.

====

Jack was tired.  MacKenzie and Janet were continuing their strong stance about Daniel's mental illness, and the Air Force wasn't helping, continuing with the barrage of testing of SG personnel.

The plan had been for SG-1 to visit their teammate the same afternoon that Daniel had been admitted, but MacKenzie used his muscle to forbid it, convincing Hammond to order Jack, Sam, and Teal'c to wait at least twenty-four hours.  Jack had argued until he was blue in the face.  More importantly, he argued until Hammond had him escorted to a VIP room for the night, a guard posted at his door.

“I'm sorry, Colonel, but you aren't thinking clearly.  We have to trust our medical team.”

Jack had spent the night considering his options.  Finally, he had picked up the phone to call his lawyer, his decision made.

When morning came, he feigned contrition, quietly eating oatmeal for breakfast in the commissary.  He had listened with mixed emotions as Janet explained that she was turning over Daniel's case to the base psychiatrist, to the quack, MacKenzie.

“You must understand, Colonel, that this is out of my league.  Doctor MacKenzie knows what's best.”

~Yes, I understand.  You're giving up on him completely, hanging him out to dry, Doctor Fraiser.  I may have to continue working with you, or not, but you just lost my respect.~

Jack's thoughts had been full of resentment, anger, frustration, and even defeat, but he played the good soldier.  For now, he had to.

Janet had gone on about MacKenzie's reports to her that morning, that Daniel was hallucinating and having to be medicated even more.

~Drugs.  Your answer to everything.  Danny hates drugs.  You're trying to make him an addict.~

Finally, MacKenzie had agreed to let SG-1 visit their comrade.  He had just spent ten minutes giving them a list of rules, not unlike what he had told Jack the morning before -- no matter what, stay back because it might feed into his delusion; don't go along with his delusions, speak the truth; call the attendants if he gets violent because he's capable of anything right now.  On and on the psychiatrist had gone with his list of rules.

As they approached Daniel's room at the Air Force hospital, MacKenzie quickly reviewed his list of do's and don'ts.

~Just shut up, and get out of my way.~  Jack struggled to keep himself under control.

“Don't expect much,” MacKenzie said just before opening the door.  “If he becomes agitated, call the aides.”

Jack knew he had to fake his way through this visit.  He just had some things to finalize, and then he'd fix it.  ~You always say I'm your Mister Fix-it, Love.  Well, that's exactly what I'm going to do, but you'll have to forgive me.  It's going to take a little time.  We have to get through the next couple of days first.~

The team was stunned at the sight of Daniel, sitting alone on the floor, surrounded by a sea of white padded foam.  His head was in his hands as he sat facing the door, his legs crossed Indian-style.  He was barefoot, and his hair was damp, the bangs hanging in small clumps over his forehead.

~People.  There is someone here.  Blurry.  Can't see.  Who would come?~  Daniel's mind struggled to think logically.  At least before they had pumped him full of drugs, he'd still been able to think, even if he was seeing things.  Now he was still seeing things and he couldn't even get his mind to work properly.

“Jack?”  The young man said, not really sure if he was seeing his lover, or just wishing he was there.

“It's us, Daniel. Can't you see us?”

~Sam.  Sounds like Sam.  She had a Goa'uld, too.~  “I was just making sure you weren't figments of my ... mind.  They took away my glasses in case I broke the lenses and, uh, tried to, uh, hurt myself.”

~Morons.  He can't see without his glasses.  Hurt himself.  Gawd, I'm going to hurt someone, and soon.~  Jack had to bite his tongue not to yell out his anger at this latest insult.  He had to move on in his thoughts or he'd be strangling the psychiatrist within three minutes.  “Are they treating you okay?” he finally asked.

“Yeah.”  But then Daniel's face crumpled, and he began to cry, his face red from tears shed now and prior to SG-1's arrival.  “I'm sorry.”  Again, Daniel placed his head in his hands.  His voice was trembling.

“For what?” Jack asked, using every ounce of his training to keep himself from taking his lover in his arms.  ~I'm going to kill MacKenzie.~

“For being such a head case.”

“It's not your fault, Daniel,” Sam said, her voice choked and her eyes battling not to release the tears they were crying.

In a quest to reassure his friend, Teal'c added calmly, “ColonelO'Neill believes it has something to do with the Linvris.”

“You remember in that chamber you said you felt something brush by
you?”  Jack needed a sense of normalcy to get through the remainder of this visit.  He kept his hands in his pockets, his fingers unseen as they gnawed at the pocket lining as he watched his suffering soulmate.

“Yes.  It was them.  I know you don't believe me, but I felt them.”  Daniel paused, then added, “They heard me.”

SG-1 watched in horror as Daniel suddenly said he could hear footsteps and scampered into a corner of his padded cell.  He hunched down to the floor, his hands visibly shaking, his fear obvious.  He said with a panicked, trembling voice, “They're coming. They're coming.”

“Only your friends are here, DanielJackson,” Teal'c spoke, also having to fight the urge to move forward and comfort their friend.

Daniel remained huddled in the corner.  He looked at Jack, his eyes pleading with his lover  -- “Get me out of here, Jack.”  In his drugged state, he couldn't focus his thoughts enough to use their near-telepathic like communication.  He felt too fuzzy, so he relied on his eyes, on the visual, and hoped Jack would get the message.

But Jack only heard Daniel's words, his warning of footsteps.  Part of the reason was the forced detachment he had placed on himself.  ~We have to get through this visit, and the next few days.  Then, I can do what I need to.  Please, Danny, just ... get through this for now.~

“They're coming.  I hear footsteps.  Footsteps.”

“Daniel,” Jack tried to be strong as he spoke, using his command voice.  It was all he knew to do.  “There are no footsteps. Stay with us.”  **I need you, Danny.**

“Footsteps!”

Daniel saw a dead Goa'uld behind Teal'c.  He laughed and cried at the same time as he pointed to him.  “I told you.  That's one of them.  He's right there.”

“There is no one at my side, DanielJackson.”

“Yes, there is.”

Jack couldn't stand it anymore.  Feeling like he was betraying Daniel yet again he spoke softly to Sam, “Wanna get the aides?”

She nodded and knocked on the door.  At that moment, Daniel jumped up and ran towards the Linvris that only he saw.  Teal'c grabbed Daniel to restrain him.

Jack put his hand to his chin.  It almost a small knock, a tap, to remind himself to stay back.  ~Don't blow it, Jack.  If they get a clue what you're planning, they'll make it more difficult.  Gawd, Danny, I'm sorry.  Soon, I promise.   Soon.~

Daniel settled as he watched a small blue slug-like object go from his body into Teal'c's.  Just before the aides entered, Daniel backed away, pointing at the Jaffa and warning, “Something just went inside Teal'c.”

Jack's heart was breaking, his effort at being detached about to crumble into a myriad of pieces.  “You're hallucinating, Daniel.”

The aides held Daniel down as they waited for MacKenzie to enter and give them orders.

“Well, don't just stand there!  Get it out of him,” Daniel demanded.

Jack noticed that Daniel seemed to settle a bit, focusing intently at something.  What he didn't know was that Daniel was hearing a voice.  “You have delivered me to the vile Goa'uld so that I may destroy him.”

“Ma'chello!” Daniel said in surprise as the aides administered a shot.

MacKenzie entered the room.  “Okay, let's raise the dose.  Five mils at four hour intervals.”

Daniel repeated the name,“Ma'chello,” as he slipped into sleep.

“You'll have to leave now, Colonel, and I'm afraid I'll have to insist that you give me a chance to work with my patient for a while before returning.  Clearly, you've upset him.”

~I wonder how you'd like being a host to a Goa'uld?~

Jack simply turned, looking briefly at the crumpled body of the man he loved, and walked out the door, Sam and Teal'c following closely behind him.

====

As the three members of SG-1 returned to the SGC, talking about Daniel's situation, Teal'c suddenly collapsed, and was taken to the infirmary.  Janet had no clue what was wrong.  She knew only that Teal'c's larval Goa'uld was dying.

Knowing there was nothing he could do for Teal'c, Jack excused himself to head back to his office.  He had something he had to do.

====

A few hours later, Janet and Sam knocked on his door.  Jack welcomed his 2IC, but he simply motioned to Janet.  Right now, the diminutive doctor was not his favorite person.

“Colonel, I wanted to let you know that I truly am sorry about Daniel.  I know how close the two of you are.”

Jack listened passively to Janet's ramblings.  She went on for five minutes trying to justify her position.  He didn't react.  He just sat, his eyes penetrating hers.  ~I know the truth, Janet.  Skip the bull.~

Finally, Janet came to her real point for coming to Jack's office.  “Sir, Doctor MacKenzie has completed his initial evaluation.  Of course, there's much more to be done, but he's not hopeful.  He believes Daniel's case is severe, that it may take years for him to recover, if in fact, he ever can.  He plans to keep Daniel in the room he's in now for quite some time.  I'm sorry, Sir.  I wish we had more encouraging news.”

Jack said nothing.

Janet looked at Sam, lowering her guilt-ridden eyes.  She backed out of the room without saying another word.

Quietly, Sam went to the office door and closed it.  “I'm so sorry, Colonel.”

“Carter, I'll be recommending that you take over SG-1 effective immediately.”

“Sir?”  Jack's voice had been completely flat, level, emotionless even.

“I don't understand.”

“I can't leave him there, in some white foamy hellhole.  I'm taking Daniel home.”

“He needs treatment, Colonel.”

“He needs home.  It's just ... stress,” Jack lied to himself as he stood and walked to the shelf where he stared at the model plane Daniel had once given him.  “Do you really think he has any hope of getting better while he's locked in a padded room?”

“Colonel ...”

“Carter, listen to me,” Jack said as he turned to face the blonde.  “I don't need the Air Force anymore.  I'm only here because Daniel is, because SG-1 seems to have this uncanny ability to protect Earth against snakeheads and dunderheads like Kinsey.  Daniel, he has this river of compassion for other worlds that need us.  I've bought into that, so I've stayed, to protect the world.”

Jack paused, letting out a sigh.  “I don't know what this is that Daniel has, or why it's appeared out of nowhere, but I do know that I love him, and he's counting on me.  They've got him locked up like an animal, and that quack MacKenzie isn't going to use Daniel like a guinea pig to test out his theories about Gate travel.  I remember when the Ancients downloaded that stuff into my brain.  I will never forget what Daniel said to the General when he wanted him to go off-world.”

Jack smiled as he recalled sitting opposite his lover.  He wasn't understanding much at that point, and Daniel was the only one he still had a connection to.  Yet, somehow, miraculously, Jack had understood clearly the words spoken by his lover to General Hammond:  “I can't leave him like this, and I won't.”

“Sir, maybe we should wait, let the doctors try to help him.”

“They took away his glasses, Carter.  He can't see.  Did you see him?  Red faced from crying, feeling abandoned and alone.  I can't get that out of my mind.  No, I have to do this.  I won't leave him there, and I intend to tell General Hammond that this afternoon.  I'll give him this, and then I'm going to get Daniel out of that place.”

“What is that?”  Sam stared at the envelope Jack held in his hand.

“My resignation.”  He put it back in his pocket.  “I've talked with my lawyer.  He's getting the papers ready for me.  I've talked to other doctors.  I'm learning what I need to do, and make no mistake about it, Carter, I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure Daniel is cared for -- by me.”

Jack sighed.  “Look, let's go check on Teal'c.  I'd like to make sure he's okay first, or at least let him know we're there, but then, Carter, SG-1 is yours.”

“Sir ...”

But Jack had no more words.  He walked out of his office, heading for the infirmary.

====

“Hey, Buddy,” Jack said as he stood by the isolation tent that surrounded the Jaffa.  There was no response from Teal'c.  “Carter and I are just gonna sit here for a while.  Just ... let us know if you need anything, anything at all.”  Jack sighed as he sat on a stool, feeling helpless once again.

Sam sat down on the empty bed to the left of Teal'c's bed.  She wished there was something she could do.  ~SG-1 is falling apart.  Come on, Teal'c.  I need you to help me with the Colonel.  And we need to get Daniel back.  We're family, Teal'c, the four of us.~  

Jack looked up to see Janet approaching.

“Teal'c's symbiote is dying.  I can't explain why,” Janet stated, eventually saying Teal'c's life expectancy was dismal.  “Without another symbiote, a day, two, maybe less.  Even if we found another larval Goa'uld in time, there's no telling if it would survive, either.”

~You're just full of good news these days, aren't ya, Doc?~  Jack felt no warmth for his one-time friend at this point in time.  In fact, he still had the urge to throttle her for the part she'd played in having Daniel committed.

====

Daniel awoke, lying next to the wall in his cell-like room.  ~Jack?  Gawd, what's happened to me?  Think.  Need to think ... Ma'chello.  Inventions.  Linvris.  That thing.  Gawd.~

Daniel stood and hurried to the locked door and began to bang on it.  When the attendants came, he demanded to see Doctor MacKenzie, refusing to be quiet until the orderlies agreed to tell the psychiatrist that Daniel wanted to see him immediately.

Daniel paced for a while, then sat back down.  ~Have to get my mind clear.  This should be simple.  Jack.  No, can't think about Jack now.  Teal'c.  Thing went in Teal'c.  Gawd, drugged.  I can't think straight.  Have to, though.  Have to get out of here.~

Daniel looked up as the psychiatrist entered the room with the attendants.  “It's time for your meds,” the doctor insisted.

“I don't, uh, I don't need any more drugs.  What I need is the ones
you got in my system, out of my system.”   Daniel had stood, and was backing into the corner, not wanting to be within reach of the aides looming nearby.  He hunched back down, as if trying to hide.

“No, Daniel.  You need rest.”

Daniel let out a nervous laugh.  “I think I've rested enough.  Just tell me one thing.  Is Teal'c sick?”

“Not that I'm aware of.  I haven't been to the SGC.”

Daniel banged his arm against the wall in frustration.  ~Think.  I need to think.~

MacKenzie threatened, “Doctor Jackson, I insist you calm yourself. Otherwise, I'll have to have you restrained and further sedated.”

“Why are you so quick to jump to the conclusion I'm crazy?  That I'm
dangerous?  I'm out of control?  It's 'cause I'm kinda acting that way, aren't I?  I just uh,” Daniel stood again, moving back to the center of the room and leaning against the back wall, “I just need to get these drugs out of my system.  Look, Doctor, I know you probably hear this from patients all the time, but I think I'm cured.”

“You're right.  I hear it all the time.  I'm afraid it doesn't work that way.  You don't get well from something like this overnight.”

“You do if there were an alien organism inside you that is making you think that you were sick when you really weren't.”

MacKenzie listened skeptically as Daniel explained who Ma'chello was
and where he had met him.  The psychiatrist wasn't buying Daniel's story.  “Dead?  Yet he told you that there was someone inside you making you appear crazy?”

“That's a good point.  I wouldn't, uh, I wouldn't buy that if I were
you, either.  Just do me one favor, okay?  Contact the SGC.  Find out if Teal'c is sick. If he is, promise me you'll let me talk to Jack O'Neill.”

“All right, but if you don't remain calm, I will have these gentlemen sedate you.”

Daniel moved to the corner and quietly sat down, though he still rocked himself back and forth for a while as he thought.  ~I can do this.  Just be quiet.  Wait for Jack.  Jack will fix it now.  Jack.  Love Jack.  Have faith in him.  Trust Jack.  He won't leave me here.  Jack will fix it.  Jack will fix it.~

MacKenzie motioned for the attendants to follow him out, but before the door closed, Daniel heard him say “If he gets agitated again, increase the dosage another five mils and restrain him.”

~I'm getting better, not worse.  Gawd, leave me alone.~

Daniel slammed his body against the wall for a moment.  Looking up, he saw the blurred image of an attendant peering into the room.

~Not good.  Don't do that.  Need Jack.  Have to save Teal'c.  Jack, come. Hurry, Jack.~

====

Jack took out the envelope he had in his pocket.  Sam watched, seeing the agony in his eyes.  “Sir, I still think maybe you should give the doctors a chance.”

Jack shook his head.  “No, when I walk out of here tonight, I'm going to Hammond, and then I'm going to get Daniel out of that place and away from that quack.”

They sat quietly for a long time, watching Teal'c lying on the bed, dying.  Both felt useless.  Their team was falling apart.  Their team was dying.  The unbeatable SG-1 was on the verge of succumbing to the nasty whims of The Fates.

More time passed, and Jack was getting fidgety.  “I'll be back.  I need to make a phone call.”

Jack's call was to Mark Kingston, his lawyer.  He needed to see if Mark had processed the papers yet, papers based on the power of attorney that Daniel had given him.  It was the only thing the two could do, the only way they could have any control over what happened to the other.

There were no other laws that were helpful to them at this point in time, a time when they had to be more concerned with hiding in plain sight than with making sure they could care for each other should the worse happen.  Each had, however, given the other their power of attorney, as well as a notarized statement held in Mark's safe that clearly stated their desires.

Getting confirmation from Mark that Jack simply needed to come by the office to pick up the papers, Jack breathed a sigh of relief.  His itinerary for the night was made.  Visit a few more minutes with Teal'c, submit his resignation, and Daniel's, and then rescue his lover from his padded cell.  He would bring Daniel home, care for him himself.  He'd worry about details later.

He knew Daniel needed to be in his arms, and right now, Jack was desperate to feel Daniel against him as well.  Time ... only another few hours, and Daniel would be home, home with Jack.

Roughly fifteen minutes later, General Hammond entered the infirmary with a message.  “Doctor MacKenzie seems to think there's some sort of change with Doctor Jackson.”

~Change?  What has that quack done to my lover now?~ Jack could feel his anger rising to the surface yet again.

Janet spoke in surprise, “A change, Sir?”

“He's requesting that you come out there, Colonel.”

~You don't have to ask twice.  I'll be back, General ... with Daniel.~  Without saying a word, Jack leapt up off the stool to rush to his lover's side.

====

As he drove, Jack wondered why MacKenzie would call.  What kind of change?  Was there hope?  Or was the so-called psychiatric wonder just wanting to flaunt more medical mumbo jumbo at Jack?  ~So help me, if Daniel is worse, I'll kill him.~

Jack closed his eyes.  ~No, Daniel needs me.  I just need to take him home.  He'll be fine.  It's just ... stress.~

The Air Force Colonel felt doomed.  ~Stress.  Just stress.~  He wanted to believe what he kept telling his mind, but yet, he'd seen Daniel fighting the invisible Goa'uld.  It had broken his heart.  ~It doesn't matter.  Stress or worse.  You're coming home with me.  I just need to get the papers from Mark first.~

====

“Doctor MacKenzie.”  Jack was full of contempt as he entered the man's office at the hospital.

“Colonel, have a seat.”

“No, I think I'll stand.”

“Very well.  Doctor Jackson became upset a while ago.”

“What did you do to him?”

MacKenzie looked up from the papers he'd been examining to look at Jack.  He saw the hatred in the man's eyes.  “Look, Colonel, I know you may not agree with my diagnosis or treatment of Doctor Jackson, but I am well trained in my field.  I know my job.”

“But you don't know Daniel.”

The doctor decided to move forward.  “He said some things that I checked out with General Hammond at the base.  For that reason, I haven't given him his scheduled medication, and I've agreed to let him see you.  But I warn you, Colonel O'Neill, if he becomes upset, I will sedate and restrain him.”

“Over my dead body.”  It was a low, muttered response.

“Colonel?”  The doctor wasn't quite sure what he had heard.

“I want to see Daniel NOW.”  Jack turned and headed for the cell that housed his soulmate.  ~Soon.  Be calm, O'Neill.  A few more hours.  Play it cool.  Keep your distance.  Then, Daniel can come home.~

Jack took a deep breath, and then entered the room, seeing Daniel seated on the floor.  ~Soon,~ Jack reminded himself.

Daniel got up, and Jack noticed he seemed more alert than he had been before.

“Hey, Daniel.”  Jack started to reach out for the younger man, wanting to hold him, but he quickly pulled back.  ~Idiot, O'Neill.  Not yet.  Have to wait for those papers.~

“You don't, uh, you don't need to walk on eggshells any more. I'm
better.”  ~Listen to me, Jack.  You have to believe me.  I have to make you understand.~

“So I hear.  Uh, it's not that I doubt you, but, um, why do you think
it happened all of a sudden?”

Daniel's arms were crossed as he stood in a defensive posture, “I don't completely understand it myself, but I saw something come out of me and go into Teal'c.  And then I heard Ma'chello's voice.”

“Uh, Ma'chello?”  Jack's hopes had been shattered.  For a moment, Daniel had sounded so normal, but now, with one word, the name of a dead man, Jack's world had crumbled down around him again.

“Just hear me out.”  Daniel held his finger out in front of his face as he spoke the familiar words.  It was what he did whenever he knew people doubted him.  It was his 'I'm not nuts.  There's more to this, so please listen for a moment' gesture, and right now, Jack was willing to listen to anything that gave him hope Daniel would recover.

Daniel continued.  “I'm guessing it wasn't actually Ma'chello.  It was
probably some sort of technological or organic recording.  It said something about delivering Ma'chello to the vile Goa'uld, which made me start thinking.  Maybe I had some sort of Goa'uld killing invention inside of me.  One of Machello's inventions.”

“And that's what made you ... nuts?”

“Well, since I don't have a Goa'uld, a side effect of this invention must make normal people act like they're ...”

Jack whispered, “Nuts?”

“Schizophrenic.  Look, Teal'c is sick, right?”

“Right.”

“Well, he does have a Goa'uld.”

As Daniel had done before, his eyes pleaded with his lover.  “Get me out of here, Jack.”

Jack smiled, this time seeing the request.  And now, Daniel wanted to see if he could focus more, to communicate it on another level.  

**Jack?**

Jack locked onto Daniel's eyes, and never losing contact with them, he slowly moved towards the younger man.  He put his hand on Daniel's cheek, caressing it gently with his thumb.  **I hear you, Love.**

“Get me out of here, Jack,” Daniel verbalized.  “We have to get to Teal'c.”

Jack was frozen, lost in thoughts of how he had left his soulmate behind.  Daniel was getting better.  He felt that.  He knew it.  Daniel had never been crazy.  Guilt threatened to overtake him for allowing his lover to spend even five minutes in the padded room.

~I should have known.  I should have fought them more.~

“Jack, we have to get to Teal'c,” Daniel repeated.

Daniel was right.  ~Daniel is always right.~  Teal'c's life was at stake and time was of the essence, so he quickly snapped out of his frozen state.

“Okay, let's go.”

Daniel looked into the chocolate brown eyes he loved, wishing he could focus better.  “Really?  I mean, you believe me?”

“Yes, Danny.  I believe you, and we're getting out of here -- now.”

Jack opened the door.  An attendant looked at him, seeing Daniel so close to Jack, he ordered, “You need to stand back.”

Jack was tired of this.  He took one step back to stand next to his lover, and then did what he had done before, his left arm around Daniel's waist, the right hand holding Daniel's.

**Jack, we shouldn't do this.**

Jack smiled at the silent communication.  **Just let me take care of everything.  No arguments, Love.**

Daniel was too tired to fight.  He let Jack guide him out of the room.

“Colonel, you can't take the patient ...”

“Watch me!”

Jack led Daniel, still barefoot and not wearing glasses to the exit, but then he heard MacKenzie calling out.

Jack turned, still holding on to Daniel, to face the psychiatrist.

“You can't do this, Colonel.”

“Daniel is fine.  I'm taking him back to the SGC.”

“I'm sorry, but I can't let you ...”

“You can't stop me.”

Jack released Daniel for a moment and walked into MacKenzie's personal space.  “I'm taking him back to the SGC, and no one is going to stop me.  You have a problem with that, you can call Hammond.”

“General Hammond no longer has a say in ...”

Jack eyes widened.  “You arrogant prick.  I don't have time for this.”

“Calling me names won't get you anywhere, Colonel.  Now, take Doctor Jackson back to his room.”

“No.”

“Then I'll have to have you detained.”

“How self-absorbed are you?  You are nothing but a ...”

“Jack, don't.  Please, Jack.”  Daniel knew Jack was at a boiling point.  He feared for his lover's career.

“Maybe we need to do another evaluation, Colonel.  You may be more psychotic than your friend here.”

MacKenzie's face was smug, and Jack had reached his limit as he saw the uncaring, over-confident expression on the man.  He couldn't stand the thought that Daniel had been in the care of this man.

“I'll schedule ...”

MacKenzie didn't have a chance to finish his sentence.  Jack slugged him, knocking him to the ground.  Two attendants began to charge Jack, but the psychiatrist waved them off as he stood up.

“Feel better now, Colonel?” the man asked in a patronizing tone.  Getting no response, he moved towards Daniel, but Jack stepped in front of his lover, his hand extending out, touching MacKenzie's chest.

Jack's eyes were cold and dark, and MacKenzie saw the implied threat.  ~Get the message, because you aren't touching him.  If I have to kill you right here and now, I will, but you are so not touching Daniel, not now, not ever again.~

MacKenzie backed up three steps, feeling physically threatened and understanding for perhaps the first time how Jack O'Neill had gotten his fierce reputation.

~Aw, message received.  Good.~   “Come on.  Let's go.”  Jack grabbed Daniel, and they ran to this truck, Jack holding Daniel's hand since he knew Daniel couldn't see very well.

They hopped in and sped away from the hospital.

“Jack, they'll courtmartial you.”

“Let them.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel, I had to get you out of there, and at that moment, that was my only option.”

Daniel self-hugged as he sat.  Then he began to rub his arms.  Jack caught the action out of the corner of his eye.  He also remembered his lover was barefoot.  Jack pulled off to a side road, making sure his truck couldn't be seen from the main road.

“Jack?”

“Stay here.  Don't move.”  Jack exited, and Daniel watched as his lover went to the back of the truck, unlocking the storage compartment.  Then, Daniel's door opened.

“Scoot around, Love.”

Jack turned Daniel so his legs were dangling along the edge of the seat. Opening the duffel bag, Jack pulled out a pair of socks.  He massaged Daniel's feet for a moment.  “No cuts. That's good.”  Then, he slipped on the socks.

“Come here, Danny.”  Jack reached out to his lover, gently helping him out of the truck.  “Clothes,” Jack smiled.  They always kept spare clothes in the truck and Daniel's car, and right now, Jack was grateful for that.

Daniel looked tentatively at his lover.  The drugs were wearing off, but he was still feeling their effects.  He knew withdrawal wouldn't be any fun, for him or Jack.

“Look at me, Danny.”  Jack sensed Daniel had become afraid, so he wanted his lover to focus on him.  Jack was scared, too, but he wouldn't let Daniel see that.

“Here,” Jack pulled the white V-neck scrub shirt off Daniel and threw it  on the ground.  He put on the blue checked shirt and carefully buttoned it as Daniel stood.

“Jack.”

“Shh, let me.  Just this once, Love.”

Jack slid off the white hospital pants and then helped his lover step into the dark brown pants that had been in the bag, and then pulled them up, zipping them up.  He slid a black belt on, and finished making sure Daniel was properly dressed.  He smiled.  “You're so sexy.”

“Gawd, Jack.”  The voice was so vulnerable, the exhaustion and emotional strain of his ordeal shining through in the weak, soft voice.

Jack slowly closed the inches separating them and for the first time in the last few days, Jack held Daniel in his arms the way he was meant to -- the soulmate and the lover.  He buried his nose in Daniel's neck, taking in the scent and feel of this man whom he cherished.  Though clouded over by the sterile, antiseptic smell of the hospital, Jack could still smell the sweetness of his lover.  He could still take in the normal aroma of Daniel's skin.  It was there, under the staleness of the padded cell.

Daniel's hold was soft at first, and then as he realized it was real, that Jack was here, holding him, his arms closed in on Jack, squeezing him closer.

“I love you, Danny.  I love you so much.”

Daniel didn't say anything, but that was okay.  Jack knew his lover had been through a nightmare, a nightmare that was still going on and wouldn't end for days.  He repeated words of love and reassurance, and then pulled back a little.

“Oh, forgot something.”  Reaching into the bag, Jack pulled out the pair of spare glasses and gently glided them on.

Daniel sighed as the world came into focus.  “Thanks.”

Jack cupped Daniel's face.  He saw a lot of confusion in his lover, and even hesitancy.  For the first time in a long time, Jack asked permission.  “Danny?”

Daniel searched his partner's eyes and finally nodded.

They inched together as if moving in slow motion, the anticipation greater than it had been since they had first kissed.  But finally, their lips touched.

“Jack,” Daniel said, throwing his arms around Jack's neck as he lunged his mouth at Jack's.

It was intense, clingy, desperate, but the kiss bound them as one, reminding each that even if they had a rough road ahead, they'd get through it together, just like always.  But then, Jack pulled away.

“We need to get to the Mountain.”

Daniel missed their connection, but Jack was right.  They needed to make sure Teal'c was okay, and then they'd work on making sure Jack and Daniel were okay.

====

General Hammond stormed into the infirmary, and seeing it was empty except for the virtually unconscious Teal'c and his errant 2IC, lit into Jack.  “Colonel O'Neill, what were you thinking?  Hitting Doctor MacKenzie?  I've had Airmen exercise more control and restraint than my second-in-command showed today.  Tell me one good reason why I shouldn't have you arrested right now.”

“That would be me, General,” Daniel said, entering the infirmary.  He was dressed in his blue BDU's, having showered and endured more testing and prodding from Janet Fraiser.  Throughout it all, he'd managed to keep a tight rein on his disappointment in everyone at the SGC.  His arms folded tightly in front of him, Daniel moved forward.  “He didn't have a choice, Sir.”

“Doctor Jackson?”

“I'm fine, Sir.  Doctor MacKenzie didn't seem to want to recognize that fact.  We need to save Teal'c.  I had to be here.”

Hammond exhaled audibly.  He shook his head.  “I'll expect a full report just as soon as things are resolved here.”  Then, he exited, passing both Sam and Janet as they entered the infirmary.

“Your dopamine levels are back to normal,” Janet reported to Daniel.

Anger threatening to consume him, Daniel responded, “I'M back to normal.”  ~No thanks to you, Doctor.~

“Okay,” Sam said, “let's say your concept about Ma'chello's Goa'uld killing invention is right.  Why did it take so long to go into Teal'c?”

“I don't know.  Maybe it needed a close proximity to sense his Goa'uld larva.  Look, I had a lot of time locked in that little room to think about this.  It makes sense.  Why am I back to normal, and coincidentally, hours after touching me, Teal'c is sick?”

Daniel's tone reeked with raw anger.  Not only was his mind clearing about what had happened, but his anger rose the more he thought about it, especially since even having been proved right, his friends and worse, his lover, were still questioning him.

The archaeologist was sick and tired of having to justify himself.  Why couldn't they believe him, just this once, especially since he was standing there in front of them, clearly well again.

“Why didn't I get sick when we were playing cards the other night
and you were jumping all over me?” Jack asked.

“Because last I heard you don't have a Goa'uld larva.”  **Gawd, Jack, will you listen to me?**

**Danny, I am.**

**Right.**

“All right, but Daniel look,” Janet tried to argue, still trying to justify her actions, “we ran every test we have. MRI, CAT scan, X-rays, full blood work up. There is nothing foreign in Teal'c or his symbiote.”

“It's there.  I know it.  I saw it.”  ~Maybe I should go back to Egypt. At least there when people didn't believe me, they told me so, didn't talk around me, say they were my friend, but then have me committed.~

“Daniel, those bodies had only been there a month.  Ma'chello's been
dead for six months.  How could he be responsible?” Sam asked.

“What if he planted those killing devices there six months ago?  Or a
year ago?  Then the Linvris walk into their meeting and ...”

Jack finally got it.  “Like a land mine?”

“Yes!”  **About time, Jack.**

**I'm sorry, Danny.**

Sam walked to the computer as Daniel gave his friends more proof.  If they didn't believe him, maybe a little historic evidence would help.

“World War I mines are still going off in France today, even though
the soldiers that planted them are long since dead.”

“You think that Ma'chello made this thing, right?” Sam said from in front of the computer.

“Right.”

She began searching through the computer database of artifacts from Ma'chello's laboratory that had been sent to Area 51.  It was Jack who spotted a tablet and page turning device just like the one they'd found on PY3-948.

“I picked that up in the Linvris chamber,” Daniel stated.  Then they noticed the abundance of page turning devices and wondered why there were so many of them.

“Could be our land mine,” Sam stated.

====

Pulling in a favor from a friend at Area 51, Hammond ordered the devices put on a transport immediately.  Brought to the SGC under guard, the page turning devices had arrived within hours and were quickly taken to an observation room.

Jack, Sam and Janet were inside the lab room while Daniel watched from the observation deck.

As they investigated, Janet and Sam discovered that each page turning device had ten of the blue Goa'uld killing bugs that looked almost like jelly.  Then, before Sam and Janet could examine the bugs more closely, they slithered through their gloves.  When Jack reached for a hose, the remaining three bugs entered him.

Daniel called for the General as soon as he realized what was happening.  “General Hammond, B Haz Mat Observation right away!”

When it was over, three of the bugs had gone into Jack, four into Sam, and the remaining three into Janet.

“We have a breach,” Daniel announced when the General entered the area.

The General called Doctor Warner and the containment team to the observation area.

“There has to be an answer in this tablet,” Daniel stated.

Jack asked, “Is there anything we can do from in here?”

“Nothing, Colonel,” Janet answered.  “All the specimens are inside us. Since we're infected by multiple organisms, we can expect our symptoms to be rapidly acute.”

Jack felt completely frustrated.  “I'd like to apologize in advance for anything I may say or do that could be construed as offensive as I slowly go NUTS!”  ~Then again, maybe it's what I deserve.  Maybe this is my penance for letting Daniel suffer.~

**No, Jack.  I'll think of something.**

**Danny, I love you.  Just remember that, okay?**  ~Geez, sometimes I think way too loud.~

**It'll be okay.**

~And that's why you haven't said you love me.  I deserve this.  I deserve to go insane.~

Sam didn't seem to be affected by the bugs at first, but Hammond refused to allow anyone else to go inside to examine Sam, fearing the risk to the base.  Daniel volunteered to go inside and help, thinking he might be immune, but Hammond also refused to let him take that risk.

Suddenly, Sam cried out, pain jarring her.  However, instead of falling under the influence of the bugs, the organisms dropped from her ear onto the floor and died.

She told Daniel that she had heard Ma'chello just before the bugs fell out.  “He said my Goa'uld captor is dead, but I don't have a Goa'uld.”

“You did,” Daniel reminded her.

“That has to be it.  Janet said that when a Goa'uld dies, it dissolves into a host and leaves a unique protein marker.”

“So these Goa'uld killing inventions die because they detect the protein marker?  Well, that doesn't make any sense.  Why isn't Jack immune?  He should have some sort of protein marker left over from Hathor's Goa'uld.”

“No.  No.  That Goa'uld left Colonel O'Neill's body and died before it had a chance to take over.”  Sam turned to Janet.  “Janet, can you hear me? Can we extract my blood and inject it into everyone that's infected?”

It was Doctor Warner who answered.  “No, your blood types don't match. You have to separate the protein from the rest of the blood.”

As they struggled to find a solution, Janet came up with a potential answer, but struggled to get it out as the effects of the jelly-like bugs took hold of her system.  “Put as much blood as possible in centrifuge.”

Sam rolled up her sleeve and extracted blood.

Janet instructed, “Put the test tube in the centrifuge.”

~Goa'uld.  Carter's eyes glowed.  Geez, Danny, is that what you saw?  And no one believed you, not even me.  So sorry, Danny.  I'm not even alone.  You were locked up to suffer, not but white foam to look at it, not that you could see with your glasses gone.~

After the centrifuge did its job, Janet explained that all Sam needed to do was to separate the red blood cells.

Doctor Warner finally understood.   “Don't even try to separate the proteins, just separate the rejectable parts, and give them all the rest.”

“What?”  Daniel asked, confused with what he was hearing.

The doctor answered, “The part that makes blood types incompatible is just the red blood cells and a few things in the plasma.  If we can get those out, the rest should be safe.”

Sam followed Warner's directions and eventually had the shots ready to go.  She injected Janet and approached her CO.

~Stay away from me, Carter.  You're a friggin' Goa'uld.  No, that's not right.  I'm losing my mind, but it's ... it's those bugs.  Danny, we should have believed you.~

Sam injected Jack with the blood.  Soon, both Jack and Janet heard Ma'chello's voice, and the bugs fell out of their bodies onto the floor, dying immediately.

~Holy Hannah, that was annoying.  Oh, Danny.  I'm so sorry.~

Daniel was tearful seeing the organisms leaving Jack.  ~Thank goodness.  Gawd, I was so scared.~  He smiled when Jack picked up one of the jelly-like objects and seemed to play with it, finally tossing it back onto the floor.  ~That's my Jack.  My Jack.  He's okay.~

~Friggin' bug.  You caused a lot of pain.  Get out of my way.~  Jack stood up and finally made eye contact with his lover.

**I'm so sorry, Angel.**

**It's okay.**

**What a living nightmare for you.  Geez.**

**Jack, are you really okay?**

**I'm fine.  I love you.**

Daniel's attention was pulled to the General, the young man unable to respond to Jack as a result.

~That's okay.  I don't blame you.~  Jack wouldn't blame Daniel if his lover now hated him.   The fact that Daniel hadn't responded to any of his endearments of love wasn't surprising to him at all.  ~I let you down.~

“Sir, they want us in the infirmary,” Sam called to her CO.

He looked up and saw Daniel was engaged in conversation with the General, so silently, he followed his 2IC out of the lab.

Soon thereafter, Janet injected into Teal'c's IV the same solution that had saved her and the others, hoping it would work on the Jaffa as well.  They waited anxiously, and eventually, Teal'c, too, said, “Ma'chello,” as the bug exited his body.

“Glad to have you back, Teal'c,” Janet said with a smile before reporting to General Hammond who immediately returned to the infirmary to check things out for himself.

“It's been a tough week.”  He looked at his flagship team.  They had gone through a lot, and showed the signs.  More than any other mission, this one had seemed to take a huge toll on the four members of SG-1.  While he knew that technically he should have them write up their reports now, he also knew compiling the reports would take them hours.  Seeing their faces, he wasn't sure they were ready to do that.  He made a decision.

“I think we could all use a bit of time and distance from the events of the last few days.  SG-1, I want you all to take the next week off.  Doctor Jackson, if you need anything, I trust Doctor Fraiser can be of assistance.  We'll have a full debriefing with your reports when you return.  Colonel, I do need a bit of your time to discuss that ... issue.  Meet me in my office in fifteen.”

“Yes, Sir,” Jack spoke a bit quietly as the General left the area.

“Daniel, I'd like to run ...”

“No.”

“Look ...”

“No, Doctor Fraiser.  Excuse me.”  Daniel brushed by Jack, leaving the room.

“Colonel, he's going to suffer withdrawal from the drugs if he doesn't let us ease him off the medications.”

“It's his choice.”

“But ...”

Jack turned and left the infirmary.

Janet sighed.  Sam nervously sat down on the bed.  “Aren't you going to walk out, too?”

“Janet, I'm not sure of everything that happened, and I'm not a medical doctor so I can't speak as to why you made the decisions that you did, but you need to know that SG-1 is family.  Loyalty comes high, and while you may not have the designation, we've always considered you an extended member of our team.”

“And now?”

“It's been dented.  I can't believe you didn't keep Daniel here, run more tests.  With all we've encountered, was it so hard to believe that maybe there could have been something else wrong?  Daniel's never shown any sign of mental illness, but in less than two days, you shipped him off.”

“I'm not a psychiatrist, Sam.  I can only do so much.”

“I understand that, and so do the Colonel and Daniel, but I'm sorry, Janet.  I think you were too quick in your opinion, and ... I think you let Doctor MacKenzie pressure you.”

“He's the expert, Sam.”

“Okay.  Excuse me.”  Sam left.  Janet wasn't ready to listen or consider the possibility that she was wrong, so for now, Sam felt it was best to leave.

====

Meanwhile, Daniel had gone to his office.  He had a few projects he wanted to make sure were proceeding on schedule before going home. Jack hadn't wanted to separate, but he had his own tasks to handle before leaving the Mountain.

As Daniel sat at his desk going through his messages, Sam walked in, shutting the door behind her.  She feigned a few questions about how Daniel was doing, but he knew that wasn't the reason for her visit.

“Sam, is something wrong?”

Sam took a breath as she anxiously fidgeted.  She paced a bit as if trying to talk herself into what she was about to do, and then she stood still.  “Daniel, I think you need to know what the Colonel was about to do before we got the call from the hospital.”

The archaeologist became nervous because Sam seemed nervous to the point that she was almost shaking as she fidgeted while she stood, finally placing her hands in her pockets to try and calm herself down.

“I didn't know whether or not to try and talk him out of it, Daniel. I didn't know what you'd want me to do, or what you'd want the Colonel to do.”  Sam paused, taking a deep breath.  “He was going to tell the General about the two of you; I mean ... you know what I mean.”

Daniel hadn't expected that.  He wasn't sure how to react.  He was virtually motionless as Sam continued her comments.

“They had told us that there wasn't much hope for you, but Colonel O'Neill said he just couldn't let you stay there in that padded room all alone.  He was going to take you out of the hospital whether MacKenzie liked it or not and do whatever he had to in order to take care of you at home, no matter what the cost.”

Daniel suddenly felt a shiver and then he began to shake slightly, but he wasn't sure if that was because of the diminishing drugs in his system and the withdrawal he was certainly going to have to overcome, or Sam's revelation.

“Why, Sam?  Why would he do that?”

“Oh, Daniel, don't you know why?  He loves you.  He told me that the only reason he was still active in the Air Force was because of you and what SG-1 can accomplish to protect Earth, what we can learn to help other worlds who are worse off than we are in fighting the Goa'uld.  He quoted you, Daniel.”

Daniel looked over at Sam in surprise.  “Me?”

“Remember the Depository of the Ancients when Colonel O'Neill had their knowledge downloaded into his brain?  You were the only one who could communicate with him, and when General Hammond wanted you to go on a mission, you refused.  You told him, 'I can't leave him like this, and I won't'.  That's what the Colonel said to me, Daniel, and it's what he said he was going to tell General Hammond.

“I tried to tell him to wait, that we'd figure out what was wrong, to give it time, but he wouldn't listen.  He couldn't shake the image of you in that place, and how they wouldn't even let you have your glasses.  It was haunting him, Daniel.

“His mind was made up.  We were going to the infirmary to check on Teal'c, and then Colonel O'Neill said he was going to talk to the General and tell him everything, that he loved you, and that no one was going to keep you locked up and drugged.  He had already typed up his letter of resignation; I think it's still in his pocket.  We sat with Teal'c awhile, then McKenzie called, and ... well, you know what happened next.”

Sam needed to breathe.  She felt like she'd just given a lecture.  Her throat was dry, and she was even sweating a little.  This whole love affair between her friends was something she wasn't comfortable talking about.  Helping them as a decoy was easy, but talking about it in such intimate terms disturbed her a little.

Daniel finally stood and gave her a glass of water.  “Thanks for telling me, Sam.”

“I wasn't sure if I should, but ...”

“You did the right thing.  I need to return a few phone calls before going home, so ...”

“Yeah, you have a good downtime.  Oh, Daniel, that sounds horrible, like we're going on some vacation or something.  I'm sorry.”

“It's okay, Sam.  I know what you meant.”

“You need to see Janet about the drugs.”

Daniel turned around and walked away from his friend.  “Not right now.”

“Daniel, you know what's going to happen.”

“Goodnight, Sam.”

Sam sighed.  “Please call me if you need anything.”

Daniel nodded and watched as Sam exited.

====

It was two hours later when Daniel had finished his obligations, answering questions for his staff, and returning phone calls.  He headed back down to the infirmary to check on Teal'c.  The Jaffa was resting quietly.

Daniel stood at the foot of the bed.  He had already changed into his civvies in preparations for leaving the facility.  He stood quietly, watching, thinking, remembering, and basically, just trying to feel himself again, to get a handle on being Doctor Jackson and not the nutty patient in the padded cell.

Then, Daniel blinked, and a small smile formed on his face.  ~That's my heart.  He's here, and he's scared.  I know him.  I know him so well, and right now he's afraid I'm angry with him.  I'm really not sure what I feel right this second, except that I love him.~

Daniel turned.  He spoke with his eyes, words he had spoken twice before during their nightmare.  “Get me out of here, Jack.”

Jack took a breath as he stood, leaning against the doorway.  ~I should have done more.  I should have protected him.~  But he knew Daniel needed his strength, so Jack tucked his guilt away deep inside and motioned for them to leave.

On the drive home, which was mostly silent, Daniel tried to absolve his lover of the guilt he sensed within Jack.

“Jack, I know you're feeling guilty, but please listen to me.  Maybe you could have done something to stop Janet and MacKenzie, but as it is, you're lucky you aren't being courtmartialed for hitting him at the hospital.”

Jack remained silent, lost in his guilt, so Daniel tried again.  “Jack, I'm not saying this is easy, or the next few weeks are going to be easy for either of us.  I'm not even trying to say we won't fight about what happened.  Maybe we will.  But we'll go on because we ... you know.  Jack, we now know more than ever what might have been lost.”

~Come on, Jack.  Our cup is always at least half full.  It's never half empty.~  Daniel wanted Jack to understand, to be on the same page so they could work together to overcome the darkness that a few days had brought into their lives.

At the next stop light, Jack turned and looked at Daniel.  The older man's eyes were full of questions, and love.  Daniel placed his hand atop Jack's and spoke confidently, “We're okay, Jack.”

====

When they got home, Daniel took a shower while Jack prepared some soup for dinner.  He knew his lover wouldn't want anything heavy.

When Daniel came downstairs, Jack saw the scared look in Daniel's eyes.  “The drugs?”

Daniel nodded.   “Hol...hold me.”

Jack immediately went to his shivering lover and held him in his arms, running his hands up and down Daniel's back.

“No ... no more drugs, Jack.  Okay?”

“Okay.  We've been through withdrawal before with the sarcophagus.  It's a bit different now, but the basic concept is the same.  This should be easier, though.  It's not as much your mind that we have cleanse, but your body, and fortunately, you don't have too much to purge from your system.”

“Right.  Tell that to my ... to my, uh, body chemistry because right now it ... gawd.”

“Okay, let's sit on the sofa.”  Jack moved them over to the sofa where they set.  “It's going to be okay.”  ~I'm so sorry.  This is all my fault.  Why did I let them do this?  Why?~  Jack squeezed Daniel to him, every shiver and shake a reminder to Jack that he had let his young lover down.  He wondered if he could ever forgive himself for that.

Over the next couple of days, Daniel's system returned to normal.  They were thankful the withdrawal hadn't been as bad as when Daniel had survived the episode with the sarcophagus, but still, there had been the shakes and tremors, sweats, and moments when Daniel had been lost in the need of wanting pills to stop the pain.  Jack had never let go, never wavered in his declaration of love for Daniel, and that they would survive this.

With his system cleansing itself, Daniel also needed time to himself, just to make sure he knew who and what he was.  He thought he would end up having arguments with his lover over times when he just needed to be alone, but Jack never argued.  He seemed to understand, not only when Daniel needed time alone on the roof deck, but when to return and reassure him that they had survived this trauma.  It was a physical and mental healing that was complicated and had taken several days.

Feeling more himself, Daniel was finally able to focus on Jack.  He repeatedly tried to chase the guilt away, but the older man refused to be comforted.  He feared losing Daniel.  ~It's what I deserve for letting him rot in that place.~

Despite Daniel's best efforts to convince Jack that they really were okay, the older man simply couldn't bring himself to believe it.  No matter what Daniel said, he wouldn't listen.  He had been pouring all his energy into taking care of Daniel, but refusing to let the younger man care for him, even to the tiniest degree.

~You're still upset, Jack.  You're too quiet and withdrawn.  I have to snap you out of this.  It wasn't your fault.~  Daniel walked over to stare at Jack's military plaques that adorned part of the living room wall.  ~I'm going to have to push you, Love.  Please forgive me, but it's been a few days now, and it's time for us to move on, to heal -- together.~

Daniel braced himself for battle and walked into the study where Jack was sitting, pretending to read a newspaper.  Daniel knew he was pretending because he stood and watched Jack for twenty minutes and the paper hadn't moved, nor had Jack's eyes.

“Jack, talk to me.”

“There's nothing to talk about, Daniel.”  Jack finally turned the page of the newspaper.

“Yes, there is.”

“Look.  You're home.  I'm here.  What do you want from me?”

“You.  I want you.”

“I'm right here.”  Jack stood, leaving the newspaper behind.  He walked up to within two feet of Daniel and spread out his arms dramatically and repeated.  “See.  Right here.”

“No, Love, you're not.  Your body is, but your mind, your soul, your heart ... you've hidden them away out of some sense of guilt.  What happened wasn't your fault, Jack.”  Daniel extended his right hand, touching Jack's left cheek with his palm.  “It wasn't your fault,” the young man repeated softly, his eyes filling with moisture.

Days of keeping everything inside finally took its toll.  Jack could easily shut himself off from the world, but not from Daniel.  His shoulders slumped as he took a deep breath.

“Danny, when my brain was loaded down with all that knowledge of the Ancients, you were so amazing.”

“I just did what I had to do.”

“You never left me alone, Danny.  I remember how you wouldn't leave me when Thor's buddies downloaded all that ... whatever ... into my brain. You stood up to Hammond, followed me around everywhere. Why'd I leave you in that place, let MacKenzie pump you full of that junk?  How could I ever leave you alone, especially in a place like that, even for a day, or just for an hour?”

“It's not the same thing, Jack.”

“Yes, it is, Daniel.  You stuck to me like glue.  I ... I ...”

“Jack, it's over, and when it mattered, you were there, and you fought MacKenzie and ...”

Jack turned around, walking several steps, arguing as he went.

“Daniel, for crying out loud, stop defending me.  I let you down. I left you behind, again.”

Daniel wouldn't let his lover put distance between them.  He met Jack's pace as he responded.

“No, Jack, you didn't.  You risked everything for me.  When you came back and heard what I said, you didn't question it, Jack.  You knew I was telling the truth, and you took me out of there, scared MacKenzie out of ten years of his life with that 'touch him and you die' glare you gave him as we walked out of the hospital, and risked your career.”

“My career?  Daniel, I didn't risk anything.  You saved yourself, and Teal'c, and all I did was come along for the ride.”

Daniel stood in silence.  He remembered the conversation he had had with Sam before leaving Cheyenne Mountain.  It had been very revealing, but Daniel had decided to let things settle for awhile before mentioning it.  Actually, he had considered never saying anything, but Jack was in too much pain, and he just couldn't let that continue.

Daniel smiled as he recalled that conversation, the one that had surprised him.  His smile was bright.

~Geez, you're beautiful,~ Jack thought, allowing himself to be distracted from their conversation.

Daniel was on fire with desire for his lover, all the love from the knowledge of how Jack had planned on caring for the archaeologist blazing through him.  Jack would have been giving up so much ... ~Just for me?  Gawd, just for me.~

Jack stared, wondering what he had missed, especially when Daniel broke out into a fit of a laughter.  It was happy and joyful.  ~You're mine, Jack, and I'm not letting you go.  You're mine, mine, mine, and I'm going to keep you forever and always.~

“Danny?” Jack finally asked, a bit confused why Daniel's demeanor had changed so much.

“Jack, we have everything.  We're not going to lose ourselves because of some full-of-himself head shrink or some invention-making, Goa'uld-fighting overachiever.  Neither of us is perfect, Love.  If we dwell on the negative, we'll get lost.  I hate MacKenzie.  I hate that quack with every part of me, and I'm ... gawd, I'm so disappointed in Janet.  I don't trust her anymore.”

Daniel moved to within inches of his soulmate.  “Babe, you want honesty?  Here it is.  I hate MacKenzie, I don't trust Janet for shipping me out to the nut farm so fast, and ... yes, I felt abandoned.  You left me there, and it felt cold.  I was alone and scared.  But if I focus on that, then I lose the good.”

He lifted his hands to Jack's chest, caressing softly, and after a few moments, Daniel moved his hands to Jack's face, cupping it as he spoke.

“Jack, you came back.  You believed me.  You've nursed me through withdrawal again, and made me feel so loved and wanted.  And even though it's so hard for you to do, you've given me space, space I've needed to sort through my feelings and what happened.  Gawd, Jack, you haven't tried to fix everything.  You've let me find myself in my own time again, and I love you so much for that.

“And you know something, when I finally found me again, really found me ...” Daniel stumbled a minute over his words.  “Jack, I admit it just happened.  Incredible as it seems, just this moment, I'm whole again, and it's because when I opened my eyes and remembered the best of who I am, I saw you, just you, only you.”

Daniel leaned forward and kissed the man of his dreams.  He had rediscovered that his life was in front of him, in the form of his soulmate, the person he trusted more than any other being in the universe, the one who made him feel safe and treasured, the man still silently torturing himself for not being all knowing and all powerful, for not standing up to the psychiatrist quack or to Janet, for not demanding that they look harder to find the answer.  His life was Jack.

Daniel maneuvered his lover back against the wall, still laughing as he began to taste Jack.

“Jack, Sam told me what you were going to do.  Gawd, I can't tell you how special that makes me feel.  I love you so much.”

The older man hesitated only slightly.  Part of him wanted to kill his 2IC for telling Daniel about his plans, but most of him wanted to give in to the ravishing his lover was engaging in.  Jack's debate didn't last long as his passion began to consume him.

Unable to contain themselves and the sensations of their bodies, Jack and Daniel decided it was time to dwell on the positive, not the negative.  They never even attempted to go upstairs or even use the sofa in the study.  Instead, they slumped to the floor and devoured each other, letting the physical joining of their bodies begin the healing of their souls.

====

“Hey, Jack.”  Daniel walked into the study, grinning, two days later.

“What are you grinning at?” Jack asked from the sofa.

Daniel sat on the sofa next to his lover.  They shared a kiss.  “I have a surprise.  Actually, I have a couple of them.”

“I'm all ears, Love.”

“Well, first,” Daniel kissed the side of Jack's neck as he nuzzled in closer to his love, “I've been cleared for active duty again.”

“Ah, that's good, Danny.  I hated seeing you go through that withdrawal.”

“And, secondly, I talked the General into giving us an additional two weeks off.”

“Us?”

“Hmm-mmm,” Daniel nibbled lightly on Jack's earlobe.  “I told him we all went through the nightmare and needed more than a few days.”

“For two more weeks, you did the pout, didn't you?”

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Daniel answered, chuckling as he spoke.

The truth was that the General also felt guilty about what the archaeologist had been through.  Daniel saw that.  He knew Hammond took his role in what happened seriously, but the young man hadn't an ounce of blame for the Major General who relied heavily on the best advice of his staff.  As Daniel had made his request, he suspected that he could have asked for the entire SGC budget, and he would've been given it.

“Teal'c's going to visit his family, and Sam's going to some science fair or something, and you and I are going to the Caribbean.”

“We are?”

“Bought the tickets this morning.  We leave tonight.  We just need to pack our bags.”

“Two weeks with just you and the beach.  What more could a man ask for?”

“Hot sweaty sex!”

“Daniel!  You said 'sex!'  I'm ... shocked!”

Daniel laughed.  He was strangely shy for someone not so shy in lovemaking, but every now and then, he had fun surprising his lover.

====

“Daniel!  Welcome back!” Sam smiled seeing the tanned young man had entered her lab.  “How was the vacation?”

“It was ... wonderful.  We had a great time, and we needed it, too,” Daniel spoke gleefully, but with a seriousness blended in.

As they talked, Sam noticed Daniel couldn't stop smiling.  It was unusual for the young man.  Normally, he was more reserved, especially at the SGC.  At one point, Jack entered the lab, just to say hello to his 2IC.  He seemed pleased to see his lover there.

Both grinned and laughed as they talked about Sam's doohickeys, the weather, and getting back to exploring planets.  It seemed almost surreal to the newly-promoted Air Force Major.  There was a casualness and a peacefulness present that wasn't normally there, but mostly, both men just kept grinning.   It was almost unnerving.

The smiling Colonel and archaeologist remained like that for a couple of days.  Sam found herself giggling at the two and trying to suppress it.

~They are just so cute sometimes.~

Finally, at the end of the second day, when Daniel had laughed endlessly about a simple slip of the tongue Jack had made before leaving the two alone in Daniel's office, Sam asked, “Holy Hannah, Daniel, what on Earth did you two do on vacation to be so, so, so ...”

Daniel smiled and blushed, and Sam couldn't help but blush as well, knowing the obvious answer.  She was happy for her friends, that they had been able to move on from the recent unpleasantness.  She just had one other concern.

“Daniel, what about Janet?”

The young man sobered quickly.  “Time, Sam.  She ... I mean I just can't, not yet.”

“I'm not trying to defend her, but she did what she thought was best.”

“She was wrong.”

“I know.”

“Does she?”

“I ... can't answer that.”

“Yeah, well, I've got a few more things to do before going home so ... I'll see you tomorrow.”

“Night, Daniel.”

====

“Hey, ready to go?” Jack entered Daniel's office an hour or so later.

“Yeah, ready.”  Not wanting to waste time with security cameras and not wanting their words recorded, Daniel switched modes of communication.  **Jack, are you still angry at Janet?**

**Fuming.  You?**

**Gawd, I shouldn't be.**

**You have a right, Danny.  Has she apologized?**  Jack saw Daniel shake his head.  **Has she even said maybe she was wrong?**  Another sad shake.  **The ball is in her court.  She's our doctor at the SGC, but right now, as far as I'm concerned, that's all she is.**

**Me, too.**

Daniel sighed.  Then, he smiled, a smile that grew.

“What's so funny?”

“I was remembering ...” Daniel moved next to Jack and whispered in his ear.  “I was remembering when you gave me that full body massage on our last night in the Caribbean.  I'm thinking I'd like another one of those.”

Daniel pulled back, his smile now an anticipatory grin.

“When?”

“How long does it take to get ...”

“Let's go.”

The two lovers exited the SGC, smiles on their faces, and returned to Jack's house, where they lost themselves in each other once again.

“Jack,” Daniel spoke during one of the few quiet times that night.

“What, Angel?”

“Do you think we'll ever be able to forgive Janet?”

Jack responded, his word a drawn out sigh, “Probably.  You know the old adage about time healing all those wounds.  But I won't forget.  I can't.”

“I don't want to hate her.”

Daniel was tensing just thinking about the situation, but it felt so unresolved and hopeless at the moment.

~Geez.  Okay.  Get over yourself, O'Neill.  Daniel needs to forgive her in time, so he'll need you to do it, too.  What's more important -- what Daniel needs or your bad feelings?~  Jack smiled.  ~No contest.~

“Okay.  Let's give it some time, and if it doesn't happen on its own, we'll set up a meeting and see if we can,” Jack groaned, “talk through it.”

Daniel looked into Jack's eyes.  He had a big smile on his face.  “Jack, remember when you said you had a calming effect on people?”

“Yes.”

Daniel looked into his lover's eyes.  “You are the most calming influence I know.  You always know the perfect thing to say or do, but right now, I don't want to be calm.”

Daniel smiled seductively, and they began a new round of lovemaking, having survived one more test of the Fates to interfere in their world.  There may still be things to be dealt with from the effects of their encounter with the Linvris and Ma'chello's Goa'uld killing invention, but as always, Jack and Daniel would ride through it together, and end up stronger and better than ever before!

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