Author: Orrymain and special guest co-author, Claudia!
Category: Slash, Angst, H/C -- Daniel Whumping, Action/Adventure, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing: Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Spoilers: Hathor, Need
Written: June 9-14,27-28,30, July 30, 2004 Revised for consistency: January 19, 2007
Summary: After some fun in the moonlight, Daniel is kidnapped from SG-1's camp. Will he survive the torture the inhabitants have in store for him?
Disclaimer: Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't. A gal can dream though!
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.**
3) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my past fic(s), “Guilt's Indiscretion”
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better: QuinGem, Drdjlover, StarShadow!
by Orrymain and Claudia
“Carter, where the blazes is Daniel?”
“I believe he's down by the lake, Sir.”
“The lake?” Jack asked, his eyebrows raising in suspicion.
“Well, there are ruins by the lake, too, Sir.”
“Right. You and Teal'c stay here.”
SG-1 was on Silinaria, a planet occupied by a race called the Silners. As on many planets, the Silners were much like humans. They were also very private, and while they had no objections to the presence of the Tau'ri, they didn't socialize much with them, either, preferring to keep their distance.
Since their privacy was so very important to the inhabitants, it had made learning about them difficult. Thus, when Jack pointed out a simple discrepancy, it not only had Daniel stumped, but caused the young man to be a bit impatient.
“Daniel, this planet is called Silinaria, right?”
“As in S-I-L-I-N...”
“Jack, I know how to spell it. What's your point?”
Daniel had been frustrated at their inability to learn much about the world and its people.
“My point is, if it's Silinaria, why don't we call them the Silinars?”
Daniel sighed. It was a logical assumption that a world called Silinaria would refer to its people as the Silinars, but they didn't. The “I” was missing, and they spelled it differently than one would assume.
“Because ... because they call themselves the Silners, and I really don't know why, Jack, because they won't tell me much of anything.”
“It just doesn't make sense, Daniel. I mean on a world like this ...”
“Jack, I'm a freakin' anthropologist and linguist. I think I know what the logical and rational deductions are, but if the locals won't explain, then I just have to try and figure it out on my own, and so far, that's a little impossible since they haven't yet given us permission to do anything but sit here.”
Jack finally sensed just how deep Daniel's frustration went. He decided to refocus his energy on getting the Silners to grant permission for exploration. Finally, he succeeded on a limited basis. Accompanied by a few of the locals, SG-1 was shown some places of historical interest on Silinaria, though the team was not allowed to wander about the lands alone.
**Jack, look at this place. I need to be able to examine it closer.**
**Nothing I can do, Daniel. It took a day just to convince them to give us the tour.**
Jack looked at Sam who nodded. Covertly, she was conducting some tests. It wouldn't reveal much, but it would be enough to give them an idea of if there was anything on the planet that might be of use to the Tau'ri.
//End of Flashback//
That had been two months ago, and this was SG-1's second visit to the planet. The first contact mission had left Daniel fascinated by the ruins they had been shown; it had also revealed some unusual energy readings that had captured Sam's attention, prompting her to urge General Hammond to continue the negotiations with the leaders of Silinaria.
During the original mission, the Silners had refused to allow any exploration or testing on their world, but based on Sam's recommendations, and Daniel's pleas, SG-9 had gone through the Stargate a few weeks later and had been able to negotiate a preliminary alliance.
As part of the alliance, SG-1 had been allowed to return so that both Sam and Daniel could investigate their finds further, but they were all to keep their distance from the inhabitants as much as possible. The Silners didn't want their routine interfered with by the visitors, nor did they want their privacy invaded.
Jack worked his way to the small lake and began to look around for his lover when his heart skipped a beat.
~Geez, he's beautiful.~
Silinaria had two moons, one big and a smaller one that hovered just beneath the larger. It was nighttime, and as Jack first saw the young man, the moonlight danced off his shaggy brown hair and illuminated the softness of his cheek.
“Jack!” Daniel called out, his voice full of excitement and eagerness. “You should see this. These writings ... the artifacts here ... they're ... they're amazing!”
Daniel smiled as he stood several yards away from the older man. His smile, highlighted by the glow of the moon, filled Jack's heart.
~Aw, Danny. You look so peaceful.~
Jack was glad Daniel was enthralled by his work. The archaeologist had only recovered from his addiction to the sarcophagus a few weeks ago, and the return trip to help Shyla make the adjustment to becoming the leader to her people had been taxing on both of them. They'd had a few missions since then, mostly easy, standard recons that were, for the most part, nothing unique or stressful.
The colonel was well aware that his lover was suspicious of the easy missions, but it hadn't been planned; it had just worked out that way. The one exception, and probably the thing that had prevented Daniel from accusing Jack of putting in the 'fix' on easy missions, had occurred when Jack was in Washington D.C., and Daniel had gone on an unplanned mission with SG-7. It had gone bad, and the archaeologist had to deal with the emotional aftermath of that bloody mission. Fortunately, his physical injuries had amounted to cuts and bruises, and the emotional injuries had been soothed by a trip to their cabin and some deep soul searching.
Jack walked towards his excited lover and couldn't help himself. Despite their “no hanky panky” at work and off-world rule, Jack couldn't resist drawing Daniel into his arms and kissing him passionately. They broke apart, and Daniel grinned at the older man.
“The writings here are incredible, Jack. Look,” he moved back to face the ruins and began pointing to various squiggles and lines, “this one seems to be a derivative of Ancient Egyptian, but these over here are more closely related to ancient Greek. And then here, there is something about Babelinia. I wonder if it's related to Babylon. And look at these artifacts. Some of these drawings seem almost Sumerian.”
Jack listened to the sound of Daniel's voice, taking in the gist of what he was saying, namely that this was all very exciting, and reveling in the excitement and enthusiasm of the younger man. His face was alight with interest and life, and the moonlight played across his features as he walked back and forth pointing out various things that were of special interest and significance.
“Danny,” Jack's voice was husky as he walked over to his lover and drew him in for another kiss, his arms sliding around the archaeologist to rub up and down his back as their tongues danced together under the moonlit sky. A moan escaped them and they broke apart before they got carried away. “Come on, Danny. Time for bed.”
Daniel groaned at the comment, desperately wanting for that to mean what it would mean on Earth and knowing that it didn't. He glared at Jack whose grin also told him that his lover was trying to wind him up. Daniel returned the expression with a mischievous grin of his own, and laughed when the Special Ops colonel started to look anxious.
“Hmmm, it's pretty warm tonight, isn't it?” Daniel said softly.
He walked down to the lake and knelt at the water's edge. He carelessly splashed water on his face, then ran wet hands through his hair. He turned around, drying his hands on his T-shirt which then stuck to his chest. He saw Jack swallow and grinned.
~See something you like, Jack?~
Jack didn't see something he liked; he saw something that he loved, craved, and needed. Daniel's wet hair glistened in the moonlight, the wet T-shirt showed off the chest that was progressively becoming more toned from the training Daniel was doing, and his lover was licking his lips in a very enticing way. With a low growl, Jack stalked over to his prey and drew him in for a long, deep, possessive kiss.
~Game, set, and match,~ the young man thought victoriously.
Daniel grinned as Jack growled, “Tease.”
They made their way back to camp, neither noticing the lone Silner lurking in the trees watching them.
“Time to call it a night, Carter,” Jack ordered as they reached their temporary home.
“Yes, Sir,” Sam said reluctantly, seeing a empathetic smile from Daniel.
“Teal'c, you take the first watch, then you, Carter. I'll follow, and Daniel, you take the rise and shine shift.”
“Gee, thanks, Jack.”
Thirty minutes later, Teal'c was walking the perimeter, and Sam, in spite of her protestations about wanting to continue her work, was already fast asleep. Across the way, Jack and Daniel were wide awake, staring at each other from their sleeping bags that were simply too far apart.
“It's a losing battle, Danny,” Jack finally admitted.
Jack saw the smile on his lover's face and realized, he was smiling too.
“No, we shouldn't. Didn't we make a rule about no fooling around at the SGC and off-world?”
“I don't remember. I'm not sure. I don't know that we ever said it out loud, and if we did, I've forgotten.”
Jack thought, a gleam in his eye as he replied, “So if you don't remember, does that nullify the pact?”
“Do you remember?”
“Not a thing,” Jack answered in one breath.
Daniel unzipped his sleeping bag, raising his eyebrows as he smiled.
Jack looked around the tent, as if making sure no one else was around. Quietly, he stood. Instead of moving towards Daniel, though, he sneaked a quick peek out the tent flap. He saw the light was out in the tent Sam occupied across the way, and Teal'c was visible in the distance as he walked the area.
With a smile, Jack moved his sleeping bag next to Daniel and lay back down.
“We have to be quiet, you know.”
“I love you. You're so beautiful and, geez, Danny, you're the sexiest thing that ever lived.”
“Gawd, Jack,” Daniel said softly, melting with the words. “Hurry,” Daniel said, almost panting. “Kiss me.”
Daniel felt as if he would suffocate if Jack didn't kiss him soon. No one had ever made him feel the way his lover did, and under Jack's touch, Daniel writhed, basking in the radiance of Jack's love for him.
Their kisses grew as their touches intensified, and soon, they were melded together as if one. They were on fire, burning out of control for the other, their passion raging until finally, they exploded from their union. They lay together, holding on tightly, both panting and taking short breaths from their efforts. Though exhausted, the embers were still present, threatening to erupt again, if not extinguished.
With another kiss, Jack settled his head on Daniel's shoulder, his lover's arms securely around him. Both were sweaty and exhausted, but totally satiated.
“I love you, Danny.”
“Love you, too, so much.”
They had worked hard, not only to satisfy each other, but to do it quietly, and that was actually the hardest part, but they succeeded -- they hoped. They'd find out in the morning.
Jack woke up and rolled over, disappointed that he was alone in his sleeping bag. He grinned as he recalled the sleepy disgruntled look on Daniel's face as he staggered out to take his watch. Jack had been tempted to take it for him, but was smart enough to realize that Daniel wouldn't take kindly to being given special treatment. Not to mention the fact that it would have made Sam and Teal'c a little suspicious.
As he woke up a little more, he tensed, his intuition telling him that something was wrong. With all his senses on high alert, it didn't take him long to figure out what was out of kilter -- noise, or the lack thereof. The camp was silent. Usually, they could hear whoever was on watch making the rounds and, especially during Daniel's shifts, there was always a smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting around the camp.
In an instant, Jack was out of the tent, his heart sinking as he took in the empty area and the cold campfire, now nothing but embers.
“DANIEL! CARTER! TEAL'C!”
The only response came from Sam's tent as she stuck her head out to see what her CO was yelling about.
“Are you sure, Colonel? Maybe he was checking the perimeter and ...”
“Got lost? He doesn't do that anymore, Carter.”
Jack's tone was angry and sarcastic as he strode over to look inside Teal'c's tent. It wasn't like the Jaffa not to sense trouble. As he got closer, he saw Teal'c lying unconscious behind the tent. As Sam tended to their wounded teammate, Jack paced around the camp looking for some sign of Daniel. His stomach clenched with fear as he caught sight of Daniel's glasses lying near the tree line on the edge of the camp.
After a moment, not hearing any response from his lover, Jack bent over and picked up the glasses, briefly closing his eyes, giving himself just one second to agonize over his missing soulmate. Then, it was time to focus on finding the young man.
As Sam continued to tend to Teal'c, Jack checked the area. There were footprints leading away from the camp. Soon, he discovered the path he believed the kidnappers had used to ...
~Drag? There are signs of dragging. If they've hurt you, I'll kill 'em.~
The grass was pushed back, dirt shoved aside, leaves cut -- all signs of what direction the kidnappers had taken, and Daniel's state while being taken. Then, Jack heard Teal'c rousing from unconsciousness, and turned to face him.
“How's he doing?”
“I think he's fine, Colonel. Junior seems to be taking care of ...“
“I am fine, CaptainCarter.”
“Teal'c, what happened?” Jack asked as the Jaffa rose to stand on his feet, shaking off Sam's help.
“I heard a disturbance. When I checked on DanielJackson, I was overtaken during the fight. I saw DanielJackson being dragged off in that direction,” Teal'c said, pointing to the area Jack had already deduced was the path used in leaving from the camp.
“You were overtaken? By who?”
“By ...” Teal'c didn't turn away, but Jack got the distinct impression that had the warrior been human, he would have done exactly that.
“By ... come on, Teal'c.”
Teal'c's head rose up to face straight ahead, and his posture shifted, as if he were at attention.
“By an inhabitant of this planet.”
“One of the Silners? What did he look like?”
“He ... was a ... she, O'Neill.”
“She? You were knocked out by a girl?”
Jack fidgeted in surprise, tilting his head slightly as he stared at his friend, waiting for an explanation.
“Excuse me,” Sam said defensively at hearing Jack's tone and words.
“No offense, Carter, but can you overpower Teal'c?”
Sam looked her teammate in the eye, and with all the resolve she could muster, answered, “Yes, Sir, I could.”
“Right,” Jack's tone and facial expression both indicating his disbelief. “Teal'c, what did this ... woman look like?”
“There were four of them, O'Neill.”
~That makes more sense ... I think.~ “Oh, so the four of them overtook you?”
“No?” Jack asked.
With a quick blink, Teal'c answered, “I was overpowered by two of the females, and the other two took DanielJackson.”
If Daniel wasn't missing, Jack would have enjoyed the Jaffa's discomfort. He'd been taken by Teal'c too many times during training not to relish the tables being turned. As it was, though, his fear simply increased. If these women were capable of taking out Teal'c, they were dangerous. They had to find Daniel, and fast.
“Was Daniel hurt?”
“He was rendered unconscious.”
Sam noticed the grim look that settled on Jack's face at that.
~I wouldn't like to be in your shoes, ladies. The colonel doesn't take kindly to anyone messing with his team, but especially not with his best friend. Of course, I'm wondering if ... Don't go there, Samantha. 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'. You SO do NOT want to know if your intuition is right or not.~
She looked at Teal'c who was wearing a similar expression, mirroring the one that she was sure was on her own face. All three of them had a special place in their hearts for the archaeologist and would do whatever was necessary to protect him.
“What do you think they want with him, Teal'c?” Jack was pretty sure he knew. ~Why are all the witches attracted to you, Danny?~
“There are two possibilities, O'Neill. I believe they may have taken DanielJackson so that they might mate with him,” the Jaffa said, a worried look on his face. “Before I lost consciousness, I saw them cut open his T-shirt and pants to admire his physique.”
~They are dead. They are so dead. They are beyond dead.~
Jack pulled himself together, shoving his personal feelings aside and drawing on his military training. First he had to get Daniel back. Then he could wreak revenge on the Silner.
“At least there are no sign of the Goa'uld on this planet,” the colonel stated.
Jack didn't want a repeat of the Hathor incident. He began to outline a plan of attack.
“O'Neill.” The concern in Teal'c's voice stopped Jack cold. “One of the Silner was a Jaffa.”
Stunned, Sam and Jack stared at their teammate.
“That's impossible. The Silner are not Jaffa! They're ... Silner,” Jack argued.
“Nevertheless, she was a Jaffa and had a pouch,” Teal'c repeated.
“Teal'c, why would only one of them be a Jaffa?”
Sam didn't think there was a choice involved in becoming a Jaffa which meant that all four of the women should have had symbiotes.
“I do not know, CaptainCarter.” Teal'c turned his gaze back onto Jack. “However, in light of the attention that they paid to DanielJackson's abdomen, I believe the second possibility is that they intend to turn him into a carrier of the Goa'uld symbiote.”
“Over my dead body,” Jack said out loud, earning surprised looks from his friends. “Look, that's the last thing Daniel would want. It's ... what he fears more than anything, and I will NOT let that happen to him. Do you understand?”
“Sir, maybe ... I mean, it's possible ...”
“He could already be carrying a larval Goa'uld,” Teal'c said for his teammate, hearing her difficulty at completing her sentence.
“No,” Jack said determinedly.
“Or ...” Sam offered a possibility, another grim reminder of Hathor.
“If they've touched him, Carter, they won't live long enough to regret it.” Jack's tone was firm, strong, and very matter-of-fact. “Teal'c, which way did they go?” Jack asked, wanting a verbal confirmation of the physical indicators.
Teal'c's answer matched the trail Jack had found. He wondered if the Silner were simply bad at covering their tracks, or if perhaps they wanted to be followed.
“Okay, Carter, get back to the Stargate and get Hammond to send us some backup. Teal'c and I are going to follow the trail. Check in once you've made contact with the SGC.”
Jack nodded to Teal'c as he spoke, “Are you sure you're okay?”
“I am fit, O'Neill.”
“Then let's move out.”
Putting Daniel's glasses into his pocket, Jack headed northeast with Teal'c at his side.
Seven long, agonizing hours later, Jack and Teal'c were on a hill overlooking a city. It didn't look very advanced, the buildings constructed of stone, the streets narrow and pebbled. The citizens, whether male or female, wore either robes or casual, loose-fitting shirts and pants. As they observed the city, Jack noticed that three-fourths of the inhabitants seemed to be female.
“I wonder what happened to Carter,” Jack verbalized, concerned since he hadn't been able to establish radio contact with her, the radio only responding with static over the airwaves.
“I am confident she is on her way with backup, O'Neill.”
“Yeah, I hope so. Any thoughts on where they might have Daniel?”
The city was a maze of the stone buildings, very bland to the onlooker. There was no indication of royalty or any other trappings that made one building stand out more than another.
“That's not a help, Teal'c.”
“I suggest we start at the beginning.”
“Yeah, that should only take a day or two.” Jack sighed. “Sorry, Teal'c. I'm just worried about Daniel. Let's get a closer look and see if we can learn anything helpful.”
Daniel came to with a groan and found himself looking into the blue eyes of four females. He gave an inward sigh, wondering why it always seemed to be him that alien women picked on.
~Better me than Jack, though. These women are ... built. Jack would be ... Oh, gawd, I'm jealous of ... of ... the idea of Jack being taken hostage by women? Jackson, you're losing it here.~
He looked around, silently cursing. He was in a bedroom at the center of which was a large four-poster bed covered in silk sheets. It looked infinitely more comfortable than the hard floor he was currently lying on.
~Can this get any more cliche?~ he wondered as he eyed the women suspiciously.
“Hello?” He looked hopefully for a response, but all he received were blank stares. “My name is Daniel. I, ah, would really like to return to my friends now.”
He reached for his radio, not really surprised to find it was missing.
~That would be too easy.~
He began to stand up, but was firmly pushed back down by two of the females.
“Look, I don't know what you want from me ... ah!” One of the women began stroking his groin. He pushed her hand away, glaring as he harshly stated, “Don't do that.”
Unfortunately, they didn't look at all perturbed by his reaction, and he began to panic when the 'groin stroker' began to undress.
“Ah, I'll just give you some privacy. You really don't want me here,” Daniel babbled as he tried once again to get up.
They allowed him to stand this time, but his relief turned to dread when they began pulling him towards the bed. Terrified of having to repeat his Hathor experience, he began to struggle in earnest. Unfortunately, the woman pulling him had an iron grip. He was surprised at her strength, working harder to free himself. His heart began to beat faster, his blood pressure rising along with his desperation to get free and avoid whatever they had planned.
“Please, don't do this! No!”
Daniel pulled as hard as he could, but the only response was a tightening of the hand around his wrist. Nonetheless, he continued to fight and sank to the floor, making himself a dead weight. For a moment, he thought his ploy had worked, but then the woman gripping his wrist nodded to one of her companions, and the next thing Daniel felt was an all-consuming pain. He felt on fire, as if he had been plunged into boiling water, his skin raging from the heat.
Daniel couldn't hold back his screams as the pain increased. Every inch of him seethed from a fire he couldn't see, and there was no escape. Like a pig roasting in a luau pit, Daniel was burning, slowly. After several minutes, he sank into unconsciousness.
Not long thereafter, the feel of hands groping him brought him back to wakefulness. Daniel was now spread-eagle, tied to the bed, and he quickly became aware that he was naked. The pain was gone, and he couldn't feel the effects of any burns on his body. He hoped that meant he had somehow survived unscathed.
~What was that stuff? The pain was ... don't think about it, Daniel.~
He noticed the females had used what looked like silk scarves to tie him down. His thoughts of trying to stretch the material vanished when he tugged experimentally on one and felt it constrict.
~They are definitely not silk.~
The young man heard raised voices and turned his head to see what seemed to be an argument amongst the four women. He was horrified to see that they were all naked and that one of them seemed to be a Jaffa.
~That explains the iron grip.~
The Jaffa suddenly yelled, “NUX!”
She glanced over at Daniel, and he wasn't quite fast enough to close his eyes and feign unconsciousness. She grinned, an expression that sent a chill down Daniel's spine, and strode over. She picked up a cup that was sitting beside the bed and offered it to Daniel. He shook his head and looked away. She took hold of his chin and brought the cup to his lips. He refused to open his mouth. The next thing he knew, she had pinched his nose, and when at last he was forced to take a breath, she poured the contents of the cup down Daniel's throat.
The concoction felt like gravel going down his throat. It was thick, like a coarse gel, and he wanted to throw up ... but then his mind went blank.
“There is nothing here, O'Neill,” Teal'c said after surveying the last room of a large, vacant building.
“This is going to take all night.”
“Perhaps we should split up.”
“Yeah, okay. I'll check the north side, you take the south. If the radios don't work, meet back here for a check in one hour.”
Teal'c acknowledged the order and went on his way.
Jack moved into position to continue his recon. He paused, deciding to try his silent communication with his lover. He had done so earlier, but received no response.
**Danny? Can you hear me?**
**Danny, where are you?**
**I don't know, but they ... gawd, Jack. It's like ... like ... Hathor.**
Jack closed his eyes for a moment, remembering the nightmare when Daniel had been raped by the Goa'uld.
**Daniel, describe where you are.**
**Describe it? I'm tied to a bed -- NAKED! No, she wants me to drink something ... NO, I WON'T!**
**Daniel?** Jack moved forward, his eyes scanning urgently for his lover. **Daniel? TALK TO ME, BLAST IT!**
There was no response, and Jack's anxiousness grew. Still, he was grateful for the contact. This link the two shared was growing in strength. He suspected Daniel must be close, and yet, he had found no sign of him.
~Touch him and you are so dead,~ he silently warned Daniel's captors.
Daniel felt like he was floating. He knew he wasn't; he could still feel the ties around his wrists and ankles.
~I think I'm high, Jack. Where are you? Wonder what it feels like to have a snake in your belly? Would it feel like a baby? Can you feel it moving around in there? Have to ask, Teal'c.~
Daniel could feel his mind slowing down. It was harder to process the information he was hearing and seeing. His mind was weighted down with everything. It felt like his brain was full of sludge.
**Save me, Jack. Be my fix-it man. You always fix things.**
There was no response, and Daniel knew it should worry him, but whatever that stuff was that had been forced down his throat seemed to be a little like a tranquilizer. The pain in his throat had ebbed, and he was now pleasantly mellow. Even the sight of a naked woman coming towards him didn't bother him. She wasn't one of the four women that had brought him here, and he wondered if that was a good sign or a bad sign.
“Shhh,” she gestured to him.
He looked around in confusion. The room was empty apart from the two of them, and he hadn't been making any noise. He frowned.
“Wshn't...” That didn't come out right. “Wsshhht.”
He giggled. He just couldn't talk properly. His eyes widened as she sliced through the restraints holding him to the bed.
“Come. They are getting the larval Goa'uld for you.”
To his surprise, she spoke in Latin. There were questions forming in his mind, but as soon as they crystallized, they seemed to slip away.
She dragged him off the bed and helped him stand as he swayed back and forth, trying to regain a sense of balance. The upright position did, however, clear his head giving him a chance to think more clearly.
“I need ... friends ...”
“I know where they are. I will take you to them.”
She began to guide Daniel out the door. They were in a larger room now and over in the far corner, Daniel could see a tapestry had been pushed aside to reveal a hidden passageway. He was too busy looking around to watch where he was going and crashed into a table laden with glass jars. They hit the floor with a loud crash. Daniel winced from the disaster while the woman cursed, looking up in alarm at the sound of footsteps running towards them.
Daniel became more alert as adrenaline began pumping through his system. He was still feeling uncoordinated and knew that he was slowing her down. He pushed her towards the passageway, whispering, “Go, please, find my friends. They can help.”
She looked at him with tears in her eyes.
“They will puktahn you, and then place the Goa'uld within you.”
Daniel wasn't sure what puktahn meant, but he could guess, and he didn't want to know what they would do to her if they caught her trying to help him. He gave her a shove towards the passageway.
“Hurry,” he pleaded.
Just as the tapestry swung back into place, the door opened, and the Jaffa came into the room, followed by the other three women he had met before.
“Hi. Seen the exit?” he asked cheerily. “Or maybe a concession stand? I'd like some popcorn for the main feature.”
The Jaffa glared at him and snapped an order at the other women. They seized him and dragged him, not back to the bedroom, but out the door across the hall to another room. Daniel felt his throat constrict when he saw the room. It looked like a medieval torture chamber, full of painful devices.
The walls of the room were covered with hooks, knives, stakes, mallets, spears, a variety of sharp iron implements, and various iron headpieces. He recognized the collection of stones in a corner that were undoubtedly used for pressing people, and in the corner was a machine for stretching people, as well as a torture wheel. In another corner, he could see a chair with a pointed seat.
~Oh, I don't want to sit there.~
In the center of the room was a triangle that would allow a victim's hands to be tied above their head and their feet kept apart.
“You know, the walls really should be stone; it would give the place a bit more atmosphere,” Daniel said flippantly.
The women ignored his remark and began lashing him to the triangle.
~Where the heck is he? We're running out of buildings.~
Jack's frustration was growing. He and Teal'c had met up twice, neither reporting anything unusual nor any sign of the missing archaeologist. They'd managed to avoid the inhabitants, but at the same time, their actions and activities all seemed normal to the Air Force colonel.
He had thought he had heard Daniel earlier, but it was fleeting, and he was busy avoiding some of the inhabitants at the time and couldn't hone in on the telepathic-like communication. When he had tried to make contact a few minutes later, there was nothing. It was time to try again.
Hunching down in the cubbyhole between two structures, Jack concentrated again on his lover.
**Jack, woman. Says she knows where you are. Trust her. Only hope.**
**Danny, what's happening?**
**They ... hurry, Jack. Please, hur...**
The communication ended mid-word. Again, Jack felt like his lover had to be nearby. Their silent bond didn't work when they were too far apart. Yet, he didn't understand how that could be. He wasn't anywhere close to where he had been the last time Daniel had made contact ... or was he?
Suddenly, Jack's gut instincts told him things weren't what they seemed. He began a closer study of his surroundings.
~What the heck?~
He realized now that the buildings were all the same, not just the same bland color, but symmetrical and identical, and ...
~It's a maze. I'm not at the other end of town. I'm just on the other side of the same building. I don't understand this. I know I walked down at least ten streets ... didn't I?~
“Your friend ... he calls for you,” a naked woman appeared in front of Jack.
She was quite beautiful with blue eyes and long golden hair that blew in the wind, but Jack's mind was on his lover, and he mentally dressed the female.
“Take me to him.”
The woman led Jack to the back of the building. She closed her eyes and nodded her head. Jack heard a soft tone, and to his shock, saw the walls of the building shimmy as if phasing in and out momentarily.
~Maybe this explains the maze.~
“You must be silent. He is in great danger.”
~They really could be more original. Gawd, what am I thinking?~
Still latched to the triangle, Daniel grunted as he felt the cane descend once again on his lacerated back. He'd screamed himself hoarse a long time ago and was now waiting for unconsciousness to take him once again, though he knew they'd just awake him again.
~No fun to beat someone if they're unconscious.~
He leaned his head forward, debating on whether or not death was on the horizon. He stared at the wall, refusing to look at the three women watching him. They seemed content to let the Jaffa do most of the torture, although all three had participated at some point.
~At least they haven't raped me ... or ... no, they haven't. Beating ... just keep beating me. Jack. Need to tell Jack.~
**Danny? Are you all right?**
**I'm fine. Luv you, J'ck.**
After communicating his love, Daniel's head sank forward to embrace blissful darkness. Before he made it, however, he was thrust back to awareness by a bucket of icy cold black liquid being tossed onto his wounded back. At first, the cold soothed the heated cuts, but a few seconds later, he felt like millions of tiny needles were burrowing into his back. He clenched his teeth and suppressed the urge to scream.
Daniel wanted to reassure his partner, but he couldn't focus on anything except the pain flowing through him. Just when he thought it would subside, one of the women stood up and brought over another bucket. This one was full of a thick yellow fluid. She gave him a soulless grin and threw the contents over him. This time he couldn't stop the scream that tore from him. It felt like the fluid was seeping through him, burning a path through his body. He longed to pass out, but didn't. Maybe he'd just lose his mind from all this torture.
Finally, the pain began to ease. He would have been relieved except that he was certain there would be another torture awaiting him. It was the pattern the women had set. About the only good thing so far was that they didn't have a sarcophagus; he really didn't want to be killed and then revived.
~Been there, done that.~
The archaeologist heard the Jaffa moving around behind him and cringed.
Daniel knew he should be trying to learn the language of these people, even though he didn't think they'd be open to communication. Still, he couldn't help himself and tried to study the unique language.
~Wonder where that girl learned Latin. Hope she's okay. Hope she made it to Jack. Please help me, Jack. I don't think I can take much more of this.~
His thoughts were cut off as he saw the three women opposite him stand and drag over the long box they had been sitting on. Daniel didn't know whether to be terrified that it looked like a coffin or relieved that it wasn't a sarcophagus. Then he saw the scarab insignias all over the lid and almost threw up. There were times he really wished he wasn't an archaeologist, and this was one of them.
~Although thanks to Hollywood and all those movies Jack makes me watch, I'd have a fair idea of what it meant anyway.~
The writing on the lid of the coffin was similar enough to Ancient Egyptian for him to read it.
~Would have to be curses.~
If he hadn't known what was coming, he would have appreciated the intricate painting on the coffin.
He wasn't surprised when he was released from his restraints. He tried to struggle, but received yet another stroke of the cane, the pain effectively dropping his legs out from under him. Before he regained his senses, the women enclosed him inside the coffin.
~Wish I was at least wrapped up like a mummy. Gawd, Jack, please help me.~
The darkness surrounded the young man. He didn't like the dark, but then again, the dark wouldn't be so bad if it was the worst of his problems.
~Please let this be all. Please let this be all.~
Daniel's thoughts echoed over and over in his mind, even though he was sure there was more to come, and he was proven right when a small section of the wooden lid above his face was removed. He turned his face away and wished there was room to bring his arms up to cover his ears. He closed his eyes, hoping for unconsciousness, as he heard and felt the scarab beetles being poured into the coffin.
“Where is he?” Jack asked anxiously.
“He was here. They must have moved him, but I am not sure if they let him remain in this house.”
“Oh, he's here.”
“How do you know?” the naked woman asked Jack.
“I ... just know. Let's keep looking.”
“You do not understand. If they catch you, they will kill you.”
“We need to find Daniel. That's all that matters.”
“Teal'c,” Sam called out as she spied the Jaffa in an alley.
“CaptainCarter, ColonelMakepeace,” Teal'c acknowledged.
“We have SG-2 and SG-3 surrounding the town. Where's Colonel O'Neill?” Makepeace asked.
“I do not know. We were to rendezvous thirty minutes ago, but he has not arrived.”
“Radio?” Sam asked.
“Our radios have been ineffective.”
“Yeah, ours, too,” the blonde responded. “Teal'c, have you noticed anything strange about this place?”
“We thought we saw it ... flicker a while ago, while we were still approaching.”
“I did not notice, but it seems we have searched a long time and yet have made little progress. The town is bigger than it appears.”
“No, Teal'c, you're wrong,” Makepeace said. “This town could easily be searched in less than thirty minutes.”
“I do not understand, ColonelMakepeace. The avenues and buildings stretch out for miles.”
“Teal'c, they don't, but I think they want us to think that,” Sam explained.
“Then where is O'Neill?”
The question went unanswered as the three stared at their surroundings.
**Daniel! Danny, please answer me!**
Jack was desperate for some sign that his lover was still alive.
~He is alive. I'd feel it if he wasn't. I know you're here, Danny. Why can't you answer me? What have they done to you?~
He looked around the bedroom the girl had brought him to. She gestured towards an empty cup which he picked up and smelled, instantly noticing the tar-like odor.
“What is it?”
“I do not know. They gave it to him -- as punishment.”
Jack saw the color drain from her face, but said nothing as she continued.
“I thought they would puktahn him. What if they ... teshgrak him instead? He will not survive.”
“What does 'puktahn' mean? What does 'teshgrak' mean? And he will survive!” Jack was getting frustrated and just wanted his lover back. ~Why is it always you, Danny?~
The girl ignored Jack's questions, a frightened look on her face.
“If they are teshgraky, they will be ...”
She began moving off, Jack following on her heels. She led him to a door and listened. Tears began rolling down her cheeks. Jack put his ear to the door and could hear four voices talking and laughing.
“What is it?” he hissed.
She shook her head and beckoned him to follow her. She led him back to the bedroom and looked up at him sadly.
“We are too late.”
“No.” Jack refused to accept that. “Daniel is still alive.”
He was relieved when she nodded, but her next words struck fear into his very soul.
“He will be insane.”
Jack lost the fragile hold he had on his temper and grabbed her arms, his voice remaining low so as to not attract attention, but demanding and forceful, “What have they done to him? Where is he?”
“He is in that room.”
Jack gave her a death glare.
“And we just left him there!”
He turned to go back, but she caught his arm.
“Wait! We cannot enter. There are shields protecting that room. There is no way to get in. They will simply kill you.” Her eyes narrowed, “Or they will use you to increase his pain.”
That stopped Jack. He knew there was truth in those words.
“I'm not leaving without him.”
“You will need more help.”
Reluctantly, Jack nodded as he said, “I have more friends.” ~And hopefully Carter has brought the calvary.~
“Let us go find your friends.”
“Yeah, well ... don't you have something to wear?”
The female went to a cabinet and pulled out a lavender robe, much like the robes worn on Abydos.
“Does this make you more comfortable?”
“Comfortable? No. Yes. I mean ... let's go.”
Outside the building, Jack surveyed the area. He had a private moment of rejoicing when he spotted Sam, Teal'c, and Makepeace in an alley between two other buildings across the way. Timing their movements, Jack and the female crossed the road.
“Carter, I see you brought the troops.”
“Makepeace,” Jack acknowledged.
“Sir, where's Daniel?”
“He's being held in that ...” Jack stopped as he turned to look across the road. It looked different now, bigger. “I don't understand this town.”
“It ... flickers.”
“That is the kukak.”
“It is a means of protection, an ... illusion. Only Silners can observe the true appearance.”
“Swell,” Jack said a bit agitated.
Jack looked at the female, his eyes demanding she explain.
“Your friend is there,” she pointed to the house that the SGC personnel couldn't see as clearly as she could, “but he is ... he will go insane. I fear it is already too late.”
“Stop saying that.”
“Makepeace, where's your team?”
“They are surrounding the town. SG-2 is guarding the Stargate in case of problems there.”
“Okay, so what do we do?” Jack asked the female.
“The room where he is being kept is surrounded by sensors. I do not see how you can free him.”
“I need more information.”
“Okay ... say, what is your name anyway?”
“I am Bolo.”
“Is there any way to help us focus on these buildings so they don't shimmer or flicker or ku-whatever-it-is that you said?”
“There are two aids. If you are next to a structure, you will continue to see it as it truly is. The only other way is to focus on the ryka. It will never change.”
The female searched her mind for the right word. Finally, she pointed to the roofs.
“Yes, the ... line from one building to the next. They are ... exact ... even. If you focus on the ryka, you should be able to not lose your way.”
“Teal'c, focus on the ... ryka. Daniel's in that building straight across. Watch it.”
Teal'c moved to get into a better position to observe the structure.
“Okay, Bolo, tell Carter here whatever you can about that room. Makepeace, let's get your team together.”
Daniel bit down on his lower lip to stop himself from screaming. He refused to give these women the satisfaction of crying out loud, even thought it was getting harder to stifle his sobs. His hands were bleeding from his attempts to lift the lid of the coffin, and now he could feel the beetles feeding on his blood. His skin was crawling. It felt like he was being eaten alive, quarter-inch by quarter-inch.
The worst sensation was when one beetle tried to burrow into his ear. He couldn't get his hands up to brush it away, and when he turned his head to the side to try and dislodge it, it simply hung on.
~Jack -- think of Jack. You're up at the cabin. The weather's warm, and he's fishing in the lake with no fish.~
As he lay there, Daniel crept deeper into his mind, imagining making love with his soulmate, snuggling in bed, going for long walks in the Minnesota wilderness, swimming naked in the fishless lake, making love in the water.
Suddenly, he was hauled out of his imaginary retreat by the sensation of the coffin being lifted. The movement dislodged the beetles and sent them scurrying over him.
~Please let it be over. Let me out of here. It's too much.~
Any hopes that he had of being released were dashed when he felt the coffin being turned over and placed back on the ground. Now there were beetles wriggling around underneath him and others were beginning to swarm over his bleeding back.
~I'm going to die.~
He closed his eyes, trying to find his way back to his Minnesota paradise, but he couldn't do it. All he could feel was the pain in his back, and the beetles scampering over him, feeding from him.
**JAAAAAACK!** he screamed internally, praying that Jack would get him out of here ... or that he'd die.
The scream echoed inside Jack's head, and he very nearly fell to his knees. The pain in his soulmate's mind was agonizing.
**DANNY? DANNY!** There was no response from his lover. ~Please be okay, Danny. Please.~
Jack realized Sam had been calling him repeatedly. He surveyed the anxious faces in front of him.
His strained voiced assured them, “I'm okay. We have to get to Daniel. Now.”
Without waiting to see if his team was following, Jack set off for the building where his lover was being held. He was getting Daniel out of there now, and if he had to kill every last Silner to do it, so be it.
“Colonel, wait. If we just barge in there, the alarms will go off.”
“Carter, you don't understand. We have to go -- NOW or ...” Jack stopped his words, shaking his head.
~Or what, Sir? What happened to you a minute ago? I saw terror on your face, and that's something I never thought I'd see. It's Daniel. Somehow you know something.~
“We're going in now,” Jack insisted. “Makepeace, you and your team cover our six. Kill anyone who tries to stop us. Teal'c, follow Bolo's lead. Move out.”
Bolo led the way inside the building towards the room where Daniel was held in the coffin. As they walked the halls, she again heard the laughter from the other three females. They were in a smaller room, two doors down from Daniel. She motioned for Teal'c and the others to follow.
Arriving at the room, she opened the door and pointed out the coffin, but she placed her hand in front of Teal'c to block his forward motion.
“You will set off the alarms.”
“Wait,” Sam warned as she moved forward. Talking quietly, she informed Jack that it was a series of laser lights. Using a mirror, Sam realigned the lasers to deflect the lights away from their path. “Be careful not to walk outside of these lines.
Bolo again led the way to where the coffin was. She placed her hands over it, closing her eyes.
“He is ... gone.”
“He is not dead.”
“No, but he is gone,” she said, backing away.
“Teal'c, open that thing up,” Jack ordered.
Teal'c moved forward to turn the coffin over, but as he did, shots rang out from the hall.
Makepeace called out, “Jack, we have to go.”
The bullets hit the Silner, but had no affect. They didn't penetrate their skin. Instead, the projectiles imploded, falling as dust to the ground. The women moved forward, the female Jaffa grabbing a member of SG-3 and breaking his neck without even a thought. Sam moved to the hallway, firing round after round to no avail. It looked hopeless.
“Hurry, Teal'c,” Jack urged.
“Sir, we've got to go,” Sam called out, her voice full of desperation.
Finally, Teal'c got the coffin open. Looking inside, Jack's heart stopped.
Daniel was lying inside, his eyes closed, his mouth slightly open, beetles crawling all over him. He was naked, covered in blood. As he watched, a beetle crawled out of Daniel's mouth.
He bent over the coffin and gave Daniel's shoulder a shake. His fingers came away covered in blood. Terrified, Jack felt for a pulse. It was there ... faint, but there.
There was no response. Even though he wanted to be the one to carry his lover, Jack knew that Teal'c would be faster than him, and their first priority had to be to get Daniel out of here and back to the SGC.
“Get him out of there, Teal'c. We'll cover you. Head for the Stargate.”
“Oh, Daniel,” Sam gasped as she saw the condition of her teammate, draped over Teal'c's solid shoulder.
She blinked back her tears and looked at the colonel. There was no sign of compassion in the brown eyes of her CO, and she realized that she was looking at the man who had engaged in some very “dark” covert Special Operations, the missions that Jack O'Neill would never discuss with a soul ... the ones that ripped out Jack's own heart with the things he had to do.
Teal'c picked up Daniel, and was able to escape out the window of the building, while Jack and Sam, along with the remaining members of SG-3, moved forward to intercept the women. Remembering what they had learned about the Goa'uld shields and hoping this was a similar situation, Jack pulled out his knife and threw it at one of the women.
He felt like screaming when the knife hit the defense shields and fell harmlessly onto the floor. The women kept moving towards them and reluctantly, Jack gave the order to retreat. To Jack's surprise, the women didn't follow them out of the building.
~Probably gathering reinforcements. We need to get back to the SGC.~
They caught up with Teal'c just outside the city, and the group made their way to the Stargate. With SG-2 on guard watching out for the Jaffa and Silner, Teal'c placed Daniel on the ground while Sam dialed Earth.
“He is alive, O'Neill,” Teal'c reassured Jack as the colonel bent over the unconscious archeologist.
Jack wished SG-3 wasn't standing so close. He really wanted to caress Daniel's cheek. Instead, he settled for gently ruffling Daniel's hair, wincing as a scarab beetle fell out.
“He's in shock. If we can't reach him, he'll die.” Jack saw the surprised look on Teal'c's face and looked away. “You've heard the saying 'scared to death'? Well, it's not just a saying. People die from shock.”
Jack gazed back at the pale clammy face of his lover, and as soon as the Stargate swooshed into life, he picked up his soulmate and carried him through.
**I will not lose you, Danny. You are not going to give in to this. We beat the sarc addiction, we'll beat this too.**
Jack sat in what was quickly becoming known as his chair in the infirmary. Daniel lay unconscious in the bed that was already considered “Doctor Jackson's bed” because he was so often having to use it.
The older man replayed their mission on the planet. None of it made sense. A Silner who was a Jaffa; phase-shimmering buildings; women with Goa'uld-like shields that weren't shields but part of their bodies, the rituals or whatever they were that Bolo had mentioned, and Bolo herself who had simply disappeared once the fighting had begun.
Leaning forward in his chair, Jack ran his hands through his hair and groaned. There was no logic to be found. The Silner had seemed friendly. What was the motivation? Why Daniel? Why? Why? Why?
Jack had a plethora of “whys”, none of which had any answers, the most important of which was why would they torture Daniel?
Angrily, Jack stood up, violently shoving his chair backwards.
“Colonel O'Neill,” Janet Fraiser chastised as she hurried over after hearing the disturbance.
“It makes no sense. Tell me why, Doc. Tell me why they did this to Daniel.”
Janet sighed. She knew Jack and Daniel were best friends, and that they took it hard when the other was injured. Now, she could see the pain in Jack's eyes, pain full of worry and concern over the archaeologist who lay unconscious.
“I wish I could give you answers, but right now, Daniel needs you to be calm, and I have to insist on that if you want to stay here.”
“Doc, that woman. She said he'd be insane.”
“Look, Colonel, it's too early to know anything. Be patient.”
“Patient, right,” Jack said, turning around to retrieve his chair.
Janet saw Sam standing near her office and walked towards her.
“Any change?” Sam asked, hope in her voice.
“No, he's the same, and I'm afraid the colonel isn't taking this well.”
“Are you surprised? After all, Daniel's only been back on regular duty for a few weeks. Surviving the addiction to the sarcophagus and now this, whatever this turns out to be. Janet, they tortured him. You should have seen that room. It was a like a horror show.”
“Doctor Jackson is strong, Sam. I'm sure he'll come through this.”
“I hope so -- for all our sakes.”
They both looked over and saw Jack talking softly to the archaeologist. Janet gave Sam a small smile.
“It'll help Daniel to have all of you around him when he wakes up. He's going to need you to get through this.”
~Somehow, I think the one he needs most is sitting right beside him.~
“Please, Danny. Come back to me. I need you.”
Jack's voice broke as he pleaded with his lover to return to the land of the living. According to Janet, Daniel was simply slipping away, his mind had shut down, and now his body was following. Jack was terrified he was going to lose Daniel this time.
“No, Daniel. You are not leaving like this. You are not a quitter.”
**DANIEL JACKSON, DON'T YOU DARE LEAVE ME! I LOVE YOU DANNY!**
Jack screamed at his lover, hoping to break through the walls Daniel seemed to be hiding behind. The first sign that it had worked was when Daniel reared back, pulling out his IV, and letting out a piercing scream.
The sound echoed around the infirmary and brought Janet running over.
“Daniel! DANIEL!” Jack shouted.
He tried to grab hold of Daniel, his heart sinking as he gazed into the empty eyes of his soulmate. His voice was drowned out by Daniel's screams. He saw Janet preparing a hypodermic syringe and knew if he couldn't get through to Daniel now he might not get another chance.
Abruptly, the screams stopped. Jack saw Janet start to move forward and shook his head to stop her. He had the feeling that if anyone else came too close too soon Daniel would retreat into himself again.
“Daniel, I'm right here. Look at me.”
Jack took hold of Daniel's hands and rubbed his thumb over them.
“Jack?” Daniel whispered as he stared down at the familiar hands covering his own.
He looked around, in a daze, and then remembered. He began squirming as he begged, “Get them off me. Please, Jack, get them off me. I can feel them. Help me!”
“They're all gone, Daniel. You're okay now. We're back at the SGC.”
Daniel shook his head.
“I can feel them on my back. They're there. Please, Jack, get them off,” he pleaded to his lover for help.
He could feel them moving along his back. It was an agonizing feeling that made his skin crawl and mind scream.
“Daniel,” Janet moved closer to the bed, and Daniel looked pleadingly up at her.
“Get them off me, Janet.”
“Daniel, we got them all off,” Janet tried to reassure her patient.
“NO!” Daniel started trying to scratch his back, sobbing with frustration when Jack grabbed his hand to stop him.
“Okay, Daniel. We'll ... check again.”
Jack looked meaningfully at the diminutive doctor.
“I'll get a magnifier.” Janet walked over the a cupboard. ~Might as well take another look.~
Five minutes later, she was trying to hold on to her lunch. Daniel was right. She could see what looked like tiny microscopic-size beetles burrowing into the lacerations on Daniel's back.
Jack saw the horrified look on Janet's face. It was rare for the SGC's Chief of Medicine to react so strongly to a find, but this time, she did, taking a step back for a moment, and then calling for her staff.
“Come here, Jack,” she instructed, handing him the magnifier so he could see for himself.
Jack walked back over to the other side of the bed as Janet's staff set up to remove the bugs.
“Daniel, it's going to be okay. We see them now.”
Tears streamed down the young man's face. They were tears of pain, of fear, and of relief.
**I'm sorry, Love. I thought we had them all, but it's going to be okay. You'll be fine.**
**Jack, help me.**
**I love you, Danny. Relax. The Doc is going to get them all out.**
Daniel screamed, unable to fight the sensation of the beetles crawling in his body. Jack held his hand and reached out to keep Daniel in a prone position.
“Daniel, we're going to turn you over,” Janet informed him. Looking at Jack, she said, “When we get him in place, you need to keep him from moving. Do you understand?”
Jack nodded, watching as the medical team shifted the archaeologist into position. Then he moved forward to help hold Daniel into place. He saw the tears, but Daniel now held in his screams.
Janet gave the young man a local anesthetic, and then proceeded. Jack watched, almost numb in disbelief, at the number of beetles Janet removed. The procedure took an hour as Janet worked diligently to make sure there were none remaining. Then, she dressed the area and instructed a nurse to give Daniel some pain medication.
Jack half expected Daniel to object, but he didn't. He knew that meant the pain was great, but coming so close to the addiction, it worried him.
“Keep him quiet, Colonel,” Janet ordered as she and her staff backed away.
Daniel looked at Jack, eyes begging for something Jack couldn't give at the moment.
**I promise, Danny. We'll get through this. I love you.**
Daniel blinked, closed his eyes, and fell into a welcome sleep. Jack continued to hold his lover's hand, wishing he could do so much more.
“So you have no idea why the Silner acted as they did?”
“No, Sir,” Sam responded. “Initially, they welcomed us. They didn't want to socialize with us in any way, but they had no objections to our being there or conducting tests ... at least, that's what they said.”
“And you saw nothing to make you suspect their motives?”
“Nothing. The mission began normally. Everything was fine until they took Daniel.”
“GeneralHammond, is it not possible that those responsible were acting on their own?”
“Captain?” the general bounced the question to her.
“I suppose it's possible. We didn't interact with anyone except the woman, Bolo, and she never did answer our questions. Everything happened quickly.”
“How's Doctor Jackson?”
“Janet says that physically he should recover. She's more concerned about the psychological effects of being locked up in that coffin with those beetles.”
“Colonel O'Neill is still with him?” the major general inquired.
“Yes, Sir. You know how close he and Daniel are,” Sam replied.
Hammond nodded and looked at Makepeace as he questioned, “Colonel Makepeace, do you have anything to add?”
“Only that it seemed odd that the women we dealt with were so strong. It wasn't normal, General, not even for the one Jaffa.”
“Colonel, I want you to organize a return mission. SG-2 and SG-4 will accompany your team. I want you to return to the planet and see what you can find out. If you can retrieve the body of Sergeant Kelner, please do.”
“What about a replacement, Sir?”
“I'll get back to you on that, but I want your group ready to return to the planet in two hours. You are not to engage the Silner unless provoked, but we need answers.”
“Thank you. Dismissed.”
“Sir ... Jack, you really need to get some rest,” Janet advised as she looked at the stubborn man sitting by Daniel's bedside.
She had to admit that even to her own ears her plea sounded half hearted.
~The trouble is that I know you need rest, Jack, but I also know that you are the best chance Daniel has of getting through this. I can't imagine what it was like for him. Truth is, I don't want to imagine it either.~
Jack simply shook his head.
“I'm not leaving him, Janet. Not even to sleep on that bed,” Jack said, gesturing to the bed next to Daniel's.
Janet sighed, nodded, and turned to leave. This was one time she wouldn't argue with the strong-willed colonel. He might just be Daniel's only hope.
“Doc? When will he wake up?”
Hearing Jack's question, she looked back and answered, “Any time now.”
She returned to her office and tried to lose herself in lab reports. She couldn't bear thinking about what Daniel had been through. She reviewed the young man's history at the SGC.
~Why is it always Daniel?~
Fifteen minutes later, she felt like screaming. Daniel's lab report was sitting in front of her and she just couldn't believe the results.
Jack looked up as Janet came out of her office and went to speak with one of her nurses. He didn't miss the worried look in their direction, and he felt his stomach clenching.
~There can't be anything else. There just can't be.~
He was about to call her over when Daniel started tossing and turning.
“No ... let me out ... get off me ... please ... JAAAACK!”
The desperation in Daniel's voice felt like a knife had been thrust into Jack's heart.
“Daniel, wake up,” Jack begged as he shook Daniel's shoulders.
The young man's eyes flew open, looking around wildly before settling on Jack. He began to sob, and Jack pulled him into his arms, not caring what anyone thought.
“I can still feel them, Jack. Crawling all over me,” Daniel managed to say through the sobs as he clung to his lover, needing the reassurance of touch.
“It's okay now. They really are all gone.”
Jack gently rubbed Daniel's back, staying away from the bandaged area, wanting to reassure him as much as possible.
“How do we know? Maybe we just can't see them. I can't stand it, Jack. Help me. Please, help me.”
Daniel held onto Jack even more tightly, squeezing so hard that Jack had to work hard to breathe. This act was so uncharacteristic of the young man that it frightened Jack. The Daniel Jackson everyone knew was tough, strong, rarely unsettled by the nightmares of his life -- at least not while he was at the SGC. He let go at home, in the privacy of their bedroom or on the roof deck, and only with Jack, but the tears, the clinging, the desperation he exhibited now was just not like him.
“I will, Danny,” Jack whispered as he continued to hold his lover securely.
Daniel meant more to Jack than anyone or anything, including his career. Everyone knew they were best friends, and Jack had held Daniel much like this when he suffered through withdrawal from the sarcophagus. No one had made anything of it then, and Jack hoped they didn't now either ... but if they did, the older man really didn't care.
Daniel's needs came first, and the one thing Jack knew for sure -- probably the only thing he knew for sure -- was that his soulmate needed to be touched, to be held, to know Jack was there. Jack would not disappoint him.
“Daniel,” Janet called out as she came to stand beside Jack, making sure Daniel could look at her without having to release Jack. “Your body needs more rest. I'm going to give you a light sedative.”
Daniel nodded. ~Anything to stop me thinking, remembering.~
Jack frowned as he watched Janet prepare the drug. It wasn't like Daniel to accept any drug so willingly. He needed to get Daniel out of here, back home, maybe to the cabin in Minnesota. Then they could start healing his lover's psychological wounds.
When she was sure Daniel was asleep, Janet beckoned Jack over to her office. He came reluctantly, shooting Daniel nervous looks. There was no way Daniel was going to wake up without finding Jack by his side.
“Colonel. I have Daniel's lab results.”
Jack knew from Janet's expression that the news wasn't good.
“I don't know what they gave him, but whatever it is, it's attacking some of his white blood cells and rewriting others.” Janet saw Jack's impatient look. “They gave him something that is acting like a cross between AIDS and Leukemia.”
“WHAT?” Jack's loud bark of reaction caught everyone's attention. He twisted his body around to look at Daniel, sleeping in his bed, and then saw the medical staff approaching, now wearing more protective clothing. “Janet?”
“We have to quarantine him. I'm sorry, Colonel. We have to make sure that whatever is going on inside Daniel is not contagious, and until I know that for sure, he'll be kept in ISO Room Three. No visitors.”
Jack turned to face the petite doctor. Staring her coldly in the eyes, he said, “You are not keeping me out.”
“Doctor Fraiser, you are NOT keeping me out. I'll sign whatever you need me to sign. I'll do whatever you want me to do. I'll stay wherever you need me to stay ... just as long as that's with Daniel. He is NOT going to wake up without me being there. Do you understand?”
“Colonel ... Jack, do you understand what you could be risking?”
Jack smirked. Janet had no clue about his relationship with Daniel and the love they shared. He had no life without the young man lying on the bed. Daniel was everything.
“Yes, I do. Now, I ...”
A noise caught Jack's attention. It was the nursing staff moving Daniel out on a gurney. Leaving Janet standing alone, Jack hurried over to the moving cart and began to go with the staff. A couple of the nurses looked over to Janet. She nodded, knowing there was no way she was going to be able to keep Jack O'Neill away from his best friend.
~They have an unique friendship. Those bonds are so strong. I just hope you really do realize the danger you are putting yourself in, Colonel.~
Jack watched as the staff situated Daniel into ISO-3. A red sign of warning was put on the door, restricting entrance. Jack was given a gown, mask, and gloves to wear. He didn't argue, letting the nurse affix the clothing to him properly.
When they left, Jack walked to Daniel's bedside and looked at the young man.
~I won't lose you. I just found you, Danny. You've made me realize that life is worth living, and that together, we have so much to live for. It's going to be okay. It will.~
Jack sat at the corner of the bed. He reached out to touch Daniel's cheek, but all he felt was the rubber of the gloves.
~I don't think so.~
He removed the gloves, placing them on the side table, and again reached out to touch his lover's cheek. He felt the stubble on the skin, but still felt the softness of his lover.
**I love you, Danny. We'll get through this.**
Jack watched as one of Janet's nurses took some blood from Daniel and left. He steeled himself for the approaching wrath that was sure to descend on him. Sure enough, he could hear the mutterings and angry tones long before the door of ISO-3 was flung open.
“COLONEL O'NEILL!” Janet said in a low angry voice.
She really wanted to yell at Jack, but her first priority had to be Daniel, and she didn't want to wake the younger man. Besides, she was well aware that no matter what she said to Jack, she wouldn't be able to change his mind about protecting himself. Even if she did, it was essentially too late to do any good.
~Stubborn old goat. Geez, I've been such an idiot.~
“Colonel, the gloves and mask aren't just for your protection, they are for Daniel's, too. This virus, or whatever it is, has virtually killed his immune system. Any germs that you might be carrying, that are harmless to you, could be deadly to him.”
Jack looked at her in horror. He hadn't considered that he might be a risk to Daniel. Panic began to rise inside him, and he fought to control his emotions, trying to think clearly.
“Okay, but I've already exposed him to whatever I might have. So donning all this,” he waved at the mask and gloves sitting beside him on the bed, “won't make any difference now.”
Janet sighed. She wasn't convinced of that, but she did realize how it would look to Daniel if he woke up to find himself surrounded by people in masks.
“All right, Colonel, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to quarantine you in here with Daniel now. I'll have another bed brought in.”
“Fine,” Jack acknowledged as he turned his attention back to Daniel.
Janet shook her head.
~Just wait until your next exam, Colonel.~
Janet looked around the briefing room at the shocked faces of Sam, Teal'c, and the general.
“Doctor, I don't understand why you are allowing the colonel to be exposed to whatever this is that Doctor Jackson has.”
General Hammond was surprised at his Chief Medical Officer. Janet was usually so cautious in matters like this, immovable to the pleas of her patients.
“Daniel has been through hell, Sir. I'm not surprised that the woman on that planet, Bolo, thought Daniel would be insane. Most people would be driven to insanity or death by an experience like that. Daniel is stronger than most, but even he has limits, and I think he's pretty much reached the end of his. The colonel helped him get through his sarcophagus addiction, and frankly, I think that Colonel O'Neill is the only person who can help Daniel now.”
“But what of Colonel O'Neill?”
Hammond understood that Daniel needed Jack, but he didn't want to lose his 2IC.
Janet exhaled, shuffling her reports that she held in her hand.
“I believe that forcing the colonel to abandon Daniel now ...”
“He wouldn't be abandoning Doctor Jackson,” Hammond interrupted the doctor, his view different from hers.
“I'm afraid that's how the colonel would see it, General, and he couldn't live with abandoning one of his team.”
Reluctantly, Hammond nodded. That was exactly how Jack would see it.
“Is there anything we can do for Doctor Jackson?”
“I'm not sure. We can try some of the treatments we have available for AIDS and Leukemia, but I'm skeptical that they will work on this organism. We need to learn more about it, but the problem is Daniel doesn't have that much time. This works much faster than either of those diseases.”
“Captain Carter, Teal'c, I want you to join SG-2 and SG-3 and find out all you can about this ... thing. Dismissed.”
“J'ck?” Daniel's head turned back and forth as he woke. ~Headache. Pain.~ “J'ck?” he called out again.
“Hey, right here,” Jack jumped off his bed, a bed he had only just hopped onto a few moments before at Janet's insistence.
Daniel's eyelids blinked several times, and he felt hot.
“Jack, hurts ... bad. Not making it up.”
“I know. Janet is doing everything she can. You just hang in there.”
Daniel looked to the side, slowly processing his surroundings.
“Oh, Janet thought you deserved the best, so you have your own room.”
Daniel knew his lover was hiding something from him. He could see it in the brown eyes that gazed into his, and he heard it in the tone of voice. Jack was working too hard at being upbeat.
“Tell me ... truth.”
Jack placed the palm of his hand on Daniel's cheek, his thumb caressing lightly. Daniel leaned into it, though both knew they shouldn't be this close, but Daniel felt too sick to care, and Jack was too worried to care, so the caress continued, and they'd deal with any fallout later.
“Danny, they gave you something.”
“Drink. Tasted like gravel. Gel. Hurt, but then I felt ... peaceful, like a drug. They gave me something else, too. Wanted to throw up. Couldn't.”
Jack saw the fear in Daniel's eyes. He smiled slightly, his thumb still moving gently along his partner's face.
“Janet doesn't know what was in it, but it ... it wasn't good, Daniel. It's messed up your white cells and your blood. We're in ISO-3, quarantined, so when the nurses come in soon, don't be afraid. They'll be decked out in all that medical garb they're required to wear.”
“Gawd, Jack. You.”
Daniel started to move away from Jack's touch, but the older man wouldn't allow it. He brought his other hand to Daniel's face so that he was cupping it. Holding it firm, making sure Daniel was looking at him, Jack said firmly, “No one keeps us apart. I'm fine. You WILL be fine. Trust me.”
Daniel calmed, especially when Jack sent his silent message.
**I love you, Danny. Love you so friggin' much.**
**Love you, too. Don't want you to get sick.**
**I won't. We'll beat this together.**
Daniel nodded as his body relaxed. He was too tired to fight his lover, and besides, he did trust him. Somehow, everything would be okay.
“Captain Carter, how's Doctor Jackson?”
“Worse,” she answered as she joined Colonel Makepeace in the middle of the town.
They weren't hiding their presence this time around. Though they didn't want confrontations, they needed answers, and hiding wasn't going to help.
“We haven't had any luck. Everyone here seems ... normal. No sign of any Jaffa, male or female.”
“How can you be sure?”
“We've ... checked.” Seeing the captain's questioning look, he continued, “Don't ask, just trust me on this one. The inhabitants appear to be just like the Silner we originally met on the planet.”
“Any sign of Bolo?”
“None. No one has acknowledged knowing her.”
“Let's check out the building where Daniel was found.”
“We've done that, Captain. It's ... different.”
“Perhaps it was not the same building.” Teal'c paused, looking at the town and the inhabitants. “Remember Bolo's warning about the line. We must focus there.” Teal'c concentrated, then pointed -- “There.”
Janet peered through the glass window of the door to ISO-3 and sighed. She wished she had better news. They'd been running tests on samples of Daniel's blood, and the results weren't good. She summoned her courage as she entered.
She smiled at the sight of Jack sound asleep, his head resting beside Daniel's thigh, his left hand clasping Daniel's. The archaeologist was gazing affectionately down at him, but turned to face the door when he heard Janet enter.
He gave her a weak smile, but she could see the pain in his eyes. She whispered so as not to wake Jack.
“How do you feel, Daniel?”
Daniel closed his eyes and opened them, unable to hide his agony.
“Hurts, Janet. Everywhere.” He looked at her for a moment and then at Jack. “Don't want ... Jack ... sick.”
“I know, Daniel, but he won't leave.” Janet shook her head. “I wish he would. I've tried, but ... he's glued to you.”
Janet paused. She knew she needed to update Daniel on his condition. Daniel always wanted the truth, and she owed him nothing but the truth. Still, it was painful.
“I'm sorry, Daniel, but it's ... it's not looking very good. The organism seems to be feeding on the various medications we've given you. No matter what we've tried, the virus is increasing rather than slowing down. It's like the medications are acting like fuel. Even chemotherapy and radiotherapy haven't helped. I'm seriously considering stopping all the influx of drugs into your system.”
Daniel closed his eyes, terrified that he might pass whatever it was onto Jack. He couldn't live with that.
Daniel looked down at his lover, torn between needing Jack's reassurance and support and wanting him to be safe.
“Do ... something,” he begged, his blue eyes pleading with her.
She didn't have the heart to refuse his request, especially with the news she had just given him. She nodded and shook Jack's shoulder.
“Doc?” Jack saw Daniel was awake and smiled. “Hey, how are you?”
Jack shook his head, but before he could ask Daniel anything else, Janet spoke.
“Sir, I need you to leave. We have to perform some tests on Daniel, and you can't be here. I need you to go to ISO-4.”
“Why can't I stay here?”
Jack had no intention of leaving, but a slight squeeze of his hand drew his attention to the figure in the bed.
“It's ... okay, Jack.” Daniel just wanted his soulmate to be safe. **Please, Jack. Just go.**
**I'm not leaving you, Danny.**
**Just for a little while.**
Daniel mentally apologized for the lie. He knew Janet wouldn't let Jack back in, but as long as Jack was safe, that was all that mattered.
Jack sighed, and stood up, his gaze focused on his lover. He prepared to leave ... until he glanced over at Janet. Something in her eyes told him not to move, so like a rock, Jack sank back down to his seat.
“I'm not leaving.” He took hold of Daniel's hand. **I'm sorry, Love. I just can't. I love you. I have to be here.**
The terror in Daniel's voice caught both Janet and Jack's attention. He wasn't talking about Jack's decision. There was something else. It was Jack who first noticed the red seeping into the sheet Daniel was lying on.
He gestured to the blood and began to panic as Janet hit the emergency alarm. A nurse came running in, and Janet began to bark out orders. Jack was shoved back as the medical personnel worked on Daniel. Janet's concern was evident as she examined the younger man.
“He's bleeding from his back. The wounds have opened from where they beat him and where some of the beetles were,” Janet reported as she investigated the bleeding.
~She's scared. She doesn't know how to fight this thing.~
Minutes passed, and finally things settled down. Janet approached the bed once again, having reviewed the latest test results.
“Daniel, there was a problem with your blood not clotting. We gave you some coagulants, and that seems to have worked ... for now anyway. You hang in there, okay?”
“Why? I mean, why just for now? You said 'for now'.”
“Daniel, I'm trying my best, but everything we do seems to feed this thing. We've stopped the bleeding, but ...”
“But what?” Jack asked as he returned to his spot, once again clasping Daniel's hand in his.
“But you've lost more white cells, and now it looks like your red cell count is lowering, too. I don't know what to do, but ... keep trying.”
“I know you're doing your best, Janet.” Daniel tried to smile. He felt his lover squeeze his hand and looked over to see Jack sit down once again in the chair. “Jack?”
“Daniel, I'm not as dense as I look. You and the Doc hatched up that plan to get me out of here, right?” Daniel said nothing. “Well, nice try, but I'm not budging. Doc, tell me honestly, what's the risk to me now? Don't hide anything.”
“Truthfully, I'm not sure how to respond. Look, this is an alien virus that I've already admitted I know nothing about. However, Daniel, the colonel has already been exposed for quite a while, so I don't think there's much risk to him at this point. I can't ... promise anything, but I think if he were going to have a reaction, he would have by now.”
Janet saw the relief on the young man's face.
“Thanks, Doc,” Jack said, and then turning to Daniel, “So no more plans to try to get rid of your old ... CO. My place is here, and this is where I'm staying.”
“Bolo!” Sam exclaimed, seeing the woman in the house Teal'c had led them to.
“You have come back.”
“We need help. Our friend is sick, very sick.”
“I told you that would happen.”
“Bolo, we need to know more about what happened to Daniel, what the drink was. Do you have more?”
“No, it was all Tintra's doing.”
“Tintra? Was she the Jaffa?” Bolo nodded. “Colonel Makepeace, I'd like to suggest that your team search the premises, take samples, and tag them for Doctor Fraiser.”
“Captain, my team are Marines. We don't ...”
“Colonel, would you like me to inform General Hammond that the Marines of SG-3 weren't willing to do all they could to ensure that Doctor Jackson recovers?”
Makepeace sighed, then proceeded to order his men to do as the captain instructed. Sam and Teal'c worked closely with the team, processing everything they could. When they were ready to return to the Stargate, Sam addressed Bolo.
“We'd like you to come with us.”
“I will not.”
“Please, Bolo. You may be our only hope.”
“I will not.”
“But you will,” Makepeace said, aiming his weapon at the alien. Seeing Sam's reaction, he said, “Just doing all I can, Captain.”
“Captain, why did you bring this woman here?”
General Hammond stood looking at the mutinous-looking stranger in robes that had accompanied his personnel back through the Stargate.
“General, this is Bolo. I asked her to return with us through the Stargate to see if she could help Daniel. She refused, and Colonel Makepeace,” Sam shot the SG-3 leader a venomous glare, “thought using force was warranted.”
She and Teal'c walked down the ramp towards the CO of the SGC, followed by Bolo and their colleagues.
“How is Daniel, Sir?” Sam asked anxiously.
Her fear rose at the expression that crossed the general's face.
“Not good, Captain. He's getting worse.” Hammond looked at Bolo. “We, Doctor Jackson, could really use your help.”
Bolo looked angrily at the people that had taken her prisoner.
“I would like to see Daniel," she said haughtily.
“Colonel Makepeace, we'll debrief in ten minutes,” Hammond ordered and then led Bolo, Sam and Teal'c towards the infirmary.
“I do not need that,” Bolo told Janet firmly as she waved away the protective clothing that was offered to her.
“Bolo, it's to protect both you and Daniel.”
“The organism inside Daniel is not contagious, and I cannot harm Daniel further. Nothing can harm Daniel further.”
As much as it galled Janet to admit it, Bolo was right. She nodded and led the alien to ISO-3. Bolo turned and glared at them all.
“I would like to see Daniel alone.”
Janet nodded, adding, “Fine, but I'm afraid you won't be able to move Colonel O'Neill from Daniel's side.”
A slight smile crossed Bolo's face as she gazed at the two men while she slipped through the doorway. Tears came to her eyes at the sight of Daniel looking so ill.
“Daniel,” she spoke as she crossed to his bedside.
“Hello.” Daniel couldn't keep the surprise from his voice, and Bolo was pleased to see the surprise on Jack's face too. “What are you doing here?”
“Can you help him, Bolo?”
Jack didn't care how Bolo got here if she could help his lover.
Bolo gave Jack an annoyed look and began talking to Daniel in Latin, telling him about Colonel Makepeace's actions.
“English would be good here ...”
Jack's indignation was cut short by the expression of anger on Daniel's face as the linguist tried to sit up.
“Daniel, stay still. You'll start bleeding again.”
“Jack, take Bolo back to the Stargate now.” Daniel looked at the alien with sorrow and shame. “I am sorry, Bolo. Please accept my apologies.”
“Apologies for WHAT?”
Jack hated being in the dark.
Bolo straightened as she answered, “Your Colonel Makepeace forced me through the Chaapa'ai.”
Jack winced. He understood Makepeace's sentiment, half approved of it if it would save Daniel's life, but he knew that it was not something Daniel would ever condone or want done on his behalf.
“Look, I'm sorry about that Bolo. I'll get you taken back to your planet, but please, is there anything you can do to help Daniel?”
Bolo looked sadly at the young man.
“I had hoped your people were more advanced and would have a way of helping you. There is nothing I can do. Your only chance to survive is to have a Goa'uld symbiote implanted. It is the only thing capable of restoring your system. If you choose it, I can take you with me and have one given to you.”
Daniel closed his eyes. ~I'd rather die.~ He shook his head at Bolo, then looked at Jack. “Get them to take Bolo home.”
Jack nodded and reluctantly escorted the alien out of the room, but when they were clear, instead of leading her back to the gate room, Jack led her to another of the Isolation rooms, closing the door behind them. She looked at Jack, rage in her eyes, but Jack didn't care.
“Now, you listen to me. I apologize, sincerely apologize and regret that you were forced to come here, but don't give me the victim act. You may have led me to Daniel on that planet, but at the same time, you were one of the women who kidnapped him and exposed him to that nightmare in the first place. Right?”
Bolo stood nervously against the hospital bed on one side of the room. Jack was in full command mode. His words were harsh, his tone stern, and his eyes were full of accusation. He stayed on the attack, going in and out of her personal space as he talked.
“Right,” he answered for her. “You, the Jaffa, and two other Silner came to our camp, a camp we had permission to set up. We weren't doing anything that your leaders hadn't told us we could. You knocked out Teal'c and kidnapped Daniel. You took him to a chamber of horrors, submitted him to all kinds of torture, and finally, fed him who knows what. And you have the nerve to sound victimized?”
Jack's anger was growing as he spoke.
“Well, Bolo, Daniel is a better person than I am. He's much more understanding and forgiving, but I'm not, not when he's lying on what could be his death bed. You are NOT the victim here. He is. Now I want answers, and I want them now.”
“There is nothing ...”
“Oh, yes, there is. You never did answer our questions about what all that mumbo jumbo is. You know more, much more, than you're saying.” Jack walked very close to the alien, his eyes piercing through hers. “There is no friggin' way Daniel is going to be implanted with a Goa'uld, and something tells me you know that. Now, you either tell us how to cure Daniel, or you'll never see your planet again.”
Bolo looked at Jack, full of indignation at his words, but she saw conviction in his eyes, too. Jack was also aware of her emotions.
“You'd better believe it. I'll tear you apart, limb by limb, if that's what it takes to save his life. Now ... are you going to help us ... or does your torture begin now?”
Daniel's finger desperately pressed the buzzer. Janet ran in, full of concern.
“Jack. Where's Jack?”
“He took Bolo out, remember?”
“Yes, but he should be back. Did he take her through the Stargate himself?”
“I don't know, Daniel. I'd be surprised if he did.”
“Janet, it's been twenty minutes. Find him. Please find him.”
Daniel was concerned for his lover. He suddenly realized that Jack had agreed too quickly and easily to his request that Bolo be taken home.
There was no response. Daniel knew that probably meant Jack wasn't close by, but just where he was caused the young man's blood pressure to rise.
Bolo looked at Jack with tears in her eyes.
“I did not hurt Daniel. I've never hurt anyone. I tried to help him!”
“Then tell me what you know,” Jack requested, taking a step closer to Bolo. His voice was steady as he made her a promise. “You are killing him. Tell me what you know, NOW!”
Bolo looked at Jack, and suddenly the fight went out of her. She sat down and said in a defeated tone, “I've heard that there is a cure for Ebara. I don't know where it is or what it looks like. Tintra, the Jaffa, is the only one who does.”
“Why did she take Daniel? What did she want with him?”
“She liked the look of him. She wanted to break him, to possess him. She likes to control people. Once he submitted to her, she would have given him the symbiote, and he would have been at her beck and call for the next hundred years -- her toy.”
There was a trace of bitterness in Bolo's voice as she spoke, and she looked up at Jack with hate in her eyes.
“She saw you both by the lake. She saw Daniel and wanted him. That's all there is to it.”
“Daniel would never submit to her.”
Bolo looked away.
“I sensed that. His soul speaks of kindness and devotion. I, too, saw the love in his eyes. He would not betray you. That's why he would have died.”
“Is that why you helped him?”
Jack was still trying to figure this woman out. He needed to know what motivated her so that he could get to Tintra.
“I helped him because I could.”
“You were one of the ones that took him in the first place.”
“No, I wasn't.” Bolo sighed. “But my sister was.”
Their conversation was interrupted by the sound of the SGC's loudspeakers.
“Colonel O'Neill to ISO-3 immediately.”
Daniel was aching for his lover. He was scared that Jack was going to take out his frustration on Bolo.
“Daniel! You have to calm down. Your blood pressure is too high, and your body can't handle the stress.” Janet looked anxiously at her favorite patient. ~Come on, Colonel. He needs you.~
“J'ck?” Daniel's eyes pleaded with her. He was slipping away. He could feel his body shutting down. ~Odd feeling. Jack. I need Jack.~ He couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. **Love you, Jack.**
Janet tried to rouse the young man and, failing that, began checking his vital signs, confirming what she had already guessed.
“Daniel,” Jack called out as he raced into the room.
Janet, full of frustration and a feeling of helplessness, couldn't stop herself from snapping at him -- “Where were you, Colonel? He needed you.”
Jack ignored the furious doctor and leaned over his lover, once again calling his name -- “Daniel?”
Janet sighed. She was already feeling guilty for barking at Jack.
“He's in a coma, Sir. There's nothing more I can do.”
“I may have an idea.”
Jack looked at Bolo hopefully. His only idea so far was to tear Silinaria apart until they found Tintra and the cure for Daniel. Unfortunately, he wasn't sure it would work.
“You have a Jaffa here?”
“Teal'c,” Jack answered.
Bolo nodded and offered her only suggestion.
“Teal'c and I will return to Silinaria. I think I can find Tintra. If I can persuade her that Teal'c helped me escape from you with Daniel, she will give him the antidote.”
“Why? This is what she wants,” Jack argued angrily.
Bolo shook her head as she responded, “No, I told you. She wants to break him. She will give him the antidote, wait at least a full day, and then begin again.”
Jack looked at Janet and then over to the doorway where Sam and Teal'c were now standing. They'd heard the summons for Jack and, guessing it had something to do with Daniel, had made their way to the infirmary. Jack had heard them arrive just a second ago.
“As I said, Sir, there's nothing more I can do for him. I think this is our best shot,” Janet admitted.
“Fine, but I'm going with you, Bolo. Teal'c can come, too, but I am not leaving Daniel.”
“You cannot come. Tintra will know it is ... not genuine. Remember, she saw you by the lake.”
~By the lake?~ Sam thought. ~I wonder what happened there. Daniel was investigating ... stop, Sam. You don't have time to think about this right now.~
Jack gritted his teeth. Bolo was right. Tintra would never believe he was just handing Daniel back to her.
“Why would she believe Teal'c would betray us?”
Bolo looked apologetically at Teal'c.
“She is a Jaffa. She turned from her god because she wanted to fulfill her own desires. She would believe that another Jaffa who had also turned from his god would be equally self-serving. All Teal'c needs to do is make a request of her, and she will trade whatever he asks for Daniel.”
“Fine. Let's go. Doc, get him ready. Carter, you stay here with Daniel.” **I'll be back, Love.**
A moment later, only Sam and Janet remained at Daniel's bedside.
Janet pulled Sam over to a corner, not wanting to disturb him.
“Sam, did something happen by the lake that I should know about?”
“Oh, I don't think so. Daniel was studying some ruins there, and the colonel went down, probably to bring him back for the night. Tintra probably just saw them arguing in their unique way of doing it.”
Janet smiled, but added, “But why would that cause Tintra to respond to the colonel's presence?”
“I think just because she saw them together. She wouldn't believe the colonel would give Daniel up.”
“I guess that makes sense. Help me get him ready.”
“I still don't like this plan,” Jack grumbled as he watched Bolo walk through the Stargate, followed by Teal'c carrying Daniel.
“Teal'c won't let anything happen to Daniel, Sir,” Sam tried to reassure her CO.
“He'll do his best, Carter, but even Teal'c can't stop things going haywire.”
If there was one thing that Jack had learned in Special Ops, it was just how quickly things could go wrong; and he still wasn't sure he trusted Bolo.
“Hey, Jack. Ready to go rescue the Doc,” Lou announced. Lou Ferretti had come up and slapped Jack on the shoulder. He had a soft spot for Daniel and was glad to be on the rescue team. “He's going to be driving you insane again soon,” he promised.
“I'm going to kill them, Ferretti.”
Lou heard the promise in Jack's voice and nodded.
“I know, Jack. Anyone who messes with the Doc deserves it. Got the syringes?”
Jack nodded and watched as the clock in the gate room ticked over another minute.
~One more, Danny. Please, big guy, take care of him for me.~
Jack supposed he should be grateful that it was Teal'c who was with Daniel. There was no one else he trusted more than the Jaffa to protect his lover. Finally, the last minute of waiting was up.
“Okay, move out.”
Jack led Sam, SG-2 and SG-3 back through the Stargate. He may not have been able to stay at Daniel's side, but no way was Jack not going on the rescue mission.
“Are you certain they will approach, Bolo?”
Teal'c glanced at his dying teammate. He knew that Daniel was running out of time, and if the Jaffa and Siliner didn't show up soon, it would probably be too late.
“Yes. I have told my sister where we are. This,” Bolo held up an orange colored stone, “acts as a homing device. They will be here.”
“How did your sister come to be with Tintra?”
Bolo sighed as she remembered.
“She was dying. Tintra said that she had a way to save her. She didn't mention that the price of life would be enslavement. With the drug she gave Basa was something that destroyed Basa's memory. She doesn't even recognize me any more. I keep trying to find a way to save her, but so far I haven't been able to.”
“Is that why you helped DanielJackson?”
“I try to minimize the damage they cause. I don't want Basa to have to live with causing more deaths.”
Any further conversation was cut off by the approach of the Jaffa and the Silner. Tintra spotted Daniel lying on the ground and smiled. Teal'c was reminded of Apophis as he watched.
“You have brought my plaything back. I hope it is not too late for him,” she said before she bent down and kissed the unconscious man.
~You are a dishonorable woman.~
Teal'c retained his impassive facade and managed to restrain himself from tearing the Jaffa away from his vulnerable friend.
“Fortunately, I have the Frelpta with me,” Tintra said as she withdrew a small flask from her robes and began to pour it down Daniel's throat, pinching his nose to force him to swallow.
When all the contents of the flask were gone, she looked up at Teal'c before letting her gaze rest on Bolo. While Tintra looked elsewhere, Teal'c activated the radio he had hidden in his own Chulakian robes.
“Why did you bring him back? You helped him to escape.”
Bolo raised her chin defiantly.
“I want my sister back.”
“I could kill you where you stand.”
Tintra looked disdainfully at the Silner. Bolo nodded towards Teal'c, proclaiming, “He has promised to protect me.”
Tintra turned her gaze to Teal'c, studying closely. She spoke with a mixture of admiration and accusation -- “You belonged to Apophis.”
“I was enslaved by Apophis. Now I am free.”
Teal'c hoped hisTau'ri friends were on their way. He was very anxious to kill this woman who had betrayed her people by turning her back on them. Apparently, Tintra was impressed with the Jaffa sholva.
“I like you. Join me.”
“No.” A slight movement from Daniel caught their attention. Teal'c gestured towards him, managing to look unconcerned. “He will recover?”
Tintra laughed an evil, haunting laugh.
“Yes, he will. Now I get to break him all over again. This is fun. Perhaps I should always break in my toys this way.”
Teal'c nodded. He had seen Jack, Sam, and the members of SG-3 approach. His disdain for Tintra grew as he realized she did not even have the skills of a warrior, but clearly relied solely on her superior strength and defense shields.
His nod was the signal, and as his team surged forward, he extracted the syringe Janet had given him. Before the female Jaffa had time to activate her shields, he plunged it into Tintra's heart. He held her as she struggled briefly. Soon, the poison he had injected her with took effect, and she slumped to the ground.
~Must remember this cyanide.~
The speed with which the poison had worked meant that the symbiote didn't have time to heal the host. Checking for a pulse, Teal'c was pleased to find Tintra was dead.
While Teal'c dealt with Tintra, the other SGC personal managed to inject the other three women, and they breathed a sigh of relief when the drug Janet had given them worked, the women stopping their struggles and sinking to the ground.
Teal'c walked over to Bolo and checked Basa's pulse, after which he stated, “She is sedated; she will awake in time.”
He walked over to where Jack and Sam were checking on Daniel.
“Daniel?” Jack leaned over his lover, praying to see the blue eyes he loved so much.
“It's going to be okay now. We're going home.”
“Home. Home is ... good.” Daniel closed his eyes, still weak. For a moment, Jack feared the drug wasn't working, but moments later, the archaeologist opened his eyes again and smiled. “Going home?”
“Yeah, if you feel up to it?” Daniel seemed to conduct a self-evaluation of his body. He smiled again. “What?” Jack asked.
“I feel ... fine,” he answered, sitting up.
“Whoa, Dannyboy. Take it slow.”
Daniel nodded, and had to admit, he did still feel weak. Hesitantly, he said, “I ... might need some help.”
“I'm here. I'll help.”
Sam witnessed a smile, not on their faces, but in their eyes.
~Samantha, stop thinking about that. So what if they don't remember yet that they are surrounded by a bunch of military personnel? Big deal if the colonel has forgotten all about the potential danger here. Who cares that Daniel is looking like the only person in the world is Jack O'Neill? Chill, Samantha. You SO don't want to answer those questions.~
“O'Neill, a moment, please.”
Jack didn't want to leave Daniel's side, but was shooed away. Sam immediately moved closer to Daniel, knowing the colonel would want her to watch him.
Several yards away, Teal'c made a request.
“I believe DoctorFraiser might be able to help Bolo's sister. We owe her a debt, O'Neill.”
Jack sighed, nodded his agreement, but added, “Watch her closely, Teal'c.”
Daniel was once again back in his regular infirmary bed as Janet conducted a bevy of tests on the young man. Jack simply watched his lover, not really saying much -- verbally anyway.
**You are so gorgeous. Geez, I love you. My beautiful Danny. Just wait until we get home. I'm going to spoil you rotten. We'll start with a nice, warm bath, just you and me, and then ...**
Janet couldn't understand why Daniel's cheeks were so rosy. If she didn't know better, she'd swear he was blushing, but there was nothing to cause it. She didn't mind, just as long as he was getting better, and he was.
“Well, gentlemen, Daniel's white and red cell counts are almost back to normal. I think we'll keep you over night ...”
Jack and Daniel both laughed, and Janet knew instantly her battle was lost.
“Okay. Colonel, I assume you plan to make sure Doctor Jackson takes care of himself this evening?”
“Absolutely, Doc. You know -- some steak, wine, women ...”
Jack laughed as he bobbed his head slightly.
“Just kidding, Doc. I'll watch him like a hawk.” **Every inch of you. Not going to miss a fraction of your sexy body as I ...**
Janet cocked her head as she saw Daniel break into another rash of red. Shaking her head, she made a notation on the chart.
“You're free to go. Let me know if you notice anything unusual.”
Daniel stopped in the doorway of the infirmary, and Jack was at his side in an instant.
“What's wrong, Danny? Are you feeling okay? Should I get Janet?”
Daniel smiled and shook his head.
“I'm fine, Jack. I just ... I need to see Bolo before I go. Thank her. If it wasn't for her I'd still be ...”
Daniel trailed off, visibly shuddering from the memory of being back in that wooden coffin, the beetles crawling all over him, the total darkness suffocating him. He was brought out of it by the gentle arm slung around his shoulders, pulling him close. He looked into Jack's worried brown eyes.
Jack looked at Daniel, torn between the desire to grant Daniel anything he wanted and the need to get Daniel home and into Jack's arms where he belonged.
~Oh, Danny. Geez, I love you.~ “Two minutes, then I'm taking you home.”
**Gawd, yes, Jack. Home.**
They went to ISO-2 where beds had been set up for the three Silner they'd brought back. While Tintra had been killed, the others, including Bolo's sister Basa, had been injected with a powerful sedative. Jack had been tempted to leave the other two Silner to rot, but knew that if they were under some sort of mind control they really couldn't be held responsible for their actions.
“How are they, Janet?” Jack asked as he guided Daniel to the second chair beside Basa's bed.
Janet smiled reassuringly at Bolo.
“They'll be fine, Colonel. Tintra kept them doped up with low levels of something that seems to work a little like Rophynol.”
“The date rape drug.”
“Much more sophisticated and powerful, but essentially the same. She may have combined it with some type of hypnosis as well. We'll have to wait until they wake up to find out.”
Teal'c came into the room and nodded at Daniel as he affectionately spoke, “I am pleased to see you well again, DanielJackson.”
“DoctorFraiser, what of the illness that Basa had before meeting Tintra? Is she cured?”
Janet sighed and shook her head with amazement.
“From Bolo's description, I would say that Basa had something a little like tuberculosis. The Silners don't seem to have developed antibiotics or its equivalent yet so it would have been fatal.”
“So all Tintra gave Basa was antibiotics?”
Jack couldn't believe that despite the technology the Silner possessed, they didn't have something as basic as antibiotics.
Janet nodded, clarifying, “Well, that and the mind control drug.”
“I am glad you are well again, Daniel,” Bolo said as she gave the archaeologist a small smile.
“Thanks ... largely to you, Bolo. Stay with her,” Daniel nodded at Basa, “she's going to need you.”
Daniel looked up at Jack. Now that he'd reassured himself Bolo was okay, he just wanted to be at home, safe in Jack's arms.
**Take me home, Jack.**
**Nothing I want more, Space Monkey.**
“How's this?” Jack asked as Daniel leaned back against his lover, his head resting on the older man's left shoulder.
They were on the roof deck, a full moon overhead, the night full of stars, and just a light breeze.
“Perfect,” Daniel answered softly. “Hold me, Jack. Gawd, hold me, and don't let go tonight.”
“You're afraid of nightmares.”
Daniel nodded, knowing they'd come. His experience had been much too gruesome to just move on from. He'd had devilish nightmares over less severe events in the past.
“I don't want to sleep tonight. Please, Jack. Just ... hold me, and ... let's watch the stars ... all night.”
Jack kissed the side of his lover's neck as he gently snaked his hands under Daniel's green shirt to caress his abdomen. He leaned his chin forward against his lover's broad shoulder.
“Danny, how about your injuries? Your back?”
“Jack, they don't hurt. I just ... don't want to sleep. The coffin ... the beetles. Just want you.”
Daniel nestled further back against Jack. It wasn't the pain from his back that worried him, it was the nightmares that he knew would be waiting for him when he closed his eyes.
“I'm here, Love, and I always will be!”
Three hours later, Daniel was asleep in Jack's arms, in the same position as they had been in earlier. Jack listened carefully for signs of distress, and he held on to his soulmate to feel for any signs of tenseness.
He saw the Earthen moonlight dancing in his lover's hair and kissed the shaggy mop for a moment. Jack wouldn't sleep tonight. Instead, he'd watch over the young man who had captured his heart and made life worth living. Losing a few hours sleep was an easy price to pay to make sure Daniel was at peace.
An hour later, Jack felt a slight change in Daniel's body. His pulse elevated, his muscles were just beginning to tense.
“Danny?” Jack nuzzled himself into his lover's neck and placed kisses there. “Love, I need you. Need you so much.” Jack's tone was soft, his hands moving more forcefully along the young man's chest, shaking him just so. “Danny, Love. The moon is out, and I need my lover.”
“Hey, I love you. I need you.”
Slowly, Daniel's eyelids fluttered open. He took in his surroundings. He felt Jack's hand running through his hair.
“I fell asleep.”
“For a little while.”
“You ... were watching me.”
Jack only smiled as he leaned forward to place a kiss on Daniel's lips.
“I was doing my job.”
“I was starting to have a nightmare.”
“Do you remember?”
“No. I ... it was dark, but then I heard your voice, and I ran to it. You saved me.”
“I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
“Wanna go inside?”
“I want ... chocolate,” Daniel announced, a big smile on his face.
Jack laughed and nodded, and then the two rose and stood together, kissing for a few minutes before going downstairs. The nightmares would come, but not on this night. Tonight, Jack was on watch, and Daniel knew he was safe. Then again, as long as he was with Jack, Daniel knew he would always be protected. He'd waited a long time for that feeling. Before going inside, the young man took a final look up at the night sky, sending up a word of thanks. It was a thanks for feeling safe and for having the love of Jack O'Neill.
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